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The Great Shnark. Ch 8. The Sploth

by  Shnarkle

Posted: Thursday, July 30, 2009
Word Count: 3866
Summary: Having agreed to aid the Splith in their struggle with the Sploth, the company are aboard a transporter flying towards the battle site.

The Sploth

“Will you sit still?” said the Shnark testily as the spider huffed and puffed in her seat.
“I can’t get comfortable.” she moaned, “These stupid seats were never meant for spiders.”
“That’s probably because there aren’t any hideous giant spiders on Tharg.” drawled the Shnark.
“Oh yes, very helpful I’m sure.” spat the spider as she turned over and over on her bench seat, getting her legs in such a knot that Bob had to come to the rescue and untie them. “I’ve had enough of this.”
The spider stood up (with Bob’s help) and started spinning a web between the back of two sets of seats.
“Tch, she is such a show off.” muttered the Shnark; but in a matter of moments the spider had spun a very comfortable silk hammock between the seats, swung herself up into it and settled down for a snooze.
A little while later she was fast asleep, with deep regular breaths and the occasional mumble of, “Mmm, flies.” coming from the depths of the web.
Grimpleblik sat back thoughtfully; “Can you imagine the chaos at the local shoe shop on the last day of the school holidays if spiders wore shoes?” he mused.
“Or went to school.” offered Bob helpfully.
“It’d be: Yes, Mrs. Webb, that’s a pair of size 4’s, two pairs of size 5’s and a pair of size 5 and a half. That’ll be 15 squillion Shnack please, cash or card? You’d only have to work for the last week of each school holiday, then spend the rest of the year on a sun lounger on some sun kissed beach somewhere.” Grimpleblik laughed to himself.
“On the sun bed next to him would be the local optician,” agreed Bob, “Can you imagine how many daily contact lenses a spider gets through in a week?”
“If spiders played cricket” mused the Shnark, “they’d have to start putting their pads on the night before the match.”
“And what about lady spiders shaving their legs? How much must they spend on razors?” chortled Grimpleblik.
“And stockings.” added Bob, “They must have enough ladders in a week to climb to the Moon and back.”
“The suspender belt must have more clips than a clippy clip thing on free clip day in a clip factory!” howled Grimpleblik. “It’d take all day just to get the stockings clipped on straight!”
The Shnark suddenly snorted a laugh through his nose; seconds later staring horrified at its contents as it settled itself in a green gooey mess on his chest. “TISSUE!” he shouted through green stringy lips whilst trying not to open his mouth.
“Ugh, Shnarkle!” heaved Grimpleblik as he bent forward and began retching at the sight of the nasal explosion that was the Shnark. Bob was rolling around on the floor hooting, “Shnarkle The Bogeyman; …snot funny is it?!” by now he couldn’t see for the tears of mirth coursing down his cheeks; but his moment of hilarity was curtailed somewhat when the Shnark trod on his head and wiped the green goo away onto Bob’s shirt.
“Yours now I think, laughing boy.” smirked the Shnark as Bob realised he had received the most unpleasant of pass the parcels.
All the shouting and hullabaloo had woken the spider up, and she was now peering over the edge of her web at Bob. “Bob, what on earth have you been up to?” she asked, trying not to laugh.
“It wasn’t me, it was the Shnark, he did it.” complained Bob.
“Snot me.” said the Shnark, laughing.
“Snot anything to do with me either.” laughed Grimpleblik.
“Well, snot very nice.” giggled the spider.
“Snot fair!” shouted Bob, “I’m going to the loo!”
Some while later Bob came back from the bathroom, having cleaned up his shirt, and elected to sit on the seats under the spider’s web. With the spider leaning over the edge of her web at a most precarious angle they proceeded to whisper and giggle together for the rest of the flight.
It was just after noon when the transporter landed. At ten thousand metres above the Splith’s temporary camp near the battlefield the plane came to a sudden halt. The Shnark and his companions exchanged worried glances for a nano-second before the transporter plummeted to the ground like a stone.
“AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHH!” screamed the Shnark digging his fingers so hard into the armrests that he made holes in them.
“GGGGGGGGGAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!” screamed Grimpleblik digging his heels into the floor so hard that he made dents in the fuselage.
“BLAAAAAAAAGH!” screamed Bob as he hit the ceiling because he forgot to put his seatbelt on and the speed of descent catapulted him upwards.
“MMMWWWWAAAAAARRRRRRRRR!” screamed the spider because everyone else was screaming.
Suddenly the transporter came to a dead stop two metres from the ground, landing legs pistoned out from its sides, and a step ladder eased itself slowly to the ground.
“Smooth landing.” nodded the Shnark nonchalantly whilst at the same time trying to extricate his fingers from the innards of the armrests so that he could wipe away the sweat that was pouring down his face.
The company disembarked and stood in a grassy clearing in the middle of a u-shaped arrangement of temporary buildings. There were different sized, single storey, white pod-like constructions spread over an area of about 200 metres. A Splith emerged from a small building at one end of the u and began walking towards them.
“Are you the boss around here?” asked the Shnark pointing at the Splith, who, having been forewarned about the Shnark’s habit of forgetting his powers, just managed to duck in time as a brilliant blue bolt of lightning fizzed past his head, singeing his hood, and exploded against the wall of the building he had just left, reducing it to a pile of dust, and revealing six very startled looking Splith sitting around a table discussing how to deal with the Sploth.
“Sorry,” muttered the Shnark, “I keep forgetting.”
“Welcome, I think, to the Splith forward planning base in their struggle against the dreaded Sploth.” breathed the Splith with the number 3546543 across his forehead. “I understand that you have come to aid us in our time of need; is it your intention to scare the Sploth away with that hideously ugly creature?” he asked, pointing at the spider.
“Yes, thank you, I’m sure.” grumbled the spider.
“Well, actually that’s not a bad idea at all because she is indeed horrifically ugly; but no, we have other means to kick Johnny Sploth up the backside and send him home crying.” said the Shnark trying his hardest not to laugh.
“I shall spiflicate you, Shnark.” moaned the spider as Bob put a reassuring arm on her shoulder and told her to ignore the horrible comments.
“Well, where are these Sploth then?” said the Shnark looking around in a businesslike manner, “we’ve got things to do, people to see, places to go and all that malarkey.”
“Come, they are on the hillside facing the sea; there are many thousand of them, and they are preparing to advance upon us. It is but a short walk away.” Replied the Splith as he crossed the grassy clearing and began leading the company through longer grass towards a low line of hills.
Once at the foot of the hills the company could see a large number of yellowish jelly baby like creatures milling across the hillside. They were about a metre in height and wobbled when they walked.
“Right,” said the Shnark making an action like rolling his sleeves up, “leave this to me.”
The Shnark raised his hands in the air towards the creatures and splayed his fingers. Suddenly a fearsome lightning storm erupted from the Shnark’s fingers, engulfing scores of the figures with deadly plasma and instantly turning them to puddles of yellowish liquid.
“No, no what are you doing?” cried the Splith. “Those are the Spluth. They’re helping the Splith to fight the Sploth. If you kill the Spluth you aid the Sploth in their attack on the Splith. The Splith and Spluth together might stop the Sploth; but just the Splith without the Spluth will be beaten by the Sploth, and the Sploth will rule both the Splith and the Spluth. The Splith/Spluth pact against the Sploth will be ruined and the Spluth might even join the Sploth so that the Sploth and Spluth both attack the Splith.”
“What?” said the Shnark incredulously, “Well where in Tharg are the flaming Sploth then? How am I supposed to tell Spluth from Sploth?”
“They are on the other side of the hill.” said the Splith through gritted teeth.
“Tch, details, details, details,” grumbled the Shnark as he and his companions began climbing the hill, the Spluth scattering before him in abject terror.
