The Missing Metacarpal Adventure

Gaargh, No Hands Mick’s one of me oldest mates, and me truest friend. We’ve endured both peril and pleasure together; fondled, plundered and squealed like girls in the face of danger. His life’s a testament to the dangers of ship-board life and his hands if he had any, would finger the poorly completed accident book.

When first we met I was but a scrap of a lad, making me name as a lad-ye-goes-to-when-there’s-a-thing-ye-wants. Aye these were the days before we had words for things and had to adopt the Teutonic habits of paragraph-long job titles.  Me business card was the size of a cartwheel. It hindered me trade but once I’d nailed it to a cartwheel all was well.

One bright day I was plying me trade in the whoring district of Onomatopoeia Peninsula. Twas a trying place where the local dialect supplemented mime with expressive sound effects. Ye ‘ho-ho jiggly-squirt’ (night-lady to ye) quarter drew the sailors and merchants from afar and I was mostly spared the annoyance of orderin’ a mug of ‘glug-glug’ or a sandwich o’ ‘nom-nom gristle-crack’. Here I’d suffer only ye calls o’ what ‘slip-slap’ or ‘glom-glom-gobbly-spurt’ were on offer. There was a constant demand for ales and spirits, powders, unguents, potions, bandages, sandwiches, Vulcanised nether-garb, feathery-tickles and sherbert. All this and more I toted in me cart.

I arrived by Madame Bosombèrt’s Shoppe of Gargantuan Lady Spelunking with a fresh barrel of hog fat for their corsets. Tis a weighty thing, the lard of a pig so I lobbed a stone at the lad lurkin’ in an alley. The prospect of pence drew him out and his manly mitts were ideal for manhandling the oink-grease into the hookery. Mick was an accomplished travelling musician, down on his luck and denuded of music since hocking his cello for lodgings.

We chatted while shuffling the rendered piglet gunk into the ladies’ dressing chambers. Yarr, the sight of ‘em had me itchin’ for a harpoon. Like perfumed whales, lowin’ to one another in the local parlance o’ hoots and giggles. I was banging in the fat tap when Madame Bosombèrt herself bustled in, like a coach bearing down upon blind children. “Oho young Pigheart! Sweet Ignatius,” (she’d a misplaced fondness for me youth), “and a friend.” Her shadow fell across Mick. He flinched like a rabbit beneath an eagle. She snatched up his hands with delight, crooning softly to herself as she pawed his paws, like so: “Aaaaaaarrrrr,” (tis her soothin’ purr to which I attribute me own success with the ladyfolk), “get ye fingers in that grease lad.” Mick was rigid with terror, and not in a good way, him bein’ but young and unscholarly in the lady ways.

His lean fingers massaged hog fat into the mammoth miss’s midriff meat till she declared herself sufficiently slickened to be shod. Mick’s youthful hesitance faded away and he leaped at the chance to gird the girl in whalebone. His nimble fingers played a concerto up the knots and ribbons and he heaved it closed, forcing a pair o’ beluga whales to surface beneath Madame Bosombèrt’s chin. The poor lad could scarce draw his eyes from their creamy goodness.

And so Dextrous Mick the Finger Lad got two jobs in one day; ladies’ girdle-hitcher and carter’s mate. We competed for the monster maidens affections, jealous of their massive love muffins. Gaargh, to press and squeeze them titanic bosoms… Our rivalry was mostly jovial, yet our envy spilled into pranks and mild violence. It caused Mick to poison me rum so I crashed me cart into a handsome lass; the horse hat diminished her beauty and me rib count. Ahar, I hid lobsters in Mick’s britches and later woke at sea bound to an octopus. Aye, they were good times.

O’course the accident changed much of that. On that fateful day Madame Bosombèrt summoned him with some urgency. A fancy customer was making a special request: that they bind together at hip and shoulder a pair of wenches in mimicry of his fantasied Siamese twins. Aye, twas an unusual request, being both creepy and intriguing.

