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The Bay At The Edge Of The World, as the Indigo-ites nicknamed it, hadn't been inhabited for several decades, but there were still traces of the previous settlers to be found. It was shaped like a scorpion's pincer, and on the peninsula that jutted out into the ocean was a ruined lighthouse. The workings of this had long since crumbled into nothingness, but the interior steps were still largely intact. On the other, small peninsula on the river, which they moored at, was a wooden jetty that was also surprisingly intact.
This led to a substantial stone building, whch had once been a fisherman's cottage. There was one large room on the ground floor which had been the kitchen-cum-living area. A wooden staircase led up to the space under the roof where nets, rods and other equipment had once been stored. The cottage had two doors, on opposite sides of the room, both of which opened out onto the pine forest which crowded the entire area, apart from the small beach which curved round like a discarded fingernail in the centre of the bay. Also in the clearing where the cottage was situated, was a wooden one-roomed bungalow with a veranda. All that was left of the furnishings here was an iron bedstead holding a bare mattress and filthy mosquito net.
The clearing was also blessed with a well, which hadn't dried. The bucket on the pulley was riddled with holes, but as they had plenty of buckets on the Indigo MKII, this wasn't a problem. Other than that, the pine forest covered the entire area, with traces of pathways worn through it by the original inhabitants.
Adam said he felt like a pioneer arriving in a new unconquered land, and his excitement was felt by all of them in their own different ways. For the whole day they did nothing but explore the immediate area. The animals were let out of their captivity, and Hillyard and Julian exercised the horses along the beach.
"Isn't this just the thing?" said Adam to Joby "It's as good as, if not better, than we expected".
"I dare say", said Joby, dourly "Although we've been fooled this way before".
"Oh for goodness sake!" said Adam "Only you could sound lugubrious on arriving in Paradise!"
"I'm reserving judgement that's all", said Joby.
The next few days passed delightfully. They made a camp outside the stone cottage, for the solely practical reason that it was near the fresh-water supply. All cooking, washing, and quiet, leisure activities were done here. At night they always retired to the sloop, along with the animals, in the interests of safety and comfort.
The four under-30s, the BBTT's, took to going off on exploratory expeditions through the forest on their own. Adam was worried Lonts might be feeling left out, and tried to persuade him to go with them, but Lonts declined the offer. His days were quite full enough as it was. He went for walks with Ransey, he helped Hillyard to feed the animals and muck out their stalls, he helped Joby to prepare the meals, and he went collecting pine-cones with Kieran to build the fire. Sometimes he just sat and thought. It wasn't unusual for Adam to come across him simply smoking his pipe and staring into space.
"I asked you get the fire going, Lo-Lo", Adam would say.
"It will get done", Lonts would reply.
"Yes, but only if you actually build it and light it", Adam replied, feeling like he was reciting 'A Hole In My Bucket'.
"It will get done", Lonts repeated, calmly.
And generally it did.
Meanwhile, Mieps was in a torment of jealousy because Tamaz preferred to go off with the clowns and Toppy, rather than him. To everyone else the reasons for this were obvious. Mieps was harsh and strict with him, constantly barking orders at him to keep in line, whereas with the others he had fun. The 4 of them made a good team, and Tamaz thoroughly enjoyed the clowns' sexy frolics. Generally they all simply tolerated the hapless Toppy, although they grudgingly admitted he came in useful for jobs like sorting out their day-bundles, and carrying the First Aid tin. Poor Toppy didn't mind what anyone thought of him, as long as he could be near his goddess. He was so smitten by Tamaz that he didn't care about results, as long as he was simply allowed near The Presence.
"You've got to expect it, old love", said Adam, whilst he was talking to Mieps in the cool of the stone cottage one afternoon "Tamaz is still very young. And the young get tired of being ordered about all the time".
"He is a Ghoomer brat", said Mieps, relentlessly "He has to be ordered about! You should never be too soft with him".
"Then don't be surprised if he'd rather be with the others!" said Adam, in exasperation "Tamaz isn't a masochist, he enjoys warmth and affection. And he get precious little of it from you!"
"What do you mean?" said Mieps, in genuine bewilderment.
"Well take the other evening", said Adam "When they all came home. Tamaz rushed up to give you a hug, and you pushed him away! I was very annoyed with you about that. It seemed so heartless".
"I-I didn't know what to do", said Mieps "I can't always get used to some of your ways. I still find it hard".
