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and in the present. . .

You're making your way to your Aunt Miriam's for tea, bunch of pink roses stuck under an arm, crumpets a-swing in a paper bag, when you take a wrong turn left down some stairs and tumble into a dripping, manky-looking alley. When you look up, rather wobbly in the head, it's at a door you've never seen before.

It's open.

“Whassis, then?” you say, scrambling to your boots and trying to scrape roses from the puddles of who-knows-what, fishing out the battered stems. The crumpets lie abandoned in the gutter. Ooer, Aunt Miriam's not gonna be pleased, you reflect, clutching your bruised knees.

“Ooer, Aunt Miriam's not gonna be pleased,” you say out loud. And it seems the heavens agree with you, because quite abruptly there is yelling. Lots of yelling, of the blood-curdling variety. Followed by some terribly loud clanging, followed by the distant rumble of Large Things Collapsing, followed by . . . a frog? Which is followed by a gopher (disappearing at speed round a corner), and a chittering paper canary and a penguin. And then very suddenly in the alleyway is a small, pink-plaited person in dungarees, wearing a battered accordion.

Rollmop!” she yells, “Come back! I haven't finished with your steam-powered unicycle yet!” And she's off after the gopher, disappearing round the corner in a whirl of green-and-purple boots, leaving the penguin, frog and canary to argue things out between themselves. There's a croak, and an exchange of chrrps. And then . . . silence.

And then more yelling.

Out of the doorway leaps an enormous wolf, wearing a kilt. And boots. And hold on a sec, is that a wolf or a man because you could swear it was a wolf just now but now it's a man thundering down the alleyway, half-naked, trampling your unfortunate crumpets- “My crumpets!” you cry, and then shrink back because the man is suddenly clutching at his kilt and swearing at his boots and joined by another man with a shovel and a crossbow, covered in dirt and glaring down the alleyway at the distant croaking of frogs.

“Where'd they go?” the man begins, before he's joined by yet another man with- with ears. Very tall ears. Very, very tall ears and a face like a hare and a handful of mud in gloved hands. And a top hat. In between the ears. Are those devilish red eyes staring at you?

What the hell is going on, you think, as the rabbit-like man is joined by yet another man with swirling green-and-gold knots inked all down his left side, a gleaming cane at the ready. There is a skinny zombie girl perched on his head, clutching precariously at his chin, her long black braid swinging loose as she peers back at the door.

“What the hell is-” you begin, when all of a sudden there are brownies. Directly under your nose, a trayful of 'em, brownies. Rich and sticky and full of chocolatey goodness, freshly baked and swirling up with smells, brownies, and someone holding them under your nose while wearing an apron that says cogito ergo nom.

“Take one,” the Brownie-Bearer says. “Sorry about this, dear, we're just experiencing technical troubles. You see, Fred and Rubel-” and then there is no more to be said, because careening down the alleyway is a young woman with a mask and a long green hose.

“Althea!” the woman calls. “Protect the brownies!” And then the hose is pointed up and down comes the water, everywhere, pattering down around you in the alley like a miniature rainstorm, soaking your battered trousers and setting crumpets afloat. You can hear that frog croaking again, and sure enough, there it is hopping down the stairs, and you shrink and crumple up into the gutter again because you're not quite sure about frogs, not really, and you're even more unsure about these- these people-

“DAVE, THE HOSE IS WORKING,” the zombie girl bellows from her lofty vantage point, as below her the young woman with the mask tilts her face up to the jury-rigged rain. “BRING OUT THE BANANAS.”

Bananas? you mouth, as from the doorway bounces a kittymorph in a labcoat and a nattily-feathered fedora, followed by a fawn-coloured kitgirl carrying cookies and beaming. Both of them are juggling bananas. Both of them charge past everyone else and up the steps and around the corner and vanish into the growing croak of frogsong, tails lashing. And then down from the parapet above the door slides a thunderous bundle of petticoats, shrieking wildly. The only phrases you can hear in the din are “-never trust lozenges-” and “-scones! it's all the fault of the scones!” and repeatedly, “-this isn't PROPER!” before a tall, lanky fellow leans out, grabs hold of the petticoat-bundle's wrists and lowers her gently to the ground.

Thank you, Ahab,” the bundle of petticoats says, brushing herself down, a very pointed nose re-emerging from under a ridiculous hat. The lanky fellow lowers himself down and smiles at you, brief and quiet. You're a little too harassed to smile back, however, until a woman suddenly appears on the nearest rooftop in a blare of bagpipes and a spill of brown hair. The croaking of frogs and the patter of impromptu rain is completely drowned for a moment as the bagpipes skirl and drone and skirl and everyone automatically stuffs hands, knees or other appendages into their ears, and you scuttle deeper into your gutter, trying to block out the Demon Noise. Around you, though, the frog is dancing.

You blink. The frog is - jigging, step-dancing a miniature ceilidh (and tripping over its feet), when out of the doorway stomps a woman with heterochromatic eyes, a shaggy-haired man with a guitar, and a valkyrie on a kittybike humming ho-jo-toho under her breath. Or at least that's what you make out on her lips because she's smiling at you too, and so is the man clutching the kilt and the man with the cane and the man with the ears, only that's a toothier smile than you'd prefer, and they're smiling at each other as the rain pours down and the frog does a clumsy backflip into a puddle and pink rosepetals flood about your knees and they're all happy, and ridiculously relieved, and for some reason you're happy too although you're not sure why. All you know is, there are no crumpets, but there are brownies. You're not going to Aunt Miriam's for tea after all, you're going to be eating brownies in hose-rain while a frog caboodles about your feet and demon music skirls above the roofs. And you don't know what just happened, who these people are and what the hell the bananas were for, but there are brownies. And things are always better with brownies.

“This is GERM,” a voice says into your ear and you scoot back in a wave of wet crumpets, blinking. But it's an old feller, tweedy and smiling as he clutches a lunchbox, nodding at some of the others dancing in the hose-rain with the frog. He hands you a Werther's Original and you take it, bemused. “Scuse me,” he says, “But I think it's time to head to the cloakroom for some celebrations. You coming?

OOC Note: Feel very, very free to fiddle with how you've been portrayed, or speech defects, or whatever. Huzzah!

the_germachine.txt · Last modified: 2023/11/21 18:03 by

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