The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter Twenty-Two. Part 2. A comedy/fantasy web serial.

Well, this is it! After many long weeks we have arrived at the concluding chapter of my web serial. I hope you have all enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I have learned a lot about the process of writing a weekly serial; in particular I have had to be careful to keep the different threads of the story running along together and I hope I have succeeded in that. Another concern has been with continuity; there are undoubtedly some glaring errors, but as this was my first attempt at anything of this nature, I hope that you will forgive me.

My main aim has been to entertain and judging by many of the comments that you have been leaving, I think I managed to do just that.

I don’t know what happens next. There are definitely more stories to be told of the goings-on at The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. I’m not sure where to tell them. Is there a full-length book there? What do you think?

Whatever happens next, thank you for sticking with it and for all the encouragement I have had over the last few months.

And so, for one last time, settle back and enjoy the ride!

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange

Chapter Twenty-Two. Part 2.

(In which this story ends)

Amidst the chaos of the deranged Berserkers, screeching Harpies and demented zombies, Fiona stared out of the side of ship at Bertie and Ms Pinky on the unicorn.

‘Don’t tell me that pony can really fly!’ shouted Fiona above the noise.

‘He can,’ said Bertie, ‘and look, he’s grown wings!’

‘Who the hell is that?’ said Alice, deflecting a spear thrown by a Berserker.

‘That’s Bertie, Neil’s new boyfriend.’

‘Oh, how lovely,’ said Alice, kneeing another Berserker in the groin, ‘nice to meet you Bertie; I’m Alice.’

‘Shall we leave the introductions till later,’ said Ms Pinky, ‘or would you rather stay to be butchered by this lot?’

‘Quite right, Ms Pinky,’ said Njord, hoisting himself to his feet having wrestled a Berserker to the ground and pinning it to the floor with his staff.

‘Yes,’ said Fiona, ‘perhaps we’d better leave.’

‘Right’o,’ said Bertie, ‘come on lads, bring her down nice and slow.’

The reindeer descended with the caravan and pulled in alongside the ship.

‘Women and children first please,’ said Bertie, ‘form an orderly line.’

Fiona, Alice and Njord along with the zombies and monsters inched their way to the hatch, kicking, pushing and screaming at the Berserkers.  Reaching the edge, the zombies formed a wall of defence, allowing the others to jump into the caravan. Bertie then ordered the reindeer to pull away.

‘What about the zombies?’ cried Alice, ‘we can’t leave them here.’

‘They’ll be fine,’ said Fiona, ‘they’re a resilient bunch and as soon as we get the Kraken out, the Berserkers should calm down.’

‘Where’s Neil?’ shouted Bertie, ‘I thought he was with you.’

‘Neil!’ cried Ms Pinky, ‘time to leave!’

Neil appeared at the doorway with a Berserker between his teeth, dropped him into the water and leapt aboard the caravan.

‘My,’ said Bertie, ‘what big teeth he has.’

Fiona grabbed hold of the door frame and leant out as far as she dared.

‘Come on Cecil, the coast is clear!’

‘I can’t hold him any longer,’ cried the griffin as the huge squid began to slip out of his claws.

‘That’s ok; let him go. The mermaids will look after him.’

Cecil released the Kraken from his grasp and it fell towards the sea, where the waves enveloped it with white surf.

‘Safe at last,’ said Alice, ‘I grew rather fond of it, you know.’

Njord gave Alice a hug.

‘And we, my dear, grew fond of you.’

Finally, the Harpies flew from the ship, wailing as they carried their injured sister to the caravan.

‘Keep her safe! Help her live!’

Njord helped the injured creature inside and lay her down.

‘If I’m not mistaken,’ whispered the sea god, ‘a unicorn’s tear drop should revive her.’

Fiona smiled.

‘Will a half unicorn, half Pegasus’s tear do the trick?’

Njord shrugged his shoulders.

‘I don’t see why not.’

Fiona peered out of the caravan; the unicorn was hovering just above.

‘Ms Pinky, do you think you can make that unicorn cry?’

The monster gleamed.

‘With pleasure!’

‘Thank you Ms Pinky. Now we’d better check on Santa; Bertie, could you swing this caravan round to the Bridge please?’

  Moments later Fiona found Santa on his mobile talking to the Norwegian Defence Minister.

‘It’s all sorted, my dear,’ he said, ‘the Navy is on its way to take us back to Norwegian waters, and,’ he continued, turning to the Captain, ‘to deal with this lot.’

‘Excellent,’ said Fiona, ‘in the meantime, I suggest we keep the Beserkers locked up in the hold; they’ll calm down as soon as they’ve eaten.  I’ll leave you the zombies, furies and monsters to keep an eye on the crew.’

‘What about us?’

‘Who said that?’ said Santa.

‘Barry! There you are,’ said Fiona, smiling blindly at the poltergeist, ‘would you mind staying on board? I’m sure Santa would appreciate it.’

Santa smiled gratefully.

‘Thank you. What will you do now?’

‘I have a very brave secretary to get back to London,’ said Fiona.

‘In which case,’ said Santa shaking her hand, ‘I bid you farewell until Christmas Eve; and no peeking this year.’

‘Sorry?’

‘Pretending to be asleep? It’s the oldest trick in the book.’

Fiona blushed.

‘I’ll try not to Santa. Bye.’

Back at the caravan, Fiona found Cecil resting on the roof.

‘Would you mind giving me a lift back to London?’ he said, ‘I’m most awfully tired.’

‘Of course not, Cecil; you’ve been amazing. You’ve all been amazing.’ Fiona beamed at her employees. ‘Thank you everyone. What a team!’

When the caravan arrived back at the exchange a few hours later, the sun had risen. Neil, human once more, was sleeping off the effects of his night spent as a werewolf, whilst Bertie busied himself with the reindeer and unicorn.

Fiona, Ms Pinky and Alice climbed out of the caravan.

‘It’s good to be back,’ said Alice, yawning, ‘I can’t wait to get back to work.’

‘That,’ said Ms Pinky, ‘might be a problem.’ She pointed to the door; it was boarded up with a notice pinned to it.

‘What now?’ said Fiona. She scanned the notice and scrunched it up in her fist.

‘That bastard!’

‘Who?’ said Alice.

‘The Green Man of course; he must be the spy from the Department for Efficiencies and Downsizing. No wonder he wanted to stay behind. We’ve been shut down pending an official investigation into our “use of unregistered mythical creatures and employment of dangerously psychotic monsters.”’

‘How dare he!’ cried Ms Pinky, ‘and after he brought me Malibu Barbie’s Hawaiian hot tub.’ The monster began sobbing on to Fiona’s shoulder. ‘I liked working here; it was the first time I felt like I really belonged.’

