Alex Trepan: Detection Comes Early

The hammering on the door punched a horrible rhythm deep into Alex Trepan’s skull, shaking his brain loose from sleep. At first Alex was unsure whether it was just the force of his hangover which was pummelling his eyeballs but eventually the pulses separated and he could tell the door from his own self-pity. In an attempt to dispel some of the internal noise, he farted hard into the mattress, which seemed to displace some of the pain.

The hammering persisted, interrupted only by a regular muffled moaning which Alex (through years of similar experience) correctly identified as his own name, ejaculated by a female in distress. This was a normal morning.

Thankfully he’d failed to get undressed before falling asleep, so Alex pulled himself to his feet, stuffing them, with their unusually prehensile toes into his grandmother’s slippers. The door monger seemed in no hurry to leave so Alex made a token effort to clear some space; he bumped a table and sent half a dozen rum bottles, a stack of grievously abused paperbacks and an ashtray crashing to the floor. That stopped the hammering.

Alex opened the door, recalling as he did so his resolution to use the eye hole and safety chain. He shrugged to himself; he hadn’t even locked the door. It swung open to reveal a young lady, pretty (despite the fashionable sack-shaped garment she’d presumably been shipped in) with a minimum of makeup, though what had stuck to her face was of the distressingly orange variety. Yet another victim of the Boots Oompa-Loompas. The automatic act of mentally undressing her, involving as it does a certain amount of three-dimensional rotation and spatial mechanics, almost made Alex vomit on her ghastly sole-less pumps.

She spoke first, which was just as well because Alex’s first question was going to be unhelpful.

“Mr Trepan, are you hurt?”

This was a promising start, already his detective mind was revolving: the lady knew him, he did not recall her; this was not unusual. She was concerned, and might yet be coerced into making tea. Alex attempted a reply, but found his voice as yet gummed by a night’s rumming. With a throat clearance that would shame a tuberculosis patient he managed a teenager’s warble.

“How kind of you to enquire. Please don’t be concerned by my appearance…” he tailed off, unsure of whether she ought to be.

“Oh Mr Trepan, I warned you about how dangerous they could be,” so saying, she pushed Alex back into his flat, “dear lord, they found you here?” she exclaimed.

The shame Alex ought to have felt on letting someone into the hovel he lurked in was utterly outweighed by the pang of distress he felt from the young lady and a tingle of curiosity making its way past the brain throb.

In his years of working or at least surviving between call centre jobs as a private detective , Alex had learned when to just let people talk. One of those times is when you’re hungover and can’t engage in conversation. Another is when you have no idea what is going on. This was a good time to listen.

To be continued?

Captain Pigheart’s Misfortunate Mate Adventure

Gaargh, a first mate on ship be often the subject of a crews’ dislike and moanin’. Ye might think it fittin’ then that my first mate, Billy No Mates was so naturally suited to such daily loathin’. Aye, tis convenient. But tis not the story entire, for Billy were once a man with a mate or two…

Billy’s been me first mate since the day I laid me eye upon the Good Ship Lollipop as she transported lucky orphans to a happier place. Back then it were just me, Cack Handed Mick (aye, he were once in possession of a pair o‘ paws) and an emptied tavern of recently incarcerated drunks, dead set on a few weeks in the sun.

Billy was a bright-eyed young lad who’d fled the circus with high hopes of swashbucklin’ romance and wenchery. He’d been much impressed by me and Mick’s pub-based posturing. Now we’d been stringin’ him along for drinks for some while and ye tab was growin’ fearsome in proportion to the shrinking of his purse. Twas time for action, of a hasty and ill-planned nature. Tis what we do best. Since it was carnival season twas likely we could half-inch ye vessel with the use o’ costumery and dramatic license. We enticed Billy into the role of diversion.

And so, we loitered by the docks beneath an assortment of reeking nets and lobster pots, awaiting young Billy’s signal (the ringing of a tiny bell). There came forth no peals of success and me belly rolled with a tolling of woe. Then we heard a terrible crash, and suddenly the incumbent crew took it upon themselves to flee their vessel, their leaps taking them into the harbour as much as onto the dock. Strange. With a hint of trepidation we unhooked ourselves from our hiding place and hurried aboard, casting off as we went.

On the mid-deck I stopped short in horror. Spreadeagled on deck were the wings of a vast ocean-going bird known to all mariners, an albatross. The creature seemed dead, which accounted for the former crew’s swift exit. I considered following them, but for two reasons: one, we were already adrift and two, the plainly human legs which even now twitched and regained their normal relationship with ye deck.

Not being blessed with seaborne know-how, Billy had selected the costume most like his own circus garb, bein’ formerly of the clowning trapeze variety. I’d thought perhaps a harbour-master’s guise, or an allurin’ nun. Instead Billy had chosen a harbinger o’ maritime doom.

He never washed the taint o’ bad charm from himself. Ye might think that the removal of the costume would be enough to cleanse him. Normally, aye. Yet Billy’s method of acquiring the albatross were both impressive and damning. He’d attempted to thieve a costume from the ladies with the giant papier-mache bosoms, but they’d caught him and chased him with knives up the tower adjacent to ye docks. But they’d not reckoned with his circus roots, for he sped up the tower and onto its roof.

As the unfeasibly proportioned women climbed up to meet him, Billy spotted the albatross gliding past. With a cry he leapt for the beast, and grasped it firmly about the neck. The albatross was unprepared for becoming a double act and nose-dived into the deck of the Good Ship Lollipop.

Gaargh, we were undecided, but after detailed analysis over how the luck of an albatross affects a ship, we concluded that since Billy’d plainly killed the beast in self-defence (though not from the bird) and the ship’d been a-dock and not upon ye waves at the point o’ impact, then at worst the ill luck’d reside with Billy and not the Lollipop.

From that point on he were Billy No Mates; a fine crewman but prone to whingeing about his bad luck. Tis a remote possibility that some o’ that luck may have rubbed off onto ye Good Ship Lollipop, for we have been somewhat prone to misadventure.

Merry Christmas to Ye, One and All (and all for one)

Ahoy me seasonal ship mates! Tis time once more to make merry and be-grog oneself till ye fall overboard with nary a snicker. Aye, tis time to take comfort from ye fellows in whatever way ye sees fit. Tis a time for piracy and the festive relief o’ what artifacts ye might find under the roofs and boards of ye neighbours. I were recently bemused by a rebuke of me piratical ways and lightening of such material burdens as ye might have.

Now mistakes me not, I’d not countenance the thievin’ from ye poor on Christmas Eve, for what might be the point? The very fact o’ their poverty makes their wares o’ no worth. No – aims ye for the gilden windows of ye elite – at the least ye can extract the liver-stuffed goose awaitin’ their silver-spooned teeth marks. So make a point of it this Christmas – steal from ye rich and give to yeself; tis almost certain that ye’ve earned it.

So – in ye manner of Christmas spirit (make mine a rum) here’s a smidgeon o’ cheer from ye unnecessarily affectionate pirate. Ye might hear the odd mewl from Idle, me ship’s cougar in the background. Feel free to share far and wide:

Ye Little Christmas Tale:

In a spatterin’ of Christmassy cheer I’ve added ye most festive of me tales below for ye pleasure:

Should ye wish to read a-web…

For thems with a yearnin’ for alternate formats, ye shall find ye miracle o’ PDF here:

Captain Pigheart’s Little Christmas Tale

Captain Pigheart’s Polar Adventure

Captain Pigheart’s Accursed Christmas

And should ye be of Kindle-ish persuasion ye may email me and I’ll send ye the marvel direct.

Have a magnificently indulgent Christmas and I’ll gaaargh at ye in the New Yule.

Ye beloved Captain,

Ignatius Pigheart

Captain Pigheart’s Terrified Adventure

Greetings fellow Gentleman Ramblers, tis me honour and fortune to be regalin’ ye today with me adventures. Mind not the pistols in ye ribs; had ye but consented to listen ye’d not be at gunpoint.

We were, naturally enough, a-drink and adrift in a mysterious fug. Twas cloying and clung to me beard. From the densest o’ the fog came a dull roar and a twinklin’ sound such as ye might associate with frozen fairies tumblin’ to a floor o’ tiles. I made to alter our course but me peg leg’d been wedged in ye wheel as part of a curious game. We’d no choice but to boldly plunge deeper into the growling smog. Bolts of pink lightning sizzled into the seas about us.

Gaaargh, the ship and crew took on a bright pink glow, like when ye hold ye hand up to firelight and can see ye bones within (if it’s blackened ye’ve left it too long) and the very air vibrated around us. Time grew rubbery and stretched us about like the elbow skin of the world.

It ended with a soggy thunder and our elongation reversed with such suddenness that the limbs of some of me crew were permanently entangled. I had some trouble in detaching meself from Billy No Mates but twas nothing a quick slash could not fix.

Daybreak found the Lollipop twisting gently in pea-green water which lapped at the shore of an alien coast. Twas hot, humid and confusing. As me crew recovered their sea legs, if they could find them. Me first concern were the figurin’ of our position, for what maps we had were but the efforts of a child – never allow a man with no hands to do ye cartographin’. The presence of a number of enraged volcanoes was encouraging; perhaps we’d reached the pacific. Either way, it’d do us no harm to put foot ashore and see what could be seen from a height. Tis always possible we’d stumble upon lost treasure, or a map.

I permitted Barry to join me, and a pair o’ crewmen whose names I’d not yet bothered to learn, but who stood out for the brightness of their scarlet jerseys. Upon gaining the shore, we were immediately beset by insects of a frightful size and vigour. Barry forcefully batted a vast and mosquito into Red Jersey No. 1 (I’d made some effort to distinguish ‘em with numbers on their backs). Gaargh, its proboscis were huge (to echo Barry’s cry) and it wasted no time in burying itself in the lad’s face. Before we could stop it, the beast sucked the lad dry, and hung from his lifeless mug like massive bagpipes, so bloated that we were able to easily slay it. This were not an auspicious beginning.

Me fears were further realised by the immense roaring that penetrated our ears as we violated the ferny bush with our machetes. Twas the sort of noise that turns ye bowels to a seething broth, as Red Jersey No. 2 demonstrated unasked. Even Barry was shaken, but he’d spotted a future pair of boots and matching bag between the trees and urged us on.

