Go back to previous chapter


By Sarah Hapgood

Joby went up on deck first thing in the morning, to see for himself how bad the fog had become. It enveloped the two ships and the island, as though they had all become incarcerated in a smoky glass dome.

Suddenly Lonts loomed up out of the fog, booming “hello Joby”, terminating the eerie silence like a bomb-blast. Joby gave a nervous start.

“You really jumped there, Joby”, Lonts laughed.

“Are you surprised?” said Joby “With you looming up at me out of the fog like that! Enough to give anyone a heart-attack”.

“Perhaps we might not be moving on today in this weather”, said Lonts.

“Perhaps not”, said Joby “have to see if it clears at all during the day”.

Hillyard came over. He had been part of the final section of the night-watch.

“You’d better get your head down”, said Joby. “Did anything happen at all during the night Hillyard?” asked Lonts

“Some distant sounds of gunfire coming from the mainland”, said Hillyard “Very distant I suspect, but noise travels a long way out here”.

“Jesus Christ, there can’t be anymore left over there to fucking shoot surely!” said Joby.

“I’d better pop down to tell Bardin”, said Hillyard “Then I’m going to take forty winks”.

The fog-bank lingered for most of the morning, effectively sealing them in as thoroughly as if they were in an airtight vacuum. But there were hints that a rather tinny sunshine was trying to squeeze it’s way through. Bardin gave an order that they were to stay put until after lunchtime. Toppy was sent over to Lord Robert’s yacht to inform them of this decision, and to try and keep any of them from dropping in on the galleon.

As such, they had a relatively peaceful few hours. Adam managed even to spank Bardin in the dining-room, using one of the paddles. As they had to take these opportunities as and when they could, Adam made sure he did as thorough a job as possible.

Bardin was still in a prone position when Rumble scooted into the room.

“Figures have appeared on the mainland”, he panted “It don’t look good”.

Bardin had to be practically poured back into his trousers by Bengo. Somehow he managed to get himself up on deck.

The fog had almost cleared entirely. Mieps handed him a pair of binoculars, and Bardin scanned the far horizon of the mainland. Ranged along the cliff facing them was a substantial row of people, all brandishing guns and machetes. From their general demeanour they didn’t seem terribly friendly.

“I don’t like the look of them”, said Bardin “Not at all”.

“We should be alright over here though”, said Bengo, who had followed him up on deck “Shouldn’t we?”

“Not if they’ve got access to boats we’re not”, said Bardin “And this isn’t a time to be complacent. We’d better get on the move right away. Is Toppy still over at Lord Robert’s? What’s taking him so bloody long?”

“Oh he’s probably showing them how to peel a peach properly”, said Bengo.

“Well get over there and tell him … and tell all the others what’s going on”, said Bardin “And then both of you get back here sharp-ish. No dawdling to have a cup of tea. We’ve got to get on the move”.

“Where to?” said Rumble.

“Find another island”, said Bardin.

Kieran was down in the hold, grooming the horses by himself. Adam took a short break from the galley to come down for a chat with him.

“We seem to get so little time to talk these days”, said Adam, perching himself on an upturned barrel.

“It’s a particularly bad time at the moment”, said Kieran.

“Patsy, I don’t know what’s got me onto this”, said Adam “But I keep thinking of Angel”.

“Why?” said Kieran.

“I don’t know”, said Adam “I keep seeing images of him in my mind, but as he was when we first saw him, not the grotesque gargoyle he became. Could it be him who is behind all this?”

“In all honesty with you”, said Kieran “I don’t know”.

“I know this is going to sound a tad unreasonable”, said Adam “But is there anyway you could find out? You two seem to have some kind of telepathic wavelength sometimes”.

“Well if we have it’s not been working lately”, said Kieran.

“Oh so … you’ve tried then?” said Adam.

“Um yes … but don’t tell Julian, or my life won’t be worth living”.

“Normally I don’t like keeping secrets around here, but this time I’ll make an exception”.

Kieran came over and perched awkwardly on Adam’s knee.

“Normally I would think that Angel wouldn’t have anything to do with this”, he said “I don’t know why, but he usually likes to go for low-key depravities. He hates everybody, including other specimens of Evil, so he has no interest in giving them power. But … somehow … this COULD be him. And I don’t know why”.

“Perhaps he’s bored”, said Adam “Eternity is a long time to fill, and even Angel can’t spend EVERY moment immersing himself in carnage”.

“Well if it is him he’s doing a pretty good job of it at the moment!” said Kieran “I promise you if I hear anything I’ll let you know at once. But I haven’t had even the merest glimmer of communication from Angel in quite some while. The last time must have been when we saw him jigging about outside the Moss Palace up north”.

“Good heavens, that is going back a bit now”, said Adam “But then I have no track of time anymore. I don’t know how long we were on that river for. I haven’t a clue”.

