From the Back Cover
In the beginning, there was darkness and The Boss liked the darkness. He’d spent years creating the darkness. He was proud of the darkness. Unfortunately, his assistant Norbert liked to snack while working and had a very sensitive nose. Had he not been in charge of monitoring the black holes this may not have been a problem but, as it was, a violent sneeze launched a single biscuit crumb into the darkness, and it was no more. A huge explosion rocked the Factory (better known to us as Planet Earth) and, for The Boss and Norbert, the real work began – they had to deal with life.
Life, as they found out, had an awful habit of not staying true to their designs, however carefully they drew up the blueprints. Suddenly, there were fish who wanted to live on the land, a dinosaur who went around killing everything it met, and then, of course, there was man — the Boss’ most distinguished and regrettable invention.
He and Norbert watch from their viewing platform as the human race blunders its way through history and do what they can to ensure that the entire species doesn’t render itself extinct. They watch as cavemen tackle woolly mammoths in order to fill their larders and provide next season’s wardrobe and quickly regret introducing them to fire. When tyrants rise up against their fellow man in Ancient Egypt, rivers run red with blood and plagues of frogs are visited on the Egyptians as the Boss and Norbert try to distract the evil doers from their purpose. Unfortunately, their intervention does nothing more than interrupt the Egyptian’s laundry schedule and promote an increase in sales of sandal cleaner. The Boss has decades of sinus infections and soot covered sandals as Henry VIII and Bloody Mary take power and decide that burning their fellow humans is a perfectly acceptable way to get their point across. Wars, the industrial revolution, slavery and empire building – all it does for Norbert and his Boss is push up their overtime budget, create more paperwork and cause them to stress eat chocolate biscuits. Not only that but the humans’ blatant disregard for their habitat means braving the really long ladders to make repairs to the ozone layer.
Have you wondered how our World would look from the perspective of one who had a rather large hand in its creation? If so, read on, you might be surprised…
Genre: Humorous Fantasy
Below you can read the first 10 pages of From His Perspective, by Lisa Keeble
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The Big Bang
The Boss was sitting in quiet contemplation surveying the vast expanse of nothingness beneath him. It was a very dense kind of nothingness and had been several millennia in the making but, finally, it was almost ready for the next part of his plan. As he ruminated on the blueprints piled up on his desk, he took a tentative sip of piping hot tea before reaching over to grab a pencil from a tin, which was entirely black except for a single, brilliant white stone on its lid. It was the tin that had given him his latest idea and, although he was not given to introspection, he had to admit he was feeling pretty proud of himself. After having made a few minor design alterations, he put down his pencil and reached once again for his cup of tea. Leaning back in his chair, he put his feet on the edge of his desk and closed his eyes, a small, satisfied smile on his face. Several moments later a blast, cosmological in its enormity, shook the walls of the office and The Boss found himself lying on the floor in a tangle of tea covered robes.
“What the bloody hell was that??” He scrambled to his feet, lost a few moments trying to locate his left sandal but then he was off at a run, determined to find the source of the noise.
The Boss did not have, as has been regularly postulated, a handsome benevolent face and a long flowing white beard. In fact, his face was often scowling, he was a bit podgy as a result of a proclivity for chocolate biscuits and, although he did have a beard it was short and a little scruffy. However, what he did have was an amazing turn of speed and extremely accurate hearing.
“oops!” Followed by the subtle sound of slippers departing at top speed was enough for him to guess the cause of the explosion and he set off in search of his PA at an ungainly gallop. He usually had a certain grace but running whilst trying to create a soothing breeze around his nether regions, with tea-drenched robes was no mean feat. The object of his ire came into view and he put on a final burst of speed before launching himself at his PA and tackling him to the floor of one of the many viewing platforms that surrounded the immense black space.
“Norbert, what have you done to my Factory?” The Boss was holding a short, angular man at arm’s length and was dangling him over the edge of the railing that was designed to stop people falling off the viewing platform and onto the Factory floor.
“Boss, calm down, you’ll do yourself a mischief carrying on like that.” The nasally voice was pleading. Although he was gripping his Boss’ muscular arms Norbert was increasingly aware that, if he let go, the only thing between him and extinction was his underpants elastic. Being dangled over a precipice by your pants is an unpleasant experience and Norbert was not sure if he was more worried about falling or the damage being done to his tenders by an epic wedgy. He took a deep, if shaky breath and arranged his normally untidy features into, what he hoped, was an appealing grin.
“Boss, please, if you’ll just let me down, I can explain…” He felt himself drop another couple of inches and his eyes watered.
