Catch up on earlier episodes at this link
Meanwhile, on board the MoonShip Waist of Space…
Not only did no sound come from the radio, but it didn’t come continuously for rather a long time.
“Is this still working?” Tarquin asked Merry, tapping the radio with his finger.
“I can’t tell,” Merry replied, “the light’s still on, but there isn’t even any background noise, so—”
“Rear Admiral Alasdair Faquharson here. Whom am I addressing?”
“Reggie! Commander Tarquin Stuart-Lane here, old bean. You still with Paula?”
“Listen here, Stuart-Lane; you know that I don’t appreciate being addressed as Reggie, and whom I choose as social companion is none of your concern. Now; explain yourself.”
“Admiral Farquharson,” Merry interrupted, “we have nothing to explain. Perhaps it is your command who need to explain to us what was your intention in sending us here.”
“And you are?”
“I am indeed,” Merry replied, “very.”
“Perhaps you should have Pipsqueak brief you properly, instead of simply running scared and begging you to deal with a radio conversation he’s afraid to handle himself, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.”
“That sounds like insubordination to me,” the Rear Admiral ranted, “Do you know who you are speaking to?”
“Yes, I do, Admiral,” she spat at the microphone, “you are the coward who set up this murderous mission, knowing full well we couldn’t survive it with the equipment and supplies you gave us, and you should be bloody-well ashamed of yourself!”
“That’s it. I’ve heard enough. I’ve a good mind to drag you both in front of a court martial for this.”
“Good luck with that. You are on Earth and we are four hundred thousand kilometres away, on the Moon. You can’t damned-well touch us, you silly old duffer.”
“Right. I’ve heard enough. I’m sending a team to get you and bring you back so you can face trial. Let’s see how brave you are when you find yourself in a military jail.”
The radio gave out a click and went silent.
And so did Tarquin – only without the click.
“What did you make of that?” Merry asked after some time.
“Yah. Right. No. You’ve upset old Reggie, and we’re in deep doo-doo now, old Gal.”
“Why do you call him Reggie?”
“Give me the short version.”
“Right-oh. A group of us chaps saw him and Paula with a woman who bore a striking resemblance to a hippopotamus. Turns out it was Paula’s mother. Put us in mind of Reggie Perrin.”
“Reggie Perrin. Old TV thing. Always making remarks about his mother-in-law. Referred to her as hippopotamus. So Farquharson becomes Reggie. See?”
“Both have mother-in-laws like hippos.”
“But the Admiral’s not married.”
“Golly. And I thought I was the thick one. Ouch!”
Whatever reaction Tarquin expected to that statement, a hefty slap across the left upper cheek wasn’t it.
“Are you calling me thick?” Merry demanded.
“Well; no. That is; ahm… Ouch! Stop hitting me.”
“Stop insulting me.”
“Are you too stupid to see what I was doing with old Farquharson?” Merry asked, followed immediately by “Don’t you dare,” as Tarquin appeared to raise his hand in preparation to deliver a retaliatory blow.
“Don’t I dare what?” he asked.
“You were going to hit me.”
“So you didn’t understand my plan?”
“Riling the Admiral.”
“No. Seemed like a jolly bad idea to me. Surely to goodness we don’t want to end up in jankers for the rest of our time.”
“You’d rather be here, would you?”
“Couldn’t you have asked him to have some chaps come out to rescue us?”
“Do you think he would have?”
“Yah. Right. Probably not.”
“So was mine a good idea?”
“Might have been better to do it without annoying him.”
“How well do you know the Admiral?”
“Served under him for a year.”
“I served under him, in a different way admittedly, for three years before he dumped me for Paula. Why do you think I’m such a man-hater, Tarq? Three years with that boorish brute put me off men for life.”
“Golly. Didn’t know that.”
“Not many do, and I aim to keep it that way.”
“Mum’s the word, then?”
“Are you trying to be funny?”
“No. Why do you ask?”
Why did she ask? Is there more to this than meets the eye? Will the Rear Admiral live up to his threat and send a team to arrest our hapless pair and return them to Earth to face a court martial, or was it all just pompous posturing? All will be revealed in the next episode.
Or will it?
I wrote part one of this tale in response to Kreative Kue 39, issued on this site earlier. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.