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by Paul Murgatroyd



Basil Thompson was smirking as he relived getting into his sexy young secretary that afternoon and pleasuring her three times on top of his desk. Whoah yeah, he thought, the dirty bitch couldn’t get enough of him, had never had it so good. Eventually he moved on to savour his celebration of that triumph – several large drinky-poos and a truly Lucullan dinner, culminating in that scrummy apple pie with lashings of lovely, lovely cream. He was sprawled in a chair in the new rose-garden, knocking back his third snifter of Louis XIII cognac and luxuriating in the heat of the last evening in October.

He surveyed his floodlit domain, wondering if he should shout to his wife to bring out a bowl of that fudge for a postprandial bonne bouche. As he decided that actually he could fit in some more apple pie instead, his eye was attracted by something in rapid motion at the end of the garden. It was a very bright light. A will-o’-the-wisp, he thought. Then he thought perhaps not, as there were in fact seven lights, in a pretty pink. As he looked, they arranged themselves into a V-formation, facing him. The V briskly rose up and sank down again twice. Then the lights passed through a gap in the wall that shouldn’t have been there and hovered just beyond it.

Bit odd, that, thought Basil. Must be drones. Yes, had to be that.

After a few seconds the lights coalesced, shimmered and formed a figure. It was a female figure, with ample curves, in a clinging pink catsuit. It spoke, in Sexy Susie’s voice: ‘Hello, Basil, how’s about some rustic rumpy-pumpy for a change? Is your man Roger up for it again? I’m simply dying for it, darling.’

Basil Thompson darted a glance over his shoulder to see if there was any sign of his wife. There wasn’t. He snickered, heaved himself up out of the chair and swaggered down the garden. He wondered briefly how Susie had got in, but then murmured: ‘Oh well, never mind, carpe diem. Superstud to the rescue, bonkfest round two.’

When he passed through the gap in the wall, Susie backed off before him, smiling. He came on until she held up her right hand. Basil halted, in the middle of a ring of crimson toadstools speckled by blackest night. After a few seconds she purred: ‘Right, follow me for the alfresco fornication, you naughty boy. In fact you’re so naughty that I’m going to have to spank you. Hard. On your plump little rump.’

‘Ooh, yes please, nanny, I’m a very bad boy, make my bot-bot hot, hot, hot,’ cooed Basil, and followed her.

The further on they went the lighter the sky became, but he didn’t take that in. Susie was just out of reach, and walked just too fast for him to catch up, but the jiggling of her buttocks kept him going. They reached a river, which Basil had not known was there, and a spit of sand leading to a tiny wooded island. Susie tossed over her shoulder: ‘It’s just across here, a nice secluded glade…My kid sister’s waiting for us there. She wants to watch…And then join in…You’ll really like her. She’s still just a girl, but a big girl, a schoolgirl. Fifteen years old, short gymslip, white ankle socks and raging hormones. Lucy. Better known as Juicy Lucy.’

Then she scampered across the sand, giggling, and disappeared into the trees.

Basil Thompson lumbered after her, as fast as he could go, leering and panting. But when he reached the trees, there was no glade, and no Susie.

He called her name, but got no reply. He shouted a few more times, in vain. Scowling and biting his bottom lip in frustration, he blundered onwards, hoping the glade was a bit further ahead. He walked and walked, but found only trees and more trees.

Suddenly one of the trees spoke to him: ‘Hello, Prime Minister. Welcome to your world.’

Basil Thompson stopped, looked round in confusion and asked: ‘What? Er, who said that?’

‘It was me, Basil,’ said an oak with the lips of a large knot-hole. ‘I’m so pleased to meet you. I’ve heard so much about you, and I know you’re a great friend to trees. We trees think you’re absolutely super. Don’t we, lads?’

The Prime Minister’s mouth fell open as all the other trees slowly nodded agreement.

He spluttered: ‘B,b,but trees can’t talk.’

‘Sorry,’ said the oak, ‘you’re quite mistaken. Barking up the wrong tree there, so to speak. Stranger things than that happen in your world, you know. Well, of course you know…Anyway we wanted to give you a little token of our arboreal appreciation, and Jesus Christ has come up with a real treat for you, something we just know you’ll love.’

‘J,Jesus?’ asked Basil, frowning in bewilderment.

‘Oh not Him. No, him over here,’ said the oak, pointing a branch at a nearby tree. ‘Jesus Christ the apple tree.’

The fruit-tree bowed and murmured: ‘Hello, Prime Minister. Let me just say that I am tremendously proud to have contributed all my apples to a grand Pie of Celebration, in honour of your sterling achievements in the UK and on the world stage.’

Basil’s chest swelled and his mouth watered. ‘Ooh, thank you. My favourite, my absolute favourite.’

