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“I could live here forevermore”, said Joby, scooping up a small handful of Kieran’s birthday cake and plastering it into his mouth.
“What, sealed up in this room you mean?” said Kieran, lying next to him in the brass bed “Like the man in the iron mask?”
“On this island I meant!” said Joby “We haven’t had any contact with the outside world for nearly three months, and it’s wonderful!”
When they had emerged from the cave back in December, they had found themselves on a huge lake, ringed on all sides by mountains. The cave seemed to be the only sea link with the rest of the world. In the middle of this massive circle of water was a grassy island, about a dozen acres all-told, with a lighthouse bang in the middle. The concrete jetty was still intact and the sloop had been safely moored there ever since, with the Indigo-ites (feeling as though they had a wealth of accommodation after the confines of shipboard life) dividing their time between it and the lighthouse.
The lighthouse was still very habitable, or at least after some work cleaning the range in the kitchen. There was no trace of any log-book, and, apart from some oilskins hanging up in the pantry, no possessions belonging to the previous inhabitants. By now the Indigo-ites were well-used to moving into strange, once-inhabited places, and were prepared to stay there for as long as they could.
On the ground floor of the lighthouse was the kitchen-cum-main-living-area, a pantry (with a pump), a store-room, a wireless room (the wireless had been found broken, but Ransey was working on repairing it in his spare time), and a loo. Up a flight of stairs was the first bedroom, a communal affair with what was known in lighthouse-keeper’s parlance as “banana beds”, curved bunks set into the walls. Up another flight was the second bedroom, a more homely place with a double bed and a substantial wooden wardrobe. Up another flight was the room under the light itself, used as both a store-room and a study. The light (disused) was reached by a metal ladder, and was circled by a walkway which afforded a splendid view of the mountains, from which could be seen in the very far distance isolated buildings which didn’t appear to be inhabited. There was another store-room directly underneath the kitchen, buried in the bowels of the island, and that was the accommodation in the lighthouse.
During the past three months they hadn’t left the island or the sloop, except to occasionally take the sloop on a drive round the lake to keep the engines functional. They hadn’t landed at the mainland though. They were nervous of the shore, although nobody really knew why.
“I knew we’d be alright if we could find fresh water”, said Joby “And this lake is a fresh water one so we’re alright”.
“We won’t get any parcel-drops from Glynis though”, Kieran warned.
“We might, if Ransey can get the wireless working”, said Joby “Trouble is, it’s gonna be hard getting a message to her without the rest of the world finding out”.
“And it could put her in danger too”, said Kieran “At least this way she can plead genuine ignorance as to where we are”.
“Quite”, said Joby “So make the most of this, it might be your last birthday cake!”
Adam came up the stairs, and stood over Joby, rather apologetically.
“I know I promised you the morning off”, said Adam “But I desperately need help below. Bardin has taken Bengo away from us and put him onto cleaning the tack instead”.
“He can’t do that!” said Joby.
“Actually I’m rather afraid he can”, Adam sighed “He’s Captain, his word is law. He says Bengo’s getting too fat working in the kitchen and needs more exercise”.
“He’s been getting too fond of the sound of his own voice ever since we got here”, said Joby.
“To be fair, he has had a lot to do, getting our new home organised”, said Adam “But Julian’s demanded to see him on the sloop this morning, so perhaps Bardin will get cut down to size a little. He has been getting rather too stressed of late”.
“Good”, said Joby “So once he’s been given a good smack, can we get Bengo back again?”
“Lo-Lo, you’ve been in there a quarter-of-an-hour”, said Adam, now standing in the kitchen outside the loo door.
“I’m thinking”, said Lonts, who was also smoking his pipe.
“Go easy on that loo-roll”, said Joby “No chucking it all over the floor like you normally do. We want it to last us as long as possible”.
“What did we use on the desert island?” said Adam “I can’t remember”.
“Grass”, said Joby.
“Oh yes”, said Adam “So we did”.
“Cheer up”, said Farnol, as he and Bengo sat near the edge of the island “Most people’d give their eye-teeth for a job like this. Working outdoors in the sunshine, with me!”
“I’m really annoyed at Bardy”, said Bengo, applying saddle-soap to a saddle in a rather lacklustre fashion “He’s not given a thought to anyone else’s feelings. He’s turning into a monster”.
