Our Christmas spectacular, Honest Tommy: Curse of the Infernal Euphonia, will be winging its way to Amazon Kindle soon, and to get you into the festive spirit we present another exclusive excerpt from the upcoming story. Stuck in the doldrums while Captain Dashworth and the other cosmonauts of Britain yuk it up in London, Commander Gwen seeks adventure while avoiding Ensign Benson’s over-excited preparations for the big day, all to the smell of roasting wufflump.
The galley was sizzling as Gwen approached, and the air lingered with an annoyingly merry humming. As she opened the door, the sound skipped out and wrapped itself around her like a big and highly impractical scarf. Benson was hunched over the oven, decked out in a bright red apron with white trim, and a festive hat that looked like an old sock. Pots steamed all around him as the festive ensign danced between them, lathering plates in strange pastes and chopping unctuous-looking vegetables with happy abandon. Everything smelled of fat and spice, with a sweetness that was laced into every syllable of his tune, which sounded suspiciously like another of his many home-made carols.
“Tum-te-tum, a little bunkin seasoning here—turn the wufflump just so, can’t have it getting burned!—oops, almost forgot the goppleberry sauce—”
“Ensign,” Gwen barked, and the lad whipped around in a flash to salute his commanding officer, catapulting a glob of thick blue sauce from his ladle. “Why can I smell an overpowering aroma of sweltering meat?”
“That’ll be the suckling braised brump, Commander,” he chirped, dashing to the cabinet to wipe up the sticky blue mess and fling it into a pot. “Good afternoon and merry Christmas Eve!”
“Merry—yes, fine. Good afternoon. This looks like one of those horrific captain’s dinners where the brass stuffed themselves silly.” Gwen once peeked through the piping aboard her old freighter to observe one of the ludicrous get-togethers. Commander Brame had to excuse himself to the lavatory several times, and afterwards the dining table looked as if a giganticated gombaslug had exploded over it.
Benson had gone starry-eyed again. “Oh, I’d have loved to have been to a Navy dinner,” he sighed.
“Not when you have to scoop up all the wufflump grease slopping through the slats in the upper deck.” Visions of crusted residue congealing between the deck planks filled Gwen’s mind, and put her right off a plump bulb of groof sitting invitingly on Benson’s sideboard, as possibly the only appetising ingredient in his culinary disaster area.
“That’s the best bit,” he said, with a voice tinier than his pride.
It was at times like this Gwen wondered how Benson managed to survive the universe. He’d been plucked from obscurity on Vorgak 3 by Dashworth, and had insinuated himself aboard the Jolly Good like a worm who wouldn’t stop crawling over one’s begonias. Fortunately for him, the native Vorgak sporganisms had only briefly returned to their homeworld to get blown up by a freak series of coincidences, so the most the pitiful little man had to contend with was not spilling tea on his own uniform.
“Come on, it’s almost Christmas,” she burst, about to chuck Benson on the arm before realising she’d probably snap it. “I want at least one proper adventure before the year’s out.”
“I sucked all the solomite from the dorsal turbine yesterday,” the ensign reported. “That was pretty riveting.”
A small lump of pity rose in Gwen’s throat, much like bile, and she remembered exactly how Benson managed to survive the universe: by cheerfully whistling loudly enough to drown out all of the unsettling noises. “We’ve been in the doldrums for ages. I can’t even get to the ship’s wheel for all the tinsel.”
“I was feeling very festive, sir.”
“Yes, well I’m sure burned sprouts remind you of home, but I want some fun. The rampaging berserkers can’t all have gone home for Christmas.” She peered out of the steamed-up porthole, spying the fuzzy haze of the Mucklebean nebula twinkling away. “There’s a celestial alignment due—that’ll shake up a Vendra Storm or two, surely?”
She knew of course that the Rampaging Berserkers of Bloth were either dead or on the other side of the Vortex engaging in their favourite holiday pastime—synchronised group dancing with sticks and bells, which she wanted absolutely no part of. She also knew that Vendra Storms were among the rarest and most terrifying deadly wonders of the mostly empty universe, and she’d already met one this year. Still, she considered, what’s life without a little hope?