Saturday, 31 January 2009

How The Moon Became Strange – A Right Ripping Yarn (Part The Fourth)

Part The Fourth - Journey's End

We hurtled onwards through the inky blackness of space. Space air is rather thicker than normal Earth air so the effect was not entirely dissimilar to pushing through watery treacle. Minutes began to stretch into hours as we ploughed ever onwards.

To be perfectly frank, I began to tire of Prof. M's near-constant self-aggrandising. At one point, I was beginning to think that there would soon only be enough room for the Professor and his ego. This, combined with the soporific effect of several large brandies, was enough to push me gently into the land of Nod. My dreams were strange affairs, haunted by the unseen presence of hairy creatures around me.

My slumber was cut short, however, by a sudden lurching of the capsule. We had landed! Prof M. was hurrying exciting around, checking instruments and suchlike. I was concerned with more important endeavours - fortunately, the container for my alcoholic libations had remained intact.

The Prof seemed satisfied that whatever was outside would be safe for investigation. Personally, if it wasn't the outside of the club, I'd have been content to linger exactly where I was. However, the Professor's hectoring tone informed that this was not an option open to me.

We disembarked from the space-bound receptacle. What we saw upon emerging nearly made me lose my bottle (of brandy)...

To Be Elongated

Friday, 30 January 2009

How The Moon Became Strange – A Right Ripping Yarn (Part The Third)

Part The Third - An Unexpected Journey

As I hurtled towards the heavens in a small canister of death, I ruminated on how I came to be in this unenviable position. I also began to curse the day that the Professor and his scatter-brained scheme had wondered into my life.

We had been talking in the old thing's laboratory and he was about to entreaty me for a fat barrel of cash. I must admit, not being of a scientific inclination and feeling the soporific effects of the brandy somewhat, my body began to sag with fatigue. Upon deciding to sit down, I felt the seat beneath me give in a most unprecedented manner. Not being used to odd movements beneath my seat, I turned to inspect my choice of chair and discovered a depressed lever.

The roaring sound that filled the laboratory next, accompanied by a gout of flame and smoke from the rocket, was not altogether comforting. I felt myself being dragged over to the contraption (with scarcely enough time to rescue my bottle of brandy, might I add) and, before I knew it, being unceremoniously hurried inside.

As the Professor struggled with the controls, I attempted to steady my hands enough to pour myself a preparatory travelling snifter (again, purely for medicinal purposes). However, my drink was lost as, with a roaring noise, burst of flame and hideous screech of rending metal, we departed Mother Earth for the uncertain heavens.

This day was proving to be most vexatious.

To Be Sustained

Thursday, 29 January 2009

How The Moon Became Strange – A Right Ripping Yarn (Part The Second)

Part The Second - The Mysterious Element

Even a jaded old soak like myself had to admit that the Professor's laboratory truly was a marvel of the modern scientific method. Omnigyrotascopes, contrafibrillators and various other oddments, gewgaws and knick knacks littered the room. Not being of a particularly scientific bent, I made my way to the drinks cabinet (no self-respecting laboratory should be without one) and poured myself a stiff one.

"Come on, then, old thing, what's the nefarious scheme of the day?" I prodded.

"Let me show you first my new discovery. This... is Motelonium!"

With an overly theatrical flourish of a type favoured by melodramatic Mediterraneans, Prof M. whisked a cover off an unprepossessing bell jar to reveal what can only be described as a greeny purpley orange-ish lump of stuff.

Underwhelmed was not the word. However, as I was there (and there was still a goodly proportion of the brandy bottle remaining), I decided to humour the old loon.

"What's it for, old sock, eh?"

"It powers this!" exclaimed the good Professor.

He pointed to the other side of the room where an enormous rocket ship stood, previously unnoticed by me.

"Ah," said I, "I have a sinking feeling that tells me I know where this is headed..."

To Be Prolonged

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

How The Moon Became Strange – A Right Ripping Yarn (Part The First)

Editor's Note:- This tale was amongst many of the writings left behind by Squire Kirk The Elder following his mysterious vanishing (see The Furry Doom for more information). Many have poured scron (and even scorn) on the good Squire's writings but although he was called many things during his lifetime (womaniser, dipsomaniac, Satanist, occasional player of the pink oboe), liar was not one of them*.

We present here for your edification the Squire's tale of how the moon became strange. Further tales will be released from the Kirkian Archive in due course.

Part The First - A Chance Encounter

The day began like many others - I was reclining in my preferred fireside position at the Old Actonian Gentlemen's Club, allowing Hardiman to ensure that my brandy glass never reached dangerously low levels, when I espied an old friend lurking in the recesses of the room.

