Take One Head And Call Me In The Morning...

By Lariel


This is just harmless fun. But on Halloween, all things are possible. If you find yourself in typically spooky woods, near an archetypally creepy castle on the 31st Oct, please be careful.

Much to their disgust, I have to thank all the ghouls & gals on the Bardic Circle.

Write to me...if you dare!!! Bwahahahaha!! Lariel_a@Hotmail.com


Part I:

It was a typical, spooky night. Pitch dark, moonless and with only the slight scattering of starlight to cast grinning shadows and wavering light across the gloomy terrain. Oh, and the lightening. Mustn’t forget the enormous bolts of forked lightning that split the sky every ten or so minutes, accompanied by ground shaking, bone jellifying thunder. Important for setting the dramatic mood, forked lightning and thunder.

So - the typical spooky night. Bats circled, their wings beating the air like...eggs. (Well, eggs get beaten, don’t they?), casting spectres of impenetrable blackness as they hunted their prey. They were insect eating bats, which kinda takes the dramatic sting out of it, but let’s use our imaginations for a moment and pretend they were BLOOD SUCKING BATS!!! Go with me on this.

Now, what else is there on a typical spooky night? Well, there wasn’t much else here really...most of the area was dense woodland, with trees twisted and gnarled like old men’s legs. (Good one that, eh?) The only sounds to be heard were the agonised groaning and creaking as the trees moved in the howling wind, the hooting of an owl, the pounding of the bat’s wings and the eerie keening coming from the deserted, archetypally creepy castle on top of the hill. (For those of you who need a more visual image, just think, ‘Psycho house with towers.’ Okay?)

The turrets of the castle thrust upward into the cloaking black sky, like skeletal fingers groping for the stars. Naturally, the place was in total darkness, except for all the rooms, which had lighted candles flickering in the windows. So, really, the place cast quite a lot of light. Looked quite cosy really, but uhhh...still threatening, in a very "bathed in candlelight" way.

Enough scene setting? Please say yes.

The strange, almost ethereal keening continued; it sounded like a soul being rent in two, or having to pay it’s rent. Either way, it was pretty agonised, and soon ended with a wail and an incomprehensible muttering. Another lightning bolt forked, and the voice began its wordless howling once more.

Deep inside the dank bowels of the castle, other strange noises can be heard, accompanying the painful keening. Possibly it wasn’t painful to its originator - in fact, she seemed to be rather getting off on it - but trust me, it was bloody painful to any omnipotent third person narrators who happened to be lying around the place. <sigh> An orchestra of banging, and clanking, and grinding and whirring...and gasping and giggling and panting and...other noises that could only be described as lascivious.

In a very "I am the narrator and can do anything I want to" way, we move through the solid oak door, where we enter a brightly lit chamber full of strange mechanical workings, a large table and general chaos. In the centre of the room, leaning over the table, was the strange occupant of the castle. It wasn’t hers - she’d just moved in about fifteen years ago, mumbling something about "possession being nine tenths of the law, and if you’ve got a problem with that, buddy, just move your fat ass before I hack it off ya!"

The rightful owners (who had never stopped trying to regain their rightful home - mainly because they’d never started) had hightailed it outta there without even packing a change of underwear. Dirty things. Never argue with a formidable looking, dark haired woman swathed in a black cloak and mumbling, with a crazed look in her odd blue eyes, "I need my bard back!!!"

And there she was; wild hair flying all around the room (some of it was even on her head) mumbling away and...yes, there was even the requisite string of drool creeping out of the corner of her mouth. What a truly scary sight she was, dressed in that blood soaked apron, wielding a needle and thread and with manic blue eyes, staring intently at the surface of the table, where she’d apparently just finished hemming something.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t sewing a skirt.

"Aha!!" She tossed the needle carelessly aside, and wiped her gore smeared fingers on her apron, heedless of the angry red marks it left on the rough, once white material. "Almost there. Soon, my love...soon!!."

She jumped as the room was pierced by another bolt of vivid white light, and the booming roll of thunder echoed through the eerie castle. "Yes, the storm...the storm! It will complete my plans..." She dashed over to a complex looking collection of levers and cogs set against the far wall, and twiddled around with a few. There was a long, low groaning as the mechanism slowly started to move. "Hmmm. Needs a drop of oil."

