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This Blip came about after someone in a Podcast dared Jack to write a story around a certain title and, like the over-confident idiot he is, he promised not only to do it but to have it up on the site that same day. Well – here it is.
If any lawyers for the BBC are here and think there’s something vaguely familiar about this story I would suggest they were wrong. Probably.
The Chicken and the Green Banana
“Did I ever tell you about the time I visited the ‘Nebulous’ while travelling around the known universe in my time-machine?” Grimly was the way she asked, shuddering inwards at the dark memories that the strong, brown liquid chased around her befuddled brain. There was slurring – quite considerable slurring.
The man on the stool next to him gazed out into space as myriad stars seemed to tumble lazily past the window of the great starship. “Yes,” he replied with a sigh. “You tell me every night, right around the time you take your fourteenth drink.”
The Doctor shook her head sadly, her short, unattractive hair cascading gently around her needlessly diverse shoulders. “Then I’ll tell you!” she told him.
He sighed, more loudly. “Nobody cares about your stories,” he told her, looking away. “Everyone stopped listening when you were that Scottish guy.”
“Exactly!” she said, raising her voice and holding up her finger before her slightly pink eyes. “And that’s the problem!”
He grimaced to himself, somewhat certain the problem was sitting right next to him.
“I hadn’t meant to end up on the Nebulous,” she began. “It was a hilarious accident that made me materialise on board the vessel, way back in the year 2333, or thereabouts.”
She paused for effect, sipping at a glass of space-whisky, which was the same as normal whisky, only it was produced by genetically engineering a special kind of broccoli that altered the urine in a special kind of dog. The urine from the dog was fed to a special kind of elephant—one that was confused about whether it was the kind that came from Africa or India, and had to be suffering from clinical depression brought on from gender-dysphoria. The tears of the elephant were collected under the light of the full moon by naked gorillas, but gorillas that had been raised by Russian alcoholics with Victorian English values, which made the act emotionally troubling for them. Those tears were given in payment to Malcolm Stevens, a middle-aged man from Shropshire who made really awful whisky in hundreds of old prison toilets. Nobody was quite sure what he did with the tears, or why he wanted them. The world government had a meeting about it and decided it was probably better not to ask.
The name ‘space’ was then added because nobody living anywhere with a nearby super-market would actually drink it. The economy of the future was a silly thing.
“You know, the space-whisky you’re drinking isn’t actually made that way?” he told her.
“Oh my space-god!” she exclaimed, looking at him and widening her eyes suddenly. She looked like a poor actor trying to convey a subtle range of emotions, but came across more like someone had slipped a very cold finger into her anus. “It’s like you’re inside my head!”
“No, it’s just that you say the same thing every single time,” he said wearily. “For the record, my name is Malcolm Stevens and I don’t make space-whisky.”
She looked at him unwaveringly, staring deeply into his soul. “You’re the man who makes space-whisky?!” she said in surprise.
“Sure,” he said with a weary shrug. “Why not? And you have a time-machine and are really an alien from another planet.”
“I am,” she said, taking another brain-rotting sip. “Did I ever tell you that I once visited a ship called, ‘The Nebulous’?”
He sighed and rolled his eyes. “Did you?” he grumbled.
Her eyes darkened. “There was a man there called, ‘Dave’!” she continued.
Malcolm, who definitely didn’t make space-whisky, repeated, “Dave Brown. Yes, you told us about him!”
She turned to gaze into his eyes. “But, did I tell you what he did?”
“Yes,” Malcolm said. “Repeatedly.”
“Then I will tell you just one more time.”
“You told me that repeatedly as well,” he said, rubbing his temples. “You know, there’s probably no such thing as Dave Brown.”
She snapped up excitedly, as far as her grasp on human expression would allow. It looked like a bored attention-seeker was simply reading an instruction to be emotional from a poorly-written script, but it more or less made the point. “Then how do you explain that such a thing does exist?”
Malcolm sipped on a glass of slightly yellow liquid that had never had anything to do with elephants, gorillas, dogs or any other silliness. This was almost pure ethanol squeezed right out of a fermented potato, as nature intended. “You got me there,” he said with a tired raising of his eyebrows.