"What ho, Professor!" I roundly hallooed and watched as the figure of Professor Motelonius Edgington-Bickley weaved his shifty way towards me. As you will recall, the Professor and I had shared several capers and escapades together and I had come to have a grudging respect for the man (despite him being of a swarthily temperamental Mediterranean ancestry).

"Squire K," replied he, "Good to see you out and about again. I take it that you managed to clear up that unpleasant business with you and the nun?"

I harrumphed noisily and swiftly diverted the course of the conversation into calmer waters.

"What brings you to these parts, Prof M?", I inquired (not out of any real sense of interest, you understand, but because it's the sort of thing a chap does). "New inventions to dazzle and excite us?"

"It is well you should ask, my friend," replied said Professor, "for I have discovered an entirely new element - an element which I shall name Motelonium so that my staggering genius may live on in history". A surprisingly modest statement for him and I have to admit that my curiosity, if not exactly piqued, was at the least very gently prodded.

"That's all well and good, old fruit, but what's that got to do with the Old Boy's Club, eh?"

"I have need of funds and assistance for an experiment which change not only the very face of science itself but also our very perception of the world!", exclaimed he, wading into more familiar hyperbolic waters.

"Well, I've got a free slot this afternoon...", I drawled and, so saying, sealed my fate.

If only I'd booked that game of backgammon with Carruthers instead...

To Be Continued


* At least, not to his face, anyway

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The Curious Case Of The Missing Alleycats - An Intrigue (Part The Last)

Part The Last - To All Things, An Ending

Tiny furry things, tearing at me, clawing at me. They were everywhere and were closing in! Closer... Closer... There was no escape...

I awoke with a start but soon realised I had merely been trapped within the nightmares of unconsciousness. However, once I awoke to discover that I was trussed to a pole surrounded by wriggling, spitting, hissing cats (who were equally confined, mainly about my person, and far more unhappy about it), my relief faded somewhat.

After a brief spell cursing the Inspector's name in as many languages as I could muster whilst simultaneously trying to avoid a hideous mauling at the claws of the enraged moggies, I settled down and took in my surroundings. To call the refuse-strewn alleyway in which I found myself imprisoned "dank" would be doing a great disservice to soggy, rat-infested hellholes everywhere. The words "squalid" and "fetid" would also not have been vastly out of place.

I did not have long, however, to ponder my pole-ish incarceration for my gloomy reverie was soon interrupted by the bowel-tremblingly nauseating sound of the creature's inhuman bellow. An unfortunate side effect of this monstrous sound was the renewed attempts by the terrified cats to escape; an uncomfortable sensation, to say the least[1]. The damp slap of the entity's rotting feet began to creep into my hearing over the sound of the petrified moggies and its hideously mangled countenance started to hove into view along the decrepit alleyway.

I'd like to say that I maintained my dignity in these trying circumstances but my valet, who was later tasked with salvaging my attire, would attest differently. It shambled ever closer and I would swear that its ghastly face contained the hint of a leer. As I could feel its rancid breath flowing against my roguishly handsome features (and causing undue moistening of my mustachios), I began to wonder if this was to be the final curtain for the good Squire.

The creature's unearthly wail once again filled the air. But wait! What was this? The noise appeared to have emanated from further away, not from the beast before me. A second abomination rounded the corner! My heart sank even further as I realised that I was soon to be devoured by not one but two of the foul apparitions.

The beast in front of me turned away and began to approach the other. Maybe I would be spared, maybe they would destroy each other and leave me to the mildly murderous intentions of my trapped cats instead. They drew closer and closer... then contact! But it didn not appear to me that they were fighting. In fact, there appeared to be a certain tenderness in the way there were touching each other. Could this other creature be the original's mate, not it's rival?

Sadly, we shall never know, for that was the moment that good old Sleddy Edgars and the rest of the Peelers chose to descend upon the scene with blunderbusses blazing. I doubt that the remaining fine red mist which had once been the two beasts was up to answering many questions on that score.

Once I was released from my feline incarceration and I had rewarded Edgars for his efforts with a rather fetching black eye, I squelched my scratched and soiled way home. A long soak in the tub, some iodine for my cat-related injuries, a change of clothes and a stiff glass (or two) of finest cognac later and I was ready to retire to bed. Mind you, it was still early and Madame Evangeline's would just be getting into the swing of things at about this time. I ventured out in search of some comfort after my trying day - but thats a story for another time...

Here Endeth The Squires Tale

Editor's Note:- Further tales from the good Squire's body of work will be forthcoming.


