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

Chapter 13.

Night crawled over the Wold. Postleton tossed and turned in its beds, or stole around looking for beds, or just stole around.
        Failey was trying to do his job; the work should have been simple, he thought with a grimace. It was the sort of work that a cluricaun could do in his spare time and still get a pile of shoes made. He was a connoisseur. Not for him, the smashed cups and flying gizmos. Dissolve a set of keys here, metamorphose someone's clothing there, puzzle the victim with subtle booby-traps everywhere; that was his style.
        But this joint had its difficulties for a craftsman. Failey was lugging Olwyn's car keys across her sitting-room floor, carefully avoiding the pond, when a yowl spat sharply from behind him. His leap was spectacular, but unfortunate; he squished into the slimy water. Two cats leered into his face when he bobbed up again.
        Failey sighed, and climbed out. He wiped sweat and weed from his forehead. "Damn cats; you did that deliberately. Hell, what do people want pets for?" Then he blinked and looked closer. "Hey, I know you - it's Bast, isn't it? Well, I'll thank you to honour the contract with WACERFOU, and- Keep that monster off me!" His voice rose to a yell, and he jumped to the side as Codswallop sprang. The pool received the cluricaun with another enthusiastic spludge.
        A few seconds later, he dragged his body back over the edge again and sighed. "Look," he said, "will you explain to this idiot that WACERFOU has a treaty? Here's my certificate." He waved a soggy card at Bast, and she blinked her eyes in distaste. She washed.
        Failey got on with his job; time passed.
        The morning sun bathed the carpet in a warm glow. Codswallop luxuriated in sleep, his head on his paws and a smile curling his battle-scarred lips. Bast rested beside him, almost swallowed by the soft pile; she lay sphinx-like, with her eyes smiling in green-gold slits and a purr rumbling in her throat.
        Olwyn whirled into the room. She banged drawers and rustled clothing. "Where the hell did I put the things?" she muttered. "I could have sworn... Right here in the bowl... Oh, bother." She stood with her hands on her hips, and gazed around.
        A faint tang of thyme and heather wafted from the flower-coloured walls and caressed Olwyn's nostrils. She sank into the invitation of a chair, which moulded itself to support her and hummed contentedly. She stroked its purple fur and sighed. "Well, I suppose I'll just have to get a bus. Now, where're my shoes? And when on earth did I buy these things?"
        She wore a pair of fluffy, depressed, bile-yellow slippers. Long "ears" drooped down each side of them and flopped onto the floor. It wouldn't have been so bad if they hadn't squeaked like mournful kittens with every step she took.
        Ten minutes later, she was walking down the street, still wearing them, and hot with embarrassment. A "Poot" sounded behind her; she turned to see the Fiat prance toward her.
        "Gertrude," she cried and ran back, "how did you... The keys, did I leave them in you? How stupid of me." She laughed with relief. Gertrude settled down and opened her door; Olwyn got in, reached for the ignition, and found - no keys. She gasped, and then giggled. "Oh, well," she said, "Lead on. To work!"

It was dusk; Bryarus brought his flock home - or rather, Min drove them. Bryarus was frowning. He had spotted Cicely, on the way back. What had she been up to? What new business could she have with Barney and Loophole? He pushed the straggling lock of hair out of his eyes and stumbled out of the Black Maria. He leaned against it and searched his mind for a reason, any reason for her furtive exit from those offices that would not be connected with the house or museum. Then he shrugged. No point in worrying about it; he'd just better keep an eye open.
        The gods streamed thirstily up the stairs, paused, and then streamed back down. "Where the hell is the drink?" shouted Drivula, from behind. They fanned out and searched. Min finally gave a victory yodel from the back garden: "Yo-ho! Is here. Is snuggling with Bonasus!"
        Drivula gave a yelp: "Bonasus? He'll have drained it!"
        Everyone charged across the lawn, to be welcomed by a drinks cabinet which bounced around, hysterically yipping. It fawned on Bryarus and dribbled Chablis all over his feet. "Yes, yes, good Boozo," he soothed.
        Bonasus lay supine on the grass. He burbled about Wych-hazel Cordial and squinted at everyone as he hiccuped.
        "Look here, everybody," Bryarus said when peace had descended again (broken only by slurps and the occasional belch), "I don't know if you noticed on the way here, but those chaps who are trying to clean up the town seem to be using chemicals, now. Surely some of these things could damage your Dwatters? Hadn't you better do something about it?"
        All eyes were upon him. The gods examined his face carefully, then they looked at each other and nodded. "We'd better collect them up, I suppose," Ra scratched his scruffy beard; "send them home."
        Min frowned. "Is maybe time to close the Gate?"
        "Well -ah- we could try an experiment;" Djehuti cleared his throat, "offer them -ah- the chance to see the third dimension. They could see the dangers and protect themselves, then. It would -ah- be interesting..." He took a gulp of wine and thought for a minute.
        "Great! A great idea;" Bes said, "I'd like the little tykes to have some fun along with us. Let's go!"
        Djehuti rubbed his chin. "Ah- by the way, there is a problem about the -ah- Gate. Quite a big problem."
        "We'll think about that another time, then," Ra was brisk, "but we'd better get those Dwatters rounded up right now."
        They all piled back into the Black Maria and headed downtown.
        Two minutes later, they stopped and picked up a drinks cabinet which was clanging and banging after them and giving little yelps of distress. It gave a final heave, and toppled over into the van. It lay on the floor and gasped in little tinkling hoots. At last, it rolled over and lurched to its feet. "Yip! Yip," it said. Bryarus sighed, and glared at Drivula, who looked at the ceiling and hummed to herself.

