The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter Nine. #fridayflash,#tuesdayserial

Welcome to the next instalment of my current fantasy/comedy web serial. Thank you for dropping by. If you fancy, please leave a comment; it really is useful to know what’s working and what’s not working. To catch up on previous chapters you will find a list by clicking here.

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange

Chapter Nine

(In which Ms Pinky gatecrashes a nightmare)

 

Ms Pinky peeled off her bright purple eyelashes, placed them in their box and looked at her Barbie alarm clock; it was only seven thirty, earlier than her usual bedtime, but tonight she was a monster on a mission.

Ms Pinky had left the Exchange just after lunch to give her time to prepare for the night ahead; entering someone’s recurring nightmare unannounced was a risky undertaking and there was no knowing what or who was already lurking within Alice’s night terrors, and more importantly if they would welcome a seven foot pink monster.

Ms Pinky yawned; she had deliberately limited her caffeine intake to three quadruple lattes, but just in case had taken a bottle of herbal sleeping pills recommended by Neil. She needed to stay asleep for as long a possible to increase her chances of entering Alice’s nightmare; they both needed to be asleep at the same time for this to work.

Ms Pinky climbed into her super king size divan, kissed the photo of Neil on her bedside table, and placed a quilted satin mask over her eyes.

Meanwhile, many hundreds of miles away in the icy seas just south of the Arctic Circle, Alice was also trying to settle down for the night. She adjusted the iron chain around her ankle and pulled the thin sheet up around her neck. Njord was snoring away on the other side of the cabin and Alice wished, not for the first time, that she had the sea god’s ability to sleep through the storms and freezing temperatures. On a mattress behind her, Lisbeth was quietly singing a melancholic lullaby to herself. Alice had managed to smuggle a bottle of water back from the Kraken’s tank to pour over the mermaid’s dry tail; she was suffering terribly and probably wouldn’t last much longer.

Alice yawned; maybe she would drop off after all. It had been a busy day with the Kraken and they had made excellent progress. So far she had succeeded in persuading the giant squid to perform a spectacular ink squirt which had covered Bradley from head to toe. Whilst the Nautilus Entertainment executive was out of earshot getting changed, Alice had convinced the Kraken to pretend to learn the tricks which the vile multinational had specified they wanted; she hoped that this would buy enough time to save her fellow prisoners and to give her friends at the Exchange enough time to mount a rescue attempt, which, she hoped, they would do very soon.

Alice closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on the mermaid’s singing; it wasn’t long before she found herself drifting off to sleep.

Ms Pinky sniffed the air: this was definitely Alice’s nightmare. Fiona had sent Ms Pinky home with one of Alice’s jumpers which was now wrapped around the pillow underneath the monster’s head. It wasn’t exactly illegal, but smelling your way into someone’s nightmare unannounced was generally frowned upon by most in the business; she would have to tread very carefully.

‘Alice, Alice Finchley?’ Ms Pinky spoke quietly; the nightmare hadn’t come into focus yet and she was hesitant to move in case she found herself on top of a cliff or in the middle of a busy motorway, both predictably dull but popular nightmare scenarios.

Ms Pinky waited as objects slowly came into view.

‘This is all very odd,’ she said, ‘not what I imagined at all.’

She was standing in what appeared to be the lingerie section of an old fashioned department store. Racks of over-sized brassieres and voluminous knickers competed with assorted woollen hosiery and floor length winceyette nightgowns.

The heat, she noted, was intense and increasing all the time, whilst some dreadful lift music was playing over the public address system.

Ms Pinky became aware of a commotion on the fringe of the nightmare, and as she was trying to make out the source of the noise, she was bowled over by a stampeding group of elderly women. For a moment, Ms Pinky thought she had gone blind, but realised that she had become caught up in a pile of double G cup bras; she unhooked one of them from around her ears and looked up. Some of the women had stopped and were starring down at her; they were dressed identically in tartan skirts, twin sets and very stout shoes. Their tightly permed grey hair finished off the effect.

‘Who might we ask are you?’ they said in unison, ‘there are no monsters in this nightmare.’

‘I am Ms Pinky,’ said Ms Pinky climbing to her feet, ‘and I do apologise for intruding whilst you are working.’

‘What are you doing here?’ said one of them, ‘this is most irregular.’

‘I need to speak to Alice, she is in terrible danger.’

The old women looked at each other in horror.

‘Alice!’ they shouted, ‘quick, find Alice!’

