“Captain, Captain, the creature is incapable of harm.  There’s a reason his name is Mouton Blanc.  Ask him.”

“Ask him what?”

“Who he really is.”

The Captain gives a long, hard look into the eye of his feathered advisor, takes a deep breath and complies with this whim, dismissing any thought of common sense:

“Aside you’re being an immortal creature with such name as ‘Mouton Blanc’ and you being prisoner by day and gaoler by night, who, what else might you be?” the Captain asks.

“What you see is what you get,” Mouton Blanc retorts.

Labaguette won’t let any confused spark of anger rise nor doubt bubble up to the surface:

“Mouton Blanc is bluffing, bluffing all the way,” he utters inside the Captain’s ear and before the Captain has time to squeeze the bird’s neck, Labaguette flies off and perches onto the lock which Mouton Blanc is hitting.

“Get off or you’ll get squashed,” the creature says.

“You’re too noisy,” the King tries.

“This is my last warning: get OFF!”  Labaguette flies up for a second, just as the huge hammer hits the lock, only to sit back on it afterwards to snatch a pin from that lock and drop it into the emptiness below.

Mouton Blanc falls onto his knees.

“What have you done?  Blasphemy!  Are you raven in disguise?  Never in my entire life have I—”

“—No keys, no pins!” Labaguette says smiling, “there has never been any way out, anyway.”

“Labaguette,” the Captain says, “How far goes your contempt?  Who do you think you are?”

“You owe me.  I’m a hero.”

To be continued…



“Takes all your time,” Labaguette adds not without pity, his strong beak having in no time taken care of the strings binding it, “I wouldn’t be able to insert three pins in a lock in the right order either”.

“Really, never got the right combination?” the Captain asks Mouton Blanc.

“Night is falling,” Mouton Blanc says.

“Genetics,” Chloroph comments, “born to insert pins in the wrong orders, for eternity.  It’s not just bad luck, it’s genetically predetermined destiny.”

The crew looks around but sees and feels no difference in the colour of the air, nor in its temperature.  Mouton Blanc begins the seemingly meticulous task of removing each pin from the shackles, his skin then slumping around each body part and limb that was held by the restraints, much like a Michelin man, only without air in it.  Then, he holds the pins in his mouth before inserting them inside the lock, one by one, attaching the shackles around the door’s metallic bars, taking the door of its hinges, turning it around and setting it back in.

The King asks: “would you mind if—“

“—Don’t!” the Captain interjects.

“If I tried the pins?” the King continues.

“You can’t,” Mouton Blanc answers, “I’m your gaoler now.  You’re my gaoler.  We’re enemies.  If I catch you attempting to overstep my boundaries, you’re dead meat.  Logic.”

“I thought we were friends,” the Captain tries.

“Who said we weren’t?”

Labaguette has never seen his Master so embarrassed, so confused.  This is the opportunity of a lifetime for some form of advancement, the parrot thinks – the latter having to be worked on later in his own terms.  Labaguette perches on Captain Traumatic’s shoulder and whispers:

To be continued…

(Merry Christmas!)


“When the door is off its hinges, there’s no proper threshold.”

“I see,” the Captain remarks.

“You see?” they all retort except for Labaguette who yawns.

“Is it day or night?” Chloroph asks.

“My pins are in, duh.  Besides, at night, we become gaolers.  At night, most things are reversed.  It’s to do with logic.”

“Nothing to do with mathematical logic, right?” the Captain asks.

“Logic only.”

Mouton Blanc beams, his eyes expressing nothing more than deep gratefulness, as if he now owes his life to the Captain.  The creature has made up his mind: that Captain is smart and so understanding.  Mouton Blanc stands up and resumes his banging at the gate with renewed enthusiasm.

“I’m Mouton Blanc,” he says, “to better serve you, Captain.”

“Oh God,” Labaguette mutters, “not another yes man.”

“What do you do with the pins once they’re loose in order not to lose them?” the Captain asks Mouton Blanc, simultaneously grabbing Labaguette by his beak and tying it, “sit now!” he says to the bird, “just sit!  Sit!”

“Well, err.  This is private,” Mouton blanc says, but seeing the intense, disturbed curiosity his answer brings, he adds: “if you must know, there are holes inside the lock to hold the pins and these holes, if inserted in the right order by the right pin, could open the gate, except I am not mathematically inclined and can’t work the right order to do so.  It’s a safety mechanism set up for those occasions when keys get lost but a tricky one.  Far too complicated.  All I can do is to keep banging on the lock.”

To be continued…


“Mouton Blanc, my name is Mouton Blanc.”

“Who’s they?” the Captain insists.

“Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!” Labaguette exclaims, laughing his head off. “Fuck it!  White Sheep?”

“My mother was French.”

“Yeah right,” Labaguette retorts, burying his head inside his wings, as if to sob, except this isn’t quite sobbing and the Captain knows it.

“Labaguette!” the Captain orders the parrot, “Get back to your post and shut the fuck up!”

“All right, all right, all right.  I was only trying to—“

“—I’m creature.  I’m immortal, isn’t it obvious?”

“You’re a prisoner because you’ve been wearing those shackles for an awful long time,” the Captain suggests philosophically, “if you got rid of them, you’d be able to get out, wouldn’t you?”

