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Ogres

Not remotely proofread or finished but here to check if it’s remotely readable or funny, at all.


The Ogres ride into the township with all the grace and arrogance of the ruling classes, coaches rattling along the cobbled streets, festooned with decoration.  The jarvey, putting up the whip, draws the vehicle to a halt and the cockhorse whinnies as the carriage dogs run hither and yon.

“Settle down!” Shouts the jarvey, jumping down from her perch on high.  “Settle!”  Like the coach she is much decorated, as gentleman might be, though cut for her proportions and somewhat more closely than the equivalent.  The red of her jacket is untouched by the dust of the journey, as are her ridiculously pale trousers and shirt.  The tails of the jacket flap in the breeze, exposing the closeness of the cut of her trousers.  “Settle!  Now!”

At this exhortation, the dogs sense a certain keen seriousness in her voice, and come to the sit where they stand.  She proceeds to the door of the carriage and, reaching up, opens it.

Inside, the bulk of the occupants is apparent even though by human standards the carriage is built oversized, and thus drawn by a six and not four.  The well-appointed interior is velveted and of a deep maroon colour, buttoned and stuffed richly, and the seats, if anyone could see them, are of the finest leather.  The jarvey holds her hand out to assist the first passenger as he alights from the carriage.

This would have looked less ludicrous to any observer, and there are many in the square, if the hand were not taken by two, and only two, fingers of the person being helped, since no more could fit in the hand of the now diminutive looking jarvey.

This notwithstanding, observers can see very well that the alighting creature takes care to neither eschew the aid so extended, nor make such use of it that it might be redundantly damaging to the person offering it.  The emergent figure stands up to his full height, which at seven feet and some change, easily dwarfing[1] the tiny human jarvey.  Unlike any human being who might attain that height, the Ogre looks entirely in proportion to it, and though considerable frippery, a doublet and hose, puffy shirt, hat with a feather in it and boots that were curled at the ends, was employed onlookers had no doubt that the creature was heavily and dangerously muscled.

To compare the Ogre to the proverbial Ox would be to make said Ox pack his bags and move to another country, where such comparisons would still let the animal come off favourably in the mean-looking and strength stakes in which it had heretofore prided itself, before the arrival of such creatures into the domain in which it, the Ox, might be brunch for two instead of a steady week’s meal for fifty.  No sir, we’re leaving for a farm where there might still be one or two docile cows, and a farmer who understands the needs of an Ox, proverbial or otherwise.

For those not making that comparison, the path between amusement and fear is a tightrope act of its own making.  While the giant creature has at least the good grace to say “Thank you” in an incredibly gravelly voice that conveys undertones of conquest and the later barbequing of those so conquered, he also looks about the place absently while the put upon jarvey fetches, from the back of the carriage, a walking stick evidently made from iron or similar, as tall as the jarvey and requiring the use or two hands to get the thing off the ground.  It is topped by a large diamond which the hand of the Ogre covers immediately and completely.

Upon this stick he leans heavily, and adopts a stance of one favouring his right leg, though no injury is apparent, and bends down to the jarvey, to whisper into her ear.

Upon hearing the command given, the jarvey walks to the door of the building, around the other side of the carriage from the majority of observers, leaving the Ogre to move one step to the side and hold his hand out for the next occupant.

She; and it is a she, very definitely, because although green like all Ogres, and with the classic tooth arrangement, two incisors up and two down constantly poking between lips; she has a mass of blonde hair, clearly dyed, but fabulously arranged in ringlets and cascades, topped by a diamond encrusted circlet that is not quite a crown, but conveys the sort of royal ambitions designed to show that the wearer was deserving of the obeisance such a position customarily commands.  Her lips were painted in a shiny bright colour, but in deference to her greenness the colour is a deeper, richer green that accentuates the bow that her lips form between her fangs.

Her dress is richly fashioned; a bustle yes, but this fails to convey the sensation of the piece.

