Cruisin’ on a Cruiser

A boarding ladder was dropped down from Aurora’s poop deck as the rubber duck came along side, and was climbed with varying degrees of agility. A Starshina piped Boz and his pals aboard and they were met at the rail by Acting-Comrade-Captain-for-the-Day Tchaikovsky in a peach evening gown from Les Modes, abundantly trimmed in lace, and wearing a discrete diamante tiara perched on top of his ginger crew cut.

“Thought I’d best dress for the occasion,” he explained.

Next day most of the gang had dug out their swimwear and arranged loungers around the six-inch gun on Aurora’s foredeck. Dark Flo’s Airtex Y-fronts gleamed white in the sunlight, her pert breasts supporting an angled reflector designed to give an even tan under the chin. The cruiser had rounded Cap de la Hague in the early hours and was rolling gently as she proceeded up the English Channel. Ginsbergbear had his deck chair aft of the third funnel, sheltered from the wind. He was reading a borrowed copy of Michael Moorcock’s Cornelius Chronicles. In view of the impending apocalypse it seemed appropriate, but was not helping.

Phoebles was on the bridge being given a closely supervised turn at the wheel by an alert member of the steering committee.

Boz was in the wardroom consulting with Augusta King and Master Dorje.

“Les Chats Souterrains are capable of popping up almost anywhere at will. The situation back home might already be grave.”

“The answer’s in my Analytical Machine, I’m sure it is. We must find a way of getting to it.” Insisted Lady Augusta.

“Permitted only a limited degree of autonomy the minions normally are. Given the current situation, less than happy the Lizard Kings must be.”

“Or maybe they like it this way,” said Boz. “Aren’t they the Lords of Chaos after all? I think we must try and be patient until we can get to Larry and find out how things stand. We’re just guessing wildly at the moment.”

“But…”

There was a commotion on deck.

“It’s the white cliffs of Dover.” Phoebles shouted down from the port wing of the bridge. Everyone clustered along the rail to view the towering white walls of chalk. Gulls turned lazy circles against an azure sky, the faint sounds of a gramophone playing a Kate Smith rendition of God Bless America drifted across the water. Ferdy sighed.

By the time the Aurora steamed into the Thames Estuary it really did feel as if they were coming to the end of a proper cruise, a cruise on a cruiser. The river seemed remarkably quiet. They saw no aircraft flying in or out of the Silvertown airstrip and the flood barrier appeared deserted. Rounding the Isle of Dogs not a boat passed them in either direction. When they got to Limehouse Reach Dark Flo appeared on deck with her Bergen rucksack.

Can you drop me off at the Den? I want to check they’ve not lost too much trade in our absence.” A jolly boat was lowered and as it approached the ladder at the back of Bozzy’s Catnip Den Ferdy and Ginsbergbear saw Sam the piano player come out onto the balcony to meet her.

And then Tower Bridge loomed before them. The cruiser’s horn blasted out…

Whooooop whup whup whup

…the time honoured signal requesting that the bascules of the bridge be lifted. There was a delay as they drifted nearer and nearer, whilst any traffic was halted, and then the bridge began to open. The Aurora moved quietly into the London Basin, picked up a buoy for’ard and one aft. The Comrade-Officer on the bridge rang down ‘Finished With Engines’.

Save

Advertisements

Bouonne Niet

They looked down on the little fishing harbour of Bouonne Niet with its cosy cottages lining the quayside and colourful snibbies sheltering behind the harbour wall. They watched the protected cruiser Aurora as she hove to between the headlands of Frémont in the West and La Crête to the East; listened to the distant rattle of her anchor chain and the splash as the hook entered the water. They glanced up at the Queen Anne’s Bounty as she, having dropped off her passengers, picked up speed and powered away to the Northwest.

Wing-Comrade Polly Karpova turned to her shiny crimson two-seater scout on loan from the Pirate King. It had a red painted star on the white painted tail rudder and glistening aluminium drop tanks either side of the fuselage.

“Extra fuel to get you to Yorkshire?” enquired Boz.

“Vodka.” Polly produced a long plastic drinking straw from inside her flying jacket and waved it at the ginger cat. “Coming Beryl? You can have first dibs at driving.”

The pair strode across to where the ornithopter perched in the middle of the local crown bowling green, its diaphanous wings quivering in the gentle onshore breeze. The gang watched Beryl Clutterbuck slip a sugar cube under her tongue.

“Onwards through the rainbow’s arch and hang a left at Pluto,” she announced as they clambered aboard.

“I’m not convinced that lass has been handling the pressure any too well of late,” observed Ginsbergbear.

“Our lift home,” said Slasher McGoogs, pointing to where a rubber inflatable bounded from wave crest to wave crest away from the Aurora and towards the shore.

Chatting excitedly they set off down a steep path and by the time they reached the seashore the jet-black commando style VANGUARD XHD535 twelve-man inflatable was drawn up at the bottom of the hard.

“All aboard the rubber duck,” cried the lone Kronstadt sailor as he looped the painter through a handy mooring ring. The matelot picked up Master Dorje, who was having more difficulty than his companions clambering over the gunnel, and dumped him without ceremony into the craft. With everyone ensconced the sailor skipped aboard and began to elbow his way through the crowd towards his place at the stern.

Cast off, someone, will you.”

The Soviet Neptun-M outboard began to burble and they were on their way, slowly, as the 20hp engine would have been a little underpowered even had it been working efficiently, which it was not, and with rather less freeboard than Phoebles would have liked. The waves lapped along the sides, soaking the hapless heroes’ backsides through to their jockeys.

Bozzy’s Back!

