The rudeness quotient is as high as ever in this fifth book in the Hamster-Sapiens. As usual it isn’t intended for small children to read. It features three short stories and a novella that is the sequel to the second book, ‘Fanfare for the Common Hamster’. This is a chapter from that sequel.
Chapter Eleven: The Others Meanwhile
The intermission was long and arduous. Long because it seemed to last for an eternity: And arduous because Molly Horseblanket’s lizard pies had frozen solid in the bitter north-easterly wind that blew around the rim of Danglydong Dell like a vengeful fart; and Farmer Jacksey’s tomatoes tasted really horrible.
“Absolutely ghastly.” Was the former mayor’s wife, Beryl Bogbreath’s summation of the break in proceedings. “The sooner we get back to these exciting tales, the better. That’s what I say.”
Of course the entire audience agreed, and so a disconcerted Wendy Nuthatch had to pull herself from the torrid embrace of Plops M’Banjo; straighten her skirt; and then try to walk to the dais in a manner that didn’t give the game away.
“Right then.” She said after clearing her throat, “Ah, let’s be on with the show, eh?”
Algy Timber could see that the mayoress wasn’t quite her usual over-confidant self yet, and reasoned well enough that she’d been experimenting with some rather unusual sexual positions in the official mayoral tent behind the communal lavatories.
“Your honour.” He spoke and raised a paw at the same time. “If you would permit…?”
Wendy was still feeling slightly flustered at what Plops had demanded of her, and was actually considering employing the vile Arthur Dung to replace him as her assistant.
‘At least I’d be able to keep up with Arthur’, she thought. ‘And I could always close my eyes and pretend that it was Johnny Grainswallow.’
“Ah, Algy.” She spotted the production manager of the local custard factory, “Yes, thank you. This is your baby, so-to-speak: Perhaps you should introduce the next reader.”
So without further ado Algy replaced Wendy – who quickly departed to the sanctuary of the mayoral tent, and immediately began poking through the contents of the private safe in search of the official mayoral chastity belt.
“Now some of you may recall that I disappeared for a while when it was my turn to read; and my lovely wife, Mildred, had to stand in for me.” Algy paused to give the audience time to assimilate this, and to re-wind their brains to an earlier point in the evening’s proceedings.
“Oh yeah,” Huck Ballesteroid spoke for the first time in a while, “We remember her. Plain girl: Nice calves though. Pleasant voice. Funny head fur.”
Huck stopped there, and wondered why no one filled the resulting silence. Then he realised that the crowd awaited a lecherous punch line. So just to spite them he added, “Makes nice porridge, I hear.”
When, after three minutes, nothing more issued forth from the foul maw of the cantankerous old bastard, Algy continued…
“Well it was necessary for Joan Bugler and I to pop out of this continuum for a minute or so.”
This statement elicited a great mass-inhalation.
“Wow.” Horatio Horseblanket exploded, “Live inter-dimensional travel! How I wish we could have seen it.”
Algy smiled, and inwardly thanked Horatio for the cue. “Well it so just happens…” He announced whilst raising a paw above his head. He then snapped his fingers – and to the utter amazement of everyone present in Danglydong Dell that evening, Joan Bugler and a giant of European hamster origins stepped out of thin air, and alighted upon the dais beside Algy with a loud thump.
“He was too busy to visit earlier.” Algy explained, “There’s been an outbreak of Hamsters Arse in Prannick, and this fine gentlehamster has been going about the country visiting the worst sufferers, and administering soothing balms to their desperate bum-holes. But he’s taken time off to read for us tonight. Ladies and gentlehamsters – may I present Joan Bugler’s principal love-interest, and owner of the most frightful willy in Prannick – Brother Alfonso Dos Fresas!”
The applause was monumental. No one could calculate the number of times that the folk of Hamster Heath had read and re-read his tales of derring-do in The Bucktooth Times. He was a hero in the town already.
