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“I’ve never written in Julian’s log-book before”, wrote Kieran “But it was felt I should record the destruction of the charnel-house below the rock, and Julian wasn’t with us when it happened. Just four of us went down, myself, Joby, Bardin and Hillyard.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about it, except to say that the job is done. There’s no point dwelling on a scene so appalling, and we’ll get more results of the demons’ depraved breeding programme as we head through the caves to the Horn. So there’s no need to over-egg the pudding.
Below the pulley shaft, which led back down to the sloop, was what must have once been some kind of family crypt, used by the original builders of the house. I was surprised to find that the depraved dark forces hadn’t messed with the coffins in any way. Below this, very far down, was what I can only describe as a row of prison cells. Heavily-locked and barred, and for good reason too. Each cell contained a number of creatures, barely recognisable as any known life-form. As Angel had said, they had only survived this long by eating each other.
We destroyed them with fire. That sounds barbaric, putting it as baldly as that, but there was no way on earth these … fiends could have ever been released, or left to live as they were. As it was, if the metal and wooden doors hadn’t been between us and them, we would have been done for in the very worst possible way. It is bad enough that we now have to cross through the realm colonised by the ones that escaped.
We went back above and, with the help of all the others, dynamited the underground railway track that also ran below the house, deep within the rock. We also torched the house. We are now on the water in our sloop, out on the deceptively calm lake that will eventually take us to a cave-opening.
With blessed thanks for our continued safety, and sincere prayers and goodwill for the journey ahead. Deo Gratias”.
Joby went into the galley and wearily donned his apron. He was very tired after all the events of the previous few hours, but knew he would never be able to settle to any rest at the present time. The sound of angry French voices came from the food-hold next door.
“I think the Sades are having what you would call a marital”, said Adam.
“Great, that’s all we need!” said Joby “Here, they’re speaking French aren’t they?”
“We’ve lifted the ban”, said Adam “It seemed silly keeping it going after all this time”.
“It sounds like it’s getting a bit heavy”, said Joby, as Sade was heard getting more and more insistent abut something, and Madame replying in an increasingly querulous voice.
“I think the runny brown stuff is about to hit the fan!” said Adam “If he gets too accusatory I shall nominate him as the biggest hypocrite of all time!”
“Avec Crowlee?” Sade suddenly yelled “Avec Crowlee?!”
“Has he only just found out about that?” Joby exclaimed.
“Well if he wasn’t so bloody self-absorbed all the time he might have noticed sooner!” said Adam.
Madame de Sade screamed. Adam and Joby looked briefly at each other and ran into the food-hold. When they got there Sade had departed through the other door. Madame de Sade had fallen back against some boxes, and was whimpering, with her hands pressed against her mouth. On the floor at her feet lay a revolver, one of the Indigo-ites’ own.
“It’s alright”, said Adam, picking it up and opening the barrel “It’s not loaded. He must have just tried to frighten her with it”.
“He’s bleedin’ well succeeded hasn’t he!” said Joby, gently helping Madame de Sade away from the boxes “I’m gonna fucking hang Toppy for this! He’s sposed to keep a close eye on all the guns. Sometimes I wonder what we keep him around for. Tutting at the cutlery I think!”
“Things have been so chaotic today”, said Adam “It’s not really Toppy’s fault. What exactly happened, Renee?”
“He pulled it out of his pocket, and threw it at me!” said Madame de Sade, who was trembling all over “He pointed it at me first. I thought it was going to go off!”
Joby tried to get her into the galley, which wasn’t easy as she was by now wailing and genuflecting all over the place.
“Sit down!” Joby eventually ordered her out of frustration.
Adam put the gun in a draw and reached for the cooking-brandy.
“Here, get this down you”, said Joby, handing her a glass “It’ll help. And try and calm down a bit, or you’ll make yourself ill. I dunno why you don’t just thump him and have done with it. My mum would’ve done!”
“Is everyone alright in here?” said Bengo, bursting into the room whilst trying to pull on his pinny at the same time.
“Yeah”, Joby grunted.
“Bengo”, said Adam “Don’t tell me the gossip’s gone all round the boat already?”
“You can’t keep anything to yourself round here”, said Joby, taking a swig of the brandy for himself “If we don’t get some vestige of normality soon I’ll go raving mad. That’s if I haven’t gone already!”
“How could he pull a gun on her?” said Bengo “I’ve never pulled a gun on Bardy”.
“That’s about the only thing you haven’t done to him!” said Joby.
“Contrary to popular belief”, said Julian “I am not a monster. I do not believe in segregating husbands and wives, but if you two cannot conduct yourselves in a civilised manner, I may have to resort to such extreme measures”.
