Suggested Audio Jukebox:
 Billy Ocean Love Really Hurts Without You
 The Real Thing You To Me Are Everything
 Fleetwood Mac Go Your Own Way
 Paula Abdul Straight Up
 Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. Me and My Shadow
 Deacon Blue Real Gone Kid
 Iggy Pop The Passenger
Well that could have gone smoother if truth be known. That facetious Frenchman Monsieur Heureux very nearly had me y’know and I’m currently feeling somewhat rattled after almost having my wrangling license revoked once and for all. Mercifully I wasn’t foolhardy enough to take this pint-sized marauder lightly as his seven deadly sins gave me the right royal run-around before he came into play and I rode that momentum to victory of the most slender of margins imaginable. I needed not only my wits about me but also inhuman levels of self-control as sins are nothing if not adept at temptation and Lust, in particular, stated a pretty strong case for making love as opposed to war. Had I weakened for a solitary second, then this terrible trollop would have ended me right there are then. However, I summoned up every last drop of resolve and sent her and her six sordid sisters of sin packing in no uncertain terms before they could piss on my yucca plant. Needless to say, toppling their illustrious leader was an affair no less than troublesome but somehow, and with my very last breath, topple him I did. Take that Heureux you dinky devil, go and terrorize some other ten-year-old as you ain’t getting shit out of me.
Anyhoots the whole sorry ordeal looks to be in my slipstream now; Heureux appears to have been vanquished (for the time being at least) and the path forward is clear once more to proceed upon. Unless I’m mistaken, the Brutal Word Wrangler is on something of a roll and the grim reaper should now be glancing rather anxiously over his shoulder. That said, while aware that my next rostered opposition comprises a brace of rooks, their identity is, as yet, unknown. Given the fact that a desecrated castle rainment stands between me and my date with death right now, I’d say that offers a fairly astute indication of where my child-bearing hips should start a wiggling. Danger appears to have subsided momentarily but I’ve played enough Elder Scrolls to know only too well that quiet can be shattered at any given moment when uncovering a new blackened warren within wastelands as destitute as these. Ordinarily it would be an ideal time to relinquish the juices so to speak but doing so would leave me wide open for a sneak attack and something tells me that bones has no intention of playing by any other rules but his own. Besides, should I stock up my reserves, then I’m guaranteed a knee-tremble or three when this is all over with.
There is currently not a sound to be discerned other than rasping gushes of wind around me and, other than that, overbearing still. Silence may well be golden but it’s also not be trusted as I’m fully aware that everything can, and likely will, change in a heartbeat. There seems no reason to glance behind me at the trail of cruor which has led me to this point as it’s irrelevant now and that ship has already sailed. What matters is the task at hand; ridding these ruins of two more “obstacles”. That is all I really see them as y’know – distractions. Maybe I have become blindsided once again by the knowledge that arch-fiend Justin Bieber represents the Queen in this conundrum. I fully expect to snap that little jizz squirt over my knee like a stale baguette and be sprinkling him to the seagulls within a minute of our introduction but cannot drop my guard in the meantime as doing so would take my eye off the ultimate prize. Death comes this night, that much I know, and fair play doesn’t look like figuring into the equation. Time to plunder a fortress methinks and not anywhere near figuratively enough for my liking.
On arrival at the castle’s drawbridge, I poke around the rubble some, and to no immediate avail. You’d think a pair of rooks would be far less than tardy and this skirmish could’ve been sewn up right now had they not decided to play hide and go seek. Suddenly I hear a distant rabble coming from both sides of me and it sounds suspiciously like whatever is making this infernal din is gaining ground on my coordinates quick smart. Seems like the ideal time to summon Bonus Brain from his hammock as he’s done squat up ’til now in the name of team spirit. Instead, he’s been too busy catching up on Days of Our Lives while sipping my finest Moët from a moccasin. I’m fairly assured that isn’t what I’m paying him for and it’s about time he starts pulling his weight around here if you ask me. That 25% of extra brainpower would come in handy right now, especially given that an ambush appears very much on the cards. With time clearly not on my side, I bark that underbred numskull his first order.
“Quickly Bonus Brain…analyze!”
Bonus Brain instantly leaps from his cerebral hammock and kicking off those flip-flops is a sure sign that he very much means business. All motors are running and news feeds through from the team almost instantaneously. Of course, why hadn’t I considered that? They’re rooks right? Well rooks can only move in straight lines if absorbing the extensive chess knowledge of Max von Sydow wasn’t a complete waste of time and uncomfortable digestion. What this means is that they’re just doing what any rallying rook would given the situation and tools at their disposal – they’re flanking me. Fucking pincer movement, I should’ve guessed. They may think they have the best of me but I say “come on and get the rest shit nuts”. Oh baby!”
