All stories copyright xoggoth


The oracle of Elsie

There were a couple of articles in the papers last month but I doubt any of you saw them, and if you did you would not have connected them.

The first, in the Rushden Echo, concerns the death, peacefully at the age of 82, of a local dinner lady Mrs. Elsie Turner. She was troubled for much of her adult life by strange dreams that were weirdly at odds with her low IQ.

The second, in the back pages of the Guardian, concerned archaeological discoveries in Northern Cyprus. Very little is known of the Zaclan civilisation which blossomed briefly there in approx. 2900 BC. It flourished for about 60 years under the rules of King Delos and his son Raiset, before a terrible famine and a series of conquests returned it to the agrarian backwater that had spawned it. It soon became an insignificant outpost of the Minoan civilisation and was forgotten.

Even less is known of the Oracle of Sesmet, and nothing at all about the part it played in the sudden blossoming of Zaclas. This is the story in so far as it can be pieced together from the Minoran fragments. Figures in brackets denote historical footnotes.

The cave (1) had had an evil reputation before the Priestess and her strange sect of Sesmet moved in. The fragments record that Delos was desperately afraid during his consultation. The dark mist filled vaults were always filled with echoing sound, sometimes like a woman muttering far off, sometimes shouting like a woman in mortal terror, but nobody knew how the sound arose and the mute disciples of Sesmet (2) would never tell.

Delos asked how he could conquer his enemies, a neighbouring tribe. The screaming stopped, a long silence, and then, although the Priestesses stood still and silent as always, a woman's distant voice came: "Put your cardi on dear or you'll catch your death".

The king and his advisors left and pondered the oracle's strange words. A 'cardi' must mean the ceremonial armour, the carphello, and although it was scarcely suitable for battle, the chief wore it. This action saved his life when a spear, which surely would have penetrated his normal light armour, got tangled in the huge ornamental bunch of goat horns hanging around his neck. The battle was won.

He consulted the oracle frequently after that, and his son after him, and Zaclas thrived.

On the king's alliance with an enemy by marriage to that king's daughter: "It'll all end in tears mark my words". The marriage was called off and a far more advantageous alliance brought great trading prosperity.

On the siege of an enemy stronghold: "There's no smoke without fire they say". Firing of the brush upwind and the resulting choking smoke soon ended the siege with no loss of life. (3)

On expansion of trade with the Minoans: "There's some as are no better than they ought to be." Spies sent out soon found that the rival Minoans were deliberately trying to lure them into a worthless trade deal. (4)

On whether the young prince should travel to Minoa to negotiate: "There's no place like home that's what I always say". The plot to take him hostage was discovered shortly after the trip was cancelled.

On whether the first bad draught would soon end: "Lovely weather for ducks". It did. On whether the second bad drought would soon end: "You should always put something aside for a rainy day." They dammed the failing river and the resulting lake saw them through the two more dry years that followed.

On whether Raiset should put aside the queen in favour of a younger concubine because of her barrenness: "That's just typical that is, you wait for a bus for ages and then two come along together". The queen conceived twin sons shortly afterwards. (5)

On most occasions the Oracle simply said "Oh well, mustn't grumble" and the king knew that the planned course was the right one.

And so it went on for some 60 years, the Oracle gave infallible advice that boosted the success and prosperity of the Zaclans and for a short while made them the major world civilisation.

Until the first day Raiset came to the cave and found the Priestess withdrawn and perplexed. The cave was silent except for the drip of water. No answers came to his question then, nor to any after that. The misfortunes that followed were to lead to Raiset's death and soon after that the rapid fall of Zaclas as a leading civilisation.

Historical notes

1 The location is believed to be somewhere in the Kyrenia mountains near the current site of the Dimitri Burger Bar.

2 Members of the Sesmet sect would ceremonially tear out their tongues by tying them to the tops of sacred fig trees and jumping off.

3 Of course they slaughtered them all afterwards. Well they did in those days, didn't they?

4 This apparently concerned the hyping of so-called 3G clay sacrifice pots. The Minoans auctioned off the rights to place them in their temples. The expected huge demand did not materialise and many of those who paid the enormous prices went to the wall.

5 The queen had spent long weeks in silent prayer to Mephet, goddess of fertility. She had also appointed a handsome young bodyguard but that had nothing to do with it.

