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Totally Made Up Tales

Totally Made Up Tales is improvised storytelling for the Internet. We record completely new stories without any advance planning, assembled into episodes of sinister, touching and whimsical tales for the discerning listener. Header photo is "Deep Dark Woods" by Connel Soutar, under CC-By on Flickr.
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Totally Made Up Tales is improvised storytelling for the Internet. We record completely new stories without any advance planning, assembled into episodes of sinister, touching and whimsical tales for the discerning listener.

May 15, 2017

Our first episode of tales set at sea and among sea-going folk: The Captain's Log, The Dark Gentleman, and other stories.

Music: Creepy — Bensound.com.

 

James: Here are some totally made up tales brought to you by the magic of the internet. First this episode: The Captain's Log.

James/Andrew (alternating)

Once, the Captain was writing a log entry when he noticed out the window that there was another ship following them. That seemed strange, because no one had charted these waters before him. He did what he would normally do when sighting another ship: he wrote down its bearing and approximate distance, and ordered the bosun to raise more sail in order to get distance between them.

After darkness had fallen, they changed course in order to lose them. Sailing in the darkness by dead of night, a ship felt like a world of its own. Gliding nearly silently through the black waters, crested with a rime of white catching the moonlight, the crew spoke softly in case they should be overheard by any other beings.

Sunrise brought a fresh breeze and no sign of the ship, but that very evening it appeared once more. At dusk it was gaining on them, but once darkness fell they changed course to avoid them. Sunrise came again and brought an empty horizon.

The third night a hush descended on the ship. You could hear a pin drop. From astern there came the sound of a woman crying. Her sobs rended the hearts of the men, so much was it a call to their own loneliness. "Beware!" cried the Captain. "'Tis a sprite!" But the men paid no heed, tacked the ship towards the sobbing, and tried to rescue her. One by one, they jumped into the water over the rail. One by one, they swam towards the heart-rending sound. And one by one, their sounds faded into nothingness. Finally only the Captain and the First Mate remained on the ship. "Don't you go in," said the Captain, but too late.

Come morning the boat was full of men once more — climbing up the mast, hanging from the spars, and scrubbing the deck. The Captain looked around in great surprise. Returning to his cabin, he made an entry in the log reading:

July Fourteenth. The crew have been replaced by fairies. God have mercy on my soul.

Seventeen years later, the floating hull was discovered by a Royal Navy vessel, which determined that the boat had been abandoned, and all aboard had perished.  They found the Captain's log, the final entry still wet.

 

James: Chase …

Andrew: Away …

James: Your …

Andrew: Demons …

James: By …

Andrew: Going …

James: To …

Andrew: Sea.

 

James: Make …

Andrew: Biscuits …

James: Using …

Andrew: Flour …

James: And …

Andrew: Weevils …

James: They'll …

Andrew: Taste …

James: Crunchy …

Andrew: And …

James: Delicious.

 

Andrew: Damp …

James: Will …

Andrew: Get …

James: Everywhere …

Andrew: When …

James: You …

Andrew: Are …

James: At …

Andrew: Sea.

That wasn't really a proverb; that was just a fact.

James: It was just a statement of fact.

 

Andrew: Rum …

James: And …

Andrew: Sodomy …

James: Neither …

Andrew: Are …

James: Welcome …

Andrew: In …

James: My …

Andrew: Navy.

James: Rum and sodomy. I mean it's really just the Georgian Navy's equivalent of 'Netflix and Chill.'

 

Setting …

Andrew: Sail …

James: From …

Andrew: Southampton …

James: We …

Andrew: Encountered …

James: Three …

Andrew: Witches …

James: Floating …

Andrew: On …

James: The …

Andrew: Surface …

James: Of …

Andrew: The …

James: Sea.

Andrew: One …

James: Told …

Andrew: Us …

James: That …

Andrew: Our …

James: Voyage …

Andrew: Would …

James: Be …

Andrew: Successful.

James: One …

Andrew: Told …

James: Us …

Andrew: That …

James: Our …

Andrew: Voyage …

James: Would …

Andrew: Be …

James: Traumatic.

Andrew: The …

James: Third …

Andrew: Told …

James: us …

Andrew: That …

James: Our …

Andrew: Voyage …

James: Would …

Andrew: Be …

James: Long.

Andrew: Which …

James: Witch …

Andrew: Was …

James: Telling …

Andrew: The …

James: Truth?

 

And now: The Dark Gentleman.

 

Andrew/James (alternating):

The morning of the ninth day of the month of May, the ship broke free of its mooring, and started to float towards the mouth of the harbour. Aboard was a distinguished gentleman, who was known throughout the land as a practitioner of the Dark Arts. He had a small moustache and black hair, an avuncular face but long talon-like fingers. He had paid for a cabin across the Atlantic Ocean. The men muttered amongst themselves superstitiously, but accepted his presence since their pay had been raised thanks to his generosity.

He intended to spend the voyage shut in his room reading about the newest discoveries in the occult realm. His colleagues in the New World were anxious that he should be ready to assist in their Great Endeavour upon his arrival. His routine was to rise at dawn, read a paper from his colleagues and pray for safe weather to his guardian demons. After breakfast he would jog around the poop deck before settling down into another book.

So passed the many hours and days at sea, until on the thirtieth day of the voyage a cry was raised by the lookout. "Ship astern!" There was a black sailed ship some half mile off, emerging from a mist. The Captain immediately summoned the officers, and the Dark Gentleman.

"I fear that we are being tracked by pirates. We must load the cannon and prepare to defend ourselves."

"Or," said the Dark Man, "we could simply repel them using…" And here he trailed off, and suggestively made a twirling shape with his fingers.

The Captain was a practical man and didn't think that this would work, but gave it the go ahead anyway while preparing the cannon.

The magician sat cross legged on the fore deck, surrounded by his Dark Objects. He lit a candle, made a sacrifice of his own blood, and started chanting in runic verse.

The cannon was loaded, and the Captain ordered it pointed at the vessel gaining fast on them. Before he could fire the other vessel caught fire and burned to the water line.

The Captain looked in astonishment and gasped. "What did you do?" The magician did not respond, but packed his Dark Objects away into his special chest, smiled, and descended back to his cabin. The crew grumbled once more.

Later that day, the Captain ventured to the cabin of the Dark Master, and knocked. "Come," came a voice.

"I've been wondering what —"

"Yes," said the magician. "They came, of course, for me. I am the only man who knows how to unlock the magic of the Philosopher's Stone. One of my brethren in the New World has discovered such a Stone — or so he thinks — and I am heading to help him create unlimited wealth for all humankind. What will the pirates do now that gold will be valueless? Ah! That is why they want to kill me," explained the magician. "They cannot comprehend the enormity, or the wonder, of this discovery. I'm afraid that we will have to part ways at this juncture."

So the magician folded his hands, lowered his gaze, and vanished.

The End.

 

James: I'm James, and I'm here with Andrew. These stories were recorded without advanced planning and then lightly edited for the discerning listeners. Join us next time for more totally made up tales.

We set out one morning from Southampton. Three witches on the water, oh aye. Oh the three witches of the Isle of White, the three witches of White …

Andrew: Who've all been … The White Witches.

James: The White Witches. What'll they tell you then? They said that our journey would be long and arduous but successful.

Oh that's not bad. Told us it would be full of fire and brimstone, and that we'd all die.

Oh. That's more specific than they usually are.

Yeah, yeah. We're going home now.

Andrew: I thought the third witch was going to say both of them are lying or something like two of us are lying.

James: Oh yes. It's… oh, gosh. Two of us are lying. Well she has to tell the truth then 'cause otherwise it's a logical thing isn't it?

Andrew: Unless all three of them were lying.

James: Or all … Yes. Or one of them was lying.

Andrew: Her.

James: Her. Or she was an inconsistent narrator. Which would be a bigger problem.

Jan 31, 2017

The second of our Tales of Orange, following last episode's The Queen and the Orange.

Music: Creepy — Bensound.com.

 

James:    Here are some Totally Made up Tales, brought to you by the magic of the internet.
Andrew / James (alternating):
    Mist covered the land, and from the recesses of the valley came a new sound. Bwaaaaaaah, it went. This startled the villagers, who gathered at the edge of town with ear pressed to the ground listening to the mysterious rumblings and worrying. It made many noises before they saw, emerging from the mist, elephants!
    As they stampeded toward the town, the elephants put their trunks into action, trumpeting the arrival of the herd. Thus, was jazz invented.
James:    And now, the Cavalier of Saint Ignacio.
Andrew:    The sun rose over the hills with the promise of a hot summer's day ahead.
James:    Sitting in the shade of an orange tree, a man bit into the fruity pulp of the delicious orange globe.
Andrew:    He offered half of the fruit to the dog that faithfully sat by his side, and man and beast together wolfed down their delicious fruity breakfast.
James:    Over the hill back in the town, he could hear the sound of trumpets.
Andrew:    It was the celebration of the Feet of Saint Ignacio.
James:    Since sundown the day before, people from the villages all around had been bringing their wares and particularly their oranges, fabled throughout the country, to the town square in preparation for the feast.
Andrew:    Saint Ignacio was the patron saint of orange grove, and legend ran that wherever his foot had landed on the earth, a tree had sprung up — and in celebration of his feast day at the end of the orange season, the growers would gather in the capital city of the region, and paint the soles of their feet orange and walk through the streets.
James:    The children would run amongst them singing and dancing and laughing, and when they reached the town square, a great feast awaited them all.
Andrew:    This man however, was not taking part in the feast this year, for something significant was about to happen to him.
James:    As he got up intending to make his way into the town, another sound reached his ears.
Andrew:    He was not the only one who heard the mysterious sound. His dog's ears pricked up, and his eyes became immediately alert, and he too stood and man and dog looked at the distant horizon.
James:    At first they could see nothing but dust. Then, gradually they could see figures moving through the dust and finally, as the figures got closer, they could see men on horseback; the thundering of the hooves as they galloped towards the town warning of the importance of their mission.
Andrew:    He took from his bag a spyglass and extended it in order to inspect the men and determine who they were.
James:    He swept the spyglass from one side of the band of cavalry to the other, counting 6,7,8,9,10, no twenty men, all on horseback… until he found their leader.
Andrew:    Their leader, the Cavalier of Saint Ignacio, the twenty knights of the orange grove! The fabled, nay, mythical group! Surely, they had died out centuries ago! But no, now here they were looking exactly as they did on the mighty altarpiece painting that stood in the church in the town.
James:    He ran to the town elders.
Andrew:    Breathlessly, he arrived in the village square and threw himself down before the mayor and said, "Quick! Quick! You must come with me, there is something that I must show you at once. I know it seems unlikely. I know that this is the worst possible time but you must come with me as you trust me as a man and as a member of the city, please!"
James:    And then Old Marco, the priest stepped forward and said in his gravelly voice, "It is the Calvary of Saint Ignacio, is it not?"
Andrew:    "But how could you know that?" Said the young man. "How could you possibly know?"
James:    "I have prayed and I have been visited by the Feet of Saint Ignacio and they pointed towards the frieze of the Cavalry this morning. I knew that they would be coming."
Andrew:    "There has been a legend, a legend of yore that was passed to me by the former priest of this town on his death bed that one day the Cavalry would return. They would return with a dire warning."
James:    And so the mayor got into the mayor's official cart and the two ponies were hitched to it and the elders followed behind with the children singing and dancing and playing and not understanding that this was not the normal feast of the Feet of Saint Ignacio, but this was something very special. And the entire town met the Cavalry on the border.
Andrew:    At the front of the imposing column of men in their dark black robes with orange silk flashes on the sleeves, there was the Cavalier resplendent, a gold cross on his chest, a mighty lance in his hand, a shining helmet upon his head that in the morning sun seemed to be aflame.
James:    "Oh Cavalier!" started the mayor. "I beg you, tell us why you have come."
Andrew:    "Silence!" said the Cavalier, banging the end of his lance upon the dusty ground. "Cease this revelry and listen to the dread portent that I have to share with you. Your town is in grave danger."
James:    So stern was his voice, so imposing his very physique, that even the children stopped playing and dancing and laughing and singing and all was silent before him.
Andrew:    All that could be heard was a slight rustling of the morning wind in the trees of the orange groves. The occasional chirp of a cricket. You could have heard a pin drop as everybody hung on the words of the Cavalier. What was the threat that was so dire that the mythical knights should have to return?
James:    "The town," began the Cavalier. "The town, the orange groves, Saint Ignacio's memory itself. All is at stake.
Andrew:    The wrath of God is to be visited upon this town in twenty four hours' time. A grave crime has been committed against his Grace and a mighty earthquake is going to rip the very foundations of the town from the stones of the hill and cast it down and from the depths of the earthquake will come floods and fire and the groves of oranges will be consumed, unless you render up to me by sundown tonight the criminal who has done this deed."
James:    So saying the Cavalier wheeled his horse, and the Cavalry rode off to camp outside in the fields.
Andrew:    Chaos immediately reigned in the town. Everybody was stirred by these words. Suspicion came to roost in every heart. "Surely, it was this person's misdeed when they had swindled me at cards." "Surely it was that person who had given me short measure on my loaf of bread."
    Ah, but what was the deed and who had committed it?
James:    The mayor, and the elders, and Marco the priest, gathered in the mayor's house to discuss what must be done.
Andrew:    The mayor banged his fist on the table and demanded silence. The room fell quiet. He had his audience.
    "We must hold," he said, "an inquisition. Every adult citizen of the town must be brought before us one by one and their soul and character tested."
James:    "We should start," Said Mr. Iniquez who ran the bakery. "We should start with ourselves to ensure that amongst the elders there is no sin."
Andrew:    Several faces looked guilty and hesitant at this idea, for who among us would want all of the most secret places of our hearts to be revealed to our neighbours?
James:    Nonetheless, no one could come up with a convincing reason why they should not go ahead. And so, one by one they faced their peers and recounted the deeds of their lives.
Andrew:    What would it be, this unknown crime against the Grace of God that the inquisition was searching for? Each man or woman in turn stood before the others and confessed what they considered their misdeeds. Coveting their neighbour's wife or ass; failing to respect their father or mother; failing to make confessional or go to church; petty swindling; great misdeeds in the heart, in the mind, in action. All was laid bare.
James:    By lunch time, the elders of the town knew each other better than they knew themselves, and already they were worried about doing this with the rest of the population. Arguments were breaking out between elder and elder over slights and infractions over the years. What would happen when they did this with the entire population?
Andrew:    What happened was the temperature in the town began to rise. It was as if the collective temper was slowly boiling. There was a seething mass of resentment, and politics, and gossip, and nastiness. The town that had lived so happily and peacefully in the bountiful land, so blessed with fruit trees, where people had lived a happy life for so many years, were slowly turning into a nightmare of mistrust.
James:    At the end of the first day, half of the town had confessed their sins. Over night, many arguments broke out, including some fights between those who now knew that they had trusted in vain, or thought better of people than they really should have done. And on the second day, they began again with the rest of the population, confessing their sins one by one to the elders, who wrote them down in a large book.
Andrew:    It had been an uneasy night. Few had had a good night's sleep. People were haggard and worried. The town seemed like a different place entirely from the site of happy festivities it had been the day before. By mid afternoon, the confession had been completed and the elders regathered in the office of the mayor to review what they had found to try and uncover the sin that the Cavalier had been sent to expunge.
James:    "I have read the entire book of inquisition," said the elderly Marco. "And I cannot see a single act which could be considered the overriding sin of this town."
Andrew:    "No, we must look at the list again. Somewhere in this list there must be the sin that we are looking for. What about this one? What about the young man who was having an affair with his brother's wife? Surely that is an offence against God that would have brought his wrath upon us."
James:    "But," said Marco, "he did penance for his sin. He confessed that to me five years ago. That cannot possibly be the reason that God's wrath is upon us."
Andrew:    "Ah, but what about this? The man who claimed that he had made a donation to the hospital in the capitol city of our country, and in fact he had taken the money and spent it on a weekend of wild abandon."
James:    "Ah, but you forget," said the mayor, "that he not only subsequently paid for a new hospital for the capital, but has set up seven or eight hospitals throughout the region."
Andrew:    "What about this one? A woman who confesses that in her quest for a husband, not only did she pray devoutly for the Lord to deliver one to her, she cast spells and incantations in a Pagan ritual."
James:    "Pah!" said Martine, one of the elder women of the town. "You are simply saying that because as a young woman she was known as the most beautiful amongst the town, and you're all upset that she did not choose you. She was not participating in witchcraft. She was merely reading from a traditional book that all of us have read from at one point or another in our lives. There is no sin here."
Andrew:    The elders were at a loss and the mayor said, "well, then let us each take a section of the inquisition book and once again reread it in search of the sin that God seeks to punish us for."
James:    And so the elders of the town sat down once more to read through the considerable expanses of the book of inquisition. Meanwhile, outside the town's folk continued in their squabbling and bickering brought about because of the inquisition and the confessions therein.
    As the light dimmed and the day came to an end, a storm rolled in off the mountains and rain began to fall on the town.
Andrew:    First, in droplets onto the earth it bounced, sending up little clouds of dust. Then gradually in fatter, larger drops it fell, soaking the earth, causing the top soil to run down deep into the valleys. Every animal fled for cover. Soon it was torrential. The cracks of thunder began, and the lightning started to strike at the trees of the orange groves and the tops of the towers of the city.
James:    Before long, the locals roused from their sleep, if they had managed to sleep in the first place, noticed the flickering of flames from out in the orange groves, and ran out, distraught in panic.
Andrew:    Their livelihood, their treasure, the thing that had nourished and that they had nurtured for so many centuries was being destroyed by this great cataclysm of nature, and as they saw the trees burning, they wept bitter tears.
James:    Day dawned on a sorry scene. The orange groves, once rich with beautiful trees, now reduced to blackened stumps. The townsfolk, tired from weeping through the night, collapsed around each other, some of them managing to make their way home, some of them having merely lain down in the street and gone to sleep.
Andrew:    It was clear to them that the Cavalier's warning had come to pass that the Wrath of God had been visited on their town and on their region and they had not discovered and delivered the sinner. Where was this person and what had they done?
    Meanwhile, far away on a road leading to another part of the country, the man walked whistling a merry tune, his dog by his side, orange juice on both of their faces.
James/Andrew (alternating):    Yorkshire was a fictional county in the mind of King Harold. He loved the idea of a county full of dour men who would wear stout jackets and flat caps, and talk to each other in elliptical, impenetrable sentences while smoking, drinking, and watching a cricket match.
    When he died, such was the mourning of his country that they created Yorkshire for him in his memory, and it stands today still a testament to his greatness.
James:    I'm James and I'm here with Andrew. These stories were recorded without advanced planning and then lightly edited for discerning listener. Join us next time for more Totally Made up Tales.

Jan 20, 2017

After a couple of word at a time shorts, we begin with the first of our Tales of Orange (a second will follow in episode 12). Then, we join Freddie as he embarks on a difficult adventure in The Capture of the Elements.

Music: Creepy — Bensound.com.

 

Andrew:    Here are some Totally Made Up Tales brought to you by the magic of the internet.
James:    Make.
Andrew:    Cinema.
James:    Interesting.
Andrew:    By.
James:    Jumping.
Andrew:    Through.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Screen.
James:    And.
Andrew:    Joining.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Action.

James:    Like.
Andrew:    Me.
James:    Because.
Andrew:    I.
James:    Am.
Andrew:    A.
James:    Lovely
Andrew:    Person.
James:    Don't.
Andrew:    Trust.
James:    Me.
Andrew:    Because.
James:    I.
Andrew:    Am.
James:    A.
Andrew:    Liar.

