A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

In which Griselda receives an unexpected and very dire warning


Back in Griselda's small room Henrietta Blackboil kicked the wall, leaving a black rubbery smudge, and she growled in much the same way as an abused spaniel might growl in anticipation of a sound thrashing. Henrietta was, indeed, a truly repulsive creature.

That was as much fun as pretending to be a goldfish and swimming in ever decreasing circles,” she muttered. “And who's idea was it to squirt that nasty stuff all over us? If I wasn't teetotal I'd wanna drink!”

You teetotal?” asked Griselda, deeply shocked at the announcement. To her certain knowledge there's one thing the repulsive Henrietta had never been and never would be and that was teetotal.

I never touch a drop, and never have,” confirmed Henrietta, “which you'd know if you knew me properly. The trouble is, nobody knows anyone properly these days. We all walk around in our little circles, our heads up our own arses and ignoring everyone else... Friends, that's what we all need, knowing and affectionate friends, fellow beings on the walk through life, creatures who truly know our innermost thoughts, and love us for them...”

Just a moment!” interrupted Griselda, “are you trying to tell me you're not the most gross old soak on all the planet with a brain that's been atrophied by alcohol until it almost isn't there any more and with a liver so jaundiced that the combined capacity of a rugby team would be proud to own it? Is that what you're trying to tell me?”

What you pissin' tryin' to say, crone?” asked Henrietta. “Me, a soak? Are you calling me a liar or summat? Are you implyin...'”

I damned well am!” snapped Griselda. “I've been suspicious about you, you disgusting old hag, ever since you knocked my door this afternoon, and I'm still suspicious! I know Henrietta Blackboil, all right. I was the only woman in the big wide world who'd have anything to do with her and her drunken ways! Why, our neighbours back in Swanspottle used to dread bumping into you on the next street to where you were staggering let alone the one they were actually on! Small children, if they were truly naughty, were threatened with a glimpse of your shadow, and they became meek and mild instantly! And here you are, all prim and proper and trying to tell me you're teetotal! Bah! You're a liar, Henrietta Blackboil … if Henrietta Blackboil you be, that is!”

You've only got to look as me to know who I am,” growled her disgusting old guest, wriggling, thought Griselda, a trifle uncomfortably.

Oh, you've got some things right, that's for sure,” agreed Griselda. “You fart like Henrietta and there's no mistake there... I'd know that smell anywhere! It used to plague me even when she was nowhere near!”

I fart like her so I am her!” snapped Henrietta. “They say a good fart is as proof of a person as is a fingerprint!”

A fart is just a combination of noxious gases, so anyone can replicate it! But you're not Henrietta Blackboil,” said Griselda slowly. “I'd know Henrietta anywhere, and you're not she! True, you smell like her, you even look like her, all the warts are there and properly hairy, the moustache still needs trimming, your bosom sags just the right amount even though your b***s must be falser than my wig, but you're not Henrietta Blackboil. So who are you?”

Use your pissin' eyes!” snapped the hag before her. “Can't you see who I am, you who've known your Henrietta chum for most of her life? Come, come, Grizzy...”

That's it!” snapped Griselda. “Henrietta would never call anyone her chum and as for Grizzy … that's such an affectionate familiarity that Henrietta would have died rather than use it! Nobody, but nobody, calls me Grizzy! So who are you, Hag?”

You're all pleasantries and short skirts and long, long legs!” rasped Henrietta (or she who called herself by that name). “You can see who I am and that should be �" must be �" good enough! Just you ask no questions and you'll be told no lies, and that's the truth!”

But my Henrietta, my friend Henrietta, is a babe in arms, suckling from her mother's breast and gurgling like only babies can, laughing and smiling and saying coo-coo-coo and being practically perfect,” said Griselda slowly. “Whilst you … you look like the hag, you smell like the hag, especially when the wind oozes out of you, you occasionally even sound like the hag, but that hag you are not! By the devil, show me who you are!”

And as the last sentence ground out of Griselda's mouth the old creature before her wibbled and wobbled in the air. Then, slowly, she morphed into someone else. Her whole being, from the scrawny knotted wisps of hair on top of her head down to the cracked old boots on her feet, changed from what they were into something else.

And that something else was decidedly dreadful. For a start, if it had any gender it was male, yet it wasn't particularly human. A short horn, the kind beloved of satanic image-makers everywhere, protruded from its forehead and a leathery tail from its rear end, neatly sticking out of an embroidered hole in its red trousers. Its legs ended in hoofs, cloven hoofs that might have fooled you into thinking you were looking at a goat-like creature if you were only looking at its legs. Even its ears were inhuman, being unnaturally large and pink in a calloused sort of way.

So it's you!” said Griselda slowly. “I've met you before, I think! So why are you here and what are you doing looking like the Blackboil woman?”

I knew her, remember?” said the apparition. “Remember, way back when you wanted to enter politics how she became my lover for one night only? But I got to know her flesh, and she loved it! She begged me for more, and when we had finished the first time she was all over me for a second helping! Well, I just had to get to know her … what would you call it, emotional pattern? I couldn't help it! So when I needed to adopt a human form she was the obvious person for me to choose even though I wasn't particularly fond of the smell. And have you any idea how much concentration it takes keeping up with all the farting requirements? I've never worked so hard in all my being, and all in the name of saving you!”

You are a disgrace, using such devious and dishonest tricks to … to … fool me!” almost exploded Griselda, glad that she wasn't in her real guise of an old woman or she might have suffered an honest-to-goodness heart attack, so incensed was she at being the recipient of an obvious deception..

It was necessary,” said the transformed Henrietta gravely. “For I warned you before you entered this establishment: you are in great danger and have no idea what you are doing. But meddling as you are in deep and dark matters, I felt I ought to keep half an eye on you. So here I am, and you may learn to be grateful before too many minutes have passed.”

I can look after myself!” snorted Griselda. Why, I even managed to thwart my political foes when I became Prime Minister. So a University with all its learned professors should be no problem, thank you very much.”

Not this University,” said the horned creature, twitching his tail so that his red trousers wobbled in a way that Griselda found almost erotic. “This is no normal University. It is a hellish place where do-gooders...” (here he shuddered) “...proliferate under the shadows of the very darkest corners of the Universe. And when I use the word darkest I use it advisedly. For there will be a great battle sooner or later and everything you, my dear Griselda, hold precious (like that cute little skirt that you're wearing and the wonderful broomstick you've left concealed outside in the woods) will come to nothing, will yield to the darkest power this Universe has ever known.”

Griselda found herself shivering, and she shook herself to get rid of the feeling of despair that was crawling over her. “You're scaring me!” she whispered.

And so I should! You will need me, Griselda, like you've never needed me before, and not to do fancy little tricks like turn your ugly old friend into a baby or your tatty old skirts into tiny tartan kilts! No, you will need me to defend you against the most powerful force that ever manifested itself, and then you will be more pleased than a sparrow who unexpectedly found the first worm of the day!

And yes, you will need me to defend you against worms!”

© 2016 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 24, 2016
Last Updated on May 24, 2016
Tags: Satanic, warning, Henrietta, Griselda, dark powers



Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 79 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..