Spratt be nimble,
Shit be quick,
Frost jumped over the candlestick,
Ass o’ lantern,
Off and Jill,
Dandy Nory the house he built.
Spratt be nimble,
Shit be quick,
Frost jumped over the candlestick,
Ass o’ lantern,
Off and Jill,
Dandy Nory the house he built.
All the way, followed by a figure in black,
But all the way home, I followed him back.
He mirrored my movements, this flickering man,
And slowly grew longer, the longer we ran.
A Short Story by Duncan Wigman.
The Doctor walked down the hospital corridor, reading the girl’s results from a clipboard in his hands and shaking his head in amazement. His curly hair was thinning on top but retained its youthful density above each ear and these curly bushes bounced as he walked. He turned the corner to enter the ward that she alone occupied and halted.
The girl was keenly engaged in licking the flowers from her bedside table. She had seized them from their vase and set them upon her lap -wetting the bed sheets with the dripping stems- and was now systematically working through the bunch, raising each flowered bud to her mouth and thrusting her tongue deep between the petals of each bloom, before dropping the discarded spittle drenched stems on the floor beside her bed. The Doctor watched for a moment in disbelief and then slowly approached the bed with his head tilted, wearing a look of perplexity.
Upon seeing the Doctor approach, the girl, far from embarrassed at having been discovered in this manner, collected the yet unlicked stems and placed them on the bedside table. The normality with which she performed this gesture was equal to one who, upon receiving company, carefully marks their place and returns a book to a shelf.
The Doctor inhaled as if to speak and then hesitated, evidently unsure as to whether he should address the scene he had just witnessed, but the girl wasn’t looking at him. He appeared to decide against it with a slight shake of the head that sent his curls bobbing, brightened his countenance somewhat, and began. “Well …it seems you’ve been incredibly lucky.”
The girl looked up at him through the wisps of her ginger fringe.
The Doctor appeared to freeze for just longer than he perhaps should have and recovered with a smile as he walked around the side of the bed. “It would appear you’re incredibly allergic.”
The girl, who had followed him with her eyes without turning her head, now turned it to look up at him. Her bright yellow eyes shone with a somewhat disarming luminosity.
The Doctor waited for some sort of response, but she merely stared back at him. He shifted his feet a little. “Did you know you are allergic?” he asked.
The girl stared at him for just long enough to make the Doctor shift his feet again, and almost imperceptibly shook her head from side to side whilst nonchalantly protruding her lower lip. The gesture could have signified either a negative response or indifference.
“Where’s your Grandmother?” the Doctor asked, looking about the empty ward. “It is your Grandmother isn’t it? Where’s she gotten to?”
“Queenie’s in the toilet.” the girl replied, raising her face slightly as if pointing to the closed door with her chin.
“Ah. The toilet, yes, of course yes…”
They both looked at the toilet door with interest.
“What did you call her?” the Doctor asked.
“Just now. You said who’s in the toilet?”
“Queenie? Is that her name?”
“It’s my name for her.”
“Charming,” said the Doctor, “and where did you come up with such a name?”
“They were her bees. She looked after them. She calls me her little Princess, and she said that when she’s gone then I’ll be Queen.”
“Charming,” The Doctor repeated.
The girl shrugged and there was a pause.
“Isn’t Queenie allergic too?”
“Very,” replied the girl, “but she has never worn any protective clothing because the bees have loved her and haven’t stung her. She’s been showing me how to look after them.”
“But you’re…” The Doctor ran a hand through his curls and inhaled deeply. “…Well… I can tell you you’ve been incredibly lucky.” he said, regaining his enthusiasm. “To be quite honest with you, we’re not quite sure how you’re doing so well. Its extraordinary.”
The girl, who had kept looking at the toilet door throughout this interchange, returned her gaze to the Doctor’s face and raised her eyebrows.
The Doctor lowered his much bushier brows into a frown and looked at her intently. “They were… brown before?”
The girl nodded.
“You’re absolutely certain of this?”
The girl looked at him and tilted her head to the side.
“I don’t mean to patronise you, but this sort of thing…well its completely unheard of.”
“You should have asked Queenie if you don’t believe me,” the girl replied flatly.
“As far as you know they were brown until you fell unconscious a week ago?”
