Monday, 22 January 2007

Bars, Bulls and Beetles


Sorry to hear about your accident with the Steam Lift System. I'd forgotten I'd left it there. I'm pleased Oolon, Terry and Emilly are looking after you and I promise I'll be back to finish off the circus soon.



PS Here's my report to forward on to Caledon:

Having recovered the balloon through the cunning use of a combination of gardening implements and rope, I decided to check the shore ahead on foot. The balloon may be a convenient means of travel, but the basket can get rather cramped.

Clambering over a garden fence, I found myself in the mainland equivalent of a public house. Unlike the Anvil, however, this inn was open to the elements and the glass bar was filled with tiny fish of many colours. I rapped on the bar top for attention but no one came and there seemed to be no way to serve yourself or leave payment for any of the drinks.

Hiding my disappointment, I ventured through a doorway onto a walkway lined by grids, numbers and symbols. Part way along this walkway I found a winged young lady. I tried bidding her good afternoon, but her gaze stayed fixedly on one of the grids as strange symbols flashed by. I wasn’t sure if this was a communications device or perhaps a more advanced form of analytic engine, but it seemed to require all of her concentration.

Not wanting to interrupt her work, I moved on into another open area. This was filled with card tables, but was completely bereft of people. At the far end of this space stood what appeared to be a bull and a brightly painted sign. The bull on closer examination appeared to be mechanical, with the words “Ride Me” emblazoned on a board behind it.

Having tamed a steam elephant, I believed a mechanical bull would prove to be little trouble. As soon as I sat astride the device I discovered that I was wrong. It bucked and span about the room, colliding with furniture, scattering cards and throwing me to the ground. As I staggered to my feet, it returned to the sign to await it’s next victim. Perhaps “Do Not Ride Me” would be a more appropriate sign.

Alongside the bull a colourfully painted board proclaimed “The Beetles – The Yellow Submarine” (beetles was actually incorrectly spelled; I have corrected the spelling within this report) and pointed down into a mysterious hole in the ground. Could this be a submersible manned by tiny creatures? There was only one way to find out.

As I dropped into the vortex of whirling colour, I realised the sign may not have been entirely accurate. This underground tunnel was lined with glowing painted faces and both small and giant fish swam within it. Steeling myself against the disorientating effect, I staggered down the tunnel, reaching out to follow the walls with my hand, when out of the darkness loomed an octopus! It’s bulk blocked the tunnel and it’s tendrils flailed towards me.

I ducked to one side and drawing the Webley peppered the creature with shells. The octopus did not react; it’s limbs continued flapping and my bullets fell harmlessly from it’s hide to the floor. Another mechanical construct, perhaps? It did indeed look that way, although I could not get too close for fear of being caught a blow by one of the tentacles. After a few moments quiet observation, it appeared to be continually repeating the same set of motions over and over again. All that was required was a bit of timing and quick reflexes and I was soon passed the creature and into another chamber.

This chamber contained nothing but a large switch. I cautiously reloaded the pistol, not sure what to expect from this place that had obviously been built as some kind of strange joke. I pressed the button and was shot out of the tunnel and back into the open air amongst the card tables once more. Nowhere in the tunnel system had I seen signs of beetles or submarines.

The sky was beginning to darken and I decided it was probably for the best to head back to the balloon and push on along the coast. This visit had taught me a valuable lesson: Not to trust the signs on the mainland.

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