Pussycat Dolls vs Michael Jackson – “Don’t Cha Wanna Beat It” mash-up…
“Seven of us – a few dozen of them…” Luke muses.
There is an expectant pause. Why is there a certain lack of humorous Pimm’s reference to follow that remark?
And then it dawns on me…
“Six of us,” Carvery corrects him.
“Oh yeah.” Luke sighs. “Forgot about your girlfriend. Sorry, man.”
Of course. Miss Knob-End, the usual air-headed wit on this occasion, is in a wooden box under the deck of Lady Glandula’s gigantic barge. Awaiting any regeneration privileges that might come her way. Or rigor mortis. Whichever arrives first.
“No worries,” Carvery shrugs. “She acts up like it all the time.”
We remain at the apex of the square, or market-place, unwilling to chance another masonry assault from above. The awaiting zombies shift restlessly in the shadows.
“Are these more relatives of yours, Crispin?” Ace Bumgang asks.
“Not mine.” Crispin shakes his head, and then glances a little sheepishly over at our Nigerian cab-driver, Luke. “But ancestors of one of our party, most definitely. The original engineers of the pyramids, you could say…”
“You mean slaves?” I gasp. Both Carvery and Ace thump me, on either arm. “Ow…”
“I could try and talk to them,” Luke suggests.
Crispin looks even more uncomfortable.
“I think you’ll find the, er… introduction protocols are a little different to what you may have experienced, Mr. Lukan,” he says. “Kneeling down and touching your forehead to the ground might be considered inadvisable, for example – unless you want it cemented there permanently.”
“Obvious, in the building trade,” Carvery agrees. “Any opportunity for the competition to make off with your tools, when you’re not looking.”
“Well, what would YOU recommend we do?” I ask him, irritably. “Seeing as you’re the expert on the – stone slab side of things.”
He gives me an assessing glance.
“You’re the one dressed as their psychotic zombie queen leader,” he points out. “Why don’t YOU come up with something?”
I look down at the glittering clockwork hand, tucked safely into the belt of my gown. It merely looks as decorative as the star on a Christmas tree right now. And about as lethal.
“Maybe there’s something helpful in that book,” I shoot back, indicating Mr. Dry Senior’s leather-bound diary, tucked into Carvery’s own waistband. “Or would it take you too long to colour all the pictures in first?”
“I’ve already checked,” he says. “No tits in it.”
“Or tacos,” Ace smirks.
“Friends,” Crispin’s powerful zombie monotone interrupts, before I can make another riposte. “We are not getting anywhere by arguing amongst ourselves. I suggest we send in a distraction.”
As one, we all exchange looks, and turn to look at Homer N. Dry – currently half-disrobed transvestite zombie. Only the ostrich-feather boa remains, from his dressing-up sessions this morning.
“Homer,” Crispin announces, solemnly. “I am giving you permission to enact that little fantasy of yours, which Father always prohibited at dinner-parties.”
“Home?” Homer asks, uncertainly. A look of perverse hope flickers fleetingly across his disturbing gray face.
“Yes.” Crispin takes a deep, bracing breath, his own lungs creaking and whistling as he does so. “The one about the ladies of the Villa Negra – and the French Foreign Legion…”
Comprehension sinks in. And a broad, manic, evil grin spreads across Homer’s face.
The very same chilling grin I first saw of his, on the CCTV footage in Crispin’s hi-tech security bunker, last night…
“Goooood,” Homer approves, rubbing his ragged hands together, and cracking his knuckles.
* * * * *
I peek out tentatively, around a pillar.
“Go on, Sarah.” Carvery urges, and I feel the butt of the shotgun nudge me in the spine. “Homer needs an M.C, and you drew the short finger-bone. Don’t leave the creepy little zombie dude hanging.”
The half-hidden Nigerian slave zombies are still loitering menacingly in the shadows. Homer, preening his leftover ostrich-feathers, is waiting patiently just at my shoulder.
“God, all right!” I grumble, and clear my throat.
I take one cautious pace out into the open, worrying that Carvery appears to have the gun trained on my own head – rather than at any potential attackers.