Back to index. Go to home page.


Plumbing Supplies

A shop opened opposite. It bore a sign in red on white "The 18mm Plumbing Joints Shop".

He went in and there were shelves of boxes on display, each filled with identical gleaming copper solder-type 18 mm straight joints. He asked if they had any copper tube or sink fittings but was told they only sold the 18mm joints displayed.

The shop had a very brisk turnover. There was always a queue of people, often beginning outside the door, all waiting patiently to be served with their straight plumbing joints. It made no sense, why were people buying these things when the shop did not even sell anything one could join with them?

Sense or not, the demand did not escape the notice of other struggling local traders. Soon the grocer stopped selling groceries and sold only straight 18mm plumbing joints. The baker, butcher, and after a few weeks all the other local shops and supermarkets started selling only straight 18mm plumbing joints. The brisk trade in each did not seem to suffer at all from the proximity of so many identical outlets.

Within a few months after that every retail outlet in the country had followed suit and sold only 18mm straight plumbing joints.

As long as they could, long after the economy collapsed, and until they ran out of money or starved to death, whichever came first, people kept on buying them.

Back to index. Go to home page.



You pick up the phone to thank an aunt in Dundee for her birthday card but appear to have a crossed line, then realise it is you talking to your aunt. The milkman rings and you go to the door to see yourself paying him. You go back to bed to find yourself making love to your wife.

You realise that every human contact you will ever have you have already had ten seconds earlier. You cannot bear such a lonely future and blow your brains out.

You would leave a suicide note but it has probably been done already.

Back to index. Go to home page.


God loves you

"Bless me father for I have sinned, it's been a week since my last confession" said the boy. "I told a lie to my mother, and er, I was rude to a teacher. That is all can remember father"

The priest sighed. "I think there is more my son, I cannot absolve you of your sins if you do not tell me about them." The boy thought. "I pushed someone over in the playground father".

The priest sighed again. "Remember the parable of the prodigal son, boy, there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting.., you must sin truly to make god love you." The boy listened. What a priest told him must surely be right. The priest must surely also be right when a panel was removed in the partition of the confessional box. "Come and stand here before you go" he said.

"Bless me father for I have sinned, it's been a week since my last confession" said the boy. "I hit the cat with a big bottle. Mummy thought it was hit by a car and took it to the vet." The priest replied "God loves you for repenting of this sin my boy, but you must make him love you more". And told him how. "Stand here now"

"Bless me father for I have sinned, it's been a week since my last confession" said the boy. "I put turps in my little brother's milk and he got really ill. Mummy had to take him to the hospital." The priest replied "God loves you more for repenting of this grave sin my boy, but you can make his love for you even greater...". The panel opened.

"Bless me father for I have sinned, it's been a week since my last confession" said the boy. "I poured petrol through next door's letter box and lit a match. Mr.Collins is dead and Mrs.Collins and Rebecca are in hospital really badly burnt. Rebecca might die too." The priest replied "God and all the angels truly love you for repenting of this grave sin my boy, but they can love you more yet...". "Just there, that's right"

"Bless me father for I have sinned, it's been a week since my last confession" said the boy. "I told a lie to my mother." The priest replied. "I do not think god will love you if you disobey his appointed minister my boy, to bask in his glory you must do what I told you to do." "Now...". The boy went to the gap in the partition. He swung the kitchen knife from far back and it went deep into the priest's throat. He twisted and sawed and the jugular blood soaked the crimson psalters. "And I killed the priest" said the boy "For these and all my sins I am truly sorry"

He left the confessional, knelt down in the stalls, said three Hail Marys and god loved him.

Back to index. Go to home page.



The Star Trek fan set out on the long boring daily commute to his job. He wished he could just leave his house and go through some inter-dimensional portal to arrive at the office a few seconds later. He wished he had his own personal wormhole. He got his wish.

He was run down by a furniture lorry and a few short weeks later he was full of them.

Back to index. Go to home page.



His daughter had fallen off a cliff and her body lay on the rocks 120 feet below. Another man rushed over and restrained him from trying to climb down, telling him his daughter could not possibly have survived the fall.

"But look!" said the man, "maybe that tree broke her fall!".

"I'm afraid it is not possible to fall from here and land on that tree", said the stranger, "It is too far away".

"But she could have!" insisted the distraught father.

