Misery & Tourettes
By Sofia Mella
Tanja Jade, aka Misery, exhibited new works at Webb’s gallery recently with the literary help of Tourettes, poet, writer and newest contributor to The Tattooed Heart. Miles of fans and friends received Holy Melancholy and the Night that Saved the Day on a wintry night in August. The artist wore black and her works were accompanied by a dark fairy tale composed by her collaborator.
Instead of raving on about the twisted imagination of Misery, and re-hashing all the old dialogue regarding her work (how cute but spooky, innocent but dark, blah blah blah), we thought you might fancy a read. So here it is, in it’s entirety –
Holly Melancholy and the Night That Saved the Day
Once upon a time, a long time ago, well not that long I guess, maybe around the time your great grandparents had their first dance, the world was a very different place. Of course there are the things you read about in books; there were no cars, everyone wore funny clothes and people got excited about the strangest things like war and brussel sprouts. But there are other details, that for one reason or another historians decided to omit from their journals. Did you know, for instance, that the common daisy is descended from a blood sucking vampire flower? Or that deer and foxes were once one animal, constantly arguing whether to eat grass or rabbits? Or how a young girl named Holly Melancholy saved the world from the evil sun, Ezekiel, and her flame ladies.
Holly Melancholy was the youngest of four girls, which was either considered very good or very bad luck depending on whom you asked. There were three things that most people noticed upon meeting Holly: she could eat an entire Wildebeast in one sitting, she could whistle any song she heard backwards, and she always had a single tear hanging from her right eye. Unfortunately, despite her numerous talents, Holly was very poor and had to live in a somewhat bad neighborhood. There were no criminals or vicious dogs; it wasn’t that kind of neighborhood. No, the reason why Toefish Heights was considered undesirable was that nearly every house was haunted and there were an awful lot of dragons living in the area.
Holly lived in one such haunted house at the end of Caterpillar Drive with her sisters Betty, Beatrix and Bert. I don’t want to imply for a second that her sisters were of the evil kind which populate many sensationalist fairytales. They simply were, as is increasingly common, very lazy and as a result missed out on the small details that make life shimmer a little. They would spend almost every waking hour in bed reading tales of romance and adventure in far off lands, and feasting on lamingtons and apple strudel.
Unlike Holly, Betty, Beatrix and Bert couldn’t see ghosts, which is a shame as there was one of the most charming members of the undead living under their very roof. Julius was Holly Melancholy’s best friend and the fact that he was dead didn’t bother her one bit. Quite the contrary, Julius’s ability to walk through walls and remove his head at will rivaled her own party tricks and kept them both entertained for hours on end. Even though Betty, Beatrix and Bert couldn’t see Julius and the other apparitions that stopped by for apple and cinnamon tea, they could hear them, because as I’m sure you're aware the dead are not the most graceful of creatures.
“What’s that noise?” Betty would call downstairs.
“Yes Holly, what is all that racket?!” Beatrix would sing out.
“For the love of God, shut up!” Bert, who was, how shall I put this, a little rough round the edges, would bellow at the top of her lungs.
“It’s just my friends. They’ve come over for tea” Holly Melancholy would call back.
As is often the case with these kinds of events, it was a Tuesday when Holly’s adventures began. It had been an unseasonably hot summer and as the days progressed the nights seemed to grow shorter, until it was not uncommon to fall asleep and awake in broad daylight. The Tuesday in question Holly had awoken at what seemed like an early hour, although it was hard to judge, as she was too poor to afford a clock and the sundials were saying all sorts of strange nonsense that summer. There was a commotion coming from downstairs and after brushing the dried dreams from her bedspread, Holly walked down to investigate.
When she reached the kitchen she was surprised to see every ghost on Caterpillar Drive assembled round the old wooden dining table. There was Fifi, Hector, Giblet, Porgy, Tulip and Racehorse, and no one had touched the tea Julius had prepared for them. Holly pulled out a seat and sat at the head of the table. “Is anything the matter?” she asked sipping at a cup of slightly cold tea. Fifi looked at Hector who turned to Giblet who shot a glance at Porgy who shoved Tulip who, after looking at Racehorse, decided to speak up.
“Something very strange is going on” Tulip said. “There’s been no night whatsoever for weeks now.” Everyone nodded in agreement except for Racehorse who was busy chewing on the tablecloth. “None of us have been able to go haunting for weeks and it’s starting to take its toll.” As if to emphasize this point Porgy coughed loudly.