“I expect you’re all wondering why I called this meeting!” I improvise loudly, in my best cut-glass Lady Glandula de Bartheline impression. “Well, er… you’ve all been very loyal, and very hardworking. Putting up all these huge erections that I demand of you, and stuff. I can’t imagine what it must have been like lifting all of this stone, day after day. So, um… I have a little reward for you. A bit of entertainment.”
I step aside, sweeping an arm out, in a gesture of introduction.
“Gentlemen, I give you… uh…” My brain frazzles. Just say anything, Sarah! “All the way from… a galaxy far, far away… the exotic fjords of… somewhere-or-other… Princess… Homer Rottick!”
“Nice,” Carvery mutters.
Homer swirls past me into the empty market square, trailing feather boa, like a rhythmic gymnast. I hear the collective intake of zombie breath, as he pirouettes into the centre of the pavement.
Any minute now, I’m thinking. Any minute now – we’re all going to be eaten alive…
“Oooh, I hope they don’t notice that…” Luke remarks, right by my ear, sounding equally concerned. “He has a big wang for a dead white fella.”
“Must be a family thing,” I agree, instantly more worried, as Homer performs a cartwheel.
“That doesn’t sound like a virgin at all, Sarah,” Carvery points out, nastily.
“What?” I snap, wondering why I’m now thinking about Madonna, and elevators. “Why are you hanging around gawking? I thought you had a part in this plan too?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Carvery grins. “C’mon, Ace, let’s go shift some stuff.”
The two of them head off, on their own determined mission.
Crispin has taken out a small pair of opera-glasses, and is scanning the shadows. Some of the strange zombies are starting to move forward slowly into the open, attracted by the bizarre spectacle of burlesque gyrations, performed by Homer N. Dry.
“Any sign of the carpet-salesman?” I ask Crispin, hopefully.
“Not yet,” Crispin admits. “I think I will need a better vantage-point. The two of you stay here, and keep an eye on my poor brother. Well – having the time of his life for now, at least…”
While Crispin hurries away also, Luke and I watch the dancing Dry brother, with our own mixture of deep concern and horrified fascination.
I feel like exactly like Rachel did, on Friends…
“Oh, God – I can’t not look at it…” I quote. My fingers, covering my face, are fighting each other to hide in my mouth.
“They are getting very close,” Luke confirms. Homer tickles the end of a zombie’s nose with a long feather. “They are going to notice quite soon that he has the wrong qualifications for this sort of lady-dancing.”
“Perhaps they’ve noticed already?” I whisper. “And they aren’t bothered?”
On the far side of the square, in the shade of another pillar, I spot Carvery and Ace – levering up a large paving-slab. My heart thumps in sympathy. I crane my neck to try and spot Crispin.
Where on Earth has he got to…??
“Can you see Crispin at all?” I ask Luke.
“Maybe he’s scarpered,” Luke says grimly, after looking fruitlessly around. “Maybe we were ALL his distraction.”
In the middle of the square, Homer continues his grotesque ballet – the strangest, gangliest, deadest Sugar-Plum Zombie Fairy I have ever seen…
“We should take the clockwork hand, and run,” Luke suggests. “Give it to me.”
“What?” I gasp in shock, as he makes a failed grab for my belt. “No!”
“Crispin has gone!” he insists. “We have to save ourselves!”
“NO!” I shout again, louder than I intended. I stumble backwards, trying to evade his attempts to snatch the precious clockwork hand. “He’ll be back! He wouldn’t abandon us…”
Suddenly one of the zombies in the market square gives a roar, and we all look around – to see the tallest, thinnest zombie standing over Homer – pointing accusingly.
“Oh, shit…” I mutter.
“Told you,” Luke reminds me. “It’s just not normal for a white dude to be flaunting THAT about.”
Homer twirls coquettishly, trailing ostrich-feather boa – which inexplicably speeds up, until it cracks like a whip…
…And the head of the tallest zombie pops straight off, bounces – and rolls right over to my feet, underneath the long gown belonging to Crispin Dry’s mother.
As I snatch up my skirts and leap aside with a scream, I see it give a much more approving grin…
Palace siege scene from James Bond ‘Octopussy’ (en Francais) – Enjoy 🙂
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
Also available for all other devices, and online reading, on Smashwords