Read Monstrous Races Online

Authors: K. Jewell

Monstrous Races

 

 

Monstrous Races

Written
by
K. Jewell

For my family – you’re the reason that I do everything
, love always
.

And for D., my
favouri
te
muse and
the laziest, cleverest person I know.
Your turn.

First
Published
in 2011
by K.
Wiltshire

Copyright ©
2011 by K.
Wiltshire

Cover artwork
by L Wiltshire

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organisations, places and events are either the product of the author

s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Contents

Chapter One

Street-talk and gnats

Chapter Two

Delving in the eternal ear canal

Chapter Three

Threats and self-inflicted injuries

Chapter Four

Scouting for snacks

Chapter Five

A decent cup of tea

Chapter Six

Beer and more gnats, sugared this time

Chapter Seven

The importance of Cheese Alley

Chapter Eight

Musical winkles curried...not necessarily in that order

Chapter Nine

Raw fish, onions and a foetid little worm

Chapter Ten

The attractive powers of musk and fluffy slippers

Chapter Eleven

There’s more than one use for earwax

Chapter Twelve

Thick woollen tights and the big unveiling

Chapter Thirteen

The twin delights of mints and crunchy pigs’ ears

Chapter Fourteen

Whimpers, tears and a resolute quiff

Chapter Fifteen

The erotic draw of a nice pinafore

Chapter Sixteen

An alternative use for a bald head

Chapter Seventeen

Falling coins and no more sushi

Chapter Eighteen

An interesting place to sail a barge

Chapter Nineteen

Why bodies are superfluous to cleanliness

Chapter Twenty

Burt and his magnificent bowling-bowl

Chapter Twenty one

The secret dowry and Bob Rowntrees’ dad

Chapter Twenty two

How to grasp a weasel

Chapter Twenty three

The home that sat in the grass and waited

Chapter One
Street-talk and gnats

The day was cool and mild as Elli walked home from the market. She held her basket in her arms and felt the cold breeze on her cheeks, trying to balance the heavy bottles of oils and sweet things she’d been asked to collect. Rufus h
ad walked on ahead, and as she stepp
ed through the dusty lanes she listened carefully, hearing footsteps that trailed behind her. She walked on confidently, looking all the while for a place to hide and hoping that Rufus would come back. She sped up, holding the basket with both hands more tightly now. She expected it when it came. A stone, thrown with some force, hit her in the back. Slowly she turned around. Two boys and a girl were standing there, she guessed they were the same age as her. The boy who had thrown the stone was smiling and standing ahead of the others. He was tall and bullish, and had powerful muscles in his neck and arms.


Whatcha
doin

walkin

‘round ‘ere all on your own little girl?’ he asked. ‘Want to come and play?’ The girl laughed and Elli could see her pale skin beneath matted hair. The girl bent down to pick up another stone, never taking her eyes from Elli. Elli breathed out slowly and looked from one to the other in the group, forcing herself to stand up straight.
Don’t show you’re afraid
, she thought,
you must never show you’re afraid.

‘Don’t wanna play,’ she said. ‘Got plenty of friends of my own to play with, and they’re be wondering where I am.’ The girl threw her stone and it hit Elli on the shoulder. She carried on looking straight at them and tried to ignore the sharp pain seeping down her arm.

‘We know you, you live wiv them dog-‘eads don’t you,’ another voice now, the smaller boy on the end with dark hair. His eyes danced with malice and he took a step forward. ‘Why don’t ya just give us that basket and we’ll be on our way. Nobody needs to get ‘urt. Ain’t that right everyone? There’s a good girl, put the basket down and walk away.’ She looked him square in the eye.

‘Who you calling
girl
? You ain’t no older than me, and you’re uglier too. I ain’t scared of none of you, so you’d better walk away from me before somebody gets ‘urt. It ain’t gonna be me.’ Elli silently cursed her mouth’s ability to make things worse before her mind had caught up, but it was too late now. She took a step forward.
Got to see it through now,
she
thought, her heart racing.

‘She finks those dog-‘eads is gonna protect her.’ The girl rubbed her hands together and spat on the floor.  ‘What wiv you bein’ ‘ere all on your own. What d’you do for them, ‘ey? D’you give ‘em a nice juicy bone? They got no right to be on this earth, wiv bein’ so peculiar. My Dad says they’re an abomination, they ain’t one thing or another. And you live wiv ‘em, so by my reckoning, so are you.’ She focused her gaze on Elli’s neck, and Elli looked down to see that her necklace
was hanging outside of her collar
. ‘Ere, that’s a pretty trinket,’ said the girl. ‘I ain’t seen a stone like that before. I’ll
‘ave that when we’re finished wiv ‘er and all.’ The gang moved forward and Elli placed her basket against the wall, watching them all as she did so.

‘You ain’t having nothin’, and don’t you dare say that about the dog-‘eads. One of them is worth more than all of you.’

