Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Demon's Promise

Jasfoup stared at Father Hastock. “I’ll regenerate, you know. It may take me a century or a millennium, but I’ll be back and when I do I’ll find you and I’ll destroy you. Utterly. No redemption.”

“I’ll look forward to seeing you try.” The elf nodded to the demons captors and they released the mechanism that would pour thirty gallons of holy water onto the demon’s head.

“No!” Vixen took a flying leap and kicked one of his captors away, barrelling into the demon and taking the water herself. With one arm freed Jasfoup backhanded the second elf, four inch claws punching through his eye sockets and into his brain.

He raised his eye ridges at the horrified priest. “Stockholm syndrome,” he said, standing back so that he wasn’t splashed as the nun rose. “I guess it didn’t take a century after all.”

The Monks of the Forbidden Word

Vixen paused in her walk through what used to be the monk’s dormitory. She took one hand out of her robes to point at the arch of the doorway, seven feet above their heads. “If they had no heating,” she said, “Why did they have such huge doors? Surely they let the cold in?”

Jasfoup took the cigar out of his mouth. “The Monks of the Forbidden Word were all nephilim,” he said, “the sons of angels and mortal women. The shortest of them was nine feet in height.”

He gave her a nudge with his elbow. “It was a tall order.”

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Heavenly Debate

Felicia dropped a book on the table. It landed face down, showing the quotation:

"You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backwards" James Thurber

“Isn’t that the dichotomy of Heaven and Hell?” Julie looked up, her mouth full of supermarket brand cornflakes.

“Possibly.” Felicia sliced into her rare steak. “I only took Philosophy as a filler course for my degree, but the concept of looking up to the sky against having you face in the mud is a popular one. It’s elaborated upon by thousands of second class religious teachers who try to terrorise their kids into believing everything from brushing your teeth the right way to not masturbating will get you into Heaven.”

“I suppose.” Julie looked blank. “I actually meant supermarket brand cornflakes as opposed to Kelloggs.”

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Intellectual Thuggery

“Thought cannot be separated from me, therefore, I exist. Cogito ergo sum.”

“But you don’t, old son. Your desiccated remains lie in a small hollow in the Panthéon.”

“But by my argument, I am still thinking and therefore I still exist.” Rene took another swig of his wine and burped.

“Define existence,” said Jasfoup, “without referring to an immortal soul which, by definition, cannot be proved.”

“Senses are unreliable. The only indubitable knowledge is that I am a thinking thing. Thinking is my essence as it is the only thing about me that cannot be doubted.”

Jasfoup snorted.

“Thought," the tortured soul continued, “is what happens in me such that I am immediately conscious of it, insofar as I am conscious of it".

“Rene,” said Jasfoup, filling his glass. “You’re drunk.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

For the Glory

Jasfoup handed Harold an umbrella.

“What’s this for?” said Harold. “It’s bright and sunny outside.”

“You’re going to fight angels,” aren’t you?” said Jasfoup. “You’ve got your rod of Plunging, your Tongue of Obsequiousness and your Candle of Absolute Darkness. This is your Umbrella of Despair.”

“What does it do, exactly?”

“It’s for the glory of the angels,” said Jasfoup. “You’ve seen the radiance of them It’s composed of pure radiation and it’ll burn you if you’re not careful. Here, take the Sunglasses of Casual Indifference, too.”

“Will they help?”

“Yes, just don’t wear them with the Knotted Hanky of Futile Hope.”

Tree of Mourning

Jasfoup peeled a sticker off the newly acquired tortured soul and stuck it onto his notebook. John Yardley was literally rooted to the spot. As a successful suicide he was condemned to spend eternity as a tree of mourning, forever tormented by harpies.

A face forced itself through the bark. “What’s that then?”

“That’s my sticker,” said Jasfoup. “It shows that I collected you. When I get enough of them I get another promotion.”

“How are you doing?” John watched as the demon leafed through several pages all full of the tiny yellow marks. He could see that the book was about two-thirds full.

