Wednesday, 27 January 2010

A Zook’s Tale (avoiding unmentionable animals).

My author tells me pigs are out of fashion these days in publishing circles, which means I’m not allowed to post her first story here! I think she might have made that up to stop me embarrassing her… but bowed horn if I have offended in any way. Is anyone offended?

Pigs are not half as beautiful as unicorns, so I promised her I would not mention them again. I am still going to post her story, though, because I am a muse and stories are more important to me than fashion. To avoid offending anyone, I’m going to change the unmentionable animal into a fantasy creature called a zook. The story will work just as well, maybe even better. (In case you’re wondering, a zook is bright yellow, about as big as your thumb, can make itself invisible, and comes from the far side of the Universe…)

“A Zook’s Tale” - written by Katherine Roberts when she worked at GEC, edited for the modern reader by Reclusive Muse.

My first impressions of Planet Earth were somewhat less than favourable. It all began with the GEC Canteen, and in particular with a certain zookmeat pie.
You can hardly be expected to understand my feelings – you are only human, after all. Indeed, I have since observed your great enthusiasm to enter this place called Canteen. But maybe there is someone out there who has a glimmer of sympathy for the unique effect a zookmeat pie can have on a zook?
Before I describe this effect in gory detail, I should perhaps explain how I came to be stranded on your planet in the first place. It was the Most Important Zook’s fault, of course. For reasons best known to herself, she declared that our planet had been singled out of the zook cosmos to compile an unbiased, complete, truthful, official, secret report on the hitherto unknown race of humans, and she honoured me with the position of Chief Observer. In other words, the boss ordered me to come down here and spy on you lot.
I had a rotten journey. My ship materialised inside your planet and promptly went out of control, heading for the surface like a maddened mole. I am afraid it left a rather obvious track across your beautiful grass – sorry. At least it disintegrated on schedule, although a trifle too enthusiastically, since my cosmic sandwiches were blasted into cosmic atoms before my zook stomach had a chance to sample them. Which was why I decided to begin by doing some snooping around your Canteen.
The letters GEC puzzled me a bit, until I realised they stood for “Give Everybody Chips”. I must admit I was most impressed by the chips and, these being the main ingredient in one of my favourite swills back home, I borrowed a few. The apple crumble was not bad, either. In fact, I was doing a grand job of clearing up the leftovers – quite invisibly, of course – when I came snout to crust with the zookmeat pie.
So to the gory detail… I completely lost my head.
Not only did I lose my head, but I dropped the chips I had borrowed as well as the apple crumble and the leftovers. It was a good thing I was invisible, because all this made quite a mess. Luckily, there were plenty of human elbows around at the time. I managed to jog one sufficiently hard to provide a falling plate as cover for my escape. Then I ran, clutching my head and hoping the blood was invisible too.
Soon after my escape from the Canteen, I found a quiet spot out back where I could send my first, and what I believed to be my last, report to the Most Important Zook. I am embarrassed when I remember what that report contained, but I had an excuse. After all, what would YOU have said if your head had just fallen off with the shock of seeing a human pie? (I realise this is a hypothetical question, since the chances of the GEC Canteen serving human are fairly remote, and I’ve heard it does not go that well with chips, anyway.) To get back to my report, it could well have been my last, and most certainly would have been without the New Product Search Team.
There lay my body, headless. There lay my head, bodiless - and in a most uncomfortable position, I might add, with a grass stalk stuck up its left nostril. There lay I, prepared to meet the Great Yellow Zook Manufacturer to whom we must all ultimately return. In short, I was dying. Worse still, I was dying visibly. So I crawled into the long grass and hid as well as I was able. Fortunately for me, this was not at all well.
Sometime later, human feet stomped past on their reluctant way from the Canteen to their office, paused as they almost trod on me, and a large hand lifted my body out of sight. I desperately tried to remember what the Most Important Zook had said about dying. Could the body die before the head, or was it the other way around? You humans have no idea of my anxiety when that hand took my body away. Thankfully, my head was not alone for long. Another hand soon rescued it from its uncomfortable position. Then both hands did their best to rebuild me.
I must admit I had my doubts, in spite of the grand claims my rescuers made about having the technology. Yet my fears were ungrounded. When the final joining was made, I felt only relief at being able to sneeze the grass seeds out of my left nostril.
Those who rebuilt me were somewhat shy at first, but they soon relaxed in my company. I have since been able to send some super reports on human coffee consumption back to the Most Important Zook. Of course the New Product Search Team, as my pet humans like to call themselves, have no idea of my origins and think I am their mascot. A certain amount of deception is necessary in my job so I try not to disillusion them, although I do sometimes find it hard to keep out of their discussions.
I suppose one day I shall be recalled back home. There are enough bits lying about the New Product Team offices to build myself another ship, so that’s no problem. I only hope my humans will not miss me too much. If you see them, tell them to keep on Giving Everybody Chips. Tell them thank you. And tell them their ideas were really very good – for humans.

Muse’s note: This story was written for readers who worked at GEC’s factory, so it has some jokes that demonstrate the importance of always keeping your readers in mind when you write. In case you’re as baffled as I was when I first read it, GEC used to make electronic chips for computers, as well as serving delicious chips in their canteen at lunchtime... OK now? (And if you’re American you will probably not get this joke at all, since I gather you call them fries over there?!)


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