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

Chapter 23.

Olwyn hunched on a squashy cushion beside Bryarus, on his floor. She kept running her fingers through her hair; she chewed her lower lip, and gazed at the books scattered around her. Djehuti and Bes sat cross-legged, browsing through the pile which they had brought from the museum. Isis and Nephthys were sprawled out on their stomachs, leafing through a couple of the tomes. Isis looked up when Olwyn sighed, and said: "We do have to find the best wording, you know. So far there's only this one, with a puzzle to be solved."
        Olwyn gulped, and wailed; "A puzzle! I'm hopeless at them. And there's so much to remember about the ritual. Then, too, this bit about a camel; where would we get one?"
        Bryarus whispered in her ear: "Don't worry. Remember how much damage there'll be if you don't try." He became lost in thought: "Of course, I suppose there'll be even more damage if you get it wrong..." Her eyes dilated at him. He realised his mistake, and hurried on: "but don't worry!" He mopped his brow.
        Min grinned at him. The god hunkered down beside Olwyn, and patted her hand. "Is heavy; but we all help. We make it most simple possible, yes?" He looked around, and everyone nodded.
        Olwyn shook back her heavy hair, sat up, and seized her notebook. "Right," she said. "First of all, I have to stand as close to the Gate as I can. I must wear a flowing robe of pastel yellow - why yellow?"
        "Is pure fire of sun."
        "Oh. Well, then, Failey will sort that out; and Bes, you'll see to the purifying oils for my body?" He nodded and she ticked her pad. She muttered as she continued down the list. "...Camel. Does it really have to be a camel?
        "Well..." the twins looked at each other. "I suppose we could use a rat. It wouldn't be so grand, but- oh, thanks, Boozo." The drinks cabinet was jingling contentedly around the room, dribbling into everyone's glasses.
        "...Rat," Olwyn wrote, "and then there's the cauldron. `To hold, within, an aeon of time' - what on earth does that mean? Just, like, that it's got to be big? What about your kettle?"
        Ra cackled. He sat in the corner, throwing cough-drops for Uraeus to field. The snake snapped them up contentedly. "It'll have been purified by fire often enough; the whole thing looks relaxed and happy, these days." He thought for a moment and scratched. "Too relaxed, perhaps. Everything falls out when it whoops and lies out flat."
        Olwyn was struck by a thought. "Djehuti, how quickly shall I know if the spell has worked?"
        "Well -ah- immediately, I suppose."
        "But, how? If everything goes all weird anyway, how can I know if the world is exploding or not?"
        Djehuti rubbed his beak. "Ah, I see what you mean. Yes. There will be -ah- indications; for instance, the corruptions will drain away into the -ah- circle. Yes, I think -ah- that is the best-"
        The doorbell rang, and muffled voices sounded in the hallway. Cicely's was raised in annoyance. "Oh, Bry-arus," she yelled up the stairs, "Mrs. E-L doesn't seem interested in talking to me. She's after one of your friends." The sitting-room door slammed shut on the last word; Bryarus and Min looked at each other, and hurtled out to the landing. Emily stood below, straining to see up the stairs. Worry-lines deepened in her forehead, and a large, squashed case lolled against her leg.
        "Priestess!" Min bounded down the stairs and swept her into his arms. Her case collapsed with a bang, and flew open; Emily laughed and cried as they shovelled wisps of silk and satin back in. Min escorted her up the stairs, his arm tight around her shoulders. "Is my new priestess," he said happily to Bryarus.
        His host coughed delicately. "Has she been, er, initiated yet...?"
        Min nuzzled the top of her head: "Soon, soon," he said.

