Chastised, criticised and ostracised, Rostrum skulked back to his cabin. How was he to spread the word now? How was he to continue his crusade of enlightening the world and teaching it the miracle of toad tossing? Well, OK so it was only a job and hardly worthy of the veneration of an evangelical movement. But persecution is a great motivator. From the soils of attrition grow the seeds of piety, germinating into the shoots of beatification, sprouting the leaves of idolatry and finally blossoming into the bloom of showing that fucking parson where he gets his. What does he know about religion? Yes. Death to the parson. Death to the people of Ig. Death to all who deride the divine dogma of Toad Tossing. Henceforth shall it be spelt with capital T's and praised be all who minister its doctrines. Blesd be the Toad Tossers for they shall, well, Toss Toads!
And it came to pass that in the village of Frippit there arrived a traveller of humble fare. And the stranger spake unto the revellers of the hostelry of that town, "Aren't your clouds fucking boring?!"
And the revellery did cease.
And the stranger did glance upon each of the faces of the erstwhile
revellers and did read the word portrayed thereupon.
For it was the same word on every face.
And the word was Death.
Yes, death. Sweet death.
"You wanna make something of it?" spoke one of the faces.
Death, death, death.
"The question is," replied the stranger, "Do you want to make something of it?"
"The only thing I want to make," said the self-appointed spokesman of the tavern, "is a large glass display cabinet in which I can mount and label each organ from your body - in alphabetical order!"
The stranger gulped. This was going better than he'd expected.
"And you shall have your display cabinet," he said, "and you shall have your organs, from the aorta to . . . to . . . whatever begins with Z."
"The Xylem?" proffered a voice from the back.
"No, that begins with X," said another patron.
"And that's only in trees anyway," added the third.
"Yes, but the aorta isn't strictly an organ either," said the first interrupter, "It's the vein that carries blood from the heart."
"No," said another, "It's not a vein 'cos veins carry blood to the heart. The aorta's an artery. Remember, it came up in the quiz last week."
"Surely the first organ," put in yet another patron, "should be the adenoids. That comes before aorta."
"Yes, but that's just a bit of tissue at the back of the nose," said the first, "Again not an organ."
"Shut up!" snapped the cut throat withdrawing his knife from his victim's neck and waving it at his comrades.
"We're not here to have a bloody seminar on anatomy. We're here to decide how our friend here should die!"
The people shrank back from this little scolding. They had indeed digressed slightly from the matter-in-hand which was, of course, death and not, as their chastiser had pointed out, the lexicography of human organs.
"Besides," he added, "The abdomen's the first organ."
"But . . ." interrupted another expert.
"Silence!" the cut throat commanded, "All right, we'll have his organs in order of size, from his fat pestilent arse to his puny demented brain."
"But . . ."
"Perhaps," the stranger finally got a word in edgeways, "you would prefer to obtain your organs from those responsible for the poor state of your clouds."
"What have clouds got to do with it?" said the cut throat.
"Well, I remarked that yours were fucking boring. That's why you wanted to kill me. Remember?"
The cut throat pondered this for a while.
"Oh yeah," he finally said in a moment's realisation.
"And my point is that you'd be better off killing those that ripped the spleens from your cloud fluffers."
*I'm sorry about all this. I know it's getting very strange but it does come together in the end. Honest.