With a "twang" and a "boing", the wheels ground to a rusty halt, and the drooling woman cursed roundly, and shook her fist at the contraption. "Damn you, Contraption!" She kicked it, and one of the handles fell off. "GODDAM!!!"

She rushed back over to the table, and surveyed its badly assembled contents. "Never mind, my love. I have to oil the machinery, and get you a head. Still - I’m sure there’ll be a storm tomorrow. I have a feeling..." And with a final cackle, she staggered off to the kitchen, to raid the drinks cabinet.

What - you’re surprised to find out she drinks?

The long night wore on, as nights generally do, and the witching hour found our heroine (can I call her that?) lying on the floor of her workshop, stretched out underneath the table and completely pissed out of her brain. The thunder and lightning had abated, and the wind had died down significantly; now, instead of screaming like all the souls in hell, it merely sounded like the whisperings of a lost lover.

Or at least, that’s what it sounded like to one extremely tiddly mad woman who had once been a very well respected noblewoman around these parts, and a not half bad warrior in her heyday too. Until she’d gotten the hump. Short tempers had run in her blue blooded family, you see, and the Lady Xena had revelled in hers until one day, a small blonde strolling minstrel had laughed at her mighty sulks and shouting, and had soothed the raving beast within by a few well chosen words. Well, I say a few...

It was Gabrielle, after all.

So there she lay, snivelling on the floor in a pool of her own dribble, and raving on about her plans for the future. See what can happen when you lose your bard? Completely oblivious to all around her, apart from the jumbled mess on the table, and pathetically trying to wring the last errant drops of gin from one of the many bottles that lay scattered around her.

The sturdy door swung open with a creak, and in hobbled her hunchbacked, elderly manservant. (Of course he has a hump. He has straggly, wispy hair and one tooth in his head. Have I missed anything? Okay - we’ll give him a glass eye too.) He tottered in, balancing a tray carefully on one hand, and placed it on the table. It was a different table. There wasn’t much space left on The Table, and by this stage, Lady Xena had thrown herself on top of the mess of remains on The Table, and was wailing,

"Tomorrow, my sweet - we shall be together at last!"

"Milady...your gin." His voice creaked, and there was a definite tinge of ‘maggots crawling through the cadaver’ about it.

"Ah, Bentley! Thank you!! Did you bring two glasses?"

"Yes, Milady," he intoned, and by somehow miraculously balancing the gin and two glasses in his bent and crabbed hands, he limped his way over. (He has a withered leg. Did I mention that?) "For whom is the second glass?"

"Why, for her, of course!" The Lady Xena tenderly stroked the breast of the body upon which she was splayed. She was rather pleased with it - the stitches were holding up really well, and it was a bigger chest than her much-missed original had enjoyed, but she had often wished that Gabrielle had been more of a handful in certain places.

"Milady, she has no head."

"I know!!!" Madness etched on her face, the black haired woman stared intensely into the far distance. Actually, she was eyeing up the gin bottle, but that doesn’t sound nearly so poetic. Or Gothic. "It could prove a problem."

"Madame, when will we be expecting Lady Gabrielle to...join us, as it were?"

"As soon as I get her a head, Bentley, I can progress with the plan. I have created my beloved bard!!! We shall be together again, for all eternity!! And she is ALL MINE!!!! BWAHAHAHAHA!!!"

"Very nice, Milady. Shall I pour?"

"Please do. Forget the glass...just tip the bottle..."

Several contented glugs later, and the fevered blue burning of the preternaturally sparkling eyes had dulled to their normal level of brightness. The completely smashed out of her skull woman stretched out next to the almost completed female form on The Table top, and her fingers traced the chalk outline of the missing head.

"But it has to be THE right head, Bentley. I can’t have any old head stuck on my Gabrielle. I need - well, I need Gabrielle’s head!"

"She has been dead rather a long time, Milady," the butler intoned, his voice sounding like the bell chiming at the gates of hell.

"I know THAT, you damn hunched up old fool!!!! Taken before her time...at her prime! Life is soooo unfair!!!" She took another giant swig of gin, and continued. "Taken before I could tell her how much I loved her! Before we could know the true pleasures of the flesh, and touch each other’s souls!!! And other pertinent body parts!!!" Her eyes gleamed with calculating desire. "Now I have assembled those pertinent body parts...all I need is the spark of life and we will know true happiness!!!"

