Friday 11 February 2011

Friday Flash - Uncharted Territory

Sir Charles Fotheringay-Smythe stood in the study at Whittingdale House. His team fussed over the piles of crampons, sleeping rolls and surveying equipment that lay around the room. Portraits of Sir Charles’ ancestors watched the mild panic from the walls.

“You there! Jones! How are the preparations coming along? We don’t have much time!” he barked, pointing at a young man in safari wear.

“They’re doing well, Sir. Don’t worry, we won’t be long now,” replied Jones.

“Splendid, splendid!”

Sir Charles marched around the room, hands clasped behind his back. He peered over shoulders and prodded knapsacks on his tour of the study. Satisfied with the progress of his team, he paused in front of the large portrait of his father. The painting hung opposite the door, dominating the room. Severe eyes hid beneath bushy eyebrows, and a handlebar moustache disguised a cruel sneer. The famous explorer posed on a beach, surrounded by the natives of the island he once discovered.

“I will do the family proud, Papa. You may have my word,” muttered Sir Charles.

“Sir? Sir? I think we’re ready.”

Sir Charles turned around to face his team. None of his father’s band of explorers wanted anything to do with Sir Charles, a man they claimed could not discover his own lavatory. Instead, he’d hired enthusiastic youths from the nearest village. The farmhands and shop boys would do nicely. He consulted his pocket watch. It wouldn’t be long.

“Team, I’ve assembled you all here to make ready our expedition into the final frontier!”

“Yorkshire?” asked a buck-toothed lad at the front.

“No, you simpleton. We shall venture into a land that no living man has as yet seen!”

“So Yorkshire then.”

Some of the lads snickered, but fell silent beneath Sir Charles’ withering gaze. At least, Sir Charles liked to think it was his withering gaze, but he knew it was more likely the prospect of the loss of a few shillings that would hush the boys.

“Girl I used to know, she said one day man would go to the moon. All the way up into the sky! Is that right, Sir Charles? Are we going to the moon?” asked a blond youth at the back.

“Don’t be silly, man was never intended to leave solid ground. No, we shall be crossing the Styx to explore the land beyond!”

“What land is beyond some sticks? Is that the county on the other side of the woods?” asked the buck-toothed lad.

Sir Charles rolled his eyes, regretting his choice of that particular youth. Time was running out and he wanted to explain his plan first. He flicked open the pocket watch again.

“No. We shan’t be travelling to Yorkshire, or the next county. Instead, we shall venture across the river Styx, to chart the land of the dead!” boomed Sir Charles. He rocked back on his heels, a satisfied smirk on his ruddy face.

“How will we do that, Sir?” asked Jones.

“Well, we will have to die first, but once that necessity is out of the way, we shall journey into the land of the dead and make our discoveries! We may encounter any manner of things, but I propose that we shall be the first to do so with a firm agenda!”

“I don’t want no part of that. I’ve got to milk the cows tomorrow, my dad’ll kill me if I’m dead,” said the blond youth.

“Unfortunately, you have little choice in the matter any longer. I dispensed a slow-acting poison into your refreshments earlier, so that we may all go together. We don’t want to get to the other side and be separated,” replied Sir Charles.

“Sir, I do have one question,” said Jones.

“Very well.” Sir Charles consulted the pocket watch again. Only a few moments more.

“How are we going to come back to tell everyone what we’ve found?” asked Jones.

Sir Charles’ face fell.

“Oh. I hadn’t thought of-”

* * *



ChloƩ P. Kovac said...

Bet you won't have that fancy pocket watch with you on the other side either, Fotheringay-Smythe.

Sam said...

Haha! No wonder none of his father's explorer chums would have anything to do with him, the man's barking mad. There are some lovely touches of humour in this too, "My Dad'll kill me if I'm dead," has got to be my favourite. Of course now I have all sorts of visions swimming round my head of what happens when they arrive at their destination.

Anonymous said...

Laughs all round in this one with deft touches of humour. My favourite was "a man they claimed could not discover his own lavatory." And the last moments so well captured.
Adam B @revhappiness

Tony Noland said...

Ha! Excellent work. I could hear the voices perfectly.

And how many explorers have perished because they forgot about the return trip?

Emma Newman said...

