As Crow flew through the night toward OBOD Towers, his thoughts were on one thing – well, two things actually. First he wondered if the Salmon of Wisdom could shed any light on this apparent case of spy vs. spy, and secondly he wondered how he could possibly bring this interminable Pub Crawl to an end before it careened completely out of control.
But then, with his destination in sight, Crow’s world exploded. The old bird was struck solidly by a hurtling hunk of halibut, and he was knocked out of control and crashed to the ground, a handy bunch of bulrushes breaking his fall. Crow looked up and saw that it was raining fish. There were perch parts; flounder fragments; salmon segments (none of them looking particularly wise); bluefish bits; and ling lumps. There were pieces of fish that Crow could not even identify, much less try to match them with an alliterative noun.
But Crow was nowhere near as dumb as most people thought, and it didn’t take him long to think that Agent 00N – Moon Cloud – was responsible for this. This much fish could only have come from the fishmonger Selene’s warehouse; Agent 00N must have blown the place up!
The old reporter checked to see that he was shaken but uninjured, and he was just about to take flight again toward the docks and Selene’s warehouse when suddenly he heard screams from the direction of OBOD Towers. From out of the night came Damh, running in that curious spraddle-legged gait he’d adopted ever since that starching accident at the laundry. And even more curious was the fact that Damh was pushing a pram, or some conveyance that looked like a pram, because it held a large aquarium and in it splashed The Salmon of Wisdom. Damh did not see Crow sitting there, and ran past as fast as he could, shouting, “Run! Run! Run” to anyone who would listen.
That’s odd, thought Crow, watching as Damh and the Salmon disappeared again into the night.
But just then he heard more screams, and here came Selene (who had taken time to throw on a robe) leading Green Druid in her black bikini, both of them running at a pace that would put any Olympic sprinter to shame. “Run! Run! Run!” they both shouted at the top of their lungs to anyone who would listen.
Pixie Fay then zoomed past, her wings beating at a mile-a-minute pace. “Run!” she squeaked breathlessly.
Next appeared a larger group, consisting of Dair Ciúin, Pobble, Kat Lady, Merlyn and Dryadia, along with Lady Nimue and Lorraine, each of whom held Phlipp Phlopp by one elbow, helping him to run along as quickly as his rock-hard codpiece would allow. All of them were wide-eyed and screaming, “Run! Run! Run!”
Crow could no longer take the suspense; he held up one wing to halt the last struggling trio. “What’s going on here? What are you all running from?” he asked.
“Ye Gods, don’t just sit there! Ruuuuuuuuuun!” shouted Phlipp in reply.
“Why? What is it?”
“It’s the Great Stag in the Heat of the Chase! Ruuuuuuun!” shouted Phlipp again. Lorraine and Lady Nimue shrieked loudly for effect, and the trio continued then their lumbering pace in the same direction the others had gone.
Crow heard more screams, shouts and sirens coming from the night, and then he heard a thundering of hooves, and looking up, he saw a stag that was bigger than a house, and it was thundering down the street toward him. The stag stopped, his eyes gleaming red in the glare of a streetlamp. He stamped once and snorted, his breath steaming in the cold night air, his antlers glistening in the moonlight.
“Nice rack,” whispered Crow to no one. But then fear took over and Crow flew as fast as he could in the direction the others had gone. He heard the clattering of hooves racing behind him.
Up ahead he saw that the others had arrived at the docks and the smoking ruins of Selene’s fishmonger warehouse. And then, just as quickly as they had run past before, he saw that the others were running back toward him now, fresh terror in their eyes.
“Ruuuuun!” shouted Damh again, the water whitecapping out of the aquarium pram as he turned and ran in a new direction. “The Great Bear of the Starry Heavens is come! Ruuuuuuuun!”
Looking up, Crow saw him then, a bruin no less large than the stag, but bulkier and even more powerful, and as he emerged from the star field, it was clear that he came with a bad attitude.
But as they all turned around to flee in the other direction, the stag suddenly arrived and the group was hemmed in; nothing was left but to await their fate.
“Fear not!” intoned the Salmon of Wisdom. “We are all here to help!”
