(back to The Improbable Island Irregulars)
(back to The Return Home)
The Bingo Hall Stables
Lieutenant General Brynhildr heads into the Stable Block from the Courtyard, with Dave and Ari.
Accomplice Teh Dave grins as he sees a familiar form flopped on the mattress. "The mystery solved! We can tell the irregulars when we see them!"
Chief Inspector Ari releases Dave's elbow and bounces over for a closer look, she drops to her knees and peers at Calli, nose to nose, then looks up at Bryn and Dave "doesn't look like an imposter"
Chief Inspector Ari checks quickly to be sure she isn't tied up or nothin like that and scrambles to her feet with a yawn
Lieutenant General Brynhildr smiles. "See! I found her!"
Chief Inspector Ari beams at Bryn "you did! You are good at detecting"
Accomplice Teh Dave smiles and leans on Ari's shoulder, yawning. "Good work!" He looks around. "Yeah. . .not an imposter. . .only Calli or me could make this big a mess." He beams, but it ends in a yawn.
Lieutenant General Brynhildr smiles. "You two look sleepy."
Chief Inspector Ari smiles sleepily "gotta let the irregulars know she is okay then, now we just need Declan back"
Chief Inspector Ari asks Bryn "have you seen him maybe too?"
Accomplice Teh Dave nodnods, and waves vaguely towards Calli. "About to take her example. Oh!" He pulls a piece of paper out of his pocket andDraws some apparent scribbles on it.
Accomplice Teh Dave leaves the Note on top of calli's stuff, then shuffles over to Bryn to give her a hug goodnight.
Chief Inspector Ari gives Bryn a hug too "I am sleepy, thank you for hanging out tonight, I had lots of fun!"
Lieutenant General Brynhildr hugs Dave. "I will look for Declan but I don't think I know what he looks like. . ."
Lieutenant General Brynhildr smiles. "I am glad we got to swim!" She looks to Dave. "Did you like Ari's new tattoo? I held her hand."
Chief Inspector Ari says "goodnight Bryn"
Chief Inspector Ari beams "she did, I told him, tomorrow I will take off the bandaid"
Accomplice Teh Dave grins. "Haven't seen it yet. She still hasn't taken off the bandage. Hope she didn't hurt you at all." He chuckles and drapes himself over Ari tiredly.
Lieutenant General Brynhildr smiles. "It's pretty." She hugs them both once more. "Sleep well."
Accomplice Teh Dave nodnods, and returns the hug. "G'nite. See you'round." He starts heading for the Clotheshorse.
Chief Inspector Ari smiles "you too when you do!" and nuzzles Dave "to the clotheshorse?"
Chief Inspector Ari is tugged
calliaphone wakes. stretches. sits. investigates her pockets for food. finds only crumbs. investigates her other belongings. and finds a Note. She rubs her eyes with her fists. And reads the symbols.
calliaphone wonders aloud. "another telegram?" she has to hand it to those telegraphy people, they sure know how to find their mark. she reads the note again. "but who is it from?"
calliaphone decides that, whoever the mysterious sender of the note might have been, at least it is clear what she must do. Eben and Esc must be found. And given stickers.
The Bingo Hall Paddock
calliaphone appears here, barefoot and remarkably clean. And there, in the middle of the grass, she spies her cart. She hop-skippity-somersaults over to it, and scrambles into the back.
calliaphone greets her accordion, tin-opener, pianola, rubber ducks, bucket-of-tools, and so much else besides. she pauses to eat some chocolate, and then dives back into the stuff.
calliaphone is soon lost from view, under the piles of stuff. When she emerges, she's still pretty clean, although perhaps not quite so tidy. She is wearing her boots, and holding a roll of stickers.
Back at the Stables
calliaphone has some urgent business to attend to. Not just sticker redistribution, but urchin rescue as well. and then there's the little matter of having broken the drive.
calliaphone does not quite know how she's going to straighten that one out. But first things first. Breakfast. Trailing her tin-opener behind her, she heads up to the house to find food.