Loved this - made me laugh out loud - and want to record it :o)

I knew this was going to be great from the first line; anyone with a name like that has such potential...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Icy, I needed a laugh like this today. What a hoot! The only thing this pompous prat has discovered is the extent of his own stupidity. Great flash.

Anonymous said...

What an idiot he is (Sir Charles) ... so funny and well done.

BTW,when you said the portraits were watching, you made me think of Harry Potter and I wondered what universe this was in.

Thanks for some very nice humor. I needed that.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Chloe - Unless you believe Patrick Swayze, and it turns out you CAN take it with you.

Sam - Writing the thick village boys was more fun than writing Sir Charles! You never know, maybe I'll write about their expedition.

Adam - Just wanted to do something silly.

Tony - No one ever thinks these things through properly!! Well, some do, but they're the only ones we hear about.

Emma - Making up names for stuffy old aristocrats is my favourite way to pass the time.

David - Glad you liked it!

Janet - I just always feel like paintings are watching me. They're creepy.

Chuck Allen said...

A very fun read. I guess he's not quite the explorer that his dad was, eh?

Anonymous said...

Excellent piece. Laughed out loud. Loved the “So Yorkshire then.”
Very different from last week's. conscious effort? Much credit, Icy.

Anonymous said...

I loved this! It was like Edgar Rice Burroughs meets Monty Python. Nice work!

Jim Bronyaur said...

Great voice in this Icy! I could "hear" every character speaking. And the line about his Dad killing him if he's dead cracked me up!

Harry said...

Hahaha! I wasn't expecting this to take a humorous turn, even though I got my first grin at, "a man they claimed could not discover his own lavatory"

Funny Icy!

Anonymous said...

"My dad'll kill me if I'm dead" - HA! That, the whole story, had me rolling Icy. This is such fun!

Susan said...

Ha! Well done! Like the others I laughed out loud at the bit about his Dad killing him. Really good pace and flow, witty and creative. Awesome.

Mari said...

Ha. A fine explorer indeed! I bet his father will receive him with a spank on the other side, lol.

John Wiswell said...

I enjoy that crisped, slightly older-world dialogue. I also support puns, like whatever land is beyond some sticks. Ha!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Chuck - Nah, I think his dad would be VERY disappointed.

ibc4 - Yeah, it's a different tone, but just the story I wanted to tell. :-)

mgideon - Thanks!

Jim - I'm actually going to record this, accents and all!

Harry - Just fancied giving people a giggle!

Deanna - I once heard someone say that, I forget why, and I always vowed I would use it!

Susan - Thank you!

Mari - Hahaha, he'll be in trouble alright!

John - I don't often use puns, but that one seemed to 'stick'.

Cat Russell said...

Oh my! I guess he didn't quite think of *everything*; did he? *snort*

John Xero said...

Heh, really enjoyed this. Simple idea but very strongly written and deftly handled in the execution. (pun unintended...)

Of course... depending on which kind of afterlife they're destined for they may end up in quite different places on the other side...

Steve Green said...

Hehe! Now there is a thoroughly unplanned plan, Nice one Icy.

It's probably a good thing he wasn't heading for Yorkshire anyway, I live in Yorkshire, and we already have more than our fair share of hopelessly lost explorers. :D

Virginia Moffatt said...

That was fun...It's always the lack of planning every detail that let's you down!

Larry Kollar said...

OOOOOOPS!!! Well, I suppose the chaps are off to a good start. Too bad we won't learn about their adventures until we cross that dark river ourselves. Or you write us a sequel....

Loved this!

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

How do you think up this stuff? SO funny! "My dad'll kill me if I'm dead." LOL!!!!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Catherine - No, he's a bit rubbish!

John - Thank you! There is potentially a sequel in the works.

Steve - Scary thing is, I bet some explorers ARE that unprepared.

Virginia - They do say the devil is in the details!

FAR - I might do just that, you know.

Cathy - I am mad. >.<

Anonymous said...

The ending was great, made me laugh. Best plans are those well made, or not in this case.

dan powell said...

Love the ending. What a numpty. Nice sense of period too.

Stephen said...

It's always those sticky details that trip you up, isn't it? A perfect ending for this one, Icy. I enjoyed it with a healthy laugh at your inept explorer.

Rachel Blackbirdsong said...

I love this and I love hearing you read it. Poor Sir Charles, but what can you expect from a man who can't find his bathroom. Well poor expedition mates, really.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I loved it. Great story this week, Icy.

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