Welcome to the concluding chapter of The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. I thought I would tease you all by splitting this chapter in two; the second and final part follows next week. (The more astute amongst you will see through this immediately: the final chapter turned out to be too long).
It’s never too late to join in the fun, so if you are new to the series and would like to read from the very start, click here to be instantly transported to Chapter One. A full chapter listing can be accessed here.
It’s a busy few weeks for the flyingscribbler: my 40th birthday was this week and I’m away all next week on holiday, so if I don’t immediately reply to your comments, please accept my apologies.
I hope you enjoy the concluding chapter. Thank you for reading!
The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange
(In which the Beserkers go beserk)
Ms Pinky crossed her arms and flared her three nostrils.
‘Would somebody kindly tell me what that NAZI is doing here?’
Santa approached Ms Pinky and smiled.
‘My dear lady, please allow me to apologise for my uncharacteristic behaviour towards you the other day. I’d just been sent the latest North American birth figures; they showed a significant increase, caused, apparently, by a series of black-outs in the Mid-West. Good news for the parents, no doubt, but it’s caused havoc in my workshop.’
Ms Pinky pursed her lips.
‘If it makes you feel any better,’ continued Santa, ‘Mrs Claus gave me one hell of a row for treating you so unkindly.’ He rubbed the back of his head. ‘Still hurts now.’
Ms Pinky uncrossed her arms and examined her claws.
‘Good. She sounds like my kind of woman.’
Fiona breathed a sigh of relief.
‘Santa, you say you’ve brought the Beserkers?’
‘Indeed. I owed the Norwegian Foreign Minister a favour and my reindeer needed the exercise.’
‘Excellent,’ said Fiona, ‘we’ve got the ship’s personnel under control for the moment, but could do with some help getting them back to Norway. I imagine the authorities there would like to talk to them’
‘Those are the Besrkers’ orders, although….’
‘Well, they seem a little, over-enthusiastic if you ask me.’
‘Is that them I can hear outside?’
Santa rolled his eyes.
‘Pixies’ curses; I told them to wait until you were off the ship.’
Alice stuck her head out of the porthole.
‘What are they chanting?’
From the deck below came a deep, rumbling, battle-like chant.
Heavy footsteps accompanied the war cry as it became more insistent.
Ms Pinky leaned over the railing outside to get a closer look.
‘They’ve got terribly sharp knives,’ she said, eyes bright orange with excitement, ‘and they’re drooling.’
‘Drooling?’ She turned to Santa. ‘Have the Beserkers eaten?’
‘Not a thing. They insisted on it.’
‘They would,’ said Fiona, ‘it gives them an appetite for blood.’
‘Or,’ shouted Alice above the din, ‘for food. That’s not “Ka-la-ma-ee” they’re chanting. It’s “Calamari”! Oh my God! The Kraken!’
Alice charged out of the bridge and launched herself down the stairs, closely flowed by Ms Pinky and Neil, still in werewolf form. Fiona turned to the Captain.
‘If you value your life, you will keep this ship steady. Understand?’
Fiona ran after the others, yelling out to a passing Fury.
‘No, I’m Shelly.’
‘Doesn’t matter. Get in there and keep an eye on the Captain.’
Meanwhile, Cecil had flown to the bow and rounded up the Zombies. He was now ushering them down to the hold, assisted by Mildred, her squad of monsters, and Njord.
‘Faster!’ he cried, ‘move faster. We must save the Kraken!’
In its tank, the giant squid was showing signs of nervousness, sensing the arrival of an army of starving warriors.
‘Look at him, poor thing,’ cried Alice, ‘he’s inking all over the place.’
Ms Pinky jumped about from paw to paw.
‘They’re coming!’ she cried, ‘what shall we do?’
Neil growled as the chanting army marched down the last flight of stairs.
Just as the Beserkers began entering the hold, Fiona burst through the opposite door, followed by the zombies, monsters and Njord; the harpies and Cecil flew in overhead.
‘Form a circle,’ screamed Fiona, ‘harpies, give us air cover.’
The Beserkers, with the taste of squid on their tongues, now made a rush towards the tank, clashing violently with the monsters. Neil leapt into their midst, biting and clawing his way through whilst Njord wielded his staff, repelling one Beserker after another.
‘Be gone, crazed things,’ he cried.
Fiona spotted Cecil hovering nervously overhead.
‘Cecil! Grab the Kraken!’
The Griffin looked into the tank and shook his beak.
‘I can’t’, he said, ‘he’s too big.’
‘You can Cecil! You can do it!’
‘Please Cecil!’ screamed Alice, taking cover behind a zombie, ‘they’ll eat him!’
Cecil took a deep breath and plunged into the inky water; he emerged seconds later with the Kraken clasped between his lion’s claws.
‘Good work, Cecil,’ shouted Fiona, ‘now, follow us!’
The besieged staff of The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange began making their way slowly towards the side of the hold, using the zombies as a shield from the Beserkers. The Kraken’s long tentacles dragged on the floor and a couple of the Beserkers swiped at them with their knives, hacking off large chunks of squid flesh.
‘How does it open?’ cried Fiona, looking for a handle for the cargo door.
‘I don’t know,’ said Alice desperately, ‘but we haven’t got long.’
Ms Pinky, ducking as a zombie’s head was thrown at her by one of the Beserkers, looked around and made a decision.
‘Stand back! I’m going through!’
She took a breath then launched herself against the wall of Beserkers closest to the side of the ship. Shields, knives and helmets flew in all directions as Ms Pinky gained momentum before crashing through the ship’s iron hull.
Cold air rushed in sending the Beserkers into an even more demented frenzy. Four of them had grabbed hold of the Kraken and were trying to pull him down.
‘I can’t hold on much longer,’ cried Cecil.
Fiona and Alice clutched each other as the circle closed in on them. Neil had disappeared from view; they could hear the odd growl as he tried valiantly to confuse the Beserkers; two of the harpies were wailing in a corner where the third was lying injured.
‘Great time for Ms Pinky to go AWOL!’ said Alice.
‘She wouldn’t abandon us now,’ said Fiona, ‘we’ve been through too much.’
Then, without warning, a hatch in the side of the ship began to crank open: hovering in the air, alongside the ship and astride the unicorn, were a very excited Bertie and a dripping Ms Pinky.
‘Ahoy there!’ shouted Bertie, ‘I heard you were in a spot of bother.’
© flyingscribbler 2011