TAXI

“THE SPACETIME TUN…NEL IS PROGRAMMED,” announced the Analytical Engine faintly in the distance. Zelda ran round. “AT THE FA…R END YOU WILL FIND AN INTER…DIMEN…SIONAL CHAM…BER AND BE…YOND THAT THE SEW…ER. TURN LE…FT AND FOLL…OW THE FLOW. THE DR…ONE CAR…RIER WILL BE… …”

There followed a zip zip sound from the box beneath the horn. Zelda rummaged around in her tea chest and emerged clutching a freshly inscribed foolscap sheet of paper. She rushed back to report and was met half way by the gang.

“What’s that in your hand,” asked Boz.

“It’s a chart,” replied Zelda, “with the carrier’s predicted course marked out on it.”

“Good,” said Augusta, “let’s crack on. Back down the pipe everyone.”

“Remaining with the machine I will be for now, retrieving further data,” announced Master Dorje, “Perhaps a visit to Shambhala in order would be.”

“Well, be careful,” replied the countess.

Linking arms in an attempt at a more orderly transportation than had so far been the norm, the rest of the group stepped forward.

“Whoah!”

“Watch out!”

“Cripes!”

They emerged, precipitously, into a Portaloo that had never been conceived as having to contain nine heroes at any one time. Conditions were cramped. Squeezed hard up against the side of the cabin Slasher struggled to work a hand free and reach the lock. He cracked the door open and cautiously peeked out. As he expected they were in an Atlantean branch tunnel. Set into the far wall, some yards away, was a steel watertight door. Stencilled red lettering proclaimed:

DANGER OF DEATH

NO CHILDREN

NO PETS

NO SMOKING

The tunnel was not however entirely deserted. Parked alongside the door was a bright yellow DeSoto Sky-View taxicab and nearby a lone Chat Souterrains stood with his back to the Portaloo, his attention taken up with eating a Big Mac takeaway.

“Wait here,” whispered Slasher as he stepped out and shut the door behind him onto muffled protests. “I’d give it ten minutes to clear if I was you,” he said, closing the gap between himself and le Chat at speed. “Is this cab taken?”

The startled Chat dropped his hamburger and spun round, reaching for his PPSh-41. “I’m not a taxi driver I’m a sentr…” But Slasher had pulled a blackjack from his trench coat pocket and the Chat’s world had gone black. The unconscious sentry’s body crumpled to the ground. Never one to pass up a gift horse, Slasher retrieved the discarded Soviet sub-machine gun.

“Come on everyone. Let’s get this door open before his mates turn up.”

“Nice car,” said Phoebles as he passed the DeSoto.

The hinges of the little used steel door were rusted, but by bracing their feet against the tunnel wall and pulling steadily Boz and Slasher managed to gain access.

“Quick, inside!”

‘Inside’ proved to be a room, a roughly ten-foot by ten-foot by ten-foot cube, almost entirely filled with junk.

“This is an Inter-dimensional Chamber?” asked Aunty Stella. No one was particularly impressed. Steel shelves, stacked with cartons and box-files and defunct technical gear, lined the walls; corroded pipes and perished rubber cables hung from the ceiling; stained, uninspiring grey paint pealed. The floor was littered with more boxes and unidentifiable pieces of equipment and light from a green glass sphere, that seemed to float independently above their heads, illuminated the scene. The air smelled musty and a thick layer of dust covered all about them.

Ahead was another door, identical to the first. To one side a fuse box, its contacts exposed, and on the other side a wall clock ticked away the seconds, backwards. This second door proved to be equally rusted up, but with the whole gang pushing, it finally gave way and dumped them into chest deep shit.

“Did anyone else feel a bit weird as we came through that last door?” asked Ferdy before the experience of being immersed in excrement drove the thought from his mind. Down stream, in the far distance they could make out a glimmer of light.

Save

Advertisements

Quantum Physics

The wall of rock was gone and there was a sudden rush of musty air that seemed to give out a relieved sigh. Dorje stepped back to retrieve his staff.

“Quick you must be. Open for long this portal will not remain.”