James:    Maria.
Andrew:    Was.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Queen.
James:    Of.
Andrew:    Spain.
James:    She.
Andrew:    Ruled.
James:    Wisely.
Andrew:    And.
James:    Fairly.
Andrew:    Because.
James:    She.
Andrew:    Was.
James:    Catholic.
Andrew:    Her.
James:    Husband.
Andrew:    Was.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Duke.
James:    Of.
Andrew:    Aragon.
James:    And.
Andrew:    He.
James:    Rode.
Andrew:    A.
James:    Fine.
Andrew:    White.
James:    Horse.
Andrew:    Whenever.
James:    He.
Andrew:    Came.
James:    Home.
Andrew:    He.
James:    Would.
Andrew:    Immediately.
James:    Get.
Andrew:    Off.
James:    His.
Andrew:    Horse.
James:    And.
Andrew:    Go.
James:    To.
Andrew:    His.
James:    Wife.
Andrew:    And.
James:    Present.
Andrew:    Her.
James:    With.
Andrew:    A.
James:    Fresh.
Andrew:    Orange.
James:    She.
Andrew:    Would.
James:    Bite.
Andrew:    Into.
James:    Its.
Andrew:    Delicious.
James:    Succulent.
Andrew:    Flesh.
James:    And.
Andrew:    Thank.
James:    Him.
Andrew:    With.
James:    A.
Andrew:    Kiss.
James:    One.
Andrew:    Day.
James:    He.
Andrew:    Could.
James:    Not.
Andrew:    Get.
James:    Any.
Andrew:    Oranges.
James:    He.
Andrew:    Asked.
James:    Around.
Andrew:    And.
James:    There.
Andrew:    Were.
James:    None.
Andrew:    He.
James:    Rode.
Andrew:    Home.
James:    Despondent.
Andrew:    Until.
James:    He.
Andrew:    Encountered.
James:    A.
Andrew:    Man.
James:    Pushing.
Andrew:    A.
James:    Cart.
Andrew:    Of.
James:    Oranges.
Andrew:    Hoy!
James:    He.
Andrew:    Said.
James:    To.
Andrew:    The.
James:    Man.
Andrew:    How.
James:    Much.
Andrew:    Are.
James:    Those.
Andrew:    Oranges.
James:    Well.
Andrew:    Said.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Man.
James:    I.
Andrew:    Am.
James:    A.
Andrew:    Poor.
James:    Man.
Andrew:    And.
James:    These.
Andrew:    Are.
James:    My.
Andrew:    Lucky.
James:    Oranges.
Andrew:    They.
James:    Are.
Andrew:    The.
James:    Only.
Andrew:    Thing.
James:    That.
Andrew:    I.
James:    Possess.
Andrew:    So
James:    The.
Andrew:    Duke.
James:    Promised.
Andrew:    To.
James:    Pay.
Andrew:    A.
James:    Fair.
Andrew:    Price.
James:    For.
Andrew:    Them.
James:    I.
Andrew:    Cannot.
James:    Accept.
Andrew:    Any.
James:    Payment.
Andrew:    For.
James:    These.
Andrew:    Oranges.
James:    In.
Andrew:    Money.
James:    Said.
Andrew:    The.
James:    Man.
Andrew:    Whose.
James:    Name.
Andrew:    Was.
James:    Miguel.
Andrew:    If.
James:    You.
Andrew:    Wish.
James:    To.
Andrew:    Take.
James:    These.
Andrew:    Oranges.
James:    You.
Andrew:    Must.
James:    Offer.
Andrew:    Me.
James:    Something.
Andrew:    More.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Duke.
James:    Offered.
Andrew:    Himself.
James:    Very.
Andrew:    Well.
James:    Said.
Andrew:    Miguel.
James:    Here.
Andrew:    Are.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Oranges.
James:    And.
Andrew:    I.
James:    Will.
Andrew:    Come.
James:    In.
Andrew:    Ten.
James:    Years.
Andrew:    To.
James:    Claim.
Andrew:    You.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Duke.
James:    Took.
Andrew:    Them.
James:    Home.
Andrew:    And.
James:    Presented.
Andrew:    Them.
James:    To.
Andrew:    His.
James:    Wife.
Andrew:    Who.
James:    Was.
Andrew:    Delighted.
James:    With.
Andrew:    Them.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Most.
James:    Delicious.
Andrew:    She.
James:    Had.
Andrew:    Ever.
James:    Tasted.
Andrew:    Time.
James:    Passed.
Andrew:    The.
James:    Couple.
Andrew:    Aged.
James:    Gracefully.
Andrew:    As.
James:    Their.
Andrew:    Power.
James:    Grew.
Andrew:    And.
James:    Their.
Andrew:    Children.
James:    Also.
Andrew:    Ten.
James:    Years.
Andrew:    Had.
James:    Passed.
Andrew:    And.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Orange.
James:    Seller.
Andrew:    Miguel.
James:    Had.
Andrew:    Returned.
James:    Walking.
Andrew:    Into.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Palace.
James:    He.
Andrew:    Demanded.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Right.
James:    To.
Andrew:    Speak.
James:    With.
Andrew:    The.
James:    Duke.
Andrew:    At.
James:    Length.
Andrew:    He.
James:    Was.
Andrew:    Admitted.
James:    To.
Andrew:    The.
James:    Throne.
Andrew:    Room.
James:    Where.
Andrew:    A.
James:    Full.
Andrew:    Crowd.
James:    Had.
Andrew:    Assembled.
James:    To.
Andrew:    Have.
James:    Lunch.
Andrew:    Each.
James:    Table.
Andrew:    Was.
James:    Filled.
Andrew:    With.
James:    Oranges.
Andrew:    He.
James:    Picked.
Andrew:    One.
James:    Up.
Andrew:    And.
James:    Immediately.
Andrew:    Threw.
James:    It.
Andrew:    At.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Duke.
James:    I.
Andrew:    Claim.
James:    You!
Andrew:    He.
James:    Said.
Andrew:    All.
James:    The.
Andrew:    People.
James:    Went.
Andrew:    Berserk.
James:    Throwing.
Andrew:    Oranges.
James:    At.
Andrew:    Each.
James:    Other.
Andrew:    And.
James:    At.
Andrew:    The.
James:    Queen.
Andrew:    And.
James:    Her.
Andrew:    Husband.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Guards.
James:    Attempted.
Andrew:    To.
James:    Control.
Andrew:    The.
James:    Scene.
Andrew:    And.
James:    Failed.
Andrew:    The.
James:    Duke.
Andrew:    Called.
James:    To.
Andrew:    Miguel.
James:    I.
Andrew:    Will.
James:    Come.
Andrew:    To.
James:    You.
Andrew:    And.
James:    Rising.
Andrew:    From.
James:    His.
Andrew:    Seat.
James:    He.
Andrew:    Made.
James:    His.
Andrew:    Way.
James:    Through.
Andrew:    The.
James:    Throng.
Andrew:    Outside.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Duke.
James:    Mounted.
Andrew:    His.
James:    Beautiful.
Andrew:    Horse.
James:    While.
Andrew:    He.
James:    Had.
Andrew:    A.
James:    Bay.
Andrew:    Settled.
James:    For.
Andrew:    Miguel.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Two.
James:    Of.
Andrew:    Them.
James:    Rode.
Andrew:    Out.
James:    Through.
Andrew:    The.
James:    City.
Andrew:    To.
James:    Never.
Andrew:    Return.
James:    The.
Andrew:    Queen.
James:    Never.
Andrew:    Ate.
James:    An.
Andrew:    Orange.
James:    Again.

Andrew:    And now, The Capture of the Elements.
James:    Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there lived a young man in a village by the sea.
Andrew:    He had dreams of being a successful fisherman.
James:    Every day he would go down to the pier and watch the fishing boats leave on the morning tide. And then he returned to his house where he made pots for the other people within the village.
Andrew:    He was too young to go out in a boat himself and had not been taken on as an apprentice by any of the fisherman because his family were considered cursed.
James:    One morning, having watched the fishing fleet go off over the horizon, he returned home to start work on a particularly big pot for the village's wizard.
Andrew:    The wizard had come to him several days before with a specification that he had written by hand for the very particular dimensions, shape, material and colour of a pot that he wanted to have made.
James:    At this point, Freddie was just finishing off the rim of the pot at which point it would be complete.
Andrew:    There came a knock at the door. It was the wizard at the appointed hour ready to pick up his pot.
James:    "Is my pot ready?" said the wizard.
Andrew:    "Yes, it's ready. Here it is. I've just finished this very second. Your timing is perfect."
James:    "Excellent," said the wizard, and took the pot promising to return later with payment.
Andrew:    Freddie waited several days patiently to be paid by the wizard who, he assumed, was a man of his word. He was an honest man of good standing. But the wizard did not return.
James:    And so, after a week had passed, at the end of a morning of making mugs for the local worthies, he ventured across the village to where the wizard lived.
Andrew:    He knocked on the door and the knock echoed through the wizard's house but there was no answer. Being curious, he peeked in through the window.
James:    He saw vaguely through the grimy glass, a shape moving about. It was too indistinct for him to see if it was up it was a wizard or perhaps, one of his familiars.
Andrew:    He was apprehensive but concerned for the well-being of the wizard. Although he was a magical man, he was still elderly and could easily have been injured. Tentatively he pushed the door open.
James:    With a disquieting squeak, the door swung open, revealing a dreadful scene within.
Andrew:    Furniture was overturned, there were scorch marks on the ceiling, water all over the floor, the whole place looked as if a storm had raged through it from one side to the other with thunder and lightning.
James:    Over by the fireplace, a figure lay on the floor, a robe thrown over it.
Andrew:    Freddie immediately made his way over to inspect the fallen man. It was indeed the wizard and yes, he was still breathing.
James:    Before he was able to pick up the wizard and take him out of the house, a voice called to him from across the room.
Andrew:    "Do not be afraid, young man. He is quite well, the faint will soon pass." said the voice.
James:    Freddie looked over and saw a shadowy figure, standing by the stairs.
Andrew:    "Oh — I only came because of the ...", he said, pointing at the pot.
James:    "You were wondering who I am," said the figure stepping forward into the dim light of the remains of the fire. "I have been brought forth from your cauldron. You may call me, if you must, Thunder."
Andrew:    "In order to rouse your friend. You, young man, must come with me. We must gather up the other forces of the elements and come together once again in order to reanimate the man who summoned us."
James:    And so, Freddie reached out his hand to Thunder. And although Thunder's hand was insubstantial, somehow he grasped it, and around them the world started to dim.
Andrew:    The very next instant, it seemed to Freddie he looked around and he was miles above the boiling ocean in the midst of a billowing dark electrical cloud.
James:    Tossed around by the waves and wind was a small fishing boat that Freddie recognise had sailed out with the fleet that morning.
Andrew:    It was one that he knew from his own village and he could see that the men on board, although they we're experienced sailors was struggling to keep control of it in the midst of the mighty storm.
James:    "Behold," rumbled Thunder in his ear, "the power of Wind…"
Andrew:    And at that moment, a fierce gust rushed past Freddie's face. It was as if he had had sand paper dragged across his skin, so great was the force of the Wind.
James:    "How do we capture it?" asked Freddie.
Andrew:    "Ah ..." said Thunder. "That is the challenge that you must complete. Here. Take this," he said.
James:    Freddie reached out his hand and discovered that placed in it was a canvas bag, about the size of a turtle. He looked at it, and he looked down at the churning sea below, and felt the Wind on his cheek, and saw the boat buffeted by the waves and the wind.
Andrew:    "But how do I capture the Wind in the bag?" thought Freddie. "It must be possible in some way." He opened the neck of the bag and held it out into the oncoming gust and then suddenly whoosh!
James:    Freddie struggled with the bag, which wriggled and danced, as if it had a wild animal inside.
Andrew:    It was like wrestling a giant throwing him this way, and that way, tossing him devil may care around the sky.
James:    From one horizon to the other, Freddie was blown and thrown, as he attempted to get Wind under control.
Andrew:    He realised that length, that brute force alone would be no match for the mighty Wind, and that he would somehow have to outsmart it in order to encase it back in his bag.
James:    Freddie remembered the song that his mother used to sing to him when he was a child, about the great battles of the beginning of time between the elements. Opening the back he filled his lungs with the Wind, and began to sing.
Andrew:    The song was a beautiful tale about Time and the Universe and his children, and as the wild Wind came from the bag, entered his body, and left as the sweet, well arranged music, it calmed. It became peaceful, it ceased to struggle. He was no longer throw this way or that, but found himself with a well-filled bag that he was able to pull the drawstrings off and tightly seal.
James:    Below he could see the boat no longer buffeted by the wind but, damaged from the storm, was under threat from the waves and the rain of going under anyway.
Andrew:    The water seemed to suddenly double in intensity. It was if there were sea above and below, as down, down, down came the torrential torrents of rain from the sky. Suddenly, Freddie realised that the next magical spirit must be that of the Rain.
James:    He turned to Thunder who handed him another item.
Andrew:    It was a large, dark, green bottle. The glass so dark has to be nearly opaque. It was the sort of bottle that you would expect to find lying on a beach with a message coiled up inside from some distant land saying, "Help me."
James:    Cradling the bottle in one arm, Freddie carefully worked out the cork and then thought, "How am I going to get Rain inside?"
Andrew:    He could see easily enough how he could get some Rain inside. He should surely just turn the bottle to the sky… and so he did.
James:    As he did, the Rain continued to pour down some of it moving into the bottle. Which started to fill up.
Andrew:    Fill up and then overflow. Then suddenly, Freddie found himself underwater. It was as if a fountain had erupted from the neck of the bottle and was rapidly filling up the whole of the world.
James:    Freddie had grown up next to the sea and was a strong swimmer and yet with the water all around him, he began to panic. Unable to breathe, unable to see clearly, he desperately held on to the bottle and, forgotten in his other hand, the cork.
Andrew:    His limbs thrashed wildly through the encroaching dark and cold of the water. He forgot everything that he had ever known about how to stay safe in the sea, if in one of its sudden changes of moods, it grabs you and drags you.
James:    As he started to lose consciousness, floating in the water that was filling up the world, the voice of Thunder sounded in his ear.
Andrew:    "Do not fight the water," said Thunder in his deep resonant voice. "Be the water. Float and find your way to the surface."
James:    With the last vestiges of his consciousness and the dying remains of his strength, Freddie kicked upwards seeking the surface of the rapidly rising tide.
Andrew:    So tossed and turned that he been underwater that he really wasn't sure entirely any more which way was up… when suddenly it occurred to him, surely the cork would float. If he released the cork, he would only have to follow that.
James:    Letting go of the cork with one hand, he saw it rising away from him and kicked once, twice to follow it to the surface.
Andrew:    Spluttering, he emerged the air, immediately grabbing the cork, and thrusting it into the neck of the bottle, sealing Rain tightly inside.
James:    Floating exhausted on the now calm sea, he handed the bottle back to Thunder.
Andrew:    "Only one spirit remains" boomed Thunder. "The final and most dangerous spirit of all that of Lighting."
James:    And as his rumbling voice said the word, the sky lit up as Lightning forked down towards the mass of the ship.
Andrew:    It struck with an almighty crack, split the tall mast of the ship clean in two, and the two halves fell from other side and crashed into the deck and the sea beyond.
James:    Thunder held out a third item to Freddie.
Andrew:    It was a finely polished, ornately framed mirror.
James:    As he took the mirror from Thunder, Freddie noticed the flickering in the heavens above. As Lightning gathered and prepared to dance down, he looked at the mirror in his hand, and then flung it out to capture the Lightning as it arched down from the sky.
Andrew:    The next thing he knew, Freddie awoke and found that he was lying on the stone floor of the wizard's cottage.
James:    The wizard, no longer unconscious on the floor, bent over him, his face filled with concern.
Andrew:    "Here," he said, "drink this." and pressed a cup of water to his lips.
James:    Later the wizard asked Freddie to recount his adventures, and as he did the wizard's face filled with respect.
Andrew:    "You, young man have a gift for magic. I would like to take you on as my apprentice and lead you on a journey in a magical life. Will you join me?"
James:    Freddie eagerly assented.
Andrew:    "Wonderful," said the wizard. "Return home at once and get a good night's sleep."
James:    As Freddie walked back from the wizard's house across the village filled with voices of the returning fishermen, he heard rumbling in the distance a solitary note of Thunder.
Andrew:    I'm Andrew and I'm here with James. These stories were recorded without advanced planning and then lightly edited for the discerning listener. Join us next time for more Totally Made Up Tales.
Andrew:    Suspicious.
James:    People.
Andrew:    Hang.
James:    Their.
Andrew:    Hats.
James:    On.
Andrew:    Suspicious.
James:    Hatstands. They live in suspicious houses, they eat suspicious bread.
Andrew:    Lovely.

Jan 8, 2017

For our first episode of 2017, we go into…space! An experimental stretch for us, and there are times where you can almost hear us reaching for words to describe things we're not familiar with. Hope you enjoy it!

 

Music: Creepy — Bensound.com.

