As the rain hammers down on the lifeless body of the San Francisco Onion, an anomaly occurs. As the water pounds his remaining hair, plastering it to his cold, dark, dead skull he appears to stir slightly.
Or is it just the howling wind?
As we focus on his lifeless face, with skin as green as any of his Utopian philosophical takes on life, suddenly, and scaring the absolute crap out of everyone, (meaning you, dear reader, not cast members, who are occupied elsewhere, just you, the casual observer) his eyes spring open.
They glitter in the pounding rain and the lightning streaked sky.
They are not the eyes of a wolf, or a feline super predator, just eyes.
"Aargh fuck!" he curses.
He remembers he was shot by that psychopath in the leather apron. Shot dead in fact. Yet strangely, he feels no pain. He gradually hauls himself to his feet, surprisingly, rather like a wino who has shipped way too much ballast. He eventually manages to haul himself upright as the feeling in his legs starts to return.
He feels better than he did before some idiot drunk shunted him off his bike in the Bay Area. He lurches, staggers and slips a little before things kind of return to a state of normalcy (or 'normality' as we prefer here in the good old U of K, linguistic snobs as we are.)
Gradually, thoughts and memories return to the task in hand. He's a man on a mission. He just can't quite remember what that mission is, but he's feeling stronger, by the moment. His purpose in life is to serve his Master, a bit like Renfield in the original 'Dracula' novel by Bram Stoker, the unsung champion of the Irish people, whose main legacy is a Goth weekend at Whitby, held in his honour.
But no way is SFO going to dine on insects like his fictional counterpart. For him, it's quorn burgers, tofu or sweet fuck all. With this utterly vegetarian thought in mind, he scampers off into the night, howling like a demented banshee,off into the ferocious storm like a malevolent force and not the guy who thought he could change the world single handedly.
He heads for the trees...
The interior of the country house is a vast space, a cavernous hallway, with twin staircases leading to the upper floor.
But there is no oak panelling here, no suits of armour, no old masters adorning the walls in gilt frames.
Pinning things to the walls.
"Eeurrgh look!" Angie points at something. For the first time since the story started, her nipples deflate. Almost discernibly. "What the hell is that?"
"It's a pecker," Abel tells her, throwing a protective arm around her shoulder. Her nipples immediately re-inflate.
"That's awful," she gasps, nuzzling into Abel Zorro's shoulder for comfort.
"It is indeed," Abel says.
"My God," Angie blurts. "I've never seen a floppy one like that! They're usually proud and upstanding. Well, some are larger than others I guess, but they usually all look pretty much the same to me."
"Enough!" Todd blurts. He doesn't truly appreciate the way Angie's nipples have responded to the mysterious masked swordsman's touch. They've pumped up like airbags.
"You have a problem?" Abel Zorro slashes the air with his formidable blade.
"Yes...er...no...whatever..." Todd says quietly, reverentially.
"That's good," Abel Zorro says, gently nodding his head. "I would find it most unpleasant to be drawn into a conflict with you, young man. Particularly a conflict which would be of your own making, based on your own inadequacies. And of course, a conflict which would throw up only one victor. And I will give you a clue: It would not be you."
A voice pipes up from the rear.
"Did I ever tell you guys about the day I bought the wrong flavoured crisps in a shop in Pattaya Beach, in Thailand? It was hilarious. Really..." Monkey Woods says nervously.
"Oh do fuck off!" he is told in no uncertain terms by the assembled cast.
"We're gonna have to split up and sweep the building," Johnny Boy says, feeling vaguely uneasy, because all the females in the gang seem unable to tear their eyes away from the burgeoning bulge in his trousers. Which only seves to inflate his mutton dagger even more. Much to his embarrassment.
"Great idea," Buck says, unable to conceal the scorn in his voice. "You talk like a fucking idiot, kid. We're in mortal peril, so let's all split up so these inbred mutant zombies can pick us off piecemeal. Just like in the movies huh? You fuckin' jerkoff."
The swelling in Johnny Boy's trousers subsides instantly with the delivery of this devastating put-down. The swelling in Angie's nipples increases transversely.
"Don't...you...ever...call me a...fuckin' jerk-off!" Johnny Boy hisses.
"Why?" Buck says casually. "You gonna set your fuckin' dogs on me ya lame brained asshole?"
The confrontation gathers atmosphere in a hallway filled with excised human body parts nailed to the walls.
It's like a butcher's shop - a cock here, a cock there, a tit, a face, a liver, some kidneys, a spleen, a coke addled nose, sans septum, a buttock, and several bearded clams.
"I'm warning you..." Johnny Boy snarls.
"Warning me what? That your head is emptier than the Postal Service Pension Fund?" Buck quips casually.
"Hey Buck," Abel Zorro says. "Go easy on the kid. We're all in this together. Remember?"
"You could have fooled me," Nick says. "If you ask me, the writer of this adventure has lost his way. His printer has probably run out of ink so it's difficult for him to refer to previous episodes for reference."
"What are you implying here, Nick?" Fran says. She steps forward, a vision of loveliness.
"I'm trying to tell you this story has lost the fucking plot!" Nick screams.
Jeeze, Johnny Boy thinks. She looks really horny when her dander's up.
"She's right!" Lola shreiks. "When this story started, I was a sex symbol! Now I'm just a long legged racehorse with no God-damned tits!"
"I agree!" Fran wails. "You really are a long legged racehorse with no God-damned tits! No offence intended..."
"Why you..." Lola snarls...
Then everybody freezes.
The thump of barefooted footfalls whumps from the mezzanine floor.
"I knew this would happen!" a gloating voice teases from above. "None of you have any discernable talent. You're not green. And you don't ride bicycles!"
Buck holds up a hand as the others gasp.
"Wait!" he says.
"Come on Bargis!" the voice from above exhorts. "Let's play! You know you wanna. Big Man..."
Buck and Abel Zorro exchange glances of mutual understanding.
"I know who you are!" Buck shouts. "You're Thomas Craig, the San Francisco Onion! And you're dead!"
"what is dead? What does dead mean?"the malevolent voice taunts.
"I'll show you fucking dead," Buck snarls. "You God damned Fag City reprobate, idler, and fucking library user!"
"Bring it on, oh Great White Hunter!" the zombified SFO taunts from somewhere above.
"YOU!"[strong]Buck bellows at Nick. With ME! NOW!"
Nick follows Buck as they race up the stairways.
As they reach the top, a trapdoor is sprung, and both men find themselves swallowed up by darkness, and falling through space.
"Maybe a little impetuous and uninspired..." Abel Zorro muses sagely.
Buck and Nick land heavily in a darkened cavern, filled with floodwater.
"I'm scared," Nick mutters. He's cold and wet and traumatized. "Now what?"
"I'll have to think about that one," Buck says enigmatically.
Determined that whoever is behind this abomination is about to have a very bad day.
To be continued...probably...