“Flan? Flan?” the captain wheezed, still not fully recovered from his earlier activities, “Who said anything about flans?”
“Begging your pardon, Captain, but I clearly heard one of the prisoners say that someone called Merry makes the best flans,” the pugilistic preparer of puff pastry, pies and pasties said. “I am here, Sir, to dispute that. No-one makes better flans than me.”
“Are you implying that you are a flan, galley person?” Merry asked.
“Alright, Pedantic Prisoner; no-one makes better flans than I do. Happier?”
“Much,” she said, “but my friend said plans, not flans.”
“Oh gosh, golly,” Tarquin blustered, “You’ve never called me your friend before, Merry. Does this mean our relationship is improving?”
“Not in that way, Tarquin Stuart-Lane.”
“No, no, no. Haven’t thought about that sort of thing since those weird chappies came and helped us back at the matchstick-men’s camp.”
“Well that’s good. In that case, you can be my friend; as long as you do as you are told.”
“Well, yah; obviously; course. That goes without saying, doesn’t it?”
“Then don’t say it.”
“Yah, right, okay,” he said, drawing his hand across his mouth in a zipping motion.
“So,” the galley person said, “not flans?”
“No. What’s your name, anyway?” Merry asked her.
“Dunno. Haven’t been given one yet. Ask the bloke who’s writing this.”
“Never mind him. You look like a resourceful woman. Think of one yourself.”
“I always rather fancied being called Patsy.”
“Like a dyslexic pasty.”
“You could say that.”
“I did. Patsy the pugilistic preparer of puff pastry, pies and pasties?”
“Precisely. And flans.”
“The best there are. And anyone who says different—”
Patsy the pugilistic preparer of puff pastry, pies and pasties; and flans; proceeded purposefully to the preparitorium for her pre-prandial pre-emptive potato peeling. You got it; she p’d off.
Meanwhile, the captain and CFP Edna Bucket returned to the captain’s ready room, from where those still on the bridge heard a bell ring, and tha captain announce, “Seconds away; round two.”
“So, prisoner Winstanley,” Lt Weinberg finally continued, “what is your plan.”
“It’s a very cunning plan,” Merry replied.
“More cunning than the cunningest plan ever recorded in the entire history of cunningness,” Tarquin interjected, “in fact, when the history of cunning is written, this one will feature high on the list of most cunning plans ever.”
“You haven’t heard it yet,” Merry informed him.“No, but I know it will be brilliant.”
Turning to Lt Weinberg, Merry said, “See why I keep him?”
“I do,” Joan Weinberg replied, “always nice to have a ‘yes man’ around.”
“More like a ‘yah, right, okay’ man in this case,” Merry quipped.
“And the plan is?” the lieutenant asked.
Merry was about to detail her scheme, but was prevented from doing so by a noise that emanated from the captain’s ready room; a noise that stopped everyone in their tracks and resulted in a silence of incredible depth.
“Sorry,” Tarquin said, picking his pin up from where he had dropped it.
As senior officer on the bridge, Lt Weinberg took it upon herself to investigate the noise.
“Go and see what’s happening, Jason,” she instructed her deputy.
Jason dutifully entered the captain’s ready room, and immediately let out a scream so loud and so piercing that all present throughout the shuttle immediately sensed that something was wrong.