“Come on then,” said Boz, rushing through and panning his headlamp around. They found themselves within a passageway whose curving walls, of gleaming obsidian, were at least twenty feet apart and stretched in both directions way beyond the reach of their torch beams. This side branch on the edge of the World Tunnel System looked little utilised and, spacious as it appeared to our heroes, was mean by Atlantean standards.

“What now?” Ginsbergbear’s voice reverberated off the hard stone. “How will we ever find your bubble universe Mrs King? We’re a long way from Jersey.”

“With a little ingenuity the time/space tunnel induced to come to us will be,” replied Master Dorje. “Much there is about the Ancient Ones that even Les Chats Souterrains are unaware of. Now, a suitable venue we must find.”

He led the way and the company followed. Some meek, some inquisitive, all bemused, they trudged behind the diminutive Tibetan along the vaulted highway. The polished basalt road surface was slippery and strangely interactive. With each footfall it squeaked musically.

“Is that a light at the end of the tunnel?” said Ferdy.

“Philosophically or incandescently?” asked Boz. But they were all becoming aware of a lifting of the gloom. Soon they could see clearly. The tunnel opened out beneath a great shaft. Light streamed down from high above and so did water, like gentle drizzle, pooling on the floor.

“Gather round,” said Dorje, “Not too close.”

He removed his orange felt hat and from inside it he took out a tin of mackerel in chip shop curry sauce. He opened it, rolling back the lid, and placed it carefully at his feet. Sitting cross-legged he produced a battered, leather bound copy of the I Ching and three worn bronze Chinese coins.

“What on earth is he doing?” Aunty Stella asked Augusta King.

“No idea. He’s never done anything like this before. Not with me.”

Dorje tossed the coins into the air where they hung longer than seemed right before tinkling to the ground. He read the Book of Changes, quietly to himself.

“What’s going to happen now,” Phoebles asked of no one in particular.

“Shush. Patient you must be. Quantum physics this is.”

Nothing happened.

Then the mackerel tin quivered. Without warning it jumped, or as Master Dorje explained later, all its atoms simultaneously jumped, sideways some six inches. There was a plop and it vanished. At the same moment a plank door with a heart shaped hole and a Suffolk latch appeared behind the old monk. It was painted sage green and bobbed slowly in mid air.

“Wow!”

“A dunny door?” Dark Flo was unimpressed.

“It’s the space/time tunnel,” said Lady Augusta, rushing forward. “Prepare to be amazed.” She flung the door open with a dramatic flourish and revealed a ceramic lavatory pan with a varnished mahogany seat. A black printed legend on the cistern tank proclaimed:

Thos Crapper & Co

Invictas

with Symphonic Flush

“Bugger!” she exclaimed, glaring at Master Dorje.

“I’d give it a minute or two,” he replied. “Yank the chain.”

They all heard the deluge of water, the gurgle as it swirled down the pan, and then the porcelain pinnacle of pissoirs folded through space. The familiar, to some, John Williams intro jingle burst forth, and they were staring into the mouth of the spiralling time tunnel.

Save

That’s Us All Over

“A couple of dozen went in; some more willing than others.” Dark Flo pointed to two displaced pebbles, “There was a scuffle just here. How many people are missing?”

“Mother Superior and Mrs King, Master Dorje,” Zelda the Geek thought for a moment, “Generalissimo Starcluster of the Battailon Durruti, Kiki of course, and a couple more Kittens of Chaos. Kitty and…?”

“Consuella and the Kittens? Les Chats have bagged quite a catch. Well, we obviously can’t follow them in there,” said Boz. Le Brocq looked relieved. “There must be other entrances. I don’t know how common portals into the Atlantean Tunnel System are.” Boz turned to le Brocq. “Are there any other passage graves on the island?”

“Lots, but they were mostly destroyed or looted in the nineteenth century. There’s Dolmen du Monts Grantez near the west coast, that’s where the fighting is most fierce at the moment. Or there’s La Hougue Boëte. It’s a round mound that has a chamber at its heart. Archaeologists found the skeletons of a man and his horse inside and it’s supposed to be haunted. In the old days it was the site of a Seigneurial court.”

