James Banger 2013
Satisfied with his work, Sly gave the rope a second yank and then dropped it to the ground again. Still the cord held and lay tightly coiled. Sly raised his cane and stretched out for the hook which was suspended off the opposite end of the rope, furled over the reel. Once he let his full weight hang from the hook, the rope would lower him down to the shore of the lake as the hanging coil of rope was reeled back through the winch. He just hoped the rust on the cogs didn’t jam the whole device before he was all the way down. He had also observed that the electrical circuits which had once operated the device were completely flat-the cords frayed and broken. The control panel had long since sparked out and not a single buzz of electricity emanated from it. There would be no interference there. Sly looped the crook of his cane over the hook. Bouncing on the balls of his feet, he quickly tested his weight. The frame swayed a final time and creaked as the nails rattled in their fixtures. But just as Sly was about to plunge off of the cliff edge to the sand below, a bellowing wail of sirens tore through the night air.
Over on the northern side of the island, almost three kilometres away, Carmelita suddenly heard a wailing shriek emanating off of the cliffs, as if a siren were going off. Something was wrong and she knew it. What trouble had Cooper worked himself into? She could not just sit there and let the ring-tail be at the mercy of the Fiendish Five. Glancing nervously over at her two captives, Carmelita gulped and stiffened her resolve. Her chest heaved as she breathed in heavily, with measured breaths. Something must be done. A storm was coming: she had felt it from the beginning. Her affection for the raccoon now seemed even more important than it had been to her before. She must be prepared for the fight she knew was to come. The men needed to be ready, they all must be ready. Then the battle could be overcome. It was time to fight. She was ready to tackle anything.
“Don’t worry Cooper,” she said quietly, “I am here for you, and we will fight this together. Together we will overcome and survive. I promise it.”
She stood up resolutely and strode over towards the men. They all glanced up expectantly as she marched towards them. They could all tell from the grim look on her face that something big was about to occur.
Crispin and Disprin
In a neighbourhood not far away,
Lived a young man called Crispin,
Crispin was concerned about medical health,
So he kept a chest of Disprin.
Then one day his aunt became sick,
She was called Martha May Lyle,
She had boils and a hacking cough,
She even brought up bile!
So Crispin was on the scene,
With his medical chest,
But though he shoved pill upon pill down her throat,
He could not bring back her zest.
Crispin was amazed,
At this strange reaction,
So he seized the telephone,
And called the next best faction.
He made a call,
To his close friend Noel,
Who was in possession,
Of a chest of Panadol.
So Noel appeared on the spot,
To try and tempt the sick aunt,
With his miracle medicinal potion,
But she just said “Shan’t”!
Then Crispin had an idea,
Something he had not thought of ever,
He seized Panadol and Disprin alike,
And he mixed them both together!
Then he applied this to his ailing aunt,
His magic wonder brew,
Upon which she jumped from bed,
Completely good as new!
Then Crispin, Noel and aunt alike,
Praised the miracle of Disprin,
Upon which they danced around the bed,
Praising the ingenious Crispin!
The Adventures of Professor Knowitall and Harleycootoon
It was a bright and sunny morning. The golden rays of light shone down upon grassy, green slopes that stretched across a rugged landscape. Several large, grey and craggy boulders littered the hills like huge marbles giant children had dropped. A few lush, green trees with thick foliage clung to outcrops here and there. Even the occasional swallow or finch darted across the slopes like graceful acrobats. A small babbling creek ran through a gully that wound by the hills. The creek also had a bed covered in pebbles and pond weed. Several more plants such as bull rushes and lilies floated serenely in the water. Several clouds were passing above in lazy, curling patterns like blobs of white cotton. As they passed by a breeze was stirred up that rustled the lush grass and bracken growing on the hill. Then the breeze blew over and the hills were silent.
Suddenly there was a small popping sound like a cork out of a wine bottle. A whirling air current descended, spinning as it went onto one of the hillsides near a large boulder. It span around about ten times before evaporating and revealing a relatively tall man wearing a majestic satin black robe. As the man regained his balance he could be seen clearly as being a rather venerable gentleman of at least sixty years with a long, white beard that dangled to his waist. He had a slightly browned, wrinkly face that was composed of a luxurious white moustache, twinkling blue eyes and a charming smile full of teeth.
About the man’s waist was a thick brown belt with a large silver buckle. From this belt hung an assortment of bottles, vials and powders as well as preserved leaves and celestial looking moon stones. The man also carried a brown shoulder satchel in which he carried many parchment scrolls and large, heavy books. The man’s robes also had long, tapering sleeves embroidered with gold lining as well as satin gold celestial symbols embroidered over the back and front of the garment. As well as his luxurious attire, the man whore a pointy, black hat, also with a silver buckle on the front and a wide brim around it. The hat was enclosed by a thick, brown band and patterned with symbols. Lastly the man carried in his left hand a long, wooden staff with many notches in the surface that was capped at the top with a clear, crystalline stone that reflected the sun’s rays. The staff completed the slightly quirky picture.
