The Great Pitstop Pandemonium - Part 3
PREVIOUSLY ON THE GREAT PITSTOP PANDEMONIUM...
Velma and Daphne have arrived at the stately home of Daphne’s friend Penny Pitstop, but perils are approaching from all sides.
A villainous fiend, taking the name of The Hooded Claw, has traced a jewel known as The Star of Alamein. The trail has led to Pitstop Manor - a place where he feel she can avenge the ignominy poured on his ancestor.
Penny had hired Dee Dee, of the San Francisco based Teen Angels, to help with security, but over the last 24 hours the girls have been kidnapped, tied up, nearly killed and generally menaced by not only The Hooded Claw, but another villain who is after The Star - or may be after Daphne. Dee Dee has been joined by the hero known as Captain Caveman, and a small man by the name of Clyde, who have their suspicions about Penny’s brother Peter.
When we last saw them, Velma and Daphne had been rescued from a watery grave by Taffy and Brenda, Dee Dee’s colleagues, while Penny and Nida, the real owner of The Star, were bound and gagged in a van that was about to explode thanks to a diabolical, and possibly insane, trap set by The Hooded Claw. As we rejoin our story, there has been an explosion in the grounds of Pitstop Manor...
“What the...” Velma said as they saw the plume of smoke rising a short distance away. “Did something just explode over there?”
The four girls reacted by instinct, and ran in the direction of the smoke column, the path taking them through the woods to a small clearing, in the centre of which stood the burning husk of a large van.
“What happened here?” Daphne whispered as a large man mountain ran from the other direction, followed by Dee Dee. “PRINCESS!! PRINCESS NIDA!!” he called out as Dee Dee said “Have you seen Penny? She was grabbed and taken hostage, then...”
“We’re over here,” Penny said as she stood up, the adhesive from the tape gag still around her mouth. Beside her was Nida, her face smudged with soot but otherwise unharmed, but it was the man standing behind them that caught Daphne’s eye.
He was at least six foot four, and broad shouldered, with white hair cut in a close crew cut. The red shirt he was wearing was old fashioned, almost sixties in the styling, but hung open at the top two fastenings. Brushing some flecks of ash from his shoulders, he said “It’s a good thing I was on my way here and saw what was happening - I managed to land the Helijet and get the two women free just in time.
“Bannon? Race Bannon?” Daphne said, before she ran over and hugged the new arrival. “Is Jonny here as well?”
“Not today, Daphne,” Race said as he put his large hands on her shoulders. “I came on a personal matter, but it appears a lot more has been going on. Why are you so wet anyway?”
“Long story - but it seems we’ve only heard the half of it.” As they talked, Dee Dee was in conversation with Brenda and Taffy, when her cell phone started ringing.
“You don’t say.
“You don’t say.
“You don’t say. We’ll be right back.”
“Who was that,” Velma said as Dee Dee put her phone away.
“I can’t say - not yet anyway,” was all the young woman said before she turned to Race. “I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure...”
“Roger Bannon, OSI - call me Race,” he said as he showed Dee Dee a card. “look, I understand a lot has happened, but I would appreciate been told some of it - and I think you all need showers for various different reasons. Is there somewhere we can go, change and talk?”
“Back to the manor,” Penny said as he looked at the way Hassan was apologising to Nida, “The fair can cope without us for an hour or so. The bands are due to start playing soon anyway.”
Thirty minutes later, Daphne and Velma came into the dining room, having showered and changed into a more usual form of clothing. They found Bannon and Hassan deep in conversation, while Penny and Nida were sitting down. Penny had changed into a light grey jacket and joggers, her feet in a pair of black suede boots, while Nida was wearing a green smock top with dark leggings and sandals.
“Now do you believe there is another Hooded Claw,” Velma said as they sat down.
“I do - and I’m sorry I doubted you,” Penny said with a smile, “Nida has been telling me something of him.”
“He first appeared in my country six months ago - he caused much panic and fear in his attempts to find a large hidden treasure, legend says as great as that found by Ali Baba.”
“Ali Baba? I thought he was a fictional character?”