Aware that they have been rumbled at the eleventh hour, the rampant rooks stumble into my line of tertiary vision, before shambling directly beneath my roving searchlights. I’ve got Bonus Brain to thank for bailing me out in the eleventh hour and I can’t allow morale to slip for a solitary second as, while they may not be particularly discreet half-steppers, I’m expecting a wealth of combat expertise from two such bookends. That said, if he thinks I’m giving him a hand job, then he’s sorely mistaken as charity begins at home dagnabbit and I’m the one lugging around not one pair of swollen udders but two. Biting my lip like Jaws on receipt of his first wisdom tooth, I donate my reluctant token of gratitude.
“Say what they will about Bonus Brain but you never let me down when the chips are heading that way. Thank you kindly old bean”
As projected, I receive no formal response, as engaging in chitter-chatter is something that Bonus Brain reserves for times when his own terms can be facilitated. You can see why our relationship is so on-off right? Don’t ‘cha just hate it when that happens? With him I have to take every rough with its corresponding smooth and just pray he doesn’t have one such uppity moment when my pants are down and posterior tanning up nicely. I know what it looks like, I’m a chump and I know it. But I need all the friends I can muster right now and will take one who surreptitiously detests my very bones. Saying that there are instances, traditionally when nobody else is privy, when he shows another side to his game. We’ve laughed, oh how we’ve snorted, at frivolous fluff like Valhalla Rising, The Road, and The Piano and once polished off a whole crate of putrid pear cider whilst popping and locking to Clannad together as you do. He ain’t all bad y’know. Just my cross to bear. And bear him I will. ‘Cos that’s the kind of shit a wrangler does, brutal or otherwise.
Besides, acknowledgement is nothing to be sniffed at and, as he slides back into his sandals and offers up one such nod, I know he’s got my back in his own special way. I’ll need him too as, for the first time, I have received visual recon on my chosen rivals and they cut none too menacing a shape to be honest. Hardly what you would call gamorrean in stature, the pair actually resemble a couple of slender beanpoles and should be of little more than brief hindrance for one as battle-hardened as the Brutal Word Wrangler. Nevertheless I should check that the crimson quill is adequately loaded, just to be sure that I don’t leave my cheese out in the wind. Granted, the fear of God is not something this pair of lunkheads ever look like striking into me, but I still need a battle plan and it’s times like these where I’m grateful for packing the lute in my rucksack. It was either that or my Rubix Snake and there’ll be plenty of time for that once I’ve mounted the grim reaper’s rawboned top box above my mantle. Hell if I dispatch him with enough panache, I may even bust out the fuzzy felts, kick off the wallabees, and pour myself a nice glass of tepid Tizer.
Perhaps a short ditty will help to rouse me for the ensuing melee. Looks like one of my lute strings has been compromised, likely on my ascent up the cliff face, so it is going to have to be accapella I’m afraid. Nevertheless, I shall put both my bone-tired lungs into it, see if it can inspire me to obliterate the two advancing bozos. I’m going to need a topic to croon about and thankfully Bonus Brain has already offered his suggestion. Feet. Love ’em or loathe ’em most of us are saddled with a pair and, providing they pull their weight, A to B is pretty much licked at the very least. It is decided then, I shall sing a shanty about feet. Moreover, I’m feeling rather bold right now so what do you say we upgrade to hooves and push the boat out to sea just for the sheer helluvit? Should it pass Wilson dashed on the rocks as it sets sail, then nobody tell Hanks as he’s sensitive when it comes to gym equipment. It’s fine, as far as I know, he’s still thanking the Academy. Right then my featherless friends, hooves it is.
Hooray For Hooves
I possess a pair of walking tools known to trot around with glee
the primary concern of which is stabilizing me
they bear the weight without complaint and gladly take the hit
without their help I’d topple like a bag of sodden shit
I find them quite arousing just so long as well maintained
and no two sets of porky pigs are ever quite the same
A little varnish sees them through prevents them looking haggard
Sometimes I offer up the spa depends how long they’ve staggered
The second toes like to defy the lineal equation
these bolshy little treadsworths get ideas above their station
too long by far they overshoot and burst right through one’s sock
the other eight are civil but these blighters run amok
The final toe for what its worth just clings on for dear life
this battered nub has taken hits seen unfair shares of strife
don’t waste my time with clipping nails they’re barely there to trim
not really worth the danger as I’ll no doubt pinch the skin
But in a row they serve their purpose hold the line quite well
please wave all ten as wrangler is about to bid farewell
do I like feet why yesiree they give mild satisfaction
so grab these hooves some tap shoes as it’s time they see some action
That’s it, I’m pumped. Ready to go toe-to-toe with these right-angled rotters and cut them down to size faster than Edward Scissorhands slays finger monsters.