“Seigneurial court:” Boz had no idea what a Seigneurial court was, but it must be just the sort of place to hide a space/time portal. “Sounds promising. Where’s that one?”

“North of here. Not far from where Captain Midlands is operating.”

“Perfect,” said Boz, “I have a plan, but we’ll need Rotskagg Blenkinsopp and the Queen Anne’s Bounty.”

“Perfect? Haven’t you heard the rumours about Captain Midlands and his brigands, the cannibalism, diabolical nocturnal rituals, naturism?”

“Well, that’s us all over,” said Phoebles, “Stick our heads in the crocodile’s mouth and then improvise. Should we perhaps get the weird one into some dry clothes and have a mug of cocoa before we dash off to our inevitable doom?”

“And locate my spare pair of specs,” added Zelda.

 

Master Dorje cleared his mind and began to ‘Om’. He transcended into a trancelike meditative state. As his chakras aligned he seemed to compress and, with a little squirming, he managed to slip out of his oversized and firmly gaffer bound yak hide coat. Groping round their prison he located the others and freed them.

“Shshsh.” He gently loosened the tape from Kiki’s mouth; she was quivering with rage.

“$*† µ* å† †£øß* ∫$ØØÎ¥ ƒËç*Âß!!”

Master Dorje replaced the gag. “No dear. Behave, or leaving you tied up I will.”

“MM M’mm mm mmmm.” Kiki simulated a wide-eyed kittenish innocence which, in the total darkness, was lost on her companions.

“Good girl. Now, exploring our environment let us be.” The aging monk, clad only in a loincloth and his pointy hat, began to shiver. “Formulating a plan I would like. Before succumbing to hypothermia I am.”

“Here, borrow my combat jacket,” said Consuella.

Cautiously they felt their way round the walls, only bumping into each other occasionally. Their prison was small with a single, sturdy, locked door. They heard movement outside.

“Kiki, behind thee doorrr,” hissed Consuella, “Everrryone else back to thee meeddle of thee rroom. Trry to look as eef hyou arre steel tied up.”

A key turned in the lock. There was a clanking of chains and the rasping of bolts being drawn. The door opened. It opened outwards, not into the cell. And a shaft of light exposed Kiki, poised to attack.

“Bugger,” she said, as a Chat Suterrains warder glared at her.

Save

Save

A Neolithic Portal

Kiki spoke, “Mr Ferdy may be trustworthy, but right now I am your only chance of getting into the fortress of La Houghue Bie. I would advise against approaching the Résistance Crapaud with Les Chats in tow. They will shoot first and ask questions… Actually they’ll just shoot. Best explain yourself to the Lesbian Nuns. Leave your dubious allies here and follow me.” Kiki did not return to the sally port, she took them to the main gate and began to kick it hard whilst shouting, “hey, you lot!”

A pair of shaven heads peered down from the battlements and quickly vanished. More kicking and shouting. The sturdy axe proof oak door swung back just enough for the mother superior to step out, one finger curled resolutely round the trigger of her AK-47.

“Oh, it’s you. Stop kicking my door, you’ll scratch the paint.” The venerable nun eyed the monk, dodo and one-eyed aristocrat standing behind Kiki, “And what have we here, a travelling circus? Come inside quickly. Monsieur vendeur de oignon laissez votre vélo à la salle des gardes.” She turned back to Kiki, “I believe an explanation would be in order, my young kitten. Refectory, all of you. Now.”

Augusta King had been talking for some time when Kiki started to fidget.

“Kitty, Red, there’s too much chatter and not enough action in this chapter. We need to get back to the Resistance.”

The mother superior rose, begged Augusta’s pardon for the interruption and addressed the kittens.

“You are probably quite correct, young miss. Take some of my girls with you, they need an outlet for their wilder tendencies, and you will need a guide. Let them face peril.”

Obedient for once, the Kittens rounded up a contingent of enthusiastic volunteers, cleaned and greased their weapons; packed sandwiches, fresh knickers (with the exception of Kiki who despite the chafing of her combat chinos insisted on going commando) and a generous supply of ammunition. With a cheerful goodbye they set off into the night.