 

James:  Here are some "Totally Made Up Tales" brought to you by the magic of the Internet. In this episode, "Airlock Number Six".
Andrew:  The black depths of space stretched out as far as the eye could see.
James:  Maria was so used to the sight that she barely gave it a glance these days.
Andrew:  She was engrossed in her work of routine maintenance on the outside of the spaceship and her mind was wandering from the task at hand to her plan for the rest of the day.
James:  First, of course, dinner in the commissary as usual. That would not be remotely interesting, but afterwards she was hoping she could persuade Steven to take a virtual walk with her through the rainforest.
Andrew:  The radio inside the helmet of her space suit squawked and her team leader reminded her that it was time for her to return to airlock number six.
James:  She closed the panel she was working on, secured her tools back onto her spacesuit, and kicked off back towards the airlock and the safety of the pressurised compartments.
Andrew:  She pressed the illuminated panel next to the door - it swung open with the reassuring hiss and thunk - and returned into the small docking area as the outer door closed behind her.
James:  As soon as it had clanked shut, she could sense that something was wrong. The lights had not changed from amber to green. The inner door was not opening.
Andrew:  This was not entirely unusual on a space station of this age. It was not one of the newer models, and the simplest thing to do if you encountered a mechanical fault like this was just to back up and start the sequence again. So she turned round to open the outer door that she had come in through.
James:  This light was also orange. "That was strange," she thought and thumbed her radio.
Andrew:  "There seems to be a malfunction in the airlock doors. Both sides are amber. Is there anything that you could do to reset it at your end?"
James:  She waited a few seconds for a reply.
Andrew:  She pushed the button on her radio again. "Erm…Michael? Don't know if you heard that, but there's a bit of a problem here in airlock number six."
James:  Again, no reply. But they'd been trained for this because sometimes radios would go wrong if they were passing through a sunspot or some other electromagnetic activity which would interfere with radio communications.
She unhitched a spanner from her tool belt and started to work on the inner door lock.
Andrew:  She successfully removed the panel from the wall and revealed the emergency override controls. Turning the gauge, which ensured that the outside door was firmly shut, she released the safety switch and undid the locking mechanism of the inner door.
James:  Before opening, she tried one more time on the radio. "Michael? Can you…is there anything going on on the other side? Can I open the door and come in?"
Andrew:  Again, no reply. She tapped three times on the inner airlock door, which was the agreed signal for "I am coming out." There was no reply, and so she gave the door a firm push and stepped through into the suiting area.
James:  After checking the oxygen levels, she carefully removed her suit and noticed, as she was hanging it up, that all the other ones were missing.
Andrew:  It was a relief to be back in the relaxed comfort of her everyday space clothes and out of the bulky, cumbersome engineering suit that she had spent the last few hours working in.
She pressed the release panel at the side of the suiting room door and stepped into the corridor outside.
James:  The corridor was empty, and more curiously the station seemed completely silent, something that she'd never encountered before. There was always some noise, some mechanical sound, or some murmur from the engines that kept them in orbit, or from the people who lived and worked there.
Andrew:  She made her way along the corridor to the elevator bank that would take her up to the seventh deck where her residential quarters were.
James:  The lights on the elevator were also orange. That was strange. The elevators had never failed before. She pressed the button anyway, hoping that it was a problem with the light rather than the machinery.
Andrew:  Nothing happened as she pressed the panel and she tried again a second, and a third time. Each of the panels next to the bank of service lifts were unresponsive in the same way.
James:  Giving up on the elevators, she unhooked the panel that gave access to the service ladders that ran alongside them and started the long climb up to the next floor where the main control rooms and bridge were located.
Andrew:  She climbed the ladder with the methodical, practiced precision of an experienced engineer. She knew her way around this vessel and all of its strange corners and crevices in a way that few other people did.
James:  When she reached the next floor however, even she was surprised.
Andrew:  The access hatch to the service ladder was open, practically hanging off its hinges.
James:  The corridor beyond was pitch black, all the lighting seemed to have failed. Maria unclipped her personal light and switched it on.
Andrew:  She poked around in the darkness with the beam of the torch looking for any clues as to why the lighting system had malfunctioned.
James:  She couldn't see anything, but when the beam passed across the doors to the control centre, she saw that they too had been opened.
Andrew:  This instantly sent a shiver of fear down the back of her neck. She knew that the only people who would open the control room doors were fellow engineers and that they would never leave them open.
James:  She stood at the entrance of the control room and shone her personal light around.
Andrew:  At first, it seemed that everything was as it should be. The connection to the main engines was intact and the backup connection was secure and in place.
James:  There didn't appear to be any damage to any of the consoles, and yet all of them were dark. None of the welcoming and reassuring lights twinkled across their surface in the way that they normally would.
Andrew:  The eerie quiet of the control room, usually such a bustling space, began to creep up on her and became a steadily more insistent sensation that things were very wrong.
James:  Trying not to rush, Maria nonetheless moved quickly over to the central power panel and attempted to restart the power.
Andrew:  She ran through the sequence that, rarely though she had ever had to use it before, came to her as second nature - and waited to see if the ship responded.
James:  There was no change. The panels remained blank, the lights remained out, and the eerie silence continued.
Andrew:  She knew that she should attempt the restart process one more time and that the reboot unit needed to rest for five minutes before it could potentially be operated again.
She sat on the floor in the dark, in the silence and concentrated on breathing steadily in and out to keep the rising sense of panic under control. In the stillness where the only sound was the beating of her heart in her own chest, she became aware of a curious cold sensation passing over the skin of her forearms.
James:  It was the same sensation as when an unexpected breeze caresses you or when you're certain that you've heard something where there should be no sound.
She glanced down and noticed that the hairs on her arm were standing on end.
Andrew:  She glanced down at her watch and saw that the five minutes had passed and stood up, face-to-face with the reboot unit once more.
James:  As her hands moved automatically through the procedure, her mind started to wander once again: What was going on?
Andrew:  She primed the reboot switch, pumping the handle three times and turning the control lever to armed. She pushed the reboot button, heard the thunk of the connection being made, and once again was rewarded with no change.
James:  She sagged slightly, her forehead touching the reboot panel. Procedure, she was aware - some small logical part of her mind reminding her - procedure at this point was to evacuate the space station.
Andrew:  She knew that she should make her way to the nearest escape capsule station, which were situated on every deck. She hesitated. How could she leave the space station behind with so many unanswered questions in her head?
James:  She remembered that the memory units for the central computer was stored in the control room. Maybe she could grab the most recent one or two and take them with her.
Andrew:  She opened the cabinet containing the storage units of the ship's main computer and was dismayed to see that there were three units stacked next to each other. Without access to power, she would be unable to determine which of the units had been used most recently, and would therefore have to select one of the heavy items at random to take with her.
Would she manage to select the one that contained the most recent records and might explain why the ship was deserted?
James:  She had to assume that the technicians responsible for the computer organised things according to some sort of plan. Either they moved from left to right and refilled behind the one that was being used, or they only replenished the cards in one go once all of them had been used up.
In the first case, she would need the one on the far right. In the second case, it could be any of them.
Andrew:  She knew therefore there was a slightly better chance of the information she wanted would be contained in the memory bank on the right, so she unclipped it from its housing and picked it up with both hands.
James:  It was both bigger and heavier than she had remembered and she definitely wouldn't be able to take more than one. She only hoped that there would be space in the escape capsule to secure it safely for re‑entry.
Andrew:  She manoeuvred her way awkwardly from the control room to the nearest escape hatch holding the memory unit in both hands and balancing her personal light on top to illuminate the corridor ahead of her.
James:  Although, with the power off, the space station was beginning to cool down, the exertion meant that she was sweating by the time she got there.
Andrew:  She pulled at the emergency handle which released the panel covering the entrance to the escape pod.
James:  The opening was dark in front of her, and she knew that the chutes led for 10 to 12 feet down into the escape pod, and she couldn't reasonably drop the memory card in there first. She would have to hold it to her body as she slid down into the pod.
Andrew:  She stepped one foot and another into the tube, sat on the edge, clasped the memory card across the front of her torso, and pushed off to slide down to the escape pod.
James:  She landed in the padded seat with a jolt and she could feel the shock travel though up her spine.
Andrew:  There was little room to manoeuvre inside the escape pod. These crafts were designed for one or, at most, two people and the ship was supplied with dozens of them, enough for the entire crew to be able to abandon ship safely.
James:  Wriggling round, she tried to find a place to store the memory card so that she would have access to the controls of the small craft.
Andrew:  The memory cards were bulky and yet effectively indestructible. All that was necessary was that she found a way to strap it down. She removed a length of webbing from her utility belt and strapped the card to the back of the pod's pilot seat.
James:  Then she cast her personal light around the pod, looking for the manual checklist. She knew that without power, she would have to do everything herself.
Andrew:  Having successfully located the checklist, she began the exit procedure by decoupling the magnetic lock, which automatically closed the hatch, and detached her escape pod from the space station.
James:  From there, she worked her way gradually down the list, taking sightings on known stars, establishing with sufficient accuracy her orbit so that she could calculate the parameters of a manual re‑entry burn.
Andrew:  Having completed the calculations, she set her stopwatch and, at the appropriate moment, fired the pod's rocket engine to take her on the appropriate course.
James:  Following completion of the re‑entry burn, she again took sightings to confirm that she was in the appropriate orbit. Now, all she had to do was wait.
Andrew:  The pod made its steady descent down into the planet's atmosphere and one by one, the mechanical dials on the control panel in front of her began to come to life as altitude and wind speed began to be read by the sensors on the craft.
James:  Maria kept her eye on the altitude reading, hoping that it was accurate, and waiting for the right height above sea level to deploy the parachutes.
Andrew:  As she waited, she looked out of the single front window of the pod at the surface of the planet that she had not seen for some time.
James:  Already the empty, mysterious space station felt like a curious dream and only the hard reassuring presence of the memory card behind her told her that it had been real.
Andrew:  She replayed the sequence of events in her head, trying to pinpoint exactly what it was that could have occurred.
James:  She remembered Michael telling her that it was the end of her work period. She remembered tidying up, she remembered getting back to the airlock, and getting inside. Nothing seemed strange about any of those events. From that point on, it had been nothing but strange.
Andrew:  There had been no signs of struggle anywhere that she had looked in the ship and the control room's escape hatch still had escape pods ready to use.
James:  There must have been six or seven people in the control room…all of them disappeared by the time she'd got there. If they hadn't evacuated the space station, where had they gone?
Andrew:  Why had the door of the control room been left open and why was the hatch to the service ladder open on that floor as well? It defied all logical explanation.
James:  Beyond the control room, there were another 20, 25 people working on the space station, and yet she'd had no indication that any of them had been there either. It was as if in the time between the end of her work period and securing herself within the airlock, everyone on the space station had simply vanished.
Andrew:  The same train of thought seemed to go around in her head unresolved until the needle of the altimeter touched into the zone that told her it was time to deploy the parachute.
James:  She reached above her head with both hands and grasped the parachute handle, pulling it down suddenly towards her. As the parachutes unfurled behind it, the entire capsule seemed to spin around her. It rocked into its landing position, Maria sitting upright once more.
Andrew:  Moments later, the capsule struck the surface of the water and - finally - she was back home, and the mysterious adventure was surely nearly at an end.
James:  Through the weeks and the months of the investigation that followed, Maria told her part of the story a thousand times to a thousand different people. Analysis of the memory card was able to explain how a power surge had disabled the station and showed that one by one the crew members had simply disappeared from the computer's vision and tracking system - but was unable to shed any light on how, or why, or where they had gone.
Andrew:  In the annals of space exploration, there was only one similar incident ever reported and, since there were no survivors at all from that vessel, no further information could be obtained and no further explanation could be provided for how it was that all the crew, except Maria, had simultaneously vanished.
James:  The names of the crew members are inscribed on the Astronauts' Memorial where we remember all those who have given their lives, whether we understand their sacrifice or not, as humanity spreads out towards the stars.

James:  I've been James and I'm here with Andrew. These stories were recorded without advanced planning, and lightly edited for the discerning listener.
Join us next time for more Totally Made Up Tales.

Dec 22, 2016

This episode we have two stories. Carlos and his Wife make a difficult journey. Meanwhile, the Lonely Skunk lives a troubled life in the forest.

Music: Creepy — Bensound.com.

 

Andrew:    Here are some Totally Made Up Tales, brought to you by the magic of the internet.
    We begin this week with Carlos and His Wife.
Andrew & James (alternating)
    Carlos went to town and bought a new cart. He wanted to take his bride to visit his grandmother, so he hitched the new cart to a horse which he had borrowed especially from his brother and lifted his beautiful new bride into the back. Climbing onto the driver's seat, he whipped the horse and they raced off.
    Along the mountain path, there lived a troll. He exacted a toll on every cart that passed his house. Approaching the bend in his cart, Carlos slowed and prepared to face the troll. "Who goes there?" said the troll traditionally. "It is one simple man and his wife. We wish to visit our grandmother. Please let us pass, o troll!" The troll scratched his hairy head and responded with the riddle as is traditional.
    "You are a stalk and I am a long tongue. Which animal is your wife?"
    Carlos fell into a fitful silence as he attempted to unravel the riddle. A small time later, his wife spoke quietly to him. "Could it be a…"
James:    There will now follow a short pause while we figure out what our riddle means. The troll is a long tongue, right… and the man is a stalk of some description.
Andrew:    Okay, a stalk of… yeah. A stalk of corn or a stalk of grass…
James:    The long tongue reaches out and tries to get the stalk. That's what the troll does. That's a metaphor for those two… which means the wife can be anything, which means the wife can choose to be… what eats frogs? Frogs have long tongues, right?
Andrew & James (alternating)
    "Could it be a bird of prey?" Carlos's face lit up, "Yes, this is exactly what it should be." He turned to the troll and realised that the troll had vanished.
    Continuing their journey along the road, Carlos enjoyed the feeling of the victor. The next bend brought them face to face with an ogre. "Stop," he growled and demanded a sacrifice. "Something you cannot do without," he said. Carlos looked down at the cart and his horse and thought about which of these he could give freely. "Why not just give him the air in your lungs?" Carlos once more applauded his wife and breathed deeply over the ogre. The ogre disappeared and they continued on their road.
    As the village where his grandmother lived came into sight, another monster stepped onto the path. It was a dragon, breathing fire and grumbling like a railway engine. "I am hungry," said the dragon. "I demand food or your life." Once more, Carlos was perplexed. How could he feed a dragon without sacrificing his horse?" His wife had another idea. "Could we feed him the straw from the wagon?" "Do dragons eat straw?" asked Carlos. "Well, let's find out," said his wife. So they pushed some straw in the direction of the dragon and waited. The dragon sniffed the bale suspiciously and took a small nibble from the corner. It tasted odd, like a smoky kind of grass. The dragon took another bite. Smoke definitely made things more palatable. He wolfed it down and belched. "You have passed my test," said the dragon and as he let them past, he crept into his cave.
    Driving into the village, Carlos and his wife were delighted to have made it safely. His grandmother lived at a crossroads just off the main square. Knocking on her door, Carlos was excited to present his wife, and feast with his family. The door swung open. Within, there was a dark gloom and a light in the fireplace. Sitting in a chair next to the fire was Carlos's grandmother. "Come closer my child," she said, crooking her finger and beckoning him. He knelt beside her chair and recounted the arduous journey they had undertaken to visit her. "Ah," she said. "This journey has been a lesson to you. When there are obstacles to be overcome, you must work with your wife together and so you shall triumph. You will seek many challenges and your wife will fix them for you. Don't take the support for granted." "Yes," said Carlos. "Not on any account." "Ohhhh," said his grandmother. "You have no idea."
    On the way home, they took a different route, were attacked by a bear and Carlos's wife killed it with her slingshot. The end.
Andrew:    This is the story of the lonely skunk.
James:    Once upon a time, there lived all sorts of creatures in the forest. There were shrews and mice that scuffled and scurried through the undergrowth. There were rabbits and hares that bounded along the pathways and tracks through the trees, and badgers snuffling through their sets and sniffing out their prey.
Andrew:    There were many animals that lived in the forest each with their own different personalities, but one animal more than any other was regarded as an outcast and was looked down upon by both people and beasts.
James:    The skunk did not lead a happy life.
Andrew:    Everywhere he went he only wanted to make friends and yet his pungent aroma drove all away from him.
James:    Over time, he'd learned that he would not be welcomed at the little gatherings in the glades of the forest, that he would not be greeted cheerily if he passed another animal on a track or path, and that he would not be at all welcome indeed if he turned up at the home of another animal, and so over the years, he had learned to keep very much to himself.
Andrew:    As a consequence, the skunk was lonely. He felt the loneliness deep inside his black and white fur. He was surrounded by evidence of the lives of other animals all the time, and yet somehow, it was as if he existed in a bubble which excluded them from him so completely that it could never be crossed.
James:    Until one day, he met a frog.
Andrew:    It was a bright and misty autumn day and the skunk was wandering along, lost in his own thoughts as usual, meditatively wondering about the changing of the seasons, and he did not see the frog until he very nearly stepped on it.
James:    "I beg your pardon," said the skunk, preparing to scurry away as he expected that the frog would immediately make some comment or rather about the stench that always followed him about the forest.
Andrew:    But the frog made no such comment. In fact, he made no reply at all and only looked blankly at the skunk who repeated himself what thinking that the other had not heard him.
James:    "I beg your pardon," said the skunk again and this time, the frog looked at him and said very quietly, "The apology is mine."
Andrew:    The skunk was taken aback by the gentle politeness of the frog's demeanour and inquired of him further the meaning of his words.
James:    "I merely meant," said the frog, "that I was sitting here so quiet and so indistinguishable from the leaves around me that it would be altogether too easy to step upon me and I must apologise for that. I could have chosen a rock to sit on or indeed a branch, somewhere that would have left me less vulnerable to those going about their regular business."
Andrew:    The skunk was speechless to be addressed. This was the longest sentence that another animal had directed at him for some years and he was puzzled as to why it was that the frog was not repulsed by him in the way that so many other creatures were.
James:    So he asked, "Do you not have a problem with my standing here and talking to you?"
Andrew:    "Why should I have such a problem with a passing conversation with a fellow animal?" said the frog.
James:    "I merely meant," said the skunk, "that so many people find me an unappealing conversationalist for whatever reason." He was beginning to doubt that the frog could smell him at all.
Andrew:    "But you seem such a polite and friendly gentleman, how could anybody object to passing the time of day with such a cultured individual?"
James:     At this, the skunk broke into a broad smile. "Well, that is very kind of you to say, sir."
Andrew:    "And now, I must, please, beg your pardon for I have pressed long enough already on your time and I myself certainly have many things which I must be doing," said the frog. "Good day to you and I hope to speak to you again on another occasion," saying which he hopped off.
James:    Cheered, the skunk went about his way and that night, rather than as was his usual custom to bed down early and thus attempt to sleep through the depression of the night, he instead stayed up and thought about his conversation with the frog and recounted to himself the other events of the day so that he would remember them freshly for such a conversation.
Andrew:    The next day as the skunk woke in the bright morning light, he hoped, once again, that he would meet his new friend, the frog, while traversing the forest.
James:    Making his happy way through the ponds and tracks of the forest, he did not, at first, meet the frog, but did run into a number of other animals. First, a rabbit crossed his path.
Andrew:    As usual, the rabbit took one look at him, made a sneering remark about the smell, and hopped off contemptuously into the undergrowth.
James:    Next, at a watering hole deep within the heart of the forest, he came across a snake.
Andrew:    The snake hissed at him, protested, and chased him off from the water saying that it wasn't for the likes of him.
James:    Finally, near an old lighting-struck bole deep within the forest, he met a weasel.
Andrew:    The weasel too was contemptuous and pelted the poor skunk with bits of twigs and acorns, chasing him off and jeering him as he retreated hurt as much in spirit as in body.
James:    Plodding back towards his home, the skunk was not in a happy place.
Andrew:    The contrast of the previous days elation could not have been more bitter to him. After years of resigning himself to lonely isolation, he had finally had a sense of what it would be like to be befriended by another animal only to have it snatched away from him.
James:    He slept that night through the dark hours, shivering, and very much alone.
Andrew:    At last, he found himself in the arms of sleep and strange dreams crossed to the screen of his mind.
James:    First, there was the rabbit that he had encountered that morning, but now, instead of running away from him, the rabbit welcomed him with open paws.
Andrew:    Next, there was the snake waiting by the watering hole who this time allowed him to drink his fill of water and pass the time of day pleasantly.
James:    Finally, there was the weasel, who instead of pelting him with nuts and acorns, instead offered to share his bounty.
Andrew:    And finally after these there charming encounters, he met his new friend, the frog, on the way home and they talked of many things.
James:    The skunk woke once more happy and optimistic about the day ahead.
Andrew:    He set out along the forest part of the spring in his step determined to find the frog and to seek his counsel on the curious dream that he had had.
James:    He tried first along the central paths and roads keeping out of others' way but looking carefully for the frog and when he did not find him there, he tried the watering holes one by one and finally, he started working through the outskirts of the forest, the perimeter where it bled off into grasslands. And there, he found the frog.
Andrew:    The frog was sitting on a log at the edge of the forest contentedly ribbiting, breathing in and out, and looking down across the slope of the field to the river at the bottom.
James:    "What ho, frog?" said the skunk.
Andrew:    The frog looked round, "Ah, it is my friend, the skunk," he said. "And how are you on this wonderful autumnal day?"
James:    The skunk explained that although the previous day had been very upsetting, he had had a curious dream with positivity and delightful conversation and was wondering if the frog had any idea what it might mean.
Andrew:    "Ah," said the frog, "dreams are a mysterious thing. Sometimes they tell us the truth. Sometimes they tell us the opposite. On this occasion, I wonder."
James:    "But what should I do? I cannot see myself having such wonderful interactions with other creatures in the forest and yet, that is the thing I desire most," said the skunk.
Andrew:    "Ah," said the frog, "It is a difficult question, is it not? I myself wish that I could stay here and pass conversation with you every day, but alas, I must make my way down to the river and then back home for my animal holiday is going to an end."
James:    "What do you mean?" asked the skunk who was not really aware of there being animal or creatures beyond the forest at all.
Andrew:    "Well, I mean," said the frog, "that I must return home. I must go back to the river and then turn right along it and there I will find the other frogs, the newts, the water rats who are my friends and acquaintances.
James:    The skunk was quite taken aback. The idea of creatures living in a riverbank rather than in the welcoming forest was utterly alien to him and yet, also intriguing.
Andrew:    "Do you think," said the skunk, "do you think that I might come with you to this riverbank? Do you think that some of your friends and acquaintances might be more welcoming to me than the animals of the forest?"
James:    "Well," said the frog, "I cannot see why not. My frog and toad friends are most gentle and gracious creatures and the voles that live in the riverbank just next to me are some of the friendliest creatures I have ever had the pleasure to get acquainted with."
Andrew:    "Shall we make our way there now?" said the skunk, hoping that he was not being too presumptuous.
James:    "I think perhaps we should," said the frog and hopped onto the skunk's back. "If I'm not being too presumptuous as to ask for a ride."
Andrew:    Off they set, skunk and frog together, strolling down towards the river, passing the time in pleasant conversation.
    I'm Andrew and I'm here with James. These stories were recorded without advanced planning and then lightly edited for the discerning listener. Join us next time for More Totally Made Up Tales.

