4: Churpo Fwap…Skippy Shwupah Oppoe (Chapter Four…Saving Officer Skippy)
Dulp awoke from his own snoring. He sat up and held his head, that old familiar feeling of a hoochover striking him once again.
“Oooooh, what the…” he began, but then he remembered Skippy.
He looked around for the ugly little gob, but he was nowhere to be found. Skippy’s belongings were still where he’d left them, but then Dulp noticed that Skippy’s sketchbook and charcoals were gone.
“Hurr…Must be off drawing something,” said Dulp groggily.
He yawned, scratched his right side, and then wearily stood to wipe the crust from his eyes. He kicked aside his empty bottle of hooch and wandered toward the door.
He was going to have to use the murder hole later, but that could wait. He needed to keep some track of Skippy, or the Chief would come down on him.
He peered through the slat window of the north wall and saw motion outside.
“Ugh…Skippy…” he said, but his mouth felt too dry to follow up with anymore spoken thoughts.
He opened the door to his hutch and shielded his eyes from the late-day light. When his vision returned to him, he realized that it was not Skippy that was standing outside his hutch, but every gob in Pingo, all together, all standing like an angry mob with arms crossed, waiting to take him apart or something.
“What the—?” he started to say.
“Shut yer yap, you pea-brain!” yelled the Chief.
The Chief was standing at the front of the mob, arms crossed, a dour look of righteous rage upon his wrinkled, one-eyed face.
“What?” asked Dulp in real confusion.
“URG!” yelled the Chief. “You know what!”
But this time, Dulp did not know what. This time, he had no idea what the Chief was angry at.
His only response was to shrug. The Chief took this as an insult and shouted in Dulp’s face, as the crusty old gob was wont to do.
“Skippy’s gone missing, moss-for-brains!” yelled the Chief.
“What?” asked Dulp. “But he was just here…”
One look around told Dulp that it was close to Eating Time, and Skippy was definitely not in the mob surrounding Dulp’s residential hutch.
“Tell this idiot, Fancy,” grunted the Chief.
Fancy shook his head and stepped forward to address Dulp.
“Last time I saw him…” shrugged the eccentric gob, “he was headed for the South Quarter.”
Dulp’s dark eyes widened as the realization of what Fancy had just said sank in.
“He wouldn’t…” began Dulp.
But then he realized that Skippy would, in fact, go into the South Quarter on his own. The ugly little gob was one of the White Skulls, and they weren’t afraid of nothin’. Not to mention that the little gob’s sketchbook and charcoals were missing. That was damning evidence in and of itself.
“Oooooh, crud,” frowned Dulp.
The Chief glared at Dulp, shook his old head in obvious disgust, and then clapped his hands together in some kind of mental finality.
“Alright, boys!” yelled the crusty old gob. “Looks like it’s Rush Time again!”
The entire community let out one single groan and then turned their collective angry gazes upon Dulp. Yep, they weren’t going to let him live this one down.
“Let’s all head to the trinket hutch!” yelled the Chief. “You are to grab a trinket, head on over to the South Quarter, find Skippy, grab him or grab what’s left of him, and make your escape back to the Square. That’s where we’ll all meet!”
“Do we have to?” asked Murt, a little gob that, in particular, Dulp found whiney most of the time. “Can’t Dulp just go in and get him?”
“That’s not how it works, Murt,” frowned the Chief. “We all gotta go in so that we at least have a chance of finding the poor bastage.”
The whole crowd groaned and stamped their feet in clear discontent.
“You suck, Dulp!” yelled someone from the back of the crowd, probably Grendo, who hated Dulp anyway.
“Eat rotten dill, Dulp!” called out someone from the middle of the crowd, probably Bok, who also hated Dulp anyway.
“I hope a bear eats you!” yelled a gob from the front of the crowd, definitely Gimmie, who was, in general, just a jerk, and who, coincidentally, also hated Dulp anyway.
“Everybody, clear out!” yelled the Chief. “There’ll be time to yell at Dulp later! Right now, everyone, head over to the trinket hutch, grab a trinket, and head to the South Quarter!…Except for Fancy and Burto. You two stay here…For the rest of you, it’s buy one, get one, boys! May the Great Gob watch over you all!”
