Pokey-hanna was a merry little girl whose father had recently died. He’d been a missionary who was teaching heathens about religion but ended up mostly teaching them that parsley goes well with preacher even if white wine does not.
Now our plucky little heroine was living with her spinster aunt who had been slighted in love and not talked to her suitor in 20 years “just because!”
Pokey-hanna was destined to change the lives of those around her.
She loved to play The Game; this was a game where she tried to find the good in everything. This made her very happy and joyful and sunny and so most annoying to everyone else. No matter what there was she could always find a positive spin! She would romp through town like a demented cocker spaniel reminding everyone why they should be happy! Her rabid enthusiasm and burning fanatical eyes ensured that most people only had to meet her once to never forget her.
Even in sleep.
Where they woke up screaming…
She’d happily go about town dispensing small suppositories of wisdom.
“Why Mrs. Snow, your roses have died? Well that just means you have space to plant new flowers and bury your dog, again sorry about that!!”
“Oh Jimmy you’re starving to death? I wish I was that slim but I eat too many pastries!!”
“Why Doctor Chilton, your patient has crotch itch? Well at least it’s not virulent gonorrhea like last time, the medicine tasted terrible!”
All through the town, Pokey-hanna spread her good cheer, sniffing flowers and dodging the rocks people threw at her, this being a time before guns were easy to get hold of.
“I want to spread happiness and light like a contagious disease!” giggled Pokey-hanna joyfully as she ripped fistfuls of flowers from the ground and crushed them into her hair. “I want the whole world to dance and sing! Sing and dance, forever and ever! Never stopping not even when it bleeds! I want people to always be merry and laughing, even when being tortured! Just laughing! Laughing!! LAUGHING!!!”
And so with these dear little wishes in her little void of a heart, Pokey-hanna lived her days merrily and her nights, tied to the bed, dreaming of happy things.
One day her Aunt had an important job for her. “Pokey-hanna, will you deliver this basket of goodies to your Uncle over in Motown?”
“But Auntie-Wantie, isn’t the only way to get there through the ‘Great and Dastardly Swamp’? And didn’t you say I wasn’t allowed to go in there because I could get killed or maimed in horrifying ways?”
“That was before I knew you Pokey-hanna” replied her aunt, “Now I feel it would be a great time for you to go explore the area! Here, I have drawn you a map.”
“But Auntie-Dauntie, this map looks more like a ketchup stain on a napkin?” said Pokey-hanna, who got it right every 9 out of 10 tries.
“It will serve” said her aunt serenely, “Please take this to your uncle as fast as possible”
“Auntie-Yauntie, there’s nothing but a large, brown stone in this basket!”
“That’s because, um, Pokey-hanna… er… you’d not understand as you are a child, be glad though that you have a fun task to do!”
“Yay!” yelled Pokey-hanna, easily tricked, “I can’t wait to go! Will you have tea for me when I return?”
“If you return, then yes I will”, said her Aunt.
“Yay! I want crumpets!” yelled Pokey-hanna, “Crumpets! Crumpets! Crumpets and blood! Crumpets and blood! La la la!” and off she went on her merry way, as her aunt waved her goodbye and then locked up the house with the new triple strength bolt the town had gladly donated her.
Pokey-hanna skipped off through the woods, sniffing flowers and leaping on deer, biting and petting them. She chased squirrels that merrily ran for their terrified little lives and flapped her arms about her head, crushing butterflies and endangered wild life with abandonment.
It was such a lovely day today! But every day was a lovely day to Pokey-hanna.
She eventually passed through the woods, much to the woodland creatures delight, and headed off in the direction of the swamp.
The swamp itself was dark and foreboding, in shades of puke-iest greens and slimiest grays. It was a depressing sight and the smell was that of a thousand lost souls and miserable dead things, putrefying.
No one sane set foot in a place like this.
Pokey-hanna plunged into it happily!
“Oh look! If that’s not just the grayest gray I ever did see! Even more so then two weeks after Mr. Kitty was hit by that car and went to heaven! I’m so glad!”
“And look at the cute little leech that is stuck on my leg! He’s draining my blood! But I guess everyone’s gotta eat! I’m so glad he chose me and not someone else!” said the demented girl, the only living thing in the vicinity that wasn’t a leech.
“Oh look there’s another leech and another one! They do seem to love me! I’m glad! I have…a…..way”, Pokey-hanna stumbled a bit, her head reeling from blood loss, “a….way…..with……….AniMAlz….”