"It's just a bit of hugging and kissing, that's all", said Adam "It hardly requires a diploma!"
"He has to be kept in line", Mieps insisted.
"Bardin manages it well enough, without all your harshness!" said Adam "He had a natural authority, I say. Freaky never seems to push his luck with him too far".
Adam had meant to try and sting Mieps into affection if he could, but for the time being he seemed to have failed, because Mieps sullenly left the stone cottage without saying a word.
"People talk about me being morose!" said Joby, as Mieps thundered past him in his yellow silk pyjamas, the jacket of which flapped open over his breasts "I notice no one says anything to him do they!"
Joby was sitting in the forest clearing with Lonts. Both of them were watching the fire, and waiting for the saucepan of water on top of it to boil. Joby was also trying to avoid being asphyxiated by Lonts's pipe, which was belching out noxious fumes. Kieran was prancing around collecting pine-cones and twigs, and tossing them onto the fire to make it burn more furiously.
"What are you thinking about, Lonts?" said Joby, when he realised that Lonts hadn't spoken for some time.
"Judging by his expression, the meaning of life!" said Kieran.
"Don't waste your time", said Joby "People have been pondering that one for centuries, and nobody's come up with an answer yet!"
"I think we might be on another planet", said Lonts.
"You certainly are!" said Joby.
"No Joby, listen", said Lonts "Who says we're on Earth? I mean, I didn't know we were on Earth until I met you. No one in Kiskev ever used to mention Earth".
"Probably a bit difficult for 'em to take in", said Joby, caustically.
"What if", Lonts continued, regardless "You were on Earth in your time, but when you crossed over into this one, you didn't really travel through time at all, in fact you travelled to another planet!"
"One ruled by apes, perhaps?" said Kieran.
"Yeah, and we're talking to one at the moment!" said Joby "It's smoking a pipe!"
"No hang on", said Kieran "'Planet Of The Apes' was Earth wasn't it? They travelled through time, even though they were astronauts".
"They didn't find out it was Earth straightaway did they?" said Joby.
"Statue of Liberty rising out of the beach and all that", said Kieran.
"You two are just talking rubbish again", Lonts sighed.
"We thought we'd keep you company!" said Joby.
"Has Mieps run off?" said Adam, appearing by them.
"He went galloping into the forest", said Joby "Fried eggs flapping all over the place!"
"I think I've upset him", said Adam "I was trying to advise him to ease up a bit on Freaky, but it's like giving lessons in warmth and kindess to Stalin!"
"I'm trying to explain to Kieran and Joby that we're not really on Earth", said Lonts "but they won't have it".
"I just don't see how it's possible that's all", said Kieran.
"I bet in your time you wouldn't have believed everything that has happened to you in this time was possible", Lonts protested.
"That is true", said Kieran "I can't argue with that".
"Has anyone seen Jules?" said Adam.
"He's down on the beach", said Lonts.
"O.K, I'll go and find him", said Adam, kissing the top of Lonts's hair before leaving.
"Pull up a rock and sit down", said Julian, who was sitting on the beach in his black silk pyjamas, smoking a cigar.
"Lo-Lo's started the most surreal conversation", said Adam, sitting down with him on a cluster of large rocks "He thinks we're not on this planet".
"I wish Hillyard wasn't on this planet!" Julian rasped.
"Oh dear, lover's tiff?" said Adam.
"He keeps lecturing me", said Julian "Mainly about my smoking and how I do too much of it".
"Well you don't want to run out of supplies, old love", said Adam.
"I have plenty of supplies", said Julian "Boxes and boxes. I made sure of that before we left Toondor Lanpin. He keeps harping on about what a healthy lifestyle we have here, all fresh air and good food, as though we're at a bloody health-farm! He's depressing the hell out of me, and making me nervous too. I keep thinking he's going to do something terrible like chuck all the cigars into the sea. And if he did, there wouldn't be a damn thing I could do about it!"
"Hillyard's always been uncontrollable", said Adam "Far more so than any of the others. He was always too big to discipline effectively".
He noticed that Hillyard and Ransey were returning from the old lighthouse, creeping down the steps that were cut roughly into the rocks below it.
"Watch out, he's approaching", said Adam "You don't want him to catch you with it".
"Damnit, we're not at school anymore!" said Julian "And even if we were I wouldn't obey Hillyard! What's so bloody amusing?"
"I'm just picturing Hillyard at our school", said Adam "I really can't imagine what the tutors would have made of him!"