‘Don’t worry Ms Pinky,’ said Alice, stroking the monster’s pink fur, ‘we won’t be taking this lying down; will we, Fiona.’

‘Not a chance,’ said Fiona, ‘The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange is not closing its doors today or any other day! If it’s a fight they want, they picked the wrong team!’

© flyingscribbler 2011

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter Twenty-Two. Part 1. A comedy/fantasy web serial.

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

Chapter Twenty-Two

Part 1

(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’

Santa hesitated.

‘Those are the Besrkers’ orders, although….’

‘Yes?’

‘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.

Ka-la-ma-ee, ka-la-ma-ee.’

Heavy footsteps accompanied the war cry as it became more insistent.

Ka-la-ma-ee, ka-la-ma-ee.

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.’

Fiona gasped.

‘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?’

‘I suppose.’

Fiona ran after the others, yelling out to a passing Fury.

‘Sheeba!’

‘No, I’m Shelly.’

‘Doesn’t matter. Get in there and keep an eye on the Captain.’

‘With pleasssssure!’

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.

Ka-la-ma-ee. Ka-la-ma-ee.’

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

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter Twenty-One. A comedy/fantasy web serial.

Welcome back to my comedy/fantasy web serial. Last week, we left Alice in a rather sticky situation at the mercy of the evil werewolf Amadeus. Will it turn out to be a Good Friday for her? Read on to find out how she and the rest of “Operation Tooth and Claw” get on as they try to rescue the Kraken from a fate worse than calamari.

If you are new to the series, click here to be transported back to the very start.

Comments, as always, gratefully received.

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange

Chapter Twenty-One

(In which Alice plays a silent movie heroine)

Alice gripped the flag pole she was tied to and took a deep breath. The werewolf’s howl still hung in the air as he turned to face her: a gruesome silhouette against the full moon. Saliva dripped from his glistening canines and, raising his head to sniff the air, his dark eyes flashed briefly.

Sweat trickled down Alice’s back.

‘If you think I’m going to scream like Fay Wray, you’ve got the wrong girl.’

Amadeus paced slowly round his victim before rising up violently on his rear paws. He growled menacingly before letting out another blood—curdling howl.

‘Christ!’ screamed Alice, ‘where’s my rescuers! Help!’

Suddenly, she became aware of another howling coming from the deck above; Amadeus had heard it too and he turned away from Alice, muzzle to the air.

What happened next passed in a terrifying blur; whatever they had heard overhead had sprung down and grabbed Amadeus in its jaw, wrestling him to the deck. The two animals writhed and snarled, biting and clawing each other. Alice was confused- surely there weren’t two of them on board.

 Briefly, as both animals paused to breathe, Alice’s eyes caught the second werewolf’s gaze.

‘Neil?’

He didn’t answer; Amadeus had bitten into his back and they rolled towards the railing in a bloody mass of claws and fur. Flesh ripped and claws scraped then, with a sickening yelp, one of the werewolves had forced the other up the railing and pushed him over the top.

 Everything on deck went quiet whilst far below the mermaids shrieked with delight.

The animal remaining on deck approached Alice and bowed its head.

‘Thank you, Neil. I promise I’ll never make those jokes about you having P.M.S ever again.’

Neil nodded his immense head and curled up at Alice’s feet.

‘Now, if I could just get these ropes undone.’ Alice wriggled her wrists; she didn’t notice Cecil landing beside her.

‘Good evening madam. May I assist with those?’

‘Goodness,’ said Alice, ‘a griffin. How exciting.’

‘My name is Cecil; I’m here with “Operation Tooth and Claw”.’

‘Well, Cecil, it’s very nice to meet you. I’m Alice.’

‘Indeed you are,’ said the griffin as he set about the ropes with his beak.

Just then the unmistakable roar of a helicopter’s rotating blades reached them from the helipad.

‘That little shit!’ said Alice through clenched teeth, ‘he’s getting away.’

‘Who, dear?’

‘The bastard who’s behind all this mess.’

Cecil peered up at the helicopter as it lifted away from the ship. He splayed his lion’s claws and admired them for a second.

‘They’ll do,’ he said, ‘please excuse me.’ Cecil flapped his wings and flew away in pursuit of the helicopter.

Alice rubbed her wrists, wondering where everyone else could be.

Everyone else was, at that moment, extremely busy and none more so than Fiona and Mildred.

They had gained entry to the bridge easily enough, the guards who had been patrolling outside having been lured overboard by the mermaids’ lament. Once inside, they were confronted by at least ten more guarding the ship’s captain.

‘We demand that you turn this ship around immediately,’ said Fiona firmly.

‘Who the hell are you?’ said the captain.

‘That’s not important. Suffice to say that the rest of your ship’s personnel are under our control; you really don’t have a choice.’

‘My orders are to get this vessel to its destination; at all costs. Guards, take these pathetic women outside and shoot them.’

Fiona raised an eyebrow.

‘Pathetic, eh? Mildred, do your thing.’

Mildred smiled sweetly.

‘I’d be delighted.’

She threw back her head, opened her mouth and proceeded to swallow herself backwards. The guards watched with growing horror as the round ball of gooey flesh sprouted long spikes and began rolling around the bridge. They scattered in all directions as Mildred speared the nearest two.

‘Good work, Mildred!’ shouted Fiona as the monster rolled out onto the deck.

Fiona turned to face the Captain.

 ‘As I was saying, stop this ship.’

 ‘Impossible.’

 Ms Pinky, who had entered unnoticed during the commotion, now tiptoed up to the Captain’s ear.

‘I’ll wager my three sets of teeth that you can,’ she whispered.

The captain looked sideways over his shoulder; Ms Pinky smiled coyly and fluttered her purple eyelids. She reached out for the ship’s controls.

‘What do you say, full stop or full steam ahead?’

‘I…er…full…er…full stop?’

‘That’s the right answer,’ said Fiona, ‘thank you Ms Pinky; another timely intervention.’

‘My pleasure, Fiona, and I’m happy to report that the Kraken is safe and well and the rest of the ship’s crew is either at the pointy end with the zombies and Furies or in the water with the mermaids.’

‘Any sign of Alice?’

Ms Pinky nodded and pointed to the door behind Fiona.

‘Here I am!’

Alice stood with her hand resting on Neil’s head, a beaming smile on her face.

‘Alice, you’re safe!’

Fiona rushed over and hugged her secretary. She looked down at Neil.

‘Thank you, Neil. You did it!’

Neil growled quietly and lay down. There was then a soft knock on the door; Cecil poked his beak round.

‘Excuse me; I hope I’m not interrupting.’

‘Cecil,’ cried Fiona, ‘you’re soaking!’

