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The Irregulars In Cyberia
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and Albert struggle through the snow, out of the icy wind which batters the exposed plateau of Terra Nullius. They head for the thinly forested slope, to get what minimal shelter the trees afford.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone are tugging Callia's cart behind them. It is not an easy task, with the ice and snow and uneven ground. There is much slipping over and cussing, and soon the pair of them are soaked to the skin.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and Albert are tugging a cart behind them. It is not an easy task, with the ice and snow and uneven ground. There is much slipping over and cussing, and soon the pair of them are soaked to the skin.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone turns to Albert, helping him up from the umpteenth stumble. "c-c-can you se-see any s-sign of th-the others yet?" Albert squints around the bleak and wintry landscape.
Some little way off to the east, a thin plume of smoke rises against the lead-grey sky. Albert points to it, his face brightening.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone claps Albert on the back. "G-good jo-job I g-g-got you with me, eagle-eye! C'mon, c-c-can't be th-that much f-f-further!" The pair resume their voyage, eastwards.
A campsite has been set up here. Not a very professional one, it must be noted. But there is some crude shelter, out of the wind and snow-flurries. And a decent camp-fire.
Nearby, a group of scrawny, grubby urchins are kicking a football about, in a game curiously devoid of any rules. They are assisted, noisily, by an assortment of stray dogs.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and Albert struggle down from the snowy peaks, dragging Callia's cart behind her. At their arrival, the footballing youths look up, and scramble over to assist.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and Albert are glad of the assistance. They are soaked and freezing, and just about worn out. The Irregulars lead them to the fire, and dig blankets out of the cart.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and Albert peel off their wet clothes, and wrap themselves in blankets. Then they curl up beside the fire, and proceed to regale the camp with unlikely tales of their adventures, until calliaphone, at least, is nodding off as she speaks.
Albert does not look far behind, but he manages a few minutes longer. Just enough to give some orders to the gang. Sentries are set up, and scouts sent out to scavenge for food. And then the rest of the camp quietens down while its officers take some well-earned rest.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone stirs drowsily, as a detachment of scouts return from patrol. They have an air of barely-contained triumph, and they stumble across to the fire-side in great haste.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone props herself up on one elbow. A nearby off-duty sentry puts some more wood on the fire, and the returning party crouch down to give a report. The patrol-leader, a curly-haired oik known as Micky, digs in his knapsack. "Success" he annouces, as he draws out a plate, then reaches back into the bag again.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone watches eagerly, as Micky pulls out a fistful of . . . cake. At least, that's probably what it was. Now, it's more of a squishy dough, pink-and-yellow and sticky, on Micky's grubby palm.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone says, "oooh, nice work lads!" and then she frowns, considering how best to divide the booty. She attempts a head-count, but the trouble with the Irregulars is they won't keep still.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone sighs, and gets out her screwdriver. Using it as a crude cake-knife, she divides the single slice into as many pieces as possible. Takes one for herself, and puts another aside for Albert.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone then tips the remaining handful of squished-up cake crumbs onto the plate, and says "alright, free-for-all!"Something resembling a rugby scrum results, and within minutes the plate is clean.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone grins, sleepy again. She says, "anyone who missed out, gets first dibs on Uncle B's lunchbox, when we get south again." The army seem curiously content with this arrangement.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone settles back down by the fire, to sleep some more. She's still got catching up to do. Some of the patrol follow her example. Others go to take their turn on sentry-duty. And the camp falls quiet.
It is nearing dawn, when the weather takes a sudden turn for the hostile. At first, it's nothing more than a snow-flurry, a few delicate flakes spiralling gently down onto the camp. But before long, the flakes have thickened, like motes of dust becoming confetti. Innocent confetti. With a deadly intent.
They begin to settle upon the rough shelters around the fire, and they hiss and spit, as they enter into mortal combat with the still-red embers. The noise wakes a mongrel pup, curled up next to Albert. It blinks, and sneezes as a snowflake lands upon its nose. This in turn wakes Albert. He sits up, shivering, and pulling his blanket closer as he takes in the scene. All around the campfire, the landscape is whitening, softening, the rocky angles of the hillside melting into curves. Albert stares for a moment, and then shakes Callia awake.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone grumbles, and sits up. "whossamatterOhh" She gazes around, momentarily captivated by the scene, the hypnotic swirl of the thickening blizzard, the falling white against covering white.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone says "oh" again, and then turns to Albert. "s'pretty, but p'raps we should be pushing on, before it gets bad."Albert nods vehemently, and starts rousing the rest of the camp.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone wishes they had gotten breakfast before this turn of events. Travelling on an empty stomach is never fun. Even less so, in the snow.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone sighs. Ah well, they're a sturdy bunch. Except maybe Little George. Callia nudges Albert. "George better ride in the cart, the rest of us can push it." Albert agrees, and goes to supervise getting the smallest member of the army loaded into the transport, along with the blankets and other camp essentials. When they're all done, the Irregulars form up around the cart.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone says, "right you lot, quick march, best foot forward." And with much chattering of teeth, and muttering about breakfast, the Irregulars - and the cart - begin to move.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone can be heard, discussing navigation with Albert, as they vanish southwestwards into the treeline. "which way we goin?" "er. . . dunno, but there must be a town or something hereabouts. . .Ã¢â‚¬Â
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and her Irregulars trudge through here, skirting the treeline through the thickly-lying snow. They don't talk much, focussing on pushing the cart without tipping it over, or sliding down the slope.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and company continue westwards.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and her army of half-frozen urchins pass this way, heading northwest, dragging a cart and, to all appearances, lost.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and her Irregulars drag the almost snow-bound cart round under the cliff-face. They don't notice the scattered ducks hereabouts, and continue, southwestwards, in search of shelter.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone return, still dragging the cart, still grumbling about breakfast. "haven't we been this way before. . .?" they continue, northeast.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and her Irregulars struggle this way with their cart. They are tiring now, and morale is sinking, and then George, the littlest Irregular, from his vantage point in the cart, spies something.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone: George points. "Lookit I can see a place! Over there, over there!" Callia and Albert peer, and then Albert nods."s'right! there's something there calli, c'mon!"
