of Watts and the Dwat
Copyright Carolyn Horn 1993
All Rights Reserved
wandered into Bryarus' study, yawning vaguely. Apep launched himself
across the room, coiled around the god of Travel and Fertility, and
waved a paper in front of his face. "Min," he said, "I ssusspect I've
found what I'm ssearching for. Look!"
"Is a map," said Min,
and struggled out of the snake's coils. He held up a hand to twitch
the map from Apep's mouth. "Is help you want, yes? I translate?"
Apep nodded his head
Min frowned. "Is more
complicated than in old days." He looked up at Apep's anxious expression,
and grinned. "Is okay, though. I work it out."
Half an hour later Apep
slithered like a roller-coaster down the stairs; he almost knocked Djehuti
over. "Ssorry!" he shouted, his voice fading as he slid out of the house,
"Ssee you ssometime. Gwendoline - ah, ssweet Gwendoline..."
Next day, newspapers
reported an unusual surge in minor motorway accidents. As the Fashionable
Review stated: "Police are looking into rumours of a northward-bound
serpent which is believed to have disrupted traffic. Many eye-witnesses
were incoherent when interviewed, but they all mentioned a huge snake
which glided past them. Reports vary as to the length of the beast."
"Mile-long Monster at
large!" screamed the tabloids.
Apep became aware of
the interest that evening. Searchlights slashed at him from an object
which went "WhupWhupWhup" in the sky and blinded him. Bullets crashed
down onto his hide and hurt him. He was not pleased. He'd been enjoying
the sightseeing, but now... He stopped and thought for a second, bathed
in the harsh, shifting light. He'd have to investigate, he supposed;
he sighed, and reared up toward the buzzing thing, which began to wobble
alarmingly. Voices stuttered from the vehicle behind the light, which
started to move away. Apep reached out his face to grasp hold of the
object, and gently pulled it to the ground.
Someone was whimpering:
"...make it go away, please god make it go away, please-"
Apep peered through
the glass front, and two men stared back at him. In the distance another
faint "WhupWhupWhup" sounded. Bother, thought Apep. Oh well. He removed
his third dimension.
The two men gaped at
the space which had been a serpent. They stirred.
"Ummm," said one.
"It was all a hoax,
right?" said the other.
"Right," said the first.
Goshawk was sitting in his grubby little basement office. The light
of day filtered reluctantly through the cracked window-panes and just
touched the ash-bespattered desk. Murdo took a swig at the beer-bottle
beside his elbow, rubbed his eyes, and lowered his hands to clatter
the typewriter keys again: "...could the factory be the culprit? Is
the Improvement Committee right; should Lower Postleton be fumigated
and razed to the ground? Mr. Kraphedd promised the Improvement Committee
that the government would provide a complete environmental investigation
into our mutating frogs and rats.
"A spokesman, Mr. Barney,
for the building company of LPB (Luton, Pillidge, & Barney), was keen
to explain the advantages of fumigating and levelling the factory and
the Lower end of the town. `Where you see nothing but infestations of
tramps and rats today, there could be a superb area of executive housing
leading down toward the creek. The Village could be turned into a picturesque
retreat for the tired businessman - we envisage a quaint, olde-worlde
flavour. These houses would be more expensive, but worth it to those
who dream of idyllic country living. The factory? Oh well, that could
be re-built as a plush shopping plaza, where you could buy everything
from executive toys to high-class furnishings.'
"Mr. Barney smiled at
the next question, and said: `Everyone complains about the possible
loss of jobs; but there will be a net gain in employment. There are
going to have to be staff in the shops, are there not? Of course, they
will have to be suitable; to be, as it were, in tune with the tone of
Murdo sat back and stretched.
He lit a cigarette, balanced it carefully on the overflowing ashtray,
and flexed his fingers: "At present, LPB Holdings own a fair amount
of the land; however, there appear to be certain areas of blockage.
The museum is the main one. The place appears to outrage Mr. Barney,
who asks why we need it. He says: `Why does there have to be a Protection
Order on it, and the area around it? The museum is supposed to be an
education to the public; hah! Who ever goes there? It is centrally placed
in the area to be developed, and no sensible improvement work can be
carried out while this eyesore remains.'"
few evenings later, a shower of sparks and bangs echoed through the
West Square. November the 5th had erupted into the glowering night.
Catherine wheels careered
around Georgian facades; rockets whizzzz- BANGed into globules of colour
which ricocheted off the clouds. Sparkles of light and colour rained
down on the "Oohs" and Aahs" of the crowd. Faces stared upward and were
warmed by the flickering mountain of fire in the centre of the cobbled
area. The pyramid of timber and brick-a-brac had loomed over the Square
for days; now the fire was having its way. It licked here; tasted there;
and then ka-foomed through a particularly interesting morsel, sheeting
upwards in a solid glare before settling down to steady consumption.