There was no trouble in enstrappin’ the lasses: Mick’s delicate digits kept ‘em gigglin’ as he pushed their kidneys into their lungs. Ye fetish came askew when the gentleman himself, one Arnold Hornthrust demanded that he be belted into his bucking babe bronco. Poor Mick was half into his Carrick Bend when the deviant gent’s desire overwhelmed him and he hurdled the knotted woman bundle erotically. He failed to note Mick’s hands trapped and twisting under his triad o’ lust. The moanin’ and thrashing was only three quarters pleasure as Mick was tossed and ground beneath their bound bulk. With an unhealthy crunch his hands, pressed white and numb against the writhing flesh twisted one way and he another. He was free, but with mitts so misshapen they seemed more crab than hand.

It took me twenty minutes o’ snap, crackle and pop to straighten his fingers out, and half that spent topping him up with rum. His dextrous paws had had a narrow escape and I bound ‘em with strips of pork bone (which I conveniently had about me person) so’s they’d not wriggle at night. Now, tis possible that were a slight error on my part for I’d also neglected to feed Rancid Albert, the mongrel dogmonkey who slept on and urinated from the roof of our cart.

Morning found Mick hungover and stumpy at the wrist. The poor lad was fairly devastated, but I cheered his ill mood with a bottle of rum and the finest implement man’s ever wrought upon this earth – the humble drinking straw. Twas a sad substitute for a fist full of fingers but with that same straw he retrieved his knuckles from Rancid Albert and bloodily avenged himself on Hornthrust, towards whom I directed Mick’s wrath. The colossal courtesans we courted lamented the loss of his fine fingers but he managed to prove himself otherwise dextrous enough: “look, no hands” became his cry in both love and war.

The Cloistered Entertainment

I was rousted from my slumbering bower by a titanic shrieking. The previous evening I’d taken to bed amidst the trees following an indulgence of absinthe and laudanum. The tree I presume, must have presented the best vantage when surveying the territory for tigers and other beasts which might offer untimely wounding. That said I could not imagine how I’d mastered it; the tree rose up above a less towering but still imposing wall of stone which held within it gardens, paths, dwellings and doubtless the source of the banshee wailing. My clothes, or lack thereof I could not account for. Nor the brassiere and manacles which encircled my slender, yet manly waist.

The act of discovering my near-nudity was sufficient to tumble me hand over toe from branch to leaf and finally to earth with a thump. Praise be the analgesia of opiate drowsing. So I was able to gain footing despite the probable bruising, sprain and fracturation I’d likely endured. From my limb tangle I arose in the presence of ladies. Or at least I thought them ladies, their convent attire did their figures little credit, and their hullaballoo was more vulture than vestal virgin.

Nonetheless I do prefer to shave and dress before greeting clergy, for they are wild and bewildering folk, prone to unnatural abstinence and raving. I realised it would be difficult to make a good impression in my state of undress, and made the concession of shrouding my excitable young gentleman in the capacious hollow of the ladies’ mallow-garb which otherwise batted him. This did little to soothe my morning amour but did serve to shield most of the dapper chap from the greedy eyes of the clucking nuns into whose tree I’d trespassed. They had dimmed their clamour somewhat and ringed me with an air of expectation. I was powerfully aware of my inopportune priapism. There seemed only one way to distract the spiritual harpy maidens.

“Behold,” I cried – my eyes red-rimmed and wide, “I have come unto ye like an owl.” They seemed ill at ease with my pronouncement; their pursed lips of confusion begged for elaboration. “Yea, an owl. For I fly by the light of the moon with wisdom and a taste for mice my weapons. And lo, my head doth revolve at least part-way round.” I was beginning to get through to them. “Does a mouse flee from its winged foe by instinct, or fear of a love unnatural twixt them? And so, fear not my feathered fronds for you have minds and a will of sorts. My feathers are but motes in the skies of chance; this is the beak of a man and to ye I have come.”

It is within the realm of possibility that I had not made myself entirely clear for their ecclesiastical squawks resumed. Such is the nature of revelation. The penguine women clustered about me. Their monochrome garb menaced the polychromatic joy of my hazed morning mind-fever. I had descended too swiftly, and the fruits of my concussion and hangover were overwhelming me. I plunged into darkness as they grew near.

I awoke a second time enchained within the convent. This was either a very bad, or a very good thing. I was grateful that I at least bore still the ladylump-lifter for they’d spread-eagled me despite my claims of owl-hood. The room was spare, much as I’d expected but the handsomely erect cruciform gentleman on the wall was a surprise. I distinguished a chanting from the rattling of my chains (myself of course, striking for freedom). The fervour was with the nuns, though not for their Lord. They had had a dry spell for visitors, or so the crone crouching by the cot croaked into my ear.

