Book Extract – Identity: Cry Sies!

Identity: Cry Sies.

The almost familiar country of Sarfricar is about to get a New President, and he’s a Manchester United Supporter! Run for the hills!

A satire of South African politics

Chapter 4

Dr. Wilson Diba was in his sixties when finally released from prison.

Arrested at the age of twenty-three for riding a bicycle without any lights, his initial sentence should have only been five years hard labour. The pro-government press felt this was quite fair as the crime happened during daylight hours. It would have been ten years had it been dark.

As Sweatow was usually shrouded in smoke from the innumerable coal fires that burned constantly the term ‘daylight hours’ was a moot point.

Wilson was busy studying to be a lawyer. Of course, this was impossible for a Blick person in Sarfrica, as they could not practice law, by law.

‘An’ if theys carnt practice, theys carnt get better, hey!’ remarked the Minister of Law and Order, Mr. Vas ‘die voet’ Flock.

To avoid any form of suspicion Wilson usually wrote “second-hand shoe salesman” on any government form that required him to reveal his profession. It had to be second hand because the assumption was that any Blick found in possession of anything new had to have stolen it. It also helped that he never had any stock in trade about his person.

Wilson attended university at Fort Hair and would cycle the 72 kilometres to ‘varsity’ every morning.

The morning of his arrest Wilson was about to crest the top of a steep incline.  He emerged from the perpetual smog bank in Sweatow and immediately went through a speed trap.

Within twenty minutes, he arrived, handcuffed, and blindfolded at Joan Foster’s Happy Circle Police Station.

The following morning he was due to appear in court.

Having a good idea how these things worked, and being a “smart Blick”, Wilson thought it best to confess to his crime and hope that he would get away with a fine.

However, when he addressed the desk sergeant, a charge of aggravated assault was added immediately. Misunderstanding the officer, Wilson politely asked, in perfect Inglish, ‘Excuse me?’

The sergeant, convinced that one of the station’s Alsatian dogs had spoken to him, ran screaming from the charge office.

After eight hours at Joan Foster’s Happy Circle Police Station Wilson was finally able to convince someone that he was prepared to make a full confession.

However, somewhere along the line, his court appointed attorney, who did not acknowledge a word of Inglish, incorrectly translated Wilson’s written confession from, ‘ Riding a bicycle without lights in a non built up area,’ to ‘Knowingly and willingly trying to blow up the Parliament buildings.’

The five-years went out of the proverbial window and Wilson received a life sentence.

Wilson had an interesting time whilst incarcerated, although it was not all spent inside. He spent the first five years of his sentence outdoors digging the route for the M2 West highway.

A cursory enquiry soon revealed that the charges were erroneous and relatives began a campaign to secure Wilson’s release. The original charge of ‘Riding a bicycle without lights’ was also found to be without substance as Wilson had had a set of bicycle lights in a canvass bag he was carrying; the batteries were nearly flat and he had intended to buy new ones in Joeberg.

Wilson Diba became an icon symbolising the inhumanity of Sarfrican law and the desperate need to supply Blicks with dynamo driven lights for their bicycles.

The person responsible for initiating the worldwide awareness campaign for Wilson’s release was his mother, Mrs. Beauty ‘Ma’ Diba.

She first approached the You Knighted States.

As they had recently enacted their own Civil Rights Bill and had lots of money, she believed this would be a good start.

She was thrilled when she received a letter from the President of the YKS, Richard Nicksome.

He wrote:

 

 Hi Y’all.

   I am sending you a crate of Automatic Rifles. We call them the Peace Maker. When Wilson gets out the joint give me a call.

Yours sincerely

Dick.

And, he was.

As the years went by Wilson’s fame spread far and wide. People around the world added their voice to the call for his release.

Universities all over the place bestowed upon him honorary degrees and doctorates.

One such being from the University of Pleese Yorself in Finland that awarded him an honoury degree in entomology, convinced, as they were, that after so long in prison he must have an intimate knowledge of most forms of creepy-crawly. The Dean having seen the film Papillon, no doubt

Then it happened. On a glorious Monday morning Wilson Diba walked out of Joan Foster’s Happy Circle Prison a free men.

The guards had all clubbed together to buy him a going away present and in an emotional farewell they presented him with a tube of Dark and Lovely hair dye and two new batteries for his bicycle lights. The prison warden had even approved the purchase of two slightly used bicycle tyres out of petty cash. Wilson had never ridden a bicycle with tyres and he did not mind signing the petty cash chitty one bit.

Wilson’s personal guard, who had brought him a cup of tea in the same tin mug with a hole in the bottom for thirty-three years, even on his last morning, was weeping inconsolably.

‘I loves that bleddy Ca…Blick, I really does.’

Wilson stepped out of prison pushing his bicycle to a tumultuous welcome from seven family members and one reporter from the Stark newspaper.

*

    Prior to being sentenced to prison, Wilson had belonged to a Sweatow jazz band called the All Night Clubbers. After he was locked up the rest of the band members gigged ceaselessly for over thirty years to raise funds to launch a political campaign to get Wilson elected as the first Demographic Blick President.

To attract attention to their cause they blew up Muckdonalds’ fast food outlets across the country. No-one died because of the explosions, but apparently, by preventing people from eating at these places many lives were saved.

The All Night Clubbers received the Noble Piece Prize for “Services to Humanity”.

Wilson became Sarfrica’s first Blick President at a glittering inauguration ceremony at Jean Foster’s Happy Circle Prison.

