Thursday, September 23, 2010

On destroying Bagpuss

On destroying Bagpuss

After the success of last week's complete murdering of any childhood memories you may have of Thomas the Tank Engine, I was warned in no uncertain terms to leave Bagpuss well alone. So here it is.

Bagpuss: See Emily Play

Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss
Old Fat Furry Catpuss
Wake up and look at this thing that I bring
Wake up, be bright, be golden and light
Bagpuss, oh hear what I sing

Emily, glowing with the happiness of a spring morning, placed the tangle of metal and rubber tubing on the floor of her shop, said the magic rhyme, and retired to a safe distance. As the raw liquid joy coursed through her veins, the animals came to life. They always came to life for Emily.

She watched - unseen by neither man nor beast nor toy - as the stupid, pig-headed woodpecker became the first to survey her find, and the creatures would fight and rage over their new toy until something that was not-quite-sanity would prevail.

Then the mice - her beloved mice - would sing their song, pushing rubber hose into the long metal wand, righting the big metal tank with writing in a language she didn't understand; and whatever it was she had found near the bloated, still-twitching bodies of the uniformed and porcine-faced devils that had tried to take her away took shape.

With a final "Heave! Heave! Heave!" at the direction of the great galumphing toad, the mice placed the object in front of the fat, old striped cat, and Emily clapped her hands in glee as he stirred with a groan and a yawn and found the switch that turned the thing on.

She would never forget the smell of kerosene and those beautiful, beautiful flames that seemed to come straight from some accursed gateway to the underworld, the very breath of the Old, Dark Ones.

She would never forget the hellish roar that drowned out the screams of the creatures, the sight of that loveable old cloth cat as he thrashed around, his final moments spent in the throes of burning agony.

And the pitiful howls of those from the village who came to extinguish that hell-sent inferno, as the fuel tank exploded, engulfing them in liquid death, blundering into each other, eyes burned into a sightless horror, a new smell of burning meat filling the air.

Then, police came and found Emily, crouching, feeding. Then doctors, and more doctors, and stern-looking men clutching wads of official papers, and judges and solicitors and barristers, and more police and yet more doctors. And the game was over.

Later, as they locked the doors - door after door after metal door - the doctors could still hear Emily's screams. Screams that would fill the halls and staircases and long, empty corridors of the institution for decades to come: "It wasn't me! It was the cat! The cat! THE MAGIC CAT!"

But Emily loved him.

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