BoffWham BiffBuff

Head Gazookus

 

The Do’s Series: Segment 16

© Grandpa Jim

 

 

Gazing out the bow window, TidBit watches a school of fish dart away from the passing deepboat. “I thought we’d be swimming,” he says aloud. “And I’d be breathing water. Or trying.”

“Oh. Oh. Oh.” The tall guppie in the sailor suit with the large forearms spins the ship’s wheel, guides the submersible around a tight turn, sways his hips and sings.

 

“I’m BiffBuff the sailor man

I’m one tough Gazookus

I biffs ‘em and buffs ‘em

And always out roughs ‘em

I’m BiffBuff the sailor man

 

It’s Boff and it’s Wham

Cause BoffWham’s me first nam

So keep Good Be-hav-or

That’s your life saver

With BiffBuff the sailor man

 

With BiffBuff the sailor man

BoffWham ‘em BiffBuff ‘em

I always out roughs ‘em

That’s BiffBuff the sailor man

I’m BiffBuff the sailor man.”

 

“You are a cheerful fellow, Mr. BiffBuff.”

“Aye, Mouse TidBit McIntyre, I am. That be the fundamental nature and required qualification of the guideway guppies of the deepdive fleets. Long from home and family, we are recruited for our happy spirits.”

“I have sat here in this wheelhouse with you for some days, and I can attest with certainty that you are a most happy spirited sailor.”

“Thank ye.” BiffBuff sways and spins, negotiating another turn. “Now, to your first comment. We are not swimming. The boat is.”

“Swimming?”

“SlipperySlideryWeaveryWay Technology. A marvelous invention. The skin of the vessel slips and slides through the water. Sentient thing, this ship.”

“Does it eat?”

“It does. Little suspended thingies.”

“Living things.”

“Yep. Yep. Yep. Small green plants. They need light to grow down here. So we Guppies plant the brightmosses you see clinging to the sides of the underways. This deepboat has its own running lights for where the moss is not; but for these tight spaces under OverMountain, the mosslight is a most handy aid to navigation and it provides the energy needed to grow the tiny floating foods our shipskin ingests.”

TidBit turns in his swivel command chair and gazes back down the short narrow corridor. The door to the sleeproom is on the right. The galley is to the left. Beyond, in the aft hold, the two crew members jostle each other as they arrange packages for the next stop.

“This is not a large vessel,” the Mouse observes.

“Can’t be in these spaces.” BiffBuff carefully nudges the wheel back and forth. “Shipsize depends on waterwide.” The guppie captain runs a bony hand along his headridge. “Scuttletalk is the buildyards are constructing some troop carriers. Large vessels, those. Only guptalk, but the waterways carry word of battles and such, Mouse TidBit.”

“Aye, shipsmaster BoffWham, the underways speak true. Lands be overrun. Lives lost. From FarWay to the LowHills and now on the slopes of OverMountain, dark forces move.”

“I follow the waves.” BiffBuff tightens his hand on the wheel and gazes out. “All my life I have traveled beneath the lands of The New & Free Peoples. The puzzlethinkers in DownTown, the capital undercity of our people, they say the New Days lands are more than before, the waters less. Traders move from FarWay in the North, through the GreenCountry of the ForestDwarves, past the East Ridge and the Low Hills, to Glue Days and New Bread — where the Fair is held between the BlindDesert and OverMountain — and beyond to distant StrongHold and NoLonger on the shores of the GreeBlue Seas. These travelers walk and ride on dry land for all these ways. I think the lands are wider and longer and higher than they were before.”

“You think deeply, Guppie Captain of the UnderWays.”

“Sailors see and hear much. And I am a Head Gazookus of Queen Mary’s DeepFleet and a far traveler by trade and inclination.”

“And where are your traveling and trading inclined to take me, Mr. Gazookus?”

“DwarfPort under TopHouse. Where the Drums in the Deep beat welcome and warning. The Abbot said you should have friends there.”

“I hope to. It is far?”

“Not far, if the route could be direct. For safe passage, we follow the underwaters that permit our size and ensure the delivery of our goods. The path is as circuitous as the mountain dwarves of TopHouse are demanding. It is best to please both. Worry less, Master Mouse, it is not long. You see the crew preparing the packages for delivery. It is not long now.”