Wilson chose the venue for nostalgic reasons and an array of world leaders, attended, including a bemused President George Brush senior from the Y.K.S.

Asked for his feelings about witnessing such an historic event he replied,

‘Y’know I never realised that he was Blick. Is that legal over here?’

Ten years later Sarfrica was beginning to realise its potential as a true powerhouse on the world stage. Foreign investment began to flood the country and major inroads were made towards the alleviation of poverty.

The country was strong and getting stronger.

So famous had the country become that millions of well-wishers from north of the country’s borders came to congratulate the Sarfricans; most of them stayed.

Twenty years on Sarfrica was almost back to square one. Almost. They still had Demography.

Copyright© Douglas Pearce

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Book Extract. Almost Dead In Suburbia.

For Lyz. Who has lotsanlots…anlots of patience.   🙂

I’ve hardly posted anything from this book. Odd I suppose, but then there is a teaser posted on the publisher’s website.

http://www.pkaboo.net/almostdead.html

I don’t know about other writers, but for me once a book is done and dusted  – read published – there isn’t anything one can do with it. It is pretty much a done deal unless the publisher suggests a rewrite or something for a new imprint. 

Anyway, the point is the ‘book is closed’ and we move on to the next story.

But I was sorting out some books on one of my shelves in the office and my hand fell upon a copy Almost Dead so, not having read it in a while I thought I’d  grab a coffee and a comfy chair and see if it still made sense and maybe even forced a smile from the writer, yours truly.

It did. This scene was always one of my favorites. I love the character, Albert. He was such fun to write. The perfect foil to  Straight-as-an-Arrow Detective Sergeant Bill Williams.

I hope it makes you smile as well.

___________________________________________________________________

Bill parked the Jeep in its allotted space behind the police station and walked back up the short tarred driveway to the station entrance.

An elderly gentleman, dressed in an old RAF greatcoat, was sitting on the front steps holding a placard and looking sorry for himself.

‘Morning, Albert, what’s all this then?’ Bill asked.

Albert Gilling was Wiggleswood’s only homeless person.  The old man was not really homeless; he just claimed he was.  A victim of circumstance was the term he used.  In fact, Albert was the wealthiest person in Wiggleswood.  But somewhere along the line it seemed as if a few carriages had become derailed, and this was when he had begun a life of sort-of living on the streets.

Albert’s family owned large tracts of farmland, and had numerous other business interests at home and abroad.  They also bred racehorses, ran a world-renowned stud-farm and were the ones responsible for resurrecting the Corlington-to-London train line, including rebuilding the station and the steam locomotive that ran on its narrow gauge track, all of which was now part of the National Trust.

Albert’s problems began several years ago after his family claimed he had had a nervous breakdown.

Albert insisted there was nothing wrong with his mind.  He said that the ability to see ghosts was perfectly normal.  It was every one else that was crazy.

Albert went for treatment in London but managed to avoid being committed by behaving ‘normally’ for six months.  Bill suspected he had behaved himself just enough to avoid staying out of a mental institution.  He felt sure there was more to Albert Gilling than met the eye.  So did Albert.

Eventually, he evicted himself from the large family home, claiming the ghost of Lord Alfred Tennyson was harassing him for some inexplicable reason.

His family relooked at the possibility of having him committed.  Seeing as Albert’s family were fairly well known, the villagers feared such an act would immediately attract the attention of the media.  The last thing they wanted was headlines in the newspapers about the ‘Loony Landowner from Wiggleswood’.

So a small flat was organised for him at the back of the police station, and after a month Albert claimed he had stopped seeing ghosts.

As a gesture of gratitude for ‘Putting me up,’ Albert did voluntary police work.

‘I’ll keep an eye open f ‘villains.  Don’t want paying.’

Bill Williams acknowledged the elderly gentleman with a salute and a cup of tea most mornings upon his arrival at the station.

When Albert wasn’t doing his police work, his part-time job was road-sweeping.

‘Cleanliness is next to wotsisname,’ Albert announced the day he decided to take on this supplementary role.

Bill had bumped into him on his first morning as he was leaving the newsagent.

Albert had just turned into the high street, pushing a yellow handcart laden with an assortment of brooms and shovels and a long-handled leaf rake.

One of the first things Bill had noticed were the letters C.T.C painted on the side of the cart.  Oh, dear, he thought. Now what?

‘Hello, Albert. CTC? That’s Corlington Town Council if I’m not mistaken?’

‘It ain’t nicked, if that’s what you’re thinking,’ Albert grumpily volunteered.

‘Nicked?’

‘Yeah. Nicked: as in filched, stolen or purloined. I’ve got friends, you know?’

‘I’m sure you have, Albert. It’s nice to have friends.’ It was clearly best not to wind Albert up. ‘You mind how you go, all right?’

His family were over the embarrassment of having a semi-homeless person in their ranks and, fortunately, the problem had not attracted any attention from the newspapers.

Now, in response to Bill’s greeting, Albert retorted, ‘That’s Mister Gilling to you, Detective Sergeant, and don’t you forget it.’

Bill raised an eyebrow.  He was used to Albert being cantankerous every now and then, but not downright rude.

‘I’ll be back in a minute.  Don’t go away,’ Bill told him.

‘I ain’t going nowhere, Bill Williams.  You can count on that.  I told ‘em, I did,’ he shouted at Bill’s retreating back.

‘Morning, Sharon; kettle on?  Albert’s outside.  He’s having a turn again, by the looks of it.’