“Fifi overheard the woodsman who lives in the mountains talking to Mr Beazley the butcher,” Tulip said in a voice that sounded like a dozen old ladies sneezing at once. “He was saying that the sun, Ezekiel, has been sending her flame ladies out to capture all the tree people so she can burn stronger, and never have to set behind the mountains again.” Holly Melancholy listened with a serious look on her face. “And if we don’t get to go haunting soon we’ll disappear into the morning mist and float aimlessly forever.” When Tulip had finished her speech everyone, even Racehorse, stared at Holly intently holding their breath (it should be noted here that ghosts can hold their breath for an awful long time).
“Well it seems the only thing to do would be to go visit the woodsman, and see what the devil’s going on” Holly said and everyone, even Racehorse, let out a cheer that brought a torrent of abuse from Bert crashing down the staircase.
Wasting no time Holly Melancholy packed three tomato and cheese sandwiches, a little Wildebeest jerky and a thermos into her gingham swag bag. Then placing her favourite top hat on her head she waved goodbye to the collection of spirits that stood on her doorstep, and she and Julius set out towards the mountains that rose high into the clouds on the horizon. They walked through the woods, under the sleepy gaze of owls and bats waiting impatiently for night.
Holly’s mood darkened the closer they came to the mountains. She had never liked the woodsman and hated having to ask him for help. Some days she would put sheep’s wool in her ears and sing Mongolian folksongs backwards to block out the screaming from the tree people, as the woodsman’s axe cut into them. The trees began to thin and soon the two friends found themselves at the base of the mountain. Looking up they could see the woodsman’s house, hanging precariously out from the side of the rocky slope.
“It’s a long way up,” she said to Julius who was increasing looking worse for wear. “Perhaps we should get Quincy to help,” Holly said patting her swag bag.
“Oh no, already? Can’t we wait a wee while before we wake him?” Julius whined.
“Very well,” said Holly And with that both Holly and Julius sighed theatrically and started up the rocky path.
The rickety old house was extremely dirty and smelled strongly of onions and pug dog farts. The woodsman stood in the kitchen next to a rabbit roasting on a spit. Every so often he would turn a little handle and the small carcass would rotate. Holly and Julius sat at a wooden table covered in dirty plates and chubby spiders that waddled back and forth amongst the mess. Holly swallowed her pride, which tasted acidic - like when you accidentally eat ants, and told the woodsman about the ghosts and asked what he knew. He turned the rabbit again which was now starting to go black, and spat into the fire creating a loud hiss that made Julius shudder.
“I’d noticed that the forest around the mountain had been growing smaller lately, but I didn’t think much of it.” His voice was like gravel being shaken in a tin can. “But it got to the point where there was obviously something amiss.”
“The forest didn’t look any different on our journey here,” Holly Melancholy said.
“Look at this,” the woodsman said, and led the two friends to a window at the far end of the house. The view from the window made Holly gasp. The forest on the east side of the mountain had been transformed into a desert of ash that stretched all the way to the Frog’s Water swamplands. “I was out hunting a few days back when I bumped into a group of gypsy ladies on the outskirts of the swamp,” the woodsman said, pointing at the green marsh just visible on the horizon. “They told me that Ezekiel has gone mad with power and that unless someone finds a way to stop her we’re all doomed.”
“He was quite a dramatic fellow,” Julius remarked, as they trudged across the wasteland towards Frog’s Water.
“I concur,” Holly Melancholy replied, fanning herself with her spider web fan. The sea of ash that stretched out before them reminded the two unlikely heroes of the night neither of them had seen for weeks. Above them rainbows wept tears of crimson blood and Julius had turned even more white than usual. Holly made a bad joke about suntans that fell rather flat because, as you can probably gather from her name, jokes were never Holly’s strong point.
Frog’s Water was the kind of place that had Julius himself not been a ghost, he probably would have been rather scared of bumping into one. There were thin twisted trees that looked like claws reaching out of the ground, and a thick mist hung in the air like fresh dreams, making it impossible to see more than a few feet ahead. In no time at all, Holly Melancholy had to concede that they were well and truly lost. “I think we’ve been here before,” she said to Julius. “I recognize that tree.” Julius thought that all the trees looked exactly the same but decided to keep it to himself so as not to further lower moral. “I think it’s time for lunch” Holly declared. Reaching into her swag bag she pulled out a blanket and three sandwiches. Julius contented himself with a cup of tea leaving all the sandwiches for Holly who, despite her small stature had quite the appetite.