“Why don’t I tell you what happened?” she said, sipping at the last dregs of her glass of space-whisky and swallowing hard. It was very important to drink it within three minutes, before the glass dissolved. You didn’t want to be drinking melted glass in the future as your ejected spleen could easily block the space-toilets. The legal ramifications didn’t bear thinking about.
His eyes rolled so hard that there was a not insignificant risk of brain-damage. After composing himself he said, “Sure. Why not…?”
Dave Brown entered the office without asking and sat down on a couch, making himself as comfortable as possible.
She couldn’t help but notice that he didn’t seem as uncomfortable as most of the people who came into her office.
“I’m not as uncomfortable as most of the people who come into your office,” he said.
She opened her mouth to speak, but he had evidently beaten her to it. She was confused and was about to become many hundreds of times more so.
“It’s not that I don’t care…” he said, and then paused for a moment to ruffle his brow thoughtfully. “Actually, I don’t know why I said that. The fact that I don’t care is exactly the reason.”
She frowned and checked her records. “I see you’re here for sensitivity counselling,” she commented, noticing the eight thousand, four hundred—give or take—infractions of company policy he had made since last Tuesday. This was definitely a bad time for them to have frozen all her overtime payments.
“Am I?” he said with a grin. “I couldn’t remember what this one was. Is it for the time I asked a passenger out on a date and offered to have her husband killed after she explained she was married?”
“Dear god!” she said in shocked surprise. Running an eye over the appalling list of infractions, she said more evenly, “According to this, you did that eighty three times today.”
“Eighty four!” he corrected pointedly. “By the way, are you married?”
She narrowed her eyes and glared at him accusingly, like a mother would when scolding a naughty overgrown adult child.
He sat up a little, shuffling in his seat. “My mother used to give me that look after one of her ‘dates’ if I didn’t return the right amount of change. She had a lot of dates after my dad stopped coming home. She quickly learned that those kinds of looks only work on people who care about them.”
“Are you a quick learner?” he added.
“I am not!” she snapped. Realising her mistake she snapped again, more forcefully, “I am,” which rather implied the opposite.
“So why do we need sensitivity counselling on a space-ship?” he asked. “I mean, aren’t we all grown up enough now to realise that other people’s opinions have no real bearing on our self-image, unless we’re the pathetically weak, and emotionally useless husks that we are, are we not?”
“We most certainly are not!” she exclaimed forcefully.
“Ah!” Dave said, nodding as if he now realised the error of his ways. “So some people are crazy and I have to be modified to accommodate their lack of grasp on reality, by someone with an even more tenuous grasp on reality.”
“Don’t you want to be sensitive?” she asked more softly, growing increasingly puzzled.
“I’m very sensitive!” he told her earnestly. “Last week I was on a date with a girl from the navigation department. Her personnel record said she had a poor relationship with her step-father, so I made a point of meeting her in the bar after work!”
“Dear god!” she said. “How did you even get to see her personnel record?”
“I was also dating a girl from personnel,” he said, as though such a question were ridiculous. “She’s one of those girls that you look at and think, ‘There’s no way that, before she’ll let you do anything, this girl likes being tied up with rope, covered in whipped-cream and have rap-lyrics shouted at her aggressively for hours while her feet are dipped into a bowl of angry fish.’ But it turns out that that’s very much not the case. Do you know the sort?”
“Dear god!” she gasped. “I don’t…”
Dave grinned sheepishly. “Oh, I do. It turns out I’m a terrible rapper, not very good at tying knots, have a mild allergy to whipped cream and don’t get on well with fish. Mind you, she said that was only fair because I wasn’t any good at what came after either. I don’t know what she was talking about—I had a great time!”
She whimpered softly, “But… sensitivity…”
“I’m getting to that,” Dave told her insensitively. “Before my date with the navigation girl, who had a name which I’m legally not allowed to repeat for legal reasons, and practically not able to for beer reasons, I had a shower. Mostly.”
“Sensitivity…” she whispered, her eyes looking very close to expelling tears of pure self-pity.