“Oh no, my dear Daphne - he was very real, and very great. I know, for I am the custodian of the treasure, as have been my family for generation upon generation, since my ancestor Queen Nida and her husband King Turhan. Hassan here is my bodyguard, as his ancestors have been for mine.”
“What I cannot understand,” Penny said as she saw the Teen Angels walk in, “is who this new Hooded Claw is. After Sylvester Sneakley was incarcerated, there are no records of any children - he wasn’t married and died in prison.”
“Can you remember what he looked like,” Dee Dee said as they all sat round the table.
“Not that tall - only a little more than Velma - but dressed in the ludicrous purple suit and big hat the stories Grandma used to tell me had in them. What I don’t understand is why he ended up here - unless...”
“It is partly my fault,” Nida said quietly. “The Star of Alamein is more than a jewel - it is the key to the location of the treasure, if you know how to use it. When he came too close with an attempt to steal it, I consulted with my advisors, and they suggested it was sent to a place for safe keeping - here, in fact. It is known far and wide that the Teen Angels Detective Agency can help a young girl in need, and I did not think her would look here. So we engaged an agent to facilitate the transport - it appears, however, that he got wind of this and tracked her down.”
“To Morocco,” Race said. “The agent is a - friend of mine, by the name of Jezebel Jade. She managed to send it through a secure courier to New York, from which it was to be forwarded to your ladies, before he caught up with her. I found her, and she asked me to come and ensure there were no problems - it seems I arrived a little too late to prevent them.”
“I went to New York, and spoke to the courier there. She had sent it on to you, but when I arrived you had already come here. Did you meet this man?” He looked at Brenda and Taffy as he said this, and both girls nodded.
“He threatened us, but we had already sent on the parcel to Dee Dee,” Taffy said. “In fact, he seemed genuinely surprised when we said it was here - almost as if he had not expected to come here. Is there history between you two?”
“History is the right word,” Penny said quietly. “His ancestor tried to kill my great-grandmother - it was only through luck, and the help of some fine young men, that she survived. Talking of which - where is Clyde?”
“Oh yes,” Dee Dee said quietly, “I asked them to do something for me. Hang on.” She stood up and left the room, as Nida noticed Velma lost in thought.
“What is it, Velma,” she said quietly.
“If this man who called himself the Hooded Claw only knew to come here the day we arrived,” she mused, “then who sent that card? The envelope was franked three days before.”
“Clyde? Clyde, are you in here?”
Dee Dee opened the door to the garage, only to find Peter putting a bag in the trunk of his car.
“Have you seen Clyde anywhere, Peter,” she said, as he slammed the lid down.
“Nope, sorry, haven’t seen the little guy - well, must dash, have a lot to...”
“Going somewhere, Little Peter Pitstop?” Clyde appeared from behind a stack of boxes, looking at Peter as he said “You should took a look inside the bag in the trunk, Dee Dee - you might find something interesting in the sock section.”
“Really,” Dee Dee said as Peter stood by the car. “Would you like to show me, Peter? After all, it would look very suspicious if you were to leave with so much going on.”
“Well, you know how it is,” Peter said quietly as Dee Dee and Clyde walked towards him, “Business to do, people to meet, and the fair is going well enough without me, so...”
“Open the trunk, Peter.”
“Well, if you insist....” Peter walked to the rear of the car, but as the other two approached he grabbed Dee Dee, his arm going round her neck and his hand over her mouth.
“Hands off the lady,” Clyde said as he charged forward, only to stumble as Peter kicked a box in his way and fall in, fidnign himself head down in the plastic padding inside.
“I'm truly sorry it has to be this way,” he said as he grabbed a roll of silver tape and dragged Dee Dee off, “but I need to make sure I can make a clean getaway, and I need to stash you somewhere quiet.”
“This is getting to be a very worrying habit - now Dee Dee has disappeared?”
“Oh come on Velma,” Daphne said, “she’s only been gone thirty minutes. What could have happened in that time?”
“Oogga Booga Look what I find,” Captain Caveman said as he flew in, surprising both Hassan and Race as they stood up.
