Deep within the bowels of the Earth, something stirred. Something ancient. Something smelly. Something that, until that very moment, had not even been aware of its own consciousness. What had awakened it? What had poked it, like a dormant Facebook profile, into being? What had imbued it with the urge to live, to exert its terrible (and no doubt terribly messy) destiny upon the world of light, of sound, of iPhones and Adidas? What indeed. What indeed...
Larry tiddled his wink into the bright orange plastic pot in the middle of the table.
“I win!” he declared.
“Indeed,” said Mick. “But in the game of tiddlywinks, we are all winners.”
“Indeed,” said Larry.
They both sat there for a moment and contemplated what had just happened. Until they realised it was just tiddlywinks.
Or was it...?
Sometimes tiddlywinks is just tiddlywinks. Sometimes it is not. Tiddlywinks, that is. But what made this game of tiddlywinks different from the thousands of others Larry and Mick had played? There are times when things happen that are imperceptible to human senses. Subtle things. I mean really subtle. Things that make the breeze from a butterfly’s wing feel like a hurricane. A butterfly’s wing. Or a tiddle being winked into a bright orange plastic pot.
“Did you feel that?” said Larry.
“Feel what?” said Mick.
“Oh probably nothing,” said Larry.
“Oh,” said Mick.
“It’s just what?”
But it wasn’t nothing. It was something. But it might as well have been nothing - at least to the senses of the average human. But some humans were not average. Some humans could sense, even if they were not aware they were sensing... the opening of an eye. Some humans, in the shallows of their consciousness, were oblivious to this - but deep in the primal centre of their soul, they felt their reality tilt. Barely perceptible. Mostly ignored. But for a handful of humans, it had planted a seed. A prescient seed of fear, desolation and despair. And things.
“Shall we go out?”
“And do what?”
“I dunno. See if there are any end-of-the-day bargains in Spar?”
“But it’s not the end of the day.”
Larry checked his pocket watch.
“Do such things exist?”
“Not normally. But things seem different today. Somehow.”
“I know what you mean. It’s like...”
“Something stirred deep within the bowels or the Earth?”
“You’ve been reading too much H.P. Lovecraft.”
“Actually I’ve never...”
The ground rumbled.
“Sorry,” said Mick.
“I thought it was me,” said Larry.
“Maybe it was both of us.”
The rumbling stopped.
“More tiddlywinks?” said Mick.
“Why the heck not?” said Larry.
It was fully awake now. And it was hungry. As you would be if you had been asleep for ten thousand years. It’s primal belly rumbled. And this rumbling caused tsunamis, earthquakes, mass headaches and phone signals to drop to one bar. It was a hunger like no other. It was a hunger that could not be sated by the biggest meal you could possibly imagine. Neither by the Unlimited Lunch Buffet at Pizza Hut nor the 14 Piece Party Bucket at KFC. It was a hunger that was endless, unbound and without dietary restrictions. And woe-betide any who found themselves in the path of this infernal hungry tum.
When the twelfth winning tiddle was winked, with a flourish at once unbecoming and yet also highly fitting, into the bright orange plastic pot (centrally placed), by the fellow known as Larry Lampshade, bringing the total score of games to 7-5 in favour of said chap, hands were shook and sportsmanlike nods were proffered, followed by a brief mutual contemplation of said outcome, upon the conclusion of which, Monsieurs Lampshade and Mastodon (Larry and Mick) did rise in unison from their seats and take it upon themselves, after donning appropriate attire, to exit their shared abode.
“We left the tiddlywinks on the table,” said Larry.
“Ah yes,” said Mick.
- which may have seemed, to anyone other than those uttering said exchange, to have been one of little consequence. To Larry and Mick, however, it was, let us say, significant (in light of the fact that they always tidied up their games of tiddlywinks, especially prior to exiting their abode, due to a mutual but unspoken belief that a tidy house is a tidy mind and that you never knew when your long lost cousin Ned (from the hills) might come a-visiting - Ned being a long lost cousin, coincidentally, of both Larry and Mick, who had an unexplainable and yet utterly debilitating (potentially) phobia of small plastic round things).
