I’ll tell you what – it’s not all happy days mate, being a time traveller and stuff. All those TV programs and books, sci-fi, all the geeky crap – it’s nothing like that. In them its all “Ooooo how exciting, I’m having tea with the Queen of Sheba!“, or bob sleighing with Napoleon or some such bollocks. It doesn’t work like that in reality. It’s hard going. Really grim.
For a start you lose bits of yourself. All sorts of bits; sometimes you get them back again, but at other times…they’re replaced with other weird bits. Other people’s bits! Take my ear. Look at it. That’s not my bloody ear! My ear disappeared six months ago when I wound up in a priest-hole with some smelly bloke, who claimed he was hiding cos the Queen had sent out troops to kill all the Catholics if they wouldn’t convert to being Proddys. I asked him the year, and he reckoned it was “The year of Our Lord 1598” and that we was in Kidderminster, in Worcestershire. He clocked my clothes then and backed off a bit, waggling a rosary in me face and calling me Satan.
I’ve been called a few things in my time, most of them involving the word ‘dickhead’ but Satans a brand new one. I said, “I dunno what you lot think Satan looks like, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t wear Reebok trainers.” (Since then I’ve thought maybe he would wear them because he’s not gonna just turn up in beaver skin undies hopping about from hoof to hoof all red and shiny is he? He’d want to blend in. But to blend in back then you’d need to roll in cow shit for a week because man did this priest guy stink! Like a Glastonbury fezzy toilet, in the Pyramid stage field third day in.)
It was the next smack after that when the ear thing happened. I call them ‘smacks’, because when the time travel occurs all the breath gets sucked of your body for a couple of seconds and then its blasted back in your face when you appear somewhere else. It’s like getting smacked in the face by God’s farts.
So after the brief chat with an ancient priest I appeared back in my bedroom and my ear felt….weird. I looked in the mirror and see that its a girls ear! It’s clearly some birds ear alright? All, shell-like and er….not a lumpy mess like my other one. The shame. A woman’s ear. I don’t show my ears no more I can tell you, I started growing my hair then and I’m not stopping until I can tie it back to completely cover them. But it ain’t limited to ears, noooo, I should be grateful it wasn’t my…….doesn’t bear thinking about really. I’ve already got someone else’s big toe and two of my teeth have gone all like fangs, only they’re next to each other on one side at the back and about half the size of normal teeth so I don’t look like some impressive vampire, no, I look something mutant pixie out of Discworld – if this carries on it’ll be time to wave a white flag and join the bloody circus. I wonder if some pretty lass somewhere in history is wandering about with a big ugly splat of an ear now…….?
The thing is, I’ve been cursed. An actual curse. It’s embarrassing really cos I’ve always said superstitious stuff and magic don’t exist. My Nan was crazy about magic and mediums. She loved Doris Stokes, and would go on and on about fortune-telling, and gypsy curses as though it were all real like. I used to take the mickey out of her all the time when I was a nipper. One of her favourite sayings was, “there’s no such thing as a happy medium” when she was scolding me, and I’d reply that Sally Morgan was laughing all the way to the bank from what I could see. That’s how I got the lumps, a million clips round the ear can do that. I was a proper little shit I was when I was a kid. And a teenager. And some might have issue now, but….well I try my best, and I’m under some pressure what with all the dimension smacks and freaky body parts so give me a break. But as it turns out…Nan was kinda right…some of the hocus pocus stuff is true.
I didn’t mean to kill the cat. I didn’t even know there was a cat in the satchel! I mean, yeah, I know, throwing random stuff on fires isn’t the best idea. But I was bored, a bit stoned and it was bonfire night, so I started chucking anything close to hand from the giant piles of crap all over the overgrown forest of doom that is my back garden, when I realised the last thing thrown had a weird feel to it. I received this gem of intelligence just as it left my hands and went sailing into the fire. I suddenly knew there was summat up, somethin’ alive in there and bolted into the fire straight after it, even burnt my hand a bit getting it back out.
