Welcome back to the continuing tale of Ms Pinky and friends at the most unusual employment agency there is. Please feel free to comment on the series, it really is helpful. If you are just joining in with the fun, it’s lovely to meet you. Please click here for a chapter listing to take you back to where it all began….
The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange
(In which Alice meets her nemesis)
Alice drifted in and out of sleep, dreaming of a large ship ploughing through heavy seas. God, she thought when she finally woke up, how much did I drink last night? She clutched her head gingerly before forcing her eyes open. Expecting a view of Bergen’s snow-covered rooftops, Alice was somewhat surprised to find herself looking out of a small porthole; she appeared to be on board a ship ploughing through heavy seas.
‘What the….,’ she began.
‘Hell?’ resounded a voice behind her.
Alice turned to see a very tall, broad man with a bushy white beard and long hair; he was naked from the waist up, biceps bursting from his arms.
‘Not quite the word I was thinking of,’ said Alice, ‘who are you?
‘Please forgive my rudeness,’ said the man in a strong Scandinavian accent, ‘you must find this particularly confusing. I am Njord, and I would shake your hand were it not for these chains with which we are bound.’
Alice looked down at her own feet, finding that they were also chained together.
‘Njord as in Norse sea god?’
‘Indeed,’ beamed the legend, pleased that this young woman seemed to have heard of him.
‘Where am I?’
‘Ah, my dear, we are all prisoners on board this vessel. I doubt even the great Thor himself knows to where our fate leads us.’
‘Who else is here?’ asked Alice, trying hard to piece together recent events.
Njord indicated to the back of the cabin where the forlorn figure of a blond-haired mermaid lay prostrate on a dirty mattress.
‘That poor havfrue,’ said Njord shaking his head, ‘she desperately needs water for her tail.’
‘How long have I been here?’
‘They brought you aboard last night, by helicopter.’
Alice suddenly remembered the bar and the young man who had approached her.
‘That bastard!’ she exclaimed, ‘he must have drugged my gin and tonic.’
‘You mean the werewolf,’ said Njord gravely.
‘I knew it!’ cried Alice, ‘his ears twitched exactly like Neil’s.’
‘Just a friend,’ said Alice, trying to loosen the heavy chain around her ankle.
‘Are you saying you enjoy a friendship with a lycanthrope?’
‘Yes,’ said Alice, ‘but he’s not really dangerous, more of a self-harmer.’
‘What a remarkable person you are,’ said Njord, ‘I wonder why they need you.’
‘The charming people who are holding us here against our will.’
‘Oh,’ said Alice, ‘I expect it has something to do with my search for the Kraken.’
Njord gazed in wonder at Alice.
‘Yet again you amaze me. Your search, my dear, is over. The Kraken is being held on this ship.’
‘Curiouser and curiouser,’ said Alice.
‘I’m afraid I was forced to help these villains navigate through the fjords to find him. That poor wretch you see over there was sent down to lure him out of his cave. They threatened to salt her tail if she refused.’
Alice shook her head: cruelty to animals was bad enough, but mistreatment of myths was an outrage.
‘Where are they taking us?’
‘My instinct tells me that we are heading west, and by a northerly route,’ said Njord.
At that moment, the cabin door was unlocked and the young man from the bar stepped inside.
‘Good, you’re awake,’ he said, addressing Alice, ‘the boss wants to see you.’
‘You’ve got some nerve,’ said Alice.
‘Save it lady,’ sneered the werewolf sniffing the air around Alice’s head, ‘or you’ll be screaming louder than a banshee burning at the stake.’
The werewolf unchained Alice from the wall and picked her up in a violent fireman’s lift.
‘Careful!’ she screamed, ‘this blouse cost me a week’s wages,’
‘Feisty little thing aren’t you?’ said the werewolf as he carried out into the corridor, ‘bet you taste nice.’
Alice found herself being carried down a set of metal stairs into the depths of the ship which was lurching alarmingly from side to side. They entered a cavernous room, presumably the vessels hold, in which Alice spotted a large metal tank, riveted on all corners, and from which water was slopping in large quantities.
Alice was thrown unceremoniously into a chair.
‘Ah, Miss Finchly, welcome aboard!’
She turned to see a boyish man with cropped hair and wire-rimmed glasses approaching.
‘Thank you Amadeus, that will be all for now,’ he said, indicating to the werewolf to leave.
‘Yes, goodbye, PETER,’ spat Alice as the werewolf walked out. She turned to the young man. ‘Whatever it is, the answers no.’
‘Now, there’s no need for rudeness. I haven’t even introduced myself yet.’
‘Well? Who are you?’
‘That’s more like it. My name is Bradley Smithson, Head of Personnel at N.E.W.T.’
‘What is N.E.W.T.?’
The man smirked.
‘The Nautilus Entertainment Worldwide Transcorporation. In other words, your new employer.’
‘I already have a job.’
‘Yes, let’s see. Alice Finchly, PREVIOUSLY in the employ of The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange, BA Hons in Literature, MA in Mythology and Folklore of Olde England, author of ‘The Secret Diary of a Myth Hunter’, and, most importantly, Licensed Cephalopod Communicator.’
Alice glanced at the tank.
‘Have you met the Kraken?’ said Bradley, climbing the stairs which ran up to the top.
‘Not yet, thanks to you,’ said Alice.
‘Come and meet him. You’ll be spending a lot of time together.’
Alice rose slowly from her seat,
‘How do you mean?’
Bradley shot a perfect bleached smile at Alice.
‘Nautilus World opens in six weeks time in Boston Harbour; the Kraken is our star attraction and you are his trainer.’
‘Never,’ said Alice, firmly.
‘Thought you’d say that. Let’s see if I can’t change your mind.’ He spoke into a walky-talky. ‘Amadeus, bring in the mermaid.’
The werewolf appeared, carrying the dried-out mermaid from the cabin.
‘This,’ said Bradley pointing to the doorway, ‘is Lisbeth. There’s plenty more like her being held on this ship. Every day you refuse to cooperate, one mermaid becomes shark bait.’
‘You wouldn’t,’ cried Alice, ‘you can’t!’
‘We would,’ said Bradley, smiling, ‘and we will.’
© flyingscribbler 2011