There’s nobody at all coming to see to my supper anymore, the girl that brought my lunch (a stale cheese sandwich again) said it was because of the curfew. I said, Oh the quarantine and she said, Oh no, not that anymore so I said Oh, is the virus over then, and she said Oh no, far from it, but that’s not what the curfew is for now, and I looked at her and wondered if they’d all lost their marbles.
She said it’s Marshall law out there now and I smiled at that, I used to know a nice girl by the name of Marshall, can’t recall where from mind you, but anyway then I realized she meant martial law when she showed me her arm. Great big bruise there was, she said it was from a rubber bullet. Seems to me they’re getting senile young these days and I wonder where it will all end.
Then she starts telling me about piles of bricks everywhere, and I’m wondering where this is going because it makes no sense to me. She says some people say there are piles of bricks appearing everywhere, but she can’t be sure, she said, because lots of other people are saying there aren’t any piles of bricks at all, and I’m thinking, who the hell cares so much about piles of bricks anyway? Then she looks at me as if I’m the daft one.
It’s a pity we don’t see piles of decent food appearing, I said, instead of bricks, looking pointedly at the cheese sandwich. She said, Think yourself lucky, with what can only be described as a dark look.
I thought I’d change the subject, as we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, and asked her if she’d be kind enough to pick me up some embroidery thread on her way past the emporium, and she made a peculiar noise and said Aint no shops open, they’re all boarded up. I was about to ask why, and she must have read my mind because she said, Riots, that’s why.
It’s a good job my hip’s so much better now that the weather’s dry, because I’m going to have to make my escape soon and see what the hell’s going on out there.
“I knew it!” Tara had gone to investigate early, disguised as an elderly jogger in a velvet teal jogging. “Seemed clear enough that that retirement home was a front…”
Later when she came back to the office, she was quizzed by Star, who was still yawning despite the bright sunlight.
“So tell me, a front for what?”
“Can’t you guess?” Tara said, removing her false teeth.
“Nooo?” her hand flew at Star’s mouth and incredulous face.
“Yes, hmm-hmm; you guessed right: a time travel agency.”
“Oh dangit, they stole my idea! After all the virus pandemic thing, they sure know how to surf the crisis to make a buck. The buying carrots alibi traffic, and now that!”
“Yep, guess that people unable to go anywhere for holidays make up for a good clientele. You can imagine the slogans: Celerity: Why go anywhere? When we can send you anywhen! “
“And a convenient way of disposing of nosy people too. I hope they didn’t send Uncle Basil to the Dinosaurs, can’t imagine the stench of those Time sewers.”
“Oh no, don’t think he was affluent enough, you see. Apparently you pay by the time meter. The further in time, the pricier. And I guess the surest way to dispose of someone would be in the past rather than in the future…”
“So Uncle Basil is in the past!”
“Well, I could have told you that from the start. No wonder Mr French paid us in advance then, he already knew we’d crack that case. Our first case’s closed, dear! If Mr French ever wakes up and calls, we’ll just redirect him to our Time Dragglers friends in Marseille for their ‘relative lost in time’ retrieval package. Now, anyone for mojitos?”
I’ve been up since god knows what time. Got up for the loo and couldn’t face going back to the awful nightmares. That girl that came yesterday said she’d been having nightmares, she said it was common now, people having nightmares, what with the quarantine. I think I might have just snorted at the silly girl, but when I woke up last night I wondered if it was true. Or maybe I’m just a suggestible old fool.
Anyway, I stayed up because lord knows I don’t want to be in a city in America at night, not waking and not dreaming either. I’ve had a feeling for a long time, and much longer than this virus, that it was like a horror movie and it would behoove me not to watch it anymore or I’d be having nightmares. I didn’t stop watching though, sort of a horrified fascination, like I’d watched this far so why stop now.
In the dream I was on a dark city street at a bus stop, it was night time and the lights were bright in a shop window on the other side of the sidewalk. I had a bunch of tickets in my hand all stapled together, but they were indecipherable. I had no idea where I was going or how to get there. Then I noticed the man that was by my side, a stranger that seemed to have latched on to me, had stolen all my tickets and replaced them with the rolled up used ticket stubs. I made him give me back my tickets but then I knew I couldn’t trust him.
