“We’ve an hour to go before the conference,” said Janet, “I suppose we could fit in a few drinks.” At this point she noticed that they were being stared at by a group of hostile looking characters at the next table. "Oddy, X2, I thought I told you to hide!" she scolded.
"We were but the table we were behind kept moving" Oddy replied, a wide eyed stare at a point over Janet’s head. But it was too late, the biggest, meanest looking man Janet had ever seen, rose from the adjacent table and walked menacingly over.
"Haven't you read the notice? No pets, and definitely no aliens." he said threateningly. Quick as a flash, Janet had her stiletto primed and ready, but was held back by the Hippophants nose when he said "Hi Jimbob. You could have said you were going to the pub" while casually swatting the offender.
"You know each other?" asked Janet incredulously.
“He’s been irritating me since he stepped out that ship thing a thousand years ago." Complained the hippophant.
"Shut yer whinin ye beig jessie" Jimbob shouted across the room.
"Are you Welsh?" asked Oddy.
"Shh" Janet said to Oddy, "He looks the type that would kill you with his bare hands, or are they bear hands?"
"He certainly has the height advantage" added Raymond.
"What, over a bear?" Oddy enquired.
“I meant you, but if it was a small bear, then both are accurate."
"Pooh", said X2, "I remember once when me and Rupert was at Paddington........"
" I think we're losing track of the point here" said Janet while evaluating whether the foot tapping Jimbob would be taller than a bear.
"There was a point?" asked X2, confused.
"Tracks, points, Paddington, what's going on here a plot by Rail track?" asked Oddy.
"There was" replied Janet, "I believe that Mr Jimbob and the Hippophant were about to explain how they know each other and why Jimbob irritates the Hippophant" Janet said arms folded with a glowering look on here face at her companions as if to say you dare interrupt this anymore.
"It all started when we were at ballet school together, and Jimbob was going to show me his pas de deux." said Hippophant. "We were very drunk," he added, after a short silence.
"Rubbish" said Jimbob, "it was actually ice skating class and I showed you my triple salko with double entendre. For gods sake Humphrey get the story right if you are going to tell it"
"Anyway it all ended in tears," said Humphrey suddenly getting in touch with his female side.
"Yer too bloody right Humphrey, I was in tears from laughing so much" Jimbob replied rather heartlessly. The hippophant then squashed Jimbob for the second time.
"The trouble with those guys is that they don't want to die," he complained. Humphrey flounced out of the pub, taking most of a gable end with him. Jimbob continued to squirm for a time under Humphrey’s foot, until Humphrey rotated it as though he was stubbing out a cigarette, eventually Jimbob stopped moving.
"Is he dead?" asked Janet.
"I doubt it" moaned Humphrey. "He's taken out gene regeneration insurance, so it doesn't matter how many times I kill him he always re-appears a week later" he moaned.
"He's harder to get rid of than Jehovah’s witnesses," thought Oddy.
"Oy, I'm a Jehovah’s witness," replied X2 because Oddy actually spoke his thought X2 refrained from asking how Oddy new about Jehovah’s witnesses.
It suddenly dawned on Janet, the name of the pub "The Improbability and Firkin,” the pub was a hole in the space-time continuum and was causing all these strange happenings.
"Right everybody shut up" said Janet, "I've got an idea of why all this weird stuff is happening here and I'm trying to think of a solution. And why hasn't anyone got the drinks in?"
"No time left now," complained Oddy, "we've that conference to get to." The pals left the pub, and life returned to a version of normality. In the distance they could see the Existential Arts Centre where the conference was being held ,1 the building shaped like split pea soup with crouton shaped advertisements floating in the top.
"God it looks like something out of the Exorcist" said Oddy. Again X2 refrained from pointing out that Oddy should know nothing about said film. 2
The friends set off towards the Existential Art centre at a brisk run since they were already 10 minutes late for the meeting. Oddy had suggested using the flannel, but Janet pointed out that this would make people a little suspicious. But as they ran the building never seemed to get nearer, even as then increased speed. The hippophant was standing right behind them and cleared his throat.
"It's a lot easier to run without your shoelaces tied together,” he pointed out.
"But stilettos don't have laces" Janet answered.
"My comment was addressed at Raymond there. In your case, it's easier to run without stilettos"
"But how come we are still outside the Improbability and Firkin then?" asked Janet whose face had a look that would make Satan make the sign of the cross.
"Perhaps you should ask Jimbob 3 about that one..." hinted the hippophant.
"It's a mobile pub," explained Jimbob. “At the time it was invented, the number of pub goers was dropping, so somebody came up with the pub that comes to you. It's following you."
"Another thing that reduces imagination" added Oddy.
"It was very hurt when you left suddenly, you'd best say goodbye to it or it will never leave you alone" continued Jimbob eyeing the pub disdainfully.
"Good bye pub", said Raymond, X2, Janet and Oddy, feeling fairly stupid about it as well. The pub walked happily away, safe in the knowledge of a job well done.
"To the conference" said Janet, unable to think of anything more dramatic. And this time as they approached the split pea soup and crouton building, all appeared to be going well.
"Where's the door?" asked X2.
The friends walked all around the building to no avail. It had no door, not even a window, just a sign saying 'Split pea soup and crouton building'. X2 huffed. 'Huff' he said. By a coincidence of vast proportions "Huff" was the voice command, that caused one of the croutons to come down and introduce itself to the friends. The crouton landed on X2's nose, and a little nibble confirmed that it was stale. They stopped wandering around the building, and decided to get on with going to the conference. They weren't all than hungry anyway.
