Book Extract. Click….

No context…if you have any questions simply ask in the comments. Enjoy,. 

‘I’ve looked over the children’s’ material. Some of it is quite impressive. Bit too euro-centric for here, maybe, but this could be altered. You write well, Amanda.’

Amanda smiled demurely at the compliment. ‘Thank you,’ she said quietly.

‘Oh, there’s no need to be modest,’ Stephanie replied. ‘You should see some of the material I receive.’ She rolled her eyes. ‘Ideal for reading while sitting on the toilet. And many a manuscript unfortunately stays there too. But your other work. Ah, that has real potential!’ Stephanie smiled at Amanda’s confused expression.

‘Er…what other work?’

‘Oh, come on,’ Stephanie teased. ‘It was on the flash disc.’

Oh, no, thought Amanda. Her expression was easily readable.

‘Yes, Click. I think it has great potential. That opening scene had me squirming in my seat. In a pleasurable way of course,’ she grinned.

Amanda frowned.

Samantha laughed. ‘What? Just because I’m gay you think my pants won’t occasionally get wet reading about straight sex? My, god, Amanda. You are still stuck in the laager, my girl.’

Amanda realised there was little point in arguing. Samantha would merely wring out even more mileage merely to add to her embarrassment

‘That wasn’t supposed to be on the disc. I thought I’d taken it off. I only put it there in the first place as I’d run short of space. I meant to buy another flash disc, but forgot.’

‘Just as well you did, then. Oh, and I’ve already pitched it very subtly to Joan Mirsky at Penguin and Karen Wilander at Struik. They both seem keen, but would want to see the whole manuscript, of course.  When can I read it?’

‘There is no book, Samantha. That was just a small piece I wrote as a dare.’

‘A dare? What do you mean a dare?’

Amanda sighed. ‘I was pondering certain aspects of writing with a friend. We were wondering how some of these so-called bodice ripper novels ever got into print and my friend suggested we try to write something steamy.’

Samantha took a sip of her wine, picked up the sheets of A4 from the coffee table and waved them at Amanda. ‘Bloody good start, I’d say. What happened to your friend’s attempt? Perhaps we could be onto something?’

‘She backed out. By the time she confessed to reneging I had already drafted the first chapter.’

‘And you left it at that? What for?’

‘Because, it was just an exercise. I am a children’s author, not a writer of soft porn.’

Amanda was beginning to feel put upon. She honestly thought this visit would be about introducing her and her children’s books to editors of local publishing houses.

Although Samantha had been complimentary about her children’s books she now seemed hell bent on sidestepping this area of her writing in favour of some stupid piece of smut she’d written merely as an exercise.

Immediately she stopped that train of negative thought dead in its tracks. There were millions of books and goodness knows how many thousands of authors and a dearth of genres. She might have dismissed her own attempt at writing erotic literature as nothing more than smut but who’s to say that others would agree with her assessment?  Granted, there would probably be plenty who would think it was smut, but that still left loads of readers who might lap it up. She realised she was getting lost in her own daydream.

Samantha noticed the slight change of expression.  She smiled. ‘You don’t have to publish under your own name of course.’

‘Hmm? Sorry. I was miles away.’

‘I said, you could still finish it and publish under a pseudonym.’

‘Oh, and had you a name in  mind?’

‘Well, considering the nature of the material, how about Katia Dikov?

Amanda burst out laughing. ‘Cut your what off!”

‘Not Cut anything. Katia. K.A.T.I.A. It’s Russian. She’s an Olympic athlete. Russian,    I think.  And Dikov; D.I.K.O.V’ she enunciated, ‘is a fairly common name over there.  It’s no more double entendre than Smith or Jones I expect? Plus it gives it a certain   Doctor Zhivago air about it, too. It’s just an idea.’

Even though she had reservations, there was no doubt that she was intrigued. ‘You seem quite confident that it would sell?

‘Are you suggesting that because I only publish periodicals I haven’t the acumen to know what sort of books will sell?’ There was no anger in Samantha’s tone but rather mild amusement.

‘No. No, of course not,’ Amanda quickly replied, sounding flustered.  ‘What I meant was…’ she faltered, not sure if this was in fact what she meant or merely a sign of lack of confidence in her own ability as a writer.

‘Listen to me,’ Samantha began as she uncrossed her legs, leaned forward and poured more wine.

‘Oh, no more for me’, Amanda began vaguely, making a gesture as if to cover her glass. But Samantha waved away her half-hearted protest.

‘You’re not driving anywhere so stop fretting. Amanda moved her hand away from her glass. ‘Where was I?’ Samantha asked.  ‘Yes, right.’

Samantha crossed her legs once more, leaned back in her chair and appeared to ponder on the business of publishing for a few moments before taking up her train of thought.

‘Sex sells. It’s as simple as that. Whether it’s porn or poetry.   Lady’s Chatterley’s Lover had to wait until the early sixties before it was considered “acceptable” in the UK,’ Samantha made the common hand gesture dropping in the speech marks to show derision. ‘Yet, it’s probably Lawrence’s best known novel. The controversy always adds spice. Did you know that after the obscenity trial, Penguin even included an acknowledgment in the book to the “brave jurors” who delivered a ‘not guilty vote.’ She shook her head briefly and smiled. ‘I wonder how many women of that era owe their first sexual encounter to Lawrence. For god’s sake, even the Song of Solomon has raised a few eyebrows in its time. So if I say you can write and Click will sell, then it will. All right?’