The bag was smouldering so I whacked it – gentle like, and pulled the latches open. There was this cat inside, an old cat, a really old cat. I mean this cat was Noah’s cat. It was probably black once, but had mostly turned a sickly white colour with singed edges. Both eyes were milky with cataracts, and it was so rigid with fear I could have used it as a passable furry tennis racquet. There was something about those eyes though, then it opened its mouth and threw me a long silent mew.
I leant forward saying something about “puss puss, it’s ok..” And the fecker bit me! Right through the flesh between my thumb and forefinger. And stayed there. So I started jumping around, screaming, hopping from foot to foot with a bloody enormous old cat hanging off my hand like it’s got lockjaw, and in the scuffle….er…I twatted the poor sod into the shed door. It fell off, still stiff as a board but was now clearly a deceased cat. Bollocks.
I was just bending down, aiming to bury the damn thing when suddenly an old hag appeared. (I say ‘hag’, which isn’t very nice, but seriously, she looked more like a hag than anyone I’d ever seen. If you look up hag in the dictionary, there’ll be a picture of her leering at you, gurning wildly. Warts an all – Yeah, she had warts, and a hooked nose. I’d have thought she was straight out of the local pantomime but she stunk of cat piss, and I couldn’t see Christopher Biggins prancing about in lacy bloomers within ten miles of her to be honest.)
She eyeballed me and grabbed my arm, flashing a set of gums full of way too many teeth for the size of her mouth. I mean all kinds of teeth were going on in there, long and thin, fat yellow rotting ones, a few razor-sharp ones dotted about, and a smattering of them sticking out above and below the normal gum line too. When it was shut she had a small puckered scowl, like an old, old brown arsehole that’d seen some dark action in its time, but when open…..she had the tardis of teeth.
I realised she was digging her grimy sharp nails deep into the skin on my forearm, as I came to from the shock of being a murderer, (breaking the skin too I found afterwards, as I copped the half moons full of dried blood). “She’s dead! You’ve killed Sherazier! Killed an ancient one! I curse you…….CURSE YOU ” She screeched in a voice that had me thinking of rusty nails down a window pane. “You shall never know your true home. You shall never rest. From one day to the next you will know no peace, nor find any love that you can hold onto for more than one whole passage of the moon. You will roam without reprieve for eternity and naught will ever sate your hunger!”
Shit on a Tuesday.
Great. Well that sounded like a totally reasonable and sane reaction. I mean…what the fuck?
I took the last empty can of Carling out of my bag and looked at it for a bit, wondering if my mate Sol had slipped me a mickey – popped half an acid tab in when my back was turned for a laugh. The can rattled at me mournfully, all empty of beer and full of no answers.
“Keep your knickers on granny, you’ll do yourself a mischief” – I tried sounding all chilled but fell sideways into a bit shrill. I was pretty feckin scared to be straight. She looked….wrong. Like her skin didn’t fit, with spiky bits where there should be soft bits and stuff. I mean actual ‘stuff’ – coming out of her eyes and ears. All gunky and silvery-black coloured like the Devils thermometer had broken. Proper creepy cow. I didn’t mean to kill her cat! I’m no killer of anything, nothing more than the odd fly or spider. I told her that to see if it’d help, but it turns out some of her best mates are flies and spiders, so I buggered things up all the more. Knowing my luck God’ll turn out to be a big fuck off fruit fly.
A curse. I was shit up proper I can tell you. I didn’t believe it of course, but the look in her eyes was horrible, really hard and old, a full on cruel old bird she was. I shudder now at the thought of those cold clammy fingers on my skin. If she’d’ve been a bloke I’d have chinned her there and then and ran for the hills, but I don’t hit women, (assuming she actually was one, that was not instantly clear and I didn’t want to investigate the issue thanks) She had a face like a crashed cortina crossed with a bulldog licking piss off an alcoholics armpit.
