Nat King Cole – ‘When I Fall in Love’ original…
“Quite a nice patio ornament,” says Crispin, mildly.
“That’s if you make it as far as the new body,” says Higham Dry Senior’s voice, from within the impressive exoskeleton of finest Swiss watchmaker’s armour. “Without becoming tapas!”
Only one of his arms armoured in the incomplete suit, he gives a yank on the captive tentacle, overbalancing the zombie Queen, and upsetting Beneficience’s careful dried floral display around my still-inert housemate.
Crispin’s cousin loses her tether, tosses aside the olive branch, and seizes a large knife from the altar, advancing on her restrained husband, Luke.
“Is it too late to agree to mediation and couples therapy?” Luke suggests, as she raises the knife.
“No!” I shout, and am dumbfounded, as Crispin echoes my cry.
Both of us dive to Luke’s salvation, with differing agendas.
“Murderer!” I shout.
“Not without the formal ceremony!” Crispin hollers.
While Crispin wrestles with his cousin for possession of the knife, I thrust the burning torch at the attendant with the clockwork hand, before he can intervene again. He dodges to the far side of the altar, causing me to collide with the body of Miss Air-Head, as I struggle to reach him.
“Give that back!” I squeal at him, digging into Whatsername‘s ribcage with my elbow as I flail forwards. “It was given to me to look after!”
A hiccup beneath me almost goes unnoticed.
“Sarah…” says my housemate. “What’s going on? Where’s Carvery?”
Oh, God – not now!
“Get down, get down!” I hiss at her, pulling her clear of the plinth. “Sshhh! They want to use your body as a zombie Queen Squidmorph host! They mustn’t know you’re awake!”
“That queen over there?” She points over my shoulder.
“No, no – that’s Homer. Remember? He just wants to be a prom queen,” I reassure her. “That one, over the other side. Being dragged around by her tentacle, by the big angry cyborg. Long story.”
“Why is there a goat and a donkey watching?” she asks. “And who is that man with his head under the rug? Where is Carvery?”
I really don’t know which of those questions I’d rather answer least.
“I have to get the clockwork hand back, and try to get us home!” I whisper, hurriedly. “Ace is here somewhere…” Oh, yes. I spot him surreptitiously attempting to untie Luke from the wooden cross – while Crispin and Beneficience fight over his potential as a sacrifice – kicking out at any attendant zombies who interfere. “The man under the rug is…”
I have a brainwave, and hurry over to Justin Time. He is pinned to the floor by the booted feet of two of Higham Dry’s bounty hunters upon his driving cape and still at gunpoint by the Naval officer, resolutely hiding his head under the small mat.
I lift up one corner, and he screams.
“Justin,” I greet him. “Can you summon the rickshaw?”
“My wife smash all of them up already!” he rages. “I am grounded!”
“But I’ve seen rugs, captive on the aircraft-carrier outside…” I begin. “Is that your wife General Lissima’s boat? The big Naval ship? Could we get away from here on just a flying carpet?”
“You should be so lucky!” Justin scoffs. “You never sneak one past her! Believe me, every day I have tried! Sometimes four, no, six times a day!”
Lady Glandula is using her attendants as ammunition, seizing the poor helpless zombies by the legs and battering them against Higham Dry Senior’s armoured hull. He deflects them effortlessly, scattering spare parts. My housemate screams as a dusty skull rolls over her foot.
“Perhaps you should be the one thinking about mediation and counselling?” Higham Dry’s robotic voice chuckles, as he gives her tentacle a whip-crack, causing her to drop the enormous urn she had been poised to throw.
“The gods and I do not see eye-to-eye!” she spits.
“Shouldn’t have declared war on him while you were alive, then, should you?” Higham Dry replies, winding her tentacle around a pillar to deliver a body-blow. “You wouldn’t have had to run away to Egypt in the first place. Or had the most important Incantations taken away from you.”
“Atum took everything!” she roars, and the pillar crumbles as she contracts the tentacle, breaking free. “To the bottom of the ocean! Everything that was mine! My country! My culture! My business! My empire!”
“I can see where Crispin gets his monopoly fixation from,” Ace’s voice joins us.
“Ace!” I gasp. “Where’s Luke?”
“Said he was going to sort out his marriage.” Ace looks dubious. “I hope that means he’s got a bigger knife than she does.”
I look across at the altar. Crispin and Beneficience are still tussling with the sacrificial tools. Having disarmed one another several times already, they are now down to the hooks and the leather belt-roll, in a stroppy Tug O’War that I can clearly see harks back to their childhood as merely playful cousins.
Of Luke, there is no sign.
