of Watts and the Dwat
Copyright Carolyn Horn 1993
All Rights Reserved
descended onto his stomach again and swivelled his eyes toward Bryarus.
"What hit me?" the god whispered.
Bryarus lifted his face
from the floor and squinted upwards. "I think Min's mad at you," he
whispered back. "You seem to have caught hold of his, uh... Do you think
he was a good choice? He's not too well dressed."
Bryarus heaved onto
his hands and knees, and crawled backwards in a concentrated hunch.
He washed his hands of the whole business. It was nothing to do with
him if his mind told him lies when he gave it a drink. A drink; now
that was a good idea. He stood up and fumbled the bottle out of his
pocket. It was niftily removed from his fingers.
He looked up: "Hey!
Watch it! You're not supposed..." he said, but Hathor was already thirstily
glugging it back. A few seconds later she removed it from her lips and
gasped silently as she leaned against the doorpost.
"Oogh!" she managed
finally. "Kill the mortal. He hath tried to poison me."
"No, no," soothed Drivula.
"It seems strange at first, but after a while you get used to it. It's
"In truth," Hathor spoke
in wonder, "the fire hath indeed died down. There is a sense of pleasure
in the kneecaps." A hand reached through the group and grabbed the bottle.
Drivula looked round; it was Min, clad in nothing but a tall crown,
a grin and a necklace. Her eyes slid down his body and came to rest
on his still rampant flesh. "Is it always like that?" she asked with
Min hadn't heard. He
raised the bottle and said: "Is for me to try, also. See what makes
Hathor fail." He poured some whisky down his throat and swayed. Parts
of him collapsed.
Drivula spoke with satisfaction:
"Ah! So it does go down sometimes. I just wondered."
Min turned his tortured eyes toward her and croaked: "What?" then he
took in her half-cloaked shape and began to revive. "Is charming lady..."
By now a cluster of
gods had pulled themselves off the wall and aimed for the action; their
voices clashed confusingly in the long, high-ceilinged room. Min waved
the bottle at them and they stepped back nervously. "What kind of drink
can stagger Hathor and Min?" a fair-haired woman spoke with a voice
like warm honey. "I think we should be careful."
An identical voice replied:
"Hah! You carry on and be careful, Isis dear. I want a taste."
The twins were difficult
to tell apart. Their wide eyes flashed royal blue, large within their
"Nephthys! Look - a
brand new man," Isis said and put up a hand to pat her shoulder-length
golden hair. She began to slink toward Bryarus, who blinked in confusion.
Her arms shimmered with sleeves of long, soft feathers. Her skirt flowed
up from ankle to just below bustline; however, it was made of a most
unrespectable see-through pink material. Bryarus gulped. Stare as he
would, he could see no trace of cloth over those full rose-tipped breasts...
"Lay off ladies," Drivula's
voice crackled with frost; "I got here first."
Isis cast a considering
glance at the vampire, who grinned and continued: "Like I said. Lay
off. There's plenty more where this one came from."
A writhing rustle sounded
behind the group. Nephthys whirled around and pointed. "Ooh, look,"
she said, "Apep's here! Goody!" She ran over to the startled-looking
serpent and wrapped her arms around as much of him as she could; he
was still trying to unravel his huge mottled length off the wall. His
coils already reached half-way down the echoing room.
"Sstop it," he hissed.
"I'm conssentrating." He eased some more of himself off the wall and
turned his head to see how the job was going.
In her eagerness to
help pull Apep off the wall, Isis trod on the toe of an old man behind
her. "Oops! Sorry Ra," she said and hurried on. "It's a long time since
we've been able to use a good solid snake." She grabbed hold of a heaving
handful, thought for a minute, and shrugged. "Or anyone else solid,
come to think of it."
The old man was hopping
around on one foot, nursing the other one and cursing. His spare hand
grasped at his tall crown to keep it from wobbling off his head; this
task was complicated by the presence of a small serpent, which curled
around it and flipped at his fingers with its tail.
