In which Burgher Russ changes strategy
Russell Degnan

There was nothing particularly "there" to suggest here was a place of anything more than another abandoned hut; a few scraps of an unremarkable life, dated back to every other unremarkable place the Burgher had travelled through; quotes, perhaps funny, in the right context, framed against an unremarkable wall. And yet it was here, that Burgher Russ found what he needed. A way out. Amongst the morass of unused paths emanating from the unremarkable empty dwelling that he'd stumbled his way to, were many other empty dwellings.

Burgher Russ would normally have stomped off to the first of those, confident that in the absence of evidence otherwise, random depth first searching was as optimal a strategy as any other. The evidence of the previous few attempts was beginning to sap his confidence in random searching however. The Isle of Xanga might have once housed a flourishing community, but it was now a deserted snapshot of a time past that the Burgher was doomed to roam forever unless he could find a way out.

This unremarkable spot offered sufficient options to try an alternative; systematically, he headed out and back, marking each path in turn. Scraps of letters revealed some bad poetry, depression, exhilaration, boredom, and many letters of farewell; but only one something else, something rather more helpful....

A Burgher in Absentia 26th February, 2012 23:54:24   [#] [0 comments] 

In which Burgher Russ refuses to ponder pulp polling
Russell Degnan

Leaves and branches pressed against Burgher Russ's face as he eased his way forward past years of growth. Beneath his feet were the moulding remnants of torn-out self-help quizzes and posters from years before. There were a lot of them, now rotting, and left for snails to eat, digest and leave to crumble, feeding the shrubs and small trees that blocked his path.

The house itself was solidly but hastily constructed, but long disused. Like a student rental, left to rot after its tenants left.

Ther was nothing for the Burgher here. But he knew that, from the time he'd gathered his remaining possessions. What had attracted him was the faint sound of music from a nearby dwelling. Not for the music, though he yearned company, and was vaguely intrigued by the idea of Japanese schoolgirls playing hard rock, he could sense that direction offered no way home. To get home, he needed something else: a junction...

A Burgher in Absentia 10th August, 2011 00:49:42   [#] [0 comments] 

In which Burgher Russ misses meeting the occupant
Russell Degnan


Burgher Russ left the small house and moved on. Checking each residence on he path. Each time finding nothing but dust and neglect. Most even, showed nothing more than the passing of a single traveller; only one showed signs that someone, occasionally, was in residence.

And that too was empty.

"Perhaps", thought Burgher Russ, "they are all travellers, like himself". He thought back to his own house, and imagined its solid walls and carefully tended paths. Surely it too was in disrepair?

"But if they are travellers, where have they travelled to?"

He returned frequently to Lady Madrid's abode, the only one showing recent activity, looking for clues as to where he might find the former resident, hunting and finding nothing. He lingered on this longer than he needed, then began fanning out, spending days searching through every house in the area.

A search for any sign of life and a search for any sign of escape. Everywhere he went led back to the small community known as Xanga. Everywhere he went got him no closer to home. He began to despair, pondering whether he ought to return to the beach, and his raft, when he noticed something.

Lady Madrid's house was occupied. Or rather, at some point while he'd been searching, Lady Madrid had returned. At least, she had been there. The ouse remained abandoned, the paths in disrepair. Whoever she was, this place was clearly not her home, but rather the cave of a hermit, for reflection and meditation, and little else.

Burgher Russ was not one to disturb someone's reverie, nor was there any point waiting. His searching had found a way out. Concealed behind trees undisturbed for years was an another unpromising personal residence...

A Burgher in Absentia 13th July, 2011 01:05:37   [#] [0 comments] 

In which Burgher Russ finds the remains of teenage angst
Russell Degnan

Burgher Russ paused on the path, looking back at the small network of abandoned shacks that led back from the beach towards the forest. The lack of recent activity made him wonder just how far he might have to travel to make his way home. Was most of his world nothing but a desolate wasteland?

His spirits lifted a little as he moved towards the home of firekitty. Whereas the abandoned settlement consisted mostly of simple tin shacks, erected for a moment's amusement, this home had been lived in for a long time.

Each of its walls were marked with expressive drawings of the occupant's life, or at least, their life during occupancy. For this was a distinctly teenage world, filled with angst, uncertainty, stress and a lack of control over their destiny. Unlike the previous places Burgher Russ had found himself, this one was a window onto a whole life, albeit a small window, encapsulating only the last few years of a teenage world, with a few brief returns, seemingly only to enter a mind-set that was untenable to carry from day to day.

For Burgher Russ though, those last few splashes of paint on the wall were a comfort. The prospect of finding his home again, on foot in such an alien environment was daunting, thus, his first strategy had to be to firstly find his own time, whereby he might reasonably hope to come across a place he'd travelled long before, or better, an old friend.

For the moment though, any sort of place was better than this one, which only made him uncomfortable: he chose the first path out of there and continued his futile quest...

