Ironing Out the Kinks
As Little John the Cockney ghoul and Yitzy the great snail-footed, two-headed extraterrestrial listened to Ketil the ghost tell his tale at the sumptuous table set out for them by Nyarlathotep, the infamous Organizer of the Outer Gods, Little John suddenly leapt to his feet, dropping the femur from which he had been feasting with a thud upon the table.
“Crikey, Lads, we need to bugger off quick sticks!” the stout ghoul insisted. “I just remembered the secret ingredient for me granddad’s Christmas cookie recipe!”
“And this was reason to break the table?” Ketil inquired. “I always enjoyed a draught of the mulled wine that my paternal grandmother made for the winter festivities, but you do not see me wrecking the furniture when I recall that it contained a hint of quince.”
“That's 'cause, Ketil, ya Daffy Dahn Dilly spook, quince is a common ingredient on Earf. Me granddad's cookies contained essence of the bloomin' peels from the Chuffin' apples of Yuggof.”
“Splendid. So, I suppose we’re off to Yuggoth, then,” Yitzy surmised, raising his pincers to begin creating a gate.
“Not so fast, Yitzy, old Currant Bun. Clock this. Ter create the chuffin' essence from the bloomin' peels is a very time-consumin' process. 'Owever, I kna where we can get a Randolph Scott of the finished essence.”
“I am all for having a Randolph Scott of the finished essence, or at least I would be if I knew why the bloody fuck we needed one,” Ketil sighed. “Please do enlighten me, John.”
“Why, ter make the cookies, of course, Ketil,” Little John said, looking at Ketil as if he wondered how someone so intelligent could be so dense.
“I realize that it is a key ingredient in making the cookies. What good will it do us to make these wondrous cookies?”
“Ketil old chap, chicken pen ya eat these cookies, they activate yer third mince pie ter take just the bleedin' wite paf through the bloomin' Netherworld and the chuffin’ Dreamlands ter reach your Sausage Roll. so, we ought ter be able ter find Robin and Rilpu and the wizard wif that blasted Brenda Lee!”
“I agree that this is a splendid idea, John. However, I have one question. Why did you not mention these cookies before?”
“Ter be quite 'onest wif ya, China Plate, I’d forgotten aw abaht 'em until I spotted that apple from Yuggof there in the fruit bowl. It's amazin' 'a many things ya can forget in the space of a century.”
Arguments in the Dark
“Fair enough. Now, I hope you’re going to tell me that you know a place where we can obtain this Essence of Yuggoth Apples quickly and painlessly.”
“'Eaven and 'ell, it will be quick and painless in the bloomin' buff, as long as we daan't get caught. That wouldn't normally be a problem for ya, I suppose, seein’ as yer a pillar and post and all, but we'll be dealin' wif those as kna eldritch magic. 'Opefully, we can get in and aahhht quick sticks. I'm in a bit of a quandary as ter wot ter do wif Yitzy, though. I daan't wanna leef 'im 'ere Jack Jones, but let's Chevy Chase it, aahhht of aw of us, 'e's the easiest wahn ter Randolph.”
“We are not leaving anyone in this place alone, and on this point, I will not be swayed,” Ketil insisted. “And what of you, Sir Ghoul? I am invisible to most living beings. You, on the other hand, are an Undead canid humanoid which smells like an open casket in the time before embalming was the norm. Do you think your state will not be a bit of an attention-grabber?”
“Not if I’m workin' behind the chuffin' scenes. Anyway, I found this clever gold mask wif which ter Duck and Dive me 'andsome yet ghoulish features. Also, I’ve a diamond idea. If we're spotted, Yitzy can pretend ter be a statue.”
“John, I don’t know when I’ve heard a stupider idea. I believe it was Dean Winchester what said, ‘of all the lame-ass ideas you’ve had, this has to be the lameassiest.’ In any case, this is a terrible idea. I, on the other hand, have a sensible idea. Yitzy can have a visit with Fortune on Uranus.”
“I would like to go with you to retrieve the Apple of Yuggoth essence,” Yitzy protested. “I possess the Interdimensional Carrying Satchel and will place it in there for safekeeping.”
