Satan’s Claws Are Coming To Town chapter 3


Chapter 3

Brimstone!

Yes, the flatus from the arse of Hades! Even in those days, before my spectre-hunting skills had been wholly developed, I recognised that malevolent whiff.

Wrapping my scarf around my face, I listened carefully. The singing was now emanating from behind me. And it was getting louder by the second. I spun around.

I was confronted with a group of carol singers. One of them was holding a lantern on a stick, bathing them in a sinister yellow glow. At first, they seemed like ordinary children, swathed in scarves and woolly hats. But as they approached, I could see to my amazement and horror that they were gargoyles! Not just particularly ugly children, but the actual stone effigies of medieval times, seemingly alive!  I glanced up at the eaves of the church. There was a definite absence of gargoyles and grotesques that one would expect of a church of this age.

Now the odious choir was so close to me that I could see their mouths. I quaked at the sight. My God, will I never erase that disgusting vision from my poor brain! Tiny snapping teeth in mouths seemingly carved into the masonry of the head. They chattered vilely, the teeth making repugnant clicking noises as they sang their blasphemous words. Their chins were covered in sickening scraggy bristles. With horror, I realised that the nauseating orifices reminded me of ladies’…

‘Of ladies’ what, Uncle?’ asked Simon, his eyes saucer-wide.

I sighed. ‘Oh, you know, young man, ladies’…’ I pointed in the general direction, ‘…downstairs.’

‘Their wine cellars?’ asked Simon, clearly puzzled.

‘No,’ I said, exasperated at the ingenuous lad. His naiveté had a certain charm but only to a point. I was really going to have to give him ’the talk’ before the whole thing blew up in his face when he eventually joined the army. ’You do know the difference between ladies and chaps, don’t you?’

‘Girls play lacrosse, boys play rugger.’

‘Well, yes…’

‘Girls can type.’

‘True.’

‘And,’ Simon said, heartbreakingly triumphantly, ‘girls squirt babies out of their bottoms.’

I blame his parents. His mother was no better than she should be, and his father’s never been right since Wipers.

‘Let’s continue with my story, Simon. We’ll worry about your alarming lack of genital savvy after Christmas.’

‘Right-oh!’

The infernal choristers crept nearer and nearer. Nowadays, I would have no problem in despatching the repugnant blighters, but then I was stumped. Bullies, communists, pansies, vegetarians, Catholics, the lower orders… those oiks I could soon send packing, but stone fiends from Hell! Hadn’t a clue, frankly.

The Bourbons a Bisquits have never been yellow, but I genuinely thought that my only way of saving my skin was to scarper, pronto. One usually takes sanctuary from the denizens of the underworld in the nearest church, but I had no wish to put Goosey’s parishioners at risk.

But then something quite uncanny happened. A figure, enveloped in hat and scarves, not an inch of his face visible to the world, appeared from nowhere. He – obviously a he – was carrying a large bucket, and he chucked the contents of it all over the damnable brutes. Instantly, they all screamed, and I stared in fascination as the stone monstrosities writhed in horror, their screeches of pain piercing me to my very soul. Then with an ear-splitting bang, the gargoyles exploded! With the reflexes of an old tommie, I instinctively ducked as the shrapnel whizzed past my face.

I cautiously raised my head when the onslaught was over. My faceless saviour was rummaging in the debris.

‘Thanks, old bean,’ I called to him. ‘Much obliged.’

He nodded. ‘Holy water,’ his muffled voice explained from behind the scarf. And with that he grabbed a handful of the gravel remnants and scarpered!

‘I say, who the Dickens are you?’ I called after him, but he’d vanished into the churning blizzard.

I briefly contemplated following him but decided that the warmth and bright candles of the church were more my priority.

But who was that scarfed cove?

