Book of Watts and the Dwat
Copyright Carolyn Horn 1993
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 3.

That Sunday evening news item did not do justice to the events of the previous night. It had been a busy time for Bryarus and his friends.
        Whilst Bes and Drivula had been introducing themselves to the burning ambience of whisky, some of the Dwatters had been nosing about in the upper rooms of the museum.

Drott tinkled nervously to himself: "Edge of the world, yet. I shouldn't have come. What is this place? Here we are, behaving like Nobles; we'll get done for it. I know we shall. I'm sure we ought to un-decorate ourselves, at least. I wish I hadn't left the Clan; maybe old Matron isn't so bad..."
        "Oh, stop whinging, you silly little Dwabat." Dwurt gonged at him. "Matron was going to dwivvle you soon and you know it; she'd have drained your light and thrown you away without a dwinkle. What kind of life is that? And here we are. Free - what d'you think could harm us in this uninhabited dwog-hole?"
        Drott shivered. "It's all so... Well, the sun's gone weird. And where are the gods? Maybe we've destroyed the universe by going past the edge of the world."
        "Nonsense." Dwurt was impatient. He flicked his tail.
        Dwish came up beside the quivering Drott and rubbed comfortingly against him. "Don't worry so; Dwurt's right, in a way. Nothing we've seen so far can harm us. And just think," his voice became soft with longing, "we may find the extra dimension that the philosophers talk of!"
        Dwurt laughed. "Don't be silly. Three dimensions indeed! No sane Dwatter would believe in that rubbish."
        "Oh well. Please yourself." Dwish shrugged. "I'm for a bit more exploring, anyway. Coming?" He swished away.
        Drott had closed his sensors briefly in a shudder; when he opened them, he was alone. He slid forward and found himself in a disturbing world of smells and liquid. He suffered a horrible feeling of "strong-pull" at his middle; he wasn't to know that this was the fluid in the staff toilet-bowl. He simply sat in it, pulsing with an enquiring phosphorescence. He swirled around the bowl. Terror hit him. "Hey, guys! where the dwatbeg are you all?" he called out in his tinkling voice. It globbled through the water.

Jim Fester, the night watchman, chose this moment to stumble woozily through the door. He was determined to relieve himself. He fumbled his zip open and staggered forward; his trousers descended, but he ignored them. He paused briefly. Hang on, he thought, was that a voice? Surely someone was talking in a strange, bubbling accent? Nah. It couldn't be. No-one else had ever suspected the museum's plumbing of speaking to them, so why should he? He shuffled forward and took aim at the toilet bowl. It was at this point that he received enlightenment.
        His scream was a masterpiece of lung-power. The man completely lost any desire to stay where he was. He turned to run and tripped neatly over his trousers. The speed with which he stumbled to his feet, dragged his pants up and pelted for his sanctum, would have done justice to a well-trained athlete.
        Jim sat panting there and thought furiously. He would forswear the bottle from this moment. After all, had a Voice not spoken to him? Who would have thought of making a leaking toilet the instrument of holy message? What did it mean?
        He cast a longing look at the whisky-bottle, picked it up and threw it into the corner. It bounced. He gathered it to him and put it tenderly back on the table, with a hand that shook. He stroked its neck. Maybe the Voice hadn't intended... "No," he muttered, "I must be strong." He stood up, squared his shoulders, thrust out his chin and nearly lost his balance. He reverted to a more natural slouch. He cast a quick glance toward the door. "I'd better go and do the rounds I suppose," he mumbled. Then he brightened. "Waste of time, really. Who'd want to steal from this place?" He moved back toward his chair and then wondered whether the Voice would come back if he didn't do his job properly. He twitched slightly, looked around with shrinking eyes and sighed. I'd better do it, he thought, and sidled out of the door.

Drott was totally oblivious of his deep significance to Jim - or even of Jim's existence, other than as another mysterious obscurity. He oozed free of the toilet at last and jingled loudly as he searched for the others.
        Most of those still in the museum had gathered in the dimly-lit area of the Egyptian room. Pulsing violently, Drott found them. He had almost managed to calm down; and then he slid onto the far wall. It contained an array of fine paintings of the gods. He gasped. "Oh sorry, Lords," he gabbled. "I didn't mean... Have mercy..." He jerked to a halt. They were stiff. Lifeless. No, he thought. It couldn't be! No! The gods...
