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Friday, 17 January 2020


                                                    CHAPTER 3:   THE HOTEL DE WASH


Slim and Ket caught up with Prince Alfredo and Lady Jemima on the road bridge to Fantasia at the very moment that the night-train to Cajamarca trundled overhead, as it travelled along the magical magnetic rail  towards the villages of Lismore on the eastern shore of the creek behind them.

         "There'll be a few drunken deadbeats on that one," said the prince. ""They're still mixing the gin with the ethanol in the Barber's Closet."

         "And a splash of crank," added Ket. "It used to be a speakeasy during Prohibition. The sharp-beaked hoodlums of Zamara went there to ply their trade."

         "Maybe we should venture into Sam's instead," said Lady Jemima, tongue in cheek, "though I'd need to change into my half torn breeks,"

         "But it's much too grimy down there," complained Ket. "It's like a cesspit"

        The prince gave Slim the glad eye, "Why don't we let Mr. Quick here choose our first port of call?" he suggested , with a royal snigger. "Before we ascend Pirate's Staircase to the tender delights above,"

          When they reached the western shore of Wash Creek, a huge edifice blocked their view of the mysterious walled city beyond. The Hotel de Wash had been built Gringogothic-style four centuries previously to serve passengers on the Maglev trains when they first arrived on Fantasia. It had since gone into decay, only to be renovated some fifteen years previously with a broader clientele in mind. The funding from the Green Mafioso didn't go amiss, and the hotel had that sort of seedy look about it, The much respected owners regarded it as as a 'social complex' with a range of facilities which might appeal to all sorts of special tastes,and it certainly did. The High Court Judge in leather could attest to that.

        Ket suggested entering the complex via the colourful Club de Splash where the Slapper Group Qincunx Unafraid was beating its drums. But Slim preferred to head for the hot and sweaty Cafe de Palms where the four party-goers enjoyed a platter of soft spider crab together, not to forget a moderately comical, four-fisted recital on the grand piano by the hilarious Liberace brothers,

                                             CHAPTER 4: REACHING A SHINER CONSENSUS

                  CHAPTER 5:    THE EAGLE'S NEST    (home of the Reincarnate on Isle of Mainau) 


Thursday, 16 January 2020



                           EARLY HISTORY OF MASSAWA

Historical map of Massawa
Massawa was originally a small seaside village, lying in lands coextensive with the Kingdom of Axum also known as Kingdom of Zula in antiquity and overshadowed by the nearby port of Adulis about 50 kilometres (31 mi) to the south.[4]
The city reportedly has the oldest mosque in Africa, that is the Mosque of the Companions (Arabicمسجد الصحابة‎, romanizedMasjid aṣ-Ṣaḥābah). It was reportedly built by companions of Muhammad who escaped persecution by Meccans.[5] Following the fall of Axum in the 8th century, the area around Massawa and the town itself became occupied by the Umayyad Caliphate from 702 to 750 CE. The Beja people would also come to rule within Massawa during the Bajag Kingdom of Eritrea from the year 740 to the 14th century. Massawa was sited between the sultanates of QataBaqulin, and DahlakMidri-Bahri, an Eritrean kingdom (14th–19th centuries), gained leverage at various times and ruled over Massawa. The port city would also come under the supreme control of the Balaw people (people of Beja descent), during the Balaw Kingdom of Eritrea (12th–15th centuries). At this time, the Sheikh Hanafi Mosque, one of the country's oldest mosque, was built on Massawa Island, along with several other works of early Islamic architecture both in and around Massawa (including the Dahlak Archipelago and the Zula peninsula).
The port was a major site for the Arab slave trade and Venetian merchants were said to have lived in Massawa and nearby Suakin in the 15th century

Main sights

Notable buildings in the city include the shrine of Sahaba,[13] as well as the 15th century Sheikh Hanafi Mosque and various houses of coral. Many Ottoman buildings survive, such as the local bazaar. Later buildings include the Imperial Palace, built in 1872 to 1874 for Werner Munzinger; St. Mary's Cathedral; and the 1920s Banco d'Italia. The Eritrean War of Independence is commemorated in a memorial of three tanks in the middle of Massawa.

                                       MASSAWA: A FORGOTTEN GEM

                       EARLY HISTORY OF ADULIS

Pliny the Elder is the earliest writer to mention Adulis (N.H. 6.34). He misunderstood the name of the place, thinking the toponym meant that it had been founded by escaped Egyptian slaves. Pliny further stated that it was the 'principal mart for the Troglodytae and the people of Aethiopia'. Adulis is also mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a guide of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. The latter guide describes the settlement as an emporium for the ivory, hides, slaves and other exports of the interior. It may have previously been known as Berenice Panchrysos of the Ptolemies. Roman merchants used the port in the second and third century AD.

