“The Day That Went Hobnaciously,” by Han Adcock

Apr 20th, 2016 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

It was Thursday. Thursdays are good for wandoodling your time, but it’s better to put any Time you don’t need into one of those big, green plastic thingies and leave it out for the Midnight Collector. He always refuses to take it but hey ho.

Who invented Thursdays anyway? I stood on the decrepit corner between Pointless Walk and Eville Avenue and I demanded to know the answer. The bins outside number twenty-four were so sparkly but still, they only answered with a silent reflection. Silent reflection is a good practice to keep in public, but like so many other people, I—

A cavernous, dark hole opened itself in the space before my nose. It spletched itself into a giant eye.

“We meet again,” it told me.

“No, I’m sorry… Who are you?”

“It is I, the rightful heir of—”

“Yes, I can see you’re an eye, but you’ve no hair to speak of. Or arms. Or legs, for that matter. In fact, why don’t I just drop dead from fright now and save us both the bother?”

“Will you let me finish? I am Hexon, the Lord of Time and Ruler of Wasted Hell. We meet again.”

“We do?”


Pause for thought. I did not remember studying for my A levels in the same room as a Ruler of Wasted Hell. Nor did I recollect meeting one at a party, bonking one or even accepting an Amazon delivery from one.

“You’ve lost me,” I said.

A vague body attached itself to the bottom of the eye, though sadly with no other facial features. It held my gaze very steadily.

“Are you not Morton Windlas Binnock, the Third Erlking of Thodroe Wood?”

I turned around and checked the label on the waistband of my trousers.


“But you must be. I calculosed the co-ordinates to the nearest dinimal, I confudged the century to within the closest day… this is unfortunate. Do you know the Third Erlking of Thodroe? Are you meeting him at this junction, perhaps?”

“No,” I said, feeling my patience skiffle away.

“Oh. Well, what are you doing?”



“Yes!” I bulleted. “Can’t an innocent stander-by be doing nothing on a Thursday afternoon?”

“No,” said the Ruler of Wasted Hell. I was really starting to dislike the man. Eye. Whatever.

“If yo must know, I was walking.”

“May I join you?”


“Why not?”

“I’m busy.”

“You said you were doing nothing!”

“Yes, but I’m busy.”

“Doing what?”


“I demand that you bring me to the Third Erlking of Thodroe. Now.”

“Or what?”

“Or I will subject you to cruel and inhumane torture.”

“What, like, making me read my gas bills?”


“Fixing my boiler?”

“I’m not stupid. You know where the Erlking is. You’re a ploy sent by him to skonk me from my task. March. Now.”

“Actually, it’s August.”

“Move it!”

We moved. Though the corner of Eville Avenue and Pointless Walk is a skanky, rusty cesspit —er, I mean, a scenic, rustic spot—somebody must have mistaken it for acne and burst it. Everything there was burst. Windows, garbage sacks, doors. Nobody lived there any more, yet someone had been polishing the bins. Bit late now that the people had bolturated.

I led Mr. Eye down the street, across the pedestrian crossing, past the cinema and the corner shop.

“This is very strange ground we’re treading on. What’s it made of?” the Ruler of Wasted Hell asked.


“Not pelicans?”

“No, we ran out of pelicans.”


“Because we ran out of grit.”


“Because the town froze like a geriatric polar bear back in 2019. I don’t know why. Maybe it just felt like it.”

I led him down a flagstone path flanked on both sides by ridiculous garden ornaments. We stopped on a hedgehoggish doormat reading “When life gives you half a box of Turkish Delight, don’t forget to put it in the fridge next to the lemons.” It was a very wide doormat. In front of it was a door. It being the custom, I knocked on it.

Mrs. Ringwyrm—that was her name—opened the door, cat in one hand, watering-can in the other. How did she pull on the door-handle? Perhaps the cat did it for her. Her hair was as white as Dover chalk. Her smile was limitless. Her jamjar head looked very sweet right then.

Hexon, Lord of Time and Ruler of Wasted Hell, fixed a burning iris on me (the only one he had) and spoke in low, ombly tones.

“I ask you to take me to Morton, the Third Erlking of Thodroe and Grand High King of All Space, and you show me… this?”

I was really starting to lose my findle with the guy. “Listen, Pus-Pupil,” I said, while he spluttered and became bloodshot, “this woman is Morton Windlas because you asked me to take you to him. So treat her with respect.”

“But Morton is not a human. Neither is he a woman!”

“Good morning,” Mrs. Ringwyrm said. Neither of us had the heart to correct her. She invited us in, told us she wouldn’t be a moment and finished watering the cat.

“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” it said.

“Now then,” Arabella Ringwyrm said, and plogged the cat up on a washing-line which stretched across her lounge. She hung it by the scrule of its neck next to a long line of other cats. “What is the problem?”

“Are you Morton Windlas?” Hexon checked.

“No… but I can be who you like, for a small fee.” She winked.

“Madam,” Hexon said. “What are you suggesting?”

“I’m an amateur actor-performer,” was the answer. “What did you think I was suggesting?”

