Tuesday, December 20, 2011



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.

It was.

Or else!

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 backwards.

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.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A great and noble quest

So anyway, there was once this kingdom of long ago, more of a village with pomp really. It was made up of all green valleys and fertile fields, fat cows and plump sheep. The crops, animals and people thrived and everyone got on with everyone else.

Which of course meant it was a disaster waiting to happen.

And happen it did.

One morning the good folk woke to see a terrible site! (Or rather another terrible sight after the familiar fright they get on seeing their wives without make up on and curlers in).

All the land had gone all swampy and foul! The fields where wet and soggy and full of sludge, the animals got caught in sinking sand and sank with hardly a moo of protest. (Especially from the animals that weren’t cows), and all the land was shrouded in a dank, funky smelling mists reminiscent of rotten eggs and old man.

The people were alarmed. This was not on! They’d just printed the brochures to the area and everything! This was a PR and networking disaster! Oh and all their families would starve to death and such etc etc.

They cried out for a hero!

Or at least someone who’d do something about all this that wasn’t they themselves!

And a hero stepped up to the plate!

His name was Sir Percy and he was a knight of the 9th order. (The orders 1 – 12 having each a different duties from guarding the king to helping lemmings cross the street. The 9th mostly guarded shipments of cheese).

Sir Percy was handsome and noble and built like a dream.

Which mean that, like most gorgeous people, he’d never developed much of either a personality or a brain. This was considered a plus for someone often in the public eye, as cheese guards always do seem to end up as.

Sir Percy, being brave and full of honour and rather in debt, was only too glad to go on a quest to get out of town for a while. Besides, even the life of a cheese guard loses it’s glamour after a while and you start getting the urge to go slay a dragon or rescuing princess (or the occasional prince, if you were that way inclined).

Sir Percy knew that now was the time for him to shine!

The king called him forth to his chamber, where he talked to the earnest knight with but one faithful advisor present, who was mostly deaf and really just there for show and tradition. (A bit like the king himself).

“Good Sir Percy, I fear this hath been the work of yon accursed Serpent woman who doth live in the Bog down by yonder woods”

“um, why are you talking like that Sire?”

“Oh sorry mate” said the king, coughing, “You get used to it, you know, for all the ceremonies, commoners and press and such. Anyhoo I was saying, we believe it’s the Serpent woman who has cursed our lands and caused our cows udders and nubile young teens to dry up and become barren!”

“Sire, how do you know this?” asked Sir Percy

“She left a note” said the king, holding up a rather moist piece of paper that looked suspiciously like toilet paper, which read, “Do you like what I have done to your lands? Lol. The serpent woman”, with her address, fax and phone number below it.

“Very well” bellowed Sir Percy, to the annoyance of the king and adviser who were STANDING RIGHT THERE! “I will go forth and confront this most evil creature and restore our village’s former glory!!”

The crowd cheered!

Or would have if there’d been anyone else in the room with them.

“Go forth good Knight and come back covered in glory!!!” bellowed the king, giving Sir Percy a taste of his own medicine.

The king waited a bit.

“Um, you can go now good knight”

“Well see” began Percy, “My horse lost a shoe and so she’s in the shop and I was wondering if I could borrow your stallion? You know, the black one with silver trimmings?”

“Now son… er Sir Percy, is that really necessary? Your horse is a fine one indeed!”

“Aw, but Daaaaaad! It’s a girl horse and I want a boy horse so that I look really tough and cool on him!”

“Sire if I may” began the king’s aid, who’d been standing off to the side, wondering if he could pick his nose without anyone seeing, “After that PR disaster with you and the young stablehand, er, perhaps it would be better to give the people something new to pay attention to?”

So that very next morning, the handsome Sir Percy rode out on the beautiful black stallion, Blackheart (Blackie to his friends), all decked out in silver trimmings and shining armour that was only just a tad bit too tight but showed off his chest nicely.

The serpent woman lived on the outskirts of the Beckoning Woods, a full days ride from the kingdom. (This ride was basically through fields and flowers, the beckoning woods sounded impressive but were really more a stand of 30 or so trees with an interesting name they couldn’t live up to).

The ride was long and hard. Or at least so it felt to Sir Percy who’s pampered self was not used to doing such long hard riding. Cheese caravans moved very slowly.

But he was a determined fellow and spent the journey concentrating on the task at hand. (If the task at hand had been finding ways in which he felt people should honor him and deciding that, “Sir Percy with no mercy” should be in at least one of the songs people would write about him).

He got to the edge of the Beckoning woods and decided to set up camp. Put up the tent, chop firewood, cook a meal… Sir Percy was glad that he’d come with his 20 odd staff members to see to all this.

