Driving through the middle of nowhere; heading for the arse-end of nowhere, the car swerves slightly as I take a drink from my hip-flask. It probably isn't a great idea to be hurtling along a glorified dirt road at seventy whilst drinking, but since when is anything I do a good idea?
I did marry that bitch, after all. I think to myself while taking another swig.
Pressing my foot down causes the heap of shit I'm driving to lurch as I push it to eighty miles per hour. My anger surges as I remember everything she has taken from me.
"F**kin' whore." I yell as the car hits ninety.
My loving ex-wife took me to the cleaners - literally. The house; the cars; the timeshares - even my side business. All of it. Sold, to satisfy that money-grabbing bunny-boiler.
The rest I can do without but I spent years building up that business - Dust Busters - and although it was only a small business, we had a loyal client list, a great reputation and were making a tidy little profit on the side.
Well, ok, it might have been partially my fault.
"Lets keep the business going and we can split the profits..." I had said, reasonably. "... look, I'll even rename the business in your honour."
I smiled; she smiled back.
"So... you'll rename it Cheryl's Cleaners?" She had asked; pleased with herself that she had reduced me to this.
My brow furrowed and I looked at my best friend - also my divorce solicitor - who had just face-palmed himself as he knew what was coming - then her smug looking solicitor and my eyes came back to rest on her
"No... not exactly... I was thinkin' "Ball Buster"... very apt don't you think?"
In retrospect; the neon grin that I followed with was probably the final nail in the coffin of my marriage.
The business was sold the next day, to some cheapskate multi-national.
Another gulp from the flask and swerve to avoid a sheep or a cow or Christ knows; they all look the same.
Well, after the bitch took everything - including my dignity - my friend found me a new job which comes with a house and car; this is where I am heading now. It has the added bonus of being hundreds of miles away from that leech.
It is beginning to get dark, so I hump it up to 100 and the car begins to rattle and bump - rather alarmingly.
Chuckling, I take another drink as I get a mental image of someone chasing the car trying to staple bits back on. I swerve to avoid another farm animal, then another and then I am forced to slow down as I notice the way is thick with them.
I neck another mouthful of my staple fire-water as I wait for the lumbering meat-sacks to move. Looking in my rear-view I see something flashing frantically. As it gets closer I recognise a quad, with a rather irate looking rider.
I roll down the window and await his arrival.
"Evenin'," I nod to him as he steps off the vehicle and approaches the car.
"What t'e f**k do you think you're doin'?" he storms.
"Yer panickin' ma animals, ya bloomin' fool."
"It's your bloody animals blockin' the road." I yell back.
I've got you on the ropes now ya bastard. "It's illegal to allow your animals to obstruct a public highway. I've a good mind to report you..."
"...Report me? Are you windin' me up? Yo've bin drivin' through ma fookin' fields for the past twenty minutes."
Rolling my eyes here is a mistake as I realise he's right; I'm in the middle of a field.
"Ok, fair point, where's the road?"
"Follow me..." He grumbles as he steps back on the quad and proceeds to lead me back to the road.
Fifteen minutes or so later I'm on the road and passing into the farming community I have come to work in. As I speed through a long, lingering bend of the road I spot the grouping of street lights which marks out my destination.
Within a few minutes I am driving through the village, following the directions given to me and they lead me to a little white cottage at the far end of the village. The first thing I notice is how beautiful the house is; pure white and roughcast with rustic looking slate on the roof and a well-kept colourful garden. The first thing I do after leaving the car is to punch in the code for the key-safe box, then retrieving the house key I make for the front door.
I take a slight detour as I spot my office - nothing more than a small lean-to - at the side of the house. I smile as the word "Police" flickers momentarily before steadying again, then I turn and head back to the front door, letting myself into my new home.
The next morning arrives and I roll out of bed groggily, trying to remember where the hell I am. I look out the window and spotting the fields, I remember the events of the night before and I chuckle as I grab my hip flask, taking a gulp as I head for the bathroom.
The shower hums steadily as I wash and shave, may as well look the part, I think as I scratch away a thick layer of stubble and tap it off the razor. Soon I step out of the shower and wrap a towel round myself as I gaze in the mirror. I smile - happy with the way I look today. I expected bags under my bright blue eyes but despite my whisky habit I haven't developed them, yet.
