The crazy novel I’ve been working on for a rather long time now called Clerical Error contains some of my favourite characters that I’ve ever written. I wanted to start writing some short fiction again and thought maybe using some of them would be a good place to start to get me back into both my novel and writing short fiction. Here is what I’ve come up with.
Mayhem & Marb vs. The Kitty – Clerical Error Fiction
“Sir, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Nonsense!” His wimp of a master whined from atop a rickety wooden bench. “All you have to do is just scamper up the tree and get the thing down.”
“Scamper, Sir?” Marb stared down at his rotting fingertips and considered the difficulty of scaling trees without feeling in his skin.
“Yes, yes!” Draoil pointed up at the creature which had them both so vexed. A small ginger fluffy thing stared down at him with a look that Draoil chose to interpret as ‘scheming’ rather than rather ‘bloody terrified’. “Hurry up, the spell has to be performed at sunset!”
Marb sighed, pushing up the sleeves on his worn blue doublet. “Maybe after this spell Sir will deem me worthy of some new skin…” His voice was low, but even still his stomach churned – it wasn’t proper to be disrespectful of the man who gave him his life back, even if his new life was mostly spent in involuntary servitude.
Draoil almost tripped over the hem of his robe as Marb thrust himself into the air with his foot precariously positioned on his master’s knee. The tree came to life in a manner usually reserved for teen fantasy books about wizards and a huge branch wrapped around Marb’s body, squeezing so tight that his (admittedly superfluous) right lung burst. He hardly felt it anyway.
Draoil toppled off his bench and decided that the best course of action was to lie down close to the ground and not move or appear threatening in any way.
Marb, however, grabbed the branch tentacle thing with his strong dead-man hands and ripped a huge chunk of bark off. He snarled in a typical zombie fashion, which sounded rather odd coming from the mouth of a middle-class English gentlemen wearing a doublet, even if he was dead. The tree shrieked, a jagged mouth forming from a particularly large hole on its trunk just inches from Marb’s face.
“Woah, woah!” It gasped, “Dude, I was like, just trying to help you.”
“Oh,” Marb frowned. He glanced down at Draoil and was unsurprised to see his master cowering underneath the bench. It wasn’t like he could have just turned the tree into a dog with his magic, and had it chase the kitten straight into a neat little sack for use in whatever evil ritual he had planned. Nope. He had to make Marb climb the magic tree.
“Well, I’m terribly sorry about your bark.” He said, trying to smile in a non-offensive way. “But you did burst my lung.”
“Sorry, man, my bad.” The tree shrugged with its two biggest branches. “We cool?”
“Of course,” Marb said, with a more relaxed smile. “But I don’t suppose you could lift me up so that I can apprehend that kitten up there?”
“Sure, dude.” The branch around him tightened slightly, but it was entirely worth the loss of his other lung (and breakages of various ribs) to see the view from the top of the tree. A huge magical land stretched out from them in every direction, with glistening lakes and gorgeous overgrown forests where tree-creatures strode the earth and volcanoes spewed liquid gold. He sighed with happiness, just for a moment, wishing that his life could take him out there amidst the wonder rather than in the desolate land of the evil necromancer who sat and played games all day whilst Marb did all the cleaning and preparation for the spells that his master took credit for.
Still, the kitten was friendly enough when Marb’s seeping fingers reached around it tenderly and lifted it onto his chest. “There, there,” he cooed, stroking the little ginger furball as the tree set him back down on the ground. Other than a rib sticking out in a funny angle which gave him a chest-boner, he was quite content that he’d successfully rescued the kitten.
“Right, put it in the bag!” Draoil commanded, and Marb frowned sadly. “After the ritual we’ll get straight on to fixing you up – I can’t go about with a servant who looks as bad as you. That rot is really starting to smell.”
Marb dared to be hopeful for a moment at the thought of his skin stopping seeping into his clothes as it rotted, his hair getting nice and thick again, his eyeballs stopping rattling around uncomfortably in their sockets. Still, the little creature wrapped in his arms was shivering, looking up at him with wide eyes as if to say, ‘Please don’t sacrifice me?’
Still, Marb couldn’t disobey a direct order from his Master, and apparently the spell was important for solidifying his power base, whatever that meant. The kitty had to die.
By midnight, Draoil was grumpy as all hell, his hands steeped in blood from the icky ritual requirements of magically fiddling with corpses. Marb was grinning so hard that the corners of his mouth split open slightly, but he still couldn’t stop. Things had gone perfectly – Draoil got his ritual kitty sacrifice and then he’d performed a spell for Marb just as he’d promised.
The kitten mewed quietly in Marb’s arms, apparently content with its newly dead feline form. Marb itched around the broken rib that was still poking out of his chest and sighed happily. Worth it.
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