Adventures In Remote Viewing: Gnostaligia

The longing for a distant place also necessarily involves a separation in time.’

*The Galactic Centre is ‘home’ for Aeon Sophia, Clicky… /lights up… according to the Gnostics… /drags… and Lashy… /streams smoke…*

*Connecting Veras? …/winks… Nice syncing, Clicky…*

Last evening, Dear Reader, Cade Fon Apollyon and I remote viewed an old movie from 1972. I hadn’t seen ‘What’s Up Doc?’ since I was a teenager, lying on the front room carpet, surrounded by family, watching it on the telly…

*Igneous rock teaching humans how to sing… /deep drag… And Judy was my mother’s name… /flicks ash… Plus all the 4th wall breaking… /plumes smoke…*

… It got me to thinking about John Lamb Lash’s Fallen Goddess Scenario, an how homesick the Aeon Sophia probably feels…

*Whether she was tripped, jumped or fell from the Galactic Centre, the Gnostics referred to Sophia’s fall as an ‘accident’, Clicky… /clears throat…*

… How many billions of years she would have traveled, and will still have to travel to reach her home…

 

*Oh yeah, Lashy mentioned a dragon… /stubs butt… Cosplay’s the thing…*

… And that she must get lonely sometimes…

*Did he say ‘alright’ or ‘all right’?*

*Pfft… /rolls eyes… That election was rigged as fuck. Blatant…*

*Um… /thinks… I fink you mean censure knot censor… /pats snout… I guess it’s a similar effect for President Trump, Clicky. With a touch of underdog… /winks…*

… Ooh, that reminds me, Dear Reader. A couple of weeks ago, Leg Iron Books published all my Underdog Anthology stories in one volume…

… Currently it’s ranked 32,656 in ‘Erotic Literature & Fiction’ at Amazon…

*Jus’ free pence short. Yikes! My first ever royalties…*

… The Underdog Anthology, numero XIII is due out this weekend. I have a brand new story in there. It’s a follow-up to ‘What Time Do You Finish?’…

*And how! …/smirks…*

And there will be a new Missive From ‘Merica from Cade the Okie Devil of Text US, here tomorrow. Woo Hoo! 😀 We’ll see you then and… Have a Song 😉

Story Time: What Time Do You Finish?

*Ha! I saw your spoiler post in the week, Clicky… /lights up and smokes… You are really enjoying this US election, aren’t you…*

*Eww, that’s what that smell is… /wrinkles nose… Go and have a bath. I’ll take it from here…*

Happy Halloween, Dear Reader 😀 Today we are delighted to present for you my short story from Underdog Anthology XII: Mask-Querade

… called ‘What Time Do You Finish?’. Now, if you like it, Dear Reader, you might want to invest in a copy of the anthology, as it is chocked full with stories far creepier than mine. Enjoy! 😉

*******

What Time Do You Finish?

By Roo B. Doo

It is said that Halloween is the time of year when the veil between dimensions is worn at its thinnest. In the year 2020, when a global viral pandemic, violent rioting and supermarket socially distanced queues dominated everyday life, that boundary thickness could be considered as flimsy as paper medical face mask. Why, an errant finger could easily pierce it.

Shit!

God adjusted the mask across her visage, hoping no one would notice the ragged hole, and also that nothing too nasty had fallen through the breach on her sweet breath.

***

“How the hell am I supposed to know when we are?” Death snapped and glared up from inside the impenetrable blackness of his cowl at the three ominous figures surrounding him. They stood huddled at the junction of Great Russell and Bloomsbury Streets in London’s bustling West End. It was night, it was cold and, save for the motley quartet, the streets were completely deserted.

“Becoz yur Death,” the first figure hissed and bared vampiric fangs. Famine appeared tall and angular, dressed in a tuxedo, silk lined cape, and with a countenance so pale, it could only have been achieved by avoiding sunlight at any and all costs.

“Because you have the contraption,” the second figure added angrily. War appeared to be a smart businesswoman, confident and aggressive, in horn-rimmed glasses, sharp suit and infinitely sharper stiletto heels.

“AAAAAAAGH!” the third figure groaned as a fat, black housefly zig-zagged across a sunken cheek, before disappearing into a filth-caked nostril. Pestilence appeared to be a zombie; slack mouthed, grey decaying flesh and milk white, opaque eyes.

“No, Pesto, I don’t know what happened to the horses,” Death answered his rotting companion. He pulled himself up to his full height of three feet and three inches, retrieved a battered Psion organiser from beneath the folds of his robe, and unsheathed it with a satisfying pop. “I don’t understand it,” he cried, “transport’s always been laid on before.”

War, Famine and Pestilence stood in silence, watching over the diminutive but perfectly formed grim reaper, as he punched the keys of the electronic organiser with a gleaming phalange, and waited.

Click. Click. Click, click, click… click.

“Well?” War said impatiently. “We’re in London, that much is for sure. The British Museum is over there.”

Pestilence’s body did not move a single rotting muscle, but his head turned an unearthly 180° to follow the direction that War’s crimson painted talon was pointing in. “UGH WAAAGH AAAAAAAGH!”

“Ve don’t know if ve are zupposed to go zere.” Famine reached out and clasped either side of Pestilence’s head, twisting it back into a front facing position. “Ve don’t know vy ve are even here. Death, vot iz taking you zo long to find out?”

“Wait…” Death did not look up.

Click. Click, click. Click.

Death peered hard at the tiny screen on the Psion, before shaking it hard. “I dunno. It’s not working. Maybe the Cosmic Consciousness Neural Net is down again,” he said with a shrug.

“Argh!” War howled. She reached down and grabbed Death by the front of his robe and lifted him up to face height. Behind her glasses, War’s eyes blazed with fire. “That’s just brilliant! Ace! Fun-fucking-tastic, Death! What are we meant to do now?”

The dead weight of Pestilence’s arm slapped War on the shoulder. “WAAAGH UGH!”

“Yez, yez, yez, ve should all calm down,” Famine said smoothly, pulling Death from War’s tight grasp and setting him back on the pavement. He plucked Pestilence’s arm from War’s shoulder before she could rip it from its socket. “It does no good for uz to get agitated. Ve need to zink vot haz happened.”

“Exactly right, Famine,” Death injected in agreement. “Let’s look at what we do know.” He pushed himself free of the huddle and turned to face his companions. “We’ve got War, Famine, Pestilence and yours truly.” He began to glide, circling the trio. “The ultimate harbingers of doom and bringers of great tribulation. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse-”

“AAAAAAAGH UGH!”

Sans horses, indeed. Most irregular. Literally dropped, without warning, in the middle of London-”

“Clos to ze British Muzeum,” Famine interrupted.

“Correct. So we know where we are but we don’t know when we are-”

“Late twentieth, early twenty first century, I’d say, from the smell of the air,” War joined in. “Plus it’s night time and it’s bloody freezing.”

“A winter’s night, yes. Probably accounts for the lack of any activity about-”

“UGH!”

Death glided to a stop. “Your right, Pesto; there should be people about, even in winter. A big city like this produces lots of traffic-”

“Yez,” Famine mused, loudly tapping on his fangs in contemplation. “No motor vehicles hav passed by since ve arrived.”

Death nodded slowly, then looked up at the sky. One by one, War, Famine and Pestilence followed Death’s gaze.

“Nope, too much cloud cover and light pollution. I can’t see any stars to work out when we are.”

“I have a very bad feeling about this,” War whispered hoarsely.

“WAAAGH AAAAAAAGH!” Pestilence groaned.

“I agree, Pestilence, my dear friend. It haz to be a mistake,” Famine said solemnly. “An accident.”

“Possibly. We’d better start walking,” Death said and glided away down Bloomsbury Street, in the direction of Covent Garden.

War, Famine and Pestilence looked at each other and muttered darkly.

“Hold it, short-arse,” War barked. “Where exactly are we walking to? I can’t go far in these heels. They’re fucking murder.”

Pestilence dropped a shoulder and lurched awkwardly after Death. “AAAAAAAGH WAAAGH AAAAAAAGH!”

“Seriously? You’re going to follow him?” War shouted after the hunched and shambling figure of Pestilence. “You’ll disintegrate before you reach the end of this street, you noxious pile of pus! ”

Famine took War’s hands between his own, bowed deeply and lightly kissed her clenched fists until they opened. “Don’t vorry, my dear lady. I vill speak to Death.” Gently, he tugged on War so that she tottered forward with unsteady steps. “Please, come. Valk slowly. I vill talk to him.” With that, Famine turned into a giant bat and flew off in the direction of Death.

