Book Extract…

I haven’t posted here in ages, but my Altered Ego, the Ark, did a post over here

about sailing off the edge of the world and during a further conversation it brought this to mind.

From the fantasy novel, The Nine Amendments.

Undertaker, Isack Knewtun is having dinner with Captain Blithely. He is sailing to Sunniclimes….

Isack, who fastidiously avoided most things to do with the Church, didn’t seem to think excommunication sounded too bad until  Captain Blithely explained that although they were only planning to throw him out of the church, it was the six-storey drop from the bell-tower that would have been the problem.

‘Ah, I see your point. What about the prayer and the circle thing?’

‘You prob’ly know that when the wardens mark you for excommunication they make the sign of a cross, like an ‘X’. Three crosses and that’s a strikeout. The sign of the circle, or nought, ‘spossed to counteract it. Mr. Winky’s little prayer is sort of forun. Means, Please keep me out the sh—’

‘I think I understand,’ Isack interjected. ‘We were talking about your brother, Captain.’

‘Oooaargh that we were. Well then. ‘Parrantly one of their lot had come a cropper while convertin’ the ‘eathens up in the jungles of Wethafkarwee. Are you familiar with the place in question, Mister Knewtun?’

‘I know of it, but have not visited the country.’ Isack’s idea of well-travelled was having visited all the cemeteries in and around Port o’ Bill.

‘Visited. Right. Doubt it’s the type of place you’d choose fer a visit. Those what ‘as visited, as it were, didn’t return to tell the tale, oooaaargh. In fact, none that I’m aware of even had chance to send a postcard.’

‘Yes, I had heard it to be rather foreboding.’

‘Oh, I wouldn’t know nothing ‘bout bodin’, Mister Knewtun, I’m only a simple ship’s captain. What I do knows is that it is a very portentous place where they ‘ave very interestin’ culinary ‘abits. Sometimes involvin’ visitors.’   Blithely pulled on his pipe in a sagely manner and finished the draw with his familiar phrase.

‘Good gods, cannibals!’ Isack exclaimed. He was aghast.

‘Aye, caninballs, Mister Knewtun, caninballs. So’s you can p’raps understand the C-word’s urgency on settin’ off on their rescue mission.’

‘I can indeed, Captain. What an awful business. Very rum,’ Isack added for maritime effect.

‘Oh, sorry, Mister Knewtun, where’s me manners. Pour us all a drink there, Mr. Winky, if y’please.’

‘Aye, cap’n.’

Winky got up to oblige.

Isack had never drunk rum from a tankard before and certainly not one that was full to the brim.


‘Don’t worry about it, Mister Knewtun. There’s plenty. Wonderful cleanin’ properties. Removes encrusted salt and loosens up the barnacles a proper treat, it does. On the ship too, fer that matter.

‘Where was I? Anyways, they was in such an ‘urry they wouldn’t let any of them poor sales-ladies off the boat ‘afore they set sail. Said that although this was a rescue mission, the girls would be able to help the C-word with other positions of missionary work. They also took with ‘em several tools of their trade, includin’ one hundred fully armed and caparisoned soldiers. My brother was not an ‘appy man, I can tell you, Mister Knewtun.’

‘Doesn’t seem as though he had much choice, Captain,’ said Isack sympathetically.

‘Oh, ‘e ‘ad choice all right. There’s always that, Mister Knewtun. The choice ‘e was offered was, relinquish control of your ship to the servants of the Mighty, or swing. So he relinquished. For a while, at least. Well, the ship landed at Wethafkarwee and they found their warden. Some of ‘im, anyways, so I ‘eard. But the wardens of the C-word reckoned that as they was already there they might as well do some convertin’. Can’t say fer sure what they converted them Fkarweans into but it was probably similar to the conversion undergone by that unfortunate T-word warden.’

Isack noticed a look of disgust and contempt on Blithely’s face when he said C-word. A look suggesting that while not condoning cannibalism, it had even less respect for the Church.

Although Blithely didn’t ‘hold none fer foruners’, at least the Fkarweans didn’t invade Judysear and force everyone to worship their god, which just happened to be a five-toed sloth called ‘OO-OO.’ And of course, they had to eat something, he supposed.

‘They set sail shortly after their convertin’ and ‘eaded ‘ome. But what Fkarweans was left was proper…you know, like when you ‘as too much to drink.’

‘Er…drunk?’ Isack suggested.

‘The other word.’

‘Ah,’ Isack nodded, eyeing his own drink cautiously.

‘So they sets off in pursuit and gave chase, forcing my brother to alter course. Those little canoes o’ theirs can go right fast with enough motivation.

‘Well, my brother pointed ‘is ship at the horizon and hoisted ev’ry sail ‘e ‘ad, believing they wouldn’t give chase to the edge of the world, like. But they did. Meanwhile, them wardens was screamin’ blue murder, knowin’ full well that my brother was set on sending ‘is ship off the edge, if necessary, rather than fall into the ‘ands of the Fkarweans.  ‘E wasn’t about to let anyone make a whore’s derves outta ‘im.’

‘But that’s an old wives’ tale. Surely your brother knew the world is round?’

‘Not ever ‘avin a wife, young or old, ‘e was in two minds about what shape the world is. Flat or round, made no difference to ‘im, long as the water didn’t fly off.

‘But the Chur…sorry, Mr. Winky, the C-word, knows it’s flat and they’ll sail right round t’prove it. That’s about the time they got all the sailors t’mutiny and key-holed me brother, Mister Knewtun.’