‘Yes, I’m afraid I took a dip with the helicopter; but I’m quite well.’ The griffin turned to address Alice.  ‘I have placed the pilot and your kidnapper in the care of the Furies. They won’t be escaping again.’

Alice shook her head.

‘This is quite some operation; was all this for me?’

‘You and the Kraken,’ said Fiona, ‘and Njord and Lisbeth too of course.’

‘And are they…?’

‘Both safe and well,’ said Ms Pinky.

At that moment, the Harpies landed outside, screeching and wailing.

‘He is here! The bearded one is here!’

‘Oh God, now what?’ said Fiona, heading for the door; her exit was blocked by a rotund figure dressed in red.

‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’

‘Santa!’ cried Fiona.

‘You again!’ snarled Ms Pinky.

‘Now then,’ said Santa, ‘which little girl asked for a marauding army of Beserkers?’

© flyingscribbler 2011

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter Twenty. A comedy/fantasy web serial. #fridayflash #tuesdayserial

Welcome, dear readers, to chapter twenty of  ‘The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange’. This week, the story switches up a gear as our intrepid (some would say foolish) team of myths, monsters and marvels attempt to stage their daring rescue of Alice, the Kraken, Njord the norse sea-god, and Lisbeth, the almost desiccated havfrue.

If you are new to the fun, it’s never too late to join in; you might prefer to head back to chapter one, although whether this makes things any clearer I’ll leave up to you! A full chapter listing is to be found here.

Thank you for your comments over the weeks; they are very welcome and give me vital encouragement!

You might also want to check out the fabulous #fridayflash community of flash fiction and the wonderful #tuesdayserial community of web series writing. I did, and this was the result!

Let battle commence…….

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange

Chapter Twenty

(In which our heroes attempt a rescue)

Just before six o’clock the various components of ‘Operation Tooth and Claw’ were in position having received a final briefing from Fiona.

Beneath the waves, Jenny Greenteeth and her international team of sirens, mermaids and water nymphs, waited for the signal to begin their aquatic-based offensive.

High above, Cecil the griffin patrolled the sky whilst the Harpies hovered over the ship’s bow. The reindeer, who had pulled the Operation’s caravan across the Atlantic, were treading air.  The caravan’s occupants, an assorted bunch of zombies, monsters, Furies and poltergeists, had changed into night-time camouflage, ready to board the ship and affect their daring rescue of Alice, her fellow prisoners and the Kraken.

‘Er, Barry,’ said Neil to the poltergeist, ‘why are you wearing the camouflage? You’re already invisible.’

‘Oh,’ said Barry, looking at his arms for the first time since his untimely death in 1837, ‘so I am.’

‘It detracts rather from your unique element of surprise, don’t you think?’

Everyone felt tense; Ms Pinky felt a little queasy, but this was mainly due to the tight body stocking she had forced herself into. Her pink fur had sprouted through small rips along the seams and she was desperately trying to stuff it back inside.

Outside, on her reindeer, Fiona checked her watch.

‘That’s it, six o’clock. Bertie, take us down!’

‘Roger,’ said Bertie, steering the animals towards the ship.

At precisely the same moment, Jenny signalled to her team to surface. Unseen from the ship’s decks, hundreds of heads appeared in the water; long hair trailed like seaweed from each one and a watery chorus rose up from the waves.

Instantly, the guards who had been patrolling outside became mesmerized by the mermaids’ call. One-by-one they climbed over the railings and jumped into the waiting arms of the siren’s below. A particularly beefy guard landed just in front of Jenny. Her slimy green teeth glistened in the moonlight.

‘’Ello sailor,’ she winked.

The poltergeists were the first to leave the caravan when it had landed, passing through the door before Neil had a chance to open it; within seconds they were on every deck, flushing out as many terrified and confused guards as they could find. They were quickly joined by the zombies who staggered around the ship creating as much mayhem as possible.

The Furies, assisted by some of the monsters, waited outside, and began herding the ship’s crew towards the bow using a pincer movement of hissing, screaming, teeth gnashing and tongue flicking. The Harpies, armed with lengths of strong rope, flew at speed around the petrified crew.

‘Seize them! Hold them! Tie them fast!’ they wailed.

Within minutes, most of the ship’s crew had either thrown themselves overboard, or were otherwise restrained on the forward deck.

The mayhem had not gone unnoticed by Njord and Lisbeth, chained together in their cabin.

‘My sisters,’ croaked the havfrue weakly, ‘I hear my sisters; we’re saved.’

‘By Thor’s mighty thunder, I believe you’re right,’ cried Njord, ‘now, if only we could loosen these infernal chains.’

‘Do you need a hand with those?’

Njord looked around the cabin.

‘Who said that?’

‘I did. Barry Dodsworth, poltergeist, at your service. I take it you are the sea-god by the name of Njord, and this must be the lovely Lisbeth?’

‘In…indeed we are,’ stammered Njord, ‘might I take it that rescue is at hand?’

‘You might,’ said Barry, ‘although I’ll be needing a hand with these chains; I can’t seem to get a grip on them. Won’t be a second.’

 Thirty seconds later Ms Pinky, who had already burst out of her camouflage body stocking, crashed through the door, taking it off its hinges. She stood panting in front of Njord, her pink fur fluffed up and eyes burning orange.

‘You must be Ms Pinky!’ said Njord, as the monster bit through his chains.

‘However did you know that?’

‘Alice told us all about you.’

Ms Pinky looked around the cabin.

‘Where is she?’

Njord held his head in his hands.

‘Alas, dear Lady, I fear it is too late to save her; the werewolf came for her not ten minutes ago. He was still in human form, but is that not the moon I see appearing from behind the clouds?’

Ms Pinky peered out of the port hole.

‘Oh dear,’ she said, ‘I hope Neil gets to her in time.’

Njord joined her at the port hole.

‘I hate to be a further nuisance, but could you assist in returning this poor creature to her sisters?’

Ms Pinky rushed to the Lisbeth, tore off her chains and picked her up. She carried her outside and held her over the railings.

‘Will you be alright?’ asked Ms Pinky.

‘I think so,’ whispered the mermaid, ‘sink or swim, as they say. Thank you!’

Ms Pinky let go and watched as the Lisbeth splashed into the water. She floated for a few seconds before being dragged beneath the waves by a myriad of mermaid’s arms.

Turning away from the water, Ms Pinky was almost knocked off her paws by Fiona and Mildred who were rushing towards the bridge.

‘Good work, Ms Pinky!’ shouted Fiona, ‘keep it up!’

‘My boss,’ explained Ms Pinky to Njord, ‘she’s such an inspiration. Now, let’s find the Kraken.’

Meanwhile, at the ship’s stern, Amadeus had been tying Alice to a flag pole.

‘This,’ he drooled, ‘is going to be a night to remember.’

‘You’re a vile dog,’ cried Alice.

