Friday, April 30, 2010
It was easy enough horizontally. It stuck to the chap's hair and once he'd made a complete circuit it stuck to itself, enabling to wind the roll over the mouth, the nostrils and the eyes. The other way was harder. It wouldn't stick to the gooey mess where the head used to be attached to the neck. He could let the thing dry a bit... no, he hadn't time. He contented himself with several vertical loops – enough to stop it sticking back on. He dropped the package into a felt shoe bag still stitched with the name : 'Johnny Woodhead Class 3C' and added two half bricks.
The whole thing made a satisfying splash in the river and sank immediately. He watched until there were no more bubbles and then turned. On the ground, the headless corpse still twitched, the fingers curling and uncurling in the moonlight.
Jasfoup hefted the axe. This was getting tedious.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
"An exchange," said the man, tapping the cover of the book as if there were a point to be made. "I bought it and my wife bought me a copy as well." He gave a bark of laughter. "Serendipity."
"Then I suggest," said Harold, pushing the book back toward the customer, "that your wife takes her copy back instead."
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
"They are staring at you and pointing," said Harold, "but it's got nothing to do with the dog hair. What do you want me to do about it, anyway? Get a kennel?"
"That would certainly help."
"Isn't that a bit harsh? She's your sister. She can't help being a werewolf."
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
"Don't take the top off," said Jasfoup. "There'll be untold consequences."
"Yes. A smell of sour milk and old crabs," said Harold. He shook the bottle, causing the lump to lurch from side to side.
"Not just that," said the demon, "but I trapped the devil that possessed you inside there. Let him out and he'll be free to find rebirth in some careless black-lipsticked teenager."
"There's a devil inside here? Like a djinn in a lamp?"
Jasfoup nodded. "Only without the three wishes, yes. Unless your wishes were 'rip my face off and dance on my bones."
"That's only two wishes." Harold gazed at the bottle. "Perhaps the third wish could be something more lucrative."
"Like 'rip everybody's face off?" Jasfoup shuddered. "I wish I knew what to do with it."
Monday, April 26, 2010
"Itth Lane," said the rasping voice from the shadows of the back seat. At least he'd moved out of the light from the street. That was a blessing.
"Itth Lane," said the voice again, agitated now. "'E'ind the canal turnin' 'oint."
"Pitt's Lane? You should have said." Tom clicked the odometer and pulled off, red neon numbers clicking away the fare. He opened a window when the smell permeated the interior of the cab. He'd hung three of the cardboard air fresheners in the back but it wasn't enough. "There's a surcharge if you soil the cab," he said. "Fifty quid. More if there's a stain I can't get off."
"Ith all righ'," said the voice. "I brough' my own theet to thit on."
Tom, somewhat mollified, shook his head and continued driving. He hated zombies.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Charlie 'The Squeeze' Mackay looked at his companion and winked. His large friend, Jimmy 'The Spike' McFallon nodded and grinned, displaying his mis-matched teeth. "I believe you owe our employer a substantial sum of money."
Gordon frowned. "You must be mistaken. I transferred the money to him thirty minutes ago."
"That's not what he told us yesterday," said Jimmy.
"Well he wouldn't have done, would he?" said Gordon. "I've just paid it now."
"Hold on a mo," Charlie pulled out a buzzing mobile. "I've just got to answer this. Entertain yourselves for a minute, would you."
Jimmy waited until Charlie was out of earshot and pulled his knife out. "Entertain yourself, he said. That means doing something that makes you smile." Much to Gordon's distress, what made Jimmy smile was to stick his knife into people.
Charlie returned a moment later. "That was the boss, Jimmy. He says not to off Mister Chal... never mind."
Saturday, April 24, 2010
"The southern steppes of Ukraine, I think," said Jasfoup, adjusting his trousers. "She must live in those mountains to the north."
"It's a bit chilly." Harold stamped his feet and rubbed his arms. "What have you got planned for the return journey?"
"Planned?" Jasfoup frowned. "You said you wanted a ride to 'somewhere southern in Europe' on the back of a dragon. You didn't say anything about 'and back again'."
Friday, April 23, 2010
She didn't remember the razor blade. She wouldn't have known where to get one in the first place but there it was. A sign. Locking her bedroom door and putting on a Sisters of Mercy CD, she sliced her wrists halfway to the elbow, squeezing her eyes tight against the pain. Proof of the supernatural arrived within minutes.