“My god,” Race said quietly, “so the rumours were true. Doctor Bannon always wondered if it was possible, but this...”
“Hand off Cavey Wavey,” Brenda said as she hugged the latest arrival, “He’s my hero. What have you found, Lil Cavey?”
He blushed bright red before saying “Me fly overhead when me see and find this.” He dug into his hirsute covering, and brought forth a baloney and pickle sandwich.
“Oh sorry, that me lunch,” he said as he dug in again, only to bring out this time a hat and cape, both made of purple cloth.
“That - that is the hat and cloak the man who called himself the Hooded Claw wore,” Nida said as she stood up. “Where did you find this, strange man?”
“Oogga Booga hello pretty lady,” Captain Caveman said as he produced a bird from his club, who then offered a bunch of flowers to Nida. “me find these things near car in parking area - what you call jalopy.”
“Cavey,” Velma said quietly, “Have you seen Peter anywhere?”
“Little man Clyde looking at him - he very suspicious.”
“Peter,” Penny finally said, “What does he have to do with this - you don’t think he’s the Hooded Claw?”
“No - but I think he knows something. Come on.”
“Where are we going?” Penny looked at her watch. “I have to make a speech to close the fair in ten minutes.”
“You go with Nida, Hassan and the girls to do that,” Velma said. “Daphne, Cavey, and Race, you come with me - I think we need to find Peter.”
“I don’t believe it - she survived, and so did the princess!”
The Hooded Claw put down the binoculars as he watched Penny walk onto the stage, where a trio of musicians were waiting.
“Still no matter - she has kept to the timetable, and she cannot avoid this trap. Once that bass guitarist hits the pedal for the guitar, it will complete the circuit that will start the timer, and then everyone will have an explosive end to their day. We can then grab the Star in the confusion - our patsy said they already had it.”
Under the stage, a wire through a hole in the wood down to a timing device, around which was strapped a considerable amount of explosive. Next to that explosive was a dividing support - and on the other side of the support was Dee Dee, twisting madly to try and free herself from the tape bands that held her legs tightly together at the ankles, knees and thighs, as well as her arms tightly to her side. Her wrists were secured behind her back, and her mouth covered with several strips of the tape.
She knew nothing of the bomb - her eyes were fixed solely on the snake that was making its way slowly towards her, the diamond backed head expanding as it looked at her.
From above, she heard Penny say “Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been a fantastic day today, but we are only just starting. We hope you will stay for the firework display, but for now, pleas enjoy the music of - The Impossbiles!”
As the quartet walked towards the garage, Captain Caveman flew ahead, before calling back “OOGGA BOOGA COME QUICK - LITTLE MAN IN TROUBLE!!”
They ran in to see a pair of legs sticking out of the top of a box. Race ran forward, and pulling the man out said “Clyde Wheelwright - I see you still end up in the more obscure places.”
“I go where I’m needed Bannon - now put me down, we have to stop Peter Pitstop.”
“Why?” Daphne said as she stood in the doorway.
“Because,” Clyde said as he opened the trunk of Peter’s car and took his bag out, “He had The Star of Alamein in his possession, and because he’s the one who nabbed you earlier, toots.” He dug around in the bag before producing the jewel, and turning round.
“See - hey, where did she go?”
Velma and Race turned round, but where Daphne had been was now empty space.
“Oh great,” Velma said with a shrug of the shoulders, “It always happens to her.”
“So I hear,” Clyde said “but I think I know where she is. Where’s Dee Dee though - he took her off earlier.”
There’s a new dance that just hit town,
Everyone’s coming from miles around.
As the music started Dee Dee watched, wide eyed as the snake moved from side to side, not knowing of the timer that had just flickered into life next to her...
Dee Dee could not take her eyes off the snake, but instead of moving to strike her, it simply moved from side to side, as if it was entranced. She wasn’t sure exactly what was happening, and then realised that the sound of the bass guitar was causing the stage itself to vibrate - and it was those vibrations that seemed to be keeping the snake enthralled.
Slowly, carefully, Dee Dee started to move back from the snake, her eyes fixed on the flat head as she backed up against the support, still unaware of the timer that was slowly counting down behind her...
