The Elsie & Nora dialogues, 4: The Orange Crate

– When I was a tiny girl I lived in an orange crate with Sputnik the Space Earwig and it told me the secrets of the stars.
– Did you really?
– No.
– Who really lived in the orange crate?
– Laika the Space Dog.
– Really.
– A terrier. But it downloaded Laika’s consciousness.
– Did it?
– No.
The terrier would never come out of the orange crate so one day I crawled in and it was conducting an entire choir of earwigs.
– Was it?
– No.
One day it was snowing and an orange glow came from the crate so I crawled in. The terrier snarled but the earwig welcomed me.
– Did it?
– No.
They had a lovely warm fire going made of the dried bodies of ants and were sipping hot Future Juice.
– No they didn’t and they weren’t.
– No.
I would curl up on a mat of matted curls the earwig had snipped away and listen to their tales of other worlds.
– But did you?
– No, I didn’t.

Avian Lactation

Is it time yet to talk about avian lactation? Our reporters lift the lid on the latest displacement crisis to hit Chimerica: crop milk!
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Crop milk is outed as a major ingredient in deadly Future Juice, Chimeric Times reporters reveal in this avian lactation exclusive!

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Disturbed time-travelling teenage squabs discovered in Dark Cages. They could be from any historical period. 

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A spokesthing from the Ministry of Time said earlier, ‘That’s the thing about pigeons – if they came from the future, how would we know?’

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The Crop Milk Scandal is spreading: reports are coming in that penguins and flamingos may also be involved! 

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Officials at the Kryptozoo, where the elephant prawns are fed on an exclusive diet of fresh flamingo, assure us there’s no contamination.

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Meanwhile at the Temple of the Angry Penguin God, worshippers have assembled in a tightly packed circle in the nave, and are slowly rotating

Toad Club

All the toads sit around in Toad Club in weskits drinking mustard out of tiny eggcups. Lizards serve, with beer bottle-tops for trays.

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Toad Club is convened in the heart of a different oak each year. Woodpeckers work for months, hollowing out its halls and stairwells.

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Any toad who fails to stir at the end of each year is sealed up in Toad Club behind a great door made of hardened wood paste chewed by wasps.

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After a hundred years, the doors to old Toad Clubs are broken down by crows with bars and, often, the incarcerated toads are found alive.

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Frequently, these sealed-in toads are so high on mustard they have no idea a century has passed, and are discovered happily carousing.

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This phenomenon gave rise to the legend that toads know the recipe to Future Juice, and this in turn still leads to outbreaks of toad-licking.

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Would-be time travellers lie, stunned on toad venom, in the glades of the old forest, imagining that they are somewhere deep in the future.

Saint Gertrude and the Cat Puncher

‘Cat-Puncher – he punches cats:
why would he even do
a thing like that
unto a cat?’
(traditional air)

What is a little known fact is that St Gertrude, the patron saint of cats, was a notorious cat-puncher until God stepped in and said, ‘Stop!’

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Gertrude Cat-Puncher (as she was known at the time) had been out on on a punchy date with Mr Cat-Puncher and had just drawn back her fist.

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An adorable little ‘naughty torty’ tortoiseshell kitten was just staring at her unaware of the impending right uppercut when God intervened.

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God’s ‘Stop!’ was emitted by a passing starling with as it were no dog in the fight in the distinctive tones of a Southern Baptist preacher.

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‘Yew talkin to me?’ said Gertrude Cat-Puncher to the nonplussed starling, and Mr Cat-Puncher said, democratically, ‘Punch that goddamn bird!’

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‘This is the Lord thy God, Gertie, speakin to you thru this pore bewildered starlin, n I don’t want you punchin them cats no more!’ said God.

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‘That Mr Cat-Puncher yew been hangin round with, drinkin future juice n blasphemin, ain’t no good fer yew nor for cats,’ God continued.