About halfway through her third sandwich, Holly heard a voice from behind a nearby bush. “Did you hear that Julius?” she asked. But Julius, who was timid by nature, had already hidden behind a tree.
“It’s probably nothing,” he whispered.
“I don’t want to eat any more damn grass!” the bush said, loudly.
“Oh, and I suppose rabbit’s better then?! You know I don’t have the stomach for that kind of food.” another voice said. This one sounding slightly more posh. “I’ve had nothing but bloomin’ grass and leaves for two days now.”
Holly Melancholy got up to investigate. “Oh dear!” whispered Julius, from his hiding place. When Holly Melancholy reached the bush she realized that it wasn’t the plant that was talking but a strange looking creature that was half fox and half deer. Holly stood and watched while the animal argued with itself.
“Don’t make me poke you with my antlers again Ted, because you know I’ll do it!”
“Well, I’ll bite your legs again Rupert and we’ll see how you like that, eh?” And with that the creature started attacking itself, each bite or jab obviously hurting the attacker as much as the victim. Holly stepped out from behind the bushes and cleared her throat. The creature stopped mid attack and leapt to its feet quickly composing itself. “Hello there,” the deer said, stepping forward and pulling the fox off balance. “My name’s Rupert.”
“I’m Holly Melancholy. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
The fox had come alongside Rupert and was smiling manically, obviously waiting for an introduction. Rupert sighed. “And this is Ted,” he said, begrudgingly.
“Hello,” Ted said. “What are you doing here? You don’t look like you live in this watery hell hole.”
“Ted! That’s no way to talk about our home.”
“Oh, but its true, Rupert. This place is horrible. It’s wet and cold and smells like mackerel that’s been left in the sun for a week.”
Rupert smiled, obviously embarrassed “Pay no attention to my Canidae friend. Frog’s Water is a lovely place to live.”
Holly forced a smile. “I’m actually on a quest,” she said, feeling very fancy using the word 'quest' in a conversation. “I’m looking for the gypsy ladies who live in Frog’s Water.”
“Never heard of them,” Ted said.
“Ted, you awful liar!” Rupert exclaimed. “If we take her to the camp then there’s absolutely no chance of catching any rabbits,” he said, in a loud whisper that Holly could easily hear.
“Ignore him,” Rupert said. “Their camp’s not far from here.” And he set off into the swamp. Ted started pulling in the opposite direction and the creature began having a tug of war with itself.
“Ummm, I have some Wildebeest jerky if that helps,” Holly Melancholy said, growing tired of their bickering. Ted stopped pulling and thought the offer over.
“Ok, then,” he said. “As long as it’s not more grass for dinner.” Holly Melancholy ran back to where Julius was hiding.
“It’s, ok," she said, “they’re quite harmless.” She packed up her picnic and led Julius to where Rupert and Ted were waiting. As they walked along Holly discussed the situation of Ezekiel and the night with Rupert while Ted talked to Julius.
“I mean, I wouldn’t mind so much but it’s not even nice grass. It’s swamp grass, and it’s so coarse.” After half an hour they reached a small clearing where six large women sat in a circle around a small fire. They all looked up in unison when the small group entered the camp.
“Ahhh! You’re here,” the women all said, at the same time. “Sit down.” Holly and Julius exchanged puzzled glances and shuffled over to the fire.
“Don’t worry, you get used to the talking thing,” Ted whispered to Julius, once again a little too loudly.
“Would you like some tea, Julius?” the women asked. “Yes please,” a thirsty Julius replied. One woman stood up and filled a cup with tea from a cauldron and then the tea was passed from person to person until it reached Julius.
“Thank you,” he said, sipping at the strong smelling brew. “So, Holly Melancholy, you have something you want to ask us?” “Yes, I mean, how do you know our names?” The women laughed in a kind way that made Holly forget for a moment that she was very far from home.
“We can remember the future the same way you remember what you had for dinner last night.” Even to Holly, who was particularly open minded, this made little sense, but remembering that time was of the essence she decided to get to the point.
“The woodsman, who lives in the mountains, told us you knew why the sun has been refusing to set”.