“Yah, and if you are caught, the fuckwits shall remove the satchel from your possession, and then we will not only need to retrieve the Essence of Yuggoth Apple but the satchel. I believe you have been too long in the presence of impulsive fuckwits such as Robin, John, and myself. You and Fortune possess two of the greatest intellects in the Universe and have a companionable bond. I argue that we should contact Fortune forthwith and you will go for a visit with him while John and I fetch the Essence. Where is it that we are going anyway, John?”
“Well, Guv, we’re gonna be headin’ fer the pantry of Anant Mantovani.”
“That pompous cooking show arsehole? I have no tolerance for either him or his cooking. In fairness, I have never tasted his cooking, but my distaste for him leads me to believe that could only give me indigestion. How the fuck does that twat have in his possession Essence of Yuggoth Apple? Does he even know what purpose it serves?”
“Mate, Anant Mantovani is more than just a rich tosser with a cooking show. I don’t know if either of these names mean anything ter you, but ‘e’s the son of Jadhav Mantovani and Edna Anthony, both of whom ‘ave some renown in occult as well as culinary circles. Anant Mantovani ain't gonna bat an mince pie at seein' a ghoul workin' 'round 'is mansion, but 'e might recognize me. I took the bloomin' piss aahhht of 'im on wahn occasion, and 'e's the sort ter 'old a grudge.”
“Well, John, I should certainly enjoy hearing the tale of how you put the claimant to Talos Crystals in his place,” Ketil mused. “However, now is not the time. We need to spring into action. However, before doing so, I say that we should all take a trip to visit Fortune and request that he spill his advice upon us regarding this unfolding drama rather than behaving as our usual obstinate, spontaneous selves. This may prevent embarrassing moments from transpiring.”
“I think that’s a right smashing idear, Ketil,” Little John agreed. “Just one wee quibble. I believe that the word yer seekin’ in this particular instance is ‘bestow’ rather than ‘spill.’”
“Whatever, it matters not,” Ketil declared with a swish of his hand. “Let us be off to visit our feline friend who dwells beneath the surface of the ice giant whose name causes Beavis and Butthead to quiver with mirth.”
“Will we be meeting this Beavis and Butthead, Ketil?” Yitzy inquired.
“They do sound loike merry chaps,” Little John agreed.
“You could say so,” Ketil stated. “However, now is not the time to dive into the murky depths of the sea of pop culture references. To do so would only garble our intent. We must cast our sights on the Uranian lighthouse of Fortune to proceed in our quest to bestow the correct crumble upon the sacred cookie recipe of John’s grand-sire.”
“Does Fortune ‘ave a lighthouse?” Little John inquired. “I don’t recall seein’ one last time we visited his ‘ome.”
“This is a metaphor, John. I sometimes am filled with a sort of existential terror when I realize that I am the least out-of-touch member of our motley crew, and I have been in spirit for twenty-three Earth years.”
“Well, I do know about Mötley Crüe,” Little John retorted. “Bloody good band, them! Rob and I slipped into a few of their shows over the bleedin' Donkey's Ears. Sometimes we even went backstage, although that tended ter be a bit debauched for me likin'. I'm afraid we scared the bloomin' wits aahhht of that chap Nikki back chicken pen 'e was shootin' the smack, as they say. Poor geezer was quite confused. 'E thought that Rob was a goblin, and I was an ogre. We 'elped 'im Frank Bough ter 'is 'otel va va voom before 'e 'ad a chance ter encounter any actual goblins or ogres.”
“Well, there you see, you are the hero the Universe needs. You first save Nikki Sixx, then the entire Cosmos. Come along, let us stop chewing the fat and get to work. Yitzy, if you would be so kind as to open a gate to Fortune’s chambers, that would be splendid.”
“Speakin’ of chewin’ the fat, I’d best grab a chunk of this superbly cured borra and beg fer the road,” Little John declared. “Wouldn’t want it to go to waste, after all.”
