Monday, November 23, 2015

A TRIP TO LYON - PART TWO

ANOTHER BEASTLY STORY ABOUT HORNER...

Hello beasties!

Yes indeed, we're back again!

This is the second of two posts about my recent birthday trip, with Toby, to Lyon. Last week I posted some photos from the first couple of days and shared a diary of what I got up to - and this time there will be further photos and a new prose piece, relating to the Horner character from BEAST OF FRIENDS. It is a continuation of the piece that I wrote in October, which is set down in Devon; although both pieces can be read alone.

That original piece can be read at: http://www.thedaffypoet.blogspot.co.uk/2015_10_11_archive.html

Anyway, here are some more photos and then we'll move on to Horner's adventures...

A GALLERY OF LYON - PART 2...

The photos in this post are a mixture from across the holiday - and some of them arranged in themes. We begin with a selection of cakes... Please note: I did not consume any of them - merely took pictures of them through baker's windows! Honestly!!

Here are some more photos of me pulling faces with my latest book...

Here are some more photos of the river and around central Lyon...

...Whilst this was the view of Lyon's other river - the Rhone...

Now it's time to move on to the story...

HORNER AND THE CANDY-FLOSS EATING ZOMBIE

What follows is the diary of Andrew Horner and it is written from his perspective...

Monday 9th November 2015

Greetings! I'm in France... It's warmer here than it was in Devon a month or so ago, but I'm certainly not grumbling about that as I've been writing up notes from my last trip... I'm in Lyon for a few days speaking to my French publishers - but I have a nasty feeling that I'm either going crazy or I'm being followed. Let's hope it's the latter! It was a long journey and I made the mistake of reading an article about Dario Argento where it was mentioned that Lyon was second only to Turin for its connection to witchcraft; no mention if this was now - back in the 70s or three hundred years ago. Reading all this definitely had the affect of making me feel slightly unnerved during my, relatively short, journey and by the time I got to the city I was ready for my bed...

Only when I got off the airport express and hurried through Gare Part-Dieu, the main station between the tram and the Metro, I stopped and had to double-take because I was certain that I saw a familiar face in the crowd. So what, you might say, it happens! Indeed, yes... Except I didn't just bump into this person en route to his own similar destination, oh no - I was immediately convinced that he was following me. How do I know? Well, once he saw that I'd spotted him he actually flinched and tried to cover his face with the shopping bag that he was carrying; ashamed that he'd been caught out.

Ashamed? Well, I suppose you could use that word... Ashamed, not only, that he had been seen trailing me - but also because this man was no ordinary pursuer; what else would you call a man caught trying to follow another without his knowledge - in another country - he was dead. I mean, it's just not "done", is it? I'll report back again, tomorrow - but we'll call it a day, for now...

Tuesday 10th November 2015

Sure enough, as I expected, I saw my dead friend again the following morning...

Before I continue I should probably explain that to describe this fellow as a friend is definitely an exaggeration. We've never even spoken and I've only ever seen him on one other occasion;  back in October, when I was visiting some rather eccentric cats near Torquay. I really hadn't expected to see him again - that is assuming that he is actually the same person; he was attempting to conceal his features behind a mound of candy  floss - so I would guess that he is the same man. It would have been very easy either to descend into some kind of hysteria or to simply go and hide under a bed - but I was curious. If this was the same zombie then he was clearly following me - but I needed to be completely sure that he was actually there and not some aberration of my imagination. What I needed was a secondary witness, but at first I didn't know who to ask.

In the end the answer was obvious - I asked Jacques, my French publisher and to be fair he took it in his stride; although I didn't immediately mention about my pursuer being undead...

After our meeting on the Tuesday morning, Jacques and I went for lunch in the Old Town - which was the perfect opportunity to settle whether it was only me who could see my "shadow"... 

"How odd!" I commented, as innocently as possible. "Do you see that guy on the table by himself - the one by the window? He's at the same hotel as I am - he keeps showing up wherever I go... Weird!"

