Archive for June, 2020

Dread Rocks Holiday part 12

June 17, 2020

The Nazi brushed a fragment of dust off his otherwise immaculate uniform and stared expressionlessly at Polkinghorn. ‘Your name?’

‘Cubert Polkinghorn, your… your…’ the little squirt floundered. ‘Your Naziness. This is my cathedral.’

‘No longer!’ snapped the Obergruppenführer. ‘I claim it on behalf of the Fourth Reich.’

The Captain and I glanced at each other. The Fourth Reich! It was always inevitable, but who would have thought they would finally show up here underneath Dread Rocks Lighthouse.

Polkinghorn’s face went an off-shade of cerise. ‘No, I can’t allow that. This is my cathedral and I’m in the middle of a jolly important ritual actually. ‘

The Obergruppenführer looked round him, a sneer playing around his lips. ‘A ritual? With no acolytes? No sacrifice?’

‘You frightened them off,’ Polkinghorn squeaked. 

‘Whereas I have brought both acolytes,’ he pointed at his men, ‘and a sacrifice.’ He gestured towards the goat which was now munching one of the discarded robes. 

Polkinghorn staled his little feet. ‘This isn’t fair!’

‘Idiot!’ I muttered under my breath. ‘Expecting fairness from a devil-worshipping Nazi!’

The Captain asked me quietly if id noticed anything odd.

‘Pretty much everything, dear boy!’

He pointed out that the Obergruppenführer wasn’t German.

By Jove, he was right! A non-Teutonic stormtrooper! Who would’ve conceived of such a thing?

‘I thought his English was rather good,’ I whispered. ‘I wonder who he is?’

‘His name is Derek Loveday,’ the Captain told me. ‘We were at Eton together.’

I was shocked into speechlessness. ‘An old Etonian? But that marvellous establishment has always produced such fine and upstanding citizens.’

‘He was a a scholarship boy,’ explained the Captain, sadly. ‘From Greenford.’

But we were spared any further discussion on the infiltration of our fine public school system by oiks. The goat had been snuffling about the cavern and had found us and was trying to nibble my sou’wester.  I tried to shoo it off as quietly as I could, but the wretched creature was determined. Possibly knew it was its last supper. Unfortunately the kerfuffle had been noticed by the Nazi who, with a click of his fingers, had sent one of his soldiers to investigate. 

Within moments the Captain and I were being held at gunpoint, our arms aloft, as the damn Fascist stared at us coolly. It was soon obvious that he didn’t recognise either of us and just assumed that we were acolytes of Polkinghorn. I glanced at our assumed leader. Would he give us away?

‘Excellent,’ said the Obergruppenführer. ‘Human sacrifices are always more effective than a goat.’

Oh Lor’! It seems I had jumped out of the frying pan only to land back in the same frying pan.

As a man I have few weaknesses. I am brave, handsome, can drink even the darling Queen Mother under the table… but I’m not known for clamping my cakehole shut at those rare times when keeping schtum is the the wisest course of action. But I was cold, wet, tired, hungry, dying for both a jimmy Riddle and the largest Scotch known to man. I’d narrowly missed being sacrificed earlier today and the odds were against another fortuitous escape. Dammit, I wasn’t going to stand here being threatened by a Nazi… and  not even an authentic sausage-eater to boot, but a quisling British one. 

I put my hands down. Keeping my tone calm but steely, I looked the Obergruppenführer squarely in the eyes.

‘I’m a reasonable chap, old thing, but I’ve had enough. And I tell you what you’re going to do. You’ll let my chum and me go, then you and your goose-stepping nancy-boys are going to bugger off pronto as far away from Her Majesty’s territory as humanly possible – and we’ll say no more about it. I’ll get a hot bath and a drink, you don’t get executed for high treason, everybody’s happy.’ I pointed at Polkinghorn. ‘And you get to do what you like with Cubert here. I think our prisons are full enough these days without the likes of him cluttering them up.’ 

