Sunday, 30 December 2012

Blue City Gloaming

Birthday girl

Exactly 24 years after the long evening in Edinburgh waiting for her to come out for the first time, there I was in the car killing time waiting for her to come out again.

She looks a bit moody here, having finally made it to the passenger seat, but actually she was fine. I think she just wanted the moody look for the record. I don't understand how she can be 24 already when it seems about five years since she was a toddler riding through town up on my shoulders, but time is a strange thing when pondered from inside a mind.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

My Lady Dulcinea with her friends

She doesn't look very amused does she? I was laughing though. I don't know why.

Old chimneys

Report on Sample 717 (Part 18)

Following on from Part 17:

'She wants to see you both immediately,' said Macrig, as the travellers emerged from their pod, 'and she does not sound pleased. I sent the two guys to her a while ago but it doesn't sound like things have gone well. Good luck.'

So, still feeling rather queasy, Adrig and Edrig marched off immediately to face her.

And she was indeed, not happy.

'Those pathetic specimens that you sent me cannot perform. They are incapable.'

'What do you mean my Lady Lord?' asked Adrig, nervously. 'They have all the necessary parts.'

'They may have the parts, I can see they have the parts, but they are stubbornly dangling and uninterested parts. The men look fine, overall, actually, but their important parts are not functioning. Both specimens just stood before my naked glory, and nothing. Nothing at all. They are incapable. It's not their fault, the poor dears, but there must be something wrong with them, don't you think?'

'Well, I certainly can't think of any other explanation for their parts not, eh, rising to the wonderful opportunity my Lady Lord. This is troubling. Perhaps just bad luck. They are diseased, perhaps? We should get you some other ones. Younger ones maybe?'

The Lady Lord looked at them and thought for a while.

'I am disappointed, and I am suspicious.'

'Suspicious, Lady Lord?'

'Yes, suspicious...And what do you have to say, young Edrig? Young sexy Edrig little lad. Oh... so nearly ready for me too, yum yum and nibble nibble! What's your view on this comprehensively failed mission?'

'Younger ones my Lady Lord,' Edrig said, trembling with fear and looking at her teeth as she grinned at him, but threateningly, he thought. 'We need to bring you younger ones. These ones are quite old.'

'But they must be young if they are footballers, surely?'

'Ah... but..., eh...nearly at the end of their careers actually... We, eh... we went for experience rather than youth, as we thought you would appreciate experience. We thought that best. But that may have been an error. Our error. So... younger ones. Yes, we need to get you slim, powerful, handsome younger ones.'

'My goodness Edrig,' said the Lady Lord. 'I have never heard you say so much to me in one go. Right then. Back down there immediately Edrig, but just you.'

'What?' asked Adrig, exceedingly alarmed at this development.

'Yes, just him and two stunners. He is a big boy now and I don't see why he can't do such a simple task on his own, with two stunners. And anyway, I have other plans for you Adrig my lovely. Go and sup your testosterjuice and get back to me later today.'

'But he couldn't possibly manage to get them in through the hatch. Not all alone. No chance. Could you Edrig?'

Edrig seemed deep in thought.

'Well Edrig?' demanded the Lady Lord. Do you really need assistance? If you do I can grant it, but it won't be sexy Adrig. Do you want someone else to help you?'

'Well... actually Lady Lord, in the circumstances... I think I will manage on my own. I don't want to cause any extra trouble to you and... Yes, I'm sure I can manage on my own. Perhaps with a bit more cash though, in case... eh... bribes. They can ask for a lot of bribes down there you know.'

Adrig looked astonished. The Lady Lord looked pleased.

'Very well then! Good boy! Their money is just paper rubbish to me. Take as much as you wish, and go. Oh, and take the two useless specimens back with you. But you, Adrig, shall not leave my offices. You shall be a good lad also, and shall drink your fill of testosterjuice, and then we shall have a wonderful evening together, won't we?'

'Yes my Lady Lord,' said Adrig, glumly.

On his way out, with the Lady Lord turned away and looking out of the window, Edrig made a little swivel of his hips as he passed Adrig, rather like a pole dancer might, and told him to 'have a lovely time,' which he said loudly so that the Lady Lord would hear.

Adrig did not seem to appreciate the humour.

Then on the way back up to his room, Edrig entered Adrig's place and looked for the language pack. He found it rather quickly, resting on a table by Adrig's Kneetop Computationaliser.

Shouldn't take me long, Edrig thought. Then he went down to see Macrig, who had the pod side opened up for some maintenance.

'I'm going back,' Edrig announced, 'And as soon as possible, and I need much more money in a bag, a rucksack type bag please. The Lady Lord says it will take a lot. Check with her if you want, but if she says a lot she must mean a lot. Better make it one mill... No, two million, if that is feasible.'

'No dear boy, that is not feasible, but I could manage a hundred thousand.'

'Oh... Oh well, alright then, a hundred thousand, and a new credit card with... what's the max?'

'Oh... could make it maybe fifty thousand, but it would only go undetected for about a week.'

'Fine. I won't be gone long,'

'Yet you need so much? What for?'

'Eh... Do you need to know?'

'Oh here we go again,' sighed Macrig. 'Alright lad, I'll have everything ready soon, just go and have a bite to eat and it'll be all sorted.'

'Thanks Macrig. You know Adrig said you were a good man really.'

'Adrig said that? About me?'


'Ah well, us men have to stick together, I suppose.'

'Oh, and the two guys from 717. I need to take them back as well. Stun them and stick them in please. A good heavy stun. I don't want any trouble from them.'

'Whatever you wish young man. You are getting a bit of attitude about you, aren't you?'

'Time for me to take more control of things Macrig. My time to shine has come.'

Macrig shook his head a little at that, but then he smiled.

So, just a short while later, Edrig entered the prepared pod, with Alan and Edmund already seated inside, but slumped unconscious, fully stunned.

And soon Edrig was on his way, for a while the only conscious being out of the three beings aboard, and then unconscious along with the others.

And when he regained consciousness, he found Alan and Edmund still slumped, but breathing quietly.

Edrig scanned outside with the camera and was please to see that he had arrived at the location on the grass just beside the pond, exactly according to the pre-program that he had requested. It was the middle of the night and there was nobody about. He immediately opened the hatch and began the somewhat laborious process of heaving his two unknowing companions outside. It took a while, but he managed it without either of them showing any signs of awareness other than a few minor groans. They are coming to, he thought, but it'll be at least an hour yet, probably.

He eased himself from the pod, then reached inside to retrieve his bulging rucksack and the thick dark coat that he had found in the clothes box back home. He slipped the coat on and pulled the rucksack onto his back. After just a brief pause for thought, he threw his communicator and both stunners into the pod, then reached in and pressed the Auto Return button.

The two seconds before the hatch shut and the return program kicked in gave him time to withdraw his arm and step back.

As the pod began to de-materialise he turned and walked across the park towards the town, with an overpowering sense of freedom in his mind.

They may seek, he pondered, but they will not find, and they will not bother about the trivial loss of little me.

And he walked on, across the park, across the first street, and then turned to head in the direction of the railway station.