Amanda appreciated the sentiments, even if Samantha seemed to be getting a bit carried away. And a quick glance at the wine bottles on the table suggested Samantha was probably a little drunk as well.

‘I hadn’t intended to do anything with it,’ Amanda continued.  ‘It never crossed my mind that it might be worth publishing and I’m still not really comfortable with it. Besides, it’s probably derivative.’

‘Derivative! Samantha threw back her head and laughed. ‘Oh, for god’s sake. Half the books in print are probably derivative, to some extent. Even more in a genre like this.    Though critics and reviewers might say things like, “Reminiscent of Miller”, or some equally pithy platitude. Have you ever read Tropic of Cancer? No? You should. And if you haven’t read novels like this before how the hell could your work be derivative?’

‘I suppose,’ Amanda shrugged.

Samantha leaned forward again and she said in a conspiratorial tone.  ‘So, what was your inspiration for those first chapters, then? Personal experience?’

Amanda blushed to the roots of her hair. ‘No, of course not! It was just my imagination, that’s all.’ She tried to sound shocked but was not very convincing.

Samantha laughed once more. ‘So Roger’s little wife harbours some naughty fantasies, does she?’

‘No she does not!” Amanda protested. ‘It is just a story.’

‘Oh, come on, Amanda. Don’t be such a prude. Are you saying you’ve never even read or watched anything even vaguely risqué? What about Basic Instinct? God, back in the day everyone must have watched that.’

‘Yes, Roger and I saw the movie, but then, as you said, didn’t we all?’ she said. But revealing this innocuous piece of information to Samantha, even with the added qualifier, felt more like a guilty confession. And if truth be told, Amanda found the film was quite disturbing, in fact. Especially the opening scene.  She struggled to sleep for a few days after seeing it.

‘And did Roger make you tie him up in bed?” she grinned wolfishly. Now Amanda realised she was being baited.

‘No, he did not. And he didn’t check to see if there was an ice pick under the bed either.’

This broke the tension that had been building over the past few minutes and both women laughed.

Thumi wandered out onto the patio, smiled briefly at Amanda then bent to whisper something in Samantha’s ear. Samantha smiled in return and pulled Thumi’s head round so she could kiss her.

Amanda stared. In that moment she couldn’t help herself. It was the first time she had ever seen two women kiss in such an overtly sexual manner. Although it certainly wasn’t her first direct encounter with lesbianism….

For a moment a flash of memory took her back to her school days.

Copyright©Douglas Pearce 2011

Book Extract. Click. An erotic thriller.

I have posted bits of this in the past and as I have recently begun banging away at the keys on it again, thought I’d give the opening chapter an airing.

Click!

Chapter One.

She stood in front of the fire, which popped and crackled behind the brass guard. It was a reassuring sound reminding her of winter days spent at her grandmother’s.

There was the merest hint of a smile on her lips as she contemplated her reflection in the large ornate mirror over the mantelpiece.

I wonder what granny would think of my behaviour, she mused dreamily, luxuriating in the feel of the rug beneath her feet.

As she closed her eyes and sighed she heard the chink of crystal.

Then he was behind her, nuzzling the nape of her neck. His hands held her bare shoulders, drawing her back towards him. He was warm; his bare, smooth chest pressed up against her bare back.

Gently, his hands moved towards the back of her neck. With the thumb of his right hand he massaged the small area at the top of her spine sending delicious shivers through her whole body, at the same time he undid the halter of her dress with his left.

Freed of its restraint, the dress dropped to the floor, the fabric hissing faintly as the halter slid through his fingers.

She opened her eyes. He was looking at their reflection in the mirror.

His head next to hers, his dark, hazel eyes narrowing as he smiled in appreciation. She could see the tiny crow’s feet.

‘You’re beautiful,’ he breathed into her right ear.

‘Mmm,’ she moaned.

Thrusting her hips forward slightly, she reached behind and began to undo his trouser belt, while he cupped her breasts and traced small circles on her areolae. Her nipples hardened as he brushed them with his fingers.

She felt him tense as she tugged his zipper, and was pleasantly surprised to discover he was not wearing underwear.

Oh my God, she thought, wrapping her long, manicured fingers around his penis. It jumped at her touch, almost of its own volition and she heard his breath catch in his throat.

Then his hand was on hers, gently forcing her to relinquish her grip.

‘Slowly’ he whispered. ‘Let’s not rush.’

‘Slowly,’ she purred in agreement, then reached behind him with both hands and grabbed his buttocks, pulling him into her once more.

His splayed fingers caressed her hips then slid delicately under the elastic of her panties. She was so wet she could feel her juice trickling down the inside of her thighs. Her legs almost buckled when his forefingers stroked her swollen labia.

To hell with slowly. She wanted him nowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

‘Click’

The sound was like the hammer of a pistol being cocked.

She jerked upright, as if yanked by a careless puppeteer. The door to her office swung open and banged against the wall as a frigid blast of air hit her full in the face.

A small pile of printed pages blew off the desk.

‘Dammit!’ she cursed, seeing the long string of “W’s” across the screen and realising she’d fallen asleep at the computer again.

