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
'Tim started out as an enemy agent'
insisted the voice
'He probably still is one!'
'No, not Tim, he seemed so nice. He certainly dresses well.'
'You see, all that time he spends in the bathroom getting ready, he is really communicating with the his evil bosses!'
'No! I don't believe it! Really?'
the professor was shocked.
'So how do I fit in to all this?'
'You are just a narrative tool to help explain to everyone what is going on.'
said the voice, who then hung up.
said the professor, disappointed, as he popped out of existence.
* All done! See, I told you it sorted itself out in the end. *
Bob marched over to the main desk in and spoke politely but firmly to the receptionist.
'Listen, my good man - I need a neurosurgeon pronto, three single rooms and your honeymoon suite for an indefinite number of nights.'Something felt different Bob thought. He'd started having visions earlier, wild crazy things the true origin of which was a mystery to him but he put it down to having contracted frostbite of the brain and not enough cups of tea. This was different - he felt as if the plot was beginning to come to a head around him, and all unnecessary secondary plots were being wound up. He sensed clarity in the air. This was either portentous or an absolutely load of apocryphal codswallop and he couldn't decide which....
On his private underground monorail, The Red Leicester sped on towards London.
He thought as he sat there.
It had been very fortunate, he was ready to concede, that on-board the nuclear submarine that was to bring Bob to him there had been stationed in the mess-hall one of his very best double agents. Disaster had become opportunity and Tim had stayed and ingratiated himself with the group which, too, was fortunate.
The Red Leicester flicked a grin off and on at this, oh yes! that was indeed a useful twist; a line directly into the hearts and minds of the secret agents. He had instructed Tim personally to sabotage the 'narrative-continuity-generator' on board the Dropship. That had been a useful diversion. Until then he could not leave his hideout. He had no doubt that having abducted Boutros, that there was a surveillance operation around his headquarters in Siberia. The Simulpost bubble as it had spread across the globe had in a wave of something that was probably quantum, disrupted the normal fabric of Story-Time and bizarre consequences flowed forth. He could still picture the look of mute terror and incomprehension on the man's face when a tyrannosaurus Rex with 'Flopsy' on the nametag had popped into existence beside him.
Again with the smile.
But now it faded. Where was Tim? All lines of communication had been cut-off during the bubble's expansion - that much had been expected - but now, Tim really ought to have at least re-ported back to him. He had wanted to tell him he would be coming to London himself to see this mater brought to a close. But still nothing on the communicator, only static.
As he sped along underneath France, The Red Leicester thought about where he might find Tim and thought nasty things about what he would do to any of the Secret Agency if he ever got his hands on them....
There was a steady dripping noise. Tim realised at last that he was hearing something and so by definition he was conscious. What was happening? Where was he? Most importantly: what was he wearing? Tim opened his eyes. It was bad. Real bad. His suit was ruined.
How had he got here? That was right - he had abandoned his search for the Agents when his receiver had received some garbled interference about the Red Leicester coming across to see him. Clearly the lines weren't so badly damaged after the blackout, away from the epicentre, but still he hadn't been able to raise The Boss. He'd entered one of the secret monorail tunnels but had slipped and knocked himself out on the stony floor
Tim was prone in a puddle of foul and oily water in a tunnel? Sewer? A faint glimmer of foetid light revealed a curved ceiling, covered in slime, just a few feet from his face.
The light was coming from a gap in the tunnel roof just a few feet away. Slowly Tim turned over and began to crawl through the filth towards the light....
A wall slid silently open and a small monorail car sidled to a halt in front of him.
The monorail's door lifted open and
Leicesterschniictch Kitanya-irrania-tatonya-karenska-alisov unfurled from within. He was a large man, wearing a good suit and sporting a trim black moustache. He bore above his left brow a small angry scar that stretched around to his temple.
he said simply.
'I am here to deal with this matter personally. You have served me well as my agent on the inside of The Agency. Continue to do so and you shall be well rewarded. Come with me now. You can tell all that you've learned. I am most eager to hear of you progress in preventing Boutros regaining a new body.'
He gestured and Tim nervously approached the side door and slid inside.
'Well... y'know... it's funny you should mention that...'
Tim was cut off as the doors closed firmly, the monorails wheels were lifted up into its underbelly. On the side small panels slid aside and a complex gantry of, what looked like skis, pressed themselves against the side of the sewer.
The engine re-ignited and the car glided off down the passage towards the light.