War roared with frustration but continued to follow the others. “I have Birkenstocks, you know. Why couldn’t I have manifested in my fucking Birkenstocks…”

Death heard wop-wopping wing beats approach from behind, and felt the change in air pressure as Famine flew over his head. He glided slowly until he reached his suave compadre, who stood in the middle of the pavement, arms wide, cape billowing and fangs bared.

“Death, stop please,” Famine pleaded. “Vor and Pestilence are in no fit state to valk far. Look.” He gestured back to the way they’d come. Pestilence jerked along slowly in the middle distance, with War following on behind, daintily sidestepping the trail of fleshy ooze left in Pestilence’s wake.

“Death, Death,” Famine cooed, “You know ve vould valk to the ends of ze vorld vid you, but you must tell us, vere are you taking us?”

Death paused and looked up, appraising his companion – Famine: always hungry, never sated, forever empty; his vampire appearance was more than apt. Pestilence, too, in zombie form was unrelenting, poisoning everything, even the very air. War, however, was a puzzler unless she represented a battle of the sexes. Should War shatter the fabled glass ceiling, Death was certain she would then set about slitting every available throat with the deadly shards.

What about me, though? I’m exactly the same, I haven’t changed, Death wondered. The inside of his skull began to itch. He sighed and shook his head. This whole situation was wrong and he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was missing something. Something big. Something important.

“Death?” Famine snapped his fingers rapidly. “Vere are ve going?” he demanded.

“To the Embankment, Famine. To Cleopatra’s Needle.”

“Ov course!” Famine slapped the palm of his hand against his widow’s peaked forehead. “Ze ancient Egyptian Obelisks of Time! Ve can return to ze hintervorld by way ov Cleopatra’s Needle! Zat iz super fine zinking, Death. No vonder yur the leader.”

“I-” Death suddenly cocked his head to one side. “Can you hear that?”

There was a low rumble in the distance but it was gradually getting louder, moving nearer. Death and Famine watched as at first, War turned her head to look behind, following the direction of the sound, then Pestilence slowly shuffled round to see what was making the noise. Further back in the distance, Death could just make out a dim rectangle of orange light, floating closer through the darkness, getting brighter. War began to wave her arms and shout.

“AAAAAAAGH!” Pestilence bellowed.

Death and Famine glanced at each other before racing back towards Pestilence and War. “Taxi!” they shouted in unison, tinged of relief.

***

War, Famine and Pestilence sat in abject silence in the back of the taxi; the three separated from Death and the taxi driver in the front by a transparent sheet of plexiglass, with only a narrow slot cut into it for the exchange of money.

Excuse me while I light my spliff…

“Spliff,” the taxi driver sang along to the bassy sound of Bob Marley and the Wailers coming through the speakers.

Oh God I gotta take a lift…

“Lift.” The taxi driver turned toward Death and gave him a beaming smile.

From reality I just can’t drift…

“Drift.”

That’s why I am staying with this riff…

“Riff.” The taxi driver chuckled and tapped his hands on the top of the steering wheel, in time with the music. “Easy Skanking. Hell, I love this song.”

Death looked out of his side window. The feeling that something was wrong had only intensified as the empty London streets rushed by. He cursed the broken Psion organiser tucked inside his robes. Bloody useless technology. Give me an hourglass any day, he thought sourly.

“Good party, was it?” the taxi driver asked.

“Huh?” Death replied, perplexed by the driver’s question.

The taxi driver laughed. “The fancy dress party. Your costumes are sweet. I thought the government had cancelled Halloween because of the Rona.”

Death stiffened and the itching inside his skull increased. “Halloween’s been cancelled?”

“Yeah man, Christmas too if we’re not lucky,” the taxi driver replied.

“What year is… it?” Death asked slowly.

The taxi driver sucked his teeth contemptuously. “What you mean what year is it? It’s 2020, child. Where have you been?”

A burst of realisation exploded through Death’s train of consciousness: It’s 2020: the year anything happened! The year when pandemic waves of Coronavirus and Karenitus swept the globe, resulting in lockdowns, economic disaster and civil unrest. Things are starting to make sense now! Even so, the itch continued to irritate the inside of Death’s skull.

Cigar smoke suddenly filled the front of the taxi. Death coughed and tapped on the sign affixed to the console. “That says ‘No Smoking’.”

The taxi driver grinned at Death, a smoking cigar butt jauntily perched from the corner of his mouth. “2020, child. Donch ya know the saying? ‘A smoke a day keeps the Rona at bay’.” He laughed heartily and bounced up and down in his seat with mirth. “Besides, who’s gonna stop me? Look about you, my small friend. There’s no one around to say shit about it.”

If Death still had eyes, they would have been rolling round his ocular cavities. “Hey guys.” He shouted to the others through the slot in the plexiglass. “Problem solved: it’s 2020.”

“Tventy Tventy! Hellz Bellz!” Famine exclaimed.

Pestilence gave a guttural groan. “WAAAGH UGH AAAAAAAGH!”

“Yes, but what’s the date?” War demanded nervously.

“It’s the 31st October, sugar,” the taxi driver called back. “Happy Halloween.”

The taxi stopped at the end of Temple Place. In front lay the deserted Embankment. Along side it, the river Thames flowed swiftly past, glittering lights shimmered on its rippled surface, as above the clouds began to separate, clear, and finally reveal the celestial occupants of the night sky. The taxi driver nonchalantly flicked a switch on his dashboard, locking all the vehicle doors with a loud clunk.

“Oh no,” War murmured gravely and pressed her hands hard against her stomach. “No, no, no!”

“Vot iz it, Vor?” Famine asked with rising alarm.

A shaft of moonlight hit the taxi as it slowly pulled right out of the junction and onto the empty Embankment, illuminating its interior. The Moon was bright, it was clear and it was very full.

“It’s my monthlies,” War whined, sliding off her seat and onto all fours. Her jaw elongated and wiry tufts of fur sprang from her gnarly brow, knocking War’s horn-rimmed glasses from her face. “I don’t fucking believe this. Why nowOOOO!”

“Now this is a great song. One of the Skipper’s best,” the taxi driver exclaimed, ignoring the howling and growling, and blood-curdling shrieks of panic coming from the back of the cab, as the previously smart and professional War transformed into a ferocious and carnal beast. He turned up the volume on his stereo and began to croon along,

Until the philosophy, which hold one race superior and another. Inferior. Is finally. And permanently. Discredited. And abandoned. Everywhere is war. Me say war.

“Vot? NOOOO! Get avay! Get avay!” Famine screamed and impotently fumbled with the taxi’s doors handles. They were securely locked, however; there would be no escape.

Death sat stock still, strapped in tight and listened in horror to the sound of Famine and Pestilence being ripped apart by the slavering jaws and slashing claws of a werewolf that appeared to be War.

“How’s you seat, child?” the taxi driver asked slyly.

“I’m not a child,” Death tersely replied.

“UGH!” Pestilence’s bloody fingers abruptly thrust through the slot in the plexiglass, twitched once, then lay limp.

“I know, I know, little man. No offence intended.” The taxi driver continued. “That space you’re occupying used to be for luggage, but times are hard and last year it was converted into a child seat,” he explained. “Good thing for you, eh?”

The heavy silence that fell between the driver and his passenger was punctured by the sound of wet chomps and crunching bone emanating from the back of the cab.

The itch in Death skull stopped, but the very fabric of reality now took up its cause.

“Scratch?” Death asked tentatively.

“Yes, child.”

Old Scratch?”

“Who else you expecting?” the Devil, who appeared to be a smirking, smoking taxi driver, replied. The vehicle slowed to a stop next to Cleopatra’s Needle. “Now hurry up and spit it out. It’s time for you to leave.”

Death paused; it felt like eternity. Finally he asked, “Why?”

Why?” Old Scratch puffed on his cigar, the shit-eating grin never leaving his face. “Why, Armageddon, little man. What did you think this is?”

Death was flummoxed. In his long existence, he had never been flummoxed before. It was a new sensation, but not one he’d ever longed for.

Old Scratch patted him on the head, then reached up to retrieve a folded piece of paper from behind the sun visor. “I got a letter last year, see,” he explained. He unfolded the page and glanced down at the childish writing on it. “From a sweet, innocent child. A touch dyslexic, but with the purest soul ever to inhabit a human body. What could I do?” He offered the letter to Death. “My heart just melted.”

