Fantasy, General Fiction, Humour, Short Fiction

The Riddle of the billigits by Leila Allison

Meet the Hammy Dodgers

The crystal ball on my desk flashed red. This happens whenever the Witch HeXopatha (nee “Hezopatha”) wants to pee in my lager.

HeXopatha is an immortal Wiccan. She has been around for thousands of years and will continue to be around for however long it takes for her to get bored with the world and retire permanently to Hell–but I don’t count on that happening soon. Once upon a time the “peasants” might have been able to do something about HeXopatha, but her skill level has risen beyond river tossing and the pyre. In fact it is a bad idea to mention such previous activities in HeXopatha’s presence; nor is it advised to claim to be of “Puritan stock,” unless you enjoy long hours in pillory stocks.

Still, despite her negative attitude toward Witchunting, it may be of interest to know that HeXopatha claims that no actual Witch had been a victim of the various persecutions, and that the Salem debacle was actually a ruse concocted by one of her associates to rid herself of a budding “Sadie Goodwife” type named Rebecca Nurse. “Sadies” have preternatural Witch senses, tiresome morality streaks and tend to tattle. It was easy to frame Nurse, for the elders’ brains, again according to HeXopatha, “Were heavily rotted with paresis.”

I’ve noticed that the two extreme sides of being share a similar smile; the same perma-set grin that we saw on the faces of Warren Jeffs’ “wives” when the FBI came for them is on HeXopatha’s face–but the key difference is a light of powerful, gleefully evil intelligence in the Witch’s eyes where there were only gone fishin’ signs hanging in the soul windows of the Utah harem.

And there she was in the crystal ball, smiling, glowing with bad intent.

“Hey you,” I said, “how come you changed the spelling of your name and added that pain in the butt cap X in the middle without consulting me, the Ruling Power, first?”

“Because I have Free Will. I don’t have to ask–besides, you must admit that HeXopatha makes more sense for a Witch.”

She had me there. Although a Fictional Character (FC) of my own creation, the endowment of Free Will ended any real authority I had over her. Actually, other than selecting who appears in my stories, I have no real sway over any of my FC’s.

“Since when must Ruling Powers make sense?” I said. “Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. The reason I called you–”

“It’s the other way around, darling,” HeXopatha said, her malevolent yet oddly cleancut image glowing even brighter in the crystal ball. Being a Witch, HeXopatha changes her appearance every time she returns to Earth from long sabbaticals in Hell. For this incarnation she opted for an olive complexion, honey colored eyes and jett hair. Two constants about her are extreme beauty and a necklace that contains charms of Cats, Rats, Owls, Ravens, Bats, Wolves, Spiders, Scorpions, Snakes and Stoats–her beloved critter familiars. She has a host of human sycophants, but they do not rate a charm on the necklace. (There’s also a “billigit” charm, which we will explore later.)

I glanced back to the start of this piece and discovered that it was indeed she who had placed the call.

“Don’t you think I know that?” I lied via a question (I call the act of rhetorical fibbing “quie-ing”). “What now, your serene lowness?”

“Do you remember the Riddle of the Sphinx?”

“Do I look like I don’t know my mythology?” I quied. “But for the sake of the readers who may not be as up on the tale as we are, do tell.”

“Let’s have a little play,” she said.

With that the Rat and Cat charms on her necklace glowed, and within three seconds a golden-eyed Black Cat with a Black Rat riding on her back leapt through my office window–which had been closed, yet opened on its own to let them in. (For the record, HeXopatha’s girl Cats have gold eyes, the guys’ are gray. Her female Rats wear black hair bows, this one did not.)

The Cat leapt onto my desk. The Rat dismounted as though the Cat were a Horse. He stood on his back legs, bowed and said, in a surprisingly deep voice, for a rodent “I am Shrewsbury and this is Lady Hisskit.”

“Charmed,” I said.

“We are members of the Hammy Dodger Players,” said Lady Hisskit, who, like Sheffield, spoke with a lovely, trained voice. “We salute our benefactor, our Magnificent Master, Her Highness HeXopatha.” Both ebon fiends turned and bowed before the evil visage in the crystal.

“Just a moment please,” I said. I removed the portable breathalyzer I keep on hand for reality checks and blew into it. The result was no higher than normal. “All right,” I continued, “I guess this must really be happening. Umm, ‘Jolly Rancher Players’ you say?”

“Hammy Dodger, we said,” Hisskit replied, all superior and Helen Mirren-like. She then assumed the pose of the Sphinx and said: “Behold The Sphinx and Oedipus.”

Shrewsbury was a method actor. He wasn’t ready and we watched him slowly channel the character of Oedipus, like an emoting little Brando. Lady Hisskit, being a Cat, had little patience with her co-star.