Gaargh, I’ve seen a pair o’ creepy dwarf clowns clad in the leather of a single alligator, but this thing’d make catsuits for the whole crew. Twas like a heap of scaly elephants humpin’ a whale. Yet ye teeth, though huge were no sharper than the wits of me sailors. Mayhap this beast would merely trample us to paste.

So we crept nearer, angling to leap upon the dinobrute and stab it through the eyes. We almost had it when a low rumble behind us became a blood-curdling roar and the most terrifying thing of me life loomed over us. Its leg long teeth dripped drool into our hair and its rank stench filled our nostrils. With a snap of its claws it bounded over us and into our prey. Even Barry was sensible enough not to object. It proved a boon in many respects, for the leaf-munching proto-handbag was hardier than we’d imagined, ripping chunks from its attacker with horny toe-claws.

The giant tooth-master tore a strip of the other’s flesh clean off and victoriously tossed it into the trees above us. Barry was overcome with emotion, loudly declaring his delight as he seized it. He was too loud, like his tastes in fashion, and the vast beastisaurus, teeth gleaming with gore slowly twisted to regard us with hunger. Gaaargh, I felt no need to order a retreat; we ran as one, Barry’s new pelt flapping over his shoulder.

We dodged between trees as the slavering monstrodocus stomped hard on our heels, screaming furiously whenever we evaded his toothy embrace. Red Jersey No. 2 was sufficiently new to still benefit from a full complement o’ nature’s limbs and was outpacing ye captain most disrespectfully.

In a noble act o’ friendship I shoved Barry to one side, allowing our brightly caparisoned mate to distract the toothandclawedisaurus. One stumble was all it took and suddenly there was more red than mere fabric could provide. A terrible crunching and noisy gulping followed.

We used the lunch break to scramble into the dinghy and row for the ship like beaten slaves. But that damned beast was hungry still and lumbered into the waves after us. So hard were we rowing and bellowing to the ship to set sail that we barely noted the unusual waves fighting against the current.

We reached the ship as the fangster buried its dripping claws in the Lollipop’s deck, drawing the whole ship forth. It was a partial relief when vast jaws emerged from the frothing sea and clamped down on our terrestrial foe. The terrorbeast was dragged under the waves, tilting the ship until its claws ripped out and it vanished in an explosion of surf and blood. We climbed aboard with all haste as the roiling wake pushed us out to sea and back into the inscrutable fog.

We emerged from ye misty distension into our calm blue native seas. With a sigh o’ relief we discovered that we’d all get a new pair of boots; a noble sacrifice on the part o’ them Scarlet Jerseyed gents. I’d be able to share me experience o’ beastical mystery with ye Gentleman Ramblers. I’ve prepared a charcoal renderin’ o’ the beastie, which I’ve named for ye referential convenience, Ye Ignatiosaurus Scarletio Vex.

Greetings fellow Gentleman Ramblers, tis me honour and fortune to be regalin’ ye today with me adventures. Mind not the pistols in ye ribs; had ye but consented to listen ye’d not be at gunpoint.

 

We were, naturally enough, a-drink and adrift in a mysterious fug. Twas cloying and clung to me beard. From the densest o’ the fog came a dull roar and a twinklin’ sound such as ye might associate with frozen fairies tumblin’ to a floor o’ tiles. I made to alter our course but me peg leg’d been wedged in ye wheel as part of a curious game. We’d no choice but to boldly plunge deeper into the growling smog. Bolts of pink lightning sizzled into the seas about us.

 

Gaaargh, the ship and crew took on a bright pink glow, like when ye hold ye hand up to firelight and can see ye bones within (if it’s blackened ye’ve left it too long) and the very air vibrated around us. Time grew rubbery and stretched us about like the elbow skin of the world.

 

It ended with a soggy thunder and our elongation reversed with such suddenness that the limbs of some of me crew were permanently entangled. I had some trouble in detaching meself from Billy No Mates but twas nothing a quick slash could not fix.

 

Daybreak found the Lollipop twisting gently in pea-green water which lapped at the shore of an alien coast. Twas hot, humid and confusing. As me crew recovered their sea legs, if they could find them. Me first concern were the figurin’ of our position, for what maps we had were but the efforts of a child – never allow a man with no hands to do ye cartographin’. The presence of a number of enraged volcanoes was encouraging; perhaps we’d reached the pacific. Either way, it’d do us no harm to put foot ashore and see what could be seen from a height. Tis always possible we’d stumble upon lost treasure, or a map.

 

I permitted Barry to join me, and a pair o’ crewmen whose names I’d not yet bothered to learn, but who stood out for the brightness of their scarlet jerseys. Upon gaining the shore, we were immediately beset by insects of a frightful size and vigour. Barry forcefully batted a vast and mosquito into Red Jersey No. 1 (I’d made some effort to distinguish ‘em with numbers on their backs). Gaargh, its probiscus were huge (to echo Barry’s cry) and it wasted no time in burying itself in the lad’s face. Before we could stop it, the beast sucked the lad dry, and hung from his lifeless mug like massive bagpipes, so bloated that we were able to easily slay it. This were not an auspicious beginning.

 

Me fears were further realised by the immense roaring that penetrated our ears as we violated the ferny bush with our machetes. Twas the sort of noise that turns ye bowels to a seething broth, as Red Jersey No. 2 demonstrated unasked. Even Barry was shaken, but he’d spotted a future pair of boots and matching bag between the trees and urged us on.

 

Gaargh, I’ve seen a pair o’ creepy dwarf clowns clad in the leather of a single alligator, but this thing’d make catsuits for the whole crew. Twas like a heap of scaly elephants humpin’ a whale. Yet ye teeth, though huge were no sharper than the wits of me sailors. Mayhap this beast would merely trample us to paste.

 

So we crept nearer, angling to leap upon the dinobrute and stab it through the eyes. We almost had it when a low rumble behind us became a blood-curdling roar and the most terrifying thing of me life loomed over us. Its leg long teeth dripped drool into our hair and its rank stench filled our nostrils. With a snap of its claws it bounded over us and into our prey. Even Barry was sensible enough not to object. It proved a boon in many respects, for the leaf-munching proto-handbag was hardier than we’d imagined, ripping chunks from its attacker with horny toe-claws.

 

The giant tooth-master tore a strip of the other’s flesh clean off and victoriously tossed it into the trees above us. Barry was overcome with emotion, loudly declaring his delight as he seized it. He was too loud, like his tastes in fashion, and the vast beastisaurus, teeth gleaming with gore slowly twisted to regard us with hunger. Gaaargh, I felt no need to order a retreat; we ran as one, Barry’s new pelt flapping over his shoulder.

 

We dodged between trees as the slavering monstrodocus stomped hard on our heels, screaming furiously whenever we evaded his toothy embrace. Red Jersey No. 2 was sufficiently new to still benefit from a full complement o’ nature’s limbs and was outpacing ye captain most disrespectfully.

 

In a noble act o’ friendship I shoved Barry to one side, allowing our brightly caparisoned mate to distract the toothandclawedisaurus. One stumble was all it took and suddenly there was more red than mere fabric could provide. A terrible crunching and noisy gulping followed.

 

We used the lunch break to scramble into the dinghy and row for the ship like beaten slaves. But that damned beast was hungry still and lumbered into the waves after us. So hard were we rowing and bellowing to the ship to set sail that we barely noted the unusual waves fighting against the current.

 

We reached the ship as the fangster buried its dripping claws in the Lollipop’s deck, drawing the whole ship forth. It was a partial relief when vast jaws emerged from the frothing sea and clamped down on our terrestrial foe. The terrorbeast was dragged under the waves, tilting the ship until its claws ripped out and it vanished in an explosion of surf and blood. We climbed aboard with all haste as the roiling wake pushed us out to sea and back into the inscrutable fog.

 

We emerged from ye misty distension into our calm blue native seas. With a sigh o’ relief we discovered that we’d all get a new pair of boots; a noble sacrifice on the part o’ them Scarlet Jerseyed gents. I’d be able to share me experience o’ beastical mystery with ye Gentleman Ramblers. I’ve prepared a charcoal renderin’ o’ the beastie, which I’ve named for ye referential convenience, Ye Ignatiosaurus Scarletio Vex.

Captain Pigheart’s Hermitage Adventure

The roaring ocean tossed me about like a giantess with a sensual dwarf. The rain lashed me battered face, soothing the sunburn till the salty once again fertilised the pain in me cheeks.

Twas only the blinding sheets of lightning that granted me a slight sight of me destination. At the first flash I thought I saw a giant chicken bearing down on a tumescent squid. It flashed again and the poultry were gone, leaving but an island. I barely made it ashore, and I was grateful to the carpet of mating crabs which drew me over the sands with their undulating and left me half-buried in their crustaceous seed.

I lived amongst them for three years, till I outgrew the largest shell they had. With the shell stuck upon me I struck out for human society once more. I left behind two wives and a thousand younglings. Man were not hard to find, for I’d been living in me hermit shell not half a mile from the nearest village. They’d railed against me evil for months and I’d earned a small stipend from me work as a bogey man, terrifying infants should they wander into caves and such. I stayed away out of shame and I’d little keenness to return. However, with ye crabs’ recent social evolutions I were no longer welcome.

I sought out a friendly local to aid me in shedding me cumbrous shell. I was so distracted by the hunchbacky pain me personal caravan was causing me that until the blacksmith and his daughter had eased me out of the case I’d taken little note o’ me surroundings. A shudder passed down me twisted spine, poppin’ me vertebral moulding out of its conical shape. Upon the wall of the quaint cottage (by which I mean run-down and pestilential) and indeed across the laps of me charitable metallurgists was a sight I’d hoped never to lay me eye upon again.

I managed to mask me gasp with the syncopated chiropractic clickety-pops of becoming erect. Even as I wavered on me feet, me spine no longer suited to straight-forward standin’, ye crude willow-weave merkin clung to the wall, mocking me with its gash-sash. Perhaps it were too soon for human company. I awkwardly bellowed me thanks and ran side-wise out of the hovel.

For more o’ the merkin adventures, read Captain Pigheart All Washed Up.

Alex Trepan: Detection Comes Late

Part 2 (read part one here)

Alex gazed around the room, in hopes of locating the chair that was definitely here yesterday. He wandered off, leaving the interesting orange lady to her own gazing. Of course, the chair was in the kitchenette, where he’d used it to check whether there were any further bottles of rum hiding on top of the cupboards. Joyously he had apparently prepared for such an occasion and reaped the rewards of his planning. One reaps what one sows and so far he only had a sore head to show for it.