They hurried off around the racks of underwear with Ms Pinky trying her best to keep up. As they turned the corner, Alice could be heard screaming from underneath a particularly unpleasant nightdress which some of the tartan clad women were forcing over her head whilst the others held her down.

‘Get this polyester off me now!’ she yelled, ‘I only wear designer!’

Ms Pinky tried to break through the ranks of grey haired tormentors, but gave up and shouted over the noise instead.

‘Alice, it’s me, Ms Pinky! Can you hear me?’

Alice’s head finally forced its way through the tight neck hole of the garment.

‘Alice! Wake up!’

‘What?’

‘Alice, look at me, it’s Ms Pinky.’

‘Wake up!’

‘Huh?’

‘Alice!’

The lingerie and old ladies disappeared and Ms Pinky woke up.

‘Damn! I was so close,’ she said, groping for the light switch.

Over the ocean, in the freezing cabin, Alice opened her eyes.

‘So sorry Alice,’ said Njord, hovering over her, ‘but I think Lisbeth needs our help. Are you quite alright?’

Alice rubbed her eyes.

‘I’m fine. I was just having a bad dream.’

 

© flyingscribbler 2011

 

 

 

 

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter Eight.

Welcome to my ongoing web serial which I am currently posting as part of #fridayflash and #tuesdayserial. These are both excellent flash fiction communities located here in blog world and over on twitter. If you are new to the series and would like to see where it all began, there is a chapter list here. Hope you enjoy reading, and please leave comments with your feedback. They have been known to make it into the story!

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange

 

Chapter Eight

 

(In which Ms Pinky finds green is not her colour)

 

 

Ms Pinky flicked a small feather duster over her artfully arranged collection of vintage Malibu Barbies and purred with pride; this was the first time she had been left in charge of the employment exchange and she wanted to make a good job of it.

Fiona was at the Norwegian Embassy trying to track down Alice who had now been out of contact for over a week, whilst Neil was out finding stabling for the exchange’s newly acquired, unemployed reindeer. Fiona’s hastily written instructions concerning that morning’s clients had been gobbled up unread by Ms Pinky along with her extra-large blueberry breakfast muffin, so the monster was somewhat unprepared for the dishevelled looking gentleman who now shuffled into the office.

‘Welcome to the Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange, my name is Ms Pinky and it will be my pleasure to assist you this morning.’ Ms Pinky wrinkled her three nostrils together in displeasure as she watched the old man shake leaves and bits of bark from his shabby jacket. ‘Long journey, was it?’

‘Not really,’ said the gentleman, ‘I’ve been staying at the YMCA, only until I can find a job of course.’

‘Naturally,’ said Ms Pinky plucking a twig from the front seat of Barbie’s Corvette, ‘please take a seat and fill this form in.’

Ms Pinky tutted as he made a start.

‘No, no, no, you’ll have to do better than that.’

‘Sorry?’

Ms Pinky read out from his application form.

‘Name: “Green Man”, I mean, that’s like me putting down “Pink Monster” isn’t it? Imagine!’

‘But that’s my name,’ protested the gentleman, ‘I am a Green Man.’

‘I’m sorry,’ said Ms Pinky, stepping from behind her desk, ‘could you leave please, we don’t tolerate time wasters here. Goodbye.’

The Green Man walked slowly to the door, moving to the side as Fiona rushed down into the Exchange.

‘How are things?’ she panted.

‘Well, I wasn’t expecting the clients to be quite so difficult,’ said Ms Pinky, ‘but otherwise, everything’s fine. Neil is out with the reindeer; that poor boy, I’m sure he’s overworked.’

‘He’ll cope,’ said Fiona, looking nervously up the stairs as the Green Man vanished from view. ‘Anyway, we’ve a bigger problem to deal with.’

‘Alice?’

‘Yes. The Embassy thinks she may have been kidnapped; her belongings are still at the hotel and no-one’s seen her.’

‘Goodness,’ exclaimed Ms Pinky, eyes wide with excitement, ‘do you think the werewolf got her?’

‘Possibly, but before she disappeared, she discovered that the real Kraken is missing. I’m guessing if we find the Kraken, we find Alice.’ Fiona paused, deep in thought. ‘The Kraken is far too valuable to kill, and my hunch is that whoever needs a giant mythological squid, also needs someone with the ability to communicate with it.’

‘Which,’ said Ms Pinky, ‘means that Alice is probably still alive.’

‘Exactly.’

‘Unless, of course,’ said Ms Pinky, licking her lips, ‘calamari has just become a hot commodity on the international comestibles market.’