Meanwhile in the Honeymoon suite of the Royal London Hotel, Jill, Agent X, and Agent Bruce(XXXX - he wouldn't give a castlemaine Four-ex for anything else) were sitting around the breakfast table, drinking champagne and smoking Cuban cigars. Boutros's head was sitting on a small yet elegant doily in the middle.
'Jolly good rooms Bob got for us.'
remarked Heddingly in what he thought was a very non-sexual way.
Boutros's head sat on the table, trying to manipulate a straw in order to take a sip from the glass that lay in front of him.
'Say, where is the chap?'
asked Bruce, looking around.
'I haven't seen him for a good six or seven chapters, at least.'
'I think he's with the neurosurgeon!'
Agent X said.
'At least, that's what he said. I'm not so sure she was a neurosurgeon, though. I thought neurosurgeons wore a bit more than what she was wearing. She didn't even have a white lab coat, or a stethoscope.'
'You know what I think?'
'I think we are in the Astoria, not the Royal London'
Realisation gradually dawned - someone had swapped the hotels suites while they weren't looking.
'Bob is probably in mortal danger!'
As one they rushed out of the hotel room, realised the doors were too narrow so reconsidered and rushed out in single file got half-way up the stairs before keeling over unconscious from the drugged champagne.
In the Honeymoon suite Tim had dropped his leggy neurosurgeon disguise and was looking pityingly (but in a slightly sexual way) at a bound and gagged Bob.
'I would say it had been fun - but frankly I found it was tedious and lacking in style!'
Tim pondered as he adjusted his silver grey wig.
'But you do have a really cute body and it would be a shame to spoil it with a bullet hole - so I'll let you live.'
Tim glanced at his watch. By now everyone would be rushing up the stairs to rescue Bob - this really was all too easy. He climbed out onto the fire escape and down to the floor below, along the corridor and tapped on the door to one of the larger suites - there was no answer.
Tim slipped out a pass key opened the door and as he expected the room was deserted except for Boutros Boutros's head fast asleep in its glass jar. The drugged wine will not last long.
Tim thought - so speed was of the essence. He picked up the jar and with a cursory backward glance he closed the door and headed swiftly to the lobby.
The lobby was full of grey-headed gentlemen carrying glass jars with heads in them. Overhead a lurid orange banner proclaimed 'Welcome to the 10th Annual Steve Martin Convention'
Tim was about to blend into the crowd and make good his escape. Unfortunately, he stopped to grab a bagel from the food table and the few crucial seconds he wasted spreading cream cheese proceeded to complicate his life enormously. If only he had just gone out the back...
Instead, he was still in the centre of the lobby, noshing his bagel, when all the doors burst open. The lobby filled with policemen, riot squads, and some very confused animal rights people. (The animal rights folks had thought they were on their way to picket the circus.)
Tim gasped in horror, dropped the bagel, and tried to run. He almost made it out the door when a large hairy hand grabbed his arm, and a raspy voice said:
'I, Heddingly Edgbaston, am placing you under citizen's arrest!'
He executed a quick uppercut to Tim's chin and threw him to the ground. Boutros's capsule somersaulted through the air, which Heddingly caught masterfully under one arm.
It is important, perhaps, to note that in his former life as a witch doctor, Heddingly had experimented with many fermented herbs and potions of distilled watermelon to perfect his cures.
Most importantly of all, he had survived.
Consequently, his immune system was to put it bluntly,
'Steel Plated with nuts on'.
He was the first to awake from the drugged wine and had just gone downstairs to get the desk to call the police when Tim came running through a door and barrelled straight into him. The wine had had other effects as well; his voice sounded a bit hoarse but soon regained its newly discovered rich timbre.
'There you go Officers, there's the cad. Take him away.'
The riot-squad officers dragged Tim off semi-conscious.
The animal-rights lobby had taken to staring angrily at anyone attempting to try the shrimp Hor's d'oeuvres. Boutros stirred in his globe.
'Oh, Heddingly, my word! What a headache! I must have drunk too much of that wine.'
'Oh no, we just foiled another kidnap plan by the same group who had you abducted to Siberia.'
said The Doctor.
'Yes, the police have taken Tim into custody.'
'Tim? But he seemed so nice and you have to admit, he was quite a natty dresser.'
said Boutros with a trace of disappointment.
'So when am I going to get my new body?'
he started again excitedly.
'I have everything prepared. We'll go back upstairs and wake the others and then the operation can begin.'
said Heddingly as he carried Boutros to the lift...
To be continued...