Episode 12 – Summer Holiday

[WARNING: You have been warned.]

Suddenly…

CRRRAAASSSHSMASSHHHCREEKYWEAKYSPLAM, CHHHAaanngBonkTinkleinkleinkleinkle….!

Amongst the shocked faces of the patrons was an awe that mostly said, ‘How?’ whilst they gawped at the gaping hole in the front of the pub, just near the pool table, which was currently occupied by a number 73 London bus of the double decker variety. From within the white smoke, the bus doors wheezed open and a chorus of voices exclaimed “Whew! That was close!”

“What the effing chuff…?” said Dave, rushing his way from behind the bar. “Oh no, no, no, no!” the angst ridden Supervisor said, hurrying from The Door, closely followed by a very worried and rather pain stricken Fourth Dimension Mechanic with blood dripping from his staples.

A rabble of footsteps came from the inside of the bus, slowly getting closer to the door, with what sounded like the dragging of heavy objects. Like contestants from Stars in their Thighs, four human shapes, with luggage, bundled off the bus, all wearing sunglasses (amongst other things).
“Is this really Doncaster?” said a perpetually disappointed grey shape with long hair.
“It should be. I think.” said a short man in a flat cap.
“Well, it obviously isn’t, is it Neil?” said a spotty yooff in bright yellow dungarees and a red beret, “I mean, god! Obviously, we’re in… Erm. In… Vyvyan? Any ideas?”
A denim clad ginger punk gave the questioner a look that could only be described as ‘You’re a fucking wanker’, and replied belligerently, “I don’t bloody know! I’m just in charge of pointing the bus in a vague direction. Nothing to do with knowing where we’re bloody going.”
“The last thing I remember seeing,” said the yooff, “Was a big billboard with Cliff Richards’ huge face.”
“Huge bellend,” snorked the ginger punk.

“Er,” said Dave, trying to keep calm whilst approaching the group. “You do realise you’ve just crashed into my pub, don’t you?”

A dragging sound emerged from the smoky bus doors. “Well, that’s another perfectly good pair of underpants ruined, Eddie.” Two figures clambered down the grimy bus stairs. “Bring the suitcase,” said the more sweaty of the two who was wearing a raincoat which had suffered multiple traumas. “You can’t trust anyone these days.” Eddie dragged a dilapidated brown suitcase down the steps and dumped it on the floor. “I think I’ve broke my glasses,” he grumbled, rubbing his NHS frames on his brown suit jacket, which instantly made them worse than before.

The Supervisor approached Dave carefully. “Er,” he laughed apologetically, “I think that maybe this might have something to do with… Well, with our little problem with the time machine.”
“Bloody timey-wimey stuff,” growled Dave.
“We ARE getting there,” The Supervisor said optimistically, with a rueful giggle, “It’s just, Fred, the mechanic here, was in the middle of sorting out the History Repeating Itself unit, and, well, um…”
“Forget that!” yelled Daz. “Look! Them OAPs are getting in!” Which, indeed, they were, if not remorsefully slowly. The ladies were hitching their skirts up just far enough to waft an edge of bloomer to the world, and the men were hiking up the rubble with their walking sticks, just like they did in The War, y’know!
Daz, grabbed a stool. “Quick! Barricade! Baraaaacaaade!” The rest of the locals complied. Helen swiped the Knight Before Christmas’ mop and started prodding at the encroaching wrinklefest. A couple of them broke a hip in the fall, but they just got back up and carried on, just like they had to in The War y’know! Soon, the south facing wall of the Inns of Court was a pile of bar stools, tables, pool cues and empty beer kegs, with an occasional faint clink of walking frame on metal.

“Time for some introductions, I think,” said the short man with a flat cap, in an agreeable tone. “I’m Mike. This is Rick.
“Hiya,” said the nervously nonchalant figure in the red beret.
“This is Neil.” Mike pointed to the grey figure hovering in the corner, then whispered “Sorry about the smell.” The smell wasn’t offended. It was used to it by now. “Er, and this is Vyvyan.” The ginger punk gave his very best ‘Fuck Off’ stare, and broke a dismembered table leg over his head. Mike proffered his hand towards Dave, who was quite a little bit annoyed about the new ‘extension’ to his pub, and hopefully uttered, “We seem to have crashed into your wall. Sorry about that. We’ll pay for the damage of course.”
“But Mike,” whined Neil, “We’ve got no money, man. How are we going to…?”
“Neil,” sneered Rick, “We’ve just robbed a flippin’ bank, we’ve got loads of cash!”
“Oh yeah,” mumbled Neil, dejectedly. “I feel so…so…commercial.”
“Look, Neil,” Rick continued, hand on hip, “Just because you’re having a hard time accepting that you’re rich doesn’t mean the rest of us have to. I’ll… I mean, we’ll take the burden, Neil. We’ll get you a new pair of socks then you can forget about the rest.”

[Cut away to a pair of socks wriggling out of a battered suitcase from 1922]

Sock 1: Did you hear that? He’s going to replace us!
Sock 2: He can’t do that! After all our years of loyal service!
Sock 1: We’re going to have to be clever about this, prove our worth. I’ve only got one hole, after all.
Sock 2: Yeah, if you ignore the other 25, me too!
Sock 1: Right, I’ll take the left foot, you take the right. And be…well, be smooth about it, okay?
Sock 2: Okay.

“Shut up, Neil,” said Mike, wafting Neil, and his smell, away, still maintaining the car salesman grin he now had attached to his face. “Of course, we may need a bit of time just to sort out what the hell’s going on, if you’d be so kind as to accommodate us, Mr, er…”
“Dave,” said Dave.
“Dave. Pleased to meet you, Dave. A fine establishment you have here, Sir.”
“Well, it was!” Dave snapped. “And who are these dribbling idiots?”

The other two unkempt figures were standing in the middle of the bar as if struck by the hand of God (other fictional deities are available). Slobber was slowly seeping from both their mouths. Their hands rubbed the front of their thighs in a most unerotic erotic way ever seen.
“Look, Eddie,” said the dirty raincoat, “Biiirrrds.”
Yeaaah,” dribbled Eddie. “And they’re stood at a baaaarr.”

“Oh, sorry,” said Mike. “We picked these two up on the way. Eddie and Richard, I believe.”
“Right,” said Dave. “Now, how the hell are you going to fix my wall?!”
“Er…as I was saying,” the forlorn Supervisor butted in. “I think that’s something I…we can help with.” The Fourth Dimension Mechanic was dragged by the collar towards the sorrowful red bus while The Supervisor continued his explanation. “The History Repeating Itself unit?” Dave stared at The Supervisor, comprehensive, yet blank. “Well, you see, it looks for things that repeat in the memory paths. We… I mean, Fred, the mechanic here, thought it might be a good idea to check its directional force, in case that’s what was overloading the origami circuit. HE switched it back on and…poooff!” The Supervisor chortled, unconvincingly. Dave stared, very convincingly. “When overloaded it tends to grab onto anything it can find that repeats itself within each memory path, and has an overwhelming desire to put them together. And this is Episode 12, after all.”
“Memory path, history repeating. Right,” said Dave, trying to reassure himself more than anything else.
“Yes,” agreed The Supervisor, eager to overwhelm with more mumbo-jumbo, “The memory circuit is much like the human brain. It metaphorically pauses to reflect, rewinds through itself, if you like, then replays whatever it finds via the History Repeating Itself unit. And, of course, this place is inside an unstable time bubble, which means…well, anything can happen!”
“That’s handy, isn’t it, Daz?” said Helen.

His hands wiggled in front of his crotch like some kind of spider mid-scuttle. “Right, Eddie,” said Richie, “I’m going for it.”
“Right, mate,” said Eddie.
Richie pulsated keen desire through every orifice whilst maintaining the stance of a scared squirrel. His face contorted into many grimacing perversions, and then he just bloody well went for it!
Helen, enjoying her Strangebow quite enough without any help whatsoever, found that a seething mass of sweaty raincoat actually did impair the cidery goodness on the palate. Her eyes wandered to the left from whence this strange group of particles hovered. It occasionally produced white foam from the excess of saliva as it smiled some kind of pathetically weak yet hopeful salutation.
“Hello,” said Richie, maintaining the stupid grin. “I’m Richard Richard of Hammersmith. Lovely weather.”
Helen considered where the hand held before her had been previously, and left it there, preferring to keep this strictly verbal. “Hi,” she said, cautiously.
“Aharharhahahaaarr,” proffered Richie.
“And I’m Eddie,” said Eddie, simply.
“Hi,” Helen offered, again.
Richie filled the gap left by these sombre greetings with a “Aharharhaaaharhar.” Fingers still performing an impression of an upside-down dying spider. His eyes bulged at Helen, “I must say, that’s a smashing blouse you’ve got on.”
“Erm,” said Helen. “It’s a t-shirt.”
“Oh yes! Harharhahaha! Of course it is, yes. Yes. Smashing. Harharha…he…eh.”
“Are they serious?” whispered Becky. “I’m not entirely sure they’re even real,” said Helen.

BONNNNGBONNGBONKBOINQRATTLECLinkclacktwangwangwang!

“Oooo! The pipes are going mad again! Like last time,” said Becky excitedly.
Only this time, when the loo flush echoed through the pub, a heroic figure appeared in the doorway, dripping loo water in a very heroic way, maintaining the stiffest of stiff (amongst other things) upper lips covered in a bushy blond moustache. “Never fear, Flashheart’s here! Down girls. Woof!”

Having teetered quite well on his stool for a considerable amount of story, the man at the end of the bar finally fell to the floor with a thud. The locals found that blinking repeatedly wasn’t helping the situation. They contemplated this group of new bodies in their space, and wondered, is it because it’s Episode 12?

“Now then, ladies, has either of you seen my brother? Tall, like me, handsome, like me, travels in time a lot, like me, bit awkward around girls.”
“Oh, you mean Benjamin,” said Becky. “He’s your brother?”
“Yes. OLDER brother,” he grinned, with heroic charm whilst sidling seductively towards Becky and Helen.
“Oi, mate! We were here first. Bugger off!” shouted Eddie. The two grimy men packed themselves into the bar dwelling mass of bodies. Daz managed to save the sip of Hags Wobbling he was currently working on. Helen’s shoulders didn’t know which way to hide.
“You think pussbuckets like you two are any match for The Flash?! I could give this bar multiple orgasms just by leaning on it!” Lord Flashheart wiggled his left eyebrow in the direction of female attention, and managed to leave none overlooked.
“Eddie, quick, get the drinks in,” whispered Ritchie. “That’ll impress the totty.”
“Okay. Giz some cash then,” said Eddie.
“Oh, Eddie! Where’s that fiver you nicked off me last week?”
“I used it to mug myself with.”
“Ugh,” exclaimed Richie, producing a small brown coin purse from his stained raincoat pocket. “Here, see what you can get for that.” A silvery coppery worm clinked into Eddie’s palm, totalling 93 pence, and a condom. “Ah,” said Ritchie, snatching the condom back, “I’ll have that back. Looks like I’m going to need it tonight, eh mate! Ahahaharharhaaaahahah!” he gurgled.

….

“Well,” said Mike, having placated Dave with some convincing banter, “We might as well get some drinks while we’re here, seeing as we are on holiday. What do you all want? My treat.”
“But we’ve just robbed a bank, Mike,” said Rick, “So it’s not really your…”
“No, no, no, I insist,” glared Mike, “My treat. Rick, what do you want?”
“I’ll have, um, er… Oh, so much to choose from…”
“Neil, what do you want?”
“Oh, I’ll just have a water, thanks, Mike.”
“A water?” said Vyvyan.
“I choose not to abuse my body, Vyvyan.”
“Fair enough. I’ll do it for you then.” Four star shaped marks appeared in Neil’s head courtesy of Vyvyan’s forehead.
“Vyvyan. Drink?”
“Babysham. And a packet of oxtail crisps.”
“Rick?”
“…and there’s all those spirits up there. Oooh, such choice.”
“Rick!” Mike demanded. “Stop pissing about. What do you want?”
“Erm…”
“Come on you Cliff Richard shagging bastard!”
“Shut up Vyvyan! I’ll have you know Cliff Richard is very much respected amongst us anarchists. The Anarchist Society are very jealous of my signed album.”
“I don’t think it counts when you sign it yourself in black marker pen, Rick. Anyway, I’d rather listen to a pile of steaming crap.”
“I’ll have you know Devil Woman is a very insightful and informative song,” said Rick, folding his arms like a four year old who’s just been told to stop running on the pavement.
“Rick!” said Mike, “What do you want from the sodding bar?!”
“Oh, right, yes. Well, um… I was thinking of having… Oh no, maybe I’ll have… Em…”
“Right, water it is. Back in a sec.”

Eddie, vacant faced, placed two pints of Carl’s Burp in front of Richie, who stared at them as if a terrible, but happy, mistake had been made. “Two pints? Two actual pints, full of pint? But… But how, Eddie?”
“Richie, it is my pleasure to inform you that we have, in fact, died and have, in fact, gone to heaven.”
“What?”
Becky giggled at Richie’s perplexed expression.
“Apocalypse Rules, mate,” said Dave, rather more rushed off his feet than usual.
Eddie looked Richie in the eyes.
“The.
Drinks.
Are.
Free.
Mate.”

The bar was a throng of excitement what with the new arrivals packed between the regulars, all needing a calming drink. A bead of sweat formed on Dave’s brow. “Give us a hand, Daz.” He said. Daz obliged. He needed another bag of pork scratchings anyway.

Having joined the man at the end of the bar on the floor for some time, Richie finally came to. Still swimming from the apocalyptic information recently put into his brain, ideas started to make drink based shapes amongst his grey matter.
“So we can drink anything.”
“Yes,” replied Eddie.
“Anything at all.”
“Yes.”
“And it’s all free.”
“Yes.”
“There’s no catch or anything, like a 28 day free trial then you have to return it or pay for it?”
“No. No catch.”
“Wow.”
“Yeah.”
“Wow, Eddie.”
“Yeah.”
“Wow! Aharghahagggaaa!!”
Daz, who was doing almost as good a job behind the bar as in front of it, enhanced this orgasmic moment for Eddie and Richie by informing them of the good idea that is Jagermeister. Two jugs of Jager were ordered immediately. A flash of blond streaked across the bar. Harry assessed the current situation, said “Er… No,” and promptly disappeared.

