It could have lasted an eternity.  In all, two minutes and twenty five seconds elapse, and in that time Captain Traumatic sees an enormous, all-encompassing light which he mistakes for heaven.  I’ll be damned, he thinks, paradise!  I’ve missed out on the tunnel.  It’s far too bright in here: my eyes are closed and I’m still holding my breath, and in all honesty, I know that evil darkness of biblical proportions should be my lot because this is what I’m made for and—.


Who the fuck is this calling the Captain thinks.  Here, here it is Labaguette, Labaguette before and after: with and without wings.  A stumbling bird singing songs that click and clack.  Oh but here is the King and hey, oh!  He must have called.  Here, right here, the love of my life, my kindred soul, where art though oh thee roaming Princess?  Who called?  I miss you, me strong and silent travelling companion from before the beginning of time, my dearest Insatiable Princess.  Who called?  Will you be waiting for me?  Are you lost, wandering the skies of—.


This time, the wake-up call comes with a splash and the instantly recognisable taste of rum on the Captain’s lips.

“Birdseye! So this is what a dark tunnel looks like.  Made it to hell, didn’t we?”

“Quiet, Captain!”

Birdseye’s goggles are glowing of a fading orange light.  He is holding a small metallic rod in his hand and a myriad of tiny metallic roots coming out of soil and rock walls are sniffing that rod.

To be continued…



“We’d better stop before—”

“—You can’t stop this cage running and besides, it’s going to take us where there are others and that’s all we need!” the Captain retorts.

“We’re in danger—”

“—Whatever you know now, now isn’t the time.”

“My timing—”

But the Captain’s last word fall flat along with the cage and its contents.

“Told you,” Birdseye says calmly.

The cage’s feet have become entangled in metallic branches protruding out of the sand that are pulling the cage relentlessly underground.

“Lay flat and stay calm!” Birdseye says.

“What is it?”

“Wild bush.  It senses the cages are made using the same metal.  They’re family, only those branches haven’t been worked on nor tamed.”



But the metallic bush has ensnared the bars and is pulling the cage into the sands while some of its branches are exploring the Captain’s body, tapping and sniffing him.

“It’s going to eat me.”

“It’ll drag you under before.”

“Do something.”

“Shut up!”

Birdseye lands on top of the cage reaches for a small flask he keeps by his tights’ belt, and drinks from it before handing some to Captain Traumatic.

“Rum from the River, huh?” he asks, “my last hour has come, don’t lie to me.”

“I’m going under with you.  When I say so, catch your breath and close your eyes until it is safe.”

“When will—”

“—Do as I say, NOW!”

Birdseye lays flat on the cage before he, the cage and the Captain inside it are irremediably sucked up under sand, soil and rock.

To be continued…


Guards who are hit fall screaming and disintegrate into tiny popping bubbles.  Others, greedy and dexterous, dodge the burning bubbles to command teams of abandoned boxes to salvage some rum from the large pond that is forming around the volcano.

“They’re going to die,” the Captain remarks.

“Not our problem.”

“We’re attracting attention.”

“You’re going to be arrested.  I’ll give you in then hide following you.”

“You took your time.”

As they reach the gate, two guards stop them.

“Call a cage,” Birdseye says, “take this pirate to the Colonel!”

“We’ve order to stay put.  We’ll set the cage’s GPS to track the Colonel’s abode.”


“We’re trusted, we’ve got the code but you must stay with us, Birdseye, until the Captain is long gone.”

Once more the Captain looks inside Birdseye’s googles trying to guess his intentions.  A guard whistles a cage to approach and confine the Captain in it before taking him away.

“You’re on your way,” the guard says, “you’re a waste of breath, may the desert gobble you up before you get anywhere!”

Another strident whistle and a group of wild, scattered boxes gather fast, wrapping themselves neat and tight around the two helpless sentinels, the boxes’ small metallic limbs clicking and clacking, locking and securing a tight, hermetic trap.

Across the uninviting, flat desert land, close to where the horizon line falls into an abyss, a cage is running, Birdseye flying fast behind it on his spherical box before reaching it.  They travel days and nights until the rays of the third sun are born and point to a range of low rocky hills.  Then the cage decidedly turns towards them.

To be continued…


“There is power in what can’t be seen,” Birdseye says.

“What do you know now?”

“I know,” Birdseye answers the Captain who raises his eyes to the skies in contempt, wondering if this hellraising birdman is well read, knows of Star Wars and Yoda, or if common sense eludes him.

Birdseye now points his finger with insistence at the fountain as the remaining creatures either retreat under the sands, conquered, or go on feasting on each other until there is nothing left of them.  Above them, guards hover and stare fascinated until the creatures are no more.  Then they scatter around the streaming liquid in an attempt to collect it.

“We’d better make a move,” the Captain says.

“What do you propose?”

“Thought you might know.”

“When the time comes, I know.”

“Well, now is the time.”

Birdseye shifts his attention back to the fountain.

“All right, all right, ‘when the time comes’, listen, we’d better find the King and the monkeys,” the Captain continues, looking deep inside Birdseye’s goggles, frowning.

