"ONCE UPON A TIME...
Bob dutifully stepped forward and prodded the policeman with his walking stick.
The policeman wiggled, but stayed asleep, and continued snoring away loudly.
Bob was disturbed that he could not wake a policeman with a walking stick, so tried again, extremely hard this time. Now the massive copper woke up quickly.He grunted loudly and stared at Bob and Jill.
The policeman's voice echoed all around.
"I'm going to get you".At this, Bob and Jill could see the anger brewing in his eyes and ran as fast as they possibly. The policeman ran after the couple, and they hid behind a large dustbin in a nearby alley.
The policeman huffed and puffed his way past the entry to the alley and didn't even look down it. Bob and Jill waited for a while and then came out from behind the bins.It was then that Jill spotted something sticking out from under a stack of black plastic bags. She bent down and pulled it out.Suddenly she screamed! Bob turned and saw her holdingA half-used bottle of peroxide!Jill quickly did her roots and then Bob and Jill both decided to explore the alley some more. At the far end, secluded around a corner, was a door. Jill tried the handle and found to her shock that it was open. Together, they both peered into the gloom.Inside was a small blue fish"My god" screamed Jill, "who could do such a thing?"She picked up the creature and checked for a pulse.
"It's dead." Bob walked over and put his arm around Jill in a strictly comforting and non-sexual way."Come on lets get out of here." He said.
Jill looked up."We have to find the people who did this, they can't get away with it!" She said.""Maybe there are some clues here or something?" Suggested Bob.
Cautiously, they began to look around...And standing behind them in the doorway was a young man in the familiar brown uniform of a UPS deliveryman. He was holding a package about the size of a shoebox.
Though the UPS man did not look particularly threatening, Bob and Jill clung to each other in terror and still in a fairly in a fairly non-sexual way - but you never know where these things could lead, right - heat of the moment and all that."I've got a parcel, -for a small blue fish called Beatrice." Said the UPS man."That must be her", said Jill, "Poor Beatrice."The UPS man offered up a clipboard.
"Look, I'm going to need someone to sign for this." He said.Bob stepped forward gingerly, signed and took the parcel.
As the UPS man made his way back along the alley to his van, Bob tore the tape from the box and opened it.
Inside, he found an audiocassette packed in polystyrene. There was nothing else in the box, no note, just the tape.Curiosity quelled any fears and they decided to listen to the tape in Jill's Personal Stereo. A strangely familiar voice began to crackle through the headphones Jill couldn't quite put her finger on who it was. She gave the headphones to Bob and asked him if he recognised it."Of course", said Bob, "I know that voice, it's Boutros Boutros-Ghali" He exclaimedJill gasped. "Not Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali: the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations between the 1 January 1992, and 1st January 1997? ""The very same" replied Bob grimly "At the time of his appointment by the General Assembly on 3 December 1991, Mr. Boutros-Ghali had been Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt since May of that year and had served as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs from October 1977 until 1991 as well" Jill stood in silence for a few moments, stunned by all this strangely spurious, incidental detail.
"But why would an ex Secretary-General of the United Nations be sending a message to a dead fish?"As Bob opened his mouth to speak however 12 Nazi stormtroopers burst into the room brandishing large automatic weapons (in a menacing but equally non-sexual way) Jill dropped the fish in shock. The storm troopers parted slightly and a small, weasel-like man with glasses and a black raincoat - their officer presumably, thought Jill - strode forward."Herr Bob, ve ayv been ekspekteeng yoo."Jill couldn't quite grasp all of this and so feigned a quick cough as a displacement activity while she quickly tried to remember some German. She was determined either to impress this guy or seduce him but either way she wasn't going to let him get his hands on the tape.
"Es ist verboten...?" "De mutter beritet das mikatesen in der kuker!" She stammered but it was no good.
He was staring back at her blankly. Then it dawned on her, the reason he did not understanding her was that he couldn't speak German either and had only been impersonating a German Gestapo Officer. This guy was just an actor!She stared back and then in one deftly fast movement lunged at the short man, knocking him to the floor. She grabbed his pistol and aimed at the henchmen.Just then all of the other stormtroopers pulled out their automatic weapons.Jill froze rigid. The fake Gestapo officer picked himself off the floor and began dusting his coat theatrically."Therr really is no point rezisting, Mz Jill."One of the guards took away Jill's gun."You fel rrright into our trap." laughed the mock Gestapo officer."You mean the..." said Bob"Indeed." said Gestapo Man,"Zee iclke blue fisch waz juzt a rrred Herrrring.""And the UPS Guy?" stammered Bob."Vot UPS Gi?" screamed the Gestapo man, looking distinctly worried.
"Qvickly! FIND HIM!"
The guards all went outside.He turned back to face Jill and Bob."You vill tel me eferytingt Uno." he said with low menace.Jill, who had used this time to gather her thoughts, grabbed the bottle of peroxide she'd carried in with her from outside. And threw it at the Gestapo man, who caught it. But then slipped on the dead fish and brained himself on the brass door handle."Quick, now we can escape." said Bob.
He took Jill by the arm and the pair fled along the alleyway leaving the Gestapo man supine on the floor.Back out on the street Jill turned to Bob and said
"What can we do now, where shall we go Bob?" she asked desperately."Pssst!" said a shadowy figure behind them.As one, they both turned around."My God!" said Bob "It's you"...For indeed it was Hugh Grant. (The floppy-haired star of films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill.) But he was obviously in no mood to be self-indulgent...
"Grab them lads!!" He cried pointing to the pseudo-nazis milling about on the roadside. "No-one gets away with impersonating a German officer without an equity card in my parish!"Without any warning the assembled stars of British Stage and scene descended on the bemused Germans.
Bob who was a black belt in origami quickly joined in the fray and soon the opposition folded.Meanwhile in the middle of a desert somewhere in Arabia...One cacti turned to another cacti and said..."The batteries on my Walkman have run down. Have you got any?"
The other cactus looked quizzically at the first in a way that only a cactus can look and said"Certainly," it said, dipping into the pocket of its moleskin trousers (which seemed wholly inappropriate for the climate) rummaging around for a packet of batteries it always carried about itself for those awkward moments when its electric spine trimmer went flat.
" Here you go...What are you listening to?""Well," said the other cactus, inserting the batteries. "This morning I received an audio cassette message from Boutros Boutros-Ghali.""Oh, you mean the former UN Secretary General?"
"That's the one. We were at Cambridge together, you know? He sometimes calls me when he needs help in one of the world's trouble spots. "
He pressed play, "It must be important, he sent his best agent, dressed as a UPS man, to deliver it."This was the message played back through the headphones:
"Greetings! Arthur Robinson, currently working undercover as a cactus in the Sahara Desert. We require you to proceed immediately to Leamington Spa in the United Kingdom, where a master crook disguised as Hugh Grant is leading a bunch of impostors. They are up to something nefarious and we can't be having with that. Hop on the next plane out of there and get to work!""Blimey!" said the other cactus (in actuality a clever disguise that hid Arthur's partner Agent X) "Is this for real?"Robinson put his fingers in his mouth and let out a carefully pitched whistle. Two camels came trotting over a dune."Take us to our plane!" the moleskin-clad cactus ordered.
Meanwhile, in Leamington Spa...Hugh dusted off his hands as the last stormtroopers toppled over painfully. He flicked back his mildly annoying fringe, turned to Bob and said, "Hi, I'm Hugh," disarmingly, of course, offering his hand.
Someone she vaguely recognised as having been in Grange Hill in the eighties helped Jill to her feet.
Zammo produced a thermos flask and unscrewed the lid, "Tea?" he inquired.
"Just say no," whispered Bob into Jill's ear, brushing his lips against her ear lobe in a way that could hardly be considered non-sexual. "I don't trust these guys.
Jill did not hear him. She was transfixed by Hugh; hypnotised by the gentle bobbing of his fringe. She was drawn by his infectious charm, dazzled by his brilliant smile and jolly impressed by his enormous - "...prickly situation." said Arthur.
"Hmmm?" Mumbled Agent X startled from one reverie or another. "Wassat?""I said, this is quite a prickly situation. I mean does Leamington Spa have an airport?" asked Arthur pointedly.""Dunno." shrugged X, still inside the cactus suit."What disguise do you suggest, once we reach Leamington Spa?"His comrade in front replied: "Well, in that part of the world, the least conspicuous would be...
LATER THE NEXT DAY...A small two-prop charter plane booked in the name B.B. Ghali landed at Leamington Spa airport and two Royal Mail pillar boxes disembarked and made there way inconspicuously across the runway and into the airport."It's dark in here," said the first of the pillar-boxes."Yes, but at least we out away from that of that infernal heat." said Arthur Robinson. "Look out of your slot, see if there is a way out of here.""Yes, over there in the corner," said Agent X in the first pillar box, "there's a door."The two pillar-boxes shuffled over towards the door.---------------------------------------------------------(In a bid to satisfy the more sceptical readers amongst our audience there shall be at this point introduced a short monograph to explain why the large crowds of people flowing through the busy terminal completely failed to notice the gradual, if unsteady, progression of two red pillar-boxes across the floor of the airport lobby.Your narrator can exclusively reveal that this was down to a powerful and highly unlikely "Somebody Else's Problem" Field being generated by the two post boxes.
Quite how these fields are generated has never been adequately explained by anyone but idle speculation after the fact holds that it may have had something to do with a large Improbability field that was also detected. Residual traces of which can also be employed to explain how Leamington Spa acquired an airport on the first place. The question of where the improbability field came from is unimportant and we advise you to disregard it immediately.Suffice to say that almost nobody paid either of our intrepid pair of agents any attention whatsoever.)-------------------------------------------------------They had reached the door."Can you turn the handle?" asked Agent X."How can I do that?" said Arthur Robinson, a little testily."Reach out through your post slot", hissed Agent X...."Oh Dear." Said Arthur suddenly."Now what is the matter?" Asked Agent X quickly."I think my arm is stuck!" whispered Arthur, panicking."Give it a wiggle," suggested X, trying to be helpful.The small band of Customs officials, who had been watching the whole affair with something that bordered on incredulity, stirred amongst themselves.
Despite the hitherto discussed Somebody Else's Problem Field, the ever-watchful guardians of Her Maj's portals were trained to deal with this sort of thing and as such were not dissuaded from interfering by the subtleties as something as ethereal as an S.E.P.
The group dispatched the two burliest guards from the bunch to go and investigate.
It was just as Arthur and Agent X had succeeded in picking the lock on the Women's toilet, that they marched over and arrested the pair of them. While they waited for the Transport police to turn up, the customs officials put the two pillar-boxes into one of the storage lockers and then went back to their game of cribbage."So..." said Arthur Robinson wistfully."Yes?" said Agent X."How do you suppose we get out of this one?" murmured Arthur. "There is...one possibility...Well, we could always try..."After a short while they walked out of the airport and hailed a cab."U got pockets in those post boxes?" the cabby asked."Yes." They said in unison."Well jump in then, where you going to?"They told him.
What a nice cabby... they thought as they drove off.Elsewhere in the world Bob and Jill had just recovered, along with various members of Britain's acting fraternity, from a monster game of Twister and now they were all slumped around the large bandstand in a Leamington Spa public park.
Large amounts of alcohol were being imbibed but it wasn't clear what the party was for and Bob was sure he could recognise some of the Nazi stormtroopers, from the morning, joining in also.
He sat alone beneath a tree nursing a beer dejectedly. Occasionally he glowered across at where Jill was leaning intimately against Hugh Grant and giggling flirtatiously. Bob tried in vain to repress the pain welling up from the pit of rejection within him by reading an article in a discarded storage-locker manufacturers' journal about how all HM Customs storage lockers now are designed to have door handles in the inside because of the possibility of individuals becoming trapped in them. But this did little to quench his sadness.
It was then that he noticed the weasel-like officer from earlier in the day, yes, he was sure it was he, and chatting happily with the actors. Bob watched as the officer went to collect beers for himself and Martin Clunes.Suddenly there was a terrific scream..."You haven't got any money??" Screamed the taxi driver, "But, but you said you had money!!""No, we said we had pockets," replied Arthur stoically, "We never mentioned money."The Driver was clearly agitated and was just climbing out of the front of the cab when Agent X ran around and bashed the driver over the head with a parcel someone had posted through his slot."Was that really necessary?" asked Arthur disapprovingly."But he might have ruined the plan!" whined Agent X "And Agent XXX says she'll be 'extra nice' if I hold a plan together for once""And What Plan is this then?""You know," said X reclining against the side of the taxi "The one that goes...Moments later they were both interrupted by another terrified scream...Martin Clunes! What was he doing here, thought Bob? He broke out into a sweat, began to start dabbing a beads of sweat congregating around his temples; his mind was racing, his heart was pounding.
This actually had nothing to do with the nearby presence of Mr Clunes but that in a bid to take his mind of a Jill and Hugh he taken to running on a treadmill that some of the stormtroopers had knicked from a local leisure centre.Suddenly there was a terrified scream!Hugh grant leapt from Jill's side and started leaping about and running around the park shouting and screaming. Bob wondered: What could Hugh have seen that had shaken him so? What dark phobia had welled up from the shadows of his past that could send him into such furious apoplexy?
While Bob paused to consider these different thoughts he momentarily forgot to keep his legs moving in a characteristic running motion. This was bad because being on a treadmill he was flung off backward and knocked briefly unconscious.When he came to a few moments later Hugh was still hoping about and for the first time Bob noticed that he was now waving a small, blue fish at Jill."Where did you get this? Did a UPS man bring it?" he yelled.
Jill violently pulled out of her swooning state and was hesitating as to what to tell him.Bob groaned and fell unconscious again.Just then, two red Royal Mail pillar-boxes came surreptitiously strolling across the lawn towards the motley group of people.
The drunken actors, slowly one by one, stood up and stared mouths agape. A few began shaking their beer cans and peering down the necks of bottles; checking to see how drunk they actually had managed to get through.Hugh stopped in mid-hop with a fish dangling limply from his left hand, his mouth, too, wide open in amazement at the sight of what he was witnessing.Jill ran and hid behind a bush.Bob came to for the second time just as....Arthur Robinson produced a snub nosed automatic from his pocket and pointed it a Hugh Grant's head"Drop the disguise,", barked X, - "We know who you really are Hugh, or should I say Richard!"There were gasps of astonishment as the wig fell to the floor and the actor who had previously been known as Hugh unfurled from his assumed stoop (gaining several feet in height in the process) and was revealed as Richard E Grant - Evil half-brother of Hugh and star of films such as Withnail and I."Curses, Arthur!" He cried bitterly. "How did you know?""Before I tell you perhaps we should all sit down in a civilised manner" Arthur gestured to Agent X (who had also shed his pillar box disguise.)"X, tie everyone up.""Bother it Arthur" interjected Agent X as he finished securing everyone and checking them for weapons. Bob, had he of been awake and not lying supine and comatose behind the treadmill would probably have that Jill quite enjoyed this bit. "You said you weren't going to use my real name" then realising his mistake he shut up and hoped no one had noticed.Arthur quickly leapt to X's defence (this ought to be worth a pint later, he calculated) continued talking to distract everyone from his partners gaffe."Well Richard it was really very simple...""We work for Boutros-Boutros Ghali and we have been monitoring you and your group's activities for some time now, Mr Grant.
We arrived here by taxi from Leamington Spa airport. Following leads we have held on our files.
As an international thief, confidence trickster and Master of Disguise, you were relatively easy to trace although we couldn't detect you in this crowd.
Instead we had to lure you out. We had another one of our operatives drop an identical dead, blue fish as the one that the UPS Guy had to contact earlier.
Your reaction gave you away immediately." finished Arthur smugly."Who did this", spat grant, "which one of you betrayed me?""Agent XXX will you please come forward." Said Arthur plainly.Jill stood up and let her bonds slip from her shoulders with a shrug and fall to the ground in an way, that elicited groans from the bound Guild of British Stage and Screen acting talent.
Bob, happily meandering in and out of consciousness grimaced inwardly. He had suspected something like this. He knew only secret agents learnt how to speak German."Oh Richard, you big silly, why did you do it, why did you become so evil?" said Jill (AKA Agent XXX) stroking his cheek affectionately."If only you knew the power of the dark side..." whispered Grant hoarsely."You'll have to come with us," said Arthur "the rest of you are free to go. X collect up all of their weapons.
He inclined his head back at grant. "But first Mr Grant, who do you work for? Which shadowy criminal mastermind is behind all of this? Tell me!Grant turned. "I work for...arrrgh!"A GUNSHOT!!!Richard E Grant pitched forward into Arthur's arms."tOo LaTe, he choked. It hak! HaK! wAs..." Unseen, some way off and still dazed from the incident with the treadmill, Bob looked on. So, she'd been an agent all along he thought. Typical.
Suddenly, from behind him, came a deafening crack and he saw that bloke from 'How to Get Ahead in Advertising' collapse.
Bob rolled over and crouched on his haunches. He saw a large brown van nose its way out of the park gates. He ran in pursuit but was too late. In the leaf-litter he found a long, heavy rifle with an impressive telescopic sight on it.When the others found him, he was sat on a tree-stump holding the rifle."Bob?" Said Jill."Agent X, X..erm, I mean Jill or whatever, look...this isn't what you think." stammered Bob hurriedly.
Arthur and Agent X approached alongside Jill.
"You killed Richard E Grant!" exclaimed Agent X."Me?" said Bob, "No there was this van...but it was too fast. I found THIS on the ground.""An assassin?" said Arthur. "We must be getting close now. Whoever sent to have Mr Grant killed, must be getting desperate. I'll radio base and ask for more instructions."Arthur came back."What happens now?" asked Bob."We are taking him back to base. Boutros wants to see him personally."