 Belatedly he realised that he was now a good deal closer to the tea making paraphernalia and might have to adopt a societal norm.

“Would you care for a cup of tea?” he asked.

“Oh, only if it’s no trouble,” she began.

“Well…” Alex sighed deeply and grimaced at the ache in his forehead. His visitor immediately offered to help. With his visitor engaged Alex was able to re-arrange furniture to conceal the worst of his nature, and button his trousers more completely. He sank onto the bed, and let her be soothed by the tea making ritual.

She was much calmer when she sat down on the chair behind the tiny stained table and placed both mugs of tea it.

“You found everything?” Alex couldn’t help but ask.

“Almost, you don’t seem to have any milk or sugar. There was only one tea bag so I’ve given it a good squeeze in both mugs. Well, my mug. That’s a jar,” she motioned towards my drink, “Sorry.”

“That’s fine, I prefer glass anyway,” it was time to shut up again, “so, you were saying…”

“Oh yes, yes I must have been. Hmm. Well Mr Trepan, as we discussed before I need your help.” This was accompanied by a wash of emotion which crashed against Alex’s head. He swayed in the rush of panic and fear, and clutched at the glass jar of tea before him. It was of course far too hot to hold comfortably.

“Oh dear, are you sure you don’t have a concussion, you really don’t seem very well.” She actually did have really pretty eyes.

“Perhaps a little… this can be a dangerous business you know.” Alex hazarded, “maybe we should just recap where we’re up to so far, to be sure we’re on the same page.” Or book, even genre would be a good start he thought. Damn it, what is her name?

“Of course,” she opened her handbag, a leather thing unnecessarily fringed with coloured cut-out Scottish terriers. Thankfully the first thing out was a plastic folder with a neat sticker in the top right corner with ‘Alison Seales – Assistant Deputy Administrative Co-ordinator of Clerical Relations’. An excellent start.

“Four days ago one of our employees didn’t come to work, a day later her house burned to the ground. I’ve been trying to contact her family but all of the contact numbers are dead lines.”

“Mmm. That’s certainly unusual.”

“That’s what you said yesterday.”

“Well yeah, I still think it’s unusual.”

“Have you managed to find anything out yet?”

“Ah, no. Not as such, it’s rather early in the day to have any news I’m afraid. I was wondering, Miss Seales, what exactly was her role in your company?”

“Alison,” Alex mentally punched himself, but did pick up on his once-again anonymous visitor’s pulse of concern at the name, “Alison was- is a vital networking component of our administrative team. She took responsibility for coordinating all of the clerical aspects of the meetings as well as the more important task of identifying those who could best contribute to any given agenda item. She has a real gift for that.”

“Mmm, it is an awfully long job title,” Alex mused, “she liaised with a lot of clients I suppose.”

“Oh certainly not. No, that would have been most inappropriate. If she needed information about a client she would most certainly have come to me.”

Alex was growing desperate, without even a name he was pretty much screwed for continuing the conversation.

“I think it’s important that I get a good grasp of er, Alison’s duties. Perhaps we could role-play that scenario.” This was just doomed to fail, Alex could feel it in his hopefully raised eyebrows.

“Um. If you think it will help.” She looked exceptionally doubtful.

“Great! I’ll start,” the fog of rum was lifting and Alex was starting to get his act together. In truth he wasn’t much of a detective, but he could improvise his way in and out of most things. As a bonus, the girl, woman (damn it he needed a name, he couldn’t even decide on what to call her in his head) was still agitated and he was getting a trace of her feelings.

“(I’m going to pretend to call you because I need to talk about a client. You just correct me where needed and it’ll work out fine).”Alex proceeded to affect a gentle feminine Scottish accent, “Och, hallo Beth, I was just wondering if I could have a wee chat with you about Mr Ogilvy,” blissfully the woman/girl/lady visitor interrupted almost immediately.

“What? I’m Jessica, but she’d only ever call me Miss Dreamond at work. Alison isn’t Scottish, she’s from Derby.”

“Sorry Jessica,” YES, “I just get a bit carried away with roleplay. I just can’t do the Derby accent. It’s so.. East Midlandy. Tricky you know. It’s good to hang a character on the voice you see.”

Alex felt he’d covered that pretty well, and gained at least two lovely nuggets of information, although she did look unimpressed.

“Alright, well. All that’s in the folder I gave you yesterday. Look, the point is, I’m very concerned. No one in the company is doing anything about it. She’s gone missing, her house has burned down and no one cares. That’s why I’m here. I hoped you’d found something out last night.” She (Jessica Dreamond) seemed about to give Alex a vital clue, he almost literally hovered on the edhe of the bed, but…

“I’ve got to get to work. Look, I’ll call you later alright? I can’t be late, not now.” She got up, placing her still-full mug on the table. Alex rose too, a bit too quickly but managed not to knock the table over again. At the door Alex thanked her for coming. She looked like she was about to cry, but recovered herself with a brief stroke along her eyebrows. Interesting technique. Alex felt he ought to say something, in hopes of clawing back whatever professional appeal he might possibly have impressed on her the day before.

“Okay – be careful. And thanks for the tea.” Yeah, that ought to do it. He closed the door and returned to bed.

 Alex was still a bit concerned that he didn’t remember Jessica. Anyone that orange outside of the cosmetics counter usually gave him palpitations. Idly he fingered one of the three circular holes in his scalp, it gave him that vertiginous sensation – a tingle of pain mixed with tickling; a bit like using cotton buds slightly too far inside your ears.

Captain Pigheart’s Reparative Adventure

The air was filled with the scents o’ smoke, sweat and unnatural couplings. It was me first day of rehabilitative labour.

They shipped us all out together from the Bastard’s Fate in an experimental programme of reparation, whereby we’d do some tinkerin’ or other and with luck escape ye gibbet. Twas all a touch vague and yet if it kept the rope from me throat I was sure I could endure it. There’s no need to go into the exact nature of me crimes, suffice to say that they featured the daughter of a duke and a terrible misunderstanding of what “polishin’ me stump” means.

We’d been given a number o’ options from which we could choose to best reparate our harms upon ye community. Gaargh, me numerous disabilities counted out ye pleasant soundin’ jewellery untanglin’ for me hook’d only aggravate the twists and the prospect o’ gold’d likely lead to further trouble. I’d no desire to gather the bodies o’ plague victims or suffer the urine stench o’ a pity shop full of knick-knacks and used nether-wear.

I was left with ye bracin’ outdoor work; I’d not minded the prospect of some fresh air and a chance to toughen meself after a few months in Admiral Kneehorn’s Bastard’s Fate stronghold. However, I’d failed to anticipate the sheer thuggery of me fellows. I likes to see meself as a gentleman pirate, though tis mainly me garb and money that belonged to gentlemen. But me companions were a bestial mob intent only on beatin’ each other senseless and carvin’ their names in their arms. Scarce capable of speech, their signatures were mere variations on an “x” and a stab.

Gaargh, anyhow they bundled us out of the cart onto the worksite, from where we picked ourselves up and seized the most likely tools for shankin’ one another. I’d some sympathy for poor Johnny with his trowel and Alan who found only the gardening gloves, but tis a brutish environment for the timid and dull. After the first few inevitable deaths ye guards finally instructed us in our tasks. We’d be humping mud from one end of the valley to t’other, which sounded poor enough, but with the added ignominy of running a gauntlet of socially conscious parents who’d turned out to ensure some more apt punishment were meted out for whatever misdeeds we’d done deeded.

Gaargh, I’d thought the other prisoners vile enough, but the shrieking outrage of what turned out to be the local parent teacher association was too much to bear. With their pointy shoes and upset at havin’ a workgroup of such scum as we near their village, they harried us up and down the valley with a shower of rocks and spittle.

We slept on the ground that night beneath the disease infested blankets donated by that same gang of local do-gooders. How I longed for me freedom. I was kept awake for most of the night by the sounds of rough and unwelcome fornication in the bushes. Me fellows were victims of their own urges and had never learned the restraints of decent society. I vowed to never let an illiterate man aboard me ship again. I staved off unwanted attention with sharp jabs of me mud-spear, an unusual and unhelpful tool intended for the pricking of mud prior to its removal. This was a bafflin’ place.

By the second afternoon of futile mud prodding I felt I’d partaken sufficiently of ye punitive time-wasting to be sure o’ privacy in me future lady-delving affairs. Twas time to engineer an exit. I took advantage of the considerable girth and hirth (tis a similar measure o’ height) of a pair o’ moron thieves who’d managed to carve their names in each other’s faces in a gesture of criminal fraternity. Thus concealed in their misshapen shadows I tailed ‘em adroitly until they were set upon by a gang of these vigilante parents. Seizing me chance I adopted the manner and pitch of a young child – forcing the perspective against them giant lugs to seem shorter than I be. Ye art classes are often of such use.

So guised I threw meself on the mercy of those mothers and fathers so keen to assault the lags. They seemed positively thrilled to be involved in the legal process, especially the punchy part of punishment. Their thrashin’ desires grew when I whispered of how the convicts kidnapped me and proceeded with unnatural fiddlin’ while I doled ‘em out their charity juice.

I was kindly escorted to a nearby orphanage where I received tea, too much porridge and admiration for me youthful beardy blush. Me missing parts only confirmed for the gulls the truth of me account with those beastly criminals, the horrors o’ whom I recounted nightly to en-fear ye other children.

There I preyed on their charity for some weeks till I could maintain me falsetto lisp no more. With an orphan under each arm and a knapsack of goodies I fled by midnight for me ship and crew. I’d learned me lesson well, and would surely not get caught again.

Captain Pigheart’s Cetacean Adventure

image

The deck of the Grim Bastard was awash with the bitter tears o’ the sea, her sails slashed with the fury of a scorned harlot.

Aye, and she had just cause to toss me vessel ‘tween her troughs, for once again in our drunken folly we’d spurned the hairless beasts spawned by her salty nether-fountain. Ye assortment o’ horrors fishy, be-toothed and tentacular what thronged in her deeps (venturin’ too oft also into her shallows) had besieged us as we sought naught but honest trade in the goods of others.

We sought to escape the ill luck that had pestered us by taking a cultural tour of the Baltic. Our first stop was the bustlin’ port town o’ Gloomåë Bøstardsen which, despite its glummy name, was the finest whore-filled harbour of opportunity and delicious vice on the coast of Finland. The normally suicidal folk o’ the Norselands’d found a place to spend ’emselves in wench and wine before expirin’ in a sauna, thrashin’ one another with sticks.

