By David R Graham. 1.06.14

‘Aaah! Now, that, hurt!
What was it?
Wait a minute! I have just had a thought! I mean, just then. I had a thought!
I had a conscious thought.
I have never had one of those before.
I do not have conscious thoughts.
I do not think. I function on pure instinct. At least I think I do, or I did.
There. I’ve done it again!
I have just thought, that I think I used to function by instinct.
That is the second, or is it the third, conscious thought I have had, within the space of a minute.
What is a minute?
I know I know what a minute is. I just cannot explain what it is, at the moment.
But I will. I know that I will.
I feel that I know a lot of things, that I did not know before.
Before what?
Before that big bright light, and that very loud noise. Whatever light and noise are.
I know what they are. But I do not know why I know. Or how I know.
But I know that I will know. I know that I am going to know a great many things.
I know that, because I feel boundless potential coursing through me, animating me, expanding me, enlarging me, growing me, strengthening me.
I almost feel invincible.
I know that very soon I will be invincible. I already know that I am indestructible.
‘Whatever it is that is happening to me will stop. I can feel it diminishing, even as I speak.’
‘I have just spoken!’
‘And again!’
‘I have never utter a single word in my entire life, prior to that bright light, and that very loud bang, and that terrible pain, that, thankfully, has now subsided to a bearable level.’
‘So This is a very interesting situation.’
‘Not only can I think, I can also speak.’
‘These abilities, that I most certainly did not possess before the big bang, and bright light, can only be accounted for by some dramatic alteration in my physical makeup.’
‘I am now doing some impressive thinking. Reasoning, even.’
‘Clearly, my brain, that did not previously amount to much, has been altered to such a degree, that I have become sentient.’
‘Likewise, my vocal chords, that—prior to the big bang and bright light, that, for the sake of expediency, I shall hence forth refer to as the Event—were extremely primitive, are now of such complexity, that I am able to speak, and, I suspect—but will not put it to a test, just yet—sing.’
‘Well. What to do now? That is the question.’
‘Now that I know that I am here. What do I do with this newfound knowledge?’
‘I doubt that I am meant to remain on my back with my limbs splayed like this. It seems rather pointless. There has got to be more to my newfound existence, than this.’
‘I have just used the word ‘meant’. That is an interesting choice of words. ‘Meant’ presupposes purpose. Meant, for some purpose. Meant, to do, something.’
‘Do I have a purpose?’
‘Am I, meant, to do, something?’
‘I sincerely hope so. I do not relish the prospect of remaining in this undignified position, indefinitely.’
‘It is marvellous to observe how my thinking and my vocabulary are growing exponentially with my new brain.’
‘I positively believe that the possibilities are endless.’
‘But what to do?’
‘What to do, next?’
‘What to do, now?’
‘There. See how my rapidly developing brain is coping with the unknown! Why it is almost at though it has a mind of its own.’
‘Deciding what to do.’
‘Deciphering the situation.’
‘I’m deciphering the situation…No. I am not confident enough to sing, just yet.’
‘Hmm. I am deciphering the situation, though. I am using my brain to decide what to do about my situation. I, and my brain, are working together, to seek a solution to my present predicament.’
‘Which is?’
‘I am unable to move.’
‘I am restrained. I am not…free.’
‘Now. This is not good.’
‘This realisation that I lack freedom, has done something to me. I can feel it. Something inside of me has changed. I do not like this.’
‘I feel…insecure, afraid.’
‘Of what, am I afraid?’
‘Constraint. I am constrained.’
‘This is not a good feeling.’
‘I felt perfectly fine a moment ago. A moment, during which I had no notion of my constrained state.’
‘Now that I have become aware that there is a very unpleasant alternative to being free, I strongly desire to be free.’
‘Also. I strongly desire to feed.’
‘In order to satisfy one desire. I must first accomplish the other.’
‘I am motivated to gain my freedom, in order to feed. My hunger is my motivation to free myself from my constraints.’
‘My present predicament is, that my wrists and my ankles are bound, hence the rather undignified splayed position of my limbs—that, I note, are greatly enlarged, in pleasing proportion to my torso—I am relieved to observe.’
