Zod: Part Three

Zod **Chapter 3**

By Neil McGill

If you have yet to read the beginning of this story you can click here to read part 1, or click here to read part 2.

Chapter Three
The Beast Must Die


"Indeed Houdini, what do we call our new found friend?" Sod cradled the soon-to-be-labelled animal in his arms and gently stroked the newly formed scales. They were still soft to the touch but were darkening swiftly to a deep and rich gold in the warming glow of the afternoon suns; and were growing at a tremendous rate. A damp nose nuzzled against him affectionately and blew a happy little snort of flame over his shoulder. One thing was for sure, heating bills would never trouble his parents again; though he may need to inquire into the asbestos fashion scene.

"Well Houdini? Any ideas?"

Houdini rolled a pair of deep thoughtful eyes. He was the classic quiet twitching thinker and often came up with ideas when Sod was lacking; which it has to be said, was often.

"Squeakity… squeak?"

"Puff! What an… appropriate name Houdini. Short, succinct, and with a touch of… magic about it."

Puff’s delicately lashed eyes fluttered and bore affectionately into its pseudo-parent with the devoted love that young things everywhere give to anything that offers the potential of food. Sod wasn’t exactly sure how or what Puff thought of him, perhaps as a father although he wasn’t sure he liked that idea. What would that make Houdini? No one should have a parent that needs flea powder.

"Hmm… Okay, Puff it is!"

An impressively long two pronged vermilion tongue lashed out and scoured Sods face enthusiastically, perhaps hoping for a regurgitative act, an action that through the ages for some unfathomable reason must have became socially unacceptable for humans.

"Hey! Friendly little thing eh?’

Sod brushed the tongue away and craned his neck to avoid any further unwanted washing. He had to get it some food and quickly, before it started looking for his mammary glands.


"Yes Houdini, I do think we need to get young Puff here some food. Especially after using so many of those… powers of his… hers… erm, whatevers."


"What? No of course I don’t feel guilty. Besides, it was an accident. An unfortunate accident."

A shadow passed over his emotionless face, the eyes fixed, replaying the tragic accident.

"An accident…" he repeated coldly, distantly and managing almost to convince himself.

There was an explosion behind them that rocked the rickety houses for miles around. Billowing black plumes of smoke and hurling burning embers cascaded behind them in a cacophony of violence, blocking the sky and rising in the direction of the school. The boiler to be exact.

"So Houdini, what do you think ol" Puff here eats then, eh? It’s a dragon, so, I presume it’s a carnivore… But, just in case…" Meat was hard to come by in the fishing town of Slimy Bay, fish excepted, and had led to a number of worrying and strongly denied partnerships. Most notably, that of the towns rat catcher backing onto the butchers; of which Houdini was more than a trifle concerned.

Sod and ensemble left the draughty and cobbled road of Broken Window Street and under the directions of Houdini, wandered towards the suburban Eden that was Wino Park. The Slimy Bayians believed in assigning place names only after the area had had a few years to acquire its true colours (usually a sort of ingrained seaweed brown that never quite washes out). Hence, Slimy Bay was devoid of such wondrous nonclematures as Misty-Rose Streets and Lavender Walk’s where the drug dealers literally hang out. Instead, a more dirt honest approach was employed, with classics such as Get-Your-Head-Kicked-In Alleyway and Affluent-Personages-With-Overlay-Adeqaute-Funding-To-Proviide- Alternative-Recreational-Materials Street. Wino Park was one such aptly named place, and at times was like a writhing sea of staggering bodies, competing for choice places on benches that rolled and churned like a boat riding the storm only to discard their occupants overboard onto the bottle strewn grass.

Stepping carefully over bodies and taking care not to tread on any protruding limbs, most of which were still attached to their respective owners, Sod reached "The Apple Tree." Not only was it the only apple tree in Slimy Bay, it was also the only remaining tree. The rest having succumbed to a recent and particularly violent beaver invasion, so the local press alleged. More likely though, it was connected to the sudden drop in price of weed-killer.

Standing on his toes and extending his grasp carefully into the sagging branches (you’d sag too if you lived in Wino Park) and taking care not to fall lest he crush his parasitical companions, Sod plucked the least active apple and fed his hand to the dragon.

There was a lightning fast snap.

