Due to popular demand I am posting the next bit of Helm On Earth, my first (and whackiest) novel. First bit is here
A gentle breeze rustled the leaves on the tops of the trees, children laughed as they ran in circles holding kite strings attached to kites, and dogs barked due to a lack of anything better to do. The sun was shining and lots of happy people strolled in the park or sat on rugs and ate tasty pre-prepared meals out of paper-lined cane baskets. Today was just a regular Sunday, filled with the joy of the peoples of the world who were celebrating not being at school, or not being at work, or not living in an underdeveloped country where a good day was one in which you bought the grain you’d spent every hour of sunlight planting, tending and harvesting for only three times the price you got from selling it in the first place. Birds sang.
But not all was laughter and happiness. A small group of individuals sat in this park looking at each other suspiciously. ‘Why were they looking at each other like so?’ you wonder. Well, it was due to a lack of trust. A lack of trust generated by the knowledge that any one of them could do something rather nasty to any one of the others at any moment. The phrase ‘At any moment’ is only a technical point, but we’ll get to that later.
These people consisted of a frightened-looking yet somewhat attractive brunette in her mid twenties named Susan, a small guy called Boris with an amusing bowl-cut that had fooled many a now-dead schmuck, and a twenty eight year old twenty seven year old named Tommy. Out of the three of them, Susan probably had the most to be afraid of, although today her incredible insight provided her with the knowledge that she would most likely stay alive for the duration of this meeting. Boris and Tommy didn’t have this insight, so they too were not complacent about their current situation. Each person was so wary of the other that they decided they would be relatively safe from murderous or other similarly unpleasant acts performed in fits of rage, fear or boredom.
And so their meeting began: ‘Have you used yours today, Boris?’ inquired Tommy as he handed Susan a sandwich wrapped in a plastic bag. She regarded it suspiciously.
‘Do you think I would be as retarded as to tell you that, Tommy? If I had, and you knew
I had, I can guarantee you’d fuck me faster than you screw your old bitch mother.’
A productive and diplomatic start as always.
‘Likewise, bowl-boy. No need to be uncivilised.’ With a distinct lack of foul-mouthedness, Tommy had scored the hardest hit. Many a man had found himself tripping down a set of stairs and sticking a knife into the back of his own neck for much lesser insults than ‘bowl-boy.’ Tommy theorised that Boris kept his hair the way it was so he had a sure-fire way of getting people to slag him out, something which either of the two men knew justified an immediate and painful execution.
Boris silently fumed, knowing he was helpless.
Susan entered the discussion waving a white flag. ‘Okay boys, let’s be nice today, okay? We are here for a reason, you know? I truly believe we can achieve our goals with trust and teamwork. I know our motives may be different, but…’
‘I will never trust a weaselly little shit like Captain fucking Where’d-He-Go here. He is bound to betray me the moment he knows I’ve used mine for the day and will likely shove something large and knobbly up my defenceless arse. Jeez, if the Lady appeared and I said, “Imagine if Boris wouldn’t betray his loyal companions because suddenly he’s turned into someone who isn’t a complete prick,” I still wouldn’t go near him with a sharpened stick.’
Frustration was becoming evident on Boris’ face. This outburst would warrant a painful castration and an unpleasant meal for any man other than Tommy, who knew he could pull it off (the insults) without having to fear for his anatomy.
‘Look, shut your stupid head, okay? Diplomacy does not involve pissing on the carpet of the person’s house who you are trying to be diplomatic in. We have important things to discuss…’ Susan was cut short.
And Tommy just didn’t learn when to quit. ‘Talking of impotent things, old Borry here…’
‘Right! That’s it you stupid bastard!’ said Boris.
And then Boris disappeared.
Tommy looked at the spot where Boris had been, blinking. He continued to blink until he arced up, sporting a now-bleeding nose. ‘Argh!” he yelled.
And then Tommy disappeared.
Susan sighed heavily, took a cigarette out of her pocket, lit it and sighed again.
The cigarette then proceeded to remove itself from Susan’s mouth. It disappeared completely for a second, then reappeared on the grass and snubbed itself out.
‘Smoking is bad for you, Susie,’ said Boris’s voice.
Susan sat quietly and rocked back on her heels a few times. She unwrapped the sandwich Tommy had given her and took a few bites, mumbling, ‘Stupid jerks.’
