Monday, April 29, 2013

Day Four-Forty-Six: You asked for it

Flashback. You may recall, whomever it concerns, that last week ended with an enormous, glowing rat symbol floating in the sky. Above the mountains. Where my wife plies her trade. Because, you know, it couldn’t possibly appear somewhere else, like over a distant lake populated by slugs and snails and puppy dog’s tails. No, that would be entirely too kind to me.

I’d intended to power down the forest path leading to Libby’s drill site with my entourage in tow all Friday and make it there in the evening, before we all passed out. No dice, I’m afraid: the carriage bearing much of the gear we’d brought along broke down about an hour into the journey, we wasted three hours trying to get it fixed, and by the time we decided on walking the giant symbol had disappeared. That destroyed the sense of immediacy, and though everyone agreed to hoof it the rest of the way they all adopted a leisurely pace. Not a chance in hell we’d reach the mountain by evening.

And we didn’t! And we still haven’t! Lords almighty, we’ve barely just breached the forest. I don’t remember it being so big, but apparently it is. Amazing how much a group of a dozen-odd followers will slow you down.

Also amazing how nervous I was every time we were delayed. Amazing how many possibilities popped to mind, possibilities tinged with nightmare suggestions. Libby, caught by demons. Libby, a pawn of rats. Libby, turned to a wicked queen after being tainted by a foul power. Libby, caught in a cave-in. Libby, crushed under her stupid Hypermole, struggling to move while her horrid son watched and laughed.

Libby. Wife. The woman to whom I’ve become estranged. Gods, seriously, gods, how did things get so bad? I want to blame it all on Grayson, but… that seems too easy…

We cleared the edge of the forest half an hour after breakfast. The sun blasted over the shoulders of the mountains ahead, blinding my troupe of brave adventurers, most of whose names I don’t know. Amazing how I can identify the population of Pubton by sight and job, yet not recall simple details like Tom, Dick, Harry, Steve, Jane or Orgmar. I doubt we have anybody in Pubton named Orgmar, but I won’t discount the possibility.

We trudged, anonymous and determined, each with our own goals. Some, I knew, had family at the mountain. Friends. Business partners. Some had a vested interest in seeing Libby’s operation succeed, some wanted a brawl, some simply wished to help. I guess I was a mixture of the lot. Divided in reason, united in purpose.

And so, too, were we united when the smell hit us. Revulsion was the glue.

It steamrolled our party as a nauseous wave, not gradual or mounting, but a sudden, jarring sensation that lit the brain on fire, shrivelled the eyeball and demanded the nasal cavities bow down and weep. It was a smell so overpoweringly repulsive that my own body odour suddenly seemed a mere pretender by comparison. It was a king among sensations, overbearing and terrible.

I couldn’t help it. I wet myself. (And here I thought my bladder had improved substantially. Haven’t wet myself for months. I think.)

My group staggered as one, collapsing to the grass, dropping our packs and gagging our disgust. It was only by virtue of good hearing that I caught a new voice on that noxious breeze, trampling the gasps of pain and horror.

“Greetings, greetings, oh, greetings, dear mayor! Dear Mr. Mayor Dragomir Sir! It has been too long!”

Covering my darkened crotch with one sleeve, I peered over my shoulder, dazzled by the glare of the sun across the plain. Behind us, loping away from the forest, was a familiar group of swaddled desert-dwellers, their tiny leader waving gaily to me from atop his elephant’s shoulder.

(Still don’t get how a bloody elephant can walk on two feet, hot ground or no hot ground.)

“D… Doc!” I rasped, covering my nose with my other sleeve. “What the hell is that? That… that… gah!”

“That what?” Doc tittered, twirling on Titan Blue’s sloping shoulder. “That mound in the distance? It is a mountain, dear sir, a mountain! The product of nature’s self-loathing as it crushes bone against bone! Yes, yessss, the result of –“

“THE SMELL!” One of the hunters shouted, shoving her hunting fox under her cloak. The poor thing had passed out. “WHAT THE HOLY HELL IS THAT SMELL?!”

“Oh!” Doc laughed and waved his spindly fingers in front of his face. “That? That, that, that. It is known as indigestion, my dear, simple indigestion at work. A most natural process, which, er, em, sometimes produces unnatural results.”

My group slowly staggered to their feet, the lot intent on retreating away from Doc as his party approached. I couldn’t blame them; I was trying to get away too. “Speak English, dammit!”

