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A Texas cowboy lay down on a barroom floor,
Having drunk so much he could drink no more;
So he fell asleep with a troubled brain
To dream that he rode on a hell-bound train.
*The engine with murderous blood was damp
And was brilliantly lit with a brimstone lamp;
An imp, for fuel, was shoveling bones,
While the furnace rang with a thousand groans.
The boiler was filled with lager beer
And the devil himself was the engineer;
The passengers were a most motley crew-
Church member, atheist, Gentile, and Jew.
Rich men in broad cloth, beggars in rags,
Handsome young ladies, and withered old hags,
Yellow and black men, red, brown, and white,
All chained together-O God, what a sight!
While the train rushed on at an awful pace-
The sulphurous fumes scorched their hands and face;
Wider and wider the country grew,
As faster and faster the engine flew.
Louder and louder the thunder crashed
And brighter and brighter the lightning flashed;
Hotter and hotter the air became
Till the clothes were burned from each quivering frame.
And out of the distance there arose a yell,
“Ha, ha,” said the devil, “we’re nearing hell”
Then oh, how the passengers all shrieked with pain
And begged the devil to stop the train.
But he capered about and danced for glee,
And laughed and joked at their misery.
“My faithful friends, you have done the work
And the devil never can a payday shirk.
“You’ve bullied the weak, you’ve robbed the poor,
The starving brother you’ve turned from the door;
You’ve laid up gold where the canker rust,
And have given free vent to your beastly lust.
“You’ve justice scorned, and corruption sown,
And trampled the laws of nature down.
You have drunk, rioted, cheated, plundered, and lied,
And mocked at God in your hell-born pride.
“You have paid full fare, so I’ll carry you through,
For it’s only right you should have your due.
Why, the laborer always expects his hire,
So I’ll land you safe in the lake of fire.
“Where your flesh will waste in the flames that roar,
And my imps torment you forevermore.”
Then the cowboy awoke with an anguished cry,
His clothes wet with sweat and his hair standing high.
Then he prayed as he never had prayed till that hour
To be saved from his sin and the demon’s power;
And his prayers and his vows were not in vain,
For he never rode the hell-bound train.
We were not boy wizards, vampire’s assistants or even living skeletons, we were normal everyday people living normal everyday lives, with no inkling of the tremendous events that were about to unfold.
Our adventure began with the arrival of a peculiarly small Christmas card, which sent us hurtling to the mystical land of Onisha, where Umahia, the Grand Mystic, asked for our help. He told us that he needed our help to fight, stop and ultimately defeat ‘Miafra, the evil,’ the mystic who had stolen his powers, the seasons, free will and all time. Umahia told us that we had powers, powers that up until then we had no inkling we possessed, which might, just might help us to defeat the evil man…
We had no idea, no inkling whatsoever, that we were going to be attacked by Protectors atop Hound-Horses, fight a statue hell-bent on killing us, be betrayed in our sleep, and be forced to fight a dangerous beast called a Dragonsaur. No, we had no idea at all. If we had, we might have chosen not to heed Umahia’s call, leaving the land of Onisha – and the Earth – exposed to untold dangers…
Rioghbhardan and Fikri
Hello, my name is Nott and my best friend is Wot. We have been friends as far back as we can remember; we live on the same street, went to the same school and shared most all our childhood experiences together, we are and always have been the very best of friends. As adults, we spend most of our free time together, and could never envisage it being any other way.
My name, my real name is actually Fikri, and Wot’s is Rioghbhardan. Neither of us ever liked these, given, names, and from an early age, we would play happily for hours on end, trying to choose new ones. Despite spending so much time in this preoccupation, we found it difficult to choose alternatives, names we felt more suited to. Begrudgingly, we accepted them, until one sunny summer’s afternoon when we got a bit giddy, playing, thinking about possible new ones. Acting ‘the cod,’ singing in unison, we said, “What’s in a name? I do not know! It’s not our aim to go on so, trying to find what’s best or not – what must be resolved, or not.” With those words still ringing in our ears, we suddenly stopped singing.
“That’s it!” Rioghbhardan cried out. “From now on we shall be called What and Not!”
I immediately agreed, though I changed the spelling slightly, proclaiming, “From now on we are WOT and NOTT, and that’s that.” Little did we realise these names were to remain with us throughout our childhood and well into our adult lives.
As we grew older, we did not drift apart as so many childhood friends tend to do, if anything we actually grew closer. This does not mean we always got on well. Quite often, we would appear, to those watching us, more akin to enemies than friends. The reason for this is that we are entirely different people. Wot is a laid-back type of individual who will not be rushed into a quicker rate of knots than he is comfortable with – he gets the job done, but on his terms. This trait can sometimes drive me bonkers, because I have a quick mind with an uncanny ability (or so I am told) to work things out. I want to get things done as soon as is humanly possible and cannot understand why anyone would have any other way of behaving. This difference in personalities has always ensured that life is far from dull for the two of us.
Physically speaking, Wot is a larger than life individual, whose favourite colours are earthy browns and greens; his clothes definitely reflect this taste. He always wears flared, cord trousers, whether they are in fashion or not, and a casual, polo neck shirt. Despite prematurely greying, Wot’s short-cropped hair compliments rather than takes from his appearance, but a series of loose wrinkles running horizontally across the back of his head, quite unique to him, have to be seen up close and personal, to appreciate their uniqueness.
I am just over half Wot’s height, of a thin build, with black hair and moustache. My preferred items of apparel are a crisp blue suit, white shirt, black tie and my old trilby hat that I would never be seen anywhere without.
…We were two friends living normal everyday lives with no inkling of the tremendous events that were about to unfold…
Ever since I began writing, I wanted to create something special, a story to capture the hearts, minds and, above all, imagination of you, the readers, I hope that, in completing this story, about the continuing adventures of a girl named Alice, I might, just might have achieved this ambition.
Gerrard T Wilson