A retraction

Now I implore all that viewed this little project, if there is anything that you enjoyed, then thank you to the muses who bring wit and goodness. If there is anything that you didn’t like, please blame my lack of wit, not my will. I would have liked to do better if I had the talent. It’s written somewhere that all that is written is for our teaching; that is my intent. I hope that you think kindly of me, have mercy, and forgive my mistakes—especially my poor compositions and vanity: my fanfics, doodles, videos, and recordings, and any of my other little stories, if I could remember them. But I hope that the good stories, the ones that provide you goodness and delight, I hope they will immortalize me in the halls of literature.

Please enjoy.

~Geoff Chaucer

Mike Priest's Rootin' Tootin' Tale

Mike Priest’s festive emotional breakdown saw him hunkered in his box room with a pop filter, egg cartons and a rhyming dictionary. Seven days later, Mike emerged, saved by a beast fable and buoyed by the wits of a champion rooster-sheriff named Chanticleer. This is the very first airing of his radio play ‘Gunfight at the O.K. Cockerel’ destined for prime time billing on Grassington Longwave - North Yorkshire's second favourite local radio station.

Dear Wife of Bath

Author’s Note: For many years, I have run an advice column in the Bath Daily Gazette under the pseudonym “Wife of Bath.” During my time at the paper, I have helped hundreds of men and women solve problems related to dating, work, child rearing, and much more. For consideration in your esteemed contest, I present to you one entry from my time as Wife of Bath, complete with the original letter written to me for context.

Dear Wife of Bath,

I’ve been married for just over a year, and while in many ways the marriage has been successful, there is one big, glaring issue that is keeping me from being completely happy: my husband doesn’t know what I want unless I explicitly tell him. This may not sound like a big deal, but it’s driving me crazy. For example, last month my sister was throwing a cocktail party. My husband hates parties, so he decided not to go. But I really wanted him there with me, since I can’t stand my sister’s friends and knew I would be miserable if I had to deal with them alone. I dropped plenty of blatant hints about my feelings—I talked about how horrible my sister’s friends were, how I would have no one to talk to, how I wish there would be a familiar face there with me, but he didn’t understand. I didn’t want to force him to go, since I knew that would lead to a huge argument and him sulking all night. I wanted him to get that I needed him and come of his own accord. Needless to say, I went to that party alone. And that’s just one example of an all too common issue.

    What can I do to make my husband better understand my needs?

Sincerely,

Frustrated in Somerset

 

 

Dear Frustrated in Somerset,

I’m going to start by telling you a little story.

Once upon a time, there was a man working in a big marketing company. Let’s call him Eric. Eric was known around the office as “the sleazy guy.” He wasn’t completely terrible looking, but the way he came onto his co-workers was so lecherous no one ever returned his advances. Still, nothing deterred him from trying, and one day he went too far and pinched one of the intern’s bums. The intern filed a sexual harassment suit, and Eric was called into his boss Wanda’s office. Wanda gave Eric the standard warning, telling him he’d be fired if he didn’t cut his behaviour out. She also decided to suspend him, but the way she did it was a bit unusual, and frankly, probably a bit outside of the law. Wanda told Eric that he had to figure out what women wanted most in the world. When he came back to her with the correct answer, he’d be allowed to start working again.

So Eric went around to all the women in his life, asking what their deepest desire was. Of course, all of their answers were different. His sister wanted love, his mother wanted happiness, his friend wanted money, and on and on. Finally, after a couple of weeks of this, he was approached by his sister’s friend Ashley, a homely creature who had had a crush on him for years. She shyly told him she knew the right answer, but she’d only tell him if he promised to go on a date with her. He agreed, she told him, and he ran into his boss’s office the next morning, shouting, “I know the answer! The thing women want most in the world is  to be in charge of the men in their life.”

Wanda told him that he was right, and Eric got his job back.