G. Barney, of the well-known firm of solicitors and estate agents, quivered and thought hard. Young Luton wasn't going to like the news, one little bit. He wondered for a minute whether it was possible just not to tell the poor fellow; perhaps a trip to the Bahamas would be beneficial to the health. Then he sighed. He straightened his waistcoat, took off his glasses and polished them with a snowy handkerchief; he mopped his brow, took a deep breath, and picked up the phone.
        "Ah, Jarrold?" he said, and then paused as a sentence staccatoed down the line. "No, no, dear boy, I mean, yes, we have been looking into the matter - Yes, it does at first glance appear to be a definite breech of the original terms of use of the building, but it may not be so simple. There are grounds for considering the filming as part of the educational process - Well, of course we are looking at every angle. I know what that museum means to you, but you wouldn't wish to move outside the law, would you?"
        He held the phone away from his ear, but the words "-Pompous law-talk - demolish that place if I have to-" could have been heard in the next room.
        He winced. Perhaps he should just forget... No, he had to tell the poor boy. He shouted across the flow: "Jarrold, there's something you really ought to know. No, it's not about this case. It's about your wife; yes, yes, I know she's my cousin. But I've just seen her off my premises, and she's just made a deed of gift."
        "What?" bellowed into his ear, and then there was nothing but heavy breathing. The voice calmed. "All right; how much, and who to?"
        Barney cleared his throat: "Ahem. Everything she owns, dear boy; to charity. Even the house..."
        There was a squeal, and then a triumphant laugh. "She can't throw me out of the house. I know that; I'm her husband, for Heaven's sake!"
        "Well, actually, all you have is the right to live in it, if you look closely at the contracts. For life, of course. However, you will now have to share it with a charity and research conglomerate for exotic plants; especially orchids..."
        "Aaaargh - aga-" E-L fought for breath. "Plants! She knows how I hate the monsters! How can she fill up our home with - God, but I'll give her a beating when she gets back; I'll have her back round there in a moment, to change things. Hang onto that deed, don't let it go-"
        Barney's brow puckered in concern. "Actually, I thought you knew; she has left you, dear boy. This will have to go through; I have no choice. There were witnesses, you know." He jumped as the phone crashed down in his ear.

At the other end of the dead line, a directorial thundercloud drummed his fingers on his shit-covered desk. Stupid bitch, he thought. He'd fight it - my God, he would. And as for that damned Dwish company, he'd break it from end to end. He picked up the phone and jabbed at the dial. "Hello? Get me Jaawdown. No, dammit, the man himself. He's my M.P, and I want him. That's right."
        There was a pause. He drummed his fingers some more, and then his scowl lightened. "Jaawdown? Right. We have a problem, here, in Postleton; an anti-government riot brewing. What? Yes, the museum; bloody aliens. Bomb the hell out of them. Yes, yes, that's what I'm saying - it's getting out of hand. Okay, you're welcome."
        E-L put the phone down and rubbed his hands together; then he grimaced, and inspected them with distaste. Rat-shit, dammit, all over them.

Twenty miles away and a few hours later, a crowd of military personnel blew on their fingers and listened to Cragblatt's voice boom: "-fine body of infantry. Now the politicians have come to their senses. It's your turn. For the good of the universe, for the good of mankind, we're going to bomb the balls off those aliens. Now then. Where is the tank regiment?"
        The colonels shuffled their feet and looked at each other. One of them coughed, and glared at a major; the major said: "We're a bit short of machines. The recent cutbacks..."
        Cragblatt looked him over. "Well? Where are they? Do we or do we not have a battalion, at least?"
        The major shook his head.
        Cragblatt's voice echoed off the furthest hills: "Do we have any tanks?"
         "Oh, yes, sir," the major nodded vigorously, "it's over there, sir."
        Cragblatt looked at the sagging heap of metal plates, and steam came out of his ears. He breathed heavily. "Cutbacks! Hah!" he barked at last. "Well," he went on, "can anyone work the thing?"
        A hand shot up from among the ranks, and waved eagerly. The general frowned. "Yes, Corporal?"
        "Me, sir, I can, sir, I'd like to; I wanna kill, kill, stomp, maim, kablooie..."
        Cragblatt beamed. "Okay, boy, you're our man. Right, will a volunteer step forward, to take the gun alongside this fine man?"
        The whole company shuffled back, exposing the rumpled form of young Private Alfson. He leaned on his rifle, helpless in a fit of sneezing.
        "Good. I'm glad to see that one of you has backbone. Private!"
        The young soldier looked wildly around, and then stood to attention. "Yessir."
        "Are you ready to kill for your country?"
        "Yessir. Killsir. Domybestsir. Aaachoo-sir."
        Cragblatt's face creaked into a smile. "Good lad. Now, get into that tank, you two. Get the men fell in, - move it!"
        In the next field, a helicopter whirred into life. "Okay, George, the general's given the order; get this thing off the ground. Yahoo!"

