(Back to Chapter Index)
(Back to Previous Chapter)
What She Caught Instead
Bingo Hall Reception
Midshipman calliaphone trudges wearily into the hall, plastered in lakeside mud from head to toe. shivering violently, and sneezing at regular intervals.
Midshipman calliaphone glances around, her mouth turning down at the corners, her eyes distinctly lacking in lustre. she sneezes again, and the force of it propels her into a corridor.
In the Nondescript Cloakroom
Midshipman calliaphone trudges into the bar, looking . . . frankly, not her best. she's coated from head to foot in lakeside mud, and is shivering and sneezing by turns.
Midshipman calliaphone looks dolefully at the battenberg guy. he gets the idea, and mixes her a hot toddy, with extra sugar swizzle-sticks.
Midshipman calliaphone accepts the drink in silence. well, if you don't count the sneezes, that is. She looks up from swirling her swizzle-sticks in the toddy, to see Battenberg offering her a dishcloth. "Bad day, huh?"
Midshipman calliaphone wipes her face on the dishcloth, till you can almost see her beneath the mud. she shivers, sneezes, and blows her nose, then offers the dishcloth back. Battenberg recoils. "Let's call that yours."
Midshipman calliaphone nods, wearily. "thanks. y'know, you're really not a bad bloke, for a cake."
Midshipman calliaphone blows her nose again, and knocks back the toddy. Battenberg fixes her another, minus delay. She swirls the swizzle again, and sighs. "bad day? well . . . it could've been worse." indeed it could. . .
Midshipman calliaphone sighs again. "but it could've been better. i was this close to getting a frog and a snake. this close, and then they both got away." Battenberg makes sympathetic cake noises.
Midshipman calliaphone continues. "that's how it was with the gopher, too. i dunno what i'm doing wrong. they always get away." Battenberg frowns, considering this. "You want some advice, with that drink?"
Midshipman calliaphone shrugs, shivers, sneezes, and blows her nose. "you got any to give?" "Well of course! I'm a barkeep, advice is part of the job." "oh. yeh. alright then. atishhoooooo!" "gesundheit"
Midshipman calliaphone thanks Battenberg, and knocks back her second toddy. He supplies the third as promptly as the last two, and then folds his arms and considers her.
Midshipman calliaphone looks back. again with that doleful pathos. Battenberg gives an encouraging smile. "Chin up, hunter. Here's what i think. you're going at this too directly."
Midshipman calliaphone blinks. "toowhatwhat? atiiishooooo!" "Gesundheit. Too directly. You go out there like a bull at a gate, and it's obvious to your quarry you're after it. You need to be sneaky. Devious."
Midshipman calliaphone rubs her forehead with a muddy hand. "Sneaky. Devious. gottit." she pauses. thinks. "wait a second. i think i've got it, uhhh. . ." she knocks back the toddy and drops her face onto the bar.
Midshipman calliaphone says, sort of muffled-like, "how'sIgoin' to do all deaky an snevious, cnyouxplain?" Battenberg nods, and leans on the bar, whispering. "Don't go hunting snakes. or frogs. Go fishing."
Midshipman calliaphone groans. "But the fish'll just get away toooo." Battenberg grins. "But that's okay, you're not really after the fish."
Midshipman calliaphone says, or more accurately waaails, "whhaat, i'm not? but you said. . ." Battenberg nods. "S'right. You're going to make like you're after the fish, till even the snakes and the frogs believe it."
Midshipman calliaphone stops wailing abruptly, sneezes, and thinkthinks. slowwwwly. her brain is being swirled by rum-infused swizzle-sticks just now. it's not unpleasant. but it makes thinking a bit like mud-wading.
Midshipman calliaphone says, at last. "so. . . you mean . . . pretend to be fishin' atishooooo, an' let the little hoppy-wriggly buggers get all close-like, an' then. . ." "Pounce! Gotcha! Gesundheit."
Midshipman calliaphone says, "huhhh." she thinkthinks some more. "but is that fair?" Battenberg shrugs. "It's a jungle out there. A real frog eat frog world." "i'm not gonna eat them!" "Well then!"
Midshipman calliaphone doesn't raise any more objections. she's having trouble just raising her head right now. Battenberg leaves her one last toddy on the bar, before disappearing off to get clean glasses from somewhere.
Talon is still sleeping on a barstool, face burried in his arms, crossed in front of him on the bar.
Talon wakes up, immediately raising his head, with a snort. "Wasjus'restin'myeyes,honest!" There's a series of pops in his neck and he puts his head down on his arms again. "Owowow."
Talon turns his head on his arms so he can look left, very slowly, and very carefully, spots a calli! "Yo, oi?"
Talon shrugs and lets her sleep, looks for the new barkeeper. "Barman?"
Talon grins as the guy appears from somewhere. "I'll have something against neckpain, tiredness and loss of time." he orders.
Talon adds, before Guttenberg can give him a snarky response, "Water on the rocks and a handful of aspirin will do."
Talon watches as the other guy grins also and nods. "I'll see what I can do." and goes rummaging behind the bar.
Midshipman calliaphone mmmumbles something unintelligible, and shifts slightly at the bar.
Talon grins. "I know exactly what you mean." he mumbles back.
Midshipman calliaphone turns her head so that the other cheek is resting on the beer-sticky surface, and she is looking directly at Talon. "mrhgh." she says, and then sneezes herself off the bar-stool.
