A Story where the past and present, and vast distances in space intersect…and Boris does what he always does…
Eastern Europe, 1848
Prussian War raged, and the Wends as a village, left their homeland, with plans to set sail for Australia. From the Eastern edge of Prussia, they journeyed on a barge destined for Hamburg’s port, where they hoped to catch a cheap fare in the cargo-hold of a ship destined for the Promised Great South Land.
These villagers, never made their Australian destination. No one ever noticed, nor missed them. The neighbouring villagers assumed they had arrived in the Great Southern Land, and considered them so far away, and too distant to maintain contact. In Adelaide, also, the city for which they headed, the inhabitants were blissfully unaware of their existence. Migrating Prussians had taken their place in the over-flowing cargo-hold and were sailing across the Atlantic to Australia.
On this barge, headed by a man, Boris Roach, the Wends sang hymns of praise to God for their liberation from religious persecution, and the war. They looked to the promise of prosperity and freedom to worship God according to the Word. Their hope that their children and their descendants may thrive in their faith in the Promised Land of South Australia.
A tale where the nineteenth century meets the twenty-first…
Avoiding Monica’s Playroom, (I thought Maggie might be lurking there), I headed for the Driver room. Would Günter zap back to a Grey and be piloting there? Or would just his apes be in the Driver room? I approached the junction where the right passage led to that room of monitors and Günter. I sensed someone sliding along the wall behind me and looked back.
A lump lodged in my throat. Not the Grey Nurse again!
‘Where is he?’ She tugged at my collar choking me. ‘You go to him—get him. I want him.’ Does she ever give up?
‘If you’re that desperate, find him yourself.’ I veered the other way, ducked around the next corner, and lost her.
I headed for the Engine room. I had to see John and talk to him about all my troubles. And warn him Boris might be back. What I liked about John was he didn’t talk much; he just sat there and listened.
I entered the maze of towering machines, pumps, and raw veins of bound wires. Anxious, at every sound of a swish behind me, I checked my back. Every wheeze, and I slammed myself up against the closest engine cowling, flattening myself for cover. I reached John’s small office and lurched through the entrance.
Hands gripped around my eyes. Darkness, even darker.
‘We must leave here,’ a deep voice said. ‘Now.’
‘It is not safe; there has been an accident.’
‘Günter, is that you?’
He pushed me, guiding me. Something oily underfoot made me slip. He held me. Then carried me out.
In the light of the corridor, I blinked. Günter appeared pale. His forehead was covered in beads of perspiration. And as he held me, he trembled.
My shoe stuck to the floor. I lifted my foot. On the tiles, a bloodstained shoe print.
‘W-what’s going on?’ I asked.
‘I-it is J-John…’ Günter rasped. ‘I-didn’t want you…to see…’
‘John? Is he…no, not John…he can’t be…’ I moved to enter the engineering room.
‘No danger.’ Günter pulled me back. ‘He is…he is gone.’
Günter cradled me in his arms as we both wept.
Continue to feast on this story over the Holiday season.
With an exhibition coming up in April, I thought this cheeky little piece, a 100-word challenge might fit the bill, so to speak. The actual incident of imagined “water/wine-theft” took place several years ago, but I believe the gallery involved still takes their rules very seriously.
‘Where can we get some water?’ my friend asked.
I pointed at the casket of spring water languishing in the gallery. ‘There’s some just there.’ A glass wall confined the well-watered and wined gallery guests. We had been guests, but this gallery was devoid of seats. We wanted to sit. And eat.
‘Sign there bans wine not water.’
I stowed into gallery, collected cups of water and walked to the door.
‘Where do you think you’re going?’ self-appointed wine-police snapped.
I placed the stolen water back on the table and left.
Transubstantiation. My first virtual miracle; turning water into wine.
[After last week’s gross and gory post, I received criticism that this story was too horror-filled and disturbing to be published. They felt that the warning was not strong enough. The truth about Evil, is that it’s ugly, it’s confronting, it’s something we shy away from; our innate human condition dictates that we have a bias to satisfy our own selfish needs to the detriment of others. As it says in the Bible in Romans 3:23: “All have fallen short of the glory of God.”
