On a Wing and a Prayer
by Maureen Bowden
‘Oh, no,’ groaned David, ‘not again.’ He turned away from the empty cages, ran to Sheena’s office and barged in without knocking. ‘The Nuddies and the Creiddies are on the loose.’
‘Flamin’ Nora. How did that happen?’ said Sheena, slopping coffee out of a polystyrene carton onto her Stella McCartney jeans.
‘I’m guessing Judith did a ‘Pandora’ and let the little scrotes out.’ He passed her a monogrammed hankie to mop up the mess. ‘She’s been banging on about the immorality of keeping sentient creatures in captivity ever since she saw the TV repeat of Free Willy.’
‘Let’s get to the hangar,’ said Sheena. ‘Pray it’s still locked’.
They made their way to the converted barn that was being used to house two squadrons of tiny fighter planes. Judith was already there. The doors were open and the makeshift hangar was empty.
‘Before you ask,’ she said, ‘I did it. We discover a previously unknown, intelligent species and we stick them in cages. It’s all wrong.’
‘Intelligent?’ said David. ‘Two bloodthirsty tribes, knocking seven kinds of thingy out of each other? They were becoming extinct. We were doing them a favour.’
‘Then why did they keep digging under the cages and escaping?’ said Judith. ‘It was barbaric. We might as well have cut off their wings.’
‘Okay, okay, I know,’ said Sheena. ‘I didn’t like it either but we had our orders. Anyway, the pixies are back in the clouds where they belong. There’s nothing we can do about it and I can’t say I’m sorry’
David pulled her to one side. ‘What do we tell the Minister?’
‘We say they wouldn’t eat and they pined away in captivity,’ said Sheena. ‘Seeing as their bodies dissolve when they die, nobody can prove any different.’
He frowned. ‘Fighter planes don’t pine away and dissolve.’
Judith strolled over and put her arm around David’s shoulder. ‘Chill, Davy boy. I’ll slip a few quid to a couple of entrepreneurs from the local council estate. Before the night’s out there’ll be an arson attack on the barn.
Gwynn ap Nudd sat on a cirrus cutting his toenails. His Top Gun, Tegwyn ap Culhwch, hunkered down beside him. ‘What’s occurring, Gwynn? Creiddylad’s Brylcreem Boys are in the air and her storm troopers are heading this way on a cumulonimbus.’ When do we strike, like?’
‘Wait till you see the whites of their eyes, Teg. Then show her what the Nuddies are made of.’
‘Tidy,’ said Teg.
While Gwynn attended to his pedicure, Creiddylad strutted on an altostratus above the advancing warriors, ‘Take no prisoners, Creiddies,’ she roared. ‘The only good Nuddy is a dead Nuddy.’
The two leaders kept well out of the fray as their species took one more step towards extinction.
Down below, prospects were equally bleak. The weather, as predicted, was becoming unpredictable; the melting ice-caps, and resulting overflowing oceans were an increasing nuisance in coastal arrears, the Gulf Stream packed its bags and emigrated and the temperate zones lost their temper. Oil supplies were running low and everyone blamed someone else; assorted countries whose names ended in ‘stan’ were either obliterating themselves in civil revolt or declaring war on the rest of the world; chemical and nuclear weapons were being bandied about; the UN made threats but did nothing, and the Land Of The Free was finding the subterranean rumblings from under Yellowstone Park too close for comfort.
Professor Brian Cox warned that a giant meteor was on a collision course with Earth, then he flashed a smile and millions slept easily in their beds. Professor Stephen Hawking predicted that the galaxy was about to be sucked into a black hole, but not to worry; in an alternative universe everything was hunky-dory.
Angela Merkel, Hilary Clinton and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, held a secret meeting, in which they agreed that women would have to sort out this mess.
Creiddylad was having similar thoughts. She and Gwynn sat alone on a cumulus. She was eating an apple.
‘Just you and me left now, Dyl,’ he said. ‘Do we kill each other or what?’
‘Get over yourself, Gwynn. The Bigjobs are on the way out. It’s up to us two to repopulate the earth.’
He experienced a disturbing, but not unpleasant, sensation in his nether-regions. ‘Are you suggesting cross-pollination?’
‘We’ve no alternative,’ she said. ‘The old ways don’t work. How long is it since you saw waves crashing on the shore turn into longhaired, spear-wielding maidens, or a fully armed warrior scare the Hades out of a squirrel by springing from a nut it’s just cracked?’ She offered him her apple. ‘You up for it?’
‘Why not?’ He took a bite.
Yellowstone exploded, the meteor hit, and the Earth moved.
I hope Sir Terry Pratchett doesn’t object to my appropriation of the word ‘Bigjobs’.
I am an ex-patriate Liverpudlian living on Anglesey. I write mainly for the amusement of family and friends, but in the last twelve months I have managed to get seven stories and four poems accepted for publication
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