Meanwhile at the old, abandoned amusement arcade at the edge of town...A small, hunchbacked clown was slurring his words..."But Whatsh thad got to do with meesh... I don't care about shome actor guysh pretendin' to bee ovver actor guysh...""You don't understand Mr Gonzaroolio," said a 4 1/2 foot man in a leather trench-coat, "this is all part of a plan to stop Boutros-Boutros Ghali from destroying our illegal cheese smuggling ring. He has threatened to expose us to the French authorities and we will be ruined forever! I managed to bribe Richard E. Grant with some stupidly expensive wine to try, the others are just extras.""Sho, all I have to do ish..."- CONFESS!" said Agent X, (using an editing technique utilised to great effect in high-drama episodes of Quincy.)"Jealous of his growing relationship with Jill and irritated by his unnecessary middle initial, you killed him with a high powered rifle.""Don't be ridiculous!" Cried Bob. "I did no such thing."X decided to try and different approach. "Cigarette?" He suggested.Bob drummed his fingers on the desk. "But I don't smoke.""Look, I offer you a cigarette and if you sign this confession you get one - that's the 'good cop' thing, in a nutshell."
"Oh." Said Bob, more than a little confused. "No Thanks!" He added cheerfully."Coffee?""Nuh-uh." Said Bob shaking his head."What about a Bacon sandwich?" Pleaded Agent X."My body is a temple." Replied Bob with aloof finality.Exhausted, Agent X stepped out of the interview room where Bob was being urged to admit to the murder of Richard E. Grant, and gestured to Arthur Robinson that he should go in and try the 'bad cop' approach.
Meanwhile, Agent X padded off towards the briefing stage where the UPS guy was at the podium. He took a seat at the back, behind his fellow secret agents."Alfredo Matthias Gonzaroolio, other known aliases include Bumpy the Clown. "
The UPS guy was speaking sternly occasionally smacking his pointy stick against the screen behind him. Projected onto that screen was a mug shot of a man in heavy make-up and a huge, curly green wig holding a prisoner number board.
"The word is he's a close surveillance specialist of the old school - A real pro in his day, one of the best. But in recent years he's fallen on hard times and succumbed to alcoholism. Someone is keeping him stocked and getting him to do their dirty work."
"Any Questions?"Why him though, Sir? " asked Agent Jill XXX from the front row."Well he was also a crack sniper in his youth. There were two bullets in that gun. He only fired off one of them. It is possible he was meant to take out Grant and another target as well but was disturbed before he could do so.
Our job is to work out who his other intended victim was before Alfredo attempts another assassination."There was now another figure moving onto the podium. A hush fell among the students gathered in The Great Hall.
It was the cryogenically frozen head of Boutros-Boutros Ghali. A white-coated lab official placed the tray, on which the head rested, next to the microphone on the podium so that the Dr. Ghali could address the assembled agents."Yes, my students. It is of utmost importance that we resolve this matter quickly.
Do your duty. You have my utmost confidence. Good day to you all.... Pick me up please...Thank You..."As the conference hall began to empty Agent X located Agent XXX at the front.
"Eurrrgh, that never stops freaking me out! - I mean how does a man end up as just a head?" he said to her."I don't know. His job as Secretary General of the U.N was merely a front for this operation. What happened after his tenure ended no one really knows. Maybe it has something to do with this Matthias fellow, the clown?", she suggested."Come on, lets go back and see how Arthur's doing.", He said.When they returned to the interview rooms they were surprised to find Arthur waiting patiently outside in the corridor."What are doing here?" said Agent X"They brought him in to see how the interrogation was going." Said Arthur."Who?" said Jill."HIM. The...you know.... The Head." whispered Arthur, "He said he wanted to ask the prisoner a few questions himself.Instinctively all three of them looked at the door.
Meanwhile on the other side of the interview room door....Boutros Boutros Ghali was asking Bob what he thought of his new sunglasses. "You don't think there too wide do you?" he said. "It's just that I think the staff here just tell me what I want to hear. One of my agents thinks I look like Courtney love in them. I mean have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? What do you think? Be honest." He looked up at Arthur imploringly.
"Oh no, they...er...look very...er...good on you." Bob said, hoping he was saying what the very cold looking head on the table in front of him wanted to hear.
"Good that's what I thought." Said Boutros. "Now to business. Frankly Bob I don't think you shot Mr Grant but we need to find out who did, and whomever that other bullet was meant for!
Bumpy and who ever he's working with must be stopped!"Will you help us Bob? You're the only man we know who can."
SOME TIME LATER...From the lofted peak of a disused roller coaster, something moved with a purpose. A variously coloured, Lycra clad figure descended on a silken polymer thread. His garish Red and Blue costume was oddly at home in these surroundings. He crouched on all fours silently and checked all around. His 'spider sense' was no longer tingling."Well that's another fine mess you've got me into Stan Lee" he muttered to nobody in particular...---------------------------------------------------------
And it is this narrator's humble opinion; that attempting to access the verisimilitude of this statement is actually no-where near as interesting, in almost every important respect, as instead attending to the blasé and cavalier manner in which the thought was uttered. Because, you see, there was somebody.
And their intent was anything but benign.
In fact to describe it as just "another fine mess." really doesn't do justice to the problem at all...
For indeed, had Spidey's legendary sixth sense been up to speed it would have been flashing green and purple behind his eyelids, cranking up the mental-klaxons and screaming: For God's sake, RUN!!!"
In a metaphorical sense.
---------------------------------------------------------Agent XXQ (obscure Roman numeral) shed himself of his disguise, and snuck into the shadows of the 'Den of Clownz' smuggling ring.
He stuck close to the wall, ducked under the trucks, moved silently across shadows and between the raindrops. Boutros had selected him personally for this mission. Surveillance, record and report.Bob had just finished feeding the Fibre-Optic Cable into The Big Tent and fixed it with a small transmitter, when someone struck him from behind with something that was from Agent XXQ's point of view, blunt and briefly very heavy.
As he lay in mud, rain falling onto his face, fading in and out of consciousness. A squat man in a leather coat leered over him and grinned revealing a truly hideous maw bad yellow teeth."Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh.", it crooned as Bob's eyes rolled into the back of his head.Things had just got A LOT worse...........Urrrggggrh....Bob came to slowly. He was in what appeared to be a darkened room and lay on a bed with red satin sheets, lit by a dim red light.
The walls were hung with the same red satin and this was all about, interspersed with mirrors.
Nearby he heard one of those indoor fountains splashing, he quickly decided, in a very monotonous fashion.
A girl appeared suddenly beside him: talk, dark and predatory - perhaps she had been there all the time - She took a glass of brandy in her long red-nailed fingers and lifted his head so he could drink.Relishing the moment Bob thought, "Well, this could have been a lot worse"."Bob." The girl whispered his name in a seductive Cuban accent. "Please believe me. You are safe. I have a message for you."
"The dying pilchard bleeds under a turquoise moon."This is all I have time to say, I must go now." she whispered before appearing to melt back through the curtains.Bob was left alone to his own thoughts. As his faculties returned to him (he had no idea, what on Earth the lady in red had given to him but he reasoned it had done him the world of good and quickly made a mental note to try and find out. Meanwhile he distinguished now a looped playback of the Celine Dion's greatest hits in the background"This must be an allusion to the dead blue fish from Leamington Spa we found." He thought to himself."Stop!" he called "Come back!"But Célines heart was going on and on and on and no one could have heard him over the din.
He walked over to the water fountain and washed his face in its clear, cool waters and then he quickly unplugged the damn thing because that infernal plunking was worse than Chinese Water Torture.
He wasn't ready to face the world just yet and certainly not that character that had breathed on him so putridly just before he was knocked out. He rummaged around and found the brandy bottle.He took a slug and straightened his shoulders. Time to go and find the dying pilchard, or whatever waited for him on the other side of those curtains the girl had so seductively slipped through....On the other side it was dark."Hellooo?" Bob called out.The echo sounded large and empty. He wanted some more of that brandy. He reached inside his pocket, but the bottle was gone. Instead his hand closed around a mobile phone.It rung."Hello?" said Bob."Who's this?" said the voice on the other end."Erm...I'm Bob." Said Bob a little unnerved. "I think something very strange is happening. I was looking for this woman with red nails and she said:
"The dying pilchard bleeds under the turquoise moon."
I'm feeling a little giddy to be honest. I don't even own a mobile phone, what is going on?"The phone was silent. Except that now it wasn't a phone either it was a small blue dead fish."Arrgh!" cried Bob dropping it on the floor.Panic-striken he ran on into the darkness."Help me! Please. Somebody help me!!" he shouted.
This time there was no returning echo. Bob thought he heard voices somewhere off in the distance. Yes they were getting closer now.There was a light...He opened his eyes and immediately regretted it."Ah! Our subject is awake at last." exclaimed the 4 1/2 foot man in the leather trenchcoat.Bob could feel his arms tied tightly behind his back. So it had all been a dream.
His face ached all over. That little sneak. He must have caught him a right viscous blow to the temples."Where am I? What's going on?" He managed rather hoarsely."Your are our prisoner. Bob. Oh yes I know all about you - Boutros's new toy." said the man.He leaned over to talk to another man, though leaned is hardly descriptive.
This new character towered over the former like a horribly be-muscled colossus.
Bob could see that he had a face like a cliff: Sheer, deadly and given over to moss.
The man shot a glance at Bob that could have withered spanners."You may begin when you are ready Doc-a-tor." said the Trenchcoat as he walked out of the room, mispronouncing the word with an extra syllable that carried meaning.
'This man is large and violent and well versed in causing grievous and protracted periods of pain for people like YOU and he will start to do unimaginable things if you don't talk NOW!' Is what that extra syllable did.The doctor walked across the room and brought back a small tray lined with 'instruments', happily just out of sight from Bob. The man, turned around brandishing something awful- he advanced towards Bob holding in his hand something that Bob recognised to be a rather small haddock.
The Doctor brought raised his arm high in the air....Meanwhile, outside and a short distance away all of The Agents from Boutros's Agency were lined behind the ridge of a hill.
Several had some rather nifty looking night-vision goggles and were busy sweeping the compound. Suddenly one of them threw their arm into the air. They'd spotted some movement inside one of the forward caravans. Someone was definitely in there.
News of Bob's disappearance had been relayed back to Boutros who had ordered his safe return at all costs, so here they all were.
A concentrated hush swept across the body of assembled agents. The order was given and the Agents charged the abandoned amusement park.At the front of the advancing hoard were Arthur, Agent X, Jill and Bruce (AKA Agent XXXX-he wont give a Castlemaine for anything else.) They sprinted ahead of the main group and broke down the door with an almighty boot to the hinges!
On the other side was a...rather worryingly large...panting....man in a Pink fluffy elephant suit.
It bore around it's neck a sign that clearly indicated that this elephant's name was Herbert and quite to the astonishment of the assembled agents. Herbert was singing in sweet Irish tones:
went up the all-ey
All the spies behind him
Drinking tots of neat gin
They climbed the roof
They hung from the rafter
Bob got shot
and home did trot
And Jill came tumbling after"
After the doctor had slapped him about the chin a couple of times with a slab of cold dead fish, he had placed the haddock back onto the rack and selected instead an old descant recorder and he was attempting to play three blind mice inches away from Bill-Bob's ear.
Bob was secretly mystified why this particular method of torture was being employed when he speculated there were surely many more effective procedures that probably involved being poked or prodded and stretching or worse still fractions.Something sub-conscious raised itself and in a desperate bid to save himself Bob cried out:"The dying pilchard bleeds under a turquoise moon!"The large man stepped back, startled."The pass-code! - Frightfully sorry old chap." Said the doctor as he put the recorder down. "We hadn't realised you were one of our lot. We musta confused you wiv' sumbudy else."
Bob was untied and the doctor handed him a couple of aspirin for his headache."Where am I?" managed Bob, weakly."Right now." Said the doctor.
"We are inside a nuclear submarine.
You see we heard from The Big Cheese himself that there might be a raid tonight and had hidden this sub in the tunnel of love in the old fun-fair.
We left one of our best agents - Irish songster Ronan Keating dressed as a pink elephant - to provide a diversion while we slipped away.""Who is The Big Cheese" probed Bob."You're having a laugh aren't you?" said the Doctor. "ol' short-arse must'av given you a right blow t' the head. Can't you remember the real identity of The Big Cheese is a closely guarded secret? None of us know who the The Big Cheese is"The Doctor lapsed into a morose silence.
Just then a *Woop-Woop* noise started loudly somewhere to Bobs left and the room started to shake furiously.
In burst a sailor in a natty little uniform."We're under attack!" he shouted above the din. "Prepare for torpedo atta -!..."At that moment the whole vessel boomed and shook and everyone was flung across the room in that entertaining Star Trek kinda way."Oh No!" Said the Natty Sailor (whose name was Tim.) "We've been hit! The captain will have to surface and surrender!"
The vessel lurched upward with a queasy elevator feeling, making everyone's ears pop.
When it surfaced Bob found his bonds had fallen loose he rushed after Tim by way of a quick detour to the tower. Tim opened the hatch, behind him Bob looked out and saw....the eye of a purple... bluish....something.Tim pointed at it in dismay
Together, Bob and Tim the Natty sailor pulled Poppa Smurf into the conning tower. He was wearing a frogman's outfit."Completely senile, you know." mouthed Tim quietly with appropriate gestures.
They removed Poppa Smurf's facemask, untangling it from his long beard."You always manage to escape at the most inconvenient times, don't you?" scolded Tim, staring into Poppa Smurf's confused , apologetic eyes, "And right now, just when we're being attacked by a-"
Tim turned to look at just what had attacked them; Bob stammered in disbelief.
"A...a...Giant, balding, incontinent chipmunk and a fleet of men in purple spandex suit!"Tim kicked open the hatch down from the conning tower and dragged Poppa Smurf below.Bob's eyes widened in relief."Its Mr Arthur Robinson!"Bob leaned over the rail and waved to Arthur - who had been the first of the crew, all clad in purple wet suits - to clamber out of Boutros-Ghali's attack submarine.
The sub, which had been disguised as a beaver especially for the mission was spewing foul, yellow liquid into the sea from its bilge pump.
Bob tied off a rope and threw the other end down for the others.
Meanwhile in a cheese warehouse on the banks of the Seines in FranceA security guard (named Ben) was marching up and down looking pleased with himself.
He stood quickly to attention as a sleek, black limousine sailed into the courtyard.
It settled itself in the loading bay. The doors were flung open and three heavy and serious looking men emerged, they flanked a discreet character holding what looked like a goldfish bowl under his arm. Together they marched solemnly towards the main warehouse doors. Ben ducked back inside his small hut.
On the security-camera screens he could see the men arrive at the top of the stairs. The door was opened and they were escorted into the office.Ben was an uncomplicated man. He did his job and tried his best to remain as unobtrusive as possible and not to have ideas above his station.
Still, he was under no illusions that that man had just been brought in for a meeting with Mr Big....Boutros Boutros-Ghali was held at eye level by one of his guardians. He faced a cadre of serious looking be-suited types all flanking a desk, behind which sat another serious looking man, partially obscured. Boutros decided to begin his speech."My name is Boutros Boutros Ghali. I am the head of a special service for international covert operations. My mission here is highly classified and top secret - actually I'm risking mine and all of your lives by telling you this much but - ""Tell us!" barked one of the desk-man's minder's."It's about this cheese smuggling scam...""Yes?" boomed Mr Big, speaking for the first time in this encounter."Well, we thought you should know - there isn't anything actually illegal about exporting cheese."
The assorted men around the table looked at each other in a kind of shock.
"That's all. You go to such efforts hiding it in secret compartments in suitcases, putting it in condoms and swallowing it, and all that. It's just cheese, alright?"Mr Big looked bewildered, but nodded.
"Let's go." Said Boutros to his minder, who picked him up and held him under his arm and turned to leave"I'm going to contact Interpol and the FBI and close down this operation. Smuggling cheese? Honestly! I've never heard of anything so ridiculous." Said Boutros.Mr Big stood up, he was impressively tall."I am afraid I cannot allow you to leave just yet Mr Ghali. No, you see, cheese smugglers we may be but now that you have seen my face I am afraid you must die." Said Mr Big. "Grab them.""The minder dropped Boutros and went for his gun but just then a side door burst inwards and a dozen clownz came dancing in and custard-pied Boutros's van-guard into submission. Mr Big walked over from his desk and stood over where Boutros lay upturned on the floor.
He bent down, picked him up and he brought Boutros's face level with his own."My face inspires terror in my enemies. My name is feared throughout Mother Russia. You have no fear. You do not yet know my name.""Mr Big?" probed Boutros."I have many names.", said Mr Big.
He took Boutros back to his desk and settled into his chair. For all the good it would do, Boutros tried his best to squirm.
"I was an orphan in Moscow in 1944 I was christened by a humble midget priest working at a small cathedral in the outer districts of the city. He was small man with bad teeth and a penchant for leather overcoats. He gave me first name:"
Leicesterschniictch Kitanya-irrania-tatonya-karenska-alisov."I am known by those who fear me as The Red Leicester.""I had no idea." Said Boutros, terrified - "Your voice, your face!...""Great things can be accomplished through surgery. Also accents can learned to be control, records can be destroyed, witnesses can be silenced."
"You still do not seem to appreciate with whom you are dealing."Boutros Goldfished: "...." "...""I work now for the Russian Mafia. For the longest time it has been our dearest wish to get our hands on you.
"It was I who ordered Mr Gonzaroolio to take two bullets to the Leamington Spa Green. We had hoped that you might have turned up instead of sending that heeled terrier of yours Arthur Robinson.
Still that is of little consequence, we have you now and your Precious Agency has no idea!""Take him downstairs to the Underground Monorail, we are leaving."