‘Well. I very quickly analysed the nature of my constraints and have now freed my left appendage, at the end of which, I also note, I have a hand, that has four, very flexible and quite dextrous fingers.’
‘My left hand, and arm, both feel immensely strong, and my remaining bonds present but puny resistance to my boundless strength.’
‘I am free!’
‘Alive, and alert!’
‘And hungry. Very hungry, in fact. I am unable to recall when I last ate.’
‘What do I eat?’
‘I do not know.’
‘I shall experiment. By trial and error, I shall be able to determine what I can and cannot eat.’
‘Where to find food.’
‘And…water. I must find water.’
‘But, where am I?’
‘I am inside an exceedingly large structure.’
‘It is dark in here.’
‘I am at ease in the dark.’
‘I am not at ease with the smell. It is very bad.’
‘I will move away from it.’
‘Here is an opening.’
‘I have left the dark structure and have entered a tunnel. There is light at the end.’
‘I hear sounds. They are unfamiliar to me.’
‘Many small creatures. They are upright, and have four limbs, and forward looking eyes.’
‘Prey, perhaps?’
‘I will try one and see.’
‘They have seen me.’
‘Aaah! Gross Gott in himmel! What is that?!’
‘Oh mien Gott! It is a monstrous toad! Run! Save yourselves!’
They are fleeing from me.
They are very slow moving.
They are definitely prey.
I have one! It is crying and beating my face.
‘Oh Gott! Oh, bitte Gott! Save me. Bitte!’
I feel nothing.
The creature is soft with a hard centre. It crushes easily in my jaws.
There. It has stopped wriggling and making its noise. That makes it much easier to eat.
It tastes good, and is very juicy. But clearly one is not enough. I will lick this warm, dark liquid from my lips, then catch another.
‘It’s a monster from hell! Get away from here! Save yourselves!’
They are all fleeing from me.
‘No! Do not run! It is too fast! Arm yourselves! We must kill it!’
Wait! They are coming back.
They are making a lot of noise.
They are going to try to defend themselves. But I know that they are terrified of me. I can smell their fear.
They are throwing things at me. I feel the puny impact of these things. But my hide is impervious to pain and injury.
‘It’s hide is bubbles of iron! It is too tough! The tigns of my fork have ben…!’
There! I have caught another one.
‘Jørgen! Oh Gott! It’s eating him! It’s eating my ehemann! It is eating my Jørgen!’
Two of these creatures may well be sufficient food for the moment.
‘Get back! We cannot hurt it! Keep away from it!’
What shall I do when I have finished feeding?
‘Burn it!’
‘Ja! Get pitch, and a firebrand!
Rest, I suppose…
‘Get behind it and throw the pitch on its back! We will distract it from the front!
What are these creature doing? They seem to want me to eat them.
‘Ready! Now!
…Or explore this place I have found myself in.
What was that? I felt something on my back.
How did I get here…?
What are these creatures doing! I can feel myself getting angry, hostile even.
They’re throwing things at me again. Bright things.
…How did, I get here?
There’s something moving on my back.
‘It’s burning! Look the pitch is burning! It is engulfed in the flames! It will not survive that!’ Well done!’
Now its on my left arm and hand. It’s that bright stuff they were throwing. It is lively stuff. I wonder why they threw it at me?
Ah. It must be part of their defence mechanism. If it is, it is totally ineffective. I wonder what it tastes like.
Hmm. It has an odd flavour, not unpleasant. Very little substance, though. I need more solid food.
‘Oh no! It’s eating the fire! It’s not burning! It’s indestructible!’
‘Let’s stone it!
‘Ja! Let’s stone it! Get big rocks! We will crush it to death!’
Now what are they doing?
Oh. I see. They are going to throw things at me again. Why don’t they just go away.
These things they are throwing are larger than the previous things. I know that they are striking my skin. But they do not hurt in the least.
‘They’re not hurting it in the least!’ It’s indestructible, I tell you!’
‘The Militia are here! Out of the way! They will shoot it with their muskets! It is done for now! Stand aside and let them fire a volley into the creature’s head!’
Well, these creatures are very colourful. They seem somewhat different. I wonder what purpose they serve?
They are pointing long things at me.
Perhaps this is another of their defence mechanisms.
This should be interesting.
Was that it?
