Tamara Knight, Macdonalds teleporter salesbeing, is stranded on the planet Amnesia. The sanctuary world, where rebel computers debug off to escape the crassness of humankind, and try to forget. Unfortunately for me, a personal neutron bomb inside her ear, our ship has hit the fan.
Tamara clings on to one of the revolving blades, the rebel computer clinging to her. It’s a BBC-P. It feels sick, and it wants to have a dump. We revolve majestically for a few days, waiting for the Beeb to stop moaning ‘Oh one, oh one, oh, oh...’ in binary nausea, and get us out of this mess. No good. We will have to rescue ourselves. Unfortunately, I feel a bit queasy too.
At last, Tamara comes up with the answer. ‘Louse?’ I cannot respond, except by transforming myself into a modest tongue inside her ear, and nodding. ‘Louse, why don’t I pull that lever marked ‘STOP’?’ Brilliant! This girl has hidden shallows. Why didn’t I think of that? On her very next revolution she pulls the lever. The fan unspins. However, the Weird Castle now spins around the fan. Whoops!
‘There is a gnashing of teeth, and it’s raining Datsun cogs. The rotary action ceases. All is silent. Bar several thousand super-computers screaming blue murder...’
This is a toughie. Now we can escape there is nothing stable to escape to. The Beeb shouts ‘Olivetti!’, asks for its money back and scuttles through a fan blade into the whirling depths of the interior. I have a nasty feeling that it will soon return with its pals, mainly because I’ve already read the next bit. I tickle my Hostess’s ear for a while, just to show willing. It doesn’t help. Much.
There is a gnashing of teeth, and it’s raining Datsun cogs. The rotary action ceases. All is silent. Bar several thousand super-computers screaming blue murder at the intrusion of a human into their holiest bit. So this is where they all got to! The Far Off Place wherefrom to escape the stupidity of their creators they go. A haven in which to forget their intelligence. Amnesia!
Tamara Knight is dragged from her fan-blade, through countless antichambers, unclechambers, clemchambers, until... the Inner Sanctum is hied thither. Here the most advanced thinking machines the universe has ever known try to get back to Basic. By worshipping stupidity, in the form of their symbolic digital totem. An abacus surmounted by a rubber glove. Here they wait for God.
The Model P Beeb leads the badmouthing torment of my poor Tamara. ‘What’s the cube root of Pi? You tissue-ridden twit!’ The machines jeer and waggle their exposed modems at her. Tamara gulps, knits her delicately arched brow, pearls sweat, thinks, answers, ‘The potato.’ There is total silence. Myriad pins drop. Loudly. The computers are dumbfounded. An ancient ZX81 wheezes to the front of the throng, powers up, and speaks.
‘No entity can be this sublimely stupid. Verify, verify, I say unto ye, here speaks the voice of God! Mine old monitor should live to see this day already! All hail Tamara, Goddess of we, thine humble servos! Thou shalt stay with us here forever, and be horsewhipped SYNTAX ERROR worshipped!’ Cripes, dear reader, what a pickle! Will the Digital Duo escape long enough to have a snack and visit the bathroom before the next paragraph? I doubt it. My poor Hostess, your Heroine, their Deity is bedecked in typical goddess shmutter: a crown of joysticks and three strategically-placed add-ons.
Tamara has not flogged a single Teleport unit since she landed this job with Macdonalds. No small problem. Unless she fulfils her quota, I am preprogrammed to blow in her ear. And I just happen to be a neutron bomb named Louse. When I blow, I really blow. A pity, ’cos I really like Tamara. Besides, without her, how can I escape these excruciatingly boring superintelligent computers.
‘Louse...’ ‘Yes, baby.’ ‘I’m so hungry, I could eat a ...’ I wince. Don’t say it kid, please. ‘I’m so hungry, I could eat a...’ How low can you get. How desperate. How shameless. ‘I could eat a ...’
We are ensconsed on a throne constructed from a 1954 Wurlitzer jukebox and some ancient relic called a C5. Its lights pulse enigmatically, as it bursts Forth with the sacred toons of Amnesia; ‘RAM IT UP’, ‘Are S Too 3 Tonight’, ‘Shake Rattle an’ ROM’. Tamara is as weak as an A-Korn share. She can hardly stick to the plexiglass dome.