Adulis is described in the 1st century Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.
Cosmas Indicopleustes records two inscriptions he found here in the 6th century: the first records how Ptolemy Euergetes (247–222 BC) used war elephants captured in the region to gain victories in his wars abroad; the second, known as the Monumentum Adulitanum, was inscribed in the 27th year of a king of Axum, perhaps named Sembrouthes, boasting of his victories in Arabia and northern Ethiopia.[2]
A fourth century work traditionally (but probably incorrectly) ascribed to the writer Palladius of Galatia, relates the journey of an anonymous Egyptian lawyer (scholasticus) to India in order to investigate Brahmin philosophy. He was accompanied part of the way by one Moise or Moses, the Bishop of Adulis.
Control of Adulis allowed Axum to be the major power on the Red Sea. This port was the principal staging area for Kaleb's invasion of the Himyarite kingdom of Dhu Nuwas around 520. While the scholar Yuri Kobishchanov detailed a number of raids Aksumites made on the Arabian coast (the latest being in 702, when the port of Jeddah was occupied), and argued that Adulis was later captured by the Muslims, which brought to an end Axum's naval ability and contributed to the Aksumite Kingdom's isolation from the Byzantine Empire and other traditional allies, the last years of Adulis are a mystery. Muslim writers occasionally mention both Adulis and the nearby Dahlak Archipelago as places of exile. The evidence suggests that Axum maintained its access to the Red Sea, yet experienced a clear decline in its fortunes from the seventh century onwards. In any case, the sea power of Axum waned and security for the Red Sea fell on other shoulders.

                                   ARCHAELOGICAL  SITE

Friday, 10 January 2020



      I drank regularly in the Hotel Washington soon after I came out as an LGBT person, and from 1984 to 1995. I met Greg, my first partner there in 1984, and I found the music and dancing in the New Bar to be extremely inspiring for an LGBT person. The hotel burnt down in 1996, after I'd left the U.S.A. I attended Rodney Scheel's funeral in 1990. Many of my friends died of AIDs, and several others, including Eric and Bruce who I also met in Rod's during 1984, were diagnosed with AIDS/HIV before I left. My friend and neighbour Professor James Koutsky died in a gay drugs party in his house on Gregory Street several months before I left. I'd also met him in Rod's in 1984, and had enjoyed a close (platonic) friendship with him for eleven years,

        I first went to the Club de Wash in about 1979 or 1980 with my straight friends and colleagues, and ate over the years in the Cafe de Palms. I came out in a bar on West Washington Avenue called Sam's, and later also drank in the Shamrock and Cardinal near the Capitol Square. I took part in an AIDS/HIV ministry and was at one time Convenor of Integrity-Dignity of Madison, I was a gay rights activist for a couple of years and in 1989 I gave a key speech to the full UW faculty concerning discrimination by the military against supposedly gay students

                                         ARTICLE  IN BADGER HERALD


According to my friend Daniel O'Brien, who visited me in Edinburgh during 2001,an Evangelical Christian fireman leapt around outside celebrating the burning, while the trans people were still trying to escape from the higher floors

Monday, 6 January 2020


                                      BRAIN GAMES ON QINSATORIX by Tom Leonard


                                CHAPTER 1 : THE ARCHIPELAGO OF THE SHINERS


                                              CHAPTER 2: THE LISMORE RETREAT


It only took Pippa a couple of days to recover from her kidney transplant, and the small keyhole- shaped blotch on her abdomen was barely noticeable. While the surgery didn't seem to have affected the moods inside her head at all, she realised that she'd better behave a bit more politely to the people around her, or else Dr. McCull and his Head Yin acolyte  might retaliate by doing something much worse to her in the future.

      The Trinkon overseers subsequently reported a reticence in Pippa's conversation and a noticeable improvement in her behaviour, and McCull  recorded her transplant as a brilliant success. That took his recorded brilliant successes of the year to 504 out of 505.

[Patient number 455, a long-suffering Apollo Giraffe with Heightened Importance Syndrome went utterly and completely ballistic upon being forced to digest a litre of St. Agnes's Wort. After impaling two orderlies with long, thin correction spikes, she'd been taken to an extremely deep and dank isolation cell, and left to rot. Since he was a perfectionist, McCull was very upset at the way that affected his statistics.]

