We’re back on the regular schedule posting the short stories entered into the Comic Con competition. Ready?
This following short story was written by the lovely Sophie Griffiths. A very nice story – excellent historical research and well presented. And an idea worthy of Professor Rapson at his very best. Great ending!
Dr Bairstow started the meeting, his face expressionless.
‘You know someone in Rushford called the RSPCA. You are lucky none of them were hurt, apart from the paint. What you were thinking?’
‘St. Olga of Kiev ‘replied Professor Rapson, shifting uneasily in his chair. Dr Bairstow raised an eyebrow awaiting a fuller explanation. ‘Okay – formerly Princess Olga of Kiev, born in the 9th Century. Her husband was killed by Drevlians, and they hoped to marry her to their leader. But she was quite vicious – so she buried the first set of ambassadors alive and I think the second lot she burned alive. Um…she invited the remaining soldiers to a feast, where she got them drunk and ordered her soldiers to kill them. By this time the Drevlians were rightly scared of her, it was said she killed 5000 men at the feast. I’m not sure if that is true. I mean – for example how much food you would need for a feast for 5000– perhaps I could look into it-‘
‘All very interesting Andrew, please explain what this has to do with 20 purple pigeons residing on roofs from here to Rushford’
‘Well she went to invade the Drevlians, they didn’t want to fight but couldn’t give her tribute; instead she asked for doves and sparrows from each house. She tied sulphur to the birds’ legs. When the doves went home to roost in the buildings, sulphur sets the wood alight and burns the village to the ground.’
‘I wanted to see if it was possible. I thought pigeons are easy to get hold of; we can’t use sulphur –obviously. Then I hit upon the idea of paint. If made small DIY theatrical squibs – like the ones they use for fake gunshots – with purple paint so we can see where they land and how effective it would be, where the fires would start etc.’
Dr Bairstow looked out the window; purple paint trickling down the panes. ‘Very effective I should say’ he sighed. ‘Please see Mrs Partridge for deductions from wages slip Professor. As no animals were actually hurt – just scared witless and dyed purple I will smooth things over with the RSPCA. Be aware I will take a dim view of you using any more live animals for your research.’
Professor Rapson slunk back to the office for tea, thinking of researching the feeding of the five thousand. Outside Mr Strong was cleaning walls and muttering. Markham and Evans of the Security section, and historians Peterson and Maxwell were holding a ‘Catch the Pigeon’ competition, to see who could catch the most purple pigeons which were then cleaned and released. They were grateful it wasn’t the swans this time.
Dr Bairstow looked through a splattered window; a single non-purple pigeon was flying, a small theatrical squib, unburst, attached to its leg. He wondered where it would land, when the squib would go off. Most of all he wondered: ‘How on earth did Olga become a saint?’