Time to revel in some Hamster-Sapiens ribaldry again. Since this is the third extract, it’s only fitting that it should come from the third book in the series – namely this tome of significantly fabulous short stories, all pulled together in one wonderful narrative. Or something like that…
Of all my books, this is my favourite. I don’t know what it is about it that so pleases me. Maybe it is the way it almost wrote itself. I can still recall – I think it must have been back in 2008 – sitting at my desk top computer, hoping for inspiration. I’d written the intro – explaining the significance of the Psychic Historian character – Sorbresto Titt – and why he was visiting The Where House. But, having done so, I had no story to tell. So, rather than stare at a blank monitor screen, I closed my eyes. And there it was: a dry dusty track through a desert landscape. Then an ageing hamster, with a pack thrown over her shoulder, shuffled into view. In that moment I had my opening story. So, being desperately logical, I’ll show you that opening scene right now…
If the audience had been impressed before – now they were stunned to within a micron of sentience. For indeed the huge monitor did show the contents of Flotti’s genetic memory – as filtered and reconstructed by the dazzling advanced-brain of Sorbresto Titt. They all went “Oooh.” as the screen cleared itself of some momentary static to show an ancient crone staggering along a dusty trail that led through a rocky gorge. She was dressed in sackcloth, and upon her back she carried a heavy pack.
Of other life there was no sign. Nevertheless she whistled a happy tune, and would break into a little jig each time she reached the surprisingly infectious chorus – not that anyone had heard it thus far.
“Oi, where’s the bloody sound?” someone chirruped from the watching audience.
“Oh, that’d be my fault.” Colin apologized, and quickly found an errant jack plug, “I completely forgot to plug it in – which just goes to show that computer brains are just as forgetful as organic ones. So, as you can see, none of you are inferior to me in any way, shape, or form: Just different.”
He then remembered to insert the jack plug into the appropriate socket, and everyone could hear the old crone’s melodious singing.
“She’s bloody good.” The same chirruper made himself heard once more, “She could make the top of the hamster hit parade, she could. I’d sign her up to a record deal right this second – if she wasn’t long-dead and turned to dust – and I was a record producer of course.”
But no one was listening: They were too interested in what was happening on-screen…
“Hola, buenas dias.” The old crone spoke to someone off-screen, “Como estais?”
This caused consternation to flow through the assembled ranks of seated hamsters like a nasty dose of influenza. Generally speaking foreign languages were an anathema to them. Some grew fearful: Others angry.
Noticing that he was in danger of losing his paying customers Boney acted quickly.
“Colin,” he yelled across a rather loud conversation in Spanish, “You’re a walking encyclopaedia: Can you interpret?”
Well in response to such a reasonable request from his employer, Colin said, “Boney, I do believe that I can do better than that: How do you fancy sub-titles?”
Then he did what any good-natured, self-aware, servomechanism would do. He got out his special, multi-purpose, tool, and indicated what he intended to do with it.
Now this action surprised many in the audience. Well actually it amazed them. Some it even astonished. And fourteen found themselves capable of being overcome by the thrill of the moment, and simply fainting.
This was because Colin kept his very unusual tool in a very unusual place. Now, having extracted it from beneath his special celebratory sporran, he proceeded to walk up to the TV monitor, and shove his tool into an especially prepared socket just beside the on/off switch – where he would remain standing awkwardly for the rest of the evening – almost certainly with a fixed smile upon his handsome face.
The result of this audacious action was the appearance of words along the bottom of the screen. And after a quick wiggle of his hips they became recognizably Hamster-British.
“Where are you bound?” the voice off-screen was asking the ancient forebear of Flotti Pañuelo, “And by what name are you known?”
“I’m bound for the twin cities of Sod’em and Begorrah.” The ancient crone replied. “And my name is Flappi Pañuelo.”
A gasp ran around the audience like a Mexican wave.
“Blimey,” Horatio Horseblanket exclaimed, “she must be Flotti’s great, great, great, great, great, great…”
But he got no further because he suddenly fell silent after receiving a severe backhander from his mother – accompanied by a hissed reprimand that went something like, “Shut it, you gobby twat: You may be the youngest-ever inductee to the Hamster Hall of Heroes, but I don’t like being shown up in public.”
And, whilst rubbing the back of his furry head, Horatio replied rather indignantly, “What about that time I showed those old black and white pictures of your enormous peach-like bum to people waiting at the bus stop? You didn’t seem to mind that at all!”
“That’s because the bald hamster at the back was a famous pornography producer.” Molly shot back. “I thought he might have a part for me.”
“Oh he had a part for you alright.” Horatio leaned as far away as possible whilst still remaining seated, “A very private one I seem to recall.”
“It paid the rent that month, didn’t it?” Molly snapped. Then she realized that no one was watching the ancient tale of Flappi Pañuelo anymore: They were paying her more rapt attention than she felt comfortable with. “Just carry on.” she instructed Sorbresto, “Now!”
Well what then transpired upon the TV monitor was a revelation. The psychic camera seemed to pull back to reveal that Flappi was speaking with a heavily-built male Jerboa – who rode upon a chariot that was pulled by a team of armoured praying mantis. Beryl Bogbreath screamed shrilly. Fanangy Panakan was only a heartbeat behind her.
Fortunately for Flotti she was in a trance, and so was unaware of the hideous spectacle that emanated from deep within her genetic past. This was just as well because she’d held a life-long aversion to the preying mantis ever since one fell from a balcony in the Spanish seaside town of Bunnidorm, and landed in her strawberry blancmange – utterly destroying it; the table; and the evening in the process, and very nearly biting her mother’s head off. Only the timely arrival of the Spanish waiter carrying a huge bottle of fizzy cola – with which he proceeded to hose down the panicking creature – saved Mrs Pañuelo from a ghastly fate.
But that was by-the-by. Sorbresto Titt was accessing the moment that followed…
“You are a hamster.” The rather haughty Jerboa said.
“That I am, Sir.” Flappi was forced to concede.
“But this is Sandy Desert Land.” The Jerboa stated the obvious once more.
“So?” Flappi stood as insolently as she could muster under the weight of the pack upon her back.
“Your inflatable cheek pouches will do you no good here: There is very little water in which to drown. In any case we Jerboas find your stubby little tails most distasteful: It almost looks as though you have a willy poking out of your arse hole. Do not be surprised if some tribal chieftain takes umbrage at your hamsteriness, and has you flogged, jailed, or dispatched to the next realm of existence. You’d do well to find your way back to that far-off place from whence you came.”
“Thank you very much, but I’ll take my chances.” Flappi replied. “I’m here to visit the holy shrine of Freda Lung, and maybe take in the existential frisson of the sunken city of Bilge.”
The Jerboa appeared confused. “Ugh?” He grunted. “But you told me that you sought the twin cities of Sod‘em and Begorrah.”
“Well they’re on the way, aren’t they?” Flappi showed the first sign of doubt.
“In a ‘round about sort of way.” The Jerboa agreed.
Then he made a sudden decision. “Hop on board, you absolute sex-goddess,” he smiled for the first time, “I’m going that way myself. Perhaps we can attempt procreation en route? Better still – let’s a have a go now – right here – in the open – where there’s a chance someone might see us. What do you think?”
“Well…” Flappi began, “I’m not entirely sure…”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013
P.S The © date of 2013 represents the later – improved – version of this book. Naturally it is available as an e-book from most suppliers. A list of the better-known ones appears on the sidebar – or in that list of ‘Pages’ beneath the header.