 

* * *

 

“You say I will be the program?” LoveJoy directs her question to the diminutive dwarf technician.

“The program will become you.” Fritz WonderLeaf, Mentat Compendium, shifts his focus from the computer screen before him to the longhaired girl hovering over him. “And you will become the program. I did not think this could be possible, but it can apparently be so.”

“Why is this done?” DeepDelve HuffSpot pulls at an ear. “What is the purpose of this odd interaction?”

“She becomes the disrupter. Her body will be synchronized and organically programmed to integrate into and disrupt the internal sequencing of the master coding that creates and maintains the SCRUMPS in their particulared forms.”

“So she can destroy the SCRUMPs?” DeepDelve squints his eyes in thought.

“So she can save them.” Fritz rolls his shoulders to relax the muscles. “Once she becomes the organic extension of the program that was transferred in the thumbdrive, once she allows the program to enter and fuse with her electroneuronic fabric, the operative coding is designed to transfer when she places herself in contact with a SCRUMP.”

“Any SCRUMP?” LoveJoy asks.

“It must be one that you recognize and know from its sentient form,” Fritz responds.

“A family member?”

“Yes, that would be best. Is their one such?”

“There is. My father.”

“Better. The closer the relationship, the better for the cascade.”

“What is this ‘cascade’?” DeepDelve touches the top of the iMac screen.

“Do not touch.” Fritz pushes the dwarfmaster’s hand away. “The preparations are almost complete.” The technician’s fingers fly across the keyboard as he continues to speak. “My read of the language parcels indicates that once the disrupter has entered the SCRUMP master coding, the drawback effect will reach out to all the particled creations and cascade their conscious aspects back to reside again within their human forms.”

“Will they then revive?” LoveJoy asks.

“Yes. Each person will awake complete and whole.”

“And what will happen to LoveJoy?” Concern weighs DeepDelve’s question.

“She may die. I do not know with certainty. That part of this Nurse’s coding is not wholly decipherable. To some extent, the girl must disassociate and ride back with the SCRUMP to disrupt and reconfigure the master programming.” The Mentat’s hands stop and he turns to LoveJoy. “My appreciation of the design is that you will likely die.”

LoveJoy lifts and turns her hands. “I am ready.” She lowers her hands. “Are you ready for me, Master Engineer?”

“I am M’Lady. The preparations are complete.” The small dwarf pushes the chair back, slides off and motions for LoveJoy to sit, which she does. “Place your hands,” he instructs, “anywhere on the screen.” LoveJoy spreads her fingers and presses both palms against the blues and golds swirling on the surface of the iMac display. The colors separate and outline the girl’s hands.

“What do you sense?” Fritz WonderLeaf asks.

LoveJoy turns her head. “I hear voices.”

“Familiar voices?”

“I think so. They are faint and distant, but I think I can hear him.”

“Your father?”

“Yes.”

“Good.” The engineer touches LoveJoy’s shoulder with one hand, reaches up and runs the fingers of his other hand over the keyboard. “Do you hear anything now?”

“No.”

“It is complete. The necessary program components for disruption have transferred to you and are part of your circuitry.”

“Will I hear him again?”

“When you are close.”

“How close?”

“I do not know. I know you have to make physical contact for the transfer dynamic to function. The program is designed to accentuate the signature and locate the presence of those who are close to you.”

“What does she do when she is close?” DeepDelve asks.

“She reaches out and touches the SCRUMP.”

“Mentat, we have trained our men not to do this for fear of their lives.”

“The program may protect her, and it may not. I cannot say. I know this is what she must do. The Lady is aware of the risks.”

“I am,” LoveJoy echoes.

“But. . . .” DeepDelve is interrupted by the cough of a tall dwarf in military attire standing in the open doorway. “Yes, what is it?’

“Pardon, DwarfMaster. A deepboat of the Guppie Fleet has docked at Drums Deep Pool.”

“Why does that concern us, TwoBars?”

“The Mouse aboard asks for Ladies LoveJoy and DawnRunner. He is insistent and concerned, and he demands information.”

“He demands. . . .” DeepDelve’s huff is shortened by LoveJoy’s exclamation: “TidBit! We must go immediately. Send word to DawnRunner.”

“Yes.” DeepDelve collects himself. “Yes. Lead on, TwoBars, and send a messenger for the other SandRunner. The ladies would see this Mouse.”