Soft sky

Report on Sample 717 (Part 17)

Following on from Part 16:

'Stop running!' shouted Adrig. 'It looks suspicious. Walk!'

'Suspicious? Really?' replied Edrig sceptically, although he did slow to a walk. 'What do you think they will suspect? That we are running toward our transportation pod that has just materialised from the sky?'

'You know what Edrig... You really are getting a rather cheeky tongue in you these days, sometimes.'

'Perhaps it's growing up, and realising what rubbish adults can speak sometimes.'

'Do you think we could just deal with the matter in hand Edrig? The rather serious matter in hand. That is our sole means of transport back home, sitting over there in that damn duck pond with policemen approaching it.'

'We've got the emergency rescue option too actually,' Edrig insisted, 'and anyway, I'm not sure I'd mind just staying here.'

Adrig looked across at Edrig, pondering his last remark, and then they were beside the pod, just as the policemen also arrived beside it.

'Where the heck's that come from?' Adrig asked them.

'Don't know. Still got the funny voice eh? Oh sorry. Your larynx, and your dumb friend's worse larynx too. I forgot.'

'Did someone report it to you?' Adrig asked, while being relieved to see there was nobody else around.

'Nope. We just noticed it while driving past now. Now be a good lad and just keep quiet while we check this out.'

So Adrig and Edrig stood and watched and listened as one of the policemen relayed back the van's number by radio, and they heard the radio declare that the registration number belonged to a Landrover Discovery, not a Ford van.

'Fake or stolen plate,' one policeman told another, as he checked the doors but found they would not open.

'OK, call out the truck and let's get it towed away.'

At this news Adrig drew Edrig aside and said, 'This could be a problem. If they take it away and into a building we won't be able to break out.'

'Really? That's a pretty serious limitation of the transportation system.'

'Yes really Edrig,' said Adrig, in a rather exasperated tone. 'What did you expect? It can move through gas and space and also the odd dimension or two easy enough but not through solid building materials. It doesn't work by magic you know.'

'Alright. Alright. So what do we do?'

'Look. They're going back to their car to wait. I think we better get in so that we can get going if we need to.'

'Going where?'

'Going home. Where do you think?'

'But the ladies. The lovely pole dancing ladies?'

'I know. I know. But this is an emergency. Dammit! The idiot! Three in the damn morning I said!'

Edrig was trying to think ahead to review the possibilities.

'If they see us get in, Adrig, then that's the game up really. They are not going to think we're a couple of homeless tramps if the see us opening a little hatch in the pod and crawling in.'

'But the hatch is on the other side. They can't see it. And look. Their backs are to us, but probably not for long. Come on! Into the water and get in!'

And so they splashed their way into the water, which was only a couple of feet deep at the edge, then Adrig swiped the hatch and soon they were hauling themselves inside. But the coats were a problem, so they discarded them in the pond to allow themselves to get in. Then with the hatch shut, they discussed the situation some more.

'Once they tow this away they will investigate,' reasoned Adrig. 'They will soon see it is not really a van. They are likely to cut their way in, and that would be the machinery ruined. One slice through the side pretty much anywhere would wreck it. I think we are going to have to go home.'

'No dancing ladies for us then, eh? Again.'

'Ach we can come back man. Just as long as I don't have to call for a rescue we can come back. I can easily think up a good reason for the Lady Lord. Don't worry. It's a setback. A mere setback. Look at the positives. We have identified the place with the best erotic dancers in town, remember. An excellent scouting mission, but time to go now, and... look at that screen. They are just chatting and not looking, so if we go now they won't even notice us going.'

'Eh... no... but they will soon notice that this damn big van is missing!'

'Yes, but there will be no need for them to associate that with us, for when we return. We can just say we wandered off when they did. Oh... But the coats... Ach anyway, they'll probably be sectioned in a mental hospital after claiming a van in a duck pond just disappeared. Ha ha. Here we go lad. I'm hitting the button, Hang on my boy! Hang on!'

'I don't need to hang on,' sighed Edrig, and then the pod began to hum.

And they sat looking at one another, but thinking of dancing ladies.

'How long would it take me to learn how to speak their language as well as you do?' Edrig asked.

'Not long at all if you set your young mind to it. There is a little teaching pack in my office if you want it.'

'I do.'

'You're quite taken with the odd place, aren't you lad?'

'I am. Sort of. Mainly the ladies. I don't just mean the dancing ones but from what we have seen they don't shout, they don't bully, and... they don't threaten to chop off then cook and eat your genitals after sex.'

'Hmm... You may change your view on that once you study my report in more detail. Not the last bit though. I have seen no evidence of that monstrosity.'

'Yes. I like the place,' Edrig affirmed. 'Nice coffee too, and blueberry muffins, and egg sandwiches, and fruit flapjacks...'

And then he noticed that Adrig had lost consciousness, and fairly soon he also slipped away, and they spun unconsciously onwards to their home.


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Report on Sample 717 (Part 16)

Following on from Part 15:

There was a large church opposite the coffee shop, which caused Adrig to begin musing again on another aspect of his favourite topic.

'Many of them worship a God, Edrig, although they do not define what they mean by God. A superior being, certainly, or superior force or something, which is all very well, but they argue endlessly and even go to war over invented specifics. It's all rather amusing, or it would be if it didn't cause so much trouble.'

'Whereas at least we acknowledge that we don't know, eh?' offered Edrig.

'Exactly. Exactly. The one most astonishing thing about the people here is probably their bizarre ability to convince themselves that they know things, and right down to the most ludicrous of specifics. I'm not sure if it is inherited or if it is just a consequence of the way their tribal societies have evolved, but they are crazy on specifics, quite literally crazy in many cases, about things that they cannot possibly know.'

'This coffee is good Adrig. Is it whole milk or skimmed or semi-skimmed?'

'I didn't ask. Tastes like skimmed to me.'

'Nah, too creamy surely for skimmed. I reckon semi-skimmed. Nice muffins too.'

'Big bloody blueberries eh? Our ones are smaller.'

'Oh my goodness look at that lady getting out of that cab. How long is that damn leg? And how much is she showing! Bloody lovely eh?'

'Lovely indeed,' purred Adrig. 'I'm looking forward to our evening. And I fancy another coffee and maybe one of those egg sandwiches after this one.'

'Are they free range?'

'I think so. I'm pretty sure I saw a sign saying they only use free range eggs, and that the milk is organic'


'I know, I know... It's a silly term they use. It allows them to bump up the price a bit more too. One thing I have found plenty of evidence for during my study of this place is that they rarely miss an opportunity to bump up the price of things.'

The two travellers from afar sat in the coffee shop for a long time, getting through three coffees, their muffins, then egg sandwiches and two fruit flapjacks which Edrig commended as among the best he had ever tasted. And they admired the ladies as they passed by the window, and they looked forward to their evening.

'Let's get some new clothes eh?' Edrig suggested. 'It does seem that these ones are rather silly.'

'Absolutely young man. New clothes. And some manly perfume too. This could be a night to remember!'

Which was when Adrig's communicator emitted a loud bleep, and he pulled it out to see what message it had received.