‘Wolf,’ said Amadeus, ‘vile wolf; please don’t insult me.’

He paused for a moment, hearing the mermaids’ lament as it caught on the breeze. Amadeus, immune to its charm by virtue of his lupine blood, leant over the back of the ship; his guards appeared to be throwing themselves overboard.

‘Mermaids!’ he cursed, ‘what in Hell’s name are they doing here?’

‘Sounds like you’re in trouble!’ shouted Alice.

Before Amadeus could answer, he was distracted by a bright reflection in the water. His gaze followed the moon beam into the sky and, throwing back his head, he opened his mouth and released a blood-curdling howl.

‘Oh shit!’ said Alice, ‘they’re too late.’

© flyingscribbler

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter Seventeen. A comedy/fantasy web serial.

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……..

By the way, if you are joining us for the first time, welcome and thank you. You might prefer to head back to the start of the whole thing. You can do this by clicking here.

Hello also to anyone arriving via the excellent twitter hashtag communities, #fridayflash and #tuesdayserial. Both these sites list wonderful flash fiction and serials and are well worth visiting. After you have read my story first, of course.

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange

Chapter Seventeen

(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?’

‘A helicopter.’

‘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.

Njord sighed.

‘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

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter Sixteen. A comedy/fantasy web serial.

Welcome to the next instalment of my web serial set at The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. If you are joining us for the first time, and would like to start from the very beginning, you will be transported to chapter one by clicking here. A full chapter listing is available here.

I have been very busy working this week, flying across the Atlantic four times in five days. This resulted in  forgetting to list on #tuesdayserial, so apologies to anyone who usually arrives here from there. Double listing next week.

I must also say a HUGE thank you to the lovely Icy Sedgewick who was the sole participant in my web vote to choose a character to appear in the series. In a bizarre telepathic-like moment, I appear to have known exactly what Icy had suggested: her vote somehow ended up in my spam comments folder, which I only checked AFTER writing a Griffin into the serial. This was Icy’s precise myth of choice anyway. The griffin has already made his first appearance and I am very pleased that Icy gets to see him in the end. If you are not familiar with the wondrous wordmongering of Icy, do take a peek at Icy’s Blunt Pencil blog.

Enough of the chat. On with the show! (As always, comments are very welcome).

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange

Chapter Sixteen

(In which Ms Pinky shows the extent of her diversity training)

 

Neil’s revelation to Ms Pinky that he was a werewolf rendered the monster entirely speechless; conversely, it sent the assembled participants of “Operation Tooth and Claw”, who had been witness to Neil’s forced confession, into a chaotic and high-pitched panic.

The principle instigators of the pandemonium were the Harpies, who flew around the reception, whipping up a storm of frenzied terror.

‘He’ll devour us by moonlight!’ wailed one.

‘Beware the wolf-man!’ cried another

‘Death to the lycanthrope!’ screamed the third.

‘Well this is just great,’ shouted Fiona, ducking behind the desk to avoid a zombie’s arm which had been thrown across the room, ‘this is never going to work.’

‘Don’ worry yourself Miss Fiona,’ said The Green Man, who had placed a wicker waste bin on his head for protection, ‘we’ll get this ‘ere lot calmed down in a jiffy.’

Meanwhile, the Harpies had ceased circling the room and had fixed their wild eyes on Neil, who was nervously edging out of the room.

‘Kill him!’ they shrieked as they descended towards him.

Ms Pinky, who, having snapped out of her momentary state of shock, now launched her considerable pink bulk into the air, arms spread wide, legs akimbo, and hurled Neil to the ground.

‘I’ve got you covered,’ she panted as she took the full force of the Harpies, whose sharp talons were deflected by her Kevlar flak jacket, ‘now, let’s get you out of here.’

The monster crawled on her elbows and knees, commando-style, towards the corridor, dragging her charge with her. Once there, she kicked the door shut and sat behind it.

‘Thank you,’ gasped Neil, rubbing his neck.

‘I didn’t hurt you, did I?’ asked Ms Pinky.

‘Saved me, more like,’ said Neil.

They sat in silence for a moment to catch their breaths, listening as the commotion next door gradually subsided.

‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ asked Ms Pinky.

‘I was worried what you’d think of me. I didn’t want you to treat me differently.’

‘Like a monster, you mean?’

Neil looked at Ms Pinky.

‘I didn’t say that.’

‘We’re all unique in some way or another,’ said Ms Pinky, ‘it’s what makes us interesting.’

Neil nodded.

‘I still should have told you.’

‘How did it happen? If you don’t mind my asking.’

‘Nothing “happened” as such; my father was a true werewolf and I inherited some of his lupine genes.’

‘Meaning?’

‘Meaning, physically, I turn into a werewolf every full moon; but up here,’ he said, tapping his head, ‘I’m still Neil. Mostly.’

‘What do you mean, “mostly”?’

‘Nine times out of ten I’m able to reason and I don’t attack; once in a while though the true werewolf in my blood emerges. Hence the containment room down there,’ he said, pointing to the locked room next to the fire exit.

‘So that’s what that is!’ exclaimed Ms Pinky, ‘I thought you were keeping the stationary locked up so that I wouldn’t eat it.’

‘Not at all,’ laughed Neil, ‘it’s for my protection.’

Ms Pinky shook her head in wonder.

‘So you’re a werewolf AND gay,’ she said ‘that ticks a few diversity boxes!’

‘You know about that as well?’

‘Oh please!’ exclaimed Ms Pinky, ‘there are gay monsters too you know. And anyway, it’s blindingly obvious.’

‘Sorry?’

‘Neil,’ said Ms Pinky, hoisting herself to her feet, ‘I might not be able to see your werewolf blood, but I can spot a love-struck gay a mile off. He’s very sweet, by the way, Bertie; you look after him.’

Neil gave Ms Pinky a hug.

‘Shall we see if the coast is clear?’

They crept back into reception just as Fiona was explaining the role the Beserkers would be taking in the operation.

‘So,’ she said, ‘they will take over once we have located Alice and the other hostages. Please be aware that Beserkers are highly volatile and will not discriminate between you and the kidnappers. Does everyone understand? Good, so if there are no more questions, we will reconvene in the car park just before noon tomorrow; in the meantime, Ms Pinky has kindly agreed to host a combat readiness and restraint technique master class for those of you who feel that it might be of benefit.’ Fiona scanned the room briefly. ‘I suggest that you ALL take advantage of her kind offer; we must be as prepared as possible for the many obstacles which will almost certainly hamper our efforts tomorrow night.’

As soon as the last of the zombies had shuffled out into the car park, Fiona turned to her employees who had now been joined by Bertie, back from grooming the reindeer.

‘I hope,’ she said, seriously, ‘that the near disaster we experienced earlier demonstrates the need for absolute honesty?’