“No, no, no. Not down, not down. Boss, I’m begging you. Up!” The final word was little more than a squeak as he clenched his buttocks as tight as possible in an effort to stop his pants from disembowelling him. He was immensely relieved when the Big Man relented and hauled him back over the railing where he collapsed in a heap. He fought to gain control of his shaking legs whilst, simultaneously, trying to extricate his pants from places that he doubted would ever be the same again.
“Norbert!” An angry red face appeared inches from his nose and the great bellow was enough to lift his wispy ginger hair out of his watery blue eyes (they didn’t normally water, but it had been a rather trying few minutes).
“Sorry Boss.” He sighed with relief as the last centimetre of pants worked its way free turned his attention to the Big Man who was still screaming at him.
“Norbert, just tell me what happened!”
“It was like this: you know I’ve been working on the black holes, trying to get them up to the right temperature, like you said?”
“As we’ve worked on nothing else for the last few aeons, yes. What’s your point?” The Boss was standing with his arms folded glaring at his sweating PA. Norbert shuffled his feet and nervously picked at a stray thread on his robe before ploughing on.
“Weeelllll, I know you said that we needed to be extra careful because we’re reaching a critical point and all that but…well the thing is…..I was peckish. It had been a long time since breakfast, and it gets a bit boring monitoring black holes after a while, so I decided to have a biscuit.” As he spoke, he slipped his hands in the pockets of his robe and grasped his underpants tightly through the material. If they were going to be the only thing keeping him from falling to his death, he wanted to make sure the elastic was still intact.
“Norbert, what do you mean you had a biscuit? You told me we were out of biscuits!” The Boss was shouting again, and his PA looked shifty “I distinctly remember asking you if we had any more biscuits when you brought me a cup of tea and an Eccles Cake this morning! You know damn well I don’t like those; they look like they’re stuffed with dead flies! ‘Haven’t we got any more chocolate biscuits’ I said, and you said ‘no they’re all gone! Don’t tell me you didn’t say it because I know damn well you did!”
“Boss.” Norbert was loath to interrupt, under the circumstances, but he’d had some experience of biscuit related rants and had no wish to spend the next few decades listening to another one. “As I was saying,” he continued “everything was fine, I was being careful but then I sneezed and, well, let’s just say there were crumbs.” Norbert’s voice had sunk to a whisper and he was slowly backing away from the Big Man, shoulders hunched, and buttocks clenched.
“Please don’t tell me there’s biscuit in the black holes, not after everything we’ve been through to get them operational.” Norbert almost felt sorry for his Boss as he saw his eyes well up with tears of frustration and he reached out a hand to comfort him. ‘Wait a minute’ he thought ‘Are those tears of frustration or murderous fury in his eyes? Bugger!’ He quickly snatched his hand back and watched the Boss as he paced furiously back and forth, steam rising from the soles of his sandals.
Taking a deep breath, eyes flicking left and right, desperately looking for an escape route, Norbert continued. “No, no it’s not that bad, honestly. It wasn’t a piece of biscuit just one crumb, that’s all, I promise.” Norbert was gabbling now “One tiny crumb fell into one of the black holes and then there was a bit of an explosion but there’s no real harm done.”
“No harm done?” the big man roared “You take the last sodding biscuit and then you sneeze half of it into my black hole? You have got to be kidding me!” His white robes flowed behind him like sails on a battleship as he advanced, once again, towards his quaking employee. Sadly, for Norbert, he was already against the railing with nowhere to go but down. He held up his hands hoping to ward off his raging Boss. “I meant the black holes Boss.” He said hurriedly “Look, they’re fine.”
They both turned to look over the railing and it did appear, at first glance, that Norbert was indeed right but then the Big Man spotted something and said, “Hang on a minute, what’s that…..stuff oozing out? It’s all shiny!”
Norbert was relieved that his Boss was no longer bellowing, but he was also slightly worried that his biscuit crumb may be making a comeback. “Well, it can’t be my biscuit crumb.” he said, using the well-worn mantra of the guilty – deny everything “Biscuits aren’t shiny.”
“Yes, I’ll grant you that is true but what else would you suggest it is?” said the Boss through gritted teeth “The point about black holes is that there’s nothing in them, they’re just a huge mass of nothingness. Do you know how much planning is involved in creating nothing like that by the way? Do you?” The Boss was getting irked again and was wagging his finger at Norbert in a manner that is universally known to come at the start of a very long lecture. However, it never came as they were both distracted by a low, intense rumbling.