'What!' he exclaimed. 'Bloody hell! What! The fool! ... And where! What!'

'What's up now?' asked Edrig, alarmed, while noticing that other customers were staring as a result of Adrig's squawking.

'Three in the morning I told him. The idiot!'


'The pod! The bloody pod has just arrived back now. What time is it?'

'Three in the afternoon.'

'For goodness sake! And look at the coordinates. It's arrived in the wrong place! He's dumped it in the damn park!'

'Is that a problem?'

'Yes Edrig, that is a problem,' replied Adrig with sarcastic emphasis. 'Do you think the police are going to be uninterested in a big bloody van stuck on the grass in the middle of the public park? And... Hang on a moment... Oh for goodness sake! It is sitting inside the duck pond if my map is telling me the truth. At the edge of the pond, but inside the water, and tilting at an angle of 23 damn degrees'

'Oh dear.'

'We'll have to get over there boy. We'll have to get over there right now.'

'Why not just tell him to move it?'

'In broad daylight? Oh heck. Come to think of it, it has just arrived in broad daylight too hasn't it? I hope there was nobody around.'

'I hope it hasn't landed on anybody mate!'

'In the pond? On a duck at the worst.'

'Or a dog, or a young child having a paddle. I know it will auto-avoid big things but a child?'

'Come on! Let's go! Run!'

And so they ran, Through the busy streets in their garish gear covered by the big overcoats that were flapping open as they went. They ran along the streets and across the roads and into the park and onward to the duck pond, where they arrived, breathless, just as the police car was drawing to a halt a short distance away.

Report on Sample 717 (Part 15)

Following on from Part 14:

'Why are there so many shops?' Edrig asked, as they wandered through the city centre later in the day.

Adrig welcomed the opportunity to discuss his professional specialities.

'This is an odd society, with its whole social and economic structure dependent on ever-increasing consumption rather than minimizing consumption. The only way the whole unstable inverted pyramid can be sustained is if more and more things are consumed by more and more people. They call it economic growth, and it also requires population growth to keep it going.'

'And can they not see where that is going to end up on a small and finite planet? Can they not see how unsustainable that is?'

'They are beginning to, but they all think in such very short term ways, with their own lives being so short, and their politicians rarely look beyond winning the next election, so they are so obviously heading for disaster even if they avoid the nuclear conflagration, but they have no political or social structure that can prevent the disaster.'

'Something similar happened in another sample I examined,' offered Edrig. 'I forget which one. They had not reached the nuclear phase but their consumption and breeding grew exponentially and of course led to famine and war, endlessly. It was a miserable place. It still is.'

'Whereas here, in this country, many people are still managing to be happy and reasonably content. It is a different story in other countries of 717 of course, but they don't care enough to address that. One thing that our Lady Lords are at least good at is keeping everything on a sustainable path. You have to give them credit for that.'

'But look at those lovely ladies heading into that shop? Can we go into that shop?'

'Well, I think that is a womens' clothing store Edrig, but I suppose we could be looking for things for our ladies.'

And so they entered the womens' clothing store, and gazed at the many young women who were milling around. Edrig even gazed rather longingly at the mannequins wearing skimpy clothing, and quietly said, 'Oh my goodness.'

'Can I help you gentlemen?' a woman asked, in a rather unfriendly tone.

'Just looking at ladies,' Adrig responded, 'I mean just looking at ladies' clothes, eh... for our ladies,' managing an even deeper toner than he had managed before.

'Anything in particular?'

'No. Not really, but can I ask you something? Are there clubs with pole dancing ladies near here?'

The shop assistant looked somewhat disgusted, but neither Adrig or Edrig could think of any reason why she should do so.

'I'm sorry gentlemen, but if you are not looking for something specific and don't know what you wish to buy I would really prefer you to leave.'

'OK,' said Adrig, meekly, 'but the clubs, are there any?'

'Leave the store please.'

'And do the ladies ever dance naked?'

'Leave! Now!'

And so they left, puzzled why simple questions should have drawn such a response.

'The young ladies are so beautiful,' said Edrig as they wandered further along the street, 'but their beauty lasts for such a short time. Why does everyone die so quickly here? As far as I understand they have the same basic chemical processes as us. DNA, RNA, proteins and all that. Why are their lives so short?'

'Well,' offered Adrig, 'I am no expert on that but I think it is largely down to two things, fragile chromosomes and poor tolerance of oxygen. Their chromosomes are fragile at the ends. Telomeres, I think they call them. I read an article about it in my briefing notes before I undertook this analysis. And they have a very poor molecular system for coping with the reactive chemicals that are created from oxygen. Radicals, I think they call them. Free radicals.'

'And other than that they are very similar to us?'

'Well, in terms of their basic biochemistry, yes. Their brains have much less capacity, but here's the interesting thing, in terms of socially intellectual thought they can sometimes demonstrate capabilities that are superior to us, especially some of the women.'

'That's interesting.'

'It is,' agreed Adrig, 'and the women are very interesting in other ways too, and look at this my friend. I think we may have found exactly what we need.'

They were standing beside a wide doorway with colourful advertising posters on either side that proclaimed, The best erotic dancers in town, and below those entrancing words there were images of pole dancing ladies.

'Wearing hardly anything!' gasped Edrig.

'This, my boy, is the place for us tonight,' declared Adrig.

They spent a long time gazing at the images before moving away and wandering farther along the street, slowly.

'Look at her,' Adrig whispered as a young woman flounced past. 'Can you imagine her doing a pole dance?'

'And what about these two?' offered Edrig as more young women approached. Then he continued with, 'This place could be heaven. Absolute heaven.'

'It could come close,' Adrig agreed, 'if the men were not allowed to mess it up so much.'

'Can you imagine Adrig, if the women here were as dominant as our women, and were demanding sex from us with great regularity, while keeping everything running along just fine?'

'Ah... Now that would be the best of both worlds my boy. The best of both worlds... But still, at least we have tonight. Let's find somewhere to rest, and a coffee. They probably do not too bad coffee here, judging from how busy the coffee shops are.'

Which led them to a nearby coffee outlet to request two large lattes, which the rather bemused server just managed to comprehend in Adrig's helium-like squawk.

'Would you like a Blueberry Muffin with that?'

'Ah, yes please, two each.'

'Two? Very good.You sure not three?'

'Well fine,' Adrig responded to the server's joke, 'we are hungry so three each. A feast!'

'Enjoy,' commanded the server, as the order was completed and handed over on a tray.

Ready for a cold walk to observe Planet Earth

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Report on Sample 717 (Part 14)

Following on from Part 13:

Several hours later, Adrig nudged Edrig awake and told him, 'I have a plan.'

'Oh, so what is it?'