Then I realized I hadn’t finished packing properly and only had a ragged orange towel with bloodstains on it. So I go back home (I say home but I don’t know what house it was) to pack my bags properly, and find a stack of nice new black towels, and replace the bloody orange one.
I’m walking around the house, wondering what else I should pack, and one room leads into another, and then another, and then another, in a sort of spiral direction (highly improbable because you’d have ended up back in the same room, in real life) and then I found a lovely room and thought to myself, What a nice room! You’d never have known it was there because it wasn’t on the way to anywhere and didn’t seem to have a function as a room.
It was familiar and I remembered I’d been there before, in another dream, years ago. It had lovely furniture in it, big old polished wooden pieces, but not cluttered, the room was white and bright and spacious. Lovely big old bureau on one wall, I remember that piece quite clearly. Not a speck of dust on it and the lovely dark sheen of ancient polished oak.
Anyway in the dream I didn’t take anything from the room, and probably should have just stayed there but the next thing I know, I’m in a car with my mother and she races off down the fast lane of an empty motorway. I’m thinking, surely she doesn’t know how to take me where I have to go? She seemed so confident, so out of character the way she was driving.
I got up for the loo and all I kept thinking about was that awful scene in the city street, which admittedly doesn’t sound that bad. I won’t bother telling the girl about it when she comes to do my breakfast, it loses a little in the telling, I think.
But the more I think about that lovely room at the end of the spiral of rooms, the more I’m trying to wrack my brains to remember where I’ve seen that room before. I’ve half a mind to go back there and open that dark oak bureau and see what’s inside.JibParticipant
Helle Jorid, my Whale friend.
I dreamt I sailed on one of those ancient ships made of wood with no engine other than the wind and man power.
In the dream we were very few and not all there by choice. Chased after by some kind of police force we, a motley bunch of people found ourselves on that ship by chance. I saw one man on the dock pass by and cut the big rope that held the ship still.
As the rope limply hanged from the mooring post, I watched the ship being guided away by the backwash from its mooring place to the ocean. At that moment someone wanted to disembark and I heard myself say : In your dreams! It’s too late we’re on the open sea now.
I think someone mentioned a captain Cook, but I’m not sure as I never saw the guy. Maybe it was merely a cook, but did we really need it? As I went deeper into the ship I found a wonderful meeting room with all the technological comfort of TV sets embedded in the walls and loads of electrical plugs at the end of mechanical arms coming out of these same walls. Surely there were microwave oven and tons of dehydrated food.
But our attention was still on the discovery of the treasures hidden in the heart of that ship. There was a circular sofa set around a nice coffee table. And we all settled comfortably there for a get together, happy we had escaped and seemed safe. None of us thought one second about where the wind and the gulf stream were taking us. I guess anywhere was better than what those men had in store for us.
I woke up. Alone at night. It was dark. My heart was pounding. Is that how we feel when we are in a lock down? I almost wrote placed under house arrest. What’s the difference apart the name to make us think it’s different?
Was the ship the symbol of our longing for freedom? It’s still the same place moving around on water. Even if the place move around, we can’t move away from it and from the flatness of the ocean. I wonder. I wonder if I stayed longer in that dream what would have happened? A storm? An interesting encounter? Like a whale. How would I know unless I write the rest of the story?
“That’s right,” Rosamund nodded enthusiastically. “Anti-vegan vaxxer and she don’t eat nothing with no eyes either. She drives Mum bloody mental going on about how the animals have got souls while Mum’s trying to enjoy a nice baccy fry up. Mum calls her Aunt Moanie.”
Star smirked. “Other than his obvious attributes?”
“You mean the fella with the voice like a bloody angel?” asked Rosamund, spitting an olive onto Tara’s sleeve. Tara swore under her breath as the olive bounced to the floor. Fortunately there was no mark; it was a new blouse and had cost Tara an arm and a leg. Worth the investment, she had reasoned at the time. One must look the part. And clearly, her Moulin Rouge ensemble wasn’t a good look for a Professional Investigator, even with fishnets and a feather boa.
“He cancelled his appointment but he paid the, quite frankly exorbitant, deposit we asked for,” said Star. “He’s going to email us the rest of the details. Do we need to know more that that?”
