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Friday, 19 March 2010

#FridayFlash: UCF #4: The Boys Are Back in Town

Met with such a wave of excitement that the news of their recent demise had proved pre-emptive, Swazzle and Pogmorton could do nothing as they found themselves swept along into the Officers’ Mess, and were only able to excuse themselves after three huge plates of slowworm stroganoff, several flagons of acorn beer, and having recounted the story of their near-death experience in the Other World numerous times.

Feeling somewhat light-headed and extremely full, Swazzle and Pogmorton finally managed to escape the festivities and headed off in the direction of Flaarti’s lab, deep in the maze of tunnels under Pixie Defence Force (P.D.F.) headquarters.

They were discussing just how they were going to explain their lateness in reporting to Flaarti, when round the corner came a small figure, dressed in something which looked like a cross between a clown costume and a court jester.

‘Salkeld? Is that you?’ Swazzle asked, stifling a giggle. ‘What on earth are you wearing?’

‘It is Salkeld!’ exclaimed Pogmorton, ‘and it looks as though he’s lost the bet. Again.’

Salkeld scowled.

‘Actually,’ Salkeld replied, drawing himself up to his full height, his nose level with Pogmorton’s chest, ‘I got my promotion – it’s Trickster Sergeant Salkeld to you.’

‘That’s Trickster Sergeant Salkeld to you, Captain Pogmorton. Sir,’ corrected Porgmorton.

‘Trickster Sergeant?’ asked Swazzle incredulous, ‘How did a little worm like you manage that? Things must be bad if they’re employing you to hide the Big Folks’ car keys.’

Ignoring the rebuke, a sly look crept across Salkeld’s face.

‘Oughtn’t you be on your way to see Flaarti?’ Salkeld asked smugly, ‘I saw him earlier and happened to mention you were back. Sir.’

‘Happened to mention? Happened to mention, my arse!’ growled Pogmorton, ‘For once in your miserable life Salkeld, why can’t you just keep your nose out of other Pixies’ business? Eh? Remember what happened the last time – you nearly got us drummed out of the service.’

Salkeld smirked.

The smirk was short-lived as Swazzle, whipping out an evil looking little wand from inside his uniform remarked, ‘I think we can do something about Pixies poking their noses in where they’re not wanted,’ and, with a flick of his wrist, Salkeld’s nose detached itself from his face and spiralled off into the darkness.

‘Aargh! By dose,’ whined Salkeld, frantically feeling the newly flattened part of his face above his top lip.

‘Well, must get on,’ said Swazzle affably, ‘so bugger off Salkeld, there’s a good chap. We’re busy.’

Swazzle and Pogmorton hurried away, leaving Salkeld groping around in the shadows for his nose, and grumbling quietly to himself about all the things he’d like to do to the pair of them.

* * *

Professor B. Flaarti, Major (retd), Director of the P.D.F.’s Repugnant and Dangerous (R & D) Division looked up over his pinz nez spectacles, no mean feat there being thirteen lenses in each glass, as the heavy oak door to the lab swung slowly open.

His irritation at the sight of Swazzle and Pogmorton, resplendent in the scarlet frock coats of their dress uniforms, cuckoo feather epaulettes marking them out as fully fledged Captains of the Special Operations Directorate (S.O.D.), was tempered just enough by thoughts of what they ought to be bringing him.

He regarded the approaching Pixies with a steely gaze, twenty-six steely gazes in fact.

Avoiding Flaarti’s gazes, Swazzle glanced around the lab, suppressing a shudder at the sight of a fully dissected fairy floating in a large jar of formaldehyde. Other unmentionable things were being worked on by a variety of Pixie and Goblin technicians, and in the far corner stood a large iron cage containing a rather weak and sickly looking fairy.

‘Well, where is it?’ Flaarti barked, marching over to meet Swazzle and Pogmorton as he spoke.

