Awesome mash-up – Talking Heads/Michael Jackson, Once in a Lifetime/Don’t Stop…
I’m horrified to see both Carvery Slaughter and Ace Bumgang pick up spoons, along with the zombies, and the overgrown bounty-hunters.
“What?” Carvery asks, meeting my eye over his serving cranium of chilled monk’s gray matter. “I already ate my way through half a dozen deadbeats trying to munch on me earlier.”
Good point… I switch my gaze to Ace, trying to appeal to what must be his very well-hidden inner gentle nature. Maybe he’s under Higham Dry Senior’s mind-spell after all…
“I’ve definitely eaten worse things, for a bet,” Ace grunts, spoonful of monastic brains already in hand. “Not to mention – even those pizzas you deliver sometimes, Sarah.”
“Gross, man,” Carvery scoffs, his mouth full. “I told you what she does with the cheese, didn’t I?”
“Yeah,” Ace shrugs.
“But – I didn’t tell you what she does with the pepperoni…”
“I’m full,” I announce, suddenly finding myself on my feet. “And, er – I’d like to use the little girl’s room…”
“This look like a spa to you?” Higham Dry asks, his eyes rounder than ever. “This is a fort! Built for fighting men. Not for wussy ladies. No little girl’s room here. Unless you count cupboard under stairs. I should maybe check it again – last time I look, goat asleep in there.”
I sink miserably back down into my seat, and try not to watch, as the others finish up their breakfast.
“Everybody done?” Higham Dry asks, and is answered with a series of belches. “Good! We go for tour of fort. Oh dear. Mr. Time, help an old man up. Him old leggy gone to sleep again. Sit down too long.”
The sniffling rickshaw pilot dries his mouth on his napkin, and his eyes manfully on his sleeve, and hurries around the table to take the elderly zombie’s arm on one side, while the guard takes the other, lifting him out of his chair between them. His legs appear to be locked in a sitting position, drawn almost up to his chest.
“What am I supposed to do like this – levitate? Like Maharishi on mushrooms?” Higham Dry Senior squawks. “Sort it out down there!”
Justin Time and the guard exchange a look over the old man’s braided white head, and then shake him up and down vigorously, like a salt-cellar.
“Ung-nung–nung-nung-nung-nung…” Higham Dry jabbers, and suddenly his legs shoot out straight, with a pop of cartilage. “Ooohhh… ahhh… That was fun! Do it again!”
“We don’t want your legs to drop off altogether, Grandpappy,” Crispin chides, gently. “Not like the last time you visited the Five a.m. Lounge.”
“No, quite right. Very lucky, crocodiles too fat to swim away with them fast enough,” Higham Dry agrees, allowing his aides to set him down onto his feet. “Now, we go on tour! Follow the crazy old fool, everybody.”
* * * * *
“Here is barracks!” Higham Dry announces proudly, as the giant studded oak doors swing aside with a groan. “Pooh! Smell like sleeping-bag farts, no? Many soldiers bunk up in here.”
I can well believe it. The many parallel avenues of bunkbeds, four high, disappear to vanishing point in the far distance.
As we step inside, those occupants who are currently off-duty leap to attention – from bunks, floor, and even slop-out bucket…
“Hello, hello,” Higham Dry Senior waves regally and proprietarily, before strolling in, one hand behind his back, in typical hierarchical-visitor fashion. “At ease, soldiers. You!”
His finger whips out from behind his back and points suddenly, at one of the men evidently caught half-asleep.
“Is it Dress-Down Friday?”
“Not any more, Lord!” the terrified soldier squeaks. “But I believe yesterday was Friday…”
“So – you sleep in your party frock, hmmmm?” The old man scans the unfortunate soldier up and down, taking in the floral hair adornments, and sequinned tube dress – not unlike Homer’s from earlier on, only blue.
“There was a birthday,” says the soldier, wretchedly. “I was the entertainment…”
“Ohhhh… like in It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum, hmmm?” Higham Dry nods, sagely. “Very clever, very clever. You improvise, good work. You invite me next time, yes?”
“And you…” Crispin’s grandfather turns to another soldier, whose blankets heaped on the bunk behind him suddenly contort violently, and sneeze. “Did I mention that we do not have a Bring Your Children To Work Day, not even once in the whole calendar?”