Groggily, she pushed herself away from the desk and got up to close the door. It must have been on the latch, so this time she ensured the Yale was down. The lock made a loud thunk as she closed the door, but she gave the handle a tug nonetheless, and then pushed the catch up into the lock position.

Another strong gust of wind blew across the porch, howling, as if in frustration at being denied access, while the leaves of a pair of large, potted delicious monsters, flailed and slapped the frosted glass panelling either side of the front door.

She shivered, rubbing her biceps vigorously, and then got down on her hands and knees to retrieve the dozen or so pages of her manuscript.

‘Enough for today,’ she mumbled to herself, loosely shuffling the pages into a pile next to her computer.

Click. Save. Click. Switch off computer? Yes.

The computer shut down and with it the incessant drone of the hard drive. The silence, or rather the lack of background noise, reminding her once again that it was time to buy a laptop.

If she’d had one, she would have been tucked up in a warm bed already, instead of torturing herself, night after night in her office.

Out in the passage, the grandfather clock pealed off three strikes, the sound resonating throughout the empty house.

Empty of other people.

However, eyes watched her. They watched everything.

‘Come on, you,’ she said to the dog sleeping under her desk.

Dark eyes opened followed by a mouth that yawned expansively.

The boxer climbed to its feet, stretched and shook itself.

‘Time for a quick visit before we turn in, all right, girl?’

The dog obediently trotted to the front door, which Amanda opened and it hurried outside.

Closing the door after it, she went to run a bath while the dog did its business, which always included a patrol of the garden.

By the time she returned, the dog was sitting on the porch, waiting patiently.

She opened the door and the dog trotted in, making a beeline for the bedroom.

Patsy always slept on the bed. It had become a habit since she was a puppy: a bad habit, her parents often reminded her.

In the absence of a man on the other side, the dog had taken it upon herself to occupy the extra space.

Of course, when she was small, it seemed cute. Now, although Patsy could still be considered a puppy, twelve months makes quite a difference in the size of a dog.

Well, she had been warned it would be a habit difficult, if not impossible, to break. But the dog would only remain on the bed until she returned from her bath. Then Patsy would jump off and go sleep on the old, battered couch in the corner of the room. What was odd, in a funny sort of way, was that every morning when she awoke, Patsy would be on the bed with her, having climbed on sometime during the night whilst she slept.

Amanda smiled affectionately at the dog. ‘My house, my rules. Hey girl?’

Patsy looked at her as only a boxer dog can; cocking its head to one side at the sound of her mistress’ voice. Her dark, expressive eyes conveying more intelligence than their breed is normally credited with.

Amanda stroked the dog’s head then went to bathe.

It had been four years since her husband’s disappearance.

For the first two years she had lived on a cocktail of drugs ranging from anti-depressants to marijuana. Nothing had helped, other than render her numb to almost semi-comatose.

It would take time, they said.  “They” always say such things. Meaningless platitudes. Mere words to fill the awkward silences that become part and parcel of conversations with friends and strangers alike; when the inevitable question, “How are you feeling?” always came up.

Or worse, if the person did not know her, “What does your husband do?” for some reason assuming she was married.

They all said things like this. Well, all except Samantha.

Samantha thought this sort of emotional trauma could be cured by sex.   In fact, “go and get laid” seemed her stock answer to almost every known human condition, even if she sometimes substituted “laid” with “fucked” when speaking to someone she was not particularly fond of.

“Trust me on this, you’ve been alone for far too long. It’s time to put it behind you and start your life again. And the first step is to get you laid, my girl. Nothing like a few screaming, sweaty orgasms to set you right.”

And Samantha would espouse such pearls of wisdom with such straight-face aplomb that Amanda could not help but laugh.

“I’m not talking about love, you understand? What you and Roger had was special; unique, even.  Especially if you look at what’s happening with people these days. But your body can’t function properly if you hole yourself up like this. Just because your mind is off wandering someplace doesn’t mean the rest of you can be ignored, you know? Find a man. Hire one if you have to. You need something healthy inside you besides fruit and vegetables. And I don’t mean the sliced, diced and cooked versions, either!”

Samantha was Amanda’s literary agent by profession, her Rock of Gibraltar and friend by choice.

It was Samantha who nurtured Amanda’s fledgling writing career, although her intentions had seemed far from honourable that first night they met…

Amanda stood at the buffet table ogling the kaleidoscope of colourful foods on display in the fruit and salad bar.

‘I love fresh fruit and vegetables, too,’ said a husky voice by her shoulder.

Amanda turned, and smiled politely.  ‘Oh, yes. Very healthy,’ she replied.

‘Healthy…and sexy. Don’t you think so?’ Samantha added, with a mischievous smile.

‘Um, well, I suppose,’ Amanda’s smile faltering under the brazen stare. It felt as though the woman was undressing her with her eyes. A disconcerting feeling she had occasionally been subject to from men. Never had she experienced it from another woman.

‘Like the tango,’ the woman continued. It was not a question.

‘Excuse me?’ Amanda replied.

‘Very erotic,’ Samantha said.

‘Oh, ‘is it?’ replied Amanda, not knowing what else to say.

