Unfinished symphony, p.6

Unfinished Symphony, page 6

 

Unfinished Symphony
 


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  Polly couldn’t think. Concentrate, she must concentrate.

  No answer came.

  The large red tongue slid over the points of his teeth and her breath caught in her throat as one of his incisors pierced his tongue, releasing a glistening jewel of blood which dropped to the cavern floor. The beast began to laugh as it sensed victory.

  One large paw was placed in front of the other as the beast began to advance flexing claws that were made to rip and tear flesh. She looked at the teeth, teeth that were made to crunch bone.

  “Please, I need more time” Polly said.

  As the words tumbled out there, hiding amongst them, was the answer.

  “Silence” she shouted. “The answer is silence.”

  The beast continued to laugh as it crept forward. Polly edged away; tripping, she fell and her back struck the wall of the cave. Trapped. There was nowhere else to go. The laugh had started to become shrill. Polly looked on, with each step the beast began to shrink as the laugh got higher and higher.

  Polly, confusion etched on her face, watched as the snout of the beast dwindled away. The sharp fangs retracted back into his gums and his front legs shortened as they changed into a pair of arms. The beast began to walk upright and the dark fur covering its body receded into his skin. The creature continued to laugh and shrink, but instead of menace Polly could hear genuine mirth in the laughter.

  “Well done, well done. I am and is most mightily pleased to be meeting you” said the creature. He stood half as tall as Polly and he looked up at her with giant bulbous eyes, full of curiousness that was at odds with his flat featureless face. Large floppy ears dangled like wilted lettuce and his wide toothy grin was turned up in what Polly assumed to be a smile.

  “My name is Robin Goodfellow but do call me Robin. I hope you don’t think ill of me young lady. It’s my nature to frighten and scare people off. It’s what I do. But I never would have hurt you. Now, please allow me to introduce myself, my name is …”

  “Robin you already…”

  “How do you know my name? You’re not a witch are you? You are I bets, oh dear I am most apologetical to you.” The strange creature dropped to his knees and began to slither forward. “Don’t you be zapping me now I was just doing my job is all.” He started kissing Polly’s boot.

  “Robin I am not a witch and I won’t be zapping you. Can you stop that please?”

  Robin stopped kissing her boot and stood. He looked up at Polly and his eyes vanished with each blink, Polly held out her hand.

  “My name is Polly and I am a human being, what are you?”

  Robin started to laugh and jump around as he answered.

  “I know you are a human being, I am not stupid and me I am a Pooka and I know you knows what that is. Everyone knows about the Pooka.”

  “Oh a Pooka. Like a parrot.”

  “What? What is this tom foolery? I am not like a parrot. Is you okay? Does your head be giving you pains? Surely you knows all about the Pooka.”

  “Yes of course” she lied “I was just joking. It’s just I’ve never seen one before.”

  “You’re right there young miss and that be the problem. There was a time when all the peoples of this land both loved and feared me. They would leave me gifts trying to win my favour or escape my wrath but, those days all be ended now. I do believe you said Archie is the one that brought you down. No doubts he has forgot all about his little friend, this place scrambles up your noggin, turns the past to the future and the future to the past. Its best to remember that up is down, down is up, left is right, right is left, down is right and up is left and backwards is…”

  “Robin I think I get it. Now could you help me find Archie?”

  “Of course, consider me at your service.”

  Polly retraced her footsteps and Robin struggled to keep up, his short legs scrambling up and over the tiny ridges of the cave floor.

  “This is no good” Robin muttered and Polly turned unsure how to answer. She watched as the small creatures legs lengthened with each stride till he stood as tall as Polly.

  “That’s much better” he said “one of the gifts the good mother bestowed upon all us Pookas was the ability to change shape. Very useful indeed especially for terrifying young girls.”

  “I wasn’t terrified” Polly said looking at Robin.

  His face warped and changed. It was like looking in a mirror, she stood looking at herself. She stopped and watched herself, watched as fear formed on her face. Then the other Polly scrambled back till her back hit the wall, slipping and landing on her backside. Polly started laughing at herself and watched as Robin returned to his natural form. He joined in the laughter and took the hand that Polly offered. She pulled him up to his feet.