“Yes. Ezekiel has lost her mind it seems. Do you know about the war between night and day?” Both Holly and Julius shook their heads. “The sun and night have fought the same battle everyday for all eternity. Every night the sun hides behind the mountains in the west to lick her wounds. In the morning she comes back and forces the night into the oceans of the east. But now Ezekiel has grown tired of losing and she has sent her flame ladies out to kill the tree people and bring their corpses back for her to feed on so that she can grow stronger. The night now refuses to rise out of the ocean and do battle with power-mad Ezekiel so she grows stronger unimpeded. If this continues soon the oceans will evaporate and the night will die along with the rest of the world.”
Everyone sat quietly after this for a few minutes and listened to the fire chatter to itself. Finally Holly spoke up. “Is there anything we can do to stop this?”
“No,” all the women said, in unison. “The night refuses to leave his home at the bottom of the ocean. Every day he doesn’t rise he grows weaker.”
“Well there is one thing you could do,” one of the gypsy women said by herself. The others all shot her an angry glance.
“You know how difficult it is to all speak at the same time like that!?” another one said. “And you just totally ruined the effect.”
“I’m going to go get some more water,” said another and got up and walked off.
“Well, what about the witch doctor? She has a way to get the night to rise, we’ve all seen it,” the first one said. “But you can’t send her there she’ll never return!”
“I’m willing to go,” Holly said, ignoring the pleading look on Julius’s face.
“The witch doctor lives at the end of Frog’s Water amongst a garden of carnivorous plants. She feeds them on the hearts of children and collects their heads as trophies.”
Holly Melancholy took a deep breath to push down the fear in her stomach. “But we’ve seen there is a chance she can help,” the woman continued. Holly gave Julius a pat on the back who, by this stage, had his head in his hands.
“You don’t have to come,” she said to him. “You can wait here and I’ll get you on the way home.”
“Ruperted can show you the way,” the gypsy women said.
“Are you sure you’ll be alright with out me?” Julius asked doing a poor job of masking his relief.
“I’m sure I’ll be fine, and besides I can always wake up Quincy if things get out of control.” And with that Holly Melancholy once again set out beneath the watchful gaze of Ezekiel who was now so bright that her rays sliced though the mist.
“You know what’s better than rabbit?” Ted asked excitedly. Neither Holly nor Rupert replied. “Cow! Ohh, I love steak.”
“When have you ever eaten a cow?” Rupert snapped
“Lots of times” said Ted looking at the ground. “You weren’t there.”
“What do you mean I wasn’t there? I’ve been cursed with being everywhere you go since the day I was born, and I know for a fact that you’ve never even so much as licked a steak.”
“Oh, please, Ted! You’re scared of anything bigger than a hedgehog. Remember that time that sheep gave you a funny look and you couldn’t sleep for two nights?”
“He had nasty eyes.”
“Well, cows are a lot bigger than sheep, and I…”
Rupert was cut short by Holly, who raised her hand and looked around with a very serious look on her face. “Did you hear something?” she asked quietly.
“Perhaps it’s a cow, Ted,” Rupert mocked.
“Shut up, Rupert.” And with that they pushed on through the swamp, in silence. After walking for around half an hour (although if asked Ted would have said it was at least two) the swamp began to turn into mangroves, and Holly could make out the sea in the distance whispering the tales of a million drowned souls. She felt something tugging at the hem of her dress and looked down to see a sickly flower about the size of a dinner plate biting onto her dress. “Get out of it,” she snapped and gave it a sharp whack with her fan. Looking round Holly saw that they had walked into the middle of a garden and were now surrounded by dozens of big sickly daisies snapping at them lethargically.
“There was a time when they would have taken your head clean off, little girl,” a voice said, from behind them. The voice was like all the mean school teachers in the world rolled into one and it made the three of them (even Ruperted, who had never been to school) stand up straight and feel a touch guilty. They turned around and saw a tall thin women dressed in black with a bright red face.
“That’s the witch doctor,” Ted whispered, loudly. Rupert rolled his eyes and sighed.
“That’s right. I’m the witch doctor, although you may call me Lucinda Tomate Cereza And you’re Holly Melancholy, the one everyone’s been talking about.
Holly stepped forward and craned her neck to look up at Lucinda. “Everybody?” she asked.
“Oh, yes, you’ve really got people talking. The Sea was just saying this morning that he gave you one hundred to one odds. And of course old Ezekiel wont stop cursing your name,” she said, looking up at the sky which was now a raging furnace.
