THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 240

“We will be saved,” the Captain says.

“ENOUGH!” Spinostress bellows, looking at the star passing by, “cut the Captain’s finger off and on with it!” she orders, “we’ve already wasted far too much time”.

“What are you trying to achieve?” he asks, “you’ve got the monkeys, you no longer need us, let us go.”

Spinostress guards are holding the Captain and pressing hard on his index finger.  If he tried to retract it, they’d sure break it.  It’s better for pain to be incurred once rather than twice at short intervals Captain Traumatic thinks, as he gives up on any form of resistance.

“The Captain hasn’t all his wits about him,” Labaguette says, in a last ditch attempt to save his master’s finger.

“Catch the damn, evil bird and cut his throat!” Spinostress commands.

But Labaguette, his wings carrying him fast and faster anywhere he wishes, hides and stays put.

“Huh!” Captain Traumatic exclaims as the King musters a smile.

Now Spinostress waves one of her malefic tentacles in the air and slams it onto the Captain’s index finger.

“That’s one finger lost in space, and no one, you hear me?  No one will ever retrieve it for you.  No such business any more, monkey or not.  Next comes your throat.  Is that clear?”

Captain Traumatic winces and falls to his knees.  Pain will be conquered he firmly wants to believe, once he can overcome the sight of his own blood squirting out.  His other hand, now free, reaches deep inside his ragged jacket and pulls a half-empty bottle of rum which he tips down in his throat before pouring on his bloody stub.

To be continued…

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 239

There is much worse than a friend, a lifesaving one at that, and to the exception of Chloroph, the King, Labaguette and the Captain, incredulous, all look at Jimmy’s anxious demeanour.  No, not look, they stare at him intently as if their lives depended on him, which in a way, it does.  No, no, no this cannot be.  There’s no dead end in the universe.  Something is, must be amiss because otherwise, the extent of Jimmy’s betrayal will be impossible to measure and especially, it had better not be felt.  Pain is a funny thin, it reaches deep into the soul, leaving an indelible imprint few can resist: to keep living or to give up, one way or another.

The Captain’s brains are working at light speed, considering, registering and deducting.  Deep into the recesses of his darkest thoughts, a dim light remains switched on: Jimmy’s not a traitor.  There’s a reason for this and he, the Captain of a thousand rum buckets will figure out why.

“The leg work was all mine,” Chloroph answers, “I created that Hook to help you get what you wanted.  Let me go and give me what you owe me.”

“Very well,” Spinostress says calmly, “you’ll be the first to be judged.  Guards, destroy that yellow bus, including that ugly, dirty ship and take all the prisoners to their dungeons.”

Far above and beyond him, the Captain scans the skies for something.  He can hear the Insatiable Princess’ calling.  He doesn’t know what it is he is looking for.  He knows that, in the best of dreams, a Syck Monkey, a shooting star or a genie sometime appear.  There, a dim light.  He points to it with his finger, as if measuring the distance between here and there.

To be continued…

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 238

“Well,” Jimmy says, “not as such.  Once we knew of oceans, we knew of ships.”

“BRACE YOURSELVES!” the King urges them.

“You’ve got to be kidding!” the Captain exclaims as he falls backward, his body summersaulting and rolling before coming to rest on its back, crunched up.  Except for Labaguette hovering and the King hanging upside down from his seat held by a tight seat belt, all are lying on the roof of the upside down bus, just below the Insatiable Princess, amidst tree branches.

Then they notice the soldiers, crouching or standing on branches around them, a menace scrutinising them, arrows and tentacles ready to fly, maim or kill.

“We’re done,” Chloroph utters.

“What did you say about oceans and ships?” asks the Captain.

“Spinostress!” the King exclaims.

A satisfied snarl greets them.

“Knew it,” Labaguette says.

“Now,” Chloroph continues, “our knowledge includes planes, rockets and flying objects of all kinds, including—”

“—untie the rascal,” Spinostress orders, the third monkey sitting on her shoulder, chained at the neck to one of her tentacles.

In the universe, balance and all things fair are ephemeral words.  Relativity and its siblings stand as gods.  Two monkeys jump on an evil queen’s shoulders to greet their long lost brother and are turned into slaves, bound by their genes, brotherly love and, on the face of it, naivety.  Silence takes over, a deep, rumbling, roaring and unalterable silence whose significance and weight increase by the second.

“Jimmy,” Spinostress says, “I can’t thank you enough for your world of shadows, it’s been an eye opener and a life saver.”

To be continued…

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 237

“You and Jimmy saw her, on the other side,” Chloroph says, “because she’s near, because you could feel her presence.  You were close to the edge of the Hook, the nightmares were putting on the masks that the edge of your subconscious was suggesting.  That’s what being close to the edge of the Hook, across the other side means.  It revealed some insights, some unexposed truth about immediate dangers you were facing.”

“Can she see us now, huh?  CAN SHE?” the Captains asks, “you’ve altered our realities by releasing dangerous shadows out of your Hooks!  Jimmy’s world is altered and has become a dangerous place.  Nowhere is safe anymore.  Hand me a can of rum, will you Labaguette?”