The next day, he went on the promised date with Ashley. It went well and they got along nicely. And so, when they got back to Ashley’s flat she invited Eric inside. Eric hemmed and hawed, and Ashley soon figured out the problem.

“It’s because of my looks, isn’t it?” she asked.

Eric, deciding to be honest, nodded.

“What would you say if I told you that I can change my appearance? I can become beautiful.”

Of course, Eric didn’t believe her. But then, she changed, and all of sudden she looked like a supermodel. Before Eric could comprehend what was happening, she changed back.

“If you want, I can look like that. But, if you choose that appearance, I’ll be unfaithful and mean to you throughout our whole relationship. If, on the other hand, you decide to have me like this, I’ll be the most devoted girlfriend you could ever wish for. What will it be?”

Eric thought for a while, unsure if it was worth pursuing a relationship with those caveats. He was about to call the whole thing off, when he thought about the correct answer to the “what do women want” riddle. And, smiling, he said, “I trust your judgement. I’ll let you choose what’s best.”

Ashley smiled too, and transformed back into the supermodel. “Correct. Since you learned your lesson and let me have the authority in the relationship, I’ll be both faithful and beautiful for you.”

And they lived happily ever after.

So, my dear Frustrated in Somerset, you may be wondering what this has to do with your situation. What I’m trying to say with this story is that men don’t know what we want. They simply can’t comprehend it. As you can see, Eric could never have come up with the answer to his boss’s question on his own. He had to find out the answer from the women in his life. And then, once he had the answer, it wasn’t like he just forgot it instantaneously. He used what he learned with the homely woman-turned-supermodel, and for that, he was rewarded

with a beautiful and faithful girlfriend.

So, the best thing for you to do is stop just dropping hints and hoping your husband understands. After all, he isn’t being obtuse on purpose. For both your sakes, just tell him what you want. If you want him to go to a party, tell him to go to a party. Sure, you may get into an argument, but at least he’ll understand that it’s important to you—which he probably doesn’t now realise . And even if he still bows out of this party, he’ll know for future parties that it will be a big deal if he doesn’t go. Like the man in my little story, he’ll learn his lesson and use what he learned to make you happy. Drop the coy act and be straight with your man, and everyone will be happier in the end.

           Best,

           Wife of Bath

 

 

BK's Tale: Part 1

Dear readers,
As you may have observed in our forum discussion, the random draw has chosen BK, also known as 'Big Knight'/Bernard Knopper as our first contestant. I received this entry with the explicit instructions to split it into seven parts, so as to stay true to the medium BK has chosen for his tale. I am also told that comments are highly encouraged. What a great start to our competition!
~Harry Bailey, Managing Editor


Post-Apocalyptic Medieval Battle of Hogwarts and The Love of Maidens

Part 1

Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, they belong to J.K. Rowling. Please review and share with your friends! Part 2 due out tomorrow.

Dumbledore sighed. He had a big victory party to go to, but he was weary and tired. The battle had been tough and fast, and had cost many lives, but he was joyful about having reclaimed Hogwarts as his own. He brushed the soot and bone shards out of his luscious white mane with a fine-toothed comb until it was smooth, clean, and soft. Up in the highest tower of Hogwarts, he examined himself in the Mirror of Erised, but saw only himself looking back at him. This was it, the peak of his life: he had everything he wanted. Yet the mirror showed a happier version, a happier version of himself, but changed on the inside. An Albus Dumbledore the White, with a happy family, maybe some little ones around that he could bring up as his own grandchildren. They weren’t showing up in the Mirror of Erised because their warmth and presence would be something more felt than seen. He was the king of an empire now! There was no time to dilly-dally around and play with little witches and wizards. But he’d make sure to see them every few weeks or so, to guarantee they would get the benefit of his wisdom and kindness, now that he was in his prime.

He stopped brushing his hair. It wasn’t going to get any better than it was.

“Are you ready, Albus?”