Dec 9, 2016

Our main story in this episode is The Curse of the Royal Soil: A Marvellous Tale of the Sleeping Princess, the Watcher of Flowers and the Unfortunate Messenger and the Hardships that Befell and how things came to Pass in the End. Preceded by a couple of shorts: first, Mr McGregor gets his comeuppance, and then we meet the King and the Golden Pig.

Music: Creepy – Bensound.com.

 

James:    Here are some Totally Made Up Tales brought to you by the magic of the internet.


Andrew:    "Have you seen my cup? It's full of coffee and I want it." Mr. McGregor was a bastard. Everyone hated him, particularly the morning when he fired half his staff. Subsequently, the remaining staff plotted to kill him in a devious fashion.
    "We could booby trap his car."
    "Too risky. What if it caught fire and blew up on us?"
    "We could tamper with his swivel chair."
    "Too fraught. We've no way to ensure he sits on it."
    "We could knife him."
    "Yes! That's the simplest solution."
    So, one day, Mr. McGregor was reading the newspaper while someone fetched his coffee, and Mavis from Accounts snuck up behind him and knifed him where it hurt. The police determined the cause of death was accidental consumption of a knife, and no one was punished.
    The end.


James:    Once upon a time, back when things like this happened, a golden pig was due to be sold at market.
Andrew:    The king heard of it and immediately went to buy it as a gift for his wife.
James:    He was opportunistic and wily, far more cunning than your everyday royal.
Andrew:    The previous king was a fool, and had died a poor man's death and thus he was cunning but had no money. How was he to obtain the pig?
James:    First, he took a sandwich from the royal table and traded it for a cockerel.
Andrew:    The cockerel, in turn, he traded for an abacus.
James:    The abacus he swapped for a cart.
Andrew:    For the cart, he removed both wheels and swapped the parts for a barrel of ale and two goats.
James:    Two weeks later, he had enough finally for the golden pig.
Andrew:    But alas, it had been sold to a merchant.
James:    Who should it belong to? The king, who as king, naturally felt he had some claim over the nicer things in the land, even though he was so poor, or the merchant who had bought it fairly at market?
Andrew:    There was only one way to decided the dispute: through a traditional fiddle contest.
James:    The day of the fiddle day dawned bright and crisp, and the common folks started running around, excited by the prospects of the contest ahead.
Andrew:    The merchant rose early and tuned his fiddle.
James:    The king, meanwhile, slept in 'til noon, trusting in his luck.
Andrew:    The referee declared that they would begin with shanties and both played vigorously. Victory fell to the merchant.
James:    The second round was jigs and one after another, both men played with gusto, but once more, the merchant was victorious.
Andrew:    Finally came waltzes, and here the king had the edge for he was naturally in three parts, as many monarchs are.
James:    With the waltz going on in the background, the populous was swept up in dance and the pig danced away too.
Andrew:    The king was declared the loser, but having learned the waltz, he couldn't complain.

    And now: The Curse of the Royal Soil: A Marvellous Tale of the Sleeping Princess, the Watcher of Flowers and the Unfortunate Messenger and the Hardships that Befell and how things came to Pass in the End.

    Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived a woman in a cottage.
James:    She had lived there all of her life and before her, her mother and before her and before her, back as far as the villagers around her could remember.
Andrew:    She was renowned, far and wide, for her wonderful talent of growing flowers.
James:    She did not grow flowers in the way that you or I would. There was never a hint of pruning or grooming or watering or feeding.
Andrew:    She was an exponent of the now-forgotten and no longer taught art of flower watching.
James:    She would gather herself, sitting on the ground and with an intense look of concentration upon her face, will forth flowers to erupt from the ground in front of her.
Andrew:    The flowers that she grew were beautifully fragrant, colourful, attractive, alluring, bewitching.
James:    All through the kingdom, she was known for this, and much sought after, for her flowers could bring couples together, could enable them to conceive and could, in some cases, heal even the most ghastly sickness.
Andrew:    Anybody experiencing drama, passion, confusion or loss in their life would surely want her flowers in their time of need to comfort them and to bring them through to safety.
James:    In times long past, the flower watchers had been a redoubtable sect, many of whom went into battle for their kings and queens, but these days, there is only her left.
Andrew:    One day, while hard at work in her garden raising flowers, a man came down the lane leading to her house, riding a fast horse.
James:    She could tell from the way that the horse was panting and blowing air through its nostrils that this man had ridden long, far and indeed hard to get here to her.
Andrew:    Her keen eyesight detected that he was in the livery of a royal footman, someone coming to see her from the palace. Something must be afoot with the royal family.
James:    The messenger arrived at her door, swung down from his horse and prostrated himself in front of her.
    "His majesty, the king, requests that you come at once to assist his daughter, the princess."
Andrew:    "But what is wrong with the princess?" she asked, "I must know the sickness that I am being asked to cure."
James:    "Nobody can tell," said the messenger, and indeed, it was true. For the princess had fallen into a deep coma and although many curatives had been tried, many people had been consulted and even the greatest magic had been attempted, nothing had been able to rouse her from her slumber.
Andrew:    "Very well," said the flower-watcher, gathering herself together. And, mounting the horse behind the messenger, they rode back to the palace.
James:    As their horse approached the capital city, the woman could see far and wide the signs of grieving within the kingdom.
Andrew:    The princess was a popular figure and people were beside themselves with sadness and worry that she should have been taken sick so close to the eve of her 18th birthday.
James:    Flags were flown at half mast, many people wandered through the streets weeping openly, and when they reached the palace gates, they were received at once by the king.
Andrew:    "Ah, I have a great sorrow in my heart," said the king, "my daughter, my beloved daughter lies sick and surely you can bring her to life again."
James:    The plant-watcher was shown to the chambers of the princess where already all around her bed had been placed planters full of soil, ready for her to do her work.
Andrew:    "Leave me in peace," she said, "I must have peace to concentrate. I shall raise a bed of fine roses and the scent will surely wake your daughter from her slumber as we pass it under her beautiful nose."
James:    And so, as the rest of them excused themselves, she sat on the floor at the foot of the princess's bed and started to concentrate.
Andrew:    The minutes passed, the hours passed, the days passed, and when one full week had gone by, the first red rose begun to open its bud and the petals spread wide, releasing their scent into the air.
James:    The plant-watcher opened her eyes and smiled and looked at the princess lying on the bed.
Andrew:    She took the red rose and passed it gently across the princess's face, taking great care not to scratch the royal brow with any of the thorns.
James:    The princess twitched in her sleep, but did not rouse.
Andrew:    The wise flower-watcher immediately knew that all was not as it seemed. She returned to the anxiously waiting king and queen and said to them, "your majesties, I fear that there is something that you are not telling me.
James:    It is clear to me that the princess is held back within her childhood and so a beautiful rose in the soil of the place that she grew up should indeed have roused her."
Andrew:    At that, the king turned to his wife and receiving a barely perceptible nod from her, said, "ah, there is a sad tale that few people know but that you can be entrusted with in our hour of need.
James:    The princess did not grow up within these walls, but in a faraway castle owned by her father, my brother.
Andrew:    He died tragically in the civil war and after that, I adopted her and since then, the castle has lain empty on the edge of a desolate marsh on a windswept coast looked after only by an elderly caretaker."
James:    "Very well," said the flower-watcher, "you must send at once a messenger to this castle, for the only way to bring the princess back to you is using flowers grown in the soil of her childhood."
Andrew:    And so it was that the same messenger, the fastest rider in the king's forces, was sent out to ride to the very farthest edge of the kingdom across the desolate marsh to the windswept coast where the abandoned castle stood.
James:    As he crested the last hill before the marsh, he saw the castle just peeking over the edge of the horizon.
Andrew:    And, as the miles of marshland passed under the hooves of his horse and the castle grew larger and closer, it seemed to him to be a place of great desolation.
James:    Dismounting, he was met at the castle walls by an old man.
Andrew:    "Ah, you'll be the messenger then," said the old man.
James:    "I am here on an urgent mission from the king," said the messenger, "I must have —"
Andrew:    "Yes, yes, you must have, you must have. Come, come first. There is no hurry here, young man. You must be hungry and your horse needs water."
James:    So saying, the messenger followed the old man inside and as he did, he could not help but notice that the beds that normally should be teeming with flowers were barren and empty.
Andrew:    And the vegetable garden too was terribly overgrown, the orchard, in fact, everywhere that plants grew was a mess.
James:    After stabling and watering his horse, the old man led the messenger into the great hall where he put down in front of him a strange meal of berries and fruit.
Andrew:    "Let me tell you a tale, young man," he said as the messenger tucked hungrily into the strange dishes in front of him. "Let me tell you a tale of this castle and how it came to be abandoned.
James:    I was a much younger man when I first saw this castle. I was carrying the sad news of the death of its lord and master.
Andrew:    It was during the time of the civil war, a sad chapter in our nation's history when two royal brothers fought for control of the land.
James:    I was the last bearer of the sad tidings of the death of the prince and when I told his wife, she was sore stricken with grief.
Andrew:    So badly did this news affect her, so deep was her grief that before my very eyes, she slit her own throat. The blood ran across the courtyard of the castle and seeped into its very soil.
James:    She had been buried barely a day when the new king's men came to take the princess away to the capital, and I remained here along with the last of the old family's retainers.
Andrew:    From that day onwards, the atmosphere of the place seemed to change. It was as if all the life had gone out of the very stones of the building, and one by one, the venerable plants, the ancient trees, the thriving vegetables in the gardens and orchards of the castle began to wither and die.
James:    And more slowly but just as inexorably, the retainers, one by one, wasted away before my very eyes.
Andrew:    It seems to strange to me that each of them in turn would from some inexplicable sickness waste into nothingness and I pondered long and hard what it could be that had caused their death.
James:    Eventually, I realised that I'd been so horrified by the manner of the old queen's death that I had avoided anything to do with the courtyard ever since.
Andrew:    Anybody who had gone through that courtyard or touched its soil tainted by the blood of her royal suicide was cursed."
James:    The young messenger put his head in his hands.
Andrew:    The blood drained from his face and the young man emitted a low moan. "Oh the tragedy, for it is that very soil which I have been sent here to collect on behalf of his royal majesty."
James:    "You'd better use gloves," said the old man.
Andrew:    Early next morning as the sun was peeping over the horizon, the messenger woke and went down to the courtyard with the gloves and trowel that the old retainer had given him.
James:    He carefully filled a satchel with the royal soil and prepared to ride back to the capital.
Andrew:    Pausing at the gate of the castle, he turned to wave farewell to the old man who had been so helpful, and in doing so noticed a tiny speck of the soil that had lodged on the edge of his wrist.
James:    Dismissing the man's tale as mere superstition, he flicked the soil away with his gloved hand and rode off back to the capital.
Andrew:    All day and all night, he rode and the next day, he arrived at the castle and was ushered immediately into the royal bed chamber by the king's steward.
James:    There, the flower-watcher carefully took the soil and distributed it amongst the planters to provide the environment of the princess's childhood that was necessary to bring her back.
Andrew:    And so it was, dear listener, that everything turned out as the flower-watcher said it would do. The rose was grown in the soil of the princess's childhood. The scent awoke her from her deep slumber. She was able to celebrate her 18th birthday and come of age and all was well. Except for one person.
James:    In the days after the celebration, the messenger noticed nothing different, but as the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, he began to feel a hunger that he could not satiate.
Andrew:    Since that one fateful day, the day on which first he touched the royal soil and then he saw the sleeping princess, there had been but one all-consuming thought in his mind at all times.
James:    The image of her behind his eyelids as he slept at night, the vision of her in front of them as he wandered through the city during the day… he could not think of anything else.
Andrew:    Ah, so deeply was he in love with the princess that he pined and pined and began slowly to waste away.
James:    After a few months, he was unable to continue his job as a messenger and after a couple of years, he was unable to continue to afford living in the capital and wandered the country increasingly alone.
Andrew:    A lonely nomad he was. He ended up, after years of wandering, in the farthest parts of the kingdom, and one day, he came over the crest of a hill, and saw before him a wide and bleak marsh.
James:    On the road in front of him there lay a dying soldier who called out to him.
Andrew:    "Young man," cried the soldier, "young man, please help me. I am on an urgent mission that I will not be able to complete for I am expiring."
James:    And the soldier told the young man of the battle that he had come from and the prince who had fallen there.
Andrew:    "Go — go convey this message to the queen in the castle that her lord and husband is dead. Take it to her personally. You are the last bearer of the news."
James:    On the other side of the country, the flower-watcher sat on the dirt in the middle of her house and started to concentrate.
Andrew:    First she imagined a tiny seed deep underground. Then she imagined the first tiny root and shoot, each reaching out boldly in opposite directions.
James:    In her mind, she saw the root system develop and strengthen and the shoot gradually make its way to the surface.
Andrew:    Meanwhile, in a far-off castle in barren soil, a solitary snow drop poked its head up through a long-neglected flowerbed and the process of renewal at last began.
James:    I've been James and I'm here with Andrew. These stories were recorded without advanced planning and lightly edited for the discerning listener. Join us next time for more totally made-up tales.

Nov 22, 2016

In episode 7, we meet King Dubious III in the last days of his reign, and join Keith McGreggor as he comes out of retirement to investigate The Bad Debtor.

Music: Creepy – Bensound.com.

 

Andrew:    Here are some totally made up tales, brought to you by the magic of the internet. We begin with the Sealed Instructions.


Andrew & James (alternating words):
    It was the night of the coronation of King Dubious the Third. His beautiful wife was waiting for him in their royal bedchamber while he finished up his duties. All the castle was asleep. Tomorrow, the festivities would last all day long. There would be dancing and music. Dignitaries would come and celebrate the beginning of his reign. Tonight, he was writing a list of instructions in case of his death. He sealed them into a box and placed the box in a special cupboard ensorcelled by the royal magician. "Have you finished, dear?" said his wife. "Yes," he replied, and they kissed.
    Morning dawned, the castle bathed in glorious light, and people milling around, waiting for the events to begin. In the guardhouse, there was a small chance that something would go wrong. This was the job of Sergeant Major Keen, who would lift the drawbridge if an attack was imminent. He was an experienced man who knew his job. His assistant however was new, and required a considerable amount of attention. "Why are you not ready yet?" asked Sergeant Major Keen. "I'm still getting a tabard on," replied his young assistant, Jeffery. "That should have been done hours ago," said the Sergeant Major. "Here, let me," and so he helped Jeffery put his tabard on, and didn't keep an eye on the horizon.
    Over to the West, there was a cloud of dust as a band of marauding bandits charged towards the castle on horseback. A vicious cry leapt from their mouths as they closed in rapidly. "Death to the people! Death to Dubious!" they cried, crossing the drawbridge into the keep, slaughtering all before them. Dubious heard a commotion outside, and pulled back the curtain to look down, and gasped. He pulled out his trusty sword and ran into the midst of the melee, and soon he faced his opponent, the leader of the band, General D. Hunter, the outlaw. "So," said the General, "we meet at last. Now, I have your castle at my whim. Soon I will have your throne." "Not so fast," said the king, and they fought.
    I was but a young pigeon at the time, watching this from afar. It was a terrible sight. Thousands of men were slaughtered, and women were killed. Children died, animals too. It was terrible. After the battle had ended, only one man remained. It was the Sergeant Major, who had managed to defend his post using his trusty sword and considerable experience. Jeffery had, however, perished at the first hurdle. Keen became briefly king. However, the instructions in the envelope were for the eventuality of the former king on his death. In them, he had laid down a series of retaliatory steps that had to be taken if he was killed in battle. The heavy-hearted Keen enacted each to the letter, and destroyed all around. Now, there is nowhere in that country for any bird to land or eat its fill. The end.

    Leave your prejudice behind when engaging in discourse with others.


    Mary had a little problem. Her lamb was ill. She took him to the vet, and the vet said, "Yes. He has a disease called laryngitis." "Oh," said Mary. "That sounds terrible." "Yes," said the vet. "We'll have to remove his voice box." After the operation, Mary's lamb was right as rain, except he couldn't baa any more. Mary was distraught and ate him on her own[…or birthday, or plate].


    Shaving foam will make you frothy, so rub it on your face daily.


    Once upon a time, there was a rabbit. He lived in the middle of a royal wood with his friends, and they had joyous sex. One day, the most enormous fox appeared on the edge of the forest, and started sniffing for rabbits. The rabbits were afraid. "Never trust a fox," said the eldest. "Come to me," cried the fox. "Little rabbits, I've a special surprise for you." "Ooh," said some younger rabbits, and went, and saw, and got eaten by the fox. The moral is simple. Don't trust a fox.


    Brush your hair with dynamite for that special look.


    Gary went to his mother's house for dinner. She was cooking lasagna. He loved lasagna, and particularly his mother's. She got the recipe from her mother who had been chef to the king of Italy. This recipe was wanted in every kingdom of the world, but Gary's mother kept it to herself. He loved her, and grew fat on her pasta. The end.

Andrew:    Now, The Bad Debtor, a Keith McGreggor mystery.