The crowd dispersed, but not before a number of unhappy threats were thrown Dulp’s way, those threats mostly involving Dulp’s dill and walnuts and mostly involving destroying them in some terrible way.
Dulp was left standing there with the Chief, Fancy, and Burto, none of whom looked particularly happy.
“I don’t see why I have to go,” mumbled Fancy.
“Because you’re the only one the bogos won’t maim,” frowned the Chief. “Your job is to look for Skippy, Fancy. The others are just distractions and fodder for the bogos. I’m counting on you for the rescue, because Skippy is our only shot of getting something better than what those Bloody Eye pigs have to offer.”
“Ooooo,” said Fancy with wide, interested eyes. “What kind of offer are we talking about, Chiefy?”
“Better everything,” grunted the Chief. “Better food, better supplies, better clothes…”
“I’m in,” grinned Fancy.
“Good,” frowned the Chief. “Now get going. I already know you don’t need a trinket, so that should give you a head start… And don’t call me Chiefy.”
“On my way, Chiefy!” said Fancy excitedly.
He skipped off toward the South Quarter as the Chief glared at the eccentric gob’s departure.
The old gob turned his attention toward Dulp’s best friend, Burto.
“You and dillwit, there, have to run defense,” nodded the Chief.
“What!” spat Burto. “This isn’t my fault!”
“I don’t care who’s fault it is!” yelled the Chief. “You’ve got to distract Xenon while bear-scat, here, distracts Lyga! With those two out of the way, we can nab Skippy! Otherwise, we’re in the deep pox if we lose him. If the Bloody Eye finds out he’s here—which they probably will—then they’ll use us as practice dummies…I need Skippy back here in one…uhhh…mostly one piece so that the plan can continue unhitched.”
“Plan?” asked Burto. “What plan?”
“The plan to get us all made!” yelled the Chief. “Now shut up, go with numnuts, here, to the trinket hutch, grab a trinket, and get your bums to the South Quarter!”
“Ugh…Whatever…” scowled Burto. “Thanks a lot, Dulp.”
Dulp gave him a weak smile and shrugged. He didn’t really have any encouraging words for his friend, because nightfall was coming, so this was truly going to suck.
Dulp took the lead as he snuck through the hutch reeds in the South Quarter, Burto close behind.
They had all missed Eating Time, and the sun had set, so they were both hungry and relying on their night vision, two things neither one of them wanted to put up with at the moment.
Skippy’s Field Notes #20:
The goblins of Pingo are well-accustomed to daylight, unlike their darker, unhappier cousins of the Underearth. All goblins have night vision, the ability to see in the dark, but the goblins of the surface world have long since adjusted to the sun and its luminescent, cheesy goodness.
From what I’ve learned from the residents here, surface-world goblins prefer natural light to the dank, fungal luminescence of the Underearth, and they see it as a step backwards to have to rely on their ancestral night vision. They do rely on this particular quirk, of course, when enacting out raids, but in general, they use torches, candles, lamps, and lanterns at night to get around.
They also have a keen sense of smell, but only when detecting poison, really foul food, really good food, chickens, and of course, the stench of bears, their natural predator. Dulp swears that this particular trait can be used to detect bogos, though I’m not sure what the female of the species smells like, if anything. When questioned about the scent of bogos, Dulp simply replied, “Each one smells different, usually like something pleasantly terrible, like sugar, spice, and everything mixed with the aura of despair.”
Dulp waved off a couple of other gobs nearing the hutch he and Burto were going to inspect. Those gobs were Wappa and Jeans, and they put up no argument whatsoever about finding somewhere else to look. No one wanted to be in the South Quarter during Rush Time, and they sure as Heckens didn’t want to be here during a Double Rush Time, and this was the first Double Rush Time that Dulp could remember, probably in the whole history of the village.
“What’s the plan?” whispered Burto.
“Plan?” asked Dulp in slight irritation. “What plan? I thought you had a plan!”
“Me!” asked Burto in slightly-more irritation. “This is your fault!”
Dulp frowned and turned to address his slightly-more irritated comrade.
“Look,” he said unhappily, “I can’t help it if Skippy’s got a bug up his bum for the bo—”
But he never got to complete that sentence before all Heckens broke loose.