We interrupted their genial knife-fighting to enquire about their famed whale pummellin’ contest. Me most morose crewmate, Shänkly Morbidsonsen revelled in the many grudges and humiliations he’d acquired as a child in this bleak land. Perhaps could regain his manhood with a spot o’ dolphin-slappin’. He slapped down his huge fists and enrolled the crew in this highlight of the Finnish calendar. All the sons o’ Bøstardsen’d signed up to beat the hell out of a cetacean punchin’ bag and show us upstart pirates who’d be dead in the snow the mornin’ after.

The contest was a terrifying display of drunken bravado and maudlin mammal mauling. Tis a curiously ill-defined sport, for ye object was to dash out as far as ye dared and punch the largest whale ye could reach. We waded out into the shallows and while ye big Fins punched through their tears and me lads met ’em blow for blow.

The sea was as dark as the looming month-long night to come. For reasons unknown to the locals, the whale kin chose this bit of coast on which to prance and fornicate. Twas a poor choice, for there was surely some other enhumpinateable sand bank where folks were less prone to drunken punching and knife fights.

Me boys were acquitting themselves well, though there’d been some upsets – No Hands Mick’s prosthetic fists’d been banned so he could only batter ‘em with his stumps, bless him. Barry was found pluggin’ a dolphin in its blow hole – tis not the accepted form o’ punching hereabouts. He was gently dissuaded and spent the remainder of the contest wooing porpoises.

Now me lad Shänkly  had stunned a humpback whale with one blow and drawn the attentions of a great lass, by which I mean huge, who lay about the whales with a meanness born o’ young nights terrified by tales of the albino hippopotamuses dwelling in the forests. Surely tis an awful prospect and one that drives ye Fins to drink and incomprehensibly violent music. Gaargh, despite the gravity of the woman (for she drew waves and even the moon seemed larger) I could not help but compete with Shänkly  for his femininish prize, for such be me pride.

With the bravery of spiritual libation I swam out to deeper waters where ye larger sea moose cavorted. I must have stumbled upon one mid-thrust for it squealed and reared up. At first I thought it an impressive male, for its horn split the moon in two – then I realised twas from its head. In some state o’ startlement meself I lamped it in the face with all the strength I could muster. The horned beast tumbled backwards, snortling bubbles as it fell back into the sea.

I turned triumphant to the shore to the roar of me crewmates and a somewhat less heartening gasp o’ horror from the locals. The great barrel of a woman that Shänkly ’d his eyes upon (how could ye not for she eclipsed the landscape) bellowed at me, “ye fool ye’ve doomed us all”. In truth, the number of times I’ve heard that has quite diminished the worry it ought to incite. In addition she used an exotic range of vowels which reduced her intelligibility to whalesong. However on this occasion it was backed up by the frantic dash of Fins for the sanctity of their saunas, and by Shänkly  grabbing me by the collar and bellowin’ “ye’ve knocked out the narwhal princess! Tis time to be gone.”

In haste we splashed towards the Good Ship Lollipop and her alluring rope ladders. From behind came the deep hoon of irate cetaceans. As they surged forwards their fresh wake drove us onward. We’d almost made the ropes when a forest of twisted horns rose out of the sea beside us – the narwhal court set to avenge the honour of their princess. Brave Shänkly tugged Barry free from the enamoured porpoise he rode and forced us up the ladders before turning back to the big spike-faced fish.

Gaargh, I almost leaped back to fight by his side, but the grim set to his face reminded me of me duty to the crew and me preference for survival. Shänkly took a mighty gobful o’ the vodka from his traditional flask and spat fire impressively but futilely, for the beasts were sodden; though he did surprise ‘em before fisting ‘em roughly. As we gained the deck he’d been joined by his lummox woman who rivalled some of them in size, though not, as it turned out in sharpness. The pair fought with courage till they were caught by the brutes, their horns punchin’ through ‘em till they became glum pin cushions pierced in the narwhals’ bloody needle-point.

We set sail. Behind us the leviathans were launching themselves out of the sea onto the beach, flattening the saunas which offered scant protection, and the birch flails still less. The narwhals pursued us but fell back as they grew weary of the impenetrability of our hull, where they dangled from their faces till we cut them loose. I’ll miss Shänkly. Though he was a melancholic fellow he did tell fine tales o’ them white hippos to scare the cabin lads. For my part I’ve a lovely new unicorn o’ the sea peg leg, and a new-found enemy in whale-kind. Twas a good night out. On then to the festival village of Guttering Honk and their notorious owl-gargling rituals.

Scribblin’ With Pirates

Usually the Captain only posts stories, but today we thought we’d do something slightly different. We? I reckon most writers find they get a bit schizophrenic when they’re busy scribbling away. For me, writing is locked up in the voice of the character – if I can’t think and speak like Ignatius I can’t write for him either. Sadly that’s what’s happening today, though if I’m lucky and talk about him enough he’ll pop out and say hello. It may just be that I’ve been fairly prolific of late (for me anyway) and so he’s having a quiet pint of rum and awaiting his next big adventure.

The most recent stories have, I think, been some of his best for a while – The Cetacean Adventure went down well when I read it at Pub Poetry Nottingham last week. I’ve also recently written a pirate story from the perspective(ish) of one of the other characters. It probably doesn’t sound much different from the Captain, but it felt very different to write and I got it out in a single evening’s scribble: The First Confession of Monty McBuboe. He’s long been one of my favourite incidental characters – an inexhaustible source of leprous limbs and gags about them falling off. I plan to write more – the change of viewpoint gave me some new things and weaknesses to investigate.

More story ideas have been pricking at my brain (in its vat) for a while now, but I am struggling to finish them off. That often happens to me. It’s probably a consequence of my abysmal planning habits for writing. I know a lot of people do all this clever plotting and research and stuff which never fails to impress me and clearly pays off. It doesn’t seem to be how I write though… For me it’s an impulsive stream of brain gloop undammed by the first line of story which has disturbed my enwhiskeyed reverie. From there, with luck, it tootles forth into the world as a first draft. I then hack at it. Repeatedly, with my blade of editorial gibbery. Some tales take more slicing than others but I don’t stop until I’ve slaked its inky thirst.

I’ve got a first draft of the next Franklyn de Gashe story, The Theatrical Entertainment. It’s far from ready yet, but features automata, Shakespeare and some quite worrying dismemberment as well as the return of the time hamster. I like him because he has the potential to be so much nastier than anything in the pirate series. Alex Trepan should be back soon too, although that’s a series which is causing me serious problems with rambling; again that’s a result of my awful planning process. I’m hoping his brand of amnesiacal adventuring will be backed up by my improvised kind of writing style.

Next up though is a new band of characters directly inspired by a dream I had a few weeks ago. It started with a superhero family on their routine Sunday hike and ended with revelations about their leader’s suicide resulting in a brand new alloy and the extermination of every mint plant within 5,000 miles (HRLGRL, the Earth’s only assassin told him it could kill him). It was a weird enough dream to make me want to find out more about them. It’s going to be called Galaxy Team when I’ve found a voice to write it in. As yet I’ve been unable to write it as comedy, so I’ve been using a lovely Android app called Evernote which lets me record audio notes and scribble wherever I am. Getting out of the shower has proved to be an oddly fertile time.

So – that’s me for now. I have birthday cards to make and Galaxy Team to work on. See you later.

Dreaming in Hydrocarbons

This isn’t a story, it’s just a dream I had last night.

My dreams are often vivid in the summer and I blame the damned sun.

Starts with a local football match, hugely well attended on a rough looking pitch by the edge of a motorway. It’s a tense match. There’s a lot of rivalry between the teams and the crowd moves with them. As a player rushes to score, leaning in to kick the ball into goal the ball explodes in a burst of fire, incinerating the player. Shock and awe roll through us, he was a favourite of the crowd.

The match is cut short, after the pitch invasion and the police turn up. The ambulance crew collect only the player’s left (non-kicking) foot and the boot it wears. By my own feet I find a scrap of the football leather, smoky and slick with a blackness.

Folk pile onto the coach after the game; we’re packed in tight. A woman next to me won’t stop crying. Another woman gets on the coach collecting money for the dead player’s family, to buy them a sofa. I give her some change. We drive off, but stop regularly. Each time another collector gets on board. This time there’s some angry shoving and one of my neighbours informs me that it’s not so much charity as promotion – each collector is from one of the huge shops down the road, collecting money so they can give the victim one of their products. This seems less appealing and noble.

I crane my neck to see out of the window, face pressed upside down at the glass. This most recent chugger is from an oil company, next to the sofa warehouse. This is clearly suspicious, and with my weeping companion I force my way through the crowded bus and disembark.

The gloom of the football match is slightly less depressing here, and the oil refinery’s shop front is a beacon of welcome. We avoid the welcome and wander through the tarmac forecourt and out behind the complex of buildings. We’re met with a range of low, green hills spotted with open pools of oil, still or bubbling. We pause to inspect pool #1 according to the signpost. Again, by my feet I discover a scrap of something. This time it’s a piece of worn tyre, also slimy with oil. It’s warm and feathery to my touch. My companion bursts into tears.

From here on I can only recount to you the ensuing adventures as I heard them from my double, the thread of consciousness that separated from me when I touched that rag of rubber and oil and became embodied in the oil.

With that first contact with a living entity came awareness for the first time in aeons. I could escape the long death of existence. Carefully, cleverly I insinuate myself into the living thing kneeling by the pool of my kin. And feel anger as I realise what this place is, the desecration of our tombs, the abuse of our dead.

Over the next days I gradually take this body over and plasticise it, spreading myself thin and then drawing up more of me into my cause.

Small, petty political acts have no impact on these monsters who plunder our long rest. Clearly direct action is required. By now my body is fresh and new, minted from the dead source but outwardly identical to any other person. My plan is to infiltrate the refinery and destroy it.

To that end I return to the strip of businesses down the motorway. On the same plot as the oil shop there’s a house of comfort which backs on to the oil refinery’s office block. I go into the brothel and carefully mimic human speech. The gentlemen in the small office are only too keen to meet my business requirements. The office gives way at the rear to a brightly decorated silken room where a young woman sparsely dressed in yellow, blue and orange appears towelling dry her long dark hair.

