Never Ending Story - Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

"Great", mumbled Raymond, "now the toolkit REALLY needs a clean." And it did. Nobody, however, wanted to clean it, so instead they decided to get a new one. But then they remembered that it wasn't theirs in the first place, it was, in fact, Tony the electrician's toolbox. So they decided to discard it, and get on with life instead. The decision to get on with their lives was the tricky one - they had no idea how to do that in their current location, especially after all they had been through the previous day. Oddy wanted some answers. But so did Raymond. And, as it goes, so did X2.

"So, why were you in the lab when I first landed on you?" Asked Oddy?

X2 refrained from asking "why were you in the lab?" and instead decided to answer. "I'm a chimp, genetically engineered to be small and smart, as a sort of educational pet" X2 snarled at the word 'pet'.

“I see." Oddy didn't seem too convinced. "And you?" He asked, looking at Raymond.

"Well you see", Raymond tried to explain, "I'm a by-product, a failed attempt at creating a super-intelligent human. They kept me in the research station mainly to keep me quiet - they let me out once, after they realised that their tests hadn't worked, but I was captured again. You see it turns out that they did manage to alter my DNA after all, just not in the way they were aiming for."

An awkward silence descended on the trio. Oddy was unsure what to say next. From what he knew of Earth, this man's story, and, indeed, this chimp's, were not the norm. Finally, Raymond asked "So why did you decide to land on us? And how did you do it? You know, get through the walls and that?"

"I told you the universe was falling apart", Oddy tried to explain, "So it was just as simple as flying on a flannel."

"And, just for clarity, why is the Universe falling apart?"

"Weren't you listening?"

"Well, yes." Defended Raymond "But I'm not sure that I completely understood. I gathered that the Universe was dying because there were too few new ideas in the Universe, people aren't thinking for themselves much anymore and this has an awful affect on the Universe. But this sounds like the biggest load of b******s I've ever heard. I must have made it up."

"Well you couldn’t have made it up could you?" remarked Oddy.

"And why not?" asked Raymond.

"I told you, all ideas and imagination are fading and causing the universe to end, this is also why you don’t believe it, you cant imagine such a thing actually happening.

"Still sounds a little iffy,” muttered Raymond. “So what are you doing here Oddy?”

"I, as the most experienced explorer, was sent to the area where imagination, creativity and insight were there least. That turned out, for some reason, to be in the proximity of X2's nose"

There was a brief pause while Oddy looked around his surroundings for the first time this morning. "Where are we, anyway?" He asked.

"Queenstown, New Zealand." Answered X2, "In a hotel. We came here last night, but you probably won't remember."

“I...don’t remember, what on earth happened last night and what is this foul stuff that I keep on throwing from my mouth?”

"It was your nose,” corrected Raymond. "As for the drink, I noticed 2 pints of real ale go your way but after that I lost the ability to count."

"18," interrupted David who of course didn’t and couldn’t drink since he was a straw hat. "Well let’s see," said David, "18 pints, about 12 hours ago, that technically makes you drunk still."

"That might be why I mistook my nose for my mouth, or is it mistook my mouth for my nose? I can’t remember anymore"

David was wrong though it had been 7 pints. However, taking into account Oddy's small stature, he was still very drunk. So drunk in fact, that he could have sworn a straw hat had just spoken to him. He decided to lie down quietly somewhere anyway he had a huge headache. ‘But what about the universe?’ said the small voice of his conscience?

"Kilroy?" The name had come from X2, murmuring as he thought things through. "Kilroy sorts everyone's problems, or at least make them bad enough to persuade them to sort them for themselves. Perhaps we should go get him to sort the universe out."

"Who's Kilroy?" Asked Oddy.

"An entity of the backwaters of day-time television," Raymond said from he chair, "and not a good one either".

"There is something familiar about that name." Muttered Oddy, "Perhaps I have met this 'Kilroy' before?"

"You haven't been to Earth before, have you?" asked Raymond, confused.

"Never." Confirmed Oddy.

"You can't have been intercepting our television either, as you have an imagination."

At that, a number of electronic signals flickered through Oddy's brain, and it came to him. "He's our second most wanted!" He shouted. "We must stop him, before it's too late!"

"Whoa! Hold on a minute you... moon pig." Said Raymond, "Your second most wanted for what?"

"For making the universe so uncreative! He and the others have a LOT to answer for, including those 'Trimscoof corporation' people."

"You know about Kilroy and Trimscoof in the far reaches of the Universe?" Asked X2.

“There is obviously more to it than you are aware of", Oddy explained.

"There certainly is," agreed X2, "and that bloke we met in the field? He was... God?"

"Sort of", said Oddy, suddenly remembering his pent-up rage.

"Sort of?" Repeated X2, "Well, surely, either he is or he isn't?"

"There's this sort of messy thing with belief." Oddy tried to explain. "He's only God to those who think he is - as in and old man who likes a pint. There are people who have other thoughts on the matter."

"So, did he create the Universe?" Asked Raymond, tentatively.

"Er, possibly", Oddy replied, "Sorry, I wasn't there, nor were any of us Firminians. Why do you want to know anyway?"

"Well, I was just wondering whether this whole religion thing was the truth or not." Explained Raymond. "It seems a bit far fetched to me."