‘I’m sorry, Fiona,’ said Neil, ‘it won’t happen again.’

‘Good. Now, Bertie, how are the reindeer?’

‘Ok,’ said Bertie, ‘although I’m afraid I’ve had to quarantine two of them with suspected hoof rot.’

Fiona took a deep breath.

‘Fabulous,’ she said, ‘anything else you’d like to tell me?’

‘There was just one other tiny thing,’ said Bertie, wincing.

‘Well?’

Bertie took a deep breath.

‘The Department for Efficiency and Downsizing have taken me off your case. They’ve appointed another officer to keep an eye on you, and I believe they are operating under cover.’

Fiona stared at Bertie, eyes glaring.

‘Well that’s just flipping marvellous,’ she said, ‘so now we have a government spy in our midst too.’ She looked around the room. ‘Anyone else have something they’d like to get off their chest?’

Nobody moved a muscle for a moment and then, very slowly, Ms Pinky raised a quivering paw into the air.

‘What is it, Ms Pinky?’ said Fiona.

‘I forgot to mention earlier that I get terribly sea sick. I’m prone to the most voluminous vomiting I’m afraid.’

Fiona closed her eyes in supplication.

‘Lord, give me strength,’ she said, ‘this is going to be one hell of a night.’

 

© flyingscribbler 2011

 

 

 

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter Thirteen and a Half. A comedy/fantasy web serial.

Welcome to the next instalment of my continuing comedy/fantasy web serial set at The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. If you are new to the saga, you can start at the very begining by clicking here. A full chapter listing is available here. You can also vote for a mythical creature of your choosing to appear in a forthcoming episode: click here for details.

Meanwhile, on with the fun!

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange

Chapter Thirteen and a Half

(In which Alice finds herself out of a job)

 

Alice slumped on the top step next to the Kraken’s tank and yawned. Despite having slept for hours the night before she was exhausted, plus she ached all over as if she’d just finished a long session at the gym. She closed her eyes for a moment and immediately drifted off.

‘Wake up! Get back to work!’

Alice opened her eyes as the guard prodded her in the back with his rifle.

‘Ouch! Watch what you’re doing with that thing,’ said Alice, getting to her feet.

‘You’re not paid to sleep on the job, Missy,’ snarled the guard, whose face was covered by a black balaclava.

‘Paid!’ exclaimed Alice, ‘don’t make me laugh. Imprisonment with hard labour would be more a more accurate description of my situation, wouldn’t you say?’

‘Whatever,’ replied the guard, ‘but if you haven’t got that two ton lump of calamari trained in time, the boss will not be happy. And when the boss isn’t happy,’ he continued, smiling, ‘bad things tend to happen to pretty little girlies like you.’

As he spoke, the guard’s eyes glinted and his pupils dilated. Whatever he is, thought Alice, it’s not all human. She shivered and zipped her Nautilus Entertainment boiler-suit up to her neck. As far as she knew, the ‘boss’ had never set foot on board; she wondered if they even knew about the prisoners being held with her on the ship. Weren’t operations like this run by hedge funds these days anyway?

Alice peered over the edge of the tank; the Kraken was floating on the surface, one dinner plate-sized eye looking forlornly at her. She’d grown very fond of him, and they had established a surprisingly good working relationship: the Kraken had grasped the idea very quickly that he was to pretend to co-operate and had now taken to performing tricks unprompted. In fact, Alice had very little ‘work’ to do, apart from worry about what was going to happen to them all.

‘Ah, Alice, nice to see that you have adopted the corporate uniform at last.’

Alice turned as Bradley Smithson, NEWT’s personnel manager, made his way up the stairs.

‘I didn’t have much choice, did I? They’ve taken away my clothes. And didn’t anyone tell you that boiler suits went out of fashion in nineteen eighty-three?’

Bradley flashed his perfect smile and shrugged.

‘Well, you won’t need to worry about that for much longer.’

‘I don’t understand. I thought you were taking me to Nautilus World.’

‘No, you are mistaken. Nautilus Entertainment Worldwide Transcorporation has no further need of your services; we have found a willing, and, more importantly, very able cephalopod communicator.’ Bradley paused, flashed one last smile and continued. ‘Consider yourself terminated, Ms Finchley. Amadeus! Take her back to her cabin.’

‘You won’t get away with this you slimy little bastard.’

‘But we are getting away with it, Alice, and nothing you, or anyone else can do will stop us.’

The werewolf appeared from the shadows, dragged Alice down the stairs and threw her roughly over his shoulder. A few minutes later they were back at the cabin.

‘I’m so looking forward to Thursday night, aren’t you?’ growled Amadeus, as he unlocked the door and dropped Alice on her dirty mattress.

‘I won’t hold my breath,’ sneered Alice.

The werewolf chained Alice’s feet together and laughed.

‘Enjoy the rest of your cruise,’ he said, ‘while you can.’

The werewolf slammed the door shut and turned the key.

‘You are back rather early,’ said Njord, ‘they normally keep you working all day.’

Alice looked up at the friendly face of the Norse Sea God and forced a smile.

‘I’ve been replaced, Njord; they don’t need me anymore.’

‘Oh dear! That bodes ill for the three of us; I fear our days in this realm are numbered.’

Alice couldn’t argue with this but decided to stay as positive as she possibly could.

‘It’s not over till the fat lady sings,’ she said, brightly.

‘To which fat lady do you allude?’ said Njord, ‘have you met this over-sized songstress on board?’

Alice chuckled to herself; she liked this bearded old man and his colloquial confusions enormously.

‘It’s just an expression,’ she explained, ‘how’s Lisbeth today by the way? Has she eaten?’

‘Not a thing, although she took some water this morning. The poor havfrue, she had the most dreadful nightmares last night; you won’t have heard her wailing as you were lost in the deepest slumber yourself.’

Alice fell silent; something about what Njord had just said was ringing a very loud bell.

‘My dear, are you quite alright?’

Alice stared at her chains and tried desperately to remember what was nagging her.

‘Did you say Lisbeth was having nightmares?’

‘Yes, and of the most dreadful kind.’

‘I had a nightmare last night,’ said Alice, scratching her head, ‘at least, I think I did.’

‘How did your night terror manifest itself, my dear? We gods set great store by the messages our demons send us through our subconscious existence.’

‘Yes, well I’m not sure about that,’ said Alice, ‘but I’m pretty sure it was my usual recurring nightmare. Although…’

Njord looked intently at his fellow captor.

‘Yes? Think, my dear, it may be important.’

‘Well, it sounds silly, but I’m almost certain Ms Pinky gate-crashed my nightmare last night. Come to think of it, she was there the night before as well.’

Njord looked confused.