[1] "Excruciatingly bloody painful" would be getting closer

Monday, 26 January 2009

The Curious Case Of The Missing Alleycats - An Intrigue (Part The Fourth)

Part The Fourth - In The Grip Of Terror

As I ran pell-mell and helter-skelter through the Parisienne alleyways, I could feel the hot, fetid breath of the creature, slapping against my neck. Well, to be fair, it could well have been the fevered pantings of old Sleddy Edgars but would you have stopped and turned to check? No, and neither did I. The wet slap of its feet and the hideous unearthly bellowing issuing from its terrifying maw spurred me ever onwards until disaster struck. As Lady Coincidence would have it, we were passing the very spot of my unfortunate arrest at the very time that the upstairs neighbours chose once again to evacuate chamber pots upon the pavement below. My sense of timing being what it is, I managed to slide in the bodily by-products which were freshly strewn about the ground and sprawl full length, taking the good Inspector down with me.

The creature saw our mutual excrement-ridden despair and slowed to a stop. I couldn't be absolutely certain but it appeared to be savouring our discomfort as it moved in for the kill. The abomination moved closer and closer, the stench from its hideous countenance almost overpowering. Now, dear reader, we come to the part of the story of which your good Squire is not overly proud. I could attempt to explain it away - the fear, my fatigue from a nights carousing followed by foreign incarceration - but the fact of that matter is this: I let fly with a high pitched scream of utter terror, much in the fashion of a small girl.

Lady Coincidence, having strewn our path with human waste, decided to step back and let Lady Luck make her dramatic entrance. My distinctly unmanly scream of fear had the most startling effect on the monstrosity. Several of its hands flew to its head, it let loose a terrifying cry and keeled over to the floor, apparently out for the count. The Inspector, being a practical man who was quick to rally, took this opportunity to shoot it several times about the head area.

I had assumed that was the end of story. Yet here was I was, recovering from gentle head injuries in the presence of Inspector Edgars once more, wondering exactly what use I could be.

"I say, old sock," began I, "what possible use could I be on this caper? I was more of a hindrance than a help last time. Any assistance on my part was, I assure, purely accidental."

"It was your girlish scream that stunned the bugger last time," gruffed he, "and well be using it again this time."

"I thought you killed it."

"Must be tougher than we thought," he mumbled.

"Wont you need to draw the ghastly blighter out first?" I rather foolishly enquired.

Edgars grinned at me in much the same way that a fisherman grins at a particularly juicy worm he is about to place to a hook. As the sinking feeling in my stomach began to reach down to somewhere around my knees, I began to cudgel myself about the cranium in the hope that unconsciousness would be some form of defence. In retrospect, I really should have stayed a little more compos mentis...

To Be Expounded

Sunday, 25 January 2009

The Curious Case Of The Missing Alleycats - An Intrigue (Part The Third)

Part The Third - Fear Has A Face

That the figure which descended from the rooftops in front of us was not human could not be doubted. Exactly what manner of beast it might be, however, was nearly impossible to ascertain. It was roughly humanoid in shape but there was no way in which it could be mistaken for human... nor gorilla or any other simian - the amount of limbs, for starters, which numbered more than the usual four that one finds on any of those genii. Also, its rather reptilian appearance and pincer-like claw-style hand appendages marked it out as something... other. The creature gave off the most abominable stench (and this is coming from a man who had recently been doused in various bodily by-products), a stench quite unlike anything I had ever smelled before - if I had been furnished with a solid cooked breakfast instead of an anaemic continental repast, I may have been tempted to surrender it to the pavement.

The apparition's face was nearly impossible to make out - it was as if my eyes could not bear to fully fix themselves upon its fearful visage. There were suggestions here and there - more eyes than were strictly necessary; the impression of sharp, protruding fangs; a gaping hole where traditionally the olfactory organ is located - but these were mere hints. As far as the eye could tell, its countenance was a writhing, shifting mass of deep unpleasantness. I can only speculate as to the monstrous things origins - from what Stygian depths it has arisen, possibly after millennia of slumber.

The one thing I can say for certain about it was the impression I received of great age about the creature. Well, not the only thing I can say about it - it was holding three dead cats in three of its limbs while stuffing a fourth into its monstrous maw. The unpleasant sucking, crunching and chewing noises the abomination made as it feasted upon the former pet were, combined with the smell, almost too much to bear.

The Inspector and I had remained rooted to the spot, fearfully studying the aberration before us. It had so far been fairly oblivious to our presence, content in its feline mastication. The spell was broken by my (in hindsight, somewhat foolhardy) decision to yelp and run away, followed closely by a cursing Edgars and a howling monstrosity. The Inspector and I fled in fear of our very lives...

To Be Elongated

Saturday, 24 January 2009

The Curious Case Of The Missing Alleycats - An Intrigue (Part The Second)

Part The Second - The Plot Thickens

After being reluctantly roused by smelling salts and having the welts and bruises about my person attended to, I ruminated on how to escape from the predicament within which I now found myself. You may be thinking, dear reader, that my reaction to a rather simple case of some missing moggies may have been somewhat extreme. Were this likely to have been merely a simple case of missing moggies then you would, of course, be quite correct. However, I had strong reason to believe that this was something more...