‘There will be cream,’ intoned the oak. ‘Lashings of lovely, lovely cream. Let us not forget the Holy Cows, who gave generously of their milk and played their vital part in Operation Apple Pie…It’s all waiting for you, just ahead. You’ll come across it soon. Just carry on down there, along that path, to a place where all is playtime and pleasure.’

‘Right,’ said Basil. ‘Um, I say, you haven’t seen a blonde, have you?’

‘In a pink catsuit? With an athletic figure?’

Basil gulped. ‘Yes!’

‘With a very sexy schoolgirl, in a short gymslip?’

‘Yes, yes!’ squeaked Basil, bouncing on the spot.

‘No, mate. Sorry. Nothing like that has come along here. Has it, lads?’

The other trees shook their tops. Then they shed a few leaves over Basil’s groans of disappointment.

The oak shrugged and added: ‘What can I say? Circumstances change, circumstances beyond our control. I think you’d better just bash off and get your delicious pie. And all that lovely cream. Veritable lashings of it. Just around the corner. Any minute now.’

The Prime Minister cheered up at the thought of the yummy food and toddled off. However, when he turned the corner there was no pie. But there was a bush. In place of leaves it was covered with mirrors that hurled lances of light in all directions as the breeze stirred them. That’s a bit unusual, thought Basil, and trudged on, disconsolate.

Before long he was following a tendril of smoke, which led him to a smokeless glade. His pulse quickened: Susie must be there, and her randy little sister. He peered all round, but saw no humans. Instead there were animals, standing there silent and unmoving. He spotted a bull, a weasel, a cock, a white rabbit wearing a mask, a roadrunner and a creature with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and a snake for a tail.

As he wondered vaguely what kind of an animal that was, the lion and the snake greeted him simultaneously: ‘Hello, Prime Minister. Welcome to your world.’

Basil goggled, then said: ‘What do you mean by “your world”? How is it my world?’

The lion smiled. ‘As you are a great friend to animals, the Land of Lyonesse embraces you with open arms.’

The snake frowned, reared up and hissed at the lion: ‘Sod off! Snot off! Duplicitous bastard! Actually, Basil this is the Land of San Serif. And can I just say it is an honour, an honour and a privilege, to meet you.’

Basil Thompson looked from the snake to the lion, frowning in perplexity. The lion roared: ‘Oh up your arse with a wire brush! Not you, Basil, not your arse. No, you must carry straight on along the path, and just over the rise there you will find the fabulous apple pie, fashioned by our finest cordon rouge chefs in honour of you, the best Prime Minister Britain has ever had, and suitably attired in a dish of priceless ivory.’

As Basil preened himself, the snake said: ‘You can carry straight on, but please don’t carry straight on. The apple pie is not fabulous; it is marvellous, miraculous, paradise in a pie. And the cream…Oh, my dear, the cream is literally out of this world. Just one taste of it, and your feet will walk on rose petals, and the bird of happiness will fly up your nose…OK, off you pop now, carry straight on over the rise, there’s a good Prime Minister.’

Even more keen now for the promised treat, Basil struggled up the rise, panting so loudly that he didn’t hear the mocking laughter behind him. At the top he looked down with hungry eyes. There was no apple pie or cream there.

Instead there was a large, ornate garden. And an ethereal female, eight feet tall. She wore a vermilion robe of twice-dyed spider-silk, silver slippers adorned with beryl and chrysoberyl, and a diadem of dragons’ gold, cunningly contrived by Nordic dwarves and inscribed with letters of a language never before heard by man. Her skin shone like stardusted satin-flowers. Her eyes were luminous pools of wisdom, brimming with the knowledge of many secret things, known only to secret beings.

Basil approached her and said: ‘You haven’t seen a pie, have you?’

She looked down at him with disdain, and then with one finger pointed upwards to a huge ivory pie-dish spinning in mid-air several hundred feet above them. As Basil stamped his foot in frustration, she said with a stiletto smile: ‘Hello, Prime Minister. Welcome to your world.’

He scowled. ‘I keep on hearing that “your world” piffle. What on earth do you mean by that?’

She raised an eyebrow. ‘Oh dear. Not worked that out yet?’

‘Um, yes of course,’ said Basil. ‘Up to a point.’

She shook her head. ‘I would have thought that the purport of all this would be clear to the meanest of intelligences. But obviously it is not…It seemed only fair to expose you personally to the kind of world you have created for your electorate.’


‘Have a little think, and maybe you’ll see how appropriate this world is. Then again, maybe you won’t. Thinking, little or large, never was your forte, was it?’

‘No. Yes! But what about my delicious pie? And all that lovely cream? I want my pie. It’s not fair.’

‘The cozener cozened. Ever been hornswoggled, you addlepate?’

‘What? What?’ asked Basil, flummoxed. ‘I don’t get it.’