"Which man?" Jacques seemed confused and I began to feel panic - perhaps I was the only one who could see my zombie friend; I recalled, that the Dartmouth cats had not seen him either.
 
Making a bit of a fool of myself I found myself pointing across the restaurant. "Him!" I hissed, momentarily losing my cool. "The one with candy floss in his hair!"
 
"Oh! Yes, I see him... I thought that WAS his hair to begin with... That's the guy who's been following you?" I nodded. "He doesn't look too well... You've worn him out - he looks kind of..."
 
"...like a zombie?"
 
"Like a homeless person I was going to say, but possibly like a zombie too. So, why's he following you?"
 
"If I knew that then I'd probably be a lot less confused about then whole matter..." I admitted.
 
"So, did you ask him? No!?! Hey, do you want me to? Look, I'll sort this out for you..." As he spoke, Jacques was getting to his feet.
 
"Listen, there's no need..." I insisted, suddenly having a change of heart. "I don't want to get you involved in all my problems..."

But, as it happened, there was to be no great face-to-face meeting on this occasion, because at some point in the last minute or two my "zombie friend" had finished his coffee and slipped away into the afternoon crowds.

Wednesday 11th November 2015

I had rather hoped that this would be the end of the matter - that having been witnessed by another person the zombie might have been scared off for good. I didn't see him again on Tuesday and I mistakenly allowed myself to be reassured by this and was happy to simply leave things at that. I was in a city that I'd never visited before and I had also promised Jacques that I would write a foreword for a new Charlie Grrr cookery book! (I know! I know! What do I know about belly button fluff pie - I've never even tried it and have no intention of ever doing so! But all the same I had agreed...)

Whilst I was happy to leave things be I had no idea that somebody else didn't feel quite the same and was keen to sort the matter out for me once and for all. Jacques was taking my stalking slightly more seriously than I was; perhaps worried that one of his writers might not get a certain foreword written if he was being bothered by shabby-looking strangers. I guess it's my own fault - I had been keen to find a secondary witness, just not sure one quite as dedicated and over-confident as Jacques.

Wednesday was my down-time day between meetings and rather than explore one of the art galleries as I'd hoped to I worked late on my writing, slept late and ordered breakfast in bed; soon after Jacques called around, it was almost noon.

"What's going on?!" I demanded to know. "I thought I was getting today to myself..."

"I've been busy on your behalf..." he explained. "I've worked out where you're friend lives - so, we can pay him a visit... Ask him what he wants... He's probably just some kind of weird autograph hunter, but better to be safe than sorry... If he cause trouble then we can report him to the Police..."

I was a little taken aback. "Jacques... I'm not sure that this is a particularly good idea... I think you scared him off; I've not seen him since we were in that restaurant together..."

"Only because you've been asleep pretty much ever since... Have you checked under the bed? In your wardrobe? In the fridge? He could be lurking..."

"I don't think so..." I began, but I had to admit that I was gradually becoming curious about what he might have found. "So, where does he live then? Do you know which house? Which apartment?"

"Not quite to that degree - but close enough... You want to come see? We can do a stake-out - like on the movies..."

Against my better judgement I agreed to go with him - as an effort to turn the tables on my zombie friend it seemed a prudent thing to do - just in case he should return at a later date when I didn't have Jacques on hand to help me... After all, there must have been a reason that he was following me - I was pretty sure that he wasn't after my autograph...

But still, when I headed out with Jacques early that evening I really didn't expect to spend the night where we ended up spending it...

Oh my...

Thursday 12th November 2015

Spending the night in a cemetery was quite definitely not my idea of fun - but I guess it makes sense that this is where a zombie might stop for the night; a Travelodge simply doesn't cut it. Still, when I pointed this out to Jacques I definitely saw him go a little pale. Sure, he had seen my pursuer in this area before - but I think he'd expected us to be visiting an apartment; somewhere where he might even be offered a coffee at some stage - or better still something boozy.

"I completely understand if you don't want to go in there after dark..." I told Jacques, quite expecting him to suddenly invent a prior engagement, but to give him his due he stuck by me.

