“I could murder that little frigger,” I muttered to mesel’, “but, I have to take what, and where, God and his good wisdom flang it – it came with the tree.”
The tree in this case was Methuselah, a pre-historic redwood that hailed from the mountains of fabled California and damned lucky to get it. It offered the highest lookout on board the bubble, but it came with a caveat; a one-eyed crow what fancies itself as a raven; rubbed me nerves raw! Its telescopic implant made it indispensably untouchable. “Itself” you wonder? Right you are. According to ‘him’, when it wasn’t an “it”, it was a “he“. Calls itself MacBeth and claims to have lost it in a duel. Still thinks of itself as a he!
I get moody some days and certain things get stuck in me old craw that won’t shake loose, like the utterance from the little frigger a minute ago, “I spy with my little eye, nothing much happening nearby.” It’s the idiotic, poetic idiosyncrasies – stunned as me arse.
Been years since me hung up me horn and just as happy to fly this bubble about with me mates. When necessity knocks though, we take paying clients on mysterious, bare-bubble cruises ’round the Milky Way; or shorties around the Local Cluster – the Jovian Gas Giants, Sagittarius Dwarfs, and the Magellanic Cloud even.
The “Good Bubble Daisy” what’s we call her. Some sweet piece of work what’s been passed down to me by me pappie’s, mammie’s kin, God love ’em. Born on her and hope to die on her. A complete, self-sustaining runner; a floating biosphere as pure as you can get. Only makin’s of a faster-than-light vessel is the bridge with a vista view sittin’ high on the poop deck, and an organ console, the pilot’s friend, front and centre; damn lucky to get it; not only does it operate the craft, but it plays a mean boogie as well. The twelve sails, shimmerin’ when the light hits them nice, are manoeuvrable, elliptical membranes around the bubble, like the petals on the daisies dottin’ the ground around the bridge.
Lately, I find old jaunts with MacBeth and ‘Ol Cocky breeching the surface like a fermenting swell, and I’m thinkin’ thoughts to meself I never thought I’d think, “Irovi,” I thought to mesel’, ” I miss the old days… maybe I’m getting too old and fudgy.” I retired from adventures eons ago after we all nearly got our arses sucked into a mother of a black hole.
Necessity was knockin’ again, so we took on a few highenders lookin’ to buy a premium (read, very anonymous) slummin’ experience; hintin’ to check out some of the ‘native wares’ in the back stars. We needed the dinars at the time so I made up this story about this large asteroid called, “The Blackhole of Orion”; not much more than the red hemorrhoid of Betelgeuse. Got ’em on the hook though, dinars and all.
The local sun was not castin’ a shadow about old Methuselah, signifyin’, it must be time for boat kettle stew, duffs and a wee dram. From below, ‘Ol Cocky scrabbled, on cue, to Daisy’s bell and beat it repeatedly with his spatula. This was the sole annoying thing about him, he didn’t know when to stop, but he takes direction very well when I throw me shoe at him.
Now Cocky is indispensible too, he is a right clever cockroach with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the culinary arts. One time he made a steak tartar to bust yer teeth on. So happens that the main ingredient was me lost shoe. Ha! Always harboured an ambition though, to be some kind’a witchdoctor, what with his occasional disappearances into the bowels of the ship. Always experimenting with strange psychotropic plants and herbs – all natural mind you; makes a fine horse-doctor.
Decades of spacefaring and working with crews hones a certain sense of telepathy, and very helpful when you are trying to command a ship from A to B. This particular day was the third becalmed day, and again we woke to MacBeth’s pathetic poesy, suffice to say, “Daisy” was ‘dead in space’ (this is a relative term). This did not sit well with their majesties and we didn’t need telepathy to see them frothing about their ears with impatience. They were very fussy about wasting money, even if it wasn’t their own.
His highness came to the bottom of the bridge with a demanding attitude, “Look here mister, we’re not here because the cockroach is some kind of wundercook, and besides the literature says that the captain is a unicorn which, to date, we can find no evidence. We haven’t seen hide nor horn anywhere. We paid good money to meet this horny bugger, because quite frankly, we don’t believe unicorns exist. We reckon we’ve been had by a poor excuse for old horsemeat. We’re sure your little cooky can do you up as a side dish for us. Ha ha ha.”
As you might appreciate, me patience was a little bit stretched. “Lard tunderin’ Jesus!” I blew. By old instinct I reached for the top of me head, but then realised I haven’t worn the horn for years, ‘cept on formal occasions.
I turned on him, “First, it’s MISSUS to you fella, or better yet, Missus Captain, Emeritus, Yrovi Nrocinu; and second, see this nub on me head, this is where I snap in me horn – I am the biggest mother Unicorn you’ll ever see.”
“That nub is a fake, and any bag of bones that doesn’t even reach my armpit is not a Unicorn.” says he.
“Have you, in any reality, seen a Unicorn?” says I.
“No, but I have seen some good fakes with horns and you are a horse’s ass.” says he.
“Well maybe if you’re lucky you will see me horn someday.” I says to mesel’ reigning in my temper.
