The Prodigy/Pendulum vs. Limp Bizkit – Voodoo People/Rollin’ mash-up…
Almost immediately, we are inspired to run. The sound of stampeding feet seems to come from all directions in the maze of alleyways, accompanied by the angry shouting of the Seven a.m. Lounge denizens – which sounds exactly as though it comes complete with cleavers, butcher’s knives, pitchforks and flaming torches attached.
“Ruddy Six a.m. Loungers!” I hear a cry, too close for comfort. “Sneaking up on us – with your fancy flying hearth-rugs, and hocus-pocus!”
“I don’t suppose you want to try out your Lady Glandula impression on them, do you, Sarah?” Carvery asks me as we pause for breath in the shadow of a doorway, with a nasty grin. “Seeing as you’ve still got her dress on. That’d put the heebie-jeebies up them all right.”
“You may not have noticed, but I’m lacking a certain limb to complete the job description of Quim of the Damned,” I retort. “I’m a bit short in the alien tentacle department.”
“I’m sure there’s a piece of gizzard left over from that woman you just skewered that we could stick up your nightdress,” he suggests. “I bet no-one here has seen the real thing. You could get away with it.”
But I’m distracted from answering by another immediate fact.
“Where has Crispin gone?” I demand, looking around.
But as I look back again – Carvery has also vanished. Into the smog, the shadows, thin air – I have no idea…
Oh, God. Do I stay put? Do I run??
“There’s one of ‘em!” a voice cries, and I see torchlight at the end of the alleyway.
I take my chances, and run. Blindly. Anywhere.
Hoping that any turn I take doesn’t lead to a…
I feel as though the endless brick-wall alleys are turning into those dreaded tunnels, back in the Three a.m. Lounge – or was that the Four a.m. Lounge? What bloodthirsty maneaters could turn up here? Monitor lizards? Crocodiles? More of Crispin and Homer’s eccentric zombie ancestors?
The winding routes make me dizzy, and the crossways bring tears to my eyes. Which way? Which way? I run onwards, hoping to find my way at least to the river, where maybe I could reach the safety of the rickshaw and flying carpet…
Trying to stay one step ahead of the noise of angry residents, I double-back after one left turn and hurry back the way I came, only to realise – too late – that I can hear running feet also approaching the same junction.
I try to double my speed, hoping to bisect the crossway before anyone else reaches it…
…And collide with a mass of tanned muscle, smelling of Sea Breeze fabric softener, and Lotus Blossom massage oil…
“It’s me,” says Ace, taking his hand off my mouth. He obviously knows my scream reflex too well by now. “Where is everyone else?”
“I don’t know, Ace,” I sob. “We got separated…”
I try to fling myself into his arms, tragic-heroine style – but he steps aside too quickly, so that I merely deflect clumsily off the wall.
“They’ll be around somewhere,” he shrugs. “Come on.”
So I’m resigned to stumbling along hurriedly in his path, hiking up my skirts gracelessly. God… Why is it never like the movies? Why hasn’t he swept me off my feet and carried me to safety?
How much more obvious do I have to be??!
A sound like a gunshot startles me from my thoughts of romantically fickle injustice, and the rickshaw pulls up abruptly at the next junction, the flying rug rearing up like a stallion, pawing the air.
“Quickly, Sarah Bellummm,” Crispin calls out from the driving-seat. “We will have to meet the others at the water’s edge. The turning tide means that our transport to the Eight a.m. Lounge will not delay much longer.”
“Can’t we take the flying rickshaw to get there?” I ask, as Ace and I scramble in on either side.
“The rickshaw will not leave its driver behind in such a state as Mr. Time currently is,” Crispin explains. “I am afraid Mr. Time has already found his bed to sober up in at one of the Seven a.m. Lounge’s delightful constabularies. So we will take the optional transportation route – which hopefully will put us back on the path of Mr. Lukan, and the stolen clockwork hand. Now – hold on tight, please…”
And the rug strikes out again at the crack of the whip, jerking us into forward motion once more, as two legions of Seven a.m. Lounge residents converge on our spot from both directions.
