THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 185

“It is said that all stories found in all books have their origins from here, from inside the whale’s belly,” the Commander begins, “only lost words can escape.  The librarians used to catch them and put into books.  Sometimes entire true stories come out intact but mostly, words come out jumbled and imagination does the rest.  Depending on the Librarian catching the words, new—”

“There are no more librarians, you know this,” the King says.

“—That’s impossible.  Librarians, words, stories and books are from before,” the Captain maintains dumbfounded, “from before time began, it’s impossible.”

“You don’t have the oldest books scanned,” the Commander says, “either they were destroyed because of Spinostress seeking all the secrets or because some were too old and disintegrated into oblivion.  Besides, you for one know that nothing’s impossible.”

“Nonsense, these days modern technology would allow even the most ancient object to be recreated, especially books.”

“Well, Captain, since when do you know anything about modern technology?  How long is it since you own two brains containing such worldly and universal knowledge?  The fact is that old words, stories and books disappeared or were lost and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Inside the belly of the whale” the Commander continues, “the constant repeating of old stories to new comers is tedious to listen to, as everyone is supposed to listen to it – there’s nothing else to do – one has to listen for mistakes and alteration too as the stories aren’t meant to change.”

“I have a theory,” Labaguette continues, “on Belchiore’s stomach contents.”

“Fuck off, Labaguette!” the Captain yells.

“You’re gonna have it anyway,” Labaguette insists.

“Inside the whale’s belly, there’s a tale,” the bird says, “Inside the whale’s belly, there’s a tale for two.”

To be continued…

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 184

“Some miser stories being repeated endlessly… but why?”  The King asks.  “What purpose is there to it?”

“Some well-deserved punishment,” the Captain insists.

“Why punish anyone who comes to Coatingsdale?” the Commander attempts.

“We’ll come to it when the time comes,” the Captain replies, “for now, you’re to finish your story and leave.”

“I don’t have to justify my existence nor that of my planet,” the offended King retorts.

“What are you afraid of Captain Traumatic?” the Commander continues, “what scares you most?  Oblivion?  Death? Belchiore?  Being lost in space and never finding your way home?  Not knowing your name or the meaning of happiness?”

But the King, resolved, impatient and wanting nothing more than to hear a good story, towers over the Commander and looks him in the eye like never before, like a King would look into the soul of this own prisoners and decide upon their being right or wrong, upon their innocence or guilt, upon their life or death.

“I’ve told you all I know,” the Commander says.

“Quite possibly, because Belchiore transmitted it,” the Captain continues, “but there’s more to it.  You know as well as I do that we need the truth in order to survive, unless you want to live a worse outcome than that you described.”

“There’s a third option worse than—“

“—Yes, Labaguette,” the Commander utters.

“What is it that would be worse than wishing one’s head could explode?” Labaguette insists.

But the Captain won’t have it as he stares threateningly into Labaguette’s eyes and the Commander’s.

To be continued…

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 183

“All you do all day and night long is to repeat your story in songs.  The first time, all repeat after you.”

“All?”

“All those already within Belchiore’s entrails.”

“Sure.”

“After you’ve told you story, you get to repeat the first story that was ever told from within Belchiore and you move on to the next story, and so on until a new creature arrives.  Then, the whole process begins again.  It is endless.”

“Good for memory,” Labaguette continues, “but can you sing?”

“Belchiore’s hunger knows no bounds,” the Commander says, “the clamour inside her is relentless.  You can’t shut it down.  It grips you from within and never lets go of you.  You can’t sleep, you can’t eat and you can’t think because your head, well…”

“Well?”

They can all see the Commander quivering at the mere thought of what he is about to say.

“It is known to all those condemned to after life in Belchiore, that your mind feels like there are vultures in it sharing the last remnants of troubled memories and pangs of guilt which linger inside your head, and that once those fragments have been consumed, they come back again to the surface of your conscience with added strength and with more added onto to it and this, ceaselessly.  You can’t think, all you do is feel the consequences of your thoughts and that of others.  Your head appears to be persistently set to explode at any time and yet, it never really does, just as much as you might want it to… all that noise, all these songs, all these words, wicked deeds, vultures and—.”

“—May be some heads do explode?” Labaguette asks.

“Maybe?” the King continues.

“You, psychopaths!” the Captain retorts.

To be continued…

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 182

The King and Labaguette look at the Captain wondering, pondering, hoping that if the Captain can answer the Commander’s question, he will save them soon and they’ll be able to find their way home.

“Stop your nonsense, Commander!” the King commands, “answer us: who and what is Belchiore?”

“—She travels through darkness only; she’s a fully blown psychic entity and evidently, a mere whale,” the Commander begins, “the dark cloud we’re surrounded by accompanies her wherever she goes.  She understands all creatures through her thoughts; language is of no relevance.  She has a reputation: if she finds any soul she decides unworthy of living, she dives in and gobbles them up as they fall from above, inevitably”.

“Inevitably?” the King asks.

“All there is to do is to avoid any fall…” the Captain remarks, “besides, if you fall, usually, it’s from above, even if it’s just your upper body that—.”

“—SHUT UP!” Labaguette screams, “you ludicrously dumb lot! Why do you have to take everything so literally?”

“You get one chance only,” the Commander continues, “and if you succeed escaping her maw and you come across her path ever again, then you’re doomed for good.  Then, you end in the darkest pit of them all, one where even death can’t improve your outcome and where you wish forever that you’d been granted to be your own shadow.”

