Adele vs. Bloodhound Gang – Rollin’ In mash-up…
My thoughts are scattered though, as Crispin Dry suddenly stalks out of the surgery doorway, his gray zombie countenance as dark as any thunderstorm. My inexperienced libido immediately starts cooking me from the inside-out, making my already too-hot, sticky Naval uniform feel like an Uncle Ben’s Rice Boil-in-the-Bag in the desert heat.
Damn these hormones!
I bet he’s still in a stupid mood with me as well, over that mention of Mr. Wheelie-Bin…
“They have the errant Mr. Lukan, Mr. Slaughter?” he asks Carvery coldly, sparing me not a glance.
“Looks that way,” Carvery replies. “Are they going to torture him? Do we get to watch?”
“Better,” Crispin concurs, with a nod.
Sandy emerges beside him, and claps his hands loudly, in a rhythmic sequence. He announces something to the city at large in a foreign tongue I don’t understand, although I’m sure the name Amiira is mentioned, and possibly the word ‘infidels’ – although I wouldn’t want to offend anyone even by thinking such a thing around here…
My heart leaps sideways, as I most definitely hear the words ‘Ace Bumgang’ and ‘the Stig’ in the same sentence – and I’m sure it isn’t my imagination furnishing my ears with the roar of response by nearby gossips and traders.
“What was that about?” I ask, timidly.
Crispin finally rewards me, with the stony flicker of one jet-black eye.
“The morning News summary,” he replies, shortly. “It is the responsibility of whomever the grapevine determines shall broadcast it.”
I’m suddenly aware of a great horde of people, all in a strange shade of pale blue or green approaching us. There is great excitement, and shouting of orders and instructions, and we are quickly relieved of the camel reins and hustled forward at the crest of the crowd, as it rolls along the dusty street. Sandy disappears briefly back inside the surgery with a number of others, and Homer N. Dry is borne out on a stretcher, carried above the heads of many.
Poor Homer – his withered gray skin is almost white! Like the ash, coating a slow-burning cinder…
“Where are we going now?” I cry, hurrying ahead to avoid being trampled.
“To the trial,” Crispin says, his tone still as flat and as brusque as before. He so doesn’t want to talk to me right now! “At the Tank.”
The Tank? What new horror is this?
The new horror is soon illustrated, as the crowd herds us to a square, filled with people, all jeering and braying and barking further orders to one another. At the centre is a deep square pit, under glass strong enough for a man to stand on.
The pit is lined with ceramic tiles, and contains nothing but a sink and lavatory, and an old metal bunk, each item against a separate wall. Iron rings are screwed into the fourth wall, and from these rings is suspended the miserable figure of our taxi-driver, Luke, fully chained.
Ace is standing thoughtfully at the edge of the Tank, waiting for us.
“This is a trial?” I ask. “It looks more like he’s already been imprisoned…”
“And that is his trial, Miss Bellum!” Sandy announces, as we gather alongside Ace. His words struggle to find any foothold between my ears when I notice the beads of sweat glinting on Ace’s bare torso, and promptly all thoughts of zombie infatuation are drop-kicked out of the ballpark by both of my ovaries at once.
“A witch-hunter trial,” Ace remarks. “If he escapes, he’s guilty. If he dies, he was innocent. That sort of thing.”
“You mean there’s no such thing as luck?” I demand. “Or a fair hearing?”
“Just a demonstration of either his reliance on heathen magic, or his defiance in death,” Crispin agrees by my left ear, unexpectedly. My thoughts of Ace Bumgang run and hide, in an equally guilt-ridden fashion. “But there is more to it, Sarah Bellummm…”
I notice that Homer is being lowered into a shaft beside the pit, and shortly a steel vault door opens beside the sink in the underground cell. Homer’s stretcher is placed onto the bare metal bunk, and the bearers leer at Luke, before departing again.
I notice Luke’s eyes rolling in terror, and searching the audience above, seeking out our gaze in an appeal for mercy.
“The Surgeons are hoping that my cousin Homer will awaken with an appetite!” Sandy nods in approval. “Another challenge for our prisoner’s foreign wizarding skills!”
The crowd certainly approve as well, applauding as Homer stirs lethargically.