A branch in the tree next to the young lady nodded in silent agreement.
And nobody else had any idea what was going on.
‘Where Did He Come From, And Where Did He Go?’
This was a question often asked when referring to the aforementioned Boris. Actually, most people just asked the second bit, ‘Where did he go?’ They didn’t really give a stuff where he’d come from. If someone disappeared in front of you, would you wonder about his past? Probably not. Well, maybe you would several minutes after the event, but you wouldn’t, for example, be sitting around eating a cheese and egg sandwich, see a guy vanish in front of you, and then immediately wonder about his upbringing. ‘Where did he go?’ would be your first question and ‘Where did he come from, anyway?’ would quite possibly be a question asked, or thought, sometime later when speculating about the event. So I guess nobody really ever asked the question in question, so to speak. Um…
‘Where Did He Go?’ … ‘Where Did He Come From, Anyway?’
Boris went home. He had just kicked Tommy in the arrogant, stupid head and he was very annoyed. That rude bastard couldn’t hold his tongue for more than a few seconds. He just had
to imply that Boris was untrustworthy and mention how crap his hair was every time they met, and it made him angry.
Presently, Boris lay on his bed. He looked at his watch, realised it was invisible, then looked at his alarm clock. It was ten to five in the afternoon. Boris calculated. They had arranged to meet at three o’clock, and Susan had been fashionably late (five minutes), so they were all there under the Big Tree at five past three. Uncomfortable silence had been present for at least thirty seconds after Susan sat down, and Boris’ watch was about forty five seconds slower than his clock. He hadn’t looked at the seconds on his watch when he’d become invisible so he figured that he should be reappearing in approximately…
…Boris reappeared. Up he got and went out of his bedroom, trekked along the hall and into the kitchen. As he opened the fridge he had a flashback to when he was a youngun. He’d opened the fridge nearly every day back in those times…
Twenty years ago, Boris was but a boy of six. Six year old Boris sat in his bedroom, keenly awaiting his first day of kindergarten. He had not slept very well as excitement had kept him up until the small hours of the night. Many children on their first day of school were reluctant to leave their mummy’s grasp and mingle with the other kids. Boris was not like these children. He was excited. So excited that he had not talked about anything except school in the last few days, ‘I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that, and then I’m going to do this, and this, and that…’
It got really annoying. If Boris’s parents weren’t as loving as they were, they might have hoped, just a little, that Boris got picked on so much that he shut the hell up about how much he wanted to do this and that, etc. Of course, if he got picked on too
much he’d probably bore everyone about how much he dreaded going to school. A balance would need to be achieved. This was all hypothetical, of course, because Boris’ parents didn’t actually want him to get picked on at all. So…
‘Honey? Come over here Borry,’ said Mrs Boris. ‘I’m going to make you look all lovely for your big first day so all the girls will want to cuddle you, okay dear.’
Boris frowned. ‘Yuck, girls.’
Mrs Boris smiled a motherly smile. Boris wandered over and sat in his mother’s lap, outwardly reluctant but inwardly eager. Ma was brandishing a pair of scissors and proceeded to cut off Boris’s shaggy mop.
Said she, ‘It’s a good thing your head is so big and round, dear. The bowl fits perfectly.’
For the first and absolute last time, Boris smiled at this compliment.
An hour later and tingling with excitement, Boris was sitting in the passenger seat of the car. ‘Sitting’ is only a technical description, though. So much time was spent bouncing up and down that ‘partially suspended’ would better explain how Boris was positioned in the car. Or ‘briefly’ would do the job, because the trip only took two minutes. The Boris household was on Helm Street, which provided automobile access to the primary school and the local park, where the Big Tree was currently small.
So out bounded Boris, from car to footpath to schoolyard in barely three leaps and off he went, disappearing from his mother’s sight as he turned around a corner…
Where he was greeted by the stereotypical three-foot bully wielding an egg. ‘Look at the little geek with the big round head. Hey, geek, did your mummy cut your hair for you. Oh, it looks so lovely
.’ Stereotypical bullies seemed to possess withering sarcasm at an alarmingly young age these days.
‘Yes,’ replied Boris, missing the irony.
Willy, who was the bully, was struck dumb. Never before had he experienced such outright honesty in all his days as a professional coward, as bullies are often known.
