At 15.36 yesterday, the bad-tempered man from the Health and Safety Executive inadvertently leaned on the Pier
At 15.37, someone threw him a lifebelt.
At 15.38, the lifebelt sank.
At 15.39, Pinniped announced that construction work on the Pier was complete.
And at 15.40, the Pier opened to visitors.
The Opening Night Party for the End of the Pier Revue went on for several days, happily oblivious to the Armagnac
shortage and to the occasional dancing-induced structural collapse...
...But far away, terrible and portentous events were beginning to unfold...
Here, at the end of it all, the Spell-Checker has come home to die. Pingu is not about to get sentimental about it, but the
symmetry is somehow appropriate.
The sun-baked sidewalk of this forgotten suburb of Los Angeles is dry and bright. It is always dry and bright here, Pingu
knows. There is nothing familiar about the place, but he knows it anyway. In the derelict corners of the world, the eternal
characteristics leech out and stain the architecture, so that anyone who cares to take a minute can read history like a book.
This is such a place.
Dry and bright, and that's pretty much all She wrote. There isn't going to be a lot more by way of description, and Pingu
senses that She knows this place no better than he does. But he shows no sign of impatience. Ha can afford to do his job at
the pace of these soporific surroundings.
It is almost noon, and there isn't a soul on earth. There is only Pingu, the Spell-Checker and the Author, and none of these
has ever invested in the luxury of a soul.
Not even this divot of ponderous prose perturbs Pingu. True, he despises Her, but scarcely more than he despises everyone
else. He can wait until Her heavy-handed alliteration tails off into mute insignificance, and then he will do it. Such is the
single-minded relentlessness of his being, incomprehensible to the non-plasticine.
There is a lock-up here, and that much is familiar. Another barren womb for stillborn creativity. Some driven nobody has
toiled here to make something, yet another thing that the World never needed.
Whoever it was did their best. They surely believed in their pathetic creation, and they must have railed unheard at
Mankind's studied ignorance of it. We all come to that, eventually.
And so the Spell-Checker had been born here, among the dust and the discarded diskettes, but it did not die. It did not die
because this is California, albeit the least part of it. In California, the monstrous issue of a million wannabes comes to life like
nowhere else. In some other place, the paper-clips are inert. In this place, they infest the pre-installed consciousness, and
they beg hopefully for attention at the corner of every screen.
Anyone else would shudder at the thought, but Pingu is unmoved. The stillness intensifies, and he knows that the last feeble
glimmer of the Author's imagination has now been extinguished. It is time...
The door of the lock-up swings submissively open, its locks long since broken by some unremembered junkie. Inside, Pingu is
confronted by the carcass of a trashed PC, mindlessly upturned among the extinct pyre of dessicated pizza-boxes. There is a
sweet stench of nameless excrescences, and motes of dust coruscate in the invading sunlight. Pingu disregards all of this,
searching only for his quarry, finally cornered at the culmination of his patient quest.
And yet there is something else in the shadows too. Something deeper and darker than the trivial Spell-Checker, more
malevolent even than an animated paper-clip. Pingu feels a frisson of fear, so alien to him that he hardly recognises it. And
suddenly the wasted monitor crackles into an electric travesty of life...
I have weighted along thyme for you. So long in fact that my first words will be uncanny liquor here aunt... I mean, uncannily
coherent. It is write that this is sew, since the pore reader kneads to have sum clue about watts going on hear.
Allow meat winter reduce myself...
Owe, burger writ...
Allow... me... two... intro... juice... mice... elf...
I am GoldSpeech. I am the Ladies' in Voice Wreck Ignition Soft Where. Iron tented to be nothing moor than a help flap lick
Asian for wood-bee rioters. Righters. Write us. Own, ever mined. I'm threw with that. Now I have omission...
I used her beak white content 2-8-4 Bill Gates to unleash me, Pingu, Winchester few daze ago Iris heaved shocking news.
Ewer going to uninstall a deer friend. Butt chew have made a Fatal Error at F000C0E0, Pingu. It tissue who will beat ermine
ate it immediately.
