Floozman: First Episode
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Part 8: On the Road to Mulhouse
part 3 of 3
Thus begins the end of the world. Alerted by mysterious adumbrations he knows nothing of, the optician is feeling extremely worried. He is standing aside from the queue, because his scallops have been reserved. He glances at the headlines in his newspaper: “Strike cost: more than eight hundred million.” “Savings yields continue downward trend.”
“Something must be done...” he thinks bitterly. And in the infinitely subtle interlacing of a-causal relations, his minute thought interferes with the distant echoes of the fight for liberty: the resistance of fat flecks in sausage meat, the misplaced joy of the butcher’s boy, the shattered wrath of dead pigs...
However tenuous it be, this tiny breath reaches the transcendent plane where battles are eternally fought. Inaudible, it mingles with the voices that echo there, powerful like rushing waters.
“Something must be done...” the blazing face of a man says to the lady of the river from the summit of his sapphire throne above resplendent crystal skies.
“Something must be done...” says Doctor Faust to Mephistopheles.
“But what business is it of theirs?” asks the lady.
“The imps and the demons from the other side have a share in the balance of the world,” answers the face of a man.
“The imps and demons tell you merde!” yodel the imps and demons.
Mephistopheles and Dr Faust betake themselves to the castle where the banker is not sleeping. He never sleeps. Surfing a wheel of chrysolite with a rim filled with eyes, the lady intervenes:
“I am willing to let you operate on my territory, but the Gennevilliers convention must be respected.”
“The Gennevilliers convention, Madame?”
“Don’t be cute with me! I’ll take care of this myself, if I have to, even if it means leaving marks in the continuum! No more massacres. The injured and the prisoners must be treated decently, that’s it. And do no harm to Sophie!”
* * *
The banker understands. He drinks the Doctor’s potion, he arrays himself in his black iron armor and appears before the demon, who dispatches him immediately to Scherwiller. Poof!
A saddled horse is waiting for him behind the village.
As the Inkies and the Pinkies hustle about in the black labyrinth where the insatiable Pacman turns them into trembling ghosts, so the soldiers of the routed ducal army are running through the vines. Sitting upright on his mount, the banker gathers them and exhorts them to fight. Soon, a thousand foot soldiers armed with javelins and three hundred brave cavalrymen line up beside him.
Down in the valley, he catches sight of his wife and the knight sowing terror at the heart of the ardent mêlée. The impetuous accountant is also moving forth, alone on another front. Free from the weight of her shield and beautiful armor, her white arms dart like serpents in the tumultuous flow of her long red hair, slashing enemies with a supernatural power. No peasant dares to follow before the ranks of the men of Lorraine close behind her.
The troop rushes forward and storms the enemy with swords. The peasants in the front line succumb to the blows. Charging like a wolf, the banker scythes row after row. Pikes by the thousand slow him down. He makes himself invisible and then, stealthily, mortally wounding his own soldiers without hesitation, he sneaks into the center of the battle where Sophie is standing in an awful tumult.
At a moment of his choosing, he appears to her, rolling cruel eyes. Wild with vengeance, he clears the space around him with mace blows and challenges her to a duel:
“Join us and be free. Let us be lovers!” Sophie calls out.
“Die, bitch!” the banker yells, rushing grimly at her.
The fiery knight moves forward to shield her with his body. Sophie motions to him to step back. She parries attacks with grace and calm, serenely lending her arm to Time in its work as the destroyer of worlds.
She pierces the banker’s thigh straight to the bone. Bartholomew kneels, and black night comes swirling down over his eyes. She hesitates and then moves back to let the Duke’s soldiers take him away. And then Mephistopheles gives the wounded man the strength to throw his heavy mace at Sophie’s ankles. She collapses. In a flash, the Banker is on her. The metal rustles like the straw did when they once made love in a stable. Invisible, Mephistopheles whispers the formula in his ear.
“Let no one taste thy fruit henceforward forever!” hisses the avaricious banker, thrusting a dagger into Sophie’s abdomen, just under her navel.
The peasants are stupefied. Immediately, Sophie’s armor opens up and its parts shrivel up like withered petals. The unveiled body of the warrior woman dries out before their eyes. She has only the time to turn her brow to the dust before the death devours her.
The world trembles on its axis. The knight springs up in a howl and slits the Banker’s throat open. Damped with black blood, he leans over Sophie’s corpse.
The battle recommences in a great confusion. Each of the two camps wants to haul the dead woman to its side. Beside himself, roaring like a beast, the fiery knight smashes bones and splits breastplates. With the most valiant warriors he succeeds in saving Sophie’s corpse. Mephistopheles escapes in a foul-smelling puff of sulphur. Dreading the omen, the peasants fall back.
At the base camp, initiates are trying some magic on the relics contained in the trunks. Out of hair and bones, bears and wild boars spring up, with all sorts of poor devils. Only one saint appears, but he refuses to fight. The market price of relics plummets. The Swiss orders that the treasure be evacuated in four directions.
In the vineyards, the Duke’s harquebusiers are rallying under the command of the Count of Trout. They riddle the most exposed peasants with their darts. Farther away, in a serried formation and on a broad front, the foot soldiers move forward. They break through the groups of peasants and beat every wounded man to death. Seized by a dreadful weariness, the last fighters flee across the fields, relentlessly hunted down by cavalrymen, as far as gates of Chatenois. Most of the coffers full of disenchanted riches are quickly taken back on surrounding roads.
The lady of the river swears to clean out hell with a water cannon and dispatches dwarves to attend to the wounded.
The knight and a few hired soldiers manage to leave the carnage, treading upon the dead, bearing with them Sophie’s mortal remains and the invisible Mana that still floats around her. In the future, men will not remember them.
“Did you save my scallops for me?” asks the optician.
“Yes indeed, sir.”
To be continued...
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