It was several years earlier when I, as a carefree youth in his mid-twenties, became embroiled in a case with similar beginnings. I was a devil-may-take-'em young lad, with an eye for the fillies and a taste for the grog. I had spent several months sojourning in Paris, mind aglow with a questing nature and belly aflame with the evils of absinthe. I shall spare you the full and debauched details of my sexual adventuring - suffice it to say that, if it moved, I soon lay about it until moving was no longer an option.

It was after a particularly fulsome night with a bevy of young beauties and their faithful dog, Francois, that I emerged blinking into the Parisienne dawn to be confronted not only with a stream of effluence about the torso from the neighbours above [1] but also with the sight of a host of gruesomely butchered pussycats strewn about the road in front. As is only natural, the dual effluence/deceased kitties combination conspired to cause me to add my own vomit to the already unpleasant scene and, as usually happens when least desired, it was at about this time that the local gendarmerie arrived on the scene. As they gently persuaded me [2] to assist them with their enquiries by confessing to wholesale feline slaughter, I gently assisted them by slumping into unconsciousness in a pool of various excreta.

Fortunately, I was revived not by depraved ministrations about my posterior region from a multiple murderer named Jean-Claude but by the only slightly more welcome sight of the redoubtable Inspector Edgars. Being a personage of some means (and brother to the then Privy Counselor and soon to be Prime Minister, the despicable Kirk The Younger), it would not have done to let me languish in some Frenchy prison as a destroyer of cats.

Reluctantly escorting me on my merry way home, it was as the good Inspector and I left the jail that events took a turn for the rum and the uncanny...

To Be Exaggerated


[1] Who had, I must admit, been somewhat put out by the carnal caterwauling emanating from below them at ungodly hours of the night...

[2] Yes, via the gently persuasive medium of being beaten about the face and body - it's something of a theme in my dealings with professional keepers of the peace. Purely coincidence, obviously.

Friday, 23 January 2009

The Curious Case Of The Missing Alleycats - An Intrigue (Part The First)

Editor's Note:
As some of you may already be aware, amongst the many feathers I count in my cap*
is that of curator of the Greater Kirkian Archive. The vast majority of these holdings are the various writings, scribblings, etchings and daubings of my somewhat infamous ancestor, Squire Kirk The Elder. A tantalising enigma of a man who disappeared in mysterious squirrel-related circumstances**
, the good Squire left a substantial record of his remarkable life. As much as is possible, I have been able to verify portions of his tales; the rest we will have to trust to the veracity of the good Squire himself.

Presented here for your edification is the first part of a recently catalogued tale which he has entitled, "The Curious Case Of The Missing Alleycats". Further parts will follow.

Part The First - A Rude Interruption

My tale begins - as so many of them often do - within the confines of the Old Actonian Gentlemans Club. I was ensconced within my usual fireside repose, giving young Hardiman a thorough tongue-lashing for his usual dunderheaded incompetence, when a fearful hullabaloo in the entrance hall roused my brandy-soaked attention.

The afternoon tranquillity of the club was shattered by the whirlwind arrival of Inspector Malcolm "Sleddy" Edgars [1], trailing Andrews the footman in his wake. Having made the good Inspectors acquaintance on several occasions previously, I attempted an impersonation of a small mending patch on the arm of the chair. However, he had me in his sights and was not to be distracted by my (admittedly feeble) attempts to appear inconspicuous.

My protestations of innocence were cut short in Edgars customary terse fashion.

"Stop your wretched snivelling, man, and drag your sorry hide out of that chair. Much as it pains me to admit it, I have need of your weaselly skills," growled Edgars.

I like to believe that his harsh words were there to hide the obvious deep and heartfelt respect that he harboured for me. I could feel it as he gently coaxed me from my comfortable hearthside seat with a rough hand about the collar.

On departing the club, Edgars explained the situation that required my expert assistance. At the mention of a suspicious number of missing cats all being discovered deceased, I chose that moment to depart swiftly at high speed in fear for my very life, shouting a fond farewell to the good Inspector over my shoulder. As he grappled me to the floor and subdued my screaming form with gentle blows from a cudgel about the head and torso, I realised that this was going to be one of those days...

To Be Continued

[1] He had earned the nickname Sleddy in a rather unfortunate case involving myself, a toboggan and a young nun - a rather sordid affair, the details of which I shall not encumber you with at present


* Metaphorical feathers - I don't actually have a cap with feathers in it. That would be somewhat pretentious, even for me...

** As alluded to in his last writings, The Furry Doom