“PETER!! Why are you doing this to me?”
Daphne kicked her legs up and down as Peter Pitstop finished taping her arms tightly together behind her back, her elbows resting in the palms of her hands as a silver sheath covered her forearms.
“Why else, Danger Prone Daphne? For love,” he said as he turned her round and sat her on the sill of the car trunk. “I have always loved you, but never had the courage to say it - until today.”
“Funny way you’ve got of saying it - words speak much more potently than rope and tape, you know?”
“You’ve spent too long with Brainbox Velma,” Peter said as he knelt and taped her ankles together. “Anyway, now that I have lost the Star, I only have one prize that I can leave with - you.”
“I don’t understand though - why did you steal the Star? It’s not as if you need the money.”
Peter tore the tape off, smoothed it onto Daphne’s ankles, then looked her in the eye and said “To protect Penny - he said if I did not steal it, he would kill her, and I love her more than almost anything.”
“So to save her, you were going to steal from her?”
“It was not hers to begin with - and it looked so wonderful on your chest, that I had to take both it and you earlier.”
“So it was YOU who tied me to that chair?”
“I regret that,” Peter said as he moved Daphne’s legs and she slid gracefully into the trunk, “but now we can go from this place, and I can save your life and mine.”
“Our lives? Peter, what’s going to happen?”
“There’s going to be an unscheduled fireworks display,” Peter said, and Daphne could see the sadness in his eyes. “That’s all I know - now be a good girl and purse your lips.”
“Why, do you want to kiss me?”
“No,” Peter said as he smoothed the tape over her mouth, “I need to keep you quiet.” Closing the trunk lid, Peter walked quickly round and started the car engine, pressing the button to open the garage door.
From the large garden doors, Captain Caveman looked over the crowds gathered round the stage, but he could see no sign of Dee Dee.
“Is there anything you can do, Cavey,” Brenda said as she stood behind him.
“Me send scout to look in hidden places,” the hirsute hero said, and as he pointed his club the top opened and a small bird with large eyes came out.
“Find Dee Dee,” Captain said, and as the bird flew off he watched the way he zoomed over the crowd. Suddenly he stopped, and seemed to stiffen, like an arrow pointing to the stage.
“Under stage - I go find her,” he said as he swung his club and threw himself into the air, diving under the canopy and almost hitting the bound and gagged girl as she backed to the edge.
“Cvvee-lkt,” she called through her gag, and as Captain Caveman looked round he saw the snake turn and hiss at him.
“Oogga Booga me no scared of no snake,” he said quietly as he grabbed the snake and looked into the small eyes. The snake stared back, then yelped as it jumped out of his hand and slid under the divider.
“Me get it,” Captain Caveman said as he ran after it, but as he pulled the canvas curtain back he saw the timer, the red numbers at 00:15. Dee Dee could see it as well, and screamed into her tape as the Captain said “Uh oh...”
The last thing Peter expected to see was a very tall man with white hair, and a very small man with black hair, standing in front of the garage door.
“Turn the engine off, Peter,” Clyde growled, “We need to talk to you.”
“Oh,” Peter said lightly, “and who is your over sized friend?”
“The name’s Bannon,” Race said quietly, “and you really do not want to make me angry. Kill the engine, and step out of the car.”
“Make me,” Peter said, and both men had to jump out of the way as he roared past them, dust kicking up from the rear wheels as the car sped out of the garage and down the road.
“We need to get after him,” Race said as he looked at Clyde.
“Cool your heels Bannon, he won’t get far. I made a phone call and called in a favour - Mr Pitstop should be meeting that favour right about - now.”
The two men listened as there was the sound of screeching breaks, and then the car driving back towards the garage, followed by a black sedan.
“Please,” Peter said as he jumped out of the car and grabbed Race’s legs, “I don’t want to face - that!”
“What,” Race said as he watched the car door open and a tall man step out. He was dressed in a dark suit, black brogues on his feet, a sensible shirt and tie - but with a cowl on his head and a large pair of wings protruding from his back.