“Yes, Lord,” says the second soldier, grimly.
“Daddy,” his blanket solemnly joins in. “I need you to wipe my bogey.”
There is a deathly pause.
“What is ‘bogey‘?” Higham Dry’s brow furrows, turning to Crispin.
“Oh, thank goodness.” The old man’s face brightens. “We have enough people camping out here without finding bogeymen under the beds as well. Issue this soldier with clean handkerchiefs. And some colouring-books, for his non-existent children. Homer! That dress is not in your size. Put the poor man down. We move on – leave our hard-working boys in peace, no?”
* * * * *
“This is laundry,” says Higham Dry. “You must all be very careful in here. Never know what come out of it.”
The reinforced black iron door slides open, and a giant ball of pink steam unrolls from within. He sniffs, suspiciously.
“Smell all rosy, like lady flowers,” he muses, wrinkling his nose. “Usually, smell of napalm and sweaty jock strap in this room. Occasionally, smell of goat, chewing on socks. Many sock darning needed. What you call this, naughty boys?! Why it smell all lovely for a change?”
A handful of white-aproned, shirtless muscular attendants rush out of the steam, line up and bow in front of us.
“Laundry day, Lord!” the middle one cries.
“You not trying to make Guinness today?” Higham Dry demands.
“Only if it turns out that the secret ingredient is Lotus Blossom fabric softener, Lord!”
“I am very confused, my man-shorts never smell like Lotus Blossom.” Higham Dry shakes his head. “What are my soldiers going to do, prancing around smelling of lady flowers?”
“There was a mix-up, Lord,” the attendant grovels. “Our usual Sea Breeze softener was delivered to Madam Dingdong’s Bring Your Own Towel Sauna and Spa, and the Lotus Blossom was given to us in turn.”
“I cannot have my soldiers smelling girly, you go to Madam Dingdong and you rectify immediately,” says the old man. “And bring back my favourite towel while you there.”
“Yes, Lord.” The attendant bows again, and scurries out of the laundry.
“What a shame, no luck on Guinness brewing yet,” Higham Dry sighs, as he leads the way back out. “But never mind. We go up on roof. Get away from girly smell.”
* * * * *
The walls of the fort are sheer – as is the mountainside. We are so high up, that clouds below us obscure the ground.
However many miles down THAT is…
“Now, Mr. Time,” the ancient zombie Higham Dry announces. “We discuss your flying carpet kleptomania.”
Two of the bounty-hunters seize Justin Time’s arms, and hoist him onto the battlements.
“I hope you study art of flying very closely,” Higham Dry chortles.
“Lord, have mercy!” the rickshaw pilot sobs. “I only meant to help… I am very fond of my own little aerobatic rug…”
“Well, we see if he come and save you now,” Higham Dry says cheerily. “Maybe he more loyal than his owner, hmmm? You hope.”
“Is this necessary?” I plea of Crispin. “Look at him – those are real tears coming out of his nose and everything…”
“Oh, is the young lady volunteering to join Mr. Time?” the old man interrupts, and I suddenly find my elbows grasped by the third bounty-hunter, and my feet deposited on the edge. “It a long way down. You be at Seven a.m. Lounge before you reach the bottom.”
I try to look over my shoulder to see if anyone is coming to my rescue.
“It’s true, Sarah Bellummm,” Crispin says, unexpectedly. “Just look for the exit to the Seven a.m. Lounge on the way down, and we will meet up with you there. I have a feeling the boys are keen to continue the tour as far as Madam Dingdong’s first.”
“What?” I cry, as Ace and Carvery both nod their agreement. “You’re ditching me, to go to some – Bring Your Own Towel Sauna?”
“Plenty of towels here for everyone to take along,” Higham Dry nods. “But I need witness to report if Justin Time able to fly unaided now. So you go with him. Crispin and Homer and the boys catch up with you later. Bye-bye!”
And with a shove – both Justin Time and I pitch over the edge.
As I tumble, I just catch a glimpse of their faces over the brickwork, before the view is swallowed up by the zombie-gray mist.
“You’re not screaming,” I say, to Justin Time’s rictus of horror nearby.
He seems to wake up, and scowls.
“I was waiting for you,” he says, annoyed. “Ladies first.”
Oh. Of course…
The heartbreakingly amazing ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ clip…
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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