Only 5 more stories left! Hot diggety dog!
This week’s suggestion comes from Edward Murphy, who you may recall from earlier in the year of getting stuck up a mountain fame.
His idea is: ‘The entirety of modern civilisation was a fever dream in the mind of an 11th century minor noble. They wake up.’
2014 – A Year In Stories
“Selfie! YOLO! Glamping!”
Lord de Bonneville sat up in bed, cold sweat clinging to his body, drenching the sheets.
“What is it, my Lord?” his wife asked, waking up at his outburst. “Hast thou had the dream again?”
“Forsooth, it is the third time this week alone.”
“What didst thou see on this occasion.” Sitting up in bed, Lady de Bonneville caressed her husbands chest soothingly.
“Men riding metal horses at high speed. Oxless carriages roaming the streets. Buildings twenty times the size of the castle, made entirely from glass.”
“Fortifications of sorts?”
“It is hard to say. A glass tower would be surely indefensible.”
“It matters not, my love. Sleep now, and we shall consult the herbalist on the morrow.”
Lord de Bonneville spent the rest of the night tossing and turning uneasily. The dreams he was having were so lucid. They felt so real that he could not dismiss them.
He saw huge settlements, built from glass, metal and a strange sort of stone he had never encountered before. Wars fought on a scale that even his mighty King could not consider possible, and with such weapons that rendered the swords and armour of the day useless. People walked around in strange clothing, the likes of which he had never seen.
There was more. So much more. The dreams had been coming several times a week for weeks now. It was sweet of Lady de Bonneville to be so kind, but the herbalist had tried her remedies already, and they had failed to make a difference.
He wondered what the dreams meant. Were they prophecy? De Bonneville knew just how the King felt about prophecy. If word got out to his Lord that he had been having visions of the future he would undoubtedly be executed for witchcraft and heresy, and probably his family too for good measure.
There was nothing he could do but to keep it hidden from everyone. It was a risk telling the herbalist, but his wife had insisted that they at least try some of her remedies. Even his own children could not know about his affliction, lest word reach the King, and he send an army to bear down on the city walls.
Sure enough the herbalist’s balm had no effect. The very next night Lord de Bonneville experienced his most vivid vision yet. He saw a family gathering around a strange box that projected images of people and places on to glass for their amusement.
Rapt, he had watched in awe as the family enjoyed a 30 minute long performance about a talking dog. Lord de Bonneville did not understand the appeal, but the family had seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience. He was sure that entertainment in a box would never trump the thrill of a live performance.
Over the weeks that came the dreams intensified, and every prophecy was imbued with some new wonderful custom or contraption that was compl tell unknown to him.
The strain of keeping the secret was starting to show. The Lord barely slept 2 or 3 hours a night before his fever dream woke him, and he was constantly tired. He would fall asleep in war council meetings, and his attention to detail had dropped significantly. Little mistakes were starting to creep in and it wouldn’t be long before the King started to notice.
Eventually it became too much. After a few particularly bad nights, when he had barely slept a wink in nearly a week except to dream of the prophecies, Lord de Bonneville could finally take no more.
On the fifth morning of the week he rose, feeling fresher than ever. Choosing his robes of state to wear he strode to the castle courtyard, and ordered his herald to summon the peasant folk to listen to him speak.
When a sizeable group of the castle’s inhabitants had gathered, Lord de Bonneville cleared his throat to speak.
“Imagine,” he began. “Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us…only sky.”
The herald glanced at one of the guards who had accompanied the Lord.
“Fetch Lady de Bonneville,” he said. “My Lord speaketh in tongues!”
“My lady, come quick!” the guard said, bursting in to the drawing room, where Lady de Bonneville was teaching her son numeracy.
“What is it, Perkyns?” she asked, startled by the intrusion.
“It is your husband, my Lady. He spouts heresy to the townsfolk!”
“What do you mean heresy?” Lady de Bonneville became flustered, dreading the possibility that the secret might be about to come out. “My husband is the most pious, God fearing man I’ve ever met.”
