The Captain and the Rats
Author's notes: A few pointers: 1/ I SWEAR the Mouse Trap
aired on TV exactly one week AFTER I had written this story.
2/ Apologies in advance for the anachronisms and lack of contextual
integrity. 3/ The following four scenes would have taken place on
board the Indy before she set sail for war. 4/ Enjoy!!
Pellew takes a massive undignified tumble, his pants split
bottom, he grazes his elbows and knees, and his hat goes skirting
across the deck. Everyone witnesses this happen and bite their
tongues severely in order not to laugh. Pellew lands at Styles' feet
so naturally Styles has to help him up. "Whowho put this thing
here?!" splutters Pellew.
"It's the equipment the Pest Controller brought in, Sir" says Styles.
"Aye aye Sir, to get rid of rats and other vermin lurkin'
There's a health inspection coming up, y'know."
"Ah so?" asks Pellew, and then he remembers. According
Occupational Health and Safety laws all ships must undergo a Health
Inspection to ensure they meet the strictest standards of hygiene.
The British Health Department recommended that all ships instigate a
Pest Controller to get rid of rats, which is a common problem.
Then Pellew is angry the Pest Controller left his belongings
someone could trip over them like Pellew did. "Where is he? Where
is he?" Pellew demands. "There he is!" shouts Styles, and points to a
short, olive-green clad man wearing glasses and a shiny red helmet.
"Ah, Captain my Captain!" says the man and comes
rushing over to
greet Pellew. "I zee you have seen my fab-u-lis equipment, no?" he
says in a Spanish accent.
Pellew shudders with xenophobia. He hates accents.
The man in the olive green suit introduces himself as Con.
He gives Pellew a demonstration without asking him first.
He turns the machine on and as he does so the entire crew,
Pellew, cover their ears with their hands. It is as loud as an
"Zis" yells Don Con over the noise while turning
a switch "releases
poisonous gases to kill ze rat. You should cover your mouth with your
hands it is strong enough to kill a man."
Pellew didn't hear a word he said but as the pungent fumes
his nostrils he instinctively presses his face into his palms to
block the smell.
"And zen zis" says Don Con, reversing the switch
"sucks ze rat into
ze container." As the machine is now functioning as a massive vacuum
it sucks everything in sight books, bolts, coinage and whatever
loose objects are on deck get sucked straight through the nozzle Don
Con is waving around. Pellew's arm gets caught in the line of suction
and he has to practically throw himself on deck to prevent his arm
from being torn off.
By the time Don Con finishes his demo Pellew is read faced
furious. "See to it that you get this job done as quickly as possible
and out of my sight" Pellew says in a white heat, and walks off.
Pellew is confidentially conferring with the other officers
top-secret attack they are planning to launch on the French. The
attack is known as "Operation Bluebottle."
"The Yoplait lies here, here, here and here" says
to the enemy French frigate. "You three will go disguised as women.
Mr Kennedy, you will approach the French Captain and ask him for
assistance with carrying your luggage. When he is distracted that is
when you launch the attack."
While giving these instructions Pellew is frequently interrupted
the noise of the pest-repellent machine coming from above deck. The
noise is drowning out what he is trying to say. Whenever the noise
ceases for a brief moment Pellew resumes giving out his instructions
in a rapid-fire manner.
"We have some women -"
"We have some women's clothes -"
Blast! Blast! Blast!
"We have some women's clothes stored below deck. We also have some -"
"Some blonde wigs and some bonnets. Mr Simpson, you will -"
"You will watch Mr Kennedy's back. Fire -"
Blast! Blast! Blast!
"You will fire the first shot as -"
"As soon as the Captain turns to attend to Mr "
"Mr Kennedy. Is that understood?"
This last explosion of spray from the machine is louder and
deadly than the others; it sends glass and debris flying everywhere
and the officers can distinctly hear crew men above deck howling in
pain. They can also hear Styles in the background shouting "look what
you've bloody well done!!!"
Pellew rushes above deck to see what all the commotion is about.
God! Poor Devils" says Pellew, and his eye twitches at the sight of
men who have been blinded by the spray.
"He..he gave no warning!" splutters Matthews, who
injury, while raising an accusing finger at Don Con.
"I said move out of my way" says Don Con non-apologetically.
should teach your men to tread more carefully."
So Pellew, biting his tongue, summons the remaining crew and
them to be careful.
The next day, numerous men are injured by the chords and wires
have been strewn across the deck by Don Con. He claims he is laying
the foundation for a powerful explosive that will release toxic fumes
and kill all rats once and for all. In the morning three men trip
over wires on the poop deck and suffer numerous fractures. By midday
another is electrocuted while climbing the rigging in the rain in
order to loosen the sails. Soon there are wires not only above deck
but in the cabins as well. One morning Pellew awakes to find a thick,
black wire running under his nose.
"Don't move" says Don Con "or you will release ze explozive."
"But this is preposterous" says Pellew.
"Do not talk either or you will surely set it off"
snaps Don Con.
Pellew obeys and lies very still and quiet.
Don Con keeps his back turned to Pellew while he fumbles around
the corner with shiny silver devices.
After four pain-staking hours Don Con mutters in frustration
says "Zis will not do. I must find another place to zet zis up" and
he casually removes the wire from under Pellew's nose.
"Thenthen I am free to go?" asks Pellew, and groans
submissive tone of his question.
Pellew is thoroughly enjoying a very good dinner despite the
incessant noise coming from above deck. It's the first time in six
weeks he has sat down to a meal of fresh beef, roasted vegetables,
crusty toasty bread and a fine bottle of red wine. The dinner is also
attended by the other midshipman, including Mr Simpson.
"When will that Don Con stop?" asks Simpson angrily.
"Every night he
wakes me and the whole damn ship with that machine of his."
"All in good time, all in good time" promises Pellew,
although he too
is getting fed up with the situation. Then he adds "but if we do not
get our ship free of vermin and pass the hygiene test we shan't be
granted permission to sail for war."
Hornblower agrees with Simpson and also with Pellew, but for
of not ruffling any feathers he keeps his mouth shut.
"Besides" says Pellew, trying to look on the bright
things, "it's nice to get our ship spick and span before she sails,
don't you think?"
As soon as he says this Don Con comes charging into the dining
and covers the entire food with toxic pink fumes with one blast of
his machine. Pellew sits, mortified, as he watches the food being
destroyed. Then Don Con turns his nozzle into Pellew's direction and
dives under his chair, practically tipping Pellew onto the floor. "I
must kill ze rat, I must kill ze rat, I must kill it!" shrieks Don
"Are you mad?!!" cries Archie, and tries to salvage
little food is left by taking it out of the room, but to no avail.
The lavish dinner they were supposed to enjoy for that one night is
Pellew has had enough.
"GET OFF MY SHIP!!!!" he screams. When Don Con refuses
Pellew screams again and adds a long list of very explicit
Don Con refuses a second time, but to his surprise finds himself
Clayton and Hornblower aim their pistol at him, Pellew aims
rifle, and Simpson threatens with a dagger.
Don Con screams in terror and runs for his life with the dinner
up in arms pursuing him. He jumps off the boat planning to swim away,
but as he jumps the wire of the machine gets tangled around his
ankles and it drags him down to the sea like a heavy anchor, slowly,
slowly, never to be seen again.
"Got you, bastard" says Clayton.