Christmas Eve dawned clear; rose hues tinted the horizon. Bast's three kittens sat by Olwyn's pool. They were perfect miniatures of their mother, with their tails tucked tidily around their paws. They watched the frogs, with big round eyes.
        Codswallop crashed in through his cat door with hoar-frost spangling his coat. He shook himself and looked with mild reproof at Bast, who rolled skittishly in the centre of the sitting-room and yowled an invitation. He sniffed; ooh, yes, there was that special tang of wild sensuousness in the air. He felt something stir in his loins. He sprang toward her, and grabbed her by the neck...
        The kittens watched. Their eyes grew rounder. Olwyn danced out of her bedroom, and fell over the cats. "Really, Coddy; Bast; in front of the children!" She gave a twirl in her yellow robe. "It's great, Failey; thanks! Well, I'm off. Wish me luck for later." she strode toward the door, and nearly tripped over three balls of fluff who streaked past her. Binky, Mitten and Squiff sat in a tidy row again and gazed up at her, whiskers and bat-huge ears straining forward. Bast clawed up onto her shoulder and purred in her ear.
        Olwyn frowned, and then shrugged. "Okay, but you'll have to stay with Gertrude."
        The car shivered with delight when the kittens bounced around on her upholstery; she skittered sideways, gave a winter-morning cough, and pranced to Postleton West. That was where she took Olwyn first, on any trip. It was a long way round to go, say, to Bertha's, but Olwyn had long since resigned herself. Gertrude always remembered that the Watts' house was where she had first tasted the delicious, fizzing-blue bucket of "fuel". She was a hopeful little car. Today, she was also a lucky little car; she crept around the side of the house and, sure enough, there was Bonasus slurping up cordial.
        Bryarus let Olwyn and Bast in, still growling at a letter which he had just opened. "Hi," he said, and gave her a pre-occupied peck on the cheek, "look at this! How can they be so blind, so paranoid? They really are going to bomb my beautiful museum, and this is all the warning I get: `Please empty the premises of personnel by 17.00 hours tonight. A military offensive will be launched against the invaders after that time, and no safety can be guaranteed to person or property. By order of the War Office.' Well, damn the War Office!"
        Olwyn's hand flew to her cheek. "Oh!" she said, "Oh, heavens - do we have time?"
        "Is plenty of time," Min's voice called from the landing. "But now - come, see who has come, just in time to fight."
        Olwyn climbed the stairs, to be met by a huge serpent. She gave a squeal of delight, and flung her arms around his water-weed covered head. "Apep! Oh, how nice it is to see you. Did you have a good time? Have they told you-"
        "Yess; ssuch a lot of fuss!" Apep wriggled back into the room, and took another gulp at his bowl of Cordial. "Gwendoline - ah, sshe wass sso ssweet; but, thiss - thiss is ssuperb. And, I yearn for change; perhapss I sshall find my Ssheila..."
        "Oh, Bast, what is it? What's the matter?" Olwyn became aware of the softness of Bast, whose body wove in and out between her legs. The green-gold eyes were staring up, fixed on Olwyn's face.
        Isis looked up from her book, and said: "It's just her way of saying good-bye."
        Olwyn gasped. "Good-bye? But why? What have I done? Where is she going?"
        Isis laughed, and uncurled herself from her cushion. "It's nothing you've done; she just has to go. Look at this," she got down a book on generic origins, and pointed to one page; "see? Where it says: `No evidence has yet been uncovered as to the mysterious origins of the domestic cat...' Bast has to go back and do some Creating, that's all. She'll go on the back of one of the time-lines that'll be whipping around this evening."
        "But how will she manage? She doesn't Create like Ra, or..." Bast gazed at her and purred. "Oh. That was Coddy's little contribution, today, was it? I see. But Bast, what about your babies? They're still tiny."
        Bast wandered over to the window, crouched on the sill and looked down; the others squinted out, too. Below them, Bonasus slurped from his bucket; Gertrude sucked through her tube tentacle, and Cronspyke munched at parcels of Bombe Surprise. The kittens skittered around, playing hide and seek through the little car's windows and under her upholstery. Gertrude purred, and lifted the tube occasionally to stroke them. Bast's whiskers quirked.