"Ra, you old rascal!"
Drivula squealed. She jumped forward and flung herself at him. He tried
to fight her off and regain his balance.
So this was the sun
god, Bryarus thought. Lord of the sky. Creator of everything by spitting
or masturbating. Well he was a perfect example of the dangers of such
activities. He dribbled like a sick old man. His body and legs were
exposed, skinny and raddled, under a knee-length Egyptian loincloth
and wide necklace. And his beard - well, anything as thin and ragged
as that deserved an honourable burial. Bryarus almost smiled until those
deep, ancient eyes turned toward him.
"Drivula," the god's
voice was deep and harsh; "put me down! You're upsetting Uraeus and
you know what that means."
Drivula looked up. The
tiny king of snakes glared down at her from Ra's crown and she shuddered.
"I guess I'm sorry, Ury," she said and the glare lost heat.
Bryarus was struck by
a thought. He turned to Ra and said: "Isn't Uraeus an asp? Wasn't Cleopatra..."
His voice tailed off, as he became aware that Ra was backing away and
The god had gone white
and was shaking his head, mouthing "No! No, don't say it!"
Uraeus turned his basilisk
glare on Bryarus and opened his mouth on the start of a hiss. A stench
crawled out and fought with the mustiness of the museum; sharp-tanged
fumes of combusting, decayed maggots mixed with the oily brown stink
of rotting fish-guts.
Bryarus took one breath
and gagged. He ran for the door. He was not alone; the room was brisk
with bodies emptying from it. A few busy seconds later, Ra stood alone;
abandoned by all but his pet. The only sound to disturb the tomb-like
peace was that of a god fighting for breath.
The little snake shut
its mouth again; as always at such moments, it gazed around in a puzzled
fashion and rumbled deep in its throat. The god sank onto the floorboards
and blew his nose on the end of his loincloth. The others began to drift
Bes caught hold of Bryarus
and hissed in his ear: "Don't ever say anything about Cleopatra to that
serpent. It seems to be a sore spot; don't know why, because no-one
ever sticks around long enough to find out. Boy, has that kid got bad
breath! But you must never, never say so in his hearing - he's sensitive
about that too."
"Have you no -ah- books;
no arts?" the slow, musical voice came from behind. Bryarus turned to
see the magnificent ibis-head of Djehuti with its long curving beak,
thoughtful eyes and rust-coloured, shoulder-length cape. Now here was
a god with class, he thought; a god who used only his voice to Create.
Must be a fantastic singer. He certainly looked magnificent with that
glistening, tanned body highlighted by the white knee-length loincloth.
"Hey," Ra waved a bottle
at the rival demiurge and caught his attention, "you ought to try this
stuff. It packs quite a punch."
Djehuti - god of clerks,
keeper of the divine archives, and inventor of all arts and sciences
- took the bottle and contemplated it in silence. He shook it, and held
it up to the light. He tried to get his beak into it; it was too small.
His beak gave an impatient click. He pushed his bird's head back to
reveal a pink, bald man's face; He lifted the bottle to his lips and
drank deep. " -Ah-" he said, standing rock-still with a distant expression
in his eyes; "well, ah..."
Bryarus cleared his
throat. "Yes, we do have other rooms here," he answered the god's earlier
question. "Would you like to see?" He led the way out. He didn't notice
Drivula stroll over to the phial of life-gunk, stopper it and slip it
under her cloak. He heard her throaty chuckle but thought nothing of
The gods thudded through
the dimly lit, high-arched passages. They ran like children from room
to room, squealing in glee at the variety; from Failed Inventions to
Asian Artefacts and from Plastics to Prints.
But it was the Music
room which delighted them most. It contained ancient middle-eastern
instruments - and especially, to Bes' joy, a huge African drum. He began
to beat a deep note on it and soon he was stroking a series of staccato
taps, mixed with a rhythm of thumps. Hathor picked up a sistrum and
had begun to shake it, when Tansy stuck her head around the door. "What's
all the commotion about? Oh hi, Big Boss! I just popped back in to show
Arlo the new batch of vulture etchings that arrived when he was out;
what's your excuse?" She turned her head to someone behind her and said:
"It's Big Boss; he's got a bunch of friends here."