As a species, the time critters were not that clever. They relied on expendable numbers and spirited risk; more doing than thinking. This is why their attack on Inns wasn’t really paying off. A big hole in the wall, however, was a stroke of luck. The patrons had done a commendable job blocking up the gaps around the big red bus. They hadn’t, however, thought about the bus itself, and the fact that it facilitated a great long concourse via the back window and through the doors at the front. The vociferous crowd didn’t notice when a very purple, very OAP time critter climbed steadily down from the bus’s steps and helped down his counterparts one wrinkled one after another. In fact, the first glimmer of awareness the clientele had of the invasion was when a blood curdling scream stabbed its way towards them.
“Oh no!” screamed Becky. “Quick! Help him!”
Fred, the mechanic, was in the grips of not one, but three purple OAPs. One round the neck, one round his waist, and one doing something not entirely appropriate to his left knee. The blood poured from his gaping wounds, then a main vein ruptured spraying blood all over the crinkled attackers. A battle cry emanated from the far corner, accompanied by a very angry ginger punk with a golf club.
“Hey, Vyv,” yelled Mike from the bar, “be careful, they’re good clubs them!”
Too busy concentrating on charging without abandon, Vyvyan took a good right swing at the blood spattered OAP, who collapsed awkwardly clutching his back. Two more swings about the neck area crippled the other OAPs. Fred, amazingly, was still standing. Well, standing in a sort of swaying way. His face, covered in his own blood, stared for one last time at this wholly unlikely situation he found himself in. Then he decided to Drop Dead. “Fred!” shouted The Supervisor, running over to the Fourth Dimension Mechanic’s limp body. “Nooo!”
The Supervisor contemplated the pointlessness of living when the end of it lay in front of him. Such tragic futility. For what part has the illusion of happiness to play amongst the faeces of life in its finality? What point is there in this existential compost that only ends up feeding someone else’s tomatoes? He also wondered whether or not the Salient Council would hold this against him in his next performance review. “There’s more!” he shouted, whilst a rush of various walking aids holding up ravenous crinkly figures piled through the bus doors. The Knight Before Christmas clung to his mop. He just couldn’t do it. He just couldn’t bring himself to attack the old dears, with their multitude of gums and smell of hospital waiting rooms.
Flashheart stole the moment and pranced boldly towards the horde. “Never fear! Lord Flash is here!” A growling OAP twisted its bony neck towards the heroic sex-fest. “Oh. Er…” said Flashheart, whilst a dark stain made its way around his groinal area. “Back in a tick,” he exclaimed, and ran towards the ladies’ toilets.
“Wait!” said Eddie. “I think I’m having an idea.”
“We haven’t got enough time for that, Eddie!” said a panic stricken Richie. “Christ all bloody bloody flip mighty! What are we going to do? We’re all gonna die!” The ‘enough time’, or perceived lack of it, was in fact, factually incorrect. They did have time. They were OAPs after all, and very slow on their ancient feet. They were 82, y’know, even in The War!
“The suitcases, quick!” Eddie dodged his way through the crowd to his suitcases and rummaged around for a bit. “Here! We can use these!”
“Bloody right!” exclaimed Richie, flailing his limp knuckles in front of his wide eyes. “Fisticuffs it is!” Assorted frying pans, cricket bats, umbrellas, mallets, rolling pins, and underpants in various states of cleanliness were handed out. The incensed patrons, determined to defend their locale, dived in with a vengeance only surpassed by the great King Street Luddite riot of 1812. The collective roar itself overwhelmed the very foundations of the pub. The plaster dislodged itself from the ceiling and rained down on the pugnacious crowd. Even the pub was fighting back!

Gormlessly Neil looked on at the war before him, holding a pair of underpants with a suspicious stain on the back. “Ohh, this is waaaay heeaaavy!”
Rick, was defending himself quite amicably with a cricket bat, dodging around like a Rocky Balboa possessed Cliff Richard fan. “You can’t attack me, you…you…you poor excuse for a near death experience! I’m an anarchist, y’know!” Surprising even himself, Rick bashed the OAP across the head. Pieces of its ruptured skull streaked across the room, only prevented from embedding themselves in the wall by the bits of brain snagging on the carpet. “Ha! That’ll teach you!”
“Woah,” said a dumbstruck Neil, “That was harsh, Rick, man.”
Emboldened by his brutality, Rick sagged, hand on hip, next to Neil’s grey form. “Do you really think anyone has ever been interested in anything you say or do, Neil?”
“Um. Well, no.”
“You really are pathetic aren’t you? Like a redundant cobweb wafting in the breeze.”
“Well, I…” Neil started.
“Shut up, Neil.”
“Okay, Rick.”
“You just called me a bastard, didn’t you?”
“No.”
“You did. You just called me and Vyvyan bastards, didn’t you, Neil?”
“Well, actually, I didn’t…”
“Hey Vyvyan, Neil just called you a bastard.”
“What?” said Vyvyan, rabid with rage.
“Um,” ventured Neil, “I don’t recall actually saying…”
But it was futile. Vyvyan and Rick, reasoning that they were due for a nice relaxing break from the war in progress, laid into the ball of hippy on the floor.

Meanwhile, behind the bar Dave and Daz were having trouble of their own. An OAP was encroaching hungrily towards them.
“I knew we shouldn’t have put the QC Sherry on show like that,” said a very worried Dave.
Daz grabbed a packet of pork scratchings thinking it may be his last. He crammed half the packet into his mouth and chewed at the teeth breaking rinds with abandon, not caring for the splattering escapees down his wobbling chin.
“Here! Take this!” cried Helen, handing them a mallet draped with a pair of Y-Fronts. “Protect the Strangebow at least! Please!”
“Right,” said Dave, shoving the pants into Daz’s pork smothered hands, “You get him round the face with these, and I’ll get the bugger with this!” He gripped the mallet with both hands, poised, ready for…
A walking stick swung through the air, narrowly missing Dave, and spray of Foresters forced itself out of its pump covering the whole bar. “Daz! Come on!”
“Oh right, yeah, right, yeah. Yeah. Right,” babbled Daz.
“They’re gonna get to the Hags Wobbling next!”
This was all Daz’s ears needed. They conveyed the message with haste to the fear constricted neurons, who told the synapses to override any other messages with this particular message of great importance. The Hags Wobbling memory cell writhed with anger, and quickly scribbled a return message to the adrenal gland, cc-ing in the coordination centre, to attack! Attack! A-bloody-tack!
The OAP struggled underneath the yellow tinged Y-Fronts. Daz pushed it to the floor, unyielding in his insistence. Dave ensured the mallet met its target, and a pool of red seeped all over the floor of the bar.

Underneath the jukebox Richie, armed with cricket bat, underpants, two frying pans, and a chair for protection, was fending off a rather randy OAP who seemed to prefer death by kissing. Her spittle covered lips pouted at him with gooey anticipation. Although he did contemplate the pros and cons of getting his end away nevertheless, Richie concluded it was just too disgusting a sight even for him. She would have to be dealt with.
“Oh,” he said, looking up at the ceiling just behind the horny creature, “Look at that very interesting thing up there.”
As explained previously, time critters were not known for their intelligence, and so the OAP did as she was told.
SPLAT!
“Ha!” exclaimed Richie.
The dried up body collapsed in a heap by the pool table, closely followed by Eddie, who was having problems with one of the larger of the OAPs currently wobbling its way towards him.
“Quick, Eddie, get up or he’ll sit on you!” Richie helped his friend up. They ran towards the fat gutted monster, ducked either side of its outstretched arms, and found themselves on the opposite side of the pub. “Right,” said Eddie, breathless, but unrelenting, “You hold the bastard, I’ll give him one of my specials.”
“Right you are, Eddie.”
Richie did some kind of Irish dance affair as he made his way towards the bulbous OAP, meaning to exude boxer-like prowess, but actually looking so stupid he managed to bewilder the OAP enough to allow him to duck behind the wobbling mass and grab its chubby arms in a lock. The OAP staggered, a bit unsteady due to the top heavy nature of his stature. “Right, Eddie, got him!”
“Raaaaarrrgh!” cried a battle hungry Eddie, charging the length of the pub, but realising half way that he had no weapon with which to charge. A prehistoric gene stirred within him, resulting in an astounding head butt that turned the OAP into a blob of sweaty blubber at Richie’s feet.

More and more OAPs climbed through the bus doors, some further enraged at the time they’d spent queuing to get off. “It’s no use, said Becky, there’s too many of them.”
We need a plan! Said Helen. “Something…solid!”
Mike rummaged through his suitcase. He pulled out a rubber suspender belt closely followed by a well-used blow up doll.
“Monica?!” exclaimed Richie, rushing over to the rubber based collection. “What are you doing with my Monica?!” Richie sobbed, cradling the saggy inflatable. “Oh, Monica. How could you betray me like this?” Tears ran down his crestfallen features.
“Monica?” said Mike, confused. “This is Stephanie. She’s mine. Gerroff!”
Richie looked closer and noticed the lack of puncture repair kit patches or superglue based ‘incident’ remnants. “Oh yes, yes. I see now. Amazing how similar they look though. Aharharhahaharg.”
“Here they are!” said Mike from within a large duffle bag.
“Really?” said Helen.
“Might as well. It’s all we’ve got at the moment,” said Dave.

The locals and accepted visitors assembled themselves behind the bar and closed the flap. In front of them lay 246 tubes of Fixodent. “But Mike,” said Neil, “Why exactly have you got all this Fixodent with you? I didn’t know your teeth weren’t real.”
“It’s not for me. I got it down the car boot, job lot. Bargain price. I was gonna try and flog it all in Doncaster.”
“Oh,” said Neil drearily.
Armed with as many tubes as they could hold, the locals composed themselves, ready to fire. “Right, I say we just bloody go for it. You know, just bloody well bloody well go for it, yeah?!” said Richie. “Yeah, all at once. In the face!” said Vyvyan, armed with nine tubes of Fixodent and a mallet.
“Okay,” said Mick, after three. Ready? One. Two. Threeeee!

SPLUUUURRRRTTIFTHTHHTSSPPPPPPPFFFFFBLLOBBBbleuggghhh…!

The snarling dribbley mass on the other side of the bar sprang back in surprise. The creamy liquid splatted about the purple heard, congealing with the sputum and sweat. It dripped down their furrowed faces, covering their bodies with pink ooze. Thickening. Solidifying. They slowed suddenly, their limbs restraining their wanton hunger. The unironed mass, as one, collapsed. Everything went silent.
“Are they dead?” asked Becky sheepishly.
“Looks like it,” said Helen.

245 empty tubes littered the bar floor. The stench of minty fresh death wrapped itself around the walls. The group behind the bar stared at the mess of broken tables, chairs, stools and walking sticks littered amongst the redundant frying pans, cricket bats and underpants, some covered in blood, some in pink spatters of gunk. Plaster hung off the ceiling, some of it still making its way to the defunct battle front. The Knight Before Christmas smiled eagerly, mop at the ready.

“What are we going to do with them?” said Daz.
“We could chop them up,” suggested Vyvyan, helpfully.
“Then what?” said Helen.
“Erm…” Vyvyan hadn’t thought that far ahead.
“Neil could make a nice casserole,” suggested Rick.
“Yeeeaah, I’m good at casseroles,” said Neil cheerily. “Oh, but, not meat based casseroles,” he corrected. “No way. That’s not cool. Got any lentils?”
“Technically,” said the Supervisor, “The time critters made these bodies, so they are actually synthetic meat. Vegetarian friendly.”
“Synthetic meat?” said Neil. “Is that, like, healthy, man? ‘Cause my body is a temple, and I don’t want to put anything unethical into it.”

Then, a walking stick moved.

It moved because it was attached to an OAP arm.

Helen pondered this for a while. The arm moved again. “Shit! It’s moving!” The arm was slowly but desperately trying to undo the rest of its body from the adhesive mess. “But they should be dead! Surely they can’t breathe under all that.”
“It’s like they’re healing themselves,” said Becky. “Regenerating!”
Oh yes, yes, that’s exactly it,” said The Supervisor, recalling his training. “Group 12 based regeneration.”
“Group 12?” enquired Becky.
“Yes. Group 12, the volatile metals. Mercury, cadmium, zinc.”
“Zinc? One of the main ingredients of Fixodent, I believe,” said Daz to a puzzled audience. “Look, you learn stuff when you’re living with your Nan, okay?!”
“Yes, Daz,” said Helen.
“Helps immune function, wound healing, promotes cell growth. It’s good for you is a bit of zinc.”
The seething pink and purple mass popped a few more bones under the strain of their attempted sticky escape. “Well, unless you’re us, then zinc is probably quite bad really.”
“It usually takes them a few days though,” said The Supervisor, “To regenerate, I mean. But with this large supply of zinc, well…” The Supervisor looked worried. A bit too worried for everyone’s liking.
“Well?” said an impatient Helen.
“Well, it might be they can regenerate much faster.”
“How much faster?”
A snarling OAP grabbed at Becky’s foot. Becky screeched, as Helen stomped on the hand with a satisfying crunch. “Quick,” she said, “We’ve got to get them out of here!”

A chain of people formed, leading through the bus doors right down to the window at the end. Purple OAPs were passed along the chain, each body in multiple forms of disarray. The ones that still moved were bludgeoned quite happily by Vyvyan before joining the chain. Slowly a misshapen pile of crusty pink goo appeared on the road outside, squirming and moaning as it awoke to seek its pray once more.

Inside the pub all the bodies had been removed. Just a few remaining arms and a false hip here and there, which were quickly gathered up and slung out. The bus window, now smeared in a mixture of Fixodent and gaffa tape (because everyone everywhere should have a roll of gaffa tape), held steadfastly as a guilty MP. They weren’t going to get back in that way at least. The Knight Before Christmas was sloshing his mop about the floor, joined by an equally efficient Neil with a cloth and a bottle of extra strength gunk removal spray.

Sharing a packet of moist wipes, the visitors joined the locals in a well deserved round of drinks facilitated by Dave and his very comfortable sidekick, Daz.
“What are we going to do now?” said Rick.
“Get smashed!” Richie exclaimed gleefully.
“Well, yes. That is an option. An option amongst few, in this world of woe,” droned Rick, feeling poetic. “In this polluted society, full of disenchantment and boiled dreams. In the wake of…”
“Shut up, Rick!” yelled Vyvyan to the dejected yooff. “Nobody wants to hear about your boils.”
“Fascist!”
“He’s right though,” said Mike. “We’re stuck here aren’t we? Fred’s dropped dead. And we can’t move the bus anyway cos it’ll leave a ruddy great hole in the wall.”
The collected visitors sighed, collectively. They were really looking forward to their holiday in Doncaster, and although it was a bonus ending up in a pub with a free bar, they couldn’t help but pine for their true destination.

The stoic Sleepless Knight stirred from his makeshift bed on top of the pool table. He grunted, snorted a feeble snore, then continued his slumber. Casually, The Knight Mare crawled from his fourth dimensional flat pack position beneath the sleeping oxymoron and trotted into the bar. She brayed at the astounded faces.
“Did you know there was a horse in your bar, Dave?” enquired Mike.
“Oh yes. Get her some nuts, Daz.”
“Yes, of course!” said The Supervisor. “The Knight Mare. Doh, silly of me.”
“What about her?” said Helen.
“The Knight Mare is well acquainted with the History Repeating Itself unit, being as she has one of her own.”
“What, like, inside her?”
“Yes. She invented it! It’s what the unit design is based on. She can recall all sorts of times, recent and distant. Even primordial. She tends to prefer the more scary ones though. Can anyone ride a horse?”
Vyvyan and Rick sniggered, just as Lord Flashheart appeared in the doorway, back from his very convenient trip to the ladies’ toilets, lasting approximately an hour, or at least until the sounds of war had ceased. “I can ride anything, me!” he said, valiantly. “Woof!”
“Hang on, I’ll have a word.” The supervisor bent heads with the Knight Mare in council. A packet of nuts later The Supervisor re-emerged with the look of a man with a plan.
“Right, everybody on,” he said, waving towards the Knight Mare’s back.
“What?” exclaimed Richie. “But we’re not all going to fit on there. And then there’s all our suitcases. Who’s going to carry those?”
“Just get on.”
“But…”
“Just try!”
So, Flash, Mike, Neil, Vyvyan, Rick, Richie and Eddie all piled onto the Knight Mare’s back. The horse seemed the same size, but couldn’t have been, because there were seven people on her back, eleven suitcases, and one almost empty duffle bag. Nevertheless, they all seemed pretty comfortable.
“Okay, girl, off you go,” whispered The Supervisor.