I grabbed the Captain by the arm. ‘Come along old bean, let’s hither aloft to the lighthouse. I can lend you some dry socks and we can have a round of toast each.’ To the Captain’s astonishment, I proceeded to march him speedily towards the exit to the lighthouse. 

‘Halt!’

No, I didn’t think it would work. 

Loveday stared at us keenly, his cold eyes piercing me down to my very soul. I must say, he had the whole Nazi thing off to a tee. Apart from the lack of an accent, I’d never have pegged him as a cove from Greenford.

‘Desmond Stirling,’ he suddenly said.

‘Sir Desmond,’ I chided. 

‘How appropriate that you of all people are here as witness to the birth of the Fourth Reich,’ the scoundrel laughed. ‘And that your spilt blood will be the breast milk which will feed the newborn.

Polkinghorn interjected, ‘That was my idea too.’

The Obergruppenführer gestured to one of his men and pointed at Polkinghorn. ‘If this one speaks again, shoot him.’

Polkinghorn emitted a little squeak from both ends. 

‘So what is this all about, eh?’ I asked, partially to stall for time, but also, like most writers, I’m always harvesting ideas for future use. So much easier to plunder a genuine crackpot’s megalomaniacal rantings then have to write them oneself. Loveday didn’t disappoint.

‘Since our lamentable defeat in 1945, we have waited in the shadows to return one day and wipe out the twin scourge of democracy and liberalism. Now, with the demonic power of Dread Rocks Lighthouse to light our way, we will take our rightful place as rulers of the entire world!’ He cackled during this last bit which resulted in some unsightly drool. It was obviously habitual as one of the soldiers automatically stepped forward and wiped his officer’s face with a hanky.

The Obergruppenführer raised his arms over-dramatically. ‘Unleash the satanic power of the Hell-Dong!’

He pointed at me. ‘Prepare him for their sacrifice!’

Here we go again, I thought. I shrugged at the Captain. We were inevitably toast, but we could at least conk out with our dignity intact. 

One of the stormtroopers gestured brusquely at me. I wasn’t clambering onto that altar of my own volition, they’d have to lift me up and deposit me themselves. I didn’t relish being manhandled in the nude by a couple of young, square-jawed uniformed men, but these things are sent to try us.  

But before I could even demand they warmed their hands before laying their nazi hands on me, a bloodcurdling scream rent the air. We all, the Obergruppenführer included, turned to look for the source of that spine-chilling noise. 

The Empty Diving Suit had its hands around the neck of one of the Nazis, squeezing with a supernatural ferocity. The soldier was powerless to resist, and before our very eyes, he sank to the ground and then just…. disintegrated into dust. Barely had the hapless Seig-Heiler vanished than the Diving Suit had grabbed another of the soldiers. Within seconds he too was just swirling particles.

‘Stop him!’ the Obergruppenführer screamed. But how exactly do you kill an empty suit? The remaining soldiers raised their rifles and started to fire william-nilliam at the Diving Suit, but to no avail. Yet more soldiers succumbed to the terrifying gloved hands of the Suit.

‘Protect me,’ the Obergruppenführer demanded of the surviving soldiers, who frankly weren’t making a particularly tip-top job of protecting themselves. 

Just as I was about to suggest to the Captain that we take advantage of this distraction, there was a tremendous explosion from high above us. Instinctively, we all eyeballed upwards. A bloody great hole had been ripped in the ceiling of the cavern, and the ocean was cascading down like Niagara. As the water hit the ground it rebounded with a roar, knocking the remaining soldiers down like skittles. 

That’s it, I decided, I’ve had more than enough of this palaver, and legged it towards the exit to the lighthouse. I assumed the Captain was following me if he had any nous which I was pretty sure he did. The remaining soldiers were still screaming, though I was unsure if this was due to the water or the Diving Suit. 

The water was up to my knees by now, and brass monkeys it was too. Any higher and I feared for the future of my orchestras. I scrambled though the hole in the wall, leapt for the lowest rung and began to climb the ladder. I felt something grab my leg as I commenced the climb. I assumed it was the Captain, but when I glanced down it was that wretch Polkinghorn. His face was a mask of terror and he was trying to clamber past me up the ladder. I wasn’t having any of that nonsense; he could wait his bally turn. I kicked out at him and tried to scramble upwards faster. Polkinghorn overbalanced and fell back into the swirling water. I dismissed the toad from my mind and continued my ascent. If he’d got to his age without learning to swim then he deserved to drown.

