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

Chapter 25.

A wind rose, screaming through the museum; Olwyn clung, gasping, to Bryarus; her hair whipped and blinded her. "Hold on!" Bryarus yelled; he braced himself against the sucking air. His feet began to slip on the stone. Something oily spludged against his back and slithered away; he staggered. Olwyn's hair filled his mouth. Lemons and spice; his mind skittered over the irrelevant thought.
        Steady, now, steady... He managed to jam his body against the corner, where the gale probed with less force. Olwyn was soft against his chest; he flicked her hair from his mouth and looked around as more oily, wraith-gaunt creatures slid across his back. Contorted, shifting faces leered at him and gibbered, waving furious arms as they were sucked away. The gods stood straight around the circle's edge, now, untouched by the buffeting of the wind. They stretched their arms, statue-still, and gazed unblinking toward its centre.
        A pit gaped there, wide and hungry. Formless creatures of hate and despair, dragged from their hosts, howled past on the wind. They were swirled helplessly into its green vortex.
        "What the hell are they?" Bryarus shouted into Olwyn's ear.
        "All the impurities nearby," Olwyn mouthed back, her eyes wide; "Djehuti tried to warn me, but I didn't think they'd look that awful."
        A crackling creak sounded above the battered air, and a squeal of un-oiled hinges. A roar sounded from behind the almost-visible, luminous line of the Gate: "'Tis good! Farewell, all ye who remain behind." There was a brief pause, and then a final "kthonk" reverberated through the basement, and the wind died to a murmur. One or two grey creatures greased their way hurriedly toward the rapidly-diminishing vortex of slime, pausing only to cast fearful glances around them.
        A wild cheer arose from the throats of the gods, and Bryarus stole another kiss from Olwyn. The room darkened and swayed around them. The cheer echoed on. "Hey!" a voice called, "whaddaya mean, making all that racket in here? Break it up, you lovebirds." Bryarus' eyes adapted to the gloom; he saw green-baize tables, each in its pool of light, and each with men hunched around it. One man flung down his cards and stalked toward them. "This here's a serious poker-room, bud."
        Bryarus gasped: "Fartwork - it's old J.J. himself! No, it can't be; you're dead!"
        The ex-millionaire stopped, and peered at him. "Well, by all that's holy; Monty's son! Bryarus, ain't it? So what brought you over to us? A car smash or somethin'? Hey, Monty! C'mere a minute."
        As in a dream, Bryarus saw his father move toward him. Now that his eyes were adjusted to the light, he could see the museum's basement through the bodies of the men, and he blinked.
        "What happened, son?" said Montague Watts.
        Bryarus shook his head to clear it. "Dad, I'm not dead - I don't think so, anyway. The museum was in danger, and so was Dwat, and Olwyn did a spell, and everything's gone peculiar..."
        "Hold it, son, hold it. Danger, you say? What was the problem?"
        "Well, they were going to drop bombs."
        "Bombs? On my museum?" Monty's voice rose, and a chorus of "shhhhs" hissed at him. He lowered his voice. "But you say this charming lady did something to stop it?" He lifted Olwyn's hand to his lips, and looked at her consideringly. She blushed, and he chuckled: "Little beauty! If I were only half as dead-"
        "-and not married. Dad, chuck the smooth talk," Bryarus said. He shrugged. "I don't know how long the museum'll last, anyway; Cicely keeps thinking of wonderful ways to get it bulldozed. Look, you really dropped us in it, when you died like that without a Will."
        "Tsk," Monty clicked his teeth, "I should have known. She always was a little sod." He tapped his foot. He thought for a moment, and brightened. "Well, if that's the only problem, I'll get you one right now. Hey, J.J; want to witness a back-dated Will?"
        A few minutes later, the poker-room faded away with a wave, and Bryarus stood in a daze, holding the paper which made him sole owner of the building.
        The rat sat in the middle of the dusty floor, and washed its whiskers. Then it shook the incense burner off, and scampered up the stairs.