Gimmie, the biggest jerk in the village, burst from the hutch door that Dulp and Burto were hiding next to, or rather, the door blew off its hinges with Gimmie still attached to the other side, the wooden construction sliding forward a bit through the mud.
Lights flared up all over the South Quarter. Lanterns lit everywhere as if on cue, though Dulp had no idea how this feat was accomplished with such smooth synchronicity.
Gimmie stared up at Dulp and Burto with wide, terrified eyes.
“IT’S A TRAP!” he screeched right before he was taken away.
A large, muscular black arm reached forward and nabbed the poor jerk by his checkered knickers. Dulp’s own eyes went wide as he recognized Tall Sally’s large hand, for she was the only black bogo in the village.
Poor, jerk-weed Gimmie screamed as he was pulled back into the darkness of Tall Sally’s hutch. The door went with him and was pulled up from the ground to click back into place as if it had never been knocked off its hinges.
Dulp also wondered how this amazing feat was accomplished, but his wondering was put on hiatus due to a sense of both urgency and a fear for his own life.
He turned toward Burto so they could hightail it. Skippy was on his own as far as he was concerned.
“Burto, retrea—” he began, but then he realized his “friend” was nowhere to be seen. “Burto?…Burto?…Aww, to Heckens with this!”
He took off running. The bogos couldn’t catch him if he could outdistance the other gobs.
But the lights in the South Quarter confused him, and Dulp quickly realized he was going the wrong way. He was going deeper into no gob’s land.
He zigged and zagged around gobs desperately trying to outrun chasing bogos. It was madness, pure chaos, and his heart raced out of control as his feet moved for him.
But he skidded to a halt at the terrible sight in front of him.
Before him was little Murt, all tied up, hanging upside down from a rope, that rope tied around Murt’s waist, that rope also tied to the top of a large wooden pole, the poor little gob shrieking to beat the band.
Two bogos in bright blue and yellow dresses, twin bogos that Dulp was unfortunately familiar with—mainly because of their reputation—were busy whacking Murt back and forth with reed sticks, hard river reeds tied together to form makeshift poles, and the two demonic females were singing a little song as they tortured him:
He’s so dinky,
Smack him in his
“Thwack his throat,
And whack his wick!
Make him squeal
Until he’s sick!”
They took turns whacking him with the poles, all to the rhythm of their own sadistic little song.
It occurred to Dulp that these two little sadists had sung something other than “throat” and “wick”; they had actually sung similar words that rhymed with “throat” and “wick,” but his brain censored those words for the sake of his own sanity.
Dulp couldn’t help but feel sorry for Murt; the whiney little gob had that effect on pretty much everyone. Murt’s title was indeed “Binky,” adding even more sympathy toward the currently tortured gob, but Dulp wasn’t about to risk his own skin rescuing him.
The two sadistic bogos turned toward Dulp with lascivious grins, and Dulp finally remembered their names, Jojo and Jojo. For some stupid reason, they both had the same name, but that really wasn’t his concern right now. His only concern was leaving Murt to his fate and getting the Heckens out of there.
Skippy’s Field Notes #21:
Twins are quite rare within goblins, mainly because bogos are only pregnant for four-and-a-half months, about half the time of any other race. Therefore, the natural need to produce more offspring in one go is suppressed by a higher-than-average birthrate coupled with a low mortality rate amongst the unusually hearty goblings and goblets.
When twins are born, they are more commonly found in bogos and are considered trouble of the highest order. There is only one set of twins in Pingo Village, the bogo sisters, Polly and Anna, though they go by their nicknames “Jojo” and “Jojo,” respectively. I’ve heard many things about them, and none of it is good. Knowing the gobs of the village, however, the warnings about their reputations are most definitely an exaggeration.
Incidentally, researching the twins has led me to a fascinating discovery. Apparently, bogos, in general, have their own secret language called “Bogese.” Fancy has instructed me on some of the words, and this includes the twins’ nicknames, but it appears that “Jojo” simply means “twin sister” in Bogese, though it appears that the gobs of the village have mistaken these nicknames for their actual names, and I have not corrected them.