Fiona sent her receptionist up for coffee and called Neil telling him to hurry back for an emergency meeting. Ten minutes later he rushed in, almost knocking Ms Pinky’s bucket of latte out of her paws.

‘Sorry Ms Pinky, didn’t scald you did I?’

Ms Pinky lowered her head and fluttered her purple eyelashes.

‘Not at all Neil, I have a very firm grip with these paws. Can I get you a coffee, a sandwich perhaps?’

‘No thanks.’

‘How about a massage? You look stressed.’

Neil eyed Ms Pinky’s claws and hastily backed into Fiona’s office.

‘Perhaps we should get on with the meeting,’ he said, ‘every second counts by the sound of things.’

‘Good, you’re all here,’ said Fiona, I’ve just spoken to Alice’s phone company, her mobile hasn’t been used in days.’

‘And I managed to hack into her e-mail account earlier on,’ said Neil, ‘she hasn’t logged on at all.’

Ms Pinky put her paw into the air and waved it vigorously in front of Fiona.

‘Yes, Ms Pinky?’

‘Well, I took the liberty of calling everyone in Alice’s address book; she’d left it in her desk.’

‘And?’

‘Nothing, I’m afraid. Although I think one of the young men might have been an ex-boyfriend. He sounded lovely.’ Ms Pinky turned to Neil, blushing vermilion. ‘Not as lovely as you though, Neil’

‘Yes, well, thank you Ms Pinky, good work,’ said Fiona, unrolling a large map of the Atlantic, ‘I think our first and most important task is to locate poor Alice. Any ideas?’

‘How about a search plane?’ said Ms Pinky hopefully.

‘The ocean’s just too big,’ said Fiona, ‘it could take forever.’

‘Is Moby still on our books?’ asked Neil, ‘he can cover a lot of sea very quickly.’

Fiona pursed her lips, shaking her head.

‘Mr Dick was poached by a private Australian agency last year.’

‘Oh no!’ sobbed Ms Pinky, ‘how could they?’

‘Not that sort of poached, dear, they offered him more cash.’

‘Oh, I see,’ said Ms Pinky, calming down, ‘because poaching a whale would be a nightmare; you’d never find a pan big enough.’

Suddenly, Fiona leapt up from her chair, knocking over her award from the Mythological Work Ethics Guild.

‘That’s it Ms Pinky. You’ve got it!’

‘Got what? Where? Is it dangerous?’

‘No, you’ve solved our problem!’ Fiona rushed over and planted a kiss on Ms Pinky’s furry face.

‘I don’t follow.’

‘Nor me,’ said Neil.

Fiona removed a ball of pink fluff from her mouth and continued.

‘Ms Pinky, do you still have your recurring nightmare permit?’

‘Yes!’

‘How does that help us?’ asked Neil

‘Well,’ said Fiona, ‘If Ms Pinky can get into Alice’s nightmare, she might be able to talk to her and find out where she is.’ Fiona took Ms Pinky’s paw. ‘Will you do it?’

Ms Pinky’s eyes glowed orange and a smile spread rapidly across her three rows of serrated teeth.

‘I will!’

‘Thank you,’ said Fiona, ‘just promise not to scare Alice too much, won’t you.’

 

© flyingscribbler 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter Seven.

Welcome back to the continuing tale of Ms Pinky and friends at the most unusual employment agency there is. Please feel free to comment on the series, it really is helpful. If you are just joining in with the fun, it’s lovely to meet you. Please click here for a chapter listing to take you back to where it all began….

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange

 

Chapter Seven

 

(In which Alice meets her nemesis)

 

 

Alice drifted in and out of sleep, dreaming of a large ship ploughing through heavy seas. God, she thought when she finally woke up, how much did I drink last night? She clutched her head gingerly before forcing her eyes open. Expecting a view of Bergen’s snow-covered rooftops, Alice was somewhat surprised to find herself looking out of a small porthole; she appeared to be on board a ship ploughing through heavy seas.

‘What the….,’ she began.

‘Hell?’ resounded a voice behind her.

Alice turned to see a very tall, broad man with a bushy white beard and long hair; he was naked from the waist up, biceps bursting from his arms.

‘Not quite the word I was thinking of,’ said Alice, ‘who are you?

‘Please forgive my rudeness,’ said the man in a strong Scandinavian accent, ‘you must find this particularly confusing. I am Njord, and I would shake your hand were it not for these chains with which we are bound.’

