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.”

Save

Save

Boz Has a Plan

“What in all that’s… What’s out there?” Phobles’ natural light-hearted resilience was being sorely tested.

“Banshees?” suggested Boz, unhelpfully.

“Well no bloody boggart’s getting on my bus,” said Flo, advancing towards the rear platform. OK, so someone had to put on a brave face, however much they just wanted to go home. She braced herself defiantly in the stairwell and stared out into the darkness.

Le Brocq called through from the drivers cab, “It’s only howler monkeys; they seem to have got noisier since they spread out from the zoo. They’re harmless. It’s the silent stuff down in the undergrowth you need to worry about, animal and human. If you can still call Captain Midlands’ degenerates human.” Somehow no one felt particularly reassured.

The bus swerved to avoid a haunch of venison that lay in the road still attached to the shredded hindquarters of its original owner. The stockiest lizard Le Brocq had ever seen waddled out onto the verge to glare back at him. He straightened up the Routemaster and watched in his rear-view mirror as the reptile returned to its meal. Then a flash of twilight on gunmetal in the sky ahead diverted the partisan bus driver’s attention and the dark mass of Rotskagg’s flagship descended into view. There was a fluttering buzz as a Tiffany Blue, single-seater odonaptor scout flew up alongside, close enough for the pilot to eye the occupants of the bus. He made an ‘O’ with thumb and forefinger and then gestured for them to follow.

The Queen Anne’s Bounty was being tethered at ground level when Boz and his comrades arrived at a clearing in the woods. Centred on the open space the Corsair camp was ringed by a defensive palisade with a hundred yards of barren killing ground in every direction. The entire area was starkly floodlit. They parked up and as they disembarked Rottskagg and his ship’s-mate Smee strode out to meet them.

“Had a good journey?” asked the pirate king as he ushered them through a gateway in the palisade topped by a timber-framed watchtower. A solid looking blockhouse took up much of the compound and a flagpole was flying Rotskagg’s death’s head banner.

“Not too eventful, so far,” replied Boz weakly.

“Ninja fashion has come on some since last we met, my petite assassin.” The corsair addressed Dark Flo with a twinkle in his one eye. “Very floral.”

Damn, she had forgotten she was still wearing the improvised poncho. For the first time in the gang’s memory Flo looked embarrassed. Rotskagg doubled up with mirth. Boz thought he had better intervene before someone died.

“Your camp is very well defended captain.”

Smee answered for his commander. “The renegades have made a number of tentative sorties against us and we have lost a cabin boy to the Komodo Dragons. Dragons’ spittle be like something out of Alien, an obnoxious brew that infects wounds and carries certain death. So we be organised. The next assault will meet with stiff opposition. The gunners and stokers sleep aboard the Bounty on twenty-four hour alert. Her main armament can be active within two minutes and she may be airborne in five.”

“Bloody lizards,” muttered Rotskagg, “the crew were fond of that lad.”

 

Everyone huddled around the chart table in Captain Rotskagg Blenkinsopp’s suite.

“So, my young friends, why be ‘e here?”

“We need to get into the Atlantean tunnel system,” replied Boz, “Les Chats Suterrains have captured Consuella and the Kittens and have disabled access to the interdimensional portal.”

“And Mrs King. They have Mrs King and Mother Superior,” added Zelda.

“Ah. I were rather taken with the Lady Augusta,” says Rotskagg.

“I have a plan,” continued Boz. “When we were in the Castleton caves we observed the veil between worlds responding to a specific combination of audio frequencies. Zelda here believes she can hack the system.”

“I have Edgar Varèse’s Poème Électronique on my iPhone along with any number of Charles Ives compositions. If we can combine them through your gargantuan ghetto blasters and I add a little touch of my own we should be able to force a crack, open a way in,” she explained. Some of the group looked impressed, others evidently found her taste in music a little unconventional.

“Where, not back at the convent?” from Rotskagg.

“No, Le Chats will have that portal locked down.” Replied Zelda. “Boz thought we could try at La Hougue Boëte.”

“Kushti, little technomage. Waste no time. We sail right after tea.”