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Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

The Fanged Frog - Prologue



He hopped off the boat at precisely 11:13 p.m.


The air was cool and a heavy fog left little droplets of water on his skin.  Ahead of him, on the docks, several burly men in yellow raincoats loaded the ship’s cargo onto wagons.  Overhead, a few dingy oil lamps burned, making it brighter, but somehow not much easier to see.


It was, he thought, a lovely night.


By midnight, he’d left the smell of saltwater and fish behind and picked up a new scent, one of earth and sweat and blood: the city was dead ahead.


Excitement had carried him this far:  the thrill of a new life in a new country.  Where he came from, on the other side of the ocean, he was well known.  He was respected and feared.  But with fame came misfortune.  Everyone, it seemed, had some reason to dislike him.  Hatred and fear drove some of them; envy and jealousy the others.  He was the center of everyone’s attention, and he was tired of being the bull’s-eye.


A fresh start, that’s what he’d needed.  But how?  Where?  A stroke of luck found him watching two men in white attend to another man lying in the road.  He was hidden in tall weeds, but he was close enough to hear what they said.  He’s asleep,” one of the men said.  “I know him,” said the other.  “Name’s Blakely.  He was going to ship out with us on The Expedition tomorrow night.  What happened?”


He hadn’t stayed to hear the rest.  The Expedition, he thought, his mind whirling like a carousel.  A boat.  Shipping out tomorrow.  Why he hadn’t thought of it before he didn’t know, but a boat made perfect sense to him now.  He could leave the country without leaving a trail.  Let his enemies fight each other for a change, he thought.


The next night, as he hunkered down between a couple of boxes of dried fish, three men hauled him aboard The Expedition.  They never saw him.


He hadn’t known where he was going, but he was happy when he found out.  The New World:  what better place to make a fresh start?  Still, as he turned into an alley on the edge of the city, all the fatigue and hunger of his long journey caught up with him.  He knew he needed rest, but he wanted food even more.


Near a wooden fence and behind some weeds he dug a hole in the damp earth and gently lowered his coffin into it.  A shabby home, he thought, but it’s only temporary.  He flicked his tongue at a passing beetle:  like magic the beetle was there one instant, gone the next.


It was time.