The Knight Mare sauntered around the pub, getting her balance, then stopped still. Two bony protrusions thrust themselves between Richie’s legs. He screamed like a girl, and then accepted it was better than nothing. The immense bat-like wings grew out of the horse’s body and displayed themselves in stupendous glory, covering the entire room so everyone not on the beast had to duck. The Knight Mare’s jaw grew wider, her teeth pointier, her nostrils flared over her darkened face below the deep red and black pools within her eye sockets. Her muscles rippled furiously as she reared up, almost beckoning something. Somewhere. Her whinnying pine screamed towards the ceiling, through to the cloudy sky outside, beyond space, beyond time. A black swirl appeared from within the cracked plaster above. The wind was deafening. People held onto their heads in fear of losing them. The horse reared again, with a frightening bark that struck the hairs that other frightening barks can’t reach. Her front hooves didn’t return to the floor, however. Instead they pulled up towards the black hole, taking her hind legs with them. The seven figures, clinging onto themselves and each other, attempted to wave goodbye to their hosts. Their hosts waved back, as much as hosts can when in a state of disbelief. The horse galloped through into the depths of somewhere in space time. Somewhere remembered. Somewhere never to be forgotten. The hole closed up as if it had never been there.

The familiar sound of walking stick tapping on glass rose up from the silence. Little splodges of pink appeared on the window.
“They’re back then,” said Helen.
Daz gazed at the space where the dark hole had been. “Best have another pint,” he said, pouring himself a Hags Wobbling.
“Mine’s a Strangebow, Daz,” said Helen, as if he didn’t already know.
“It’s weird seeing you behind there. It almost suits you,” said Becky.
“I kind of like it actually. But I’m going to miss that lot. I liked them.”
“Bit of entertainment at least,” said Helen.
“Yeah, well, the History Repeating Itself Unit will always hold onto them. As long as they’re in some memory path or another the connection’s permanently there,” said The Supervisor, “And this IS Episode 12.”
“Bloody timey-wimey stuff,” Dave growled.
“I could have sworn you said that before, just like that. About an hour ago,” said Daz.
De ja vu, mate, said Dave.
“Yes,” said The Supervisor wistfully, “It probably won’t be the last you’ll see of them.”

The locals sipped their drinks, committing to memory some of their experiences from the last hour, and discarding others. ‘We’re all going on a – summer holiday,’ sang Cliff from the jukebox, much to the amazement of the majority of the bar, who could have sworn the walking stick tap-tapping from beyond was attempting to beat in time.

[In memory of and in humble thanks to the great Rick Mayall. Rest in peace, matey.]

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Episode 11 – The Arse End

Abhorrent crowds of Purple OAPS gather in the streets, the atmosphere was much cooler than tepid. No laughter was to be had, inside the dungeon cell. In episode 11 of The Pint Files, things have taken a turn for the worse. Uprooted from their bum moulded bar stools, cool alcoholic beverages and crispy bar snack supplies, the pint files protagonists were bluntly un-amused.

“You fucking prick! You couldn’t just keep your mouth shut could you Daz?” Helen blasted, somewhat lacking in restraint.

“Well he was being a miserable git! Doing my head in, he was.” Daz replied. “Besides, you didn’t help matters did you? Neither of you did!”
Becky and Helen erupted with a mixed bag of curses and insults that the writer can’t be arsed to list here.
“I think you both made it worse, to be honest!” said Dave, once the verbal rumblings had subsided.

“I don’t know what you’re all moaning about anyway, at least they hung you the right way up! My emergency pork scratchings have fallen out of my pocket!” replied Daz with a pathetic sniffle.

Gurrrrp..bubble…zzzz….whistle…fart..zzzz….gurrrp.

“What is that noise?” asked Becky.
“It’s the Sleepless Knight, he’s supposed to be guarding us but he’s fast asleep.” said Helen.
“How the fuck did we end up here?” said Becky.

Daz was chained upside down to the dungeon wall, while Helen was chained the right way up. Dave was chained to the cell bars, and Becky was chained to a pipe, with a wooden plinth to sit on. The light was scarce, with the flicker of a solitary candle flame that danced with the shadows. A lonely beam of light shone from a small grilled window near the dungeon roof. Cruelly taunting Daz, the beam was perfectly aimed at the pork scratchings, as if they were bar snacks in the lime light, on a damp stony stage.
There was an eerie silence that was interrupted intermittently by a single drip of water, landing in an old sauce pan. Like a slow tick of a grandfather clock that had forgotten its tock, the drips persisted. Occasionally the sound of iron shackles, echoed through the room as the protagonists shuffled in their rusty restraints. The release of a fart or two wasn’t uncommon, often followed by a volley of insults and a rare snigger.

The situation was grim for the bar dwellers, it had all started earlier in the pub. It was all pretty calm, with the generic tap of walking sticks on the windows, and the jukebox playing its eclectic mix of musical delights. Helen, Becky, and Daz were sat at the bar contently conversing, discussing the events that had occurred recently. Dave was over sparkling the glassware as usual, whilst sucking whisky through a long plastic pipe, from a bottle on the wall. The Supervisor was having a well deserved tea break (more of a beer and peanuts break really). He’d been very busy since the Space Time IT man had been. Desperately, he was trying to fix the time machine before the Salient Council demoted him back to a Knight. Apparently, Knights were paid less and their pension plan wasn’t so good, the Supervisor shuddered to think.

As the bar dwellers perused some facts, a pertinent question began to manifest itself. The pretty calm of the bar was suddenly interrupted by confusion and miss, placed punctuation. So profound was the question, that it drove the three mildly drunk bar squatters to about turn, without leaving their stools. Sensing the beady, slightly glazed glare upon him; The Supervisor paused his salty peanut banquet to appraise the situation.

“What?” he said.

The bar dwellers, prompted by curiosity and a few pints of Dutch courage, delivered the mighty question. Why was The Supervisor here? Why were the Knights here? Benjamin had explained that the situation was current, because the bar dwellers wanted it to be. But the bar dwellers had never asked for a Supervisor, complete with mop obsessed Knights and various other creatures.

“OK, if I explain, will you leave me alone?” asked The Supervisor. With a unanimous nod of heads, The Supervisor took a drink and a deep breath.

He began to explain, that somewhere nearby, there was a white hole. It was probably responsible for the worm holes and portholes being on the piss. His explanation was cut short, when Daz rapidly suggested he was talking crap.

“White holes are massive, they’re the arse end of a black hole, it spews out time and matter, we’d all be dead!” he said. (Much to the surprise of the others, who didn’t know Daz had been furnishing himself with knowledge via the popular search engine ‘Poodle’.) With a threat of beer famine, should Daz interrupt again, the drunken know-it-all promptly shut up. Much facilitated by an angry glare from Helen and Becky.

PPPaaarrrrp!

“Daz you smelly git, was that you?” said Becky.
“Yeah, sorry! I’m hanging upside down, the gas is bubbling to the top!” replied Daz.
“And the top, is his bottom.” Dave added, with an accomplished smirk.
“So ya know that hole?” asked Helen.
“The hole in the top/bottom of Daz or the other one?” said Becky.
“No, the other one. I wonder what might come out of it next? Those critters could manifest as anything couldn’t they?” said Helen.
“Oh bloody hell! I hope they don’t manifest as a troop of topless glamour models! Eh, Dave!” said a gleeful, joking, but mildly hopeful Daz.
“It always boils down to that doesn’t it? You fucking sexist wanker!” Helen blasted.
“Yeah, set of tossers, why couldn’t it be a bare naked rugby team?” Becky asked.
“Oh yeah, that’d be nice.” Helen agreed with a slight smirk.

The Supervisor explained, that size was irrelevant. The white hole was in fact located somewhere in the town hall, next door to the pub. It was a small exit, indeed the arse end of a black hole, located somewhere in the building where it was spouting universal shit.
Apparently, the black hole was also being used as a conduit for some unruly beings called time critters, that could quite safely navigate the black hole without being torn to shreds. The time critters….

[Wait for it! You won’t believe this!]

The time critters could manifest themselves as anything, including
Purple OAPS.

[Told you! Unbelievable isn’t it? If you saw that coming, give yourself a gold star, or a cold beverage.]

Every time the time critters appear, the Knights are largely successful in bludgeoning them to death. However, the time critters wised up to the Knights and decided to take advantage of their gentlemanly nature. They’ve manifested themselves as old age pensioners, knowing quite rightly that the Knights won’t attack the old dears, time critters or not. They were also taking advantage of the unstable nature of the time bubble that the pub was caught in.

The Supervisor continued to explain that the situation was in fact, a stalemate. The critters couldn’t get in, because they had overlooked a slight flaw in their master plan. The critters were old and frail, and therefore too weak to break into the pub. All they can do is tap inanely on the windows with their walking sticks and post false teeth through the letter box now and again. The knights were banjaxed and couldn’t risk battle, as they might burst the bubble and cause a rupture in the space time gamut. This would cause the pub and its inhabitants to be squashed to the size of a pork scratching.

“What’s a ‘Space Time Gamut’ anyway?” Dave asked, shuffling in his rusty chains.
A Mexican wave of shrug circulated the prisoners, who didn’t have a clue. Except for one prisoner, who was the leading expert on space time, since her recent indulgence back in Episode 10. Becky went on to explain about the Space Time Gamut, but again, the writer can’t be arsed to write it all down here. The reader should be aware, that the Space Time Gamut is very important and must be respected, so just be careful and read on!

PPPPAAAARP…the cell walls squinted with the release of trapped wind, as someone let rip again.

“Wasn’t me that time!” Daz announced innocently.
“No it was me!” said the Sleepless Knight, before shuffling a little and returning to his peaceful slumber. Suddenly Becky gasped, “erm guys, there’s a rat!” she said, pointing at the corner of the room.

Sure enough, a well groomed rat appeared from under the cell bars. Everyone watched, since there wasn’t much else they could do, as the rat went about its peculiar business. Moving towards the pork scratchings, the rat walked an arrogant walk, a real over rated swagger for a rat. He then perused the pile of pork rinds, licking his lips and tapping each piece, testing for consistency.
“Oi! Get off my scratchings ya little shit!” Daz growled.
While the others sniggered and chortled, the rat continued, knowing that the spoils were safely his. With some more careful browsing, the rat selected a rind and lifted it up in his mouth. After a strange nomadic dance, like some kind of ritual to the rat gods, he took his salty snack and scarpered back underneath the bars.
The cell dwellers looked at each other in disbelief, but the obscure moment was spoiled by a sudden sound. Somewhere in the deep void of the dungeon, was a horrific shriek. Everyone silenced, frozen still with fear as the distressed cry petered out along the stony passageway.

“What the hell is that?” said Becky, somewhat panic ridden.
“Fuck knows! Daz, you’re a prick!” said Helen, venting her fear via an articulate finely tuned insult.
“Why am I a prick? It was you lot that exacerbated the situation. My harmless jibe was just intended as a light hearted poke. You lot turned it into a full on punch in the face. It’s no wonder he chucked us in here. Why he hung me upside down though, I’ll never know!” said Daz.
“Insulting his traditional Scottish dress, was probably a bit too much, Daz, to be fair.” said Becky.

After The Supervisors explanation, he contently returned to the remainder of his tea break. The bar dwellers, mildly wishing they’d never asked, turned back to the bar for another pint. This is where they should have stayed, contently drinking, absolutely not thinking of another question. Foolishly, but not before a cautious refill, the bar dwellers turned to The Supervisor once more.
“Fuck off, I’m on my break!” The Supervisor promptly shouted.
The Supervisor was not impressed by the comments that followed about his dull disposition. Daz fired the first shot with a suggestion that The Supervisor’s jock strap might be too tight. With the threat of an empty beer pump, Daz was again, swiftly told to shut up by the others.

“He was in a bad mood though, wasn’t he? He called you two a pair of wenches!” Said Daz, rattling in his chains.
“Yeah, he was in a bad mood. That’s no excuse for calling us ‘your’ wenches though!” said Becky.
“Well you should all be ashamed, it’s all your fault. My glasses will be losing there sparkly sheen!” said Dave.
“Your glasses will be fine Dave, and don’t play innocent, you played your part in all of this!” said Helen.

After the reprimand Daz received from Becky and Helen, The Supervisor, unwittingly fired a potent canon shot at the girls. “Yeah, I’d listen to your wenches if I was you Daz!” he said. The resulting return fire was severe, with a volley of articulate insults force fed in his direction about his girlie kilt and how his breath was very much like a freshly departed dog shit. The Supervisor didn’t take kindly to the insolence emanating from the highly offended women folks. Standing up, he drew a small dagger from his belt. He was about to lurch forward, when Dave delivered his own fateful blunder.

“Right, get out, you’re barred!” Dave shouted at The Supervisor.

The final straw was had, The Supervisor was now very pissed off. His face was an unhealthy shade of red, steam was emanating from somewhere, and a murky growl began to brew. Sensing that the line may have been crossed a little, rubbed out, spat on and replaced with a line of piss in the snow, the bar dwellers began to panic.

Daz rammed his shirt pocket with pork scratchings. Helen dived under the Strangebow pump with her mouth wide open and turned the tap on. Becky downed her pint, then everyone else’s. Dave began to turn a slight shade of blue as he sucked harder on his whisky pipe whilst polishing the glasses a whole lot faster. Eventually, time was up, the growl was now rupturing from The Supervisors mouth. The bar dwellers knew that when the bar fittings stopped rattling and the windows stopped shaking, there would be consequences.

“Well done for trying Dave, but how the hell could you have barred him?” asked Becky.
“Dunno, I don’t usually have to do anything else. Once I’ve said ‘you’re barred’ people usually just leave,” Dave replied.

Suddenly, the chatter was interrupted by the shrieking sound of the distressed man again. The chains in the cell rattled a little as the prisoners tensed up with fright. Now there was another worrying sound, the sound of footsteps, heavy and slow.

“Hey! Sleepless Knight! Wake up you nob head!” Helen shouted.
“What ya trying to wake him up for?” asked Becky.
“Well he might get into trouble for being asleep on the job, if we wake him up he might help us escape!” replied Helen.

Everyone began shouting and hissing, trying to rouse the Sleepless Knight, regrettably their efforts were futile. The Supervisor was now stood over him, pausing a little before delivering a swift kick.

“Wake up you tosser!” shouted The Supervisor.
“Wah, snort, sniff, huh?” the Knight muffled before shooting upright to his feet.
“Ya could have woken me up!” the Knight blasted at the prisoners.

The prisoners didn’t feel the Knight deserved any dialogue, instead they just delivered a round of tuts.

“Look, I’m sorry Mr Supervisor, I was only joking about your jock strap. You were just a bit moody though weren’t you?” Daz said, in a vain attempt at an apology.

