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)

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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

akhenatenhat

This is from the third book, The Nine Amendments, in the Mining of Lif Trilogy.

(which we are going to be publishing sooner rather than later…I sincerely hope)

I was reminded of this particular scene while reading blogpal Argus’ latest offering about certain things eye-talion…here…

Incidentally, the title, and in fact the core of the book; the ‘flash’ that occurs inside a writer’s mind sending him or her scurrying to a word processor, or in days of Yore, pencil and paper, owes its very existence to a conversation between myself and a dear friend, who is always referred to in any sort of literary forum as Mrs. Aaargh – who has just become a mum,by the way, and will soon be introducing to the world at large, Miss Catherine.

Anyhow the conversation…

At one time, Mrs. Aaargh was attending a bible class, and me being fascinated by all such things, asked her how it was going one evening over dinner. 

She expressed enthusiasm. Mindful of the warning looks from the Missus on the other side of the table I asked what she was currently studying?

 “The Nine Amendments,” was her slightly flustered but nevertheless enthusiastic reply.

This, as you can imagine, was greeted with Stone Cold Silence from all.  But as is dear, sweet Mrs. Aaargh’s unpretentious nature she recovered gallantly, laughed and said, “The…Ten (pause) Commandments.”

Only then were we able to laugh about it, and to this day it remains one of her ‘classics’.

So, for that, bless her,  she got the dedication as acknowledgement that without her bible studies this book would unlikely have been written, 

Here’s the extract…

‘The palace, like every Royal Residence before it here at Memfis, is built on an area known as the Land of Grace. It originally started life as a simple two-up, two-down affair with brick-outhouse. But over the millennia, it has become what it is now.’

An almighty pain-in-the-bum, thought the man hurrying along the wide, rose-quartz and marble passageway.

The tour-guide came out of her practised routine just long enough to feign a gasp. The heavy door at the end of the thoroughfare closed with a loud thunk as the man disappeared inside the chambers beyond.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. We are truly blessed this afternoon.’

The small group looked at her with expressions varying from mild curiosity to indifference.

‘That was the King. He’s in the building!’

Their response to this announcement was equally as animated.

‘Mummy, I need a pee. Mummeee!’

‘Where are the ducks? You said there were ducks. You promised.’

‘Scluze me? You makey plicture of wife an’ me? Yes? We stand here, an’ when you leady we say, Camembert, alrighty? You sketch vely klickly.’

‘I thought this was supposed to be one of the Wonders of the World? Doesn’t seem that wonderful to me,’ complained a man wearing a knotted handkerchief on his head.

‘We were offered a trip to the Hanging Gardens of Turkeystan,’ his wife reminded.

‘Pah! What would I want to go and pay good money to see them for? Port o’ Bill has its own hanging gardens behind the cathedral. I can visit them any time I like. And they give you peanuts.’

‘I don’t think it’s quite the same thing, dear,’ said his wife.

‘Well I thought the Learning Tower was more wonderful than this place, even though I didn’t learn much. Other than how not to build a tower.’

‘I’m sure it is called the Leaning Tower’ his wife said, fanning herself vigorously with a tour program.

‘Learning, Leaning. Who cares? I only went to see it because I thought that stupid woman at the tour agency said pizza. But they didn’t give us nowt to eat. Not that I could have stomached anything by the time I got to the top. Thought I was gonna throw up. I’ll bet this lot don’t even have cold beer, either.’

‘I thought you preferred warm beer, Reg?’

‘Y’can’t get warm beer here, Doris.  This is forun. How many times must I tell you? Don’t you remember anything? I think this heat is making you doolally.’

 *

   King Toot at the Moon, the fairest one who is sun, stars and moon, the most powerful god of all gods who shall rule for eternity, or until *bitten in the ass,  for ever and ever Amen Corner, sighed.

What a mouthful, he thought. What possessed his old man? Why didn’t he give me his name, like every royal male stretching back to gods know when?

Ramsy.  One name. Straightforward. Thank you very much.  Nothing you could make of a name like that. If you tried to shorten it, what did you get? Ram. Nothing wrong with that, either. Good strong name. Okay, so one of them went down in history as the ‘Old Goat,’ but so what? He was, wasn’t he?  Anyway, they practiced animal-husbandry differently in those days.