Make it pretty, the designer had been told, with bows, folds, ruffles, pleats, gathers, tucks, ruches, creases, corrugations, crimps, flounces and not least flutes; but since the designer had long since lost control of the piece and had employed many apprentices upon the same, the flutes were something upon which a tune could be played, if one so desired, as much as a deployment of an accoutrement to the dress.  The ample bosom is allowed of some breathing space by the omission of what would anyway have been a redundant corset, the required shape being achieved despite this exclusion.

The elder Ogre holds her eye for a moment and then bows deeply and elegantly, cane to one side, as she casts her eye upon the proletariat.

It is upon these poor souls that the gaze should now fall, since the putative royalty is surveying them with some expectation that they are currently unable to discern, though this expectation is very much on the minds of the collected even if understanding is absent.  The motley collection of grocers, candlestick makers, bakers, assorted streetwalkers, urchins, and general purveyors have been looking at this little scene for a few minutes now, a frozen tableau gaping at the unfolding of the little drama before them.  While there are many humans, there are also in numerous quantities; elves, dwarves, sylphs, gnomes, goblins and hobgoblins and assorted boogiemen and earth creatures.  They look universally poor, for the simple reason that they are.  Not one of this number have seen anything above the value of a silver piece of their lives, let alone actual precious metal.  The Ogres have all their attention, and not because they could easily harvest the entire town’s inhabitants for a good supper.  Also, the dress.

Taking a cue from the gentleman Ogre, the crowd bows before the apparition, and she flounces round the carriage out of sight to the door.

The next inhabitant of the coach emerges.  He is wearing large handcuffs and an outfit made from rough but brightly coloured orange cloth.  He has clogs for shoes, and they make a clatter as they hit the cobblestones.  He glares at the crowd, which so far is nonplussed by all of this.  Seeing this, he reaches a decision and roars at them, far louder than any lion might, for an extended period.

Right then!  This is more like it, thinks the crowd.  An Ogre, roaring in anger.  That’s more what we expect, not all this frippery.  That’s an ogre you can respect just before he rips your arms off and stuffs them down your throat.  Oh yes, that’s the real thing.

The crowd breaks out into a spontaneous round of applause.  This angers the roaring creature more and he roars again, silencing the crowd’s cheering abruptly, with just time for the echo of his rage to dissipate before a sad little tinkle of glass hitting ground indicates that he has shaken a precious pane out of its frame.

“Boo!” Shouts one of the crowd.  “Boo to you!”  It’s a pudgy man, with a butcher’s apron, the owner of the shop in which the glass has fallen.  “That’s a whole two shillings that is!”  A lot of the people move to shush him, but he won’t be silenced.  “We won’t stand for that sort of thing!”  This causes a general movement away from the butcher, whose last name, inevitably is actually Butcher, the movement away being catered on the man, who finds himself using the royal form of “we” rather than the united collective version.

“Boo.”  He repeats weakly, trying to maintain the courage of his convictions.  He continues very much sotto voce, “It’s criminal damage that, someone ought to pay.  That’s what I think anyway, not that my opinion’s of any importance, don’t what I’m fussing about, too much light anyhow, I’ll just patch it up.”  The crowd knows when things are going well, it thinks, and this is not one of those times, but while it has been paying attention to Mr Butcher the butcher, they have not noticed the dapper Ogre speaking very quietly to his manacled and orange clad companion, and importantly, giving him a few coins.

They perk up immediately when they hear the well-dressed fellow speak up a bit louder.

“Go on, do it right now, you miscreant!”  And so saying, he kicks the satsuma coloured ogre up the backside.  There is a moment when the crowd thinks that the town is done for, two Ogres fighting is a death knell for any town, but despite the growling the orange clad fellow walks over to the butcher, clogs clacking and slipping on the cobbles, and says in a voice surrounded by flowers and treacle.

“I’m so sorry.  One regrets any property damage caused by one’s outburst.  What did you say the cash amount of any damage was?”  And because the butcher, while terrified by all seven feet of Ogre bending over him and almost apologising, was a trader and not above making a profit immediately replied,

“Well taking everything into account, professional installation, putty, manufacture of matching glass, time off, lack of working during the intermediate future pending replacement, fear of staff and future health safety adjustments,” he broke off, because the Ogre was smiling at him.  “Two bob, like I said.”