Breathless and wild-eyed, no one knew what to do. Finally Crow stepped foward.
“One question,” said Crow. “Why are you no bigger than an ordinary salmon, but the Stag and the Bear are bigger than houses?”
“Because I have read this entire Pub Crawl and there is very little wisdom here,” said the Salmon of Wisdom. “And besides that, have you seen the price of hazelnuts these days?”
“Can’t anybody shed some light on what’s going on here?” said Pobble, who had been curiously silent, but was now eyeing the stag with professional interest.
“She can,” said the Salmon of Wisdom.
And then, looking up the friends saw light approaching from the east, streaking toward them faster than a shooting star. It was the Hawk of Dawn, and she arrived with a hurricane of wind as she beat her giant wings and landed on the dock, which groaned with the weight of the three elemental entities and the one smaller Salmon of Wisdom.
“I will explain everything, said the Hawk of Dawn.
“Oh thank the gods,” said Lorraine. “Tell us, quickly please!”
“I already have it figured out!” said Crow. “Moon Cloud is a special agent, Agent 00N, and she blew up the warehouse to destroy any evidence that Tony Blair is involved in illegal overfishing of cod in order to build the fish-meal-fertilizer business!”
“Correct!” replied the Hawk of Dawn. “Except for one thing: Moon Cloud is innocent, she’s just a laundry-delivery cloud.”
“I could have told you that,” said Dryadia, glaring at Crow. “She’s my best employee, has been for years!”
“But, but, but,” stammered Crow. “She stole the picture!”
“Gosh, even clouds make mistakes once in awhile,” said a blushing Moon Cloud, now materializing from out of the smoke over the smoldering wreckage of the warehouse.
Just then Seeker arrived, and he muscled past the Great Bear of the Starry Heavens to stand center stage. “Not true! FUCP has been tracking Moon Cloud for years. She is a special agent assigned to Tony Blair, I’m telling you!”
“That is what they wanted you to think!” replied the Hawk of Dawn. “But you sorry FUCPers were wrong! Moon Cloud has been an innocent victim in all of this! She was tricked into using her lightning bolts to destroy a computer within this warehouse, and she got a little carried away and destroyed the whole joint, but the computer contained the evidence you sought that would tie Tony Blair to his environmentally unsound practices. Who told you that the computer was evil, Moon Cloud?”
“He did,” replied the cloud, now drifting innocently over the scene.
Everyone looked where she was pointing, and there was a black-robed figure, hiding under a piece of twisted metal from the warehouse.
“Seize him!” shouted the Hawk of Dawn, and the Great Bear of the Starry Heavens, with one swipe of his mighty paw, did just that. The black-robed figure was Midnight Pentacle.
“Remove his disguise!” said the Hawk of Dawn. The Great Stag in the Heat of the Chase stepped forward and with his antler, tore away the black hood and cape.
Selene gasped. “It’s Tony Blair!”
“Take him to a re-education center,” said the Salmon of Wisdom. “Now George will have some company.”
Kat Lady looked around and said, “Is it over now?”
“Yes, it is over,” said the Salmon of Wisdom. “Tell me, what have you all learned?”
As one, they all replied, “Do not create or take part in any future Pub Crawls!”
“You have all grown in wisdom!” answered the Salmon of Wisdom, and with that he suddenly grew to immense proportions, shattering his aquarium and nearly crushing a shrieking Damh.
Together, the Hawk of Dawn, The Great Bear of the Starry Heavens, the Great Stag in the Heat of the Chase and the Salmon of Wisdom linked appendages and exited stage left.
“Whew, I guess it really is over now,” said Lorraine, glancing shyly at Pobble.
“I told you it was a bad idea,” he answered. “Let’s go.”
They all departed then, leaving Crow alone on the dock. He’d write a story, but with all the evidence blown to smithereens, he couldn’t write the story he wanted. It would just be a bland story about an explosion at a fish warehouse, nothing about spies and environmental emergencies.
The Paganzer Prize would once again not be his.
Crow sighed deeply. He knew there was nothing left but to say …
“You can't study the darkness by flooding it with light.” ~ Edward Abbey