“Hurry the hell up, you little motherfu-”

“Now, now, Hissy, darling,” HeXopatha spoke from the crystal, “save your rage for reality.”

“My apologies, Magnificent Master.”

“Quite all right, sweetheart.”

When it became apparent that Shrewsbury was ready, the Sphinx spoke: “Hideous piebald meat bag, tell me what creature walks first on four legs, then two and ends on three?”

“Man,” Oedipus replied, with great confidence.

“Sexist prick!” The Sphinx said, taking a swipe at Oedipus, who leapt nimbly away.

“Curtain! Bravo babies, bravo!” HeXopatha called out. The Hammy Dodgers bowed.

I figured they’d go away faster if I applauded, so I did just that. Shrewsbury climbed back on board Lady Hisskit and they exited by the same route they’d entered.

HeXopatha was about to say something, but I delayed her with a raised finger. I opened my top desk drawer and removed two hotel bottles of Jack Daniels and downed both. I again blew into the breathalyzer and upon seeing that I was now at a blood/alcohol level high enough to make whatever she had to tell me easier to swallow, I shivered and said, “Proceed.”

“I believe it will be easier to explain if an idler FC will just happen to wander past your office door right about now and perhaps explain the backstory,” she said, not volunteering to do so herself.

“Swell idea,” I said, and lo and behold Tallywhacker the Berkshire Pig just happened to be wandering past my door, which is always open because most of my FC’s are animals who lack thumbs to turn knobs, and only about half can fit through the pet door–which Tallywhacker might have been able to pass through the day he was born but at no time after. He’s a big fella. Good hearted, but a bit of an ear talker offer. Such an individual comes in handy when a backstory needs addressing.

“Tallywhacker, old chum–gotta big job for you,” I called out.

“By waddle, Miss Leila,” he said, “I’m your Pig.”

HeXopatha and I glanced at each other, both with “By Waddle?” in our eyes, but neither of us said anything. Tallywhacker has his little verbal dingleberries, which are all a part of the varied richness that is the Tallywhacker experience. (For the record, he was named for the sheep counting rope device used by shepherds–not for the male device responsible for nearly all the wars in history–though such an allusion does make a humorous appearance in the classic film Porky’s.)

The Backstory, By Waddle

Tallywhacker is a big guy. He’s dark brown over white, shaped like a giant artillery shell and weighs at least four-hundred pounds. Fortunately he’s gentle, impossible to insult and talks non-stop. The last item isn’t always a blessing, but it is helpful when I need the backstory filled.

“Tally, old chum,” I said, “Miss HeXopatha and I were discussing–um, hold on a minute–” I then spoke at the crystal ball “Jesus Christ, HeXy, what are we talking about?”

“The Riddle of the billigits,” HeXopatha said as though speaking to a small, dumb child.

“I bet if I scroll backwards I’ll discover that this is the first mention of that,” I said.

“You could,” she said, “or you could just let Tally go whole hog and pretend we have already addressed it.”

“The Riddle of the billigits,” I said to Tallywhacker.

“Yes, yes, by waddle,” Tallywhacker said, gathering his words for a long and windy verbal gale.

I noticed out of the corner of my eye that HeXopatha “hung up” the crystal ball, for it went dark. Interestingly, it happened just before my second in command and Imaginary Friend Renfield entered the room. Renfield was wearing her usual sinister grin, which went well with her olive complexion, honey colored eyes and Jett hair.

“You just missed HeXopatha,” I said.

“Guess that gives me cause to hang myself,” she said. The antipathy between Renfield and HeXopatha is known to all. You never see them at the same time.

“By waddle, Miss Renfield,” said Tallywhacker. “What happened to that lovely necklace I saw you wearing in the lobby? With the charms?”

“The billigits, Tally,” I said, a bit quickly. “We’re up against the word budget enough already.”

“Oh, yes, by waddle, those daffy billigits–only four of the little winged orange fellows you know. Small, standing about hock high, and they wear identical blue polo shirts, khaki slacks and hemp slippers that fall off in flight. They do not use capital letters, by name they are mothball, weasel, pinto and flounder. Little rascals, by waddle,” Tallywhacker finished with a little chuckle.

It soon became evident that Tally had forgotten his lines.

Renfield fake sneezed “Minions.”

“Bless you, by waddle, Miss Renfield…why yes, the billigits currently serve as minions to the lovely Witch HeXopatha–who looks an awful lot like you, Miss Ren–”

“Pork Cheops,” Renfield fake sneezed again.

“‘Cheops,’ by waddle, of course. Mistress HeXopatha has founded the Valley of the Queen in her section of our realm known as Saragun Springs. She plans on building pyramids and such to her honor her esteemed witchyness…”

“And-wha-wha-wha-what-the-fuck-duh-do-fuh-four-billi-billi-billigits-have to do with it,” I faked sneezed.