Farnol thought that Bardin wasn’t acting much differently to normal, but for once he held it tongue. He looked down in the direction of the jetty where Rumble, Mieps and Hillyard were standing in a line, fishing. Bardin emerged from the sloop and walked past them.
“You can give him a piece of your mind now”, said Farnol “He’s heading this way”.
“I don’t feel like speaking to him”, said Bengo.
“Well you’re a fat load of use then aren’t you!” said Farnol.
Bardin walked through the wild grass towards them.
“How’s it going?” he asked, now standing there with his hands on his slim hips “You need to work better than that. That leather has to be like a mirror. I want to be able to see my face in it”.
“I’d love to see your face in it!” said Bengo “I don’t see how doing any of this is going to burn off calories, Bardy. It’s a stupid idea”.
“Your arms are getting too flabby”, said Bardin “It’ll tone them up a bit”.
“That’s stupid”, Bengo muttered “I’m not meant to be Godle the Mighty Strong Man!”
Farnol took a sharp intake of breath at the mention of Godle’s name.
“Did Julian sort you out?” Bengo continued “What did he use on you?”
“His hand”, Bardin mumbled.
“Tch”, said Bengo “If it’d been me carrying on like you I’d have got the strap or the paddle”.
“That’s enough!” said Bardin “Whatever happened to all this blind obedience you once promised me? I’m going indoors”.
“You won’t be very popular in there either!” Bengo shouted after him.
Bardin found Adam and Joby preparing lunch, and Kieran in the pantry filling up a pail of water from the pump. Lonts was sitting at a corner of the table, still smoking his pipe.
“What’s that?” Bardin asked Adam, in an attempt to sound hearty and managerial.
“Vegetable broth”, said Adam, who was stirring a large cauldron of pungent-smelling stew on the range.
“With TINNED vegetables”, said Joby, in a noticeably vicious tone of voice.
“It won’t be long before your new garden starts producing something”, said Bardin.
“Fat chance of that!” said Joby “When am I gonna get a chance to work on it properly when we’re short-handed in here? What you’re doing at the moment is a Codlik style of organising!”
Bardin made a dramatic exit, slamming into the store-room.
“Joby, go and apologise”, said Kieran “Comparing him to Codlik! None of us deserves that!”
Bardin was standing by the oilskins hanging on the wall, fondling them as though they were fur coats.
“Alright, I’m sorry, I overstepped the mark”, said Joby, going up to him “But we need Bengo in there. You have no idea how much work there is preparing three meals a day for sixteen people. Sixteen! And it frustrates me when I can’t do the garden. I know we’ve got a lot of tinned supplies, but you can’t beat fresh stuff. And it’ll mean we can be even more self-sufficient out here”.
“I’m sorry too”, said Bardin “I should have taken all that into account and I didn’t”.
“Anyway, what does it matter if Bengo puts on weight?” said Joby “You’ve always said he’s been prone to being podgy all his life. You wanna try worrying about an anorexic! Bengo sneakily stuffing himself with food’s nowhere near as worrying as Kieran hiding slices of toast up his sleeves to kid you he’s eaten it!”
“Joby”, Bardin murmured, and wrapped him in his arms.
They next heard a lot of whooping in the kitchen, and emerged to find that Bengo had been retrieved from outside by Lonts, who was standing there looking very pleased with himself.
“We knew you wouldn’t mind, old love”, said Adam to Bardin.
After lunch Joby and Kieran went round the back of the lighthouse to work on Joby’s new kitchen garden. Whilst they were sorting out the bean-sticks Julian and Hillyard sauntered round the corner of the tower, carrying mugs of tea and hunks of bread.
“Didn’t you get enough to eat at lunchtime?” said Joby.
“We’re not on rationing already are we?” said Julian. He looked across at Kieran “Is that one of my shirts you’re wearing?”
“No, I think it’s one of Farnol’s”, said Kieran.
“That accounts for why it looks like a bell-tent on you!” said Julian “You’re not hiding your anorexia again are you?”
Kieran lifted up the shirt to expose his skinny, but not skeletal, torso.
“Ugh, put it away!” said Julian “Actually, on second thoughts, keep it out. Hillyard needs distracting. He keeps getting emotional about missing the Bay”.
“We all get homesick about missing the Bay”, Hillyard protested “It was Bardin earlier saying how much he missed the forest that set me off”.
