His Lord’s Ashes

You may not have noticed, but I really enjoy writing bizarro at times. Bizarro tends to be strange stuff that doesn’t necessarily fit into a specific genre. In my case I tend to mix up genres within the speculative realm and see what might happen.

I used criteria from a set of flash fiction prompts as the basis of this piece. In this case I have three elements; a hero, a setting, and what went wrong. In this case we find an accountant (of sorts), the underworld, and something is missing.

Now I shall leave you to the piece…

His Lord’s Ashes

His Lord's Ashes

flikr creative commons via Orin Zebest

“One… Two… Three…” His count continued as he checked items off his inventory sheet. “Four… Five… Wait, this can’t be right.” Eskrilar ran his finger over the list. “There it is right there. Yes, this can’t be right at all.” He stepped further into the cage and looked up and down the shelves.

“Oh dear, oh dear oh dear,” he said. “I refuse to be the one who pays for this. But they always blame the one who finds the problem.” His eyes lit up as he searched his memory for a possible solution for the problem. “No that won’t work either, it never works.”

“Have you finished that count yet?” The voice, raspy and hollow called from outside the storage cage.

“I have a few things to double check still,” he called back. “If I was an urn where would I be?” He flicked a finger against the tip of his single horn. He lost the other one in a bar brawl. Not that he was brawling, Jessala would never approve of such behavior. She didn’t approve of him stepping into bars either, but it was just the one time and they never bothered to invite him before.

“Where was I?” he asked. After a sharp intake of breath. “The urn, I can’t let my count be the one to lose it.” He scrambled through the cage digging through piles of miscellaneous bric-a-brac. “Oh to the nine hells, where could it be.”

“Eskrilar, haven’t you finished this inventory yet?”

He flipped around to face the opening to the cage. Gold coins, silky hose, and other various oddities oozed from his body. “Sorry, I was looking at something,” he said. “Have you ever seen a floosac like this before?”

Tergle stepped past the entrance into the cage. “Seriously? Are you trying piss them off?”

“I found a problem,” he whispered.

“So you decided it would be a good idea to rummage through the inventory?” Tergle said. “You are only making matters worse.”

“You don’t understand. During my count I noticed that the urn was gone.”

“What the heaven’s urn are you talking about.” Tergle’s horns bobbed up and down with the emphasis he placed on each word. “You realize the kind of trouble you can be in if they catch you digging through all of this?”

“The urn, the… urn, t..h…e… URN,” he said as he pointed to the spot on his form. “What part of this don’t you understand?”

“Wait a second, are you talking about the URN?”

Eskrilar glared at him. “Now you are mocking me…”

“Are you two about finished? I need to close this area off again.” Greg stepped inside the cage and pushed Tergle further in.

“I just need a couple more minutes to finish up this sheet.” He tried to adjust himself to block Greg’s view into the cage.

“What are you two up to?”

“Nothing!” they said.

“Eskrilar needed a second set of eyes to confirm something he noticed inside the cage. I am here merely to provide that support.”

Greg stroked his pointed chin as his eyes traveled between the two of them. “What is it you are hiding?”

“I am not hiding anything,” Eskrilar said. “I find an issue with the count list and the items present and I sought to correct the oversight.”

“That is to be commended. Give me your sheet.” Greg held out his hand.

Eskrilar looked at his sheet and then at Trelgar, then back at his sheet again.

“I don’t have all day,” Greg said. “Hand it over now.”

He stepped just close enough to pass the clipboard to Greg but gave himself enough room to duck.

“I can see the problem right here. This sheet is wrong.” He licked his lips as his eyes flashed across the sheet. “The URN had been moved some time ago. No one adjusted the inventory sheet.”

Eskrilar let out an excited peep.

“Were you planning to show this to the oversight comity?”

“Why yes, yes I was.” he said.

“Don’t worry about it,” Greg said. “I will take care of this issue.” He placed the sheet on his own clipboard and tossed the other clipboard into the cage. “Now, the two of you, out!”

Eskrilar scrambled the clipboard despite the glare from Greg. He then raced out of the cage to catch up with Tergle. “What do you think is going to happen?” he asked.

“Typical Bureaucracy,” Tergle said. “He will be commended for keeping us in line and we will come back to count tomorrow.”

They passed through the hall to the meeting room. A minor imp (unnamed, cause well, minor imp) collected inventory forms in front of the heap pile Slintore. “What am I going to do? Greg has my form,” Eskrilar said.

“I got this.” Tergle said. The smile on his fetid face did little to reassure Eskrilar. “You look ravishing today Slintore.” The imp tugged at his leg.

“adfouere ljk ouoija,” Slintore said.

“The forms? Yes, the forms, I have them right here. Mine and Eskrilar’s.” He waved two forms in front of the imp.

“Ououere ouare haoueraf.”

“What do you mean highly irregular? I was simply helping Eskrilar out momentarily. He had an incident.” The imp waved them through.

“Where did you get that second form?”

The smile flashed all of Trelgar’s pointy teeth. “I snagged Greg’s form when he wasn’t looking.” He motioned toward the wall. “Let’s watch the show.”

Greg strutted into the meeting room, and pushed his way to the head of the line. Without a word he dropped his clipboard on top of the imp then shoved his way through.

The screech of the imp caused eyeballs to bleed, and stopped Greg a few paces away. Large Sloothes stood to each side of him. The imp hopped into the air and landed on Greg’s big toe with a sharpened spike. “The Urn?”

Sweat beaded at his brow as he scanned the room. Eskrilar and Trelgar ducked behind a shifting mound. “It was moved?”

“Form,” the imp screeched. “Irregular.” It pulled the nail from Greg’s foot then drove it through his chest.

“Now that is how you handle problems on your forms,” Trelgar said.


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