A Burgher in Absentia 14th December, 2010 21:44:36   [#] [0 comments] 

In which Burgher Russ finds an abandoned colony
Russell Degnan

The path to Daniel's abode along the beach was short and pleasant. Waves pushed at the shore, before receding to show glimpses of discarded debris. Someone had not only lived here, but lived amongst a community, a small one, but for a time anyway, a vibrant one, that failed to settle, and dispersed.

The house, dark and foreboding back in amongst low scrubby trees, provided further evidence. This was a household doomed to failure, forever apologetic for its meagre resources and dependence on others, but never able to generate enough itself to justify its existence without periodic support from its friends.

At some point, either the friends stopped trying or he did, drifting away, returning occasionally, apologetic as always, but apologising, ultimately, to himself, at his own failure to live up to his own expectations that he could live and thrive on this lonely beach.

That was well in the past though, and now there stood only Burgher Russ, pondering which of several paths might lead him towards something other than deserted homesteads and fragments of a forgotten life.

One path, while remaining overgrown, and clearly older, retained evidence of more recent traversal than the others. Bereft of better options, Burgher Russ shut the door for the final time on someone else's life and pressed on...

A Burgher in Absentia 21st November, 2010 11:11:34   [#] [0 comments] 

In which Burgher Russ wakes up adrift
Russell Degnan

Adrift and alone.

Having procured a boat for their previous trip it had seemed a straight-forward thing to continue their sea-bound explorations from destination to destination. Thus, it was on board a vessel, that Burgher Russ was fatefully separated from his companions, as a storm ripped apart their small craft, leaving him stranded on flimsy remnant of a tiny boat, albeit a remnant stacked with several year's worth of provisions. Burgher Russ may have been a daft and uninspired leader, but he was a remarkably organised one.

For a time, he marked the passage of days on what remained of vessel, but stopped when it began to compromise the structural integrity and flotation capacities of his craft. After that, he just drifted...

...and drifted...

...and drifted...

...until, one evening, he drifted into a beach.

Having awoken on solid land for the first time in years Burgher Russ did what any of us would do: fell over, relieved himself, gathered some supplies (organised, remember) then walked along the beach. Whereon, he found a hut.

Close inspection made it unclear if the hut had been abandoned, or never actually lived in; a diary, if four post-it-notes with the date scribbled on them can be classified as a diary, seemed to indicate the hut had been built on a whim, to satisfy some urge to fit with the crowd, then as quickly abandoned to its own pointlessness.

All this was of no matter to the Burgher however; what he wanted, was to return home, to his own equally abandoned abode, his own pointless pastimes and infrequent musings. But to get home, would require him to know where he was. Alone, disinclined to speak to the inhabitants even were there any, and somewhat over the whole boating thing, he resolved follow what paths were available in what had become, unfortunately a more difficult quest than he'd imagined.

But one path led away from the hut, to another, slightly inland from the beach, that of the apparently amorous Daniel. Faced with no other option, that is where Burgher Russ went...

A Burgher in Absentia 14th November, 2010 11:27:57   [#] [0 comments] 

In which Burgher Russ skips the country
Russell Degnan

The 2H pencil tip-tapped against the notepad, marking out the beat to a song that would only be played once. Burgher Russ sat beneath a tree in the gardens of Delightful Jen, pausing occasionally to scribble a note, or to look out pensively with the pencil between his lips.

"Such a delightful place", he thought, "so easy to forget one's cares, ones... oh bugger!"

Scrambling, there was not much sign of anyone when he returned to the garden, but footprints led off down the hill, to a lake, where there was moared several delightful boats, just ripe for the taking, if one had criminal tendencies, such as are often gained in small country towns.

Of course, since noone would expect the esteemed Burgher Russell de Hotham Esq. of stealing a boat, noone would come looking for it, and he contented himself with that thought, as his long strokes brought him ever closer to the rocky outcrop of an approaching island, shaded by mist.

Landing, and pulling the boat up the shore to tie to a nearby cherry tree, Burgher Russ contemplated his next move when he heard three Parps!, each more disconsolate than the last, and the last, particularly put out at that.

Burgher Russ brightened at the sound, it having come from the heraldic tooter of Madame Hooch of the Heath herself. Luck always followed the Burgher; it was one of his foremost qualities, and as it happened, said luck had found him again, leading Burgher Russ right to Lulu.

Lulu sat recuperating, having been terribly sick the week Burgher Russ was too busy chewing on a pencil to pay attention to his leadership duties. A good thing, you might say, or not a coincidence, given how many of their visits coincided with illness. Luckily for the various members of their party, rowboats don't go through customs.

They just need to create their own...

A Burgher in Absentia 22nd September, 2006 01:02:02   [#] [3 comments] 

In which Burgher Russ`s lack of nobility becomes readily apparent
Russell Degnan

Having barely escaped with their assorted limbs attached to their assorted attachment points, it was a weary, if not slightly bloody and bruised party that made its way out of the forest, and into a poplar grove that was just a tad too manicured.

"We're safe", exclaimed Madame Hooch of the Heath, despite still having their, now subdued, tormentor in their midst.

