Diuretic 13: A Zombie Parody

House of Pain vs Bel Biv Devoe – Jump Around/Poison mash-up…

I drain my Sloe Gin Sling quickly, as Sandy hurries to my side.

“Are you all right, Miss Bellum?” he asks.

“I think I just need some fresh air,” I say, rising unsteadily from my seat. “Who was that?”

“No-one of interest,” he assures me. “There are other parasites here besides the Squidmorphs! We will take a turn around the fountain in the courtyard. The scent of the lilies and wisteria will revive you.”

He gallantly offers me his arm. We head through the bustling bar and out through the far side, into the glorious dappled sunshine of a shady walled garden within the buildings. A bubbling fountain in the centre cools the air, and the rainbow array of flowers are a soothing contrast to the harsh hubbub indoors.

I try to take deep breaths as we walk around this little oasis, before my brain is overwhelmed with further adjectives.

“This is quite normal for the Caruncula Casabladder, Miss Bellum,” Sandy reassures me, as I rest on the tiled edge of the fountain. The decoratively cool mosaic design is a relief through the seat of my all-too-thermal Naval uniform. “You must not take anything personally. But it is safe to talk here. It is one of the few places where it is safe to talk.”

For some reason I don’t feel like talking right now. I’ve just seen a man decapitated for sitting down at a table with me, and calling me a traitor. I’m more wary of further offending any other law-abiding citizens of the Eight a.m. Lounge, after that little display.

“You did mention treason,” I say at last, cautiously. “What constitutes treason here, exactly?”

“Attempting to broker or sell sacred hereditary objects, either whole or in constituent parts,” Sandy replies. “Sleeping with one’s mistress within the Palace walls, or courting a new one in his Lordship’s apartments. Procuring a beast for carnal knowledge. Watering-down of lamp-oil or medicinal spirits. Entering the Temple of the Moon on a Tuesday morning after 09:20 hours wearing a blue feather – Homer has had some narrow escapes there, I can tell you. Public preaching of sacrilegious texts, or unconfirmed UFO sightings. Many things, Miss Bellum. There is a six-hundred page moral addendum in the Library of Scrolls here if you would care to look – but it can only be accessed on a Thursday between 10:04 and 16:17 hours without committing…”

“Treason?” I guess, and he nods.

“Wise indeed. I can tell you are a woman who respects cultural differences!” he approves. “And what is your own personal heathen faith, if you will permit me to ask?”

“I would not dream of offending you by mentioning it aloud,” I reply, politely.

He grins broadly, revealing several gold molars.

“Clever girl.” He gestures around the courtyard. “We like to consider this a free society, in our decadent little Eight a.m. Lounge pied à terre, away from the rest of the civilized world – but you would be amazed how careful folk are. More than anywhere else. To do business in such a confined and limiting space, you will find good manners are learned quickly.” He sighs. “Life here functions very well. But there are others who are envious, who would wish to tax and regulate such a successful independent enclave. Introduce their hypermarket monopoly culture, and fast-food chains. Their modern places of mass consumer worship. Destroying the solitary businessman. Destroying the soul’s own unique journey through life – and the afterlife.”

“I can see why defending the Lounge is so important,” I venture.

“You will have noticed similar tendencies elsewhere also!” he agrees, in his usual enthusiastic way. “Arming themselves to the teeth, ready for any invasion from either side, yes? Practising their skills and manoeuvres, maybe?”

A small part of my hindbrain kicks me in the upper lobes. Perhaps what he means, is: HAVE you noticed similar tendencies elsewhere?

Is he fishing for tactical information on the sly…?

“I wouldn’t be qualified to answer,” I reply at last, honestly. “I saw a lot of laundry being done, and some failed attempts to brew Guinness. But that’s about it.”

“Hmmm,” he muses. “Yes… where Guinness is concerned, a plentiful supply of clean laundry is certainly necessary. I do not think you have anything to concern yourself about there, Miss Bellum.”

I’m already concerned… in a tactic of my own, I try changing the subject.

“Will Cottoneye Joe – I mean, your brother B’Dah B’Dim – will he have the right medicines for Homer?” I query.

“The best tonics known to mankind are right here in the Caruncula Casabladder,” Sandy confirms, proudly. “We will soon have that curious brain and those wayward kidneys of my cousin’s functioning properly again.”

A sudden supersonic roar overhead makes me jump, and three triangular flat shadows streak above the courtyard. Across the walled city, a Doppler of automatic rifle-fire follows them, joined by a chorus of indignant shouting.

“What was that?” I ask, half-deafened by the noise.

“Those are aerial spies from the Nine a.m. Lounge,” Sandy tells me. “Every day, they fly past, hoping to find us swallowed up by the desert, so that they may move in and expand their territory. Fools. They look forward to the day they believe that the taxmen and regulators will flatten our haven of peaceful business, and turn it into some ghastly modern theme park of glass and cement. They are too narrow-minded to see that without the Eight a.m. Lounge, there is no Nine a.m.”

He reaches inside a fold of his robes. I gulp.

Am I about to be sacrificed also?

But instead of the dagger I am expecting, he produces a tiny handmade notebook – almost an exact miniature replica of Mr. Dry Senior’s diary!

He turns it reverently in his fingers. It is only about an inch tall.

“You will take this micro-text to the Nine a.m. Lounge,” he states. It does not sound like a request. “There, you will give it to our contact in the Dry family empire. He will know what to do.”

Oh, my God – I’m being press-ganged into becoming a spy!

“But…” I begin, as he presses the small leather-bound book into my hand and closes my fingers around it. “Who? How will I tell?”

Before Sandy can speak again, there is a crash in the wisteria behind him, as something falls heavily from the roof. We both turn to view the damage.

A dusty shape groans, and tries to stand upright.

I’d recognise that brown Christian Audigier hooded jacket with the gold skull motif on anywhere…

“Luke!” I shout, as Sandy’s scimitar finds his sword-hand again, prepared to strike.

Our Nigerian taxi-driver – and thief, Mr. Lukan – leaps free of the shrubbery, eyes widening wildly. From a standing jump, he avoids the sweep of Sandy al Dj’eBraah’s blade, flying onto the uppermost rim of the stone fountain.

“Sarah!” he cries out to me, running around the narrow circumference to evade the slashing thrusts, kicking up diamond-like droplets of water from the shallow marble bowl. “It’s not what you think!”

“You stole the clockwork hand!” I shout back at him. “That was given to me to look after!”

“You don’t understand!” he yells, on his second or third lap of the fountain. “It doesn’t belong…”

He is interrupted by a second flying shadow. From the terracotta tiled roof of Casabladder, a glistening flash of bare-torsoed wiry muscle and dark Naval uniform trousers leaps, coiled like a spring, and lands with a menacing splash – right in the marble alongside.

My heart implodes. Oh boy – Ace Bumgang sober

“Cough it up, dude,” Ace says, without any attempt at preliminary Machiavellian wordplay.

Luke curses, and jumps the opposite way, desperately. Fear propels him to the far side of the roof, where he barely grabs the guttering before scrambling upward the rest of the way, and disappearing across the protesting clay tiles.

“Ace!” I cry. He glances down at me briefly, muscles twitching and ready, like an Adonis on Aspartame. My heart is using my uvula as a trapeze! I try to swallow it back down. “Ace – who’s looking after the camels?”

Nice, Sarah Bellum, says my self-esteem – putting my ego into a headlock and drop-kicking it into my large intestine. Show him where your priorities lie, why don’t you?

“Carvery and Amiira,” he replies, flatly. He shrugs to flex his shoulders, and clicks his neck. “Stay there, I’m going after Luke.”

And he jumps clear across the square to the other rooftop, landing with both feet on the tiles before running after the taxi-driver, in pursuit.

“They must be stopped!” Sandy gasps as they depart, sheathing his sword. “It is forbidden. There will be uproar! The hounds will be unleashed!”

“Let me guess,” I say, once my heart has recovered from Ace’s energetic display. I wave my hand in the direction he has just taken. “Treason?”

“Yes! You have a keen mind, Sarah Bellum!” Sandy claps me on the shoulder, almost knocking me over. “But not by Mr. Bumgang…”

“I meant Luke – for stealing the clockwork hand!” I interrupt, trying to explain.

