[WARNING: You have been warned.]
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.
“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.
“Babysham. And a packet of oxtail crisps.”
“…and there’s all those spirits up there. Oooh, such choice.”
“Rick!” Mike demanded. “Stop pissing about. What do you want?”
“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.”
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 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.”
“And it’s all free.”
“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.”
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.”
“You just called me a bastard, didn’t you?”
“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.
“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!
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.”
“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.”
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.]