“Better than you.”

Friday, August 17, 2007

Just Business

Azazel smiled and gestured for Raphael to finish his tea. “Wars will always exist,” he said. “The mortals live by violence and the greater the technology, the faster they die by it.”

“While you profit from both sides?”

The fallen one lowered his head in a mock bow. “Of course.”

“You’re incorrigible,” said Raphael. “Four thousand years you were chained and you haven’t changed a bit.”

“And yet I supply you with troops for Armageddon,” replied Azazel with a smile. “You have all the benefits and none of the blame. I am the eternal scapegoat.”

“So few are Christians, though,” the angel said. “Most of those killed go to Sheol.”

“Thus keeping our friend Lucifer buried in paperwork.” Azazel laughed and clapped the angel on the back. “It’s a win-win situation for you, old friend. Can I interest you in some flaming swords? They’re made of top-grade plutonium.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just Dessert

“What’s this?” Harold regarded the small dish Jasfoup placed in front of him.

“Pudding,” the demon replied, sitting at the opposite end of the table. Devious made it specially for you.”

“I notice you haven’t got one.” Harold picked up his spoon and levered off the top layer.

“I don’t have a cold,” said Jasfoup.

“Nor do I.” Harold took a cautious sniff and pulled away, his nose wrinkled. “I’ve never been sick in my life.”

“But you’re still technically a mortal,” the demon pointed out. “This will stop you dying of pneumonia.”

“In August?” Harold took a deep breath and dipped his spoon in. “What’s in it?”

Jasfoup counted the ingredients off on his fingers. “Orange, lemon, rosehip syrup, coffee, blood, green-bread penicillin, ice cream, Echinacea and gravel, topped off with hot vanilla custard.”

“Gravel?” Harold chewed slowly.

“Have you ever seen a troll with a cold?”

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wishes and Fishes

Harold watched the undulating floor, his picked up and hooked over the stretched bar of the chair, well above the waves of carpet that lapped against the edge of the floorboard-pattern linoleum.

The table shifted under the sway of the moving carpet and a teaspoon dropped into the churning carpet. Harold caught flashes of it as it sank beneath the weaves and put a steadying hand on the table to prevent the loss of his teacup.

He looked up at the walls of the kitchen. Had they always been painted such a deep azure blue with fluffy white clouds? He thought not.

“Enough!” he shouted, his voice almost lost among the clatter of a flight of dinner plates looking for scraps. “I wish I hadn’t had prawns for breakfast.”

The sudden absence of sound was as loud as the noise that preceded it. He put a foot cautiously down on the now immobile carpet. One thought over-rided all others as he crossed the carpet to the cupboards.

He was hungry.

Eye Say!

I’ve cancelled tonight. Not literally. The sun will still go down, the stars will still come out and heavy clouds will still roll over and soak the crowds from emptied nightclubs at 2:07 AM. What I’ve cancelled is the date Julie and I had planned. It was going to be a dinner at the Savoy followed by a production of “Writing for Shoes” at the little theatre just off Leicester Square and finishing off with cocktails at the Hellfire Club (I’ve been a member there for almost seventy years. Ironic, really, when I had the pleasure of introducing the previous manager to my variation of Hellfire when he fell down a flight of stair carrying a crate of absinthe.

Why have I cancelled tonight, you ask. It’s because of Julie. She’s put her eye out. Not as dreadful as it seems when you consider that her eye is false to begin with, but it’s the only one she can see with. The other, natural, eye is perfectly attached but since she’s a Dead Mage (as in mage of the Dead rather than, you know, not breathing any more) it sees only the spirit world, which is of little use when you’re trying to watch a mortal play.

We’ve spent the last two hours searching for it. She thinks she put it out with the empty milk bottles, but I have a sneaking suspicion that she put it out with the recycled glassware. Have you ever tried to find an eyeball in half a hundredweight of discarded marbles?

It’s not easy, but the cats-eye ones look great on her.