Walking back to the bedroom I find a spanking new uniform in my wardrobe and lift it out, barely taking in the welcome note pinned to the plastic covering as I tear it open and begin to dress. Another swig of my flask and I realise it is a little light this morning. Needs a refill, I think as I make a mental note to pop to the local shop for more.
I place my hat on my head lastly and walk towards the door as I swill some Listerine around in my mouth, the shit stings like acid but if you want to mask the smell of booze... it's perfect. I step through the doorway and spit the mouthwash into the flower bed at the side watching as the flower wilts.
Stepping into the street I take a deep breath and look around slowly, I can see around 30 houses along the main street - if you can call it that - and there are some more hidden in a few rows behind but the place seems dead as I make my way towards the biggest concentration of houses. The "fresh air" stinks quite frankly and I can't believe I've ended up in this shite hole but at least I'm miles away from that bitch.
The street widens a little and there seems to be a mixture of miner's cottages and slightly more modern-looking family homes. A little gathering of rural shop fronts appear further along and I make a beeline for them to get my refill. Freezing in my tracks, I look around, it really is dead here, why the fuck do they need a local bobby?
Shaking off the eerie feeling the silence is giving me, I walk across the road towards, what looks like the local newsagent and off-licence. A huge shadow darkens the area for a few moments but as I turn and look up at the sky the shadow passes and there is nothing there.
What the fu... I think as I try to dismiss it.
An ancient sounding bell pings as I open the door and step inside the shop.
I duck as the sound echoes around the shop and I can feel the buckshot fly narrowly by my shoulder.
"What in God's name are you doing?" I yell as I wave my hat back and forth.
"Oh Shit, new copper."
"I told you not to shoot at everyone you old fool. He'll probably arrest you now, you know."
"Oh shut up, you whining old bag. I'll jus' apologise and smile at 'im and he'll hafta forgive meh."
"Hello?" I venture again as I hear the voices go quiet.
I tentatively raise my head and try to look over the shoulder height racks without getting bloody shot at again. It seems nothing else is here but I slowly and softly walk towards the counter. Leaning over I see an old woman with a ridiculously large crash helmet on and an old man with a comically small, metal bowl on his and holding a smoking shotgun.
I raise my eyebrow as they finally realise I can see them and they stand up with sheepish looks on their face.
The old man gives a gap toothed smile, "Sorree, boot that kind Sir, we've had a leetle bit a bother 'ere recently."
I look from the stern face of the woman, back to the anxious looking old man. I smile.
"Ok, what kind of bother?" I ask trying to suppress an eye roll.
"Umm..." he looks to his wife and back to me, "...you'll see for yourself soon enough eh lad?"
"Now wait just a moment, you just about blow ma fuckin' heid clean-off and you refuse to tell me why?" I say putting on my coldest face possible.
"... It's no' that ah dinna want t', y' know, I jus' doubt ye'll believe meh, so best ya see for yersel' son."
"Fine!" I snap at him, "I'll have a bottle of Glenmorangie, please."
The old man pulls a bottle down from the shelf and hands it to me, he moves slowly towards the till to ring it up but his wife gives him a nudge and an almost imperceptible shake of the head.
He turns to me, "Ok, son, that's oan us, call it an apology fur no geein ye a proper welcome."
I grin, "Are you sure?"
"Naw," I hear him bitching under his breath but a swift kick from his wife to his shin and he straightens up; an overly stretched grin on his face, "Aye course son, ma pleasure. Welcome to the area ma boy."
I smile and slowly back out of the shop. Still trying to make sense of what the hell it was all about. Popping back home I drop off the bottle, slyly refill my flask and take a cringe-inducing swig from the bottle before placing it in the cupboard.
Retracing my steps I continue on up the street, passing by the shop and looking around, trying to get a feel for the place as I go. Curtains shiver and windows slam shut as I pass and I begin to wonder what the hell is going on here. I was told this was a friendly area to live; lyin' bastard.
I hear a sudden explosion which triggers me into a run and I tear up the street towards the location of the sound. I round the corner to spot a large open area in front and groups of people surrounding what seems to be a fight. Stopping - to catch my breath - I try to figure out the source of the bang but cannot for the life of me work out what it could have been and then, a huge pillar of flames erupts from the midst of the group ahead of me.