‘Exactly.’ She pursed her lips, and added: ‘But no matter, let us try to rise above apple pie. There is something rather more significant that you just have to see, something phenomenal, fantastical. Come along now. This way. Along the path.’

As she led him up it, he suddenly became aware of two tiny figures on the grass ahead of him. The further he advanced the more figures there were. Two became five, five became ten, then there were dozens, and finally hundreds. A veil was pulled from his eyes, to reveal an extraordinary scene.

The little people were dressed in red and green, with petals, leaves and thistledown for clothes, and acorn caps for hats. Some of them were performing a stately dance in time to an unearthly tune played by lutes, hautboys and dulcimers. Others were seated at mushroom tables, drinking manna-dew and cowslip wine from thimbles of orichalc, and eating honey wild, pomegranate seeds, stag’s tear toffee and broken hearts of nightingales. All the figures were six inches tall and had glittering gossamer wings.

The Prime Minister gawped in delight. ‘Er, are they…are they…’

‘Yes they are. You are having a faerie experience.’

‘Wah! So fairies actually exist?’

The fairy queen sighed. ‘Yes we do. Evidently.’

‘What? But aren’t you a bit tall for a fairy?’

‘Not at all.’

‘Oh. Well anyway, this is amazing. I loved fairies. As a child.’

‘I know. One in particular.’

‘That’s right. I had a doll. She was my absolute favourite…Tinker Bell.’

‘Ah yes, Tink,’ she said in a low voice.

‘Tink? So she’s real, alive?’ asked Basil, wide-eyed.


‘What do you mean?’

‘Was alive. Tink is dead.’

‘He sagged. ‘What? But how? She’s a fairy?’

‘My dear moron, fairies can die, you know.’

‘Oh yes, of course…Erm, what did she die of? Old age?’

‘No. You.’

‘What?’ asked Basil, flinching.

‘She died of you. You killed her.’

‘Me? But I would never kill her, I loved her,’ protested Basil, raising both his hands.

The queen’s gaze hardened. ‘You killed her. Murderer.’

‘But how on earth –‘

‘Smog. The smog that you and your government have done nothing to stop, much to promote.’

‘Oh, er…But, but –‘

‘Poor Tink coughed her lungs up. Literally. Chunk by corrupted, frothing chunk.’

Basil groaned. ‘Oh no.’

‘Oh yes! And no brats believing in fairies will bring her back. Ever. After death the pollution liquefied her and she ended up as a little pool of filth on the ground. Which we scraped up, and buried in a teapot, in Tinker’s Nook.’

‘Ew,’ muttered Basil, wrinkling his nose.

‘Tink was your first fairy casualty (she always did overdo the social intercourse with humans), but it’s not just Tink. Your policies have scorched our flowers, denuded our dells and dried up our brooks and lakes. The land is dying, and the fairies are ailing, thanks to you and your yes men.’

The Prime Minister drew himself up. ‘Ah, now, my government has always been 100% committed to protecting the environment. We have robust measures in place –‘

‘You ghastly little man. Pooh and pah to you, I blow my nose in your general direction.’

‘What? We have left no stone unturned, worked like Trojans. In a real sense, in a very real sense, no other British government has done more to combat climate change –‘

‘How true, how very true. You have done just as little as all the others. Despite the rapidly deteriorating situation, the obvious domino-effect.’

‘Look,’ blustered Basil, ‘as your Prime Minister I can assure you that in actual fact his majesty’s government is working tirelessly, round the clock, night and day, to halt the damage –‘

She snorted. ‘The same government that came up with the election slogan “A paler Shade of Green”? That government? Meanwhile our bees and butterflies have been annihilated and the Irish sea is an acid bath.’

Basil writhed, then blurted out: ‘You can’t blame me. I, er…it’s,er…yes actually it’s all the fault of the greens. Those crumblies. All that pressure and disruption – demonstrations, stunts to get media coverage and so on. It has had a profoundly negative effect on the parliamentary process –‘

‘Fairies hate lies,’ said the queen, her eyes flashing. ‘I’d fly up your nostrils into your brain and do something unmentionable to it, if you had one.’

Basil took a step backwards. Then he got a shifty look on his face and said: ‘OK, OK. This is still hush-hush but I can tell you confidentially that our scientists have devised a sure-fire method of actually reversing global warming. Yes, it’s curtains for climate change. Now obviously I can’t go into any real detail at this stage, but British science is once again leading the world –‘

‘Oh go piss up a rope! There’s nothing like that, and you know it. There is no Save the World app. Do you realize just how full of shit you are? Probably not. Here, have a look for yourself.’

The Prime Minister performed a contortion that he didn’t know he was capable of and found his head up his anus, painfully up his anus.

