“Is that McCluskey?” said the voice in the tube.
“Yes, Chef!” said McCluskey. “I’m sorry about the chocolate!”
McCluskey explained how he’d been attacked by brigands in the shadows of the Chilly Peaks and how the condor had appeared and made off with the luxury yak milk white chocolate the chef had ordered.
“Well, that’s bad luck, but what am I going to do? There’s a rumour going round the palace about the chocolate and the Emperor must have heard it by now. He’ll be mad if it doesn’t materialise,” said the chef.
Just then the condor appeared out of nowhere again and perched on the blimp’s landing ski. The receiver in the tower ducked down below the window, and pressed a button to call security as the bird flapped it’s long, broad wings to balance itself. A siren started wailing.
“I don’t feel like this now,” said the condor, dropping the chocolate into the blimp basket. “Can I exchange it for a lettuce?”
“What’s going on?!” said the chef’s voice from the tube. “Who’s that?”
Guards appeared in turrets, on walls and roofs and at gates, their armour and helmet glinting in the new day’s sunlight. A strange-looking defence-apparatus came towards the condor, aiming to shoo it off the Imperial Palace premises - with force if necessary.
“Stop!” shouted McCluskey. “It won’t do you any harm! It’s just a bit hungry that’s all!”
McCluskey let go of the speaking tube, and sprinkled some vinegar on the last lettuce and gave it to the condor.
The strange apparatus came to a halt and the guards watched as the condor crunched the lettuce and swallowed it.
“Got any more?” asked the condor.
“That was the last one, I’m afraid. . . ” said McCluskey.
The guards raised their weapons ready to attack. The apparatus tensed on it’s long, wiry legs.
“Don’t shoot!” cried McCluskey.
Terrible, nerve-racking seconds elapsed. The guards gripped the ends of their arrows with their fingertips.
“I’ll bring some more lettuce next time!” said McCluskey.
“OK, don’t forget,” said the condor.
“There’s some other leafy things you might like,” said McCluskey, still eager to encourage the bird away from meat-eating while it’s enormous beak was so close. “There’s cabbage, kale, spinach, rocket and loads of others. They’re all tasty and good for you!”
“OK,” said the condor. It flapped it’s enormous wings and the guards took aim.
“Wait!” Wait!” shouted McCluskey, leaning out of the blimp basket.
The guards held their fire as the condor took off, making the blimp shake.
“I’ve got it, Chef! I’ve got the chocolate!” shouted McCluskey into the tube, as he watched the condor fly off into the distance.
Meanwhile, back in their stinking hideout in the shadows of the Chilly Peaks, the brigands poured rum on their cornflakes. They were still fed up about not getting the chocolate.
“I had it in my hand!” said the leader. “I’ll get that condor if I see it again!”
“What about that pigeon?” said one of the men, and the rest of the crew sniggered.
“Yeah,” said another, “the pigeon that decorated your coat!”
“Splat!” said another.
“Don’t cross the white line!” said another.
The leader scowled and banged his fist down on the table. The men all froze and looked at him.
“Well,” he said, smiling wickedly, “I’m glad it was the pigeon, and not the condor!”
And they all laughed heartily.
End of McCluskey’s Story/ Peak Peril
© David Severn