“Mr Pitstop - Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. I have a cease and desist order here in the name of a Mr Clyde Wheelwright, ordering you to give all goods and chattels to him in payment of...”
Race turned to Clyde and smiled. “Even I have to admit, that is cruel and unusual - well done.” His praise was halted by the sound of banging on the inside of the trunk of the car, and as he opened it he saw Daphne staring out at him.
“Quick,” she said as he peeled the tape from her mouth, “There’s a bomb somewhere, he said as much...”
From his vantage point on the hill, The Hooded Claw was getting a little impatient.
“Where’s the kaboom,” he said as he stamped his foot, “I was expecting an earth rending kaboom, and it hasn’t happened. Did the timer break down?”
“Don’t know Boss,” his goons said behind him, “but the girls are still there.”
“So they are, so they are, my fine men,” the Claw said with a smile on his lips. “Prepare the Windmill of Doom - I think it is time we took our final revenge on Miss Pitstop and avenged the family name.”
At the stage, Penny was surprised when she glanced back to see Dee Dee crawl out from under the stage, a length of tape hanging from her cheek.
“What were you doing down there,” she said as she and Nida came off and helped her to stand up.
“Peter - he put me under there with a snake for company, but Cavey found me - and something else as well.”
“Oogga Booga Boom Box,” Captain Caveman said as he dragged out a block of ice, in the centre of which was a bomb with an electronic timer, the display stuck at 00:02. “Me lucky I had cold drinks in club.”
“A bomb,” Taffy said as she and Brenda came up. “Who put that there?”
“Not Peter,” Dee Dee said, “he may be a villain, but he’s not that stupid. Nor would he risk the lives of innocents. No, this is the work of the Hooded Claw.”
“But /I don’t understand,” Penny said as she looked at the group, “If he wanted the Star, why threaten to blow me up as well. Is this just some sort of twisted revenge - and who the hell is he anyway?”
“I think I know.”
The group turned to see Daphne walking back with Clyde, Peter been held firmly in Race’s grip.
“You do? Then who is he?”
“For once, Velma, you’re going to have to wait for me to explain things - we need to trap him, and the only way to trap a madman is with bait.”
“Live bait,” Daphne said as he looked at Penny, Nida and Velma. “Here’s what we’re going to do...”
The crowds had slowly cleared from the grounds of Pitstop Manor, and as the sun began to set over the woods the servant carried the tray of iced teas out to the patio, where Penny was sitting with Nida, Daphne and Velma. Daphne had finally ditched the driving outfit for a ducky pink trouser suit with white boots, while Nida was wearing a traditional pair of pantaloons and a long smock top.
Daphne had on her purple trousers and jacket over a lighter purple top, while Velma was wearing a mustard coloured top and shorts.
“A beautiful end to a beautiful day,” Penny finally said as she took a glass from the butler, and waited for the others to accept theirs. As Daphne took a slip, she looked at the tall, thin young man who was holding the tray.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you around,” she said as she smiled at him.
“No, Miss,” he said in a strangely familiar voice, “I have been working behind the scenes all day, but I offered to bring the drinks as a favour to the butler.”
“Where is Bentley?” Penny said as she looked at him.
“Resting with the others,” he said with a smile. He watched as they finished their drinks, then looked out into the setting sun.
“So peaceful,” Nida said as she started to yawn, “It almost makes me want to... To...” Her words trailed off as she closed her eyes, her head slumping to one side as the others followed suit.
“Vain little madams,” the waiter said as he put the tray down, and whistled three times. From the room, the two goons came out and picked the four sleeping women up, one over each shoulder.
“Let’s go boys,” the man said as he walked down the yard, the two hulks following behind him. From an upstairs window, Hassan and Race watched, their eyes narrowed as they fixed on him.
“Go, Cavey,” Dee Dee said, and Captain Caveman soared into the air, following the group as they disappeared into the woods....
Daphne’s head was spinning. She had suggested drawing them out into the open, but she had not figured on the idea that he would drug and take them... take them...
She wasn’t exactly sure where she was, only that she could feel a cool breeze on her face, and her head was spinning - no, wait a minute, it wasn’t her head was spinning, it felt as if she was immobile and spinning at the same time...
