Photo count for Surprise Visit has risen to 186. You would not believe the hours I put in to get up to that number. Stiff neck and aching mouse-hand, I can tell you! Moreover, those are the completed, processed, usable shots, which can include up to ten elements in each to complete. Just guessing, but I figure it probably took at least 300 to make those 186. But enough of my creative laptop heroism and aching body parts: on with the show. The prologue is finally over, by the way. If there is such thing as an average prologue, mine is longer. I have a long one, and I”m hanging it out here for everyone to see!
Several hours passed before Nigel showed sufficient confidence in his new government to depart with his retinue for the space ship landing zone…
Having passed through the Departure Lounge, Beatrix lay a restraining hand upon her husband’s arm…
“Are you sure this is wise, Nige baby?” She whispered, fully aware that their bodyguard wouldn’t hear a word she said. “It’s just that when I went for my last-minute, pre-flight wee-wee, I felt a nagging doubt in my waters. Something might go horribly wrong.”
Nigel had always listened to his wife’s well-considered council. “Here, on Scroton?” He asked in a slightly more resonant whisper. “Or the vacation?”
Beatrix sighed. “Not here.” She replied. “I’m absolutely certain that Ena, Anders, and that Phruten guy are perfect for the job – after all, it was your hat their names came out of. No: it’s something about your choice of destination. Of course, if its fate that we go there, who am I to argue? But I thought I should mention it.”
So, as the others made their way towards the boarding gate…
…Nigel made a decision and reanimated…
He said; “Fear not, beautiful wife of mine: we will be on our guard against anything and everything. And, most importantly, we have Fermin Gusset at our side: what could go wrong?”
With that, they strolled out into the strange early-early morning light…
…of Scroton, whereupon Beatrix began complaining about the lack of air-conditioned transfer conduit to the space ship’s airlock. Fortunately for some unnamed underling, once they had seated themselves in the super-comfy flight chairs beside Walker Crabtrouser…
…that omission was forgotten utterly.
“Nice,” she said. “My botty has never felt so cossetted.”
“This is a new class of ship, isn’t it Walker?” Nigel inquired.
“First in the line.” Walker informed his leader. “There are four others in various stages of construction. This is the Buggeram Bay. It was named after the company that sponsored the development of the design – the Buggeram Bay Oily Fish Company. Buggeram Bay is on the southern continent, quite close to the pole, I believe.”
“That’s a little worrying, Walker.” Nigel said without turning to face the military leader. “Surely all space craft development must go through government channels?”
“Ah,” Walker responded slowly, “yes, that would be the case, normally. But the designer’s blueprints were lost in the back of the office copy machine and got all chewed up. No one wanted to take responsibility, so they just conveniently forgot all about it. The designer took his design elsewhere. Who knows who else has seen the design: but we have control of the manufacturing now, so no harm done.”
“Did they get a new photocopier?” Beatrix inquired.
“Not sure, Ma’am.” Walker replied. “Didn’t bother asking.”
Nigel’s disquiet remained. “So this is the only ship that actually flies?” He asked in a slightly nervous tone.
“Oh, assuredly.” Walker responded effortlessly. “The Plankton Regis is weeks away from completion: the Bingbonger is little more than a metallic skeleton: and the Clutterbuck is barely off the drawing board. If you have any reservations about this ship, Sir, we can always dig out the old Goosewing Grey: It still goes like the clappers, and, when you get used to it, the grey décor really isn’t as dull and depressing as you remember it.”
“I think not.” Beatrix responded upon her husband’s behalf. “When Magnuss and Hair-Trigger Earplug were given the choice of the Goosewing Grey or the Tankerville Norris, they chose the latter unequivocally. We’ll stick with this ship: I like the seats.”
Beatrix was further impressed by the ultra-high definition main screen…
“Oh look, Nige,” she gushed, “it’s the lemon curd factory. I remember opening that. We hadn’t long been married: it was one of my first civic duties. Lovely toilets, I remember.”
Nigel didn’t much care for lemon curd. “Who’s flying this ship?” He enquired of the cable ends that appeared to be manning the controls beneath the main view screen.
“Ah, that would be no one, Sir.” Julian Prim replied. “The ship flies itself. We’re here to manually override the A I in the event that it goes bananas and tries to fly the ship into the Sun or something equally catastrophic.”
This news placated Nigel’s concerns slightly. “Oh, that’s alright then.” He said. “Okay, take us up. Let’s go.”
Moments later the Buggeram Bay lifted on invisible columns of energy…
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022
Right then, that’s the slow bit out of the way. Now it’s time for action and mystery – on the vacation from Hell!