As night fell on the knight, he retired to his luxurious 10 man tent, that only he slept in, crawled into his silken sleeping bag and, as he put his sleeping mask on, smirked to himself. This questing stuff was easy! And so he drifted off, his pricy bee’s wax ear plugs allowing him to sleep throughout the night and not be awakened by the blood curdling screams that came from his entourage.

Early the next morning, around 11am which was pretty, early for Sir Percy, the brave knight emerged from his tent, feeling a bit stiff and wondering why no one had woken him for brunch, only to find the camping ground completely empty!

Now this was quiet shocking to the knight who had problems putting on a smile without a back up team at the ready! Where had they all gone?!

But gone they had! His chef; his bard; his slaves; masseuse and personal clown. Gone like they were never there!

Sir Percy was confused.

Which alright was his natural inclination, thinking not being his strong suit, but this time he was aware of it and it was not a comfortable feeling!

After calling out for his people, looking under rocks and throwing a massive temper tantrum (that mussed his golden locks terribly, oh if only someone would come brush his hair!), he finally decided that he might as well go on with the quest because that was he had been doing and no one had told him not to. Sir Percy was the sort of man that a General would kill for. Or would kill for his General…

Luckily, while Blackheart was missing, he was able to find one of the serving boy’s donkeys that had wondered off in the night and so missed all the excitement. After a few hours coaxing the beast, a few nasty bites that made him glad he was only wearing his second best tunic, and a lot of balancing and string, Sir Percy had the beast saddled up and ready to ride.

Leaving the camping ground (and all the armour he found too hard to put on, it seemed so easy when other people did it), he went off in the direction of the Serpent woman’s home.

After a blistering ride (at least on Sir Percy’s delicate hands, his riding gloves having gotten the better of him), our hero eventually came across the edge of the bog wherein the Serpent woman lived. He was glad to see that her Serpent hole was right on the edge of the bog, which meant his kidskin boots wouldn’t get wet. Wet feet are just icky.

He lept off the donkey (fell off face first actually but that doesn’t sound so good), and marched up to the Serpent woman’s serpent hole. He rang the doorbell and amused himself with looking at the ornaments she had strewn about her lawn. Bones of all kinds and the skulls of hapless men who had met their fate here… how utterly emo and tacky, he thought.

The thick door of the snake hole slowly opened, the sign on it, ‘If you lived here you’d be home by now!’, clattered noisily and then there before him stood the serpent woman!

A naga woman, she had the top half of a woman and the bottom half of a huge, silvery serpent. She was at least 4 times the length of Sir Percy, her scales shone in the sunlight and her muscles flexed rhythmically. She would have been a magnificent sight if her human half didn’t have its hair in curlers and an old fluffy pink bathrobe on. Sir Percy’s smirk popped out before his brain cell told him that, that wasn’t a good idea.

Seeing the smirk the Serpent woman drew herself up and hissed angrily, “Hey I wasn’t expecting visitors and it’s hard to control all this mammal hair!”

“I’m sure you can’t help it, you know, being the creature you are” Sir Percy said in a voice he thought was reassuring but was more ‘hammer-the-nails-in-your-coffin-ish’.

The serpent woman glared at him, the rattle at the end of her tail shaking in an alarming manner.

“Um” said Percy brilliantly. “any way, I was… I was.. I say, could you stop with the rattle it does make me forget what I was saying!”

The rattling stopped.

“Yes thank you so anyway, I was wondering if it was you who cursed our village and if you could undo your curse post haste” said Percy, trying not to look proud at having used a big phrase.

“And which village is that?” asked the giant serpentine creature, pulling out her day book diary.

“We’re.. ah yes, that’s us, that one over there” said Sir Percy, helpfully pointing it out in her book, “The one between the ‘blighted beyond repair’ and ‘boils and embarrassing pustules’ one – see?”

The serpent woman slammed her book and now wore a smirk of her own as she hissed, “Yes I remember that one. You drove me out of town when your king outlawed sock puppeteers! That was my lively hood! Now all I can do is summon powerful mystic forces and sell beanies online!”

“Well I’m sure that’s bad and all but does the whole town have to suffer for it?” asked Sir Percy.

“Yes” said the Serpent woman.

“Oh. ok” said Sir Percy cleverly, “Well then I’m afraid I will have to kill you. No hard feelings, it’s a job”

With that Sir Percy withdrew his shining sword and flashed it at the serpent creature’s throat.

