Okay, here’s a story that I’ve been meaning to share for a while. Daryl and Denise, the loose novelisation of my webcomic Daryl and Susie, where the former henchman of an evil sorceress tries to start a new life, while controlling the monsters that come out of his head. Like The Little Shark, this story will be in chapters, each given their own post, but unlike The Little Shark, this story will be serialised, instead of posting the whole story in one day.
Thanks to Stratadrake for helping me with the editing for this story. Now, on with the prologue:
Daryl stumbled into his flat, plopping his paycheck on the closest table before dropping face first onto his bed. There he lay for a few seconds before he sprung up, snorting at himself for being tired. It wasn’t the drowsiness per se; rather the fact that he had performed more trying work in the past, and had usually had energy to spare afterwards. What was he doing now? Sitting at a desk, tapping things up on a computer. Certainly not the most active thing he had ever done, and yet he came back home fit to drop.
Still, it was to make a new start, and he did wish to be a different being than what he was, so perhaps the new situation was a sign he was succeeding. Besides, tedium should be a good thing; tedium meant no emotion, no thoughts, and without them, his head wouldn’t erupt, and thus those…things wouldn’t come. And certainly he felt the same way about work as everyone else did, from what he caught of the conversations around him. Just like them, he was. He blended in perfectly.
Maybe not perfectly. He was, after all, a six-foot tall dragon.
They didn’t know what he did. Their minds, full of those programmes and orders, were completely free of the knowledge. What if they did find out though? All Daryl had to do was let the slightest piece of information about it slip from his lips, and they would turn against him. Daryl would often talk to himself at work; it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility. One little slip and they would be at him like those back home were. They’d chase him down, screaming those things Daryl couldn’t understand yet knew weren’t friendly and…
He had to stop that.
Thoughts like that were why they came. He wanted the critters to appear as little as possible, and so far they had not interfered, so why did he allow himself to think that way? Why did he come to this place again? To forget about the past. Yet the past kept on coming, teasing the presence of those annoying little blighters. It wasn’t like he could control it –no, he was perfectly capable of doing that. All he needed was a bit more focus, a bit more positive thinking. Didn’t this place have classes for that?
Maybe it was this flat. Its grey walls, its stench, the pale windows, it was just like back home. Back where he used to sleep. It was missing the hay pile in the corner and the rats, but there wasn’t as much difference as he originally had hoped. Moving himself off the bed some more, Daryl peered towards the paycheck on the table. All going towards buying a new home. He had heard the citizens of this world all lived in white buildings with a matching fence and a green garden. Those did exist, but he couldn’t afford them.
Someday he would though. Oh yes. He’d live a warm, normal life, free of the hassles of battles and orders of malicious creatures. His home would be shining, not like the cold dungeons he used to inhabit. He had even done a few extra jobs out and about to make sure he had the money for new accommodation. His appearance had landed him a short gig as an entertainer at a pizza restaurant, where the children would crowd around him and laugh. Ah, making people happy. That could go a way towards redemption. He knew the children weren’t afraid of him, as they would spit in his face and attempt to ride him at times. At first, these had actually caused a tentacle to emerge from Daryl’s cranium, but the children laughed at that too. It got painful, but Daryl convinced himself that a little pain would be good. The road to redemption was supposed to be painful, after all.
Is it hot in here?
It very well could have been the fire waiting to be released, but Daryl opened the window anyway. Part of him wanted to take his jacket off, but he knew it was a nightmare putting it back on. As much as he enjoyed flight, he had to admit giant wings did have their disadvantages.
Peering through the window, he looked at the city where he had made his home. Splatters of grey everywhere, illuminated by spots of yellow, but little of the bright green of his old world. Where Kirkalan had blue skies at day and starry skies at night, with gryphons flying past, the skies here always seemed to be blanketed with clouds. Yet those glowing yellow lights down there looked just like the torches that would light her castle. Maybe coming here wasn’t such a good idea after all.
