Short stories

The Omega Group

 

“Take out your bibles and turn with me to the parable of the sheep and the goats…”

“…He means, ‘prophecy’,” interrupted Tim Tyler’s wife Jane.

“Please turn to the prophecy of the sheep and the goats,” continued Tim Tyler to the Bible study group seated around his living room that night.

 

There were five of them in the room. Church pillar Tim Tyler, aged 45, his wife Jane, aged 43, new Christian Zack, aged 19, church regular Gareth, 29 and Linda, 18.

Tim Tyler read out the story of the sheep and the goats with great enthusiasm and dramatic effect. This night was important to him, one way or the other. He handed out some sheets of paper he had printed out earlier to everybody. Zack was sitting in a chair on his own. Everyone else was on the two couches, Tim and Jane together and Linda and Gareth together. At the top of the sheets was a question:

 

‘How can we apply this scripture to our lives today?’

 

Gareth shut his Bible and announced: “I don’t understand it.”

“Good, Gareth, that’s very honest of you, sometimes the Bible can be hard to understand.”

“For instance,” continued Gareth, “Who exactly are the sheep and who precisely are the goats?”

Tim Tyler sniffed, “Your question is valid. The sheep are the doers of God’s word.”

“That’s us?”

“Right,” replied Tim.

“I’m not a sheep,” grumbled Zack from nowhere.

“So, who are the goats?” asked Gareth.

“The goats are those who don’t do God’s word,”  Tim Tyler looked at his wife and smiled. She failed to smile back.

“Non-Christians you mean?” asked Gareth.

“On the whole, yes. Understand now?”

“Sort of.”

“Great. Now, if you look at your sheets. I was asking…”

“Then who are the wolves?” asked Zack.

“The wolves are non-Christians too, but that’s something else Jesus said elsewhere in his word.”

“But we are all sheep yeah?” pressed Zack.

“Yes.”

“What else did Jesus call us?”

Tim Tyler looked momentarily confused.

“Err…he described us as stars and salt, branches on the vine. A city on a hill. He also said we should be as wise as serpents but as innocent as doves.”

Jane snorted at the word ‘innocent’.

“Didn’t he once say we were lions?” Zack scratched his head.

“No. Sometimes Jesus himself is called the Lion of Judah.”

“I’m confused. So we are all sheep and there’s a lion leading us and everyone else is a wolf or a goat?”

“Kind of, yes.”

“So where do the fish come in? Because at church they were talking about catching fish.”

“And who are the goodies?” Linda spoke for the first time that night.

Tim Tyler attempted to answer Linda’s question. It seemed easier.

“We are the goodies. Except we’re sinners too.”

“So we’re baddies?”

“No, Linda, you don’t understand – there’s irony at work in this.” Tim Tyler took a deep breath, “We are sheep, but we are also sinners and knowing or acknowledging this makes us good. Whereas the people who say they’re good are really sinners because they won’t admit that they are sinners.”

“That sounds a bit fishy,” said Gareth unhelpfully.

“Look. Jane, back me up on this will you? It’s quite simple. Once you accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour you become one of his sheep. We were once sinners, but now we’re righteous.”

Jane shrugged, “Jesus looks at us not as we are now, but as we will be one day.”

“It’s spiritual,” concluded Tim Tyler.

“Oh,” said Zack.

 

“I’m still not clear Tim,” Gareth said, “Are you saying we are sinners, but we know we’re sinners, so that makes us good? But non-Christians are sinners but they don’t know they are sinners and think they are good, so that makes them goat-like, wolfish baddies?”

“I’ll make some tea,” sighed Jane and went off to the kitchen.

“This is very basic stuff. Gareth has almost got it. It’s very black and white. We are God’s children. Non-Christians are children of the devil.”

Linda jumped in her seat, “I really don’t like the idea of living with wolves and aren’t snakes bad and what’s this about the devil?”

“Look Linda, forget the snakes and the wolves. We can’t judge. Only God can.”

“I wasn’t judging anyone. You started this,” replied Linda.