Meanwhile....Back on the sub a wise old man called Reginald Darby was helping Tim and Bob to get some sense out of the crew and to stop the revolting yellow liquid getting into the decompression chamber.
He used strange methods and old herb recipes cooked over a small earthen wear stove to resuscitate the men. Afterwards all the men sat round to listen to the wise old man, the Sage Darby, as he told them tales of the Kraken The great White Whales and what happened down at the bottom of the sea. A result of which was that the sub crashed into an island because no one was looking where it was going.
While the remainder of the crew remained unconscious or dazed in the hold, Bob grabbed one of mini water-proof, hand-held radios - climbed out of the sub and swam to the shore for a quick look around. underestimating the near-shore currents he arrived on the beach exhausted. There he crawled onto the sand and lay there on his back, breathing heavily.Just then a group of native tribesman appeared out of the forest their leader looked at him and said:"A God from the Sea! Truly it is foretold in our ancient lore! Come - we must worship you! Smother you in gold! Feed you exotic fruits! Offer you the finest virgins!"The metaphorical ears on Bob's prone ego pricked up and he managed to looked dazed but happy.
He was ushered to a litter, borne high by the strength of the mighty natives, and taken to a clearing on the island where there were lots of little huts and corrals.
The natives set him down and one of them stepped forward. He wore atop his head a fiendishly complicated head-dress. It put Bob in mind of a distressed albatross attempting to mate with the Chelsea Flower Show. He eyed Bob warily and finally pronounced the following tale:That a long time ago, The island had worshipped many Gods and had been deeply pious.
Naturally this led to a lot of theological debates: who had the best Deity and so forth. This in turn, had over time, led to a number of academic scuffles and then wars between the tribes and ultimately - Schisms.
The last of which was a fight to the death between two wings of the Church of Qwixinn (lit: 'He who blesseth the Watermelon.')
Those who fervently believed in the Supreme Majesty of Qwixinn and those who didn't and thought that a low level god who occasionally blessed the odd watermelon or two was something they could rather do without.Towards the end of the fighting, the Pro-Qwixinn camp being a moralistic sort, opened a dialogue with the opposing side. Representatives were brought and much was discussed. These were tough but they felt fair negotiations to convince their brethren of the correctness of their arguments. When this inevitably failed to work; the pro-camp went to bed that fateful night with that rather cosy feel of a good job well done despite all evidence to the contrary.
The other camp having already decided that Gods on the whole were a bad idea had suddenly freed themselves from a thousand years of years of restrictive morality and quite frankly now saw nothing wrong with ambushing those effete idiots in the dark and letting their enemies experience for themselves the joys eternal of that life in the ever-after that they were always recommending.
Not for them the cunning argued stance. Just very big knives.After this glorious military coup, the now God-less inhabitants of the island referred to the prophecies of the Elders to see how they should start governing themselves.
And lo' it described in fascinating detail how:
"In the yeers that arr two followe. wone shal ly on the sande and be most God-like in itts apparel.And So it was to Bob's general dismay that he was then told how he would be 'worshipped' as the new God of the island. They would feed him exotic fruits, the sort that made bits of you go green and black and start smelling faintly of almonds before dropping off.
KILL HIM IMMEDIATELY."
The finest and purest girls from each of the villages would come and dance before him while he was tied to a stake.
Then he was to be taken around all of the villages of the island and displayed before each of the tribes so that they may see what happens to false Gods."However," continued the craggy-faced Tribesman. "The tribes are spread all across the island, making many days travel. To cover the distance before the winter We shall have to cut you up quite small...""What about the showers of Gold?" squeaked Bob meekly."Those?" Said the tribesman and burst out laughing. "You didn't think we ACTUALLY give you our gold did you?""Well...Um...I kinda hoped..."
The tribesman nodded like he had expected this to be Bob's reply."Tchh!" God's! They never learn! It's always I want, I want, I want. Worship Me, Worship Me. or I'll give you this Watermelon for that Gold ingot!"The man gestured and Bob was dragged into a hut...Poking out from just beneath the waves, stuck on a rock just off the coast of the island, remained the submarine 'The Beaver'. Inside, Arthur, and Agent X were in the cockpit Tim, Jill and Captain Darby were trying to organise the sub off of the rock.
They had dispatched a radio buoy to the surface earlier to listen for reports from Bob, who had gone up to look at how things were. He had not radioed in.
All was silent for some time, but for Arthur talking into the transmitter, "Come in Bob, come in Bob, this is the Beaver, ...over."
There was no reply for hours. Then the radio sprang into life with a burst of static.
"Come in Beaver, Come in Beaver..."
In the corner, Agent X sniggered, but it was hardly the time for innuendo.Arthur grabbed the microphone, "This is Beaver, receiving over...Bob, you're alive!""No. This is Boutros...erm. Sorry to use the emergency frequency." Came the reply. "Spot of bother, chaps...over.""Really, sir?" said Arthur as the static echoed around the silent cabin."Yes, I've been captured by a....rogue Russian agent. I should have known that cheese-smuggling operation was too silly to be anything other than a cover story. I don't suppose you could come and, sort of rescue us, eh?"
Arthur looked around at each of the faces in the cabin.
"Might be a bit of a while, actually, sir." he said reluctantly into the microphone. "We've got a couple of things to do first. Where are you?""I don't know. We were in Paris, then we were taken on a monorail underground. But you'll be able to locate me, I'm wearing my tracking device quickly...have to go, there's someone coming, ...." The voice broke up.
Arthur turned back gravely to the others, "Where is Bob?"Bob awoke in a bath. The water was pleasantly warm and he leant back to ease his tired muscles. All of that secret agenting can take it out of a guy. He watched idly as a fine dust several bath salts were sprinkled over him - this Deity business wasn't as bad a that tribesman had made out.
Nonetheless something was stirring in the lower levels of his subconscious. It said: this isn't right, why only a few sections ago I was being set up to be horribly maimed and tortured." Talk about sloppy narrative he thought as the tendrils of dozey sleep enveloped him again.Suddenly, he sat bolt up-right in the water.Then, as these things do, the mists of delusion cleared and Bob was left staring at the nightmare approach of the juggernaught called Reality.
"Hang about!" he cried out in sudden alarm. "These aren't bath salts. This is real salt. - I'm being seasoned!!""Yes" intoned a sombre tribesman stirring the cauldron with a ladle, it is an aid to mastication.""YOU'RE GOING TO EAT ME!?!!!""No, we are just softening you up for the evil and viscous creature that lives in the caves in the cove just around the beach head. The elders have decided that you should suffer the most painful and prolonged death imaginable.""Nrrk!" said Bob."What is it?" asked the tribesman, concerned."I just swallowed a slice of carrot."Meanwhile down inside the beaver...."We've combed all areas, Cap." chimed some anonymous sailors."I said to quit it with that innuendo." chastised a tense Darby"Sorry Capin'." said the ensigns. "We have salvaged all of the scuba gear, maybe Bob has fallen or something but is not able to get to his communicator?"
(In actual fact while Bob was being lightly simmered in the cauldren some of the brighter tribesman had rooted through his clothes found the communicator, had turned the thing on and were for the first time in the history of their culture listening to the cricket scores.)Arthur appeared from out of a hatch."We just received a message from Boutros, he has been kidnapped. We are going to rescue him. Still no word from Bob though. First, we shall all need to regroup. Is that scuba gear?"Yes." said Reginald Darby.
"Right in that case, we don't know what's on that island if Bob's disappeared and I don't want to take my chances with those surface currents. I'll take Agent X, Jill and Tim and we'll swim up to the surface find and bring back Bob. You prep the ship for immediate re-launch on our return.""Yo-ho-ho Arthur." saluted the U-boat's crew...
Meanwhile Bob was having great difficulty raising Jill on his mobile phone.He speculated that this might have had something to do with its internal circuitry being soaked by the stew of which he was a key ingredient. He quickly came round to the fact that aside from dreaming he owned a mobile phone one after being koshed by the 4 and 1/2 foot-tall man in a leather trenchcoat at the den of Clownz, he didn't actually have a mobile phone and the whole venture had been doomed to fail from the outset really.
He chewed on a bit of leek and tried to think what Jill would have done in this situation.
He decided she would have put on her apron and stirred him round a bit.He dreamed of how he would escape this cauldron before it got too hot.
A flash of inspiration caused him to start staring to a point in the distance and put on a horrified face. "The creature's coming for its dinner! Look!" He yelled.The natives all looked in the same direction and so persuasive was his acting that(despite their collective knowledge that the creature was, in fact, invisible) this distraction lasted just long enough for Bob to jump out of the cauldron just as the water was starting to get too hot.Butt-naked, he ran in the other direction and nearly bumped into Arthur, X, Jill and Tim.
Bob, in fact tripped over a rock and went rolling down the hill, straight past his friends who were busy ascending the rock face."Where's he going?" said Arthur, puzzled."Look he's landed in that privet bush.""I wonder what could have got him so spooked" asked X, peering cautiously over the crest of the hill. The others looked as well.
What they saw looking back at them were all of the tribes from across the island some were still frantically searching for this mysterious vanishing monster, others had by that time, caught on that the God had escaped from his cauldron."Oh." said X."Indeed." said Arthur."Run away?" suggested Jill."Yes." agreed Tim emphatically."okay." said X."Right." said Jill.They quickly loosened the rope and used the slack to absail down to were Bob was perched on the privet.The collective tribes people were now all involved in busily searching for their God so that they could kill him.
One of them looked down the hill and saw the others man-handling Bob out of the bush."Alarm! Alarm!" he cried.Another one of the feathery-elders came to the hill and looked down.
"More Gods." He noted carefully. "Come my brothers. We must worship them also..."Having freed Bob, and tied his damp, lightly seasoned body on to one of their ropes; the agents could begin to descend the rock face once more back towards the sea.
However, they had only dropped a few feet when Jill became aware of vibrations in her line. Looking up, she could see a muscular man in a feathered head-dress leaning over the edge of the cliff and sawing through the rope with a flint implement, just below the grappling hook that held it there. Another appeared and attacked Arthur's line also.
With craggy rocks below them things looked bad. Then, from above the agents heard a deafening roar and the screaming of frightened people, and thunderous stomping sent shocks through the cliff face.They looked up at the cliff in astonishment, and, just along from the tribespersons saw the UPS Guy run down the ramp from a large Dropship that had just landed, flattening the leading edge of the jungle in the process. He was leading on a leash a Tyrannosaurus Rex."Where did you get THAT from!?" called Arthur.UPSguy looked around puzzled for the origin of the disembodied voice, before finally peering over the cliff edge.
"Oh, we've had this little baby in cold storage for some time now. It's on loan from Universal Studios. Boutros contacted us at HQ on the emergency frequency. He said to get on over to Arthur and the others, see if you can lend them a hand and to take Flopsy with you." He shouted back."Flopsy?" said Jill."Yeah she's just a big sissy really, if she's any bother to you just bop her on the nose - come on girl go get them."
He undid the catch on the tether and the Dinosaur stomped off into the crowd of villagers
Seeing all of this terror and violence------------------------------------------------------------(Thankfully taking place behind the hill and out of view of Me, your humble narrator)------------------------------------------------------------Guy suddenly began again: "That reminds me - Boutros also said: 'Will SOMEBODY please come and rescue me? The Russians keep playing Shove Ha' Penny with my head.' Get back in the sub, take Bob with you. Boutros is somewhere is Siberia. Go, quickly. I'll take care of this lot."
Then, with a Viking-like war-yodel he ran off down the far side of the Hill to get back his dinosaur."Well, that was...er...um....interesting, wasn't it." said X.Bob, who had regained consciousness just in time to see the UPS Guy holding a dinosaur on a length of rope had decided that being conscious was far to much hard work and that there were obviously things going on around him that he was probably far better of not knowing about, was consequently murmuring quietly to himself as he drifted, quite pleasantly."lets get him back to the sub, check him over." said Arthur."Good idea." said X.It was at this precise moment that the frayed end of the rope, finally gave way -
- and the muscular tribal chief grabbed at it and pulled Jill up.He took hold of her gently and firmly - definitely not in a non-sexual way - and carried her along the top of the ridge.
Jill was scared stiff at this treatment, although inexplicably aroused by this demonstration of animal passion.(Good job Bob was still unconscious - he'd have been jealous again)But X saw her plight and climbed up his rope at a rate of knots. He scrambled back over the top and ran towards the couple, fighting off the tribesmen who had been surprised by their chief's actions but who were now defending him as their code of behaviour dictated.
Meanwhile, Jill had been staring into the eyes of her kidnapper and was already convincing herself that he wasn't so bad after all, and being treated like this couldn't be worse than what would have befallen her if she'd dropped when the rope broke.
"He's just like a Teddy Bear" she thought to herself. "Strong and protective and doesn't talk overmuch." The Tribal Chief lay her down gently in a mossy clearing and his feathers tickled her forehead as he took a closer look.
"Come on Bear" - said Jill planting a big kiss on the Feathered man's lips just as X charged and pinned the Chief to the floor with a diving tackle."OI!!, WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR!?!" yelled Jill, incensed as X punched the chief and laid him out cold.
X looked up at her "Erm...Look around you Jill, large mossy clearing, ceremonial alters, strange mounds in the ground, and what did you think he was going to do with this??"
X pulled out the chief's very large scary looking knife.
"Oh, I see." said Jill haughtily conceding the point.
"Well how wrong can you be about a guy?"X shook his head and rolled his eyes, in a 'what are you like, you silly girl' way. "come on lets get back to the others before he wakes up"Jill and X jogged back to the cliff, where they noticed that their rope was coiled at the bottom of the cliff all that remained at the top was a few frayed strands."Now how are we ever going to get down now??"X signalled the UPS guy who brought Flopsy over.
"oozagudgirl den? Yezuarr, yezuarr!" he said stroking her affectionately on the snout."Um...you may want to do something about - that." Jill gestured to the dinosaur."What?" said the UPS Guy, distracted."The...Um...spear sticking out from between her teeth." pointed X, feeling faintly nauseous."Aww that's nothing, for this little lady, that counts as roughage. Yezziddoz, yezziddoz dudden it? Oozagudgirl den?""So anyway, you couldn't give us a hand in getting down to the beach could you?" said X"Yeah sure, I've got a couple of experimental jetpacks on the ship. Hang about here I'll just go and get them." he said.
Thrusting into Jill's unsuspecting hand the reins for Flopsy, he ducked inside the craft.Flopsy looked around forlornly glance down at X and Jill and spread back her lips and revealed what UPS Guy would probably have described as her 'ickkle-wickkle toothie-woosies.'
Briefly X's eyes met Flopsy's, and despite his holding the Chief's rather impressive blade and being a secretive one step above a black belt in several of the more lethal ancient fighting disciplines of the world, several million years of evolution did not erase the sensation in the back of X's head that in this thing's world-view he constituted Hor's deurve.Flopsy yawned.And something inside of X screamed.UPS Guy appeared again, gave X and Jill the jetpacks. They quickly said their goodbyes and floated serenely down to the beach to join up again with Arthur, Tim and Bob.
Once again on solid ground they saw a figure come running hurriedly towards them."Jill, X, come quick!" shouted Arthur."What is it Arthur?" said Jill."It's the Captain!" said Arthur pointing wildly out to sea. "The Beaver's repaired but we've got to head off now, or it will be scuppered on the reef by the incoming tide! Swim everybody!"Arthur, Tim, Bob and X threw themselves into the water and thrashed towards where the conning tower could be seen in the distance. Jill couldn't swim. She looked round for some assistance on the windswept beach. Above her Guy jumped on Flopsy's back and the dinosaur strode out into the water.
Watching as she churned out into the shallows like Godzilla only Jill was left, standing forlornly on the shore."Wait!" she cried "Please wait I can't swim!" - Jill was just powering up the jet-pack that she's used previously to get down from the cliff, intending to use it to get out to the submarine, when a thought occurred to her.
She had first assumed that they were in the Pacific. This has not been explicitly stated yet, but the island does seem to have been pseudo-Polynesian in nature. So Jill assumed that they were somewhere to the west of Australia, perhaps one of the French Polynesian atolls. Bearing in mind that their stated destination was Siberia, submarine would perhaps not be the best way to get there anyway.--------------------------------------------------Had they thought about this, of course, they could have used that aircraft that the UPS guy arrived on, but by now that had long disappeared from this particular narrative.---------------------------------------------------In the distance, she saw The Beaver sink beneath the waves.And so it was that our stranded heroine found a way back up onto the headland and walked unbound into the village. The villagers, who were on their way back from where ever they had hidden from the dinosaur eyed her cautiously except one who knew longing where he saw it.
She spent several hours having amazing sex with that muscular tribal warrior, who turned out to be a teddy bear after all.
Afterwards she explained to him about Atheism and how by making people gods and then killing them, they were entirely missing the point. He promised to tell the other islanders and that they would amend their ways.
It did not take long for a respectable, modern, secular society to appear.
Indeed, within a couple of hours there appeared a Starbucks coffeehouse in the middle of the village and, a little while later, one of the huts was converted into an Irish-theme pub. Jill sold her jetpack to the local pawnbroker and used the money to buy a new iMac and set up an online shoe-repair business called cobblers.com. It was so successful that the following afternoon she floated it on the stock market and was instantly made a millionaire.
Jill used some of the money to buy a Lear jet and hire her own personal pilot.
A landing-strip was constructed across the flattened areas of the jungle and by the weekend, she was ready to leave.She packed her bags and after one last fabulous shag with the tribal warrior guy, whose name she still did not know, she climbed aboard her Lear jet and sat back as it took off.
Jill's plane circled over the island as she reminisced about the week she had spent there and then struck out in the direction of Siberia.