It was to be a day of short shocks and surprises; I’d not even noticed her presence till she hissed into my aural canal. Her tone and visage quite competed to deflate my rousing charm against the uncloaked ascetics eager to reject their vows. And yet I could not but endure her ear-tonguing whispers. Nor could I refuse the monastical parade that carouseled through my room all  day and night. It probably would have been impolite. I was fed and watered, that I might prolong their licentious festival. And also soothed with balms, ointments, unguents and creams when rasped too far.

Eventually they wearied of me, though by then I’d fallen into the gap between the twin stools of delirium and epiphany from their monastic moaning and cloistral coitus. My final waking was to being unshackled, clothed and supported in hobbling to the convent wall. There I was eased up a ladder and with a gentle shove thrust over the wall’s edge.

I’d been rudely treated, of that I had no doubt. Due to my periods of exhausted slumber I’d never be sure of the depths of the nuns’ depravity. However, the Papal Bull issued a month later which declared them ‘Satan’s Sweetmeats’ certainly implied that it had been a fine evening.

I’d recently amassed a considerable fortune in the underground city of Nottingham. Their love of the gambling and remedial grasp of counting had quite undone them. I took their pennies and left them to the vile stench of their troglodytic tanneries. On an impulse I snapped up the ailing convent and established the first Grande Maison of Infamy. The ex-nuns’ gratitude has never abated; they kept their beds, and kept them warm. For there are those who seek out such rude treatment.

The Dancing Adventure

Allow me to relate to ye the tale o’ Alan and the giant. Burly he were, and rough and tumble in manner except for his feet. Childlike would be the kindest way to describe ’em, for they were minute and soft with the daintiest nails o’ which ye could conceive. Defining his tasks aboard ship’s tricksy – his bulk made him a fine marauder, and his twinkle-toes were ideal for dancing. Every third moon he’d combine the two in ye pirate dance-off contest.

For many years now ye buccaneer’s boogie had been the highlight o’ the seasons held down at Captain Spim’s Honolulu Boogaloo Hut, up Knifer’s Creek way.Gaaargh, twas a dance to the death. Halibut Harry (a man rank with fishy pores) was the judge at the end o’ the springy months when we returned from sea and tossed Alan into ye dancin’ pit. I’d high hopes o’ victory and wrestin’ ye ivory dancin pump back from Captain Aaaarsbeard.

Just before Alan’s opponent leaped into the pit I’d one of me hilarious premonitions o’ doom. Knives and fire danced before me eyes and cruel mocking laughter filled me ears. Less than a second’s fraction later there came a “ho ho ho” and a vast figure of a man parted the crowd like butter and stepped into the pit. Me heart thumped; Alan’s failed. Now he were a brave lad, make no mistake: he’s taken down men as wide but never so tall. Over ten foot tall at me best reckonin’, for his head pierced the open mouth o’ the pit. Perhaps he came from foreign lands where they prized his unnecessary heightitude.

Quickly the jiggy-bout was over. Right out of ye flutey gate (ye tempo was set by a hammers and metal bars and ye melody fluted o’er the top) Alan ran up the giant’s back, his delicate feet carefully placed to ride his knobbly spine. So swift was Alan’s ascent and so dainty his step that the giant barely noticed till it was too late. Tip-tap tippy tap: Alan’s tap-shoe clad feet slammed and punted into his foe’s head and shoulders. Unless ye’ve been slapped about the head with them steely toe-tips ye’ve no knowin’ of the harm they wreak. Virtuoso style Alan skipped and spun to the flighty flute-tune, every step an elegant kick to the skull and testament to his skill.

We were silent as the music tailed away, and Alan’s mount swayed in memory of his pounding. Xylophones burst into life to sound the end of the contest and the giant collapsed. Ye could not believe the roar of approval and applause as Alan nimbly hopped from the falling giant to the pit’s lip and landed in a plie. Zealously we guarded him as we seized up the ivory dancing pump and our rum reward.

