TITLE: Pit of Despair
SUMMARY: The Mighty Boosh Can our heroes survive the horrors of the Pit of Despair? Will Howard resist the thrall of the Xylophone of Ruin? Will Vince get his man? Slash.
NOTES: Written for Maestro in Yuletide 2006.
DISCLAIMER: Not mine, no profit, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Pit of Despair
The famously six-breasted priestess of the Pambi Tribe, ancient guardians of the Xylophone of Ruin, was clearly a bit upset. This was apparent to both Howard and Vince, albeit briefly as the sight also momentously instigated the first agreement and decisive action shared by the two of them in the last three days of terror, fear, disgust, terror, danger, revulsion and, last but not least, mind-numbing terror when, as one, they turned tail and ran.
The stories had neglected to mention that the six-breasted priestess also had six arms, all of which she used to pelt the fleeing duo with spitefully sharp rocks while she gave chase on her six fast legs, also unheralded in the tales of her fame, and glared at them from her six nasty eyes, shrieking spine-chilling curses after their fleeing rumps with six mouths full of hideously sharpened teeth.
Someone'd had a bit of a blinkered mind with this 'six-breasted' deal -- is what our heroes would have probably felt, if they'd had opportunity to do so or much prospect of a 'later' wherein they might look back and reflect.
Vince Noir - God Among Hairstyles and all-round stylish guru among men - seized enough breath in between panting and blindly crashing through the jungle foliage, to yell, "I think you should throw away the xylophone, Howard!"
Howard Moon - Jazz Maverick, actor, musician, wild man, rebel, dick - a few paces behind his valiant comrade on account of the big instrument clutched possessively against his pigeon chest with both arms, shook his head with manic denial. "But it's pretty! And it makes a nice sound! I'm not giving it back!"
"You're under it's thrall, Howard! That thing has got a thrall with your name on it. Throw it away and we might escape with our lives!" Vince, at the last moment, saw and avoided a big fake looking tree right in their path.
"It's mine, and--" Howard's protest, albeit punctuated by a 'thud' and a rather tuneful 'tinkle', was definite. "I told you," he yelled after Vince, picking himself up from the ground spitting bits of polystyrene, "I'm keeping it! Aaaargh!" The sight of the priestess gaining ground saw him achieve a turn of speed through the dense plastic undergrowth that would have astonished anyone and everyone who'd ever met him. "Vince! Vince--!" His partner in misadventure was out of sight. Howard did what he did best; panicked wildly.
A faint voice emerged, warningly and distant, "Howard, wait, watch out for--"
There was a dizzying kaleidoscope of 2D psychedelia.
"--watch out for the really deep hole," Vince said to his friend as he landed emphatically beside him at the bottom of the deep pit. The Xylophone of Ruin tinkled musically. Less musically, a thin, high whimper emerged from the pathetic wreck of a human being slumped untidily underneath it. "Howard?" Vince got up, dusted off his striking lemon and black catsuit, blanched at a scuff on his gold platform boots, and leaned worriedly over his friend. His every strand of hair was still proudly in place.
"I think I broke every bone I have," Howard groaned.
"That magic xylophone okay?"
"Thanks a lot, Vince. You're a real friend." Torn, tattered, dishevelled, the Jazz Maverick grouchily sat up. The Xylophone of Ruin tinkled a few more merry notes as it slid off his chest. He glared at it; he glared at Vince; here, there, and everywhere, he glared. "What happened? Where are we?"
"Down a hole, Howard," Vince supplied, with out of place and aggravating earnest chirpiness. "We fell down a big hole. I think it might be a trap."
"Oh, you think?" On the pit wall above their heads had been carved, in foot-high letters, 'Pit of Awesome Despair (no littering)'.
Our two heroes frowned grimly upwards, past the towering vertical walls of rock and dirt, up to the ludicrously tiny disc of sky and foliage above. And perhaps, so doing, they reflected upon the sheer miracle of surviving such a fall in the first instance and felt content in the knowledge that somewhere in the universe, some god was smiling on them.
"Bollocks," said Howard, in the spirit of deep spiritual appreciation.
"Gyaaaah," said Howard, in strangled distress. "Did you just see that?"
"What? You mean that funny head thing, with the big eyes and teeth?"
"No, I meant some other funny head thing with big eyes and teeth!" With a swipe of a battered hand, he twatted Vince mightily about the noggin.
"Ow, okay, all right? Watch the hair. Wait-- you never noticed that before? Happens at least once or twice a day. You're weird, Howard." He pursed his lips and mused, "Although it did look a bit more like three dots this time. Or maybe it was a line. I reckon we might be experiencing a crisis of format, Howard."
"What are you talking about?" Howard glared fiercely upwards. "We have to get out of this hole before the bonkers six-titted priestess finds us and kills us."