Then he recalled that his name had been shortened. Unofficially.

Snatches of whispered conversation, overheard while shuffling aimlessly around the palace, had revealed he was now Toots the Fair O, or just plain Toots. But he had an inkling this was in reference to his penchant for sundowners which he had begun to overly-indulge in of late. But who could blame him? The economy was going to the dogs, crippled by the war. Rampant unemployment was spreading like a plague. Ten plagues, even, with some new industrial-action brought to his ‘Royal Attention’ almost every day. What was it this morning, he mused, taking a long sip of his drink. Regarding the half-empty glass, he tried to recall the name of the cocktail, his mind drifting down a different path.  Oh, yes. Slow Comfortable Screw that was it. Considering how fast I’m getting through these things these days, perhaps it should be renamed, Wham Bam, Thank You Ma’am, he thought. Smiling ruefully, he downed the contents in one swallow.

‘Either one I haven’t had since I can’t remember when,’ he announced to no one in particular.

‘Beg pardon, Your Majesty?’ a patient voice enquired.

‘Ah, nothing, Horus. Just an old fool rambling.’

‘Another drink, sir?’ the butler suggested.

‘The N.S.C.’

‘Excuse me, sir?’

‘The Night Soil Collective. That was the latest bunch that paraded in front of the palace this morning, waving all those placards.’

‘Ah, yes, sir. Striking for more pay. Difficult situation, sir. Not the most pleasant of occupations, Your Majesty.’

‘Pleasant, Horus? It’s a shit job.’

‘Quite, sir.’ Horus didn’t even smile.

‘They deserve more pay. I wouldn’t work for the wages they receive for hauling off all that…’

‘Crap, sir?’ Horus offered.

‘Indeed,’ the king agreed, slumping back in his chair.

‘I am sure that it will all sort itself out, sir. It usually does.’

The king sighed. ‘I hope you’re right, Horus. I really do. I’m going to turn in. Perhaps an early night will do me good?’

‘A good idea, sir,’ Horus agreed. ‘Tomorrow is likely to be a busy day.’

Toot at the Moon shuffled off to his bedroom. Horus trailed in his wake, picking up various items of clothing.

When he reached the bed Horus held out the king’s nightshirt.

‘Thanks,’ he said pulling it roughly over his head as he climbed under the sheets.

Horus arranged the mosquito net then waited.  ‘Will there be anything else, tonight, Your Majesty?

The king appeared not to be listening. His eyes took on a glazed appearance. He remembered it all started with . . .

Some translations say, bitten by the asp.

Copyright ©Douglas Pearce

Wimmin’s rights! Yeah, right!

wimmin

 

While reading a few posts in The Ark Stealth mode I came across this piece on Holly’s blog and it reminded of something that I wrote ….

This snippet is from book IV with the current working title of Oh Little Town of Brothelingham, of the comic fantasy series The Mining of Lif  

The King of Sunniclimes, Infidel Castrol read the latest construction reports. He was fuming.

This current bout of ‘down-time’ was costing him a fortune.

And more importantly, time. He wanted to see the train; his train pulling into the newly-constructed station at Menfis.

It was delay after delay after delay.

The line was originally supposed to have run direct from El Stan-Bull to Menfis. The route would have meant it passed through Mount Horibilis.

The King saw no problem with this. In fact, he quite liked the idea of a fifty-kilometre tunnel.

However this idea was metaphorically burnt at the stake when it was pointed out that Mount Horibilis was of great religious significance.   Many people believed Mount Horibilis was also the legendary Mount Sinaisitus, where the Prophet Mo Sez was supposed to have met the One God.

As Mo Sez was held in high regard by several nations, and revered by some it was deemed unwise to ruffle any theological or political feathers.

King Castrol had no feelings either way regarding prophets. Although, he had very definite views when it came to profits.

Nevertheless, he was advised not to go making holes in things that were already considered holy.

The outcome being, that the railway line would now follow a route around the mountain…

‘Besides, Your Majesty. The phrase, she’ll be coming round the mountain has a certain poetic and timeless quality about it. Whereas, she’s coming through the mountain just doesn’t have a ring about it.’

‘She? Who the hell is she?’

‘Why, the train, sire. The engineer is emphatic that a thing of such beauty could only be a she, sire.’

‘So, what’s the damn problem this time,’ King Castrol asked.