The carol service was the jollity I needed after my supernatural happenstance. I managed to join in occasionally, even reaching levels of gusto when we sang about Emmanuelle coming, but I have to admit that while Goosey was in the pulpit blathering on about virgin births and shepherds and whatnot, I was deep in thought about the chilling events of earlier. And little was I to know that I had just been set on the path of righteousness. Yes, Simon, that night, my role as warrior against the creatures of the night started.

‘Crikey!’ exclaimed Simon, vulgarly.

After the service, I waited while Goosey exchanged pleasantries and season’s greetings with his parishioners and, his hand out, accepted gifts from them, including some fatly-stuffed envelopes, and then we walked back to the rectory together (I won’t deny that I kept a wary look-out during the short journey) along with one of the older altar boys, a strapping lad called Toby.

Toby was assisting at the first service in the morning so was sleeping in the box room (‘saves the poor boy making his way back to the church at the crack of dawn in this weather.’).  Goosey packed Toby off to bed with strict instructions to leave his door open for Father Christmas. I’d have thought the lad too old for that sort of childishness, but maybe they grow up later in the sticks.

Once we were thawing out in front of Goosey’s inglenook, sipping from the cocoa which Mrs Brain had ready for us (into which Goosey had tipped a very welcome tot of Scotch), I confided to my ecclesiastic chum the singular events which had taken place earlier.

To my surprise, Goosey pooh-poohed the whole story. ‘Local oiks playing japes on you,’ he giggled. He dismissed any suggestion of the supernatural, which I found rather rum considering his profession.

‘Oh, we’re far too modern in the church today to countenance that sort of claptrap,’ he explained. I was rather shocked. Either you believe in your own nonsense or else, why bother?

‘No, I know exactly which children were to blame for your little adventure. Their parents will be at the mid-morning service tomorrow. I’ll wag a few fingers in the appropriate direction. ‘

He drained his cocoa and stood up. ’Early matinee tomorrow, so I think I had better be up the wooden hills to Bedfordshire.’

He yawned and stretched. ’Merry Christmas, old chum. Put that nonsense of earlier out of your mind and have a good night’s sleep. You’ll giggle about it in the morning.’

‘Merry Christmas, Goosey,’ I said absently.

‘Don’t worry about any sounds from upstairs, I’ll just be filling Toby’s stocking.’

With that Goosey scurried upstairs.

I retrieved the rune-inscribed parchment from my pocket and stared at it. Was it true? Was I cursed? Was I destined not to see Boxing Day? I’d dismissed the threat as nonsense, but almost being grabbed by the gargoyles earlier had opened me up to all sorts of possibilities. None of them comfortable.

I gulped down the dregs of my cocoa. The only advantage I could see in my current predicament was that I could get pleasantly legless without suffering the consequences.

I was suddenly aware that I wasn’t alone. I looked up – yes, fearfully I am man enough to admit. Dr Wimpybar was in the doorway looking at me.

‘Who hates you enough to curse you to an eternity of hellfire?’’ he asked quietly.

I considered. ‘Hmm, well, my ex-wife Marjory, perhaps… otherwise I like to think I am generally adored.’

‘No,’ he insisted, ‘earlier than that?’

‘The midwife? I gather I wasn’t an easy birth.’`

Wimpybar sighed. ‘You are a very stupid man, Viscount. Perhaps you deserve your infernal fate.’

Which was just rude.

 

Christmas morn dawned. The snow lay deep and crisp and even, although the frost looked pretty damn cruel.

‘It’s Christmas time,’ I muttered to myself as I looked out of my bedroom window. ‘But is there a need to be afraid?’

The driveway to Daryl Hall was hurriedly being cleared of snow by locals, young and old, so that we could pass through in Goosey’s pony-and-trap.

‘Isn’t it wonderful that the poor can earn money on Christmas Day, rather than sitting around all day remaining poor, unable even to beg because decent people aren’t out in the streets,’ said Goosey. Rather a profound statement, I thought. Perhaps being a vicar wasn’t such a surprising calling for him?