I briefly wondered where the Captain was, but as he was a trained professional I knew he could take care of himself, unlike that snivelling weed Polkinghorn.

My arms ached. I’m not as young as I used to be, and while still a fine specimen of manhood for my age, the events of the previous 24 hours had taken a brutal toll. I looked upwards to see how far I had yet to climb. I still couldn’t see the top of the ladder. I took a deep breath and persevered. 

A wave of icy water swirled around my head, taking me by such surprise I nearly lost my grip on the rungs of the ladder. The sea was now up to the level of my chest, then my neck. Within seconds it would be over my head. 

Yours truly was doomed!

Dread Rocks Holiday part 9

The Nazi brushed a fragment of dust off his otherwise immaculate uniform and stared expressionlessly at Polkinghorn. ‘Your name?’

‘Cubert Polkinghorn, your… your…’ the little squirt floundered. ‘Your Naziness. This is my cathedral.’

‘No longer!’ snapped the Obergruppenführer. ‘I claim it on behalf of the Fourth Reich.’

The Captain and I glanced at each other. The Fourth Reich! It was always inevitable, but who would have thought they would finally show up here underneath Dread Rocks Lighthouse.

Polkinghorn’s face went an off-shade of cerise. ‘No, I can’t allow that. This is my cathedral and I’m in the middle of a jolly important ritual actually. ‘

The Obergruppenführer looked round him, a sneer playing around his lips. ‘A ritual? With no acolytes? No sacrifice?’

‘You frightened them off,’ Polkinghorn squeaked. 

‘Whereas I have brought both acolytes,’ he pointed at his men, ‘and a sacrifice.’ He gestured towards the goat which was now munching one of the discarded robes. 

Polkinghorn staled his little feet. ‘This isn’t fair!’

‘Idiot!’ I muttered under my breath. ‘Expecting fairness from a devil-worshipping Nazi!’

The Captain asked me quietly if id noticed anything odd.

‘Pretty much everything, dear boy!’

He pointed out that the Obergruppenführer wasn’t German.

By Jove, he was right! A non-Teutonic stormtrooper! Who would’ve conceived of such a thing?

‘I thought his English was rather good,’ I whispered. ‘I wonder who he is?’

‘His name is Derek Loveday,’ the Captain told me. ‘We were at Eton together.’

I was shocked into speechlessness. ‘An old Etonian? But they’ve always produced such fine and upstanding citizens.’

‘He was a a scholarship boy,’ explained the Captain, sadly. ‘From Greenford.’

But we were spared any further discussion on the infiltration of our fine public school system by oiks. The goat had been snuffling about the cavern and had found us and was trying to nibble my sou’wester.  I tried to shoo it off as quietly as I could, but the wretched creature was determined. Possibly knew it was its last supper. Unfortunately the kerfuffle had been noticed by the Nazi who, with a click of his fingers, had sent one of his soldiers to investigate. 

Within moments the Captain and I were being held at gunpoint, our arms aloft, as the damn Fascist stared at us coolly. It was soon obvious that he didn’t recognise either of us and just assumed that we were acolytes of Polkinghorn. I glanced at our assumed leader. Would he give us away?

‘Excellent,’ said the Obergruppenführer. ‘Human sacrifices are always more effective than a goat.’

Oh Lor’! It seems I had jumped out of the frying pan only to land back in the same frying pan.

As a man I have few weaknesses. I am brave, handsome, can drink even the darling Queen Mother under the table… but I’m not known for clamping my cakehole shut at those rare times when keeping schtum is the the wisest course of action. But I was cold, wet, tired, hungry, dying for both a jimmy Riddle and the largest Scotch known to man. I’d narrowly missed being sacrificed earlier today and the odds were against another fortuitous escape. Dammit, I wasn’t going to stand here being threatened by a Nazi… and  not even an authentic sausage-eater to boot, but a quisling British one. 