‘Ms Pinky?’ he said, ‘who is this strangely named character?’

‘Ms Pinky is the monster who was hired to replace me at the Exchange,’ explained Alice, becoming suddenly rather excited, ‘and before that she worked for the Sandman as a recurring nightmare!’

Alice closed her eyes and immediately recalled her nightmare in vivid detail, cringing at the memory of the polyester nightie being forced over her head.

‘I spoke to her, I’m sure of it. Yes, I remember telling her about you and Lisbeth and the Kraken. Oh, Njord,’ cried Alice, ‘they’re coming to rescue us, I’m sure of it.’

 

© flyingscribbler 2011

 

 

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter 11. A web serial. #fridayflash, #tuesdayserial

Welcome to my ongoing comedy/fantasy web serial. Somehow, we have already reached chapter eleven. If you have stuck with me from the beginning, thank you and well done. If you are new to the fun, you are very welcome. (For a complete chapter listing, click here). As always, please leave comments at the end. They are very helpful!

It seems like a good opportunity to offer a quick recap of events, so before the story continues…

The staff of the Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange, Fiona, Neil and Alice, are joined by Ms Pinky, former recurring nightmare turned secretary. She replaces Alice who, as the only available cephalopod communicator, is sent to Norway to find out what has happened to the Kraken. Having discovered that the giant squid has gone missing,  Alice is herself kidnapped by the werewolf, Amadeus, who has tracked her from London. She is being held captive on board a ship bound for Boston along with the Norse sea-god, Njord and a very sick mermaid by the name of Lisbeth. Also on board is the Kraken, who the Nautilus Entertainment Worldwide TransCorporation (NEWT) hope to train up, using Alice to interpret,  as the star attraction of their new aquatic theme park, ‘Nautilus World’.

Meanwhile, back at the Exchange, the remaining staff set about finding poor Alice. They eventually hit upon the idea of sending Ms Pinky into Alice’s nightmare in the hope of discovering her whereabouts. When we last saw them, Ms Pinky and Alice were having trouble in the lingerie section of an old-fashioned department store……it was all a very bad dream….

 

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange

Chapter Eleven

(In which Ms Pinky reappears in Alice’s recurring nightmare)

Amadeus opened the cabin door, threw Alice off his shoulder and pushed her inside.

‘Just the manners I’d expect from an unreconstructed werewolf like you,’ she said, rubbing her arm where it had scraped against the door frame.

‘Any more of your sassy cheek, girl,’ snarled Amadeus, chaining Alice to the wall, ‘and that simpering mermaid back there gets smoked. Now, shut it or there’s no dinner for any of you.’

The werewolf slammed the door and turned the key.

‘My dear Alice, you look quite exhausted. What have they been doing to you?’

Alice turned to the Norse Sea God and laughed.

‘Oh, Njord, you know, threats of violence, torture and drowning; typical stuff for your average big business, multi-national kidnappers of mythological sea creatures and employment exchange secretaries.’

‘Your constant good humour and optimism never fails to amaze me,’ said Njord, ‘it really has kept us all going through this ghastly and unjust sea-borne incarceration.’

Alice shrugged her shoulders.

‘I try my best,’ she said, ‘how’s Lisbeth today?’

Njord cast his eyes to the floor.

‘Not good. She’s very dehydrated and hungry. They gave us fish again for lunch. She just won’t touch it.’

‘Understandable,’ said Alice, reaching inside the oily sweater she’d been given to keep out the freezing Arctic air, ‘here, I managed to fill a bottle from the Kraken’s tank. It’s not much I’m afraid.’

‘Alice, you mustn’t put yourself in harm’s way like this,’ exclaimed Njord, taking the bottle, ‘but I know that poor Lisbeth will be grateful.’

He walked as far as his chain would allow towards the back of the cabin and called out to the huddled form of the mermaid lying on a filthy mattress.

‘Lisbeth! Alice has found you some water. I’m rolling the bottle across to you.’

The mermaid’s scaly tail appeared to flip momentarily and she mumbled a few words.

‘What did she say?’ asked Alice, ‘I don’t speak Norse Mermish.’

‘She thanks you for your kindness, as do I,’ said Njord, ‘we will never forget it.’

Alice sat down on her pillow and looked out of the port-hole into the inky darkness of the northern night.

‘I’m knackered. They’ve had me in the tank with the squid all day doing tricks. I wouldn’t mind but he stinks like…..well, pretty much like you’d expect.’

‘What kind of tricks?’ asked Njord.

‘He wraps me in a tentacle and drags me around the tank then throws me up onto the deck.’ Alice rubbed her thigh. ‘We need to work on the dismount a bit though.’

‘And you’re certain they’ve no idea he’s just pretending to co-operate?’

‘Oh, quite certain. That idiot from Nautilus Entertainment hasn’t got a clue. It’s Amadeus I’m worried about.’

At that moment the door unlocked and the werewolf stepped in, shoving a tray of raw fish across the floor.

‘Dinner!’ he growled.

‘We can’t eat this rubbish,’ said Alice, kicking the tray back.

‘Your choice,’ said Amadeus as he turned to leave, ‘oh, and Alice, I hope you haven’t forgotten our little dinner date on Thursday night? There should be a tasty bite to eat.’

‘What was all that about?’ said Njord, sniffing one of the fish heads.

‘Full moon on Thursday,’ said Alice, lying down, ‘I think I AM his dinner. Night night, Njord.’

As the cold night wore on and the boat continued to plough through the waves, Alice became aware of an unpleasant smell. It was old and fusty with the unmistakable aroma of elastic and cheap fabric. Shit, thought Alice, I’m having my nightmare again.

Alice just had time to throw herself under a rotary display of ‘flesh’ coloured nylon support knickers before thirty white-haired grannies came stampeding into the polyester hell of the lingerie department. Knarled old hands grabbed at her ankles and through gaps in the underwear she caught glimpses of tartan skirts, pastel green cardigans and pink fur.

Something wasn’t right. Alice had dreamt this nightmare regularly for years and there had never been pink fur in any of them. Giving in to the inevitable, she allowed herself to be dragged out to confront her attackers.

‘Alice, don’t wake up, stay asleep!’

Alice looked through the groping gaggle of tartan grannies and found herself staring into the orange glowing eyes of a pink furry monster.

‘Ms Pinky!’ shouted Alice, ‘I don’t understand. Is this still my nightmare?’

‘Yes,’ said Ms Pinky, knocking a dozen or so old ladies to the ground, ‘but listen, we haven’t got long.’

‘What are you wearing?’ asked Alice, noticing Ms Pinky’s attempt at ‘blending in’ with her nightmare. The monster, having failed to squeeze into her tartan skirt, had instead placed it over her ears like a head scarf; she had rolled each part of the pastel green twin set into a sausage and was wearing them as ankle warmers.