“I swear to you, he instructed the peasants to imagine that there was no heaven. He speaks in riddles. Methink him possessed by the devil!”
“How dare you!” Lady de Bonneville roared, rising from her stool. “Aedelwise,” she said to her son. “Go and play with the servant boys awhile.”
The little boy scuttled off, ducking between the guard’s legs. The soldier’s eyes never once left his Lady’s face, however, which by this point had turned beetroot red.
“How dare you accuse your betters of such nonsense. I’ll have you hanged for this.”
“Ma’am I implore you to trust me. Come and see for yourself. He doth rant and rave like a lunatic.”
“Very well,” Lady de Bonneville replied, calming down a bit. “But if you speak falsehoods I shall have your head.”
“Ah, my Lady,” Lord de Bonneville said as his wife approached. “Did you know that I am the walrus. Coo coo ca choo.”
“Husband dear, what hath gotten in to thee?” Lady de Bonneville replied, with a poorly faked smile on her face. In addition she hissed more quietly, “We discussed thine not acting up in public, dear. If the King gets wind…”
“Oh but dearest the King is dead. He died on the toilet eating a cheeseburger.”
Lady de Bonneville could only stare at her husband in awe. It had all been too much these last few weeks and he had finally snapped. Her dear husband. The King, who was very much alive and to her knowledge had not perished eating on the privy, would hear about this and the Lord would be sent to the asylum at best, or at worst executed.
“Yes dear,” she replied eventually. “So I believe.” She led her husband off to their private chambers, that at least he would be out of the public eye.
Sure enough it was only a matter of days before the King found out about the outburst. Lord de Bonneville was doing better, but had been lying in bed proselytising at length about the virtues of something called a Ferrari versus something called a Lamborghini, and why someone named Kanye from the West was the most important artist of this or any other age.
Before he could make enough of a recovery to be fully lucid, however, the King’s men had come to cart him off. Thanks to her begging and pleading that her husbands life be spared, they agreed that he would be admitted to the King’s asylum in the capital.
Lord de Bonneville sat in his cell, singing a song that none of the guards or other inmates at the asylum knew.
“Heyyyyyyyy,” it went, “hey baby. Ooh. Ah. I wanna knoooow – will you be my girl.”
“Feeding time,” the gaoler said, pushing a tray of slop under the door.
Lord de Bonneville was utterly ravenous, and devoured it immediately, all the while singing, “Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut,” to himself.
The ‘food’ came with two blunt instruments that loosely resembled a knife and fork, but they were so useless that using the, would have made eating more difficult.
Despite this, Lord de Bonneville pocketed the knife. The gaoler didn’t notice when the tray was removed, and shortly after the imprisoned Lord got to work, slowly, methodically but surely carving in to the wall of his cell.
“Here,” the archaeologist said, standing up in his trench. “Dave come have a look at this would you?”
“What is it, Terry? Found something big?”
“You could say that mate,” Terry replied. “I’ve found the lyrics to ‘Imagine’.”
“The John Lennon song? Where? Just like on a bit of paper.”
“No you berk, not on a bit of paper,” Terry said, folding his arms. “I’m hardly going to ask one of the world’s foremost medieval inscription specialists to come and have a look at some open mic night print out of a John Lennon song am I? It’s inscribed here, on a bloody wall.”
“You’re pulling my leg,” Dave replied sceptically. “This is to get me back for that time I baked a Roman skull in to your birthday cake isn’t it?”
“I am not pulling your leg. Just come and look.”
Abandoning his own trench, Dave went and joined his colleague to look at the wall.
“Well bugger me with a fish fork,” he said, brushing some dirt away from the wall with his fingers. “It’s ‘Imagine’ down to the letter. But it’s not signed John Lennon. It’s signed Lord Francis de Bonneville, 1096.”
“So Lennon is a fraud then?”
“I always knew McCartney was the one doing all the work.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time an artist nicked their lyrics. I heard Aethelred the Unready wrote Bohemian Rhapsody…”