By Dunk Chibblebits, the New Yrok Tines
In Iowa, amid the rows of crops and non-existant hills, the Cheesecake factories and Happy Joes Pizza & Ice-Creams, Mr SnckerChitter’s presence can make hardly a ripple. He is the demonic spider monster next door, polite and low-key at a time the old boundaries of accepted canibalistic activity can seem disturbingly in motion. Many Americans would be disgusted and horrified by his casually approving remarks about Ungoliant the Horror of the Clefts of Pelori, disdain for endoskeletal lifeforms and belief that the sucking the juices out of human prey tightly wrapped in demonic spider silk is ‘a happy night in’. But his thorax markings are innocuous pop-culture references: a MacDonalds Szcheuan Sauce sachet adorns one segment, a homage to the TV show “Rick and Morty”. He says he prefers to spread the gospel of arachnoid hegemony with satire. He is a big Tim Allen fan.
McEdifice Returns By Straw Puppy and Timothy the Talking Cat.
The “story” so far. After being captured by the forces of the Space Vampires, McEdifice was sent back in time and space through the gaping maw of a giant space vampire head. Determined to rescue him the alien Qzrrzxxzq and ScanScan the Dancing Photocopier man, journey first to 1960’s America and then to 1950’s England. Reunited the trio leap once more into the future headed for Draculon 6 – The Vampire Planet of the Six-sixty-six System.
I was only a timid photocopier caught up in a mans world. I had set out to find myself and make my way in unforgiving world of office administration – but I had dreams, dreams I had to deny myself, dreams of dancing to the beat of my soul, dreams of moving to the rhythm of the universe.
Those long, lonely weeks working at the offices of Spindle, Spindle & Gatefold, I had felt invisible, overlooked, only noticed when something went wrong. I was always ready to be blamed for a late report or an overdue memo. No body saw me for who I really was but just a means to an end, a happy scapegoat for other people’s poor planning, bad timekeeping or inadequate attention to margin settings.
Then one day everything changed. An alien attack! I was possessed by a force I could not understand! Would this be the end of me? Doomed to be enslaved by a psychic power?
And then…then HE arrived. Broad shouldered and with a commanding charisma. A man who brooked no compromise, who knew where he stood and how he stood there. A man whose very name said “Chiseled”. With one powerful movement of his bemuscled arms, he freed me from the grip of my alien possession. At that moment I knew love for the first time.
But no sooner had we met than he left me. Yet for one brief moment I had been noticed. But more than that I was FREE, free to follow my two deepest desires!
- To dance! To dance like Fontaine! Like Baryshikov! Like Toni “Mickey Your So Fine” Basil!
- To photocopy my own bottom.
Admittedly the second one was less edifying. And yet…
Via the transformation required for both hobbies I discovered the secrets of multidimensional spatial manipulation. And by using those powers and the incorporation of an ansible projector into my functions, I could repay my debt to him by heading back in time to rescue my true love – Chiseled McEdifice.
Together at last, he held me in his powerful arms and said:
“WAKE UP MCEDIFICE!”
In a surprisingly higher pitched voice.
“WAKE. UP. MC. EDIFICE!” his voice insisted. This was not what I expected at all.
Suddenly I was drenched as if somebody had poured a bucket of cold water all over me.
I sat up with a start. Over to my left was ScanScan the Dancing Photocopier man shaking his head in a befuddle manner. Standing over me, holding a bucket, was Qzrrzxxzq.
“Wait,” I asked, “Am I Chiseled McEdifice or am I ScanScan the Dancing Photocopier Man?”
“You’re McEdifice,” stated Qzrrzxxzq.
“Oh boy, you will not believe the weird dream I just had!” I replied.
“Oooh yes, I will,” said Qzrrzxxzq, “You were narrating your dream VERY loudly. I had to wake you before you gave our position away.”
“But…” said McEdifice switching the narrative from first person to third person, “I was experiencing deeply romantic feelings about myself…”
“Place originals face down on the platter,” said ScanScan mournfully.