Why should he think of his old home though? What could he do there? He wasn’t exactly popular. And his ‘employer?’ She had kicked the bucket. England was apparently the only place that accepted his kind, so staying here was pretty much the only option. And stay here he should. This all was supposed to be a new start for him. He would give himself a new life free from the slings and arrows of terrified people…yes.
He never really spoke to anyone during his time in Kirkalan. The guards in his place of employment would sometimes say things to him, but they were not people he really wanted to spend time with. Having used most of his time lounging about in a dungeon, occupied only by his thoughts, he longed for someone to talk to and now, now he had a chance to grant his wish. Were there not several “social places” around here? Yes, after a quick rest he would go to one of those places, meet someone, someone nice. Maybe he would find another dragon; he couldn’t very well be the only one about.
So off to the pubs then. There were pubs in Kirkalan, sure, but the ones here were supposed to be nicer.
After a few more moments on the bed to gain some energy, and a while of waiting, Daryl gathered up whatever spare change he had. It meant less money for the house, but surely gaining a friend or two is just as important, is it not? Daryl, folding his wings and curling his tail up, left the flat and, upon stepping out of the front door, took a deep breath. A sense of relief tingled in his belly when no fire erupted. Then again, perhaps it should have, considering the man having trouble with his lighter nearby.
He could have lit the cigarette with his breath. A tiny little flame. The man would have said ‘Thank you’, and Daryl’s doubt would have melted away for a few minutes.
Would there be any good deeds to do when he got to the pub?
Daryl felt he didn’t need a car or a bus since he could fly, and for a moment he considered taking flight just to make the search for a good meeting place easier. None of the other people around were flying though, and being green and scaly was enough to make him stand out. So he decided to walk to his unknown destination, his dress shoes clacking on the pavement. Looking back at his new home for a second, he neared a road. The first step he took in its direction, one of those cars rushed past.
Oh, right. The red light. Always forgot.
So Daryl moved towards one of those traffic lights, those tall, three-eyed guardians of the path. Nobody stood next to him as he waited, and he didn’t know whether to treat that as a relief or a disappointment. At least he got a chance to stretch out his wings for a moment. Oh. There we go. Now back. No cars were coming now, yet that sign still showed the red man. Daryl continued to stand. As he stared at the sign, one kid ran past, completely ignoring the instructions. For a second, Daryl considered saving himself the wait and darting past himself – heck, he could even fly over the road – but some invisible force prevented him from doing so. If you want to redeem yourself, follow every rule. Yes, he was a good guy now. A law-abiding citizen. A charming person willing to make some friends.
The little green man made his appearance soon enough, and Daryl strolled down by the path framed by the cars. He took a quick glance at those things, and began to ponder if maybe he did want one. Flying could be quite tiring, after all.
Now among more of those elongated torches, Daryl looked over the area to see if there was anywhere suitable. There were not that many people out and about, which caused a slight sinking within Daryl, but then he turned around and saw a young couple heading into a large building, illuminated by warm light. If two people in love thought this was a good place to go to, then certainly it must be suitable for socialising. Holding his head as high as Coover did during his speeches, Daryl swung open the wooden doors, and embraced the new place.
It really did look little different from the usual Kirkalanian pub, only…there was something different, but what was it? It was certainly a bit more yellow. There certainly was a lot of yellow in this world, wasn’t there? Kirkalan pubs weren’t yellow, they were…brown, really. There was some brown here, but not as much yellow.
And there were certainly a lot of people here. Good. They said Friday nights were when the people of England would come together for some ritual or other, and the amount of people swarming about proved that. Still, as the stench of unbathed backsides and bad breath reached his nostrils, he began to stumble. Taking a good look at some of these people, they reminded him of the barbarians of Kirkalan, those that used to hunt him when he was a hatchling. Still, he was trying to make friends, wasn’t he?
‘Hello!’ he cried to everyone in the pub, a small amount of flame exiting his mouth as he spoke. That tiny flame made him step back as he imagined this fine building being reduced to nothing more but ashes, a reason for the humans to pursue him once again. Nobody so much as lifted their heads though, too busy with their own conversations. Once again, Daryl took a step back, but remembering his goal here, forced his feet to move to the counter.
