"We need you to locate the fabled Flamingo Of Infinite Beauty."
It wasn’t a job I’d normally take. The three Holy Grails? Yeah, I found them. The pair of crystal femurs rumoured lost in the Andean mountain collapse of 2115? I tracked that down too. You heard about the man who found Hitler’s moustache, of course? That was me too. I’m a finder. There’s a little archaeology thrown in there – well, you have to put something down on your universal visa or it’s endless questions in the customs oubliette – but history’s less important than cold, hard currency.
But, as I said, this wasn’t the sort of job I’d usually take; these artefacts with odd-sounding names are always trouble. Then again, my clients were usually hypercorporations; you could say no to them safe in the knowledge that their anger or annoyance would be heavily diluted by fifteen meetings, fifty sub-meetings, and ninety analytical findings from the meetings and sub-meetings.
Okay, you got me. I’ve no idea how hypercorporations operate.
Yeah, but this client… this was the government. The government. And they’d been watching the old 2D shows on the Golden Olden Stream, just like me. Fedoras, long coats, shiny shoes, monotone instructions.
"We need you to locate the fabled Flamingo Of Infinite Beauty. It’ll be easy for someone of your reputation."
The government asks so the government gets; isn’t that what a government’s for? Anyway, I asked the usual suspects and read the usual information streams and drew an unusual blank. That’s when I mentioned the case to my tertiary summer husband and he pointed me in the direction of the virtual monks of the Grand Order of Things French. Brother-Sister Osama let spill the secret legend of the Flamingo of Infinite Beauty. Magical ability to cure eye twitches, can foretell the coming of alien ghost zombies, and all that.
Okay, you got me. I wasn’t listening. You’ve heard one tale of mystical, religious object claptrap, you’ve heard them all. All I needed to know was where it was hidden and who had the hiders employed to build their protective traps. I got my answers.
The government said it would be easy. It wasn’t. Ten kilocubes of ice couldn’t bribe my way into The Dune of Fire which turned out to be five clicks outside the South Pole. Stealing the nukie sub from the Samoan Marine Corps cost me three good brutes in the firefight. The blueprint I bartered my home in Tunisia for laid out the path through the Labyrinth of Eternal Night inside the frozen dune. Turned out those high-power torches with their own fuse-generators were a waste of time as the maze was lit perfectly well. Still, at least we hadn’t had to carry them across the icy wastes at the expense of food and water.
Oh no, that’s somebody else I’m thinking of.
Before we could get to the Flamingo of Infinite Beauty we had to avoid the terrifying Spike Pits of Blood. That would have been easier if they had been pits, contained spikes, or there was any blood to identify them by. Instead, we spent five days edging across a vast, enclosed courtyard testing every flagstone before reaching the other side and finding an updated copy of the blueprint where it indicated the pits had been dropped in favour of The Water Feature of Tranquility further on instead.
Four more brutes lost their lives at the water feature.
The Invincible Hell-Beast guarded the entrance to the crypt. We had carried with us two thousand litres of treacle – a strenuous task as you can imagine – in order that we might trap or slow down the guardian to the treasure but, as it turned out, the beast had not been fed for months and had died of starvation. At this point we were near that point ourselves and so cooked the beast in an innovative treacle sauce. The last of my brutes died from food poisoning.
The devious tasks to complete in the Crypt of Deathly Challenges had not been switched on and I was able to finally reach the flamingo relic and make my way back out with no more problems.
Fucking ugly as you can probably guess.