A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

A warning about the water in the forest


Elflight turned and stared at Jules Junkface who no longer had much of a face left, and what remained was bubbling and hissing and dripping off.

“You’re an ugly twerp,” he said quietly, but the man could barely talk through his howls of anguish and tears of self-pity, so he jabbered a meaningless reply and searched in his man-bag for a bottle of water he knew he carried in order to dilute the spittle that was melting his face.

Footpad had been feeling weary due to the nocturnal clamour of his huge family of nippers, as he called them, and was more ready for bed than any creature of the forest could possibly be.

“Let’s finish him off and get home,” he suggested.

“What do you mean, finish him off?” asked a shocked Elflight, “he may be an ugly twerp but he has the right to be heard in a court of law!”

“What are you too clattering about?” asked Jules Junkface.

The joy, so far as the inhabitants of the forest were concerned, was that they could understand the man’s words though he, apparently, heard only a meaningless rabble and a rattle when they spoke. Elflight looked at him accusingly.

“We are going to charge you with the attempted murder of the gentle Twinkletoes,” he said, suddenly all legal pomp and circumstance, “you may have lost the greater part of your face in your interaction with my friend Footpad here, but you must remember the way you deceived and mistreated our most senior judge, the good Toowitty. Fluffybunce saw it straight away, probably because he has had experience of the world outside the forest having strayed from there and been adopted into our society. So you will be charged with all sorts of nasty crimes, and let me tell you here and now that the penalty for such crimes in the Forest are most severe. I don’t wish to anticipate the judgement of the proper court, but you will probably be sentenced to being tickled to death!”

Nothing of that almost exhaustive speech made any sense at all to the man who just gazed at his two accusers, tears pouring from what he had left of his eyes and drips of semi-dissolved face hissing as they landed on the forest floor, causing columns of tiny green ants to scurry away for safety as quickly as their little legs could carry them.

Then the man tried to fling himself at his two accusers, anger fleshing in what he had left of his eyes, but he pulled back when he saw that Footpad was rolling another load of no-doubt concentrated spittle around in his mouth, ready to launch it at him. Suddenly, it seemed, the turn of events, unexpected and even beyond his imagination as they sprang from what he saw as a simple gang of forest creatures, devoid of any rational thought and merely following the prepared blindness of instinct, became all too much for him.

“What have I done?” he wept. “Why are you treating me like this? All I am is a man and being a man I am the master of all creatures, a representative of the dominant life-force on this wretched planet! It is written, and I know this as a fact because I wrote it, that all creatures are subservient to men! It is our role under the sun to control and yours to obey, and look at my poor face!”

“It is a mess,” murmured Elflight, who along with Judge Toowitty had a smattering of the man’s tongue. “If I had a face like that,” he continued, “which is still being eaten away by my friend’s extremely concentrated saliva, but if I had a face like that I would want to wash it with the pure water of the Forest glades.”

“I’ve got a bottle,” grunted the man, “and it cost me a fair penny too. Spring Water, pure as the daintiest rainfall and filtered by the rockiest mountains...”

“Then splash some on that face of yours while you still have it,” suggested Elflight.

“But I can’t find it!” wept the man, scrabbling in his man-bag and finding only a few rounds of ammunition for his twelve-bore, a penknife and a conker on some string.

“Then come with me!” said Elflight sharply, and without giving any warning he grabbed the man in a pincer-like grip and forced him past a copse within the forest to where a stream babbled cheerily along.

“Wash in that!” he ordered.

“But I can’t” wept the man, “I daren’t! I emptied foul toxins into it so that all creatures in this blasted forest would die and I would be able to build some fine mansions fit for men to live in! And not just any men, either, but the rich sort, those who like to buy posh places and keep them as insurance against the ups and downs of the financial world! There are oligarchs on my list of potential buyers, oligarchs with more money than sense, and they’re going to give it all to me when I build tidy little gated enclaves for them to drool over!”

“You would destroy our kingdom for that?” asked Elflight, astounded. “Did you hear that, Footpad?” he asked, turning to his weary companion.

“I heard it, but it was no more than a load of gobbledegook to me,” replied Footpad, yawning. “Excuse me while I take a mouthful of this water to cleanse my palate,” he added, moving to cup some water from the stream and drink it, “my acid can become somewhat of an irritant.”

“No!” screamed Elflight, “don’t touch the stream!”

“Why? It’s only water!” scoffed Footpad, bending towards it.

“The man has poisoned it!” rapped Elflight, “he was turned all the streams and rivers of our forest into fountains of death! By his own admission he has chosen to destroy our world by using mass murder as a tool! Footpad, you must raise the alarm right now! You must rush into the centre of our kingdom, to Wlifreda’s Clearing, and sound whatever bells you can and demand that no soul from our happy place touches one drop of the water in rivers and streams until it has been cleansed from its source! Go now! Go quick! It is the most vital job you will ever do in all of your life!”

“But I’m half dead with weariness,” complained Footpad.

“Then you must forget that! Go! Fly before it is too late! And if one soul dies because you linger on your way you will have me and the law to face!”

Footpad took one look at the expression on his face and fled. There was nothing else he could do, and he knew he must do his best. Even before he was out of earshot they could hear him shouting a dire warning through the forest.

“He’s a good soul,” sighed Elflight, “now let me see about your hideous face. Wash it, creature of death, wash it in the water you love so much...”

And he pushed the man’s head forcefully into the water until it was washing all over his molten face.

“Faceless I call you,” he muttered grimly, “and Faceless you will be!”

© Peter Rogerson 26.10.18

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

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Added on October 26, 2018
Last Updated on October 26, 2018
Tags: man, toxins, poison, acid, melting face, warning


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..