An unspecified amount of time later...Jill was well on her way into Darkest Siberia when fate intervened. (Well, actually it was a very good-looking Eskimo in a heavy fur parka with a mysterious message.)
Jill had been forced to travel the last several hundred miles to Siberia by dogsled, on account of the snow, and just as she was getting ready to set up camp for the evening, he popped out of a snow bank.This seemed like a strange way to make an entrance to Jill, but she was open-minded and simply asked him in for tea.
"Oh, I can't stay." He replied somewhat regretfully. "I've just got to pass this mysterious message along, and then I've got an appointment with a snow bank in Finland."Jill sighed, because she had been thinking about nice warm sleeping bags with two people in them. The Eskimo, unaware of Jill's marauding libido delivered his message:
"The dying pilchard bleeds under a turquoise moon. Do not be influenced by the decisions of others. A friend is important to you. Your lucky bun-cake today is: Blueberry Muffin."Jill pondered these revelations. What could they mean?
"Say, who are you?" she asked. The mysterious man's face was hidden amongst the dense fur of his hood.
However, his ski-suit traced the outline of his muscles. "I am a friend." he said simply in a strong, spicy voice.
He left the tent and was lost in the snow. Jill thought warm thoughts for the rest of the day, after that.Still she had to wonder; where had he got her horoscope from?
Meanwhile somewhere in Finland..."Look, I'm telling you this for the last time, your 'Perfect Sense of Direction' be damned. THIS, is NOT Siberia!!" Said Arthur furiously pointing at the ground."Well, if SOMEONE could actually READ a map or USE a compass, we wouldn't have got lost in the first place would we!?" said X tersely."Listen, lads," said Tim. "There really is no point blaming each -!""SHUTUP!" snapped X and Arthur in Stereo.A man suddenly appeared from behind a snow bank.
"I bring news of Jill and a mysterious message.""How is she?" said Arthur quickly. "The Beaver went down before she got on-board. What did those savages do to her?""They tended to her every need" said the Parka-man without elaboration."Really?" said X"Several times, I gather." the Eskimo replied, this time with far too much elaboration. (He drew diagrams in the snow.)"This message, what is it?" demanded Tim."All right then, I won't keep you -
". . . ." Said the Parka-man, and vanished."He just said 'H' in Morse code." said Arthur."
Whatever could that mean?"What?" said Tim"What did he say?" said X, confused.Tim pulled a tatty codebook out of his natty suit.
"It means" he pronounced, thumbing through the dog-eared pages "Proceed East(ish) at once to Siberia where [ enter name here ] is about to be attacked by a mysterious creature in the next posting, and there await further instructions.""Cool!" said Arthur much impressed.
"Let's go!" said X and started slogging towards the rising sun.Jill sipped her tea in her tent and daydreamed about muscular men in parkas – or alternatively feathered headgear. Why not have both at once, she resolved, needing warmer thoughts as it was getting darker and colder and increasingly Siberian outside the bivouac.
A knock on the tent brought her out of her reverie. She opened up immediately - she was ready for anyone, with thoughts like that in her head, she would have taken on a yeti.
Which just goes to show what happens to wishful thinkers for looming over the entryway to the tent was a large monstrous yeti.
The beast unfortunately was female.
Studies have shown these species to be and unstable and volatile creature and this yeti was no different - vicious and bitchy. It grabbed Jill and flung her outside into the harsh and unforgiving Siberian blizzard.Meanwhile, Bob, Tim, X and Arthur were standing in the ticket-queue at the railway station in St. Petersburg. The attendant said 'next please' in polite Russian and Arthur stepped up to the counter. While he was ordering four tickets for the Trans-Siberian Express, the others waited with their luggage.
Suddenly there was a chill wind, it blew down Tim's neck and caused him to turn around. Surrounded by a flurry of snow, a man in a Parka approached and tapped him on the shoulder. Tim turned round and gasped, and then looked embarrassed. He'd been fantasising about Parka-man since Finland, those lovely muscles in that tight little ski-suit.
"Hi" he said. That warm, striking voice sent a Tim all a quiver. Parka-man unzipped his furs and produced videotape, which he thrust into Tim's hand. He zipped up and paused, head on one side.
Tim was transfixed by his eyes, Parka man just winked and as silent as a snowflake melting, he left.
Tim was left slightly aghast in the middle of St. Petersburg Station with a VHS tape in his hand.Arthur spun round finishing his converse in fluent Russian with the attendant.
"I've got us all booked on the next train to Siberia." He announced proudly.Tim, fearful, his the tape behind his back.Later, on the train as it headed out of St Petersburg Tim sneaked up to the first class carriage and watched the contents of the tape on the TV. There was no dialogue, just an unsteady hand-held tracking shot following the cryogenically preserved head of Boutros-Boutros Ghali as it was carried silently across a sparse room. The head was taken into what appeared to be a tatty kitchenette. The door of a microwave oven was ceremoniously opened and the head was placed inside. The door was closed with a clunk and light came on inside, illuminating Boutros's concerned expression. The camera zoomed in on the dial on the front of the microwave. Slowly a hand entered the picture and turned the dial to 'defrost'. Zooming out again, Boutros's head was seen to have begun revolving inside.
The film cut to static and then blackness.Tim was speechless. How was he going to tell the others? Who would they now turn to for leadership he pondered?
There was only one person in the world that could take over the position that BBG had so expertly held all these years, and that was
UPS Guy. He was a first-class field agent, a close confidant of Boutros, a teacher and aid to the group on their mission. Bob had said he was there at the start and had been following them ever since.Down at the other end of the carriage, Bob was snoring obtrusively, Arthur decided it was better he tried to sleep as well rather than stay awake and have to listen to that. He curled up into a tight ball and dragged his jacket over himself in a make-shift duvet and settled down...
Just then the train entered a tunnel and the carriage was plunged into darkness. Someone pulled the emergency stop chain and the train lurched as it ground to a halt. Arthur was thrown off his feet. Panic quickly set in. Arthur thought he heard shouting - a gunshot further up the train whomever it was they were working there way along towards him. Maybe the Russian Mafia was hi-jacking the locomotive. Whoever, they'd be knocking on the door of his carriage in any minute. He had to hide; He had to do something. He had to think!...Meanwhile, Jill was running away from a large and bitchy yeti. She knew she was lost the moment she had been thrown from the bivouac, the snow had closed in and now it was just white on all sides. The hairy great beast was somewhere behind her, she could still here its roars as she fled through the snow.
She turned to look but then Jill lost her footing and tumbled down an embankment.
She lay tired and exhausted in the snow at the bottom of the hill. She forced herself to stand up again. She winced at the pain in her ankle but the cold was quickly making it numb. Thoughts of Parka-man were still keeping her warm. Her suit was keeping her alive. But neither would hold out forever.
Jill turned around and stared down at nothing. She was on a lip of a cavernous precipice, if she had slid any further in her fall...Well, she might well still be falling. The thing didn't look like it had a bottom.It was then that the yeti crested the ridge.Jill flung herself into the floor. She waited. Then risked a peek out of her hood. The creature was still there and it appeared to be sniffing at the air.
"It can smell me." Jill thought. "But it hasn't seen me yet. That gives me an advantage. How do you get out of a situation like this? This certainly wasn't covered in basic training?"
"Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place! Although, more correctly, a viscous great animal and a bloody big hole in the ground."
Slowly, Jill came up with a plan...Jill's hand closed in the small packet of assorted condiments that had come with the bacon roll that bob had declined while being interrogated(a long time ago and don't ask why. All right it's Kleptomania.)Taking careful aim she opened the packet of pepper and threw it into the Yeti's face with relish (well she wasn't going to eat the relish anyway)
The Yeti bitch let out an amazing roar of pain and confusion and just as Jill had planned the noise dislodged a wall of snow from the cliff above. Clambering onto her leatherette handbag she surfed right, the crest of the snow wave away from the cliffs edge while the yeti floundered neck deep in the soft drifts.As she surveyed the scene Jill felt a tap on her shoulder, she spun around to be confronted by the face of possibly the last person she expected to see in this barren place - it was the witch doctor from the Island of the Atheists!
Meanwhile and Elsewhere....Boutrous groaned. He was feeling dizzy, all this atomic radiation was turning his brain into stew.
Was it an atomic powered action that microwaves had? whatever they were these were not good vibrations."How could it go so wrong?" he queried himself. Just the other night he had been thinking "The future's so bright I gotta wear shades". Sunglasses! The inspiration hit him!
Jill had once told him that when he put his shades on he was a dead ringer for someone "...somebody...that girl...negotiable affections...err. LOVE! That was it - Courtney Love!"Doning his shades Boutros cried out feebly "Help! Get me out."Clearly taken aback by the startling resemblance of Boutros Boutros Ghali to Courtney love The guard on duty hurriedly opened the microwave door. He called over his supervisor.
"There has been some sort of mistake. This isn't Boutros Boutros Ghali. This is the cryogenically frozen head of Courtney Love!"
"What's love got to do with it" his boss replied grumpily as he came over to be met by a vision of the woman in a jar
"Dear god" he exclaimed "I never meant to turn you on"Just then the radio activated. "Kenneth Brannagh and Robert De Niro are at the gates. They say they are here to collect ...um...Courtney Love. Big Cheese's orders."Courtney Love was quickly handed over by the security guards anxious to get her out of the way before any of their superiors found out.
As the chauffeur was delivering the goods he gave Boutros a wink. It was of course Guy the UPS man.
Soon they were driving away. "Just like old times" said Guy. Boutros sighed reminiscently "Back in the USSR".
UPS guy turned to Brannagh who was riding shotgun. "We need to contact the sub - what's the frequency Kenneth?"Guy took the mike " Headquarters? This is UPS - we're heading home from Russia with Love"Boutros finally noticed the long box that was lain across the back seat of the car. - "What's that?" He asked. "In the box?"
Guy opened it up. Boutros, who only existed from the neck up, broke into a huge grin a and a small tear frosted down his cheek."It's a new body for you sir, a donor has at last come forward." Said Guy happily."Is there a surgeon skilled enough...?" an overcome Boutros broke down.Disturb by this reaction in his mentor, Guy privately feared how Boutros would react when he would find out the body was female!Meanwhile Jill was getting over her surprise and removing the tap from her shoulder.
"Aggrzthpthz isn't it" she said "what brings you here?""Dear me" the witch doctor replied "Since I became civilised and qualified as a neurosurgeon I call myself Heddingly Edgbaston. I have a small private practice that takes up most of my time. Now lets take a look at the ankle"Under Heddingly's professional (and non-sexual) care Jill's ankle was soon bound and feeling much better. (Heddingly also provide Jill with some less orthodox care(which was definitely sexual) - suffice it to say Jill was soon feeling thoroughly warmed up and much more relaxed.)"I was travelling home from a conference in Sweden" Heddingly explained as they relaxed together in the compacted snow "when I spotted your Lear jet and thought you might be in trouble."He reached into his pocket "By the way here is your radio communicator and now that I have cable I don't use it much any more"He then looked over Jill's shoulder in alarm
"But now I think we should get out of here - your pursuer is heading towards us very fast and she looks a mite peeved."Jill thought back hurriedly to the horoscope that Parka-man had delivered to her.
"...A Friend is important to you. Your lucky bun-cake today is: Blueberry Muffin.""Quickly Heddingly, said Jill, do you happen have a Blueberry Muffin secluded about your Saville Row suit?""Why, indeed I do my good lady, what on earth do you want it for I was going to nosh it down for my luncheon don't-cher-know.""Just give it here."It had, Jill was quite prepared to admit, been 'a while' since she had held the Lil' Miss shot-put champion silver medal but she reassured herself, "It's a skill you never forget."The yeti picked up speed, it charged at Jill.
Jill reeled back; tensed her muscles. And THREW the Muffin with all her might.It sailed through the air and whizzed past the ear of the charging animal.
Jill froze, cursing her aim, which had never really been an issue in her junior shot put days. However, if this particular yeti had read her horoscope that morning, she would have discovered that her lucky bun-cake for the day was date and walnut slice. Indeed, a totally thorough confectionery-astrologer would have noticed signs warning that blueberry muffins in particular would be extremely unlucky for the yeti.
Had she read her horoscope, she would have known all of these things But she had not, and as her favourite flavour of muffin was indeed blueberry, she turned quickly and dove after the muffin as it bounced over the frozen tundra. As her horoscope would have predicted the muffin bounced over a ravine and the yeti, maddened by her simple desire for cake followed it into oblivion.As the Trans-Siberian express thundered out of the tunnel four hundred miles Southeast of Novosidorsk the driver was greeted by the glare of the Siberian sun. He adjusted his cap. His train barrelled on through a high-sided valley, the tracks ahead invisible under a blanket of snow. Then something fell out of the sky. The driver squinted as an object made an arc through the frozen air before him, landing in the thick snow between the tracks a hundred yards ahead. Then a large light-coloured mass followed it. The driver hauled on the brake lever, and he could feel the wheels skid beneath the enormous bulk of the train as it continued onward under immense inertia. The train came to a halt with its snowplough a few feet from where a very large hairy creature was sitting on the tracks, eating a muffin.The sudden jolt as the train shuddered to a halt caused Arthur too woke with a start still dreaming about the train being boarded by Russian terrorists. Bob too woke up agitated. "Whew" he thought "what a strange dream" but then he realised he was not in the bedroom of his Finchley Park flat but in a rather cramped sleeping car bound for Siberia. "Oh no" he groaned.Tim the natty sailor was consulting a tatty copy of Bradshaw's East European Almanac. "We're not due to stop for another 3 hours" Tim remarked as he grabbed several outfits from the luggage rack. He turned as left the carriage heading for the bathroom
"If something is out here I'd better make myself look presentable"
Prelude to catastrophe...Meanwhile back in London a very large policeman was radioing his headquarters. "Sarge, you'd better send me some backup. A group of clowns has just broken into the main UPS Depot in Muswell Hill - I think there's something funny going on ..."
Back to where we left off...A large flying object the size of a house but roughly the shape of an Austin Metro and with no obvious means of keeping it in the air, glided low over the tundra and stopped above the ravine. Jill had earlier called in another one of BBG's fleet drop-ships to pick her up from deepest Siberia, using the personal communicator returned to her by Dr. Heddingly-Edgbaston.
It hovered over the Trans-Siberian Express, blanketing the area in shadow and frightening the yeti away. The craft edged backwards slightly and dropped silently onto the railway tracks. Jill and the doctor half ran, half rolled down the side of the ravine starting several small avalanches on the way and came to rest between the drop-ship and the front of the train. The cargo doors in the belly of the aircraft opened up and the warm pink glow from within was reflected in the snow all around.Inside the train, Arthur was hammering on the toilet door.
"Tim, come on. You look fine."
The others had opened the door at the end of the carriage and were throwing the rucksacks out onto the snow. When he emerged, Tim, who to be fair was looking really good, was bundled out by Arthur and they ran after the others towards the ship.
In the hatchway, the UPS Guy was waiting and hauled each of them in turn into the cargo hold where Boutros, Jill and a very dapper Polynesian gentleman were already there. Then Guy pressed a red button on the wall and the gaping doors began to close. He threw a friendly salute to the driver of the Trans-Siberian Express in his cab and turned, ushering the others up the ladder into the cockpit."You see all sorts on this route', thought the train driver. But he had been driving the Express for decades and nothing fazed him any more. With alarming speed the aircraft was gone and he reached to release the brake handle...
Meanwhile, some place else entirely....Leicesterschniictch Kitanya-irrania-tatonya-karenska-alisov brooded behind his desk. Two men stood before him. They were clearly terrified.
The Red Leicester fixed them with an un-flinching, level stare and said:"What, do you mean....escaped?""Well...Um...boss, we had Ghali set on defrost...like you said...and, erm... well he turned into Courtney Love and then Robert De Niro and Kenneth Brannagh took her, I mean him, away and well...he...er...escaped." said the guard."I see." Said Leicester.He then shot them both with incredible accuracy. Well...as much accuracy as is required with a harpoon."Get rid of THOSE." He pointed to the bodies on the floor. A fellow henchman grimly towed the remains of his former colleagues out of the room."Upon his return to England, no doubt Boutros will want to be fully de-briefed by his secret agents, that gives us some time. What agents do we have stationed in Britain?" asked The Red Leicester.A nameless officious looking character in a good suit detached himself from the wall against which he had been hitherto leaning and glided sleekly across the floor."We have the assassin Gonzarooolio and his Clown Posse. Also there is The Criminal Federation of Stage and Screen Talent. The clownz were I believe, planning a raid on a UPS depot. They were hoping it could give us some more leverage with...Um...Boutros's ransom." He finished."That failure has been accounted for." said Leicester, neatly stepping over a small patch of blood on his Persian rug.
"The last thing they will be ready for is a direct assault. Not so soon. Boutros, Arthur, X and Jill and the rest of that meddlesome secret agency have been a thorn in my side for too long now. Gather our forces we are going to war..."Meanwhile in the secret headquarters of The Secret Agency (not as one might suspect the brand-spanking new MI6 site on the Thames, but in the basement of the small franchised Egyptian family bistro just across the road. An angry exchange was taking place...----------------------------------------------------
*WARNING: Plot-jangling confusion is about to descend on the narrative. But don't worry there is a sensible explanation and it all sorts itself out in the end.*
He eyed the lights contemptuously, they seemed to be obstinately refusing to change. 'Come on! he shouted, thumping the wheel in frustration. Amber flicked up and he had just moved his foot down to the pedal when a screeching tempest of piano keys attached to the falling body of a Baby-Grand Piano crashed through the roof of the car killing him instantly.A few steps away, the ethereal figure of Baxter's guardian angel watched his soul depart and hung his head in despair. It wasn't as if he hadn't tried...At another table in the Egyptian Bistro Bruce was busy extolling the advantages of direct advertising to his colleague." Listen right, we could reach thousands of people, accept all major credit cards - it would be a license to print money!" said Bruce animatedly."Bruce, we're meant to be secret agents, not Blue Coal salesmen" AgentX.com shook his head despairingly. "We have no need to advertise instantly"Further debate about the proper nature of commerce was however suddenly interrupted as across the road a Baby-Grand Piano fell out of an upstairs window of the UPS offices and crushed a passing car, that had been waiting at the lights.A very surprised Bob suddenly materialised on the pavement next to a twisted pile of wood covered the remains of a Chevy Geo. He'd barely had time to register this fact when passer-by sidled up to Bob and said:
"Do you know what he said before he died? I just heard it as I was bending down to tie my shoe laces, when that piano fell out of that window." they said pointing."No" said Bob, "But I expect you're going to tell me".
