The Hitcher: Foiled Again!
Category: The Mighty Boosh
Characters: Bollo, Howard Moon, Naboo, Vince Noir
Pairing: Het Pairing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Angst, Hurt/Comfort
Length: 1-5k words
The Hitcher: Foiled Again! by MegaRouge
They were chasing down The Hitcher. The green Cockney had broken into the flat and stolen the Xooberonian amulet again. Luckily, after the last fiasco, Naboo had cast a spell on the artifact that prevented the amulet from being activated for non-noble causes. This was partly out of security in case of theft, and partly to keep Vince and bloody Howard from getting themselves marooned on Xooberon again.
The moment the break-in was discovered, Naboo consulted his inflatable crystal ball (the new one… Bainbridge had popped the other one) to find out who was responsible, and where they were. His face grew grim when he announced to his friends that The Hitcher had returned from the dead (again), and was somewhere in the bad part of town.
The four members of the Boosh had followed Naboo’s lead through the dark streets, down into the underground, up and through nasty, rat infested alleyways, all the way to the outskirts of town, into the industrial district. They had wandered among the old warehouses, stepping across the train tracks, crossing overpasses…. Finally, they caught a glimpse of a black-clad man with a sickly green face, hobbling along with a cane.
“There he is!” Bollo roared, and started after the green goon. Howard and Vince were close on his hairy heels.
The Hitcher lurched around the corner of a warehouse. The Boosh came stampeding around the building, and stopped in their tracks. Their quarry had vanished.
“Naboo?” Vince called.
“Hang on.” The shaman finally caught up, his shorter legs making it hard for him to keep pace with his taller friends. He gasped for breath, then pressed his hands to his temples and closed his eyes. After a beat, he muttered a curse and opened his eyes. “I can’t lock on to him,” he said in frustration, “I’m too knackered.”
“Let’s split up,” Howard suggested, “and the first one to come across a pay phone, call the police!” He directed Vince in one direction, Naboo in another, Bollo in a third, and then started off on his own path.
Ten minutes later, the two human members of The Boosh were pelting pell-mell in pursuit of the white-haired Cockney. They’d managed to corner him briefly alongside one of the warehouses, but he’d given them the slip. Now they were chasing him across a bridge over yet another set of railroad tracks… and they were gaining.
“Where’s Naboo gotten to?” Vince panted as he ran beside Howard, “He’s the one we’re getting this bloody amulet, for!”
“Save your breath for running!” Howard snapped.
When they had reached just about the dead center of the bridge, Howard made a flying leap and tackled The Hitcher. They rolled together, and the Hitcher came up swinging. But his age was not in his favor, and the run had winded him considerably. He wasn’t able to put up much of a fight, and soon Howard was holding him fast.
“Gotcha, you nob!” Moon crowed proudly. He tightened his grip on the Hitcher, holding the vile Cockney’s arms behind his back. Vince reached into the man’s black coat and retrieved the Xooberonian amulet, shaking it briefly in the enraged green-skinned freak’s face for a moment, before draping the chain around his neck.
“It’s over, you green berk,” Vince said trimuphantly, “You’re as good as arrested, and you’ll never get your hands on this amulet again. Xooberon’s safe for all times!”
The Hitcher’s face crumbled, and he hung his head. “Ah, right, squire,” he whimpered in resignation, “You got me, dead to rights.”
“That’s right,” Howard growled, “Bollo or Naboo will have summoned the police by now. You’re going to jail, you repugnant git!”
“Ohhh, yes,” the Hitcher mumbled into his chest, “Off to the gallows for the old Cockney nutjob, it is.” But then he lifted his face and smiled cunningly, his yellow teeth like rotting tombstones. “But at what price?”
Vince and Howard both froze, and Noir cocked an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?” he asked impatiently.
“Ah well, what I mean is,” the green man sneered, “just how much are you willing to sacrifice to see me captured?” He bobbed his eyebrows in a sinister way, and licked his green lips.
Howard met Vince’s eyes, and saw his own trepidation mirrored there. “What… What do you mean?” he asked, again tightening his hold on the Cockney. He didn’t trust the green bastard an iota, and knew that even when all seemed lost for The Hitcher, he always managed to slither away.
“Oh, nothing,” The Hitcher replied, pretending to be innocent, “just the ramblings of an old geezer….” He wiggled his tongue obscenely, bugging his eyes out. “But all the same, you might wanna take a gander down there.” He angled his head over the side of the bridge, still grinning.