Midshipman calliaphone hits the floor with a minor crash and a major whimper. Cordy utters a tritone - his protest of choice. and then subsides into wheezes.
Talon shifts his head far enought towards the edge of the bar to look down. "I'll just assume that was on purpose." he murmurs. "Does my face really look that bad?" he asks with a grin.
Talon raises his head very carefully as his water and aspirin arrive. He just hopes the pills wont have any improbable effect and swallows a few, downing them with water.
Midshipman calliaphone sniffs. In fact, it's more of a snorrrt. There appears to be some kind of serious traffic delay in her sinuses. She looks dully up at Talon, and shivers. "s'dod a bad face, doh."
Talon slips down off his stool to sit, carefully keeping weight off his right foot, dragging his water and aspirin down with him (actually managing not to spill any). "Not very comfy down here."
Midshipman calliaphone says, "doh." and drops her head onto Talon's shoulder. "dhat helps, dhough." she sniffs, wiping her nose on her cuff. "fughd budhods." she glares at her cuff-buttons, and rubs her nose.
Talon raises an eyebrow and offers her the aspirin and water. It might not really cure anything, but it was good for some relief in most situations.
Midshipman calliaphone sips tentatively, and pulls a face. "biddher" she says, and sneezes again, burying her face in a mud-stained dishcloth. then she remembers her manners. "dhangyou."
Talon grins. "All medicine, even the fake one, tastes bitter." He ponders. "Well, except cough syrup for some reason."
Midshipman calliaphone brightens. She'd forgotten about cough syrup. She signals frantically to Battenburg."Bedylidh'n'blaghblease. You wadh, Dhalodh? Bhake it dwho, caghe-bhad."
By some miracle of barmanship, Battenberg understands Callia's nasal ramblings. He promptly serves two glasses of Benylin and blackcurrant syrup.
Talon grins at her, mostly because it sounded so awfully funny. "You're gonna be okay, right?"
Midshipman calliaphone nods, putting away her benylin with record speed. "Djhust a stubidh ghold." she helps herself to some more of Talon's aspirin, along with the benylin.
Talon nods "I hate it when that happens." He doesn't really mind being mudded on, really. "So, how'd you get it?"
Midshipman calliaphone knocks back the second benylin and signals for another. She emits an epic sniff, and is somewhat taken aback to find she can breathe. Damn, that medicine's good! She considers Talon's question.
Midshipman calliaphone says, "mud." ooh, she really can breathe. more benylin, quick! "i sorta got stuck in it. there was a frog, see? and a grass-snake."
Talon tilts his head. "A grass-snake in the mud?" Shouldn't it be called a mud-snake then? He has really no idea about fauna of any kind.
Midshipman calliaphone shrugs. She's no expert either, but what she does know is this: she wanted that snake. The frog didn't seem to keen though, and so somehow she lost them both. And caught a cold instead.
Midshipman calliaphone polishes off another couple of benylins, and starts to hum softly to herself. she tries for another, but Battenberg shakes his head. "I think you've had enough for one day."
Midshipman calliaphone grumbles briefly, just to observe the formalities. she's actually in a reaaaallly good mood now, yes indeedy! she gives Talon and Battenberg a slightly unhinged grin.
Talon giggles under his breath. "You do know, you're supposed to drink only a bit of cough syrup?" he wonders if there are any adverse effects from overdosing oneself with that stuff.
Midshipman calliaphone isn't too worried. Everything seems much shinier and prettier than usual. She gives Talon a slightly off-kilter hug, and kisses his cheek. "M'ok, Battenberg won't let me come to harm."
Talon glances over to the barkeep and nods. "Yeah, you're prolly right." He smiles and replies the hug. "So what did you want with the frog?"
Midshipman calliaphone looks shifty, then leeeeans in close to Talon, and whisperwhisper's in his ear.
Talon grins until the grin almost splits his face in two. "Awesome!"
Midshipman calliaphone would agree, but she's currently incapacitated by giggles. she tilts sideways a little, leaning on Talon and shaking with laughter.
Talon finds that her laughter is very much contagious and laughs along.
Midshipman calliaphone laughs till she's right out of air, pulls in a lungful, subsides again. and eventually gassssps to a halt, exhausted. she sits up, wiping tears. "ohh Talon, lookit the sparkly wineglasses."
Midshipman calliaphone is getting fidgetty, restless. she's getting a sudden yen to do something. "wannago'xploring? i'm goin'xploringnow youcomingwithhow'boutit yeh?"
Midshipman calliaphone jumps to her feet and starts pacing the speakeasy, muttering to herself."wheretostartwheretofinish? how'llikeeptrack? hmm, hmm?" Cordy hums along chromatically - he also seems overexcited.
Talon is very much surprised with her sudden energy burst. "Uhm, I dunno if it's a good idea if you'll go wnadering about. You got a cold, remember? Also, I still have to walk on my crutches."
Midshipman calliaphone processes this with some difficulty - she's very restless now and it's making it hard to concentrate. "hrm. but it's ok i'm medicated. your crutches . . . i could fit 'em with wheels, or mebbe. . ."
Midshipman calliaphone taptaptaps her fingers on her accordion, "no, betterplan, i'll Report Back! Don't fall over or anything while i'm gone i won't be long jus' a few days at most!" and she's gone.
(Back to Previous Chapter)
(Forward to Next Chapter)