Bob slipped back into the living world like a alcoholic cat burglar, woozy and disoriented and liable to fall off the edge.
Rubbing sleep from his eyes, he massaged his numb legs and scratched his head.
'Something's wrong with this picture', he decided, but what? His wounds had closed up, that much was obvious, but there was something else. He only realised it when the nurse came in with fresh sheets.
"THREE!!! OHMIGOD! He's got THREE!!! - DOCTOR!" and fled from the ward screaming.
Perplexed, he rubbed his face with his hands. ALL his hands.
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but in Bob's case he had been more than generous.
Bob was stood by the bed-side cabinet when the others all came running in.
As one they stopped and stared.
"uh?.." was all that Jill could muster.
Bob quite calmly poured himself a cup of tea, tipped in some milk and stirred the spoon all at the same time with the relaxed air of someone who is totally at ease with the situation.
The doctor finally arrived after the nurses paniced outburst, elbowed his way to the front.
Adjusting his specs he glanced upward - "now what's all this abou -! ab-b-b-..." he let go of the glasses and they swung down by his neck. the clipboard he carried in his hand clattered to the floor out of his grip as he toppled forward and crumpled to a stop.
"Hi Guys!" said Bob and waved.
This bizarre image snapped Jill back to her senses.
"Bob! - You've got THREE ARMS! - and you're up... and well... breathing!"
"I fell... oka-a-ay" Bob hazzarded a reply.
"You DIED! We were all here. The doctors did everything they could but after all Leicester had done I... they..." she broke down and collapsed into bob who held her tightly.
"I went somewhere... Bob said... it was bright and I was on my back and I felt no pain. I saw a man dressed in red with a flowing white beard."
"Santa Claus?" murmered Jill confused.
"No, no... oh well anyway, I woke up here and something doesn't feel the same and I can't quite put my hands on it." Bob's voice wandered off.
Jill opened her eyes, a momentary look of confusion crossed her features, and unlocking Bob's hands from around her waist she reached down and pryed his other hand off her bottom. She looked up at him and Bob smiled with an amiable wobble from ear to ear.
"Just cos you came back from the dead doesn't mean you can win me over that easily pal!" and stalked off to stand next to the doctor, who was being help up to his feet by Heddingly.
Bob shrugged, which was more humerous than you might imagine...
Heddingly finally found his voice.
"I say! This is beyond mere medicine. We are dealing here with powers that go far beyond what is possible in this world."
"I thought that should have been obvious when we summoned up a demon in the bathroom. I should have known better than to trust that sneak Tim! He very nearly killed us all - AGAIN!" scowled Jill
"oh I don't know..." started Heddingly
"No! I don't want to hear it! shouted Jill, when I see him next, I'll rip his - "
"May I interject?" asked Guy walking into the Ward.
Jill was speechless mid-rant.
"Oh Guy!" - said Bob, "am I glad to see you again!"
"Likewise, as am I." selecting one of his hands to shake.
"Where exactly am I?" asked Bob.
"Of course - you wouldn't remember. You are back at The Agency - we commandered an ambulance and brought you straight here. I've been hearing about your miracle recovery - and a miracle is what it is by all accounts. I have been on the wrong end of one of Leicester's beatings myself. The man is a monster."
"He isn't a man any longer." whispered Bob darkly.
Guy look a bit embarresed but continued..." Sorry I was late I was alas in a meeting but fortune may once again be smiling on us Perhaps this gentleman might be able to explain a few things for you..." he gestured towards the doorway.
The figure standing there was elderly and bore about himself an overly-large raincoat and bowler hat. His hands he held down before him and clutched by the handle what looked like a leather doctor's bag. Realising that he was being introduced - he looked up to finally see the face of The Champion.
"Hello, my name is Richter and I can explain... Everything." proffering a friendly welcoming glove.
Meanwhile A small roadside café cum petrol station off the motorway had become a miniature armed camp. Humvee jeeps with glowering soldiers manning machine guns stood around the perimeter, and in the carpark patrolling grunts barked at each other over the radio and watched the traffic suspiciously. Sharpshooters lined the roof of the small faux-redbrick shop unit and anyone foolish enough to pull in was immediately pulled out and given a cavity search.
The President of the United States was relieving himself.
Behind a cordon of secret service agents, Rasputin kneeled in a grubby, brown-streaked cubicle in the gents toilet. His eyes were clamped shut, and he was fingering a crucifix. He blessed himself hesitantly.
