This is a traditional opening in all really good stories: Once upon a time the researchers of H2G2 sat behind flickering monitors all across the Globe and began telling a story. A collaborative story, that was built upon the successive postings of different researchers. It was called H2G2 Storytime Some called us fools and mad. Others cried:
'Man was not supposed to meddle in such affairs as these!!'
They may have been right. But here for your delectation the result of that endeavour: committed to memory and then transcribed onto page by an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of keyboards and too much free time.
For a full list of characters and previous chapters go to the h2g2 Storytime
Something sub-conscious raised itself and in a desperate bid to save himself Bob cried out:
'The dying pilchard bleeds under a turquoise moon!'
The large man stepped back, startled.
'The pass-code! - Frightfully sorry old chap.'
said the doctor as he put the recorder down.
'We hadn't realised you were one of our lot. We musta confused you wiv' sumbudy else.'
Bob was untied and the doctor handed him a couple of aspirin for his headache.
'Where am I?'
managed Bob, weakly.
said the doctor.
'We are inside a nuclear submarine.
You see we heard from The Big Cheese himself that there might be a raid tonight and had hidden this sub in the tunnel of love in the old fun-fair.
We left one of our best agents - Irish songster Ronan Keating dressed as a pink elephant - to provide a diversion while we slipped away.'
'Who is The Big Cheese'
'You're having a laugh aren't you?'
said the Doctor.
'ol' short-arse must'av given you a right blow t' the head. Can't you remember the real identity of The Big Cheese is a closely guarded secret? None of us know who the The Big Cheese is'
The Doctor lapsed into a morose silence.
Just then a *Woop-Woop* noise started loudly somewhere to Bobs left and the room started to shake furiously.
In burst a sailor in a natty little uniform.
'We're under attack!'
he shouted above the din.
'Prepare for torpedo atta -!...'
At that moment the whole vessel boomed and shook and everyone was flung across the room in that entertaining Star Trek kinda way.
said the Natty Sailor (whose name was Tim.)
'We've been hit! The captain will have to surface and surrender!'
The vessel lurched upward with a queasy elevator feeling, making everyone's ears pop.
When it surfaced Bob found his bonds had fallen loose he rushed after Tim by way of a quick detour to the tower. Tim opened the hatch, behind him Bob looked out and saw... the eye of a purple... bluish... something.
Tim pointed at it in dismay
Together, Bob and Tim the Natty sailor pulled Poppa Smurf into the conning tower. He was wearing a frogman's outfit.
'Completely senile, you know.'
mouthed Tim quietly with appropriate gestures.
They removed Poppa Smurf's facemask, untangling it from his long beard.
'You always manage to escape at the most inconvenient times, don't you?'
scolded Tim, staring into Poppa Smurf's confused , apologetic eyes.
'And right now, just when we're being attacked by a...'
Tim turned to look at just what had attacked them; Bob stammered in disbelief.
'A... a... Giant, balding, incontinent chipmunk and a fleet of men in purple spandex suit!'
Tim kicked open the hatch down from the conning tower and dragged Poppa Smurf below.
Bob's eyes widened in relief.
'Its Mr Arthur Robinson!'
Bob leaned over the rail and waved to Arthur - who had been the first of the crew, all clad in purple wet suits - to clamber out of Boutros-Ghali's attack submarine.
The sub, which had been disguised as a beaver especially for the mission was spewing foul, yellow liquid into the sea from its bilge pump.
Bob tied off a rope and threw the other end down for the others.
Meanwhile in a cheese warehouse on the banks of the Seines in France
A security guard (named Ben) was marching up and down looking pleased with himself.
He stood quickly to attention as a sleek, black limousine sailed into the courtyard.
It settled itself in the loading bay. The doors were flung open and three heavy and serious looking men emerged, they flanked a discreet character holding what looked like a goldfish bowl under his arm. Together they marched solemnly towards the main warehouse doors. Ben ducked back inside his small hut.
On the security-camera screens he could see the men arrive at the top of the stairs. The door was opened and they were escorted into the office.
Ben was an uncomplicated man. He did his job and tried his best to remain as unobtrusive as possible and not to have ideas above his station.
Still, he was under no illusions that that man had just been brought in for a meeting with Mr Big....
Boutros Boutros-Ghali was held at eye level by one of his guardians. He faced a cadre of serious looking be-suited types all flanking a desk, behind which sat another serious looking man, partially obscured. Boutros decided to begin his speech.