She opened her eyes, to see the sky spinning slowly in front of her. She tried to move he r hands to stop it, but as she glanced to her side she could see she was secured with heavy leather straps to a white wooden board, and it was this that seemed to be moving. As the platform slowly turned, she looked to one side, and a short distance away she could see Velma, strapped to a similar board with a thick leather pad covering her mouth.
“Which would explain the taste of rubber in my own,” Daphne thought to herself as she tried moving her own lips, and feeling the bung that sat in her mouth with her tongue. Turning her head to the other side, she could see Penny staring back at her, and looking down her body she saw the head of Nadi at the far side, looking round as well.
“Welcome, ladies, welcome to my little party,” a weedy voice said, and Penny mumbled out “ubstrd” as The Hooded Claw passed by Daphne’s head.
“Whtduwntwffsss,” Nida said as she passed round in front of him, Velma tugging at the leather straps that held her legs firmly down.
“Well, I want the Star, but that can wait - my little patsy seems to have got himself arrested, but I will find it at leisure once you are out of the way - and my other little surprise takes care of the rest of the Dynamic Dodos at Pitstop Manor.”
“Frsrprsse?” Velma looked at the others, wondering what was going on, as a speck covered the dark sky, and then flew off.
“Where has he got to - I am getting impatient!”
Hassan banged on the table with his fists, while Race looked on.
“Patience, big man - he’ll be back soon enough,” he said quietly as Dee Dee, Brenda and Taffy talked outside.
“Yeah, give the squirt a break,” Clyde said as he sat with his feet on the table. “We have Peter locked up safely at the hoosegaw, and the Star is safe in our possession.”
“Who has it now?”
“Dee does - out...” Clyde stopped as he looked out on the now empty patio. Jumping up, he looked out to see two men carrying the three girls off, kicking and screaming, towards the lake.
“That’s the Claw’s goons,” he roared as he ran out after them. “You two wait for the flying man - I’ll take care of this.” Race and Hassan looked at each other, only to be diverted by Captain Caveman landing.
“Oogga Booga found them - follow me,” he said as he took off again. The two men looked at each other and then ran off, following the light that was shining from his club...
“What are you doing to us,” Brenda screamed as the three girls were lying on the ground. Dee Dee was wearing her more normal outfit as a Teen Angel - a tight red sweater, blue denim skirt and knee length red leather boots. Brenda and Taffy were also in their normal work outfits, but the concern of all three was the fact that they had their wrists tied behind their backs, and their bound ankles were now been secured to them by the two goons.
“None of your business,” the thickset man binding Dee Dee said, “Boss says bring you here, tie you up, gag you, and then leave you with a little present from him.”
“Oh goodie,” Brenda said, “I like presents, what is it?”
“This,” the other man said as he placed a candy striped box on the ground in front of all three of them, and lifted the lid to show them the bomb that was inside.
“Nice present,” Taffy said - and it was the last thing she said as a white bandana was pulled between her lips, the knot tied in the band filling her mouth. A blue and white striped one was used on Brenda, and a red one on Dee Dee.
“Bye bye,” they said as they walked off, only to find themselves hoisted into the air in a net that had been hidden under the leaves.
“Guess you were right about what they’d do DD,” Clyde said as he stepped out, “Given they left that van trap in the next clearing, and the boathouse is just down there.”
Dee Dee nodded and screamed “Tsabmmm” as she looked at the candy striped box.
“Something wrong Toots,” Clyde said as he walked over, and took a look inside. “Oh god, not the hat box bomb trick, I can’t believe how old that one is. ZIPPY!!!”
“Yeah Clyde, yeah Clyde,” a similarly statured man said as he ran forward.
“Take this and throw it in the lake,” Clyde said as he handed the bomb over.
“Sure thing, Clyde,” the new arrival said, and there was a rush of wind as he and the box disappeared, followed by a rather watery explosion.
“Now then,” Clyde said as he started to build a pile of sticks under the hanging net, “Why don’t we start a fire, and then we can have a nice warm chat about your boss, right?”
