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This Blip breaks all the rules. It’s roughly three times the length its meant to be and it’s written by the wrong person. Rob and Dave are traditionally written by Jack with Seth taking on the editing and polishing roles but this time, a ripple in the fabric of the universe reversed the process.
Why they bothered is anyone’s guess since the resulting story is almost exactly identical in style.

The Oar of Absencience

Seth Godwynn

The door opened.

You two again…”

The captain shook his head with dismay while massaging his temples with his fingers. His expression was one of a man who, some time ago, had passed the emotion of exasperation and was now hurtling towards a much darker place altogether.

The ginger-haired one glanced across at the mousey-haired one, who appeared slightly more nervous than usual for a routine reprimand at the Captain’s office, his usual level of nervousness being somewhere approaching ‘none whatsoever.’

Here we are again,” he said. “Your entertainment for the day has arrived!” There was a slight pause that wasn’t as unwelcome as he was. “You’ll be pleased to know, I’ve quite thoroughly prepared myself for this. There was even talk of a shower being involved, although I do confess that the idea never went much beyond talk, and the ‘talking’ part didn’t actually originate with me. And on the topic of strange smells, may I compliment you on how fresh your office smells. Do you have one of those industry class air filtration systems and a hermetically sealed entranceway by any chance?”

As you say, here you are again,” repeated the Captain, not quite word for word, because he had to switch to the second person for first grade level grammatical reasons (there’s actually an entire chapter on the topic in A Novel Approach, available free right now at edgeverse.org). Considerations of such elemental things seemed, oddly, foremost on his mind. “Which one are you again?”

Which one am I?” he said, turning to the one he wasn’t.

Dave,” he said back.

I would, apparently, be Dave, your majesty, although to be fair, I can’t always be certain which one of us I am, nigh on identical as we are.”

Aside from the bright ginger hair?” the Captain suggested. “And the fact that you both look quite remarkably different?”

Yes. Apart from all of those things. We’re remarkably indistinguishable.”

The Captain shook his head some more, blissfully unaware of just how more of this there was yet to come. The pain between his ears was mounting steadily, which seemed the least of his concerns.

Tell me, why is it that whenever anything out of the ordinary happens aboard my vessel, it’s only a matter of time before one, or both of you, is stood before me to account for it?”

Law of averages?” suggested the much more ginger-haired of the two.

The Captain ignored him. “A passenger complains of hearing the tortured screams of a thousand Irish martyrs every time he opens the refrigerator door, and here you are.”

I didn’t think the setting was literal…”

And thanks to my ceaseless pursuit of science, you now know better. You’re welcome, by the way.”

The Captain continued, “An inebriated male is reported stalking the corridors, naked, trying to sell pencils to passing passengers, and here you are.”

So that’s where all my pencils went?”

They’ve gone to a better place now, Rob!”

An underground gambling ring is established in the lower decks attracting all kinds of undesirables to stow aboard at each rest stop, and here you are. All this in the space of a single day!”

And what a day!” recalled the mousey-haired one of the pair, ‘apparently Dave,’ as if somewhat proud of it all.

What a day indeed. It is a day that has rendered the ship adrift in hostile territory, thousands of light years from even the remotest transit route; the communications array sabotaged, the propulsion system ejected and destroyed; the entire crew and passenger manifest in comas, being treated by nobody because that includes the medical staff. And, to top it all off, an armada of heavily armed, and unnecessarily aggressive Swiss war-cruisers is heading this way after picking up a transmission from this very ship prior to the communications sabotage containing such horrifically racist and warmongering remarks that I dare not repeat them here lest they remain on the record as having originated from my own lips.

And, surprise surprise, here you are.”

Could be worse…” suggested the ginger-haired one, ‘apparently Rob,’ somewhat dismissively.

That’s usually my line!” the other one remarked with a grin. “Come captain, what makes you think that this had anything to do with us?”

