The world outside our tiny sphere turned from day to night. I twisted my head around. The view of Boris’ backside through the back windscreen; one big black cockroach hole—the details too disturbing I can’t bring myself to describe them—in my face.
‘Agrhh! He’s on top of us.’ I clutched Günter’s arm. ‘Help! He’s going to eat us.’
Delaney looked back and rolled her eyes. ‘You really have to wonder about that guy.’
‘Mounting again?’ Dan Hooper said.
‘Yep, in his element.’ Delaney sniffed. ‘Never ceases to amaze me, how he morphs from human to cockroach—human-size.’
‘At least he’s on the outside of the vehicle,’ Hooper remarked.
‘Ha, not for long,’ Delaney said.
‘Vell, if you could do somethink, it would be useful.’ Günter patted my hand. ‘It will be alright, my cabbage.’
‘He’s going to crush us!’ I dug my finger nails into Günter’s bicep. ‘And don’t “cabbage” me, not when I’m about to be eaten by Boris.’
‘Put ze siren on, Sergeant. It worked last time. Why did you put it off?’ Günter rested his hand on mine. ‘Aber Liebling it might be the last time I call you “cabbage”.’
Hooper chuckled and then flicked a switch. ‘Going to auto.’
Delaney stretched a glove over her fingers. She calmly collected the melons from the floor and plopped them into a plastic “evidence” bag.
Günter leaned forward. ‘Put ze siren on and ze lights flashing.’
Hooper ignored Günter.
Boris’ sucked the front windscreen with his proboscis. The sides of the cabin bowed inwards.
Günter leaned forward and shook Hooper. ‘Do it!’
Delaney slapped him. ‘Look, you dweeb, leave the business end of fighting Boris to us. Who do you think you are anyway? The Great August Fahrer? Hmmm?’
I had to laugh. My aunt, (Minna’s mother), Admiral Frieda Thumm had a poster of that great man above her bed. ‘Inspiration’, she said when she caught me spying in her room once, long ago…when I was little.
I glanced at Günter, our eyes met. If only this Sergeant Delaney knew. Why doesn’t he tell her?
We needed some inspiration now.
Günter flopped back. ‘Show us vhat you can do to get rid of him.’ Most uninspiring.
Boris squeezed the car. The solid metal creaked, then buckled.
A pincer poked through my door. I screamed and lurched away.
Günter shielded me with his arms.
‘Tell her who you are,’ I whispered.
‘Engage the thrusters,’ Delaney said. She then turned and looked at us. ‘Naw! How sweet!’
‘Thrusters engaged,’ Hooper replied.
The engine roared. Wings sprouted both sides of the car, dislodging four of Boris’ feet…for a few seconds. My body thrummed as the vehicle accelerated and lifted from the ground. Then my ears popped. The car gained momentum and height.
Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Thwack!
Boris’ claws dug in, poking through each door, braced for the flight.
‘Tenacious little blighter, isn’t he,’ Hooper said.
‘I hardly describe him as “little”, Dan,’ Delaney replied. ‘Take us to the edge of the atmosphere, then return through the atmosphere—the long way round—get Boris burnt as much as possible.’
The car climbed. The cabin vibrated. Flames flared either side as we sliced through the stratosphere. We tipped towards earth, and then lifted from our seats—with as much give as the seat-belts allowed—but Boris clung on.
We zoomed earth-wards. I caught glimpses of land, sea, and clouds, between Boris’ many slimy underarms and the car’s wing.
More flames and Boris’ legs glowed red. But the cockroach did not budge.
I wiped sweat from my cheek. ‘It’s not working.’
The fire turned from yellow, to blue to white.
I held my breath.
The cabin was like a sauna, but fear chilled me to the bone.
Boris’ claws remained lodged in each of the four doors.
‘He’s breeched the hull, Delaney,’ Hooper said.
‘Just a little while longer, he’s roasting.’
‘He’s smelling!’ Günter waved a hand in front of his nose.
‘Ugh! It’s foul!’ I gagged. ‘I hope your plan works, I don’t want to have that bug fried or otherwise attached when we land.’
Hooper placed a handkerchief over his mouth and then coughed.
The pincer points visible through the doors blanched. They disintegrated. Blue sky, and clouds dotting over land and sea appeared.
‘He’s been crisped,’ Delaney said.
‘Fried Boris all over the Pacific,’ Hooper added with a snort.
The claws fell away as ash. Slivers of flame gushed through the pinholes left behind.
I leaned back and stopped the flames on my side using the heel of my boot.
On his side, Günter pushed his palm against the hole. ‘Ouch!’ He pulled his hand away and shook it. He then leaned into me and used the sole of his boot to stop the gap.
‘Need some chewie back there?’ Delaney asked. She offered us a mint green packet of chewing gum.
Günter grabbed the packet. ‘Das ist perfect.’ He squeezed out a portion and then handed it to me. ‘Use this to hole stop,’ he said, chomped on his gum for a few seconds, and then plugged the hole.
I did the same.
‘I never go anywhere without gum.’ Delaney smacked her teeth together. ‘You never know when you might need it.’ She sounded like a cat eating.
‘Yup,’ Hooper said. ‘Very useful when the patrol car was riddled with bullet holes…I don’t know what we would’ve done without Delany’s contribution.’
‘Thanks.’ Smack! Smack! Smack!
The engine’s revs slowed.
I continued to rest against Günter’s side. ‘Is the danger over? Is Boris gone?’
‘For now, but not for long,’ Günter said. His heart beat fast. Funny about that. Hey, but I am the Holly…men can’t help but be attracted to me.
‘We’re approaching the township, ready for landing,’ Hooper said.
With the setting sun glaring in the windscreen, the vehicle scudded on the bitumen. I glanced to my left to see a camel carcass strewn in a ditch on the roadside. A wedge-tail eagle pecked at the carcass. The landscape glowed in hues of gold, orange, and brown. So different from the Pilgrim Planet covered in shades of silver, purple, and pink.
‘So what’re you guys up to?’ asked Delaney. ‘And don’t say honeymooning—the white “one-sies” sort of give it away that you are with the IGSF—oh, and the light-show in the morgue early this morning.’
I pulled away from Günter; my skin prickled with heat. Sprung.
Günter stroked his protective suit and coughed. ‘Forgive me, I am Ensign Georg-Wilhelm, a new recruit from the Lost Wend division.’ He nudged me.
Yeah, right and I’m supposed come up with some fantasy name?
Hooper glanced in the rear view mirror and caught my eye. ‘I know you from somewhere.’
I bit my lip. I had to think fast but my brain cells seemed to be working in slow motion. ‘Yeah?’
Hooper smiled. ‘Yeah, you remind me of someone—a girl—I used to know.’
Günter tightened his lips.
Dan? Dan Hooper? So, this was the Dan Hooper who married my sister? But here? In the middle of Australia? Was he also working for the IGSF? Can I lie? What would I say? I’m not prepared for this—the truth would come out…and blow Günter’s cover (whatever that is). If I’m upfront and tell the truth…I’ll blow Günter’s cover…Whatever…
[to be continued…]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019
Feature Photo: Blanches Tower © S.O. Gross circa 1945
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