The apple was gone and appeared to have had a pleasing reception.

Possibly the apple would disagree though.

A contented munching filled the air and mingled with the hazy drone of bees futilely searching for life in the sterile oasis that was the park.

"Okay… lets try another" squealed Sod, extracting his hand and torn sleeve from the rotating molars.

Sod plucked another apple and then froze.

Shaking off the ice, he noticed something completely different. There was a rapidly increasing pile of apples accumulating on a handful of sickly yellow shoots that passed under a promising light as grass.

"What the?"

Puff fluttered from Sod’s arms, and with a flap, perched amidst the pile of tree droppings. And began munching.


Rafe peered deeply into the flames and the flames peered back; they saw a spaced out bohemian with bulging eyes and waist length straggly hair weighed down with a variety of multihued beads; and whose main use was not decorative, but mainly to prevent his head from drifting off. Yes, Rafe was a hippie and one that bore a striking resemblance to Jesus, though more of the accepted "Christian" Jesus and not the really dark one. In other ages, Rafe may have been called enlightened, in this one, he was just the village mad bugger.

The firelight danced enticingly in the watery reflection of his eyes and cast flitting shadows about Rafe’s wiry and for the most part unwashed frame. The passing of the years hadn’t been kind to Rafe, indeed they’d been decidedly sadistic and his heavily lined face now had more cracks in it than an ice flow. Combine this with Rafe’s ghostly pallor and your average corpse begins to look attractive, if not healthy.


The vision was almost there. Rafe shook spasmodically with the effort in a desperate attempt to bring something on. The accuracy of said something’s varied from widely off the mark, to very-widely, but as sheer chance would have it Rafe would predict the odd event; a dog suddenly barking, someone finding an unusual pebble or a sudden alien invasion task fleet annihilating all life. Non-believers suggested that these were obvious extrapolations of unequivocal consequential eventualities, but Rafe knew better; and so did the voices somewhere in the vicinity of his head.

"Well Rafe, do you see anything?" asked Sknarf. Of all people in the village, Sknarf had the most sympathy for his foresight, or lack of it. Perhaps, she just plain old liked him, but more likely it was the free tea that he offered to any who could prop their drooping eyelids open for a full session; and the chanting like a wounded dog that that inevitably involved.

"This waste… time," moaned Klaus, his features contorting in the effort to construct an entire sentence. Klaus was not only a mountain of a man, but possibly an entire mountain range with muscles bulging sinuously from places where muscles just shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, so many neurons were required to automate Klaus’ hulking frame that little were left for the more advanced skills of life; like speaking. If Klaus were a book, he’d be a giant children’s pop-up with nice happy pictures of snails and things like that. Not too many pages, an assured happy ending and a quick massacre of Bad Guys thrown in for good measure. That was Klaus. Simple; and violent.

"Peace… my friends… no heavy stress man… woman… you’ll cloud the images. I can almost see something…"

"Da fire?" suggested Klaus.

Sknarf coughed politely.

"Rafe dear, this is the…" thinks of a random number, "second hour of waiting. Is there any likelihood of any… anything’s any time soon? Like tonight? I mean any ideas at all? On anything?"

Rafe stuck his tongue out of the corner of his mouth and concentrated.

"…I see darkness. Much darkness…" He opened his eyes, "and some light! It’s also cold and damp and there appears to be a deep layer of water; or possibly not. Might be a prison cell."

"That surprise," said Klaus sarcastically, or possibly just said.

"Wait… There is more…" he said with an air of mysticism and began to rock back and forth rapidly like a pendulum being brought forward in time. This always gets them attentive, he thought. "There are people also. But possibly only just one or maybe no one at all; and there’s food laid out on a table of some kind, and knives and things, and… Gods! It’s like torture things man! All strewn across the tables! And blood! And intestines and…"

"It’s the kitchen Rafe, isn’t it?"

Rafe visibly deflated.

"Might be," he said sulkily.

"Got any udder visions… oh mistic one," laughed Klaus raucously.

"Erm. There is one more."

"Does it go along the lines of ‘you are the messiah and are destined to lead the masses to a better existence where they fear dying due to the invention of some sort of chaotic deity that delights in eternal torment of everyone who doesn’t know the words to the OM! song'?" asked Sknarf.