Disappointing discovery. After perusing and exploring the South Quarter, it turns out that bogos do indeed wear clothes. In fact, one such bogo named Curly Shirley loves to create and wear fancy dresses that would sell for quite a bit in Hafenstadt. I’ve heard she even likes to dress up Murt in skirts and dresses and have a sort of “teatime” with him, but all attempts to get Murt to describe this activity only result in the minute gob turning a distinct pale color and then vomiting profusely.
Dulp turned to run, but he cried out as he was struck in the backs of both knees by two reed sticks at once. He fell to his hands and knees to the mud beneath him and cried out again as he was whacked twice more upon his exposed bottom.
Dulp wanted to get back up to a standing position, but he could only cry out as he was whacked several more times upon his bum, a WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! in timed procession.
“Quit that!” came a dainty voice in front of him. “Are you two crazy!”
Dulp looked up to see the pink frills and white lace of Curly Shirley’s dress. The bogo looked unbearably cute with her short black curls and painted red lips, and in her left arm was one of those creepy, lifelike, human dolls that Dulp had heard so much about.
“Do you know who this is?” asked Shirley, but Dulp could tell that she was not talking to him. “This is Dulp, you idiots! Do you want your berries picked? Lyga will rip your nips and wear them as a bracelet!”
“Awww…” came the duo of twin voices from behind Dulp.
“Now cut down Binky,” frowned Shirley. “It’s time for he and I to play teatime. And give me his trinket. He’s mine.”
“What are we supposed to do?” asked one of the twins.
“Go find another gob, dummy,” said Shirley. “They’re like lice. They’re all over the place right now…You’d better hurry, too. Allie said she was going to be ‘extra busy’ tonight.”
“She’s always stealing our gobs,” said one of the twins. “I don’t know why we’re friends with her.”
“Let’s steal one from her,” grinned the other twin. “She’s always got plenty.”
“Mmmm, hmmm,” said the first twin. “That sounds like fun!”
“Good,” smiled Shirley. “Now cut down Binky. I want teatime. Miss Schöne Prinzessin is waiting for her tea.”
There was a snapping noise followed by a loud thud followed by a squeal from Murt. Curly Shirley walked past Dulp’s field of vision, and then she walked back in front of him whilst dragging poor Murt through the mud via his tied rope.
“Dulp, help me!” cried Murt.
“Time for tea, Binky,” giggled Shirley.
Dulp stared in helpless horror as tiny Murt was dragged off by the insane bogo.
“Duuuulp!” screeched Murt. “DUUUUULP!”
Dulp shook his head no.
“Sorry, Murt,” he said quietly. “Better you than me.”
“Darn you, Duuuulp!” screeched Murt. “Darn you to HeckEEEEENS!”
Dulp was roughly grabbed underneath each arm and helped to his feet. He turned to stare with wide eyes into the grinning faces of both Jojos.
“Lyga wants to see you,” said both girls at the same time.
“Like Heckens, she—” cried Dulp, but he was quickly silenced due to crippling pain.
Both sisters punched him in the crotch, first the sister on his left, then the sister on his right. He bent over as he squealed from the pain, and then the sadistic twins quickly dragged him toward a nearby hutch.
The two bogos sang in unison as they forcibly moved him toward a destination that he had no desire to reach:
Puddin’ in pie,
Left his friend,
and made him cry.
“When the bogos
Came to play,
“Lyga’s gonna make butter out of your walnuts,” grinned the sister on his right.
“She’s gonna pickle your dill,” grinned the sister on his left.
“She’s gonna burnish your bum,” giggled the sister on his right.
“She’s gonna twang your wang,” giggled the sister on his left.
“You godless gutter monkeys!” cried Dulp. “You sick, sadistic, little—”
The sister on his left spun him toward her and smacked him hard across his left cheek with her right hand. Dulp spun around from the force of the blow and was immediately smacked by the other sister. He spun around again, was smacked, spun around one more time, and was smacked yet again.
This smacking, spinning fest left him dizzy and disoriented, so much so that he could not get enough of his bearings to defend himself.
“That’ll learn ya!” said both Jojos at once.
The door to a hutch opened in front of Dulp, and then he was tossed inside that hutch to hit the dry planks of a wooden floor. The door slammed shut behind him, and then he heard the distinct sound of a lock falling into place.