Part 1 of Boris’ Choice may look like I, as a writer have fallen short of God’s glory. What I was exploring, though was the pure evil character that Boris is.
In this story’s conclusion, I endeavour to show the opposite of Boris in the goodness of Joshua, the answer to the destructive consequences of evil. Boris, being Boris cannot tolerate Joshua.
Thus, the war on Boris, the battle between good and evil begins…]
Boris’ Choice (2)
Days passed and the promise of barbequed Joshua eluded Boris. Worse, he sensed Maggie slipping from him, enticed by the weird teachings of the man with no shell. By the third day Boris curled up on his nest of droppings, sucking his top claw and sulking. Now, that Earth creature had a following, a rag tag clutch of disciples and had the audacity to preach from the front steps of his castle. Thoughts of love, peace, law and order filtered through the atmosphere. Boris folded his antennae under his helmet attempting to block out the infectious purity. Still the cleansing vibrations penetrated. Boris’ intestines boiled with rage. He rose from his bed and then slamming the door, marched through his home to the porch.
His whiskers recoiled at the radiating goodness. ‘No! Get out of my life!’ He stomped his needle feet on the ‘Go Away’ mat.
The monolith of pale flesh turned and reached out to him. ‘Please turn over your life, Boris. If we start now, your world will be a much better place to live. If you keep on killing and destroying, you’ll end up—alone.’
Boris bristled. He turned, his armour facing the crowd. ‘Don’t care. At least I’ll be free to do whatever I please.’ A dragonfly skimmed the water of the fishpond filled from last night’s rain. Boris shuddered.
‘No!’ Boris spun round and with a wing stiff, hit Maggie hard so that she curled into a ball and bounced down the steps. As she straightened, he raised his weapon-arm.
Joshua stepped in front of him, blocking his aim. ‘What are you doing? Do you not love her?’
‘Pah! Never did.’ Boris pumped venom into Joshua’s unguarded chest.
The giant creature sank to his knees and groaned.
Boris waved his proboscis. ‘You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting to do that.’ The disciples recoiled and scattered.
‘Three days. He’s only been with us—’ Maggie raced to the prostrate Earth-being. She held his bulbous head and gasped. ‘What have you done, Boris?’ She looked up at him, her antennae twisting into an anguished knot.
He poised his needle-like mouth over the creature’s supple neck. ‘Only what must be done to survive.’
‘Kill me if you have to, but—’ the alien rasped, ‘—whatever you do, don’t touch my ship.’
‘You have a ship? Hmm?’ Boris said, his fangs twitched at the prospect of a crew full of large, tender, succulent prey.
‘Well, of course he has. How do you think he got here?’ Maggie combed Joshua’s fine white hairs. ‘But he said not to touch it, so—’
‘Shut up, female!’ Boris aimed and vaporized Maggie. He flapped his wings and cleared the cloud of particles from his prize, the alien. Sharpening his pincers, he examined the limp neck and shiny skin begging to be consumed. He lanced his fangs into the soft neck and chomped through the layers of skin, gristle and bone. By midnight, with his belly distended over his lower legs, Boris packed the last of the sealed bags of Joshua in the freezer. He gazed at his handy work stacked on the shelves and sighed. Then he nudged the door closed.
He patted his stomach and passed gas. ‘Well, nothing like the present. Before they get wind of it. And besides, I’m all fuelled up.’
Boris spread his wings and soared into the atmosphere. He banked higher, above the clouds lined silver with the moon. He closed the vents in his shell as he rose up into the icy stratosphere. The air thinned, not that it mattered to Boris as he didn’t breathe much anyway. He looked down, his hometown merged with the continent. He sailed with the solar winds, drifting with the rotation of the planet as he hunted for the alien ship. A speck glittered at the point where the curve of his world met the black of space. Boris powered up his rear booster rockets and charged towards the glint. As he approached the triangular-shaped chunk of metal, he magnetized his feet and plopped onto the frigid surface of the dark side. He set his weapon spike to maximum and cut into the hull.
