Greetings lovely readers. Welcome back to The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. This week we return to the high seas and discover Alice and her fellow prisoners in a bit of a pickle. Is this the end of our plucky heroine? Will the mermaid be rescued before her scales fall off? Will the Kraken ever be free again to terrorise the sailors of the North Sea? I don’t know because I’ve yet to write the last few chapters, but in the meantime……..
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The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange
(In which the prisoners are served the ‘Dish of the Day’)
In the frigid waters of the north Atlantic, somewhere off the east coast of Nova Scotia, guards dressed in black with guns slung across their backs patrolled the decks of a cargo ship. This motley bunch of ex-cons and professional thugs-for-hire were bored stiff; nothing had come near the ship or its precious cargo of the kidnapped Kraken, and now they were impatient to reach Boston where they could get a drink, get a girl or just get warm.
Several decks below, the prisoners were aware of a change of atmosphere outside their locked cabin door.
‘There’s definitely more activity than normal,’ said Alice, ‘something’s going on.’
‘I have certainly perceived an increased level of noise and general excitement since the mechanical flying contraption landed,’ said Njord, sagely, ‘how did you name this conqueror of the skies?’
‘Yes, indeed. Amazing how the world makes such advances and yet appears to learn so very little.’
Alice smiled at her fellow prisoner.
‘Njord, whatever happens to us tonight,’ she said, ‘I want you to know how much I have enjoyed your company.’
‘Alice, my dear,’ said the sea-god, ‘it is I who should be thanking you. Without your constant optimism and defiance in the face of danger, I doubt very much that either I or poor Lisbeth back there would have survived quite so long.’
Alice looked over to the havfrue who was asleep on her mattress. It was true, thought Alice; without her stolen bottles of water, the mermaid might have perished days ago.
‘She’s very weak, isn’t she?’
Njord nodded slowly and lowered his voice.
‘I doubt the poor creature will last the night,’ he said, ‘I will appeal once more to the gods of the seas for our salvation.’
‘That would seem to be our best bet,’ said Alice. It had been two days since Ms Pinky’s unexpected appearance in her nightmare, and she was beginning to suspect that it had simply been just a dream and that no one was mounting any kind of rescue effort after all.
Alice remained lost in thought, until their cabin door was flung open by the werewolf, Amadeus.
‘Right you lot, on your feet; time for a nice surprise.’
‘Unless it’s a hot shower and an edible meal, we’re not interested,’ said Alice.
Amadeus strode across the cabin and hauled her to her feet.
‘Not long till moonlight, darling,’ he whispered in her ear.
‘Ugh! Vile creature,’ said Alice, pushing him away.
He walked to the back of the cabin and kicked Lisbeth in the side.
‘Oi! Fishtail. Wake up!’
The mermaid opened her eyes and stared blankly at the werewolf.
‘She hasn’t the strength to stand,’ said Njord, ‘she will have to be carried.’
Amadeus snarled and leapt out of the cabin, returning a moment later with three guards; one picked up the prone form of the mermaid and the others pushed Alice and Njord out through the door. The heavy chains round their feet made it a difficult walk down into the cargo bay where Barney Smithson, Head of Personnel at Nautilus Entertainment Worldwide Transcorporation, was waiting to greet them.
‘I see our guests have arrived,’ he said, smiling sarcastically as the three prisoners were shoved unceremoniously into seats at a table which had been positioned in front of the Kraken’s iron tank. ‘Please, take a seat.’
‘Bastard,’ muttered Alice under her breath.
‘Did you say something, Miss Finchley?’
Before she could answer, a desperate squeal emanated from the tank.
‘Was that the Kraken?’ asked Alice.
‘I think so, yes.’ said Barney.
‘It sounds ill.’
‘Not ill, Alice; far from it. It’s probably just the trainer giving him an electric shock. Amazing what tricks that squid performs with a few thousand volts of electricity applied to a tentacle.’
Alice’s eyes filled with tears and she looked over to Njord.
‘Stay strong,’ he whispered, ‘it’s not over for us yet.’
Barney walked over to the table and poured himself a glass of champagne from the bottle which Amadeus had just brought in.
‘A toast!’ he announced, ‘to a successful journey and a bright future for us all at Nautilus World.’ He took a sip from the glass. ‘Well,’ he continued, ‘almost all of us.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ said Alice, through gritted teeth.
‘Well,’ said Barney, ‘we’ll hardly require the services of a crusty old sea-god or a desiccated mermaid at Nautilus World; they wouldn’t be much of an attraction would they? After all, we’re not in the business of terrifying children. Where’s the profit in that?’
Lisbeth sobbed and laid her head on the table.
‘There, there, dear,’ said Barney, ‘it won’t be long now. In the meantime, I must dash. I have a lot to sort out before I leave. You probably heard my helicopter earlier on; it’s taking me to Boston so I can be there to welcome our star attraction to his new home.’
‘I think you mean prison,’ said Alice
‘If you like, yes,’ said Barney, ‘in the meantime, please enjoy the meal my chef has prepared for you. Think of it as a last supper, if you will.’
‘You really are a little shit, Barney.’
‘Come now, Alice. You could at least be civil to me; after all, this is the last time you’ll be seeing me.’
‘Bollocks to that,’ said Alice.
‘Please yourself,’ said Barney, getting up from the table, ‘but do try to enjoy your last evening with us. I understand that Amadeus has a very special send-off planned for you later.’ He paused at the door. ‘Shame really,’ he said, ‘you’re quite pretty; in the right light.’
‘Not looking good, is it?’ said Alice once Barney had disappeared.
‘I think not. But we must face our destiny with bravery; show them no fear.’
Easier said than done, thought Alice, as the guards reappeared, placing large plates of food in front of them. Amadeus drew a chair up next to Alice and sat down.
‘Now,’ he said, ‘you will eat.’
Alice looked down at the plate and retched.
‘What’s wrong?’ said Amadeus, ‘don’t you like calamari?’
© flyingscribbler 2011