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The Irish Tales

The Year We Ran Out of Fridays. (Part Two)

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The Year We Ran Out of Fridays.

Part Two

Venue : The Grounds of the Residence

Date : March 13th

Present : December, Winter 360

I walked slowly through the grounds of the Residence, through the many lanes and landings, through the orchards and the meadows, dipping my feet in the gentle streams and letting the clean breeze ruffle my tumbled locks, (oh come on, you know how vain I am!), deep in thought after the revelations of the last few days.

It was a lovely spring morning, with a blue sky and a few fluffy clouds, as it always is here.
There are no seasons any more, if there ever were, which I doubt. What would be the point ?

My head was still thick and syrupy after the previous night and I sucked in the fresh air hungrily, whilst also groping in my pockets for a cigarette.
Yes, I am as weak as any mortal on occasions.

I stopped for a moment, to light a genuine Turkish gasper and ponder on this duality of character, when out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of something tall and dark, motionless but watchful.

I stared at it for a good minute, but it remained stationary. Shrugging, I strolled on for a few paces, then stopped and whirled around. I was just fast enough to see it stop too and remain still again, a hundred paces behind me.

There was something vaguely familiar about it and a million years of autocracy (plus a certain amount of of arrogance) made me address it, in low, gentle tones.

"You. Come here and make yourself known."
For a moment, it hesitated; then slowly and reluctantly, it moved towards me, limping slightly. I felt a sudden stirring of recognition.

When it was within ten paces, I raised my hand and it halted.
"Who are you ?" I inquired, though in my heart I knew.

"I am CDWinter 360, Retired, m'lord." He barked back. I thought for a moment, then beckoned him nearer. It was indeed the ChronoDog who had plucked April from the Pond's none too tender embrace, at some cost to himself.

"Why are you following me ?"
He looked down and shuffled his feet nervously, but said nothing.
"C'mon, man, I'm not going to bite you !"

He cleared his throat, nervously. "For your protection, your worshipfulness!" he barked. I winced.
"Please....lower your voice. I have something of a headache."

"Sorry, your majesty," he whispered.

I sucked on the gasper and frowned. "What makes you think I need protection, Winter 360?"

No hesitation this time. "One Day, two Months, The Calendarist; all lost to Time. Never happened before, Sir. Something very wrong. Your Honour. Sir."

I was astonished. I'd never heard a ChronoDog speak more than two words at a time, let alone a sentence so accurate and succinct. It was the accuracy which worried me most.

And something else, something strange which stirred on the back-burner of my mind.
"Why me?" I asked, genuinely curious.
Once again, he faltered. Tried to speak, failed. Coughed, looked away, as if in shame.

I walked towards him, took his arm and bade him sit next to me on the warm clean grass.
I stared at him gently until his eyes met mine. Then I nodded slowly and the floodgates broke.

"Sir, your honour, my lord, you honoured me, you looked after me, gave me the best medics, gave me a home and allowed me to marry, treated me as a man, not a Dog, freed me from all service, gave me a pension to spend on honey and cream, allowed me to marry the Bitch of my life, gave me...a home...pension...honey and cream...cheese and onion toasties...I... you.... I am...your Dog, Highness...."
And then he ran out of steam, sighed deeply and dropped his head, exhausted.

I stared at him, nonplussed. Double nonplussed to be honest. I had not the faintest idea of how to reply to him, never having had any such conversation with a Dog before.

To give me time to think, I muttered vaguely, "Cheese and onion toasties are very bad for the digestion. Especially late at night."

He looked up at me with puppy-dog eyes.
"Thank you, m'lord for that advice. I will attempt to curb my desire, your Honourship."

I frowned at him. Whilst like most men, I love to be adored and worshipped and shown deep respect, I found this obsequience rather disconcerting, not to say uncomfortable. Especially from a ChronoDog.

I rubbed my aching head for a moment.
"Look, Winter 360.......let's get something straight." I took in a deep lungful of smoke, choked slightly, then continued.

"In public, you will call me Sir. In private, you will call me Dec. No more m'lord, your honour, your majesty or any of that shit. You understand ?"

He blinked, then nodded.
"In return, I will give you something no Dog has ever had before - a name."

He gasped and his eyes nearly exploded.
"A ....a....Name, my lord - sir?"

Names are important, you know. Without them, one is nothing. With them, comes a certain strength, a power, a sense of belonging and of place; even of importance. The denial of a name, of an identity, of a personality, guarantees anonymity and slavery.

I knew perfectly well that I was about to do would create, shall we say, certain difficulties, not to say hostilities, amongst my colleagues in Time.

Fuck them, I had more pressing needs.
"Yes. A name. Kneel."

He did so, a huge beaming smile lighting up his not unattractive face. I had never done this before and I doubt that any Regulator of Time ever has, but the words came naturally to me.

I placed my hands on his brow and took a deep breath, whilst a part of me wondered if there were any gaspers left in my pocket.

"Ex-ChronoDog, Winter 360, for services already rendered and for those to come, I bestow on you a Name, under the power vested in me by the Time Lord Himself.
Henceforth, you shall be known as .....Oscar."


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