Sharp spasms quaked from the surface through Boris’ legs. A shot of electricity jerked through his exoskeleton. ‘O-oh!’ Boris retracted the magnets and darted away. Boom! A wave of energy hurled him into space, rolling, flying, knocking against fragments of ship, and reeling like space junk towards the moon. As a ball he plopped into a lunar lake padded with dust. He straightened his body and watched as his world glowed red and vascular with lava and then in silence caved in on itself into a lump of coal.
Alone Boris orbited the moon, scanning the pock-marked surface. ‘There has to be a space station here somewhere. And when I find it, and get me a space craft, I’m going for Earth. That Joshua and his kind are not going to get away with what they’ve done.’ He watched his sun dim for a second. He knew he did not have much time.
[From my understanding about Gargoyles and a read of Wikipedia on the subject it would seem that Gargoyles from medieval times were used not only to drain water from the building, but their hideous animalistic forms were to remind the people that evil is all around, and that it’s in the church that one finds refuge from evil.]
Curious about what mischief and mayhem Boris will get up to?
Check out my new novel, fresh on the virtual shelves of Amazon Kindle—click on the link below:
[How the war on Boris began…on a planet hundreds of light-years away, and hundreds of years ago. Warning, this over-sized alien cockroach is not for the faint-hearted. The story is best to be digested away from meals. This story contains violence, gore and cockroaches.]
Boris crept towards her. She hunched over, back draped with a tattered shawl, picking rotting peel from the over-flowing garbage tin. Boris eyed the bundle of hessian rags and wrinkled flesh. She’s useless. Who would want her? She’s way past child-bearing age. Surprised someone hasn’t eaten her already. Old females were a specialty on his world, his favourite—boiled. Although he must admit, he’d never pass up the offer of a baby, cooked fresh out of the womb. Boris wiped the acid dripping from his crusty lips and scuttled closer to his victim. With his probe he stung this brown heap in the round of her back and she melted into a pool of oil. Boris extended his hollow proboscis and sucked the puddle, all of her black fluid on the pavement.
Boris thrust forward his abdomen swelled with this snack and waddled past his fellow Bytrodes. They smiled at him and nodded. ‘Well, done!’ ‘Ridding the world of waste.’ ‘I wish I had your guts.’
Boris grinned and with his surround optical vision guarded his armoured back as they moved behind him. No fellow Bytrode can be trusted.
Then Boris burped, lifted the flaps in his spine and unfurled his wings. A potent gust of gas enabled him to lift into the air and ferry through the ruined structures, once ziggurats with lofty peaks that vanished into the clouds, now a pile of broken stones. On a mountain over-looking a river of septic waste, his palace gleamed gold and white; his reward built on the shells of his competitors and any other Bytrode that got in the way.
Flying spent the fuel that was the old woman, and hunger gnawed at his ribs. He spied a neighbour, Gavin basking on the roof of a satellite wreck close to the foamy shore. He plopped onto the carcass of yesterday’s breakfast and sidled up to Gavin’s shiny black back. The heat of the metal roof stung his many feet, so he stood on the tips of his pointy toes.
‘Do you want a little something to help you on your trip?’ Boris purred.
His fellow rotated his bald head. ‘Sure. What have you got?’
Boris reached into the pocket of his armour and pulled out a plastic bag of white powder. ‘Here, try some. It’s fresh and clean.’
‘Thanks.’ With whiskers twitching, Gavin positioned his snout over the bag and absorbed the contents.
‘There, that will make you happy.’ Boris chuckled. ‘And me.’
Boris drooled and waited as the goo that was Gavin fried on the metal in the searing afternoon sun. At the crisp and bubbly point, Boris reached underneath the wreck, and pulled out a plastic spatula. ‘Ah! Neighbour biscuit!’ His tentacles wriggled as he snapped off a piece and munched. ‘A fitting entrée to dessert and the object of my lust—Maggie. A perfect end to a delicious day.’
Boris climbed the mountain of victim waste his shell splayed as a force field to protect against the attack of scavengers. His belly bloated, and home too close to wing it, he lumbered up the hillside of rotting corpses to his castle, his numerous eyes like surveillance cameras scanning for any movement of the enemy pretending to be dead. A hiss. Boris froze, antennae vibrating. In the crimson rays of the setting sun, a shell rose defiant. Boris charged his weapon arm and fired a stream of fusion energy. Puff! Ash of foe added to the mountain.
