The Piper 3 The Pretorist. Giving My Unpublished Book An Airing…

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Although the day had begun with a cold dew upon the grasses and shrubs of this foreign land, it had managed to climb itself out of its torpor and by midday it had become extremely hot. Petras told her that she needed to cover her head or else she would be struck by the sun. She knew that it was important to follow his advice but she had no additional clothing with which to make a protective covering. The cruelty of the land, however, provided the sought after material.

They had been travelling for just a few hours when they came across the first village. Village was a loose term for the burnt out remnants. Scattered amongst the ruins, Kate thought she saw piles of rags. She was firstly confused at both the sight of the destruction and discarded clothing. She turned to the boy for some explanation before realisation shone its harsh light upon her.

“But?” the question choked her thoughts as revulsion and horror flooded up from the deep pit of her stomach. She bent double and heaved upon whatever there was in her emptiness. The pain of the act wrenched her disbelief from her.

Petras had seen so much like this that now he was now blind to the horrors. For him, the piles of rags were just that. He had stopped considering the rotting corpses that lay within them. What Petras saw was the chance to get some cloth that would save the girl’s head from the unrelenting attention of the sun that was now burning towards its apex. He was already returning from his first forage holding his offering before him, when he saw that the girl was doubled over and trying her best to vomit, he thought that it must be because the sun had already begun to work its inevitable ways upon her.

“Here,” he whispered caringly pulling a goat skin filled with water from beneath his robe, “drink this, but not quickly.”

The girl looked up at him and her face displayed the streams of tears that had cut through the reddened dust that had settled upon her. She pushed the skin away.

“What happened here? What type of a world is this?”

The boy was puzzled momentarily, her questions were accusations and he did not comprehend them. She was staring past him, her gaze trapped by the scene beyond. He followed her focus and finally saw what she saw, smelt what she smelt.

“It’s Pan. This is what he does.”

Kate was somewhere else. She was back in her room, hidden behind the flimsy excuse of a barrier. Inches away from her, was the dark thing. She knew its mocking tone, heard its invitations. This was The Piper, the same menace that was sweeping across this other world. Pan was the child that The Piper had grown from. Pan was the devilish merriment that accompanied murder and The Piper was its adult embodiment. Even evil cannot deny time, she thought.

She knew death as she understood the carnage before her. This was the work of an adolescent consciousness, these corpses that were like leftover play things that had lost their novelty. This was the other side of the promise, the realisation of the world according to Pan. A thought struck her, if this thing could age, then it could die.

Petras had been reading her mind.

“You want to kill him don’t you?”

Kate’s eyes burnt with intent.

“If you truly wish to kill him, I’ll work with you.”

“Why does he do this?” she asked after a time.

“He does it because he enjoys it. He desires to turn children against their parents, against the world. He leaves the bodies as a reminder of his power.”

“Why do they follow him?”

“Because he makes them believe and want to be part of his family. He promises everything a young mind could wish for and all they have to do in return is to show devotion. The other gods, well they just sit on high, this one, and trust me, he is a god, joins in the fray. He is their leader and their father. He is their brother and the sharp stab of wonder that comes about when the impossible is made real. Pan is god of madness.”

Indeed, Kate believed him to be so. She believed in the world that he had managed to bring into being. She believed in the fact of The Purge and equally believed that this world, this ancient world in which she had awoken, was most definitely real. She could touch it and it could hurt her. But if it could hurt her, she surely could hurt it, even to the death.

As she was considering the implications of this new state, she noticed that the eyes of the boy had become alert to something. The air around them was no longer filled with the industry of insects or the occasional call of birds. The very air had stilled and she heard it; silence. Silence, complete and utter, as if the whole landscape was hushed in anticipation or angst. Kate felt the old fear return but controlled it. Petras had her by her arm and was pulling her down and into the cover of a partially burnt hut. She noticed, with sadness, the remains of an uneaten meal discarded on a table. Not even time for one last supper.

