Go back to previous chapter
The following day initially brought little change in the depressing landscape. The heat generated by the fires was still intense, and Bardin ordered that the decks be soaked in water in case any sparks drifted over and ignited the precious wood.
In spite of everything it was an oddly soporific time, largely due to the complete absence of noise. There was nothing. No birds, no animals, no sounds of human existence. It was hard to tell where the gunfire they had heard previously had come from.
“It’s horrible”, said Adam “It feels like the end of the world”.
“Or being on another planet”, said Joby.
“We must come out of it soon”, said Adam “I hope to God there isn’t too much more of this”.
There was much speculation as to what could have caused the fires. Human agency was the obvious conclusion. “Somebody doing a scorched earth policy”, as Joby put it. Ransey wondered though if something else could be responsible.
“I’ve heard of fires being caused by meteor storms”, he said “Quite devastating sometimes. We can’t rule out that it might be that”.
“We can’t rule out anything until we meet up with some humans!” said Adam.
Late that afternoon Bardin was having a nap in the Saloon. He had been on duty up on deck since early that morning, constantly scanning the landscape for any slight change in the hellish bleakness.
After a late lunch Adam had “whipped his butt” hard outside the galley door, using one of the paddles.
Bengo woke him up by kissing his bare sore buttocks tenderly. Bardin lifted his head from the pillows blearily.
“I wouldn’t have woken you Bardy but …”
“Something has happened?” said Bardin.
“The countryside’s changing … at last”, said Bengo “We thought you’d like to know. We seem to be coming out of the scorched earth area. It’s getting lusher again”.
“Any sign of anyone?” asked Bardin.
“Not yet”, said Bengo “But anything’s an improvement on all that desolation”.
“So it’s clearly paying to keep going westwards”, said Bardin.
“Well yes”, said Bengo “Particularly if we eventually come out on the west coast. I always preferred that to the east coast anyway”.
“That’s because you came from there!” said Bardin.
“Oh yes, I keep forgetting that”, said Bengo.
“Pass me my shorts”, said Bardin, indicating the treasured underwear which he had left draped over the back of a chair.
“Are you sure you can bear them on?” Bengo giggled “Chafing your behind?”
“I can bear it alright” said Bardin, struggling to sit up.
“I’ll rub some cream into you later”, said Bengo “Otherwise you’ll be out of action”.
“Or perhaps Adam might want a rest”, said Bardin.
“No chance”, Bengo placed the shorts on the floor so that Bardin could step into them. He then pulled them up and carefully adjusted them, so that they fit snugly round Bardin’s chastised behind, smoothing them down the legs. He finished by delivering a hard smack to Bardin’s behind.
“Ow!” Bardin yelped “I don’t think you can be trusted to rub cream onto me”.
“Oh I can, we have to keep you in shape”, said Bengo.
Bardin thought of the spanking, of having the paddle vigorously applied to his behind, Adam keeping him firmly anchored in place on the stool outside the galley door He hadn’t been able to move as the whipping was administered. He gave a moan of pleasure.
Bengo followed him like a loyal attendant as Bardin headed up the steps to the main deck. The sudden rush of lush terrain was a pleasant onslaught to the senses. Acres of wild grass stretched to the horizon. There were no trees as such, but it was still promising.
“Haven’t seen any animals yet”, said Hillyard “But we’re still close to the scorched lands, they might have got scared off”.
“Still too soon to try fishing I suppose”, said Bardin “We’ll do that tomorrow. In the meantime keep sailing as far as we can until sunset”.
“And then the same as last night?” said Hillyard “The night-watches I mean?”
“I think we’re stuck with them for the foreseeable future”, said Bardin.
Go forward to next chapter
Return to Sarah Hapgood's Strange Tales and Strange Places web site