"So, I’m on head watch again tonight then, I suppose?" The old butler sighed, already massaging his hump as he thought of hours spent patrolling the woods, sitting on damp leaves and chasing away unidentified small creatures as they tried to burrow into his crotch.

"Yup. You know the drill - long blonde hair, beautiful blue or sometimes green eyes - ideally one of each! Fair skin, so soft..and cheeks like little chipmunks! Just take the drawing, and you’ll be fine."

Bentley sighed again. The drawing was so old and so worn now - and so badly done anyway. The Lady Xena couldn’t count drawing as one of her many skills. She was fairly good at reanimating dead bodies though, he thought, as he bent down to tickle the cat behind its ears. An early experiment of the loopy Lady, and quite a successful one. In spite of the putrid stench that accompanied it everywhere.

"Very well, Milady." He pronounced, and slowly shuffled his way out of the room, leaving a cackling Lady Xena behind to admire her creation from up close.


Part II:

Now, let us skip through the next day (I can do that - I am the omnipotent narrator) because daylight activities have no place in a tale of evil and despair.

Okay - picture this; it’s dark again - the sort of darkness which pushes up against your eyes and makes you panic. Let’s throw in a bit of lightning for good measure (we kinda need the storm - it’s a plot device) and...what else? Bats, owls, big furry black spiders, wolves howling...yadda yadda. That’s enough scene setting.

A rustling and crashing noise shatters the silence, which was already broken by the sound of voices. So, all things considered, it was pretty noisy out there tonight. A group of teenagers - <shivers> Teenagers! Now there’s a truly scary concept! - push their way through the close packed trees, sending spiders skittering in all directions. (Don’t you just hate spiders? I do.)

"Ew!! Something touched my face!" squeaked one curly haired girl.

"Spider’s webs!" shrieked a rather effeminate boy. (Not that we judge on appearances - we third person narrators don’t need to. We Already Know Everything.) He brushed off his sleeve and scrabbled at his face as the ghostly threads clung to his soft, wimpy looking cheek.

A blonde girl, taller than the others, laughed contemptuously. "Oh Julian, you are a pathetic wimp! They’re only spider’s webs - they won’t hurt you."

"They might be killer spiders! My dad said that he knew a woman who knew a man, who knew a horse who..."

"Honestly, you’re all pathetic!"

The girl spat out her favourite word of the moment. It was one of those expressions that catches on with the Teen audience, like "yo’ momma is an orange seller to the King!" and "speak to the hand, wench, cos the ears are no longer hearing your rather verbose words..." That’s the eighteenth century youth of today for you.

Anyway, the girl continued. "If you’re so scared now, you’ll never be able to spend a night in the haunted castle!" With definite triumph in her finger, she pointed to the house high on the hill. Two pairs of frightened eyes followed.

"It’s scary out here in the dark!" complained Bethany (I guess we should give her a name, although she doesn’t survive very much longer. Oops - forget I said that, okay?) Bethany’s outfit of choice for this fine night consisted of a long, flowing brown skirt, which went very tastefully with her red jacket. RED JACKET!! "I’m not sure this is such a good idea, Callista."

The older, taller and generally meaner looking blonde (heh) scoffed openly. "Oh, what do you think’s gonna happen? You think the big scary monsters are gonna come get you??" She made scary faces and "rrraaarrr" noises, and laughed as the other two cried. "Wusses." she pronounced, with stunning finality. She was the kind of girl who inspired stunning finality.

"I’m tired," Julian continued crying. Well, he was only nineteen. And a wuss. "And cold. Can’t we stop for a while?"

"I guess." Callista relented. "Where’s Gabriella?"

"I dunno. She was back there somewhere. Why’d we have to have her following us around? She’s just a kid - she’s a pain." Adhering to age old unwritten teenage laws, Bethany whined and sulked as only an adolescent can (she was seventeen) and pouted again. Callista slapped her, and pouted more. Callista always won the pouting competitions.

