Friday, October 31, 2008

Like a Vulture, waiting...


Mrs. Williams coughed into her handkerchief. The little girl was still there on the next bench over, watching her every move. She shifted uneasily until she faced her, shading her eyes against the weak autumn sun. “What is it, child?” she said. “Why do you stare so?” She squinted. “Lucy Waterman, isn’t it? From the bookshop?”

Yes,” said Lucy. “How do you do?”

“I’m a bit poorly, love,” said Mrs. Williams. “A touch of bronchitis, according to the doctor.”

“Father says you have a chronic cough,” said Lucy.

“That’s right.”

“And Mr. Jasfoup said that when someone dies an angel and a demon fight over their soul.” Lucy settled in, resting her arms on the polished wood and her chin on her arms. “I’ve never seen an angel.”


Illustration: Winter Waits by Lynn Plourde with illustrations by Greg Couch

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bad Daddy. No Biscuit.

Gillian lingered on the kiss, Harold’s warm mouth awakening the twin desires for blood and sex. Both could wait, however, for she hadn’t seen her daughter since the previous evening. “Where’s Lucy?”

Harold’s face drained of colour until it was as pale as his wife’s. “I took her to the shop with me,” he said. “I forgot all about her.”

“It’s six o’clock at night, Harold,” Gillian snapped. “That’s beyond forgetfulness.” She all but flew out of the door, her running speed easily outpacing Harold’s driving as she raced across the lawns and over the wall into town.

He caught up with her at the shop, breaking several laws to do it, and opened up. They needn’t have worried. Lucy was fast asleep in a corner of the office, surrounded by sweet wrappers, two imps in sugar-induced comas and one slumped over a tome of Dark Fairy Tales..



Image: "Sleeping Child" Francis Luis Mora (1874 - 1940)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Woodland Burial


After the rain had drizzled away to nothing more than a fine mist, Harold let Lucy go out, relieved that the bored child would no longer be under his feet. “Put on your coat and wellies,” he said as she scampered off.

“Smelly wellies,” she said. “Smelly wellies and goaty coat.” She was at that age of linguistic exploration, though her rhyming rarely made sense.

“Be back by lunchtime,” Harold called, pointing at her with the wooden spoon he’d been using to stir the ca
sserole. The door slammed on his words.

Lucy meandered across the eastern lawns toward the woods, dragging her plastic spade with her. One of her mother’s cats left the hallowed ground of the mausoleum to accompany her. Trotting alongside the child with its tail high and the tip bent. As the path climbed it darted ahead, waiting for her to catch up at each twist of the path.

At the top, just before the beech trees occluded the sky, Lucy dug a hole. It took her most of the morning but the ground was damp and easily worked. “Skitty kitty,” she said, puffing with exertion and, pulling off her woollen mittens to dig into her pocket, offered it a Smartie.

It sniffed the sweet and declined, rubbing its head against her hand. She picked it up in both arms, its hindquarters dragging on the floor and dropped it in the hole, using her feet to shovel the earth back in.

“Smelly wellies, skitty kitty, flat cat.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Criminal Acts



Harold jumped as a hand wove around his throat. He could feel the prick of a blade taut against the skin of his neck. Every nuance of the forest became pin-sharp in his senses: the smell of the fungi at his feet, the warm breath of the brigand behind him, the sound of a leaf falling from a high branch on the oak above.

He forced his breathing to slow. “What do you want?” he asked.

“Your money,” cane the low his, punctuated by the acrid stink of an abscessed tooth, “or your life. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to go?”

“Is it?” Harold gulped. He could feel his thyroid cartilage scrape against the man’s arm. “I though that archaic, myself. I think ‘Give us your dosh’ is the modern equivalent.”

“Give us your dosh then.”

“I could if you’d let go. My coin purse is in my top pocket and I can’t reach it with your arm there.” Harold felt the grip relax and he scraped his heel down the attacker’s skin. That gave him the leverage to take a half-step forward, twist a quarter-turn to the left and duck his head out of the man’s grip, holding the knife-wielding wrist and twisting it under and up behind his attacker’s back.

He kicked the would-be thief’s legs out and toppled him to the damp forest floor. “I should be more careful about who you attach in future,” he said. “I could have done you a mischief.”

He twisted the blade out of the man’s grip. “That’s a six inch blade,” he said. “Night black polymer handle, integral torch. £5.99 on e-bay.” He paused. “You know that’s illegal, don’t you? I could report you for having that.”

