Sunday 15 March 2020

Nearly Death by Chocolate

by Dawn Knox

hot chocolate 

Previously, Gideon Guttle, the spy pig, helps Eddie and Brian to get their van back as well as the unfavourable contract they’d signed. In return, they promise to drive Gideon to a secret spy training village...

 “Well, can you at least open the windows?” asked Eddie through teeth that would have been gritted, if he’d had any. “The pig’s beginning to reek and it’s unbearable in here.”

“What’s the magic word?” asked the sat nav.

“Now!” said Eddie.

“Oh, for goodness sake, Eddie! Just say please, will you?” said Brian, wiping Gideon’s saliva off his shoulder. 

“It goes against the grain to beg a sat nav.”

“Just do the polite thing. And think yourself lucky, at least you’re not wedged in beside an unconscious, dribbling pig.”

“Oh, all right!” said Eddie, “Please will you open the windows.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that,” said the sat nav.

“Please!” shouted Eddie.

All four windows opened an inch, allowing in fresh, mountain air. 

“I’m waiting for the other magic words,” said the sat nav. 

Brian grabbed Eddie’s beak in his fist and held it closed, “Thank you,” Brian said.

“I don’t want to hear it from you. I want to hear it from the chicken.” The windows rose slightly.

“Eddie!” said Brian sternly, releasing his beak a fraction.

“Thank you,” said Eddie sulkily.

“You’re very welcome,” said the sat nav, “Oh, and by the way, the road ahead is blocked. There is no alternate route.”

“A likely story,” muttered Eddie.

“What’s that black and white, stripy thing in the road ahead?” asked Brian, inserting a box of tissues, between his shoulder and Gideon’s lolling head.

“Don’t know,” said Eddie screwing up his eyes, “It’s some way off. I can’t make it out.” 

“P’raps it’s a mirage,” Brian suggested.

“It looks like a barcode.”

“Don’t be ridiculous! Perhaps it’s a zebra crossing.”

“In the middle of nowhere? We haven’t passed a vehicle or a pedestrian for hours.” 

Gideon snorted and opened his eyes, “Where are we?” he asked, blearily looking at the road ahead.
“Welcome back,” said Eddie. “I think we’re approaching the Mocha Pass.”

Gideon rubbed his eyes with his trotters, “Stop!” he yelled, “Can’t you see, there’s a badger ambush ahead!”

Eddie braked sharply, flinging everyone forward and deploying the airbags. 

“Now what?” squealed Eddie, who was squashed against the back of his seat by the airbag and was finding it hard to reach the steering wheel. “I can’t drive with this in the way!”

“Mfff mffff!” said Brian from behind the passenger airbag.  

“Oh no,” said Gideon, “we’re completely up the Khyber Pass.” 

“It’s the Mocha Pass,” said the sat nav. “Oh, and by the way, the road ahead is blocked. There is no alternate route.”

The line of badgers marched towards the van and fanned out, pistols at the ready. 

“Out!” ordered the badger who was sporting the red bowtie, “And bring yer valuables with yer.”

“Now what?” whispered Eddie, “This airbag is pinning me in the seat and I don’t have any valuables. D’you think they’ll kill us?”

“Undoubtedly,” said the sat nav cheerily, “so, I’ll let the window down and you can talk to them.”

“Nooo!” squawked Eddie, “The windows are the only things between us and them!”

“Sat nav’s got a point, old chap,” said Gideon, “these windows aren’t going to stop bullets. I vote we reason with them, gentleman to gentleman. After all, none of us can get out. Brian and I are stuck behind this airbag and we don’t have valuables either, do we, old thing?”

“Mfff mffff!” said Brian.

“So perhaps they’ll just let us go when we explain,” Gideon suggested hopefully.

“Not a chance,” said the sat nav briskly, “my advice would be to start talking now.”

The driver’s window rolled down.

“You! Out!” barked the badger in the red bowtie, “Badgers ain’t known fer their patience.” 

“Please, sir,” began Eddie, “as you can see, we’re slightly incapacitated and I assure you, we are poor folk and have nothing of value at all.”

“Out!” barked the badger “And you’d better find some valuables or you’re all dead, poor folk.” 

“Any ideas?” Eddie whispered from the side of his beak. 