“Daz, shut the fuck up!” Helen said, through gritted teeth.
“No, he’s right. I was a bit grumpy, I admit.” said The Supervisor.
“See, told ya!” said Daz jovially.
“Daz, ‘STILL’ shut the fuck up!” said Helen, just as the man shrieked again in the distance. A look of fear did the rounds amongst the prisoners again, before Helen made a thoughtful suggestion.

“Kill him first, he started it all!” she said, pointing at Daz.

“Oh, don’t worry! That ‘scary distant sound’ is just one of the time machine repair men stapling his hand back on. That idiotic Knight Before Christmas, chopped it off,” said the Supervisor.

The collective relief was almost audible, then it was suddenly very audible with the release of another fart.

“Sorry, that was me!” said Becky chuckling innocently.

“Right, I’ve been told to free you all and return you to the bar. It seems you have friends in the Space Time Society. I’ve been warned to free you instantly, before I’m demoted to jukebox operator. That’s not worth thinking about, they don’t even get expenses!”

Back in the bar, Dave ran to his glass tray and began furiously polishing, before being summoned to his duty.
“Pint please, Dave!” the freed prisoners chorused.
“I was only going to keep you in there till the end of the day ya know?” The Supervisor explained.
“Yeah, whatever!” Daz replied, “Now I wanted to chat with you about some glamour models….”
“Sexist twat!” Helen blasted.
“Wrestlers……” Becky added.

And so the Inns was returned to some kind of normality, the jukebox played and the drinks flowed. The patrons were chain free and happy, sat back on their bar stools drinking heavily before the next bout of drama unfolded.

To be continued….one would hope.

Episode 10 – Love, The Universe, and Paper Cuts

By Helen Rhodes

Detective Inspector Hudson sighed into his empty Jager glass.
“What’s up?” said Becky, smoothing her hand over his tweeded back.
“Oh, I dunno. This is all very well isn’t it? Good ale, nice company, a fine filly to look at.” The Knight Mare sniffed in a warm hearted manner. “But, I’m a detective. I’m supposed to be detecting this murder. It could mean a promotion, which means a finer life for my family. And I miss my wife. My beautiful Clara.” The Detective sniffed behind his shirt cuff. Frank fluttered over to the Detective’s shoulder and belched in a sorrowful tone. A crash, followed by a muttered expletive came from The Door where The Supervisor and the Knight Before Christmas were attempting to help the Fourth Dimension Emergency Service man fix the time machine.
“Another pint, mate,” said Dave, positioning a full tankard of Hags Wobbling in front of the dejected Detective, who picked it up with his left hand.
“And that’s another thing. I’m sure I was right handed before.”

A faint banging emanated from beneath the bar. It got louder. Dave’s feet shuffled, unnerved. The banging turned into pounding, drowning out the walking sticks attacking the windows. Above their heads pipes creaked and groaned with effort, enough to stir the patrons into neglectful drinking and stare towards the ceiling. The light fitting wobbled, then started to swing from side to side. With bullet precision a yellow pool ball shot across the room, narrowly missing the Knight Mare, and impaled itself in the floorboards at the foot of the bar. It seemed to smoulder where it lay, while the pipes roared and the thumping pounded and the whole building creaked as if it were about to collapse. A rumble stirred from the direction of the ladies loos. A rumble that required all minds to cry out ‘Oh shit!’ The rumble got louder, closer, vigorous in its intent. Then the toilet flushed.

Squelch… Squelch… Squelch…

Becky stared at Daz. The whites of her eyes getting paler by the second.

Squelch…Squelch…Squelch…

Daz stared at Helen, a bit of dribble forming around the corner of his mouth.

Squelch…Squelch…Squelch…

Helen stared at the entrance to the ladies. “What the hell…?”

A figure stood in the doorway. “Oh boy,” it said, as it dripped on the dreary carpet.
“Oh wow!” said Becky, beholding the sodden man before her, who seemed to have a few dollops of crusted bird shit on the shoulders of his long black leather coat. He had a cane with what looked like a question mark shaped handle. Underneath his coat he wore a cricket jumper with a red bow tie. A multi-coloured striped scarf draped round his neck and reached almost to the floor. He had a cheeky look in his eye as he regarded Becky.
“Ah!” boomed the man. “There you are, you little bugger.”
Frank promptly averted his gaze and found a secluded perch atop the Captain’s Organs bottle.

“And you are?” enquired Helen.
“Benjamin Beeblebrown, Space Time IT.”
“Er… Very good,” said Helen. “That’s good isn’t it, Daz?”
After a swift kick to the shins, Daz replied articulately, “Oh…erm… Yeah. Good. Yeah. Is it?”
Benjamin took a stance not too dissimilar to Superman, his long coat insinuating itself about his masculine form. “We detected an emergency on the TITS scan (Time and Information Technology in Space). We were monitoring this space time following a bright yellow flash some weeks ago. I saw him fly past, the little…” Benjamin pointed an annoyed finger to Frank, who was innocently filing his claws in his new hiding place.

“Snort,” something said in a vague Somerset accent. A very pink, very small, quite attractive pig trotted out of the ladies toilet and sat at Benjamin’s feet.

Helen laughed, for the ridiculous can only be laughed at. “And this is your pig, obviously,” she said sarcastically.
“A pig?” Benjamin looked puzzled. “This is Piggy. She’s a super hybrid computer.
“Of course she is,” smirked Helen.
“She is capable of doing a trillion floating point calculations per second.”
Daz grabbed his half eaten packet of pork scratchings and swiftly hid them under his t-shirt. “Hey, Pig,” he said, innocently.
“And she’s made of stardust. But aren’t we all! Ha! Ha! Ha! Haarrr!” boomed the intergalactic IT tech.
With a fourth creature which held less regard for toileting etiquette now in the vicinity, Dave fetched the mop and placed it at the end of the bar, just in case.
The pig shaped super computer took out a rather pretty black Gibson Les Paul from the folds of Ben’s coat and started to strum at the strings contemplatively.

“So… So… you’re a Time Traveller?” Becky managed, hardly able to contort her numb body around the sentence.
The man swaggered towards Becky, and leaned on the bar next to her. “A TITS tech. A sort of time traveller, I suppose,” said Benjamin confidently.
Becky managed a weak smile that gave way to a glazed and somewhat overwhelmed look.
“Oh,” she said, faintly. “And you got here through the ladies bogs?”
“Its vortical flow is a bit on the piss, if you’ll pardon the pun, Miss.”
Becky giggled as if she was in some kind of Sunday prime time ITV drama.
“But, yes, it is a well known portal.”
The Detective, although confused, had read many H G Wells novels, and was able to connect the words originating from this new visitor to cognitively compute the formation of an idea. “A porthole?” he said. “You mean you can freely travel to and from the past?”
“Of course!” boomed Benjamin.
“So you could take me home? I mean, back to my time. Good old 1885?”
“Thought you weren’t dressed for the correct time. That explains it all.”
“Yeah,” said Becky. “He turned up a couple of weeks ago.”
The Detective tried to remember two weeks back through the fermented haze in his head. “I was just on my way here to investigate a murder and…well, I don’t know what happened, but I ended up in the wrong time.”
“I said it was some timeywimey thing,” said Becky, proudly.
Benjamin took in the entire floor space with his wide struts, as though modelling himself for a catalogue shoot. Becky weakened at his radiating presence. He smelt of chips. “Interesting,” he said thoughtfully. “Do you remember exactly where you fell through time, sir?”
“Just outside there, on the cobbles. When I came through the door of the pub it seemed a bit different, but I wasn’t really thinking about that. Other things on my mind, you see. The murder, that is. Imperative that I solve the case. Some very important people will be very upset if it’s not dealt with.”
Benjamin climbed competently onto the seat by the window and peered down the street outside. The bash of a walking stick next to his nose didn’t deter his thoughts. “Hmm, I see. I see. Yes, yes, that’s it. Yes.”
“What’s it?” said Becky, as she watched him climb down and resume his strutting.
“There’s another porthole outside.”
“Another one? Huh! That’s lucky, innit Daz?”
Daz’s shins conveyed the message from Helen’s foot to Daz’s mouth that it should be moving in some way. “Er, yeah. Is it?”
“Well,” postulated Benjamin, “it would explain how you, sir, ended up in here.”
“Does it?” said Daz.
“Yes. That pothole out there.”
“Pothole? Don’t you mean porthole?”
“Well, yes, the pothole that is also a porthole. It’s creating a ringworm hole between out there and in here. A self perpetuating vortex. No wonder I had such a rough ride getting here.”
Helen’s brain fizzed. “You mean a loo-loop hole? Between the pothole and the loo. See?” She nudged Daz’s arm, which promptly fell off the bar bringing his chin with it, “A loo-loop hole. Hahahaha…hergh…hmm.”
“You were saying, Benjamin?” said Becky, fully focused on this package of pure manly wonderment in front of her.
“The ladies toilet is the way in, the pothole out there is the way out. It’s quite understandable that this Detective should happen upon it with his feet and fall through, even without realising. You just need to go back the way you came, through the pothole porthole. We can go together, now I’ve found that stupid bird, take you back to your own time.”
“But they’re out there, the Purple OAPs,” said Becky. “You can’t go out there, they’ll tear you apart!”
“Purple OAPs? Is that what they are?”
“Yeah. Apocalypse, blah, blah. Rules, blah, blah,” said the Detective, disheartened.
“Hmm, that is a bit of a predicament.” Benjamin thought for a moment. Everyone waited with firm expectation. “Bugger,” he said.
“Does that mean that both of you are, sort of, stuck here?” asked Becky, hopefully.

ClaTTerCrashBANGsparkBOompiFFTssssss….

“Will you stop with the slaughtering, please!”
The Supervisor hurried from The Door, closely followed by a rather crestfallen Knight Before Christmas. “If you keep slaughtering everyone that comes to help us we’ll never fix the damn thing!”
The Knight Before Christmas returned his sword to its holder, then spied the mop at the end of the bar, which cheered him a little.
“Oh,” said The Supervisor, beholding the fine figure that was Benjamin… “See what you’ve done?” he said to the Knight. “You’ve managed to enrage The Salient Council. We’ll be in real trouble now.”
“Wait, he’s nothing to do with you,” explained Becky. “He’s here because of the budgie,”
“The budgie?” puzzled The Supervisor.
“Yeah. Frank.”
Frank belched, then continued filing his middle claw.
“Okay. Anyway, while you’re here, do you think you could help us fix our time machine?” enquired The Supervisor, somewhat flustered.
Benjamin’s face lit up. “You have a time machine?”
“Well, yes, but it’s a bit…” The Supervisor glared at the Knight Before Christmas, who adamantly stared straight at the mop. “…um, broken.”
“Broken how?”
“It’s the origami circuit. The time gasket has been severed. Bit of an accident. The folds still work, but the time doesn’t.”
“I see,” said Benjamin, rubbing his chin.
“Do you?” said Daz.
“So you can fold time but not move it.”
“Yes,” said the Supervisor. “We called out the Fourth Dimension Emergency Service but the mechanic said he’s not authorised to fix it because its warranty ran out two months ago when SOMEBODY forgot to set up the direct debit.” A glare hit the Knight where it hurts. The Knight concentrated firmly on the mop. “And now an unfortunate – ahem – accident has occurred meaning the mechanic is no longer of any…erm…use, so to speak.” The Knight shuffled a bit, then returned to his special mop place.
“I see,” said Benjamin.
“You do?” said Daz.
“And even if we can fix it we still can’t get anywhere,” The Supervisor sighed. “The navigator’s sort of broken too. His prescient planning is all out of whack. Can’t plot a safe course.”
“Too much Spice Melange?” said Benjamin.
“Indeed,” The Supervisor nodded.
“Eh?” said Daz.
“Spice Melange. Navigator sustenance, inhaled through the gills. Too much and…well, let’s just say he’s not safe to navigate anything.”
“So, in other words, he’s stoned off his box?” said Daz.
“We need something to snap him out of it, and quickly,” said The Supervisor.
“Jager!” said Helen. A flash of blond appeared at the bar.
“You yelled?” said Harry.

The Supervisor went to fetch the navigator from the time machine. Becky decided to make the mistake of asking how the origami circuit worked, coupled with a small explanation of how time travel happened, and whether or not, by the by, Benjamin was seeing anyone at the moment. Benjamin settled himself expertly and very cosily between Becky and the Detective ready to explain the origami circuit to the enthralled participants in this horrendously convoluted story.
“Ah yes. Well, the origami circuit is a clever little invention. Do you have any synthehol, Dave, is it?”
Dave roused himself from his brain freeze. “Er…no, don’t think so.”
“Vulcan brandy?”
“No.”
“Any Janx Spirit?”
“Janx… Er, no. We’ve got Newky Brown, that do?”
“Oh, I suppose so. Can’t be as bad as that Aldebaran whiskey I had last weekend. Phoor! Blow your nuts off that! Har! Har!” Ben’s teeth sparkled, mirrored by Becky’s delighted eyes.
“You see, you need two things for time travel: being able to move in time, and being able to move in space. If that part origami circuit is broken it means it can’t fold space, but moving in time still works. The origami circuit is acting like the old style fluxing capacitor which could only move in time, not space, so you could appear in the same place but in a different time. It’s your basic Holtzman effect, the folding of space time, relating to the repellent force of subatomic particles.”
Daz stared at the speedy commotion of Benjamin’s mouth, considered trying to understand what was exuding from it, then said, “Yeah….. Is it?”
“So,” piped up Becky, scooching her stool a bit closer to Benjamin’s elbow, “Like, how do you actually move around in space?”
Benjamin was silent. Locked in. Lost in a moment.
Frank belched, acting like a dubious alarm clock. “Oh, sorry. You have such an intenseness about you, Miss…erm…?
“Becky,” said Becky, through a grin almost half a light year wide.
“Becky. Lovely name. Lovely…hmm. Yes, well…space.” Shaking off his daydream, Benjamin continued. “Space is like an open ended curve. You can splice geometries together to make any shape you wish, depending on where you want to go. When you physically enter the geometry, in, say, a U shape, you would sort of curve back on yourself, and exit the other end. Of course you’d then come out backwards. Basic CPT symmetry. Physical laws of the universe and all that. Har! Har! Har!”
Becky’s doe eyes shimmered. “Backwards?” she said.
“Yes, back to front. You’re basically a mirror image moving back in time. Sometimes I can’t even remember which side should be on which side!”
“So that’s why I keep using my left hand instead of my right,” said the Detective.
“Of course!” continued the mesmerising IT tech, “You have to be careful though. You can’t go mucking about in four dimensional space time. The relatives don’t like it. Especially antimatter. She can be a right bitch!”
Silence of the head wrapping kind lasted for all of five seconds before…
“Har! Har! Har!”
…the booming laughter shook everyone back into consciousness, just in time to take in The Supervisor’s return. He was holding the navigator in his cupped hands. “He’s not happy about having to move,” said The Supervisor. “He says everything’s a bit spinny.”
The Supervisor put the goldfish on the bar in front of Harry. Everyone watched the slightly hazy fish circle its spherical tank.
“Huh. Huh,” chuckled Daz. “But that’s a goldfish. Isn’t it?”
“That’s the navigator,” corrected The Supervisor. “Do you think you can fix him, young man?”
“Sure,” said Harry. Although I think the dilution may bugger up the cooling time. But I’ll give it a go.”