Standing beside him Joan smiled broadly as he accepted the plaudits, which included
several pressed flowers; a Season Four DVD box set of My Old Man’s an Arse Hole; a minty lozenge; and a not entirely unexpected pair of fragrant underpants. She gazed at him proudly as he adjusted the microphone in an upward direction. Then, after clearing his cavernous throat, he uttered his first words in Hamster Heath since that dreadful day when (as rookie Rude Receiver for the Hamster Heath Heathens sod-ball team) he accidentally
flattened Stubby Collet, and unfortunately then sent him flying into a battery-powered cement mixer.
“Hola, buenas noches.” He said.
“Hola, buenas noches.” Everyone replied warmly, “Welcome to Hamster Heath, you big hunk. Pray tell us your tale.”
Well with such a delightful invitation Brother Alfonso could do little else but accede to their friendly demand. He opened his diary, and with an accent that sounded remarkably Spanish to those assembled before him, said…
Tumblingday, the Forty-fifth of Plinth. It had been an entire day and an even more entire night since stepping through the invisible, and undetectable, trans-location portal on the edge of Far Kinell. An entire day and an even more entire night since Brother Alfonso Dos Fresas; the lovely (if plump) Joan Bugler; shapely Primrose Pickles; and the mad gerbil – Brenda Bugler – had discovered five race-prepped foldaway motocross scooters leaning against the only wall in an otherwise barren wasteland. An entire day, and an even more entire night since they set off across the rock-strewn countryside in search of civilisation. And now they were weary from the effort of punting furiously, mono-wheeling over spectacular whoop-de-doos, and making huge downhill leaps over barbed wire fences and landmines.
Above them an unbroken layer of cloud blanked out both the soul-stirring blueness of the sky, and the sun’s warmth. They shivered mightily as they grew fearful that their paws would freeze to the handlebars, and various bits and pieces of their anatomy would become unserviceable.
When they’d discovered the five vehicles Joan had noted the remarkable similarity of the machines to that of Horatio Horseblanket’s racing machine that she and Felicity had borrowed from the Hero of Hamsterdom during their previous adventure in the world of Prannick.
“Yeah.” Brenda had agreed. “It’s sure lookin’ like this badge stuff on the front’s saying something pretty special ‘bout it too.”
Of course, being an immigrant, Brenda had never bothered to learn the written form of Hamster-British. Instead she relied on guesswork. Today her guesswork had paid off.
“Well bugger me!” Arthur Dung exclaimed after reading the shiny go-faster decal on his machine’s front fender, “It says Horatio Horseblanket Race Replica.” He explained his outburst. “Well how about that: The little shit has a scooter named after him!”
“I don’t like the look of that.” Primrose had turned very grim at the revelation. Then she looked at Dung askance, and wondered where the heck he’d come from. She didn’t recall sending him back to Hamster-Heath with Algy Timber: But conversely she didn’t recall seeing him come along for the ride either. But due (probably) to a stress-induced chemical imbalance in her advanced rodent brain, she carelessly concluded that he must have been hidden by the bulk of her huge Spanish ally all the time, and that she simply hadn’t been aware of the loathsome hamster’s presence
“Nor me.” Dung agreed before Primrose’s thoughts could coalesce further, “My son’s scooter was much better than Horseblanket’s. They should’a made a replica of his one: Horseblanket’s scooter was a pile of crap!”
“Si, this maybe so.” Brother Alfonso brought instant tranquillity to the situation merely by modulating his deep Iberian tone. “But they are the only form of transportation we have. Unless, of course, you wish to walk, Mister Dung. Primrose – what is it about these machines that concerns you?”
Primrose’s questions concerning Dung’s existence evaporated as she regarded the mighty steeds. “They shouldn’t be here.” She said. “I’m a huge fan of foldaway scooter motocross: If I can’t get to see it live, I video it on TV, and play it back for hour upon hour. I’m particularly interested in local riders, and I know with an utter certainty that no manufacturer had made a Horatio Horseblanket Race Replica.”