Taffy started laughing under her gag, as Dee Dee found a knife on the ground and grabbed it, moving it so that she could start to cut through her bonds...
“Let me explain what’s going to happen,” The Hooded Claw said as he watched the four trapped and gagged girls slowly rotating in front of him. “You are all strapped to a windmill, which even now is turning slowly, keeping you all in a state of motion as the cool wind rushes through your hair - well it would if I hadn’t strapped it down under your heads. But you, Miss Dinkley, you have no such problem, do you?”
“Tlduhsslnee,” Velma said as she looked at Penny.
“Icnsstht,” she mumbled in reply.
“Now pay attention,” the Claw continued, “as the speed of the windmill increases, you will become more and more dizzy, more and more disorientated, and you will experience a slight feeling of nausea. I urge you to fight it - the gag may make it an unpleasant experience.”
He looked at Nida, then slowed down and stopped the wheel. Unbuckling the gag, eh eased the bung out of her mouth and said “Why should I ungag you?”
“So that we can talk - and so that you can prolong the agony of our demise, as carefully planned as I am sure it is. After all, choking would be too simple a death, wouldn’t it?”
He stood for a moment, and then nodded, saying “I see there is a little of the fierce desert monarch still in you, your highness,” as he walked round and ungagged the other three.”
“Who are you,” Penny said as the leather pad was taken from her face, “I know Sylvester Sneakley had no family, so who are you and why do you hate me?”
“Oh I don’t hate you, Ms Pitstop - in fact, I hardly know you, but you paid my predecessor a great disservice. I merely wish to redress the balance in his way - talking of which...”
He stepped back and pressed a lever, allowing the wheel to speed up again.
“As the wheel rotates, it will pick up speed and momentum, and you may feel a passing nausea. As this happens, the wheel will be raised inot a vertical position, giving you a beter thrill ride than anything Disneyland or Six Flags can offer.
“When it reaches the critical speed, a release lever will be automatically depressed, and the wheel will set off, rolling at some velocity down the hill and towards the brick wall that resides there. If you are lucky, you will hit the wall - if not, the wood you are strapped to will sail over the side and plummet down the cliff face to the rocks below.”
“So, basically, your conventional death trap,” Velma said as her glasses fell off. “I said it before, and I’ll say it again - you’re a loony.”
“Now now, Velma,” Daphne said as she tutted. “This man is more than just a loony, he’s a grade A-1 fruitcake.”
“Do you think he’s up there with Old Man Johnson?”
Velma thought for a moment. “Hmmm - nah, but he is the same league as the Swamp Croc and his wife.”
“Oh yeah, good one - he really stank didn’t he?”
“Yeah - and what about the Phantom Diver?”
“Oh yeah - but he sank without trace. Unlike the Claw here, who I am sure will rise to the very top.”
“Oh,” he said with a smirk, “like the cream of the crop?”
“No - like the slag in the melting furnace.”
“ENOUGH!” the Claw screamed as he depressed the lever, and the windmill blades started to spin faster. “Enjoy your last fairground ride, ladies. I have to go and retrieve the Star now - have fun.”
The four women watched as the cloaked figure walked to the edge of the clearing, as they realised they were slowly being raised from a flat position into the air, the blades spinning in the air as Daphne felt the rush of blood while her head was down to the ground.
“Talk aboooout being taken foooooor a spiiiiiin,” Penny called out as the windmill seemed to increase in speed.
“I’m goonnnnaaaaa.....” Daphne called out, but any further talk seemed to be silenced as the Hooded Claw walked towards a waiting car, chuckling to himself as he removed the cloak, hat and jacket, and threw them into the open trunk.
“Got a light?”
The thin young man slowly turned, only to be lifted bodily off the ground by the man mountain called Hassan.
“Where is the princess?” he growled, is hot breath steaming up the glasses on the man’s face.
“Princess? What Princess? I was just taking a stroll in the woods, minding my own business...£
“Wearing the latest in purple fashion accessories,” Race said as he held the hat and cloak up. “Wise up, kid - your one chance is to tell us where the girls are.”
The two men ran in the direction of the screams, leaving the Claw to try crawling to his car.
