Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Parodyssey

Many of you know the story; Odysseus, hero of the Trojan War, making a perilous voyage home while his loyal wife Penelope fights off a bunch of horny jerks.  Lesser known is the tale of two women of Thessaly, widows of the brothers Helices and Vortices, captains among Achilles’s Myrmidons (sadly, vulnerable in places other than the heel).  The messenger god Hermes visited these two women in a dream, bidding them flee their homes and their own amorous suitors for the isle of Crete, where their story would inspire great deeds in others…

 

The golden-haired Braburna snapped the reins of her azure and white sports chariot, trying get comfortable beside her friend’s bulging sacks of belongings.

“By Artemis, Basalganglia!” she laughed.  “You packed enough to fill a trireme!”

“You never know what you might need,” her sister-in-law shrugged.

“Like your diary?” Braburna offered.  She had noticed the chestnut-haired Basalganglia writing on a papyrus scroll with her new reservoir stylus.

“Perhaps the bards will retell our story as an epic one day,” Basalganglia suggested.

“Rumour has it the Amazons are secretly recruiting in Crete,” Braburna said.  “Perhaps Hermes means us join them.”

“Why not?” Basalganglia replied brightly.  “Our husbands had the courage to die in battle.  Why should we be denied the chance to prove ourselves?”

“Quite right, Basalganglia!” beamed the goddess-like Braburna.  “On to Crete!”

She pressed a pedal on the chariot’s floor.  Carrots dropped in front of the horses’ noses and the chariot shot forward.

 

That evening, Braburna and the once humble Basalganglia stopped at a roadside tavern.  Its stable yard was filled with huge articulated ox-carts, while inside hard-bitten carters revelled drunkenly.

The wine quickly went to Basalganglia’s head and she soon found herself dancing suggestively with a young man in a pine green toga.  During the dance, an argument grew overheated and Basalganglia feared a brawl was coming.

“We should leave this place,” she told her partner.

However, the young man misinterpreted these words.  Once in the stable yard, he began to grope Basalganglia, in spite of her protestations.  It reached a point that she was forced to strike him, but this only made him angrier and more determined.

Keen-eyed Braburna had seen this.  Seizing her late husband’s sword from the chariot, she ran the young man through.  Yet her expression darkened as she examined the young man’s toga.

“This shade of green is the colour of Atrocites,” she gasped.  “The most feared general in Macedonia!  From descriptions I have heard, this could be his son, Mendacites!”

“And who would believe he tried to rape me after the whole inn saw me dancing with him like a harlot?” the chestnut-haired Basalganglia squeaked.

“We have to get to Crete, fast,” the goddess-like Braburna said resolutely.

 

Two days later, the azure and white chariot reached the port of Orminium.  To confound any potential spies, the women curled their hair using Basalganglia’s special hot coal tongs.  On the quayside, vehicles queued up in front of a roll-on roll-off galley bound for Crete.  But there was problem.

“I have too little gold to pay for the voyage!” Braburna moaned.

The friends split Basalganglia’s bronze collection to try and sell in Orminium’s markets.  However, when Braburna returned to the chariot two hours later, she was still short of money.  Then, the once humble Basalganglia rushed out of a nearby house with her chestnut hair unfastened and her dress cut revealingly short.

“I have the money!” she cried.  “I found something better than bronze to sell.”

A blond, athletic young man, clad only in a breech cloth, was waving to them suggestively from his doorway.

“That’s Laetfes,” Basalganglia laughed.  “An athlete bound for the Games in Athens.”

“Very handsome,” the golden-haired Braburna giggled, “In fact, he resembles Prince Achilles.”

Very soon, the azure and white chariot was safely inside the vehicle deck of the galley and the two friends were on their way to Crete.

 

Braburna and the chestnut-haired Basalganglia were as content as the Minotaur at a dairy farm when the galley docked at Crete four days later.  But a nasty surprise came as their chariot rolled down the gangplank.

“There they are!” a voice roared.

Hoplite soldiers in green-plumed helmets were advancing towards the galley, and keen-eyed Braburna saw that Laetfes was leading them.  He had been a spy for Atrocites!

Braburna pressed the chariot’s special pedal and they charged recklessly through the quayside.  They tore through Orminium’s streets, not even slowing down for red oil lamps at junctions.

Laetfes’s troops mounted their own chariots, pursuing them doggedly into Crete’s hills.  Braburna turned off the main road, trying to lose them.  Instead, she came upon a murderously steep slope, leading down to a sheer cliff.  The other chariots pulled up right behind, trapping them.

