30 Oct

GRISELDA AND A BIT OF COMMON SENSE

 FLYING WITCH photo: Flying Witch awitchflying.gif
“When you’re a witch with as much magic at your finger-tips that you could throw a cat at, why let things carry on like this!” grumbled Griselda, who had done two things in rapid succession: she had cut her finger on a potato knife and she had read the newspaper that had accidentally been put through her own letter box not an hour earlier.
Dealing with the finger was easy. All she needed was a plaster and a tiny squeeze of special cream from an ancient tube.
Dealing with the news in the newspaper, though, was less easy.
It seemed that some really unpleasant people had decided that the entire world should be converted to their peculiar beliefs, and those beliefs were truly peculiar. In fact, they were worse than peculiar because they involved the worship of a totally imaginary dog called Rover. In the hackneyed publications they scattered here, there and everywhere, and in brutalising videos they sneaked into the offices of newsmen and broadcasters, they explained, in pidgin English, that Rover had created the known Universe, that his prophet Scamp had told a huge variety of mighty truths, and that anyone who gainsaid those truths should be either blown to smithereens or have their heads removed from their bodies by a hooded executioner if they, the Roverites, ran out of Semtex.
“This is outrageous!” snapped Griselda to Henrietta Blackboil, a neighbour from a couple of miles away – she had to live that far from the Blackboil woman on account of the smell that drifted on many a sour wind from the latter’s boudoir when she was vomiting.
“It’s life,” grunted Henrietta, “and what you pissin’ going to do about it?”
“I’m going to put things right, that’s what I’m going to do, hag!” snapped Griselda. She was approaching a very big birthday in three figures and a bit and was gradually becoming more tetchy. Years do that to everyone, especially to witches.
With no more ado she grabbed her broomstick, not her second-best one, which she used most of the time, but her very best one.
“If a job’s to be done a body needs the proper equipment,” she told herself, and she zoomed off.
Now, the reprobates she was after lived quite a long way away – on another continent, if the truth were to be told. And they lived in camps of pseudo-military divisions of bullies. The moment Griselda (who was quite capable of flying there in a single night if she switched to overdrive) saw what she was up against she spat and nodded her head and muttered “I thought so…”
The camps were laid out in a random, untidy sort of way. There were louts with their heads covered in smelly old sacking marching about aimlessly. There were women screaming in agony behind barred windows, the way women do when they are being degraded by loutish perverts. There were very young children with their entrails hanging out begging to be forgiven, and in a special square there was a particularly vicious looking bully preparing to hack a young woman’s head off with a rusty knife.
“This is what I expected to find,” she grunted. “This is a place of insanity! These oafs want us to believe they have a special purpose and just look at the way they go about it! They want is to believe that Rover and the prophet Scamp are sacrosanct, that their names should never be muttered by non-believers– yet look at them! They believe in nothing deeper than pain and death! Their one and only concern is to distribute torture and suffering amongst humanity! I must put a stop to all this!”
With a loud squawk that she was truly proud of, Griselda, aboard her best broomstick and like a demon from a netherworld, stooped through the skies, the very image of tatty, eccentric power.
At the sound of her siren-like approach the scruffy yobbos, strolling with characteristic aimlessness through the dirty compound, paused and surveyed the skies. The executioner, who was about to deal a lethal blow with his rusty blade across a clean white neck paused mid-stroke, shielded his eyes and gazed into the bright blue skies.
And Griselda arrived in front of him.
“What is this?” she demanded. “Why are you about to separate that woman’s head from her body? What is she to you, monster?”
The executioner, blood-stained hood squinting, had never felt more affronted. “She is an infidel,” he muttered, and his voice sounded feeble as though a wind might have blown through his empty head, dislodging cobwebs and detritus and leaving only a mindless vacuum behind.
“Help me…” wept the to-be-victim. “I’m only here to heal the sick…”
“She abuses the name of our dog,” retorted the hooded wretch, “and all who do that deserve no better than death!”
“You mean the dog that never existed?” smiled Griselda sweetly, “the imaginary beast that has sullied your fair land for generations, and shaped your philosophy with lies and fairy tales? And his ludicrous prophet – what do you call him? Scamp? As in Scamp come here! Heel, scamp, heel! Down Rover!”
“You are blaspheming!” roared a voice behind Griselda.
She spun round, which is quite a feat for a hundred-and-something year-old lady holding a nice, shiny broomstick.
“Ah! So here we have the puppet master,” she breathed, “and here was silly me bandying words with his puppet!”
The man she was addressing was no scruffy bully nor nose-dribbling wretch, nor did he carry before him a blade or automatic rifle. No: he was dressed after the manner of Presidents and kings in mufti. His suit was smart, his demeanour one of wealth, his expression sardonic.
“The woman blasphemes, Master,” croaked the executioner.
“So, Mr Puppet Master, what are you going to do with this infidel?” asked Griselda and her most wheedling voice. “Am I to be struck through with a bloodied blade? Is my head to be untidily removed from my ancient carcase? Are you going to incarcerate me in a deep and dark dungeon until I croak my sins before your torturer? Or are you to fall on your greedy knees and be seen, by the wretches that serve you, for what you are? Down, I say, down! By all the magic in the Universe I order you onto your knees!”
And the man, a look of unbelieving shock on his face, found himself sinking to his knees under the power of Griselda’s spell.
“Behold the man who gains from your subservience,” proclaimed Griselda, her voice much too loud and powerful for so old a woman. “His pockets are full to overflowing with notes and coins collected for your struggle! He has gold and gems galore, for he is your leader! And when he has gained enough and you are brought lower than the rats that scurry through your pantries as we speak, he will bask under a bright, clean sun with fair maidens around him and his feet moistened by a balmy tide, while you all die in filth!”
The army of bullies gathered round and were overpowered by the strange light in the old woman’s eyes. They looked at each other, questioningly, then they looked at the ground.
“It’s up to you,” she said, “up to all of you. His name will end up on the list of evil rulers who have plagued this planet for millennia, and will be used as an example of all that is most savage in the hearts of men. But where will yours be? Think of it…”
And quietly, with humility and wisdom, she climbed back onto the shaft of her very best broomstick and rose into the air, majestic, skirts flapping, tall hat streaming behind her.
And the executioner, with one bloodied sweep, hacked the head from the shivering body of the man who’d led them into hell.
© Peter Rogerson 30.10.14

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