The little clown’s doleful eyes were locked on his own, warm and unwavering, as he held up the shiny red apple. Peter thought it looked the same as the clown’s nose, and smiled.
“After you choose” said the clown who stood next to the other, a squirming puppy in his hands “we’ll all magically leave this surgical ward and go on a wonderful adventure together!”
“Yeah Peter, which is it? The dog or the apple?” chimed the other clowns who stood behind the first two.
Peter frowned, then grinned.
“Good choice Peter!” exclaimed the clown who held the puppy as he placed it on Peter’s lap, holding it gently on the duvet until Peter leaned forward and grasped it.
The clowns cheered and clapped their hands. Peter picked up the puppy and brought it up to his chest, beaming at all his friends.
The puppy screamed as Peter hunched over it and bit deeply into its flank.
“What is it?”
“What does it look like? It’s a cat’s ear, on a stick.”
“Why’s there a cat ear on a stick?”
“How the fuck should I know? Maybe it tastes nice, maybe it’s for cleaning your tongue. Maybe it’s a fucking tongue brush.”
“Why would I want to clean my tongue with a cat’s ear?”
“Well I don’t fucking know, use your imagination!”
“It wouldn’t be very good for cleaning my tongue.”
“Well it wouldn’t would it? S’all soft ‘an that.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“The cat’s ear. I mean, it’s soft innit?”
I love days like this.
The sun gleams in a cerulean sky, and the sweet earthy smell of petrichor fills the crisp autumn air. Birds hop about the branches, trilling and warbling, and I feel leaves crunching and squishing underfoot.
I’m so glad the demented squire returned me to the forest, for the Baron and he had kept me chained in the courtyard, starving and beating me. Don’t know why I’m here, or if I’m truly free, but I’m making the most of it.
Wait, that smell…
At last I’ll have revenge!
I’ll tear the beasts apart!
Soon my plan is complete; soon my Baron is bear meat!
Mine shall be his brother’s riches, for his wife is already my mistress.
Fiddle de-de, I will be free! Baron’s riches and bitches belong to me!
Oh yes my Baron, I trained Biter the bear; he’s prowling about in the woods over there.
I trained him good, gave him food – trained him to kill folks like I said I would.
First the young lord, then Baron dies; Biter the bear shall flay them alive!
My Baron laughs, soon he’ll scream; here comes Biter to rip out his spleen!
That’s it, go deeper into the woods there my dear nephew. Sit up straight in your saddle like I told you, show no fear. Ah, your lord father would be so proud of you!
You’ll be joining him soon, then I’ll take what’s rightfully mine you bastard whelp of a merchant’s daughter. Why did my brother marry her instead of nobility?
Bah, sentimental nonsense!
It’ll be over soon. My demented squire saw to the beast, the tracker has been bribed to keep his mouth shut. Soon it’ll all be mine!
Ah ha, here comes the beast!
Young lord, sat on his palfrey with his fancy clothes, never hunted anything bigger than foxes, probably had his lord father’s bloodhounds doing the killing.
I would’ve found the beast by now, set up traps for it. There’s no use charging it head on, I told them, be suicide. Dung I saw means it’s big. They didn’t listen to me, no.
I’ll stay at the back.
There’s Baron Delmont’s squire, giggling, deranged. I’ll keep out of his way as well.
Oh, look, young lord’s raising his hand, thinking he saw something.
…fuck, he did!
I can feel their fear.
It’s giving me goose bumps, making the hairs rise on the back of my neck.
Sit up straight in the saddle, set your shoulders back, that’s right. Don’t ever let them see you doubt yourself, or they’ll falter.
Wait…what was that flitting between the trees – our quarry?
Oh providence tell me it’s the beast and not some trick of the eye! I’ll raise my forearm and tell the others to pause for a moment.
Need to listen…
…twig snapped, there…
…there it is!
…can’t move my arms…