“It’s OK, I’m a friend; small mistake. I’m sure you can boil up some more Spluth from this goo and everything will be as right as a nine Shnack piece before you know it.” called the Shnark to the retreating Spluth as he advanced up the hill. Spreading his hands wide he shouted, “See, no more nasty lightning, all gone, all gone.”
“You don’t have to talk to them like they’re babies you know.” complained the Splith.
“Well they look like jelly babies,” countered the Shnark, “You can’t really take them seriously can you?”
The Splith slapped the number on his forehead with his right palm in consternation, “Can’t take then seriously? You’ve just liquefied a small village worth of Spluth, and you say you can’t take them seriously? Let’s just get on with it shall we; we’re at the top of the hill now and should be able to see the Sploth army?”
As they took the last few steps onto the top of the hill the Sploth army was revealed to them between the hill and the ocean’s edge, ten thousand strong.
“Oo-er.” gasped Grimpleblik, “Do you think we’ve bitten off more than we can chew here Shnarkle?”
“Nonsense!” snorted the Shnark as Bob unsheathed his sword, took off his silk neck scarf and let it waft across the sword blade, neatly parting in two as it passed across the razor sharp blade. Bob planted the sword in the ground in front of him and made to stand menacingly over it, but the sword tip caught a flint as he drove it into the ground, skewed sharply to the left and brought Bob crashing to the ground as he put too much weight on it.
“Careful Bob,” drawled the Shnark, “You could have somebody’s eye out with that.”
“Mufflebuff!” replied Bob incomprehensibly, with a mouthful of turf.
The Shnark cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted to the Sploth army, “Oi, you lot, over here!” As one, the Sploth army looked up suddenly at the stranger hailing them from the hilltop. “I am the Great Shnark, and I’m here to give your leader a good slap. Where is he; show yourself?” “That should do it,” he whispered to Grimpleblik.
“It should certainly make them mad.” agreed Grimpleblik, shivering behind the spider whilst his stomach made some peculiar gurgling noises.
A tall figure emerged from the front line of the Sploth army, flanked by two shorter creatures and advanced to stand in front of the company. The Sploth stood as tall as a man and looked like giant praying mantis’s, slightly creamy green in colour, with drool dripping from their mouthparts, which were constantly on the move as if on the look out for prey.
“Who dares confront the mighty Sploth nation?” croaked the leader menacingly. “I shall squish you like I intend to squish these pathetic Splith. What do you intend to do; set that ugly spider thing on us?”
“Ugly?!” spat the spider, “That’s rich coming from you.”
“Listen, you overgrown greenfly,” growled the Shnark, “I’ve got a can of something in my garden shed that’ll sort you lot out, so watch your lip, or mandible or whatever it is. We are here to stop your little game. You come here armed with puny swords? You don’t know what you’re up against. Let me demonstrate. Show me your fiercest and greatest warrior.”
The mantis to the leader’s right took a step forward and drew his long black scimitar from its scabbard. The sunlight glinted off his polished armour as he stood glowering at the Shnark, itching for a chance to attack.
“Watch.” said the Shnark as he made a show of absently picking his teeth with his index finger whilst slowly turning his pinky to point at the Sploth champion. In the blink of an eye a bolt of crackling lightning left a pile of steaming dust, a redly glowing scimitar and a jumbled pile of armour where the champion had been. “There are five thousand of us on the other side of the hill. D’yer fancy it then peabrain? Well, do yer?!”
“Hmm, I see your point,” said the chief mantis once he had recovered from the shock of seeing his best swordsman vaporised. Over his insect type shoulder he called, “Men, I’ve just had a message,”
“Had a message how?” asked a voice from the ranks of the army.
“By radio?” said the leader hopefully.
“We don’t have a radio.” shouted another voice.
“No, not radio,” stammered the leader, “Erm...”
“Telegram?” someone suggested, less than helpfully.
“No.” said the leader.
“Signal flare?” offered another voice.
“Semaphore?” asked another as giggling began to break out in the front few ranks of the Sploth army.
“No.” replied the leader now beginning to sweat.
“Flashlight?” someone shouted from the middle rank as the laughter began to spread.
