Gaargh, wrapped in the octopus’ coils I blundered around the deck as if blinded and lost in a convent with a taste for penguin. The suckery bugger foisted its beaky smooches on me despite me fervent protestations. Aye, “say hello to Polly” indeed. As ye might have gathered, the noble crew of the Grim Bastard was suffering once more under a siege of maddened sea beasties.
The cause were nearly none of our making, or at least the cause of but one of us – so the average fault per crewman was less even than that. However, sticky and suspicious footprints lead to the door and the piggy reek of Spam-Faced Franco.
Now, tis rare that I’ll permit a Spaniard aboard but Franco had been the victim of Captain Aaarsbeard’s grab for power on the island of Por Bombardo. The spamminess of his face was attributed to the burns caused when two ships full of porcine cargo were detonated in the harbour. Gaargh, twas tragic but stank of breakfast marvels. Me tongue moistens at the memory. In misguided charity we took his flame-grilled face on to do shiply things.
Franco had a saucy nature that even the bacon burns’d not diminished. Perhaps the mask with which he clothed the uglier half of his face bolstered his confidence, else it was the inhuman volumes of gin he imbibed before commencing his crude courting. Tis of note that donning a pair of gin-monocles may impair ye judgement. And so it did for Spam-Faced Franco.
We’d moored a good way off from the shallow isle of Webbyre, a habit we’d adopted after the were-bears incident. So me first inkling of Franco’s misbehaviour came with the thunking of a rowboat to larboard. Twas just a portly gentleman staring nine pistols in the eye. He protested that he was the town’s mayor, though he heard none of our threats till he tugged the waxen lodes from his ears. With much indignation he relayed to us a tale of musical malady, from which I pieced together me own truths.
Last night Franco had skipped ship to soil himself with gin. Once tipsy he’d fallen out of a tavern and followed the curious strains that pierced Webbyre’s night air. They led him to an abandoned house on a hill where he discovered a wench fingering a demon-stoked instrument of magic and fear. Clearly the wench had hopes he was there to strum her twattling-strings, but twas the Wurlitzer Organ of Painful Jollity that seized him by his ginny throat. The poor lass he bound and stuffed beneath the instrument.
All night he tormented the town with lascivious lullabies and forced cheer till the locals grew maddened and battered down the door. By then he was far gone and had shrouded himself in a cape and he cackled wildly at the intruders. With neither thought nor wit he hurled himself out of the window. Twas but a single storey drop and most of his bones were undamaged. He swam back to the ship and curled in his bunk. Now all this would have been well save for the poor wench who’d suffered the vile hammer blows of the organ. The music had possessed her and she took up where Franco left off.
I knew none of this save that his bacon-scent had been absent for from our distant anchorage twas merely a faint tinkling of fairground noise. But the mayor was sweatily desperate for our aid, he wept tellin’ how his wife had been driven mad by three hours of “Bugger Me For A Farthing” without respite and the townsfolk were bleeding from their wisdom bags.
We woke Franco with a bucket of crabs and a good booting of the spammy Spaniard for as we drew nearer shore the relentlessly upbeat tones of “Me Other Horn’s A Rhino” did indeed grate upon us. Glad I was that we’d not been nearer for the locals ran frothily mad in the street, capering idiotically and howling the words to the hurdy-gurdy’s haphazard harmonies of humpery. Even the animals were jigging as best as their anatomy would allow.
Well done Franco indeed. I thought him chastened by me boot, but he sprang up the mast in his damned cape and crouched on a spar hissing like an oedipal snake. He was quite crazed. The bewitching music was beginning to tear at our sense-strings: the mayor was loudly humming “A Finger Of Fudge” and me own peg leg tapped a frantic beat. I summoned forth the mast smashers – a fearsome pair of cannonballs chained together with which I hoped to eliminate the source of the festering jingles.
The lads’ aim was precise, despite ‘em having to stuff a finger in other’s ear to soften the madness. The chain shot ripped through the house’s ground floor. The next storey crashed down and yet the demon’s fandango played on. Worse, the house began to slip down the hillside, the music comically accompanying the bumps and people-crushing as she picked up speed.
Our rate of fire could not match the sliding chateau and we merely wrecked the town. The house skipped twice off the end of the pier and sank. We cheered, but briefly for with a low giggle Franco tossed himself from the mast into the sea where he swam just like the lunatic he was. On reaching the site of the sinking show tunes he leered at us beneath his mask and dove underwater.
Soon enough what we hoped was the last of the breathable air escaping the wreck popped, releasing their bubbly devil tones of “Frig Me With A Basket Of Chicken”. The sea began to foam in distress. First a school of porpoises humped themselves up the beach to attack the fishermen with their blowholes flaring. Starfish crawled from the harbour, their twitching nobular arms seeking faces to smother. Whelks and lobsters pelted The Grim Bastard. I knew we had to end this and soon, before the whole ocean grew too mental to swim.
The tune was barely identifiable as we sailed in nearer, but as our shadow fell over the house of nightmare notes it became a dirge-like “Two Sheep And A Duck With A Bag Of Keys, That’s What My Lover’s Like For Me”. That was when the octopus struck. Gaargh, I clawed at my mollusc-mask while I strove to loosen the anchor chain. This I accomplished by headbutting the lever through the octopus’ face.
The chain rattled as the anchor plummeted into the deeps. We felt it crunch through the house, and Mick spun the wheel. The wind lifted our sails and the squid clinging to them. Our anchor ripped and hauled the submarine house across the sea floor until the melodious bubbles rose no more and the sea creatures grew confused and limped off the ship, or were popped in a pot.
When we wound in the anchor it brought up a tangle of strings and hammers and a burp of Franco’s gammony musk. A moment later his mask floated up to bob on the waves. Without thinking I shot it till it sank again. Gaargh, I’d miss his breakfast bouquet.