The air was heavy with the warm smell of wood smoke and the sharp tang
Berkoff, purveyor of
ArtofF artefacts and pograp shrines for the newly-converted, was wandering
through the crowd. He whistled through the gap in his teeth and yelled:
"pograp! ArtofF! Buy your pograp cakes he-ere; come and buy, ArtofF!"
Steam rose from his
tray, heady with the thick aroma of spice and warm buns. Each doughy
lump dripped with green icing through which a rough P or A emerged in
raisins. A sign depended from the tray: "Berkoff's Cakes; Get God's
Thumbprints Inside You."
The gods had scavenged
a small fire of their own, in a corner of the square. They had brought
their special kettle along; as Min had said, "Is cold. We mull wine;
we get warm, yes?" The kettle started to fizz and bubble. It had mellowed
The copper figure no
longer appeared to kneel; he lounged back on his haunches and supported
himself on hands braced back against the warmth. The mouth-spout was
now an impish grin, and every so often a sound emerged which was suspiciously
like a belch.
A woman nearby nudged
her neighbour. "Get a load of that," she said. "I could 'a' swore the
thing winked at me!"
Her friend turned to
look at it: "Ugly lookin' thing."
"Looks a bit like the
Flick lad, eh?"
"What, young Jerry?"
The woman considered the kettle for a minute. She shuddered artistically.
"I dunno. Did you hear, he's scarpered?"
"Ay. Heard his ma the
other day - ravin' on about how he's pissed off with her pawn money.
She won't half cop him one when he turns up."
They shook their heads
and sighed. The inquisitive one glanced at the kettle again: "That thing
do look awful like the Flick lad, though, don't it?"
They looked at each
other, and turned their backs on the fizzing kettle. "Nah," said her
Bryarus looked around.
He craned to look over the heads of the crowd, and then wandered around
the fire. He watched Min ladle steaming wine into mugs for them all;
the sweet scent of cinnamon rose up his nostrils. "Didn't Olwyn say
she'd come?" he asked.
The god looked up from
his task. "Beautiful priestess? But, of course. Will come, bring `Cordial'."
Bryarus frowned. "She's
not your priestess, for heaven's sake," he snapped.
Min grinned and shrugged.
"She make no objection. Is superb." He kissed the tips of his fingers,
and spread them to the night in an ecstasy.
"Does she know
what a priestess of the fertility god is supposed to do?"
Min chuckled. "Truly,
no. But maybe later..." His eyes twinkled, and Bryarus' frown deepened.
A huge bat flapped down
out of the air and swirled into woman's shape. Drivula said, "Hi, fellas,"
and sidled up to them, wiping her lips. She wore her cloak close around
her body, but when she slid against Bryarus, he could feel the warm,
firm softness of her. He gulped. The fire reflected from her eyes, which
were deep with the night; they gazed into his. Bryarus felt various
parts of himself throb.
Then she opened her
mouth to speak, and the sickly smell of fresh blood spurted up his nostrils.
He jerked backwards and gasped: "Drivula! for heaven's sake - what have
you been doing?" He glanced around wildly, his mind cringing from an
inward vision of bodies littering the field, and was only partially
reassured to see the crowd still jostling and laughing around the bonfire.
Drivula hunched a shoulder
and started to pick her teeth. "You do fuss so. Ain't you ever
eaten a `rare' steak?"
Cicely walked past with
Arkwright, who was expounding in a monotone. A few words wafted toward
Bryarus: "...Maximum profit on the saltpetre used. And of course, the
sparklers can be sold at-"
Bryarus grinned. "Hi,
Cicely; having fun?"
She frosted him with
a glare, and then turned the ice on Berkoff, who had materialised beside
"pograp! Try my Thumbprints..."
Bryarus' party were all looking at Berkoff's wares with varying degrees
of interest. All except Drivula, who was looking at his tightly-jeaned
crotch in disbelief.
Bryarus hurriedly bought
a few of the hot, green-smeared objects. He put his change back in his
pocket, and stroked the comforting lump of geode. "How's business-,"
he bit into a cake, and his teeth stuck together; "-mmm-mmff?" he finished.
"Oh, fine," Berkoff
flung back over his shoulder; "selling like hot-cakes. Hey! Who the
heck is that?" his eyes goggled, and Bryarus turned to look.