“Tell you what.”  Growled the bigger participant in the putative negotiation, “Let’s make it four, for you and your merry crew, eh?”  And the butcher, knowing when he was being let off a very meaty and immediate hook, nodded vigorously.

“That’ll do nicely, your Ogreship.”  And he held his hand out while the fellow counted four silver pieces into his palm, which gripped them tightly.

“Good day to you, sir.” Said Ogre.  And he clogged his way back to his captor, or whatever.

The crowd, sensing that something wasn’t quite right, and feeling much emboldened by the presence of one who might normally be considered a predator giving money to a lowly butcher, was moved to ask a question.  They chose one of their number by the expedient of all taking a step back while he wasn’t looking.

“I say, excuse me?”  The fellow with all the frippery looked at the chap providing the interrogative.  He raised an eyebrow to indicate that he was prepared to field a question.  “I say!  What’s going on?”

Aha!  Bang on, thought the crowd, gets down to cases, hits the nail on the head, targets the central issue.  Yes, that’s the question right enough.

In answer there came out of the carriage a tiny, shining thing, like a firefly dancing in the wind, and it shone and grew and shone and grew until it was about a foot talk, almost dressed in bright green, with gossamer wings behind and alabaster skin.  It was topped by a very pretty face, with blue eyes, so blue in fact that there were no whites at all.  She, and it is a she, perches on the orange Ogres’ head.  Her voice when it comes is a tiny shrill voice, but loud, and it can be heard all over.

“We’re talking over this town, that’s what’s going on.”

“Oh shit!”  Says the man in front, now distinctly alone.  “A fairy!”

­­­_____

 

[1] A rather speciest term in this company.

Dog and the Detective

Might be a serial if well received.


Dog sniffed about, his cybernetically enhanced nose sending data back to my systems for analysis.  Some monoxides clinging to the ground, and Dog was kind of suggesting they went this way anyhow.   I keyed the mic for the speaker buried in his ear.

“Yeah, Dog, I think they went this way too.  Go on Dog, quietly.”  I could see his head coked, listening to me, and then see the bounding of his great silent lope along the rough track.  It was enough to make me feel sick and cut in the passive sample and image stabilisation.  Dog looked like he was floating along on waves.

“You got the scent?”  I head a very quiet and brief growl that meant yes, “Don’t get shot.”  Kenny came up behind me.

“I’ll never get over how you understand him.”  I waved my hand for Kenny to shut up, but he didn’t see it or didn’t pay attention.  He waved a milkshake just in my peripheral vision.  “He’s gotta be doing thirty miles an hour, how’s he keepin’ it up?”

Without looking round I reached over and squeezed the milkshake so it poured all over Kenny and his trousers.  “Goddamn Jake!  What the hell is wrong with you?”  He tried to catch the remains.  “My new trousers.”  He hobbled off to get some paper towels, and hopefully, a mop.  I kicked the “wet area” sign out from under my desk.

“And it’s Jaqueline, you asshole,”  I muttered, under my breath, I thought, but I felt a presence on the other side of my chair, away from the mess.  Dog was still bounding along the track.

“That’s mighty unprofessional and disruptive language,” the new voice paused for breath and effect, “from Kenny.  I’ll have a word, Detective Jacobs.”  I felt him place a hand on the chair and remove immediately when he felt it was balanced carefully. “Sorry.”

“Not now, Captain,” I said, patiently.  I could sense him placing his hands behind his back and looking about the room, waiting.  A cleaning lady came up to the mess with a mop and hot bucket.  She nodded at the Captain.  Brandt nodded back, an exchange of silent but professional courtesies.

