Premier Duh-wite and his twelve Dragons had departed for the McDonalds on Torbay Road to partake in the all-day breakfast and copious amounts of Columbian coffee. The torture session during which I had suffered from the most vile and slanderous threats had ended temporarily and I was at liberty to survey my surroundings through the floor to ceiling vaulted plate glass windows in the penthouse of Confederation Building.
Off to the southeast, Gibbet Hill rose ominously from the desolate landscape. Around the base of the hill, a shanty town was beginning to rise--eerily like the desperate favelas I had seen on the hillsides of cities in Brasil. It was obvious that the recently impoverished people of Virginia Waters and of the posh downtown condos of Water Street West were constructing their own favela.
Why so many sirens, I wondered aloud. "I am Cortana," said a disembodied voice. "You can ask me anything. The ambulances are picking up the dearly departed. The new death tax has made it too expensive to bury the dead."
At that moment a vibrating iPhone in my sock alerted me to an important message (It was a trick I had picked up in the 60s while on secret assignment in Moscow for Joey of the Mighty Churchill). I delved into my sock and delicately held the device to my ear. "Is that you?" whispered the voice.
"Yes, this is me."
"This is RS from MP," said a crackly voice. "I have another tip. Al the Pirate is transitioning the MV Veteran into a love boat. You didn't fall for that stuff about broken thrusters, did you? They've already transformed the passenger lounge into a Mary Antoinette boudoir--red lace curtains, mirrors on the ceiling. The whole bit. You don't want to know what's going to go on there."
"I have to go," I said. "I hear some singing. I think Premier Duh-wite and the gang are returning."
Premier Duh-wite led his merry band of ball-faced brigands into the room with Al (the Pirate) Hawkins bringing up the rear, strumming his musical instrument. We extort, we pilfer, we filch and we sack/drink up me 'earties, yo ho/maraud and embezzle and even hijack/drink up me 'earties, yo ho...they all sang.
Surprisingly they all looked in my direction with eyes of jovial Newfoundland friendliness. All except Dr. Dale, with his face of an earnest rodent, who was still in a vicious and vindictive mood.
"You have bullied us with your bilious bilge," he shouted. "You are spiteful, specious, mysognistic and malevolent."
"Oh, do shut up," said Dr. John as he sliced the air with his sinister scalpel. "You're not a real doctor, anyway."
"We want you to be our pal," said Premier Duh-wite, "say nice things about us. Can you do that, Free..we can call you, Free, can't we?"
I was taken aback by the dramatic about turn in the Dragons' dire demeanor. I mumbled agreement.
"Can't we all be friends," whined Double Dipper Byrne. "You scratch our back, we'll scratch yours."
"We're prepared to make you an offer," said Catherine (Minister of McDonalds). "$1000 for 99.9% of your company and the rights to your Five Minute Hate program. We're all going in on it--a blind trust, of course. And free coffee for a week at any of my McDonalds restaurants in St. John's."
"And a free gourmet meal at the Health Sciences," said Dr. John.
Some Dragons piped in with putrid threats.
"But you have to stay in town," said Big Eddie. "We don't want you stirring up sedition in the outports."
"We want to keep an eye on you," said Catherine. "You're in big trouble, buddy."
"If you try to leave, we'll come and get you," said Premier Duh-wite.
"I'll dismember you, joint by joint," screamed a crimson-faced Dr. John.
"I'll keelhaul you," said Al the Pirate. "Can I sing another song, Premier Duh-wite, please..."
"I'll hang you first and try you later," interrupted Judge Roy Bean Andrews, Minister of Laws. "You can't escape the long arm of the law."
These were no idle threats so I decided to escape at the first opportunity. "I have to go to the next room and phone my agent," I said.
The Dragons nodded in agreement.
I walked into the adjoining room and noticed an exit sign over another door. I ran, pushed it open, and leaped for the stairs. But there were no stairs and I fell screaming into an endless tunnel.
I was suddenly aware that I was back into my chilling nightmare with the old Hag squatting squarely on my chest. She was light as a sea-louse as she stroked my neck with her scrawny hand.
"Hag," I said.
"Yes," she murmured seductively in her scratchy voice.
"I love you," I said.
Next: I escape the city in an ingenious disguise.