Monday, April 26, 2010

The Summoning

I drew the poker over the fire, exposing the warm orange glow of the burning wood and causing sparks to rise up into the air. I consulted the start of the scroll for the incantation which I was planning on performing. The embers of the fire were exactly as instructed by the scroll, so I stood up and went to the cupboard containing the components necessary for this preparation.

Removing the tuber of Solanum from the cupboard along with a root of Brassica rapa. I carefully grated to the size described in the scroll and then carefully pressed them into the steel pan and placed it over the heat. I consulted the scroll on my next course of action and realised that the instructions were very explicit, a steel pan wouldn't produce the correct flow of energy, I should have used a cast iron one. I dug around in my equipment cupboard and discovered a suitable dish and transfered the mixture to it.

Returning to the scroll, I read the next steps which demanded blood of pig mixed with grain of the fields and intestines filled with ground flesh mixed with the correct herbs. I went to my larder and returned with the prescribed items. Slicing them thickly I then placed them in the steel pan which I had almost foolishly used previously.

I looked over at my cauldron and saw that the water was bubbling furiously in it, just as the spell dictated. I carefully placed the ovulation of poultry into the cauldron and started to count slowly to sixty, not once, not twice, but thrice.

Once the counting was done I removed the eggs from the cauldron and then consulted the scroll for the incantation one last time to check that I hadn't missed anything. All seemed to be in order and all that remained was the final step of combining my previous preparations onto a plate and to consume them; which I planned to do with much gusto.

As I cut into the stuffed intestines with my knife, my thoughts moved to what to prepare for the noon time ritual later today. The spirit of the world guided my will and I knew immediately that I should prepare thinly sliced pig aired over smouldering pine resin within fermented and baked crushed grains. With the plans for the rest of the day settled I bit down on the reward of my labours.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tick-tock

Deadlines loom ahead,
Causing me a panicked rush
Missing perfection.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dracula vs. The Wobbly Giant Jellyfish

"So," said Dracula in his thick Transylvanian accent, "you're the one responsible for all the attacks on the seaside villages?"

The giant jellyfish shuddered a bit and started to ooze a thick clear liquid. Dracula had almost decided that no response was forth coming but then the jellyfish spoke, "Wobble wibble wobbly!"

"I thought so; there aren't many multi-tentacled, 2 meter round, semi-transparent amorphous blobs brave enough to feast on human flesh. While I admire your work, it has to end tonight, on this beach. You're not going to walk- erm, bounce," said Dracula, raising his voice in a questioning manner at the end. When the jellyfish didn't seem to object to the term bounce he continued, "You're not going to bounce away from this one."

"Wibbly wobble? Wobble wobble wobbly wobble flib!" was the oozing response from the giant ball of slime.

Dracula sucked in air through his mouth and rocked on his heals while he considered his reply. Finally he shook his head before saying "I don't. You can do whatever you like with the humans, I couldn't careless if you built a throne out of their living mangled bodies or a fine chandelier from their bones, it's what you're doing with the fear that I have to stop.

"From Spain to Russia I'm feared through Europe. I still am, but now no-one talks about me now, at least not in the towns and villages anywhere near the water. It's all-" Dracula noticed some movement at the end of one of the tentacle and raised his sword towards it, "No, don't do anything while I'm explaining myself to you or I'll just have to cut our little discussion short."

"Wubble," replied the jellyfish in a low and dejected voice.

Happy that the tentacle movement had stopped, Dracula continued his speech, "It's all just talk of you. When villagers hear a noise out in the dark it's not me they worry about now, it's you. Children now wake screaming from nightmares of tentacles pulling them down to the deep, not to razor sharp teeth draining them of their delicious blood. I had a reputation and now I want it back."

"Wobble, wibble wobble wobble wab. Wibbly wobble wob wib wobble," the blob paused as if considered it's next words before continuing, "Wobble wobbly wobble."

Dracula let out a short laugh before replying, "That's irrelevant and, by the by, quite frankly a little ridicules. So now you should-" but Dracula never finished that sentence. He had already launched himself straight at the jellyfish, driving his sword into the oozing mass right up to it's hilt.

"Ah," screamed Dracula as the secretions of the jellyfish started to seer his long dead flesh like fire. As he struggled to pull the sword out free of the body of his foe, a sting flashed across his face as one of the tentacles lashed across his face.