"I'll give you one last chance", he began. "I've been so patient, and so penitent... it's time you answered me. Are you there God? It's me, Rasputin."
No reply. No flash of light, no booming voice, no rapture. Nothing, save for the sound of an agent outside explaining to his partner why they drive on the wrong side of the road over here.
The monk cleared his throat, and continued.
"I've always tried to do what was right, what was Holy. I gave up material things and walked the earth in your name. I walked from Siberia to Greece and back, with nothing but the clothes on my back. Everything I did, I dedicated to you - even when I sinned, I did it for your greater glory - and you never gave me so much as a 'hello'. It was your fault I went down the path of vice, but I don't understand why. What was it all for?"
Nothing but the sound of the motorway.
"Why did you abandon your servant to Hell? What were you thinking? Did you even care? Was I wrong to worship you? Was I ever special in your eyes? And when have you ever given ME anything back?
I'm giving you this one last chance... speak now, or I'll break your little toy, and destroy all your little children."
"Very well then. Have it your way. And I'll have it mine..."
Hauling himself off his knees, Rasputin blessed himself again with a flourish and walked back to the plush interior of the presidential limo.
As the circus lumbered back onto the motorway, he pulled a flaky, fragile old sheaf of parchments from his robe.
'Correkt Operration of thee Dyabolikal Engine - Dr. Alastair Crowley, Inventor'
The monk felt a brief flare of irritation. Al had known how to spell perfectly well, that was typical of his over-eager attempts at baroque-ness.
"Um, sir?" ventured the aide sitting opposite him, with a briefcase hancuffed to his wrist.
"I just got a report from NORAD about possible Indian Navy incursions in Indonesian waters... Secretary Hovis is on the line..."
Rasputin looked up and snarled.
"Shut up, you snivelling little pug, or I'll settle you. What care I if the savages want to scrabble among themselves? Let them kill each other: we'll make friends with the victor."
"Yessir." winced the aide. On the plus side he had to reflect - Foreign policy had become quite refreshingly simple under the new administration, or at least the language had changed.
The President scanned the faded pages of densely written handwriting until the familiar heading caught his eye.
'3-Bar Turn & Twist Anti-Clockwise, w. Apparent Apocalyptic Side Effects, NB: Don't Do This!'
Rasputin began to read, as the convoy trundled closer and closer to Stonehenge.
"So that's it really you see?" finished Richter with an aplomb.
A few slack-jawwed "huh's?" hung in the air.
"Just go over the bit about the end of the world again would you?" prompted Jill.
"Right", said Richter rubbng his hands together - "It goes down like this..."
"There are all sorts of cults and religious zealots dotted all over the world - most are just your local common-or-garden water-melon worshippers and such like. Nearly all have a schematic for describing the ending of the world. It only takes one of them to be right and we are in a whole heap of trouble. I am a member of an elité group who monitor signs as foretold by these cults in a bid to stave off the end of the world."
"I was not aware of this." said Guy - "What is your groups name?"
"The 100,000 Committee."
"The what?" perplexed Jill.
"Oh well we wanted to be known as the Millenium Group; it's full of intrigue you see? Only that was copyrighted to Chris Carter - still we are not bitter."
"I see." said Bob, who didn't. "and where do we all fit in to this?" gesturing in three directions at once.
"Well it was my job to specifically wait for portents of doom in England." explained Richter "Last week - our machines went off the chart - whatever evil has arrived it is here the apocalypse is almost upon us." he finished, head sunk to his chest.
"It has to be Leicester." fumed Jill - Tim had us summon his spirit up in our own bathroom!"
"Mr Guy here, has spoken to me of this man you call Leicester with whom you are all aquainted," he nodded at Bob - "however, I fear he is not The One. Have you by any chance heard of The Ascension of Rasptuin?"
"The Glorious New President of the World, All Hail!" chirped Heddingly who then looked confused.
Richter sighed a small sigh. "Clearly his mind control is strong, and it will grow stronger... take one of these each." and from out of his yellow belt which bore several handy compartments he produced a handful of orange tablets enscribed with what looked like a badly-drawn monkey.
Everyone in the group obediently took the tablet and chomped it. There was a tiny flash and smoke began to gently rise up out of their nostrils.
"hff! cah! Wha? - cough what was that for?" spluttered Bob, producing an aesthetically pleasing series of orange smoke rings.
