Dead Cat - the work of Matthew Gaffen


Fool Of The World

I started my 'Zine project II' and after a lot of brain wracking decided to base it upon the old Russian Folk Tale 'The Fool Of The World And The Flying Ship'.

The text follows;



Once upon a time there lived the great and ruthless Czar Nikolai, king of all the Russias. His daughter, the beautiful princess Alexeya, was courted by royalty from all over the land with offerings of fantastic wealth. But she rejected every one; wanting only to marry the man she loved.

In desperation, Alexeya said that she would only marry the suitor who brought her father the gift of a flying ship. Although this aggravated her father, she insisted until he sent a decree saying so across the land.

a poor peasant family lived deep in the forests of Russia. Pyotr was the youngest, and a quiet boy. His two older brothers often bullied him; they called him stupid; even his mother occasionally called him the fool of the world.

The two eldest brothers heard of the decree and told their parents. They provided the brothers with all the family’s savings, rich food and corn brandy for the journey. Unfortunately, although both the brothers were smart, they were also terribly corrupt, and quickly squandered their supplies through drinking and gambling.

Days passed, until eventually young Pyotr insisted that he also went out on a journey to find his brothers and the ship. His parents begrudgingly honoured his wish and provided him with some black bread, water and the only meat they had left in the house, some pickings from a roast chicken.

Pyotr set off with his meagre supplies, happy to at least have the bright blue sky above, and shoes on his feet. He hadn’t travelled far when he bumped into a crooked old man who asked him if he could spare any of his precious food. Pyotr handed him his pack, but warned him to expect very little.

The old man inspected the sack. ‘Not much!’ he said. ‘Why, there’re two whole roast chickens, two white loves, and a flask of beer in here!’ and sure enough, there was! Together they shared the feast, whilst Pyotr told the man the story of his two brothers and Czar’s decree.

Eventually the old man had to leave, but assured Pyotr that he was sure he would find the ship. However, he warned, if such good fortune should befall him - the captain must never refuse passage to someone who asks, no matter who they were. His words hung in Pyotr’s ears as he drifted off to sleep.

When Pyotr awoke a glittering ship made of ice hung before him, in the shape of a giant dove! As he boarded, it took off and he steered it toward the Czar’s palace.

It wasn’t long before he met his first passenger, who was pointing a gun at some distant target. He introduced himself as sharpshooter, and claimed his aim was so good that he could hit any target, at any. Distance.

The next person to stop the magical craft hopped up on one leg - the other firmly bound double. He claimed that if untied, even the fastest bullet would not catch him. Pyotr didn’t know whether to believe these people’s strange stories, but he knew he had to give a ride to anyone at all who asked.

Soon another man waved the ship down and quietly asked to board. He claimed that he had heard the ship touch off days ago at the beginning of his journey, and that his large ears allowed his to hear across miles of tundra even the faintest of sounds.

The ship was getting a little full by now, but even so Pyotr couldn’t help but stop for the next three people who asked for a ride. The first was an old farmer who farmed straw on a glacier. Indeed, the bail he kept on his back was so cold, Pyotr was surprised the old man didn’t have frostbite!

The second passenger was a forester with a large bundle of saplings, which he claimed were enchanted and could grow at incredible speed, he boarded alongside the third person, his wife who although took up the space of two passengers, made up for it with her good will, and abundant hamper of food and drink.

Singing and laughing and eating their fill, the rest of the journey to the palace seemed to take no time at all. Soon they were at the palace - but on arrival, the Czar was less than pleased to discover that his daughter’s future husband could be a mere peasant. Soon his great and terrible mind set about making an impossible task for his new guests. If they did not complete it, he would banish them from the palace, leaving Nikolai with the ship.

Eventually, the Czar decided to host a huge banquet for his new guests. However, he warned, if they did not finish every last scrap of food and drink, they would be banished from the land. As the table filled up Pyotr’s heart sunk, but the forester’s wife only licked her lips.

Soon the new friends realised how big the forester’s wife’s appetite really was – swallowing whole platefuls of food in one – without chewing! Swiftly the banquet was consumed, until soon the table was completely empty.

The friends from the flying ship congratulated each other for a job well done, gave a special round of applause to the forester’s wife and a sense of calm drifted over them. However it didn’t last long, as the listener overheard the Czar’s dastardly next plan - a bath so hot it would boil the friends alive!

Pyotr’s heart sunk for a second time, however the farmer told him not to worry: ‘my straw will cool even the hottest of fires’ said he. He sneaked out of the group and cooled the fire with his straw. In the mean time, the friends in the bathhouse enjoyed one of the best washes of their lives!

The Czar was enraged to discover the peasants’ singing and laughing the morning after, and said that if they could not provide him with a bottle of water from the magical lake Balkai, by 12:00 noon they would all be beheaded. And it was already 11:55. A feeling of dread swept over them.

‘Oh no! Said Pyotr. We are all surely done for!’ however, lightning got up, and finally requested for his leg to be untied. Before the rope had left his foot, he was a retreating speck in the distance. In fact he got there so quickly, and so early, he decided to have a nap…

When it had reached 11:59, lightning had still not returned and the friend’s started to worry. The listener cocked his ear, and said he could hear the lightning’s snores.

At this point, sharpshooter stepped up an asked to listener to point him in the right direction. He stared off into the distance until he caught sight of lightning - and released a shot that landed inches above his head at the first strike of twelve! The thud woke lightning up and he got back by the last!

The Czar realised how difficult it was going to be to give his guests an impossible challenge, and so said they would be forcefully ejected that night, explaining that without an army, young Pyotr would not be able to defend Alexeya as her husband. On hearing this, Alexeya sneaked out of the palace in disguise to meet with Pyotr.

She told his she was the princesses’ serving maid, and asked for a ride in the ship. They flew far above the palace as he told his story to her, and soon they realised they were in love. Pyotr promised that he would do anything he could to see her again, whatever it took.

That night they were forced out of the palace by the guards, without the ship. Pyotr thought that all was lost, and that he would never see the serving maid again! However, the forester asked for the friends to trust him, and asked for their help planting his magical saplings. So the friends set about planting all the saplings around the palace and then went to bed.

The next morning the Czar awoke to discover that a magical army surrounded the palace! He looked out the window and saw them shake their terrifying wooden limbs. Knowing he was outnumbered, he allowed Pyotr and his friends back into the palace – as long as the wooden soldiers stayed outside.

The friends approached the Czar’s throne, and Pyotr told him his demands. He said that he could never marry the daughter of such a man, but asked for her serving maid’s hand instead. The Czar was at first confused, then insulted when he saw Pyotr point at his only daughter, but she rushed to his arms. His friends added that their only demand was to continue to live at the palace and serve the Czar with their many talents.

Surrounded by an army, the Czar had no choice but to honour Pyotr, his friends, and Alexeya’s wishes. Soon Alexeya and Pyotr were wed, Pyotr’s poor parents moved in with him, and his brothers, who had eventually come back home and apologised for their lies. The wedding was the happiest day on their lives, and they danced late into the night.

And they all lived happily forever more.

The end.

This project never came to fruition. I'm not sure if I'll return to it, however I do  recommend checking the animated short based on it, as it is really well made. Youtube

1 comment:

  1. hellllllllllllllllo petalllll.
    noice blog.
    fffffffancy it.
    r u ready for our last term?
    lav from that girl in ur class that always talks about oregami famillies.


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