Some Time Later, in Improbable Central
calliaphone pedals into town, and parks her cart. Like her Auntie Vera would've said, "always start with the pub. the rest will follow natural-like."
calliaphone always had a lot of respect for Auntie Vera. A wise woman, she was. and no slouch with a welding torch, neither.
calliaphone vanishes into the pub.
calliaphone appears here, minus the moustache. She's hardly taken two steps from the door when Dan's out from behind the bar, with a hand on her shoulder, turning her round. "Out y'go, little vandal, out!"
calliaphone digs her heels in. Doesn't have much effect since Dan just picks her up and throws her over his shoulder. So she resorts to drumming said heels, tantrum-esque, and yelling.
calliaphone yells about "danger!" and yells about "a warning!" and yells about "love, between-" no, wait, no she doesn't do any of that crap. she yells "i'm NOT HERE FOR THE DRINK!"
calliaphone continues yelling, and throws in a few practise screams as well. kinda effective, since her mouth is dangerously close to Dan's ear. He winces, and holds her out at arm's length. "Not the drink?"
calliaphone has by now forgotten everything except practising her scream-technique. glasses shatter behind the bar but she don't notice. Dan shakes her vigorously. "WHY ARE YOU HERE STOP BREAKING MY GLASSES!"
calliaphone is finally shaken into silence. un-squinching her eyes, she peers at Dan. "alright alright, no need to yell." He starts to snarl, and she hastily adds, "information, s'what i come in for."
calliaphone continues quickly, before Dan's patience (such as it is) expires. "about my Irregulars. y'seen 'em? about so-high" she gestures, "sticky. led by a gingernut with gangly-elbows. . ."
calliaphone sticks her own elbows out to illustrate the point. "answer to the names of AlbertStinkerJimJackJohnRoverFidoLittleGeorge . . ." she continues reeling off names until Dan begs her to cease.
calliaphone finally runs out of breath, and looks up enquiringly at Dan. "well? have y'seen 'em?" "Well now. i might just have. vandals like you was they? they tried breaking in here and i chased 'em out."
calliaphone refrains from judging her landlord. this is the role of landlords and other officious types the world over, and she cannot fairly complain. she simply says, "which way?" Dan points, obligingly.
calliaphone follows Dan's gesture, and sighs as she sees the gate, through the PSK window. "out there? they could be anywhere by now." "so long as they're not here, that's fine by me."
calliaphone says, "well then, if you don't mind not holding me up any longer, i've got a bunch of almost-certainly-kidnapped urchins to track down" in tones of "and it's all your fault".
calliaphone lands with a splot on the beer-sticky carpet. "Ouff! Didya have to?" "You complained I was holding you up! Make your mind up, would you?"
calliaphone gets to her feet, grumbling, and makes her way to the door. Dan watches her go, just to make sure she really does leave and doesn't try to get into the cellar. And then he returns to the bar.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd marches out of Dr Paprika's surgery, medical bag over one arm, outdoor cloak over the other. Her apron gleams, crisp as fresh snow, and her eyes glint like newly sharpened steel.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd is followed out by a straggling line of small, untidy urchins & puppies. Not just any ones, but Calliaphone's Irregular's, specifically. Untidiness seems to be their natural state, and not even
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd will attempt to contravene that particular law of nature. However, she does appear to have had an effect on their cleanliness. Every last one of
calliaphone's Irregulars is spotless. Hair or fur de-matted and clipped. Coats and britches and pockets de-gunged. Ears combed or scrubbed to a fearsome glow. Not a snot-slick nor a nit nor a flea to be seen
and a strong scent of carbolic hangs upon the air.
The overall effect is . . . gloomy.
calliaphone's Irregulars follow meekly after Sister Murgatroyd, hands in pockets, eyes downcast. They are sadly lacking in spirit and verve. Although their colds do seem to have been cured.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd, glinting with satisfaction at a Job Well Done, leads her charges to the gate. "Now come along, no dawdling."and she counts each one of them out as they pass through the gate. Then, with a nod,
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd follows the Irregulars out, into the jungle. Back at the door to the surgery, Dr Paprika watches them go, mopping his (suddenly lined) forehead with a spotted silk handkerchief.
