In pieces, p.1
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In Pieces

  In Pieces

  A Collection of Short Stories, Rhyme and Extracts.

  Copyright Philip Gilliver 2017

  Philip Gilliver

  Snow White and the Seven Samurai

  (Original Version of the Brothers Grimm Tale. Found in the back of a wardrobe in Heidelberg.)

  Long ago, and under a snowy sky, back in the days when you didn’t have to wait until the summer before you go out sledding, a queen, was sitting in a castle tower and looking over the land. As she was sewing at the time, this was a foolish thing to do, as soon she pricked her finger. As the drops of blood fell on her lap, she thought not about whether there were any plasters left in medicine cupboard, but of how the redness of the blood reminded her that she was approaching her late thirties and still childless.

  The king, who was quite old, had been shooting blanks for the past few years, which was always why he was so useless on hunting trips.

  Soon after that, after trying IVF treatment, they had a child, and her face was as white as snow, and she was beautiful. Her hair was red like the blood. But the queen died not long afterwards, so she wouldn’t be around to tell her about tanning studios.

  A year later, fed up of looking after a screaming child, the king, took another wife. The new one was not like the old one, she was beautiful and vain, and could not bare the thought that there could ever be another looker in the kingdom.

  Everywhere she went, she took with her, her mobile phone, good contract, unlimited texts. She would often pick it up after glancing into her step-daughter’s face and enter the following words into her social network status.



  And she would get loads.

  And she was confident that the world of the Internet really thought she was the most beautiful, and was happy with life.

  But babies don’t stay babies forever. Snow-White, as the little mite was called, was one day, seven years old, which meant that she already had her own mobile phone and a fairly active social media presence.

  One day, after admiring herself in the mirror for an hour, her favourite hobby, the queen posted these words again to her digital friends.



  But she had very little response, until one bright spark replied in a comment.



  Reading this, the queen’s face reddened with rage.  Her bosoms heaved themselves into a frenzy with the anger. She hated that girl so much and the envy swelled up inside her until it spilled from her ears and her eyeballs. She called upon the castle huntsman and told him to take the little girl into the woods and kill her.

  ‘Bring me some of her internal organs as proof!’ she bellowed.

  The woodsman, being a complete and utter psychopath in nature, agreed straight away. But as soon as he got his knife out and put it to her throat, Snow-White pleaded with him. ‘Please don’t kill me!’

  The woodsman replied, ‘Fair enough!’ and let her go. He told her to run away and find a shack somewhere and claim squatter’s rights.

  As the man watched her skipping away all full of life and breathing oxygen, he thought about his promise to the queen, about bringing back removed organs. Luckily, a baby bear happened by, and so he was able to slice it open and remove its liver and one of the lungs. He took them back for the queen, who had them cooked and salted so that she could eat them in front of her favourite cockney soap opera.

  Meanwhile, in the forest, the child was lost and all alone, not only that, she’d forgotten to put her trainers on before she’d left. Her feet were all cut and bruised. She would have been easy prey for the wild beasts, but for some odd reason, they just smiled at her as the passed. Some offered her mints.

  Then around the time of the evening, she spied a small cottage and entered it, without knocking. The cottage had a sort of oriental feel about it. There were long, thin swords over the hearth, with bounded handles. On the wall was a white flag with a large red dot in the centre of it.

  ‘Italians!’ she muttered to herself.

  In the middle of the room, there was a large, wooden table. On the table were seven bowls containing rice and raw fish. Beside the bowls were seven small pairs of chopsticks and bottles of a curious fruit juice called Sake.

  All of this made her feel so hungry and thirsty, that she ate some of the fish from each plate and washed it down with some sake juice.

  When she’d finished, she was tired, so she looked for a bed. She couldn’t find a single one, although there were seven futons on the floor by the wall.

  Soon, he tired eyes closed and she was fast asleep.

  Some time in the night, the cottage owners returned; seven sturdy, samurai warriors, back from wandering the land, offering their services to the people of the people of the land, desperate for revenge on brutal landlords. Having lit their seven candles, they could soon see that the place wasn’t the same as how they’d left it.

  The first samurai said, ‘Whoever has eaten from my bowl, has dishonoured me.’

  The second said, ‘Whoever has been eating my rice, has dishonoured me.’

  The third said, ‘Whoever has been eating my sushi, has dishonoured me.’

  The fourth said, ‘Whoever has been using my chopsticks, has dishonoured me.’

  The fifth said, ‘Whoever has been drinking my sake, has dishonoured me.’

  The sixth said, ‘Whoever has been sitting in my chair, has dishonoured me.’

  The seventh said, ‘And I suppose it’s me who is going to have to do the tidying up again.’