Samantha reached for a strawberry without taking hers eyes off Amanda and placed it delicately into her mouth. As she bit down on the fruit, juice trickled out between her lips and ran down her chin. Samantha wiped the juice delicately with her perfectly manicured right forefinger then sucked it in the most overtly sexual fashion Amanda had ever witnessed.

Amanda stood transfixed. Those eyes!

‘I once danced the tango to Piazolla in a Buenos Aires nightclub for two hours. One of the most erotic experiences of my life,’ Samantha said. ‘I came more times than I can remember. I could show you if you like?’

‘Pardon, me?’ Amanda said her voice hardly more than a whisper.

‘I asked if you would like to tango.’

‘Oh…er, no thank you…er…my husband. He’s…’ Amanda blinked, moving her head slightly to the side. ‘I must…my husband,’ she repeated.

Samantha’s eyes followed the direction of Amanda’s glance.

‘Ah, you’re married?’

‘Yes…of course,’ Amanda replied as if this statement automatically guaranteed her some sort of protection from tangos, Piazolla-whoever that was-and multiple orgasms in Buenos Aires night clubs.

Samantha offered Amanda her hand.

‘I’m Samantha,’ she said, the smile more radiant than before, and the absence of a surname suggesting that everyone would automatically know who she was.

‘Oh, er, Amanda. Amanda Greyling,’ Amanda said shaking the hand.

‘Another time, then, Amanda Greyling?’

Amanda said ‘yes’ automatically without realising what she may be agreeing to.

Samantha’s smile remained yet she arched an eyebrow.  ‘I shall look forward to it.’

Amanda turned away, almost in a stupor and looked around the room for her husband.

Behind her she heard a wistful sigh. Then a different female voice said,

‘That is the cutest thing I have ever seen. That ass was made for my tongue.’

Copyright©Douglas Pearce 2011

Book Extract. “Oh little town of Brothelingham”

From,  Oh Little town of Brothelingham: Book IV of the Mining of Lif fantasy series.

A post apocalyptic earth sees humans eventually doing all those things they were so good at the first time around, most notably war and religion, and history does like to repeat itself. 

After throwing off the shackles of  the despotic Church of the One God, the country of Judysear, now ruled by a Queen called Lizbeth, is facing its biggest crisis yet:  the queen’s cousin is apparently being held hostage by the evil railway baron, Infidel Castrol and his dastardly nephew, Shane Guava. 

Furthermore….news has just arrived of the birth of  a supposedly magical kid, born in a saloon in the wild west-like town of Brothelingham: the same town Infidel Castrol is planning on running his railway line through.

Queen Lizbeth has to mount a rescue. Time is running out (cue desperate music) and the train is coming…

Chapter Seven

Extract from the current Judysear dictionary: Unexpurgated version.

Parleemeant:

A Royally appointed legislative body.

From old Frinch- Parleymenthe   Parley (to talk) Menthe (mint)

The Parleymenthe: An herb with small, light green oval-shaped leaves said to induce hallucinogenic effects when chewed, causing an outpouring of verbose diatribe, often rendering the speaker unintelligible.

Richard Little quietly closed the door as he backpedaled from the room, bowing and scraping.

The queen smoothed out the folds of her frilly dress, and looked down the long table at the array of serious-looking faces.

She sighed and shook her head.

‘What is to be done? she said, adding, ‘When will that woman ever learn?’

‘Not right; women getting involved with the affairs of men. Saving your presence, Marm,’ said the person sitting to the queen’s right.

‘In my experience, Sir Hapenny, it is mostly women who are involved with the affairs of men. And usually at the most intimate level,’ the queen replied.

This caused several brows to knit in consternation as the ‘knitters’ attempted to negotiate the irony.  A few cases of cheek- reddening suggested one or two members had caught on.

Sir Hapenny cleared his throat of a non-existent blockage.

‘Sorry, Marm. I meant…’ he began but was interrupted.

‘I know what you meant, Sir Hapenny,’ the queen’s tone was weary. ‘But the question remains: what is to be done?’

There were a few moments introspection and when nobody offered anything meaningful to the problem of how to go about rescuing her cousin from the evil clutches of the railroad company, Queen Lizbeth sighed and changed tack. She had already decided what she was going to do in any case and this tiresome meeting was merely for the sake of form.

‘How is the mood of the people, Sir Protest?’

‘According to the missus, restless, Marm. Very restless,’ replied Sir Walter Protest, a former *plorer who, on one of his adventures, had discovered, and brought back the chip.

‘So why are the people restless, Sir Protest? They’re not hungry again, are they? The kitchen-staff flatly refuse to bake any more cake. I hope this doesn’t turn into a revolt,’ the queen said.

‘No, Marm. I don’t think the people are revolting.’ He paused and thought about this for a moment. ‘Well… No, it’s nothing like that. It’s about the news from overseas, Marm. Concerns some kid. S’possed t’ be a saviour, according to the missus.’

‘Save yer? Save yer what?’

‘Begging your pardon, Marm. That’s sav-i-our,’ Protest explained, enunciating the syllables.

‘Aaah, I see,’ Lizbeth nodded. ‘Silly me,’ she laughed. ‘And what is this child supposedly the saviour of?’

‘Don’t rightly know, Marm. More’n likely he’ll turn out to be another minor deity, like all the rest.’

‘Really? I did not realise all foreign gods were children.’

Protest frowned.