While it was there, he could still hear the angry queen talking. ‘This whole disaster was caused by an incredible conspiracy of imbecility: humanity – a teenaged glue-sniffer with his head trapped in a plastic bag; world leaders – solemnly promising that by 2080 they will reduce to under 2% global emissions of bullshit; the Great British Public – the sound-bitten, liquid-pledged living dead who actually voted in a party of cartoon characters with bubble gum policies; and you – Indolence’s idiot child - you’re not Basil Thompson, your name is Death, and you are a destroyer of worlds.’

She exhaled loudly, just maintaining control of herself. ‘Right, you can come out now, you obnoxious little cough-drop.’

Basil’s head was pulled out of his backside with a pop and he stood there blinking and brown-faced.

The fairy queen said: ‘You fools have left it too late. The climate catastrophe is now irreversible. We hoped and hoped that you would come to your senses, but no, you postured and prevaricated, grinning gargoyles to the end.’

Basil responded to that with a cheery grin. ‘Ah now, never say die. Keep calm and carry on. Clearly there are some lessons to be learned, but I can promise you that we will soon come up with a world-beating –‘

‘Did you notice my fairies’ expressions?’ she snapped. ‘Of course you didn’t. Perceptive as ever. Look now, and you will see that the Shining Ones are not smiling, they are grieving, inexpressibly sad in the midst of their festivities.’

Basil did look, and pulled a puzzled face.

She gave a deep sigh and explained. ‘They are grieving because this is a funeral feast. The countryside that we love so much has been raped and ravaged, and we cannot live there any more, because our delicate bodies can’t cope with pollution and microplastics and searing heat…That cavern over there leads down to the Underworld, and we are going down there, now, while we can still make our own way there, before we die a slow and agonizing death here, like Tink.’

The queen wept. Two large tears spilled from her eyes and turned into pearls.

Basil Thompson was slightly abashed. Then he rallied. ‘Ah, er…chin up. Dunkirk spirit and all that. Look, I can assure you that his majesty’s government will provide substantial support for our friends in Fairyland. I’ll convene Cobra. Create a,a,a…Minister for Faerie Affairs. Actually I’ll –‘

The queen stabbed a contemptuous finger at him and silenced him. ‘The wind of retribution is blowing. All over the doomed earth we fairies are punishing the perpetrators before we depart. No fairy-tale ending for you, Prime Minister, or for all the other mundicidal maniacs…You will go from here and become a solitary wanderer across the face of this land. You have been here for minutes, but, when you return to your world, decades will have passed. There you will experience personally the ultimate impact of your asinine actions and criminal inaction. You will witness the End of Days – a desolation of dust, of crumbling cities, of the countless corpses of people killed by you.’

As she finished speaking, all the fairies rose up and swarmed him, buzzing angrily and pinching him all over. They clustered around his eyes and also blocked up his nose and mouth. Everything went black, he couldn’t breathe, he passed out.


The Prime Minister came to in his rose-garden, sprawled in his chair, flapping his hand about his face. After a few seconds he stopped flapping and took stock. A dream. He’d nodded off and had some sort of crazy dream. Fairies! The end of the world! Bosh, tosh and fiddle-faddle!

He smiled at his own silliness. Must have been the cheese – the Brie and that simply delectable Danish Blue. Right. OK, nunc est bibendum. He poured himself another snifter of cognac, took a swig and tried to recall the dream in more detail. There’d been that fairy queen. Very easy on the eye she was, until she became a bossy-britches and started all that green crap. Tinker Bell had been in there somewhere. And Sexy Susie, at a gap in the wall.

Basil looked up to see if there actually was a gap there, but the end of the garden was in darkness. All the lights were out, apart from the solar-powered lanterns. Another bloody power-cut. And the roses nearest him looked shrivelled. Must be the heat. It was jolly hot. And smoggy again. He could taste it – acrid, chemical. He’d have a word with the gardeners, give them a rocket about watering the roses.

What else was there in the dream? That was right – apple pie, and lashings of cream. That was a thought. He was decidedly peckish again. He called ‘Gwen’, but his wife didn’t reply. He shouted her name, but it was swallowed up in the silence. The wretched woman must have gone to bed. He’d have to go and get some pie himself. No rest for the wicked.

Basil Thompson struggled out of the chair. One of its arms snapped off as he put his weight on it, and he got a splinter in his palm. As he pulled it out, he noticed liver spots on the back of his other hand and waves of fine wrinkles and veins like blue ropes. Must be getting old, he thought. Basil grimaced, and tottered across the oak deck, finding it strangely spongy underfoot.

Then he saw his wife. On the ground by the back door. Dead. And bloated.

He gasped. ‘Gwen! Ah Gwenny.’

When he had fully registered his first corpse, of their own accord his feet took him off, to wander across the face of the land.




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