During my fake sneeze, Renfield had quietly left the room; soon the crystal ball flashed red. HeXopatha was back, adjusting her charm necklace.

“That’ll do, Pig, that’ll do,” she said.

“Yes, and thank you Tallywhacker,” I added. “There are some tulip bulbs out in the barnyard that need rooting, if you are so inclined.”

“By waddle, that does appeal to my fancy,” Tallywhacker said. And as he passed through the office door, I realized that he was maybe three hundred calories away from not being able to squeeze through it, and I made a note to widen the passage.

Now, please imagine an attractive woman who has an olive complexion, honey-colored eyes, jett hair and is wearing a charm necklace knocking on the inside of the screen of whatever you are viewing this on. Since you are willing to do that much, please further imagine that your device is a crystal ball. The attractive woman wants your attention because she has something to tell you.

“Hello, readers or reader or no one at all, I am the Great and Powerful Witch HeXopatha. Through trickery and magic I have converted the four billigits that Tally mentioned into an army of a quarter million. I recently joined them to form a single giant billigit that is two-hundred-forty feet long and about sixty high. The size of the Sphinx. Why? Because I can. And for my further entertainment, I have devised the Riddle of the billigit. Only the correct answer to the riddle will break the spell and return the big billigit to the four individual billigits.”

Well, by waddle, there you have it.

Channeling Arnold

The Bard says “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” That pretty much sums up Horatio, but it doesn’t apply in this realm called Saragun Springs, where I’m the ruling Penname. Here, if you fail to dream up weird enough stuff, even weirder stuff will come looking for you. Some say it is because the vile, extravagantly poisoned, perhaps even sentient spring (which is a bit more like a geyser) that the realm is named after spews tons of vaporized LSD into our air every day. Some say lots of things, but this item might be true.

The Great billigit of HeXopatha, like everything else in my symmetrical realm, is about a mile downwind of the spring. In fact everything is downwind from the spring. No such condition as being upwind of it. Thus the air contains a vague scent similar to that spray polite people use in a vain attempt to conceal a particularly nasty toilet event.

Since the path to the Great billigit passed the spring, it was decided that the two persons with the least evolved senses of smell in the realm would try to solve the Riddle of the billigit. I went because I’ve been a smoker since childhood; I notice stenches, but only in a distant sort of way. I brought along Pie-Eyed Peetie, the PDQ Pilsner Pigeon– a perpetually pickled cartoon beer mascot who is offended by nothing due to his continuous consumption of PDQ Pilsner (which is brewed from the foul water of the spring). We rode on an old Vespa that could only be turned off by the removal of the wire leading to its lone spark plug.

We saw the Great billigit before he* saw us.(* Although technically neither male nor female, I call billies guys. For anyone offended by that, the answer to the Riddle is for you.) Several of the individual billigits were playing soccer, which proved to my satisfaction that they didn’t hold the Sphinx pose when no one was looking.

But a lookout finally saw us and the collective billigits took the shape of a winged orange Sphinx that wore a blue polo shirt and khaki pants. A pair of giant hemp slippers lay close by.

I pulled up to the Great billigit, yanked the plug wire and said “We have come to solve the Riddle. I’m certain that you guys want to end this nonsense even more quickly than I do. So I recommend a Riddle from the bottom of the Riddle jar, if you catch my drift.”

I could hear the Great billigit’s thoughts. Actually it was the four original billigits, each playing himself and 62,249 other billigits,

by name mothball, weasel, pinto and flounder, excitedly chatting about putting some distance between themselves and the nearby putrid spring.

The four addressed us in one combined voice.

“Behold the riddle: ‘Hey, buddy, did a cat die in there or what?'”

Fate had smiled on us all. The billigits knew that Peetie’s an authority on the slob coms and popcorn films of the 1980’s. It was obvious they wanted no further part of HeXopatha’s Valley of the Queen.

“Fuck you, asshole,” Peetie said, quoting the Terminator, who answered the same “riddle” with those words decades ago.

With that 249,996 doppelganger billigits zapped out of existence, leaving but the original foursome. They bowed and immediately flew off as fast as possible.

Epilogue, By Waddle

Later, I was back in the office supervising the widening of the doorway for Tallywhacker’s benefit.

The crystal ball flashed red.

“What now?”

“Hello, darling,” HeXopatha said. “I want to introduce you to the newest member of the Hammy Dodgers.”

Tallywhacker’s honest face appeared in the crystal. “By waddle, this is certainly a big career move for me.”

“Good job, on the audition,” I said. “Glad you got out before you got too big for the door to hit you in the ass–Tell me, HeXy, why did you waste the time to create a Sphinx that was so easy to disperse?”

HeXopatha smiled that Mormon harem smile of hers. “Because I can.”

The crystal went dark. A moment later Renfield entered with a tablet in her hand. She smiled that Warren-wifey smile of hers and handed me the tablet.

