of Watts and the Dwat
Copyright Carolyn Horn 1993
All Rights Reserved
Blott, Susie's husband and an amateur astronomer, hummed to himself
on this clear, frosty evening as he unpacked his new telescope. It was
better than anyone else's in the whole of Postleton; he'd paid for it
to be so. Ah, he thought, it was worth the money. Oh yes. This was one
in the eye for old Jonesey down the road. Humdehum-hum... Well, let's
start with the easy stuff; how's the moon doing? He swung the tube toward
the thin crescent; it was just possible to see the faint outline of
the rest of the circle. Perfect, he thought. And then his back tensed.
He stood upright and frowned at the instrument, shook it slightly, and
put his eye back to it.
"Dammit!" he shouted,
"A bug; a beetle inside, godammit! Bloody bad lenses - you pay the earth,
and what do you get? Beetles, crawling around inside!" He kicked viciously
at the instrument, and stormed off down the room. The telescope teetered,
and then began to topple slowly over; Cyril gasped, and shot back to
grab it. It slid through his fingers and shattered with the sound of
a hundred chimney-pots exploding.
He sat by the debris
and sobbed with fury; eventually he shuffled to his feet and went off
to pour himself a drink and watch the news. He kicked at the crumpled
instrument again, as he passed. "No bloody use, anyway. I'll get my
money back. Damn bugs," he muttered, and turned on the TV.
Channel C's news reader
was speaking to the camera, his eyes flickering as he read the cue:
"-A spokesman for the Scottish Tourist Board believes that this is a
genuine sighting, and that it will be a big boost to next year's tourist
trade..." The story came from the Eastern Highlands, where earlier that
day a man called Angus had stumbled, damp and breathless, into his small
lochside house. "Heather! Wife!" he gasped, "it's happened. At last,
lass. At last. The camera; Come-" He dragged his wife out into the misting
rain. "Over there - see it?" She shook her head, and he clicked his
teeth. "Not there, lass, there! Follow my arm. Ah! Yes, it is,
isn't it?" He lifted the camera and took careful aim.
His wife drew an ecstatic
breath. "But, Angus, 'tis not just the one. See the second one? And,
oh, Angus," she gripped his arm and wobbled it, "they're in love, do
you not see?" The camera slipped out of his hand and plopped irretrievably
into the waters.
Far out in the waters
of Loch Ness, two giant heads reared out of the water and wreathed their
necks together in a stately dance. The mist carried a deep whisper:
"Gwendoline, ah, ssweet Gwendoline..."
Angus did a little dance
The news reader cleared
his throat as archive-film views of the loch faded from the screen.
He glanced down at his notes and then back at the camera: "There has
been some disturbance among sky watchers. Astronomers throughout the
country are trying to explain a new phenomenon which has begun to manifest
itself on the moon. Some object which has the appearance of a large
beetle seems to be crawling across it. Murdo Goshawk reports from the
"Thank you. Well, the
people here agree that it has the form of a scarab beetle, and-"
Cyril Blott gave a choking
cry, and slid to his knees before the screen.
Susie yelled from the
next room: "Turn off that row, Cyril! I said, turn it off! Come
and see this." She twitched the curtains at her unlit windows. So much
excitement next door! There were bangs and crashes, and then lots of
flashing blue lights and sirens squealed up to the front gate; a great
slamming of panda-car doors, and shouts as the police - police! - went
up dear Cicely's drive. Poor darling, thought Susie, what can be wrong?
Just wait till I tell everyone! She hugged herself.
still sat in the hall. Her eyes were unfocused in a fixed stare. Every
so often she muttered: "He couldn't have. Not a cat's home. He
must be insane..."
The police had gone
upstairs to her brother's room, and were rummaging around. A yell floated
down the stairs: "Owww! Get it off! Well, make the damn thing open up
again, for God's sake. Ohhh, my finger." A few grunts and heaves were
heard, followed by the sound of tinkling glass and a relieved: "Whew.
What a suspicious bastard he is, spring-loading his drinks cabinet.
Who'd want to raid one?"
"Well you tried to,
"Shut up, constable.
Shut up." The voice was weary. "I suppose we'd better take some of these
cardboard things - and what about this powder? Okay, we'd better get
"The sister seems pretty
cut up about it, doesn't she, Sarge?" Cicely wondered dully what had
happened to Bryarus' friends. The police left without finding them;
who, after all, would think of impounding a few wall-paintings and a
pouted when the police emerged and drove off without a prisoner. Perhaps
she should let Cyril turn the television back on, she thought. And then
the Watts' house erupted. The gods came shooting out of the front door,
hooting and waving bottles of something - liquor, probably. Disgusting,
she thought with a little tremor of delight.
