Just when I thought I’d seen all sorts, Janet Davies thought as she approached her desk after her coffee break.
There was a large man in what looked like a fancy dress costume sat across her desk waiting for her. Mangy collection of furs and bits of armour, all covered in mud and what looked like dried blood. As was his double-headed, two handed axe. Beneath the plaited beard and the braided hair, was an almost child-like excitement.
“Sorry to keep you I’m Miss Davies. I’ll be processing your asylum application. Just some paperwork to fill in, then we can assess your claim. Would you mind putting the battleaxe down, please? Thank you. Name?”
“No, Th’Rid’El B’Ongh.”
“OK. Unusual. Can you spell that for me please?”
“Capital T, h, apostrophe, capital R, i, d, apostrophe -”
Janet flipped the paper around and handed him the biro, which he examined curiously.
“Yes. Why don’t you just write it there. Top box. Thank you.
She took back the paper and pen.
“Any other names?”
“No, of Kla’Arghe. Th’Rid’El B’Ongh of Kla’Arg.”
Janet couldn’t work out if it was East Asian, Sub-Saharan African or whether this chap was actually one of those fantasy role-players pulling her leg.
“Can you spell that for me?”
“Capital K, l, a, apostrophe -”
She flipped the paper again. It would be lunchtime before she finished with this one.
“Yes, just write your surname in the second box. Thanks. And, just to confirm, you are seeking asylum in the United Kingdom?”
Janet ticked the box.
“And what are you seeking asylum from?”
“The Dark Lord Morgh Ho’Gh’loth.”
“The Dark Lord Morgh Ho’Gh’loth. Do you want me to spell that?”
She gave him the pen.
“Just write it in the third box.”
“And on what grounds are you seeking asylum?”
“These grounds. Right here.”
“No, why do you need asylum. What is the threat to your person?”
Mister Thriddlebong looked nervous and leaned forward.
“It’s not a threat. The Dark Lord always does what he says.”
“Which is what exactly?”
“Eviscerate me and send my soul to the Dark God Y’Uk S’Orrible on the ninth plane of Gehenna, where it will languish in untold agony for all eternity.”
“I see. I’ll just put ‘threat to life’. And where have you come from?”
“The Realm of Hastulas on the fourth plane.”
“You arrived by plane?”
“No. By portal.”
“Big swirly thing. You step through a gateway in time and space from one realm to another.”
Janet quietly ticked ‘illegal entry.’ in the section of the form marked ‘office use only’.
“And where is this portal?” she asked, expecting the answer to be Dover.
“You don’t want to leave it open, otherwise the Dark Lord and his undead horde would pour through and subjugate your United Kingdom.”
He’s into role playing and zombies. Great.
“So you opened a portal -”
“Not me. Ar’Ro’Wand the Silver. The greatest sorcerer of our age.”
There we go, people trafficking. Another referral to the Border Agency.
“So you had help coming to the UK. And where is he or she now? ”
“Eviscerated by the Dark Lord Morgh Ho’Gh’loth and her soul sent to the Dark God Y’Uk S’Orrible on the ninth plane of Gehenna where it will languish – ”
“In untold agony for all eternity? Of course. Can you just hold on a moment, Mister Klarg…”
Janet didn’t have the patience for this. She picked up the phone on speed-dial.
“Kevin, can you come up for a second. I’ve got another one. Thanks.”
“It’s Th’Rid’El B’Ongh. Kla’Arg is my village. I must say, I’m really excited to be in a United Kindgom. I’ve never been to one before. Our realm is in a state of constant warfare and turmoil.”
“I really wouldn’t get your hopes up, Mister Thriddlebong. Not since Brexit. ”
The door from the stairs opened and a familiar figure approached Janet’s desk.
“Ah, Kevin, that was quick, thanks for coming up -”
At the sight of Kevin, Thiddlebong jumped up in alarm.
“No! What have you done? He can’t be here!”
Thriddlebong was brandishing his enormous axe. What were security thinking letting him upstairs with that?
“Mr Thriddlebong, this is Kevin from Audit. I think it best if he takes over your application.”
“No! This is the Dark Lord Morgh Ho’Gh’loth!”
Thriddlebong evidently had some mental health issues to deal with.
“No, this is Kevin Prentice, he works for the Home Office. I really think you should calm down Mr Thirddlebong.
Will you please sit down and put down the axe.”
“The Dark Lord is here! Your United Kingdom will be overrun!”
“Let’s not have any of that UKip nonsense. Please, calm down Mister Thriddlebong. Kevin, will you explain -”
But the voice that interrupted her did not come from a mild-mannered auditor from Carshalton. It was a huge, booming voice that echoed through the office and brought all conversation to a stop.
“Th’Rid’El B’Ongh of Kla’Arg is correct. I is I, Morgh Ho’Gh’loth, Dark Lord of the Undead Horde of Y’Uk S’Orrible. It is I who encompasses your doom!”
As he spoke, ‘Kevin’ underwent a transformation. ‘Kevin’ was now seven feet tall, clad head to foot in black robes with a face like a prehistoric lizard. From somewhere, a gnarled oak staff topped with a glowing crystal skull materialised in his hand.
“Kevin, what’s happened to you voice and why’s your face gone all scaley? ”
With a threatening hiss and the flick of a forked tongue, the figure replied.
“Kevin was on the toilet when I came through the portal. He is now… merged. ”
“I don’t think his wife is going to like the sound of that,” Janet heard herself saying. Just when she thought she’d seen and heard it all.
Thriddlebong gallantly leaped in front of her, brandishing the axe.
“How did you get here, Morgh Ho’Gh’loth?” he demanded.
“Did you think that Ar’Ro’Wand could keep the secrets of the portals from me? Even now my undead horde is pouring through to take this realm.”
Janet pushed the startled Thriddlebong to one side.
She really couldn’t let the claimants think they were in charge of the conversation. It was basic civil service training.
“Realm? This isn’t a realm, this is Croydon. Kevin will you stop messing about. It’s not even Halloween.”
Even as she said it, Janet realised she was dealing with something entirely unprecedented. And this creature looked nothing like Kevin any more.
“I am not Kevin. I command the undead horde.”
“Oh yes, so where are they?”
The Dark Lord abruptly looked more than a little sheepish – as far as Janet could tell from his lizard-like features.
“They’re stuck in the gents on the third floor. The doorway is rather narrow and they’re backed up in the portal.”
“The plumbing’s never been very good in this building. I should call maintenance.”
Plumbing? Janet Davies, what are you thinking?! She pulled herself together.
“So no ‘undead horde’ arriving any time soon?”
Janet suddenly wondered if there wasn’t a hidden camera somewhere in the office. Perhaps the lizard-sorcerer from planet Zog would open his robes to reveal Ant and Dec operating the thing by wires?
Hogloth shrank slightly with embarrassment.
“Well in that case Mister… Hogloth? This is the Asylum Department of the Home Office. Do you wish to claim asylum?”
Hogloth was clearly unused to impertinent demands.
Janet tried again.
“Are you under any threat to your person for which you wish to claim asylum from Her Majesty’s Government?”
“Threat? Well, there is the Dark God, Y’Uk S’Orrible who wishes to enslave all of the Known Realms.”
There – something Janet could get a handle on.
“Modern slavery. There we go. You may well have a good case to make a claim. Now if you’ll take a number from the machine at the back and have a seat, I’ll just deal with Mister Thriddlebong and I’ll be right with you.”
Hogloth seemed genuinely surprised.
“Oh. Thank you very much.”
© Robin Catling, 2020
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