‘No, Marm. I mean lesser. It’s probably the god of soiled nappies or something.’

Although not a mother, Lizbeth had changed plenty of nappies in her pre-queening days. She came from a large family and had lots of younger siblings.

‘Sounds like a sensible god to me. Better if the child was god of disposable nappies though.’

Protest smiled. Yes, that would be a good god to have around. He’d had a few tries at changing nappies on his own children when they were babies but never got the hang of the pins. His first-born occasionally looked as if he had undergone acupuncture.

‘Something else the foreigners can add to their pantheon,’ Protest explained wearily.

*plorer – and adventurer who returned home; whereas an ex-plorer did not. Obvious really.

Copyright© Douglas Pearce 2013

Arthur – the dog who thought he was a cat.

I believe that certain types of children’s book work better with illustrations. This is especially true of books about animals as children love to paw the pictures.

I drew a set of illustrations for this story that are on the original manuscript. You’ll have to make do with these computer ones ( of one of our dogs ) and your imagination.

Woof!

ARTHUR

This is a story about a dog named Arthur, who thought he was a cat.

Arthur was born on a farm. He was one of a litter of six puppies. For the first three months of his life he stayed with his parents and his brothers and sisters. Then one day a family of people arrived at the farm to choose a puppy. After watching the puppies run and play for about half an hour they decided to choose Arthur. At first, Arthur was frightened at being separated from his family. But he soon realised that these people were to be his new family. They seemed kind and gentle, so he settled down inside the warm coat someone had put him in and fell asleep.

When he awoke he found he had arrived at his new home. He was allowed to wander around and get used to his surroundings. His family, the Wilkins, followed behind as he scampered all over the house and all around the garden, sniffing this and sniffing that. After a while he had sniffed just about everywhere and decided that this new home was the place for him. It all smelled nice.

While Arthur was a puppy he lived indoors. He had his own chair with a big woollen blanket to sleep on. Arthur was a good puppy. He never chewed slippers or made a mess on the floor. Well, almost never. When he started to grow, his family realised that the time would come when Arthur would need a kennel. He couldn’t possibly sleep in his chair for ever. It would soon be too small for him.  Well Arthur grew alright. In fact…

he grew,

arthur 4

and he grew,

arthur 4

and he GREW!

arthur 4

After six months Arthur was so big that he had to sleep outdoors. The kennel that was made for him was too small, so Mr. Wilkins had to build a much larger one. His new kennel was almost as big as the garden shed. This became Arthur’s new home. He would lie inside his kennel with his head poking out of the entrance.

If you saw Arthur you would think he was fierce because he was so big. But if you thought that, you would be wrong. For even though he was so big and he looked so fierce he was really very gentle. So gentle in fact that he would not even hurt a fly. Arthur never barked at anyone either. In fact Arthur never barked at all! Now this was unusual for a dog and his family became very concerned. They would stand in front of him and ask him, “What’s the matter boy? Why don’t you ever bark?”

But Arthur could not answer because he did not know why. So his family took him to the vet for a check-up. Arthur sat patiently while the vet shone a light down his throat, into his eyes and even in his ears. This was just in case he was deaf. But of course he wasn’t.

“There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with Arthur,” said the vet. But he prescribed a tonic to try and perk him up a little. Arthur took the tonic three times a day for a week. His family had to give it to him on a large wooden spoon. But Arthur still did not bark.

It wasn’t long after his visit to the vet that his family started to say Arthur was a cat. Well, that was what Arthur thought.

It all began one morning when a new postman came to deliver letters. Now every postman knows that dogs bark at them. Some even try to bite them. So when this new postman saw Arthur looking at him over the garden gate do you think he would dare open the gate and come inside? No way! Not on your life. But Mrs. Wilkins said to the postman,

“Oh, don’t mind Arthur, he may be a big dog but he is just a pussycat really.”

“A pussycat?  I thought I was a dog? ” Arthur said to himself.

At first he assumed Mrs. Wilkins was making a joke and that would be the end of it. But it didn’t stop there. Soon everyone was calling him a pussycat. He heard things like “He won’t bite. He’s just a pussycat,” or, “Of course you can pat him. He won’t do anything. Arthur’s just a big soft pussycat.”

Now this was much worse. Not only was he being called a pussycat, but a big soft one too. So he went down to the bottom of the garden and looked at his reflection in the fish pond.

“Well I look like a dog,” he thought. “Yes of course I am a dog. Anyone can see that. What is the matter with my family?”

All his animal friends that lived in the street agreed that he was a dog alright. A very BIG dog.

“You must learn to bark, Arthur,” his friend Rufus the Terrier advised him. “Then they will know you are a dog for sure.”

“But I have never barked. I don’t think I could, even if I tried. Besides, barking is so noisy. It would probably give me a headache,” Arthur replied.

“Now don’t be silly, Arthur. ALL dogs bark,” Rufus told him. “Do you want to spend the rest of your life with your family thinking you are a cat?”

“Yes, I suppose you’re right, Rufus. I must learn to bark. Will you teach me?”

“Arthur, I cannot teach you how to bark. It is something you must learn to do by yourself,” Rufus explained.

So Arthur went home and tried to teach himself to bark. But no matter how hard he tried no sound came out of his mouth. Arthur became very miserable. He would stay inside his kennel all day and mope. He went off his food and his family became very worried. Even pussycats were not this moody.