“This hutch has a lock?” he gasped. “That means…”
He turned to stare up into the wicked grin of Hippolyga, her imposing figure standing right next to the hutch door.
She was beautiful even by human standards, Pingo’s unofficial Helen of Troy. She had perfect, unblemished, olive-green skin, long, silky black hair, a beautiful face with a button nose and sultry lips, full breasts, and an hourglass body to die for, that body held together with a tone of athletic muscle that gave her beauty an air of deadliness.
She was wearing a long brown dress with white trim along the sleeves and hem, her courting clothes, a good indication that she had known well in advance that a surprise Rush Time was coming, though how she had known, Dulp had no idea.
“Hellooooo, Dulp,” grinned Lyga.
“Aww, crap!” cursed Dulp.
He made it about halfway to his knees, holding up his trinket in defense.
This particular trinket was a copper amulet with an arrow and a bird on it, something he had “acquired” some time ago from a traveling merchant. It had caught his eye back then, and he was hoping it would catch Lyga’s eye as well, a distraction so that he could make a run for it, though he had not known about the locked door when he’d grabbed his trinket defense in the first place.
Lyga snatched the trinket from his right hand and then twisted his right arm behind his back, all in one smooth motion. She forced him to the floor with ease, and he squealed as her teeth bit into his long right ear.
“Mercy! MERCY!” screamed Dulp.
She picked him up by the scruff of his neck with her left hand, picked up the rest of him by his crotch with her right hand, spun him around in the air like a toy wooden bird, and tossed him like so much trash across the expanse of the mostly-empty hutch. He landed with a loud “OOF!” on top of her laid-out bedding, that bedding made from the softest of bearskin fur.
“Great Gob!” cried Dulp.
He rolled over to see Lyga bolt across the room and do an incredibly-impressive forward flip, only to have both of her feet land squarely on his crotch.
“AIIIIEEEEE!” he squealed out in a high-pitched voice.
“You need to be taught a lesson!” said Lyga with a wicked grin.
Dulp held up his hands in poor defense as she reached down for him. She immediately smacked them away as she grabbed him by both ears, one in each hand.
“Time for the X, Dulp!” grinned Lyga. “You’re gonna learn!”
“Not the X!” screeched Dulp in a higher-pitched voice than normal. “Not the X!”
She dragged him by the ears toward a large wooden X in the corner, its purpose entirely a sinister one.
The X consisted of two wooden boards nailed together at their intersections, those boards held up by a particularly sturdy wooden stand. There were leather straps built into the tops and bottoms of the boards, those straps ready to bind Dulp’s wrists and ankles.
“Let’s put you in face-first,” said Lyga matter-of-factly. “Then I’ll get out the paddle.”
Dulp had suffered through more than a taste of that paddle before. That terrible device was made from bound reeds, its head shaped like a miniature oar, and it was extremely effective in what it did, and what it did was not very nice.
“Wait, wait, WAIT!” shrieked Dulp.
“Wait for what?” asked Lyga. “I’ll wait when I’m dead, silly.”
He struggled against her with what little might he had left, but he was already winded from her previous abuse, so he was strapped onto the boards against his will, his backside facing her sadistic presence.
“Can’t we talk about this?” whined Dulp as he tried to turn his head to look back at her. “We can talk about this, right? Please?”
“Please?” asked Lyga in facetious surprise. “Since when have you ever said, ‘Please’?…You know what? Forget talk. I’m charged up and ready to go. Let’s just get straight to the fun.”
She pulled down his patchwork pants so that his bare bum was exposed.
“No, no, no, no, no, no…” babbled Dulp.
“Love is in the air, Dulp,” said Lyga.
She smacked her own hand with that reed paddle Dulp hated so much.
“Love is in the air,” she repeated.
Dulp squealed as the paddle cracked out its first line of thunder.
Dulp limped/dragged himself into the North Quarter Square. It appeared that every other gob had made it back, though none of them were in good shape. Dulp was especially beat up, especially in places he didn’t wish to think about.
“I’m touched that everyone went to the South Quarter to look for me,” came Skippy’s lilting voice, “but there was really no need. I was perfectly fine in there. The bogos were quite hospitable.”