The people outside were having fun. Happy laughter and whistles rose from the tramps and villagers.
        The helicopter became a flying bower, and the nervous pilot relaxed; he began to stroke Apep, burbling "Nice snake, pretty snake." Apep grinned and grabbed the skid. He gently dragged the machine into a field, where Khepri promptly started to roll it along. The scent of crushed rosebuds was strong. The fields were a mass of flowers; George and his co-pilot fell out of the helicopter and sat, stroking the ground.
        The military started to hop around the place; daisies and lilies sprouted from their hats and boots, and vines tickled their legs. Some just sat in a squashy heap, and happily munched ripe grapes. Purple juice ran over their chins.
        Cragblatt was shouting into the RT when a lily gobbled it up. "Get that gun going, dammit," he said, and then his voice changed; "er - that is, if you'd like to. I mean, you mayn't want to kill anything; and why should you? after all..."
        The corporal looked puzzled for a second, and then a beautiful peace smoothed the petty lines from his face. "Thank you, sir. Yes, sir. Peace and love, sir."
        "Peaceandlovesir, yessir, aaach... Sir!" Alfson lifted his hand to his large, subsiding nose, and squinted at it in wonder. "Mycoldsir! It'sgone-sir!"
        Dwish pranced about the bower which used to be a tank. He clapped his robot hands together, and then thrust them on the ground to bounce the trolley into a jig.
        "Whey-hey!" rose the yell, "let's dance!"

The gnomes peeped out from Marco's door. "Wow!" they whispered to each other. "That's some spell those gods have been doing. Look at that!"
        In the middle of the ivy-covered street, Marco had set the major gently on his feet and dusted him off; the man promptly fell over (he had fainted), onto a bed of camomile. This wasn't what had the gnomes gaping in awe; it was the sight of Marco bending down to pet a dog. Mutt couldn't believe it, either. He fainted, too. Wake me up when things are normal, he thought as he keeled over.

Pierre had had his chance. He'd been down along his time-line, and got nowhere. Here he was again, in the window, shoulders bowed. "I told you so," said Bes.
        Pierre shrugged. "So. Hope is denied me." He took a deep breath, looked at the watching Cicely, and winced again.
        "Excuse me, really; do you mean if he takes her he'll get rich?"
        The other two both noticed Daniel at last. Bes nodded.
        "Well," he cleared his throat, "I'd do it - but I mean, only if you were talking mega-rich." He looked hopefully at them.
        Bes grinned into his beard. "Mega-rich? Oh, sure," he said. "You have to sweep her off her feet and take her far away, mind..."
        Pierre grabbed hold of Daniel before he could duck, and kissed him fervently on both cheeks.
        "My saviour!" said the dummy.

The laughter and dancing from the museum street took on a wild note. The gods appeared on the steps with their instruments, and played the deep beat of a joyful heart; the flutes and reeds rose and fell, weaving an excitement into the air.
        A commotion behind them resolved itself into the form of Jerry Flick; himself again, wrapped in a rug. He bounded down the steps, his face split almost in two with a grin, and pranced confidently down the street. He looked as though he would go far. He did go far. He went to the Himalayas and became a missionary to the yetis.
        The music rose and fell; the dancing grew faster, wilder; and then the massive deluge of blue, polka-dot frogs began.
        The twins looked at each other through the amphibious rain. They nodded. They had spotted Willey down below; he'd been hovering, anxious to know the result. They marched down the steps and grabbed him. "Come," said Isis. "It is time; now you will be our priest."
        "My dear ladies," he half protested. As they led him away, he fished a few frogs out of his neckband. Then he smiled to himself, and removed the band completely.