Who knows what kind of signature moves they’re packing? Good thing I have my spirit level handy as running rings around me will be a stretch for such rigid assailants and I must use this to my advantage if I hope to reach the next waypoint in anything less than segments. Just as I suspected, the twins commence their right-angled front guard and I grip my broadsword at the ready. As they both approach I finally earn a fleeting glance into the whites of their eyes and instantly wish I hadn’t. You see, they’re both wranglers. Not just any low-rent wranglers either; absolutely identical to me, myself and I. This poses a rather unique challenge as I’ve watched Superman III and are therefore aware of the bother of facing just one doppelgänger, let alone double trouble. As they mooch moodily into my personal space and I prepare to swing, both stop dead in their tracks and stand statue-like at either side of my frightfully exposed position.
“Wrangler. Wrangler. Wrangler”
Stall those stallions for one cotton-picking second and a half, I recognize that petulant tone in a split-second. It’s the Grim Reaper. What’s he doing here at such an inopportune moment? Don’t worry about providing that with an answer as I already know. Playing by the rules disinterests this brittle-headed boneshaker and I really ought to have seen this treachery coming some time ago. I’m guessing the goalposts are about to be moved as any less just wouldn’t be mildewy enough for this crabby cretin. What would my beloved grandmother say in such dicey circumstances I wonder? “Fuck it don’t duck it” doesn’t sound likely but I like the way it rolls from the tongue so I’ll take my own advice and raise these bushy brows to half mast in anticipation.
“Kudos on your dismantling of those seven spent sins and their woefully wooden pimp daddy. I’m vaguely impressed you know. However, I appreciate that you’re probably feeling fatigued right now so present you with a rather unorthodox little breather teaser for the next phase of your challenge. A dash of mental arithmetic no less”
Whatever skullduggery is afoot and I’m under no illusion that it is, it’s making my dick stalk itch. Jeopardy was a given but I failed to pack my buzzer and I’m still perturbed by the pair of linear clones teetering with intent just inches from my immediate fart radius. I thought I’d had the last of my out-of-body experiences the final time I dropped acid a fair few moons ago. Could this be some kind of flashback I’m being subjected to? Why else would I feel so hamstrung by fear and loathing in unison?
“Of course, there is a dash more to this than meets the eye and I know full well that you’ve already anticipated as much. Thing is, you must dispose of the intruder in the ranks. By now you would have assumed that both of these feeble wretches are the very image of you. Well one of them needs snuffing Wrangler. Make the wrong selection and whatever pain you opt to inflict shall be imparted back a thousandfold. Choose correctly however and I will allow you to walk away scot-free. It’s as simple as that”
Simple? I beg to differ. You see it is unlikely, should I ask both suitors to raise their arms, that either will have flannel washed their pits for at least three days prior to engagement. I will be required to summon all my powers of deduction for this one. One wrong move and I’m buttered toast. Now I know full well how Danny Glover felt in Lethal Weapon 2 when he thought he’d take that dump while Mel Gibson was pissing in the brisket downstairs. However, I’m ready to grab the cat if I plump for the wrong trespasser but I’ve seen both Live & Let Die and The Serpent and The Rainbow so I’m only too savvy as to the power of black magic in such circumstances. Baron Samedi is one bad motherfucker and don’t even get me started on rusty nails in testicles. One misplaced abracadabra and I can already see the voodoo doll protruding from death’s blackened shroud. Being endlessly needled by Karen Carpenter’s role-model is something I could really do without. On the plus side, my chances are fifty-fifty and that’s half a ton more than nada. Game face on Wrangler and don’t forget to tighten those straps.
So how am I supposed to come to my conclusion anyhoots? After all, they are indistinguishable. There has to be a way of telling which is friend and which foe. Frantically I cast my mind back to MacReady and pals back at that remote Antarctic research station and, in particular, the famous blood-test scene. But I have no petri dish knocking about in my inventory. Balls! It’s getting desperate now and a last-ditch round of eeny, meeny, miny, moe could well be on the cards if I don’t cease procrastinating soon.