“So, you know why I’ve come then?” Holly asked, not wanting to look up as it had become apparent that Ezekiel was watching her intently.
“Yes, yes, you want help getting the night back to where he belongs,” Ms Tomate Cereza said, tiredly.
“So you’ll help?” Holly asked, scrunching up her feet and crossing her fingers.
“You see this?” the witch doctor pointed at her garden. “This is my pride and joy. I don’t care if every ghost on this planet turns to mist. In fact, the sooner the better. But if there isn’t some break from this constant sunlight my precious plants are going to shrivel up and die.” Lucinda leant down and patted the flower that Holly had hit on the head. “So yes, I’ll help you, but I’d say The Seas odds of one hundred to one are a little too generous in your favour.”
Lucinda Tomate Creza the witch doctor lived in a large tree house that sat atop the tallest mangroves, Holly Melancholy had ever seen. When she stepped inside, she let out a gasp that seemed to please the witch doctor no end. A cruel smile opened up across her face. All along the walls were the mounted heads of dozens of children. Their glass eyes followed Holly as she walked slowly to where the witch doctor was standing. She pulled a large wooden bowl out from under a bench that was covered in dried leaves and small jars filled with dead insects. Holly felt a little sick and wished that Ruperted were with her. The witchdoctor had insisted that Ruperted stay down below. “I don’t allow animals in my house,” she said sternly. “Not live ones anyway.” And that was that.
The witch doctor opened a jar filled with a murky looking liquid. There was a little hand written label on the side that said, ‘Weevil’s Tears.’ The witch doctor poured some into the bowl. She then took another jar filled with what looked like ash. “What’s that?” Holly asked, her curiosity getting the better of her fear.
“This is the dried nightmares of orphans,” she said, sprinkling some into the bowl. She, then, added some leaves and an insect Holly had never seen before that was round and had hundreds of little legs around the entire circumference of its body. Lucinda then picked up a large stick and began mashing all the ingredients together while chanting in a low voice. The children’s heads all began to chant along, their glass eyes fixed on Holly. When she was finished she poured the contents of the bowl, which looked like black bean soup, into a small bottle.
“Listen carefully: whatever you do don’t lose this, that was the last turtle beetle in the world.” She placed the bottle softly into Holly’s hands. “You must get the night to drink this and it will give him the strength he needs to do battle with Ezekiel.” One of the children’s heads coughed and Lucinda shot it an evil look that made Holly shiver. “The night lives in a sunken pirate ship a few miles off the coast. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you come to a mast sticking out of the water. How you’re going to convince him to drink it is your problem.” Then she turned and walked out of the room. Holly, who had attended the Toefish Finishing School for Lovely Little Ladies for two weeks before being asked to leave, waited politely to see if her host was going to return. When it became clear she wasn’t, Holly climbed down the tallest mangroves she had ever seen and explained the situation to Ruperted.
”How on earth are you going to get to the ship?” Rupert asked while Ted hungrily sniffed the bottle in Holly’s hand.
“I think its time to wake up Quincy” she said undoing her swag bag. Reaching inside she felt around and then with great effort pulled out a golden alpaca. The alpaca yawned loudly and spat on the ground.
“You know it stinks in there?” he said before he noticed Ruperted and began shrieking with laughter. “Who's he ‘sposed to be?”
“Quincy, don’t start” Holly groaned, but the alpaca ignored her. “And where’s old girl face?”
“Who?” Holly asked.
“You know, Nancy pants, fluffy bum, that ghost that follows you round like a bad smell.”
“Julius is sick.”
“Scared more like it.”
“Do you want to go back in the bag?”
“Do you want to go back in the bag?” Quincy mimicked. He hoicked and spat on the ground again. “Well I presume since you woke me up and took me out of that foul smelling bag of yours you want me to fly you somewhere?” Holly told Quincy about The Sun and the ghosts and the witch doctor and the pirate ship. When she had finished Quincy was quiet for a moment as he thought things over. “So in effect you’re asking me to save Princess and his mates?”
“If Ezekiel isn’t stopped we’ll all be doomed” Holly said, enjoying getting to be so dramatic. Even Quincy had to agree that the world ending might be best avoided if possible, and so Holly climbed onto his back.
“Good bye Ruperted! I’ll meet you back at the camp.” Holly Melancholy said.
