07:00; I arrive in style to Pirate Pete Pequod’s rooftop abode. Coiffure correct, teeth tinkling, manicure, moustache and monocle all meticulous, I abseil easily down in tuxedo and topper, cane underarm and Italian leather underfoot. I stride over to the proletarian pirate, slap some invisible lint from his cracked-leather lapels with my immaculate white kid gloves, and ask him when he is setting sail?
The delicious revulsion on his face confirms I am everything he hates. And, quite delightfully, he has no idea what I am talking about.
07:15; Why, golly, didn’t he know? All the rich of the town have prepped their boathouses with balloons and floats in the night, and intend to set sail as Nation floods the town. Balloons supplied and installed by myself and the parade balloon keeper. Pequod is rich, isn’t he? Why wouldn’t they tell him?
07:30; By the veins popping in his visage, he has made the correct and incorrect connections. Correctly, he has assumed that he was left out of this boating boy’s club last night because he is no lord, a title he utterly disdains though it is one his wealth could easily afford. Incorrectly, he has assumed the town elders were in on the zombie job from day one, and that little mistake is the most fun.
07:45; Dancing away, so that I’m not, with harpoon, shot straight through, I board my boat of the skies and gleefully conclude Phase Two.
08:00; I helped that engineering idiot Ailface install balloons in the homes of the terrified toffs townwide in their clinker-built mansions. As if his deformed digits could design the means by which the balloons would separate the catarmaran’s claws in the foundations evenly, allowing the ship not flight, but float, as the town fills with water. And if this allowed me a spare moment to steal a cavalier courtier’s costume that made me every inch the aristocrat brat to that buccanneer businessman, then so much the better.
08:30; I drop a note to the Milk Maids, still playing the lactose orchestral on the deck of this town-wide Titanic. They should inform all but the elite on their route than the town is about to sink – and that the marvelous Pirate Pete has devised a means to save them all from disaster’s brink! Phase Three shall set the townspeople free. Tee. Hee.
09:00; The great whirring of the mighty Atlantean waterscrews running in reverse reverberates through the town. Right on schedule, according to Nation’s plans. The army will assume the navy is doing to sterilise the town of the undead, and vice versa, and both will allow it to go ahead. I turn towards La Pantalon Rouge, to check on the modifications before the deluge.
09:15; Mitzy Creampuff, extremely round in body, extremely aerodynamic in mind, has overseen the streamlining of the overall structure. The windmill sails have been positioned horizontally atop the building, ready for deployment after the first stage burn. These sails will be a second stage helicopter rotor as the gasbag is filled, eventually pushing the windmill sails into the third stage, a propeller position. But what will power the propellers?
09:30; Zelda De Syn, LPR’s Chief Whip one might say, posesses dual expertises in the exciting extremities of exquisite pain her subjects with the least amount of injury and the maximum motion of mechanical movement with the least amount of power production. She says that LPR has used its windmill as an ambient electricity source for some years, and they have a backlog of on-site power as a result. A starting jolt with a car battery, which she usually uses in her other expertise, and the rotors should start first time. But how will they stay strapped down during this rocket-ride?
10:00; Mandy Handy, who enjoys playing with dollies, stuffed animals and hard-wired crash test dummies, has devised some serious restraint materials from every day objects, like rope, pillows and fluffy/leather handcuffs. These have been seriously roadtested by clients in the past – anything from tied down to the floor to suspended freely from the ceiling – so Mandy feels she has the requisite data to protect herself and her fellow fillies. Reminds me of ReSTrained, the oddly capitalised name for the oddly tamed sadomasochistic superdame. One could never say no to her either. This place will fly.
11:00; The streets have begun to flood. People probably think that it is just the underearth underminer Claude Claustrophile passing through, or the local sewer ruler Rat-A-Tat-Tat blocking the drains again. Also, everyone has been indoors for the past few days. But once the water climbs the steps, I believe we will see an entirely different side to the situation.
11:15; I oversee the last of the gasbag fitting, using what I have learned all through last night to perfect this parade poppable into perfection.