Boris folded his weapon prong into his scales, and exhaling, curled into a ball of hard silicon, rolled the final leg of his journey home. At the titanium steel door, he unfurled his body and then tapped the musical security code, using four of his six legs. The door Bytrode-body thick with reinforced steel and telephone directories, creaked open.
‘Were you successful, my lust?’ Maggie projected her thoughts to Boris. Her shell glowed auburn, as she flicked her long scales and caressed Boris’ aura.
‘Yep,’ he said waddling past her, and then brushing against her waiting claws. He sailed to his throne, the recliner rocker, inherited from yesterday’s breakfast, and planted his thorax on the leather seat. While his peripheral vision traced his female’s scuttling steps to his side, he aimed his proboscis at the shag-pile rug and regurgitated the mashed contents of his stomach, decorating the cream shag with a lumpy pool of umber.
Boris burped. ‘Gavin.’
‘That’s nice, dear. Never did like him,’ Maggie said. She extended her trunk, groping and fusing with his. She dug her hooks into his scales.
Boris quivered as the fermented juice of last cycle’s enemy pumped into his gullet. ‘Ah! Tyrone! That was a good victim.’ Swelling with victory, power and the ether of Tyrone’s spent life-force, he thrust his favourite female onto the shagpile and Gavin goo, his thoughts and intent on more pleasurable pursuits than feasting.
‘Boris, dear…’ Maggie retracted her spikes and slid from under him.
Splat! Boris’ raw flesh grated on the shag fibres, while is face kissed the blow-fly flecked stew that was Gavin. He lifted his head and sucked in a fly-flavoured morsel. ‘What?’
Maggie’s antennae twitched. ‘We have a visitor.’
Boris straightened up and smoothed his scales. ‘Why didn’t you say something before?’ His abdomen purred with the delicious thought of food killed and prepared by his be-lusted.
‘I was overcome by the moment, I suppose.’ Maggie picked at the bugs in the shag-pile stew. ‘He’s an alien, from a far-away planet.’
‘Mmm! Even better!’ Boris rubbed his stomach. ‘I haven’t had an alien in ages. Where is he? In the kitchen boiling?’ He used his eyes to zoom his focus into the kitchen.
‘But, dear, the lust of my life,’ Maggie said, her voice warbling, ‘this alien is different. You can’t eat this one. I won’t let you.’
Boris’ scales bristled. ‘What? You can’t stop me! I eat everyone.’
A slug-like creature twice the size of Boris, who was big by Bytrodian standards, emerged from the hallway and filled the living room. Boris studied the biped from the antennae-free head that scaped the ceiling, to his massive extensions of legs that disgraced the rug.
‘Okay, I guess it would be a challenge,’ Boris said, ‘although I’d like to know how he got this far without being harmed. He’s got no shell.’
‘Insect spray,’ the biped conveyed while making sounds through one of the holes in his face. Then with one of two hands, he covered this pink face hole and made low pitched grunting noises.
Boris and Maggie stared at the alien, their eye whiskers twitching.
‘Oh, pardon me,’ the alien said through his thoughts and vibration of the airwaves. He extended a thick rope-like limb to Boris. ‘I’m Joshua, by the way. I’m from the planet Earth.’
Maggie clasped her middle legs together and shimmered with an orange hue. ‘Oh! How wonderful! We’ve never had someone from Earth for dinner before.’
‘So you mean you’ve changed your mind, my dear Maggie?’ Boris beamed red as he stroked Joshua’s jelly-like hand and sniffed his salty skin.
‘No!’ Maggie snapped. ‘Why do you have to kill and eat everyone, Boris?’
Joshua tore his hand from Boris’ claw. He rubbed the scratches and wiped scarlet ooze on his white robe.
‘I’m a Bytrode, that’s what I do,’ Boris said, splaying his wings and then prancing around the room. ‘I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t trod on a few shells.’
