In other news, I'm working on a new book, new website and a horsemeat related blog post. More details as and when.
On the scale of going wrong, this had hit eleven.
Barry had been expecting trouble. Nothing ever went smoothly. But this? It should have been so easy. Break in, explore, and then get out.
How was he to know February the fourth was a sacred day in the Free-Cutter’s calendar? Their annual meeting no less. The Memorial Hall was empty over three hundred days a year, but it was now rammed wall to wall with Free-Cutters.
After entering, Barry and his accomplice, special agent ZX82, had paused in silence, mouths ajar, taking in the oak beams supporting the high roof, the mysterious floor pattern carved into granite blocks and the symbols adorning the walls. Decades, even centuries of historic and sinister meetings oozed from its foundations.
Now hidden in a dark cupboard off the main hall, Barry nervously scratched his arm. He’d been exploring with ZX82 when they heard the front door open. The panic had been instant from both of them. Barry had chosen the nearest cupboard and ZX82 was last seen heading across the hall to the larger cupboard.
One by one, Free-Cutters had entered. A small hole in the woodwork had given Barry a view of the room. There were now at least twenty people mingling about. If asked for a quick estimate, he thought none would be impressed by their illegal entry.
The conversations died down. A single hand clap was heard. Barry’s heart beat faster than he thought possible.
A voice spoke, “Brethren, welcome, by the grace of Ali-Catarri, third overlordum of the Free-Cutters.”
The assembled throng replied en masse, “Verily, we is welcomed.”
Though disgusted by their poor grammar, Barry was spellbound by the power of the voices. He was witnessing something very private. The pieces were finally falling in place.
A different, more powerful voice spoke. “On thus special day, we is bound by the workings of Cumtata.”
The masses shouted, “Cumtata.”
The man continued, “Cumtata, Overlordum of Sepitata. Me offers you the ball of thanks.”
Barry froze, remembering the old, much-used leather football he’d seen earlier in the other cupboard. ZX82’s cupboard. Not usually a betting man, he’d have taken any odds on it being this ‘Ball of Thanks.’ Barry shifted himself around the eye-hole, a Free-Cutter approach the cupboard.
The masses cried, “Ball of thanks,” repeatedly.
The cupboard door squeaked as it opened. The Free-Cutter, naked from the waist up, except for a trilby hat adorned with yellow feathers, looked into the cupboard, saw agent ZX82 and said, “What the fuck?”