Iron Maiden vs. Bon Marley – Exodus/Revelations mash-up…
Ace and Carvery are the first to respond to Higham Dry Senior’s call for assistance, untangling him from the bounty hunters and dusting him down. Beneficience Vassally Dry wrings her hands and cries in between beating Luke on the cross, and Crispin just looks embarrassed, like a seven-year-old caught playing in his father’s shed.
“What did I miss?” demands Higham Dry, straightening his robes and coughing like a chimney-sweep. “Is the old trout awake yet? Ah, Justin Time, still alive, I see. We will have to do something about that as well.”
“Mercy!” yells Justin Time, throwing himself prone onto the floor. The billy goat, who had been loitering nonchalantly behind him, bleats in panic, and dives beyond a pillar.
“Grandpappy,” says Crispin, clearing his throat bravely. “You know it has to be done.”
“Pooh!” grouches the old man, and beats his hacking chest a few times. A clockwork cuckoo appears from his breast pocket and squeaks out a chime, along with a few centuries’ worth of dust. “Nobody care anymore, my boy! They all either drunk or blowing stuff up! No place in the world for fancy women now! The only thing they good for the curing, is of being teetotal and pacifist!”
“Hear, hear!” Luke and Justin burble, in unison.
“Ouuuch,” Homer agrees sadly, looking down at the remains of his prom dress.
“But, Grandpappy,” Crispin continues, while Higham Dry Senior hobbles over to inspect the body of my housemate, Twatface, displayed on the wooden altar. “If a reconciliation could be made and the undead curse lifted, there would be no more fighting. Just good trade routes for business.”
“You live in rose-tinted goldfish-bowl, Crispin.” Higham Dry prods my housemate’s body with his carved bone walking-stick. “All work and no play make a dull criminal record! Why you so loyal to your mother? Let her rest in pieces like the others! Make your own new friends and playthings. No room in the world for dead old hoarders and their fancy-schmancy loot. I told you when you little, growing boy need to eat more fish and seafood. Grow your own braiiinsss.”
The elderly zombie puffs his way over to me, nodding more approvingly – or perhaps just arthritically.
“You still looking for your first time, young lady?” he enquires, his eyes bright with insinuation. “Don’t waste it waiting for young Crispin. He only interested in unsound medical advice.”
And he pats my arm, reassuringly. For a second I imagine the clockwork hand has responded to his touch – but as I look down at it – still glowing, and still nothing.
“I will prove or disprove those theories, Grandpappy,” says Crispin, obstinately. “But not by harbouring fear of the unknown. Only the brave succeed!”
“Harrumph,” says Higham Dry Senior, unconvinced. “Only succeed in catching all diseases known to mankind – and discovering new ways to die, not even tested out on Justin Time yet…”
“Mercy!” Justin Time chews on the planks beneath him, sobbing.
Crispin gestures to the attendant zombies, who pull levers on either side of the tall pedestal. The upper part splits vertically, and opens.
As the wooden panels retreat into the pedestal, there above us, in all her frozen black onyx stony glory, is the dreaded Lady Glandula de Bartholine – Crispin and Homer’s mother.
Still beautiful – but now, still more evil.
“Do you know what?” Ace remarks. “I don’t think I fancy it a second time.”
“I agree, she looking quite dusty now!” Higham Dry cackles, and points to my housemate on the altar below. “No wonder she looking for a new body to park her fat old tentacle in.”
“What?” Carvery demands. “She’s planning on moving in there? No fucking way!”
“Oh, you didn’t know? She been hanging on to this one for a long time. It waaaay past its Use By date,” Higham Dry nods. “Hermit Squidmorphs don’t usually live so long in one body, but she pick up this old Dry family carcass from the tombs of Ancient Egypt. They famous for hanging onto afterlife indefinitely. I think her Incantations run out though. There were some missing already, when this body discovered. Without all of the spells, eventually the Shades of the Dead run you to ground and you neither live forever nor pass into the Field of Reeds. That means heaven, for all you heathen breathers.”