11:30; Doorstep denouement again. The water is filling the streets, and R-A-T-T’s legion is just ahead of the townsfolk sprinting up the street among ankle-deep marshes. I bid Open a happy close to her own escape, and made for my own means of miraculous self-inflate. She says thanks, again, when I’m half way there.
11:45; Their client base includes the city’s richest people. Men and women who, in the heat of passion, tell these girls that they love them. These people knew about the zombies & the flood. Not one has called. But I came. Twice. Apparently coming, out of love, rather than faking it is very important here.
11:50 I turn back to her, open mouth, close mouth, turn back to dirigible, half twist two thirds of the way there, then continue swiftly, reach inside, turn again, return to her, tell her I am fully aware that she can handle her own problems, that I respect her mind, body & lack of a soul and press the great hat of Horatio Nelson into her hands. Should they have any problems with Pirate Pete Pequod, the Navy, or even the Army, this is their bargaining barter.
11:55; I don’t let her kiss me – it could all be a trick, could all still be a trick. It could be poison lipstick, soporific breath . . . a signal to seize and shoot me. Her kiss could be anything. I go.
12:00; High in the clouds and head clear, it is far more than twelve cannon that I hear. Phase Four, the villagers are bursting in the door!
12:15; Pete is up on the rooftop, trying to make sense of the mob’s mess. His confusion makes me stop, makes me wish to make it worse, I confess. Still, as I sigh and descend, that is not today’s fate. Today’s destiny to defend, it simply, really cannot wait. I have the flintlock pistol out from his pocket, before he has opportunity to cock or lock it, and tap him with the barrel on the shoulder, to see his furious recognition boil and smoulder.
12:30; The population of the town have come to fill, all-by-all, Pequod’s ark. Their off-the-cuff weaponery seems to be insurance that they won’t be left when he finally does embark. I admit entirely my hand in their rage, and that their numbers are far beyond his gauge. But I know quite a few rich men, who were content to ditch them, and I know a pirate of the land, with an array of roadboats at hand. Would he consider taking advantage of my midnight toils, and ferrying these common fellows to the houses of those inbred royals?
12:45; For a moment he weighs me, wrestling with anger and hate, then slaps me on the back and consents without further debate. On this, perhaps only with pirates, I may rely – that little provocation is required to attack, to sound the battle cry. What of Nation running free, him and his zombie goons? I ask him to leave them to me, that I would leave them in ruins. Phase Six in place, playing tricks on the toffs, allows me to join the dyke-ward race, to send my balloon aloft.
13:00; I moor my magnificent skyship by the largest water engine. There, surrounded by ranks of revenants, sits a man with half a great grin. Oh, the left side of the face, it bears quite the grimace. The left is twisted with hate, its skin bearing not a blemish. But the right side, that is the bare pate, raw skull, whose lovely, terrible smile is not for the squeamish. The bone is bare, the eye eternally staring, not holding a hair, the omission of muscle quite glaring. That right side, skin stripped with mutant stoat speed, is the revelation of Ingot Nation, his madness finally freed.
14:00; I tell him I know he still has the surplus munition, that he could shoot me out of the sky. I tell him that he has almost won without condition, ask him that he please not try. Soon the townfolk will all be zombies, raiding regiments and ships. This reminded, I ask politely, ask please, that me and me alone he might let away slip. I can do no harm, cannot interfere with his plan, all I ask is that he step aside, be the bigger, better man.
Nation says no, and shoots me in the leg. Bastard.
14:15; As I am beneath enemy feet, I hear the shatter of glass overhead. I was hoping me being shot wouldn’t be the signal that Nation and company were sufficiently distracted, but it will do. The zombies have quite cache of weaponery up here, an aerial approach and an exaggerated distraction seemed the the only way to proceed.
Idiotic, of course, but it is a hero tactic, and seems to work for them every bloody week.
14:30; Speaking of bloody, I give myself a dose of Nation’s own, altered medicine to close the worst of the wound. His men don’t bleed, but fall to the ground, inert and lifeless. These were last of his grunts, badly treated and soul-bruised. A splash of the anti-U.N.D.E.A.D. serum the Milk Maids, cooked up this morning and served out just now, causes their apeptotic function to overrun and fall apart. I give the girls a thumbs up on the ace shot, receiving one in return from them from behind their mounted milk bottle pressure cannon.