'My name is Boutros Boutros Ghali. I am the head of a special service for international covert operations. My mission here is highly classified and top secret - actually I'm risking mine and all of your lives by telling you this much but - '
barked one of the desk-man's minder's.
'It's about this cheese smuggling scam...'
boomed Mr Big, speaking for the first time in this encounter.
'Well, we thought you should know - there isn't anything actually illegal about exporting cheese.'
The assorted men around the table looked at each other in a kind of shock.
'That's all. You go to such efforts hiding it in secret compartments in suitcases, putting it in condoms and swallowing it, and all that. It's just cheese, alright?'
Mr Big looked bewildered, but nodded.
said Boutros to his minder, who picked him up and held him under his arm and turned to leave
'I'm going to contact Interpol and the FBI and close down this operation. Smuggling cheese? Honestly! I've never heard of anything so ridiculous.'
Mr Big stood up, he was impressively tall.
'I am afraid I cannot allow you to leave just yet Mr Ghali. No, you see, cheese smugglers we may be but now that you have seen my face I am afraid you must die.'
said Mr Big.
The minder dropped Boutros and went for his gun but just then a side door burst inwards and a dozen clownz came dancing in and custard-pied Boutros's van-guard into submission. Mr Big walked over from his desk and stood over where Boutros lay upturned on the floor.
He bent down, picked him up and he brought Boutros's face level with his own.
'My face inspires terror in my enemies. My name is feared throughout Mother Russia. You have no fear. You do not yet know my name.'
'I have many names.'
said Mr Big.
He took Boutros back to his desk and settled into his chair. For all the good it would do, Boutros tried his best to squirm.
'I was an orphan in Moscow in 1944 I was christened by a humble midget priest working at a small cathedral in the outer districts of the city. He was small man with bad teeth and a penchant for leather overcoats. He gave me first name:'
'I am known by those who fear me as The Red Leicester.'
'I had no idea.'
said Boutros, terrified -
'Your voice, your face!...'
'Great things can be accomplished through surgery. Also accents can learned to be control, records can be destroyed, witnesses can be silenced.'
'You still do not seem to appreciate with whom you are dealing.'
'I work now for the Russian Mafia. For the longest time it has been our dearest wish to get our hands on you.
'It was I who ordered Mr Gonzaroolio to take two bullets to the Leamington Spa Green. We had hoped that you might have turned up instead of sending that heeled terrier of yours Arthur Robinson.
Still that is of little consequence, we have you now and your Precious Agency has no idea!'
'Take him downstairs to the Underground Monorail, we are leaving.'
Back on the sub a wise old man called Reginald Darby was helping Tim and Bob to get some sense out of the crew and to stop the revolting yellow liquid getting into the decompression chamber.
He used strange methods and old herb recipes cooked over a small earthenware stove to resuscitate the men. Afterwards all the men sat round to listen to the wise old man, the Sage Darby, as he told them tales of the Kraken, the great White Whales and what happened down at the bottom of the sea.
A result of which was that the sub crashed into an island because no one was looking where it was going.
While the remainder of the crew remained unconscious or dazed in the hold, Bob grabbed one of mini water-proof, hand-held radios - climbed out of the sub and swam to the shore for a quick look around.
Underestimating the near-shore currents he arrived on the beach exhausted. There he crawled onto the sand and lay there on his back, breathing heavily.
Just then a group of native tribesman appeared out of the forest their leader looked at him and said:
'A God from the Sea! Truly it is foretold in our ancient lore! Come - we must worship you! Smother you in gold! Feed you exotic fruits! Offer you the finest virgins!'
The metaphorical ears on Bob's prone ego pricked up and he managed to looked dazed but happy.
He was ushered to a litter, borne high by the strength of the mighty natives, and taken to a clearing on the island where there were lots of little huts and corrals.
The natives set him down and one of them stepped forward. He wore, atop his head, a fiendishly complicated head-dress. It put Bob in mind of a distressed albatross attempting to mate with the Chelsea Flower Show. He eyed Bob warily and finally pronounced the following tale: That a long time ago, The island had worshipped many Gods and had been deeply pious.
Naturally this led to a lot of theological debates: who had the best Deity and so forth. This, in turn, had over time, led to a number of academic scuffles and then wars between the tribes and ultimately - Schisms.
The last of which was a fight to the death between two wings of the Church of Qwixinn (lit: 'He who blesseth the Watermelon.')
