Sunday 30th November, Tree Planting
Professor Van Helsing sat in the semi-gloom of his mansion, quietly savouring a flagon from the cask of Amontillado he kept in his private cellar. While sharpening his one remaining stake he suddenly became aware of a strange noise coming from the kitchen wing, “Hmm,” he thought, “The servant’s locked away in his shuttered room, what can this be?” He rose and, cautiously, made his way to the location of the disturbance.
It was coming from behind the door to the larder.
Grasping the door’s handle, he readied himself, stake in hand, then pulled open the door to find.. nothing.
He realised with horror that the cupboard was bare and that he was going to have to go shopping.
Grabbing his Burberry coat and his pointy stick he exited the safety of his home and stepped out on to the dark, rain slicked streets of Murderside. He walked along Grimm Street, footsteps echoing as he passed beneath the flickering gas light. Coming to the last house on the left he turned down the Rue Morgue, a road well known for knife wielding primates and undead drag artists. The street was entirely dark, he suspected Council cutbacks and carried on stake in hand.
Suddenly three dark shapes, like women in black (although they may self-identify differently) detached themselves from the shadows and flew at him. Vampires! He had one stake and there were three of the creatures. He acted quickly. As two of the undead closed on him he deftly impaled them both with one stake, for the third he whipped out his pruning saw and de-limbed it shouting, “Timber.” As their dust drifted away, he muttered too himself, “While there’s a moon over Bourbon Street they will not gain victory.”
Returning home after his adventure and a nut cutlet, he realised he would need more stakes. He would have to use dark magic and invoke the Bolton Conservation Volunteers for help. He knew the dangers, knew the cost, knew what price they would ask. But it had to be done.
Taking down a long forgotten tome of Druidic lore he spoke the sacred words, “From the land beyond Bol-ton, from the world past hope and beer, I bid you BCV now appear.” He splashed the carpet with a small amount of ancient Super Seven ale and stood back. Slowly a mist rose from the age worn carpet, like stale smoke drifting musty and cold, the shapes began to take form, solidifying into the ghoulish group of hideous misfits that was BCV.
“I need you all to plant some trees that I can cut down later on and turn into stakes,” said Van Helsing.
“You have Jaffa Cakes?” asked one with spiders in her hair.
“No, not until you’re done. We need to go now, I don’t want to be late. And you can’t stay til morning, there’s no room.”
As they set off, travelling through the night to Mouldy Gate Park like a circus of horrors. As dawn broke the Professor laid out his plan.
“We’re not building a cabin in the woods, we’re planting bare rooted trees and sticking willow stems into the ground. I need enough stakes for an army of the damned to make war on the evil dead.”
“You have Jaffa Cakes?” asked a green haired freak.
“No,” said the patient Professor. “But, carry out my wishes and you’ll have more cakes than you can eat.”
“Jaffa Cakes?” asked three of the witches in unison.
Not wanting a witches strike on his hands, Van Helsing replied, “Maybe.”
With the repeated chant of “Jaffa Cake,” the zombieland rejects got to work.
Under the gaze of an old tree they worked. Swinging their spades like pendulums they pit planted trees with names that cannot be spoken, and T planting others in defiance of Mouldy Gate’s resident evil. Willow stems were impaled into the dank earth where their roots would sprout and push through the soil like undead rabbits in a pet sematary (blame Steven King for the spelling). Tree after tree after tree found its final destination, and Van Helsing watched on as the work progressed. Gradually the light began to fail, but just in time the work was done; the long day of the dead (tired) had came to an end; a new woodland had been created, and a new store of future stakes to fight the fanged menace.
The shuffling mob shuffled and groaned, mostly about their backs. One, slowly stepped forward and lifted a hand, not one of her own but it would do, “Jaffa cake?” she croaked.
The Professor stepped back slowly. “Errm… I’ve got Double Death By Chocolate Cake and a Victoria Sandwich…”
“JAFFA CAKE!!!!” the mob screamed and shambled forward.
“Time for the pub,” uttered Van Helsing and turned to run, but his Burberry coat snagged on a branch of the wicked old tree and the hoard fell on him in their hunger.
The following morning. The sun rose on a peaceful wood. The pale dawn light slanted through the misty air, sparkling on golden, dew covered leaves. Deer wandered between the newly planted saplings, they sniffed at the young trees but left them be, this crop was not for eating. Turning, they quietly walked away leaving not a mark on the earth to show that they were ever there. As they padded gently by they passed beneath a raven perched in the branches of a gnarled old tree…
..and Van Helsing’s empty coat swinging in the breeze.
And the raven said, “Nevermore.”
Respectfully dedicated to BCV’s Van Helsing
All characters in this post are ‘entirely’ imaginary and any similarity between them and any persons living or undead is entirely ‘co-incidental’. No zombies or vampires were injured and Van Helsing eventually got his coat back. Many thanks to Banana Enterprises and the Rock Hall Volunteers for their involvement and to BCV’s cast of thousands for dressing up for the occasion. As usual thanks to Rick, Tom, and Caroline for their continued and outstanding leadership. Extra thanks to Jane, Sheena, and Lynn for cakes. Other work included cutting up old tree branches and making a dead hedge.