“Power-Boozing Subspace Naked Elephant Rampage”
“Arkright! It’s about time!” yelled Mr. Solo as I stood at the entrance to Ying Research. He was bent over an unfamiliar contraption next to a honking big heat ray device. “Come over here and take a look at what I’ve done.” I hadn’t known Mr. Solo for very long, but it was rare to see him so excited. It made me extremely nervous.
“Who’s your friend?” he asked looking past me to my tall, slightly gaunt companion with salt & pepper hair who was carrying a hefty picnic hamper.
“My guest for the afternoon,” I said as I cautiously entered the workshop. “Buckminster Solo, meet Reese Culverton. Mr. Culverton, Mr. Solo.”
“Charmed, I’m sure,” said Solo somewhat coolly, continuing to tinker with his gadget. “Hang on… surely this isn’t the Mr. Culverton you told me about… the one who tried to kill you a few months ago?”
Cully and I exchanged knowing looks. “New in town,” I said to him.
“Can’t hold on to grudges, old boy,” Culverton informed Mr. Solo. “If you’re going to spend all your time avoiding people just because they kicked you in the privates or tried to blow you up, you’ll quickly find your options for social intercourse around here a bit limited.”
“Yes, well… not planning on eating in here, are you?” asked Mr. Solo who apparently had only just noticed the hamper, “Because I’d really rather you didn’t.”
“Oh, this is for later,” said Culverton. “Although, if you’d like to partake…”
Mr. Culverton opened the hamper and pulled out a bottle of Aunoulis Valley Pinot Noir and a corkscrew.
“Not today, thanks. I need a clear head for this,” said Solo who may or may not have known that Aunoulis Valley wine is all but undrinkable. “Working with some rather exotic — and unstable — power sources here.”
“I can see that,” I said. “I’m surprised Miss. Ying is letting you muck about with her alien technology. I didn’t even know you knew her.”
“Well, you know how it is… ships in the night and all that… swings and misses… coming close but never quite connecting… a very asymptotic relationship.”
Obviously, he had never even met the lady in question and the truth of the situation suddenly became clear. “You don’t have permission to be in here fiddling with this stuff, do you?”
Solo seemed a tad irritated. “It’s not as if anyone will know we’ve been here. I do know how to clean up after myself. If the proprietress makes a fuss about it, I’ll just buy her some flowers or something. Girls like flowers.”
“It’s Babbage,” I said. “The ladies like blasting caps and wrench sets and high caliber ammunition.”
“Oh, whatever. Do you want to benefit from my staggering brilliance or not?”
Counter to Mr. Solo’s wishes, Culverton uncorked the wine and took a swig straight from the bottle. “What exactly are you up to here?” he asked.
Mr. Solo — holding a control box connected to a large, flat circular device on the floor of the workshop — flipped switches and turned dials. “Our Mr. Arkright has a problem: Like me, he possesses many supernatural gifts… unlike me, he can’t control them worth a damn. Most of us who acquire ‘The Talent’ do so at the expense of some, if not all, of our memories. However young Arkright here seems to have acquired his abilities in a particularly unorthodox manner which has spared him that inconvenience. Since he hasn’t divulged any of the details concerning how he came by his gifts…”
“And I never will…”
“… it’s left for me to theorize that certain cerebral adaptations should have overwritten his memories, but they didn’t, and it’s left him lacking, among other things, the ability to establish an anchor point he can use to accurately navigate through subspace when he attempts teleportation. My machine will fix that without damaging any memories.”
“Lately, I can’t even teleport back up to the orbiting habi-sphere where I’ve been living. One of the reasons I accepted your generous offer of temporary lodging,” I told Mr. Culverton. “Sometimes I miss the mark so completely, I find myself on the surface of the moon! Plus I’ve got to get to Caledon where a certain wealthy fat cat owes me a fat check… and I’ll be taking classes at the Titus Groan Community College next month… long story short, given my financial situation, my travel expenses will become quite unmanageable if I’m not able to teleport again.”
Cully took another gulp of wine and looked critically at Solo’s device, marshalling his own scientific acumen to assess the potential efficacy of the apparatus. “This can not possibly be a good idea.”
“Not many options at the moment,” I said, “But it should be fine. Unless this thing shatters me into my elemental components and scatters my atomised remains across the aetheric planes of existence.
“Maybe I should think about this a little more…”
“Ha! So funny!” said Mr. Solo who grabbed my arm in a vice-like grip and forced me onto the circular floor pad. “Trust me, this’ll be great! CONTACT!!”