James and Andrew (alternating sentences):
    Keith was a retired police officer. He'd spent twenty years or more working for the force, and much of that time had been taken up with petty crime, run-of-the-mill traffic violations, things like that. The occasional high-profile case with some national media interest had made him into somewhat of a local celebrity, but now that he was retired, he was happy to slip into quiet obscurity. These days, an exciting time was if he managed to catch a fish down by the canal. Fishing was a fantastic occupation. It was regimented. It required equipment. It got him out of the house. It was something to keep him busy in the long years of quiet solitude ahead.
    One day, while waiting for the fish to bite, he was looking around as he often did, and noticed a man and a woman on the other side of the canal. Both smartly dressed, the young man in a dark suit, the woman in a light blouse and skirt and high heels, the man was passing the woman some kind of envelope. Keith wondered about this, his police instinct suggesting to him that no good was being done here. Why were these two professional-looking people down among the warehouses on the wrong side of the canal next to the railway track at lunch time? "Up to no good," he thought to himself, and resolved to find out.
    Quickly and discreetly, he packed his equipment away, keeping half an eye on them, and looped round using the foot bridge that crossed the canal. Hurrying so as not to let them out of his sight, he trailed them back up into town, where the man went left onto the high street and disappeared into the bank. The woman he continued following as she went past the shops and out towards the high school. She paused at the gates of the school and tucked the envelope into her handbag.
    He noticed as she did so that it wasn't the kind of handbag that you'd expect to see a schoolteacher carrying. It was an expensive designer one, and new-looking. Now that he came to look more closely, her clothes were higher-end than he'd expect, and she was wearing very expensive shoes as well. She hurried across the front yard of the school and into the staff room, where she greeted colleagues and started to make a cup of tea.
    As the bell for the end of lunch rang, Keith returned home to think about this. How would a high school teacher afford such fancy things? He fired up his computer to see what he could find out about her online. After a couple of hours of research, he hit upon the fact that he had been looking for. She was, thanks to her postings on Facebook, he knew, heavily in debt to the bank, and he presumed that she must have been taking out a series of loans and extending them over time in order to fuel a lifestyle that she was ill-able to afford, a behaviour that he recognised all too often from his career of dealing with people who had unwittingly entered a life of crime. Who then was the man from the bank, and what was he paying her for?
    The following day, he went into the bank in order to investigate getting a loan for, he said, some minor home improvements. He was interested to see would the young man be involved in the process, and if not, how did he fit in? First, the woman behind the counter helped him fill out the application form. He would, she pointed out, have to have an interview before being approved for the loan. "Would it be possible to have the interview today? It's just, I'm here now," he said. Checking the diary, she was able to put him into an appointment forty-five minutes later, time he spent doing the crossword.
    "Do step this way," said a man in a smart pinstripe suit, and showed him into a dingy, windowless office of the kind that was deeply familiar to him from his life in the police force. But this man was not the young man he was looking for. Older, close to retirement age, he took Keith through the formal interview process that the bank required. "I wonder if I could have a glass of water," asked Keith. "My throat is rather parched from all this talking." "Of course," said the bank manager, pressing a small button recessed discreetly into his desk. "Phillip, could I have another cup of white coffee and a glass of water, please?"
    Just as they were finishing up the interview, Phillip came through with the drinks. This was the young man that Keith had been looking for. Clearly he was a more junior member of staff, so how had he become connected with the woman? Perhaps, as he had done today, she had seen him when she came in to discuss her loan. He would have to follow the young man and keep him under close observation to find out what was going on between the two of them.
    After his appointment at the bank, Keith left and crossed the road to a small café, where he found a table in the window and sat, nursing a series of cups of milky tea. At closing time, he observed the young man exiting the bank and furtively looking both ways before hurrying off down a side street. A lifetime working in law enforcement had taught Keith that when people knew that they were doing something suspicious or wrong, they often gave it away in the way that they walked. This man knew he was up to no good. But what exactly was it that he was up to?
    Keith followed at a discreet distance as the young man also followed the road up towards the high school, but it was nearly 6 o'clock now, and surely the building would be locked up? Lingering at the gates as the young man walked across the car park, Keith noticed the young woman leaving by a side exit. She waved to him, and the young man came over. She let him in and closed the door furtively behind the both of them. Keith crossed the car park and checked. The door was locked, and he wouldn't be able to get in this way.
    Quickly, he walked around the perimeter of the school until he came to the main entrance, where he knocked on the window. The janitor sitting behind the glass slid the pane across and popped his head out. "Oh, hello, Keith," said the janitor, who knew him from angling circles. "I'm not here in an official capacity," said Keith, "but I wonder if…" "I'll let you right in," said the janitor, who implicitly trusted Keith. "There's a side door that you can see from the car park. Where does that let into?" "Oh, that would go straight to the gymnasium," said the janitor. "Second on the left."
    Keith hurried through the corridors and found his way into the empty gymnasium building. It was extraordinary the strange, eerie atmosphere of the twisty corridors of an empty school at night, and took him back to his own school days. Moving softly down the corridor, he listened at each door, trying to determine the location of the interlopers. He heard a muffled thump and hurried towards it, which brought him in the direction of the girl's locker room. Pausing again, he waited for the opportune time to make his move.
    He pushed the door slightly and slowly ajar in a way that wouldn't draw attention to itself, a trick that he had learned as a young police officer, and that had served him well on many occasions. Voices came to him from deeper within the locker room, the man and the woman talking softly. "Is this what you're looking for?" he heard her say. "That's perfect," he heard in the man's voice, slightly excited and anxious at the same time. Keith pushed the door open, and the young couple froze. The young woman was rummaging through an open locker, while the man sat beside her, his face buried in a pair of panties. The woman let out a startled cry, and the large bunch of locker room keys that she'd been holding in her left hand fell to the floor with a crash.
    "However did you figure it out?" asked the police chief some days later. "It was simple, really," said Keith. "Once I discovered about the debt, it was just a case of tracing the relationship between the two of them. She must have discovered him sniffing around the locker room at some point and recognised his perversion. When she went to the bank to have the terms of her loan extended and was refused, she saw him there, and had a quiet word with him. She would, in exchange for small sums of money on a regular basis, allow him access to the locker room out of hours. She has no future in education, and he is now in the hands of the court."
    "How's the fishing?" asked the chief constable. "Never better," said Keith.


Andrew:    I've been Andrew, and I'm here with James. These stories were recorded without advanced planning, and then lightly edited for the discerning listener. Join us next time for more totally made-up tales.

Oct 7, 2016

In episode 6, we finish the story of the Rosewood Unicorn, along with meeting Theresa who runs a comforting bookshop, and seeing what happens when the Dean Drops In.

Music: Creepy – Bensound.com.

 

James:

Here are some totally made-up tales brought to you by the magic of the internet.

 

 

We start with the Dean Drops In.

 

Andrew:

The head librarian looked up from her desk at the sound of a knock of the door of her wood panelled office.

 

James:

Perhaps, she thought, it was her assistant with the soup for lunch. But, no, standing in the doorway was the Dean of the University.

 

Andrew:

"May, I come in?" he said in his patrician drawl that he had spent years perfecting.

 

James:

"Of course, Dean," she said drawing a chair for him on the other side of her immense desk.

 

Andrew:

"I wondered if I might speak to you about the little subject of books?" He said.

 

James:

"Ah, yes, books," said the head librarian, "they are indeed in my remit."

 

Andrew:

"Yes," he said, "I was wondering if that is really the most efficient way for us to work? Do you think we might re-visit the whole topic?"

 

James:

The head librarian thought for a moment. This was a familiar pattern with the Dean, walking in and sparring with members of his faculty, threatening to take away certain responsibilities or authority. But this, she felt, was going further.

 

Andrew:

Books had always been at the heart of University life and at the heart life and at the heart of learning and culture and damn if she was going to lose them.

 

James:

Although the library contained a large number of things that were not by any stretch of the imagination books, she felt that reducing herself to only looking after those would inevitably see the library become part of some other faculty, such as languages or perhaps the modern hearts.

 

Andrew:

She turned over in her mind the best way to conquer this threat to her domain. What could she do?

 

James:

Smiling gently at the Dean, she walked around the large desk flicking open a small drawer as she went and withdrawing a jewel-encrusted dagger.

 

Andrew:

This she delicately plunged into his back behind the middle of the rib cage, up into his heart and withdrew it wiping it on her handkerchief.

 

James:

"Chelsea," she called for her assistant, "file this under D for dead things."

 

 

And now: Part II of the Rosewood Unicorn.

 

Andrew:

The day dawned bright and fair. There was not a cloud in the sky. It was the 17th birthday of the Princess Caroline.

 

James:

She rose early and was dressed in the most sumptuous clothes by her maids and prepared for the full day of celebration before her.

 

Andrew:

In the morning she toured around the capital city meeting, greeting, receiving birthday wishes from the loyal subjects of the king among whom she was so popular.

 

James:

At lunch there was a great banquet with many of the princes from surrounding kingdoms vying for her hand in marriage, not knowing, for the king had never disclosed to anyone the deal he had made with the Man in Black.

 

Andrew:

The afternoon she had for recreation, for it was her birthday after all. She went for a pleasant walk in the gardens and played a game of tennis.

 

James:

And just before the evening meal, as she had for so many years, she played briefly with the unicorn toy that she had been given so many years ago. Although it was no longer alive, she still loved it with a strange passion from her past.

 

Andrew:

After a busy day, her birthday ended with a simple meal for the most immediate members of the royal family in their private dining room. They had a delicious, but not extravagant meal, and had come to the end of it.

 

James:

There was a knock at the door to the royal suit.

 

Andrew:

"Who could that be?" said the Queen. "This is a very late hour for us to be interrupted by an urgent message or an embassy from a foreign power."

 

James:

The King signalled to one of the servants to open the door and inquire who it was at this late hour.

 

Andrew:

The double doors were flung open and framed in silhouette against the flickering candlelight from the corridor behind, was the Man in Black.

 

James:

"I have come," he said, "as we agreed."

 

Andrew:

Well, there ensued a rather complicated conversation. The King had a great deal of explaining to do. The Queen was unhappy. Princess Caroline was unhappy. Tears were shed, voices were raised, but the Man in Black was implacable and the King was a man of his word. There was no way around it other than Princess Caroline should immediately pack her things and leave.

 

James:

Tearfully she looked around her rooms deciding what she would take with her. There was no need, perhaps, for many of the things that she normally liked to wear or many of the books that she usually read from. She packed a small bag, taking with her only a couple changes of clothing and the unicorn.

 

Andrew:

The Man in Black had a fine black horse, strong and sturdy waiting in the courtyard, steam rising from his nostrils as it stamped its hooves and shook its head. "Climb aboard," he said.

 

James:

She swing herself up behind him. The bag pressed between the two of them. Almost as a wall between her and, as she thought of him, her captor.

 

Andrew:

They rode through the night. Across lands that the princess had never seen before and had barely known existed. Across forests and fields, mountains, valleys, they forded rivers, until at length they came to the far off land where the Man in Black ruled.

 

James:

A dark, sinister castle thrust itself out of the naked rock. Towers twisting towards the sky. Around it a dark and menacing forest stretched as far as the eyes could see. As the Man rode his horse, Caroline behind him, down the single, narrow path through the forest, she, tired from their journey, gradually slipped off to sleep.

 

Andrew:

The next day, the princes awoke. At first, she was aware of being in a comfortable bed so familiar to the one that she had slept in for many years. But soon she realised that, no, she was not in the bed chamber that she had grown up in, but she was in a different castle in a different land starting a new life.

 

James:

She crept out of her bedroom and started to explore around the castle very soon finding the main hall where the Man in Black was taking breakfast.

 

Andrew:

"Ha-ha, my dear, you are awake," he said with great charm and courtesy. "We'll you join me for breakfast? I have all the goods that one could possibly want to eat."

 

James:

As he spoke, she realised that she was hungry and sat down to eat some of the most delicious fruits and meats that she had ever tasted.

 

Andrew:

The spread was vast and she ate her fill and was sitting in quiet contentment when her husband spoke.

 

James:

"Now you have come to live here you will, of course, have all of the benefits of my country. The best food, the most delicious wine, the most compliant servants; however, I do regret that you will never be able to go back and see your family again. That is just the way that these things work, I'm afraid."

 

Andrew:

The princess was heartbroken. She said nothing and left the table and returned to her room, tears brimming in her eyes.

 

James:

She threw herself down upon the bed attempting to smother her tears in the pillow. Before long she felt a touch on her arm. She started, looking down her arm she noticed the unicorn and it tossed its head.

 

Andrew:

"What on earth," she exclaimed looking down at the toy from her childhood. "But all those years ago you, surely you, I remember ..."

 

James:

It nudged her with its horn gently and then cantered up to her face.

 

Andrew:

"Oh, you've come back to me just at the moment which I needed a friend. Thank you, thank you, thank you," she said, kissing it on its back.

 

James:

That night Caroline waited until she was certain that all in the castle were asleep before taking the unicorn in her pocket and creeping down to the great hall.

 

Andrew:

There, she gathered up the things that she would need for a long journey and made her way outside through the kitchens.

 

James:

The circle of the trees of the dark forest surrounded the castle and she could not see the path. So thinking that any direction was as good as any other, she picked one and started walking.

 

Andrew:

The forest at night was strange and eerie but she was a confident young woman and with her trusty unicorn and her provisions, she strolled ahead without fear.

 

James:

She walked through the night and as the first hints of dawn started to be visible through the dark trees, she finally came across a clearing and in the centre of the clearing was the castle.

 

Andrew:

She was bitterly disappointed. "Oh, I must have taken a wrong turning somewhere or followed a path that came around. What a foolish mistake to make." But she realised that it would be futile to try and leave again during the daytime when she could be seen by everyone in the castle and she returned to the great hall for breakfast.

 

James:

The following night she tried again. Once more as dawn started to creep across the land, she found herself back at the castle.

 

Andrew:

She made several attempts over the following nights to escape. Each time taking a different path, recording the path that she had gone down by making a mark on the barks of the trees, but each time it brought her back to the castle at daybreak. Then while sitting down to breakfast the Man in Black addressed her.

 

James:

"I told you, but you did not believe me. There is no way that you can leave this place and see your family again."

 

Andrew:

"And indeed why would you want to? Here you will have a life of complete contentment. We have a peaceful land where we are unchallenged in our rule. You will have a life of ease and joy. You should accustom yourself to it and not seek to escape."

 

James:

Caroline ran from the table up to her room and threw herself down on the bed in despair.

 

Andrew:

"Oh, what shall I do?" she said to the unicorn as they played together. "What shall I do? It is comfortable here and life could be easy and it is impossible to escape, but I oh I miss my family so. What shall I do?"

 

James:

That night she did not try to escape and as she lay sleeping the unicorn thought.

 

Andrew:

The unicorn was a sensitive beast and hated to see the mistress who it loved in so much pain and discomfort. "How can I help?" it thought. "How can I help her to escape?"

 

James:

The unicorn understood the magic that controlled the forest and the routes through it. The unicorn made of rosewood from the great tree that stood at the centre of the forest, was well aware of exactly how the Man in Black's magic constrained the Princes Caroline. The unicorn knew that this particular spell was powerful and woven through the very fabric of the castle and the forest itself and that only one thing could cause it to fail.

 

Andrew:

The unicorn, a magical animal, understood the ways of the occult and knew that the only way to break the spell and to transport the princess back to her childhood home where she so longed to go, was to burn a part of the magical forest that formed that the impenetrable boundary around the castle along with an item from the desired destination of the traveler. The unicorn rooted around through the possessions that the princess had brought with her from her home and found one of the scarves that had been given to her in her childhood.

 

James:

Now all of the unicorn had to do was to burn this with part of the rosewood heart of the forest. But now the Princess Caroline never went outside. She always wanted to stay within her room and play and the unicorn could not deny her that.

 

Andrew:

Although it bided its time hoping for an opportunity to be taken outside so that it could collect something from the forest, the days turned into weeks, the weeks turned into months and the princess was beginning to waste away with sadness and despair.

 

James:

Seeing her condition, the unicorn knew that it could not wait and that its chance to get outside into the forest might never appear. It took the scarf, wrapped it around itself and when the princess was not looking, cantered into the fireplace where it burned completely.

 

Andrew:

The day dawned bright and fair. There was not a cloud in the sky. It was the seventh birthday of the Princess Caroline.

 

James:

She woke excited for the day's festivities ahead and as she always did, she started her day by playing with the delicate and beautiful swan that she had been given for Christmas. Made by the finest toy maker in the land.

 

Andrew:

The door of her bedroom opened and her kindly aunt and uncle beamed down on her. "Come my child, let us have a celebratory breakfast on this your special day. A happy birthday to our beloved child and the most special girl in all the land."

 

Alternating:

Theresa was a pleasant lady who ran the bookshop in town. Every time she wanted a breath of fresh air, she would walk outside into the square and sit on a stone bench beside the fountain. One day while perambulating, she encountered a small boy who was without his parents. He looked lost and sad. "Are you okay?" she asked. "No," he said, "I've lost my mummy." Theresa took him by the hand and went inside the bookshop. She picked him a book to read and made some tea. As he read to himself, she patted him on the head. He sighed contentedly. "I'm not scared any more."

 

James:

I've been James and I'm here with Andrew. These stories were recorded without advanced planning and lightly edited for the discerning listener. Join us next time for more totally made up tales.

 

Sep 23, 2016

In this episode: the first part of The Rosewood Unicorn. Subscribe to get every episode of Totally Made Up Tales.

Music: Creepy – Bensound.com.

 

Once upon a time, there was a man called Phillip who owned a small shop. In his shop, he stocked mostly wooden toys, but also, these days, a few plastic and metal ones, although he did look down upon them. He himself made most of the wooden toys in his shop, a trade which he had been taught by his father, and his father by his father, and so on for hundreds of years. His toys were known throughout the land as some of the finest wooden toys that you could give.

Wooden toys though were expensive in the modern world. Wood was not a cheap commodity, and each one required great time, care, and patience, one of the reasons why he felt that they were such charming and enduring toys. These days, many parents went straight to the metal and plastic toys, even though he kept only a small display case of them in the shop.

One day, a man came into the store, and came up to the counter, and rang the bell for attention. "Good morning," said Phillip. "How can I help you, sir?" The man said, "I'm looking for a present for my daughter. It must be a very special present, as she is a very special little girl. I want a wooden toy, a wooden toy of a unicorn." Phillip did not have a unicorn available in his shop, but he did promise the man that he would make one as soon as he could, a process which might take, he said, a few weeks, but nonetheless would be ready in time for Christmas. The man thanked him, left his telephone number for Phillip, and left the store with a promise to return.

Over the following days and weeks, Phillip worked hard creating a unicorn out of the finest wood that he had available, carefully sculpting and shaping it, shaving off the excess until he had a perfect unicorn toy ready for the little girl. He looked at it with great joy, placed in on the table in his workshop, turned off the light, and went to bed. The unicorn twitched its nose.


Meanwhile, not very far away, on the other side of town, in the Royal Palace, the king was worried. It had been a difficult year. It had started, as it always did, in the depths of winter, with a catalog of villages that had run out of food, and many of his courtiers had spent considerable time sending packages out through the snow to ensure that none of his subjects had starved. But this had taken a great toll on the store in the Royal Palace, which was designed to help a capital city resist any siege from a rouge nation, and so he felt that he had no option but to raise taxes in order to refill the storehouse.

This troubled the king, for he was generally a man who liked to consider his citizens and subject first, and his own needs later, but he could not allow the capital city to become vulnerable to the scheming of the surrounding nations. "So tell me, Chancellor," he said, after a lengthy pause, "You really feel that the only way that we can raise the necessary funds is with a tax on children's toys?"

"I regret," said the chancellor, "that there are simply no other options available. We have, after all, already taxed window, income, horses, and all transactions of any nature to do with adults only. We must now venture forth into unknown lands of taxation upon the child."

The king knew that the time for decision had come, and uncomfortable though he was with this, it was necessary, and as the king, it was sometimes required that he did things that he did not like for the good of the country. "Very well," he said. "Issue the necessary declarations, and I will sign them." Members of the court went out later that day with banners proclaiming the new tax, nailing them up on notice boards around the city, and out into the towns and villages of the surrounding countryside.

It was a sorry sight to see, amid the Christmas decorations that were being erected, the tinsel, the candles, the displays of toys, these posters. It was as if Christmas was being stolen from the people. Back in the shop, Phillip was getting anxious. The unicorn had taken some considerable skill and time, and thus was very valuable to him, but the man had not yet returned. He looked inside his notebook and found the telephone number and rang it. There was no answer.

