The Horror! The Horror!

Boz and Slasher were crouched behind a clutch of dustbins looking into the cool, wide eyes of an all but invisible ninja.

“I’ve got the others to safety in the woods. Now all we have to do is join them and not get caught on the way. Follow me.” And with that she disappeared.

“Er, Flo. We can’t see you.”

“Hang on.” Dark Flo rummaged around in the nearest dustbin and returned triumphantly clutching a crumpled front page of the Beano, No 2275 from February 22nd 1986, depicting Dennis the Menace and Gnasher. She produced a large safety pin from the folds of her Shinobi shozoko. “Pin this to my backside. Carefully.”

“You’d better do it, Slasher. I’m too petrified.” Boz was indeed quaking. “She’s more terrifying than that Captain Tierrasmedias.”

“Shush. Now, come along. And keep low.”

After an age in pursuit of the waggling comic, crawling and pausing and melting into the shadows, the trio reached a hole cut neatly in the chain link boundary fence. Beyond it small paper flags of all nations, on wooden sticks, marked the location of various booby traps.

“Boz, pick up the flags as we pass them. And for Cod’s sake look where you’re putting your feet. Both of you.”

Having reached the edge of the woods they could breath again. Dark Flo led them through the undergrowth and followed a muddy ditch deep into the forest. Until…

“Boz! Slasher? We’re all here.” Ginsbergbear popped up in front of them and Phoebles pushed past him to rush at his comrades. There was whispered jubilation and hugs all round. Flo had an arm each around Phoebles and Ferdy, but Boz stood alone, quivering.

“What’s the matter, Boz?” enquired Ferdy.

The ginger cat turned. His hands were shaking and staring eyes glistened.

“This obscenity has to be ended. It stops here and it stops now. Flo, get them to safety. I’m going to finish him tonight. Just me. I can’t ask anyone else to do it.”

“But Bozzy, we don’t do that…” began Phoebles.

“Now, Flo!”

The ninja began ushering the protesting chums away. She glanced back, an anxious look in her tearful eyes, but she obeyed the command.

Once he was alone Boz slid down into the foul dyke. He stripped off his shirt and wallowed in the mud until his fur was caked and umber. Only his bloodshot eyes were visible against the growing darkness. He returned to the gap in the wire fence. Inside the stench of putrefaction seemed stronger than ever. The demonic amber glow from braziers and blazing torches danced intense shadows about the compound. Clashing gongs and booming drums drowned out all other sounds in a satanic cacophony. Capitáno Tierrasmedias’ drug crazed horde was working itself up into a frenzy before descending on the hapless defenders of liberty and freedom. Boz slithered unseen towards Les Augrès Manor.

After a while he was inching towards something indescribable that blocked his path, something with a Dayak Parang sticking in it. Boz pulled out the machete, wiped the blade on his trouser leg and tested its weight. Perfect. He crawled on.

A spectral figure rose slowly behind one of the dodo statues, eyes glinting gold in the flickering firelight, matted fur blending into the darkness. Boz strode up the steps to the mansion and sought out the Capitáno’s lair. The sofa was unoccupied. An empty Tennents lager can rolled noisily across the floor, coming to rest at his feet. The prostrate Napoleon lay in front of him on a moth-eaten kilim. A skeletal matchstick body, luminous skin stretched taught over bone, appended the globular head it no longer strove to support. Face to the ceiling, wide sightless eyes sunk deep into the skull, the deranged, hyperactive brain had finally drained all but the last vestige of vitality from its wasted host. The lips moved imperceptibly, were they trying to form words? Boz leaned towards the toothless mouth and suddenly a claw like hand grasped his shoulder, dragged him close.

“Crows’ blood!” it cried in anguish. Then, a rattle in the hollow throat, and Capitáno Tierrasmedias was gone.

Boz heard the padding splayed footfalls, the swish of a tail, the clicking of claws on bare floorboards, approaching at speed. He dropped the parang and legged it.

 

The Routemaster was still where they’d left it, partially burned out, but the radio and battery had escaped the fire.

“Versailles this is Bald Eagle!”

“What? Who?”

“Smee, is that you? It’s Boz here. Dump everything you’ve got on the Jersey Zoo. I want that abomination flattened, wiped off the face of the earth.”