*

‘It’s one uh them cat-lovin ventrilly-o-quislins,’ Mr Cat-Puncher said in Gertrude’s ear. ‘Jest punch the goddam starlin and we’re outa here.’

*

But Gertrude felt the light of the Lord illumine her heart within its bony cage, and she looked on the starling with joy: ‘I hear yuh, Lord!’

*

She seized that naughty torty by the tail n brought it down on the head of the evil tempter Mr Cat-Puncher, and went on her way a new woman!

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From that day to this her house has been full of cat piss and every bird within a three mile radius has been righteously deaded, Amen!

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And Mr Cat-Puncher saith unto the Lord, ‘What yew got against cat-punchin anyway? Have you seen the stupid self-regardin simpering brutes?’

*

And the Lord said unto Mr Cat-Puncher, ‘I made them that way so you could wipe the smile off uh their smug lil faces. Also I hate starlins.’

*

‘Mr God, yew got yuhself some problems I don’t wanna hear about.’
‘Mr Cat-Puncher, go yore way and we’ll discuss this when all cats is punched.’

Future Juice

1 Daft Days

‘This is a Ministry Of Time announcement: welcome to the Daft Days between Chimeramas and Hogmania. Please be aware the Daft Days may last several decades.’
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It is estimated that the amount of Future Juice consumed in the Northern Territories during the Daft Days could permanently destabilise Time.

*

Mmm, delicious Future Juice, proven to cure historicitis in nine out of ten time travellers!

*

‘Every year, following Hogmania, it takes longer for the clocks to start up, as though Time itself is hungover,’ says a Ministry spokesthing.

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Ministry officials, such as The Keeper of the Magnetic Key, have woken up hundreds of years away, and have had to be retrieved at public expense.

*

Without the Key, which is attuned to Magnetic Northern Time, no clocks in the Territories know in which direction to tick, with dire consequences.

*

Those of us who, like members of Hawkwind, have got stuck travelling ‘sideways through time’, understand the importance of Magnetic Northern Time.

2 Time Grooves

Future Juice is distilled from clepsydrae recovered by xenochronicitous drunkelews: droplets from the time grooves have strange properties.

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Attempts to make Future Juice in grandfather clocks have driven ‘Juiceleggers’ mad: Big Bill Backwards once ended up with sixty distinct eyeballs.

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‘I could see ma future n past n all their variations at one n the same time,’ Big Bill explained. ‘Jest for once, everythin made nonsense.’

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‘Course, when the Juice wore off, I’d no idea which eyeballs I was left. Been a bone a contention between me n the “Real Deal” ever since.’

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Attempts by the Ministry of Time to regulate Future Juice’s potency seem doomed: 8-25yrs is fairly dependable, but not in which direction…

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Certain Tasters are able to hop great distances into the future by careful blending, but return to the correct present is rare.

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Nonetheless, the Ministry is prepared to accept a degree of ‘natural wastage’ for the insights retrieved by true adepts.

Big Bill Backward’s True-Faced Western Tales, 6: The Halcyon Kid

The Halcyon Kid & Pal‘They called him the Halcyon Kid back then, because he killed kingfishers, n made a coracle out of their carcasses.’

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‘Used ta sit out there on Lake TooGone in his feather coracle gluing dragonflies into fishin rods. Called it the SS Iridescent.’

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‘When he started stitchin trout tails to the heads of cougars that’s when we knew sumpn was wrong. Called em “catfish” but they wusn’t.’

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‘Made friends with a bear had a bad reputation for twistin folks so their fronts wus their backs. They’d get ugly drunk on pitcher plants.’

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‘Had me some of that pitcher plant moon bug juice once – you don’t even know what century you’re in. That’s some powerful future juice…’

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‘The bear’s tearin up natterjack n raccoon, n the Kid’s skewerin corkscrew spines thru the critter parts. Calls em “toves” but they wusn’t.’

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‘Bear n him had a con-tray-tomp n the Kid had to stitch himself up. Ended up part-bear. Took off to college n next thing he’s some kinda “Doc”.’