14:45; Nation has run cackling into the dam depths for further trickery. It only occurs to me now how infernally annoying this must be to heroes when vaudevillains do this, and how stupid the villains look in return. Nation’s not to blame though – I have been distressingly heroic recently. As such, he no doubt expects me to chase him in there, engage in a last minute struggle over the bombs he intends to detonate, risking life and limb as the water floods in. Thankfully, I’m just a bad man, and jam the door locked behind him.
15:00; I hear running feet and the cackling of disaster, then the thump as he tries to open the door. He seems a little desperate, no doubt because this dead man has taken off the dead man’s trigger and set this place to blow in one hour. It also may be because he has tried all the other exits before this one, finding them curiously closed. He haltingly informs me of this impending explosion, and the flooding of the town, and I thank him, politely, for further facilitating my plans. He tries to bargain – that I will be destroyed too. I inform I intend to be airborne by that point. So will he, but in many, many pieces.
Phase Seven – Send Nation to Heaven.
15:15; I conduct an impromptu requisition of a radio from Nation’s regiment. I summon up the nearby army on this frequency, and inform that the mild flooding they have seen so far is about to increase exponentially. It is entirely their own affair, but they can either leave the town limits and never, ever return without an explicit invitation or they can stay and drown, to be dredged by the Navy, who will dress the dead in frilly French knickers and send photographs to their families.
They comply. The only way to terrify men who face death for a living, in this man’s army, is to tell all, whether they ask or not.
15:30; Nation is quite frantic now. Apparently he can’t disarm the bombs. Quite the focus for biology, not engineering, it seems. At this slight his hackles rise and he declares himself the master of mortality, supreme resurrectionist, judge of the dead and that he shall have his revenge! He cannot die, and he will hunt me unto the very ends of the Earth. I tell him he needn’t do that, that I was thinking of Paris for a month or two, until the town drains. I also bring up the fact that it is all very well to be the master of mundane mortality, but the incendiary incineration-cremation kind is a little different. I remind that he should he survive, with brain intact, he will be a decapitated head, under water and mortar, unable to breathe, unable to die, for quite a while.
15:45; I inform Nation of my departure. He begs me that I might tell him How I Did It, but I don’t. By rhyming in my mind, Behind my mental confines, I have managed to purge, The dooming villain urge, To monotonously disperse my knowledge, Until the comic relief splats me with a sledge.
15:50; Exit is everything. Do I leave early, assuming it all went to plan, and risk finding out he escaped later? Do I leave late, and risk getting caught in the explosion with him? Its a tricky etiquette question, and I compromise to leave now, and closely watch the explosion from a distance.
15:55; ‘For the love of God, Daftwager!’ comes from the solid, shut door. ‘Yes, for the love of God!’ is what I shout back.
15:59; Well, not actually. Nation, as a gentlemen, asked that I ‘Don’t tell them it ended like this. Tell them I said something’. As such, I thought I’d steal something from Edgar Alan Poe’s ‘The Cask Of Amontillado’. Stephen King did, after all, for ‘Dolan’s Cadillac’, and our literary superiority to the Americans can only be maintained by out-plagarising the post-colonials.
16:00; A fine explosion. I believe I see a dismembered hand launched, upwards and to the left.
16:10; The Milk Maids pass beneath me on the right, flying out over the rising waters. The ripples the all-natural anti-gravity leaves are oddly concentric. The sunlight glints dramatically off the foil bottle tops. Oh, and Doctor Ingot Nation is clinging to the roof of their vehicle.
16:20; I affix the telescope to the harpoon gun as an impromptu sight, and take aim.
16:30; Missed! Nation rolled at the last instant. All compliments due, he has taken a page out of my book and jammed the floats doors shut, now trying to engineer a crash. I don’t know how he escaped, but he seems slightly singed and missing a hand no less. Desperate and ragged. Crazy.