They waited crouching in their hurried hiding place, the seconds of time straining ahead of them. Petras, watched the open ground, covering all angles with the eyes of one who had survived the hunters. Not for the first time, she found herself giving thanks to whatever force had brought the two together. This boy was part of it, had always been a part of it, and their trajectories had been forced to intersect. He knew this world as Joel had known the other. If Joel was to be found then she was sure that Petras would discover him. However, more important was his ability to read the land and its signals of danger. She watched him and trusted his instincts. Something caught his eye and she too tried to locate it.

Beyond the larger pile of bodies, which she had mistaken for clothes, the village fell away down a hill that led to the valley in which the river ran. Anything approaching the village from this side would have to climb a rocky path that was mainly suitable for goats or adventurous youngsters. Whatever, was now on the outskirts of the village, was coming from that direction, keeping low and out of sight. Both her and the boy waited and watched. They remained suspended in their vigil for some time knowing that to break this would give the game away. The sun beat down upon the dead and living assured of its own safety.

Kate felt a tug on her sleeve and looked at Petras. His eyes had become more intent and did not turn to explain. Instead, he offered the slightest of nods, a gesture that directed her own gaze. At first she saw nothing, just the waves of warm air rising from the ground. Then she saw the object of his attention. The top of a head bobbed up from behind one of the outlying corpses. The movement was almost indiscernible and she would have missed it completely if Petras had not been there. Now she was able to see it clearly as it moved stealthily along the ground. After some more time, it raised itself onto its feet and Kate could see that it was human. It was a child even younger than themselves.

Still they watched it and their caution was rewarded when the child, having carried out its recognisance, did one final sweep of the ruins with a slow and deliberate circle and raised its arms into a wave. The signal made, more emerged from the hillside approach. Kate counted six and noticed that one of their number was an elderly man creaking in the sunlight.

“Don’t disturb the dead,” the man uttered,“ but see if there is anything that we can use. We need bread if there is any and maybe some wine. I have had nothing but river water for the past three weeks and I think that I have imbibed the very nymphs themselves.”

The old man laughed to himself but nothing rose from the group to whom he was talking. Instead, they made their way into different directions seemingly set upon answering their mission.  Kate and Petras kept low unaware that behind them a hushed pair of feet was making its way towards their position. Indeed, the only warning they received was the one that was cried out in alarm for the rest to hear.

Within moments, the entire flock were upon them. From nowhere, it seemed, they had produced rude but lethal looking weapons. Kate, who had not fully responded to the cry of alarm, found herself caught in a fierce headlock with the blade of a knife across her throat. Her assailant gripped the roots of her hair so that her throat became more exposed. Seeing this, Petras pulled back from his instinctive response, that was to throw himself upon the deadly attacker, and quickly searched for a weapon for himself.

The time it took for him to do this was enough to allow the rest of the pack to fall upon him. He lashed out with feet and arms landing punches and kicks whilst receiving many more back in return.

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Finally subdued, his face pushed into the dirt, he too felt the sharpness of cold metal against his throat. They had been undone before they had even begun.

 

 

 

 

 

Eureka Is Wasted In The Early Hours…

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It’s usually a full bladder that wakes me in the early hours, but last night was different. Last night I was woken by a dream.

The dream was not a bad one, not a nightmare of escape when the ground one walks on turns to sludge, and the legs one depends upon become limp nothings. The dream that I had was a writer’s answer. It was a plot conceit, a narrative that connected both beginning and end. I was pleased and swore to remember my epiphany for the morning.

I visited the loo to quell my bladder’s urgings and on the way back into bed, sneaking as quietly as any mouse could ever sneak, my wife woke and walked in darkness to the same destination that had summoned me moments before. On returning to bed, she whispered in sleep-drugged words that she dreamt that she was pregnant.

It took me over an hour to find my way back into my slumber. The birds were already trumpeting the arrival of a new day, but eventually I fell back into that Dead Sea-float of oblivion.

When morning, the morning with the mugs of tea, the showers, and the dull threat of work arrived, my dream was gone.

