Once upon a time Count Pugnacious saved Christmas, one of OKA's writers recounts how it happened...
Col. Al Parka and Our Lady of Billing had been on a really rather splendid holiday in the Caribbean. The weather had been beautiful and the two of them had had a really fantastic time but they needed to get home for Christmas. They were queuing up in the airport, behind a bright pink flamingo, when the Colonel started to cough. It wasn’t just a little cough it was rather a loud cough.
If you’ve ever heard an alpaca cough, you will know just what I mean.
Airport security came over and rather than being courteous and offering him a glass of water, they told him he was not allowed on the plane because they were concerned that he had Mad Alpaca Disease.
“What tripe,” Our Lady of Billing said, “there is no such thing as Mad Alpaca Disease, he just has a cold.” Our Lady began to bark in a way that really was not very lady-like. Before long, both the alpaca and the dog had been dumped outside the airport by security.
“What are we going to do?” Our Lady of Billing asked. “I don’t want dear Aunt Laah to have Christmas all alone with that dreadful Count Pugnacious. He will just spend the whole day name-dropping, poor Laah really won’t be able to cope.”
“I’m more concerned about how we’re ever going to get home,” the Colonel said. “Maybe the Count will be able to help, he always claims to know everybody.”
“I doubt it,” Billing said, but the Colonel had already taken out his mobile phone and was grumbling about how much the call was going to cost him, as he dialed the number.
“Hello… hello?” Colonel said. “Is that Pugnacious?... hmmm… we’re in a spot of bother… yes, we’re still in the Caribbean... yes, we’re fully aware that Christmas is tomorrow… do you know anyone who could help? Mmm… okay.”
The Colonel put the phone back under his hat and looked despairing. Our Lady of Billing was starting to get really quite upset by the whole scenario, when two mice popped up behind the airport pillar and signaled for the duo to follow. The dog and the alpaca looked at each other but neither could think of a better option, so they followed. All four walked through the airport car park and into the jungle, whereupon the Colonel started looking really rather anxious. Before long they came to a beach.
“Excuse me,” the Colonel said, as one mouse gathered a snorkel and flippers and the other collected a rubber ring, “where are you going? We followed you all the way here, are you just going to leave us?”
Both mice looked at each other and walked towards the alpaca and the dog.
“Please forgive our rudeness,” the mouse with the snorkel said “we’re kind of on the run,”
“What?” Our Lady of Billing said.
“First, let us introduce ourselves,” the snorkel mouse said. “I am Rear Admiral Alexander Seymour but people call me Sandy. This here (he pointed at the other mouse) is F. Dhoff Esq, you can call him Freddie.”
“And you’re on the run?” Our Lady of Billing asked.
“Technically speaking, yes,” Sandy said.
“It wasn’t our fault,” the other mouse interjected. “There was just a slight incident on our gap year.”
“Need we hear more?” Our Lady of Billing asked. “Why did you beckon us over? We’re really having a terrible day.”
“Count Pugnacious told us,” Sandy said.
"Of course it would be that dreadful Count who got us in all this mess,” Our Lady said, “we’re never going to get home for Christmas.”
“It’s okay, aeroplanes aren’t the only way to travel,” Sandy said. “How else are we going to get back to England?” Our Lady asked.
“Water, obviously,” Freddie said.
“Water?” Col. Al Parka exclaimed in horror. “Have you ever seen an alpaca swim?”
“No, but I’ve never seen a reindeer fly and I still know they can,” Freddie said. “Don’t worry, we’re not expecting you to swim back to England. We’ve got a dinghy ready and prepared.”
“A dinghy? This is utter madness,” Our Lady of Billing said. “We will be lucky if we get back by next Christmas.”
Freddie raised his eyes, put two fingers in his mouth and made a loud whistling noise. “Ahhh, please Freddie, what would your mother say?” Our Lady of Billing asked, holding onto her ears. “She’d be delighted, it took her two weeks to teach me…” But Freddie didn’t manage to complete his sentence because the water had started rippling and pulsating, the Colonel looked startled and retreated from the shore, Our Lady of Billing started whimpering.
The ripples became wild and aggressive, suddenly two beautiful women’s heads emerged from the water. “Hello Freddie,” the blonde one said.
“Good afternoon Lilly,” Freddie said, turning a fabulous shade of magenta.
“May I introduce Miss Lilly Flipping and the Hon. Coral Splashmore,” Sandy said.
“And how exactly are two teenage girls going to get us back to England?” Our Lady asked the Colonel, through gritted teeth.
“We’re mermaids,” Lilly said, flipping out of the water and revealing a beautiful sparkling tail.
“We’re over double your age,” Coral said, “we just use great algae-sturiser... Right, are you all ready?”
Sandy was dragging a large dinghy down the beach and Freddie ran off to help him. “Right, on you get,” Sandy said, panting. The dinghy was on the edge of the water and the Colonel tentatively stepped on, followed by Our Lady. A random pink flamingo tried to step on too, but no one knew who he was, so they shooed him away. Freddie swam towards Lilly, who was attaching the dinghy’s rope to her torso. Sandy splashed his way towards Coral, his flippers flying all over the place.
“Be careful Sandy,” Coral said, laughing.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to take the rope?” Sandy asked, looking at the one she’d already attached to her midriff.
Coral laughed, “you know that mermaids are quicker and stronger than mice?” Sandy looked a bit put out, but Coral stroked his arm with her tail and he instantly perked up.
“Are we going?” Our Lady of Billing asked. Instantly the dinghy started to move, the two mermaids steamed ahead and the mice only just managed to grab onto the rope. If you’ve never seen a mermaid swim, I’ve got to tell you – they are fast. After a few hours on the Mermaid Express, the Colonel was slumped in a corner looking positively green... The two mice were sitting on the edge of the boat, chatting away to their mermaid friends and Our Lady was standing on her tip paws, “is that it? Is that England?”
“Yes,” Sandy said.
“Thank goodness,” the Colonel said.
As they pulled up on dry land the alpaca was the first off the boat, huffing and puffing. The dog followed, then the mice. “Please all stay with us for Christmas?” the Colonel asked. “We’d love to,” they said. The mermaids walked out of the water, yes they walked. Their flippers had turned to legs but that wasn’t the only part of them that had changed, they now looked their age, which must have been at least 110. Our Lady felt much better and not quite so desperate to run out and purchase algaesturiser.
“Aunt Laah,” Our Lady shouted, as the Moose and the Pug walked along the sand towards them.
“You made it,” Aunt Laah said, embracing her friend, “you managed to get home for Christmas.”
And that was how it happened, that an alpaca, a Jack Russell, a Pug, a moose, two mice and two mermaids had Christmas together. And what a Christmas it was. Just as they were sitting down to a delicious roast, Our Lady of Billing spotted the pink flamingo out the window. She pointed him out to the Colonel, who got up, opened the door and let him in.