Jim Fester, the museum's night watchman, dozed in his office. He snored. Mutt lay on his feet, muzzle on paws, and heaved a sigh. He had followed the man into the building a few days ago, and had sort of stuck with him. Jim was rather hazy about the whole affair.
        A bunch of feet splattered past the door and thundered down the basement steps. Jim started awake with a snort. "Wha-?" he said, and gazed around wildly.
        Mutt had raised his head and was growling. In the doorway stood a drinks cabinet, leaning forward with an enquiring air. "Yip?" it said.
        Mutt stalked over to it and sniffed suspiciously. It rasped out sniffing sounds, too; and it crackled like slivers of glass, as it wagged its lower half. Mutt's bristling hair subsided and he flopped his tail.
        Jim blinked and swigged back some whisky. It looked like a full cabinet, he thought, but that was impossible. Must be one of them mirage thingys. Boozo leaped forward at the sight of the bottle, and landed beside Jim's feet; it panted up into his face and dribbled Cordial over his knees.
        This ain't no mirage, Jim thought; this is heaven.
        In the basement, the gods called to their subjects in Dwat-clang; up from the cellar rose their mighty roar. The sound registered on the Richter scale, making delicate equipment buck and sway in the Wold observatory, and a wild wind picked up. Banner headlines sprouted in the Late Editions: "The earth moves for Postleton!" "Hurricane Hetta on her way?" "The voice of doom - the beginning of the end?" The reverend Willey was gratified to see an enormous increase in church attendance that weekend.
        However, to the Dwatters this was a command which had to be obeyed. They slid to the source, direct as an implosion, ignoring the varied strong-pulls around them. Most of the humans who had been in the way of the Dwatters denied with vigour that anything green had just passed through them - but they went straight on the wagon, to be on the safe side; others simply went slightly mad.
        The cellar was soon luminous with pulsating, fearful green creatures. Where were the gods? Were they here? Why were they hiding? Djehuti spoke: "My -ah- people," His voice clanged out, "explorers of the Edge; it is time that you understood the -ah- type of universe which you have entered. You have two dimensions. This plane of consciousness has three."
        Dwish drew in a breath of ecstasy, and pulsed; it was true, the philosophers had been right - his dream of greater dimensions was a reality!
        Drott pressed up close against his friend. "Oh, Dwish," he said, vibrating with fear, "aren't you frightened?
        "Drott, don't you understand? this is what we were searching for. Well yes, a little bit afraid, but oh wow, what an experience! If only I could sense it properly..."
        "In order for you to -ah- understand better," Djehuti continued, "we shall give you special translate-devices for all your sensors. We shall insert, into the being of each -ah- Dwatter, a 3-D translato-vis organ of light. This we give as a reward for your -ah- fearless search for truth. If any of you wish to leave after this -ah- revelation, then the Gate to the Edge is over here, beside my voice." Dwish looked; he could see the green glow, and found it strangely reassuring.
        Somebody gibbered, a constant tinkle of fear. Dwish looked round; Dwurt was shaking, almost black. A shimmering patch of fluorescence was being slid into his body-light; Dwish realised that the same thing was happening to himself. He began to absorb the new sensor. He hardly heard Dwurt's wild scream; he was too busy himself, trying to understand the sensations which hammered at his new Vision.
        "Oh," Dwish gasped. What were these strange, towering creatures? Their heads seemed to disappear into the shadows of a, of a - what? "What kind of area can you call this? It rises away and doubles back on itself... Oh dear, I feel so dizzy..." He gulped. He didn't realise that he'd called the question out loud, in a strange language.
        "You are looking at `volume'," one of the figures spoke. The sound was strange; like those confusing babbles which had been haunting them for so long, but now understandable as speech. The figure suddenly seemed to fold itself, and Dwish felt a brand new sensation - one of vertigo - as the further part of the monster came hurtling toward him. Soon, he would learn to confidently call this monster "Bryarus", and would know that he had simply knelt down to speak nearer the Dwatters' level. At the moment, however, it was all Dwish could do to stay still.