Pushing my way through the crowd to get my hands on the fucking pyromaniac trying to torch my new home, I am stunned into immobility as I see the source of the flames. A wizened old woman - doubled over a crooked walking stick - has her hand in the air and the flames are... coming directly from the tips of her wrinkled fingers. I take a swig of my flask and my mouth flaps open in sheer disbelief as my eyes follow the trail of flame up, into the air, straight at a...
"Fucking dragon," I yell articulately.
Unsure of what else to call the large lizard-like, scary-looking bastard, hovering above the group, currently casting a humongous shadow over the entire open area. I wonder just how drunk I am as I take another - larger - gulp of my favourite poison, momentarily forgetting the apparition above me as the liquid burns its way to my stomach.
I feel a blast of air and look up to see the, the thing, swallowing the flames and gracefully flapping its wings in a controlled descent towards the old woman. As it lands next to her I see the monster lower its tooth-filled head and the old woman reaches up and... Scratches its fucking head like a dog. My mind reels at the sight of a terror-inducing dragon affectionately rubbing its head against the outstretched hand. My arsehole clenches as I try to hold back my fear which is really making its presence felt.
Swigging another large gulp out of the flask - I wish I'd brought the fucking bottle now - and just as I think I'm on the brink of having a stroke, a loud growl brings my attention to the other side of the open area. A very young man - a boy really - stands there holding the leash of a huge wolf. This wolf looks to be the size of an elephant with jet-black fur. Its maw lolls open revealing a set of razor-like teeth and the eyes are the only other part of its face visible against the pitch-black fur that decorates its body. The eerie stare focuses on the dragon as another ground-shaking growl begins in its throat.
I move closer as I notice the boy and the woman seem to be exchanging words.
"... you killed my master, ya old hag."
The old woman cackles through her toothless mouth, "Ha, you can't blame me for that, you little shit. If he's dumb enough to try to use good magic to kill me then he deserves what he gets."
What the fu... Magic? I take another drink as I struggle to get a grip on what is going in this village.
"Liar," screams the boy - who I now realise is virtually bald - at the old woman.
"Cretin..." she replies.
"Crone!" he screeches - his voice getting higher.
"Arrogant little tosser," she hoots joyfully.
"Devil's whore!" Higher again.
"Wizard's bum boy."
"Fluffy - kill!" He squeals as he releases the leash and the wolf instantly reacts - fluffy? Really? - bounding its way towards the old woman.
A high pitched, keening whistle comes from the woman and the dragon springs to action, flapping its wings and blasting the wolf backwards in its tracks. The wolf battles hard but is unable to gain any headway against the persistent air-blast from the dragon's wings. The huge lizard majestically settles itself between the old woman and the giant hound; finally the wolf is able to move forward again. It darts towards the dragon and dives for its throat, jaws chomping on the dragon's tough scales.
The dragon looks more pissed than in pain and nonchalantly swats at the wolf's body. The beast's grip holds despite the huge swipes being made by the dragon at its furred body. I take another drink and realise the flask is empty. I spot one of the other spectators knocking back directly from a bottle of Bell's, so I swipe it out of his grip and down some of it.
My hat falls off and lands in front of me as I stumble, shit, I must be drunk, it would explain this colossal hallucination I'm having.
I take another drink from the bottle and simultaneously lean over to pick up my hat - not an easy thing to do when three sheets to the wind - then turn back to the action and I notice the dragon has ripped a nearby tree out of the ground and started to batter the wolf in the ribs with it. The tenacious little sod still holds on though and they continue their dance around the open area.
I sidle over to the crazy old man from the shop and raise an eyebrow at him in question. I want to ask him if this is a collective hallucination but the fear on his face discourages me from voicing that particular query. I look around and the rest of the villagers present seem to be just as terrified as the old man as they all watch what looks like a real life Japanese monster film. These things are not just some dudes in plastic suits attacking cardboard buildings though are they? I wonder.
