Monday, April 18, 2011

Death on Two Legs Pt 2

For part one click here

Grouse walked through the door to the reception at MI6 and threw his hat and jacket clear across the room, landing perfectly on the hat rack. It was impressive. It was even more impressive due to the fact that grouse don't usually wear hats or jackets but he was just that fucking suave.

"Oh, it's nice to see you again Famous", said the receptionist. She was horribly smitten by Grouse. This is because she was a girl and all girls were horribly smitten by Grouse.

"The pleashure ish all mine Tenderpensh" replied Grouse as he handed her a single rose.

Tenderpence giggled, "I'm still waiting for that ring Famous."

" We'll have to shee about that"

"Grouse, would you skip the canoodling and get in my office", M buzzed over the PA.

"Of coursh" 

Grouse entered the office. Behind the desk sat a meerkat, munching down on marmite.

"Ahh, good of you to join me double-oh-zeta, I trust you've heard the news already"

"I hear alot of thingsh", was Grouse's requisite snappy response. He actually hadn't heard the news because he had been sexin' up pretty much the entire time between the last chapter and now (yes, even on the aeroplane, there was a confused stewardess in the back). The reason why that wasn't included as it's own chapter is because this story is PG you fucking perverts.

M continued, unabashedly ignoring 00ζ's snark, "Then as I'm sure you know, last night one of our dry-docked nuclear submarines was stolen. Amongst it's cargo was 6 SLMB's capable of launching a nuclear payload to anywhere on the planet. You can understand the seriousness and delicacy of the situation?"

"I've never been a fan of delicate"

"I'm well aware of that fact 00ζ and wouldn't be talking to you otherwise... only you see, whoever has hijacked our sub is yet to contact any government, ours included. We simply cannot have some maniac out there on the loose with nuclear capabilities and have no idea who it is or what their intentions may be."

"Sho where do I come into all of thish?", mused Grouse

" Ahh, well luckily one of our videocameras managed to capture a picture of one of the hijackers before our system went down. It's a bit blurry but from what I can make out, it appears to be a smallish mouse with an eyepatch over the left eye."


Look at that evil bastard, plotting awayawwwww HE'S SO CUTE!

"Our thoughts exactly. Now, as you have more intelligence on this particular villian than any other agent, I'm assigning you to investigate and to figure out what they could possibly want with that sub".

Grouse sighed heavily, "What you mean to shay ish that really you're jusht putting me in charge of shaving the world again aren't you? AGAIN?"

"In short yes, but there's no time to argue the point. Now if you'll go down to Q labs, there is some new field equipment that you'll need for your mission"

Grouse started down the elevator to Q labs. These were the sort of times where he really appreciated his job, when he understood why he was a super-top-secret-spy. He didn't do it for the money or the girls or the near endless supply of Aston Martins. No, he did it all for the badass elevator music.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and Grouse left the elevator to be met by Desmond Llewelyn.

"It's about time you got here".

"I've been bishy"

"Yes well, hurry along"

Desmond Llewelyn went over to a table and picked up a watch,

"Now 00ζ, this is our newest standard issue Omega Seamaster Watch, it comes complete with..."

However, instead of listening, Grouse's full attention was directed towards a gold pen that was sitting in a coffee mug on the table.

"Don't touch that!" cried Desmond Llewelyn just as Grouse clicked the end of the pen. A cyanide tipped dart flew across the room, embedding itself in a graduate student's neck. The student stared right at Grouse with a surprised look on his face before dropping to the ground dead.

Desmond Llewelyn snatched the pen out of Grouse's hand, "How many times must I tell you not to play with things. You're lucky that was just a graduate student and not someone valuable".

"I shuppose the pen truly ish mightiar than the shord"

"Quite, now if you'll come this way, you'll find that I've outfitted another Aston Martin DB5 with all sorts of handy gadgets; although it's pretty much inevitable that you'll have completely destroyed the car by the end of week. Honestly, I don't know why MI6 keeps giving these to you - half their budget must be allocated to "Cars for Famous Grouse". It's ridiculous. I could rig up a Volvo with an ejector seat and some headlamp machine guns just as easily and that thing would never get destroyed - no matter what hell you put it through. But no, instead my work is constantly being interrupted by M going, ' Oh, oh! Desmond Llewelyn, 00ζ's gone and completely wrecked a $200,000 vehicle', and that's the pricetag before my modifications mind you, 'could you pretty please make another for him?'. NO. FUCK. GET YOUR OWN FUCKING CAR YOU IRRESPONSIBLE TWAT. How the hell have you even got a driver's licence? I mean, the licence to kill I understand, you happen to be very good at killing people and just causing ridiculous amounts of mayhem in general but please please be careful with this car. If I have to build another, I may just go absolutely nutty.

For possibly the first time in his life, Grouse was completely speechless. He didn't even have a snappy comeback. Desmond Llewelyn, on the other hand, seemed to return to form just as quickly as he'd lost it.