“Surrender, murderesses!” ordered Laetfes.

Fearful at first, Braburna suddenly became angry when she saw what Basalganglia was doing.  “Is this any time to write your diary?”

“Absolutely,” Basalganglia said drily.  “The last entry in our epic.  They never do have happy endings, do they?”

Laetfes’s troops began advancing.  Braburna glanced at them, back at the cliff, then at Basalganglia, stowing her scroll and reservoir stylus away in a sack.

She took Braburna in hand and looked her in the eye.  It was time to write their own ending.

“See you by the Styx, Braburna.”

“I guarantee it, Basalganglia.”

The golden-haired Braburna heaved out the pin that attached the chariot to the horses.  Before Laetfes’s disbelieving eyes, the chariot rolled backwards down the slope and plunged over the cliff.

 

At the base of the cliff, Hermes retrieved Basalganglia’s scroll from the shattered remains of the azure and white chariot.  He passed it to the two Amazon scouts he had summoned there.

“Tell their tale among your new recruits,” Hermes told them.  “The journey of the goddess-like Braburna and the once humble Basalganglia shall inspire women everywhere to break the shackles of home and hearth and die courageously, just as they did.”

Game Head (Flash Fiction Story)

Iris sat as though comatose, the screen’s siren glow reflected in her glasses.  Her senses thrilled to the roar of gunfire as she stalked the pixelated jungle, wiping out her online competitors with cruel glee.  MilesOTails fired at her from behind a tree, vengefully striving to win back his high score crown.  Not a chance.  She ambushed him and mercilessly blasted his avatar down.

After her bitter dismissal from work, online gaming had become Iris’s life.  Her boyfriend Rex had dumped her, and even her friends and family were forgetting her.  Iris couldn’t have cared less.  Shopping, laundry, exercise, television, even sleep could be abandoned in favour of this thrilling, carefree existence.  Who needed the distractions of reality when she was an all-conquering warrior in this intoxicating digital dreamland?

Three weeks later, Iris’s landlord entered her room to deliver an eviction notice.  He found her seated in front of the console, pale, gaunt and motionless, her head hanging limply to one side.

He shouldn’t really have been surprised.  Hadn’t eating and drinking been just one more distraction from Iris’s hollow passion?

Many would say that Iris’s death was a senseless waste.  Some would say she died doing what she loved.

 

4) Cheesecake and the Tricksters

Cheesecake was a reddish-brown Shetland pony with a yellow mane and a love of mischief.  She lived with Sally Withers and her parents at Hockpoll Stables.

It was mid-autumn at Hockpoll Stables and the weather was getting colder.  Many of the horses now had to wear warm rugs when they weren’t riding.

Cheesecake didn’t need a rug.  Like all Shetland ponies, she was a tough little horse, bred to survive harsh conditions.  Her thick coat of winter hair was enough to keep her warm.

One morning, Cheesecake was in the pasture, sharing a trough of water with Wurzel the cob.

“I saw Sally wearing strange clothes in the kitchen yesterday,” said Cheesecake.  “She had a black wig on, and sharp false teeth.”

“She’s trying on her Hallowe’en costume,” replied Wurzel.

“Her what?” said Cheesecake.

“Hallowe’en’s a human festival,” explained Wurzel.  “It’s coming tomorrow.  People get dressed up in scary costumes, play games and go trick-or-treating.”

“What’s that?” asked Cheesecake.

“That’s where the children go round their neighbours’ houses in costume, asking for sweets,” said Wurzel.  “If they don’t get sweets, they play a trick on the owners.”

“Sounds like my kind of festival!” laughed Cheesecake.

After riding practice the next day, Cheesecake watched through the downstairs windows as Sally ate tea and put on her vampire costume.  Mr Withers put her in the car to take her to her friend Lucy’s house.

“Have fun at your Hallowe’en party, honey,” said Mrs Withers, as she waved them off.

There wasn’t anything to do, so Cheesecake decided to take a nap.  An hour later, she woke to the sound of children talking and laughing noisily out in the road.

Soon four big boys came into view, dressed in normal clothes and carrying plastic bags, some full and some empty.  Cheesecake caught their names as they chatted; Billy, Jordan, Craig, and their leader’s name was Ryan.  Something about them made Cheesecake very nervous.

Ryan rang the Withers’ doorbell and Mrs Withers answered it.

“Trick and treat!” chorused the boys, holding their bags open.