Victory assured, she grabbed their arms and dragged then slightly off the beaten track (they’d beaten it themselves) and into a tiny clearing, where pretty soon they had a merry little fire going and were happily snuggled round it, telling ghost stories as the flames made gargoyles of their faces. Probably telling stories about mad, axe wielding murdering psychos who stalk the woods for wussy teenagers to hack to death. Coincidence, eh?

Callista had just got to the crescendo of a particularly gory tale, when the sound of a branch snapping shocked them into silence. Moments later, a small blonde fell out from behind the trees.

"There you are!" the scary apparition said, waving a notebook around. Well, she wasn’t scary - more cute really, but that can be scary too! "Why did you run off like that? I couldn’t find you."

"And we had such hopes." mumbled Callista, earning admiring snickers from her gullible, easily led and completely disposable fellows.

"How am I supposed to write down all our adventures if you keep running off on me?"

"Gee, I dunno Gab."

We could stay with the squabbling, but we’ve all been there. Of course, what our intrepid foursome don’t know, is that perched high above them in the tree is Bentley. (You want to know how a limping, half blind hunchback got up there? Why? Let’s just say that - like his mistress - he has many skills.) He is, you’ll remember, on headwatch duty tonight. You do remember, don’t you? There’s a test at the end, you know.

So there he is, perched amidst the swaying branches and peering forlornly at the tattered scrap of paper in his hand. He had spotted two blondes (which is always one too many), looked again at the drawing, and scratched his bulbous head.

Then, after a moment’s deliberation, he sighed, "Oh, sod it." and jumped down from the tree gracefully, his long black frock coat acting as a kind of evil parachute.

Shall I skip over the next bit? How about if I just detail the salient points...teenagers screaming, their throats raw with terror...the gallons of blood...faceless evil stalking through the black and twisted trees...the severed limbs...the forked lightning casting a relentless silver light over the desperate fleeing of the victims...the hideously brutal death of Bethany Redshirt (as was her full name)...the endless entrails...

Nah, let’s just cut to the chase and say that eventually, Bentley got fed up, bopped the two blondes on the head and dragged them off to the castle. His mistress was waiting.

Can we have a thunder roll, some more lightning and some really creepy background music please? Thank you so much.

No-one ever found Bethany Redshirt’s body. And the whereabouts of Julian were forever a mystery, although not long after this incident, down at the docks there emerged the harlot extraordinaire Juliette, who was renowned for her deep, sexy voice and six o’clock shadow. Experiences like this can change a boy...into something else...entirely.


Part III:

"But there’s two of ‘em!!" Lady Xena waved the empty gin bottle at the two tied up and cowering girls, and then tottered back over to The Table to inspect the dearly beloved that was gathered there. She’d spent the entire day tidying up the torso, putting the finishing touches to the breasts and generally doing some nipping and tucking while she had the chance - all in readiness for the arrival of The Head.

"I wasn’t sure which you’d prefer, Milady." intoned the hideously stooped old butler. He noticed the angry glint creeping into one bloodshot eye, and added hastily, "I thought you’d appreciate a choice, since it is...the head."

"Good thinking! Even though I don’t pay you to think." She pointed a wavering finger at him, as her face took on a thoughtful expression.

"You don’t pay me at all, you tight arsed old skinflint," he muttered, as he prised the empty bottle from her vice-like grip and replaced it with a fresh one.

"Okay!" She glugged speculatively for a while, and got the familiar drunken gleam back in her eye once more. "So, time to choose the face of my fair one...who looks most like my bard? Hmm...you both look pretty much alike..." it was difficult for her to see properly, squinting away, as there seemed to be three of everything. "Never mind...eeny, meeny...miny...mo.." She finished her ‘dip’, and fate chose her head.

"Noooooo!!!!!!" screamed Gabriella.

"Shut up, you...unless you want me to choose you instead?"

The younger girl (she was of indeterminate age, of course) gulped. "No, please - take her head. She’s a rotten sister and a right old moody cow too."

"Why you little...!!!!" Her older sister Callista let rip a stream of invectives that belied her tender years. Actually, her years weren’t that tender, and neither was she. After years of being psychologically tortured by her older and much more twisted sister, Gabriella was kinda relieved now to be seeing the back of her. Or the head of her. Whatever.