Dracula staggered back from the force of the blow and tried to find some steady footing on the sand. He looked back at the jellyfish just in time to see the handle of his sword be sucked fully into the jellyfish with a small slurping sound.

"Wo-Wo-Wobble," mocked the jellyfish, the fast tarnishing sword jiggling inside it in time with it's laughter.

Dracula's hand flew to his side and drew his dagger. He barely had time to bring his dagger up in front of him before a couple of tentacles thrashed at him. The dagger in his arm slashed in a wide arc, cutting straight through the first tentacle. The giant jellyfish had enough time to react to avoid a similar fate for the second tentacle. The the poisonous appendix adjusted course away from the path it had been making towards Dracula's face.

Still a little shaken from losing his sword, Dracula hadn't expected the reactions of the jellyfish to be so quick. The side of his chest was entirely exposed and the tentacle struck him hard on the side, blood quickly welling up in the gash in his cloak.

Dracula crouched down on the sand and caught his breath. A plan formed in his mind and he dropped his dagger. He launched himself up from his crouch directly towards the jellyfish. Tentacles thrashed in the air around him, but the pain from them was a minor inconvenience and wouldn't steer him from his target.

When his body was inches from the quivering sticky surface of the jellyfish's body he punched his fist into it with all his strength. The skin of the jellyfish bent but then gave way, plunging Dracula's arm deep into the acidic gel insides of the fish.

"Ahhhh!" screamed Dracula as he pressed his arm deeper into the body of this fish. He grasped forwards through the insides of his adversary, trying desperately to grasp the handle of his sword. With his body pressed against the outside skin of the jellyfish the fingers of his blistering arm felt around for the solid handle of his sword.

With one final push of effort against the body of the jellyfish he managed to get his hand gripped around his sword. This time though, instead of trying to pull it out, he tried to swing it sideways. At first there was very little movement, but with a bit of jiggling he managed to make it a bit looser.

"Waaaaaaaaabibbly," exclaimed the jellyfish as a thinner fluid started to fill the space around Dracula's arm and sword. It has hard to tell through the prickle of pain all along his arm, but Dracula was sure that this liquid didn't have the same corrosive properties as the sticky goo.

"Aha!" shouted Dracula as he manage to swing the sword by about a foot inside the jellyfish.

"Waaaa," cried the jellyfish in response.

With two more larger strokes Dracula finally pulled away from the jellyfish, sword in hand and thickly covered in the secretions of the sea creature. As his arm drew out of the hole he had punched it was followed by a steady flow of a water like liquid.

"Wobble wibble wobbly," said the jellyfish faintly, liquid squirting out of the hole faster on each syllable.

"And to you, adieu. In another life we could have been something other than enemies," replied Dracula as nobly as someone covered from head to toe in gelatinous slime can do.

Dracula stood by the corpse of his foe for a few minutes until the silence of the sea was broken by the sound of foot prints in the sand behind him. He looked over his shoulder to see a elderly man with a gold chain around his neck coming over the crest of the sand dune.

"Who are you old man?" asked Dracula as he turned to face the man, sword still raised in his hand.

"I'm the mayor or Kelafot-Upon-Sea and I want to extend the thanks of the whole village for killing the giant wobbly jellyfish. One of the village boys watched your fight from the tall grasses of the sand dunes and has told us all of your brave and righteous fight."

Dracula threw his sword onto the sand before replying, "I am only glad to have been of service to your village."

"You must return to our village to attend a feast in your honour. Even though it be dark and late we will celebrate your achievement long into the night. Will you join us and regale us with your stories of battles?" asked the mayor.

"Yes," replied Dracula, realising quite how much energy he had spent in the fight, "there will be a feast in your village tonight."

He turned back to face the jellyfish corpse one last time, a grin spreading over his face. "We'll see who is most feared now," he whispered to the dead body.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Ester Blessing

Ester opened her back door and drew in a breath of fresh morning air. The cold tingled in her nostrels with the freshness of spring. The sun hung low in the crystal clear sky, an orb of light surrounded by a canvas of pure blue.

"I do like late March mornings," she said to no one in particular. "They remind me of the new start everything gets in the coming year."