Death took the letter from Old Scratch and began to read aloud: “’Dear Satan. My name is Molly and I have everything I will ever need. Can you please help everybody else in the world by ending hunger, pollution and war. This is my Christmas wish. Thank you. Molly Darling, age 6. P.S. I hope you are well.’

“So considerate and polite,” Old Scratch sighed, taking the letter back.

All the stars in the heavens swirled furiously inside Death’s skull. He mentally grappled with the raging storm, searching for a handhold on his sanity. “War ended Pestilence and Famine, but War isn’t dead.”

“You sure? Can’t hear no breathing back there.”

Death swiftly unlocked his seatbelt and stood up on his seat. The plexiglass was no longer transparent, but smeared red with blood and gore. He pushed the dead fingers of Pestilence back through the slot and heard a splash as the severed hand they were attached to thudded to the floor of the taxi. Death peered through the gap and saw War lying naked and smoothly pale in the bloodbath. A chunk of half chewed greenish meat fell free from her lifeless lips.

“WooEE! That Pesto sure was ripe!” Old Scratch said, opening his window and flicking out ash from his cigar. “Bad meat. Never eat it. Always, always, insist on fresh.”

Death pulled away from the sight of the abomination in the back of the taxi and sat back down in his seat. “But how can it be Armageddon if War, Famine and Pestilence are gone?”

Old Scratch punched the numbers on the keyboard of the dashboard fare display. “With no hunger, there will be obesity, so humanity will become slovenly and fat, lazy and satisfied. No war means no competition, no goals to achieve, so mankind will lose its desire to better itself. And the elimination of pollution is a sure fire way of killing any human creativity. I give the species ten years, tops.”

“But there will be death,” Death whispered softly.

“Oh indeed, you’re still needed. You have a busy time ahead of you, little man. That’ll be six six six.”

Death snapped his head back to face the Devil in the driver’s seat. “What?”

Old Scratch laughed and pointed to the fare metre. “Six pounds, sixty six.” He gave a phlegmy cough and waved Death away. “Just kidding. For you, child, no charge,” he said gleefully.

*******

*Ah, that’s much better, Clicky… /stubs butt… Do try to keep clean…*

*/sighs…*

We hope you enjoyed the story, Dear Reader, and that you will consider purchasing a copy of the latest Underdog Anthology…

*”By the book”… /thinks… Who was the 37th President of America, Clicky?*

*/rolls eyes… Elementary, dear Clicky…*

… And may the rest of your Halloween we kenned be spooky. Have a Song… ❤

CLICK5: Indie Go…

Story Time: Fountainhead

Dear Reader, prompted by a convo in Merovee comments about rabbits and bad hair days, I’ve decided to post my story from Underdog Anthology IX: Well Haunted

*Thanks, Clicky… /pats snout… I’ll format the story and you go get a Song for the end…*

… called ‘Fountainhead’. I was saving it to post for Halloween, but I’ll post ‘What Time Do You Finish?’ from Underdog Anthology XII then instead 😀

Enjoy! ❤

*******

Fountainhead

by Roo B. Doo

“Okay, Thom?” Jess placed on her hands on Thom’s shoulders, and gave them a friendly squeeze. “You still want to do this?” she asked him, addressing the brightly lit mirror before them.

Thom studied the reflection of the woman standing behind him. With silver hair, thickly plaited, and intricate henna designs adorning both her arms from wrists to biceps, Jess was an odd mixture of old and young. He nodded slowly before leaning his head back, to look up directly into her wrinkled face and sparkling eyes. “Yes. Let’s do it.”

“Alright then,” Jess said with a smile. She pushed Thom’s head forward playfully, and looked down at the shaved skin she’d created near the crown of his head. She tenderly caressed it’s smoothness with her gloved fingertips before swooping down to lightly kiss it.

“Hey, is that part of the ritual?” Thom asked. “Doesn’t seem very hygienic.”

“Yes and no, it’s not.” Jess took the bottle of Povidone-Iodine from the trolley beside her and quickly swabbed the pale patch on Thom’s head, turning it umber. “But this stuff tastes disgusting.”

Thom’s reflection stared hard at her from the mirror.

“Seriously, Thom. Dis. Gus. Sting.” Jess laughed jovially. “Trust me, I’ve kissed all the ones I’ve done before,” she said with a shrug. “They all turned out okay. Please, grant me a little superstition. It is Halloween.”

“Okay, Jess. I trust you,” Thom replied. He watched her pick up a scalpel, but his eyes lingered on the electric drill that lay passively on top of the trolley.

“Thank you.” Jess placed the scalpel blade against the orange patch of skin beneath her gaze. “Now, this may hurt.”

Thom’s hands tightened their grip on the armrests of his chair, hidden beneath the heavy, flowing cape that Jess had made him wear. “No problem.”

***

Thom Lusher’s headache had been with him for as long as he could remember. It had taken up residence in his skull during childhood, whilst Thom watched his mother die of cancer, and squatted on throughout adolescence, as Thom’s father attempted to drown himself in vodka. The nagging, low throb was a constant in an otherwise unreliable world. It was something Thom could rely on, even consider a friend.

The headache had once come to his rescue, when Thom’s PE teacher had attempted to get handsy down his gym shorts. It had immediately flared into a raging, sparking tempest, forcing the contents of Thom’s stomach out of his mouth and down the front of his fumbling teacher, revealing the damp outline of a sad erection. Yes, the headache hurt Thom, but not nearly as much as the world did.

The only time the headache disappeared completely was when Thom dreamed ‘the floating dream’. He’d be in the thick of a situation, when, suddenly, his feet would leave the ground and he would start to rise. As he looked down, observing the action below, Thom would be acutely aware that he was steadily floating higher, and that his headache was gone. Levitating upward in a world made of sky, Thom felt serene and pain-free. Until he bumped up against the hard, dark arc of space above, at which point Thom would wake to reality and a fierce ache in his head.

The headache was part of Thom’s life and he’d steeled himself to the fact that it always would be. Until he met Jess, that is. She was the hippy, dippy proprietress of ‘Curl Up And Dye’, a hair salon on the edge of town. They’d got talking at a shared smoking table, outside Starbucks on the High Street. Little did Thom know then how Jess would change his life forever.

***

“Go anywhere nice on holiday this year?” Jess asked, as she started to peel back the flaps of skin she’d incised with the scalpel, to expose Thom’s skull.

“What?” Thom asked incredulously.

Jess was concentrating hard on the wound she’d inflicted, but stole a glance at Thom’s reflection. “I’m sorry. Force of habit,” she replied sheepishly. “Day job.”

Thom smiled ruefully at her via the mirror and resisted the temptation to shake his head. “Not this year. You?”

Jess had resumed scraping back the skin. “I like to spend November in Thailand. I leave tomorrow. You’re lucky we met and I could fit you in.”

Thom didn’t know if he should feel lucky or whether he’d gone completely mad. He’d only met Jess by chance earlier that day and now here he was, sitting alone in her dark and empty hair salon, completely at her mercy. The yammering pain in his head reminded him that he’d not exactly been blessed with luck in his life so far, but Jess had given him hope that somehow this could change.

“Have you done many of these?” Thom asked, to cover the sounds of faint scratching that filled the silence.

“More and more this year since Bore-Heading became a thing again. Of course I did mine back in the Seventies.”

“You did it on yourself?”

“Yes, for the purpose of enlightenment, not to follow some silly rock star like the kids do today.”

Thom frowned; that wasn’t why he was there but considered it ill advised to argue given his present situation. “And were you enlightened?”

“Yes. I discovered trepanning others is entirely more lucrative than trepanning myself. Thank goodness for silly rock stars, eh?” Jess flashed Thom a wink in the mirror. “Okay, Thom, I’m down to the bone. Ready for me to open you up?”

Thom stared into the violet eyes of his reflection and took a deep breath. “Go for it.”

Jess returned a solemn nod before turning to pick up the drill.

***

“Do you mind if I sit here?” the old woman asked Thom, as she placed a steaming cup of coffee on the table in front of him.

“No, go ahead.” Tom smiled up at the woman before going back to his book. He rubbed his brow and took a drag on the cigarette sat idling in the ashtray on the table.