“I need to get the clockwork hand back,” I say. “I think it might be able to stop them…”
“I have a better idea,” says Justin Time’s Naval officer guard. We look up in surprise, and she pulls off her dark peaked cap. Before I can react, she has twitched the little leather-bound diary out of my hand. “How about you all wait here with Higham Dry Senior’s men, and I’ll get the clockwork hand back?”
“General Lissima!” I cry out. No!
“I told you,” Justin Time groans into his comfort-rug, as his wife runs off with the precious diary, grinning. “I try to sneak one past her many times! She always one sucker ahead!”
Over by the pedestal, Crispin and Beneficience knock the remainder of the floral display off the altar, and roll around inelegantly on the floor.
“Mine!” shrieks Beneficience, currently on top, with Crispin compressed beneath her suffocating bosom.
“Yield!” Crispin manages to blurt out, before his head disappears again under an enormous polka-dot corsage.
“Play nicely, kids,” Ace remarks, a statement which does something else weird to my ovaries. “Should we do something?”
Oh, yes, I’m thinking – but it’s probably not appropriate right now.
“I wouldn’t even know whose side we’re on at the present moment,” I admit.
“The one where none of us ends up with more alien squid tentacle butt plugs than we started out with,” Ace reminds me.
I glance up at the three bounty hunters guarding us, wishing I knew what their weaknesses are…
“‘When I fall in love, it will be for ever…’”
The tussle at the foot of the pedestal becomes a frozen tableau.
“‘Or I’ll never fall in love…’”
Beneficience raises her head uncertainly.
“Gaylord?” she snaps. “Is that you?”
Homer, ever vigilant for a song and dance number, hurries to the foot of the steps leading up the pedestal, and gestures upward with his pom-poms.
At the top, his bow-tie and cuffs straightened, a single dead rose from the altar clutched between his hands, Luke is singing to the rafters.
“Ooh, that lovely!” Higham Dry Senior the cyborg approves, windmilling an unfortunate zombie attendant in each hand like a nunchaku expert. “It take a hard woman to reject a man with great big lungs like those!”
Crispin struggles free from beneath his plus-sized cousin, and looks wildly at the vacant altar and suspended wooden cross of torture.
“Nooo!” he cries, pitifully. “The ceremony – all ruined!”
“No!” screams Lady Glandula, now using her tentacle to defend against Higham Dry’s attack. “Make him stop!”
“Yesss,” hisses another voice, and I look in its direction to see Mrs. Time, General Cutthroat Liss, clockwork hand in her grasp and stripping the flesh from the zombie still hanging onto it with her own tentacle.
The gray skin and connective tissue slides off the bones easily, like a well-cooked spare rib.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch Man v. Lunch again…
“I’ll go after the General and the clockwork hand,” says Ace, close to my ear. “You stay here with Whatserface and find a way to distract the bounty hunters.”
“How?” I demand, looking at my useless companions.
Justin Time with his head still stubbornly under the pointless rug. My housemate Shithead, huddling up between the drunk billy goat and the albino donkey. And an even less helpful Carvery Slaughter – turned to stone. My heart sinks.
I don’t think you can retrieve DNA samples from stone… what a waste…
“Oh, Gaylord…” says Beneficience, a tear in her eye and clasping her breast, as Luke sings on. “Can you forgive me?”
The panels in the great wooden pyramid start to creak, and slide apart, allowing bright shafts of sunlight through. Slowly, the structure retracts into the deck of the giant barge.
“You’ll think of something,” Ace assures me.
I give up. What do Higham Dry’s bounty hunters really want…?
As a last resort, I snatch the rug from Justin Time’s head, and spin it away across the deck as he scrabbles to retain it.
“Justin Time is escaping!” I yell. “Trying to steal that doormat! Stop him!”
It works – the three bounty hunters launch themselves after the errant rickshaw pilot, and pin him to the floor. Ace dashes off in the other direction.
“It’s nothing!” Justin Time protests, struggling. “A trinket! A souvenir! Nothing special! Not prototype, or anything important like that!”
The last of the panels is now flush with the deck, and my housemate squints up into the daylight.
“Oh, no,” she moans vaguely. “It’s going to rain.”
“Pop Quim, hopscotch!” says Higham Dry, throwing another unlucky zombie, javelin-style, at Lady Glandula. “If a man sing up a storm, who remember to bring umbrella?”
“Nooo!” she shouts. “Make him stop singing!”
I look up at the sky, into a gathering funnel of gunmetal-gray cloud. The Great Barge, usually as steady as a rock, begins to quiver.
“Not bad, lovely boy…” I echo. My voice is barely audible, even to my own ears. “Louder…”
‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ trailer – Enjoy 🙂
Read on for more mindless mayhem – see below…
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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