Both Howard and Vince moved to the railing, Moon still holding the Hitcher. Down below, they saw The Hitcher’s two burly henchmen hunched over the railroad tracks, struggling with something. As they watched, the smaller henchman handed the other a coil of heavy rope, and the two of them knelt head-to-head, their burly bodies still hiding their dirty work from view.
“What the bloody hell are you playing at?” Howard demanded anxiously, eyes glued to the mysterious activities below.
“Wait for it,” The Hitcher drawled cheekily.
The larger henchman looked up, then, and signaled a thumbs-up to their boss as his partner continued with their unknown task. Then both men dusted their hands off and moved aside, revealing the object of their attentions; they had tied Naboo to the tracks!
Howard and Vince both gasped in horror. As if on cue, the distant sound of a train whistle drifted hauntingly through the fog.
“Shit…,” Howard muttered through clenched teeth.
“So,” The Hitcher was now chuckling nastily, “you’ve got a choice here, mates. You can either hold me until the Bobbys arrive…. OR, you can save your friend’s life. You can’t do both, as I’m sure you realize.”
“Howard…,” Vince began, his voice soft but with an underlying frantic tone. He glanced down at Naboo, looking tiny and helpless as he struggled on the tracks. Then he looked back at Moon, silently begging for his guidance. The train whistled again, a bit louder and closer than before.
“Now, by the sound of that,” the Hitcher said gleefully, “I’d say little Aladdin’s got about three minutes before….”
“You FUCK!” Vince snarled, leaping forward and wrapping his hands around the Cockney’s green throat.
“Whoah, hey boy,” the grinning, green-skinned villain rasped through his constricted throat, “time’s a’wastin!”
“Vince, leave it!” Howard shouted, giving the Hitcher a violent shove that sent him sprawling to the pavement, still cackling with evil delight. “We don’t have time, c’mon!” The tall jazz man ran as fast as his long legs would carry him toward the end of the bridge.
Vince gave one last glare at the Cockney, paused just long enough to bury the toe of his Chelsea boot once in the evil man’s side, and then sprinted after Howard. They reached the end of the bridge, hopped over the railing, and climbed clumsily down the embankment. Vince lost his footing and stumbled, rolling ungracefully down to the gravel that lined the train tracks.
Down on the tracks, the two Cockney henchmen pointed and laughed at the mod, then moved to stand over Naboo again.
“You ready to die, lad?” The larger one asked mockingly, leaning over to sneer in the little shaman’s face. “You’ve only got a couple minutes to live, did you know that?” He laughed as a look of terror washed over the diminutive man’s face.
“Oi, check this out,” the second henchmen said, elbowing his partner in the ribs. He grabbed his freakish red-bootlace moustache between his fingertips and twirled it like a silent film villain. The two fell about laughing, slapping each other on the backs.
Naboo glared, and bellowed something that was probably absolutely foul through the gag over his mouth. He even managed to pop a double bird at the green goons, despite his wrists being bound together over his chest, which only made the two evildoers laugh harder.
Still making his way down the hill like a spaz giraffe, Howard saw a glint of gold in the mud, and paused to snatch up the amulet. It had slipped from around Vince’s neck when he fell, apparently. He quickly tossed the chain around his neck, and reaching the ground, helped the muddy mod to his feet. They both made a beeline for their bound and gagged shaman friend, ignoring the two Cockney henchmen as they fled up the opposite embankment, laughing.
At the sound of their approach, Naboo turned his head toward Vince and Howard. His eyes widened, and he gave a muffled yell through the dirty bit of rag the henchmen had used to gag him. Vince dropped to his knees beside the shaman and snatched the gag off, throwing it aside before leaning down to gently frame Naboo’s angular little face in his hands.
“You OK?” the mod asked urgently.
“Oh, flippin’ peachy!” Naboo wailed, panic in his voice, struggling fiercly against his bonds, “HELP ME!”
Howard quickly examined the thick ropes looped tightly around Naboo’s small body. He was bound securely from head to toe, with his wrists tied together in front of him, but only fastened to the tracks at his neck and ankles. The jazz man reached for the bonds at Naboo’s neck, and a lump of stone formed in his gut when he saw the complicated knots.
“Do you have a knife?” Vince demanded as he tested the bonds around Naboo’s wrists, sweat streaming down his face, panic in his eyes. “Howard!”
Moon quickly slapped at his chest and hips, frisking himself for a blade. Per their usual luck, he had left his trusty penknife back at the flat. The one day he really needed it….
“No!” he replied, and went back to work at Naboo’s head. The whistle sounded again, and he tried to judge the distance of the train. He looked back and saw that Vince was working at the rope binding the shaman’s wrists, and slapped the mod’s hands away.
