Prince vs. Kate Bush – Times for Running mash-up…
We dash past the customers of Casabladder, who deign to turn their icy stares of apathy at us, as we hurtle through without caution.
“My brother!” Cottoneye Joe bellows, and Sandy skids abruptly to a stop, while I cannon into his back, like a Newton’s twat. “Your medicine. For our cousin.”
He holds out a green glass bottle with a cork stopper, held in place with an intricately-twisted gold filigree wire.
Sandy accepts it, with a deep bow. I find myself sagging in the same manner automatically in self-preservation, still determined not to offend anyone if I can help it.
“Thank you, B’Dah B’Dim!” Sandy shouts at his own sandals, before tucking the bottle inside his belt and snapping upright again, in a way that would have put most men’s hamstrings on the at-risk register. “Come, Miss Bellum!”
Remarkably, nothing is disturbed in our wake, as we rush back outside into the streets of the citadel comprising the Eight a.m. Lounge.
“What will happen to Carvery and Amiira?” I gasp, struggling to keep pace.
“That is up to the Surgeons of Justice!” Sandy calls over his shoulder. “Let us hope the officials are having a good day!”
We pound along the narrow alleyways, getting busier now with traders and hagglers. Somehow, Sandy keeps his robes clear of the stalls and passers-by in the headlong rush.
Two shadows fly overhead again, and I recognise Ace still in pursuit of Luke, across the rooftops.
“Stop, you stringy chav!” Ace’s voice is heard yelling. It is followed by the sound of gunshots, which almost stops my exhausted heart in its tracks.
“Why are they shooting?” I cry.
“They are easily excited, Miss Bellum!” Sandy tells me. “They all want to be part of the chase and the capture! A running thief is vermin here – open season is declared!”
“Sounds more like ‘Open Fire!’,” I retort, and am rewarded with a volley of further shots.
I try to keep my eyes on Ace as he runs along the ridge-poles and gutters, after our errant taxi-driver. They clatter over the clay tiles, and slither over laundry laid out on the baking terracotta to dry, in the morning sun. More than once they cross the alleyway, leaping from aerial flight-path to flight-path, as Luke attempts to shake off his pursuer.
“If you didn’t nick it…” Ace hollers. “Why are you running?”
“Only dead men stand still!” Luke cries over his shoulder, and is almost proven right on the spot as a brick chimney beside him is shot to pieces.
He clutches his hands to his head, cursing, and dashes wildly away again.
Ace runs straight through the wreckage of the chimney, kicking the rubble aside, and disappears after him, out of sight from the ground below.
“Hurry, Miss Bellum!” Sandy urges me.
I realise that I’ve been staring into space at the spot where Ace was a second before, and pull myself together once more. Oh, yes. What will happen to Carvery? I hope they have some special torture policy here prior to cutting bits off him… or just a little room somewhere with a broken deckchair and some manacles… maybe do a few choice things to him with a knotty rope and some hot water…
What’s it called, the torture thing they do, with the board? Wakeboarding? Surfboarding? Maybe I made it up…
We reach the alleyway outside the surgery, and at first I only see the huddle of camels.
“Amiira!” Sandy roars. “Where are you? Make it known that you are chaperoned, my white desert lily!”
Carvery steps out from behind the largest camel, frowning.
“What’s with all the yelling?” he grumbles.
“Ace said you were here alone with Amiira,” I pant, catching up.
“Should have known he’d go and drop me in it,” Carvery scoffs. “He won the toss over who got to chase Luke when we recognised him, and left me here on my own. For all I know, Amiira’s still inside, with Crispin and Homer and A’Bandaiid.”
Sandy hurries inside. But as for me, I’ve never felt so disappointed. The tears are pricking at my eyelashes before I can stop them.
“What?” Carvery asks, suddenly grinning. “You look like you’ve lost a dollar and found a dead donkey.”
“But… but…” I blab, the exhaustion and adrenalin too much for me all at once. “I only wanted to see them do the cheese-board thing before they cut anything off…”
“Why are you obsessing over what you’re missing out on in the world of cheese?” he wants to know. “If you’re that hungry, I’m sure there are some spare parts from the Seven a.m. Lounge that Crispin might let you nibble on. He could probably spare you a kidney.”
One of the camels groans, in almost a human fashion. Carvery slaps it on the many layers of blankets sharply, and it stops.
“No, I’m not hungry,” I sigh, and slump against the wall dejectedly. Damn. No entertaining torture for Carvery Slaughter yet. I’d have loved to see him get cheese-boarded, I acknowledge shamefully.
Yes. Tie him to a large Blue Stilton and force a well-matured Stinking Bishop up his nose until his brains explode out of his ears…
“Sarah,” Carvery says, in that warning voice that suggests he knows exactly what I’m thinking. “You’re drooling again.”
“Sorry.” I wipe my chin absently.
“Are you sure you haven’t had a stroke?”
Sandy emerges again, looking concerned.
“She has gone off alone, it appears,” he announces, and scratches his brow in agitation. “She must have sneaked out when you noticed the thief, Mr. Slaughter! My brother B’Dah B’Dim will cut off her allowance if she keeps gallivanting about like this!”
“That sounds painful,” I empathise, quickly. “How is Homer? Will we know if the medicine works soon?”
“He is not himself at all, Miss Bellum!” Sandy shakes his head sadly. “I fear that knock on the head may have affected him permanently!”
He whirls and goes back into the surgery, and I gulp. Poor Homer… and poor Crispin! How is he coping? But I daren’t go inside to find out. I have a feeling I’m still not going to be in his good books.
A crash overhead and a plummeting flowerpot indicates the passing of Luke once more, and his silhouette sails across the passage outside the surgery, disturbing the camels. It is followed by a skidding noise, and suddenly a stream of tiles flies after him, spinning one-by-one through the air, as if fired from a clay-pigeon trap.
“Wanker!” shouts Ace, skimming a sixth or seventh terracotta tile.
A distant yelp from Luke answers him, as one of the missiles evidently strikes its target. The yelp is succeeded by a loud crash, and looking up, I see Ace crouch, just before he clears the alleyway with another single leap, heading in the direction of the commotion.
Shouting erupts, and someone calls for a net.
“Sounds like they got him,” Carvery remarks, and gives the camel a sharp dig with his elbow, as it groans again in a pained manner. “I really hope we’re not missing all the grisly stuff.”
“Quite,” I agree, still thinking about Carvery getting cheese-boarded.
So unfair… even a little cottage cheese in the armpits, or some cold Dairylea, right in the ear-canal… I’d pay to see that…
Freerunning/parkour chase from Casino Royale – enjoy 🙂
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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