"What could be going on?" wondered Phillip. Had it something to do with the new tax imposed on toys? Could this have put the man off? But he seemed like such a wealthy and exacting gentlemen. Surely the extra few percent on top of the current charge would not have put him off. Day after day, Phillip rang the number with no response at any time. He tried different times of day. He tried ringing in the evening, ringing in the morning, before he opened the shop with no difference. Regretfully, he realised that he would have to put the unicorn up for sale in his shop to anyone who might want to come and buy it. After all, it was a fine piece of craftsmanship, and if the man who had commissioned it so clearly did not seem to want it, he would have to find a home for it.

Just then, as he put the unicorn on the shelf and placed a small label below it indicating the price, the door opened. In the doorway stood a messenger from the Royal Palace who had come on the specific instructions of the Queen in search for a special present for her niece. Now, the niece of the King and Queen lived in the palace because the Queen's sister had very unfortunately died of the flu when the girl was very young, and so they had adopted her as their own, even though she was not directly in line for the throne. The King and the Queen loved their niece and often spoiled her, particularly at Christmas, and so the messenger had roamed out amongst the toy shops of the citadel, looking for a perfect gift for the young princess.

"Good afternoon," said the messenger, with great courtesy and dignity. "I am looking for an extremely special toy. I wonder if you could show me the two or three things that you have in your shop that you regard as your finest items?" Phillip of course was delighted to show the messenger the very finest work that he had done, including the unicorn. "Ah, now this is extremely special," said the courtly messenger when looking at the beautiful unicorn. "So expertly carved out of a single block of rosewood. Yes, this is very much what I had in mind. I will take it at once." Phillip wrapped up the unicorn in delicate paper, and put it in a padded box, tied it off with his finest ribbon, and handed it to the messenger along with an invoice that the royal coffers would pay in due course.

It was the night before Christmas in the Royal Palace, and the festive atmosphere of seasonal excitement was tingling in the air. All of the servants were dressed in their very finest, and the king himself was wearing not his normal, regular, everyday crown, but the special one that caught the candles and the glimmers as he strode through the palace.

It was a great tradition in the household that gifts were given at 7pm on Christmas Eve, when the old grandfather clock in the hallway of the Royal bedchambers struck and played a jolly little tune. It was a moment that everybody looked forward to with great anticipation. Known only to the young Princess Caroline, the mechanism in the clock had long since been investigated by her, such that she could now control when it struck seven by carefully manipulating how fast or slow it preceded through the day. It was actually around 5:30 this year, because she was very keen to see what she would get.

As the clock played its jolly tune, everybody gathered in the parlour to receive and give their Christmas gifts. The King's gift to the Queen was a very beautiful painting of the estate that she grew up on, executed by the finest painter in the land. The Queen's gift to the King was a fine new pair of slippers in shot purple silk. Of course, the King and Queen's gift to the Princess Caroline was a small box tied beautifully with a ribbon, which, as she approached it, seemed to move.

She untied the ribbon and removed it from the box. She removed the fine wrapping paper from the outside. She opened the box. She unpacked the tissue paper, and within, she saw the beautiful rosewood unicorn. It caught the light wonderfully, and it seemed to be imbued with charm and personality and love.

And then it bit her.

"Now look here my man," said the king in great exasperation into the mouthpiece of the telephone, "when I order a wooden toy, I expect it to be inanimate, or, at the very least, well-behaved."

Phillip didn't know what to say. "Your majesty," he stammered, desperately trying to think how on earth this simple rosewood toy that he had so lovingly crafted could be anything other than inanimate. "Your majesty, I have been making toys out of wood for all my life, and my father before him, and his father before him, and never before has anyone reported to us anything of this kind at all. They have always been simple wooden toys, alive in the imagination of their young owners, but inert to adults."

"Perhaps you should check the rest of your stock," the King said grumpily, while looking over at the small corral that they had built to contain the unicorn while they decided what to do next.

"Yes, of course, your majesty. Yes, of course. May I send you a selection of toys for your niece to play with while the unicorn is out of service?"

"Actually," said the King, "She's rather taken to it."

Phillip went back into his storeroom and looked around among the supplies and the tools that he had there. None of the other toys were moving in the slightest, but he was able to find the rest of the block of rosewood that he had made the unicorn from. It was stamped in the corner with the serial number from the timber supply yard where he had got it. He went back to his purchase book, and went through the list, and found the details, and saw that it was one that he had bought from a visiting salesman. He rang up the number on the invoice, and asked if there was anything special about this wood.

The person that he spoke to pointed out that it was Christmas Eve, and they were about to close, so there were not many people left, but, after some persuasion, since he was such a well-known figure in the capital city, went to look at their own records, and returned a few minutes later. "We don't have a record of that serial number, I'm afraid, sir. We do have a record of a similar one a couple of batches earlier, which is what we have on record as being the one that you purchased." Something mysterious was clearly going on. He thanked them and hung up the phone, and resolved to think no more on this until after Christmas.

After the Christmas festivities had finished, and people began to return to their normal lives, to their work, or to their school, it was time for the Princess to return and begin her lessons. She had a very strict governess, who had been brought in from an adjacent kingdom, who never let her play during class. However, she was allowed to meet other children in the evenings in her activities, at her ballet lessons, and in her riding lessons. She spoke to them and asked them how their Christmas had been, and what it was that they had received as gifts.
Many of them, due to the recent tax on children's toys, had had a more limited Christmas than previously. Where they might have had two presents, now they only had one. Where they might have had one present, now they had only had one smaller gift. It had been a sad and sorry Christmas for many people who, even if they understood the necessity of the tax, and the fact that the King's hand had been forced, saw him as the person who, having for so long been a bountiful father figure to them, had now stripped away their joy.

The Princess tried to downplay the unicorn as much as she could, but even if she merely mentioned that it was a unicorn made out of rosewood, that was itself a very special toy. If she let slip that it was alive, then that would make all of them jealous. However, she had been raised not to tell falsehoods, and so gradually, the truth got out amongst her playmates.

Rumours spread slowly through the city, as it does, step by step, first small, then a little larger, and finally enormous and malevolent. Everybody knew that the King, who had imposed the tax on toys, and had stripped so many people of their ability to delight their children at Christmas, had himself, for his own niece, purchased a live, magical, wooden unicorn. A ferment of discontent began to grow in the capital city.

Under pressure from petitions left, right, and centre, the King rescinded the tax, having built up some of the supplies of the citadel, and endeavoured to use his own wealth to top up the rest. As a result, people started buying the Christmas toys that they would have bought, but much later. Was this enough, or had the damage to his reputation already been done? Could he command their respect? Would they follow him if he needed to make another pronouncement for the greater good of the country?

One day, while accepting petitioners, the King was startled by someone who did not appear to be a citizen or even a resident of his kingdom. The man who had first asked Phillip for the unicorn toy now stood resplendent in black in front of the King. "Your majesty," he said, "I come to you as a friend, a friend with a proposition. You have in your position a particular toy. You also have a difficulty between you and your people. I can solve these things for you," he said. "With a simple incantation known only to me, the toy will once again become inanimate, inert, and quite normal. At the same time, your people will remember that you have attempted only to act in their good interest, and once more will acknowledge your authority.

"On the other hand," he continued, "with another incantation, equally uniquely stored in my own brain, I can make it the case that people never forget this unicorn, and that the discontent which is beginning now will grow larger and larger and larger. I can make it the case that neighbouring states will begin to declare war on you, and your seed store will be put to the test, your authority tested, leading to revolution."

The King had, it seemed to him, no choice, although, in the months since Christmas, his niece had so fallen in love with the unicorn, that he knew that it would break her heart. "Very well," he said. "What is the price of this incantation which will restore peace and order to our city and state?"

"Well," said the man dressed all in black, "there is, of course, only one price that I would possibly accept for such a powerful incantation. I myself am an extremely wealthy but lonely man, and I have often wanted a bride to be a companion to me in my old age." The King felt he had no choice but to accept, although it grieved him dearly to agree, and so the man said that he would return in ten years to marry the Princess Caroline.

Sep 2, 2016

Our fourth episode of Totally Made Up Tales, with more tales of wonder and mystery. Spread the word! Tell a friend!

 

Music: Creepy – Bensound.com.

 

Andrew:

Here are some totally made up tales. Brought to you by the magic of the internet.

 

James:

One

 

Andrew:

Day

 

James:

Elise

 

Andrew:

Held

 

James:

Her

 

Andrew:

Boyfriend

 

James:

Tightly

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Whispered

 

Andrew:

That

 

James:

She

 

Andrew:

Was

 

James:

Pregnant.

 

Andrew:

He

 

James:

Was

 

Andrew:

Surprised

 

James:

But

 

Andrew:

Delighted.

 

James:

Together

 

Andrew:

They

 

James:

Planned

 

Andrew:

For

 

James:

A

 

Andrew:

Home

 

James:

That

 

Andrew:

Would

 

James:

Welcome

 

Andrew:

A

 

James:

New

 

Andrew:

Life.

 

James:

Painting

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Nursery

 

Andrew:

In

 

James:

Bright

 

Andrew:

Green

 

James:

With

 

Andrew:

Some

 

James:

Dinosaurs

 

Andrew:

On

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Walls.

 

James:

Building

 

Andrew:

A

 

James:

Crib

 

Andrew:

Out

 

James:

Of

 

Andrew:

Ikea

 

James:

And

 

Andrew:

Reading

 

James:

To

 

Andrew:

Each

 

James:

Other

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Day

 

Andrew:

Of

 

James:

Delivery

 

Andrew:

Arrived

 

James:

And

 

Andrew:

They

 

James:

Took

 

Andrew:

Elise

 

James:

To

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Hospital,

 

Andrew:

Where

 

James:

She

 

Andrew:

Gave

 

James:

Birth

 

Andrew:

To

 

James:

A

 

Andrew:

Healthy

 

James:

Baby

 

Andrew:

Dinosaur

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

End.

 

James:

This is the story of the Gamekeeper's Family.

 

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there lived a couple in a wood.

 

Andrew:

The husband was a gamekeeper at the local estate.

 

James:

His wife was a housekeeper for the same.

 

Andrew:

They had lived in their little cottage very happily for the last fifteen years.

 

James:

But ... they longed for a child.

 

Andrew:

They had tried many things, been to doctors, healers and priests but without success.

 

James:

They had traveled the world looking for witches that might be able to cure their barrenness, but all in vain.

 

Andrew:

After many years of searching and hoping, they had resigned themselves to their situation and were content to mind the children of their neighbours and fellow workers.

 

James:

But one day, as the gamekeeper walked home through the forest paths, he came across a basket.

 

Andrew:

Attached to the basket was a note, read, “please take care of me” and inside wrapped up in blankets there was a tiny baby.

 

James:

He rushed home to his wife to show her what he had found.

 

Andrew:

They spent a long time discussing whether or not it would be right for them to keep this child. Who had left it there and why?

 

James:

Eventually, they chose to consult the local vicar who assured them that with all of their experience helping to look after their neighbours' children and given that almost everyone else in the village already had children of their own, the right thing would be for them to keep it and raise it as their own.

 

Andrew:

This they did, with great success and a fine healthy young man was the product of their labours.

 

James:

They had named him Benjamin, after the wife's father and as Benjamin grew in stature, he also grew in the love given to him, not only by them but by others in the village. For everyone enjoyed his outgoing and pleasant company.

 

Andrew:

As the years passed the time came for him to take over his father's job as gamekeeper on the estate and this he did.

 

James:

He had spent his childhood growing up amongst the forest and knew how to look for the different types of woodland animal and also how to protect them. How best to defend them from poachers and so forth. And so, continuing the charm of his childhood as he started his job, he proved to be more than adept as a gamekeeper and was rapidly promoted until he became head gamekeeper.

 

Andrew:

After many years, his parents passed away in a peaceful old age and he moved back to the cottage where he had grown up.

 

James:

By this time, he was himself, married, although as with his parents, he and his wife Amelia, had not been able to have a child.

 

Andrew:

One day, while out walking in the estate, completing his rounds and jobs, Benjamin too came across a basket with a note attached.

 

James:

The note, as the note on his own basket, said “please take care of me” and inside was a tiny child that he took home to Amelia and which as with his parents before him, they decided it was right to adopt.

 

Andrew:

Now, the listener will not know that Benjamin's parents had not chosen to share with him the story of how they had found him in a cradle in the woods. And so, it did not occur to him that there was anything unusual about this coincidence.

 

James:

As Benjamin and Amelia's daughter, Susanna, grew, she also, much like Benjamin was much loved around the village and when it came time for her to start working, she took over Amelia's job as housekeeper, as Amelia had taken over the job of Benjamin's mother before her.

 

Andrew:

And so it was that this story played out from generation to generation. Susanna had a son named Robert. Robert had a daughter named Barbara. Barbara had a son named Tom.

 

James:

And always, down through the generations, the same jobs were passed from father to daughter, from daughter to son, across the generations, gamekeeper and housekeeper both.

 

Andrew:

But why? Why was it that these popular, lovable, outgoing people were never able to have children of their own? And where was it that the mysterious foundlings were coming from?

 

James:

For that, dear listener, we must go back to the first gamekeeper and housekeeper, Benjamin's parents, and see their story from another angle.

 

Andrew:

Once upon a time there was a magical forest where there dwelled many sprites and pixies.

 

James:

Chief among them was a fairy who had lived for many hundreds of years, spending her time looking after the non-magical creatures of the kingdom.

 

Andrew:

Now, many fairies have an ambiguous and complicated relationship with human beings, seeing them somewhat like a tree sees a fungus growing on its bark.

 

James:

At times, the fairy would help humans through stumbling difficulties in their lives, but at other times she would punish them for what she saw as a transgression against the magical forest.

 

Andrew:

She was, to our eyes, capricious in her whims. Sometimes kind, sometimes cruel.

 

James:

One day, the gamekeeper, while walking home through the forest spied a rogue pheasant which had somehow escaped from, as he thought, the forest that he managed.

 

Andrew:

What appeared to be a pheasant to his eyes, was in fact the fairy, wandering through her domain.

 

James:

He carefully set a trap and as she did not consider him a threat, she walked right into it and was quickly bound and trussed with him carrying her home towards the pot.

 

Andrew:

He was not by nature a sentimental person, having spent his life working with the wild animals of the forest. But, there was something about the way this bird fixed him with a seemingly knowing stare as he set it down on the kitchen table that made him think twice about instantly wringing its neck.

 

James:

In the moment that he hesitated, the fairy, as fairies sometimes do, cast a spell, not only for her to be released and free but also so that he would forget having ever encountered her. And, as fairies are also sometimes wont to do, she cursed him at that moment, annoyed and upset that she had ignominiously been bound and walked over the forest. She cursed him that he should never have a child to love him.

 

Andrew:

Sometime later, the fairy observed his wife walking through the forest and weeping and lamenting her lack of children.

 

James:

Unaware that this woman was in any way related to the gamekeeper she had previously cursed, she cast a beneficial spell over the housekeeper that she would have a child that she so clearly desired.

 

Andrew:

The child of course, was easy to provide for fairy folk often have children which they need to be raised in the human world.

 

James:

And no one ever questioned from Benjamin through Susanna, through Robert, through Barbara, through Tom, why, when their feet touched the ground in the forest, flowers grew in their footsteps.

 

Andrew:

And from generation to generation, they continued to live, in the small charming cottage in the middle of the wonderful magical wood.

 

James:

Sally

 

Andrew:

Held

 

James:

Her

 

Andrew:

Handbag

 

James:

Defensively

 

Andrew:

When

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Mugger

 

James:

Threatened

 

Andrew:

Her

 

James:

With

 

Andrew:

A

 

James:

Knife.

 

Andrew:

She

 

James:

Balanced

 

Andrew:

On

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Balls

 

James:

Of

 

Andrew:

Her

 

James:

Feet

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Lashed

 

Andrew:

Out

 

James:

With

 

Andrew:

Her

 

James:

Handbag

 

Andrew:

Knocking

 

James:

Him

 

Andrew:

Over

 

James:

And

 

Andrew:

Giving

 

James:

Her

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Chance

 

Andrew:

To

 

James:

Escape.

 

Andrew:

She

 

James:

Reported

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Incident

 

Andrew:

To

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Police

 

James:

Who

 

Andrew:

Promptly

 

James:

Ignored

 

Andrew:

Her

 

James:

And

 

Andrew:

Carried

 

James:

On

 

Andrew:

Filling

 

James:

In

 

Andrew:

Paperwork.

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

End.

 

James:

Our next story is Jeremy's Place.

 

One

 

Andrew:

Day

 

James:

Jeremy

 

Andrew:

Was

 

James:

Walking

 

Andrew:

Along

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

High

 

James:

Street

 

Andrew:

When

 

James:

He

 

Andrew:

Noticed

 

James:

That

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Shops

 

Andrew:

Were

 

James:

All

 

Andrew:

Closed.

 

James:

In

 

Andrew:

Normal

 

James:

Times

 

Andrew:

They

 

James:

Would

 

Andrew:

Be

 

James:

Open

 

Andrew:

On

 

James:

Fridays

 

Andrew:

But

 

James:

Today

 

Andrew:

They

 

James:

Were

 

Andrew:

Not

 

James:

Hmmm?”

 

Andrew:

He

 

James:

Thought

 

Andrew:

Is

 

James:

There

 

Andrew:

A

 

James:

Special

 

Andrew:

Occasion?

 

James:

Perhaps

 

Andrew:

It's

 

James:

Remembrance

 

Andrew:

Day?

 

James:

But

 

Andrew:

That

 

James:

Is

 

Andrew:

Always

 

James:

On

 

Andrew:

A

 

James:

Sunday.”

 

Andrew:

So

 

James:

He

 

Andrew:

Knocked

 

James:

On

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Door

 

Andrew:

Of

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Post

 

James:

Office

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Waited

 

Andrew:

For

 

James:

Someone

 

Andrew:

To

 

James:

Open

 

Andrew:

It.

 

James:

Waited

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Waited

 

Andrew:

Then

 

James:

Waited

 

Andrew:

Some

 

James:

More.

 

Andrew:

He

 

James:

Gave

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Putative

 

Andrew:

Post-mistress

 

James:

Half

 

Andrew:

An

 

James:

Hour

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

She

 

Andrew:

Didn't

 

James:

Appear.

 

Andrew:

So

 

James:

He

 

Andrew:

Pushed

 

James:

And

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Door

 

Andrew:

Opened.

 

James:

Funny,”

 

Andrew:

He

 

James:

Thought

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Stepped

 

Andrew:

Inside.

 

James:

Inside

 

Andrew:

There

 

James:

Was

 

Andrew:

No

 

James:

Light.

 

Andrew:

In

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Space

 

James:

Reserved

 

Andrew:

For

 

James:

Packages,

 

Andrew:

There

 

James:

Was

 

Andrew:

A

 

James:

Small

 

Andrew:

Dog.

 

James:

Strange,”

 

Andrew:

He

 

James:

Thought,

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Approached.

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Dog

 

Andrew:

Looked

 

James:

At

 

Andrew:

Him

 

James:

And

 

Andrew:

Opened

 

James:

His

 

Andrew:

Mouth.

 

James:

Why

 

Andrew:

Are

 

James:

You

 

Andrew:

Here?”

 

James:

Asked

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Dog

 

Andrew:

I

 

James:

Want

 

Andrew:

To

 

James:

Know

 

Andrew:

What's

 

James:

Going

 

Andrew:

On?”

 

James:

Said

 

Andrew:

Jeremy.