‘But I’ve been talking with Joshua and he’s shown me another way, a better way to live.’ Maggie scuttled over the rug and Gavin puddle to her mate. ‘If we could be friends, and stop destroying each other.’
Filing his external fangs Boris fixed his beady eyes on this over-sized amoeba. ‘Friends? And end up like Gavin here? What planet are you from?’
‘A better one than yours. Seems like this one’s messed up,’ the alien said as he pointed a stubby tentacle through the window at the wasteland of crumbling shells, and the screams of Bytrode souls in conflict.
Boris planted his six hands on his scaled sides, his limbs akimbo. ‘Well, if you don’t like it, you can go back to where you come from.’ He wished this creature would stay, just long enough for him to execute a plan to over-power him, chop him up, bag him and store him in the freezer.
‘But dear, we can learn from this Earth-being.’ Maggie licked Boris’ feet. ‘He’s from the other side of the galaxy. Surely that must count for something in getting ahead.’
Boris rolled his thousand mini eyes. ‘Very well, then. He can stay in the garage.’ He rubbed his abdomen, and in a part of his mind blocked from scrutiny, rearranged the shelf space to fit bags full of Joshua flesh; so much of it, keep them going for weeks. He purred in anticipation.
More silence as the Kombi trundled along Main North Road. Was this the trend for the road trip? Long awkward silences. Two brothers sitting side by side, itching to punch each other. Liesel itched to lay hands on Fox who squashed himself against the car door. And Minna opposite Günter, tried not to make too many calf-eyes at him, as well as trying her best to not nibble her nails. Was this what grown-up young people do for fun? Where was the excitement? The pillow fights? The Coca-Cola? Things go better with Coke, so the commercials say. And things in this mobile can did require better going.
A man dressed in brown walked on the roadside. He hunched over and stuck out his thumb.
Fox slowed down the van. ‘Oh, a hitch-hiker. Why don’t we pick him up?’
‘Are you crazy? No way!’ Liesel batted his arm.
Fox eased the Kombi to a stop. ‘He looks like he needs a lift. What the heck.’
‘What’re you doing?’ Liesel raised her tone.
But Fox continued to pull over to the side of the road.
When the backyard was clear of interfering adults, Wally’s harassment of the girls, particularly Minna, intensified. It began with vicious name calling, progressed to pinching and poking, and then escalated into soda warfare. Wally collected an arsenal of soda bottles which had come courtesy of Dad’s Christmas present soda machine, and after shaking vigorously, he assaulted the girls with the sticky fluid that spewed forth. No matter where Minna and Holly ran to escape, there lurked Wally, and the spray of soda. Not even freshly laid eggs from the hen house collected by Holly, and catapulted so accurately at Wally, deterred him from his soda campaign. It only stopped when the soda ran out. Grandma was not amused. ‘Them was good eggs,’ she lamented. She didn’t care about the soda.
Then came the stoning with pebbles from Grandma’s driveway. Wally rounded up the troops, all male, and barely pubescent. They scraped up the gravel by the tee-shirt full and set about pelting their female victims with the stones. The war of the Thumms had commenced; boys against girls. Holly and Minna cowered behind the corrugated iron bins and used the lids as shields. Grandma’s garbage was no match for gravel.
As the girls weathered another stone shower in the warmth of the Christmas Day twilight, Holly looked over at Minna. ‘Are you thinking what I am thinking?’ Holly had an uncanny knack for reading thoughts, especially Minna’s.
‘Yep, I think you are, Holly,’ Minna replied, smirking.
‘Well, then, what are we waiting for. Let’s dack him!’
‘Good thinking, Holly. There’s just the technical details to work out. Right?’ Minna ducked as a hail of pellets descended on them. ‘So how?’
‘Well, we could…’ Holly was full of brilliant ideas, but had trouble executing them.
‘I know, John, I’ll get my brother, John on our side. He’s an expert at dacking.’
Moving together, Holly and Minna held onto bin lids and side-stepped across the lawn to where John was fielding in another eternal game of French cricket. A spray of stones followed. Annoyed John hollered at the culprit, Wally, ‘Hey! Would you cut it out!’
