Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12/7-9/11 - SPYGOD's Big !@#$ Roadtrip: Tanzania

It's been a wild couple of !@#$ days, let me tell you. You know you're in trouble when the enemy sends stampeding, steam-powered, cyborg war elephants armed with repeating spear throwers after your safari jeeps, and it's only you, what few bullets you have left, and the dazed, confused, and unamused wildlife keeping your fine, gay !@#$ in one piece.

(That and some amazing driving by Karl. Kid's turning out to be a natural. Either that or he's really playing too much GTA)

No, don't worry. All my kids are safe, and Randolph's okay (though he really doesn't deserve to be, little !@#$ whiner), and, well, you know me. If I'm talking to you, I'm fine, though somewhat concerned that something isn't wearing off, yet.

But my collection of almost-pristine 70's funk, soul, disco, and Arabian LPs are gone forever, along with the glory that was the Pharaoh Suite. If it wasn't for the swimming pool I think it would have gone up in flames a lot faster, which would have made my planned escape route harder to get to. But I took the precaution of having it filled up for a pool party that we never wound up having, so there you go.

(Foresight or luck? Never ask me that, son. It's just what it is, and if it works, I ain't !@#$ questioning it.)

We're camped out in Arusha, tonight, guests of Tanzania's creepiest, in-town safari lodge. So far as they know it's just Karla (formerly Karl) and Harry (formerly Hilde), young newlyweds who rented out the largest hut so they'd have lots of privacy before the honeymoon of the century. The rest of us slipped in through the hedgerows on the side while no one was looking.

Not that we had to be too careful. One of the reasons I chose this place is that it's got the worst rating out of every single lodge in town, and that's !@#$ saying something. Lizards crawling the walls of the dining room, spiders the size of small puppies wandering the paths, and the food tastes like they caught the spiders, smashed them in a bowl with potatoes and sugar, and called it curry.

But it's lonely and quiet and a man/woman can hear him/herself !@#$ think, or at least be able to tune everything out and go fishing for stray satellites to bounce a communication or two off of. And they stocked the newlyweds' fridge with enough Tusker to float a dead war elephant, so there's that as well.

The road's starting to show on these kids' faces. The good news is that Randolph is finally starting to nut up, broken wrists or no, especially now that his nuts are starting to drop again. The bad news is that this isn't as bad as it's going to get.

Not even close.

Anyway, getting ahead of myself, as !@#$ usual. Where are we, how did we get here, and why are we genderbent?

Long story short, we had to get the !@#$ out of Cairo. And, unfortunately for Egypt Air, and any number of other tour packagers, the Shepheard hotel is going to be down for repairs for a while. Which is a nice way of saying the !@#$ burned down from the top few floors up, and the lobby doesn't look so old world charming anymore.

I bet you're asking "But SPYGOD, you're such a suave, smart Super Spy. How the !@#$ did they find you?"

Well, son, let me answer that by making a general declaration: I !@#$ hate it when I'm right. I !@#$ hate it when I'm wrong, too, but why did I have to be right about this?

Straight up: the murders of two my kids were not carried out by Mossad or Molchanie. And the thugs who followed us into Lebanon, and then Cairo, weren't their folks, either.

This is actually something entirely different, which means, unfortunately, that we are seriously !@#$.

The !@#$ went down a little like this: I was "asleep," working on bouncing a mental signal off a few satellites and over to a certain ally in India, when they got to the hotel. The bouncing was part of the complicated phone call I was talking about the other day, which is a little trick I picked up on the fly that one time that GORGON was running me down in the Irian Jaya.

The ally's a shady character named Dosha Josh who's apparently appointed himself my number one fan in the international Super Spy club, and has helped me out a number of times now. The other day he told me he'd rattle some cages and see what he could find out from his fellows, and the day I got back in touch with him, he told me he'd asked around, and threatened a few people, and discovered that Israel was not involved at all.

(In fact, they were rather !@#$ pissed off about the whole thing, as they were having to clean up after someone else's mess. Can't say as I blame 'em. I'll send them an apology at some point. Really.)

So who did it? Reading between the lines, based on who sounded !@#$ scared that the assassins had failed, who sounded like they didn't !@#$ care, and who claimed to not !@#$ care but were, actually, !@#$ scared, it sounded like BUSH was most likely the culprit.

