"Hooky" and The Ape God

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"Hooky" and The Ape-God

"Hooky" Simpson sat on the veranda and studied the Times. He started to contemplate the oddity that any Englishman never truly believed something had happened until he had seen it in the Times, even if Fleet Street was four thousand miles further away from the incident than the Englishman in question, when he was distracted by the cricket report. As Sir Archiebald MacQuirter approached, Hooky thrust the paper in his general direction.
"Have you seen Archie? 4 for 32! Got those damn Ausies on the run now I tell you."
"Yes. That did brighten up breakfast. However, I am not here to discuss that. Rather, I have some news about your German friends."
"What, Von Richtoffer hasn't shown up has he?"
"No, thank the Lord. However, we believe we may have found his initial base of operations. One of our chaps in Batavia has noticed some irregularities in cargo manifests into Borneo, which we think may be worth a look."
"Borneo, eh? Certainly explains why we saw nothing in Samoa. So, what is the plan?"
"Well HMG was hoping you might take a little jaunt down there, see what the blighters are up to. The Navy is shipping something out from Singapore, which they promise you will like. There is a steamer this evening, if you are up for it?"
"Well, I doubt I will ever get the knack of this surf riding lark, so why not. I will go and pack" Simpson jumped up, looked mildly confused at the newspaper in his hand, pushed it, somewhat abruptly, into the arms of the Governor of The Sandwich Islands, and strode in through the veranda doors.

Captain "Hooky" Simpson, Agent to the Queen, had barely stepped off of the steamer in Kuching when his arm was jostled.
"Excuse me, sir, are you Captain Simpson, sir?"
"Hooky" turned and looked hard at the man who had accosted him. He was approximately five foot eight inches tall, had the build of an ill stork, and was clothed in what can best be described as something a conscientious seaman would use to swab the deck. "If I am, who would you be?"
"Er, Seaman Dibble sir. The Captain sent me to get you. The train's all set up at the back of town sir."
"Train? What are you drivelling on about you strange little man?"
"Er, well, er, best if you comes and sees sir." Dibble began to bob up and down in what would only count as an obsequious bow to a blind man.
"Oh, very well, lead on."
It was probably the squalor of the port of Kuching that helped create the sense of surprise. Simpson had just come to the conclusion that a "Train" in these parts probably consisted of an ox pulling a cart along bamboo tracks when he rounded the last of the buildings and saw what HMG had supplied him with. "By Jove" quoth the Agent of the Queen.
Before him, in a clearing, stood a traction engine, of the sort commonly seen at county fayres. This had main wheels with a diameter of ten feet, putting the top of the cabin some twelve feet in the air. Attached to the back was a tender of similar proportions, followed by three carriages. The first looked to be a third class carriage from the outside, the second a baggage car and the third a rather pleasant saloon car, with a Maxim Gun attached to the rail of the observation platform at the back. As Simpson admired this pinnacle of British engineering skill a rotund man approached him, wiping his sweaty brow with a handkerchief.
"You'll be Simpson then?" he said, extending his hand to be shaken. There was a moments embarrassment, while he removed the handkerchief from sight, and then the hand was re-proffered.
"And you are sir?" said Simpson, shaking his hand with slight distaste.
"Oh, I'm Grub, Captain of this 'ere train. Sorry I ain't wearing me uniform, but I've been seeing to the boiler housing."
"Well she is a lovely looking machine sir. I must congratulate you on her."
"Aye well, I would have liked to have checked her out a bit more before we got here, but you never have any time where those damned Hun are concerned. Any roads, Dibble here 'll show you to yer cabin."
"Splendid. Lead on then."
Dibble gestured vaguely in the direction of the rear carriage and shuffled in that direction. The seaman and the Agent entered the carriage at the rear, "Hooky" admiring the well maintained Maxim as they entered. The first room they entered was a saloon, with a number of comfortable looking chairs, a card table and a reasonably well stocked bar. Through this was a small connecting corridor with Simpson's room first, and Grub's second. Beyond that was the connecting door to the second carriage, which, Dibble explained, contained the supply store, and a small galley. The front coach was for the men.
"Hooky" thanked the seaman, deciding that he would have forty winks while waiting for his luggage to arrive from the docks.