Piggy appeared at Benjamin’s feet and tugged on the corner of his long coat. He looked very worried, like super computer pigs can do. Benjamin picked her up. “Ah, Piggy. What’s the trouble?” The pig snorted for a length of time, with an occasional squeal, which sounded very serious. “Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear.”
“What’s the matter? What did she say?” asked Becky.
“Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. That isn’t good. No. No.” Benjamin placed Piggy in his coat pocket and turned to the Detective. “Excuse me, sir, but would you be Detective Inspector Hudson of the Wakefield City Police?”
The Detective dragged his heavy head at the mention of his full name. “Indeed I am.”
“Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.” Benjamin’s appendages fidgeted in a way that suggested that something significant was going on in his vast brain and very high speeds.
“What? What is it? What’s wrong?” asked a very worried Becky.
“We need to get him home.”
“Well, yeah, “ laughed Becky, “We all know he wants to go home. Silly.”
“No, you don’t understand. We MUST get him home.”
“Why, sir?” The Detective rose from his stool, alarmed by the obvious agitation in Benjamin’s voice. “Why MUST you get me home?”
Benjamin grabbed the Detective’s shoulders with immediacy. “This murder you need to solve. Was it the murder of Emily Smythe, daughter of Joseph Smythe, sole benefactor of the Inns of Court, 1865 to… erm, well, from your time?”
“How did you know that?”
“Oh dear, oh dear. We have to get you back.” Benjamin turned to Becky, a look of horror and sadness overcame him.
“Why?” said Becky, holding the IT tech’s hands in hers. He looked deeply lost in her eyes, and said.
“Otherwise you will cease to exist.”
“What?!”
“All this will cease to exist. This pub, all these people, the beer, everything.”
“What?!” exclaimed Daz. The dry mouthed terror of Episode 5 overcame him.
“The Inns of Court’s very existence depends on you solving this murder. If we don’t get you back then everything and everyone in this building will disappear.” Becky’s eye sockets bulged as Benjamin wrapped his arms around her, holding her so tight she thought she might pop in an explosion of aroused senses.

Everyone was shocked. Even the writers broke out in a sweat. All this time and effort and now there was a possibility this story might not even exist in the first place! What a waste of time. Or was it a waste of space? Not sure. Maybe both? Anyway…

Remembering the mess that explosions of aroused senses can cause, Becky struggled for a breath, “But the time machine’s broken, and we can’t get outside to the pothole porthole. How are you going to get him back?”
“Not only that,” said the Detective. “What if I can’t solve it? This murder that you say holds so much weight in the continuation of this fine establishment, what if I can’t solve it?”
All faces looked in horror. Horror stared back.
“Oh, that’s okay,” said Benjamin. I can tell you how to do that.”
“Oh?”
“Well, Piggy can. Hang on.” Piggy appeared from her snug coat pocket and made small snuffling noises as Benjamin fed her some chopped potatoes. She gurgled for a minute, then, in perfect English, said, “It was the victim herself, it was her fault.”
Ignoring the fact he was now conversing with what he thought was indeed an actual pig, the Detective flung his arms in the air in exasperation. “And how can you possibly come to that ludicrous conclusion? She’s the victim! How can she murder herself?!”
“Look, this place, the Inns of Court, a place for those of the legal persuasion, yes?”
“Yes.”
“Provider of lodgings as well as nourishment for the bellies and brains of many fine barristers passing through this city.”
“Yes.”
”The whole point of the Inns of Court establishments was to foster collegiality among the profession, to provide learning materials and informal information exchange between likeminded gentlemen.”
“Indeed,” said the Detective, still confused, and still slightly uncomfortable with the whole pig talking thing.
“And that’s exactly it,” said Piggy. “Gentlemen. Women weren’t allowed to enter the legal profession. The murdered woman, Emily Smythe, was cunning as well as clever. She managed to pass herself off as a learned gentleman for six months or so, learning about the law, participating in challenging debates and mock trials. Her intellect was so compelling she gained the respect of all the trainee barristers that encountered her. All but one. Mr George Sinclair. He not only respected this young man, as he thought, he also admired him, maybe in a little too much of a physical way for some to comprehend according to the customs of your time, sir.”
“You mean, he…he…?” wavered the Detective.
“He fancied the pants off her,” blundered Daz.
“Well, yes, but he didn’t know she was a he. He thought he was a he, and a fine specimen at that. This is what so infuriated him when he discovered her secret during one very merry winter evening, having staged an audience with her alone with a view to revealing his true feelings. His embarrassment raged within him, and the fear of his own wants becoming public via the gossip that women folk were supremely accustomed to made his logical mind conclude the only course of action he felt he had. He strangled her to death on this very spot.”
All eyes looked at the stain on the carpet beneath them. Then the next stain. Then the next. Then they gave up and went back to the enthralling story unfolding before them.
“Well, not this exact spot. Or that one,” the pig continued. “Panic stricken, George escaped unseen, and the body was found later that evening slumped in that booth over there – for how long, no one knew. When her true identity was discovered there was much outrage from the judges at the court house, and no more so than Sir Joseph Smythe, a distinguished judge of Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice, and sole benefactor of the Inns of Court. And, Detective, a very close friend of your Chief Inspector. Mr Smythe vowed to withdraw all his funding and demolish this building in which his daughter perished should the perpetrator not be captured and brought to justice. You were assigned to the case, Detective, because you are the most highly regarded detective of the Wakefield City Police, and your Chief Inspector would entrust such a sensitive and imperative case to only one man. His next in line. You.”
The Detective stood aghast at the story he’d just been told. And told, although very eloquently, by a small pink pig with a slight Somerset accent.
“But won’t the fact he’s even been here fuck up space time something or other?” said Becky.
“The future can interact with the past so long as the past is not modified. That’s the Grandfather Paradox,” said Benjamin.
“So that means I DO solve the murder, otherwise we wouldn’t be here.” The Detective became very animated at this thought.
“You do, so long as we can get you back.” Benjamin’s brow furrowed as the thought weighed on his mind. He turned to Becky. “If we can’t, then… Well, you’ll all…all this, it’ll start dissolving.”
Daz stared at the Hags Wobbling pump in disbelief. The pump flickered slightly. “Right, come on, we need to sort this out. I was in the army, you know. I can do this. I can figure this out. It’s simple, really.” There was a pause while the simple answer mooched along the bar and disappeared as if it hadn’t even been there in the first place. “Isn’t it?”
“Well,” said Benjamin, looking at The Supervisor “depends what shape the time machine’s in really.”
“Dunno about that. The mechanic didn’t look too positive,” said The Supervisor. “And the exterior has a thick coating of innards, thanks to Mr Happy Sword over there. The rotational mass efficiency will be severely reduced.”
“Oooh, oooh, ooh!,” said Becky. Couldn’t we combine the time machine and the porthole in the ladies somehow? Like make our own time machine. Like on Scrapheap Challenge?
Everyone stared at Becky.
“Yeeeaaah,” said Daz, “I’m good with my hands. Got any spanners, Dave?”
“Scrapheap Challenge?” said Helen, “Really?”
The Supervisor sniggered.
“Wait, she has a point,” said Benjamin. Becky blushed. “We could use the time rotor from the machine to reverse the polarity of the pothole. Make in out and out in.”
“Ah,” interjected The Supervisor, “Fraid the starter motor’s buggered too. We may have been a little too enthusiastic in trying to start it the other day. It was a cold day.” The Supervisor shrugged. “It’d need one hell of a boost to get it going again.”
“Like a jump start?” said Daz.
“Sort of, but it needs to have the equivalent power of an exploding star.”
“Oh.” Daz hunched over and sipped his pint, giving up. Exploding stars had nothing to do with spanners.
The Supervisor trudged back through The Door in search of the time rotor.
“An exploding star,” said Becky, dreamily.
“A beautiful sight,” Benjamin said, not sure if he was describing such a star or something…someone else. Becky caught his gaze and turned her shy blush towards their hands, now firmly clasped together like they would fall into an abyss of pleasure if they let go.
“A spark,” said Becky. “Something so powerful it could literally turn the world upside down.”
“Yes. Like…”

“Like…”

The space between them dissolved as something strong, magnetic, pulled them together, and…and…
“That’s it!” shouted Benjamin.
“Eh?” said Becky, one eye open, mid pout.
“You’re the key! It was meant to be! This was meant to happen. All of it. The Detective turning up, you, Becky, the key to the universe, right here.”
“Um…,” ventured Becky, unsure where this particular chat up line was going.
“Space time is affected by the overwhelming free will of sentient beings. It’s almost like space time has its own conscious, like it knows where you need to be even if you don’t know yourself. The Detective needed to come here so Piggy could tell him how to solve the murder. All because of you lot. You all want this place to exist so much, space time was affected by you. I had to come here to explain all that.”
“And get me home,” said the Detective.
“Yes, and get you home, by reversing the porthole. Which means something else is meant to happen, and, Becky, you’re the key.” Becky smiled a somewhat confused but nevertheless ecstatic smile as Ben took her in his arms. “Come with me, now,” said Benjamin softly.
Becky was breathless once again, “Where to?”
“The ladies toilets.”
“Ahh. Oh. Okay.”

Benjamin grabbed the time rotor from the Supervisor’s slightly bloody hands. “You too, Detective. To the toilets!” The three figures disappeared into the ladies. The broken loo seat took on a whole new meaning as Ben positioned the Detective on its rim, his feet astride the watery hole below. He placed the time rotor in his pocket with Piggy and clambered up in front of the Detective. “Hold on to my waist.” The Detective complied.
“But…” said Becky, “But…will I ever see you again?”
“You will see me in the stars every night. And I will be with you, for all time.” Benjamin leaned over and scribbled something on the toilet door. “And I will never forget you, Becky. My key to the universe, and my heart.” Becky fell into his arms like melted chocolate. Benjamin kissed her lips, almost afraid of the power they imparted. Arcs of blue silver spread across the toilet, into the bar. The crackling sparks flew around the drinkers, most of whom clambered under the tables for cover. Daz cradled his pint, shielding his only love from the bouncing bolts of energy. A deep rumbling buzz emanated from the toilets, reverberating through the collected stomachs, vibrating through the foundations, the earth, the core of existence.

Then it was gone. Silence, except for a small fizz zipping about the light fittings.

Becky slowly emerged from the ladies toilets with a look of satisfaction and loss.
“Did he do it?” asked Helen.
“Yeah,” Becky sighed, “Oh yeah, he did it all right.”
“So they’ve both gone? The Detective too?”
“Oh that. Yeah, they’ve both gone.”
Daz stared suspiciously at the Hags Wobbling pump. He reached out a finger and prodded it inquisitively. Relieved, he downed the dregs of his pint glass. “The beer’s still here, we’re still here, so everything must be okay. ‘Nother pint please, Dave.”
The Knight Before Christmas could contain himself no longer. He swept the mop up and started slopping it about happily around the floor. The Supervisor rolled his eyes to the ceiling and returned to the time machine in the vain hope he could piece back enough of the mechanic to at least hold a screwdriver or three.
“I think that’s about the right temperature now,” said Harry, holding the backs of his fingers to the Jager glass, then picking it up and pouring it straight into the goldfish’s globular home.
There was a flash of blond, then the comforting sound of the jukebox clicking into life.
Daz fished his half packet of pork scratchings from under his t-shirt. In this space and time, he thought, all was well.

To be continued…

Episode 9 – Hallucination of the Apocalyptic Mind

By Daz Trei

A squeak at The Door could only mean one thing. The Xmouse had obviously had enough of the rambling on about the Rumbelows man and the severed time machine gasket. Hopping onto the bar, everyone cheered, as Dave brought him a gin and tonic. (With a cocktail umbrella of course, classy mouse.) Suddenly, however, the return of the Xmouse celebration, was cut short. The whole pub fell silent, for some words were muttered that caused silence of a hushed kind of silence. “What!” Dave sort of asked Daz, angrily.
“Erm, can I have a coffee please…Dave?” Daz asked. Feeling a glare of beady eyes, gazing with a burning intensity, Daz shuffled uncomfortably. Suddenly, the sound of two loud thuds, broke the dramatic deadlock.
“Ouch! Tossers! I thought it was the guy on the end of the bar that fell off his stool!” shouted Helen as she climbed back up, clearly not impressed.
“You prick Daz, don’t say the C word again! And why hasn’t he fallen off his stool?” shouted Becky. The man at the end of the bar hadn’t been listening. He was watching the horse racing on the TV. “Oi!” shouted Helen, causing everyone in the bar to jump. The man at the end of the bar turned to see what the fuss was about. “Wha?” he shouted back.
“Daz, just asked Dave….for a coffee!” shouted Becky. The man at the end of the bar suddenly looked very shocked, [Honestly, he was very, very shocked]. Nobody at the Inns ever asked for coffee. “Fucking coffee?” he shouted, as he glided from his stool, somewhat theatrically onto the floor. “Sod it, I’m staying down here. Sick of falling off that bloody stool. Fffffin writers,” he grumbled.
“What?” the rest of the bar chorused, resuming the coffee saga at the bar. Daz was rubbing his eyes and shaking his head. “Why, do you want a coffee Daz?” asked Helen.
“Well, I’m….I’m hallucinating with all the beer and pork scratchings. Look over there for example, there’s a horse with a budgie on its back, sipping a small glass of Budgiesham and dry ginger. There’s a mouse drinking a gin and tonic, with an umbrella…”
“Because he’s classy!” everyone interjected thoughtfully, but inappropriately.
Daz huffed and continued his list, whilst some folks read the free magazines at the end of the bar. “…Sorry, he is a classy mouse actually. Then, there’s a Sleepless Knight, snoring his bloody head off on the pool table and a detective from another time period is now drinking erm… What is he drinking?”
“Its a Porno. He said he wanted to try one,” replied Dave blankly.
“He’s drinking a Porno? What’s a Porno? Oh bloody hell, never mind. There’s only one thing for it, I must be hallucinating. Now Dave, give me a coffee, I need to sober up,” said Daz. Helen and Becky were clinging on to the bar, ensuring they didn’t fall off their stools again, following yet another hot beverage request. Dave took a deep breath, before bringing himself to finally ask, “One sugar, or two?”
Everyone looked on as Daz cocooned himself in hot steaming coffee and an attempt at rational thought. Looking up now and again to see if reality had realigned itself, only to find a horse smiling back with dry roasted peanuts stuck between its teeth. “More coffee please, Dave!” Daz repeated.
“Why are you doing this Daz? Its not good for you, all this is happening, whether we like it or not. It’s the Purple OAP apocalypse. We can’t get away from it. Beer helps us deal with it. Do you want a shot of something in your……coffee?” Helen asked, almost vomiting from the mention of the C word.
“Nope, I’ve had enough. It’s sober up time! More coffee please, Dave,” replied Daz. After another five coffees the inevitable happened: he got up to go to the toilet. Briefly he stood, looking at the obstacle before him, trying to pretend it was normal to have a horse stood at the bar in a pub. It didn’t work, however, and with an exaggerated exhale of air Daz squeezed past the Knight Mare. Whilst stood at the urinal, doing what men do at urinals, he noticed something strange. Outside the toilet window, he couldn’t hear the sound of walking sticks and zimmers. Instead, he heard the rather normal sound of people in the smoking area…having a smoke and a chuckle.
“Bloody hell, more hallucinations,” he said out loud, as the chuckling outside persisted. Walking back out of the toilet door and back towards the bar, Daz stopped and almost crapped himself as the back door to the smoking area opened. He was trapped, if it was a Purple OAP, he’d have to run back in the toilets. Or worse, it could have been the angry diving spectators!
In through the door came two lads, who headed into the pub via the middle door. This was a vision of normality. ‘Was the apocalypse over?’ he thought. He looked through the open door; the sun was bouncing from the town hall building opposite, the Purple OAPS had gone and the tables were surrounded by happy patrons, sucking at there white smokey health hazards and blowing out clouds of normal happy smoke. Daz couldn’t have been more happier. ‘Yeah! Everything’s back to normal!’ he thought. He shook a patron’s hand. The patron looked back a little worried, but glad of the friendly handshake all the same. Rushing past The Door, Daz stopped in his tracks, returning to give it a little shove. Glad to find The Door was firmly locked, he had to go tell the others.
He hurried through the middle door, where he saw the man at the end of the bar. He was sat firmly on his stool, watching snooker on the TV. Briefly, the man at the end of the bar turned to look at Daz, who smiled back it him, before the man resumed his TV viewing. Cautiously looking around, he found the horse and the budgie had gone. The pool table was free of Sleepless Knights, instead there was just a young couple playing pool. The lad was obviously hopeless, taking an over-vigorous shot, the white ball flew off the table and bounced across the floor. ‘Oh no! Not again!’ Daz thought. The man at the end of the bar however stayed firmly on his stool. Only taking time to tut and shake his head as the white ball rolled past him.
Daz headed around the bar, but now there was hardly anyone there. Helen and Becky had gone. Daz felt a surprisingly overwhelming sense of sadness; the story was now over. In the corner of the room, sat a man, reading a book, whilst intermittently tossing roasted nuts in his mouth. “Detective?” Daz asked tentatively. The man looked up, it wasn’t Detective Inspector Hudson, but the man was kind enough to reply, “No, it’s a sci-fi novel mate,” he chirped, before missing his mouth again with a volley of roasted nuts.
“Pint, Daz?” Dave asked from behind the bar.
“Wha, oh, erm yeah, ta,” Daz replied. “Where did Becky and Helen go?”
“Who?” replied Dave. “Two pound sixty please.”
Gutted to be paying again, Daz was all the same glad to hear that the bar was now charging. This reaffirmed that the apocalypse was now over, and there’d be no more purple grannies. “Becky and Helen, they were here before I went for a piss.” Daz said, whilst counting out some coins.
“No they weren’t. It’s been quiet. There’s some people having a fag out the back,” Dave said. Daz was happy that the Purple OAPs were no more, but he was starting to feel confused. A pint might be what he needed, thus he took a good long slurp of the delicious beer.