'Well... Alan and Edmund will not have arrived yet, but they will be there soon. Macrig will already have detected the pod as incoming. We can send a brief message to Macrig telling him to tell the drunks they had better pretend they are footballers if they wish to survive their experience. Of course he'll need a translator as he can't speak their language, but that should be easy enough for him to find in our tower, and we can ask Macrig to deliver them to the Lady Lord. You see? We are sending them on ahead of us because we know she is waiting. How considerate and diligent of us! We can explain all that in detail to her when we return in triumph, perhaps even with some more and better men for her! And we will ask Macrig to return the pod empty to where it left from. He will need to return it in the middle of the night to minimise the chance of detection, so that gives us a whole day and a whole evening to explore this place, and in the evening we can seek out the dancing ladies. Brilliant eh?'

Edrig thought it through.

'You know Adrig, that's not bad. Not bad at all, provided the scruffy old guys can keep her Lady Lord happy, but they'll be sober by then, and provided she doesn't find out what real footballers look like. But, given the circumstances, it's not bad.'

'You see, young lad! I can do it when I set my mind to it. Now, for tonight... it's actually quite warm in these thick coats isn't it?'

'It's fine.'

'So just let me send the message and then we can get some sleep here. You seemed to manage alright, while I was thinking.'

And so he keyed into his communicator:

Tell these two arriving soon to say they are footballers if they wish to survive. I will reward you. Deliver them to LL. Return pod to same coordinates for 3 am tomorrow.

'Genius!' Adrig declared, before turning his communicator to silent and leaning against Edrig, who was also leaning against Adrig, and soon they were both asleep.

And they slept through until the light of morning, when a gaggle of schoolgirls shouting abuse at them brought them back to consciousness,

'Scummy pervs.'

'Get a job!'

'You trying to see up my skirt you dirty old man?'

'Civilised?' Edrig asked Adrig as they passed.

'Interesting. Such precociousness and vulgarity while so young. Aged 16 to 18 I'd say. Pretty though. Pretty potential that's for sure. Oh! I wonder if there's a message from Macrig?'

There was indeed a message, that read:

They arrived. What sort of game is this? But will do what I can. Both are currently very confused and not yet compliant, Will get them settled down first. They wanted whisky, but I gave them water and food. They are shaking strangely.

'That all sounds good,' declared Adrig with a smile. 'Macrig is a good man really. He will clean them up, scare them witless, offer them a route to survival by giving a footballer's passionate performance aboard the Lady Lord and all will be well. And now we need to plan our day. Let's see... across to the shops, something to eat, a look at all the ladies wandering around and a bit of research into the location of dancing ladies for the evening, and purchase more suitable clothes, perhaps.'

A cloud in the sky

Excited little kiddies opening presents

Report on Sample 717 (Part 13)

Following on from Part 12:

'Hit the emergency rescue button?' Edrig suggested.

'I don't know... I don't know.' replied Adrig slowly, suddenly becoming the cautious one. 'I think we need time to think.'

'Why? And these people are getting closer by the way. I think they may be looking for us.'

'Quick then, get these coats on and run. An emergency rescue takes quite a while to swing into action you know.'

'Oh. You didn't tell me that,' said Edrig, as they grabbed the coats from the ground and hurriedly put them on. 'How long does it take?'

'Your basic training should. have... Oh... Not done it. Well, not before morning I expect, and it's not even midnight yet. Now run!'

And so they ran across the road and down a street at random, turning right at a junction, left at the next junction, then right again and running on. And they ran fast, for they were very young in their own terms, Edrig just leaving childhood and Adrig perhaps the equivalent of a young man of 717.

Eventually Adrig stopped and so Edrig did too, and they stood puffing in a shop doorway.

'I don't think they were even looking for us Adrig. Heavy these coats, aren't they?'

'Useful though, because our outfits really have turned out to be rather bright and obvious.'

'So what now?'

'A seat, and a think. Look, down there, a bench beside that monument. A seat and a think my boy, and keep calm, don't worry, I've been in a worse pickle than this before.'

'That's true,' agreed Edrig, trying to calm himself. 'At least we are not wrapped up in a big hungry spider's cocoon.'

'That's the spirit! And we have our communicators, with their emergency rescue buttons, and now we have time to think.'

'What's Macrig going to make of the new arrivals though? And our Lady Lord?'

'That,' said Adrig, 'is one of the things we need to think about, because we don't want to get rescued and end up back there without a story. We need a plan.'

'Oh yes,' agreed Edrig rather sarcastically. 'Finally we need to sit down and devise a plan. A plan to get us out of this mess that we might not have got into without a proper plan in the first place.'

'There is no need for cheek like that! And it's not my fault that I tripped and dropped my stunner, really...'

'And is it not your fault that you took us into a club with dancing men?'

'Not really. We are explorers lad. And what do explorers do? They explore. Now. Stop bickering and let me think.'

And having reached the bench, they sat down and they tried to think.

While... Elsewhere...

Edmund was looking at Alan and Alan was looking at Edmund, and their initial confusion had turned into concern about the intense queasiness they were both experiencing.

'I'm going to throw up mate.'

'So am I.'

But instead of any such messiness, they lapsed into unconsciousness together.

And Adrig and Edrig were still sitting thinking. Not saying anything, until Edrig distractedly looked at the monument beside him and with his very limited command of the language attempted to pronounce a few words.

'World... War... Two... The Gret... No... The Great War... What's that all about? These dates are very recent.'

'Yes. They are still in the big war stage here. And they have nuclear weaponry, so really it's touch and go whether they will survive or wipe themselves out.'

'Oh... Most samples wipe themselves out if they get to the nuclear stage while still at the big war stage, from what I've seen.'

'Exactly. It's very rare, only about a three percent chance of survival once that happens.'

'But we made it through, if you can believe the ancient records.'

'Yes. That's true. It's the second key phase in the survival of the fittest societies. The first one being tribalism.'

'But tribalism causes the big wars in the first place, doesn't it?'

'It does, and that's the confounding issue. The big societal challenge. To become tribal enough to survive and then to subsume the tribalism into unity for the better good.'

'Do you think they'll make it through Adrig, this lot?'

'I doubt it. Look at all those names from just this little area. The fighting wipes out millions you know. Millions.'

'Perhaps there is something to say for the ladies being in charge,' offered Edrig, 'even if our ones are big nasty bastards.'

'Perhaps my boy. Perhaps. But... the ladies down here. Did you have time to notice them in the streets?'

'Yes,' sighed Edrig. 'Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. Slim, soft skinned, stunning, and so seemingly compliant. They hold their men's hands!'

'Something worth staying here for perhaps, my boy.'

'You serious?'

'Perhaps. For a while at least. To come so far and not to see the slim dancing ladies...'

'And that damn man was naked! Do you think the dancing ladies might do that?'

'I doubt it. The ladies are more civilised, but still, you saw the clips. They don't wear much, Not much at all. But then my recordings are necessarily limited. It's a thought eh? Good god!'

And they fell silent for a while, gazing out at the deserted street as midnight approached, until a police car turned out from a side street and quietly rolled to a stop alongside them.

The two policemen looked at Adrig and Edrig while Adrig and Edrig looked at the policemen.

'These guys are young and fit,' Adrig whispered, 'just like footballers.'

'What are you thinking?' Edrig asked with concern.

'Nothing. Nothing yet. Just considering options.'

The policemen appeared to be having a conversation, presumably about them, and then eventually the nearest one got out and approached.

