Okay, here goes with another flagon of hamster fiction…
The moment that the gangling young hamster, Lionel Flugelhorn, first suspected that something was amiss was when the crockery fell from the draining board, and shattered into a thousand pieces upon the kitchen floor. This was accompanied by an insistent whine that seemed to boggle his eyes, and turn his insides into outsides. Then the time-storm’s wave front hit, and Lionel didn’t care what his eyes and insides were doing; he just hoped that the invisible force that was pinning him to the ceiling would soon stop jangling his private parts like a two-stroke outboard motor with a jammed wide open throttle.
In the latrine Boney had much the same sentiments, except that he also fervently wished that the contents of the lavatory bowl would quickly allow gravity to do its work, and get back to where they belonged – leaving him alone to his agony.
And in the Artefact Store – at the very epicentre of the time-storm – Fanangy and Colin were doing excellent impressions of untrained amoebas, as they utterly failed in the task of avoiding being squashed into incoherent blobs of biological, and mechanical, jelly. Or at least that’s how it felt to them.
“Yeech,” Fanangy managed to force past lips that vibrated with a resonance frequency slightly higher than suspension bridge support cables in a hurricane, “you never mentioned that it would be this bad, Colin!”
Colin was having difficulty accessing his speech centre information transfer nodes. “Gugh,” he replied.
Fanangy agreed utterly: “Gugh” seemed to perfectly sum up their situation. Then she noticed a Sentinel Robot trundle into the room – swaying from side to side violently, with peripheral parts, like ears and radar dishes, being scattered to the four quarters. It was making scant headway against the impossible energy force that was emanating from the Time-Storm Machine, but somehow, centimetre by centimetre, it waded through the invisible molasses that was the Time Storm.
She wasn’t sure, because her eyes refused to focus properly, but she thought she could just make out the Piss Bowl cradled gently in the iron grip of the simple, if very scary-looking, automaton.
“What are you doing here?” She demanded in a tone, that although horribly distorted by the forces of temporal relocation, sounded both concerned and halfway hysterical at the same time. Her next line explained the reason for this, “Colin never mentioned that the Piss Bowl came with us!”
Either it couldn’t hear, because its ears had been torn off, and thrown into the wind-ravaged corridor outside, or it didn’t care: But the Sentinel Robot continued its advance upon the Time-Storm Machine with a remorselessness that beggared belief. The watching hamster simply couldn’t believe that drive wheels could grip that hard, and she promised herself that if she survived this particular adventure, she would seek out the manufacturer of those tyres, and have some fitted to her go-kart – irrespective of the purchase price, or the ghastliness of the tyre-fitter’s half-exposed bum crack.
“I wasn’t shouting at you:” She aimed this at the Sentinel Robot, “It’s the Piss Bowl that I’m bellowing at like an idiot.”
Fanangy then screwed up her eyes in an effort to resolve the almost-frozen tableau before her. She wasn’t sure, but the Piss Bowl appeared to be attempting to eject a sheet of paper from its lower slot. It was difficult to tell, but there might have been some words printed upon it.
Fanangy couldn’t have known it at the time, but although “Gugh.” was the best verbal articulation available to Colin during these moments of high anxiety, his ocular zoom lens remained in perfect order. All that was required of him to read the Piss Bowl’s printed message was that he point his eyes in the correct direction. And, despite his metallic cranium coming under all sorts of electromagnetic and gravitational stresses, this was exactly what he managed to do.
“Gugh!” he managed to shout above the din of displaced air and ruptured space/time, and rattling waste bins. “Gugh! Gugh! Gugh!” With ever-more desperate eye movements and ocular semaphore.
Fanangy was no empath, but even she could tell that something was alarmingly wrong with her co-worker.
“What is it?” She screamed at Colin as the ceiling plaster began to dissolve, and then be carried away by violent eddies.
She answered herself on Colin’s behalf. “Gugh: Yes I know.”
Then the sheet of paper was torn loose from the Piss Bowl’s timid grasp, and, as strange luck would have it, it was swept upwards until it came to rest in Fanangy’s left ear.
Against the almost unimaginable forces that were acting upon her finely boned skeleton, Fanangy heroically yanked the sheet of paper from her ear, and quickly scanned it with her boggling eyes – before it was once more dragged from her rapidly tiring fingers, and torn to shreds by the wildly oscillating ceiling fan.
“You what?” She screamed eloquently at the Piss Bowl, “You can’t let me go? Go where? What do you mean – you can’t…”
But she said no more: The Sentinel Robot had brought down its massive steel fist upon the fragile form of the Time Storm Machine.
In the blink of an eye everything simply stopped. It was like a moment frozen in time, or a huge sachet of freeze-dried peas jammed into the blades of a public lavatory hand drier. The passage of time simply ceased. Then the machine slouched into a pile of parts, and time re-commenced. Or rather it didn’t: It started afresh – as though all the most recent events had never happened. Not that anyone knew it though.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2012
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