The time arrived for the Wilkins to go on their holiday. But they did not take Arthur because they thought he was not well. The next door neighbours offered to look after him while the family was away and they promised to take him to the vet if he got worse. The next day Arthur’s family climbed into their car and drove away to the seaside. As they left, Arthur looked at them with his big pussycat eyes and a tear rolled down his cheek.

But that night something happened to change Arthur’s life forever. When all the people who lived on the street had gone to bed and everywhere was quiet Arthur heard someone or something quietly open the back gate and creep up the garden path. Arthur’s big floppy ears pricked up at the noise and he sniffed the air. Someone was trying to get into the house. Was it his family back from holiday so soon? No, they were not due until next week. So who was this person trying to get into the house?  It certainly was not one of the neighbours. He knew it wasn’t because the smell was different. He suddenly realised that this must be someone called the ‘Burglar’. He had heard his family and friends talk about this person, and they only said bad things about him.

Arthur decided right there and then that this ‘Burglar’ person was not going to get into his house. Especially as he had not been invited. So Arthur got out of his kennel and quietly padded up the garden path. There was the burglar, standing at the back door. Arthur heard the sound of breaking glass.

“He’s smashed the window!” Arthur realised. ”The cheek of the man.” Well he was definitely going to have a word with him now. Arthur cleared his throat and let out a low, deep growl. It sounded very menacing. Slowly, the burglar turned around and their before him was the biggest, hugest, fiercest, most ginormous dog he’d ever seen in his whole life.

Then, right out of the blue, Arthur said, “Woof.”

He was startled by the sound, especially as it came out of his own mouth. But he liked the sound all the same. So he tried it again. Only this time a bit louder. “WOOF, WOOF!”

“Much better,” thought Arthur and before he knew it he was barking like crazy.

The burglar screamed and bolted back down the garden path. He leapt right over the garden gate and went running up the street as fast as he could.

Lights began to go on in all the houses in the street. People were soon looking out there windows wondering what the row was all about. When they realised it was Arthur making all the noise, they rushed out of their houses.

“Arthur is that you?” they asked.

“Woof,” Arthur replied. Then all the people cheered. “Hurray for Arthur! He is a dog after all and not a big, soft pussycat.”

The police were called and they caught the burglar before he had gotten very far. That’s because he was easy to spot. Arthur had bitten a big hole in his trousers and you could easily see his white underpants in the dark.

The next door neighbours telephoned Arthur’s family and they rushed back from holiday. When they heard what Arthur had done they were so proud of him. From that day on Arthur was the hero of the street and after word had got around how fierce he was there were never any more burglaries.

But we all know Arthur wasn’t really fierce. He just sounded that way because he had learned to bark. In fact he was still a big, soft pussycat. But no-one ever dared call him one!

arthur 5

THE END

Copyright ©2002 Douglas Pearce

Henry

Frog-On-Lily-Pad

Henry was a frog. He lived in a pond at the bottom of a field on the farm of Farmer David brown. It was not a large pond. But it was big enough for Henry. In the centre of the pond was a large lily-pad. During summer, Henry would swim out to the lily-pad and sit on it all day long. He liked to warm himself in the sunshine and watch Farmer Brown’s cows grazing in the field. Sometimes the cows would come and graze by the pond. Henry would always greet them by saying, ‘Nee-deep’. But the cows took no notice of Henry. Although he was not a lonely frog he would have liked someone to talk to occasionally.

There was a little boy who also lived on the farm.  His name was Joey and he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Brown.

Sometimes he would come by the pond. He would pick wild flowers or rushes for his mother. But he never stayed very long. Farmer Brown had warned Joey never to go too close to the edge of the pond just in case he fell into the water.

One day, during the summer Joey came by the pond with farmer Brown. He had brought something with him. It was a toy sailing boat with a large white sail.

Farmer Brown had made the boat out of wood. He had fixed a metal keel to the bottom of the boat to keep it upright in the water. The boat was painted bright red. Mrs. Brown had made the sail out of an old pillowcase.

Farmer Brown had attached a long piece of string to the back of the boat so Joey would be able to pull it back if it sailed too far away.

Henry thought that the boat looked wonderful.

He said ‘Nee-deep.’

This was all very exciting for Henry. He watched as Joey knelt down and put the boat into the water. Joey gave the boat a little push and as a small gust of wind filled the little sail it sailed out onto the pond.

Joey cheered with delight. Farmer Brown smiled and Henry said, ‘Nee-deep.’

Joey noticed Henry sitting on the lily-pad.

‘Hello, frog,’ he said.

Henry was surprised. Nobody had ever spoken to him before. Henry smiled to himself. He felt very happy. Henry was a well-mannered frog so he replied, ‘Nee-deep.’

The bright red boat with the large white sail floated right past and continued until it had reached the far side of the pond. The boat bumped into the bank and stopped.

Joey had kept hold of the long piece of string and began to slowly pull the boat back across the pond. But when the boat was halfway across the string became tangled in some reeds that were poking out of the water.

Joey tugged and tugged but the boat would not come free. Farmer Brown also tugged but he too could not free the boat. Joey was upset. Henry was upset too. He gave a sad ‘Neee-deeep.’

But Farmer Brown had a plan.

