THE SPIRIT OF WAR

14 Oct

THE SPIRIT OF WAR.

BATTLEFIELD photo: Battlefield 1943 02 3_200906301030361D8J8.jpgThe cauldron was a warm place. Soffit had slept there for many nights, and he was always snug and cosy.
They all said, the old woman’s familiars, that he was the laziest creature ever spawned, but he didn’t care because he rather suspected that it was true. The old woman didn’t seem to mind either. She let him curl up in the bottom of the cauldron whilst she sang a little song to herself in between muttering darkly about the sins of Henrietta Blackboil.
She was Griselda Entwhistle and she was not any old witch but a mighty powerful one with spells beyond number at her finger tips. On the other hand, the gross Henrietta Blackboil was just a hag. No, more than that: she was a hag with a temper and access to rather too many nasty words for Griselda’s peace of mind – and Griselda could curse if the moment was right. That, really, was the difference between them: Griselda needed the moment to be right whilst Henrietta barely spoke a sentence if it didn’t contain particularly vicious words beginning with F.
But this tale isn’t about them. They barely enter into it. It concerns the lazy familiar Soffit.
I suppose you’d say he was a sprite, a spirit, a mischievous little fairy. And he liked nothing better than dozing off in the witch’s cauldron, right at the bottom where it was warmest, and letting the night air and everything in it pass over him. Then he’d be in far off places, scattering his vibes on aliens far from home.
He’d still be like that if it hadn’t been for the war.
Like all wars, it was between gods, or rather, between the supporters of opposing gods. There wasn’t a great deal of difference between any of the gods, but it seemed that every so often ordinary mortal men needed to take up arms against each other because they claimed to support different gods.
“They’re daft,” cackled Griselda to Henrietta. “They’ll grow up one day, they’ll mature, they’ll see sense, but at the moment they’re daft.”
“Feckin’ freaks,” agreed Henrietta.
And that about summed it up.
“I think,” said Griselda, “that I’ll create a potion that will put an end to all that nonsense for good. I’ll mix this up with that and something up with the other, whisper a few appropriate words into the mix and before you could say Jack Robinson, we’ll have a spell that will put an end to wars!”
“Feckin’ fruitbat!” hissed Henrietta.
But Griselda ignored her. She was used to being called a fruitbat. It went with the territory if you intended to associate with foul-mouthed hags like Henrietta Blackboil.
It was fun searching for her ingredients. She wandered through the countryside for miles around her ivy-clad cottage home, and sometimes even flew on her second-best broomstick, when, that is, her knobbly bottom wasn’t troubling her. Knobbly wooden broomstick shafts can play the very devil with an equally knobbly bottom.
And she ended up with a basket of ingredients. She collected all manner of floral things, petals of this, leaves of that the stamens of the other. She collected nuts and twigs and even caterpillars. For the more powerful bits and pieces she trawled through ditches where foetid things were decaying, and took them: the half-rotten eye of a deceased rat, the skin from the back of a long-deceased toad, those and other, nastier things that I refuse to mention here.
And while she was out and about, Soffit slept.
When she was satisfied that she had every possible ingredient for a spell that would call an end to human conflict she stood by her cauldron (note – the cauldron) dressed in a very best shawl, and recited stuff as she stirred and whisked her ingredients into a gruel-like soup. It didn’t smell particularly pleasant and you’d have thought Soffit might have been woken by its very toxicity. But he wasn’t. He was in the very middle of a dream about sugar and spice and all things nice, and nothing, not even magic and the tone-deaf Griselda, was going to waken him from that.
It wasn’t until the foul gruel was bubbling and hissing that Soffit finally woke up and he discovered several things in that instant we all have as we’re passing from the certainty of life to the uncertainty of death, and chief amongst them was the inalienable fact that his bubbling, painful death had done something to Griselda’s powerful stew.
The thought came and went in the winking of an eye – not Soffit’s eye because it was already cooked and, sadly, defunct.
And somewhere on a foreign battlefield someone said “Cease fire!”
And someone else said, “Maybe we should!”
And someone else suggested “Nah, not yet, our god wants more dead infidels!”
And the war went on whilst Griselda puzzled over what might have gone wrong with her spell.
© Peter Rogerson 14.10.14

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9 Responses to “THE SPIRIT OF WAR”

  1. irinadim October 15, 2014 at 1:10 am #

    Very enjoyable and witty story. The ending is sharp and to the point.

    Cheers, Irina

  2. Peter Rogerson October 15, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    Thanks, Irana. I try to wrap little messages in fictitious clothes.

  3. slpsharon October 15, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    And so the same old remains same old. Good story.

  4. barbod2014angusbelle October 15, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    Poor Soffit, Griselda wasn’t concentrating and her spell goes wrong. Just imagine if she checked the cauldron first! But then there would have been no tale today……….
    ……..

  5. pambrittain October 19, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    Poor little guy.

  6. Peter Rogerson October 19, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

    I’ve returned to one of my favourite characters…

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