Looking behind, I see them charging in pursuit, throwing half-bricks and other missiles. And from above – I’m fairly certain that they are on the rooftops too…
“What about the other two?” Ace asks. “I think Homer stopped to try and buy a hat.”
Crispin mutters something that is probably a curse against cross-dressing.
“…Father would never forgive me if I left the little painted trollop behind,” he grumbles at last. “He knows his own way about… probably the safest of us on his own here, he is so popular amongst the seamstresses… Hang on. I know where he will most likely be found.”
And we turn hard right, out of the labyrinth of alleyways into wider roads, dodging horse-drawn cabs, and startling pedestrians.
Oh no – this looks like the way back to the marketplace…
“It’s all right, so long as they think we’re still back there around the houses,” Ace points out. “Whoa, watch out for the flower-seller… never mind. She looked old anyway…”
“There’s Carvery!” I cry. “Over there – fighting with that Geisha-girl…”
“THAT is no girl,” Crispin remarks, grimly.
I look again.
Ohhhh… And it doesn’t look like they’re fighting, on second glance. To be honest, it looks as though the Geisha-girl is refusing to leave a shop by hanging onto the doorway for dear life, in spite of Carvery tugging on the other arm…
“Homer!” I hear Carvery yelling. “It’s not even your colour! Let go of the stupid hat and let’s go!”
Homer, who has evidently just had ‘the full works’ at Madam Dingdong’s, is indeed painted, primped and preened beyond recognition. The white face powder. The rose-red cupid’s bow of a mouth. The black hairpiece, complete with ornaments. The fabulously decorated kimono…
“Gooood…” Homer protests.
He scrabbles at the doorway of the hat-shop, as Carvery makes a heroic effort, and hoists the skinny transvestite zombie over his shoulder – in exactly the way I so wished Ace had done with me – before running towards us in the rickshaw.
“Go!” Carvery yells, dumping Homer on the floor at our feet, and jumping in.
“Well done, Mr. Slaughter,” Crispin says, and I sense his relief – at having the difficult job of corralling Homer done for him, so efficiently.
The rug twitches into life again, and this time we soar over the market-stalls, taking a different route towards the river.
“Ace, buddy,” Carvery greets him. “You smell like a cheerleader’s gym locker.”
“Dude,” Ace frowns at him. “You just gave a fireman’s lift to a zombie drag queen.”
“Meaning?” Carvery raises an eyebrow.
“Meaning, you smell like a cheerleader’s armpit.” Ace dodges as Carvery aims an elbow at his head, meaning I get it in the ear instead.
“Ow!” I yell indignantly.
“Please, do not fight amongst yourselves,” Crispin urges, trying to concentrate on steering the flying rug. “We are nearly there…”
And not a moment too soon. Already we can hear the angry mob closing in, and deliberately-aimed roof-tiles bounce off the canopy of the rickshaw.
“Can’t we go higher?” I ask.
“Our transport is rather more low-profile this time, Sarah Bellummm,” says Crispin, and I spot a glint of streetlamp reflected off the river in the distance, as we near the water’s edge. “And like I said – it will not wait around, due to the tide.”
A great creaking and groaning sound reaches our ears, and the end of the road where it stops at the riverbank suddenly darkens, eclipsed by the rising of a strange monolith from the river itself. Water cascades from its sides, and for one terrible moment I believe that the river-god Atum has arrived, to decimate the city with its omnipotent eye of doom…
But instead of scales, the shape is covered in riveted metal plates. As we approach, a drawbridge lowers from it, onto the pier alongside.
“That is our transport to the Eight a.m. Lounge,” Crispin announces. “The Colossal U-Boat – The Great Nematode.”
Street-chase scene from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Enjoy 🙂
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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