“Please don’t,” said the man, his voice muffled by fallen leaves. “I’m still on probation.”

Harold dug a plastic poop-bag out of his pocket and wrapped up the blade. “What did you want the money for?”

“My dentist,” said the man. “He’s putting the squeeze on me.”

Harold let go of the man’s arm and helped him up. “I’ll lend you the money,” he said, walking back toward the house. “At a decent rate of interest, naturally….”

Monday, October 27, 2008

Loss Leader


Jasfoup tapped his glass thoughtfully. “When you say ‘free of charge,’ he said, what exactly do you mean?

“Exactly that,” said Harold, pulling the bottle of Beaujolais from the ice bucket* to refill the glasses. “You offer people a satiated desire without any expectation of a signed contract in return.”

“Explain the point again,” said the demon. “It sounds to me like I’m satisfying desires for nothing. That seems like a lot of work for no gain.”

“Quite the opposite.” Harold sat back with a self-satisfied air and popped a piece of bourbon biscuit in his mouth. He chewed slowly and swallowed before elucidating. “How many people taking up the offer are going to be content with just the one experience? How many of them are going to come knocking on your summoning portal wanting a second bite of the cherry?”

“You have a point,” said Jasfoup. “This is like when we were in Asda and that lady gave you a free piece of cheese. You ended up buying a whole wheel.”

“Exactly,” said Harold. “But the best part is the one who don’t come back for more.”

“Why?”

“They’ve trafficked with demons anyway.”

Jasfoup whistled. “Sweeeeeeet,” he said. “You’re not a pretty face at all.”




Illustration from Magic the Gathering card game

Sunday, October 26, 2008

In the Dog House


When Lucy was four she went missing. Most parents would have their hearts in their mouths if their child went missing, but Harold was beside himself. Beside the usual parental fears of traffic accidents and kidnapping, he had visions of her being taken by the goblins, eaten by wolves – though Felicia was almost as frantic as he – or lost through a portal to unknown dimensions.

When she’d been missing for two hours he reluctantly called the police. Sergeant Mike Brandsford made reassuring noises and poked about in the outhouses with a torch. He returned to the kitchen a few minutes later with a broad smile on his face. “Is that your Doberman?” he asked.

Harold grimaced, wanting to say ‘No, it’s a Lucifer Hound actually,’ but instead he nodded politely. “That’s right,” he said. “We have a permit…”

“It’s not that, sir, it’s that the dog won’t let me past. I think you’ll find your little lass curled up at the back of his kennel, fast asleep.”


Based on a real life experience of Shullie, who did the same as Lucy

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Breakfast at the Manor


Laverstone, 1922

Sophia frowned at her reflection which, contrary to expectation, continued to apply face powder, squinting to achieve the appearance of dotty old aunt crossed with just a tinge of faded desirability. She tapped on the glass and her reflection started, smiled sheepishly and caught up with the original. “That’s better.”

She flicked through the three envelopes on the hall table, leaving the two bills – from the butcher and the florist – and taking the third, along with the newspaper, into the Green room where breakfast had been laid out. She rang the table bell and slit open the envelope with her thumb.

“Lag time is slipping again,” she said when Jasfoup arrived bearing a silver tray where a teapot and toast rack nestled like shining doves. “We aren’t anywhere near a breach, are we?”

“Blue moon in three days,” said Jasfoup. “There’s always a little leakage until the two planes align.”

“Tsk. It’s so tiresome. Typical of Lydia, too.”

“Ma’am?” Jasfoup hesitated, the sugar tongs poised over Lady Sophia’s china cup.

“My sister.” Sophia waved lavender-scented writing paper at him. “She’s coming for a fortnight, arriving on the 12:10 from Euston tomorrow.”

“Isn’t that good news, Ma’am? She can assist you when the portals align, surely?”

“Normally, yes.” Sophia began to butter her toast. “But she’s bringing some chap with her. Herbert Glossop.”

“I’m sure he will be delightful company, Ma’am.”

“He sounds ghastly.” Sophia reached for the marmalade. “If he gives us any trouble, feed the blighter to the pigs.”

Friday, October 24, 2008

South of the River


Lucy knew she shouldn’t go south of the river. Harold had expressly forbidden it on numerous occasions but when you could see the glint of a lost treasure and the river ran as slow and lazy and a laden bumble bee, what harm was there?

She carried her trowel ahead of her like a dagger, in case she met any pirates, making her way down the mossy bank to the yellow glint she’d spotted from the north bank. Brambles snatched at her dress and alder seed snagged her hair as she scrambled to the water’s edge and found… an old wrapper from a chocolate bar, and not even one she liked.

