EXCERPT [Reveries]: Josie Haybottom is late

Reveries, by Bruno Cooke, is available on Amazon. Read about it on Goodreads, or buy it straight off the bat. Also, read a review here.

At 05:01 on that fateful October morning, Josie awoke in a wet bed. Her bed was wet with urine, her own. The sun still slept.

Her brother, it seemed, observed an etiquette vastly transliterated from her own, regarding prank rules. To her, unconscious meant unarmed; to Drew, it meant easy pickings. He had been told the previous day about the trick of soaking your victim’s fingers in warmed vinegar-water during NREM3 (approximately 20% of a sleep cycle, his learned compatriot informed him). Roused by his alarm at 04:45 ante meridiem, he prepared silently while the blood throbbed in his ears. He crept into his sister’s bedroom, taking with him a tub of water estimated by his elbow to be damn near close enough to body temperature.

Needless to say (but hell, let it be said): the prank paid off. He watched on, petrified, feet fastened, shivering with gratified anticipation as the puddle grew. Josie released a soft groan, and stretched out her back. It clicked. The sound jolted Drew back to the immediacy of reality and he scarpered. In his rush he trod with full force on a stray Lego cube – Josie had not forgotten the value of tangible play, regularly creating for herself miniature worlds in which anything at all was possible, as long as it was constructed exclusively from quadrangles and could be connected, top and bottom, in the prescribed way.

Drew yelped to high heaven, quite unable to inhibit his reflexes against such a burst of visceral pain. The bolt shot up his leg and reached his brain before he could suppress it, and his cry rang forth. Josie’s torso snapped up like a spring, frightened into consciousness by her brother’s gasp. She retorted with a breathy AGH! which alerted Drew. Blenching at the thought of her impending revenge, he swung round and flung up his foot, wishing to soothe it for immediate escape. He lost his balance again, semi-somersaulted with a flying scissor-kick into the air, and landed on his bottom, unprotected but for a thin layer of pyjama cotton.

A blunt twinge seared from his left cheek and reverberated like a ripple through his rump. Josie tossed her duvet from her bed in order to reprimand her brother for waking her without permission, only to discover her compromised position. She sat in a pool of her own doing, warm and wet to the hilt. Her blood proceeded to poach. She knew her brother’s dastardly ways and knew in a second that he was the culprit. A ragged, fuming electricity began to pop and bubble in the pit of her stomach. It seethed and blew gales within her, raising her up onto her hind legs. Towering above Drew, she gained vantage, therefore advantage.

Standing now, a lioness in her prime, she roared with hearty rumble, her mane full aflame and plumage lit. She bounced once, twice, and then flew like a falcon onto her brother’s back. Her faithful talons sank in, prompting the blood to flow where it may. Drew’s sharp shriek could be heard from three doors down: Norwegian Ms Jerry in the yellow cottage at number 135 awoke with a start, shot up and knocked her head KATHUMP on the bedside lamp, wherefrom a searing bulge could be seen until a week later; sickly old Reverend Harklestamp, the Dane in the blue house opposite, yelped and defecated where he lay, staring up at the majestic compass which adorned the mantelpiece; down the hall, the fractious pair’s biological mother (their house was red; they didn’t have any fish) opened her weary eyes and, disorientated for a moment, flailed out beside her, thwacking her partner square on the nose.

Josie was in her element. All four limbs wreaked their most vengeful wrath upon her brother, inflicting so great a shock that he lost all consciousness. Drew crumpled under his sister’s bulk and, landing directly cube to cube, suffered comprised potency and generous scarring. Let that be a lesson to brothers all.

Unfazed by the hyperbole of the situation, and dehydrated after the fracas, Josie went downstairs for a cool glass of coconut milk. Coco was unassailable.

The morning’s set-to had, however, taken its toll on Josie’s foot-to-eye coordination. Steps were too much. Her humanness raised its gnarly head – or, more precisely, the minor discrepancy in length between her right and left legs went uncompensated for – she fell, oh how she fell!, with uproarious calamity. On her third step, her foot only narrowly shaved the stairlip, and clumped onto the level below. This knocked her so off course that she came tumbling down, step by step, with a series of percussive thumps which roused the whole household. Her mothers both, biological and nominal, came bounding out of their room, skipped down the staircase to find their daughter (biological, titular) star-fished on the tartan-rugged floor, florid and moaning. Knocked unconscious like her brother, Josie soon awoke to find herself one tooth down, a certified resident of sore-town.

*

If you enjoyed this, read more excerpts at the following links:
EXCERPT [Reveries]: Richard goes to his first Masturbators’ Anonymous Meeting
EXCERPT [Reveries]: Richard shits in the bath, is upset
EXCERPT [Reveries]: Richard, Jenny, and a pair of antediluvians
EXCERPT [Reveries]: Josie Haybottom is late

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