  Then the first samurai turned and saw that in one of the futons there was a small girl. Despite the kerfuffle, she had remained asleep. He summoned the rest, who were at his side at an instant, swords ready to be drawn for honourable, violent, slaughter.

  Then, as they looked further, they saw that it was a beautiful little child, who had obviously wandered in for a rest.

  What a cute little kid, they all chanted, although not so loud as to wake her.

  In the morning Snow-White awoke to the strangest sight, seven stocky little men in full body armour and swords, much like the ones hanging over the mantlepiece.

  The men told her not to be afraid, and asked her who she was and why she had come to their house.

  She answered them, ‘My name is Snow-White, and I have ran away from my step-mother who wants to kill me and eat my offal.’

  ‘So, you want revenge,’ said one of them, ‘you want us to lay siege to your castle and disembowel the queen?’

  ‘I wasn’t going to say that,’ replied snow-white, ‘but now you say that, it is actually a good idea.’

  The samurai told her what it could cost, a bowl of sake a day, plus expenses.

  But poor snow-white had no money at all, no money for rice, sake, or even steel polish to shine their ever-so sharp swords.

  The samurai went away and thought about it and then came back to her with a proposition.

  ‘If you take care of the house for us, wash, cook, clean up and polish our armour, and keep our swords good and sharp, then we will let you stay, and we will send your step-mother to meet her ancestors, in a most violent yet, respectable manner.’

  To Snow-White, this was acceptable. It made her very happy enough to let out a smile.

  Over the next few days, she managed to keep the house clean and the swords razor-sharp, and the Samurai were pleased with her service.

  Each morning, the bold warriors went up into the mountains to train for the upcoming battle. When they returned, Snow-White had the bowls of rice and raw fish, which she found in
the Coi pond, on the table for them ready to eat.

  One evening at supper, they told her that her stepmother may soon learn the truth and come looking for her, and so she must beware.

  Snow-White agreed to be vigilant.

  But back at the castle, the queen was confident that she was still the kingdom’s greatest looker. She had even eaten the small child she believed, and that it was probably good for her complexion, it was shiny and smooth. She picked up her phone again and entered the same words into her status.



  And again there was little response.

  Then after an hour, and the queen was most patient when it came to waiting for responses, there came a response.



  At first reading this, she was confused, and then she was horrified. She commented…



  Soon there was another response.



  ‘That woodsman lied to me!’ she ranted, and once again she was filled with with thoughts of finding the girl and killing her.

  For a while she paced the room, waiting for an idea to land inside her head. She had to rid the land of this horrid little girl. Only then can she be the land’s loveliest looker.

  Then it hit her, if she dressed up in old clothes and painted her face to make it look old and ugly, like a pedlar woman, then Snow White wouldn’t recognise her from Adam.

  In disguise, she wandered through the forest, to the hut of the samurai.  

  When she saw that there were no horses tethered outside, she knew that they were not at home. The queen had taken with her, a bag containing some food to sell. She knocked on the door three times and waited for a voice.

  ‘There is nobody at home!’ came the response, ‘Not even me!’

  The queen knew the voice at once, it was her wretched step-daughter. The rumours were true, she was indeed here, in this place.

  ‘Do not fear, little one, it is but the pizza delivery… old woman!’

  Snow-White wanted to be cautious, and knew that it would be wrong to open the door to strangers, but she did yearn so, for a stuffed-crust pepperoni and a side-order of garlic bread.

  When she did finally answer the door, and she still knew that it could be a mistake, she saw the old woman with the fine Italian fast food delights, and her mouth watered at the smells of the melted cheese coming from the box, so suddenly waved in her face.

  ‘I have no money, I am afraid,’ she said.

  The queen, whose nose was almost indistinguishable from all of the warts on her face said, ‘No matter, child, for we at Luigi’s are having a special on this week, free pizzas for today only.’ So, seeing the girl’s mouth already open and ready, the queen stuffed as much pizza in it as humanly possible, so much so, that the poor girl collapsed on the floor. The queen now happy, walked away leaving her to die.

  Later that day, the samurai returned from the mountains, singing old, familiar drinking songs of happy times and violent slaughter. When they saw little Snow-White on the ground, not moving very much, they were alarmed. One of them kicked her with his boot to see if she would flinch, but she did not, another suggested giving the girl an honourable burial, another still, suggested trying CPR first. As soon as she started chest compressions, a tiny wedge of pepperoni and cheese flew out of her mouth and landed on the other side of the room, and she emitted a heavy breath.

  ‘Thank you so much, you wonderful Chinese people,’ she exclaimed, and told them the interesting story that led to her being on the floor on the brink of death.

  Meanwhile, back at the castle, the triumphant queen had her nose against her phone again.



  She soon received her reply comment.



  These words filled her heart with rage and her eyes with reddened hate.

