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.
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