Weren’t you listening? You are the only two people onboard this ship not currently in a coma. Who else could it have been?”

I think I was mostly listening,” remarked ‘apparently Dave.’ There generally is some unconscious filtering going on, I will admit to that.”

Law of averages…” suggested ‘apparently Rob,’ again.

The only think approaching good news is that the armada won’t be within firing range for a while yet, so as this will likely be the last thing that any of us will ever do, and for the sake of good record keeping, I want you to explain to me exactly why we now find ourselves in this highly specific predicament.”

The two exchanged nervous glances.

Well…” began ‘apparently Rob’ cautiously, “I suppose it can’t hurt us now, but we were actually discussing this very topic while outside waiting to come in.”

Outside waiting to come in

What do you think the captain wants to see us about this time, Dave?”

I’m guessing it has something to do with the armada of heavily-armed Swiss war-cruisers bearing down on us in response to a highly abusive communication, and our being unable to do anything about it on account of how the ship is dead in the water in an area nobody would ever think to look for it, even if the radio hadn’t been sabotaged, and the entire ship’s crew and passenger manifest wasn’t in a coma.”

He can’t think we had anything to do with that, surely?!”

It doesn’t sound anything like the sort of thing we’d do…” There was some rubbing of a chin. “Not on a Monday.”

And yet, Dave, nothing seems to be coming to mind. I checked my log entries for the past few days and all it says is, ‘Today I was ginger and boring and hated my life. I wish I was Dave.’ I actually remember writing it.”

Some facts are hard to argue with, Rob!”

Indeed. But I can’t help but feel there was something I missed.”

It has been a veritable buzz of excitement this past week, a riprolling rollercoaster of rolloping rickersnatchers. One could be forgiven for being distracted, and not seeing something that may have been directly under your nose.”

A ‘riprolling rollercoaster of rolloping rickersnatchers’? I’m never letting you spend an entire day watching adverts for breakfast cereal ever again.”

It was for science, Rob!”

I do the science parts, and I should have seen something, Dave. That’s kind of my thing, to poorly compensate for the fact of my ginger and lackluster existence. How about you? Did you notice anything, or do anything that might have had something to do with this? And when I ask this, I really am more interested in the second part, because I know it was you that did it!”

I did notice you were ginger and exceedingly lackluster, but with a taste that can’t be beat!”

No more breakfast cereal commercials!”

I don’t think there are any left.”

Good! So what did you do?”

Me? Rob, you wound me!”

Well, Dave? What really happened?”

I’m not really sure where to start…”

How about the beginning?”

OK, but it’s a bit of a long story and it’s somewhat hampered by the fact that I see crunchy little rings of expanded rice whenever I close my eyes, so you’ll need to bear with me here.”

You have a captive audience, Dave.”

Well you see, there was this girl…”

“… And the rest, as they say, is history.”

That’s it?”

That’s it.”

Dave, you can’t just say, ‘There was this girl, and the rest as they say is history.’ Nobody is going to be persuaded by that.”

I dunno. The Commander of the Swiss armada might. I’m sure he was probably young once too. Boys will be boys, and all that!”

Well, I think we’re going to need a better explanation than that ready, by way of backup. Just in case… Why don’t you elaborate a little on exactly what happened. Start at the beginning. The actual beginning this time.”

Very well then. It all started a delicious crunch, just after we came on board…”

I first noticed her, this shining beacon of perfection in a sea of mediocrity, as I was finishing the breakfast shift. I always like to stay to the finish of that shift, because a good breakfast really is key to effective towel distribution. It doesn’t hurt that the two hours work it robs me of really helps with the hustle!

She was just coming in to begin her lunch shift as I was finishing my 9th breakfast, purely for science, so I switched on the charm and invited her to come and sit down.