The Primeval Entertainment

Oh the horror of humanity. Their dreadful lowing as they mimble incompetently. The noisome clots of mankind, reeking enthusiastically. Their hateful prattle drove me to a killing spree. But all the murders in the borough could not salve the fire in my mind ignited by their endless empty chatter. Even my habitual practice of mounting their husks in rustic dioramas with concentric alphabetised rings of their innards could not calm me. My hands were bloodied and shaking; I could not even drink to satisfaction. In despair, I fled into the past, to a time free of man babbling without cease.

The time tunnel flared and spun around me. I gripped my time hamster a little too tightly and the universe streamed past, like an over-watered horse. The tunnel whirled and squeezed us out into a puddle of Earth’s past.

There in a world before time was sliced into a dial, numbered, named and made man’s I found love. I met Oo-nag. We met dramatically. I: twelve feet above the ground gazing down through the netting that suspended me. She: spear in hand, clubbing me to a quietude. When I awoke the first thing I noticed were the filthy fingerprints marring my formerly spotless overcoat. Displeasing. However, my second vision of note was the frustrated slapping of fingers and fists in a pre-vocal exchange of thoughts. Using mime, and my  Tesla-shiv I made it known that I was a stranger here, akin to a god and that worship would be both appreciated and the best way to evade further jabbing with my ‘lectrickal stick. These intriguingly foul creatures were clearly some ancient cousin of humanity, though few and wretched in number.

Oo-nag soon came to my attention as the least backwards of these shadowy apes, and I took her as my cave bride. Her name I derived from her bestial expression and the clacking of her knuckles upon the ground. The ceremony was as primitive as one might expect although I did attempt to imbue it with some dignity. True, her features might have been as well-defined as a Welsh slag heap; her hair a jungly thatch of diseased creepers; an odour to shame the working man. And yet… and yet indeed. She was mute, silent save for the odd emphatic grunt as are all of her troglodytic clan. I dressed the apish folk in coat and tails, but to little avail; they ate the hats and chased the tails in circles. We lived together happily, she in her dank cave and I in the luxurious if ungainly two-wheeled apartment which I’d stolen from the future. It was an idyllic life. I micro-waved the animalcules out of the hunted and gathered food while my wife cracked open the ashy bones and gnawed the marrow from them.

I believe that for a time I was happy. They were brutish folk but blissfully silent. The sole exception being their lusty matings. They lacked even skill in that matter – ‘tis a wonder their breed’s breeding bred a brood at all. Perhaps this is why men of my time have their manly parts in a visible region – to avoid such pointless spatterings. Their inept rutting drove me to distraction and I set out to educate them in effective mounting.

Their improbable procreative plumbing directed my task towards diagrammatical education. They had crude finger-painting sludge with which they marred their cave walls. I introduced them to paint brushes and oils, and then I shoved them out of the cave before they ate too much of it. I barricaded the cave mouth so that my creation of their Gentlemen’s Guide to Cave Swiving would be spared their curious interruptions. They grunted and thumped in disgruntlement for the barring of their wretched hovel.

Night had fallen and the sun risen before I finished my works. My illustrations of their prehensile recursive appendages and the proper manner for intimate interlocution with their ab-organed wives was complete. The manimals had fallen silent after some hammering in the night. Clearly they had finally realised the importance of my investigation for the sake of their race. Even though it had required that I retain an ageing mating pair (Mrrrungel and Neh) to meet Mr and Mrs Scalpel. Their exploded organs had been well sketched by my fair hand on the walls of their cave. It would undoubtedly improve their chances of offspring and improve the smell.

I knocked down the wall of mammoth bones, brambles and mud (a superlative barricade emulsifier). I… may have become absorbed in my work… the happy hearth area outside the cave was a bloodbath. Scarlet pools with hairy limbs and tatters of face  scattered about like a dreadfully neglected beach. I stumbled out aghast into the massacre blinking in the bright sun, just in time to see Oo-nag. I hailed her and she turned to me with a quieting finger upon her lips. Silly girl, she hardly makes a sound anyway. I cried out and bounded towards her, bursting with enquiry.

A shadow fell across the plain. Its owner followed – a vast scaly lizard face descended and toothily snatched off my mud-maiden’s head. Her torso blundered, comically animate until it too was hoicked aloft and consumed. This was a disappointing outcome.

