Monthly Archives: August 2017

The wiles of decay chapter three

Piersum Noce, grand ceremony master at Chathemville, stared forlornly at his office wall. It was a punishment that he had been moved into this room barely bigger than a box; bland walls and blank windows and boring, boring paper seemed to be all that it offered. Well, he supposed he deserved it; not being of any practical use to anyone was a major oversight on his part, all things considered. Even his position as grand ceremony master was now useless, partly because Chathemville had been sold to Elliot Wry, the mega-industrialist; and partly because it hadn’t had even a small ceremony since the previous century. It was only Wry’s insistence that he stay on in his job, one for which tradition had said a contract should be signed in blood, that he had stayed. Now he wished he hadn’t signed, and wasn’t cooped up in this room, at the mercy of anyone in need of a grand ceremonial master. But he had signed, and now faced days, no weeks of ennui descending into abject boredom and from there to who knows where? He was going to rot in this room until something could be done. He stared glumly at the wall for a bit longer, and as his slightly cork-screwed thoughts twirled through his mind, Piersum Noce began to smile.
While his employee was slowly shedding his sanity Elliot Wry, industrialist of the hour, man of the decade and generally all round insufferable man was sitting in an office quite unlike the one just described. For a start it was bigger; panelled in dark, luxurious wood and tastefully complimented in red velvet and crimson leather it gave the impression of being thrice the size. In the large, glass-fronted bookcases rows of antique and valuable books stared out with bindings great and rare; and the furniture was all of the very highest quantity. Elliot Wry was a man to indulge those he thought highly of, and there was no one he thought more highly of than himself. At present he was working out some sums in a ledger, the cost it would take to buy and refurbish Gannerhill. For Elliot Wry was an ambitious man, and the prospect of owning not just one, but two great houses tempted him enormously. He had even asked someone to attend that funny ball they had there- what did they call it again?- the Emuschion-Ball, and had been relatively pleased when he had heard of the death. Tragedy often brought asking prices down.
The main difficulty he had to surmount was discovering who actually owned the place. He had hired a man to do the job and was waiting to hear more, but it had been a blank so far. No-one wanted to tell him, and the mere thought of anyone buying the old place, much less someone who had earnt his money, produced some startling results. Apparently one woman even fainted, while a surly man who had reached an undecipherable rank in the military had made dark suggestions as to the possibilities of a duel. Wry had laughed at the report; money would be an answer to anything, even to hire someone to duel on his behalf if such ceremonies had still been around. But no-one had said a thing, and short of offering them a sum sufficiently obscene to dwarf their pride, Wry wasn’t getting anything out of them. He did the final sums and looked at the result. Was it worth it? He looked again and decided that it wasn’t- except for the fact the people who had been asked had heard about his interest. And if people knew that Elliot Wry wanted something, people had to see that Elliot Wry got it.
Unbeknownst to him, someone else had decided that Elliot Wry was in dire want of a comeuppance, and that someone was of broadly similar opinion to him in regards to believing that what Wry wanted Wry should get. As the unsuspecting industrialist was making his calculations, the enemy made his; and soon had come to his final sums. The enemy looked at the final figure. It was, on reflection, quite a lot of deaths. But it was well worth it; and with the grin that he always wore he paid Piersum Noce a visit. By the time he left the grand ceremony master’s smile was well on the way to maniacal; and so, when Elliot Wry’s personal secretary came to summon him, the staid older man received quite a shock.



The story begins with a boat. It was a fast boat, one that could sell in a moment. As a door-to-door salesthing it was ineffective, but selling on the high-seas; well, it was the greatest saleing vessel ever. Think of it as the reverse-pirate; one moment you would be desperately fleeing, the next moment you would be cornered and buying double glazing and life insurance. Even the royal navy was not exempt, and fought a small war just to get rid of its surpluses of subscription encyclopedias. This conflict caused untold misery and death, mainly thanks to the grammar pedants such books breed.

In the end though, time moved on, and coal replaced wind with steam. It was the end of the saleing age, an era of hot air; and politicians were suddenly everywhere.

To read more odd flash fiction ->


James was feeling a bit dead, so he went to the doctor, who screamed. People did that a lot; perhaps it was because he was not the most alive person, or perhaps it was the glowing eyes and tendency to suck souls out of them, but whatever the reason James felt hard done by. Even the souls were scant consolation, being thin and rather watery in most cases.

‘Why are you screaming?’ he asked the doctor in annoyance. The  doctor continued screaming.  ‘All I want is to know if I’m still alive, and all you can do is scream; at least the nurse isn’t doing that.’ The nurse in question was sitting there hollowly, her body trying to work out what it should do now it didn’t have a soul. The doctor continued to scream, so James sucked his one out too; this had the pleasant side-effect of  stopping the unholy noise. Annoyed, James went to the hospital, where they confirmed that he had a heart beat every few minutes, and – after thanking him for solving their bed-blocking crisis – they discharged him with a note for the Angel.