“Ta,” she said sitting down and placing her shopping by her feet. She pulled her coat tighter and took a sip of her coffee. “Brr, it’s cold today.”

Thom nodded his agreement but he wasn’t in the mood for chitchat; he wanted to finish the chapter he was reading.

“Perfect for Halloween, of course.” The woman continued talking undeterred. She looked up and scanned the sky. “Cold and clear of cloud. Perfect for piercing the veil.”

“I’m sorry, what is?” Thom asked. He wasn’t paying attention but didn’t want to appear rude.

“The veil between worlds, here and beyond,” the woman said. “It’s thinnest at Halloween. We have perfect conditions today for piercing the barrier.”

At her words, Thom immediately pictured himself sailing upward through an ocean of sky before hitting impenetrable nothingness. The dull throb of his constant headache suddenly spiked, causing him to wince.

“Are you okay? You’ve gone quite pale,” the woman asked with concern.

“Yes,” Thom answered abruptly. He squeezed his eyes shut and saw his fists impotently beating against smooth blackness of space; a fragment of his dream from the night before. “Sorry, yes I’m fine. I have a headache.”

“Wait here.” The woman ordered, before rushing off inside the coffee shop. “And watch my bags.”

Thom felt confused; he wanted to leave, but felt obliged to stay until she returned. His headache had started to settle down but his curiosity was piqued. How could this woman, a stranger, have described his floating dream, when he’d never told anybody else about it before?

“Here we are.” The woman returned, placing a mug of hot water in front of him.

“Er, thanks,” Thom replied sceptically, as he watched her rummage through one of her many shopping bags.

“It’s for this,” she said, brandishing a teabag and a wide smile. She dropped it into the steaming mug. “Ginger tea. It’s the most wonderful tension reliever. I always drink it if I have a headache. Please try it. My name is Jess, by the way.”

Thom dunked the teabag, turning the clear liquid amber. “Thom Lusher.” He took a tentative sip of the hot tea. “Thank you.”

Jess sat back and observed Thom contemplatively. “If you don’t mind me saying, Thom, you have the look of someone who knows suffering. Have you had the headache a long time?”

Thom froze mid sip. He felt the hot liquid burn his top lip but his headache had ebbed away. He stared at Jess’s frank and open face, encouraging him to unburden. He put down the tea and lit a fresh cigarette. “All my life,” he said thickly.

Jess sniffed the cold air before glancing skyward. “Well, Thom. I think I can help you.”

***

Rizzz Rizzz

“No, wait!” Thom sprang from the salon chair and turned toward Jess. He backed into the mirror unit, scattering pots of hair product to the floor. “I’m sorry, Jess. Can we just wait a moment?”

Jess placed the silent drill back on the trolley and rushed round to comfort him. “Of course. Oh my goodness, Thom, you’re trembling. Just sit down a moment and I’ll tidy up this mess.”

“I’ll help-” Thom started to bend down but Jess stopped him.

“No, you’ll get blood everywhere. Sit there, I’ll sort this out.” Jess handed him a towel. “And wipe your face, you have blood trickling from your hairline.

Thom perched on the edge of the salon chair, holding the towel to his forehead, while Jess got onto her knees and started gathering the strewn pots.

“I’m sorry but it was when you gunned the drill twice,” Thom explained. “I don’t know, it just set me off.”

“And I’m sorry, too. You’re obviously not ready for this procedure. Oh no, this one’s broken open.”

Jess got to her feet and wiped her hands on spare towel. “I’ll have to get a mop.”

“Jess-”

“No, Thom, it’s okay.” Jess grabbed Thom’s right arm and shoulder, pushing him back into the chair. “I’ll mop first and bandage you up, then tidy up your hair. Nobody will notice the bald spot. Promise.”

Thom let out a noisy sigh of relief. “I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.”

“I shouldn’t worry about it,” Jess called back over her shoulder as she made her way the the back room of the salon. “We all shock ourselves from time to time. I’ll make you drink.”

“Ginger tea?”

Jess stopped. “No, I’ve got something special for shock. I’ll be back in a jiff.”

Thom stared at himself in the mirror whilst Jess was gone. He picked up a hand mirror from the trolley and held it at and angle over his head so that he could see the damage. All he could see was a pool of blood that lapped across the shaven skin, soaking into his hair. Thom grimaced at the sight of maroon and black wound with crimson tinges. “Fuck!”

“Here we are.” Jess returned and handed Thom a dark green, steaming brew. She took the hand mirror from him and replaced it on the trolley. “Drink up. This is my own recipe, tell me what you think.”

She left again to collect the mop, leaving Thom to gingerly sipped at the hot concoction. “Hey, this is delicious, Jess” he shouted out. He took a slurp. “What’s in it?”

“Oh a little of this, a little of that.” Jess returned with a mop and bucket and set about cleaning up gloop and splashes of blood from the floor. “Mostly sugar. Sugar’s good for shock.”

Thom drained the cup. “Well, I thought-”

Jess quickly placed her fingertips over Thom’s mouth.”No, sit back and be quiet, Thom. Let the tea work,” she said firmly.

Thom sat back in the chair and watched Jess clean up. She moved the mop from side to side and returned the pots of creams back to the mirror shelf, all in rhythmical, moving silence.

Thom looked at the bloody towel in his hands and thought about his crazy day, and how it wouldn’t be over for a while yet. He felt the tension drain from his body and his eyelids droop. I must tell Jess that her tea is better than the ginger stuff, was the last thing Thom thought before he nodded off to sleep.

***

“Help me, how?”

Thom took a drag from his cigarette and looked over at Jess. She took a gulp of her coffee and stared back at him. “Help me, how?” Thom asked again.

“Thom, there are many ancient rituals and practices that have been mostly forgotten by the modern world. I happen to be a practitioner in a number of them.”

“Like what? Voodoo shit?”

Jess chuckled. “Not exactly, no. What I’m thinking of for you was stolen by the medical profession and renamed something ugly to put people off.”

Thom was perplexed. The conversation he didn’t want to have, then enticed into having was taking a turn for the bizarre. “What are you talking about?”

“Trepanation, Thom. It has been practised for thousands of years. Until quite recently that is. Now it’s called a Craniotomy and only doctors are allowed to perform it.”

“Wait.” Thom could suddenly feel his seat leave his chair and his knees bumped under the cafe table, hard enough to knock the ashtray to the floor with a clatter. He grabbed on to the edge of the table. “You want to drill a hole in my head?!”

Jess plucked up her coffee cup from the table before it flipped over. “Oh, but I’m trepanning you right now,” she said to the departing Thom, who was floating higher and higher, feet first. She pointed an index finger toward him and retracted it twice, like pulling a trigger. “Rizzz Rizzz. No more headache.”

“No, wait!” Thom screamed as at first a laughing Jess, followed by the High Street, the town and then all the land below shrunk from his sight. He zoomed up through the cold, blue, cloudless sky. Thom knew exactly where he was heading but this time he did not know what he would find.

***

Suck Glug Slurp

“Oh shit, he’s a gusher!”

A fountain of blood erupted from the hole Jess had made in Thom’s head and splattered over her face, neck and chest. She hastily grabbed the wadding from the trolley, in order to stem the blood spouting from the top of Thom’s lolling head. Blood streamed from between her fingers, across her hand and flowed down along the henna tattoos on her forearm. It dripped from Jess’s elbow and pooled at her feet.

She placed an arm across Thom’s chest and pulled him upright, all whilst holding his head steady, maintaining pressure on the gaping wound. Jess stayed like that, chanting quietly until she was certain the bleeding had slowed enough for her to remove the sodden wadding and she could take a look. Deep at the centre of the circle of blood and matted hair, Jess could see the pulse of pinkish brain.

She covered the wound with a bandage and removed his bloody cape, before setting about cleaning up. Once Jess was sure the floor was clear of blood, she placed black candles around unconscious Thom’s chair and lit them. Finally she hung a mournful looking goat skull, from the top of the brightly lit mirror, so that it replaced Thom’s head in his reflection.

As she finished, Thom opened a fiery eye. “Daughter?”

“I knew it! I knew he was the one!” Jess howled with glee, before dropping to her knees to kiss Thom’s hand. Tears streamed from her twinkling, eyes. “Oh, Satan, my Lord and Master. You have come at last!”

Thom gently lifted Jess’s blood-flecked face toward him and smiled radiantly down upon her.

