A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

It's quite clear that the farmer requires medical repairs...


The pathologist Longshanks climbed clumsily to his feet.

“What happened, then?” he demanded, “who turned the lights out?”

“It happened to me too,” burbled Elflight, “and being a senior police officer I’ll just have to arrest someone.”

“Who?” asked a befuddled Prickly.

“Anyone will do,” coughed the Elf, “as long as they’re crooked,” he added, “I don’t go around fitting the innocent up.”

“What I want to know is what are you lot going to do about me?” demanded a feeble Farmer Spiky. The long incision, that was running from his spiky tail to his equally spiky chin, was seeping with good red blood and there were genuine tears in his rustic old eyes.

“I’ll get the Lone Ranger!” decided Longshanks. “It’s beyond my skill to sew you back up properly. All I can do is what is known in the trade as the Pathologist Pattern, which looks more like a snail leaving an acid trail has munched its way across your body rather than a neat and invisible scar. But the Lone Ranger will do it properly. Real good, is the Lone Ranger...”

“I’ve never hear of him,” muttered Prickly dubiously.

“It’s not a him or a her, it’s a them,” explained the Pathologist, taking off his white coat and preparing to skedaddle in the direction of the hospital quarters. “It’s Cedric a silkworm,” he added, using the forest folks’ proper term for ‘silkworm’ which is virtually unwriteable when one is limited to the more vulgar script of human fonts. “It’s a partnership, really,” he added by way of a full explanation. “Cedric rides on the back of Cedricina,” he concluded.

“That’s about as clear as mud,” growled Farmer Spiky, “but if it’s going to do me any good please go and get him or her or them before I bleed to death!”

Then Longshanks, with a cursory wave and fumbling for his hat, darted out of the door, his long arms and longer legs almost getting tangled with his tail as he tripped along.

“I hope he hurries,” groaned Farmer Spiky, still lying on the pathologist’s slab, “my open wound is beginning to feel sore.”

“I wonder who on Earth the Lone Ranger can really be?” mused Prickly. “I’ve never heard of any such thing.”

“I can help you there,” said Elflight proudly, glad to be able to help in a situation that had proved pretty unhelpful to the farmer thus far. “Several years ago, it will have been, when I was a much younger Elf and a mere constable in the force there was a storm.

“I don’t know whether you are au fait with the geography of the forest, but it is on a land surrounded, believe it or not, by a vast ocean of watery stuff. Not exactly like rain, because it’s salty, and it goes on for an unbelievable number of miles, water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink, as an aunt of mine once coined in a poem written to an albatross… but that’s beside the point. The actual point is,” and here he tapped his nose knowingly, “the actual point is that there comes a time when the water laps onto the land, and that’s called the seaside, or, to be prosaic, a beach.”

“I sort of know that,” grunted the farmer, “get on with it so that I can hear the end of the lesson before I bleed to death.”

“Alright, hold your horse!” snapped Elflight, who detested being interrupted when he was giving a serious account of something unbelievable. “Let it be accepted, then, that there is a beach and that it’s just about all sand. And as I suggested, once there was a terrible storm, one that raised the sea until it was like an army of foaming men on horseback, fierce and angry and filled with military might, all churning up the wet stuff and tossing it like so much rubbish onto the sand. And, friends, believe it or not, some of it was rubbish! Some of it was old wood that had been floating in the watery stuff from lands so far away it would make your eyes water if you even tried to think of the distances involved...”

“You mean Canterbury?” asked Prickles, who’d heard of at least one place beyond the far reaches of the forest.

Elflight looked at him scornfully. “Canterbury’s no distance at all, in comparison,” he mumbled, not having enough inside information to suggesti in comparison to what. “Anyway, to conclude my story, one of the pieces of wood, known in the trade as flotsam, landed on the beach and it turned out that it had a passenger on board.”

“A passenger?” gasped Prickly, because he had the sense to work out that Elflight loved an audience that gasped at his wisdom.

Elflight nodded and assumed the pose of an elderly professor enlightening his students.

“Out of a hole in the wood there crawled a wet and bedraggled silkworm,” he said, “and my ancestor Elfoot the Elder was there by happenstance. He introduced himself to the castaway and was assured all he wanted was love, a quiet life and somewhere to spin his silk.”

“That makes sense,” grunted the Farmer.

“Then, just as Elfoot the Elder was about to gently carry the gentle creature off to safety, the sound of dozens of feet stomping like an army filled the air, and out of another washed-up pile of wooden junk there crawled the most amazing personage Elfoot had ever seen.

“’Excuse me, but I’m rather wet and far from home,” he said in a military kind of way to my ancestor. “I’m Cedric the Centipede, and my dozens of pairs of boots are waterlogged.”

“How sweet!” gurgled the silkworm, “and what a sparkling coincidence, for my name is Cedricina! And already I feel I’m falling for you, my beauty! Why don’t you let me climb upon your back and we’ll follow this elf fellow to his home, where we can have nourishment and loads of honey for tea!”

Before Elflight could conclude his story in the way he would have intended, the door opened and Longshanks stormed in.

“We’re here!” he shouted, “me and Lone Ranger!”

And just behind him appeared the beautiful and romantic sight of a silkworm perched on an intricate silky saddle which was on the back of the most handsome centipede any of them had ever seen, most handsome because it was the one and only, but that didn’t matter.

© Peter Rogerson 07.10.18.

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

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Added on October 7, 2018
Last Updated on October 7, 2018
Tags: silkworm, centipede, pathologist, castaways, storm, flotsam


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 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..