Dusk merged with the gloom of gathering clouds, as the Black Maria thundered through the town, on its way to save a universe or two.
        Cicely ambled listlessly through the fairy-lit streets; the jollity of the season was lost on her. She drooped heavily before glittering windows of fashion, and scowled at the industrious shop-assistants within. They were hectically re-furnishing their displays for the January Sales.
        Bes saw her and tutted to himself; he hated to watch depression. And somebody really was going to have to do something about this woman's constant sniping. He jumped out of the Black Maria. At that moment, Cambider's menswear was the recipient of her frown, and the window-dresser (Daniel) got the double-barrelled scowl right between the eyes. He jerked backwards, knocked over a couple of the mannequins which he had been undressing, and sat on a pile of boots.
        Bes shook his massive head and strode into the shop. In the window, he wandered around amongst the nude plastic models, and examined them carefully; he chuckled to himself. The manufacturers were obviously sticklers for accuracy.
        "Hey!" said Daniel, struggling to stand up, but Bes ignored him. The god selected a fine specimen, clad as yet in nothing but a handsome smile, spectacles, and heavy boots. Lightning movements of the hand and life-gunk phial followed, and the plastic turned to moving flesh. Bes looked at Cicely, through the glass, and saw her mouth form a perfect "Oh!" She was riveted.
        "Hey!" Daniel repeated, "what do you think you're doing with that dummy?"
        The naked man turned to him with raised eyebrows and said: "Who is it that speaks to Pierre like this?" Then he frowned and indicated his surroundings. "But - what is this place? I have a vision, very strange, that already I have been here many years. But how can this be?" his hand went to his forehead.
        Bes said: "Well, bucko, you've been plastic for quite a while; I just brought you to life."
        "Ah! My father! I embrace you!" Pierre grabbed his shoulders and planted a kiss on each round cheek.
        "Yes well," Bes retreated quickly, "I needed you for a reason-"
        "Anything!" Pierre threw his hands in the air. "For my father, I travel the world. I gather hidden marvels from the East, or slay dragons from the West. Speak! What is it you wish of your son?"
        "That's dandy, thank you, but it's nothing as great as that. You see that woman - over there, through the window?" Cicely's mouth still hung open. There was a vague expression in her eyes, as though she thought she knew Pierre but couldn't quite place him.
        He looked at her statuesque form with puzzled eyes and nodded.
        "Well, Son, all I want is for you to sweep that lady off her feet and become her mate. Take her away." "Mate? You would say a marriage, yes?" Pierre backed away, his hands flapping feverishly in front of him. "But non non, anything else, my father. But marriage; so soon, when I have as yet tasted nothing of life? And with such as her - so large, so... So... Ah, non..."
        Bes scowled. "I'd fix it with Djehuti, you'd get riches beyond your dreams; riches of the gods-"
        Daniel staggered to his feet and cleared his throat: "Ahem. Pardon me, but, you say `riches';-"
        Pierre's eyes searched for an escape route. "Ah, non!-"
        "-do you mean real riches?-"
        Bes ignored Daniel. "Now, Pierre, it's not much, you can travel later. In fact, that's the whole point; I want you to take her away. Far away."
        "Ah non; I want to taste life!"
        Daniel indicated the watching woman "-just for marrying that-"
        "Look, Pierre," Bes was patient, "you wouldn't have a life to taste if I hadn't given it to you."

Cicely's mouth closed. Her mind was in turmoil; such a disgusting sight, naked people cavorting like that. But, oh my, she couldn't wrench her eyes away from Pierre's tight buttocks. They rippled so with his efforts to climb the wall.

Go on to Chapter 24
Book of Watts and the Dwat
Copyright Carolyn Horn 1993
All Rights Reserved