How to Cook a Weasel's Goose

“The new roof is holding well Walter. It’s been raining cats and dogs all day and not a drip yet.” Said the young man from the parlor, watching as his host removed a kettle from the fire and poured out three cups of tea for his guests.

“I know, it’s like the roof were wrapped in sealskin it’s so tight. Harry Cooper did a good job. He charged a small fortune for it though I say it’s worth it. Phil, Andrea, would either of you like milk with your tea?”

“No tea for me thank you. Milk in tea makes for bad luck whilst in a storm. We would not want lightning to burn your home down so soon after re-roofing.” Andrea said from behind her hand of playing cards.

Though Andrea herself was distracted with conversation, her familiar, a large amber cat, sat alertly in her lap. The spirit eyed Philip from across the table for any sign of cheating as he covered a mighty yawn with his own fan of seven cards.

Philip's own familiar, a large gecko perched on his shoulder, was watching Andrea as well, waiting for her to let her guard down, to absently flash her hand and reveal a weakness in her suit.

“Well, there’s no chance of that sort of mishap. I’ve got one of Mr. Franklin’s lightning catching contraptions on the roof. A real genius that man. If God had not been around at the time of creation I’m sure old Ben would have invented the world for him.” Walter joked as he put the kettle back on the fire, took a cup in each hand and very carefully placed them on the table before each of his guests.

Walter’s familiar, a garter snake, was curled around his wrist, nimbly grasping the handle of her master’s teacup with her tail as he pulled up his seat at the table.

“So, where were we?” Walter asked as he got comfortable and whispered a delicate cooling blow over the surface of his tea.

With a boom and a rattle the door flew open, nearly kicked off its hinges by a large man in a red jacket sucking on a long extinguished cigar. Both he and his familiar, a small weasel, were sopping wet from the rain.

He fell through the threshold, hugging the coat rack for balance and knocking several garments to the floor as he regained his balance. He threw the soaked jacket to the floor on top of the dry ones and teetered towards the stairs, grumbling between hiccups.

“What all are you staring at? Ungrateful yankees, we leave our homes and families to protect your cities and all we get in return is bad food and dirty looks. Disgraceful.” He suppressed a coughing fit as he leaned upon the banister and spit the phlegm onto the floor at the foot of the stairs before ascending.

“No use cleaning that, this house is a pig sty anyway. The king’ll have your head for treating me like this Walter, you wait and see. Five years I’ve suffered in these filthy colonies, I swear how I suffer for my country.” He wilted over the railing and vomited on to the carpet as Walter and his two guests glared in silence.

“Come on Wallace, let’s go dry off and get to bed before we black out again.” Said his familiar, who was clutched tight to her master’s shoulder as he hung over the edge, trying not to fall over into the pile of vomit beneath them. “I warned you not to get us drunk tonight but you wouldn’t listen.”

“I swear on our life Daganya, never, ever again.” He promised as he propped himself up and stomped slowly up the stairwell one careful, heavy step at a time.

“You always say that. You say that every time and then you do it again.” The little spirit shouted in Wallace’s ear, weeping into his hair as they vanished into the darkness of the upper corridor.

“You never mentioned he was still living here. I swear he’s like a cat you just can’t get rid of.” Philip had laid his cards face up on the table, forgetting all about the game.

Andrea abandoned her cards as well, stroking Marzipan who was still curled in her lap with one hand and holding her teacup in the other. “Wallace is an absolute menace. Even the other red coats say he is a disgrace. I feel sorry for whoever married him.”

“Shhh! He’s right up stairs remember? Don’t cause me any more trouble than I’m in already!” Walter got up and inspected the damage. “Look, he’s thrown up all about my carpet, tracked mud all over the floor, and he’s made both of your coats wet. I apologize. This evening has been ruined. I’m so embarrassed.”

“Don’t be embarrassed, it’s not your fault, but it is time you stop putting up with his rubbish. The whole town hates his guts already, let’s drag him to the pub and have them tar and feather him for you. The other red coats will probably help us do it too, with all the gaming money I hear he owes them.”

“Oh, Andrea, that’s just too horrible. I know he deserves it but I won’t help do it. It’s too cruel. Think of the scars it would leave”

“You’re right. I’ve got a better idea.” Said Philip. “There’s this contraption Franklin invented that would be perfect. Wallace won’t know what hit him, but it won’t leave a scratch on him either.”