“You’re out of your mind.  Nightmarish shadows appear only if you let them in,” Chloroph maintains, “a weakness, a crack in the armour must be perceived by the mischievous shadow for it to take advantage of the situation and sneak in.”

“There are no cracks in my world!” Jimmy answers, “our universe is a long established one, one that has been this way for as long as I remember and more.”

“How far back can you remember?” the King asks.

“We all share one and the same memory.  We hold a conscious collective memory of all things, actions and creatures that were, are and will be.  It goes back to a beginning that never was because it’s always been here.”

The Captain, in need of certainty, releases Labaguette.  “You can tell the future?” he asks.

“The egg has always come before the chook,” Labaguette says, “the dinosaur before the washing machine.”

The Captain tries unsuccessfully to shut Labaguette up once more.

“The crown before the king,” the King adds.

“The future?” the Captain insists.

To be continued…

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 236

“A playful one, one that interfered with the others and convinced them to be let in, for fun, to change the daily routine of shadows which consists mostly of hiding, protecting and empowering protégés of all kinds with their cloaks of darkness which, seen from most foreign creatures’ perspective tend to frighten through their mysterious, seemingly threatening ways.”

“Dangerous, treacherous,” the King says, “how can you ever trust your own shadow again?”

“Spinostress came through as a recurring nightmare.  I could not understand its meaning and purpose.  I tried to ignore it at first except that it came back stronger repeatedly.  As time went on, it became insistent and compelled me to listen to it until I understood fully its implications and I knew I had to get to the Hook.”

“We could turn into Spinostress’ worst nightmare!” Labaguette exclaims.

They all look at the bird in wonder.  Who would have thought?

“Nightmare!” Labaguette carries on, “nightmare! Nightmare!”

The Captain snatches the bird and shoves it inside his jacket pocket.

“You should listen to—” they can hear Labaguette utter.

“—No more of that, you rascal!”

“It’s quite an idea he’s got,” the King tries.

“A shrinking peanut,” the Captain retorts, “his brain’s the size of a shrinking, fucking peanut.”

“Size has never been known to matter,” Chloroph maintains.

“Perhaps you have a small Hook to show for it,” the Captain continues.

“It’s all in the wrist,” the King explains, “the way in which your thumb, forefinger and wrist zip or unzip a Hook, resulting in its size.

“the King’s a Hook Master,” he—“

“Shut up or enlighten us!”

“Which will it be?” the King asks, turning to Chloroph.

To be continued…

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 235

King Krackskull presses hard on the pedal, the bus speeds forwards only to skid, turn over its roof before stopping back on its wheels.

“My bus knows the voice of its true master.”

“A bus is a bus,” the Captain answers, “I had no problem with it earlier.”

“We think alike.”

“Ha! Ha!” Labaguette mocks, “even I know buses can’t think!”

“You’re insulting me and my bus,” Jimmy retorts.  “We are proud members of the Yellow Squadrons of the Federation of Yellow Buses.  We are knowledgeable it in all forms of its texts, rules and shadow disclaimers.  As such, all of us, drivers and buses, are trained to think for ourselves under any circumstance and in twos, if bus and driver are so united.  Is that CLEAR?”

“A mere instrument in a plot conspiring to ensure I never find my crown again” the King retorts.

“We saved your life,” Jimmy continues.

“This conversation is going nowhere” the Captain says, “you saw Spinostress as well as I did yet you pretended not to know her.”

“That’s not exactly true,” Jimmy answers, “she came to me in dreams, hidden, a mere shadow amongst shadows.”

“Weren’t shadows in your area safe?” the Captain inquires.

“There are always mischievous curtains of shadows against which nothing can be done.  A shadow is a shadow, how can you differentiate it from another?”

“They’re part of your world, you should know them, you should be able to recognise them and see through them.”

“Not when they mingle amongst regular shadows.  Besides, it was only a mischievous shadow.”

“Huh?”

To be continued…

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN TRAUMATIC – 234

“It’s not what you think,—”

“—Enlighten me.”

“It was business.”

“Yeah.”

“In a way, we—“

“—In a way?”

“We traded.”

“Right.”

“Traded!” Labaguette repeats, “traded, traded.”

“Traded what?” asks the King, slapping the parrot’s beak shut.

“It’s a shadowy world,” Chloroph intervenes.

With a single click of his index and forefinger, the Captain commands two monkeys to secure Jimmy into a secure, tight bundle of ropes.

“You’re presuming everything, not giving me a single chance to explain,” Jimmy says, “I saved your lives a few moments ago, but look at you now.”

“Our lives, huh?”

“Oh will you stop the sarcasms and shut the fuck up?”

All look at him, astounded, perplexed.

Chloroph takes a step back, deliberately walking backwards, little by little, towards the edge of the Hook.  One glance from the Captain is enough for the Monkeys to understand it is time to tie Chloroph and not let him escape to any dream world of his own making.  Then, they pull the bus outside the Hook and all step aboard.

“Drive!” the Captain orders the King who looks at the Captain for a clue.

“Use the driving wheel to turn and press on the pedal to move forwards.  That’s all there is to it.”

“The gears are sensitive,” Jimmy insists, “this isn’t any bus and you—“

“—Head straight towards this line of trees,” the Captain says, “this is where we’ll find the Insatiable Princess.”

To be continued…