Madame de Sade sat perched primly on the edge of the armchair in the cabin, looking rather chastened. Her husband was in the hold. No one felt there was any point in trying to speak to him.
“Well if you ask me …” Codlik began.
“No one did!” Julian snapped, and he continued to address Madame de Sade “I cannot for the life of me understand why you ever married him!”
“Oh be fair, Julian”, said Hillyard “She didn’t have any choice, it was an arranged marriage. I doubt she even met him before the wedding-day”.
“Only once, that is all”, said Madame de Sade “And that was in the company of our parents. I could see he was very reluctant, but he tried to cover it up by being charming”.
“You keep mentioning his great charm”, said Julian “I would dearly like to see a bit more evidence of it!”
Ransey came into the room, carrying a large ring of keys.
“Have you locked up the gun and ammo store?” said Julian.
“What do you think I’ve just been doing!” said Ransey “And the clowns have strapped Sade back into his wheelchair”.
“Good show”, said Julian.
Joby had been collecting used crockery from the hold, to return it to the galley, when he found an old sketch of Adam’s buried under a pile of bedding. The sketch was one he had done at Midnight Castle, showing Bengo lying naked in the long grass at the back of the house. Joby had a strong suspicion that this had been taken to assist someone’s solitary past-times. He couldn’t make up his mind whether this someone had been Sade or Crowley. Either way Joby was annoyed and disturbed by it.
He folded up the sketch and left the hold. In the long corridor he bumped into Julian and Ransey, and, like a child trying to ineffectually hide contraband, hid the sketch behind his back. Ransey said his name sharply, and Julian clicked his fingers impatiently. Joby sheepishly handed it to him.
“Whoever it was must have gone through Adam’s sketch-pad”, said Ransey.
“You won’t tell Bardin about it will you?” said Joby.
“He’s got enough to think about at the moment”, said Julian “Take this back to Adam, and tell him to keep his little masterpieces more securely out of harm’s way in future, or I shall be having strong words with him!”
Everybody had been prepared for the darkness and the damp in the caves, but had not been able to be prepared for the frighteningly claustrophobic feel of them. The mould-encrusted walls seemed to press on them even more the further in that they went, as though the boat was gradually going to get crushed slowly to matchwood.
Almost as soon as they entered this dark labyrinth everybody wished they were out of it again. The demons were all around them, lurking in the side tunnels, rarely emerging into the full light carried by the Indigo. But the passengers on the sloop knew they were there from the dim lights, like glow worms, burning down the tunnels.
Kieran had poured salt all over the forward deck, poop-deck and along the bulwarks. He also put lanterns all around, to protect them further with the protective force of light. Bardin paced around with his whistle at the ready. When a demonic creature emerged into the light he blew on it, usually accompanied by much yodelling from Tamaz, and either Ransey, Toppy, Julian, Mieps or Thetis fired with their respective guns, or in Mieps’s case, the crossbow.
When Adam went up to see how things were progressing he was appalled to find Mieps, Tamaz and Kieran preparing to dispose of some horrific creature that had fallen from a ledge onto the forward deck, when Mieps had accurately shot at it. Between them they hooked up the creature with the pitch-forks normally used for sorting out the hay in the hold, and clumsily tossed it back over the side, as though it was the carcass of a large, unwanted fish.
“We’ll never entirely destroy these creatures”, said Kieran, pausing to talk to Adam ”We don’t know how many there are, or exactly where they can lurk. All we can do is to guide ourselves through this minefield as best we can, and come out intact the other side. That will have to be our victory”.
Adam went back below feeling sick at heart. He had a go at Joby and Bengo for hanging around at the top of the galley steps, trying to see what was going on, and ordered them to make tea for everybody, and then took himself off to the heads, where he leaned his forehead against the wall in despair for a few minutes.
When he emerged Madame de Sade was waiting for him, all in a fluster.
“Little ‘Oowie”, she cried “He has gone, how you would say, crazee!”
“Oh lor”, Adam sighed “We always feared he might lose it completely one day. Take me to him, Renee”.
Hoowie was in the main part of the hold, jumping around like an over-excited monkey, tearing off his clothes and pulling apart pillows amidst a whirl of feathers. He was being watched by Sade, who was not only confined to his wheelchair, but gagged for good measure.
“Renee, take him into the cabin”, said Adam “And don’t you dare let him out of that chair!”
Madame de Sade wheeled her husband from the room. Adam went up to Hoowie and swiped across the mouth, not enough to cause any serious harm but enough to stun Hoowie momentarily.
“What you do that for?” said Hoowie, falling back against the wall.