Dr. Visect went back to his laboratory and sulked. The place was crawling with rats, now, which had followed him home. He didn't like it one bit. The proper place for them was in cages, like the ones which lined his room; or at the end of a scalpel.
        He was just getting back to work, when the doorbell rang. The postman had left a parcel for him. It was labelled: "The Perfect Mousetrap."
        "Highly recommended; one only needed, for a whole house", said the blurb inside. It was a small, cardboard pyramid. He shook it, and scratched his head. Then he shrugged, and chuckled to himself as he set it, placed it in the centre of the room, and went to bed.
        He didn't see a huge, puce rat emerge from it, and begin to direct operations...
        In the morning, there were no rats. Even the hollow-eyed ones which cringed in the cages, had disappeared. There was, however, the largest pile of rat-droppings Visect had ever seen; all over his notes and equipment.
        He threw a tantrum.

By New Years' Eve, Postleton-over-Wold had returned to normal; the military had packed up an left, with puzzled backward glances. The tank, de-flowered, rattled homewards. "What'd we want to bomb a museum for?" said the corporal, scratching his head. "Nobody to kill; all dead stuff already. What's the point?"
        "Searchmesir. Don'tunderstandit-sir!"
        "Well, it beats me."
        It beat Cragblatt, too. Load of nonsense, he thought. He'd been on the 'phone to Jaawdown, and had been told some lunatic's story. Well, he'd told them what he'd thought of them, mobilising the military for just any old hoax. Gods and aliens, indeed! Pah!

Fun-lovers were gearing themselves up to go and see the new year in at Marco's. Olwyn, in jeans and jumper, hopped into Gertrude, and said: "We're off to Marco's. Let's go." She sat back, and waited for the inevitable detour via the Watts' house.
        Bryarus was outside, and he laughed. "Looking for Bonasus, again? Well, you'll see him later." He poked his head in at the window. "Hey! your clothes - they've toned down a bit! Is Failey feeling off-colour?"
        Olwyn blushed. "No," she said, "he went off with Haroon, the other day; I think he has a new mission. Making shoes for the Gods of the Stomp."
        "Wow, that should keep him busy for a while." Bryarus paused. "But, Olwyn - you want to see something? I think you should take a look; the museum has made a donation, to the council's latest scheme."
        Olwyn looked up into his twinkling eyes, and chuckled. "Okay. Get in. Where're we going?" Gertrude politely opened a door.
        "The new roundabout; you know, the council's bypass improvement scheme?" He would say no more, no matter how hard Olwyn guessed; he just kept shaking his head and grinning.
        Gertrude's headlights finally illuminated the roundabout. There, in the middle, was a group of three granite statues. Around them were a group of men, gesticulating in argument; the archaeologists still couldn't agree. Olwyn giggled. "Bast would have been delighted," she said. "It's funny, I miss her." She turned to him, and her eyes glittered. "I miss them all. That huge flat seems empty, in spite of Coddy and the kittens."
        "Yes, I know. I miss Ra, too. The old chap came to me the other day, with his pets and Cronspyke, and said they fancied a rest - could I help them back into the fresco? Well, of course I did." He sighed, and then chuckled again. "We get quite a few Egyptologists at the museum, these days; wonder what they'll make of Cronspyke's cloak and Uraeus' cough-drops?
        Olwyn gurgled, and Bryarus pulled her to him, and gave her a long, lingering kiss. She curled up against him with a sigh, and Gertrude began to rock. He stroked Olwyn's head, and said: "Remember, Bast had a job to do. And, talking of jobs, I reckon we could make good business partners, you and I. Your booze and my pyramids - a winning combination. What d'you think?"
        "Mmmm," she said.
        Bryarus gave her a quick squeeze. "I suppose we'd better find a good salesman, though." He looked at her slyly. "What about E-L?
        She winced. "Ugh!" she said.
        He chuckled. "Did you know, by the way, the Great Man himself has come to Dwish, to beg for a cut of the action?"
        Olwyn sat up. "E-L? No!" she whispered, awed.
        He nodded. "Phelonius Televisual Productions don't seem to have the great `contacts' he thought, after all."
        "Well!" said Olwyn, and glanced at her watch. "Hey, we'd better get down to the party. Gertrude; Marco's, please."

