Never Ending Story - Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

Meanwhile in uncharted backwaters of the universe, a huge fleet of cats were slowly approaching the doomed sector of uncharted space. It was uncharted for a very good reason. The charters had been terrified by what they saw and so fled the area, sans charts, sans hope and, worst of all Sanskrit! There was also the small problem of the curse of the Infinite Necromancers, but that’s a minor technicality. The fleet was equipped with the best weapons any purring commander could ever wish for... but something was missing. Everyone aboard had known the fact, but silently, very silently. That missing something, as everyone aboard silently knew, was very critical!

The reason that everyone was so silent was that the thing that was missing (and of critical importance) was air. Subsequently there were no survivors of the great cat fleet. Some cried. Most didn't. But as obvious as it was… it was certainly horrid to see all these cats fade away. Or rather, it would have been if anyone had been around to see it. Such is the state of the Universe today, not many people visit uncharted places anymore, especially the uncharted research station somewhere in deepest, darkest Essex.

Come to think of it, the things that were 'uncharted' were beginning to add up. A fact that there was one crucial factor that linked them all together. Unfortunately, the only people in the Universe that were anywhere near to finding out were the great cat fleet, and even they were over 40K hyperkilometers1 away. So it was even more inconsequential when combined with the fact that they had all perished earlier.

Fortunately the inconsequentiality engine (still powered by Schrodinger's cat in a box) meant that the cats could well be alive, no-one would know until they reached them and made contact. Sadly, the only person close enough to make contact was God, and he didn't care much anyway. Presently, he was on his way out of this uncharted backwater of the Universe in a converted metaphor2, and was having a little trouble with the steering. God only knows why he didn’t buy a simile, they’re much easier to run, especially the German ones. However, it was not important that some were close to finding out the secrets of uncharted areas, as the inhabitants of an uncharted planet (known to the locals as Firminia)3 already knew, and they were small and furry with large amber eyes4.

What these inhabitants knew was this: not many people visited uncharted places anymore because across the entirety of the Universe, people were becoming less and less imaginative. People were buying Tom Clancy books, for god's sake. A metaphysical field protected their own planet - it only existed if the visitor was capable of imagining that it was there. Consequently, it remained uncharted.

What the small furry creatures really wanted was a great, adventurous explorer to drop by one day, on a Tuesday maybe. They wanted an explorer of the old kind, fearless through stupidity rather than bravery. Such an explorer never came, and eventually they tired of waiting and went off to explore the universe themselves. They sent four explorers, each to a different corner of the Universe, each with a mission to uncover why imagination, fascination and general creativity was disappearing from the stars; and to see what could be done about it.

The Western spiral arm was assigned to the freaky little Firminian called Oddy. Oddy wasn't a particularly skilled at landing similes, which was why he had chosen a green flannel to travel the length and breadth of the Universe on. Another reason was that he felt like a shark on it. Oddy was very imaginative. However, landing on X2's nose had perhaps not been the best decision to make. The chimp was snoring. Oddy picked up his phone and dialled what he thought to be HQ for the summery report, but got the wrong number and ended up phoning a pizza delivery company somewhere south of London. A secret government department recorded the message though they couldn't understand a word of the conversation. However, they were able to trace the caller to the West Laboratory of their genetic engineering project.

Oddy looked around. He was in a cage, with a human5 and a chimp. Hmm, he pondered. Within seconds he had chewed his way through the bars and was off, running down the corridors. He knew he shouldn’t have come here. In all of the confusion, he had forgotten his flannel. The chimp picked the flannel of its face and looked enquiringly at its companion.

"What was all that about?" asked Raymond.

"Not too sure, old chum" replied X2, "but as the cage is open, shall we escape?"

"I'm game", Raymond replied as he picked up chimp and flannel and made for the exit.

The pair were on the run for 24 minutes before the lab technicians got bored of looking for them and went to the pub. Unfortunately, that was exactly where Raymond and X2 had chosen to hide, but, fortunately enough, they were hidden.