“I showered! That’s the height of sensitivity and possibly the reason my father left.” he said again. “I always shower before dates. After dates, the girl who was dumb enough to go out with me usually wants to shower. More frequently she wants to visit the ship’s clinic, and for me to sign a legal non-disclosure document. I carry them around with me now and got myself qualified as a notary. It’s a smart way of paying for dinner, I find.”
“No…!” she squeaked, the word preceded by a strange croaking sound coming from the back of her throat.
Because he clearly never knew when to stop, he continued, “So, have you ever dreamed of a date with a very mediocre-looking towel delivery expert, who has convinced himself he’s stunningly handsome until the entire crew has just wearily given up and agreed to go along with it, who actually isn’t very good at delivering towels and spends most of his time wandering around extorting money from the passengers?”
Even more weakly, she squeaked, “…No…!”
“That’s a relief!” he said with a beaming smile. “I don’t find you in the least bit attractive. It’s not that you’re not attractive…” He rolled his eyes thoughtfully, clearly giving it a good thinking-about. “Actually, I don’t know why I said that…”
She shook her head and gazed forwards into oblivion, her mouth lolling open in surprised horror. “How are you…” she said, the words melting into the very same oblivion.
“I don’t know how, specifically, but I have a certificate,” he said. “I will have three actually, when I’ve finished the one I’m making with crayons. The others were giving to me by doctors because my brain isn’t right, or something. I don’t know how these things work.”
“You’re crazy?” she suggested, a hopeful expression daring to flash across her face.
“One of us has to be, right?” He smiled knowingly. He looked her up and down as if working out the answer to a question nobody would ever dream of asking. “You’re not a doctor, are you?”
“No,” she admitted, desperately trying to take back control over the situation. It was not going to be a worthwhile use of her time.
“I can tell, because you’re not a man,” Dave told her very matter-of-factly in an even tone that would have disarmed an emotionally-charged gorilla, no matter how confused it was about its current state of dress.
Her mouth opened but nothing came out.
“Doctors are all men, you see,” Dave reasoned.
She snapped, almost angrily, “Women can be doctors!”
“Can they?” he asked curiously, rubbing his chin. “And yet I was right that you weren’t one. How strange.”
“No. But. But…” she began.
“To be fair,” he began. “All the doctors could be the same one doctor for all I know. Men all basically look the same to me and I’ve only ever met the one on this ship. There was another one who frequently examined me when I came aboard, but I later found him cleaning the floors and he was licking the handle of his broom quite suggestively. I was a little aroused, if I’m honest and took a broom to my last three dates.”
“They do?” she asked curiously, slightly relieved that he hadn’t said something more dramatically chauvinistic. “Men all look the same?”
“They’re a lot like women in that respect,” he told her, dashing the very last lingering hopes she might have.
She squeaked a hollow sound.
“You should be a doctor!” he suggested.
“Should I?” she said emptily, her eyes glassy, her voice a monotonous drone.
“No!” he told her with a sudden burst of enthusiasm. “You should be The Doctor, whatever that means!”
“The Doctor?” she frowned curiously, just taking it all in as her brain struggled to make sense of any of this.
“The one on the ship is pretty useless. He once diagnosed me with an advanced case of sociopathy with narcissistic tendencies, when it’s clear I’m suffering from paranoid-stupidity.”
“That’s a thing…” she said, almost managing to make it sound like a question.
“You actually lasted a little longer than him, I’m impressed. You would make a great doctor. He ended up being demoted to the cleaning department, which… now that I think about it…”
“I’m not qualified,” she told him.
Dave waved his hand dismissively. “Was President Biden qualified?” he asked, using a time-honoured joke that had somehow endured for several centuries and was still, to this/that day, used by people with such a weak grasp on history that he earnestly believed that America had been founded by people who believed in freedom from taxation. “You can be anything you want to be!”
“But…” she began, haltingly.
“You want to be The Doctor, don’t you?” he asked, suddenly seeming to take all this somewhat seriously. “Don’t you!”
“I… guess…” she muttered.
“Well, that’s decided, Doctor!” he said. He checked her name on her desk. “Poppins,” he read thoughtfully. “Doctor Karen Poppins.”