We got chatting about the usual stuff that you wouldn’t know about, and it came up in conversation that she’d never eaten an authentic Indian curry. Actually, I think it may have come up specifically because I asked her, ‘Have you ever eaten an authentic Indian curry?’ the moment she sat down. This might have somewhat confused her since I was crunching down a delicious mouthful of ‘Wheaty-Fluffs’ at the time, so wheaty and full of fluff that you won’t even care about the slight aftertaste of damp cardboard.

They go less well with lime-pickle than you think they will. It’s somewhat like mixing a car with a head injury and expecting to have a safe ride home.

But the point was, she hadn’t, so I knew this was my chance to shine.

Now, I think we both remember what happened the last time I made an authentic Indian curry. To recap, I put it on the menu as a means of soiling my pants based on the assumption that I would win a bet, and that you’d have to clean my underwear for a month. I was literally planning to shit myself out of pure spite, and not even the malicious kind of spite that ‘Wheaty-Fluffs’ are essentially made from. This was more of a kind of light-hearted, principled and benevolent spite between friends, that one might expect from such a civilised age, from a true gentleman who now fully understands that a whole jar of Indian condiments has no place in the middle of his breakfast cereal.

Needless to say, as I’m sure you remember, it all went a teeny tiny bit wrong, apart from the shitting myself part which was executed flawlessly. The crew and passengers’ stomachs were simply not sufficiently sophisticated to eat something that wholesome, honest and true to its humble roots. I mean, sure, nobody actually ‘died.’ Still, it was more than just a stain in my underpants and your bedsheets. Ever since that day, I’ve felt a strong moral obligation to put the record straight on the issue.

Besides, what are the odds of something like that happening twice?

So we headed to the kitchen, and with the help of a few rapidly programmed protein printers, I started to put together what I knew, with absolute certainty, would be the ultimate culinary experience: the mother-load of spice; the curry to end all curries!

However, there was what could be described as a slight oversight on my part, with regards to the procurement of certain specific constituent parts, and that was that several of the more noxious pathogens I was able to find in the kitchen virology vault had evidently mutated and were now capable of airborne transmission. Several escaped my deliciously ethnic stew and found their way into the ventilation system. Within mere minutes, the crew started dropping like very heavy, inelegant flies.

Other than that though, it was a great success!

From the sounds of it, we should count ourselves lucky we weren’t poisoned ourselves, Dave!”

There’s no such thing as luck, Rob! There’s a perfectly good explanation for our being unaffected.”

That being?”

We obviously built up a natural immunity after the last ‘mostly harmless’ curry-related pandemic.”

That does make sense, actually. I remember just how violent that was, and I’m glad it wasn’t all for nothing—the medical team were replicating those long wooden sticks that they used to de-externalise human anuses around the clock and still couldn’t keep up with demand. I heard that a lot of chairs were cannibalised for that purpose.

But surely that put the girl out of the picture?”

What girl?”

The one that this entire story is about.”

What story?”

This one!”

Right. Hold tight onto your swollen love-handles, Rob. She’s not out of the picture—not yet, anyway. She was perfectly fine for about the next four or five hours.”

Oh, really? It seems very convenient and contrived that she was the only other person that was spared, albeit temporarily. Well, her and evidently the Captain. But, I guess this is your story…”

I’m glad you brought that up, Rob. I actually have a working theory about that. You see, she ate a bowl of the curry—and she was the only one who did. My thinking is that the airborne pathogens had developed an intelligent offensive strategy, as they slowly evolved into tiny flying monkeys, and saw the curry as a sort of Trojan-Horse. They obviously decided to bide their time with her, safe in the knowledge they’d make a much more effective assault via the stomach, buying her some extra time in the process, or, some such nonsense. I don’t know, I find with pandemics, you can just make up any old crap and people will generally just go along with it.”

Well, Dave, that certainly sounds entirely scientifically plausible. An alternative explanation is that perhaps some of the pathogens were simply neutralised by some of the other pathogens, partially leastways.”

Exactly, Rob. I usually find the truth is somewhere in the middle, and I make a point of never rejecting any theory that includes the evolution of flying monkeys!”