A naked man, wearing only spectacles, boots, and a wild-eyed expression,
was running through the crowd and gesticulating. He headed straight
for Cicely and Arkwright with his arms outstretched toward them. He
mouthed a plea; then, he disappeared.
"Wow!" breathed Nephthys;
her eyes flashed blue. "Shame he left..."
"I say, who was that
then?" Arkwright was frowning at Cicely.
"Arkwright! How would
I know? If you think that I'm in the habit of looking at naked men-"
said Cicely, her face the colour of beetroot.
Drivula giggled. "Maybe
it was Guy Fawkes, come to haunt us all."
"Well, I don't know,"
said Isis, her brow puckered with serious concentration. She turned
to Cicely, "was Guy Fawkes circumcised?"
Cicely made little strangled
noises. "Disgusting!" she finally managed. She glared at Bryarus, and
turned to Arkwright. "Take me away from these - these - oooh!" She grabbed
her fiancÚ's arm and propelled him away.
Bes blinked. His bulging
eyes glanced from Cicely's retreating back, to Bryarus. He shook his
head and his beard bristled. "I'd look out, if I were him," he murmured
to Ra; "that woman oozes hate. If looks could kill..."
Bryarus shrugged. He
looked around the square again with restless eyes, and started to pull
at his lower lip. Djehuti was peacefully soaking up mulled wine, but
he noticed the other's disturbance. The god leaned over toward Bryarus.
"Is -ah- something troubling you?" he asked.
"Olwyn. I'm afraid something
may be the matter," said Bryarus; "she's been having all this `poltergeist'
trouble..." Drivula was speaking to Min at the other side of the fire,
but she looked toward them with a frown. She thought for a moment and
then she slid closer to Min and whispered in his ear. He grinned and
nodded, and she chuckled; the sound of a lorry-load of gravel falling
down a treacle-lined chute. It bothered Bryarus.
Djehuti was speaking:
"Well -ah- why not speak to the -ah- priest - your vicar? Is this not
his -ah- province?"
Bryarus' face broke
into a smile. "Of course! Why didn't I think of it? Is he here?"
would have been delighted at his concern. She had intended to come to
the bonfire. She had been looking forward to it. She'd arrived home
from work, sticky and tired, and had stumbled up the dark communal staircase;
past the bathroom, complete with its chipped enamel and someone's washing
drip, dripping into it. She had felt her way past the toilet, from which
came the gut-wrenching sounds of the stair's drunk being sick again.
She closed her eyes; her stomach heaved as she recalled evenings when
she'd had to wipe the seat clean. It had always looked like diced carrots
in a goo of bile, some of which had clung persistently; and the smell
- so sharp, she could almost taste it, still.
But now, she thought
as the spray from her newly personal shower sparkled against her skin
and invigorated it, now she had this. All to herself. Clean, fresh,
scented with rose-petals and jasmine...
The walls, covered with
purple fur as waterproof as an otter's, were soft and warm to busy elbows
or knees; Olwyn had grown used to the gold dragon's- head taps, and
no longer shrank away when they opened and closed their mouths. She
simply offered her body to them, arms outstretched, and they played
a symphony of water-needles over her, soft, then hard, then soft again.
When her skin vibrated and glowed with sensation all over, the soap
dispenser slid a jasmine-scented bar into her hand; she slowly lathered
silken swirls over her whole body.
By the time the dragons
had rinsed her and she had enveloped herself in the fluff of a towel,
she was feeling totally relaxed. Which made it all the more frustrating
when she could find no clothes in the whole flat.
she raged, stamping around the place. She shook her fists in the air
and then quickly brought them back down as the towel began to descend
and the doorbell rang.
She looked through the
spyhole; it was Min! "Oh, thank heaven!" she said as she flung open
the door and stood back.
Min's eyes widened.
He gazed at the knotted towel which highlighted the faint dusting of
freckles on her skin, and smiled. "Is help you need, sweet priestess?
I come to your call." He raised her hand to his lips. "Ah! Jasmine!
Scent of beauty and mystery..."
"Yes, well I'm sure
you're right;" she said, removing her hand from his and leading him
through the flat, "the trouble is, you see, my clothes." She flung out
an arm to indicate the empty wardrobe.
Min's left leg bulged
to a ripping sound, and a look of agony crossed his face. He doubled
up. "Excuse," he gasped, and turned his elegant back. He did frantic
things with his pants.
Olwyn tapped her foot
and frowned; this problem of his always surfaced at the wrong time,
she thought. He swung round again. "Whew," he grinned. "Now, your problem
- is something I can do." He shrugged out of his jacket and moved toward
her. He gazed into her eyes, and reached his arms around her. He enveloped
her shoulders with the jacket, stroking each one and murmuring: "Beautiful
priestess. So soft; so smooth." He lifted her chin and kissed the tip
of her nose. "Is belt you need also, no? Here, this will make one good."
