A Collection of Thought Stories

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Summary

A collection of thought-provoking short stories ( cover illustration - detail from an oil painting by the author, Martin Sharratt )

Genre:
Fantasy / Drama
Author:
Martin Sharratt
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
10
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

Jorem Mackelbarry's Secret


Not so long ago, and not so far away from wherever you may be – when considering the infinite nature of the universe – angels of the Lord came down and committed what many might consider a justifiable crime.

They stole something from the Devil’s only son; Lucifer Junior. The angels swooped through the cumulus-gold heavens, through the cool atmosphere you and I breathe, and beyond, into the depths of the Earth, where they crept up to a flaming crib and snatched Lucifer Junior’s favourite toy from the despicable infant’s grasp. His shriek of fiery fury licked the soles of the angel’s feet as they sped heavenwards, with the Devil Himself in hot pursuit.

While the Devil chased the angels through the skies, in an effort to catch the angels and retrieve the toy, Lucifer Junior howled like a dying wolf to express his sorrow, for he loved the toy – in the horrible, desirous way the evil love – with all of his dark, crooked heart.

He loved it so because it was a rare gift from his father, and had the kind of qualities one might expect the Devil’s spawn’s most beloved toy to have. Not only had it been stolen by the Devil Himself from an orphaned child – it had been created by the child from the debris of the child’s home, within which the child’s parents had perished in a fire, so it had been as much comfort to the orphaned child as Lucifer Junior, especially when considering its loss had driven the poor child insane.

As the Devil and the angels swept through the stratosphere, the angels were drawn to the kind of incident angels are drawn to, and darted off in the direction of their calling. Their abrupt, unforeseen change of direction threw the Devil from their trail, and left the angels gathered in the living room of a small, end-terrace house in the middle of England, where they silently observed a grieving widower, who was sitting – without being aware that he was – upon his only son, while drinking excessively to soothe the sorrow of his wife’s demise a year before, to the day.

The tiny face protruding from betwixt the weeping man’s ample backside and a seen-much-better-days sofa had already turned blue, so the angels wasted no time dragging the youngster from the soft, grimly comical jaws of death. As the child drew grateful breaths of life, the angels saw an opportunity and spoke to the boy in a universal language, understood by all, regardless of age or nationality.

The angels told the child what they had done. They justified the theft by saying they couldn’t stand to see the Devil’s son derive pleasure and comfort from a toy stolen from such a sorrowful child. They said they couldn’t take the toy to heaven because God wouldn’t understand why they had stolen it, since the angels had been taught that stealing is a sin, even though the theft seemed perfectly logical and even justifiable, with a little tweaking of God’s laws. Nor could they return it to the orphan, since they did not know of the orphan’s whereabouts, because the Devil had covered the tracks of His crime with a noxious poo-mist that blinded the angels. And they couldn’t take it back to the Devil’s son either – which they assumed God would ask them to do – because the angels believed to do so would be a worse crime than stealing it from him in the first place.

The angels were afraid of God’s wrath, should He find out what they had done, and mimicked God’s booming baritone, while attempting to convey what they expected God would say, to the boy whose life they had just saved;

“I don’t care why you stole it; stealing is a sin! And I don’t give a hoot if it was stolen in the first place; two wrongs don’t make a right! If it was stolen, it is up to the thief to return it; not for you to steal it from the thief with no one to return it to – not only is that theft; it amounts to spite, and you should know spite is a sin too! Take the toy back to its owner, at once, or suffer dire consequences!”

Once the angels had explained why they were so reluctant to carry out what they assumed would be God’s wish, they asked the slightly flattened, fractionally elongated, marginally widened child – in a universal language, understood by all – if he would take care of the toy until the Devil’s son would be too old for it to be of any comfort, which, the angels calculated – when taking into account the time discrepancy between Earth and Hell – would be when Lucifer Junior is eight, and Jorem, ninety years of age. Jorem, having used his primordial sense of morality to judge the predicament, attempted his first ever nod, to let the angels know he would do as they asked, and guard the toy with his life until what may well turn out to be the end of his days.

Even at this tender age, Jorem Macklebarry understood the gravity of the task the angels had bestowed upon him, and gripped the unusual toy with all his might, and a little more the angels had allowed. Just before the angels left, Jorem muttered his first word – ‘Prowst’ – which he decided, in his rapidly developing mind, to give as the name of his new companion.

No one could extract the unusual toy from Jorem’s grip, and on the rare occasion it did escape his attention, Jorem screamed at the top of his lungs until its return. Jorem knew that the strange, inexplicable humming and hollow howling the world heard, at times, were the pleading lamentations of the Devil’s son for his beloved toy. Jorem knew he had become an element of the battle between good and evil, since the Devil had to spend time comforting His son, which He usually spent wreaking evil on Earth and tormenting sinners in hell, so Jorem guarded Prowst with all the attention the task deserved.



