All of a sudden the door burst open.
There stood, highlighted by the doorframe, a large black moth, attracted by the brightness of the lights. Its feathered antenna
played tricks with the shadows, and Cliff (for that was the moth's name) was none too impressed - they had a gig in 20, and the last thing he needed was a baffled backing group.
"I've not got time for this, c'mon we've got to do the sound check!" said the moth leading the way down the dark corridor...
"Is this the bakery on Barn Street?" mumbled Bob (as usual at least 5 minutes behind on current events) as they trooped through the door after the moth-man.
Your Humble Narrator can exclusively confirm to you now, that it was not.
Because, and here we reward those of our readership who pay close attention to the text...this was not the bakery owned by the twisted engineer of the cryo-clowns Mr Smittington, who resides on one Barn Street but the other Cliff Smittington in the phonebook who lived and worked on Barnes Avenue in his self-styled music
workshop known locally as The Bakery.
There is a reason for this...and it is this:
Out back, the old walk-in kiln for baking the rolls and drop-scones and crusty bloomers had been altered - opened out in fact - one wall had been demolished effecting a sort of make shift staging area.
The effect was that the old oven looked down on for want of a better word was a small amphitheatre. Sloping round the sides were sat lots of expectant faces, a few were expectedly waving flickering lighters already. In the centre was a mosh pit in which jostled lots of people dressed in black and wearing heavy make-up which for the odd notable exception was also black.
In Gonzaroolio's heart a small flicker of excitement engaged. Ever since he'd run away from The Big Tent he'd been dying inside to work a crowd again....
Cliff motioned the backing group to the back of the stage where they took up positions behind three mikes.
Cliff approached the front of the stage and growled:
"DO YOU WANNA GET ROCKED?!!!"
The chorus of delighted howls and roaring cheers seemed to indicated that that the goth mosh gathering pit did indeed
want to be rocked. The bassist plucked a chord on his guitar and the speakers exploded with a cacophonous boom.
Now Bob had grown accustomed to the lighting a bit more he could see the Cliff's costumes wasn't a moth after all but it did display a number of spikes and looked unnaturally furry.
Some commotion amongst the band members seemed to indicate that he show was almost ready to start. The drummer reached up tapped his cymbals experimentally a few times.
The crowd before them erupted.
They began to sing....
"Eboneeee and Ivoreee, live together in perfect harmoneee-e-e!"
Up on the lighting gantry, mayhem broke loose as Colin, who was manning the blue spot, was suddenly possessed by the disembodied soul of Leica the first dog in space.
Oblivious to the bizarre goings on, Cliff took it to the bridge.
A wave of pent up overtly sexual energy, pulsated from the adoring crowd. Knickers were thrown as the mosh pit became a squirming orgiastic mass of musical fervour.
Getting back to Colin for a moment it is worth explaining that Colin was one of those poor unfortunate people who suffer from acute occult telepathy.
If he wasn't hearing Beethoven composing romantic sonatas by his bed post at half past 2 each morning he's painting the shed and trying to avoid looking at the hedge clippers while the ghost of Van Gogh whispers in his ears.
Occasionally one of them would score a direct hit and the ghost would sit in his mind looking out through his eyes making him moved like they wanted to move.
This had had to some very embarrassing situations in the past. So he'd moved to London and picked up this gig spotting lights on some band.
Currently he is a dog. And when you've been trapped in the after life for a couple of generations and find yourself suddenly embodied again - there is just one thing you have to do.
Colin cocked his leg up against the railing and began to widdle onto the fuse box.
It began to flash and spark, these cascaded down onto the stage below eliciting a few "ooohs" and "ahhhh"'s from the crowd. Unfortunately one of these sparks intersected with one of the passing sets of knickers being lobbed at the stage. The frilly underwear ignited and
sailed over the heads of the band and landed squarely in the lap of the drummer.
The crowd cheered as the drummer flailed about madly on stage trying to put out the burning in his groin.
When the fuse box, exploded and fell out of the rigging straight onto his head, the crowd let off a huge excited 'whoop!''
This was spectacular entertainment most of the crowd agreed. The band, displaying the utmost professionalism, continued to hammer out the screaming guitar solos.
The drummer staggered wildly: simultaneously trying to get the damn box off of his head and control the flames that were spreading up his legs.
"arrrGH - Gerritoff oww-oww-ow-ow, aRRRgh agh! agh!!MMMMphh!!! AAAAArrrrrrr!!!!!!"
Even the normally taciturn Cliff was impressed: Especially when the drummer, fell off the stage onto the outstretched hands of the mosh pit and was carried across the sea of dancing bodies.
"Quickly!" he shouted, "one of you get on them drums!"
Gonzaroolio had been waiting for this. He hopped onto the stool and began. Start small, build up. he reminded himself.
"6.5 on the Richter scale ought to do nicely...."
Meanwhile, Annabel was having a bad day. But it was about to get a lot better because she was about to meet her illegitimate father.
Mr Smittington was sitting in the restaurant where he had arranged to meet Annabel, smiling to himself, he was going to clone an army of Annabels to complement his massed ranks of cloned figures and cryo-clowns.
He grinned evilly to himself as she walked through the door.