‘You were under orders to report to me immediately upon your return,’ he continued, punctuating his speech by poking Pogmorton in the chest with a bony finger, ‘not,’ he paused, ‘to go carousing in the Officers’ Mess. It’s a good job I ran into Salkeld…’

Flaarti voice trailed off, his attention suddenly focussed on the small wooden box Pogmorton held out towards him. Putting the bony finger away in the pocket of his lab coat, Flaarti gingerly took the box from Pogmorton and carried it over to a brass-bound, wooden box-like contraption on the nearby bench.

The apparatus looked to Swazzle like a cross between a cuckoo clock and an old fashioned gramophone, a huge trumpet sticking out of the top of it. He watched as Flaarti opened a small door in the front, put the box inside, and began to turn a handle on the side of the machine.

Almost at once, the trumpet atop the apparatus began screaming a warning before a jet of violet flame shot out of the top of the machine, incinerating both it and its contents. Immediately Flaarti began bellowing orders to the lab staff, who frantically started packing things into boxes they conjured out of thin air.

‘Tainted,’ Flaarti screamed at Swazzle and Pogmorton, ‘that Fairy Dust was tainted. Twinkle must have added something to it, an Ethereal Tracking Potion by the colour of the flame. It’s a good job no one ingested any,’ he looked pointedly at Pogmorton, ‘or else the Fairies may well be able to track their every movement. You’d better make yourselves scarce, I have to move the lab, just in case.’

With that he turned and waded into the mayhem, directing the packing…

Pogmorton looked at Swazzle, ‘Oh shite.’

* * *

In the Scrying Citadel of the Fairy castle, operators sat hunched over their glasses in the darkness, scanning the Magical World. One operator suddenly looked up from his glass and called an officer over. After a muttered conversation the officer returned to where Twinkle was waiting.

‘We have the location of Flaarti’s lab,’ he said with grim satisfaction.

‘Right,’ replied Twinkle, ‘Let’s go get my sister back.'



Marisa Birns said...

Oooh, so glad the Boys -- and this story -- are back!

You haven't lost the touch, Sam. Enjoyed this very much. Wonderful details and the humor is great.

S.O.D. made me laugh out loud!

Sam said...

Marisa Birns - Thanks! Took a bit of doing, I can tell you, getting back into writing after my vacation,I'm so glad you enjoyed the story.

Swazzle and Pogmorton are a pair of little S.O.D.s, aren't they? ;)

Deanna Schrayer said...

I have to tell you Sam, I love the acronyms the most. I work for a clinical research organization and have to know what a gazillion of them stand for. Yours are so much more fun, (and easy to remember). :)

I just love this series and especially Swazzle and Pogmorten. They remind me so much of Laurel and Hardy. Thanks for this installment!

Laura Eno said...

Ah, yes. The boys are back! Great humor in this and the details are fabulous!

mazzz in Leeds said...

Good to see you back, Sam!
I had a right good chuckle at R&D!!
Messrs S&P are certainly proving to be good, if accidental, allies to Twinkle!

Sam said...

Deanna Schrayer - Thanks Deanna, I don't envy you having to remember so many acroyms at work. I usually struggle thinking up acronyms, but for some reason the one for Swazzle and Pogmorton's unit just kinda popped into my head! So pleased you're enjoying this series.

Laura Eno - Thanks Laura, I try to incorporate the little details wherever I can. Very pleased you're enjoying the humour of these stories.

Sam said...

mazzz in Leeds - Thanks Mazzz, it's good to be back. Glad you're still enjoying this series of stories. Yes, Messrs S&P do seem to have a habit of inadvertently helping Twinkle, don't they?

[BTW, at the time of replying, Blogger seems to be having trouble displaying your comment. Just thought I'd better mention that in case it seems as though I'm replying to an invisible message.]

Laurita said...

Oh those tricksie fairies. This series is so much fun. These guys are hilarious.

Kim Batchelor said...

Two of my favorite things: pixies and flying noses. Very clever and fun. I need to catch up, though, with previous installments.

Welcome back!

John Wiswell said...

Any chance this R&D is hiring? They seem like my kind of people. Or unpeople.

Sam said...