“No, no, forget that. Just focus on the goats and the sheep will you?”

“Okay! Goats. Sheep. Whatever!”

Jane returned to the room. “I think my loving husband is trying to say that it’s a simile – we are like sheep because usually we do God’s word, don’t we Timothy?” Jane handed out cups of tea to everyone except her husband and sat down.

“I don’t always feel like a sheep.”

“Again, that’s very honest of you Gareth.”

“You look a bit like a sheep,” observed Zack.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Look, I’m just going on what Jesus said.”

“Goat.”

“No please!” Tim Tyler picked up the remaining cup of tea, “We’re spiritual sheep; it’s not to be taken literally. It’s spiritual.”

“Oh,” said Zack.

 

Jane said, “I think Linda had a point when she said it was scary thinking that we are surrounded by spiritual wolves.”

Tim Tyler turned to his wife, “Listen, I’m just saying what Jesus said.”

“You parrot,” said Jane and everybody except Tim Tyler snickered.

“Yes, thank you Jane. I knew I could count on your support in this. Well it all comes down to those who do God’s will and those who don’t and I’m afraid some people, even Christians, can behave like…”

“Yes?” interrupted Jane.

“Like goats.”

 

“Hold on,” announced Gareth, “I’ve just found something in my Bible which I think is relevant.” He went on to read a scripture about wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Tim Tyler tried to smile. “Yes, well done Gareth. I’m glad to see someone is taking this seriously. Sometimes the wolves, the goats, disguise themselves as sheep.”

“You can fool man, but you can’t fool God,” said Jane pointedly.

“Look,” said Tim Tyler, “This conversation is not very edifying and we’re getting no where. It’s spiritual okay?”

“Oh,” replied Zack.

 

“Why didn’t Jesus call himself a sheep then?” asked Gareth.

“Aha, he did! He called himself God’s lamb…”

“No he didn’t,” interrupted Linda, “he called himself the good shepherd. John the Baptist called him the lamb of God, based on an Old Testament prophecy.”

Jane began to laugh into her hand.

At last Tim Tyler turned to his wife: “Look, I’m sorry for earlier Jane okay?”

“There’s a time and a place for all things,” she said.

“What happened earlier?” asked Gareth.

“Let’s just say Timothy here wasn’t behaving like a good sheep,”

“We’re supposed to be having a Bible study,” said Tim Tyler, looking uncomfortable.

“Baaaa,” bleated Jane.

“Hold on,” said Zack, “How can I be sure I’m a sheep and not a goat?”

Tim Tyler sighed deeply.

“You are a sheep Zack. Look, it’s spiritual okay?”

“Oh.”

 

There was silence in the room for a long minute then. Nothing in the room moved except for Jane’s foot. She had her legs crossed and she was making quick circles in the air with her right foot. Everybody was looking at Jane’s foot. First she made circles with it, moving only from the ankle downwards. Then she began to rock her foot and lower leg backwards and forwards in quick movements. After a while she returned to circling her foot again. It went on this way for a while.

 

Finally Tim Tyler said, “Perhaps if we go on to the second question on our sheets.” As they began to read he stood up and collected the empty cups and made towards the kitchen. Jane was still drinking her tea and on his way Tim accidentally knocked his wife’s arm, making her spill tea over her top.

“You oaf!” she shouted.

“Jane it was an honest accident.”

“Fool,” she retorted and left the room, going upstairs to change.

After she had left Linda said:

“Perhaps we should all pray.”

It was the most sensible thing anyone had said up until then.

“No, no” said Tim Tyler, “We can pray later. This is important to me. We’re going to complete this Bible study if it kills us. Gareth, please read out the next question on your sheet.”

“What did you actually do earlier?” asked Zack.

“That’s between me and Jane. Gareth read out the question.”

 

‘Why would Jesus tell us what will happen on judgment day before it happens?’

 

“I don’t think some of my friends would take kindly to your referring to them as children of the devil,” said Zack.

“I just came here for the Bible study,” Gareth held up his hands.

Tim Tyler looked at Zack with disgust.