When the claws grasped her legs she cried out in fear, a moment before a scaled hand clamped over her face. She jabbed at it with her trowel and it let go with a shriek. Lucy flailed about with the trowel. “Cold iron,” she said, her eyes lit with fear and anger. “It burns like fire, doesn’t it?”

Only when she was safely back across the bridge did she collapse into a puddle of tears. She cried herself out. Better that than let her father know where she’d been.


Image by Jen Emery

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Legacy


Harold picked up the telephone. “You’ll have to take this one,” said Julie’s voice from the reception desk, “It’s School Services, about Lucy.”

Harold waited for her to connect the call. “Hello?” he said. “What’s happened? Is Lucy all right?”

“Mr. Waterman?” The woman’s voice was tinny. “It’s Mrs. Peterson here, from Laverstone First Starts. Lucy is fine, but we do have a problem with her.”

“Oh?” Harold’s relief regarding her well-being was transmuted into trepidation. “What has she done?” he asked. “She hasn’t disproved the existence of God again?”

“Nothing like that, no.” Mrs. Peterson’s voice was icy. “It’s the cats.”

“Cats?” Harold frowned.

“Yes. One followed her to school this morning and it was joined by several more. It’s almost lunchtime now and I can’t send the children out to play because the playground contains every cat and kitten for miles around.”

“Oh,” said Harold, suddenly deflated. “Her mother liked cats.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Un-fun Fair


The daughter of the richest man in Laverstone* was used to deprivation. “I had nothing when I was your age,”** he said, “so count yourself lucky that I give you an allowance at all.”

“It’s not fair,” said Lucy, “All my friends are allowed to go to the funfair.”

“I’m not saying you can’t go,” said Harold, “Just that I’m not paying for it. It’s a complete waste of money.”

“All right. I’ll go and play on the railway tracks,” said Lucy, storming out.

Jasfoup found her in her room, writing furiously in her diary. “Make them the railway tracks of the Ghost Train,” he said, slipping her a fifty.




*Actually, Harold lived as close to the poverty line as he could, saving every penny it was possible to save. He would frequently have no money at all** “Make do and mend” was his motto, though it only applied to other people.

**until he needed to buy something, then he would tell Devious to ‘fetch him a bag of twenties.’***

***and after the first time, Devious knew he meant notes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Imagination


Lucy opened the trunk, inhaling the mixed scents of opium and camphor. Her fingers tightened on the ironwork and cottonwood sides as she imagined her great-grandmother packing it for the last time. When she closed her eyes she could almost see the woman if front of her, young like she was in the photograph in the Great Hall, her eyes shadowed by a straw hat and a katana hung loosely from a wide belt.

The sword wasn’t in the chest but the hat was; wrapped in a silk headscarf, the bowl packed with brittle tissue paper. Lucy tried it on. It was a little big and hung down covering her eyes.

“Use the Force, Luce,” she said, drawing an imaginary lightsaber.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Reminiscences

Harriet tuned out of the Ethernet as her great-aunt approached from the kitchen gardens carrying a trug of freshly pulled root vegetables. There was something wholesome about eating things that had been grown instead of processed – one of the reasons Harriet had gravitated to her father’s side of the family when she left university.

“Aunt Lucy,” she said, “Can I ask you something.”

“Of course, dear.” Lucy put the trug on the table. “Shall we walk in the garden for a little while?”

“That would be nice.” Harriet followed her to the rose garden, feeling the change in Ethernet transmitters as a gentle tug in her head as she passed under the old brick moongate. “Why did you never have a recognised extended relationship?”

Her aunt smiled. “Why did I never marry, you mean?”

Harriet nodded.

Lucy cupped her right elbow in her left hand, and supported her chin with her right. Her fingers tapped across her pale lips as she though. Finally, with much deliberation and pointing her finger for emphasis, she replied. “Many years ago,” she said, “when I was still a glamorous twenty-something, I was told by a fortune teller that love was waiting in the wings.” She chuckled and stepped forward, waving her hand toward the trees. “I’ve been waiting ever since, but I’ve never met a man with wings.”

She paused, turned and smiled. “Not one that was worth keeping for more than a night or two, anyway.”


Painting: "Woman in a Garden"
by Johannes GRENNESS (1875-1963)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Child's Play


Lucy was predisposed to taking a bath less often than either Harold or her mother would have liked. Unless she was physically marched to the bathroom by her ear (as Harold had once done, then guarded the door until she emerged pink and shining) she would leave taking a bath until it was too late before bedtime, promise to bathe in the morning and then ‘forget’.

