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Thursday, 16 December 2010

#FridayFlash: The UCF Stories #32: Extraction

This is episode 32 of my ongoing web serial, updated weekly as a part of #fridayflash. If you are new to The UCF Stories, or have missed an episode, you can find a full index of the episodes here.

Bishop Barclay's visit provoked much debate among the basement residents, the general consensus being the Bishop hadn't noticed anything amiss. Even so, a lot of surreptitious packing took place that night amid much shushing in case the neighbours heard. The neighbours were, of course, engaged in much the same activity. This included Swazzle, who was shoving the last of his belongings into a bag when knocking rattled his front door.

'Who is it?'

The muffled response made Swazzle sigh as he went to open then door.

A group of rather shifty looking Goblins crowded around the doorstep, behind them a large cage teetered on top of a child's go-cart. One of the Goblins shoved its way to the front of the group.

'Cage,' it growled. 'For dragon. We hook up?'

Swazzle recognised the voice as belonging to the Balkan Goblin he'd commissioned to construct the draig's kennel and, despite some misgivings about having Goblins in his quarters, invited them in.

'No fit,' announced the Goblin after much huffing and puffing. 'We take door off.'

Before Swazzle had a chance to object the Goblins set to work and shortly afterwards Swazzle's front door and much of the front wall of his hut lay neatly stacked in the street. As the cage slid in through the widened gap, a familiar voice called from outside.

'Got the builders in, Captain?'

'Not exactly, Salkeld. It's your mates delivering the draig's new kennel.'

'Ohh, champion! You want me to let Master Botchett know?'

'Tell him I'll be over later for the draig,' replied Swazzle, distracted by the sound of sawing wood. He swung round to find a pyramid of Goblins supporting one of their number who sawed a hole in his ceiling.

'For gas pipe,' a Goblin growled in response to Swazzle's expression. 'No gas, no fire. Unhappy dragon.'

Swazzle gestured at them to continue, wondering idly how long this job was likely to take.

* * *

Botchett was trying to enjoy his pipe when Salkeld stuck his head round the door. After a few seconds his eyes alighted on Botchett, sitting scrunched up on a stool in the corner furthest from the stove, his eyes fixed on the scaly tail dangling from the firebox.

'Good evening Master Botchet. Captain Swazzle asked me to let you know he'll be collecting the draig shortly.'

'And not a moment too soon. That thing's eating me out of house and home, like.' Mistress Botchett appeared in the pantry doorway. 'The children are terrified to leave their room for fear of being eaten, and he,' she stuck a thumb in Botchett's direction, 'is about as much use as a chocolate teapot.'

'Now listen here, bonny lass,' began Botchett.

'Well you are. You've done nowt but sit in the corner since yesterday, like.'

Salkeld excused himself and set off in the direction of the hospital to visit Pogmorton, relieved to be putting distance between himself and the Botchett's “domestic.”

* * *

Swazzle was a little wary of leaving the Goblins to finish off unsupervised, they assured him they'd tidy up after themselves and put the cage fire on for his return as they bundled him out the door. Reluctantly he set off up the street, arriving outside Botchett's home in time to hear crockery smashing. Fearing the draig had gone on the rampage, Swazzle dived through the door right into the path of the bowl Mistress Botchett had launched at her husband.

'Ow!' wailed Swazzle as the bowl caught him full in the face.

'Oh, sorry kidda.' Mistress Botchett's hand flew to her mouth as she bustled over to make sure Swazzle wasn't injured. The floor around Botchett's stool was peppered with crockery fragments.

Swazzle rubbed his nose ruefully. 'I've come to collect the draig.'

'About time, bonny lad,' called Botchett, brushing the remains of a plate from his lap.

'Thank you, thank you,' Mistress Botchett clapped him on the back. 'I don't know what would have happened if we'd had to keep it here for much longer, like'

'We'd have run out of plates for one thing,' muttered Botchett, thinking better of adding anything further in response to his wife's venomous look.

'Err, any idea how I'm going to get it to come out?'

'You'll need a stout collar and lead,' said Botchett, 'and summat to tempt it out, like.'

