Flipping Heck

Flipping Heck is a small village equidistant between Pointy Town and its twin town, Pointytwin Town. Pointy Town is pointier, oh so much pointier, than Pointytwin Town, which is itself pointier than most comparable towns, and certainly oodles more pointy than Flipping Heck, which is not pointy at all.

The pointiness of Pointy Town and, to a lesser yet significant extent, of Pointytwin Town, are topics often remarked upon in the tavern at Flipping Heck. In fact, the Flipping Heck taverneers rarely talk of anything else, unless it be their gutters and drains and sewers and subterranean catacombs and ossuaries and tunnels, when, that is, they talk of anything at all, for much of the time in the tavern they do not speak at all, but cup their tankards in their big hairy villagers’ hands, gazing morosely into the fug.

Within the tavern the fug is thick, but it is even thicker outside. It is very difficult to see where you are going in Flipping Heck. Quite apart from the thick fug, there are no signposts, nor do the lanes have names, and nor do the hovels have numbers. There is a postman, but his comings and goings are shrouded in mystery, and nobody will swear on a bible that they have ever seen him.

There is one bible in Flipping Heck, and it is kept chained to a lectern in the village church, St Bibblybibdib’s. The vicar is from overseas, far far away overseas, and speaks in his own strange guttural tongue, or rather shouts, oh how he shouts, his Sunday morning sermons can be heard for miles around. It is said you can just about hear them from the western outskirts of Pointy Town and the eastern outskirts of Pointytwin Town, if the air is still and you prick up your ears.

The air, though, is rarely still, for tremendous and terrifying winds howl across the flat expanse of marshland between Pointy Town and Flipping Heck and between Flipping Heck and Pointytwin Town. It is the sort of marshland in which a fertile imagination will summon into being sprites and ghouls and, occasionally, escaped convicts It is said that the lumbering walrus-moustached psychopath Babinsky lurks somewhere in the marshes, sharpening his axe and biding his time until one night he will lumber into Flipping Heck and slaughter the first-born. It is the thought of such a calamity that hangs in the air unspoken in the village tavern along with the fug.

The now dead vicar who preceded the present incumbent of St Bibblybibdib’s led a campaign to make Flipping Heck more pointy, if not quite as pointy as Pointytwin Town, certainly far less pointy than Pointy Town, but pointy nevertheless. There is very little evidence of his efforts, save for his tombstone in St Bibblybibdib’s churchyard, which is a little bit pointy when viewed from a certain angle in a certain light during certain phases of the moon.

The moon is a silver disc in the sky. Such is the fug in Flipping Heck it is barely visible to the villagers, merely a blur of milky light far, far above their heads. But they rarely look up. Their thoughts, such as they are, are directed down, to their gutters and drains and sewers and subterranean catacombs and ossuaries and tunnels. Once it was possible to reach both Pointy Town and Pointytwin Town through the tunnels, but for more than a century now they have been blocked. Rumour has it that, when he is not lurking in the marshes, Babinsky prowls the tunnels, dragging his blood-drenched axe behind him, singing his horrible song.

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