“We know. What the hell happened to you?” Flo was truly concerned about the state Boz was in.

“Napalm, mostly. One of you buggers was non too bothered where he dumped it. And I’ve lost my second best telnyashka.”

“But you’ve been gone so long,” said Phoebles.

“Yeh, well, I had to take a bit of a roundabout route coming home. There’s some weird shit out in them there woods.”

“Let’s get you cleaned up and into a change of clothes,” said Ginsbergbear.

“Six penneth of coleyfish and chips and a nip spliff and I’ll be fine,” replied Boz, “So, what’s happening back here?”

“Rotskagg reckons un Chatattack is imminent. The Corsairs are planning to split. And the Kittens and nuns are going their own way too. So it’s going to be down to us to sort things as usual.” Flo delivered her assessment.

 

Boz was looking almost as good as new when he and Ginsbergbear rejoined the Crisis Briefing. His fur was still a bit frizzed, but would soon grow out. He was bright eyed and alert, dragging on the biggest catnip joint the gang had ever seen. He leaned forward across the table and peered at each of them in turn. “The counterrevolution has become a sideshow. For now we can leave the island in the hands of La Résistance Crapaud. I think we need to get back home, Les Chats could be popping up all over the place.”

“I need to get my flyboys back to the Kronstadt Airbase on Hessle Foreshore to lick our wounds,” said Polly Karpova.

“Hand hwee weel keep thee rrevolutionarry end up heerre, Meesterr Boz. Haf no fearr. Guerrillas een thee… ”

Smee crashed in on the discussion. “Cap’n, there be summat rum turned up outside.”

“Great Herrings In!” cursed Captain Blenkinsopp, “What is it this time?”

“That’ll be my boys,” said Le Brocq.

 

Drawn up beside the main gate were two heavily armed Willys Jeeps and an Austin K2 Ambulance, its red crosses painted over, somewhat crudely, with the flag of Free Jersey. The drivers, in leather jerkins and woollen beanies, were having a crafty smoke.

“Anyone coming with us pile into the van,” La Brocq called out. He turned to Mother Superior, “We can give you a lift to La Hougue Bie. But stay alert, you’re awful close to that Chats’ portal.”

“My girls will see that the passage entrance is well boarded up.”

“I’m going with Boz,” said Augusta, “Can I borrow Zelda?”

“For as long as you want, dear.”

“Can we hitch a lift as far as Bonne Nuit Bay, Captain? We…”

“Bouonne Niet,” Le Brocq corrected.

“…have a rendevous.” Slasher finished asking the Pirate King.

“Have we?” said Boz.

“Hang on a mo,” said Phoebles, “We’ve forgotten about Mad Jack.”

“Quite right,” replied Slasher. “Let’s keep it that way.”

Save

A Fruitless Search

The gang returned from yet another fruitless search for Boz.

“This is hopeless,” said Ferdinand, “What on earth are we going to do next.”

“The bird be right,” joined in Captain Rotskagg Blenkinsopp. “We be no nearer to finding him now than when we started. The other matter be going to catch up with us. Les Chats Souterrains have already gifted us more time than I had anticipated and the foo fighter will soon come for the Queen Anne. She be defenceless against its Tesla Death-Ray. We must relocate.”

Mother Superior and Consuella looked at each other and the nun spoke reluctantly, “The Generalissimo and I must scoop up our charges and regroup, prepare for the worst.”

“But…” from Phoebles.

“The air-search is just wasting time,” said Ginsbergbear, “The forest canopy is too dense to see anything.”

“So we start again, on the ground,” said Phoebles. He had been doing some serious thinking. “Last we heard of Bozzy, he was at the omnibus near the zoo. We go there and look for clues. Split up and work outwards if need be. Flo, you’re good at this tracking lark.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” said Dark Flo.

The discussion continued for a while longer, but minds were made up. Soon they were outside, splitting into teams.

“Where will you go Captain?” asked Ginsbergbear.

“Guernsey Hangars first, to restock and assess the situation. Be not afeared Mr Bear we will not abandon the fight.”

“Can you drop us off on the way?” Phoebles was fired up with newfound hope.

“Of course lad. Comrade Pol, you be looking lost without your plane. Would you like to borrow one of my scouts? We could paint it red. Can you fly an ornithopter?”

“I can fly most things,” replied Polly, “How hard can it be?”

“A lot harder than you’d think,” said Beryl, “None of the controls seem to do the same thing twice.”

“Cap’n!” There was a cry from the lookout tower. “There’s something moving in the woods.” They could hear rustling and suddenly a murder of startled crows took to the air, cawing as they went.

“What can you see, Smee?” Rotskagg shouted up to the lookout, whilst reaching inside his shirt for the cold Uzi Pro that nestled there out of sight.

“It’s coming this way. It’s…”

A wraith like figure stepped out into the clearing; covered from head to toe in a coating of light grey ash, streaked with sweat, fur scorched to a frizz, shirtless, jeans tattered and torn. It strolled nonchalantly towards them.

“Boz?”

“I’ve been thinking.” The spectre spoke in a parched near whisper. “We’re going to have to do something about those Chats Souterrains.”

A Writer Writes

I realised recently that there are three of us in this marriage, as somebody once said. No, not a physical entity, but a character, who comes to bed with me and wakes up with me. I’m finding myself thinking of her all the time and as I begin to fall asleep, she talks to me. Last night she said, “The matches are next to the silver-capped scent bottle”. If I’d had my notebook on the bedside cupboard I’d have switched on the light and noted it there and then, but I shut my eyes tight and remembered her words this morning. I’ve thanked her for that little detail and I’ve added it to that scene. She’ll probably talk to me again tonight.