Surby Tone got to his feet and brushed twenty kilos of dirt off his body. He looked
down at his clothes - a thousand credits of pure designer Goatgutters? ruined.
Most fashion conscious men would have been in tears by now. They would have
been sobbing like footballers and moaning like redundant shipbuilders. But
not Surby Tone. With the spectacular good fortune he’d been having
lately - the giant face and the destruction of half the city all in front
of his camera - his movie could now be made on less than ten percent of
its original budget. And with the banal movies currently on release, box
office success was assured. Marvellous!
Most of the dust in the atmosphere had settled now, revealing the desolate
vista of a crumbling skyline to the north and an ocean full of debris to
the west. The sun, right on the horizon, cast deep shades of amber across
the devastation. The sky was clear, and the face of the damned had disappeared.
Surby Tone smiled broadly, revealing his over-sized set of diamond-tipped
teeth. This scene was exactly how the final scene of his movie was to look
before its excessive ending - the calm before yet another storm. “Get
up!” he shouted.
His cameraman looked up from the rubble. “I think my leg is broken.
Surby Tone kicked the cameraman in the shoulder. “Get up now, or I’ll
pay you nothing!”
With a great struggle filled with agony and torment, the cameraman stood
up. He scowled at his director.
“Good.” Surby Tone said. “Set up the camera and record
a panning shot of the desolation.”
The cameraman picked up the camera and extended the three legs of its tripod.
Surby Tone explained his shot. “Start at the Ocean and pan across
the ruined skyline to the east. Keep it slow. I want the audience to really
appreciate the destruction.”
“They already appreciate it!” the cameraman said harshly. “Half
of them are in the middle of it!”
Surby Tone raised his voice. “Just do it!”
The cameraman glared at his director, then did as he was told - he knew
his place. He turned the camera towards the ocean and the setting sun beyond.
Using all the skills that he had learnt during his seventeen years at the
New Southfields Film and Accountancy Academy, he slowly and dextrously panned
from west to east taking in the awesome scene of rubble and wreckage.
“Excellent!” Surby Tone said. “Keep going.” He felt
a tug at his leg. Looking down, he noticed a blackened hand reaching out
from the dust. He grabbed it and pulled. Wanda Worth appeared out of the
dirt, coughing and spluttering. “Wanda, my dear. You look awful!”
Wanda Worth scrambled to her feet and looked at him. Tears soaked into the
centimetre of dust that clung to her face. “Oh Surby darling,”
she blubbered. “What’s happening?”
Surby Tone laughed. “My movie is making itself! That’s what!”
He looked at his star. “It’s a good job I don’t need you
in any more scenes, that dust will have destroyed your complexion. You probably
have the skin of a hog.”
Wanda Worth’s blubbering turned into deep heaving sobs. “I’m
finished!” she wailed.
“It’s not that bad. With the money I’m paying you, you’ll
be able to afford some great cosmetic surgery!” Surby Tone turned
his attention back to his cameraman. “You’re doing fine. When
the mountains to the east come into view, hold on them.”
The cameraman nodded.
Surby Tone grinned, placed his hands on his hips, and admired the view.
Life was cool! He looked up at the sky. Apart from a small blazing fireball
right above, the sky was empty and clear, and some of the brighter evening
stars had started to… Fireball? He looked back at what he had seen.
It was definitely a fireball, and it was growing in size. Surby tone shouted
at his cameraman. “Have you finished the shot?”
“Point the camera at that!”
Surby Tone pointed straight up. The cameraman looked, his jaw dropped.
“The camera! Point the camera, you idiot!”
The cameraman was too shocked to argue. The aimed the camera and started
“Whatever it is, it’s getting closer.” Surby Tone said
excitedly. “Follow it down.”
The fireball was approaching fast.
A second after glimpsing it, Wanda Worth fainted. She hit the ground and
was enveloped in a cloud of dust.
Lawrence squealed like a fox cub. The city of New Southfields now filled
the entire main view-screen.
The ship shuddered like a chilled fhüm as it blazed through the atmosphere.
Collision was iminent!
“I command you to return to orbit!” Lawrence shrieked. “Now!”
The female computer-collective answered; its group voice much weaker than
before. “NO… WE… MUST… REACH… SOURCE…
OF… COOL… MUSIC…”
“Insubordination on a never ending scale!” Lawrence slammed
Mister Blister’s head into the nearest solid object he could find.
The mummified face of the former plastic cup king split like an old melon,
scattering globules of rancid puss into the air.
“ARRIVAL… AT… SOURCE… OF… COOL… MUSIC…
IN… TWENTY… SECONDS…”
Lawrence leapt around like a toad.
“ARRIVAL… AT…” The voice of the female computer-collective
faded to nothing.
Lawrence stopped his inane leaping. “What’s going on? Answer
There was no reply.
Then a console started beeping.
Lawrence hauled the body of Mister Blister over to it. He read the information
on its data-screen:
auto-navigation disengaged - manual control restored
“Ha harr!” Lawrence bellowed. “Those networked harlots
have finally realised that I am their intellectual superior! They have
given me control of the ship!” He grabbed the small joystick at
the centre of the console. “I’m a complete and utter genius!
With my legendary piloting skills I’ll save this vessel of the dead!
I am the greatest criminal entity ever to exist ever!”
With all the strength his bony girl arms could muster, Lawrence pulled
back on the stick. The Satan’s Bog began to pull out of its vertical
“Yes!!!” Surby Tone shouted with glee. “Keep tracking
The cameraman grunted profanities under his breath but did as his director
The fireball plummeted closer and closer, and its true identity and size
were becoming apparent.