But this doesn’t explain the… er… anything else at all, really. Do you have anything further to add?”

Why, yes Rob. There’s quite a surprising amount more!”

So, while making the curry, we were chatting about how my interest in ‘Slicy-Ricies’ had declined somewhat after they replaced their Ninja mascot for reasons of cultural sensitivity, and I might have exaggerated about just how long I’d been on the ship by a factor of about 50 years or more. As you‘re all too aware, on our regular ship, the female crew are quite knowledgeable of my tendency to exaggerate but things are different here, for no reason I can fathom. It’s almost like our lives are being approached from a completely different perspective than usual, and I’m not all that sure I like it.

In any case, she was almost squealing in delight as she asked me if I’d give her a tour of the facilities! With everybody else effectively out of the picture, I figured that would be dead romantic—just the two of us, the whole ship to ourselves, give or take the odd ginger intrusion.

So, our first port of call was to the engine rooms. It took a bit of time to find them and we ended up walking the length and breadth of the ship about five times over, but all the corridors look the same so I don’t think she even noticed to be honest. People aren’t good at noticing things, I find. At least if she did notice, it certainly didn’t register on me.

So—long story short—we found the engine rooms, shifted some of the comatose bodies about so we could access the control panels, and there they were. The glorious twin beating hearts of this proud vessel.

I could tell she was impressed! That’s when she asked me how fast the ship could go. I suggested, ‘Why don’t we find out?’ After all, how difficult could an engine be to operate?! Ginger people can work engines, as far as I know.

Well, as it turned out, it’s a lot harder than you would think. A lot of the controls aren’t clearly marked in easy to understand language, and several also require you to have at least 7 hands and arms that are 13 feet long with multiple articulations. There were a lot of numbers involved too—difficult complex numbers that kept changing all the time. I thought it would be more like flushing a toilet.

But, as you know, I don’t like to give up, and before I knew it we were going flat out. She was clearly both astonished and aroused, as anyone would be. I could actually feel the wind in my hair, because I believe some parts of the engines were air cooled, and were starting to get rather hot, hot enough that the panels that keep the aforementioned hot air where it was meant to be where now not even remotely close to where they were meant to be. Also, while I couldn’t be certain about what all the numbers meant, it appeared we had somehow travelled about 1,000 light-years off course. I’m pretty sure that’s not even possible but this story is so different to the other ones that who knows what the rules are?

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to slow a ship going that fast, but I have to say it’s not as easy as it sounds. Luckily, I remembered an old fishing-boat Captain telling me once the advice his father had passed down to him, and his father before him for countless generations. ‘Dave,’ he had said. ‘Whenever you’re in doubt, try reversing the polarity of the warp-conduit and re-routing it through the main deflector array.’ Sound advice, and as it happened, there was a button right there on the dashboard for doing just that. Finally, it was just like flushing a toilet and this was my time to shine!

Needless to say it did the trick.

Sort of.

We slowed down alright, but it wasn’t quite as smooth as I would have hoped it to be. Also, the engines didn’t seem to enjoy it much either. They got increasingly hotter and hotter, hot enough to melt a small star, and before I knew it, the emergency systems had kicked in, blasted the entire propulsion array out into space, and imploded it with a microscopic anti-matter black hole disposal unit.

I know this, because the display monitors could evidently be surprisingly helpful when they wanted to be. In hindsight, it might have been worth consulting them first, but some jobs are better learned as you’re going along.

And unfortunately, it rather put us in a bit of a pickle with regards to our continued mobility. Interestingly, this is exactly the same way that I had learned to flush a toilet. True story!

So, Rob, as you can see, I had nothing at all to do with the engines being destroyed.”

Nothing to do with it?! You reversed the polarity of the warp conduit and re-routed it through the main deflector array! That’s practically the same thing as begging it very very nicely to please self eject and blow up!”

