More Extraordinary Big Tales

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Welcome to Anywhere. A land where Magick still exists andFairies and Trolls can bless or curse you in a heartbeat, a land where TheBlind Old Weaver of Fate is randomly and carelessly spinning together the storyof your life and God sleeps whilst the Devil plays. Welcome to Anywhere – aworld very different from, yet painfully similar to, your own.

20 curiously intriguing tales:

A Banker kills the last Unicorn and a Fairy curses him for his cruelty. Is he doomed?

A lonely dog moves Death to tears.

A selfish, self-absorbed woman feels shamed by her gay son and has him committed to The Asylum for the Strange and the Different – will he survive in such a desperate place?

God and The Devil hold an emergency meeting – what should they do about someone who’s too wicked even for Hell?

A shoemaker decides he will make only size seven, left foot shoes. Has he gone mad or does he know something no-one else does?

Two brothers, one good and one wicked, discover that the road to Heaven passes through the foothills of Hell. Who will survive the journey?

What will The Greedy One Percent do when the Good Man exposes them as The Devil’s Children – corrupt, abusive, criminal and psychopathic?

Who is the The Old Man In The Mountain and why has he spent an eternity crafting the most beautiful shoes ever seen?

A Successful Young Woman’s life spirals out of control when a Fairy gives her the gift (or is it a curse?) of empathy.

How does a man who loves and understands numbers more than he does people find true companionship?

Can a magic dog really save your life?

Plus 10 more curiously fantastical tales.

“Brilliant comic technique, and a glorious sense of moral outrage at the current mess in which our country seems mired, combine here to make a unique reading experience. Often laugh-out-loud funny, the real-life characters behind these innocuous fairy tales and fables hit you by surprise, a series of sharp rocks hidden in those snowballs. Amazingly, with all the faux-naievete and children’s book elements gleefully displayed here,the writing never becomes twee or condescending. I don’t know where this writer’s been all his life, but I intend to catch up with him, and keep an eyeon where he’s headed next…Bravo, Mr. Hennerly! Stay angry, and keep your books coming!” US REVIEWS

‘A Lunatic and a Fool!’

‘Strange times are these in which we live when old and young are taught falsehoods…and the person that dares to tell the truth is called at once a lunatic and a fool’-Aristotle

Once upon a time in the land of Anywhere, in a world long since forgotten, in the fine and prosperous city of Anyplace there was a shop.A shoe shop to be precise. The shop was successful and highly regarded, run by a much respected old Shoemaker who lived above the premises and who made all the shoes himself, working from a cramped little studio at the back of the building.

The Shoemaker’s creations were very popular with the residents of Anyplace. His men’s shoes were considered hard wearing and durable, yet stylish. His shoes for ladies were seen as the height of wit and whimsy and the very pinnacle of fashion. Over the years he had built up a considerable clientele and become very comfortably off.

 Now, one bright,sunny day, The Shoemaker was taking a break from shoe selling and shoe making and was enjoying a stroll through the pleasant surrounds of Anyplace’s finest public space, The Park Of A Thousand Joyous Souls. As he walked he contemplated the fine views afforded by the park, admired the beautiful statue of the famous Ragged Man (who’s song had shaken a Kingdom) and felt, generally, delighted to be alive. But his Happy Reverie was to be rudely interrupted. Walking past an area of the park thick with bushes and long grass, he thought he heard someone crying. Listen. There it is again. Over there!

Being a Kind And Considerate Soul, The Shoemaker decided that he must investigate the Source Of This Sadness. Pushing himself into the long grass and thick bushes he battled his way towards who, or what, was making such a plaintive noise. And…much to his surprise came across a Faerie. Sitting in a tree. Crying. Tears rolling down her pretty face, each one turning into a tiny diamond as it did so (as Faerie tears do), and then dropping to the ground; a sharp, hard piece of glittering sorrow.

“Why, Faerie, what’s all this then, why the tears?” said The Shoemaker, peering upwards at the tree branch upon which the Faerie was sitting.

“A dog…a dog…a dog ate my shoes! I took them of just for a moment to bathe my feet in a stream, looked back and there was a dog…with my shoes in his mouth…then he swallowed them and ran off! Oh…I loved those shoes!”

“Oh, poor you, that is a sad story. But, Faerie, it’s your lucky day, for I am a shoemaker, one of some renown even though I say so myself. Come with me and I shall make you a beautiful new pair of shoes that you shall come to love even more than those you’ve just lost!”

 “Really?” enquired the Faerie, hopefully.

“Really!” responded The Shoemaker, affirmatively.

And off they went, man and Faerie. Before they left on their Quest the Faerie asked The Shoemaker (aware of their value in the Human World)if he’d like to collect her diamond tears that were lying, sparkling, in the grass. The Shoemaker replied, thank you, but no…he was already very blessed in life and one of his blessings was Financial Security…better, then, to leave the Faerie diamonds to be found by someone who needed them more. Such was The Calibre Of The Man.