Cicely was yelling at
them in the most ungenteel way. "Sods!" she screamed, stamping her foot
in the doorway. "Perverts!"
"Oooh," Susie squirmed
happily, "she's swearing!"
A cabinet came rolling
out of the door and bowled Cicely over; she scrabbled to her feet and
flounced indoors, kicking the cabinet as she went. Her "guests" stood
on the lawn and sang ribald songs with wild voices. They accompanied
themselves with an uneven jangle of sticks against bottles. A few seconds
later, a large metal object was flung through the door and landed with
a loud boinggg. "Hey!" came a muffled voice from its direction. "Watch
that - I dent easy!"
"Sod off, you lot,"
Cicely shouted, "And you can take your disgusting kettle, too!" She
turned, and bashed into something large and hairy; a warm, wet object
flolloped over her ear. "Ugh! Urkle, get away, ugh..." She pushed Bonasus
away, and waved her fists at everyone. Then she ran back in, and slammed
Susie sighed. The rowdy
bunch piled into the Black Maria, which lurched down the road. A small,
graffiti-covered car had just turned the corner; it met the Maria, there
was a brief stir of chatter, and then it turned around and led the way
downtown. Susie closed the curtains, a smile on her lips. Poor Cicely,
she thought; she'd have to go round and - sympathise - tomorrow.
"All right, Cyril,"
she called out, and wandered into the next room, "You can turn it on,
now. Cyril? I said... Good heavens! What's the matter with you, then?"
Her husband sat with
his head in his hands, moaning: "My 'scope! Oh, my expensive, unique,
beautiful telescope; there wasn't a bug in the lens. Oh, my 'scope..."
Goshawk slid out from the concealing bushes of the house opposite, and
looked thoughtfully up at the Watts' building. There was a scoop here,
somewhere. Of course, he could just print "Budding Socialite Behaves
like Fishwife," but he'd get nothing more if he did. And he rather thought
there was quite a bit more to get; he'd just driven Kraphedd back to
his lodgings when that phone call had come. He'd managed to catch the
words "death penalty" and "treason", amongst others. That meant it would
He stubbed out his cigarette,
and nodded to himself. He'd met Miss lah-de-dah Watts at an Upper West
"do"; he wasn't the man he thought he was if he couldn't charm information
out of her. He set off across the road, checking first that the next-door
curtains were drawn.
the next morning, the reverend Willey received a telephone call from
his bishop's secretary. He was to go to the West Pos Hotel for a meeting.
He was flustered; she couldn't tell him what it was about, and she'd
left him very little time. He flung on his clothes, and hurried to the
rendezvous; he was panting when he arrived.
The hotel room seemed
to be full of people. Willey stopped, just inside the door, and blinked.
He recognised several of the faces; there was the ferretty Kraphedd,
for instance, and Visect with a few friends. Then there was a sprinkling
of religious leaders. He hoped there wasn't going to be a fight.
"Ah, Bingo," the bishop
came forward; "come in, do. Sit down. I'd like you to explain to us
all just what all this business is about invaders from another dimension."
Willey sat on the edge
of a hard chair, and the bishop patted his shoulder. "Come now, Bingo;
you've been paying a lot of attention to the Watts household recently.
There have been some strange happenings there and at the museum, have
"Oh, I suppose you mean
the Dwatters, your Reverence?"
Everyone in the room
sat forward. "That'll be it, Bingo. Tell us all you know."
"Well, they are the
green "posters", you know. There's a hole - or is it a gate?" He rubbed
his nose. "Anyway, they get in that way; these Egyptian god types say
there's some dimension seepage-"
"Hold it, Bingo - Egyptian
Willey nodded, and his
face grew animated. "Yes, they are wonderful people - you can learn
a lot about Egyptian mythology from them. Djehuti is really worth talking
to, he's amazingly well-read." He looked around at the shocked faces
that surrounded him. "You remember - Djehuti, god of scribes, one of
the original Demiurges? Supposed to have Created everything with his
voice? Then there's-"
"Mr. Willey!" the bishop
was horrified. "You speak of these - gods - as though they were real!"
The vicar rubbed his
nose again, and shifted his weight slightly. "Well, you see, they are
real, as people. But, well, they all come from this Dwat universe."
face twitched eagerly. "A real threat to our sovereignty. It's a bid
to take over the world."