Azrael, the Angel of Death.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
"But dad! I have to read 'Hard Times' for school and it's... well... hard."
"The point is," said Harold, "it's past times for your bed. Besides, there's a 'Cliff Notes' on the shelf."
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
"Thank you." She held out her glass and he filled it, tilting the bottle just so; the ruby liquid spilling into the tulip in a swirling stream of rich promise.
"It's a little dry," he said, "but it goes very well with the cheese and olives. Perhaps I could tempt you to some mushroom patè?"
"I'll pass, thanks." Her face formed a rictus as she took a sip of her drink. "Dry, did you say?" She waited a moment until her eyes had stopped watering.
"Indeed." He read the label. "I got it from the deli. 'Vin è gar'."
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
"Yours," said Julie, dipping her hand into a packed of cheese and garlic crisps. "I fancy an Indian, personally."
"You fancy anything with a d—er... sausage," said Felicia, one eye on the child in her high chair, tucking into a bowl of vaguely orange mush."
"Indian? Sure." Harold opened the freezer. "Lamb curry do you? We've got a shank of meat in there and some vegetables and spices." He opened a cupboard. "Plenty of spices, too."
"You mean you're going to cook it personally?" Julie offered a raised eyebrow. "I'm impressed."
"Yes," said Harold. "I'm personally going to order Devious to cook dinner for four."
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
"I'm writing a novel," she said. "It can't be that hard, surely? Speccy Stevens' dad writes them and he's really creepy. If creepy people can write novels then normal people like me can, too."
Harold patted her shoulder, wondering when he should tell her she was artificially inseminated by a fallen angel, her father was a half-demon, her grandmother a faery and her birth mother a vampire. He left her to it, wandering into the kitchen to make them both a hot chocolate. At least she didn't read Stephanie Myers.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Ada hated having guests in the house. It wasn't that she had a messy house (she had an imp to clean and dust*) but that it was very ordinary. She had no need of the trappings of modern life (apart from a 42" telly and an espresso machine) but Harold, now hoping to be elected mayor, often brought people round 'for nibbles'.
At least that was a task easily accomplished with enchantment. None of the guests ever suspected the buffet was really just cheese hoops and ant's eggs.
* and do the washing and drink all the coffee and throw up in her BEST bedroom slippers
Friday, April 16, 2010
Harold stuck his nose in the air. "Nothing," he said. "Can't a man bring his beloved a bouquet of flowers when he feels inspired?"
"Of course he can, but those..." Jasfoup showed his contempt for the mixed carnations and roses, "are from the late garage on Mycroft Road and can only represent guilt. I ask again. What have you done?"
Harold's bluster deflated like the Hindenburg. "I ran over one of the cats this morning."
"I see." Jasfoup stared out of the window. "They're Gillian's cats, though, you should apologise to her."
"I will. That's what the flowers are for."
"Oh?" Jasfoup frowned. "You never bring me flowers."
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Marianne shrugged, causing the mattress to ripple. "God talked to her as well. It seemed like a good idea."
"He used to tell her to slaughter the English, though."
Marianne shrugged. "More wine?"
"No, ta. How did you get a photo of her though? Didn't she die ages before cameras were invented?"
"Course! That was at Madame Tussaud's in London. Look, the ticket stub is pushed in the edge of the frame."
"Oh! I wondered what that was. I thought it was a bit o' curry."
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
"The junction of two spirals, 137.52 degrees apart," said Jasfoup. "I showed that to Leonardo of Pisa, once, and it blew his mind. He wrote a paper on mathematics on it."
"Sort of. On the seeds, anyway. Count the seeds on a sunflower spiral and you'll get two consecutive numbers of the Fibonacci sequence. 21 seeds and 34; 55 and 89 or even 89 and 144 for a really big one."
"You've made me want a pineapple."
See also: Living with twisted willow: Sunflowers - maths, art and the pineapple
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Harry hitched up the legs of his trousers and squatted. "Where did you get that then?" he asked. "They're not even due out until September, ready for the Christmas rush. Was it a post-production gift?"
"A what?" The boy, seeing an adults interest in something he own and equating it with the knowledge he had of his father, sank his hand into his anorak pocket, burying the sonic screwdriver safely out of sight.
"Post-production," said Harry. "Did you get it on a studio tour?"
