Timelines run at funny angles.
So do ley lines, allegedly. As for Chi lines they travel up and down your body like nobodies business. Railway lines are all curved and paid for out of government funding. Tramlines run through Manchester but not Liverpool. The Tram in Istanbul can take you from the Grand Bazaar to the Dolmabahçe Palace. Fishing lines can get you caught out. Thick headed Presidents can get you into Soup Lines. And White Lines can get you into trouble if you drive across one while being watched by a Policeman in Gran Canaria.
Anyway back to modern day Uranus. Now as yet they had not invented the aeroplane, so it would take a long time for Jarse to get all the way to Setebos, explain his message, get his reward and lead the vengeful forces of Lord Chalfont to the Charnel House. This would take the suspense and derring-do out of the tale so we have to work in a few unlikely events and the odd coincidence.
Fat Larry woke the next day to hear jeering, ranting and raving outside his front door. He emerged into the glorious sunshine of a brisk cool morning to be confronted by an angry crowd from the village.
“Unruly demons of Chaos!”
“Red means Red!”
“Exit means Exit!”
“Many a muckle makes a mickle!”
“You can’t take it with you!”
“One swallow does not impune my reputation!”
“A stitch in Time will save the denim!”
“I blame the parents!”
This last is a quite legitimate statement when dealing with Gremlins. Not that many of the Gremlins are legitimate which makes the first jeer quite appropriate too.
Larry was soon joined by Mrs White and the Dopey Dwarf, as well as the five travellers and a camel that suddenly appeared from the bottom of a wormhole which had recently passed over the Desert near Abu Dhabi. The camel spat at the crowd and walked away.
“What have they done this time?” asked Mrs White, knowing that Larry would soon be popping off to fix a broken spade handle or counting the leaves on the privets if the stress got too much.
One of the townsfolk held up an empty red paint tin.
“They’ve painted the Town red!” shouted an angry member of the mob who I can’t be bothered to name.
“Bastards!” declared Larry.
“Look folks I’d love to help you out but there are three broken brooms and a couple of dripping taps that are demanding my immediate attention. Mrs. White can you deal with this?” With that he turned round, fled into the House and set to on his broom repairing routine.
“Do you mean literally?” asked Hanny, “or did they just go out and get pissed?”
“Both!” said the unnamed inhabitant.
“You mean they shot up to the Land of Wails, found the village of Both and painted it red!”
“No not Both; both! As in they did both things you asked us about. They got pissed, with the aid of some mischievous Brownie I believe, and then they got all of these tins of red paint and painted the Town. Being pissed they didn’t do a very good job of it either. There are lots of streaks and missing bits!”
“What do expect us to do?” asked the pragmatic Mrs. White.
“Well,” said the spokesman, who is now known as Tom, “we actually like the colour Red. And overall it creates a really interesting post-modern look to the Town. It creates a mood that suggests these folk are a bit scary, a bit avant-garde, almost Bohemian. So we like that. It’s better than that mix of off white and shitty brown beams everywhere, with the twee window boxes and antique village pumps. Not that we’re a village. No; we’re a Town. It’s just that they didn’t paint it very well and we think you lot should come and finish the job properly.”
Hanny was a little startled at this prospect. She had listened to all that had been said. She knew that painting and decorating could take a heavy toll on a girls hands, particularly if she had to clean brushes with turpentine. Besides they had mentioned a mischievous Brownie which could only mean one thing; Lord Chalfont would soon find out. Any delay caused by having to paint the town would allow enough time for the Brownie to get to Setebos, deliver his message and let Chalfont send a recce patrol to check out the lie of the land. This would have to be avoided at all costs.
“How much would it cost to bring in a team of professional builders and decorators to do the job properly?” asked Hanny.
“There’s no such thing in these parts!” declared Tom, feeling himself grow into the role of spokesman. Soon he would have a surname, possibly taking on a more important function in the story. Not really likely but it’s worth keeping his hopes up or he might stop offering interesting comments.
