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
Soon they were driving away.
'Just like old times'
said Guy. Boutros sighed reminiscently:
'Back in the USSR.'
UPS guy turned to Brannagh who was riding shotgun.
'We need to contact the sub - what's the frequency Kenneth?'
Guy took the mike:
' Headquarters? This is UPS - we're heading home from Russia with Love.'
'In the box?'
Guy opened it up. Boutros, who only existed from the neck up, broke into a huge grin a and a small tear frosted down his cheek.
'It's a new body for you sir, a donor has at last come forward.'
Said Guy happily.
'Is there a surgeon skilled enough...?'
an overcome Boutros broke down.
Disturbed by this reaction in his mentor, Guy privately feared how Boutros would react when he found out that the body was female!
Meanwhile Jill was getting over her surprise and removing the tap from her shoulder.
'Aggrzthpthz isn't it'
'what brings you here?'
the witch doctor replied
'Since I became civilised and qualified as a neurosurgeon I call myself Heddingly Edgbaston. I have a small private practice that takes up most of my time. Now lets take a look at the ankle'
Under Heddingly's professional (and non-sexual) care Jill's ankle was soon bound and feeling much better. (Heddingly also provide Jill with some less orthodox care(which was definitely sexual) - suffice it to say Jill was soon feeling thoroughly warmed up and much more relaxed.)
'I was travelling home from a conference in Sweden...'
Heddingly explained as they relaxed together in the compacted snow
'when I spotted your Lear jet and thought you might be in trouble.'
He reached into his pocket
'By the way here is your radio communicator and now that I have cable I don't use it much any more'
He then looked over Jill's shoulder in alarm
'But now I think we should get out of here - your pursuer is heading towards us very fast and she looks a mite peeved.'
Jill thought back hurriedly to the horoscope that Parka-man had delivered to her.
'... A Friend is important to you. Your lucky bun-cake today is: Blueberry Muffin.'
''Do you happen have a Blueberry Muffin secluded about your Saville Row suit?'
'Why, indeed I do my good lady, what on earth do you want it for I was going to nosh it down for my luncheon don't-cher-know.'
'Just give it here.'
It had, Jill was quite prepared to admit, been 'a while' since she had held the Lil' Miss shot-put champion silver medal but she reassured herself, It's a skill you never forget.
The yeti picked up speed, it charged at Jill.
Jill reeled back; tensed her muscles. And THREW the Muffin with all her might.
It sailed through the air and whizzed past the ear of the charging animal.
Jill froze, cursing her aim, which had never really been an issue in her junior shot put days. However, if this particular yeti had read her horoscope that morning, she would have discovered that her lucky bun-cake for the day was date and walnut slice. Indeed, a totally thorough confectionery-astrologer would have noticed signs warning that blueberry muffins in particular would be extremely unlucky for the yeti.
Had she read her horoscope, she would have known all of these things But she had not, and as her favourite flavour of muffin was indeed blueberry, she turned quickly and dove after the muffin as it bounced over the frozen tundra. As her horoscope would have predicted the muffin bounced over a ravine and the yeti, maddened by her simple desire for cake followed it into oblivion.
As the Trans-Siberian express thundered out of the tunnel four hundred miles Southeast of Novosidorsk the driver was greeted by the glare of the Siberian sun. He adjusted his cap. His train barrelled on through a high-sided valley, the tracks ahead invisible under a blanket of snow. Then something fell out of the sky. The driver squinted as an object made an arc through the frozen air before him, landing in the thick snow between the tracks a hundred yards ahead. Then a large light-coloured mass followed it. The driver hauled on the brake lever, and he could feel the wheels skid beneath the enormous bulk of the train as it continued onward under immense inertia. The train came to a halt with its snowplough a few feet from where a very large hairy creature was sitting on the tracks, eating a muffin.
The sudden jolt as the train shuddered to a halt caused Arthur too wake with a start still dreaming about the train being boarded by Russian terrorists. Bob too woke up agitated.