“No, no!” the jazz man said sharply, “Leave that! Just work on freeing him from the tracks, first! His ankles!”
The two men worked feverishly in silence for several seconds, with Naboo’s heavy, distressed breathing and the approaching train the only sounds.
“Bugger!” Vince suddenly barked in frustration, “I can’t make any headway at all! These knots…!”
“Oh my god,” Naboo choked, going pale, looking up at his friends with huge eyes, “I’m gonna die.”
“Shush!” Howard snapped at him, then reached over and grabbed Vince’s arm. He pulled the mod toward him and leaned close, putting his lips to the other man’s ear. “Vince,” he scolded, whispering, “you’re scaring him. Try to stay calm.”
“Sorry,” Vince replied, voice breaking, hands shaking so badly he could barely grasp the rope. Howard realized that in such a state, the mod was not going to be much use in freeing Naboo, and he began to glance around searchingly.
“Quick,” he said, pointing to the side of the tracks, “grab me that lager bottle!” Noir scrambled to his feet and dashed for it, snatched it up, and brought it back. Howard took it from him, and raised the bottle over his head.
“Watch your eyes, both of you,” he warned, before closing his own eyes, and knocking the bottle against the rail. It shattered, and he snatched up one of the largest pieces of glass, and began to use it like a knife on the ropes.
Vince was at Naboo’s ankles again, using his long fingers to pick one of the multitudes of knots apart, but making little progress. His face brightened when Howard handed him a shard of glass, and together they began to saw away at the bindings.
The train whistled again, and Moon raised his head and looked up the tracks. Even with the makeshift blades, they weren’t going to make it, unless….
“Listen, I’ve got an idea,” Howard said quickly, “Run up the tracks and wave down the driver… try and get him to stop the train!” He patted Vince on the shoulder, and the mod lurched to his feet, turned, and bolted up the tracks.
Moon turned his full attention back on getting Naboo loose, and gave a short exclamation of triumph as he cut through one of the cords. He glanced down and saw the shaman watching him with wide, dark, frightened eyes, and his heart clenched within his chest.
“It’s alright, mate,” Howard said gently, softening his features and trying to keep his voice steady. He sawed through a second lashing, and went to work on the third, feeling the sweat trickling down his face and dripping off his nose. “Everything’s gonna be alright.”
Naboo’s solemn eyes were searching his face. “No,” he said quietly, with a sad little smile, “it isn’t… is it?”
“Be quiet,” Moon snapped, bloodying his fingers as he sawwed at the last knot at the tiny shaman’s neck. The rails had begun to ping. The train was getting close.
“Howard, look at me.”
“I said BE QUIET!” Howard snarled, refusing to meet Naboo’s eyes. Suddenly, the night began to grow a bit brighter, and he looked back over his shoulder. His stomach gave a sickening churn; the train was coming around the bend, capturing the two friends in its blinding headlamp.
“Stop, stop, PLEASE STOP!!!!”
Vince’s distant screams were almost inaudible over the growing rumble of the train. Then, miraculously, there was a screech of metal, and sparks began to pour from the train’s wheels. The driver had hit the brake, but the train was still not slowing down much at all.
Howard’s momentary relief was quickly squelched as he mentally measured the distance between the engine and Naboo, and realized that even with the brakes applied, the train was still going to reach the little shaman. He turned back and started working at the ropes again, fingers flying.
“Howard!” Naboo cried out, trying to reach out for his friend’s sleeve with his bound hands, “Howard please! Get clear! It’s no use!” Obviously the little shaman had come to the same conclusion as Moon.
“Shut it!” Howard shouted, wincing as the screeching of the wheels came closer and closer. The final loop at Naboo’s neck came free, and the little shaman struggled to sit up as Moon turned and began to work on his ankles.
“HOWARD! NABOO!” Vince’s voice wailed hoarsely, faintly, over the train’s sounds.
“C’mon, C’MON…!” Howard growled, slashing frantically at the last half-dozen coils of rope that still bound Naboo’s ankles to the rail.
Meanwhile, Vince was running beside the train as fast as he could, falling behind, his panicked eyes locked on the place where his two best friends lay on the tracks in harm’s way. “Oh god, please,” he whimpered to himself.
Sitting up now, Naboo managed to shrug his upper body partially free from his newly-loosened bonds. He looked from the approaching train to Howard, and he pounded at the jazz man’s shoulder with his still-bound wrists. “Howard, listen to me! You’ve got to move! It’s hopeless!”
