Oct 31, 2011

The Fence


       The stranger swore his innocence to the end but the hanging commenced without mercy on the Village Green.  It took a long time, and many turned their backs to the gallows, uncomfortable.  
     "Cursed be Ye'," he rasped, his face mottled with hopeless fury.  A final shudder, and he was dead.  Those who saw his bulging eyes gape open one last time wished they hadn't. 
     Clive, the town's blacksmith and gravedigger, cut down the body, gave it a kick, to check, and hefted it to the waiting cart. The crowd dispersed as the oxen carried the stranger's remains away.
     Impatient to get back to the tavern and partake in the merrymaking of the spontaneous event, Clive passed the church graveyard with a grimace. He resented the extra distance to the unmarked hole at the edge of town but there was naught for it.  The stranger would not be buried in the churchyard.  Only townspeople and members of the congregation were buried in the Church's shadow and afforded the protection of the iron fence surrounding the small graveyard.  Criminals and paupers went to the swamp.  
     Clive cursed the slow oxen and slapped their haunches all the way to the intended plot. He backed the cart as close as he could to the shallow grave and shoved the body to the ground. 
     A stupid and greedy man, he checked the pockets of the stranger first. He found a coin and pocketed it, but was disappointed until he pried open the stranger's mouth.  Three gold teeth glinted. He yanked them out quickly with the forceps he wore on his belt.
     He rolled the body into the grave, spat, and hastily refilled the hole.  Soon he was on his way.
     Feeling rich with his scavenged gains he spent much coin that night, filling his tankard again and again with bitter autumn ale. By all witness accounts, he left the tavern in a boisterous, jovial mood.
* * * 
     The next morning the townsfolk found Clive by the Churchyard on the frost-covered ground, his iron forceps beside him, rusty with dried blood and bits of tissue. Every tooth in his head gone, his jaw gaped empty but for the bloody pits.
     Had Clive understood the protective properties of iron better he might have survived that fateful fall night.   The iron fence around the graveyard doesn't keep evil out - it keeps it in.

Oct 20, 2011

Authorities Investigate Reports Count Olaf is Impersonating Lemony Snicket

     Authorities are reacting to rumors that Count Olaf is impersonating children's author Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket. 
     "What other conclusion can be reached?" whisper parents.  Children are being indoctrinated to support Occupy Wall Street protests by videos released by Handler/Snicket.
     Count Olaf, the nefarious character, has been heard to say,"All that I ask is that you do each and every little thing that pops into my head, while I enjoy the enormous fortune your parents left behind."

    Comments on Snicket's website fuel rumors: Written in Snicket’s trademark black comedic voice, the observations range from the instructive to the cheeky: “People who say money doesn’t matter are like people who say cake doesn’t matter — it’s probably because they’ve already had a few slices,” he writes.
     "Sounds like Olaf to me," one child was heard to say, looking around nervously. 
     As kids continue to watch the Occupy Wall Street movement unfold around the world, Snicket isn’t the only one trying to teach them what anti-capitalism means reports warn, echoing the eerily similar statements made in the past by the count and his troupe who openly discussed his intentions to embezzle the Baudelaire children's inheritance.  Authorities worry Count Olaf has crafted a grand scheme to steal all children's inheritance.  Signs at protests support the confiscation of estates.
     Has Olaf has reassembled his gang of shady accomplices?  Sightings of freakish characters resembling Count Olaf's theater troupe, described as a motley crew which includes a man with hooks for hands, a bald man with a long nose, two women with white-powdered faces, and one who is so obese as to resemble neither man nor a woman, surface at protests
     Authorities warn parents and children to be on the lookout for Olaf and his accomplices, which will be difficult as Olaf and his ilk are masters of disguise, and have escaped capture thus far.  

Oct 18, 2011

Mother told me there'd be days like these


    October.  Busy time of year. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Dead. Lines. I just process 'em - I have a friend who deals with the ones who go over the wall. 
     Dead.    Lines.
     Lost souls get backed up if you don't stay right on top of them. This one isn't happy with where they are going. That one has unfinished business. blah blah blah. The whining gets to you. Now serving number 8,936, 472, 785. Next.
     Days like this I need an assistant but good help is so hard to find. Most applicants see the position as a stepping stone, and corporate sabotage is always a concern. Some would lift your best spells and curses, some are just using you to climb the corporate ladder - they don't know the back door is at the top. Some have aspirations of Disney. Not everyone is a Sabrina but they don't want to hear the truth.

     My left arm for a Renfield. Yeah, he had a few problems, needed occasional stroking and fresh blood, but all in all he was a loyal employee fulfilled by his career choice.

Oct 16, 2011

Darkness in the Hills

The Warriors spread in formation searching a mountain slope. Each craggy rock face and chasm, each ridge and depression. Evil touched the air, but it the source was indeterminable. A foul whiff, but nothing strong enough to follow.                   

The Keeper and the Alabaster Chalice

Book II of The Black Ledge Series

Oct 14, 2011

Tragic Magic

     A deafening crack shook the kitchen. Harriet glanced around the kitchen with anticipation for what she'd conjured, but when her eyes rested upon it, her spirits sank.
     The bunny twitched his nose and gave her a baleful look.
     Darn it. Money, not bunny.
The old kitchen was hot from the fire.  Harriet waved the smelly fumes away and wiped the perspiration from her forehead. Charred and tattered, her sleeve left a streak of soot on her face. She turned the book and re-read the spell: 
     Two eyelashes from a Pekin duck and the snout of a dead trout. Bring to bubbling boil, remove immediately from heat, stirring in a - rats! A gold feather - not an old feather.
     Well, this wasn't going to work - that was the last of the eyelashes. Now what? 
     She needed cash - not the least of which was to get some more eyelashes. 
     She eyed the bunny, thinking. He eyed her back, not liking what she was thinking...

to be continued

Oct 10, 2011

Columbus Day

    He wasn't the first, you know.  Like the travel section feature on a new watering hole, he screwed it up for those of us already here. No. There is no valet parking. No. There's no drink special. Or Aztec gold. Or Fountain of Youth.
     Indies? Yeah, take a left at the second atoll.
     He wasn't so easily misdirected.
     We even tried the "I think I hear Ferdinand calling you" bit. Didn't work.
     He was on a mission. He had the funding. His sales pitch was strong. That the Earth was round was heady stuff to Isabella.  A variation on we have trouble in River City. Well, good for you. If this doesn't work out you might consider a career in telemarketing.
      So Columbus made several trips to the new world in search of land and riches. 
      But the girls all got prettier at closing time - or someone did. Modern epidemiological evidence indicates Columbus' men took syphilis home with them, later resulting in the deaths of five million across Europe.
      Gives new meaning to Last Call.