“I remember looking in the mirror that morning and they were the same dark brown they’ve been my whole life. My father used to call me chocolate drop. I’ve got photos should you require further proof.”
The Doctor watched her silently. “And how are you feeling now?”
The girl once more protruded her lower lip and shrugged slightly. “I feel perfectly fine.”
The Doctor ran his eyes along the bed and the body of the girl. “Any nausea?”
“Any pain or tingling sensation?
“And you say you feel perfectly fine now?”
“Perfectly fine,” she repeated.
“Extraordinary,” he repeated, pushing back the bridge of his thickly rimmed and extremely thickly lensed spectacles. “You’re thirteen. Is that right?”
“Almost fourteen.” the girl said.
“Ah yes, almost fourteen. Quite right. Quite right too.”
“What’s it say?” the girl asked.
“What’s it say?”
“The clipboard,” the girl said, as though scolding him, and indeed he looked scolded and rushed to show her.
“Ah, the clipboard, yes…well, just a lot of medical jargon about you and your health and your health’s history and the laboratory results, and so on…’ He displayed the contents of the clipboard whilst nodding at her.
She said nothing, looking not at the clipboard but scrutinizing the texture of the skin beneath his tired looking eyes.
The Doctor seemed uncomfortable under her penetrating gaze and retreated to the chair beside her bed, removing his glasses and rubbing his eyes with a thick thumb and forefinger.
For a moment they sat in silence.
“Four times was it?” asked the Doctor.
“Four of them?”
“You’re the one with the clipboard,” the girl said.
The Doctor, unfazed, obediently flipped to the specific page. “Ah yes,” the Doctor said with interest, “two on the head and two on the neck. Do they hurt?” he asked, replacing his glasses and turning to her with an examining eye.
“Ah, do they?”
“…Only a bit.”
The Doctor seemed to consider something for a moment. “May I take a closer look?”
“The nurse already did,” said the girl.
“Yes, but I’d quite like a look myself…if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind. Do you mind?”
“Well…er… no, that’s why I asked.”
“So you don’t mind?
“Then take a look if you don’t mind.” The girl propped herself up on her hands and leaned her head towards him.
The Doctor laughed nervously, blushed slightly and leant forward to examine the girl’s head. Upon touching her hair however, he yelped and drew his hand back.
The girl grinned. “Find a bee?” she asked.
“Static shock,” the Doctor muttered, shaking his hand.
“Not just you.”
“Not just you.”
“Not just me what?”
“The nurse,” the girl offered.
“She got a shock from you as well?”
The girl nodded an affirmation.
The Doctor raised his bushy brows, immediately furrowed them again, and bent down once more to resume his examination. The very moment he touched the girl’s hair however, the same thing happened and he leapt back in surprise.
The girl pulled a face as if to express mock remorse.
“It would appear you are electrically charged somewhat,” the Doctor muttered.
The girl grinned.
“Perhaps it would be better if I just looked and didn’t touch.”
“Perhaps it would,” she replied.
The Doctor leaned closer, and peered at her head.
“Curiouser and curiouser,” said the Doctor, consulting his clipboard as one does a map. “So…It’s one at the rear of the cranium on the vertex…on the crown of your head…ah yes…and I can see… the one on your forehead…right between the eyes, an excellent shot!” he ventured.
The girl looked at him blankly through the wisps of her ginger fringe.
The Doctor noted this rejection with a frown and resumed his professional air. “Another on this side of the cervical about an inch below the ear…ah yes…and not too inflamed…and…” -He walked around the bed, keeping his eyes on the girl and adjusting his spectacles- “One…on this…goodness me” -he gasped- “they’re perfectly symmetrical… Precisely the same spot either side… The nurse told me that they were similar but gosh I never expected them to be so…exact,” he said removing his glasses and polishing them with a cloth he extracted from his breast pocket. “It’s as if you’ve been shot clean through the neck!”
The girl raised her eyebrows and shrugged in response.
“And you don’t remember anything of the past week?”
“I’ve been asleep for the past week.”
“Well what’s the last thing you do remember?”
The girl rolled her eyes. “I’ve already related this to the nurse.”
“I’d really like to hear it myself…If you don’t mind,” the Doctor said softly, “Only if you don’t mind.”
The girl frowned, cleared her throat and the Doctor watched her yellow eyes glaze as her attention turned inward.