……

“It’s working Dave, give us some more,” Helen said as Becky poured Hags Wobbling down a funnel into Daz’s mouth.
“Wont he choke?” said the Detective.
“Nah, he’s drinking it, he’s just a bit unconscious,” said Dave, handing over another half of bitter.

……

“So where did the horse go then?” Daz asked Dave. He responded facially. This particular gurn said ‘What the fuck is he on about?’
“Erm, what horse is that then Daz?” Dave replied, as normally as possible. His mind was obviously on the Yellow Pages and the number for the mental patient hospital.
“The horse! He was stood over there, with a budgie on his back,” Daz replied, quite sure of himself, receiving a somewhat frosty reception.
“Erm, yes Daz, it’s just in the back, I’ll go get it for you, ok? You just stay there a minute,” Dave said, whilst shuffling towards the back room.
Daz couldn’t understand what the hell was happening. Also he started to feel very peculiar. His crotch felt cold and damp and the front of his chest was itching a bit like he had sand or something in his chest hair. He took another good gulp of his pint to try and settle himself.

……

“Dave, how the fuck did you miss?” shouted Helen.
“It was an accident, I poured too early!” Dave replied.
“Too early? You missed completely, you’ve poured half a pint of beer into his lap!” Helen replied.
“Oh yeah, well what about her then?” Dave said, pointing at Becky.
“What about me?” said Becky, vaguely innocently.
“Well half that bag of pork scratchings you tried to pour in his mouth, went down the front of his shirt, didn’t it?”

……

Dave reappeared a short while later from the room behind the bar. “Do you want another pint, Daz? They’re going to be a while. A patient has escaped.” he said.
“Who’s going to be a while? What patient?” Daz replied, “What’s going on?”
“Here, have some scratchings as well, on the house,” Dave said, chucking a packet over the bar.
“Look Dave, stop pissing about now. Where did the Sleepless Knight go? And the Xmouse with the gin and tonic?” Daz said whilst crunching his pork snacks quite hastily. Maybe a bit too hastily he realised as he started to cough and choke.

……

“Told you he’d choke!” said the Detective, as Daz began to cough and splutter. “I think what this fellow needs is the Heimlich manoeuvre. Stand aside good ladies!” said the Detective.

……

“You alright Daz?” asked Dave.
“Yeah, I’m ok mate, just gone down the wrong hole,” Daz said between splutters. Just then, through the doorway came three figures in white medical smocks.
“Here he is, he’s here!” Dave shouted, whilst pointing at Daz.
“Dave, you bastard, I’m not bloody mental!” Daz said, beginning to panic, whilst still coughing and chocking. The three figures came closer, before quickly grabbing Daz where he sat. Unable to move he struggled a little, whilst still choking.
“Gone down the wrong hole has it young man, oh dear, better help you out hadn’t we?” one of the figures said, in a suspiciously old lady voice.
THWACK! One of the figures suddenly brought a walking stick, sharply against the patient’s back.

……

“Are you sure your doing it right, Detective? I’m sure your not supposed to hit him on the back with a bar stool. Is that really the Heimlich manoeuvre?” Dave said, as everyone else looked on worried. “This is ridiculous, I’ll fix this!” said Dave. He’d had enough, and for some reason was rapidly pouring a pint of lager.
“I don’t think having a pint of lager will fix it Dave. He’s chocking. He needs a more rapid solution,” said Helen.
“Its not for me,” Dave replied.

……

“Aaaargh! You stupid….oh shit!” Daz shouted, as one of the figures smock hoods fell back. It was a Purple OAP!
“Ha har harrrr ‘cough’. Hello young man, we’ve come to take you to the hospital. Ha ha harrr harrrr ‘cough’” said the purple old lady.
“Dave, help me!” Daz shouted, still coughing and spluttering. With a mighty gush, Dave suddenly threw a pint of lager in Daz’s face. Now drenched, Daz looked up, through a frothy fringe of lager frothiness, just as one of the OAPS wacked him on the back again.

……

“That got it, Detective. Well done!” said Becky. The air obstructing pork scratching had dislodged rapidly and was now stuck near the double three on the dart board. “Now hit him again with another lager. That first one worked a treat, and was quite funny actually!”

……

“Dave, what did you throw that lager at me for? Help me, these Purple OAPS are going to….” Daz didn’t have time to finish, as another pint of lager hit him square in the face. Suddenly he was on the floor. “No, no, no, get off!” he shouted, as what he thought was a couple of OAPS, picked him up.
“DAZ! Wake up you wanker!” one of the OAPS shouted.
“Huh, how do you know my name?” Daz asked, “Huh?”
Daz steadily opened his eyes to a bar full of nonsense. There was a horse with a budgie on its back, a mouse drinking gin and tonic and a Knight, fast asleep on the pool table.
“What the heck happened?” Daz asked, double checking around him for Purple OAPS in white smocks.
“You drank shit loads of coffee! Then you went to the toilet, when you came back you looked at the man at the end of the bar, smiled, then you came and sat on your stool, where you promptly passed out because of all the caffeine!” explained Helen.
“So you’re saying this is the Purple Apocalypse. Everything’s not back to normal?” Daz asked tentatively.
“Nope, I’m afraid everything’s not back to normal. The apocalypse is still on,” said Helen.
“Well thank fuck for that! Pint please, Dave!” Daz said with urgency.
“No more C word then Daz?” asked Becky.
“Nope, where’s the Jager crusader? I need to get drunk quick!” said Daz.

To be continued…

Episode 8 – Why the Long Face?

By Helen Rhodes

The bar melted in drips, slowly meandering towards the floor creating a pool of wood and brass. The liquid swirled at the feet of the patrons, lapping at their laces like a playful puppy. When they looked up the softness beneath the patrons’ forearms made sense. Covered in soft white, their senses bathed in the serene quilted hug that was now the bar. The soft padding just the right softness. The warm light just enough warmness. The comforting hue of Dave, melding his features into a fuzzy golden picture of divine peace. All was well. Happy. Secure. Even a bit snuggly. All was so well, happy, secure and a bit snuggly even when one of Daz’s pork scratchings twitched a hair. Daz sniggered to himself like a gurgling toddler just ready for his afternoon nap. But…

Then the pork scratching ran! Yes, ran, across the length of the bar, turned as if to look back at the packet that was once its cage, gave a snort, and hurled itself off the edge of the bar, running for the nearest exit before its little hairs hit the ground. The next one followed. Then the next, and the next. It took Daz precisely three runaway pork scratchings to realise this was not good.
“My scratchings are escaping!” he yelled. “Stop them!”
Tears welled in his eyes as he stumbled from his stool and started to chase the little bar snacks around the room on his hands and knees. He whimpered a bit every time one of them got away, which, inevitably, they all did.

Helen was sporting the most up to date puzzled look amongst puzzled looks currently available on the puzzled looks market. It was a puzzled look with an edge of what-the-hell-is-going-on, which she attempted to pass to Becky. This attempt would have worked had it not been for the fact that Becky was displaying a look of my-world-has-just-fallen-apart horrorfulness. Her gaze was directed towards the TV screen.
“What’s wrong with you?” said Helen.
Becky turned her moist eyes to Helen’s concerned face and said, “I…I can’t believe it.”
Helen left Becky’s wobbly lips to develop into full blown wibbliness to check the TV screen. The tit infested ball pool had gone, and displayed in sharp, white harshness was a Public Broadcast Message from the Department of Health. It read…

— As a matter of public concern to the citizens of the UK and Northern Ireland the Department of Health issues this message. After extensive scientific research by the Home Homeopathy and Needlework Department the Department of Health finds it necessary to cancel all showings of Doctor Who from this day forwards. Do to possible health concerns, particularly to the brain and left pinkie finger, the Department of Health insists that all Whovians report to their nearest Cineworld where a two week course of treatment will be provided entailing a back to back marathon of X Factor and The Only Way is Essex. The Department of Health warns that the use of force, including eye stirrups, will be sanctioned towards those who do not comply.—-

Becky sobbed into her Tardis jumper. Helen’s puzzled look was holding up well, until a figure appeared at The Door. It held an iPad Mini and a charging cable. Helen did something she wouldn’t normally do in public. She lost it. She screamed, which turned into a shriek, which left Helen in a crumpled shivering ball balanced on top of her stool.
“Hello deary,” said Helen’s mum. “I wondered if you could help me with this.”
The iPad Mini was held aloft along with the obviously very confusing charging cable, complimented by a facial expression that stated a comprehensive answer was required, complete with diagrams and notes, repeated twelve times.
Thunder clapped, in an unappreciative way. Lightening sparked, giving the room such a dramatic air that everyone had to scream, “Nooooooooo!!”

Then a horse trotted past.

The swirling horror stopped sharper than a mother’s tongue. No longer did the thunder clap or the lightening spark. The pork scratchings were lying motionless in their packet. The tits were still wrestling in the ball pool on the TV screen (although now Clegg and Cameron were actually working together on a rather miffed Putin who was being smothered in a rainbow of balls). The Purple OAPs were keenly rapping at the windows. The Door was closed, unused. Three bemused and slightly pale faces sat at the very solid bar staring at the horse which was in fact still there. The horse stared at them on equal terms, wafting its brown tail as if to say, “What?”

The Sleepless Knight shuffled his pink fluffy slippers from the pool table to where the horse stood and stroked its perfect white streak on its otherwise silky brown nose. The horse snorted.
“Yeah,” said the Knight softly, “You like that don’t you girl.” He looked towards the bar. “Anyone got any nuts for my friend here?”
“Dry roasted or salted?” said Dave efficiently.

“Er…excuse me,” said Helen, controlling the hysteria pushing at the backs of her eyeballs, “is no one going to address the elephant that looks like a horse in the room?”
The horse wondered if this was a snide comment regarding its nose, but decided to let it go. “I mean,” continued Helen, “that did just happen didn’t it?”
The room consisted of mostly nodding.
“My mum turned up, Doctor Who was cancelled, and Daz’s pork scratchings DID try to escape?”
There was more nodding.
“And, er, now there appears to be a fucking great horse in the middle of the pub, yes?”
Even more nodding occurred. Quite vigorous nodding actually.
“Soooo?” said Helen.
All eyes were on the Sleepless Knight, who replied in the tone of isn’t it obvious.
“This is the Knight Mare, of course. We work very closely together, don’t we girl? Have done for years. In fact, I couldn’t do my job without her.” The Knight ran his palm down the horse’s silky chestnut neck. The horse bared her teeth into a kind of grin position and nodded towards the dry roasted peanuts dangling from Dave’s right hand. The Knight arranged the peanuts on the bar and the Knight Mare tucked in under the befuddled gaze of everyone in the vicinity. A flutter of yellow in purple pants flew down from the Geoffrey’s Gin bottle and perched itself on the horse’s back.
“Aww,” said the Detective, “Frank’s made a new friend.”
“Buuurrrp,” said the budgie, looking rather satisfied with itself.
“That’s another thing!” Helen exclaimed. Harry promptly disappeared having completed his Jaeger duties and realising Helen was possibly on a roll. “Where did that budgie come from? Not an unreasonable question I feel.”
The Detective agreed to field the question. “He always joins me for lunch, don’t you, Frank?” Frank did some nodding, in a bird sort of nodding way. “He’s partial to my nuts, you know.” The Detective produced a crumpled brown paper bag from his pocket and inspected the contents, of which there were none. “But I seem to have depleted my stock. How annoying.”
“That’ll be why he’s so friendly with the horse. Wants her nuts,” said Daz.
“He joins you for lunch? A yellow budgie in purple underwear?” said Helen, determined that the conversation was not going to take a nice little walk down a sun dappled side track.
“Yes,” said the Detective. “ A perfectly reasonable answer to your supposedly reasonable question.”
“And he is wearing purple pants because…?” asked Helen, who could tell by the Detective’s face that he considered this not only an unreasonable question but a bloody stupid one also.
“What? Common decency woman! Where would civilised society be if everyone went round without underwear!”
Daz contemplated his own underwear for a moment. Then decided to stop.

