Tuesday, 19 June 2012

(Douglas Adams) - Chapter Three

There was a whir, a bright light, then we were in a vast room with several people standing at consoles, and in the centre of the room was a huge pulsating sphere.
            Anathema smiled at DNA.
           ‘Any ideas?’ she asked.
           ‘Shit!’ he said ‘You’ve got a Belgium Nuclear-Ion Generator!’
           ‘What’s that?’ I asked ‘If nobody minds if I ask a question?’
           ‘It’s a Heavy-Charged Particle Reactor that can generate enough power to propel a planet this size to ..’
           ‘Ninety-nine percent of light speed’ Betelgeuse grinned.
           ‘But that’s not enough to get you to Earth and destroy it’ said DNA ‘It would take ...’
            Anathema laughed.
           ‘Very good. True, if that is, we intended to use it as a propulsion system at all’ she laughed again ‘Bob, meet my Little If, or LIF ...’
           ‘This little baby doesn’t have to take us anywhere’ Betelgeuse said ‘It can do to planets, and suns, what it did to you’ he shrugged ‘With a few minor adjustments. And is why you’re here’
            ‘I won’t do it!’ said DNA ‘An Improbability Drive is one thing, but the Improbability Factor is far too unstable for anything else. It’d be like looking for a box of dynamite in the dark with a lighted candle. I won’t do it!’
            ‘You can, and you will’ said Anathema ‘It got you here, six hundred light years, in a fraction of a second, right? All I need from you is a little tweaking to get it to do the same to an entire planet. I’m going to throw your fucking planet right into your miserable little sun, and you are going to help me do it, for the fucking mess you created, okay?’
              I coughed, apologetically, if a cough can ever be construed as an apology.
             ‘Yes’ I said.
              DNA looked at me, the others stared at me.
              ‘I can do it’ I said ‘It’s me, or, rather I, who is the scientist, not him. I am Hermann Gaswind-Phaart’ I looked at Anathema ‘German. A Physics Professor of the Third Reich, kidnapped by USA military intelligence after World War Two, and forced to work on Project Orion in the 1950’s’
              ‘Wow!’ said Anathema ‘You got your memory back, whoopee!’
              ‘The idea then was a nuclear pulse rocket, a vehicle propelled by a series of controlled nuclear explosions’ I said ‘Some of the multiple blasts being absorbed by the spaceship, so adding an increment to its velocity. A test model was built, using deuterium and helium-3 pellets, detonated at a rate of 1,500 a second to give a smoother acceleration to a top speed of 80 per cent of light speed’
               ‘He’s right’ Betelgeuse announced ‘Except it exploded in the Nevada Desert on take-off, killing all the observing scientists and officials. It was believed that Professor Hermann Gaswind-Phaart sabotaged the project, killing himself and everybody else, to avenge the death of his beloved Fuehrer’ he came to attention, and snapped his arm up.
              ‘Heil Hitler!’
               I automatically did the same.
              ‘Gotcha!’  Betelgeuse grinned, and then nodded at Anathema ‘It’s him all right’
               Anathema took my face in her filthy hands, and kissed me, long and hard, again.
               This time I didn’t protest.
              ‘That’s my man! I could just eat you!’ Anathema said ‘Now get to it!’
               ‘No!’ said DNA ‘Don’t do it!’
                I looked at him.
               ‘I know what I’m doing’ I said.
                Anathema laughed, so did Betelgeuse.
                I went to the Nuclear-Ion Generator, pressed a few panel-control buttons, studied the effect, and then I opened up a small section of the Generator.
               ‘Ahhhh …’ I said, then I started to pull out wires, exchange them with others, and talked, as I worked ‘A scientist, an artist, and an electrician, were about to be executed for murder. The scientist was the first to sit in the electric chair, but when the switch was thrown, nothing happened, and because the law stated if it didn’t work the first time the man could go free, he was released, and he told the guard he didn’t think much of the scientific principle on which the electric chair was built. The next in the chair was the artist. He said he thought it was aesthetically ugly, and when the switch was thrown, it didn’t work for him either, so he was freed. The electrician sat in the chair, looked at it, and said, if you swap the green wire for the red wire, the damn thing will work …’