"Anyways, this one's pretty standard. Secret glovebox, ejector seat, extendible spikes in the hubcaps, and machine guns in the headlights".

Desmond Llewelyn handed the keys over to Grouse and, in a spectacular display of indifference to instructions, Grouse put the car into reverse, gunned it to 40 miles and backed over a two foot concrete abutment without slowing down, before whipping it around 180 degrees and flying out of the garage door entrance to Q labs.

Death on Two Legs Pt 1


"Ahh, Mr. Grouse, it's so very unfortunate that things must end this way, however my employer is very adamant about getting you out of the way"

"And who egxshaclty ish your employer", questioned Grouse while struggling with the straps that held him to the conveyor belt.

"No no no Mr. Grouse, what do you think this is: A Bond film? No, I'll not be telling you any of our plans even though there's absolutely no chance for your escape. You never can be too careful, that is the motto of our evil underground organization and I stand by it."

"You'll never get away wi' thish Bandicoot"

"But I already have. Good day Mr. Grouse"

Bandicoot flipped the switch to the conveyor belt and then left the room. At the end of the conveyor large blades began to whir, slicing easily through pieces of lumber. The belt drew Grouse nearer and nearer till the roaring of the saws was deafening and a harsh gust cut through his feathers. Manoeuvring his wing, Grouse managed to press a button on his watch down against the side of the belt that confined him to his doom. Out of the watch shot a laser, red hot and cutting through his bonds. The blades were mere inches away now; feathers from the top of Grouse's head were getting knicked. Time itself seemed to slow down and the last precious seconds Grouse had until becoming mince passed with the yawning clarity of hours. At last, the strap broke and Grouse rolled off the conveyor belt.

" That'sh what I call cutting it closhe"

Grouse had to act quick. After a quick inspection of the steel door Grouse realized that he'd need to find another way out of this room if he wanted to escape. Ten feet above him wound the main ventilation shaft of the complex. Using his shoe to jam the saws, Grouse caused the machine to overheat and explode, sending one of the blades flying through the air, slicing the ventilation shaft in half. The fire alarm rang; Grouse had to act quick. He began making his way through the shaft, winding through the industrial complex. After crawling for about thirty feet, Grouse saw Bandicoot through a vent; standing in an office that had modestly been furnished by Ikea - but in a way that would make any interior designer cringe - and cowering in the presence of someone that Grouse could only make out as a shadowy figure sitting in a chair. Bandicoot stuttered fearfully, completely having lost that smug mocking superior English manner of speaking as he had while taunting Grouse,

"I-I searched the room sir... It seems that G-Grouse..."

"Growse vat?!" was the thick Russian reply from the shadowy figure in the chair

"He's not in the room. I t-think - I think he may have escaped"

" Escapt! You let Famous Grouse escape! He may be de only vun who could stop me."

The shadowy figure whirled round and leapt across the office desk, faster than Grouse could pick out any distinguishing characteristics, and tackled Bandicoot to the floor.


"Next time I take your whoole hed. Find Grouse before he gets away for good!".

On that cue, Grouse decided that he'd best not stick around and continued crawling down the ventilation shaft. The shaft ended at the outer wall of the building, ten feet in the air, and faced a snowy airfield. Directly beneath the shaft, guarding the airfield were two armed squirrels. As well as having arms they also carried guns and adorable little squirrel militia helmets. This made them OH SO CUTE!- but also deadly as fuck.
He wants his fucking peanuts and he wants them now.

Grouse carefully and silently removed the cover to the vent shaft. He threw the cover at one of the squirrels while simultaneously jumping down on top of the other. Both squirrels were knocked unconscious by an overdose of badass.

"Jusht thought I'd drop by", quipped Grouse - unknowingly causing heart failure in the squirrels whilst doing so. 

Unfortunately, the Control Tower saw all of this and sounded the alarm. Within seconds squirrels came dashing out onto the airfield and opened fire on Grouse as he sprinted for the nearest plane. Bullets cut through the sky all around Grouse but they were all too scared to actually hit him; instead they whizzed past inches away from him, mentally preparing the story for their friends back home even though, inevitably, their friends would never believe them. 

"Oh yeah, sure sure. I bet you did nearly kill Grouse. Went just inches past him uh-huh".

Making it through the impossibly large barrage of bullets, Grouse hopped into a single engine biplane that was preparing to take off but not before throwing the pilot out of the door.

"Niysh landing!" Grouse yelled from the cockpit as he flew off across the mountains and toward England


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Here be Dragons

I am the worst at thinking up names for things. The name of this blog is the name I hated the least. For the record, I think it's a stupid name. Moving on. I recently discovered the term 'Here be Dragons'. This would be a better name, though it is probably quite popular and already taken. It's a shame that hypothetical me that isn't terrible at naming things won't be able to use 'Here be Dragons'.

The term comes from cartography. Whenever a mapmaker got to an area that hadn't been charted yet, instead of taking the route that most high schoolers would and just make shit up, they drew a picture of a dragon and claimed 'that's where the dragons live'.

