Wednesday, 28 August 2013

PART 1: Sad Sam and Sly Strange - A Serial by Grant Harbison and Manuela Cardiga

In a wild and bitter land where no dreams were real, and no souls were whole, lived a man called Sad Sweet Sam. In that entire world his only affection was one - far from perfection- Sly Slither Sophocles Strange.

Now Strange was his name and stranger his game; but the strangeness was stranger when caught in the rain. Now Strange wasn’t called Sly for any reason at all; so many before him had heeded his call. To seek out lands which were fair and were new, where rain never fell and the sky was so blue. But Sam on the other hand, well he loved the rain but lived in fear that Strange´s strangeness would come back again and again, and the fruit of that strangeness would always be pain. Still, Sam could not refuse; his love for his friend left him open to abuse. Oh but Sam he was wise, he knew one true thing...Love we gift freely and should not regret the flowering of our hearts. Should another's heart be an unopened fist, still the love we feel is no less real. So in love, Sly's bait he would swallow: he chose to follow the unreeling strange thread, though- we may ask- to what end?

Following the strange thread filled Sam with dread. Though right or wrong, he had to go on. To lands that were fair, what treasures be there? He had to be brave, for the path may be grave. But with no pain, there's no gain, no sun without rain: the love of a friend should be to the end; sharing our sorrows and fears for tomorrow.

So, sweet and shy Sam followed Sly; and strange Sly followed the road ever west towards the slow waves of a shallow sea. Ask yourself, what would their discourse be? Huddled at night on that salty plain, the carcasses of dead eras strewn around them in the pallid light of the triple moon? Huddled around the meagre fire fed with bones; listening for the distant booming thunder of the far waves. Here in this white desert at last the rain has died.

About this at least, Sly has not lied... As they continued their journey under bright crimson skies, Sly told Sam tales of epochs gone by; when men had been slain by ogres and gorgons, who'd cut off their heads and rendered their organs; and how the souls of the men could be seen on the plain, headless, unsightly and searching in vain. Sly told more tales of secret sepulchres, where vile creatures slept and wakened at sunset. Sam listened closely and absorbed every word, recoiling in terror at what should be absurd.

As they crested the hillock they saw a maiden fair, skin so pale and soft and golden of hair.

“Bow before the Queen of Dead Hearts!” shouted her accompanying guard, “May I present fellow travelers, Miss Severina de Selvage.”

Sly and Sam bent themselves double, “we come in peace-we mean you no trouble”. As the words were spoken it began to rain, the dreaded monthly crimson rain, and Sam knew that Sly´s strangeness would begin again. He spoke whispered words to the guard, explained about Sly, how he began to change once the rain fell from the sky. The guard eyed him wearily, his suspicion quite strong. Sam knew for certain that it wouldn’t be long before Sly's body changed.

Sly convulsed and howled, twisted with rage. His body protracted, his skin turned bright green; the most hideous sight that any had seen. He opened his mouth and exposed yellow teeth, with razor sharp incisors that defied belief. He ran to the guard and twisted his head, chewed on his neck and left him for dead.

Severina de Selvage clapped her joy and her countenance beamed. This was her man, the man of her dreams!

Oh shattered was Sweet Sam, and frightened indeed, for his love for Sly; his sincere esteem had been ever for the good side - the wild man who dreamed. Now Severina was loving the monster inside, who killed, rendered and lusted; the very creature that could never be trusted. Sam shuddered and covered his eyes to block out the sickening sight, for Severina moved forward: her smile slow and ripe, she undid her bodice and proffered her flesh; the slender perfection no man had possessed.

Sly Strange slavered with lust: he gripped her and ripped open the dress. They tore at each other, not loving but striving - two fearsome things each one recognising in each other the fearsome reflection of souls whose sole intention was corruption, destruction, and ultimate fear.

Severina eyed Sam with sadistic delight. "Who is this creature, this peculiar young sprite?"

"His name is Sam," said Sly with a sneer, as the old Sly returned and the monster disappeared.

"Come, let us hurry," she said with distaste. "There's much to be seen, there's no time to waste. I know a place that will fulfill your desires, where the gentry are slaughtered and roasted on fires. This is a paradise for you and for me, where nubiles are plenty, just waits and see. The town is not far, it's called Devil's Mudd. We can eat rotten flesh and drink buckets of blood."

"Will there be food for young Sam, something instead?"

"He can have water and black gypsy bread."

Oh at these words, Sad Sam shivered with dread, for he knew the origin of that Gypsy bread: it was ground up from bones and baked on the fires, and a terrible stirrer of vicious desires. They said if you ate of it, and drank Devil's water...They said you would change, dream only of slaughter.

Sweet Sad Sam started to ponder leaving Sly to the Devil's daughter, but as he opened his mouth to speak, he saw the pleading look - his friend could not weep or beg for his attention - but his eyes above the sneering smile? Said: stay with me, please, just one more mile...

By Grant Harbison and Manuela Cardiga

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