Only Slightly

0 Conversations

Only <br/>
Slightly graphic by Amy <br/>
the Ant

Previously in Only Slightly


Geraldine was assigned a mystery to solve, although

no mention was made of what the mystery actually

was, leaving her in a rather difficult situation.

Bidet and Fridgara succeeded in reopening the

spatial tear through which The Geraldine

disappeared, but found only several cubic miles of

Buckminsterfullerene. Bill and Elizabeth set off

for New Earth to follow up a lead on The

Geraldine's location, but just before they entered

hyperspace Elizabeth was briefly possessed by some

kind of entity which suggested that Bill may never

come back. Just to add to the suspense, the

narrative will now change tack


Part Seven

Linda stretched herself out on her beach towel

with a luxuriant sigh and closed her eyes against

the glare of the sun directly overhead. Gir-Aris

was a planet famed for its beaches, and now she was

here she could certainly see why - in two days on

the planet she'd been to several, and although this

one was her favourite of those she'd seen, they

were without exception clean, sun-drenched and

breathtakingly beautiful. This one, however,

definitely had the best location, being only a

short walk from her hotel.

'Sometimes,' Linda said absently, 'it's almost

possible to believe that someone built this planet

to order.'

'Like the Magratheans?' Linda's successor on the

Chair of Mina, Anneka, was extremely familiar with

the work of Douglas Adams. It was he who had

founded h2g2, which had over time developed into

the basis of Earth's culture.

'They were fictional,' Linda pointed out,

opening her eyes again to look over at Anneka. She

was a Japanese girl, only in her mid twenties, with

long black hair of the kind every woman would like.

Like Linda, she usually wore skin-tight leather,

but in deference to the beach and the sun Anneka

had changed into a tight black leather bikini,

which was decorated with highly polished sharp

stainless steel spikes.

'True,' Anneka said, 'but you might almost have

thought Douglas Adams came here and got the idea

for them.'

'Maybe this is Santraginus V,' Linda



They lay in the sun for several companionable

and content minutes, then Linda became aware of an

acute need.

'Excuse me,' she said, getting to her feet.

'Nature calls.'

She headed up the beach and popped into a handy

public convenience. The humans who'd settled this

planet about seventy years ago were all genetically

engineered to withstand large quantities of heat

and sunlight, the local brand of which contained

quite high levels of ultraviolet radiation, and so

they rarely bothered to put cooling systems in any

building that wasn't explicitly designed for

off-worlders to stay in. Therefore the toilet was

extremely hot and stuffy, although thankfully not

smelly thanks to some custom-designed

microorganisms which were added to the flush


After washing her hands and re-applying suncream

to them, Linda made her way leisurely back to the

beach. On the way she spotted an ice cream stand,

so bought two large cones of blueberry flavour.

Then she had to run back to Anneka, so they didn't

melt in the heat before they had the chance to eat


Once the ice cream was finished, they sunbathed

for another hour before a beeping noise issued from

Anneka's bikini. She twisted one of the steel

spikes adorning the top, and the beeping


'Time's up,' she said, rising to her feet. Linda

did the same with a sigh of regret, but to stay

outside any longer would risk serious skin cancer

and she had to admit that she had built up quite a

nice tan since they'd arrived. They gathered their

towels, shook the sand out of them and went back to

the hotel, not dawdling too much now for risk of

over-running the safety margin Anneka had

programmed into her anti-sunburn device (far more

sophisticated than a mere timer, it measured

exposure to ultraviolet radiation and based its

warnings on that, combined with the known

properties of their suncream). The hotel was a

small building only one street back from the beach,

with a courtyard in the middle, overlooked by two

levels of balconies. An L-shaped pool took up about

two thirds of the courtyard, the rest being

occupied by a seating area ideal for reading, and

part of the hotel's restaurant. The whole affair

was shaded by a large bubble which sat atop the

building and filtered out 100% of incoming

ultraviolet radiation. It was safe, but you

wouldn't get the slightest hint of a tan unless you

left the building.

Linda and Anneka left their towels by the

poolside and dived into the pool, working off the

afternoon's laziness on the beach with a good fifty

or sixty lengths which set their appetite up nicely

for their dinner. They ate in the courtyard,

looking up at the sky as it darkened and stars

began to appear, in patterns so entirely different

to those seen from Earth that Linda found them

enthralling in a way she had never found the stars

at home. Anneka, clearly not so impressed by the

night sky of another planet, had activated another

one of the gadgets she'd had concealed inside those

numerous steel spikes on her bikini, and was

reading the news from Earth on a holographic screen

which floated in front of her.