She could see herself in the full-length mirror, but it wasn't herself she could see it was Bob! Bob thought that by dressing up as a woman, people would think he was Annabel!
(S)he ordered a Guinness and joined Mr Smittington at the table.
What a fine figure of a woman she's turned out to be!
He felt an odd sensation overwhelm him as he took in her tall, slender figure, her fine posture, her five-o-clock shadow.
Too bad they were related...He felt himself blushing like a schoolboy and waiting breathlessly for her to speak to him...
Bob disguised as Annabel sauntered across the floor of the cafe swinging his hips like some internal gyroscope had blown a gasket.
"Welcome my dear." said Mr Smittington, overcoming his paralysis, rising to take his daughter by the hand.
"I have come on business, we can dispense with the pleasantries."
"Alright." conceded Mr Smittington with a nod and reaching for the wine bottle he had ordered earlier.
"Lets talk business."
Ha-ha! My plan is working perfectly, HE doesn't suspect a thing!
Ha-ha! My plan is working perfectly, SHE doesn't suspect a thing.
"Now this is what we have come up with." said Annabel handing Smittington some technical schematics and blueprints.
He put on a pair of thin spectacles and began flipping through pages.
He was trembling like schoolboy! He tried to concentrate on the pages. Her face! It was perfect for the project...
Bob took a sip from his Guinness and wiped the froth away from his mouth on his sleeve.
"Now all we have to dOOOoooo.." He blinked his eyes, slightly out of sequence.
Smittington put the papers down in surprise as her voice began shedding octaves.
"N-n-n-ow a-a-all we have-ve-ve-ve to d-d-d-dOOoooo..." faltered Annabel, gripping onto the chair armrests which began to buckle and began swinging his hips violently from side to side.
Smittington sprung up and plucked Bob dressed as Annabel from the chair and with unimagined strength for a man of his age carried her away from the table and laid her face down. He then knelt on her back, forcing his knee into her spine and began trying to wrench her head off from her shoulders.
"IT'S MINE" he snarled, jerking her neck backwards.
"do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do." rattled Annabel grinning madly.
There was a fissure of sparks as her neck finally ruptured and her head finally came away from her shoulders revealing the complex network of cables and circuitry beneath.
"wEWilL BE sOOoo Hap-pap-yeeee...."the light in his eyes died and his body slumped forwards still gripping the head of Annabel.
High voltage lights set high in the ceiling flashed on and the walls at the far end of the cafe parted and out walked the real Mr Smittington from the observation room. He was quite short and looked about 60. He was thin too: his skin hung off of his bones and his face had developed a natural sneer. Behind him a small vanguard of scientists and engineers trailed in his wake.
He strode up to the elevated section that had been the cafe floor and looked grisly tableaux before him.
"no,no,no,no." he muttered to himself under his breath.
He pulled from his pocket a set of spectacles identical to the pair being worn by his robot clone.
He took a screwdriver out of a small leather pouch on his belt and stuck it in the ear of the standing robot and gave it sharp twist to the left.
A small panel popped open on the back of the clone Smittington's head and Mr Smittington reached up to look inside.
"The sanity chip is all fused together!" he grumbled. "No wonder he had an episode. That programme we fed into
him about cloning my daughter Annabel went into a software loop. Fused the circuits and...this happens." he said indicating the robot clutching the head of the Bob robot in a wig.
"And as for Bob." He said kneeling down over the collapse form of the man dressed as his daughter. He flipped him over and began undoing her blouse from the bottom up. He retrieved his screwdriver from the ear of his other self and stuck it into bob's belly-button.
There was small hiss and the chest sprung open like a car bonnet.
"Hmm..." sniffed Smittington "this model seemed to accept the undercover programme but something wasn't quite right....ah-ha found it! Yes, I'd thought as much. The internal gyroscope had blown a gasket!"
"Right!" he said turning back to the eager faces of his team. "get me another Bob robot from storage. Wheel out the other one and bring it down to the lab I'm going to need to replace it's entire hypothalamus region." He clucked his gums thoughtfully. "and we'll go again in about an hour."
A klaxon sounded somewhere else in the massive complex that hid beneath the Smittington Bakery.
The group all nodded and broke up to their respective tasks....
On one of the batteries of monitors one screen displayed not a never-ceasing display of numbers but a face - it was the face of Annabel.
She sat back in her limo and went over what she had just witnessed. Hacking into the mainframes of even her fathers security laden fortress was no mean feat - and what it brought in new information - it lacked in other faculties mainly sound...her main conclusion was sheer annoyance that anyone could have mistaken a robot - a imitation Bob robot at that - for her!
pressing some more on-screen displays closed down the image of her father striding about his pen and brought up the remote feed from her plant at the Bakery music hall where she had followed the Agents and that clown to. She saw that all was chaos at the concert - smiling wickedly, she accessed the programme that activated one of the Cryo-clowns attack perimeters.
The third groupie on the left nodded, and began creeping up on Jill, an odd metallic gleam in his eyes.
Gonzaroolio, whose playing was seriously testing the building codes in that area, failed to notice.
He splashed water on his smoking drums and began a new, even louder beat. The building trembled, and far away, in the London Observatory, Mr Richter's patented seismograph registered at 7.0...