“No, no, Miss Bellum!” Sandy is almost frothing at the beard. “Our sister Amiira has been left alone with the camels – and Mr. Slaughter! No chaperone! It is forbidden!”

“Really?” I exclaim, but he is already ahead of me. I hurry after him, back into the bar.

Ooohh – I wonder which bits of Carvery they’ll cut off first?? I hope we’re not too late to see that…

District 13/Banlieue 13 Ultimatum original trailer (en Francais) – Salut! 🙂

More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

Also available for all other devices, and online reading, on Smashwords

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Casabladder: A Zombie Parody

Star Wars vs. Yolanda Be Cool – We No Speak Cantina mash-up

Presently, Sandy emerges from the surgery, and his face is as grave as a four-by-eight hole in the ground.

“Homer has had quite a booboo on the old noggin!” he announces. “My brother A’Bandaiid is doing his best, but he needs stronger medicine, to reduce the risk of water-on-the-brain. I will have to go to the Caruncula, in the Spice Market. Miss Bellum – you will do me the honour of accompanying me there!”

“I will?” I ask, nonplussed.

“Your companions Mr. Bumgang and Mr. Slaughter will guard the camels, and my fine cousin Crispin will stay with his brother,” Sandy explains. “It may be necessary – Crispin has been researching a cure, you know,” he adds, confidentially.

Yes – that I most certainly know…

I look at Crispin, who turns his face away from me, and stalks inside the surgery without a word.

My heart sinks, bootwards. Still not talking to me, then… only the welcome emergence of Ace and Carvery in turn halts my dejectedly blood-pumping organ on its descent.

“You heard the gossip in the surgery?” Sandy asks them, and they nod. “Good men. Keep those eyes peeled! Come, Miss Bellum!”

Oh – the gossip…

“What is happening here?” I ask, scampering to keep up with Asum al Dj’eBraah – I mean, Sandy’s longer stride. “You haven’t told me what this gossip is – only something about thieves…”

“Treason, Miss Bellum!” Sandy hisses, in a stage whisper. He takes an impossibly unpredictable route through the dusty labyrinth of streets, as if following an inner compass, twisting and turning until I feel like a Whirling Dervish. “But we cannot talk here. The walls have earwigs, as you say!”

I nod. I’ve seen enough wildlife already today not to doubt that in the slightest. Any ‘earwigs’ being casually (or mistakenly) referred to, most probably occupy that context with maximum presence and ferocity.

“The Caruncula is a safe meeting-place,” he continues. “Here, people from all over come to buy and barter goods, in exchange for a quiet corner and a bar tab.”

We cross a square to a white pillared façade, above which – out-of-place, it seems – is a neon sign, reading Casabladder.

Sandy points at the signwriting. “My brother, the owner, also calls it The Wee House. From the Scots, you understand. Be careful, though! Mercenaries visit, and sometimes have scores to settle.”

We go through the arched doorway. The layout is open-plan, the bar in the centre and potted plants all around, with a pianist and woodwind players on a podium to our right. But what could easily be an elegant corner of The Ritz or Savoy Hotel is rendered seedy by the buzz of the eclectic clientele – arguing, bartering, dealing and partaking in every corner.

“I am sick of diamonds!” I hear a rotund man grumble, as he tosses something bright and shiny back across the table at his unfortunate zombie companion – who looks starved, wearing only rags with his lopsided turban. “Everybody brings diamonds. Nothing but cheap mistress-magnets. Show me something new…”

Distracted by the impromptu sideshow, I walk straight into a wall of scented linen robes.

“Of all the elbow-joints in all of the dive bars in the world, you have to walk into mine?” a voice exclaims.

“Sarah Bellum,” Sandy says, catching my arm as the man turns, drawing himself up to an impressive six foot six height, examining the damage done to his robe by the spilled Champagne. “This is my brother, the owner of Casabladder. May I present to you B’Dah B’Dim al Dj‘eBraah – but the customers know him as Cottoneye Joe.”

B’Dah B’Dim – or Cottoneye Joe – looks down at me, his eyes glittering like polished granite.

“So this is Sarah Bellummm,” he rumbles, and I feel it right down to my curling toes. He beckons to the bartender. “A Sloe Gin Sling for the lady! And another bottle of Champagne.”

“My brother, we need medicine,” Sandy tells him – although a Sloe Gin Sling is more like something I’ve definitely felt was missing in the last three hours. “Homer has had an accident in the Well of Our Souls.”

“That Well of Our Souls is a liability,” grunts Cottoneye Joe. He nods to an armed attendant, who hurries away. “Remind me again why we do not dynamite it?”

“Someone did, remember?” Sandy hisses, in a low voice. “And someone else was not pleased!”

I wonder if that was what caused the underwater rock-fall we had to negotiate our way through… and who might not be pleased…? But before I can expand on those thoughts, the largest, frostiest, most delicious-looking Sloe Gin Sling is placed on the bar in front of me.

Oh, my – never mind the Well of Our Souls, I’d walk across broken glass, hot coals and any number of even hotter corpses to get to one of those…

“Miss Bellummm,” Cottoneye Joe says courteously, passing it into my eager hands. He gives Sandy a filled Champagne glass, before raising his own, in salute. “To my many guests.”

“Here is looking at your kids!” Sandy toasts me effervescently, before drinking.

“Er…” I cough slightly, my mouth desert-dry – but a gulp from the Gin Sling is wonderful. “Thank you.”

“Play something special for my brothers!” Cottoneye Joe hails the band. “Play ‘Sign O’The Times’…”

Strange choice, I think, as the band strikes up anew, with the eponymous hit by sex-thimble Prince. Rather melancholy… but the clientele seem to indulge their host, and merely nod and smile benevolently at him, raising glasses in turn, or adopting distantly introspective expressions of empathy.

How very curious…

Cottoneye Joe’s attendant returns, with a case. He opens it upon the bar. Sandy and his taller brother inspect the contents.

I peer over Sandy’s shoulder. It contains many small brown glass bottles and vials.

“Gizzard of Vulture?” Cottoneye Joe suggests. “Sweetbreads of Mongoose?”

“Something a little stronger, I fear!” Sandy concedes. “It is the water on the brain we need to divert. And a tonic for the kidneys, perhaps…”

“Hmmm.” Cottoneye Joe’s deep rumble curls my toes again, and I knock back another huge slug of Gin Sling to try and unwind. “A dose of Tree-Frog Venom? Mixed with Tongue of Vampire Bat, perhaps…?”

They are discussing medicines, I guess. The drink seems to be bypassing my brain and heading straight for my lower limbs, and I find myself sinking into a seat at a small table.

My thoughts return reluctantly to Crispin, waiting for the medicines with Homer at the surgery. Damn. How did I upset him? I mentioned Mr. Wheelie-Bin at the body farm, that was all – and he acted as though he was jealous! All we were doing was discussing his job offer to me – and he thought I was turning it down on the grounds of his being dead – and I tried to give him a compliment… He took it completely the wrong way…

The band plays on.

Some say a man ain’t happy truly, until a man truly dies, oh why?

But if he believes he has so much to offer – how can he be threatened by the thought of my talking to a rapidly-liquefying corpse in a plastic wheelie-bin? Crispin can’t have any real insecurities, surely?

I let out a morose sigh, and a shadow falls across my table.

“Sarah Bellum,” a stranger’s voice jolts me from my musings. “I was just here hoping to see your boss.”

“My boss?” I repeat. “It’s too late to see my boss. Pizza Heaven doesn’t re-open until noon.”

The voice chuckles, and its owner seats himself opposite, uninvited. I can’t tell if he is a zombie or otherwise. What I can see of his face through his turban and headdress is badly scarred, and the skin of his hands has a green tinge, mottled with purple papillomas.

“You don’t fool me, Miss Bellum,” he warns. “I know you are here with Crispin Dry. If you give me what he owes, perhaps I will forget the fact.”

What? I’m horrified. Crispin has unpaid debts?!

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say, as coolly as I can muster. I wish Sandy or Cottoneye Joe would turn and see my little predicament. Even more, I wish Ace and Carvery were here, instead of camel-herding. They love any excuse for a bar-brawl. “I’m a delivery-girl for Pizza Heaven, and I have no idea what or who you’re referring to.”