“A fart!” Doc ran over Titan Blue’s enormous head and stood on her opposite shoulder. “A fart, a fart! You all do it, yes, yes you do, and so too must elephants! Especially sand elephants! Her constitution is not accustomed to, ah, the hay that I’ve been feeding her, this common, domestic stock –“

“You said she was called a desert elephant!” I shoved my head into my hat, speaking around the brim. “Gods, why are you followin’ us anyway? Get outta here!”

“Ohhhhhhhh no!” Doc jeered. “Semantics to the first and necessity to the second! I still require consent to investigate your daughter, dear mayor, and I am law-abiding! Law-abiding indeed! And since I suspect that you do not trust me, dear sir, dear mayor, I believe that I must earn your confidence by helping you tend to the matter ahead! Above! Beyond! You worry, you fret, you believe all is not well, and I will help you ensure that yes, all IS! A doctor’s touch, a doctor’s touch!”

I stopped, hat still cupped over my nose. I narrowed my eyes at the group of five anonymous rag-wearers before me, three wavering and silent, one enormous and grumbling, the last a jabbering fool. It had not escaped my mind that I’d wanted to dispel Doc from Pubton the previous week, not for a second. This offer of help, if that’s what it was, only made me more suspicious.

“Go away,” I muttered. “This’s Pubton business. You’re just visiting.”

“No, no, no!” Doc leaped off of Titan Blue, landing nimbly on the ground. Pretty impressive – he had a long way to fall. “We are going! Doctors, we go where we are needed, and when something so grand as a glowing sign appears in the sky so far above, we answer! All of us!”

We waved to his band, then waved back to me. A fresh dose of repulsive odour managed to bypass my hat. It was a mixture of expired eggs, the butt of a dead orc after a decade of festering, and one of Libby’s fresh-cooked pies. I nearly threw up.

“Make him go away, Dragomir!” One of the hunters begged, clutching to his bow for support. “Please! We will all die! I have a family!”

I pointed at the man. “See? See?! Go away! P… oh gods, urp… please! Doc, just…”

Doc grinned under his rags. I could tell, even if his face was covered. “Why, no, sir, no! That won’t do! That simply won’t do! We must go! All or none, and as a doctor I’m obliged, damn damn DAMN OBLIGED, to ensure that the sick and weak and potentially infirm are cared for! We shall go, yes, we shall go indeed!”


My ears pricked up. I was ready for any counter-proposal that might get rid of the smell. “Although?”

“I might be convinced to send poor, gassy Titan Blue back to Pubton –“

“Not if it smells like that you won’t!” I cried. “I’ll see you hanged with Jeffrey, see if I don’t!”

“Very well!” He danced merrily in the grass. “I am nothing if not a man ready to compromise! If you agree to let us travel with you, I will send Titan Blue to forage in the forest! The poor beast could surely use some new food to clear up her indigestion! Isn’t that true, Titan?”

The elephant, casting an enormous shadow over the field behind it, grumbled a few sounds of consent. I swear it was a death threat, but I may have been hallucinating at that point.

“Fine, fine! You can come! Just… away! Go away, elephant thing!” I waved weakly at Titan Blue, half hoping she would understand my words, somehow take offense, and squash me flat. Dead people don’t worry about smell. I think. (Philip surely never complained about my funk.)

Without another word, Doc whirled on one leg, pointed at Titan Blue, and motioned to the forest. Murmuring in an elephant’s tongue, the giant turned to the trees. Doc spun back to me, bowed, and waved for everyone to continue.

The smell disappeared immediately. Fart it may have been, but an unnatural fart. And not just from a nasal perspective. This fart… I fear it may have been a mystical fart. But I was too afraid of its return to use this knowledge as leverage against Doc. The fart… it was evil.

We’re on the way to the mountain. Doc’s band of silent walkers, minus one gaseous elephant, have joined us. And while I can admit that facing the unknown with a doctor on hand is probably a good idea, I would have taken any other doctor in the world over this guy.


Dragomir the Mayor


  1. Well done sir! You did not disappoint!

  2. Btw, its not because we wanted it...but because you PROMISED us!

    1. You say that, but deep down, you know everybody wants fart jokes. All the time. WHY DO YOU THINK THE PRIMARY COLOUR IN DRAGOMIR'S DIARY IS GREEN?! Case rested.