I suppose, on panties, we really should have expected panties. The panties had spent panties panties getting panties panties panties panties panties panties -

I'm sorry, I'll start again.

I suppose, on reflection, we really should have expected this. The captain had spent most of the night getting completely blitzed on the vodka we were supposed to be taking to Moscow. Plus our ship hadn't been inspected lately. Plus we were in the territory of the giant killer fish of the Mid-Atlantic. Plus I sort of accidentally blew a big hole in the hull one day while I was playing with some cherry bombs and wandered off, hoping no-one would notice. But I can honestly say I was surprised when the ship began to sink.

The captain had insisted he go down with the vessel. Or at least, that's what I assume he was screaming after we strapped him to his bunk and locked his cabin door. There was only one lifeboat, you see, and ten people on the crew. A fight broke out between Keith and The Badger trying to get into the thing, so me and Roger and Fluffy kind of nicked the boat and paddled away while everyone was distracted.

So there we were, the three of us stranded in the middle of the sea in a tiny lifeboat with minimal food and water supplies. Our beards were growing merrily, and the atmosphere was tense. When the food ran out, no-one spoke for a day and a half, too scared to make the obvious suggestion. Finally, Fluffy spoke up.

"Look, lads," he said nervously. "We're out of food, we're miles from land, and it could be a long time before we're found. So ... I think we should face the possibility that in order for the rest of us to survive, one of us has to make the sacrifice."

"How on earth can we decide that?" moaned Roger.

"Well, basically, I decided it like this. I was second mate, and you two weren't. Therefore I order one of you two to kill themselves."

We just stared at him.

"Alright, alright," he said eventually. "We'll decide this properly. How about Paper Scissors Stone?"

"I don't wanna play Paper Scissors Stone with Roger, he cheats," I complained.

"Okay, how about this?" said Roger. "This is an old game we used to play in the dorm at boarding school. Basically we take it in turns to say one word each of a story, and whoever says 'panties' first loses. How about it?"

Fluffy and I exchanged glances. "Fine," he said. "You go first."

Roger nodded, and furrowed his brow. "Right," he said. "My word is 'panties'."

It took a second for it to sink in, but when it did he clapped one hand over his mouth and smacked himself in the head with the other.

Roger lasted a week or two. Neither of us were keen on eating him raw, but when I offered to hold him over my cigarette lighter for a while we decided to risk the salmonella. When he was all gone, his flesh devoured, the marrow sucked from his bones, Fluffy and I cast his remains over the side and sat staring at the floor for another whole day. Finally, when the hunger pains were starting again, Fluffy spoke.

"There," he said.

"Once," I replied.















I paused. Fluffy was clearly a devious opponent.

"Trousers," I said.

The game went on long into the night. Every word was torture to squeeze out, as the word 'panties' dominated both our minds. Sometimes whole hours would pass between words. Our story became romance, then erotica, then adventure, then science fiction, then speculative high fantasy, then erotic speculative high fantasy, then back to romance. As we said enough words to fill two good-sized novels, we found ourselves slipping ever further from consciousness. It was only a matter of time before one of us made the mistake.

"Then," said Fluffy.

"Pa - she," I said.




"Pant - and,"



"P - All,"






A low moan escaped my mouth as I realised what I had said. My eyes screwed shut. Hot, salty tears slipped down my face. I tried to look up, but couldn't. I just told Fluffy that I accepted my fate, and begged him to make it quick.

But Fluffy didn't reply.

Because Fluffy had died of salmonella poisoning.

When they found me, weeks later, surrounded in Fluffy's remains and endlessly chanting the word 'panties' like a mantra, they took me straight to a hospital on the Canary Islands. They treated my disease, fixed my weakened muscles, and, with patient tuition, taught me how to say other words. I thought the nightmare was over. I thought I was safe. That was until I overheard one of the nurses telling a colleague about the pink panties her boyfriend had bought her.

So I ate her.

Because she said 'panties'.

She lost the game. It was her fault. She said 'panties'.

As I said to the judge, "Panties panties panties not panties guilty panties panties panties your panties honour panties panties panties panties panties panties panties panties."

They keep me in a padded cell now.

And they never say panties.

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