“Ace,” says Carvery. “I told you, you did a zombie Queen with one up the spout already.”
“Get used to the idea,” Ace tells him, indicating Miss Fuckwit’s currently-vacant body on the altar. “You’re up next.”
“Crispin said she was a Siren!” I gasp. “Not a Squidmorph!”
Higham Dry shrugs.
“Same difference.” He waggles his hand back and forth, ponderously. “They start out small and pink with little hooks – then grow big and ugly with suckers… beautiful singing voices. Make your nose bleed.” He sighs and looks misty-eyed for a moment – or it could just be the cataracts. “Of course, no-one ever survive encounter with Sirens in the old days to describe the tentacles. Crispin probably tell you that already. He probably not tell you about the Squidmorph part, in case you the only spare body handy when you get back here. His mother very fussy, but any port in a storm… Pretty soon she get too big for human host anyway. Have to start looking for next size up.”
I can’t believe it. First Crispin thinks my virginity is a likely cure for zombification – and now it sounds like his Plan B was to turn me over to his own mother, as a potential evil Squidmorph host! Maybe even both!
My stomach lurches horribly. I don’t even know where to begin, with all that’s wrong with this picture…
Prompted by Crispin, one of the attendant zombies in the backless red leather chaps approaches me, and with one deft twist, unclips the bejewelled clockwork hand from my arm.
“No!” I shout, as he marches away with it, towards the altar. “That was given to me to look after!”
“No!” shouts Beneficience Vassally Dry. “Sacrifice first!”
“Ooh…” Higham Dry Senior leans over, suddenly distracted, to peer intently at my cleavage. “You find finest Swiss watchmaker! He make all of old man’s innards, you know!”
“Excuse me?” I reply, startled.
I look down, to see the Swiss watchmaker’s armour, shrunk to the size of a gold charm, still suspended on the enchanted necklace around my neck.
Why did I waste that magic earlier?
“See?” he says excitedly, prodding the articulated charm on the golden chain. “No stopcock! That where Mr. Whizz goes!”
The zombie pyramid attendant has already opened the gemstones on the clockwork hand, and a green illuminated fog is bathing the body of my housemate, rolling heavily down the sides of the wooden altar, and out across the floor of the pyramid.
“Pity it not the real thing,” says Higham Dry Senior, sighing like an old cellar door. “It be like upgrading the old man from wooden spoon to Moulinex…”
“But it is the real thing,” I reply.
High above us, on top of the pedestal, the surface of the statue of Lady Glandula is starting to swirl again, with those fractal oil-slick patterns – as she gradually emerges from her stony slumber…
“Wow, my eyesight really bad today,” says Higham Dry, squinting closer at my bosom. “Either that, or it much further away than it looks.”
“It’s cursed,” I sob, and reach into the nearby wheelbarrow for a splinter of Sister Jaundice’s cello-bow, waving it around to illustrate, trailing a shred of catgut. “It’s been shrunk by an enchantment. So I could carry it more easily.”
“Ohhh,” he nods. “What did you wish for?”
“Something suitable to wear,” I admit, wretchedly.
“Maybe you just need repeat same wish,” he suggests. “Magic still in clothes. Only circumstances to which suited now different.”
I look down at the stupid muddy Audrey Slapbum at Tiffany’s style silk dress, which used to be a neon Lycra Wonder Woman outfit and some impractical underwear, before I put it on earlier.
Either way, I’m already on a losing fashion streak today.
“I wish I wasn’t pretending to be something I’m not,” I grumble, without thinking.
The shard of cello-bow flashes green in my hand, and I drop it in shock. It burned me!
It continues to burn, until nothing but a tiny strip of black charcoal remains.
A split second later, the Swiss watchmaker’s armour clatters heavily to the floor, and a small innocuous rug flops apologetically on top of it, where previously there had been a tapestry clutch-purse.