Alice looked down at her own feet, finding that they were also chained together.

‘Njord as in Norse sea god?’

‘Indeed,’ beamed the legend, pleased that this young woman seemed to have heard of him.

‘Where am I?’

‘Ah, my dear, we are all prisoners on board this vessel. I doubt even the great Thor himself knows to where our fate leads us.’

‘Who else is here?’ asked Alice, trying hard to piece together recent events.

Njord indicated to the back of the cabin where the forlorn figure of a blond-haired mermaid lay prostrate on a dirty mattress.

‘That poor havfrue,’ said Njord shaking his head, ‘she desperately needs water for her tail.’

‘How long have I been here?’

‘They brought you aboard last night, by helicopter.’

Alice suddenly remembered the bar and the young man who had approached her.

‘That bastard!’ she exclaimed, ‘he must have drugged my gin and tonic.’

‘You mean the werewolf,’ said Njord gravely.

‘I knew it!’ cried Alice, ‘his ears twitched exactly like Neil’s.’

‘Neil?’

‘Just a friend,’ said Alice, trying to loosen the heavy chain around her ankle.

‘Are you saying you enjoy a friendship with a lycanthrope?’

‘Yes,’ said Alice, ‘but he’s not really dangerous, more of a self-harmer.’

‘What a remarkable person you are,’ said Njord, ‘I wonder why they need you.’

‘Who?’

‘The charming people who are holding us here against our will.’

‘Oh,’ said Alice, ‘I expect it has something to do with my search for the Kraken.’

Njord gazed in wonder at Alice.

‘Yet again you amaze me. Your search, my dear, is over. The Kraken is being held on this ship.’

‘Curiouser and curiouser,’ said Alice.

‘I’m afraid I was forced to help these villains navigate through the fjords to find him. That poor wretch you see over there was sent down to lure him out of his cave. They threatened to salt her tail if she refused.’

Alice shook her head: cruelty to animals was bad enough, but mistreatment of myths was an outrage.

‘Where are they taking us?’

‘My instinct tells me that we are heading west, and by a northerly route,’ said Njord.

At that moment, the cabin door was unlocked and the young man from the bar stepped inside.

‘Good, you’re awake,’ he said, addressing Alice, ‘the boss wants to see you.’

‘You’ve got some nerve,’ said Alice.

‘Save it lady,’ sneered the werewolf sniffing the air around Alice’s head, ‘or you’ll be screaming louder than a banshee burning at the stake.’

The werewolf unchained Alice from the wall and picked her up in a violent fireman’s lift.

‘Careful!’ she screamed, ‘this blouse cost me a week’s wages,’

‘Feisty little thing aren’t you?’ said the werewolf as he carried out into the corridor, ‘bet you taste nice.’

Alice found herself being carried down a set of metal stairs into the depths of the ship which was lurching alarmingly from side to side. They entered a cavernous room, presumably the vessels hold, in which Alice spotted a large metal tank, riveted on all corners, and from which water was slopping in large quantities.

Alice was thrown unceremoniously into a chair.

‘Ah, Miss Finchly, welcome aboard!’

She turned to see a boyish man with cropped hair and wire-rimmed glasses approaching.

‘Thank you Amadeus, that will be all for now,’ he said, indicating to the werewolf to leave.

‘Yes, goodbye, PETER,’ spat Alice as the werewolf walked out. She turned to the young man. ‘Whatever it is, the answers no.’

‘Now, there’s no need for rudeness. I haven’t even introduced myself yet.’

‘Well? Who are you?’

‘That’s more like it. My name is Bradley Smithson, Head of Personnel at N.E.W.T.’

‘What is N.E.W.T.?’

The man smirked.

‘The Nautilus Entertainment Worldwide Transcorporation. In other words, your new employer.’

‘I already have a job.’

‘Yes, let’s see. Alice Finchly, PREVIOUSLY in the employ of The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange, BA Hons in Literature, MA in Mythology and Folklore of Olde England, author of ‘The Secret Diary of a Myth Hunter’, and, most importantly, Licensed Cephalopod Communicator.’

Alice glanced at the tank.

‘Have you met the Kraken?’ said Bradley, climbing the stairs which ran up to the top.

‘Not yet, thanks to you,’ said Alice.

‘Come and meet him. You’ll be spending a lot of time together.’

Alice rose slowly from her seat,

‘How do you mean?’

Bradley shot a perfect bleached smile at Alice.