  “Okay, maybe I was a little scared.”

  “Don’t worry Miss it’s my job and I am mightily good at it.”

  Robin took her by the hand and led her up the passageway. They took the left turning which must have been the right turning because the last one was the wrong turning. Polly began to enjoy Robin’s company, he liked to talk and Polly was happy to listen. He talked about the times gone by, the tricks he played on the villages; making crop circles, hiding cows in the trees, that sort of thing.

  “I wasn’t all mischief. If they had a problem, like a real problem, I would help. Little Rosie went missing and I searched high and I searched low, finally I founds her and I took her back to her folks, cold and wet but none the worse for her adventure. No, it wasn’t all devilment I just like to have my fun.”

  They turned left or was that right and there coming down the passageway was Archie and he actually looked concerned.

  “Polly where have you been? I turned around and you were gone I… Ahhh I see you have met one of our little Pooka’s. Robin I do believe. I do hope he never played one of his little tricks on you, after all I did invite you here as my guest” Archie’s bushy eyebrows came together like two angry caterpillars as he fixed a stern expression on his face. The Pooka dropped his head and studied his feet.

  “Now Polly you must stay close, I don’t think you appreciate the danger you are in.” Archie turned and started back up the passageway mumbling under his breath. The youth of today, standards, it’s all about standards. This wouldn’t have happened fifty years ago.

  #

  Abaddon sat at the edge of the river. Waiting.

  Snorting back a big clump of snot he felt the satisfying weight hit the back of his throat, he spat and sent it sailing out of his mouth. The sticky green gloop land on the surface of the river; it rose and fell with the tide of the water like a tiny jellyfish of snot. The river began to ripple ahead of him and he watched tiny heads appearing on the horizon; beavers. He snorted more snot back into his throat and played with it in his mouth, swirling it round and squeezing it between his teeth. He pursed his lips and spat towards the beavers but they had already vanished back under the water.

  He stood at the edge of the bank and kicked a pebble into the river, outwitted by his fool of a brother. There would be someone else, there always was. Maybe he should return to the gypsy camp and try to steal away a child; they always made a fine meal. Music was ingrained in their soul and he could almost taste the sweetness. He was about to turn when he spied a small wooden boat on the horizon. It was heading towards the shore were he stood. So that was how they crossed.

  Abaddon watched the boat approach. It was towed by the beavers; they must have confused him for his brother. He chuckled under his breath as the beavers mounted the bank and brought the rope to his feet. He looped it around the tree. The beavers began to dance, hopping around in front of him.

  “Excitable little things aren’t you. So it is a song you want” he said retrieving his black and silver violin.

  Grasping his bow in his hand he struck the violin and music filled the air. The beavers danced in the sunlight, round and round, swishing their tails as they moved in a blur. The tempo increased and the song took hold. The beavers da
nce became frenetic as they tried to keep up but still the music continued until a vapour started to rise above them like a cloud of rain.

  Abaddon leaned back; he dislocated his jaw with a loud crack and inhaled the vapour cloud. Then, nothing, the music stopped. The beavers all collapsed at once, their tiny bodies still and devoid of any life.

  Abaddon placed his violin back into the folds of his jacket and retrieved the length of rope that was tied around the tree. He climbed aboard the boat and found the discarded umbrella; he looked back at the group of still beavers and licked his lips. Never one to turn down a snack, he chuckled and listened, upstream. They had gone upstream.

  He took hold of the oars and began to row, following his prey. His strength renewed he forced the tiny boat upstream into the flowing current. He rowed around a bend and there ahead was a waterfall.

  The fools, they had entered the underworld. He rowed through the sheet of water and the small boat came to rest inside the cove. He climbed out and entered into the cave of confinement, felt its weight and pushed through to the labyrinth below.

  Chapter 11

  Together the three friends walked down passageway after passageway and Polly had lost all sense of direction. Finally, Archie led them into a small cove at the side of the passageway.