“Don’t play games with me, Miss Bellum,” the stranger continues. “You are a secretary for Crispin Dry at Dry Goods Inc, and a traitor. More fast-food delivery boys and girls have disappeared before you than you can possibly imagine…”

A traitor?? What the Hell?

“The more you try to convince me, Mister Scary Weird Green Guy,” I tell him, trying to raise my voice a little to attract attention, “the more your words will slip straight over my head.”

Finally – Sandy turns and sees the stranger sitting across from me, and reacts. And what a reaction!

With a roar of rage, Sandy draws his scimitar – and with a dull thud, the stranger’s head bounces off the table – and rolls onto the floor…

A terrible silence rolls out across the bar.

“Nothing to see here,” Cottoneye Joe announces, and waves to the band to continue playing. He claps his hands to signal the staff. “Clean-up at table seven!”

An opening scene from ‘Casablanca’ with Humphrey Bogart – Enjoy 🙂

More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

Also available for all other devices, and online reading, on Smashwords

Sects and the Citadel, Too: A Zombie Parody

 

The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

My mount gallops determinedly through the heat-haze and dust-devils, and gradually slows as the reassuring rainbow array of tents becomes clearer. The voices of stallholders and market-traders can be heard carrying over the barren sands.

But it is only a precursor of the backdrop. What I thought was the main encamped settlement, are merely the early birds, the eager beavers awaiting visitors to what I realise is a whole city inside the terracotta walls beyond. I can see plumes of fragrant smoke, hear the call of exotic captive wildlife, and the chanting of early-morning prayers from the minarets within. The scent of sandalwood and frankincense wafts by, on the arid desert air.

Maneless Camel-Eating Lions forgotten, I am entranced as my beast’s stride shortens to a less uncomfortable lope. Everything shines or gleams or sparkles. It’s like finding a multifaceted crystal prism boutique, in an oasis of coloured silks, in the middle of a nomad’s land.

The traders are as wrapped up against the sun’s glare as Crispin’s cousin, Asum ‘Sandy’ al Dj’eBraah. I can’t tell through their robes whether any of them are zombies… although my stomach’s reaction is telling me that someone is most definitely selling Fried Spiced Brains on a Stick somewhere close by. Hmmm – what was the last thing I ate…?

“Something smells good!” Sandy’s voice interrupts my thoughts, catching up. “No wonder the lions are lurking. Possibly a banquet later!”

“For the lions?” I ask, dubiously – but he just grins.

“We shall see!” he says, jovially. “Whenever a great rumour circulates here, we plan for the best possible outcome. A celebration. No one can gossip on an empty stomach. Or revel. And if the gods declare war, no-one can fight or die well on an empty stomach either!”

“What gods?” I enquire. “Have you seen the great river-god Atum too?”

“Atum? He is whitebait, compared to some of the demons I have seen!” Sandy chuckles. The others trot up behind him. “But they are not our concern today. Thieves are our concern! And catching them is always a cause for celebration! Also, for the lions. There are always leftovers, after the Surgeons of Justice have had their piece.”

“Are we going to stick around long enough to see that?” Carvery cuts in. “Because I don’t want to miss all the cool stuff. We had hardly any time at all in Madam Dingdong’s Bring Your Own Towel Sauna and Spa earlier.”

“And I’m sobering up,” Ace warns. “I’m actually starting to feel like I could use a coffee right now. That’s not good. I’ll be walking straight next.”

Aha – that explains his Ace-is-in-charge episode, just recently. I get a little involuntary tremble of excitement. Ooh. Ace sober. That’s something I hadn’t considered as a possibility before, in any of my fantasies… imagine what his lap-times as The Stig would be like on Top Gear, driving under the influence of only coffee and sobriety?

“Well, you men have had no fun yet at all, I can see!” Sandy agrees, as my thoughts spin dizzily. “But first, we will see to Homer. My strangest cousin is not himself after a swim among the Squidmorph eggs, it seems.”

“I’m glad you noticed that too,” Crispin remarks. “Perhaps he could be examined for parasites while recovering.”

Oh… we exchange glances. Of course – Homer isn’t wearing any trousers to display telltale holes. If a squidling had taken a fancy to his pants-wearing area as their potential incubator-host, they wouldn’t even have had to nudge him first to get his attention… they’d only have had to lean in his general direction…

So we head off between the tents, with their mind-boggling display of wares – everything from carpets to pots and pans, jewellery and footwear, to confectionery and hot food.

I’m sure I smell the familiar barbecue scent of the chicken wings I ate at Crispin’s last night, causing a blush to steal across my face.

God, I could eat him alive. Or dead. I’m not fussy.

I wonder if it’s possible to sperm-jack a zombie? Maybe so… and if he’s still keen on that sleeping-with-a-virgin-cure idea later on, I might actually get something out of the deal…

Particularly if that crazy witch-doctoring notion about a ‘cure’ actually works.

Although it would of course contravene all of my Forensic Anthropology dissertation research. And might get me thrown out of the Germaine Greer Readers’ Society at Cramps University.

Gosh, having interesting sectarian morals instead of a rabid sex-life is such a burden! Just think, if I’d only got drunk on Fresher’s week instead of working at Pizza Heaven to pay my half of the rent, I could now be knocked up, knocked about, and nailed under the floorboards, just like my floozy housemate Miss Thing – whatever her name is. Exciting, experienced, and dead to the world. A notch on any number of sports jocks’ baseball bats. Just a notch, of course, not a name. And possibly some deadly splinters.

But it looks like any opportunity of mine to play fast and loose with zombie anatomy, risky though that may be, is a long way off yet. Particularly with Ace and Carvery still hanging around, knocking ideas into my libido like a Newton’s Cradle of live machismo. Gaahh. Damn them.

I need a King Solomon to slice me in two, so there’s enough to go around. Or maybe three, with room for the zombie experiments as well…

As if reading my mind, Sandy draws his scimitar, approaching the high wooden gateway of the citadel.

“Stay close behind me,” he warns. “These predators will separate the old and the weak, and before you know it, you will buy much furniture, and more camels than your armies can handle!”

“I’m not lifting anything with more than two legs,” Carvery remarks.

“Two legs or less,” Ace adds, meaningfully.

“Dude, you did one with three earlier,” Carvery reminds him. “Lady Glandula de Bathtub.”

“That was no leg,” says Ace. “That was a big alien sucker tentacle.”

“Maybe it was a squidling up her,” muses Carvery. “You did a zombie queen with one up the spout already.”

“Nothing new about that,” Ace shrugs. “Your mum, for example.”

“No, the Squidmorph tentacles were different,” I interrupt, before I can stop myself. “They’ve got hooks, not suckers…”

They both stare at me.

“I’m watching you, Sarah Bellum,” Carvery says, sharply. “If you so much as fart a tiny tentacle, or burp black ink, you’re going home in a tin pail.”

We stick close together, aware of the eyes of all stallholders and storekeepers on us, as we navigate our way through the baked-clay streets. It feels like vultures are watching our passage, waiting for one of us to fall back, or take a wrong turn…

“Here,” Sandy announces, leaping from his camel, outside an arch in the narrow passageway. It is curtained by an ornate rug. He taps the tip of his scimitar lightly on a bell attached to the outside wall. “We will see if the Doctor is in.”

Momentarily, the rug is tweaked aside, and a pair of shrewd black eyes assesses us, from inside a clean white linen yashmak.

“Amiira!” Sandy bows. “Is our brother the Doctor at home? Poor Homer has had a nasty turn, in the Well of Our Souls.”

The lady in white nods and steps back, gesturing for him to enter. He beckons to Ace and Carvery, who help to lift Homer down off the camel, and carry him inside.

I’m left outside the surgery with Crispin, holding the camels.

“How do you like it so far, Miss Bellummm?” he asks presently, after fidgetting for a while, and clearing his throat.

“What?” I ask, obtusely. “The Eight a.m. Lounge? Um – it’s very hot…”

The Naval uniform I’m still dressed in feels as though it’s been felted onto me, in the heat after the depths of the well.

“I meant more…” He pauses and scratches his head. “The thought of being my new secretary.”

