Valley of the Kings

by Luke Otley

“I am not mad. I am eccentric perhaps–at least certain people say so…”

Hercule Poirot

Madness…lunacy…and the hot Egyptian sun…

My time had finished in Cornwall. I was leaving and unsure of when I would return. Why not go down swinging, I thought, like so many a great fighter had done in the past?

Outside of Sam’s, Elliot and I stood patiently awaiting admittance. A bottle of Jim Bean rested cool against my calf. We also had four awful cans of bitter and two small bottles of Stella.

“Merry Christmas one and all!” Sam bellowed as he opened the door. It was early August, ten o’clock, and he and Jack had been drinking since five. His mother was in bed with a headache, and I heard her shout from upstairs, “Who is it?” in a voice that sounded like it came through gritted teeth.

“Luke and Elliot!” Sam roared back. Across the street a dog began barking. There was no reply from Lisa, and we came stomping in, placing the relaxed and graceful footfalls of two chain-mail clad knights. Naturally, Jack was sat on the iMac playing Starcraft. His huge frame loomed menacingly over the keyboard, his fingers were snapped and broken into a shapeless claw, and spittle and rum covered his t-shirt. I said hello, but predictably didn’t get a response.

To mix things up a bit, Elliot, Sam and I sat on the sofa and watched reruns of professional Starcraft matches. I took my first swill of bitter. It tasted like a pheasant’s stomach lining, but I managed to keep it down. Things continued much the same for several hours. When all the bitter and half the Jim Bean was gone, Sam suggested we watch some conspiracy documentaries.

“No thank you, I’d rather not” I said, or something to that effect.

Sam wouldn’t be deterred no matter how much we grovelled, begged or bribed. He put on a great and excellent factual documentary that I recommend you all see, called The Pyramid Code. Mercy mercy what an EXCELLENT AND FACTUAL DOCUMENTARY.

Emotions were running high. Jack and Sam had consumed an entire bottle of 90 proof rum, and had started helping themselves to the JB. I was dribbling languidly, jabbering, and making wild hand gestures to try and convey – what I thought at the time –  was a well-rounded argument against the documentary, backed up with a relevant verbal bibliography. Elliot was so engrossed in the debate that he had dropped a slice of pizza onto his lap half an hour previously. The slice had hardened so thoroughly that it remained stuck to the front of his trousers even as he jumped up and down on the sofa beating his chest like a nervous baboon. Jack was wielding a pool cue and getting tribal with it. He was shaking it around and chanting some kind of mantra, his eyes glazed over, barefoot.

Despite the foul scene the rest of us made, Sam was the worst. His jaw was gurning violently as if he’d snorted fifteen grams of pure ecstasy. His eyes were half closed, and all could be seen beneath the lids was a crimson crescent moon of hate and rage. His hair stood on end as if back-combed by a sociopathic barber working his last shift. Out of his mouth came such a stream of raw sewage I feel embarrassed even to repeat it in text. Slaves never existed…giant’s punching holes through pyramids…mind control…

Finally we exhausted ourselves without coming to any mutual understanding or conclusion. We settled the matter like men – through the delicate art of arm wrestling. I lost every single one, and the final straw came when Jack tore my hand clean off. I just had time to see him toss it, still twitching, onto the pool table and expertly pocket it before I passed out…