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

Chapter 8.

The riggers set a new record for packing up the equipment. E-L stormed out, kicking the supine Harold as he passed: "Wake up this moron. I'll be in the car; he'd better be driving it within the next five minutes, or else."
        Two minutes later a shaking Harold stumbled past Olwyn, where she sat in the entrance hall. For once, he hardly noticed her. She sat on a rickety seat, staring in revulsion at the stone hooligans. It wasn't me, she thought. It was a cat. She put her elbows on her knees, cupped her chin in her hands and frowned. She thought about Min. Good grief! Could he actually be a statue come to life? A god? And Bast... She jerked upright just as Bryarus and his friends staggered in, laughing, from the shop.
        Bryarus mopped his eyes and cocked an eyebrow at Olwyn. "Come on back with us. I don't think Phelonia Hall will be a nice place to be for a while."
        "I'd like to, but-" Olwyn glanced at her watch. She looked around; everything seemed unreal, distant. She shivered briefly and blinked. "Oh well. I don't think I'd get anything much done. Thanks. Have you got - would some of you like a lift? There isn't much room in Gertrude, but..."
        "That's okay," said Bryarus. "You see that Black Maria down the road? It's Min's; he acquired it a couple of days ago. Don't ask me how. I don't want to know."
        Min flashed them a grin and gazed hypnotically into Olwyn's eyes. "Come!" He said. "I drive. We go now, beautiful priestess."
        "I-I-I..." she caught her breath and tried again. "I can't leave Gertrude-"
        The god looked around enquiringly: "Who is this Gertrude? Another priestess? She is not as lovely as you, no?"
        "Dammit, Min, leave her alone. She means her car." Bryarus scowled.
        They drove in triumphal convoy through Postleton and packed the two vehicles, with a flourish and a tooting of horns, into the Watts' driveway. Bonasus poked an enquiring nose around the side of the house. He came over to slobber on Bryarus' neck.
        Bryarus ushered the others indoors, dabbing absently at his soaked collar; they piled happily into the living-room. He cocked his head to one side, listening. "Cicely must be holding hands at Phelonius Productions; I can't hear screams of rage," he said. He turned to Olwyn, who was closing the front door, and gave a sudden grin. "Hey, I found something you might like, the other day. Come on up, I'll let you have it." He started up the stairs, two at a time, and she hesitated. At the top he looked down onto her pale face; she hadn't moved. "Come on. What's the matter? Oh lord, you don't think I'm going to..." He sat on the top step, and rubbed his hands over his face. "Look," he said, "I'm not a rapist, I promise you. But I suppose I'd say that if I was. Just stay there if you like, and I'll bring it down. Sounds silly, but I wanted to show off a part of the house that doesn't have Cicely's mark on it."
        Olwyn flushed. "No no, I didn't mean... I can see you're not like Harold. Hang on a sec." She climbed up to him, and held out her hand. "A pact. You don't jump me; I don't jump you. Okay?"
        He laughed, leaped to his feet and took her hand. "Okay!" he said, and pushed open the door to his sanctuary.
        She looked around. The sun's rays pointed out dusty stains; clutter; tattered furnishings. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Wow!" she said, "What a beautiful big room. I just wish mine were like this; So bright and airy. And just look at all those books... This place is real!" She moved forward and reached out to lightly touch a torn spine here, a faded cover there. Then she pounced. "This one - it's got your name on it! You've written a book?"
