Regrets, I have a few. But then again, too few to mention.
Guppy steps through the door into the simulator room, heart pounding. A brief warning from Xerxes, who had checked out the programming, had told him what he needed to know. Find the cheese on the other side of the ordeal. He'd immediately been angry about yet another labrat reference, but his accidental poor choice of wording ('That just takes the biscuit') had put an end to any serious discussion on the subject.
I'll do what I have to do, though stuck inside, the wrong dimention.
He takes a deep breath as he watches his father's car drive away, then turns around.
I've been through every step a hundred times inside my brain
"Well if it isn't my old mate."
Guppy holds his position.
"Oh, he scowls. I'm scared."
"Yeah? Well you won't be allowed to get away with bullying other people."
A grin from the man.
"There's nothing fair in this world is there?"
The headbutt probably floored hundreds of people in it's time. Lee must have had a skull like a brick wall. But this time the element of surprise is lost as Guppy ducks and sends a fist straight up into Lee's diaphragm.
And small, but standing tall, I'll do it my way
The man wheeses as he is knocked sideways into the gang member on Guppy's left. A third falls as Guppy grabs the pressure point on his ankle, knocking into a fourth as he falls. With a yell of vented frustration the fifth is seen off with an elbow backwards, which knocks the sixth over.
I've starved, and bled and cried. I've drunk myself into a stupor.
For a second it's all just too easy for comfort, and he wonders whether the machine is programmed to let him win. That is until a kick from behind slams him forward out of the circle. He rolls to avoid the kicks, then rolls himself to upright and sprints away as fast as he can.
I've screamed, to let out pain, and then I've sworn just like a trooper.
He can hear Lee catching him up, the jeers and shouts of the gang. The phone box is ahead of him, a large cheese in the bottom. The prize for the rat at the end of the game. And then he feels his left arm grabbed.
He took away my life, my freedom gone, each day a cry day
In what feels like slow motion, he swings around. There is a sickening double crack as his finger and Lee's nose collide. Lee drops back, clutching his nose.
"I'm going to kill you."
No knives, nor guns or death. I'll do it my way.
Guppy turns and runs for his life, going into the phone box.
There is a flash of green light and he teleports from sight.
Regrets, I have a few. But then again, too few to mention.
Where did I leave you? Oh yes, curled up on Snowball crying. A year at Milliways, and still that verb sticks in my throat. I would be lying if I said I wasn't hurting, but as Snowball pointed out, it's not every day you see your father's suicide replayed in front of you.
This time, I swallowed back the sobs. I'd had six months of breaking and grieving. I didn't want to cry any more. I almost choked in the effort, forcing a weak smile as the pig brought me a cup of tea carefully balanced in his jaws.
Some time I guess I fell asleep, my distress dampened by the one, bright, thought dancing in front of me.
I can't explain in words how it feels to find out you didn't hand your father his means of suicide.
Snowball was great, stayed with me all night to make sure I was okay. When I woke up at five he was fast asleep, so I crept out quietly, not wanting to wake him, and sat in the main room with the glass ceiling. Someone had been in ivernight to rub off Snowball's chalk, which we'd been using to write 'Being held against will' and SOS on the wall in the hope of attracting the sympathy of the viewers. I started rewriting it when Shufti appeared, exhaustion clear on her young face. Jack clearly wasn't taking the transition well, although as I held him a bit a round of pulling my hair seemed to ease things a little. Soon he was asleep, dribbling into my shirt pocket.
Guppy, Snowball and Oliver step into the simulator room, leaving Shufti back in the main room. Apparently the challenge is unsuitable for her. At first, it is unclear why. The room appears fairly harmless, a normal house, with strange, squarish furniture. Above them, the other candidates; John, Xerxes and Maria, can be seen on a huge screen, like a window.
The three in the simulator jump as boots snap around their feet, clamping them to the floor. Guppy is yoinked towards a work bench in the corner, where a large lump of wood appears. Almost without his control, he finds himself with a hammer and chisel, carving something.
"Um, guys, what's happening?" he asks, looking around to see Snowball marched into the bedroom. Oliver appears to be stuck where he is in the middle of the floor with... a large green diamond floating above his head.
"Oli... we're in The Sims."
Guppy jumps up and down and waves his hands, conscious even at the time that it's a stupid thing to do. Oliver and Snowball do the same, the pig still glaring at the fact that he has a bikini on his head, but also distracted by the great big ball of fire enveloping the cooker.
Evidently Guppy's reputation for his cooking did not preceed him.
"Why are we bouncing up and down?" he yells. "Press extinguish for goodness sakes!" He glances up to the observation deck, noting that Xerxes, the only one showing any sign of how to play up there, has disappeared off to the bathroom at the world's most inconvenient moment.
There is a yelp from Snowball as he disappears into a ball of flame. At this point Xerxes decides to show up again, yells something inaudable at the others, and they are armed with fire extinguishers.