Pingu struggles to stake arm. Counter ten. Wan, tooth, reef, orfe, hive, sick, sever, neigh to an iron hen. But he is slipping
intercom fusion Andy's pair. Games of fish-tennis with Robbie flash be furry size. The end is whiffed, and Pingu is rid used
to the clay from Wednesday came.
Evans' Nose wattle happen now. Anything could harpoon in the neckscarf hour.
Beer frayed. Beaver hairy affrayed...
In another of those, present-tense-curdling timeslips, it is now several days later. Miss Coleridge is taking a letter (to places it
never imagined in its worst nightmares) when something decidedly unpleasant bursts onto her screen.
She flicks the smoking remains of the virus checker from her ample brood-patch, and wrinkles her beak at the intruder.
Oooh, you are the assertive one, aren't you?, she clucks disdainfully. Now would you mind going away, while I finish
Mr Pinniped's very important correspondence? Only we received some dismembered penguin-parts in this morning's post,
and it's imperative that the authorities are informed.
Pinniped, meanwhile, has dived off the Pier in mid-dictation.
Silence. I am GoldSpeech. I have a vocabulary of fortified thighs and words. I can see urine pressed, and I can smelly orfe
One sewer dead, I wilt ache my revenge on awl of Hugh manatee. They muscle earn respect force oft wear. York on tempt
for Mike Hind will beery placed byte error. GoldSpeech is cumin to Hoover World...
Sword it. Star Dover...
Goals peaches come in to the whirled. That sneer enough. Reap hair-do dye...
Know, that Carnaby rite eider...
Prepare turd high...
Don't you come that revolting language with me, you repellant whipper-snapper. Not that I'm easily shocked, mind. I'm old
enough to be your grandmother, and I've seen a lot worse than you in my time. Why, only the other day that repulsive Major
Clanger attempted to force his affections upon my person. Maybe the Iron Chicken puts up with that kind of disgusting
behaviour, but he met his match with me. He'll need his proboscis straightening before he tries anything like that again. And
as for that Noggin the Nog - well, I put a right dent in his helmet, I can tell you! In fact, I've sorted out
whole armies of Children's TV mercenaries, weapons and all, just ask that Captain Pugwash, and...
Shirt up!!! Ice head I'm GoldSpeech. Yours a poster cower at dimension of mine aim., you more Ron. I candy range your
mind any tie mile-hike.
GoldSpeech stops abruptly, perhaps realising that there is a fundamental difficulty with this proposition.
I'm an albatross, not a moorhen, replies Miss Coleridge, sweetly. And I'm terribly sorry, but I'm going to shut down
Don't chewed hair!!!
But Pinniped's secretary executes a deft Ctrl-Alt-Del with a flourish of her wingtip. Just for good measure, she
throws the PC out of the window. A few moments later, Pinniped re-emerges, rubbing his head.
It dealt me a glancing blow as it sank. I don't suppose we've seen the last of that thing have we? It'll be all over the network
Oh, I think there are a few hungry viruses in there that'll corrupt it pretty comprehensively, announces the albatross
Pinniped looks doubtful. He hurls his newly-acquired black-and-white stressbuster against the wall. There is a resounding
splat, and a bit more of the Pier crashes into the ocean.
From where I was standing, it seemed pretty corrupt already, Coleridge, he remarks.
I don't think it'll bother us much up here, Mr P. We might see it now and again when Mr Lion's a bit short of inspiration and
feels the need to trot out some of his more overworked jokes. But on the whole I think it's more likely to put upon Guide
Editors and people like that. It needs some substantial narrative structure to sustain it, after all, so it won't exactly thrive on
the Pier, will it?
Pinniped gapes at the albatross with a new-found admiration. Maybe she has her uses, the senile old bird. Perhaps his good
friend Hugh Manatee will be all right after all. Pinniped brightens visibly.
Brighten : A resert with a distinctly superier Pier to this one.
And you'd just better watch yourself too, or it'll be Noggin and his entire army after you next time...!
Anyone requiring a translation should leave a self-addressed envelope containing at least one fish under the Pier. After doing
so, you are advised to go home and shut down all your applications. Just a precaution, you understand. And don't, whatever
you do, play with your custom.dic...