“Yes, Minerva,” he called out to his companion. She was pacing the halls in her slippers as fast as she could, more shuffling than striding. Even in her old age, she had retained her wizened grace. Without the rejuvenating effect of being resurrected, her bones were slowly going brittle and her skin cracked and folded. But her robes, dusty and heavy as they were, still had their old lustre and grandness and reminded Dumbledore of a time long gone, a time when they were both teaching in the castle, rather than reigning from it.

He pulled the long sleeves of his dark battle gown down to cover his arms completely to cover his delicate skin that was speckled with birthmarks like an egg. It was brand-new, yet it had been his for so many centuries. He shook his head slightly, to reorder his thoughts and brush away the memories of his new old body.

“I’m ready.” Minerva was now being lifted onto a broomstick by two young battle wizards. She was riding side saddle—her knees weren’t the strongest. Floating in the air next to Dumbledore, her robe trailed behind her on the floor. Dumbledore loved her a lot in that moment, with all his heart, because they were going to their victory party and his beautiful queen didn’t give a Crumple-Horned Snorkack’s arse whether her robe got dirty or not. She had so much swagger. He was definitely lucky to have her. He could think of no better queen to reign over the land than Minerva McGonnagall.

“Let’s go,” she said, and zoomed ahead of him on the broom.

Dumbledore could hear the crowd cheering outside through the castle’s big windows.

He took a breath and felt it fill up his new ancient lungs.

Yes. He was ready now.

---

Harry and Draco lay in the dust. Both of them were bleeding freely from wounds all over their bodies.

“Are you okay, mate?” asked Harry.

Draco said, “Yes, I’m fine. Just… in pain. But it’s nothing I can’t survive.”

They thought back to all the battles they had been in together; the Battle of Hogwarts was only the most recent one. They were on the opposing side now, though, no longer fighting for their head, now that Dumbledore had come back from the dead and was pursuing his own private plan.

Harry showed gaps in his smile where some of his teeth had been knocked out in the fight. It made his smile lopsided and adorable, thought Draco. “You can say that again,” said Harry. The missing teeth gave him a little bit of a lisp, but it didn’t diminish the majesty in his air or the heroic glint in his eye.

They had survived wounds way worse than these. Harry had his head chopped all the way off, and Neville had healed it on again, while Draco had been sewn in half by a fraud magician who had used a real saw. Magic had put him back together, but sometimes he still felt an itch where the stitches were healing across his midriff. His battle armour was wooden, and it was fortified around his waist where he needed the most support, lest he was to fall apart again.

“What are we going to tell the others?” asked Harry.

“Um,” said Draco, and in that moment, Harry knew.

There were no others.

They were the only ones left.

Everyone else formerly of the DA, now the ADA, was dead. The curse bomb that had obliterated their troops and seared itself brightly into their retinas had killed all their friends.

“Bloody hell,” said Harry quietly, more to himself than to anyone else.

Draco crawled over to him, wincing at every step at his bruised and broken limbs. After a long while, he had made it, and he put his arm around Harry’s shoulders, who had buried his face in his crossed arms.

“We’re okay.”

“Well,” said Harry.

Draco smiled. He knew that doubt was the first sign of his best friend’s cynicism that he loved so well.

“We will be. I’m sure.”

---

Dumbledore rode on his hippogriff at the top of the parade, witches and wizards from all over had gathered to greet their long-lost emperor. But there were some women by the wayside, crying their eyes out. At first, a bubble of anger rose in Dumbledore’s throat – they were supposed to be happy for him! But he couldn’t help but wonder if maybe it was that thing, the very thing that made him happy, that was causing them grief.

He dug his heels into the flanks of his beautiful steed. “Hush, Buckfast, that’ll be it for now. Fly about for a little while and meet me back here in 20 minutes,” he whispered into the hippogriff’s ear.

Buckfast nodded his head in response, and pushed himself off the ground with his powerful claws.