Limp with relief, he turns and disappears into his office
calliaphone pedals into town and parks outside the council offices. jumping down, she zooms inside to make enquiries.
calliaphone emerges, after a few minutes, accompanied by an official-lookin' zombie, in a peaked cap, with a clip-board.
calliaphone is deep in conversation with said zombie. there is much gesturing (by calliaphone, not the zombie. else bits would be flyin' all over) - apparently to indicate persons of diminutive height.
calliaphone also does a sticky-out thing with her elbows, and pulls a particular expression. For those who have met her Lieutenant, Albert, the likeness is startling. But the zombie shakes his head.
calliaphone trots over to pick up the zombie-official's ear, and returns it to him. He receives with a murmur of "Braaains. . ." and replaces it carefully.
calliaphone resumes her earlier topic. "and you really haven't seen them? you can't think of anywhere they might've been?" The zombie looks at her, mournfully apologetic, and says "Braaaaains."
calliaphone frowns. "Braaaaains?" She looks round, doubtfully, at the only eating-house in town. "you think so? i s'pose if they wuz really hungry. . .Little George can make a right ol' racket."
calliaphone offers a hand to the zombie to shake. But the zombie, wise to her enthusiasm, politely declines, murmuring "Braaaaains. . .." and retreats to the safety of his desk inside the council building.
calliaphone turns round, and trots over to the restaurant, to see if she can locate any clues.
Accomplice Teh Dave bounces into town, humming the questing song and peering at the beerstained napkin in his hand. "The something something of something. . .ah well, I'll figure it out."
calliaphone emerges from the restaurant, deep in thought. And not looking where she is going.
Accomplice Teh Dave looks up from the napkin just in time to crash into callia, and momentum takes its course, namely directly into the cart. Dave's tail dangles over his head as he looks up at her. "Oh hallo calli!
calliaphone spread-eagled in the . . . let's hope it's just dirt, yeh? . . . boggles dazedly at Dave. "oufff" she finally manages. then "hullo Dave. did the Drive turn you upside down?"
Accomplice Teh Dave attempts to tilt his head, realizes he can't, and scrambles to a sitting position, rightside-up. "Ah, no, just the tumble." He sniffs curiously. "You're. . .er. . ." He boggles. "Clean!"
calliaphone looks relieved to see Dave right-side-up again. She peers down at herself, and pulls a face. "oh, that." she says. "yeh. they kinda cleaned me up, in that place they take you, after. . ."
calliaphone finishes, looking suddenly downcast, "after, y'know. . . when you find the drive-thingy."
Accomplice Teh Dave nods, and gives callia a quick hug. "Well, just means you've gotta work extra hard to get your normal grub back, right?" He tilts his head. "Oh! Eben and Esc want stickers! I told 'em I'd tell
Accomplice Teh Dave shoos off a gremlin. "you." he grins.
calliaphone grins back. she says, "i know! i know they want 'em. 'cause i got a mysterious telegram!" she digs in her pocket for the blueprint note, and finds . . . two other telegrams.
Accomplice Teh Dave grins at the Blueprint, then tilts his head at the other telegrams. "What's those?" He points.
calliaphone waves these at Dave as well. "oh, and and and! a bicycle boy gave me these an' said to come home so i did." truncated version, there.
Accomplice Teh Dave nodnods and tilts his head, ear flicking itself for a moment. He breaks into a wide grin. "Oh, so you got the telegrams! We were worried, but now you're back!" He hauls himself to his feet.
calliaphone grins back. and suddenly returns Dave's earlier hug, with ADDED IMPACT. "s'good to see you. i'll find esc and eben about them stickers real soon" but then she remembers, she's got a mission.
calliaphone releases Dave hastily, and leaps into her cart. "i can't stay, though - i gotta find my gang an' rescue them!" Putting her cart into gear,
calliaphone waves her cap, starts pedalling, and is soon just a cloud of . . . let's still hope it's just dust, eh? . . . and a whirr of gears through the gate.
Accomplice Teh Dave waves after callia, then bounces towards the gates, humming the questing song. He pauses at the gates. "Wait. . .gang?" He scritches an ear, then shrugs. It'll all work out, he's sure.
Accomplice Teh Dave heads off into the Jungle, this time singing the Questing Song rather loudly, and slightly off-key.
Later, in Pleasantville
calliaphone pedals her cart into Pleasantville, and scans the place for signs of uchin-ness. She is, however, distracted, by the sight of a certain steakhouse. She digs in her pockets for reqs.
calliaphone frowns, doing some Complicated Maths. and drops all her reqs on the floor. Clambering down from her cart, she collects them back up, and straightens, clonking her head on the bottom of the cart.
calliaphone drops all the reqs again, and sits back down, cross-eyed.
calliaphone sighs, and gives up on the maths thing. she picks up most of the reqs and stows them in her pockets, and then staggers dizzily around for a bit, until her brain has sorted out which way is up.
calliaphone almost forgets why she's come here. But when she trips over the picket fence outside Dr Paprika's, and lands head-first in his begonias, it suddenly comes back to her.
