Mr Groat Becomes Confused
Deep in the velvety blackness of space, parallel to the Great Nebula of Pork-Chop, spins the ancient planet of Fabo2. Now, Fabo2 is not a particularly remarkable world. It looks quite similar to Earth in fact, although the poles are slightly different and the continents positioned oddly. Anyway, that’s beside the point. Hurtling through space towards Fabo2 at that moment was a meteor. At least, that’s what it appeared to be.
Mr and Mrs Groat owned a plantation south of the Missislurpy, a muddy river running almost the entire width of the Combined Districts of Allerica. The old couple raised goats and gardenias on their land; although, due to lack of imagination, not much raising was involved. Mr and Mrs Groat and the goats usually just sat in front of the telescreen with their feet and hooves up, munching on the hamburgers they had had delivered from the fast-food restaurant McRonald’s in the city.
One ordinary, unimaginative evening, Mr Groat put the trash out (even those without imagination have to do chores). Grumbling under his breath, he detached his bulk from the sofa and scooped up the rubbish bag from the bin.
‘Mrs Groat, I’m taking the garbage out,’ Mr Groat said, stomping out the kitchen door.
‘That’s nice, Mr Groat,’ Mrs Groat said with disinterest. She was watching a Poppy Street sing along for kids. (‘Arm bone connects to the hand bone, hand bone connects to the Eye-Phone, Eye-phone connects to the internet, internet connects to the Goooogle, Goooogle connects to the Over Council.’)
Mr Groat waddled down the dusty track leading away from the farmhouse. He dumped the fetid bags of filth into the battered steel bin then turned to walk back up the track. But something made him pause. He turned his podgy face skywards.
There was a burning orange light in the sky, gradually getting bigger as it came nearer. A faint roaring noise, like the sound of a fire flaring up when you toss human body parts into it, accompanied the light.
‘What on earth is that?’ Mr Groat frowned. He had no imagination, so he couldn’t work it out.
Shrugging, he began to plod back towards the house. A few seconds later, a massive meteor entered Fabo2’s atmosphere and slammed right into the Groats’ property. Ash, piping hot space debris and asteroid rocks flew everywhere, crushing the house and all the surrounding landscape flat. Mr Groat had been a strongman in a Travelling Sir Cuss, so he managed to stand his ground.
Mr Groat blinked and looked around in despair once the oily black smoke had cleared. ‘No!’ he moaned. ‘The gardenias! The goats! Mrs Groat!’
A swishing noise made him turn to look at the meteor itself. In fact, it wasn’t a meteor at all. It seemed to be metallic, and was a perfect sphere. A door-like section at its centre lay open, and a figure was crawling out of it.
The person emerging from the spacecraft (although Mr Groat didn’t know it was a spacecraft, as he had no imagination) was very similar to you and I. He, for it was male, had on a suit and carried a cane in one hand and a large movie encyclopaedia in the other. The man blinked, then noticed Mr Groat.
‘Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,’ the strange man enunciated slowly, after a moment of consulting his movie encyclopaedia.
‘Eh, wot?’ Mr Groat frowned, squinting at the man leafing through the thick leather-bound volume. ‘Who are you? What’s the meaning of crashing your thing on my land? By ecky thump, this is positively queer!’
‘Here’s looking at you, kid,’ the man said solemnly, advancing unsteadily towards the rather confused Mr Groat. ‘Bond. James Bond.’
‘O-okay, Mr Bond,’ Mr Groat stammered. ‘Will you bloody well tell me what you’re doing here? I don’t know, see, ‘cause I have no imagination.’
Mr Bond rested a hand cautiously on Mr Groat’s shoulder. ‘Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.’
‘My name’s not Louis, it’s...’
‘I’ll be back,’ Mr Bond told him, patting Mr Groat jerkily on the back. He then marched off briskly in the direction of the city, umbrella and movie encyclopaedia tucked under one arm.
Mr Groat stood blankly for a few seconds, attempting to think. Eventually he gave up. All he knew was that his house was destroyed and his wife probably dead. Then some instinct took him over, and Groat hurried after the stranger.
‘Wait! You can’t just leave me here!’ Mr Groat pleaded, tugging on the back of Mr Bond’s jacket. ‘Can’t you at least take me with you?’
‘You had me at ‘hello’,’ Mr Bond said. Without any further ado, he punched Mr Groat hard in the face. There was a metallic crunch.
Mr Groat drooped to the ground, unconscious. Mr Bond hauled him up and effortlessly slung him over one shoulder. He began the long walk to the city.
‘Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.’
Mr Groat opened his eyes. He seemed to be lying down, and could see a row of trees to his left. He rolled over, to see a busy sidewalk to his right. He sat up. Groat’s back hurt something dreadful, probably due to the park bench he was laying on. In the distance he could see the Urbandome and the Mall of Allerica.
‘What?’ Mr Groat frowned. ‘I’m-I’m in Mineapplepolice! But how…’
It was then that he noticed Mr Bond standing behind him, beaming and holding out an icecream cone in his direction. Groat coughed uncomfortably. ‘Is that for me? I don’t like icecream.’
‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,’ Mr Bond said, after flipping through the movie encyclopaedia.
Mr Groat was confused. No one had called him ‘dear’ before. ‘Say, can we go and get a hamburger?’
They sat together at a booth in McRonald’s, Fabo2’s premiere fast-food eatery. Mr Groat was halfway through his eighth Heart-Attack-In-A-Bun. Mr Bond watched him eat with interest, his own food remaining untouched.
Mr Groat finished the burger then began to study the menu again.
‘Take me to your leader,’ Mr Bond blurted out abruptly.
‘Huh?’ Mr Groat looked up from the menu. ‘Leader? Like, the most important person?’
Mr Bond paused to look over his movie encyclopaedia. ‘Marilyn Monroe?’
‘No, no. You must be meaning the High One, the head of the Over Council.’
All of a sudden, a change came over Mr Bond. He leant across the table and grabbed Groat by the collar. He hissed into his ear with a metallic-sounding grate to his voice. ‘TheHighOneHasTrickedYouAll.YouAllAreNotOfRightMind.TakeThis. Imagine.BeFree.LIBERATE.’
Mr Bond pressed a yellowed envelope into his palm, then stood up and walked briskly away. ‘May the force be with you.’
‘But…where are you going?’ Mr Groat asked, watching helplessly as Mr Bond walked away.
‘Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.’
And then he was gone.
Mr Groat cautiously drew a piece of parchment from the envelope and began to read the words typed onto it. After a few moments, there was a curious buzzing in his head and he had to put the paper down. A small voice in his head whispered: Forget it. Have another burger.
‘Waiter, I’d like a Double Everything With Extra Cheese, thanks,’ Mr Groat said automatically.
Forget that nasty stuff you read, the voice purred. The High One has helped all his people be free. Now your minds are uncluttered and you have bliss. Isn’t that right?
‘Dunno, I don’t have any imagination,’ Mr Groat said out loud, although he was unsure whom he was talking to.
Exactly, the voice purred.