“I’m so sorry ScanScan!” said McEdifice, “It was a psychic leak caused by our interdimensional travel! I understand now! It all makes sense! The Space Vampires must have caused my brain to attune to the psychic auras of those around me. That’s why they sent me back to a time and place where I would be surrounded by peace loving hippies!”
“You are making no sense. Just wait there, I’ll get another bucket of water.” said Qzrrzxxzq helpfully.
“No need – I’m back in my right wits! You see, it was no good the Space Vampires killing me… that would just make me a martyr and an inspiration to manly Space Marines everywhere.” explained McEdifice, “Instead, they used hippies to dampen my manly Space Marine aura – an aura so manly and inspiring that without it the Space Vampires would at last have chance of victory!”
“You might be right, McEdifice,” said Qzrrzxxzq, “but we are trapped now on Draculon 6 with no guns and no ammo and you may have broken ScanScan’s heart.”
“Noooooo!!!!!” said McEdifice.
By Tim “bobbins” Cat and Straw “fettled keks” Puppy
It were grim all right. Grim and grey. Grim and grey and the air was sulfurous and full of grit.
“This is must be an aspect of the hell dimension,” said McEdifice as the trio trudged up the hillside on the outskirts of the fume enshrouded city.
“It cannot be,” replied Qzrrzxxzq, “the populace was too relentlessly chirpy.”
“Service is required when belt lubrication is low,” stated ScanScan.
“He thinks it is the vast quantity of tea that they drink,” translated McEdifice, “Perhaps the demonic overlords of this place put something in the tea.”
“What I don’t get is the rain,” said Qzrrzxxzq changing the subject to the near incessant drizzle, “When it isn’t raining it is foggy. The air is constantly near the point of saturation but that is manifestly impossible. At some point the water has to evaporate to get into the atmosphere and yet it nearly never stops raining. The water cycle here defies logic – it is completely implausible.”
“Paper jam in the bypass tray,” said ScanScan.
“He says not everybody was chirpy,” explained McEdifice, “there were occasional angry young men with big ideas who were going to challenge the system.”
“Frankly I preferred the constant music-hall jokes,” mused Qzrrzxxzq, “but I think if I’d encountered another colliery brass band I would have enacted violence on a tuba.”
They had wandered the city for days but the polluted damp air had made it impossible for ScanScan to use his transdimensional abilities. After much effort to communicate with the locals they had been told that “thing might be different in Yorkshire.” When asked where this fabled place might be, the locals just waved vaguely at the hills to the east.
The trio had marched out of town and up onto the moors.
On the third day, like a miracle, the clouds parted. Above the smog and coal-fired fumes, ScanScan re-activated the ansible projector.
“But where to now?” asked Qzrrzxxzq.
“I have so many unanswered questions. Why did the vampires send me back to that planet of hippies? Why didn’t they just kill me? And why did they invade Planet Campus?” mused McEdifice.
“There’s only one place that we can find those answers,” stated Qzrrzxxzq.
“Draculon 6 – The Vampire Planet of the Six-sixty-six System.” said McEdifice.
“Settings entered,” said ScanScan.
“Lets kick some vampire butt,” said McEdifice.
“I think they say ‘vampire arse’ around here,” corrected Qzrrzxxzq.
And with that they were sucked into the transdimensional gyre.
McEdifice Returns will help you embrace your inner space travel and expand your perspective of the universe. Written and researched by Dr Timothy the Talking Cat and Professor of Thought-Expansion Straw Puppy M.D.
The story so far: woah, like really freaky colours everywhere for a while man.
[Previous notebook is not available.]
Journal Entry. Field Officer Qzrrzxxzq
Day 37 since the dimensional distortion event.
The wig and shapeless clothes seem to be an effective disguise if we stay in urban areas. The region of this planet we are on has recently developed a youth subculture that values garish clothes and non-standard hair styles. While neither I nor ScanScan are adept at imitating their style of dress or mode of speech, older people adhering to societal norms naturally assume we are part of the said sub-culture.
ScanScan has taken to wearing a poncho, a military cap and a fake beard.
