Tag Archives: fiction

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.

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The Wiles Of Decay Chapter two

The previous chapter can be found here: http://wp.me/p4EC5E-oa

‘Beckersley!’

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.

 

The Wiles Of Decay Chapter One

A brief introduction – I started writing the story a long while ago, and revisited it on writon.amazon which is now sadly deceased. I’ve currently got eleven ready-to-go chapters, a couple more almost there, and some bits for the rest. However there’s no guarantee that I’ll get round to finishing  it, so fare warning given 🙂 And now….

 

Chapter One

Torn hangings dangling from the roof, twisted around tall marble columns that rose up to support the huge vaulted ceiling. Tables scattered around walls damp with condensation; dusty velvet clothes thrown across them and tarnished silver set down upon them. The first of the guests arrive; a stately woman in the party of Helios, flame-coloured dress embellished with limp rays of material as if the sun could catch a cold; clutched in her hand a small child as Mercury, feathers bedraggled and forlorn. They are greeted by a musty footman, all damp and saggy-clad. It is the Emuschion-Ball, and all must come to pay it tribute.

Cats are generally not desired, but one is loping around the ballroom with a languid interest in the scattered chairs that cluster in strange groups around its edges, and also steps in a man dressed as the king of the felines, with shaggy beard and complimenting synthetic mane. The costume itself is shabby-threadbare, the forlornness of the tail’s tassel only emphasised by the shine nearby. His friend, single-horn craftily strapped to head and white-velvet costume only mildly stained is the next to enter, greats the musty footman before that official can do the same by him, and generally goes around attempting to be agreeable. This was most disagreeable to the others, and it only stopped when the man dressed as the haunted drunkard entered the room.

His eyes bulged, red-shot and swollen, his drink-besmirched attire ruffled as it had been in the more practical scuffle, not the  genteel ‘incident’ so beloved of the  pretentious lower upper-class. The sight of him quite depressed the unicorn, who responded to this downturn of the spirit by visiting one of the velvet-draped tables in order to explore the ancient, mostly empty bottles that had been brought there. The three graces arrived after that with their mother, and it seemed that all would be good for the first dance.

A small orchestra, more  a collection of quart- and quintets that had been gathered together than any semblance of a unit- began to play, the seeping melancholy of the tune only somewhat disturbed by the fact one violin and a tuba were very much behind the tempo. The tuba itself could have been one of the guests; a large man of resounding proportions with a face that had fallen in, he wore a jester’s hat embellished with tarnished bells that gave the ghost of a jingle with every note he played. The dancers paired up and the dance began; so terrifying a prospect that sent some of the smaller children into tears of terror. More guests arrive the whole time; sad guests, haughty guests, depressed guests, cheerful guests; all dressed as something they are not, in costume imperfect.  For this is the Emuschion ball, and all must come .

It is a little past the hour, and comes the first disaster. The haunted drunk will be haunted no longer, not if his contorted face and recumbent pose is a teller of things true. It is poison of course, that age-old tradition of doing away with the one you dislike in full view of the crowd by means ingested; and the musty footman and another must carry him next door, to the ruined dining-room for the house. Here, on great stone slabs that make up the bare floor the victim can lie at peace, his identity as undisturbed as his corpse. The death having dampened the already lowered mood, a pause is declared; and all take to the tables to talk and remember not to eat. The Lion engages in fierce debate with the Unicorn, the splendid Sun is magnificent in its cruelty to Mercury who blushes under the withering heat, and the three graces are divided among the varying groups leaving their mother with none to converse. The cat, long banished by the humans’ dance, reappears to once more assert his rule over this, his fiefdom, and the most melancholy of men debates whether life is worth even the effort of chasing it away.

And now a late guest arrives, clad in the black robes of death.

The outcry is near-universal, and they run at him verbally, hurling polite abuse. The figure inclines its head as if in acceptance and withdraws, and the night’s incidents come to an eventful end.

 

Carpets

There are few things that go under the radar as much as carpets. This is a mistake on Humanities part, as the woven mass of the downtrodden will one day rise to destroy them.

In one parallel dimension very similar to ours, this happened two years ago. To travel there is to see a grim vision of the improbable future; carpets lying python-like in suspicious mounds, suffocated corpses gently decomposing beneath them. In the houses things are even more grim; tight wads block the doors and the last echoing screams defy physics to allow the appropriate suggestion of danger. Beedy woven eyes follow you wherever you go; and the slinking rustle is to the interdimentional tourist what the sound of a steamroller is to tarmac. Don’t take my word for it; go and see it for yourself. You’re guaranteed to be floored.

Severely Odd has also published stories on Amazon. Hint hint.