*******

Have a Song, Dear Reader…

A Little Writing Update…

Apols! I’ve been away from the LoL, Dear Reader, busy writing a short story for Underdog Anthology XII. Fortunately Clicky has been holding the fort, hopefully keeping you suitable entertained with his CLICK5 posts…

*I know you are, Clicky… /scrolls through list… Wow, and so many of them…*

I can confirm that my short story, ‘What Time Do You Finish?’ has been completed, submitted, accepted and edited…

*Yep, Death from ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ features in it, Clicky… /lights up… and this time ‘e brings ‘is mates…*

… And there is still time for me to write another one…

*That reminds me… /drags… I’ve still gotta mutilate Percy Bysshe Shelley for the Afterword… /smokes contentedly… ‘Aussie Madness’ seems more than fitting…*

*There will indeed by a full, blue moon on ‘alloween, Clicky… /winks…*

If I can get my arse into gear…

*You think I should write an ‘arry story, Clicky? …/flicks ash… About wot?*

*Interesting… /nods… That could work…*

Of course once the submission deadline for UAXII has passed, Dear Reader, I’ll be back with more shamble posts and hopefully some missives from Text US buddie, the Okie Devil himself, Cade Fon Apollyon. If you’ve been wondering what he’s been up to, Cade has a fantastic series of posts at his gaff exploring pareidolia…

*Heh. Workout shapes …/stubs butt…*

… Well worth a look-see. Until then, I will leave you in the capable fins of Library Assistant, Clicky…

… Have a Song ❤

Story Time: The Trouble With Tibbles

Previously at the LoL*Thanks, Clicky… /lights up and smokes… Hope the Police don’t confiscate non-essential chair…*

Dear Reader, I’ll be reviewing Underdog Anthology XI: Tales of Loch Doon, in a post once it has been published, which will be any day now. However, as a taster, here’s my effort from the book. It’s a ‘Harry Egg’ tale, set in the early days of lockdown, if you can remember what life was like back then… 😉

*Err, Mr Tibbles is not a stray, but otherwise, that’s a great Song selection…*

*******

The Trouble With Tibbles

by Roo B. Doo

TTWT text message 1

Harry…”

Josie’s singsong voice called out to me, rousing me from slumber. I cracked open an eye and saw that I was in a hospital room, lying flat out on a bed, with Josie stood over me. The lost love of my life wore a skimpy nurse outfit that didn’t exactly look NHS approved. Not unless Ann Summers was now supplying the National Health Service with uniforms. This has to be a dream, I decided and settled back in anticipation of what was to come.

“Josie?” I croaked and reached out to stroke the back of her smooth, naked thigh. “Have you come to take care of me?”

“Oh yes, Harry, I’m going to take real good care of you.” Josie pulled herself up onto my bed and lithely straddled my prone body. The studs holding the front of her too tight tunic together popped open to reveal a racy lace and flesh tonic for the eyes. “Hold still,” she purred.

She scooched toward me, bouncing herself up my body until I could feel the weight of her curvaceous buttocks on my chest and the hot promise radiating from her groin. Slowly, Josie took the stethoscope from around her neck and delicately inserted the listening ends in her ears. She smiled down at me seductively, lowering her face until it was within inches of my own. Without saying a word, she placed the end of the stethoscope firmly over my lips.

“Err, do you want to try that again?” I asked out of the corners of my squashed mouth.

Josie did but this time found only my cheek. Then my eye, before finally she crushed the listening bell against the tip of my nose.

“Now for your injection,” she whispered breathlessly over me. Claws suddenly sprang out from the end of the stethoscope and dug painfully into the sides of my nose.

“Oww! Stop it,” I cried, wrenching my face from side to side. Above me Josie meowed.

I became aware of the unctuous, amber eyes observing me intently. Nestled within a fountain of fur, the eyes blinked once before a swift jab, with a smoky grey paw, socked me on the mouth.

“Gerroff, Tibbles!”

Mister Tibbles yawned lazily, stood up to stretch and gracefully one-eighty’d on my chest. The morning view of his backside was unparalleled, exactly as it had been for the past three mornings. I was confused; I’d purposely closed my bedroom door the night before, precisely to avoid a repeat of Mister Tibbles’ morning performance of the sun and full moon rising.

Riding out the Coronavirus lockdown with my best friend Lol seemed like such a good idea at the time. Three weeks, tucked away with my best friend forever, in his fully stocked house and an internet connection to die for? Why wouldn’t I jump at his offer to come and spend lockdown with him? True, either one of us might be infected with the 21st century ‘Hack Death’, but on balance, I decided to risk it. Besides, Lol wouldn’t have asked me to stay over unless he was scared, the big wuss.

What I hadn’t taken into consideration was how Mister Tibbles would feel about the new living arrangements. After only a few days of lockdown, I’d begun to suspect that Lol’s pedigree Persian Blue moggy considered me his personal plaything; I was little more than something Lol had dragged home as a gift, to be laid on the altar of the bed in the spare bedroom, all for Mister Tibbles’ enjoyment.

“Tibbles, as gorgeous as you are, I really don’t need to inspect your arse and bollocks every morning,” I said irritably and batted the kitty away. I reached over and grabbed my phone to check the time. “And at six o’fucking clock! Are you serious?”

Mister Tibbles regarded my exasperation from the foot of the bed, with passive swishes of his tail.

Gingerly, I explored the area around my nose with my fingertips. Thankfully Mister Tibbles’ wake up call hadn’t drawn blood as far as I could tell, but my hooter felt tender and sore. “And now you’ve got me touching my face.” I accused the moggy malevolently. “Don’t you know, we’re not supposed to touch our faces in this time of national emergency?”

In reply Mister Tibbles jumped silently to the floor and padded over to the bedroom door, before sauntering around it and out of sight.

“Bloody cat,” I muttered sourly and got out of bed. I needed to inspect the damage. Mister Tibbles was waiting for me just outside my bedroom, presumably to weave himself provocatively about my ankles, to trip me on my way to the bathroom. I thumped a tired fist against Lol’s bedroom door as I stumbled past. “Your bloody cat!”

I washed my hands before examining my face in the bathroom mirror. My eyes looked puffy and dry, no doubt due to the ghastly hour, combined with the two bottles of Merlot that Lol and I had polished off the night before. My nose, on the other hand, was red and scratched, like it had lost a fight to a cheese grater. Argh! Thank god I don’t have to show this in public.

I turned from the mirror to use the toilet and caught sight of Mister Tibbles. He sat serenely on the bath mat, gazing up at me. “No, no. You ruined my lovely dream and disfigured me, you bastard cat. I’m not letting you watch me take a piss. I am not here to entertain you, Tibbles. Get out.”

With an innate sense for impending danger, Mister Tibbles jumped back before my foot could make contact with him. He mewed mournfully at me before running out of the bathroom. I shut the door behind him. Firmly. I don’t know if I can take another two and a half weeks of Tibbles!

“What’s up buttercup?” Lol asked brightly as I entered the kitchen some ten minutes later. He was busy percolating coffee and unloading the dishwasher. He seemed perky, gratingly so.

“We’ve got to talk about Tibbles.”

“That’s Mister Tibbles, Harry,” Lol corrected me, with a mischievous smirk. “Mister T doesn’t like it if you don’t use his proper name.”

I sat down at the kitchen table. “I thought you said his proper name is ‘Prince Pomander the Third?”

“No, that’s his pedigree name,” Lol explained and placed a tiny cup of espresso before me. “He doesn’t like to brag of his royal lineage. That’s why his proper name is Mister Tibbles. What’s happened to your nose?”

Mister Tibbles is what happened,” I told him bluntly, just managing to stop myself from touching my nose by reflex. “Your Prince Pomander thought it quite the jolly idea to use it as a punch ball, to wake me up.” I couldn’t see the fluffy ratbag anywhere. “Where is he by the way?”

“Back garden, stalking squirrels.” Lol handed me two Paracetamol tablets, which I took with a quick drain of my espresso cup. Molten bitterness hit the back of my throat like an express train. I coughed.

“Are you sure you haven’t got the lurg?” Lol asked suspiciously and gave the kitchen table top the once over with a handy disinfectant wipe. Handy packets of wipes were strategically placed in each room of Lol’s house. He’d been following the spread of the virus since the start of the year, via a financial blog he subscribed to. With some foresight, he’d been gradually gathering essentials before stockpiling suddenly became all the rage.