“Good bye” Rupert and Ted said at exactly the same time. And with that, Quincy did a little hop, skip and a jump and took off into the sky. Holly clung tightly to Quincy’s neck as they sped through the air. Below them the sun reflected off the ocean, making the water look like a shiny white dessert. Holly was very sleepy, and she felt her eyelids grow heavy as her thoughts became runny as egg yolks. She was just about to fall into a much deserved sleep when Quincy took a sharp turn, jerking her awake. “What’s going on?” Holly asked
“Look up” said Quincy, in the solemn tone he adopted whenever there was trouble. Holly peered into the bright blue sky, and bearing down on them were three of Ezekiel’s flame ladies.
“Oh dear!” she said to herself.
“Forget this ‘oh dear’ rubbish. Get out your bow and arrow and we’ll give them what for.”
Without waiting for a reply Quincy did a u-turn and headed straight towards the on-coming flame ladies. “Get lost!” he yelled, spitting and kicking his legs out in front of him. Holly fumbled with her bow and arrow, and managed to let off a couple of shots as they flew past their attackers. One arrow hit the first flame lady in the chest, sending her screaming into the sea below. She hit the water with a loud hiss, turned into steam and floated back up towards The Sun. The two remaining flame ladies spun around and headed back towards the hero of our story. Holly once again leveled her bow and aimed at the glowing heart in the centre of the second flame lady's chest. The arrow hit its mark sending the burning adversary into the watery depths below. The third flame lady, after seeing what had befallen her companions, decided to take flight.
“Come back here you coward!” cried Quincy, giving chase.
“Stop Quincy. Let her go.”
“Oh come on, let’s finish her off.”
“Look! I think I can see the mast” Holly said pointing to something sticking out of the water in the distance. As they grew closer they saw that it was indeed a mast, complete with a crow’s nest and a flag displaying a skull and cross bones.
“That’s the mast of a pirate ship if ever I saw one” Quincy said bringing them closer to the water. Holly tied her swag bag around Quincy’s neck.
“Asparagus” she cried and leapt off the golden alpaca’s back and was swallowed by the dark waters below. Down she swam, past blowfish with eyes that shone like torches, past starfish and moonfish, past jellyfish with fruit salad in their bellies, past a large school of fish all loudly reciting their nine times tables. When she reached the pirate ship she took out a match, lit it and peered into the gloom. “Hello? Mr Night?” She called into the darkness, but there was no reply. Holly swam into the ship through a hole.
Once inside she found herself in what appeared to be the dining room. There was a long table set for a feast at which skeletons dressed as pirates were seated, waiting for their supper. They all turned and looked at Holly expectantly as she swam past, only to become dejected when they realized she wasn’t bearing food. She swam down a long corridor that was lined with the paintings of different pirate captains, each looking more blood thirsty and hungry for treasure than the next. At the end of the corridor was a big wooden door that was slightly ajar. Holly poked her head in. “Mr. Night, are you in here?” again there was no reply. Holly pulled open the door and slipped inside.
There were chests filled with gold and swords and treasure maps everywhere. In the roof of the cabin was a large hole, through it Holly saw Ezekiel peering down at her through the murky water. Perhaps the witch doctor was tricking me, she thought, The Night doesn’t seem to be anywhere on this ship. Then, like awakening from an afternoon nap, it slowly dawned on Holly that The Night was on the ship. In fact, he was all around her. “Hello Mr Night” she said.
“Hey,” The Night looked terrible. There were bags under his eyes and his breath stunk like rotten apples. He coughed and took a swig from a bottle of apple cider. “God my head hurts” he groaned.
“I think I might be able to help you” Holly said.
The Night shook his head. “Help me? I don’t need any help. Do you know who I am?”
“Yes. You’re The Night. And because you refuse to leave this pirate ship you’re making everyone very unhappy.”
“Why should I leave?” he grumbled “every time I go up there that nut case Ezekiel comes along and wants to fight me.”
“But if you don’t come up soon everyone will die”
“Good. No one appreciates me anyway. Everyone’s always saying ‘don’t go out at night it’s dangerous’ or ‘I’m so scared it’s dark outside.’ Well now they can go outside all day, everyday to their heart’s content.”
“But lots of good things happen at night” Holly said. “That’s when people have dinner, the best meal of the day. It’s when people like to dance and sing, it’s when people are most likely to hug one another (it should be noted that although Holly loved dinner and was partial to a bit of singing and dancing, she was never that fond of hugs, but she knew that The Night, like most beings, was a sucker for a little affection). Night is when people paint pictures and write fairytales. Night is when the sick dream of happiness and dogs and ghosts have adventures.”