Swazzle held up the lead and collar the Goblins had pressed into his hand as they'd shoved him out of his house.

'Aye, that ought to do. Have we got any of those sausages left Mother?'

'No, and well you know it! You could try a bit of ham though.' Mistress Botchett proffered a thick slice of her home-baked gammon.

Three hours later and Swazzle had resorted to wearing one of Botchett's shoulder-length Wyrm catching gauntlets and was rummaging about up to the elbow in the firebox, thankful the glove was both heat and teeth proof.

The draig was proving a wily customer, but eventually Swazzle managed to secure the collar round the beast's neck and drag it out onto the kitchen floor. The draig tumbled from the firebox in a shower of hot embers and stood glowering at it's new master, the expression on its face leaving Swazzle in absolutely no doubt how it felt about being forced to leave its nest.

The Botchetts stood silently in the corner of the kitchen as Swazzle coaxed the draig towards the door, only rushing forward to beat out their smouldering rug once the pair had finally left.

* * *

Getting the draig into its new kennel proved easier than Swazzle thought. Presumably the draig was cold from its short walk and scampered straight into its new cage, snuggling down in the fire and falling straight to sleep.

Swazzle took a few moments to check on the state of his home, but it appeared the Goblins had been true to their word, leaving the place as they'd found it. Not until the early hours when Swazzle was woken by a freezing draught coming in under the bottom of the badly re-fitted front wall did he consider more than a cursory glance at the Goblins' handiwork might have been an idea.

'Bloody Goblin builders,' he muttered, pulling the blankets over his head.



G.P. Ching said...

The goblins don't seem exceptionally bright. I hope the wall is the only deficiency in their labor. The voice of Botchett's wife was so strong in this story. Could picture her just from the dialogue. Enjoyed this segment.

Danielle La Paglia said...

Ah...our little draig has a new home. This was a nice little transition piece, Sam. I'm always glad when the draig is involved. :)

Sam said...

Genevieve: It's not so much that goblins aren't too bright, they just have different standards to the rest of the basement residents. Their language is also largely impenetrable to most non-goblins, hence they have to speak in very simple terms for Swazzle to understand them. Thanks for those kind words about Mistress Botchett, she's a very strong woman in the northern tradition. :)

Danni: Thanks so much, I hope this episode lived up to expectations. Time has been really short lately and I'm not sure this is what I'd have posted if I hadn't been in a tearing hurry.

Maria A. Kelly said...

Nice. Dragon is home at last. I love Mrs. Botchett, too. She's feisty. My kinda gal.

Ian Ayris said...

Fantastic stuff, Sam. Cracking dialogue. And very, very funny. And we've plenty of Mrs Botchett's down south, Sam. Don't you worry about that . . .

Top stuff, mate.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I can just picture the look on the draig's face!!

Poor Swazzle though, catching a plate in the face!

Sam said...

Maria: I have a soft spot for Mistress Botchett too. She's largely the unsung heroine of the piece, looking after her family and feeding any number of the basement residents. Having the draig living in her stove has been quite a hardship and has almost wrecked her preparations for the gnomes' Midwinter Festival.

Ian: Thank you very much for reading. I didn't realise you had gnomes where you are too! ;)

Icy: Hehe. I unashamedly based that particular expression on my cat who seems to wear it whenever she's removed from the Christmas tree. I bet Swazzle will have a shiner by tomorrow.

ganymeder said...

That was adorable and hilarious at the same time. I absolutely love the draig! Reminds me of our puppy getting used to her kennel... :)

Anonymous said...

Who knew moving a draig would be such a production? I mean, it even requires Goblin builders. :)

I've seen the look on the draig's face when they drag him out, too. It results from medicating my cat with a horrid, despicable eye-dropper.

And that Mme Botchett is always awesome.

Love it as always, Sam. :D

Sam said...

Ganymeder: It's funny really, I've never owned a dog but the draig...just acts like one. Thanks for the kind words.

Gracie: Yes, that's the look I was going for! Thanks, Gracie.

mazzz in leeds said...