I dissected the poppet today. Not destroyed the enchantment or anything – I can’t afford to do that until I understand exactly what it does. It was an interesting little beastie, sewn together very simply using blanket stitch on a bit of flock canvas. The face was embroidered in yellow thread -- simply eyes, nose and mouth – and the hair made of a stitched-on section of unspun sheep’s wool.

It was stuffed, as I discovered with the aid of a craft-shop scalpel, with the scrapings of a tumble drier trap. Another oddity in a doll purportedly made in the seventeenth century, but not a worrying one, unless you count the dog hair and polyester fibres amongst the blue lint. Why is lint always blue? I (technically Julie or Felicia) can dry a load of albino white towels and the lint from them will still be blue.

No. The strangest thing about this little bit of witchcraft was the hair used to bind it to Harold. When I met him, he had a regulation short back and sides in brown. When I helped him upgrade his image his hair turned platinum and grew down his back. It was these long hairs that bound him to the doll which makes it no more than three years old.

I can’t get over the feeling that the person who placed this here knows Harold really well. I’d suggest an ex-girlfriend if he had any. It’s not Ada’s style and it’s certainly not Frederick’s. To have made and placed it so accurately implies that it was someone in Harold’s family.

That and the fact that the little calico todger is in exact proportion to the real Harold’s.

Later. X

Ten things I like about myself

Ten things I like about myself, without being funny or disparaging, which rather makes my thought of answering with “Ummm…” rather pointless and not at all funny.

1. My dedication to passions.
Whatever my current passion, I throw myself wholeheartedly into it. At present it happens to be writing and Eastern Martial arts, prior to that it was writing and rapier, before that writing and BDSm, and before that Art and BDSm. I can generally sustain a passion for a few years before I hit my maximum level of expertise and look for something else.

2. My memory.
I can consciously delete files from my memory. People that upset me, or people that have no positive impact on my life cease to exist for me. There are several hundred people who will have met me that I no longer have any knowledge about.

3. Selective Hearing
I can tune out a conversation right in front of me, as long as it’s between two other people and not me. Conversely, and to my detriment, I can be driven to screaming pitch if two conversations are going on.

4. My kindness to animals
Do I have to explain this one? I thought not.

5. My ability to see the potential in the writings of others.
It may be a piece of crap, but when faced with a piece of writing I can see through the future drafts to what a truly great piece of prose it could be. I remember how rubbish I was when I began writing and can see a career progression in others.

6. My intuitive approach to construction.
It may not look pretty, but whatever I build will be artistic and well made. I’m planning to build an outdoor office next year. I’ll order a load of wood and build it on the fly without plans, incorporating whatever I can scrounge and find. And it will stand for years.

7. Neither side of my brain is dominant.
I can do mathematics and English. That might not seem like something to be proud of, but I meet so many people who can do one or the other, but not both, that I think it something to be proud of.

8. Internalisation.
I can rationalise my way out of a paper bag. Seriously, if I can avoid reacting to something when it happens, I can think it through until it ceases to bother me. Jealousy for example. I live in a polyamorous family and can rationalise me way past feeling jealous when one of my partners falls in love with another. Conversely, if something upsets me and I have an hour or two to myself, I can avoid being emotional about it until I can explain what the problem was with logical precision.

9. I have an active imagination.
Essential for a fiction writer, I can create three dimensional characters in my head and imbue them with a personality that isn’t my own. Not all of my characters have a little bit of me in them.

10. I am a Jack of all Trades.
I can do pretty much anything I set my mind to, to a greater or lesser degree. I can mend a cistern but not fit a toilet, build a shed but not a house, quote the bible, but not enter a church.

Not tagging anyone with this. It’s a tough one to do.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Son of the Circus*

It was a small bowl of sand that did it.

Harold had had the shivers for days. He kept turning his head to see if there was someone standing behind him and then shaking his head as is there was a mosquito in his ear. Things kept disappearing. Small things like keys and marbles (Harold lost those for days) and then reappearing in unexpected places like on top of the cistern in the third floor toilet.