Those who fervently believed in the Supreme Majesty of Qwixinn and those who didn't and thought that a low level god who occasionally blessed the odd watermelon or two was something they could rather do without.
Towards the end of the fighting, the Pro-Qwixinn camp being a moralistic sort, opened a dialogue with the opposing side. Representatives were brought and much was discussed. These were tough but they felt fair negotiations to convince their brethren of the correctness of their arguments. When this inevitably failed to work; the pro-camp went to bed that fateful night with that rather cosy feel of a good job well done despite all evidence to the contrary.
The other camp having already decided that Gods on the whole were a bad idea had suddenly freed themselves from a thousand years of years of restrictive morality and quite frankly now saw nothing wrong with ambushing those effete idiots in the dark and letting their enemies experience for themselves the joys eternal of that life in the ever-after that they were always recommending.
Not for them the cunning argued stance. Just very big knives.
After this glorious military coup, the now God-less inhabitants of the island referred to the prophecies of the Elders to see how they should start governing themselves.
And lo' it described in fascinating detail how:
'In the yeers that arr two followe. wone shal ly on the sande and be most God-like in itts apparel.
KILL HIM IMMEDIATELY.'
And so it was to Bob's general dismay that he was then told how he would be 'worshipped' as the new God of the island. They would feed him exotic fruits, the sort that made bits of you go green and black and start smelling faintly of almonds before dropping off.
The finest and purest girls from each of the villages would come and dance before him while he was tied to a stake.
Then he was to be taken around all of the villages of the island and displayed before each of the tribes so that they may see what happens to false Gods.
continued the craggy-faced Tribesman.
'The tribes are spread all across the island, making many days travel. To cover the distance before the winter We shall have to cut you up quite small... '
'What about the showers of Gold?'
squeaked Bob meekly.
said the tribesman and burst out laughing.
'You didn't think we ACTUALLY give you our gold did you?'
'Well...Um...I kinda hoped...'
The tribesman nodded like he had expected this to be Bob's reply.
'Tchh! God's! They never learn! It's always I want, I want, I want. Worship Me, Worship Me. or I'll give you this Watermelon for that Gold ingot!
The man gestured and Bob was dragged into a hut...
Poking out from just beneath the waves, stuck on a rock just off the coast of the island, remained the submarine 'The Beaver'. Inside, Arthur, and Agent X were in the cockpit; Tim, Jill and Captain Darby were trying to organise the sub off of the rock.
They had dispatched a radio buoy to the surface earlier to listen for reports from Bob, who had gone up to look at how things were. He had not radioed in.
All was silent for some time, but for Arthur talking into the transmitter:
'Come in Bob, come in Bob, this is the Beaver, ...over.'
There was no reply for hours. Then the radio sprang into life with a burst of static.
'Come in Beaver, Come in Beaver...'
In the corner, Agent X sniggered, but it was hardly the time for innuendo. Arthur grabbed the microphone.
'This is Beaver, receiving over... Bob, you're alive!'
'No. This is Boutros... erm. Sorry to use the emergency frequency.'
came the reply.
'Spot of bother, chaps... over.'
said Arthur as the static echoed around the silent cabin.
'Yes, I've been captured by a... rogue Russian agent. I should have known that cheese-smuggling operation was too silly to be anything other than a cover story. I don't suppose you could come and, sort of rescue us, eh?'
Arthur looked around at each of the faces in the cabin.
'Might be a bit of a while, actually, sir.',BR/>
he said reluctantly into the microphone.
'We've got a couple of things to do first. Where are you'
'I don't know. We were in Paris, then we were taken on a monorail underground. But you'll be able to locate me, I'm wearing my tracking device quickly... have to go, there's someone coming, ...'
The voice broke up.
Arthur turned back gravely to the others.
'Where is Bob?'
Bob awoke in a bath. The water was pleasantly warm and he leant back to ease his tired muscles. All of that secret agenting can take it out of a guy. He watched idly as a fine dust several bath salts were sprinkled over him - this Deity business wasn't as bad a that tribesman had made out.
Nonetheless something was stirring in the lower levels of his subconscious. It said: this isn't right, why only a few sections ago I was being set up to be horribly maimed and tortured. Talk about sloppy narrative he thought as the tendrils of dozy sleep enveloped him again.
Suddenly, he sat bolt up-right in the water.
