Gingerbiscuit - An Uninvited Visitor A hush descended on the hall and the council stared in open-mouthed wonder as two brightly-uniformed guards entered the castle. Between them was a strange looking creature. He was adorned entirely in black, with not a flash of colour to be seen anywhere about his alien raiment. He was also considerably larger than the two guards that propelled him towards the town elders but the most remarkable aspect of his appearance was his eyes, which bulged from the side of his head on thick storks. All was deathly silent, only the sound of the fountain bubbling out in the courtyard could be heard. “What is the meaning of this intrusion?” demanded one of the elders, an ancient figure dressed in brilliant blue and sunburst orange. “Your graces,” said one of the guards. “We found this creature lurking in the rushes outside the castle. He is clearly not one of us. We thought it best that we bring him to be judged by our most wise and honorable elders.” “Your decision was wise,” said another of the elders. The stranger glanced nervously around the castle hall. He was at least twice the size of any of the others around him but he was dangerously outnumbered. He knew nothing of who he was, where he was or even how he came to be here and yet something seemed very familiar. Looking around at the expressions on the faces that looked at him and their garish coloration there was something that he DID know: this was an entirely alien world to him and he was in big trouble. The smallest of the elders was first to address the stranger. He clearly had much to prove. “What brings you to this place?” he demanded. “I…” began the stranger “Speak up!” demanded another elder. The stranger received an encouraging shove in the back from one of his captors. “I don’t know,” came the stranger’s reply. “You must have a reason!” said the first elder, the one of such dazzling Blue and orange coloring. “I really don’t!” protested the stranger. “I can remember nothing. I think I might be ill.” The council of elders murmured quietly among one another. The stranger could just hear snippets of the conversation. “What a freak!” he heard one of the elders say. “Um, I’m not a freak” protested the Stranger. “Silence freak!” demanded one of the elders. The stranger closed his mouth, resisting the urge to get mad. He thought back, fighting through the depths of his mind but his memory offered him no explanation as to why he was here. He didn’t WANT to be here. Given the choice he would not be here, being scrutinized and called a freak by these strange beings with their bright colors and eyes flat against their heads. He would much rather be at home with his family. If indeed he had either a home or family. The council ceased their murmurings and turned to face the stranger. “We have reached our decision,” said the first elder. “And in spite of your freakish size and appearance – “ “Please stop calling me a freak,” said the Stranger. The elder ignored him and continued. “In spite of your freakish size and appearance we can see that you have come here unarmed and pose us no threat. However, due to your size we also feel that to have you lumbering around among us would cause dangers of its own. We fear that your presence and unsightly appearance would offend our Gods and so therefore we must command you to leave this place immediately, never to return – under penalty of death!” The stranger felt like sinking to the floor with relief. He had stared death in the face this day and had escaped by a whisker. And yet his ordeal wasn’t quite over. He had been ordered to return to his home but had no idea where that was or how to get there. And if he somehow got lost and wandered back into the territory of his captors he knew that these strange little beings would have him killed. “Now begone!” ordered the smallest of the elders. “And may your hulking form never darken these halls again!” The stranger felt himself being forced roughly from the hall, though he would have happily left on his own accord. If he was called a freak once more he was going to lose his rag. Around him the others in the hall were less than happy with the decision. “We should have had him killed,” said one. “What if he brings back more of them?” said another. “We’ll be doomed for sure!” “Order!” commanded the blue and orange elder. He watched suspiciously as the Form of the stranger disappeared through the castle gates. “See to it that you watch him all the way to the edge of these lands!” he called after the two guards. And then he was gone. The crowds in the hall continued to murmur amongst themselves and they were still murmuring when the gates to the castle slammed back open. Everyone instantly stopped their discussion and commentary of the morning’s events and turned their eyes to the castle doorway. A hush descended on the hall and the council stared in open-mouthed wonder as the guards returned to the hall with the stranger. “What is the meaning of this intrusion?” demanded the blue and orange elder. “Your graces,” said one of the guards, “we found this creature lurking in the reeds outside the castle. He is clearly not one of us. We thought it best that we bring him to be judged by our most wise and honorable elders.” “Your decision was wise,” said another of the elders. The stranger glanced nervously around the castle hall. He was at least twice the size of any of the others around him but he was dangerously outnumbered. He knew nothing of who he was, where he was or even how he came to be here and yet something seemed very familiar. Looking around at the expressions on the faces that looked at him he did know ONE thing for certain: he was in big trouble here. “What brings you to this place?” demanded the smallest of the elders. However he had hardly finished speaking when there came an almighty boom from outside the castle. The ground trembled and everyone began to flap around wailing in panic and alarm. “It’s the Big Face!” “He’s come to get us!” “The stranger’s presence has clearly angered the big face!” cried the blue and orange elder. “Quickly everyone, to the safe place!” Everyone, the stranger included fled from the castle and as they did so a giant, bearded face appeared to them through the haze. Everybody screamed in terror as a deep voice boomed through the water: “DUDE, WHAT’S WITH YOUR FISH?” “Ben, don’t tap on the glass man!” Lance looked over with annoyance at his roommate tapping on the side of his tropical fish tank. “They don’t like it.” “But they don’t DO anything. They just hang out all day in that little castle.” “Well you’ve got them moving now,” said Lance and he got up from the couch to go over and look at his brightly coloured fish swimming from the castle towards the little model volcano. “Weird,” said Ben. “Now they’re all just hiding behind that volcano. Dude your fish are broken.” “They’re not broken. You’ve just scared them.” Ben looked thoughtfully into the fish tank as the last little blue and orange fish disappeared behind the volcano. “What do you think they do behind there?” Lance shrugged and went back to the couch. “Do you think they have little parties in there? In that castle? “Dude, you smoke too much weed,” said Lance. “Now leave them alone before you scare them all to death.” Ben had another last look at the fish tank and noticed one slightly larger black fish swimming around on its own. It wasn’t like the other fish and its eyes poked from the side of its head on thick black stalks. “Dude this fish is a freak,” said Ben and just as he was turning to walk away he wasn’t certain but he could have sworn that the weird little black fish flipped him the bird.