Walter gasped and his familiar hid herself within his shirt sleeve.

“Philip, are you suggesting some sort of torture?” Walter saw the grin on Philip’s face and shuddered like the timbers of his home with each nearby thunder clap. This was already getting out of hand, and the vomit would stain the rug if he didn’t move to clean it soon.

“Of course not. Ben’s invention is quite harmless physically speaking. If we use it on him while he’s still drunk he’ll just wake up tomorrow hurting like mad. Come on Walter, Andrea, let’s go drag him down to Ben’s place. Let us go! Quickly!”

Swept up in Philip’s enthusiasm, Walter was rummaging through his cupboard looking for a bottle of ether. He already had an old rag to be soak with it once he could find the bottle somewhere in the back amongst the other medicines.

Walter’s familiar peeked out from his shirt collar.

“Are you sure you should be doing this? I think you should stop. God protects the meek. Remember when you always used to say that?”

“Yes, but this is different Lyebura. Wallace has been sucking our blood for too long. I’ve got to have some kind of justice to keep my sanity, and besides, we’ve been Ben’s neighbor for years, he’s far too kind hearted to come up with anything too harsh to use on a person.”

“You don’t know know what you’re getting us in to Walter. You can’t kill a fly without praying for it. I don’t think you want the death of a man on your mind for all of eternity.”

Philip and Andrea entered through the back door, both wet and with muddy shoes.

“We found a wheelbarrow to carry him in. Have you got the ether?”

Walter plucked the brown bottle from the back of the shelf and sloshed its contents gently, there was plenty left.

“There goes my last excuse.” Walter muttered.

“You can just say no.” His familiar whispered.

“Yeah, I’ve got it Phil. Let’s go.”

Philip, Andrea and Walter found Wallace in a little upstairs room laying across the bed almost as though he had been shot and left there. He was still in his wet solder’s outfit and shivering as he slept. Daganya was curled up upon his chest, dreaming to the comforting rhythm of her master’s heartbeat.

“What are you waiting for Walter? You’ve got the rag, go ahead and knock him out.”

“I think he’s knocked out as it is. He’s already had a rough night, perhaps we shouldn’t be doing this. Perhaps we should just -”

“How about you knock him out and then we can decide what to do next before he wakes up and sees us.” Said Andrea, whose hand was trembling slightly as she held the lantern.

A thunderclap sounded nearby and Wallace stirred slightly. The three conspirators and their familiars froze as they waited in suspense for him to awaken and see them looming above his bed and have a war-fit.

Wallace went right on sleeping, snoring loudly, but Daganya slowly lifted her head from Wallace’s body, opened her eyes to the flicker of the lantern’s flame, and let out a scream fit to shatter glass.

“Aaaah! Murder! Murder! Help! Wallace, wake up! Wake up!” His soul screamed as she frantically tried to jostle her human to alertness. “Wake up! Wallace, they’re going to kill us! Please get up!” She beat on Wallace’s chest with her tiny paws, yelled in his ears, anything to wake him while they had a chance to escape with their life.

Andrea’s familiar attacked at once, the nimble cat leapt onto the bed and clamped his jaws around Daganya. The smaller spirit shrieked as Marzipan throttled her and she fought back as best she could, scratching wildly and snapping with her teeth for whatever she could grab hold of.

It was no use. Though Daganya was used to defending herself, with her senses dampened in her master’s drunkenness she didn’t stand a chance. Marzipan crushed the breath out of her and slammed her relentlessly against the headboard until she submitted.

Walter stood with the bottle and the rag, frozen sick with disgust at what he was helping to do.

The pain and fear that was thrashing Wallace’s soul was finally seeping through to his brain, and he began to groan and struggle against the sleep which had clasped his body to the bed.

“Are you going to stare at him all day until he gets up or what?” Shouted Andrea.

“Philip, Andrea, this has gone far enough. Look at his familiar, she’s crying for her life. She thinks we’re going to kill them.”

“Oh bother Walter, no wonder he’s been walking all over you for nearly a year now. Give me the cloth, I’ll do it myself if you won’t. Soldier or not, no one hurts my friends and gets away with it.”

Philip uncorked the bottle, dabbed its contents onto the rag and pressed it against Wallace’s face.