“Oh – that…” I recall our half-finished conversation, awkwardly. “I think my housemate Whatserface really had her heart set on the job, to be honest. I’m quite happy delivering pizzas for a living.”

“Really?” he asks, surprised.

“Why?” I snap. “What’s weird about that?”

He shrugs.

“Everything?” he suggests, helplessly.

How could I expect him to understand… the freedom. The open road. The looks on customers’ faces, when their food arrives… especially Ace’s, when I’ve been waiting for him outside Bumgang & Sons’ Breaker’s Yard unannounced, with a Chinese Meat Feast and Garlicky Dough Balls… the exhilaration of chasing him down the road when he leaves by the other gate!

“You wouldn’t understand, Crispin,” I sigh. “You’re rich. And privileged…”

“And dead?” he suggests.

“No!” I cry, horrified by his dejected expression. “No, no! Some of the best people I know of are dead. At the Body Farm. Mr. Wheelie-Bin, for example – such a good listener…”

“I see.” Crispin sounds a little colder, and his back goes stiffer, as he stares at me.

“But not such a good talker,” I finish, wretchedly.

But the damage is done. Crispin says no more to me, as we wait with the camels outside the surgery. Not even when Carvery’s camel decides to sit down heavily on my foot, parping all the way, like a bean-fed brass section.

Damn. Damn, damn, damn…

Meeting in the marketplace for Carrie, in ‘Sex & The City 2’ – Enjoy 🙂

More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

Also available for all other devices, and online reading, on Smashwords

Lobules of Areola: A Zombie Parody

Sting vs. Mami – Desert Rose remix/mash-up…

The approaching silhouettes jog towards us, as fast and steadily as horses, and yet with all the co-ordination of string-puppets. Their joints seem to bend in all directions at once, their feet clomp heavily in the desert dust like suet puddings being thrown against a wall, and their noses point towards the sky with all of the arrogance (and smell) of the Great Unwashed.

Crispin looks on fondly. I suppose with their wobbly hanging necks and lofty attitude, the camels do have a little in common with his pet cockerel and brood, back at the mansion.

“Mr. Dry!” a voice hails, from the leading beast. “What a pleasure that you bring company to see us on this fine day!”

As he draws closer, I can make out a tall figure in black robes from head to foot, with barely his eyebrows visible inside the turban and headscarf. In fact he even has dark glasses on over that. A long curved scimitar is in his belt, and a large semi-automatic rifle is strapped to his shoulder.

“My cousin,” Crispin says. “Asum al Dj’eBraah.”

“But my friends call me Sandy!” the man booms. The camel sags, all knees and hips at the same time, and its legs concertina beneath it, allowing the robed individual to leap off energetically. “I see you penetrated the Well of Our Souls to get here. Are the Squidmorphs hatching?”

“Very much so,” Crispin nods, scratching the hole in the seat of his trousers.

“Our souls were very nearly penetrated as well,” Ace agrees.

Asum al Dj’eBraah leans over the edge, cupping his ear, with a critical expression.

“Yes,” he says, straightening up. “They sing for their salvation! But by the sound of it, no luck today. They will be dead larval vulture pickings by noon.”

Vultures?! Eewww – are there no cute fluffy animals anymore? Or are those elusive lovable critters just a Facebook fantasy? Everything here, unless it’s a chicken, seems to be a slavering bloodthirsty monster…

“Cool,” says Carvery Slaughter, the biggest sentient bloodthirsty monster on the current page of events. “I’d like to see that.”

“I think you may enjoy the Noonday Lounge in that case, Mr. Slaughter,” Crispin acknowledges. “But that is four hours away. Let us enjoy what the Eight a.m. Lounge has to offer first.”

Asum – or Sandy – peels off his Ray-Bans and unwinds his headscarf, greeting us with a wide, toothsome grin. He is a handsome, aquiline man with brooding dark eyes, no doubt a legacy of Rudolph Valentino’s creation. The kind of model male that women hate to love, and men love to hate.

Didn’t they call him ‘Vaselino’? I’m sure I read that on Wiki

“It is quite a circus you have been missing so far this morning, Crispin!” he announces, and seems to end every statement with an exclamation point. “We have seen robbery, trespassing and worse. The Surgeons of Justice are looking forward to collecting some hands today!”

“Hands?” I whisper, in enquiry.

“The hands of thieves,” Crispin returns quietly. “Not the clockwork variety. But be careful. Where there are thieves, there are also my grandfather Higham Dry Senior’s men, collecting bounty. It can create conflicts of interest between the Lounges. My grandfather wanting complete subjects for his flying experiments. The court-appointed Surgeons wanting their dues first, in guilty body-parts. This is why the bounty hunters are all a hand short already. The Surgeons of Justice insisted on a demonstration of goodwill, to collaborate with inter-Lounge criminal proceedings. A thief must be proved to have stolen from my grandfather first, to be extradited intact.”

“What about Mr. Lukan?” I ask. “Who has he stolen from, technically?”

“Technically?” Crispin repeats, pondering. “Well, technically – YOU, Miss Bellummmm. Seeing as you were looking after the golden clockwork hand at the time.”

Me?! I gulp. What sort of punishments lie in wait for a criminal taking Dry property from a pizza-delivery girl? Or possibly, even – from a just-employed secretary to one of the Dry family? God – my housemate Miss Fuck-Nuts is going to be pissed over that one, if she ever wakes up… she’ll accuse me of trying to steal Carvery Slaughter from her next…

“All right, Sarah,” Carvery interrupts my thoughts, immediately putting psychotropic pictures in my mind of his consent to the concept. “Let’s see you wrap your legs around this great big hairy thing.”

“Hmmm?” I look over at him, nonplussed, to see him patting the neck of a large white camel – which appears to be chewing tobacco, drooling yellow slime. “Oh – well, it can’t be worse than riding a Pizza Heaven scooter…”

Oh, but it is. Clambering aboard, I lurch into the air on what feels like a drunken Bucking Bronco.

Thank God I’ve already been sick…

“Well done!” shouts Sandy. Homer is hoisted across his pommel, thrown under a blanket to shade his mottled gray wizened skin from the baking sun. “We will head straight for refreshments, in the Spice Market!”

I glance warily over at Crispin, adjusting himself in the saddle of his mount. Worrying that perhaps he looks a bit too uncomfortable. I notice Ace and Carvery nodding at one another also, in a meaningful fashion.

“And then we will visit the tailors!” Sandy continues, prodding his ride into forward motion. “Get you some new breeches made up, Crispin!”

“With an elasticated maternity panel?” Ace suggests, nastily. “Feel any kicking and squirming yet, Crispin old buddy?”

“If he starts looking at little knitted squidling-rompers in the market, I’m out of here,” Carvery concurs.

…Maybe Carvery Slaughter wouldn’t be such a great candidate to sperm-jack, I find myself thinking, unwittingly. My mind wanders further down this precarious footpath of fantasy. You’d expect even the most unwilling of DNA-donors to have a heart, at the end of the day. But perhaps it’s not the case… Ace sounds like he’d be more sympathetic, though… he might be the sort to pick up where a less responsible man left off…

My camel stumbles, and I pitch forward onto its neck. It continues onwards regardless, as I slip round to cling underneath, terrified of tangling with those bulletproof knobbly knees.

“Sarah, stop showing off,” Ace remarks. “You look like a sloth.”

“Down!” I try to command the camel, hanging on grimly. “Stop! Lie down!”

Eventually, the beast seems to get the idea – or I just wear down its patience – and it stoops slowly to the ground again, with a flatulent groan. I scrabble to get back on board, before it can change its mind.

Now – what was I thinking about? I squint to focus on my travel-companions’ receding backs, as they vanish into the shimmering heat-haze. Oh, yes – who would I rather be left holding the Squidmorph-baby by…?

Well, to be honest, being abandoned by any of them would be considered a win. It would suggest at least some sort of interaction had occurred previously.

Which is a hundred percent more than I’ve racked up in my life so far…

My camel is in no hurry to catch up. I try a lethargic bounce up-and-down on the blankets, and a kick of my heels.

“Yah!” I shout, because that’s what they say in the movies. Hoping it means ‘Go Faster, Stupid!’