“Let the pig try,” said the sat nav and the passenger window rolled down.

“Er…yes…quite,” said Gideon, “well, my good chap, the truth of it is, we’re stuck behind these blessed airbags and ̶ “

The badger in the red bowtie raised his pistol and aimed at Gideon. He fired. He aimed at Eddie and fired. Both airbags exploded and disintegrated. Brian and Eddie fainted, their bodies slithering to the van floor. 

“I…I could write you a cheque?” suggested Gideon, with his trotters in the air.

“Out!” barked the badger, waving his pistol. 

“At once, sir,” said Gideon, “now, who do I make the cheque out to?”

He pulled the chequebook out of his pocket with trembling trotters, “Does anyone have a pen they can lend me, please?” Gideon asked. 

“Wouldn’t know what to do wiv a pen,” someone shouted from the back, amidst much shaking of badger heads. 

“Oh dear,” said Gideon, offering a silent prayer that the pen he was rummaging for in his pocket was indeed a pen and wouldn’t fire a dart into one of the clamouring crowd – or worse – into him. 

Shooting one badger might be satisfying but he knew he wouldn’t live long enough to appreciate the satisfaction. 

“Hurry up!” barked the badger with the red bowtie, “We ain’t got all day.” 

“I ‘ave,” said another badger, “I’ve got all today and tomorrow. I don’t ‘ave to visit me mum till Wednesday.” 

“It’s Wednesday today,” said another badger.

“Oh, blimey, I gotta go!” he said and barged his way out of the crowd. 

The pen Gideon held in his trotter looked like a pen, or more precisely, the pen – the one and only real pen that he carried amongst the dart-firing spy pens – but he wasn’t quite sure. Hesitantly, he unscrewed the cap and held his breath. A drop of ink dripped on to the cheque and he sagged with relief. 

“A million ducats ̶ no, make it two,” said the badger with the red bow tie. “Make it out to Benito the Red.”
“Whatever you say, sir,” Gideon said signing the bottom of the cheque with a flourish. “Now can we go?”

“No. Tie ‘em up,” he said to the badgers.

“But, sir that’s hardly fair ̶ “

With hands, wings and trotters tied behind their backs, Eddie, Brian and Gideon were seated on the ground, leaning against the side of the van. They were watching the gang of partying badgers further up the road. Bottles of gin had been handed from paw to paw and many of the drinkers had passed out. Further down the road, the badgers’ motorbikes were lined up in rows. And several yards away, lay Brian’s guitar case which had been thoroughly inspected by Benito the Red, and then discarded as being worthless.

“I’ve got an idea,” whispered Eddie, “we shuffle along on our bottoms until we reach the bikes and then grab three of them and ride off.” 

“I’m not going anywhere without my guitar. Anyway, we’re tied up,” said Brian, “how can we steer a bike?”

Your hands might be tied together,” said Gideon “but my trotters are free. I used an old espionage trick and wriggled out of my ropes.” 

“No one,” said the sat nav through the van window, “is going anywhere without me. I’ve taken control of the horn and I’m not afraid to use it. A few blasts from me and those badgers’ll come running to see what’s going on. We either escape together or we die together.” 

“Can you untie us, Gideon?” Brian asked.

“Wriggle a bit closer and I’ll try, but keep your arms behind you so they think we’re still tied up. I’ve got a plan.” 

“It better not involve escaping without me,” said the sat nav. 

“One of my dart-firing pens actually fires missiles. If I can find it, I’ll shoot the motorbikes and cause a diversion. While the badgers are dealing with that, we’ll climb into the van and escape. Sat nav, can you start the engine for us?”

“Count on me.”

“No,” said Brian, “I’m not leaving without my guitar.”

There was silence for a few moments.

“I have another plan,” said Gideon, “I have another pen and it might just work, if I can remember which pen is which.”

“And if not?” asked Brian.

“Best you don’t know.” 

Gideon shuffled back slightly out of sight of the badgers and pulled out two pens. He looked from one to the other, “One contains a ballistic missile, and the other a barbed dart with a fine wire attached. I’m going to blow up the motorbikes with the missile and reel in your guitar case once the dart is embedded in it… I think. That is, if I can remember which pen is which…”

“If you blow up my guitar, I’ll never forgive you!”