The Night took another swig of cider and thought it over. “I don’t know” he grumbled. “Even if I wanted to go back out there I’m too sick, Ezekiel will eat me alive”.
Holly pulled the bottle of black liquid out of her pocket. “If you take this you’ll be stronger than ever before, and Ezekiel and her minions will be no match for you.” The Night took the bottle and turned it over in hands. Holly scrunched up her toes and crossed her fingers.
“But it’s so nice and dark down here” he pulled the cap off the bottle and gave it a sniff. “It doesn’t smell very tasty.”
“Please Mr. Night” she said. “Everyone’s depending on you.” The Night seemed taken aback by this, as is often the case with grumpy pants people, he had always felt a little unloved.
“Really?” he said, trying to hide the big smile that was spreading over his vast face. With that he opened his mouth and swallowed the black contents down in one gulp. “That was disgusting” he said. “Truly revolting.” Then The Night began to grow darker and darker until Holly couldn’t see a thing.
“Mr. Night?” she said in a shaky voice. Suddenly she felt herself rising up out of the ship. “Hold on” the Night cried and both he and Holly flew up towards the surface of the ocean. The Night burst out of the water leaving Holly floating on the sea. He flew up into the sky with a clap of thunder so loud that Holly’s ears were still ringing a full two weeks later.
“Over here” Quincy yelled from the crow’s nest. Holly climbed up and from their elevated position they had a great view of the battle between The Night and crazy old Ezekiel. There was lightning and thunder and rain. At first The Sun was coming out on top but The Night soon overpowered her, and just when it looked like it was going to be all over before it began, the Sun kicked the Night in the unmentionables and reclaimed the upper hand. It wasn’t long though before The Night came back and sent The Sun flying off into the mountains of the west.
“Well that was easy” said Quincy.
Holly, who was far too tired to argue, climbed on his back. “Let’s go home” she said “and don’t forget Julius.”
“Who could forget old Lady Paws? How could I possibly overlook little Flossy?...” but Holly missed all of Quincy’s wonderfully witty insults because she was already fast asleep. Had she been awake she would have seen the witchdoctor out amongst her plants, feeding them something we won’t mention here in case of upsetting the reader’s stomach. The plants snapped up at Quincy who spat down on them.
“You think I’m scared of some overrated dandelions?!” he yelled.
Had she been awake she would have seen the witchdoctor’s rejoicing and Rupert eating grass while Ted hid from Quincy.
“Oh it’s you” said Julius.
“Get on Mincey” the alpaca replied.
Had she been awake she would have seen the rainbows no longer crying tears of crimson blood. She would have looked down on dozens of tree people walking onto the desert of ash and planting their roots down into the rich soil. She would have frowned when she caught a glimpse of the woodsman sharpening his axe. And she wouldn’t have missed all the owls and bats stretching their wings and giggling like fat babies at feeding time, as they launched into the night sky. But by the time she woke up Holly was home again outside the front door of Caterpillar Drive and all she saw was Julius beaming from ear to ear.
“We did it” she said sleepily as they walked up to the front door.
“Yes. I suppose we did” Julius replied.
“Oh, and pray tell exactly what did you do Juliet? Distract the enemy with your knocking knees?” Quincy inquired mockingly.
“You were asleep for two thirds of the adventure!” Julius snapped back as they walked up the stairs to Holly’s bedroom.
“And you were scared for the whole time. God I crack me up. Did you hear that Holly?” But Holly was once again fast asleep and that night while she dreamed of vicious daisies and hungry pirates and headless children dancing round a bonfire, all the ghosts in Toefish Heights set out for the haunting of their lives. They slammed doors and threw plates around and generally had a great time. And after two days when Ezekiel finally plucked up the courage to show her face, she was a shadow of her former self (excuse the pun, Julius thought of it and said it would add a touch of class to the story).
The next day all the ghosts came over with gifts for Holly. Fifi brought a box of tea, Hector brought a glass eye he’d stolen from Mr Beasley the butcher, Giblet had a bunch of wilted flowers, Porgy and Tulip both brought Wildebeast soup and Racehorse, well he brought something very silly that I won't repeat for fear of ruining the festive atmosphere. And everyone drank tea and told stories and lived happily ever after. Well until the terrible incident at the wedding of Cecil and Carlotta, that is.