13: Twilight of the Wombles.
13: Twilight of the Wombles.
The Wombles Nest.
Sitting on an armchair in his private lounge Tobermory held Madam Cholet’s hand in his own.
“It’s all gone wrong my love,” he sighed, “I see it now. I was a fool to think we could ever win.”
Madam Cholet said nothing because Tobermory had shot her through the head five minutes earlier. Now, in this twilight of the wombles, there were only a few loyal SW guards left and the ever faithful Strangewomble. Looking up he caught a glimpse of the figure that stood silently in the corner of the room.
“And you young womble.”
The zombie-cyborg-womble that had once been Orinoco remained mute and passive he’d not been ordered to do anything.
“I expect they’ll put that old fool Bulgaria back in power,” sighed Tobermory toying with the idea of having the ancient womble shot as well. “Oh-well,” sighed Tobermory regretfully as he lifted the pistol to his temple, “nothing left to do except the ‘decent thing’.”
A Loud explosion echoed through the Wombles Nest and the air started to fill with dust.
“What the f…!?!?”
Leading the way through the smoking ruin of the womble’s front door Steph peered through the dust and smoke watching for targets. She had done this sort of thing once or twice before she’d been chosen, so, she’d volunteered to lead the assault. A grey furry shape staggered towards her through the smoke; she shot it twice in the head.
“WOMBLE DOWN!” she yelled as she stepped over the body.
Sitting in his lab Strangewomble/Hasseldorf looked up as he heard the explosion, time to go he thought and chuckled evily. He looked around at his workplace, hmm, he thought, it wouldn’t do to leave all these useful plans to fall into the hands of those forever cursed slayer bitches. Smiling wickedly he wheeled himself over to a cupboard, bending down in his chair he pulled forth a bundle of wires, batteries and a dozen sticks of dynamite all topped off with a large red alarm clock. Winding the clock and setting the timer on the bomb he chuckled once more.
“That’ll spoil the slayers’ day,” he set the bomb on the table in the middle of the room.
He didn’t really expect the bomb to kill the slayers; they were too slippery for that. But it would injure a few and destroy anything that might be of use to them in his lab, he laughed.
“I will return! MAW-HA-HA!”
He morphed into his demon form and disappeared in a puff of vile smelling smoke.
“Oh! Womble! Please-please no!” the womble tried to run; almost without bothering to aim Alice shot it in the back of its head as visions of her injured lover swam before her eyes.
Had there been any wombles who actually wanted to fight back it wouldn’t have been too difficult for them to find the slayers; all they’d have had to do was to follow the trail of dead and dying wombles and right there at the end they would have found Team Slayer.
Rolling a grenade through the open door Lasha stood back and took cover from the explosion. Immediately after the grenade went off she burst into the smoke filled room, wombles and pieces of womble lay bleeding on the floor. A few wombles were still alive and cried piteously that they had only been obeying orders. Lasha shot each one with economical bursts from her MP5.
The air was still a little dusty and the tunnels were badly lit but this didn’t slow the slayers down one bit. At the moment Mrs F had halted her girls at what looked like a major junction to catch their breath. Actually it was mainly so she could catch her breath, she was starting to feel a little too old to be running around with young slayers still in their prime. She was also starting to wonder how she was going to end all this. Okay, she could have her girls execute every womble they came across; but that just didn’t ‘feel’ right.
“I was only making good use of the things that we find,” pleaded the womble as it pawed Steph’s jacket, “things that the every day folk leave behind…”
“I’m sure y’were,” Steph pulled her knife and thrust it into the womble’s belly, the eco-demon groaned and writhed, “make good use o’ that y’furry fucker!”
“Uuugh!” moaned the womble as it slid down the length of Steph’s body, “R-remember…you’re a wom…” with a final gasp the womble fell to the floor…dead.
At the back of Mrs F’s mind there was always the knowledge that the wombles had never been evil in the past and had always avoided humans. Something must have caused them to change…something must have led them astray; she didn’t know what it was but she knew the time had come for the killing to stop.