As Jorem grew, those who did not know of Jorem’s life’s mission – which was everyone – assumed him to be as loathsome a child as Lucifer Junior. Jorem did whatever he liked, which equated to almost nothing. He didn’t wash his hands and face, nor clean his teeth. A comb had not met his mop of unruly, dirty hair, and he never bathed. Jorem didn’t go to school because there wasn’t a school in the district that would take him. He left the headmaster of the last school he was in with a nasty case of septicaemia, after he had bitten his hand for trying to pull Prowst from his curiously vice-like grip.

He swept schoolbooks from the kitchen table, whenever his father attempted home schooling, and vanished without a trace when social workers visited their home. In the eyes of society, Jorem was a lost cause, and if the numerous officials who had tried so diligently to reform his character could have written that in their reports, without it leading to their dismissal, they would have.

Jorem only spent time caring for Prowst, which he loved with all his heart, even though it stank to high heaven. Apart from the fact it had once belonged to Lucifer Junior, Prowst smelt so Godawful is because it had never been washed, and the reason for that was because the various pieces of singed fabric Prowst was made from were held together with thin strips of old, dull-grey gaffer tape, and short lengths of nicotine-yellow Sellotape, which would have become unstuck in warm, soapy water; leading to Prowst’s disintegration.

Yet; Prowst’s curiously nauseating aroma did not stick in Jorem’s throat and cause his eyes to smart, as it did most, but rather it attracted him, as the scent of one’s loved ones does. The frayed edges of the gaffer tape were adored by Jorem as the down of ducklings are by the mother duck, and were fluffed and stroked to reflect such adoration. He often spat on the corner of a tea towel and polished Prowst’s sparkling glass eyes, and spent many hours arranging the barbs and barbules of Prowst’s tail feathers, which had once belonged to real birds. When Jorem and Prowst were together – which was every minute of every day – Jorem was able to express his only feelings of love, and if Prowst could have shown joy, it would surely have done so in a manner to suggest it was the most beloved toy in the whole world.

In the middle of one night, Jorem slept with his head resting upon Prowst, as usual. Drops of spit sporadically dripped onto Prowst, before being absorbed into its stuffing of carefully rolled up pieces of toilet paper, as though each represented an internal organ. A shaft of electric light slowly widened upon the scene, when his father opened the bedroom door, and stood gazing sadly at his son’s form in the dim light of the end-terrace’s only bedroom. Jorem’s father loved his son just as much as his son loved Prowst, which he demonstrated by attempting to wriggle Prowst from under Jorem’s sleeping face, so he might throw it in the washing machine while his son slept.

Jorem’s father’s pinky-finger became immediately trapped between an array of sharp, rotting teeth, and his eyes engaged in a staring contest only one could win. Jorem’s father’s gaze dropped carpet-wards, as his son’s jaw slackened enough for him to withdraw his throbbing pinky.

Jorem’s father’s eyelids fluttered, as if they were somehow involved in the mechanism required to raise his head, and closed, when his sorrowful, pleading expression and prolonged –“o-o-o-w-w-w” – was met with no sympathy whatsoever. Jorem’s father backed towards the doorway, while avoiding his son’s hateful stare, and muttering that he only wished to clean Prowst up a little.

“Just a tiny bit” – he sighed, sadly.

“No, dad, No!” – Jorem hissed. “Prowst must never leave my side, and he should never be washed. You know that, dad. I’ve told you a million times. Now go to bed.”

Jorem’s father closed the door while sucking his pinky – leaving Jorem and Prowst in the room’s slightly damp moonlight. Jorem’s father thought Jorem hated him, and he did. Jorem hated anyone who tried to take Prowst away from him, which was everyone. But Jorem’s father did not know the reason for Jorem’s hatred, and thought it would be in Jorem’s best interest, and his own, if he put Jorem into care.



Despite his considerable protest, and injuries inflicted upon a number of care workers, Jorem was extracted from his end terrace house and placed into the kind of gloomy, miserable, authoritarian care home one might read of in a story. The staff were cruel and unkind, and the children who were incarcerated there miserable as a result. The only happy one among them seemed to be Jorem – so long as he and Prowst were left in peace, which was something the care workers learned to allow, after several cases of septicaemia.

However; Jorem’s peace was broken when a new girl arrived in the home, who immediately leapt towards Jorem, with her filthy hands hooked into the form of claws and her screaming mouth revealing a crooked array of pointy, rotten teeth.

“THAT TOY BELONGS TO ME!” – she screeched, as they began to fight over Prowst.

Although the antibodies Jorem’s body had developed, in response to the high levels of bacteria in his blood stream, prevented Jorem from getting an instant case of septicaemia from the girl’s bites, the ensuing battle for Prowst’s ownership was fierce, nevertheless, and attracted the attention of both heaven and hell.

The angels of heaven drew a deep, anxious breath all at once, when they saw what was going on, which encouraged God’s eyebrows to disappear into the ample foliage of His eternally fashionable mop of grey hair. And the Devil, who had been keeping an eye on the orphan child, should chance have it that the toy be returned to her, let the pitifully wailing man – whose anus he was skilfully remodelling with a red-hot poker – slip from His grip.