I put my hands down. Keeping my tone calm but steely, I looked the Obergruppenführer squarely in the eyes.

‘I’m a reasonable chap, old thing, but I’ve had enough. And I tell you what you’re going to do. You’ll let my chum and me go, then you and your goose-stepping nancy-boys are going to bugger off pronto as far away from Her Majesty’s territory as humanly possible – and we’ll say no more about it. I’ll get a hot bath and a drink, you don’t get executed for high treason, everybody’s happy.’ I pointed at Polkinghorn. ‘And you get to do what you like with Cubert here. I think our prisons are full enough these days without the likes of him cluttering them up.’ 

I grabbed the Captain by the arm. ‘Come along old bean, let’s hither aloft to the lighthouse. I can lend you some dry socks and we can have a round of toast each.’ To the Captain’s astonishment, I proceeded to march him speedily towards the exit to the lighthouse. 

‘Halt!’

No, I didn’t think it would work. 

Loveday stared at us keenly, his cold eyes piercing me down to my very soul. I must say, he had the whole Nazi thing off to a tee. Apart from the lack of an accent, I’d never have pegged him as a cove from Greenford.

‘Desmond Stirling,’ he suddenly said.

Sir Desmond,’ I chided. 

‘How appropriate that you of all people are here as witness to the birth of the Fourth Reich,’ the scoundrel laughed. ‘And that your spilt blood will be the breast milk which will feed the newborn.

Polkinghorn interjected, ‘That was my idea too.’

The Obergruppenführer gestured to one of his men and pointed at Polkinghorn. ‘If this one speaks again, shoot him.’

Polkinghorn emitted a little squeak from both ends. 

‘So what is this all about, eh?’ I asked, partially to stall for time, but also, like most writers, I’m always harvesting ideas for future use. So much easier to plunder a genuine crackpot’s megalomaniacal rantings then have to write them oneself. Loveday didn’t disappoint.

‘Since our lamentable defeat in 1945, we have waited in the shadows to return one day and wipe out the twin scourge of democracy and liberalism. Now, with the demonic power of Dread Rocks Lighthouse to light our way, we will take our rightful place as rulers of the entire world!’ He cackled during this last bit which resulted in some unsightly drool. It was obviously habitual as one of the soldiers automatically stepped forward and wiped his officer’s face with a hanky.

The Obergruppenführer raised his arms over-dramatically. ‘Unleash the satanic power of the Hell-Dong!’

He pointed at me. ‘Prepare him for their sacrifice!’

Here we go again, I thought. I shrugged at the Captain. We were inevitably toast, but we could at least conk out with our dignity intact. 

One of the stormtroopers gestured brusquely at me. I wasn’t clambering onto that altar of my own volition, they’d have to lift me up and deposit me themselves. I didn’t relish being manhandled in the nude by a couple of young, square-jawed uniformed men, but these things are sent to try us.  

But before I could even demand they warmed their hands before laying their nazi hands on me, a bloodcurdling scream rent the air. We all, the Obergruppenführer included, turned to look for the source of that spine-chilling noise. 

The Empty Diving Suit had its hands around the neck of one of the Nazis, squeezing with a supernatural ferocity. The soldier was powerless to resist, and before our very eyes, he sank to the ground and then just…. disintegrated into dust. Barely had the hapless Seig-Heiler vanished than the Diving Suit had grabbed another of the soldiers. Within seconds he too was just swirling particles.

‘Stop him!’ the Obergruppenführer screamed. But how exactly do you kill an empty suit? The remaining soldiers raised their rifles and started to fire william-nilliam at the Diving Suit, but to no avail. Yet more soldiers succumbed to the terrifying gloved hands of the Suit.

‘Protect me,’ the Obergruppenführer demanded of the surviving soldiers, who frankly weren’t making a particularly tip-top job of protecting themselves. 