She decided it was time to remove her cute new friends and set them on their way. With a vice grip like steel she pulled the creatures off and hurled them into the treetops. Her legs were left a mass of bleeding wounds that “look like a poppy field! How glad I am now that I was so savagely bitten!” giggled Pokey-hanna to no one in particular.
“Oh look!” laughed Pokey-hanna, after a while, maddened by pain,“It’s a cute puppy! How glad I am to find you!” said the girl, extending her hand to the massive wolf, “will you lead me through the swamp like lassie? I’m so glad that …AAAAAAARGH!!!”
This last declaration after the wolf had sunk it’s fangs into her hand with a resounding chomp!
Mind even the wolf could smell this girl was somewhat off, but he was hungry and it was crazy girl or parsnips again.
“Puppy! Puppy!!” screamed Pokey-hanna, “I’m so glad you want to be friends but you don’t have to hold my hand like that!!! See the blood? You’re doing it wrong! Auntie-Rauntie told me so after I did that thing with the rabbit and its eyeballs!!!”
Pokey-hanna reached out her other hand and patted the wolf on the head.
Or at least she tried too, but all the blood loss made her head swim and mostly she just spun about slowly with an increasingly uneasy looking wolf attached to her arm.
“I really must take my Uncle-Puncle his …. stone….he ….needs it… I am…vital to his….gladness…it makes …. me …so….GLAD!!!!!!!!!”
Pokey-hanna was woefully disorientated from all the spinning!
“My head feels like the time mummy and I were playing hide and seek and she hid me in the oven and forgot the gas was on.
For 3 hours.
And then went out.
And never to come back again.
Hee. Hee. Hee. Hee.”
It was about this time that the wolf decided he really wasn’t that hungry and decided to leave the demented little girl be. With a retching cough, to get the taste of her out of his mouth, the wolf turned and bounded off unsteadily, vowing a life of vegetarianism from that day forth!
Pokey-hanna looked up with dazed, blood shot eyes.
“I appear to be lost in the heart of the swamp! I get to play ‘Explorer, Explorer!’ I’m so glad!”
She got wobbly to her feet. She tried to pick up the basket but she was just too weak, so instead she pulled the large stone out and clutched it to her chest. “Off to ma onclesh I goooo!” she slurred, picking a random direction and heading forward.
Or sideways, it all felt the same about now.
“Dish place is sho spooky!” observed the hemorrhaging waif, “I can’ wait to shee if I shee a unicorn and a microbial…”
she stopped suddenly.
She had come to a fork in the road.
She stepped over the fork and came to a split in the path she was following.
To her left was more swamp, all dark and foreboding, promising cruelties unimaginable and slow death, and to her right was a small green pathway that appeared to lead to a little house with “Uncle’s Place” written on a cheery little sign besides it. Lovely flowers lined the path way and the house was so pretty and perfect it could have been used on a chocolate tin lid!
Without hesitation Pokey-hanna leapt to the left! “Gotta keep hon truckin’” she mumbled to herself.
“Keep on keeping on!” She mumbled as she waded deeper into the boggy swamp, the stone seeming to weigh a ton but still, to her, a most precious burden.
She was beginning to feel a little better, the rancid ooze and various death things having blocked up most of the bleeding.
“I’m so glad this ground is so soft and squishy! This mud is so cool n soothing! It’s up to my ankles! No my calves ! No my knees!”
Pokey-hanna stopped walking.
Mostly because the quicksand and mud made sure of that.
She struggled a bit but was firmly stuck!
“I fink I’m in trouble…” she finked a bit more about her situation, “I’m finking, I’m sinking!”
Slowly, slowly the mud reached up to Pokey-hanna's lop-sided waist.
“I’m going to die here!” she laughed, not looking too worried about it, “But I have got to get this stone to Uncle-Luncle!”
“ I know!” she hefted the stone up over her head, “Run free!” she yelled and hurled the stone towards the right hand path,“Quick!” she yelled, “save yourself!”
The stone didn’t look inclined to do that and Pokey-hanna was touched by its loyalty. But by then she was mostly touched by the quick sand which was now up to Pokey-hanna’s neck!
“What a way to die” she said, smiling a gap toothed smile as the mud rose higher, “Still, I get to die in a swamp! Like a hero!” the girl was a bit more out of it then she realized, “And I will stay in the swamp! My rotting body will become a fossil fuel like petroleum! Auntie-Bauntie always says petrol prices are ruinous! I can make a real difference! I’m so glad I….gurgle glug glug glu…”
There was hardly a ripple as Pokey-hanna went under. Then a vague plopping sound and all was still.
A little while later there was a similar sound as the stone she’d been carrying went under as well.