'Can't you leave the job behind for a moment?'

Linda asked when she saw what Anneka was


'It won't leave me behind,' Anneka

replied. 'While we were on the beach today, I had

four calls from people on Earth wanting advice

about things they shouldn't even be talking to me


'They're still doing that?'

'Oh yes.'

'I'd have thought that would have died down by


'Far from it. You took the lead during that

business forty years ago, and far from happily

returning to their own business afterwards,

everyone seems to have come up with the idea that

they need to run things by you - or failing that,

by me - whenever they're unsure about what they

should do. Which,' she added with considerable

distaste, 'seems to be just about all the


'And did you take those calls?'

'Of course not! I have a rather good auto-reply

message on at the moment, which they were treated

to after being kept on hold for five minutes. You

want to see it?'

Linda nodded. Anneka poked her holographic

screen. It collapsed into a set of controls, which

she poked a few more times before they were

replaced by a holographic image of Anneka's


'Hello,' said the recording, 'you have reached

Anneka, Sitter on the Chair of Mina. I am currently

on holiday, and thus unable to take any business

calls. I will be sunning myself on another planet

for approximately two weeks, excluding travel time.

During this time, if you feel unable to make

decisions by yourself, please refer all queries to

my assistant George, who will be happy to assist

you as best he can. Please, have an exceptionally

nice day.'

The head vanished, and Anneka grinned. Linda


'Your assistant?'

'Oh, George! I've got a picture of him.' Anneka

poked the holographic controls again, and a

projection of a rather obese goldfish appeared.

'This is George. He lives in a large tank behind my

desk and likes nibbling on the various plants I've

put in there.'

'You referred them to your goldfish?'

'Why not? If I can get them into making their

own decisions again, maybe I can get some kind of

return to the kind of job this Sittership is

supposed to be.

'Well, good luck to you,' Linda said. 'I

couldn't manage it, maybe they'll take it from

someone different.'

'I certainly hope so,' Anneka said vehemently.

'Now, would you like a game of chess?'

They had barely got the (holographic, projected

from more gadgets in Anneka's bikini spikes) board

and pieces set up to play when a shrill scream

echoed from the balconies. Linda was on her feet

instantly, but Anneka was already three feet off

the ground, and in moments she stood on the

first-floor balcony from which the scream had come.

Linda ran indoors and took the stairs, along with

several other guests and a couple of members of the

hotel staff. When they reached the first-floor room

to which the balcony belonged, they found the door

in pieces in the hall. Linda pushed her way past

the suddenly-hesitant crowd and picked her way

through the wreckage to the room, where Anneka

stood looking at something concealed behind the

sofa. Another young woman was crouched in a corner

with tears streaming down her face, sobbing

incoherently. Linda moved across the room to see

what was on the floor.

'He's dead,' Anneka said when Linda had seen the

man lying on the floor. 'But not for very long,

he's still warm.'

'How?' Linda asked. Anneka shook her head.

'No idea, but I don't like it. He looks fine.

Somebody call the police! There's a dead man in

here!' She shouted out into the corridor. There

were a number of screams, and the sound of feet

shuffling around as someone ran off. Linda frowned

at the body.

'Who's she?' she asked, inclining her head at

the sobbing woman in the corner.

'His daughter, I think,' Anneka said. 'She

didn't say much, but I think she said something

about her father being dead. I'm guessing that's


'Right. Well, we don't have any authority


'You're not suggesting we just leave this?'

'I was going to suggest we offer our services to

the local police,' Linda said tartly. 'You should

have thought of that yourself.'

'Oh. Yes, of course,' Anneka said, sounding

quite abashed. 'I'm sorry, it's not every day one

finds a dead man in a hotel.'

Linda nodded. She was fairly sure this was the

first corpse Anneka had seen, so on the whole she

was coping remarkably well. The dead man himself

was rather unremarkable - pale-skinned with large

eyes that suggested he came from one of the

low-light worlds Linda knew had been colonised over

the centuries. His daughter had the same enlarged

eyes and skin, which definitely added credence to

that theory.