Another look around at the crowd. Some resembled barbarians, but there also sat a few young people – not children, but still young – and even some smiling old people. Smiling. They were smiling in his presence. That should be reason enough to stay.
Pushing past the myriad humans, Daryl sat on a stool, facing the mixologist. ‘What’ll you be having?’ said the mixologist.
‘Water,’ was all Daryl said. A bottle of Evian flew in his direction as he put down his money. Quickly noticing what the name spelled backwards was, Daryl arched an eye in the mixologist’s direction, but then shrugged and guzzled it down anyway. Quite different from the water in Kirkalan…more…cleansing. Not cleansing enough to wash away his guilt, but the flame in his stomach had lessened. That was all that mattered.
Drumming his claws on the counter, Daryl looked around for any sign of a potential friend. That portly man in the corner – could he be a friend? If he was, how long would he go without learning what Daryl had done? No, he wouldn’t be interested.
Maybe he should let someone talk to him? Would anyone do that?
Another Evian. Maybe the more he drank, the more he’d be cleansed? No, there had to be more to do if he were to redeem himself. Well, would doing that even be possible? It felt like an itch, and as he knew, itches were impossible to get rid of. Only now, he was dealing with itches that were even harder to get rid of…can something be harder than impossible? Wasn’t “impossible” the pinnacle of difficulty, or could you have…?
Realising his purpose here was beginning to slide out of his mind, Daryl turned to the man next to him, giving a smile that revealed his elongated row of teeth. ‘Hi!’ said Daryl, waving to accentuate that point.
The man turned his massive head slowly. ‘What’s with your clothes?’ Daryl looked down to observe his tweed jacket, his vest, his tie. ‘You look like a right anachronism there.’
As the man let forth a chuckle, Daryl turned away in embarrassment. He had hoped his clothing would garner him some respect, being that they were apparently what the finer people wore. If this man was going to greet him by mocking his clothing choices, what about other people he’d try talking to?
Ignoring the comment about his fashion choices, Daryl replied by a brief chuckle and ‘So, how are you?’
‘What’s it to you?’
Daryl’s fingers twitched, begging him to hide his face, but Daryl continued. ‘I-I’m just…’
At first he thought it was merely those annoying itches he had recently had an internal monologue about, but seeing his hat shudder told him it was one of them. Clutching his hat, he gave one last grin to the man and the mixologist before darting off his stool and barging through the crowds. ‘Excuse me…pardon…’
Once out of the pub, his wings began to flap by instinct, and he rushed over to his flat, using one hand to unlock the doors. Once within, the clasp on his hat loosened, and out from his cranium, popped the monster. It resembled a larger, more spherical spider, hopping about the flat giggling wildly. It was a little one this time. Those are easy enough to get rid of.
Just as he thought that, the little thing leapt onto his face, making him stumble over backwards into a wall. Flapping his wings for a while, Daryl wrapped his claws around the creature’s rotund body, closing his eyes from the halitosis the thing seemed to have and threw it to the floor. It did not bother to hop back onto Daryl’s face, but rather just hopped around in circles.
All Daryl had to do was wait until the creature took a little rest, and then stomp on it. It took a while for the thing to grow weary – Daryl sometimes wondered if there was a way to transfer his monsters’ energy to himself – but it soon sat and rested. Pressing his foot against the creature’s back seemed to make the pub’s embarrassment lighten somewhat.
Now what to do with it?
Picking it up by the legs – did it just pee? – Daryl entered his bathroom, turning his attention to the calming blue of the walls before diverting his attention towards the toilet. Plop went in the little thing, swirling around and around to a better place.
That thing was a part of Aosoth. Everything Aosoth had to be done away with. The image of her red eyes and gigantic cranium entered Daryl’s mind again, eclipsing his vision. She grinned at him, revealing her sharp teeth which rivalled Daryl’s proud set of choppers, and, growing quickly, she opened her mouth.
The sound of sirens. Hearing that sound, appropriately enough, banished Aosoth away, at least for the time being. Once again, Daryl stood alone, with only the noises outside and the slight smell keeping him company.
‘I wonder what’s on TV.’