Note: This is a story of mine I wrote a few years ago, and as you can tell, I'm blatantly ripping off the styles of Terry Pratchet and Douglas Adams. Still, though, maybe someone will find enjoyment in it:
A Considerable Tale
This is a story of literary clichés used unexpectedly, of horror, and above all else a search for a bagel. The setting is quite familiar to those of you who have started a story with the words, “It was a dark and stormy night...”
It was a dark and stormy night, up on Considerable Hill…
There was a crash, then a woman swearing and flailing her arms about wildly. A man in common chef’s attire walked through a door and found the woman acting quite flustered and scared, to which he put his hands on his hips and sighed.
“Margaret, what on earth am I to do with you? You’re so jumpy, you can’t concentrate, and you run about doing so many things you’re like a chicken with its head cut off!”
“I’m sorry but thunder always gets me jumpy, and there was this thunder, and then lightning, and then when it flashed I saw a man’s face in the window and he was holding a knife and I dropped the dish and it crashed and, oh I just don’t know what to do!” Margaret rapidly explained to the chef, not even taking a breath throughout the whole thing.
The chef sighed, turned around once as if he was going back out, then turned back around, looked her over, turned around once more, decided to say something, turned around a final time, waved a spoon at her and said, “Why don’t you go out and see what he wants then, eh? Maybe he’d like a nice hot meal and a place to sleep, eh?”
Margaret visibly paled at his suggestion, and while she tried to swallow the lump in her throat she nodded in agreement, too scared to actually say anything. As the chef left, Margaret leaned up against a wall and slumped down, putting her knees up and burying her head in her dress like an Ostrich, although any well brought up Ostrich would admit that she did it in terribly bad form. Thunder roared and lightning struck once again, and the frightened girl jumped straight in the air, although apparently no muscles had actually been used, it happened on sheer willpower. Anyone that could hover using mental powers could tell you that this was nothing to write home about, though.
She fell back to the ground, sighed, then slowly stood up and rubbed dirt off of her dress. Its pale blue color seemed almost depressing to her, now, even though it was supposed to be one of those “happy” colors that boosted company morale! Before she headed out to try and find this mysterious man, Margaret threw on her jacket and nipped into the kitchen to grab the largest knife she could find.
Having found a suitable knife, she put it down to her side and went outside through the backdoor of the Hotel Considerable. Rain danced on the rooftop of the hotel, creating a sound like that of an army marching to war. When she stepped out into the rain, it almost felt as if a very old and weak man was trying to beat her to death. She gave it an “A” for effort but it quite failed at being anything but annoying.
When thunder rolled again, and lightning illuminated the sky once more, Margaret could see a figure sitting on a bench overlooking the cliff that Considerable Hill sat on. She gulped once again, having her throat send out the Riot Police on the protesting lump that lay in it, and slowly walked up to the figure.
As she drew in closer she realized it was a man, and as she was about to lay her hand down on his shoulder, he turned around and asked, “Has anyone ever fallen off this cliff?”
Taken aback she responded, “Why, no, no one has. Don’t know why anyone would do such a daft thing.”
The man smiled toothily, and Margaret thought she saw something gleam from his pants pocket. He went on to say, “Oh, well people sometimes have…accidents. Quite unfortunate, really.”
Margaret, quite aged in cynicism snorted and said, “No, not really. People die all the time. Some people even find it fun.”
The man blinked as if someone just interpreted something quite obvious into something completely absurd, such as turning the statement, “Only go to war if they provoke us” to “Let’s say we show Johnny-Foreigner who’s boss, eh?”
“My dear, I was referring to the grounds misfortune, not the persons. The ground is much older, and much more important than a person. Without the ground we would have nothing to stick our heads in, but a single person? Off with his head!”
Margaret slowly nodded, disturbed and confused. For some reason she decided to walk over to the edge of the cliff to see just how far down it was. She had done his a million times before during broad daylight, without some man who was most likely an insane homicidal maniac. At the moment though, it seemed like a fun thing to do.
That was, until it turned out that the man really was a homicidal maniac killer and shoved the knife he had hidden in his pocket straight through Margaret and shoved her down the cliff. Her scream (accompanied by the maniacal laughter of the man) was drowned out by another rolling of thunder, and in the flash of lightning the man picked up the knife Margaret had dropped before falling to her demise.
He grinned and laughed as he looked over the blade, “What a marvelously stupid girl!”
* * *
“Bzzt…Reports have come in…deranged…iller…let loose…ac asylum..”