“A text message?” howled someone else.
“A burning signal beacon on a hilltop?” screamed another amid howls of hysterical laughter now coming from the Sploth army.
“Yes, a signal beacon.” said the leader in desperation.
“Where?” came a chorus from the army.
“Over there.” said the leader desperately pointing at the nearest hilltop.
“We can’t see it.” complained a voice.
“Well, it’s gone out now with all this mucking about hasn’t it?” shouted the leader, stamping his feet in temper.
“One of those fast burning, smokeless signal beacons, obviously.” offered the Shnark helpfully.
“Anyway.” said the leader turning to fully address the army and raising four of his legs in the air for quiet. “I’ve had a message that we’ve got to go home because our tea is ready; it’s on the table and it’s going to get cold.”
“What is for tea?” shouted a voice.
“Blackfly and beetle pie.” answered the leader. “Now come on, about turn; we’ve got to be off.” And with that the defeated Sploth army turned around and marched back into the sea. As the last rank of the army disappeared beneath the waves a small voice was heard to say,
“I don’t like blackfly and beetle pie, it makes me sick."
“Well that’s that sorted out good and proper.” said the Shnark dusting his hands together, “That’s the easiest ten million Shnack I’ve ever made.”
“What is that noise?” queried Bob as he sheathed his sword, completely missing the neck of the scabbard and stabbing the side of his hand, causing a river of blood to flow across his palm.
“It’s my stomach,” grumbled Grimpleblik miserably as the spider gently wove a silk bandage around Bob’s wounded hand. “It’s been upset since we had that awful capsule for dinner last night. I really don’t see how they can just eat those all the time instead of proper food.”
“Lightweight.” muttered the Shnark as he started down the hill behind the Splith; the congregation of Spluth who had come to watch the action scattering from the hilltop in terror in every direction other than towards him.
“It’s OK,” the Shnark shouted at the fleeing Spluth, “It’s all over, no more lightning. I’m a friend. Oh look, that one’s turned round to listen.” said the Shnark, unfortunately pointing at an undecided Spluth and failing miserably to pull his finger away before the streak of electricity converted the hapless Spluth to a puddle. “Damn, damn, damn!” roared the Shnark.
“Will you please stop pointing at people!” shouted the Splith, “At this rate the Spluth will never talk to us again.” and he stomped off down the hill.
Back at camp, the Splith had invited the company into one of the larger buildings which served as a refectory, for some refreshments.
They were gathered around a large table whilst the Splith busied himself in front of a number of machines. He placed five small pots from a refrigerator onto a tray and moving to the table, gave each of the company a pot with a large capsule in; returning to the machines to gather up a number of bottles of water to wash the capsules down with.
Finally they were all seated with capsules and water in front of them. Before anyone could speak Grimpleblik’s stomach rumbled like a peal of thunder. “Oo, I don’t think it’s a very good idea swallowing another one of those capsule things.” he said clutching his stomach.
“Get it down you Captain Lightweight.” teased the Shnark, prompting Grimpleblik to gingerly pick up the capsule from the pot, slip it grudgingly between his lips and swill it down with a mouthful of water from his bottle.
“Well, that was certainly an easy day’s work.” said the Shnark smugly as he settled back in his chair. “They really were a bunch of Nancy’s.”
“It is a pity,” said the Splith haughtily, “that so many Spluth had to be lost as a result of a simple misunderstanding.”
“They’re only jelly babies Splithy, don’t worry about it.” assured the Shnark.
“They are people.” insisted the Splith sniffily.
“Look, I’m always biting the heads off jelly babies, it’s not as if they feel anything.” argued the Shnark.
“You bite the heads off Spluth?!” screamed the Splith in dismay and horror.
“No, not the Spluth you idiot, jelly babies!” shouted the Shnark. “The damned Spluth aren’t even different colours or flavours, they’re all just yellow ones, and I can’t stand yellow ones. And anyway, don’t keep banging on about how many I turned to goo; it couldn’t have been more than an economy family bagful at most. If you’re so concerned just scrape up the goo and put it in the goo machine and seconds later you’ll have brand new reconstituted Spluth! If you add a bit of colour and flavour I might even be tempted to bite a few of their heads off before I go!”