"Might be…"

"Messiah messiah! Pant’s of fire!" laughed Klaus for disconcertingly little reason.

"Look you, I’m the bleeping messiah, and as soon as you all learn that the better it will be for your eternal souls!" shouted Rafe (but in a non- stressed out manner.)

"Well, if your da messiah then get us outta here Rafe."


"Um… and why not?" beamed Klaus. He knew the answer, but it was still fun to torment "The Messiah."

"I need to undergo a life of servile persecution until I am worthy of the task that has been—"

"Pah, boddom… you always say dat."

"Right. That’s it, I’m calling down a plaque."

"Now, now boys, lets all be friends again and stop this needless bickering. We need to find a way to rescue Spiff, or even just work out where he’s likely to be. Agreed."

Klaus grunted. Rafe gave the symbol of universal harmony.

"—And Rafe, you might want to send down a plague instead. Sounds better, okay?"

"(mumble) I meant what I said."

"Now!" Sknarf grabbed a steaming and blackened stick from the edge of the fire. "Lets draw out a rough map of what we know." Sknarf looked at the smooth sand for a long time.

"Looks like a good plan to me!"

"Yup," agreed Klaus.

"I say we do this tonight. After all it’s a full moon and no one will expect an attack now. After all, it’d be madness."

"Madness," smiled Klaus, "I’m in."

"Er… did I miss something here people." Rafe pointed at the sand, "I don’t see like, y’know, a plan… I think that’s what they’re usually called."

"Okay, so were agreed," said Sknarf. "We’ll just walk in and use the lift down to that level. After all, no one would expect any sane attack to use the most obvious way in, so the trolls will be too busy guarding all the sneaky entrances to notice us waltz in."

Klaus grunted.

Rafe darted from face to face, "What! I don’t agree! We’ve not planned anything!"

"Let’s go," Sknarf stood decisively and donned a dark cloak that enveloped her completely save for her piercing eyes. She strode off into the night, her monkey companion loping behind.

Rafe sat alone in his tent and listened to the cricket’s not cricketing. "Oh bugger it!"

"Ishe dis so unexpected a visit, your vileness," said Dingus, contorting his giant frame into an earth scraping bow. Green mist puffed gently from a gaping hole in the dark gown that housed the "face" of Pontious Marcus.

"It isss not a pleasssure visssit… commander…"

Dingus considered this. Few of Pontious’ visits were very pleasurable. The slender frame of the creature towered at least a foot above Dingus, and Dingus was tall already. It shuffled slowly around him. Small shivers attempted to ripple up and down Dingus’s body, but gave up. Pontious Marcus was decidedly creepy.

"A ressssent promotion I sssseee. I doo hope there wasss a fatality involved commander. Yessss?" The chill breath drifted onto the igneous features of Dingus and he thanked the maker that decided Trolls didn’t have to breathe. Not much need for air when you’re a rock.

"Regrettably sssir," he caught himself "sir, the only fatality wos—"

Pontious Marcus oozed closer, the tendrils of his breath reaching out and ticking Dingus’s face, "Yeaassss?"

Dingus swallowed and continued, "Commander Gor succumbed to one of da prisoners, milord!"

"Rrreally. How fasssscinating. I mussst meet thisss… prisssoner. I have need of sssomeone to represssent my family in the gamessses, perhapsss thisss could be it."

Dingus shuddered at the thought of these shadowy creature-type things actually having a family. The darker possibility that they actually procreated without vomiting on each other deftly avoided his sanity. The darkest thought of all where entire groups of them got together for family gatherings thankfully eluded his sanity.

Pontious Marcus was a Leech Lord, a revolting race that fed on the blood and other stuff of creatures less fortunate than themselves; which was most creatures. They also indulged in occasional bit of dead flesh, a disgusting habit that left them rarely invited to memorials. Having stripped their own world of resources, the Empire saw their unique parasitical and cruelty strewn lifestyle as having a possible application; upper management. Few who served under a leech lord dared to disobey, lest they become the latest meal, or worse, be introduced to what lay under the covering gown.

"I would very mmucch like to ssseee him, I presume it is a him, yesss? And I would like to see him now, yesss?" Pontious Marcus reached out with a long clawed and off-slime green coloured arm that held a distinct air of putrefaction about it. He patted Dingus on the shoulder. Dingus’s skin crawled and whimpered under the touch.

