“But the brown paper containing the instructions extracted itself from Chloroph’s grip, unfolded into a part crinkled and part smooth piece of silky paper that flew and landed onto my shoulder waiting for me to read it.  ‘King Krackskull: King of Coatingsdale, certified and qualified Universal Hook Master.  Welcome aboard,’ it said.

‘Aboard what?’ I asked, ‘what have I let myself into?’

Chloroph had stopped in its strack and was now motionless looking at me with eyes still bulging, astounded, all the fears abandoning his anxious face bit by bit, a faint smile showing.  Even the colour of his skin altered gradually: from the original mauve, it had switched to a mildly fluorescent yellow at times shaded by traces of blue and mauve.

“’You, you, you…’ he stuttered, ‘it’s, it’s done,’ he said triumphantly, ‘we’ve done good.  Our time hasn’t come just yet.  Besides, there’s a next step.’”


“’Exactly: it’s to do with the Welcome Aboard you were asking about.  Now you must choose and appeal to the Hooks to let you be their master, each in turn.  I mean you have to please them as a way to pledge allegiance to them.’”

“I’ve just gone through every step of the way to pass the test as a Hook Master and it isn’t enough?  What else do I need to do?  And each?  A hook’s a hook, is it not?”

“’There are three types of hooks: one, the device hook, two, the creature hook and three the space hook.”

“This is ludicrous!”

“’Don’t insult them.’”

“I’m their Master and their King.  They’re insulting me.  But Chloroph continued:”

“’Now, with each type of hook, expect the unexpected, the unusual, the pleasantness of the surprise being, at times, overtaken by great pain and suffering.’”

To be continued


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