“She-Coat isn’t particularly evil,” the King can’t help saying, “she—“

Labaguette flies onto the King’s mouth and shuts his lips with his claws.

“—The legend has it that all those caught live in her guts,“ the Commander says.

“Merely a legend, huh?” the Captain asks.

“It’s how it is, a true legend.  Once you get inside Belchiore, you never come back out of it.”

“No kidding.”

To be continued…

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 181

The Captain’s eyes revolve swiftly once more.  Truth is, he isn’t much of a philosopher and the wide knowledge contained in the books compiled in his head does not bring a definite answer.  Theories abound, practicalities are ignored.

“Where is this unexpected wisdom coming from?” the Captain asks, “back on earth, we had spiritual men who could absolve you from your sins, one way or another.”

“I’ve committed no sins,” the King signals, dropping Labaguette onto the deck, “I too understand what was, what might be, what lurks and what looms.”

“What’s wrong with you, King?  Give me some warning next time before you drop me like this, will you?

“I’m confused,” the Captain says to the King, “what do you mean by ‘what lurks and what looms?’

“Think, Captain, think!” the King says, “with ‘lurks’ something mean, bad, shady is here waiting to harm or hurt you in some way.  You’re aware of its presence and you’re scared.  With ‘looms’, what lurks is about to appear.  That’s the whole difference.”

Labaguette continues: “ever since you lost your crown, you’ve been losing your marbles.  It doesn’t make any sense, none at all.  What about ‘harm’ and ‘hurt’?“

“—You’re a wicked man, Captain,” the Commander interjects, “what would you know about wisdom?”

“I’ve merely killed for rum and the right to live drunk and comfortably.”

“Comfortably drunk,” Labaguette corrects, the Captain shoving the damned bird once more into the side of his jacket’s pocket.

“—You’ve been absolved?” the Commander interrupts.

“This discussion is pointless,” the Captain says, “who and what I am now has nothing to do with who I was.  How did we come to this anyway?”

“Your name, Captain?” the Commander reiterates, his eyes attempting to pierce right through the Captain’s soul.

To be continued…

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 180

“You’re a despicable fool,” the Commander tells the King.

Captain Traumatic draws his sword and points it at the Commander’s throat.

“I could overcome you in less time than it takes you to blink,” the Commander says.

“Speak or jump, we don’t want to make Belchiore wait longer than is necessary.”

“Then,” the Commander continues, “I felt nothing for a long time.  I thought I’d managed to exclude what I saw as, and still do, unnecessary baggage, useless sentiments and toxic emotions, the lot”.

“The lot?” the Captain asks.

“Only pure thought was allowed to filter through.  Everything else was unwelcome and rejected.”

“Rejected, huh?  You mean was left aside to cumulate.”

“The guilt came back to overwhelm me much later.  It haunted me.”

“Sure, when Belchiore reappeared into your life.  How convenient!”

“Explain Belchiore’s role, will you?” the King requests.

“She’s a whale.”

“Spare us your sarcasms, she has much in common with She-Coat, gobbling all things and creatures and—“

“—Stung are we?  Feeling a pang of guilt?” the Commander retorts.

The Captain draws a drop of blood from the Commander’s throat.

“Not necessary, Captain, really.”

“What else have you got to say?”

“Belchiore specifically picks on lost souls and seeks to find whether it’s worth releasing them or not.  She does so in darkness, because she can’t be seen and must work alone and in secret.”

“Is she some deity, some religious being? I mean who the fuck does she think she is?” the Captains says.

“It’s just the way things are,” the Commander continues, “you’ve travelled much, you’ve ingested much, surely you understand what is, what is not, what comes and what goes?”

To be continued…

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 179

“Spinostress taught me all I know: how to provoke, fight, provoke more, fight more and this until rage and hate filled my entire being with such pleasure and satisfaction that control and power were all I sought.  I was happy.”

“I doubt you’ve ever changed,” the Captain remarks.

“Happiness has eluded me for a long time.”

“Happiness?” the King asks.

“How would you know the difference?” the Captain continues.

“Belchiore wasn’t here to pursue me.  What I see now as wrong felt right then.  I didn’t know otherwise.”

“Surely, you remembered the days before Spinostress and fought for them?”

“I focussed on what mattered at the time: survival.”

“Survival of the fittest, huh?”

“Learning, working and concentrating on meaningful purposes was good enough for me.”

“Turned you into a killer,” the King insists.

“You’re not doing so badly yourself?”

“She-Coat is different.  She and Death are ingrained within the planet.”

“Really?”

“When did you realise that—“

“—I felt a first, but small, pang of sadness when my planet exploded, killing all my kind, to the exception of a few who were made prisoners,” the Commander admits.

“She-Coat’s hunger is selective and every creature is offered a chance at redemption,” the King continues, “were you responsible for blowing out your planet?”

“Your attachment to She-Coat is nothing short of toxic,” the Commander remarks.

“It takes all kinds.  We were united like this from as long as I can remember, from the beginning of time.”

“How many died?”

“I’ve lost count.”

“Stop this right now!” The Captain orders, “Commander, you’re not going to drag this King inside Belchiore’s entrails with you.  Tell your story and be gone!”

“I’ve my reasons, I’ve no regrets.  Never will,” the King insists.

To be continued…