Chase & Status vs. Nero – No Problem/My Eyes mash-up…
We start to slide across the deck as the Great Barge tilts. Alongside, the Nine a.m. Lounge aircraft carrier also leans inward, with the centrifugal pull of the vortex appearing, mid-river. The heaped-up dinosaur skeletons take a dive from its upper deck into the abyss, followed by one of the jets, parked too close to the edge.
“Hold on!” I shout at my housemate, halted as my legs entangle with the billy goat. Apparently, it could remain upright on a sheer drop. “Grab onto something!”
The something she finds, with her groping clumsy hands, is Justin Time under his heap of bounty hunters. Justin squeals indignantly.
“I am a married man, Madam!” he yells, playing his loyalty card as it suits him.
Lady Glandula lashes out with her tentacle, anchoring herself to the main mast. Higham Dry Senior clamps onto her with his one mechanical-armed grip, trying to drag her away.
“You don’t want a little reconciliation with your god?” he says, gesturing over the side with his other scraggy zombie arm. “Surely it’s nothing personal… just good for business!”
Below us, in that watery whirlpool, the gigantic Eye is rising, scattering the sunbathing crocodiles.
For the first time, I see genuine panic cross the zombie Queen’s face.
“No!” she cries. “I will not enter the limbo of Darkness and Shades! Give me the rest of the Incantations!”
“Only your frail human form is in debt to Atum, Mother!” I hear Crispin shouting, but I don’t see him. “Let it go! Take a new body!”
“Frail?” Higham Dry grumbles, straining on his cyborg chassis. “She is testing the limits of WD-40 here, I tell you!”
“This frail human form is what gave birth to you, Crispin!” she yells.
“Exactly!” says Higham Dry. “The rest is just indestructible hermit calamari!”
Over by the ravaged altar, Beneficience is on her ample knees, sobbing. Luke reaches her with his hands outstretched in supplication, still singing, like a taxi-driving absconding angel.
And beyond, General Lissima has finished dismembering the attendant zombie from its grip on the clockwork hand. She snatches a long-bladed knife from the altar in the tip of her tentacle, and turns her attention to the struggle between Higham Dry Senior and Lady Glandula de Bartholine.
“Hey, folks!” she taunts, waggling the golden clockwork hand, and the leather-bound diary. “I have something you want! Who is the better haggler?”
And she leaps quickly aside, laughing, as they both lash out covetously.
“Give me those Incantations, witch!” shrieks Lady Glandula.
“You going to feel Higham Dry’s foot in your barnacled bottom, young lady!”
Damn – where is Ace?! And what about Crispin…
Suddenly I have no need of concern with the latter, as an arm in a torn bloody shirt loops around my shoulders from behind, extracting me from the billy goat’s legs.
“Thank goodness you are all right, Sarah Bellummm!” he greets me. “I believe we still have time…”
“Yeah, he’s right there…” I say, pointing at Justin, under the increasing heap of bounty hunters, my housemate Miss Numbskull, albino donkey and inebriated billy goat. “Do we need him to get us home?”
“Not Mr. Time,” Crispin corrects me, pulling me to my feet. “Time in which to perform the ceremony. Before Atum recovers his dues.”
“What?” I ask, and find myself being dragged over to the altar.
General Lissima evades capture by Higham Dry Senior and Lady Glandula, sliding on her knees under their flailing limbs like a breakdancer under a limbo-stick, making it look effortless and elegant as she leans back almost parallel to the floor.
The second she is clear, she pivots sharply into a kneeling stance, and unleashes one devastating strike with her own tentacle. The knife-blade flashes – and Higham Dry’s exposed zombie hand flies off, severed halfway up the radial bone.
“Who is your Daddy now, old man?” she grins, back-flipping upright and twirling the sword into a blur on the end of her tentacle, like a Wild West gunslinger. “Bet this clockwork hand looks even more attractive to you, hmmm?”
“Quickly, Sarah Bellummm!” Crispin sweeps the remaining artifacts and accessories from the surface of the wooden plinth. “Lie down on here.”
“How about no!” I gasp. “I haven’t signed a release form for any elective surgery!”
“I have to save my Mother,” he states, obstinately.
“It won’t be your Mother!” I shout back. “It’ll be me, Sarah Bellum! With an ancient evil zombie squid parked up her!”
Crispin picks up a knife, and advances.
“That’s the only Mother I remember,” he says sadly.
I back away, around the altar. Who’d come to Sarah Bellum’s rescue? I look all around, desperately. No sign of Ace, damn it… Homer is still hanging for dear life onto a pillar, looking like a cheap date at Peppermint Hippo. Luke and Beneficience are lost in one another’s attention, for the first time since 1971. My housemate, struggling on the floor with the bounty hunters and Justin Time, is probably at less risk than she ever was in the company of Carvery Slaughter – who is still a black onyx stone statue.
I sigh. Judging so far, Carvery would have been my best bet for salvation. Even if he’d used that last shotgun cartridge already, I’m sure he’d have found another way of putting me out of my misery before I became a deadly Squidmorph cavity…
If only I could get hold of the clockwork hand – perhaps I could turn him back?
But otherwise, I don’t see any point in crying for ‘help’. The mathematics just don’t seem to be in my favour.
I just remember to sidestep in time, as Crispin makes a grab for my arm.
“I thought you wanted me for yourself, Crispin?” I try reminding him. “The old cure for zombies you wanted to try? Sleeping with a virgin?”
Crispin hesitates, and my hope flares.