        He shrugged. "Not what you'd call a best-seller, I'm afraid; it's just a few of my findings. I'm interested in Egyptology, you know. But here, this is what I wanted to show you; take a look."
        Olwyn gazed at the papyrus manuscript which he placed in her hands. She turned the pages: "It's beautiful!" she whispered. "I can't read it but the little drawing-things are exquisite."
        "Hieroglyphs," he said; she turned enquiring eyes toward him, so he said: "that's what the little drawings are called. It's a script, really. But the point is, the book - it's a book of Egyptian spells and I thought, well you were looking..."
        She glanced down again. He didn't know, of course, she thought. He couldn't know just how pointless all her searchings probably were. She sighed and looked up again.
        He looked puzzled and slightly hurt. He said: "I know you won't be able to understand it, but I thought perhaps you'd let me translate it for you."
        She gulped, and started to turn away.
        "Miss Doorbar - Olwyn - what's the matter?" He reached out a hand toward her.
        His voice was kind; too kind. She sniffed and then the day's shocks exploded in her. It all came out; the disappointment, the yearning: "I thought, at last there's something I c-can do. Okay, so it was awful. But my mother's always been fey, and I wished... And then it happened; it was frightening, thinking I'd turned those bullies to stone, but - I really believed I could be different; not just a dreadful secretary, paid for the Harolds of this world to grope at." Bryarus snatched his hand back. Olwyn put the book down and started feverishly hunting in her pockets. "But all the time it was just a cat, just B-Bast who turned them to stone, and now I can't even find my ha-hanky!" She finished on a wail.
        Bryarus handed over a box of tissues and she grabbed at them. He cleared his throat and clenched his hands by his side. He was obviously hunting for something to say, but all that popped out was: "Are you really that bad a secretary?" She nodded with vigour and blew her nose defiantly.
        He placed his hands firmly on her shoulders and turned her round. She stood still, soggy eyes raised to his. His face cleared and broke into a smile. "Listen," he said, "of course you've got something special. That cat with you - she's Bast, right? The goddess? I can believe that, after today's little escapade," he smiled briefly and shook Olwyn's shoulders. "But, don't you see if you hadn't had some special power, something no-one else had, she wouldn't have picked you to tag along with?"
        Her heart lurched; could he be right? Then she thought of Bast and a light flashed in her mind. Of course! There was some attraction.
        She flung herself into Bryarus' arms and gave him a big hug.
        "What's all this then, fellas?" the door crashed open and Drivula stood in the doorway, feet planted well apart, hands on hips and a scowl on her face. Min peered from behind, grinning. Bryarus let go of Olwyn, who flushed and turned her reddened eyes to the door. Drivula looked her up and down, tapped one foot and sniffed. She said: "Well? Are you two going to behave like turtle-doves all night, or do we get drinks around here?"
        "Since when did you lot stop using my drinks cabinet as a free bar?" Bryarus sounded mildly curious.
        Drivula growled deep in her throat and twanged a fang. She undulated up to him and placed a cool hand on his neck, looking at it with a hot gaze until he shifted uncomfortably. She started to crowd closer; he began to sweat... He gulped and stepped backwards. "Look, let's all just go down and see how the others are doing. Miss Doorbar?" He looked at her. "Olwyn! Min, don't do that!"
        The god looked up from gazing deep into Olwyn's eyes and chuckled. "Is oh, so lovely priestess." then he flung up his hands in a shrug as he caught Bryarus' glare and said: "Yes okay, we go down now."

