Whatever the hell Albert had just heard scorching across the sky did not fill him with a tremendous amount of joy. It sounded, for all the world, like the missiles he’d tried to get away from on a war torn Jud in 281071. Maybe he’d not been gone that long after all and the war was still raging. Maybe this was a new war. His mission to explore the universe to find new and exciting planets with excellent parking, had been in vain. Frankly, the parking in this swamp so far had proved disastrous.
He thought back to Jud, life had been good with technological advancements making things ever easier and ever more exciting. The rich were getting richer, but the poor were getting poorer. Albert could see that things were unsustainable as they were.
In-fighting and power struggles ultimately led to a bitter global civil war ripping through the planet. Splitting friends and families asunder. Whole continents cast adrift from one another figuratively now as well as literally. Albert had even lost the bond with his own father, President Norman of Jud, due to their differences in opinion regarding making Jud a better place. Space flight offered the opportunity to escape all that, to find a better way, a better place. Now here he was tied up in a bloody swamp with missiles flying overhead, being tortured by a sodding goblin.
He pulled with all his might against the bindings that held his arms in place. Yet, it was no good, he was stuck fast. At least the soldier ants had stopped eating the jam and as a consequence had stopped eating him. Albert looked down to survey the carnage, using the talon on his left toe he scratched an itch that had been developing on the sole of his right foot. His feet were moving with a surprising amount of freedom, he thought.
Albert wriggled his feet some more, it was definitely not his imagination, the bindings around his ankles were loosening. Soon enough he had freed his feet. Albert heaved and pulled, using the bindings around his arms for leverage, but his stomach muscles were so out of shape and his joints so inflexible thanks to years of space flight, that it was all he could do to get his knees up to his chest before fatigue took hold, there was no way he’d be able to reach the knots at his wrists to free himself completely.
Then Albert had the kind of thought that can only come about as a result of absolute desperation. Squeezing hard against the ropes he reached out with his left foot and managed to grab the handle of the green goblin’s paintbrush. Then, once more using the bindings as leverage, he hauled his feet into the air, twisting to one side, with surprising precision he dropped the brush, bristle end down onto his left wrist.
The jam covered paintbrush landed messily onto the rope before toppling over. In a matter of seconds Albert felt the telltale sting of the soldier ants, biting ferociously into his hand and arm. This time though the bites were warmly received by Albert.
Keeping a watchful eye on his surroundings, Albert started pulling and tugging against the rope. Nothing happened, it was beginning to look as though Albert’s ruse had failed as his arm stayed rigidly in place.
Albert heard a noise off in the undergrowth. Eyes bulging, sweat beading on his brow, muscles tightening, he started to panic. He didn’t have the faintest idea who Dale Harden or Vimto were. He was pretty sure though that his captor was not about to believe him and suddenly let him go. He pulled harder than ever at the ropes, they weren’t budging.
Suddenly, his green tormentor appeared, “aeyiiiiiiiiiiiiiii,” shouted the goblin as he stormed towards Albert, a look of hatred in his eyes.