‘Is that right, do they do tricks for ya?’ The smaller boy now, his arms crossed in front of him. ‘Do they roll over and beg for biscuits? Or do they take their food while it’s still alive. Savages.’ Elli bristled, and the strongest boy ran forward.
H
e ran towards
her and she fell to the ground, her breath knocked out of her by the force of the fall.  Instinctively she raised her hands as though throwing something at his legs, watching him tumble forward and land with a great noise on his chin and upper body. He looked up dazed and held his chin, blood dripping between his fingers. The boy and girl ran forwards now and the girl got there first, her arm raised into a fist. Elli pushed her hands violently towards them both and they flew backwards into the mud, their legs still up in the air. The strong boy was behind her in a second, holding her by the throat from behind on his knees. His other hand tugged at her hair, pulling it back and pinning her down.

‘Now you...witch,’ he whispered. ‘I believe we wanted the basket and the necklace, and I ain’t afraid to kill you for ‘em.’ A deep, resonant growl passed through both of them and a voice came from her left shoulder, immediately behind the boy.

‘Wanna bet?’ it whispered, dark and powerful in his ear. The boy relaxed his grip and got to his feet quickly, falling over the basket as he ran past his friends. The other two scrabbled to their feet and looked up at Rufus who towered over them, growling. They stood still for what seemed to Elli like a long time, looking up at him from his sandals to his grey monk’s habit to his shiny brown eyes. They hadn’t realised that dog-heads were so big, eight feet tall and powerfully built with the biggest jaw they had ever seen. Rufus snarled and barked once; a deep, low angry noise that woke them from their surprise and sent them squealing and running in the opposite direction. He bent down over Elli.

‘So, are you going to tell me what happened here or am I going to assume that you almost managed to win a fight with three of them?’

‘Yes,’ she said, sitting up and rubbing her swollen neck. ‘I think I almost did. Still, the big one got me. Where were you?’

‘Had to see a dog about a man. I didn’t know this was going to happen, now did I? I take it they wanted the basket...are you alright? Can you stand up?’ He tousled her hair and helped her to her feet.

‘Oh, I’m brilliant,' she said sarcastically, 'I had to put on a street voice and everything.’ She brushed some mud off of her clothes, thinking to herself that it probably looked better with a colour other than grey on it. ‘They were really horrible, and that girl wanted my necklace. I’d rather die than let her wear it.’

‘I wish you wouldn’t say things like that,’ said Rufus, looking down at her curly
hair and small frame. ‘You very nearly
could have.


Is the basket alright?’ she asked, as Rufus picked up the bottles and packages that had fallen out.

‘Hmm, just one breakage, but we’ll live with that. We’ll just have to eat it on the way home. It’s the roasted sugar gnats, what a terrible s
hame,’ he answered
, ripping open the paper and dipping his fingers into the orange, crunchy gnats.

‘Yes terrible,’ she agreed, watching him throw them in
to
his mouth and chew on them like toffee, giving all of the muscles in his face a good workout. ‘Rufus, did you see the fight at all?’ she asked, pushing her fingers into the bag greedily.

‘Now Elli, you know what Alpha Sawyre will say. She’ll say that it is always better not to fight if another way can be found, and that if it can’t then you must do so with a heavy heart as you have already lost. However, you kicked their backsides right until the end when that boy got you
.’ She smiled and looked up at the
gentle face which bore a few scars from his time before joining the Dogheadhood. He scratched his muzzle self-consciously, knowing that she was curious about them. ‘How did you do it?’ he asked.

‘I really don’t know,’ she answered, ‘but my arm aches, my throat hurts and I don’t feel too good. Just give me more of those gnats and I’ll try to remember.’

‘Hmmm, maybe we should contemplate our actions for a while. After all, I did scare them with intent. I take it they weren’t fans of the dog-heads?’ He took her thoughtful silence as an affirmation.

‘You know when I was little we were afraid of you, you were always supposed to live in the next town or the one after that. It’s a miracle I found you at all. People are just afraid of what they don’t understand sometimes,’ she said, and paused to think about this. ‘I think I’m afraid at the moment Rufus.’ She looked up at his hulking figure, powerfully built, and his head with short mottled fur, black patches and pointed ears.

‘Well, I’m clearly the right person to speak with,’ he said, swallowing another large mouthful of gnats. ‘I’ve got a human body, and a head that is part labrador, part alsatian. Believe me, I know all about having problems. I’m permanently caught between biting people’s heads off and licking them to death. It’s complicated being me you know.’ He sighed and let out a vibrating belch. ‘Whoops,' he said, raising his hand to his muzzle. ‘Sorry about that, it’s those gnats. See, an awareness of social etiquette combined with ancestry that greets
each other by sniffing bottoms.’ He looked down into her troubled blue eyes. ‘W
hat are you afraid of Elli?’

‘Me,’ she replied
, touching the stone that lay against her chest.

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