Larry and Mick did not, however, return to tidy up their tiddlywinks. Oh no, sirree. For they found themselves, upon exiting their abode, to be infused most bodily with a feeling not unlike that of a character in a movie or something who finds themselves infused (most bodily) with a feeling of needing to go somewhere or do something with little regard for anything else. Like tidying up a game of tiddlywinks.
Halfway to Sainsbury’s (not Spar), the ground rumbled. As before.
“That wasn’t me,” said Larry.
“Nor me,” said Mick.
“But look…” said Larry and Mick in unison, whilst pointing most pointedly at the thing they were looking at.
“Oh crumbs,” said Larry.
And, “Oh crikey,” said Mick.
For the thing they were pointing (and looking) at was the most terrible thing they had ever seen.
It had tentacles and eyes and teeth and scales and hairy bits and slimy bits and bits that couldn’t be labelled or defined by human language. It was one ugly mofo and no mistake. And big. And it sat there in the middle of the Sainsbury’s car park. Although ‘sat’ wasn’t really the right word. Slouched? No, not that. Perched? Certainly not that.
“Smurged!” said Larry.
“What?” said Mick.
“It smurged in the middle of the Sainsbury’s car park. I’m working out how to write this up for my blog.”
“But you don’t have a blog.”
“This,” said Larry, indicating the smurging beastie, “is a good reason to start one.”
“Smurge,” said Ned, Larry and Mick’s long lost cousin from the hills, who just happened to be paying a visit on that day, “is not a word.”
“Lewis Carrol invented words,” said Larry, “and so shall I.”
The beastie (which may or may not have been smurging) swelled. It rose, on what may or may not have been haunches, and out through numerous as yet indiscernible orifices emerged what can only be described as a tremendous and, it was quickly discovered, indescribably noxious fart.
Until this point, from the appearance through a crack in the car park of a tiny blob of slime, through its emergence and expansion into what it was now, the primary response of the surrounding humans had been to mutter and murmur and tweet and take selfies. It was the assailing of numerous nostrils, however, that seemed to instigate a collective awakening and expressions of appropriate emotional response.
Screams. Faints. Freezing in terror. And stumbling over each other to get away from this formless horror.
Larry and Mick, however (and indeed Ned), remained standing and calmly contemplated their next move.
“Why aren’t you afraid?” said Larry.
“I dunno,” said Mick. “I think it has something to do with tiddlywinks.”
“Odd,” said Larry; “for that is what I was thinking.”
“Odd,” said Mick; “for that is what I thought you would be thinking.”
“Odd...” said Larry.
“Enough odds,” said Ned. “What shall we do?”
Larry and Mick looked at each other, looked at the beastie, then looked at the winks (or whatever is the proper name for the small plastic counters you use in tiddlywinks) they both held between thumb and forefinger of their left hands.
“Tiddlywinks?” said Larry.
“Why the heck not?” said Mick.
It saw. Although not how a human, or indeed any of God’s creatures, would see. For it was not a creature of God. Although technically, if you believe in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution rather than the simpler but less feasible Biblical Story of Creation, no creatures of Earth are God’s creatures. Although you could argue that God pressed the button that started the whole Evolution palaver. But I digress...
It saw. It saw, with terrible colours and unworldly shapes, and not just by the light that bounced off the objects of its seeing onto its terrible eyes. It saw with an unseen seeing organ, that the terrible eyes were but a visible manifestation of. With the unseen seeing organ, it saw not just the physical shape of a man (or a woman or a child or a dog or the inexplicable gecko perched on the bonce of a tall bearded fellow)... but also what folk of an esoteric persuasion might call his ‘aura’ - which encapsulated his thoughts, his feelings, his hope and dreams, and, not least of all to the be-tentacled beast, his nutritional value. For, as has been mentioned, the beast was hungry. Ravenous, in fact. Buggery starving, as some might say. And as of a castaway on a deserted beach on an island far away from its place of origin, the beast was not of a mind to be discerning as to the particular nature of its sustenance. It would eat, as they say, a scabby horse. But as there were no scabby horses present (and let’s face it, when ever are there?), the scattering and screaming and tweeting and selfie-taking humans (and the gecko) looked most appetising. Most appetising indeed.