He set up a shire to Belquus, the demon of hidden things. It was a simple little shrine on the northern wall of the Keats room (he has several handwritten pages of The Fall of Hyperion in frames) consisting of the aforementioned bowl of sand, a 60-hour church candle, and a wad of £5 notes.

The cash vanished instantly but nothing else appeared to happen until the following day, when Harold found something unusual.

The sand had been sculpted into a tiny castle, complete with postage-stamp flags and a matchstick drawbridge. A depression in the sand showed where someone of three inches in height has basked in the warmth of the candle flame. Harold raked the sand down with a dinner fork and let it be.

At a little after midnight he caught the culprit. One of Jasfoup’s employees, the gremlin who played Judy in his seaside tent, had run away from the circus.


*Title from an excellent book by John Irving

Jasfoup's Blog

Jasfoup now has his own blog . If you want to read it through LJ, go here and add it. I won't see comments unless you go to the originating site to leave them, though.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Theater of Parsimony

There were few things that Jasfoup was inflexible about, but paying – actually handing out money kind of paying – for tickets for an amateur dramatics production of Macbeth was one of them.

“Why should I pay to see it?” he said. “I saw it when it was performed at the Globe in 1610. Bill gave me the tickets in exchange for Act II.”

“But your girlfriend is in it,” said Harold. “Julie’s playing the three witches. Well, her and her two glove puppets.

“There you are then,” said Jasfoup. “If Billy Shakespeare could get me a complimentary she certainly should have.”

Monday, August 06, 2007

An excerpt from the diary of Jasfoup the Demon

A satisfactory day today.

Harold says that I’m mean. That’s a start at least. He swore at me when I swapped the sugar and salt dispensers over and said his tea tasted like the underside of a nun’s bedroll. Swearing is such a petty sin. I’ll have to try harder with him, though his avarice is developing nicely, particularly in regard to his stamp collection.

I did manage to damn three souls today. I say ‘I’ but two of them were actually damned by Harold’s driving. When he cut through that red light I swear that trucker almost had a heart attack. Harold had to do a handbrake turn to miss him and ended up doing forty through the pedestrian precinct. He would have got away with it if that toddler hadn’t dropped his ice-cream on the cobbles. His mother referred to Harold as the son of a Babylonian whore. I wonder what she’d say if she knew that Lilith, the original recipient of the epithet, was really Harold’s aunty.

Harold’s mum was nice when we got there. She still thinks Harold and I are an item and pressed a box of condoms into my hand when Harold went to the toilet. I tried to tell he that it wasn’t like that but she just smiled and patted my arm. She’d made us fairy cakes to go with our tea.

She got a bit flustered when the doorbell rang. Two Jehovah’s Witnesses asked her if she realised that the time of the apocalypse was nigh. She assured them that it wasn’t. Her boyfriend had assured her that there were no plans for it until she’d given birth to another antichrist but since she’d just had a coil fitted so that wasn’t very likely. Did I mention she’s dating my boss?

The JWs weren’t very happy with that. They told her that she was a liar and would be damned to the fires of Hell for all eternity. She called me to the front door and I dropped my mortal disguise for a moment. I’ve never seen Jehovah’s Witnesses cross themselves and pray to Mary before.

When we were getting back into the van to go home, Terry Plank from number 14 asked if I’d got any sweets. I gave him a bag of toffees in exchange for his autograph. It wasn’t cheating or anything. He’s going to be a politician when he grows up so I’m just getting his signature early.

We picked up a balti on the way home. Kali was in the takeaway ordering a take-out for herself and Shiva. She’s lost a bit of weight since I was last in Calcutta; weight watchers is doing her good. She says that the head of an enemy is only 14 points, 16 if he died with honour.

I left him to it. I’m on a double shift tonight because my friend Al-Hasif has a date with Jodie Foster and I offered to do his djinning for him.

Later. X.

I was asked what my...