The screen was connected to a security camera near Saragun Springs and the Valley of the Queen. The air was filled with the 249,996 billigits I thought we had dismissed. Each one was carrying a small stone carved from a quarry near the spring. A billigit sized stone. There was a conga line of the guys, which ended where the Sphinx billigit had been.

“So, HeXy is getting her pyramid after all,” I said, handing the tablet back to Renfield.

“I bet it’s a scam,” Renfield said.

I glanced at her, then took the crystal ball in my hand, spoke “Tallywhacker” thrice into it.

“Okay gang, all together before we run out of words,” I said.

“By Waddle,” we said.


14 thoughts on “The Riddle of the billigits by Leila Allison”

    1. Thank you Marco

      I have nothing against the Mormons–there’s a large community here and I went to school with some of the girls, who were only different because each one seemed to have at least eight siblings. But that Jeffs’ situation–those poor brainwashed women–so vacant eyed and smiling. Well, he’s got a new “love life” now, I’m certain. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, David

      One of the big moments in life is when you understand that the people in charge of government or even the local donut shop have no better grasp on reality than you do. In fact if you realize it, you are up on the powers that be, at least intellectually. It all makes twisted sense. And from then on it is best to eat dinner where they have a liquor license.
      Thank you again!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Leila,
    I normally state in my commenting that I’m not going to add to my musings and then, well, add to them.
    When I see how much I wrote about this (All your fault due to it’s brilliance!) I thought I better get off the mark and get it out there.
    But now I look back I am still talking pish before I type the truth!!
    Anyhow as always here you go!!

    What I adore about your work is how many tangents that it takes the reader off in. If this is unintentional (Which I don’t think it is) it shows a creativity that you don’t realise the power of. If it is intentional (Which I think it is) it shows a perception and empathy that is out the park. The weird thing is either of them show an absolutely brilliant writing brain!!
    With that in mind – Here are my scribblings.
    – This has one of the best first lines I have ever read. That is a lesson on grabbing the reader.
    Ironically, I choked on my Stella when I read it!
    – ‘Lady Hisskit’ – I am in awe of the names that you come up with.
    – The brilliant line ‘Helen-Mirren like’ is so apt. (Jesus – She was as sexy as hell in ‘The Long Good Friday’ Hoskins deserved an Oscar for the very last scene when he knew he was just about to be killed. Pierce Bronson was in his very first role.
    – I want to read more ‘Flash’ acting from ‘The Hammy Dodgers.’ (The Godfather is a must!)
    – Impressive!!! Two bottles of Jack – Bluto only swallowed one!
    – Do we have a Clark Kent / Diane Prince situation going on??
    – ‘Widen the passage’, my inner Franky Howard had a titter at that.
    – Loved that you used imperial measurement. If you have ever played darts then you have a bit of the metric system…Treble 17 – 51 (Seventeen feet is 5.1 meters) Treble 19 – 57 (Nineteen feet is 5.7 meters) etc, etc.
    – I’m trying to remember which Terminator film we went to see at the pictures??? I gave up on them when they lost an ‘Adult’ classification.
    ‘The ‘Cause I can attitude’ is inspired!
    – HAH!! Is this a criticism – I thought you were going to take this to exactly 3000 words!
    I love these. I would be privileged to meet the witch, but Peety would always be my first choice!! I’d love to see who would pass out first!!!


    1. Thank you, Hugh

      I truly appreciate your compliments. It is wonderful to read them.
      After working for the government for a while, I know how they speak. “Pass Out” is considered “the unintentional relinquishment of consciousness.” Pretty much sums up Peety. If I could be a character I’d pick him.
      Thanks again!


  2. Suggestion for the stage production –
    Elvira plays Hexapatha
    FCs by whoever does the Simpsons
    Stage has ten fourth walls
    Rolling Stones “Sway”, Beatles “Helter Skelter”, Golden Earring “Twilight Zone”, Marvin Gayes “Got To Give It Up” are in the soundtrack

    More allusions than my aged and disillusioned brain can hold

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Doug

      The illusion called reality is composed of four fourth walls, a fourth ceiling and same for the floor–or even a four on the floor.It is advisable to place as much distance between one and reality as swiftly as possible.

      Take care,

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t have more to say than usual about your brilliance and wild imagination. So, I’ve picked out a few really stand out, stunning lines, which I think are just perfect:
    ‘added that pain in the butt cap X in the middle’
    “save your rage for reality.”
    ‘Tallywhacker has his little verbal dingleberries’
    ‘We rode on an old Vespa that could only be turned off by the removal of the wire leading to its lone spark plug.’

    I could have chosen many more quite easily. To quote you again, I’d say reading your work is a little akin to living in ‘realm is named after spews tons of vaporized LSD into our air every day.’

    Liked by 1 person

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