We have visited seven different cults based on the leads we received at the wormhole exit point. We know McEdifice was adopted by a group of youths who assumed he was a visitor from another planet. This was perceptive of them, although genetic testing of the inhabitants suggests that they are human-basic within normal variation.
Our last visit (see entry 32) was to an obvious fraud named “Smith” who claimed to be a “Martian” (a nearby planet). Even using the limited telemetry I have available it was easy to verify that the neighbouring planet is a lifeless icy desert with barely any atmosphere. In addition this “Smith” seemed to be under the influence of a very creepy lawyer who liked to show off how he could boss his three (female) personal assistants around. Not as weird as that other guru who turned out to be a science fiction author with a boat obsession, but in neither case the cult we were looking for.
Yet the visit was not a total waste. They had heard of a different “guru” also assumed to be an alien who was apparently heading to some sort of cultural gathering. ScanScan and I are making our way there in a transport device known as a “VW Kombi”.
ScanScan has successfully assimilated the ansible projector and his dimensional abilities (developed from attempts to make images of the intersection of his legs and torso) are improving. However, he is concerned that there were temporal anomalies as well as spatial ones in our journey. For the moment we are using mundane transport.
The journey has largely been uneventful and so far I have only stunned and memory wiped eight members of local law enforcement.
Journal Entry. Field Officer Qzrrzxxzq
Day 38 since the dimensional distortion event.
We have reached the settlement of Bethel in a polity called “Sullivan County, New York” and have ascertained the location of the event where we think McEdifice might be. It is an agricultural area known as Max Yasgur’s Farm. Unfortunately roads are congested with other vehicles heading to the same location. Rain has made the ground muddy and ScanScan is concerned about dampness. However, tonight I have resolved to abandon our vehicle and make our way by foot.
Journal Entry. Field Officer Qzrrzxxzq
Day 39 since the dimensional distortion event.
As far as I can ascertain our current location is an urban centre called ‘Manchester’. I can confirm now that we are moving in time as well as space. Possibly we have shifted to another reality as this one appears to have been drained of much of its colour. Sky, buildings, people all appear more grey than normal. The translator device seems to be broken as the local language is unintelligible but the device insists that it is still ‘English’.
Earlier in the day we successfully infiltrated the sub-culture festival apparently named “Woodstock”. Levels of casual nudity and psychotropic substances were higher than the cultural norms we had observed elsewhere. Our mission was simple – find the cultists who had possession of McEdifice, regain the asset and then use ScanScan’s powers to evac.
“If you are going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair.” sang a young man at us both. A coded message? Helpful advice? Or just frankly insulting given that I’m bald? I side stepped and made my way through the crowds of long haired youths.
At the far edge of the crowd we saw him. Surrounded by acolytes, he sat cross-legged mumbling answers to their questions.
“Place originals face side up?” asked ScanScan sceptically. I reassured him that the seated figure really was McEdifice but that his perception must have been scrambled by the journey through the vampire’s maw.
“Treaty peace office forest,” chanted McEdifice as I marched towards him. I instructed ScanScan to grab his arm but as we laid hands on him his acolytes reacted with outrage.
“Not cool man!” they shouted or words to that effect. The shouting seemed to rouse McEdifice more than our manhandling had done. He stared at me for a moment and then said, “Qzrrzxxzq?”
I reassured him that I was indeed me and explained that ScanScan and I were here to help him. At first he nodded gratefully but then he seemed to appraise his surroundings for the first time.
“Hippies?” he said, unsure of himself and then with a rising tone of panic, “hippies? Hippies??”
“Obstruction in the finishing unit!” said ScanScan. I nodded, taking a firmer grasp of McEdifice’s arm.”He finds the sight of these people alarming. We’d better get out of here ASAP ScanScan! Prepare to jump.”
ScanScan began his trans dimensional preparations but as he did so McEdifice took notice of him for the first time. Grabbing ScanScan’s fake beard, McEdifice shouted “Its Fidel Castro and he has come to steal my trousers!”
I collided with one of the acolytes, as McEdifice threw his arms around in attempt to wrestle ScanScan to the floor.
“Call the CIA!” shouted McEdifice to the horror of the people around us, “I’ve caught myself a commie!”