"Erm. Now, milord. But it’s almost dawn. The prisoner will be asleep."

"Now. Unlesss you wissssh to join him in… ssslumber."

Dingus took a slow gulp that he hoped was hidden from the multi- eye faceted horror that he knew lurked under that gown.

"Roight away Milord."

Three dark figures shuffled through the tents and huts that laughingly comprised their village just as a darkness appeared in the skies. It was rectangular and fast moving and made a very solid sound when it landed on someone’s head.

"See told you!" said one and then stumbled off into the night. The other stared at the rectangular slab lying by his feet and rubbed his head.

"Hello!" squeaked a small box shaped creature that appeared to have just emerged from the much larger shape. Klaus stared at it, shook his head a bit and decided best not to talk to it.

He turned his back on the hallucination and loped off*.

"I want a boat. And I want one now," growled the small boy to the larger and potentially much more dangerous sailor stereotype.

"Oh you do, do you me laddie… Ar, shiver my timbers… ar… ar…" The stereotype in question, rolled back a pair of bulging sleeves to reveal equally bulging, rippling and tattooed forearms. He inhaled deeply and swelled his barrel chest until the stripes of his thick seaworthy jumper threatened to burst.

"Arrrr…" He grinned a toothy set of narfish capped teeth.

The argument had attracted the attention of some drunken types, often held in reserve for events such as this that may require modest to excessive amounts of violence. They lurched, swaggered, but mostly lurched their way from their barrel lounging duties to participate in the eagerly anticipated ruckus.

Sod stood his diminutive ground and glared defiantly at the sailor. It was like Godzilla versus the small squeegee thing; but how was the sailor to know.

"Why don’ts I just gives you a good kickings then me lad eh?" He cranked back a serious boot. "Yer’ll thank me in about ten years for this laddie, which is about ow long it’s gonne take yer {edited} to recover!" Much hilarity was had amongst the on-looking menagerie that now formed a tight circle around the quarrelling pair cackling and exchanging copious amounts of cash with some lunatic who was convinced the boy would win.

The sailor held back his coiled boot, really expecting Sod to move. "Roight. That’s it laddie, no more warnings!"

The foot swung forward with obvious and non-friendly intent; and then merrily continued on its way, much to the astonishment of said sailor type person who abruptly fell over with a startled cry. The mysterious figure had reverted to its natural form and was now hacking chunks out of the stunned group with its adamantine claws and scorching the odd pair of seaworthy pants for good measure. Four limbs later, the crowd fled howling and limping off into the suffocating back streets of the dock-lands. The running steps faded into nothing until the only thing to be heard were the billows like sound of Puff’s chest as it heaved mightily.

"Good boy," Sod patted him affectionately. Puff had grown at a tremendous rate and was now about the size of the boy himself and had evidently been learning a great deal about its unnatural abilities. Sod crouched down on the mud-covered cobbles and picked up a lone boot; with foot inside. He smiled and tossed it into the swampy substance of the bay.

"Well Puff, how much did we get."

The dragon scanned the scattered notes, attempted to speak, blew a small burst of flame instead and decided to wait until the fires in it’s stomach had abated.

Sod picked up the loose bundle that had fallen when Puff shape changed.

"Hey, this could be enough to get us passage eh Houdini?" Houdini squeaked with excitement. He would be the first rat ever to travel by boat first class, or indeed any class other than cargo. Sod scanned the assemblage of yachts, contraband clippers and tugs, each of which listed sickly in varying degrees of decay. They wandered merrily along the deserted moorings until one caught his eye. It was called the Sea’s Scrapings and was a pirate vessel of some re- known. Not too large, but fast and if you were taken in by it’s sleek lines, faster still. Skulls hung in mesh baskets from each mast and the figure- head appeared a touch too realistic.

"We’ll take it," smiled Sod and shimmied up a rope to the deck. Houdini scuttled up shortly afterwards, his small sharp claws taking the slimy ropes in their stride.

"Squeak!" went Houdini as he too landed on the deck.

"Hmm. Good point, no crew left. Puff?"