“No!” Moon shook his head in stubborn determination, still working like a madman at the ropes imprisoning Naboo’s legs, angrily batting the amulet out of the way as it swung into his line of vision.
“Damn you, Howard Moon…!” Naboo shouted, “You’re…!”
“I can’t just leave you to die!” Howard bellowed, “I WON’T!” His voice broke, and his shoulders began to shake. He scrubbed the tears from his eyes, and wiped his nose, knowing in his heart that there was no hope for Naboo, but also still unwilling to give up.
“You can’t save me!” Naboo cried, trying to be heard over the nearly-deafening screech of metal on metal, both hands knotted in Howard’s shirt. “You CAN’T! And if you don’t move, we’ll BOTH die! PLEASE! LEAVE ME!” The train was only ten meters from them, now.
The train came bearing down on them in a shower of sparks. Moon gave one last glance behind, and everything seemed to slow down. He looked up and saw the horrified faces of the drivers as they leaned out the side doors of the massive engine. They knew from experience that their train wasn’t going to stop in time.
He turned back to Naboo, and saw the little shaman shouting up at him, pushing against his shoulder and desperately gesturing for him to get off the tracks. He saw the sparks reflected in his friend’s tear-filled eyes, felt them landing on his back like the stings of wasps. He felt the heat of the train, smelled the grinding metal, felt the vibrations rattling his teeth. He felt the amulet bump against his chest.
Howard seized the artifact in his hand, threw himself over Naboo, and pressed the emerald button just as the train reached them.
Howard lay still, feeling the hot caress of sun on his back, the feathery tickle of sand blowing against his cheek, and the soft, warm body beneath his.
“Urmph… Howard… can’t breathe….”
With a jolt, the jazz man straightened up. Naboo lay there in the sand, still bound, chest heaving, looking up at him with an unreadable expression. The wide, dark umber eyes darted around, taking in their surroundings.
“Are we dead?” The little shaman asked breathlessly.
“No.” In spite of everything, Howard chuckled. Then he paused and lifted his head, looking around, just to make sure that they WEREN’T dead. “No,” he said again, “we’re on Xooberon.” He pushed himself into a sitting position and looked back down at Naboo. The shaman’s face wore an expression of confusion, and then the brown eyes settled on the amulet in Moon’s hand.
“The amulet!” he said in surprise, “Howard… I… you… that’s… you’re a genius!” Naboo was finally able to sputter. He grinned broadly for a moment. Then he seemed to look inward as the full weight of what had just transpired hit him, the grin melted away, and he began to tremble. “God….”
“Hey, easy now,” Moon said softly, pulling the still-bound shaman into his arms and cradling him close. He closed his eyes as Naboo broke down in his arms, feeling his own throat tighten and tears burning his eyes as the smaller man began to sob against his chest.
“Oh god, Howard….”
“Shhhh,” Moon interrupted, resting one hand on Naboo’s nape and guiding the little shaman’s head to rest against his shoulder, “it’s alright…. It’s alright, luv….” He skillfully maneuvered himself to sit Indian-style, and gathered the mystic’s compact body into his lap.
“The train,” Naboo’s muffled voice whimpered, “I felt it… I felt it touch me…,”
“Shhh, it’s over.” Howard just sat there for a long time, holding his friend close, providing warmth and comfort and the sense of safety that the little shaman needed so desperately just then. Naboo had entwined his fingers in the front of his shirt and seemed perfectly content to be in Howard’s lap. That was fine with Moon.
“You could’ve died, too,” Naboo wept into the crook of Howard’s neck.
“I don’t care,” Moon replied softly, turning his head to press a kiss into the black hair.
“You should have left me!” the shaman admonished tearfully, “I told you to leave me!”
“Never,” Moon rasped, tightening his arms around the tiny figure, “never…. I was going to die with you.”
“Why?” The little shaman squeaked, sitting back and looking him dead in the eye.
“Oh c’mon,” Howard said kindly, reaching up to brush a lock of onyx hair from Naboo’s tear-stained face, just noticing that the ever-present blue turban was missing, “how many times have you saved our lives? Mine and Vince’s?”
Naboo blinked a few times, then pursed his lips and cocked his head. “Fair enough.” And that seemed to settle it.
Howard chuckled again, and hugged the little shaman hard enough to make his bones creak. He reached down to finish untying his diminutive friend, when a sudden thought struck him.
“Oh, shit!” He gasped, scrambling for the amulet and holding Naboo to him with one arm, “Vince!”