‘Joey, you wait here. I will go back to the house and fetch my wading boots. Then I will wade out to the middle of the pond and untangle the string.’

Joey thought this was a good idea and he was soon smiling once more.

Henry also thought it was a good idea. ‘Nee-deep,’ he said cheerily.

‘Don’t go too close to the water’s edge, Joey,’ Farmer Brown reminded him.

‘I won’t, daddy,’ Joey promised his father.

While Farmer Brown was gone Joey picked some flowers to take home for his mother. Some of the cows came to graze by the pond and Joey patted and stroked them. The cows tried to nibble the flowers he had picked so he had to hide them behind his back.

Henry was so happy. He had never had so many visitors to his pond in one day.

He called out, ‘Nee-deep.’

Joey smiled and said, ‘Hello frog,’ again. Even the cows ‘mooed’ at him.

A short while later Farmer Brown returned with his big black wading boots. He sat down on the grass, took off his shoes and pulled on the boots. Then, very carefully, he stepped into the water and slowly waded out to where the boat was. He untangled the string and Joey was able to pull the boat back across the pond. As Farmer Brown turned around in the water he noticed Henry.

‘Hello, frog,’ he said.

‘Nee-deep,’ Henry replied.

Farmer Brown waded back across the pond and climbed out on to the bank. Joey was very pleased to have his boat back.

‘Thank you, daddy,’ he said, gratefully.

‘You are very welcome, Joey,’ Farmer Brown replied.

And Henry said, ‘Nee-deep.’

Just then Mrs. Brown called from the farmhouse.

‘David, Joey, time for lunch.’

They both waved at Mrs. Brown to show that they had heard her call then began to gather their things before going home.

Joey asked his father.

‘How deep is the pond, daddy?’

‘I’m not sure, really. Not very deep,’ Farmer Brown replied.

Farmer Brown thought for a moment.

‘Hmm,’ he said.

Henry said. ‘Nee-deep.’

‘That’s it!’ exclaimed Farmer Brown.

‘What is, daddy?’ Joey asked a little confused.

‘That is how deep the pond is. It is knee deep. The water came up to my knees.’ He pointed to the mark the water had made on his boots.

Farmer Brown turned to Henry and said,

‘Thank you, frog for telling me how deep the pond is.’

Henry smiled to himself and thought, ‘You’re welcome.’ Then he said,

‘Nee-deep.’

Joey and his father laughed. Joey picked up his boat and the flowers for his mother. Farmer Brown picked up his shoes and they both went home for lunch.

Copyright©Douglas Pearce 1996

Wormhole for the Devil. a novel

by request,

For Sonel.

*SAM is a computer.

Chapter Seventeen

The Delta II circled the city of Jerusalem. All three men were glued to the images *Sam was showing.  Crowd activity below began to increase around a group of figures being led through the narrow streets. It caught the attention of the crew.

‘Sam, can you focus on the crowd, please. Let’s see what’s going on. Just for curiosity’s sake,’ Dan asked. The computer obliged. ‘Sam, what do you make of this?’ he added

‘Based on the objects some of the men are carrying I believe we are about to witness an execution.’

‘Oh my God. Are you serious?’

‘I think Sam’s right.’ said Kevin.

‘Crucifixion was a common form of punishment during Roman times, so my data tells me.’

For the moment, morbid fascination kept their eyes glued to the screen.

‘Give us audio please, Sam. Perhaps we might learn something.’

The bridge was instantly filled with the sounds of screaming, shouting and wailing.   The prisoners’ escort of soldiers was having a difficult job keeping the large crowd at bay. One of the soldiers lashed out viciously with a whip at anyone who got too close.  The significance of what they were watching had momentarily escaped Kevin. But as he looked more closely at the unfolding scene he realized with almost apoplectic horror that this was no ordinary crucifixion.

‘Oh, my God. Oh, no. It can’t be. Oh, please, no. Not this!’

Dan and Richard turned to stare at Kevin. They were shocked at the distraught expression on his face.

‘Kevin, what is it?’ Dan insisted.

‘That’s him,’ he said pointing at one of the figures.

‘Him? Him, who? You recognise one of the prisoners?’ Dan couldn’t believe it.

‘You mean you don’t realise what’s going on here? Kevin was aghast.

‘How could we possibly know what –’ Dan stopped. Kevin had gone white; every ounce of colour had drained from his face. ‘What the hell is it,’ Dan said his voice almost a whisper.

But Kevin seemed almost beyond reason. ‘No! This you must not touch or interfere with in any way. If you have no knowledge of what I’m talking about then we must leave it alone. Find some other event to get us back home. I’m warning you, do not touch this. Please, for the love of….just get us away from here, now!’

‘Who said we were going to interfere? Dan said. But now, seeing Kevin’s reaction, morbid curiosity turned to serious concern.

‘Kevin. Look at me,’ Dan insisted. Kevin turned. ‘What is it? Tell me what’s going on down there?

‘No!’ Kevin yelled. Then he leapt out of his seat and stormed off the bridge.

‘What the hell is the matter with him?’ Richard asked. He was also shocked at the vehemence of Kevin’s reaction.

‘Sam, help us out here,’ Dan asked, still staring down the passage after Kevin.

