of Watts and the Dwat
Copyright Carolyn Horn 1993
All Rights Reserved
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
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,
"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.
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.
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,
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.
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
Cragblatt looked him
over. "Well? Where are they? Do we or do we not have a battalion, at
The major shook his
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.
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!"
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 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
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
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
"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.
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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.