  “My dear, now would be a good time to stop and rest. I presume you are joining us?” Archie said turning to Robin and tossing an apple through the air in his direction. Archie passed an apple to Polly and as she took a bite she realised that Robin was watching her. The small creature copied her, placing the apple to his mouth he took a large bite.

  “Eurgh!” Robin shouted spitting the apple all over the floor and rubbing his tongue. “What is this filth? Are you trying to poison me? You crazy human beings, I am going to find us some real food.” Robin stormed out of the alcove and began to transform as he walked. His face elongated and his arms and legs shrunk and his body sprouted fur; becoming a mixture of black and white. Off he went snuffling down the passageway searching for food.

  Polly looked around at the walls and every so often a glimmer would catch her eye. She stood and approached the wall; thousands of them pierced the contours of the rock face.

  “Archie, what are they?” she asked pointing at the tiny jewels.

  “Polly they are diamonds.”

  “What? All of them”

  “Yes my dear. You see many moons ago, way before even I was born. A lonely meteor was travelling through time and space. Passing the same grey rocks and red rocks until he spotted her; the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. A sphere of blue and green dressed in a fine shimmering mist of silver. Enchanted by her beauty his love began to grow. The meteor circled round and round, both mesmerized and hypnotised by her. Closer and closer he came until one day they became one, and under intense heat and pressure together they forged these tiny wonders. This old rock was transformed through their love, their strength. You see these rocks aren’t special because they are diamonds; they are diamonds because they are special.”

  “Burppp”

  Polly turned as Robin strolled down the passageway no longer cloaked as badger, he was rubbing his stomach.

  “I’ve saved you both some real food” Robin said as he held out two of the longest fattest worms Polly had ever seen. Both Polly and Archie mumbled about being completely full.

  “Why don’t you have them?” Polly suggested.

  “Very well, if you’re sure you don’t mind” Robin said tilting back his head and dangling them over his mouth. He slurped them back and the worm fell over his chin, his tongue darted out.

  “Come we have delayed for too long, I was hoping we would have crossed the bridge by now.” Archie started walking down the corridor, his long coat flapping about behind him as Polly and Robin rushed along in his wake.

  Noise began to echo down, louder and louder it grew and then the passageway opened out into a vast chasm. A river ran down the centre, bubbling and boiling as it clashed with the sides of the gorge. A bridge straddled the river; aged wooden slats suspended by dirty yellow rope. It didn’t look very safe and this appeared to be the only way to cross.

  Sat in the middle of the bridge was a large black bear and Polly could hear his snores above the sound of the rushing river. She turned to Archie and watched a frown form on his aged skin as he looked back down the passageway they had just left. She would get no answers there. Polly turned to ask Robin about the sleeping bear and watched as he picked up a stone, he pulled back his arm and sent it sailing through the air.

  “Robin” Polly said through clenched teeth.

  The rock sailed through the air and then hit the bear on the head with a loud clonk. Robin danced around, delighted with his direct hit as the bears roar filled the cavern. It reared up on its hind legs and swiped instinctively, sharp talons slicing through the air. The bear sniffed the air and dropped down. It charged towards the edge of the bridge and let out another roar.

  Polly tried to grab hold of Robin but he just danced further away from her, oblivious to the danger he was in. She turned and just caught a glimpse of Archie as he fled back down the passageway. Should she run?

  “Who dares come upon my bridge? This way is barred to all but the most worthy” growled the bear.

  “Shut up Hobs” Robin said as he advanced towards the bear. “We haven’t got time for this, we are on an adventure.”

  “I won’t shut up” replied the bear as he began to shrink rapidly. “Do you know how long I have waited for this, six hundred years, six hundred, long, bloody years?”

  The bear began to change and advance towards Robin. The bear-thing-creature picked up a stick and set about Robin, striking him on the head and arms. Six hundred years he repeated over and over, each hit adding an exclamation point.

  “Get off Hobs. Come on that hurts, will you watch me bleedin’ noggin.”

