SHORT STORY: The Book of Norman by Nick Morrish
And this is the account of Norman and the Flood of Biblical Proportions.
For Norman was a righteous man – he made no graven images, coveted not his neighbour’s ox, and was faithful unto his wife, forsaking all others.
Therefore, one day the wife of Norman came unto him and said: ‘I am with child again.’
And Norman counted the rooms of his house and the number of his children and saw that they were the same.
And the children wailed and gnashed their teeth at the prospect of sharing, one with another.
‘Fear not!’ said Norman unto his many sons and daughters. ‘For I am a builder of houses and I shall build a large family home by the river bank, where my forefathers have long grazed their oxen and stored their unused farm machinery.’
And Norman spake unto the council and they replied: ‘Nay, thou shalt not build upon land which lies within the flood plain of the Sacred River Meon.
‘For this is a wetland habitat wherein liveth the otter and the newt and numerous other precious creatures.’
But Norman went forth and greeted some amongst them with a certain handshake and crossed their palms with gold and, lo, his plans became flesh.
And the Lord God looked down upon them and was greatly angered by such corruption and greed and weak planning regulations.
For seven days and seven nights he rained torrents from the heavens until even the very ducks were displeased.
And the rivers did rise and the drains did overflow and there was much consternation amongst those dwelling in attractive riverside locations.
On the seventh day, Norman looked out upon the flood plain and saw no land but that upon which his dwelling stood.
And yeah, his downstairs toilet was as a fountain and his sink ranneth over.
Water filled the house that Norman had built, even unto the hand-crafted kitchen units and solid oak flooring.
Norman railed against the heavens and swore to rid his dwelling of unclean waters.
He surrounded his house with bags of sand and sealed his doors with many products recommended by experts and celebrities in equal measure. He called for a mighty pump to empty the water from within his house and into the stream below.
But lo, the stream was filled to its utmost limits and the faster he pumped the faster the stream rose, until the waters of the stream came to the very threshold of his dwelling.
Therefore, Norman called unto his diggers of earth to go forth to a certain bridge crossing the stream and accidentally-on-purpose break it utterly.
Thus did the waters of the stream flow freely to the river beyond.
But lo, the river was filled to its utmost limits and the faster the stream flowed, the faster the river rose, until the waters of the river came to the very threshold of his dwelling.
Therefore, Norman mounted his four-wheel-drive pick-up truck and drove unto the sea and spake thus unto the Keeper of the Flood Gates: ‘Open the gates forthwith for my home is beset by the river: I cannot receive High Definition Television and my toilet flusheth not.’
Norman crossed the palm of the keeper with silver and the keeper opened the flood gates so that the water should flow into the mighty sea. But lo, the sea was filled to its utmost limits and the faster the river flowed, the faster the sea rose, until the waters of the sea came to the very threshold of his dwelling.
And Norman was greatly afeared for he did not wish the salt water to corrode his pick-up truck, and also some amongst his children could not swim.
Therefore, he drove forth to the Master of the Marina and crossed his palm with bronze and commanded him: ‘Give unto me a boat, the greatest that you have – a mighty vessel, at least thirty cubits long.
‘Such a ship shall bear every generation of my family, and also two of each kind of animal that walk upon the earth.’
And the master said unto him: ‘Nay, I shall not do this, Norman, for thou art not worthy. I had such a vessel, but the Lord bade me to make an offering of it unto the Zoological Gardens of Marwell.
‘Thou art indeed cursed by God and, therefore, I will not sell to you even the meanest dingy that lieth upon the mud next to the sewage outfall.’
So Norman cursed the master and returned to his home in great anger wherein he discovered an epistle proclaiming that his wife had cast off her wedding vows and departed with their children and also a sailor of the Gosport Ferry.
And thus Norman was alone and the waters of the sea continued to rise and he was sorely troubled.
Therefore, Norman proclaimed unto himself, ‘The seer, Dave, hath oft shown me a vision wherein three unwise men did transform their truck into an amphibious craft and I shall do likewise.’
But scarcely had he begun this task when a mighty wave struck his house.
For it is written in the records of the Checker of Trades that Norman had but one star and many said he was unfit to build even the meanest cowshed.
Therefore did his walls collapse and his roof fall in and crush him utterly.
And the waves washed away the house of Norman and bore him and all his works out to sea. ‘And serveth him right’, sayeth the Lord.
And thereafter the clouds did part, and the sun dried the waters of the floods.
All rejoiced and cried ‘Praise be!’, except for those who had not purchased adequate insurance of the house.
And thus endeth the Book of Norman.
For as ye sow, so shall ye reap and assuredly it is written that he who buildeth upon the flood plain, shall plainly be flooded.
Nick Morrish is a chartered engineer who often writes stories and poems while working offshore, and is currently working on a crime novel set on an oil rig.