She slipped her feet into her Wellington boots and stomped off across the frosty lawn. She enjoyed every step and the faint crunch it made under her feet. This wasn't a heavy winter frost which would hang around for hours; this was a thin sprinkling of ice which would be gone in under and hour, dripping away quickly even under the feeble power of the low sun. With each step a few crystals would cling to her boots, hoping to escape their fate in the sun. The warmth of her feet was, however, a furnace compared to the gentle rays of the sun and the crystals didn't last more than a couple of steps before being transformed into tiny specs of dew.

Ester strode across the lawn with no particular purpose, she had nowhere she needed to be and nothing she needed to do. She was just happy to enjoy being out of the house and bathing in the refreshing morning light. She had decided that she'd probably wander for an hour at mot before returning to the house. Perhaps by that time some of the rest of the house would have woken up, but for now this was her time and she was determined to enjoy it as fully as possible.

As she approached the bed of green spikes on the other side of the lawn to the house she paused for a moment to bend down and look at the plants. She could see that the thick green shoots were well formed and guess that any day now the first snow drops, crocuses and other bulbs would soon errupt splashes of colour across the earth. Ester thought of the thousands of little white heads bobbing around in the cold winds, fcreating ripples of white, blue and yellow flowers at the edge of the lawn and realised that she thought that the day couldn't come soon enough. She'd had enough of winter and was fed up of the plain and earthy colours

It wasn't that she didn't enjoy winter, the long cold nights with skies darker than the blackest ink were as beautiful as a fresh spring morning, a warm summer's day or a leafy autumn evening; she just liked things to be always moving on. After enough time, anything got stale and dull, regardless of how wonderful it was to start with. At the moment it was he lack of sun, the bitterly cold winds and the sheets of ice which she wished to be rid of and she reveled in all the signs she saw that showed the coming revolution of the season.

She stood up straight from her examination of the plants in the bed and decided on a whim to walk through the orchard. All the trees would still be bear branches and the beech hedge that surrounded it would still be just tangled twigs and buds, but Ester wanted to feel the potential there; to see all the greed buds ready to burst open with fresh growth when given the right signal. She turned and walked along the edge of the bed of bulbs towards the gap in the hedge which lead to the orchard, still enjoying the crunch and give in each of the steps she took.

As she stepped into the orchard she found herself on the stage with three other players. Sat high in the branches of the furthest tree sat a female blackbird, singing her heart out as loudly and sharply as possible. The cause of the blackbird's distress was clearly evident to Ester as it lay on the ground at the feet of the tree. There, beside the roots and butresses, sat the big tom cat from the neighbours house with a struggling male blackbird caught under the cat's strong paw.

"Now here's a bit of a pickle," said Ester to herself once again. "Here's old Palmer, the cat from the Jones' house, trapping a young blackbird for sport."

She looked at the scene and weighed up the situation before deciding what to do. On one hand the blackbird should have been weary of the cat, especially as Palmer was over six years old now, so hardly in her prime hunting shape. Yet on the other hand, Palmer didn't need to hunt for food so was purely hunting for the pleasure of it. She would have already have got quite a rush from catching and pinning the blackbird, so to let him die would be a needless waste. She mulled over the options for only a split second before deciding on a course of action through not much other than a random choice.

"Scram," she shouted as she charged towards the cat, "Go on scram!"

Palmer glanced at the raging form of Ester which was flying towards her and let go of the blackbird. Palmer then ran off into the hedge at full speed. Satisfied that she had scared Palmer off, Ester slowed her run down to a slow walk and examined the blackbird carefully from a distance of a few feet.

Looking it over she could see that it was still alive and, apart from some ruffled feathers, seemed to be in good health. She hoped that the blackbird was still lying on the ground due to shock instead of a more serious injury from the cat. After a long and worrying pause, Ester noticed the wings twitch and she let out an audible sigh of relief.

Ester's release of breath seemed to be enough to finally rouse the bird from it's stunned stupor. It hopped to it's feet and in a couple of bounds took off and flew to a tree at the far end of the orchard. The female blackbird stop it's shrill cries which had been continuing throughout. It looked at Ester with a look which she would have sworn was a carefully examination and then flew off to join the other blackbird at the end of the orchard.

"I hope you have a wonderful family together with many chicks and years of happiness," Ester called after it. She stood and watched the blackbirds sing to each other in the tree for a few more minutes before turning around and walking slowly back to the house.