Hexon’s pupil had dilated even further than I had thought normal, and a faint pink tinge crept around its edges. “I must apologise.”

“Listen to me, my good fellow,” the cat said, dripping and swonging. “Never, ever apologise. Life’s not long enough for apologies.”

“It is when you’re immortal.”

“Oh? Sorry.”

“Doo be doo.” Mrs. Ringwyrm left the room and came back with a machete. Seating herself on the antique sofa, she removed her fellufous slipper and began to cut her toenails. Boomerangs of dead kerratin flew from her blurring hands, squadrons of them, and buried themselves in the furniture.

Hexon was weeping. “Madam. You have seven toes on your left foot.” A small piece of nail dislodged from his cornea and twinkled down to the ground.

“Seven toes on each.”

“Just what I was afraid of.”

When she had done the other pedalo-sized foot, the antique rose from the antique sofa and adjusted her glasses.

“What business do you have with Morton Windlas of Thodroe?”

“You know him?” I said, but she ignored me.

“Not much.” Hexon shuffled about. “Just a fight to the death, really.”

She showed us around the house. In the kitchen was a vat bibbling with something of a hue between yellow and purple. Around the sink sprawled an intelligent fungoid life-form. Crystals grew from the fractured remains of the cupboards, and once they touched the floor they segued into a forest of tall, crazed glass structures, green and blue and pink, tubular, swollen in places, most higher than our heads. Nothing you wouldn’t struggle to drink out of.

“Some of that was once my wedding glasses,” Mrs. Ringwyrm said, while Hexon gazed at it all and softly mumbicked:

“The catacombs of Kendrigor…”

I had no idea what was going on. As we climbed the tortuous staircase which both zigzagged and spiralled around, Mrs. Ringwyrm said, “This is the waiting area.”

“Sorry,” I said. “But your stairs are a waiting area?”

“Not the stairs, the whole house, silly.”

“For who? Waiting for what?”

“It depends.”

The landing was a hillock of skin, still warm and in need of a wash. As we trod the pores I detected a faint heartbeat, and a pair of lips up ahead opened. I supposed they were lips. The teeth were like standing stones in a prehistoric monument.

“All right?” the landing-mouth said. “What’ll it be?”

“The usual, Wroth.”


I struggled to keep my footing during this exchange. The mouth closed, the skin beneath us sludperated and we found ourselves walking into an intrepid nostril. If you’ve never seen an intrepid nostril before, believe me, this was one.

“And this is the bathroom…”

The bathroom was not a sinus, but an en suite. Burning orbs drifted. Something unearthly sang to itself behind the shower curtain. The cold tap dripped blood. I was expecting some kind of explanation, but received none.

“Oh,” the Ruler of Wasted Hell breathed. “The Singing Soul-Curtain of Morganis.”

“One moment,” Arabella said. “I have to take this call.”

She snapped and pinged as she grew an extra inch in stature. Her hair darkened. The hair on her arms grew thicker and blacker, and she glared down at me.

“Don’t be late home,” she grunneled. “Dinner’s in the oven.”

“Uncle Max?” I gasped, and then the changes reversed themselves.

“Sorry about that,” Mrs. Ringwyrm said, a tad out of breath. She showed us the spare room, which was stacked full of garbage (whose isn’t?) cloths and polish, and…

“You’re the secret bin-polisher?” I said. “Why?”

“Ah,” Hexon sighed. “Just like Morton.”

“Excuse me?” I said. “Hello?”

“By the way, your Uncle Maximal asked me to reverse the charges,” Mrs. Ringwyrm told me, though her gaze was reflected in Hexon’s eye. She waved a hand nebblily. “I hope that’s all right?”

“Fine.” I was impatient. “What’s going on? How did you do that? Do you two know each other?”

“It’s like this.” The soggy cat squinked up the stairs to see me out. A sliver of toenail protruded from its ribcage. By rights, the animal should have been dead. “The house is a waiting area, a point of contact between the dimensions, my dear. Our Arabella is the host, the clairvoyant, the… loudspeaker, if you will.”

“I see,” I said. “That makes sense, seeing as we lost Uncle Max down the back of the sofa when I was ten. Yes. So…?”

“For now, she will be Morton Windlas Binnock, Third Erlking of Thodroe Wood, until she grows tired of the present company.” The cat looked at me coolly out of crossed eyes.

“Then what?”

“Then she will feed him to the fungus. Of course.”

“Of course.”

“We call him Bill.”

“Bill the Fungus. Of course. Speaking of bills, I’m meant to pay the charges for Uncle Max’s call, aren’t I?”

“Yes you do. Don’t worry, it’s all arranged.”

The moggy opened the door and melted. The Midnight Collector was on the other side.


Han Adcock is a writer of short stories, short long stories, and poetry, ranging from the humorous to the bizarre. He lurks in a strange corner of Lincolnshire, England, where it always rains. You can find him at www.facebook.com/wyrdstories, or on Twitter as @Erringrey, or on WordPress at inspirationandlaughs.wordpress.com when he isn’t knee-deep in a puddle with a duck on his head. Sadly, the duck has no blog.

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