At that moment, someone's
stomach grumbled. This seemed to be the start of a gut symphony. Bryarus
hadn't thought of that; how was he going to feed this shower?
"Hast thou hunger? Take
my milk," Hathor said, eagerly lifting her hands to her breasts.
Her host looked away
quickly. "No no, Madam," he said, glancing at the faces around him.
They portrayed various stages of revulsion. "We wouldn't think of making
you supply your own sustenance."
Hathor looked wistful, but he saw with relief that she had stopped fumbling
at her bodice. "I'd
rather have some more of -ah- what's in that bottle," Djehuti's voice
sang out like a mellow cello. "It seems -ah- to grow on one." There
was a general surge in the direction of Bes and his bottle. Hathor went
into a corner to sulk. No-one noticed that she'd turned into her vulture-form
by the time she came out; they were all far too busy wiping their eyes
Tansy came into the
room with Arlo behind her. "You need an all-night chippie," she said.
Then she looked around and her eyes grew round with wonder. "Heck, have
you seen the gear your friends are all wearing, Big Boss?" she whispered
in awe. "Is it a fancy-dress party, or what? That one is all naked,"
she went on nodding toward Min. She was impressed.
Bryarus coughed. "Yes
well. It's like this. My friends wanted to see the museum and we walked
over for the exercise and we got mugged. the muggers took most of our
clothes and - and - that's it," he finished lamely.
Tansy looked at him
carefully. His eyes shifted under hers. She shook her head. "Try again,
Boss. No-one ever wants to see the museum."
Bryarus shifted his
weight from one foot to the other and made up his mind. "Okay. I made
some gunk, brought that Bes statue to life; then we came here and released
a few other gods."
Tansy gazed at him for
a full minute and his eyes held hers with a frantic plea. She nodded
slowly. "I'll buy that story," she said. She looked around, listening
to the sound of grumbling stomachs. "We still need that chippie. You'd
better get a towel or something for the naked one; he'll give the natives
"Hey, Tansy!" Arlo's
voice rose with excitement. He had just spotted Hathor. His ginger hair
stood on end. "Look! What a vulture! Wow, a real beauty..."
His beloved looked at
him. He was lifting Hathor onto his shoulder and crooning to her. Tansy
shrugged and turned back to the others. "Food," she said. "Come on.
I'm empty, too. We'll be all right at Marco's; he won't notice anything
odd. Arlo! Bring the damn bird and stop crooning at it."
Bes touched the drum.
It shimmered and disappeared; he calmly folded something up in his palm
and pocketed it. "What'd you do with my drum?" yelped Bryarus.
"Oh, I thought we might
need it later. It's two-dimensional now - easier to carry."
"But if you can do things
like that, why not just bring each other to life off the wall? Why bother
with the gunk?"
"-Ah-" Djehuti spoke;
"that is not -ah- possible. We can Create new live beings, or we can
reduce life to stone or metal. We can -ah- expand and contract inanimate
objects or, indeed, ourselves; but it is very -ah- inadvisable without
the Formula, to-"
Bes finished quickly. "Now what about this food?"
Bryarus looked at the
stream of gods which ambled along Lower Postleton's cracked streets
with him and tried to keep his eyes away from naked flesh. It was an
almost impossible task.
Apep frolicked along
in weed-covered gap-sites and scrunched his body through garbage; he
lifted his lichen-covered head above the roof-tops to see further and
hissed into doorways. The tramps ignored him and he went away.
"You see that, Nellie?"
"Oh ah." Nellie nodded.
"Nothin' special, Joe, were it?"
"Nah. Seen better on
a real binge."