Vince helped him to his feet and made a token effort to brush him down; he affected a heroic limp and grumped, "Don't touch me." There was a deeply ominous rustling from the foliage at the distant top of the pit. They froze and looked up again, nervously.
"Maybe you should throw the xylophone up there," Vince urged in a whisper. "She might let us go."
"But I--" Howard paused; sighed down at the mystical instrument, and frowned as though seeing it clearly for the first time. "Right. Okay. Don't know why I really wanted this battered piece of junk anyway." He hefted it in preparation.
"That'll be because the thrall was broken by the fall," Vince said, nodding wisely.
"Yeah, everyone knows it takes a good rhyme to break a thrall." With a derisive snort, Howard aimed and lobbed the Xylophone of Ruin. It crashed up onto the edge of the pit with a cheerful jangle.
"Oh boy oh boy, boyo! Thanks!" gushed the lurking tiger. "Always wanted one of these, so I have." Xylophone in paw, it toddled happily off. In the circumstance, neither of our heroes cared to question why the tiger was Welsh.
"Oh, great," Howard said flatly. "That worked really well. Now we don't even have anything to bargain with when the bizarrely-bosomed bitch finds us, genius." He stumped across the limited diameter of the pit and sat down on a rock.
Vince was frowning. "What happened to your limp?"
"I was watching for it that time," Vince said, "And it was definitely a line. That's a bit weird, isn't it, Howard?"
"Shut up." Regard, for a moment, the great Howard Moon; the very picture of dishevelled misery slouched on his rock, jungle leaves of suspiciously false bright hue in his hair and, looking to shortly bring a brief spark of additional excitement into his remaining life, another as-yet-unnoticed many-legged creature preparing an expedition into the wilds of his shirt collar. "I don't care. We're going to die. I don't want to die. There's too many things I still have to give!"
"Yeah, okay Howard." Vince engaged in the ritual eye-rolling. He felt oddly as though the past few hours had zoomed by in a few seconds even though he knew that in the past few hours, he and Howard had attempted escape by way of standing on each other's shoulders (hadn't come close to halfway up the pit either way around), digging a tunnel (all of two inches), scraping out handholds to climb up the sides (he'd fallen off about a dozen times; Howard hadn't tried), and finally had mutually and silently agreed upon a descent into wallowing despair as the single remaining course of action.
Night arrived swiftly with the suspicious hint of somebody throwing a big light switch. If you listened carefully, you could hear the 'click'. Our heroes were immersed in the impenetrable darkness of the jungle night.
"We should try to get some sleep," Vince said, rustling as, presumably, he sank down next to Howard. "Maybe things will look up in the morning."
"We're at the bottom of a bottomless pit, Vince," Howard responded with predictable aggravation. "The only way we can look is up. Every other direction is rock and soil."
"Metaphorically, Howard. It's a metaphor. Anyway, if it was bottomless, we couldn't be stuck at the bottom of it, could we, Howard? We'd still be falling."
Howard muttered something, which was in fact 'Don't I wish you were', but Vince, who didn't hear him properly, responded, "Yeah, I guess we would come out in Australia."
"Don't mention Australia. I've had bad experiences with kangaroos, remember."
Vince chuckled. "Good night, Howard." There were the unmistakeable sounds of a stylish man in a catsuit snuggling down to sleep. Howard didn't notably move until a long moment later, and when he did the sounds he made were clearly much scruffier, with a hint of experimental jazz.
As our heroes fell silent, the night sounds of the jungle grew louder, ominous and animalistic with distinct caws and cackles, and howls as well because, as everybody knows, no respectable jungle would be without a werewolf. In the distance they could also hear the staccato notes of the tiger playing the Xylophone of Ruin. Vince happily recognised the strains of 'Cars' from the oeuvre of the Great God Gary Numan.
The restful tableau continued for some hours, or possibly something like ten seconds.
"Vince," Howard hissed suddenly, in the clearly recognisable universal tones of sheer pants-wetting terror. "I think I've got one of those crawling things with all the legs inside my underwear."
"No, Howard," Vince said with chiding amusement. "That's my hand."
"Those lines are coming thick and fast now," Vince observed with keen academic interest. "Hey, Howard, what's up?"
Our brave crusader had shot upright, jumped to his feet, and danced to the other side of the pit as though its floor was full of snakes. Once there, he continued to hop from foot to foot. It was conveniently possible to see him do this because the moon had emerged in the velvet black of the sky above. A moment before, it had attempted to spout poetry at them, until Howard had told it to fuck off. "Absolutely not," Howard announced. "No way. I told you this last time. Not a chance. Not again. Not ever."
"Oh," Vince said, and grimaced. "You're still on about that?"
"Oh, you still think I'm on about that, do you?" The sarcasm was thick enough to slice into chunks and hang on a wall. "You-- custard-brained electro turd."
