Written by Roy Turse
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Wednesday, 18 March 2009

image for Below Decks: Chapter Sixteen - Numb Skull Island A numb skull from Skull Island

Recap: Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter Five | Chapter Six | Chapter Seven | Chapter Eight | Chapter Nine | Chapter Ten | Chapter Eleven | Chapter Twelve | Chapter Thirteen | Chapter Fourteen | Chapter Fifteen

Roy Turse gradually became aware of the rhythmic sound of creaking timbers and slapping water. The aroma of pitch, overlaid by the stuffiness of the sleeping cabin was in turn cut by the pungent smell of rum-laced vomit. As he became more conscious he was able to make out the gentle swaying motion of his hammock and the incessant call of gulls. He opened his eyes. Twelve feet above him the scarred and stained wooden planks formed the underside of the main deck.

New sounds began to reach him. The synchronised soft wet snoring that only conjoined double amputees can make. The distant clatter as the ship's cook prepared an early breakfast of dry weevil biscuits and rancid lard. And the scurrying of rats as they tried to avoid the unwelcome nocturnal attention of Doctor Nicholas and his breeding experiments.

Buggerall! Turse sat up suddenly, the hammock swinging wildly beneath him. He managed to keep his balance and then jumped nimbly to the deck beneath him. He made his way out of the cabin. Buggerall! Surely there must be some mistake. The ship was lost, sunk several days ago. But here he was, even now racing up the familiar steps to the main deck. Buggerall!

But how? Reaching the main deck he looked about and realised he was the first up on deck. Everything looked as it should. The deck was dirty and ropes were left haphazardly. The sails were roughly folded away and the ship stood at anchor in what appeared to be a wide natural harbour. The sun shone and a salt-laden breeze rippled his clothing.

A dream! It must all have been a terrible and confusing dream, he realised. The ship was fine and well and the crew were all aboard and ready for adventure! He heard a sound behind him and turned. Madame Dora Piebottom stood there silently in a skimpy bodice. Her eyes twinkled as she reached up and unpinned her hair, shaking her head and allowing it to cascade around her shoulders. She moved forwards, reaching up to Roy's cheeks and pulling his head towards hers. Her lips parted as they met Roy's and she leaned further into the kiss, a small inadvertent groan coming from her throat. Roy closed his eyes, surrendering himself to the moment, running his hands down her furry grey back and…

He opened his eyes. The ship was gone. Dora was gone. The seal that was licking his face smelled of raw fish. Roy was lying on his back on wet sand, the waves rolling up the beach to reach him before sliding back out to sea. He pushed the amorous seal away and sat up.

Bollocks. Now he knew he was really awake, and that The Buggerall was really lost. Dora would never have favoured him, and he should have realised that tampering with a seal was much more his mark.

His stomach growled, and he looked around for something to eat. There were several fish washed up, but he couldn't tell how fresh they were. And they told you not to eat them if the seal has been tampered with. And that was another thing that should have made him realise it had all been a dream. In the dream there had been none of the terrible puns that usually mocked his everyday life. But now they were back.

Roy looked around him. He knew he should keep his eyes peeled, but he had lost his razor in the water, so he gave them a quick rub. It was obvious he had been washed up on the beach, but his recollection of exactly how he had got into the sea eluded him. Usually when he got into the sea it was via the surface, but he had no idea in this case.

He realised he was in some pain in the groin area and opened his breeches and his trademark red buttoned underpants to check for damage. Looking down at his tender loin he realised he must have sustained some damage from being tumbled against the rocks as the tide brought him to shore. And that barnacle wasn't supposed to be there either.

Roy checked his bearings. Two, but both slightly damaged. He set off up the beach toward the tree line.

- - - -

Just around the headland on another beach three other washed up pirates were just reassembling. Hal A. Peno, Birbee and Earl Grey had all been thrown from the Buggerall's landing boat at the same time as Roy, and were now discussing their situation.

"I reckon Roy must have been abducted by mermaids," said Peno, "otherwise he would have been washed up with us."

"You can't presume he was abducted by mermaids," replied Birbee, "Maybe he turned into a turtle."

"Or maybe he got dragged ashore somewhere else by an amorous seal," suggested Earl Grey.