The mother superior resumed:

“Now Mrs King, perhaps if I ask questions we can obtain some clarity. Mr Desai here, who I perceive is neither French nor indeed an onion seller, tells me you immerged from our Neolithic passage earlier this evening.”

Augusta was not sure how much of her tale would be believed. She took a deep breath:

“Your chamber contains the concealed entrance to a trans dimensional portal into the Atlantean world tunnel system. Vast amounts of power and ingenuity are required to breach the veil between worlds except on a very limited number of auspicious occasions each year, like Halloween. The tunnels link to our home in Shambhala.”

The nun wrinkled her brow, but Ferdy recognised something in the description.

“I know about these portals. The boys and I discovered one in Derbyshire. Oh, you probably don’t know about Boz and Phoebles and Ginsbergbear and Slasher and me, but we do this sort of adventuring stuff all the time. We were sabotaging a secret underground flying saucer factory.”

His outburst did not reassure the mother superior. Yet she continued her interrogation.

“And you, young lady? Lets start with your history.”

“From the start?”

“Probably, if that’s not too tedious.”

Save

Save

Save

Save

The Atlantean Tunnel System

The large hatch that faced them was battleship grey. It had a porthole, which was painted over. It had steel clamps at the corners, which Boz undid. It had a maroon wheel handle, which he turned. The heavy door swung back and Boz found himself teetering above an impenetrably gloomy void. Ahead was a polished, lightly greased, brass pole. Without thinking too hard he wrapped his arms tightly around it and jumped.

“Shi…!”

And the others followed.

“Geronimo!”

“Timothy Leary!”

As the pile of bodies at the base of the pole grew, they heard the steady clunk clunk clunk of hobnailed hiking boots on iron rungs. The voice from above belonged to Slasher McGoogs.

“Perhaps another time you may wish to give some consideration to your actions before leaping… and maybe have a look around for a less thrilling alternative.” He completed his descent of the cast-iron spiral staircase and began to help the boys pick themselves up and dust themselves off. Ferdy had friction burns on some of his wing-stub feathers, Phoebles had grazed his knee, Ginsbergbear had snapped his favourite pencil and they had all landed on top of Boz. There were no other injuries. Once composed they began to look around. They had arrived in one of the main linking shafts of Les Chats Souterrains’ subterranean domain – wide, arched and concrete lined. It carried a tarmacadam roadway and twin narrow gauge railway tracks. The artery and its subsidiary systems existed parallel to or even confluent with the cave system, just a tiny dimensional twist away, kept apart by a micron thin membrane of warped space-time. It was but a miniscule section of the Atlantean world-wide tunnel system, disused for eons and now usurped by the Lizard Kings, which honeycombs the earth’s crust, linking natural cave systems, accessible only under mystic circumstances from every mine, cavern, metro and catacomb; normally undetectable and gateway, some maintain, to the inner world of our hollow earth.

“Wow!” exclaimed Phoebles.

“Just come on!” insisted McGoogs. But they had not gone far when they heard the purr of a combustion engine. Scrambling as quickly as they could up a fall of rock and scree the boys gained a wide ledge, well above eye height, and cautiously peeped down. What they saw was the arrival of a lichen-grey painted Mini Moke Twinny, which halted whilst four characters, uniformly dressed in khaki one-piece overalls, got out. They had ghost-white, narrow faces, tiny pink eyes and overly large ears.   They were armed and they were searching.

“I’ve never seen them without their goggles before,” said Phoebles, “Ugly looking bunch.”

“I don’t think we should hang around here,” said Slasher, wrenching a grill off the wall behind them. “Boz, you come through last, and pull this grating back in place.”

They were in a small, square cross-sectioned shaft that carried a steady draft of warm air. It inclined gently and branched off at regular intervals. At length their somewhat randomly chosen route emerged into a gallery that overlooked a truly vast cavern. Ginsbergbear threw himself back from the edge and pressed into the cave wall. Ferdy and Phoebles gave out simultaneous gasps. This was Titan, the belly of Behemoth – one hundred foot of vault above them and an eighty-foot drop to the floor below. They were looking down into the mother of all chambers – and it swarmed with industry.