“In moments like this I am terribly pleased that I am a ghost and not a ghoul,” Ketil observed.
As Little John, Ketil, and Yitzy emerged from an arc of cool blue light into Fortune’s crystalline chamber, the exuberant ghoul ran to embrace the Cat from Uranus.
“Fortune, old Currant Bun!” Little John greeted. “It’s always a treasure finer’n pearls ter visit you in yer hogamadog!”
“My friends, I am very pleased to see you,” Fortune replied. “But where is Robin?”
“There is no perfect answer to this query,” Ketil responded. “For all we know, he decided to swim to the moon as winter whispers on the fumes of a wickless candle. For although we advised him against it, poor Robin did surrender to the charms of a phantom appearing to be his long-lost love, Betsy. That he would say yes to one he had loved since 1878 comes as no surprise. Despite my reputation, I am not the sort of fellow to discourage such a reunion. However, the type of things oft found within the walls of the House of Lost Dreams leads me to believe that it may not have been Betsy leading Robin down the ever-changing corridors of that blasted property.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Fortune demanded. “Surely you must know that I would have immediately agreed to assist you in your search!”
“Yah, there is no need for a tirrivee,” Ketil countered. “It was quite a muddle taking place in that funhouse. Granted, we ought to have been more prompt, but during our search for Robin and Rilpu, we stumbled upon a splendid feast laid out for us by Nyarlathotep and felt it wise to sit and sup while we assessed the situation. Well, as I was sampling various non-rotting tidbits and Yitzy was imbibing in a goblet of violet vapor, Little John suddenly ceased his snacking on a putrefying femur and near to cracked the table in two in his exuberance to tell us that he had remembered the recipe for his grandsire’s Christmas cookies.”
“My friends, while I intend to assist you, I must confess that I am terribly befuddled,” the Cat from Uranus admitted, his red eyes wide and a puzzled expression on his face. “I would say that we should start at the beginning, but I believe that if we are to have half a hope of rescuing Robin and your new companion Rilpu, we do not have time for that. Thus, I would like each of you to tell me a particular little piece of information that you believe to be vital to the success of our mission. John, you go first.”
“Well, this is a mistake,” Ketil quipped.
Noting John’s glare, the snarky spectre put up his hands as if in surrender.
“But who am I to question the wisdom of a telepathic cat from Uranus?” he inquired. “Fortune must have reason for selecting you first. That said, go, Johnny, go. But do try to be brief.”
“I never 'ad any ovver plan. Wite, guv, the bloomin' reason I wanna collect the chuffin' essence of Yuggof apple from the bleedin' studio venue of Anant Mantovani is so we can make me granddad's special recipe for telepathic trackin' cookies. Once we've snacked on the cookies, we can find Rob and Rilpu and that blasted wizard wif the bloody silver Brenda Lee.”
“Wonderful! Now I have a clear understanding of our mission!” Fortune declared. “Ketil, have you any useful information to add?”
“Only that Anant Mantovani is a crazed cultist and not a mere prat with access to rare and exotic culinary enhancers from outside the Earthly realm,” Ketil explained. “It is our belief that he may have erected mystical barriers in his ostentatious chef’s chateau in the Swiss Alps. We hoped that you might be able to help us identify and circumvent these barriers.”
“It will be my pleasure. Yitzy, will you share your thoughts?”
“I wish to express my displeasure that this pair thought to leave me here in your care as if I were a newly hatched larva,” the towering conical extraterrestrial stated. “I must say that I believe that my contributions to this point have been valuable. I am a trained scientific expert many eons their senior. I do not require a nursery attendant.”
“Yitzy, old fellow, I apologize most sincere-like fer insulting you,” Little John demurred. “It ain't that I fin' ya can't 'andle yourself. It's just that you're a towerin' specimen of otherworldly splendor, and it would be quite difficult ter disguise ya. It ain't loike me 'oo can just put on a mask, or Ketil 'oo can fade into the bloomin' background, ya kna.”
“Understood. However, it is my belief that I will be more useful to you on-site than remaining beneath the surface of Uranus. Fortune, what are your thoughts?”
