The Goat of Hades
By Casey Douglass
as part of #FridayFlash
Phil trudged along the narrow dusty tractor track, the incessant buzzing of flies darting around him starting to get on his nerves. It was getting late but the hot summer evening was as stifling as ever, the setting sun smirking as it bathed the fields in a fiery golden glow.
He looked up from his phone and could see the back of his house looming in the copse in the distance. He loved living here, nice and quiet with great views, but it was a pain in the backside to get back to civilization. He swished a finger across the icons and began searching for take-aways.
To his right, a wire fence conspired to keep a few motley looking sheep from wandering away. The smell of animal crap and sweaty fur made Phil’s nose itch.
He batted a fly away.
‘Indian...could fancy an Indian.’
Phil looked up and glanced behind him. Shaking his head he went back to his phone screen.’
Phil jerked upright and stared all around.
The voice came from Phil’s right, but he couldn’t see anyone.’
He swivelled his eyes down lower. A mangy black goat stood at the very edge of the wire fence, its glistening nose pointing straight at Phil.
‘Bingo!’ it said.
Phil felt his back and shoulders relax, the tension stuttering through his body and flowing away with each deep breath he forced into his lungs. ‘Oh this again!’ he said.
‘I don’t know what you mean, but I need your help!’
‘Oh do you! Might I say that’s not very clever, a goat in a field of sheep!’
‘Drop that tone mortal. I am the Great Goat of Hades! Show me some respect!’
Phil's vision began to shimmer and go dark around the edges as he stared at the goat, its black fur darkening, its eyes beginning to glow a little bit red around the edges. ‘Very impressive, but I’ve had worse.’
‘I will kill you!’
‘Then who is going to help you? I don’t see many candidates!’
‘I don’t have time for debate. This vessel was moved here by the farmer and had a shock collar put around its neck.’ The goat craned its neck, the heavy buckle of the collar glistening in the fading light. ‘Take it off me!’
Phil stared around him and shook his head. Everything else looked so normal, the settling dusk, the birds roosting, even the jogger in the very distance with a pink t-shirt on. His mind went to his stomach which was gurgling and felt like it was holding his other organs hostage. He sighed and stepped over the fence. Better to get it over with.
The black goat turned and raised its chin, its small wispy beard matted and tangled into a briary point. ‘Good!’
Phil got behind it and stood over its back, one leg either side. He reached down and pulled the collar around so that he could get at the buckle more easily. He unfastened the flappy bit and paused. What had he done before when stuff like this happened. Oh yes.
‘Wha-,’ was the only sound the goat emitted as Phil yanked hard on the tongue of the collar as he stood up to his full height, his knees pinning the back of the now kicking animal. A horrible gurgling sound filtered out of the creatures mouth accompanied by a thick black jet of faeces at the other end. Phil gave a mighty heave and was rewarded with a sharp cracking noise. He let go, the lifeless goat falling to his feet.
He stood still and panted, his hands shaking and greasy with sweat. A cool evening breeze blew across his brow, the moisture on his face lulling his mind. He heard muted scuffling from a way behind him. Turning, he looked at the huddled sheep that had now taken up residence in the furthest corner of the field. He looked down and nudged the black shape with his foot. He smiled.
‘I could fancy a kebab!’
Stooping, he lifted the thing over his shoulder and ponderously straddled the fence to get to the path. The flies buzzed around him with renewed ferocity, diverting his attention just enough that he didn’t feel the ground shudder ever so slightly. He grinned as he walked, his mind clear once more. It had been years since he’d heard voices, but he knew how to shut them up. That rabbit at Easter when he was ten, the dazzling little white dove that glowed and that grinning smirking reindeer with the red nose. Oh yes, he knew what to do!