'Where did you get those coats?'

'Oh... Eh... Found them,' said Adrig, as low as he could.

'Why are you talking like that?'

'It's the way I talk.'

'Are you taking the piss mate?'

'Sorry officer. I have a condition, with my larynx. And so does he,' and he pointed at Edrig. 'He can't speak at all.'

'Really? Oh well. I've never seen you two before, and these look very like Alan and Edmund's coats. Do you know Alan and Edmund?'


'And you found the coats? I think not. And where have you two popped up from then? Where have you come from?'

'Far away. We are travelling.'

'Hmm... Well these do look very much like Alan and Edmund's coats, and we haven't seen them tonight, and that's a first.'

'Don't know them sorry, and these are ragged old coats someone tossed in a... in a... Well, just tossed away.'

'They are very old, I agree. And you better not be taking the piss with your silly voice mate. I think something funny is going on.'

Adrig just shrugged, but in his pocket his hand was sliding his stunner open.

'You seem sober too, and that's pretty odd too. No bottles? What's in your pocket?'

'Nothing,' Adrig assured him, removing both hands and slapping them against his sides to indicate no bottles, and Edrig followed him in that gesture, while Adrig's hand slipped back to his stunner.

'Where are you planning to sleep?'

Adrig shrugged.

After looking at them for a bit longer the policeman turned and walked back to the car, but before closing the door he called out, 'We'll be watching out for you. OK? We'll be watching.' And then the car moved off.

'Where are we going to sleep?' Edrig asked, and Adrig just shrugged again.

'The rescue button?' Edrig suggested once more.

'Not yet. I need to think.'

'Can we not at least contact Macrig?'

'Hmm... Perhaps, but these basic communicators are very limited, partly in order to be so small. They have the power for only very few short messages, and we should not waste it.'

'But I've got one too.'

'I know, but still, don't use it. Not yet.'

'Are they not likely to get in touch with us?'

'Probably, once the two drunks arrive. But I need to think.'

'Why are you so reluctant to get rescued right now?'

'The Lady Lord,' Adrig admitted. 'She told me last time that my travelling would be done for ever if I needed to get rescued again. Rescue is an extreme option you know. Two rescues and you're done with field trips for ever.'


'And this place does seem to have much to offer.'

'Especially the ladies eh?'

'Yes, the ladies, and the whole sociological structure that seems to have the ladies much more willing to be equal to the men, and to please the men. The men are very lucky here. Yes indeed, this place has much to offer.'

'Even though they are on the brink of blowing themselves to extinction?'

'Well yes, that is a drawback. But come on, let's just stop this chatter, and let me think.'

When Adrid did think, Edrig knew that it was a long process. Not minutes, but hours. As a sociological analyst he was actually rather reluctant to think, because he would get absorbed in the analysis of every avenue of interaction and ever nuance of societal structure that might affect his plans. It occurred to Edrig that this was probably why Adrig tended to avoid making plans in the first place, But now, he wanted to think. So Edrig fell silent, and soon nodded off, with his head resting against Adrig's shoulder.

Tree light

Monday, 24 December 2012

Wet walk under umbrella as the hidden sun sets

Report on Sample 717 (Part 12)

Following on Part 11:

Many people milled around the stricken doorman, and a woman claiming to be a doctor was soon crouched beside him and confirming that he had a pulse. In the general confusion Adrig nodded his head towards Edrig to indicate that they should try to leave the scene, which they did carefully and slowly as they heard cries of, 'What happened?', 'Did anyone see?' and 'Looks like a fainting fit to me.'

'Just keep walking my boy,' commanded Adrig. 'This way, towards the park. Just keep walking.'

And then eventually, after they had got a good distance away and crossed a road, Adrig decided that they should run.

'You know that guy might tell the police about the stunner,' Edrig called out as they ran into the park.'

'I know, I know. I think we better go home then come back later.'

'Go home? To the Lady Lord? Without her footballers?'

'I know. I know... Let's just see what's up with the pod first. Let's just see if going home is still an option!'

Edrig's concern reached a new level in response to that, and as he contemplated the prospect of being trapped on 717 he realised many people in the park were looking at them. He considered what a strange sight and sound they must present, squawking loudly at each other in their unintelligible high pitched native language as they ran in their garish clothes towards the pod.

By the time they reached the far side of the park nobody else was around, apart from Alan and Edmund, sitting on their park bench and enjoying cans of super-strength lager that were the fruits of an afternoon of begging. A few empty discarded cans lay on the ground beside them.

'Oh damn!' shouted Edrig, at the same time as noticing with relief that the pod was still there but seemed to have been moved a few yards nearer to the seat. Had the old guys been tampering with it? Had they pushed it?

'No so bad lad. Not so bad,' announced Adrig. 'Our pod is still there and I think we may have found our footballers.'

'What! They're old guys. They're not footballers.'

'Would you rather return with nobody for her Lady Lorship? I think we have to get out of here fast, or the police may be looking for us, and from what we have seen people are wearing around here it is not going to be difficult for them to find us. Adapt to survive young man. Adapt to survive. That is the essence of good planning.'

'Good planning!' exclaimed Edrig. And then he was left speechless as he pondered the mess they were in and the plan that Adrig was forming to get out of it.

And then they were getting close to the two homeless drunks, so Adrig ensured they slowed to a steady walking pace, trying to seem as calm as they could.

'This will have to be done quick,' said Adrig, clearly thinking fast. 'How can I get them in? How? Ah...'

Edrig was considering that stunning the two old guys and trying to lift and shove them through the narrow hatchway would be very difficult.

'Hello fine fellows.'

Alan and Edmund looked up at Adrig but had clearly not understood his attempt at communication. So Adrig tried to lower his voice still more.

'Hello fine fellows. It is a nice evening. Would you like to share some whisky with us?'

'Whisky?' asked Alan, having clearly understood that word at least.

There then followed a sequence of introductions and negotiations, in which Adrig tried to convince Alan and Edmund that he had plenty of whisky in his van, while Alan and Edmund didn't understand much apart from the repeated word 'whisky'. This eventually got them onto their feet, rather unsteadily, and induced them to approach the van cautiously while Adrig repeated, 'whisky, whisky,' as he pointed at the van like someone trying to entice a cat towards its food.

At the side of the van Adrig swiped the hatch with his palm and waved his hand in a welcoming manner at the narrow entrance, while repeating, 'whisky' several more times.

'You've got whisky in there?' Edmund asked.

'Yes. A session. Us four men. Drinking whisky together. A good laugh.'

The unusual entry opening did not seen to faze the drunks at all, and pretty soon Alan had been convinced to try to squeeze himself in, but the opening seemed too tight. So he withdrew, took off his heavy overcoat, then tried again, and this time he just made it through.

'Jeezo! What a nifty place this is in here!' he shouted, and on hearing that Edmund seemed keen to follow.

Which was the moment when Adrig noticed his communicator lying beside the path some distance away, and he also noticed a group of people at the far side of the park, and approaching.

'Get him in and get yourself in!' shouted Adrig. 'I've dropped my damn communicator.'