  Polly stepped into the middle of the two fighting Pooka’s. They began to circle around her.

  “Will you both calm down, look we still need to cross your bridge. Could you just pretend that Robin isn’t here?” Polly said while trying to keep them apart.

  “Would you do that miss” the new Pooka asked.

  “Of course, but first you both need to shake hands and stop your fighting” Polly replied as she stood to the side. The two Pooka’s stood facing each other, identical; the only difference was Hobs had something hairy resting above his top lip.

  “What the hell is that?” Robin asked as he reached out, his hand pulling on the hairy worm under Hobs’s nose.

  “Ow. Get off” he replied pulling away his head. “It’s a moustache of course. Why?” As he spoke the thin band of hair wiggled up and down like a caterpillar at a disco.

  “It looks stupid” Robin replied again reaching out to touch. Hobs slapped his hand away and the two Pookas began grappling again. Polly stepped in, she separated them, grasped them both by their collars and lifted them off the floor

  “Right I will only let you down if you both promise to stop fighting. Agreed?” Polly asked and the two creatures nodded. “Right Hobs, do you have something to ask me?”

  “Yes, of course. Do you mind if I change back into the bear?”

  “If you want to.”

  Polly watched as the Pooka changed back into the bear, she knew what really stood in front of her but even so, she still felt a tingle in her stomach which grew to a tremor as the bear roared.

  “To cross my bridge answer me this;

  At the sound of me, men may dream or stamp their feet

  At the sound of me, women may laugh or sometimes weep.”

  “Ooo Polly I knows this one. I knows the answer” Robin said dancing from one foot to the other. He turned his bulbous eyes up at Polly “I do Polly. I knows the answer”

  Polly shook her head and warned him with a stare. She placed her finger in front of her mouth to shush him.

  Robin jammed his fist into his mouth and began to change colour as he tri
ed to keep the answer inside. Faster he hopped from one foot to the other as he began to make a strange noise like a kettle coming to the boil.

  “The answer is music” Polly replied.

  “The answer you give is true, now one more riddle I have for you;

  Say may name and I disappear.”

  Polly looked at Robin, his face was growing redder and redder. She opened her mouth to give the answer.

  “Silence” shouted Robin. “Its silence” he said as he began to dance round and round in circles waving his hands.

  Polly looked back at the bear who was halfway through his transformation back to a very unhappy looking Pooka.

  “Cheer up Hobs. I thought your riddles were very good and you told them much better than Robin” Polly said as she leaned down. “I was really scared too.”

  “Thank you kind miss, you may cross the bridge now.”

  “Why don’t you join us?” Polly asked.

  “No thanks, someone will probably be along soon” he said and then turned to look at Robin “IN THE NEXT FOUR THOUSAND YEARS!” The unhappy Pooka turned and stormed across the bridge.

  “Robin, that wasn’t very nice you know” Polly said.

  “Ah, he’ll get over it.”

  They both turned as they heard a sound like two wet fish slapping the floor. Archie burst out of the passageway and shouted for them to run. He crossed the bridge without slowing and Polly and Robin raced after him. The bridge began to swing wildly as the trio crossed and when Archie reached the safety of the opposite bank he seemed to increase his speed and vanished into a passageway.

  Hobs ran back across the bridge, passing Polly and Robin as they raced the other way.

  “Go” Hobs shouted. “I’ll guard the bridge.”

  #

  Abaddon walked down the tunnel, no need to rush. There was nowhere for them to go. Step by step he sampled the melancholy clotting in the air. He could taste her fear and his thin lips broke into a smile that sat awkward on his aged yellow skin. This was his domain, his home. He clenched his fist and felt the strength there as the darkness welcomed him, drenching him in gloom.

  Creatures crept from the darkness at his approach; worms squirmed out from the soil; fat spiders clung to the walls ripe on the juices of dead flies; scorpions crawled, extending their poisonous kiss. But most of all, his loyal servants, rats. Hundreds, thousands crept along beside their master, their claws scraping on the granite surface.

 
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