But my ride just sighs, and breaks wind again morosely.

“God, no wonder nothing grows around here,” I grumble. “I think I’ll name you ‘Captain Farty-Pants’…”

“Sarah’s got a squidling!” I hear Ace shouting, up ahead. “I can hear her talking to it, and thinking of baby-names!”

“I was talking to the camel!” I shout back. “How do you make it go faster?”

“You impersonate the roar of a Maneless Camel-Eating Lion!” calls out Crispin’s cousin, over his shoulder. “And then they run, like the desert storm winds!”

“What?” I cry – but am immediately drowned out by an Earth-shattering rumble directly behind me. It vibrates my toes, knocks my knees, dislocates both my hips, cracks my spine like a whip, and pops my ears, like two bullfrogs belching.

“Yes!” Crispin shouts, as I feel my animal go rigid with fright. I have the presence of mind to grab hold of the fur on the back of its neck, with both hands. “Just like that, Sarah Bellummm!”

“Good to know!” I reply in passing, as I overtake them all like a hirsute missile – hanging on for dear life.

Wow. Sandy wasn’t joking. These creatures certainly can move, when they want to…

Lawrence of Arabia, at the well (Peter O’Toole) – Enjoy 🙂

More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

Also available for all other devices, and online reading, on Smashwords

Hairy Palate and the Chamber of Secretions: A Zombie Parody

Dizzee Rascal vs. Ne-Yo – Fix Up/Beautiful Monster mash-up…

“Heads up, dudes!” Ace’s voice calls from high above. “Look sharp!”

Another rock pitches down, and scores the giant viper’s flank. Our bucket tilts nauseatingly.

I squint up at the top of the stairwell. As I guessed, Ace and Carvery Slaughter have reached the summit – and are bombarding the reptile with stony missiles.

“Pinstriped Leatherback Vipers enjoy singing, not stoning!” I yell up at them. “You’re only making things worse!”

Poor Homer N. Dry is out for the count. A dribble of blackened blood trickles from his angular gray cranium.

“Do we look like a boy band to you?” Carvery scoffs. I have to bite my tongue on that one. Girlfriend-battering psychopath Carvery Slaughter, and dodgy breaker’s yard mechanic Ace Bumgang together look like any girl’s poster-boy dream duo. “You want to play snake-charmer, you go ahead and sing to it!”

I gulp and look towards the viper’s angry face as it curls its body around the rickety bucket. One tooth broken already by the stock of Carvery’s shotgun, its eyes remind me of Kaa from The Jungle Book – swirling pools of deadly hypnotic venom, in a head the size of an inflatable dinghy. Long whiskers trail from the corners of its mouth, as in the renderings of Oriental dragons.

Not as big as the river-god Atum, by a long shot – but could easily pass for his evil gamete…

Oh, God – the only singer I can impersonate is a Singer sewing-machine!

I clear my throat, only succeeding in nearly choking on the lump of rising bile at the back of my tongue – and open my mouth…

But instead of my usual Enter Sandman opener I usually attempt alone on Nintendo Wii X-Factor, an ethereal crooning sound echoes around the bucket. It envelops me like a tangible jade mist, joined by a tinkling of the most delicate bells.

What the hell? Am I channelling Enya?

The snake pauses in its constriction manoeuvres around the woodwork containing us, and tilts its head, questing the air.

The choral vocals soar up the underground stairwell.

“It’s beautiful…” I hear myself breathe, drawn to lean over the edge of the rim, straining to hear more. I feel as though I want the whole song to climb up inside me, possess me…

Crispin’s hand closes around my arm.

“It is the hatching Squidmorphs, Sarah Bellummm,” he says, gravely. “Do not let their call hypnotise you.”

Ooohhhh… I recoil from the edge slowly. Climb up and possess me, indeed! But surely, something so magnificent could not be produced by something so vile?

One of the choral voices breaks off abruptly, with a piercing, piteous scream. The viper shakes its head as if dislodging water, or slowly awaking from a trance.

I’m sure I just heard the swisshhh-thuddd of a harpoon gun, far below…

Crispin tugs on the pulley arrangement, and our carrier jolts swiftly skywards again, overtaking the head of the snake, as it moves groggily to tighten its coils around the bucket.

Swisshhhh-thuddd!

Another horrific scream punctuates the singing rising up from the inky black water. And with a deep, indignant hiss, the Pinstriped Leatherback Viper darts after us in pursuit.

“What’s that?!” I shout, as we jar to an unexpected halt. “Why have we stopped?”

“Something is stuck in the ropes, Sarah Bellummmm,” Crispin reports. “It looks like…”

“Snake fang,” Carvery calls out, and drops another rock, missing the dodging and weaving viper. “My bad. Sorry about that.”

Crispin reaches up and works it free. Good Lord – it’s longer than his arm…

Released once more, the ratchet system grinds and cranks us further up the rope.

Only a few more storeys to go… A formation of five Bat-Eater Owls barrels past, picking off prey from the underside of the stone steps – and turning, flies straight into the gape of the one-toothed snake.

Swallowed whole!

“Screw this,” I hear Ace muttering overhead, and see him unhitching his own harpoon gun and fiddling around with the tip. “Carver – give me a spark.”

Carvery takes out his Taser. What are they doing?

Three more owls circle around us, and as the largest swoops under the stonework and emerges again with claws full of bat, there is a twanggg from above. A bright streak blazes down from the sky, and Ace’s harpoon, ignited, neatly pierces the owl’s outstretched wing.

“Ohh!” I gasp in empathy. “It’s hurt!”

“Yeah, I hope so,” Ace says, grimly.

The owl shrieks, flapping on the end of the harpoon and wire tether, its wings starting to smoulder. Its momentum carries it in a continuation of a wide arc, straight towards the awaiting maw of the giant viper…

And just as its prehistoric jaws close – Carvery stabs the Taser into the extended cable.

A lightning bolt courses down the wire, directly into the locked mandible. The viper freezes in midair, suddenly ramrod straight – and smoke pours from those acidic eyes.

“Stop it!” I shout. The stench is terrible.

Crispin snatches up the broken snake-fang, and swings it like a cutlass. The tether breaks free – and gently, the Leatherback Viper falls down, down – down into the darkness of the underground Squidmorph nest.

“Well?” Ace asks, as he and Carvery seize the ropes and help to guide the bucket up over the edge. “Did you want our help or not?”

“You didn’t have to do it in quite such a nasty way!” I snap, scrambling out of the wooden contraption.

And then I’m completely overwhelmed by the sensation of dry ground underfoot. Oh – blessed sand. And rocks! How glorious do those sun-baked stones look?

“Thank you, gentlemen,” Crispin says, much more courteously, as he lifts his brother Homer out of the bucket. “No, Mr. Slaughter, I do not think my brother requires electroconvulsive resuscitation just yet. Perhaps just a cool shady spot in which to recover. I think it best if we take him straight to the Spice Market, where he can be treated with a milder form of tonic.”

“I’ll take a large Gin in mine,” I burble, having found the friendliest-looking rock I can, and hugging it to my cheek, like a long-lost relative. Terra Firma… Mmmmmm…

“Something was attacking the Squidmorphs,” Carvery observes. “Didn’t you hear them hollering after the singing? That snake would have had you for an entrée.”

“Maybe something was protecting us from the Squidmorphs, in case we fell,” I say, haughtily, stroking my new pet rock. “Did that occur to you?”

“Then why didn’t it start sooner?” he wants to know. “Like while we were down there when they were hatching, and trying to get into all of our pants?”

“Sarah,” Ace says slowly. “Why are you nuzzling that stone?”

“I’m just glad to be alive,” I remark, and toss it aside dismissively. A dull thunk, and a groan from Homer behind me cause me a moment’s embarrassment. “But anywho – what’s this Spice Market? Are really in the Eight a.m Lounge at last, Crispin?”

We survey the landscape. Another desert, with just few scrubby bushes, and some distant mountains against the clouds of a storm on the horizon… but as a heat-haze shifts, and the dust blows aside – a dazzling array of bright colours appears, thrown across the russet sand like a patchwork quilt. Tents of all shapes and sizes – hundreds of them, as far as the eye can see – and as my own eyes adjust, the equally russet domes, walls and minarets of a permanent settlement amongst them – almost invisible by their camouflage.

