Then a wind blows through the arena, extinguishing the flames of the torches, plunging the debating ring into total darkness. Nervous whispers ripple through the crowd before we are silenced by thunderous footsteps. Even though I can see nothing, I know he’s here. The man I am convinced wants to kill me. Johan the Barbarian. A scream pierces the silence and I know, somehow, somewhere in my bones, that Archimedes is dead (not that I am too bothered, he had the brain of an infant in any case). Somewhere a torch is lit and through the gloom I see him standing over Archimedes body, a huge axe in one hand and Archimedes decapitated head in the other. The other philosophers panic and begin to run, but I know what’s coming. There is no escape. Like the wolf who sees his prey turn and flee Johan lets out a battle cry of “Comintaemeyabassas!” and charges into the crowd. I fall to my knees, clutching my head in despair and close my eyes. The screams echo and reverberate in the debating hall.
With a jolt I awaken, the screams of my peers and compatriots still resonate in my mind and I sit straight up in bed, tears streaming down my face and onto my Pantene-soft beard. I see that I have wet the bed (again) and decide to get up. It’s almost dawn anyway and time for the birds morning lessons.
After I educate the wildlife about the importance of Ethical as well as Scientific knowledge, as taught by Plato, I shower. The Pantene rinses the bird poo from my hair and the salty tears from my beard and I ponder how well the Islamic philosophers such as Al-Kindi and Avicenna had re-interpreted the Greek Philosophies after the fall of the Roman empire. I mull over this as I dress in my training gear and head to Lennoxtown.
When I arrive at Lennoxtown, I am flummoxed as to why the car park seems to be empty, except for an oxen cart which is missing it’s oxen. I check my calendar and confirm that it’s not match day and I’ve turned up to training by mistake. Sure enough it’s Monday as I suspected. I approach the entrance with some trepidation and gingerly push open the door. The corridors are totally empty. The silence is deafening. However the smell of roasted boar permeates the air and I follow my nose through the maze of corridors till I find the source. The team dressing room, which has had its plaque ripped off and in its place, scrawled in blood, are the words “Johan’s Lair”.
I mutter a prayer of protection to Zeus and cautiously push open the door. The vision before me is totally terrifying. The tiles that once covered and adorned the floor and walls have been smashed to pieces. Where the team used to shower is now a roaring bonfire upon which a family of boar slowly roast like a giant kebab. In the centre of the room, atop a pile of bones (I’m sure I can see a Rangers top in there), sits a throne, and on that throne sits Johan.
He looks to be asleep, his golden locks dangle down over his face. He is dressed in his usual garb of a wolf skin over battle armour and in his right hand, as always, is his trusty battle axe – Helga. I decide that since he hasn’t seen me, I should be able to sneak out and head home. As I move to exit Johan’s Lair I step on some scattered Ox Ribs, which crack under my heel. Johan’s head snaps upright and in an instant he is on me, his axe held to my throat. I whimper in fear. The sickly sweet smell of mead hangs on his breath.
A look of recognition flashes across his handsome, chiselled features. “Oh, it’s you Zorba, ya Greek pansy, ” he says, “I thought that the dragon had returned to finish me off.”
“D-d-dragon?” I whisper.
“Yes, the great metal dragon that came with a hiss, belching smoke from its rear. Its wheels clothed in rubber, it had already swallowed a man and displayed him within its transparent headlike some horrid trophy.” It was then that I remembered we were to partake in a mornings sprint training, masterminded by Lenny, which involved us travelling by coach to the Louden Tavern and pishing on the outside of it, before setting a bag of poo alight and shouting “Up the Celts” through the door before running as fast as possible back to Celtic Park, avoiding being caught by irate, drunken uns with jobbies all over their Kickers.
Johan continued, “They were all gathered in the car park…It swallowed the lot of them, all the villagers – Broony, Loovensh…Shaun…poor little Shaun…he never stood a chance. They all walked right into its open maw, joking and laughing…Naylor even managed to sneak the new female masseuse with him…I pursued the wretched beast down the road. I struck it with Helga as best I could, but it just kept on going. Eventually my barbarian legs couldn’t keep up and it began to pull away. I could see Little Shaun’s face at the window, he was smiling at me and waving…poor,innocent child-like Shaun…he had no idea…” He began to weep there and then, and for an instant I saw a sliver of humanity. Perhaps he is a real human being after all and not some incredibly powerful stereotype of Viking ancestry? He put his muscular arm around me and wept onto my Pantene soft hair. “I cried to Odin, why? Why let that metallic beast take them. They were all so young…so…young…”
“It’ll be okay Johan, “ I assured him, “what you saw, the…dragon…was a coach. It took them for the day out to train…at the Louden…remember?”
He looked at me then, desperation and hope in his eyes. “Coach?” he pleaded, “…training?..then…then they’re all alive?”
“Praise be to Thor!” he exclaimed and slammed the back of my favourite head against the wall. “Praise Odin’s mighty beard.”
I smiled, relieved that I will probably survive my encounter with Johan.
“Well, okay then, seeing as you’re alright and everything…I’ll be on my way.” I turned and made to exit. A powerful hand thudded on my shoulder.
“Since you’re here, pansy…it’s training time.”