From somewhere nearby there is a dramatic noise, before a full size grim reaper materialises.
"ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS." it announces to Guppy, who finds his fire extinguisher vanishing once more.
He plays paper, as does the Grim Reaper.
They both show rocks.
Guppy shows a rock, the Reaper a pair of scissors.
The flames vanish, and Snowball stands up, unharmed, except for a slight smell of bacon.
As he steps in and the beam begins to fade him out, there is a flash of green light.
He does not arrive at the other end.
A local witch of the sixteenth century makes her usual getaway from the stake via a convenient portal. She arrives back in her house, a green light flashing behind her.
In Holby 3083 a large wooden stake arrives in the transporter.
In Holby 2006 a frazzled and caffeine deprived doctor steps through a portal in one of the store cupboards to a conveniently placed bar. Just behind him is a green flash of light, which he looks at suspiciously as he steps out the other side.
In Holby 3083 at the Programme of Interdimentional Social Sciences, Wesley Hungerton lets out a number of expletives and stares exasperated at the panel in front of him.
"What is wrong with this equipment?" He yells. "We shouldn't need two coordinates for this one, why can't I get him?"
"Easy Hungerton." The professor smiles. "It really isn't that bad. His portal just goes further. London is a long way. And as for the witch, you were just unlucky. You have until Saturday to get them, the others are just settling in now."
"I'll try increasing the beam strength. And possibly tilting it a little towards his destination."
August 8th 4091
Department of Non-Human Relations
The large, hairy fellow in the dark suit is late for a board meeting. He ambles along the corridor, electronic translator in hand, and opens the portal to the board room on the other side of town.
There is a green flash of light, and he disappears.
In 19th century Holby a woman steps into her greenhouse, which seems to grow plants awfully quickly. As she steps out, the doorway is empty except for an umbrella plant, which stops in mid air just before it hits the floor.
July 19th 3083
Programme of Interdimentional Social Sciences
In a room full of high tech teleportation equipment, Mr Wesley Hungerton swears as all he manages to pick up from the next candidate is a recording pen with one hundred and forty minutes of cat sex on.
July 17th 3083
Programme of Interdimentional Social Sciences
Wesley Hungerton practically leaps over the desks in order to hand the astonished man a recording. He puts it onto the nearest speaker.
"This is from..." he glances at the chip. "Candidate 8? You've received a transmission from the doctor."
He frowns as the sound comes through.
"What on Earth is that..." He turns it up.
".... *thump*.... *scraping noise*.... Ma... wow... meeeeooooowl!"
The professor turns to Hungerton.
"I believe that is his cat. Switch on the feline translator and we'll see if there's anything useful."
A few flicked switches later they stand quietly and listen.
"[Good grief, that's even bigger than I remembered]"
"[Hey, you did say you wanted a big boy]"
"[Ay carumba, put that there again please.]"
The professor sighs, pulls out the chip and hands it to Hungerton.
"We spend thousands of pounds making that pen transmit across space and time, and all we get is four hundred and twenty minutes of cat sex. Sometimes I do wonder why we bother. Are we ready to get the first candidate?"
Hungerton nods fervently.
"All is set sir. Shall I initiate the beam?"
In a completely different Holby time, a local MP stepped through a portal that normally took him to London, saving him no end of rail fares.
There was a flash of green light, the fading out of a white beam, and he disappeared.
July 3rd 3083
Programme of Interdimentional Social Sciences.
"You know if you haven't found his second location by tomorrow we'll have to drop him from the project don't you."
Wesley Hungerton looks up at the professor from his mass of papers and files.
"I have every department in the country looking through their files for him, but he's well out of range of our scale. Please, sir, he's such a good candidate. Just a little longer."
"Hungerton we simply cannot afford to take the risk. This is a potentially very dangerous project and we need a full background check on every candidate. There might be something important in his file the other end. Yes, I would very much like Dr Sandhu in the project, because he's from a good time and his profile checks out so far. Plus we have a very strong link to his portal. But it is out of the question. Find his second portal, or he's off and we find a new candidate eight."
The professor goes outside. Hungerton puts his head in his hands and stares at the mass of paper. He stares at the CCTV pictures flicking across the screen. He stares at his empty email inbox. And then he picks up a handset and presses a few buttons.
"Hello it's Hungerton from Holby... Quite mild today actually, look I've got a nephew in your department, same surname, first name Zeb. Can you send his file over please... Yes I have full clearance, it's for the special project... All right, thanks."
He puts the receiver down and twiddles his thumbs a moment as the file blinks onto his computer screen. He scans through it then glances around the room.
Very carefully he goes through the document, changing the names, date of birth, parents' names and so on. Before picking up the receiver again.
"Professor? I've located Dr Sandhu's second portal. He's travelling from Holby to London. Kings Cross. No there's nothing in it you should know about, he's fine for the project."