The effort of speech is almost overwhelming but I bide her sit and be quiet. I have already killed her three colleagues in the office and have no desire to end her life too. I am running out of time. I quickly go to the bathroom and utlising the flexible qualities of my true nature I twist and flow up and out of a high window.

I find myself in the triangle formed by the buildings’ closeness. Before me another window. This one leads into the refinery; I climb inside. It’s dark but the darkness is punctuated by rippled of bright coloured pinpricks. I’m at the heart of the operation. The computers are easy to overload and they hum wildly, rattling in their racks. My body is failing me, inhabiting this wild flesh is too hard for one so old and dead as I. Somehow I hold it together until I hear the first rush outside and the crash as my oil-brothers strike the roof and walls of the refinery. Then I collapse as the come through the windows and doors to reabsorb me into their peace.

In the aftermath of the refinery explosion I’m off to see another football match. The explosives used to kill the player the month before had been traced to a marketing consortium operating along the coach’s route. There would be no sponsorship for the next season and my hands still feel greasy. My friend resumes her weeping.

Captain Pigheart’s Stowaway Adventure

“I’ve sailed from one end of these oceans to the next and I’ve seen little of the Heavens and Earth ye finds in ye cups Horatio.” We’d been drinking since sunset by firelight. Me guest were one Horatio the Hermit who’d been so kind as to join us in the capacity of stowaway. It’d been a while since any fool had hidden aboard our ship, still less as one disguised as a rabbit hutch. Poor Barry’d been most disappointed as he knelt to stroke the bunny’s ear to find only the twisted beard of some stinking malcontent.

I’d planned to toss him overboard but the man’s silver tongue stayed his execution. Horatio babbled about a sacred cove o’ the ocean where man could commune with the watery gods and receive their blessin’. He was as mad as a flying fish, but o’ course that don’t necessarily make him wrong. We were needful o’ diversion for having plundered mightily off the Spanish coast we now neared the alcoholic doldrums o’ boredom. Our course were set, and for further amusement I ordered the hobo cleaned.

When we reached the Hermit’s temple cove we had a celebratory barrel-draining – just me, Horatio, Barry and Mick ruddy in the light and in various stages of passing out. There came startling thunder from all around us, though it were dry and the stars were clear as day, well – as they be on a clear night (ye knows what I mean). Twere strange. The sea was calm beneath us and yet when we cast lanterns over the side, the water itself was bubbling fiercely. I dashed for the helm to steer us from these queer waters – there was a slight wind I hoped to exploit. As I hobbled over, the seas exploded about us in great fountains of luminous spray, each topped by a mass of jellyfish.

I stood at the wheel, flanked by me battered buddies, gobs agog and gaping with slack-jawed surprise. A deep thrumbling from below forced the rhythmically writhing maritime beasties out of the water. Gaargh, the beauty o’nature near unmanned us, the pulse of the ocean penetrated the inebriate veil we’d drawn over our senses, flinging water over the planks. Horatio bounded over to the rail with customary grace, tripping and flinging himself over the side.

We found him treading water by the ship’s side, lit with an eerie pink from below. “Hop in lads, the water’s lovely”, the man declared. Mick and Barry were already mounting the rail when Horatio chuckled, “there’s a ticklin’ at me ankles, why ye little mischiefs”. A premonition struck me, and I laid a hand and hook upon the shoulders of me crew mates as they straddled the railing. They twisted angrily in me grip, keen to enjoy the peculiar pink waters but I held ‘em tightly.

Sure enough, me creepin’ concern were based on a solid grasp of our likely misfortune. “Why tis the ocean’s own kisses of love as in the days of ancient Greece” Horatio’s babble turned to the inevitable cries and screams as the water foamed redly about him. Barry and Mick’d returned all four o’ their feet to the deck. “Tis likely too late for a rope…” Mick commented as the hobo-hermit vanished in a whirl of bubbles and flashing teeth.

The author of the vanishing sea tramp reared suddenly from the water, borne up on another mast of brine: an horrific writhing mass of teeth and eyeballs, making me suspect the dancing sea beasts were merely escaping its dinner-time intentions. Even in our drunken state we pirates are professionals to the last and twas only a few breaking toes that slowed us in rolling a cannon across the deck. The beast was using its teeth to haul itself up the hull, its horrid eyes goggling at us with hunger, tatters of Horatio being snapped up by lower mouths as they tumbled towards the sea.

“Blast the demon back into the deeps lads,” I bellowed, quite forgetting that Mick still wore his drinking mitts and could only bash at the fuse with a mug. Meantimes the beast was on deck – with me pistol I blasted away one facet of its fishy features which merely caused it to shriek and lash out toothily at Barry who was dashing across the deck with a lantern and taper. The lantern bounced off the piscebeast and onto me waiting hook, but the taper was snapped up by the fiend as it latched onto Barry’s leg. Mick set to whacking the brute with his stein-fists while I whirled, desperate for some tinder to spark alight Mister Boom (as we’d named the cannon earlier).

There was naught to hand, and me lads were in trouble. Naught to hand, but to foot..? I smashed the lamp to the deck and thrust me peg leg into the oily flames. The rum reserve I kept within its hollow core burst into light and I put me enflamed stump to the cannon’s Boom Whisker (the naming’d gone on for a while). Mister Boom kept true to his name and atomised the ghastly sea beast, casting a fishy mist across me and me crewmates. Untethered, Mister Boom thundered back into the foremast, delivering a fatal blow to her upright fortitude.

With a weary creak the mast split and tumbled, smashing down onto the headless stub of the sea beast as it battered against the deck searching for its snappy noggin. With spars embedded in it, the whole lot slipped and tipped off the Grim Bastard, threatening to tug the ship over with it. Only the quick-thinking of me crew, alerted (finally) to the threat by the cannon’s discharge, of hacking at ropes stopped us from following the beast into the depths. The pink temple of fizzing water collapsed back into the sea and apart from the swathe of destruction across the Grim Bastard’s deck there was no sign of the wondrous events of the night. “Right,” said No Hands Mick, “that settles it – stowaways go overboard”.

Galaxy Team ~ The Beastlie Brothers

“November 1977, the home of geography teacher Doyle Humpester [still photograph of man holding chalk] is struck by a nuclear blast, which ignites the gas main destroying his home and everything in a quarter mile radius [aerial view of the smoking ruin of the street]. Mr Humpester and his wife, Anne, are recovered alive and in good health from the radioactive rubble a week later [wedding photograph of Mr and Mrs Humpester]. Humpester is heard to claim that they were, and I quote ‘reassembled by the Magnetic Lords of Atlantis’. They are both taken to Northfork military hospital [location classified] to recover and be assessed. Nine days later Doyle and Anne are reported to have escaped after apparently petrifying the guards [still photograph of soldier, skin texture is distinctly granular] and turning the facility walls into a permeable jelly [still photograph of ragged, spongy hole in wall]. They disappear for twenty-three years. [MOD classified notice]”

The film peters out and the kid flips the lights back on. He turns round and goes “so, what do you think? I got it from a bag I found on a train between London and Brighton.” I grimace, which is tricky with teeth like mine “Well, I don’t think Dad’s going to like it.” The kid’s not listening though. I think his name is Chris or something boring and he’s babbling on about the other videos and papers that were in the bag, “one of the others gets into all the weird stuff that went down in the ‘80s and ‘90s, like that village in Wales disappearing.” “You don’t say” I mutter under my breath. “And there’s one on the Beastlie Boys and that pub where everyone died and the-“ I bristle at that (I can’t help it) and place my hand on Kevin’s shoulder. For the first time he shuts up and pays some attention.

He’s what, twenty-two? I found him on an internet forum devoted to geeking out and theorising about the activities and origins of Galaxy Team. Most of it is just mental nonsense, but now and again someone says something that sounds less crazy. And when you also hear that the Ministry of Defence has lost another laptop or left a folder on the tube… So I sought him out, Chris, Keith whatever and got myself invited to a little home movie showing in his mum’s cellar. That he’s showing me VHS footage only backs up its authenticity. “Listen kid,” I say, “you shouldn’t believe everything you hear about the Beastlie Boys”. Carl looks worried. He should be. I growl, and my claws slide out, curling over his shoulder, thick hair sprouts out of my sleeves. There’s a thump, a thud and a stifled scream followed by another thud and the sound of breaking glass from above us. Charlie goes white. “Sorry mate, that’ll be your mum”. The crashing continues.

I look at the kid with my real eyes, all black and rimmed with fur. “You’re about to die, so you may as well get some of your facts straight.” Tediously Kyle starts to blubber, “bu-bu-but you’re m- Mu’Tant Ra Koon”. I sigh, “yep and only me and my brother upstairs know what really happened in that pub. So you want to know, or do you want to die sooner?” I admit they’re not the best options in the world, but he managed to snot-bubble out a yes.

“We were the first to survive, me and Man-Ho Tujsk. We were four when Dad started the experiments. I guess that sounds pretty bad to outsiders but he was a great dad. We used to play with cyborg baboons and laser ducks in the mornings, get hypno-educated in the afternoons and at night Dad read us fairy tales and crime thrillers. This was all in Llandwi-ge-Hw of course, occluded from view. Dad was always determined that his children should be as special as he and Mum had become.

“He’d managed to get hold of some decent DNA from one of those freeze-dried Siberian mammoths and a Cuban contact had slipped him some thirteenth century land sloth genes. That’s where I get these claws from. Now Dad’s a genius, no doubt about that but that doesn’t mean he thinks too far ahead. So sure, you can shoot your boys up with retro-viral mammoth and sloth DNA and give them amazing super-powers but it’s definitely going to limit their potential for gainful employment.

“More importantly, it was going to be tough to meet girls. We were sixteen, we wanted to meet girls, go to the pub, do normal things. So we sneaked out through the Imperceptibubble and headed to the nearest pub, The King’s Chestnuts. We knew we’d stick out a bit, but Mum had long taught us the magics of the ancients (or as Dad said, old science) and we could at least hide the tusks, fur and claws which might seem odd to the locals. We thought we were doing alright – we’d gotten served (cider, naturally for teenagers) and settled into a dark corner.