“We are here,” Crispin confirms. “Welcome to the Eight a.m. Lounge – and here is also the most likely place we shall find Mr. Lukan has absconded to – with the golden clockwork hand.”

Oh, my word – however shall we find him in this? It’ll be like looking for a needle in a haystack…

A shape starts to emerge from the middle distance, appearing out of the reflective air distortion of a mirage like something from Star Trek. It splits into several shapes as it approaches, wobbling and lurching in a very familiar fashion.

“Our transport has arrived,” says Crispin, approvingly. “Try not to look them directly in the teeth.”

“No worries,” Ace grunts. “Same applies when meeting Carver’s mum.”

“Your mum’s teeth are still in a cup in my bathroom, Ace,” Carvery quips.

“Where’s the rest of her?” I ask, automatically.

“You should know – you’ve been sitting on her face,” Carvery replies, just as quickly. “While you’ve been eating your sandwiches under the silver birch tree, at the Body Farm.”

A less hairy-lipped serpent in the original Chamber of Secrets – Enjoy 🙂

More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

Also available for all other devices, and online reading, on Smashwords

Beetlejugular: A Zombie Parody

Kylie mash-up – Can’t Get Flawless Out of My Head…

“Homer!” I sob. “Oh, no – Homer…”

I feel Crispin’s hands on my shoulders from behind, and am convinced that I’m about to join his brother at the bottom of the stairwell.

“Homer has survived far worse, Miss Bellummm,” Crispin’s grating zombie monotone says reassuringly – and most unexpectedly. “Do not waste your concentration. We must still make it out of here ourselves…”

“Big snake,” Carvery’s voice warns, from higher up on the steps. “Twelve o’clock.”

“I thought it was only Eight o’clock?” I ask.

“Dead ahead, Dumbass,” he calls out, sarkily.

Hhhhhhhuuuuuuuusssssssssss… The sinister hissing takes on an evil undercurrent, and a swishing noise close to my head sounds like a whip being coiled, preparing to strike…

“Shoot it!” Ace Bumgang tells him.

“Gun’s still too wet.” Carvery shakes it, then changes his grip to hold it by the barrels, and swings it outwards sharply. It connects with something, with a dull smack that sounds like a cricket bat hitting an old leather punch-bag. “Think I just broke one of its teeth, though.”

“Quickly!” Crispin urges. “While it is disorientated!”

We duck under the coils of the giant snake and hurry upwards. But as I scramble to keep up with Ace, I hear a muffled thud and a scrape behind me.

“Crispin!” I shout over my shoulder – just in time to see him swing out into the yawning chasm of the stairwell, suspended by one ankle in a loop of snake-tail.

“Keep going, Sarah Bellummm!” he orders – and is dropped into the darkness, after his brother.

“Nooooo…!” I cry out.

Carvery and Ace are already far ahead, almost a complete circuit of the stairwell above me. Only a few more storeys, and they’ll reach the top… I try to increase my own effort.

And trip…

I stamp my foot forward to regain my balance, and the stone slab slides smoothly and horrifyingly free of the rock wall, pitching down into the black hole below.

And my balance goes with it…

Flailing helplessly in thin air, I find myself falling – yet again!

Great, I think. Pizza girl about to make giant pizza-topping splat, on top of double-decker zombie pizza-base…

…Or worse, I realise – remembering the hatching Squidmorphs in the water below. If my buttocks could clench any tighter, I’d probably turn inside-out.

It would save THEM the trouble altogether…

Then the air leaves my body abruptly – at both ends – as I hit something wooden and precarious.

“What the…” I gasp.

Gooooood,” a familiar voice greets me.

The bucket – for the well!

“This is a bucket?” I say in amazement, sitting up. “How much water were these people using?!”

Homer glances back at me. He is leaning over the side, reaching down for something.

“As Homer says, good of you to join us, Sarah Bellummmm,” Crispin’s voice echoes around the dark walls. “Perhaps you could help him pull me up, and we will see about getting the ratchet system working again.”

I crawl quickly forward, and lean over the edge. I grab Crispin’s other arm, and we haul him safely inside the giant bucket with us.

“Thank you,” he says, giving me a pat on the shoulder, and heads straight for the lever and linkage in the centre. “Let us hope we catch up with the others quickly. Leatherback Vipers have very bad tempers once aroused. Keep a look out in case either of them decide to join us as well.”

He frees the lever and winds a handle, and gradually we start to ascend up the creaking rope.

“Is it always this hard to get to the Eight a.m. Lounge?” I ask him.

“Oh, there are other ways,” he replies, dismissively. “But it is rush hour, you understand. I never take the busiest routes.”

“You mean all this time we could have been sitting in some nice quiet traffic jam, instead of risking our lives down here?” I demand, shocked.

“I didn’t say they were safer routes,” Crispin says, mildly. “Just alternatives. If you accept the job of secretary, I will introduce you to all of the alternatives – eventually…”

My mouth gapes like a hippo’s yawn.

“You’re offering me a job?” I can barely say the words aloud. “But – it wasn’t me that was looking for a job…”

“Not you, Miss Bellummm?” Crispin looks genuinely surprised.

“No.” I shake my head. “It was my housemate – you know – Miss Numbskull? Thinks black-and-blue is the new black? Currently a corpse under your mother’s decking? She sent me to the interview in her place. I was supposed to slip you her credentials afterwards – but I forgot…”

The great squeaking and groaning bucket carries us further upward.

“You did seem very distracted, Sarah Bellummm,” he reminds me, thoughtfully.

“Yes,” I agree, only thoughtlessly, in my case. “I mean, er – well, I was rather…”

There is a snapping noise just overhead, and Crispin pushes me abruptly to the floor. The bucket rocks violently, and I just see the snake’s aggressive tail entangling in our suspension ropes, whipping wildly through the air.

“It is trying to upset us,” Crispin remarks.

“It’s more than just upsetting me!” I say indignantly.

“I meant the bucket, Sarah Bellummm,” he says.

Why is he always so calm and patient about everything?! It’s enough to make a girl scream… well – I suppose, technically he is dead. That, combined with any disposition of his OTHER than inert, would make most people scream.

I sigh, as the bucket shakes us around, like unfortunate beach cockles.

“How do you usually get past one of these Leatherback snakes, then?” I relent. Hoping there’s a simple answer.

Welllll,” he begins slowly, “they are partial to a vir…”

“Oh, God…” I groan. “Really? The old ‘virgin’ chestnut again?”

Noooo, Sarah Bellummmm,” Crispin says, aghast. “They are partial to a virtuoso singing performance. Ahem. Homer – do the honors, if you pleeease…”

Grinning in his usual too-disturbing fashion, Homer clears his throat and clings determinedly to the ropes, striking an operatic pose.

Right before a falling rock bounces off his head – and he keels over like a mining canary…

Beetlejuice ‘Beetle Snake’ scene (en Francais) – Salut! 🙂

More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

Also available for all other devices, and online reading, on Smashwords

Gnasher Nail Treasure: A Zombie Parody

Britney vs. Ke$ha – Tik Tok Three mash-up…

“Anyone fancy going back in to see if he’s all right?” Ace asks eventually.

We all stare hard into the darkening water. I dread to think how many vampire squid eggs have hatched by now, to create so much inky blackness down there.

“Maybe he needs a bit of guidance,” Carvery suggests. “Anyone got a light?”

A small part of my mostly-useless brain leaps to attention.

“Yes – yes, I have!” I fish the Trevor Baylis clockwork keyring torch out of my pocket, and wind it quickly. The light flashes randomly and intermittently, evidently a little damaged by the seawater, but I hold it close to the surface anyway – hoping that the blinking brilliance will penetrate the contaminated depths. I pray that he can see it… “Come on, Crispin…”

Ho-oooo-ome,” groans Homer, unhappily.

A scream escapes me, as a single hand bursts forth from the water, clamping firmly around my wrist.

“Pull him out!” shouts Ace. “Attaboy, Crispin…”

Between us, we haul the zombie entrepreneur Crispin Dry out onto the subterranean platform. To my secret disapointment, still fully-clothed, although his fine black suit is showing signs of wear-and-tear from squeezing through the underwater rock-slide.