‘Morning, sarge,’ PC Griffith replied.  ‘He’s been outside for the past half an hour marching up and down waving that stupid placard.  I was seriously thinking of arresting him for his own good.  Been making a heck of a row he has.  His family will be down soon if he doesn’t behave himself.  It’s just boiled, sarge.’

‘Good, I’ll see if I can sort him out then.  Finch in?’

Bill stepped behind the front desk.  The kettle sat on a small wooden table along with a variety of mugs, a teapot and associated paraphernalia considered essential to the smooth running of police-forces everywhere.  Bill made a pot of tea.

‘Reckons he’s quitting, so he says,’ Griffith informed him.  ‘He’s in your office.’

He was a bit taken aback by this piece of news, considering that Finch believed himself a ‘born copper’.

‘What brought this on then?  Did he finally accept that Clint Eastwood wasn’t a real copper after all?’ Bill asked, jokingly.

‘Not Ben, sarge; Albert.  Says road-sweeping‘s too dangerous.  Didn’t you read his sign?’ PC Griffith asked.

Bill sighed.  Here we go again, he thought as he walked past the desk with two mugs of tea.  Time to solve the mystery of the disgruntled not-really-homeless-street-sweeper. ‘Don’t complain, Bill Williams,’ he mumbled to himself.  ‘You gave up chasing pushers, pimps and other assorted nasties for this, remember?’

‘Sorry, sarge?’ Griffith asked.

‘Oh, it’s nothing, Constable,’ said Bill with a small smile.

Bill made a point of reading Albert’s sign. It was lying face up on the steps.  ‘Grime don’t Pay, Whoa is the day,’ the slogan announced.  Bill read it again and noticed the spelling mistake.  Then he considered the family’s association with racehorses, and wondered.  He also noticed that Albert was wearing a black armband. Fred’s death had touched everyone in the village. Bill sighed as he sat down next to the elderly gentleman.

‘Right, Albert.  Let’s have it then, shall we?’ said Bill as he handed him his mug of tea.

‘I quit.  That’s what.  And don’t think you can get me t’ change my mind either.  They didn’t believe me up at the house, and I told ‘em.  Well it’s happening again.  Before y’know it they’ll be all over the bloody place.’

‘What will, Albert?’ Bill asked patiently.

‘Ghosts, what else d’yer think I’m talking about?’

Oh, dear.  Albert was going off the rails again, Bill decided.

‘You sure you don’t want to come inside?  It’s warmer.  We can chat there,’ Bill asked.

‘Inside?  Then I wouldn’t be homeless would I?  No thanks.  The police station is probably full of ‘em too.  I’ll take my chances out here if it’s all the same to you.  But I ain’t sweeping no more, so let’s get that straight.’

‘You’re not sweeping any more.  Okay, I understand.  But Albert, you’re not really homeless,’ Bill reminded him.

‘Ha!  You’re talking about the converted coal shed at the back of this place, right??’

The converted coal shed, as Albert put it, had been paid for and furnished by his family.  It was as comfortable as anyone could wish.

‘So what’s all this about ghosts?’

‘Seen ’em.  Two of ‘em.  Up in Cherry Blossom Close, I did.  They didn’t see me though, thank gawd.’

‘You saw two ghosts in Cherry Blossom Close?’ Bill asked cautiously.

‘Yes.  I’d just done sweeping Crab Apple Lane and was walking to the Close and there they was! Bold as y’like, strolling up the road.  What’s the matter with you, Bill Williams?  You going deaf or turning senile or what?’ Albert asked.  He was getting annoyed.

‘All right, Albert.  Steady on.  My hearing’s fine,’ said Bill, trying to keep things calm.  ‘So who were these ghosts then?  Did you know them?’

‘Right.  Like I’m personal friends with spooks.  I don’t think so, do you?’ Albert took a long, very noisy slurp of his tea.

Bill winced.

‘Then did you recognise them?’ Bill asked, wary of another tirade of sarcasm.

But instead of the abuse Bill expected, Albert took a quick swallow of tea, put down his mug then shuffled his bottom along the step until he was close enough to whisper in Bill’s ear.

Bill backed off a little but Albert grabbed the policeman’s lapel and pulled gently.

‘One of ‘em was dressed in a raincoat like in those old spy films.  Like Humpy Bogey or whatever his name was.  You know the one, right?’

Bill nodded.

‘Only it wasn’t him.  It was that French fella.  Coostow.  The Pink thingy,’ said Albert, almost in a whisper.

It took Bill a couple of seconds; then the metaphorical light went on.

‘You mean Jacques Clouseau.  The Pink Panther?’

‘Yeah, that’s the fella.  Lived on a boat and did diving and all that stuff when he wasn’t being a policeman.  Did you know he helped invent the aqualung?  During the war it was.  Well it was him.  And he weren’t alone neither I’ll have you know.’

‘Oh?’ Bill ventured.

‘No he weren’t.  And don’t give me that “poor-old-Albert’s-lost-his-marbles” look, Bill Williams.  I know what I saw.  Anyway, the other one was a cat.  And a talking one at that.’

‘How do you know it was a talking cat, Albert?’ Bill regretted the stupid question the instant it was out of his mouth.

Albert glared at the policeman.  ‘Just how the hell do you think I know it was a talking cat, for gawd’s sake?’

Bill didn’t flinch under the look but did have the sense to apologise.

‘Thank you, Sergeant.  Well, the point is this.  The fella in the mac looked like Coostow, but he sounded like that young fella who moved into number one a short while back.  That computer fella.’

‘Ralph Fenwick?’ Despite himself, Bill was slowly becoming enthralled.