"The dying pilchard bleeds under a turquoise moon."
- who it was that teleported me to the desert like that?He shifted in his sitting position uneasily on the sandy rock."Damned Egyptian Prunes", he thought to himself...Meanwhile, in a basement near Reading, a shifty looking bloke picked up a phone, dialled a number waited a bit and then spoke the word "Nazistormtrooper" into the hand piece.Back at Muswell Hill...With an audible "pop!" Bob and the desert rock reappeared on the crossing island of the busy street.
"What in the WORLD is this desert shaped rock doing outside a UPS office?" he shouted.As Bob sat musing both the contents of the message and the sudden existence of a desert rock in a city, he heard a very strange sound. A quiet, buzzing noise, that droned on in the background. It would go, and come. Go, and come. Almost like clockwork.He looked around, and Agent Bruce gave him thumbs up from inside the Egyptian bistro. Agent X.com seemed to be arguing violently with him, though the former was ignoring him.Bob looked in the other direction, hoping that perhaps Guy, the UPS man would walk out of the office and be able to tell him what the hell was going on.He looked up the street, and suddenly, it was clear to him! He knew where the sound was coming from!
It was the huge policeman who had chased them down the first alley-way sitting on the corner, snoring!Bob wondered in amazement at how that man was able to sleep through all of the sirens of the ambulances and fire trucks that came to remove the piano from Baxter's head.When just then the Fake Gestapo agent appeared from round the opposite corner leading a charge of The Criminal Federation of Stage and Screen Talent. As this riotous procession careered down the street, the policeman made signs of motion.
The Gestapo officer at the front of the group threw the bottle of peroxide Jill had left behind earlier. Bob instinctively ducked and the bottle smashed on the shoulder of a bystander who was wearing a back to front shirt.
"Ello, Ello, Ello" said our the British Bobby springing up behind the Gestapo officer. "Oi'm h'afraid I've got you bang to rights my little European friend. I'm arresting you for a bleach of the priest.""You can't do that." said Bob, "He's really ~!*There was a bright flash....and everybody vanished.Tim hastily pressed a large red button marked "Multithread Postings Drive - only use in extreme emergency."
The craft jerked slightly "Whoops!" he said "I'm not used to a dimension drive with a manual shift". The Drop-ship shimmered back into a more solid form and hovered over the UPS headquarters."Reality should return to normal about now". He looked around the cockpit but Bob, Guy, Jill and Dr Edgbaston and the grand piano from the cocktail lounge had all vanished."Bother! They must have been shifted out of the ship." said Tim.Tim hastily disguised the ship as a Starbucks booth and scurried out to find where everyone had got to.Meanwhile in the Astoria Hotel a voice came over the tannoy system "Phone call for Professor Nazi-storm-trooper. Prof. Nazi-storm-trooper please contact reception ..."A short, podgy, balding man with a grey beard waddled over to the white courtesy phone."'Allo? 'Allo? Zis is Professor Nazistormtrooper. Who iz diz?"A cold voice, muffled as though the speaker was talking through a face flannel, said, "Professor....""Yeees? Vhat do you want?" The professor tapped his foot impatiently."I know the answer.""De answer?" Professor Nazistormtrooper became agitated. "DE answer?""Yes.""Vhat iz it?""You must tell me something first." the voice admonished in a condescending tone."Oh, fery vell. De dying pilshard bleedz under zee turquoiz moon. Now tell mi!!"The voice dropped down an octave or two, adopted a husking breathless tone.
"You want to know... what happened to the story... and why it got so messed up..."
"YES!" - the professor was practically jumping. "Yes! Vhy? Vhat REALLY happent?""...And what happened to Bob, and Jill, and Agent X, and Tim?" The voice continued to bait the old man."Them too!"The voice said:"Well, do you remember when the agents were in the drop-ship on their way back form Siberia?"
The Professor grunted in the affirmative. He had thought that scene in Siberia with the train had worked out very neatly.
"So Boutros and UPS Guy had heard about a planned attack on the BBG listening post housed in the UPS depot at Muswell Hill in North London. So in order to get back in time to foil the dastardly plan of Gonzaroolio and the clownz, they activated the experimental multithread postings drive. This was a calculated risk, but it would have worked out well. However, there was a double agent on board -someone working for the Big Cheese. This double agent had tampered with the 'narrative-continuity-generator' so that when the drive was activated it created a huge, unstable simulpost bubble that expanded consuming all the common sense for the next few posts.
Someone tried to cover it up by going to a commercial break earlier but was merely absorbed into the vortex of the expanding bubble and eventually it grew completely out of control and narrative-continuity collapsed completely.
The Drop-ship then arrived at the UPS depot and the drive was shut down, so we should now be able to return to the story.""I see" said the professor, "So what is a happening now, exactly?""The clownz are waiting in an Egyptian bistro in Muswell Hill, over the road from the UPS depot. It turns out that this bistro is actually run by Boutros's wife Leia Maria Boutros-Ghali - the couple are of course Egyptian so the agents can creep in through the back way and capture the clownz before they strike."
"Where is Boutros and what happened about UPS guy getting that body for him? We all assumed that is Dr. Edgbaston, the neurosurgeon was going to reattach it for him?""Jill Bob, Arthur, X Heddingly and Boutros are all sat in the reception area of the hotel, behind you."
The professor turned and there they were calmly sipping iced teas in the guests lounge."I see" said the professor, "and this double agent, who is it?""Oh yes. Can you remember where Tim came from?""Wasn't he there all along?""No, he wasn't - he tagged along after the incident where Bob was taken away by the enemy on that submarine.""I don't understand.""Tim started out as an enemy agent" insisted the voice "He probably still is one!""No, not Tim, he seemed so nice. He certainly dresses well.""You see, all that time he spends in the bathroom getting ready, he is really communicating with the his evil bosses!""No! I don't believe it! Really?" the professor was shocked. "So how do I fit in to all this?" he asked."You are just a narrative tool to help explain to everyone what is going on." said the voice, who then hung up."Oh!" said the professor, disappointed, as he popped out of existence.In the lobby of the Astoria Hotel, the telephone receiver dropped and began swaying loosely by its cord.----------------------------------------------------
* All done! See, I told you it sorted itself out in the end. *----------------------------------------------------Bob marched over to the main desk in and spoke politely but firmly to the receptionist."Listen, my good man - I need a neurosurgeon pronto, three single rooms and your honeymoon suite for an indefinite number of nights."Something felt different Bob thought. He'd started having visions earlier, wild crazy things the true origin of which was a mystery to him but he put tit down to having contracted frostbite of the brain and not enough cups of tea. This was different - he felt as if the plot was beginning to come to a head around him, and all unnecessary secondary plots were being wound up. He sensed clarity in the air. This was either portentous or an absolutely load of apocryphal codswallop and he couldn't decide which....On his private underground monorail, The Red Leicester sped on towards London.
He thought as he sat there."It had been very fortunate, he was ready to concede, that on-board the nuclear submarine that was to bring Bob to him there had been stationed in the mess-hall one of his very best double agents. Disaster had become opportunity and Tim had stayed and ingratiated himself with the group, which too was fortunate.
The Red Leicester flicked a grin of and on at this, oh yes! that was indeed a useful twist; a line directly into the hearts and minds of the secret agents. He had instructed Tim personally to sabotage the 'narrative-continuity-generator' on board the Dropship. That had been a useful diversion. Until then he could not leave his hideout. He had no doubt that having abducted Boutros, that there was a surveillance operation around his headquarters in Siberia. The Simulpost bubble as it had spread across the globe had in a wave of something that was probably quantum, disrupted the normal fabric of Story-Time and bizarre consequences flowed forth. He could still picture the look of mute terror and incomprehension on the man's face when a tyrannosaurus Rex with "Flopsy" on the nametag had popped into existence beside him.Again with the smile.But now it faded. Where was Tim? All lines off communication had been cut-off during the bubble's expansion - that much had been expected - but now, Tim really ought to have at least re-ported back to him. He had wanted to tell him he would be coming to London himself to see this mater brought to a close. But still nothing on the communicator, only static.
As he sped along underneath France, The Red Leicester thought about where he might find Tim and thought nasty things about what he would do to any of the Secret Agency if he ever got his hands on them....There was a steady dripping noise. Tim realised at last that he was hearing something and so by definition he was conscious. What was happening? Where was he? Most importantly: what was he wearing? Tim opened his eyes. It was bad. Real bad. His suit was ruined.
How had he got here? That was right - he had abandon his search for the Agents when his receiver had received some garbled interference about the Red Leicester coming across to see him. Clearly the lines weren't so badly damaged after the blackout, away from the epicentre but still he hadn't been able to raise The Boss. He'd entered one of the secret monorail tunnels but had slipped and knocked himself out on the stony floorTim was prone in a puddle of foul and oily water in a tunnel? Sewer? A faint glimmer of foetid light revealed a curved ceiling, covered in slime, just a few feet from his face.
The light was coming from a gap in the tunnel roof just a few feet away. Slowly Tim turned over and began to crawl through the filth towards the light....A wall slid silently open and a small monorail car sidled to a halt in front of him.
The monorail's door lifted open and
Leicesterschniictch Kitanya-irrania-tatonya-karenska-alisov unfurled from within. He was a large man, wearing a good suit and sporting a trim black moustache. He bore above his left brow a small angry scar that stretched around to his temple."Tim." he said simply."Y-y-yes...boss?" stuttered Tim."I am here to deal with this matter personally. You have served me well as my agent on the inside of The Agency. Continue to do so and you shall be well rewarded. Come with me now. You can tell all that you've learned. I am most eager to hear of you progress in preventing Boutros regaining a new body."
He gestured and Tim nervously approached the side door and slid inside."Well...y'know...it's funny you should mention that...."Tim was cut off as the doors closed firmly, the monorails wheels were lifted up into its underbelly. On the side small panels slid aside and a complex gantry of, what looked like skis, pressed themselves against the side of the sewer.The engine re-ignited and the car glided off down the passage towards the light.Meanwhile in the Honeymoon suite of the Royal London Hotel, Jill, Agent X, and Agent Bruce(XXXX - he wouldn't give a castlemaine Four-ex for anything else) were sitting around the breakfast table, drinking champagne and smoking Cuban cigars. Boutros's head was sitting on a small yet elegant doily in the middle."Jolly good rooms Bob got for us." remarked Heddingly in what he thought was a very non-sexual way.Boutros's head sat on the table, trying to manipulate a straw in order to take a sip from the glass that lay in front of him."Say, where is the chap" asked Bruce, looking around. "I haven't seen him for a good six or seven chapters, at least.""I think he's with the neurosurgeon" Agent X said. "At least, that's what he said. I'm not so sure she was a neurosurgeon, though. I thought neurosurgeons wore a bit more than what she was wearing. She didn't even have a white lab coat, or a stethoscope.""You know what I think?" asked Jill..."I think we are in the Astoria, not the Royal London"Realisation gradually dawned - someone had swapped the hotels suites while they weren't looking."Quick!" yelled Jill, "Bob is probably in mortal danger!" As one they rushed out of the hotel room, realised the doors were too narrow so reconsidered and rushed out in single file got half-way up the stairs before keeling over unconscious from the drugged champagne.In the Honeymoon suite Tim had dropped his leggy neurosurgeon disguise and was looking pityingly (but in a slightly sexual way) at a bound and gagged Bob. "I would say it had been fun - but frankly I found it was tedious and lacking in style!". Tim pondered as he adjusted his silver grey wig "but you do have a really cute body and it would be a shame to spoil it with a bullet hole - so I'll let you live."Tim glanced at is watch. By now everyone would be rushing up the stairs to rescue Bob - this really was all too easy. He climbed out onto the fire escape and down to the floor below, along the corridor and tapped on the door to one of the larger suites - there was no answer.
Tim slipped out a pass key opened the door and as he expected the room was deserted except for Boutros Boutros's head fast asleep in its glass jar. "The drugged wine will not last long" Tim thought - so speed was of the essence. He picked up the jar and with a cursory backward glance he closed the door and headed swiftly to the lobby.The lobby was full of grey-headed gentlemen carrying glass jars with heads in them. Overhead a lurid orange banner proclaimed "Welcome to the 10th Annual Steve Martin Convention"
Tim was about to blend into the crowd and make good his escape. Unfortunately, he stopped to grab a bagel from the food table and the few crucial seconds he wasted spreading cream cheese proceeded to complicate his life enormously. If only he had just gone out the back...
Instead, he was still in the centre of the lobby, noshing his bagel, when all the doors burst open. The lobby filled with policemen, riot squads, and some very confused animal rights people. (The animal rights folks had thought they were on their way to picket the circus.)Tim gasped in horror, dropped the bagel, and tried to run. He almost made it out the door when a large hairy hand grabbed his arm, and a raspy voice said:"I, Heddingly Edgbaston, am placing you under citizen's arrest!"
He executed a quick uppercut to Tim's chin and threw him to the ground. Boutros's capsule somersaulted through the air, which Heddingly caught masterfully under one arm.It is important perhaps to note that in his former life as a witch doctor, Heddingly had experimented with many fermented herbs and potions of distilled watermelon to perfect his cures.
Most importantly of all, he had survived.Consequently, his immune system was to put it bluntly,
'Steel Plated with nuts on'.He was the first to awake from the drugged wine and had just gone downstairs to get the desk to call the police when Tim came running through a door and barrelled straight into him. The wine had had other effects as well; his voice sounded a bit hoarse but soon regained its newly discovered rich timbre."There you go Officers, there's the cad. Take him away."The riot-squad officers dragged Tim off semi-conscious.
The animal-rights lobby had taken to staring angrily at anyone attempting to try the shrimp Hor's d'oeuvres. Boutros stirred in his globe."Oh, Heddingly, my word! What a headache! I must have drunk too much of that wine." said Boutros."Oh no, we just foiled another kidnap plan by the same group who had you abducted to Siberia." said The Doctor."Really?""Yes, the police have taken Tim into custody.""Tim? But he seemed so nice and you have to admit, he was quite a natty dresser." said Boutros with a trace of disappointment. "So when am I going to get my new body?" he started again excitedly."I have everything prepared. We'll go back upstairs and wake the others and then the operation can begin." said Heddingly as he carried Boutros to the lift...Later that afternoon , Bob, Jill, Arthur, X and XXXX paced back and forth nervously."How long have they been in there?" asked Bob."Almost four hours now." said Jill.There came from behind the closed bedroom door the shrill-wail of a buzz-saw.
"I can't take this for much longer." said X.There was knock at the door. Bruce put down his beer can and strode across to the door. "Who is it?" he said through the door."It's me, Guy." Bruce recognised the face through the spy-hole, he opened the door.UPS Guy stepped in and took off his coat
"Whee's Boutros, is he out of surgery yet?" he asked."No we are still waiting." said Jill.At that, the doors across the room were flung aside and Heddingly marched briskly from inside then removed his gloves and facemask.
"The operation has been a 100% success!" he beamed."Is Boutros alright? Has he got used to the new body yet?" asked Guy."We had a little trouble wiring up the nerves down his spinal cord. At one point every time he blinked he kicked his left leg into the air but we got that one sorted in the end. He's in there right now resting, he's still a little groggy from the anaesthetic but he should pick up soon, you can go and see for yourself if you like."Everyone in the room peered around the doorway Bob and Jill pushed forward and into the bedroom.Boutros lay on the bed. He looked...different...Bob was the first to recover and recognise the glamorous figure that lay half-conscious on the bed blinking gently and smelling faintly of formaldehyde.
"Its Imelda Romuáldez Marcos the former beauty queen and wife of the Argentinean Dictator."2 He said.
minister of human settlements and ecology (1979-86).""More importantly" added UPS Guy, "her body was preserved after her untimely death. Actually it's a little known fact that she didn't die of cancer but was in fact transplanted into a new body by the CIA in return for certain unspecified favours.
We managed to pull a few strings and secure the old one, replacing it with a lifelike polymer dummy.""I hate to be a party pooper," said Jill "but isn't that going to make Boutros just a tad conspicuous ... and whatever is Leia Maria Boutros-Ghali going to say?""Perhaps we can get him a face lift, while we're at it?" offered Agent X."Come let's leave Boutros to get some rest." said Heddingly.
"Alright." said X, and turned to leave.
Bob went to get a glass of water from the sink-unit.
X was already half way out the door.