To my astonishment, Dr Grenford Wimpybar was joining us for lunch. ‘Isn’t he a bit non-U for lunch in such exalted company?’ I whispered to Goosey.

‘He was specifically invited,’ Goosey replied. ‘The Whizzer-Chips read his monograph on the links between tight underpants and communism and so were rather keen to meet him.’

Wimpybar had remained silent throughout the journey, occasionally distracted by the snow-drenched peasants we passed, although whenever I glanced at him, he was staring at me rather too intently for comfort.

My experience the evening before now seemed like a bad dream, the result of too much cheese at night. However, even though I thought I’d convinced myself that the Satanic death sentence was claptrap, deep down a grinding in my gut was ever-present. Maybe that was the late-night cheese too? Or the now-empty decanter of whisky?

But whatever unholy shenanigans were going on, I was sure that Wimpybar was somehow behind it all. His devilish demeanour and the bespoke nature of his silky accent automatically made him dubious to my eyes. Perhaps he had joined us for lunch to see my monstrous demise with his own cunning eyes?

‘I say, look at those!’ I pointed ahead of us.

Daryl Hall was ringed by a circle of huge snowmen, scarfed and hatted, coal for eyes and buttons, and, unusually, two carrots each; one for the nose as is the tradition, the other protruding proudly just below the waist. The pubic tubers certainly made for an impressive, if unorthodox, vision.  The snowmen faced outwards as though on sentry duty against intruders, their orange Johnsons thrusting out in the en garde position.

‘Abominable!’ muttered Wimpybar under his breath.

Goosey giggled uncertainly ‘How naughtily pagan. I shall have to have a word with the Whizzer-Chips.’

Our transport pulled up outside the imposing main entrance to Daryl Hall. We disembarked and approached the front door; Goosey rang the bell.

The door to Daryl Hall was opened by a rather imposing butler who was – I jest not, Simon – as starkers as we are now.

‘Gosh!’

Stark buttock naked! And bearing in mind the cove was eighty if he was a day, it was an alarming sight.

‘Merry Christmas, Spambot,’ exclaimed Goosey.

When Goosey had mentioned that the Whizzer-Chips were nudists, it hadn’t occurred to me that their lunch guests were expected to follow suit – or to be precise, no suits at all.

‘Yuletide greetings, Reverend,’ wheezed the elderly servant. ‘Please come in and I will lead you to the disrobing room.’ He turned, displaying buttocks so fleshless that sitting comfortably must surely be impossible for him, and limped away, his jagged left hip looking as though it may pierce through his gossamer skin at any moment. I was briefly reminded of being taken to see the remains of Tutankhamen when I was boy.

I glanced at Wimpybar. He merely raised an eyebrow. I was not then the committed nudist I am now, but as the owner of a young and fit body at the time…

‘As you are now,’ chipped in Simon, the darling boy.

‘…I had no fear of doffing the clobber, but neither Goosey nor Dr Wimpybar were exactly fine specimens of manhood. In fact, I think they wouldn’t have disagreed with me that they were both blobby buckets of lard encased in repellently pale and dimpled skin.’

Simon rightly shuddered.

Before we were led into the house, I glimpsed back the way we came. I looked at the snowmen again. Something about them made me shudder. They coal eyes seemed to be staring right at me. Hang on a dashed moment, weren’t they facing away from the house when we arrived…? I shook my head. No, I surely must’ve been mistaken.

Continued

 

 

 

To hear Sir Desmond at work, go to

http://www.whatnoise.co.uk

Read my memoirs THE DEVIL TALKS THE HINDMOST

Tags: ChristmasChristmas ghost storyghostshorrorschooldaysstirlingwheatley

 

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One Response to “Satan’s Claws Are Coming To Town chapter 3”

  1. Satan’s Claws Are Coming to Town chapter 2 | The Gospel According to Sir Desmond Stirling Says:

    […] to think of as an epistle to my apostles « Satan’s Claws Are Coming to Town Satan’s Claws Are Coming To Town chapter 3 […]

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