Why should she bathe anyway? She knew where she’d been.

Unfortunately, so did Felicia. Lucy’s werewolf Aunt could have made life awful for her, but chose not to except upon very rare occasions, like today.

“Lucy needs a bath,” she said, wrinkling her nose. “She’s been digging in the cemetery again.”



Bluboy courtesy of Bluboy comics

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Mushroom House


Behind the stable block is a small brick outhouse. It runs partially underground for thirty yards or so with two raised mounds of earth running parallel along its length. It is dark and dry and overgrown by roses in the formal garden at one end and currant bushes in the kitchen garden at the other.

Lucy discovered it when she was six and allowed to roam the grounds without supervision. Whatever its original purpose – and she had found a stone declaring it built in 1876 – it had become Lucy’s special secret place. Here she kept her money box and her conkers and the tin she’d found in the cellar with the skull inside.

The skull liked it there. It told her secrets.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cold Callers

“There were times,” said Gillian, looking out of the bedroom window, “when a Vampire Queen would look out of her castle and tremble at the sight of an angry mob of villagers armed with torches and pitchforks come to burn the castle down. If you were really unlucky, they’d have hired a Helsing Inc. employee and brought along the crossbows and woodsaws.” She jiggled the baby into one arm and made a sawing motion against her neck. Lucy giggled.

Gillian pulled the curtain back a fraction and looked down to the driveway where a figure was illuminated by the light from the open door. “Now,” she said, “we are terrorized by the vicar selling raffle tickets.”

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Paper Wings


When a little girl screams in genuine pain, everything stops.

Everything excepts hearts that pump adrenaline through a father’s body as he rushes outside, pausing for a moment to determine the source and then flings him toward it. Harold arrived in the kitchen garden a scant few seconds before Jasfoup, spotting his three-year old daughter immediately. He felt sick at the sight of the un-naturally twisted arm.

“I couldn’t stop her,” said an agitated Barghela the gargoyle. "I saw her on the roof here but by the time I flew down she’d already leapt off.”

Harold cradled Lucy in his arms. “There there,” he said, wiping away her tears with his thumb. “Let’s get you inside and see to that arm. Aunty Julie knows someone who’s good at doctoring.”

“I do?” Julie frowned. “Oh, one from the Other Side.” She nodded. “I’ll call one.” She headed back to the house where there was darkness and a pentagram. Harold stood, cradling the child, to follow her.

“What were you doing on the potting-shed roof?” he asked, his voice soft and non-judgmental.

“L-l-learning to fly,” stuttered Lucy, her face wet with snot and tears.

“With paper wings?” Harold smiled. “Come on, lets get you fixed up before your mother sees you.”

Barghela watched them go. “The daft thing is,” he said to Jasfoup, “is that she flew ten yards before she fell.”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Working It


Mr. McKatterick read the sheet of paper, his mouth moving as he struggled to interpret the cursive handwriting on lavender scented paper. When he reached the end he turned it over to check there was nothing more, folded id and returned it to the envelope. He handed it back to Lucy.

“It’s an exemplary reference, Miss Waterman,” he said. “One might almost say flowery.” He laughed at his own joke and Lucy afforded him a polite smile. “My only problem is that it was written before you were born.”

“Great Aunt Lydia,” said Lucy. “Such a joker. I expect she got the year wrong again.”

“And the century.”

“There you go then.” Lucy leaned forward. “I really need this job. Father’s threatened to stop my pocket money if I don’t find out what real work is all about.”

“Very well, I’ll give you a month’s trial.” Mr. McKatterick opened his notebook. “Do you want a morning paper round or an after school one?”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Precocious


Ada poured herself another gin and listened to her grand-daughter playing the upright piano. Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major. The notes fell in a perfect torrent from the ten-year old’s fingers, and Ada was once more reminded how grateful she was to have Lucy at all. She’d been convinced for twenty years that Harold was gay.

The music softened and then rose to a resounding crescendo which made the decanters on the sideboard ring. Lucy turned around, her face shining with anticipation. “What did you think, Gran?” she asked.

“Very nice, Lucy dear.” Ada patted her knee. “But I was never fond of Brahms. Can you play Liszt?”