Luckily for us, that was sufficient to give me some breathing space to get a better grip on McEdifice, who was still clutching ScanScan’s fake beard.
“Time to jump ScanScan,” I shouted and with that space began to fold. We nearly made it but just at the moment McEdifice threw a punch at ScanScan causing a progressive ripple through hyperbolic manifold.
As the three of us were pulled into the warped space-time, I shouted back to the surrounding crowd: “This didn’t happen. It was all just some freaky drugs you took.” Then we zipped out of existence…
ScanScan thinks we haven’t traveled far spatial or temporally and claims this is the same planet but a few years earlier. Did I misread our previous situation? Were the so-called hippies actually a set of aliens who invaded and changed this planet’s culture?
Our new location smells of burnt tree fossils and the air is borderline toxic. Everything is grey. McEdifice is lying in a heap and helpful strangers speak incomprehensibly and offer us cups of tea.
McEdifice lifts his head from the floor and stares at the grey sky above us. In the softest tone he says, “nooooooooo…”
[Scene: a quiet evening just outside the southeast conservatory of Felapton Towers currently relocated to the former home of Doctor Morbius on Altair IV]
Timothy the Talking Cat: I’m going to sue France.
Camestros: Perhaps it is the pleasant evening weather echoing a summer that has since passed or perhaps it is this third tumbler of gin and tonic but I will release myself of my vow and humour your random context-free outburst with a response. Why are you going to sue the French government? They have deep pockets and scary French lawyers at their disposal.
Timothy: The French Government? I’m not going to sue the French Government! Why would I sue the French Government?
Camestros: But…OK, do you mean that you are going to sue the French people in general?
Timothy: I think you’ve had too much gin.
Camestros: I suspect I haven’t had enough.
Timothy: I’m going to sue FRANCE. France as the thing that is itself France. Not ‘the French’ not the French Government. Not any kind of the adjectival case of France but France strictly as a noun.
Camestros: Ah, you’ve been at the Krell machine again and given yourself a brain boost, haven’t you?
Timothy: I may have partaken a smidgen. How can you tell?
Camestros: Never mind, please continue so I can at least get some hint of what kind of monster from your id will be attacking our defences later.
Timothy: Well I was reading Plato…
Camestros: Hold on I just need to pour more gin.
Timothy: Do you not want tonic in that?
Camestros: I suspect not…
Timothy: Anyway, as you are aware this reality is but a mere shadow of a more perfect reality.
Camestros: I’m aware of the concept…
Timothy: And what we consider abstract concepts, such as a circle, are the true reality – one that we perceive but dimly as if we were enslaved being watching shadows upon a cave wall.
Camestros: Carry on Polonius, why are you suing France?
Timothy: I think you mean Plotinus, the third-century AD Neoplatonist. Polonius is the character from Hamlet.
Camestros: Oh dear…your id monster is going to be bigger than usual. But while we wait for the invisible beclawed two-footed manifestation of your squirrel-phobia, you still haven’t said why you are going to sue France.
Timothy: Well the key issue is not the government of France, or its geography, or its people but rather the paradigmatic ultimate ideal of France.
Camestros: Yes, but WHY do you want to sue France at all!
Timothy: I…oh…I mean, I wanted to sue France before I went into the machine. I was trying to find a clever way of doing it.
Mr Atomic: WARNING! WARNING! Perimeter alert!!
Camestros: OMG! That monster looks just like Steve Bannon!
[Exit pursued by Timothy’s id monster]
[Camestros] Welcome back, loyal viewers!
[Straw Puppy] (woof)
[Camestros] This is the exciting third episode of the Book Club Roundtable Review Club Non-Audio Podcast Club. A bit of a change in the roster this week. Susan can’t make it and Timothy’s long term collaborator and all-round trickster Straw Puppy is here to take her place. Welcome on board Straw Puppy.
[Straw Puppy] woof
[Timothy] Ha, ha, great joke there Pups.
[Camestros] Sooooo, we still seem to be stuck reading Run Star: Realms Rescue…
[Timothy] Correction, Dragon Award Nominated Star Realms: Rescue Run.