“We have all got quite enough to deal with at the moment without you carrying on like a chimp on speed!” said Adam “If you pull yourself together right now I won’t tell Bardin and Julian about it. As it is, the way I feel at the present time, I would happily incarcerate you in the Waste of Space below!”
“You can’t put me down there!” Hoowie protested “That’s’ where the demons tried to get Kieran!”
“You just try me, you little bastard!” said Adam.
Hoowie instantly adopted a chastened expression, and put down the pillow he had been in the process of disembowling.
“That’s better”, said Adam “Now kindly tell me what all this is about, if you don’t mind”.
“I don’t know”, Hoowie shrugged “It all just got to me. It’s always happened like this. I get so worked up and all that I can’t control myself. When I was a kid I sued to get violent shaking fits. Sometimes I can’t cope and it all goes … psh! It’s like someone’s kicked me out of me own body and started prancing around in it themselves. I guess that all makes me sound like a hopeless jerk”.
“Nonsense”, said Adam “I’m going to bring you into the galley to work with us. I can keep an eye on you there. Put all your clothes back on first though. We’re already under quite enough strain without that as well!”
“Ad”, said Hoowie “Is it true what I overheard Bardin say to Bengo? That he saw a three-headed baby down in the rock? He said had two necks and three heads, you know two heads on one neck, as it were”.
“What they saw down there will stay with them forever”, said Adam “Although we can hope that the strength of the images will fade in time. That won’t happen of course if we keep harping on about them! And there are fresh horrors being sighted up there as we speak”.
“Is it ever gonna end?” said Hoowie.
“Somehow I doubt we’ll ever really know”, said Adam.
After two days of all this, which felt more like two years, and a lifetime of intolerable strain, Kieran decided that, to speed up their progress through this ghouls’ funhouse, they should use Tamaz.
Everyone was bolted down below, except for Tamaz of course, and Kieran, who was the only one who could look at him in safety when the power was upon him. Kieran would also be armed, and as a consequence those below could occasionally hear gunshots as he fended off any that Tamaz couldn’t physically destroy, for the simple reason that he couldn’t stare in all directions at once.
Down in the galley Joby and Bardin got completely drunk on whisky.
“They won’t be able to come down straightaway”, said Joby, glancing up at the bolted hatch at the top of the stairs “Kieran’s said he’ll take him into the skiff until he’s absolutely sure it’s safe”.
Bardin had been looking at his own reflection in the lid of the biscuit tin, and slammed it down in disgust.
“I thought people were supposed to get more attractive when you look at them pissed”, he said “I still look fucking ugly to me!”
“Well I-I think you look quite cute you know”, said Joby, moving closer to him and stroking his hair “Your hair’s as soft as Kieran’s, the same colour too. And you go all girly sometimes”.
“Do I?” said Bardin “I wonder what it’s like to have breasts? I’ll ask Tamaz … w-when he comes back down”.
The door creaked open and Bengo stood there in a long nightshirt and thermal socks.
“Good grief”, said Joby “It’s Wee Willie Winkie!”
“I thought I told you to get some sleep”, said Bardin.
“I’m not a little kid anymore, Bardy”, said Bengo “I don’t have to sleep just ‘cos you tell me to! What’s all those chalk marks on the wall in the corridor?”
“Crowley’s handiwork”, said Joby “To keep the demons at bay. He went around doing it all earlier, with Victor’s help”.
There was the sound of gunshots up above, an inhuman scream and the sound of a heavy body hitting the deck.
“Another one bites the dust”, Bardin muttered “We’ll have to clear that up later”.
“I hope they’re alright up there”, said Bengo, staring up at the ceiling “Kieran and Tamaz I mean”.
“Kieran won’t take any unnecessary risks”, said Joby “Things’ll pan out o.k, you’ll see. Now get away from those stairs and make some cocoa!”
“We’ll stay a little while in here”, said Kieran “Just to be sure”.
He fumbled for a flask of coffee laced with brandy that he had stowed in the skiff earlier.
“It’s still fairly warm”, he said.
“We haven’t got all of them I’m sure”, said Tamaz, as they crouched under the skiff’s tarpaulin. He was wearing Mieps’s ‘yashmak’ pulled forward over his face “Some have gone to ground”.
“We’ve scared them off the time being though”, said Kieran, pouring out the coffee.
“Would Angel be like you?” said Tamaz “Safe from me I mean?”
“Possibly”, said Kieran “He has powers I haven’t got, like he can shapeshift for instance. Whether he would be safe from your fatal glare, well I have no real idea”.
He looked intently at Tamaz in the deep gloom.
“Let’s have no big ideas without discussing it with me first”, said Kieran “Agreed?”
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