They went. Drivula stood in the room for a few seconds more, glowering, and then her eyes brightened. She giggled, went to a particular drawer in the desk and drew out a phial which still contained the brown life-gunk...

Ten minutes later she arrived in the sitting-room, where the drinks were still being doled out, wearing an expression of angelic innocence. Bryarus took one look and started to worry.
        Cicely gave him more to worry about, however; she chose that moment to glance into the sitting-room. She simply said: "Oh you're here, are you? With all your friends? Oh, fine. Uh - I'll just go and..." as she drifted back out. Bryarus was stunned.
        Bes looked around and pursed his lips. His goggling eyes caught the question in his host's. He winked, laid down his glass and sidled out of the room with remarkable stealth, considering his stocky bulk.
        "He'd have made a good thief," Bryarus muttered to himself. He turned in his seat to pick up his glass, and found it firmly glugging its contents into Apep's gullet.
        The snake was concentrating hard on this delicate operation, his wide mouth tilted to the sky and an earnest expression on his face. It isn't much, his massively gulping neck seemed to say, just an itty-bitty glassful, but beggars...
        When he lowered his head again and spat out the empty goblet, his eyes met the frigidity in Bryarus'. "Apep," the man said, "I take it that I've failed in my duties as host?"
        "No no," the serpent wagged his head and his eyes took on a desperate glow, "I jusst - the glassss looked lonely; uncared-for, y'know?"
        "My glass?"
        "Ah well you ssee, it wass ssimply abandoned, and ass we at WACERFOU udersstand the down-trodden, the depressssed-"
        "You decided to keep it company, is that the idea?" Apep nodded vigorously. Bryarus felt a tug at his sleeve. Bes' guttural voice whispered in his ear: "Hey mister, I think your sister's trying to pull some kind of trick on you. She's on her way out again; do the words `title deeds' mean anything important?"
        "Title deeds!" Bryarus jumped to his feet, and started pawing the air in reddening fury. "Gah-! Umphph..." Drivula had slid across the room, tackled him back into his seat and firmly sat on him. For a couple of seconds, his legs thrashed about and he was trying to talk through her silk-clad flesh. At last he quieted and sat limply.
        "Okay fella, calm down and tell us what all the hullaballoo is about," she drawled. She put her arm around his neck and started to pick her teeth again.
        He took a deep breath, ignored the twanging in his left ear, and spoke to the sea of interested faces: "The museum! She keeps trying to sell, but she can't without me. I'll bet she's trying to push me out. I didn't think she could, but..."
        "Well," Bes said, "she was gathering papers together. I happened to see a letter with a fancy heading: G. Barney, Loophole & Sons. Mean anything to you?"
        Bryarus nodded. "The main Estate Agents in the West End. She must be pretty sure of herself." He sighed. "I'd better follow her. Even if that's not where she's headed, I'll have to find out what they've got to do with it." he thought for a while, frowning. "Wait a minute," he said, "doesn't old Effingham-Luton have some kind of connection with those agents? I'm going to have to leave you chaps alone for a while, I'm afraid."
        "It appears that you are in some -ah- trouble," Djehuti looked around with raised brows. "We'll be right -ah- behind you all the way."
        Bryarus closed his eyes and shuddered. There was a loud discussion about who would go and who wouldn't. Several opted to stay behind and guard the drinks cabinet.
        Min took charge, bundling Djehuti and the enthusiastic twins into the van. At the last minute a vulture sailed down from her flight-path over the tree-tops and fluttered in. The doors closed; they were on their way.

Olwyn left too. Drivula hid a smile and waited for the scream.
        It wasn't long in coming. Bast gave Drivula a glare and streaked out to where Olwyn stood frozen, mouth agape, pointing at Gertrude. The car, a fresh brown blob of life-gunk fizzing on its nose, was picking its way daintily toward its owner. It lifted each of its wheels in turn over the flower-beds. Bast flowed round and round Olwyn's ankles, purring and making little mewling noises at the back of her throat, and the woman came out of her shocked trance.
        She calmed down, although the car had now reached her side. "Bast," she whispered, "how on earth... Oh! Oh Gertrude, how sweet!" The car had just started to butt her gently with its front end and was, well, purring. It opened its doors and sat back on its haunches, bouncing slightly. Bast slipped into her seat and tidied her tail around her toes; Olwyn hesitated, took a deep breath, marched around the driver's door, and cringed onto her seat. The doors slammed shut and Gertrude crouched onto her axles. With shrinking fingers, Olwyn put the key in the ignition and turned it; Gertrude then pranced down the driveway and along the street.

"Did you see that?" an awed voice whispered from the bushes beside the house.
        "I didn't see nothin'," another bush replied, "It's a hally- haloci- halu-... It couldn't 'a' happened. Anyway do we get on with this job, or don't we?" A tousled head appeared from behind it. "They're all gone now, for sure."
        "You sure it's the right joint?" said a third bush.
        "'Course it is. You heard Jerry Flick, here. Anyone what chucks out that kinda 'jumble' hasta have the real stuff."
        Four youthful shapes slid out, into the shadow of the house and through an easily-opened window.
        Five minutes later, screams echoed through the dusk; three of the lads shot back out of the window. They sobbed fitfully down the street with the speed of wind: "Oh my gawd," jerked out of one of the boys, "where's Jerry?"
        "Still in there," panted another.
        "Oh my gawd." Further breath was reserved for serious running.

Go on to Chapter 9
Book of Watts and the Dwat
Copyright Carolyn Horn 1993
All Rights Reserved