 

* * *

 

The deepboat rocks easily alongside the stone dock. Stout ropes hold the vessel in place. A soft throbbing glow emanates from the skin of the deepdive cargo vessel. The two guppie crewman stack packages on a shallow platform on the smooth rockway.

“Here the waters part us, Companion Mouse.” BiffBuff raises his hand in formal leavetake and parting. “I have enjoyed the company of your words through these underways.”

“As I have yours, DeepDive Captain BoffWham BiffBuff. I have learned much of the deepways and the overplaces of this New Age, and I thank you for sharing your knowledge.”

“It is an honor to have a ready listener.” BiffBuff starts to turn to his vessel.

A loud and happy “TidBit McIntyre!!” startles the Guppie sailor and spins the Mouse on his heels.

A broad smile forms on TidBit’s face as he is engulfed by the welcome hugs of two tall young women in SandRunner dress.

BiffBuff laughs deeply. “You do have friends ashore, brave Mouse. Two beautiful girls of the open sands.”

DawnRunner flashes her dark blue eyes. “And who is this brave sailor who has rescued our dear friend?”

The Guppie seaman sways his hips and sings loudly:

 

“I’m BiffBuff the sailor man

I’m one tough Gazookus

I biffs ‘em and buffs ‘em

And always out roughs ‘em

I’m BiffBuff the sailor man”

 

With a bow and flourish, BiffBuff announces, “BoffWham BiffBuff, Head Gazookus in Queen Mary Pickford’s service, at your service. You may call me BiffBuff.”

“Oh my.” LoveJoy smothers a giggle. “This is a good meeting.” She graces BiffBuff with a bow of her pretty chestnut-haired head. “I am LoveJoy KickStart and this my friend and traveling companion, DawnRunner StarBreak.”

DawnRunner extends her hand in greetmeet. “We welcome you, tall and sonorous Guppie sailor, and thank you for returning our lost Mouse to us.”

“A pleasure desertrunner. A pleasure to meet you both.”

“Captain BiffBuff was just leaving,” TidBit interjects with smile.

BiffBuff raises a finger to his chin. “I remember now that there is cargo business that should be done ashore here. And, I have not eaten on a floor that does not move for some time.” He glances to LoveJoy. “Would it be appropriate for a short stay and long dinner with you two ladies? And the Mouse, of course.”

“It would be very appropriate.” DeepDelve steps among the party. “Allow me to introduce myself, Captain BiffBuff and Mouse TidBit McIntyre. I am DeepDelve HuffSpot, DwarfMaster of TopHouse, and I agree completely with the suggestion to dine. As has been said, ‘The table of TopHouse is oftspoken and longremembered.’” The dwarflord pauses. “I remember now who was standing before me when those very words were spoken here. It was one who is not with us today, the young man, SchirmerSchutzen HirschTruss. Have you news of the Prince, Sir Mouse?”

TidBit lowers his eyes to the dock surface, where they stay for some seconds, before he raises them to LoveJoy. “With sorrow I speak. When last I saw Truss, he lay unmoving beneath the black form of a SCRUMP. I do not know that he lives. If he does, I do not know where.”

LoveJoy leans her head on DawnRunner’s arm. “And I was so cheered,” she speaks softly.

TidBit moves closer. “There is hope, ladies. There must be. There is always hope.”

“We have each other,” DawnRunner adds and reaches to touch the Mouse.

LoveJoy smiles. “And we have new friends. Here. With us.”

“You do.” Captain BiffBuff draws to a quick salute. “Two SandRunner tall dwarfladies of OverMountain require the services of a songready GuppieSailor from UnderMountain to cheer them on this day.” BiffBuff does a quick twostep and bursts into song:

 

“It’s Boff and it’s Wham

Cause BoffWham’s me first nam

So keep Good Be-hav-or

That’s your life saver

With BiffBuff the sailor man.”

 

DawnRunner and LoveJoy laugh together.

“To meal, friendly company.” DeepDelve lifts his hand and gestures toward the tunnelway to TopHouse. “Story and song comfort the heart and lift the spirit. To meal, good companions. Remember well and linger long. To meal.”

With sad smiles, they turn together to climb to the enterhalls of dwarfkind. The Drums in The Deep sound behind and below them, and the happy song of a Guppie sailor rises in their midst.