Norman Allan
  science and philosophy    alternatve medicine       history and misc 
   blog       biography        gallery         pipedreams (title page/contents) 

Art and Fiction

Chapter Twenty Eight

When Chris and CarIo had set out from Yusuf's farm, the Incompetent Evil Genius had followed them on foot, scampering between trees and bushes over the tall Atlas Mountains. Reaching the sands a dune behind our heroes, he had been unable to procure a camel without the Shaikh's leave, and the Shaihk had left. Curses! The Incompetent Evil Genius therefore made other arrangements, and crossed from the Atlas to the Ahaggar in a Solar Hot-air Balloon, disguised as a floating oasis.

Chris had left Murmur for the south when this floating oasis drifted twixt the mountains of Ahaggar homing in on the frozen robot to find the forfeited bodies of the Berber and the Jew Iieing amid the dust of the powdered city. The Incompetent Evil Genius having set up a delayed action gerbil-run gramophone (that would reactivate the robot Carlo), floated on to the Mountains of Air, which are well wooded. There he constructed his solar and camel driven electromagnet. He took with him the Berber’s ring and with this was able to convince the Tauregs that he had the Shaihk's authority to deal in camels.

With his camel and sun driven electromagnet the IEG diverted Chris to New Nguru, but there Chris met Zak and Ishtar who took him over the Mountains of the Moon to Roaratuni. The Incompetent Evil Genius followed.

As soon as Hallelu, Chris and company left the clearing the Incompetent Evil Genius entered. He stopped at the centre of the clearing, sat down on the orchid, and beckoned to the hanging monkey hordelings. Curious, they dropped from the tree and gathered round.

The Incompetent Evil Genius took out a bootle of Pepsi from a nap-sac. He popped the cap. Fizz. He took a swig. He now had the monkey’s full attention. The Incompetent Evil Genius narrowed his eyes and with commanding grimace began to explain how circumstances forced him to return to the north in time for Hashishmas, for at Hashishmas he would manifest his take-over of the world. He took a sip of his Pepsi. The monkeys broke free from their chain, dropped to the ground, and crowded round him. The Incompetent Evil Genius continued to explain how, that business being urgent, and being near in time though far is space, he could not himself attend to this minor distraction, Chris Pasha, the small fry whom they had just observed. One of the monkeys stretched his paw towards the Incompetent Evil Genius. The IEG passed the Pepsi bottle to it. The bottle went around accompanied by a noisy smack of testing monkey lips. And so, said the Incompetent Evil Genius, he was prepared to pay the monkeys as much Pepsi Cola as they could drink if they would undertake to deal dispense with this Pasha person. An easy enough thing to do, surely, for such accomplished monkey fellows, and then when he was ruler of the world... need he say more. The Pepsi bottle was empty and paws were shaken.

The Incompetent Evil Genius summoned his robotic porters. A troop of automata disguised as early English colonial gentlemen filed into the clearing with stacks of Pepsi laden coolers tottering atop their white pith-helmets. They distributed the Pepsi, and the coolers, and then hoisted the Incompetent Evil Genius onto their collective shoulder and set off for the Northwest.


full sized illustration

Meanwhile, or a short while before, back in the Hoggar, the gerbils burrowed through to the spinning wheel which would drive the phonograph playing the masterword, "muckitubes", backwards ("sbuticum") restarting the robot.(footnote*)

Carlo, reactivated, surveyed the scene. Azuarus and the Berber lay dead. The Incompetent Evil Genius had left the gerbilgram playing "sbutioum sbuticum sbut..."; and Christopher was nowhere to be seen, had gone on. Carlo decided he could return to Morocco and KaIl. Maybe they would get into organizing things for the El Stone Hashishmas Benefit Concert. "I do like a party," thought Carlo. He radioed for a Company helicopter to fly back to the Rif.

Waiting for the helicopter to arrive, Carlo tried to program a screen against the masterword. A useful forethought, had it worked, but it didn't.

The chopper arrived and swirled the sands. Carlo flew back to Yusuf's in the Rif. Yusuf informed him that Kali had said that after taking Ishtar down to the coast, she and the circus would make their was down to Marrakesh. Carlo flew down to Marra. Hovering over the Palmery, he spotted the circus encampment. Thirty meters from the camp was a clearing of newly chopped palms. Carlo landed. He walked through the palms over to the wagons. He called out, "Kali", his voice programmed emmotively gleeful.

