Jul 10, 2020
Another set of tales improvised during lockdown. Content warning: bit sweary!
Music: Creepy — Bensound.com.
Here are some Totally Made Up Tales, brought to you by the magic of the internet.
Grass never grows twice. It always leaves a stain.
Refresh your browser often. It will speed everything up.
Marry wisely, lest you fall badly into debt.
Eliminate waste from your life using spoons and forks.
Caring for people is hard. So care slightly left.
Put your feet on somebody. It'll stool them slightly.
It shouldn't be this hard, Freddy thought, to pick the right
shade of red for your accent wall. He tried pillar box red, but it
was too showy. He tried wine red, but it was too dull and gloomy.
What I cannot cope with, he thought to himself, is the sheer range
of options in the red catalog. He looked at the paint colour charts
spread out on the ground before him. There must be more than 200
shades of red alone, and this was only from one range. He quivered
to think what would happen if he went into B&Q to look at
theirs. This was simply unacceptable and he would have to do
something about it. I shall simply have to eliminate some of the
colours of red from the spectrum, he thought.
The easiest way to do this would be using some kind of reverse prism. Happily, Freddy was an esoteric sort of individual and had a whole cabinet full of prisms and various refractory implements, and he began to take them out, line them up, and judge which would be best. It took him three and a half years to determine the exact right combination of different-shaped and sized prisms to eliminate red from any colour light passing into the contraption. But he succeeded, and was dismayed to discover that, with some of the shades of reds now missing from the spectrum, everything was a little bit too blue. In fact, it seemed that there were now more blues than there had ever been before. And this truly offended his sense of balance and symmetry and all that is fair and equitable in the world, and he thought, well, I'm just going to have to get rid of some of this blue.
And so, he returned to his cabinet of prisms and added more subtlety and different colours and shades of crystal to use in the prism contraption, and finally, after five years, was able to sit down and have to reduce the number of blues to a palatable number. The greenish tints that settled over everything was, to his eyes, even worse than the blue. And so, back and forth, this went on for several years, tinkering and adjusting each time. Until eventually, the only colour that was left was brown. And Freddy looked at it and it was a nice shade of brown. He liked the brown, and he put the brown on his wall, and he stepped back and thought, what this could do with is just a little bit of colour.
One morning, when Margaret got up, Jeffrey wasn't there. What was there, on the pillow next to her was a short note, which simply said, "Had enough. Good luck. Bye." But first, Margaret felt puzzled and somewhat thrown off balance by this. It seemed to come out of nowhere. She checked the wardrobes and the chest of drawers, just to be sure it wasn't a joke, but sure enough, everything that was Jeffrey's was gone. She went to work that day as usual, and got home again in the evening as usual and made dinner. And throughout the day, she wondered what exactly it was that she'd done wrong. She reflected as she went through her day, that nothing very much had changed. Apart from the fact that she was cooking for one, everything else was pretty much as usual. And yet, it felt so very, very empty.
But, could she pin it down more specifically? What exactly was this emptiness, and how was she feeling it? She thought back to the beginning of the day. Where did the feeling of empty start? She realised that it had just started as soon as she woke, in a bed that was now only half full. "Aha," she said. It had continued as she had eaten her breakfast on her own, without her husband next to her, then got into her car to go to work, but without her husband next to her, sat down at her desk at work, without her husband next to her, and so on and so on. Every part of her day, just by herself, without her husband next to her. And she realised that more than anything, what she was missing was having something next to her all day.
She considered her options, checked on the internet. What else could she put next to her? She narrowed it down to three options. Firstly, a dog, which she would have to feed. Secondly, a coffee machine, which would be convenient in some ways, but would be quite a heavy thing to carry around with her all the time. Thirdly, an avocado, which was deeply portable and heavily photogenic. Unfortunately, she had to discard the last option because she was worried that it wouldn't last.
And so, she got herself a dog, but she always thought back that maybe an avocado would have been a better choice. She didn't vocalise this at first, but as the weeks wore on and the dog proved to be unreliable at waking her up, or not always able to control its bladder in the office, she started to blame the dog for not being as good as the hypothetical avocado.