16:40; Still, the harpoon did stick fast in the float’s roof. I tie up the line on this end and use the gun barrel to slide down the wire.
16:45; While he drapes his cape over the windscreen, I cold cock the loon and decommission him with a brief scream. We roll around the roof for a moment, then I tear out the harpoon and stab him in the heart. He lunges accordingly, and a swift kick drops him atop the bottle tops below. Shattered glass confettis his unfeeling skin, with the harpoon as the centrepiece. I swing down to kick him off the float and into knee-deep water. He catches the cumabund and drags me after him.
16:50; I grab at something underneath the float in an effort not to fall, and for a moment it holds in its place as much as Nation holds me firmly around my waist. Then whatever it is comes away in my hand and I kneel into his hips as we impact with the road. I beat him bloody beneath the quickly rising waters with the impromptu object in my hand, telling him to stop, telling him to just shut up.
16:55; The milk float is gone, careening down the road, safer but unstoppable for the moment. I probably jammed the anti-grav rod-racks in place as I fumbled for a handhold. The Milk Maids can’t stop, but they probably can steer sufficiently to get to safety.
16:59; Through a mushy mouth, Nation tells me that he axed the door the moment I left. I was clever, and did not leave him anything like enough time to carve a hole big enough to let himself out, but he did make a hole big enough to get his hand out. As my obstruction was designed to be unmoveable by merely reaching around through a hand-sized hole, and the timer was clicking down to zero, he cut off his own hand, which scampered outside and unjammed the door, just as everything exploded. We are standing in a rapidly flooding street. The necessity for telling me this seems beyond my understanding right now.
17:00; I prepare to ascend once again, and find the airship has moved. On the gondola up high, a dismembered hand gives me a thumbs up, just as Nation comes from below and stabs me in the leg, quite where he shot me previous. Monologue as distraction . . . he is learning . . . and he is ascending the wire half-faced and harpooned, one-handed and heart-stabbed, still going. Gone.
17:05; As I bleed out in waist high waters, unable to paddle, I consider who else I could have called in. The Sandmen? They helped Pirate Pete herd the townsfolk. The TransmoGreyFriar, holier than the Layman, not as holy as the Clergyman? The Black Abbey is too far outside of town, outside the army blockade. R-A-T-T? He and his have no doubt fled the flood already. The Red Lady? She would be suckling on my leg right now.
17:10; So I couldn’t have done anything different. This is a foundation to proceed upon from here on in. The water surrounding my joints only goes further proves my point; Nation was doomed to fail, an idiot with whom partnership could never avail. I take swig a curative bottle of milk that fell from the float, and tear the harpoon from my leg amid my enemy’s gloat. Trying so hard not to be villain, he is still floating above to see me die, to which I respond it is his blood I will be spilling, and he says he’d like to see me try. Very well. Reloading the harpoon gun, no line to use, I intend to have some fun, my enemy to abuse.
17:15; From terrific to terrified his expression goes. As I shoot curses are cried, and his fear infinitely grows. He and his dead hand hit the gondola floor as the harpoon flies above. He rises again to shake his fist in glory, his hand in its magnificent glove. Then to the buckling bunsen burner his attention is drawn, as he sees the harpoon has squarely skewered it like a prawn. A moment before the balloon explodes and the dirigible skitters out across the sea, I see his face oscillate between all its panicked modes, screeching terror codes, and I know he knows he should never have messed with me. Then he is dead or lost to the country of never waking, and I collapse beneath the waves of his making.
17:20; The water would be over my head if I were standing up. I need more milk, more anything, to replenish the blood I’ve lost. Too damn weak.
17:25; Nobody is coming.
17:30; I climb a statue of my friend Top Hat, recently erected, as in all cities within his final flight path. In Memoriam.
Dead now, certainly. I see the moon in the sky now, and shake my fist at it for his sake.
17:35; I stand beside Top on his pedestal. The water gains.
17:40; All the house boats inflated. Phase Eight Complete.
17:45; I sit on Top Hat’s back. The LPR girls said they’d launch at six, in co-ordination with flood projections. Oceanographer Sandy Shore worked it out.