Now Sir Percy was not one of nature’s mental wonders, but he was adept with his sword, almost a genius in fact. He could wield anything as a deadly weapon as many a high-way man, stabbed to death with a dull branch, teaspoon or over cooked sausage, could attest to.

(Or could if, you know, they weren’t dead…)

Now the serpent woman was nothing if not sharp. You don’t make a lively hood with puppets without learning a bit about humanity.

“Now now Sir knight” she said in her most charming voice, sounding like a scratched record, “Where would the fun be in that endeavor?”

Sir Percy hesitated. Big words made him nervous.

“What do you mean?”

“Well a knight can slay all sorts of beasts and who remembers it? Sure there are stories but there can only be stories if something interesting happens to write a story about! Or a catchy song! Slaying a serpent woman is hardly worth even a witty ditty!”

“Hmmn”, hmmned Sir Percy, “You have a point there.”

“And you have a point there” Said the Serpent woman, looking pointedly at the pointy sword.

”What do you suggest then?” asked Sir Percy, lowering the sword slightly.

“Well” said the serpent woman, trying to play with a curl of hair and instead poking a curler painfully into her eye. “I know that cursing your village was a tad bit of overkill, but losing my job wasn’t nice either, so I propose you go on a quest for me. Should you complete it, I will remove the curse and come back with you to the village in shame and humility and go a few rounds with your enthusiastic royal dungeon keeper.”

Sir Percy looked interested, but suddenly saw her trap!

“Wait!! What about publishing rights to the story?!” he demanded!

“All yours if you complete the quest perfectly!” purred the serpent woman.

Well that settled that! The sword was sheathed and the knight’s attention captured.

“What will you have me do witch?” demanded Sir Percy, standing up straight, flicking his golden lock back and defiantly removing a bug from between his teeth.

“You see that island out there in the middle of the Giant Lake Fetid?” asked the Serpent woman, pointing one slender, surprisingly well manicured finger in a northerly direction.

“yeeeeeeeeeeeees…” mumbled Sir Percy, who couldn’t really see it due to his being near sighted but refusing to wear glasses to ruin his image.

“On that island, right at the centre, is an apple tree that has the sweetest apple known to man or serpent. Your quest is to swim out there and get me a whole bushel of those lovely toothsome apples”.

“Why don’t you just swim out and get some?” asked Percy suspiciously.

“I’m a half snake, half woman creature you moron! Swimming is not an option! Even my existing is a dodgy deal better not thought about too hard!” hissed the serpent woman with an annoyed, ‘you-had-to-remind-me-of-that’ look on her face.

“Seems simple enough” said the knight.

Then, suddenly swirling around and placing his sword by the creatures suddenly rapidly beating throat pulse point, Sir Percy asked, “So what’s the catch creature? For that is no worthy tale for a bard to tell!”

“You are clever Sir Knight”, said the Serpent woman, sending a silent apology to the powers that be for that immensely blatant lie.

“I am!” said Sir Percy, feeling chuffed at having tricked her so easily. “So tell me woman…like creature, what shall try kill me on this quest?”

“Heehee, well Sir knight, first you have to get to the island, and the lake is populated by man eating fish and fish eating monsters who don’t mind a change in diet! Then, once you are past those, the island is guarded by a giant boar called Hog Wartz who will attempt to disembowel you with his giant mighty tusks!”

“Eeeek!” squealed Sir Percy, his heart all a flutter, “THE Hog Wartz?! It’s THAT guarded island and THAT apple tree! Oooh, I’m so excited!” The serpent woman waited while Sir Percy did a small jig of delight.

“Yes it’s that island and it’s one that no one comes back from” she intoned ominously.

“Well if no one comes back from it, how do we know about Hog Wartz and the apples” asked Sir Percy, a brain cell igniting accidentally.

“um… well I’m sure I don’t know!” said the Serpent woman briskly, “But will you accept this quest or is it too much for a pitiful human such as yourself?”

“Oh I accept! And I accept gladly! I am the best swordsman in all the land! That pig is as good as pork!” this was followed by a bit of swishing about of the sword to prove the point he’d already made ages ago.

“Then go forth brave Knight! Bring me my apples and I will lift the spell upon your town! Go! Go swiftly and live on eternally as a legend amongst men!” cried the serpent woman, getting caught in the excitement in spite of herself!

Sir Percy leapt at his donkey.

Missed and leaped again.

And missed again, but third time lucky, and he dug his heels in and speed off at the slow walk that was the only speed the donkey went at.

The serpent woman watched him leave with a satisfied smile, then, chuckling softly, she went back into her hole, to finish off the last remains of Sir Percy’s once faithful clow. (Though she always found they tasted a bit funny…)

Sir Percy rode to the edge of the Lake. Taking off all excess armour (not a lot as he never got half of it on in the first place), he strapped the sword more securely about his rippling waist and dove into the rippling water, swimming with strong even strokes!