“Why aren’t you boys in costume?” asked Mrs Withers.  “And it’s trick or treat.”

“No no, missus,” said Ryan, “Trick and treat.  Treats for us and a trick for you!”

Cheesecake whinnied a warning, but it was too late.  Ryan shoved Mrs Withers aside while Billy snatched the sweets she was keeping by the door, pouring them into his bag.  As Mrs Withers tried to get back up and grab him, Craig and Jordan started pelting her with mud, rotten eggs, old banana peels and other nasty things.

Cheesecake and the other horses bared their teeth in anger as Ryan’s gang ran away, gloating.

“Those horrible boys!” shrieked Maisie the Arabian, from her stall.

“They deserve a good kick!” snarled Lancer the Thoroughbred, stamping his hooves.

“I think a bit of cheekiness is in order, right Cheesecake?” said Wurzel.

“Right,” Cheesecake replied.

Mrs Withers retreated into the house so she could clean herself.  Meanwhile, Cheesecake thought up a cheeky plan to teach the boys a lesson.  She took a stolen riding crop in her teeth and used it to open the lock on her enclosure.

“Wait while I set you free,” she said to the others.  “We’ll need some plastic sheets and watering cans from the shed, then there’s something in the fields we can borrow…”

Later on, Ryan’s gang were further down the road, laughing and joking about the sweets they had stolen that night.  There were no streetlights, so Ryan and Billy had torches to light the way.

Suddenly, something small and winged streaked past the boys, snatching Billy’s torch and vanishing into the hedge.

“Hey!” yelled Billy.  “Who took my torch?”

Ryan shone his torch into the hedgerow.  There was nobody there.  Then Ryan yelped in surprise as the creature flew by and snatched his torch too.  The boys shivered as darkness enfolded them.

“What was that?” Craig shivered.  “I know it wasn’t human!”

“It” was really Cheesecake’s friend, Carlo the magpie.  He had already dropped Billy’s torch in an old rabbit warren to conceal it.  Now he dropped Ryan’s torch into a hollow tree, disturbing a flock of bats.

The boys all screamed and ran as the bats burst out the tree and milled around them.  But they stopped running as they heard a hideous howl coming down the road ahead of them.

A horrible figure loomed around a corner in front of them.  It was eight feet tall, dressed in a vast black cloak and advancing with incredible speed.  The boys screamed again and fled back the way they had come.

But now a second figure was down the road towards them, giving the same ghastly howl.  The terrified boys now ran towards only one means of escape; a bridle path to their right.

Little did Ryan’s gang know that the monsters were actually Lancer and Wurzel.  They had taken two scarecrows from the nearby fields to place on their backs and then wrapped black plastic sheets round themselves.  Blowing down the spout of two watering cans produced their dreadful howls.

Cheesecake's Halloween Prank

A short way down the bridle path, Cheesecake and Maisie had hidden behind some bushes, holding a length of rope in their teeth.  Just as Ryan’s gang reached them, they pulled it tight.  The boys were tripped up as one and fell head-first into a deep, filthy, smelly patch of mud.

Ryan, Billy, Craig and Jordan howled in disgust while all the horses laughed fit to burst.  Cheesecake laughed hardest of all.  Her trick had worked perfectly and the boys had paid for what they had done to Mrs Withers.

“Now let’s get home,” she told the others.  “Mrs Withers has had quite enough to worry about without having us go missing.”

Just as Cheesecake left, she stopped to pick up Jordan’s bag of sweets in her teeth.

Much too good for you, she thought, but Sally can have a treat later.

As promised

Hi!  I did promise you more Cheeky Cheesecake and here she is!  I had hoped to post this one by the end of September, but didn’t quite make it.  A few important annual events are coming up in the next few months, so expect a couple of themed stories very soon.

3) Twinkle-Hooves Cheesecake

Cheesecake the Lippizaner

Cheesecake was a reddish-brown Shetland pony with a pale yellow mane, who lived at Hockpoll Stables with young Sally Withers and her parents.  She was a good pony most of the time, but loved to do cheeky things whenever she was upset.

Autumn had come, turning the trees around Hockpoll Stables yellow and crimson, and bringing chill breezes that swept up the falling leaves.

Cheesecake’s friend, Carlo the magpie, rested on Cheesecake’s back as she grazed in a paddock one afternoon.  Maisie the Arabian and Lancer the Thoroughbred stood nearby.

“Getting colder, isn’t it?” Cheesecake remarked.

“It is,” Maisie said with a horsey smile.  “Not that winter’s going to be all bad.”