“Did Luke have the clockwork hand on him?” I ask Ace, who shakes his head.
“He says it’s somewhere safe, but won’t say where,” Ace replies. “So I think they’re hoping this will scare it out of him.”
“If he’s put it up there, that shouldn’t take too long,” Carvery agrees. “Especially if they gave him Ex-Lax first.”
“But they’d torture him anyway, from what I gather,” Ace continues. “Whether he’s got it on him or not.”
I tear myself away from the spectacle and go to the shaft beside the Tank, where the stretcher-bearers have just emerged. A hand-cranked metal elevator is the only means of accessing the underground cell, and the operator grins toothlessly at me.
“Hoping for a closer look, Sarah Bellummm?” Crispin’s voice says beside me again, and I jump. I turn to see him looking past me into the elevator shaft, his manner still quite cold and distant. “I’m sure it could be arranged…”
And suddenly I see nothing but the inside of a hessian sack, smelling strongly of chemicals…
* * * * *
The light is murky and greenish as I open my eyes groggily, the chemical smell now mixed with a dank mildewy scent, and a suffocating, stagnant silence – compared to the racket of the citadel. But as I look up, I can still see the dozens of bearded and excited faces looking down through the thick, mould-spotted glass.
“Must be soundproofed,” I mumble aloud, and my words echo back to my ears painfully, from the stained ceramic tiles.
Oh God – I’m in the Tank as well!
My right arm is chained to the pipes under the sink. To my left, Homer is still unconscious on the bunk. To the other side, Luke is upright, chained to the rings affixed to the wall.
The opposite wall is in shadow, as the sun is not yet high enough to illuminate it.
“What happened?” I ask, woozily.
“My guess is, someone wants to know if you’re the kind of girl to harbour more than one lover,” Luke croaks, and to my great offence I realise he’s laughing at the idea, even through his pain. “That if Homer wakes up hungry and decides on a little Sarah Bellum starter course, any sign of my heathen magic being used to save your life will condemn you as a scarlet woman.”
“Ah,” I say, gloomily. “So if I die I’m innocent, if I live I’m guilty, yes?”
“Yup,” Luke grins. “And I don’t have any magic, so it was nice knowing you.”
Homer’s stomach gurgles, on cue, and he mutters something in his sleep.
It sounds like Goooood…
“Where’s the clockwork hand?” I demand, grasping for the one thing I know that does have special powers, which I’ve come across recently.
“In a safe place,” Luke replies, suddenly brittle.
“Because if it’s where Carvery thinks it is, now would be a good time to start thinking about prune juice.”
“Well, at least we might have a chance,” I snap. “They are intending to leave us here to die, you realise? Because if we don’t die, we’re guilty of something – which means more torture and possibly death will follow.”
Homer’s stomach rumbles again, and I glance nervously at it.
“And it might be more than just a zombie with an appetite in here with us,” I continue. I try to define the horrible mixture of smells in our subterranean prison, wondering if one of the contributing aromas might resemble seawater mixed with battery acid. “There might be a zombie-harboured Squidmorph as well…”
“A squat what?” Luke demands.
“A kind of sea-parasite,” I explain. “It hides up your bottom like an alien space-probe when you skinny-dip, and eventually grows to the size of a battleship. So if you have anything useful hidden up your bottom to fight one of those with, make like a supermodel and flush out that colon!”
Luke looks from me to Homer in horror, and then rattles his chains.
“Let me out!” he screams. “I’m trapped in here with a zombie and a girl obsessed with probing my ass!”
But before I can protest, I notice that the sunlight is starting to reach the far wall, where the lavatory is installed. And as the light quality in the shadows changes, I spot another familiar shape.
“What are YOU doing in here?” I gasp, astonished.
Carvery looks up from the little tiny leather-bound book in his hands.
Oh, shit – the micro-diary that I was given, to look after!
But how did he…?
“Well,” he says, uncrossing and re-crossing his legs from where they rest up on the chainsaw, at his feet. “Just in case Homer fails to hatch a squidling, or to wake up at all, the Surgeons decided I was the next best thing to a wildcard against you two.”
I stare at him, open-mouthed. He finally looks up from his – typically stolen – reading matter.
“I volunteered,” he grins.
‘Saw’ trailer, original – enjoy 🙂
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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