‘Do you want revenge, John?’ Minna asked.
‘I’m playing cricket.’ John snapped.
Holly batted the tennis ball with her shield. ‘Won’t take long.’
‘Hey, I could have caught that.’ John sniffed and rubbed a pimple on the side of his nose.
‘See that over-sized baby, over there. That excuse of a boy called Wally?’ Minna pointed towards Wally as he gathered up more of the driveway in his tee-shirt. ‘Doesn’t he remind you of your worst enemy? Here’s your chance. You could dack him for us.’
‘Dack him yourself! I’m playing cricket.’ John replied while Holly batted another ball away with her shield. ‘Hey stop doing that!’
‘Only when you’ve dacked the Wally,’ Holly said. ‘I mean, look what he’s done to the drive way! And think about when you next mow Grandma’s lawn.’
John rolled his eyes. ‘Alright! But you owe me, cousin!’
Minna spotted Wally, again lurking, this time in the shadows, by the side of the house. She whispered to her big brother, ‘He’s just behind you, John.’
As Wally raised his hand to hurl stones on their unprotected bodies, John swung around and with one graceful and swift movement, drew Wally’s trousers, ants pants underpants revealed. Simultaneously in that split second, a flash lit up and interrupted the cricket match.
‘Yes! Good one!’ Minna congratulated John on his skill.
‘Thanks boys, that will make an excellent photo.’ Aunt Sophie announced, oblivious to the R-rated nature of her snap.
The seven sat around the dining table in silence. The roast steamed in the centre. Candles either side guarded the meal. Thunder rumbled over the hills and mountains. Lightning flashed.
Boris nursed his ray-gun hand and then he placed it beside his knife; a reminder in case any member of the group chose not to cooperate, Joseph assumed.
‘Oh, I’m going to enjoy this,’ Boris purred. ‘Thank you, Herr and Frau Biar, for inviting me. I do apologise for not being at the service this morning. I had a little business to take care of.’ With an evil twinkle in his eye, he glanced at Amie. ‘How was the service?’
‘Boring,’ Friedrich said in a sing-song voice.
Frau Biar and Herr Biar tightened their mouths. They frowned at Friedrich and shook their heads.
Wilma piped up. ‘Joseph and Amie are in love.’
‘I know,’ Boris looked at Herr Biar. ‘Well, aren’t you going to do the honours? Cut up the chicken. I’m sure you’re all dying for the roast.’
A black bug crawled out of the chook’s orifice. Everyone watched as it meandered across the tablecloth.
Boris drummed the table. ‘Come on! I’m hungry!’
Herr Biar sighed. He sharpened his knife and sliced off some chicken breast.
‘No! No! A proper cut! Cut the chicken open!’ Boris rose and stood over Herr Biar.
Herr Biar jabbed the knife in the centre and flayed the roast.
Cockroaches teamed from the cavity and over the plates, cutlery and vegetables.
Joseph flicked them as they sauntered over his plate. Amie shook them off her dress.
‘Come on! Cut the meat up Biar!’ Boris raised his voice. ‘We want to eat.’
Herr Biar served portions onto the plates. Boris helped. He scooped up the black stuffing and slopped a spoonful on every plate. The stuffing reeked of a rancid stench that filled the room.
‘Now, the vegetables,’ Boris said. ‘Frau serve the vegetables. We must have our vegetables.’
Frau Biar lifted with fork and knife, the roast potatoes garnished with cockroach entrails and plopped them on the plates. Then she added the steamed peas and carrots mixed with bugs.
Six stunned people studied their portions of festering food, not daring to touch it. Boris presided over the group. He grinned from ear to ear, imitating the Cheshire cat from “Alice in Wonderland”, as he poured lumpy gravy over the chicken on each plate.
‘Go on, eat up,’ he urged. ‘Oh, and by the way, Amie and Joseph, I have your families—just where I want them.’
Joseph tracked a couple of roaches tumbling in the gravy.
