Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Chapter Twelve

It had been the shopping trip to end all shopping trips – a jaunt across many centuries. But their work was done. They were back safely in Polly’s laboratory/workshop approximately 15 minutes after she had last left them with a pile of sandwiches. But for Drood and Bryan, they had been away for just short of three weeks. Drood had quite a bit of beard-growth on him now, so that would have to go otherwise people might be a bit perplexed as to how he’d managed to get so hirsute in just fifteen minutes. Bryan didn’t look any different at all, and seemed totally unfazed by all the time travelling and surprising turns that his life at this moment was taking. Drood flopped into a chair and ran his hand through his now unkempt mane of hair.
“So, did we do everything we needed to do?” He asked. His voice was cracked and hoarse, sounding dry and tired. Bryan slid into a chair next to him and produced a small rather battered looking notebook from the inside pocket of his leather jacket. He opened and began reading through some hastily scribbled notes.
“Groovy Converter purchased from a Mr Moffat in Hulke Antiques in the year 2154, alongside a genuine still in it’s original box Textya Flayva machine from Hulke Auction House in 2282. Both items then taken back to 2010, disassembled by a brilliant electronics expert called Noel Grimwade, who produces stupendous blue prints of the workings of these two amazing machines. Mr Grimwade’s assurance on his silence in both of these matters is secured through giving him a cheque for £250,000 from your personal bank account…” Bryan slowly turned the page over and continued to read his own notes, while Drood listened intently with his eyes closed, gently nodding his head from time to time. “The said blueprints with our names on them, are then patented with the Intellectual Property Office. Two new machines are made by the company Sherwin & Lloyd Manufacturing on the Hulke Industrial Estate from the blueprints. Both work perfectly.” Bryan paused again briefly to turn over one of the pages. “We manage, through some simple time travelling tricks to blag a slot to present our new inventions at the Royal Society’s Annual summer science exhibition in Edinburgh – we become an instant hit and in the only example ever on record, we are invited back on stage after our presentation for an encore…If you remember we waved the machines about and sang a rather moving rendition of “Love Shack” by the B-52’s.” Bryan’s eyebrows waggled triumphantly at this fine memory. “Our newly formed and registered company, the Hinchcliffe-Camfield Corporation is immediately swamped with orders for the new units…” Bryan slowly closed the book and sighed happily. Drood shook his head slowly.
“It feels so wrong…” he began. Then a huge grin spread across his face. “But we can’t fight history, can we?” The two of them sat in silence for a while, gazing down on the vast highways below them as the sun began to lower, casting huge shadows across the slopes of Silston Hill. “There is one thing we never worked out…” said Drood all of a sudden. Bryan half turned his head towards him, his eyes narrowed against the lowering sun.
“What’s that then?” He enquired.
“That million quid in my bank account. Where did that come from?” Drood sat forward a little. “I mean, I admit it came in very handy for bribing Mr Grimwade…” Bryan waved his hand to get attention.
“Ah, ah!” He snapped. “Remember, we don’t use the ‘B’ word. I like to think of it less as a…” here his voice dropped to a theatrical whisper, “’bribe’ …and more of a helpful greasing of the slipway of our careers as internationally renowned planet saving Professors and household names…” Drood snorted with laughter.
“You are absolutely loving this, aren’t you?” He guffawed. “But that million quid. It never really became clear. Was it Holly do you think?” Bryan slumped back in his chair, his hands behind his head.
“I think you think too much sometimes. Perhaps we did the money at some point, and put the announcement of it in the paper ourselves. Perhaps we didn’t. It’ll all work out eventually.” Just at that moment there was a gentle sigh from one of the doors and Polly entered the room again.
“Is everything alright, gentlemen?” She began. She paused in mid sentence and stride and looked at Drood’s suddenly rather full and scraggy beard. “Where did that come from?” Drood’s hands shot up to his face and he stroked the rather obvious beard with some embarrassment.
“Er…I forgot to shave this morning…” he began slowly, shaking his head even as he said it, knowing that this would not be taken seriously. “It’s a condition...?” He stumbled to the end of this pathetic explanation.
“Good heavens.” Said Polly, slowly slipping her glasses on for a closer look. “That is the most remarkable case of hirsutism I think I have ever seen…”
“Yeah, I’ve suffered with it for a while. Do you have anything that can help me tidy myself up a bit?” He fluffed up the hair on his head as well as if to make the point a little more believable. Funnily enough, Polly had just the thing for a situation like this.

Several floors down from her laboratory, Polly led Drood and Bryan into another gleaming white room, this time with ranks of what appeared to be display cabinets, and in each one there was a single item of very hi-tech looking technology. Polly cast her hand around her.
“These are just some of the items Professor’s Hinchcliffe and Camfield will bring to the world.” She walked slowly to the first cabinet. “From the Groovy Converter and the Textya Flayva, through the Alcohol Neuro-Tazer, and all the way through to the Lard Neutralizer, which allows you to eat as much fast food as you like, by turning the fat in the food into water as soon as it passes into your throat and before it reaches your stomach.” She stopped by one glass case and removed a small object which she lobbed almost carelessly at Drood. “Here, you’ll need this…” He caught it somewhat awkwardly. It was another typical advanced looking piece of clever technology with the Hinchcliffe-Camfield Corporation logo splashed across the side.
“What is it?” He asked. To him it just looked like an ice hockey mask, but mainly for the lower part of the face. It would cause the wearer to look a little bit like Hannibal Lecter.
“We market it under the name of ‘Bye Bye Beardie’ as it neutralises the beard hair follicles and stops them growing for a week at a time. Here…” She helped Drood hold the mask to his face. Her hands felt lovely – soft and cool. There was a brief tiny buzzing noise, then when Drood took the mask away his beard had gone, replaced with a smooth soft skin – like the closest shave he’d ever experienced.
“Wow…” he breathed. He proffered the item to Bryan. “You should try this man!” Bryan took an immediate step back.
“No way, the beard stays…” He involuntarily stroked his own beard with something akin to affection. Drood looked round this impressive room, and a thought struck him.
“Should you really be showing us all this stuff? I mean, won’t Professor Aldred get a bit snotty about it?” Polly was gently placing the ‘Bye Bye Beardie’ in it’s display case when Drood said this. She paused momentarily, before closing the top of the case. She took a deep breath and then turned towards Drood and Bryan.
“Yes, you’re quite right. He would go berserk if he knew I had shown you all this but…” She stumbled in her delivery of the words.
“What’s the matter, love?” Asked Bryan.
“But…how can I put this…” Polly was really struggling. “Oh sod it, I’m just going to have to say it.” She pointed to the display cases all around them. “You two never invented a single one of these items, did you?” Drood and Bryan looked at each other like naughty schoolboys caught midway through a daring apple raid on an orchard. Polly folded her arms. Her voice came again, only this time much more forcibly. “Did you?”

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