Thursday, October 2, 2008

An Old Friend

I stared at him, half in disbelief. “You trapped an angel?”

Tim shrugged and pulled out a small tin. “What else could I do?” he said, opening it to reveal old, stinking tobacco and a packet of cigarette papers. “I can’t kill an angel.”

I nodded. “Yes, there are strict penalties for that.”

“Plus I haven’t got the tools to do it.” Tim began rolling a cigarette. “You try chopping off an angel’s head with a garibaldi.” He licked the paper, held the tube between his lips and lit it. It smelled like desiccated nub-ends he’d found on the street.

“It’s made of desiccated nub-ends I’ve found on the street,” he explained. You don’t get many tobacconists setting up stalls in a church – even if it is unconsecrated – and even if I could leave the confines of the church, technically I’m too young to smoke.”

“I can see how that might be a problem,” I said, “If you had lungs.”

“You can’t have everything.”

I walked across to the window. “How did you manage to confine an angel?” I said. “I’ve never been able to do that.”

“It’s what gargoyles are for,” said Tim. “We were made to know the True Names of everything. I commanded him by his true name.”

“And then what?”

“Confined him in a bottle like they did in the olden days.” Tim looked out of the window and pointed out the grave. “He’s in that one. It was a bit of luck, really, because there weren’t any bones in the grave to begin with.”

“They were made like that in 1859,” I said absently. “Why was it lucky that there were no bones?”

“Because he could have used them to fashion himself a body,” said Tim. “That would have been a world of trouble.”

This was an awful lot to take in. “What is his True Name?” I asked.

Tin took a long drag on his cigarette and threw it to the cold street eighty feet below. “Ebul,” he said. “Does it matter?”

Translator's note: This places the tale after 'Dead Line' where Jasfoup meets 'his old friend Ebul'


aims said...

'Nub ends' - a term I've just recently come across because of Terry Pratchett. Is it a British term then?

And speaking of which - are you still not smoking?

Leatherdykeuk said...

A British Army term dating back to at least 1940. Cpl 'Nobby' Nobbs always has one, I recall.

Yes, I'm still a non-smoker :)

aims said...