‘Nautilus World opens in six weeks time in Boston Harbour; the Kraken is our star attraction and you are his trainer.’

‘Never,’ said Alice, firmly.

Bradley nodded.

‘Thought you’d say that. Let’s see if I can’t change your mind.’ He spoke into a walky-talky. ‘Amadeus, bring in the mermaid.’

The werewolf appeared, carrying the dried-out mermaid from the cabin.

‘This,’ said Bradley pointing to the doorway, ‘is Lisbeth. There’s plenty more like her being held on this ship. Every day you refuse to cooperate, one mermaid becomes shark bait.’

‘You wouldn’t,’ cried Alice, ‘you can’t!’

‘We would,’ said Bradley, smiling, ‘and we will.’

 

© flyingscribbler 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter Six.

After a one week hiatus, Ms Pinky and friends return in the next episode of my serial. To read the story from the very start you will find a chapter index by clicking here.

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange

Chapter Six

(In which Ms Pinky settles in and Alice has a Norwegian encounter)

 

 

Ms Pinky began to cheer up considerably with her giant, triple chocolate chip cookie and cinnamon-spiced double-fat latte which Fiona had fetched from Gino’s coffee shop upstairs. She poured a glug of brandy into the cup from a silver hip flask before spinning herself across the room on her posturepedic chair.

‘Feeling better Ms Pinky?’ asked Fiona, poking her head around her office door.

‘Yes thank you Fiona,’ said Ms Pinky, wiping milky foam from her furry pink face, ‘and thanks for the latte. It’s delicious.’ The monster tried unsuccessfully to silence a boozy burp, which Fiona ignored.

‘No problem, and if there’s anything else you want Ms Pinky, to make you feel more comfortable, just ask.’

Ms Pinky thought about this for a moment, biting her bottom lip; blood suddenly gushed from the wound made by her razor sharp teeth and she dabbed at the blood with a small yellow hanky.

‘Oops,’ she mumbled, ‘I keep forgetting I just had them sharpened.’ She looked around the reception area briefly. ‘I was thinking I could rearrange a few things in here; you know, make it a bit brighter.’

‘Good idea,’ said Fiona, ‘why not. Oh, and I’ve just been on to the Employment Ministry and made an application to change our name. I think we need something to recognise that we now deal with monsters as well as myths.’

Ms Pinky beamed with delight, all three rows of teeth gleaming with blood.

Within an hour, Ms Pinky had moved the wooden coat stand away from the door, tidied up the wilting aspidistra and given its leaves a polish, and removed the posters from the glass panelled entrance to allow in as much light as possible from the street upstairs. She was just combing the hair on one of her Malibu Barbies when she heard Neil coming back in through the fire exit at the end of the corridor.

‘How are the reindeer?’ she asked.

‘Happier now they’ve had their carrots, but Lord knows what we’re going to do with them. Turns out, none of them actually has a valid flying license, so it looks like they’re staying.’ Neil picked at some straw stuck to his jacket.

‘Watch what you’re doing please Neil,’ said Ms Pinky, bending down to pick up the reindeer bedding, ‘I’ve just tidied up. Do you like it?’

‘Very nice,’ said Neil looking round the reception. ‘Is that a picture of me on the wall?’

‘Yes,’ said Ms Pinky, beaming, ‘it’s our new Employee of the Month Hall of Fame. I thought it would be good for office morale.’

‘And I see that I’m the first inductee,’ said Neil cautiously, ‘chosen by….?’

‘Yours truly!’ gushed Ms Pinky.

Neil forced a polite smile.

‘I see. Thank you, Ms Pinky. Now if you’ll excuse me,’ he said hastily, ‘I must find some temporary accommodation for those animals.’

Before phoning round the local stables, Neil checked his e-mails: there was one from his friend at the Ratings Office which he scanned briefly. Seconds later Neil burst into Fiona’s office.

‘You were right,’ he said.

‘Come in why don’t you,’ said Fiona.

‘Sorry, but you need to hear this.’

‘Go on.’

‘That friend of mine from the Ratings Office.’

‘The one you had a fling with?’

‘Well, one of them, yes.’

Fiona raised her eyebrows in mock surprise.

‘Anyway, he said someone else was sniffing around for a list of Cephalopod communicators and thought we should know.’

Fiona was silent for a moment.

‘We need to get Alice back from Norway,’ she said, ‘that someone is definitely after her, and if it’s the werewolf who was here earlier, she’s not safe.’

‘Agreed,’ said Neil, ‘I’ll try and call her again.’