Apparently, X2's instincts suggested that they cover themselves in flour and carry large broomsticks around. This was exactly what they did... and would of most likely of lead to their discovery if the landlord hadn't of thrown them out for making such a mess a couple of minutes before the lab technicians arrived. Flour footprints followed then as they rushed to find a new place to hide. This time, there were no instincts, and X2 felt something was slowly fading away, silently though.

"Darn it! I hate 'somethings'!" it wailed.

"Wha...???" Raymond was a bit taken by surprise.

This time the 'something' was their chance of escape. A human and a small talking and hat wearing chimp covered in flour and holding mops don't look in the least bit inconspicuous when running down the high street.

Something that isn't of any importance of the moment but is interesting to know is that while the cat fleet was travelling through space they travelled through an area that was in a once in a lifetime position, in every 5º angle there was a black hole in every direction, this caused all the singularities from each black hole to combine in a giant ray aimed into a single point, this created a sound wave only wormhole, and in this other universe they where filming a movie, and a voice from it came through to the cats world as they flew over the wormhole which just closed and the sound wave just reached them, this sound wave was later translated and it was discovered to be the highest level of mathematics, this gave the cats universe a great advantage, but if the cats die, all will lost...

The fact that the lab technicians still hadn’t sighted them demonstrates the limited intelligence of the kind that were chasing them – they had managed to get very drunk before they resumed their search, and it didn't help that they had tied their shoe laces together as part of an obscure drinking game 6. As he was running, Raymond was also waving his hand about in a futile attempt to get a lift from a passing motorist. No one stopped, in his frustration he leapt into the road and in front of a transit van in order to force it to stop. Alas, it didn't. In most situations this would of lead to a fairly stationary and unusually shaped Raymond and chimp. However, possessing a top quality flannel with built in defensive mechanisms and lightning reflexes meant that the future held something much less predictable for them. Apparently, the defence mechanism kicked in just at the last minute to randomly teleport them somewhere.

This somewhere happened to be crocodile pit in a place called Mellow-Stone Park 7. The flannel had a slight fault in its defence system, but at least the pair had the flour washed off. Once again sensing danger, the flannel quickly teleported its new owners to a much safer place - 42 Albrecht Lane, Haversham. Here they were confronted with a familiar sight, only a bit different. There was now a green slimy mean-looking flying fish that was literally flying in front of them.

"Raymond", complained X2, "you've gone and left a flying fish in your pocket again. You know how badly they smell when they explode as they always do an hour or so after they're made." Having said that, the chimp goes on examining other areas, when... BOOOM!!! That fish was made an hour or so ago...

"Well," said Raymond, "they're good for eating pocket fluff, and it's not as if I have a sense of smell." The explosion had been small, but so was X2, who had been propelled backwards while the flannel flew in the opposite direction, eventually settling in a dark corner. A figure loomed from a nearby doorway and caught attention of the dumb creature... and the chimp too.

"Get out of my house!" Yelled Mrs. Joyce. "Now, or I'm phoning the police!" Mrs Joyce had a cold. Raymond (and X2, though he was out of sight under Raymond's jacket) left through the front door. No one noticed the small furry creature that scampered in as the door closed. Mrs Joyce was married to Mr. Joyce who was not your friendly researcher who'd show you around his lab. Oh no, he was in fact an Utrian! Utrians resemble humans, but have a little more intelligence. Human Intelligence currently ranges from 29.95 ON to 99.95 ON 8, whereas Utrians stay consistent at 101.99 ON. Utrians can be distinguished from humans solely by the big patch of fluorescent pink patch on their foreheads. They often wear hats.

Mr. Joyce wasn't in; he was at work 9. However, his work does have some significance here as it means that the front room is a little unusual, apart from the addition of a flannel and small furry creature. Cue unusual assortment of cables and unusually dark corner.