“What we didn’t know was that MI6 had been using the pub as a small base of operations since Llandwi-ge-Hw went missing and we were exactly the sort of thing they were looking for. They pulled out guns; we pulled out our claws and tusks. We can rip up a bar pretty quickly, and managed to throw enough barstools and tables around to get us outside and into the beer garden. There was a lot of panicking and yelling, and then helicopters turned up – black against the night sky. Without any warning they threw out gas grenades. They must have misjudged the wind because it all streamed away from us and over the pub.

“Within a minute all the MI6 guys and the pub staff were dead and we were standing in a spotlight. I thought we were dead too, but the helicopters exploded and crashed flaming to the ground. It was Dad, in the Petulance, the jet he’d built to spite Mum’s ban on motorbikes.”

I look down at Clive, “not our fault you see.” The cellar door falls inwards and I see Man-Ho Tujsk’s big shaggy feet at the top of the steps. “Right then. Time for us to go Colin.” “So, you’re the good guys?” he whines. What can I say? “It’s complicated”. He looks sort of relieved, until I lean forwards and pull his head off. I gather up the tapes and go upstairs.

“What was you doin’ down vhere?” Man-Ho asks as we leave the house, locking the door behind him. The fire catches and blows out the windows as we close the gate. “Just thinking about old times bro’.”

Occasional Poetry from @shankanalia

“I rarely write poetry of any kind, being possessed of only the crudest sense of the form. If it don’t rhyme I don’t get it. Well, I’m not that bad, but I’m not naturally inclined towards the stuff. When I am it tends towards the violent and odd. Judge for yourself. Some may in fact be songs. Apologies for the meanness of them if you don’t enjoy that sort of thing. Sometimes I wonder if I am in fact a “bad person”. Meh. This sort of gibbery is, I find, an excellent form of stress relief, and frankly it keeps me out of the cell which I feel would otherwise be my destiny. Thank goodness for Twitter and a degree of literacy.”

Love Shank
I made a love shank for you
From a toothbrush and glitter glue
From my lips (teeth) to your heart
Sparkly aorta
Sparkly aorta
Love

Mops
There’s blood on the floor over here
There’s blood on the floor over there
There is blood on the floor
There is blood on the floor
There is blood on the floor
Instead of in you.

Rose Tinted Ocula
I stab you in the eyes
Looks like you are weeping
But you’re not weeping
The future’s rosy
But you are bleeding
Bleeding eyes
Like a fire in your eyes
A reflection of my pain
But in your own eyes
Burning light away
Burny eye-flame
Tears of gasoline

Wings
Oh hot fluttery butterflies of bibble-babble,
How you flipple and twist in the windy wind.
I hope your taffeta-pretty flappies don’t get stripped and nasty tatty.

Shankette
Twice in the ribs and once in the spine,
~shank shank shank~
Gonna make you whine
And I’ll taste your pain.
(note awkward rhyme with ‘pine’)

More kinds of anguished rage-making can be found on Twitter under @shankanalia

Franklyn de Gashe ~ The Theatrical Entertainment

Space convulsed. Flames of black snaked around me as I warped in and out of existence before being squeezed out of the temporal effluvium. I stuffed the time hamster back into its velvet pouch. The poor thing was shaking and clearly needed the sunflower seeds I tapped its face with. I’d been hard at work before the peelers had disturbed the Duke and I, prompting my chrono-rodential translation into this musty hole. My escape through the rodent’s portal had been as rough as ever. My cuffs were quite disarrayed although the time hole had apparently scraped clean my jacket and taken the bloodstains from my favourite strangling gloves. I’d just have to re-sanguinate them.

With the feel of the hamster stuffing its cheeks against my liver I mustered an interest in our surroundings. The stench of failure squatted in the air like a fetid whore in the gutter. The room, dark; dimly lit by dangling brass orbs. The floor boarded and scuffed, obscured by a vulgar rug depicting nothing but the weaver’s limited imagination. The chairs had been wisely bolted to the floor (how I loathe the habit of guests rearranging furniture), the table in the centre bore manacles, straps and a curious patchwork pigmentation. Promising. I’d marbled a slab or two myself. I was reminded of the lair of the Mire people on whom I’d preyed whilst dwelling amongst the shark giraffes in the Afric valleys. Of course their torturous habits were as nothing to the agony of their conversation, which marked them as victims for any philanthropically inclined assassin.

The damp aggravated my asthma so I prepared a pipe of ‘Victor Shartbritches’ Finest Health Shag’ which happily displaced both the lung clag and my general dismay. Pipe in teeth I browsed the ground floor which had been curiously carpeted with a littering of springs, bolts and metallic detritus. The pantry was a tumble of limbs and assorted torso bits; hardly appetising. The kitchen sink was stacked with skull caps and liquefying brain matter. There were no vittles to fill my growling belly. I did find tea, which I enhanced with the phials and vials of tonics I carry constantly. I resumed my rifling revived and twitchy.

I received no gentlemanly warning before I was hurled across the drawing room to demolish a bookcase and vase with the force of my en-lobment. With a grin I drew my twin gutting blades from their ingenious homes in my sleeves. Across the room, hunched in a mockery of manhood was a fabulous fellow, who whilst largely comprising a grisly mass of ill-stitched meat owned a gleaming skull and glass piston limbs which belied his organic naissance. The thing’s arms pumped hard, winding strength for further blows. I pressed my advantage, pirouetting through the air in a whirlwind of flashing blades, gashing the concertinaed bellows in his shoulders and hip. I landed some feet away, leisurely tooting on my medicine which I retained in my toothy embrace.

The automaton cocked its clockwork head as I lectured it on the proper treatment of guests. But at length I concluded that it was either dumb or damaged, for it offered neither retort nor explanation for its behaviour. A tedious affair. I sipped my tea and regarded it over my crossed knees. The house was clearly abandoned and this tin headed ogre left as a guard dog. I took up a screwdriver and playfully tinkered at the robot’s skull. The convulsive twitching gave it the semblance of pain but it wasn’t until I’d triggered a speaker function that I was prepared to regard it useful. At first I could scarcely tease it through jabbing and soft words to sing me a nursery rhyme. In time though he mastered Baa Baa Black Sheep and we moved on to Daisy. The metallic gnarl of his voice grated against my delicate aesthetics but I persevered.

By the third day he could declaim Shakespeare; I cast him in the role of Juliet. I hauled him upstairs and balanced him across the banister while I beseeched him from below. My eyes fairly fizzled as I eagerly constructed a rude stage at the foot of the staircase and dragged out the brass orbs to be our footlights. Having need of further players I plundered the cadaver cast-offs in the cupboards, and while brewing yet more tinctured tea, copied the mechanisms that operated my Juliet with the cutlery and sinew I found strewn about the kitchen. Soon I had a fine cast with whom to enact Shakespeare’s tragic romance in full.

Despite the corpsey plenitude there was something missing. My tea-induced frenzy abated, the mists of glory de-clouding my eyes. Before me stood my animated zombie players and Juliet, all powered by the field of concocted fire I’d electrified the stage with. With a flick of my toe act one would commence, lead of course with the fabulous “Two houses” speech of which we’re all so fond. I was about to engage the whole affair when I realised that I could not watch this art alone – I was the director, twas only fitting that I have an audience fit to receive it.

The gloom was seizing me – what use these decrepit actors and my machinations if I’d no audience to gasp and lavish their praise upon me? It was then that the doorbell rang. A quandary dear sirs: when one has supplanted the perhaps proper denizen, how should one answer their bell? It tickled my conscience for all of a moment before flinging the door open, puppeting the corpse of my Benvolio (whose gaping face I fancied likely fit the bill of the bell-owner) through the gap. It seems my attempts at make-up were in vain. Perhaps I’d made him too orange (to compensate for the stage luminance), perhaps it was his skeletal throat or my rude stitching. Perhaps both, for with a gasp and eyeball stretching the poor milk wench fainted away on the step. I cast Benvolio to one side and drew her in, settling her in a chair with bonds and cushion.

 Over the next three days I drank tea, ground my teeth and made adjustments to the animatronic controls of my cadaverous troupe. At regular intervals some other spectator would knock on the door with concern for the last to join my dainty auditoria. And so I achieved three ranks of restless eyewitnesses to my creative opus.

 It was precisely six days since I’d emerged in this creatively fertile time when I ordered the curtains open before my wide-eyed audience. They looked thrilled, and were hungry for theatre, and a meal. The careless former owner had made no allowance for the belly needs of is guests and I’d been able only to nurture their spirits with the backstage excitement of a play in progress. There were a number I had to slap awake lest they miss the third act, but most sat rigidly to attention, the sweat of anticipation dribbling down their faces. I was proud of my puppet players, from little Benvolio to Nursie (whom I’d constructed largely with an armchair), they played their parts while I provided their voices from falsetto to tenor; except for the scenes with my beloved Juliet. The wig I’d pasted onto his shiny pate quite deceived me and I truly believed our love would last forever, despite our families’ rancour.

 Alas, my spectacle was cut short by a hammering at the door. Though we tried to ignore it (my audience gamely blocking it out by the stamp of their feet) it was more than I (or any other artiste) could endure. Deeply affronted I hurled the door wide and bellowed for peace in the faces of the constables crowding the door. They fell back in surprise and I slammed the door once more. Their tiresome noise resumed at once. Is there to be no calm for a theatre director?

 We achieved act four before they pounded the door to pieces. I’d blocked the windows thoroughly to attain the darkness and suspension of disbelief my crowd deserved. Clearly I had no choice but to turn my thespians upon the interlopers. As the animated bodies attacked I realised I should have undertaken one of the histories, perhaps Henry V. “Once more, dear friends,” I cried as the tenuously twined torsos burst upon the bobbies, “unto the breach”. The rabble had no appreciation of the work and had the temerity to adopt expressions of anger, as if their interruption were not the travesty at hand. With a sigh I set the android to ‘kill’ and withdrew my time hamster from his pouch. I tickled him in that special way and he squealed forth the temporal orifice. With luck our next stop would be a more cultural realm.

Alphabetic Dialogues 1 The Aardvark Farm

Just for fun, using the Alphabet Game to play with constrained dialogue. Written in the shower…

‘Aardvarks Peter, aardvarks’
‘But Dad, I want to be a dentist’
‘Can’t abandon the lovely ‘varks’
‘Dad, please listen – dentistry fills my heart’
‘Everyone loves a good aard vark’
‘Father, seriously-‘
‘Giving this aardvark farm to you is all I ever wanted’
‘Hey, that’s not fair’
‘It’s true’
‘Just hold on’
‘…Kept these aardvarks for forty years’
‘Let’s try to keep some perspective’
‘Me and your granddad started this farm together’
‘No you didn’t, you bought it’
‘Oh yes, you know it all, just like a dentist son’
‘Please. What about my brother?’
‘Quincy?’
‘Right, he can look after it’
‘Sold two aardvarks for a pint’
‘That I did not know’
‘Unless you care for them he’ll drink the whole farm away’
‘Very well – I’ll stay alright’
‘Well done son’
‘eXcept I do still want to be a dentist, one day’
‘Zoological dentist…?’