“Seriously man,” continued Zack, “I’m not happy about this discrimination between the wolves and the goats.”

“Sheep,” corrected Gareth.

“He knows what I mean.”

“I really feel we should pray NOW,” said Linda.

It was too late.

“Forget the damned sheep, forget the damned goats you stupid idiot, it’s spiritual okay?” shouted Tim Tyler.

Linda seemed to be on the verge of tears.

“I really feel I should go now,” said Zack and he stood up.

“No you don’t.” said Tim Tyler standing up and pushing Zack down into his seat again.

“Okay. Why is it spiritual then? And don’t call me names,” said Zack patiently.

“Because it is. Stop crying Linda.”

Linda wiped her nose.

“What is all this about?” asked Gareth “It just seems a little…godless.”

“Oh it’s all about Jesus,” said Tim.

Gareth shook his head. “I’m going.” He said. He stood up, picked up his Bible and left without anyone stopping him.

 

Linda was still crying. Zack sat there looking down at his sheet, saying nothing. Tim Tyler said:

“This night is important to me. Focus on the question you two. Stop crying Linda.”

Linda tried to stop crying. One of her tears landed on her sheet and it blurred the ink

“I want to leave.” Said Zack.

“Well you can’t. Now shut up and act normally. Jane’s coming back.”

Jane came down the stairs and entered the room in a new black top.

“Where’s Gareth?” she asked.

“He had to leave,” said Tim. “Lock the front door now Jane.”

Jane went and locked the front door.

“This is really scary for me,” said Zack.

“No. This is important. Answer the question Zack.”

Zack said nothing.

“Linda. You seem to be so clever tonight. You answer the question.”

“What question?” asked Linda through her tears.

“Why would Jesus tell us what will happen before it actually happens?”

“I don’t know,” said Linda.

“Right. Jane, fetch the things from the kitchen please.”

“Are you serious?”

“Just do it.”

 

Jane got up, went to the kitchen and returned with two sharp carving knives, masking tape and a length of rope. She handed one knife to her husband.

“What is the answer?” asked Tim.

“Jesus is the answer,” replied Zack.

“Don’t be trite with me! Answer the question!”

Linda spoke up. “Jesus gave us the prophesy of the sheep and the goats before it happens as a warning. He told us so that we would do the things he commands before the event.”

“It’s okay Linda,” said Zack.

“Good Linda. Good. And perhaps to keep things into perspective don’t you agree?”

“Yes,” replied Linda.

“Now we’re getting somewhere. Zack, contribute please. And read out the next question.”

Zack said “No.”

“Jane, tie him up.”

Jane used the rope to tie Zack tightly to his chair.

“Her too?” asked Jane after she had finished.

“No. Just sit next to her.”

Jane sat next to Linda with the knife in her hand.

 

“So then. Next question. I’ll read it. “How are we to distinguish between the sheep and the goats?”

“That’s easy,” said Jane.

“Jane I am sorry for earlier.”

“It’s okay now,” replied Jane.

“What?!” said Zack.

“Any ideas Zaccaria?” said Tim, “No? Jane, use the tape please.”

Jane picked up the masking tape and used it to cover Zack’s mouth. Zack remained completely still. Tim was still holding his knife.

“Linda. Why?”

Linda replied, “Their fruit. You’ll know them by what they do.”

“Good girl. But you irritate me. Jane – the tape.”

Jane taped Linda’s mouth.

Zack had closed his eyes.

“Are you praying Zack? Good for you. I like to see that I am encouraging the youth into prayer.”

Jane laughed.

 

Tim got up from the couch and kneeled in front of Zack.

“Zachary, Zachary, Zackary. You really don’t know what all this is about do you?”

He reached up and touched Zack’s throat with the knife and then cut deep.

As the blood squirted out Linda went hysterical. Her screams were muffled and she tried to stand up. She shot at Tim Tyler and head butted him, knocking him across the floor. Jane screamed: “God, Tim you weren’t supposed to kill him!”

Quickly Linda turned, wrenched the other knife from Jane and pointed it towards them both.