“Well, I’ve been doing a search and there is nothing anywhere online about him, or his world famous melodious voice. I suggest we pay this Mr French a visit.”
“Oh bloody awesome!” Rosamund leapt to her feet and pizza boxes went flying. “Oops, sorry about that. I’ll clean it soon as we get back.”
“You should get the app if you’re so damn impatient!” finally snapped April who had watched a video on how to stop being a crowd pleaser and start asserting herself. Might as well be with June, as she was the kind of bossy britches who would let the light shine anywhere else than on herself.
June looked at her and raised an eyebrow. “Good, you’re learning from our dear Pdt Lump, be yourself. Have you tweeted it already?”
“Why do you always have to make everything a political statement?”
“Because everything is, dear! Don’t get me started on that… Look, I think that’s our driver! Whoohooo!” She waved at him in an outrageous fashion.
“Stop that! Or we’ll have to find another ride, or worse, get assaulted!” The driver did actually look a little bit started by the two in their matching red tracksuits. They had a street dance planned with the Chinese maids from the Chinese Embassy where the party was planned during the time it was empty, due to Chinese New Year.
“Anyway, I hope the kid is going to be fine.” April sighed a little concerned.
“Oh don’t worry about that, what could happen, really? Let’s enjoy our Friday night out, shall we.”
We finally figured out what was wrong with everyone, making us all lounge around for weeks on end, or maybe it was months, god knows it went on for a lot longer than our usual bored listless spells. Barely a word passed anyone’s lips for days at a time, and not a great deal of food either. None of us had the will to cook after awhile, and when the hunger pangs roused us, we’d shuffle into the kitchen and shovel down whatever was at hand. A wedge of raw cabbage, or a few spoonfuls of flour, once all the packets of biscuits and crisps had gone, and the pies out of the freezer.
Finley seemed to cope better than anyone, although not up to her usual standard. But she managed to feed the animals and water the tomatoes occasionally, and was good at suggesting improvisations, when the toilet paper ran out for example. The lethargy and slow wittedness of us all was probably remarkable, but we were far too disinterested in everything to notice at the time.
To be honest, it would all be a blank if I hadn’t found that my portable telephone contraption had been taking videos randomly throughout the tedious weeks. It was unsettling to say the least, looking at those, I can tell you.
It started to ease off, slowly: I’d suddenly find myself throwing the ball for the dog, picking up the camera because something caught my eye, I even had a shower one day. I noticed the others now and then seemed to take an interest in something, briefly. We all needed to lie down for a few hours to recover, but we’re all back to normal now. Well I say normal.
Finly looked at some news one day, and it wasn’t just us that had the Etruscan flu, it had been a pandemic. There had hardly been any news for months because nobody could be bothered to do it, and anyway, nothing had happened anywhere. Everyone all over the world was just lounging around, not saying anything and barely eating, not showering, not doing laundry, not traveling anywhere.
And you know what the funny thing is? It’s like a garden of Eden out there now, air quality clean as a whistle, the right weather in all the right places, it’s like a miracle.
And everyone’s slowed down, I mean speeded up since the flu, but slower than before, less frantic. Just sitting on the porch breathing the lovely air and thinking what a fine day it is.
One good thing is that we’re taking showers regularly again.
“Don’t you want to stay a little longer here?” Vincentius said to Arona after his bath in the hot springs of the Doline. Arona’s attention was caught by the dripping drops of water on the chiseled muscles, and took a while to answer.
She stretched lazily on the deck chair, slightly disturbing Mandrake who was napping by her side. He rolled on his side and resumed his nap.
“I don’t know, the place is nice enough. To speak true, it lacks a bit in decor and natural light; still… you wouldn’t find a nicer place to rest. Look at this white sandy beach… And to think that this pool connects to virtually anywhere, anywhen. Endless opportunities of explorations and travels are drawing you towards an adventure, don’t you think.”
“I think I only live to please you, just say the word, and I’ll follow you anywhere.”
“Aw, you’ve always been good at sweet-talking me. Don’t get me wrong, I like our occasional flings… for lack of a better word, but I like my independence. I have to keep exploring myself.”
