Wednesday, 21 September 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Red Weed

EPISODE XVIIIa: UNDER FOOT


In the first half of the amazing and hilarious How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Red Weed, I have wandered so much from my own adventures to regale you with The Saga of Mycroft that all through the last three months of your time, I and the curate have been lurking in the empty house at Halford where we fled to escape the Black Smoke. Shall we continue? Great.

We stopped there all Sunday night and all the next day — the day of the panic — in a little island of daylight, cut off by the Black Smoke from the rest of the world. We could do nothing but wait in an aching inactivity during those two weary days. We played one-hundred and thirty-eight games of Boggle.

I have to admit that I was worried about Enid. I paced the rooms and suplexed the priest whenever I thought of how I was cut off from her, and of all that might happen to her in my absence. I knew my cousin was brave enough for any emergency, but he was not the sort of man to realize danger quickly, dozy fucker that he was. My only consolation was to believe that the Marsians were moving Londonward and away from her. I grew very weary and irritable with the curate's perpetual moaning; I tired of the sight of him and his stupid face. After some ineffectual remonstrance I kept away from him, staying in a room that evidently a children's school-room. When, at last, he followed me thither, I went to a box-room at the top of the house, hoping desperately that he’d get the shitting hint.


We were hopelessly hemmed in by the Black Smoke all that day and the morning of the next. There were signs of people in the next house on Sunday evening — a face at a window, and moving lights, and later the slamming of a door. But, to be fair, that could have been a poltergeist.

A Marsian came across the fields about mid-day, laying the stuff with a jet of superheated steam that hissed against the walls, smashed all the windows it touched, and scalded the curate's hand as he fled out of the front-room. Which was nice. When, at last, we crept across the sodden rooms and looked out again, the country northward was as though a black snowstorm had passed over it. Looking towards the river, we were astonished to see an unaccountable redness mingling with the black of the scorched meadows.

For a time we did not see how this change affected our position, save that we were relieved of our fear of the Black Smoke. But later I perceived that we were no longer hemmed in, that now we might get away. So soon as I realized that the way of escape was open, my dream of getting away from Father Irritating returned. But the curate was lethargic and unreasonable.

"We are safe here." he repeated; "Safe here."

I should have left him then and there. Wiser now for the artilleryman's teaching, I sought out food, drink, firearms and emergency pornography. When it was clear to him that I meant to go alone—had reconciled myself to going alone—he suddenly roused himself to come. And, all being quiet throughout the afternoon, we started about five o'clock, as I should judge, along the blackened road to Sunbury.


In Sunbury, and at intervals along the road, were dead bodies lying in contorted attitudes—horses as well as men—overturned carts and luggage, all covered thickly with black dust. We got to Hampton Court without misadventure, our minds full of strange and unfamiliar appearances, and at Hampton Court our eyes were relieved to find a patch of green that had escaped the suffocating drift. We went through Bushey Park, with its deer going to and fro under the chestnuts, and some men and women hurrying in the distance towards Hampton, and so we came to Twickenham. These were the first people we saw.

Away across the road the woods beyond were still afire. Twickenham was uninjured by either Heat-Ray or Black Smoke, and there were more people about here, though all appeared mildly retarded. For the most part they were. Like Father Irritating.

I have an impression that many of the houses here were still occupied by scared inhabitants, too frightened even for flight. Here, too, the evidence of a hasty rout was abundant along the road. I remember most vividly three smashed bicycles in a heap, pounded into the road by the wheels of subsequent carts. Or larger, angrier bikes. We crossed Richmond Bridge about half-past eight. We hurried across the exposed bridge, of course, but I noticed floating down the stream a number of red masses, some many feet across. I did not know what these were—there was no time for scrutiny — and I put a more horrible interpretation on them than they deserved. Here, again, on the Surrey side, were black dust that had once been smoke, and dead bodies — a heap near the approach to the station; but we caught not a sight of the Marsians until much later.


We saw in the distance a group of three people running down a side street towards the river, but otherwise it seemed deserted. Richmond town was burning briskly; outside the town there was no trace of the Black Smoke.

Then, suddenly, as we approached Kew, came a number of people running, and the upper-works of a Marsian fighting-machine loomed in sight over the house-tops, not a hundred yards away from us. Father Irritating stood aghast at our danger, and had the Marsian looked down we must immediately have perished. We were so terrified that we dared not go on, but turned aside and hid in a shed in a garden. This was, of course a bad move; the curate crouched, weeping silently, and refusing to stir again.

But my idea of reaching Leatherhead would not let me rest, and in the twilight I ventured out again. I went through a shrubbery, and along a passage beside a big house standing in its own grounds, and so emerged upon the road towards Kew. The curate I left in the shed, but he came hurrying after me. Fuck my luck.

That second start was the most foolhardy thing I ever did. For it was manifest the Marsians were about us. No sooner had the curate overtaken me than we saw either the fighting-machine we had seen before or another, far away across the meadows in the direction of Kew Lodge. Four or five little black figures hurried before it across the green-gray of the field, and in a moment it was evident this Marsian pursued them. In three strides he was among them, and they ran radiating from his feet in all directions. He used no Heat-Ray to destroy them, but picked them up one by one. Apparently he tossed them into the great metallic carrier which projected behind him, much as a workman's basket hangs over his shoulder.

It was the first time I realized that the Marsians might have any other purpose than destruction with defeated humanity. We stood for a moment petrified, then turned and fled through a gate behind us into a walled garden, fell into, rather than found, a fortunate ditch, and lay there, scarce daring to whisper to each other until the stars were out.

And he totally kept trying to put his hand in my pocket.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Words: Brad Harmer & H.G. Wells
You can become Brad's "friend" on Facebook, or you can "follow" him on Twitter. Depends how creepy you want to sound really.


SOUTH PARK: SEASON FOURTEEN GIVEAWAY


All twelve, internationally-broadcast episodes from South Park's fourteenth season are packed into this exclusive three-disc set.

Join Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny as they dive into social networking, defend against annoying Jersey "muff cabbage" and finally reveal the secret identity of Mysterion in an epic three-part saga. Top that with some never-before-seen deleted scenes and a little crème fraîche, and you've got a collection that will leave you drooling. Shablagoo!!

Thanks to our friends at Paramount Home Entertainment, we've got two copies of South Park: Season Fourteen to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Wednesday 28th September, making sure to put "South Park" as the subject. The first two entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a copy of this awesome movie!

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Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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