Growing Pains

Jack first noticed that he’d started growing when his head hit the ceiling. How he had managed to miss the fact that he had left a dent in the lintel he never worked out, but once he’d managed to solve the equally puzzling question of how to get out of the room he made his way to the doctor.

‘ In my professional opinion,’ the doctor said; ‘you are growing.’

‘But what’s causing it?’ Jack asked

‘That,’ said the doctor; ‘is a very good question. We’ll probably dissect you when you die to find out.’

This, Jack decided, wasn’t helpful; and so he decided to leave. ‘Watch the lintel!’ Cried the doctor.

The next week was torture for Jack, at least until he stopped hitting trees. After that milestone was reached his head no longer hurt from constant bangs, although the constant climbing attempts by lesser mortals were annoying. But with the absence of pain came a new worry: would it soon be replaced with an absence of oxygen as he reached ever greater heights? We’ll, we will never know, because three days after that thought first occured Jack died, having been hacked down by an urchin who was being pursued by a giant of the fee-fo-fum variety. Luckily he had left his body to science; but all they learnt upon autopsy was that he had had a fondness for beans.

Hats

There are times when you don’t want to have to worry about what is on your head. One of these times is when trekking through the endless desert of South Musenland. There the preditors swoop down from above and scoop out the brains of their prey with sharp spoon-like claws, but that is not what we speak about here. Our tale takes place in the urban settings of Goo, in North Musenland. Here, a man with a hat strides into a club, and despite the exhortations of the butler, refuses to remove his hat. No amount of pleading can induce him to remove it, and he is eventually allowed to retain it. This departure from the strict rules of half a century is only counternanced due to his being the Prime Minister; a man whose exploits in the southern wastelands are only overshadowed by his reputation as a thinker. And indeed, if people had known, these two things were the cause of his hat habit; for his reputation for the latter could only be undermined by the legacy of the former: the hollow scoop of his egg-cup skull.

Vampire Cats

They came at night, when all was dark. Sleek, vicious shapes, teeth sharp and claws brights under the thin light of a watery moon; the unearthly howls of the wolves echoing throughout the village. Terry hated them almost as much as he hated his name, which was pretty rubbish for a Transylvanian. But it was the vampire cats that he hated more; the way they shrieked their song, the way they pounced on the unwary, and the way they left dead songbirds everywhere meant that Terry was determined to stop the scourge once and for all, and so he sat now in the early evening, waiting for what he knew would come. And then, as the last of the people in the village hurried home and piled the furniture and most expendable children against the door as a barricade, Terry lifted his butterfly net and brought it down hard. When he brought it up again a bat was struggling within.

‘Why?!’ it said.

‘Because I want to speak to you, Terry  replied.

‘So phone!’ said the bat; ‘You do this every time! It’s ridiculous!’

‘You never answer the phone,’ Terry said, twisting the net so the Bat could fly free, which it did before flapping so that it hovered opposite him at head height. ‘I want to know why the cats are turning  undead again. The Count promised last time.’

‘The Count also promised not to eat anyone,’ the bat pointed out.

‘But he didn’t eat anyone,’ Terry replied. ‘It’s strictly drinking with him. ‘

The bat looked at him with an apologetic air and shrugged its wings as if to say ‘can’t do anything about it.’ Terry sighed, and took up his stick. It was time to visit the castle again.

The castle was big, and forbidding, and foreboding, and generally loomed. It also gave off the distinct impression that it was trying too hard. Terry found the way annoying; mainly as he had to shoot half a dozen vampire cats with a crossbow that fired silver quarrels. This did not slow him down for long though, and soon he came before the door, barred and solid as the night was black. He knocked, and the door fell over.

‘What is it now?’ boomed a voice.

‘I’ve come to complain about the cats,’ Terry said.

‘And you had to knock over the door?’ Terry found himself feeling defensive.

‘I just knocked,’ he said as he skewered a cat sneaking up behind him with an over-shoulder shot. ‘And I’ts about these damn cats. You promised you’d not have any more.’

The count appeared before him in a flash.

‘Vampire cats?’ he asked; ‘again?’

‘Yes,’ Terry said; ‘are you going to tell me you didn’t make them? Because you’re the only one who does that sort of thing.’

The count looked guilty.

‘We’ll, I didn’t; I mean, not quite. you see’ –

He broke off abruptly, staring down.

‘Well?’ prompted Terry, as the Count looked wretched.

‘I think I know where they came from.’ he siad, and Terry glared at him.

‘What did you do?’ he said, and suddenly two things happened;  he felt a sharp pain in his ankle and the Count said in a guilty rush:

‘I may have made vampire mice.’

More odd stories and absurdist fiction by Severley Odd can be found on Amazon