No, not the former President of the United States, son. BUSH is the extremely unfortunate acronym for the Organization of African Unity's old, pan-African Strategic Talents organization.

(And, yes, I know what it sounds like. They apparently weren't thinking when they picked the name.)

BUSH came straight out of the 60's, swaggering like all get out and swinging both fists at their former and current colonial powers while trying to create a cohesive framework for the continent's many Supers. Like the OAU, they claimed they were staying out of the Cold War, but, unlike their parent organization, they did their best to !@#$ it up.

They did this by being in favor of the Soviets one week, and the rest of the world the next, depending on which side made the best promises that particular week. So they were in bed with the KGB, the CIA, the COMPANY, SQUASH, DRAGON, MI-6, Molchanie... !@#$ everyone, as long as they didn't have a current colonial hold on anyone.

The OAU was disbanded in '02, and replaced by the African Union, who, sick of BUSH's bull!@#$, tossed them out to pasture and made a real Super Spy organization. Unfortunately, the new group, NGUVU (Swahili for "power") is about as effective and cohesive as the African Union is, which is to say, not very. The COMPANY helps them out from time to time, of course, but it's almost always a pity!@#$.

So BUSH still stayed in place, aided under the table by various member states who, unimpressed by NGUVU, wanted to keep their options open. And while I agree it's not a bad idea to not keep all your eggs in one basket, they'd be better off cutting ties with the old and reforming the new.

But do they listen to me? !@#$ no. They !@#$ hate me.  And not without good reason, I'm sorry to say...

... but enough on that another time. There's two important things, here. The first thing is that you remember that I was in the middle of this important phone call with Dosha just as a new wave of assassins was making its way towards the suite from two directions.

And the second thing is that he's telling me that BUSH is involved, and here we are in mother!@#$ Africa.

I open my eyes, the elevator goes "ding," and one of the kids informs me that room service has guns. Luckily for me, I never go to sleep without several large pistols either in my hand, or under my pillow. Unlucky for them, Karl still had the BMFG I lent him the other day, and was in primary firing position, with his back up against the wall.

That took care of those fools. Unfortunately, the second group was on the roof, and burrowing in using incendiary charges. That's why the suite went up in flames, and why we had to drop !@#$ everything and jump down the emergency slide to the back of the hotel.

In a perfect world, there would have been a waiting car. There was, once, but it was gone, and I have no idea if they stole it, or someone else did. Fortunately, one of the tour packages had their ritzy little tour bus puttering around the side, and I commandeered it in the name of America, freedom, and the sanctity of my fine, gay !@#$.

From the hotel to the Nile, where a somewhat unimpressive houseboat was puttering along, undergoing maintenance so it could make a trip up the Nile the next day. Luckily for us, the crew was off somewhere getting smashed, and the only persons on board were two maids and the guy trying to repair the bilge pump. Also luckily, they'd already stocked up on food and supplies, so all we had to do was shoot off the anchor, pay the three crewmembers to go to Sharm el-Sheikh for a few days, and putter away as fast as its little propeller would take us.

That got us as far as the Aswan High Dam. After that we took another boat down to Abu Simbel, and ditched it just north of Sudan. We snuck over the border on foot, grabbed yet another boat, and took that all the way to Khartoom, where we crashed out for the night in a lousy little hovel that was, you guessed it, not my actual bolthole, but a place nearby where I could keep an eye open for someone trying to break into my real safehouse.

At a moment like that, a man has to think about his plans, and whether they're actually good and effective ones, or just large, brown !@#$ being pulled out of one's !@#$ in lieu of an actual, well-considered strategy. Anyone else would say "Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, SPYGOD. This is BUSH country! Get to a !@#$ airport or the coastline and get the !@#$ out of here!"

But me? I say "Let's go deeper into the mystery and see where it leads. It's the last place they'll look for me, right?"

And the other voice can only flap its gums at what is either my audacity, or my stupidity. But the bottom line is that the BUSH people didn't hit my safehouse, and we were able to sneak through Ethiopia, changing transportation every couple hundred miles, without being further molested.