"Nah. My auntie Jennie give it me." The lad handled grammar like a professional footballer with the ref watching. "She was second assistant cameraman on the set and swiped it after filming."
"You mean it's real." Harry tone shifted to reverential. "Can I see it?"
"It's only a prop," said the boy, drawing it from his pocket but keeping a tight hold. he switched it on, revealing the series 29 green light beam. "Only real time lords have real ones."
Monday, April 12, 2010
“Knock once for yes, twice for no...”
She glanced anxiously about and almost jumped out of her skin when the phone rang. She scrambled to answer it and was relieved to find her nephew Pelham on the line. “Yes?” she said. “What do you want. I’m busy communicating with the Other Side.”
“Well I wish you’d take your mobile off silent,” he said. “I’ve been trying to ring you.”
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Beryl looked in at the chippy on the way home. "Could you just do me a bit of bread and butter?"
Mrs. Rakesh nodded, the buttered cobs already in a Tupperware container waiting to be sold. She took one out and wrapped it. "Fifteen pence," she said.
Beryl counted the change in her purse. "Would you put in a few chips for an extra ten pence?"
Mrs. Rakesh clicked her tongue against her teeth but opened up the bun and shovelled in a few chips. She wrapped it in paper .
"And a bit of salt and vinegar?" Beryl raise her eyebrows hopefully.
Mrs. Rakesh hissed and threw an apologetic glance at the rapidly forming queue. "Here," she said. "Twenty five pence."
Beryl smiled. "And for the other twenty-five in a fifty, have you got a fish cake. One that's overdone, perhaps, and you can't sell?"
"Yes. Here. You go now." Mrs. Rakesh was discomfited by the old woman and the line of onlookers.
"That's marvellous. Thank you." Beryl paid with a twenty pound note and waited for the change.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
"There isn't," said Jasfoup, "though there used to be. It was closed by King John in 1208 after he fell out with the Pope. The monks were dispersed under pain of death and the priory was dismantled. Many of the oldest houses in the village were built of priory stone. The lower cellars here were constructed from them."
"They're asking for volunteers to excavate the ruins. I've signed up."
"Why?" Jasfoup sat down and patted Harold's hand. "There's nothing there but ghosts and memories best forgotten."
Harold showed him the page he was reading. "And the Palimpsest Bible," he said. "It's rumoured to have been brought here by Richard the Lionheart in 1194."
Friday, April 09, 2010
"But it'll only take you a few minutes. You know what I'm like. Give me a box of pins and needles and I'm more likely to make a lethal knuckleduster than sort out a hem line.
"Fliss, I said no. " Marianne shook her head. "Why do you always come to me with these trivial problems?"
Because you're my best friend? And you live downstairs?"
"The answer's still no."
"Are you sure? Hmm? Not even for your best friend in all the world who'll take to Tuscador's tomorrow?" The sight of Felicia trying to look coquettish in spike heeled boots and a leather bustier was enough to prompt a snort of laughter from her friend.
"Tuscador's the Spanish-French restaurant you need to book a table three months in advance for? Marianne groaned. "All right. Hand me the sewing box."
"Keeps you healthy, not young." Jenna called from the bedroom where she was putting on her own make-up, there not being room for two in the bathroom. Felicia small apartment was described as 'compact and bijou' in the letting agent's brochure, but that's not the term Felicia generally used. 'Poky' more like. "Haven't you ever met Mikey?"
"The one with the bike?"
"No, that's Ronny. Mikey's the old guy."
"Yes, but I thought he... you know... got changed at that age."
"Gods, no. He became a wolf when he was seventeen. In the sixties."
"So we just age as normal?"
"Not exactly." Jenna poked her head through the door and for the first time Felicia notices the first blush of grey in her friend's auburn hair. "We grow old disgracefully." She reached forward, a pair of tweezers in her hand. "You just have to remember to pull out the whiskers when they hit three inches."
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Julie leaned forward over her lunchtime Feta salad. "He went to see Madame le Pardo and had a tarot reading. You know she always tells the truth."
"Oh dear! That'll serve him right for not coming to see me." Meinwen dropped a sprig of thyme into her cup of hot water. "What did she tell him?"
"He sad the first card she turned over was 'The Fool'."
"Well that's good. That's the start of a journey. What else?"
"The other nine cards were The Fool as well."
