And now onto the next chapter in Doctor When’s Adventurous Time Adventures! I’m quite pleased because I finally worked out the final trajectory, and I know how it ends now. But you don’t, HA!
The merpeople seemed to be taunting them, swimming just within reach to grab or yank some floating appendage or piece of clothing before swirling off again. For the humans, of course, fighting underwater was proving difficult. Even Wilburforce, usually so efficacious with his fists, was finding it hard to land a solid blow quickly or powerfully. Doctor When’s rapier cut the water with its keen edge, but it too was hampered by the slowing effect of the seawater.
After some minutes of struggling to acquit themselves well in the situation, the Doctor’s voice came through their submarinopulminators, ‘I think popfizz best we make a hasty retreat. Pop-geborg isn’t fizz anymore.’
Relieved, the others followed her lead and swam warily back the way they had come. The merpeople followed, raking exposed skin with sharp chitinous claws when the opportunity presented itself. A trail of red blood hanging in their wake soon marked their passage.
‘Ah, I think we poppop go even more hasty,’ the Chrononaut remarked, eyes fixed upon distant shapes growing nearer and more defined. Whereas the merpeople had merely moved shark-like, these shadows were the real thing, drawn to the scent of blood in the water.
The merpeople noticed the threat at the same time, and turned with predatory hissing to face the large carnivores. Suddnely the water was roiling with fins and teeth, a sheer smorgasbord of marine violence.
In the commotion, the humans managed to drift near enough to the Time Machine, perched on a bed of nearby coral, to board its periosphere. Or rather, to attempt to – for the hatch was refusing to open. And the fight between merpeople and sharks was getting more frenetic and, more importantly, closer to where they floated.
‘You fizzfizz bloody Time Machine!’ the Doctor swore. ‘If you let us in popfizz I vow that once this is over you can have fizz a proper go at doing me in!’ Immediately, the wheeled mechanism spun in her hands and they pulled themselves inside.
As the hatch shut, waves of pinkened water crept through the closing gap. The periosphere drained of water with the throwing of a lever, and soon Doctor When was removing her submarinopulminator.
‘Well that was bracing,’ she said, wringing out her lace cuffs. ‘On to the next, shall we?’
Back within the main body of the Time Machine, the bedraggled toughs were not feeling nearly as tough as they had when this chronological adventure had begun.
‘So how much further will we be travelling in time before we find this Ingeborg?’ Vermacelli asked, rubbing the spot on her scalp where her hair had been pulled.
‘Yeah,’ agreed her sister. ‘Cannelloni has a point.’
‘Thank you, Tortellini,’ Vermacelli-now-Cannelloni nodded curtly.
‘You’re very welcome,’ Rigatoni-now-Tortellini returned the gesture.
Doctor When watched their exchange with patience, and replied, ‘As long as it takes.’
‘Ahem,’ Wilburforce cleared his throat politely, getting the attention of the three formidable women. ‘And how will be know when we’ve found it/him/her?’
‘Oh, we’ll know,’ the Doctor proclaimed darkly. Then she turned back to her dials and before they knew it they were hurtling through time-space once more.
I’ll let you in on my shameful little secret. It’s terrible, and please don’t judge me harshly, but:
I have to use Wikipedia’s List of Pasta Varieties to decide the interchangeable names for the Spaghetti Sisters. There’s just no way I can remember that many different kinds of semolina-based noodle product on demand.
And now you know.