        A sudden scream ululated past Dwish; Dwurt shot toward the Gate. He was the spearhead for a jangle of horrified Dwatters. They didn't stop running until they had reached the broad, cold Plain of Dwuston, in the heart of Dwat.
        Drott shivered as the translato-vis slid into his light. He squeezed his sensors shut, and stayed pressed close to Dwish; the rush of deserters passed them. Then there was peace. Drott eased his sensors open and then snapped them shut. Dwish began to make sense of the strange shapes and distortions. The monsters were introducing themselves, and he tried to concentrate. His own translato-ed name, sounded strange to his sensors. The memory of his cinema-screen experience struck him; his pulser speeded up and his light shimmered. He started to speak, and then stopped; his voice sounded so different! He tried again: "Is it possible that people with Vision such as - this..." he indicated his translato-vis, "would make moving art forms out of two dimensions, and then stand in a different area to look? I mean-"
        "You mean films. That's what they're called," Bryarus spoke, his voice shaking slightly.
        "Films," Dwish whispered to himself. He swirled around to his friend. "Drott! There aren't any Noble's laws here! That means, we could decorate our own bodies; we could be art. The ultimate experience."
        "Plucky little fella," said Drivula, "let's take him to Marco's and see what he makes of it. How about it, Dwish?" The Dwatters spread out again, cautiously, from the museum; their numbers were vastly reduced. They had a lot of exploring to do with their new senses.
        The party which descended on Marco's included two Dwatters and a drinks cabinet as well as the usual complement of gods and a vampire. Marco waved a preoccupied hand at them and continued picking carefully at something which was swamped by the counter's gunge. He was unsticking cockroaches.
        Everybody sat down, and Dwish and Drott draped themselves over the grease on the table. Boozo crept up to Bryarus and started to pant in his ear. Drivula took one look, gurgled with laughter, and panted in his other ear. The cabinet gave a little "Yip!", and Marco's head shot up. He scrunched over the floor to them, and peered. "You got a dog?" he said.
        "No," said Bryarus, and they all shook their heads.
        "Sure? Coulda sworn I heard-"
        "-a dog?" Marco looked hard at Boozo and wiped his nose on the smeared back of his hand. He sidled around the cabinet and squinted closely at it. "Well, it's not like any breed I ever saw," he finally conceded. He paused. "You sure it's not a dog?"
        "No," Bryarus repeated. "It's not a dog. It's a drinks cabinet. It just sounds like a dog."
        "I guess it's okay, then. Cabinets are okay. Just no dogs." Marco was just about to shamble back to the counter, when Ra caught his hand and disentangled the latest cockroach from it.
        "Hey," he cackled, "that's one of mine! I made those!"
        Marco shrugged and went back to free some more, while Bryarus and Drivula discussed Dwish's dream with the excited Dwatter.
        The gods were listening, busily masticating away at seafood in grease a la Marco; all except Ra, who sat hunched in a corner, sniffing to himself.
        It finally got through to Drivula. "What's eating you, old-timer?" she said.
        He hunched a shoulder. "Oh," he said, "It's just - I was so good on beetles. Look at this one; strong, smooth, shiny. Built to last." He sighed. "But you know, it reminded me; my dear old Khepri, still shuffling the sun around in Dwat with my other self. I can feel the resonance, but it's not the same. He's not getting any fun, and I do miss him..."
        Drivula patted his shoulder, winked at Bryarus and squelched quietly out with Bryarus' phial of life-goop in her hand. By the time the others had unstuck themselves, bid Marco a fond farewell and reached the street, she was waiting for them with a giant, sun-blackened scarab.
        "Khepri!" Ra stumbled forward and clambered onto the beetle, just behind its head. He yelled: "Up, Khepri! Come!" The massive wings unrolled from their sheaths and a great whirring beat the air. They flew up, spiralling above the dead chimneys, with Ra laughing and whooping into the distance.
        Bryarus cricked his neck with looking up into the dark; he rubbed it, and glanced at Drivula. "You got him from the museum? Thanks - I think," he said.
        The following morning, Cicely staggered into her kitchen, yawning. Khepri was patiently trying to roll the garbage up into a ball and scoot it backwards around the room; Cicely's screams awoke the neighbourhood.

Go on to Chapter 14
Book of Watts and the Dwat
Copyright Carolyn Horn 1993
All Rights Reserved