You seem to know an awful lot about not blowing up engines, Rob. Your refusal to share this information at a critical juncture has directly resulted in our current predicament.”

What?! You’re blaming me now?!”

Well, it clearly wasn’t my fault—I have thirteen certificates that prove that I don’t know any better. But, we’re getting off track. There may yet be a little more to my story…”

So the whole engine blowing up thing was a bit of a downer, albeit with a quite impressive fireworks display, and I had a girl to impress. So, I decided to get on with the tour. The next stop was the communications suite, since the weapons-room was much harder to find than you would expect.

Now as you obviously don’t know, nothing impresses a lady of class like juvenile pranks, and the armada of heavily armed Swiss war-cruisers that the sensors were picking up on the flashing red thing gave me the perfect idea. We all know how humourless the Swiss can be when it comes to insults, so I penned the most grotesquely insulting message I could fathom. If you thought that shitting a kidney out after one of my curries was bad, this message would make your skin peel off and your balls shrivel up. I doubt even The Poet, Al Warcock could have manipulated language to this degree of perfection.

Thankfully, it was designed only to have that effect on men. The girl read it, giggled shyly, and asked me if I was actually going to send it to the Commander of the armada.

Obviously, I didn’t, but I had to make her think that I had…

How did you do that then?”

I sent the message.”

What?!”

Ship regulations state clearly that outgoing mail isn’t picked up until the next morning, so I figured I’d just go and retrieve it before then. No harm done!”

I’m fairly certain, Dave, that this only applies to physical mail items. Electronic messages are sent and received instantaneously.”

Again, this is information I could have used some hours back, Rob. You’re really letting the side down here.”

So the message was, in fact, sent then?”

And, in fact, received. The Commander was evidently not very happy about it because the reply he sent was so utterly vicious that it literally melted the circuits of the communications unit leaving us incommunicado. I had to pour beer all over it just to put out the fire.”

It caught fire?!”

Well, it hadn’t exactly caught fire, yet, so it was really more of a precaution.”

So you hadn’t actually confirmed that the message had melted the circuits at all?”

I hadn’t, no. Nor had I confirmed a message had even been received. I just sort of assumed one would have been.”

So let me get this straight. You walked up to what was in all likelihood a perfectly functioning communication unit and poured beer over it, rendering it useless? Exactly how much beer are we talking here?”

A LOT of beer, Rob. I hope you weren’t planning on drinking any for the remainder of the voyage, because I don’t think there’s much left. This is the sort of thing that happens when beer is free, for so many reasons.”

I don’t think there’s much voyage left either. But, I think the bigger problem with your assessment is that communication circuits don’t just melt down because the language used in a message was a little bit strong! That’s not a thing that happens!”

Well, as you clearly know this and I don’t, you should be partially blamed for that too. This isn’t looking good for you, Rob. You’re gonna be in big trouble!”

Bigger than we already are?!”

And that’s when you called us into your hermetically sealed air-filtered office.”

The Captain stood there, twitching, his jaw hung open, blinking loudly, a posture he had adopted shortly after Rob’s tale had begun and maintained until the bitter end. Eventually, he scratched his chin, and began to speak.

As a Captain of a space fairing vessel,” he began. “I have seen and heard many a terrible thing—things that would seed nightmares in your darkest dreams. But never in my life have I heard anything so terrible, so depraved, so ungodly, as what you just told me here today.

Still, there’s hardly any point in punishing you for it now. The armada has arrived and an invasion party has already breached our docking bays. It’s only a question of time now before we’re reduced to the elements from whence we came. It’s all quite poetic, really.”

And just then, with a slight fizzle, the entire left side of the Captain’s head disappeared, taking a fairly reasonable part of the right side with it. This unfortunate turn of events left Rob and Dave looking around anxiously and confused. The Captain slopped on the floor, a lopsided smile on the remains of his charred face as his foot twitched in time to the ‘happy birthday’ song.

What happened?”