 

James:

This

 

Andrew:

Is

 

James:

Not

 

Andrew:

A

 

James:

Place

 

Andrew:

For

 

James:

You.”

 

Andrew:

Said

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Dog

 

James:

Where

 

Andrew:

Am

 

James:

I?”

 

Andrew:

You

 

James:

Are

 

Andrew:

In

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Seventh

 

James:

Kingdom.”

 

Andrew:

Jeremy

 

James:

Backed

 

Andrew:

Away

 

James:

From

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Dog

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Fled.

 

Andrew:

Once

 

James:

Outside

 

Andrew:

He

 

James:

Started

 

Andrew:

To

 

James:

Calm

 

Andrew:

Down

 

James:

Again.

 

Andrew:

He

 

James:

Convinced

 

Andrew:

Himself

 

James:

That

 

Andrew:

Nothing

 

James:

Strange

 

Andrew:

Had

 

James:

Happened

 

Andrew:

To

 

James:

Him

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Proceeded

 

Andrew:

To

 

James:

Walk

 

Andrew:

Down

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

High

 

James:

Street

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Knocked

 

Andrew:

On

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Door

 

James:

Of

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Butchers.

 

Andrew:

Again

 

James:

There

 

Andrew:

Was

 

James:

No

 

Andrew:

Reply

 

James:

So

 

Andrew:

He

 

James:

Pushed

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Door

 

Andrew:

Open

 

James:

And

 

Andrew:

Stepped

 

James:

Inside.

 

Andrew:

Within,

 

James:

There

 

Andrew:

Was

 

James:

No

 

Andrew:

Light.

 

James:

In

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Area

 

Andrew:

Where

 

James:

Meat

 

Andrew:

Would

 

James:

Be

 

Andrew:

Chilled

 

James:

There

 

Andrew:

Was

 

James:

Another

 

Andrew:

Dog.

 

James:

What

 

Andrew:

Are

 

James:

You

 

Andrew:

Doing

 

James:

Here?”

 

Andrew:

Said

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Dog.

 

James:

I'm

 

Andrew:

Just…”

 

James:

No!”

 

Andrew:

Said

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Dog.

 

James:

This

 

Andrew:

Is

 

James:

Not

 

Andrew:

A

 

James:

Place

 

Andrew:

For

 

James:

You!”

 

Andrew:

Jeremy

 

James:

Looked

 

Andrew:

Confused.

 

James:

Where

 

Andrew:

Am

 

James:

I?”

 

Andrew:

Go!

 

James:

This

 

Andrew:

Is

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Kingdom.

 

James:

You

 

Andrew:

Must

 

James:

Leave.”

 

Andrew:

Jeremy

 

James:

Backed

 

Andrew:

Away

 

James:

From

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Dog

 

Andrew:

Into

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Doorway,

 

James:

And

 

Andrew:

Stepped

 

James:

Back

 

Andrew:

Onto

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

High

 

James:

Street.

 

Andrew:

Now

 

James:

He

 

Andrew:

Was

 

James:

Having

 

Andrew:

Second

 

James:

Thoughts

 

Andrew:

About

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Shopping

 

James:

Trip

 

Andrew:

That

 

James:

He

 

Andrew:

Had

 

James:

Planned

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Walked

 

Andrew:

Back

 

James:

Towards

 

Andrew:

Home.

 

James:

Passing

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Police

 

Andrew:

Station,

 

James:

He

 

Andrew:

Went

 

James:

To

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Door

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Knocked.

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Door

 

Andrew:

Was

 

James:

Not

 

Andrew:

Locked,

 

James:

And

 

Andrew:

So

 

James:

He

 

Andrew:

Went

 

James:

Inside.

 

Andrew:

Within,

 

James:

There

 

Andrew:

Was

 

James:

No

 

Andrew:

Light.

 

James:

In

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Cells

 

Andrew:

Where

 

James:

Prisoners

 

Andrew:

Usually

 

James:

Resided,

 

Andrew:

There

 

James:

Was

 

Andrew:

A

 

James:

Third

 

Andrew:

Dog.

 

James:

Seriously!”

 

Andrew:

Said

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Dog.

 

James:

What

 

Andrew:

Are

 

James:

You

 

Andrew:

Doing

 

James:

Here?”

 

Andrew:

Jeremy

 

James:

Panicked

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Ran

 

Andrew:

At

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Dog.

 

James:

Give

 

Andrew:

Me

 

James:

Back

 

Andrew:

My

 

James:

Place!”

 

Andrew:

He

 

James:

Exclaimed.

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Dog

 

Andrew:

Jumped

 

James:

Sideways

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Avoided

 

Andrew:

Jeremy's

 

James:

Grasping,

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Replied,

 

Andrew:

This

 

James:

Is

 

Andrew:

Your

 

James:

Place

 

Andrew:

Here.”

 

James:

Slamming

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Cell

 

Andrew:

Door

 

James:

Shut,

 

Andrew:

Jeremy

 

James:

Collapsed

 

Andrew:

Into

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Corner

 

James:

And

 

Andrew:

Slept.

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Next

 

James:

Day

 

Andrew:

He

 

James:

Awoke

 

Andrew:

In

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Cell

 

James:

To

 

Andrew:

Discover

 

James:

Three

 

Andrew:

Policemen

 

James:

Looking

 

Andrew:

At

 

James:

Him

 

Andrew:

In

 

James:

Confusion.

 

Andrew:

What's

 

James:

All

 

Andrew:

This

 

James:

Then?”

 

Andrew:

They

 

James:

Said

 

Andrew:

In

 

James:

Unison.

 

Andrew:

Jeremy

 

James:

Stumbled

 

Andrew:

Out

 

James:

Into

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Open

 

Andrew:

Air

 

James:

And

 

Andrew:

Saw

 

James:

That

 

Andrew:

Things

 

James:

Were

 

Andrew:

Back

 

James:

To

 

Andrew:

Normal.

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

Post

 

James:

Office

 

Andrew:

Was

 

James:

Open,

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

Butchers

 

Andrew:

Had

 

James:

Customers,

 

Andrew:

The

 

James:

High

 

Andrew:

Street

 

James:

Was

 

Andrew:

Bustling.

 

James:

What

 

Andrew:

Happened

 

James:

Yesterday?”

 

Andrew:

He

 

James:

Thought

 

Andrew:

As

 

James:

He

 

Andrew:

Opened

 

James:

His

 

Andrew:

Front

 

James:

Door.

 

Andrew:

I

 

James:

Swore

 

Andrew:

I…”

 

James:

And

 

Andrew:

In

 

James:

Front

 

Andrew:

Of

 

James:

Him

 

Andrew:

Were

 

James:

Three

 

Andrew:

Dogs.

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

End.

 

 

 

James:

Peter

 

Andrew:

Liked

 

James:

Jam

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Toast.

 

Andrew:

He

 

James:

Regularly

 

Andrew:

Ate

 

James:

Ten

 

Andrew:

Slices

 

James:

Of

 

Andrew:

Them

 

James:

For

 

Andrew:

Breakfast.

 

James:

His

 

Andrew:

Constitution

 

James:

Was

 

Andrew:

As

 

James:

Solid

 

Andrew:

As

 

James:

A

 

Andrew:

House.

 

James:

One

 

Andrew:

Day

 

James:

He

 

Andrew:

Ran

 

James:

Out

 

Andrew:

Of

 

James:

Jam

 

Andrew:

And

 

James:

Had

 

Andrew:

To

 

James:

Use

 

Andrew:

Marmite

 

James:

Instead.

 

Andrew:

This

 

James:

Gummed

 

Andrew:

His

 

James:

Works

 

Andrew:

Up

 

James:

And

 

Andrew:

He

 

James:

Slowly

 

Andrew:

Died.

 

James:

The

 

Andrew:

End.

 

I've been Andrew, and I'm here with James. These stories were recorded without advanced planning and then lightly edited for the discerning listener. Join us next time for more totally made-up tales ...

 

 

Aug 11, 2016
Welcome to the third episode of Totally Made Up Tales, an experiment in improvised storytelling in the digital age. We hope you enjoy our tales of wonder and mystery. Let us know what you think!


Music: Creepy – Bensound.com.

 

James:

Here are some totally made up tales brought to you by the magic of the internet.

Andrew / James (alternating words):

Modern life is tricksy. It twists and turns when you least expect it. If you discover that you're gay, what do you do? In olden times, you would have been sent to Los Angeles.

 

These days, gays are everywhere and many have to deal with that. Why can't you be gay? Why is gay such a challenging thing for so many people who are or are not gay? Let's find out by looking at a gay story together from history.

 

Julius Caesar was a Roman gay. He would rise in the morning and sleep with many other prominent Roman people in the afternoon. Before lunch, he governed. After lunch, he made love like the hero he was. Men, women, whatever. Basically, he was everything.

 

This confused many of his contemporaries who chose to be in monogamous relationships with people either of the opposite sex or the same. Julius lived broader and loved broader. When he left politics, he died and was honoured with no fewer than five thousand state banquets, each remembering a different lover. The end.

James:

Now, The Well Endowed Witch.

 

Andrew / James (alternating words):

A witch who was well endowed in the chest went to market and sold her potions to a young couple who wanted a child. "Simply sprinkle this over your wedding bed and your child will be born beautiful, intelligent, and strong."

 

The couple raced home, sprinkled the potion, and went at it like bunnies. Nine months later, out of the blue, the witch appeared at their door.

 

"Hello dearies," she said. "There is one more thing I should tell you. Your child will be beautiful, intelligent, and strong, but will live with you for 18 years of joy and happiness, and then you both will die suddenly at his hands."

 

The two looked at each other in horror and asked, "What can we possibly do?" "Well," said the witch, "there is another potion I can administer now, before the child is born which will prevent it from growing into this assassin."

 

"What is the cost?" the woman asked.

 

"Ahh, that is unusual. Alas, mere money will not suffice for this potion. This requires a child. Your child."

 

The parents huddled and attempted to decide, debating the two impossible options. At length they turned to the witch and asked, "Will you look kindly after our son when you take him from us?"

 

"Of course," said the witch.

 

Many years later, the witch was happy with the strapping handsome man who adored her as his mother and often reflected on her good fortune. Meanwhile, the couple had had another child who had grown into a plain but cunning and fleet young woman. She would often wander around the fields and forests surrounding the village, thinking and taking time to herself. Her parents never worried because she was so cunning. Dependably reliable, she would come home with new ideas and flowers.

 

One day, while wandering across the beautiful meadows, she chanced upon a young man who was sitting by a stream, and they got talking.

 

"Hello," said the young man.

 

"Hello," she replied.

 

The conversation petered out into long, not too awkward pauses and significant gazes. Comfortable in their presence, they strolled though the meadows, and at length, fell in love. They parted and the girl returned to her home, while the boy went through the forest to the witch's house.

 

Upon hearing him return, the witch poked her head out of the window and said, "Where have you been?"

 

"I have been strolling through the fields with my sweetheart," he said.

 

"No," said the witch. "You have no sweetheart. You cannot have a sweetheart, you must not."

 

Chastened, the boy did his chores and went to sleep. He did as he was told because he had huge respect and loyalty to his adoptive mother. He never returned to the same meadows and wandered lonely through the forest.

 

One day, the path took him towards an open clearing in the forest. Lying in the patch of sunlight, there was the girl. "I must not talk to her," he thought, "but my heart tells me that I must."

 

While he was debating, she looked straight at him and leapt to her feet. "I have found you!" she cried. "I've looked all over the forests, and yet only now have I found you again." She embraced him and kissed him, and he felt the profound yearning for her and forgot his mother's words.

 

When he returned home that evening, the witch once more asked him what he had been doing. He knew that he must tell her, but he also dreaded to disappoint her. "You've been with her again," she said, using magic to read his mind.

 

"I love her," he said.

 

"No! You love only me!" said the witch, and locked him in his room.

 

The witch stormed from the hut and ran through the forest. She cursed the girl and screamed at the heavens, summoning thunder and rain. Meanwhile, in the village, at the home of the couple, the young girl felt a quiver go through her. Soon, she heard the thunder and saw the lightning and felt deep within her that this was somehow a sign. Her lover must be in danger, and she was going to save him.

 

Knowing her parents would not allow her out after dark, she crept out her window, wrapped herself in a heavy cloak, and set off into the heart of the forest. Dark, dripping with rain, sinister shadows from the bolts of lightning flickering all around her. She returned to the spot where they had met that day and looked for any tracks or indication of where he had been.

 

Spying a footprint on the ground, she followed the trail into the forest. A flash of lightning illuminated the crooked cottage suddenly in front of her. She peered in through the window and saw the witch rocking back and forth in her chair by candlelight and mixing a potion in a bowl. Creeping round the house, she spied another, smaller window with a flickering candle on the ledge. Looking around, she saw a tree and climbed up it swiftly to spy through the glass. She saw little, but could make out a figure lying on a bed of straw. She tapped lightly on the window and he stirred. Padding over to the window, he reached up to open it and looked up at her.

 

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

 

"I've come to rescue you," she replied.

 

"How did you know?"

 

"Never mind that. Here," she reached out to him. "Give me your hand. I'll pull you onto this branch." So he did, and they did, and climbing down the tree, she whispered, "I love you."

 

Landing softly at the bottom of the tree, she looked at her lover, who was ham-fistedly climbing down the tree, making a real racket.

 

"Sshh," she called urgently, causing him to fall, crashing down to the ground. The door of the cottage opened suddenly, the witch silhouetted against the light within.

 

"Whaattt?"

 

"Run!" said the girl, and away they ran. The boy, the girl, and the witch behind.

 

Coming upon the clearing, the boy had to catch his breath. They stopped and the witch was about to reach them when a bolt of lightning slashed straight into the witch's head, frying her. The boy cried and collapsed onto the floor, sobbing.

 

"Come," said the young girl. "We must get home."

 

Her parents were shocked that she had been out in the storm, but recognized her courage and forgave her, welcoming the young man into the family, not knowing who he was.

James:

I've been James, and I'm here with Andrew. These stories were recorded without advance planning, and lightly edited for the discerning listener. Join us next time for more totally made up tales.

 

Jul 27, 2016
Welcome to the second episode of Totally Made Up Tales, an experiment in improvised storytelling in the digital age. We hope you enjoy our tales of wonder and mystery. Let us know what you think!


Music: Creepy – Bensound.com.

 

James:

Here are some Totally Made-Up Tales, brought to you by the magic of the internet.

 

This is the story of Dr. Rich.

Andrew:

Once upon a time, there was a doctor who specialized in curing diseases only of the very rich. Inevitably of course, they were in some way or other.

James:

He would travel round in his large, black car made specially for him by Mercedes-Benz himself, and visit them one by one, his rich clientele, ringing on the doorbell and asking, "Are you ill?"

Andrew:

In fact, one of the things that he had identified, and the reason why he himself was so successful, was that he realized that money did not in fact make you happy, but filled you with a deep sense of malaise.

James:

In fact, to put it simply, money made you ill.

Andrew:

His expertise was to remove money from the rich in order that they could feel better, and indeed many of his patients who were bankrupted by his bills went on to lead happy, fulfilled, virtuous lives.

James:

Even before they'd got to that state, merely at the point that he presented them with the bill for having cured their sniffle or subdued their pox, or whatever it is that he had been called upon to do today, they felt better, relieved, as if the air was flowing more freely through their lungs, as if the blood was moving more smoothly through their veins.

Andrew:

The problem was that over the course of his long and successful career, he himself became extremely wealthy, deeply unhappy, and died.

James:

There was no one who could minister to him in his last days. He was as ill as you could possibly get from money, and indeed was quite capable of diagnosing himself as dying of wealth, and yet, without having trained an apprentice or one to come after him, there was no one who could cure him. He died sad, despondent, very, very wealthy, but utterly ill.

 

Josephine

Andrew:

wanted

James:

children,

Andrew:

but

James:

her

Andrew:

husband

James:

was

Andrew:

emperor

James:

of

Andrew:

France.

James:

"Not

Andrew:

tonight,"

James:

he

Andrew:

said

James:

repeatedly.

Andrew:

The

James:

end.

 

Keyhole

Andrew:

surgery

James:

is

Andrew:

performed

James:

using

Andrew:

keyholes,

James:

which

Andrew:

are

James:

available

Andrew:

from

James:

B&Q

Andrew:

and

James:

similar

Andrew:

retailers.

 

Judith

James:

went

Andrew:

to

James:

Cardiff

Andrew:

for

James:

her

Andrew:

sister's

James:

wedding.

Andrew:

It

James:

was

Andrew:

a

James:

beautiful

Andrew:

weekend

James:

full

Andrew:

of

James:

dancing,

Andrew:

sunshine,

James:

and

Andrew:

happy

James:

bridesmaids.

Andrew:

The

James:

bride

Andrew:

herself

James:

was

Andrew:

sick,

James:

and

Andrew:

vomited

James:

all

Andrew:

over

James:

the

Andrew:

vicar.

James:

The

Andrew:

end.

 

Victor

James:

went

Andrew:

to

James:

war

Andrew:

and

James:

fought

Andrew:

bravely

James:

time

Andrew:

and

James:

time

Andrew:

again.

James:

When

Andrew:

he

James:

returned,

Andrew:

he

James:

discovered

Andrew:

his

James:

country

Andrew:

had

James:

changed

Andrew:

and

James:

he

Andrew:

no

James:

longer

Andrew:

belonged.

James:

The

Andrew:

end.

James:

Now, Abigail the Mistress Milliner.

Andrew:

Abigail was a milliner, and made the finest hats in the kingdom.

James:

She was renowned from city to city. The aristocracy would always use Abigail's hats, or risk the disapproval of their peers.

Andrew:

She was totally dedicated to her craft. It was her life's work, and every fiber of her being, every drop of her blood was dedicated to the making of hats.

James:

Since she had passed from apprentice to journeyman to master hat maker, she had had one perfect master work in mind; the ultimate hat.

Andrew:

It was a hat that she knew once she had made it, there could be no better hat made by human hand until the end of time.

James:

She had resolved at the tender age of twenty-two to dedicate her life to creating the best hats she always could while always striving towards the perfect hat.

Andrew:

It was rumored that she kept in her safe at the back, behind the box in which she kept her money and other valuables, a small box in which she was working on a secret project.

James:

Many rumors were started about the project. Many rumors were started about the safe and about the other things that she had done to protect her most vital and important secrets.

Andrew:

Other milliners throughout the kingdom were jealous, suspicious, and met together one evening in the back room of a dusty tavern to discuss their suspicion.

James:

One of them, Brian the Hatter, was convinced that she had already created the ultimate hat, but was withholding it for fear that others would copy her work.

Andrew:

"There is only one way for us to find out, brothers and sisters," he said, "and that is, we must take possession of the box within the safe."

James:

So began the most delicate planning. Milliners around the country contriving a way to steal a box from within a sealed safe that even the most dedicated cat burglar would have had difficulty getting near.

Andrew:

"Let us hold a festival," they proposed. "Yes, let us hold some kind of celebration, some distraction, some occasion on which everybody's back will be turned."

James:

They worked their connections long and hard, and finally were able to persuade some lady of the court, and through her some gentleman of the court, and through him some knight of the court, and through him, some lady of the bedchamber, and ultimately to the king and queen themselves that there should be a grand banquet where all the greatest people of the land would come, and of course the desire for the best hats would be unrivaled throughout history.

Andrew:

So it was that in the following days and weeks as the banquet was made ready that there were queues around the block to every suit maker, every boot maker, and every hat maker in the kingdom as more and more finery was demanded so that everybody could appear at their very best at this once-in-a-lifetime feast to be given by the royal family.