‘Riiiight.’ Albert drew the word out.  ‘Him.  And they, him and the cat that is, went up Cherry Blossom Close chatting to each other happy as you like.  And you know where they went?’

Bill shook his head.

‘No, course you don’t.  But I do.  ‘Cos I followed ‘em, see?’ Albert paused for effect and took yet another noisy slurp of tea.  He looked at Bill over the rim of the mug and smiled.

‘Ah, so now you’re interested.  Bit diff’rent for some reason I see.  Maybe you’re thinking that I ain’t quite so doolally after all, eh?’

‘Maybe not, Albert,’ Bill conceded, reluctantly.  The hairs on the back of his neck and forearms had suddenly come to attention.  ‘So are you going to tell me where your ghosts went, then?’

‘They ain’t my ghosts, Sergeant Williams.  But for the record they went up to old Fred’s place, God rest his soul.  Give me this coat, he did.  D’yer know that?’ Albert indicated the large RAF greatcoat he was wearing.

‘Yes, Albert, I know that.’ Everyone knew that.  ‘So, what did they want there?’ Bill asked.

‘Monkey business, that’s what they was up to.  Monkey business and a spot of thieving,’ Albert told him.  He was relishing his role as storyteller.  For the first time he had a rapt audience.  Albeit, of only one.

As soon as Albert mentioned the word ‘thieving’ Bill was on full alert.  Up to that point he had gone from patience to curiosity to fascination.  His mind was beginning to put two and two together and, although they still added up to five, things were slowly beginning to make a strange sort of sense.  It was Wiglob.

Bill tried not to show too much emotion as he encouraged Albert to continue, even though his mind was beginning to race.

‘Fred’s kids were there, but they was next door.  I heard a lot of crying.  Anyway, that Ralph fella and his cat went inside and I crept round the back to see what they was up to.  They went into Fred’s bedroom, cheeky buggers, and robbed him.  Can you believe it?  Robbing the dead.  It ain’t right I tell you.  Just ain’t right, even if you are a ghost,’ said Albert passionately.

‘What did they take, Albert?’ Bill asked carefully.

‘Couldn’t tell for sure, Sergeant.  It was in a plastic bag.  They lifted it out of the floor.  Looked like Fred had some sort of safe by his bed.  Whatever it was, they nicked it.  Hidden in a tin box it was.  They nicked what they was after then put the tin back in the hole in the floor.’

‘Anything else?’ Bill insisted.  He was fully on board at this point, ghosts or no ghosts.

‘Actually there is.’ Albert sounded as though he wanted to get as much mileage out of the story as possible.

‘Well?’ Bill asked.

‘The kid was there.  Fred’s grandson.’

‘Michael, you mean,’ Bill prompted.

‘Yes, little Michael.  Smart kid that.  Played chess with him once.  Beat me, too.’

‘Really?’ Bill expressed surprise.  Not at the fact that Michael had beaten Albert at chess; Michael had beaten most people he had played against, Bill included, but surprise at the fact that Albert and Michael had played; wondering where and when that was.  He had become momentarily distracted.  ‘What happened?’

‘Nicked my rook and it was all over.  Didn’t even see it coming,’ said Albert.

‘Not the game of chess, Albert, the burglary, for goodness’ sake.’

‘Oooh, keep y’hair on there, Sergeant.  The thieving, right.  Well, Michael must have been in the house somewhere; I didn’t see.  But he went into Fred’s bedroom to use the loo, and when he came out . . .’ Albert paused, ‘he looked at the cat and spoke to it.  Would you believe it?  I knew that kid was bright but I never reckoned he was clever enough to see ghosts.  How about that then, Sergeant Williams?  Now there are two of us.  Wonder if he’ll become homeless like me?  What do you think, eh?’

‘What did he say?’ Bill asked, refusing to be drawn along that path.

‘Nothing that I could tell.’

‘Not the cat, Albert. Michael, said Bill, annoyed.

‘Oh.  Well why didn’t you say?  He said “hello”, I think.’

‘So how do you know he was talking to the cat?’ Bill asked.

‘Because the moggy had its head poking out from under the bed and the lad looked down at it.  I was watching through the window.  Don’t you listen?  Or do you think I’m making all this up?  Maybe you think it was me that burgled Fred’s house.  Wanna come and ransack me coal shed for evidence?’

‘No, Albert I do not.  And for the record, I do believe you.  God knows why, but I do.’ Bill couldn’t believe he had actually said that.

Albert was grinning.  ‘Well you’re the copper.  I’ll leave you to it then.’ He stood up and handed the empty mug back to Bill.

‘You’ve gone a bit pale there Sergeant! Which is quite a thing, considering,’ Albert chuckled.  ‘Look like you might have seen a ghost.’

Bill just sat there for a few moments, not sure of what he should do next.

Albert looked up at the sky.  It had become overcast during the past ten minutes or so and a few spots of rain had begun to fall.

‘Oh well, I’m off to the Coach and Horses for an early lunch.’

He stood, stretched, handed Bill the placard and shuffled off to the pub.

‘I might reconsider the road-sweeping.  I’ll let y’know tomorrow,’ he called over his shoulder.

*

Copyright ©2011 Douglas Pearce

And because they said it…..

Enjoyed it very much:
This was a really witty and enjoyable read. Thanks, I enjoyed it very much! :0)

(Frances Kirkwood, Reader)



“A book well worth the time:”

I have recently finished reading “Almost Dead in Suburbia” by Douglas Pearce.

