Yello vs. Death Race – The Race/movie montage mash-up…
The cliff-face approaches with terrifying speed, and our flying rug seems to gird itself for further acceleration, as the gap closes.
“Well, that’s only a million vampire bats per mile,” says Carvery. “In Chiroptera terms, for that size of cave, it’s practically deserted.”
I’m stunned. Carvery can do division – without a calculator? And did he just use the species terminology of the bat family?
“Don’t you mean Desmoda Rotunda?” Ace queries. “I read online that they roost with up to nine other species of bat. That’s potentially ten million Chiropterae per mile over all, with only one in ten being a blood-sucker.”
My mouth is open at this point, which in less than a minute, might be inadvisable.
“Ace – you can read?” I repeat, disbelieving. “In Latin?!”
“Remind me of this conversation, if I ever agree to join these two for a dudes’ night out on the town,” Luke says aside to me. “That kind of careless talk can close a woman’s legs, before she’s even had so much as a sniff of the Rohypnol.”
“There is room for speculation about the exact number of vampires in the cave,” Crispin concedes. “Considering particularly that it is pitch black in there.”
And with that, the pitch black engulfs us, like a giant, stinking shroud of tar. My mouth, still agog, snaps shut just in time.
The air vibrates with the flutter of membranous wings, in every direction. As one, we all dive under the tattered blanket, which had previously held us captive.
“Can’t this thing go any faster?” Luke demands.
“You are joking, I hope?” I say, the sour wind stripping tears from my eyes, like a cheese-grater against my face. “How long until we reach the Nine a.m. Lounge, Crispin?”
There is a distinctly surprised silence.
“Nine a.m., Sarah Bellummm,” he replies. “Of course.”
Of course. Stupid stupid girl…
The rolled-up rugs beneath us press deeper into my spine with the gravitational forces, as the lead rug pulling our flying rickshaw cranks up another gear.
But that implies that we’re going over five thousand miles an hour… assuming he means, Nine a.m. today…
Something bounces off my knee, and I hear Homer squawk indignantly.
“Did you feel that?” I hiss, desperately. “They’re dive-bombing us!”
“Yesss,” Crispin agrees. “Stay under cover…”
The squawk is echoed, deeper and hollowly, somewhere behind us – and repeated twice more.
“They aren’t the only ones,” Ace points out. “Sarah – pass me the torch.”
I hand over the Trevor Baylis, and Ace points it briefly into our slipstream.
“Here they come,” he reports.
“What?” Luke asks. “The bats?”
“Nope.” Ace passes the torch to Carvery, who takes a look in turn. “Three zombie Pterydactyls on our six. Big ones.”
“Braaaiiiiinnnssss,” Homer moans, clamping both hands over his frayed ears.
“They’re not going to get your brains, Homer,” Carvery says calmly, putting the torch between his teeth and re-loading the shotgun again. “If they’re fast enough to catch up, they’re fast enough for target practice.”
I risk a look over the seat-rail, and see the formation of three giant winged pursuers, against the dim light of the distant cave entrance behind us.
The view is suddenly blocked by a frenzy of fluttering, and an evil, snub-nosed snout with beady eyes appears over the railing. Before I can even gasp, a needle-lined yawn lunges directly for my face…
“Fuck off,” Carvery grunts, and with a crunchy squeak, the hungry critter disintegrates messily under the butt of the shotgun. “She’s ugly enough already, without a vampire bat beard.”
“Thank you,” I remember to say, after what seems like quite a few moments of waiting for the shock to wear off.
“Don’t mention it,” he remarks, turning the gun around to point the muzzle outwards, over the back of the seat. “I mean it. If you ever mention it to anyone, I’ll kill you. And Miss Fuck-Tart, your housemate.”
Oh yes. Why do I keep forgetting about her?
Idly, I wonder if she’s starting to smell, and if anyone back on the Great Barge in the Five a.m. Lounge has noticed…
The leading Pterydactyl opens its beak in another yammering, jabbering caw – and then belches flame.
The blast of heat almost cooks my tongue onto the roof of my already terror-dried mouth.
In the afterglow, frazzled bats shower from the air, trailing smoke, like dud fireworks dropping out of the sky.
“My God, they’re armed,” Luke whispers.
“And fully operational,” Crispin acknowledges. “Their teeth have turned to flint after so many centuries undead – and they make a spark by agitating them, which ignites the methane created by the bats in the cave. It protects them from the blood-sucking, burns off excess gas before it can reach critical underground levels, forms a light-source for them to hunt by, cooks their prey, and also de-louses them in the process. It’s really quite fascinating.”
A second Pterydactyl clacks its jaws a few times, and sears the cave wall with another billow of incendiary fumigation.
“Remind me never to go out on the pull with him either,” Luke adds.
“Maybe they fancy a bit of fast food?” Ace suggests, as a third flame almost passes right in front of us, covering our blanket with lumps of squeaking, furry charcoal.
“Burger van’s closed,” says Carvery, and takes a shot at the nearest Pterydactyl, to the left.
A gaping hole appears in one wing, and it pinwheels out of control, bouncing off the walls and disappearing under an avalanche of peckish, bloodthirsty bats.
Meanwhile, another flaming belch from the middle pursuer lightly singes one of our rolled-up rugs on the back of the rickshaw, which promptly starts crying.
