The weedy poet Dennis Beerpint leads a far more exciting life than one would expect of the author of several precious slim volumes of twee verse. If, that is, one is to believe his diaries. Here he is on this day exactly ten years ago.
Woke up and ate a bowl of thin gruel, apt for invalids, for breakfast, but not before I was engaged in a life or death struggle with an enraged and half-starved panther which leapt upon me from somewhere among the pansies and phlox in the garden. Eventually I was able to smother it with a pillow, ruining in the process the pillowcase embroidered by Aunt Dot so many years ago with winsome scenes of Alpine frolic and glee. I wept, for pillowcase not panther.
After breakfast, I went to languish neurasthenically in a nook, there to wring from the depths of my soul a verselet or two of twee beauty before succumbing to the vapours. No sooner had I adopted my posture of languishment, however, and before e’er I had the strength to pick up my quill, than the bright red bakelite emergency hotline metal tapping machine concealed in the shrubbery began to bleep. I had an urgent message from International Woman of Mystery Primrose Dent, warning me of imminent attack by insurrectionary forces. Barely had I digested the news than a trio of helicopters whirred into view overhead, disgorging, on rope ladders, dozens of brutish and pitiless special commandos, who tipped me out of my hammock, crushed my quill underfoot, pulled a grotesque sponge hood over my head and yanked me up into one of the choppers. I was being abducted!
Hooded, manacled, and drugged with a serum, I had to think fast before I lost consciousness. I marshalled the techniques of the mystic oriental art of Goon Fang and freed myself, snatched the vial of serum antidote I spotted in the pocket of the helicopter pilot, and, risking all, leapt out of the chopper. I made a wager that we were flying over the sea, and I won. I plunged into the ocean, and sank many fathoms deep, but just as I was about to relax and come bobbing back to the surface, one of my ankles was grasped in the tentacles of a gigantic undersea Pontoppidan monster, which dragged me further down, down and down, to the sea bed where was its lair.
Luckily, just at the point where I thought my lungs would burst, I found an anomalous air pocket among the rocks. I calculated there was enough air to keep me alive for ten minutes. But the Pontoppidan monster looked hungry, and I reckoned I had half that time at best. Goon Fang would do me not a jot of good in a subaquatic environment, that much I knew. But I had a ray gun, and I used it, zapping the monster between the eyes. I then had to chew myself free from entangling fronds of seaweed before, in the nick of time, I made it back to the surface and swam ashore.
I took a breather on the glittering sands, and ate a seagull which I beat to death with my bare hands. I began to trudge inland, hoping to find a bus stop. Sure enough, I came to one soon enough, and waited no more than an hour for the number 666 which would take me home. Half way there, however, the brakes on the bus failed at the top of a perilously steep slope, and the driver perished from a heart attack. The bus gathered speed as it careened down the slope towards, I now saw, peering through the windscreen, a vast warehouse stacked with drums of highly volatile and flammable chemical compounds, beside which a careless janitor had just dropped a lit match. As I clutched hopelessly at the steering wheel of the bus, it came away in my hands. In a few seconds time, I would be engulfed in the fires of a hell.
It is at times like these I find poetry such a comfort, my own verses in particular. I began to recite the opening lines of my sonnet I languished, neurasthenic, in a gazebo… when all of a sudden an ineptly-piloted hot air balloon came crashing to earth in the path of the bus and acted as a miracle cushion. This gave me an idea for a new poem, and I could hardly wait to get back to my nook to write The Miracle Cushion before it evaporated.
I watched the warehouse explode in a sheet of flame and thanked my lucky stars. I walked home, exhausted but cheerful, whistling. Only as I unlatched the garden gate did I realise I had left my bus pass on the bus. I began to sob, and crumpled to the ground, keening like a widow woman. My shattered nerves could not withstand such a loss. I fell into a swoon where I lay, and that is where I was found, at midnight, by the Ghoul of Gack, which enwrapped me in a grisly shroud and dragged me away to its awful cave. I was in for a rude awakening on the morrow, but the morrow is Saint Mungo’s Day, so I pray for his protection.