Online moniker leatherdykeuk

Real name Rachel Green

Age 43

Occupation Chesterfield Housewife (according to the Derbyshire Times)

Location Chesterfield, Derbyshire

What do you write? Satirical Urban Fantasy

What are your current writing goals? To get an agent for books 2-6

When and why did you start writing? About 5 years ago when I began to write about an immortal witch. I still haven't finished that one.

What's your best piece of writing advice? Write. At least 400 words every day.

What three luxuries would you take with you to a desert island? A generator, a computer, and a dog.

What are your Top 5 Favourite:
Films The 300, Blade Runner, Aliens, Hero, House of Flying Daggers
Books The Crow Road (Iain Banks), Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll), The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien), The Broken Sword (Poul Anderson) and The Divine Comedy (Dante)
Foods Rice, Fajitas, Enchiladas, Tikka Masala, Apples
Places? The Gower, Aberystwyth, Strawberry Waters, St. Ives and my own garden.

Which is most like you?
a) animal: Dog (Loyal and fierce)
b) plant Lupin (Wild and charming)
c) piece of furniture Bookcase (Full of eclectic knowledge)
and d) piece of clothing A battered Fedora (comfortable but needs replacing)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Mr. Punch's Sausage

Everybody loved the puppeteer on Wigan Pier. It was a mixture of frivolity and trickery, and never the same story twice. The puppets were not limited to being behind a high shelf but moved freely about the impromptu stage, often several feet forward of the Verona backdrop.

Today, Mr. Punch had got hold of some matches and had set fire to the crocodile, who had left the stage entirely to be rescued by a small child with a can of fizzy pop. He returned to the stage one of his cloth legs, charred beyond redemption, between his wooden teeth.

Jasfoup sat to one side, chuckling. The contracts for the troupe of six gremlins, invisible to mortals even without their Punch and Judy costumes, had been worth every sausage.

© Rachel Green 2007
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Fast Payoff

Vixen studied the stone building of the Church of Redeeming Designers. The structure had been in continual use from its inception in the late 1700s until 1962 when the Church of England had declined to pay for a replacement roof. It had fallen into disrepair after that until the new owner had bought and refurbished the ancient building.

She opened her pack and took out the four bars of C4 and timer. The building had a structural weakness in the pillar that supported the transept. “Nearer My God to Thee” would take on a new meaning at tonight’s midnight mass.

© Rachel Green 2007
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Friday, August 03, 2007

Rejection!

Holy Mackerel! I've actually had a rejection from Poetry.com for my poem 'Dicky Tummy'. They must have heard I was going to enter the Wergle-Flump contest with it.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ignoble demise (200)

Even Jasfoup ducked when the portal opened. Expecting the red-striated skies of Hell, he was taken aback by the sight of blue skies and pinewoods.

Herbert felt the pull immediately.

“No,” he said. “Not there. I refuse to go there.” He hooked an arm around the leg of his workbench as the winds began. Retorts and glass tubes were sucked toward the portal, shattering as they hit the rim of the drain and sending shards of glass spinning through the room. Books and papers joined the maelstrom and the bench shrieked as its wooden feet were dragged across the stone flags.

“You go where you expect to go,” said Jasfoup. “This has nothing to do with my people.”

Herbert screamed as he entered the expanding vortex, his blood and lacerated flesh adding to the swirling dervish of the portal, The bench shook apart and was sucked in as well, a series of bangs telling of its splintering and demise.

Slowly the tornado slowed and vanished, leaving the room empty but for Jasfoup and an orange striped tabby.

“That’s the end of him then.” Jasfoup looked down the drain, trying to see a sliver of sky but there was only darkness. “I’m surprised he fitted in at all, “he said. “It was only three inches across and he wasn’t excessively flexible.”

The cat licked his paw and flicked the tip of his tail in agreement.


© Rachel Green 2007
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Dead Line Chapter 22

The Plot thickens.
Events began to spiral as the disparate characters begin to cross paths. A murderer is revealed, but he died years ago, didn't he?