Lady Xena stopped slurping and directed a level gaze (as best she could) at the filthy mouthed teen. "My word," she said. "You’ve got a mouth on you. My bard used to have a mouth - and she will again!! I need my bard’s mouth!!" And the hapless Callista was dragged, kicking and cursing, to The Table, whereupon she was quickly and professionally deprived of her crowning glory.

Let’s not go into the gory details, okay?

Oh? You want the gory details? My god...what kind of sick reader are you???

With a speed which spoke of great skill and loads of practise..."don’t worry, kid. I’ve done this heaps of times...", the wild haired woman tacked the head onto its waiting body, and secured it in place with a big bolt through the neck.

Whooping and cackling, she staggered over to a shelf, upon which lay several huge jars with indescribably hideous things floating in them, and cables attached to them. She picked one up, read a label and whooped again.

"My bard’s brain!!"

The aforementioned item, which had been pickled for just this occasion, was promptly squashed into its newly vacant receptacle, and the skull was once again fastened into place. The stitching was unavoidable, but was as discreet as fine embroidery skills, honed by hours of practise as the many samplers festooning the walls testified ("There’s No Place Like Home" and the alphabet seemed particularly popular) could make them. Although Gabriella did think that perhaps the choice of bright orange thread was a trifle bold

Should I just mention, as the all-knowing narrator, that a loopy, slightly pissed and very fervent former noblewoman is the last person who should be making crucial choices like "which brain goes in?" based on reading small and badly written labels in a dark and dingy cellar?

So there she goes, skittering over to the contraption, throwing the levers and sending the freshly oiled wheels surging into life. And - oddly enough - thunder and lightning chose that very moment to appear on the scene. In fact, the lightning came right into the room, and flashed around her head, making it a very atmospheric moment indeed. She stood in the midst, cackling and hollering and generally looking...well, scarily mad, I suppose.

"There, my love!!!" she screamed, "Tonight is ours!! I give you...<dramatic pause, massive clap of thunder and zig-zag of lightning> LIFE!!!! Bwahahahahaha!!!"

Yes, you’ve guessed it.

The castle echoed to the triumphant peals of delighted laughter, and Gabriella’s disappointed screams.


Part IV:

"Ahh, the Lady Xena. How very good to see you again. It’s been so long." Callista (or whoever the hell she was now) chuckled, as she sat on the side of The Table, and waved her legs around. One of them dropped off, which caused a moment of panic all round.


"What?" Gabriella, completely panic stricken, looked at Xena in confusion.

"What?" Xena looked right back. "Shut it, shortie. I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to my bard!"

"Will somebody untie me, please?" The girl’s plaintive cry went unheeded, as Callista/Whatever sashayed over to where Xena was propping up the counter. And have you ever seen a former cadaver sashay? I didn’t think so!

"Gabrielle!" The rampant noblewoman’s eyes took on a definite gleam. "I missed ya, sweetie!"

"Really?" The recently resuscitated being replied, suavely. "You never wrote."

"I was kinda busy, assembling... C’mere - give us a kiss!!" The lips puckered, and loomed towards the newborn woman. Hmm - can I call it a woman? I mean, strictly speaking, does it count as a woman? Biologically? Legally?

"Xena...I’ve waited so long for this moment. All through the many years of waiting, pickling in that jar, watching you sink further into madness and become the sodden wretch that you are now...a wreck of your former magnificent self! It nearly killed me, Xena." She reached out with a barely attached finger, and gently (well, she thought it was gentle anyway) ran the tip down Lady Xena’s red cheek.

"I know, sweetie! I wanted you - even pickled, and just a brain! I used to take you out, and gently stroke your cheek...y bits, wherever they are on a brain, and wish that I could just hold you again. I missed you Gabrielle! See what I’ve become without you?"

"I do indeed see, my dear. And that’s what got to me the most. I couldn’t bear to watch you fall deeper into the mire of your own insanity." A wicked grin lit up the formerly pretty features of Callista. "BECAUSE I WANTED TO SEND YOU THERE MYSELF!!!!! Bwahahahaha!!!"

"<gasp> Gabrielle? What are you saying?" The dark haired former noblewoman reeled back in dread.

"We’re gonna spend an eternity together, Xena. Won’t that be fun?" Callista leaned over, and gave Lady Xena a really nasty Chinese burn. Then, for good measure, she snogged her deeply, and even used her tongue. Oh, the unspeakable horror!