“What do you mean?” squawked Carlo.

“Maisie and I are going to a big horse show in London this winter,” Lancer said.  “There’ll be lots of other horses and all kinds of events.”

“It’ll be wonderful!” Maisie squealed.  “The lights, the music, the cheers from the crowd!”

“Will there be Shetland ponies there?” said Cheesecake.

“Lots,” said Lancer.  “Doing derby races and pony cart displays.  But they won’t be as good as the horses from the Spanish Riding School.”

“The what?” Cheesecake and Carlo said together.

“You’ve never heard of them?” Maisie cried.  “They’re only a school that trains horses to dance!”

“You’re lying!” Carlo scoffed.  “Only humans and bees can dance.”

“You think?” Maisie laughed.  “Just look at what they do!”

Cheesecake watched, amazed, as Maisie started prancing round the edge of the paddock, then trotting sideways, crossing her legs over one another, as if she was dancing.

“They can also do this!” said Lancer.

He reared up on his hind legs and shuffled forwards, doing his best to stay balanced.  Sadly, he had only taken three steps before he caught his hoof on a tuft of grass and fell forward.  Maisie, too, tripped on one of her own hooves.

Carlo laughed.  “You call that dancing?  I call it a clown’s act!”

Cheesecake didn’t say anything.  She was thinking.

A few days later, Sally brought her friends Donna, Angela and Lucy round for tea.  The girls were delighted that Sally’s parents ran a stable.  They also looked forward to Mrs Withers’s famous shepherd’s pie at dinner, followed by a slice of crumble made from freshly picked blackberries.

Lucy’s big brother Matthew came with them.  He had a hand-held computer with him, which he had to be told to put away at the table.

After tea, Mrs Withers said Sally could show her friends how her riding was coming on.  Donna, Angela and Lucy cheered.

“Can’t we go and watch a DVD?” Matthew grumbled.

“Not now,” Mrs Withers told him.  “It’s still light now and that’s the best time.”

Soon Sally was tacking Cheesecake up, putting her saddle and bridle on.  Cheesecake took stood still and quiet as this happened, looking forward to showing Sally’s friends what a good rider she was.

Sally mounted Cheesecake and Mrs Withers led them to the ménage; the specially marked field where Sally practised her riding.  Donna, Angela, Lucy and Matthew watched from over the fence.

Mrs Withers gave Sally instructions, getting Cheesecake to walk, change direction and move in and out of some small cones that she laid in Cheesecake’s path.

“She’s really good,” said Lucy.  “Not one mistake.”

Donna and Angela nodded.

“Not as good as a western,” snorted Matthew.

Cheesecake looked angrily at Matthew.  Sally was riding superbly and he wasn’t giving her any praise.

“OK Sally, start trotting,” Mrs Withers said.

Sally kicked Cheesecake into a trot.  Cheesecake could feel how well Sally was timing her rises and falls with the motion of her legs.  Mrs Withers let Sally do two circuits of trotting, until she told Sally to go back to a walk and then stop near her friends.  Donna, Angela and Lucy all clapped.

“You were terrific, Sally!” they said.  “Bravo!”

“Big deal!” sneered Matthew, pointing at Cheesecake.  “Horses jump canyons and rescue mountaineers on TV.  I bet this fat little dwarf couldn’t do that.”

Cheesecake was furious.  How dare Matthew talk about Sally like that!  Then a very cheeky idea struck her.  If Matthew wanted impressive horsemanship, he’d get it!  She just hoped Sally was up to the task…

Sally’s friends had been sternly ticking Matthew off, when Lucy cried, “Look at Sally!”

To everyone’s amazement, Cheesecake was trotting sideways down the ménage, her legs crossing and uncrossing, as if she was dancing.

“Sally!” Mrs Withers gasped.  “How are you doing this?”

“I just am,” Sally called.

What she didn’t know was that Cheesecake had been practising the strange dancing moves that Maisie and Lancer had showed her all week.  As she had hoped, Sally was pretending it was all her work.

Cheesecake pranced nimbly round the edge of the ménage and then to everyone’s astonishment, reared up on her hind legs and turned about.  Sally was caught by surprise, but managed to stay on.  Cheesecake dropped down again and went down on one knee, as if bowing.

All Sally’s friends cheered, even Matthew.

“That was better than anything on television!” he gasped.  “Sally, you and Cheesecake are amazing!”

“Never mind twinkle toes,” Mrs Withers said.  “I’d say Cheesecake here is a little twinkle hooves!”