“Quickly Wrangler. Time waits for no man and neither do I as I have an attention span almost as pitiful as that Bonus Brain schmuck you lug around with you”
Yeah, yeah. No pressure then reaper? I hear you loud and clear. That said, I’m grateful for the generous reminder. It’s high time I call Bonus Brain to the stand and hope he can shed some light before the deadline passes. Time is at a distinct premium thanks to these two lecherous loiterers and it would appear that I’ve just taken a pew at the last chance saloon. In typical Bonus Brain fashion, he seems reluctant to get a wriggle on, although I can hear those gears turning and a few more seconds should be all it takes for him to throw me his much welcome two cents worth. In the meantime, maybe I should prepare some rousing audio for his eventual lightbulb moment. I’m feeling a bit of Deacon Blue y’know and don’t ask me why as you really shouldn’t need to.
Looks like it’s working a treat ye of little faith as, once again, Bonus Brain looks to have come up trumps. Moreover, he has alerted me to a spread of half-dozen images laid out by my feet. The reaper must have dropped them out of sympathy that I had no idea he even had. Take me lightly will ya? Mock Bonus Brain and you mock me also fiend. He may resemble spat out chewing gum but he’s my spat out chewing gum. If this feels a little too convenient, then I ask that you continue to suspend disbelief and humor me please as I damn well deserve this break. Each of these particular pictorials denotes a female A-lister from the Hollywood Hills, five of which are fair game, while one is a herring. One of these six chills me to the innermost marrow, no real clue as to why, she just does. This is the acid test and it must be played after symmetrically unzipping the trouser snakes of both rooks. You heard me, that’s twin winkies, both dangling free without a care in the world. I flop out winkie #1 and leave it teetering while I unsheathe the second. Right then, let’s see if Bonus Brain has spared me shall we?
Image one is clearly Natalie Portman. Both ensigns are instantaneously raised to fullest mast in unison, synchronized boners as very much expected.
Image two is Scarlett Johanson. Neither so much as flinches from its state of erection so I move rapidly on to image three before the urge to boff my own primate becomes all too overwhelming.
Mila Kunis. Yummy mommy. Both stiffened schlongs stand roll-neck to roll-neck like a pair of Geography professors. This may well take a steward’s inquiry at this rate.
Image four. Emma Stone. No complaints here. Gotta love me some freckles and the rooks are in total agreement. What is this game actually proving other than that I wish I’d equipped my mother’s hand moisturizing lotion for my expedition?
On to image five. Carey Mulligan. I’m now thoroughly cursing any lack of available ointment and, moreover, feeling decidedly less than chipper about the fact that I only hold one remaining get out of jail free card. Is this purely a ruse to distract me further while the telling blow is both prepared and landed? Only one way to find out. The sixth and final picture depicts…
Ha! Sandra Bullock. Got you bang to rights shady right hand rook. Nothing personal hun, you just don’t get my pistons firing like the others. Loved you in Gravity though. Instantly lefty’s spare rib flops, leaving its formerly identical other to go all Palmer, contorting before my eyes and spitting its deadly intent. I plunder my blade into the last boner standing, although it takes three hefty hacks to dismember this malignant member due to me being hung like a stallion (in my mind and that’s all that counts in my story). As the perpetrator drops to the floor and its owner disintegrates into a heap of ashen remnants before me, I know I have made the right choice. I must remember to thank Bonus Brain, Bullock too, before setting off on my merry way once more. Next stop – Knights. I’m getting ever closer to Bieber you know and can already hear him relieving himself in a mop bucket out of blind terror. Not only will I land one on his schnoz for myself and another for Anne Frank and the people of Poland but also for the whole of humanity. First things first, credit where it’s due right?
“Cheers Bonus Brain. Couldn’t have done it without my faithful sidekick”
One solitary word. Now that’s progress. At this rate, I may have a full sentence from him by the time I topple my next adversaries. Knights propose a far sterner challenge and I could do with the conversation just to keep myself frosty. Not bad huh? When you consider that I very nearly plummeted to my untimely death before I even reached terra firma, I’d say I have proven myself quite the wrangler. Now put your shirt back on Iggy as your bloated neck veins are freaking me the hell out. Oh and top of the morning to you Bullock. I guess it’s right what they say about Miss Congeniality. Not that you’re clearly a raging lesbian. The other thing. Now land that solar shuttle wench before I change my mind and pound your pussy ’til it chafes.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2014 (Revised Edition 2016)