        "Dead! Dead! The gods are dead!" His voice rang, shrill and quavering, through the room.
        The others surged about, whistling and clattering to each other:
        "What?"
        "Who's that? Drott? What's he mean?"
        "-gods? Dead? How-"
        "-Where?"
        They came to the wall upon which Drott was lamenting in a monotonous drone. The full horror of it struck them. The gods were dead. The world would end. A deep ululation started, gathering volume as others joined in. It swelled through the room and hit the door just as Jim opened it.
        He took one horrified look at the wall of greenly defined, moving "posters" at the end of the room and slammed the door shut again. The terrible sound could still be heard through the door. He didn't hang around to listen. He was busily legging it away as fast as sixty-year-old, alcoholic pins could make it - if not faster. He had never been so sober in his life.
        It was at this point that he phoned Bryarus and spoke with more than usual incoherence.

Bryarus drummed his fingers on the desk. He spoke soothingly into the telephone: "Okay, okay. Quietly does it, Jim. Now what is it? Green blobs all over the Egyptian room? Ah. Luminous green blobs. I see. Making what kind of noise? Look, Jim, I want you to sit down and have a cup of coffee. What? Yes, I'll come right over. Just don't open that door again, all right? Yes, yes. I'm coming. But it takes a while, you know? Please have that coffee. Yes. 'Bye."
        He put the handset back with infinite care and turned to his companions. "I think the night watchman's got the d.t's at last," he said.
        They looked at him with an enquiring lift to their brows. "He's seeing things," Bryarus explained, "and I've got to do something about it. But then I'm seeing things, too. Is there anything left in that bottle?"
        Bes shook it, squinted into it, turned it upside-down and gave a sad shake to his head.
         "Come on then," his host said, "we'll just have to get some more. I'm not going to face whatever's happened sober. As it is we'll have to face Cicely." He was about to turn away when he caught sight of his companions. The one who wore a wisp of material (how did she keep it up?) across her breasts and another, similar scrap moulded to her hips, did at least have a voluminous cloak to cover her modesty and thigh-length black boots to hide her legs. The other one, however, would never get away in public without being arrested for indecency. Nobody could walk through Postleton West with immunity, clad only in a bit of leopard with a tail hanging from it. Bryarus sighed. "But first," he said, "we'd better do something about you."
        Bes disappeared with him into his adjoining bedroom and busy things happened, to the accompaniment of muffled grunts and groans. At last the two of them reappeared. The god now wore a shirt which strained across his chest and hung from the ends of his arms; also trousers which had a festively open effect. The gap was tied together with string and a neckerchief was tastefully draped over it. Seams bulged and creaked. The rolled-up trouser bottoms showed an alarming tendency to try and trip their wearer.
        He looked anxiously at Drivula, who gave one glance in his direction and burst into stomach-clutching mirth. She quivered with laughter. Bryarus had serious fears for her scraps of material. He averted his gaze from her bouncing flesh and said: "Please, Drivula. Hold that cloak around you, for heaven's sake! Next stop, the bar. Follow me."
        They thundered down the stairs, Bes stopping only long enough to grab the phial of brown sludge. Bryarus led them into the lounge.
        Cicely sat tidily on the sofa beside her fiancÚ - a thin, sleek-haired, upright young accountant with an absent chin and prominent lips. She glanced up and froze them with a look. "What is the meaning of this?" Ice crackled from her voice.
        "We've just come down to grab a drink or five to take for a walk, sister dear," Bryarus said. "Hi, Arkwright. Oh, I don't think you've met our guests..."
        "Guests? Two?" Cicely looked at them with revulsion. "You only mentioned one - that one, I presume." She looked Drivula up and down and sniffed.
        Arkwright's eyes were glued to the shapely vampire, where a glimpse of thigh gleamed whitely through a gap in the cloak "Uh - uhuh, ah," he said brightly.
        "Yes Cicely," Bryarus' tone was deceptively gentle, "Bes dropped by unexpectedly as well as Drivula, here. Isn't that nice? You will, of course, be polite to my friends."