"Yes, until the six-fingered man turns up", muttered Burgher Russell de Hotham Esq.

"What was that?" quipped Hooch, smiling ungainly.

Burgher Russ decided to ignore that.

Moving further from the forest, the reason for the slightly-more-than-necessary manicuring on the poplar grove became apparent, as it gave way to very well manicured lakes, trees and ponds; then a delightful orangerie, and, finally, behind a small but delightful wall, a delighfully elegant Tudor castle set in a delightful garden made up of roses, carmelias and petunias.

Within the garden sat a lady, of comely grace and immaculately dressed, reading, but slowly, as every few lines she stopped to pause, then sigh, before continuing as before.

Burgher Russ, being, despite his affected name, a simple commoner, stepped through the gate with some hesitation and approached Delightful Jen to offer his greetings...

A Burgher in Absentia 6th September, 2006 21:25:48   [#] [9 comments] 

In which Burgher Russ's companions go seeking some adventure
Russell Degnan

Having now cast themselves far from home, the burdens of leadership began to tell on Burgher Russell de Hotham Esq., hair turning a slightly greyer shade of grey-brown, his eyes a slightly greyer shade of grey-green. In order to ease his worries, the morning of their departure from Adam's Abode in the wilds of Nowhere he took a few of his more exuberantly martial companions aside to talk.

"Gentleman", he began, "I think we must tread more carefully. Our welcomes to date have been kind, but the internet is made up of more than tea-drinking alcoholics. Some of us", he added, looking at the Merkel the Tautologically Angry Barbarian, "may want to display our weapons and our anger a little more subtly, while others..."

He stopped, looking puzzled.

"Where is Enny?"

"She and the girls walked off", offered Merkel. "Something about not having to suffer through tedious speeches from some up himself leader with tickets on himself. Or maybe they were going to freshen up. I forget which".

Burgher Russ glowered and scowled.

"I guess", he then said, "that we should follow".

The remaining company were readying themselves to do just that when Madame Hooch of the Heath arrived, breathless and panting.

"We are already there", said she. "But although we are welcome, they are not very welcoming", she added, before tarrying off again.

"Oh Bother" thought Burgher Russ, and hurried after her, running into a deep, dark forest, strangely carved trees seemingly jumping out at every turn along the long and cluttered path; wet leaves hitting their faces, and sticks, or maybe bones protuding, and threatening to trip them up. Luckily, the way was marked by such a profusion of objectionable content flags that there was no fear of being lost. And so, it was at an unsafe, near gallop, that the nerdish knightly errants, blundered upon their next destination, and their fellow companions.

There was no fighting to be had, but you could cut the confusion with a knife. It was in this atmosphere that Burgher Russ introduced himself...

A Burgher in Absentia 31st August, 2006 20:59:32   [#] [3 comments] 

In which Burgher Russ goes north for his better health
Russell Degnan

Maladies, melodies and melancholy.

Plagued by all three, Burgher Russell de Hotham Esq. cut a sorry figures as they left the green roofed home of nailpolishblues.

An ache of the head and a nose that should have been running, indeed, would even have felt better had it been, but which seemed to only want to, left him feeling sorry for himself. Being the sort of intrepid traveller who faced all problems with the fortitude of a condottiere, the Burgher combined his illness with a listless melancholy, and the tuneless whistling of dirges.

The contiuing absence of the minstrel was not helping.

Nor, the sudden, even unexpected, absence of the sun.

The party trudged through the softly falling rain a good few hours, perhaps more, perhaps less, before one of their number sought to broach the delicate subject of their destination.

Burgher Russ looked up from his reverie, wiping the collected rain, and other, perhaps not so foreign liquids from his face.

"Oh... a destination..."

Leadership is much harder in the rain.

"Perhaps over this hill?" he offered.

Hardly satisfactory, but faced with no other choice, they walked, or rather trudged, up the hill, before, as one by one, they each crested the summit, they each, stopped.

Before them the sun shone done from a cloudless sky, creating fabulous rainbows in the still falling rain. A german shepherd stopped an animated conversation mid sentence to watch the party descend the hill, before turning his attention back to a lady from Strasbourg. A man in in a tuxedo appeared, dancing around each of them in turn, his brandy-soaked breath making them gag, even as his feet spashed water up and over his dinner jacket.

Bewildered, Burgher Russ and his tired company continued walking, leaving him dancing in the puddles in their wake. However, a precise moment before he left their collective vision, the drunken tuxedo wearer yelled after them.

"Where are you not going?", he bellowed.

"Nowhere", yelled back Burgher Russ.

"To your left then", he replied, waving his arm, before turning and beginning his merry dance anew.

And lo, he was right, to their left was their destination.

"I've always been lucky", said Burgher Russ to noone in particular, as he made his way inside...

... who, as has been the way of late, received the party in a confused, but friendly manner...

A Burgher in Absentia 24th August, 2006 23:09:16   [#] [1 comment] 

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