I wonder whether goblin builders are worse than cowboy builders!

The hole in the ceiling for the gas pipe made me laugh (although I feel devastated too - there's no gas in my flat, so I wouldn't be able to keep a draig as a pet!)

Sam said...

Mazzz: I dread to think!

Don't panic about a draig, any open fire will do...and a BBQ will make your living room all nice and toasty! ;)

Eric J. Krause said...

Excellent story! This one's a winner, as always!

John Wiswell said...

Goblins do require some oversight. Lazy workers, insane architects - but if you only want art, or something that'll blow people up, they're amazing contractors.

Deanna Schrayer said...

Sam, it's a good thing I've learned not to have a drink in my mouth when reading the UCF stories!

This line: "'No fit,' announced the Goblin after much huffing and puffing. 'We take door off.'" absolutely cracked me up. It reminded me of my dog, (150 lb German Shepherd/lab mix), creating his own door to the screened porch when he realized the cat's door wasn't big enough. I just sat staring, bewildered.

Another exciting, hilarious episode! Thank you Sam!

P.S. I wonder why my word verification is "comely"...

Jason Coggins said...

I love how you dedicated an entire episode to relocating the draig. Your take on the characters is always full of affection and I was glad to see this extended to the goblins. Goblins generally get a bad rap for being, well, gobliny ... and that's just not right. Well done.

Sam said...

Eric: Thanks for those kind words! Much appreciated.

John: Sounds rather as though you've been on the receiving end of goblin builders so, was it art, or did their project blow up?

Deanna: I should put a warning at the beginning of episodes, eh? If I'd had a larger wordcount at my disposal I'd have had a British Health & safety goblin step in and the job would have taken at least three times longer. ;)

Jason: Thanks for those kind words. Ahh, a man after my own heart - a like minded soul where goblins are concerned. It's nice to know there are others who don't believe the anti-goblin hype.

Laurita said...

A cute descrition of the draig settling down by the fire. Th voice of Botchett's wife really stood out for me too. Well done!

Trevor said...

Bloody Goblin builders. I've had them in before now.

Love this serial. Great characters.

Anonymous said...

Note to self - do not hire goblins to do renovations on house... ;) Another great one Sam! The more i read about your draig, the more I want one! He could live in my forge once I get the blacksmith shop set up out back :)

Alan W. Davidson said...

I'd be a bit dubious about leaving a goblin work crew in my house as well. I'm jealous of your command of dialogue. Great job, Sam.

Seleste said...

Dragon <3! Okay, I liked this piece. I'm not sure why Swazzle would think a cursory glance at the work would be okay considering how rough they were getting in, but I'm going to cut him some slack after wrestling a dragon out of its nest :P

Rachel Blackbirdsong said...

I think the goblins need to have their own home improvement show on the TV. It would be great, well as long as they weren't renovating my house.

Sam said...

Laurita: Thanks. I felt it was about time I gave Mistress Botchett something to say, I'm glad you liked her.

Trevor: Hahaha! :)

techtigger: That would be ideal as a draig habitat! I'll put you on the list for draig ownership.

Alan: Thanks so much for those very kind words, Alan. Very much appreciated. In truth, I don't know how I do it, I seem to hear the voices in my head and write down what the characters say. :)

Seleste: Aw, thanks. Shall I sign you up as a member of the draig's fanclub? :)

Rachel: Of course you do realise I now a mental image stuck in my head of a bearded goblin wagging his finger at the camera and saying, "Safety first!" I think the TV show is an excellent idea, we can get started on the first show just as soon as we have your address... ;)

Mari said...

Ahhh, I finally read all episodes I missed, and I can say that Pogmorton's ressurection was the best episode of the latests! Fantastic!

I want a draig of my own, even though it's a bit scary. O.o

Oy, that reverend isn't much of a nice person, is he?

Sam said...

Mari: Thanks for your lovely comment, and for taking the time to catch up on all the episodes. :)

I'll put you on the list for Botchett's next Draig catching trip, though you'll need an open fire and plenty of sausages to keep a Draig happy!

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