“Oogga Booga going somewhere?”
He looked up at the small, very hairy man, and said “It’s just not my day,” as the club came down on his head.
“Your Highness!” Hassan and Race stopped as the windmill continued to pick up speed, the girls becoming a coloured blur as they whizzed past.
“How do you turn this thing off,” Race said as he ran to the back of the giant wheel. “It’s times like these I wish I had Benton with me.”
Hassan ran to the wheel and grabbed hold of one of the blades, groaning as he managed to stop it for a moment. The sweat built on his face as he saw Nida staring back at him, and heard the groaning of the mechanics as they tried to continue their death spin.
“I... I can’t....” Hassan groaned as the blade slipped from his grasp, throwing him to the side as it sped up again, and then broke loose, rolling down the slope towards the wall at the edge of the cliff.
“My god,” Race whispered as he ran to Hassan, helping him up as they stood, helpless watching the windmill as it careered down the hill and over the wall.
“We lost them...” Hassan said, his face white as he stared at the empty space. The colour soon returned, however, as the four women rose in the sky, still strapped to the blades as Captain Caveman lowered them to the ground in front of the two men.
“Thanks, Cavey,” Velma said as the straps were pulled off her, and she shakily stood up. Looking at her rescuer, she grabbed and hugged him in her arms, making him go red with embarrassment.
“Leave the little mook be, Miss Dinkley,” Race said as he helped Penny and Daphne to stand. “Next time you come up with a plan, Daphne, try to remember the first rule of these guys.”
“Yeah, I forgot - the bigger the trap, the more likely it is to go wrong,” she said as she rubbed her head. “It is over, though - you got him?”
“We got him,” Hassan said after he had put Princess Nida back down, “He is safely secured in the car he intended to escape in. He will not hurt you or the others again.”
“Good,” Nida said, but not in her soft usual voice. Daphne looked at her, and said “Dee Dee?”
Reaching up, the Eastern girl pulled off her mask to reveal the dark skinned security expert. “Sorry, Penny,” Dee Dee said with a smile, “Nida insisted we swapped places. The girl is a marvel with disguises and prosthetics.”
“But if you’re here,” Penny said, then where is Nida?”
“She took my place - why?” Dee Dee looked at the three men, as Race said “Well, we may have a slight problem then...”
“Say,” Velma said as she sniffed, “Can anyone else smell burning wood?” The others looked round, then walked quickly towards where they could see a column of smoke rising in the air.
“Oh hi guys,” Clyde said as he saw the party coming out of the woods, “We’re having a Weiner roast - and the Weiners are over there.” He pointed to the side of the clearing, where Brenda and Taffy were standing over the two goons, while Nida was wiping the last of the dark makeup from the skin of her face.
“Princess,” Hassan said as he walked over and knelt in front of her, “Forgive me for not protecting you...”
“There is nothing to forgive, old friend,” Nida said as she touched his head. “Come - let us return to the manor - it is time to celebrate and rest.”
“So he had no connection to the Pitstop family at all.”
“None at all,” Daphne said as she rested her head on Fred’s shoulder. “It was pure coincidence that the parcel ended up here.”
“But he was a loony,” Velma said as she watched Shaggy and Scooby clearing their fifth pizza. “He just decided to exact revenge for his predecessor.”
“What about Peter,” Fred said as he looked at the others.
“In prison - he told the whole story eventually. I guess he regrets what he did, but he felt he was always under Penny’s shadow.”
Shaggy watched as Velma stood up and went to the door. “Gng smwhr,” Scooby mumbled through a mouthful of pepperoni pizza.
“To see Penny - she’s asked me to be in her pit crew at Daytona.”
“I need to go too,” Daphne said as she stood up, and picked up her coat, “I’m meeting Nida and Dee Dee at the strip for pizza and girl chat.” The two girls waved as they left the room, leaving the other three staring at the door.
“So,” Shaggy said as he wiped his mouth, “What are we going to do?”
Before Fred could answer, the door opened and a young Indian boy came in.
“Fred,” he said quietly, “I need your help - Jonny has gone missing...”