“That Kenny, he never learns.”  She said to me in heavily accented English.  “You busy, Jaqueline?”  I pointed at the screen, and Rosa nodded again and went silent, cleaning efficiently and leaving the now unneeded sign at the side of my desk.  I felt her nod at Brandt again and she left.  Despite bracing for it, Brandt didn’t take it as an indication he could interrupt.

On the screen Dog’s angle had gone low, and I could see the log cabin with the old truck in front.  “What’s he doing?  Can you see him?”  Dog sniffed the air, and the answer came back from the analysis in less than a minute; gun oil, cigarette smoke.

“Can you get him?”  A snuffled no.  “Don’t take a chance then.  He’s smoking a cigarette.”  I could see from the camera that Dog settled his head on the ground, waiting.  He made a noise telling that he knew well what the man was smoking, that I was being redundant.  I turned to Captain Brandt.  “What can I do for you?”

“Brass want to see this, Jacobs.  They’ve been pressing me for a month.”  I could feel my lips turn down in a frown.

“They won’t get it.  They’ll think it’s just me remote controlling a dog.”

“I know it’s not, but it is what it looks like, you’ve got to admit.”

“I don’t have to admit anything.  They can’t see it.”  He came around to the side of the chair and glared until I turned it a bit.

“They are your superior officers you know, they can demand anything they want.”  I glared back up at him.

“They can demand it, doesn’t mean I’m going to do it.”  I gave him my post piercing stare.  “They’re imbeciles.”  He ignored this.

“I can only run blocking for so long, Jacobs,” he took a deep breath, “eventually I have to comply.”

“Today?”

“I can put them off for today if you’re busy.”  He passed his hand over his nearly bald head, the darkness of his skin contrasting with the lightness of his palms.  “but this week.”

“I’ll make a presentation.”

“No presentation, they want to see it live, making an arrest.”

“I don’t want that.”

“It’s a direct order.  Make it easy on yourself, choose something trivial.”  I glared up at him again, but I could see he was finished, “Carry on.”  And he walked off.

I turned to the screen again and tuned out the rest of the office by taking my eye feed straight from the screen.

Technically I’m blind, but the implants they gave me look like eyes and behave like eyes, with one extra thing, I can tune into any screen I’m looking at and take the feed direct.  I have some fairly lowlife hacker friends, and they thought it might be good for watching movies.  The same spray of bullets that took out my eyes took out my legs too.  I roll now, mostly.  There’s not enough left to make a good detective, not on my own, can’t chase the perps.  There was a whole lot during rehabilitation too and the got me a helper animal.

I didn’t want that, I was gonna do it on my own, get better, get back on my feet, get going.  The eyes were easy, the department paid and paid for that, the legs no so much.  Turns out they couldn’t pay enough money for that, nerves burned right into brain stem weren’t easy to replace compared to the short damage to my eyes.  So, I got low rez camera visions and bonus, and wheels.

They offered me a desk job.  I took it because I’ve never been anything but a cop and I didn’t know what to do about it.  And Dog came with me.

He was a year old by this time, and his trainer, that wasn’t me, showed him the ropes.  Turned out he was a lot smarter than we thought, he seemed to understand every word.  A lot of dogs do that.  Turns out, Dog pretty much did.  I looked closely at the feed.

“Hey, Dog.”  He blinked once, slowly.  “See that bit of wood by the left of the wagon?”  He shifted his head slightly.  “Yep, that’s an outhouse.”  There was a low whine over the speakers. “Toilet.”  A growl.  “Yeah, he’s gonna go in there, you bet, when his cigarette is done.”  Another growl.  “Yeah, you can take him down.”  There was a series of lows growls and whines.  It took me a second to work out what Dog was asking, but then I worked it out.

“They’re not connected up,” I said, “not like at home, no toilet inside.”  Affirmative growl.  “He’s in, go.”  I switched out, Dog running makes me feel sick.  I watched the monitor carefully.  Kenny came up on the left again, but this time he was quiet.  After a second he took the desk next to mine and started pulling up map data.  He slid a note over and looking down for a few seconds I read it, ‘Bear Swamp Wildlife Management Area.’  I nodded.  About an hour through traffic.