First came the piranha, eager for a taste of his manly flesh! But Sir Percy, athlete extraordinaire was having none of it! With mighty, watery punches and kicks he soon had the whole school knocked unconscious and being snacked on by half the creatures that might have wanted to snack on him!

Then came the horrible hydra with 10 heads and 100 000 tentacles (or at least ten but they waved around a lot so close enough!) Sir Percy wrestled it down to the murky depths below, hardly breaking a sweat. (The water was also very cold so that helped).

Lastly a giant barracuda came at him!

But with a mighty punch, Sir Percy made sure the only thing it got to eat was its own face! Sir Percy was in his element! (He was born a Pisces so technically that was pretty accurate.)

Finally he pulled his weary, fish and monster nibbled carcass from the water and lay upon a beach of the most beautiful smooth pebbles he’d ever seen, in colours he’d never dreamed existed! How lovely was this island! With tall palm trees, soft sand and an abandoned fast food joint rotting away sweetly in the distance. Nature at it’s finest!

But where was Hog Wartz? He could be anywh…

Percy didn’t finish that thought when the sound of hooves churning up pebbles greeted his eager, ear-ringed ears.

The sound grew louder and louder and then suddenly, appearing around the curve of the island, the most massive, gigantic, enormous and not to mention really really big, Black boar was suddenly bearing down on him!

Sir Percy dodged hard left as the beast shot past him, narrowly missing being gored open like a ripe fruit by the most massive ivory tusks he’d ever seen!

The boar swung around, fast and furious and utterly graceful for a creature so large.

It charged him again!

Sir Percy dodged again but knew he couldn’t keep that up forever!

Again the enraged creature came for him.

But this time it’s little piggy brain had done the math and it shouldered him violently as it went past!

Sir Percy went flying, but managed to tuck and roll, which is very impressive when you are wearing a long sword strapped perilously close to your privates.

Sir Percy leapt to his feet, his sword in his hand through some sort of acrobatics we suspect couldn’t happen in the real world. Bring on the boar!!

Now the boar knew swords, he’d bitten through enough of them in his time, but the confidence that Sir Percy had put him on guard. This one knew how to use that sharp toothpick.

No matter, he would die, just like all the rest.

The boar charged him again, feigning left but at the last moment darting right and slamming into Sir Percy. Or he would have if Sir Percy had been there!

“Oh you are good my friend” laughed Percy, “But I am better!”

“sqweeak weeak chitter chitter” was all the pig heard. Why do people always assume animals understand English?

“I will best you beast!!” yelled Sir Percy, unaware of the lingual differences!

Gasping and panting, Sir Percy ran at the boar.

Surprised, as most prey tended to move in the opposite direction, the boar was momentarily thrown off guard. Just enough for Sir Percy to inflict a wicked flesh wound to its shoulder!!

The beast roared in fury! This one was not playing fair!

With a furious grunt, Hog Wartz charged once more, swerving at the last moment to slam into Percy and get him off balance. Then with a swing of his mighty head he thundered his tusks home, right into Percy’s left side! Score one for Team Oink!

The Knight fell, stunned, to his knees. The left side of his tunic covered in rich, berry-coloured blood that gushed out like a merry little fountain. He bend forward clutching his side in agony.

The boar squealed triumph, death in its sights and ran at him once more, head down and tusks forward!

Right into Sir Percy’s sword!

For at the last moment Sir Percy had raised his mighty blade in one last ditched effort to slay the beast! The hog never had a chance! With a meaty, cracking sound the blade, pushed by the pig’s own momentum, went smashing through its skull, straight between its eyes!

Hog Wartz gave a mighty bellow then came crashing down, bashing into Sir Percy as he fell! The knight’s head smacked into the ground with a nasty, organic sound similar to the one the pig’s had made! Sand and pebbles flew everywhere!

And then suddenly, everything went quiet.

It was late evening when Sir Percy stirred. Covered in blood, both his own and that of the once-Hog Wartz, he staggered painfully to the nearest tree and used it to support himself. His head ached and felt he’d forgotten something important or his name wasn’t…

Oh dear.

What was his name again? And why was he here next to a giant, dead pig? And where is here?

Sir Percy felt a mild panic come over him. He might have panicked more but he’d forgotten whether or not he was a calm person and then decided it seemed better then the panicky option, which seemed an awful waste of energy.

Sir Percy started walking. Maybe there were people nearby, his family or friends or some such? Surely he wasn’t the only person on the island? It was an island right?