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Eric Chambers shook his head. "I can't be certain until I've checked his dental records," he said, "but all the indications point to it.. Look at this." He held up an evidence bag containing a block of melted metal. "Do you know how hot a fire has to be to melt silver? This was a crucifix once. You can see the imprint on his chest."
"And this lace pattern over his skin?
"Lace." Eric laughed. "My guess is he was wrapped in it to get his body from the vicarage to the bonfire."
"So how come his back wasn't burned to a crisp?"
"Luck. The wind shifted in the night and took the fire out. He fell face down and was eaten away slowly by the hot embers. A bit like banking a fire for the night."
"I'll stick with coal, I think."
Monday, April 05, 2010
"Patently not rowing a boat, obviously," said Jasfoup, "seeing as she called us because she'd dropped them in the water."
"But why was she on the lake at all, several hours after the park had closed?"
Jasfoup coughed. "She was feeding the giant squid," he said. "She asked me not to tell you, but since you're going to find out anyway..."
"Giant squid? What giant squid?" Harold was staring at the demon so hard he ran over Mrs. Peterson, but didn't worry about it since she'd died when he was twelve and had spent thirty years crossing Baker Street at this time of night.
"It's the one from the lake at Hogwarts," said Jasfoup, sadly. "It was made redundant when they finished making the ninth film."
part one here: Laverstone Tales: Nautical Terms
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Okay, so he got the night shift where the store was closed and his job was to check the stock and re-file all the books the public had mis-shelved. There was so much work to do that he didn't have time for a lunch break and by the time his shift ended he was so tired he couldn't remember going home before he was back again. He never got to read more than the title, author and ISBN number and couldn't remember the last time he'd been to a Happy Readers meeting.
They remembered him, though.
On the first anniversary of his death the meeting broke up ten minutes early to open a bottle of wine and toast his memory. "To Kevin," they said. "Wherever he is, he'll have found a bookshop."
Kevin re-shelved an Oxford Press first edition of the Bible, disgusted at the way some customers treated the books. This one, for example, had a long-fingered handprint burned into the cover.
Saturday, April 03, 2010
"My desk drawer. Exactly." Julie pulled it open. It was stuffed with files pertaining to the shop's inventory. "It left me no room for the files."
"I think it's ugly," said Harold. "Can we put it somewhere else? Under your desk, perhaps?"
"What should I do with my feet then? Chop them off?"
"You could use the box as a foot rest." Harold smiled, hoping this would end the conversation. Julie deflated and was about to capitulate when Jasfoup appeared.
"Lost and found box? What a splendid idea."
"Is it?" Harold rolled his eyes. "Why?"
"People often take something they'd never lost in the first place," said the demon. "We can mark them as Hellbound."
Friday, April 02, 2010
DI White had never been so tempted to start smoking again as he was now. He glanced back at the body , what they'd found of it.
"I know sir." Peters gave him an upward nod. "The lengths they go to, trying conceal a body, then do something as stupid as tossing the blood-caked bin bag they carried it in under the hedge."
"We're luck a dog found it and not a fox or a badger." White took several calming breaths to stop himself asking DC James -- JimJam to his friends – for a cigarette. Beryl would do her nut if she smelled it on him. "What I meant, though, was we've had three murders in the space of a week, each one with a different m.o. and nothing to tie the victims together."
"There was the..."
White cut him off. "I know Mr. Stephens was bound in rope and we are investigating avenues of inquiry in the fetish scene. That's not what I meant, as you very well know."
"Yes sir. Sorry." Peters tapped his notebook with his pencil. "No ID on this one yet, other than the obvious Caucasian male with red hair."
"How do we know that?"
"Did you not have a shufty, sir? We've found his torso with his wedding tackle mostly intact. Natural redhead, trust me."
"Yes, sir. It had been cut along the shaft." Seeing his boss turn green was worth every moment of Peter's own discomfort, earlier.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
While he was generally deaf to the concept of hints for birthday presents, unheeding of the call of a crying child (as an 'involved' father he could tell the difference between genuine distress, attention seeking, and full nappies) and oblivious to the parched gags of a demon desperate for tea, he could nevertheless hear the distress call of a book at over a hundred yards.
He could distinguish between the ripping of a page, the taking up of damp from a puddle, and the satisfied hiss of a fungus spore making a landing on a cotton flocked cover.
"It's a gift," he would say, handing Lucy to a complete stranger while he brushed the dust from a discarded Agatha Christie.