“As it happens, I agree with all of you,” Fortune explained. “There are mystical barriers as Ketil suggests, but together we will pinpoint their weak areas. Yitzy and I will accompany you. I can create a glamor hiding our true appearances, but we must all do our best to blend into the background, as an adept will be able to see through our disguises. Let us consult the scrying mirror to assess Chef Mantovani’s chateau.”
Fortune poured a dram of heliotrope liquid into a shallow bowl made of teal crystal. He added a small scoop of Uranian blue powder and two white stones, then stirred the lot with a clear crystalline wand while chanting.
A frozen mist rose from the bowl and the group beheld Anant Mantovani’s splendid base of operations.
“Bli-mey!” Little John declared. “That ain’t no mere chateau, it’s a bleedin’ palace!”
“More of a fortress,” Ketil surmised. “Chef Prat needs a place to stow his soldiers, adepts, and groupies. The man is a twat, but his troops are a force to be reckoned with. I suggest that we do our utmost to swoop in and out as shadows in the night and not engage anyone. John, you know the value of this Essence of Yuggoth Apple better than I do. How well is it likely to be guarded, and do you surmise that we’ll find it among his spice collection or in his mystical supplies?”
“I reckon it's pretty 'eaven and 'ell guarded,” Little John replied. “Last I 'eard, a gram of the bloomin' stuff sold for free million Bin Lid, and that was Hammer and Tack in 1918. In fact, I was due ter get a Robin Hood payoff for pilferin' a portion for Granddad, but the influenza struck me daahhhn, and I was undead a Bubble and Squeak mashed potato.”
“Yes, it’s quite a nuisance when that happens,” Ketil commiserated. “Well, now we the Undead must pilfer a bit of the Essence of Yuggoth Apple for our noble cause. The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Beavis and Butthead are the creations of Mike Judge for the eponymous television program.
Dean Winchester is a character created by Eric Kripke for the American television program “Supernatural.”
The Cat from Uranus is a creature created by Sandy Petersen for the Call of Cthulhu RPG. The character Fortune is the intellectual property of Naughty Netherworld Press.
Thanks to the Lovecraft Bestiary for helpful stats for the Cat from Uranus.
The Great Race of Yith is the creation of H.P. Lovecraft, initially appearing in his story “The Shadow Out of Time.” Yitzy is the intellectual property of Naughty Netherworld Press.
Nyarlathotep is the creation of H.P. Lovecraft, initially appearing in his 1920 story of the same name.
In his book “The Heroin Diaries,” Nikki Sixx refers to disturbing hallucinations that he experienced while addicted to heroin.
*The Daily Spur: Spring
*The Daily Spur: Prompt
*Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Body
*Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Fumes
*Go Dog Go Café Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge: As Winter Whispers
Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie: Tale Weaver: Barriers
Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie: Wordle #217
Ice Spill Bestow Obstinate Crumble Lighthouse Murky Garble Drama Quiver Surrender
Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Wordle #218
Doom scrolling- the practice of obsessively checking online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad, such that the feeling of dread from this negative expectation fuels a compulsion to continue looking for updates in a self-perpetuating cycle.
Outside Type Tirrivee-
tantrum Perfect Answer Down
October Spooky Writing Challenge: Undead
Putting my Feet in the Dirt
Ironing out the Kinks
Arguments in the Dark
*Ragtag Daily Prompt: Swish
*Ragtag Daily Prompt: Pearl
Submitted to the Reedsy Prompts challenge on 9 December 2020 for the Write about someone trying to recreate a grandparent’s signature baked good from memory prompt.
Three Things Challenge:
Venue, nothing, often
V.J.’s Challenge: Embarrassing Moments
WEP Writing Challenge for December: Unmasked
*Word of the Day Challenge: Spontaneous
*Word of the Day Challenge: Hogamadog
Words for Wednesday
Half Hope Other
Yeah Write Week 504: Why didn’t you tell me?
The Key of Eidolon is the second book in the Tales from the Dreamlands series. The first book in the series is available on Kindle and LBRY.
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