A lo, there came a chapter 5.
This chapter is a personal favourite of mine, in that - towards the end - we see Reginald's father, Reginald Sr, showing the first signs of the unimaginably terrible behaviour which will come to dominate his every waking moment later on in the story. I think I can honestly say that I have never written a character as completely and hilariously obnoxious as Reginald Sr, and no relationship between any two characters I have ever written has been AS funny as that between the two Reginald Kingsleys. It all begins here, as far as that goes, and only becomes more magnificently train-wrecky as the story progresses.
Download Chapter 5 directly here
Download Chapter 4 directly here
Download Chapter 3 directly here
Download Chapter 2 directly here
Download Chapter 1 directly here
When I once again became aware of myself and my surroundings, it was in a situation at some remove from that which I had previously found myself in. Perhaps ten feet removed, I would estimate now, though at the time it seemed much greater. Twelve or thirteen feet, at least. More to the point, I found myself evidently hovering in the very air itself, staring down at my own prone and bloodied form on the ground below me, surrounded by the savages who had so recently bludgeoned me into this state. Even as I watched, they began to hoist my limp form from the ground.
I was at once alarmed and furious. What did they think they were doing with my body? It seemed likely to me that, did I not intervene, it would soon be sold to a butcher’s shop or perhaps a necropheliac’s brothel. Both notions outraged and disgusted me in roughly equal measure, and I resolved that they would not have the opportunity to do so without a fight on my part. Undeterred by my evidently non-corporeal state, I balled up my spectral fist and made to strike out at the sweaty and dark-skinned savages below me. As I did so, I became aware of the oddest and most disconcerting of phenomena.
It was, in the merest space of a moment, as though I found myself suddenly removed from the island scene by a distance of some miles straight up, hoisted upwards by some unseen force. So great was my elevation that I could see the entire flat disk of the world below me, bounded at all sides by vast and trackless ocean. And yet I could still see with undiminished clarity the scene directly below me, and it was my sense that the figures contained therein were no further beyond my reach than they had been a moment before. Indeed, if anything, it seemed to me, as irrational as it may now appear in hindsight, that I could easily strike each and every one of them with a single blow. I was like unto a giant, so vast as to be embedded in the firmament above, with a reach so great that the ground below me was no more than the space between my firm, patrician nose and my keen, sparkling eye.
In the very same moment, I was filled with a sense of awe and wonder at my newfound power and glory. What wonders an Englishman of my stature could work! What good I could do for both King and Country! However, before I could even consider such esoteric business, there remained the matter of punching some dirty savages in the face (which, it must be said, seemed to coincide with my previous concern rather tidily anyway). With a great bellow of rage, I let fly my fist, and watched in thunderstruck bafflement as my fist seemed to swell yet further at the extremity of my arm, becoming so vast in that instant that as it struck the Earth below me, it seemed so immense as to impact the face of every man, woman and child of the world all in one fell and terrible blow.
I do believe I may have become so excited at that moment that had I been in possession of my own flesh-and-blood form, I might very well have become turgid with masculine enthusiasm.
My excitement, however, was to be short-lived, as I abruptly found my perspective altered once again, removed - to my considerable consternation - from my towering height and restored to my own comparatively diminutive proportions. The goliath frame I had hithertofore inhabited, however, was no altogether vacated, as it seemed to me that it was now animated by another entity altogether, and one of bizarre and horrible appearance.
Hunched over the world like a beast it was, with a form only superficially like that of a man. Its facial features were blocky and angular, like a pagan idol, with sharp, shark-like teeth in its savagely grinning mouth. Deep-set and pupil-less eyes peered out at me with a frightful intensity from beneath a heavy brow. Its ears were distended and pierced like a lady’s, save that few ladies of my acquaintance would have been caught dead adorning their ears with the sharpened bone shards that this figure did, and even if they were, I cannot but think that they would have had a sense of shame about it which was not enviced by this unreasonably unembarrassed cosmic fashion gaffe. The feathers which adorned his headdress and beads about his neck, which I’m sure he had imagined were the very height of haught couture, came across as no less shabby. I could not help but feel embarrassed for this titanic, world-straddling behemoth. I doubted anyone had the nerve to tell him what a horse’s ass he made of himself by dressing in this tawdry manner.
My silent fashion critique, however, was abruptly cut off a moment later when the giant spoke, with a voice so vast as to stir the very heavens above, in an accent so atrocious as to render him unemployable at any but the most disreputable of dockside establishments. “You are to be congratulated, Reginald Kingsley”, he intoned. “You have passed my first and final test; the Test of Irrational Indignation. By showing yourself to be unable to think of anything more noble or worthy to do with godlike power than to beat with your fist those who are smaller and weaker than yourself, you have shown yourself fit to receive my blessing, and to carry within yourself the terrible power of Mookalakapeekapo.” He leaned in towards me, his face now filling my entire field of vision, seeming to stretch from one end of the horizon to the other. Grinning savagely, with flames seeming to dance within his inhuman eyes, he continued, “But moreover, I reserve for you my highest and greatest blessing.”
He swept his arm, then, seeming to take in the entire expanse of the Earth with a single gesture of his meaty arm. “My people are content on their island home. But you? A modern son of the British Empire? You shall spend your life treading every land on Earth, meeting all the peoples contained therein, should you live long enough. And therefore to I bless you thus: You shall remain forever young and fit, the grim spectre of death kept ever at bay, so long as you act as my messenger of pugilism, bringing the violent striking of my fist to the faces of all the men, women and children of the Earth. How does that strike you?” He shook with laughter at this, evidently quite taken with the wit of his small pun.