I immediately check my lower regions, expecting a draft and an itchy pink thong – but instead, all I find myself wearing are my old jeans, and my Pizza Heaven delivery-girl work fleece.
What the Hell?
“Clever girl,” Higham Dry Senior approves, as the bounty hunters recover the armour from the floor. “Look very suitable. Now, boys, put him together the right way up this time…”
By my feet, Justin Time grabs the small rug, and buries his head underneath it. Something bounces off my toecap from within, and I pick it up.
The little leather-bound diary – the missing Incantations!
“Really, Crispin,” that imperious female voice echoes down on our ears, from atop the pedestal. “Is this still the best you could do? It all looks very sordid…”
“With new replacement parts, Mother,” Crispin replies, reproachfully. “Guaranteed virginal – or at least, surgically virginal. Some might even be magically-inclined.”
Lady Glandula quirks an eyebrow, but otherwise gives nothing away. The steps are still emerging from the pedestal, and the attendant zombies hurry to flank her path.
“What is the alternative?” she enquires, and her icy gaze visits me briefly as she descends. “The scrawny fast-food delivery girl?”
“I was still seeking your approval for myself, there, Mother,” Crispin reminds her.
“You know these things aren’t that simple, Crispin,” she says. “I can’t just hop into any old body and hope it lasts. It’s like a traditional wedding. Or a Broadway musical. There has to be an understudy on standby – in the event of the worst case scenario…”
“What if there was an alternative?” I butt in, breathlessly.
Everyone turns to look at me. I feel like the rotisserie chicken that has decided to stand up for itself, one plucking and basting later than usual. The only sound is the clanking of the bounty hunters, as they try to assemble the legs on the suit of armour, chivvied along by Higham Dry.
“An alternative to the alternative?” Lady Glandula muses. “I cannot imagine what you might have to trade.”
“How about keeping the body that you’ve already got?” I hold up the little leather-bound diary. “With all of the Incantations you’ll ever need. For ever.”
She stares at the little book, but again, her sly poker-face takes over.
“My dear, if there’s one thing I learned from marrying Crispin’s father, it’s that you can never trust a man to write absolutely everything down,” she smirks, a little smugly. “I imagine there is no more in that diary than I haven’t already found out for myself.”
“I’ll exchange it for the clockwork hand,” I suggest, taking a chance on her bluff. “And my housemate – er… Frankenminky. Someone has to pay their half of the rent. Otherwise – I’ll burn it, and you’ll never know.”
Snatching a torch from its bracket, I hold the little diary over the flame, singeing the knitted cuff of my fleece.
“Do you really believe,” she begins, as the sinister tentacle emerges out of the darkness and uncoils almost lazily towards me. “That you have any powers over what I choose…?”
“Mother!” I hear Crispin’s shocked voice protesting. “No! Not the understudy!”
As the suckers in front of my face threaten to blot out the view permanently, a metallic clanggg stops the tentacle’s advance abruptly.
“You were saying?” a strangely mechanical version of Higham Dry Senior’s voice interrupts.
My terrified vision swivels along the gleaming golden arm that has intercepted the Queen’s extraneous limb, to meet an armoured faceplate, with glowing red slits for eyes.
“You are too late, old man,” Lady Glandula laughs, while trying ineffectually to extricate her tentacle from his iron grip. “In a fresh body, I will be ten times stronger than your cheap old clockwork sarcophagus-suit!”
“Over my dead body,” Carvery remarks, and giving me one last regretful glance, levels the shotgun with its final cartridge…
…At my housemate!
Lady Glandula cries out an indignant warning, and the attendant zombie with the clockwork hand whirls around, raising it defensively.
The hardening – the blackness – the freezing of stone…
Where Carvery had been standing, is now a Carvery Slaughter statue in black onyx – black onyx shotgun poised to fire.
Original ‘Iron Man’ trailer, with Robert Downey Jr – Enjoy 🙂
More mindless mayhem… See below…
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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