Two hours later the two Captains were sat round a small picnic table set up just in front of the engine. Simpson was resplendent in a white linen suit, while Grub still had a hint of boiler oil about him, although he had made an effort, donning his somewhat crumpled dress jacket and peaked cap. They were finishing off a plate of fish paste sandwiches, while perusing a map of Borneo, which was busy round the edges, but somewhat sparse towards the centre.
"So", said Simpson, gesturing at a blank bit of the map, "HMG believes our Germanic foe are to be found somewhere in here do they? How long do you believe it will take for us to reach there?"
"Well, provided there ain't no major rivers or such like, I reckons about a week full blast before we has to get a bit circumspect. Of course, no-one has gone more than two days up country before, and the natives do 'ave some funny stories."
"Oh, such as?"
"Well, there's giant monkey men they say."
"Poppycock, I would expect. So, when do you wish to set off?"
"I was thinking first thing tomorrow. Fancy a game of Cribbage?"

The Land Train set off promptly at nine o'clock the next morning. It puffed it's way into the jungle, devouring logs from it's tender and leaving behind a trail of destruction usually reserved for stampeding elephants. Captain Grub sat up front, with an able seaman to keep the logs flowing. Meanwhile, Seaman Dibble and a second, slightly less scruffy, sailor manned the Maxim gun, in a less than enthusiastic and observant manner, one sat on top of the middle car, officially to keep a watch, the cook lounged in the galley and Captain Simpson perused a copy of the Times he had managed to rustle up in Kuching. By one of those strange twists of fate, it was the immediate next edition from the one he had been reading in Honalulu ("Damned Australians, never know when to give up!") and had a very interesting article on the California situation and a new blend of Tea just arrived in London.
The train trundled through the jungle for two days, with little incident. The only thing of note was when Cpt. Grub switched on the Patented Brush Clearer and Traction Engine Refuelling Device, two large circular saws that extended from the front of the engine and removed any dense brush, tree, startled tiger, that was in the way, collecting the more sizeable logs and depositing them in the tender. However, this calm destruction of the jungle came to a halt late on the second day when the train burst into a clearing. This was no ordinary clearing, being, as it was, thirty feet wide and apparently endless. The train lurched to a halt, the last few bits of twig flying off of the end of the Patented Brush Clearer. Grub sent his stoker down into the clearing.
"It's a road sir!"
"A road!"
"Yeh, sir, it's paved with big stones sir, under this grass sir."
By this point "Hooky" Simpson had donned his Panama and come out for a look; "Let me have a look. Hmm, by Jove, the fella's right. Well, this could be a stroke of luck."
"How's that then?" shouted Grub, leaning out of the side of the engine.
"Well, this only diverts slightly from our route. I'm sure we could use this to make up some time."
"Aye, possibly, tell ye what, lets stop 'ere for the night, and I'll take some bearings. Looks like it goes up quite high further on, not sure if'n we wants to do that. 'Ere, Pugh, gets yerself up 'ere and drive 'er out there. I'm going back for me gubbins."

Once again, the two Captains were sitting at the picnic table.
"Well, if me numbers are right," said Grub waving at the map, now with extra hand drawn information, we wants to go up this road about two days, before peeling off round the side of that hill it goes up. Course, it might not be so easy to get round it at that height. We'll just have to wait and see."
"Hmm, yes, but we might also get a good vantage point up there, which in this damnable jungle can only help. Cooky, some more of these fine biscuits if you have them please."