"Neither can I, seeing as I can't imagine him learning anything!" said Julian.
"He would have been wonderful, he would have turned the place on its head", said Aadam "You've reminded me of something. Joby's shaving has been so erratic of late that it looks as though he's growing side-burns. I keep wanting to tell him we used to call them 'bugger handles' at school, but he'd probably get miffed!"
"It doesn't take much to get Joby miffed", said Julian "He was going on earlier about how he wanted to start up his own vegetable plot, but the goats would attack anything he tried to plant. So I said, in all innocence, why didn't he simply build a little fence around it. Hah! The next thing I know he's going about the aristocracy enclosing land that rightfully belonged to the poor people of England! I make a perfectly practical and reasonable suggestion and I get Marxist ideology rammed down my throat!"
"That's Joby I'm afraid", said Adam.
He greeted Hillyard and Ransey as they drew nearer.
"Oh look I'm smoking!" said Julian, sarcastically "Isn't that terrible!"
"Yeah, terrible that I'm care about your health", said Hillyard.
"You sound like Codlik", said Julian, contemptuously "Smoking happens to be one of the pleasures I have left in life".
"Along with drinking", said Ransey "Bitching, being very lazy, chasing young boys, and sado-masochistic sex!"
"It all helps to keep me even-tempered", said Julian, sweetly "You should try it sometime!"
Later that night, when they had all returned to the sloop, Hillyard performed a blow-job on Julian, whilst the others all attempted to get to sleep alongside of them.
"That was very nice", said Julian, breathlessly, passing Hillyard his handkerchief "You should confine yourself to what you're best at, and stop the nursemaiding".
"The nursemaiding comes with it", said Hillyard, unrepentently.
Gradually, they all settled into preparing for sleep, but Hillyard, once revved up, was a difficult man to calm down. He began trying to insert his little finger into Joby's rectum.
"Hillyard!" Joby cried, who had been trying to sleep on the other side of him "Pack it in!"
"What's going on?" said Kieran, sternly.
"Nothing", said Hillyard, placatingly "Nothing at all".
"Behave", Joby whispered "I can hear Ransey muttering under his breath".
"He's always doing that", said Hillyard, dismissively.
"I'm watching you", said Kieran, jabbing Joby in the shoulder. He then rolled over and went to sleep.
"Hillyard", Joby whispered, a few minutes later.
"You've changed your tune", said Hillyard.
"No, listen", said Joby "Can't you hear it?"
"What?" said Hillyard.
"A thumping noise", said Joby.
"It's one of the horses stamping in his stall", said Hillyard.
"No it ent", said Joby "It's something on the side of the boat, I swear it".
"Well it sounds like one of the horses to me", said Hillyard.
"I think we should go and check", said Joby "Look, I wouldn't suggest it if I wasn't worried. I'll make it up to you tomorrow".
Hillyard made a 'humph' noise but got out of bed. Joby followed him. They had got near the door when Lonts suddenly burst out "Where are you going?"
This effectively woke most of the others up. Kieran ordered Joby back to bed, and refused to listen to any stories of mysterious noises.
"You've been a pain in the jacksey ever since we got here", said Kieran, the following morning "You're convinced this area is the gateway to Hades or something! Don't you think if there was something wrong with it me or Mieps would have detected it by now?"
Joby had been following him down through the forest in a longsuffering silence. Hillyard and Lonts followed at a respectful distance.
"It's bad enough that you're trying it on with Hillyard the minute I fall asleep", Kieran continued.
"Now hang on a minute", said Joby "He tried to stick his finger up my arse!"
"Sorry, sorry", Hillyard mumbled.
"And you woke everybody up", said Kieran.
"That was Mouth Almighty what did that!" said Joby, pointing at Lonts.
"I didn't intend to", said Lonts, in an injured tone.
"Let's forget about it shall we?" said Hillyard "It's a nice day, and here we all are ... all friends together".
"Yeah, and you've told me off enough for one day", said Joby to Kieran "It was just circumstances that's all".
They reached a clearing and found Bardin, Tamaz and Toppy building a small fire to make a pot of tea on. Suddenly Bengo jumped down from a nearby tree, and Joby gave a nervous start.
"I've lost me nuts", said Bengo.
"No comment!" said Joby.
"I was collecting nuts", said Bengo.
"Strange red flowers these are", said Kieran, pointing to a clump of them growing at the base of the tree "A bit like poppies, but not quite like poppies, if that makes sense".
