the dogs of death

To thank is to partake of that for which the thanks is given, as if the thanker were the thankee, and the thanked the thanka,” said a pale and loitering man, tall and thin, his sedge withered. His morose companion, Constidius, leaning against a damp and dirty stone wall, rolled his eyes, sighed and wished for better days. How long had they been incarcarcarcerated, stuttered Constidius' thoughts? Who knew? Deeply scratching himself in his oily nether regions, beneath a stained and woeful tunic, Constidius was not happy.

They had been captured by the Barbarians, and thrown into a dank and dirty cell, deep in the bowels of a dark and gloomy dungeon. There they had lost track of time, and space, and mind.

They amused themselves with cockroach-racing, nose-picking and metaphysics. Truth to tell, none of those entertainments were amusing or diverting in any way; especially not the soporific ramblings of the pale and loitering man in relation to his big toe (theory of everything), and his gut (grand unified theory) both of which bored Constidius to living shit. The pale and loitering man, who would answer only to the appelation, ‘the Seeker’, would speak for hours on such dubious topics as the potential extension of Godel’s theorem to linguistic systems, the number of gluons between a strange and a charmed quark, the unbundling of the binding problem, and the intelligence or otherwise of his foot.

Ultimately, as time wore on, age could not weary them but metaphysics could and did. First they stopped talking to each other, then they stopped believing in each other, then they started loving each other, then they started getting afraid, very afraid. They were going mad, batty as batshit, so to speak. It was time for something new.

And thus they sought to hatch a cunning escape plan, in four parts. The first part of the Plan involved rubbing acid on their chains. The second involved rubbing acid on the iron bars of the entrance to their cell. The third involved putting the Barbarian guards to sleep by singing an hypnotic song. And the fourth involved sneaking past the three vicious wardogs chained to a melted pile of bronzed baby shoes at the only exit to the Dungeon.

Great dark beasts, they were, with baleful eyes, and slavering jaws. The Dogs of Death, they were, and their power and cruelty were legion. ‘Twas said that to whistle their names, their secret love names, would be an act of power so insidious that only a nutcase would do it. Of course, only one entity on the planet knew their secret love names. And that entity was the leader of the Barbarian Hordes, the woolly-bearded Ulrig Hausmarten himself. The secret love-names of the Dogs of Death were Dicklicker, Shiteater and Arsesniffer. And Ulrig loved them more than life, more than mead, more than rapine and pillagement.

In happier times, more carefree days, when the hordes were slim, and few tribes skulked on the Barbarian lands, Hausmarten had found great joy in watching his lovelies, his wardogs, bring to ground a juicy squirrel, or a fat priest. Then, catching up to them panting at the often still-breathing carcass, he would sit on his haunches while they satisfied their unholy appetites and tenderly gibber pure nonsense at them, as follows:

"As you feed, the gentle drops of blood caress thy cheeks like crimson tears, my loves, sweet memories of all the times we’ve slain together, a line of corpses stretching to forever.

"Shall I sing to thee of hatred, while the wine-red moon lies fat and plump upon a sullen unforgiven sky, beloveds? Or shall I howl in comradely aversion at the baleful visage of the waxy satellite herself?"

Not many people knew Hausmarten’s gentle side. Or understood that he was more than just a shaggy, nostril-skirted, big-balled Barbarian. In fact, he had been well-educated abroad, and from a certain angle you could see his intelligence shining forth from beneath his lousy eyebrows like a golden searchlight.

Copyright © S R Schwarz 2007. All rights reserved.

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