Katy Perry vs Rihanna – We Found Love in Vegas mash-up…
The interior of the giant wooden pyramid is quiet, with just the empty pedestal and altar in the centre, and for a moment I take a deep thankful breath.
“I guess we’re safe…” I announce, before spotting a movement from a far darkened corner.
Crispin Dry lurches almost into view, and in one terrible split second, I think he’s injured.
“Crispin!” I cry out.
He staggers out of the shadows – and then I see what’s hindering him. In his arms, is the unmistakeable – if unnameable – body of my housemate, Miss Thingy.
“That’s why you should never trust a brain-muncher,” Carvery sighs, and is about to level the shotgun at Crispin – when Homer squeaks indignantly, pushing the gun-barrels aside.
Crispin advances on the altar, and we hurry over, as he places her body carefully on its surface.
“What happened, Crispin?” I ask.
“She reached into an urn, and was bitten by one of Mother’s pet vipers.” Crispin turns over Whatsername’s left arm, displaying two ugly blackened circular weals on the inside of her wrist. He looks up at me in despair, and his expression changes as he takes in my new turn-out. “Miss Bellummm… you look… you are…”
“Had to change, I know,” I explain, blushing fiercely.
Dressing up in his mother’s clothing probably not the best thing to do, on an almost-first-date…
“You look… most presentable…” he admits wretchedly, at last. Dragging his gaze back to the body of my housemate, he heaves a dejected sigh. Those broad shoulders in the black wool suit slump, at a loss. “I fear she needs more than an electric shock this time, Mr. Slaughter.”
“I’ve seen worse,” he grunts. “Usually they’re fine by the time I get back from work. Waiting for me with their gimp masks, crotchless aprons and feather dusters… it’s all just a bit of drama for the attention…”
“I reckon she could actually be dead,” Ace remarks. He lifts up Miss Dumbass’s other arm, and lets it fall back onto the altar, with a loud Bonnnk.
“So are most folk around here,” Carvery points out. “No stopping them, though.”
“She can be saved,” Crispin nods, earnestly. “But we do not have all of the required equipment here. We will have to head for the Six a.m. Lounge.”
He pulls a lever on the side of the altar. With a grinding sound, it starts to lower into the floor.
“She will be safe here,” he continues. “It was Mother’s regeneration casket – while she was alive. Once we have the necessary items to activate it, she will be as good as new.”
Am I imagining things – or does Carvery look none too pleased with that idea?
A seamless panel closes over Twat-Face, as she sinks fully below the deck. I wonder if there are air-holes down there, in case she spontaneously recovers. Someone has to pay their share of the rent…
“Who are we missing?” Crispin asks. “Has anyone seen Mr. Lukan?”
“Right here, Mr. Dry!” Luke’s voice calls out. He’s behind us, in the entranceway to the pyramid. “I think you might all want to come and see this!”
* * * * *
Outside, on the gigantic upper deck of the barge, a strange steady breeze is blowing. And the surface of the river is moving.
Not with crocodiles – but in an oddly geophysical, concentric circular motion.
“I think it’s a whirlpool,” Luke reports.
We look over the side. Crispin’s paddle-steamer, moored on the opposite bank, bobs on its tethers at the edge of the watery disturbance.
“It is not a natural occurrence,” says Crispin, grimly.
The rotating phenomenon dips in the centre – and blinks, revealing a huge, reptilian yellow eye.
“Sarah!” The butt of the shotgun clips the back of my head. Carvery is grimacing, rattling a finger in one ear. “Screaming again, Jeez… control yourself. How many sets of underwear do you get through in a day?”
The eye starts to rise out of the vortex. Scales… and more of those weird alien tentacles around it too…
“What is it?” I whisper.
“Not what,” Crispin murmurs. “More of a who.”
Taller than the masts on the giant barge, it towers over the river. The snakelike head curves downward, and swings around, surveying the surroundings. River weed trails from it, and crustaceans tumble from its sides.
“What does it want?” Ace Bumgang asks. “Is this the part where we hand over a convenient virgin sacrifice?”
“Ssshhhh!” I hiss. “This isn’t Fifty New Ways With Virgins day!”
“Sarah, if you can name fifty new ways with a virgin, and still be a virgin after number one, you’re either doing it wrong – or an incredible liar,” Carvery remarks.
“They’re usually doing it wrong on purpose,” Ace tells him. “Because they reckon it doesn’t count.”
“What?” Carvery scowls. “So you can’t change lanes without indicating?”
“It is Atum,” Crispin says, sombrely. “It means – there is unfinished business…”
An echoing, bubbling sound comes from deep within the massive serpent’s body. Dwarfed alongside, the sides of the barge vibrate, making the timbers creak.
“What kind of business?” Luke asks. He has produced his iPhone, and is trying to take a picture of himself, with the forbidding leviathan towering in the background.
“The business of the fabric of the Universe.” Crispin glances meaningfully at the golden clockwork hand, tucked into the belt part of my gown. “If he is disturbed from his waters – it means the world is not yet finished.”
“What do we do?” I ask cautiously.
“We try not to get in his way,” Crispin confirms.
“Abandon ship?” Luke suggests.
“Yes,” Crispin nods. “But in an orderly fashion. Walk, do not run, to the nearest exit.”
* * * * *
It feels strange without Miss Fuckwit, as we set off inland away from the monstrous barge, and the even bigger sea-monster.
Could she really have been bitten by a viper? I mean, it did look that way, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen an actual snake-bite before – but what if Crispin’s not being completely honest?
Could it have been a zombie-bite?
Or even – I risk a glance at Carvery Slaughter – a Taser-burn? He definitely didn’t look too happy at the thought of her being revived ‘as good as new’…
The serpent-thing, Atum or whatever it is called, is preoccupied with the land around the pyramids, behaving as though something is mislaid – as it scans every surface, nook and cranny, with its huge yellow eye, on the top of the apparently endless prehensile neck.
“The Six a.m. Lounge will give us a chance to review our situation,” Crispin announces, leading the way, in his rolling zombie gait, along another avenue of palm trees. “But the route from here is not the most straightforward…”
“Not more tunnels…” I groan, wearily.
“Not at all.” Crispin pauses, and surveys the silent sandstone side-streets. “We merely need to find the travelling carpet-salesman.”
“Oh, is that it?” I say. My voice sounds oddly high. Is this what they call hysteria?
“Almost,” Crispin continues. He seems to sense my unsteadiness, and takes my arm reassuringly, with his cold zombie one. “He also enjoys a good barter, and drives a hard bargain.”
Why do I get the feeling that the word ‘virgin’ is going to be brought up again imminently?
We turn a corner into a pillared square, perhaps an empty market-place.
“This place is dead,” Ace remarks. “No offence.”
A large sandstone block pitches abruptly into the ground from high above, right in front of us. It’s big enough to demonstrate that a direct hit would have made our journey to the Six a.m. Lounge completely unnecessary.
We all look up, and spot the disappointed gray zombie face at the top of a pillar briefly, before it abruptly withdraws.
Suddenly, it seems that every shadow in the square is occupied by other shadows…
“None taken, Mr. Bumgang,” Crispin replies. “I think your estimation of the populace here is entirely accurate.”
‘Death on the Nile’ trailer, featuring Peter Ustinov and star cast – Enjoy 🙂
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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