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
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
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“We found a wheelbarrow to carry him in. Have you got the
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
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
“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
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
“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
“It’s too late now.” Walter lied to
Walter picked up the lamp and followed his fellow conspirators down the
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
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
“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
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
“Of course. Did you think I was going to behead him or
“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?
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
“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
“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
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
“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
“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
“Daganya. What’s happened to you? Where has your
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
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.
More ether. The creature and its broken familiar were in the dark once
“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
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
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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