calliaphone extricates herself from the flower-bed, and totters over to the Dr's office, to hammer on the door. After an abnormally long pause, there's a creeeak, as the door opens a fraction.
calliaphone says, "HI THERE! HALLO." and attempts to put a hand through the crack in the door, for shaking purposes. there's a pathetic whimper from within.
calliaphone frowns, and then shrugs, and pulls her hand back out. whatever it is in there, it's obviously terrified. no need to make matters worse.
calliaphone yells, gently, "I'M LOOKING FOR MY GANG, HAVE YOU SEEN 'EM?" Gently, but . . . y'know. Clearly. In case the other party is hysterical or something. Gotta be clear.
calliaphone continues, when she doesn't get any immediate reply. Adding more detail. Lots of it. Highly colourful and descriptive details, with actions and a bit of acting to help illustrate matters.
calliaphone is, in fact, just doing her now-nearly-famous impression of Albert scolding Little George for eating all the pies, when there is a horrified yelp of recognition from within. And the door slams shut.
calliaphone hammers on the door again, because . . . well, it worked last time. But apart from the sound of muffled sobbing on the far side of the solid oak slab, there's no indication she's even getting heard.
calliaphone, eventually, gives up. Backing away from the door, she returns to her cart, looking solemn. This mystery is getting beyond her. Much more of this, and she'll have to ask someone who knows.
calliaphone thinks of Bishop, immediately. He knows a lot of things, that Bishop. She brightens, and climbs back into the driving seat. She will return home and demand advice from Bishop! Sure to succeed!
calliaphone pedals back out of town, and away to the south.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd marches into Improbable Central, accompanied by a straggling column of excessively clean urchins and puppies, whose downcast expressions convey their opinion of the current status quo.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd, however, is far from downcast. She is glinting with the promise of a new day dawning. As her charges straggle into the town square, she turns round and begins issuing brisk commands.
calliaphone's Irregulars, for that is who they are, look scandalised. Albert speaks up. "Wot,'ere, Sister? But, we ain't even had breakfast yet!"Little George's bottom lip quivers, in preparation.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd puts her hands on her hips, and looks down at Albert. She says, in tones brisk enough to take the skin off a walrus, "Quite right! No good exercising on a full stomach!"
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd continues, before Albert can marshall a response. "Come along, all of you. The sooner you do your calisthenics, the sooner we can all have breakfast!"
calliaphone's Irregulars subside into muttering. They know what that means. Porridge. Eughh, disgusting. They know what makes a proper breakfast, and it isn't livestock feed.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd is oblivious to the muttering. She resumes calling the instructions. "Line up in two rows. Chins up! Up, Robert!" this last directed at Stinker, who scowls but complies.
Albert gives a helpless look to the rest of the gang, as he falls into line. It's going to take a miracle to get them out of this one. He's stout-hearted and loyal to his men, but, this. . .
Little George begins to whimper, snottily. There's a flash of white apron, a crackle of starch, and Sister Murgatroyd has his chin between finger and thumb, tilting it up so she can peer at his tonsils.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd says, "hrmm, perhaps we should have taken them out. But maybe not. A spot of tonic might do the trick. Open wide now." But
Little George has decided to make a stand. He folds his arms and refuses.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd's glint acquires an edge that makes the other Irregulars shudder. They watch, in horrified fascination, the developing stand-off. But, just then,
calliaphone comes pedalling into town. At first, she does not see the Irregulars. She's lost in gloomy introspections of her own, and is about to swing round across the north-side of town, heading home, when. . .
Albert glances up. He boggles, then nudges Stinker, and points surreptitiously. Stinker follows the gesture, and then he too boggles.
calliaphone continues pedalling, blithely unaware, while along the lines of Irregulars, the nudge is passed. Elbow to ribs, Stinker to Jim to Jack to John to Micky, and so in a ripple of hope and excitement.
Even the puppies start catching the vibe, and Fido (suddenly emboldened to express himself honestly) widdles on a nearby fire-hydrant. And the rest of
calliaphone's Irregulars, recognising that this is the miracle they were needing, set up a flurry of frantic waving-and-hopping-about - somehow unnoticed by
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd, mostly on account of
Little George who is intent on escalating matters to Defcon full-scale-tantrum, rather than take another spoonful of that foul concoction. And in fact, it's this which finally gets
calliaphone's attention, just as she's about to exit the town. Glancing up to see what the kerfuffle's all about,
calliaphone gasps. "Bert? The gang?" And, by the looks of things, their kidnapper! Yanking the steering over, she hauls up hard on the brakes. Too hard.