‘That doesn’t matter, Alice,’ insisted Ms Pinky, kicking two more of the nightie nightmares out of the way, ‘tell me where you are.’

‘In my nightmare, of course,’ said Alice.

‘No!’ screamed Ms Pinky, ‘where are you really? You’ve been kidnapped. Remember?’

‘No,’ said Alice, ‘what are you talking about? Why are you in my nightmare?’

Some of the old ladies had now managed to get between Ms Pinky and Alice, and were preparing to pull a lemon yellow polyester nightie over Alice’s head.

‘That’s not La Senza!’ she screamed.

‘Think, Alice!’ pleaded Ms Pinky, ‘you were looking for the Kraken and have been kidnapped by a werewolf. Where have they taken you?’

Alice thought for a moment. The Kraken? That rang a bell. Hadn’t she been swimming with him earlier on in the tank on board…….?

‘A ship!’ she cried, ‘I’m on a ship heading for Boston.’

‘Well done Alice,’ shouted Ms Pinky, ‘who else is there?’

‘Njord, the Kraken and a very sick mermaid.’

Alice disappeared beneath the shiny fabric of the nightie.

Ms Pinky could just make out her muffled voice above the din.

‘Help us Ms Pinky! We only have till Thursday. The werewolf wants to eat me at the next full moon!’

© flyingscribbler 2011

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter Nine. #fridayflash,#tuesdayserial

Welcome to the next instalment of my current fantasy/comedy web serial. Thank you for dropping by. If you fancy, please leave a comment; it really is useful to know what’s working and what’s not working. To catch up on previous chapters you will find a list by clicking here.

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange

Chapter Nine

(In which Ms Pinky gatecrashes a nightmare)

 

Ms Pinky peeled off her bright purple eyelashes, placed them in their box and looked at her Barbie alarm clock; it was only seven thirty, earlier than her usual bedtime, but tonight she was a monster on a mission.

Ms Pinky had left the Exchange just after lunch to give her time to prepare for the night ahead; entering someone’s recurring nightmare unannounced was a risky undertaking and there was no knowing what or who was already lurking within Alice’s night terrors, and more importantly if they would welcome a seven foot pink monster.

Ms Pinky yawned; she had deliberately limited her caffeine intake to three quadruple lattes, but just in case had taken a bottle of herbal sleeping pills recommended by Neil. She needed to stay asleep for as long a possible to increase her chances of entering Alice’s nightmare; they both needed to be asleep at the same time for this to work.

Ms Pinky climbed into her super king size divan, kissed the photo of Neil on her bedside table, and placed a quilted satin mask over her eyes.

Meanwhile, many hundreds of miles away in the icy seas just south of the Arctic Circle, Alice was also trying to settle down for the night. She adjusted the iron chain around her ankle and pulled the thin sheet up around her neck. Njord was snoring away on the other side of the cabin and Alice wished, not for the first time, that she had the sea god’s ability to sleep through the storms and freezing temperatures. On a mattress behind her, Lisbeth was quietly singing a melancholic lullaby to herself. Alice had managed to smuggle a bottle of water back from the Kraken’s tank to pour over the mermaid’s dry tail; she was suffering terribly and probably wouldn’t last much longer.

Alice yawned; maybe she would drop off after all. It had been a busy day with the Kraken and they had made excellent progress. So far she had succeeded in persuading the giant squid to perform a spectacular ink squirt which had covered Bradley from head to toe. Whilst the Nautilus Entertainment executive was out of earshot getting changed, Alice had convinced the Kraken to pretend to learn the tricks which the vile multinational had specified they wanted; she hoped that this would buy enough time to save her fellow prisoners and to give her friends at the Exchange enough time to mount a rescue attempt, which, she hoped, they would do very soon.

Alice closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on the mermaid’s singing; it wasn’t long before she found herself drifting off to sleep.

Ms Pinky sniffed the air: this was definitely Alice’s nightmare. Fiona had sent Ms Pinky home with one of Alice’s jumpers which was now wrapped around the pillow underneath the monster’s head. It wasn’t exactly illegal, but smelling your way into someone’s nightmare unannounced was generally frowned upon by most in the business; she would have to tread very carefully.

‘Alice, Alice Finchley?’ Ms Pinky spoke quietly; the nightmare hadn’t come into focus yet and she was hesitant to move in case she found herself on top of a cliff or in the middle of a busy motorway, both predictably dull but popular nightmare scenarios.

Ms Pinky waited as objects slowly came into view.

‘This is all very odd,’ she said, ‘not what I imagined at all.’

She was standing in what appeared to be the lingerie section of an old fashioned department store. Racks of over-sized brassieres and voluminous knickers competed with assorted woollen hosiery and floor length winceyette nightgowns.

The heat, she noted, was intense and increasing all the time, whilst some dreadful lift music was playing over the public address system.

Ms Pinky became aware of a commotion on the fringe of the nightmare, and as she was trying to make out the source of the noise, she was bowled over by a stampeding group of elderly women. For a moment, Ms Pinky thought she had gone blind, but realised that she had become caught up in a pile of double G cup bras; she unhooked one of them from around her ears and looked up. Some of the women had stopped and were starring down at her; they were dressed identically in tartan skirts, twin sets and very stout shoes. Their tightly permed grey hair finished off the effect.

‘Who might we ask are you?’ they said in unison, ‘there are no monsters in this nightmare.’

‘I am Ms Pinky,’ said Ms Pinky climbing to her feet, ‘and I do apologise for intruding whilst you are working.’

‘What are you doing here?’ said one of them, ‘this is most irregular.’

‘I need to speak to Alice, she is in terrible danger.’

The old women looked at each other in horror.

‘Alice!’ they shouted, ‘quick, find Alice!’

They hurried off around the racks of underwear with Ms Pinky trying her best to keep up. As they turned the corner, Alice could be heard screaming from underneath a particularly unpleasant nightdress which some of the tartan clad women were forcing over her head whilst the others held her down.

‘Get this polyester off me now!’ she yelled, ‘I only wear designer!’

Ms Pinky tried to break through the ranks of grey haired tormentors, but gave up and shouted over the noise instead.

‘Alice, it’s me, Ms Pinky! Can you hear me?’

Alice’s head finally forced its way through the tight neck hole of the garment.

‘Alice! Wake up!’

‘What?’

‘Alice, look at me, it’s Ms Pinky.’

‘Wake up!’

‘Huh?’

‘Alice!’

The lingerie and old ladies disappeared and Ms Pinky woke up.

‘Damn! I was so close,’ she said, groping for the light switch.

Over the ocean, in the freezing cabin, Alice opened her eyes.

‘So sorry Alice,’ said Njord, hovering over her, ‘but I think Lisbeth needs our help. Are you quite alright?’