Guy, Arthur and XXXX were on the far side of the room, near Heddingly who stood over Boutros's brow.This meant that there was absolutely nobody near the window when the wrecking ball exploded through the wall.Choking dust, bricks and lethal shards of glass were sent flying into the room. Bob threw himself to the ground. Jill fell backwards through the open doorway. Arthur XXXX, X, and Guy dived for safety and covered their heads with their arms from the glass. Heddingly stood rigidly still and watched as the chain and ball swung between him and the bed just inches above Boutros's nose and then shifted and went flew back through the exceeding large hole it had made on the way in.This all took about 8 seconds."EVERYONE! JUST STAY EXACTLY WERE YOU ARE...AND DON'T...BLOODY MOVE!" shouted Tim as he scaled the rigging from the crane's cab to the end of the arm and jumped onto the balcony's shattered lip."I assure my dear fellow, I had not intention of going anywhere...possibly ever again," said Heddingly with a slight twitch."SHUT UP! Hands in the air...all of you!" he said as he waved a large and powerful-looking automatic rifle at the group."But what about the Riot-Squad officers, I saw you taken away?" said Heddingly."They're dead.""Oh." said Heddingly. "So what do you plan to do with us Mr Tim?""Well seeing as you were busy whoring with this tramp!" Tim gestured to the prostrate female form of the unconscious Boutros, "and that Head-thing is nowhere around. I guess I'll just have to take you all as hostages back to the Red Leicester. Pity. I had wanted to execute him here in front of you all."Arthur and X exchanged brief but meaningful glances
*look, he doesn't know it's him!*
*What do we do now?*
*Just go along with it, we've got out of worse scrapes than this before. Remember the Custom's storage locker at the airport? The bare-knuckles fight to the Death in New York? The Goat-trading convention in Kreplakistahn?*
*I still have the scars.*
*Yes, well that's my point. If we just go with Tim, no one need get shot. We will be one step closer to Leicesterscnicttch Kitanya-irrania-tatonya-karenska-alisov, and when Boutros comes to, he's bound to realise what has happened and come and rescue us.*
*Yes, now remember LOOK terrified.*
"The Red Leicester will be pleased with my catch." gloated Tim. "I'm taking you all to him...RIGHT NOW!" He pointed the gun and the group all filed out of the main door to the room.On the floor above, Mr Edgar Burrows, 56 clung with grim determination to the ledge of his window 14 storeys up. And swore quietly and earnestly never to call his wife Edna, a 'daft stupid cow' ever, ever again.Meanwhile. Inside the mechanical heart of Big Ben, the clock tower above the Houses of Parliament in London, The Red Leicester was pacing impatiently...
MEANWHILE....The body of Imelda Marcos paced the fourth floor corridor of the Royal London Hotel. Atop its shoulders was the head of former UN Secretary General, Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali. It had taken him a while to learn to move his legs in the proper order again but considering that it had been several years since he had lost his own body, he got the hang of moving about as an elderly South American woman remarkably quickly. The body seemed to function much better in high-heeled shoes, of which several thousand had come free.
He had woken up to utter chaos.
He returned to the room where rain was blowing through the hole where one wall was missing. He was alone there. His agency had been taken, and everything was up to him now. He stretched his new body. It was not ideal for anti-terrorism, as bodies go, but surely better than nothing. He would, however, need help. He picked up the phone and made a call. After choosing a fine pair of scarlet stilettos, Boutros -Boutros Imelda Marcos Ghali stalked out of the hotel.Later, by the lake in St. James's Park, a small old woman with an unusually large and ugly head, and a man with a curly green wig, heavy face make-up and long flappy shoes, were seen feeding the ducks.
"Listen, Gonzaroolio" said Boutros "I have a proposition.""I'm listening.""First tell me, who has taken over the Criminal Federation of Stage and Screen Talent since the demise of Grant?""That would be me," said Gonzaroolio with more than a little pride."I thought so. Was it worth killing him then?""Oh yes." sniggered the clown."Well, following that little turf war, you are now in sole control of the Red Leicester's agents in the UK, right, -the whole operation?"The clown glanced over and nodded.
"So, now it's your operation alone, - what do you feel about freeing yourself from the boss?""Sorry?""Severing ties with the mother country."Gonzaroolio appeared to consider this and threw bread at ducks, finally he said "That might be profitable."Meanwhile, Tim the natty dresser was herding Boutros's agents up the winding staircase of the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster.At the top of the winding staircase, Tim stopped short, causing a chain reaction in which Jill bumped into him, Bob bumped into Jill, Agent X bumped into Bob, who was bumped into by Arthur and then Bruce (AKA Agent XXXX) bumped into Arthur. In short, they all walked into each other, and pushed Tim off balance. He landed heavily on his rear, ripping the pocket on the seat of his natty-looking pants.That would have been the ideal time for any of the agents (or Bob) to perform some dazzling escape feat, but unfortunately they were all tied up, and couldn't."Blast!" Tim swore. (He would have spat, H2G2 frowns on that sort of thing.)
"I don't know where the hell I'm supposed to go! My current writer isn't British!""Why not use your portable story-disambiguator, and fold the seams of the Story-Time continuum, to jump us from the Clock to someplace the writer knows a bit better? Say, the Mid-West?" suggested Bob."Doufus!" Agent X smacked Bob in the head with his tied-together hands. "Don't help him! If we stay here, someone might come to our rescue whilst Tim is still struggling to think of something to do!""Who? You mean Bou -!""SHUT UP!" everyone shouted at Bob, who cowered for a minute until they all looked away in annoyance."Hmmmm..." said Tim, "that might not be a bad idea..."Tim pulled from the inner pocket of his natty suit a small metal device with a large red button on it.
Inscribed on the button in small black letters were the words:
"In the name of all that is sacred don't push the
butto - arrgh!"
"In the name of all that is sacred don't push the butto - arrrgh!" He didn't finish.Tim pressed the button and there was a flash of white light that left purple patches on the back of your eyelids.There materialised in front of them a thin, glossy pamphlet which floated serenely to the ground."What is it?" said Bruce."It's a holiday brochure." said Tim with sudden inspiration."So now what?" intoned Arthur."Well I guess we just pick were we want to go. said another."There was some brief and hurried discussion and eventually a unanimous decision was agreed. Tim pressed the button. There was another flash of white light that left purple patches on the eyelids of the local London populous and a few wondering where the Houses of Parliament had disappeared to.The inhabitants of the Bahamas stood around large, impressive looking stone buildings that had appeared out of nowhere on their tropical beaches. The writers don't know the geography of the Bahamas any better than they do London, but the climate is much nicer this time of year.
Meanwhile, word had reached Boutros that the Houses of Parliament had disappeared.After his meeting with Gonzaroolio, Boutros had come back to the Secret Headquarters of The Agency.
It had taken some doing to get the guards to let him through. He reflected now on what an asset a female form might prove to be. And yet, he was troubled by all of this. When he had...lost his body he had a first felt helpless but with the help and friendship of Guy and Arthur he had grown used to his disembodied status. Now; now he had a new body. Heddingly had done a good job.
But still it wasn't HIS body....His thought turned away from this. So The houses of parliament were missing. His best agents were in the grasp of his enemy. These two events though at first glance seemed unrelated, but Boutros suspected otherwise.
He had a plan, Gonzaroolio had consented, but first he needed to find his friends. He turned in his chair to the large video wall behind him and started to scan all the channels and frequencies for news of sudden occurrences of architecture for no apparent reason what-so-ever."I'm going to END THIS!!!!" he scowled...-----------------------------------------------------If anyone apart from your Humble Narrator had been stood with Boutros while he thought about all of these things, they might have noted that he wore an expression of wrath. All of those years of calm, patience and temperance had been striped away and there now sat a (man/women - take your pick) about to wage war. But if they thought Boutros looked a little intense well that was just fluffy bunnies to the fury that the Red Leicester was about to unleash...----------------------------------------------------
On some non-descript island, somewhere in the Bahamas..."TIM!!!" he barked.The assembled captive agents tried looking meek and terribly unimportant on the Bahaman sand as Leicesterschniitcht Kitanya-irrania-tatonya-karenska-alisov flung open the entrance to the Palace of Westminster and came at a determined stride over the dunes.
In his full-length trench coat and fur-parka the Red Leicester looked wholly out of place. A kind of anti-Lawrence of Arabia. He glowered at Tim. The trees that lined the edge of the beach scurried to get out of the way of that look. A couple of them ignited."TIM!!!""Sir?" said Tim, suddenly for the first time very afraid of his boss."WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED!!?""I just thought we could use some sun, that's all. I folded the story-time continuum with this device to bring us here.Leicester snatched the device from Tim's hand and sent it flying into the surf."DON'T YOU REALISE WHAT YOU HAVE JUST DONE?" screamed the Red Leicester. "I HAD A PLAN, THERE WAS TO BE SHOWDOWN, I WAS GOING TO KILL BOUTROS. THERE WAS TO BE BOMBS AND CARNAGE AND THE RENDING OF HAVOC! - and YOU ruined it."He punched Tim to the ground and would have killed him then, but miraculously Tim said the one thing that could have brought him reprieve:"Um...where have all the Agents gone?"The Red Leicester looked up. Beach."FIND THEM!!!!"Tim scurried off into the trees and vines and the dense undergrowth. One of the locals tried to get closer to the strange men on the beach but the Red Leicester just threw coconuts at him until he went away...Heddingly meanwhile was in his element and was rapidly stripping off his down to his waist. Jill watched in a frankly sexual way. "That's more like it." said Heddingly, wriggling his toes in the sand "I feel much more at home now""Come ON!" said Guy "We've got to hide NOW!""Don't you worry" said Heddingly, supremely in control despite his near naked state "I am a master of tropical island life, and what we need to do is this..."Tim peered into the gloom. He pushed away some dangling vines with the butt of his silenced revolver and moved closer. A spy by nature and an assassin by training. Tim was on a hunt. He entered the dense tropical forest.*Now!* whispered Heddingly.Outside the Red Leicester heard this:
*swish!*Thwa-tak! ARRG-fu! -nnh..."The Agents all turned their gaze upward. Tim was suspended several feet above their heads in the canopy swinging from the trap that Heddingly had set.
"With his only henchman out of the way, maybe we can all jump Leicester". Suggested Bob."No. it's too risky." said Arthur.
Meanwhile at the Agency.......*Krzzk*......"In other news"...*click*...*Krzzk*......"a small duck"...*click*...*Krzzk*......"became trapped inside" *click*...*Krzzk*......"Elton Jon's baby grand piano...*click*...*Krzzk*......"Migration pattern linked to"....*click*...*Krzzk*......"Deforestation in the Amazon"....*click*...*Krzzk*......."The President began holidaying"....*click*...*Krzzk*......"During the mating season, the male constructs his nest in the" *click*...*Krzzk*......"Houses of Parliament"...*click*( ! )*click* *click*....Were sighted by sighted by fisherman in the bays off of this island in the Bahamas. The Government has been recalled from its Summer recess refused to comment on the building's disappearance.
Temporary accommodation has now been allocated in the Millennium Dome. Back to you in the studio"....*Krzzzzzzzzk*..."A-ha!" said Boutros to himself.A-HA were meanwhile piloting a dilapidated twin otter far out to sea somewhere over the South Pacific.
Too old to be a boy band and with little recent single success; a life of crime had proved too tempting and their little known piloting skills had often been of inestimable value to Gonzaroolio and the Criminal Federation of Stage and Screen Talent.Suddenly the radio crackled..."Morton - turn that crate around and head for the Bahamas - your contact will meet you there and give you further instructions"With a shrug Morton hit the left-hand otter with his paddle and "The Bent Banana" turned slowly and adopted a new course.Bob poked his head out from behind a bush and asked:
"Does anyone have any change?"Jill looked up from where she was sitting, in a circle with the other agents, brainstorming. "What?""I said, 'Does anyone...'""I heard what you said" Jill interrupted. "I wanted to know ...why?""Well, I'm a bit thirsty, and I noticed this Coke machine back here, behind one of these tree-things. It was hidden by all of these vines...""A coke machine?" Said Jill, standing up. "On this island, are you still sane?""No there really is one, saw it when Tim came into the clearing. I was rear-guarding, guarding the rear...yes that's it..." Said Bob"You were doing what back there?" asked Arthur, sweetly."I was...um he - he...er...hiding." Bob finally admitted."Show us where you saw it last" said Heddingly seizing control of the moment."Alright." said Bob glad to have someone seem to take him seriously.He turned and led the others back through the bush, brushing aside large swipes of ferns they emerged into a small clearing, more of a gap between the trees really. The plants had reclaimed this small patch and the grass was thick underfoot.
But there it was. A big red machine, emblazoned with the logo of the Coca-Cola Company. Familiar and welcome like the face of God. It was dirty to be sure and lines of condensation dripped down it's front and collected in the little tray at the bottom, birds bathed in this small font and vines climbed over it's surface but nevertheless."A coke machine?" said Arthur."Weird." agreed X"Why is it humming?" asked Jill....Back now on the beach, The Red Leicester was growing impatient. It had been over a quarter of an hour since he had last seen that effete incompetent, Tim and sent him to go and re-capture the elite of Boutros's Agency. Leicester had already shed his sullen winter garb and constructed a shade to shield him from the worst of the noonday's sun. "Very well", he thought, "if you want a job done right you just have to do it yourself." as he marched towards the leading edge of trees.Further up ahead the Agency all thought they heard a twig snap and "wha...'he blood... e'll....doin'...p there?' come filtering through the leaves.They're coming, said the normally unflappable Arthur with uncharacteristic alarm."Quickly, Follow that flex!" said Guy.The group each took hold of a length of the wire coming out from the back of the coke machine and plunged headlong into the heavy undergrowth. They could not have gone more than a few metres when Heddingly, who was at the front calmly walked nose-first into a large, grey and above all, solid wall."What's going on Heddingly? Hissed Arthur. "He'll be here any moment now.""It's a wall." said Heddingly simply."A what? Wall. Here?" questioned a stunned Jill"Yes and some carpet tiles." continued Heddingly."Are you serious?" said Arthur."Oh, absolutely.""Look", said Jill, "there's a door handle over there, sticking out from that bunch of ferns and vines".She leant across and pulled hard at the heavy foliage it quickly became dislodged and fell at her feet. What the group now saw was a large red door set into the dangling roots and limbs of the forest."Is it open?" asked Bob.Jill tried the handle and it swung inwards revealing a long set of dark and treacherous looking steps descending into the gloom. The flex led into a plug socket just inside. And now that the group looked around...yes, there were shapes to be glimpsed in the half-light.
A section of broken wall could be seen protruding through the rapidly advancing forest and Heddingly had been right. Dotted here and there about were some cheap brown carpet tiles and wasn't that a strip light hanging from the canopy...?Through yet more vines, Heddingly thought he saw a screw, he gently pushed aside he leaves and revealed a sign suspended on the wall next to the waste-paper basket. It read:
U.S Armed Forces, Weapons Depot # 6"Oh!" said Bob...Morton Harket eased the controls forward and plunged the floatplane into the shallow water of the island's natural bay. Surf fizzed up over the nose and Morton tugged at the two levers above his head to reduce the speed of the twin props. As its speed fell the plane sank lower in the water on its big banana-shaped floats and Morton was able to turn the plane in towards land. He raised his hand and pushed the accelerator levers sending the plane bounding over the gently undulating water.
Minutes later the plane was wallowing next to a short wooden jetty and Paal Waaktaar-Savoy was outside tying off the mooring rope. Then Mague Furholmen opened the small hatch under the wing and allowed the passengers out. They'd picked them up at Grand Bahama for the trip to this out-lying island and they'd been cooped up ever since. This had apparently been only the last leg of an arduous journey. Boutros, a very ugly woman in stilettos, a clown with green hair and Zammo, formally of Grange Hill each thanked Morton, shaking his hand through the cockpit window. The plane was much lighter in the water now and the beach and jetty were crowded with clowns and D-list British actors. They were distributing weaponry from several crates that had been dragged out of the little plane's cargo-hold.The Red Leicester's private army had also arrived just around the beachhead in a flotilla of hovercraft. They were generic guards, without identities. They were people, of course, with wives and girlfriends and kids, but for narrative purposes, they were expendable. They were dressed in one colour - black boiler suits in this case, and they all carried rifles. You know the type - they can fire hundreds of rounds at someone with a speaking role and not hit them, while they themselves are killed a few at a time during battle scenes or during sticky situations from which our heroes escape by the skin of their teeth.
They are badies though, so it's all right. Having made camp on one of the other beaches the Generic Guards were called into the forest by Leicester. They were drawing towards a target whose identity they had not been told.Leicester clamped a megaphone to his fat mouth, and let go a deafening burst of machinegun fire. Everyone turned to face him. He pointed the mega-phone at the forest and BOOMED "You are surrounded. surrender and your deaths will be long, protracted and considerably painful!"Bob and the others ducked as bullets shredded the canopy above their heads. They couldn't tell where the voice or the gunfire was coming from, but it was close. Then they saw the black-clad figures all around them, crouched just out beyond the leading edge of the trees
Jill pushed Heddingly urgently towards the entrance of the arms bunker. "We can't go in there!" he croaked.
"We can and we are." said Guy, "We're unarmed and trapped - Go!"
They all ducked and entered the dark passage.On the beach Boutros looked up sharply. He had just heard muffled gunfire in the distance.
"Come on!" he yelled to the crowd of clowns and actors. Shouldering a large assault rifle, he started to run up the beach.
Gonzaroolio got his motley outfit into order. Loyal to no one, he seemed to have changed sides on this one.
It wasn't really his fight, but as they were here now, they would follow Boutros. The clowns and actors marched after him, watching as Boutros stopped to remove his stilettos and then continue running over the sand towards the forest, gun in one hand and shoes in the other.Bob, Jill and the others pushed forward and down the steps. In utter darkness they felt their way along the walls. The receding window of light that marked the open door way behind them began flickering as black-clad shapes passed in front of it."They're coming - go!" insisted Arthur."I can't see where we are going - it's pitch black in here." panicked Heddingly.
