XVII – Roman Poisons And Wrinkly Mutts

Dear Journal:

There I was, a rock wall in front of me and an unknown passage behind me. The way was forward. So thinking, I turned around and headed off down the dimly lit tunnel. I sorely wanted to run, but something kept my feet at a regular stride.

Forward. Always forward, in lockstep march. One foot in front of the other.

As I advanced, dim scenes floated around me in a constantly shifting pattern. Watching these images, I began to recognize them. They were my life being played back to me by some unseen agency. Deeper into that darkened corridor I was led and a new horror began to assail me. I was getting cold with a bone deep chill that seemed to congeal my blood and stiffen my muscles.

I wondered at that moment if I was dying, and why. At that same instant, another sensation made itself known. Something hideous was wriggling its way through my veins, and everywhere it touched, part of me began to shrivel and die. However, racing behind the monster was another creature, warm and friendly, that healed wherever the cold death touched. During this struggle, I felt as though I was being torn to pieces.

I wanted, NEEDED, to retch. Nothing came up. Still staggering forward, all I wanted to do was curl up and sleep, but part of me knew that to rest was to die. Moving forward, I began to feel warmth spreading through me and the cold paralysis began to lift. Strength returned to my legs and my stride became firmer. Then, BUMP, I walked smack into something tremendously large. And warm. And furry?

I reached out to touch the barrier and, sure enough, whatever I had run into was alive with a size so vast as to begger my understanding. A pair of enormous eyes regarded me at nearly ceiling level and, as I tried to back peddle, a huge wet SOMETHING slapped me in the face. Reeling from the blow, everything began to dissolve as I seemed to float upward out of the cavern and into more normal light.

I opened my eyes and stared into a big, wrinkled face with beady little eyes, a button nose, and a very moist, sloppy tongue. I tried to sit up and was greeted by my companion, the biggest dog I had ever seen. It was wrinkled with great folds of skin from head to toe, as though its skin had been ordered in a size much greater than the body occupying it.

*Wuff* was all it said as it sat back on its haunches, regarding me with a big, toothy smile and a wagging stub tail. I was back in my bedroom, with a crowd of worried people studying me intensely. Next to my bed sat the Lady, wearing a relieved expression.

Who! What! How . . .! I wanted to ask, but nothing would come out except one single groan. A physician was leaning over me, taking my pulse and checking other vital signs. I knew I was alive. Just barely.

Then the Lady explained. I had been poisoned. The cup of wine I had been carrying out to the veranda was lethal. Fortunately, I fell in a busy hallway and was attended to immediately. My servants sent for the Lady and her apothecary, who knew almost at once by looking at me what poison had been used. Even with the antidote at hand it was touch and go for several hours.

Meanwhile, my guards began questioning the servants, particularly the kitchen staff. It was obvious that someone in the villa had tried to kill me. I was too closely watched for someone from the outside to get to me. The guards were able to question everyone except for one slave who, it seems, had disappeared. Well, they would find him, wherever he ran.

As I listened to all this, I became aware of heavy snoring next to the other side of my couch. Looking down, I saw Wrinkly Mutt’s companion. Identical to Wrinkly, except for color, this dog was sound asleep, rumbling softly in contented slumber.

The Lady smiled and explained that they were a gift to me from one of her friends. These mutts were intensely loyal and, when pushed, terribly ferocious. They were there to insure my continued survival. They were also lovable companions.

My eyelids were getting more and more difficult to hold up and I kept losing the thread of the conversation. The Lady noted my fading awareness and chased everyone but the doctor and two guards out. I drifted off to a normal sleep, safe. For the moment.

Chapter XVIII

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Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 12:30 PM  Leave a Comment  
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