Just as I was about to suggest to the Captain that we take advantage of this distraction, there was a tremendous explosion from high above us. Instinctively, we all eyeballed upwards. A bloody great hole had been ripped in the ceiling of the cavern, and the ocean was cascading down like Niagara. As the water hit the ground it rebounded with a roar, knocking the remaining soldiers down like skittles. 

That’s it, I decided, I’ve had more than enough of this palaver, and legged it towards the exit to the lighthouse. I assumed the Captain was following me if he had any nous which I was pretty sure he did. The remaining soldiers were still screaming, though I was unsure if this was due to the water or the Diving Suit. 

The water was up to my knees by now, and brass monkeys it was too. Any higher and I feared for the future of my orchestras. I scrambled though the hole in the wall, leapt for the lowest rung and began to climb the ladder. I felt something grab my leg as I commenced the climb. I assumed it was the Captain, but when I glanced down it was that wretch Polkinghorn. His face was a mask of terror and he was trying to clamber past me up the ladder. I wasn’t having any of that nonsense; he could wait his bally turn. I kicked out at him and tried to scramble upwards faster. Polkinghorn overbalanced and fell back into the swirling water. I dismissed the toad from my mind and continued my ascent. If he’d got to his age without learning to swim then he deserved to drown.

I briefly wondered where the Captain was, but as he was a trained professional I knew he could take care of himself, unlike that snivelling weed Polkinghorn.

My arms ached. I’m not as young as I used to be, and while still a fine specimen of manhood for my age, the events of the previous 24 hours had taken a brutal toll. I looked upwards to see how far I had yet to climb. I still couldn’t see the top of the ladder. I took a deep breath and persevered. 

A wave of icy water swirled around my head, taking me by such surprise I nearly lost my grip on the rungs of the ladder. The sea was now up to the level of my chest, then my neck. Within seconds it would be over my head. 

Yours truly was doomed!

To be concluded...

..

Dread Rocks Holiday part 11

June 3, 2020

But as Cubert Polkinghorn was about to plunge the business end of his gleaming knife into my manly chest, Old Jethro clutched his master’s arm, causing the knife to scuttle into a corner of the cavern.

Polkinghorn was outraged. ‘How dare you molest your master as he is about to perform a ritual!’ he squealed, more petulantly that outraged, I thought.

‘But Master,’ pleaded Old Jethro. ‘The diving suit which walks by itself…’

‘What of it?’ Polkinghorn spat impatiently.

‘It be a sign,’ pleaded Jethro. ‘A sign that disaster is nearby.’

‘We’re devil-worshippers,’ said Polkinghorn, unnecessarily sarcastically, in my opinion. ‘We like disaster.’

‘Even if the disaster is for you?’ I asked him, innocently.

Polkinghorn laughed. ‘As you were the only one to see this so-called diving suit, I should think the disaster is yours, Sir Desmond.’

‘But Master, ‘Old Jethro continued, ‘Death and destruction always follows the appearance of the Empty Diver. Every sailor on this coast knows that.’

There was a murmur of assent from the acolytes.

Polkinghorn sneered and clicked his fingers for the knife to be retrieved. No one moved.

I do enjoy a touch of dissent in the ranks. Unless it’s union-led of course.

Polkinghorn was getting rather irked by now. ‘The ritual must take place now!’ He actually stamped his little feet. ‘Otherwise we will miss our chance’

The acolytes shuffled nervously, looking at each other.

I became aware of something in the corner of my eye. I glanced around, and there was the Empty Diving Suit standing by the hole in the cavern from where I had entered. It made a beckoning gesture with its hand. Was that aimed at me?

There was a shriek. The old dear from the tobacconists had seen the Diving Suit too.

This was followed by the pandemonium to which the lower orders succumb when not ruled firmly by their betters. The acolytes started making a frightful racket and running hither and thither, screeching like monkeys whose tails have been set alight. Polkinghorn raised his arms and his voice, but neither had the slightest effect.

I decided that buggering off pronto was the better part of valour, so I surreptitiously slipped off the altar. But where to go? The route back to the lighthouse meant approaching the Diving Suit, but without a map I could imagine being easily lost in the catacombs down here. Before I could ponder this dilemma any further, a hand grabbed my arm.

