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Chapter 4 - Sugar Highs and Holly Trees

At the Victorian Compound

KK Victoria has conducted a regular purging of the gopher holes since this invasion of his property. It involved him patrolling about with a saber, stabbing into the ground where he saw heat signatures.

KK Victoria then pushed fire into the gopher holes, scorching those bloody fucking bastards in their nests. There may have been satisfied smiles upon smelling roasting meat.

* * * Some time later * * *

Midshipman calliaphone scrambles back through into the empty plot and goes to check on her gopher trap. damn thing's still empty, but that might be because it's been knocked over. fox or something, maybe.

Midshipman calliaphone notices an odd smell of roast meat, drifting across from the adjacent plot. she frowns as she rights the trap. barbeques? she shrugs. s'long as their busy over there, she's alright here.

Midshipman calliaphone removes the mouldy old bait from the trap and re-stocks it with fresh potato-peelings and blue sour-strings. she sets the spring, and remembers Dex's advice. No bait but in the traps, Callia.

Midshipman calliaphone nods to herself. This oughta do it. She munches on a leftover sour-string. C'mon gophers!

Midshipman calliaphone moves a little distance away, and lights a cigarette. She munches a few more sour-strings. Mm-mm, blue sugar in the blood. She starts to jitter. Gottadosomethinganything.

Midshipman calliaphone jitters some more, spooks at a nearby holly bush, and trips over her dress-sword. She tumbles, rolls, regains her feet, and (eventually) unsheaths the sword.

Midshipman calliaphone takes a swing at the holly bush and misses it completely. the momentum turns her through 360 degrees, to face the holly again. "how many of you are there?" she gasps, swiping at it again.

Midshipman calliaphone lunges at the holly again, and trips over her scabbard. She lands hard on her accordion, winding both of them and losing her grip on the sword. Wide-eyed and wheezing, she makes a snap decision. This is why she's officer material, of course. She unholsters her sea service pistol, and points it at the holly. "s-surrender!" she squeaks, pistol shaking in her hand.

Midshipman calliaphone whimpers, as the holly shows no signs of yielding. "al-alright then." she pulls the trigger. BANNNG! The bullet goes wide. Actually it goes more or less straight up, over Callia's head.

Midshipman calliaphone 's ears are still ringing from the report, but some instinct or other makes her look up, at the branches of the oak tree above her. One of those branches looks to be dead. And . . .moving.

Midshipman calliaphone says, "zombie trees? Oh fuck." and tries to scramble out of the way. She almost makes it. But the zombie tree branch catches her a glancing blow on the temple.

Midshipman calliaphone hits the ground with a soft ugghhh, and checks out for a little while.

While calliaphone lies unconscious, a gopher emerges from the next-door plot. A refugee gopher, trembling and traumatised, seeking sanctuary.

The gopher gives the trap a wide berth. Whiffling its nose, it looks around and then edges towards calliaphone. It approaches with extreme caution, but she does not move.

Whiskers a-quivering, the gopher starts to investigate calliaphone's backpack. It finds a sour-string. Blue! munchmumch. It pokes its head inside the backback, and locates some more!

When the gopher has eaten all the remaining sour-strings, it glances at calliaphone. Still out for the count. Without further hesitation, it burrows into her backpack to sleep.

* * * later still * * *

Midshipman calliaphone stirs and groans. That's about the limit of her activity for a while. But eventually there is some further movement towards sitting up.

Midshipman calliaphone sits, a little cross-eyed maybe, but that's not unusual. She looks round. Trees, grass, a holly bush. Very nice, but . . . where the hell is she and what's she doing here?

Midshipman calliaphone rubs the side of her head tenderly. ughh, some kinda bruise. she sees a tree-branch on the ground beside her, and . . . a sword? she crawls across and picks it up. Shiny! That's when. . .

Midshipman calliaphone realises she's wearing a scabbard. And a gun holster. Huhh. Another look round - there's a beautiful old pistol over there. Blinking through the headache, Callia retrieves it and turns it over.

Midshipman calliaphone whistles softly. ShinyPrettyToys! She suppresses the urge to take the pistol apart there and then, and re-holsters it instead. Then she puts the sword in its scabbard, and gets up slowly.

Midshipman calliaphone does not notice the empty gopher trap nearby. Shouldering her pack, she zig-zags towards the fence. How to get out? How did she get in? Then she stops and squints. Is that a fox-hole?

Midshipman calliaphone kneels down. It may have been a fox-hole to begin with, but it seems to have been enlarged a little since. She shoves her pack through and wriggles after it, out of the enclosed land.

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