‘Oh,’ was his verbal contribution to the exchange between these two new acquaintances, followed briefly by his physical contribution of an egg.
Willy wandered off and left Boris blinking in confusion, his emotions a mixture of the leftover excitement from moments ago and the recently acquired unhappiness. As egg dripped off his face, he wondered what was wrong with that other kid. Boris was too young to understand stereotypes and the role he inevitably played in them as the big-headed new kid. Technically, every kid in kindergarten was the big-headed new kid, but Boris just seemed to fit the role better. With a sigh, Boris turned and walked back around the corner…
…And straight into a tree. In the future, Boris would use this tree as the site of a witch burning, symbolic because of the public humiliation it had caused him today. But for now, he just fell over and got laughed at.
The rest of Boris’s day continued in much the same fashion. When he arrived home, his mother could tell straight away that she had crossed the line with the haircut. The subsequent whining and the ‘I don’t want to go to school, I hate school, I’m staying home’-ing made old Mrs Boris forever regret the antics of the bowl. From that day onwards, she had always given Boris money to get his hair cut professionally. However, Boris tended to sneak a bowl out of the pantry, cut his own hair with some plastic scissors and pocket the cash. By the time Boris was fourteen, he had saved up three hundred dollars and had had the piss taken out of him approximately eleven thousand six hundred and three times. It wasn’t really worth the iPod which came without a battery charger, a clever marketing ploy which had forced Boris to endure another eight hundred and twelve insults before he could afford the means to revitalise those batteries.
Even with all this, Boris had never been inclined towards violence as a child. He had been insulted so many times that if he had
reacted with acts of physical aggression, he’d probably be a world champion boxer by now (or in prison for numerous assaults). His twentieth birthday was the start of it all, when he came in contact with a very strange lady.
The Plane Of Higher Beings
The Plane of Higher Beings is named so because the people there are special, or more accurately, were
special. Everyone there is dead.
The residents are bound to live out eternity in this place, just like in any other afterlife. And, like most available afterlives, there is a leader in the Plane. She is a very powerful lady, older than her brothers and sisters. The oldest of the children in the family for that matter, and since her father disappeared she is the oldest being alive in the universe. This also makes her the default overseer of everything.
A few hundred years ago, he just vanished. This came as a shock to God, Satan and all the other youngsters. The Lady of the Plane, otherwise known as Ki’Vriast, had been sitting around in her bedroom watching TV when she had felt his presence suddenly absent itself. This was an impossibility for two reasons. Firstly, it is not possible to feel something which isn’t there in the same way that it is not possible to hear silence, so obviously Ki’Vriast couldn’t feel his absence, because there wasn’t anything to feel. Secondly, her father used his own being to animate all of his children – meaning that part of what they were was actually him – so if he was not around, then technically they shouldn’t have been either.
But they were, so that was that.
Now, you may be wondering why is it that Ki’Vriast became the ruler of the universe rather than any of the other gods? There were several ways it could have worked. One was that she was elected by popular vote just like the system we humans call democracy; another was that she won it in a game of chance, like the human activity of gambling; or another is that she gets it because she is the oldest, but not necessarily the best qualified, or even remotely competent, sort of like the Royal Family. Well, unfortunately for the universe and all the other deities, the gods were monarchists. She inherited control of all that is, was and will be because her dad owned it and she was his oldest spawn. The temperature had raised in hell when Satan found this out.
Ki’Vriast inherited the universe and although her powers remained unchanged, she became in charge of the family business. Whenever God, Satan or the others had an argument and needed mediation, it was up to her to decide upon the outcome. This was where the problem lay. Ki’Vriast’s manner of decision making made things so damned difficult for her siblings that they had stopped bothering with her at all and started working out their problems by themselves. Also, her general nature and the powers she possessed gave everyone else a lot of grief.
Anyway, the Plane of Higher Beings was Ki’Vriast’s personal afterlife and she was about to go and get some new recruits. Contrary to what you might believe, this did not involve slaying people. Which afterlife you go to is not determined at the time of your death. You actually work out where you are going for yourself a lot earlier than that.
Perhaps a little more background information is in order.
What happens when you die? Is there life after death? These are questions asked by almost everyone at some point in their lives.
END / FIN / ENDE