Biscuits With Nathaniel

By: Nadia Kuftinoff

It was up in the Bavarian mountains that Beatrix found the place she’d been looking for over the last three years. She had expected a sinister castle that she’d have to infiltrate in the dead of night, guns blazing, baddies falling to the ground instantly, a cigarette clamped between her teeth as she raged to the dungeons. There, she’d find the relic she sought and after a moment of peaceful awe, she’d throw a grenade at it before sprinting from the fortress. She would dive away from the force of the explosion to save herself, just as the castle crashed to the ground in a million pieces, and then make a witty retort to no one in particular before striding off triumphantly.

Only, the current state of affairs was quite underwhelming in comparison. For one, she had no weapons. She didn’t like guns, nor did she have the connections to get them on the black market. The knives she carried were in a satchel by her feet as she sipped a coffee in a café in Antwerp. Those same knives were promptly stolen by a passing thief who, anti-knife since the day the top of his right ear had been sliced off by his drunk friend Anders, who had been trying to demonstrate his ability with a blade, dumped the bag into the Scheldt. The sharpest implement Beatrix had left was a pair of tweezers. And my wit, she thought to herself, half-laughed, and then remembered she wasn’t very funny either. Her smile faded.

The headquarters of the “sinister gang” had also turned out to be a bit of a bust. She was staring at a quaint little cottage. It looked like a pastoral scene from a box of chocolates in a departure lounge that you take back to your office and pass off as authentic delicacies of the central European country you visited on the cheap over a long weekend. Still, the stereotype had to come from somewhere, and this was probably its source. She half-expected to see a milkmaid in traditional dress appear around the corner and invite her inside for some beer and wurst. Her stomach grumbled. She’d love a beer and wurst right now. Unfortunately, she had the slight matter of freeing mankind to contend with first.

Tentatively, she approached the front gate. The garden was full of small flowers just beginning to bloom now that spring had finally spread up the mountain. A few gnomes sat next to a little pond, and she couldn’t help thinking that it was all rather cute and sweet. She wouldn’t have wanted to blow this place up with grenades anyway. When she reached the door, she rapped out “shave and a haircut” cheerfully, but then remembered that she was supposed to be a formidable figure, so she boomed “two bits” with her clenched fist. Her heart was beating so hard that she considered taking a wee sit down.

What if something awful and terrifying was behind the door? The old “make them feel at ease with adorable little gnomes” ploy? I am not bloody prepared for this, she suddenly thought. I am not ready. I do not know what the hell I’m doing. Why am I here? Why isn’t someone more qualified doing this instead of me?

She contemplated who the governing body of freeing mankind might be and was debating whether her father knew anyone at the United Nations when the door creaked open. Beatrix jumped back a little, startled when she didn’t immediately make eye contact with anyone, but then looked down to find a 4-foot man in full Jacobean costume, ruff and all, staring back up at her.

‘Hello there,’ he said warmly, eyes twinkling. ‘Are you one of the Witnesses?’

‘Um, no,’ Beatrix hoped this wasn’t a loaded question. The face of the man drooped a little.

‘Oh! Well, never mind, that’s all right. I suppose you’d like to come in.’ He opened the door and gestured for her to enter.

‘Uh, well, yes… sorry, do you know why I’m here?’ Beatrix hesitated before crossing the threshold.

‘I can hazard a guess that you’re here to destroy the Book of Life, correct?’ the man asked knowingly.

‘Yes, that’s… that’s it. The Book of Life. Destroying of. Are you… umm…’ Beatrix frowned and looked at the unusual little individual quizzically. ‘Are you okay with that? You seem awfully welcoming.’

He chuckled. ‘Why don’t you come in and we’ll talk.’

***

Read the rest of the story in your own copy of Sheriff Nottingham Vol. 2, Iss. 1

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