Albert's eyes widen. He shouts "Wotchout there!" and Sister Murgatroyd looks up, just as
calliaphone's cart wobbles. And teeters. And leeeans up onto two wheels. For an absurdly long and precarious moment it looks like it might recover. And then . . . it changes its mind, and over it goes with CRASH of pianola workings and a chaos of rubber ducks and towels and tools and in their midst one yowling yelling sprawling pink-plaited engineer.
All at once there is mayhem in the square. The Irregulars break ranks, running this way and that, adding their yelps and yips and yaps and yeehaws to the general melee. But,
Albert, ever the tactician, is onto the opportunity. "Sister!" he says, quick as a flash, "Look! We gots a Traffic Incident! Shall I organise a rescue?
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd is also no slouch, however. She's already at the scene, picking Callia out of the wreckage, and holding her up by the ankles to inspect for damage. Which, to judge by the ongoing yelling, is slight.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd nods approvingly to Albert. "Quite right," she says briskly, and permits herself a glint. She'll make model citizens yet, of these unlikely little scamps. "Straighten things up for the . . ."
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd hesitates, considering her latest patient. And decides to give the benefit of the doubt. ". . .for the lady." And very quietly, in the background,
Stinker collars Little George and starts steering him towards the cart.
Albert, meanwhile, is directing operations, in fact, in his Best Stentorian Tones. While simultaneously, another ripple passes through the ranks. This one loaded with sedition.
calliaphone, picking up the ripple, ceases yelling, as Sister Murgatroyd turns her right-side-up, and sets her on her feet.
calliaphone staggers, and steadies, and says, "thankya ma'am!" glancing surreptitiously at
Albert . And he, so quick you could blink and miss it, gives her a loose salute, and turns back to his task. "Heave ho, lads!" With a groan, the cart is righted, and rubber ducks'n' tools'n'towels, and, subtly among them, several small and over-excited puppies, are bundled into the back. And the Irregulars group themselves around the cart.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd eyes Callia critically, noting the skinny-ness, the lingering cleanness, and the still-not-quite-vanished whiff of hospitals about her. Nodding briskly, she reaches for her tonic bottle.
Stinker and Albert, while Sister Murgatroyd's otherwise occupied, heave Little George over the side among the puppies, and bid him keep his head down and his mouth shut.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd says "What you need, my girl, is a bit of building-up. Plenty of beef tea, and ox liver, and a programme of vigorous exercise should set you right. And of course, a dose of tonic, thrice daily."
calliaphone looks horrified, and starts to back away.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd advances, brandishing the tonic.
calliaphone's Irregulars, collectively, hold their breath. Their Captain's a trooper. She'll take one for the team, if it's the only way, but . . . not if she can help it.
calliaphone's back bumps against the driving seat. She looks wildly around. And springs into a back-flip, to land at the controls.
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd says "Not so fast, you little scallywag" but she's too late. With a yell of "TO ME, IRREGULARS, TO ME!"
calliaphone shifts the gears, and starts pedalling for all she's worth. And all around the cart, hands catch hold of wooden boards, and boots thud alongside in unison, then fall silent as
calliaphone's Irregulars swing themselves aboard.
calliaphone yells "HOLD TIGHT EVERYONE!" and the cart, bristling with arms and legs, and clamouring with cheers, reaches escape velocity. There's a rattle of rough suspension over cobbles, and
calliaphone, cart, Irregulars and all disappear through the gate and out into the jungle, leaving
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd alone in the town square. For a moment, she looks like she might go after them. But in truth, she knows when she's lost a round. And like her grandmother always said, (usually with reference to the many Murgatroyd males) "it's no good crying over escaped ruffians"
Sister Penelope Anne Murgatroyd contents herself with a fierce shake of a fist. And then her brisk good-humour reasserts itself. Gathering her outdoor cloak around her, she sweeps out of the outpost, to report to Matron.
Chief Inspector Ari peeks out of the Spiderkitty, looks like the irregulars found Calli and no one had tonic even, she sighs in relief and edges her way into the square
Chief Inspector Ari wonders who that strange lady was in pursuit, probably the kidnapper but does that mean that the irregulars were kidnapped too?
Chief Inspector Ari sets off into the jungle in search of her friends