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Slasher’s Plan

Corsair Destroyer of WorldsA thick, aromatic fug obscured much of the interior, a fug almost dense enough to muffle the jangling, stannic notes of Sam playing Jelly Roll Blues on an open fronted upright. Entering deeper into Bozzy’s Bohemian Babel and adjusting slowly to the atmosphere Larry discovered Phoebles doing duty behind the bar.

“You’re not the regular bar staff. Where is Dark Flo?” Larry coughed as a swirl of sweet smelling smoke diverted from its random meandering to insinuate his left nostril. A feeling of unaccustomed light heartedness came over him, “Is Mr Boz in?”

Phoebles wiped a tumbler with a corner of his apron, “Flo’s on her hols I suppose. And…”

“…Boz is over there,” announced Barrymore as she strode towards the front bar. Sam’s playing rose to a crescendo.

Boz was sitting at his favourite table in the bay window, affording a comprehensive view of activity within the den and the pavement outside. He was with Ginsbergbear who’s Peterson appeared to be responsible for most of the surrounding smog and, as it seeped out through a fanlight above the door, for a hint of gothic noir in gaslit Narrow Street. Barrymore pulled out a chair for Larry and then seated herself opposite Boz, elbows on the table and glaring uncomfortably closely into his face.

“OK, let’s have it. Dark Flo doesn’t take holidays. And you and your gang aren’t the sort to sit around doing nothing while an adventure is unfolding.”

Boz gazed innocently back at her. “We’ve been a bit worried about Ferdy and the Kittens. They would appear to be lost in the thick of all that mayhem in the Channel Islands. Have you heard about the invasion then?” One eyebrow raised as he tilted his head inquisitively.

“C’mon. Give me more.”

“Oh… OK… Slasher wanted you two kept out of the loop for as long as possible. He and Flo have gone up north to talk to the pirate king, Rotskagg Blenkinsopp. Alongside the Kronstadt Coastal Patrol he sees the Corsairs as our only hope of successfully fighting back. Cod knows how he finds things out, but he says the Corsairs are upgrading The Destroyer of Worlds. They’re fitting banks of von Ohain HeS1 turbojets in the hope of getting her back up as a GEV, that’s a ground effect vehicle,” he added helpfully, “and replacing the missile tubes with six sawn off Japanese Type 94 naval guns. Big bangs, not too much accuracy.”

Larry slid down in his chair. “So we do have a plan. Can we go home now?”

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Domestic Noir

Morte de Ginsbergbear SSo… Whilst we are desperately trying to rearrange the scattered pages of Bozzy’s ‘The British Empire Strikes Back’ into some sort of coherent order and/or discover any form of viable plot line in Rich’s ‘Axel Shrouds Merchant Seaman’, a rousing tale of sea, sex and Cephalopoda, here is another of Ginsbergbear’s poems:

“I’m home, Snookums!”

He hangs his deadman topper on the hallstand

And lays his all too brief case by the chiffonier.

“Is that you, darling?” from the kitchen.

“No I’m someone else.”

“Howdy stranger,”

She appears in the doorway

Packing a Smith & Jones six-shooter.

“You are such an alias,” she snaps,

(Emphasising the last syllable and pronouncing it ‘arse’).

Aiming her rod at her nugatory spouse,

She plugs him square between the ears.

EPITAPH

Potkin SThis week’s episode of Potkin and the Barge Match is going to be a bit delayed ‘cos my Dad hasn’t finished the drawing yet.

So, here’s a poem that Ginsbergbear wrote on the death of Potkin. It’s sad, but not VERY sad ‘cos Potkin died long before I was even born.

EPITAPH

Is that Potkin

At the garden gate?

It is only a shadow,

For Potkin is LATE.

The Pyramid Stage

crimeandpunishmentSUp on the pyramid stage The Kittens of Chaos, accompanied by Consuella Starcluster the tambourine virtuoso, were performing a selection of their favourite bits from ‘Prestupleniye i Nakazaniye the Musical’, in which the nihilist Raskolnikov is encouraged to get out more and is introduced to vodka and fornication by the 6th Form students of Madame Sofia Semyonovna Marmeladova’s Academy for Young Kittens. Following on from the conclusion of their act the bemused audience was subjected to a poetry reading by Ginsbergbear.