Then, as these things do, the mists of delusion cleared and Bob was left staring at the nightmare approach of the juggernaught called Reality.
he cried out in sudden alarm.
'These aren't bath salts. This is real salt. - I'm being seasoned!!'
intoned a sombre tribesman stirring the cauldron with a ladle,
'It is an aid to mastication.'
'YOU'RE GOING TO EAT ME!?!!!'
'No, we are just softening you up for the evil and viscous creature that lives in the caves in the cove just around the beach head. The elders have decided that you should suffer the most painful and prolonged death imaginable.'
'What is it?'
asked the tribesman, concerned.
'I just swallowed a slice of carrot.'
Meanwhile down inside the beaver...
'We've combed all areas, Cap.'
chimed some anonymous sailors.
'I said to quit it with that innuendo.'
chastised a tense Darby
said the ensigns.
'We have salvaged all of the scuba gear, maybe Bob has fallen or something but is not able to get to his communicator?'
(In actual fact while Bob was being lightly simmered in the cauldren some of the brighter tribesman had rooted through his clothes found the communicator, had turned the thing on and were for the first time in the history of their culture listening to the cricket scores.)
Arthur appeared from out of a hatch.
'We just received a message from Boutros, he has been kidnapped. We are going to rescue him. Still no word from Bob though. First, we shall all need to regroup. Is that scuba gear?
said Reginald Darby.
'Right in that case, we don't know what's on that island if Bob's disappeared and I don't want to take my chances with those surface currents. I'll take Agent X, Jill and Tim and we'll swim up to the surface find and bring back Bob. You prep the ship for immediate re-launch on our return.'
saluted the U-boat's crew...
Meanwhile Bob was having great difficulty raising Jill on his mobile phone.
He speculated that this might have had something to do with its internal circuitry being soaked by the stew of which he was a key ingredient. He quickly came round to the fact that, aside from dreaming he owned a mobile phone after being koshed by the 4 and 1/2 foot-tall man in a leather trenchcoat at the den of Clownz, he didn't actually have a mobile phone and the whole venture had been doomed to fail from the outset really.
He chewed on a bit of leek and tried to think what Jill would have done in this situation.
He decided she would have put on her apron and stirred him round a bit.
He dreamed of how he would escape this cauldron before it got too hot.
A flash of inspiration caused him to start staring to a point in the distance and put on a horrified face.
'The creature's coming for its dinner! Look!'
The natives all looked in the same direction and so persuasive was his acting that (despite their collective knowledge that the creature was, in fact, invisible) this distraction lasted just long enough for Bob to jump out of the cauldron just as the water was starting to get too hot.
Butt-naked, he ran in the other direction and nearly bumped into Arthur, X, Jill and Tim.
Bob, in fact tripped over a rock and went rolling down the hill, straight past his friends who were busy ascending the rock face.
'Where's he going?'
said Arthur, puzzled.
'Look he's landed in that privet bush.'
'I wonder what could have got him so spooked'
asked X, peering cautiously over the crest of the hill. The others looked as well.
What they saw looking back at them were all of the tribes from across the island. Some were still frantically searching for this mysterious vanishing monster, others had, by that time, caught on that the God had escaped from his cauldron.
'Yes.' agreed Tim emphatically.
'okay.' said X.
'Right.' said Jill.
They quickly loosened the rope and used the slack to absail down to where Bob was perched on the privet.
The collective tribes people were now all involved in busily searching for their God so that they could kill him.
One of them looked down the hill and saw the others man-handling Bob out of the bush.
Another one of the feathery-elders came to the hill and looked down.
He noted carefully.
'Come my brothers. We must worship them also...'
Having freed Bob, and tied his damp, lightly seasoned body on to one of their ropes; the agents could begin to descend the rock face once more back towards the sea.
However, they had only dropped a few feet when Jill became aware of vibrations in her line. Looking up, she could see a muscular man in a feathered head-dress leaning over the edge of the cliff and sawing through the rope with a flint implement, just below the grappling hook that held it there. Another appeared and attacked Arthur's line also.
With craggy rocks below them things looked bad. Then, from above the agents heard a deafening roar and the screaming of frightened people, and thunderous stomping sent shocks through the cliff face.
They looked up at the cliff in astonishment, and, just along from the tribespersons saw the UPS Guy run down the ramp from a large Dropship that had just landed, flattening the leading edge of the jungle in the process. He was leading on a leash a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
'Where did you get THAT from!?'
To be continued...