“Ach don’t worry, it’s nor forever”, said Kieran.
“Just a few decades”, said Joby “Until Codlik dies”.
“Time’ll fly past”, said Kieran “You’ll see!”
“Hoowie, be careful up there”, said Bardin, calling up the ladder which led to the light “I’m not sure how safe it is”.
“I’ve got a good head for heights”, said Hoowie, coming back down into the room below the light, clutching a pair of binoculars. Hoowie often went above to scan the distant mountains. Like all of them he was fascinated by the smattering of buildings which were dotted around them. So far though they had seen no sign that there was life in any of them.
“I’ve had an idea about Codlik”, Hoowie continued.
“I’m not sure I’m in the mood for jokes about Codlik at the moment”, said Bardin.
“No no it’s serious, a serious idea”, said Hoowie “If we could lure him here, him and that Nola bird, and incarcerate him here, like an island prison you see”.
“How do we get him away from the Church?” said Bardin “How do we get him here without all them coming along as well? We could be luring Kieran’s death-squad here”.
“They won’t kill Kieran”, said Hoowie.
“I wish I had your confidence!” said Bardin.
“They won’t”, said Hoowie “Kill Saint Kieran? The public’d lynch ‘em!”
“So-called religious men have done such things before”, Bardin pointed out.
“Those were different times”, said Hoowie.
“And what makes these times so bloody civilised then?” said Bardin.
“The fact that Kieran led us out of the darkness that’s what”, said Hoowie “What are you looking at me like that for?”
“That was quite profound for you”, said Bardin.
“I always say profound things, just you lot never listen to me!” said Hoowie “Look, we could get Codlik put here on his own, and he’d never bother us again. Just we need to get Ransey to finish fixing the wireless first”.
“And what do you think of Hoowie’s idea?” said Ransey, when Joby took some cocoa into the wireless room later that day.
“It’s alright”, said Joby “It’s still not enough for me though. I know it’s an evil thing to say, but for ages now I’ve been wishing someone’d shoot him, Codlik that is”.
“Well don’t look at me!” said Ransey “Living with you lot has turned me soft! I doubt I’m up to shooting anyone in cold blood anymore”.
“You shot Father Gabriel that time”, said Joby.
“Father Gabriel was on his way out anyway”, said Ransey “I merely hastened his end by a few hours. It was a mercy killing”.
“A mercy for the rest of us anyway!” said Joby.
“My job is to protect Kieran, and the rest of you”, said Ransey “And the best way at the moment to do that, as far as I can see, is to keep him out of the way of civilisation, at least until Codlik The Very Civilised One has departed this earth. And I’m aware it might take decades, I overheard you earlier, but we’ll just have to sit it out. One day we’ll be rid of him once and for all, you just have to be patient. We have more time than he does”.
“I hope so”, said Joby “I wanna be around to see this world when he’s gone from it! Not just for our sake, but Glynis’s too!”
“She’ll out-live him too”, said Ransey “I haven’t noticed her getting any older in recent years either”.
“Kieran moves in mysterious ways”, he said.
“Why is everybody crammed in here again?” said Julian “I’ve got used lately to there being more room in the bed”.
Since arriving in their new land, the Indigo-ites had divided their sleeping accommodation between the sloop and the lighthouse. It made for a less stifling communal bed.
“I think we all want each other’s company tonight”, said Adam “That’s what comes after a day of talking about Codlik!”
Julian was woken up later in the night by the moon shining directly across his pillow. Nearby, Bardin and Bengo were fast asleep, Bardin had his fingers caught in Bengo’s hair as though he was trying to stop him running away. Bengo had once remarked that Bardin often unwittingly slept that way when he was stressed, and had done ever since their childhood. Julian had Adam sleeping right next to him, and he was twitching in his sleep, as though having a bad dream. Julian tried to soothe him without waking him up.
“I noticed you all asleep last night”, said Julian, early the next morning, when cups of tea were being passed round the cabin “And you were all tense”.
“Why were you awake, Julian?” said Lonts.
“Tense by any chance?” aid Adam.
“The Moon woke me up”, said Julian.
“Noisy bloody thing ent it!” said Hillyard.
“Throbs like a generator all night”, said Joby “Chucking out all that light”.
“Shut up!” said Julian “What I am trying to get at is that it was talking about Codlik which made you all tense”.
