As snowgrouse Auntie Krizu enjoys herself with Zorak and Phi1ip...
She really must congratulate Gordon on the bouncy castle -- such a mix of innocent and naughty is perfect for a gathering of Pro-Fun trolls.
The only hitch may be in the typo-gremlins, but they can't cause nearly as much trouble as Eris did ... can they?
She isn't sure of the answer to that, and quickly changes the subject in her mind. She searches the crowd for a familiar face, and to her delight, she finds it.
"Jamie, me lad!" she calls out as she goes up to him. "I'm so glad you came! You brought your pipes, I trust?"
Jamie looks hurt. "Ach, now what piper would arrive at a gathering such as this without his pipes? I'd shame the whole McCrimmon clan if I had left them behind!"
Our Hostess beams. "Wonderful!" she exclaims, as she leads him to the stage. "This hoedown has everything it needs -- but too many people are standing still and just watching. But I think a good reel could change all that."
Jamie picks up his pipes and grins. "What is your pleasure?" he asks.
"Oh, lots of things," she answers with a wink, "but right at the moment, I'm thinking of a song from your own country and time -- an anthem for Pro-Fun Trolldom if ever there was one: 'The Reel of Tullochgorum'! If you'll play, I'll sing it."
Jamie nods, an ear to ear grin on his handsome young face, and begins to warm up his pipes.
The wheezing, groaning sound, and the loud first few notes, startled the partygoers to attention. The troll let him play one verse through, to get the rhythm and melody into her head, and then she belted out the words -- her voice, surprisingly loud from someone of such short stature, bold enough to compete with the famed highland pipes of the McCrimmon clan:
"Come gies a sang," Montgomery cryed
"And lay your disputes all aside,
What nonsense is't for folks to chide
For what's been done before them."
Let Whig and Tory all agree.
Whig and Tory, Whig and Tory
Whig and Tory all agree
To drop their whigmegorum,
Let Whig and Tory all agree
To spend this night in mirth and glee
And cheerfu' sing alang wi me
The Reel of Tullochgorum
Tullochgorum's my delight,
It gars us a' in ane unite,
And ony sumph that keeps up spite,
In conscience I abhor him
Blithe and merry we's be a',
Blithe and merry, blithe and merry
Blithe and merry we's be a'
To make a chearfu' quorum.
Blithe and merry, we's be a':
As lang's we ha'e a breath to draw,
And dance, 'till we be like to fa'
The reel of Tullochgorum.
Let warldly minds themselves oppress
Wi' fear of want, and double cess;
And silly saules themselves distress
Wi' keeping up decorum:
Shall we sae sour and sulky sit,
Sour and sulky; sour and sulky;
Shall we sae sour and sulky sit
Like auld Philosophorum?
Shall we sae sour and sulky sit
Wi' neither sense, nor mirth. nor wit,
And canna rise to shake a fit,
At the reel of Tullochgorum?
May choicest blessings still attend
Each honest-hearted open friend,
And calm and quiet be his end,
Be a' that's good before him
May peace and plenty be his lot,
Peace and plenty, peace and plenty;
May peace and plenty be his lot,
And dainties, a great store o'em:
May peace and plenty be his lot
Unstain'd by any vicious blot;
And may he never want a groat
That's fond of Tullochgorum!
Our Hostess let her voice trail off, since now nearly everyone was "shaking a fit" of some sort or other (though the old curmudgeons and purists would all agree that there was no sort of reel among them). Still, "fun was had by all" and that's all that mattered.
"Ye're a Hielander, Daibhid." remarked Jamie afterwards. "Why did ye no' leave yon food table and show 'em how it's done?"
"I know how do a reel in a technical sort of way," Daibhid admitted, "it's the fact that I've got the natural rhythm of a stunned goldfish that's the problem."
"Ach, dinnae put yerself doon, lad. I'll gie another skirl in a whiley, and I want to see ye up on the floor!"