Laurita - I'm so pleased you like Swazzle and Pogmorton, it saves them having to raid your bins! ;)

Kim Batchelor - Thanks for a great comment, though I'm mildly worried that flying noses are one of your favourite things! Previous installments are here on my blog, or serialised over at The Penny Dreadful ( I'd love to hear what you think of previous installments.

Sam said...

John Wiswell - I'll ask John, next time I run into Flaarti.

The lab scene was inspired in part by Biology class at school, though my teacher bore no resemblance to any Pixie, living or otherwise; he wasn't nearly that interesting.

Cascade Lily said...

Hey the return of the UCF! You write with such a light touch - seems effortless (and we all know it isn't). I loved 'By dose'! That tickles my very childlike sense of humour!

Eric J. Krause said...

Another great installment to this very funny series. Loved the exchange between the three that ended with the flying nose. Great job!

G.P. Ching said...

Your names are awesome-Flaarti, Swazzle, Pogmorten--you couldn't have chosen better from a book of Fairy baby names. Clever story. I particular like the description of the lab.

Sam said...

Cascade Lily - Thanks! This installment was a bit of a slog to write, which will teach me to have an idea but decide to leave it till after a vacation; I'm glad it came across so well in the end.

Eric J Krause - Thanks Eric, I'm pleased you enjoyed the flying nose scene - I have no clue where the inspiration for the end of that scene came from.

G.P. Ching - Thank you. It may seem a bit of a cliche, but Swazzle & Pogmorton just popped into my head one day, fully formed and named. Flaarti on the other hand, took a bit of work to name. I don't know why some some characters seems to name themselves, yet I wrack my brain to get names for others. Any ideas?

Maria A. Kelly said...

Great story. Love those characters Swazzle & Pogmorton. And S.O.D., that's just brilliant. Keep 'em coming.

Sam said...

Maria A. Kelly - Thanks! Pleased to hear you enjoyed the story. Don't forget to check out the preceding installments either here at Future; Nostalgic or over at The Penny Dreadful (link in my sidebar). :)

Amy J Taylor said...

Yey! The boys are back...and still as much fun! Enjoyed this installment just as much as the others, Sam! :)

Sam said...

Amy J Taylor - Thanks Amy, glad to hear Swazzle & Pogmorton can still make you smile. :)

Josie said...

I shall never be able to export a document to PDF again without thinking of the Pixie Defence Force ;-)

The vanishing nose - genius; and the manner of description of said vanishing, love it ..."groping around in the shadows for his nose" LOL!

Another excellent one Sam, thanks, look forward to episode 5 :-)

Sam said...

Josie - Thanks! Knowing Swazzle he'll be telling the old, "Salkeld has no nose..." joke for some time to come! ;)

Episode 5 coming soon...

Icy Sedgwick said...

Wow! So inventive!

Loved it. :-)

Sam said...

Icy Sedgwick - Thanks! Pleased you enjoyed it. If you enjoyed this story, the previous installments in the series are available here on Future; Nostalgic (under the #fridayflash tag in my sidebar tag cloud), or on The Penny Dreadful; I hope you enjoy them too. :)

Cathy Olliffe said...

I think I had your blog open all day on my computer... I read your story and went to comment on it and then got distracted and went to work... so I guess I never did tell you how much I loved your story and your characters!
But I do!

Sam said...

Cathy Olliffe - Thanks Cathy, it means a lot to me that you took the time to comment on my story. It sounds like "The Boys" made quite an impression, knowing them they were running round your head all day at work! :)

mariblaser said...

Ohh, now I see why the pixies can't shut up in your head, heh. I loved this first encounter with the boys, oh mighty GM. ;P

Thanks Sam, for the fun story!

Ah, of course I'm reading the previous installments here or on The Penny Dreadful. This is too good; I can't help it! :)

Sam said...

mariblaser - Yes, I think I have a Pixie affliction! ;) Glad you enjoyed the story, hope you enjoy the other installments just as much.

Thanks for the "oh mighty GM" mention, oh wonderful player. :D

Julie Lewthwaite said...

Absolutely brilliant - and the stakes just got cranked up a notch! Go, Twinkle! :)

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