Thus, the Land Train trundled its way up the Road of the Ancients, as "Hooky" had insisted it was marked on the map, occasionally making small forays into the jungle with the Refuelling Device. The two days were almost up and the captains were still "discussing" whither to follow the road to the top, or turn off when the train was attacked. The first sign of anything untoward was a sudden shout as the sailor sat atop the train left his position, a spear thudding into his shoulder and sending him toppling off of the roof. The two men on the Maxim gun were forced to keep their heads down, as four more spears were hurled in their direction. "Hooky" Simpson barely had time to sit his hat at a rakish angle and grab his gun before they charged out of the brush. They were three hairy giants, seven feet tall if they were an inch and a pack of much smaller, loin cloth wearing, spear carrying natives. They came tearing out of the bush, howling and screaming. Simpson managed to get off a shot, downing a loin-cloth wearer before they reached the train. A giant ape leaped at the window out of which he was leaning. It took his first shot in the arm with barely a flicker, grabbing hold of the edge of the window and propelling itself into the carriage, scattering a card house as it did.
"I spent all day on that!" said Simpson, a note of petulance creeping into his voice. He had very little time to mourn the loss of his artistic creation before the ape knocked his gun from his hand and grabbed Simpsons arm. Simpson was just beginning to wonder where was the best place to plant his free fist on the beast when he heard two very pleasant noises. One was the sound of the Maxim Gun, rattling to life, and the other went something like this.
"Get your hands off him, you dirty ape!" The cook aimed carefully and shot the ape through the head. It staggered a little, looked stunned, and then turned on the cook, dropping Simpson to the floor. The cook fired. And again, and once more. It began to sway, as if in a strong wind. "If I were you sir, I'd get out of the way, it's about to drop."
"A very wise suggestion Cooky." said "Hooky" clambering to his feet. He shuffled over to the cook. "May I?" he said.
"Be my guest sir" the cook said, handing over his rifle.
"Thankyou" Taking the rifle Captain Simpson aimed carefully and pulled the trigger. The ape, finally catching up on recent events, keeled over backwards, making a terrible mess of an easy chair in the process. "I do believe the Maxim has stopped, best see what is going on outside I think. Much obliged to you Cooky." Saying this, Simpson hurried to the end of the carriage and dismounted. He nodded with grim satisfaction at the effects of the Maxim gun outside before turning to look to the front of the train. There he saw one ape, with it's back to him, swinging wildly at something. Also, Dibble, and his Maxim buddy, were cautiously approaching the ape, rifles at the ready. Simpson hurried forward. He looked at the two sailors.
"On three, ready?" he whispered. The two men nodded. "One, two, three" All three rifles barked in time. The ape roared once, and then toppled forward, accompanied by a strange "Eek, oof" noise as it landed.
"Quick, you've dropped it on poor Pugh." shouted Grub's voice from the engine. The three men rushed forwards, and quickly rolled the dead ape over. And indeed, underneath there lay a somewhat crushed, but still alive Pugh, still holding tightly to the stoker's shovel he had been using to defend himself from the simian. His two shipmates hauled him up and dusted him down while Simpson surveyed the damage. It was then he noticed Captain Grub. He was propped upright by the door of the engine, with a spear jutting out of his leg. The agent clambered up the side of the engine.
"How do Simpson." said Captain Grub weakly.
"You just hold on there, I'll have that out in a jiffy." He turned to look out of the engine door. "You, Dibble, bring me some bandages and iodine quickly." Dibble, rushed off, and came trotting back with a large Gladstone bag.
"Here you go sir" Dibble threw the bag up for Simpson. Simpson quickly removed the spear and bandaged the Captain's leg.
"There good as new. Now to get you down."

The crew of the train spent the rest of the day on that spot. First they buried Able Seaman Hugh under a large pile of stones that they had pulled from the road. He had died, not from the spear that knocked him from the roof, but rather from the broken neck he acquired on landing. Captain Simpson gave a stirring speech about dying for Queen and Country while Captain Grub, hobbling around on a branch as a makeshift crutch, made various gruff comments of a more personal nature. Then they went on to build a huge pyre, on which they burnt the apes, and the tribesmen, a large amount of the kindling coming from the wreck of the saloon car. There then followed some general tidying up, checking how much ammunition had been used etc. before dusk came down. At this point Grub ordered the rum to be broken open and a small wake ensued. The following morning the train moved on, under a glowering black sky, leaving behind a large pile of ash and a forlorn pile of stones.

Mid-afternoon, and Grub was taking bearings as he believed that it would soon be time to turn off of this road. "What the? Where's me field glasses?" Guddling around in the engine cabin he produced a set of glasses and put them to his face. "Hmm, well I never. Simpson! Simpson!"
"Hooky" looked up from his current attempt at a card house, "Yes Grub?"
"I think you might want to see this"
Simpson clambered up into the cab and took a look through the glasses, "Damn, they were further north than we thought."
"Oh no, I think they have just flown up there. That airship is not bobbing about as if it is moored."
"Ah yes, I see. I would wager they have seen us now too. I wonder what could be at the end of this road that they are interested in. I think we should pay them a visit."
"Right you are. Can you get the men prepared, and I'll get us underway?"
"Certainly old chap."