“Girls,” she called, “I think we’ve won…I think that unless a womble is actively fighting us we let it go…okay?”
There were affirmative nods from Lasha and Steph followed, reluctantly, by one from Alice. Silvia sighed with relief and relaxed a little, the sooner they were out of here and let the men from the ministry sort out the mess the better.
“Right then, let’s go find this Tobermory guy.”
Standing in the doorway of his lounge Tobermory looked pensively up the tunnel, the sound of gunfire had died away along with the screams and cries of dying wombles. He looked back to where Orinoco stood in the shadows of the lounge and suddenly he didn’t feel at all like dying; in fact he wanted to live very much indeed.
Hearing footsteps echo down the halls towards him Tobermory once again turned to his faithful zombie-cyborg.
“Orinoco,” the creature stirred at the sound of his voice, “stand in the corridor here and stop anyone or anything from passing along the tunnel.”
The thing that had once been a rather ineffectual lazy young womble lurched into the tunnel and stood facing the sound of the approaching footsteps.
“There’s a good womble,” Tobermory patted Orinoco on the shoulder before disappearing down the tunnel and into the depths of the burrow.
Trotting along the tunnel trying not to bang her head on the low roof Steph held up her hand and brought the little group of slayers to a halt.
“What’s wrong?” Mrs F pushed her way to the front next to Steph.
“Womble just standing there,” Steph pointed down the tunnel.
“Maybe it’s just confused,” suggested Lasha.
“Maybe it just needs shooting,” muttered Alice darkly; she was definitely of the opinion that the only good womble was a dead womble.
“Come on,” Mrs F started to walk towards the motionless womble, “we’ll just walk by it and…”
Just as she drew level with the creature it sprang to life and uttering a loud roar it picked up Silvia and hurled her back down the tunnel.
“REMEMBER YOU’RE A WOMBLE!” it raged.
The three standing slayers didn’t need to be asked; they opened fire as soon as Silvia was out of the way. Slugs hit the advancing monster making it stagger from the force of their impact. The slayers stopped firing for a moment, allowing Silvia to crawl back to the safety of her girls. After changing magazines the slayers opened fire again. This time lumps of rotting womble flew about the tunnel as the bullets cut into the cadaverous creature’s body. Electrical sparks bounced off the walls and ceiling as rounds smashed the technology that kept the womble more or less alive.
Finally as the smoke cleared and the sound of firing faded away all that could be seen of the womble zombie-cyborg were a pair of womble feet smouldering as they stood in the middle of the tunnel.
“I told you it needed shooting,” Alice slowly put her pistol away and leant against the tunnel wall.
Advancing cautiously down a side tunnel Steph came to a heavy steel door set into the side of the corridor. Mrs F had told off her slayers to search the burrow for any remaining wombles; and for anything that might give a clue as to why the normally peaceful wombles had been acting in such a bellicose fashion.
Flattening herself against the wall she pushed on the door carefully with her outstretched hand. Much to her surprise the door swung open quietly on well oiled hinges. Taking a deep breath she rolled through the door, coming to her feet again she tracked her MP5 around the room checking for any more womble killing machines.
Seeing none she relaxed a little and glanced around, it looked like she was in a lab of some sort. Rough plans, blueprints and half built gadgets lay discarded on the workbenches and on the floor where they had fallen.
“This looks interesting,” she muttered to herself as she headed for the door to call Mrs F to the room.
Just as she stood in the doorway something attracted her attention, she turned to survey the room once more. Puzzled she walked back into the lab; her ‘spider sense’ was trying to warn her of danger, but her natural curiosity made her start to search the room. She followed the sound, a quiet ticking noise, to the workbench in the centre of the room. Lifting an oily rag from the bench she saw the bomb.
“Oh bugger…” she sighed; an instant later the bomb exploded.