'what a strange dream'
but then he realised he was not in the bedroom of his Finchley Park flat but in a rather cramped sleeping car bound for Siberia.
Tim the natty sailor was consulting a tatty copy of Bradshaw's East European Almanac.
'We're not due to stop for another 3 hours'
Tim remarked as he grabbed several outfits from the luggage rack. He turned as left the carriage heading for the bathroom
'If something is out here I'd better make myself look presentable'
Prelude to catastrophe...Meanwhile, back in London, a very large policeman was radioing his headquarters:
'Sarge, you'd better send me some backup. A group of clowns has just broken into the main UPS Depot in Muswell Hill - I think there's something funny going on ...'
Back to where we left off...A large flying object the size of a house but roughly the shape of an Austin Metro and with no obvious means of keeping it in the air, glided low over the tundra and stopped above the ravine. Jill had earlier called in another one of BBG's fleet drop-ships to pick her up from deepest Siberia, using the personal communicator returned to her by Dr. Heddingly-Edgbaston.
It hovered over the Trans-Siberian Express, blanketing the area in shadow and frightening the yeti away. The craft edged backwards slightly and dropped silently onto the railway tracks. Jill and the doctor half ran, half rolled down the side of the ravine starting several small avalanches on the way and came to rest between the drop-ship and the front of the train. The cargo doors in the belly of the aircraft opened up and the warm pink glow from within was reflected in the snow all around.
Inside the train, Arthur was hammering on the toilet door.
'Tim, come on. You look fine.'The others had opened the door at the end of the carriage and were throwing the rucksacks out onto the snow. When he emerged, Tim, who to be fair was looking really good, was bundled out by Arthur and they ran after the others towards the ship.
In the hatchway, the UPS Guy was waiting and hauled each of them in turn into the cargo hold where Boutros, Jill and a very dapper Polynesian gentleman were already there. Then Guy pressed a red button on the wall and the gaping doors began to close. He threw a friendly salute to the driver of the Trans-Siberian Express in his cab and turned, ushering the others up the ladder into the cockpit.
'You see all sorts on this route', thought the train driver. But he had been driving the Express for decades and nothing fazed him any more. With alarming speed the aircraft was gone and he reached to release the brake handle...
Meanwhile, some place else entirely....Leicesterschniictch Kitanya-irrania-tatonya-karenska-alisov brooded behind his desk. Two men stood before him. They were clearly terrified.
The Red Leicester fixed them with an un-flinching, level stare and said:
'What, do you mean....escaped?'
'Well... Um... boss, we had Ghali set on defrost... like you said... and, erm... well he turned into Courtney Love and then Robert De Niro and Kenneth Brannagh took her, I mean him, away and well... he... er... escaped.'
said the guard.
'Get rid of THOSE.'
He pointed to the bodies on the floor. A fellow henchman grimly towed the remains of his former colleagues out of the room.
'Upon his return to England, no doubt Boutros will want to be fully de-briefed by his secret agents, that gives us some time. What agents do we have stationed in Britain?'
asked The Red Leicester.
A nameless officious looking character in a good suit detached himself from the wall against which he had been hitherto leaning and glided sleekly across the floor.
'We have the assassin Gonzarooolio and his Clown Posse. Also there is The Criminal Federation of Stage and Screen Talent. The clownz were, I believe, planning a raid on a UPS depot. They were hoping it could give us some more leverage with... Um... Boutros's ransom.'
'That failure has been accounted for.'
said Leicester, neatly stepping over a small patch of blood on his Persian rug.
'The last thing they will be ready for is a direct assault. Not so soon. Boutros, Arthur, X and Jill and the rest of that meddlesome secret agency have been a thorn in my side for too long now. Gather our forces we are going to war...'
Meanwhile in the secret headquarters of The Secret Agency (not as one might suspect the brand-spanking new MI6 site on the Thames, but in the basement of the small franchised Egyptian family bistro just across the road. An angry exchange was taking place...