Just as Adrig headed off to retrieve his communicator Edmund half crawled and was half pushed inside, but as he went in his foot hit a switch just beside the hatch on the inside, and within two seconds the hatch slammed shut.

Adrig's palm was the only one that would open the hatch. Bad planning that, Edrig thought, wondering why it had not been programmed to accept his palm as well.

'They've hit the door switch!' Edrig called out, clearly alarmed. 'It's shut them in!'

'Ha ha! Don't worry lad, I'm coming. I've got it. Here I come!'


Inside the pod, Alan and Edmund retained sufficient awareness to be concerned that the hatch had slammed shut, leaving them trapped in semi darkness, but with a large green button flashing on the wall beside them.

'That'll be the open switch maybe?' suggested Edmund. 'Hit it. Hit it.'

And so Alan did indeed hit the flashing green button, vaguely noticing the squiggles across it, but of course completely unaware that what those squiggles said in Adrig and Edrig's language was Auto Return.

Thus it was just as Adrig was returning to the pod, with his palm ready to swipe at the hatch, that the sophisticated vehicle began to hum and de-materialise.

'What?' screamed Edrig, horrified.

'Oh my god!' shouted Adrig, 'They must have pressed the damn Auto Return button. It's too late now. They're on their way!'

And within seconds the pod had seemingly vaporised, while a rather thin beam of light shot skywards, growing brighter as it ascended.

Then it was gone, all trace of it hidden behind some low cloud that was moving in, and Adrig and Edrig were left standing beside the two discarded overcoats, dressed in their brightly coloured 70s gear, all alone on Planet Earth while, on the path, those people were still approaching.

Bill's lights

Two Santas and two snowmen, burning so bright they are rather hidden by their light

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Report on Sample 717 (Part 11)

Following on from Part 10:

They slept until ten in the evening, awakening simultaneously as a police car with its siren wailing rushed past them. This was not the plan, but Adrig was soon ready to put a positive spin on it.

'It's evening already! The clubs will be open. Come on Edrig, let's find some pole dance action!'

Edrig was more hesitant, asking Adrig if he was sure they could just crawl out of the pod as they were and wander away from it with nothing more than a credit card, some cash, two communicators and two little stunners in their pockets.

'Of course my boy! It's what we're here for! What's your problem?'

'A plan. Should we not have a plan? And the language. You can speak it but your voice is way too high for a human one, and I know only a word or two. Should we not work out a plan, and default options in case of difficulties, or if we get separated, or...'

'Stop stressing,' Adrig commanded. First, listen to this, if I speak really low then it almost sounds like them.'

And Adrig tried out a few sentences as low pitched as he could manage.

'It sounds, perhaps, like a human after inhaling helium,' suggested Edrig. 'I heard them doing that at a party in one of the scenes I viewed.'

'It'll be fine lad. They will be able to understand me. What more do you want? And I'll do the talking. And we have our stunners hidden away and our communicators with emergency rescue buttons.'

'Like the emergency rescue button you just managed to reach when you were spun up in a spider's cocoon?'

'Exactly! What are you saying it like that for? You are so negative. Come on. Look at the screen. There's nobody about. Let's go! To the dancing ladies my boy! To the dancing ladies!'

'And the footballers for our Lady Lord?'

'Of course. I know enough from my studies of 717 to know that footballers may be found where the dancing ladies are. Come on! To the adventure!'

And so, after accepting that there had now been as much planning as there was likely to be, Edrig followed Adrig out of the hatch and onto the pavement, feeling a jolt of fresh concern as the hatch slammed shut behind them.

It was a calm and pleasant evening. The sun had just set and its fire was still lighting the sky with a very pretty mix of pastel reds and yellows reflecting from some high and wispy clouds.

'It's beautiful,' sighed Edrig.

'Come on,' ordered Adrig impatiently, 'Across that park there is the city centre club and bar sector. Just over there! And you question my planning eh? This has all been thought out in great detail. Come on!'

So off they went along the path that crossed the park, dressed in their garish 70s outfits, with Adrig looking like a tall thin human in his sixties with his wispy long silver hair moving gently in the breeze generated by their motion, and Edrig looking like a smaller and rather fat fifty-something following on about half a pace behind. And when they reached the streets they found them crowded, and the lights were bright and the bars and clubs were filling up.

'I feel like everybody is looking at us,' said Edrig quietly, aware that his high pitched squawking in his own language could cause alarm.

'Just your imagination,' Adrig assured him, as he scanned the windows and doorways in search of a place where dancing ladies might be found.

'Lets try here,' Adrig declared enthusiastically as he pointed at a black doorway with bright green lettering declaring The Playroom. The noise of raucous thumping music was billowing out to the street from a stairway leading to a basement that was flickering with bright lights. But two doormen in dark suits blocked the way with outstretched hands.

'Well, well, well,' one of the doormen declared. 'What have we here? Have you just stepped out of a time machine guys?'

'No,' was all Adrig dared to say in English, in his deepest lowest possible voice.

'What did you say?' the second doorman asked.

'I said no,' Adrig responded, trying to get even lower in his natural vocal register.

'Bloody hell!' exclaimed the doorman, laughing. 'What the hell are you on?' Then turning to look at Edrig he added, 'What the hell is your old guy on mate?'

Edrig flushed and panicked a little, but just shrugged his shoulders and held his arms out, hoping that would be sufficient.

'Are you heading for a fancy dress party buddies, or have you just been to one at your old folks home?'

Adrig became rather annoyed, and decided to be firm.

'May we enter?' he requested, making it sound more like a demand.

'May we enter!' one of the doormen repeated in a high pitched squeal that was intended as mimicry.

Then he looked them both up and down, paused, smiled, and said, 'Oh why not lads, if you are sure you want to enter. In you go and I hope you survive.' And he stood aside to let them through.

Adrig hesitated.

'Do you have pole dancers?'

This reduced the doormen to laughter that nearly drew tears from them, as they both mimicked the enquiry together with, 'Oooooh... do you have pole dancers?'

Then they composed themselves sufficiently to say, 'Yes we do you dirty old man. In you go, and enjoy.'

And so they descended into the seething colourful bedlam below, with the heat and the noise hitting them like a wave.

'Over there!' shouted Adrig excitedly into Edrig's ear, for at the far side of the room he had spotted two silver poles descending from the roof and disappearing into the milling sea of customers that surrounded it.

Adrig pushed his way through and Edrig followed in the brief gap that Adrig created as a wake.
And then the people ahead seemed to part a little, to let them through, and suddenly there they were right at the front of a circular black stage and looking up, eagerly.

And they both gasped together.

In front of them, a tanned and oiled and muscled man in tight and tiny black leather hot-pants was writhing around the pole. And then looking over to the other stage they saw another tanned and oiled and writhing man, although that one was completely naked, with his manly bits flying around alarmingly to the music.

'Hello lover boys,' shouted a tall young man at their side, 'I just love the 70s gear. First time I've seen you two old boyfriends in this place.'

Edrig gasped again, as Adrig turned away from the dancer to look at Edrig, and mouthed, 'Go! Get out!'

