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By Sarah Hapgood

“Are you sure the under-carriage will hold up getting across the field?” said Joby, dubiously, as he stood looking at the truck a couple of mornings later.

“Of course it will!” said Hillyard “Sometimes I don’t know who’s worse, you or Bardin”.

“That’s too close to call”, said Adam.

“All I’m saying is it’s gonna be bloody uncomfortable riding in that thing”, said Joby “Across bumpy countryside”.

“Well don’t worry, you can always get out and walk!” said Hillyard “Right, let’s get on with the drive. Where’s Bardin?”

“Oh he’s still sorting his costume out”, said Bengo “I’ll go and get him”.

“And tell him to bring a cushion this time!” Hillyard shouted after him.

“He’ll need it!” said Joby.

Bengo went into his cabin, where Bardin had been dithering over which pair of shorts he should wear on their drive out to the gloomy-looking house. He decided against a tight pair, as his behind was still chafing from a fierce spanking he had been given by Adam the day before. He settled on a baggy pair which, even so, had been starched and ironed to within an inch of their life. He pulled them up his legs with a blissful rustle, and adjusted them into place. The shorts ended to an inch above his knees, and the starched material cocooned his sore bottom. The creases stood out razor-sharp.

“Oh Bardy”, Bengo whispered. He gathered him into his arms and kissed him, lustily squeezing his buttocks.

“They’re pretty awesome aren’t they?” said Bardin “I deserve a damn good thwacking with a paddle in these”.

“The sooner we’ve got this damn drive out of the way the better”, said Bengo.

“Mm, in the meantime you’d better pass me my trousers”, said Bardin.

“Do you have to wear them?” said Bengo, who thought Bardin looked perfect in his white top, starched shorts and socks. “Yes”, said Bardin “We don’t know if there’s anyone - or anything - up there. I’d rather not turn up in my spanking-bloomers just in case”.

Bengo picked the trousers off the bunk and helped him into them.

“I’ll know you’ve got them on underneath”, Bengo whispered.

The hunting-horn was sounded.

“I think that’s our cue”, said Bardin.

“This thing’d better get us there and back in one piece”, said Bardin, chucking his cushion on the front seat.

“Don’t you start”, said Hillyard “Already had enough of all that from old Jobe”.

He helped Bardin up into the truck, and then deftly yanked Bardin’s trousers down. There was a volley of appreciative wolf-whistles from the others.

“Hilarious”, said Bardin, pulling his trousers back up again, and adjusting his shorts underneath “I’m warning you now, these trousers stay on until we get back to the ship”.

Hillyard in the driving-seat. Bengo and Bardin up close in the passenger seats, flanked by Ransey. Adam, Hoowie, Julian, Lonts, Kieran and Joby rode shotgun in the back. The drive across the fields was horrendously bumpy. Hillyard was the only one who seemed oblivious to the possible impact on the truck. His confidence in it was total.

“Alright Bardin?” he yelled above the din.

“I’m fine”, said Bardin “Keep your eye on the … er … road”.

“It’s horrible”, said Bengo, when they pulled up outside the gloomy building “Reminds me of the Turd House near Toondor Lanpin”.

“Not a bad comparison”, said Ransey.

He got out and walked round to the back of the truck.

“What do you think?” he asked Kieran.

Kieran also got out, and stood surveying the ugly house.

It was low and rambling, uneven, almost looking as if it was falling into the ground. It was completely shuttered, both doors and windows. The whole feel was of a malignant mass that was crouching, sick, diseased, predatory.

“I don’t suggest we should go inside”, said Kieran.

There was no noise in the area whatsoever, other than what they made themselves. No birdsong. And the gentle breeze which had ruffled the trees near the ship was non-existent. The trees stood still, gloomy, with an air of depressed sentinels who had been standing guard for too long.

“I suggest we go home”, said Kieran “Whatever is here, I think should stay undisturbed. If it comes to disturb us though, well that’s another matter”.

“We’ll never hear the end of it now, about that bloody truck”, said Bardin, sitting on Bengo’s lap in their cabin “That it got us there and back will be cause for canonisation”.

“I didn’t like that house at all though”, said Bengo.

“We’ve seen it now, that’s the main thing”, said Bardin “At least no one suggested looking inside, I think I might have had to blow my whistle on that one! Kieran’s right. We leave it where it is for the time being”.

“That’s the best way”, said Bengo, stroking the creases on the front of Bardin’s shorts.

“I think Hillyard’s got a taste for humiliating me now”, said Bardin “Pulling my trousers down like that!”

“That was the best bit of the whole trip!” said Bengo “Don’t knock it. I wouldn’t have missed that for anything!”

“Well as long as my constant humiliation keeps everyone’s morale boosted!” said Bardin.