“Hardly an earthshattering revelation, old love”, said Adam.
“So Codlik’s name will not be mentioned around here unless it’s absolutely necessary”, said Julian.
“We’ll have to mention it at some point”, said Lonts “For when we come up with Our Plan”.
“That could be years away yet”, said Ransey.
“Particularly the time it’ll take you to fix the wireless!” said Julian “Until that day comes Codlik’s name is on the forbidden list, o.k? And before anyone starts, I am not usurping Bardin’s position of authority. It’s simply that I do not want to spend another night like last night”.
He swept out and into the heads.
“I’m glad that’s over”, said Joby “Normally when he wants to speak to us all like that we all get yelled at!”
“Witchcraft”, said Codlik “We can get him on a charge of witchcraft”.
“W-w-witchcraft?” said the Arch-Pater “In what respect can we accuse Kieran of witchcraft?”
“You only have to look at him”, said Codlik, with ill-concealed irritation at the Arch-Pater’s slowness to grasp the point “Are you getting any younger? Am I? Is anyone other than him and his … followers? He must use sorcery, it’s the only answer”.
“Kieran has some ways that are still unknown to the rest of us”, said the Arch-Pater, trying to inject a note of caution into the conversation.
“Exactly, and that isn’t the way it should be”, said Codlik “We have to build a new world of trust, peace and openness, and we can’t have him in it, getting up to things that are alien and repugnant to any normal, civilised human being”.
“Kieran has caused no harm with … with whatever powers he has”, said the Arch-Pater.
“You are either with us or against us, Your Holiness”, said Codlik, bristling with indignation “There can be no half-measures in this holy war”.
“A holy war against Kieran?” said the Arch-Pater, going almost faint at the thought of the massive amounts of unpopularity that this would bring to the Church.
“Against subversives”, said Codlik “People must be made to see that Kieran’s way is alien to any true religious decency. We must stand shoulder to shoulder in this, Your Holiness, shoulder to shoulder!”
“There we go, Codpiece, old chap, open wide!” said Julian, peeing into the toilet bowl “Nice to see you swallowing your words at long last!”
“I thought we weren’t supposed to mention Beelzebub’s name around here”, said Ransey, opening the door of the heads and leaning against it.
“There are some pleasures you simply cannot deny me”, said Julian, vigorously shaking his big cock.
“You’ll do yourself an injury if you think about Codlik when you’re peeing!” said Ransey.
“It might almost be worth it”, said Julian, now stowing it away in his pyjama bottoms.
The rule about not mentioning Codlik’s name was doomed to failure, not least because Julian, so angered by “ferret face’s” antics, was unable to stop mentioning it himself.
That evening, when everybody was crammed into the kitchen of the lighthouse, a discussion was started about who was likely to go in on Codlik’s side, if he pursued a vendetta against Kieran.
“We can be sure of one thing”, said Kieran “It won’t be Sade. Codlik’s pious self-righteousness would be anathema to him. Whoever’s helping Sade at the moment it certainly isn’t Codlik!”
“I’ve just tried to imagine Codpiece sitting through ‘Salo: 120 Days Of Sodom’”, said Julian.
“Oh no, he’s far too decent and morally upstanding for that, Jules!” said Adam.
“I’ve seen that film”, said Joby “It was disgusting! That wedding scene had me feeling sick for ages afterwards”.
“Sweet child”, said Adam “It wasn’t real shit you know”.
“I know!” said Joby “It looked like black-pudding to me, but it still made me feel sick. That Sade must’ve been a right one to come up with stuff like that”.
“He had an anal fixation”, said Adam.
“You can say that again!” said Joby “How can anyone be so obsessed by turds?!”
“Can we stop this conversation?” snapped Ransey, having to regretfully return his chocolate-coated homemade biscuit to his plate.
“He liked breath to smell foul”, Adam continued, recalling parts of the film.
“He’d get on well with Angel then!” said Joby “His breath stank like raw sewage!”
“I certainly expect they help each other”, said Kieran.
“This is a bit of a turn-up for the books isn’t it, Tinkerbell?” said Julian “You probably have the likes of the Marquis de Sade and the Devil on your side, and the real pious, holy men like Codlik can’t stand you!”