Helen decided, all things considered, her Strangebow made the most sense in the whole room. Daz munched on a pork scratching, a particularly nimble one as he recalled. Becky polished her Tardis necklace. The Detective said, “Are you all right down there?” to the chap at the end of the bar who’d been bereft of stool to fall off for a whole episode. The horse munched while the budgie adjusted himself within his purple underpants. The Sleepless Knight shuffled back to the pool table and gave a big yawn and settled down to sleep.

A squeak came from The Door…

To be continued…

Episode 7 – Budgies and Purple Underwear

By Daz Trei

“Can you take your male end out of my nostril please good fellow?” said the Detective.
“Oh right, yeah, sorry man,” Harry said, tugging at the lead dangling from the Detective’s nose.
‘PLOP’
“Ah, thank you. And on to this peculiar looking liquor I have before me,” said the Detective, unwittingly lifting the glass prematurely before it had arrived at its optimal temperature. Everyone looked on in horror, some reaching out to try and stop him, some cowered behind a face-palm, a pack of cards flew in to the air and the man fell…. Actually, the man didn’t fall off his chair as the Detective was sat in his place, so he was just stood looking at everyone with an err of innocence (but secretly jovial that he didn’t have to fall off the chair). He soon realised however, that he was holding up the whole story, for his falling of the chair was part of the dramatic cluster of silliness that followed shocking events and he knew it. With everyone in the pub staring at him, he surrendered his contented glee and boldly threw himself on the floor.

Immediately the story was un-paused, as the cue pool ball leapt from the table, thwacking The Supervisor on the back of the head. The Supervisor was not amused. Unfortunately, everyone else let out a snorted snigger, except for one man.
“What the fuck!” shouted the blond ‘Jager-crusader’ whilst yanking the glass from the Detective’s hand.
“Now look here good fellow!” shouted the Detective before he stood to his feet, squaring up to Harry. Things were about to get all rowdy, before he was interrupted.
“Right, listen Hudson!” said The Supervisor.
“It’s ‘Detective Inspector Hudson’ actually,” interjected the Detective.
“What the fuck are you doing?” said The Supervisor, turning to look at the Knight Before Christmas. He was dabbing the blood on the back of The Supervisor’s head, where the pool ball had hit him. Everyone could detect a slight withdrawal of patience from The Supervisor, but trying not to laugh the merry patrons pursed their lips and looked on.
“Look, just stop that, I’ll be ok.” said The Supervisor.
“Look, you have to wait till it chills to the correct temperature!” said Harry to the Detective.
“I don’t want to hear your excuses you long haired hooligan, I’ll have you arrested” said the Detective.
“But it’s bleeding boss, might need stitches,” said the Knight, whilst dabbing the gash some more.
There was smoke wafting around The Supervisor again, akin to his original entrance, but this time it wasn’t his dodgy transport. The Supervisor’s face was turning a serious shade of red, intermittent puffs of smoke were leaving his ears and his nose was twitching a bit. “Oh, for fuck sake!” The Supervisor shouted. It was so loud in fact that even the extras in the pub background stopped talking and the Purple OAPS stopped tapping on the windows. Full attention was now on the supervisor.
“Now you have hopped time and landed in the future,” The Supervisor said to the Detective.
Becky leaned into Helen at the bar, “Told ya, its a timeywimey thing!”
“Shhh,” said Helen, slurping at her pint with all attention towards the drama at the end of the bar.
“Oh will you sod off Knight!” The Supervisor shouted. The over-caring Knight was still dabbing at his bosses ball wound.
[Cough cough]
“Aaaaarg!” The Supervisor shouted, as his pent up frustration grew stronger. Helen quietly contemplated the shade of The Supervisor’s face. “Its a crimson colour now, I’m sure of it.”
“Nah, its more a mauve colour…isn’t it?” replied Daz, whilst slurping lazily at his pint, without lifting it. Buttoned lips were soon employed when The Supervisor’s beady eyes summed the bar loiterers’ silence.
“Right, you lot!” he said, pointing at everyone in the bar, “Look the other way a minute, I’m going to fix this!”
Everyone heard him clearly, but nobody moved, they all just remained focused on him. “Did you hear me? Look the other way you tossers!” he demanded, with much the same result as before. Camp for a supervisor, he put his hands on his waist and lifted his eyebrows in a ‘mum’s about to bullock the kids’ sort of posture. “Mel! Music!” he shouted. The jukebox flared into life with some really crap lift music from the BBC test screen. The Supervisor raised his hand and pointed behind everyone, “Look, a massive pair of tits!” he shouted.
“Ha! ha!” Becky shouted sarcastically, “That’s not going to work with us girls, is it? You sexist git!”
“No look Becky, it IS a massive pair of tits!” said Helen, who’d turned to look along with everyone else. On the drop down screen was the prime minister and his deputy leader, in some kind of wrestling match…in a ball pool. It was quite a surreal scene that began to fade, as did the crap lift music. While the image subsided, everyone turned back to see what had happened. The scene was now somewhat different to the heated scene moments earlier. The Detective had gone, the Jager-crusader had disappeared and The Supervisor should probably have gone too, except his segway had broken down and the Knight Before Christmas was giving him a shove towards The Door.
“Push faster you swine!” he said. Noticing the patrons’ attention was on him, The Supervisor gave a stern warning, “And you lot, look the other way or I’ll turn your beer off!” With that painful thought, the patrons all turned away immediately. The thought of being dry again was just too damn scary.
“Look away, fucking hell, look away!” the bar dwellers shouted in unison. Quickly downing the rest of their pints they slammed the empty glasses on the bar, “Another pint please Dave, quickly!” they all said in unison once more.
“Well, that’s that then,” announced Dave, as he carried on with his bar duties.
“Yeah, we’ve seen it all now, nothing else weird could possibly happen,” said an optimistic Daz with a sigh.
“Erm, yeah, you’re right Daz, erm, nothing else could happen,” replied Dave, not exactly confirming anything.
“I can’t believe Columbo’s gone!” said Helen as she sunk into another pint of Strangebow. Daz and Becky looked at one another before questioning Helen with a simple “Huh?”
“Columbo! The Detective. I liked him. he looked a bit like Columbo,” said Helen. Becky and Daz chuckled.
“Yeah I’ll miss the Knight. I liked him. He was a good mopper!” Becky confessed. There was a short pause, before Becky and Helen looked at Daz, waiting for him to reveal his favourite character. His response wasn’t in keeping with the theme, but unsurprising none the less.
“Giz a bag of scratchings would ya please, Dave,” Daz said emotionlessly. Tucking into his bag of porky salty snacks, he noticed the girls were still looking at him. “What’s up with you? Did you want a pork scratching? They’re free you know, I’ll get you a bag!” Daz said.
Ignoring Daz, the girls continued to stare at his shoulder, with a look of bewilderment. “Daz, have you been outside at all?” Helen asked.
“Have I chuff been outside, not with them purple coffin dodgers out there! Anyway, I can’t can I? The last time I tried to get out of here I was stopped by an Olympic swimming pool, a gay person with sexuality issues, an angry mob, and a mouse doing backstroke. I isn’t going out there for a bit I tell ya!” came a comprehensive reply from Daz.
“Oh, well its just that you have bird shit on your shoulder Daz,” Becky said, gesturing towards his shoulder. Looking at his shoulder, just to humour the others really, he was somewhat surprised to see they were right. There was in fact, a small well aimed deposit of bird shit, sat upon his AC/DC t-shirt.
“Dave!” the group chorused, in a deeply suspicious tone. With a huff and a tut, Dave stopped hyper polishing glasses and turned his attention to the bar loiterers who’d summoned him.
“What now?” he said, with a definite strain of ‘fedupnes’. Without a word, everyone including Daz, pointed at the bird crap.
“Well I didn’t do it, nothing to do with me!” Dave said nonchalantly.
“We know you didn’t do it Dave, but its another weird thing,” said Becky.
“Yeah, you said there’d be no more weird things happening!” said Helen.
“That’s not weird. It wont be the first time a bird’s shit on you will it Daz?” said Dave jovially, receiving a round of giggles that was suddenly interrupted.
“It’s that bird there, look,” said the man at the end of the bar, much to the surprise of the bar crowd. “Yeah, Ok!” said Becky, humouring him. Helen reached with a tissue and wiped the bird droppings from Daz’s shoulder.
“Oh, cheers!” said Daz.
“Yeah, it’s ok, I was getting fed up of looking at it,” replied Helen. Just then, there was a flutter of feathers culminating in a bird, sat on Daz’s shoulder.
“See, bird!” shouted the man at the end of the bar, quite pleased with himself, before turning his attention back to the telly.
“There’s a bird on your shoulder Daz,” said Becky.
“Yeah, erm, there’s a bird, Daz,” Helen confirmed, whilst being slightly confused and also perched upon the verge of broken rib strength laughter.
“Oh, it’s a budgie!” Daz said quite chirpily, looking at his new feathery friend.
“Erm, is it just me or has it got underpants on?” enquired Becky.
“Yep!” Helen said, followed by a slight hysterical yelp, a small tear left one of her eyes as she tried to hold back the forthcoming fit of giggles.
“Oh wow, yeah it has. It’s a budgie with purple underpants on!” Daz said with cheerful glee.
“Awwww!” Daz said in a manly but cute voice.
‘Burrrrrp.’
The budgie let out an almighty feather ruffling belch. To which Helen held back no more, with her head in her hands on the bar she laughed and snorted, coming up for air now and again, as the rest of the bar caught the contagious fit of laughter. Becky was rocking back and forth, almost crying with hilarity. The man at the end of the bar thought it was so funny, he stood up on his stool and dived off, landing on the floor in a heap of hysterics.
As the laughter subsided, Daz tickled the budgie’s beard. “Hello little fella, do you want something to nibble? Dave, giz a packet of Mini Chesters would ya mate?” Daz said.
“Aww, little cutie, what’s the deal with this guy then, Dave?” Helen asked.
“How should I know?” came Dave’s response.
“Come off it Dave, you know what’s going on! What with the Purple OAPS, the swimming pool, the horses, and now a budgie with purple pants on,” Daz said, followed by a short giggle from Helen and Becky.
“In all honesty, hand on heart, I don’t have a fucking clue about the budgie,” said Dave most sincerely. With a short collective thought from the bar dwellers, they took a slurp of their pints before a familiar sound was heard. It was the creak of The Door opening, everyone put their pint back down, waiting for the drama to unfold. Would it be another knight, or a strange creature, or a ghostly ghosty thing. The whole pub waited with bated breath, luckily, a familiar voice beckoned.
“And I hope your mother’s bloomers spontaneously combust. Good day to you!” said the voice, followed by a loud SLAM!
Around the bar corner came Detective Inspector Hudson, much to the joy of the crowd. “Ah! Frank!” the Detective shouted, as the budgie with the purple underwear leapt into the air, landing upon the Detective’s shoulder. “I wondered where you’d got to. Thanks for looking after him good fellow!” the Detective said.
“Erm, no problem,” Daz replied. (His lip wasn’t quivering at all.)
[It was!]
“Oh, fucking bird!” Daz shouted, as he noticed another pile of poo on his shoulder.
“So what happened, how come you’re back?” Helen asked the Detective.
Well it turned out that the Detective had gone in The Door with The Supervisor and the Knight Before Christmas. The Detective was supposed to be returned to his timeline, but unfortunately the bloke from Rumbelows had come round to repossess the time machine due to lack of payments. A fight ensued, which resulted in the bloke from Rumbelows being beheaded. Unfortunately when the Knight Before Christmas wielded his sword, he severed not only the unfortunate repo man’s head, but also a very important gasket on the time machine. An argument ensued involving some of the other knights, the Xmouse, The Supervisor and the Detective, which resulted in the Detective telling The Supervisor to forget it, and that he would stay in the pub, where he would hopefully find his feathery companion that he’d lost. He also brought with him a rather troubled Knight.
“So who’s this guy you brought that’s sleeping on the pool table?” asked Becky.
“Oh, that’s the Sleepless Knight. He’s been struggling to get any rest with all the arguing and beheading, so he’s come up here to get some sleep,” said the Detective.
“Do you good folks mind if I loiter around here for a little?” asked the Detective.
“No not at all, come and have a drink mate, pull up a stool,” said Helen cheerfully.
“How very welcoming of you all. How about some of that chilled liquor from the long haired fellow?” the Detective asked, as the whole pub cheered.

To be continued….

Episode 6 – The Knights of the Bar Stool

By Helen Rhodes

Dave picked at his inner ear with an inadequate little finger. The crunching sound was still there. The Knight Before Christmas finished mopping behind the bar and pondered his next setting for mop based action. Dave checked that Daz had definitely finished his sixth packet of pork scratchings since dawn. He had. But the crunching was still there. Dave peered over the crowded bar.
“Who’s that?”
“Who?” chorused the three bar based stalwarts. The bloke on the stool at the end ignored everyone, quite rightly.
“That guy sat over there in the bowler hat,” said Dave.
“Bowler hat?” Becky gave Dave a questioning look.
“Yeah. And the moustache, with the steel rimmed glasses, wearing the wool tweed… Hang on! What IS he wearing?”
Slowly, so as not to be too obvious, whilst failing miserably, Becky, Daz, and Helen twisted their heads over their respective shoulders.
“Looks like something from some ITV time of the month drivel drama,” said Helen, all too knowledgably.

The man sat cross legged in a three piece tan coloured suit with red windowpane checks. His neck tie was bow like, his white collar starched. He did indeed wear a bowler hat. Brown, with a black ribbon. He sat there, in the corner, his eyes shifting suspiciously around the various living adornments of the public house, twiddling his dusky bush of a moustache with one hand, and reaching into a brown paper bag full of freshly roasted peanuts. He picked up a couple in his fingers and fed them to his lips, somewhere under the bristles. His moustache wibbled from side to side.
Crrunnnch, crruuunnch, crunnnch, crunch, crunch, crunch…

The three heads at the bar turned slowly, obviously, back towards Dave.
“Dunno,” said Daz. “Can’t say I noticed him before.”
“Me neither,” said Helen.
“Strange,” said Becky. “A person can’t just appear out of nowhere. Can they?”
Whilst the mystified look passed amongst the four of them they all became aware of a presence. A kind of lurking presence. The kind of presence that says you’ve just been caught smoking behind the sports hall, but you can delay the inevitable if you just have another couple of drags before you attempt to leg it anyway.
“Excuse me,” said the well-spoken voice, “I’m here about the murder.”

