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
For a full list of characters and previous chapters go to the h2g2 Storytime
Later that afternoon , Bob, Jill, Arthur, X and XXXX paced back and forth nervously.
'How long have they been in there?'
'Almost four hours now.'
There came from behind the closed bedroom door the shrill-wail of a buzz-saw.
'I can't take this for much longer.'
There was knock at the door. Bruce put down his beer can and strode across to the door.
'Who is it?'
he said through the door.
'It's me, Guy.'
Bruce recognised the face through the spy-hole, he opened the door.
UPS Guy stepped in and took off his coat.
'Whee's Boutros, is he out of surgery yet?'
'No we are still waiting.'
At that, the doors across the room were flung aside and Heddingly marched briskly from inside then removed his gloves and facemask.
'The operation has been a 100% success!'
'Is Boutros alright? Has he got used to the new body yet?'
'We had a little trouble wiring up the nerves down his spinal cord. At one point every time he blinked he kicked
his left leg into the air but we got that one sorted in the end. He's in there right now resting, he's still a little groggy from the
anaesthetic but he should pick up soon, you can go and see for yourself if you like.'
Everyone in the room peered around the doorway as Bob and Jill pushed forward and into the bedroom.
Boutros lay on the bed. He looked... different...
Bob was the first to recover and recognise the glamorous figure that lay half-conscious on the bed blinking gently
and smelling faintly of formaldehyde.
'Its Imelda Romuáldez Marcos the former beauty queen and wife of the Argentinean Dictator1'
'Didn't she become a powerful figure after the institution of martial law in Argentina in 1972?'
Agreed Agent X
'I seem to remember she was often criticised for her appointments of relatives to lucrative governmental and industrial positions while she held the posts of governor of Metropolitan Manila (1975-86) and minister of human settlements and ecology (1979-86).'
added UPS Guy,
'Her body was preserved after her untimely death. Actually it's a little known fact that she didn't die of cancer but was in fact transplanted into a new body by the CIA in return for certain unspecified favours.
We managed to pull a few strings and secure the old one, replacing it with a lifelike polymer dummy.'
'I hate to be a party pooper,'
'but isn't that going to make Boutros just a tad conspicuous ... and whatever is Leia Maria Boutros-Ghali going to say?'
'Perhaps we can get him a face lift, while we're at it?'
offered Agent X.
'Come let's leave Boutros to get some rest.'
said X, and turned to leave.
Bob went to get a glass of water from the sink-unit.
X was already half way out the door.
Guy, Arthur and XXXX were on the far side of the room, near Heddingly who stood over Boutros's brow.
This meant that there was absolutely nobody near the window when the wrecking ball exploded through the
Choking dust, bricks and lethal shards of glass were sent flying into the room. Bob threw himself to the ground. Jill
fell backwards through the open doorway. Arthur XXXX, X, and Guy dived for safety and covered their heads with their
arms from the glass. Heddingly stood rigidly still and watched as the chain and ball swung between him and the bed just
inches above Boutros's nose and then shifted and went flew back through the exceeding large hole it had made on the way
This all took about 8 seconds.
'EVERYONE! JUST STAY EXACTLY WERE YOU ARE... AND DON'T... BLOODY
shouted Tim as he scaled the rigging from the crane's cab to the end of the arm and jumped onto the
balcony's shattered lip.
'I assure my dear fellow, I had not intention of going anywhere... possibly ever again!'
said Heddingly with a slight twitch.
'SHUT UP! Hands in the air... all of you!'
Tim said as he waved a large and powerful-looking automatic rifle at the group.
'But what about the Riot-Squad officers, I saw you taken away with?'
'So what do you plan to do with us Mr Tim?'
'Well seeing as you were busy whoring with this tramp... '
Tim gestured to the prostrate female form of the unconscious Boutros,
'... and that Head-thing is nowhere around, I guess I'll just have to take you all as hostages back to
the Red Leicester. Pity. I had wanted to execute him here in front of you all.'
Arthur and X exchanged brief but meaningful glances
- look, he doesn't know it's him!
- I know!
- What do we do now?
- Just go along with it, we've got out of worse scrapes than this before. Remember the Custom's storage locker at the
airport? The bare-knuckles fight to the Death in New York? The Goat-trading convention in Kreplakistahn?
- I still have the scars.
- Yes, well that's my point. If we just go with Tim, no one need get shot. We will be one step closer to Leicesterscnicttch Kitanya-irrania-tatonya-karenska-alisov, and when Boutros comes to, he's bound to realise what has happened and come and rescue us.
- You think?
- Oh absolutely.
- Yes, now remember LOOK terrified.
- How's this?
'The Red Leicester will be pleased with my catch.'
'I'm taking you all to him... RIGHT NOW!'
He pointed the gun and the group all filed out of the main door to the room.
On the floor above, Mr Edgar Burrows, 56 clung with grim determination to the ledge of his window 14 storeys up. And swore quietly and earnestly never to call his wife Edna, a 'daft stupid cow' ever, ever again.
Meanwhile. Inside the mechanical heart of Big Ben, the clock tower above the Houses of Parliament in London, The Red Leicester was pacing impatiently...