“Ummm Boss, I think we might have a problem.” Norbert was leaning right over the railing now, desperately hoping he wasn’t seeing what he thought he was seeing.
“We? It’s not me who took the last bloody biscuit! It’s not me who insisted on eating it while he was supposed to be working! It’s not me who…..”
“Boss! LOOK!” Norbert yelled at the top of his voice until he had the Big Man’s attention. The biscuit crumb, if that is indeed what it was, and the Boss really had no proof, appeared to be getting bigger.
The nothingness that they’d been so carefully nurturing all this time was expanding at an alarming rate. It almost throbbed with dense, uncompromising power and, as it grew, it sucked everything into its darkness. It was as though a heavy, black cloak was being dragged over the Factory. They ran. Fast.
“Shit, that was close.” said Nobert after they’d finally stopped, and he’d caught his breath. He was checking himself over, looking for possible injuries when he suddenly realised something, “Oh bugger! I’ve lost one of my slippers, they’re just not built for that kind of speed.” He said sadly.
The Boss was lying on his back, chest heaving. He hadn’t actually needed to lie down, being reasonably fit despite all the chocolate biscuits, but he’d tripped over his own robe coming around the last bend and thought it would be more dignified to pretend that his prone state was intentional.
“You’re not kidding, I didn’t think we were going to make it there for a minute, the momentum of that thing was incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it! I’ll tell you what, it’s going to take more than a dustpan and brush to clear that mess up.” He chuckled to himself, more from relief that they’d avoided the massive vortex than anything else.
“Yep, no doubt about that Boss; it’s going to take bloody ages.” muttered Norbert dispiritedly as he knew damn well that it would be him who was left to tidy up. The Boss was a great believer in delegation and he really hated housework. “Pretty though wasn’t it? Be interesting to see how it turns out once everything’s settled down a bit. Sheesh, is it just me or is it bloody hot in here?” Norbert lay down beside his Boss, fanning himself, and contemplated the swirling mass that surrounded them. For a moment they just stared, taking in the astonishing beauty that was unfolding before their eyes, gentle smiles playing around their lips. The Big Man didn’t think that he’d ever felt such a sense of peace and he would have been quite content to just lay there quietly had something not suddenly occurred to him.
“Yes?” Norbert who was still happily gazing at the blue and orange swirls cavorting in the dense blackness failed to notice the concern in his Boss’ voice.
“Where exactly did you lose your slipper?”
“It flew off as I took that sharp bend round by the viewing platform, why?” Curious, Norbert turned to look at his boss’ face and moments later said, “Oh bloody hell!”
They scrambled to their feet and took off, legs flailing madly, as another black hole spewed out what had once been a size 7 tweed slipper. They narrowly avoided being sucked into another vortex by hiding under a desk in Norbert’s office, but it was a close-run thing. Once it was safe to come out, they brushed the dust bunnies from their robes and the Boss announced that he was going to have a lie down in a darkened room while Norbert tidied up. “And it wouldn’t hurt you to sweep up under your desk every once in a while!”
Norbert reached for a dust pan and brush, his duster and a pair of rubber gloves and set about cleaning up, all the while grumbling under his breath ‘He could have given me a hand or at least found me a new pair of bloody slippers’.
After all the excitement, the subsequent millennia were a bit of a disappointment. “Why is it still so dark?” moaned Norbert. He was peering intensely at the Factory floor, but he couldn’t see a thing. “I’m sure I can hear something moving about down there but I’m damned if I know what it is, it’s irritating.”
“You’re bored, aren’t you?” said the Boss calmly. He was poring over some designs and making slight adjustments here and there. “You could give me a hand if you want something to do.”
Norbert moved away from the viewing platform reluctantly, he was determined to figure out what had been moving around down there, and wandered into his Boss’ office.
“What are you working on?” He peered over the Big Man’s shoulder. He was bored but he wanted to make sure that whatever the Boss was working on was more interesting than doing nothing before he committed himself.
“Well, as you keep moaning about how dark it is, I thought I’d do something about it. What do you think?” he passed the blueprint over to Norbert.
“Hmmm, yes, they’re very pretty, they should brighten the place up nicely.” Norbert grinned, pulled up a chair and reached for a pencil. ‘This will definitely be more interesting than doing nothing’ he thought to himself. They worked on for quite some time, refining the designs and the mechanisms needed to put them into place. The Boss had decided that, for the time being, they would stick with tried and tested methods.
“Right Norbert, are you ready?” The Boss yelled at his PA across the dark chasm that stretched between them.
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