“Not at all!” I responded hotly. “I shall not receive the blessings of any god but my own Christian saviour; that hook-nosed kike who died for my sins up on that cross some who-can-even-keep-track-of-how-long-ago years past,” I replied with pious vigour. “Indeed, I should rather take up a life of pansyism, never again striking another man in anger than deliver a blow which is in any part to your credit!”
“Don’t you mean pacifism?” He replied, arching an eyebrow at me in ignorant confusion.
“By Lucifer’s balls, I know full well what I mean!” I stormed at him. I had nothing but the deepest of contempt for pacifists, and if I were to become one of them, I would not limit my scorn for them to others.
“Very well then, imprudent mortal!” He bellowed back at me, his demeanour in an instant becoming malevolent and terrible. “I then instead bestow upon you my greatest CURSE! You shall remain forever young and fit, the blessed release of death kept ever at bay, until such a time as you have acted as my messenger of pugilism, bringing the violent striking of my fist to the faces of all the men, women and children of the Earth. How does that strike you?”
I was stricken at once with horror at the injustice of it. How could a deity so disposed towards generosity at one moment be so inclined towards wrath the next? Nothing in my Christian upbringing had prepared me for the notion of a god such as this!
“You shall not be released from this curse until you have punched one man, one woman, one child, and one old woman of every people on Earth, that my divine and indiscriminately-directed rage should be known to all the peoples of the world!”
“And what of the animals”, I replied sarcastically. “I suppose you would have me strike one of each of them as well?”
“Um... Yes. Them as well, now that I think about it. That sounds good, too, actually.”
“Perhaps I spoke out of turn...” I began to suggest, hoping I might extricate myself from beneath this additional burden.
“Perhaps so!” He shouted loftily . “Now begone! Be about your task! Mighty Krapalookoo has spoken!”
Within a moment, I found myself once again upon the earth, within my own mortal form, bloodied and battered though it might have been. My father and our guide stood over me, and beyond them, I saw the light of the sun shining in the sky through the one of my eyes that did not remain swollen shut from my injuries. It seemed that quite some hours had passed since I had fallen prey to the natives’ fists. The enormity of what I had just experienced seemed momentarily unreal to me, and I struggled to fit it in with the restored reality of my own previously-mundane life.
“About bloody time you roused yourself from your unseemly slumber!" my father barked at me irritably as I struggled to my feet. "I trust the dainty princess has had all the beauty sleep she requires? I trust you had all the sweet dreams you could fill your precious head with?"
I wiped the blood from my chin and, to some extent, my hair, heartened that my father had taken no action to do so for me in my sleep. Such menial tasks were beneath him, and I would have been mortified to think that he had been forced to lower himself to such a point as to engage in them on my behalf. "Dreams I had, father, but far from sweet, I fear!"
"Blast it all, boy!" he bellowed "I was being disingenuous! You think I truly care?" He spat in my face, indignantly. That was my father all over; stalwart and unshakable, such that even the near-death of his own son was insufficient to move him to engage in womanly concern for others. The love and pride I felt for him in that moment swelled within my chest such that it I felt it might burst, and no less so when he jabbed me in my wounded eye with his walking stick a moment later. "You've cost me a precious night, damn your lazy bones! A precious night away from my desk back in London, trapped in this infernal tropical paradise, and all because you needed to involve yourself in this pagan affairs. A night STOLEN from me, do you hear?" he bellowed with rage, his moustache flecked with spittle and foam from his mouth as he shouted into my injured face. "One night less to live, while death bears down upon me like a raging bull! Do you have any notion of what that feel like, you selfish maggot?"
I had heard this particular rant dozens of times before; it was his standard malediction whenever I caused him so much as a moment's lost time, and had been since I was old enough to comprehend his words, and in this exotic and foreign clime, the familiarity of them was comforting to my unsettled mind. Nevertheless, my answer this time was a novel one, both to he and I : "No, father, I fear I don't. And I'm not altogether certain I ever shall again...!"
I then set about telling both he and our guide the tale of the curse placed upon me the night before.
As I finished the telling of the story, there was a moment of stunned silence from both my father and our guide. Father seemed perturbed, naturally, but there seemed something else underlying that perturbation. In a lesser man, I might almost have read that something as jealousy, of all things! Our guide, however, was more conciliatory as he spoke.
"Mister Kingslety, I know what you believed you saw, but you mustn't pay it any heed. These pagan gods... they're not very reputable sorts. You have to understand, they're mainly liars and charlatans by nature. They have no moral fibre. Why," he whispered to me gravely, "many of them aren't even CHRISTIAN! Why do you think they choose these backwater peoples to worship them? No decent god would ever have anything to do with savages like these. Indeed, in my home country..."
Suddenly, like a bolt of thunder, I realized the implications of what he was saying. I interrupted him. "Your home country. Where might that be, my good man?"
"Why, The Philippines, sir. Why do you..." he trailed off, a look of horror dawning in his eyes. "Oh, no, sir, you can't mean... can't possibly be..."
Even as he sputtered and stammered, I could feel, almost on instinct, my right arm begin to rise above my head, arching over my head in that deadliest of poises. "There's nothing for it, man. I'm sure you understand." My father, white as the ghost of a white man stricken with albinism, turned his face away in horror, unable to bear the sight of what his son and namesake had become.
"No, sir, please, sir! Nooooo....!" the guide shrieked as I began my feral scream and entered my Koolookoo state for the first time.
And thus began my cursed existence.