  ‘How dare that lass have the cheek to still be alive,’ she ranted. She hot-footed it to the kitchen, and there she cooked up another batch of pizzas. This time she added cyanide, which was her favourite poison and perfume.

  The queen was no fool, she waited again for the samurai to leave. As they rode off up the road, she came out from behind the bushes. She was once again in the clothes of the elderly pizza delivery woman.

  Wanting to waste as little time as possible, she rapped on the door.

  When Snow-White answered, she was shocked, remembering what happened last time. ‘You!’ she exclaimed, ‘you are the old woman who gave me pizza and almost made me choke!’

  ‘Oh, no!’ said the old woman-potential murderer, ‘That was not me at all. I am a completely different pizza-delivering pensioner.’

  ‘But you look so much like her,’ said Snow-White.

  ‘We all look the same,’ replied the old woman, ‘it’s the job, it does that to you.’

  ‘Oh!’ said Snow-White.

  ‘So, will you try my delicious pizza?’ the woman waved her bony hands over the cheesy delights as she spoke.

  ‘It is very tempting,’ said Snow-White. ‘The new all raw fish and rice diet is quite boring, and the juice these guys drink all the time, makes me forget how to stand up.’

  Snow-White hesitated before grabbing an edge of crust, but picked it up with ease. Meanwhile, the queen gave her a huge smile, and unbeknownst to the girl, behind it was such evil and spite.

  As the girl bit into the pizza the smile broadened beyond physical capacity, when the expression in her face, suddenly changed to horror and she grasped her throat and fell to the ground like a daisy in a snow fall, the queen couldn’t help but give her a round of applause.

  She then returned to the castle full of glee, there, in her favourite room, she picked up her mobile phone and asked again.



  This time, came the response she had so longed for.




  And there were forty-seven likes, and one share. Then she knew that Snow-White was truly dead.

  When the samurai once again returned, they saw Snow-White lying on the floor once again. This time they knew that she was really dead; for her skin was even paler white, whiter than snow even, and that is very difficult to achieve, even by a dead person. Altogether, they lifter her up and placed her on the table.

  ‘Now we must kill her!’ said one.

  ‘Why?’ replied another, ‘She is already dead, idiot!’

  ‘No,’ said the first one, ‘I meant the queen. We have been training hard in the mountains, and now is the time to take revenge.’

  The others heartily agreed.

  ‘Shall we bury her first?’ said one.

  ‘No,’ replied the leader, ‘the girl is a princess, and needs to be treated with respect.’

  ‘I know,’ said another. ‘There is this man I know on the other side of the forest who makes glass coffins. I don’t know why. I’ve always thought he had mental issues. He has never sold a single one. Now might be the time to give him some business.’

  The rest agreed, and they visited the man, slaughtered him, because they had no money, and took one of the coffins. But when they tried to lay Snow-White in it, they found that it was too short, so they returned for another. They repeated this exercise another five times before they finally got it right, and the samurai mounted their horses and went screaming off to the castle.

  When they reached the castle, they sliced up the guards with their brilliantly s
hiny swords (courtesy of Snow-White’s excellent sharpening skills.)

  The army was alerted and emerged from the garrison fully armed and fought against them. The samurai fought bravely, but not so well. Many of them were lost. Two days training in the mountains was not enough for this battle. When the fight was over, the two remaining samurai were taken prisoner by the queen.

  Meanwhile, the son of a king from a neighbouring kingdom was riding past the cottage, when he saw the friendly-looking structure, with its flowers around the door and the curious writing on the walls, and the severed heads of old enemies by the gate, he stopped, dismounted his steed and knocked on the front door in order to ask for a glass of water. But the door was open, and so he wandered in. His eyes widened when he looked upon the glass coffin and the girl inside, the most beautiful girl he had seen in his life.

  The prince did the most stupid thing, and removed the lid from the coffin, and examined the corpse. He noted a curious smell from her lips, it was the scent of almonds. He then opened the girl’s mouth. On her tongue was a small piece of poisoned pizza. He took it out, as no girl that good looking, should be buried with a mouthful of take-out.

  As soon as he did this, something remarkable happened, and Snow-White awoke from her sleepy death and thanked him. Straight away, they fell deeply in love, it was what they did in those days. The planet wasn’t very highly populated.

  And they mounted the prince’s horse and returned to the neighbouring kingdom, where they got married and as was requisite at this time, live happily ever after.

  The two remaining samurai somehow managed to overcome the guards in the dungeon, stole back their swords and escaped. Before they did so, they snuck in to the queen’s bed chamber, where they killed her in her sleep.

  When the newly-renamed Two Samurai returned to the samurai cottage and saw the empty glass coffin, they wept. Not only had they lost five of their friends in battle, some rotten swine had stolen the body of Snow-White.

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