Eno, or possibly Carter, has been given a rather hard time by the merry pranksters of the 'so called' A-Team. How many different People are they going to pretend to be... ...and what happens after lunch?
I'd been so absorbed in this reconstructed memory, or whatever it was, that I didn't notice that the dirigible was still lowering overhead like a spiteful, grey, cigar shaped cloud. I heard someone who sounded like Gritpype Thinne saying, "Moriarty... lower the giant drinking straw! Eccles, get ready to suck as you've never sucked before... we haven't much time. You shouldn't have dropped him overboard, Bludnok! This could ruin our plans."
"Demmed fellah hadn't paid his fare, " said a quavering but indignant, military sounding voice as if this kind of thing happened every day. A huge candy striped red and white drinking straw was lowered from a hatch in the belly of the blimp and descended until it had surrounded me in my patch of warm sea water.
"All right Eccles, SUCK!", said 'Gritpype'. I felt my ears pop and the water level in the straw rose until I was half way between the sea and the Zeppellin. "What's the matter now?" "
"He's stuck, by Gad; like a water buffalo in a donga! Don't touch that, dwarf! Hand me the pliers!" barked Colonel Bludnok. A new voice that sounded like that of an Irish-cockney Village Idiot said, "Oimmm Zorry... Oi've run out of puff! Oimm afraid Oim not a very good sucker!". Somebody else who sounded like John Cleese said sharply, "Well, there'll be a better one along in minute... if you stick the end of the straw into the hose of this industrial vacuum cleaner..."
"All we need now, "said Thynne in his old Etonian sociopathic drawl, ".... is a right Charlie!" My ears popped again and a fountain of water gushed up onto the command deck of airship, which closed so promptly under my feet that I didn't even fall. "Oh, Hellaioe... Carter!" The gout of Mediterranean sea that had disgorged me on deck had already drained away through a metal grill, the holes of which then closed up till it matched the rest of the floor, which was the kind of matt grey that the Royal Navy had used to colour the non-shiny parts of its battleships.
"Knock it off Mentz, or Young whichever of one you it is.... " I yelled in a nasal voice, "I've had enough of this! Fun's fun, but to Hell wi' nonsense!", I added in a fake Glaswegian 'ned' accent.
A USA style canteen serving counter appeared in front of us. My aqualung had gone but I was still wearing the mask, snorkel and flippers as I flip flopped over to the lunch counter. "Trank!" I bellowed, "You can't leave me like this!" Trank's voice sounded in my ear saing "Oh yes I can...but I sensed that he had been overruled when my skin diving gear was replaced by the standard Village uniform of sports blazer and slacks.
Herr Professor Doctor Karl Young, Dean of the Existential Philosophy Department at the University College of Berkeley, California was at my elbow, still wearing his Norfolk jacket and light tan plus fours. He looked like TinTin's Grandfather would have done, I suddenly realised, boyish and adventurous but elderly and distinguished as well. He went ahead of me and chose 'ham and eggs' with the eggs over easy. I chose char grilled steak and chips, but didn't get any of the latter until I'd asked for 'French fries'. I poured myself a plastic cup of freshly pressed California orange juice from a dispenser like an American office water cooler while the Professor sniffed cautiously at a similar plastic mug filled from a another dispenser that claimed to serve tea and coffee. "I thought you'd have wanted to join me in a cup of tea..." he said, mildy, with a slight twinkle in his eye. I forebore to tell him that I rather wish he had joined me in their simmed but still very wet Mediterranean. "Let's join the A-Team at their table."
I wasn't sure I wanted to. For one thing there were now so many doctors here that it was beginning to feel like a Dr WHO convention. For another, Dr Karl had just bagged the place next to Dr Mentz. Trank sat on the opposite side of the table from me. He was wearing a faded green, unwashed looking T-shirt with 'Frog Hollow Day Camp' printed on it in what was once white lettering. His bush of curly dark hair had been pulled through a pair of 'scrunchy' hair bands into two short, puffed up pony tails which stuck out on either side of his head. "Hallo, Frank!", I said. He looked at me nervously. That meant I would have to sit between Karl and Quaternity. Something I was distinctly unhappy about. "What now?" I asked.
"Now we eat," said Dr Mentz, "I thought you said you were hungry."