"Well look", said Oddy, "another thing you people are always doing is debating religion. Just think what you could accomplish if you stopped arguing about it all the time!"

"Bah!" Proclaimed X2 from the bathroom, "Accomplishments are over rated."

"You see what I have to contend with?" Mumbled Oddy to no one in particular.

Oddy had had enough, and fell back into the chair behind.

Someone is bound to wonder by this point how Oddy, X2 and Raymond were able to afford the hotel room. Unless, of course, they happened to become distracted at that very moment of wonder, by the woman they were sharing a room with. She was sat in one corner of the room on a large red armchair, a bemused smile on her face. Next to the chair was a briefcase; a label was tied to the handle. If you were close enough to see, then you could read the label and discover that the briefcase belonged to one Miss. Partridge.

All night and all day they had failed to notice her, and it was only now, after she had spoken, that the three had realised she was there.

"Um, Oddy, did you know that there was a sixty year old woman knitting a jumper and eavesdropping into what we are saying? Asked Raymond

"Sixty!" Shrieked Janet. "I'm not 60! I'm thirt- no, my age I'll keep to myself, thank you very much."

"Sorry," said Raymond, "I'm rubbish with ages."

"Hmph", replied Miss. Jane Partridge haughtily.

"If you don't mind me asking," ventured X2 from the safety of the bathroom, "how long, and why, have you been sitting there?"

Janet sighed. "You obviously don't remember last night very well now do you? You all must have been more drunk than I suspected."

Raymond, X2 and Oddy stared at each other in a dumb silence. "Erm, OK", said Raymond, looking quite uncomfortable, "what did happen?"

"Well..." began Janet, "I saw you in the pub, ranting on about the end of the universe, and talking to your toolbox. I hear a lot of talk about that in my line of work - the millennium bug, specifically - so I assumed you were attending the conference on it later this week. That's why I'm out here, I'm from Essex. When the toolbox started answering back, however, I started to get suspicious.”

In fact, so did the rest of the pub. Once people saw a talking chimp and a talking... well, lets just say you were the centre of attention. After the three of you had been plied with drink you were becoming more and more convincing, or, rather... interesting. Yes, interesting is more apt, and I was hooked. I asked you where you were staying and none of you seemed to have a clue, or any money. So I offered to buy you a hotel room for the night. I must have been slightly tipsy too. Since I woke up this morning all I've been doing is listening to your story... you should write a book or something."

"No time for that" said Oddy, though weakly, as he was very hung over. "We've a universe to save."

"We?" Questioned X2 and Raymond, in unison.

Oddy corrected himself, using his large amber eyes to read the luggage label. "Well, Miss. Partridge there also of course."

Miss Partridge thought for a minute then said "firstly I buy you the hotel room, then you say that I’m sixty years old and now you want me to save the universe I guess next you want me to give you a hang-over cure."

"Well, if you've got one..." detecting sarcasm was not one of Oddy's strengths.

Janet sighed. "Look," she said, "I happen to be here to make a very important deal which could save this planet's computers and make me very rich. I don't have the time to baby-sit you."

"What are you talking about?" inquired Oddy, still wondering if she was going to produce a hangover cure or not.

"Well boys," said Janet as she stood up, "it's been interesting to know you, it's certainly been the strangest thing I have ever done in my life, but now I've got to go."

"Us too", said Oddy, "with you."

"WHAT!!!!!!" bursted out Janet

"We're coming with you", Oddy said again. He was grinning and therefore showing his pointy green teeth.

Janet was totally in a rage about this, but decided to slip out quietly while the 3 stooges where discussing the matter. Silent was what she hopped, silence was the opposite of what she received, she slip on a banana peel, crashed into the draws which full of metal objects stacked obscenely high, knocking them all over while dropping a bag of marbles she was carrying for no particular reason.

"Right then", said Oddy, "off we go, first to where imagination is at its worst."

Janet couldn't be bothered to argue. Raymond helped her from the floor, and they looked inquiringly at Oddy to tell them where they were meant to be going. "To hell and back if needs be" he elucidated cryptically.

"Well as long as there is a back again", X2 called, still from the bathroom.

While X2 was walking back from the bathroom, Oddy pointed something out, "the human race has a lack of imagination as I have already said, here’s a perfect example, Raymond, walk for me" Raymond pondered for a second, then did what Oddy asked, Oddy stopped him after a while, and said "see, the whole human race walks the same, and since you cant except anything new, if someone does try to do something different, like skipping, he gets beaten up."

"No Oddy," said Jane, "ok we generally all walk but we walk differently." She demonstrated, going for the graceful look, but this was spoilt slightly by a slight limp she had developed from her fall. "The main point I think is that Raymond actually did what you said, without so much as questioning you first."

Oddy considered this for a moment. "That's another thing about you humans", said Oddy, "You spend so much of your time arguing and not actually getting anything done! Well, nothing productive anyway."

"No we don't!" Argued Raymond, before realising that he'd just proved Oddy's point.

Oddy grinned at him. "See what I mean? Shall we go then?"

If you, the dear reader, were, at this point, wondering why Janet Partridge has accepted the idea of meeting an alien and a talking chimp so readily, then fear not, there is a perfectly good explanation for it. I assure you1. Now, back to the hotel room ...

Janet gave up, Raymond and X2 had nowhere to go anyway. "Alright," said Janet, "lets go".

1She was drunk.

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