‘I’m dreadfully sorry, Captain Blithely. Truly I am,’ said Isack.

‘S’okay, Mister Knewtun, Fkarweans got all but one of ‘em anyways. Found the poor wretch washed up on a beach a ways up the coast. Tha’s ‘ow we was able t’piece together the story. Died shortly after, ‘e did. Boat drifted ‘ome on its own a few days later, and at least my brother was already diced.’

©Douglas Pearce 2013



The Box Pt. 3

This story is unfolding as the ideas come to me. There is no immediate plot and nothing is written in stone as to how it will develop. It seems that I might be writing in stone the time it’s taking. I should get a sharper chisel!

Anyway, it is as much a mystery to the writer as it is the reader. What ever you read it pretty much all I have written, with minimal editing, so, please, bear with me. An adventure for all of us, it seems. Hope you enjoy the ride. So far it’s fun for me. 

I read once that writers must write for themselves first, then afterwards as if they are writing for one person.

So for the time being, Sonel, it’s just me and you, it seems!

And  John Z…of course… 🙂

Treasure_Island-Scribner's-1911The first book his fingers came into contact with was a hardback. He lifted it out carefully.

Treasure Island. What a treat! He had two paperback editions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic but no hardback copy. Until now. And by the look of the cover art it was an old copy. But it was in surprisingly good condition. Gently, he opened the cover. There was a dedication. He read it.

To Michael. Here’s hoping you find treasure in all your adventures.

Love Dad.

For a split second, Michael experienced a feeling of déjà vu, which was very disconcerting as his dad had never given him this book before, and he almost dropped it in surprise.

He took a deep breath and smiled. ‘What a jerk’, he said aloud, and laughed. It isn’t as if the name Michael is uncommon is it, he thought.

No doubt this was another reason Auntie Apple included the book. Apart from being old; it had probably been stuck away in some old lady’s attic for ages, and was now even more special because the name was the same as his. He read all the print details: when it was published, who was the publisher and then carefully closed the cover and set it to one side. This would go in the special book case.

Adventure stories were Michael’s favourite, though he generally preferred non-fiction to those based, in principle, on the imagination of the author.

Michael believed there were enough fantastic stories out there happening all the time in real life without the need to make things up.

He had shelves of books by adventures like Robert Falcon Scott, Roald Amundsen, David Livingstone, The Wright Brothers, and even modern adventurers such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the Apollo and Soyuz astronauts, including female astronauts such as Sally Ride and Helen Sharman. And on the subject of female adventurers, one of Michael’s more unusual books of this genre was called, Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride.

Until he read this book his parents thought he might never ride a bicycle again after falling off his paper bike during a heavy snowfall last year. He had a serious concussion and for a while it was suspected he may have had a skull fracture. Auntie Apple had bought this book for him and he had been back on his bike after the first day of reading. 

After setting aside Treasure Island he quickly removed the rest of the books from the box, laying them out in the floor in a semi-circle in front of him. They were all interesting and mostly hardcover.

There was a gardening book and a book of garden birds by Sir Peter Scott, which Michael was especially pleased with. There was even a Haynes Owner’s Workshop Manual for an Austin Healey which, apart from a couple of grubby, oil-stained fingerprints on the cover, was in pretty good condition.

Michael had no idea what an Austin Healy was, and it didn’t look too impressive from the cover illustration, so it meant little to him, until he opened the book and discovered this was a first edition, printed in 1960, and according to the forward, the very first motor car manual the company produced.

The lowly car’s status was immediately elevated by Michael’s reckoning. He briefly wondered who the oily fingerprints might have belonged to for surely they would have died by now.

He was about to put the box aside and beginning sorting and cataloguing when he realised there was one more book in the box. It nestled at the bottom filling the space so snug that Michael was obliged to turn the box upside down and tap it. The book slide gently out and dropped quietly onto the carpet.

Putting the box to one side he picked up the book.

Aside from being heavy, the book seemed old. No, not old, ancient.  The cover was dimpled black leather that felt like crocodile skin. He had never seen let alone felt crocodile skin before, although a friend of his mother had been around for tea one afternoon and had proudly shown off her new “Real fake crocodile skin handbag” which Michael had gingerly run his hand over.

This felt the same, only smoother, and Michael realised that, considering how old the book seemed, the cover was unlikely to be fake crocodile skin either. He didn’t feel comfortable about this but tried to rationalise it by hoping the crocodile had died of old age. Peacefully. In its sleep. Preferably somewhere warm and its last meal consisting mainly of crocodile hunter.

There was nothing printed on the cover to identify what the book was about or who was the author. Nor on the spine either he noted.

The book was shod with metal corners. They appeared to be silver or at least silver coloured and Michael thought they looked very fancy; like what you might imagine being on one of those really old church bibles, or a wizard’s book of spells. He smiled.

‘Open Sesame,’ he intoned in a deep voice as he opened the book. Or as deep as he could manage, which of late, had a nasty habit of coming out as a croak or worse, a squeak since he voice had begun to break.

The first page was blank. He turned to the second. Also blank.

And the third and the fourth. Michael quickly flipped through the pages. They were all blank. Every one. He couldn’t find a single printed word. Or written word for that matter. Neither a note or a scribble.

What sort of book is this?

Copyright©2013 Douglas Pearce

The copy of Treasure Island featured on this post was first published in 1911