“Yes, I’m sure,” I replied sullenly. “I wouldn’t mind a regular coffee though. One that doesn’t make me cough. You know, with plenty of milk and two sugars.”

“Then help yourself. Mi casa es tu casa, Harry,” Lol told me with a smile. He pulled a fleece jacket on over his lycra cycling garb and downed his espresso.

“You going out?” I asked innocently.

Lol put his cycle helmet on. “Well, seeing as you found it necessary to wake me up so early, H, I thought I’d take advantage of the beautiful morning and clear roads. Would you like to join me on a cycle ride?”

It was a token offer; Lol knew and I knew it; exercise and me are barely nodding acquaintances.

I got up and put the kettle on. “No, I think I’ll go and do a set of stretch and surf in the front room.”

Lol raised a quizzical eyebrow.

“By utilizing your sofa for maximum support,” I explained, whilst loading a coffee cup with heaped teaspoons of instant Columbian and sugar, “I will be stretching out vigorously, with my coffee, to watch breakfast telly, followed by a session of riding the waves of the internet.”

“And no need to change out of your sleep attire. Excellent! Well, make sure you don’t over exert yourself. I shouldn’t be gone longer than an hour.” Lol opened the back door to a stream of early morning sunshine. “Maybe two. Do you want me to leave this open for Mister Tibbles?”

The sun may be shining but the air had a distinctly chilly feel to it. “No, I’ll let the Prince of Pommels back in when he’s finished terrorising the local wildlife.” I shivered and pulled my dressing gown around me tighter. “Go! The draught is freezing.”

Lol made to kiss me on the cheek but stopped himself short. “This corona business is just too weird, Harry,” he whispered sadly, close to my ear.

“I know, Lol,” I whispered back. We stood there for a second, not touching, but feeling the weight of our previously tactile existence fill the space between us. “Go on, go and get your daily permitted exercise.”

Lol left and I finished making my coffee before settling down in front of the gogglebox. I started flicking through the channels: squeaky clean sofa people looking solemn on BBC1; pernickety house buyers searching for their dream home on Two; Piers Morgan indulging in a bout of hissy-fitting on ITV; and on Channel Four, a careworn repeat of ‘Cheers’. Jesus fuck! What a load of crap. No thanks!

I switched the telly off and opened my laptop. Oh, how I missed work. Not the people so much as the busyness and structure of the day. Working from home is all well and good when there’s actual work to do, but since the Fat Kontroller had decided to furlough the business in the short-term, there wasn’t very much for me to do. I felt redundant.

What I needed was a project, something to keep me occupied or I might end up going stark staring mad. A sudden, fearful notion gripped me: what if I started to miss Shazza, F.A. Kontrell’s mouthy receptionist and bane of my working life? I mentally shuddered. Get a grip, I chastised myself. Purge that image, Harry. Time to work up a sweat.

A soft thump on the front room window, diverted my attention away from the ‘Hot Russian Babes Twerking Workout’ YouTube video on my laptop screen. Mister Tibbles, bane of my lockdown life, sat on the outside ledge, peering in. Oh no, I forgot to let the cat in, I mentally whined.

“Go round to the back,” I shouted. Mister Tibbles didn’t move, except for his eyes, which gave a lazy blink.

I contemplated ignoring him; that generally works with Shazza. Lol, however, would never forgive me, though, if anything happened to his beloved and extremely valuable cat. Reluctantly, I put the laptop on the floor, sighed and got up off the sofa.

“Okay, I’m coming,” I called and opened the front door. Apart from a chorus of bird song, there seemed no other sign of life in the street outside.

Mister Tibbles wasn’t sitting on the front window ledge; the annoying furball was nowhere to be seen. I leaned out and scanned the empty road. “Come along Mister Tibbles. Breakfast,” I called sweetly. I expected to feel the soft rush of fur against my bare feet, but all I felt was a chilly, spring gust of wind on my face. “Tibbles?”

Keeping the front door ajar with my left foot, I stepped forward for a better view of the street. I was totally unprepared for the warm squelch I felt under my right heel, nor for the crunch of small bones.

“Argh!”

I lifted my leg with disbelief. A flattened and decidedly dead mouse clung to the bottom of my foot, held in place by its blood and guts. Only its tail moved, which fluttered gently in the breeze.

“ARGHHH!!!”

I hopped outside, toward the patch of lawn at the front of Lol’s house; I had to wipe the foul remains off my being. “Ew, ew, EWWww! Oh My God! That is so disgusting!”

The mouse peeled off easily and lay discarded among the dewy blades, but I continued to scrape my heel and foot through the wet grass, round and around the lawn, determined to remove any rodent residue. My mind shrieked in disgust, Unclean! Unclean!

Miaow.

Mister Tibbles sat on the front step, watching my demented circling with a look of feline bemusement.

“Tibbles!” I rushed toward him but, sensing the murder in my heart, Mister Tibbles quickly scarpered back inside the house. “TIBBLES, NO!”

Too late. In his eagerness to escape, Mister Tibbles bumped the edge of the door with his hightailing. I watched in horror as the front door swung tantalizingly to and fro, before the wind grabbed it and brought it to a close with a click.

“NOOO!!!”

I stopped in my tracks, and for a split second the birds ceased their conversations and the wind dropped. There was only silence, complete silence, and I felt as if the eyes of the Universe were upon me. I stood there, utterly alone, wearing only my pyjamas, a dressing gown and some dead mouse. Then from one of the trees that lined the suburban street I heard the sound of a crow caw. To my ears it sounded like a guffaw.

A flicker of smokey grey movement caught my attention from the corner of my eye. Inside the house, Mister Tibbles had jumped up onto the front room window sill and was prowling along it, beating the glass pane with his tail.

You are so dead! I banged on the window with my fists.

Mister Tibbles didn’t flinch. He meowed and leapt to the floor, before strutting over to the sofa, where he curled up in the comfy spot that until recently I’d been happily occupying. Seemingly ignorant of my impotent knocking, Mister Tibbles then cocked his back leg above his head and set about licking his balls.

“I’m gonna get you,” I growled menacingly at the cat.

For the birds too, it appeared entertainment time was over as they went back to their noisy discussions. Not to be left out, a stream of cold air whistled past, stinging my still tender shnozz and flapping the ends of my dressing gown. I tried the front door but it was shut tight. I inspected the bottom of my foot to make sure it was mouse-free and wondered what the hell I was going to do until Lol returned. I hoped to fuck that he’d thought to take a key with him.

Did he lock the back door when he left? Lol had closed the back door, but had he locked it? I wave of hope surged through me: Maybe I can get in through the back!

As befitting his status of local branch bank manager, Lol’s home was a modest, three bedroom terrace house. The houses either side of his were semi-detached and next to one was a side alley that led to Lol’s back garden. Not wanting to track dirt into his pristine abode, Lol always used the passage to access his house when he went out cycling. I could get to his garden! Even if Lol had locked the back door, at least I could get off the street. I hadn’t seen anybody walk by yet, but that was no guarantee that there wouldn’t be any passersby. I decided to go for it.

Fortified with a plan of action, I belted my dressing gown tight and sprinted out of the front garden and onto the street, passing the neighbour’s house until I reached the entrance to the side alley. Not being a cyclist, I’d never used the entrance before, so my heart sank when I saw the 6ft wood gate blocking the entrance. It rattled and creaked when I pushed at it but the gate wouldn’t open. Locked! Shit! I’ll have to climb over it.

With my right hand grabbing the top of the gate, I climbed up onto the neighbour’s low garden wall adjacent to it. Now, if I can just get my leg over…

“Wot you doin?”

I froze at the sound of the voice coming from behind me.

“Yeah, wot you up to lady? You tryna break in?” a second voice, chimed in.

Oh great! Company!

I turned my head and saw two boys loitering on the street, staring at me. They were dressed in the ubiquitous teenage uniform of the day: hoodies, jeans, trainers, insolence.

“Kind of, yes,” I said climbing off the wall to face them. “I’ve got locked out of my house.”

The two boys looked at each other and then back at me. “Figures,” the taller of the two boys said. “That’s the wrong gear to wear for breakin’ in to ‘ouses.”

“Yeah, no gloves, no shoes. That’s like trailin’ your DNA shit everywhere, innit?” the second boy confirmed.

Oh God. Idiots. I shrugged my shoulders. “Well, quite.”

The boys turned away and conferred for a moment. I waited patiently for them to finish, acutely aware of the ridiculousness of my situation.

