Flintlocks and Folly, Act 2
Taibald follows the wild man through the dense, dark jungle and before long they step from the heavily wooded area onto a strange desert. The ring of trees stops dead and there’s nothing underfoot but warm sand on a mild, gradual incline. The men begin to climb the hill and Taibald asks, “Where are we going?” but he gets no response.
Soon Taibald can see some kind of hut at the top of the little mountain they’re climbing and he stares at the peculiar structure as he approaches. It’s entirely crafted out of a dark red filament that looks like incredibly fine plant vines, the colour of a ripe pomegranate.
The wild man strolls through an opening on the side of the small building and Taibald follows, awash with curiosity.
He stares around the room he now finds himself in and sees that it’s perfectly cylindrical and totally constructed out of the red fibres. There are fabric sacks woven from the same material lining the walls and a huge hole in the centre of the room. Taibald peers to the roof and sees that there is some kind of chimney there, directly above the immense pit.
He spins in a circle and can’t seem to find anything else in the room, then he spins again and an entirely naked woman has simply appeared as if she had been hiding in the bare space the whole time.
“Urgh, get back!” Taibald screams at the woman then turns to ask his companion, “Why have you brought me here?”
The woman answers, “Because he can’t speak English and you can’t speak French, but I can speak both. Relax, you’re just here to talk.”
At this, Taibald calms a little and asks, “Why are you bare?”
“To best enjoy the spray,” she replies and as the final words fall from her lips, the ground begins to rumble. The wild man smiles and leaps to the ground beside the hole in the middle of the room. All of a sudden, an enormous burst of water is thrown from the hole in a gargantuan pillar that explodes from the chimney above them and the trio is bathed in a cool mist.
Taibald is standing wet and in awe of this weird place when the woman speaks again.
“You’re certainly not a local man. Who are you and how did you get to these islands?”
Taibald studies the woman and sees that every hair on her naked flesh is the exact same colour as the strings with which this building is constructed. He’s standing in a house made entirely of this woman’s own body.
He steps away from the odd person and says, “My name is Taibald and I was shipwrecked.”
“Well tell the whole story, I’ve time to listen.”
“Alright, I was once a priest, in London, but my life was boring until a ship sailed into the harbour and the crew brought forth all kinds of wondrous treats. They had a bitter, dark kind of food that had never before been tasted in England and a boiling black drink that gave any person a wonderful kick of energy as if the stuff was pure magic.”
“Cocoa and coffee. The ship had been to South America.”
“That’s right!” Taibald cheered, “South America. I began my training as a sailor the next day.”
“But that doesn’t explain why you’re here.”
“Many years and many voyages after I learnt to love the sea I met a Dutch man in a tavern in India. He swore he had landed on an entirely new patch of land. He said that he saw giant, hopping mice and tiny little grey bears that lived in the tallest trees.”
“I’ve never heard of any place like that.”
“Neither had I, but I saw the same excited, accomplished look in the man’s eye that I’d seen in the voyagers of South America. I signed on with his vessel and we sailed out to find the crazy new land.”
“And did you?”
“We were at sea for a full six months and the men began to doubt the captain’s sanity. He changed direction every week and it became abundantly clear that he had no idea where he was going. To make matter worse, we were running low on supplies.”
“Ahhhh, I see, the men planned a mutiny.”
“Exactly. Our strongest comrade stood up to the captain and told him to find land or he’d be thrown in the ocean. The captain just smiled and produced a small pewter box. We all looked on, assuming he had some hidden treasure or proof of his knowledge. To our amazement, the captain pulled a totally unique weapon from the box and killed our mutiny’s leader from twenty paces away. Then the captain told us that we were going to this new place to steal everything of value that we could find and we’d all be given weapons of unimaginable power to kill any native who argued.”
“And you disagreed.”
“With all my heart and soul. I wanted to share in the lord’s boundless creation, not steal and pillage like some kind of heathen mercenary. I crept into the captain’s quarters while he lay drunk and I stole this pewter box. Then I used the last of our strong whisky to light the ship on fire and I took my chances in the water. I knew that if I drowned I would at least wake by the side of the lord, but instead, I woke up here.”
“I’d wager that was a shock, but you’re in luck. That man is a warrior and he’s been waiting for a sailor,” the naked woman announced as she pointed to the wild man.
“Who is he?”
“His name is Bandankarin Boralondurank, but I call him Banda. He’s a great warrior from a land where cats grow to the size of ponies and a man could spend his whole life wandering the dessert without seeing a single drop of water.”
“A short life that would be. You speak of Africa. I know it well.”
“OUI! AFRICA!” Banda cheered.
“My friend Banda, I already owe you my life. Find me a ship and we’ll sail to Africa, I swear.”
The woman translated and Banda began gathering up his swords and his knives with a new, ecstatic vigour.
As the men laughed together, the naked woman began to sniff at the air.
“What’s that smell? No! The flesh-eaters are coming, did you bring them here?”
Taibald didn’t know what to say, but Banda nodded.
“Fools! They’ll be upon us in moments. Take this and run towards the horizon, away from the jungle. Just keep running and dive into the ocean. You’ll find a wooden boat, get aboard and you’ll know what to do. Run! Now!” The woman explained as she handed a huge, purple melon to Taibald. Then she scurried to one of the hair-woven bags by the side of the room and it began to wriggle and pulse as she dragged the huge parcel to the hole in the centre of the chamber.
“Is there something alive in there?” Taibald asked.
“Start running NOW or you’ll die here with those demons.”
Taibald was outside with Banda and they ran across the sand ahead of a horde of orange, bleeding cannibals.
Taibald carried the strange melon and his pewter box, juggling the two as he sprinted. The men felt the ground below them start to shake and, once again, a huge column of water erupted from the hair-hut they’d left behind.
Taibald looked back and saw millions upon millions of black spots in the water. As the liquid dissipated, the black spots remained hanging in the air, then they all began to give chase just a few paces behind the mass of orange killers.
Taibald and Banda sprinted shrieking and petrified from their pursuers and they could hear the enemies laughing with anticipation as they drew closer.
Then all the pair could hear was screaming. They both looked back in unison to watch the swarm of black dots dropping from the sky and killing off the cannibals one-by-one.
Taibald couldn’t see if they were bats or birds or bugs, but the flying things were striking down the flesh-eaters with horrible efficiency. A whole huge cloud of the things had overtaken the cannibals and the murderous mass was bearing down on Taibald and Banda.