But he had a great scooter.” Joan argued. “I should know – I rode it like a demon.”
“No, it was only average – as was Horatio.” Primrose argued back. “Believe me – I know all about this sort of thing. I’m an armchair expert.”
“Oh good.” Dung seemed immensely satisfied at this information. “I’m gonna call him Mister Average next time we meet. He’ll hate that. He’ll hate that almost as much as I hate him. You know – if I had my way, I’d go ‘round his house every morning after my stint at Kool Kustard, and kick him in the goolies. Then I’d slap him about a bit, and then ram his head up his arse hole. That’s what I’d do.”
No one reacted immediately. They didn’t know what to say. Eventually it was Brenda who spoke… “So where we’s goin’ then? I sure is hopin’ that it aint a long goin: My feets is bad.”
But of course it was, and now their legs were turning to jelly, and their minds to more esoteric thoughts…
“Don’t those clouds look like fluffy pillows in the sky?” Joan mused whilst navigating a gentle descent. “I could just fall into them, and sleep forever.”
Primrose hadn’t spoken for hours, but something in Joan’s words broke her out of her apparent reverie. “What’s that?” She snapped. “Sleep forever?”
Then she braked unexpectedly, and slithered to a halt. The others were slow to react, and it took them a few moments to backtrack to where she stood – staring at an apparently endless vista.
“When did we last sleep?” She demanded.
The others looked amongst themselves; opened their mouths several times; but found themselves unable to answer.
“Dunno.” Dung said finally.
“Correcto!” Primrose snapped her fingers directly in front of the ugly sod’s miserable face. “We don’t know. In other words we haven’t slept at all. Since that is patently impossible I put forward this premise for your scrutiny. This doesn’t exist.” Her tiny arms tried to embrace the scene before them. “Not any of it. It is unreal – all of it.”
“Si, I understand you, shape-shifter.” Brother Alfonso’s eyes lit up with understanding. “It is a figment of our collective imagination.”
“What?” Primrose snapped as she turned a disapproving glare upon her huge friend. “Of course it isn’t, you Spanish twat. It’s not our imagination at all. The vile Arthur Dung doesn’t have an imagination – except when it comes to Horatio Horseblanket, and what he’d like to do to the charming lad. And, sorry Joan, but your mother is as daft as a tartan turd: She couldn’t possibly have imagined this harsh landscape. No – this is the figment of someone’s imagination alright: But it isn’t ours.”
Joan sighed. It was a sigh that came desperately close to accepting defeat. “Tybrow Mooney.” She said quietly.
Primrose was about to confirm this hypothesis, when she was rudely interrupted by a gap forming in the cloud cover. She was even more rudely interrupted when a huge dirigible began to descend through it.
Brother Alfonso dropped to his knees. “Surely we are dead.” He cried out as he made the sign of The Wheel with his paws. “This ‘thing’ can only be some manifestation of either the Rim – or possibly the Hub. Well one of the two!”
“Or one of them uppy-uppy balloony things.” Brenda countered.
“A dirigible!” Joan shouted in excitement. “Alfonso – dot you recall how I told you about that time when I visited Marmota España?”
“Si, I remember.” Brother Alfonso spoke as he clambered to his feet, and put away his fear. “You went to the holiday resort of Bunnidorm, where you learned to drink warm ale, sing karaoke, wear silly hats with lewd comments printed upon them, and flash your breasts. So what?”
“That is one of the flying machines that carried me there.” Joan’s smile hadn’t lessened one iota. “That thing isn’t to be feared: It’s our way out of here.”
Joan then started jumping up and down on the spot and waving her arms in the air.
Quick learners – all of them – the others joined in, and a cacophony of excited yells flew skyward.
And still the vast vessel descended. A small knot of rodents could be seen congregating at the rail. Some began to return their waves. Moments later ropes began tumbling from the side of the gondola, and coiled earthward – slapping the dry soil like whips, and kicking up the arid dust.