The need to be quiet was apparent to everyone, and so everyone was. Eyes wandered, mid-sip. The Knight Before Christmas paused, mid-mop. A spider crawled behind the Captain’s Organs. The Strangebow told its bubbles to stop bubbling. The pork scratchings stopped scratching. Dave grabbed a bar towel, started to vigorously rub a very clean bit of bar, and said, “A murder? Huh, har, har…erm, what do you mean, a murder?“ Dave grinned a grin that said to all the other inhabitants in close proximity to also do the grinning that he was doing. “We’ve had no murder in here, have we? HAVE WE?”
“Oh, no, no, no murder here, no, of course not, no. Definitely not, no, not any murdering here. At all. None whatsoever,” said everyone’s mouths, at once.
“And where were YOU on Tuesday evening last, Miss?” The man rippled his bushy moustache in front of Helen’s frozen face.
“Er… Here?” Helen offered.
“Innnnnteresting,” said the man, giving a shrewd nod and turning to Daz. “And you, young man, your whereabouts, please?”
“Er…,” said Daz, “You know, in here. Just…sort of…drinking.” Daz examined a very interesting bit of fluff on the knee of his jeans.
“Hmm. I see.” The well-spoken stranger reached inside his woollen jacket and produced a cherry wood smoking pipe and a pouch of unmarked tobacco. He started to fill his pipe whilst eyeing all that he felt should be suspected. Which was everyone.
“Hang on,” said Dave, “You can’t smoke that in here. It’s illegal.”
“Illegal?” said the man. “Don’t be ridiculous. This is a drinking establishment isn’t it?”
“Er…” said Dave.
“A licensed public house?” continued the man.
“Yes,” confirmed Dave.
“Licensed to serve intoxicating liquor?”
“Yes,” said Dave, confidently.
“Well then. If a man can’t enjoy a smoke in his local pub then where can he?” The man puffed his chest out as far as his waistcoat would let him do so.
“Er…” said Dave, a bit confused by proceedings, and having just had a swig of Cherry C+ himself, “Well, it’s illegal isn’t it? The Government, you know, made it illegal to smoke in any public place.”
“What? When was this?” said the man. “I never received that communique. The telegraph must be broken again. What a ridiculous law, if I may be so bold.”
“The telegraph?” said Daz.
“Yes. You know, that thing we use to communicate in the 19th Century,” the man said patronisingly.
“19th Century? Eh?” said Helen.
“What IS the matter with you all? Are you foreign?” sneered the man. “Your ridiculous clothing suggests so at least.”
Dave stared at Helen. Helen stared at Becky. Becky stared at Daz. Daz looked at his AC/DC t-shirt. Point made, they all thought.

“Excuse me,” The Knight Before Christmas said, cheerfully. Everyone moved their feet as he mopped the foot rail along the bar. “Thanks,” he said, even more cheerfully, plodding off to check the state of the pool table pockets.

Accepting that he was dealing with the more stupid of modern day civilised society, the strange man grasped at his lapels and enquired, “So where does one now partake of the shag?”
“PARDON?” said a worried looking Dave.
“Is there no provision for those of us who enjoy the taste of tobacco and the like?” said the man, waving his pipe suggestively.
“Oh, right,” said a relieved Dave. “Yeah, you have to go outside. Out the back. Well, under normal circumstances.”
“Right,” said the puzzled man, and set off towards the back door.
“NOOOO!” shouted Becky. “You can’t go out there. They’ll get you! And you’ll let them in!”
“Sorry,” said the man, mid-stride, “Who will get me, exactly?”
“The Purple OAPs,” said Becky, feeling like she was stating the obvious.
The man straightened himself, looked to the ceiling for inspiration, didn’t find any, and replied with some irritation, “Who?”
“The Purple OAPs,” said Becky, again.
“How can he have missed them?” Helen whispered to Daz.
The man repeated Becky’s words, as though doing so would make sense of them. “Purple OAPs.”
“Yes. The Purple OAPs. The old age pensioners. Outside. Who are mostly purple. Look quite hungry.” But no matter how slowly Becky said it, the man still showed no sign of recognition regarding the OAP situation, purple or otherwise.
“I do believe you are intoxicated, Miss,” said the man, clearly the only sane organism in the room, he thought.
“You can’t miss them, the ones out… Ah, hang on a minute,” said Becky. A wry smile claimed her features. She nodded to herself. She knew she was right. “I get it,” she said.
Helen, Daz, and Dave looked at each other, clearly silently agreeing that they did not, in fact, get it like Becky did.
Becky giggled, wafting a finger at no one in particular. “There’s some timey-wimey paradox thingy going on isn’t there? That’s why all that surreal stuff with the horse and carts and cobbled streets happened isn’t it?”
Daz and Helen stared at Becky with saggy, bemused eyes.
“You won’t know about the purple OAPs,” said Becky to the very perplexed man, “Because you’re from the 1800s.” It was a damn good job she was here, Becky thought.
Understanding with a hint of disbelief and can’t we just have another pint now, maybe some more pork scratchings, clambered over Daz’s face. “Ahhh,” he said.
“She’s banging on about Doctor Who again isn’t she?” sighed Helen into her Strangebow.
“Look,” said the man, determined to sort out these incomprehensible babbling idiots, ”The date is 1889. I checked it on my paper this morning. I am most definitely Detective Inspector Hudson, and I have unequivocally just walked from the station house on Cliff Parade under orders to investigate the murder of a…a… Hang on.” The man produced a small black ruled notebook from his breast pocket which he flipped open to the appropriate page before reading very deliberately, “Ah, yes. ‘A lovely, sweet, little old lady’ in this very building on Tuesday evening. I demand that…”

“He must have fallen through the time lines,” explained Becky, to anyone that was listening, but mostly to herself. “Caught up in a curve and flung into our century.”
“Ahh,” said Helen, convincingly.
Mel flipped one of the jukebox panels over, which echoed nervously in the sanitised air. The rest of the drinkers scattered around the room remained unconvinced, or totally confused in the haze of inebriation. Probably both. Either way, they retained their right to silence in the face of a storyline happening around them.
“What? So you’re saying,” said the detective, allowing the dawn of realisation to rise within him, “You’re saying that this…this isn’t…” He laughed at the ridiculousness of the words about to leave his moustache. “This isn’t 1889?”
“2014. Well, nearly. I think,” ventured Daz.
The detective grasped his moustache between his thumb and index finger, an obvious comfort to him. “Now you mention it,” he said, “It did get dark for a time on my way down here. And a bit windy. But I was too busy protecting my nuts to notice anything else.” His eyes directed themselves to the brown paper bag stuffed into his coat pocket. Remembering the crunching that started this whole stupid…whatever it is, everyone regarded them with relief.
“I… I can’t believe it. I just…,” The detective slumped onto the stool at the end of the bar, regardless of the bloke who WAS sitting on it. “But how… I don’t… I just…” He cradled his brow in his sweating palm, his bottom lip (and maybe his upper lip, if we could actually see it) starting to lose its stiffness.
“Oh god,” said Becky, “He’s losing it.”
“But how did he get here?” said Helen.
It was a good question. A very good question. In fact, in the history of questions generally, it was probably the most profound question relating to this particular moment in this particular setting in this particular sentence.
“It all started when you shouted through The Door, Dave,” said Becky.
Dave tried to give his best innocent face a go, but it didn’t work. “That bloody Door!” he groaned. “Bloody hell. I suppose you want ME to do something about it then.”
“Well…,” started Becky.
“It’s always me isn’t it? Dave, do this, Dave, do that, Dave, can you…, Dave will you…, Dave, The Door wants you. I mean it’s never anyone else is it? Always me. Always bloody Dave. Why do I have to do everything all the time? There’s only one of me, you know.”
“No there isn’t,” said a voice from somewhere behind the bar. The voice was profoundly ignored.
“But we have to reverse it somehow,” said Becky. “Something you did made time jump, skip, skid, wobble…or something, and he ended up in exactly the same location, just a few decades out. The circumstances need to be recreated exactly, so only you have any chance of returning him to his time.”
Dave sighed.
“Hey,” said Becky, “I know it feels like you’ve been at work forever because of this stupid apocalypse thing, but really you’re just one of us. In’t that right, guys? Becky nudged Helen. Helen’s elbow nudged Helen just before it fell off the bar.
“Yes! Absolutely. One of us. The best one of us, I’d say.” Despite the air of sarcasm, Helen found she did actually mean it.
“You just happen to be nearest the beer is all. You’re the bestest barman we all know. We wouldn’t get by without you. Eh, Daz. Daz. Daz. Daz. DAZ!”
“Yes! Fuck, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes!” said Daz, maybe a bit too enthusiastically towards the keeper of the pork scratchings, but nonetheless truthful.
Dave nodded. “I know,” he said. He draped the bar towel over the Hags Wobbling pump and said, “Right, what do you want me to do?”
“I think you just need to shout at The Door. You know, like you did last time.”
“Okay,” said Dave. “I’ll try. Don’t hold out much hope though. Temperamental bugger, that Door.”
Dave left the bar and, chest puffed, marched over to The Door. With his shoulders broad, head held stubbornly high, he pushed at The Door’s door handle. “Now, look here!” he shouted…

The scream echoed all the way back to 1889. Dave ran, found a good cowering position by the glass washer, and did what the position dictated.
“Dave!” said Daz, jumping from his stool, “What’s wrong”?
Daz readied himself for the worst as he walked round the corner to confront…

Daz’s scream was of course very manly, with only a hint of girl.

The very tall, very dark, looming figure glided from The Door into the room, smooth, as if on ice, smoke billowing about him. His long hooded cloak, the colour of dark, hung his full, imposing length, flickering with intent of the cruellest, most inconceivable horror ever to darken anything that wasn’t already dark. The neck of the long cloak opened revealing palpable blackness of the blackest black, promising terror upon terror of hideous, grinding oppression in the most desperate of desperate times.
Everyone looked puzzled.
The Knight Before Christmas looked terrified.
“Ah, there you are,” the cloak said, just before it fell to the ground in a heap of crumpled depression.
The mop bounced pathetically as it fell to the floor. The Knight Before Christmas cowered further, much to the incomprehension of his fellow pub dwellers, as before him stood his worst nightmare.
His Supervisor.

The Supervisor shrugged off his cloak, which fell to the ground, revealing a Segway, this being The Supervisor’s preferred mode of transport. The billowing smoke which had accompanied his entrance was still doing so via the side of the machine. The Supervisor coughed. “Been meaning to get that fixed. Now then,” he said, turning his attention to the Knight Before Christmas, “We have been a naughty boy haven’t we?”
The Knight Before Christmas clenched his hands and looked down at his feet.
The Supervisor reached for his clipboard from a little basket affixed to the front of his Segway handles. He was a pasty magnolia colour, with dark rimmed glasses, thin lips, and uniform rows of teeth obviously too scared to even think about being otherwise. His shirt was white with a very pale grey check pattern, and his shades-of-brown tie was desperately trying to keep his repressed neck in check should it have any ideas about freeing itself into the breathable air. He flipped through the uniform pages on his black clipboard, took the pencil from its handy holder, and smoothed a rogue mousy grey hair into submission on his well-oiled head. His neck grasped at the most available oxygen it could grab and his voice squawked into action via his nose, “You have violated Rule 12 of Section 32 of the Knights of the Bar Stool code of conduct. Subsection 16 specifically, paragraph 13, subparagraph 2 point 1, B, and I quote,” he said, “’Knights of the Bar Stool shall not remain in situ beyond the appropriate timescale according to their purpose,’ end quote.”
The Supervisor bore a line of sight in the direction of the Knight Before Christmas. “Anything to say for yourself?”
The Knight Before Christmas decided the only thing he had to say for himself was nothing, which he did very eloquently.
“The Knights of the Bar Stool look very dimly upon these blatant violations of subsection 16. If we all went round doing what we like nothing would ever get done would it? When would people know the appropriate time to panic? When would the clouds know when to be wet? When would the milk know when to run out? Chaos! That’s what would happen. Do you want that? Hmm?”
The Knight Before Christmas continued to stare at his feet. He took a sheepish glance upwards, and shook his head, then returned to studying the floor.
“We can’t have the Knight Before Christmas out and about AFTER the night before Christmas can we?”

The Knight Before XMouse strolled casually into the bar with a red mouse sized towel draped over his left shoulder. He saw the situation. He understood the situation. He assessed the options appertaining to the situation. He retraced his steps, and disappeared, like magic, or something very similar.

“But I like it here,” were the words that decided to exit The Knight Before Christmas’ mouth.
“Like?! Like!” said The Supervisor in disbelief. He strained his features towards calmness. “Rule 5 of Section 21 of the Knights of the Bar Stool code of conduct, subsection 12, paragraph 9, quote, ‘Knights of the Bar Stool shall not ‘like’ things in a personal manner,’ end quote. You are here to do a job, son. Not enjoy yourself.”
“I did some mopping,” said the Knight Before Christmas, pointing to the inanimate wet sludgy thing by his feet.
As far as The Supervisor was concerned it was very obvious to every onlooker who was doing at least some form of looking on that this was probably not the best thing the Knight Before Christmas could have said. “Mopping?!” Exclaimed The Supervisor, now with extra forehead vein. “Are you mad?” What are you going to do when your chainmail rusts, hmm?”
“I’ve got some WD40 in the back somewhere,” said Dave helpfully. Well, he thought it was helpful anyway. So did everyone else really. And, in truth, it was helpful, if you weren’t The Supervisor. After he’d cracked his neck several times so he could regard the ‘helpful’ person from which all this ‘helpfulness’ was emanating, he said, “If you don’t mind, this is official Knights of the Bar Stool business, which is, in fact, private and confidential, and to which your utmost discretion must be paid. Is that clear?” His right upper eyelid twitched.
Helen slurped her cider with relieved eyes, remembering the utterly incomprehensible time when there wasn’t any. “Oh, have a drink for fuck’s sake,” she said.
The Supervisor approached the space from where this flippant comment had emerged and focused past his long pointy nose at the human form before him. He pondered it for a moment, glancing at the array of beverages along the bar. “Oh, I’ll have a tomato juice I suppose. Just to loosen the acrid smoke from my throat, you understand.”

Detective Inspector Hudson was still contemplating his own situation, sat on this bar stool, in this pub, in his home town, 125 years later than he should be.
The Supervisor looked over the detective. “I hope you’ve fire proofed that suit. Very flammable, lambs’ wool, you know. And all this paper on the walls, gah!” His eyes rolled about the room, taking in the pre-post-post-neo-classical decoration, “Such a fire hazard. A number 9 on the scale I presume?” he said, eyes fixed on the Knight Before Christmas, who looked innocent of the obvious crime he had obviously neglected.
The Supervisor’s eyes rolled like bingo balls on acid. “Don’t tell me you haven’t done a risk assessment of the place,” he said, flabbergasted that such incompetence was even a possibility.
“Well, I…” started the Knight Before Christmas.
The Supervisor let out a long, tired sigh. His neck folded over his collar, as if dead from within. A tomato juice sloshed onto the bar, delivered by a rather baffled Dave who wasn’t even aware that such a thing had residence in the fridges of his place of work. “Oh, come on, we’ll do it together,” said The Supervisor. He picked up his tomato juice and rummaged around in his Segway basket until he produced approximately two inches of paperwork. The Knight Before Christmas reluctantly joined him at the pool table.

“But how am… Who… What is this time… How am I going to get home?” Babbled the detective, now with both hands cupping his aching skull.
“I think a shot of JegerMister would be appropriate right now, don’t you?” said Becky. The rest of the bar nodded. Dave reached for the bottle just as a flash of blond appeared at the corner of the bar. There stood Harry, with a coil of wire wrapped round his shoulder, holding the male end in his hand just at the correct height to plug into the nostril of the detective. They stared at each other for a while, just to let comprehension catch up.
“Jeger time?” said Harry.
Helen nodded. “Specifically because of him. He’s had a bit of a shock.”
“Oh, okay,” nodded Harry. The shots appeared in front of every patron in the room, including the detective and Harry, and the instruction began.

To be continued…