"We'll be fine... You'll need company in a place like that - and after all, I am partially responsible for you whilst you're here in Lyon..."

"Protecting your investment, aye?" I teased, but Jacques did not laugh, nor even smile.

Even though we had torches on our phones to light our way, I had simply never considered how busy a cemetery might be after dark; it's amazing how many undead and ghostly figures we saw as we wandered the graveyard that night. By dawn, we were no closer to having found our zombie; our main trouble being that we didn't know where our "friend" actually was... Might he be still on the lookout for me, back in the direction of my hotel or might he actually be nearby - retired for the night, sheltering somewhere amongst the stones.

"We could just ask someone..." Jacques suggested, eventually.

"We could just ask someone, yes... I just don't see anyone here I fancy walking up to and asking! I know... I know! I'm a terrible bigot..." I sighed. "Alternately we could just come back in the day..."

"Or just forget about it all together..."

"I never said that..."

"Hmm... I can see it in your eyes, Horner... Listen! Don't say anything, but I think we're being watched!"

Jacques was correct - we appeared to have drawn the attention of a rather mean looking cadaver who looked like he was ready to pick a fight.

"Oi... You two! Over here! You don't look very dead... You're not welcome in here after dark!"

He began to lumber towards us - raising his bloody fists in a threatening manner; it was just at that moment there came a tap on my shoulder and I never thought I'd be so glad to see the face of my zombie stalker.

"These gentlemen are with me..." he began, ushering us out of the way - his presence seemed to cause the other zombie to back way - it's amazing what a bit of politeness can do. "We've been playing this game too long - it's my fault Horner, I really should have come forward and introduced myself... My name is Walter, by the way, Walter Smart... I have a message for you - it's from an old friend of yours..."

"Couldn't you have just left him a note?!" exclaimed Jacques before I could speak, only just getting his breath back after our near-miss with the angry zombie.

"Well, I did consider that..." Walter admitted. "But I think this is definitely something you need to sit down to hear, Horner - it's kind of important... You see - the message is from Colin..."

"Don't tell me he's alive?" I replied, feeling slightly shell-shocked at this news. "First he was a werewolf and then he was nibbled to pieces by evil mice..."

Jacques looked surprised. "Is that what happens to all of your friends, Horner? In which case I'm beginning to regret ever having met you..."

Not a very kind thing to say, but I never got to reply because Walter interjected. "Colin is dead - and yes, he was nibbled by mice, zombie mice... However, let's just say that they didn't quite finish him off - some of Colin survives and what remains wants to get in touch with you, Horner..."

Now what, I ask you, does one say to that!?

Friday 13th November 2015

The rest of Thursday was spent either sleeping or in meetings with Jacques about my book and the foreword that I'd written for Charlie; trying to fit in all the business that we'd intended to do before I returned to London.

Friday the 13th it may have been - but it dawned bright and sunny and was, thankfully, a spooky date in name alone. That said, I certainly hadn't expected to be spending the next morning sitting up on the hill by the basilica overlooking Lyon with a zombie known as Walter...

I'd been nervous, at first, to meet him alone - but as Jacques pointed out, other than being dead (and that's not a bad thing in itself - he can't help it!) Walt seemed like a perfectly normal sort of guy. He had a message for me and had just been shy about approaching me and passing it on; hiding himself behind a candyfloss that he'd picked up in Torquay when he'd first begun trailing me. The smell of the sugar had sent him slightly doo-lally and confused him; but I trusted him now - I think you can usually tell when people are speaking honestly.

My old friend Colin might not be "alive" or in the best shape, but he was still functioning and able to communicate - although apparently couldn't travel to speak to me in person...

"Look Walter, I'm not saying that I don't want to see him - or that I won't help him but... there are lots of implications to him being still around... He had a girlfriend, Lucy - she's moved on, made a life with somebody new..."

"She even doesn't have to know, Horner... Colin most definitely isn't back on the market as far as dating is concerned - but he has got himself involved in a group that are championing zombie rights..."