Well the five rodents didn’t need a second bidding. They slung their scooters over their shoulders, and swarmed up the ropes, paw over paw, like a horde of ravenous pirates, until they reached the gondola, where familiar smiles welcomed them aboard.
“Felicity!” Joan screamed as she smothered her tiny half-sister with a huge hug. “Mum!” She added as Brenda joined them to form a triumvirate of odd-shaped rodentia.
The others too were welcomed warmly, and Tits even heated up the leftover beans for them. Then the jabbering started as members of each group related their tale of how they came to be in this place at this time.
Only Adjusterming and Primrose remained calm. Together they stole away along the rail to a quieter spot near the stern.
Adjusterming didn’t bother with preamble. “Remarkable coincidence, don’t you think?”
Primrose nodded. “The Dragon Slayer descending just at the right moment? I’d say so. How did you do it?”
“We didn’t.” Adjusterming informed her. “We were all dying of boredom, when suddenly a valve, or something, blew – and we began venting gas, and lost altitude.”
Primrose looked over the side. The ground was close, but not so close that a rodent would leap overboard without a parachute, or at least a strong bungie strap attached to their heels.
“How are you maintaining this height?” She inquired. “We don’t appear to be dropping any further.”
“We have Gargantua hooked up to a hose that feeds directly into the main gas bag.” Adjusterming answered as though those few short words explained everything.
“Hooked up?” Primrose was puzzled. “Is he keeping us aloft by blowing into the canopy?”
“No.” Adjusterming made a surprised jerking motion with his head, “He’s breaking wind. Cavy farts are lighter than air: I thought everyone knew that.”
“Ah.” Primrose nodded knowingly, “That would explain the beans.”
Then a second, rather more startling, thought intruded…
“Where did you get the beans?”
“From the galley.”
“They were already aboard ship?”
Adjusterming nodded affirmation. “Is it significant?”
“Very.” Primrose replied. “Let’s get back to the others: I’m calling an emergency session of the war cabinet.”
“No way.” Gargantua bellowed immediately following the emergency meeting, to which he hadn’t been privy due to his personal duties, which consisted solely of keeping the main gas bag inflated with his noxious gastric anomalies. “If I pull this hose outta my arse, we’re all doomed. Doomed I tell ya. We’ll spiral down to a dusty death upon the rock-strewn plain below.”
“No we won’t, Gargantua.” Primrose dabbed at the cavy’s matted brow with a towel from the executive toilet. “Trust me, loyal beast. Unplug your anus, and walk free.”
“But the gas…” Gargantua tried to argue.
“Does not exist.” Primrose spoke kindly, but firmly, and with such assurance that the huge animal could do little other than comply.
So with a great relief Gargantua relaxed his sphincter, and Arthur Dung quickly whipped the length of hose away before he could change his mind.
“I don’t get it.” The cavy complained as everyone smiled with relief. “You say that there aint no gas, but how’d you account for this?”
He then gave up the last of his internal gas with such fury that he slid along the carpet on his belly, and only stopped when he collided with Brother Alfonso as he exited the galley. He then looked back to see not one snout curling back upon itself. Not one nostril twitching out of control. Not one case of projectile vomiting.
“Hey,” he sounded even more aggrieved, “are you guys trying to tell me that my farts don’t stink too?”
In response to this Lionel sang the opening line of one of his favourite hit records that had been discovered in a vault in the long-abandoned North America. It was by the Titillating Tonsils, and it went…
“My farts don’t stink – like your farts do –ooh-ooh-ooh.”
“Only I this case they really don’t.” Joan smiled.
“I don’t get it.” Gargantua’s tone remained puzzled and slightly reproachful – as though he didn’t really believe what people were telling him. “Okay, I guess my fluffing snout aint working properly today, but I’m sure as shit certain that my arse is. It’s on fire.”
“The beans aren’t real.” Primrose promised the giant cavy. “Nothing is. The land. The sky. This dirigible. We’re all somewhere else. Only our belief in what we see around us keeps us here. Only our belief imprisons us in this vast jail of the imagination.”