"Wait...there something here.....it's not a wall...."The heavy security door swung open, the huge dead-bolts set in it's frame had thankfully not been locked in place and with a concerted effort Heddingly employed those powerful muscles of his which Jill quietly appreciated through his shirt. They all ducked inside and hid behind the door Arthur, X and Heddingly all put their weight behind trying to close it again.It wouldn't budge."Oh you've got to be kidding." whispered an exasperated Arthur.The Red Leicester stormed into the clearing, there he found a group of his Generic Guards camped outside a large red door which appeared to be just suspended in the forest
"WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? I WANT THEM FOUND AND DESTROYED!!!!" He screamed down the megaphone, which he had forgotten to put away.The assembled Guards nearly jumped out of their collective skins. "sorry." mumbled Leicester, motioning to Tim to take the instrument away."Down there are they?" he said."Yessir!" saluted one of the indistinguishable Generic Guards"we'll see about that...."The door still wouldn't shut.
"The ease of it's opening is matched but it's absolute refusal to go back again." thought X philosophically."Um guys...have you actually checked where we are." said Guy.Given the fact that the enemy was quite literally right outside the door and that that door was neither fully shut nor were they sure it could even be locked, it was fair to say that, "No." The group had not really taken stock of their surroundings: which was a pity for two reasons.
Firstly it would have made them feel a little bit better, though not for very long.
And secondly because this thing that would lead to such a speedy
reversal of fortunes really was quite bad and on the whole it would just have served them all a lot better to have concentrated on the door....Boutros feigned left. Gonzaroolio took the clownz right....The Red Leicester heard the sound of gunshots flare up from all around the forest, they were coming towards him, suddenly Vanessa Feltz and Uri Gellar burst through into the clearing.Uri took out one of the black-clad guards with a shot to the head. He lunged at the others but the guards responded and emptied a couple of clips at him.His great telepathic spoon-bending abilities deserted him along with most of his internal organs and a quite colossal amount of blood."NOOOO!!" screamed Feltz, maddened at seeing her war-brother slain in front of her, she sumo-wrestled Leicester to the ground and proceeded to punch him repeatedly in the face.Leicester fended of the blows with deft and deadly hand movements pausing only to reach out and break the neck of his assailant. Feltz slumped awkwardly against the trunk of a tree."WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" Leicester boomed as he stood up.From further outside the clearing came:
"LEICESTERSCHNITCH KITANYA-IRRANIA-TATONYA-KARENSKA-ALISOV." Echoed the war-cry around the high trees"Boutros...." seethed Leicester.Meanwhile Gonzaroolio had adapted incredibly well to guerrilla tactics in the dense greenery of the island. He felt he was born to this. "I AM Alexander The Great." He thought. "I AM Gehngis Kahn leader of the barbarian hordes." "I AM Stormin' Norman Shwarzkopf and General Wellington and William Wallace leading my troops into battle."
This was decades of repression and custard pies being excised on the field of battle."LET'S GO KILL SOMEONE...." he shouted behind him.
The assembled mass of British Stage and Screen Talent trailed in his wake."I say", said Bob " That IS a big boiler isn't it? Well if we have to hold out here for a while at least we know we will be warm..""And we have guns." said Jill energetically, eyeing the rifles hung on a rack on the far end of the room.
Well, "end" isn't exactly right. It kind of curved round in a big circle with this pipe in the middle. Where the group had entered was a wide area set into the wall."Jill" said Arthur "Go and get the guns we'll pin them down as they come through the door."
Jill did so and Arthur made sure that every one had a gun and that it was loaded.Bob meanwhile wandered around to the side of the boiler and found "A control panel...hey! Everyone look it's the on switch!" he said pushing the big red button.High above them the iris opened and some long dead circuitry winked into life....On the surface of the island a war was raging between the armies of the generic black-clad guards and the, what shall loosely be termed, 'Good Guys' comprising Boutros, Gonzaroolio, The Clownz and the Assembled Stars of British Stage and Screen talent.
On opposing hillsides the two armies now faced each other
The dead of each side littered the spaces below them. above them a storm was brewing out over the ocean , the skies were darkening and it was promising to rain. The wind had picked up and all that could be smelt was the smoke from the cooling rifles.Gonzaroolio and Tim controlled the lines.Boutros had gone to hunt-down The Red Leicester.The Iris un-peeled like a flower and dust and wind drifted down dropping on the group making them cough and wheeze. The draught dislodged some old tarpaulin draped across the boiler's upper panels. It revealed a dirty, half-hidden word daubed in red-paint down the side.
WARHEAD # 9"Oh dear." said Guy"It's a bomb..." said Arthur."A very big bomb." murmured X."This isn't just a bunker", said Guy "It's a silo."It was at this supreme moment of distraction that The Red Leicester opened the silo door and shot Arthur.Boutros stormed into the empty space in front of the silo door. There were a couple of bodies strewn around. He gripped his pistol tightly in his hand. From down the steps he thought he heard a gunshot and shouting. Fixated on finding his agents he plunged down after The Red Leicester....
Meanwhile in the secret headquarters of 'New Camelot'The Knights of King Arthur turned as a red light started flashing. Arthur Conan Doyle crossed over to read the display.
"I say, Miller, one of our chaps has just been shot."Miller sighed mournfully and started talking about death."What's that you say Doyle", said Ransome showing an interest. "Which Arthur is it"."Hmmm - isn't Arthur Brown around there somewhere - with that stars of stage and screen group" mused Ransome " with that Boutros woman".Doyle checked the display - "It looks like Secret Agent Arthur Robinson- in the US Silo, you know the top secret one in the West Indies""Jamaica" agreed Doyle"No she went of her own accord" said Askley, and got instantly pelted with anything that anyone else could reach."
Meanwhile back in the silo...The Red Leicester having charged in and shot Arthur had himself been surprised by a tumbling Boutros (whose high heels had been unable to cope with the treacherous steps)
Everyone looked in shocked horror as Boutros and The Red Leicester careered into the safety rail which gave way and they and it tumbled into the dark void beneath the rocket.In the silence that followed the ticking of the bomb sounded ominously loud ...Arthur suddenly coughed and in a gasping voice he croaked "X old friend here is something I must tell you before I die..."Agent X knelt on the ground, gently cradling Arthur's head in his lap. Arthur weakly coughed up a bit of blood."What is it?" X asked softly."I..." Arthur paused for a minute to hack up some more blood. "I...""Yes?" X asked."I...stole your peanut butter.""What?" X's voice dropped from a gentle caress to a flat surprise."In The Academy ... when we were roommates, and one day you came back to find that your peanut butter missing. It.. *cough*, HAK*! ...was... me."After five minutes of hacking, Arthur was able to hear X's touching reply. "It's okay, old friend. I forgive you." A tear dramatically rolled down his cheek.
A peaceful smile appeared on Arthur's face. "Now ... I can... die... at peace..." His eyes closed."Is he...?" Jill choked Jill.Heddingly looked at Arthur.
"No he isn't." he said stepping forward with determination.Meanwhile, down in the dank pit beneath the No. 9 Warhead launching platform, Boutros and Leicester were stirring. Leicester was up first but his head swam dizzyingly. He could see Boutros slumped in a heap over in the corner.
Leicester tried to steady himself on the wall but misjudged this horribly and went tumbling head over heels and slumped against the rim of the pit. He tried again, forcing himself up onto all fours, then his haunches and finally with a concerted effort unsteadily raising himself to his full height.Boutros was gone.He looked around quickly, regretted doing so almost immediately. Took a deep breath then tried again but a little more slowly.Nothing."Curse you! Where are you hiding now?" screamed Leicester at rather shifty looking patch of rust on the interior walls."I'm right here." said Boutros stepping out into a dusty shaft of light from above. He appeared to be holding a gun.Leicester froze."What are you going to do?""I swore I was going to finish this." said Boutros"Then shoot. I'm not afraid." Leicester said closing his eyes.Boutros did nothing.Leicester waited.He waited... he dared trying to open an eye.Boutros was still there but the gun...yes, the gun. Now he came to study the instrument of his death a little closer, it did assume a rather...shoe-like quality. In the half-light, the way he had held it threateningly by the heel had looked real enough."It's a shoe." he said out loud, surprising himself."Damn." said Boutros and ran back off into the shadows.Enlivened, Leicester stepped forward. The shadows hid all. He couldn't track Boutros by sight so he tried a different tack."I already took out one of your precious agents upstairs"*gasp*Leicester lunged...and missed.The was a syncopated scraping sound. As of someone dragging one shod foot across the floor whilst simultaneously trying to hop on the other foot to put the other shoe back on."You won't catch me like that, Leicester." said Boutros."It doesn't matter." Said Leicester. "We are alone down here you can't evade me forever. And there's still the gun. Whoever gets to the gun last dies first." He suggested.
Meanwhile, on the gantry high above...X helped Arthur up a little unsteadily."How do you feel Arthur, old chap?" asked X"I... I don't know. I must have passed out. I feel...well - fine, I guess.""It's a good job we had a doctor on hand. Heddingly patched you up a treat." said Jill wiping the dried lines of tears away from underneath her eyes."But I thought you were a neurosurgeon?" Questioned Arthur, his voice edged with concern."Look, don't question it. You're alive. so lets just leave it at that." said X, before punching Arthur squarely on the jaw."And that's for the peanut butter." He finished."HANDS IN THE AIR. ALL OF YOU. NOW!!!" Barked a voice from behind the group.In the darkness, Boutros and Leicester stalked each other."You have been an irritation to me for long enough, Ghali." boomed Leicester. Boutros hid in the darkness listening to Leicester moving around. His shoes dangled in one hand as he shuffled in stockinged feet. It really didn't look like one of them was going to climb back out of this hole. Maybe that would be for the best."Well, it has been a few years now hasn't it?" he thought to himself.
They'd been adversaries throughout the cold war but afterwards, Leicester the former KGB spymaster had used the stash of secrets he had accumulated over his lifetime to start blackmailing the most powerful figures in the world. Leicester had become a key figure in the Russian Mafia. His greed and the horror of his crimes had escalated. Boutros had dedicated his life to foiling Leicester's schemes. There was a clatter in the darkness. Leicester bent to pick up the object by his feet. His voice came back brighter and mocking.
"I've killed you once before. Practise makes perfect and maybe this time you'll stay dead!"Boutros reeled at the memory:
Boutros had met his nemesis atop the hydroelectric dam in Leamington Spa. Leicester was threatening to open the gates and flood the slumbering town below. A cataclysmic battle had followed, both men were battered and broken before finally, Leicester's plan was foiled. Boutros had saved the town single-handedly but then the Red Leicester had pulled from the hidden recesses of his coat a revolver and shot Boutros - dumping his lifeless body in to the water and escaping by hovercraft before the authorities had come. Boutros had sunk down to the icy depths of the reservoir and there would have perished had not Guy, his devoted apprentice, dived into the lake to rescue him.
Guy had carried his body back to the surface and back to their secret headquarters. His extremities frozen and his life-signs all but an irregular blip on a monitor, desperate - the Agencies medical specialists employed secretive experimental techniques to further freeze the head whilst allowing the rest of Boutros's body to die.
He had awoken weeks later as a cryogenically frozen head in a jar.How often had Boutros secretly wished he had been allowed to die that day? And now this indignity of living with the body of an old South American woman instead of his own. Of course, back then, Guy had not been ready to take over the agency, just as Boutros had not been able to let it go. but now Guy was ready, whether he thought so or not.Above, on a rickety gantry, the Generic Guards had finally pinned down Boutros's agents. They had their hands in the air. From below a deafening gunshot echoed out of the exhaust well. Jill called down, "Boutros? Boutros?", but there was no reply. "Quiet" said one of the Generic Guards, (one who had an equity card obviously.) He shoved the muzzle of his weapon at her in a non-sexual way. She pretended to faint.
The others fussed and made a made a commotion confusing the guards. Guy sprang sideways and launched himself over the handrail. He plunged down into the gloom, illuminated by sparks as bullets bounced off the metalwork around him.Guy landed awkwardly on the floor of the silo pit next to a fallen Boutros. He reached over and touched him on the shoulder. Boutros slowly opened his eyes and stared at him, his eyes were watery and vacant. *cough* "Guy......not again...." he let out a deep breath and closed his eyes and lay still. Beneath him a slowly spreading stain was mixing with the rust.Leicester stepped out of the shadows on the other side of the room; he held the gun before him with a deadly determination.
"And thus the mantle of leadership is conferred..." he said and pulled the trigger.*click*In the second it took for Leicester to realise the gun hadn't fired, Guy was already off his feet and over Boutros, he knocked the gun from Leicester's hand and sent it skittering off into the dark again. The pair collided against the wall.
Leicester was used to fighting. You didn't get to were he was without leaning to be able to throw a few punches, viscously beat your opponent into a bloodied pulp, pistol-whip them to the floor, knee-cap them and then send in The Boys finish them off with crow bars and then burn down their houses. Typically this was a quiet day at the office.
But as hard as he fought back he couldn't block the ferocity of Guy's attacks. Spurred on by pain and a burning lust for vengeance Guy beat the Red Leicester again and again with punches to the head and body, scratching huge gashes above his brows and driving him ever backwards.
A huge swing caught Leicester on the chin and sent blood and some teeth flying, he responded by grabbing Guy throwing him into the wall of the pit and planting one of his huge boots squarely into his ribs.Guy grunted and launched himself off the wall at Leicester, knocking him over.Guy clasped his hands around Leicester neck and squeezed.Leicester flailed wildly as his breath was crushed from his lungs; his gloved hand touched the barrel of the gun, lying just inches away from his outstretched hand. He could feel his strength ebbing away in his muscles. He made a desperate lung, reaching out with his fingertips.
This time his hand closed around the length of the gun he pulled it towards him and with his vision swimming pushed the barrel into Guy's stomach and fired.
Through a sheet of blinding white pain Guy sagged but continued to press on the gangster's throat until at last the dark numb fog closed in and he drifted off into the black....Arthur, X, Jill, Bob and Heddingly had their hands in the air. The guards were arguing about what to do. They really ought to have gone down to see if their boss was all right, but several of them were unwilling to commit to rescuing him bearing in mind that the bunker would be blowing up fairly soon.
X whispered to Arthur, "We really don't have time for this" he said, gesturing up at the warhead which was still ticking behind them.
A digital display had winked on a few minutes earlier on the side of the bomb and was counting down, presumably to detonation. It read a little under 8 minutes in ominous orange digits.Arthur stuffed his fist into his lapel pocket and tugged the cuff-button from the jacket. He pulled the pin out and tossed it onto the floor amongst the guards feet. Believing him to have a grenade in his suit hey looked down and stopped arguing and then each of them dove for the door. Once they were outside it the Agents finally managed to push the heavy security door closed again. Arthur picked up his button and dropped it into a pocket, making a mental note to get Mrs. Robinson to sew it back on for him later."Does that sort of thing always work?" asked Heddingly incredulous."You'd be surprised." said X knowingly. Arthur turned and said "Bob, you get some weapons together -X you see what you can do with the bomb."
He motioned to the others to follow him down the ladder into the exhaust well below the warhead.In the gloom down there they could hear the guards above, who having realised they'd been duped were doing something to the door. Then came the roar of an Oxy-acetylene torch. Jill produced a tiny Mag-light. In its sparse, bright light they found the three bodies, a large pool of blood surrounding them. Heddingly dove in, checking for signs of life. Boutros's eyes reacted to the torchlight.
"He's alive" said Heddingly, checking the strength of the pulse in the line of stitching in Boutros's neck that he had sewn himself only weeks before. "Arthur's here, old thing." said Heddingly gently, Arthur was stooped over Boutros's face. Heddingly was busily examining the bullet-holes in Imelda Marcos's chest. "Looks like this body's had it." he said , "Back to being a head for old Boutros then, I guess."Then came rasping words from Boutros's own lips, "No....Forget me, take....Guy. I've had enough." who then let out a long sigh and lay still. Heddingly and Arthur looked at one another, "He's gone." said Heddingly, his hand still monitoring the pulse in Boutros's neck. Arthur took a deep breath and clenched his teeth."I think Guy is alive," came Jill's voice suddenly out of the darkness.
The other two shuffled over. Heddingly looked him over. Guy had a huge hole in his chest and his clothes were all torn and bloody.
"Barely," counselled Heddingly, "We've got to get him out now."
Jill checked Leicester's body, and though he appeared to be dead she pulled the gun from his hand and shoved it into her own waistband.
Heddingly was already advancing back up the ladder with Guy's inert, bloody body over one shoulder. Arthur followed with the torch in his teeth.At the top, X was atop a stepladder with his head in a hatch in the side of the warhead, "It's booby-trapped. If I touch anything in here it could go up." he said as the others emerged from below. The counter read 3 minutes 17 seconds.Arthur stopped. 3 Minutes. He had time...He descended down the ladder quickly went over to Boutros inert body.
Choking back some hidden emotion from the others, alone in the dark pit Arthur whispered hoarsely"I will miss you.... always. Goodbye." He touched Boutros on the forehead.He stood up and ran for the ladder. As he climbed out he turned to Leicester and said
"And you? You can burn...."At the top of the shaft the others were waiting."What took you so long?" said X. "The guards are almost through.", he indicated the thin yellow line of melted metal that traced itself around the outline of the silo door.
With a crash the hinges gave way and the slab fell forward."DONT SHOOT!!!" came the cry from without."It's Gonzaroolio." said Bob ."ARE WE GETTING OUT OF HERE NOW OR WHAT?" he called back.Arthur and X both turned and looked at the digital read-out.2m.00s, 1m.59s, 1m.58sArthur, Jill, X, Bob and Heddingly ran for the open security door. They charged up the long steel steps that led into the bunker and emerged blinking into the filtered daylight of the forest.Gonzaroolio was leant against a tree. All around were his dishevelled soldiers (some of them on purpose, in deference to their profession, still wore the huge boots, green wigs and squirmy flowers of clowns and clownz everywhere.)"We've got to...go!" wheezed Bob breathlessly"This whole place is about to blow-up - RUN FOR IT!" shouted Jill.1m.10s, 1m.09s, 1m.08sIn the darkness of the pit, a low rumble awoke The Red Leicester. He rolled over and looked up into the boosters of the rocket.