"Alright if us old fogies join you for a tea-break?" said Hillyard.
"We have enough rations to go round", said Toppy, earnestly, as though they'd all met at the top of a remote mountain.
Lonts began to growl like a bear and chased Tamaz, who was yodelling merrily, around the clearing. Bengo joined in the pursuit, his shapely legs wheeling round deliriously. Hillyard watched him like a starving man outside a baker's shop, and then began to thrash at a bush with a twig.
"I think he's sexually frustrated", said Kieran.
"Hardly anything new", said Joby.
"Hillyard, will you leave that bush alone, it hasn't done you any harm!" said Kieran "I don't know how he managed all that celibacy on the island, I really don't!"
"We only have his word for it he was celibate" said Joby "Probably find he was getting blow-jobs from Ransey on the side".
"Do me a favour!" said Hillyard, sitting down on the ground next to him "The thought sends shivers down my spine!"
"Stop staring at Bengo anyway", said Kieran "Or Bardin'll like as not tear your head off!"
"No harm in looking", said Hillyard "Just pretend I'm in the audience. I haven't given Bengo any hassle since those two got together. Julian'd create like hell if I did".
"I'm not that bad", said Bardin, miffed "If I got jealous of every guy that's ever ogled Bengo, I'd be in a nuthouse by now".
"You are, didn't you know?" said Joby.
"These poppies, or whatever they are, are making me feel drowsy", said Kieran, flopping onto his stomach.
His tiny arse, inadequately covered by the skimpiest of briefs and a collection of grass seeds, proved to be a captivating sight to the others. Joby lay down next to him, and draped his arm in a languid yet proprietorial fashion, over Kieran's back.
The drowsy, sultry atmosphere was broken by Lonts careering across to them, yelling that there was a house further down the hill. The others greeted this news with dismay, like squatters on hearing that the real owners had turned up. They had only been at the Bay At The Edge Of The World for a short time, but they had claimed it for their own. None of them were pleased to think that someone else might have arrived long before them.
They all followed Lonts to the edge of the clearing, tailed by Toppy, who was like a fractious toddler because the ceremony of taking tea had been ruined. At the northern edge of the clearing, a grassy bank sloped down steeply to a much larger clearing at the bottom. In the midst of it was a substantial white-painted house with a red-tiled roof, surrounded by a high wall. The windows were all shuttered, and there didn't appear to be any sign of life within. The stark white walls were painfully glaring in the hot sunlight.
"I might have known there was someone else around", said Joby, glumly "Take that thumping noise I heard last night".
"Oh you and that focking thumping noise!" said Kieran "It was probably your heartbeat! That house looks like it hasn't been lived in for years. The owners probably legged it at the same time as whoever had the stone cottage. And before you start, there doesn't have to have been a sinister reason for that. It could be just the St Kilda factor. They got out for convenience".
"That's quite some place", said Hillyard "You could even get all of us in there!"
"I don't want to live in there", said Lonts, thrusting out his bottom lip stubbornly.
"Perhaps this can be my palace", said Tamaz, gripping Joby's arm excitedly "You said I was an empress and so was entitled to my own palace".
"You wouldn't enjoy a palace lifestyle", said Joby "You'd have to sit around all day in your best clothes with your back straight. No running around the forest in your drawers, horsing around with the clowns, and a Yeti!"
Lonts gave Joby a fierce look, and adjusted Snowy under his arm.
"I'm going to tell Adam about this place", he said, and strode off.
"Wouldn't you like some tea first, Lonts?" said Toppy.
"I'll have it later", Lonts boomed.
Adam and Julian had spent the morning fooling around in the sea.
"Let's go and see if there's anything on the fishing-rods", said Julian, returning to the beach and clapping a sun-hat on his head.
He strode off, leaving Adam to collect up their clothes which they had left in a heap on the sand. Julian whistled at him to follow, as though he was a gun-dog, which annoyed Adam.
Back at the clearing by the well, they found that Ransey and Finia had gone into the little wooden bungalow (which Julian called the Butlin's Chalet), to get some time alone together. Julian muttered something unintelligible under his breath, and walked in the direction of the jetty.
"Put the bundle of clothing down", he said, impatiently "You look like you've just been released from the cells!"
"I wish you'd stop getting at me, Jules", said Adam, dropping the bundle of clothing on the ground "You've been walking around barking orders ever since you got up. No wonder everybody else has disappeared!"