Seeing a sadness fleeting in his eyes, she added “if only to meet you again and again.”
Hidden in a blinking pixel of the monitor of the cash register, Granola was looking at the scene and the silent tempest of incomprehension brewing inside Jerk’s head.
“Funny,” she thought “that they’d call that a dead pixel… Haven’t felt more blinky in a long while!… But let’s not get carried away.” It tended to have her stray in parallel reality, and lose her way there while making it difficult to reinsert inside the scenes of the current show.
“Let’s not get carried away.” She admonished herself again.
Her position in the pixel was a great finding. She could easily spy on all what happened in the shop, and if she wanted, zoom in through the internet cables, and find herself teleported to almost anywhere, but better still, in sequential time. Not bumping and hopping around haplessly inside mixed up frames of times. Aaah sequential time, she wouldn’t have known to miss it as much while she was corporeal.
“If I knew Morse code, I could probably send Jerk a message…” she felt quite tiny. Is a pixel better than a squishy giraffe?
“I must get that monitor checked” the voice of Jerk said aloud. “That screen is going to die on me anytime, and I’ll be fired if I can’t cash in for a day.”
Granola couldn’t blame him for the lack of imagination. How often she’d taken the electronic mishaps as bad luck rather as inspiring messages from the Great Beyond.
She stopped blinking for a few bits. It felt almost like holding her breath, if she still had one.
She’d have to upgrade her communications capacities; these four were really in need of a cosmic and comic boost.
The old woman picked up the box of giraffe shaped cookies from the supermarket shelf. She looked at the box wonderingly, bemused at why she’d chosen it. She almost put it back on the shelf, but a couple of tears had rolled off her nose and onto the package. She put it in her basket, sighing. She couldn’t very well put it back on the shelf now, not with her snot all over the box. What did it matter anyway, she thought, sniffing. Now that the Ministry of Transport building had burned down, what did it matter.
“Is everything ok, love?” The old woman looked at the kind expression on the woman’s face, and started to sob. “Oh dear, whatever is the matter?” Maeve asked, noticing the giraffe shaped cookies illustrated on the damp packet.
“It’s the terrible news!” the old woman replied. “The Ministry of Transport! That beautiful old building! Such a testament to man’s ingenuity! Gone, all gone!”
“But it’s not the only one though is it?” replied Maeve, wondering if the old dear was a pew short of a cathedral. “I mean, there are others.”
The old woman pulled her arm sharply away from Maeve’s gentle hand on her shoulder and glared at her.
“How dare you say that! There’s nothing like it, anywhere!” and she strode off up the aisle, angry steps making a rat tat tat on the polished floor. Her outrage was such that she forgot to pay for the giraffe shaped cookies, and marched right out of the store.
Jerk, who was watching from a security spying monitor, sighed, and heaved himself out of his seat. The one thing he hated the most about his job was apprehending decrepit old shoplifters. I bet she smells of cat wee and rancid cooking fat, he mumbled under his breath.
“Oh hello, Jerk!” Maeve intercepted him on his route to the main doors in pursuit of the aged thief, noticing his disgruntled expression. “What’s up, you’re not upset about the Ministry of Transport building too, are you?”
Nonplussed, Jerk stopped for a moment to consider the unexpected question, giving the elderly shoplifter time to hop on a bus (that symbol of man’s ingenuity) and make her escape.
“I think he’s dealing with those hooligan birds,” remarked Godfrey helpfully, “He’d made a carved decoy, free standing and heavy.”
The voice of a dog stopped the conversation, a talking dog. “It’s alright. The sadness was just a dream.”
There was a knock at the door. It was a tentative knock, 3 small taps really, and It would have been easy to miss if Glynnis and Eleri had not lapsed into an uncomfortable silence and now sat glowering at each other across the kitchen table.
They turned their heads towards the door in alarm, differences forgotten in light of this new threat. Nobody had knocked on the door of the cottage in the woods for such a long time.
Glynis went to the window by the front door and peeped out.
“It’s an old lady,” she said in surprise
“Could be a trick! Don’t answer it! What’s an old lady doing in the forest this hour of the evening? That’s too strange.”