The body of Imelda Marcos paced the fourth floor corridor of the Royal London Hotel. Atop its shoulders was the head of former UN Secretary General, Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali. It had taken him a while to learn to move his legs in the proper order again but considering that it had been several years since he had lost his own body, he got the hang of moving about as an elderly South American woman remarkably quickly. The body seemed to function much better in high-heeled shoes, of which several thousand had come free. He had woken up to utter chaos.
He returned to the room where rain was blowing through the hole where one wall was missing. He was alone there. His
agency had been taken, and everything was up to him now. He stretched his new body. It was not ideal for anti-terrorism, as
bodies go, but surely better than nothing. He would, however, need help. He picked up the phone and made a call. After
choosing a fine pair of scarlet stilettos, Boutros -Boutros Imelda Marcos Ghali stalked out of the hotel.
Later, by the lake in St. James's Park, a small old woman with an unusually large and ugly head, and a man with a curly green wig, heavy face make-up and long flappy shoes, were seen feeding the ducks.
'I have a proposition.'
'First tell me, who has taken over the Criminal Federation of Stage and Screen Talent since the demise of
'That would be me,'
said Gonzaroolio with more than a little pride.
'I thought so. Was it worth killing him then?'
sniggered the clown.
'Well, following that little turf war, you are now in sole control of the Red Leicester's agents in the UK, right,
-the whole operation?'
The clown glanced over and nodded.
'So, now it's your operation alone - what do you feel about freeing yourself from the boss?'
'Severing ties with the mother country.'
Gonzaroolio appeared to consider this and threw bread at ducks, finally he said
'That might be profitable.'
Meanwhile, Tim the natty dresser was herding Boutros's agents up the winding staircase of the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster.
At the top of the winding staircase, Tim stopped short, causing a chain reaction in which Jill bumped into him, Bob
bumped into Jill, Agent X bumped into Bob, who was bumped into by Arthur and then Bruce (AKA Agent XXXX) bumped
into Arthur. In short, they all walked into each other, and pushed Tim off balance. He landed heavily on his rear, ripping the
pocket on the seat of his natty-looking pants.
That would have been the ideal time for any of the agents (or Bob) to perform some dazzling escape feat, but
unfortunately they were all tied up, and couldn't.
Tim swore. (He would have spat, h2g2 frowns on that sort of thing.)
'I don't know where the hell I'm supposed to go! My current writer isn't British!'
'Why not use your portable story-disambiguator, and fold the seams of the Story-Time continuum, to jump us
from the Clock to someplace the writer knows a bit better? Say, the Mid-West?'
Agent X smacked Bob in the head with his tied-together hands.
'Don't help him! If we stay here, someone might come to our rescue whilst Tim is still struggling to think of something to do!'
'Who? You mean Bou -!'
everyone shouted at Bob, who cowered for a minute until they all looked away in annoyance.
'that might not be a bad idea... '
Tim pulled from the inner pocket of his natty suit a small metal device with a large red button on it.
Inscribed on the button in small black letters were the words:
'In the name of all that is sacred don't push the
butto - arrgh!'
'In the name of all that is sacred don't push the butto - arrrgh!'
He didn't finish.
Tim pressed the button and there was a flash of white light that left purple patches on the back of your eyelids.
There materialised in front of them a thin, glossy pamphlet which floated serenely to the ground.
'What is it?'
'It's a holiday brochure.'
said Tim with sudden inspiration.
'So now what?'
'Well I guess we just pick were we want to go. said another.'
There was some brief and hurried discussion and eventually a unanimous decision was agreed. Tim pressed the button. There was another flash of white light that left purple patches on the eyelids of the local London populous and a few wondering where the Houses of Parliament had disappeared to.
The inhabitants of the Bahamas stood around large, impressive looking stone buildings that had appeared out of nowhere on their tropical beaches. The writers don't know the geography of the Bahamas any better than they do London, but the climate is much nicer this time of year.
Meanwhile, word had reached Boutros that the Houses of Parliament had disappeared.
After his meeting with Gonzaroolio, Boutros had come back to the Secret Headquarters of The Agency.
It had taken some doing to get the guards to let him through. He reflected now on what an asset a female form might prove to be. And yet, he was troubled by all of this. When he had... lost his body he had a first felt helpless but with the help and friendship of Guy and Arthur he had grown used to his disembodied status. Now; now he had a new body. Heddingly had done a good job.
But still it wasn't HIS body....
His thought turned away from this. So The Houses of Parliament were missing. His best agents were in the grasp of his enemy. These two events though at first glance seemed unrelated, but Boutros suspected otherwise.
He had a plan, Gonzaroolio had consented, but first he needed to find his friends. He turned in his chair to the large video wall behind him and started to scan all the channels and frequencies for news of sudden occurrences of architecture for no apparent reason what-so-ever.
'I'm going to END THIS!!!!'
If anyone apart from your Humble Narrator had been stood with Boutros while he thought about all of these things, they might have noted that he wore an expression of wrath. All of those years of calm, patience and temperance had been striped away and there now sat a (man/women - take your pick) about to wage war. But if they thought Boutros looked a little intense well that was just fluffy bunnies to the fury that the Red Leicester was about to unleash...
To be continued...