I really enjoyed it and can happily compare it to a book like “Good Omens” from Terry Pratchett. If you enjoy the light humour and a good, well written story that keeps you guessing, this in my opinion is a book well worth the time and money.

(Jason Bell, Reader)


“Original, funny, entertaining, and a very good read:”

Having read some of Pearce’s writings on his blog I was certainly expecting an entertaining story with a good deal of humour, and so it was. However, since, according to the blurb, the story revolves around the ubiquitous theme of one person’s spirit inhabiting another’s body, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of an original plot. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The book is original, funny, entertaining, and a very good read. The plot takes you through several unexpected turns and “red herrings” and leaves you guessing ’til the end – and even after the end. The style reminds me of Terry Pratchett and Tom Sharpe with a dash of Douglas Adams.

As the saying goes, everyone has one good novel in them, but I suspect we can look forward to a few more from Pearce.

(“Ennui”, Reader)


“A brilliant, comic read. Storytelling at its best.”

(John Zande, Reader)

– See more at: http://www.pkaboo.net/almostdead.html#sthash.uteE1kLp.dpuf

“When are you going  to get a proper job?”

(His Mum)

Book Extract…

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

http://atheistenquiry.org/2014/02/11/if-god-does-not-exist/

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.

‘Er…’

‘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

 

Book Extract – Gloop

A short extract from the fourth novel, Gloop,  in the Mining of Lif series

Chapter 5 

The Siege of Brothelingham

‘I could probably hit it from here, sir.’

‘Hit what, corporal?’

‘Their barn, sir.’

‘You may refer to it by its proper name, corporal.’

‘Just don’t like to say the word out loud, sir.’

‘I realise it may look like a barn corporal, but nothing dire will happen by using the word Mosk.’

‘No, sir.’

‘So. You were saying. About hitting the Mosk?’

‘Yes, sir. Reckon I could.’

‘Oh, really? As we have no canon I can hardly see the point of taking pot shots, other than alerting them of our presence. And I am not about to indulge you merely so you can demonstrate your marksmanship, corporal.’

‘Sorry, sir. I meant with this.’

‘A signal flare?’

‘Yes sir. I’ve made a sight for the tube. Like my rifle, sir.’

‘So I see,’ said the captain, his curiosity rising.

‘So…er, if I rest it on my shoulder like this,’ the corporal demonstrated,

‘Ah, I think I follow. Mmm.’

‘If we wait ‘til they’re all inside, praying…’

‘Yes, corporal, I get the picture. A weapon of mass destruction, you might say.’

‘Only a proper church has a Mass, sir,’ the corporal said indignantly, not picking up on the pun.

‘You are correct. And quite a large one if one considers all the stone.’

‘Beg pardon, sir?’

The captain sighed.

‘It doesn’t matter, corporal. However, I do not think fire-bombing a religious building full of worshippers would be the right thing to do. Even in war there are some lines I will not cross.’

‘’Scuse me sir, but our priest back ‘ome said it weren’t a sin to kill anyone who practices infidelity.’

The captain’s eyed narrowed. ‘The term you are looking for, corporal is Infidel. It refers to one who follows King Infidel Castrol. Also, if it was morally right to kill the other kind a fair portion of Judysear would be wiped out in the first attack and that would include most of the priests.’

Copyright© Douglas Pearce

Book Extract…for Ish.

Discussing this with blog pal, Ishaiya I said the part I was going to reference was only a couple of paragraphs long. This turned out to be around 1000 words.

Forgive me. But in my defence,  there has to be some context, right? 

From the third novel in the Mining of Lif series.

Whenever a volcano threatens to erupt near a major metropolis, a giant lizard runs amok, or a huge chunk of rock threatens to induce a worldwide headache it creates a Situation.

To deal with these larger-than-life events those In Charge require a gathering point to Direct Matters and when it’s all over, give clenched fist salutes or high fives, hug each other, sing national anthems (somehow managing to remember the words) and utter such memorable platitudes as, “Yeah, right on,” or “We did it!” or “Effin A”. Although they never appear to be doing anything, other than swear a lot, sweat profusely and cheer.

A precursor to setting up a Situations Room always seems to involve a group of military-types bursting into a building close to the site of Imminent Destruction.  They usually wear protective clothing with the initials T.W.A.T. (Tactical Weapons Advance Team – or something) emblazoned across the front and back.   Behind these stalwarts, you will always find someone with rolled-up shirtsleeves and several rolled-up plans, or drawings of the disaster area in question. (Although, when the whole world is at stake, the map is electronic and wall mounted in front of hundreds of computer monitors.)

One of the T.W.A.T.’s sweeps his arm across the first available flat space, (so as to lay out The Plans) invariably destroying priceless pieces of Dresden china, one or two Faberge eggs and a small piece of innocuous paper that has the name of the hero on it or the crucial formula that just happened to be lying around. And the moment someone announces, “Right, let’s see what we are getting ourselves into, shall we?” a lost dog will wander in and go “Woof!”

In the slightly less sophisticated world of the Sueridge Canal garrison, they also had a Situation and a Situations Room.  Only, the immediate Situation was inside the Situations Room.

‘Is it poisonous, do you think, Sarge?’ asked Corporal Zimmer, nervously.

‘Fifty-fifty, Corporal. Only way to find out is to milk it, am I right, sir?’

‘That is correct, Sergeant,’ Captain Poohbah agreed.

Corporal Drivel Zimmer had a limited knowledge of dairy-farming but a picture formed inside his head nonetheless.  ‘Wouldn’t work, Sarge. Couldn’t get a bucket underneath it.’