“What’s the matter?” said Dumbledore to the crying women.

They looked afraid to see their new ruler so close by.

“It’s our husbands.”

“You evaporated their remains.”

“We want to bury them.”

“Or we will never find peace.”

It seemed to him that they were all speaking at the same time, they were all opening their mouths and speaking their heart’s desires, like one voice and four voices. He was overwhelmed by pity. He knew, of course, that victory came at a price, but this seemed like too expensive a price to pay.

“I will find them, and you can bury them.”

He took out his wand, shiny and new – he had got a new one after his resurrection, since Harry Potter obviously now had his wand. “Accio Remains!” he shouted, and his gravelly voice shook the ground. At first, nothing happened. The bystanders all looked around, but they couldn’t see what he had summoned. Then, with a large rushing and wooshing sound all around, the dusty bones of the women’s husbands arrived in a heap. The women looked troubled, but thankful. As horrified as they were, they looked like they knew that they could now find their peace.

---

“What was that?” said Harry. His chest hurt where the centaur had kicked him.

“I don’t know. I could be wrong, but it looked like a bunch of bones just flew through the air.”

“Shit. What is going on?”

“I don’t know.”

Draco looked down at his friend, who had now stopped crying and was breathing steadily. They were both wounded and would probably die where they were if no one came along to help them. Their long hatred of each other had turned to a deep connection and a lasting friendship over the years, and he truly loved Harry like a brother. They had sworn a blood oath to protect each other always, and they knew they wanted to do everything in the world together. Now their adventures seemed to have come to an end, with both of them slowly running out of fight within them. Only in their mid-twenties, a tiredness mixed with ennui slowed them to a halt. They were so, so tired. Maybe this was it. Maybe dying would be the last thing they would do together.

---

Dumbledore moved on. The women were hunched over the pile of bones, weeping still, but with less desperation than before. They would make a burial and hold a funeral, and then their souls would be still.

He whistled.

Buckfast came pelting down from the air, and he scooped up Dumbledore, whose stride was still as smooth as ever – resurrection had done wonders for his posture.

“Continue the parade,” he said to his friends around him, who had waited in silence all through the preceding action.

“Of course,” said his officer, Nearly Headless Nick.

The music started up again. It was a cheerful tune played by brass flutes and wooden trumpets, and Dumbledore hummed along to it.

Suddenly, the parade stopped again. He was riding at the helm, but couldn’t see immediately what had made Buckfast stop in his tracks.

Buckfast growled through his closed beak.

Dumbledore sensed something was wrong.

Buckfast sniffed at something on the ground.

Not something.

Some…one.

“Help,” came a hoarse whisper from underneath Buckfast’s face.

Dumbledore jumped off his hippogriff. He saw a man lying on the ground, his leg bent the wrong way, bleeding from his hip. The man’s face was contorted in pain, and he seemed to have landed in this spot just a minute ago.

“We dragged ourselves out here so we could live,” said another man, who was crawling close by out of the thicket. He had very thick dark hair with a streak of premature grey in it, and wide eyes that were rimmed in red from having left contact lenses in for too long.

“But you’re my enemies,” said Dumbledore. He saw their armour, made of wood, the armour of the last bastion of Hogwarts defenders who wanted it to remain an anarchist’s playground.

“We hoped you’d have mercy,” said the man lying on the ground. He raised his face to meet Dumbledore’s gaze, and then Dumbledore recognised them both.

Harry James Potter.

Draco Salazar Malfoy.

“You.”

He spoke quietly, put his hand on Buckfast’s shoulder to steady himself, and turned over his thoughts in his head. Over, and over, and over again.

“Fine. You shall live.”

“But, Sir,” Nearly Headless Nick was at Dumbledore’s side. He clearly had doubts about Dumbledore’s judgement. “They’re our mortal enemies.”

“I didn’t say they could live in freedom,” said Dumbledore.


TBC.