“Well, I sense danger actually,” said Eleri haughtily but she stood aside and Glynis opened the door carefully, just a few inches at first, peeping out through the gap while Eleri hovered anxiously behind her. A plump little lady wearing a crinkly blue suit and a hat with a bird’s feather on it stood on the front step.
“Hello, can I help you?” said Glynis
“Hello dear, I was starting to think nobody was home. Is this where Margoritt lives? I do hope I have the right place. I have come such a long way.”
“I’m her sister, Muriel, from the North. I’m sure she must have spoken of me. Do let me in, dears. It is icy cold out here. And I think I may be having one of my turns because your lovely wee house is looking ever so twinkly. It’s the migraine you know … they get me in the head ever so badly now and then. It’s the stress of the long journey I think ….”
“I am not sure where my case is … I left it in the forest I think. Perhaps one of you young things could find it for me. It was getting ever so heavy. Now, tell me your names and then if someone could make me a nice hot cup of tea, and one for themselves of course!” She laughed brightly and Glynis and Eleri joined in though they weren’t sure why. “And perhaps you could get me a wool blanket for my knees and I expect after a good sleep I’ll be right as rain.” She looked around the cottage with a small frown. “I can see I have come to the right place. I’d know my sister’s tastes anywhere.”
“Oh, I don’t know, I just said that to grab your attention for a minute.” Godfrey smiled from the corner of his mouth.
Liz’ could not think of something to say, suddenly noticing with amazing details the tense silence, and the small gathered crowd of people looking at her in a mix of face expressions. A scene from her last hospitalisation came back to her, and the horror of trying to seem sane and not utter anything strange to those so-called experts, who were gauging her sanity like hyenas laughing around a tentfull of human snacks.
“You have my full attention.” she heard herself say unexpectedly.
“That’s really the first step in rehabilitation” the doctor opined with a pleased smile.
“Did, did I relapse again?”
“I think I got lost in the story’s threads again…” Liz’ felt like a little girl being berated by the teacher again, and by her mother for not standing for herself.
“Yeah, it’s a bit of a dumpster…” Haki said snarkily, to which Liz quickly replied mentally “go away, you’re just a character, I fired you many threads ago.”
Felicity took a reprieve from her observation post ogling the gardener’s backside, on the guise of bird-watching, and snickered “told you it wasn’t going to go anywhere.”
“Hold on” Godfrey stopped her in a conciliatory tone. “your attitude isn’t really helping Felicity. And Liz sharing her dream recall is a good thing, honestly, we could all do with a bit of getting in touch with our magical self.”
“Oh, I’ve had enough of this loads of bollocks” Felicity said, and she packed and left for good.
“That was a bit abrupt ending, but I like it” opined Godfrey at second reading. “Actually like it better than the version where she jumps through the window, probably pushed by the maid she criticized about the hair in the pea soup.”
“That’s about as magical as I can muster for now, Godfrey, give me time.” Liz smiled relieved that the mummy ordeal was behind her. “Fuck murmality” she smiled impishly, “let’s start a new fantasy thread.”
“With dragons in it?” Godfrey’s eyes were beaming.
“Oh, you and your damned dragons…”
Final nail in the coffin, indeed.
Despite the overwhelmnity of the situation, Ed couldn’t fathom why nobody would take some time to stop and ponder on the incoherences, the gaps in the net, so to speak.
It behooved him to do so. The deranged cackler, like a mockery of the divine breath, ruling over the bizarro earth he had been sworn to protect — it had to be stopped.
But where was the elusive cackler hiding, he would seemed to appear anywhere and everywhere. And what to make of those cases of mistaken identities, or all the althreadnarrative-realities jumping. The occurrences were piling up. He couldn’t even seem to count on assembling his old fierce Surge Team. All gone bizarro too.
Pouring over his copious notes, he remembered how it all started. The strange case of Baked Bean Bea.
She seemed to have breached through, and quite frankly shattered in all likelihood some old reality limitation, and somehow, she now was able to unwittingly shape the world to new strange alternate realities at her every whims.
He painfully tried to recall, what he was, who he had been in the course of the last months. Blaze, his old genius inventor friend had left him some device, a transfocal whatever thingy. Usually it would change shapes as well, reconfigure itself with each realities. But its function was more or less the same. Reconnect him to his previous alternate realities. Which was handy, when you couldn’t even trust the notes you took. Obviously Bea wasn’t Baked Bean Bea before… or was she?