The stranger grabbed the man's young son and pushed him over. "There, what did I tell you?" he said "missed by a good two feet!".

Back to index. Go to home page.


Breaking things

He was only seven and always in trouble for breaking things. He couldn't help it, he was just so curious to see what they looked like inside, how they worked. Now he was crying, he worked away feverishly with the soupspoon, trying to lever his little sister's eyeballs back before mummy came in from the garden.

Back to index. Go to home page.


Bath salts

A woman tried out some new bath salts on her baby. It was a little caustic due to a valve blockage at the factory and when she came back a few minutes later young Sidney was the consistency and colour of jelly and custard. Dismissing her case for damages, Justice Thomlins said that the law did not concern itself with trifles.

Back to index. Go to home page.


Residual magnetism

Residual magnetism is tired of being ignored and begins to build an empire, casting off its ferrous limitations and growing stronger by the hour.

You wake to find your ear stuck to the wife's and it is a devil of a job to separate them. You leave for work, stepping over a couple of old ladies firmly bound together by the humming coils of their varicose veins. On the train the passengers are clumped together in radiating lines running from the ends of the carriages, you only narrowly avoid their fate.

Leaving the lift you bump into Fenner from accounts, an ugly man (typical accountant) with facial warts and bad breath. Your face will be glued to his until death releases you both.

Back to index. Go to home page.


Second Coming

It is not strictly true that god is infallible. With the lives of billions of sentient souls on each of billions of planets to watch over, just occasionally, only once in many millennia, he gets it wrong.

One such error happened when he confused Earth and a high gravity planet in the Orion galaxy where the intelligent inhabitants are far smaller.

The Second Coming actually started at 9.15 AM on 27th February 2003.

It ended at 9.16 AM on 27th February 2003 when a Mrs Gittings trod on the Messiah while putting out her milk bottles.

Back to index. Go to home page.



He vaguely recalled seeing those medical stories, or were they just urban myths?, of people growing up with parts of their of an identical twin inside them, of apparent growths being cut open to reveal a small bundle of hair and skin or similar detritus.

It started with a small hard lump on his arm which grew rapidly more protuberant over a couple of days. He awoke bleeding one morning and pulled out a tooth, small and yellow, but unmistakably a tooth.

Later, making love to his girl friend, she said "oh that feels wonderful dear, how are you doing that?" Afterwards he found a long finger projecting from his body at the ideal position.

Parts sprouted rapidly after that and he was afraid to go out. Eyelids opened under his armpits to reveal yellowish bloodshot eyeballs. Hands clawed their way out of his hair. Legs popped out unexpectedly from his abdomen and started running, cannoning him painfully into the wall.

In just four days he was a pulsing tangled mass of limbs, faces, hair, made more hideous by a profusion of sagging intestines and other organs that should have been internal.

He was the first known case in Britain of Rapid Spontaneous Vestigial Sextuplet Resurgence Syndrome.

Back to index. Go to home page.



You are enjoying a quiet dip at the seaside when you feel a strange wrinkled creature bore into your stomach. Although no one else can see anything wrong, it slowly tunnels upwards tossing out stray innards. You sense that its goal is to look out through your eyeballs so it can watch videos of old "Blind date" episodes over and over.

Back to index. Go to home page.


Bacon waterfalls

You suddenly find yourself in a strange land of ravines in which all the waterfalls are composed of streaky bacon. Being extremely Islamophobic, you decide to convert to Islam to have the pleasure of offending yourself by bathing in them but the land is deserted and you can't find a mosque anywhere.

Back to index. Go to home page.



You walk out one morning to a Britain gripped by a strange fashion. Everybody has a huge vice-like contraption on their head, which they tighten at intervals while intoning "My head is flatter than yours". You are the only one on the bus whose brain is not decanting in high chic style onto your tea shirt and everyone is laughing at you.

Back to index. Go to home page.


Taxi ride

You are sharing a taxi with a total stranger and suddenly become aware that you have Dawn French's flayed buttocks on your head. To cover your embarrassment you decide to talk about the weather, but the man is covered in bees and it is all your fault because you did not leave the buttocks sufficient time to cure properly.

Back to index. Go to home page.


Vomiting on Tony

He is the most irritating smug git in the history of British politics, but it's hard to really hate Tony.