(Douglas Adams) - Chapter Two

We walked along the purple beach together.
            ‘You’re tall’ I said.
            ‘Yes, six feet five inches’ said DNA “And, yes, it was a huge problem at school, or, rather I was a huge problem at school, and, yes, I had to very quickly develop a defensive, and protective, sense of humour, which eventually helped me write The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To the Galaxy, and the others, while I was still NYD, or Not Yet Dead, and, yes, I probably did have constricted arteries, and an erratic heartbeat, which lead to my untimely death, as they say, though I imagine most deaths are untimely, whatever that means, and writing the Handbook For The Dead - Don't Panic! and discovered, much to my very happy surprise, and suspicion, I could still write when I was supposed to be dead, and, of course,  the conversation with the dolphin, and the Really Big If, which is the reason we’re both here now’
            ‘Okay. All I said is you’re tall’ I said ‘Sorry if I offended you’
             DNA grinned.
            ‘That’s all right. I usually only react like that when I’m blind drunk, or under tremendous stress. Anyway, you don’t need to tell tall, or fat, people they’re tall, or fat. They already know’ he paused, then ‘And don’t start on the nose …’
             ‘It’s a fine nose’ I told him ‘But, when you swim in the sea on your back parallel to the beach, does everyone paddle frantically for the beach?’ I chuckled, then quickly changed the subject ‘What’s that over there?’ I asked, also because I'd genuinely seen something in the distance.
              It looked, from a distance, like two people doing something very suspicious on the beach, without so much as a neatly folded towel to cover them up, and one of them, the girl, looked remarkably small, even from here. As we got closer, and the gasping sounds got louder and clearer, DNA suddenly grabbed me and put a hand over my eyes.
            ‘Um, you don’t want to see this’ he said.
             I pushed him away.
            ‘Come on. I’ve seen people having sex on the beach before’
             DNA looked at me.
            ‘Really?’ he asked ‘Where? No, never mind. Anyway, I didn’t mean that. Not what they’re doing, but who it is doing it’
             We were getting closer, and then the girl looked over and saw us, pushed her partner away, and sat up, with a grin on her dirty face, her long matted hair covering most of her immodesty.
             ‘Bob! How very nice of you to drop in’ the girl said, then nodded at her partner, who was just lying, not even trying to cover himself up, and looking at us with sardonic humour ‘I want you to meet my next ex-lover, Betelgeuse’
            ‘Anathema’ DNA shook his head ‘This is an unexpected pleasure’
            ‘I bet!’ she told him, them smiled sweetly at me ‘And who’s this?’
            ‘Um, he’s not quite sure’ said DNA ‘So, for now, we’re calling him Reader because he was reading my Handbook For The Dead - Don't Panic! when the Really Big If hit’
            ‘Oh, okay’ said the girl called Anathema, and apparently a little disappointed, and she took my face between her two filthy hands and kissed me hard and long.
            ‘Yuk!’ I said ‘Get off!’ then I broke away, and spat in disgust ‘If you don’t mind!’
            ‘Oh, come on! Don’t be so damned Earthly!’ said Anathema ‘Wait till you meet my friend, Euca Lyptus. Her breath can kill at a hundred paces! And her husband, Mentho Lyptus is even worse!’
             ‘Sorry if I offended you’ I said ‘I seem to be doing that a lot today’
              Betelgeuse grinned at DNA.
             ‘So you were the famous author, Douglas Noel Adams?’ he didn’t extend his hand “I guess you know all about me?’
              DNA nodded.
             ‘Um, you’d be disappointed if I didn’t, right?’
             ‘You’re dead right’ Betelgeuse said ‘And talking about dead. Are we, or not?’
              ‘I don’t believe so’ said DNA ‘I have a heartbeat, a pulse, and respiration. I’m breathing. The same, but different’ he looked up at the sky ‘I’m guessing we’re about 600 light years from Earth, right?’
               Anathema laughed.
              ‘That’s my little scientist! And is the reason I brought you here. We need you to give our Little Improbability Factor prototype, or LIF, a little tweak or two! We’re on Betelgeuse Twelve, about five times the size of Earth and completely abandoned’ she smiled at me ‘To humans it was known as Shambhala, before the Ancients abandoned it, and they left behind a lot of weird stuff’
              ‘Hey!’ DNA stopped her ‘A Little Improbability Factor prototype. A Little If?’
              ‘Sure’ she grinned ‘How do you think I brought you here? It was nothing to do with the stupid dolphin’ she nodded, a little disdainfully, at me ‘Though I didn’t expect a hitchhiker’ she grinned at DNA ‘But you know all about that. I needed a scientist to iron out the bugs, and you’re just perfect because I want to punish you for creating all this in the first place. And what better way than getting you to help me destroy the earth?’
                ‘And that’s only for the test run’ Betelgeuse said, with more than a touch of pride ‘After that we’re going to change everything’ he looked up at the two suns ‘And talking about bugs, it’s almost lunch time’ he started heading to the beach ‘Besides you don’t want to be caught above ground in the afternoon, under two suns, right?’
                 We followed him, came to a cliff face, and then went into a cave.
                ‘This is one of the entrances to Argattha, the underground world of Shambhala’ Anathema told us ‘There’s hundreds of thousand miles of underground tunnels, libraries stacked with manuscripts, but we’ve managed to adapt things a little’ she laughed ‘You’ll like it, not a lot ...’ she touched a place on the cave wall.
                  The cave began to fill with an eerie light.
                 ‘We don’t know how some of the technology works, but its been here for at least thirty thousand years’ said Anathema ‘Stand close together …’