‘The employees are demanding wages, uncle.’

‘What the hell are they?’ yelled the king.

‘I believe they’re a form of remuneration for work,’ replied the king’s nephew, Shane Guava.

‘I know what wages are, you half-wit. I was referring to employees. Since when do I have employees building my railway-line? They’re slaves.’

‘Oh, right. Since last week, apparently.’

‘Apparently! Apparently! The king bawled. ‘You’re Senior Overseer, for crap’s sake. Just execute a few of them.’

‘Could prove awkward, uncle. They’re organised,’ Shane tried to explain.

But the king was having none of it and vented his anger with a string of invective that included a suggestion that eyes would be the first organ he would have removed if the building of his railway was not back on track immediately.

‘They have an agent provocateur. A woman.’

King Castrol knew what a woman was. He wasn’t sure about the other person: this agent provocateur. But he didn’t really care.

‘So what? Execute them as well. Execute ‘em all, if necessary. We’ll get more.’

‘It’s Emily Pankreas, Uncle.’

A small frown creased the king’s brow.

‘The name rings a bell. Isn’t she a notorious leper or something?’

‘A suffragette, Uncle Fiddey.’

‘Same thing, isn’t it?’

Shane sighed. ‘She campaigns for woman’s rights, amongst other things.’

‘Women’s rights, women’s rights,’ the king mused trying to recollect where he had heard the term. ‘Isn’t that one of those hideous cloth things they use when…?’

‘No, uncle. It’s not,’ Shane interrupted. ‘It’s about equality and the right to vote.’

The king had a vague notion about voting, having heard the term mentioned by several of his wives. It had something to do with scissors paper and rocks and whose turn it was to share the royal bed. The thought of sharing anything, let alone his bed with a creature as hideous as Emily Pankreas was enough to make him shudder.

He focused on the word equality.

‘Equal rights for what?’ he asked suspiciously.

‘To be treated the same as men, uncle,’ Shane explained patiently.

‘You mean standing up to pee, farting and belching. Things like that?’

Shane gave up.

‘The thing is, we can’t get rid of her. She’s here to emancipate the slaves and she won’t go until this happens.’

‘With all the bananas and rice they eat I would have thought they were emancipated enough already.’

It took a few seconds.

‘Not constipated, uncle. Emancipated. She says they should be free.’

‘Free?’ Castrol frowned once more then quickly brightened, a smile spreading across his bearded face. ‘But that’s exactly what I want!’

‘No, no. That’s not…’

‘And what about the other one?’ the king interrupted.

‘Other one?’ Shane replied. Now it was his turn to frown.

‘The agent provocateur. What about him?’

Shane took a deep breath, shook his head then tried another tack. He hated it when his uncle tried to be devious. He was easier to deal with when he was merely losing his temper.

‘Never mind him for now. The point is, before I left, she lay down in front of the train and chained herself to the tracks. She is refusing to move unless we free the slaves and begin treating them like human beings.’

‘Lay down in front of the train, you say?’ The king had a calculating look in his eyes.

‘Yes, uncle.’

‘Good,’ Castrol said triumphantly. ‘Run over the bitch!’

Shane was almost at his wits end.  ‘We can’t. She is the Queen of Judysear’s cousin.’

The king sobered very quickly after this announcement. Anything royal-sounding would mean an entourage. He never travelled anywhere without at least fifty people in his retinue.  ‘Ah,’ he said nodding his head and rubbing his scruffy, tobacco stained beard. ‘So it’s political.’

At last! The Old Fart gets the picture, thought Shane.

But alas, the mighty ruler of Sunniclimes, His Majesty King Infidel Castrol thwarted his nephew yet again.

‘So build the track around her,’ he said with finality. ‘There. Sorted.’

Shane cradled his head in his hands. His shoulders shook.   He might have been laughing or crying. It was difficult to tell.

Shane had already considered this option but Emily Pankreas had promised to kill herself if they attempted to bypass her. And manhandling a cousin of the Queen of Judysear was asking for trouble. Even if they succeeded, and she refrained from killing herself he suspected she’d probably find some way to lie down on the track again. In his mind, Shane tried to imagine what several hundred kilometres of railway line would look like with Emily Pankreas-shaped diversions every few hundred metres.

Copyright DSP