“Welcome back, dude,” Carvery greets him. “You look like you just escaped from New Jersey.”

“Are you okay?” I ask. “Oh, no – you’re hurt…”

Crispin sits up and thumps himself in the chest. Water gushes out from a fresh gash in his neck, and from unseen ribcage compromises under his shirt.

“I will be fine, Sarah Bellummm,” he says, he voice croaky and bubbling. “Let us continue. We must catch up with Mr. Lukan, and hope that he is still in possession of the golden clockwork hand.”

Hope that he is still in possession of it? But I’m too concerned with Crispin’s welfare to demand any further exposition right now. We help him to his feet, and I notice Ace and Carvery immediately checking out his rear view.

“Er, Crispin – that’s a pretty big rip in the ass of your pants,” Carvery remarks. “Didn’t feel anything gnashing on your own alimentary canal while you were down there?”

“Yeah, are you sure you don’t have any Squidmorph hitch-hikers in those trousers with you?” Ace queries, speculatively. “Feeling bloated at all? Any strange cravings?”

“The only desire I feel at present is for the light of day,” says Crispin. “If you look upwards, you will see our route to the Eight a.m. Lounge from here.”

We all look up at the rickety stairwell, the steps ascending around the walls in a spiral.

“Stairs,” Ace nods. “Cool. Doesn’t look too risky.”

“They are over three thousand years old,” says Crispin proudly, and you can sense the relief in the group dissipating slightly. “This used to be a freshwater well, until the Sea Centipedes burrowed through it from the Deep Ocean Trench. There is still an ancient rope-and-bucket system you might be able to make out, about halfway up.”

“No time like the present,” Carvery mutters grimly, and leads the way to the foot of the stairs.

Ace follows, and I hurry to catch up. My torchlight beam clicks on, evidently having dried out by now – and I shine it onto the mossy stone slab of the first step.

“Doesn’t look too bad,” I echo Ace, tentatively.

And promptly slip on the slimy green coating, cracking myself on the knee. Owww

“Mind the weed,” says Carvery. “Bit slippy.”

“Thanks,” I grumble, and pick my way more carefully upwards.

There is no handrail – only a knotted, mouldy old rope slung through rusted iron hooks at waist-height around the wall as we climb. I reach for it only when footholds are uncertain, as it seems equally hazardous, and not likely to bear the weight of much more than a death-sliding mouse.

“What happens if someone comes down the other way?” I ask, all too aware of how narrow our worn path is, at frighteningly frequent intervals.

“The usual protocol is a Fight to the Death,” Crispin replies, from the rear. “But at certain points there is space enough for a polite nod, and sometimes a handshake.”

“What about creepy-crawlies?” Carvery enquires from up ahead. “Do they get right-of-way?”

“Not many animals use the stairs,” says Crispin, reassuringly. “There are certain times of day while the bats are roosting that it can become – unpleasant.”

I look up. For the first time, I see hundreds of furry bodies huddled together, suspended on the underside of the stone steps as they coil around the walls.

Ewww – no wonder so much moss and slime grows on these slabs…

…And a piercing screech nearly deafens me, as a great flapping shape swoops down, claws extended – and snatches two handfuls of the drowsy bats from their inverted perch…

“The Bat-Eater Owls do have unspoken right-of-way, though,” Crispin admits.

A second owl slams into Ace’s shoulder. He swipes at it, managing to keep his footing, and it is deflected straight into my face.

“Do I look like a bat?” I cry, as its hooklike claws scrabble in my hair, its inwardly-curved beak pecking at my scalp.

“I believe that’s a yes,” Carvery replies.

I grab for the unsafe rope to stay upright, my other hand waving ineffectually at my lively new headdress. The rope is as slippery as the steps. Useless… but I seize it anyway, badly grazing my already-chewed nail-beds against the harsh rock wall.

“You could try looking like a Pinstriped Leatherback Viper, Sarah Bellummm,” Crispin suggests, and sounds like he’s being serious. “They are the next up in the food chain to the Bat-Eater Owls.”

“What do they sound like?” I ask, still trying to dislodge the hungry owl. “Do they hiss?”

“I suppose so, yessss…”

“Sssssssss!” I hiss loudly, flapping at the bird. “Ssssssss! Sssssssssss!!”

Hhhhhhuuuuuussssssssssssssssssss…” a much longer and louder hissing noise interrupts my feeble efforts, and the owl disengages instantly, backing off with a squawk.

“Thanks, Homer,” I gasp, glancing behind me – but Homer is shaking his head silently.

He points at my hand, still around the safety guide-rope.

I feel it twist and writhe, under my grip.

Hhhhhhuuuuuuusssssssssssssssss

“Aaarrrghhh!” I yell, snatching my hand away – and take one unwise step backwards. Onto poor Homer’s foot.

“Homer!”

I grab for his arm as he topples over the edge of the stairs, but only succeed in detaching his last scrap of embroidered silk kimono.

And Homer is gone – into the darkness of the stairwell.

“NO!” I shout.

“Nice fumble, Sarah,” Carvery snaps.

HHHHHHUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSSSSS… The dreaded viper-sound is even closer, and is followed by an even worse one…

…The grating of loose stonework underfoot…

Original trailer for ‘National Treasure’ with Nicholas Cage – enjoy 🙂

More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

Also available for all other devices, and online reading, on Smashwords

Ilium Resurrection: A Zombie Parody

Depeche Mode vs. Madonna – Like Jesus or Not mash-up…

“Eggs,” Crispin confirms. “But not Sea Centipede eggs. These are laid by another parasite – one that needs underwater carrion to incubate its clutch. The small amount of heat given off during decay accelerates the development process.”

“What are they from?” Ace asks, prodding another, with the toe of his boot.

“Hermit Squidmorphs,” says Crispin. “They go through a series of parasitic stages before becoming fully mature and independent.”

“Let me guess,” Carvery suggests. “The next stage after the eggs is the vampire face-hugging phase, yes?”

“No,” Crispin looks a little offended, through his diving-helmet. “Squidmorphs are not facially-orientated in the slightest. Quite the opposite, in fact.”

“Alien anal probing?” Carvery remarks.

The radio silence between us all becomes distinctly more unpleasant.

“I think we should keep moving,” I announce, my voice higher than Salvador Dali on LSD.

Ace and Carvery are both looking at the floor with concern now.

“Good idea,” Ace murmurs. “Don’t think I want to meet a vampire butt-hugger either.”

We try not to jostle one another in expressions of blind panic as we continue through the gut of the giant centipede carcass. A few more eggs get stepped on in the shambolic rush, releasing their premature black squid-ink into the water.

“Are there likely to be any more of those Rock Scorpions down here?” Carvery’s voice comes across the radio again, as it seems to get inexplicably darker. Damn this ink – it doesn’t seem to disperse at all…

“Er, no,” Crispin replies, from up ahead. “They will not enter the nursery when hatching is due. Hermit Squidmorphs are not fussy about the species of host they occupy.”

Holy Mother… I saw the armour-plated shells on those scorpions! Even Homer, in front of me, seems to double the pace of his mincing strut into an underwater scurry.

Thankfully, the knee-high eggs start to thin out from what I can see of the ground underfoot, and we start to climb a little as the terrain slopes upward.

“What?” Carvery wants to know, and I stumble into Homer’s back. “Why are we stopping?”

There is a pause. I glance behind us, my own insides fluttering with adrenal abuse.

“Underwater landslide,” I hear Crispin say, grimly. “Our exit is blocked.”

I push past Homer, determined to see for myself.

A wall of rubble marks the end of our path. Jagged segments of centipede armour are either side, allowing only a narrow current of water and silt to drift through.

“Let’s have a look,” says Carvery. “I’ve demolished almost as many walls as I’ve had to put up.”

I wonder how much of that involved the interment of his ex-girlfriends?

He assesses the slurry of mixed shapes and sizes of rock, before apparently picking a few at random and pulling them free. Dust clouds billow into the seawater, but the rest of the rock-face holds.

“That’s as many as we can safely move,” he says at last. “It’s like Jenga. Pull the wrong stone out, and the whole shebang comes down.”