James:

Of course, nowhere were the queues longer nor more densely packed than outside the shop of Abigail the Milliner. For many months, she serviced the next person who came through the door, measuring them, measuring their head, considering the weight of their brow and the movement of their lips and of their nose, and taking into account the other clothing that was being made for them. Day and night, she would work in the back, making hats from the measurements she had taken.

Andrew:

Each customer demanded a hat finer than the one that the customer before had received, and so it was that after a lifetime of training, even she was nearing the end of her store of creative energy as each masterpiece, slightly better than the one before, went out the door in its beautifully wrapped box.

James:

Meanwhile, Brian the Hatter and his cohorts were plotting how to get inside the safe.

Andrew:

"Would it be better for us to cut a hole in the wall and slide it out into a side street, or cut a hole in the floor and let it down into the vaults of the cellars or the sewers below?"

James:

"Perhaps we should cut through the top of the building and employ a crane or some small children with rope to haul it up high into the gables and from there escape across the rooftops of the city."

Andrew:

"May I make a suggestion?" Came a voice from the back of the room.

 

"Of course, go ahead brother. Tell us your suggestion."

 

"What we should use is the psychology of the artist."

James:

Well, they were all very impressed with this idea, even though most of them didn't really understand, and they voluntarily gave up control to the owner of the voice, Mr. Jim Blacklock.

Andrew:

"The true artist is only satisfied when his or her craft is applied as close to the standard of perfection as it is possible for human endeavor to reach. Each person has demanded a hat more superior than the one before. How many more hats can this woman make before she is forced to reveal the greatest hat of all time?"

James:

The hatters, from their conniving congregation, went out back into the land and plied their connections and persuaded the lords and ladies who had got early hats from Abigail the Milliner to go back for better ones now that there were better ones available to their peers. The line once more became long and winding throughout the city, and Abigail, working as hard as she ever had, wracked her brains for more ideas to top the last ones that she had put out.

Andrew:

Finally, when the line had dwindled to one person, and that person had been handed their finely-wrapped box and left and the door swung closed and the little bell rang and she was left alone, she knew that she was spent. She had no more hats available for her to make. It would be impossible for her to service another customer, and indeed there were no more customers. Everybody owned a hat of hers who had a head to wear a hat on.

James:

Just then, there was a knock at the door.

Andrew:

"Who could this be?" She thought to herself. "A customer who had left behind a pair of gloves, or wanted a duplicate invoice for tax purposes."

James:

She got out of her chair and felt her way across the dark shop front and opened the door. In front of her was the king.

Andrew:

"Your majesty." She said, and curtsied low, for she was a very correct lady.

James:

"Abigail," began the king.

Andrew:

"If your majesty has come in search of a hat, I'm afraid I must disappoint you, for I have no more hats left to make."

James:

"Come, come," said the king, for he was a kindly man, but also used to getting his own way. "Come, come, you would not disappoint your monarch."

Andrew:

"It would pain me to do so, sir, but I really do not see how I could supply a hat finer yet than any that I had supplied without ... "

James:

There Abigail stopped.

Andrew:

"Without ... ?" Said the king.

James:

"I should not have spoken." Said Abigail.

Andrew:

"Yet you did speak," said the king, "and now you must surely explain yourself."

James:

"The only way, your majesty, that I could hope to top the previous hats that I have made for all in the land and to satisfactorily clothe your royal head, would be to open the book that I have been keeping these last forty years as I have worked on perhaps an impossible dream of the perfect hat."

Andrew:

At this, the king's eyes lit up, for he was a man who liked the finest things, and the idea of owning the most perfect hat that had ever been made or could ever be made appealed very deeply to his regal heart.

James:

"I must have it." He said, and left.

Andrew:

Abigail wept, for she knew that the hour had come where either she must make the most perfect hat of all time, or she must leave this place that she called home, abandon her shop, her career, her profession, and begin a new life somewhere else, for no one had ever successfully denied the king his wish and lived.

James:

Uncertain of what her choice would be, she stole back to the back room and opened the safe, and within it moved past the money boxes and the certificates of birth and death and the other precious objects that were necessary for a satisfactory and legal life in this complicated time, and at the back pulled out a small tin which contained folded paper of her notes over the years.

Andrew:

She reviewed the scraps, shuffled them, paced, lit a fire, made tea, stoked the fire, paced, shuffled the papers, and so continued through the night, all the way through to the crow of the cockerel and the rising of the sun.

James:

She was still pacing when her young apprentice entered the shop in the morning, expecting to be up and at the business before she was. He was surprised, and did not attempt to hide it.

Andrew:

"Mistress Abigail, whatever is the matter? You seem troubled, agitated, as if you haven't slept."

James:

"I haven't!" She cried. "I can't sleep. I cannot sleep until I ... Until I at least try."

Andrew:

So it was that they embarked together on making sense of the diagrams that she had drawn, and little by little began to compose the finest hat that had ever been made.

James:

There was every conceivable material,

Andrew:

and yet somehow, even though it was composed of parts as diverse of silk and leather, it formed a beautifully coordinated whole in which every part was neither too much nor too little, but in perfect proportion and place.

James:

Spent, they sat on the floor and looked up at the perfect hat. The ultimate hat. The end, indeed, to millinery itself.

Andrew:

As to the rest of the story, well of course the king collected it and wore it and achieved universal admiration. The great feast was, exactly as it promised to be, huge, memorable, spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime experience, and Abigail was, as you would expect, done. Done with her career. There was no way that she could continue now.

James:

As for the other hat makers, well, walk down a high street in your town any day you like and try to find a milliner's shop. They're all gone now. All gone.

 

I've been James, and I'm here with Andrew. These stories were recorded without advanced planning and lightly edited for the discerning listener. Join us next time for more Totally Made-Up Tales.

Andrew [outtake]:

"Would it be better," they said, "if we cut a hole in the floor and let it down into the core of the earth?" No, no, that's a ludicrous idea. Sorry.

Jul 12, 2016
Welcome to the first episode of Totally Made Up Tales, an experiment in improvised storytelling in the digital age. We hope you enjoy our tales of wonder and mystery. Let us know what you think!


Music: Creepy – Bensound.com.

Transcript:

 

Andrew:

These are some stories which we made up brought to you by the magic of the internet.

 

 

Once upon a time Jesus H. Christ set out from his home to the marketplace. He stood among the market traders on an old box preaching to the crowds. "Blessed are the cheese makers," he'd acclaimed and a passing cheese maker so delighted in hearing his words that he gave him a shiny silver coin.

 

 

"Uh huh," thought Jesus to himself. "I bet I can take this coin, multiply it into many more using one simple trick." "Blessed are the rich," said Jesus.

 

 

The end.

 

 

This is the story of the witch and the turning sickness.

 

 

Once upon a time, in a relatively far away place, there was a deep dark forest.

 

James:

Almost no one ever went into the forest. For the first mile or so round the edge, you can sometimes snare rabbits or maybe go logging, but further in if men ventured they did not return.

 

Andrew:

There were no ponds in the heart of this forest. Only huge, nulled tree trunks growing up the bushy leaves of the canopy obscuring the sky in all but the very depths of winter. But still in this heart, there dwelled one person.

 

James:

An old and wise woman. She had lived there, some say for centuries.

 

Andrew:

There were many things ... it was said ... that she understood. How to control the seasons and the weather ...

 

James:

How to talk to animals and smaller creatures.

 

Andrew:

How to raise the dead from their graves.

 

James:

How to blend and choose the herbs and spices of the forest to counteract illness and drive away evil spirits.

 

Andrew:

But whatever favor she did for you, if you made your way into the heart of the forest and found her cottage and begged for her help, she would ask for a price.

 

James:

The price would always be high. Perhaps the highest you could possibly pay but it would also always be appropriate to you, to the illness she was curing or the misdeeds she was covering over.

 

Andrew:

Those who failed to pay would suffer a terrible punishment as all of the power that she had used to help was unleashed on creating suffering.

 

James:

In another part of the country, far far away from the black forest there sat a village of great renown.

 

Andrew:

The people of this village were famed for miles around ... all of the other towns and villages of the plain knew that these people were good and chaste and virtuous and pure of heart.

 

James:

It was winter. The end of Christmas tide and the villagers were bringing in their livestock to the great communal barn to shelter them there through the bitterous nights of darkness ...

 

Andrew:

... and after their mid-winter festival which they always held when the great herding of animals had been completed, they all returned to their homes. The next day they woke and to their horror, they found that the barn had been raided over night and six chickens had been taken away.

 

James:

The village elders questioned everyone but nobody had heard or seen anything and nobody confessed to the crime. No remnants of the chickens were found and the village was forced to go to sleep once more aware now that there might be a thief amongst them.

 

Andrew:

In deed the very next day dawn bright and early and they found that this time two pigs had been taken and again nobody had seen anything, nobody had heard anything, the village elders questioned everybody. There was no evidence.

 

James:

One more night, the villagers slept worried now about what would be stolen overnight and sure enough, as the weak raise of the winter sun touched the steeple of the village church, they woke to discover the great cow had been stolen.

 

Andrew:

The village elders met in councils to discuss the situation. "How can it be that we, people known to be pure of heart, people known to be good and true should have to suffer this terrible plague of theft upon our houses."

 

James:

"It cannot be one of us," they agreed. "We are too good. We are too pure. It must be the work of the devil."

 

Andrew:

"Yes. The devil who brings with him the turning sickness," said one of the elders from the back of the room. They turned to look at him. "Yes. I recall a tale from my childhood of an entire village wiped out. A village who had been pure of heart but were corrupted by the taint of sin in the cool clear air."

 

James:

On hearing this, the other elders were much afraid and they turned to their leader. "What should we do? What can we do to protect ourselves from the devil himself?"

 

Andrew:

"We must barricade ourselves within our homes and barricade our livestock into the barn. We must pray that it is not too late and that we are still able to escape the sickness."

 

James:

That night the villagers barricaded themselves into their homes, having previously boarded up the barn with the livestock inside it. No more theft that night but the following morning they discovered that they were already too late.

 

 

Every house had at least one person fall to the turning sickness.

 

Andrew:

"What shall we do now?" said the council of elders. "We have waited too long. We have let the situation go too far and the devil already has hold of us." There is only one thing we can do. You must send for the witch.

 

James:

So their fastest messenger was sent on their fastest horse speeding through the winter nights towards the dark forest and the witch's house within.

 

Andrew:

He tethered his horse at the edge of the forest and set out through the dense network of trees. It seemed like he had trekked for days when at last he came across a tiny crooked cottage in a tiny clearing.

 

James:

"I know why you are here," said the witch. "You have succumbed to the devil and the turning sickness."

 

 

"Yes," said the messenger. "Will you help us?"

 

 

"I will help you," said the witch "but there shall be a price."

 

Andrew:

"Name your price," said the messenger. "We will pay anything. Our people are sick and  must be saved."

 

 

"Yes," said the witch. "I will save them. I will save them all but then I shall return in ten summers time and I shall take from the village to be my slaves and minions all of your virgins."

 

James:

So saying, she cracked up her herbs and spices into her bag, leapt upon her broomstick and vanished. Appearing moments later at the village where the elders were waiting anxiously for word.

 

Andrew:

"Almighty and powerful witch," they said as she appeared before them, "We thank you for being merciful and coming to our aid in our hour of need."

 

James:

"Of course," said the witch. "But heed my price and pay it in full," and so saying she unpacked her herbs and spices and made a bitter brew which every villager drank down and in the morning the turning sickness was gone. "Remember the price," said the witch before leaving the village alone.

 

Andrew:

There was great celebration in the village that people had been cured and spared and that they were able to go on living their lives. What joy there was in their hearts until they remembered the price that they were going to have to pay. How would it be that in ten years time, all of the young and the purest of the pure of heart to be snatched away.

 

James:

... and so the council of elders met and decided a terrible fate for the village. For the next ten years, no children were to be born. No children were to be allowed. If any were conceived and carried to term, they would be without mercy killed that they might not become the slaves of the witch.

 

Andrew:

... and so it was that this cruel policy was enacted and for ten years the villagers kept their word and though they may have sorrow in their hearts, they brought no children into the world. So it was that ten summers had passed and the witch returned on her broomstick and called to the village that they come and meet her and pay her price.

 

James:

When the witch found out that they had no virgins to give, she burned the village down with all the villagers inside it.

 

 

The end.

 

 

A long time ago, before mankind came on the scene, the northern hemisphere was ruled by dinosaurs using a democratic system of government. One day at the meeting of the senate, their chief scientific advisor made a great announcement. "We have discovered," he said " a large expanse of water on the moon. Should we go there?"

 

 

"Yes." They said and did.

 

 

The end.

 

 

Now the tale of the talking horse of Baghdad.

 

Andrew:

Once upon a time in a far away land, there lived a horse. This horse was no ordinary horse. He had a magical power.

 

James:

Every morning he would get up, stretch and in front of the villagers and anyone who had gathered he would declaim a story.

 

Andrew:

This was a talking horse. A horse with a gift of speech, an eloquent horse, a great orator some say that people would travel miles to hear.

 

James:

One day after giving his oration, he noticed a small man at the edge of the paddock.

 

Andrew:

He went up to the man and said, "You seem like a stranger. You're not from these parts. I haven't seen your face before."

 

 

"That's right," said the man, "I have traveled from far off Baghdad.

 

James:

... and I noticed as I watched you  after your oration, you seem troubled, you seem alone. "

 

Andrew:

"Yes," said the horse, "It is true. For although I have many admirers and people come from far and wide to hear me speak, in my heart I have a great loneliness ...

 

James:

... for I am the only talking horse that I have ever encountered and without others of my kind, how could I possibly be other than alone."

 

Andrew:

"Well," said the man, "In that case, you must travel for in Baghdad there is a talking horse of great repute that people come from even further to see."

 

James:

"If this is so," said the horse, "then I shall journey there at once" and so saying, he packed up his few belongings.

 

Andrew:

He had some strips of wood, some coal ore and a woolen fleece from a mighty sheep.

 

James:

Packing them away, he trotted south. South through the hills and valleys. South towards the unknown.

 

Andrew:

At the top of the highest hill, he stopped and turned and looked back at the way he had come, at the land that he had called home for so many years and thought to himself ...

 

James:

"Will I ever come this way again? Perhaps this is the last few I will have of this home." So saying, he turned and proceeded south.

 

Andrew:

Beyond the hills laid the great dusty desert plain filed with dunes and sand.

 

James:

He traveled through it for many days, gradually feeling weaker and weaker until he reached an oasis in the desert where he was able to quench his thirst.

 

Andrew:

At the desert oasis, he met with a nomadic tribe and asked them, "Which is the best route from here to Baghdad?"

 

James:

... and they turned and pointed east. East towards the jewel of the Caliphate. He thanked them with a story and continued on.

 

Andrew:

He trekked for many days and many nights and finally was clear of the desert and standing before the towering great gate of the city wall of Baghdad.

 

James:

Minarets twisted high above him and mighty stone randalls beneath.

 

Andrew:

The gate of the wall was closed and by it, a sleeping century stood in his box. "Hello," cried the horse, "Hello."

 

James:

The soldier woke with a stat. "Who is it? Who is it who seeks passage into Baghdad?" he asked.

 

 

"It's just me," said the horse, "Just me."

 

Andrew:

"I have come for I hear there is a great talking horse in the city and I wish to speak with him."

 

 

"Very well, " said the soldier, "but there is a price."

 

James:

"You must pay the tax of the Caliph."

 

 

"Well, what is this tax," said the horse, "I don't have many possessions. I have wood, ore and the ewe skin."

 

 

"Ah," said the soldier, "Well it just so happens that as the winter nights draw in, I have a longing for warmth. I will take your wood and let you pass into the city of Baghdad," and so as the soldier built himself a fire, the horse trotted in.

 

Andrew:

All roads in Baghdad lead to one mighty central square. It is said to be the largest square in the whole of the world.

 

James:

The horse looked around seeking from corner to corner, anyone who could help him in his quest for the talking horse of Baghdad. A small voice appeared at his side.

 

Andrew:

It was a little girl.  "Excuse me," she said to him, "Are you lost? You look lost. Can I help you?"

 

James:

"I am looking," said the horse, "for the talking horse of Baghdad."

 

 

"I can help you," said the girl, "but there is a price."

 

Andrew:

"Well," said the horse, " I have in my saddle bag my coal ore or a mighty sheep skin."

 

 

"Oh," said the girl, "Yes. A sheep skin...

 

James:

That will keep me warm during the bitter winter nights as the cold winds blow across the plains," and so she took him to the stables.

 

Andrew:

... and there he encountered a small man with a large key standing outside a locked door. "Excuse me,"

 

James:

... said the horse, "Can you let me in to see the talking horse of Baghdad?"

 

 

"I can," said the man, "but there will be a price."

 

Andrew:

"The only thing I have for you," said the horse, "is this coal ore."

 

 

"Aha," said the man, "This is perfect for firing my brassier." "Yes," he said and took his mighty key ...

 

James:

... and unlocked the stable door and the horse trotted inside but within was not a talking horse of Baghdad ...

 

Andrew:

... but a whole crowd of horses. Hundred upon hundreds of them chattering in the many languages of the world.

 

 

"What?" thought the horse to himself, "Can there be?"

 

James:

"What is this?" and he nudged the closest horse to him and said, "What is going on?"

 

 

"This," said the horse...

 

Andrew:

"... is the parliament of all horses. Delegations from around the world have been sent so that we may decide who we crown as our new king."

 

James:

This is the talking horse of Baghdad.

 

Andrew:

"Stranger, you are welcome. Tell us your tale."

 

 

Peter ...

 

James:

... went ...

 

Andrew:

... to ...

 

James:

... the ...

 

Andrew:

... shops ...

 

James:

... to ...

 

Andrew:

... buy ...

 

James:

... some ...

 

Andrew:

... bread.

 

James:

He ...

 

Andrew:

... forgot ...

 

James:

... to ...

 

Andrew:

... bring ...

 

James:

... his ...

 

Andrew:

... plastic ...

 

James:

... bag ...

 

Andrew:

... so ...

 

James:

... was ...

 

Andrew:

... wasteful ...

 

James:

... and ...

 

Andrew:

... lost ...

 

James:

... five ...

 

Andrew:

... pea ...

 

James:

... the ...

 

Andrew:

... end.

 

James:

Jeremy ...

 

Andrew:

... played ...

 

James:

... cards ...

 

Andrew:

... against ...

 

James:

... his ...

 

Andrew:

... mother ...

 

James:

... and ...

 

Andrew:

... won.

 

James:

She ...

 

Andrew:

... never ...

 

James:

... spoke ...

 

Andrew:

... to ...

 

James:

... him ...

 

Andrew:

... again.

 

James:

The ...

 

Andrew:

... end.

 

 

Harold ...

 

James:

... went ...

 

Andrew:

... upstairs ...

 

James:

... and ...

 

Andrew:

... fell ...

 

James:

... downstairs ...

 

Andrew:

... the ...

 

James:

end.

 

Andrew:

I've been Andrew and I'm here with James. Join us next time for more made up tales.

 

James:

Clive ...

 

Andrew:

... met ...

 

James:

... a ...

 

Andrew:

... sticky ...

 

James:

... end ...

 

Andrew:

... when ...

 

James:

... he ...

 

Andrew:

... reversed ...

 

James:

... into ...

 

Andrew:

... a ...

 

James:

... beehive.

 

Andrew:

The ...

 

James:

... end.

 

Andrew:

That will do nicely, I think.

 

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