Willey was startled.
"They don't want to rule us, you know; they just want to take a look
The bishop looked at
him with pity. "They really fooled you, didn't they, Bingo?" he said.
He turned to an assortment of religious leaders who were sitting quietly
beside him, and spoke to them. "You see, gentlemen, this is a danger
to our congregations. Now, I suggest that we burn all the poster-related
items that we can; preferably anything connected with ancient Egypt,
too. Perhaps the government may be persuaded to outlaw such things.
The public mustn't be told; we all understand that these creatures are
only aliens, but the masses may believe the `god' lies. Now then, we
His voice lowered, and
was lost in the general discussion. On the other side of Willey, who
kept trying to say "But, it isn't like that-," a group of scientific
writers were discussing the phenomenon with verve.
"If, yes, if this state
of affairs is allowed to continue, their whole universe may leak into
ours, yes, ours. And what will happen then? Why, there will be a critical
vacuum, yes, vacuum, and the universes will implode - yes, implode!"
"Nonsense, my dear Visect,
nothing of the sort. You're a drugs man; what can you know about it?
It's a universe with no volume; how can it implode? No, no. It is dangerous,
certainly, but on a psychological level; we shall all go mad with a
universe of mirages going through and around us. Have you not seen Hackett's
wonderful treatise on-"
"What nonsense! Yes,
nonsense!" Visect was jumping up and down in his chair. "Of course it
can implode. The ramifications of the side-ways flow of forces will
be especially horrific, yes, horrific. We could be flattened, yes, flattened."
"In fact," a third man
spoke up, "what will happen, you know, is that our universe will be
sucked, as it were, into theirs and squashed. Look, a diagram will show-"
Willey looked around.
His brain felt battered. He needed to go somewhere quiet; he murmured
slightly and left his seat.
A fourth voice joined
in: "Actually, the good Visect is almost correct; however, his error
is in seeing their whole universe as a two-dimensional existence. Look,
all universes have an infinite number of dimensions; in, therefore,
n-dimensional space, we have the possibility of entities who can only
detect, say, one, two, three or four of these, and yet the others will
remain. Therefore, an implosion would reverberate through the whole
fabric of the n-universes! I shall have to publish a treatise-"
Kraphedd's voice rose
above the hubbub: "No, no - there must be no publication; the masses
must be kept calm. As a last resort, to keep the peace, we may have
to, erm, explode a device over the problem area-"
A general murmur of
assent wafted after Willey as he closed the door. He mopped his brow,
and hurried to the Watts' house. There was no-one in. Really, he thought,
these friends of his would have to be warned. He'd try Miss Doorbar
Olwyn welcomed him with
warmth. "Join the party," she said. Willey gave her a weak smile, and
accepted the glass of Wych-hazel Cordial. "Thank you, dear lady," he
said, and took a hefty sip before launching into his tale.
Djehuti frowned. "The
danger -ah- is not to this universe at all. In fact -ah- the only real
problem would be caused by -ah- noise. Oscillations. Very damaging.
Your universe is -ah- full of sound; a bomb on the Gate would be an
impossible -ah- load. Well," he looked around at the gods, "perhaps
we should begin -ah- to think about this?"
Bes' beard bristled,
and his mouth opened wide in a grin. It was surprising, thought Willey
through a Cordial fug, how attractive a gargoyle could look.
The god was speaking:
"Why don't I become a foreign diplomat, and join these guys - infiltrate
their meetings? It would be some kinda fun."
Djehuti turned to him
with a nod. "Yes -ah- you could warn us of any -ah- dangerous developments."
He looked around. "Hathor could -ah- be the go-between; or Bast, perhaps?"
"Yeah, great. Well,
I guess I'd better get moving; I'll hang onto this Kraphedd guy. Cheers!"
Bes drained his glass and slipped out of the door.
far away, in the centre of lower Postleton, Dwish and Drott were becoming
a familiar sight, as they clattered their table-trolley down the museum
steps. They were now so expert at manipulating the photo-electric cells
that the machine appeared almost to be alive.
Nathan the tramp protected
his backside from the cobbles of the square with a folded blanket and
warmed his hands at the rusty old brazier while he fumbled the odd greasy
potato chip to his lips. He pulled his bobble-cap off his head, waved
it at the Dwatters, and called out: "Hey, come and share our warmth,
why don't you?" the trolley's hands pattered on the cobbles as it approached.
`How's it goin'; they shown your film yet?"