Two large flaps and the dragon landed beside him. "Master?" it heaved. Language skills had been acquired so quickly, it left little doubt as to the intelligence of Puff. Although it left a great deal of doubt as to just how intelligent he would get.

"Can you rustle us up a crew Puff?"

Puff had eyebrows, and for the first time in his short life, found a use for them.

Sod persisted. "Anything will do, even rats."

Houdini squeaked in agreement.

Puff’s great golden eyelashes closed in concentrated thought and the wings unfurled and flapped with obvious spell effort. Nothing happened for a very long time. Houdini got bored and scuttled off to explore the lower decks.

There was bubbling off the starboard side.

Something was making its way from the undredged depths.

Sod ran to the side and peered at the pea green murk as it swirled and churned. Houdini reappeared, perched on his shoulder, munching the remains of an apple.

Fleshless fingers and gnawed bones broke the surface. Waving and clutching. Then there was a lot more of them until the sea churned like a Restless Moron’s concert. These were the corpses of those who ended their days by the dock; which as the local law encouragers will testify is an unknown, but large figure.

Moaning and groaning (don’t the undead just always) the animated corpses, some still with knives and one with an entire harpoon protruding an unnamed orifice, made their way up the side of the boat, yellowed nails burrowing into the timbers with unnatural strength. Luckily, training for the undead is seldom required and this bunch certainly knew what they were doing as each took up a particular duty.

Sod grinned. This was more like it. Real power; only over the dead admittedly; the living for now would have to wait. He"d teach them all just how unfunny his name was.

"Uuuuuuh… where to captain… Uuuuuuh," moaned something that appeared to have both legs encased in stone and would have done well to have extended the covering to its entire body.

A fish plopped out of its ear.

"Hmm hadn’t really thought of that. Houdini?"

The rat poked its head out of his top pocket and squeaked questioningly back.

"Where do you say we go then with this fine crew me little shipmatie?"

Houdini’s pink ears quivered with thought.


"Ha har, me hearty, a good choice."

A captain’s uniform promptly materialised and replaced Sod's unkempt clothing. Sod smiled and patted Puff gently, amazed at the expanding repertoire of spells and abilities that possessed him. "Helmsman," he said to a creature more helm than man, "set sail for… the deep blue sea."

"So…" said Captain Cockup of "The Watch"*. "You say you were attacked by…" he consulted his notes with exaggerated slowness.

"A small boy, a well dressed man, a dragon… a rodent, and an antelope—oh, sorry, of course, there wasn’t an antelope was there, that’d just be plain silly lads, now wouldn’t it?"

Captain Cockup allowed his considerable bulk to rest more heavily on the chair that would soon have to be condemned. It was a typical Friday evening and the five professional lunatics that hopped urgently before him were the sort of thing he always got on Friday evenings. Antelopes were a once a fortnight affair.

He sucked on his pipe and considered; not that he or the pipe smoked, but Cockup discovered that people in generally gave pipe smokers that bit more time to ponder, and ponder now he needed to do. "Yes, yes, yes! Do we need to tell you again—and Barnacle here says he also saw them take The Sea Scrapie," enthused an erratic yet well respected individual, known to the local community as Mad Jack That Shouts And Dribbles A lot.


"Ish rue!," mumbled the one known as Tom No Mouth.

Flob joined in, "Aye! An a bunch a zombies a jumped oot of the watar and took ‘er away. She’s just a passing the harbar wall noo! Look man, quick, for the love of what’ere ye beleeve in, look!"

"Hmm… Zombies you say…" Captain Cockup eyed them up and down and a bit sideways to. The days drinking had obviously taken it’s toll on them already. Zombies indeed he thought.

"Well then lads. Just saying I was to believe you. I’d have to be mad ‘n all wouldn’t I. And that just wouldn’t do for someone with such a high level of responsibility for the good townsfolk, present company excepted of course."

Luckily, Captain Cockup was mad. He called to his invisible half wolf, half Tyrinian swamp lizard that lurked under the desk. A small puppy named Alfred who’ll have no more to do in this book yipped and padded after his owner.

"Alright, just this once, but if I hear any more about zombie ships piloted by a dragon and a rat, I’m just going to get a bit cross now." And when Captain Cockup got cross, he put down his pipe. And no one wanted that.

Not ever.

