Peter Gabriel vs. Gnarls Barkley – Crazy in Your Eyes mash-up…
He’s not wrong about that. Lady Glandula as a human zombie Queen was intimidating enough. Minus the corporeal shroud of Crispin’s mother, into which her mantle had somehow been squeezed, she’s just a giant evil-looking cephalopod.
Its purple iridescent eyes seem to zoom in on me as it slides back onto the deck, crushing the already-rotting remains of its former human hermit-shell unheeded, leaving a trail of vile slime.
“Yuck!” I struggle, trying to free myself from Crispin’s grip on my hair. “Crispin, that’s not your mother! It’s a Squidmorph!”
“She has been my mother as long as I can remember,” he says distantly. “I have to save her.”
“Well, why don’t you volunteer?” I suggest, and managing to free an arm, flap around wildly until my hand closes around the hilt of the last, smallest knife on the altar.
Yes! Even though it’d barely core an apple…
Reaching behind my head, I make one desperate slice.
My ponytail of hair bunched in Crispin’s grip shears off. Suddenly released, and sporting a new asymmetric bob, I run.
The giant Squidmorph moves to block my path, and I jump over Justin Time and the bounty hunters – far less nimbly than General Lissima did, getting a groin full of billy goat forehead for my efforts – aiming for my one and only hope.
“Higham Dry!” I call out, finding the elderly zombie in his clockwork armour still suspended from the crocodile-feeding platform. I grab the railings in one hand and reach out to him with the other. “Let me help you!”
“That very sweet of you, young man!” says Higham Dry, his bionic transformation evidently stopping short of improved optometrics. “Crispin still making crazy philanthropist talk up there? Trying to Save the Squid, and not for dinner?”
“I’m afraid so,” I reply, straining my arm to reach him.
I risk a glance over my shoulder. The Squidmorph, lumbering and ungainly without its human carrier, slithers towards the altar, where Crispin is waiting to greet it with outstretched arms.
“She won’t last long without a body,” Higham says, coughing. “But they get very angry the longer they wait. Pump out lots of adrenalin, move like bolt of diarrhoea! Better to run away first. Not have to outrun squid – just have to outrun all of your other enemies. Any port in a storm for squid!”
“You can help!” I plead. “Crispin is your grandson! You can talk some sense into him!”
“You flatter an old man, my boy…” Higham Dry Senior’s robot grip slides a little – the wrong way. “But sense is all just a matter of perspective.”
He looks down into the swirling darkness.
“No!” I shout.
The golden armoured figure vanishes silently into the abyss.
I look up angrily at Atum, blotting out half of the sky.
“Why don’t you do something?” I yell. “You’re a god! I thought gods were omnipotent!”
Under his alien gaze, I feel very small indeed.
It occurs to me that the meaning of ‘omnipotent’ is not necessarily the same as I’m important…
“Screw you!” I snap, and turn to size up my chances.
One giant hermit squid – check; one Oedipally-fixated zombie entrepreneur and his pole-dancing transvestite zombie brother – check; one formerly-estranged and now reconciled couple serenading one another (aahhh) – check; one housemate, name as yet unremembered – check; one renegade rickshaw pilot coveting a doormat – check; three bounty hunters that it would be unwise to touch without rubber boots on – check; one drunk billy goat – check; one albino donkey – check; one girlfriend-battering psychopath turned to stone (damn it) – check…
I look down to see what I’m armed with. A knife that wouldn’t give blade envy to a teaspoon. A Trevor Baylis wind-up torch in my pocket. No clockwork hand, and no little diary full of special symbols. They both went overboard, with Ace and General Lissima.
“Do not worry, Mother,” I hear Crispin telling the Squidmorph soothingly. “She will not get away.”
Both look at me, and my grip tightens on the knife.
They must have a weak point – an Achilles’ heel…
I wish Ace Bumgang was here. He’d know. He seems to have time to spare, looking up strange wildlife on Wiki.
I look sadly back down into the bottomless whirlpool, and across at the Nine a.m. Lounge aircraft carrier, tilting in towards us on the far side. Another fighter jet slips off its chocks on the upper deck, pitching into the blackness below. A brief fireball denotes its demise before it is swallowed up.