After throwing Raymond out Mrs. Joyce went up stairs for a nice relaxing bath and to play with her favourite rubber duck with a pink patch on its forehead. It wasn't actually a forehead - ducks don't have that. It was the frontal part of the head (Still, it's not a forehead).

Oddy was relieved to find that the tracking device disguised as a wash label on his flannel had worked, but was after his long search getting hungry. He was moments into his search for food when he noticed the television set in the corner. After some careful thought, he managed to turn it on. He was confronted with something called 'Bargain Hunt'... They were showing a man running around shops and arguing for nothing. He thought he'd enjoy the show. But 'cheap as chips' made him feel even hungrier.

David Dickinson's face, however, put him off food altogether. He managed to turn the television off, but was then confronted by a mass of orange cables, giving him an unquenchable need to bite them. A wise Firminian had once told him to follow his instincts…

"Oh, what the heck!" he tells himself as he heads towards the orange cables. He bit. Hard. Something went inside of him. He needed that bite. He bit even harder, unaware of the electric shock that didn't even bother stirring him. It was the cable! Those orange, juicy cables! His teeth sank down further. The lights blacked out, and shortly afterwards, so did Oddy, but that wasn't a trouble. The trouble lay 100 yards north to where Oddy was standing. A dehydrated mosquito was travelling at a speed of 90 km/h to find its only instrument of survival - blood! Which was odd because World War Two fighter planes generally don't require blood very often 10.

Now completely out of fuel, the mosquito crashed a few metres away from the only electrician with 50 miles. A shard of metal flew up and hit him in the back of the head. 'Ow', said aforementioned electrician, before rubbing his head and driving off to the annual electricians conference, which was currently being held about 50 miles away 11. He failed to notice that another metal shard had sheered off one of the back doors on the transit van, the contents leaving a trail behind him.

Cue a bemused Raymond and X2, still recovering from being thrown out of 42 Albrecht Lane. "Where are we anyway?" asked Raymond.

"Haversham, Milton Keynes" replied X2.

"How do you know that?”

"Oh come on, you know how to read surly", said X2, pointing to the 'welcome to 42 Albrecht Lane Haversham, Milton Keynes' sign. Raymond shot a steely glance at X2, followed by a raised eyebrow.

"So, how did we get here, again?" Raymond said, surprisingly for the first time all day.

“Well, from what I can tell" replied X2. "A small, green flannel... erm, teleported us from in front of a transit van in Essex, to a crocodile pit, then to a house in Milton Keynes."

“ I think it would be a good idea to do something about that flannel,” Raymond decided.

"I agree,” said X2, "Where is it?"

"I thought you had it,” replied Raymond. And so on and so forth, you get the idea 12.

Two hours later the pair had finally decided that the flannel must still be in the house, and had probably been propelled into the corner when the fish had exploded. Now all they had to do was formulate a plan to get themselves back into the house. Funnily enough, at that precise moment, a mobile phone started to ring.

"Answer that, will you?" Asked Raymond.

"It's not mine,” answered X2, "I'm a chimp, I don't need a phone."13

"What about David?"

"No, he hasn't got one either, Raymond. He's a straw had with a daffodil glued to his front." 14

"So where is that ringing coming from?" Looking around them they realised for the first time the large trail that had originated from the electrician's transit van, part of it was a fairly sturdy mobile phone. X2 picked up said phone, and answered it.


"Yes, hello" came a voice, "Tony, it's Mrs Joyce of 42 Albrecht Lane here, I've had a power cut. Can you get round here quick?"

Raymond instantly recognised the voice, and was about to say, "sorry, Tony isn't in at the moment", when he suddenly had a cunning plan, much to the surprise of X2. But this wasn't the main cause of X2's surprise. The main cause was that Raymond was able to recognise her voice even though it was X2 who was actually on the phone to her. X2 pondered not for the first time exactly what line of genetic engineering Raymond was a by-product of, and silently handed the phone over.