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

(Douglas Adams) - Chapter One

There was a strange whirring sound, then a sudden blinding flash, and a roar that seemed to go on and on.
         ‘What just happened?’ I asked.
         ‘Um, three highly improbable events’ said the very tall man with a very big nose standing beside me ‘And it’s highly improbable that three highly improbable events would happen simultaneously, or all at once, anyway.
         ‘We’ve just experienced the Really Big If, or the Really Big Improbability Factor, triggered by what the dolphin was about to say, which is highly improbable in itself, and we’ve probably been sucked into it’s core, or a White Hole, and we’re on a planet with two suns, with a very visible red star between them, on a beach with purple sand, a red sea, and a green sky’
         ‘Oh’ I said ‘What, exactly, is a White Hole?’
         The very tall man, with a very big nose, looked at me oddly, and, I thought, accusingly, and then said ‘I thought you might at least ask why the sand is purple. A White Hole is the opposite of a Black Hole, which transcends space-time, and from which stream large quantities of energy and matter in their most chaotic forms.
         ’White Holes are cosmic gushers which power the galaxies and provide material for the construction of stars’ he nodded somewhere in the direction of the green sky.
         ‘That very prominent red star in the middle of the two suns looks suspiciously like Betelgeuse, and we’re a lot closer to it than we were on Earth, and, as it’s likely to go supernova at any time, we could be in very serious trouble’
           ‘And the Really Big If, or the Really Big Improbability Factor, is?’
          ‘The Really Big If, or the Really Big Improbability Factor, is a naturally occurring phenomenon. It can be harnessed to make a Really Big Improbability Drive to power really big spacecraft but, apart from that, it’s generally too unstable to use in any other way, and can occur anytime, triggered either by something really big or something insignificantly small.
           ‘Its two basic elements are the Really Bg Implausibility Effect and the Really Big Random Oscillation, and the reason it’s called the Really Big If, if you haven’t already guessed, and apart from being the first letters of the Really Big Improbability Factor, is the more colloquial, What If, whatever If might be, this were to happen, What Then?’
           ‘What Then?’
           ‘Usually, when you experience the Really Big Improbability Factor, it only lasts for a fraction of a second, then everything goes back to normal, as in a freak accident, or stroke of luck, good or bad, or a sudden shower of fish, but if you’re unlucky enough to be sucked up into it, like a cyclone, you’re trapped inside the core, or a White Hole, along with hundreds of thousands of stars and planets, and it has a reality all of its own.
            ‘Everything inside the Really Big Improbability Factor is diametrical, opposite to what you would normally expect, and chance and random events are normal’
            ‘Can we go home now?’
            ‘We might one day escape, in a totally unexpected, and highly improbable, way, or we might not, but it’s highly improbable either way’
            ‘We’re supposed to be dead. Are we still dead?’
            ‘Um, highly improbable, as we seem to be talking, and breathing, and experiencing high levels of anxiety, but possible. Experiencing the Really Big If tells you something about being a RD, or Recently Dead.
            ‘The only difference between a Not Yet Dead, or NYD, and Recently Dead, or RD, is their vibratory frequency. The RD, or Recently Dead, has a higher vibratory frequency, which the NYD, or the Not Yet dead, call death, which, maybe, explains why we got sucked in, and the dolphin didn’t.
            ‘It’s lower vibratory frequency probably saved it, or maybe the Really Big Random Oscillation caught it, or it just got lucky, or it got hit by a sudden shower of fish’
             ‘Damn, we’re in a tight spot now’ I said.
             ‘Um, I think it might be best to find the nearest town or city, if there is one, and try and find out where we are exactly. Oh, I’m Bop Ad, by the way. Pleased to meet you!’
             ‘Douglas Noel Adams, DNA?’ I asked. ‘The Not So Recently Dead, Douglas Noel Adams?’
             ‘Right! And you are?’
             ‘I don’t know. I mean, I’m not sure’
            ‘It’s all right. Temporary, or partial, amnesia can be a side effect of the Really Big If, or a good excuse if you don’t know what to say. Let’s just call you Reader for now, as you were reading my Handbook For The Dead - Don't Panic! when the Really Big If hit. You can call me DNA, if you like, all right?”
             ‘Okay, sure’.