My foot slips on the Squidmorph’s trail of slime, and I glance back again to confirm, seeing Crispin chanting and splashing her with water from a terracotta jug, evidently to ensure she doesn’t dry out before finding a new host.
They need access to the Deep Ocean Trench… We just have to ensure the first thing the young Squidling sees is the ocean… Maybe these tentacle chicks have something against dry land…
Nothing. I’m getting nothing from this. No ideas at all…
“You had better come here, Sarah Bellummm,” Crispin calls. “You will require lubricating as well.”
“Yes,” I agree, absently. “A large Guinness WD-40 would be about right…”
I look at the aircraft carrier. No longer running on Guinness.
Running on napalm.
I take out the Trevor Baylis torch and wind it up. Is it dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash? Or the other way around? I flash the light a few times at the other ship, half-heartedly.
Still nothing. The net of captive flying rugs on its deck flaps, trying to escape.
“Hey – Justin!” I call out.
“I never touched it!” Justin Time cries, slightly muffled under his captors and my housemate.
“How do you declare war on another Lounge?”
“Oh, that easy!” His nose appears from under the crush, his coolie hat somewhat crumpled around it. “You just make first pre-emptive strike!”
Fuck… not the easiest thing done from a wooden barge with apparently no firepower. I need something to make the occupants of that dirty great military ship angry…
“As you wish, Sarah Bellummm,” Crispin’s zombie monotone alerts me again. “But it will be much more painful this way.”
A tentacle lashes out towards my foot, and I jump. Higham Dry was right about something else.
They DO move damn fast when they’re desperate…
“Do not exhaust yourself, Sarah Bellummm!” Crispin cries, while I do laps of the deck of the Great Barge, dodging the slapping and groping tentacles. “You must conserve energy to survive the transition!”
“Not number one on my list of priorities!” I shout back.
“You will see immortality through her eyes!” he adds.
“She’s going to see tempura batter and hot chilli dipping sauce through mine!”
The giant Squidmorph lassos itself around the mast and tries a belly-flop from a great height, scattering the remaining zombie attendants – and eating one or two which get too close.
I only avoid her by grabbing part of the sail rigging Ace had swung from earlier, and slashing it with my little knife, so that the rapidly-ravelling rope hoists me up into the air, as the sail unfurls again in turn.
Swinging from my new perspective on things, I spot something down on the deck of the Great Barge that I had completely forgotten about…
I look out over the crocodile-feeding platform. Ace’s own rope still dangles there.
As the Squidmorph lunges up the rigging and hauls herself higher up the mast once more, I let go, and try to land in a professional stuntman’s tuck-and-roll, only succeeding in getting one of my feet caught around my ear. Meaning I scrabble, strained and crabwise, across the deck towards Justin Time and the others.
“Help!” cries my housemate. “This donkey keeps eating my hair!”
“Jolly good, carry on, Dobbin,” I pant, and snatch General Lissima’s peaked Naval officer cap from the floor.
“Um, Sarah…” she asks, managing to angle her head under the tussling heap so that she can see what I’m doing. “Why are you stabbing that hat?”
I thrust the tiny knife into the crown as many times as it takes to make a deep, ragged rip.
“I am declaring war!” I announce.
And just as the Squidmorph hits the deck again behind me, I run for the railings, and jump onto the crocodile-feeding platform.
My momentum means I skid the rest of the way, and have to make a desperate, split-second leap – grabbing the rope…
…I pirouette outward, over the yawning, watery abyss, and I judge the apex of the swing – the point of zero acceleration in either direction – then spin the General’s ravaged officer hat across the gap.
It flies – and as I swing backwards, it dips. My heart sinks in unison.
Atum moves, turning to watch its progress.
Just as the backs of my heels crack painfully back on the crocodile-feeding platform, a sudden updraft of air from the whirlpool lifts the declaration of war just high enough – to skim over the railings of the Nine a.m. Lounge aircraft carrier, and vanish aboard its upper deck.
Either they’ll respond – or I guess they might celebrate. Hopefully with fireworks.
Depending on how popular she was.