“I’m gonna get local.”  I hesitated.  Sometimes local didn’t respond well to me talking through Dog’s collar, or to a duly deputised dog called Dog either.  I shifted my weight back in the chair and shot him a look he couldn’t possibly decipher, but then nodded.  Immediately he sprang out of the chair and speed dialled on his mobile walking a little away so he didn’t disturb me.  Rosa drifted by, pausing to look at the screen.  “I got night school.  Good luck, Jaqueline, good luck Dog.”  I looked away briefly and smiled.  Dog likes Rosa.  She moved on before I could lose my train of thought.

I could see Dog’s nose wrinkling, and the readout came back as he crouched by the outhouse, from what I saw I wasn’t surprised that Dog wasn’t enjoying it.  We heard the zip and buckle, and the man came out of the outhouse, opening the door wide, so that for a moment Dog’s vision was blinded by the door, and then it was shut.  I could see him clearly now, the, unfortunately, name Paul Bunyan, our perp.

He had this going for him, he liked dogs.  Bending down he reached out to dog and let him sniff his hand before patting and ruffling his head.

“Well, where’d you come from boy, you lost?”  Dog wagged his tail and barked a little, putting Bunyan at his ease.  “Well ain’t you a friendly feller.”  Dog jumped up, and I said,

“Now Dog!”  And his jaws were around Bunyan’s throat, growling, and bearing him to the ground.  I could hear him draw his gun, but I said through the speaker.  “Paul Bunyan, by the power invested in me as a duly deputised office of the law I am placing you under arrest.”  Very loudly.  “I am Jaqueline Jacobs of the New York State Police, and holding you gently by the throat is Detective Dog, also of NYSP, and you make one goddamn move and he’ll rip your throat out.  Put the gun down.”  I saw the hand being raised slightly and Dog squeezed on the man’s neck.  “I gotta warn ya, Bunyan, Dog makes his own mind up and he’s been shot once, so he ain’t that anxious to be shot again, so I’d think twice because you’re gonna be dead or under arrest don’t matter of Dog makes it or not,”  Dog growled again, and Bunyan tossed the gun away a little in the dirt.  “That’s right.  Now reach and take the cuffs out of Dog’s little pouch in front.  Yeah, that’s what I said.  Now, Dog’s gonna let you go and you’re gonna put those cuffs and on, nice and tight, behind you.”

“You gotta be kidding!”  It was the voice of the incredulous.  I made my voice as flat and serious as I could.

“Dog don’t play.  Do it.  Say you’re gonna do it.”

“I’ll do it, don’t let him do anything,”  Dog growled again low and deep.

“You ask him.”

“Please Mr Dog,”

“Grrroooowwwwl.”

“Please Detective Dog, I’ll put the cuffs on.  Don’t rip my throat out.  Good boy.”  Mistake.  WE know who the Good Boy is, miscreants don’t.  Dog watched as the man rolled over, I could see that he’d soiled himself despite his visit to the toilet, and cuffed himself.  Dog sat on him, but not before growling and nipping his ear.

“Dog says you don’t get the decide who the Good boy is.”  I translated.  “It ain’t you.”

Local arrived and I could hear Kenny on the phone making, well, a dog’s breakfast, of explaining the situation.  I wheeled over the took the phone.  Someone was shouting down the phone.

“Hey!”  I shouted back.  “Get your hand off your dick and give Dog the paperwork and ride back to town.  You get me, or so help me I’ll drive down there and shoot your dick off myself, you hear me?”

“Who the hell you think you are, lady? I ain’t giving no dawg no goddamn paperwork.  You just tell me what the hell is going on here and…” the voice trailed off.  I could hear some talk, and see it on the screen as Dog looked at them.  There was a heated argument as the deputy kept his hand over the microphone, but I could hear them clearly through Dog’s collar and implant.