You see, she thought to herself, if I was having this much trouble with my avocado, I could just cut it open and eat it.
Margaret took a decisive course of action. She went to Sainsbury's and began to peruse the avocados. She hadn't realised up until this point that avocados came in more than one variety. As she prodded and pressed the avocados, testing them for ripeness, the dog was next to her saying, "What are you doing? Why are you looking at the avocados all of a sudden?"
She tried to be discreet about it and to say, "Oh, well, I just developed a passing interest."
But the dog could smell that she was lying. The dog said, "I see the way you look at them, when you think I'm not there."
But Margaret ignored the dog and bought her first avocado.
For a few days, Margaret felt an overwhelming sense of happiness. There was always someone there. She woke up next to a dog and an avocado. When the dog was annoying, she had the avocado. When the avocado was boring, she could turn to the dog.
But after a week of what seemed like bliss, she woke up to a horrible sight. There, next to her on the pillow was just an avocado skin. "What have you done?" she asked of the dog, that was sitting, looking smugly satisfied on the rug.
"I've eaten the avocado," said the dog.
Putting on his duffel coat, Thomas Smith set up for work for the very last time. He thought to himself, "I, Thomas Smith, am retiring today, after 40 years in my chosen field".
It was a 40 tough years as the police inspector of Cardiff North.
As he made his way into the office, he saw the faces that have grown familiar to him, day in, day out. "The boss would like to see you," said Charlie Perkins, but he didn't say it in a very nice way. Heeding the words of Charlie Perkins, Thomas went to knock on the door of the chief inspector. The anxiety made his hands shake and the knock was tremulous.
But it's my last day, he thought. What could possibly go wrong?
"Come in," said the chief inspector, and his voice was barbed. Thomas pushed the door open, walked across the expanse of shabby carpet, and took a seat in the threadbare office chair facing the chief inspector's desk.
Chief Inspector looked at him coldly across the top of his horn-rimmed glasses and said in a low, slightly threatening tone, "But we all know why you're here, don't we, Thomas?"
"Because I'm retiring today?" asked Thomas.
"Oh, that's what we all expected," said the chief inspector, "a little handshake, perhaps a glass of bubbly to celebrate your 40 years here. It should have been so simple."
Thomas looked around him and tried to think what else could be the matter. "Am I behind on my dues to the widows and orphans fund?" he asked.
"Oh, no," replied the chief inspector. "The widows and orphans are very well taken care of, thanks to you, Thomas. Oh, no. I think you'll find the answers I wrote in this dossier," which he slipped across the table, emblazoned across the top, Operation Calamity.
Thomas opened the dossier and started to read. What he read chilled him to the very bone. It was a complete account of his life, from the moment of conception onwards. "But how have you managed to obtain this information in so much detail? There are things here that no other living person could know," he said, having scanned the few pages.
The chief inspector looked at him, scorn in his eyes. "Well, we don't just use living people."
Thomas continued reading, more and more unsettled. "You know where my father is."
"The whereabouts of your father is crucial to your very purpose," said the chief inspector, "a purpose which you have failed to complete. If you turn to the last page, I think you'll see exactly what I'm talking about."
Nervously, unsettled, and more than a little scared, Thomas turned to the last page. "My father is what?"
"That's right," said the chief inspector. "Your father is Satan, and it is your job to bring about the end of the world before you retire. Which, by my reckoning, leaves you about six hours. There's cutting it fine, Thomas, and there's cutting it fine. I hope you know how disappointed we and your father are in you."
Thomas mumbled something about being able to do only his best, and staggered out of the office. But realised as he walked down the carpet-paved hallway, for the plan was beginning to form in his head.
Having been conceived by Satan, he was of course, equipped with all of the knowledge to bring about the end of the world. He just had had so many other things to focus on, he haven't really thought about it until now. The quickest way to bring down contemporary civilisation was simply to switch off the internet.
First port of call were the 5G masks. Rather than visit them in person, Thomas devised an ingenious scheme where people would blame 5G on all sorts of maladies afflicting the population, and would tear them down and set fire to them themselves.
