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....