I wondered around the city for some time. I noticed the doors were quite small and rounded, not shaped for a human. After a while, I began to realized I was being guided. Doors were sealing off. Eventually I was bundled into a room that converted into a lift. I plummeted several stories. When the door opened, I went through, heavy with foreboding.
I knew I was being watched. I turned around. There, in front of me, coming towards me was... was...
I could only scream...
The BBC -- the Basset Broadcasting Corporation -- continues its new serial, the adventures through space and time of Poochles Poo.
Meanwhile, at the edge of the city, Poochles and I were growing tired of waiting for Ms. Daisy. "We'd better go look for her," I said. Poochles dabbed a handkerchief to his forehead. He was panting quickly and shallowly. "Yes. Yes, that seems best," he agreed.
We went through the door and into the corridor I investigated earlier, and found what looked to be a small lab. "Look at this!" Poochles exclaimed. "It measures something; look at the drum." I agreed, but wondered what it measured. "But, sir, it means the people who built this city were intelligent, scientific!"
"Well, clearly, Poochles..." I said as we continued to nose around the room. I heard an odd clicking noise and followed it over to a huge bank of computers. I quickly realized it was a Geiger Counter. "Uhh... Poochles? I found a Geiger Counter. And it's all in the 'Danger' zone."
Poochles trotted over to it and peered down. Almost conversationally, he said "Yes, that would explain quite a bit, quite a bit. We've got Radiation Sickness. But... Oh No! Look at this!" He was pointing to another read-out just below the Geiger Counter.
"This is a Ham-Detection Unit! And it's reading zero. We must leave -- leave at once. There might be no ham on this whole planet!" he looked at be a bit wall-eyed and marched towards the door.
I grabbed his arm. "But Poochles, what about Daisy? We've got to find her! And what about your fluid link? Don't you still need Mercury?"
"About that... I have to admit, that was a little sabotage on my part," he said sheepishly.
"I know. I watched you, remember? I asked you why you did that. And you ignored me!"
He again moved towards the door. "So I did. So I did. Well, I'm going back to the BASSAT. You can find Daisy if you like but..." As we crossed through the door, we saw Them.
Four of them glided over to hem us in, their noses twitching. Imagine a pink pepper-pot that someone put bunny ears on, and a little plastic bunny nose. From the top dome, an eyestick stuck out, and two appendage stuck out about half-way up the pot, one a pointy stick and the other a gun. I briefly wondered what the pointy stick was for, but then noticed the bottom half of the things were covered with parti-coloured Easter Eggs.
They looked... oddly festive. And aggressive. Like they were going to foist an Easter Egg hunt on us, whether we wanted it or not.
"Stop!" one of them said. "You-are-our-prisoner," they told us in a matter-of-fact way. Its voice was synthesized, harsh and metallic and irritatingly high-pitched. Its ears glowed with each syllable. "Follow."
This, I thought, was increasingly stupid. I walked towards the door. One of them glided over to me very quickly and poked me with its stick. "Ow!" I said. "That kinds hurt!"
Apparently, they thought this took all the fight out of me, and they shepherded Poochles and me into a bare room they seemed to be using for a cell. Inside, Daisy was lying on the floor.
" 'Lo," she said, not looking up.
The creatures left.
"So here we are again, imprisoned." I said, fingering the place where I was poked. "I do hope this doesn't become a regular thing."
Poochles looked dubious. We sat there for a while, playing 20 Questions and growing sicker. Eventually, one of the things came back and took Poochles out of the cell.
Poochles later told me they dragged him into their pastel yellow headquarters. Muzak version of "Your Easter Bonnet" and "Here Comes Peter Cottontail" endlessly piped in. Four of the creatures interrogated him, asking him if he was a Thrall.
He wasn't. He didn't even know what one was.
"Oh." said the thing. He then launched on a long speech how how he was a Bunlek, and how the Bunleks had been at war with a group of Christmas elves called the Thralls. The war had gone nuclear, and the Bunleks, who originally were Easter-loving bunny-suit furri enthusiasts, built the metal suits they wore for protection and retreated into their city. The Thralls stayed out in the open, no doubt to become hideous mutants. But they had a nifty anti-radiation drug.
"Oh," said the Poochles. "Yeah, they gave us some, I think."
The Bunleks gave him a few menacing pokes with their sharp sticks and told him he had to go get some. He agreed, but pointed out he was too sick to go.
He told me all this back in the cell, as a preface to my own trip back to the BASSAT. The Bunleks were getting antsy; one poked me right in the butt and said "Get-going. Bring-us-the-drug."
So I went. The trip back wasn't that long, so I ran around in circles several times through the woods. I even ran in place for a while, and let some floor technicians hit in the face with some branches. The forest wasn't that large, and it was difficult not to run into the shirtless guy following me.
When I got to the BASSAT, it had just started to rain. When I had grabbed the box of vials from inside the console room, I opened the double doors to a roll of thunder. It wasn't very scary,
but I had noticed almost 24 minutes had elapsed...
Next Week: Escape to Danger