“nnnghhh mmmnnfth” said Linda, which was going to be the words ‘Don’t move.’ Except for the tape.

Tim turned round to Linda and held his own knife in the air as if in surrender.

“Linda. Put the knife down. Just put the knife down please.”

Linda reached up and tore the masking tape from her mouth, which hurt her a lot.

“I don’t care. God help me I’ll kill you if you don’t put that knife down. Jane sit down.”

Jane, who was edging towards Linda sat down.

“You know. There is a reason for all this.”

“What?” asked Linda. “Look at him.”

Tim, still on his knees, looked at Zack. He was clearly dead and the blood just kept coming.

“Call the police. If you don’t I’ll kill you both I swear.”

Tim dropped the knife and phoned the police.

 

In the police station and throughout the trial Tim and Jane Tyler would only give one reason for their actions. Questioned again and again the reply was, “It’s spiritual.”

 

 


The Good Terrorist

 

Once there was a man who was out walking when he fell down into a steep, muddy pit. Try as he might, he found that he couldn’t climb out of it. Eventually, exhausted, he gave up and sat cross-legged at the bottom of the pit.

 

Now, it happened that a preacher was walking by the pit and he saw the man sitting there.

“Oh…He-lp me!” groaned the man when he saw the preacher.

“Stop groaning,” said the preacher, peering down, “Praise God that you are in a pit. Praise him despite the pit. Start thanking God for your pit. Speak to the pit and command it to move in Jesus’ name.”

“Huh?” replied the man.

But, sadly, the preacher had walked on by.

 

A few hours later a motivational speaker passed by the edge of the man’s pit.

“He-lp me ple-ase!” begged the man in the pit.

“It’s not the pit keeping you down there, it’s you,” said the motivational speaker (who had written a series of highly popular self-help books). “You need to get your thinking right. Visualize yourself out of the pit. Better still, try not to think of the pit at all. Don’t moan and groan about having to be in a pit but speak positive affirmations 16 times a day about how you can overcome your pit.”

“Are you going to help me or not?” asked the man (who was getting a little fed up with all this advice)

The motivational speaker reached into his bag and threw a book down to the man.

“Read this and put it into practice indefinitely and you will be happy and successful.”

Then the motivational speaker walked on by, whistling to himself as he went.

“Prat,” murmured the man in the pit. But he picked up the book and began to read anyway (there being not much to do when you’re stuck at the bottom of a pit).

 

It was getting dark by now and the poor man was beginning to feel cold. Worse, it had begun to rain and at the bottom of the pit a huge puddle was forming. The man had to stand up because of the puddle. He shivered and tears filled his eyes.

A long time later the man heard some shuffling noises at the edge of the pit.

“He-lp me-ee!” croaked the man into the darkness above.

A face looked down at him. It was a terrorist.

The terrorist laughed at the man.

“Please help,” said the man (not too keen on being laughed at).

The terrorist said: “Look at the foreign policy of your government. It is your government keeping you in that pit.”

“Can’t you let your heart be filled with compassion towards me or something?” said the man.

The terrorist shrugged. Suddenly he jumped and skidded down to the bottom of the pit and stood next to the man.

“You idiot!” exclaimed the man.

“At least I didn’t walk off,” replied the terrorist.

“You stupid idiot. You should have given me a hand out. Now we’re both stuck.”

“I just wanted to experience pit-life in solidarity with you,” said the terrorist.

 

Three days later the preacher returned and helped both men out of the pit.

“Sorry about that,” mumbled the preacher who had gone through a crisis of conscience.

“You know nothing of pit-life,” scolded the terrorist and they all went their separate ways.

___________________________________________

Fogland

 

Legends say that one day the sun turned into a golden sword. Later that same day the moon changed into a silver bottle and all the stars in the sky became tiny, blue buttons. These strange transformations could only be seen from the island kingdom of Fogland.

The King and Queen of that island were named King Olwyn and Queen Winnie. They were terrified by the events but for a week pretended nothing had happened, hoping things would return to normal.