There were more gasps as the Lady’s own pickled brain tried to grasp what was going on. A faint lightbulb eventually found enough electrical current in the said brain, and switched itself on, albeit somewhat weakly. She dashed very slowly over to the shelf, and grabbed the now empty jar. She screwed up her eyes in shock. "In God’s name! <yet more gasping> You’re not Gabrielle!"

"Ha ha!! Ya got that right!! Wanna play, Xena??"

"Oh my God! I’ve put the wrong brain in!!! Nooooo...my arch enemy The Contessa di Callisto!!"

"You gave me life again, Xena. I suppose I should be thanking you." Unexpectedly, she reached round behind and pulled a dagger. (Where the hell did that come from??) She twirled it airily. "Instead, I think I’ll kill you."

"WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE UNTIE ME????" screamed poor Gabriella, as she watched the grotesque form of (parts of) her erstwhile sister lurch across the room and lunge at the addled noblewoman. Luckily, her aim was a little off (arms not quite functioning properly - probably a crossed wire) and she stopped, hands over her ears at all the yelling.

"Oi! You - shut it, shorty! This head remembers how really annoying you are."

Gabriella shut up, really really quickly.

The Contessa continued with her lurching and lunging. Luckily, that loose leg of hers kinda got in the way of her evil plans, and she ended up running around in a little circle. So she started throwing daggers and other surgical implements at the Lady. The sewing machine nearly had Bentley’s eye out, but it was his glass one, so it didn’t really matter.

"C’mon guys - let’s get out of here!" shouted Xena, stopping only to untie Gabriella and pick up her last half full bottle of gin. "She’s the mind of a sadistic mass murderer, trapped in the body of a bloody teenager! It’s a lethal combination!"

All three bolted out of that room as fast as their legs could carry them, leaving the animated remains of the Contessa weaving around in frustration as she tried to sew her own leg back on more securely.

Lady Xena took them on a frantic tour of the castle; through echoing tunnels they ran, down winding secret passageways and through cobweb laden corridors until they ended up in the wine cellar.

"We’ll be safe here," she panted, as she started barricading the doors with some empty wine racks. There seemed to be a lot of empty wine racks, Gabriella noticed. "Didja bring a corkscrew, Bentley?"

"No, Milady."

"Noooooo!!!!!!!!!! The HORROR!!!" The black haired Lady’s anguished voice bounced around the gloomy and poky room.

Gabriella, who in spite of her small stature and angelic appearance, was quite a tough sort underneath it all, poked the gibbering former noblewoman in the ribs. "Will you just pull yourself together! My sister’s down there with the brain of an evil genius and the body of what looks like three Olympic shotputt champions sewn together. Where on earth did you get that stomach from?"

"My bard had fantastic abs." The distraught scientific mastermind snivelled.

"Never mind about your bard!" At the woman’s aghast face, she kinda lost it a bit. "It’s your obsession with this dead bard that’s got my sister killed...kinda, and us locked in this cellar..."

"...with no wine...!!"

"..and we could be next! So stop dithering, and get us out of this mess you’ve gotten us all into!" She finished, firmly smacking the Lady’s hand to further illustrate the point of how Pissed Off she was. As if further emphasis could be made, they heard a distant banging.

"<Gasp!> She’s out of the laboratory!" Lady Xena’s face paled, underneath all the healthy tan. "Quick, there’s no time to loose!"

"What are you going to do?" Gabriella asked, eagerly.


"No!!" Gabriella slapped her, and enjoyed it so much that she did it again. It felt right - kinda...deserved, almost. So she did it a third time, just for luck. Soon, Lady Xena had two big red hand prints on her already rosy cheeks. "Oh, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me. Did I hurt you?"

"Yeah." Xena snivelled in a most un-noblewoman like way. "It’s been a while since anyone touched me. I’d kinda forgotten what warm flesh feels like...you know, before tonight, I only had my creation downstairs for company. And she wasn’t very talkative. Of course, she didn’t have a mouth for most of the time, but even so..."

"Quite chatty, for a taciturn former noblewoman, aren’t you?" The small blonde, blue and green eyed teenager observed. The Lady gave her a small smile; they all started in shock as they heard pounding above them, and the unmistakable ripping sounds of a door being torn off its hinges.