Dwish clapped the trolley's
robot hands together, and Drott rattled it around in a twirl. "Oh, it's
so exciting," the new director's voice tinkled, "It's tomorrow! I do
hope people like it. I just don't know what to do with myself..."
Nathan's eyes twinkled;
he pulled out a bottle and offered it.
"Alcohol?" said Dwish
uncertainly, "we-ell; I think I will, just this once." A robot arm reached
out, grabbed the bottle, and splashed some of the spirit onto the Dwatters.
It went limp, and Nathan caught his bottle back.
"Whew!" whooped Drott.
"A show - Let's do a
show!" Dwish said.
Nathan put his fingers
in his mouth and gave a whistle; tramps converged on the square from
the alleys nearby.
Dwish slid onto the
white chipboard. He started to pattern and swirl himself; animated graphics
which were sometimes abstract and sometimes not, but which always brought
a lump to the throat.
The tramps watched,
gasped, and passed the bottle and chip-bag from hand to hand.
the museum, Hathor sat down in the dust of the shop and pouted at Arlo.
He looked at her with glassy eyes and rubbed his nose. "You just turned
into a woman," he accused, "I saw you! Why'd you do that? Hey Tansy,"
he yelled, as that young lady walked in, "you'll never believe this..."
he looked back at Hathor and fell silent.
"Well, Arlo? What won't
I believe?" Tansy gave the woman a cool look.
"This lady here; she's..."
he gasped, and gabbled: "this is my vulture, Tansy!"
She glanced at Arlo.
"Is that all? How come it's taken you this long to find out?"
His mouth dropped open.
"You knew? Why didn't you say?"
Tansy's eyes shifted,
and she scuffed the floor with a toe. "I thought - well, you were all-over
the vulture; and I thought you'd, you know, with the woman, if
"Tansy!" He reached
a hand toward her and stroked her cheek. "I wouldn't; not with a vulture!
It's just, well, we do a great act together at the Club."
"Oh, Arlo." Tansy said
and leaned her head against his shoulder. Hathor sniffed, and flew out
of the half-open window. A fine "priest" she'd chosen! She flew high
above the town; out over the creek, toward the fields where cows grazed.
These were her people; givers of the milk of life. A man stood beside
a stile, watching the cows. His elbows lay on the wall, and he hunched
his shoulders. He looked lost and young. Hathor circled above him; he
looked familiar. And then she nodded to herself. Of course! The man
from the flying ship; her semi-initiate. She flew down behind him, and
took human form. He turned at the slight sound.
His dark brown eyes
opened wide, and he breathed: "You! It is you! Oh, lady, please..."
He spread out his yearning arms.
She drew herself to
her full height. "I am Hathor. Thou shalt be my priest; then thou canst
have a good suck." Her hand rose to her breast; his eyes followed, dilating.
He began to pant and
sweat. "Yes, yes, anything, anything!"
She swayed toward him,
and pulled his head to her; the scent of spiced honey and cream crept
up his nostrils. Soft skin caressed his lips, and he suckled eagerly.
Liquid joy poured down his throat and stirred his loins. His knees buckled;
Hathor slid him to the grass, still gathered to her breast.
He made no complaint
when she tore off his trousers.
downstream, several people festooned with clipboards, test-tubes, and
photographic equipment stood by the edge of Pos Creek, to the south
of the village. They were from the Environmental Investigation Team.
Visect had got bored with these jobs, and had delegated the latest task.
"Well, I dunno," said
one man, as he scratched his head; "I don't see any spotty frogs. Do
"Nope. Factory's clean;
water is, too. Plenty of detergent in it."
They turned to look
at the factory; it belched smoke high above them and threw the fumes
of liquefying hides and bones to the winds. The Team wrinkled their
noses and blinked. "Clean bill of health, then?"
a darkly panelled, Victorian room, somewhere in the country's capital,
Jaawdown hammered the conference table with his fist. The babble around
him died down. "The news brought by Kraphedd, here, and the illustrious
representative of our new ally," he creaked as he bowed toward Bes at
the end of the table, "is serious, gentlemen. The allegation of alien
infiltration is an enormous Danger to Our Country." His grey brows lowered,
and he smashed his fist onto the table again. "But, gentlemen, I say
but - the subject of bombs is still a serious one. The electorate tend
not to like 'em." He looked up as the door opened, and said sharply:
"Yes, very well, we'll have tea now."
The neat secretary wheeled
in a tray and served them briskly.
