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Friday short story time: "Prophet Warning"

Slightly old-school Friday story this week, after a few efforts in which I’ve attempted to change my style, throw out an idea quickly and so forth. Which… may mean it’s not my finest literary hour, but I really enjoyed writing it nonetheless.

And I’m currently 63 pages through Script Frenzy, if that interests anyone. Admittedly, my main conclusion is that I’ll probably go back and re-adapt it into some kind of prose format.

Prophet Warning

By Nick Bryan

‘Beware the horse!’

Joe turned around on that. ‘Come again, mate?’

But before the homeless, bearded man could yell anything more, Lettie tugged his arm. ‘Joe, don’t encourage him.’

Unfortunately, the tramp had already heard the encouragement. He had just been slumped outside the kebab shop, his dented Starbucks cup containing only a few pennies, but when he realised someone was acknowledging his existence, he was on his feet immediately. ‘Look  aware of the horse, my son! The horse will come forth and smite you down!’

‘Wait, will this horse be in the street? Or the house?’

‘Or his fucking crack dreams, come on Joe…’

‘One sec.’ He turned back to the tramp. ‘So when will it happen?’

‘Sooner that you’d think!’ He shoved a finger into Joe’s face, which was encrusted in an ambiguous brown substance. ‘Mark my prophecy…’

‘So you’re a prophet?’


‘Seriously, is this like the horsemen of the apocalypse, because I don’t to miss…’

But before any more homeless wisdom could emerge, a large blob of man armed with greasy overalls and an alarming meat cleaver emerged from the shop. ‘Oi!’

The street prophet turned, eyes widening beneath his mess of hair, and the golden words stopped flowing.

‘Piss off, go on.’ The cleaver gestured pointedly down the road. ‘Stop scaring my goddamn customers.’

And so the tramp ran, the courage of his religious convictions failing him in the face of flaying from an angry kebab merchant. To be honest, Joe couldn’t blame him, that guy looked crazy, Like he should be killing his customers and cooking them into the food. The Sweeney Todd of kebab shops, only nowhere near as good looking as Johnny Depp.

As Joe and Lettie finally entered the shop (it said “restaurant” on the sign, but there was no sign of tables, waiters or, let’s be honest, food), the spinning leg of grey meat behind the counter looked even less appetising than usual. That was where they hacked the donor kebabs, of course, using a sword even more terrifying than the one the prophet had been chased off with.

‘So,’ the enormous man rumbled, taking his place behind the counter, ‘what do you want?’

His younger and more nervous sidekick skittered around in the “kitchen” area, throwing potato chunks back and forth from one deep fat fryer to another with no end in sight. Joe wasn’t sure if he was making chips or crisps.

‘Um, just the battered sausage with some chips, please.’ Joe indicated it nervously, deciding that was the least unappealing option. This had seemed a much better idea in the pub.

Lettie, even less concerned with being polite than he, politely shook her head when he glanced over. Goddamn it, Joe was going to suffer alone wasn’t he?

It turned out, that was even more true than he’d expected. As the owner bent down to retrieve the battered sausage from the humming cabinet that kept it lukewarm, the other guy nudged the controls for the revolving meat leg of horror whilst trying to adjust the deep fat fryer. And apparently he managed to hit the accelerator, because it went from humming delicately to whirling like a car axle, thrashing horrible sloppy gunk all over the walls. It hit the big guy, it hit the small guy, splattered the cabinet and dripped into the chicken servings, shot over the top and smashed into Joe’s nose and face.

He’d not had time to duck, but Lettie had somehow managed it. She was crouched in front of the plastic front, trying not to giggle at him. So totally deserved it when a blob of oozing flesh peeled off the heated plastic and fell into her hair. She nearly backflipped herself screaming.

Making no particular apology for his manners, Joe spat a few choice cuts out onto the floor, seized Lettie under the shoulder and made to leave. The two custodians of the meat-spinner seemed unconcerned by their departure; the battered sausage was now too battered to sell anyway.

They hurried down the street, Lettie pulling at her hair still, and Joe reaching for his mobile.

Finally satisfied that she’d done all she could without a shower, Lettie looked over to him. ‘What’re you doing?’

‘Calling the food hygiene people.’

‘To come and give you a disinfectant bath?’

‘No. To tell them that place is selling horse meat in their donor kebabs.’

‘Oh, seriously?’

‘Don’t worry, it’ll be an anonymous tip.’

Copyright me 2012, don’t steal, email me if you want, etc. And yes, puntastic title, disgusting moments and a twist ending. Just like the good old days.


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