A fanfare of trumpets heralded the descent of angels, which was accompanied by the booming voice of God, who demanded, in no uncertain terms, for the angels to tell Him what on Earth they had been up to.

Angels flew through the grand old windows of the care home, to a symphony of breaking glass, while the Devil’s horned head broke through the tiled floor of the care home’s dormitory, where the fight between the orphan girl and Jorem was still in full swing.

The care home’s staff swooned, fainted and defecated, as the Devil rose towards the dormitory’s lofty ceiling with His child in His arms, who stared at all present with a hatred no one on Earth had ever witnessed. Giant snot bubbles began to form in Lucifer Junior’s flaming, flaring nostrils as he shrieked;

“THAT’S MY FUCKING TOY! GIVE IT BACK, YOU CUNTING TOSSERS!”

“Now, now” – said God, who had just stepped through a broken window and into the dormitory – “mind your language!”

“NEVERMIND HIS FUCKING LANGUAGE!” – the Devil roared – “YOUR BASTARD ANGELS STOLE MY SON’S TEDDY!”

“Is that true?” – God asked the angels, who had huddled together in a group, with their heads bowed in shame.

“Well …. Yes …. technically speaking, we did” – Archangel Gabriel replied – “but ....”

“BUT, BUT! LISTEN TO MY BUT!” – God roared, at the top of His considerable voice.

“Stealing is a sin! Return the toy to the child at once!”

“But .…” – reasoned Gabriel.

All of a sudden, Lucifer Junior’s bubbles burst, showering God and the heavenly entourage with piping hot snot.

“NOW!” – God growled, while wiping slime from His smarting eyes with the hem of Gabriel’s robe. “I…. AM …. LOSING…. MY…. PATIENCE!”

“Well, whether rightly or wrongly, it belongs to Jorem now, so perhaps we should ask him if he will give it back, and to whom it should be returned” – Gabriel mused, before his attention wandered to wondering if there was a washing powder in all of heaven that would remove the Antichrist’s son’s snot from the robes of angels.

Once God, the angels, the Devil and His son had managed to break up the fierce battle between Jorem and the orphan girl, they explained the predicament to them, and asked Jorem who Prowst’s owner should be.

After a great deal of deliberation, Jorem silently placed Prowst in the orphan girl’s hands.

“WHAT THE FUCK!” – the Devil screamed. “THAT’S NOT FUCKING FAIR!”

God and the angels took a step backwards, when they saw snot bubbles beginning to form in Lucifer Junior’s nostrils again, and intermittent jets of steam erupting from his rounded, burning cheeks.

Fsssst! Fsssst! Fsssst! Fsssst!

“HA HA HA! YOU’RE CRYING!”– The Devil mocked.

“NO! I’M FUCKING WELL NOT, DAD!” – Lucifer Junior shrieked.

“YOU’RE LYING!” – the Devil screeched, and then, as an afterthought – “good boy!”

“I’M NOT LYING!” – the Devil’s son retorted, loudly. “Or am I?” – he added, with a smoky sniffle.

At that moment, the orphan girl reached towards Lucifer Junior and placed Prowst in his eager, hotly glowing grasp. The bubbles receded into His nostrils, and the fsssst’s became fst’s. The Devil’s eyebrows arched in surprise, while God’s fell from the ample foliage of His eternally fashionable mop of grey hair and into their rightful place.

“Ah, good! All’s well that ends well!” – God said, while casting a sideways glance towards the Devil. He knew Lucifer well, of course, and felt quite certain He saw tears sparkling – for the briefest moment – in His fiery eyes, and therefore wondered whether Lucifer’s action of rubbing His eyes with the backs of His hands, as though to express fatigue, was performed to disperse wisps of steam. And Lucifer’s son; did He really smile kindly at the orphan girl – for a fraction of a second, amidst a seemingly eternal sneer – or was that a figment of God’s imagination, generated by wishful thinking?

These events happened quite recently, so only time can tell whether the Devil will spend more time wreaking evil on Earth and tormenting sinners in hell, now that He doesn’t have to spend so much time comforting His son, or whether the experience has made Him and Lucifer Junior kinder kind of demons.

Jorem and the orphan girl have become the best of friends, and spend much of their time creating soft toys for the children of the care home, from rolled up pieces of toilet paper, feathers and strips of fabric – held together with gaffer tape and Sellotape – while the care home has become a much nicer place for the children to live in, since the staff were quite moved by Jorem’s and the orphan girl’s gestures of kindness.

All in all, the world has become a better place since the creation of Prowst. Love has spread from Prowst to the outer reaches of heaven, and perhaps even to the blazing depths of hell, which would not have been so if Prowst had not been made with love, and given to evil with love.

Love has the power to change the world, and perhaps it may be said that one cannot underestimate or fathom the power of love. Let’s hope there will be increasingly more gestures of love, so the world will be the paradise it is supposed to be, one day, for all who live, and will live.
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