"A Ship to a Far Sea" - Ronald Potter
I have recently received some pages from a new thriller to be published next year by Puffin Books. I'm talking of Ronald Potter's ongoing "A Ship to a Far Sea" saga, of course. The indefinitely long trilogy of books began with the transvestite novel "Tratchenbute/Tratchenbuta", continued with the failed sequel "I Just Want to Be With You Tratchenbute", and is finally (possibly) concluding with "A Ship to a Far Sea", said by insiders to be Ronald Potter's Masterpiece. I'll let you decide for yourselves with this sample of chapters...
[The opening chapters.]
"The scuds are comin’! The scuds are comin’!" The cry arose from one of the uglier shipmates and panic set in. The cry resounded about the ship as crates were lifted treble speed, animals grunted, hustle and bustle, the levering mechanics of the ship cranes levered.
Along the harbour line, minding his own, Tratchenbute, our humble yet unwitting hero, walked. When suddenly he sprung into such tremendous action as was never before witnessed on the harbour line. "The Scuds were comin’!" Where? There were no scuds at this time of night. Tratchenbute knew that very well – he used to be one. The Scuds, the city police force, would only leave at night if the moon shone full in the sky and the cock crewed, angel-like, along the seashore. Then he realised... they must mean him. After all, he had just come back from a Scud reunion at the Scud Union and was wearing his old gear, kitted out in harness, belt, quiver of arrows, and finally, his bow, resting on his shoulders. Tonight he wasn’t just Tratchenbute, ex-Scud, now hustler, he was Tratchenbute the Archer, scourge of the Villains of Neopolis! Nostaligia kicked in... he could relive the glory years, forget his new job of entertaining city officials in the nitty gritty, be a hero once more! Unbuttoning his blazer, he began to run, faster and faster, until he reached the docking, by now nearly complete. The scene ahead was a few angry looking muscly blokes in string vests with only harpoon guns for support. "Easy," thought Tratchenbute. He unslung his bow, nestled an arrow carefully in the arrow nestling ground and fired one off into the string vesters as a warning shot.
"Careful, you could have killed one of us!" one of them shouted.
"Strange," thought Tratchenbute. "That was the plan!"
He pulled another arrow and sent it whistling into the gang. This time he struck gold! A burly looking fat bloke hit the deck. His jellybelly hit the ground and rippled out as he screamed his last scream.
This was war then!
The others then began to launch harpoons at the threatening Tratchenbute, missing every time.
"Stop! Stop!" This was not Tratchenbute’s cry. He was prepared to dodge until the muscley ones grew tired, and then hit them straight in the in-outs and haul them all down to Scud HQ. This cry instead came from the ship’s deck.
"Stop! Stop! Don’t harm him!" Not likely, Tratchenbute thought. He could dodge and while away the time for an age. But it intrigued him as to who could be saving his neck like, for he had few friends in all the world except Marta the Pepper Seller, a blind old woman who would give anyone the time of day or night.
"He must come aboard clean and unscathed!" This really began to get Tratchenbute interested. He hadn’t heard anything about a ship and even less about an army of muscle guarding it.
"Net him!" He hadn’t expected that! No sooner than he heard the cry was a net surrounding him. He then saw a shovel and thud and crunch and darkness...
He awoke aboard the "SS Gibralter", at least that’s what the guard guarding him said. He was semi-naked in a cell and felt as if he had been buggered to kingdom come while he was asleep. He couldn’t sit down and so knelt.
"Where am I?"
"The SS Gibralter. Now keep quiet!" The guard eyed him curiously. Tratchenbute had a feeling he had unknowingly been a little more intimate with this guard that he would have liked.
"This isn’t a naval vessel! Where am I?"
The guard turned, angry like, and faced Tratchenbute. "If I hear another peep out of you... I’m going to... go and get the captain!"
"Yes. That’s what I want. To see the captain! Get him for me!"
The guard looked shocked as if he hadn’t expected him to disobey. "Right. That’s it. I’m getting Captain Octopool, and you’re not going to like it. And to teach you a lesson..."
The guard raised another shovel and brought it clambering down on the head of Tratchenbute.
[Some more chapters.]
"...So there we were. Me and the crew," Tratchenbute yelled. "There was young Arthur, and Jimmy, and Oscillator the Causicaaan, Byron the Pervert, Aethos the inappropriately named, Bernard the Whistler, Archibald the ship’s boy, the first mate Klangtang, the Captain, and me... Tratchenbute the Archer. We were so happy."
He indeed looked so happy as the sun set and the ship undocked and they sailed into a halcyon sunset with the little boat being tugged behind.
"Ready for more adventures?" the shipsboy asked Tratchenbute.
"I certainly am, Archibald. I can’t wait! Let’s go!"
And with that, they went ready for another adventure in this indefinitely long series of books.