And so they turned and made their way out, through a sea of men, some of whom were laughing at them. It had occurred to Edrig on the way in that there were only men present, but that had seemed logical to him in a place where he was hoping to find dancing ladies.

'Seen enough already big boys? Changed your minds?' one of the doormen asked as they rushed past, with Adrig stumbling at the final step and falling to the ground.

As soon as the doorman had helped him up they were both walking quickly away in the first direction that occurred to them, and then after a short distance they stopped.

'Gay.' Announced Adrig, looking somewhat shocked and shaking his head.


'Gay. Homosexual. Men that want men.'


'Oh never mind Edrig. I'll explain later. Come on. Let's try farther up.'

And Adrig began walking fast, while young Edrig, feeling very confused, followed.

And that was when Adrig's communicator began bleeping very loudly.

'What the...? What's up?' Adrig asked, rather flustered, as he pulled out the communicator and looked at its screen.

'What! Our pod is moving!'

'Eh?' said Edrig.

'The pod. It's moving. It's tilting. What the heck? We'll have to get back across there!'

And as they turned they saw one of the doormen from the club approaching, holding out his hand and shouting at them.

'Hey, old guy. You dropped your phone!' And the doorman was holding Adrig's stunner, and had just slid its top open.

'Don't do that!' screamed Adrig, completely forgetting to attempt the low gruff voice that would be required to make him at all intelligible to the human.

'What?' asked the doorman. 'Damned fancy phone this. How do you get the display to come on?'


But it was too late.

The doorman pressed the central button and, since he was holding the device towards himself, he received its full force in his chest.

There was no sound from the stunner, and no light or visible ray either, but its invisible electromagnetic impulse instantly reduced the big burly doorman to writhing moaning helplessness on the ground. And then he lay completely still.

People gathered as Adrig bent down and picked up his stunner from where it had fallen and skidded across the ground towards him.

Strathearn flood

Saturday, 22 December 2012

It's all a blur

Report on Sample 717 (Part 10)

Following on from Part 9:

Adrig grabbed the front door handle of the transportation pod that had been made to look like a van, and Engineer Macrig laughed at him as he struggled to pull the door open.

'What are you doing?' exclaimed Macrig, 'The doors are not real. It's a mock-up exterior. Even the transparency of these windows is not real, if you care to look carefully.'

Then Macrig explained that the travellers would have to enter and exit through the small side hatch, which was opened by a hand swipe for palm capillary blood-flow recognition.

'And you'll have to crawl in on your hands and knees.'

And so Adrig and Edrig crawled into the pod on their hands and knees, and took their seats facing one another in the dimly lit space with buttons and lights and switches on one wall, and a small location screen, but no windows. With the hatch closed they looked at the screen and saw Macrig standing outside and waving goodbye with an enigmatic smile on his face. Edrig was pretty sure that the engineer was shaking his head a little, and somewhat disdainfully, it seemed.

After carefully punching in a long serious of coordinates, Adrig smiled at his young colleague and announced, 'Here we go my boy!'

'You sure you know where we're going?' Edrig asked.

'Absolutely positive my lad! Hang on!'

'I don't need to, do I?'

'No, of course not,' Adrig agreed. 'It's just an expression, isn't it?'

And they sat looking at each other, while the pod emitted a fain hum, and after a few moments Edrig began to feel rather queasy.

'It feels like we are spinning,' he said quietly.

'It does,' Agrid agreed, 'but the best thing is to try not to think about it, because we really will be spinning very fast. That's why the screen now seems empty. It's all joined together. We are spinning faster than we could survive without the gravitational compensator field all around us. Faster than any life form could possibly survive.'

'I would find it easier to not to think about it if you would stop talking about it,' Edrig pleaded, as his queasiness grew.

'You are a bit of a nervous chap,' Adrig commented.

'Some degree of apprehension seems appropriate given the circumstances. I'd prefer to survive the journey than spin out of control to my death.'

This prompted Adrig to look rather intently at his companion for a while, before asking, 'Do you fear death, Edrig?'

Edrig furrowed his brow, and in thinking about death, he forgot about the fact that he was spinning faster than his body could possibly tolerate, without the gravitational compensator field. 'I fear the unknown,' he eventually replied. 'I know that I will just be returning to the great unified consciousness, so I will not be exactly dying. I know all that, but then I will be dying, won't I, in the sense that I won't be me anymore, when I get subsumed back into the unification. But I do fear the unknown.'

'I try not to think about it,' Adrig offered firmly. 'I try not to look forward to possible future events very much at all.'

'I've noticed that,' Edrig said quietly in return, as he began to ponder all the uncertainties facing them in this rather rash and poorly planned venture to Sample 717. And while pondering that he noticed that Adrig's head had slumped to the side, and Edrig realised that his senior companion had either fallen asleep or lost consciousness in some other way. So Edrig examined the flickering lights and the buttons and switches, pondering that there was currently no Adrig available to push or flick any if that was needed. Then Edrig also slipped into the carefree oblivion of the unconscious, as their transportation pod spun onward towards its destination.

Meanwhile... At the dark edge of an urban park in a big city in the land known as the United Kingdom on planet Earth, two homeless men were sharing a bottle of cheap sherry as they sat on a bench and huddled close together against the cold. It was a summer night, but at just after three o'clock in the morning Alan and Edmund were cold, despite their heavy overcoats and woolly hats.

'We should've stayed sober and gone to the hostel,' muttered Edmund, who, at fifty-seven was younger than Alan by ten years.

'It might have been an idea,' agreed Alan. 'Why can't the bastards let us in with just one wee bottle of sherry between us?'

'I think you know why old man, since they know that even just half of a wee bottle of sherry can turn you from a friendly old man into an angry old man, if someone annoys you.'

'It's true,' Alan conceded sadly. 'It's very true. Anyway, a bit left yet... Two more glugs each eh?'

'Just make sure your glugs are not bigger than my ones.'

'Well you just make sure that your last glug leaves a decent glug for me mate.'

And thus, in broad agreement about the plan, they drank on.

'What a damn life this is sometimes though, eh?' mused Edmund.

'Yeah, but probably not for much longer for me,' said Alan, 'then I'll be whisked off to heaven for a nice warm bath and a new set of clothes and made all ready to meet my old mum and dad and, oh...'


'My old mum and dad. They will be very disappointed in me.'

'Ah, but will they though Alan? Do you actually believe in any of that stuff?'

'No. Not really... Nope. No heaven, no hell, and nothing under this sky other than poor bleedin' us, stuck here on this shitty little planet and waiting to die.'

'There you go again, The ex philosophy teacher whose philosophy has led him to be sitting on a cold bench in the middle of the night drinking sherry with a failed fraudster and not enough money for another bottle of booze between us. And anyway. No heaven, no hell, but what about aliens, up there?' And as he spoke, Edmund raised his eyes to the sky, coincidentally looking in precisely the direction from which Adrig and Edrig were spinning inwards.

'Oh... That's a bright star up there,' indicated Alan, whose gaze had followed Edmund's. 'But no. No aliens either, if you ask me. We are in this huge pile of useless shit all on our own mate, if you ask me. Up shit creek. No paddle. No hope. No way out.'

