The 168th Greatest Story in the Universe - A Tribute

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Part Thirteen

In the depths of the void known only as the Shift, creatures were stirring. Creatures whom if you asked them the time of day would probably rip off your arms, eat your head and urinate on the remains. Though to show they weren't completely uncultured they would probably stick what was left into a glass case, sell it to an art gallery and as a last act of mercy tell the contents of the case that it was about half past two.

These creatures were known as the Blieg. Their dark bodies consist of an almost perfect sphere, except that it is covered all over with pimple like bumps. Each of these is an eye for it to see with. Attached to its pimply, spherical body are four powerful arms. Though one
shouldn't be too concerned about the arms, not when on the end of each is an immensely strong jaw, with razor sharp teeth. When not under the influence of gravity they can use one of these powerful arms as support while the other three can quite cheerfully gnash away to their hearts (or the Blieg equivalent) content.

Hence they are quite frequently feared by anyone considered vaguely sane. Unfortunately that cannot be said of poor Mr Jodan Croft of 24 Pillsbury Close, who one unfortunate afternoon found a Blieg in his back garden. He rather foolishly invited it in for tea, whereupon it quite kindly ate his wife Winifred's Apple Crumble, and then her casserole, before starting on her left leg and moving swiftly on to Mr Croft himself - but not before commenting on how kind it was of them to invite him in.

The creature then admired the flowers in the back garden, before discreetly finishing whatever job he had to complete and slipped in to the nearest convenient vortex.

When an elderly next door neighbour complained to the police that she had not seen Winifred or Jodan Croft for months, a policeman did visit, had a good look around and accidentally slipped in to the nearest convenient vortex. This was of course very inconvenient,
as a ton of bureaucratic paper work which served no recognisably obvious purpose other than to fill desk space, had to be passed on to someone considerably lazier, who in turn filed it in the bin.

As for the policeman, due to various anomalies he ended up on the top of Mt. Everest in the Stone Age, looking very confused. Of course the knowledge that he was the first man to get to the top of Mt. Everest was of very little comfort to him. He did however perform quite an achievement of climbing down alive, and meeting a wonderful young cave woman, and their tribe lived secluded from the rest of the world until modern times. Incidentally, in strange twist of fate, one of their descendants ended up as Terry Horowitz's milkman, but then that's
another story.

In a completely unconnected part of space/time Terry Horowitz was running out of the Precogiotee's bedchamber, following Turk and Revo Recma - who was carrying the bedchamber's former occupant.

'Where are we going?' gasped Terry in the direction of Turk.

'To an escape vessel,' replied Turk simply.

Terry was still technically a prisoner of the organisation, and so it was fortunate that recent revelations had improved his value to them.

Suddenly a loud grinding, crunching sound could be heard. As if in slow motion the powerful teeth of three of the four arms of a Blieg chomped their way through the wall just in front of them. Dust and rubble crashed down as part of the wall gave way, and through it
came, arms still pounding: a Blieg. It stood atop one of its powerful arms, which acted as a leg. The arm on top almost acted as a head, with the other two performing their duties as arms.

It rotated on its leg, so that the top arm faced towards the Precogiotee. In a strange fluid movement, using its other arms interchangeably with its standing arm, it moved forwards.

Recma gave the Precogiotee to Turk. 'Take her to one of the Spheres, I'll try and make some time for you to get her away safely.'

Turk nodded and urged Terry to follow, which he did.

Terry glanced over his shoulder and saw Recma sizing up the similar-sized Blieg, clearly preparing to fight it. Terry turned back and tried to help Turk carry the now unconscious leader.

Battles were occurring all around them, with people trying desperately to escape, fighting off other Blieg as they broke through the walls in swarms. Some were obviously more successful than others as Terry noticed the remains of some of those who had tried to escape.
Fortunately, for Terry, Turk and their burden, most of the fighting seemed to be diverted away from them as they drew nearer to their escape vessel.

When they arrived they briefly put the Precogiotee down as Turk opened the door and turned off the yellow strips of light which guarded the vessel.

'Get in!' yelled Turk to Terry, as Turk helped the Precogiotee in. He then pushed the button to close the door.


He pressed it again. Nothing.

'Why won't this work?'

He turned around, and saw a creature holding the door open as it fought unsuccessfully to close.

The jaw at the end of the Blieg's dorsal arm almost looked as though it was smiling, as it tensed to lunge into the craft . But its smile was replaced by an ear-splitting scream as that same arm was blown off by gunfire - still it held the door open, though. From behind it came a
human yell, and another succession of blasts, which eventually forced it to move back. The door finally closed but not before the person firing the shots jumped in, checking that there was nothing else following.

'The trick is to aim for the joints.' Their saviour was a young woman speaking with a pronounced Irish brogue. She was dressed in a scruffy dark combat jacket, shirt and trousers. 'They've got some sort of armoured skin, so all you can do is go for the joints.'

She focused on the Precogiotee. 'Is she alright?' she asked Turk.

'She should be now, thanks,' replied Turk.

Terry just looked in awe at the woman.

'You got a problem there mate?' said the woman gruffly.

'No - erm, none at all.'

'Well, if you want something to look at, keep an eye on that door. We're not safe yet.'

Terry, feeling a little awkward, looked at the door. The woman suppressed a smile.

'Can I ask where we're going?' enquired Terry.

'Somewhere safe,' replied Turk. 'You'll see soon enough.'

And he did.

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