Gargantua wasn’t used to such ethereal concepts. “Shit, Primrose, as much as I adore you, and worship the lavatory you sit upon, I can’t get my stupid head ‘round such a weird way of thinking. I come from a simple society in which what ya fluffing see is what ya fluffing get. I can feel my farts building up inside me. I know I’ve been eating beans coz my bum’s about to explode. It don’t matter what ya say – ya can’t tell me different.”
“Gargantua,” Lionel tried his luck, “It’s like that episode of Rat Trek, where Mister Splatt has to make mental contact with Captain Perp, and convince him that dandelions can’t shoot back. Until Captain Perp was utterly convinced – they could never escape from Dangerous Dandelionland, and would have starved to death.”
“Save your high-technology analogies and examples.” Gargantua growled, “We aint got that sort’a thing in Prannick. I aint never seen an episode of Rat Trek. In fact I wouldn’t recognise a DVD player if someone shoved one up my nose. My feet tell me I’m standing on the deck of a dirigible: I don’t have no argument with my feet!”
“Gargantua.” Tits screamed with frustration, “Unless you believe what we’re telling you – we’ll all be stuck here until the end of time!”
At this point Gargantua reached a cul-e-sac in his mental process development. He could neither go forward or backwards. And there was a very real possibility that he might salve his anguish by taking the easy way out by throwing himself from the gondola.
“If he does that,” Primrose whispered imperceptibly to Brother Alfonso, “he’ll think that he’s falling to his death, and probably have a fatal cardiac infarction.”
“This infarction – it hurts, sí?” Alfonso inquired.
“Sí” Primrose replied.
“In which case, I will take care of the situation. Just one thing before I act: The stupid creature must stop believing what he sees, no?”
“Bueno. I act now.”
With that Brother Alfonso did what very few monks would ever consider. First he lowered Gargantua’s guard by lifting up his habit, and giving his frightful willy a quick wave. He then balled his mighty paws into even more mighty fists, and smacked the cavy right on the end of his enormous snout.
Gargantua went down like a sack of shit. And in an instant everyone found themselves standing on the road to Far Kinell again. Well everyone who was awake, that is: Gargantua lay quiescent – with his bloody nose dribbling into the dusty soil, and knowing nothing whatsoever about everything.
“Right then.” Primrose said as she looked about them, “Now that we have some idea just how powerful Tybrow Mooney’s psychic powers have become – we’d better find the bastard, and sort him out.”
“That’s all well and good.” Boney’s familiar moaning voice could be heard emanating from behind a bush, “But I’m old, and need to visit the toilet quite a bit. Can’t you drop me off somewhere? Better still – Colin – how about fiddlin’ with that alien gizmo, and takin’ us all home?”
“What, and miss all the fun, Boney?” Fanangy cried out. “Isn’t this what we do in The Where House? Explore and have exciting adventures?”
Boney screwed up his face. No one could be certain if it was indecision, or a suddenly constricted urethra.
“And who knows what riches we might find?” Lionel added.
“Have you seen the contents of the larder recently?” Colin introduced another argument. “It’s almost empty.”
But it was Tits who delivered the coup de grace. “And I couldn’t help but notice the final demand from your finance company that lay unopened and gathering dust beside your dead telephone, Mister Legge.”
“Well it seems that we all have good reasons to continue our quest.” Primrose nodded to everyone in turn. “But to save Boney’s ageing joints we’ll wait until Gargantua wakes up. He can carry Boney upon his broad back.”
A great sigh of disappointment went around the dell as Brother Alfonso Dos Fresas closed his diary.
“My apologies, mis amigos.” He said, “But I have many duties to perform in my home land. As much as I enjoy being here, and receiving your adoration, plaudits, and slightly soiled underwear, I must return now to Prannick: I have some arse holes to tend. Adios.”
With that he turned about, took Joan’s paw, and pulling her close to him stepped into another reality.
©Paul Trevor Nolan
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