Julian went out onto the jetty, and inspected the line of fishing-rods which he had left baited there earlier. He began to unhook the ones that had been successful and dropped the catch into a bucket nearby.
"You heard what old Four-Eyes said to me yesterday", he said "That I was a lazy good-for-nothing ..."
"He never said that", said Adam "He just has rather an abrasive sense of humour sometimes that's all".
"Well whatever, but I'm determined to prove to him that I can do my bit as well", said Julian "That's why I've been fishing all morning".
"You haven't been fishing all morning!" said Adam "You baited the lines and then left them there!"
"He doesn't know that", said Julian.
"Of course he does", said Adam "He's not stupid".
"Bring the bucket into the cottage", Julian ordered.
They went into the stone cottage. Through the back door they could see Mieps lying on a camp-bed in the small patch of dappled sunlight. He was asleep on his side, with his knees drawn up to his chest.
Adam put the fish into the cold bucket, and then set about squeezing pineapples and mangoes from the collection of fruit on the table, in order to make fruit juice.
"There shouldn't be any problems with scurvy here at any rate", said Julian, sitting down at the table "This area's good for fruit trees".
"The island was like that", said Adam "I do wish you'd get this nonsense about Ransey out of your head, Jules. He's said to me time and again he has no problem with you being leader. He's a back-room boy, and he also said you're not cut out to be anything else but Captain".
"Bloody charming!" said Julian "That is exactly what I'm trying to prove. That I can do practical things. I can shoot and fish as well as he or Hillyard can".
"But you don't have to", said Adam "Everyone adores you as you are, particularly the younger ones".
"Only because I treat them with utter brutality", said Julian, picking up a banana and peeling it.
"Bengo's a banana-holic", said Adam "He had 4 or 5 in a row the other day, and was then crippled with the trots! I'm surprised Bardin didn't tear him off a strip about it".
"Bardin should have learnt his lesson there", said Julian "If I hear him carrying on like that again he'll get another whack across the backside. One of the main things starvation taught me was what a nonsense diets and worrying about one's weight are".
"Watch out, the Kraken wakes", said Adam, as Mieps got off the camp-bed.
Mieps rinsed his face in the water-butt by the door and then came into the cottage. He jumped up and down on the spot a few times and whirled his arms around.
"Still in good shape I see", said Julian "No signs of the deterioration setting in yet. After all, these prolonged absences by Freaky must mean you're about to slip back into your decline!"
"I was only trying to keep him under control that's all", said Mieps, perching on the corner of the table and selecting a mango from the fruit heap.
"You've done it rather well, old love", said Adam "But now I think you can ease up a little. After all, Freaky doesn't give you anywhere near as much lip as he did when we first met you. You have tamed him".
"I'll try to ease up", said Mieps.
Adam suddenly reached across and pulled open Mieps's pyjama jacket. He analysed Mieps's breasts with artistic detachment.
"A still life of Mieps's tits in the offing?" said Julian "That'll make a change!"
"No, I've just had a splendid idea", said Adam "I'd love to paint roses on your breasts, Mieps".
"Why?" said Mieps "It doesn't seem a very permanent form of art".
"I know", said Adam "But it would just be such an erotic thing to do".
Mieps looked perplexed, as if he was uncertain whether Adam was coming on to him or not.
"Oh I'm sorry", said Adam, when he realised what had happened "I got carried away. Love of art and all that!"
Lonts tumbled into the room, closely followed by Tamaz.
"Adam!" Lonts cried "There's a house on the other side of the forest. Whouldn't it be awful if there were people in it?"
"That rather depends on the people I suppose", said Adam.
"Tamaz wants it to be his palace", said Lonts.
"He can get that idea out of his head!" said Julian.
Tamaz sat down at the kitchen table and put his chin in his hands in a gesture of angry dejection.
"Do we really have to go and look at it?" Adam sighed.
"I suppose if someone is there we might as well know our enemy", said Julian "Just in case they take it into their heads to call on us! Anyway it might be simply an empty building".
"We could take the horses with us", said Hillyard "Give 'em a good gallop through the forest".
"It all sounds dreadfully civilised and respectable", said Adam "We'd better put our clothes on, Jules. In case they get funny about that sort of thing".
Tamaz ran outside to snatch a shirt and trousers of his from one of the bushes, where Kieran, as laundry-maid, had left them to dry.
"I'm in a foul mood now", said Adam "Civilisation is rearing its ugly head. We'll be having coffee-mornings next!"
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