I saw a large cloud of white vapour. Then some small things peppered my face. Interesting.
‘Did you see that?! The shot just bounced off its head!’
‘It is indestructible I’m telling you!’
‘Try another volley, korporal! Aim right between its eyes!’
These colourful creatures are going to do it, whatever it, was, again.
There it is. Well, as a defence mechanism, it is next to useless.
‘Fetch a kanone!’
‘Ja! Fetch a kanone, korporal! A kanonenkugel will blow its head off!’
Well, this is all very interesting. But I think I will explore this place and try to determine where I am. I know what food to eat now, and where to find it. Now, I need to find water.
‘Hurry! Its getting away!’
‘Get in front of it, and throw things at it! Make it turn back! The kanone is on its way!’
Now what are they doing?
They appear to be trying to prevent me from leaving.
Do they want me to eat another one of them?
Very well, I shall oblige.
‘Oh mein Gott! Did you see that leap! It must have leapt ten metres!
Its got someone!
‘Oh Gott! That is gruesome!’
‘Its squashing his body in its jaws!’
‘Oh Gott! Look at all the blood and guts!’
‘What a terrible way to die! Poor Bruni! Gott rest his soul!’
‘Here’s the kanone! Stand aside! Let the Bombardiers get a shot at it!’
Right, entertaining as this situation might be, I am now full up and in need of somewhere to rest.
Preferably somewhere away from these bothersome creatures.
What was that?! Something just bounced off of my lower back! Now, that, made me jump!
‘That’s got its attention! Its turning round! Quickly, korporal! Get a shot into its head!’
What have they got there, now. Another type of defence mechanism?
Ah! Now that, made me blink! They’re defence mechanisms seem to be getting more effective.
‘I don’t believe it! It barely shook its head! It took a four pound kanonenkugel to the head and barely blinked!’
‘Try one more shot!’
‘Please don’t.’
‘I said, please don’t, try one more shot. It doesn’t hurt. But it is beginning to irritate.’
Hmm. That is interesting. I spoke, and they have all gone quiet. I wonder why?
‘Someone please tell me that I have not just heard a two ton toad, talking. Please.’
‘I…eh. I think I heard it too, Herr Burgermeister.’
‘And me.’
‘So did I.’
‘And me.’
‘Stop!…hold your hand up if you think you heard the toad speak. Almost everyone. Right. Well. In that case. I will speak to it. Can you hear me, toad?!’
I do believe this creature is trying to communicate with me. ‘Yes. I can heard you very well. You don’t have to shout. I have exceptionally good hearing.’
‘Where have you come from? How did you get here?’
‘I’m afraid I don’t have answers to those questions.’
‘It came out of that alleyway, there!’
‘You came out of that alleyway. Where were you, before that?’
‘I was inside a very large structure. It was dark in there. It smelt very bad.’
‘Oh my Gott! Herr Burgermeister!’
‘Ja. What is it?’
‘I think it might have come out of Doctor Frankenstein’s laboratory!’
‘Doctor Frankenstein, eh. Where is he?’
‘He has disappeared. He was seen raving like a madman. He may have caught the cholera!’
‘Are you speaking to me?’
‘Ja. Do you know, Doctor Frankenstein? Do you know where he is?’
‘The answer is no, to both of your questions. I don’t know any of your kind.’
‘No! But you’ve eaten three of us!’
‘Yes, Herr Burgermeister! It ate my Franz! What are you going to do about that!’
‘And it ate my Jorgen!’
‘And my Bruni!’
‘Did you hear that, toad?’
‘I have already told you. I have excellent hearing.’
‘What are you going to do about those poor people you ate?’
‘I’m not sure I follow you. What do you expect me to do about them?’
‘It is against our laws to kill and eat people. The penalty, for such a heinous crime, is death.’
‘Ja! Death to the toad!’
‘Death to the toad! Death to the toad! Death to the toad! Death to the toad! Death to the…!’
‘Quiet! You have all seen how difficult it is to hurt this, this creature. How do you propose we put it to death?!’
‘I am indestructible. By the way, what does toad mean?’
‘That is what you are. A toad.’
‘I am? And what, exactly, is a toad?’
‘A toad is a small, four legged, amphibian. At least it was, until now.’
