Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 15)


So far it has been rather fun for the newlyweds: now their work really begins. Read on…

Chapter 5

Neither Magnuss nor Hair-Trigger slept well that night. Their minds were in turmoil. So they were still tired when the alarm clock woke them to a day full of grey skies and rain…

But one thing was certain to both of them, as they stared out at the rain-soaked city that only hours earlier had appeared so bright and full of promise…

“We’ll learn nothing here.” Magnuss said. Then, to add clarity he added: “In the city I mean. No one knows anything about the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah.”

“How can you be so sure?” Hair-Trigger inquired reasonably. “I know we asked at Reception, but we haven’t asked everyone.”

“I went on-line while you were making toast.” Magnuss explained. “There’s not a single mention of it.”

To her credit, Hair-Trigger tried to be subjective and helpful. “Have you considered that Madame Nellie might be a bona fide fruit-cake? That perhaps there is no such thing as the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah?”

Magnuss’ expression, reflected in the window, told Hair-Trigger that playing Devil’s Advocate wasn’t her most remarkable talent. “You’re right, of course.” She said. “Clearly the female is no nut-job. If she’d been mad, she wouldn’t have caressed your temple: she would have squeezed your buttocks. So where do we go from here?”

“The Tankerville Norris.” Magnuss replied. “If we are to find anything pertinent concerning the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah, it’ll be in the ship’s memory banks.”

So, a half-hour later, and having checked out, the husband and wife team of daring-doers made for the exit of the Hotel Gilb…

From there the courtesy shuttle bus returned them to the parking lot, and thence to their ship – through which (because the weather outside had been chilly and wet) they rushed to the (recently sign-posted) lavatory…

…before settling down to study the immense Library of Galactic Information – jokingly referred to as The Encyclopaedia Galactica – in the ship’s central computer…

But just to be certain that they would not be interrupted – or scanned intrusively by the SS Glob – Magnuss had the Tankerville Norris lift off…

…then whoosh across the high-rise section of the rain-swept city…

This coincided with many of the Hotel Gilb’s hospitality staff taking their early morning coffee break by the window in the dining room…

“Oh-no, not another one leaving.” The purple individual with pink hair complained. “The place is already nearly empty. If this keeps on, I can see our whole industry falling down around our ears.”

But a green earplug was secretly pleased at the departure of a space ship, because he was a Catering Anarchist!

Aboard the departing space ship…

…Magnuss and Hair-Trigger watched as rainwater slewed off the ship’s forward camera cupola.

“Right sod of a day.” Magnuss observed. “We’ll be able to think more clearly when we’re above the atmosphere: there won’t be this incessant tippy-tappy noise on the hull.”

But a half-hour later, and having spent the entire time trying to find information that might be vaguely linked with the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (but without success) Magnuss was getting a headache…

So he sat down for five minutes, which released Hair-Trigger to try a few entries of her own.

“Hey,” she yelled almost immediately, “I’ve tried a wider, more expansive request input. I’ve left out the Tah-Di-Tah bit. I punched in a request for any historical or mythical usage of the word ‘lines’. Guess what – I found an entry. We need to access it on the table in Engineering…

Engineering, being relatively close to the bridge, it took only moments for the excited couple to get there…

“How do we turn it on?” Hair-Trigger asked Magnuss.

On cue both knew in an instant. Moments later an image to accompany the information that was being directly fed into their brains appeared on the holographic viewer…

“A strange village at the very end of a long fiord.” Magnuss said in wonder.

“Small domed houses that hang on, or cling to the cliff face.” Hair-Trigger added. “Some go down to the water’s edge.”

“Not a lot of flat land.” Magnuss noted. “I wouldn’t want to be on their soccer team: you’d be playing one half of the game up hill; and the other half chasing the ball downhill.”

“P’raps they’ve got their pitch the other way ‘round.” Hair-Trigger suggested. “Longitudinally I mean. Canted over at whatever the angle of the cliff, with the goals at either end also canted over of course.”

Magnuss was about to reply, when suddenly he realised that they had gone off-subject. So he said: “Who cares? Huh, maybe they don’t even play soccer.”

“Didn’t.” Hair-Trigger corrected him. “Maybe they didn’t play soccer. This is a historical picture. Past tense, that is. Maybe they never played soccer because it hadn’t been invented yet.”

Magnuss quickly changed the subject. “This is a winter shot: can we see a summer version?”

“Look, Magnuss,” Hair-Trigger gasped after scrutinizing the replacement picture for a nanosecond, “they did have an area suitable for a soccer pitch. Down by the water on the north shore. It appears to have three buildings on it. But they could be mere tents or artisan’s fabric retail outlets.”

Magnuss took a quick peek to confirm his wife’s observation; then returned the conversation to its original course. “Let’s collate the info we have on The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah, and see where this new stuff takes us.”

Naturally the ship complied…

Magnuss wasn’t impressed, so Hair-Trigger put on a brave face and smiled sweetly. “Yes,” she said positively, “although we have no idea what these ‘lines’ are, we know they have something to do with the planet, Tah-Di-Tah.”

Magnuss pulled himself together. “Confirmed.” He agreed. “I also notice that clairvoyance is highlighted: that must be important too. Madame Nellie, I presume – yet she claimed to know nothing of The Lines.”

“Predestination.” Hair-Trigger yelped when she saw the word. “That suggests that someone – possibly you and I – were always intended to be here to find The Lines. But Time Travel?”

“Bunk-Bunk Bunsen.” Magnuss blurted. “He who brought the plans of this very ship with him from the future. I alluded to it, earlier in the city. Now it’s beginning to make more and more sense. But I can’t figure the History entry.”

“The village at the end of the fiord.” Hair-Trigger suggested. When I entered the word ’lines’, the computer gave me the village.”

“Accepted.” Magnuss said as he studied the hologram. “But what the heck is an Infinite Reality Drive?”

In an instant the telepathic link with the Tankerville Norris gave him the answer. Hair-Trigger too.

“It’s what powers the ship along.” She yelled joyfully. “I wondered why it didn’t whoosh along with a tail of fire like other ship’s we’ve been on. Using a system – not unlike that one which destroyed the civilisation that Folie Krimp and Placebo Bison discovered – the creators of the I.R.D accessed alternative quantum realities and syphoned off the raw power of that reality’s creative ‘Big Bang’, and converted it into smooth linear thrust.”

Magnuss was impressed. “Very good, Hairy.” He said. “I couldn’t have put it better myself. In fact I would have spoken a bunch of cobblers. But how is it pertinent to the mystery? What does Infinite Reality Drive have to do with clairvoyance, time-travel, predestination, and the planet below?”

“The starting point came when we visited Madame Nellie.” Hair-Trigger replied. “It’s only a hunch, but I think she knows more than she’s telling. Shame on her: and you being a Saint as well!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

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