"See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." muttered Richter as he sat back in his chair. "Your minds have all be unclouded from the Evil - see it now for youself" and reaching for the remote he flicked on the hospital TV.
The news stations were still carrying on their reports of the President of the World's gracious presence in the insignificant island of Britain and his tour of special sites of ancient historical interest.
In replays of the brief speeches he had given begrudgingly to the expectant TV crews it was quite obvious, even through the poor reception of the hospital that the thing that called itself Rasputin was beast surrounded by flame.
"This is what has arrived on the shores," intoned richter.
"If it reaches Stone Henge - we may never be able to stop it."
Bob folded his arms and put his hand in the air.
"Yes?" asked Richter leaning forward slightly.
"Where do I fit into all this?"
"You are the Divine Champion. It says so quite clealy in the all the material we have on this event. That one shall be chosen - a mighty warrior who shall confront the Beast on the presip.. ice of... doo... even as I am saying this I can see there has been a mix up somewhere... Let me check my notes."
Richter began to rifle through a small ring-top bound notepad "Hmmm have you ever died?" He asked after some time had expired..
Bob glanced around nervously."Well almost... I mean yesterday I did... sort of."
"Well that may be it then. Divinity always favours it's champion. I'll admit this particular favouring is... a little bit... odd. Even so - The Lord moves in mysterious ways, does he not?" he ended with a hopeful shrug but then muttered under his breath - "and just sometimes bl**dy incomprehensible ways as well..."and smiled at Bob, who began twiddling his thumbs... all three of them.
Deep in the firey chasms of Hell...
It can be quite difficult to get a good TV reception. So Satan had had a pirate cable linked to a dish in the suburban back garden of the Joneses, who lived in Stoke-on-Trent and subscribed to a digital service. The cable wended its way down the shed, behind the boiler, through thousands of metres of bedrock and into Hell. Because of this Satan got a perfect reception and also committed a minor felony, which he was quite pleased about. Right now the news was not so good, though.
"Look at that," he growled to one of his gibbering minions, flicking a talon towards the TV, where a news report was detailing the Glorious Leader's itinerary.
"Bl**dy upstart. Thinks he can just waltz out of here and cause the Apocalypse without even asking me! I was a fool to have anything to do with him... what am I supposed to do now?"
"Smite him with your terrible anger, your Viciousness!" slavered a creature with the head of a donkey and the body of... a donkey, but a pretty terrifying one. "Your infernal agents are everywhere..."
"Not a bad idea..." mused the fallen angel.
"Let's see... the Monk is currently on a stop-over at the Chelsea Flower Show. Have we got anyone there?"
"What's happening now?" asked Heddingly, squinting at the TV mounted on the wall. "Is that Alan Titchmarsh...?"
The normally-jovial presenter's eyes were blazing red, and he was foaming at the mouth. As the horrified camera crew looked on, he lurched up behind the President and swung at him with a huge pair of hedge-clippers.
The picture went jerky for a moment, and there was a sound of shots being fired and terrified screams from the crowd, then the picture centred on Titchmarsh lying in a large puddle of blood, clawing at the air and snarling, while a Secret Service agent kicked the clippers out of his reach.
Raputin was unharmed, and now he crouched over his assailant's body for a few seconds. His voluminous cloak hid his actions, but there was a loud crack, one last awful scream and then silence.
The anchor observed that it was the first time he had seen anything of that sort.
He then launched into a list of the programmes on that evening, unaware that the evening would probably never come. Celebrity Ready, Steady, Cook was scheduled for 8.00pm, which just shows that every cloud has a silver lining.
Richter was shaking his head gravely.
"I'm afraid nothing can stop him now, unless we can. There are Terrible Powers at work, beyond our understanding. We must set off at once for Stonehenge, there to drive the Beast from this world and save humanity."
"Here here!" shouted Heddingly, slapping his thigh and fumbling in a pocket for his pipe.
"But it is you, Bob, who must stop Rasputin. It is your Destiny"
Bob wrung his hands together. Everyone stifled a laugh.
Just then, a paunchy middle-aged man in tight Lycra poked his head round the door.
"Is it time to say it now, boss? Can I say it?"
Richter smiled indulgently. "Go ahead, Robin. It is time."
Robin grinned delightedly. "Alright!!! Ahem...
TO THE RICHTERMOBILE !
He rather spoiled the effect by coughing hoarsely afterwards, and Jill asked him what the hell he was talking about, but it was still a moment to treasure.