Fantasy Flash Fiction: Best Laid Plans by Mark Huntley-James


fantasy flash fiction by mark huntley-james


Mr R Burns
Clerk to the Council
Barrowhurst Town Hall
Barrowhurst-On-Helltide

Re: Lack of planning consent to install new mountains; keeping dragons in contravention of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976; other issues

Dear Mr Burns,

Thank you for your recent letter regarding my new mountains, and the threat of enforcement action by the council to remove them. As you may be aware, my garden has stretched extensively of late due to malicious magical interference. The appearance of the new mountain range along the fence line with my neighbour, Mrs Bartly, is a matter entirely beyond my control, but in the spirit of good faith I have looked into applying for retrospective permission.

I found the council web site very unhelpful. The section on garden landscaping was miniscule, and I found nothing which appears to apply. I have looked at my mountains from Mrs Bartly’s side of the fence. They do not appear to be more than three meters tall, and have very little impact on available light. I appreciate that from my side of the fence, they do appear to be more of the order of three thousand meters tall, but I’m sure that’s just an optical illusion.

Since my mountains are a natural geological feature, albeit caused by careless magic use by other people, I don’t understand how they would require planning consent. I appreciate that there are concerns that unseasonable weather conditions may occur due to my mountains, but again there doesn’t seem to be anything relevant on the council website.

Just to be clear, regardless of the rumours you mentioned, I am not planning to open a ski resort. Neither do I intend to arrange loud parties nor stage weekend raves. Regarding your stated concern that ‘local teenagers may take advantage and stage impromptu events of their own’, I can assure you that no-one will hear them scream.

Regarding the dragons, I have read the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and don’t really see how that applies. Yes, there are dragons in my new mountains, mostly below the snow line and overlooking the telegraph pole on the street. Whilst they do come down to my house and lake, I am not actually keeping them as pets. Perhaps I missed something, but I couldn’t find any mention of dragons in the schedule of dangerous animals in section 7 of the act.

Regarding the need for inspection, I am more than happy for council officers to climb my mountains in search of dragons — I would recommend vehicles, equipment and supplies adequate for an expedition of several weeks. As for the possibility that the council might seize my dragons without compensation as per section 4 of the act, that is something the council officers would need to take up with the dragons. However, I should warn you that I would expect that to be a heated discussion. Council officers would need to bring their own interpreter — dragons do not speak English.

From my limited understanding of dragon behaviour, discussions can be eased by offering gifts of food. Two or three additional council officers in the party should be sufficient.

Regarding your phrase ‘by hiring helicopters if necessary’ I would advise against any attempt to fly near my mountains. Dragons regard airborne prey the same way that kittens treat balls of string — something to chase and play with.

You further mention cracks in the street caused by my garden. I have looked, and measured — the external boundary remains the same — and those cracks were there long before my garden expanded. So far as I am concerned, it is purely down to the council going with the lowest tender on road repairs.

Finally, you raised a concern that the sewers may not be able to cope, but my house remains exactly the same size, just a mile and a half further from the street than it used to be. I don’t see how that will increase the volume of effluent produced. I absolutely do not allow the dragons to use our bathroom.

Yours sincerely,
Paul Moore,
Master of the Dark Arts (retired)
Old Farm Cottage
Green Lane
Barrowhurst

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