“There ain’t no goddamn way.  This is the most idiotic thing I ever seen, who in the hell is this guy anyhow.”  He young companion, with a panicked look on his face said;

“Just talk to the Captain, Bryant, please!”  The deputy strode over the to the car and snatched the radio from the young man’s hand.  I couldn’t hear at that point, but I could see him mouth “holy mother of pearl” and draw his gun.  Dog chose that moment, wisely, to get off the suspect.

Getting Dog back in the precinct was a joy, as always.  It always made me nervous, thereafter, when he went out, but we were always a team, always on the case, Dog and me.  That first medal though.  Awesome.

 

Preserve Beauty

This is for the Midweek Flash Challenge at http://purplequeennl.blogspot.co.uk and you can follow Miranda Kate on twitter @PurpleQueenNL.

Sigh, proof read if I’m getting into print and not before.  (Unless someone wants to become my publisher and give me enough of an advance to live on).


There it is, preserved, as if in amber, bubbles forming as the preservation process, so hurriedly invoked keep the delicate petals from continuing their passage to death.

The rose, like me is the last of its kind, and echo of a distant world, long ago blown away in the solar wind.  I have travelled so far those hunting me will assume that I am the last and even if the actuality is different, I have crossed so many horizons, that of light, particle, being, that it no longer makes any difference.  I shall not see the like of me again and so for all intents and purposes, I am the last, and there is no soul to sing a lament for me.

My fate was sealed long before I was born, in my personal timeline this would be some three hundred years ago, but I flitted so fast and so far that I cannot say where it is from your point of view.  It might be yesterday, a thousand years in the past, or perhaps in your future from where you are standing.  I have no way of knowing.  For me it was two hundred and forty years before I was born, on distant Earth left so far behind.

All those years ago Earth was finally a bucolic place.  The chaos and the destruction of the early twenty-first century was over, and the planet drew together as the realisation dawned, finally, on the populace that they were not alone.  The great and terrible purges were done, a genocide in all but name, but when it was done those that were left has a terrible stain on their soul, but they were at least tellers of truth and not lies.  Those that were left valued each other, and humanity.  Life was given the credence it deserved.   The terrible thing they had done showed humanity how valuable life was, and a universal peace was declared.  Government, corporations melted away, fading into the background and doing the minimal tasks they were required to perform, looking after the sick and elderly, cleaning up, providing for people, at last doing the tasks that government was fit to perform.

And there was no free lunch, everyone contributed, each according to their abilities, and if you could not, then you were fed and watered and housed anyway, and of those, people came to contribute something, because they were not starving and frightened, but enabled and empowered.  From the great sin they had committed, the remains of humanity made Earth a paradise at last.

So when the warlike and merciless Kandathan landed, the great furry hunters, they were a little appalled at what we had done.  We showed them our history and they were shocked, shocked that we would treat our own so, terrified of a species that seemed now to be peaceful and vulnerable, but kept weapons of mass destruction buried in the ground, “just in case.”

They hunted others, not their own.  They were merciless, but had a wonderful family life, seeing all other species as inferior and dominating wherever they went, because they could, and still can.

Didn’t work with us.

We nuked their ships out of orbit, and more came.  We nuked them too, until Earth was uninhabitable, so we stole a ship and made off with it, but not before arming it with more nukes.

They were merciless, but they dominated one by one, in battle, with guns and knives and blood and guts.  It had not occurred to anyone else in the entire galaxy to manufacture something that would wipe out their world of origin.  But we did.

The Kandathan, and their subjugated species and allies think we’re crazy.  They see us as a scourge, because if we’d do that to ourselves, then what terrible thing would we do to them.

They saw our media, saw what we could imagine, imagine doing to each other.  And we were declared a pestilence, a universal danger to ourselves and others, to be exterminated without mercy, for the safety of all.

Needless to say, we didn’t take it laying down.  We’re innovators, inventors, creatives.  We could create a lot of ways of not taking it laying down.  But there are some among us who agreed with the hunters, who said we are a scourge and deserve to die.

Just my luck I got one of those from the pairings, and he betrayed me.

So I’ve preserved the rose, and nothing more.