Wesley became an unexpected problem to the Indigo-ites. He wanted to come and live with them on the galleon, an idea that was strongly resisted by everyone. It wasn’t just lack of space, they just couldn’t see how Wesley would fit in permanently with their way of life. Consequently, on one of Hillyard’s trips to town Wesley moaned at him that he simply didn’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to join them.

“For fuck’s sake”, said Bardin, when he heard “That four have been nothing but trouble since we brought them here. Beatrix making passes at Adam, Kitty going on about her sodding poetry, and now this. The only one who never gives us any trouble is Anton!”

“And that’s because he’s away with the pixies most of the time!” said Bengo.

Bardin decided that the only solution to this problem was that they got away for a few days.

“We’ve got too dug in here”, he said.

“I thought that was the idea!” said Hillyard.

“Yes, but not to the extent that it becomes a cage”, said Bardin “We’ll take the ship down the lake a bit, beyond the town, southwards. We haven’t seen what’s down there. And it’ll stop the likes of Wesley thinking we’re always going to be here to mither”.

“And what about the brewery?” Hillyard complained to Adam.

“It’ll do you good to have a rest”, said Adam “You have been working awfully hard lately”.

“I was thinking about the security of it”, said Hillyard “With old Wesley in the mood he’s in”.

“Oh for heaven’s sake”, said Adam “Wesley is the get-drunk-and-mope type, not the get-drunk-and-smash-things-up type. Anyway, if you’re THAT worried, get Ransey to fit a padlock and chain to the brewery door”.

“Yeah I suppose so”, said Hillyard.

“That’s the joy of living on a boat innit”, said Joby “You don’t have to do any packing up, you can just go”.

“Be careful, old love”, said Adam “You’re in danger of sounding positive”. “Very funny”, said Joby “But it’s true though. We’d be having to pack all this junk up otherwise”.

“That’s not junk”, said Adam “That’s the tools of our trade”.

“Ransey’s locked up”, said Hillyard, coming in “I guess we almost be ready”.

“And the truck’s been loaded on now too”, said Bardin, following him in.

“All wrapped up in its comfort-blanket is it?” said Joby.

“Hey Bardin, what’s all this?” said Hillyard, distracted from Joby’s sarcasm by the sight of Bardin wearing trousers “We’re supposed to be going on holiday you know!”

“It’s just until we get past the town”, said Bardin “That’s all”.

They followed the lake southwards past the town. In only a few hours they were once more beyond the reach of civilisation. They anchored in the middle of the lake, and because of the broiling heat, had a nude picnic on deck.

“Somebody must come this way occasionally”, said Adam.

“We’ll see them coming a mile off if they do”, said Julian, starting up the gramophone “Stop fussing”.

“I was merely saying, old love”, said Adam.

He put on his sun-hat (he was wearing nothing else) and settled back in his deck-chair to admire the view. Several of the others were skinny-dipping, and the sight of the glistening, tanned bodies was almost too much.

“We’ll all end up with scorched nobs”, he said.

“Pretty good gammon-and-egg pie this, Ad”, said Hillyard, settling into the deck-chair next to him with a plate.

“From the covered market in town”, said Adam “Not homemade. It’s going to get too hot out here soon. We’ll have to nip below, to the communal bed”.

“Alright by me”, said Hillyard, giving the thumbs-up “We should all let it hang out on this trip”.

“I rather thought that’s what we were doing!” said Adam, taking off his hat and fanning himself with it.

“Grab old Bardin and give him another good hiding”, said Hillyard.

“Unfortunately I’m rather too hot and indolent to do that”, said Adam “I shall do it this evening before supper. Pop by his cabin if you want to see the paddle being applied sternly to the seat of his shorts”.

“This”, said Hillyard “Is going to be the best holiday ever”.

Everyone adjourned to the saloon and spent a couple of hours on the communal bed in the shade. Because of the lavish picnic lunch, there was no need for a proper supper. Instead, bowls of apples and plums were set out on the dining-room table, accompanied by more of the ubiquitous beer.

It was gone midnight by the time everyone turned in. Hoowie accosted Bardin outside the dining-room door.

“Bard, whilst we’re on holiday …” said Hoowie.

“Is that gong to be the mantra for the next few days?” said Bardin.

“Yes”, said Hoowie “Whilst we’re on holiday can we … er … do it again? You and me? Only it’ll help me sleep, stop old Crowley getting to me”.

“That’s emotional blackmail!” said Bardin “Have you slept alright the past couple of nights?”

“Yeah, but all this will help”, said Hoowie, pulling Bardin’s top down off one shoulder and kissing his bare flesh “You know I’ll give you a good time”.

“OK”, said Bardin “Tomorrow, after breakfast, and no vigorous horseplay. I shall probably be feeling fragile”.

“You shall be like bone china in my hands”, said Hoowie.

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