“I am glad you are willing, Sarah Bellummm,” he remarks. “But…”
“But what?” I try an eyelash flutter, for the first time, and only succeed in making myself dizzy.
“Present requirements are more pressing,” he says, regretfully. “And virgins are not too hard to come by. Especially in the fast-food home delivery business.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I am sure your replacement at the pizzeria will be equally inexperienced,” he adds, with a wink.
The nerve of him! As if I’m as disposable as… as… a burger carton!
Now only clamped onto Lady Glandula with his armoured fist, Higham Dry struggles to remain upright, and the mast creaks with the strain.
“I am waiting…” hints General Lissima. “Nobody want to make me an offer? Atum looks like he got all day, but I don’t.”
The giant eye of the river-god is rising slowly out of the whirlpool in the river, gradually blotting out the misty sun in its veil of storm clouds. Crocodiles who weren’t quick enough to escape the vortex tumble down his sides into the depths.
As I dodge another grab by Crispin across the altar, General Lissima sighs impatiently, and with an impossibly high leap onto the mast, strikes downward with her sword.
The very tip of Lady Glandula’s tentacle is sliced free, with a terrible scream.
“Mother!” Crispin shouts, as Lady Glandula and Higham Dry Senior hurtle past down the sloping deck, still entangled. “Grandpappy!”
“Hoooome!” cries Homer, hugging his pillar, like a cheap floozy.
General Lissima laughs, and scuttles after them, jumping over her husband and the bounty hunters en route.
“So keen to walk the plank!” she squeals happily, as Lady Glandula’s injured tentacle halts them at the railing right where the crocodile-feeding platform is attached, high above the swirling abyss. “Now, who wants to negotiate? Who wants to swear loyalty to the Nine a.m. Lounge first?”
“Never!” spits Higham Dry, clinging to the platform with his remaining mechanoid arm, cradling his stump protectively.
“No great loss,” General Lissima shrugs. “All you boys over at the Six a.m. Lounge interested in is beer and sauna and clean socks. And persecuting my husband, which is very naughty.”
“The Incantations!” cries Lady Glandula pitifully, her terror at the proximity of Atum evident, while she scrabbles to hold onto the side of the barge. “Give them to me!”
“Hmmm, but what are they worth, Lady Bathtub?” the General muses, twiddling the little book between her fingertips. “I already have a ship. Don’t need yours. What else have you got? And don’t try to fob me off with any of your undead pets. I have plenty of those too.”
Luke reaches the end of his song. But this time, Atum remains, his all-seeing omnipotent eye taking interest in the proceedings as they unravel below his gaze.
Beneficience takes Luke’s hands in her own and sobs into them.
“Forgive me!” she beseeches him, still on her knees at his feet.
“My dearest,” he says gently. “I am so proud of you, in spite of our differences… You have done such a good job with Corporal Punishment…”
“He is your son!” she blurts out. “I raised him – for you!”
“I know, my dearest,” he says soothingly, and pats her a little awkwardly on the gilt-frilled turban.
In the touching moment of distraction, Crispin vaults over the altar, and seizes me by the hair.
“Now, Mother!” he shouts. “While there is still time!”
“No!” I scream, and flounder for a good excuse to delay things. “I’m not sterile!”
“I don’t think you have anything I want, do you?” General Lissima smiles down at the crocodile-feeding platform, and twirls the sword again, preparing to strike.
There is a swisshhh through the air overhead, and one of the blood-red sails on the mast abruptly furls, lopsidedly, its rigging pulled sharply by a swinging counterweight.
“Gotcha,” is all Ace says, as he plucks the General neatly from the deck, too fast for her to react – and then, on its outermost swing, he lets go of the rope.
I gasp, as the two of them vanish over the side, into the boiling darkness below.
Again, with the jealousy problem… Why not me, Ace Bumgang??!
Ow – I wince, as Crispin twists my hair in his fist, holding me captive.
“Mother!” he calls out again.
Lady Glandula drags her despairing gaze from the bottomless depths beneath her, and seems to focus once more on her last chance of salvation. A new body…
“Yesss, Crispin…” she croaks, and starts to haul herself back onto the deck.
Higham Dry Senior looks on, helpless, and apparently weakening inside his special clockwork armour. The red glow in his eye-slits looks as though it is fading.
“Nobody want to help an old man?” his mechanical voice echoes, wryly.
“Nobody want to help a pizza-delivery girl?” I mutter.
Atum’s giant eye blinks.
“Sing it again, Gaylord,” says Beneficience, breathlessly. “Sing it – like you used to…”
Luke smiles benevolently down at his wife.
“‘You must remember this…’”
Beyond the crocodile-feeding platform, something flashes upwards out of the water, with barely a splash of foam.
“You are very scrawny,” Lady Glandula hisses at me, as she slithers over the railing.
I see the metallic twinkle and the blur, whirring in the air, like something out of the Wild West.
“Yes,” I agree, bravely. “I am a fidget.”
The zombie Queen opens her mouth to respond to my insolence, but only silence emerges.
The silence unrolls across us all like a deathly flood.
“‘As time goes by…’” Luke’s heavenly voice croons.
Lady Glandula was never destined to hear it.
Her human body crumples onto the floor.
The head rolls slowly backwards, and plummets from the end of the platform, alongside the retracting, sword-wielding tentacle that had finished her.
I swear an echo of the General’s laugh flits upward, snatched away in turn by the breeze.
“Typical Nine a.m. Lounge mercenary!” Higham Dry grumbles. “Rush off leaving job half done! There still a dirty great big squid up here, young lady!”
Original ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ trailer – enjoy 🙂
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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