Bert felt jealous, cheated on, and blue. Then he discovered he could morph into a giant nightmarish slug...
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On Wednesdays and Sundays I’m blogging nibble-sized chunks of new ‘Life in the Clouds’ novellas. You can check in regularly and read them bit for bit, or leave a message in my 'contact' page, and I'll send the entire digital story to you for free when published.
Life in the Clouds #6: Take a Slug ® James Field.
A fly must have flown into Sibyl’s mouth because her breath caught in her throat and she sneezed. If it had been a fly, Morris could picture it now splattered beneath the ceiling of their four-poster bed. She smacked her lips, turned her head, and muttered dreamily. “What’s the matter, Morris? Can’t sleep?”
“Not a blink.”
“Something on your mind?”
“Yes. That gardening competition.”
They both worked and lived at the Cloud Mansion. Sibyl was the housekeeper, and Morris was the gardener. He took pride in his work; the lawns were always neatly trimmed; rosebushes and border plants glowed with health; fruit trees and bushes provided succulent treats; and the kitchen garden where Sibyl’s many strange herbs grew swelled with vitality. But his greatest joy was his vegetable garden. Year after year, he’d won competitions for the largest variety of one sort or another.
Sibyl turned on her side and raised herself on an elbow, bedsprings groaning under the shift of weight. “I have a sleeping potion if you like, in the kitchen.”
“I thought you might,” said Morris. His wife considered herself a white witch and had potions for just about everything. The funny thing was, they seemed to work. “Yes please. I’ll go crazy if I don’t get some sleep.”
“Third shelf from the top, on the wall above where the iron frying pans hang. Take one teaspoon and hurry back to bed.” Sibyl yawned, closed her watery eyes, whumped out a fart, and turned on her back. “Happy nightmares,” she mumbled and drifted back to her snoring.
Morris climbed out of bed and padded across the carpet in his bare feet. He was short of stature, but large of confidence—a born leader with strong opinions and intrepid boldness. Many sought his advice on almost any subject.
To reach the kitchen, he had to traverse a dark hall. Despite his self-assurance, nervous about what he might see, he kept his eyes closed and fumbled for the light switch. When he found it, the light blinded him. With his eyes squinting, he tiptoed to the kitchen and turned on that light, too. The ice-cold stone floor sent shivers up through his ankles, and the cavernous room echoed his every breath. As always, when he was alone in the dead of night, he avoided looking into corners and shadows.
Bottles and containers of all shapes and colours, each neatly labelled, filled shelves on every wall. Crammed between similar-sized brown bottles: one marked ‘For restless legs’, the other marked ‘For restless hands’, Morris found the sleeping potion.
He hurried because he had the uneasy feeling that someone or something stared at his back. He pulled the cork and drank straight from the bottle. It tasted like syrupy garlic and lemon. Not too bad if he pinched his nose. How much was one teaspoon? Or had Sibyl said serving spoon? To make sure he had enough, he swallowed several mouthfuls. And just to ensure it worked on somebody as impossibly woken as he, he drained the contents down his throat.
To be continued
The real world:
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Like to know more about Alf, Bert and the rest of the gang? You can read their chaotic history in What on Earth.
Image by analogicus from Pixabay
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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
There’s a lot to like and a lot to dislike in this story. I like that it’s cosy, funny, and heart-warming. The plot, however, is a tragedy. There are two murders, and every character in the book, of which there are many, has a motif. With so many twists, turns, and red herrings throughout the narrative, it lost me in a virtual maze.
But the author commits the gravest crime: he introduces a new, guilty character right at the end of the story. Tut, tut, naughty.
View all my reviews