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No mater how hard I have tried, it refuses to be revived…

But let’s see. 

I Am Legend…

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When the world goes mad, one must accept madness as sanity; since sanity is, in the last analysis, nothing but the madness on which the whole world happens to agree.

George Bernard Shaw

My Adventures in Everyday Madness have continued to find new places to visit. I also return to some older places in order to uncover evidence of my supposition. More than any other site of archaeological interest has been the rich pickings of education.

My assertion has long held it to be the case that it is in this area that we find the greatest divergence from presupposed norms of society. In their day, schools were safe places as long as one could navigate one’s way between the accepted school bullies and the kids who just wanted to kick crap out of you for a bit of fun. At least the neanderthals on the playground stopped when they got bored. Teachers sometimes felt that they had a duty to beat some civilised behaviour into you.

I am over-egging this last bit a little in order to bring some Dickensian perspective to the whole issue. The beating we got from teachers were usually well deserved intentions, and totally in line with contemporary thinking. In those days, teachers were trying to help build a better society. Schools of today seem not to know what they are doing or why they are supposed to be doing it.

Once upon a time there were league tables. It was like an everyman’s Saturday tea-time when the football results came in. The pundits would tot up the scores and the results and put the football teams (not soccer; although we did go through a stage in the 1970s when we called it so..what was all that about?)into some logical order. At the end of the season, the teams with the most points got to call themselves the best, until the next season started. This was sport, not education.

In recent years, sport has become the opium of the people and the gangs who run it are called big business. It’s all suited and booted, hedge-funds, managing for success, and muchas, muchas money. Education, the great circus of society, has followed. And it has left me behind wondering what on earth is going on.

I can remember back in the ‘noughties’ when schools started becoming mini marketing machines. Flashy booklets were printed to encourage parents to send their offspring (little cash calves) to various places of instruction. Posters of smiling kids studying seriously took to the back of buses. And press-melees would form outside of successful or very unsuccessful schools on results day. I can remember thinking that this was the start of some form of popular insanity.

As time has worn on, this has become so much part of the norm that anyone who suggests otherwise needs urgent reprogramming or placed in an institution (or a supermarket stacking shelves).

Robert Neville looked out over the new people of the earth. he knew he did not belong to them; he knew that, like the vampires, he was anathema and black terror to be destroyed. And, abruptly, the concept came, amusing to him even in his pain. 

A coughing chuckle filled his throat. he turned and leaned against the wall while he swallowed his pills. Full circle, he thought while the final lethargy crept into his limbs. full circle. A new terror born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever.

i-am-legend

I am legend.

Richard Matheson

 

Piste-Off…

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Woden’s Day has arrived in all its Norse finery. There was a time when this day was worshipped just as much as Fry-Up Day when all of the sops and left-overs from the week’s cooking were thrown into a huge greasy vat of pig-shavings and fried until all the evil and goodness had been banished. Archaeologists believe that this is why people at that time live longer than their fellow Earth-dwellers (twenty-one average years as opposed to seventeen rather less than average).

Recently, a giant Viking turd has been uncovered in York and it is believed that this is again evidence of a very advanced culture whose dietary habits and tastes match the very best of own own.

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Turds to one side. Woden’s Day is the centre of the work week which means that those of us on the hamster-wheel of life can look up, look back, and look ahead to the two slim days of relaxation after Fry-Up Day.

In my most shallow wisdom, I decided to name this day, The Top Of The Piste Day as I believed that all of us hamsters had spent Moon Day and Shoes Day climbing up that great edifice of the mountain face and now at Giant Turd’s Day we are ready to launch ourselves down the slippery slope and into the weekend. This is where we get Furs Day from as it is what is required on that cold mountain-top whereas Sitting day is what we do after a good pig-oil fry-up.

Unfortunately, Soon Day reminds us of our trials to come. 

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Bark at the Moon all day after that… 

My Blog Sucks…

 

via The Story Of A Blog…Readafterburnout.com