'Ah well,' sighed Edrig, and they both bowed their heads and looked to their feet, only vaguely noticing the increased brightness of the ground, which could easily have been attributed to an approaching car.

And that was precisely when a big dark blue van began to materialise at the roadside just a short distance from where Alan and Edmund sat, and the van was making a slight hum as it materialised, which caused the two old pals to look up and towards it.

'What the...?' exclaimed Alan.

'Eh...?' responded Edrig.

'Good god mate, is this booze OK? It's not got meths in it has it?'

'I wouldn't put it past that bastard grocer to be selling us duff stuff, but look, it's a bloody big van!'

'Did you just see it kind of eh....'



There was a pause, as they both stared, and pondered. Then...

'Nah... It must've been there all along mate. Must've been hidden by mist or smoke or... I dunno. Let's just calm down... There is always a rational explanation.'

While... at the same time... inside the pod, Adrig was triumphant.

'Would you look at that!' he screamed with high excitement as the location screen showed what the camera could see as it panned around the outside. 'We are sitting beautifully at the side of the road! The road at the side of the park! An absolutely damn perfect piece of parking! Would you just look at that!'

This jubilation had several effects on Edrig. First, relief. But second, he thought it revealing that Adrig was so overwhelmed, as if he was actually rather astonished that the pod had apparently materialised where it was meant to. Then there was also concern, for they had arrived intact, and so this mission really was going to happen. So what now?

'Uh oh...'

Adrig's 'Uh oh' interrupted Edrig's thoughts, and so he looked at the screen and saw a rather blurry image of two humans sitting in dark clothing huddled together on a park bench, and staring right at the camera.

'Uh oh,' repeated Adrig. Then continued with, 'I chose this side of the park because I expected it to be deserted. But... ach never mind. I think I recognise the type from my studies. They look like a couple of old drunks. Probably completely pissed and oblivious to everything.'

'Drunks?' Edrig enquired. 'I wish I understood just a little bit about 717. Ask me anything you want about the history of 243, or 576, or even 719, and I'll be able to give you a lecture on it, but 717 is all new to me, and from what I've seen it is very different from those other places I've studied.'

'Ah well, nothing we can do about it now my boy,' declared Adrig with his typically unconcerned attitude returning. We are here now, and here is where the pod stays until we return. So now we just open the vents, sit tight until the morning, then have a look round. You fancy a bite to eat? We could see what Macrig has put in for us.'

'Yes, a bite to eat would be good, and then a bit of nap perhaps. I'm bloody tired.'

'Yes,' Adrig agreed, 'a bit of a nap. I'm tired too. Travelling does that though. It makes you tired.'

Somebody is home

More Edinburgh night

Friday, 21 December 2012

Edinburgh Winter Solstice

Report on Sample 717 (Part 9)

Following on from Part 8:

'This has been done to a ridiculously short timescale for a field trip,' complained Engineer Macrig as he led Adrig and Edrig towards their transportation pod.

'We have adapted it to look like a modest 717 vehicle,' Macrig continued, 'but as for all the fussy procedures, you are pretty much on your own. The licence is just a poor copy, for example, and no vehicle insurance documentation. It's crazy this short notice, but the Lady Lord has deemed it a top priority. What can be the urgency?'

'I really have no idea,' said Adrig, while smiling inwardly about his promise to bring her back one or two long-lasting passionate footballers. Concern or planning for that aspect of the mission had not intruded into his mind yet.

Edrig, on the other hand, was worrying as usual.

'Can it actually function as a motor vehicle?' he asked, while looking at the big ugly dark blue fake 717 van with a badge reading “Ford” on the front.

'Not at all!' Engineer Macrig exclaimed. 'It has just been very hastily reconfigured to look like one. It will be stuck wherever you arrive until you depart. Well... the wheels will turn, but you would have to push it, which would not be easy. So you better configure yourself to land at a suitable parking place.'

'Can you do that?' Edrig asked Adrig, and Adrig assured him that he had all the coordinates worked out, while rather looking, it seemed to Edrig, as if he had little idea how to do it at all. Adrig's overconfidence and lack of forward planning was a worry to Edrig. Pretty much everything was a worry to Edrig.

'No bother. No matter,' Adrig confidently declared. 'We'll not be down there long. Just in and out, having some fun in-between. I mean, eh... completing our mission, that is.'

'And the mission?' asked Macrig, 'What is the mission?'

'Do you need to know,' Adrig replied, with a superior tone. 'It's a need to know mission.'

'Well then all I have kitted you out with is standard gear, so I hope that is sufficient since I don't need to know anything more.'

'What is standard gear?' Edrig asked, since Adrig appeared uninterested in that issue.

'Just the standard stuff from your basic training. You remember?'

'Of course,' Edrig lied, but then was relieved that the engineer did at least reel off a list, reciting, 'Two stunners set to 717 levels, two communicators, the Basic1 versions, some cash notes for the UK, as requested, and one forged credit card good for about 10 thousand and maybe seven days before they are likely to detect it. A basic rain gown and warmth gown, all packed in 717-style wheeled suitcases, and... that's about it. Oh, a little food and drink but not much. Very minimal. Not what I would want. Not what I would want at all.'

'Perfect,' pronounced Adrig. 'We'll be fine. A small hotel, simple food, new clothes if required. Perfect. We'll be there a couple of days at most.'

'The stunners,' asked Edrig, 'Will they debilitate a footballer or two long enough to get them transported back?'

'A footballer?' enquired the engineer. 'Or two? What the hell is a footballer? And nobody told me this was a pursuit and capture mission. Just a brief and basic field trip I was told.'

'Nothing you need to know my friend,' Adrig assured him, while looking rather sternly towards Edrig. 'If we need more we will nip back and get it eh?'

'Nip back? Nip back!' exclaimed the engineer with an obvious sense of professional outrage. 'Have you any idea how sophisticated this transportation process is, or how much technology is required? Nip back!'

'Oh... Not really,' Adrig conceded. 'I am not a technical type you know. Nothing so manual. I am a sociological analyst, and Edrig is a historian.'

'Oh,' responded Engineer Macrig, rather sneeringly Edrig thought. 'A sociological analyst and a historian. That'll come in handy if your tunnelling translator coil becomes untwisted while you're out there, eh?'

'The damn thing works, doesn't it?' Adrig demanded, assuming his I outrank you tone. 'And we have emergency procedures available for extraction don't we?'

'Ach, you'll be fine, as you said, and it's all in the manual,' Macrig assured him, but rather insincerely, it seemed to Edrig. 'Just don't mess it up though lads, or the Lady Lord and her minions will be having your bollocks for breakfast and your arses with afternoon tea.'

'OK then,' announced Adrig, ignoring Macrig's comment. 'Let's go!'

'Looking like that?' asked Macrig, as he surveyed the extravagant and colourful Sample 717 1970's style clothing.

'Of course looking like this,' affirmed Adrig. 'We need to fit in unobtrusively you know. We don't want to look out of place.'