Thankfully we were interrupted by MacBeth gracing us from on high with a novel piece of doggerel, “I spy with my little eye, solar wind on the rise, or should I make it rye to rhyme with eye?”, and trailed off muttering something about scrapping the whole verse.
“A thousand apologies sir, forgive me outburst. Me most humble request for forgiveness; please accept a glass of our finest and let bygones be bygones.” I suggested.
That night I had a few words with MacBeth and ‘Ol Cocky.
Cocky finished up in the mess and joined MacB and I at the table. Three heads, three drams and a bottle of Callibogus, we plotted the next day’s course and a just reward for their magnificences.
“They insulted you skip.” said Cocky.
Those types are born insults,” says I, “so we’ll give ’em what they paid for: an experience they’ll never forget.”
It was getting late and before I could look at the insides of me eyelids, I set a course at the console for the InterGalactic Route 66, a wormhole that would take us to our destination. Cocky disappeared to his dark ministrations, and MacB found its way back to the crowsnest.
MacBeth, as usual, was the first up and roused the rest of the bubble with another attempt at his brainless rhyme, “I spy with my little eye, a black snake in the sky… or maybe shape… hmmm.”
I had too much to do now to give it the attention it deserved and clarified, “Thar she be b’ys! The fabled route to the great unknown.” I exaggerated for effect.
“See what?” asked his excellency.
If you look carefully about eleven-thirty off the tree and a line, just above the third branch, you might notice, if you have your eyes attached to yer brain (and not yer arse I was tempted to say), a certain darkness in the likeness of a snake – that’s where we’re going to drop down her like a white rabbit.
“Make ready to wrap the sails.” I ordered and pulled on me e-magnetic gloves over me hooves; got comfortable on the bench; adjusted some of the stops, “All set… and go.” I depressed a light harmonic on the pedals and watched the membranes come shimmerin’ in.
We banked to starboard towards Route ’66 and entered the tube to the tune of Debussy’s, “Au Clair de Lune.”
I picked this route particularly, as there is a very nice little singularity we are familiar with, and, as they say, there is always a fix for what’s vex’n ya. We exited not too far from our destination .
“You b’ys up fer it? Then suit up gentlemen. This babe’s goin’ to take you on a trip of a lifetime.” I says.
Parked in orbit, we slipped out of the Daisy on the sloop “John B”. It had a hot little piloting console, a restored and refitted, an old Hammond B-3 organ (damn lucky to get it), and headed out towards the greatest light show in the universe; the glorious chaos of a massive, yin/yang of a black-hole.
“Captain, how much longer?” whines Mr. X.
“We’re there b’ys. You wanted the ‘Blackhole of Orion’, well there she be.”
“But … the ‘native’ wares?”
“In there…” pointing to the dark centre of the Event where all things ‘native’ eventually wind up.
Never in yer life have you experienced such a silence… such a loss of words… not even a collective gasp, and such enormous eyeballs.
This is one such occasion that me horn is called for,” Here be me honourable horn and I’m a righteous old ‘corn… prepare to meet your maker!”
The mixture of adrenalin and testosterone in a panicked male was more than I was expecting. His excellency leapt clear up on to the bridge before me, grabbed me forelock in one great hand and sunk his teeth into me ear. With his free hand, he reached for me horn, but before he could grab it, I had it deftly in me hoof and swung it hard at his temple – I brained him, he fell back to the rail stunned.
The John B was a shudderin’; ridin’ at the Event Horizon, the point of no return. By now they were sure we were doomed and crazy. And we were…
This is the only time where MacBeth really excelled himsel’ in his poetry, and we salsaed and sang from stem to stern:
Just have a peek down there me b’ys.
Blacker than all the Devil’s lies.
Never get out however you tries.
No proof remains of your demise
And none will hear your last goodbyes.
Then ‘Ol Cocky, with his special blend, lifted his foreleg to check the spin direction and released the particulate in their general direction. His formula alters some enzymes and amino acids that inhibit the ‘fight’ in the ‘fight-or-flight’ mechanism of the adrenal gland, and enhances the “flight’ response in such a way that their majesties lined up together on the rail flappin’ their arms and spouting poems much like the inanities of MacBeth. So the last we saw of them they flapped into the blackhole with the B-3 pumpin’ out Wagner’s, “Ride of the Valkyries”
The local sun was just about to be one with Methuselah when the story hit the screen, “Intergalactic Businessmen Missing.”
“Ahoy me hearties, this calls for a bottle! Listen up.”
It read, “Businessmen of interest disappearing. No normal spikes in crime rates have Galactic Authorities puzzled.”
“How can you live with yourself, Skip?” Cocky asks.
“Have ya a hole in yer soul?” MacB asks.
“I’ve been considerin’ those questions deeply me b’ys, and I see it as having done God’s little dirty work. I feel it a proper ‘ting, Him pullin’ our sorry asses out of a scrape many a time. He has enough in his mug. I see us as being God’s Posse.”
So with that said they all upped their glasses and downed the Callibogus.
“God bless first today and Amen to that.”
The God’s Posse won runner up in the 1st (possibly) Annual Short Story Contest at the Toronto Writers’ Co-op in Toronto, and a pint of my favourite beer.