"Yes, Mrs Joyce." Raymond assured. "I'm in the area, luckily enough."

"Your voice just changed" questioned Mrs Joyce, "Are you sure you're Tony?"

"I've a cold", Raymond assured. "What an odd question."

“Anyway”, he added, “I'm on my way, I'll be with you in 20 minutes”, while X2 investigated a nearby toolbox. As sure as night follows day, Raymond found all the items needed to transform himself into something vaguely resembling an electrician. It was all laid out in a somewhat messy line, stretching into the distance. X2 had already hopped into the toolbox, and had fallen asleep.

Raymond carefully picked it up, and was off, back the way the pair had come. Staying with electrician tradition, he arrived later than promised. 6 minutes later to be precise. Raymond knocked on the front door.

"Is that you Tony?" called Mrs Joyce.

"It's me" Raymond replied.

"I'm getting ready for the annual researcher's dinner", Mrs Joyce said, "come in, the door's unlocked".

The room was dark. And smelly, apparently, though as we know, Raymond's sense of smell has deserted him long ago. The rest is history. A distinctly red cable previously nibbled by Oddy snapped as Raymond dived across to the flannel. Human, alien, chimp and hi tech flannel were the then confronted with a terrible explosion. As luck would have it, the flannel's defence mechanisms kicked in once again after sensing the danger that the explosion presented. Human, alien, chimp and hi tech flannel simultaneously flicked out of existence.

1Being a backwards part of the universe, many people still refused to use light-years as the standard measurement of extortionately long distances.2Metaphors historically have been used convey a particular message in many different forms, so that the interpreter can deduce the meaning for him or herself. This could be thought of as a method for ideas to travel, as they cause the reader to think rather than just simply read or listen. An advanced metaphysical being can therefore use this concept to develop specially converted metaphors as an effective, if hard to control (due to the improbability of different interpretations), mode of transport.3Well, at least on Tuesdays, anyway.4Not, of course, forgetting the sharp green teeth5Well, sort of.6This was a game made up by people with limited imagination for people with limited imagination. The aim is to tie your shoelace to that of the person next to you. If you succeed then you definitely aren’t drunk enough, and so have to drink some more. The game is supposed to end once everyone’s shoelaces are in an absolute tangle, but usually it ends with everyone in a heap on the floor.7This isn’t actually the name of the park. The park’s real identity has not been disclosed for legal reasons.8Over Neurotics, a unit to measure intelligence9Well, in the pub.10It can, however, be explained quite simply. ‘Blood’ is the unimaginative new name of a specialist antique aircraft fuel company. 11Some people may wonder at this point why the electrician was 50 miles away when the conference was ‘currently being held’. However, the electrician despite appearances wasn’t actually late, well, not really anyway. Electricians, plumbers, washing machine repair specialists – the lot – all have a tradition; a tradition of being ‘late’. They always turn up later than they say they will, though not so long afterwards that you phone up head office to complain. Therefore, in the case of the electrician’s conference, the start time given to all those involved was in fact an hour and three quarters later than when it was actually due to start. That way, everyone turned up at the right time (apart from the few revolutionaries who insist on being early, that is).
In case you don’t, which highly improbable but never the less quite likely, Raymond and X2 discussed the whereabouts of the flannel for the next 2 hours.
12In case you don’t, which highly improbable but never the less quite likely, Raymond and X2 discussed the whereabouts of the flannel for the next 2 hours.13This, of course isn’t an entirely accurate statement. Most chimps don’t need a phone as their inability to talk makes the whole affair rather pointless. However, X2 could talk, could have needed a phone, though he didn’t. The real reason for this was that his only friend until earlier on that day was an inhabitant of the same cage.14Straw hats definitely don’t need mobile phones, though the thought of how they would ever manage to dial the number is quite interesting.

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