The steam which billowed out of Marco's to greet them was a familiar mix of of grease, sweat, and mildew. The place was hooching already; the jukebox wowed its ", lo-ove..." over the chatter of excited people. Nathan and his friends wandered in and out, smuggling scraps to Mutt when Marco wasn't looking, and hunkering around their braziers with potatoes and sausages.
        Derek Hartman was squatting beside Nathan and his friends. His voice floated to Bryarus' ears: "...So the council have the right to keep the Preservation Order; there's nothing the Committee can do now."
        Nathan tested a sausage, and handed it over. "That's fine, son, fine," he said.
        Folk singers and dancers pounded away, upstairs, and a group of people gawked up at Marco's sign. An army major, chained to a pillar by a long lead, was trying to fix a new "T" in place. Every so often there would be a "chink" and a curse. At such times there was always someone below to call up a "helpful" comment. The major gritted his teeth.
        There was a cheer, as the sign finally flicked into life and glowed. A burst of clapping followed, and the major came back down the ladder with a wan smile. Marco came out to look, and put his arm around the man's shoulder. "See?" he said, "You can do electricity okay. Just need the will, that's all. Okay, Mick," he called in to one of the gnomes, "cut the chain off." He thumped the major on the back, and the man choked. "Nasty cough, that. Get you a beer."
        "Hey, Marco!" yelled someone, "I found the other record!"
        The juke-box chattered out: "Yakka-takka-toovy, groovy love; yagga-dagga-daby, baby, do-ove..."
        "I think I preferred the first one," muttered Bryarus. He steered Olwyn toward a table from which several bottles waved. He plonked a couple of jars of Wych-hazel Cordial down, on the table of gods and museum staff. The drinks cabinet tinkled over to him, and bounced around him, yipping. Rat-Eusos whiffled her nose at it. "Stupid thing," she broadcast.
        "Whoo-hoo!" cried Bes, "more of the good stuff. Great."
        Bryarus winked at Olwyn, and shouted over the din: "We're thinking of setting up in business; my pyramids, and Olwyn's cordial." He squidged into a seat. "Only trouble is, neither of us is good at selling. Any ideas?"
        At a table nearby, a man turned round. Murdo Goshawk often found that listening in to conversations was a rewarding experience. "You need someone who knows how to push things?" He slid his chair over to Bryarus' side. "I'm your man," he yelled simply. "I'm master of the media."
        Tansy waved a newspaper across the table at him. "He is, too; look at this!" It was a lurid article on a serpentile monster, spotted at sea.
        "Hey, this is colourful!" Bes was admiring, "you write it like you were there. You'll have little old ladies terrified to go to sea!"
        "`Monster', indeed," snorted Bryarus.
        He looked accusingly at the journalist, who shrugged: "I couldn't call him `Lord of darkness,' very well, could I? That would frighten people, if they believed it. Where's the snake headed, anyway?"
        "Apep?" Bes shouted over the noise, "oh, he's off to see his `sweet Sheila'. She's an Australian bunyip."
        Murdo turned back to Bryarus. "Well, I bet I can get your things sold. What are they?" He listened carefully to the description. "Hold it; isn't that the same cardboard gizmo that zapped the rats out of Visect's laboratory?"
        Bryarus looked accusingly at Rat-Eusos, who looked up at the ceiling and hummed. "Probably," he shouted.
        "That's the `angle' for the pyramids; the Perfect Mouse-trap for the Tired Housewife. Yeah, I can see it now..."
        Rat-Eusos looked up and twitched her whiskers in a grin. "Great idea," she broadcast, "good transport for us, those pyramids."
        Olwyn looked around. "Where're Min and Hathor?"
        Djehuti pointed upwards. Bryarus looked at the thundering ceiling. "Why don't we join them?"
        As they unstuck themselves from their seats, the twins entered the cafe; each hung on an arm of Bingo Willey. The vicar was rubbing his hands in glee. "My dear fellows," he mouthed, "where's the food and drink? Or, what about the dancing; shall we do that first? Oh, yes - I feel my toes twitching! come on, my dears; last one up buys the drinks..." He leapt up the stairs, deftly avoiding the missing steps.
        A silence fell on the cafe. Even the juke-box wowed to a halt.
        Someone whispered: "That guy - he was with them a week ago. He's been with them since Christmas."
        "No, I saw him, honest! They dragged him away."
        "Nah - he can still walk-"
        "Honest! I swear it!"
        Everybody craned their necks to peer up the stairs after the trio.