But but but the helicopter's engine stuttered starting. But Carlo hadn't released the chopper back to the Company pool. He radioed the code to turn off the engine. The helicopter ignored him and began to lift, power surging. He searched the helicopter's analogue awareness: "CODE.OVERRULED." Again he relayed the command for it to land, this time in master code. Still it rose. But now with the Berber dead, only the shaggy could overrule the master programs Carlo had invoked. Was the shaggy malignant?

Carlo searched the circuits of the copter's automatonic awareness more deeply. Gibberish. The Company was using a new master code. Carlo processed for a moment. He broke the new code, and ordered the ‘copter to land. It hesitated and its flight became erratic. It struggled with the contrary demands, and found a compromise. It came down straight towards Carlo, who leaped away.


The robot swayed, but kept his feet, as the blast ripped over him. Standing amid smoke and flames and shrapnel bursting round, through the smoke and trees, burning he saw a squad of tanks bearing down on him, their engines roaring.

He ran like a whirlwind towards and over the tanks, through a regiment of troops, and hail of fire, twisting, turning, through smoke stark trees. A signal started ditting in his mind’s ear (his computer's auditory circuits): "10100100001011..." it said, which renders into English very approximately as, "WE.HAVE.KALI.AT.MARRA.AM.X.OFF.STOP."

Carlo searched the Company computer to suss the trap, but found its higher faculties were functioning, once again, in new modes and codes. Try as he might, he couldn't break it. Seeking assistance, he turned to sync in with the Incompetent Evil Genius' computer systems beneath the Am X. It was closed, barricaded against him Further computations would have to wait. He realigned himself and ran to the Djamalfna American Express office.

It had been night-time when they had come for Kali. There had been a knock on the wagon door at three in the morning. The moon had just set and Kali was losing her blues. The gypsy opened the door. On the step stood a Company robot. It said it bore a message from Carlo. Carlo was returning and would meet her at the American Express Office. It had come to accompany her. It took her to a reception room on the thirty third floor. "SOON," it said, and left her.

She waited many hours, dozing. Dawn came. A robot came in with breakfast.

A toilet. Could she have a toilet?
No, she must wait in that room.
"That's preposterous, honey!"

Kali waited. An hour. A human agent, in a white lab coat, arrived. "No. No toilet facilities were available on the thirty third floor, except to personnel."

"But I am el person!"

"Your friend will be here any minute. Wait!"

The door splintered asunder like a slow-motion film sequence. Carlo burst through. "It'satrap!" called Kali, too late, for as Carlo entered the room, along with fragments of the door, he collapsed to writhe feebly spastic on the floor, Kirlian lights visibly blazing patterns all over his body, like worms.

When Carlo touched the door he triggered a complex of high frequency generators(footnote**) and the room sparked crisp of ozone, buzzing, muckitubesmuckitubesmuckitubes it is written. Carlo's consciousness was saturated by this external static, and by the blocking programs he had set to save himself against just this fate. He was randomised, jammed, and Kirlian patterns rippled worms over him.

Six heavies, dressed as monks, entered.

"This," said Kali loudly, "is..."

"Shaddup! Not even a whisper, sister," one of the monks Texas drawled levelling a sten-gun’s muzzle at her middle and meaning business. Two monks gagged and bound the gypsy, brisk and inconsiderate. A phalanx of technicians filed in in white lab coats wheeling trolley with a generator and banks of equipment. Two carried a helmet, a solid lead fish bowl (it had no visor) linked by a cable to the trolley-bank. They placed the helmet over Carlo's head and fixed it, solid. They stripped the wriggling robot of its garments, and fitted a steel corset round its chest, likewise linked to the bark of equipment.

"Helmet and corset placements completed," checked the technician of the helmet.

"Blanket blocking pattern transmission activated," checked the technician of the trolley-bank.

"Great!" barked the father superior, who happened to look remarkably like Mr. Templeton of the Salvationist. "Great. Fade the room."

The buzzing in the room subsided. The Kirlian worms still played over Carlo’s "skin". The bank technician twisted knobs adjusting. Carlo's writhing stilled. A fork lift truck whirred into the room and lifted the robot.

"Blindfold the witch!" growled the abbot abruptly.

Mumble mumble mumble said the witch. "There's no point in blindfolding me, honey. I can see with my third eye. And fellas, I've gotta use the can."

"What's she saying?"

"I don't know. Hey, don't touch her. She might lay a curse. Right! We're going to Tangiers."

illustration by Paul Horridge

Chapter Twenty Nine