"Aye, okay." Daibhid agreed reluctantly. He knew a Pro-Fun group was somewhere you should feel comfortable making a fool of yourself; he'd done it before, but he still felt uncomfortable starting off. Once he started dancing he was sure he'd...
But then a shadow filled the door of her barnTARDIS, and a bellow loud enough to drown out the pipes interrupted their fun. The leader of the Pro-Fun Trolls felt her face go cold, and her hands get clammy. :::Oh, no! she thought. Not him!:::
A large bellow resounds through the barn TARDIS. A shadow fills the door.
The Partygoers, Bookworms, Doctors, Companions, Trolls, Captains, TARDISes, goddesses, and other assorted entities pause from cakewatching, drink contest betting, and general merrymaking and hoedowning, and turn to the source.
'Oh no,' the Doctors - all eight of him currently present - mutter. 'The Flame Bringer.'
'But Flame Bringers usually ignore the Pro-Fun Trolls...' Seventh thinks out loud.
'Zoe,' Second whispers. 'Check the whipped cream. Fire Extinguisher size... One way or another, we'll be needing it.'
Zoe nods, and heads for the Second's TARDIS.
Bokman's ears pick up at the mention of the name Zoe. "Zoe's here? Well, I suppose I'd better introduce myself," he declares, heading for the Second's TARDIS in his turn.
Daibhid was astonished to see Schroedy, along with all the other cats brought by various guests, rush for the opposing wall in a mass of howling and spitting.
"It's okay, kitties," he said. "It's just another TARDIS... isn't it?"
"I thought I heard the Doctors say it was a Flame Bringer," muttered someone on his left.
Daibhid went white. "A Flame Bringer? At a Pro-Fun Hoedown?"
He had to help. After all, he'd just agreed to dance, and he wasn't going to give a Flame Bringer the chance to make fun of him.
He looked for the purple, legged form of his rucksack.
It was gone.
Gordon wonders, "Maybe if we feed the typo-gremlins things full of typos, they'll chill out and relax for a while?"
From out of his dimensionally transcendental pockets, he brings out several copies of 'The Doctors' by Adrian Rigelsford and a bundle of fanzines.
"I edited this pro-fun fanzine several years ago, it was so full of typos we were going to have a 'How Many Typos Were In Issue One?' contest in the second issue. We never got to a second issue though."
Gordon starts waving the publications in front of him, calling the typo-gremlins.
"Coo-eee! Look! Loadsa, loadsa typos in these!"
A small typo-gremlin walks up to Gordon warily. He takes a nibble of a fanzine. He immediately falls over, as if drunk.
"Typos must have the same effect on them as alcohol does on us! There are so many typos in the fanzine that just one bite gets them utterly blitzed! We're saved!"
Gordon distributes the publications and then moonwalks off to groove mightily on the dance floor...
In a shadowy spot across the street, a wobbulating video effect signals the decloaking - sorry, delurking - of a man in his mid-twenties, with a shock of long, curly hair (which is badly in need of combing), glasses, and slightly too much stubble. He is wearing a blue anorak in a post-modern, ironically self-aware kind of way; a copy of The Discontinuity Guide protrudes from one pocket, while in another is what appears to be a book containing lists of train numbers, some of which have small ticks marked next to them.
He hesitates for a moment, taking in the scene, listening to the sounds of pro-fun-ness that carry in the evening air and watching the party-goers on the lawn. Then, he takes a step towards the door... hesitates... and stops, still in the shadows. He looks at his reflection in the window of a car, and mutters to himself thusly: "Hmm... no, a little too ironically sad-fan, perhaps."
He considers for a moment. Reality shifts a couple of millimeters, and the lurker's clothes have changed; he is now dressed in black jeans, a belt covered in a celtic knotwork design, an Oxford University DougSoc t-shirt and a black denim jacket covered in assorted badges, mostly but not exclusively relating to science fiction or music. His stubble has vanished, and his hair seems a little more tidy. Once again he stands still for a moment, watching and listening. He tips his head to one side, apparently paying particular attention to the sound of a fiddle. In an echo-treated voice-over, his thoughts can be heard: "Well, it is meant to be pro-fun, which seems to mean not being superior and nasty about other peoples' tastes even if they're different from one's own - but perhaps people won't mind a bit of rock-'n'-roll...."