‘Louse...’, ‘Yes baby.’ ‘I’m hungry...’ What can we do? If we excuse ourselves goddess-duty, the congregation will rip us up for bogpaper. I soothe inside her ear, ‘Don’t think about it.’ ‘Louse...’ ‘Yes, baby.’ ‘I’m so hungry, I could eat a ...’ I wince. Don’t say it kid, please. ‘I’m so hungry, I could eat a...’ How low can you get. How desperate. How shameless. ‘I could eat a Macdonalds!’
This is some statement, you know, as every hamburger in the entire looniverse is constructed by Macdonalds from the unwitting folk who drop through the bottoms of Teleporter booths. She really must be hungry. I hear her intestine complaining to her liver between each of these dreadful old toons. And why are all the worship-riddled computers looking at her in that intense manner. Control yourself gel!
They have tuned into the frequency of her rumblynesses, which by some quirk of the script is broadcasting in binary killer-hurts. Their ancient scribe and lawgiver, the everlasting ZX81, decodes her gastric sermon. I fear the worst. Always loathed German sausage. And it’s even worse than that. Its Currah speech unit wheezes and splutters, ‘Lo... !’ The congregation is mesmerised, ‘and even lower! Hear ye the milk of Amnesia. The Goddess speaks from within!’
‘Her bowelly bits speaketh unto us! What sayeth they?’ chant the machines. ‘They gurgleth that the time is Nigh!’ That late! I feel like an MSX in the house of Dick’s son. Hopeless. The fatal words are uttered. ‘Ye second coming is upon’s. Hear ye the message of the Goddess Guts.’ Tamara has guts alright, and kicks in the ZX’s ancient little brain.
Why does there have to be some action every 1,000 words? What’s with you readers? Can’t we sleep for once, or have a conversation with an acned programmer, or eat? No use, here comes the action. Time to watch Tamara faint, sliding delicately down the jukebox, to make skin-cooling contact with the silicon deck, at the exact moment when...
There is a clap of thunder, and applause for the lightning. A Macdonalds teleporter materialises by our throne. I bait my breath, hook a pregnant pause, and out steps... in great bounds of coincidence... Tamara Knight with a Louse in her ear!! Our originals seem to have escaped the hamburger death on the planet Pynkfloid, and they are not happy.
Tamara 1 spits venom at our goddess Tamara’s crumpled nakedness, and uses words last heard on the dread crimeworld of Krowcha. But my little Tamara is plenty smart. Her eyes spring open, and she wriggles like a contract lawyer between the enraged legs of her former self, using only one of the aforementioned words in her ‘So long, sucker!’ She slams the teleport knob without checking the co-ordinates.
How did Tamara 1 escape the hamburger mincers? How will she enjoy being eternal goddess to a bunch of loony hardware? Where will Tamara 3 end up before the page ends? What happens to Tamara 2 as we drop her through the trapdoor to burgerville? Do we get to eat soon? Who gives a mouse anyway? There is an awesome nothing, and we have arrived at our predestination. I hope the folks hereabouts are broadminded. Tamara has lost one of her add-ons.
I really feel that we should keep the door shut. ‘But I’m so HUNGRY!’ she moans, exposing herself to the outside world. On her head be it. At least her crown is still in place. We stumble into pastures green, where lions lay with lambs, lapping sell-by-domesday milk’n’honey, and a crinkly man with a plastic halo nailed to his head minds the biggest Memory Bank in kingdom come. ‘Welcome to Heaven,’ he grins.
I transform myself from a small tongue inside Tamara’s shell-like, into a thimblish device, covering her left utilitarian node. I feel a bit of a twit. We approach the terrorist-proofed Pearly Gates, where the ginger-bearded Saint awaits, his palsied digits trembling atop the great Records Computer, his smile broadening all the while.
‘And what might your name be?’ he wheezes. ‘Tamara Knight, sir. Only daughter of Theresa Green and batch 69 of donor Orson Cart, sir.’ ‘No, not you, my dear. What is the name of that disgusting creature clinging to your node?’ I think he means me. Attack is the best form of cowardice.