"Hmm. Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the arms and legs of the Olympic shotputt squad..." mused the wild eyed woman.

"Look, she’s your creation, and your arch enemy’s brain. What will destroy her?"

"She seems pretty cut up now..."

"No, I meant actually destroy her...what will kill her. Again?"

"Poison? Well, I guess not...chopping her up doesn’t seem to work...aha!!!" Her eyes gleamed with a fevered light, and an expression of absolute, manic triumph spread over her crazed features. "Fire!!!"

"Right, well that’s it then." Gabriella seized command of the situation superbly. "We’ll have to torch the place."

"Torch my castle? Not bloody likely!"

"Do you have a better suggestion?" the girl asked, deceptively sweetly.

"We could wait till she falls asleep, and then light a little bonfire under her."

"We don’t even know if she needs sleep! No, there’s no other way. Get those candles...is there a way out of here?"

"No. Only the secret passage that leads to every floor, and the tunnel that goes under the garden. We’re doomed - we’re all doomed!!" The gin-sodden woman was off again; well, what was a girl to do? She had to be slapped again. Repeatedly.

Gabriella handed out lit candles, and bundled some unlit ones into her skirt waist as extra ammunition. With a flickering candle in each hand, she rose slowly to her feet, looking a bit like Buffy at her season one best, with Bentley and Lady Xena standing slightly behind her, and pronounced dramatically,

"Let’s go. It’s time to kick Undead Ass!"


Part V:

It’s time for a bit more atmosphere. You remember the scene so far, don’t you?

The twisted spires of the castle, thrusting upwards like the souls in hell climbing towards the skies, surrounded by gnarled trees, shadows grinning from every corner and lightning cracking across the sky like a whip.

The three figures gathered on the lawn watched as the fires they had kindled blazed quickly to life. Lady Xena sobbed as her creation and her spooky castle were slowly consumed by the merciless, cleansing flames. Callista Thingy had made her way up to the roof, and could now be seen haloed against the orange firelight, sparks flying all around her as she waved her arms and screeched obscenities down at them. Fruitlessly - pathetically - she tried to beat the flames out with her dress, and then her leg, but to no avail. There was No Escape.

Well, there was the fire escape, but being the deranged, dead madwoman that she was, she’d completely overlooked it.

The silence of the night was rent asunder by the crackling of the fire, and the wailing of the undead. "You’re killing your creation, Xena! My death will be on your conscience. I HOPE YOU CAN LIVE WITH YOURSELF????"

Xena tore her eyes away as her miracle of science became a fireball, and threw herself off the roof. Devastated, she looked at her cremated azaleas, and uttered, "Hey, at least I’m alive, roadkill." She rubbed her hands together, and turned to her companions. "That’s that sorted...now, who’s for a drink?"

"Are you alright?" Gabriella asked. She was such a nice kid, and worried about the pathetic wreck of humanity that was the Lady Xena. Don’t you just wanna take her home?

"Sure. I’m homeless again, but that won’t be a problem. There’s quite a nice flat I’ve had my eye on in the next town. Say, what’s your name kid?"


"<Gasp!!> What??" Her eyes lit up, and she grasped the small blonde’s elbow firmly. She scoured the young girl’s face with intense, crazed blue eyes, and drool started to gather at the corners of her mouth.

"Uhh...Esmerelda. Heh."

"Say, Gabriellda - fancy a drink? I know a tavern where they rent rooms by the hour. Has anyone ever told you that you have the most unusual eyes...??"

"Don’t get any ideas. I’m not your bard."

"Oh now, don’t be like that. C’mon..." The Lady slung an arm around the stiff shoulders of her reluctant companion. "Tell me a story, Gabriellda. Say, do you prefer being on top? Because I can go with anything...I’m liberal...fancy a bath, Gabriellda?"

"Don’t come near me with those hands. They’ve been in dead bodies. I hope you’ve washed them since...?"

And the two friends (can I call them that?) walked off, bathed in moonlight and covered in ash, Bentley shuffling along happily behind them.

None of them spared a glance back at the charred remains that lay in a heap in the azaleas...

<dramatic ‘there could be a sequel’ type music please!!!!!>


The End - for now? ..bwahahahaha

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