The chef smacked the radio which fell to the ground, electronically twitched a bit, and died. He shook his head and sighed, and stood around trying to think of something to do. There were no guests at the Hotel except for some old man who had retired early. No one to feed.
“Bah, blasted radio! Babbling on about some inflamed pillar. Must be some sort of religious thing.”
“I believe it said that there was a deranged killer let loose from some insane asylum.”
“What? Oh, so that’s what ot said? Hah, fancy that. These bloody things never work.”
“’S got something to do with the rain, I think. Cosmological interference or some such.”
The chef nodded knowingly, he knew all about Cosmological interference, “Ah. Well that makes sense.”
His eyes suddenly went from a look of grasping basic knowledge and all knowing enlightenment, to a look of pain such as one gets when they receive The Estimate, except with less pain. Blood trickled down from his stomach and fell on to the floor, imitating a marching order much like that of the rain.
“Oh deary me, it seems that my knife just went and plunged itself right into your back. Let me try and-oop, nope, it just won’t come out! Sorry about that. Well, it’s going to take you a while to die and you’re going to be puking up a lot of blood. Don’t worry though, it will all be fine!”
And with that, the killer slammed the stunned chef’s head into a marble table, causing him to fall into a state of semi-consciousness where he felt pain but couldn’t do anything about it, like stop it. Right now though, he had a greater responsibility than death.
“Don’t touch…the bagels…”
“Sorry, what was that? Didn’t quite catch it through my fits of maniacal laughter.” The killer said, pausing between a fit of maniacal laughter.
“Bagels…” Was all the chef could make out before he lapsed into coughing up blood.
“Bagels you say? I’ve been looking for a good bagel, myself. Searching for one, even. Calms the nerves, it does. Makes me less prone to shove sharp objects into people’s skulls.”
* * *
Michelle liked fire. In fact, she liked it a lot. Whenever she could she would start one, and then bask in its glory. Her parents would obviously stop her from doing such things, but they figured it’s impossible to start a fire in the rain, so they didn’t bother watching her this night.
But after she got bored burning down her house, she decided to set her eyes on an even bigger building. While her parents were rushing back home from a friends house to put out the fire and save the twins, Michelle was walking up the hill to Hotel Considerable, the largest building in town.
She walked inside its big doors and looked around. It was really very dark, and much more quiet than usual. Except for the wailings of a dying man, floorboards creaking, and the odd maniacal laugh every now and then. But that Was To Be Expected, because it was a dark and stormy night. She decided to start some fires to brighten the place up.
As she set to her work, a man came down the stairs, mumbling about how unfair it was that the old man was dead before he got to him. The front door was suddenly closed (closed to the point it would not be able to be opened), and Michelle jumped. She noticed the man, and the man noticed the fire.
“Um…It was just really dark and I wanted to see…” Michelle mumbled out an explanation for her work.
The killer grinned, the kind of grin you want to be very far away from, “How much do you like fire, little girl?”
Michelle beamed and answered back, “Oh lots mister, lots!”
“Good. Stay there and I shall show you an even better way to enjoy the fire.”
Michelle shrugged, wondering what secret this man possessed. He searched around the room for a bit of rope, and then finding it ordered her to sit in a chair. Having done so, he tied her to the chair and place her near the fire which was now having a roaring good time.
At first she enjoyed the heat warming her body, but then it became intense and started searing her flesh. She started screaming at the deranged killer but he was already trying to open the front door.
“Strange…the thing won’t…budge…!”
He walked over to the door to the kitchen, taking a bite out of a bagel on his stroll over. Trying to open the door, however, was met with much resistance.
“I told you…don’t touch the bagel…”
“What? Oh come on! How could I not? Anyway, let me through before I burn to death.”
“I don’t care whether you live or die…you certainly don’t care about me.”
“Well it’s not so much that I don’t care so much as that I…don’t care. Now let me through.” The killer’s pleadings became more anxious as the flame grew, and the girl’s screams became blood curdling.
“Sorry, but I’m about to die and I really can’t move all this stuff again…Here it comes…death…the end…Ah…Am I dead yet? No? Ah, right…Now? Alright, guess not. Here it comes, this time I can feel it. It feels like I’m being picked up apart…Oh never mind, just the rats.” The chef’s monologue went on like this for some time.
Thunder rolled and lightning crashed once more. The killer sighed, then sat in a corner to Think About What He’s Done. He got a lot of time to think. By the time the townspeople got there, there was no one left to save except for some batty old man who was dreaming he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man.
The mayor of the town sighed, he was quite sick of dark and stormy nights. The thunder rolled and the lightning crashed for the last time that night.