"Don't be daft, Earl," said Hal, "he's more likely to have been swallowed by a whale like Pinnochio's father, Jonah. Or lifted from the sea by a giant pelican and carried to Portsmouth."

Birbee thought for a minute. "Or maybe," he said, and then quietly; "Or maybe, he could have drowned."

The three men pondered this new idea silently. Then they decided to go inland and worry about getting Roy back from the mermaids later.

- - - -

Meanwhile, Roy was forcing his way through the heavy jungle that bordered the beach. He would need food and rum soon, otherwise he was in danger of rehydration. He glanced down and considered his awkward predicament. 'Looks nasty,' he thought, 'I'll avoid scrambling over any fallen logs in case my will is broken.'

Trying to ignore the pain that radiated from his nether regions, he struggled onward. The jungle was thick, but Roy was its equal. He lashed out at the foliage until his eyelids got tired, then used his arms to beat back the bushes. He tripped over a fallen tree in the forest, but didn't make a sound because there was nobody there to hear it.

Bursting into a clearing was something he wanted to avoid so he stopped for a wee behind a large boulder. Carefully, he attempted his call of nature. After a while he decided that animal noises were just a waste of time, so he unlaced his britches, tore open his red underpants, cradled his mashed manhood gently and urinated.

'What the hell am I going to do now,' Roy thought to himself, which is about the best way for a man on his own to think. He'd raised a sore point and he wished he had some of Doctor Nicholas's ointment to put on it. Gently, he popped Percy into his pantaloons. Then he adjusted his set, in spite of the warnings on TV. Once comfortable he began making his way through the jungle again.

- - - -

While this was going on the other group had also managed to get inland and were now very close to Roy's path. As they went around a particularly large rock, Hal saw a puddle of blood-tinged urine steaming in the sunlight. It looked and smelt like a deranged jungle barman had tried to make a cocktail using Sunny Delight and Tabasco Sauce. And floating in the middle was a small red underpants button.

The three men looked at one-another, and another. They all knew what this meant. The only person who wore red buttoned underpants was Roy Turse!

It stood to reason that mermaids must have stolen Roy's underpants, wriggled ashore, urinated, thrown in the button and then dragged themselves back to the sea. Either that or the urine belonged to woodland creature, injured by a button dropped from a passing giant pelican, en-route to Portsmouth. They decided to continue anyway, and it was starting to get dark as the three men crashed on through the undergrowth.

Up ahead of them Roy was feeling very sore. He had had his aspirations crushed before, but never to this extent. Worried about tripping in the darkness and doing more damage, he pulled a small battery torch from his pocket.

It was no good; he was in too much pain to push on. Unfortunately without doing that, the torch wouldn't work. He threw it away in anger and slumped to the ground. Then, from behind him, came the unmistakable sound of three men staring. Roy turned to find Ship's Accountant Peno, Father Birbee and Earl Grey gawping at him as though he had just escaped from mermaids.

"Thank God you're here!" shouted Turse, "What happened?"
"The ships tender," began Grey, but Roy interrupted.
"If you think the ships tender have a look at this lot."
He showed them his meat and one and a half veg in the half-light and they winced.

"We were all thrown out of the ship's tender," Earl Grey tried again, "when we were on our way to Skull Island. I reckon the others turned back to the iceberg once they saw how rocky it was."
"And you were nearly swallowed by a whale!" said Hal, "but mermaids must have scared it off."
"I thought I was the sole survivor," said Turse.
"Maybe you are," said Birbee, "We haven't found anyone else. And at least six went overboard."
"What do you think happened to the others?" asked Roy.
There was a pause.

"Well," said Hal, "we have a number of theories…"

- - - -

It was several days before Roy and his group found their way into the heart of Skull Island. In that time, as well as discussing their theories, they had found fresh water and some food. Foraging for nuts was still painful for Roy, but he was on the mend, and he could now get through the night without screaming as long as he didn't think about Madame Piebottom. Or seals.

As the four adventurers worked their way further inland on the third day, they became aware of a sound, the like of which they had never heard before. It was similar to the noise Monkey Woods makes when snoring, the like of which they had heard before, only much louder.