 

Eventually Queen Winnie decided she needed to talk about it. It was, after all, like pretending there wasn’t an elephant in the room.

“The people are worried,” said the Queen spreading butter onto one of her croissants.

“The people are always worried.” The King looked around the breakfast table hopefully.

“We can’t ignore it any longer Olwyn. The sun and moon have never done this before. The people are saying it is an omen.”

King Olwyn sprinkled salt on a croissant and began to eat.

“Have you even been outside this morning?” asked the Queen finally.

The King shrugged.

“It simply isn’t normal,” said the Queen.

But neither the King nor the Queen needed to go outside. The sun was shining through a window from behind a cloud. You could see the shape of it through the corner of your eye. It looked like a long golden sword hovering in the sky. It had turned all of Fogland an eerie golden colour.

 

The moon, once bright and dependable was now bottle-shaped. It was round at the bottom and there was a clear spout coming from the top. Every night people would sit gazing at it.

All of the stars had changed into metallic blue buttons. This bottle moon was in the same place as the ordinary moon used to be and followed the same course, even waxing and waning through the month. It was literally silver coloured.

The sun was still intensely bright but whenever it went behind a cloud you could clearly see its long, thin sword outline with hilt, handle and blade.

When the people of Fogland (who were already unhappy with the monarchy) went about their business, they felt as if that sword might fall on their heads at any moment. It was very unnerving for them.

The people believed Fogland was in a crisis. But the royals, who held most of the power in Fogland, were genuinely out of touch with their people and took a long time to finally act.

 

The King ordered messengers to spread the following message throughout Fogland: “Among the many intelligent and valuable little people of this great land, we are searching for someone who knows why this metamorphosis has taken place and who may reverse the process. Candidates who think they can change things back to normal will receive a treasure chest full of great riches.”

But only three people came forward in response to the royal challenge.

 

In the palace throne room, the good and the great were gathered. The atmosphere was heavy. A man dressed casually in jeans and a yellow T-shirt entered the lavish hall. He had a spring in his step as he walked.

He stopped in front of the King and bowed. Then he sat cross-legged down on floor, his trainers squeaking on the marble as he did so.

The man said, “Your majesty, my manner is casual but my intentions are good. My name is Colin Comic. And I believe I have the solution to Fogland’s problem….

Did you hear about the man who went to the doctor with cheese stuck up his nose, celery in one ear and chips in the other?”

“What man?” asked the King “What are you talking about?”.

“Bear with me your highness…The man I speak of said, ‘Doctor, doctor, I don’t feel very well’.

The doctor replied, ‘I’m not surprised. You aren’t eating properly.’”

Bad jokes in pressurised situations don’t always work. Colin Comic was lucky. The King hadn’t heard a joke since the constellations had changed. He grinned and laughed. The court laughed a few seconds after and the heavy atmosphere dissolved. Colin Comic smiled broadly.

“I’m trying to show that there may be an amusing explanation to these astronomical anomalies. I reckon we are in the middle of a celestial joke. Some kind of farce if you like. One which we shouldn’t be taking so seriously because piles of jokes, light-heated humour and tonnes of laughs and jolly japes still make the world go round. Let me illustrate…”

Just then Colin Comic began to wink with one eye. This started the Queen giggling. Then he began not just to wink, but to make a clicking noise as he did it. Then he started to wink, make the clicking noise and smile. Then he started to do all this and do a kind of nudging motion with his elbow in the air. The Queen and some of the courtiers were still laughing. Then he started to wink, grin, do the clicking, the nudging and nod his head up and down. After this, he did the same with his other eye and elbow. This lasted for about ten minutes with the King saying, “He’s a likable chap” and “He’s got something” (although he did say, “What is the man doing?” towards the end of it).

Colin Comic stopped, stood up and said, “You see how strange behaviour should never be taken too seriously? It’s the same with these changes…it’s a kind of unearthly humour which requires the right reaction from the people of Fogland. My light-hearted approach may yield results that a more serious person would miss. I’ll have the answer for you in a week. Or the moon’s a balloon…or, in this case, a bottle.” He winked again.