I don’t know, Rob. Maybe he didn’t fancy hanging around to meet the invasion squad, and willed himself a way out?”

I wish I could do that…”

We all wish that, Rob!”

Suddenly, a voice boomed from the corridor. “There’s only room for one Captain on this ship, wouldn’t you say?!”

With a bang, a smash, and a subsequent clatter, the door was kicked right off its hinges and in marched a squad of heavily armed, and hugely built soldiers, with immaculate blonde hair and sharply chiselled jaws.

Leading the squad was the tallest and most decorated of them. He had a nicer helmet than the rest of them too. It had a little stripe on it.

Dave and Rob looked on in stunned silence.

As you two seem to be the only conscious lifeforms on this vessel, I think it’s time for us to have a little chat. I would have done so by radio while confirming docking protocols for invasion, but I couldn’t. Do you want to know why? Because the message one of you two swamp rats sent me was so viciously obscene that it literally melted the circuits of my communications unit.”

I told you that could happen, Rob!”

SHUT UP! Now, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t even have bothered boarding because I can blow you up perfectly well from space.”

You know we’re technically in space over here too…”

SHUT UP! But it looks like you’ve gotten yourselves so far out of your depth that you’ve found yourself up the proverbial creek without a proverbial paddle.

So I’m betting you’ve probably got a good story on your hands that’ll go down well at the space bars. They love good stories there, and I like to tell good stories, preferably of tragic events that have happened to other people, often caused by me, but not exclusively so.

I’m going to give you a chance to explain yourselves and, if I like your story, I might not blow up your ship straight away!”

Dave glanced around awkwardly, while Rob shook his head, pleading almost.

Well, you see,” he began. “There was this girl…”

“… And the rest, as they say, is history.”

That’s it?” said the Commander. He scowled at the two for a moment, a couple of moments… a short collection of moments that went on for way too long. Uncomfortably too long.

Suddenly he broke into a broad smile. “Well, say no more! I understand perfectly!”

You do?!”

Of course! I was a virile young man once, full of spunk and peptitude!”

Please choose your words more carefully. I aim away from the low-hanging fruit but I’m only human!”

When I was your age, I used to get up to all sorts of mischief. Once I inserted some recreational dynamite into a horse’s rear end—don’t worry, it wasn’t my horse. I took it up a mountain and caused an avalanche that wiped out an entire village. I often fondly reminisce over the time I used a bag of coins and a public phone to cause a vicious war between three neighbouring clans that kept them fighting for two whole decades! Fun times, fun times! And you know what? There was always a girl involved somewhere. Boys will be boys, I say!”

So, we’re all good? We’re free to go?”

Sure, why not! Although I don’t know where you think you’re going to go to without even basic propulsion. Tell you what though, why don’t I tractor you to the nearest transit lane and sort you out a distress beacon. I’m sure you’ll be rescued within a week at the latest.”

Dave gave a visible sigh of relief as Rob shook his head wearily.

You know, for a vicious gnarly space Commander of a Swiss war armada, you’re a pretty alright guy!”

I wouldn’t go that far,” bellowed the Commander with a boisterous laugh. “But if I’m not mistaken, I can smell an authentic Indian curry wafting in. I can almost taste the pathogens… I hope you made enough for the whole crew!”

Funny you should bring that up. Several of the constituent ingredients mutated, and it’s now self-replicating. What started out as single batch has taken over the whole kitchen, with a disappointing lack of flying monkeys thus far. I’ve locked it down, but it’s only a matter of time until that blows, taking half the bulkhead with it. I would imagine that there’s enough for your crew, sir. There’s all they could eat and more! You’d actually be doing us a favour.”

Another favour,” said the Commander.

On that note,” interjected Rob. “I wonder if we might risk asking for just one more.”