They huddled up together
under a ragged blanket.
the small oily cafe that was Marco's, a sharp tang of sweat and rancid
fat reached out of the door to grab at passing nostrils. The customers
ranged from tramps to glue-factory shift-workers. They sat huddled at
tables which dripped grease onto the sticky floor; it was difficult
to tell whether there were tablecloths lurking under the grime. The
fifteen-watt light bulbs weren't dim enough to hide the blobs of something
indefinable which cowered in corners and the food seemed to shrink from
contact with the cracked plates. Over the kitchen door there was a sign,
yellowed and streaked with green and brown, which proclaimed: "No dogs."
When Bryarus' party
entered, Marco sniffed and wiped his hand across his nose. He eyed them
narrowly when asked for a table for ten plus an asp, a serpent with
a length problem and a large vulture. He said: "No dogs allowed. You
got any dogs?" On their earnest assurance that dogs did not feature
as part of their ensemble, he swung his large, encrusted hand out in
an expansive gesture to include the whole room and said: "Wha'll you
The choice in the end
was fairly limited. At Marco's one could have fish with beans and congealed
chips, or chips with beans and congealed fish. Any other variation confused
the chef. It was a high-class joint, for Lower Postleton.
Drivula leaned close
to Marco and breathed on his neck. "Black pudding? You gonna get me
a black pudding, mister?"
He looked thoughtfully
at her teeth and then at her chest; his eyes wandered back to the teeth.
"Okay," he said, "See what I can find." He ambled into the kitchen.
The conversation rose
and fell in the room undisturbed. It was a steady, restful sound. It
mingled with the "slap-slap" of Pos Creek which slithered past the back
Bryarus picked moodily
at the mess on his plate and wondered what Drivula was up to now. She
and Tansy seemed to have taken to each other in a huge way and they
had spent some time whispering, looking at him and giggling. However,
five minutes ago they had gone into a deep conference with Djehuti;
he sounded very enthusiastic about something, in his measured way. It
sounded as though they were going to try some experiment with those
green blobs. What were they called? Dwatters, that was it. Bryarus heard
the word "museum". He strained to hear.
"-Won't be able to resist;
they'll fall over each other to photograph the place-" Tansy's voice
rose in enthusiasm.
"What are you lot talking
about?" Bryarus asked.
Tansy grinned at him,
waved, and carried on chatting.
Isis and Nephthys chattered;
their eyes darted around the room and lingered on some of the young
men. "Now, he would do for me," said Isis, pointing to one muscled lad,
"what about you?"
Bryarus broke in: "Do
Two pairs of blue eyes
widened at him. "Why, for a priest of course!"
Bryarus gasped: "But
you can't go round castrating people in Postleton!"
"What? Oh, no, we don't
do that." The twins looked at each other and giggled. "Well yes, maybe
we did once, but we think of much more fun things to do with them these
It was all very disturbing.
The third whisky bottle was circulating freely and Bryarus grabbed it
as it went past; no-one else seemed to be worried about anything so
why should he?
At this point Tansy
and her two new conspirators heaved themselves to their feet and left
in what they obviously felt was an unobtrusive fashion. However, three
people wading between tables in a crab-like crouch and saying "shush"
to each other in stage whispers at odd intervals is more likely to grab
the attention than not. But they got away with it; nobody called the
police or the lunatic asylum. This was Lower Postleton.
Half an hour later the
rest of the party unstuck themselves from their seats, paid for the
half-eaten mess (or rather, Bryarus did), and left.
Bryarus strode out of
the door - smack into the side of a large, hairy, bull-like creature.
He sat down abruptly. The creature turned a head armed with strong curving
horns and pushed him gently with its nose. Bryarus shook his head to
clear it and removed a bunch of animal-hairs from his mouth.
"What's this?" he asked
of no-one in particular.
Drivula and Tansy appeared
from the other side of the animal and looked at each other and then
away again. Tansy cleared her throat. "Well B.B., it's like this. You
see Drivula thought, well I hadn't actually seen anything come to life
and it didn't seem fair, so while we were back there with Djehuti..."