Mr. Solo flipped a switch on his control box and I was almost instantly elsewhere… returning to exactly the same spot minutes later.
“Where did you go?” asked Mr. Culverton who was holding a nearly-empty wine bottle.
“Felt like north, maybe. Someplace with lots of dead trees and short, drunken men debating whether they should hang me or make me buy the next round. “
“Focus on what’s important,” said Mr. Solo. “Do you feel any different?”
“Not really,” I said, a little disappointed. “I’m not sure it had any…”
“Where’d you go that time?” asked Mr. Solo looking every bit as surprised as I must have.
“I didn’t trigger that,” I said. “I went someplace… loud. And it was getting louder.”
The sight of Mr. Solo’s furrowed brow greatly elevated my anxiety. I’d come to believe nothing short of a full-sized Egyptian obelisk suddenly emerging from his belly button being ridden by a scantily clad Cleopatra could even begin to tweak his equilibrium. “Maybe,” he said, “you should step off of
“Well that was alarming!”
“You should have a drink. Best thing after a trip.” Mr. Culverton had finished the wine and taken a shot glass and a bottle of Scotch from the hamper. After he poured himself two fingers and quickly knocked it back I realized he wasn’t actually offering me any.
“I’ve disconnected the field generator,” said Solo. “It’s powering down, but there might still be some residual instability in the local
“Arkright! Why are you all wet?”
“Solo! Why are you all stupid? What have you done to me?!?”
“Working on it,” said Solo who had begun to take apart the control box.
“Here’s an idea: WORK FAST–
“–ER. Yeeesh! I think I’m going to be sick!”
“Get off of the pad!” commanded Mr. Solo and I instantly obeyed. “There, that should at least
“GOD! I HATE getting shot at!”
“One shot deserves another,” said Mr. Culverton who immediately downed another whisky shot. For the first time, I noticed the open picnic hamper was entirely full of bottles of liquor. I tried to calculate what quantity of alcohol a male of Culverton’s height and weight could ingest before hospitalisation would be required.
“This is insane!” I said knowing full well that there were many truly insane people in the world having much more fun than I was. “What next, a zebra stampede?”
“Solo, are you doing this on purpose? Finding the world’s worst places for me to end up and then making sure I end up there like some kind of satanic travel agent?!?”
“Working on it,” Solo said dismissively, staring at his disassembled equipment while flapping his hands at me, the universal “bugger off” signal.
“What a picturesque but violent world we live in!”
“D’you think thish place has an ice box?” queried Mr. Culverton who had moved on to the gin. “Seems like the kind of playsh that’d have an ice box. I’m gon’ go look. This is fun! You’re a fun guy, Ark! Glad we didn’t blow your damn head off.”
“FIX. THIS. NOW!!!”
“Right… I think I know what to do,” declared Mr. Solo. He took hold of the lapels of my coat and spoke very quickly:
“Fact: Wave-guided neutrino bursts induced a hyperdiastomine cascade cycle in your brain forcing you to teleport.
“Theory: Forced cyclitic activity is not terminating thus causing repeated displacements.
“Problem: How do we sufficiently disrupt the cycle to allow you to regain conscious trigger control?
“Solution: A second forced teleport to counteract the effects of the first. So clench yer keister and come with me!”
I felt Mr. Solo pulling away from me. With a bit of effort, I was able to hold on and follow him through the void to a rough, very dusty landing on the surface of the moon. After a brief moment of discomfort, our bodies adapted to the frigid, airless vacuum. Unable to speak in space (a trick neither of us has learned yet), Mr. Solo gave me a questioning look as if to say, “Well??” I indicated that he was to wait there while I attempted my first voluntary spatial jump of the day.
After a couple of failed attempts, I managed to return to the laboratory. Mr. Culverton was lying on the floor doing his best imitation of a corpse. At points around his head were an empty wine bottle, an empty Scotch bottle, an empty gin bottle, and a bottle of tonic water that looked as if it hadn’t been opened.
“I’ll be right back,” I said to him after making sure he was, in fact, still breathing, “then maybe we can get you some solid food… or maybe a stomach pump. Won’t that be jolly?”
Cully raised an arm and gave me a thumbs-up. I took a hammer from a nearby workbench and returned to the lunar surface — the perfect place to give Mr. Solo the thanks he so richly deserved for my afternoon’s adventure and for giving me so much brilliant “help.”