King Olwyn liked Colin Comic. “Okay, stay here and get back to me when you’ve figured out this crazy business.”

 

The next person to enter the throne room was a young woman with short, red hair.

“Hello,” she said, bowing, “My name is Alison Ironic.”

“And how do you intend to return things back to normal?” asked the King.

“In my book ‘Cosmic Irony’ I studied how some phenomenons appear to be influenced by an outward force, an ironist if you will.” Alison Ironic coughed and looked a little embarrassed.

“What I mean to say is that it seems unlikely that these events are just natural, as has been inferred. And while we remain unaware of the reason for these transmutations, we are perhaps the unwilling objects of some great celestial irony. We are all, if you like, alazons.”

No-one knew what she was talking about. Alison Ironic often struggled making people understand her.

She took a deep breath. “Anyway…I can explain the buttons…I think. It is ‘funny, strange’ that the stars have turned into buttons because some people think the dark night sky is a bit like a cloth with pin-pricks through it. It is ‘funny, strange’ that the sun should turn into a sword like the sword of Damocles hanging over a guilty nation. It is ‘funny, strange’ that the moon should turn into a bottle when the country is drunk with dark thoughts and whispers.”

“What whispers?” asked the King, sitting up.

“I don’t think you truly understand me,” announced Alison Ironic, then suddenly realizing who she was talking to she added quickly. “Think of the Kings of Siam, your majesty. They punished those that displeased them by sending them sacred white elephants. It wasn’t exactly the kindest of gifts simply because these elephants were so expensive to look after that the recipients would have to spend all their money to care for them. In the end the white elephants would leave them penniless. And no-one in Siam can refuse a gift from a king.”

“I shall write to the Kings of Siam about that,” said King Olwyn, “What are you getting at?”

“Here in Fogland, I think some greater power has caused the sun and moon to form strange shapes to test the kingdom. But about those white elephants. What if one of the people who got one charged people to take rides on the elephant and sold pictures the elephant drew with its trunk as artwork? And suppose that person began to break even and started to make a profit from the animal?”

The King smiled.

Alison Ironic added triumphantly: “And what if that person then wrote to the King of Siam and asked for another?”

She held up her hand, “Ah, but I intend to do the equivalent of such a person here, today, in Fogland. And in so doing I shall return the sun, moon and stars back to their original appearances.”

The Queen dismissed her and said, “Let’s see you put legs under your words. Next!”

 

“Your royal Highnesses, may I introduce myself?” The man who walked into the throne room had a presence about him, which caused the women of the hall to take notice and the men to approve. He was dressed in a smart black suit and had shiny black hair and a scar on his unshaven right cheek.

“Who are you?” asked the King.

“My name is Tiger Tragic and I know why this event has happened.”

Tiger Tragic placed a hand on his chin and stood before the King and Queen, his legs slightly apart. He looked confident and didn’t seem to be living up to his name at all.

“I’ll explain why the sun and moon have changed shape. The sun and moon are symbols for the King and the Queen. The sun being you, King Olwyn and the moon you, Queen Winnie. The stars represent the people. The recent change is a herald for a radical change from monarchy to republic. The symbol of a sword indicates some kind of force being used. A revolution, no doubt. The bottle is a symbol of assassination, probably with poison. The stars have changed colour because the people will back a new government.”

The King and Queen looked aghast, “Will this definitely happen? What can be done?” asked the King.

“It is not predestined. I will show how much I can do by the end of the week. I already have an idea of who might want to kill you both.”

“I only hope you are wrong,” said the Queen.

“If only I was,” replied Tiger Tragic in a low, sad voice.

The King motioned to the servants and this man also left for his quarters.

 

That night Tiger Tragic was murdered. Dead. A maid went into his chamber the next morning to open the window, letting in birdsong and the eerie golden sunlight. When she turned she screamed and fell out of the window. There was Tiger Tragic, naked, stabbed through his heart so that he was pinned to the bed by a golden sword, with his blood still wet on the bed sheets.