Alice rubbed her eyes.

‘I’m fine. I was just having a bad dream.’

 

© flyingscribbler 2011

 

 

 

 

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Chapter Eight.

Welcome to my ongoing web serial which I am currently posting as part of #fridayflash and #tuesdayserial. These are both excellent flash fiction communities located here in blog world and over on twitter. If you are new to the series and would like to see where it all began, there is a chapter list here. Hope you enjoy reading, and please leave comments with your feedback. They have been known to make it into the story!

 

The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange

 

Chapter Eight

 

(In which Ms Pinky finds green is not her colour)

 

 

Ms Pinky flicked a small feather duster over her artfully arranged collection of vintage Malibu Barbies and purred with pride; this was the first time she had been left in charge of the employment exchange and she wanted to make a good job of it.

Fiona was at the Norwegian Embassy trying to track down Alice who had now been out of contact for over a week, whilst Neil was out finding stabling for the exchange’s newly acquired, unemployed reindeer. Fiona’s hastily written instructions concerning that morning’s clients had been gobbled up unread by Ms Pinky along with her extra-large blueberry breakfast muffin, so the monster was somewhat unprepared for the dishevelled looking gentleman who now shuffled into the office.

‘Welcome to the Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange, my name is Ms Pinky and it will be my pleasure to assist you this morning.’ Ms Pinky wrinkled her three nostrils together in displeasure as she watched the old man shake leaves and bits of bark from his shabby jacket. ‘Long journey, was it?’

‘Not really,’ said the gentleman, ‘I’ve been staying at the YMCA, only until I can find a job of course.’

‘Naturally,’ said Ms Pinky plucking a twig from the front seat of Barbie’s Corvette, ‘please take a seat and fill this form in.’

Ms Pinky tutted as he made a start.

‘No, no, no, you’ll have to do better than that.’

‘Sorry?’

Ms Pinky read out from his application form.

‘Name: “Green Man”, I mean, that’s like me putting down “Pink Monster” isn’t it? Imagine!’

‘But that’s my name,’ protested the gentleman, ‘I am a Green Man.’

‘I’m sorry,’ said Ms Pinky, stepping from behind her desk, ‘could you leave please, we don’t tolerate time wasters here. Goodbye.’

The Green Man walked slowly to the door, moving to the side as Fiona rushed down into the Exchange.

‘How are things?’ she panted.

‘Well, I wasn’t expecting the clients to be quite so difficult,’ said Ms Pinky, ‘but otherwise, everything’s fine. Neil is out with the reindeer; that poor boy, I’m sure he’s overworked.’

‘He’ll cope,’ said Fiona, looking nervously up the stairs as the Green Man vanished from view. ‘Anyway, we’ve a bigger problem to deal with.’

‘Alice?’

‘Yes. The Embassy thinks she may have been kidnapped; her belongings are still at the hotel and no-one’s seen her.’

‘Goodness,’ exclaimed Ms Pinky, eyes wide with excitement, ‘do you think the werewolf got her?’

‘Possibly, but before she disappeared, she discovered that the real Kraken is missing. I’m guessing if we find the Kraken, we find Alice.’ Fiona paused, deep in thought. ‘The Kraken is far too valuable to kill, and my hunch is that whoever needs a giant mythological squid, also needs someone with the ability to communicate with it.’

‘Which,’ said Ms Pinky, ‘means that Alice is probably still alive.’

‘Exactly.’

‘Unless, of course,’ said Ms Pinky, licking her lips, ‘calamari has just become a hot commodity on the international comestibles market.’

Fiona sent her receptionist up for coffee and called Neil telling him to hurry back for an emergency meeting. Ten minutes later he rushed in, almost knocking Ms Pinky’s bucket of latte out of her paws.

‘Sorry Ms Pinky, didn’t scald you did I?’

Ms Pinky lowered her head and fluttered her purple eyelashes.

‘Not at all Neil, I have a very firm grip with these paws. Can I get you a coffee, a sandwich perhaps?’

‘No thanks.’

‘How about a massage? You look stressed.’

Neil eyed Ms Pinky’s claws and hastily backed into Fiona’s office.

‘Perhaps we should get on with the meeting,’ he said, ‘every second counts by the sound of things.’

‘Good, you’re all here,’ said Fiona, I’ve just spoken to Alice’s phone company, her mobile hasn’t been used in days.’

‘And I managed to hack into her e-mail account earlier on,’ said Neil, ‘she hasn’t logged on at all.’

Ms Pinky put her paw into the air and waved it vigorously in front of Fiona.

‘Yes, Ms Pinky?’

‘Well, I took the liberty of calling everyone in Alice’s address book; she’d left it in her desk.’

‘And?’

‘Nothing, I’m afraid. Although I think one of the young men might have been an ex-boyfriend. He sounded lovely.’ Ms Pinky turned to Neil, blushing vermilion. ‘Not as lovely as you though, Neil’

‘Yes, well, thank you Ms Pinky, good work,’ said Fiona, unrolling a large map of the Atlantic, ‘I think our first and most important task is to locate poor Alice. Any ideas?’

‘How about a search plane?’ said Ms Pinky hopefully.

‘The ocean’s just too big,’ said Fiona, ‘it could take forever.’

‘Is Moby still on our books?’ asked Neil, ‘he can cover a lot of sea very quickly.’

Fiona pursed her lips, shaking her head.

‘Mr Dick was poached by a private Australian agency last year.’

‘Oh no!’ sobbed Ms Pinky, ‘how could they?’

‘Not that sort of poached, dear, they offered him more cash.’

‘Oh, I see,’ said Ms Pinky, calming down, ‘because poaching a whale would be a nightmare; you’d never find a pan big enough.’

Suddenly, Fiona leapt up from her chair, knocking over her award from the Mythological Work Ethics Guild.

‘That’s it Ms Pinky. You’ve got it!’

‘Got what? Where? Is it dangerous?’

‘No, you’ve solved our problem!’ Fiona rushed over and planted a kiss on Ms Pinky’s furry face.

‘I don’t follow.’

‘Nor me,’ said Neil.

Fiona removed a ball of pink fluff from her mouth and continued.

‘Ms Pinky, do you still have your recurring nightmare permit?’

‘Yes!’

‘How does that help us?’ asked Neil

‘Well,’ said Fiona, ‘If Ms Pinky can get into Alice’s nightmare, she might be able to talk to her and find out where she is.’ Fiona took Ms Pinky’s paw. ‘Will you do it?’

Ms Pinky’s eyes glowed orange and a smile spread rapidly across her three rows of serrated teeth.

‘I will!’

‘Thank you,’ said Fiona, ‘just promise not to scare Alice too much, won’t you.’

 

© flyingscribbler 2011