‘This way, sir.’

It was the acolyte who had removed his Army & Navy underpants. He was in his thirties, good-looking in rugged way, with muscularity chiselled on the battlefield, not in a pansy gym. Now it seemed obvious he was a Forces man. He handed me my sou’wester.

‘Captain Nigel Hardwicke-Moneyshot. Special Forces Anti-occult Unit. Undercover. We knew there was something big going on here.’

Anti-occult! I had written the initial proposal for such a unit back in the 1950s, commissioned by darling Winnie himself. Adolf and his murky mob had thrown any demonic shenanigans they could at us, and I warned that we needed to be better prepared the next time. But that oik Wilson later put the kibbosh on the proposal and so we had always been, as far as I knew, open to supernatural attack from any tinpot dictator with a cauldron and a family-size pack of eye of newt. 

‘Delighted to meet you, Captain?’ I clasped his hand. His grip was pleasingly masculine. ‘But is that buffoon Polkinghorn really worth your attention?’ I queried.

‘Don’t underestimate him,’ the Captain said. ‘There’s more to all this than meets the eye. Come on, let’s get out of here.’

He started to bustle me to back to the well which led up to the lighthouse lantern room.

‘Hang on,’ he said, taking a detour. He retrieved his underpants from the rock on which they had landed and slipped them on.

‘Feels wrong to be representing Her Majesty without at least part of her uniform on.’

I liked this cove.

‘What about Matey in the Diving Suit?’ I asked.

He shrugged. ‘Gone now.’

We approached the exit, but my attention was distracted by movement above. I looked up – and, dear listener, if you thought I was past the point of incredulity, you would’ve presumed incorrectly. Despite all I had been through in recent days, my jaw dropped.

Drifting down from the top of the cavern was a goat, suspended below a parachute, bleating pathetically as it descended. I pointed it out to the Captain.

‘Did you order a goat?’

He shook his head. ‘No, no goats on the schedule.’

Even in my long and sexually-active life I’d never seen a parachuting goat before so if today has given me nothing else, it is one thing less on the bucket list.

‘I once parachuted into Germany dressed as a nun, I told the Captain. ‘It wasn’t during the war; I’d been on a bender in Soho with the Duke of Edinburgh and I’d lost a bet.’

The Captain nudged me out of my nostalgic reverie. ‘Save it for over a pint. My treat. The Egg and Cress in Great Percy Street. Come on, let’s beat a tactical retreat and call for back up.’

But before we could make our escape from the cavern, there was a loud noise from high above us. We looked up, and could see dark figures descending the walls, bouncing vigorously as they clambered speedily downwards.

‘Chums of yours?’ I asked the Captain. He shook his head, peering through the darkness. He nodded at the rock behind which I had secreted myself earlier, and we ducked down in order to observe whatever the ruddy hell was going on.

The goat had landed on the ground and started to eat its parachute. Of the acolytes there was no sign. I wasn’t sure if they had scarpered or were quaking in a crevice somewhere. I spotted Polkinghorn. He had found his knife and was standing still by the altar, wrapped in his robe, taking in all that was going on, his face revealing nothing, but the knife held outwards, ready to stab anyone who got too close.

I must admit to being stumped. Every time this situation seems to have used up its full quotient of rumness, something even queerer would occur. Who were these coves abseiling from the roof? Those who’d achieved groundfall were lurking in the shadows, not revealing themselves, presumably waiting for an order. But from whom?

The answer came soon. Another parachute suddenly dropped from up above. Rather than a bearded ruminant, this one had an black-clad figure attached to it. He landed elegantly, effortlessly slipping off the parachute.  The abseilers instantly produced rifles and stood to attention. This was, one assumed, the ringleader. I glanced at Polkinghorn’s face and saw an expression of awe on his pinched little face.

I couldn’t blame him. This new chap was a stranger to me, but I recognised his uniform immediately, particularly the Swastika on his sleeve.

The Nazis had arrived!

To be continued…

(c) Anthony Keetch 2020