The others, gathered around the entrance to the storeroom where the plans of the canal were stored in wax-sealed hollow tubes, turned to stare at their serious-looking colleague.

It was obvious from the amount of dust and cobwebs that this room had not been opened in quite some time. The startled looks from many of the room’s current occupants added to this impression.

The snake, coiled on the table in the centre of the room, reared up sinuously and stared at them. It had an air about it that said, “I was in the middle of lunch. Do you mind?”

The hollow tubes containing the plans of the canal were behind the snake in pigeonholes on the far wall. So were a few pigeons.

‘Reckon it must be poisonous, sir. That’s the longest, thinnest tongue I’ve ever seen on a snake,’ Zimmer offered as a qualifier.

The others turned to stare once again at the snake. The long, thin, pink tongue flicked from side to side for a moment then disappeared inside the snake’s mouth.

‘That, “tongue”, Corporal Zimmer, is, or rather was, a tail,’ said Captain Poohbah.

Zimmer gave his captain a look confirming his belief that all officers were mental.

Poohbah noticed.  ‘A rat’s tail, Corporal.’

‘Oh, riiight. Ha-ha. Silly me, sir,’ Zimmer replied, as a metaphorical light of very low wattage began to glow inside his head.

‘Isn’t that a relief model of the canal on the table?’ Poohbah asked.

‘Si, Senor Captain,’ affirmed the wiry, moustachioed individual standing next to Poohbah.

From the amount of droppings, it appeared rats and pigeons had been relieving themselves upon it for some time.

‘It would be very useful for our strategy, wouldn’t you agree, Sergeant?’

‘Certainly help when it comes to troop placement, yes, sir,’ Flogin acknowledged.

‘Well we can’t stand around indefinitely. Has anyone got a suggestion?’ Poohbah asked.

The snake, having swallowed its lunch, began to hiss in a disconcerting manner. Disconcerting for those watching it that is. It was perfectly normal for the snake.

‘Oh, the gods,’ groaned Corporal Zimmer, the colour draining from his face.

‘What is it, man?’ Poohbah asked sharply.

‘It’s ‘im, sir,’ Zimmer exclaimed. ‘We can’t go in there. It’s a sign.’ Zimmer swallowed thickly and edged away from the entrance.

‘Him? Sign? What are you talking about?’

‘The One God’s nemesis: Stan,’ croaked Zimmer.

‘Stan? Who the ‘ell is Stan, Corporal?’ Flogin demanded.

‘Everyone knows who Stan is, Sarge. We learned all about him as kids. The One God’s numero uno pain-in-the-arse. Turned up in that garden as a snake and made Evelyn eat her fellah’s banana. That’s Original Sin, that is, Sarge. We can’t interfere with Stan. It’s an omen.’

‘Corporal get a hold of yourself!’ snapped Poohbah.

‘That’s also a Sin, sir!’ Zimmer blurted.  ‘And I intend to always have good eyesight, sir. I can’t go in there with Stan. No way. Sorry, sir. But I just can’t.’

‘It is not a sin to eat bananas. Or any other fruit for that matter. And there is certainly nothing original about it either. People have been eating fruit since before they climbed down from trees. As for “Stan,” I think you will find the name is Sayten. Am I right, Sergeant?’

‘Definitely in the right legless-lizard ballpark, sir.’

The snake decided that this lot were not going to provide it with any sport and slithered off the table and down an old rat hole to digest its meal in peace. There were several squeaks of relief and one or two coos.

Captain Poohbah caught a last glimpse of the snake’s tale.  ‘Ah. Seems our little problem has resolved itself. Corporal Partz, please assist Corporal Zimmer to retrieve the table. See if you can clean it up a bit beforehand though. We shall set up a Situations Room in my office. Senor Brunel, you may now enter and retrieve the plans for the canal, I believe.’

Copyright ©Douglas Pearce

Book Extract: Oh, Little Town of Brothelingham

I haven’t settled on a title for this book yet, and I change the working title as I go along.

Be that as it may, this is an extract. It is the 4th book in the Comic fantasy series, The Mining of Lif .

Igneous Rockfellow applies for a license 

Igneous’ mother died during childbirth and his late father used to be a tenant on the Gottlaid family estate, Judysear’s wealthiest poultry farmers.

As a young boy, Igneous would tinker with his “little toys”, as his father called them, in the kitchen of their cottage.

After his father died, young Igneous stayed on as a tenant, paying for his keep by doing odd jobs around the farm; including the design of a motorised conveyor belt to aid in egg-sorting.

When the owner of the estate, Fritz Gottlaid, passed away after a rather serious attack of migraine, brought on by a rather nasty kick in the head from one of the horses, the distraught Widow Gottlaid got rid of most of the horses and turned the stables over to Igneous, who promised her he would have his “Horseless carriage” on the road within twelve months.

He probably would have, too, if it weren’t for the continuous interruptions from Frau Gottlaid insisting that Igneous show her how a push rod worked.

Eighteen months after receiving the grant, he filed a patent claim and applied for a road licence, a legal requirement for all vehicles using the Queen’s highways.

As the only wheeled vehicles currently in use were coaches and wagons, and the fee varied depending whether the vehicle was drawn by horse, donkey or ox, the licensing clerk was somewhat in a quandary as Igneous claimed his carriage utilised, “None of the above.”

Following a brief description of his steam engine, a thoroughly confused and rather dubious clerk referred Igneous’ licence application to, “Higher authorities.”

The person in charge of vehicle licensing, Mister Dick Turpentine eyed the application form suspiciously.