“I don’t understand your reluctance at all, Sarah Bellummm.” Crispin is rolling up his shirt-sleeves – although I don’t see the point, they’re already stained beyond Cillit Bang guarantees. “You looked so at home in Mother’s clothes earlier today…”
Oh, boy. Does he have issues…
“Hoooome,” says Homer indignantly.
“Yes, yes,” Crispin replies, exasperated. “They suit you too, Homer… but no matter. There is still the first option.”
The first option? What does he mean?
“Help!” shrieks my housemate again, as a tentacle latches around her ankle and tugs.
Oh – crap.
I vault back over the railings from the platform, and dive across the deck, catching hold of her wrists.
“Let her go!” Justin Time snaps. “Shameless hussy!”
“I thought you wanted a new girlfriend, Justin?” I huff, trying to brace myself against the donkey.
“Maybe…” he sulks. “But… she need a boob job first…”
“They’re in the wheelbarrow over there,” I promise, truthfully. “Help us!”
Justin sighs, and kicks out at one of his bounty hunter captors, who promptly delivers a small warning lightning bolt which each of us feels, and makes a real mess of my underwear this time. The donkey brays, the goat bleats, and the Squidmorph squeals, and retracts her tentacle.
“See?” says Justin. “Never mix water and electricity.”
“First rule of home D.I.Y…” I echo vaguely.
“Carvery used to say that,” says my housemate, looking past me at Justin with admiration.
Blimey, she moves on fast. What happened to ‘Where’s Carvery?’
He’d have finished off this fat old squid in a jiffy… so depressing…
The fat old squid in question doesn’t seem to be affected by electric shocks for long, and has its tentacle around my housemate’s leg again before our own pins and needles have worn off.
“Get your suckers off my girlfriend!” shouts Justin Time, as we both make a grab for her arms.
I hear Crispin’s voice, now sounding agitated.
“I am sure she will still let you borrow them, Homer…!”
The tentacle performs the whip-cracking manoeuvre, and my housemate is wrenched out of our hands.
“No!” Justin and I both shout. The bounty hunters pin us both to the floor.
The Squidmorph dangles the screaming Miss Numb-Nuts triumphantly in the air, high above the sacrificial altar.
“Now, Mother!” cries Crispin, his black eyes strangely aflame.
My housemate is slammed down onto the wooden plinth.
“Ow!” she yells, annoyed. “I bit my tongue!”
Crispin responds by drenching her with another bucket of the lavender-scented water, and while she splutters and coughs indignantly, the Squidmorph appears to coil itself, like a tensing spring…
I can’t look – I turn my head away. How could Atum allow this? Or did he already collect his dues, with Lady Glandula’s human body?
“Soulless…” I murmur unhappily, and wonder why the sky has suddenly, silently, without warning, turned from gray to blinding white…
The great mahogany-coloured planks of the deck splinter deafeningly beneath us, as the whole side of the barge explodes.
The central mast pitches into the river, every blood-red sail burning like the flags of Hell.
More gun turrets aboard the aircraft carrier swivel to face us after the first deadly assault, across the void.
“Holy ship!” Justin tries to burrow deeper under the bounty hunters. “Who piss the wife off now?”
But even more horrifying is the scream that comes from the altar – but it’s not the scream I was expecting.
“NOOOO!!” Crispin shrieks hideously.
Unwilling, I follow the sound of the cry with my scorched eyes, dreading what carnage I might see…
Miss Knobhead is on the floor by the altar, her nose bloody, her consciousness debatable. Crispin is on his knees alongside, clutching his hair in shock. And upon the plinth itself…
…Homer – clutching his pom-poms to his nearly concave gray chest. Smiling.
No squid… I look everywhere. Was she indeed blown up, as I had hoped?
Homer sits up slowly, and surveys us all with a regal – slightly smug – air.
“Oh, I see,” Justin Time scoffs. “He in too much of a hurry to wait and inherit his Mother’s wardrobe.”
“You mean…” I begin, and spot the telltale trickle of black squid ink down his skinny leg again. “Homer – you volunteered?“
2004 trailer for ‘The Chronicles of Riddick’ – Enjoy 🙂
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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