Other than dying, there aren’t too many things I recall about my sixth birthday. I know I had a new bike because I was riding it when I was killed. It was green with black trim and it had one of those little single chime bells you could twang with your finger to warn off pedestrians who had stumbled into your path. I can’t remember if I chimed it at the car that was heading to the crossing too fast or if it got hit by some part of the car at the same time I was struck but I know it was the last sound I heard. Still, it was a proper big boy’s bike that I could grow into; except, of course, I didn’t.
Sorry, I should probably clear a few things up. You see, I’m not dead. I’ve had plenty of other birthdays and plenty of other presents. Never a bike though. I just couldn’t face it. Besides, dad was always a runner.
When I lived in London I heard that you were never more than three feet away from a rat. It’s a bit like that with cyclists around here Danny. Continue reading
Another change for week 110 so I’ll get on with the reviews and then explain myself.
We had a mix of horror, markets, a ‘legal’ killing, a fishing technique and a town’s history.
Only one new person this week. As usual, our initial comments follow.
“…you can actually taste the friction Dimitri.”
Stu shook his head and stared, unnoticed at his iPad surfing wife. “Did you hear that Jen? They can actually taste the friction.”
“Hmm…that’s nice love.”
“I suppose they’d know that sort of thing what with it being a cooking show and all, but actually tasting friction? I can’t even begin to contemplate what friction would taste like. OK that’s not true, I imagine it tastes pretty similar to sticking one of those nine volt Duracells on your tongue when you were nine and stupid but that isn’t the point.”
“I expect so love.”
“You’re not even listening to me are you? I could say whatever I wanted right now and you wouldn’t hear a word of…come to think of it it’s probably more like sucking on wet wool.”
‘Twas the night before Christmas
And in the alehouse below
A creature was stirring
A miserable old crow…
“Stirring’s a bit strong a word for it to be fair Nug, but I admire your cheery optimism.”
Nugget shook his lumpy, misshapen and somewhat yellow head. “You know me Bresst. Ever cheery.”
“Been meaning to ask you something though, Nug. What’s this Christmas thing you keep singing about?”
“That? The celebration of Christopher Thomas?”
“Christopher Thomas? You’ve heard the tale of Old Chris surely?” Nugget laughed goldenly as Bresst shook his head. “In that case I propose the same again to lubricate the tale. And,” he continued, poking the form slumped over the table beneath a black feathered cloak, “We’d better get another ale into him if we’ve got any chance of him functioning. Now where’s my favourite…ah! There she is! Menna! Three ales please darlin’. And a couple of those otters on a stick if you’d be so kind.”
Right now. Right at this very moment. The moment we are sharing through the medium of a page and the words it contains a man is washing blood from a nine inch blade. His hands are shaking and not just from the chill of the brown water that alternately dribbles then vomits from a rusting tap.
The bathroom is stark. You know the type. Single, naked bulb throwing diseased shards of light into your brain, alive with a frequency on the ragged edge of your hearing. The floor tiles might be white under the patina of despair, shit and god knows what else. The ones on the walls are much the same but with more graffiti to hide their shame. The mirror above the sink keeps showing the same re-run of a man washing a knife. He looks familiar but he’s changed. Hollowed out. He has no idea why he is cleaning the knife but he doesn’t stop.
My eyes open and my head is thick. Not as thick as my hair must feel now that the twin sisters of sand and salt have done their work, but thick all the same. Tiny grains shift against my scalp in the breeze but I’m too full of slumber to worry overmuch. I lie back against the sand. Close my eyes.
The beach is quiet now. The laughter and shouting, the frenetic madness of noon has dissipated like the heat of the day. I can see the sun dipping over the water if I raise my head a little. Golden puddles melting into the horizon. For a moment the world is aflame and then twilight succumbs to night.
Here begins the third (official) tale of the accumulated adventures of Stormcrow.
I guarantee* that by reading Any Crow In A Storm first you will find this episode 19.73%** funnier. Episode 2 was rubbish. Just ask the Literally Stories editors. Go on, I dare you***
* not an actual guarantee.
** not an actual accurate number.
*** an actual dare.
Either way, in this episode we find our halfling-hating legend so full of his own splendour that he can’t even be bothered to turn up until the last couple of paragraphs…
“Will he be long d’ya reckon?”
“How the bloody hell should I know?” The large-headed swarthy guard rolled his eyes and snorted only to have the effect ruined by a migrant rope of snot who, in excitement and glee at having found a hitherto unknown trap door, smacked straight into the guard’s epiglottis. Mucusy dreams of the bright lights of throat town were shattered in the hawk and spit moments that followed, and as he lay dying, drying, against the stump of an ancient oak the plucky little gobbet found solace in the fact that he had, at the very least, had a go.