Filled with rage I bellowed at the monstrous reptile and jabbed it with my prickling staff, blasting the beast with Tesla’s art. It squealed and fled, its legs on fire. Damn them, damn them all. My work – wasted. This last pocket of proto-humanity snuffed out by beast-lizards – and all because they were incapable of modulating their throaty choking into a simple cry for help. Curse their baffling biology – were they better prepared to copulate I’d have had no cause to sequester their monster-proof cave.

I resolved to slaughter their butchers, those monsters that rendered my sketchings and study worthless. I, a scholar without subject, a husband without lady-apery. And so it is, many aeons later that we no longer have tortoises. My apologies.

The Scale of the Universe – An Interactive Flash Animation

Yaarr, a brings ye a treasure o’ the scientifical world. If ever ye’ve looked up at the stars, or into the gapin’ mouth of a whale ye’ll no doubt have pondered ye own inconsequence in the greater scheme o’ the universe. Contrariwise, if ye’ve ever emboldened yeself by looking down on a whelk or weevil ye have likely somewhat overstated ye importance.

The Scale of the Universe – An Interactive Flash Animation.

This charming Flash animation gives ye some proper perspective on where ye sit in the matter of the cosmos. She takes ye from the inconceivably dinky to the unfathomably vast (‘cos the number o’ fathoms’d be vast – obviously we’re in the process o’ fathomin’ the bugger. I was not intendin’ to suggest we’d be unable to fathom it. It’s just big ye damned pedant. I wanted to call ye a pendant).

Makes me wonder what kinds o’ terrifying beasties live further up and down ye scale, both at them smaller than me own eye can see and larger than I’d know I were lookin’ at.

Pulp Pirate 5

Ahar, me words can be in ye ears again! The most recent Flash Cast by the pulp fiction geniuses at Flash Pulp contains one of me little tales. Tis me Orthodontic Odyssey – a story of magic, miniature pirates and well-bosomed ladies. It’s with a new microphone and sounds especially nice. So you should listen in. My yarn’s about an hour in if you’re the impatient sort, but I’d powerfully commend to ye the entire helping of pulp related information and debate and an epic series of guest contributions (including me own humble gibbering). I still get an enormous thrill from the sound of me own guest intro music courtesy o’ Jessica May.

With contributions by Jeff Lynch, a new serial by Doc Blue, Three Day Fish‘s film reviews, Colorado Joe, Ingrid’s Mysterious Tales of Vienna,  the intriguing new section by ‘Gibraltar’ (?) and comment from Time Traveller Rich, Nutty Nutchas, Trilochon Chatterjee, Gigantor and all the folk I’ve failed to list here… it’s by far the best and most interesting podcast I listens to. Gaargh, it’s all so damn good.

You can listen to it here:

Flash Cast 52 Zombie Pie

The Water-Logged Adventure

Water poured into me boot while me peg leg grew damp, attracting amorous barnacles. I fear their improbable penile protrusions which dumbfound the scale o’ their horny shells. And yet I was forced to face me fear: the water rose still, drownin’ any mates below knee-height. Twas only one of us, old Skanky Truecalf who succumbed. He was an inevitable casualty of that fateful game of Snakes and Ladders, but given his role in our present misery he was no great loss.

Gaargh, it had been a week o’ bastardy. Monday saw the recurrence of that bleedin’ giant squid. Ye’d think that hacking off its tentacle’s’d dissuade the monster from tugging at me foremast. But no, tis merely a goading stick. It’s a piteous sight watching the stumpy cephalopod slip and slide, his lopped off puckerings futilely seeking purchase on the rails. We used our tin o’ sperm whale lady oil to lure a leviathan from the deeps and get the bugger munched once and for all. Tis a risky stratagem and naturally it cost us the life of young Fistbuttle who was smeared in the special whale sauce and dangled beneath the ship. Yarr, tis the way of the ocean.

Second (merely in time for these ghastly occurences defy me attempts to rank ’em in hideousness) was the attack o’ the bat-witches. Aye, I can tell ye’ve heard of them, though I doubts ye have been subject to their leather-winged depravity. The crew o’ the Grim Bastard have not had ye fortuity. They fell upon us from the rigging where they’d roosted since we’d blundered into the pitchy black fogs o’ Denmark on Tuesday. Twas bad enough in the fogs, but ye witches, squid and further horrors make it just a damp mist. In moments they’d shrouded three o’ me most virginal crew in the folds of their lascivious wings and hoisted ’em aloft. We could hear our mates’ mingled cries o’ passion and terror as the devil-wenches had their wicked way with them on the wing. We put balls in a pair of ‘em only to find we’d bored our boys as well as the beasts.

