The left side of Batchicken’s head was that of a bat, the right that of a barnyard rooster. It had four eyes, the upper pair a chicken’s, the lower a bat’s. Its right mouth was a beak, its left a twitching whiskered snout. Its noses, ears, and legs, were each divided between its component creatures.
It had four wings, the upper set feathered, the lower leathery. Jenny blinked, confused. She stopped trying to decipher the enigma that was Batchicken.
“I see the Reaper got you again,” Batchicken said unsympathetically. “I’ve told you more than once - escaping from Venice is impossible.”
“I’ve been here before?” Jenny was confused.
“Five hundred and twenty-six times. Why don’t you simply remain DEAD--be an inquisitor? Hell knows you’ve the natural aptitude for it.” It guffawed. “We’re always short staffed in Venice - you can have your choice of canal.”
* * *
Jenny glared at Batchicken’s miscegenation of parts. She remembered.
The copyrighter-of-the-year dinner party - the guest of honor had been a cockroach. A big glossy insect wearing a pleated tie and missing its uppermost left leg. It had been seated next to Jenny, on her left. In between bites of chocolate cake and swigs of childbloodwine, they’d made drunken conversation.
“Its economics madam . . .”
“Most definitely,” Jenny giggled drunkenly, unsure what it was talking about.
The door, a red rose, parted like it was blooming on a spring morning and Hatter Sane© walked in with Pink Rabbit© on his arm. Hatter Sane© was actually insane, but he was unable to call himself ‘Insane’ or ‘Mad’ Hatter for obvious copyright reasons. This irked him no end.
Pink Rabbit© had had the same copyright problem and so had dyed himself pink to try and avoid litigation. He’d then been told by everyone that he looked female, and so had decided to play-act a female until the dye bleached out again.
Jenny thought he looked disarmingly cute mincing along beside Hatter Sane©.
The pair walked up to and behind Jenny. She made her point of pointedly ignoring them.
“It’s economics of course,” the cockroach guest-of-honor opined drunkenly beside her.
“Yessssss-arghhHH!” Jenny felt the sudden stab of pain through the left side of her chest, and realized she been shot. She looked back, saw Hatter Sane© smiling down at her. While she gaped in incomprehension, he lifted his razor-gun and kissed its smoking barrel. Then he bent and whispered in Jenny’s ear.
“Malice© sends her regards. She says this is payback.”
Her heart sliced clean in two, Jenny Loveless took the only way out: she died.
* * *
“I remember everything now. I’m going to find and kill that bitch!” Jenny paced restively around Batchicken, which every now and then was forced to flap its indeterminately positioned wings to move its double-body out of her way.
“You said that the last five hundred and twenty-six times, can’t you simply accept the fact that you’re DEAD?”
“Okay the ALIVE door’s over there . . . weapons too . . .”
* * *
It went VERY badly: Malice© and the Crimson Queen© were expecting her. A gang of copyrighters ambushed her the moment she stepped through the door. She returned their fire, took pleasure in seeing their bodies explode into blood geysers, fled.
Jenny ran till she reached the quay, stopping there only because it seemed familiar. She thought fast; she needed a hideout, somewhere to scheme how to attack the copyrighters. Then she saw the Grimmer Reaper©.
“You again?” the walking shroud sighed at her, its voice the screams of a million ghosts. “Won’t you ever learn to stay DEAD?”
“Malice© done me wrong, I want to repay her.”
“You blew up Fake-Wonderland© - now we copyrighters have nowhere to live. Were you expecting us to thank you?”
“It was an accident.”
It was speaking so calmly, Jenny almost missed the motion of its foot as it kicked the scythe at her.
She caught sight of the whirling blade and its trajectory at the last reaction-possible moment . . .
Duck Back! OOOOPS! Shiiiiiitttt!!!
* * *The river’s surface waited patiently for Jenny’s body to reach it, waited for the right moment to form its water spears and impale her falling form.
In its liquid depths, her rising reflection grinned, anticipating their collision.
The mustached gondolier also waited, wondering how long it would take Jenny Loveless to accept the simple fact that no one ever escaped from Venice.
Copyright: © 2010 Wol-vriey
Wol-vriey is Nigerian, and quite tall. He believes that there actually are things that go bump in the night.