Bryarus amazed himself
with the calmness of his voice. "Which room was it?"
"Well we thought perhaps
the Asian room might be interesting..."
"Oh my God," Bryarus
put his head in his hands. "How many of that lot did you let loose?"
he shuddered as he thought of some of the bizarre characters there.
Drivula chipped in:
"None, honest, fella. Only Bonasus here."
"Bonasus?" Bryarus stood
and bent to dust his trousers.
"Yeah. That's his name.
He's an Asian Bonnacon..."
"What?" Bryarus had
snapped upright with a yell. Then he lowered his voice to a whisper.
"Don't you know what these chaps do?"
The two girls looked
at each other with raised brows and shrugged their shoulders.
Bryarus continued. "They
evacuate their bowels, ladies. And when they do that everyone around
has to duck. And I have to find a home for him."
At that moment Djehuti
re-appeared, striding along with his ibis-head on and humming to himself.
Tansy looked an enquiry at him and he nodded briefly. "All -ah- taken
care of. Those Dwatters have faith in me; they'll do as I say and -ah-
stay still for a while."
"Great," said Tansy;
"It won't take long - you'll see."
A huge yawn shook Bryarus.
It was time to lie down somewhere comfortable. Preferably for a long
time. Perhaps when he awoke all this would have been a dream. Then he
looked at his little flock, clustered around him with friendly, trusting
faces, and he felt a surge of affection. No, he thought, he'd be glad
if they weren't a dream. Interesting things would be bound to happen
now. "Arlo," he said, "can you take that vulture home with you? And
Min too, perhaps; for heaven's sake find him some trousers. That towel
Arlo nodded: "Yeah.
Shall I take the big snake, too? This is a great place; no-one'd notice."
"Splendid," said Bryarus,
blinking slightly at this view of Lower Postleton's advantages, "and
Tansy - can you take anyone?"
"Well, I have got a
couple of camp beds tucked away." she turned to Isis and Nephthys. "You
two could do with something to wear; I'm maybe about your size. How
about it; d'you fancy kipping at my hovel? it's just a bedsit but I've
The twins greeted this
with enthusiasm. "Good." said Bryarus. "Cheerio for now, then." He turned
up the road with Bes and Drivula and waved to Djehuti and Ra to follow
with the Bonnacon. "Damn!" he said. "It's too late for buses and we'll
never find a taxi down here. Oh well. It's a long walk, I'm afraid."
"Pardon Master," said
a husky new voice.
"Eh?" was Bryarus' inelegant
"I wish to suggest Master,
that I am good to be ridden on, goodness yes."
"Bonasus! you can talk!"
"But yes of course,"
The Bonnacon sounded offended. "If you do not wish to ride, it is up
to you Master. But it seems there is a problem, isn't it?"
"Indeed it is," replied
Bryarus, "we thank you for the kindness." The five of them clambered
up onto the huge animal's back and his stride effortlessly gobbled up
the miles. The journey
took mere minutes.
The house was in darkness.
Bonasus was dubious about entering it: "In my home country I see the
stars at night. I sleep under the sky, isn't it?"
"Well, you certainly
may if you wish. There's a stream at the back if you're thirsty. Will
you be warm enough?"
"Oh yes indeed; no problem,
"Good night then," said
Bryarus, as he ushered his other guests quietly into his home and found
beds for three of them. He still didn't know where Drivula slept and
he rather thought he didn't want to.
Bonasus meanwhile went
to examine the stream. He had urgent need of it for more than just a
bright lights were dimmed at the museum. Jim Fester, the watchman, sank
into his usual sedated doze. The night settled around the Egyptian room
with its luminous green poster-paintings on the walls. The enigmatic
typeset messages merged delicately with new, complicated swirls of coloured
light. All was peaceful.
In Postleton West an
enormous, flaming turd floated down a narrow stream and a Bonnacon settled
for a comfortable sleep on the bank.