As they approached a hilltop the noise increased, until it was almost deafening as they reached the summit. They looked down. A massive ape, surely bigger than the Buggerall herself had been, was asleep in the bottom of a shallow valley in front of them. Its bellowing snores shook the trees as they stared in amazement.

"Look at the size of that thing!", said Earl Grey, pointing at the ape's thing.
"Shh!", said Roy, but it was too late. The snoring stopped mid-inhale, and one huge eye opened, looking straight at them.

There was a loud exhalation, but this came from the men's collective britches. They watched in horror as the huge gorilla shook itself and started to get up. It looked hungry and quite ready for a 'hearties' breakfast.

"R-R-Run l-like F-f-f-f.." stammered Roy, riveted to the spot, "f-f-f-f", he stuttered, realising that the others had already gone, "..f-f-f-f..French!", he managed, breaking for the trees.

In spite of his injuries, Roy raced after the other men and soon caught them up. He stopped to take off his pirate boots. "There's not much point in doing that," said Peno, "even without your boots you won't be able to outrun a monster gorilla."
"I don't need to," replied Roy, "I only need to outrun you lot." He raced off into the jungle, the loud crashes informing him that the other men and the giant gorilla were giving chase.

The frantic chase went on for some time and they got split up. At one point Roy heard a noise that was possibly Earl Grey or Birbee getting eaten. Or excited, it was hard to tell. After a while, he realised he could no longer hear the rampaging ape. Regretfully, he had only got away by leaving his boots, and his buddies, behind. He had never been much on 'one for all and all for one', but they had been really good boots. He decided to hide in a dense bit of undergrowth. Exhausted, he fell asleep.

- - - -

He woke up in the ship's cinema. The rest of the crew were whooping and shouting; the film had obviously just finished. As the lights came up he looked about him. It was the cinema in the Buggerall!

Gradually it all came back to him.

Captain Morse setting up the projector and the crew going wild. Then the Captain telling them it wasn't to be 'educational' films, and the crew going much less wild. Then him saying it was the home movie he had shot to record their latest escapades just in case a major film studio did show any interest in their adventures, and the utter silence that followed.

Finally, the Captain saying that he'd 'spliced it up a bit'.

He remembered the start of the film showing them setting out from Bristol and the run-up to the attack on the huge French man-o-war. There was the fight with the squid and the ransacking of the American trader Madoff. Then came the various crew-members' accounts of the extremely complicated and messy battle with the French ship. It was at this point in the film that the drunken Captain appeared to have mixed up the order of some of the clips. Once Morse had realised it had gone wrong he seemed to have decided to mix in any other film footage he could find in the ship's collection, because that's when it all got surreal.

Where he got the Michael Jackson video from was anyone's guess, although Roy knew the ship's accountant was a bit of a fan. Morse had carefully spliced it into the film, presumably to make it more entertaining.

But mixing it in with more of their journey, the shipwreck scene from Titanic, a bit of Robinson Crusoe and a chunk of King Kong bordered on the insane. However, Roy had to admit it worked on some strange level; probably the orlop deck. No wonder Turse's mind had got confused and he'd had weird dreams. Anyone experiencing this would have been confused, but it all made sense really, he thought.

The crew dispersed and left Roy wondering about the Buggerall. He soon got tired and made his way towards his quarters. Cook Skoob greeted him on the poop deck; not very hygienic, but he'd probably wash his hands eventually.
"Hey Roy," said the cook, "We're setting sail for Portugal tomorrow. It seems someone has seen Hornblower's ship there."

Roy realised that next to the Captain, Skoob was probably most important in making sure the ship and crew were safe. He was a bonder of men. Well, his hard-boiled-egg pie was.

And Earl Grey. He was another chap who could be relied upon to pick up the torch and run with it. Usually straight into the rigging. Still, hopefully once he was recovered from the night's celebrations he would help the Buggerall on her way.

Roy went down to his cabin. He removed his filthy clothes and put his buckle out to be swashed. Climbing into his hammock, his last thought was that he was profoundly pleased that the Buggerall was safe, their story was straight and their adventures could continue. It probably meant bugger all to anyone else, but it meant the world to him.

Continue to chapter seventeen...

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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