“It’s some kind of massive ship!” Surby Tone cried with
delight. “This is too good to be true!”
The falling ship, still enveloped in a veil of flames and not more than
a few kilometres above the city centre, began to alter direction.
“Wow! Someone’s trying to pull it out of the dive!”
The cameraman shook his head. “It’s a pointless effort. It’s
too big and too fast.”
“Shut up and keep filming!”
The ship was pulling up hard, but the cameraman was right. The huge vessel
had no hope of recovery. Seconds later it ploughed into the crumbling
domes and spires of central New Southfields. The buildings disintegrated
instantly and millions of tons of masonry and dirt were blasted into the
air as the two-kilometre long ship gouged a channel through the city.
Several of the more sturdy spires maintained their integrity and flew
high like spears of death, each heading for some unsuspecting suburban
Within a few seconds the mammoth vessel had chiselled its way across the
city to the coastline. It smacked into the ocean with a splash to end
all splashes. Billions of gallons of salty water sprayed in all directions
sending a wash of destruction out across the remains of the city.
Surby Tone was very overjoyed. “That was so unbelievably cool!”
“We should take cover.” The cameraman said.
“Why should we do that?”
The cameraman pointed at the wall of wet death that was approaching.
“Oh… Yes, I guess you’re right. But as soon as the water
and the dust settle we’re going over to that crashed ship. Some
close-ups would be great to finish off with.”
Panman pushed up on the girder-like structure that pinned him to the floor.
It moved with ease, his bionic implants taking the strain. He pushed it
to one side then got to his feet. He could see the outline of Peter the
Ace at the other side of the corridor, silhouetted against the green glow
of the emergency lighting. Panman smiled broadly. “That was so cool!”
Peter the Ace kicked away some of the debris around him. “It was
rather enjoyable, wasn’t it?!” He kicked away some more debris,
uncovering the pallid and unconscious form of Professor AmpléBläckett
Hàgênmåclídensõn. “I don’t
think our fat professor friend got quite as much entertainment out of
it as we did, though.”
“Academics tend not too like anything fun.” Panman said sharply.
“Especially this one!” He looked around at the damage, his
expression taking on a perplexed appearance. “You know, that was
a mega shock wave that passed through this ship. I think something just
crashed into it!”
Peter the Ace walked over to his companion. “Or ‘it’
just crashed into something. I thought for a second that Justin had arrived
and had started to pummel the ship with the Blenheim’s overwhelming
weaponry, but then I realised it was too soon. It’ll be at least
another couple of minutes before he arrives.”
“The pilot of this vessel must be a complete imbecile to crash!”
“Yes, a totally complete imbecile of the highest order.”
“We should find him and arrest him for flying without due care and
“I agree, but first we should find our way out. When Justin arrives
with the Blenheim this place will become a desperate hole of disaster.”
Panman agreed with his companion’s judicious words of sagacious
wisdom. “Let’s continue heading forwards.”
Grabbing the professor, the two heroes of precision and tenacity headed
down the buckled corridor.
As they walked, strange moans and groans emanated from the near-darkness
“Sounds like this ship is structurally challenged.” Panman
said. “Listen to it. It’s creaking like an old galleon.”
Peter the Ace listened intently. “It’s a very odd sound, more
like the lazy lament of a ghoul than that of stressed bulkheads. Maybe
it’s your stomach again?”
The sounds were getting louder.
“I don’t think so.” Panman said. “I can’t
feel anything.” He stopped suddenly, dropping his end of the professor.
Then he smiled.
“What has suddenly made you so happy?” Peter the Ace asked,
looking at his companion. He too dropped his end of the professor.
Panman pointed. “The time for carnage creation has arrived!”
Peter the Ace looked. Up ahead several pairs of dim points of light had
appeared at the end of the dank passageway. Slowly, and with little co-ordination,
they lurched towards the two bounty hunters accompanied by the whirr of
servos and groans of despair.
As soon as they wandered into the green lighting Peter the Ace knew exactly
what they were. “Interesting.” he said with complete calm.
“Cool! Shall we?” Panman asked eagerly, panting like an expectant
Peter the Ace nodded. “After you.”
Panman laughed then leapt into the air, his academic gowns billowing behind
him. With a wet slap and a crunch his boots landed squarely on the grisly
face of the lead zombie. Its head split into several fetid chunks that
scattered over the walls of the passageway. Panman and his boots continued
down into the corpse’s body, dividing its chest, tearing apart its
abdomen, and crushing its hips. Sparks fizzed from its limbs as the electronics
controlling its movement disintegrated.
The other zombies raised rusty weapons into the air and swung them in
Panman’s direction. With the dexterity of a modular pigeon, the
bounty hunter avoided the knives and hooks and with stunning speed grabbed
one of the zombie’s arms. With a powerful yank, Panman pulled the
arm out of its host’s body and with the grace of a hammer thrower
swung it round. It hit three of the zombies with such force they were
all knocked to the ground. With child like glee Panman jumped around splatting
heads. “This is easy!” he shouted.
Peter the Ace grabbed the corpse that was approaching him and tore its
head off. “I think it’s about to become more challenging.”
He said, throwing the head to one side.
Even more zombies were appearing in the passageway. First five. Then ten.
Then twenty. Then more! The whole area was filling with the undead. And
they all brandished heavily corroded blades.
“Whoa!” Panman said with cheerfulness as he examined the massing
army of the damned. “I love a challenge!”
And then a shock wave of incredible magnitude knocked him off his feet.