“I approached the hive. I wanted to see them at work…and I wanted to find the Queen to pay my respects. So I went up and I took off the lid.”
“-You got right up to the hive without being stung?”
“-You lifted off the lid of the hive and at that point you still hadn’t been stung?”
“-Are you going to interrupt again?”
“I’m sorry?” the Doctor said, taken aback.
“You interrupted.” said the girl calmly.
“I did. I beg your pardon, I’m terribly sorry. I beg your pardon.”
“Please refrain from interruption again. It halts my ability to recall.” The girl said flatly.
“My sincerest apologies.” said the Doctor.
“Shall I continue?”
“So,” she said sternly, “I took off the lid and I looked down into the hive…and I must have stood there about ten minutes just watching them.”
“For ten minutes?”
“If you’re going to repeat everything I say then this is going to take a very long time,” said the girl.
The Doctor raised his hands in a gesture of remorse and silently mimed a zip fastening his lips with thumb and forefinger.
The girl watched until she was satisfied of his attention and resumed. “I started talking to them. I told them that I thought they had a very beautiful home and I was very in awe of their work and very grateful for the honey I’ve had in my life so far. I thanked them for their loyalty to Queenie and said that I hoped they would be as good to me when I came to care for them. And I told them they made the most delicious honey I’ve ever tasted…and I thanked them again for being so kind as to let me taste it. And I told them I didn’t come to pry, and I was sorry to interrupt…”-she glanced at the Doctor- “…but mainly the reason I went was so’s not to be ignorant of the process.” She paused, staring through the wall at the horizon, as if contemplating this process.
The Doctor stared at her, spellbound, and waited for her to continue.
“And then a few of them began to land on me. On my shoulders and on my arm.” -She felt with her hand the areas mentioned, as if reminding herself- “And then it began…a sort of a drone.” Her face became animated and she spoke with enthusiasm as the memory took vividity behind her eyes. “A drone,” she repeated. “They had been buzzing lazily up to now but as I finished speaking to them it was as if someone pushed a button deep down at the bottom of the hive that set something in motion…and all the bees began to hum together, slowly at first…as if they were all tuning into one another and listening to each other. They began quietly, and I remember staring down into the mass of wings and fur as they began to sort of…vibrate. And even the flying ones and the ones who were away from the hive seemed to draw in and listen, and the ones who had been buzzing and scurrying about frantically seemed to calm down and hover…even the one’s in the air…they stopped flying about everywhere and just hovered. They started low…-the note I mean…the pitch they were buzzing-it was low. -Like one of the notes your left hand plays far down on the left of the piano…but it didn’t sound like a piano. It sounded like a cello…or rather a thousand tiny little cello’s tuning into one another at the beginning of a performance. And perhaps it wasn’t the exact same note, but at least they were all low and they were all harmonising together. Yes. It must have been that, because the sound shifted imperceptibly in density and texture. And there was this, sort of…pregnant stillness. I remember suddenly knowing that they were going to sting me. But I wasn’t scared. I remembered Mother telling me that I had to be careful of bees before she died when I was very little, and I very briefly remembered Father getting stung and going to the hospital and never coming back…but I wasn’t scared. I was so happy. I was the happiest I’ve been in my life. And it was growing. I felt like I was glowing. I felt like I was the battery for the entire world and I was powering it all and everything was feeding off of my happiness and my life. It was like every single bee had a length of fishing line fed directly into the centre of my chest and I could pull them in or let them out and they all pulsed drops of honey-it wasn’t actually honey…but it…felt like honey-they dripped it…no…they shot, no…they like…injected it, along the threads straight into my heart, which glowed and it filled my whole body. The strongest of all these were four strings that felt joined to my head. This was the strongest sensation. They felt like limbs. On strings. And I could feel them pulling themselves in along these strings towards my head. Or rather I willingly wound them in, with the light inside me, burning their wires like a fuse. All of a sudden I felt a rush of …almost like a rush of the coldest purest water all the way up my spine, and at the second it reached the back of my neck I felt four tiny pricks in the each of the places you’ve seen, all at the same time, as if they held my head firmly in place with their stings…and it felt like my head exploded with light like a geyser, and for just one second I knew that there were exactly 69454 bees in that hive-not counting the larvae, and I knew exactly where every single one of them was, especially the four which had stung me. I could feel…feel-I mean it- I felt every sensation of each one of those four bees…dying. It must have been at that point that I lost consciousness because I don’t remember anything else before waking up here.”
