Friday 26 April 2013

Dead Again

A figure stood framed in the doorway. Lightning flashed. 

"Roth!" I exclaimed, surprised. "You were dead."

He stepped inside out of the rain. "I got better," he replied.

"I went to your funeral."

 "I faked it."


 "I wanted to hear what people would say about me after I was gone."

"What did they say?"

"Oh, there was a really nice eulogy. A few snivels then a cough, two belches and a fart."

"Touching, I think. I'm also really glad you went for the burial rather than cremation."

"And someone dumped 17 tons of grapes into the grave."

"Sorry, that was me."


"Well, when someone is ill you visit them in the hospital," I looked for understanding, "Yes?"


"And bring them fruit?"


"Dead is the ultimate in ill, so I thought you'd need a lot of fruit."

Friday 29 March 2013

Point of Reference

There is no mistaking the smell of an English Pub at opening time. Stale beer and ageing cigarette smoke are a potent mix. Not a-typically music was playing quietly in the background. I could be sure the volume would hike as soon as the landlord eyed some people trying to have a conversation.

Cigarette smoke. Interesting, I must have arrived before 2007.

I walked over to the bar, "Hi, who's this playing on the radio?"

"Kayleigh? Can't stand it. At least it didn't make number one."

1985. I turned to leave.

"Aren't you going to buy a drink?"

"Er, no, not today, I don't think."

"What do you think this is - a free information service?"

"No, do you have a lavatory?" Under my breath I added, "I've been busting for a pee since 1615."

"It's in the corner, over there."

I turned and walked towards it.

"Patrons only," the barmaid announced.

Now that was just unreasonable. Surely this wasn't Berlin in 1942. "I am a patron. I just haven't bought a drink yet."

I left. Trips through time require careful plotting and the use of Temporal Navigation System is nearly essential. Think of it as sat-nav for time machines. "You have passed December 1976, please do a U-turn when possible."

Unfortunately, on a whim, I had changed the Temporal Navigation System to speak Swedish and my laughter at it sounding like the chef from the Muppets quickly turned to panic when I realised I couldn't reset it. So I had resolved to get home by taking little steps through time, stopping, investigating & moving on a little bit more. I've been using my local pub, The Fox and Armpit, as my point of reference. Thankfully, 1985 was a pretty good hit and I only needed a little bit of luck to get close enough to "home".

I walked through the door of The Fox and Armpit and sat at the bar. I looked around. There was no smoke in the air, most of the patrons were nursing the one drink they could afford and using their phones to communicate with friends thousands of miles away, whilst ignoring those in the room. Yes, indeed I was "home".

The barmaid wandered over. "Hi," she said.

"Hello. Can I trouble you for a pint of Witches Broomstick please?"

"That'll be £2.75."

I fished around in my pocket for the money. Damn, it was good to be home.

"If you don't mind me asking, but don't you normally drink with a really tall gentleman?"

"I often do. Hopefully he'll be along later. I expect he's been taken in by the furniture shop's buy two armchairs, get a pizza free offer."

"I saw that. I didn't think most people would be swayed by the offer of a pizza."

"Mr Indigo Roth is quite definitely not most people. You don't get offers like that where he's from."

"Why, where is he from?" Hooked.

"Did you not notice the accent?"

"No, he sounds pretty Home Counties to me."

"He disguises it really well, but he is originally Norwegian. He took loads of lessons to learn how to drop the accent when he went to RADA. Just get him to say gravlaks - you'll see him salivating slightly and his accent will slip."

"He went to acting school?"

"I'm told his characterisation of Calamity Jane was absolutely unforgettable."


"Oh, yes. It was terrible that he got thrown out. Such a waste of raw talent. If it wasn't for his terrible addiction, we'd see him on the West End stage now. He might even have made it to Hollywood."

"Addiction? How awful."

"Lots of Norwegians suffer that way. I think it may be genetic. Hid jars of it all over his dormitory. Turned up on stage reeking of it."

"Booze. My auntie suffered like that. I hope he got help."

"Alcohol, no, no. Goodness no. Much worse than that. Pickled herring."

"But did he get help after he was thrown out of RADA?"

"Yes, they put him on a pickled herring substitute and I think it's a bit more manageable for him now. We just slip him one of these and he is, as they say, a happy badger." I held up a frozen packet and passed it over.

"What do you do with them?"

"Use your imagination."

Roth arrived. "Hi, can I have my usual please?"

The barmaid pulled him a Guinness, and he took a long pull before speaking again.

"Did you see the offer that furniture shop is doing? Awesome. I bought sixteen armchairs." He paused, had another sip, "How has your day been?"

"1615? It was a bit dull to be honest. I left a SIM card in one of the excavated pits at Stonehenge. Might brighten things up for the archeologists in the future."

"Yes, it would." He laughed, took a good chug of stout, then turned a looked at me, "Why is there a frozen fish-finger in my beer?"

Friday 15 February 2013

A Quantum Of Spinach

"We need to go on a quest, find some mystical artefact and wrest it from the forces of darkness in an epic battle," Roth struck a pose very familiar to those brought up on black and white movies.

"He looks a lot like Errol Flynn standing like that," I whispered to Eolist.

"Yes, Errol Flynn having a pee!"

Roth continued, although frankly I didn't hear a word of it. I'm quite sure I was going purple trying not to laugh through his grand, and I'm sure rousing (if we'd been listening) speech.

"He's going to get the hat and the whip out soon," Eolist commentated.

"Oh oh, Indiana Roth and the Rhubarb of Doom?"

"Wasn't that a Quantum of Spinach?"

"That's Bond!"


Eolist was the first to notice it and once we had, I'm don't understand how we could possibly have missed it. "It's getting awfully smoky in here," she said, "I can barely see Roth."

"I can still hear him though."

"Well, nothing in this world is entirely perfect now, is it?"

"It's not your smoking ghost?"

"No, no, I don't think so. He's been trying to give up. I keep finding nicotine patches all over the house."

"Do you think the Surgeon General's warnings on the packet have finally worried him into giving up?"

"So he can enjoy a longer and more fulfilling life? I think the boat may have sailed on that already, given he has already reached the point in his existence where he should be doing pottery with Demi Moore."

I started coughing, "Where is this coming from?" My eyes watered.

The smoke swirled and a figure appeared.

"It's Jack the Ripper!"

"It's Dick Dastardly, surely?"

The figure before us wore a fine suit and stood with the jacket open. His waistcoat had a Xbox controller wedged into a pocket. Below a scary handlebar moustache was a pipe belting out the skyline of Victorian Sheffield.

He took his pipe from his mouth and spoke, "Don't call me Shirley!"

Continuing he said, "I have come to set you a quest. See that ring over there on the fireplace?"

"The one that has been there doing no one any harm for years?" I asked.

"That one, yes." He paused for dramatic effect. "Put it in the fire."

Eolist picked up the ring and put it into the blazing fireplace we hadn't mentioned before.

"Now pick it out carefully with this poker." He waited until we had the still glowing ring nestling on the end of the poker, "Can you see the elvish writing?"

Eolist and I both struggled to find our glasses and put them on. We looked at the ring. "No," we said in unison.

"It WAS there. I assume if I ask you to go on a quest and dump this in a mountain full of fire, you'll actually be able to see the bloody mountain without glasses?"

Roth appeared, "Did someone say 'Quest'?"

Eolist and I nodded, "He did."

"Fantastic, OK, I'll take the ring, Max, pick up the dwarf. Good to see you Gumley..."

"Oi, who are you calling a dwarf!"