“If I blow up your guitar and reel in a motorbike, we’re dead anyway.” 

“Make a decision!” squealed Eddie, “the badger in the red bow tie looks like he’s taking an interest in us.” 

“He’s coming over!” shrieked the sat nav. 

Gideon took the top off one of the pens, pointed it at the guitar case, closed his eyes and fired. The dart penetrated the case and Brian sagged with relief.

“Quick! Pull it over!” 

Brian began to reel the case in as Gideon turned to the motorbikes, took the top off the other pen, aimed and fired. 

The explosion flung several motorbikes into the air. A burning mass of twisted metal, crashed on top of the other bikes and fuel tanks began exploding. Inebriated badgers tripped and staggered, barging each other out of the way in their panic. 

Brian grabbed his guitar case and scrambled into the van with Eddie and Gideon. The engine was already purring and Eddie pressed the accelerator to the floor but some of the badgers had spotted them and were advancing as a solid muscular wall. 

“What shall I do?” shouted Eddie, driving into them’ll be like driving into a brick wall. We’re trapped!”

“Shh!” said Gideon. “Listen!”

The low rumbling increased in volume, and pieces of meringue rolled across the road and carried on tumbling downhill. The van began to shake.

“What’s tha ̶ ?”

The badgers who’d formed the wall in front of the van looked up the mountainside, their mouths open in horror and they began to run in all directions.

“Avalanche!” shouted Gideon, “Go, go, go!” as the first wave of chocolate gushed across the road. 

The van shot forward, its wheels trying to find purchase on the slippery, brown ooze.

“Close the windows, sat nav! …Please!” screamed Eddie as the tide of chocolate swirled around them and slithered away down the mountain, carrying screaming badgers with it.

“Was it milk or plain?” Brian asked.

“Who cares?” said Eddie. 

“Only I don’t like plain chocolate,” said Brian “and if we’d had to eat our way out, I’d have been sick.”

“In five hundred yards, left turn,” said the sat nav.

“Left turn? There’re no road signs indicating a left turn,” said Eddie.

“It’s a secret turning,” said the sat nav, “Great Puddington’s a spy training village. Members of the public aren’t meant to know.”

“How do you know then?”

“I know everything,” said the sat nav. 

Eddie turned off into a narrow ravine.

“Thank goodness we’re nearly there,” said Gideon, “You’re a great chap, Brian old thing, but it’s really uncomfortable being squashed in this seat with a monkey and a guitar case.”

“Well, you’re taking up most of the room,” said Brian jabbing Gideon with his elbow “and with all due respect, you exemplify the saying ‘Sweating like a pig’. Sitting next to you is like being tucked up someone’s armpit.”

“Sweating? How dare you ̶ “

“Okay, that’s enough,” said Eddie, “We haven’t got much further to go and then we can all get out and stretch our legs.” 

“It’s all right for you, you’re not up close and personal to a sweaty pig,” said Brian. 

“Steady on!” said Gideon, “If you and your guitar weren’t taking up so much room and Eddie wasn’t driving like a maniac ̶ “

“Maniac! How dare you! If it wasn’t for me and my driving skills, we’d be trapped behind a line of chocolate-coated badgers!” 

“That was miles back, at the Mocha Pass,” said Brian. “You’ve been throwing us about all the way down the mountainside ̶ “

“You try driving on chocolate-coated tyres ̶ “

“Boys! Boys!” said the sat nav. “I think it’s only fair I point out that just because we’ve turned off the main road, doesn’t mean we’re anywhere near Great Puddington. We’ve got another 120 miles to go. So, you’d all better find a way of playing together nicely. I suggest a good sing-song. Does anyone know Frère Jacques?”

Links to previous stories in The Macaroon Chronicles series
The Macaroon Chronicles Prologue and the Three Wise Monkeys -

About the author

Dawn’s latest book is ’The Basilwade Chronicles’ published by Chapeltown Books and she enjoys writing in different genres and has had romances, speculative fiction, sci-fi, humorous and women’s fiction published in magazines, anthologies and books. She’s also had two plays about World War One performed internationally. You can follow her here on , Facebook here DawnKnoxWriter or on Twitter here 

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