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By Sarah Hapgood

Joby was sent to talk to Kieran, whom he found in the Captain’s Cabin, inspecting a pile of Bardin’s neatly-ironed clothes.

“I can’t imagine being this neat and tidy”, said Kieran.

“This is Toppy’s doing”, said Joby “He’s delighted there’s one of us who appreciates his ironing”.

Kieran pulled out two crisply-ironed pairs of white shorts.

“Let’s try these on”, he said “See if it makes us more efficient and organised like him”.

“I doubt it”, said Joby.

They both pulled them on over their own clothes.

“We make a lovely couple”, said Joby.

“I heard you had a set-to with Beatrix”, said Kieran “Are you OK?”

“No”, said Joby “I’m sick of the sight of her. My life would be vastly improved if she wasn’t here. She upsets Adam, more than he lets on sometimes. Well the whole lot of ‘em drive us nuts, let’s be honest about it”.

“We’re moving south again”, said Kieran “It shouldn’t be long before we come into better weather. We’ll find some way of offloading them”.

“What are you up to?” Bardin barked from the doorway.

“Trying on your clothes, what does it look like”, said Joby.

“What for?” said Bardin.

“To absorb the essence of you, Bardin”, said Kieran.

“Daft buggers”, said Bardin.

“Hey less of that”, said Joby “Or you can go and tackle the mountain of washing-up in the galley. I’m sure Adam’d love to have you around”.

“That’s your job”, said Bardin.

“Yeah, we’ve never really found out what yours is have we?” said Joby.

For the next few days they sailed down past an empty coastline which seemed barren of just about everything. No trees, no vegetation, no sign of human habitation. The further south they went the stormier the weather became. Waves crashed violently against rocks sticking out into the sea, which meant constant alertness as they steered the galleon through these stormy waters.

Things could be stormy on the galleon too. One day Kitty carped at the amount of time Joby had spent in the heads.

“I can’t fucking believe it!” Joby roared, back in the galley “For fuck’s sake, the heads is the only bloody place I get to be alone for a few minutes! Is that too much to ask? If she’s THAT desperate, use a fucking chamber-pot, or piss over the side. With any luck she might fall in!”

It took a lot for Adam to calm him down after this little outburst.

“Christ, is it asking too much?” Joby was close to the point of tears “Just to have a couple of minutes on the karzi?! How dare she, how fucking dare she!”

“Ssh, ssh now”, said Adam “I’ll make you a nice soothing cup of tea”.

“A cuppa tea’s not gonna calm me down, Ad”, said Joby.

“Oh yes it will”, said Adam “Look, we’re all under a lot of strain, and Kitty can be very annoying. She constantly oversteps the mark”.

“I’ll tell you summat, no wonder she could never get a bloke to stick with her”, said Joby “Not if she goes around doing things like that. Interrupting a bloke when he’s on the loo should count as domestic abuse! I’d rather put up with Julian at his worst than her!”

“Yes I think you’re right”, said Adam “Particularly these days. I just tell him to get knotted and walk out, and he’s usually too lazy to follow me”.

Bengo scooted into the room.

“Is it true?” he gasped “Joby, are you alright?”

“Yeah, why?” said Joby.

“Oh”, Bengo looked vaguely disappointed “Only Farnol told me he said he heard you having total hysterics. He said you sounded On The Edge”.

“Oh thanks very much!” said Joby “Well I’m not On The Edge, just got a bit fed up with Cat Woman. I’m not having a nervous breakdown just to keep you lot entertained!”

At times the silence in the area they travelled through was oppressive. It was as if human civilisation had never reached these parts at all. For a while they speculated that this might indeed be the case, that is until the day they came across the ruins of a house on the headland.

The house was beyond salvaging, even as a temporary place of stay. Most of the roof was missing, some of the walls were leaning in at precarious angles, and the rooms were piled with heaps of broken glass. Far more oppressive than any of that though was the feeling of desolation that hung over the place like an invisible fog.

“Why would anyone have lived here in the first place?” said Beatrix, who almost seemed to take the derelict house as a personal affront.

“Don’t be stupid, woman”, said Julian, who had long since given up all pretence of being civil to Beatrix, regarding her simply as That Woman Who Makes Adam’s Life A Misery “People put up houses anywhere. You yourself lived in a bloody cave for two years, damnit!”

“You don’t have to remind me of that!” Beatrix retorted.

“Either she gets put shore soon or I do”, Julian ranted at Adam and Joby when he returned below-deck.

“Blimey, what a choice!” said Joby.

“It’s a shame that house wasn’t in better condition”, said Adam “But even if it was, it would be hard to see how they could survive out here”.

“As I have already pointed out today, they lived in a cave for two years”, said Julian “We are pampering and cossetting them all far too much”.

“Surely not?” said Adam.

“Hard to see how anyone gets pampered and cossetted around here at the moment”, said Joby, grimly.

After what felt like a near-eternity of travelling through these gloomy surroundings, they were all finally given the break by Fate they were longing for. At last, there appeared in the forbidding expanse of cold, grey ocean, a range of islands, all varying in size and shape.

This sight caused uncontrolled excitement aboard the galleon. Everyone galloped up onto the main deck, like a herd of cruise-ship passengers sighting their first port-of-call. There were excited shouts, and suggestions as to which island they should aim for. In the end. Bardin opted for the largest one, on the grounds that it was probably the one most likely to harbour human life, and for a chance to replenish their supplies.

The sun was setting as they sailed towards the island, giving it a spectacular backdrop. The island stood out as a magnificent black shape against the vivid orange and red sky.

As they got nearer to the island they could see a handful of people hanging around on the quayside, waiting patiently for the big ship to come to them.

“I hope we can get some fresh supplies from them”, said Bardin “All we seem to be eating round here at the moment is bread and jam”.

“That is not true Bardin!” said Adam.

“Alright, don’t get your pinny in a twist”, said Bardin.

“I’ll smack your behind in a minute”, said Adam.

“That’ll have to wait until we’ve sussed out this lot”, said Bardin.

“With any luck there might be a bloke there who’s desperate to get a wife”, said Joby, looking over at Kitty “Perhaps we should scrub her up a bit just in case”.

“For heaven’s sake, shush!” said Adam “We don’t want A Scene the moment we arrive!”

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