He began to loosen his tie.
The doorbell rang.
Olwyn flushed. She dashed
to the peep-hole and squeaked with pleasure. "Heavens! It's everyone!"
She danced up and down as she opened the door. "Hi! And I thought I
was going to have to miss it all!" she laughed in delight.
Bryarus looked at her
- towel askew, jacket half off - and at Min's dishevelled state, and
frowned. "Min!" he accused.
The god shrugged and
twinkled at him, winking at Drivula who hovered behind. The Reverend
Willey averted his gaze and coughed politely. "Um, my dear fellow, do
you think we should..." The twins thrust him forward, through the doorway,
and piled in after him.
"Oh Min," said Isis,
looking at his trousers, "do you need a hand?"
Willey got out his book
and his bottle of holy water. "It is an exorcism for a poltergeist,
I take it, dear lady?" he said to Olwyn with a slight bow.
"I think so," she said,
and then she caught sight of Drivula's smirk.
The vicar began to read
from the book, and flicked some water toward the fireplace.
"That does it," a reed-like
voice shouted. A damp Failey Fwich stormed out from behind the coal-bucket,
wiping his eye. "And now, you're after flinging the water at me, are
you? Not satisfied with throwing cats and frogs at me, to be sure. Well,
madam vampire, the Fwich resigns."
Min looked at Drivula,
whose face was split in a grin, and at Failey. He shook his head and
slipped out to the kitchen.
Bast, sphinx-like on
the sofa, opened her eyes wide. So the cluricaun's job was finished,
eh? Well then, that meant the WACERFOU contract was voided. She purred
and thumped down onto the ground.
Failey tore his cap
off his head, flung it on the ground and jumped on it.
Then he toppled slowly
over. Bast had turned him to stone.
Drivula produced a drop
of life-gunk from her phial, and he sprang back to his feet, spluttering.
"A leprechaun?" said
Olwyn. She shrank back from his glare.
"Leprechaun, is it!
Hah!" His face was as red as his cap, and he shook his fists at everyone.
"And you wouldn't be knowing a cluricaun when you see him, would you?
No shoddy workmanship from us; 'tis shoes we make, not leaky,
Bast glared at Drivula
and turned Failey back to stone.
Drivula grinned and
gunked him again.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Fwich-"
Olwyn could have saved her breath.
"Damn you all-"
"WACERFOU does little
for us cluricauns-"
"Stop doing that!"
he finally managed to shout at Bast, who gazed up at the ceiling.
Min reappeared, a jug
in one hand and a few glasses in the other. "Is `Cordial'," he whispered
to Bryarus; "we make him happy, yes?"
Bryarus nodded. He nudged
Olwyn and handed her a full glass, jerking his head toward Failey.
"-'tis at times like
these that we find discrimination amongst brothers, even- eh? Wine?
Well I don't mind if I do, thank ye."
He took a deep swig
and breathed a sigh. "Ah the smell, the smell; 'tis like an echo of
the true heather beer." He took another gulp and rolled his eyes at
Olwyn. "Well perhaps 'tis not all your fault." He gazed thoughtfully
at the bottom of the glass, and Olwyn re-filled it. "Why thank you,
thank you," he said and squinted up at her. "Mind, you could be doing
with some advice in your dress. Tell you what. You take me on as valet
and we'll forget the whole thing." He fell over and snored loudly.
his claws and looked hopeful. "No, Coddy!" Olwyn yelled, seeing him
lash his tail and crouch for the spring. Bast cuffed what there was
of his ear and then licked it.
Nephthys put her head
on one side and looked at Bast with narrowed eyes. "Getting a bit fat
aren't you, Bast dear?" she said. Bast glared at her.
Bryarus looked curiously
at Drivula. "How come there's always some goop in that phial?" he asked.
an airy, echoing barn a few hundred miles away, a sculptor looked with
longing at a small, round stone on a bench. Just one small tap, he thought,
just to get the symmetry perfect. He wouldn't crack it open...
He placed his chisel
against the geode, and gave it the lightest of knocks with his hammer.
A "Pop" sounded beside
"Aha!" said the squat,
shrivelled man who appeared. His huge feet stank something rotten. "Haroon
has you now, O Watts and spawn of Watts!"
"Eh?" said the sculptor,
and Haroon sighed.