        Cicely flushed. Bes stepped forward and she glared at him. He looked deep into her eyes and said: "What a charming lady. I can see that you take great care over your toilette; the shadow is exquisitely chosen to bring out the depth of those glorious orbs..."
        Bryarus watched, open-mouthed, as his sister began to colour prettily and preen herself under the flow of words. He looked at Bes with new respect.
        Drivula looked at Arkwright, her eyes smoky-gold, and wriggled slightly. The cloak moved a fraction; her cleavage peeped out. Arkwright's eyes slid up to it and his Adam's apple bobbed. "Ah, uhuh, uh..." he continued his intelligent monologue.
        Bryarus glanced at this by-play and leaped into action. He made a dash for the drinks cupboard. He grabbed a bottle, nodded a cheerful farewell to his sister and tried to usher his "guests" out of the room. He caught hold of Drivula's arm and her cape fell open. Her eyes held his; pools of reproachful gold. The others' eyes bugged out. Bes slipped over to the drinks cabinet and thieved from it with enthusiasm.
        Not long after this, the trio were being driven in a taxi through Postleton East, which was festooned with green "posters" advertising the mysterious ArtofF and pograp products.
        Each was immersed in thought. Bryarus wondered: what kind of advertising campaign is this? He took a swig from the bottle in his hand.
        Bes sighed. The Dwatter problem was larger than he'd imagined. He took a swig from the bottle in Bryarus' hand.
        Drivula licked her lips; this Bryarus was really rather attractive. She wondered whether she could... Her thought was interrupted as the taxi ran across the cobbled square and disgorged them outside the museum.
        Bes and Drivula tinkled musically as they moved, owing to the number of bottles concealed about their persons. They clinked up the steps and into the building and were met in the foyer by the wild-eyed Jim. He held up his finger. "Listen!" he said. They did. Sure enough, an eerie moaning echoed through the fabric of the building. "It was awful, Sir. I opened the door, it was the Egyptian room Sir, and oooohh." He shuddered. "It's just been going on ever since."
        Bryarus took a thoughtful gulp of whisky, watched thirstily by three pairs of eyes. "Drink your own," he muttered, "you've got plenty. Think I didn't notice?"
        "I can't Sir, I made a vow to the Voice when I saw Its Message down the bog-"
        Bryarus interrupted: "Down the bog? What Message?"
        "Well Sir, It was all green, sort of blob-like. And It said something all tinkly, bubbly, and It had `O' written on It-"
        "Doesn't sound like a Message to me," said Bes, "sounds more like a Dwatter."
        "A whatter?" Bryarus was curious.
        "No, a Dwatter. That's why I'm here. That's my job - round them up, all of them. What a job."
        Bryarus sat on the reception desk and rubbed his eyes. "Look, would you mind just telling me what you're talking about?" he said.
        Bes looked uncomfortable and glanced at Drivula. "Well it's like this. Some of us got fed up in Dwat-"
        "Dwat?" said Bryarus.
        "Yes. Oh, it's another universe but it's only got two dimensions, which is boring, but it's the home of the gods. You would know us as gods of Egypt - we spent a long time there. But when we got back home..."
        "Hang on. Two dimensions, you say? Does that mean the Egyptians painted you as you really are, then; flat?"
        Bes shrugged. "Yes, well it took us a long time to sort out this volume thing. Kept forgetting to snap into 3-D. But then we had to go home for good; it was your Greek gods that finished it for us. Arrogant bunch of invaders they were." He glowered for a few seconds. "It was deadly dull back in Dwat until somebody - Ra, I think - Created the Dwatters to worship us-"
        "Dwatters? Green blobs like Jim's?"
        "Right. But some of us still got bored and frustrated. We started fiddling around with the Gates; the one that leads into this place got broken open. Well, some of the Dwatters have been trying to prove whether the edge of the world exists. They stumbled on the Gate and now there's a leakage between worlds. We thought we ought to get most of them back and close the Gate sometime; but if we left Dwat godless, the ones back there would go crazy." Bes grinned. "So I thought, I fancy a bit of fun anyway. I had this bright idea. We still have images in this universe; get someone to bring some to life. Clone ourselves in a way. You were the one who had the Total Dimension-Key, so you were volunteered."