"Rights for zombies? Really? Well, I suppose it depends on exactly what they're asking for..."

"More positive media depiction for one thing - every time you see a zombie on TV it's never stylish and smiley - it's angry or bitey or it's ripping some poor living fella to pieces... We're not all like that, you know - in fact very few of us are... I'm just teaching myself to knit! I'm a vegan too, by the way!"

"Good! Good! Well, yes - I see what you mean - it's hardly fair representation, is it?!"

"But can you honestly say that you knew that before you met me..."

"Not really... I suppose I believed what I read in the papers - what I saw in the films... But you're right - even that angry zombie we met in the cemetery wasn't trying to eat us or anything... So what us it that Colin wants me to do?"

"We need allies - living allies, Horner - people to speak up for us... I know Colin is concerned about some of the members of their group; but I know he intends to communicate with you further..." I nodded, but didn't know quite what to say. "Think about it..." Walt continued. "You don't have to say yes, now..."

Poor Colin... Already a werewolf by the time that the zombie mice reached him down in the London sewers. I had no idea that I'd ever see him again or that he still existed in any physical form, but he had gone to quite some lengths to track me down considering that I was no longer living at my previous abode and had changed mobile numbers since his demise.

I told Walter that I would make a decision once I had seen Colin's message - but to be honest I knew exactly what I intended to do...

Some people definitely weren't going to like it...

Saturday 14th November 2015

It is hard to believe that I've actually seen it; the video clip that Walter had mentioned had arrived in my email account on the very evening that I returned home. Colin clearly wasn't ready to speak face-to-face, but that's understandable - his video message made it clear what he wanted from me...

"Horner... I'm tired and I can't speak for long... I just need to know that you'll help us... I don't need you to support the cause, but I do need somebody to ensure that our allies can actually be trusted and aren't trying to simply wipe us out or blacken the zombie name even further..."

The picture on the video was very dark - I could barely make out what I was looking for, but it most certainly didn't look healthy; but it was definitely Colin's voice...

"I'm sorry to have been so mysterious about everything... I don't trust many people these days - but Walter has been a miracle... He'll come to you soon and ask for your decision - either way I'll understand... Goodbye for now, old friend - take care of yourself..."

It was strange receiving this message and not being able to share it with Warren, Katrina or Lucy - my former flat-mates. I still felt bad about running out on them all after his death - within weeks I was selling up the house and moving on. I had to make my decision alone...

How could I deny Colin's request? Even though it was a crazy situation I might be getting myself into... This was for Colin, though - I never really had a choice?

I'd never considered equal rights for zombies - or even that it was something that they might have required, but that doesn't mean that it's something I'm opposed to...

I wait now, eagerly, to hear from Walter again - to tell him that he can count on my support...

I only wish he'd hurry up... I'm stocking up on candy floss, just in case he arrives tonight...

TO BE CONTINUED...

HORNER AND THE CANDY-FLOSS-EATING ZOMBIE was written between 5th-22nd November 2015, with proofing completed on the 23rd November 2015.


Next time - I have a little surprise in store whilst we creep ever-closer to the C-word... (Christmas! Hiss!) However, I do intend to keep this blog as un-Christmassy as possible, at least until the last minute. Many years over the Christmas period I have posted something seasonal here and 2015 will be no exception. It probably won't be a poem this year - but perhaps some silly little sketch; I'll get my thinking cap on! Anyway, where was I? Next week... A surprise? Yes, well - you'll just have to wait and see; but I can promise photos and a new piece of prose!

More soon!

Yeti hugs,

Paul xx

P.S. Most of the photos in this post were taken by myself, but one or two - such as the picture below and the one at the top were taken by Toby W who was on the trip with me. Thank you!

DECEMBER 2015 NOTE: When I first posted this the photos were a bit wonky - but I hope I have finally been able to fix that. It's not perfect, but it's better than it was!! :0)

HORNER AND THE CANDYFLOSS-EATING ZOMBIE is part of a forthcoming project that is due to be published in 2016/2017. This post and all contents are Copyright Paul Chandler 2015.

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