The Land Train steamed it's way up the side of the ridge for the rest of the afternoon. Occasionally one of the captains would take a peek at the airship, which appeared to moor itself just over the ridge and, as dusk fell, a number of lights were seen to come on.
"We should be on top of that ridge just after dawn I reckons." said Grub. And indeed it was so. The train crawled to the top just after six in the morning, while the mist was still clinging to the trees. There had still been no let up in the black, stormy clouds that crowded the sky but there was sufficient light to see the bloated shape of the German dirigible hanging in the sky, and the small reception committee that awaited them. Grub brought the train to a halt mere yards from them and the two sides studied each other. The German group was made up of three men, all resplendent in military uniform. There was a haughty, Prussian looking gent, with a fine moustache, a sickly young chap who looked ready to faint from the heat and a barrel of a man with an ill fitting hat.
"Hooky" Simpson got down from the cab and approached this little group. He held out his hand, "Captain Simpson of Her Majesties Navy"
The Prussian looking chap accepted his hand, "Count Schwartzkopf, Luftwaffe. I must say, Herr Capitan, it is a surprise to find representatives of Britain here in Borneo. I was not aware that your illustrious government had claimed this part of the world."
"As you so correctly point out, this is not British territory. I believe it is Dutch in actual fact which, I believe, puts us on even terms. Do you agree?"
"But of course. May I enquire as to your interest in the City of Laganoh?"
"Laganoh?", asked Simpson, somewhat at a loss for words.
"Yes, Herr Capitan," said the Count, gesturing over the ridge, "Laganoh"
Simpson walked around some small bushes and to the lip of the ridge. The road continued on down the other side of the ridge and, after about two miles it reached a wall, which encompassed a city. It was hard to tell at this range, but it looked to be ruined in several parts. However, dominating the bowl in which the city sat was the pyramid at it's centre, which looked anything but ruined. Simpson turned back to the German, who was looking very pleased with himself.
"Er, no, not for the city. We are, em, here for, em, the apes. Yes we are here to investigate the tales of giant apes. So, would you care for a drink and you can tell me all about this city of yours?"
"A lovely offer, but we have some important business to attend to. Why don't you come down to our camp for lunch. We are having Roast Pork."
"I think I just might. I will also bring along the Captain of the train, if you don't mind."
"Not at all, we shall see you later." The Count bowed, and clicked, and then set off down the slope, with his two attendants.
"Grub! I think we want to be setting up camp here. And then breakfast, I am ravenous."

Simpson and Grub, with his branch now whittled down to something more manageable, made their way into the German camp that lunchtime. They were made very welcome, the pork was excellent, and much small talk was exchanged. The Germans talked of the difficulty of flying so far inland, while Grub had to recount how he had been injured. The Germans said that they had seen no apes but had heard some strange howls at night. All this friendly chatter and evading of each others probes was brought to a halt as a robe approached the centre of camp. There was presumably a human being inside but it was impossible to tell what sort under all the folds of cloth. A buzzing began to fill the ears of all those in the vicinity. Folds of the robe that presumably contained an arm pointed in the general direction of the table.
"You must leave now." intoned a deep voice, with an educated accent, perhaps a hint of Portsmouth in it.
"Gutt Gott, Deutsch!" whispered Count Schwarzkopf.
The robe continued, "The Gods are angry." It pointed to the dark brooding clouds in the sky. "If you enter Laganoh the Gods shall reek terrible judgement upon ye. Go now." And with that the robe turned around and walked back the way he had come.
"Well I never! The impertinence. The Gods are angry indeed." Simpson looked at his lunch companions.
The Count looked back at him in a surprised manner. "It is not that, why would a native in the middle of Borneo speak German?"
"German?" Simpson chuckled, "My dear Count, you have obviously been enjoying this fine wine a little too much. He spoke in English."
"I assure you, I heard German. I believe it was a Berlin accent."
"Did you now? How strange. I wonder what sort of conjuring trick that required. Anyway, it is obvious poppycock. I always said the Dutch couldn't run a decent colony and this just goes to prove it."
The Count looked at "Hooky" in a thoughtful manner. "So, would you care to accompany us tomorrow, to prove that it is only, as you say, poppycock?"
"Oh, in to the city?"
"Yes, that is, after all, why we are here."
"I would be delighted."

{Part two continues at http://www.h2g2.com/A378786 Sheesh, too much for one entry, where will it end!!}

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