The Flying Cloud, R505 - Season Four

Episode 319: Thursday's Child Has Far To Go

Submachine gun and lei

At dawn, they slept, unaware of what was to come...

Sand crunched under Karen and Rhoda's feet as they strolled down the path to the shore. Around the two women, palm trees swayed in the first light of dawn. A land crab -- or perhaps it was one of the mythical squidbats -- scuttled across the trail, paused to brandish its claws, then realized that the resulting contest might be somewhat one-sided and scurried off into the brush.

Karen watched the creature go, then turned to her companion. "I don't see why we had to wake up this early," she complained.

"I wanted to watch the sunrise," said Rhoda.

"Couldn't we watch it later?"

Rhoda opened her mouth to reply, then giggled. "No."

"I gather you're growing bored with Thursday Island," Karen remarked.

Rhoda sighed, "I supposed it's a nice resort, but it is rather small, and one can only play so many games of tennis... or lawn bowling, or..." she shook her head in amazement at the extremes of human frailty, "...quoits."

By now they'd reached the beach, where a brilliant tropical sun was pushing its way above the eastern horizon. They gazed at it in appreciation. At last Karen allowed herself a smile.

"It is a lovely sight," she admitted, "so much better than the boiler works in Sheffield.. But what's that dot to the left. It doesn't look quite like a bird."

The two women studied the object, which seemed to be growing larger. "I do believe it's an airship," Rhoda said at last.

"Whatever could they be doing up and about this early?" asked Karen.

Karen shrugged. "I can't imagine."


They struck from the sky like a sword...

Al gestured out the window at the small archipelago ahead. "There it is!" he announced, "Thursday Island!"

Marty gazed past the skipper. "Which one's Thursday?" he asked.

"It's between Wednesday and Friday..." The airman began, then he noticed the mobster's expression. "It's the one in the middle," he said hastily, "the one with the mooring mast."

"Good work, Al," said Marty. "Jake, you think they spotted us?"

"Naw," said his henchman. "We're attacking out of the sun, just like in the movies."

"What if someone's out watching the sunrise?" asked Books.

The others turned to scowl at him.

"Shaddup," said Marty.


The defenders seized their arms and rushed to their posts...

Fenwick sipped his tea as he planned the day's schedule. As manager of the Grand (and only) Hotel on Thursday Island, he was responsible for keeping his guests entertained. This could be something of a challenge, for the island might be a tropical paradise, but it had little to offer in the way of recreation. A quoits tournament might be just the thing, he decided. But should he use Northern Rules or the Old Game?

He was wrestling with this knotty question when the groundskeeper, Bascomb, knocked on the door. "I say, Fenwick," the other man announced, "you might want to take a look at this."

"Take a look at what?" asked Fenwick.

"It might be best if you see for yourself."

Fenwick followed his assistant outside, glanced up, and paused to scratch his head. A large airship had come to a stop above the cricket pitch and was dropping lines from its cargo hold. As he watched, a party of armed men began to abseil down from the vessel.

"I take it this is what you wanted me to observe," he said.

"Quite," said Bascomb. "It struck me as somewhat out of the ordinary."

"It also seems somewhat irregular," Fenwick observed. "I don't believe these fellows have a reservation."

"What should we do?" asked Bascomb.

Fenwick shaded his eyes against the sun so he could count the invaders. "Rouse the concierge and see if we have room for six more guests."


The attack was merciless and swift...

Marty reached the ground, unslung his Thompson, and turned to address his henchmen. "All right, boys!" he announced. "Spread out in pairs, round these people up, and start searching for valuables. This is supposed to be a class joint, so the place should be a gold mine."

"We got company, Boss," said Jake, pointing behind him.

The mobster turned to see two smartly-dressed men approaching from what might have been the resort's office. "Good day," said one. "My name's Fenwick. I'm the manager. How may I assist you?"

"We're here for your loot," said Marty. "Hand it over, nice-like, and there won't be any trouble."

The two men exchanged glances, as if bewildered by this unfamiliar interpretation of English grammar. "Am I to understand that you mean to plunder our resort?" the manager asked.

"Yeah," said Marty.

"I must say..." Fenwick began. But before he could specify what form this imperative might take, he was interrupted by a delighted cry from the terrace.

"Pirates!"


The villagers cowered in terror...

Anderson pulled out a chair, sat in front of the transmitter, and frowned. These seemed like good circumstances for a call for help, but what kind of message would be appropriate? He was hardly an experienced operator and pirate attacks were entirely outside his experience. Until now, the majority of his work had consisted of acknowledging arrivals and departures and the occasional request for champagne. At last he signed and reached to the shelf for his well-worn copy of A Boy's Big Book of Morse Code.

"Switch on the equipment," he told his assistant, Loretta. "We'd better send out a distress signal."

"Must we?" she pouted. "This is the most exciting thing that's happened here in months."

Anderson paused to think this over. His assistant did have a point. He was still thinking when two gunmen burst through the door.

"All right!" cried the first. "Back away from that radio and no one gets hurt."

"Of course," Anderson said brightly. "Is there any other way I might be of service?"

The second gunman -- a small bookish fellow whose firearm seemed entirely too large for him -- adjusted his glasses. "Hand over your radio log so we can see what messages you've sent."

Anderson gazed at the clutter around him. Good housekeeping had never been one of his strong points. "I'm not quite sure where I put it," he said at last, "but I'm sure it's around here somewhere. You're welcome to search the premises."

Beside him, Loretta smoothed down her skirt and gave the pirates a wink. "You're welcome to search my premises too."


To the victors belonged the spoils...

Marty watched smugly as the last load of plunder came aboard. Hoist operations over land were much easier than they'd been at sea, and they'd been able to bring up considerably more loot.

"How does it look, Books?" he asked.

The bookkeeper emptied another sack of valuables onto the table beside him and sorted the contents into neat piles. "I won't know exactly until I have a chance to weigh some of these pieces," he said, "but we must have cleared at least three grand."

Marty smiled. "Not bad for a day's work! Watcha think, boys?"

Jake glanced up from where he'd been trying to clean some lipstick marks from his collar. "I liked this caper, Boss! Let's do it again!"


The losers faced the ashes of defeat...

Fenwick and Bascomb stood on the terrace, watching the airship depart. Around them, groups of excited tourists were exchanging stories and comparing the souvenirs they'd collected of the invasion -- autographs, cigarette butts, brass knuckles, and the like. They seemed to regard the attack as an entertainment that had been staged for their benefit.

"That was a rather remarkable experience," said Fenwick.

"Quite," said Bascomb. "How are the guests taking it?"

Fenwick glanced at their customers and rubbed his chin. "They seem rather delighted by the affair," he mused. "I wonder if we should try to schedule another."

Next week: If You've Seen One Pestilential Swamp You've Seen 'em All...

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