‘I am searching my data banks now, captain. Unfortunately there are few details. Crucifixion was a common form of execution around this period. Hold on.  One person is singled out. His name was Yashua. He was the religious teacher Kevin mentioned. A religion called Christianity was founded based on his teachings. It grew to become one of the largest religions on earth. Its followers believe he was either the Son of God or God incarnate. But what is of significance to us is that records show he was put to death in the year A.D.30 approximately. If this is that same man then we have a time frame to work with.’

‘Okay. Let’s assume for the moment that this is the same man. Are you able to begin a preliminary reconfiguration of the drive system?’

‘Yes, captain. I believe I can.’

‘Then start, please. In the meantime we will keep an eye on what’s happening below us.   If this pans out we could be home sooner than we thought.’

They turned back to the gruesome scene that was about reach its climax on a desolate looking hill outside the city.

Once the three prisoners and their escort had reached the execution site, a cordon was formed to prevent the volatile crowd, which seemed divided equally between sympathisers and detractors, from interfering. The guards stripped the three men down to their loincloths, manhandling them to the ground. The wooden crossbeams they had carried from the city were placed underneath their shoulder blades.

‘So this is the King of the Jews,’ one of the legionnaires announced. ‘Don’t look much like a fucking king now, does he?’

His cruel jibe drew howls of more derisive laughter from some members of the crowd.

The man in question looked up at the soldier from his prone position on the sun baked dirt.    I will not scream or cry out, he thought. I will NOT!   Clang! Clang! Clang! The legionnaire hammered home the first nail through the wrist of his right arm, securing it to the wooden beam beneath him. Pain, like white-hot fire, shot up his arm. The man cried out. He could not help himself. The pain was excruciating. He gagged as bile rose in his throat. Rough, calloused hands pulled his left arm straight out at right angles to his body. The hammer smote the second nail through the wrist of his left arm. Again he cried out.

He wore a crude crown of thorns that someone had forced on his head. The razor sharp barbs had cut into his flesh at several points and the deep cuts bled copiously.

The other two condemned men were going through similar agony as him. There was screaming all around him and every cry brought an equally loud cheer from some parts of the crowd.

But the pain seemed to heighten his senses rather than dull them. He could almost taste the sickly sweet smell of body odour, accentuated by fear. And he was not immune to that fear either. Unable to prevent himself he lost control of his bladder. Warm urine soaked his loincloth then ran down the inside of his leg onto the parched earth. It formed a dark puddle underneath him.

One of the soldiers standing above him watched as the urine began to wend its way towards his sandal. He sidestepped then spat at the prone man.

‘Ah look. Wot a shame the King of the Jews has pissed his self!’

There were cackles of cruel laughter from other soldiers who were within earshot. He ignored the insults.

One of the other prisoners let out the most horrible screeching sound he had ever heard. The prisoners eyes rolled so only the whites were showing. Then he threw up all over himself. He began to twitch and squirm like a fish on a line as the last of the nails was driven home.

At that point he passed out.

The man on the first cross turned his head away from the sight, screwing up his eyes in an effort to shut out the horror going on around him.

But his own torture was far from over. His arms, just above the elbow, were tied to the beam. Now firmly secure, four more soldiers lifted the crossbeam and hoisted it upwards where they slotted it into a groove cut out of an upright, four-metre length of timber that was placed in a hole in the ground.

Whilst the soldiers on the ground supported the crossbeam with their spears, another soldier standing on a ladder tied the beam to the upright with rope. The soldier then nailed a small wooden plaque, inscribed with a few details of the crime, onto the cross just above the condemned man’s head. Whilst standing on a small wooden perch, approximately six inches long and three inches wide affixed halfway up the upright, another legionnaire began to climb a ladder up to him. He had a hammer in his belt and a six-inch nail between his teeth. The crucified man had to put one foot on top of the other whilst the legionnaire hammered the nail through both feet to the perch. The nail broke two bones as it passed through his feet.

This pain was too much. For a few moments, he passed out.

Bile rose in his throat. He came to gagging.

The ropes around his arms were untied and he was left suspended from the nails. Before long, sinews and muscles, stretched to the limit, would begin to tear.

Death, often as a result of suffocation, was inevitable. It would be a welcome relief to the horrendous pain.

After nailing his feet to the perch, the soldier climbed down and removed the ladder. With hands on hips, he stared up at the man. His head had already slumped forward and his eyes looked rheumy.

The soldier hacked and spat a large glob of phlegm at the foot of the cross.

‘Stupid bastard!’ He swore in ridicule.

The man opened his eyes briefly and smiled down at him. Not a smile of defiance but more of sorrow. Or pity. In that instant, their eyes made contact and the soldier saw something he had not recognised before. He could not explain it in any rational sense but his cheeks began to redden with shame and understanding. He lowered his gaze.   Tears started to course down his cheeks and run into the corners of his mouth.  Unconsciously he licked at them, tasting the salt. Then he gave a heart-rending sob.  Heads turned in his direction. But he didn’t seem to care who saw him cry. Unbuckling his sword, and then removing his helmet, he flung them viciously to the ground. He looked up at the crucified man once more and yelled at the top of his lungs.

‘You stupid fucking, bastard!’ Only this time he wasn’t sure if he meant the man on the cross or himself.

Wormhole for the Devil. Copyright ©Douglas Pearce