Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Fifth Day of Advent - In Which Intrepid Explorers Discover That Time Travel Isn't Real, You Know

The convoy - if a red tandem plus two hens and a Triumph Herald motorbike plus a quail called Harold Angel counts as a convoy - set off into the night. Tango Pete was rather worried that Harold should not, in his current state of inebriation, be in charge of 250cc of throbbing engine power, but Harold assured him that it was fine, he'd done it many times before and only been caught by the police 17 times. Plus, they could stop off at an all-night greasy spoon and have a fry up which would absorb the worst of the damage. 

'What's a 'greasy spoon?' says Daisy, if not only for her benefit, but for the benefit of the continental guests at Much Malarkey Manor who may be confused by our funny English turns of phrase.

'It is what happens when washing up gets left in old washing up water overnight and a state of revolting congealment occurs,' says Primrose, for the benefit of MMM inhabitants who do this much to the annoyance of the Lady of the Manor who likes a DRY washing up bowl when the lights go off for nighty- night time.

'Oh,' says Daisy. 'I thought it was a cheap and cheerful cafe that sold cheap and cheerful fried food to long-distance lorry drivers, because that's exactly the kind of healthy fodder that someone who sits on their backside all day needs.'

'That, too,' says Primrose.

And so the convoy, after travelling not very far at all because there is a bit of a speed discrepancy between a tandem and a motorbike, pulled off at The Ding Dong Cafe run by one Merrrily Onhigh, a goose of not insubstantial proportions and a honking great voice to match.

The cafe was relatively quiet. Mrs Pumphrey disappeared into the Ladies' Room to powder her beak, and Tango Pete and Harold ordered three Crop Buster All-Night Breakfasts. 

'I am a bit concerned,' said Tango Pete, leaning in towards Harold in a conspiratorial sort of way, then leaning back again, driven away by the fumes emanating from him. 

'I've told you,' said Harold. 'Fear not. Do not be seized by mighty dread. Let you mind be untroubled. Once I get this breakfast inside me I shall be right as rain.'

'Not about you,' said Tango Pete. 'About Mrs Pumphrey. I've told her the tandem can time-travel. But it can't and...'

'Well, that was a bit stupid, wasn't it?' interrupted Merrily Onhigh. She slapped three enormous grease-laden breakfasts on the table. 'Why did you do that, you moron?'

'Not that it's any of your business,' said Tango Pete, 'but I wanted to impress her.'

Merrily rolled her eyes in a way that suggested that whilst a moment ago she only thought he was a moron, now she knew he definitely was.

'There are better ways to impress a lady than telling her you can time travel,' she said. 'Budge up, will you?' and she used her enormous goose behind to nudge Harold along with such force that he ricocheted off the other end of the fake leatherette banquette and landed in a heap of quail confusion on the floor.

'Like what?' said Tango Pete.

'Well,' said Merrily, 'what are you trying to achieve for a start?'

'We're on a quest to find the Last No L,' said Tango Pete.

Merrily laughed. 'That old chestnut?' she said. 'You know it's all a myth, don't you?'

'What's a myth?' says Daisy.

'A female moth,' says Primrose. 'Sssshhhhh!'

'It most certainly is not!' said Harold, scrabbling back a-top the banquette. 'It is as real red-nosed reindeer leading a troupe of eight other reindeer in front of that massive sleigh parked in the car park there!' And he pointed into the darkness with his little quail wing.

'Oh shut up, Harold,' said Tango Pete with uncharacteristic sharpness.

'No, honest!' said Harold. 'Look!'

And at that very minute, there came a scream from the Ladies' Room. The scream of a startled hen.

'Mrs Pumphrey!' shouted Tango Pete. 'Gloria!' 

He leapt from the table, scattering rashers of bacon and sautéed mushrooms hither and thither. He ran towards the Ladies' Room. And just he reached the door, it swung open with such violence that it knocked him unconscious. And Mrs Pumphrey appeared a-screaming and a-flapping and in hot pursuit of our intrepid heroine came a portly gentleman, bearded of face and red of suit, and Merrily Onhigh leapt from the banquette in an act of sisterly solidarity and with one swoop of her enormous goosey wing, knocked him out cold, too.

'I think you just killed Santa,' said Harold.

Well, it was all crazy stuff indeed. On seeing their leader being right-hooked by a goose, the nine reindeer charged at the huge glass window of The Ding Dong Cafe, breaking it down with the ease of a sledgehammer shattering a very delicate bone-china cup. Merrily Onhigh shouted something not very lady-like at all, but which amounted to 'Oh dear! My poor cafe!' Mrs Pumphrey was waving her headscarf over Tango Pete in an effort to revive him and Harold was frisking Santa in case he was carrying some useful medical equipment like an epi-pen, smelling salts or hip-flask full of medicinal brandy.

Suddenly, someone shouted 'STOPPPP!' and amazingly, everyone did! 

'Who shouted 'STOP?' says Primrose.

'Our Advent Story Teller, I believe,' says Daisy.

'Yes,' says I.

'Why?' say Primrose and Daisy in unison.

'It's the power of omniscience,' says I. 'And I was losing control of the plot.'

Five minutes later, and both Tango Pete and Santa had regained consciousness and were drinking hot sugared tea, and the reindeer were helping Merrily sweep up the debris of glass. 

'I am so sorry for scaring you,' said Santa to Mrs Pumphrey. 'I was a bit desperate for a well, you know what, and I didn't read the sign on the door properly.'

'It was the looming of your enormous beard in the mirror that did it,' sad Mrs Pumphrey. 'It was like a giant badger hoving into view. But apology accepted. After all,' she added, blushing a little, 'it's rather a privilege to meet you.'

'But I must do something to make up for scaring you,' said Santa.

Mrs Pumphrey glanced into the car park at the enormous sleigh.

'I don't suppose we could hitch a ride, could we?' she said. 'You are, after all, the greatest Time Traveller of all.'

'What?' said Tango Pete. 'Even greater than The Doctor?'

Mrs Pumphrey looked at him quizzically. 'Doctor Who?' said she.


Countryside Tales said...

Merrily Onhigh is a perfect name for a goose. Liked the sneaky Dr W reference. And the moth of course. Especially the moth. :-)

Denise said...

The moth was especially for you! Normally, I wouldn't entertain such appalling jokes, given I am a Writer of Quality Fiction.

Countryside Tales said...

We now say 'urban moth' instead of 'urban myth'.... oh, how the hours fly past in our house x

Olly said...

Loving this - only just caught up with it, I don't know how you manage this every day. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's instalment.

Denise said...

Glad you are enjoying the story, Olly. I am enjoying writing it. It is barely causing me any stress at all!!!