*WARNING: Plot-jangling confusion is about to descend on the narrative. But don't worry there is a sensible explanation and it all sorts itself out in the end.*
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'We ought to get one of those'
said Agent Bruce (XXXX - He wouldn't give a Castlemaine four-X for anything else.) looking down from the T.V set bracketed to the wall.
'Are you kidding?'
said Agent X.com
'have you SEEN the price!?'
Just across from them, Mustapha Kofi folded his arms together angrily.
The clowns had been sitting in the best seats in the restaurant for an hour now just watching the gate of the UPS Depot across the road.
Mustapha stormed across
'Are you gentlemen going to order, or are you just fooling around!'
The clowns looked at each other. A particularly tall clown spoke up soothingly.
'We are just waiting for some friends to join us - if perhaps we could see the wine list and a bottle of mineral water'
Kofi was somewhat mollified
'Ok gentlemen you may stay - but no funny business.'
The light drizzle and hushed tones of the windshield wipers were the only sounds in the car next to baxter's heavy breathing.
He eyed the lights contemptuously, they seemed to be obstinately refusing to change. 'Come on! he shouted, thumping the wheel in frustration. Amber flicked up and he had just moved his foot down to the pedal when a screeching tempest of piano keys attached to the falling body of a Baby-Grand Piano crashed through the roof of the car killing him instantly.
A few steps away, the ethereal figure of Baxter's guardian angel watched his soul depart and hung his head in despair. It wasn't as if he hadn't tried...At another table in the Egyptian Bistro Bruce was busy extolling the advantages of direct advertising to his colleague.
' Listen right, we could reach thousands of people, accept all major credit cards - it would be a license to print money!'
said Bruce animatedly.
'Bruce, we're meant to be secret agents, not Blue Coal salesmen'
AgentX.com shook his head despairingly.
'We have no need to advertise instantly'
A very surprised Bob suddenly materialised on the pavement next to a twisted pile of wood covered the remains of a Chevy Geo. He'd barely had time to register this fact when passer-by sidled up to Bob and said:
'Do you know what he said before he died? I just heard it as I was bending down to tie my shoe laces, when that piano fell out of that window.'
they said pointing.
'But I expect you're going to tell me.'
'The dying pilchard bleeds under a turquoise moon.'
- who it was that teleported me to the desert like that?
He shifted in his sitting position uneasily on the sandy rock.
'Damned Egyptian Prunes', he thought to himself...
Meanwhile, in a basement near Reading, a shifty looking bloke picked up a phone, dialled a number waited a bit and then spoke the word 'Nazistormtrooper' into the hand piece.
Back at Muswell Hill...
With an audible 'pop!' Bob and the desert rock reappeared on the crossing island of the busy street.
'What in the WORLD is this desert shaped rock doing outside a UPS office?'
As Bob sat musing both the contents of the message and the sudden existence of a desert rock in a city, he heard a very strange sound. A quiet, buzzing noise, that droned on in the background. It would go, and come. Go, and come. Almost like clockwork.
He looked around, and Agent Bruce gave him thumbs up from inside the Egyptian bistro. Agent X.com seemed to be arguing violently with him, though the former was ignoring him.
Bob looked in the other direction, hoping that perhaps Guy, the UPS man would walk out of the office and be able to tell him what the hell was going on.
He looked up the street, and suddenly, it was clear to him! He knew where the sound was coming from!
It was the huge policeman who had chased them down the first alley-way sitting on the corner, snoring!
Bob wondered in amazement at how that man was able to sleep through all of the sirens of the ambulances and fire trucks that came to remove the piano from Baxter's head.
When just then the Fake Gestapo agent appeared from round the opposite corner leading a charge of The Criminal Federation of Stage and Screen Talent. As this riotous procession careered down the street, the policeman made signs of motion.