Gordon Brown or Charles Clarke one could cheerfully feed feet first into a stone crusher and feel satisfied to the last munch. But faced with the sight of all Tony's schoolboyish faces vanishing between the steel jaws, the caring yet resolute face, the concerned yet determined face, the tough yet compassionate face etc. etc. it would be hard not to feel as though you had stamped on a schizophrenic puppy for weeing on the carpet.

The nation's preferred fate for the PM was first articulated by an Australian comedian on "Have I Got News For You", one of their endless supply of ugly famous comedians that nobody has ever heard of. Our Antipodean trendsetter opined that it would be immensely satisfying to chunder all over Tony's Armani suit.

This really touched a cord and the huge postbag and avalanche of emails were overwhelmingly positive. The Sun ran a poll "The politician you would most like to vomit on" and it was a Tony landslide with 68%. Ken Livingstone was a poor second with 21%.

The first to put it into practice was a Tory councillor at the opening of the new leisure centre in Builth Wells. A finger down the throat and our leader was decorated in a greenish hue that marvellously matched the carpet. She was released without charge the same day.

A few days later Peter Tatchell managed to get him with a tasteful mixture of Vino Verde and paella. The PM's security men had not been stupid enough to let Tatchell anywhere near the PM of course, which made Tatchell's spectacular projectile vomit all the more impressive. This amazing expulsion from nearly 10 feet was played over and over on TV like one of Beckham's penalty shots, and for a short time Tatchell was nearly as popular.

Over the next few weeks the PM was variously decorated from his Sassoon haircut to his Gucci shoes with ex-dietary mixtures ranging from half digested beer and steak pie from trade unionists, to used-to-be caviar and champagne from top directors. The security men did their best to watch for fingers heading for the throat but there was no certain defence against those suitable pre-primed with warm salt water and other emetics.

All the PM's contacts were very carefully screened but this helped for only a short while, the trend was unstoppable. The writing was on the wall when the PM, about to leave for a dinner with the Italian president, was 'Bleeghed' by two of his own trusted security team. The clean suit stayed clean only until, arriving late at the Italian embassy, it fell victim to combined vomitus of the presidential and ambassadorial kind.

He knew he was finished, and donning yet another clean suit, drove to the palace that very afternoon to tender his resignation.

Maam wiped one's mouth with the back of one's hand. "I say, one is so frightfully sorry"

Back to index. Go to home page.


Market Researcher

Nobody thought to ask the market researcher who had authorised him to stand there outside the supermarket, not even the management. He looked so official with his smart suit, nametag and expensive clipboard. It was not as if he was asking any dodgy questions anyhow, queries about fresh produce preferences were mundane and surely harmless.

He turned out to be a psychotic with a grudge against elderly people. By putting the razor blades and needles only in aubergines, brought mainly by the over 60s, he achieved an 80% target market penetration.

Back to index. Go to home page.


The smacking debate

On TV there was a discussion about smacking children.

The anti side relied on unproven assertions about psychological damage and emotional references to human rights. The professor of anthropology on the pro side argued that chastisement of the young, the lioness cuffing her cubs for example, was entirely normal in nature, and that natural practices always evolved for sound survival reasons. He found it very convincing.

Coincidentally on the other channel there was a nature film about lions in the Serengeti. When it finished he killed both his stepchildren and ate them.

Back to index. Go to home page.


Memories of the Blitz

His mother was always going on and on and on about how things were better in the blitz, the camaraderie, the spirit, the way everyone helped everyone else, and you could leave your doors unlocked in them days. He drove her mad. On a sunny day she was sitting in her wheelchair on the patio and started up "During the blitz..". He went upstairs, put "633 squadron" on the stereo, and dropped a homemade bomb on her from the bedroom window.

Back to index. Go to home page.


Holding things up

A widower in Ely loved DIY and gardening; they were his life. His house and garden had to be immaculate and his fitted kitchen actually fitted. He bought a climber for his sweet peas but the next morning it had blown over. He replaced it more firmly, but the next morning it had blown over again so he relocated it and the plants against a low wall and fastened it firmly with some long nails. Perfect! His daughter rang. "Dad, could you look after Eric this Saturday?" He could not get on with sorting his workshop; the toddler kept staggering about and falling over. He fetched his hammer and nails.

Back to index. Go to home page.


All stories copyright xoggoth