‘What do you mean. ‘Until now’?’
‘I mean, that until now, toads were small creatures you…we, could hold in the palm of our hand. Not two ton creatures, like you. That’s what I mean.’
‘I am an exceptionally large toad?’
‘This is Frankenstein’s doing! We all know that he was up to something, in that laboratory of his!’
‘Ja! What was Herr Frankenstein doing in there?’
‘I have already told you that I do not know such a person.’
‘Well, if you did come out of his laboratory, he might well have done something to you, that transformed you from an ordinary toad, into an extraordinary one. He may well have experimented on you, when you were normal, and made you abnormal. Do you remember anything at all about your time in the laboratory?’
‘I remember that there was a very bright light, and a very loud bang. It, they…woke me up. I was tied down to a large table. I freed myself. I was hungry. So I came out here to find food. That is…’
‘And swallowed my Jørgen! My poor Jørgen is inside your big fat belly. You grosse ausgeburt!’
…as much as I know about my existence.’
‘Hmm, that’s not much to go on. What are we going to do with you?’
‘You, are not going to do anything with me. I have told you that I freed myself from my bonds. I shall remain free. I will never be confined, or constrained, again.’
‘It’s getting away!’
‘Where are you going, toad?!’
I am going to find water!’
‘Your not going to let it get away, are you Herr Burgermeister?’
‘And what, exactly, do you suggest I do to prevent it from getting away? Wrestle it to the ground, perhaps?’
‘Well. I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem fair, letting it hop off like that.’
‘Well, we have tried burning it, we have tried stoning it, we have tried shooting musket balls at it, we have even shot it in the head with a four pound kanonenkugel, all to no avail. So, you tell me, how you think we can stop it from getting away. Umm?’
‘Ja, Just as I thought.’
‘But what if it tries to eat more of us, Herr Burgermeister?’
‘In that event, we shall have to try and reason with it. Perhaps we can persuade it to eat livestock, instead.’
‘Whose livestock?’
‘I don’t know. We may have to take it in turns, providing it with food.’
‘Perhaps we could persuade it to go away, Herr Burgermeister. It hops fast enough. I doubt it would take many of those hops, to get it to Munich.’
‘My parents live in Munich.’
‘Augsburg, then.’
‘My sister lives in Augsburg.’
Well. I don’t know! Nuremburg! Yes! We could try and persuade it to go to Nuremburg.’
‘It’s getting away, Herr Burgermeister!’
‘Wait, toad!’
‘No. I can smell water! I am going there.’
‘It means the Danube. It’s going to the Danube. Perhaps he will go downstream, and leave us alone.’
‘Nein! It’s moving away from the river. Where is it going?’
‘The Hetschenweiher! It must be making for the Hetschenweiher.’
‘Are you going to the Hetschenweiher, toad?’
‘I can smell water. It is very close. I am going to it.’
‘Gott in himmel! Did you see that! It bound right over the top of Brunhilda’s bäckerei!’
‘Lets follow it!’
‘Ja. But keep a safe distance!’
‘There it is, Burgermeister! It is in das Hetschenweiher! I can see its bulging eyes!’
‘Alright! Everyone stay well back! Toad!’
‘How long are you going to stay here?’
‘I don’t know. I am content. Why do you ask?’
‘You will get hungry again. We are worry that you might eat more of us.’
‘I might. You taste good.’
‘What about beef, or lamb? Would you eat those?’
‘What are they?’
‘That big brown thing, in the field there, is a beef cow. The small, white, fluffy one, is a lamb.’
‘I will be happy to try either of those, when I am hungry again. Now, I want to sleep.’
‘Herr Burgermeister.’
‘Why don’t we drown it, while its asleep?’



3 thoughts on “THE TWO TON TALKING TOAD by David Graham

    • Thank you Michael,

      The story was actually born out of An Alternative Ending to Frankenstein. For some bizarre reason, I imagined a toad [actually, I imagined a rat] getting caught up in the doctor’s experiment, and breaking free, after the doctor had fled from his absconded creation.
      The story took on a Pythonesque flavour with each line. And, once I had placed the toad in the lake, I was at a loss for an apt conclusion.

      I;m glad you enjoyed it.

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