“I’m pretty sure floor coverings shouldn’t soil themselves,” Ace comments, and tries to switch places with me. “Sarah, you can have the wet patch.”
I hear the sobbing emerging more loudly as I shuffle reluctantly along the bench. I try a conciliatory pat or two.
“There, there,” I murmur, meaninglessly.
How do you reassure a captive flying carpet?
Another fireball explodes overhead. A flaming bat plummets from the roof, straight through the hole in the middle of our blanket. Homer screams.
“Why do I smell Crispy Chicken Balls?” asks Luke.
“It’s just Homer, saving himself the trouble of going for the full operation,” says Ace, and crawls downward to try and beat out any remaining flames. “Pass the wet rug, I’ll see if I can damp it down.”
Gratefully, I roll the sodden carpet towards the foot of the rickshaw, which hisses as it traverses the groaning Homer.
Carvery fires again, but the Pterydactyls are learning, and take evasive manoeuvres.
“Braaaiiiinnnssss,” Homer pleads. “Sarah Braaaiiinnnsss… Goooood…”
“I think Homer wants to eat your brains, Sarah,” Ace reports back.
“Don’t see why not,” says Carvery. “It won’t exactly spoil his dinner later.”
“I think my brother means, you should use your brains, Sarah Bellummm,” Crispin says, quietly. “Trust your feelings…”
Use my brains? I boggle, momentarily. All my feelings are currently telling me, is I’m starting to recall that I was rather violently air-sick on this rickshaw earlier… and the similar self-control by the captive rugs isn’t helping…
“Heads up, Carvery!” Luke shouts.
Carvery swings the shotgun like a club, slamming an enormous bat into the wall, and to the voracious mercy of its own kind.
“You have to watch the bats, Sarah Bellummm,” Crispin guides me. “They are a hive. They work as a unit, if you observe…”
I strain my eyes into the darkness ahead of us. There seems to be a swirling ahead, a gyroscopic sensation in the air – a corruption of the horizon… a tilting…
My eyes adjust to the vortex of skin and fur awaiting us, deeper into the cave.
“Oh my God,” I breathe, “They’re going to try and flip us over…”
It’s a whirlpool of wings and teeth, creating a deadly torsional slipstream. And as I stare in horror – under the blanket, something runs straight up my leg.
“Baaa…” I begin to scream, but it is already skittering past my chest, and to my utter shock, clamps over my mouth.
My second thought is even worse than ‘Bat’.
But there is no battery-acid odour, no larval tentacle looping around my neck… and as my mind frantically tries to reconnect with the petrified paralysis in my limbs, I see the glinting, and recognise the scrape of warm metal against my lips and teeth.
The clockwork hand!
I peel it away from my face and stare at it, while Carvery drops back down onto the bench to re-load.
“These are the last of my cartridges,” he says.
I barely hear him, my thoughts racing.
How did I make this thing work before? I remember getting angry – something about a curtain tassel…
“I am a virgin!” I shout, gripping the clockwork device in both hands, like a .44 Magnum.
“You’re going to die a virgin,” Carvery nods sagely, still slotting in cartridges.
I let his words go over my head, and sit up. More bravely, I try to raise myself higher, up on my knees. I point the golden clockwork hand into the deadly darkness ahead of us, at the danger as yet unseen by the others…
“I am a virgin!” I yell, more deliberately. “And I am not afraid to use this!”
“God, Sarah – get a room,” Ace groans, still somewhere further down. “No, Homer, I’m not going to look after it for you. You get your own pockets…”
Why won’t it activate?
“Come on!” I urge. “What do you want from me?”
“Have faith, Sarah Bellummm,” Crispin says, soothingly.
The vicious vortex of conspiring, co-operative Chiropterae gets closer – closer…
A shriek from one of the last two Pterydactyls behind me freezes my blood, and I feel its intake of breath at the nape of my neck, hear the clicking of its flinty teeth as starts to summon a spark…
…And suddenly everything seems to slow down. We are still hurtling along the tunnel, still surrounded by whirling bloodthirsty bats – but my mind is now at the eye of the storm, seeing everything, thinking clearly…
…I drop back on my haunches, and raise the clockwork hand high above my head.
The fireball erupts, and every gemstone on the clockwork hand lights up, again akin to a disco-ball. Instead of turning into a flying rickshaw barbecue, the flames shrink as rapidly as they exploded, sucked into the unknown potential of the clockwork device.
Carvery shoots the startled Pterydactyl, and it takes a direct hit to the sternum, barrelling into its remaining wingman, sending them both crashing into the depths of the cave.
I point the clockwork hand in front of us, hoping now for a miracle.
“Go ahead,” Crispin whispers. “Make my day.”
“Ummm…” I murmur.
The pinky and index finger of the clockwork hand uncurl, and pause, as if awaiting instructions.
It can’t possibly be that obvious…
I clear my throat. The stones in the clockwork hand are glowing malevolently red, like lit-up fire-opals. The roar of the circling bats is almost deafening.
The rickshaw starts to tilt and struggles to right itself, lopsided by the angular updraft.
“Fire?” I suggest, timidly.
And then it seems that the world explodes, as everything at the end of my arms flashes a blinding, brilliant white…
And of course, the Death Star final destruction, Star Wars: A New Hope – Enjoy 🙂
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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