Go on…”

It’s just that while we appreciate your not blowing us up, and then dragging us to safety, it seems that when we do eventually get picked up, there’s going to be rather a lot of explaining to do. We’ve made what I would assume is a really quite expensive ship effectively useless, and quite possibly killed the entire crew with what amounts to a chemical weapon. I’m no legal expert, but where we come from, I believe these are considered capital crimes: wonton mass destruction and heinous crimes against humanity respectively, and I gather the penalties are quite harsh. They’re up there with high treason!”

You’re in a pickle alright! And not one of those meagre sachets of lime-pickle that sits in the fridge for years, forgotten: I’m talking about the proud gherkin, the mightiest of pickles. That’s what you’re in! I’m just not sure what you think I can do to help.”

Well, I was thinking… Could we say you did it?”

Let me get this straight… You want to tell your earth government that I, Commander of the Swiss Armada, attacked your vessel, destroyed its engines and communicators, and poisoned your crew, and you’re asking for my permission?” It wasn’t quite a question, more of a shout, an unpleasantly ugly shout at that.

Kind of,” answered Rob. “Yeah… A bit…”

Well of course it’s alright! We’ve got a reputation to keep! Also it would make a great story! Go on boys, give the ship a once over. Blow up some stuff, have fun with it. Put on a good show!”

Oi oi!” shouted his troops in unison, before about turning, and marching out at the double.

Curry then…”

Epilogue

Well, that a fun adventure. Remember when we used to have adventures like that all the time? It was just like old times!”

Just like old times? When exactly are you referring to, Dave?”

Last Tuesday?”

Ah, yes. The halcyon bygone days of last Tuesday…”

You know what I mean. Me being cool, you being ginger and boring and spoiling all the fun, grand adventures told entirely by mostly one-sided witty banter. And it all worked out in the end!”

I think that’s rather a matter of perspective.”

There you go, good old boring Rob again. Go on then, explain to me this other perspective of yours.”

Well, the last time we were sat around describing our predicament, the ship was dead in the water with the engine and communications equipment destroyed, the entire ship’s manifest, minus us two and the Captain was comatose and in serious need of medical intervention that they’re unlikely to get any time soon, and a rather angry armada of Swiss war cruisers was rapidly heading our way with undoubtedly ill intent. And to make matters worse, it was also revealed that the ship’s supply of beer had been exhausted in a way that borders on alcohol abuse.”

What’s the point you’re trying to make, Rob?”

Only one of those things has changed, and that was only out of pure luck, and way against the odds. We’re also still facing charges for capitol crimes when we get back, and getting the Swiss to pretend it was them may have just made things worse. We’ll be very lucky indeed if we don’t end up spending the rest of our lives in prison, Dave.”

I wouldn’t worry about it, Rob.”

Oh, don’t worry about it. I hadn’t thought of that. And that will sort out all the problems then, will it?”

I would think so. In any case, none of this happened so it’s all fine.”

What do you mean, ‘none of this happened’? How did everything that just happened not happen?”

Rob, you’re such a clumsily pathetic creature, do you really think that all this hilarious nonsense could really be attributed to anything that has you vaguely connected to it?”

I don’t…”

There’s a jolly good reason why this adventure seems like it was written by a completely different author to our normal daily grind.”

Stop it, Dave. It’s not funny when you pretend to be breaking the forth wall.”

Fifth wall, I think. This is a story inside a story. This is the story of a Captain who was reading a hilariously entertaining report about happenings on another vessel as he contracted a far less hilarious virus, which caused him to imagine the worst explanation possible for the completely insane things he went on to do next. It’s the tale of a man who’s heard the exploits of a thoroughly brilliant and charismatic creature and his bewildering dreadful sidekick, and imagined himself a small slice of such excellence.”

What? No!”

Actually, yes!”

So you’re saying that none of what I remember actually happened, and we’re just figments of somebody else’s imagination?”

Who knows what I’m saying? I’m sure the audience is just as confused as you are at this point. Perhaps, even more so!”

So… What does this mean then?”

Exactly!”

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