Bardin woke up at the end of the afternoon. He had been dozing on his bunk, lulled to sleep by the motion of the boat through the water, and the pattering of the rain on the window.

Bengo crept carefully through the gloom, carrying a cup of hot sweet tea.

“Thought you might like this”, he said, placing the cup on the chair next to the bunk.

“How long have I been asleep for?” asked a drowsy Bardin.

“A couple of hours”, said Bengo, glancing up at the rain-splattered porthole “I think we’re leaving the tropic behind!”

“That’s going to be a shock to the system after all this time”, said Bardin “Has anything further been seen on the mainland?”

Bengo immediately looked awkward and very ill-at-ease.

“Something has happened hasn’t it?” said Bardin “C’mon, tell me, you know you’re hopeless at hiding anything from me”.

“Oh it was awful, Bardy”, Bengo sobbed “There were rows and rows of heads on spikes, all stuck along the cliff-tops”.

“What?” Bardin exclaimed “Why wasn’t I woken up?”

“What would have been the point?” said Bengo “What would have been achieved by that? I took the decision to leave you in peace. And I don’t care. I’m glad I did. Now drink your tea”.

“Alright, calm down”, said Bardin, reaching over and squeezing Bengos hands “I just don’t like to think of you being upset by all that, whilst I was snoring my head off down here, that’s all”.

“It was comforting me to know you were down here”, said Bengo.

“How are the others?” said Bardin.

“They’re not too bad”, said Bengo “We’ve all been chatting about it, and Kieran’s keeping an eye on everyone. I dunno about Lord Robert’s yacht. I guess we won’t know about them until we make landfall again”.

“No”, said Bardin “And I suggest we make that landfall on an island”.

Kieran walked into this cabin, and found Joby nestled in a corner of the sofa, drinking whisky straight from the bottle.

“Ach now Joby, don’t let Adam see you doing that”, he said, wrestling the bottle from him.

“I don’t fucking care”, Joby mumbled.

“Jayz, how much of this have you had?” said KIeran, holding the bottle up to the light “This is supposed to be our emergency cache!”

“This was an emergency”.

“No it wasn’t!” said Kieran, putting the bottle back in the cupboard “It’ll only be an emergency when Adam finds you’re not fit for work. You’d better have a wee lie-down. I don’t need these posturing displays of emotion from you, Joby”.

“Posturing disp …. you little bugger. You’re lucky I don’t wring your neck!”

Kieran burst out laughing.

“Well it broke you out of all this whisky-drenched moping didn’t it”, he said.

“You’re a chronic little winder-upper you are”, said Joby “If I wanted constant teasing I’d move one of the clowns in here!”

“Nah”, Kieran perched on the arm of the sofa “A sense of humour is what separates us from THEM”.

“Who? The clowns?”

“Ha ha. No I meant the Evil that is perpetrating all this misery. Be it vampires, demons, psychopaths, Angel, Crowley or Codlik”.

“Codlik?!” Joby nearly spat the word out “Where did he reappear from? Bloody Codlik?!”

“Joby, you’re amazing”, said Kieran “I mention all those other depraved types and you don’t bat an eyelid, and yet I mention Codlik …”

“Because he was an almighty pain in the arse!” said Joby “The biggest pain in the arse I’ve ever met!”

“Even worse than Angel?”

“Angel’s just in human. I just try to blank him. But Codlik … christ, he was there all the time, poking his nose in everything. You couldn’t get away from him! He wore you down. Best thing that ever bloody happened was when he drowned himself in Loch Ness. Please don’t tell me he’s come back. I don’t think I could bear it!”

“I don’t know”, said Kieran “I’m not ruling anything out at the moment. He has to be taken as a possibility”.

Adam went up on deck for a breath of fresh air, and found Jane taking the air on the poop-deck on the yacht, looking quite delightfully wind-blown in her waterproofs.

“How are you all over there?” she called.

“Oh we’re fine”, shouted Adam “And you?”

“Malachi wanted me to pass on that the Watcher island may not be far off”, said Jane “He says it will be the last place to give us sanctuary for a little while. It is sufficiently far from the mainland to make it more difficult for anyone coming over”.

“I do hope so”, said Adam.

“We will see you over there”, said Jane, clinging to a pole for support “You boys are such a laugh. Awfully good for morale”.

“Is morale a problem?” said Adam.

“Oh … well”, Jane looked sad for a moment “Some … well they don’t really try very hard. They make it much harder for the rest of us”.

Adam could only assume she was referring to Beatrix and Cat Woman. But he was wary of expressing too much sympathy in case he got suckered in somehow into taking them back. This would not be a popular decision.

“Well hopefully the island will make things easier”, he said.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 England & Wales License.

Go forward to next chapter

Return to Sarah Hapgood's Strange Tales and Strange Places web site