Deeper and deeper he went into the island, all the time wondering who he was and what he was doing there and praying he wasn’t an insurance sales man.

Finally he came to a clearing at the center of the island, and there, right in the middle with almost mathematical precision, was a large gnarled apple tree, full of the reddest, sweetest looking apples he had ever seen!

Slowly he edged closer, the pain in his side twanging whenever he touched it, which was often as he was one of those people who always have to touch a sore spot.

If nothing else at least he wouldn’t starve to death!

He stood beneath the fruit breathing in the heavenly scent of deliciously, perfectly ripe fruit.

He reached above his head an picked a ruby fruit the size of his hand.

And as he did he suddenly remembered everything! He was the Great Sir Percy (The ‘Great’ part being a recent addition he expected to catch on fast), here to save his village from the Serpent woman by bringing her a bunch of these sweet apples! And he’d made it! He’d killed the legendary Hog Wartz! If he wasn’t ‘The Man’ then who was?! HAZZAH!!

With great triumph he took an almighty bite of the sweet fruit! His mouth filled with tangy juice.

And his mind went blank.


For this was what the serpent woman had hoped for all along! That if he survived the trying, tiring swim to the island and lived through the awesome fight with the giant boar, he would thenbite into one of the trees fine crimson apples to replenish himself.

Unaware that these were The Crimson Apples of Forgetfulness – as they were known to a select few. (Sir Percy being one of them but he was always forgetting the minor details.)

Sir Percy’s memories once more bled from his skull and this time there was no chance of them coming back.

The lost knight continued to eat apples for a bit, he was hungry after all. And then walked around a for a short stint.

He smiled a bit.

He was full and the night was warm.

He snuggled into the rootwork of the old apple tree and, closing his eyes, drifted off into a happy dreamless sleep. Life was good.



So does it just end like that? Does the Serpent woman triumph? Does the village stay ruined and have to become a tourist destination for the curious and morbid? What happens to our brave if egotistical knight who is, in his own way, no more? Can you leave a story hanging like that?

Yes you can.

But luckily not this story! In our epilogue we find out that:-

The Village- continued to languor and wither. Even after a ritual killing of the king, (whom everyone decided to blame as getting him was a lot easier then taking on the Serpent woman) and many prayers and guilty feelings afterwards, nothing improved. Many of the inhabitants moved on and scattered to the winds. Those who were left decided to open up a bunch of factories that belched the blackest smoke, figuring that with most everything dead or drowned already, what was a bit of pollution added to the mix? Many swamp gases were harvested to be used as bio fuel and in the making of cheese chips. The town actually prospered and the sickly, air starved inhabitants made quiet a bundle! (Them being the sort that sees having money as a step up to having health, which you couldn’t use to buy nifty stuff.)

The Serpent Woman – continued to eat the odd traveler or errand knight that came her way and who wasn’t as adept with a sword as Sir Percy. She felt very proud of herself for duping him. Considering Sir Percy’s intelligence it really wasnt that much to be proud of. She could have lived her life out in wicked joy there in her snake hole, selling her online headgear, but with the new factories being built and the village always expanding, she was rudely awakened by a bulldozer that not only tore through her home but through her lower intestines as well while digging out a new foundry foundation!

And so the serpent woman became yet another hapless victim of progress. We’ve all lost family and friends that way…

Sir Percy – He continued to wonder about the island in a dazzed and confused state for rather a long time, living off the land and giggling to himself, until a storm washed him off the island and onto the farthest shore of the lake, where he was found by a bunch of native people who were hunting for food but decided he was pretty enough to keep and not eat.

He was taken back to the village where he was seen as a bit of an oddity by the people there. But with his genuineness (mind-wiped he couldn’t much lie about anything) and his willingness to help others (The fear that he could once have been an insurance salesman still lodged deep in the reptile part of his brain, where such things are always found, ensuring that he was willing to do anything physical!), people soon started to like having him around and they eventually took him off the leash and set him free about the village.

He was a friendly sort and quickly fell in love with the village dairy maid. They married and had many plump, healthy kids of varying intelligence and good looks.

In the evenings, Sir Percy, now known as Raving Ned, would regale the village children with wondrous tales of dragons, and damsels and serpent women! What a lively imagination he had! The kids adored him for it!

Ex-Sir-Percy-now-Raving-Ned lived until a ripe old age. He had his ups and downs, as we all do in life, but overall he was a simple man with simple pleasures, well liked by those who knew him.

When he died, he died with many friends and family about his bed and a feeling that somehow, in his own strange way, he’d managed to fulfill some great and noble quest.