Silvia was first on the scene as she pushed her way along the half destroyed tunnel and through the dust and the smoke. Coming to the room she saw the steel door hanging, blackened by the explosion, from one hinge. Holding onto the remains of the door frame she looked desperately for her missing slayer. She saw nothing but the wrecked lab and a few small fires that flickered fitfully amongst debris.
“Steph!” she called but there was no reply.
As she moved away from the door to search the corridor her boot kicked something soft, she looked down.
“Oh god! Steph!” her hand flew to her mouth to stifle the cry of horror that threatened to explode from her chest.
Hearing footsteps running along the tunnel she looked up to see Alice and Lasha appear out of the smoke.
“No!” Silvia gasped, “Stay back,” slowly she fell to her knees next to the body, “don’t look at her,” she begged.
For the Greater Good?
…a muffled soft explosion and the room began to quake,
The slayer blown across the room her blood a crimson lake.
They never heard her cry or shout; they never heard her moan,
And they turned their grieving faces from the blood and from the bone.
A crowd outside soon gathered; and the ambulances came,
To carry off the body of a pawn lost to the game,
And the wombles they clapped and jeered and they sang their womble songs,
One slayer less to interfere where she does not belong…
Stephanie Bridget O’Connor, aged 25, was laid to rest by her friends, as a piper played ‘Flowers of the Forest’, in the London Cemetery near Forest Gate in East London.
‘The Universal Slayer.’*
“She’s four foot two,
And she’s five feet eight.
She fights with crossbows and with stakes.
She’s all of thirty-one,
And she’s only seventeen.
She’s been a slayer for ten thousand years…
Doreen Cooper (the Reluctant Vampire Slayer) aged 23, was laid to rest in her home town at a service attended by family and close friends.
They never found Tobermory’s body; Mrs Fitzsimons had her girls round up the surviving wombles and made them identify the dead, none of them admitted to seeing Tobermory’s body amongst the fallen. Neither did they find the mysterious Dr Strangewomble who was reported to have designed and built the Robo-wombles.
As time passed rumours started to emerge that Tobermory and Strangewomble were living in a secret burrow either in South America or at the South Pole. Mrs Fitzsimons asked the South American slayers to check out these reports but nothing was conclusively proved one way or the other.
Searching the deepest of the burrow’s chambers the slayers found a very old and confused womble who had been locked away by Tobermory. This was the famous (some would say infamous) Uncle Bulgaria. After an investigation it was found that the old womble had played no part in the events of the previous weeks and he was eventually allowed to go and live in the new Wimbledon Burrow, the old one having been blown up by the Royal Engineers.
A few days after the Battle of Wimbledon Common, Tina came home from hospital, and over the next few weeks she slowly regained the full use of her legs. Giles’ hand healed under the tender ministrations of Mrs F and his eyebrows grew back.
Inspector Korner and Sergeant Hayward never solved the mystery of the bodies on the common and the files were passed over to the Unsolved Crimes and Open Case Squad at Marylebone Police Station.
Eventually the troops were sent back to barracks and the press lost interest in what had been reported as the biggest terrorist attack since 911. Strangely although several organisations claimed responsibility no one was ever arrested and no retaliation was handed out. The public, after the next governmental scandal, and after reading about the antics of various footballers and their wives soon forgot about the incident.
After awhile things went back to normal at the Slaughtered Lamb as they began to accept that two of their number where lost to them forever. Mrs Fitzsimons could often be seen sitting on her favourite park bench in St. James Park smoking a contemplative cigarette. She would wonder if there had been anything she could have done differently that would have prevented two of her girls from dieing. Each time she mulled over the events of those weeks she came up with the same answer…no, there was nothing. But each time she got up to return to the pub the doubts would return.
* ‘Steph’, originally ‘The Soldier’ by Harvey Andrews.
* ‘The Universal Slayer’, originally ‘The Universal Soldier’ by Donovan.
DISCLAIMER: this story is fictional, any similarity between this conflict and any historical conflict is purely coincidental.