Now the Transfocal Thingy seemed to have relocated in the bathroom. The shower head with the wires seemed a bit of a giveaway.
Ed put on the water.
Dispersee sat on a fallen tree trunk, lost in thought. A long walk in the woods had seemed just the ticket to release her from her turbulent thoughts, but alas, she had been unable to stop thinking about the ramifications of the new message from the popular ghost.
At first she had been delighted to see it. She had agreed with it. But then she wondered why. Because she already knew all this, and in fact, it was information that could so readily be gleaned by anyone at all simply by engaging ordinary common sense, and run of the mill human compassion. Nothing esoteric was needed. No enlightened messages from the great beyond. In fact, she had said the same as the ghost, and on many occasions. The truth of the matter was that one had to be dead these days to be heard. Nobody was interested in the wise words of the living anymore. It could almost be said that nobody was all that interested in living at all: everyone wanted to be in the future, or the past, or in some other dimension, or planet, or not even physically alive at all anywhere. The individuals in the ascension process were particularly infected with this strange disorder: many of the ordinary uninitiated public were already quite well aware of the contents of the message and were already actively engaged in the process. It was as if the interest in so called shifty matters was an obstacle, an ugly carbuncle over the heart.
Dispersee seriously wondered if the whole shift thing had been a good idea. She was beginning to doubt that it was. The alacrity with which people relied on messages from ghosts at the expense of exercising their own powers of deduction and intuition had caused the whole plan to do disastrously wrong. People didn’t even know how to behave like people anymore. Not only were they afraid of other people, afraid of their governments, afraid of their food, of the sun and the water and the very earth itself, they were afraid of their own human responses, or had forgotten them altogether.
Did it really need a ghost to advise people on media propaganda, and remind them to be compassionate to others who were on an incredible journey, an extraordinary movement during these times of change? And more to the point, did Dispersee need to be involved at all in this futile ascension malarkey?
Becky sat looking at the key in her hand long after the others had gone to bed, her mind going over seemingly disjointed images and random memories, trying to piece them all together. Why had Dory sent her, Becky, the key to the detention camp? She wasn’t expected to fly to the island and physically release the detainee’s surely? Should she send it to someone in the area? But who? Or was it more symbolic? But symbolic of what, exactly?
Was it connected to the Imagination Wave? It surely must be, she thought. It must be connected to the surge of story character refugees, looking for a new story.
Becky sighed. There had been such a dearth of imagination during the previous waves that literally countless story refugees had been rounded up and detained, with no new stories available anywhere on the planet. Of course this wasn’t actually true: there were always countless new stories to be told, but the lack of imagination, the sheer lack of will to tell them, had brought the global situation to a dreadful impasse.
We could write them all out of the stories with a rat tat tat of the keyboards, she mused, and immediately cringed at the idea. Any fool can destroy in seconds. Destruction isn’t power, creation is.
Was it a coincidence that the leader of the old story where most of the characters were fleeing from, had the same name as that alien that kept promising to land, but never actually did?
Shaking her head, Becky wondered, not for the first time, if the world population can’t handle a few displaced story characters, what in Glods name would be the reaction to a load of aliens? Still clutching the blue key, Becky went to bed. She would discuss it with the others in the morning.
If anything special about being in the vacuum of space, was that anywhere else than in the pressurized and breathable areas, the silence was deafening, and explosions silent.
With the main galleries under tons of rubble, Godfrey was glad to have followed his instincts with the evacuation. It was an unbelievable miracle that there were so few people down with him at that time.
He could hardly prove whether there actually was a controlled explosion triggered down there, but even without dramatic fires, the effect had been felt all throughout the colony. A few of the most fragile structures had collapsed, but at least most of the security protocols were active, and had allowed people to evacuate without too much damage while sucking the air out to avoid dangerous explosive oxygen leaks.
The medical bay was quite busy now treating the wounded, while everyone remained mostly calm despite the unusualness of the situation. Amazing how the survival training (more like brainwashing) they had before coming here was kicking in, with almost minute and automatic precision.