“No, no, it’s not fair. He’s learned his lesson I swear I’ll never let him drink again.” Daganya sobbed as she watched Philip sedate her master.

Marzipan was aglow with triumph as he held Daganya in his mouth, his sharp fangs sinking deep into the little weasel’s flesh. The defeated spirit became weak and dazed as the conquerer drank of her energy.

Daganya remembered the familiar of Wallace’s wife back in England, how she longed to bask in the heat of his soft vulpine form; and how dearly she missed their two little children whose souls she had helped to name. She had to see them again. She just had to.

“Please don’t kill us, I’ll make him leave first thing tomorrow, I’ll do anything, please don’t hurt my Wallace. Please...”

Daganya lifted her head and saw Philip’s familiar grinning cruelly at her. She opened her mouth to beg again, but as the ether took hold the words were lost in the darkness. She closed her eyes, and her body went limp in Marzipan’s grip.

“Okay, he’s out, can we go play cards now?”

“Of course not, we’ve come this far already, and Ben’s house is only a few minutes walk away. Andrea darling, help me carry this fat ass down the stairs. You can hold the lantern if you don’t want to touch the man Phil, but don’t think your hands are clean. You brought the ether after all.”

“I invited you and Andrea over to drink tea and play games, not to make me an accomplice to murder.”

“We aren’t going to murder him.”

“Then what are you going to do to him then?”

“Just wait and see. Come on Andrea you take the legs and I’ll take his arms. Let’s hurry, time is not our friend tonight.” And the couple carried the unconscious man out of the room and down the stairs, shadowed by Marzipan, who was holding Daganya like a varmint in his jaws and feasting in delight upon her remaining strength.

“Put your foot down and say no. You can stop it still.” Said Walter’s familiar as she peeked out of his sleeve.

“It’s too late now.” Walter lied to himself.

Walter picked up the lamp and followed his fellow conspirators down the stairs.

The wind was so cold it was almost as though winter had come early that night. Nature seemed intent on stalling the short journey to Benjamin Franklin’s home as much as possible, blowing rain and debris into their faces no matter which way the road turned. When the lantern burned out the party was forced to navigate in near total darkness save for the frequent flashes of lightning.

“At least we won’t have to worry about the lightning starting any fires, I doubt it would be able to burn long tonight anyway.” Philip said as they approached a large home with a tall lightning mast mounted to its roof.

“Ben, it’s me, Philip and some friends. May we come in?” He shouted as he rapped on the door. No answer. He tried the latch, the door was unlocked. He helped Andrea hoist Wallace out of the wheelbarrow and carry him inside.

“Don’t you think we aught to wait for Mr. Franklin to return before we involve him in whatever it is that we’re about to do?” Philip asked from the threshold.

“Well if he minded he shouldn’t have left his door open. Find a light and help us down the stairs, it’s dark in here.”

Walter closed the door, re-lit the lantern with a nearby candle, and followed the small procession of people and familiars down into the basement workshop of Benjamin Franklin.

Everywhere there seemed to be printing presses, old newspapers, engraver’s equipment, dismantled timepieces, and queer contraptions in various stages of completion.

Among these was an ornate yew chest clad in iron bands like a barrel. A tall metal stalk not unlike a lightning rod was bolted to the lid, and tied to the rod were several lengths of thin wire rope.

“Ah, good, there it is.” Philip said as he backed into the workshop carrying Wallace and saw the chest beside a table covered in alchemical apparatus. There was a chair nearby, and Philip and Andrea sat him in it, wetter and colder than any of his captors as he dozed in his etherized state.

The ceiling was low here, and Walter hung the lantern from a hook above the table.

“Andrea, quickly, place his familiar in the box. This will take but a moment.”

“No Philip. Not until you tell me what we’re about to do to this man. That thing looks like some sort of execution device. Revenge is one thing, but I’m not going to -”

“You’re trying my patience Andrea, so do as I say. There’s room for two in there.” He said menacingly.

Andrea flung opened the box and Marzipan climbed over the side and dropped Daganya inside with a thump. The metal clad chest had a latch key, which Andrea locked hastily and shied back as though she had just lit a canon.

She stood close to Walter while Philip inspected the queer instruments that sat upon the table above the chest. Marzipan retreated into his mistress's arms and pressed himself into her warmth as Andrea cradled him. The thought of her familiar being trapped within that chest was too horrible to bear, and he was trembling.

