A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

An eminent surgeon makes a suggestion to Farmer Spiky


The strange symbiosis known as the Lone Ranger had just entered the Pathologist’s laboratory when a stentorian voice called out, “Just a minute, you there, let me in!”

It was Oliver barging in. Or rather, as he demanded he was called, Sir Oliver, though nobody had bestowed any sort of knighthood upon him. But in the hospital he was the most important surgeon with fabled skills with both spatula and scalpel, and everyone agreed that he should be called Sir Oliver even when he made a mistake with either implement. Especially when.

In the turgid world of homo sapiens he would have been called an Ostrich, but in the deep and long lost forest kingdom he was merely a Sir Oliver, but it must be noted that with the absence of opposable thumbs amongst his luxurious feathers he performed remarkably well with a beak.

“Now hold on there!” he ordered in his rather squeaky avian voice, “what’s going on and let me take a good long look at this!”

He pushed himself towards the marble table on which lay an increasingly feeble Farmer Spiky, who was bemoaning the fact that his spines were all growing limp as the strength oozed from him due to a long pathologist’s incision that was anything but bone dry.

“Who did this?” he roared. He could roar even when his roars sounded more like squeaks. But everyone knew what he meant.

“I was certain he was dead, sir,” muttered Longshanks the Pathologist, wafting his huge tail dangerously close to the surgeon’s extravagant tail feathers.

“But he wasn’t, was he?” hissed the surgeon.

“No, I wasn’t,” whispered the patient, “and if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate a bit of repair work before I pass into the great big tortoise house in the sky. If that isn’t too much to ask, that is.”

“The poor man’s delirious!” snapped Oliver, “I say you, nursey Lone Rangery thing or whatever you say you are, stitch the blighter up before I decide to delve into his innards and find something that really needs operating on!”

“Yes, your holiness,” gasped the Lone Ranger in a voice that would have sounded perfect as part of a duet. Then Cedricina, with Cedric carefully perched on her back, climbed onto the marble slab and looked at the bleeding patient.

“I’d say we were only just in time,” she murmured, “are you ready Cedric, old friend?”

“Whenever you are,” grunted the silkworm. “Spinnerets and spigots at the ready, eh?”

“Then go, go, go!” shrieked Cedricina.

Then began the most amazing dance ever seen on any planet under any sun, and I know that for certain because I just wrote it.

Cedric shot out a length of the finest medical silk ever seen anywhere, and Cedricina caught it and somehow managed to wind it round one leg and past another, and then weave it into the cut and still seeping flesh of the sad old Farmer Spiky. And then the centipede almost ran with considerably more than an occasional hop and skip and jump along the length of the incision whilst the silkworm produced ever more silky thread. If it was a dance it was beautiful to behold and had the sort of rhythm to it that captivated the audience. West End musicals could be made about it, and curvy sopranos sing its wonders.

“Splendid,” boomed Oliver.

“Very clever,” admitted the pathologist, “all I can do is use gardening twine and a thick needle. But I must agree that what you’re doing is something special.”

“You ain’t seen nothing yet!” assured the Lone Ranger.

“It’s tickling!” giggled the patient.

“Nearly there!” And the symbiosis stitching the farmer back up came to the end of the incision and, with a mighty flourish, tied the silk off in a tiny but perfectly executed bow.

“That’s done it!” grinned Cedricina.

“You can help make my Christmas streamers any time you like!” gasped Prickly.

“What’s Christmas?” asked Oliver.

“A time of celebration and gift giving,” explained Prickly, “they say,” he added.

“Right,” boomed a puzzled Oliver, then he looked up at the assembled gathering. The incision on the farmer’s chest was already showing signs of knitting together, such was the skill of the Lone Ranger, both centipede and silkworm working in rapid unison. “What we need to do, then, is establish who tried to murder the good farmer,” he began.

“That’s right,” said Elflight, pushing himself forward. After all, he was the chief of police and it ought to have been him making that sort of suggestion. He looked at the farmer, and being an officer of the law he must be forgiven for looking at him suspiciously. After all, the man was almost certainly the victim of a major crime.

“Who tried to top you?” he asked bluntly.

“You what?” stammered the farmer.

“I said, who tried to top you? Who took a baseball bat or allied piece of weaponry to your spiny thatch and knocked seven bells out of you?”

“As a surgeon, I can tell it must have been some dreadful desperado intent on all sorts of heinous crimes,” put in Oliver, “a nautical pirate perhaps?”

“A refugee from the lands of men?” suggested Prickly, who had a thing about refugees from the lands of men because he found them generally obnoxious and ridiculously egotistic.

“It can’t be anyone local,” put in Cedric, “because, despite a huge array of racial types, ranging from large insects to huge carnivores, we all get along so well in the forest that it’s a wonder those carnivores don’t die of starvation!”

“But you’ve got it all wrong...” said the farmer, still weakly, though he was beginning to feel less nauseous.

“The forest is a place where the lion can most assuredly lie down with the lamb and the gerbil has nothing to fear from the Rottweiler, as our lovely Lone Ranger suggests,” said Elflight, “and we must weed out the scumbag who attacked you and make an example of him!”

“Them,” sighed the farmer.

“Them? There were more than one of them? You poor sod,” whispered Prickly.

“I was feeding my stock under the horse chestnut tree when a gust of wind blew, and it, being autumn, is the time of year when the fruits of that tree choose to fall to the ground and seek somewhere to grow next year. I was attacked, if you must know, by a hail of conkers which knocked me clean out.”

“Goodness me!” exclaimed Oliver, and then: “if I were you, old son, I’d seek some legal advice! I think you’ve got a claim to make. Assuming you were dead indeed! Coppers and pathologists! What do they think they’re up to!”

© Peter Rogerson 08.10.18

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

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Added on October 8, 2018
Last Updated on October 8, 2018
Tags: pathologist, stitching, surgeon, ostrich


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..