As the only member of the board of operations in duty, he had to report to the central area, where they would likely debrief about it. When he arrived at the pod, there was already quite a commotion, and quarrelling voices could be heard in the airlock.
“… decently leave like this!”
“ We should listen to…”
“stayed for too long to stop now!”
“plan? no strategy at all!”
“was all written over,…” “failure since the beginning…”
When the airlock finally opened, people continued to speak out of turn without paying much attention to him. Good he thought, that was time people release the pressure and start being honest. Let’s just hope it doesn’t end in a bloodbath.”
He was already stuffed with kale fritters and almost drunk with free kale ale from the buffet when the monitors started displaying the broadcast everyone was apparently waiting for.
As usual, Earthlings are a bit late for the battle. he thought when the familiar face of the broadcaster appeared in the middle of interferences.
“… A wave of Greta rays has been delaying the communication, in conjunction with the super moon retrograde in Spices. We apologize for the inconvenience, as we were not able to warn you of the meteor impact that hit Mars surface a few hours ago.”
Godfrey wasn’t sure this was real, or his kalecohol level hitting his brain, but the science seemed sketchy at best. He struggled to pay more attention.
“Not only the actively increased meteoric warming, but also given the Manta ray pulses from Juice pitcher, we fear all electronic equipment on which the Mars ant colony depends may be fried and lead you very soon to eternal damnation without hope for safe return. Our commercial spacecrafts cannot be risked to save you, so we advise you to pray. This broadcast was brought to you by Dismay Channel.”
Even if Godfrey wasn’t sure everything he heard was completely right, he could tell from the confused face of his colleagues that there would be a hell of a run for your lives to follow.
If only they had anywhere to run to…
“Well, here we all are again!” Liz beamed, after a momentary pause in which she considered snorting. Not finding that snorting was consistent with her mood, notwithstanding the sparkle in the air of anticipated unexpected impishness, she beamed, and beamed again as she looked around the room.
No one spoke. There was a sense of suspended animation for a few moments, or was it longer? A bit like holding ones breath while easing into a hot bath. Or perhaps not a hot bath, thought Liz, delicately mopping the sweat dripping down her cleavage with a paper towel.
Finnley’s sunny beam shifted as she rolled her eyes and replied, “I saw them in a dustbin on Brighton Pier.”
“My god, it’s started already!” Godfrey exclaimed, although he wasn’t at all surpised. “ Have you seen the new dragon tree in the park?”
Bert crept past room 8 again, listening. There it was again, the voice of a woman. How the heck did the dusty old geezer manage to smuggle a woman into his room? It didn’t make sense, there were so few people in the town that a strange woman would have been noticed, someone would have mentioned it. And the woman had a strange accent, Bert couldn’t place it, but it wasn’t an accent he was familiar with. Sounded almost old fashioned, although he couldn’t be sure. His hearing wasn’t so good these days. A foreign woman in town, and not a mention anywhere? No, it didn’t make sense.
Bert had a few jobs to do, but wanted to keep an eye on the door of room 8. Whoever was in there would need to come out to use the bathroom sooner or later. He decided to ask Prune to keep watch while he fed the chickens, Prune would enjoy keeping a secret, and he wanted to keep quiet about his suspicions until he knew a bit more. Nobody would find it odd to see Prune lurking around in a dark corridor.
“Do you not see that satchel o’er yon upon that fine stout table? Do but hand it this way, noble sir.”
Prune pressed her ear to the door and frowned. It was a woman’s voice, but what was she on about?
“Your Grace, I would sit with thee and spake…”.
Her name must be Grace, deduced Prune, wondering why the old dusty bugger was speaking funny as well.
“…..whence I have received from thee the artefact. Get to it, you lay about excuse for a man, I do ha’e me most urgent and important things to apply my considerable value upon.”
What a rude tart, thought Prune, and she hadn’t even paid for a room. She heard no more from inside the room because at that moment Aunt Idle came roaring and crashing down the corridor with the hoover. Prune scuttled off past her and went to find Bert.
“Bert, where’s the fish gone?”
“The flying fish that’s been hanging on the wall all these years, it’s gone,” she said, pointing towards the house with her walking stick.
Open mouthed in astonishment, Prune raced back to the house to check for herself.
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