The two beasts seem evenly matched as they cavort around the space crashing to the ground and rolling around like a beastly parody of a Jackie Chan fight scene. The dragon then somehow shakes off the wolf and throws it throw a nearby stone wall, everyone gasps as they spot the gravestones of the village graveyard before it is swallowed up in the dust of the charging dragon as it looks to finish off its opponent.
Fluffy recovers quickly and lunges at the Dragon's neck only to be swatted away. It rolls over to absorb the impact and in a whirr of dust and smashed gravestones the wolf darts back in on the attack, this time changing direction and sinking its teeth into the dragon's tail. The large lizard roars and tries to blast the wolf with flames from its nose but singes its own tail instead. The wolf prepares to go in for the kill and gets a grip on the struggling dragon's throat again this time tearing through the scales and clamps down while pulling hard, tearing the creature's throat out, a golden coloured liquid draining away as the dragon's eyes dim and then close.
The voice breaks the spell of reverent silence that seems to have fallen with the Dragon's death and I look around for the source of the voice, then realise everyone has turned to look at me.
I step forward, swaying slightly as I walk into the middle of the open ground. Fluffy slinks back like a whipped dog but pants happily as its master scratches behind his ears. The old woman scowls at the balding young boy and then looks at me with what I imagine is her sweetest, most innocent look; my arsehole clenches again.
I take a deep breath as I steel myself to get involved, "... What the fuck is all this about? I come to a new home and find some kind of fucked up Pokémon battle going on, and now look; you arseholes have trashed the graveyard. I hope you're fucking proud of yourselves."
The old woman looks as if she is about to argue but clearly my glare - more a glazed-over glance in her direction - discourages her from opening her trap. I look at the boy who seems to have taken on a somewhat petulant look of disdain as he continues to pet his big bastard of a wolf.
"...Now what the fuck is goin' on here? Well? I'm waiting..." I tap my foot and fold my arms across my chest doing my best to look stern and impatient - not easy when wrecked out your mind.
The old woman glares once again at the boy. She smiles and drools in my direction then her face transforms to a venomous expression in moments and start gesticulating towards the boy. "...He killed Burnie," she screeches.
"... Burnie?" I ask.
Burnie? I suppress a laugh.
"... Arrest the little shit, it's murder," she grumbles on.
"Ok, so you want me to arrest him, for the murder of a mythological beast?" I snort and knock back another few gulps of the whisky bottle. "Even if I were dumb enough to try I'd probably be mauled by Fluffy over there and even if not what in God's name would I put on the paperwork? Charged with - murder of a dragon?"
"Aye son, that's exactly what I'm suggestin'."
"Fuck off!" I reply bluntly.
With that she scowls, flicks a hand and screaming comes from the direction of the boy, I turn to find his head on fire, and I take another drink from the bottle I'm still clutching.
"... You bitch! M' hair was jus' beginning t' grow back after the last time. You'll pay for that."
He raises his hands and mutters a few words, a flash of light and the woman's nose falls off. She tries to reattach it but it falls to the mucky ground again.
"Fuckin' apprentices; no appreciation for the magical art." She utters a few guttural words and more screaming from the boy I roll my eyes theatrically in time to see him dancing from foot-to-foot.
"You weathered old boot that was my only pube."
He lifts his hands and with a few sharp words in some strange tongue - lightning shoots from his finger tips. The hair on the back of my neck stands up as the lightning ripples by me and hits the old woman.
"OoooO," She moans sensually. "...That tickled."
The boys stamps his feet and raises his hands again.
I look around again for the source of this voice that keeps interrupting them, and then realise with a sigh that they're looking expectantly at me - again. I wish I'd stop engaging my mouth without the brain attached.
"Ok, here's how this is going to go: You..." I say pointing to the old woman, "...are going to go home and sit on your arse until I come to speak to you. Where do you live?"
"The castle up on the hill," she grumbles in my direction.
"Go - Now!"
The old witch turns and walks off towards the East and disappears from sight as soon as she reaches the trees. I turn to the boy.
"Ok you petulant little shite. What have you got to say for yourself?" I stand - very unsteadily, fuck it, I'm swaying like the tower of Pisa in a Hurricane - with my hands on my hips and eyebrows raised.
"She killed my master. I am... was an apprentice to the powerful wizard 'MagicDave' but that devil's whore made him try to perform a spell to kill her