Back on Earth, Vince was on his knees, both arms wrapped around his head, keening and rocking back and forth in despair. The train had finally come to a stop, but several meters beyond where Naboo was tied. The remains of the little shaman’s blue turban was just barely visible, crushed under the heavy metal wheels. Vince couldn’t bring himself to look any closer.
The two drivers had left the train and were standing over Vince, trying to console him, apologizing over and over and offering their condolensces. But the mod wasn’t listening. All he knew was pain… wrenching pain… and utter despair. All he knew was that his two best friends in the world were dead.
The strange but oddly familiar sound made the heartbroken mod lift his head, and he looked around. There was the sound of feet crunching on gravel, and a moment later, Howard stepped around the front of the train with Naboo cradled in his arms, still trussed up like a Christmas goose, but safe and whole and looking serenely down at Noir.
“Alright, Vince?” the shaman inquired softly, with a squinting smile.
“H…h…h…?” the mod stuttered, blue eyes like saucers.
“How,” Howard supplied helpfully, grinning. He waggled the hand that supported Naboo’s legs, jingling the chain of the amulet he still grasped. He smiled as he saw realization dawn in the mod’s thunderstruck face.
With a wordless squeal, Vince surged to his feet and threw his arms around his friends, the force of his joy sufficient to knock all three of them to the ground. They lay there in a heap, lost in a mixture of laughter and tears, clinging to one another, oblivious to the bemused drivers of the train standing over them.
“Either of you got a knife on you?” Howard called gregariously to the befuddled old men. One of them broke free from his stunned state, and reached into his jumpsuit pocket to withdraw a Swiss Army Knife. He came slowly over to the jubilant trio, and handed the knife to Howard without a word.
With Vince’s help, the tall jazz man carefully eased Naboo out of his arms, flipped opened the knife, and began to cut away the ropes binding him, finally.
“About bloody time,” the shaman grumbled in a good-natured way. He smiled as Vince wrapped an arm around his chest from behind, pulled him back, and planted a brotherly kiss on his cheek.
“H…h…h,” the driver who had supplied the knife sputtered, pointing in confusion from Naboo to the place on the tracks where he had lain.
“How,” the trio supplied, helpfully, in unison, and then burst into laughter. Howard and Vince got to their feet, and each reached down to grab one of Naboo’s hands, and pulled the diminutive mystic to his feet. He wobbled briefly, and Vince steadied him with a hand on his belly. Then he draped an arm around the narrow shoulders.
Suddenly there was the sound of several pairs of running footsteps, and the trio turned en masse to find a small army of policemen charging toward them from the embankment. Above on the bridge, the flashing lights of many patrol cars reflected off the night fog.
“What’s happened, here?” The lead officer demanded of Howard. “Is anyone hurt?”
Howard turned to Naboo. “You hurt?” he asked. Naboo grinned and shook his head. Howard then addressed Vince. “YOU hurt?” Vince also shook his head. “I think we’re good,” Howard said, with a smile. Then he paused and pointed at the two drivers, now both leaning weakly against the side of the engine.
“What about you?” the jazz man inquired.
The younger of the two old men looked up dazedly, waved a hand, and promptly fainted dead away into his coworkers arms. A pair of policemen hurried over to them. The head officer was about to speak again, when a gruff, familiar voice came echoing from the opposite side of the embankment.
“Hello? Naboo? Vince! Harold?” Bollo called out apprehensively.
Howard rolled his eyes before calling out to the ape. “Over here, Bollo!”
With much grunting and huffing, Bollo came around the end of the concrete piling of the bridge, dragging three bodies in his powerful hands. In one hand, he held the collar of the fat Cockney henchman. In the other, he grasped both the slim henchman and The Hitcher. All three of the green criminals seemed to be unconscious.
“Did you still want these gits?” The ape asked, annoyed, dropping his villainous cargo at Howard’s feet in a pile. “You leave Bollo hanging… bored… tired of waiting for bloody police.” He did a double take and noticed the horde of dumbfounded officers staring at him. “Oh sorry,” the gorilla quickly backpeddaled.
With a quick look at each other, The Mighty Boosh snorted in laughter en masse.
“Alright, I need to get home and get a shower,” Vince announced abruptly, fingering his muddy, sweaty hair. He turned and headed for the embankment, patting Bollo and draping an arm across his hairy shoulders en route.
“I need to find my penknife,” Howard said, nodding, following.
Naboo sighed and shook his head. “I need a drink.” He began to follow in his friends’ footsteps, then stopped short and reached quickly for the top of his head.
“And a new turban!”