 

Alison Ironic and Colin Comic were summoned back to the throne room.

“Last night,” said King Olwyn, “a dreadful act took place. Your competitor Tiger Tragic was fatally stabbed. Suspicion, must unfortunately fall on you two. You will be detained in the royal tower. As for the sun, moon and stars, this issue must wait because I do not foresee any great changes taking place in the near future.”

“Beware,” said Alison Ironic, “that your words do not prompt the cosmic ironist into action. By arresting me, you have made a tragic mistake. I haven’t the heart to kill and you saw that I didn’t bring any belongings here with me. Why would I even want to do this? Don’t pin the blame on me.”

All the King and Queen heard were the words ‘Beware’ and ‘Tragic’ and ‘Heart’ and ‘Pin’ and in their eyes Alison Ironic seemed very guilty.

Colin Comic just stood there and winked at one of the servants. Then, he and Alison were led away to their prison cells.

 

In the royal tower, Alison Ironic was placed in a cell next to Colin Comic. She found that she could talk with him if she spoke near the door. “Did you do it?” she asked.

“You know the funny thing?” sneered Colin Comic, “It’s that by this time tomorrow it isn’t going to matter if I did or didn’t because my accusers will be eliminated and Fogland will be a republic.”

“So Tiger Tragic was right then? That’s why you killed him, because he had hit on the truth.”

“I think it was just a stab in the dark for him that just happened to be true, pun intended. One of the servants provided the weapon. We thought it would be fitting to use a golden sword, surely you can appreciate that. And as for the bottle, it was the moon which gave us the idea of using poison tonight. By the look of things the people will support a revolution with those ridiculous royals out of the way. So what are you going to do to stop me Alison? Escape?”

“Funny you should say that,” she replied in a whisper.

 

That night, the servant who Colin Comic had winked at poured poison into the King and Queen’s red wine night-caps.

“Are you sure she did it?” asked the King, climbing into bed in his pyjamas.

“Well, she seems a bit strange,” replied the Queen, “Funny I mean. In the head.”

“It wasn’t you then jellybeanetta?” the King started to tickle his wife.

“Desist!” she ordered and the King stopped.

“At least it has done one good thing,” she said.

“What’s that my Macwinkly-tinkle?”

“It has taken everybody’s minds off the sun, moon and stars. I haven’t thought about them since this morning.”

“Will you give me a kiss?”

“No. Drink your wine.”

 

Back in the royal tower Alison called for the guard.

“I need the toilet!” She shouted.

The guard appeared at the door. “Use your chamber pot then,” he said.

“I would, but you haven’t left me one in here.”

“All cells have chamber pots.”

“Ironically, mine does not. Now would you mind fetching me one or I shall appeal to the court of human rights.”

The guard sighed and disappeared, eventually opening the cell door with a chamber pot. Alison was hiding behind the door with her chamber pot in her hands. When the guard entered she brought it down on his head with a crack, which knocked him unconscious.

 

Alison was like a shadow. She avoided all the guards between the royal tower and the palace. Palace security was renowned for being bad. From the courtyard she could see one light still on in one of the second floor rooms. There was a drain pipe leading up to the roof past the window. Alison began to climb.

 

King Olwyn picked up the poisoned wine and raised it to his lips. It was then that Alison Ironic came crashing through the window, heels first. She got to her feet, rushed towards the King and Queen and knocked the wine glass out of the King’s hand.

“How dare you?” shouted the King.

Suddenly they all heard cheers from the guards outside. Alison turned and walked towards the open window. She looked outside, up at the moon and the stars. They had returned to their normal shape and colours.

 

After this the people looked on the royals with new eyes…here were a King and Queen who had survived an assassination attempt. Colin Comic attempted to joke with the judge at his trial, asking him if he was bald underneath his wig. Unfortunately for Colin, the judge really was bald and he sentenced him to five life sentences.

Everyone decided, under the circumstances that it would be right to reward Alison with the treasure chest. With some of the contents she bought herself a luxury boat and called it ‘The King of Siam’.

 


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