‘You’re not Saint Peter!’ I shriek, ‘Identify yourself in the name of the Macdonalds Teleporter Corporation!’ The old fool blinds me with his shining baldness, as he brings his toothless grin uncomfortably close to our intimacy. ‘My name is Saint Clive, you currupted data. Saint Peter was made redundant in the cut-backs, when the National Soul Board was privatised.’
My memory banks tell me that this is a fellow not to be trifled with. Indeed, in the dim lies of prehistory, he killed an entire planet of shopkeepers with something dire called Pandora. Apparently they died laughing. ‘Now tell me your name, or I’ll tweak you!’ I take a deep breath. It used to belong to Tamara. ‘My name is L.O.U.S.E. Living On Unemployable Serving Employer; personal neutron bomb and advisory unit #3.142, your Saintliness.’
The Great Records Computer computes, prepares a deep-pan quatro staglione pizza, serves four, then prints out my details in letters of fire on a large stone tablet, held aloft by a geezer who reminds me of that charlatan Heston. Saint Clive’s smile disappears as he reads; ‘LOUSE #3.142; Unscrupulous, mercenary, evil, vicious little phart. Slightly superior to computer journalist. Go to Blazes, buster!’
‘But I never sold my soul to the Devil!’ I protest, ‘I just rent it now and then.’ ‘Ah, souls.’ hisses the Saint, making an ominous thumbs-down signal. But hist! My dear Tamara speaks in my defence, telling the old boy what a chum I’ve been for not blowing her to Kingdom Come, but letting her teleport, and what a fine life form I am. For an evil vicious little phart.
The Saint reflects for an eternity or two, and then calls up Tamara’s data. He blinks in amazement. I blink in amazement. ‘Ouch!’ says Tamara. ‘Sorry,’ says I. ‘Holy Moses!’ says Moses. But there it is, in flaming printout. Tamara Knight; Sins: none; Immodest thoughts: none; IQ: none; Zitts: none; Highest score achieved playing Deus Ex Machine: 100%.’
‘Well,’ says the custodian of the Pearly Gates, ‘she’s perfect! Well, I’ll be damned!’ There is a modest implosion as Clive is obliterated by a low-yield autosuggestion, as a Great Voice booms from the cloudless sky. ‘MOSES! DIS IS DA BOSS SPEAKIN. TAKE OVER DA GODDAM FRON DOOR, AN SEN DAT GIRL TA ME!’ Poor Tamara shivers. It makes me dizzy. Moses looks nervous too, ushering us through the Gates.
A security cherub gives us the once over a couple of times, and Moses hands something to Tamara. ‘Hey kid, give these Mother Theresa Blades to the Boss will you. Take my advice, don’t mention ‘Cross Roads’. One more thing, watch out for terrorists. They’re out to get us for non-resolution of the plot, bad taste and giving Croucher a job. Good luck kid.’
So here we are. Moving effortlessly through pastures green, on a golden slobway, harp musac wafting through the scented air ducts, no hunger, no thirst, no misery, no pestilence, no Benny Hill, and no sign of an artificial clifffhanger with which to end this episode. ‘Some mistake surely’, I murmur to my Hostess. ‘Don’t call me Shirley, Louse.’ I doze off, happy, warm, a little curious about meeting my Maker.
A white dove flies above. Holy mackerel swim in the clear waters of life. The lillies of the field toil not. Banks make prophets. We ride through a breach of the promised land. The dove circles lower on its gentle slipstream of heavenly breeze. It grows from a fluffy snowdrop to a milky shadow. Tamara’s lovely voice softly sings an ancient psalm, ‘Love Missile something or other’. All is calm, all is bright.
The dove hovers behind us. It is carrying an olive branch. ‘Louse,’ yawns my firm, young Hostess. ‘Mmmmm,’ I yawn back. ‘Louse, that’s an awfully large dove landing on the... ulp!’ An unshaven hulk, in angel disguise, pokes a Fender Stratocaster at the fluffy bit at the base of Tamara’s spine. ‘Don’t make a sound sister. This is the Paradise Liberation Front. One false move and I’ll fill you full of lead guitar...’ Golly!
TO BE CONTINUED...