Across the North Sea, in Bremen, Alice was perched at the bar of a cosy little café. She was trying to work out if she could afford another gin and tonic: most of her Krona had gone on bribing the fishing boat to take her out to sea to find the Kraken, and she wasn’t sure if she had enough left; having lost her mobile phone overboard earlier on, she didn’t even have use of a calculator.

The weather had been pretty horrendous, but at least she had found what she was looking for, or rather she hadn’t. The Kraken, it turned out, was not the Kraken at all but a very poor substitute squid, who had been paid a large sum of herring to imitate the real sea monster. This, at least, explained the discrepancy in its paperwork, and Alice had wasted no time in faxing the Norwegian Employment Minister with her discovery. However, despite her proficiency in cephalopod sentence structure and irregular declensions, Alice had not been able to work out whether the stooge squid knew what had happened to the real Kraken; she was in no doubt though that something fishy was going on.

‘I’d better phone the office,’ thought Alice, ‘they’ve probably been trying to get hold of me.’

She rummaged in her bag for some coins and looked around for a pay phone. At the other end of the bar she noticed a young man standing alone. He’s dishy, thought Alice, as he nodded a greeting to her. She raised her glass in return and he walked over.

‘Good evening,’ he said, ‘may I buy you a drink?’

Alice rubbed the coins together in her hand and decided the call could wait for a few minutes.

‘That would be lovely, thank you. My name’s Alice.’

‘That’s a beautiful name, Alice,’ said the man, holding out his hand, ‘I’m Peter.’

‘Are you visiting too?’ asked Alice, ‘you’re obviously not from here.’

‘Yes, just visiting,’ said Peter.

‘It’s a beautiful place, isn’t it?’

‘Absolutely,’ agreed Peter.

‘Especially pretty in the moonlight, I think,’ continued Alice, ‘with the snow.  Must be a full moon, don’t you think?’

The young man’s eyes widened as he smiled.

‘Not tonight,’ he said, pausing to smell the air, ‘not until next Thursday.’

 

© flyingscribbler 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Common Cold – A Sap on Creative Ability.

Being ill over the festive season is a little bit like the impending cuts to our public services: you don’t want it to happen but are almost entirely unable to prevent it; it seems inevitable and yet you approach the end of the year hopeful that you can fend off the multiplying viral nasties which surround you. Flying for a living doesn’t help of course; it is one thing to defend against domestically cultured germs, but throw into the mix a cosmopolitan, trans-continental collection of well-travelled colds, and there really is no chance. I keep being told that I “must be immune by now” to cold and flu viruses: presumably because I spend my working life trapped with thousands of them at 30,000 feet.

This is not correct.

I am currently recovering from a delightful cold which announced itself quite suddenly in the middle of the night last week. You see, I made the fatal mistake of assuming that I had made it through the season in rude health. This is a sure way of opening the door to any passing virus looking for an opportunity to colonise a new host. Inevitably, this occurred the day I was due back at work and since I wasn’t ill enough (yet) not to work, I took my new friend on a little holiday to Calgary, ( minus twenty degrees and snow flurries). Needless to say, by the time we returned, one of us had sapped the strength of the other.

Still, at least I started the year sober and booze free. There is an upside to everything. I’ve lost three kilos already and haven’t had to spend any cash to do it.

Less positively, I haven’t felt like writing a word for a while, have missed #fridayflash and have lost the creative urge. I think this is a natural reaction: all energy must be directed at lifting the soup spoon to the mouth, whilst saving just enough to lift the phone to speak feebly to someone. To let them know of course.

I am now feeling myself again, and am sure that inspiration is just around the corner, so please come back for more fun at the Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange this week. In the meantime, I think I’ll let someone else do the work: Ogden Nash obviously suffered from a similarly unpleasant sniffle at one time and seems to really understand just how much worse colds affect the male of the species. (File under Irony).

Common Cold

Go hang yourself, you old M.D.!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
I’m not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever’s hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!

Give ear, you scientific fossil!
Here is the genuine Cold Colossal;
The Cold of which researchers dream,
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme.
This honored system humbly holds
The Super-cold to end all colds;
The Cold Crusading for Democracy;
The Führer of the Streptococcracy.

Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne’er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.

A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!
Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;
Don Juan was a budding gallant,
And Shakespeare’s plays show signs of talent;
The Arctic winter is fairly coolish,
And your diagnosis is fairly foolish.
Oh what a derision history holds
For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!

Ogden Nash

http://www.poemhunter.com/