The crowd parted for Dulp as he limped forward toward the source of his pain. Skippy was standing in-between the Chief and Fancy, and he looked untouched, no bruises or broken bones to show.
Dulp really wanted to kill the little gob for this fiasco, but he wasn’t brave enough to face down a White Skull. Besides, if Skippy really was “perfectly fine” after entering the South Quarter, then Dulp was no match for him anyway.
Skippy looked over at him, smiled, and nodded.
“Ah, Dulp!” said the little gob in excitement. “I had the most wonderful time!”
Dulp wondered exactly what Skippy’s definition of a “wonderful time” really was.
Skippy’s Field Notes #22:
Oh, where do I begin! What an adventure I have had! As soon as I had entered the South Quarter, I was greeted by bogos of every nature imaginable. Bogos on my left, bogos on my right, more bogos than I could possibly crave…err…study in one go.
First, they surrounded me as I introduced myself, title included. They then pressed in on me and began to slowly strip me of my gear and clothes until I was completely naked. As I mentioned in the previous field note, the bogos of Pingo do where clothes, but this certainly did not stop them from depriving me of mine.
They laughed in mirth after that, dancing around me and calling me “Ahopo Dingo”, or “Little Soldier,” sometimes referring to me as “Supuza Boppa,” or “Bite-Sized.” This was obviously a reference to my naturally muscular physique in accordance with my small stature, always a wonderful surprise to ladies everywhere.
I was then guided by the hand by a particularly lovely bogo with long, straight black hair and strange, piercing dark eyes that gleamed with a reddish tint. She was wearing a dark dress with a blood-red hem, a raven’s-skull necklace, and wooden clogs instead of bearstrips, and she held a twisted oakwood staff in her other hand, that staff topped by the skull of a groundhog.
She led me across the grounds, the rest of the bogos an entourage in tow, and we soon came to a large bathing tub in the shape of a huge black cauldron. The bogos then filled the tub with water, an arduous process that normally took quite some time but was shortened by the sheer number of females pitching in for the job. They heated the water with ample firewood and a roaring fire, and then I was gently led up and into the water by my lovely chaperone in black.
I soaked in the tub as the bogos of Pingo dropped in various soothing herbs and vegetables, including but not limited to: onions, carrots, turnips, celery, basil, and bay leaves. My lovely guide then proceeded to take a large scrub brush and brush a number of wonderfully-smelling, tingling spices into my bare skin. She then sang into my ear, calling me “Choho Loopa,” or “Little Morsel,” in the Gob tongue. I hummed the lovely melody back in reply, for I knew this was an initiation ritual of the highest order, as they had accepted me as one of their own.
Ah, what a time I would have had if only Fancy hadn’t arrived! He spoke with the bogos at a distance, but unfortunately, I could not tell what their conversation encompassed. Whatever had occurred between them is unknown, but after this lengthy conversation, Fancy came and led me out of the tub and returned my gear and clothes to me, then we left the South Quarter together.
This was indeed a disappointment in my studies, but I shall definitely return soon!
Incidentally, the bathwater did not go to waste. I watched in fascination as the bogos dumped a load of old, used undergarments into the tub. They easily converted the tub into a washtub, something simple but amazing to my scholarly eyes. They obviously waste nothing, confirming my theory that the beautiful bogo is nothing if not efficient!
“Finally back, eh?” said the Chief with one raised eyebrow, that eyebrow over his good eye. “Go get some rest, Dulp. You look like bear scat. Grab some stew out of the Lesser Cauldron. Skippy and Fancy hauled that back from the South Quarter. The bogos were making something in the Great Cauldron before we started our Rush. We’re just lucky Old Matron Bogo is allowing us to eat tonight, and Lyga didn’t complain, so you must have done something right…A miracle, if you ask me.”
Dulp sighed and looked over at the Lesser Cauldron. The large, black-iron pot was strung up between two wooden poles over a nice fire, its contents bubbling and wafting forth a tasty, culinary scent that attacked Dulp’s senses and stoked his hunger pangs.
Whatever the bogos had made, it sure smelled good. The night may have been a disaster, but at least they had stew.
Goblins in the Mist: Chapter Four Copyright © 2022 Matthew L. Marlott