I began to feel a bit..odd. Things weren’t right in some way I just couldn’t put my finger on so I gave in and threw a bit of embarrassing pleading her way. “Look, uncurse me misses, give me a break – all eternity?! Come on, that’s a bit harsh! All the books I read as a kid said curses have a way of being broken. What can I do to make things right?”
“Free is it you’re fancying? Ha! You want to earn it eh? Fine, earn it you shall. When the moons are blooded red in the sky, and the time is yesterday’s sister, stand in the white fire and t..” She stopped, dead still, and stared at me in absolute horror, her saggy jowls lowering to rest on her creepy crepy neck. Then I heard a quiet menacing whisper, almost sing-song in nature, coming from over my head;
“Why are you here?!….You were warned Demelza…This place is sacred! Begone foul hag of the night!” (I was glad at this point to hear I’d got the hag part right, but for the life of me couldn’t work out how my grotty back garden was sacred to anyone unless it were a God of penguins as the only half decent element was a slightly mucky old penguin ornament someone lobbed over the fence a few years ago). “I banish you to the deadlands, of Ghane’n, never darken the door of this dimension again.” The hag turned an even paler shade of budgie poo green than she already was, and began to disappear from the feet upwards. She opened that bat-shit crazy mouth again, but in terror this time and looked so sad in the last few moments that I actually felt a bit sorry for her. But not a lot. Then ‘poof!’ she disappeared. In a puff of smoke no less. Seriously, in an actual puff of chuffin’ smoke. Like in the books my ma used to read me when I was a nipper, then skin up with because she was out of rizla papers.
I looked round, and then up. There was a man stood there. He was enormous. A tall, tall (did I say tall?) bloke, thin and reedy, like a long streak ‘o piss stood there with what appeared to be an old biscuit tin on his head, his hands waving away in the air as though conducting some silent seriously overworked orchestra.
I said to him “Was that you mate? Did you get rid of her for me?”
“Aye” he said, “And you sir got off easy I can tell you. However, unfortunately the curse was fully cast afore I arrived. I apologise for my tardiness, ” he said with a short curt bow. “the very least I can do is endeavour to give you some sage advice for the journeys ahead of you”
“Journeys? What? What journeys…?”
“The curse you dullard! You must gather your wits about you. Have you wits within? What is your trade?”
“In what way do you earn a crust boy?”
” I’m 43!”
” In not one of the thousands of dimensions I have traversed have I ever known of anyone who could manage to earn a living by simply surviving up to the age of 43. I fear you are simple.”
“Ya cheeky sod! I’m complicated I’ll have you know, very complicated!”
The guy stared at me silently for a good minute or so, (his eyes were unsettlingly close together I noticed and he smelled faintly of Swarfega), as though I were the local village idiot, then he shrugged and said;
“You will travel through time repeatedly, perpetually, and no notice shall you be granted. She has put a Möbius hex on you boy (boy again!! I’m fucking balding!), but all is not lost for I can aid you to some extent on your burdensome path. Remember this if you remember nothing else;” and then he disappeared. Or rather I did. Yet another circus standard nut-job bails out on me at the last moment when they could actually be of chuffin use.
That was my first smack. I’ve been at it for so long now that I don’t know what time is anymore, all the time hoping to meet him again, to find the weird sod. Will our paths never cross?!! Sheesh. And here’s the thing, I
coughing ensues Where the hell am I? It’s dark, and that smell, oooohhh man, it’s as rank as a pair of Sol’s grundy undies that have been filled with ancient blue cheese. Hang on, it’s me what whiffs, the stink is coming from me I think and….woah…I feel proper sick now and damn that’s hot!!! Light though at last, thank fuck for that I was…………….oh no….nonononoNOOOOOOO, it’s me, looking down at me! In my garden, and I’m Sherazier, I’m the bloody cat! “Look ya dickhead its me! You!” I shout, but only a thin almost silent mew escapes from my mouth. So, I do the only thing I can think of to get my own attention and bite the hand in front of my furry jaw and then…..