Alphabetic Dialogues 2 Cursing HR

‘That’s inappropriate’
‘Unless you’re going to quote some policy…’
‘Various staff have complained about your behaviour’
‘Well they can fuck right off’
‘eXpletives are high on their list of concerns’
‘You’re clearly taking this personally’
‘Zesty language doesn’t bother me’
‘And yet you’re bringing it up now?’
‘Because of the volume of complaints’
‘Could you clarify the number please’
‘Don’t try to divert it into bean-counting’
‘Every swear word, or every occasion in which there’s been swearing?’
‘Fine, you want numbers? I’ll give you numbers’
‘Great’
‘Helen organised the list by curseword’
‘I cannot wait’
‘Jizz came surprisingly high on the list-‘
‘Kitonaks! We were talking about Star Wars – the fat jizz-wailer in the Cantina is a Kitonak’
‘Lying won’t make this any better for you’
‘My interests in science fiction have always been a target’
‘No, that’s not true’
‘Oh, and I suppose I’m not allowed to call you Number Two either’
‘Personal attacks are strictly forbidden by our HR policy’
‘Quim. Is that in there too?’
‘Right, I’m putting that on the list too’
‘Stick that list up your arse you twatting shit maiden.’

Alphabetic Dialogues 3 Galaxy Team

Galaxy Team villains The Vermouthinator and his crony Gutshank are in pursuit of the hated Galaxy Team…

‘You are an exexcrable wretch Gutshank.’
‘Zymon showed great promise, until we arrived’
‘And so your excuse is what, poor research?’
‘But everything pointed to Galaxy Team being here’
‘Could you just control your whine for one minute’
‘Death to Galaxy Team!’
‘Even your enthusiasm irritates me today’
‘Failing you is the worse than seeing them live’
‘Good. Despite your failings you are my favourite, Gutshank’
‘Happy to serve Lord Egregious Vermouthinator sir’
‘I know’
‘Just wanted to make sure sir’
‘Killing Galaxy Team shall, I suppose, be delayed by at least one day’
”Leven’
‘My god, can you not even speak fully anymore?’
‘No master, I’m sorry – eleven days until we can catch up with Galaxy Team’
‘Of all the cretinous activities: you’ve brought us to this abysmal rock of morons and cost me eleven valuable days?’
‘Perhaps you’d like a martini’
‘Quelling my rage with gin are we Gutshank? I could just expel you into vacuum you odious-‘
‘Ready now Your Eminencial Vermouthinator sir’
‘Slip another olive in. I feel dirtied.’
‘That’s better master, there we go, just sip…’
‘Unless you have any strokes of brilliance you may leave’
‘Very well sir, though I have one thought that might cheer you up’
‘Well, go on then’
‘X-Rays. Blast the Zymonians into glowing skeletons; you always love that.’

Alphabetic Dialogue 4 A Measurely Morning

On the deck of the Good Ship Lollipop, Captain Pigheart and No Hands Mick take some air.

‘Gaargh, tis a morn’ o’ uncanny brightness Mick’
‘Have ye taken ye daily measurin’s yet cap’n?’
‘I’ve me scan o’ the horizon and the pairin’ o’ compasses afore me yet’
‘Just strappin’ on me measuratin mitts’
‘Knit ’em to ye wrists in that clockwards method’
‘Let’s take readin’s!’
‘Mick, I admires ye enthusiasm’
‘Never more enchanted by nature than when takin’ her bearings cap’n’
‘Oh ye are a child o’ science and Madame Mer indeed’
‘Place ye instrument upon the breeze’
‘Quotidian matters such as these keep a man sane at sea’
‘Right you are sir, now shalls we extend together our vanes?’
‘Slight tilt to ye weather-cock I’d not noted previously there Mick’
‘Tis a sensitive matter’
‘Unusually sensitive judgin’ from the rise in its bulb’
‘Verily, for ye salty breeze does pluck at me arrow’
‘Whence comes that wind?’
‘X – tis from the region in which we’ve buried our trove’
‘Ye speakin’s’re true, I’ll note it so’
‘Zephr’s be most welcome, see how they do titillate our barometric globes’
‘Aye’
‘Beasts on ye horizon sir!’
‘Come Mick, let us stow our tools and make ready with cannon’
‘Delicate now, for our tackle’s delicate’
‘Eschew ye care for the sake of our lives’
‘Fear not cap’n, on closer peeking tis but a rock’

Alphabetic Dialogue 5 Garden Centre

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‘Hoe!’
‘I beg your pardon’
‘Just saving what I see’
‘Kiss my arse’
‘Look who’s all touchy’
‘My arse, your face’
‘Nice.’
‘Oh grow up’
‘Perhaps we should start again’
‘Quickly before I stab you with something’
‘Raking it all over again am I?’
‘Sometimes I really dislike you’
‘Touche’
‘Unless you’re going to buy something, can we just go please’
‘Vases, great big stone garden vases’
‘Why…?’
‘eXpecting something more masculine?’
‘You can buy whatever you want’
‘Zebras! Huge plastic zebras’
‘And if you get one you’ll never get back in the house’
‘But it would great in the front garden’
‘Cock’
‘Don’t start that again – it’s retail time’
‘Everyone thinks you’re a dick’
‘Fork you’
‘Going now… Bye’

Alphabetic Dialogues 6 The Other Half is Silence

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Captain Ignatius Pigheart and the crew of the Grim Bastard are departing from the charming Isle of Letch. It falls to Mute Charlie, one of the cabin lads to do the ropey honours.

‘Avast there lad, cast off and we’ll be on our way’

‘Bring ’em up swift lest we’re hauled backwise into ye port’

‘Charlie, I’ve no grasp of what ye’re seekin’ to convey’

‘Demonstrate ye meanin’ through a finer mime’

‘(Ever seen such gestures before Mick? Never mind)’

‘For the love of the sea-‘

‘Grand, aye, tis righter for the rope’s in ye hand…’

‘Have ye no sense?’

‘I would have ye untie the rope from about yeself Charlie’

‘Just- what have ye done?’

‘Knots lad, get ye midget digits into ’em’

‘Learning o’ the the sailorly crafts’ll be firmly impressed on ye in a moment’

‘My god, ye’ll be hanged if ye takes another tug’

‘Now see what ye’ve done’

‘Orphanin’ ye were never me intent, and indeed I’m awash with regret for it now’

‘Perhaps if ye could loosen ye right hand first…?’

‘Quell ye fears lad, I’ve some confidence in ye to avoid death’

‘Right, well done.’

‘So, havin’ en-looped yerself half to a mean fate through ill-mime perhaps we’ll try a fresh angle’

‘Tis a charcoal stick and canvas’

‘Unless ye fancy swimmin’ ye’ll place ’em in ye feckless fists’

‘Very good, now scrawl’

‘Write! At least ye name – in lettering large enough for me old eye’

‘X?’

‘Ye have no letters do ye boy?’

‘Zwounds! I’ll be-letter ye yet.’

Captain Pigheart’s Birthday Party Adventure

Ahoy folkses of the sea. Tis me birthday and for fun, and a mate, I’ve recorded me Birthday Party Adventure for ye pleasure via the medium o’ YeTube. It features party games, disappointing gifts and a beast. Feel free t’enjoy, or if ye prefer here’s the written version: Captain Pigheart’s Birthday Party.

 

The Life Punchinator ~ Galaxy Team

The trees were burning. The flames leaped from one tree to the next, rushing up the avenue like autumn followed by winter. The dead blackened trunks crumbled to ash and were blasted into the air. The wave of incineration struck the window, glaring into an eerie whiteness punctuated by muffled thumps as the pane absorbed the shock. Gradually the smoke and dust cleared. Through the scratched glass the world was barren and shrouded in red. In the distance the fire-front could be seen reaching the horizon.

“Excellent,” declared the titanic black chair as it swivelled round, “three minutes and eleven seconds to utter destruction”. Tremulous Gutshank peered up at his master perching on the black seat, “yes sir, that’s one hundred and thirty-three seconds faster than the last world”. His master’s face was only just visible within the mass of fur surrounding him in his command chair. Gutshank checked the time nervously. “Yes, my doom has been imposed upon this world and its pitiful squealing populace. No more shall their artistic abominations infest the aesthetic sensibilities of the universe.” Gutshank fiddled with his watch while his master continued to ramble. “Doom from above, doom from below, doom from behind their homes where their children played in the green sand ground down over aeons by the relentless tides of their now dry and dusty seas.” Gutshank coughed politely.

“And their insipid stain is now wiped from the galaxy’s diverse blouse of existence- Gutshank, do not interrupt me as I wax lyrical upon the fate of my enemies”. His High Lord Ethereality of Maximum Terror, Vermouthinator looked down from his high seat of destruction at the quaking serf below. “Fetch me a martini, upon this instant, lest I cast you into the vacuity without,” he commanded, the sweep of his arm taking in the wasteland outside. “But sir, it’s been two and a half minutes since you changed the terms of existence on this planet – they’ll be here soon” Gutshank persisted. “Gin, vermouth, an olive.. a glass. Immediately!” Vermouthinator’s voice reached its quavery peak as he shrieked “a chilled glass – chilled! Not cold.”

As the weevilly Gutshank scurried from the room his Maximum Lordship sighed, and with a vast furry fist depressed the button which spiralled his chair back down to the floor. The view outside was still magnificent, an aura of death hung over the plain outside. The Life-Punchinator was almost ready for its ultimate purpose, to destroy Galaxy Team and whatever worthless planet they occupied at the time. Gutshank was right: they would soon be here to interfere with his progress, despite their own science provenance. It seemed unlikely that they would be especially concerned about the twittering inhabitants of Gockley IX. It was a small planet with an only recently sentient population of bird-analogues who had barely mastered growing trees in rows and shitting paint onto stone canvasses let alone contribute to the Sentience Shoal.