Christmas was encumbered with a monumental family gathering. Every family member imaginable plus a few ring-ins congregated at Grandma Thumm’s for the occasion. What was a logistical nightmare for Minna’s parents, aunts and uncles, was joy for Minna as her favourite cousin Holly visited from Switzerland. But she cringed on spotting Wally. (Grandma had felt sorry for his mum and her older teen charges Wally and Monica). That sense of pity didn’t extend to Minna as that dreaded ring-in, and one time school bully, scowled at Minna. Monica had escaped the Thumm Christmas. Home with a migraine. So, without Monica to protect her, Minna avoided Wally, and concentrated her attention on Holly.
Aunt Sophie, Holly’s mother, rounded the Thumm troops for the traditional family photo in the back garden in front of the grapevine.
The camera got Minna thinking. I wonder…She became quiet and gazed up at the cobalt cloudless sky.
‘Is something wrong?’ Holly snapped her out of sky-gazing, then chuckled. ‘Oh, I know! You’re thinking of some boy.’
‘No!’ Minna shouted. ‘Not boys!’
‘Dinner time!’ Mum called. She rang the bell.
Like lemmings the Thumm clan trooped into Grandma’s kitchen.
As the elders settled around the antique 100-year-old oak table, with a spread of roast turkey, silver and the best china on white linen, Aunt Sophie beckoned to John, Minna’s older brother, ‘You can sit with us, dear, I want to hear all about that telescope you are making.’
Minna sighed, and followed the kids to the “kindertisch” on the back verandah. ‘My luck I’ll end up next to Wally’, she muttered to Holly as they heaped their plates full of the crispiest baked potatoes in the southern hemisphere.
Minna’s words came a reality as she perched on a foldable deck chair at the “kindertisch”. The only seat available for Wally, was next the hers. When he approached the table, paper plate laden into a V-shape from piles of poultry and potato, all the other kids had closed the ranks with their chairs, ensuring no Wally-sized gap existed. Minna, who had been busy discussing the method of making crunchy potato with Holly, had failed to register the Wally-approach. Too late, Wally squeezed his frame between her and Holly. Minna cringed. She would have preferred two Grandmas with wings on either side of her than to be seated next to him.
Wally spoiled what would have been a most pleasant Christmas dinner. As he hoed into his potato salad and smacked his lips together, Minna remarked, ‘You know, you remind me of Gomer Pyle! Where’re you from? Cornball Mississippi South?’
‘Shut up buck tooth Loch Ness Monster!’ Wally replied spraying a mouthful of spud over her plate.
‘Oh! Yuk! Creep germs!’ Minna cried. With that, she tipped the tainted contents over his lap.
‘I’ll get Boris onto you. Or better still, his cockroaches. Ha-ha.’
‘Whoever Boris is. Anyway, you’re one big cockroach.’
‘You dog!’ Wally scraped up a wad of potato and flicked it in her face.
‘How dare you contaminate me!’ She knocked her cola over his trousers. ‘Oops! Looks like someone’s had an accident. Ha! Ha! Wally’s peed himself!’
All the cousins laughed.
‘You cow!’ Wally squealed. His voice cracked and squeaked as if he were a pig.
‘Come, come! What’s going on?’ Grandma poked her head out the back door.
Wally pointed at Minna. ‘The dog did it!’
‘Now, now, that’s not a nice thing to say about your cousin.’ Grandma chided. ‘Dear me, what happened to your pants, Wally?’
‘It was an accident.’ Minna chortled. ‘Wasn’t it, Holly?’
Holly nodded and giggled into her napkin. She had no time for the loathsome Wally either. ‘Yeah, Gran, he had an accident, he peed himself.’ She guffawed.
‘What? Minna threw the drink on me!’ Wally yelped. He brushed the stain with his holly decorated napkin.
‘Now, now, Wally, calm down!’ Grandma reasoned. She waddled her wide-girth body to the table and put an arm around Wally’s shoulder. ‘You must treat girls with respect. You don’t go calling them names like that. Now you say, “Sorry”.’
Wally scowled and muttered, ‘Sorry!’
Satisfied, Grandma went back to her job of hosting the adults who were by this time popping bon-bons and laughing out loud at the lame jokes discovered inside them.