By and by, the Faerie and the man found themselves back in The Shoemaker’s shop.

“Sit yourself down there, Faerie, let’s have a look at those feet of yours.”

“Oohh…” said The Shoemaker.

“Ahhh…” said The Shoemaker, for the Faeries feet were Very,Very Small, “excuse me just one minute, Faerie.”

The Shoemaker stood up and popped next door to see his friend, The Watchmaker.

Quickly he returned, bringing with him a fine and delicate set of watchmaker’s tools, the only tools he could think of that would be small enough to fashion a pair of shoes for a pair of tiny Faerie feet.

“So, Faerie, I now have The Tools I Need To Do The Job! Tell me, what do you like to see in a pair of shoes?”

The Faerie looked back at The Shoemaker, thoughtfully pondering the Desired Utility And Properties Of Shoes and said:

“Comfort.”

“Durability.”

 “Colour!”

“Stylishness!”

“Stiletto heels!”

“Ahh, Faerie, you are indeed a person…well, mmm, a Faeire…after my own heart! Come, let’s look at my leather stocks and see what tickles your fancy.”

In terms of leather, The Shoemaker recommended to the Faerie a fine Epicurean Leather from the land of Otherplace. Generally held to be the Finest Leather known, Epicurean Leather is soft yet strong and has a dazzling,glossy red finish. When The Shoemaker showed a sample of it to the Faerie, hereyes and mouth opened wide and she let out an awed “ohhh, yes!” and fluttered her wings in excitement.

Thus the leather for the Faeire’s new shoes was chosen and The Shoemaker began his work and, using the fine set of watchmaker’s tools and a magnifying glass, he had, by the end of the day, fashioned a pair of truly beautiful, stylish red shoes with stiletto heels that were both stylish and comfortable. ‘To die for’, I believe you would say in your own world…

All in all, The Shoemaker thought this pair of tiny shoes was probably the most beautiful he had ever fashioned. And the Faerie agreed,she was absolutely delighted – cock-a-hoop with pleasure, even.

And here’s where our tale really begins. For the Faerie was very grateful to The Shoemaker, not just for the beautiful new shoes he had made her but for his Kindness And Solicitude in general and, being bound by the Faerie code of ‘a good deed done is a good deed earned’ she passed to him a very interesting piece of advice.

She told him: “Shoemaker, you must stop making pairs of shoes. From this day forth you must only make left foot shoes, and those only in a size seven, for the time is coming when these are the only shoes that people will want.”

The Shoemaker raised his eyebrows at this extraordinary and strange statement and replied, “why do you tell me this, Faerie? It is a very,very strange thing to say…forgive me, but I have to ask you directly – is the statement you’ve just made the absolute truth?”

And that was very wise thing for The Shoemaker to ask for,if you are a student of the land of Anywhere, you’ll already know that Faeries have a Duality Of Nature. They can be very, very good or they can be downright mischievous. And if they should cast for you a Faerie spell, well, you’d better watch yourself for even when Faeries try their very best to cast a spell that is wholly good a Degree Of Duality (which can represent a substantial sting in the tale of said spell) will always tend to creep into the mix. So, always be cautious when a Faerie makes Magick or tells you something that seems of interest to you. Fortunately, The Shoemaker was wise enough to know all this.He was also wise enough to know that Faeries are bound by the same Universal Principle as The Devil – in that if you ask either a Direct Question they haveno choice but to answer honestly.

Thus when the Faerie confirmed the veracity of her statement, The Shoemaker knew that the comment about size seven, left foot shoes was absolutely and undeniably true but, as he said farewell to a very happy Faerie, he pondered where on Earth he should go with the information?Should he follow the Faerie’s advice and do something that really was quite oddand would, no doubt, impact upon his life in a major way? Or should he simply ignore what the Faerie had told him – in the knowledge that it’s rarely a good idea to ignore what a Faerie tells you if you know it to be truth?

The Shoemaker pondered hard and long. And came to a decision. Faeries were basically good creatures. The Faerie said make only size seven, left foot shoes for a reason and The Shoemaker felt convinced that that reason would eventually be revealed to him and, despite any struggles encountered along on the way, it would be for the good. From that point, he decided, he would devote his efforts to making only size seven, left foot shoes.

Which is exactly what The Shoemaker did. After holding a huge Clearance Sale to get rid of stock to make way for his new line of size seven, left foot shoes he began to make said shoes. He made shoe after shoe,day after day, exhausting his stocks of leather so he had to buy in more. He made size seven, left foot shoes for ladies, for men, with high heels and flat heels in black and brown and red and blue. He even briefly experimented with platform heels, but quickly decided they were an abomination and abandoned that particular experiment.

Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. And still The Shoemaker carried on doggedly following the Faerie’s advice. His shop was now full to the rafters with size seven, left foot shoes of every conceivable style, type or fashion and size seven, left foot shoes also filled the rooms The Shoemaker lived in above the shop, his workshop and the shop’s back yard. And The Shoemaker’s business and reputation had been destroyed.No-one visited his shop anymore (why would anyone want to buy just one shoe for one foot in one size?) and people would see him in the street and Point At Him And Laugh. He had gone from being a respected shoemaker to being ‘that mad old cobbler’ (and, trust me on this, nothing wounds a shoemaker so much as being called a cobbler). Even his ‘friends’ had abandoned him (for being Socially Embarrassing). Where once they had talked of him warmly, they now described him as a ‘lunatic and a fool’.

With No Money Coming In, The Shoemaker was forced to buy new leather and pay all his Living Costs from his savings and where once he had been prosperous he became poor. Yet still he had faith in his decision and the Faerie’s advice.

Meanwhile, The Blind Old Weaver Of Fate, as the Faerie knew she would, had spun together some threads that would justify the Faerie’s advice and The Shoemaker’s Faith And Persistence.

For in a heavily guarded, secret Military Industrial Complex situated on the outskirts of Anyplace, a team of Evil Scientists in the employ of The Greedy One Percent had developed a Genetically Modified Virus. This virus was designed to be harmless to humans, but fatal to Trolls (hence it’s codename: TROLLKILL). The Greedy One Percent’s hope was that, once released into the environment, the virus would soon wipe out Anywhere’s entire Troll population – freeing up their lands (which the Banker class has always coveted)for Redevelopment Purposes.

However very little, if anything, occurs in the land of Anywhere that is not Observed, Noted, Annotated and Judged by Faeries. And the evil that was unfolding in the secret Military Industrial Complex was no exception. Borne upon The Wings Of A Faerie, news of The Greedy One Percent’s evil plan (and the location of the secret Military Industrial Complex) soon reached the Troll Community. The Trolls were not disturbed by the thought ofthe TROLLKILL virus – for Trolls are wise and far seeing creatures who were well aware that the virus would not work properly. After all, it had been produced by the Military Industrial Complex which was deeply incompetent and more about enriching itself with tax-payer’s money than producing anything that was  actually effective. That said, it was still decided by a specially convened Troll Grand Council, that Something Should Be Done to let humans know that this kind of Nefarious Behaviour was not acceptable and would Not Go Unpunished.

The very next day, the secret Military Industrial Complex was subject to a Mass Troll Depredation. Guards and scientists and Civilian Contractors alike were offered the choice of being ripped apart by angry Trolls or Fleeing The Scene (they sensibly all chose to flee as you, too, would have done. There are few thing more scary in life than an angry Troll! The entire complex was then set to flame.

Now, by burning the Complex the Trolls had hoped to destroy the TROLLKILL virus and prevent any further work on it. But their plan was not entirely successful: a small amount of TROLLKILL made it into the atmosphere.Picked up by a strong wind, the virus was blown over the city of Anyplace. With catastrophic results. But for humans, not Trolls. Humans, you see, are not half as clever as they think they are, and once they stray into the area of Genetic Modification, messing around with the building blocks of life (a secret code known only to God andThe Devil and as old as Time Itself) Unintended Consequences are bound to arise.

In this case, the Unintended Consequence became very apparent very quickly as, within the period of just a day, the entire human population of the city of Anyplace came down with a sore throat, a mild fever and an excruciating pain in both feet. The sore throat and mild fever soon passed, but the pain in both feet continued until the left foot had shrunk (or grown) to a size seven whilst the right foot simply rotted and dropped off leaving behind a perfectly healed stump.

 When The Shoemaker noticed that he had a sore throat and slight fever, he thought he was coming down with flu (though the pain in the feet thing was a bit odd!), as if he didn’t have enough to worry about with no money and barely enough to eat! But,when he noticed his left foot shrinking to a size seven and his right foot dropping off to leave a perfectly healed stump, he was elated. Perhaps this was it! Finally, the Faeries words had been proven truthful and his dedication and persistence fruitful!

And it was indeed ‘it’! In no time at all, The Shoemaker’s shop was besieged by an entire city’s populace, desperate for size seven, left foot shoes! The Shoemaker did a roaring trade and, following the Principles Of Capitalism and the Law Of Supply And Demand (and to gain a rather satisfying revenge against people who had mocked and belittled him), he increased theprice of his shoes massively, making an Extremely Healthy Margin on each shoe he sold.

So it was that The Shoemaker once again became a rich and respected man, and the day he suddenly started to make only size eight, right foot shoes, nobody mocked him, not at all.

And the moral of this story is: if you’re doing something new and unusual and people laugh at you and mock you and treat you as though you were mad – ignore them and stick with it because you’re probably doing something right.

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Author

Richard Hennerley

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