“It’s dreadful,” he told her. “I’d just tell everyone you’re ‘The Doctor’ and leave it at that. Just wear something stupid, act like a self-serving arsehole and everyone will just accept it.”
“Will they?” she said, frowning curiously.
He grinned and pointed to himself, nodding proudly. “It will add a much-needed air of mystery and give you some of that attention you look like you’re desperately craving.”
“OK,” she said, sounding very much more confused than she’d ever felt in her entire life. “But, this doesn’t make sense.”
“What ever does make sense? This whole thing could be a pocket universe, pushed out of mainstream reality so it now only manifests in the imagination of a sentient brick, and only exists when read about in a fictional account in a different pocket universe. Who knows how these things work? You could be an immortal alien for all we know. You could have a time-machine and fly around saving monsters. Being the first female Doctor will certainly be more fun than sitting behind that big blue desk of yours. The universe is a silly place – imagine bigger.”
She frowned to herself, rubbing her temples. “Should I be writing this down?” she asked.
“Too late!” he told her. “And I usually forget what I said within seconds of saying it. It avoids the need for an understanding of the concept of guilt, I find.”
“Right,” she nodded, thinking it all through. It made perfect sense, which should have bothered her, but enigmatically didn’t.
“So, I’m going to go now,” Dave told her. “There’s a married passenger on Deck-3 who’s only half the age of her husband, and he looks like a software billionaire who’s obsessed with a depopulation agenda. Another two weeks and he’ll probably turn into ‘Emperor Palpatine’.”
“Who?” she said, confused.
“I think he invented cornflakes. I didn’t have the world’s best history teacher. Or maybe I did. Who can tell anymore?”
The Doctor shook her head. “So I should write a report?”
“Nah,” Dave told her. “You’re The Doctor! You don’t write reports—the reports write you! Have fun with it!”
“Have fun with it, he said,” she said. “But what fun can I have now that I know the truth?”
“The truth?” said Malcolm. “The truth that you’re a sensitivity councillor on a cargo-ship with a crew of only eight people? The truth that your brain is mostly made from space-whiskey?”
She looked at him with a scowl. “I’m undercover!” she told him.
“Again?” he said. “Your secret is safe.”
“Give me another space-whisky,” she said to the barman.
“You know the way they make those things is actually remarkably simple,” Malcolm told her.
“I know the truth!” she screeched at him.
“It’s the genetically-modified juice of a green banana, injected into the eyeballs of a chicken, and the blood is simply drained out for human consumption. There’s nothing disgusting about it at all.”
“That’s what they want you to believe,” she retorted.
“Who, people like Dave?” Malcolm said, smiling to himself.
“Dave Brown?” the barman said, handing over a gently vibrating glass of poison. “The guy who delivers towels on the Nebulous? He dated my sister once, before she had herself turned into a fire extinguisher out of shame. It was the best thing that ever happened to my Mum, because the kitchen caught fire three weeks later.
“‘You can always have more daughters’, my Mum always said, quoting the title of the letter she received from Dave. He seems like a nice guy.”
There was silence, for just a moment.
“Oh,” said Malcolm.
“Fire extinguishers might try to take over the universe,” The Doctor said, narrowing her eyes. “Of course, they’ll have little mutant things inside them, and they’ll be super-intelligent and unable to walk up stairs.”
“Of course they will,” Malcolm said with a sigh. After watching her down the entire glass in a single gulp, he said, “You know those things cause massive brain-damage, paranoia, psychosis and delusions? Can you imagine if your whole life was just a paranoid delusion brought on by green bananas and chickens?”
“Right!” she said, grinning at his stupidity. “And in reality, I’m just a character in a story, in a universe that only exists in a fictional sense, in the imagination of a sentient brick, where I’m imagining myself to be a councillor, imagining herself to be a Doctor, who imagines herself to be an actress playing a time-travelling alien with a time machine? And all this is fuelled by a drink made from green bananas and chickens? Do you hear how ridiculous you sound?”
Malcolm sighed to himself, turned to the barman and said, “Every damn sensitivity councillor is the same, aren’t they?”
The barman nodded.
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