Liz: Jeeze, had to find my own picture.
Gillian: continue …
Terry: Sorry, been a long day.
Poor Princess Mary has escaped the evil mermaid only to wind up in the mouth of huge Orca!
And Pirate Captain Kim is tied up and marinating in Neptune’s underwater palace.
Witchy Iri and Horatio were chasing the orcas to rescue Baby Mary but they’ve been left behind.
What to do? Iri and Horatio head off to the nearest fish and chip shop for a feed.
With all this distraction Pirate Captain Kim realises that the marinating stuff has made his wrists slippery and he quietly slides them out of the manacles. He finds his ship chained to the railing of an older drowned ship, and manages to coax a passing swordfish to saw through the chain. The pirate ship creaks and groans. A school of pufferfish swim under and puff and blow and the ship begins to rise. Then twenty seahorses allow themselves to be harnessed to the ship and they pull and the ship begins to rise. Up, up, through the salty sea, higher and higher, octopi, sharks, schools of frilly fish turn to stare. Gee up horseys, gee up horses, exclaims Captain Kim as he smokes on some handy seaweed.
And they surface onto a still, still ocean, under a bright blue sky. Kim hoists the sails to catch a gentle breeze to help the seahorses (remember he has lost his crew, they all got eaten), wagon train, sings Captain Kim, happy to be sailing again. Dolphins swim alongside, have you seen the orca queen, Captain Kim asks. The dolphins jump and fly over the boat, to and fro, chattering to each other.
Then, follow us, they tell the seahorses, don’t go too fast, squeal the sea horses.
They sail along, singing their songs; Kim cooks seaweed stew for everyone (well he can’t be cooking fish in front of the dolphins and seahorses, he’s a sensitive bloke).
And they arrive along the eastern coastline of Aotearoa where the orcas play. Queenie is organising her squad for the synchronised dance competition. Ahoy there, calls out Captain Kim, I seek the baby princess. She is here, answers Queenie, curled up sleeping under my tongue, what would you do with her. I would marry you and be your King, replies the irrepressible Kim, and we would care for the princess together. Very well, says Queenie because she knows full well that Pirate Captain Kim is really King Kim in disguise and has his own castle on the Island of Dreams.
So they marry, they do not tarry, they have a son, half orca, half pirate and they call him Terry. And Mary lives half her life in the castle and half her life in the ocean.
And Queenie scoops up a golden goblet from Neptune’s treasure chest under the sea, and she gives it to Kim for a wedding present.
Meantime, the witchy Iri and the winged horse Horatio, have finished scoffing their fish and chips. Man, I am sooo full, says Iri stretching, I think I have a touch of colic moans Horatio. Do you need a vet, asks Iri, nooooo, neighs Horatio, a good crap should fix it. I feel like a failure says Iri, I have lost the princess. Yeah, grumbles Horatio. Do we go back and tell the Sheikh. No way, says Iri, eyes widening in horror. He’d boil us in oil.
Horatio blanches. Damned if I am going to be horsemeat stew and fed to the dogs! Can’t you wave your wand or something. I’m too tired, says Iri. You know I always muck up my spells when I am tired. It has been a long day.
They are walking along the beach as they talk, scuffing their feet in the sand. Then suddenly Iri points ahead, look, she says.
It is the Black Night of Doom! The Black Void! The Black Hole of Nothingness. It is a Black Cluster of Clouds swirling. A Black Storm.
It engulfs them and they are falling, falling through the blackness, through broken trees and lightning, screaming voices, crows cawing, kookaburras laughing, all the nightmares come to roost. They are falling through a hundred, nay a thousand years, backwards and forwards, round and round the merry-go-round, hail Caesar, Heil Hitler, there are the death camps, the smoke from the chimneys, the smell of cooking flesh, and Horatio is falling head first and his neck gets twisted the wrong way and suddenly he isn’t alive anymore and Iri is screaming, screaming. She is falling and screaming. She is holding onto dead Horatio and she is crying.
How long has she been falling? She doesn’t know but suddenly she is landing on a slime-filled floor and skidding and slipping. And Horatio slips through the slime and disappears.
Iri grabs a hanging vine, holding on for dear life. Only it’s a snake and it hisses, oh shut up, she says. Enough already. How rude, says the snake, shocked to the core of it’s slithery self. Who do you think you are? Back at you, returns Iri. If you don’t want people to clutch on to you, why are you hanging around here? Well I fell of course, replies the snake. Have you thought about trying to climb out again? asks Iri. No, says the snake, rather startled. I’m all length and no brain you know. Do you think I could? I don’t know, says Iri, but I thought snakes could wind themselves around anything. I suppose so, says the snake. By the way, I’m sorry about the loss of your friend. Thanks, said Iri, he was special. We grew up together. The snake doesn’t speak but she winds herself around Iri’s body and gives her a hug.
I will need to eat first, says the snake and she spies a passing rat, reaches out and hoovers it in.
I suppose that is going to take a week to digest, snarls Iri. The snake looks shocked. A fortnight! she says. And what are we going to do down here for a fortnight, asks Iri, I have a princess to find you know! I didn’t know, points out the snake, I’ve been hanging around down here, remember.
We could pick flowers, said the snake. Iri looks around and suddenly realises they are in a beautiful, scented garden. Oh my goodness, she breathes, there’s a water garden and statues and fruit trees. Have an apple, offers the snake, don’t mind if I do, responds Iri. Oh it is delicious. This is like paradise.
She bites on the apple and the garden dissolves and she is falling again and the snake is whipping by, and the world is black and shrieking, and the earth rumbles and rips itself apart, forming chasms for trees and houses to fall into. Then it is hot it is roasting it is a volcano there is lava pushing upwards, there are rocks forcing themselves through the lava, and the earth shakes some more. And my books are falling off the shelf, thinks Iri, what the heck. The buildings are crashing to the ground, cars are crushed, all the nightmares came to town. Again.
We have fallen to the centre of the earth, whispers the snake.
Oh my goodness, whispers Iri.
Why are we whispering, enquires the snake. You started it, answers Iri.
Well, I’m scared, says the snake, I have goosebumps.
You are such a goose, laughs Iri, loudly, forgetting to whisper. Which was a bad thing to do because the earth started to shake again. And rocks rained down upon them and they had to jump and slither about to avoid getting hit.
After a week or two or three, the rockstorm finally stops. We have got to get out of here, says Iri. So you keep saying, groans the snake. It is a bloody long way to climb out from here. Mmmm, thinks Iri, thinking aloud even. I know, she shouts, don’t shout, shrieks the snake but it’s too late! Another week or two or three of jumping and slithering about, avoiding rocks and molten lava and all that stuff.
Ok, hisses the snake, when the centre of the earth settles down again. And don’t shout. What’s your bright idea?
Well, whispers Iri, instead of climbing up, why don’t we slide downunder. YOU BEAUTY! Shouted the snake in excitement, and, well you all know the drill by now …
Three weeks later, they are making a toboggan from petrified wood, glued together with cooling lava. Let’s go, says Iri, ok, says the snake. The toboggan moves forward slowly, then picks up speed, going faster and faster. Shit, says Iri, we forgot brakes, yeah, says the snake, and a steering wheel might have helped too.
They are hurtling downwards, bashing their way over rocks and lumps and bumps of lava, more dead animals, and sticky clay.
To be continued …
[I never actually meant to serialise this but the story and characters are writing themselves and it seems they don’t want to stop]