The table was now in pandemonium; the Shnark was on his feet shouting at the Splith and trying his hardest not to point at him, Bob and the spider were rolling around in their seats laughing hysterically at the Shnark’s temper tantrum and the Splith was banging his fists on the table screaming,” This is absolutely intolerable, you, you, evil Spluth eater!”
The background rumble of Grimpleblik’s stomach was beginning to drown out the shouting as he eased forward out of his chair to reach his water bottle. Suddenly the pressure building up inside his gut reached critical level and he let fly with an enormous bottom burp. Unfortunately, due to his special powers the bottom burp emerged as a very smelly and incredibly noisy sheet of emerald green flame, which immediately charred his chair to a cinder. With nothing to support him Grimpleblik fell crashing to the ground, catching his chin on the edge of the table on the way down.
In the deathly silence following the explosion everyone was staring open mouthed at the smoking ashes that used to be the chair, as Grimpleblik raised his hands, grabbed the table lip and tried to lever himself up. The internal pressure of the effort was way, way too much, and as Grimpleblik just managed to raise his bottom into the air he let out another huge blow off; this time the screeching wall of flame streaked across the room and incinerated the bank of refrigerators lining the far wall.
“Everybody out, everybody out!” screamed the Shnark in panic as they all scrambled for the exit before Grimpleblik turned his deadly bottom on them. They threw themselves out of the door onto the lawn, with Grimpleblik bringing up the rear, still holding his stomach. As he stumbled down the steps he tripped and landed heavily on his hands and knees, firing a truly incendiary guff at the refectory, reducing it to smouldering embers within seconds.
The company were lying in total disarray on the lawn as Grimpleblik opened his eyes to see one of the spider’s legs in front of him. He swallowed hard, and then let out a little burp, burning the spider’s leg completely free of hairs. “Gaaaaahhhhh!” screamed the spider, “You blithering idiot!”
The Splith was laying face down banging his fists and kicking his feet on the ground. “What have you done, what have you done?!” he screamed in apoplexy, “You maniacs are more dangerous and have done more damage than the Sploth! Get out of my sight, go on, get on the blasted transporter and GO!!”
“Come on guys, we know when we’re not wanted.” said the Shnark getting to his feet and dusting himself down. “Let’s leave this pathetic ingrate and get back on the plane.”
As they passed the prone Splith the Shnark stepped over him, accidentally on purpose kicking him in the ribs. “Terribly sorry, I’m sure, bonehead.” said the Shnark, leaving the writhing and fuming Splith behind. “That’s one heck of a weapon you’ve got there.” he said to Grimpleblik,” If you could fart at will I’d be tempted to ask you to fart that Splith to ashes.”
“Normally I’d be willing to try Shnarkle,” replied Grimpleblik, “But with the state of my stomach at the moment I’m frightened that I’d follow through, and we wouldn’t want that would we?”
“No we wouldn’t!” the entire company chorused together.
Arriving at the transporter the Shnark turned to Grimpleblik. “Grimple, there is no way we’re letting you on the transporter with the state your bottom’s in; you’ll fry us to a crisp in mid air. I’m going to have a word with the pilot.”
Some while later the company were settled on the transporter flying back to Splith City. The Shnark was relaxing back into his seat; the spider had spun her web between two rows of seats and was sitting comfortably, leaning over the edge of her web and talking to Bob, who had taken a seat beneath her web. Grimpleblik, on the other hand was not at all happy. He was very firmly secured by straps and webbing in the cargo bay, with his bottom wedged tightly through the open cargo door. An observer on the ground who happened to look up at the sound of the plane would have seen a tiny white dot at the end of a white vapour trail, with the occasional burst of green flame that propelled the dot forward at immense speed; indeed breaking the all time Splith record for a flight from the coast to Splith City.