17:50; Somewhere the Milk Maids and Sandmen scrambled onto to the last boat out of here, grabbing survivors as they go. Somewhere Bill Eldritch seals behind him the Vaults of the Dead, where my uncle and he shall play a game of mancala for souls, to pass the time. Somewhere in the dark of an ark I helped build, a multimillion dollar widow clutches to herself her many charges, and then collapses in slumber.
Somewhere this didn’t happen.
17:55; I perch upon Top Hat’s hat. If the hatband had not been part of his mask, I’d have had a few more minutes. Damn stylistic conventions. I turn to watch the launch of a brothel rocket and touch the place Open would have kissed me if I’d let her.
17:59; The rockets flare. I pat my coat for some certainly-soggy cigars send such a victory off with, then remember I lack the means to light them.
18:00; What have I got in my pockets, anyway? Last desperation of the wicked. No ring of invisibility, no remote control to flying bauble-bombs. Just a valise full of food, some chalk and whatever I tore off of the bottom of the milk float to beat Nation with.
Ah. Ha ha. Ah ha ha ha ha.
I appear to be holding one of the anti-gravity cylinders.
18:05; The all-natural anti-gravity cylinders the Milk Maids wanted. No fossil fuel, no need of electric more than an AA battery. Exactly what I gave to them.
18:10; . . . I have to sew this thing into my belt, rather than hold it cinematically, if I want to keep my arm in its socket . . . In my early investigations of superhumans who claimed to be heroes, I came across DoomBrain, who had the Psyche-Hat-Trick of mental powers: Telekinesis, Telepathy, and Teleport. Like all such blowhards whose medullas are particularly oblongata, merely hinting he was a fake propelled a performance of his powers. I asked him to lift a nondescript box with his mind, teleport another box around the room and read my thoughts.
18:15; . . . And now to construct a rudimentary harness from my own undergarments, spreading the force and protecting the genitals . . . As it turned out, he completed the first two with little trouble. He faked the third, the ‘mind-reading’. Told me my thoughts registered surprise, and belief, to which I assented. Had he really been reading my mind, he’d have asked what was in those boxes. Cylinders, just like this one I hold in my hand. They were filled with a protein string soup, one which replicated the brain cells of another psyche super of significantly less acclaim – the Memory Man, aka Mr Eidetic. Useless supermemory superpower, with superscientific applications. These cylinders could take a perfect imprint of a thought, muscle memory of the mind.
18:20; . . . Who knew something so extravagantly extraneous as a cumabund could play such crucial role in experimental physics . . . For you or me, thats a very good mental note maker. For poor, deluded DoomBrain, who claimed to be psychic to get girls, this meant little. He never was very analytical. For the cylinders, it meant DB imprinted the thought-pattern ‘up’ on a whole crate, which, if given an electrical charge, equivalent to the standing one in the human brain, would go ‘up’. And up. And up. The Milk Maids have a display in the cab which, when manipulated, turns the racks of cylinders below on, off, and rotates them on rows and axes for ‘forward’, ‘backwards’, and ‘sideways’, like a table football field, except the mostly harmless, armless, players fly further than a ‘hero’ like DoomBrain ever could.
Mr. Eidetic and DoomBrain never met – DB thought that Mr. E wasn’t a real hero and Mr. E remembered it for a long, long time. But right now they are going to make one hell of a team.
18:25; The rocket bordello is arching overhead. I stand tip toe on the top hat of a giant. I thumb the switch from off to on. There is a brief hum. And then up, up and away.
18:30; So this is the individual, ‘unaided’ flight is it? This is what makes the heroes ever so drunk, ever so clever, able to literally look down on the rest of us. I’ll have some of that then.
18:35; Gaining on the rocket now. The flare flutters and dies, just as the great windmill sails rise. They whirr to life as the gasbag expands, now bigger than my finger, now bigger than my hands.
18:40; I overshoot. Dammit. Damn it all to hell. While over the sea and everything.
How long can this battery hold out-
18:45; And I am yanked down. I recite the Coyote Gospel as I fall. God bless the rocket house and all who dwell within the rocket house . . .