‘So, ‘ow fast d’yer reckon this contraption of yours goes, Mister Rockfellow?’

Rather boastfully, Igneous replied,

‘Ah! She flies like the wind, sir. Like the wind.’

The maximum speed of one of the posh new mail coaches was around fifteen kilometres per hour. And this was on a good road, mind you.

Dick Turpentine had seen the effects of things that flew like the wind after discovering several items of ladies undergarments in his garden shed.

More accurately his wife had discovered them.

Being a licensing officer did not, in Mrs. Turpentine’s opinion, give her husband the right to collect licentious material.

‘Honest! I ‘aven’t a bleedin’ clue ‘ow they got there,’ wailed a bemused Dick.

‘Well they’re not mine, that’s for sure. Only a tart would wear something like this!’ yelled Mrs Turpentine, waving the offending items under Dick’s nose.

‘Yes, love, you’re right. You’d never fit into those itsy-bitsy things. Besides, even if you could you’d catch your bloody death, you would,’ Dick tried to explain.

‘Are you saying I’m fat?’ Mrs. Turpentine accused.

A simple ‘No’ might have sufficed, but Dick, desperate to extricate himself, foolishly added, ‘Of course not, love.  Er…maybe they would fit. Why don’t you try them on, then?’

‘Oh, yes? So now you’re saying I’m a tart?’

Things could only go one way after this.

After setting about him with a garden fork and doing untold damage to his cucumber patch, she banished him to sleeping in the garden shed.

Matters did not improve much over the next few days.

Mrs. Turpentine hosted an embroidery and needlework group every second Wednesday of the month. It was during a discussion concerning the best type of thimble to use to avoid the inconvenience of little pricks that Mrs. Turpentine could no longer hold her peace.

‘And talking of the same,’ she began.

Over dinner that evening, one member of Mrs. Turpentine’s needlework group, Edith Slitebottom, revealed to her husband, Wilfred, “In the strictest confidence”, that Dick Turpentine had been cheating on his wife.

The evidence of this affair she described in detail, with several glances at her husband to check if he knew what a peephole brassiere was.

Relieved to find that he hadn’t the foggiest idea, she relaxed, and then made a mental note to enlighten him at the earliest opportunity.

Although Sergeant Wilfred Slitebottom had shown interest, it was mainly due to the report of a recent theft of washing from the line of local schoolteacher, Miss Charlotte Demure.

Wilf was an old copper who knew how to join the dots and in this case the picture they revealed was not an affair between Dick Turpentine and Charlotte Demure. Especially as Dick had mentioned over drinks at their local, “In the strictest confidence”, that he had been suffering from Brewers Droop.

Although it would have made shocking news had an affair been revealed, even more disturbing was the thought that Dick Turpentine might not only be stealing but also wearing ladies underwear.

Fortunately, for all concerned, several other local residents handed in various items of clothing and two bed sheets at the station, explaining that they had blown into their gardens from goodness knows where.

Remembering the dreadful storm of a few weeks back, which saw a potted petunia crash through his greenhouse, Sergeant Slitebottom put two and two together.

This saved Dick Turpentine the ignominy of being labelled a pervert and Miss Charlotte Demure got her washing back. Well, most of it at any rate. One or two items of underwear were never recovered.

It was a few weeks later that Dick revealed to Wilf, in the “strictest confidence,” that he was no longer sleeping in his shed and his “problem” had somehow sorted itself out.

Anyway, back to the licensing department…

 

© Douglas Pearce 2012

Book Extract

 

From the fourth book (work in progress) in the Mining of Lif series.

At a young age, Probly Bettys made a promise: If he had to go through life with such an odd name he would definitely make a name for himself.

He would have made the promise to his parents, if he’d known who they were.

Probly was an orphan, left on a church doorstep in a wicker basket with his name, “The Nipper is Probly Bettys” written on a scrap of card pinned to his nappy.

The church, The Economical Order of Little Fishes, was one of many offshoots that sprung up after the collapse of the Church of the One God.

At first glance, one could be forgiven for thinking the Economical Church of Little Fishes looked very much like a fish n’ chip shop, and in truth it did sell fish and chips. Also the occasional meat n’tater pie and bang-up mushy peas

(The shop sold a lot of pies, actually. Occasionally they contained meat).

But there were clues as to the true nature of the ‘shop.’

Such as, the wooden benches set out in rows facing the deep-fat fryer.

These had been liberated from a much larger church a few blocks down the street.

Then there were the religious pamphlets, cleverly disguised as menus, and said to contain secret spiritual messages.

And of course the dead give away…

‘The Church Coughers. Or, ha ha, the Methylated Spiritualists, as I sometimes like to think of them. My boy, never forget they are part of our salvation,’ explained Reverend (self-ordained) Dribbly Tailgater.

‘I thought we were supposed to be their salvation, Reverend?’ young Probly asked the first night he had been on kitchen duty.

‘Of course, of course. That’s what I meant,’ Reverend Tailgater replied, colouring slightly.

Probly looked out the shop’s back door into the alley at the line of elderly, expectorating derelicts queuing for ‘slurps’: a “highly nutritious bowl of soup and bread”.

A prerequisite of receiving their only meal of the day was that each derelict had to hand in a minimum of one empty bottle, for which they received a penny per bottle.  Ostensibly this was to help the “poor unfortunates” rid themselves of the scourge of drink.

It wasn’t difficult to see the flaw in this argument.

Probly’s first duty of every morning was to take the empty bottles to the small factory two doors away. Here, the glass bottles were pulverized and then by some magical process made into new bottles.

