The sky was copper where the park still burned beyond the horizon. As dawn crept up, returning tank buster single-seater ‘dragons’ careered recklessly in through the Queen Anne’s midships hanger bays to pull up sharply as their tail hooks engaged with the arrestor wire, each urgently manhandled to one side before the next warbird arrived. Cumbersome roach-like bombers circled Captain Rotskagg Blenkinsopp’s dirigible, waiting for their turn to be winched up into the ventral hanger. Ferdy, in his Cierva, bumped down onto the topside flight deck. He stood at the edge of the platform as a lift lowered him and his autogyro into the cavernous interior. He was met by the expectant enquiring faces of Phoebles and Flo.
“There’s no sign of him.” Ferdinand said dejectedly. Nothing had been heard from Boz since he called down the air strike, and the trio had accompanied the attack fleet in the hope…
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“I’ve got the others to safety in the woods. Now all we have to do is join them and not get caught on the way. Follow me.” And with that she disappeared.
“Er, Flo. We can’t see you.”
“Hang on.” Dark Flo rummaged around in the nearest dustbin and returned triumphantly clutching a crumpled front page of the Beano, No 2275 from February 22nd 1986, depicting Dennis the Menace and Gnasher. She produced a large safety pin from the folds of her Shinobi shozoko. “Pin this to my backside. Carefully.”
“You’d better do it, Slasher. I’m too petrified.” Boz was indeed quaking. “She’s more terrifying than that Captain Tierrasmedias.”
“Shush. Now, come along. And keep low.”
After an age in pursuit of the waggling comic, crawling and…
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Smoke from incense burners and josticks curled in serpentine swirls about the room, their mixture of pungent aromas masking a sweeter, pervasive and much more disturbing smell, the lingering stench of decay.
“Has no one heard of Febreze?” exclaimed Phoebles
“I would discourse with Mr Boz,” said the capitáno, “the other one is irrelevant. Feed it to the hammerhead sharks.”
“Now just hang on one minute.” Phoebles’ response was urgent if a little squeaky.
“We have no hammerhead sharks,” replied Nimitta.
“Why not? Well, feed it to something.”
There was a movement in the deep shadows behind Capitáno Tierrasmedias and a figure stepped into the half-light, a figure in a grey homburg, black mask and gabardine trench coat.
“Sla…” began Phoebles.
Boz kicked his ankle.
“Perhaps he could be returned to his cage whilst your minions source a suitable carnivore.”
“I value your advice as always Mr McGoogs. Take it…
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“We’ll be reaching the old Durrell Zoo pretty soon,” said the Navy Seal, “That’s where we’re based. Best drive straight up ter the entrance. The perimeter’s heavily booby-trapped, lay-holes, pitfalls and the like.”
“Stop the bus,” Boz called through to Phoebles in the driver’s cab. “Me and Phoebles will go in on foot with Nimitta. Ginsbergbear, Ferdy, get this charabang off the road and behind a hedge or something. Stay hidden. If you don’t hear from us in the next twenty-four hours call up Rotskagg and mount a rescue.”
The walk was considerably further than Boz had expected, but at least Ferdy and Ginsbergbear were a safe distance away. At the unguarded main gate a sign began ‘Welcome to’, but ‘Jersey Zoo’ had been scored through in blood-red paint and overwritten with ‘RAGNARÖK’. Nimitta ushered them quickly past the derelict visitors’ centre. All the buildings they could see were in…
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