A commotion in the corridor disturbed Linda's

thoughts, and a few moments later two police

officers burst into the room, closely followed by

two medics. They set to work on the body

immediately, although the looks on their faces said

they knew he was beyond saving. One of the police

officers, a woman with the extremely dark skin that

marked her out as a native of Gir-Aris or a world

much like it, went to talk to the daughter. The

policeman turned his eyes on Linda and Anneka.

'Who are you?' he asked.

'I am Anneka, Sitter on the Chair of Mina, from

Earth,' Anneka said. 'This is Linda, my predecessor

in that role. We are on holiday here.'

The policeman nodded, although clearly he'd

never heard of the Sitter on the Chair of Mina.

Linda found that obscurely disappointing, given the

role she'd played in the reunification of the human


'You are on holiday here?' he asked.

'Yes,' Anneka confirmed. 'We were about to have

a game of chess down in the courtyard when we heard

a scream coming from this room. I flew up to the

balcony to see what it was, and Linda came up the

stairs with everyone else.'

'You flew?' The policeman sounded rather


'It's a little trick I can do,' Anneka

explained. 'Surely you've heard about all the

things we can do with magic on Earth.'

'I have heard, yes,' the policeman said. 'So

what did you see when you entered the room?'

Anneka explained everything she'd seen and done,

and Linda then did the same. The policeman took

copious notes.

'So you have no previous connection to this


'None at all,' Anneka said. The policeman nodded


'Well, thank-you for your time, ladies,' he

said. 'If we want to know anything more we'll be in

touch. How long are you on the planet for?'

'Five more days. Is there anything we can do to

assist you? We are not strangers to investigations

of this kind.'

'I think we can manage. If you'll excuse


Linda and Anneka exchanged looks, then stepped

out of the room and made their way towards their

two-bedroomed suite one floor down. From their

balcony doors they could see the balcony of the

dead man's room, and occasional glimpses of

activity inside as more people arrived to examine

the scene and take away the body.

'What do you think?' Anneka asked


'I don't know,' Linda replied after a moment. 'I

really don't know what to make of it.'

'I don't like it,' Anneka said. 'Something

doesn't feel right.'

'You think it was murder?'

Anneka grimaced, as if struggling with some

distasteful thoughts.

'I think it was killing,' she said. 'He

didn't drop dead by himself - but somehow, murder

doesn't seem like the right word.'

'Murder is murder, Anneka.'

'It is, but not all deaths are murders.'

Linda nodded, then found herself wondering what

she'd actually agreed to. Anneka seemed to think

the matter closed, and eventually they ate and

started the game of chess, sitting out on their

balcony. After the first thirty moves or so, when

Linda was busily exterminating Anneka's pawns in

order to escape from the trap which had been set

for her king, they became aware of shouts and

exclamations from the room where the dead man had

been found. A few moments later, there was a knock

on their door, and the policewoman who they'd seen

earlier entered without waiting for an invitation.

Several other officers followed her.

'What's going on?' Anneka asked, rising from her


'My colleague, Officer Derin, has been murdered.

Due to the circumstances of the murder and your

admitted unusual abilities, you are the prime

suspects in this matter. You will come with us to

the police station for further investigation.'

Linda also rose to her feet. 'What? You can't


'I know precisely what I can think,' the

policewoman replied. 'And at the moment, I think

you killed my colleague. I want to know why, and I

want to know how. You will accompany my colleagues

to the station peacefully, or you will be forced to

go. Your choice.'

'I'm not going to stand for this!' Anneka said.

Linda put a hand on her arm.

'Let's not do anything precipitous,' she

cautioned in a low voice. Turning back to the

policewoman, she nodded. 'We will come with you.

Please inform the Earth Ambassador of this matter;

we request legal advice as is our right under your


The policewoman eyed them for a moment, then

gestured to her colleagues.

'Take them to the station.'

Will Linda and Anneka manage to talk

their way out of this sticky situation and discover

who really killed two people in the space of a few

hours in the same room? Does this have anything at

all to do with the rest of the story, and what's

happening to everyone else while Linda and Anneka

are sunning themselves? Read Only Slightly next

week and find out...

The Only Slightly



03.07.03 Front Page

Back Issue Page

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

There are no Conversations for this Entry



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Written by



h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more