Kenya, on the other hand, was a pooch!@#$ from start to finish. I'm 95% sure we got made going over the border, so maybe posing as French students on a herpetology excursion was not the greatest move. What can I say? Kenyans know from Germans, and they weren't buying it.

On the other hand, they may have tagged us on the way. The Kenyan police are corrupt as !@#$, and well known for pulling over safari buses, claiming there's drugs or contraband on board, and threatening to search everything and everyone on four wheels unless some "assurance" is made. I may have been a little early and overwhelming with the "assurance" (that is, "bribe") because we were in a !@#$ hurry to get away from that border crossing, and the wall of !@#$ I was sure was on its way. 

Either which way, someone must have made a call. Hence the charge of the borg elephants. Hence the adrenalin rush of having poison-tipped spears machine-gunned at us. And hence some really frightening driving moments in which I had to hand over the wheel, climb to the top of the bus, unzip my alien love machine, think of some wonderful katooey's I've known, and shoot deadly !@#$ bullets at our pursuers.

(I don't think the elephants realized what was going on, but their riders were scared as !@#$.)

That was Kenya. Wonderful Kenya. Just to say "!@#$ you, !@#$" I took the kids to the Carnivore when we got to Nairobi so they could try some of the tasty animals we'd had to fly by at about 200KPH to save our lovely !@#$. This was, of course, after dropping into yet another one of my boltholes and effecting a rather startling transformation on everyone. The TransPistol* makes you feel really !@#$ weird but it gets the job done, and now that BUSH was looking for the wrong gendered-party, we were good enough to be able to have a meal and relax after that little escapade.

Speaking of the food, I think we all agreed the warthog was the worst: even the stray cats who live at the restaurant and move between tables, begging for scraps, won't eat it. Luckily for Rachel (I mean Randolph) there was a vegetarian option, sort of. But the cats wouldn't touch it, either.

After that, we !@#$ snuck over the border into Tanzania, dodging patrols and other nuisances along the way. You have to be really careful in the back-forty: the park rangers are armed with automatic rifles and entitled to !@#$ shoot anyone they suspect of poaching, on sight, without asking questions, and without much in the way of a reprimand if it turns out they were wrong. The flip side of that is that, if they lose track of an endangered animal, and then can't find the poor beast within a certain amount of time, they go to jail for life right away because the hypothetical poachers had to be using one of them to help pull off that good of an animal snatch.

(This is another reason BUSH still exists. They're the only ones really equipped to handle specimen-snatching aliens who want to grab, say, a mating pair of black rhinos and transport them to Googlex-34, there to be cared for by conservation-minded extraterrestrials who are convinced they're saving the beasts from us filthy, backwards humans, and not caring that some poor park ranger's gonna sit in !@#$ jail for their act of "kindness." If you need a rogue UFO tracked and shot down, and DAMOCLES isn't answering your calls, call BUSH.)

And now, here we are, in the creepiest little safari lodge in Arusha. I'm feeling what I hope are the first stirrings of my alien love god mansnake coming back from womansnake town (dead God I !@#$ hope that's what that is) and trying to make another braincall, this time to The COMPANY. I need to check in with the folks back home and let them know I'm okay, but I also need to see about getting a few insurance plans in place.

See, now that I know who's doing it, I also have a really good idea as to why. And if I'm going to end this little tour on a positive note, I'm going to need some massive help. Otherwise things could get even uglier than they already have.

I mean, have you smelled what a cyborg elephant does when it dies? I still can't get the funk out of my !@#$ nostrils. And that's after pouring a few cans of Tusker right into the old noggin.

But hey, tomorrow's another !@#$ day.

(SPYGOD is listening to Girls & Boys (Blur) and having a Tusker)

* The TransPistol is a wonder of crazed, high-weirdness 50's mad science: a ray gun that changes its target's gender for exactly 12 hours. It takes about ten minutes to work, and then half an hour to reverse itself, causing a comical tickling feeling at the first change and slow, achy, but somewhat orgasmic soreness on the second. A favorite of quick-disguise loving agents back in the day, the ray was eventually shelved when it turned out that its users started developing bisexual tendencies after a few uses. This "problem" has not dissuaded The COMPANY from continuing to use the machine on an as-needed basis.

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