This practice originally started with the Roman's, where they would mark maps with the much less fantastic but somewhat plausible "This is where Elephants are born". Being the wonderfully frightened species we are, this deviated into lions, serpents, and other terrifying monsters such as walruses. "Walruses?" you say, with little faith. Yes, walruses. You should be scared of walruses.

They like to wear bow ties and eat Christians. 

Eventually, we wound up with maps that had all sorts of freaky monsters on the borders and dragons worked their way into becoming the standard. This says a lot about our species. I can imagine the cartographers discussing it:

"Do we know what's here?"


"Why not?"

"Probably because monsters killed everyone who ever tried. Why else wouldn't we have explored it?"

"Good call. Wanna go with cannibals or squids?"

"Ugh, squids are way too mainstream now. No one will take us seriously if we put squids on our map"

The vast majority of the world has been explored now and there's no more dragons left on our maps. It's a bit sad. Those dragons still do exist though - just in a smaller more personalized form. Your own personal dragon. Maybe your dragon is the same as in the old maps. A dragon protecting the unknown, keeping it hidden from you until you travel there. Sure, it's easy to say that somewhere like Bolivia exists. It's even possible to read up on it, to learn as many things about it as possible. You could be an expert on Bolivia but that dragon will still be on your map. Not until you've gone there will it ever go away.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got dragons to chase.

Where to start?

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Every step is followed by the seeping squelch of socks forcing water between numb toes. They curl up but there’s no escape from the cold invasive water. That puddle has taken up permanent residence in front of my door. The pile of wet socks hidden in the corner of my room proves it. The rain dots my shoulders. It’s always raining. A drop rolls off my hair and lands on my lips. Hairgel. The umbrella is forgotten, as always. It was once part of a Halloween costume: The Penguin. Elidh had no idea what I was meant to be. We ditched the party and had Batman with our wine. Now it’s buried in the closet.
Turn left here. A secret path, wedged in between a sandstone apartment and a vacant lot proudly displaying a broken sign: Hillhead Boy’s School. What a different world that was. A school without any girls, just raucous boys running wild. It would have been less awkward. Girls were scary growing up. First it’s cooties and, later on, embarrassment.
It’s a miracle I can find her place time and time again. In Gibraltar it was raining too, a torrential downpour. The runway was one giant puddle and I ran, wetter than I’d ever been, running tired and sore from carrying the overfilled backpack everywhere, wanting to collapse and sleep right there but I’d choke on the water. Never want to choke again. The tunnel in the cove was too deep for me to swim but I was an immortal teenager and did it to show off, gasping and crying and so weak when I surfaced. I ran up and down Gibraltar before giving up on finding the hostel and hailing a cab. He laughed and pointed behind me. Stupid wet kid.
            The footbridge echoed with my footsteps. Nearly there now. I always stomped while crossing it, squeezing the water out of my shoes, and pretending to be the dinosaur in Jurassic Park. BOOM squish BOOM squish BOOM squish. It must be like muscle memory, how I can find Elidh’s flat without being able to give directions there, the same as guitar. Going slow and thinking about the individual notes in a song, makes my fingers freeze, rigid and useless. Does the bridge start by plucking the A string then G-A-B-G and then hammer on the second fret D? Not sure. Maybe it’s A-G-A-G-B and then the hammer?
I knock on the door.  The hammer is definitely on D because from then it’s just plucking around a C chord. I should be able to figure it out backwards from the hammer. Knock again. She likes to sleep late when it rains. It’s always raining. I let myself in.
Everything is missing. Burglars? Who has the time to steal couches?
Ridiculous. Even the silverware was gone and the acrid scent of bleach consumed everything.
Huddled around a space heater, our clothes hanging off to dry, she told me how she didn’t want to stop. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was on in the background. Except there, it’s called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles.
            “Why not?”
            “It’s better. Moving like this.”
I was dripping all over the flat. It fell to where the stain used to be. After using the bathroom, I snuck up on her with my best Penguin impersonation. Wine everywhere. Even the umbrella couldn’t keep me dry. That was the first time Elidh brought up leaving. I played with the phone in my pocket, tracing my finger along the butterfly sticker on the back - a purchase of temporary insanity while trapped at the airport. Outside the palm trees were bent nearly parallel to the ground, giving into the wind instead of fighting it. The sticker looks better on her face than it does on my phone. It seemed like our plane would never leave. I didn’t sleep that night, too stressed about the storm, every muscle tense and on alert. Elidh thought it was brilliant. One more day she said before going in search of wine, leaving me to watch our bags.
I wanted to call but deleted her number instead. She was gone and so was her phone. Where to though? Maybe I could find her, bump into her in some crowded market in Cairo, Lisbon, Buenos Aires, Shanghai. There are too many places and she’d always keep moving.
Nothing to do but to keep myself moving forward too. I always get out of the rain eventually. Across the hall the door read 262. I ran upstairs, still squishing, and banged on door 361. That little bone on the side of the wrist stung but I kept banging, wincing. She opened the door.
           “Let’s go”