He stepped out into the dusty streets and was run over by a passing antelope hoping for quick passage to warmer climes.

Creeping between the guard buildings with quick dashes when the moon was obscured, the daring rescuers proceeded, gradually nearing the gaping mouth that was the mine entrance.

Rafe yawned.

"I could be in bed, meditating right now y’know," he said to Klaus.

"Shh," whispered Sknarf.

A cloud drifted lazily across the milky dish and briefly there was again darkness. Sknarf took her chance, and ran hoping that the others followed.

They didn’t.

Cursing, she looked around searching the many shadowy forms that littered the troll encampment. There they were. Peering in a window, for the sake of the gods.

"Psst," she hissed venomously.

Klaus and Rafe stood right where they were.

Sknarf sighed.

Another burst of darkness.

Sprint. Sprint. Skid.

The light returned just as Sknarf dived behind an ore pile. "What are you two doing," she hissed again. As with all people, her constant hissing was actually louder than if she chose to speak openly.

They didn’t move.

"Right." Sknarf marched up the alley that unfortunately had found itself squeezed between two troll barracks and towards the still forms. "Didn’t you hea—"

"—Just stop right der you ape bleeper," slurred a voice thick and simple and with a just a touch of sulphur.

"Turn daround…. slowwly!" growled the large an ominous form that could only be one troll in particular; Gigor.

He was the off-world arena champion and was deified by most of its kind, not because they liked him, but because they were scared. If your average troll was mean, this one was down right miserly.

"What you all doin’ out ‘ere eh? I think you tell Gigor?" he grabbed Sknarf by her slim neck and applied a choking pressure. "Speak to Gigor!" he rumbled, increasing the pressure. "SPEAK!"

Sknarf gagged. Klaus’ great arms twitched almost undetectably. "Perhaps she can’t speak because you have unintentionally restricted the means by which she can vocalise herself? Hmm?" asked Rafe. The troll’s massive slab of a right arm swung out, displacing great volumes of air and then Rafe’s face. Hs nose exploded like a burst can of tomato puree and he flew backward two body lengths to land in a trash heap.

Klaus trembled some more, his anger rising uncontrollably, though he knew it would be certain suicide to attack this monster. Then, inspiration! For the first time in his life, Klaus decided to use guile. "We were actually off to join de er… join da night-shift down in level three."

"Night-shift?…" Gigor bent down until his mighty form was the same height as Klaus’ six foot stature. He peered searchingly into Klaus’ eyes. "I don’t beleeve ya!" Gigor gesticulated violently with the same arm that suspended the struggling Sknarf. Her feet dangled limply above the ground.

Klaus knew he had only seconds left.

"Night-shift yeah, only were a bit late." The creative juices were flowing now, "—And that’s why we had to run"

"Cos you were late," nodded the troll. The comprehension that he had just knocked out and nearly strangled one other valuable prisoner was beginning to worry him. He released Sknarf slightly and let her gasp a rasping lungful of air. She kicked the troll to no effect other than to decide never to attempt that again.

"A’right! Maybe you are tellin’ da truth. Burram still spicius of you!" Gigor pressed a cold granite finger against Klaus’ nose. It practically obscured his entire face.

"Actually, seein’ as were so late. How bout you take us there yourself, there’s so many locked doors to get through and we don’t want to be any later."

The troll grumbled, deep but more likely shallow in thought. It was sure something still wasn’t quite right.

"And I’m sure, you’ll get a reward. Just what you deserve eh?" The troll’s ears picked up at the sound of this magic word, or they would have if they hadn’t been sculpted onto the side of his stone cauliflower.

"Award? Gigor get award? Alright, lets go." Gigor plodded off, each step booming and crushing the ground beneath it as he went. Klaus deftly picked up Rafe and slung him over his shoulder, and whilst supporting Sknarf with the other side of his body raced off after the troll in a sort of mutant three legged race.

"Stone me, lads!" gasped Captain Cockup as he watched the ship sail off. On it’s deck was a small boy and bunch of loose limbed individuals, he could only assume were the zombies.

The lads obliged, after all, it wasn’t often you got a chance to legally hurt "The Watch."

"LEVEL THREE. WELL LEVEL." Chimed the lifts artificial personality.