With another jump-cut, his appearance changes again. His jeans are now blue, and flared; the t-shirt is still black, but with a Marshall Amplification logo, and the jacket is also blue, of a different style, and without badges. His hair is now tied back in a pony-tail, and in one hand he holds a Fender stratocaster which looks suspiciously as if somebody has deliberately beaten it up a little in an attempt to create a battered and well-used look. In his other hand he holds a small combo amplifier and a coiled lead (which is, please note, plain black and straight, and definitely not curly or of a bright day-glo colour).
The indecisive newcomer makes it almost the whole way across the road this time, before stopping and talking to himself again. "Hey! I can pretend to be Fitz pretending to be someone else - I might even pull that way! Oh... but the only slightly Who-related things I can play are "Smoke On The Water" and "Shakin' All Over", and those are pretty tenuous, especially for people who don't read the BBC books.... Maybe this isn't such a good idea...."
Reality does that slightly-shifting thing again. The musical paraphanalia has gone, and the newcomer is now wearing black jeans (again), a grey shirt, a black leather waistcoat, a long black leather trenchcoat, and a black felt hat. His hair is untied, but now nicely combed and untangled, though still fairly wild.
"Right. Enough faffing around!" Taking a deep breath, the stranger pushed his hands into his coat pockets and strides across the road and in through the door. Once inside, he walks briskly across the floor. To the casual watcher, his body language suggests confidence - but a more careful observer would note that he's actually rather nervous, not entirely sure whether or not he's meant, or even allowed, to be here, and is thus using the "look as if you own the place" ploy.
He glances around, trying to look like somebody expecting to meet people, but avoiding eye contact with the other guests, and not quite plucking up the courage to speak to any of them....
The small turquoise troll, ever on the lookout for uneasy newcomers, appears at his elbow (or rather, due to the difference in their relative heights, his knee). "Excuse me, Sir," she asks, proffering her ever full bag of treats, "would you like a jelly baby?"
She smiles as reassuringly as a troll can while he takes his choice, then scurries off to find the Founder.
'And just what do you think you're doing?!' Sixth asks, positioning himself next to Our Hostess...
She turns, and gazes up at the fuzzy headed Doctor. "Who, me? At the moment, I think I'm thinking. If you haven't noticed, there are quite a few dangling story threads around here, and if I don't pause and sort them out, it could get really headache-y in a moment. Tangled storylines are even worse on a body than tangled timelines."
Suddenly, a lightbulb appears above her head -- a full hundred watt one (Gordon's influence, she thinks). She turns from Jo to the Flame Bringer and back again. "That's it!" she says. "These gremlins can change reality -- make things appear, or turn them backward. If we can get them over to the Flame Bringer, maybe we can change him into something else -- or maybe -- return him to his true nature," she added, noticing that there seemed to be a strange sort of dimensional warp going on around him.
She hurried over to Imran, and spoke into his ear: "The words 'Flame Bringer'," she said, "or rather, the letters in the words -- where they are on your keyboard -- you think you can figure out what typos we can use to turn that all around, into something positive -- Pro-Fun?"
Unfortunately for Imran, Daibhid's rucksack is rubbing against his legs, having apparently found a new friend.
'All right...' Sixth says, turning to the Flame Bringer. 'Now I know what she's up to... what are you up to?!'
'I am... the Spelling Flame Bringer...' the creature rumbles. 'I come... to flame all those afflicted by the Typo Gremlins...in the name of proper punctuation.'
The writers mutually gulp. This is not good.
It is at this point that the little turquoise deputy arrives with her news...Previous chapter Next chapter