Min was dancing with a glowing Emily, when Bryarus and Olwyn arrived in the upper room. Emily danced up to them, and subsided, laughing, into a chair. Her eyes were shining. "Phew!" she said, tossing back her hair, "that was invigorating. Oh - has Min told you? He's going to take me travelling. Oooh... Isn't it exciting?"
        Min stood beside her and stroked her hair. "Is my priestess; Must learn everything," he twinkled.
        "That's wonderful!" said Olwyn; "where's he taking you?"
        Emily got up and whirled back into the dance. "The fourth dimension," she said.
        Olwyn blinked.
        Drivula waved at them from her seat on Gaffer Codge's lap. He looked younger, and his cackling voice sang out of tune to the beat of his cane. Every so often, he choked, and Drivula patted his back. Her voice floated over the room like treacle on gravel: "See? You did need a doctor."
        Hathor sat by the replaced window, a majestic, cow-eared figure. Ricky knelt beside her, holding her hand. His whole body was tensed, and the knuckles of his other hand whitened into a fist. "No!" His cry wafted to the others, across the room.
        Hathor said something; Olwyn could just catch "-Come back, one day." He subsided slightly, and heaved a deep sigh. She reached out and gently smoothed his hair. Her voice came strong: "...Thou art my priest." She held his head briefly to her breast, and then stood back, turned into a vulture, and flew away.
        Olwyn went over to the young man, who leaned out of the window, straining to see the last of Hathor. He turned at the touch on his shoulder, and tears streamed down his face. He caught Olwyn's hand to his eyes, and mumbled: "She's gone. She says it could be a year or more. Oh, Olwyn..."
        "Come on, Ricky. Make the most of the time; fill it with other things."
        He looked up, an arrested expression in his eyes. "That's what she said, and when I asked `what things', she said `Thou hast seeds in thy heart. Let them grow. Thou'llt do okay - thou art my priest.' What do you think she meant?"
        Olwyn shrugged. "`Do your own thing', I suppose. Think about it. But cheer up - she did say she'd be back! Come on, join the gang."
        He wiped his face and followed her. A jar or so later, he was mumbling about Homes for stray vultures or tired old lions. His eyes brightened. "A herd of cows would be nice," he said, and he wandered back to look out of the window.
        Bes had clambered onto the stage, and was drumming like mad; the room went wild. The twins joined him, with flute and sistrum, and Willey danced a jig.
        Bryarus put his hand in his pocket and felt the emptiness. He missed that geode. He sighed, and then he felt the softness of Olwyn against his arm. There could be compensations.
        Bonasus was outside with his head in a bucket, and a graffiti-covered car in the alley beside him. Boozo was dancing around upstairs and dribbling Cordial into everything.
        Ricky leaned too far and fell out of the window with a splash. "Ugh - uck!" he yelled; there was a slurping sound. Bonasus had found someone to lick. A dancing couple fell down the hole in the floor, and a yell of: "Bring up more beer!" followed them down. Things were normal again, at Marco's.
        Perhaps they were too normal. The gnome, Mick, sniffed as he handed Djehuti some beer: "It's not the same since that beetle left. Can't get the place cleaned up right; the muck crawls about too much."
        Djehuti frowned, and thought for a minute. Then he brightened, and turned to the others. His voice reverberated through the room: "There is a suitable -ah- spell. We could clean and repair this place in an instant. It is -ah- another type of purification spell; We should need our -ah- virgin..." He looked at Olwyn, and the room hushed as all eyes turned toward her.
        Olwyn looked at Bryarus, and blushed.
        "Maybe the place is just fine as it is," said Bryarus.


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