A few seconds after he had appeared, the man suddenly jumped onto the large boulder he had appeared by. The man then placed his staff upon the rock as he pulled a device that looked like a watch out of a pocket in his robes. The only thing was that this watch had seven extra hands than normal and several other strange and bizarre symbols decorating its face as well as numerals. However, the man seemed to be able to understand it as he glanced at the face, scanned the view in front of him and then placed the watch on the rock beside his staff. The man then reached into the depths of his robes for a second time and yanked out a ragged, white mass about the size of a soft ball. The mass then shivered in his hand and uncurled to reveal a creature about thirty centimetres high with large ears and a pair of leathery wings. The creature squawked with apparent displeasure at being stuffed into the man’s pocket.
“Oh dash it all Professor” said the leathery creature “I wish when I travel with you as a companion I wasn’t stuffed into that pocket. It has your spare eel’s eyes and crushed beetles in there.” The creature which turned out to be a bat brushed itself down and turned to stare at the venerable professor.
“Oh don’t make such a fuss Harleycooton” said the professor to the bat “Just because I am a wizard as well it doesn’t mean I can provide superb travelling quarters.” He fixed the bat with a reproving stare.
Harleycooton the bat sniffed and begin speaking again.
“Well never mind that Professor Knowitall, can you tell me if we actually got anywhere on this journey?” In reply, Professor Knowitall put Harleycooton down onto the rock beside his foot and picked up the strange watch device again.
“Well my fine, flying friend” said the professor in a scornful tone “I can tell you much on that part of the quandary. According to my Clockenshpeal the direction of true north is that way and we need to go true west.” He then proceeded to point out north to Harleycooton and then directed his attention to the west which proceeded towards a grove of trees and a few hills.
“Ah so that is the direction we must go” said Harleycooton in understanding “true west is the way there. That really is an ingenious device professor.” With a slightly prideful grin on his face, Knowitall slipped the device called the Clockenshpeal into his pocket and lifted his staff from the boulder.
“Well then” he said “now that you are satisfied and we have our bearings, we shall be on our way.” The professor then swept up his staff from the rock and leapt lightly onto the earthen ground below. Harleycooton followed him by flapping up to the edge of the craggy boulder and soaring off of the end. He then gently glided to rest on the professor’s shoulder. The professor then began to march smartly across the hills towards the distant grove.
The sun was by now high in the sky and the professor and Harleycooton were proceeding ever closer towards the grove of trees. The bat was flapping by the professor’s hat as he marched and led with his staff in a smart fashion. Presently the professor again searched his pocket and revealed the Clockenshpeal.
“Hmmmm” the professor mused to himself “we seem to have advanced rather more to the south than I had expected. The sun is closer to our right than it should be.” The professor continued to study one of the sun like symbols on the clock face and then he repeatedly glanced up at the sky in a whimsical way. Harleycooton made a landing on Knowitall’s boot as the professor halted to pull a parchment scroll from his satchel. He then sank to his knees on the ground; sending Harleycooton flapping onto a nearby rock in fear of being squashed and unfurled the scroll. It was adorned with many symbols and a large star chart as well as a legend detailing the meaning of the symbols. A compass like symbol was also inscribed on the left corner except that it had many celestial symbols stencilled on its points.
“My, my, my, what an exotic chart” said Harleycooton in an inquisitive tone, flapping onto the parchment. “This really is very detailed professor; I have never seen anything like it. How will it help us?” The professor glanced up at his companion and tugged at his beard in a thoughtful way before answering.
“Well Harleycooton” said Knowitall “It is a moon chart that can be used in conjunction with my clockenshpeal to determine our route. I believe we need to follow the path laid out by the celestial pattern that appears in the winter months. That will lead us to the precise point.” After this brief explanation, he rolled the scroll up again and shoved it into the satchel. Then he stood up and stretched.
“We had better get going” said the professor “we need to reach Elmira forest by nightfall.” He then pulled a rolled up map from under his hat and began to march forth as he examined it. Harleycooton gave a small sigh of fatigue and propelled himself into the air and flapped after the professor’s receding back. He caught up again and hovered by his ear.
“You know professor Knowitall” Harleycooton said “I don’t actually know what we are looking for. You never told me this morning and here we are. Where are we going?” The professor rolled up the map and shoved it back under his hat. Then he spoke.