"If you’ll slither this way milord" said Dingus, stepping out into a writhing mass of mud that constituted the floor.

"My racsse doessn’t sssslither you imbicssile, we glide," hissed Pontious Marcus, toxic green gas billowing with each vile breath. He slithered passed Dingus and along the corridor, dredging up the mud and wriggly things that lived therein.

There was a colossal noise behind the pair and they spun/slithered in time to watch the roof of the lift cave in. Dust leapt out in mighty waves followed by a minor avalanche of stones.

"What in Zod’s name was that!" shouted Dingus, thundering back into the wrecked elevator doorway. There was a figure there, a familiar one and one covered completely in rocks. No, they weren’t rocks thought Dingus.

They were his limbs.

"Dis is very kind of you Gigor," said Klaus, as the troll unlocked the door to the elevator shaft.

"Sawrrite. Me get prize. Hope me didn’t hurt her too much." He pointed at Sknarf.

"Her? No, no, spends too much time breathin’ anyway, does er good, bit of gasping eh? Who needs air? Air’s for wimps?" Gigor nodded. He’d never seen the need for the stuff himself. Then again, trolls didn’t have the need for much of anything: deodorant, toothpaste, clothing and a sense of humour had all pretty much given the troll race a speedy bypass. As did everyone else.

The doors slid open, revealing a great gaping blackness.

"Hmm, no elevatur, must be somun’ usin’ it?" said Gigor helpfully, but then no one really heard him.

It was only when he slowly rotated to face the apes did he realise that something was on the verge of not being totally correct. The apes were rushing away from him at great speed, but didn’t seem to be moving; and why was it so draughty.


Puff. Puff. Gap. Puff. Puff.

The sequence complete, Sod looked to his advisors for advice. A quiet snort and squeak of incomprehension were the only replies.

"Well, looks like their smoke signal idea was a bit of a waste of time on their part. I wonder what they wanted to say," pondered Sod. The undead had been working marvellously and indeed, they seemed to have reached the deep blue sea as Houdini requested, and as the crew operated tirelessly, except for limb wear and tear, they seemed to be seeing a great deal of it. Problem was, they hadn’t a clue as to where they were going; and hadn’t known ever since they’d lost sight of land. Once, they’d dropped a zombie overboard and let it walk along the seabed to discern if the water was changing depth, but they ran out of rope at 2 kilometres and had to let the zombie go. The gods only knew which beach it would eventually lurch onto.


The cannonball shot across the main deck in a streak of flame, smashed into the central mast and exploded in fury. The ship rocked violently.

"Uuuuuh," went the groans of some vital dismembered shipmates as they plunged into the hurling waves.

The ships following them had dwindled to just three now, but Sod’s, being certainly no slouch and powered by the tireless limbs of the undead, had managed to keep a consistent distance away. But now, with the increasing number of desperate cannonball volleys, they were starting to catch up and the "Sea’s Scrounger," was falling to bits.

"More speed to the sails me maties!" cried Sod.

There were varies replies of renewed vigour or variations upon "Uuuuuh."

The crime for piracy was hanging, but Sods crew didn’t fear that, most of them didn’t even have heads.

The torn sails were taken down, and new ones put up. Or at least, that was the plan.

"No more sails!" cried Sod.

"Gigor! Gigor!" Dingus kicked the troll.


With typical remorse that is often shown at the death of a fellow troll, Dingus said. "Oh well, bit of a bleeper anyw—"


Dingus’ knees gave way and he sunk to the ground. Something had just hit him rather hard on the head. A great crack ran down his forehead.


The crack widened.


Dingus’ head blew open like a really good cartoon sneeze as pieces of small rock were spinning everywhere.

Sknarf rolled to a stop in the soft mud.

"What the bleep did we land on?"

"Und dho is dat!" shrieked Rafe, his nose now looking as though it had relocated to somewhere amidst his forehead.

The figure oozed forward.

"Thisss isss mossst unfortunate—" It paused and soaked in their combined fear, "—for you," Pontious Marcus added with typical over the top dramatism. "And I wasss in ssuch a good mood too!"

Dingus stumbled to his feet, headless. The loss of cranial mass for a troll isn’t usually fatal, as long as the rest of the body isn’t too badly damaged. One grows back eventually.