"I said," he spoke slowly
and loudly, "I have you now, O Watts and spawn-"
"Just a minute. I beg
your pardon, but you didn't. You said something about maroon, or a prune,
or something. `A prune has you now-'"
"What? What?" the little
man stamped his blistered foot, and yelled: "Ow! Do not think you can
escape thus, O mortal! I have come to seal your fate; prepare to meet
thy doom, O Watts and spawn of-"
"My name isn't Watts."
"What?" "No, nor Watt.
Watch my lips," it was the sculptor's turn to speak slo-owly; "not
Watt, or Watts."
Haroon snatched the
grubby shemag off his head, and flung it on the ground. He jumped on
it. "Ow! Bloody WACERFOU, leading me up the gum tree without a paddle-"
sat at home, alone in the dark. She was steaming gently to herself and
twisting a large handkerchief between her fingers. Arkwright had taken
her home and had left without a kiss or a caressing word. He had been
cool. There had been signs of it for the past few days; a broken date
here and a plea of business there. A dry sob racked her body.
What could she do? It
was Bryarus, she thought with a vicious twist of the handkerchief. Bryarus
and his dreadful friends, and that appalling museum. Perhaps Arkwright's
last idea was worth trying; Mr. Barney thought it would work. But that
wouldn't get rid of them, as well.
She closed her eyes.
She couldn't bear to lose Arkwright, she thought; all that prestige,
all those investments! Half of them could be hers - or even all of them
if he were to die. After the wedding, of course.
What if Bryarus
were to die? Oh, if only he would. She twisted the handkerchief one
more time; it was tight, tight as a rope, and her hands held it like
bangs and crashes of a dying Guy Fawkes night were a genteel distance
from Upper West Postleton. Emily Effingham-Luton was going to bed. She
paused by her husband's bedroom door.
A yell hurled itself
from his bathroom, followed by a string of curses. They rapped out clearly,
even through two closed doors. Oh, dear, thought Emily. She pushed the
bedroom door open, and called out: "Jarrold, dear? What is it?"
He erupted from the
doorway opposite, naked in a cloud of steam, and stood waving a bar
of soap in one pudgy hand. His chins wobbled, and the effect rippled
down his hairy paunch, but Emily didn't notice. Her gaze riveted itself
to the damp darkness around his genitals. "Oooh," she thought. She licked
her lips. It had been a long time; he was such a beast, but-
"Bloody rats!" He interrupted
her thoughts, "even eating the bloody soap. You have to get rid of them,
woman! Well? Well? Do you hear me?" He flung the soap back into the
bathroom and began to dry his legs.
She sidled through the
door. Her heart was thumping. Tiny jabs of excitement ran up into her
stomach, and she couldn't take her eyes off that waggling little pendulum
of flesh. "Yes, dear," she said, "we are trying, truly we are. We've
tried everything. I wonder... Well, Olwyn was saying that Bryarus -
Mr. Watts - is working on a special mousetrap. Something to do with
pyramids... If only we had professionals in Postleton." She shrugged
her blouse off and slid the skirt down her slender legs. "I've seen
them, you know; they're almost tame, one of them is bright puce, never
seen anything like it - have you, dear? - it's huge, and it takes
food right from under our-"
"Puce? What nonsense."
He looked up from the task of tying his pyjama-trousers over the expanse
of his paunch. "What do you think you're doing, woman?" He waved a hand
at the door. "Losing your memory as well, now? This isn't your bedroom.
Get out!" She clutched her brassiere, a frilly, gossamer message of
hidden desire, to her slim chest. The blood thundered in her ears. "I
just wondered... It's a long time since we-"
"What? What? You actually
think I want that scrawny body of yours tonight? Grow up, for heaven's
sake." The fire of shame flared up her body from thighs to face. Her
eyes sparkled with tears. "But Jarrold, I'm your wife!"
"Yes? Well, I
call the shots around here."
He flung her out of
the room and slammed the door. She stood naked, still clutching the
scrap of lace, and shivered. She was pale as ice.
next morning, the mists of dawn swirled darkly around Postleton West.
Three bin-men clustered, bug-eyed, around their dust-cart. "What the
hell is it?" whispered one.
"God knows," his mate
replied, "I must be dreaming."
A dustbin was rolling
up the road toward them. Khepri pushed it.
"You ever see that movie
- the one about insects taking over the world, and they, like, farm
people?" hissed the third man.
Three bin-men yelled
lustily and legged it down the street. Khepri rolled the dust-cart after
Bryarus peered out at
the cacophony of bins and yells. "Ra," he said, rubbing sleep from his
eyes, "you're going to have to do something about that stupid beetle.
Find him something else to roll about, for heaven's sake."
Ra looked up at the
sky and hummed to himself.