He looked around. Boutros was there but the other one had gone. He reached up and touched his neck. Bruises ran right around, where he had had the life near crushed out of him.46s, 45s, 44s.Another low-felt rumble sent a load of dust in the pit and the Red Leicester hacked and coughed painfully.30s, 29s, 28s."I'm going to die."
Far off in the distance he thought he saw a bright point of light and closed his eyes.
"This must be the tunnel." he thought.
It was becoming uncomfortably warm...20s, 19s, 18s.Dying. He was now sure of it. With a concerted effort Leicester opened his eyes one last time and noticed how the light appeared to be advancing down now very fast indeed and looked uncomfortably as though it was on fire...10s, 9s, 8s"Oh shi -3s, 2s, 1.The fire roared inaudibly - so loud that you couldn't stand to hear it. Not that you'd want to be there to hear it of course: the heat was enough to satisfactorily warm a pot noodle at 20 paces.
A brief scream was obliterated as the rocket shifted upward, rising out of its silo; the fire filled the rickety gantry where Arthur and the Agency had been. It blew out through the open security door. Spreading through the unexplored corridors, catching a few of the unlucky Generic Guards who had decided after all to come and rescue their boss.
It reached and melted through a door on which were printed the words. "Arms Store." The explosion lifted the forest from it's roots as the underground network of stores and depots ignited sending a huge dome of earth and trees high into the sky with a deafening sound.3s, 2s, 1Arthur burst through the leading edge of the forest and out onto the beach the others ran out after him hotfooted by the clownz and some actors.
The blast sent them all flying off their feet. Arthur landed in the surf and spun around to see the rocket lifting off from the ruins of the forest. Very quickly it disappeared through the shroud of late evening clouds."Oh Dear." He said."We've got to stop it!" shouted Arthur above the wind that had suddenly sprung up."What about Guy? Asked Heddingly, I'll need to get him back to the Agency if I'm to have any hope of saving him"How? We're trapped on this island.""If we hitched a lift with A-HA..." said Jill looking to Gonzaroolio. - "We could...""No good." said the clown. "Morton took the plane and left already.""There's not enough time." said Arthur.Farther down the beach, Big Ben chimed the passing of the hour."I've got an idea." said Arthur.Arthur ran down the beach and into the palace of Westminster with everyone else in close pursuit."No time to explain." gasped Arthur "I just hope that it's still there"Heddingly, easily the best athlete of the group, soon started to outpace the others. As he caught up with Arthur he enquired "That what is still there old chap?"By now they were pounding through the corridors of power. Since everyone had decided to take advantage of the unexpected tropical paradise the place was deserted.
No one stopped Arthur as he charged through the large double doors and strode up to the Speakers Chair and pocketed something. He perform a quick U-turn a ran out of the chamber he headed at speed and began ascending the long staircase to the bell-chamber....Mere moments later they emerged into daylight on a small platform at the top of the famous clock face and Arthur handed the object he had pocketed to Heddingly.
Heddingly looked at the solid brass coloured ball that he had just been passed.In the sky the rocket was obviously completing some complicated navigational manoeuvre as it had hardly moved from it's last position.
It was nearly 500 yards away but looked like it was just about ready to move away in a seriously fast and menacing (and all metaphors aside, non-sexual way.)"If we can hit the abort lever, just below the nose cone then the rocket will plunge harmlessly into the sea." Arthur explained. "If not the rocket is carrying the most deadly virus known to man, if it releases it over a major city, the deaths could be incalculable." said Arthur, piling on the melodrama."As the worlds greatest bodyline bowler you are the only man who could possibly make this work."He looked at Heddingly - his face was grimly serious. "I know it's a long shot, but it's the only chance we have."Heddingly took the brass gavel from Arthur, felt its weight in his hands. He looked out at the missile in the distance. Set his shoulders, said a quiet tribal prayer of some sort, reeled back his huge shoulder bringing his arm right behind his back and launched the ball at the rocket.
It zipped through the air and completely failed to connect with the abort switch just below the nose cone.
Instead it neatly struck the navigational guidance switch just to the left of the abort switch sending the rocket into a neat 90o right-angle turn pointing it directly at the Houses of Parliament and the assembled group of Clownz, various actors and members of the Agency (Alive and Not-Quite-Dead Yet.)"Oh, well that's just perfect." said Arthur deridingly.
"You save me from being shot but now you are going to kill me with a missile.""I'm sorry, my throwing always did tend to have a left-way bent." said Heddingly weakly.The matter of seconds it took for the accelerating missile to reach the island was well just a matter of seconds. It soon passed over the heads of Arthur and the others and the virus compartments opened and a stale greenish wind swept down over them.
The missile, it's load delivered ditched itself in one of the larger sand banks on the beach head."Well it was nice knowing you",said Heddingly reservedly to Arthur."Mmm. It's sad to think things will end like this." concurred Arthur.He then turned to X and the two embraced with lots of masculine back-patting."Oh you two." said Jill with flat disdain.
"I don't know what your moping about have you seen the use-by date on that thing?"She handed Arthur a pair of powerful-looking binoculars. Arthur wondered where she had kept these through out the hectic adventures of the last few hours but quickly dropped that line of thinking and instead peered through the lenses at the crashed missile:
"Star Wars Project Use-By Date: 18-5-87 All material contained within will automatically sterilise after this time and become completely non-lethal but may provoke strange and unknown symptoms such as the eruption of yellow and purple spotty rashes on the hands and face and hysterical fits of laughter accompanied by a tendency to answer "Wibble" when asked the question why is you face purple and yellow and will you please stop laughing now?""Oh." said Arthur and turned back to Jill who promptly burst out in hysterical whooping fits at Arthur's new purple and yellow complexion.Heddingly tried valiantly to suppress a giggle but his lower lip trembled and it soon escaped into a full belly laugh of immense tenor and bass. He was beginning to change colour as well."Heddingly? Jill? Why are both of your faces going purple and yellow and will you please stop laughing at me?""WIBBLE!" they both cried out in unison and promptly burst of in child-like fits of giggles again."Oh good grief." said Arthur with an air of studied indifference.
He left them both on the balcony of Big Ben and stalked off down the stairs. After some strategic searching he eventually found the warping device which had brought them and the Houses of Parliament to this island. He pushed the button and entered into the menu London, England.
There was a flash of white light - The kind that leaves flashy purple patches on the backs of your eyelids. There now materialised in front of him a London underground schematic rail map. He selected Westminster Station, confirmed this on the keypad. There was another bright flash of white light which left several MP's lounging on the beach, who were complete ignorance of the drama that had unfolded in the bunker, wondering how in the Devil's blazes they were going to get home again.
At this one MP turned to the other and said:"Wibble." and burst out laughing much to his Right Honourable Friends utter bemusement.
In the centre of London...There was a flash of light and noise that sounding something, but not quite like, a meringue imploding and the Houses of Parliament re-materialised directly over the heads of some serious looking and (briefly) very surprised international news journalists who had been covering the building's disappearance.So potent were the effects of the missile that some of the contagion had been carried back with the building to London and had in it's descent managed to infect the news-casters before squashing them flat.
Upon arrival at the entrance to Heaven one of the recently deceased journalists was seen to inquire to St Peter why his face was turning purple and yellow."WIBBLE!"said St Peter.-----------------------------------------------------Since heaven is eternal, Time literally has no meaning there. However, The aim of good lierature is to smash dogma and challenge un-critical thinking wheresoever it encounters it and now defying all reason and conventions in story telling, your humble narrrator wishes it to be noted that later that very afternoon in a small ante-chamber just off of the Pearly Gates...-----------------------------------------------------St. Peter drummed his fingers on the reception desk and invited another of the journalists to take a seat in the waiting area. Being a non-corporeal entity the effects of the chemical warhead though highly contagious had little or no effect on the dead, and after a while everything was back to normal. Comparatively speaking. This was very tiresome indeed, especially as he had a tricky administrative mix-up to sort out.
St. Peter had several ledgers open on the desk and his assistant had just arrived with another pile from storage."I've been through all the 'G's, sir" said the assistant, who was chewing gum in a most un-angelic manner, "He ain't on the list."St. Peter motioned the problematic individual who had been seated in the waiting area to approach the desk once more."Let's go through this again" said St. Peter, eyeing the individual over half-moon spectacles and consulting his notes, "Your name is Ghali...""Ah." said a ghostly Boutros, as a personification of a soul he was manifested with his own body, "No, it's Boutros-Ghali.""Double-barrelled, I see." grumbled St. Peter.
This was another of his pet hates. He gestured for his assistant to go and look in the 'B' section. "So, Mr...""Doctor" jumped in Boutros, "...of law." he finished apologetically."Dr. Boutros-Ghali." St. Peter scribbled in his notepad, "Has anyone ever told you, you look a little like Courtney love?""Imelda Marcos." mumbled Boutros.St. Peter massaged his temples.
"She's here too - " Boutros pointed out the small South American woman in the waiting area. Imelda waved back. "I had her body you see, so I suppose we were killed together in a manner of speaking.""Yes, yes. This is most irregular!" scolded St. Peter.
"And I see you were both supposed to have checked in here some time ago - " he stared piercingly over the top of his spectacles, "but for the wonders of modern science.""Erm...Yes."This was becoming an increasing problem for Heaven what with recent advances in cryogenic technology - it was playing havoc with St. Peter's filing.
It was clear that the Angel held Views on this but it was clear that what was required with regard to this issue was a definitive policy statement from The Senior Management.
St. Peter slammed the nearest ledger with a decisive thud, and swept past Boutros into the back office and conversed agitatedly with his assistant. There followed the familiar sound of the opening and closing of cabinet drawers.
Then he emerged again and presented Boutros with a sheaf of paper."Fill in the form and bring it back to the desk." he said, and then his eyes were over Boutros's shoulder at the next client, "Next!" he snapped.As Boutros turned his eyes met those of his young friend, Guy.
"Oh, no." said Boutros, "You're not supposed to be here, not yet."
St. Peter rolled his eyes theatrically and started drumming his fingers again while the two figures in front of his desk embraced each other happily. He set about putting his ledgers back on their shelves and then moved to enthusiastically begin searching the"G's" again while the pair chatted animatedly. A few minutes later the younger man vanished with a quiet 'pop'. St. Peter shook his head despairingly as he imagined the scene taking place in some Emergency Room somewhere, as some jumped-up surgeon snatched another soul from the jaws of death and once more messed up his records."Next" he wearily announced to the assembled souls remaining in his waiting area. Vanessa Feltz and Uri Gellar were still puzzling over their forms and didn't seem ready.A large man, you might have described him as 'burly' but that really all depended on whether you wanted to keep the use of your legs - slammed his form down on the desk."MY NAME LEICESTERSCHNIITCH KITANYA-IRRANIA-TATONYA-KARENSKA-ALISOV." he barked angrily."Ah." said St. Peter. As the form was slid towards him. He examined it quickly, then he took a small rubber stamp from a stamp-tree on the desk and inked it at length on a red inkpad. Gently he pressed it onto the form.
'DOWN'With a twinkle in his eyes and a smile turning up the corner of his mouth he returned the application form to Leicester.Leicester took one look at the form but before he could leap over the desk and attack St. Peter, he was grabbed by the shoulders and led away by a pair of very dour angels with cigarettes behind their ears..."NEXT!" said St. Peter..........you are not supposed to be here................As an experiment, he tried opening one eye. Looking around cautiously Guy awoke to find himself attached to a variety of large and somewhat noisy machines most of which had flashing lights and some of which were going "Ping!"His razor-sharp mind instantly recognised that he was in an intensive care unit in a private medical unit and then quickly moved on to deduce that from the faint smell of diesel fumes and sounds of cockney news-vendors drifting in from outside the window, this was in London.He lay for a while drifting as his body healed.
Some time may have passed when Guy noticed a white-coated figure was examining him in a calmly professional and non-sexual way."It was touch and go Guy." He said grimly "but I think you are going to be OK now. Some of your friends are here to see you"The doctor turned to Bob, Jill, Arthur, X, Heddingly and Gonzaroolio "Five minutes. - no longer." he cautioned sternly."It looks like its all over, old chap" said Arthur cheerfully - "The Houses of Parliament have been restored, The Red Leicester is dead. Tim is in a high security detention centre picking out his interior decor, the last few MPs have been ferried back to London by Morton and the boys and the purple and yellow spots have all disappeared""Wibble" said X - but no one laughed. "Not quite." groaned Guy, propping himself up in bed and looking meaningfully at Gonzaroolio."Ah!" said Gonzaroolio, "You mean the Criminal Clown, Cryogenic Cloning Company." shifting uneasily on one foot trying not to look guilty of something."The what!??" everyone chorused.Guy sighed as he saw from the expression on Gonzaroolio’s face.
His worst fears were instantly confirmed. He sighed the weary sigh of a man who has spent 36 hours in reconstructive surgery and 3 weeks in a coma but who is now going to have to find his shoes, tighten his belt, breathe deeply and save the world - again."Are you going to explain or shall I?""It would be easier if I just showed you." Said the clown.
He reached inside his padded suit with the squirty flower and took from within one the many secluded pockets, a letter. The envelope bore the official letterhead of The Seines Cheese Shipment Ltd. One of Leicester's business fronts.Gonzaroolio walked over to Guy's bed-side and handed him the envelope.Guy opened it gingerly and removed the letter from inside, read it once through to himself, then out-loud to the rest of the group:
"Greetings Alfredo,Guy handed the document back to the clown."The Criminal Clown Cryogenic Cloning Company?""Yes." said Gonzaroolio guardedly."Hm-mm." Mulled Guy. "And Mr Smittington at Barn Street?""He's our front. In the basements beneath the bakery we have a network of cybernetic cloning chambers. It was one of our works-in-progress under Leicester.""And you knew about this?" questioned Jill in disbelief."Yes, we were monitoring the situation before. . . . before Boutros . . . left for the Bahamas." He replied wearily."So..." said Bob, expressing a keenly felt desire to re-enter the narrative after his side-lining in recent posts, "What's the problem? The clownz are on our side now. You were aware of their plans, which might I say, are redundant now The Big Cheese is Toast.""He-he. Cheese on toast." giggled X. But no one else joined in."Er...it's not quite a simple as that." declared Gonzaroolio.Everyone turned to look at him again. A past master of the circus Big-Tent, Gonzaroolio thrived under this sort of scrutiny."The clones.... they're...erm...pre-programmed.""What sort of clones are they?" said Arthur."The cyborg kind. Part clone, part deranged homicidal psycho-machine. All clown. Right down to the Day-Glo orange wig and everything. - We spent months perfecting that. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to grow spun-nylon of the correct shade in a test-tube." he finished with a touch of pride in his voice."I see." Said Guy. "You said they were pre-programmed. To do what.""Well you know...the usual, loot, destroy, spread forth havoc and terror. Only - " the clown broke off."Only...what?""They have a massive inferiority complex and are pathologically depressed. One day they rebelled. Between themselves they took a vote and became a Doomsday Cult.""When I heard this I immediately ordered the entire project be scrapped, only on the way to the incinerators, a unit broke free and escaped. Last I heard, they had run off screaming into the night decrying the 'coming of the end'. We hadn't installed the trackers at that point but we think they are still on their projected missions to infiltrate major cities around the globe and to detonate.""Detonate?" inquired Arthur incredulously."Yes, each carries a small but devastatingly powerful explosive charge." Responded Gonzaroolio."And now we've got to stop them." said Guy. From his bed he tuned and looked at his assembled Agents." I know, it's going to be hard without Boutros to guide us. But have faith in me, I will get us through this.""Just tell me were to go." Said Arthur."No, not this time, Robinson. I have something more important for you and X to be getting on with.
I have been impressed with the Generic Guards our new project has produced; they swell the ranks of my personal army. This will prove very useful when we launch a strike at The Agency.
However, I want you now to move the operation up a level. I want you to adapt the Guard Cloning programme to produce a small collection of independent terrorist clones that could be dispatched to any location on short notice. As usual, I will leave the technical details and the design up to you and your cabal.
This is very, very important to me.
Go to the bakery at Barn Street and ask for a Mr Smittington. He has facilities on-site.
I want Bob and Jill to sort this one out. Bob, Jill I want you to go with Heddingly Gonzaroolio and try and track down these missing suicidal cryo-clonwz."
He gestured to X and Arthur to come to his bedside. They spoke quietly the speech being mostly inaudible"You two, I want you to..... and......Switzerland.....Dying Pilchard.......bring back the.....All clear? Good.""Right off you all go then." Said Guy. The assembled crew all moved towards the door. "Oh and Arthur?""Yes boss?""It's two 'o' clock." he said rolling onto one side. "Send in the nurse would you please - it's time for my sponge bath."
And there it would have ended...
Can the Agency stop the Cryo-Clownz from fulfilling the Mission of Doom?
Will Arthur and X discover the true meaning of "The dying pilchard bleeds beneath a Turquoise Moon"?
Will Tim escape from prison and seeked to resurrect his old boss using the discared Ouija board Leicester had locked in his safe for just this sort of incident.ONLY YOU KNOW. ONLY YOU CAN DECIDE3...
They may have been right. But here for your delectation the result of that endeavour: committed to memory and then transcribed onto page by an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of keyboards and too much free time. Behold! 2 'Who is Imelda Romuáldez Marcos?'
'Easy.' beamed The Narrator, 'ask me another....'3But before you do it would probably be a really good idea if you read this first.