Balrogienis aeronauticusA load of old Balrogs

By Our Middle-Earth mythmaker amongst the mathoms — Mercedes Dannenberg

Utterpants interviewed Dr Primula Wunderkind PhD, the world's foremost authority on mythological fire-breathing creatures with very large bat-like wings, and asked her to tell our readers more about the strange and terrifying creature known as the Balrog

Dr Wunderkind (32) leant back in her chair, smoothed down her skirt and put the tips of her aristocratic fingers together. She began by explaining that not only is she certain that Balrogs do exist, she claims they consist of several, distinct genera, as she was at pains to tell us.

"Balrogienis aeronauticas — or 'the greater winged Balrog' as it is vulgarly known, was first identified and catalogued by Gimlet Leglesse and verified by myself in my monograph 'The Flames of Udun: The hidden fauna of Middle-Earth'. It is by far the largest and most feared of all the tribe and undoubtedly the genus the Saruman Corporation™ are attempting to breed in their filthy labs to unleash a tide of destruction upon an unsuspecting and doubting world."
"There are other Balrogs?" we asked.

"Heaps of them," gushed the slim, attractive anthropologist. "The common Balrog, as any scholar will tell you, is 'balrogienis officinalis morgothii' — or 'Morgoth's Bane'. It stands some 8 feet at the shoulder and is capable of only limited flight owing to its atrophied wing muscles. There are also varies subspecies known to naturalists, such as the sexually precocious and sarcastic 'balrogienis denethorus gondorii', the extremely rare 'balrogiensis habilis' — a domesticated sub-species kept for the culinary value of it's fleshy wing-like appendages. A much prized delicacy among some Hobbits who coat them in lembas crumbs and fry them in extra-virgin Orc's fat. And we must not forget the most remarkable variant of all; 'balrogiensis jacksonii', whose erudition and debating skills are legendary throughout the West."

"Where can our readers find out more about Balrogs?" we asked.
Dr Wunderkind crossed her slim legs, lit up a strange-smelling cigarette, and smiled warmly.
"I can do no better than refer you to the Faggins Foundation's excellent primers on Balrogs — namely 'Everything you ever wanted to know about Balrogs but were afraid to ask because the ferocious, fiery bastards would reduce you to a cinder before you could so much as say good morning to them', 'A guide to the domestic habits of the common Balrog' and the fully illustrated, 'A Load of old Balrogs: a beginner's guide to debating with a Balrog without being incinerated'.

Finally, you may also wish to consult my own modest contributions to the literature: 'Flaming Hell!' subtitled; 'my life amongst the Balrogs of Southern Moria'; 'Whipping Yarns' — I'm afraid that may be a little too explicit for your more squeamish readers — and, of course, my celebrated magnum opus: 'Pink Fluffy slippers — a series of no-nonsense tips and tricks to outwit the most fearsome Balrog armed with nothing more than a whalebone corset and a collection of rude limericks'. Equipped with the priceless knowledge contained within these books your most sceptical readers will no longer entertain the slightest doubts as to the existence of these fiendishly cunning and destructive creatures."

"Golly!" we replied. "What precautions can we take against being attacked?"
"Never leave home without a large, black umbrella and a volume of really bad poetry," replied the anthropologist with a ravishing smile.
"An — an umbrella?" we repeated.
"Held at a strategic angle of precisely 49 degrees an umbrella will convince the Balrog that you are a distant relative."
"Astonishing!" we replied. "And then you read it some really bad poetry?"
"Don't be silly," replied the slim philologist, exhaling a cloud of smoke from her aristocratic nostrils. "You hit it over the head with the book while it's disorientated by the umbrella."
"Why bad poetry?"
"Well you wouldn't want to incinerate a book of good poetry, would you?"
"True," we replied.

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© 2003 Story by Mercedes Dannenberg
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© 2003 utterpants.co.uk

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