Matches – check.
Electronic lighter thingy in case the matches don't work – check.
Wibbly thing that came out of a frog – check.
Printout containing the lyrics of a paean to the rotten God – check.
Singing lessons at five – check.
*"What's this?" Miss Sharples peered myopically at the printout I'd brought with me, and groped for her glasses. They hung on a chain around her neck, but the chain was far too long for the low-cut blouse she liked to wear, and when she leaned forward, as she was doing now, and groped for her glasses, as she was doing now, I was treated, if that's the right word, to a view of sixty-year-old cleavage.
Invitation to the local LGBT community monthly meeting to see if I'd prefer being gay to seeing sixty-year-old cleavage – check.
Discrete photographs of said cleavage taken to send to Gorgeous Grannies magazine – check.
Vague feeling of self-loathing mingled with the prospect of cash – check.
"It's a song I'd like to learn how to sing," I said, trying to avert my eyes and take more discrete photographs with my iPhone at the same time.
"Well, I was rather hoping we could complete River Deep Mountain High today," said Miss Sharples, tugging another button on her blouse open. "But sometimes a change is as good as a rest, so let's give this a try this week, perhaps with a little River at the end, shall we?" She finally got her glasses on and I put the iPhone away and tried to look attentive. She held the paper at a more reasonable distance from her face, and frowned.
"This is very odd," she said. "This is really choral, it's for... well, it says 800 voices, but that must be a misprint. Medieval Latin can be a bit like that though. The range for the scoring though... even with your recent practice I'm not sure you'd manage it."
"You can read Medieval Latin?" I said, rather stunned. An ungenerous thought at the back of my mind offered that she'd probably been alive back then.
"Oh yes, of course," she said. "And Ancient Greek, Modern Greek, Peloponnesean, Phoenician, and I can manage a fair amount of Ritual Gaelic as well. You appear to be wanting to perform the Sacrament of the Broken Heart of the Rotten God. By yourself?"
Note to self to have flabber ungasted – check.
Note to self to buy crowbar, tyre iron, or other blunt, heavy bludgeoning weapon – check.
Note to self to check and see if wibbly bit of frog was put in the fridge before I left the house – check.
"Yes," I said. I would have to kill her now, so there wasn't much point lying to her.
"Be careful, then," she said. "I've had four students now want to perform that particular Sacrament, and none of them seem to have done any research before performing it."
"What do you mean? I had to do research to find this paean!"
"Yes, but did you actually find out why the Rotten God is so called?"
"Because he's evil," I said, a little louder than I'd intended. "He's plain rotten, to everybody and everything. That's why I want to bind him to my control. Oh, and you're first against the wall when that happens, missy!"
"Hah! No, he's not evil, he's rotten. Or, more accurately, rotting. He's one of the twelve fallen deities than Antaschen wrote about in the Alexandrine Codex, and he's the one who was poisoned by the Eritic apple, hence why he's rotting."
"Erotic apple?" I was a little confused, and becoming apprehensive.
"Eritic apple, the apple of Eris, goddess of discord. He was poisoned by that apple, and because it was a divine creation intended to create chaos and discord it infected his flesh and caused him to rot. He's got a divine case of necrotising fascitis, and he'll be more than happy to share it with anyone who performs the Sacrament."
"Oh," I said, wondering how she knew all this.
"And the Broken Heart," she said. "You'll have been told that the wibbly bit of frog substitutes for it, but the only way to perform the Sacrament safely is to actually have the God's Broken Heart so that it can be returned to him. Only then can he overcome the rot of the Eritic apple and be raised up again."
"You seem to know quite a lot," I said, now rather hesitant. "How?"
"I do my research," she said, winking at me suggestively.
Panic – check.
"So, perhaps we should just go back to River?" I suggested, holding my hand out for my printout back.
"Oh no," said Miss Sharples. "My last student actually found the Broken Heart. It's in the fridge right now."
"Oh," I said, a sudden presentiment of what was to come flashing over me.
"Oh yes," she said, grinning so widely that her head seemed to start splitting open. "The God is awaiting his Sacrament."