The Journals of Clancy Puffinstuff: Excerpt 3

It was a bleary, gray, smoggy, foggy, damp morning at the train station. The brick train platform was full of people. Steam billowed all around. Our equipment was successfully crated and deposited in the freight car of the train.

Our patron Malverarey’s man Flaker appeared in the nick of time towing our compatriot, Noggin. While we waited to board, Noggin spun tails of the magnificent porcelain throne he encountered and scaled within the extensive realm of the house.

The conductor gave the all-aboard call, checked our tickets, and situated us in a private lounge sumptuously appointed with dark velvet and wood. We inquired about the duration of the trip to Dark Postule. Somewhat disconcertingly, the conductor was rather evasive about how long it might take.

We kept our eyes peeled out the window in case any of those infernal Poodle Boys had followed us. I didn’t see any of the telltale gray suits, but Babs alerted us that from her vantage, she may have seen one of them get on the train.

The train took quite a while to pass through Bastion. How much of this city have I not seen? As we finally left the city, a blue sky appeared. Strange.

En route, Babs uncovered the set of traveling clothes we purchased for Noggin. We were then all dashingly attired in khaki outfits compete with jodhpurs, pith helmets, and all of the appropriate attire for a fine adventure.

Determined to scope out the train, we split up. Babs and Guadalope headed toward the front, while Noggin and I planned to head rearward. Before we set out, I took the opportunity to fashion a crude disguise: a felted number that plugged into my nostrils made from the raw wool I use for stuffing my creations on short notice.

As we passed though the incredibly crowded coach car directly rearward of ours, we noticed two Poodle Boys in their distinctive gray attire raging to each other against their unfair treatment and forced seating in coach. The combination of their ire with our outstanding stealth and my disguisery allowed us to slip by undetected. We were able to secure two recently-vacated seats a row or two behind our nemeses.

Before too long, Babs appeared in the front of the car. She, too, noticed the Poodle Boys, and successfully sneaked past them to stand behind us at the end of the car. Nods between us were sufficient to signal “Let’s see what happens.”

As the Poodle Boys’ conversation diverted from their conditions, their conversation turned toward that overgrown cricket-playing oaf Bickey. He sent them to follow us and bring whatever we find on our expedition back to the greater Poodle Boy organization.

Obviously unable to allow them to execute this plan, Noggin hatched a scheme to sedate the boys. He happened to be carrying a powerful sedative he only called “Orphan’s Ruin.” This tonic apparently requires a skilled hand to get the dosage just right: too light, and they only get drowsy or sleep for a few minutes; too much, and there is no returning from Elysium.

Noggin asked the porter for beverage service. He returned (after an alarmingly long while) with mouse bourbon and wry-flower gin into which Noggin mixed the sedative. In the intervening time, one of the Poodle Boys got up and headed frontward. Unfortunately, we believed he was going to spy on us while we were attempting to spy on them.

We represented ourselves as sympathetic members of the upper class looking to relieve the Poodle Boys’ consternation with a friendly beverage. The ingrate slammed his drink without even a “Thank you, good sir.” He presently faded away. He may perhaps sleep the rest of his days. Noggin and I left to follow his fellow villain. We were to find out later that Babs picked his pockets (his belongings identify him as Dickey).

As we entered our ticketed car, the other Poodle Boy was making notes in a small notebook while peeking into our compartment (in which Guadalope was apparently sleeping). His notes complete, he made his way further up the train, into what turned out to be the smoking car.

Lucky for me, my faux mustache plugged my nose against the thick cloud of pipe, cigar, cigarillo, and cigarette smoke. While it did not protect the eyes from the tear-inducing sting, we were still able to notice a distinct pair of gray-breeched legs below the cloud. We bum-rushed the Poodle Boy against the side of the car, and strong-armed him out of there and back to our compartment for interrogation.

We were to learn that this Poodle Boy, one Farmy Besslegate, and his partner were tasked to follow us and send messages back about our activities. We relieved him of his notebook, and forced him to strip out of his bespoke gray suit, for which I traded my lovely crushed velvet. Perhaps this rather ill-fitting gray number will prove useful at some point in the future.

This unpleasantness done with, Babs put the man to sleep with ether, and we stuffed him into the luggage compartment. With any luck, he will continue well past our stop as well.

As we continued on our journey, Babs passed me the card of one Mrs. Tiddlesworth of the First Holy Church of Cathulhu whom she and Guadalope met in the dining car. Apparently this Cathulhu is some amalgamation of squid-like creature and cat. Intriguing!