Mayhap we should have tried a less penetrative assault, but at least we’d spared ‘em some of the horror. Fire proved effective on the flying rat ladies and we torched ’em out, suffering their furry ash to fall across the deck. Now, fire’s fine and all  but its fondness for me sails makes it a back-stabbing ally. The flamin’ sails fell enveloping the rest of the squealing witches in fire. Twas a kind of justice.

After that we drifted. Our sails were blackened tatters and our spirits much the same. Thankfully we’d quite a store of rum with which we planned to while away the hours until we ground into land. Gaargh, we’d reckoned not with Skanky Truecalf’s pets. Our last landfall was the hidden island o’ Misbegottenmas. Tis an unlovely place, and filled with colourful folk, by which I means scoundrels and killers. Amongst them was a man with a curious and unhealthy fondness for unusual animals, in particular the Barbadan Sugar Otter. Truecalf found his treatment of the odd squirly tykes objectionable and promptly abducted them. They seemed nice enough, at least they’d no teeth for snappin’ so I’d granted him to leave to bring the scabby beasties on board. Me ambivalence turned to punchy displeasure when I learned that they were not sea-faring otters; indeed they were creatures of sugary liquor – Truecalf had cracked open the rum casks to give ’em swimming space in their fluid o’ choice. Aye, they were happy: drunkenly splashing about, covering me rum with a thick layer of sugary moultings.

Sail-less, rum free and on a ship filled with bored pirates. Grand. Twas shortly after the rum-ruination that the lads began to play Snakes and Ladders. Tis a complex sport reduced somewhat by having many ladders but no snakes. Gaargh, the ingenuity of a pirate mind – tie one o’ smaller anchors to a spinning rope. It’s slap was judged sufficient sting to supplant the serpent’s venom. Twas all jolly till Skanky Truecalf blundered into the midst o’ the game, clutching an otter to his face like the beard of a Wildman, hungrily sucking the rum from its matted coat. He reeled back and forth like a madman.

A vile infection, bred twixt the Barbadan Sugar Otter’s rummy sores and the scurvy that lurks in the absence of lemons within us all had gripped the man’s mind. Abruptly he spun and emptied his guts on the deck, splashin’ the bare feet of Hamish McMuffin, the present wielder of the whirly snake-anchor. In surprise, or spite (with Hamish it’s hard to tell) he let fly and the anchor knocked Skanky to the deck with a wet snap.  Twas apparently the prompt for the bewildered plague-bearing otter to leap into the faces of the pirates who circled him with cautious toes. Twas rampant amongst us. Our paranoid delusions spawned fleshy nightmares and we ran about shouting, tugging at our beards and punching one another in the nether sacks.

It must have been the erratic pistol firing and hooting of my crazed mates that attracted the angels of the night. From aft we saw their ship ride up, their sails black and be-decked with skulls. We greeted ’em in our frenzy with lusty shouts and the hurling of bottles. Me haze parted enough to recognise a demonic Captain Aaarsbeard at the helm. He no doubt meant to board us and relieve us of our booty; gaargh, I was torn between the desire to blast him and hug him but I hoarsely choked out a warning to me fellows. The lads leaped to their duties and despite the disease’s mind fog they prepped the cannons in an approximation o’ good practice.

Twas the second misfire that caused Aaarsbeard to back off. The first had launched the minnowesque Robbie The Bag Lad into the air with a cloud of gunsmoke – he landed in good foaming fettle and launched a spittling attacked Aaarsbeard’s crew. This were a clue that all was not well on the Grim Bastard. The second misfire shattered our gunwhales and we started takin’ on water at a rate of buckets. Aaarsbeard turned tail, already fighting with lead the plague Robbie had borne onto his ship. We was goin’ down regardless.

And that’s where I find meself at the end of this week o’ catastrophe: fendin’ off frisky barnacles with me cutlass while me ship lolls drunkenly in the sea, sloshing me mates with her cruel briny spit. And yet, in the distance… Mayhap tis land, for surely no beast could be so large and spiny. Perhaps next week’ll bring more joy to me pirate heart.