“Can’t even see my reflection”

“Many have tried,” Birdseye says.

“Let me see your eyes.”

“They could be anywhere,” Birdseye says, still averting the Captain’s persevering gaze and focussing on the fountain.

“Back to square one,” the Captain adds, “back where we came from, that gate over there, is best.”

Captain Traumatic’s last words are drowned by the fountain’s strength as it overwhelms the crumbling grounds surrounding it and erupts into a volcano of kind, spewing fumes, rum and bubbles that pop and explode into the air, in turn spewing treacherous sparks of burning material that reaches out for anything within close vicinity before falling back onto the ground, burning it and forming holes of bubbling matter of unfathomable consequences.

To be continued…


“Get me to the Colonel’s abode,” the Captain says.

“We’d be captured and put to death on the spot.”

“You do have friends?”

“What do you mean?”


“I’m a leading artist.”



“Policeman-Dancers you can trust?”

“Shifting loyalties.  They know not who they are at the best of times but usually behave like one or the other, if not both.  Do you trust Labaguette?”

“Get us back to the King and the prisoners, we’ll gather strength.”

Back where the cages were standing, a trail of marks lead Birdseye and the Captain nowhere as it suddenly disappears.  Then, as the dust slowly settles, they notice a number of guards who remain there hovering, doing nothing, as if waiting for the remaining snake-worms to get back into the ground or die.

“Someone was here before us,” Birdseye remarks.

“Colonel Loga?”

“Not possible,” Birdseye says, watching the guards staring at the liquid gushing.

“What’s the matter with them?” the Captain asks.

“The River of Rum,” Birdeye says, “you freed it.”

“It was easy.”

“You’ve done what no one could do before.”

“You told me what to do.”

“I only knew when I told you.”


But Birdseye is captivated by the scene unfolding in front of them: there, the trickle is now a fountain gaining in momentum at every second that passes and the creatures quenching from it are showing signs of strain until ultimately, they are either thrown into the air or pulverised by the strength of the liquid bursting out of the ground.

To be continued…


“Children?” The King asks.

“Yes, children,” the Captain says.

“Children only exist in books,” Birdseye says, “Wake up!  We can’t waste any more time.”

“That’s where I learned about them too,” Captain Traumatic answers.

“Catch this!” Birdseye orders, throwing to the Captain’s his confiscated sword, “plant it as deep as you can into the ground, l’ll protect you.”

Around them, the snakes-worms are eating anyone  or anything that comes their way, indiscriminately.

“HURRY!” Birdseye thunders as thick clouds of dust and sand rise and threaten to engulf them all.

With Birdseye fast and furiously swinging his baton in a bid to hit the frantic worm-beasts, Captain Traumatic holds the sword high above him before thrusting it and planting it straight before him, firmly into the ground.  Then, they hear a mighty crack, as if the floor is about to open and gobble them all up.  There, at the Captain’s feet, right where the sword is planted, a trickle of gold liquid is spreading while the snakes-worms sniff, stop, and sniff some more.

“Run to your cages now!” Birdseye orders the King, the monkeys and the prisoners still standing, “run!”


“Any cage will do.  Lock yourselves in!”

Birdseye grabs the Captain and throws him on his back before flying away on his sphere, a blaze of light speeding in the dense dust.

“Close your eyes,” he says.

“Where are you taking me?”

“To Labaguette.”

By the time Birdseye reaches Colonel Loga’s cabin in the arena, the Colonel has disappeared with Labaguette while the discontented and disoriented crowd disperses.

To be continued…


Mounds of sands rise and diminish until part snakes, part translucent worm, their insides visible, come out slithering, panting and drooling onto the grounds, hungry.  The dancing policemen spread high above the arena’s walls increase the pace of their dance, like refined and demented Voodoo dolls.

“Come see me if you dare!” one prisoner taunts the snake-worms, but before he has time to step aside, one such creature is upon him, digesting him from its rear end, slowly decomposing its victim its terrified and haunted face seen by all.

“Fast movers,” the Captain mutters.

“Doomed, we’re doomed,” the King insists, the Monkey holding hands, ready for an escape.

At that moment, Birdseye lands a few meters from the King and the Captain and stamps his foot as loud as he can, rhythmically.  Accustomed as they are to follow his lead, the dancing policemen imitate him and stamp their feet.

“Surely he wouldn’t?” Colonel Loga wonders out loud.

So the Captain begins stamping his foot too and, as the remainder of the prisoners follow in their lead, more worm-creatures, only smaller, come out of the sandy grounds.

“We could do without the relatives,” Captain Traumatic remarks when, one large snake-worm pounces on the small versions that are emerging by his side, and in a swift and efficient move, gobbles them all up.  Across it, one angry, mean worm engages in a battle with this unanticipated bully where who is eating and what is being eaten is impossible to distinguish.  Birdseye turns to the Captain and explains:

“The fathers eat the young.  The mothers fight the fathers to death.”

“On my planet,” the King says, “this would—“

“—Some parenting skills!” the Captain remarks.

To be continued…