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The following few days were monsoon-y. The hot sunshine alternated dramatically with violent bursts of rain. Ransey and Hillyard, helped by Umbert and Rumble, set to work industriously on the beer production. One day Adam had heard mysterious scratching noises at the galley door. At first he thought it had been one of the dogs, but nobody was there. In the industrious hum of life the incident had soon been forgotten … until one afternoon though when Kieran and Joby had gone for a walk in the woods nearby.
The fine drizzle had escalated to a thick downpour. Somehow (and neither of them knew how) they had become separated in the murk. For a brief moment Joby thought Kieran had disappeared, and felt an acute panic grip him. He finally located him lying face-down in a muddy ditch. Joby scrambled in and eased him to his feet.
“What happened?” said Joby.
“Something grabbed me round the legs”, Kieran panted, more angry than upset “I heard someone behind me. I knew it wasn’t you because you would have spoken, but before I could see who it was it grabbed me round the legs and pulled me over. I rolled into the ditch, and ended up in the focking mud!”
“Alright, come on, let’s get you home”, said Joby.
“Jayz, I’m dripping mud all over the cabin floor”, said Kieran, looking down at himself in dismay.
“Oh don’t worry about that”, said Joby “Toppy enjoys cleaning. It’ll give him something to get his teeth into”.
He poured Kieran a generous finger of whisky and handed it to him.
“I’m covered in the stuff”, said Kieran “I think I’ve even swallowed some of it!”
Bardin swanned into the room and came to a dead stop when he saw Kieran plastered from head to foot in mud. His long hair was matted with it.
“A little mud goes a long way”, said Kieran.
“Have you joined a clowning troupe?” said Bardin.
Kieran gave a bark of laughter. Joby briefly explained what had happened.
“OK”, Bardin sighed “So the weird shit’s starting up again. I knew it was too good to last”.
He blew on his whistle, and the other clowns seemed to magically appear out of nowhere. Bardin fired off orders at them to bring the hip-bath into the room, and to fetch several jugs and pans of warm water. They jumped to it.
“Thanks Bardin”, said Kieran.
“Well we can’t leave you hanging around like that”, said Bardin.
“You look good enough to eat by the way”, said Kieran, taking in Bardin’s white top, crisp white shorts (he had left off wearing trousers in the warm weather), and ankle-socks, all topped off by the whistle.
“I’ll go and ask Adam to make you some hot chocolate”, said Bardin.
“That man’s a living legend”, said Kieran, when Bardin had gone.
“Are you sure nothing’s broken?” said Joby, gently peeling off Kieran’s clothes.
“No, I’m just a bit bruised that’s all”, said Kieran “At least I had a soft landing, that’s all you can say in it’s favour!”
The evening was very dark and stormy. Oil-lamps (which normally they tried to ration in the summertime) were lit in the dining-room. Bardin repeated his assertions that they should be alert, but still carry on exactly as normal.
“We are not changing activities in any way”, he said “Just because the demons have decided to torment us again … or whatever they are”.
There was a unanimous slapping on the table about this, as everyone heartily concurred.
“Will you two fellers be alright down this end of the ship?” said Kieran, when everyone broke up to go to bed.
“Yes, we’ve got Umbert and Digby right next door”, said Bardin “And my whistle and the hunting-horn, we’ll be fine”.
The night passed without incident in the end, and in the morning, after an early breakfast, Bardin and Julian went over to the brewery in the old tower to see how things were coming along. Hillyard, Ransey, Umbert and Rumble were already hard at work with the bottling. (Jarvis had supplied them with a goodly stock of old beer-bottles to be reused).
“Impressive”, said Julian.
“Blimey Julian, steady on”, said Hillyard “That was almost praise!”
“It was praise”, said Ransey, suspiciously.
“I am impressed that’s why”, said Julian “Credit where it’s due”.
“Bardin”, said Hillyard “Why have you got your trousers on?”
“To come over here”, said Bardin.
“I thought we weren’t supposed to be letting anything get in the way of our pleasure at the moment”, said Hillyard “And then you go covering up to come outside!”
“OK good point”, said Bardin “I’ll leave them off in future … well until the cold weather comes anyway”.
He and Julian accepted a couple of the bottles and took them outside. They wandered through the dewy grass round the back of the tower, and to the back door of the old kitchen. Finia had hung a selection of wind-chimes over the door, which were now tinkling in the mild breeze.
“It’s some voodoo-ish thing apparently”, said Bardin “To ward off evil spirits. I hope Kieran doesn’t say anything”.
“If he does I’ll flay him alive”, said Julian.
He went into the building and looked around him approvingly.
“We could do a lot with this”, he said “We could have feasts in here”.
“We could”, said Bardin “Except Adam, Joby and Bengo refuse to cook here”.
“No matter, we can still use it”, said Julian.
Bardin wiped some dust off the huge refectory table, which was the only item of furniture (other than the rusty stove) which they had found in the room.
“This is still in pretty good nick”, he said, rapping on the wood “It just needs clearing. I’ll get the other clowns onto it”.
“This is one of ours isn’t it?” said Julian, kicking a wooden chair.
“Yes, we forgot to take it back to the ship”, said Bardin “We brought it over with us recently. Adam used it to spank me on!”
“Then it must stay here”, Julian smirked.
Bardin gave an absent “mm” of agreement, and stroked the back of it. Julian leaned against the door-jamb, sipping his beer, and staring at the golden sunshine beating on the damp concrete slabs outside.
“Nothing’s going to ruin this”, said Julian “We’ve waited too damn long to find somewhere as perfect as this for us”.
“I agree”, said Bardin, joining him in the doorway.
“We’ll go for a ride in the woods”, said Julian “A bunch of us. See what’s what. Will your backside be up to it?”
“I can pad my seat if needs be”, said Bardin.
“You’re a delight”, said Julian “You’re so marvellously matter-of-fact about it all”.
“I enjoy it so much”, said Bardin, simply “And you’re right. Nothing’s going to get in the way of what we do”.
The loud industrious noises coming from the brewery helped to easy any ominous feeling that was being generated by the dark woods. Julian and Bardin went back into the building and put their empty beer bottles on the table. Suddenly, Julian shoved Bardin forward over the table. Bardin coughed and sneezed from the dust, as Julian yanked his trousers down to his ankles. He then proceeded to slap Bardin hard on the buttocks. Bardin had put baggier shorts on today, and so spread his legs to increase their tightness across his buttocks.
The smacking went on for some time. Then Julian yanked the shorts down to Bardin’s knees and spanked his bare buttocks. When Bardin finally stood up his penis was fully erect. Julian sank down gracefully and took it into his mouth. Bardin erupted with pure pleasure, grabbing handfuls of Julian’s hair and gazing up into the rafters of the building, like a Medieval saint experiencing a religious vision.
Afterwards, when Julian had stood up again, Bardin buried his face in his chest and began to cry.
“Oh my dear boy”, said Julian, stroking his hair.
“I’m fine”, Bardin gulped, aware that snot was making tram-marks on the dust and cobwebs on his face “It’s just the recent days … oh God, it’s been so marvellous”.
Julian tenderly picked a loop of dust out of Bardin’s hair. Then he pulled up the shorts with a tantalising crackle of starch, and snapped the elastic round Bardin’s waist. He then picked up Bardin’s trousers and slung them over his shoulder. He grabbed Bardin’s hand and tugged him roughly behind him. Bardin sobbed delightedly.
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