Monday, October 13, 2008

Published Posthumously


“Made of Win” was, Lucy decided, her great-uncle’s seminal work of erotic poetry, despite her father’s odd choice of title. Published posthumously, it explored the promise of life after death and the probability of the supernatural. Curiously, her father had published a second (third if you counted the book Frederick had self-published in the 1960s) which developed upon the themes of the first, the subject matter of which included pieces about Lucy despite Frederick having died long before she was born.

She preferred the second volume. The pages of the first were often stuck together.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Whispered Answers




Lucy’s first day of school went as well as could be expected. She alienated all of her classmates by being the first with her hand up to answer every question. Contrary to the opinion of her classmates it wasn’t so much that she was a swot but that her new friend Kitty – the girl she’d met in the playground at the start of the day – had been here years and knew all the answers – even the hard sums.

It was just odd that only Lucy could see her.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Birthday Wishes


Lucy bit the tip of her pen, trying to compose the perfect message to her mother. She hadn’t seen her for three years and a tenth birthday was really quite special.

“What shall I put, Dad?” She looked up at her portly father, who placed his mug of tea on the table (at a precise 35 degree angle) and steepled his fingers.

“Write from the heart,” he said. “Your mother will read it where she is. She’ll understand.”

Lucy looked down and bit her lip, an endearing habit she’d picked up from her Aunt Julie. She began to write.

Dear Mom, I miss you. Love, Lucy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Leaving Childhood



Lucy’s seventh birthday was the saddest of all. Despite the decorations and the presents and the huge ninja-rabbit birthday cake made by Kirsty’s Creations in Top Street, Lucy cried her way through the morning.

She managed to dry her eyes long enough to open her presents and enjoy the jelly and ice-cream and party games but a 11:00PM precisely (she was allowed to stay up late specially) her family lined up to say goodbye.

Julie and Felicia gave her big hugs – and Mr. Jasfoup, too – because although they were staying, Lucy would forget what they looked like. Great Uncle Frederick mussed her hair and Devious and solemnly shook her hand. Worst of all was her mother. Gillian remained aloof, giving her daughter the briefest of hugs before turning away.

At 11:11 PM, the very minute she turned seven, Frederick, Devious and her mother disappeared, Julie and Felicia became middle-aged women, Jasfoup became an aging businessman and her father…

…her father stayed just the same, and wiped away her tears.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Play Ground


The new girl stood at the edge of the playground, holding her father’s hand and wishing that the maelstrom of whirling figures and noise – her peers and associates for the next decade and a bit – would just give her a glimpse of the eye of the storm. Lucy felt Harold’s hand squeeze hers, the signal for release like the pilot of an aircraft giving the nod for a skydive.

She just hoped the chute opened.

There! By the corner of the building – between the toilets and the recycling bins – a lone figure stood, tiny against the hurricane of older girls. Lucy let go her father’s hand and was swept into the whirlwind of taunts and dares; of crisp wrappers and lollipops and homework excuses. She struggled through the storm to the oasis of the girl she had spied, the last new girl – the one that died.



painting by Mark Ryden

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The First and Last




Lucy sat with her back against the tree and smoothed her skirts over her legs. Her black pumps and stripy stockings that her father had bought for her peeked out from the hemline. She placed her hands together in her lap and closed her eyes. “Well?” she said aloud. “I’m waiting.”

Spender crept closer until she could feel his breath on her face. It smelled of moss and woodland streams and made her think of the woodlouse on her bedroom windowsill earlier that morning. The suspense was killing her. She opened her eyes again. “Well?”

Spender sat back on his haunches. “This is your first kiss, isn’t it?”

“Of course not.” Lucy looked at him and sighed, all her careful preparations forgotten. “Why do you ask?”

“You have your lips clamped together.”

drawing by Lisa Christiansen

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Infidelity


As Jenny Barker hefted her suitcase along the path she tried not to think about what she left behind in no 27. The remains of her husband and his companion would haunt her for the rest of her days. Her dreams, she knew, would be populated by the images of body parts nailed to the walls in a gross mockery of a Damien Hirst sculpture. At least she’d had the foresight to clean all traces of her entry away and rescue he daughter from the insane chaos. She bumped the suitcase down the steps to the station. Who knew a six year old could be so heavy?

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Gap in the Line


Bishop Wolsey cast furtive glances at the barred and bolted door, hold tight to the wooden cross he was given when he left office.

“By Michael, Gabriel and St. George, they can’t get in. By Michael, Gabriel and St. George, they can’t get in. By Michael, Gabriel and St. George, they can’t get in.”

