When I look back over my life I will be able to say without lie or hesitation that the events which unfolded one day in 1925 are the strangest that I have ever encountered from a communicative standpoint, or to put it another way it was not strange in the least but I feel to contradict myself at this early juncture would be folly.
The day began as a typical December morning which was odd as it was in fact July. It was the eighteenth day of July to be exact yet the snow refusing to be restricted by month or season fell in abundance. This was the first of many occurrences in a day that would later be labelled as 'Normal Sunday'. You may be thinking that there is nothing strange in that, 'Normal Sunday' sounds quite, well normal but when I tell you that the eighteenth day of July of that year in fact fell on a Thursday and not a Sunday we begin to scratch the surface of the unusual situation I found myself in.
I had been awakened by the sound of a persistent pecking at my front door. At first I ignored it but after three minutes of continuous bursts of 'beaking' I had had enough. Annoyed by the fact that it has disturbed me from my deep slumber and also by its sheer persistence I pulled the door open with force and there before me stood the largest foal I have ever seen. In certain circles such a beast may be known as a horse.
I stared at the horse for the longest time, my expression now one of utter confusion. He, too, stared back at me, his own face a mixture of shock and embarrassment. I wondered which of us would be the first to break the ice. Five minutes passed with zero communication on either. This was in part due to my steely determination but also due to the fact that my face was partially frozen by the swirling Arctic winds and heavy snow. I wondered if the horse was suffering inwardly as I was. If he was his expression did not give him away.
Four more minutes passed and I began to wonder whether winning a staring contest with a horse was worth hypothermia and perhaps death when to my delight the horse gave in. "I see you've met Tommy", the horse began, in a droll tone. Now I had rarely, if ever met a talking horse but the day had begun in such a peculiar fashion that I was willing to accept this highly unusual occurrence. "What? A talking horse?", I declared incredulously not willing nor able to come to terms with it after all.
"I see you've met Tommy", repeated the voice. This time however upon looking over the head of my long-faced staree I saw a tall figure on his back. It was the figure four but what was even more interesting was what stepped out from behind the horse. It was a gentleman in a tweed suit. He had a bright red moon-shaped face, he was stocky and in his fifties. "I say, I see you've met Tommy", he said for either the first or the third time as I was now quite unsure as to who or what had been communicating with to me up to this point.
"My name is Barney Fniff", he continued "and I have called upon you today to offer you an offer, an offer that you cannot refuse of at least shouldn't refuse. I am willing to come in and sit down and drink plenty and eat plenty more and continuously use your facilities and take down all your pictures and rehang them the wrong way around and pull half the bristles out of your toothbrush and make a general nuisance of myself or we could agree upon my proposal right now and be done with it."
"Wait a second, who are you?"
"Could you elaborate at all?"
I tried a different approach, fearful that I would never get the answer I craved, "And what is this proposal of yours?", I enquired curiously.
"I am willing to trade you this fine beast......."
"And what do you want of mine?" came my obvious reply. "Oh yes I forgot that crucial part. All I want from you in return my friend is your measly bicycle, the one that's resting by the railings out there."
"I'm afraid my bicycle is of great value to me and is not for trading." Mr. Fniff blinked for such a prolonged period of time that I though he had lost complete control of the upper half of his face. Just when I was about to give up hope of him ever uttering another word, the blinking stopped and his lips began to move.
"Alright Sonny Jim", he began "not only will I give you the horse but I will also throw in the number four on his back."
"I'm afraid that's not going to swing it Mr. Fniff", I replied nonchalantly.
"Look here boy I would be doing you a huge favour by taking that bike off your hands, I know you woke up this morning not knowing where you were or even what time of year it was. You see I know everything about you Herbert."
"Its Peter sir."
"Peter, of course. You see Herb-Peter the reason you cannot remember what happened is because of that bike. Some say it has mystical powers, others say its haunted by the ghost of Professor Douglas Farnham a mad scientist who died while cycling it, more say it's half mystical half haunted, whatever the percentages Peter, you're dealing with a haunted bike.
"Every time you pull the front brakes you disappear to a different time or place for months on end. Upon your return you can remember nothing of your trip and you wake up in confused state answering doors to horses.
As a final offer I will give you the horse, the number four and myself for your bike. I cannot do better than that."
"But if you own my bicycle and I own you then I will still own my bike."
"Exactly, as I said I cannot do better than that."
"Listen here you are the strangest, reddest, stockiest man I have ever met and what you are proposing is absolutely preposterous. I do not believe for a second that what you are telling me is the truth. I have had just about enough of you, your horse and your number four. Go take your crazy notions somewhere else I have no time for them here. Good day to you!" and with that I slammed the door in his face.
Not five minutes had passed when I again heard a pecking on the door. This time it was my bike and it was just about time for another adventure.