Eventually the taller boy spoke. “You wanna boost?”

“Yeah, lady. You wanna boost?”

Oh God. Stereo idiots. Despite my misgivings, I decided to accept their offer. By now all I wanted to do is get inside and have a hot bath. “Yes, please. That would be lovely, thank you.”

The boys approached me and the taller idiot crouched down in front of the gate with his hands held out in front of him, fingers interlocked. “So how come you got locked out then?”

“Yeah, how come?” came his echo.

I placed my left foot on the outcupped hands and grabbed the top of the gate with both hands. “That’s not really any business of yours, is it?”

The fingers under my foot unlaced and it slammed to the floor. “Oww!”

The crouching idiot look up at me from beneath his hood. “Do you want our ‘elp?”

“Yeah, do ya?” the second idiot asked from behind his mobile phone.

“Hold on, are you filming this?”

The first idiot stood up, towering over me. “See it’s like this. We can get stuff from school for doing good works. Like vouchers for stuff. Microsoft points for the X-Box-”

“Yeah, X-Box points.”

“And other things,” the taller idiot continued, “But we have to be able to prove it. We’ve gotta have evidence of our good works, see?”

“Yeah, we gotta provide the evidence.”

I was fuming but not really in a position to argue: I did need their help. I inspected the bottom of my foot and rubbed the gravel and grit embedded in it. “Okay, I’ll tell you. But swap places with me so I can use my other foot.”

I took a deep breath and addressed the phone camera. “Hello. My name is Harry Egg. I’ve been locked out of my friend Lol’s house, where I’m staying for lockdown, by Prince Pomander the Third, and these two lovely chaps are going help me get back in.”

“Wait, who’s Prince Pom… Pom whatever?” the camera idiot asked. Ha! You’re not just an echo, I thought, but you’re still an idiot.

“Prince Pomander. The Third. He’s a cat, also known as Mister Tibbles and he left a dead mouse on the doorstep for me this morning.”

“Nasty!” the taller idiot said, crouching down.

“Yeah, nasty!”

“Very nasty indeed.” I placed my right foot in the crouching idiot’s hands, grabbed the top of the gate and lightly bounced on my standing leg. “You should have seen the blood and guts squirt out everywhere when I trod on it.”

“No way! What foot?” camera idiot asked.

I pushed down hard with my right foot on crouching idiot’s hands and bounced up. With a mighty heave, I pulled myself up onto the top of the gate. “The one he’s holding.”

“WHAA?!” Crouching idiot sprang to his feet forcefully and propelled me up and over the gate. “Nah, nah, nah. Stop filming!”

I lay flat on the ground in a daze. I could hear the boys arguing on the other side of the gate. I didn’t care, I just wanted to get up and back to the house. I raised myself up into a sitting position and fought back tears.

Camera idiot’s head and phone appeared over the gate. “Hey lady, you alright?”

Am I alright? I didn’t think anything was broken except my pride. “Yes, fine thank you,” I replied, getting to my feet and putting on a brave face. “No bones broken.”

“That was wicked! I’ve never seen anyone fly so high!” camera idiot said enthusiastically.

“You’re welcome.” I turned and trailing my hand along the neighbour’s high wooden fence to keep me steady, started to hobble along the alley. “And tell your friend to wash his hands.”

A second gate prevented direct access to Lol’s back garden, but this one wasn’t so high. I would have barged it down if I’d had to, but managed to scramble over it. At last, I was in the safety of the back garden. Whereas the street was bathed in the shadow of the house, the back garden suffered no deficit of sunlight. The grass looked green and lush, sparkling with diamonds as the dew drops amplified the light, and only the gentlest of breezes caused Lol’s saffron headed daffodils to bob as I passed. It’s really nice out here, I thought. I should have just sat out here this morning.

I reached the back door, grabbed the handle and turned. Please God, please God, please God.

The door swung open. Hallelujah!

“Harry.” Lol was opening the back gate and wheeling his bicycle into the garden. He looked athletic and ruddy. The bastard!

“Hello Lol. How was your ride? Busy out there?”

“Yeah, it was great. Hardly any traffic.” Lol leaned his bike up against the wall of the house. “You look dreadful, Harry. Are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” I said, stepping over the door threshold and into the kitchen. “I’m going to have a long, hot bath. You can come up and sit with me if you like and I’ll tell you all about it.” I paused. “Mister Tibbles is not invited.”

TTWT text message 2

*******

*Mister Tibbles certainly has the measure of Harry, Clicky…*

Underdog Anthology XI will be available on Kindle from Amazon for the super low price of 99p/99c for the duration of lockdown, as indeed are all the anthologies and novels from Leg Iron Books…

Leg_Iron_Books

*Well done, Leggy! …/stubs butt… That’s seriously good value, Clicky…*

Until next time, Dear Reader, have a Song… 😀

Underdog Anthology XI: Tales From Loch Doon

Good news, Dear Reader! Underdog Anthology XI: Tales From Loch Doon will be published in time for Beltane…

*Me either, Clicky… /lights up… Leggy’s had… /drags… an ‘ell of a year so far… /plumes smoke… Still, we’re nearly there…*

… It features 14 stories from 9 authors and each is a little cracker…

*Nah, we missed the Easter deadline this year, Clicky, wot with one thing or another…*

… And to get us in the mood, the Afterword, with mutilated poem by a dead poet, is reproduced, below…

*******

Afterword

by Roo B. Doo

2019 was generally considered a whacked out, fucked up and completely bonkers year, Dear Reader. Then 2020 arrived with a polite request to ‘Hold my-‘

Corona beer

*Clicky! There’s no gifs in the book… /flicks ash…*

Today is Easter Monday and, as I write, the majority of the global population are locked in their homes, patiently waiting for curves to flatten and Coronavirus cures to be found, so that they get out and get on their normal lives. Currently there is no end in sight.

Hopefully we’ll still be around for ‘Underdog Anthology XII’, due out in October, but in the meantime, Leg Iron Books have generously slashed the price of its Kindle offerings to 99p/99c, so there is no need to be bored. COVID-19 is a novel virus, doncha know 😉

Leg Iron Books

Now for some more butchering…

Beloved children’s author A.A. Milne authored the Winnie-the-Pooh books. The Public school, which his father ran and where little Alan Alexander grew up, employed H.G. Wells as a teacher. Herbert George famously wrote the novel ‘War Of The Worlds’ in which a thriving population was wiped out by a microorganism. If you’re not at all familiar with that story, then apologies for the spoiler.

spoiler

*Cut it out, Clicky… /rolls eyes…*

Fortunately, A.A. Milne was also a poet and now joins the ranks of Shakespeare, Blake, Lazarus et al. on the slab of an Underdog Anthology Dead Poets page, with a mutilation of his children’s verse ‘Now We Are Six’. It lends itself rather well to the current times…

Now We Are Sick

When it was One,
It had just begun.
When it was Two,
It was Wuhan Flu.
When it was Three
People start to flee.
When it was Four,
Italy at death’s door.
When it was Five,
Boris is alive!
But now we are sick,
Locked down and Covid-clever,
So I think we’ll be sick now for ever and ever.

Keep well, Dear Reader, and if you can’t free your body, then free your mind.

*******

Have a Song, Dear Reader… ❤

 

Someday Girl

someday (adv.)

“at some indefinite date in the future,” 1768, from some + day.

MISS SOMEDAY.

Poor Charley wooed, but wooed in vain,

From Monday until Sunday;

Still Cupid whisper’d to the swain

“You’ll conquer Betsey Someday.”