The feast began. Stupidly, however (because humans could be pretty stupid), there were many who’s perceived priority was not to get the heck out of there, but rather to record the event, for the purpose of uploading to their social media platform of choice. Which was good, in a sense, for it meant that the world and his wife became almost instantly aware of what was occurring in the car park of the Sainsbury’s in Worcester, England. Not so good, however, in that the uploaders became the tasty appetiser of the Daughter of Cthulhu (for ‘twas She) - and also, since a goodly proportion of those who viewed this horrid occurrence, on YouTube or whatever, believed it to be a genuine happening and not just a hoaxy attempt to get more clicks, there was the small matter of a GLOBAL PANIC.
Larry and Mick, however, did not panic.
Larry and Mick had been drawn here.
Larry and Mick’s feet remained firmly planted to the spot in which they had found themselves upon the beast’s emergence, as they rubbed their winks (so to speak) between thumb and forefinger, in preparation for their attack upon the beast.
The beast rose, swelled, farted, spat out some bones and other unappetising remnants of sapient consumption (hair slides, Fitbits, retainers and suchlike), then regarded the mostly immobile and seemingly unconcerned pair of humans before it. And then the beast... did nothing.
The intermingled and overlapping auras of the humans expressed a profusion of emotions. Fear, amazement, horror, disgust, despair and a deadly curiosity, to name but a few. All had nutritional value to the beast - though while the likes of amazement, disgust and curiosity provided raw sustenance, fear, horror and despair added spice to the mix. There were two morsels, however, that were like two grains of plain rice.
Two men, just standing there, calm as you like, fingering their winks (so to speak).
The beast did not care for them. But thus far, in the throes of its rapacious mastication, their presence had barely registered in its gluttonous awareness.
Larry tiddled a wink.
As did Mick.
Both winks landed on the Daughter of Cthulhu.
As with the burning of magnesium, there was a bright white flash of light.
A small pile of grey dust remained.
“Well that’s that,” said Larry.
“That is, as you say,” said Mick, “that.”
And so it was.
Ten thousand years. All that waiting. Millennia of hunger building to an apocalyptic crescendo. Building... then collapsing... to this. “Bugger,” thought the remnants of consciousness of the Daughter of Cthulhu, that were rapidly dissipating from the small pile of grey dust, in the infernal and ancient language of the Old Ones.
No one would ever know why it was the tiddlywinks that did for Her. No one, except... no, not even Larry and Mick. For although they were Instruments, they were often unwitting and unwilling ones, of Fate.
They bimbled (in a manner ironically fitting of the strange and yet come-to-be-expected-able circumstances they found themselves in) over to the small pile of grey dust. They stood for a moment and gazed thereupon... and an insignificant (and yet not) breeze blew the remnants of the Ancient One hither and yon.
“Hither,” said Larry, pointing to what had been uncovered.
“And yon,” said Mick, pointing yon.
For lying, slightly dusty, upon the asphalt of the parking space of the Car Park of Sainsbury’s, were two small objects. Plastic, they were. And round. One green and one yellow.
“Tiddlywinks?” said Larry.
“Yes, they are,” said Mick.
“No, I meant...”
“I know what you meant.”
Larry and Mick took up the objects and went home (stopping on the way at Spar, for beginning-of-the-day bargains (of which there were a plenitude, this being a stranger day than most)).
Larry and Mick dusted off the objects and placed them on the kitchen table.
Larry and Mick made tea and opened a packet of biscuits (the half price packet of Bourbons they had bought from Spar).
Larry and Mick played tiddlywinks.
“May I join you?” said Ned (from the hills) - who had, somewhat mysteriously, arrived at Larry and Mick’s abode and entered therein before them.
“But what of your unexplainable and yet utterly debilitating (potentially) phobia of small plastic round things?” said Mick.
“For reasons I am unable to comprehend,” said Ned, “it is no more.”
“A strange day indeed,” said Larry.
“Then why the heck not?” said Mick (in respond to Ned’s earlier request).
And so, for the first time ever, Larry and Mick and Ned played tiddlywinks.
Whoosh, went the dust.
Screech, went the brakes of the car that parked in the space where it had been.
Nothing more of significance happened that day.
But the following day...?
< fin...? >