“My fine companion” said Knowitall “The mission is quiet simple. We must cross these hills and then enter Elmira forest. We must then trek through the forest until we reach its southern border. After that we must cross the Elmira marshes and then we must cross the plains of Borbador upon which we shall reach our goal.” The professor grinned smartly down at Harleycooton in apparent understanding. Harleycooton felt completely confused.
“But why is this so” he asked in a perplexed way “why cross all these hazards to reach whatever our goal is. Why not just evaporate like we did to get here in the first place. What is our goal anyway? My head is reeling!” Again the professor sighed and spoke.
“I should have made it clearer” he confessed “first of all our goal is to reach the tower of Borbador in the south where the conjugation of the wizarding and druidical council gathers. Here I have been told I can collect some important information on the dark lord of the north, Faragorn. Also the head of the wizarding council, Alphabier has called for my aid as he says he is in possession of some sort of artefact which is essential that I receive. He also says it is essential against our struggle with the dark power I have had rumours of rising in the northern mountains. It is believed that Faragorn’s power is rising again. We must travel in such a way, not by magic as Faragorn is very likely to have spies everywhere. He is not likely to follow us throughout our route.”
Harleycooton’s head was reeling after this long speech. He gave a slight shudder at the mention of Faragorn. He shivered as a chilled wind blew past them. It was now early evening and the sun was lowering behind the hills. Large shadows began to appear like grotesque figures in the dirt. Harleycooton landed on Knowitall’s shoulder and huddled closer to his ear.
“Professor” he whispered into the ear “how do you know this is not a trap. For all we know in any of the villages we pass or at the wizard’s council itself, Faragorn could be laying a trap for you. You are a powerful adversary and I am sure that he would be keen to capture you.” Harleycooton quivered and clutched at the professor’s beard.
“Oh don’t fret about it Harleycooton” said the professor “for that reason we are travelling incognito so we are not captured. It is essential we attend that council or Faragorn may very well be able to spread his dark shadow across all the lands of Boraibier.” He smiled reassuringly at Harleycooton and looked up again. They had not noticed it, but they had now reached the edge of Elmira forest. The dark and twisted trees leaned over them and spread menacing shadows across the ground. Dark green mosses clung to their craggy trunks and vines with huge, twisted leafs draped from the canopy. The forest looked rather menacing and Harleycooton at least was not pleased about entering it.
Then suddenly and without warning a loud whooshing sound began and quickly rose to an enormous pitch. Harleycooton clapped his paws over his large ears and moaned as the keening noise grew higher in pitch. The startled professor whipped around, turning away from the forest edge to look behind him. He fell to his knees in surprise. Several billowing, black spirits had appeared in the shadowed sky and were soaring towards the spot. Their dark shimmering bodies twisted into grotesque human like shapes and they formed a ring around the startled pair, backing them towards the forest edge. The strange beings began to draw closer and squash together into a wispy mass. They bulged and morphed into a giant, oozing lump. Strange silver symbols could be seen glimmering on their chests, but only for a moment. As the creatures merged together, the star like symbols disappeared and the moonlight was blocked from sight. The pair was surrounded by the dark, billowing mass. They were surrounded!
The black spirits were still squashing themselves together, merging into one as they approached professor Knowitall and Harleycooton. The professor crawled backwards towards the edge of the trees, feeling for his staff lying on the ground. Harleycooton flapped backwards and hit a rock, tripping over backwards and tangling himself in a thorn bush. By now the keening sound they had heard as the creatures approached had stopped and was replaced by a hideous oozing sound. The individual spirits had all but vanished and where now a huge and billowing mass. They squeezed closer until there were only a few square metres of ground between them and their victims. Harleycooton squealed in terror.
“Professor” he wailed desperately “what shall we do? If we can’t do something soon we shall be enveloped by these beings.” He seized the professor’s boot and shuddered.
“Do not fear Harleycooton” the professor said in the most gallant voice he could muster “we shall get out of this.” As soon as these words had left his mouth, Knowitall’s scrabbling hand found his notched wooden staff lying abandoned by a tree trunk. He seized it and brought it swinging round in front of him. The encircling ring of creatures didn’t seem to have any reaction other than jiggling in a convulsive way that seemed to suggest laughter. They squished closer as the professor approached the dark mass, wielding his staff in the most deadly way he could muster.
“See how you like this” he said in a terrifying voice. He began to whirl his staff in an arc above his hat as he muttered a sort of incantation under his breath. A burning, flaming sphere of fire appeared at the tip of the crystal like stone and it burned red hot. It grew to the size of a football and flaming arcs leapt from it, singing patches of grass at professor Knowitall’s feet. Then with a swoop he swung the staff towards the closest wall of the black mass and the fireball flew straight at it.