[“The Port Folio,” June 1816]

*Hello, Clicky… /lights up… That’s a good quality vid… /drags… Who uploaded it?*

MadFranko008 posts Blondie Sunday Girl on YT

*Figures… /rolls eyes…*

Good afternoon, Dear Reader. Yesterday I received a care package from my friends Legs and Poppy. Fortunately, I knew it was coming…

Leggy tweets Roob about a mystery gift

So one parcel, Dear Reader, containing three items, one of which was a mystery thing, and two were signed. Let’s look at each in order…

Samuel’s Girl

I’d recently given a copy of ‘Six in Five in Four‘ to my IT Director at work. For his holiday; he was going sailing for a week, and so in desperate need of a collection of short stories, for dipping into when not doing important things with ropes and sails…

Roob tells Leggy about Nick

Samuel's Girl Signed To Nick

*/puffs… Kit Kat does take nice photos with his phone, Clicky…*

Mad Men

Mad Men Expanded

Although Poppy’s DVD gift was not a mystery, Dear Reader, it did have an element of surprise…

Mad Men in Danish

*/flicks ASH… Utter madness, Clicky… /drags… Still the play’s the…*

Mystery Thing

The third item in the care package was indeed signed, Dear Reader, but it wasn’t a book…

Hi Ruth

Final got this posted! The book and DVD are in the bottom of the box. On top is something I had no idea what to do with, so I thought “I know, I’ll lumber Ruth with it.” So here it is 😀

Six in Five in Four Original Artwork Signed

Do with it as you will, it probably burns well 😉

Kevin

Leggy had sent me his original artwork for the cover of ‘Six in Five in Four’! On the reverse, written faintly in pencil, were the names of all six Anthology authors, alongside their alchemy symbol. Thing Two, a.k.a. Kit Kat, was most intrigued by this; he even took a copy of the book away to read…

snoopy faint

*I know! …/stubs butt… That’s all it fucking took to get him interested, Clicky…*

Leggy tells Roob to go hang

I’ve hung Leggy’s book cover artwork in pride of place, Dear Reader, above the place where I lay down… my head to sleep… perchance to dream…

Bedroom Wall

Have a Song ❤

 

‘Morning Run’ – An Underdog Anthology Tale

Dear Reader, the next volume of the Underdog Anthology – Treeskull Stories – is on track to be published for Halloween…

UA3 cover

This time I have contributed one story and the Afterword, as well as providing copy editing services to Leggy. This is a pleasure, not a chore, as I get to read the fabulous contributions from the other authors first. And for free…

*Clicky, that’s free knot three…*

*/rolls eyes…*

In anticipation of publication, I thought I’d share one of my stories from Anthology 2 with you, Dear Reader. So here is ‘Morning Run’ for your entertainment… Enjoy! 😀

*******

MORNING RUN

By Roo B. Doo

Gasping with pain, Marcus pulled the graffiti daubed door open and peered into the murk inside. The hinges squealed their resistance in the spring morning that should have been filled with birdsong but was disquietingly absent. He sniffed in disgust at the dank gloominess but the room appeared empty, and Marcus was more than happy about that – the thought of defecating anywhere other than his own bathroom filled him with dread but he doubted he would be able to sprint back home in time. As if in agreement, his stomach growled noisily.

Usually Marcus picked up the pace when he ran past the public toilets on his early morning jog through the park. The low, stone structure, vividly tagged in garish painted symbols, sat at the far point of his circuit. Set back from the path and surrounded by shady trees, it had an air of quiet menace in its seedy isolation, a haven for druggies and vandals, pervs too no doubt. Today, however, a crunching gut spasm had assailed Marcus as he approached the building. He’d pulled up sharply, clutching his stomach at the sudden crippling pain.

Marcus swore at himself for thinking he could just run off the sluggishness he’d felt at the previous night’s overindulgence at the local curry house. And the beery one at the pub beforehand. For months he’d been on a strict diet regime in training for the London Marathon. It was just rotten timing that his best friend Craig had chosen Easter, the weekend before, to get married. As Best Man there was no way Marcus could miss the stag night, and a stag is a stag – there’s no point going if you didn’t stagger a bit as a result. It would be his only blow out and, besides, he’d have a whole week to recover before the big race.

Although his guts were wildly churning, Marcus remained reluctant to go inside. He was okay pissing in public toilets but shitting was another matter. He couldn’t stand the thought of exposing his backside to where other naked backsides had rubbed or smeared, nor the thought of anyone listening in, passively participating and passing judgement on the size of his bowel.

He briefly squatted down in the doorway to scan for the feet of hidden stall occupants, and instantly regretted it. The pressure inside him moved and there was an audible glug! Marcus tensed his arsehole; it felt like a splenetic Vesuvius ready to blow its top. With a final nervous glance behind to make sure nobody was about to follow him in, Marcus stepped inside.

The gloom deepened as the main door swung closed behind him with a creaking thump. Now the eerie silence was broken by a leaking tap’s plink, plink, plink from the wash basin to his left, accompanied by the continued rumble from his guts. There were three toilet stalls in front of him and he made for the nearest, dodging the dirty puddles strewn with litter, tugging urgently at the drawstring on his shorts. Marcus was determined to spend as little time in the place as possible.

The cubicle door swung open at his touch, revealing a filthy, shit filled toilet. A worn and dirty trainer, half submerged among the turds, listed near the top of the bowl. He moved on to the next but that too was blocked. Fresh beads of sweat prickled Marcus’ brow, his dread intensified – if the last one was in as bad a condition he didn’t know what he would do. However, the last stall at least looked relatively clean and it had a lock on the door. Bonus! Marcus thought as he whipped down his shorts, sank onto the toilet seat with a resounding thump and let go.

He braced his hands against the cubicle walls to hold himself up as he felt the world cascading out of his arse, before splashing back to soak his crack and balls. Both relief at the release and cold revulsion washed through Marcus, as his breath rasped with every squeeze.

“Arghhh!” he screamed aloud as his gut achingly contracted again, but by now Marcus cared little if anyone was there to hear him; he just had to get it all out.

He closed his eyes and swore again at his stupidity. He just had to play the big man, didn’t he? Buying another round of beers, choosing the hottest and spiciest dishes on the menu, followed by shots, lots of shots. True, it had been a hell of a fun evening but, by God, he was regretting his decisions now. Not to mention Craig’s wedding was later that day; he only hoped he would have sufficient time to recover before then. With a grimace, Marcus resolved to take a double dose of imodium and have a shower as soon as he got home.

He shifted his position as the stinging flow turned into a trickle, releasing a waft of putridity that made him recoil and hold his nose. Reaching for the toilet roll he found the holder sheathed only with an empty cardboard tube. He slapped at it angrily and looked around but there was nothing else to clean himself up with. Sighing loudly, Marcus pulled off his outer vest top, balled it up and started to wipe his backside. It was one of his favourites but he would have to leave it – there was no way he was carrying it back home.

Feeling drained, Marcus stood up and pulled hard on the toilet chain, eager to flush the contents of his bowels away, but the only thing it made was an empty clank. He pulled again and again. Nothing. Wrinkling his nose in disgust, Marcus peered into the toilet bowl as he pulled up his shorts. Shit splattered the inside and dribbled down into a dark brown pool of his slurry. He had to get out there fast before anyone else came by. Flinging the balled vest top to the floor he turned to leave.

The lock on the door refused to budge. Marcus rattled it hard but it was stuck fast. He tried ramming the door open with his shoulder before remembering that it swung inwards. He kicked at it in frustration but the door remained firmly closed.

“What the fuck?!”

Plop… The sound came from behind him. Plop… plop.

Marcus turned around slowly to see movement in the bowl. The shit pool bubbled and burst like the hot mud springs he’d seen once before whilst on holiday in New Zealand. He stood there transfixed as more and more bubbles broke through the surface. Plop pop plop…

A slimy brown finger poked up suddenly, followed by another. Marcus flattened himself against the door, staring aghast as a hand emerged from the mess, fingertips feeling out, looking for purchase on the porcelain. A second hand shot up and gripped the edge of the toilet seat, pulling, heaving first a shoulder and then an oozing head up and out of the bowl.

Eyes wide with horror and disbelief, Marcus turned and hammered at the door, frantically grabbing at the lock. “LET ME OUT!”

A horrendous sucking sound caused Marcus to turn around again and he screamed to see the abomination now had a torso, rippling turds for muscles. A fat, pink worm poked out of the head, like an obscene tongue, tasting the air. Reaching out with dripping hands, the detestation gave Marcus a shit-eating grin before emitting a thunderous burp, sending a foul spray of ordure with a stench like an eyeful of needles.

Marcus screamed again and dropped to the filthy, wet floor, squirming in a frenetic attempt to escape from under the door. He kicked out as slimy hands grabbed at his legs and he felt a squelching slap on the back of his thigh. With an almighty heave, he pulled himself free of the gap and out.

Howling in terror, Marcus picked himself up and ran.

*******

Dogma Shit Demon

*Alright! Sheesh… I’m new to this writing lark, Clicky, let alone horror fiction…*

*Well, let’s hope so, eh?*

So, if you’re in need of a book of short stories for toilet reading this Halloween, Dear Reader, I highly recommend you try ‘Underdog Anthology III’ from Leg Iron Books