“I have written a haiku,” he announced:

Haiku

Cake out in the rain.

Prince Albert teapot; it nev

Er reigns, but it pours.

…and, oh so much later:

Your Mum and Dad

They muck you about

With a bottle of stout

And a pig in a poke

Like the funny old bloke

That Mummy said to call uncle

And Dad with his fags

After nocturnal shags

They’re wondering why

You’ve contracted a sty

Or forged on your bum a carbuncle

“The fault isn’t ours”

Your old pater glowers

“We had parents too

Addicted to glue

And fans of the songs of Garfuncle”

After a long and embarrassing pause there came a dramatic fanfare from the recently bruised Massed Pit Bands of Federated Nottinghamshire joined by the Brick Lane Zapatista Mariachi Walking Wounded, and Larry stepped up to the mic.

“Ehem…”

Before he could speak he was surrounded, silently, by the serene men of the Himalayas, their yak skin coats dragging on the floor. The group moved to the front of the stage, parted and revealed, to everyone’s astonishment, Mad Jack Belvoir (Bart) with his ward, the fair, and now heavily pregnant, Pricilla. Gone was the up-tight uniform of the 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars, his once magnificent handlebar drooped into a bushy Zapata mustachio and he wore a loose, grubby Kurta shirt over baggy candy striped trousers. He appeared unkempt, undernourished, and yet he was fire-forged steel, tempered in the acid bath of global perambulation.

“Friends, we have all come a long way since you and I faced off against each other on the Cable Street barricade. Pricilla and I have travelled far, crossed desert and mountain, swum in turquoise seas, basked on crystal beaches, begged in shit-strewn shanties. We have studied at the feet of masters. I want to talk to you about the future. We are (most of us, I hope) groping towards an ill-defined anarchist utopia, an earnest utopia with co-ops and federations and communes and unions and autonomies and endless discussions at the Street Moot and the Factory Moot. It is a worthy utopia for born-again socialists, reformed capitalists and the recently oppressed. But remember, just a short stride across the green from the Moot Hall is the Mead Hall. The sailors and ships’ cats and corsairs and doxies, these Ranters and punks, won’t be content with such seriousness alone. There must be fun, and dancing and a little mayhem too. One day when we have our Anarchy, modified and reshaped from our earliest visions, when we have our justice and fairness, we will look out towards a new utopia, a utopia for anarchists, for men (and women and cats) who are already free, already fulfilled. With joy as of little children and unfettered imaginations we will lust for a glorious future without limits; what a vision that will be.”

As Mad Jack paused for breath Larry stepped quickly back up to the mic. He was still somewhat put out and prickly.

“Comrades. It is possible that Citizen Belvoir has a point… or two. I was about to suggest that we representatives of diverse groups, many of whom have travelled far to hammer out our differences, adjourn to the Ranters’ Moot Hall and forge a concord that would guarantee peace and prosperity for all time. It is what we had planned, why we are here. But I, for one, am having too much fun. Who cares about differences? It is a glorious day; let us celebrate our commonality. Return to the beer tent and the dance floor; strike up the Mariachi. Sod tomorrow, we are surrounded by friends.”

A great roar of approval from Captain Rotskagg Blenkinsopp caused several small children to burst into tears. There had been little in Mad Jack or Larry’s adjurations that had not rung true to the philosophy of the gaily-coloured Tamworth Ranters. They began to saunter away to continue enjoying their gala. The Scots and Corsairs however had travelled a great distance, prepared to argue forcefully for their ancient and traditional right to pillage. They had come down with the intention of arguing long and hard, winning concessions and drunkenly conceding as few privileges as possible. Were they really going to go away and just get on with each other? They hung around in small groups shrugging and mumbling.

‘Well, it sounds good enough to me,’ boomed Rotskagg. ‘Gué fatu, Camaradas? You Reivers be masters of animal husbandry, though in the past they have tended to be someone else’s animals. You will prosper. And us corsairs will find noble outlets for our seafaring bravado. Here is ale and women and I shall have exhausting of both. Vadu dal lavutana, fetch me a fiddler, I have a mind to Hornpipe. Anna, wildling, put those matches away and teach me Stripping the Willow.’