Previously in Future Prefect... after being arrested shortly after arriving in America, Bath was sentenced to be executed. Bill George Hillary Lewis Lewinsky, a fat Californian with a feeling that his life is incomplete and an unwillingness to pay over eight thousand dollars for a renewal of the licence for his computer's operating system, took the spur-of-the-moment decision to attempt to break Bath out of prison. While he was formulating his plan he encountered our other intrepid heroes, who used his knowledge to help them free Bath. Now, they have taken refuge in an old bomb shelter a mile from the prison.
'So why are you here, anyway?'
Bill asked once the sound of pursuit had gone past them. The bomb shelter was damp and dingy, having not been maintained for at least fifty years, but it was suitably well hidden, and a few spells from Bath had concealed it completely. The wizard had also obliterated their tracks and laid a false trail for the entertainment of the prison guards.
'We're attempting to save our civilisation.'
Agnes said, her voice slightly bitter.
'Little did I know it would involve breaking people out of prison.'
She still had stone dust in her hair from Bath demolishing the prison wall, and clearly wasn't happy about it.
'Recently, unpredictable and devestating earthquakes have been affecting our part of the world.'
Pord explained with a reproachful look at Agnes. The Scottish singer was becoming increasingly irascible as their journey went on.
'Our scientists, led by The Geraldine here, have been trying to determine their cause, but the only conclusion they have been able to come to is that it's nothing we're doing, and it's not natural either. Therefore, we came here to see if it's anything you're doing. And if it is, we plan to stop it.'
Bill thought for a few moments.
'It's possible, I suppose... '
'... but I can't think of anything which might use enough power to be able to cause an earthquake on the other side of the world. Especially since we haven't had any here. Not for decades, from what I hear.'
'None at all?'
The Geraldine asked.
'Not even small ones?'
'No. Not even small ones.'
'Hmm. Is it possible that your scientists have worked out a way to channel the energy which would have gone into your own earthquakes to another part of the planet? From what we've seen so far, I can't imagine they'd care very much about demolishing our cities and killing our people as long as it saves their own skins.'
'I guess so.'
'But... wouldn't that take an immense amount of power? How could they channel that much energy without anybody noticing? The machinery at the very least would be enormous, wouldn't it?'
'I haven't got the faintest idea.'
The Geraldine admitted,
'But if they have worked out something like that, I would very much like to see it.'
'So we can blow it up?'
'I was going to say scientific curiosity,'
The Geraldine said,
'but blowing it up would be fun as well. After I've stolen a copy of the plans, of course.'
'So why did they send you?'
'We each have something unique to add to the group.'
'My telepathy is of course extremely useful, and I know several other useful tricks which could come in handy.'
'That's a secret!'
Pord said, blushing slightly. Agnes gave him a sly look.
'I've heard rumours about you.'
'Does this mean...?'
'I know perfectly well what you're talking about - '
'Of course you do, you're a telepath.'
'- and I refuse to comment.'
Pord said finally. Agnes laughed.
'So it is true!'
'Wonderful. I'll have to write a song about you. I'm a singer... '
she explained to Bill, who was looking confused.
'... but because I have the ability to make myself and selected nearby people or objects invisible, Pord here persuaded me to come along.'
'Yes, thank you Agnes.'
'As you can see, Bill, we didn't bring her along for the pleasure of her company. As for the rest of us - Bath, as you've seen, is an accomplished wizard, and the holder of three Peta awards, although I'm not entirely sure how useful his award for sneaking is.'
'I wouldn't blame him for getting arrested.'
Bill said hastily.
'They watch the coastlines very carefully. They probably saw him on infra-red detectors or something. What's a Peta award?'
'It's a prize.'
'There are about four thousand different categories in which one can win a Peta award, and in order to do so, you have to compete against everyone else who thinks they should get one in the category you're entering. There aren't really any rules, and it's one of the most challenging competitions anyone can enter.'
'So what are the other two you have for then?'
'The making of chocolate sponge cake, and impersonating a penguin.'
'Yes. Now, if we can get on to more important matters... how long are these prison guards likely to keep looking for me?'
'Days, probably. They won't give up until they've lost all trace of you and have searched absolutely everywhere.'
'When they have, we'll only have the police to deal with, and maybe the secret service and the army as well.'
'You're full of good cheer.'
'Do you happen to have any ideas who we should get Pord to scan in order to find out what we want to know?'
'No. I don't know anything about things like that, and if I don't, you can pretty much guarantee it's either very, very new or very, very secret.'
'So how do we ferret out very, very secret information in this country?'
'I suppose we could ask the Dustbins of Wisdom.'
'It's a myth.'
'But one most people assume is true. It is said that somewhere in the city of Los Angeles are three dustbins which, if found, will answer any three questions put to them.'
'Do you know of anyone who claims to have found these Dustbins of Wisdom in recent years?'
'Not personally, but there's supposed to be an old woman on the outskirts of Los Angeles who found them and used their answers to become extremely rich on the stock market. I suppose she must have asked them who to invest in and when to sell her shares.'
'Then we should go and find her!'
The Geraldine declared.
'Pord can get close enough to scan her, and we can see if she really did find the Dustbins of Wisdom. At the very least, we'll be closer to where they're supposed to be.'
'Bill, how do we get to Los Angeles?'
'With you lot in tow? Not very easily. You don't exactly look like ordinary Americans'
'What if I make us invisible?'
'Then we could stow away on a freight train. Wouldn't be very comfortable, but it'll get us there. And it's much faster than walking.'
'Sounds good to me,'
The Geraldine said.
To Bill's surprise, the journey to Los Angeles proceeded without any trouble at all, and by ten o'clock that night they were all crouched in the shadow of a garden wall, peering up at a large house located right in the most expensive part of the city. There were lights on at some of the windows, and Pord was attempting to use his telepathy to determine if anyone was actually there, and if they were the person Bill thought they were.
Agnes whispered after they'd waited for five minutes or so.
'Only the staff.'
Pord replied equally quietly.
'Butler, chef, pastry chef, two maids and a personal fitness trainer. This woman's certainly rich.'
'So it is a woman then?'
'Yes, but I don't know if she's the one we're looking for.'
'That would depend,'
a woman's voice said loudly out of the darkness,
'on what you're looking for.'
The h2g2ers and Bill exchanged startled looks and peered in the direction the voice had come from. A few moments later, an old woman hobbled into the light cast from a nearby window, leaning heavily on a walking stick but peering at them intently.
'I thought it might be you. Been waiting for you nearly fifty years or thereabouts. Why don't you come inside and have a drink?'
'You were expecting us?'
Pord sounded very startled, and Bill thought his face looked a little pale in the dim light.
'Of course. I was told about you when I was young. Come inside, and I'll explain everything you're supposed to know.'
Who is this mysterious old woman with so much money and a personal fitness trainer? Did she really find the Dustbins of Wisdom? Are they the source of her startling foreknowledge of our heroes' appearance, or is she simply lying about the whole thing? And why has Pord's face gone pale? Find out in the next enlightening installment of Future Prefect, the story saga with less sausage, more overcooked cabbage and far too much mediocre wit.