“Get out where?” Mouton Blanc asks.

“To be freed.”

“From what?”

“Those pins look painful,” the King adds, wondering if this creature, if this Mouton Blanc has got what it takes to make any sense, any sense at all, and if perhaps they’d better be off making their way off to God knows where and avoid this Mouton Blanc of a kind.

“They hold me shackles secure,” Mouton Blanc answers, “they’re useful at night when I can remove them to take the gate off its hinges and let fresh air in, but during daytime it gets too hot.  The pins hold the shackles to hold me body together.”

“The pins hold—”

“—I’d melt without them.”

“You could walk out when you get the door off its hinges?” the King asks, “all you have to do is step over the threshold.”

To be continued…


“Welcome aboard,” Chloroph says, “join the crew, we all understand the deeper meaning of ‘stuck’”.  Three monkeys scamper and disappear back inside the hull.

“What, who are you?” the Captain asks.

“I’m a prisoner.  I lost my keys.  Can’t open this gate.”

All look at him bewildered.

“But,—“ Labaguette begins.

“—Really?” the Captain interrupts, joining the creature on its little pad, circling the gate with his hands behind him in a tight fist, an irritated smile on his lips.

“That’s right, mate,” the creature answers, “I too can walk around this gate.  All the same, can’t be opened.”

“Because you lost the keys.”

“Because I did.”

Now the King scratches his head and rolls his eyes to the sky as Labaguette listens assiduously, trying to understand, trying to follow his Master’s teaching even if there is none.

“Where do you come from?” Chloroph asks.

“We lost keys too,” Labaguette attempts, “they weren’t ours, they fell out of his pocket.”

“Fell where?” the creature asks.


“How far down?”

“Down below there, bottomless.”

“Whose keys were they?”

“Never mind.  Irretrievable.  Where did yours go?”

“My keys have been missing since the beginning of time.  This is why we’re prisoners.”

“You’re alone,” the King says.

“You’re my prisoners, I am your prisoner.”

“We’re lost, that’s different.  We’re not prisoners,” the Captain retorts.

The creature resumes its crying louder than before.

“What’s your name?” Labaguette asks, “Are you creature or are you mortal?”

“They all say that,” the creature continues, “they never listen.”

“Now, now, then.  They?” Captain Traumatic asks in an attempt to soothe the creature.

To be continued…


And for a while, some white, oblong and cylindrical object is travelling through the skies, having come out of one of the portals spread around to soon enter another.  The Captain reads aloud:

“NASA, Recovery Space Shuttle no 593 – CT mission.”

“There’s a clue Labaguette” says.

“What does it mean?” the King asks.

“I’ve seen it before,” the Captain remarks, “it’s a rocket.  They build rockets to reach the moon these days.  I’ve read about it.”

“There are many moons,” the King adds.

“None in sight,” Labaguette says.

“It was silent,” remarks Chloroph.

“Can’t hear anything else for the bloody dim,” the Captain adds, turning his attention to the immediate and forgetting nonsensical flying objects, reaching out for corks which he cuts and fills into Labaguette’s beak.  The parrot distributes the lot to all for ear protection when at last, their eyes can see the source of the clamour.

There, immediately ahead of them is one gigantic barred gate, closed, with one creature covered in chains, metallic bracelets and shackles of all sorts wrapped around his wrists, neck and ankles, standing behind it, banging its lock with a hammer.  The creature is looking at them, huge eyes imploring for forgiveness, for compassion, for help.

The Insatiable Princess shudders and stops by the side of the gate and the creature’s eyes begin to fill with tears until, unexpectedly, it sits down and starts crying, stopping the commotion at once and filling the air with the sound of sobs.

“Boy O Boy!” Labaguette exclaims.

“What’s the matter?” the Captain inquires.

“I’m stuck,” the creature says.

To be continued…


“ARE YOU ALL BLASPHEMOUS NUTS?” Chloroph yells from below the ship, thoroughly pissed off by the conversation leading nowhere and these unnatural, God damn sounds ceaselessly invading his skull, keeping his senses on alert.

“The rustling of leaves,” he continues, his voice echoing from below, reaching them, “the worm crawling through, the fluttering of wings of insects.  This is what we should hear and nothing else.”

“You’re below us for a reason” snarls Labaguette, “stay put and be silent, will you?”

“We must return, get the Insatiable Princess to turn back where she came from,” Chloroph insists.

“Ha! Ha! Ha! And get back through that same hook we came from?” the Captain says, exasperated, not only because he didn’t quite rid of Chloroph but also because the din is getting to his head and is threatening to undo the peace and calm he thought he and the others had finally been able to achieve in spite of their circumstances.

But the noise won’t cease.

Now, three monkeys come out of the hull wincing in pain, pushing their fingers inside their ears and the crew realises that something in the very nature of these sounds has to be looked at, studied and attended to.  It is as if the noise is here to attract their attention, to distract them and ensure they don’t fall into the regular pattern of those whose lives are built on straight lines.

All look to the direction where the sounds are coming from, trying to distinguish any shape that may be coming their way when, above them, a bright light illuminates the sky.

To be continued…