‘Not dead, eh?’ said the Angel, tapping its nose knowingly; ‘you  half-daemons are hardly alive.’

‘Doesn’t matter,’ said James; ‘I’ve got the note so there’s nothing you can do.’

The angel nodded.

‘True enough. But you made enough work for me for the moment, so I’m not going to complain.’ And he flew off in a flurry of raven-black wings.

James breathed a sigh of relief and went home. After all, he didn’t want to die; he enjoyed his work for the taxman far too much for that.




Severely Odd writes odd flash fiction under the pen-name Severely Odd. More of his work can be found on Amazon .

The Wiles Of Decay Chapter two

The previous chapter can be found here:


The call had its desired effect; the young man who answered to that name came running to attend to his mistress, so lately clothed as the sun. Beckersley himself in an indifferently shaped youth, spots having gained the upper hand in their battle for his face gave the impression of a comet or asteroid, battered by the knocks of life. He isn’t overly paid either, this latter fact being key to the actions he will subsequently undertake to such tragic effect. For now though he has to help his mistress with her coat.

Lady Caroline Ferfuffle-Flin, sole remnant of an ancient and proud family, had a face almost as twisted as her family tree. Her sole relative was a step-son whose life she was a blight on; a favour not specifically reserved for him but which she spread around with great impartiality. That someone had been poisoned and not she was for many beyond comprehension and had been entered into at least one bookish individual’s list of great travesties of justice. Now she frowned and grimaced as he helped her into a coat that complimented her face by hanging like some elderly moss cl happily enveloping a particularly scrawny specimen of tree; the one thing spoiling this effect being the fact the animals who had given their lives in this pursuit of poetry had neglected to grow their fur green.

‘You are clumsy today,’ she said in the nasal tones that threatened to send the poor drudge over the edge; ‘and I shall have to insist you stop it.’

The fact that her murder didn’t take place then and there is one of the more puzzling parts of this narrative.

Beckersley, having finished this important duty of the coat, was forced to go and arrange a method of transport by which his mistress could travel. Lady Caroline, being an eccentric and thoroughly unpleasant person, was wont to change her mind at uncertain and unpredictable intervals as to what constituted proper transport. Currently this was sedan-chair, and as the last sedan-chair for hire in the town had retired after woodworm overcame the main frame of the seat and the wooden leg of one of the bearers, this meant Beckersley was under extreme pressure. His solution of recent times was the gardener- an ancient taciturn fellow- and himself carrying one that he had borrowed from a collection. Beckersley whistled, a signal for the gardener to come round to the coach-shed, and then went there himself; unlocking the door with a huge rusty key that rumour had as being originally made for the gates of heaven on strength of its being so large and ornate. Muttering under his breath, he strode into the dim interior; the only light coming from the grimy windows set high-up and too narrow to be of good use for their intended purpose. There was something that bothered Beckersly as he stepped inside, something that gave him a deep-seated anxiety and made him look around nervously. And then, with the merest of movements in the deep shadow near the back he realised what it was. There was someone already in the coach-shed.

‘Who’s there?’ he called out in an unsure voice, and a deep laugh answered him.

‘Your future.’  Beckersley turned to flee, and the gardener walked in, giving him new courage.

‘There’s someone in here trying to play games with me,’ he told his unwitting saviour.

‘Oh, aye?’ The gardener looked at him with mild disinterest; he thought that the lad was too young, too flighty and too useless to be employed, but was a kindly man when he couldn’t be bothered to be nasty. ‘Let’s have a look then,’ he added; for Beckersley was showing a marked disinclination to going any deeper into the shed.

‘Okay,’ came the reply and they advanced together, the gardener fully expecting to find one of the children who played on the remains of the estate. The coach-shed being totally empty surprised him; and after a moment he added ‘borderline insane’ to his list of the lad’s characteristics, before phlegmatically picking up his end of the sedan-chair. They took it round to the front door; Beckersley having made sure that he locked the coach-shed with extra care, and Lady Caroline was fetched and brought aboard. Then, with heaving’s of knees young and arthritic the sedan-chair was hoisted aloft and born down the street, bearing Lady Caroline in triumph towards her final destination.



He raged against the dying light, only to find it was merely a cloud. That got him angry, which was the baseline state of his existence; heading there was as often calming down as it was the opposite. A passerby noticed and asked if everything was okay; the answer was physical and definitive.

‘And now you are bleeding on my hand!’

The scream, building up to it’s impressive crechendo, was even more unnerving than having your caring enquiry end in a bloody nose, and the passerby fled. As he did so, our protagonist could only fume, which, as it turns out, was as good as it gets.