So off they went to Gill's pad. Which was quite an impressive, if tasteless place. You could even say it was impressively tasteless. Gill wouldn't say that though, he thought it was beautiful, of course he had no taste4 . Consequently he could eat split pea soup with croutons. As much of it as he liked. He even owned a split pea and crouton warehouse; the entrance to which was underground from his mansion.
To get to it you had to go down the soup chute. 5 To get back out again there were two options, a spade or a ladder. A select group of people also had a third option; flight. Most people, fortunate enough to get the chance, chose the ladder. Anyway, they were finally at the conference and ready to, erm... conference.
"Well", Janet said, "here we are. Where do you suppose the other delegates are then," she said turning to Oddy. Oddy tried his very hardest to shrug, it looked more like an attempt to pass wind. This is what Raymond thought he was trying to do, so he joined in at let out a major ripper.
Just as this blast of flatulence reached its ear splitting crescendo, the door flung open and in walked other conference members. Raymond was very embarrassed he really wished he hadn’t eaten all those beans. A large, red-faced man detached himself from the crowd of delegates, strode over to the window, and flung it open, in an attempt to clear Raymond's flatus. At the back of the crowd, surrounded by minders, Janet saw a pastey-faced, rabbit-like man.
"It looks like the rabbit in that James Stewart film” she thought, “now what was his name”? She wanted to stick her stilettos in his face, but somehow managed to resist. "Harvey" she thought, “that's it I want to stick my stilettos in Harvey's face.” This was not possible though. Partly because there was no Harvey present, but mostly because the man resembling a rabbit was in fact Gill.
"Silence for Mr Gill Harvey Bates”, shouted a minion. And silence there was. The pastey-faced, rabbit-like man stepped forward... still waiting for the foul stench of Raymond’s gas to pass. He waved a piece of paper in front of his face, and uttered the words that were to have such a profound effect upon the friends.
"First on the agenda is our new advertising slogan. 'Let the doors open but keep windows closed, especially on Tuesdays.' Comments anyone?" Bates' sycophants all nodded in agreement. This annoyed Raymond, who took it on himself to shout:
“Gasp", gasped the lackeys.
"Excuse me, Mr....?" Asked Gill.
"Granted" said Raymond while making a "fart waft" gesture.
"Very funny Raymond, just remember I can buy and sell your sorry little ass. What I meant was what do YOU mean by that last rather derogatory statement?" said Gill.
"How did you know my name!?" asked Raymond in astonishment.
"Didn't you realise that I became all powerful, I even bought out the GOD franchise," replied Gill.
"Jesus" thought Janet. Don't use the Lord's name in vein, Janet. .......
While wondering how our saviour would deal with a difficult situation like this. But Janet realised that Gill owned the saviour franchise and as such Janet should have been offering her prayers to Gill. The whole business was making her head hurt.
"Well down to business" Gill said.
"Right then." said Gill. "Next on the agenda is the so called millennium bug. Comments anyone?"
"What's its top speed?" asked Raymond, deliberately trying to bait Gill. "And has it got any of those fancy drinks holders, for putting the old split pea and crouton in?"
Bates stared are Raymond, confused. "How can you put a crouton in a drinks holder?" He asked.
"Well, you can't" replied Raymond, "they'd just fall straight through."
"So why do you want a drinks holder then?"
"To put my cup of soup in of course so that the crouton could sit in that." After a quick stare to the middle distance, Bates decided to move things along.
"So then, the Millennium Bug" hinted Bates, trying to get the topic back on track. "In a nutshell, how do we cope," he continued.
"Mr Bates" said Janet; "I represent a large bug control company which has found a solution to the bug."
"Yeeeessss" said Bates, raising his Eyebrow Roger Moore style, "do go on."
"We have developed another, harmless bug that eats up the millennium bug, leaving systems bug free. It's cheap, quick, and easy to install."
“I will make you a queen if this works” said Gill.
Oddy was panicking. If the millennium bug destroyed the computers, then the universe would be back on the mend. If Janet's bug wiped it out, then computers would be around to see the next millennium. He suddenly felt an urge in him, a familiar urge, the urge to bite; he looked around and saw Gills legs. He gave in to his urge in grand style, and gave Gill's legs a really fearsome bite. The trouble with deities is that they don't take to being bitten very well. And Oddy had bitten him very, very well.
"Ouch" said Gill, will the rest of the assemblage was getting confused about the presence of an alien and what it was doing to Gill's leg. Janet explained to everybody that Oddy was merely greeting Gill, in the time-honoured fashion of his own planet6 . A few people actually bought it7 .
"Would somebody remove this?" said Gill pointing at Oddy, who was still attached to his leg.
"I think it looks quite good there" said Janet.
Then a pub appeared at the window.
"Don't know about you lot," said Raymond, "but I'm off for a pint. I'll join you said the pub"
Gill was beginning to get a headache...and tetanus, which was quite strange since usually rabies is associated with bites from creatures, but this was probably the common thing on his home planet. The fact that Oddy's bite was venomous probably had something to do with it. The fact that Oddy's bite was venomous probably had something to do with it. Oddy, still attached to Gill's leg, went with him.