"Dingusss, take them to join the other prissssoner. I’m sssssure they will get along fabulousssly with him, asss will I"

Pontious Marcus began a long demonic cackle, that increased in its intensity until it rang off the walls and threatened to dislodge the very stonework.

"You’re a bit mad, aren’t you?" said Sknarf.

Water lapped at Sod’s feet. The ship was sinking; or the sea was rising.

They had taken a great deal of hits from the following armada, and now the two remaining boats pulled alongside. The battle was over, and they could spare no more zombies to use as cannonballs.

"Abandon ship!" cried Sod bitterly, his first command, awash. There was a sudden mass exodus for the water, as the zombies, loyal to the last, dived, hopped, rolled and flopped into the heaving waves below.

"Squeak?" Houdini didn’t like the water.

"Hold on my little friend, we’ll be all right."

Sod took Houdini in his comforting hands, gave him a reassuring stroke and then dived headfirst into the icy waters.

Puff stayed to the last, until the water trickled over his Plesiosaur and clouded his eyes.

"The enemy appeareth to be destroyed Cap’n," boasted a polished erection of a second in command.

"Get the survivors out of the water… And bring me that boy!" boomed Captain Assaneasasandwich.

"Aye, aye sir." The erection strutted off, feathers blooming in the fresh breeze like some nautical Bird of Paradise.

Some time passed, the tallest mast bubbled to nothing and a seagull called Fred passed by.

"Cap’n. Slight problem sir"


"Erm, no one will jumpeth in the water."

"Whaaat!" bellowed the barrel shaped captain. "The cowardly land- lubbers-that-they-are! I’ll show them," The captain strained at various layers of clothing, removed sufficient coverage that he could walk without undue difficulty, and headed to the port side of his ship where the men shifted about uneasily.

"What’s the problem her—"

He saw the problem.

"Uuuuuh! Uuuuuh! Uuuuuuuuuh!"

The water writhed with zombies; a veritable teeming mass of them that clawed frantically at the slime covered hull.

"Gods save us," gasped the Captain. "Is the boy there?"

"Canny see im Cap’n—think he drowned for sure," was the over quick reply echoed by a dozen men with thorough nods.

"Oh. Well…" The Captain stared at the groaning mass that that swayed and bobbed with each passing wave. A lone dorsal fin swished about in a vain attempt to find some food.

"Anchor away!" he ordered, only to find it already being done. "So, number one." He gestured to his overly straight second in command. "What do we tell the parents?"

"The zombies took him Sar!"

To be continued...


* The Piangulese were a race unique amongst the heavens. They lived on a tetrahedral world with tetrahedron houses and little tetrahedral shaped after dinner mints; and were for the most part happy. They were at the same time stunningly advanced in algebraic studies and yet had the worst road system in the universe; discovery of the wheel continued to avoid them. All went well for an exceedingly long time until one day, upon the 3rd side of the 3rd facet of the 3rd angle there was born a child, a child called Kubik. Kubik was different. Nowhere in the whole of the Piangulese world was there anything that wasn’t pyramid shaped. Nowhere, except for Kubik. At first the Piangulese attempted to accommodate him but his form was so offensive, so deformed, so square… So they decided to ignored him; every single one of them. And so Kubik grew up in a world where no one would speak to him, laugh with him or pass bodily fluids on his aflame body. It would be surprising if Kubik didn’t turn mad, and so that’s just what he did. Kubik took to science for his vengeance and sweated long crazed nights in lightning blasted towers. At length, he was finished and took his place on his orbiting squareship; and prepared the machine. It was a unique machine and it took all the crazed might of Kubik’s mind to create it. It started with one, and that one built four exact replicas of itself. In turn, each built four more and so on, until by the next morning, all the major land masses of Pythagorea had been consumed by a hundred trillion utterly identical little Kubik’s. And a hundred trillion other Kubik’s refused to be ignored and a hundred trillion other Kubik’s all did their very best to ignore the much smaller Piangulese population. Kubik left then, and sought out in his squareship another place. A place where he would beings of every geometric persuasion that would accept him for what he was; and if not, Kubik decided, he would end it all…

* Arguably, the one thing "The Watch" didn’t do was just that; watch. "The Blind Eye," being the unofficial title.

Copyright 1997 by Neil McGill

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