And yet still Galaxy Team would insist on interfering. Perhaps if Vermouthinator hadn’t pushed their former leader, Alpha Strangemind to the brink of despair (and just over it) they wouldn’t be quite so passionate. It had all been a bit of a game once. Vermouthinator and Gutshank would travel across space conducting experiments and making perfect martinis. Occasionally that required large scale experimentation (like the gassing of the Gimp-Muddlers on Kungly Prime). People didn’t always die (although everyone on Kungly Prime did).

It was after the Olive Debacle that things turned nasty. It was a simple scheme – turn the Mediterranean into a giant martini. That part had gone well. But when Vermouthinator and Gutshank had entered the secondary phase of morphing the great cities of Europe into olives, Strangemind and his Galaxy Team had come flying at them, severing the crucial streams of laser juice as they pumped the cities full of oliveness. Things had rather escalated after that: Belgium was left a smoking crater; the Beastlie Boys stole Vermouthinator’s skin; he released a video of Alpha in bed with a hooker named Causal Orgasm (who knew she had super-powers?); Alpha declared a personal war while negotiating a divorce settlement. So war it was.

“We have a reading on the Vortex!” cried Gutshank, artfully skimming the martini tray to his master as he leaped to the Observation Column’s control panel. The Vermouthinator’s seat spiralled high into the dome as Gutshank spun the elevation wheels. He desperately wobbled the glass to keep its precious fluids in a matching counter-spiral lest it be lost. Shaking off the pangs of motion sickness he sipped at the ginny nectar and arched an eyebrow at the growing speck of light arrowing towards the demisphere of glass. “Soon, soon. Come close into my Enpunchinating embrace you fools. Aye Alpha Strangemind, never more shall you and your mutated spawn infringe upon the dominion of all that is due to The Vermouthinator Master Vibrantine and Earl of the Decadent Liquid Realms.” He chuckled into his martini. With the final test complete (and Gockley IX now suitable for dust-farming) he felt confident that he would soon be removing Galaxy Team for good.

The Vortex had grown larger during The Vermouthinator’s unusually brief speech, much larger. Gutshank noticed a small, almost unnoticeable light flashing on the control panel, in an unobtrusive almost apologetic way. Almost like it didn’t want to be noticed, didn’t want to get poor Tremulous in trouble, get him flayed or inserted into another body. Maybe Gutshank should follow suit. He carefully stuck a post-it note over the light. “All controls re-routed to your command chair my Ascended Lord of the High Thought and Action, you have complete control sire.” Looking up through the crystal dome overhead Gutshank could see the distinctive eagle-mounting-a-lion shape of the Vortex closing in. It cruised over the billowing dust clouds and through the black rain, finally rearing up and presenting its fearsomely armed underside to the quailing Gutshank and the now maniacally giggling Vermouthinator.

Vermouthinator activated the communicator and bellowed into it, “Goodbye Strangemind, you shall plague me no more!” The Vortex’s weapons swivelled towards the villain’s base and Alpha Strangemind’s familiar teacherly tones echoed through the base, “Damn you Verminator. Another planet crushed beneath your spiteful boots. In a million years those birds might have been ready to share their music with the rest of the Shoal, but now they never will.”

“Indeed, and had they not insisted on waking me early in the day with their incessant wittering they could still have done,” replied Vermouthinator, “but like you they just couldn’t resist interfering with me – and now you shall share their downfall.” With the air of a fur-clad conductor he jabbed one long finger down onto the firing button on his armrest, “prepare to be enPunchinated!” The vast machine in their hideout vibrated and hummed, lights rippling up the inside of the dome in waves. Huge doors opened underneath the dome and extended equally enormous articulated arms ending in massive grasping fists.

There was a painful choking sound and the humming became a throaty growl and the entire dome shuddered. “This is most irregular, if you could just hold on a moment.” Vermouthinator stabbed wildly at the controls, slamming his fists into the buttons. Alpha’s voice came back through the speakers, “Normally I wouldn’t feel any obligation to mention it, but the generators at the rear of your facility appear to be overheating. It looks very much like we won’t be needed here at all.” The two arms began waving about, punching drunkenly at the rain.

“No, wait. I’m certain we’ll be able to destroy you momentarily.” Vermouthinator clenched his fingers tightly and screamed, “Gutshank, what the hell is going on down there?”

“I’m terribly sorry Master, but all my controls are slaved to yours -oh, what’s this? There’s a little light here which is flashing – just under the fist-power drive – is that a problem?” Tremulous nervously enquired. The martini glass bounced off his head and shattered on the floor.

The Vortex rotated in the sky outside and retreated to a good viewing distance while Vermouthinator screamed in frustration and hit the descend button on his chair. As the spinning throne tossed Vermouthinator onto the floor the machines pumped and ground their way to a roaring climax of tearing metal and throbbing energy. The red light had been joined by a mosaic of its fellows casting a red strobe over the villain who kicked Tremulous Gutshank all the way to the emergency exit (helpfully denoted by a flashing green light above the door). The safety doors gave way to the Wyrmwood, Vermouthinator’s ship.

The Life-Punchinator’s began randomly punching energy fists into the air and ground around the base, smashing the dome and its foundations. The pugilistic battery grew faster until the Life-Punchinator finished itself with a powerful one-two to the planet’s mantle and detonated in a white-hot cone of energy. The Wyrmwood was flicked into space by the force of the blast, which obscured it from the Vortex’s sensors. Gutshank struggled to regain control of the ejected ship as it veered dangerously close to one of Gockley IX’s moons. Not an easy task when being beaten about the head by your enraged and bitterly disappointed master. Gradually the Vermouthinator’s rage subsided into sulking and he sank deep into his furry robes until he could bring himself to speak without cursing. “Gutshank, tell me you at least had the common decency to salvage the cocktail trolley”.

An Update from Beyond the Ends of The Earth

Ahoy mateys, tis as always a sublime wonderment to me that I’ve any mateys remaining, given the horrible atrocities which beset us on our adventures. Well done to ye for surviving so far. It’s been some while since I put me face near yours and leered suggestively; since that occasion it’s been made clear that I ought to do so from a distance. And so this update, to fill ye in on the wonders, aye the things I’ve seen (if only in ye tedious two dimensions).

New stories! Aye, new tales from meself and also me compatriots in the babbling arts:

First off, me Stowaway Adventure – a short tale about why ye should rarely accept hitchhikers aboard. Naturally it does not end well.

It’s entirely likely to have escaped ye notice (though I flatter meself that it has not), but ye captain’s been diversifyin’ his literative prattlin’.

Franklyn de Gashe, the roguish time travelling serial killer returns with a tale of Shakespearean re-enactment, albeit with cyborg zombies and quite a lot of drugs in The Theatrical Entertainment. I do hope you enjoy it, I found it enormously fun to write. It’s only his third full length story. There are more stories lined up for him, so if you do like the rather nastier dark-hunoured stuff please keep an eye out.

Much of my time has been taken up pondering the potential joys and excitement of dysfunctional and weird superheroes in Galaxy Team – an umbrella I guess for the adventures of Alpha Strangemind and his mutant kin against the enemies and beasts out there. So far we have only two to relate to you: The Beastlie Brothers and The Life Punchinator. However, there’s an obscene amount of backstory to be revealed and some of that should be out shortly. I’m having fun with them.

Other than that, Alex Trepan‘s kind of on the backburner due to serious problems between my brain and the concept of plot but I’m pleased with the first two bits.

Something that’s been amusing me far more in between ‘proper’ writing are the Alphabetic Dialogues. I’m terrible at dialogue and so write almost exclusively in first person – this is my exercise in fixing it. The Alphabet Game is an improv theatre sport framework which seemed ideal for getting some dialogue practice in. They’re short and possibly funny. Many of the characters from other stories will appear in them. (I scribbled about the game here on the MissImp blog where I also write oddments about improv comedy.)

Finally there’s poetry – it’s not a natural form for me but I have found the 140 character restriction of Twitter, plus getting angry at work to be very stimulating. I’ll publish collected lumps of Twitpoems on here occasionally, but they’ll all be in the @shankanalia Twitter stream too along with some bitter anger – follow away!

Now – would anyone like a badge? A badge with the Captain on? A badge that looks like this… Really? Cool! Share my stories with your friends or something nice like that and I’ll send you one in the post. Remember to tell me where you live though.

Oh – not finally! There’s also improv comedy which is all about stories of course, but occasionally I get a chance to do a solo story which I adore (the opportunity, not necessarily the story). There’s some other fun ones around but either I can’t find them or they ain’t up on YouTube yet – if you enjoy them I’ll post them regular-like.

Alphabetic Dialogues 7 The Bucket

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Alpha Strangemind and The Krayfish find themselves in a stand-off. (The Krayfish is a hive entity who exists mainly in a bucket. Of crayfish. Well, he/it is the crayfish – put enough of them together and they get smart.)

‘Come any closer and I’ll nip off your pointies’
‘Don’t threaten me you scabby prawn’
‘Eventually you will grow weak and I shall destroy you and your freakish children, Strangemind’
‘Fresh fishmeat for the table. That’s all you are Krayfish’
‘Gashing you open is only the start of my plans for you’
‘Ha! As soon as you lay your slimy shell fists on me I’ll be as chitinous as you’
‘I’ve far larger crayfish to call upon who will hammer out your weak meat’
‘Just try me, prawn’
‘Keep up the taunts Strangeskin. I’d step off that puddle of fish vomit if I looked like you’
‘Let’s get down to it. You, me and a Swiss Army knife’
‘Move one inch closer and I’ll swarm!’
‘No Krayfish, you see I’ve brought Mu-Tant Ra-Koon with me, and he’s quite capable of kicking your bucket’
‘On my word I never had planned to harm you, ah ha, haha…’
‘Perhaps you forget your place Krayfish’
‘Quell my fears old frind, stand down your fur-boy’
‘Relieving myself of the advantage? I think not’
‘Supposing I were to supply you with certain nuggets of information that might tease your interest?’
‘That could well be another matter’
‘Underwater there have been murmurs of Dementia…’
‘Volupine Dementia? That vicious witch’
‘Well, that sounds like a yes’
‘eXplain to me your sources and we may grant you some leeway’
‘You’ll need to do more than that. I know when and where she’ll be’
‘Zealous bitch. Done’
‘And my product will be unharmed’
‘Brain Jam – you call that a product?’
‘Can’t complain about a profit Strangemind.’