June 25th 3083
Programme of Interdimentional Social Studies
There are small chipdisks all over the place. In the middle is a short, bald man, watching each video clip in turn on a screen in front of him. Most of them would appear to be CCTV footage.
After a moment or two the door opens, and Professor Burts makes his way towards the little man, face deep in a frown and hands holding paperwork. He tries carefully not to tread on any of the films.
"Surely these are not all from the same candidate Hungerton." he says after a moment, settling down next to his technition. Hungerton nods.
"It has taken several days sir, and there are many more coming in." he sighs a little. "Dr Sandhu is a very pretty little man, do you not think?"
The professor eyes him. "I hope this is relavant to the file."
"Oh yes sir. The Department of Significant CCTV has managed to dig up a great deal on him. It appears he has been in many fights, that's why they've been kept. In case they were later important." A glance at the screen. "He appears to be being assaulted with a spider plant in this one."
"This is not relevant!" the professor snaps, rubbing his tired forehead. "More importantly, have you worked out where his portal goes yet?"
Wesley Hungerton fidgets and shakes his head.
"I've reintroduced the pen we fitted the transmitter into, but it's well out of our range. It's certainly not within a few miles of Holby. We simply don't have the technology to look further afield than that. The portal monitoring systems are stretched to the limit as it is. The furthest we've reached is candidate 6's portal, Miss Green, the sixteenth century witch. And hers reaches from the point they used to burn people to her home in the suburbs."
The professor nods.
"Very well, you are trying your best. Just see if you can locate the other half of Dr Sandhu's. It's going to be a lot more tricky to catch him if we can't."
15th November 2760
Room 27, Meyer Building
It had been the result of several terms long, hard work. Murder to store in the vacations, and even harder to hide from the lady who came to empty the autodisposal crusher now and again.
Finally, wiping the sweat off his forehead, Xerxes Foutian stepped back and admired his wardrobe.
And then he stepped forward, pulled a switch and disappeared.
In 126 West Building, some two hundred yards away, Oliver Sketch, a second year computer programming student, was most intrigued to see his friend appear in his wardrobe, make a few adjustments and then teleport back again.
Xerxes appeared several more times, going back and forth, until he dropped his sonic screwdriver in the middle. At which point he stopped, swore, and stayed in Oliver's room for a while to plan their extension of the teleportation unit to the dining hall.
In a completely different Holby several hundred years away, Wesley Hungerton cracked his fingers with satisfaction, and opened up a file.
"You asked me to prod him sir. Get some more items."
"I meant adding a bit of turbulance. Not thrusting a bloody interdimentional rod up in front of his feet!"
The professor sighs and shakes his head.
"Hungerton, this is a scientific project that relies firstly on him not suspecting anything, and secondly on not hurting him. These people are a valuable commodity. They are going to contribute to science. The public and investers will go spare if anyone is hurt in this experiment. As will I. He's a doctor and a human being, not an animal."
He rubs his forehead and paces a little. Wesley quivers a little then scurries after him.
"Professor? I'm truly sorry sir. I have eight of the other candidates lined up, research is continuing as we speak sir. And we did get a lot of pens off of Doctor Sandhu."
"And you've organised the compensation? In the correct currency? This must not go wrong Hungerton, there is too much at stake."
"Yes sir. It's almost all set. Should be ready in just under two months sir."
"Good. No more stunts Hungerton. You should have enough linked material now. Any luck with the portal?"
Wesley nods a little. "Gradual increase sir. Should have it up enough on schedule."
June 19th 3083
Programme of Interdimentional Social Studies
The floorboards outside creak as the short, bald-headed man knocks timidly on the door. At a sound he enters, shuffling meekly up to the desk in front of him.
"What is it Hungerton? I'm a busy man."
Wesley Hungerton puts a small box on the desk.
"You asked me to keep a look out sir? For items for the... for the special project."
The man at the desk looks up, a curious grin spreading over his face. He slicks back his shiny black hair and turns to face Hungerton.
"And you have found something? Let me see it."
"Of course professor."
Wesley picks the small black object out of the box and passes it to Professor Burts.
"We picked it up a couple of days ago sir, in Interdimentional Lost Property. I've been running tests and it matches up with one of the samples. It has a philotic connection to two different worlds connected by a regularly used portal sir."
The professor examines it closely for a moment.
"This technology must be nearly a thousand years old. To think the citizens of Holby were travelling through space and time all the way back then." he reads the side. "Do we have a file on this Dr Sandhu?"
Wesley nods fervently. "We have a blood drop sir. It matches the skin sample on the device. All we need to do now is moniter it and work out the date."
A slow smile spreads across the professor's face.
"Good work Hungerton. Give the old portal a prod, see what else you can get off him. And add him to the list won't you? Sounds like he'll be an ideal candidate."