We've been out here on the ice for what seems like hours now. The frostbite will be worth it, if I can just get my point
across in the next few minutes.
Pinniped is staring down into the hole with an intensity fuelled by inner fury. Now and again, a silver flash streaks across
his field of vision. His response to the appearance of fish is like lightning. He does nothing whatsoever, instantly.
'What are you watching them for, if you don't intend catching them?'
Pinniped's reply is in the usual lime-green Comic Sans, but only the font attributes are printable.
'You shouldn't really speak in that shade of green, you know, Pinniped. It must be hard to read in Alabaster.'
'No-one uses Alabaster'
says the seal, with a toneless finality.
'It's like a big, dead expanse of ice in Alabaster. You'd have to be a s**ding penguin to want to use Alabaster'
'There might be more people using it than you think!'
I suggest, wondering if such a thing could be true.
'Just like the BB-s**ding-C to start you up in Alabaster. Neutralise emotion from the very start. Impose mind-control.
Insinuate fear of open spaces.'
'No, that's fear of seaweed. You got mauled by Mycroft over that one, remember.'
'I've checked the spelling since then. It's right now.'
As I speak, I'm watching the Spell-Checker, which is lurking ominously
several yards away. Today it resembles some kind of vulture, poised to peck out any conveniently-located eyeballs.
Dictionary of English Improvements :
Conveinience - the blood-vessel in the crook of the arm, easily entered by a needle and as such directly connected to a major
'That thing's in a heavy mood today'
'I like that colour better, Pinniped.'
'Suits the mood and looks good in Goo. Dappled highlights in the water. Sunlight shimmering over that beautiful silver-sleek
torso in the top left corner.'
'That's not a seal, Pinniped. It's just a blob.'
'Please yourself, loser. I happen to know her personally.'
Pinniped grins wickedly, and this perversely raises my
spirits. It's the first time I've seen him smile in days.
'Anyway, I was talking about the Spell-Checker.'
His mood is evidently verdant once more.
'I'm a bit worried about that thing. What can you remember it looking like?'
'I dunno. It keeps changing form, doesn't it? Bird, cat, dog, beetle. That sort of thing.'
'Doesn't that put you in mind of anything?'
For some inexplicable reason, Pinniped feels moved to perform an
ungainly travesty of the Sand-Dance. I must be looking particularly blank, because he continues:
'You're supposed to be the educated one. OK, what about the initials?'
'Of the dictionary, stupid.'
'Dictionary of English Improvement... DIE. Is that what you mean?'
'DEI, you total a**ehole. DEI. As in God. The Spell-Checker thinks it's a s**ding God.'
'You're paranoid. It's just a... well... just a Spell-Checker.'
Pinniped exudes withering contempt.
'So how do you explain the omnipresence?'
he demands, darkly.
Dictionary of English Improvements:
Omnipresents: Gifts you didn't want on account of their extreme obviousness. You've probably got them all several times
Pinniped emits a series of savage barks, and lumbers over the ice in vain pursuit of the hideous application. It spreads its foul
(and presumably temporary) wings and flaps sedately away. Pinniped returns to the hole in the ice, looking disconsolate.
I put in hopefully.
'There's something really important that I need to ask you about.'
'The BBC put that thing here!'
'and I'm going to destroy it.'
His eyes suddenly light up in a murderously cruel leer.
'And I know just the guy for the job! Perfect!'
He is making across the ice in a long, slow gait; the nearest thing imaginable to an otarine at a full gallop.
'You mean 'Lollop''
yells a distant Pinniped.
There comes no answer from the Spell-Checker. No Suggestions.
'Hah, gotcha, you disgusting spawn of Bill Gates!'
'Please wait, Pinniped! This is important...'
But he's already gone.
Several days have passed.
'So what was it that you needed to talk to me about just now?'
'Stop using clunky narrative devices as an excuse for avoiding me!'
'It was about the
Albatross, back then. I wanted to know what you were playing at, employing a mentally-unstable seabird.'
'I had to put things on a formal footing.'
he replies tersely.
'She was getting through a lot of fish.'
'Miss Coleridge is hardly the point any longer, though, is she? What about Pingu?'
I shudder at the mental image of a
plasticine penguin in battledress, brandishing a submachine gun.
'There's nothing special about psychotic penguins these days. Pingu was created at much the same time as Rambo. At the
moment that careless individuals let these creatures loose, the mood of the time is innate in their personality. Look at that
damn penguin Nick Park created. Straight out of Tarantino. There's even a heavily-armed penguin in Spyro the
I look around nervously.
'You haven't gone and called up a dragon, have you?'
Pinniped looks thoughtful.
'I might just work on that. Anyway, Pingu's gone off to sort out the Spell-Checker. I think we can count on ruthless
efficiency. Good riddance.'
'The last I heard from Pingu, he was more likely to sort you out. He was screaming something about you stealing lumps of
'That was only a tear. You said I needed to show proper emotion in the Lighthouse Bar, didn't you? Fat lot of good that did
'And what about Winnie the Pooh? A definitively lovable children's character is going round punching innocent researchers
in the mouth!'
'Look - don't blame me. He'd have been perfectly alright if they'd left him like Ernest Shepherd wanted him. He's got it in
for Disney for screwing him up, just like Pingu's got in for the BBC.'
'That's complete rubbish, Pinniped. It's you who's turned the Pier into a guerilla training camp for animated malcontents.'
'You're exaggerating again, Lion.'
says Pinniped, coolly.
'You like to over-dramatise everything. I made my resources available to a just cause, that's all.'
'This hasn't got anything to do with your vendetta against the BBC, has it?'
Pinniped whistles innocently, a surprising feat considering the morphology of his mouthparts. Though presumably anything is
possible, having recently watched Pingu biting the pins out of a clutch of hand-grenades.
The audience seems to be over, but I'm starting to have a very bad feeling about all of this.
To be continued...