“The nearest place you can get professional Painters, Decorators and Interior designers is from the Town of Rougham Upper Bit, which is about half way between here and Setebos if my Geography is correct. There you will find the offices of Beane, Gorn and Dunnit decorators to Royalty. But that is too far away! We want to see the job finished as soon as possible before we feel a different decorating faddish makeover on the horizon! Maybe we will get visited by a long haired fop who thinks Purple is the new white; or a poisonous Dwarf who wants everything back to minimalism. Or some other shitty tend in home décor. In fact I bet there is some idiot out there who thinks pebble dashing could come back in fashion!”
“I´m good at that,” exclaimed Greg. “And I bet Peter could lay down a fusillade too if it wasn´t for those magic knickers!”
Mrs White and Hanny looked at the boys in disgust.
Steve went red with embarrassment.
Hanny felt Thwarted; he was one of the other dwarfs who now had a big smile on his face.
She understood the desire to make sure the townsfolk kept their houses looking fashionable, not wanting some interior designer to come along too soon and tell them that Towns painted entirely red were passé. Such a fop is likely to tell them something like ‘I see a red door and I want it painted Black!’ A Towns identity meant so much to some of the busybodies who have fuck all to do with their lives. She understood all of this, just as she felt the urgency of the Quest.
Peter was talking gibberish most of the time due to the magic in his arse. Why he’d even tried pulling that Snow White bird!
And his chat-up lines were absolute shite.
‘Do you come here often?’
‘How do you like your eggs? Fried or fertilised?’
‘My love for you is like diarrhoea, I just can’t hold it in.’
‘Is that a mirror in your pocket? Cause I can see myself in your pants!’
‘Do your legs hurt from running through my dreams all night?’
‘If I could rearrange the alphabet I would put U and I together.’
‘If a fat man puts you in a bag at night, don’t worry I told Santa I wanted you for Christmas.’
This last one had stopped the conversation. To suggest to a woman that she could be kidnapped and put into a sack by an overweight fictional character was just too much. And then to be delivered in the sack to a sex mad Pixy – well not a situation to enthral any girl. (Yes I know they are all fictional characters but that does not matter when Snow White is being chatted up by a Pixy with a sore arse.)
Not that Hanny felt she had a claim on Peter now that he’d let himself down by overdoing the enchanting charms in his bottom. Suddenly she felt some relief herself; she was fond of Peter, in what she would now describe as a sort of sisterly way. It would be nice if she could set him up with a good looking bit of totty, then she could go back to her old lifestyle in Setebos, only having to concern herself with the Kings personal hygiene. This love and relationships business was just too much for Hanny. Love can take you half way round the world to meet a girl who flips you off on the first night.
Still the Quest had to proceed. It would be a feather in her cap if she were to return with evidence of the Permanent Cure. Yet a postponement for painting would allow time for the enemy to act.
She emerged from her reverie to hear Bogey Questioning Tom, who it appeared, had the surname Bomb.
“So are there any bridges in the Town?”
“Just the one,” said Tom Bomb hoping to take a leading role in the next piece of the tale.
“Is it painted Red?”
“Does anyone live under it?”
“Sold! Look I’ll happily help you paint the rest of the Town if I can have sole occupancy of the space under the Bridge. I’ll maintain the Red Bridge to the best of my ability; all I ask is a licence to extract a toll from all users.”
Tom Bomb consulted with several other townsfolk. He was glad he’d come along to this meeting this morning as it had given him a new sense of importance. He felt like the lynchpin in some secret negotiations. His name would go down in the History of Gobroke as the guy who sorted out the colour scheme and bridge repair problem. Mind you, from now on Gobroke would be known as Redbridge, and at some future date would elect a man intent on killing off the poor, though that´s another story.
“Would you charge foot passengers?”
“If you want to carry passengers on your feet then I will have to charge a nominal fee which would be accepted graciously; I’d say ‘Have a nice day!’ as they crossed. Vehicles and animals would require a heavier toll as their weight would cause more damage to the underlying structure of the bridge.”
“It’s a deal!”
With that Bogey persuaded Peter, Greg and Steve to lend a hand. They listened to Hanny’s misgivings but ignored her totally. If you can’t beat them you may as well ignore them, said Hanny to herself.
So as the lads knuckled down to some hard graft with paint and brushes Hanny sat alone on a seat of stone and munched and mumbled on a bare old bone.
Timelines run at funny angles.
Without them stories just wouldn’t fit together properly.