His fingers tightened on the polished oak, tips whitening under the pressure. His mantra wasn’t enough to keep the demons out but the line of salt – laboriously gathered from individual cafĂ© packets – should do the trick. The wouldn’t let him have a bag of salt from the kitchens.

The scent of burnt matches filled the room and he opened his eyes, heart hammering. The gentleman seated on the bishop’s cot – exquisitely polished boots resting on the desk – put down his silver-topped cane and smiled.

“One of those packets was sugar.”

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Well Connected


Devious wasn’t sure how to defend against a spirit animated by vengeance. Particularly when it had John cornered in Bramble Grove with nothing but an old fallen tree to defend himself. He watched helplessly as the apparition, clothed in mud and bone and -- inexplicably – a pair of striped pyjamas closed in on his favourite son.*

John backed away until his back was pressed against the chalk cliff and cast anxious glances at his father. One touch from the apparition would destroy the delicate bond linking him to the mortal world.

“Pick up the tree branch,” shouted Devious. “Log it.”



*Don’t let Delirious hear that.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Pirate's Catch


Lucy pressed her face against the banister rails, clutching two of them with her tiny hands in a parody of the archetypal prisoner, and stared down into the Great hall. Couples were waltzing to the music of an old-time band, raised especially for the purpose by Uncle Jasfoup. He knew all the best people. Her mother looked fantastic as the 2nd edition Disney Snow White (Lucy’s favourite film of 2011) and her father was dressed as the dashing hero, Darth Vader.*


She stood to see the entrance of her Gran and Grandad, leaning on the rail and stretching to see their fabulous angel costumes. As they passed under her the banister cracked, pitching her forward to fall the twenty feet to the parquet flooring…


…and landing safely in the arms of the Pirate King.**


“Ah, me’ hearties,” he said. “I has me the catch o’ the day an’ I claims a dance wi’ her.”


Lucy gathered her nightdress in one hand and stood on his boots as her glided across the floor, and not a mention was made of how late to bed she was.



*Aunt Julie and Aunt Felicia had come as Thelma and Scooby-Doo, though why Aunt Julie was carrying a big axe and a wooden stake was beyond Lucy’s ken.

** who bore a suspicious resemblance to her uncle.



Painting by Emily at The Black Apple

Friday, October 03, 2008

Idle Talk


“There’s something pure about a beach in October,” Jasfoup said, making hoofprints in the sand at the water’s edge. “A pristine beach with nothing but dead jellyfish and driftwood for company is the perfect time for reflection.”

“What have you got to reflect on?” said Harold, stooping to pick up a particularly rare spiky conch. “I thought you had the perfect life?”

“’Had’ being the operative word.” Jasfoup crushed a crab into the sand. “Then I met you.”

“I thought you liked our life together.”

“I do, Harold, I just feel that temptation is passing me by. I feel stuck in a rut.”

“I know that feeling,” said Harold. “Nothing ever happens in Laverstone.”

“Blue moon next year,” said Jasfoup. “That’ll cheer us both up.”

Harold frowned. “Why?”

“You’ll have to fight the Faery Queen for your life.”



Illustration by Judith Stein

Thursday, October 02, 2008

All Sorts


“You’d think imps were an endangered species the way those two carry on,” said Jasfoup, closing the door on the television lounge where Wrack and John were engaged watching the latest leatherman DVDs. “Breaking news, lads, there are thousands of imps and not likely to be a shortage any time soon.”

“Besides,” said Harold. “They’re both male.”

Jasfoup frowned. “So?”

“Doesn’t there have t be a female imp involved?” Harold shrugged. “I remember John’s mother. I wish I didn’t.”

“Vile.” Jasfoup nodded. “She was, too. She put sweeteners in my tea once.”

“There you go, then. They need a female to breed.”

Jasfoup shook his head. “No,” he said. “They could always adopt.”




Painting 'We Three Kings' by Brian Whelan

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Extended Lunch


Nothing would tempt Harold to resume work on Tuesday. “When all the clocks stop at 1:12 PM,” he said, “there’s something very spooky going on.”

“But Harold,” Jasfoup pointed out, almost stabbing him with the blunt end of a baguette, “you’re the Prince of… well, if not actually darkness then at least a sort of dusky twilight. What can you possibly be afraid of?”

“It’s not that I’m afraid,” said Harold. “Not as such. It’s just that until the clocks start up again I consider it lunchtime.” He glared at the three imps tucking into a large bag of cod and chips from the Olden Plaice fish bar. “Except for you three,” he added. “You lot can have a working lunch.”


Image by Brian Whelan