A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Things seem to be coming to a sort of end...


Jules Junkface was at the point of death and barely breathing when Penny Popsickle arrived, puffing and panting and close on the heels of the girl in the red cloak who was riding a tandem with a wolf occupying the back seat.

“I’m afraid he’s about to peg it,” said Surgeon Chimpychunk sadly, “and I don’t like it when my patients peg it. It means I’ve not done my job properly, but what could I do against the virulent toxin the man himself put in the water supply of our noble forest? I’m even expecting some of the trees to die, and that would be a dire crime against all that is natural and wonderful...”

“Can I help?” asked Penny Popsickle, “I have been given a tincture that may stave off the dying process, or so a fat drunkard said.”

“At least it’s worth an attempt,” grated the surgeon, “though I have medicines of a most advanced nature in our pharmacy, and so far none of them have so much as made him bat an eyelid.”

“Then let me,” said the child Red, “here, dearest Penny, let me offer the tincture to my uncle.”

“We will both hold it,” smiled Penny, “come, dearest Red, and we will see if old Farmer Brandyface knows a thing or two after all.”

The two human females, the pretty child Red and the naturally beautiful woman Penny Popsickle together held the small flask and lowered it gently towards the dying man’s lips.

Only one drop, the tiniest drop, one too small to dribble, fell from the vessel and landed on the pale lips of the man whose face had all but melted away.

“It’s empty now,” sighed Red, “there was only one drop in the flask!”

“And to think I ran all the way with it, hoping it would work.” sighed Penny.

“Maybe it’s for the best. Uncle is so ugly now that he has lost most of his face,” whispered Red.

“Bwah! Who are you calling ugly?” demanded he who had been renamed Faceless, suddenly no longer dying but returning in a seemingly magical instant to life.

“That’s mighty wonderful medicine!” gasped the surgeon Chimpychunk, “if I didn’t know better I’d call it magic!”

“Urgh! It tastes foul!” groaned the patient, clearly no longer on his deathbed.

“Not as foul of the poison you put in the water,” said Wolfy, having regained his breath after miles of peddling from the back seat of the tandem.

“It was meant to clear the forest of life,” explained Faceless as though it was a perfectly acceptable thing, to commit murder on a massive scale in order to enrich yourself at such a huge cost.

“Not a nice thing to do,” chided the surgeon, careful not to annoy his patient and cause him to regress into the near-death state he’d just recovered from.

“It was horrible, Uncle!” wept Red, “I always knew you were a mean old man and now I know it!”

“But it’s the normal way we do business,” explained Faceless. “We decide what it is we want and go out into the world and get it! I wanted wealth, and I’d use some of it, dearest niece, to send you to an expensive school where you’ll learn everything there is to know about self-improvement and getting stinking rich! And the best way to do it when you’re into the building trade like I am is find a nice piece of land where nobody lives and built fancy houses on it, big gated enclaves where oligarchs can say they’ve got a bit of our country! I know they might not live in them, but that’s not the point. They pay a huge amount of money for them and that money ends up in my bank account and eventually pays for your education. So you see, I’m a philanthropist. That’s what I am. An ultimate do-gooder!”

“But there are hundreds of folks in the Forest, Uncle!” declared a shocked Red.

“Only animals, darling, only silly animals with no more right to God’s good earth than a turnip,” explained Faceless. “So when I have built my posh mansions and sold them to billionaires who can claim them against tax and thus not pay much of that, I can live in peace with my feet up and a dozen saucy maidens at my beck and call! And everything will be hunky dory and life will go on as if we had Heaven on Earth.

“You’re possibly the nastiest piece of work I ever met!” gasped Penny Popsickle, “and so selfishly greedy! There are many fine folks living in this Forest and you would kill them all?”

He stared at her, though in all truth it didn’t look much like a stare, not with his face missing and his eyes not quite sure where they were.

“They’re only creatures,” Faceless told her, leering. “Who gives a week’s poo for squirrels and rabbits, hares and hedgehogs? They don’t make a fellow rich, and it’s money in shedloads that’s all that’s important! Let them all perish! I’m more important than any of them!”

He would have carried on ranting and raving but the conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Maisy Wickles, the young beauty that Prickly had somewhat passionate thoughts about.

“I’ve come with a message!” she cooed, “my lover-boy Prickly sent me! The rivers and streams are running clean again! The poison has all been washed away! We think it’s in that lake the men built, but nobody’s quite sure...”

“You mean the reservoir?” gasped Penny, “because if it is everyone in the village gets their water from that reservoir! Everyone will die! And it will all be your fault!” She poked Faceless with her booted foot.

“I don’t care,” he grunted, “why should I if the water running through the Forest is clean at last? I’ll stay here...”

“You unprintable horror!” shouted Red, “wait till I tell mummy!”

“I’ll go and warn them all,” said Penny, and she shook her head despairingly “if only I wasn’t so tired,” she added with a yawn.

“We’ll take you!” suggested the grandmaster of the Rastling family, all of whom were perching in a nearby tree, watching and waiting to see what was going to be what.

“Can you?” she asked.

And they could. Swiftly because they decided it might be important, they attached silvery threads to Penny Popsickle and within minutes were rising above the trees and aiming towards the not so distant human village.

“Bah! Never saw anything so daft in my life!” jeered Faceless.

Then there was the sound of sweet harmony, and with a flourish Queen Gertitia was carried into the hospital ward and placed next to Faceless, who would have been blushing if he had a face capable of such a thing.

“You are to be tried in our courts even though you’re a man!” she announced, “and I fear I know what the verdict will be! Handcuff him!” she commanded, and a guard that consisted of what Faceless thought were badgers approached, and obeyed their queen.

“Tomorrow!” she announced, “so you’ve got a night to prepare your defence! Count yourself lucky because you gave no time at all to our people when you poisoned their water!”

© Peter Rogerson 01.11.18

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

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Added on November 1, 2018
Last Updated on November 3, 2018
Tags: Forest, hospital, near death, surgeon, animals, creatures mansions, oligarchs


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..