Holly and Minna tittered as they observed Wally move away and seat his slimy self all alone at an extra tiny card table. The paper hat sat crookedly on his greasy scalp.
Minna giggled and said, ‘Hey, Holly, with that salad bowl hair cut and pasty complexion, he looks like the dork from Oz.’
‘Shut up!’ Wally menaced as the girls continued to snigger. He hurled the bone at them. The girls dodged the missile and it landed with a plop in dried up plant pot.
‘Oooh!’ Holly jibed. ‘Respect the ladies, didn’t you hear what Grandma said?’
‘You’re no ladies,’ Wally mumbled.
His mother poked her nose out the window. ‘Wally?’
‘Nothing,’ her son muttered, and with head down, he played with a chicken wing on his plate.
Where to start? That is the question and challenge for every author as they embark on writing that “Great (insert your country of choice) novel”.
For years my first novel,Mission of the Unwilling has languished on the virtual shelves of Amazon mostly unread, unloved. Why?
So, I asked the team at Indie Scriptorium to have a look at the story and give feedback. Elsie commented that some scenes were too confronting and caused her to have nightmares. Boris can have that effect.
Mary apologized and said that I needed to rewrite the first chapter as there wasn’t enough information to keep the reader engaged.
So, for me, the work began…and a new chapter, a new beginning evolved. Oh, and some of the more “silencey of the lambs” bits were toned down. It worried me that Boris might be giving my readers nightmares.
Anyway, it will cost you nothing to download a copy of Mission of the Unwilling (second edition). It’s free on Kindle from today (23 December) until Tuesday 27 December.
[Extract from Mission of the Unwilling (2nd Ed)
Minna: reflections from her diary
One Friday night in late autumn, I ventured up the dimly lit path of the university grounds to North Terrace and waited to cross at the lights. The air, although well into spring, October, in fact, still had a bite in it. Not that the chill deterred me from wearing a cotton plaid mini dress that I had discovered in my mother’s wardrobe. I often dipped into her 1960’s collection of fashion icons, especially when she’s away on one of her frequent business trips. I like the 1960’s. Although I’ve flirted with the buffed up and permed hair of current fashion, I’ve reverted to my natural long straight blonde locks. Günter likes my hair “natural” as he puts it.
I glanced at my watch. 6:00pm. The car traffic was at its peak, but the university student mass had begun to peter out. I smiled. That’ll be me, next year.
As it’s Friday night shopping, I anticipated the shops in Rundle Mall to be open. A chance to scout around the city’s dress and record shops before heading home and then off to a night at the movies with my friends from youth group, Monica and Liesel.
I sighed. The only problem with movies is that we can never decide what to see. As almost graduating high school students, Liesel and I would be hankering for a racy adventure or science fiction and Monica, who’s four years older than us, would be the ultimate wet blanket wanting to see only soppy love stories.
To my right, a voice with a distinct German accent, ‘Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?’
Ah! Günter, I thought. Voice doesn’t sound familiar, though. Not Günter’s warm deep voice.
I turned abruptly intending to give my standard closed response, of a sharp “No!” However, on closer inspection, this owner of the lame line appeared familiar. But who? Dressed for power. Styled in an Italian-made dark business suit, up and coming, right and ready for money-making, and to impress the ladies in town. The finely cut features of his face and neatly cut ash-blonde hair made him an ideal candidate for a fashion magazine or David Jones catalogue. I gathered the impression that this familiar man was trying to be the world’s most eligible bachelor. However, despite all the familiarity and fine appearance, something about him was not right. I was suspicious. But not so suspicious to be unfriendly to him.
‘Now isn’t it amazing that we should meet, on a day, in a place at such a time as this,’ the model man said.
‘Perhaps,’ I replied whilst staring straight ahead. The pedestrian lights turned to “walk” and we strode over North Terrace to Pulteney Street.
‘We must have coffee and catch up. Why, I haven’t seen you since, um, since um…’
Instead of saying, “No, I have to go,” like a lamb to the slaughter, I meekly followed him down below street level into a nearby wine bar. The atmosphere was neat, clean, and the lighting dim. Although near Rundle Mall, I sensed a seedy darkness, as if downtown Hindley Street.