There was nothing preventing Walter and Andrea from turning around and leaving, yet they both felt like they could do nothing but be still and watch. Lyebura wrapped herself tight around Walter’s wrist, and he stroked her tiny head with his thumb.

“Well, since you are both clearly dying to know, I suppose I’ll finally tell you what is going on. This box is one of Ben’s newest inventions. He showed me how it works several days ago.

First you put the person’s familiar in the box, as we’ve done already. Then you dip the ends of the cords into these jars full of acid that hold electric charges.” Philip dunked each of the wires into one of the jars on the table, which was filled with a tar-like substance.

“And once they’re all in, the current flows through the metal parts of the box and cramps the link between the person’s body and their spirit. It only takes a few moments of exposure, but the effects will last for days.

He will be hurting all week, and the poor bastard won’t know what hit him. He’ll think he’s having the worst hangover ever. Actually it’s probably time to remove the wires now. We wouldn’t want to end up with too much of a good thing now would we?”

“Wait? That was it?” Walter examined as he examined Wallace. He appeared no worse off than before Philip had administered the invisible dose of current.

“Isn’t that enough?”

“I mean, that still sounds horrible, but he looks fine still.”

“Of course. Did you think I was going to behead him or something?”

“Well the way you were acting from the moment you knocked out Wallace up until now I was quite concerned for my safety. Especially after you threatened your wife like that.”

“Well, we had already come all this way, I couldn’t just let you both chicken out on me at the last second. If we all catch colds because of this I at least want it to be worth it.”

“Wait, so you weren’t really going to make me put my Marzipan in that box after all?”

“Of course not dear. What do you think I am? British?”

Andrea growled and beat Philip on the back several times with one hand while holding Marzipan in the other.

“I can’t believe I married you.”

“Neither can I.” Philip said as he kissed Andrea on the forehead and gentled Marzipan until the familiar’s mistress had finally calmed down.

Walter was so full of relief he felt that he could float all the way home upon it.

“This is quite lovely, but now that we’re done here let’s get Wallace back in in bed before the ether runs out and he’s back in a normal drunken stupor.”

“What in hell’s name are you all doing in my workshop?” Barked Benjamin Franklin as he stomped down the stairs in a drenched sealskin raincoat, his familiar, a wild turkey at his side as he stormed in furiously.

“Oh, hey there Ben. You know Walter Fish from down the road don’t you? Well, this red coat has been giving him grief lately so I thought we’d bring him over here and give him a little surprise for when he wakes up in the morning.”

“Damn it Phil just because I’ve shown you one of my inventions doesn't mean you can just waltz into my house whenever you’d like and torture people. Especially people who have the authority to have us all hung.

None of you fools know the half of what this device is capable of, now remove that man’s familiar from that box this instant before -”

As Ben spoke, so it happened. Lightning struck the mast atop his house and traveled down, striking the rod fastened to the yew chest containing Wallace Morant’s familiar.

There was a great pulse of light and heat. The house seemed almost to have been lifted off the ground as the thunder rattled its foundation. Vision and hearing returned gradually. The lantern hung from the ceiling was still lit, swaying softly as the wind tossed the house around, and the rain was still buffeting the roof two floors above.

The chest was now scorched with black, and smelled of burning tinder, though there were no smoke or flames to be seen.

“Good God! No!” Walter rushed to Wallace’s side and felt for a heartbeat through the wet clothing. His own heart was beating fit to burst inside him, he had even forgot to breathe for a moment as he waited for a pulse from the unconscious solider.

“He’s okay. He’s alright.” He sighed as he found the evidence of life. “He’s still in one piece.”

Walter, Philip and Andrea all glanced to Benjamin waiting for some further confirmation.

“The body is unscathed, but I fear the rest of him. Philip, open the box.”

This had all been just a mean hearted prank a moment ago, like slipping laxative in someone’s tea or rigging a bucket of water over a neighbor’s door, but now Philip could imagine nothing on the face of the earth he wouldn’t prefer to looking inside that box.

For having just been struck by lightning, the wood and metal was cold, nearly icy to the touch as Philip slowly undid the latch key. He hesitated as he readied himself to open the chest.