Everybody lifted their
cups and drank; nobody saw Bes uncork a small phial and place a drop
of gunk on the table. Nobody heard it fizz.
Jaawdown spoke again. He frowned. "As I was saying, no bombs. Kraphedd
has an idea," he nodded at the MI7 man; "perhaps you would tell us all
Kraphedd stood and cleared
his throat. "Bugs," he said; "somebody should plant bugs. We can just
sit back, listen in, and hear their secrets; plans and so on."
Jaawdown got to his
feet and said: "It's a good idea. Does everyone agree? Right; bugs it
is. Then may come the time for hard action!" He thumped the table again
and it jumped into the air, gave a scraping whinny, and reared up at
the chairman's end.
Jaawdown fell back into
his chair, goggled up at the threshing legs and fainted; Kraphedd went
white and copied him. The room became busy with men who fought their
way to the door. They piled out of it, leaving a scattering of chairs,
and a quivering, neighing table.
Bes held his sides with
mirth. He wiped his eyes at last, and began to soothe the table. He
stroked it, and murmured: "There boy, it's okay, boy. Stand, boy." It
whickered gently and stood still.
The secretary was typing
calmly as the thickset form of Bes walked by with Kraphedd over his
shoulder. She had ignored the exodus; it was nothing to do with her.
"Jaawdown's still in
there; he's fainted," the god spoke; "you'd better slosh some water
on his face or something."
"Very good sir," she
pushed her glasses back up her nose.
"Oh, and there's a highly
strung table in there. Give it a good polish; it likes that." He strode
toward the door.
"Very good sir. Will
that be all, sir?"
"For now, yes. Oh, remember,"
Bes paused by the door, "it can't stand being hit. Frightens it."
"Very good sir," she
said as the door closed.
was settling into his "dungeon". He was very impressed with his new
friends. The big puce rat - Rat-Eusos, she called herself - had taken
a fancy to him, she said. He was the one who held the Dimension-Key;
he'd helped her to get out of the gummed-up Dwat Gate.
The goddess had organised
her subjects into groups; one lot scavenged for cushions, candles and
other comforts, such as a commode. Another bunch produced food and drink,
while a third delivered messages for him.
He fingered the message
he'd received from Olwyn: "How awful for you," she'd written. "We're
going to try and do something about it; Bertha's going to look for a
spell to make people forget, but it's got to be really clever, as we
don't want everyone to just get amnesia! Ra thinks he might be able
to find something in his Egyptian magic, too, so he's gone off to the
museum to search for an old scroll. Just keep your head down. Cheers,
Olwyn." He smiled; she'd tied a bottle of "Cordial" to a tray, and the
rats had carried it back - wonderful.
"P.S," the letter continued,
"Tansy and Dwish suggested that I should get a cut of the money I got
from Channel C. I suppose they're right - it'd certainly help just now,
with me out of a job!
"P.P.S - Ra says he'd
like to at least meet his wife, Rat-Eusos, if only just for a chat about
old times. Would she, do you think?"
to that last comment had been mixed; she grumbled: "What's he want a
wife for, anyway - the old moron only ever uses his own right hand."
But there was a wistful glint in her eye.
Bryarus got out the
geode, and stroked it. There was a "Bang," and a furious-looking little
man stood before him, dressed in a striped djebba, a strip of cloth
wrapped around his head, and with tatty thong sandals on his enormous
"Aha!" he said, "At
last - WACERFOU has provided. Er - you are Watts, are you not?" Bryarus
nodded. He was bemused. "WACERFOU be praised! The Stomp Gods' revenge
is nigh; I shall stomp this scum, this seed of the wicked." He raised
his arms to the heavens and gazed up in ecstasy. Then he brought his
eyes down to Bryarus' face and said: "Prepare to meet thy doom, mortal
"Hang on," said Bryarus;
"What have I done wrong?"
"You! Hah! Are you not
the very seed which sprang from the loins and womb of they who shall
be eternally damned? Was it not the evil Watts- droppings who wiped
out our entire race of worshippers?"
"My parents never wiped
"Once, we were worshipped,
by men who made sacrifice; men who ate each other, yes, but still they
sacrificed to us." The Stomp God pointed an accusing finger. "And then,
they made the smallest of errors; they ate your parents. What then?
Bombs dropped from the sky and the Obilipo were killed, to the least
child. Prepare, foolish mortal! Haroon Jan is the avenger of the Gods!"
Bryarus watched in horror,
as an enormous foot raised itself above his head and grew even bigger...