The Devil & Georges Servan Aballaird – Part Four

Posted: November 18, 2014 in Short stories, starts & writing, The Devil & Georges Servan Aballaird
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Bladder & Trident

I shall never forget that feeling. His slimy, rigid skin moving under the grip of my shivering hands. Royalist or revolutionary it was impossible to tell, but I could feel his waterlogged flesh move, far too much of it, over his mortified bones and tendons. His body was coming apart and the tissue of his hands and forearms felt like it could come away in a solid sheet at any moment. I thank the Almighty it did not and will curse the Devil forevermore for contriving to place me into such a heinous undertaking.Dragging Georges through the shallows I felt something hard at his breast and there, tied in a bundle and secreted away in the lining of his tunic, I found a number of letters and a thin leather-bound book, a kind of journal or log.  Although I knew not a word of French and a number of the pages were illegible, the ink having run, I was able to discern a name. Repeated many times in both the letters and the journal I saw a woman’s name.
Mathrine. Mathrine Lacombe. A mother or a lover or something else altogether? It was a delicious mystery and quickly had me daydreaming out in space. So too the final journal entry, which was but a single line. Two clipped sentences that meant nothing to me. “Les carottes sont cuites,” it read. “Je suis perdu.”
While I sat pondering these words and lost in my thoughts, which it must be said were just as foamy and meaningless to me as the waves on this foreign shore, a peasant woman had appeared on the beach only a short distance away. By now the tide had receded somewhat and Georges’ body lay slumped, reflected in the wet sand about five yards from the rock on which I was sitting. I looked up from the journal to watch the woman walk towards me. She was handsomely put together and a sudden clear thought formed in my head; here was a strong and intelligent soul. She moved toward me with purpose and so openly and forward that I admit I was momentarily taken aback.
“Mon dieu! Plus de morts,” the woman said as she approached. “Tante plus de cadavres.”
She had long dark hair that fell from an azure cap and which bustled about in the wind around her cloaked shoulders. The cloak, short and with a small collar, was a deep mineral green, woven from something stiff and heavy looking, like burlap. She wore a dark blue smock over a russet apron and blue-green skirts that dragged on the ground, hiding her feet, and she carried a long wooden pitch-fork. The crudely carved trident in one hand, she used the other to hold a cloth sack over her shoulder.
As she got closer she looked at me and her mournful expression flickered briefly into one of surprise.
“Oh,” she said as she brought the sack from her shoulder. “C’est vous qui devez avoir soif,” she said.
I didn’t respond, for her words were completely nonsensical to me; I just watched as she knelt down, placing the pitch fork on the ground by her side and opening the cloth sack to take out a leathery bladder.
“Eh, la mort ça donne soif,” she said, proffering the bladder.
It seemed an age since I had tasted anything other than the bleeding English Channel so I raised the bladder in cheers to the woman and gave her a look I hoped conveyed the gravity of the sincerity and gratitude I felt toward her generosity.
“Jaune,” she said. “Jaune, jaune.”
“Yes, shorn, shorn. Thank you. And bless you,” I said.
I took a deep draught, expecting wine or ale, but tasted nothing but brightness and cool serenity instead. Had I a crumb of caution about me perhaps I would have been more inclined to hum and haw and hesitate, to check with my own grog-blossomed muzzle for the hint of claret or foamy beer and not hemlock or before lifting the bladder and going bang-pitchers like I did. But you don’t spend as much time as I had done, sodden and unconscious from too much drink. All those many… How long? Never mind!
When boozing becomes your life I suppose you learn not to turn away a single drop, no matter what it may be.
So here I was, guzzling away, forgetting my fatigue and anxiety. With a drink in my hand and my feet firmly on the ground I did not care a curse. That is, until I noticed all the sky turning black. At least, the blue parts that weren’t concealed by cloud that is. And a rummin’ bad pain that was steadily growing in my side. And the woman who was staring at me now with a look of such disconcerting intensity that I took the bladder away from my mouth and let the hand in which I held it fall to my side.
The sky was getting blacker, the pain in my side more painful and an ever increasing high-pitched buzz began to drown out the thunder in the east. Then the woman suddenly started shouting.
“Par l’huile de naphte et goudron et soufre et beaucoup de feu tu va complètement disparaitre,” she yelled and the pain and the noise and the darkness all became one as I felt myself tumble off the edge of the world.

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Comments
  1. the Bonnes says:

    How long do we stay in suspense Shaun?

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