Probly did not understand the process but he knew it was called recycling. He guessed it had something to do with the forty or so child-peddled static-bicycles that turned the large belts which powered the jackhammers.

The money that The Economical Order of Little Fishes received helped, amongst other things towards the purchase of Reverend Tailgater’s holy water. Something he called “The finest single-malt ever distilled. Ah!”

Many years later, the fish and chip business began to flounder. Mainly because of a complete lack of flounder. A freak tsunami destroyed Judysear’s entire fishing fleet, leaving the industry high and dry.

The Economical Order of Little Fishes switched to eggs. This made the country’s foremost egg farmer, Frau Gottlaid, very happy. And rich. But it devastated Reverend Tailgater, who although extremely depressed, put himself on a course of self-preservation. Beginning with pickling several of his internal organs with ample quantities of his holy water.

For Probly Bettys, this was the last straw. Un oeuf was un oeuf.

He decided to become a missionary and spread the word of the ECOF to those less fortunate souls who had not discovered the Good News about fish, the humble chip, mushy peas and other spiritual matters.

The Royal Society of Veteran *Plorers, or RSVP, was, that very evening, giving a lecture: “Freeca: The final frontier. Guest speaker, Arvid Deadrock.”

Probly held the invitation pamphlet (which stated that booking confirmation was not essential) with a feeling verging on rapture.

Freeca, he thought, a beatific smile on his lips. Land of mystery, intrigue, fabulous riches, (“Diamonds? Ha! Got ‘em lyin’ all over the ground. And gold! Even the bleedin’ Hippos ‘ave gold fillings, let me tell you.”) Strange animals and exotic birdlife.

And also, the Tsetse fly, innumerable other poisonous insects, several highly venomous snakes, treacherous jungles and one or two of aforementioned strange animals that would think nothing of taking a pseudo-religious half-wit like Probly Bettys as an hors d’oeuvre.

However, as much as these thoughts banged on the mental door of common sense, the happy, evangelistic travel-brochure of the mind would not allow admittance.

Probly attended the lecture and missed almost all of it. Oh, he was there. Front row, in fact. However, as his mind was still in ‘travel-brochure’ mode it automatically ‘switched off’ whenever phrases such as, “Bloody savage little bastards”, and “Quite lethal in actual fact, old chap. Bit ‘im right in the meat n’ two veg. No sir, he died. Couldn’t find a single blighter who’d volunteer to suck out the poison. Dashed shame, what?”

And because much of the lecture was regaled with such tales, Probly walked out of the auditorium feeling somewhat bemused. Though not disillusioned ….

There was a cheese and wine party in the foyer.

Probly spied Arvid Deadrock amid a small gathering of adoring, chaste young women from the Church of The Ironclad Knickerbocker: Glory-be!

Or the K.G.B. as they were affectionately known among religious circles.

Deadrock had the cunning, calculating look of a Big Cat. A Big Cat whom, if he played his cards right was soon going to get his hands on the kitty. Or at least, a kitty.

‘Excuse me, Mister Deadrock. Might I have a word, please?’

Probly’s interruption may have earned him the ‘Glacial Look Of The Year Award’ from Deadrock, but it also inadvertently saved a lisping young woman from complaining the following morning that she was “Thaw”.

Probly was well-known for his attempts as proselytising, and the women, who also knew a thing or two about Reverend Tailgater, excused themselves politely and drifted away.

A short while later, in the cigar lounge of Deadrock’s gentleman’s club, Probly sat comfortably ensconced within the folds of a worn leather chair pleading his case for a place amongst the plorer’s next expedition to the Dark Continent.

‘So, young feller m’lad. Interested in the Back Passage are yer?’ Deadrock asked, in reference to the name given to the route to Freeca.

He held Probly with the same riveting stare that had caused the occasional simian to drop, mesmerised from a baobob tree.

‘Er … I am looking for a position as a missionary, actually, sir,’ Probly ventured.

‘Ah! Missionary position. Good man!’

Then he frowned, bringing his eyebrows together to form one thick band. It gave the appearance of a hairy caterpillar clinging to his forehead.

‘No place in the ranks for a giggle-oh, what?’

‘What?’ Probly said, completely thrown by Deadrock’s remark.

‘No wimmin, y’see. Can’t have memsahibs clutterin’ up the place, stringin’ pieces of … of, er … string, about the place.’

‘String?’ Probly echoed.

‘Right. String. Twine or whatever it is they use to hang their … their … smalls.’

‘Small what, sir?’

Probly noticed a fine sheen of sweat form on the man’s face. His somewhat scruffy handlebar-moustache began to twitch.

Deadrock pulled the meerschaum out of his mouth. He’d been biting it so hard he almost removed his dentures at the same time.

‘Lishen, yungsh fellah,’ Deadrock protested, while pushing his false teeth back into place, ‘Enough of this malarkey, d’yer hear? Y’want the job or what?’

‘Well, yes, sir. I do.’

‘Good. In that case, we’ll be leaving on the mornin’ tide, day after tomorrow. And don’t be late. We won’t wait for tardy risers. Understand? No time for slackers. Got it?’

‘Yes, sir. Got it. Thank you, sir.’

Deadrock relaxed. Then, after a few thoughtful sucks on his pipe, he leant forward, adopting a conspiratorial tone.

‘So, tell me young fellah m’lad. What’s it like?

‘Like, sir?’

‘Bein’ a giggle-oh, what?’

‘Er … funny?’

*Plorer. And adventurer who came back as opposed to an ex-plorer who didn’t

Copyright© DSP