18:50; Seventh Floor of La Pantalon Rouge; a circle of concerned ladies in various states of undress and removing their various self-imposed safety restraints. And a bedraggled bad man on the floor, a very long rope around his ankles, the other end in the hands of . . .
18:55; . . . Barb ‘Wire’ Biggun, the cowgirl with the lightning touch. Literally; she is doing extended R&D on clean electrical alternatives to common items, such as rail guns loaded with electrically charged monofilament cord. She is also an excellent shot with a lasso.
18:59; Finishing the flight path, we exit town. Farewell Whitby, town of my youth. Farewell Whitby, always obscene and never uncouth. May your claim to fame, the first town in Europe whose prostitutes contracted syphyllis from settlers from the New World, never be forgotten.
19:00; The windmill rocket-rotors jar as the gasbag fitfully fills fully and the sails slip into propeller mode. Open falls on top of me, then asks me if I felt the earth move. I reply, ‘Why of course I did. And if you will just be my immovable place to stand, I’ll show you my lever of infinite length, if you know what I mean’.
19:30; The fact that she does know what I mean is one of the single most attractive things about her. The doubly most attractive things about her were what I ‘happened’ to grab when she ‘fell’. Its a trinity, really. Body, mind & body.
20:00; The impressionable proteins in the cylinders had many uses. The telekinised canisters were general anti-gravity.The teleported canisters were a very specific type of teleport; A minor electrical charge and one would instantly be transported . . . to the seedy bar where I made DoomBrain do that old ‘Manhattan Transfer’. Exactly there. Every time. I’ve tried altering the protein strings to apparate somewhere else, and they do – then they promptly explode. Sometimes in space, sometimes inside hens. Its messy when they blow. Still, a seedy bar would have been preferable to drowning atop Top Hat. I miss my toys.
20:30; The Brain Overclocked : Recollection Eidetic (B.O.R.E.) canisters have proved useful in themselves. An excellent storage place for thought. I have yet to rig up a device to transcribe my thoughts directly from my cerebellum, which I could have done if DoomBrain had actually been a telepath – an annoying lie. These thought-like notes will have to serve as my recollective device for now.
21:00; One day I shall encounter a telepath, perhaps even a precog. I first will have to rig a means by which they can’t read my mind or see me coming – abilities which have kept them out of my path previous to this – but one day I shall map their minds, sculpt three dimensional cartographies of their lobes, interrogate the present and sequester the future with an empirical application of apparent ‘mental mysticism’. I will scald the all-seeing eyes from their very heads.
22:00; The Navy aims its anti-aircraft guns at us. They intend to bombard us out of the sky. They will purge the infection of the Zombie Nation from the ships in the water and air alike, from pirate and landlubber alike, from the women and children alike. To hell with this. Literally.
Phase Nine; Summon the Master from the brine.
22:30; I admit, it was tempting to summon Cthulhu from the deep to eat the Navy. But the problem with R’yleh is that you have to pay them in souls to get them to start fighting, and far more to get them to stop. True, the zombie wards inscribed on all the post-house boats may have deflected a demon lloigor, but in all likelihood, the Elder Gods would have then arisen from their undying sleep in the roiling deep to consume the entirety of the Earth.
So that was shelved as Plan B.
Plan A merely required my memorising the summoning circle from Bill Eldritch’s. Etching it out with my chalk, and, rather than a Cthulhu plushie and the livers of the unliving, using Horatio Nelson’s hat and a bit of zombie brain, I summoned the ghost of that fellow to reprimand his current counterparts.
23:00; I didn’t even know battleships could reverse that quickly. The old fellow was quite angry about the ‘firing on fleeing women and children’ thing. The sea of blood may have been overkill.
00:00; Nelson is back in the beyond, the Navy have gone with as strict non-return orders (from Above) as the Army and Pirate Pete Pequod is pacified by the return of the relic that is now liable to be deified. And if in the heat of the jubilation that hat, the old chapeau, lost a few buttons into my private pockets, for just-in-case, all the better.