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone squints, shrugs, and hurries along with the rest of the crew, towards the Observatory.
. . .some hours later. . .
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and the gang emerge from the Observatory - rested, but by no means fed. They head north-east, more by luck than judgement.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and the Irregulars return, still dragging the cart, still grumbling about breakfast. "haven't we been this way before. . .?" they continue, northeast.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and the Irregulars struggle up through the thick snow, from the southwest. they are a bedraggled bunch, all soaked and shivering, except Little George who gets to ride in the cart, with the blankets.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and Albert are in deep discussion over matters of navigation. "D'you think a map would help, Bert?""Hmmm, not sure. How'dyou use one?"
Uncle Bernard argues with himself quite forcefully, "You are being 'orrible, M.Poirot, I deed not use man-produit een my 'air," "Eet looks like eet. . ." "Eet looks like you used it on your top leep."
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone is uncertain how to answer this. She frowns, and glances up. Is it coming on to snow again? And still no breakfast.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone 's lieutenant catches her sleeve. "calli, look, a strange foreign bloke talking to himself!"
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone blinks. "how d'you know he's foreign? is the moustache? or the plus fours?"
Uncle Bernard squeals, "You take that back you egregious peeg!" "I shall not! Your top lip breesles like a dying caterpillar, one 'oo is wearing stilettos!" "OW dare you!" he shrieks, "Knobhead."
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone 's Irregulars are much encouraged by the prospect of a fight, even if they're not sure who the combatants are. they surge forward (as best they can through the snow), and begin to cheer.
Uncle Bernard notices the milling crowd, "Why! Eef it eesent some people. . ." "And you 'ave the nerve to call yourself the best deetective een Belgium, of course eet is some people. Eenglish, I would say."
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and Albert fight their way to the front of the crowd, while the rest of the gang lay bets, and engage in some small-scale punch-ups of their own (just out of sheer excitement).
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone says, "er, h'llo mister. do you happen to know which way's Joe's Diner?"
Uncle Bernard approaches, moustaches bristling, and - shooting his cuffs of his lovely white suit - holds forward one limp hand - expecting a brief shake, "Aye yam Ercule Bernard, the best detective in Belgium"
Uncle Bernard nudges himself out of the way, "And aye yam TeenTeen, the finest sleuth in all of Belgique/ Belgie." he gives himself a hard stare.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone blinks again. And then, squinting a little at her new acquaintance, she puts a decidedly sticky paw into the offered hand, and shakes it vigorously. "nice t'meet you mister Herculeteen."
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone shoves Albert forward to shake hands as well. "i'm callia" she says, "an' this is Albert, my lieutenant. we're detectives too y'know"
Uncle Bernard grabs Callia's offered hand with both of his, and with the left gives a limp handshake, the right a more forceful and exuberant one, "And what do you do Miss. . .?" "Shee ees a sleuth 'erself. . ."
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone 's gang gather round, jostling each other. a small terrier darts forward and snaps at Bernard's ankles. Callia sneezes.
Uncle Bernard sneers at himself, "Eet ees
Uncle Bernard snarls, "Eet ees quite obvious!" "Only because shee said so 'erself. . ." "I knew anyway, I was certain!" "Well, why did you not say?"
Uncle Bernard shrieks! "A small dog, 'e's not even white! get heem off!" "Alors! Zut! Damn this petit chien!" "Why do you let heem bite us?"accuse the Belgians. . .
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone looks at Albert dubiously. the look says, clearly enough, well whaddya reckon, run for it now, or hope the foreign geezer's got some breakfast on him? Albert's return look is undecided.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone says, "ROVER! stop BITING the foreign gent, he'll taste all funny an' upset your stomach." the dog, chastened, resorts to growwling, and fighting with the dozen or so other dogs in the company.
Uncle Bernard asks Callia, "Miss, I deduce from your outerwear that you are called Callia, and that you are a member of GERM, the clan - feared across the whole Island." "How did you know that?" "Badges."
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone sneezes again, and squints at the odd fella. "my outerwear? din't i just say i was callia?" she glances down at herself. "i ain't got much outerwear." she indicates her sodden blue suit.
Uncle Bernard looks incredulously on, "You are talking sheet. You know thees lady, you know who shee ees." "I do not know who shee ees." "Who are you Mees?" "I told you who shee ees. . ." "Shut up."
Uncle Bernard seem to come to some sort of accord, "Bon d'accord." "Indeed." "EEf we talk over one another wee will not be able to interrogate this lady, and will fail in our test. . ." "Agreed."
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone 's wits are dulled by cold and hunger. she says, "Bert, did he say GERM was feared?" Albert sneezes, and says,"m'not sure calli, but any minute now he's gonna punch hisself in the face"
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and the Irregulars look on hopefully. If the stranger does punch his own lights out, does that mean free dibs on any dosh he's carrying?
Uncle Bernard is not about to punch his lights out, but wanders off in the direction of CC404 arguing the toss something awful. . .
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and Albert stare at one another. "any idea what that was?" "nope" "ATCHOO!" "c'mon calli, let's get moving before the whole gang goes down with pneumonia."
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone concedes that Albert has a point. She nods to the Irregulars, and together they continue toiling through the snow. Pretty soon, they are even more hopelessly lost than they were before
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