"You're still holding a grudge. I can tell." Vince smiled and nodded sagely. "Aw, come on Howard, I won't laugh again, I promise." He patted the ground next to him invitingly.
Howard folded his arms and stayed where he was. "I don't believe you."
"We could be about to die. Do you really want to spend your last hours alone? No man is an island, Howard."
"Start singing Simon and Garfunkel and I'll put you down hard, Vince," Howard warned nastily. "And yes, in fact -- yes. That's me all over; Howard Moon, man of steel. I don't need any of that namby-pamby, putrid, dribbling, sentimental tosh. I am a self-contained man, an artist, at peace with myself. I have no pathetic psychological need to spend my last hours in this good world making hot, heavy, sweet, sticky love to my attractive best friend in a pit. No -- I intend to reflect, and contemplate the more sublime, intellectual pleasures of the world I'm leaving behind."
Howard leaned back against the sheer wall of the pit's side and reflected and contemplated, mostly, on the sublime pleasure of Vince's pert rump in the stretchy yellow lycra of the catsuit. He cursed under his breath.
"I said I won't laugh," Vince persisted. "Okay, I know I hurt your feelings last time, but I mean, that was just an instinctive reaction. I'm prepared now, it won't happen again. If it bothers you, we could probably manage without looking, as it's so dark anyway. What more do you want from me?" He frowned and cocked his head inquisitively to once side. "Can you hear something?"
"What? No." Howard looked less than thrilled. "Besides, even if last time did not, in fact, remain a raw, weeping wound upon my psyche, and even disregarding the fact I can't look at a poncho without traumatic flashbacks, I am not making hot, heavy, sweet, sticky love to you in a pit. It's unsanitary."
"Let me get this clear, Howard, so I can be absolutely sure I've got the situation straight in my mind," Vince returned, narked. "We're trapped in a Pit of Awesome Despair, despair so awesome it has audible capital letters, and even if the priestess doesn't find us soon and stone us to death, we're still going to starve and die here, and you won't spend your last hours having sex with me because it's unsanitary?"
"That's right." Howard folded his arms firmly, and cast his face in an iron expression of absolute determination. That might have fazed Vince had he not been aware that his friend had no more backbone than a particularly cowardly squirrel. And that, in fact, there were probably cowardly squirrels everywhere drafting letters of outrage even as the thought crossed his brain.
He was distracted again by distant strains. It sounded like a full ensemble rather than the ongoing tinkle of the Xylophone of Ruin, but he could detect the tiger picking up the tune and starting to pitch in. "I can hear something."
"What? Where? ...Oh, crap."
"I think it's a song."
"We need to run." Howard panicked the way only Howard could, scratching and jumping at the sides of the pit like a demented terrier with a rocket up its arse. "Vince, we have to get out of here! It's a ploy. You hear that riff? That's the beginnings of a romantic number! It wants us together! In a minute we'll have no choice!"
Vince shrugged. "It's probably too late already, and plus with being in a pit and all, I think we'll just have to surrender to it."
"It proves nothing if the music makes us do it, Vince! Nothing!" Howard shouted in desperate resistance.
"Shut up, Howard. You'll ruin the musical set piece."
As the opening notes drew to a swirling crescendo backed up by the tinkle of the Xylophone of Ruin, it pulled Howard and Vince drew together irresistibly. The music swelled, and the priestess launched into the first lines of a power ballad which, with six mouths to work with, was fairly impressive. Had our heroes been paying attention, they might have looked up to witness the rather mind-boggling sight of her dancing around the top of the pit like an epileptic octopus attempting to karaoke Tina Turner. They were far too preoccupied, however. There was kissing with tongues, there was groping with hands, there was--
The music stopped abruptly in a chewed-up hairball of compressed noise like somebody had dragged the needle quickly over the end of the record.
"You down there, Vince, Howard?" called a familiar half-stoned voice. Raising their reluctant heads, our intrepid, lustful duo targeted sucked-lemon expressions at the unwelcome face of their perennial saviour. Naboo the Shaman straddled a flying motorbike, complete with sidecar upsetting its balance and making it list on the air.
Howard spluttered and rearranged his clothing. "Naboo! It wasn't us! It's all the fault of the music! What are you doing here?"
"Bollo told me that the spirit of Gary Numan came to him and said you were in trouble."
"Gary Numan's not dead!" Vince protested.
"Oh." Naboo shrugged. "Must've been a tribute spirit, then. Look, are you two coming?" There was a predictable pause, and the shaman adeptly ducked six well-aimed rocks from the priestess whose big moment he'd ruined. "I'm not going to rephrase that. I can't hang about here all day."
Howard and Vince regarded each other narrowly.
"Can you get back to us in about half an hour?" Howard put forward with caution.