The second action he needed to complete was to destroy the servers on which the entire internet were stored, which fortunately, were in Cardiff North. He was able to use his warrant card in order to get access to the building. And then, it was just a little matter of lighter fluid and a dropped match.
Third task he would need to perform was, however, the one that was going to take the longest. The actual destruction of humankind could be achieved in, well, several ways, but the obvious ones were a plague, a virus, or some sort of natural disaster. And he decided not to hedge his bets and to plump for natural disaster.
It might not be obvious to everybody what the link is between switching off the internet and causing a natural disaster, but to Thomas, it was. Obviously, if no one had access to the internet, they had no access to warnings, because no one used radio anymore. This meant that any disaster would have a disproportionate impact on humanity, and it would be easy to find one that would wipe out everyone.
Back at the police station, a small amount of anxiety was being felt by the chief inspector, who was worried that his little retirement joke may have got out of hand. Thomas had drawn a pentagram on the floor, using a red board marker and was lighting candles at the apex points. His colleagues were beginning to gather, pressing their faces up against the frosted glass leading into his office.
Meanwhile, far beneath the surface of the earth, the elder gods began to wake.
Charlie Perkins was particularly perturbed. He had brought some Asti, which he had preferred to open, and he was sacrificing a goat. He wasn't even sure that Asti paired well with goat meat. And he was wondering, is this what happens to everyone on retirement? And decided to revise his pension plan.
Inside the sacred circle that Thomas had constructed around the pentagram with the crayon, the air moved more slowly. The light seemed more golden. And Thomas himself was finding it harder and harder to walk around, continuing the chants that would raise the elder gods.
As Satan himself began to operate in the police station, a ginormous tidal wave made its way towards Cardiff Bay. Building in height over the Atlantic Ocean, it rolled steadily eastwards. It was not an altogether unnatural sight in Cardiff, but the fact that the tsunami was tinged a horrendous colour of pink began to unnerve even the most stalwart residents. And they wondered just what was going on. As the waves in Cardiff Bay started to get higher, the foam started to turn blood red, and the tsunami bore down, growing in height by the minute.
"So, do you think I should put the banner up now?" Charlie Perkins asked his colleagues.
The wave crashed over the coast of Wales, spreading itself across the whole of the British Isles, as its trailing edge hit the continents of Europe and Africa.
"I'd say we should start with the balloons."
It was Wednesday, and Wednesday was Jeremy's favourite day. It was the day on which he had Coco Pops. With barely concealed excitement, he bounced down the stairs and tore open the door of the larder. There, sitting in a central place was the box.
He was interrupted by his mother, who entered the room with a quiet gasp, and then demanded to know why he had torn open the door to the larder. He looked down at the larder door, clutched in his furry paw. Sheepishly, he tucked the door behind his back, blinked up at his mother. "It's Wednesday."
"Wednesday or not, young thing, you must take better care and responsibility of the fittings and fixtures of this home. When your father sees what you've done, he will be very unhappy indeed. We must get this sorted out now, before he returns home from his foraging."
And so it was that they, yes, Jeremy produced the door from behind his back and they looked at how they might attach it back to the frame of the larder. It was a more complicated task than one might think when one doesn't have an opposable thumb. But by continual effort over a number of hours, they were able to rebuild the moulding, reassemble the doorframe, and reattach the door. It was a pretty good job, particularly for bears with no training in such things. But Mother Bear knew that Father Bear would notice the difference.
"I think we should probably just move house," she said.
Jeremy agreed. This was probably the best idea. He'd seen Father Bear when Father Bear was angry. And he thought, Father Bear will not notice an entire new house, but he will certainly notice poor jointery. So, he scurried upstairs to pack his Rupert Bear suitcase.
Meanwhile, Mother Bear got out the matches. She began to put firelighters around the various parts of the house so that it would combust swiftly and leave as little trace as possible. And as she did so, with her other hand, she checked on her iPad whether there are any similar-looking homes going on right move. It turned out that there were several. And so, it was that the bears moved into the White House.
You have been listening to James Aylett, James Lark, Becky Moore, and Andrew Ormerod. These stories were recorded without advanced planning, and then lightly edited for the discerning listener. Join us next time for more Totally Made Up Tales.