What was he afraid of? The bloke was still alive wasn't he?

The hinges crumbled into dust as Philip opened the lid and it fell away. He could only stare into the box in wonder and disgust as he struggled to understand the wrong he had done.

Walter, Andrea, Benjamin and all their familiars approached the chest and peered in as well.

The weasel was sleeping placidly on the scorched floor of the box. Her form had lost all its color and took on a deathly translucence. They all somehow knew what had happened, though no word yet existed for it.

Daganya was alive, but Wallace Morant’s soul was no longer. Wallace and Daganya were torn apart, their bond shattered by the lightning.

“My God. Philip, look what you’ve done! Look at what you’ve made me do! You made me bring you ether! You made me carry the lantern! Oh I’m going to hell for this! Philip you’ve damned us all!”

“I didn’t know Walter, how could I have known? This is, I can’t even, no - I’m so sorry. I can’t believe this is happening. How could God even let this be possible? I couldn’t have imagined…”

“How could we have done this Marzipan? That poor spirit. She was fighting for her life and I made you beat her to a pulp and suck the life out of her. I made you put her in the box, and now she’s…”

“Oh quit your blubbering all of you. I’m the one who will burn for this. I invented the damn contraption remember? Now pick yourselves up and let’s think of a plan before - oh damn my tongue he’s waking now.”

Wallace came to his senses and was instantly in tears, knowing he had surely died and was now in hell. He was ankle deep in his own blood. Blood only he could see or feel, gushing from the invisible wound where his soul had been ripped away.

He waded through the lurid steam to the open casket in which the pale weasel slept, robbed of all the things that had once made her part of Wallace.

“Daganya. What’s happened to you? Where has your color gone?”

Wallace snatched the weasel up and clutched her to his chest. He groped her and kissed her desperately, cried profusely into her coat, but it was meaningless. Daganya, alive and awake, didn’t hear him, didn’t see him, and didn’t care.

There was no longer any feeling to her, no affection in her eyes, no warmth in her body. That precious love which only Wallace had known would never be his again.

This was all wrong, this was against nature. This was ungodly. Human beings were never meant to be alone, not like this, not without their souls.

Wallace held pressed the remains of his soul to his breast and whimpered her name ceaselessly.

“I’m sorry Daganya, I’m sorry. Please give me another chance. I swear I’ll be good to you, I swear I’ll never hurt you again. Come back to me, please. Daganya...”

More ether. The creature and its broken familiar were in the dark once more.

“We must put him down. It’s the only decent thing we can do for him now.” Said Benjamin solemnly as he and the others held their familiars close to them. “Let us dispose of him and and find a believable excuse for his death while we still have the night on our side.”

Silent and full of guilt and pity, Walter, Philip and Andrea all set to the grim task at hand. Wallace laid peacefully on the workshop floor, his Daganya squeezed to his chest. Though apart in spirit their hearts still beat together, knowing that their time was drawing short.

Walter was sitting on his front porch when the sun rose the next morning. The sky was perfect, blue and cloudless.

A fellow and his familiar trotted blithely together down the muddy road whistling with the birds in the trees as the day set in. His name was Peter Shelley, and his familiar was a rabbit.

“Hey Walt. Beautiful day isn’t it?” Peter sang as he drew near.

“Yes. I suppose so.”

“Why so glum today? Is that jerk Wallace giving you grief again?”

Walter wretched inside, and his familiar winced.

“I didn’t sleep last night.”

“Yeah, it was hard to sleep for me too with all that thunder and wind. A tree blew down into our neighbor’s yard. It could have crushed our house if the wind was blowing the other way. We were lucky.”

Walter thought of several things to say, but uttered nothing.

“Speaking of disasters, did you hear about what happened to Adam Studebaker’s goods store last night?”


“Some drunken red coat had broken in and was robbing him some time past midnight and he must have dropped his lantern or something and burned the place to the ground, with him still in it.

The fire brigade found him cooked like a goose when they arrived. I read about it in the Franklin Gazette earlier this morning.”

Walter was too drained to show anything but his dreadful weariness.

“That Ben, it’s as though he writes the news before it happens sometimes.”

“Yes, almost.” Walter petted Lyebura as she rested, curled upon his lap.

“Well, see you later then. Good day.” And Peter skipped merrily on down the road and around the bend. 

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