“That’s because bastards like Sade and Angel will always go after what they feel will give them what they want”, said Kieran “Whereas bastards like Codlik want to tell everyone else what they SHOULD want”.
“That’s very good, Patsy”, said Adam.
“Hm”, said Julian.
He turned to look at Mieps, as if for consolation, and gave a groan. Mieps, much to Julian’s horror, had taken up knitting.
“I think Bengo and Bardin wanted this room tonight”, said Joby, sitting on one side of the brass bedstead and removing his socks “You was a right little bastard getting in ahead of ‘em. Especially considering we only had it the other day”.
“That was my birthday, that didn’t count”, said Kieran, sitting on the other side and doing the same “Is Tamaz joining us?”
“He said he was”, said Joby “Mieps, Julian and Hillyard are gonna sleep below, so we’d better watch ourselves”.
“You’re alright”, said Kieran “I’m the one who’s nearest the door! What’s Mieps knitting anyway? It looks a real funny shape, whatever it is. It can’t be a jumper surely, it looks like a Wellington boot”.
“Close”, said Joby “It’s a pair of big socks, to wear under wellies”.
“Jaysus, I’m beginning to feel like we’re in the trenches!” said Kieran “At least they’re not khaki-coloured, that’s something”.
Tamaz came up the stairs, and flourished a pair of men’s white undershorts at them, which had been incongruously laced with a frilly edging.
“Finia’s done these”, he said “Guess who they’re for”.
“You, by any chance?” said Joby.
“I wouldn’t wear these”, said Tamaz “They’re men’s knickers”.
“Well you needn’t think I’m wearing ‘em!” said Joby.
“They’re not for you”, said Tamaz.
“That’s a relief!” said Joby.
“They’re for Bardin”, Tamaz draped them on the rail at the foot of the bed “He doesn’t know about it. We nicked a pair of his drawers. I bet you anything he’ll be sneakily wearing them. He won’t be able to resist”.
“What was that?” Joby suddenly leapt up off the bed “A noise in the distance. Did you hear it?”
“A wolf”, said Kieran “It’s quite some distance away”.
“It can’t reach us anyway”, said Tamaz, climbing into the middle of the bed “We’re on an island, there’s big stretches of deep water all around us”.
“It helps keep Angel and Josh away too”, said Kieran “Vampires don’t like crossing big stretches of water, it weakens them. Joby, get into bed. You won’t be able to see anything out there”.
Joby was hovering near the window, naked in the moonlight.
“If you get scared in the night”, said Kieran, as Joby joined them again “I’m sure Julian’ll let you slip into bed with him! … Joby, will you get into bed now and stop fretting about the noises outside!”
“Alright, alright!” said Joby.
“I can’t sleep in this”, Julian grumbled, on the floor below “I think it was built for a bloody midget!”
“I’m quite comfy”, said Hillyard, from his own banana bed.
“You’re shorter than me”, said Julian.
“Not much”, said Hillyard.
“I’m going to sleep upstairs”, said Julian “I’ll turf one of the others out and send him down here”.
He went up the stone stairway to the next floor.
“There’s something else outside, I tell yer”, Joby was saying.
“Like what?” said Julian.
“I dunno, Kieran won’t let me go and look”, said Joby.
“O.K, I give in”, Kieran got out of bed “I’ll go and look out of the bloody window for you!”
A few minutes later they had all gone downstairs to the main doorway of the lighthouse.
“There must be hundreds of ‘em”, Joby whispered in horror “Hundreds”.
In the distance the shoreline was ringed with zombies, their groans horribly evident in the still night air.
“Where have they all come from?” Joby continued “And why now? We’ve been here three months and not seen anything”.
“Perhaps it’s taken them that long to figure out we’re here”, said Julian “I don’t know how zombies communicate …”
“Ghouls instinct I spect”, said Hillyard.
“But they can’t get across the lake can they?” Tamaz looked at Mieps, as though for confirmation “We’re safe out here. The water’s too deep and wide for them to get across”.
“Let’s hope they don’t learn any boat-building techniques”, said Julian “Freaky, I’m joking, little one, we are safe on the island”.
“We’ve had trouble with zombies down this way before”, said Joby “Remember out on the ocean that time?”
“What the hell is down here that makes the dead rise from their graves?” said Kieran.
“Dunno”, said Joby “But it means effectively that we’re marooned out here”.
“And be thankful for that!” said Julian.
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