        "Me? Key?" said Bryarus.
        "That's right," Bes said. "It's very powerful. Every time you pour emotion into it, a total dimension-force is created." He moved forward in the direction of the noise. "Look, we'd better do something about those Dwatters. They sound like they're dying. In the Egyptian room, you say?"
        They surged forward; all except Jim, who quietly slipped away to his office to absorb some of the spirit which remained on his table. Maybe the Voice wouldn't notice. There were enough other people around to catch Its attention.
        When they finally threw back the door, the ululation was deafening. Bes waddled across the room with the phial of gunk in his hand. He unstoppered it and poured a drop onto a magnificent painting of the goddess Hathor in her lion-headed form. Then he retreated.
        The painting shimmered and began to move. "Rrroarrr," she bellowed, "what's going on around here?" Her words could be understood by everyone; even by the floorboards which cringed under its vibration.
        Silence fell like lead and the two in the doorway took their fingers out of their ears.
        The Dwatters were sliding away from the murals; patches of mottled green light, edging off the wall as fast as they could. They wanted their gods alive but not that much so, or at least not that close. Perhaps they could just huddle together and no-one would notice them - especially not notice that they'd had the audacity to decorate themselves...
        Hathor shook her great head and stepped out from the wall. She quivered. Her atoms shifted; her features changed and she stood before them as a statuesque woman. She had thick black hair pouring down either side of a rounded face and a body which many a woman would envy. The thin material of her dress hugged her like a white sheath, down to the ankles, and highlighted her high breasts and slender waist. The only really unusual thing about her was her ears. They were shaped like a cow's.
        She walked gracefully across the room, the material of her skirt allowing movement though Bryarus failed to see how. "Hello my ugly Bes," she said in a deep, rich voice. "Is this the time for festival?"
        "In a minute, in a minute. You'd better meet these guys." Bes led her over to them. "Meet Hathor Sekhmet Mut, goddess of - well, all sorts of things, but mostly joy and love. She likes song, dance, booze, waving garlands - all that sort of stuff - except when she feels like tearing people to shreds. You want to watch it when she turns into a lioness. She's okay as a vulture, though; and quite useful as a cow." He nodded to his host. "This is Bryarus. The one with the Key."
        Bryarus felt as though he had been undressed, caressed and flung away when those huge brown eyes had swept his body. Whew, he thought. He lifted the bottle to his lips and her eyes bored into it.
        "What's that?" she said, reaching out for it.
        "Leave it, leave it. We'll give you some of that later." Bes flapped his hands. "Now we'd better wake up a few more, hadn't we? Here, man. You made this stuff - you'd better use it."
        Hathor rumbled deep in her throat and eyed Bryarus until he blushed, but she made no objections when Bes led him away.
        Bes turned; he viewed the room carefully. "Hmm," he said. "Who'd be good fun to have around?"
        "Min hath an eye for a party," suggested Hathor.
        Bes brightened and started to run, dragging Bryarus toward the granite ithyphallic figure in the centre of the room. The statue held a flail above its head. It stood naked and erect, and so did its yard-long penis.
        "Of course!" said Bes, "Now, there's a god who knows how to have a good time. God of fertility, god of travel; yep, he's a fine start - Aaaargh -!" This was the precise moment that Bes' trousers chose to make their presence felt. Their legs gave up the unequal struggle with gravity and Bes tripped, flew through the air and crashed to his stomach before Min's statue. Bryarus joined him.
        Some of the life-gunk slid exuberantly from the phial which had jumped from Bryarus' outflung hand, and skittered in playful little globules across the floor. A couple of these blobs nestled like kittens between the toes of the statue, but others kept scuttling until they found the wall. Each one chose a patch and jumped, to splatter out its life at random.
        Meanwhile, Bes groaned and pulled himself up by the first hand-hold he could see. "Hey!" a voice spoke above him. "Is not for you. You let go; or you will use it properly, yes?" Min's heavy flail thwacked against his head.

Go on to Chapter 4
Book of Watts and the Dwat
Copyright Carolyn Horn 1993
All Rights Reserved