The Doctor waited a minute in silence to make sure that he didn’t interfere with any reflections the re-telling may have induced in the girl, and continued to watch as the memories gradually faded from the girl’s shining yellow eyes, and her focus returned to rest upon objects outside of herself.
She turned to the Doctor. He was gazing at her. She gauged his reaction carefully and was grateful to note benevolence, astonishment and admiration in his face where she had seen pity, anxiety or smirking in the faces of the nurses. She rewarded his attention with an affirming but painfully goofy grin and the Doctor choked from having laughed so suddenly and unexpectedly.
“May I have some honey?” the girl asked abruptly.
The girl nodded.
He hesitated. “My dear, You’ve been a whole week without food. It would be better if we started you off with-“
“-I don’t want anything else. -Right now.” she added.
“You’ve lost a lot of body mass and its essential that you gain weight immediately”
“I’m sure you are quite aware of the beneficial properties of honey…” The girl began.
“But you must be famished” said the Doctor, “Wouldn’t you like something a little more substantial?”
“A little honey would be perfectly adequate at this time thankyou,” the girl replied. “Some of my Grandmother’s would be perfect.”
“Goodness, your Grandmother,” the Doctor said, “Id completely forgotten about her. She can’t have been in the toilet all this time.”
“No, she is. I was surprised to wake up here though,” the girl said calmly, “I would have thought she’d like to be at home. She knew I’d be fine.”
“Actually it was your neighbours that called the ambulance,” said the Doctor. “They saw you collapse, and your Grandmother tried to prevent the paramedics from taking you.”
The girl paused for a moment and the Doctor watched as a single tear rolled down the girl’s cheek.
“I’ll miss her terribly,” she said.
The Doctor looked at her imploringly.
“Don’t you understand?” said the girl. “She was the one who told me to go and see the bees.”
The doctor rushed to the toilet door and forced it open. The old woman’s corpse lay on the floor.
The Tale of Jeanette and Scott. A story-poem. By Duncan Wigman
When we two met, in that nightspot,
Played hard to get, but soon was got.
We danced duet, in tight foxtrot,
You wore fishnet, it hit the spot.
A young Cadet and handsome Scot,
Pretty brunette and true sex-pot,
I felt you wet, you felt me hot,
We rolled in sweat, I filled your slot.
Your mind was set; “We tie the knot”
“You wanna bet?” I said - “We’re not.”
She all upset and me; big-shot.
But she beget and I begot,
She said in fret, “Forget me not”
A child inset…I built a cot.
My best day yet; trapped by a tot,
-Our lives reset and fused somewhat.
She came thickset like a kumquat;
-All red, upset, all stout and squat.
Jeanette, all sweat, in joy, bloodshot,
The blooms I set? - Forget me Not.
That day she threat; “Promise to not
-ever upset our new mascot.”
I said “Regret? Certainly not.
-This is Kismet, -I’ve won jackpot.”
In The Gazette, we there did spot
A tiny sublet, a little plot.
We battled debt, and filled our pot,
And bought layette for our new tot.
Our babe quickset - up fast she shot,
Learnt clarinet, ballet; the lot.
With pirouette, outgrew the cot;
A Maisonette was our next plot.
To form quartet a pooch we got;
A mutt called Brett, all full of snot.
Hours in vet for that crackpot.
Jeanette, Collette, dog Brett and Scott.
A new Corvette I bought besot,
Midlife? No sweat. Crisis boycott.
At this point; set: iv got the lot.
If life’s roulette, I’d won jackpot.
Teenage Collette has changed a lot…
With eyes lunette, short skirt, tight top,
This suffragette with temper hot,
Would play cassette and cruise nightspot.
With cigarette, lips apricot,
Her silhouette beauty snapshot,
With her coquette and me bloodshot,
Her mum abet and I ‘fusspot’.
Then, sudden upset. Fatal blot.
My love beset. A hidden clot,
That stole Jeanette, like a gunshot,
And caused upset hither-known not.
We’re close-Collette and I. We’re not
Full of regret-she’s not forgot.
In ground still wet with tears she’ll rot.
The blooms we set? -Forget Me Not.