The flaming sphere struck the beast in the place where the heart should have been; right were the silver mark on its chest appeared and it erupted. The creature shrivelled down to the size of a shrub and crumpled in on itself. The black mist around the creature hissed and evaporated into the night air and black ooze erupted from the silver mark. The flame soon caught on the goo and the remains smouldered, letting a black smoke into the air. Finally the flame disappeared revealing a small patch of ooze that writhed for a few seconds before erupting again into a puff of smoke and evaporating. In the spirits place lay a silver sphere with a large, jagged crack down its gleaming face.
The other remaining spirits seemed to writhe again in dismay and anger at the demise of their fellow. The professor’s brief smile of victory vanished again as the other beings swelled again and the gap disappeared. There was a boiling fury in their movements now and their sleek forms seemed to be rippling and bulging into hideous shapes. The wall pushed further inwards and towards the pair. A loud squelching sound began as the creatures came into contact with the tree trunks at the edge of the forest. But they did not stop and the trees were pushed into their gelatinous bodies as they oozed further in.
Then a horrible bulge appeared on the closest creature and it swelled into a pustule like protuberance. It burst, sending a spray of liquid onto the hem of the professor’s robes and sticking it to the ground. The professor struggled to throw off the glue like bond as another pustule burst and glued Harleycooton’s left wing to a rock. The professor could no longer reach his staff and he could not even cast a spell. There was absolutely no room to move as the ooze began to envelope them at the waist. There professor trembled and Harleycooton writhed, trying to escape the goo.
“They are about to envelop us” Harleycooton said in distress “we will be smothered! They will keep on oozing over our bodies until we cannot breath.” He screeched another time and a creature shot a glob of ooze at him which narrowly missed and splattered onto a nearby rock.
“I fear you may be right” said the professor languidly “we have been beaten.” He sank deeper into the rising pool of muck as he said this and the creatures rippled excitedly.
Suddenly there was a bellowing yell and a loud call, followed by a fanfare of voices. The duo managed to turn their heads just as they pool rose to their knees and they locked around at an opening in the forest. Out of a gap in the trees a trio of short and stocky looking creatures came barrelling at a great rate, wielding axes and blades above their heads and screaming a terrifying war cry. They rushed towards the creatures with their helmets down and weapons out.
The creatures seemed to look up at the noise and they writhed again as they turned the gelatinous mass towards the oncoming dwarves. The creature at the head then lunged forward and several large pustules swelled up and burst, sending several large slime spheres careening towards the oncoming rescuers. But the creature at the head of the pack; the one with the largest and most bushy beard lunged to the side and twisted around, out of its way. The ball splattered uselessly against a vine encrusted tree trunk and slid down to the ground. The other creatures followed his leave and ducked and weaved this way and that as an absolute storm of slime was rained upon them.
The dark spirits seemed to be getting more and more aggravated as they could not hit the oncoming dwarves. One creature lunged forward again, separating itself from the mass with a squelching sound and tried to envelop the nearest dwarf. But again it missed and its gelatinous body thumped into the dirt. The dwarf then flung his axe before him and using it like a pole he pivoted himself onto the creatures back. The creature at sudden realization shook its oozing body and quivered its slimy appendages trying to shake the creature off. But the dwarf leaped out of its way again by catching its axe blade on an overhanging tree branch and swinging above the flailing limbs.
While this was going on the other dwarves raced towards the mass of creatures enveloping professor Knowitall and Harleycooton who seemed intent upon drowning them. They again gave out a hideous cry and leapt at the wall of ooze. The creatures saw them coming, but it was too late. The first dwarf with a bristling, black moustache hoisted his fellow with long, brown plaits onto his shoulders and tossed him towards the rising pool. The flying dwarf yelled again and swung a vicious looking spear at one creature and drove it clean through the silver mark. The creature let out a bellowing squeal and crumpled as had its fellow. The oozing mass began to recede as it disappeared.
The dwarf they had first seen meanwhile had succeeded in driving his double bladed axe straight through the creature’s heart, cutting it cleanly in half. It also writhed and fell to the ground where its body turned to mist and evaporated. Soon the ground was littered with shiny spheres. But there were still three creatures left and they were absolutely intent upon smothering professor Knowitall and Harleycooton. They both wailed as their mouths were covered.
“Fear not my friends” bellowed the bushy bearded dwarf “those creatures shall not overcome you. Come my fellows; let us take these beasts down.” They all gave a hearty cry and raced towards the remaining spirits. The spirits writhed in anger and rose many metres above the dwarves.
“You are right my friends” said the professor in reply “what was I thinking in giving up? We are not beaten at all.” He hitched a determined expression onto his face and smiled as he said this.
“To right professor” Harleycooton said in approval “let’s send these balls of slime back where they deserve.” He strained and wriggled in the slimy pool and managed to pull his right wing free.