Okay, part 4 didn’t set the world on fire: try part 5…
However progress wasn’t as quick as X2 Zero had anticipated: they encountered the huge amorphous blob named Susan coming down the UP ramp. She carried Chester Earplug in a ‘nest’ upon the top of her shape-shifting head…
“Oh,” Chester groaned from his lofty position, “sorry and all that. Susan doesn’t have a problem with left and right; but she does get a bit confused when confronted with up and down. Would you like my autograph? I’m free and easy with them. But I don’t sign underwear.”
“Nah, it’s alright.” Barclay replied. He then added – somewhat sarcastically, or so thought Bubbles: “Merely being in your presence is enough to make our day. This chance meeting with one of the museum’s heroes will forever be indelibly etched in our collective memory.”
“That’s fine,” Chester said through a fixed grin, “please excuse us as Susan makes herself all thin and squeezes past.”
So, moments later…
…they were free of the obstruction and rapidly closing upon their intended destination.
“Don’t stare or anything,” Barclay said as they trotted along – line astern, “but that’s Margret Greenhorn and the Greenhorn Girls to our left.”
“How exciting,” Bubbles whispered back. “They must be blocking out a new routine. I’d loved to have been a dancer: but I’ve got two left feet – even if one of them is on the right.”
“Café Puke, coming right up.” X2 Zero called. “Would you like me to lead you in?”
Barclay didn’t approve of a servomechanism doing only half a job. “Right on.” He said in what he hoped was the robot’s vernacular.
As the robot led its non-paying guests inside, it found the lighting somewhat subdued…
It couldn’t see anyone either. “Shop!” It bellowed through its high-quality user-interface loudspeaker. At this, the lighting burst into incandescent life…
…and some patrons found themselves made visible.
“Oh, that’s better,” one of them said to their friend seated opposite them, “now I can see the sugar knobs.”
Barclay chose this moment to dismiss X2 Zero – before turning his attention to the counter. However this area of the room remained a little dim, and of the Baristas there was no sign…
“Oh Barclay,” Bubbles complained, “I want a Croaky Cortado, but there’s no one to tell!”
The lighting chose that moment to change again. Suddenly the two visitors found themselves bathed in a red light. They also found Mary-Sue Wassack…
“Hi,” she said in an uncharacteristically cheerful manner, “Is that two Croaky Cortadoes?”
“Please.” Barclay, slightly surprised, replied. “Where did you spring from? Do you have a hidden trap door?”
“No-no,” Mary-Sue answered, “It’s the counter: it’s too high. The shop fitters who built the interior were old and used imperial measurements. The instructions were in metric. So now we have to come around the counter to serve people.”
Barclay accepted this. Then he asked a second question:
“What’s with the kooky lighting? It keeps changing.”
“Oh, that’s the shop fitters again.” Mary-Sue explained. “They didn’t have a normal electrical consumer unit for the lights; so they used one intended for a disco club instead. It plays merry hell with my pupils, I can tell you: I now have dilation problems.”
As if on cue, the brightness increased to maximum in the briefest time possible…
Suddenly Moyst Towlet and Jungle-Jake Johnson became visible behind the counter – not that anyone noticed: they were all too busy shouting, “Aargh!”
But as quickly as it came, the brightness dimmed to a reasonable level once more…
“Ah, that’s better.” Mary-Sue said with a grateful sigh. “Moyst: two Croaky Cortadoes. You two – take a seat: I’ll bring you your coffees.”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022
Yes, I know the story barely moved on at all; but aren’t my Cafe Puke sets a delight!