“Man, we still won’t fit through there,” Ace tells him, patting the surface. “It’s like a cat-door.”

“How far are we from the surface, Crispin?” asks Carvery.

Crispin considers.

“Fifty feet – perhaps sixty,” he says eventually. “At a slight upward angle, through these rocks and out the other side. We will find a stone platform just beyond, with a steel ladder embedded into the rock, leading up to it.”

“Reckon we could make it without suits?” Carvery suggests.

“What?!” I gasp.

Take off our breathing apparatus? Is he crazy?

“It is possible…” Crispin ponders. “But during hatching, the Squidmorph eggs release acid into the water as well as ink. We will have to work fast.”

“Cool.” Carvery seems decided on the matter. Since when was he in charge? “Homer – you’re the thinnest of us. You go first.”

Ho-ooo-ome?” Homer asks, doubtfully.

“It’s quite all right, Homer,” Crispin reassures his zombie brother. “Mr. Slaughter is thinking clearly. Nice deep breaths first. Like Bette Midler, before a Vegas show.”

Gooooood,” Homer agrees, and we all hear his lungs creaking and whistling like a frog on a night out with the lads, as he dutifully exercises his diaphragm before reaching for the clasps on his suit.

“Fuck,” Ace curses. “Forgot about the kimono.”

Homer is still dressed as Madam Butterfly underneath the diving-suit. Between them, Carvery and Ace quickly pull apart the bulkiest parts of the sash, bow and bustle.

Finally down to a scrap of embroidery, Homer makes for the opening in the rocks, and darts through, with a kick of his heels.

God – not much of a gap there…

“You’re next in size, Sarah,” Carvery says, turning to me. “Deep breaths now.”

“Why is it in order of size?” I demand, feeling panic rising up my gullet like a victory flag.

“Smallest go first, less likelihood of dislodging any more rocks on the way through,” he reasons, with perfect logic. “Come on. Less talk. More deep breaths.”

I do as instructed, filling my last lungfuls of air from the gas-tanks. Blessed gas-tanks – how I will miss you…

“While we’re still young, Sarah,” Carvery prompts.

“Yeah – I think I just saw one of those eggs wriggle,” Ace chips in. “I think something else’s young might be joining us quite soon.”

“Aim for the ladder straight ahead as you exit the rock-slide, Sarah,” Crispin tells me. “When you feel the rungs in front of you, head straight upwards – do not hesitate.”

“No chance of me hesitating,” I say, and I mean it. “Don’t worry about that.”

I reach for my clasps. One – two – three on the front of the diving-suit. One – two on either side of the diving helmet. I brace myself – and I am free…

The cold water gurgles instantly into my suit, and slaps me about the face. Aargh! It’s gross… I dread to think what living or dead particles are finding their way into my eyes and ears and nose already…

Even more gross is feeling Carvery and Ace both shove me towards the opening in the rocks, and the grating of my Naval uniform gold-gilt buttons from the Great Nematode u-boat, as they scrape along the surface. With one last glimpse of Crispin out of the corner of my eye, I am fully inserted into the hole…

I have a little elbow-room, and can kick my feet to propel myself forward – but the channel through the rock-slide is longer than I thought. I squirm my way along, my throat burning as I struggle to keep what air I have in my lungs.

And yes! I can see a blue-tinged light at the far end! That must be what Crispin was referring to earlier – we are near the surface, at last. I push forward, dog-paddling my way through the tunnel.

My eyes must be suffering from the dirt in here. It’s getting cloudy…

…But then I see the cloudiness billow, and the opening at the other end of the tunnel turns briefly black…

Oh my God – parasitic alien butt-hugger squid eggs…

They must be on BOTH sides of the rock-slide!

I can’t go backwards in this channel. For all I know, one of the others is already behind me – and back there – no escape. Just a mile of Giant Sea Centipede alimentary tract, leading out onto the Deep Ocean Trench, populated by recently-armed Fish-Man. And me with no diving suit on…

I shut my eyes tight – and various other orifices that I can think of – and swim forward. As fast as I can…

Something hits my nose, and I almost forget myself by opening my mouth to scream. The taste of rank seawater and battery acid rushes in. My hands shoot up to meet my face protectively – and snag on a rigid metal bar.

The ladder!

Do not hesitate, Crispin’s voice echoes in my mind.

I kick my way up the underwater ladder, my fingers finding more rungs as I try to increase my ascending speed. Surely this is more than sixty feet from where I started?

Just as it seems my bursting lungs are about to tear their way out of my chest, the water breaks over my head – and my brain sloshes painfully at the unexpected loss of buoyancy.

Gooooood,” Homer’s voice greets me, grabbing my arm.

“Homer!” I cry in gratitude.

As manfully as he’s possibly ever done, the skinny gray zombie hauls me up onto the strange, livid green stone of the subterranean platform. We are still underground – but high overhead, daylight filters down from the top of a tower-like stairwell.

We’ve done it – we’re here. I’ve never been so glad to see the sky as I am now…

I’m barely taking my first full breath, dragging myself onto the cool and welcome flat surface – when something closes around my left ankle – still overhanging the edge – like a bear-trap.

“Owwww!” I yell, and try to snatch my leg in towards me – but whatever has me caught in its embrace is firmly anchored.

And it tugs

I look down in utter dread, in time to see a third coil of red speckled tentacle loop around and up, aiming for better grip below my knee. My foot is already obscured by some horrible, barbed, knobbly, eight-fingered, arachnid claw…

And boy – do I scream! Maybe because Carvery Slaughter is nowhere near – I really let one rip.

“Geddoff!” I shriek. “Off! AAAAAAARRRRRGH!”

Bless Homer – he bravely goes for the tentacle lashed around my shin, and bites and bites it. It squirts black ink over his head, and I promptly vomit in turn.

It tugs again abruptly, and I shoot backwards, suddenly back in the water up to my waist. Homer grabs my hand, as I scrabble for any purchase on the stone ledge.

“Please help me,” I beg, already knowing that Homer is losing the battle, with all of the undead power in his pathetic, weedy, cross-dressing physique. “I don’t want an alien butt-plug…”

Another lash of the horrible tentacle suddenly whips around my neck, and its barbed little hooks bite into my flesh like burning needles of red-hot ice. It makes the suckers on Lady Glandula’s weird appendage in the Five a.m. Lounge seem almost an attractive prospect in comparison…

“Homer…” I sob.

I see the despair in his black eyes, as I recede helplessly back into the deadly water. I feel it lapping at my ears, the smell of battery-acid already corroding the hairs on the inside of my nostrils…

Suddenly I feel my trapped leg jerk abruptly, and a mouthful of the vile seawater makes its way down my throat – before I realise that my neck is now free once more.

Homer gives a heave, and I progress forward slightly, like a Tug O‘War rope. Oh God – please let me live… I’ll never lick another pizza box again…

Another strange tearing sensation underwater, and my leg is also free.

Homer heaves again, and I slither the rest of the way back onto the stone platform. Thank God – thank God

“Thank you…” I blubber, not sure how much of the damp on my face is tears, sea-gunk or snot by now. “Oh, thank you…”

…And Carvery Slaughter bursts out of the water, hopping up onto the platform from the topmost rung of the ladder with ease.

“Carvery!” I gasp.

“Shotgun works underwater,” he remarks, brandishing the remains of the tattered waterproof holster. “At least, while it was inside this. That was one ugly calamari, Sarah.”

Ace appears right behind him – minus his jacket and shirt.

Oh, boy… I’ve gone from All Systems Panic Stations to All Hormones Conception Stations in four seconds flat.

“Tight squeeze,” he says, by way of explanation. He shakes the water from his spiky dark hair, like a Davidoff model. I’m glad I’m still sitting on the ground, as I don’t think my legs could stand the moral challenge of such a display. “I don’t envy Crispin, trying to squeeze through those rocks.”

“Did you see any more of those squid eggs hatching down there?” I ask Carvery, nervously.

“Too dark.” Carvery tips seawater out of the shotgun barrels. “Too much squid ink.”

We all look down at the swirling surface of the water, and wait.

And wait…

For old times’ sake – the original ‘Alien’ trailer – enjoy 🙂

More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

Also available for all other devices, and online reading, on Smashwords