The Gestapo officer at the front of the group threw the bottle of peroxide Jill had left behind earlier. Bob instinctively ducked and the bottle smashed on the shoulder of a bystander who was wearing a back to front shirt.
'Ello, Ello, Ello'
said our the British Bobby springing up behind the Gestapo officer.
'Oi'm h'afraid I've got you bang to rights my little European friend. I'm arresting you for a bleach of the priest.'
'You can't do that.'
'He's really ~!*'
Tim hastily pressed a large red button marked 'Multithread Postings Drive - only use in extreme emergency.'
The craft jerked slightly.
'I'm not used to a dimension drive with a manual shift.'
The Drop-ship shimmered back into a more solid form and hovered over the UPS headquarters.
'Reality should return to normal about now.'
He looked around the cockpit but Bob, Guy, Jill and Dr Edgbaston and the grand piano from the cocktail lounge had all vanished.
'Bother! They must have been shifted out of the ship.'
Meanwhile in the Astoria Hotel a voice came over the tannoy system 'Phone call for Professor Nazi-storm-trooper. Prof. Nazi-storm-trooper please contact reception... '
A short, podgy, balding man with a grey beard waddled over to the white courtesy phone.
''Allo? 'Allo? Zis is Professor Nazistormtrooper. Who iz diz?'
A cold voice, muffled as though the speaker was talking through a face flannel, said,
'Yeees? Vhat do you want?'
The professor tapped his foot impatiently.
'I know the answer.'
Professor Nazistormtrooper became agitated.
'Vhat iz it?'
'You must tell me something first.'
the voice admonished in a condescending tone.
'Oh, fery vell. De dying pilshard bleedz under zee turquoiz moon. Now tell mi!!'
The voice dropped down an octave or two, adopted a husking breathless tone.
'You want to know... what happened to the story... and why it got so messed up...'
The professor was practically jumping.
'Yes! Vhy? Vhat REALLY happent?'
'... and what happened to Bob, and Jill, and Agent X, and Tim?'
The voice continued to bait the old man.
The voice said:
'Well, do you remember when the agents were in the drop-ship on their way back form Siberia?'
The Professor grunted in the affirmative. He had thought that scene in Siberia with the train had worked out very neatly.
'So Boutros and UPS Guy had heard about a planned attack on the BBG listening post housed in the UPS depot at Muswell Hill in North London. So in order to get back in time to foil the dastardly plan of Gonzaroolio and the clownz, they activated the experimental multithread postings drive. This was a calculated risk, but it would have worked out well. However, there was a double agent on board -someone working for the Big Cheese. This double agent had tampered with the 'narrative-continuity-generator' so that when the drive was activated it created a huge, unstable simulpost bubble that expanded consuming all the common sense for the next few posts.
Someone tried to cover it up by going to a commercial break earlier but was merely absorbed into the vortex of the expanding bubble and eventually it grew completely out of control and narrative-continuity collapsed completely.
The Drop-ship then arrived at the UPS depot and the drive was shut down, so we should now be able to return to the story.'
said the professor,
'So what is a happening now, exactly?'
'The clownz are waiting in an Egyptian bistro in Muswell Hill, over the road from the UPS depot. It turns out that this bistro is actually run by Boutros's wife Leia Maria Boutros-Ghali - the couple are of course Egyptian so the agents can creep in through the back way and capture the clownz before they strike.'
'Where is Boutros and what happened about UPS guy getting that body for him? We all assumed that is Dr. Edgbaston, the neurosurgeon was going to reattach it for him?'
'Jill Bob, Arthur, X Heddingly and Boutros are all sat in the reception area of the hotel, behind you.'
The professor turned and there they were calmly sipping iced teas in the guests lounge.
said the professor,
'and this double agent, who is it?'
'Oh yes. Can you remember where Tim came from?'
'Wasn't he there all along?'
'No, he wasn't - he tagged along after the incident where Bob was taken away by the enemy on that submarine.'
'I don't understand.'...
To be continued...