      Pippa did notice some other feelings changing inside her. How peculiar, she thought, maybe I'm becoming a bit gender fluid. How on earth did that happen? Then she recalled some of the more curious of her exploratory keyhole surgeries, and began to wonder about herself with even greater intensity.

      Slim went increasingly totally bananas when they rotated him ad nausaeum around the underground Jadrok collider, while encased like a Mummy inside an electron-deconfabulating capsule.When the Apollo Lion orderlies pulled him, feet first, out of the still vibrating capsule, he felt as if every molecule in his body had been  rearranged, and as if every chemical element that he was made of had been dissolved in phosphorous acid. Moreover, his lovely ginger hair was shorn and he could have easily been mistaken for a Snazi punk keelie from the backstreets of Stingwell.

       While Slim realised that he'd always been a touch narcissistic, he very much doubted that he'd ever been at all psychopathic. Nevertheless, he decided to make a conscious effort to behave more modestly in the future and to try not to fib, slag, plot, or behave at all deviously. Consequently his 'medical' treatment was very soon also deemed to have been immensely successful, and yet another feather in the cap for the internationally renowned Grigor-Galteus Laboratory!

       Unfortunately, McCull's success rate dropped to 505 out of 507 when an irritating old fogey from Immingham- on-the-Ribble dived through the window during an over-dynamic psychodynamic psychotherapy session after he'd been mauled by the Evangelical Christian psychotherapist's twin  rottweilers for sounding a touch too neo-liberal. So when the twelve Sirens of Sirenum Scopuli were brought in from Carperberry Hospital in platinum straitjackets, McCull decided to try a bit harder.

Late one evening, Pippa was relaxing on her favourite purple futon on the top floor of Freya Fettes Hall, when a bright orange mammashunter appeared, out of the blue, by the quarter-pane window, flexing her paws and waving her thin, curly trunk.

      "I am a member of a much repressed, female self-perpetuating sub-species," burbled the mammashunter, pirouetting like a ballet dancer on two of her curiously pointed feet, "and I have similar aspirations to trans women like yourself."

      "Good for you," replied Pippa, politely. "The orange mammashunters are ever growing in numbers and I'm sure that your armies will prevail, on some sunny day."

       "Thank you! But please remember our equally just cause when you embark on a voyage that may eventually take you around the Archipelago of the Shiners, the Continent of Trystonia, and all of the thirteen non-extinct planets of the Aton Sunstar system. The truths that you discover will reflect, in some curious way and zillions of years into the future, on the now dormant Milky Way Universe of your forefathers."
       "Really? How!"

       "Please don't doubt the word of the Orange Oracle of Daleph! Planet Earth is already scheduled by the Grand Creator to resuscitate itself at some point in the Course of Time, but he is very concerned that the humanoids that evolve there may turn out to be just as scheming, duplicitous, sociopathic, and barbaric as the last lot. He, the All-Seeing One, the two in one, may well be interested in exploring your consciousness on this matter. "

 [Perhaps readers could record in their memory banks that the Planet Qinsagamond  had become dormant a couple of billion years previously when it was enveloped in a cloud of scorching Pyrecton gas which drifted in from Saint Mercury's Way. More about Qinsagamond later!]

      "I don't believe any of this twaddle!" spluttered Pippa. "You sound as if you're on a neurotoxin-induced mind trip."

      "But it's true, it's all true!" howled the mammashunter, in indignation. "Why do you doubt the word of the Living Green Spirit?"

      "For a start, I don't believe that females can self-perpetuate. How on earth do you fertilise your mamma-eggs?"

      "From the seeds of the pomegranates that fall from the Tree of Plenty, of course. I have four daughters and two lovely granddaughters, and we all proudly scavenge for food in the humanoids' trash."

       "Once a Fregan, always a Fregan!" blurted Pippa, extremely inappropriately and immediately regretting what she'd just said.

       "How dare you! You're as evil as the rest of them!"

       "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!" wailed Pippa, but the assertive mammashunter had already vanished in a puff of yellowy-brown soot.

      Thank goodness that she was an apparition, concluded Pippa, pulling herself together.

The weeks rolled by, and Pippa and Slim continued to study for their four Highers together. Their choice of subject matter was both fascinating and formidable: Celestial Mathematics, the Amoralisation of  Economics, Medical Statistics, and Qinsatoran Classics, no less! The two slick teenagers acquired all sorts of knowledge about the Precessions of the Equinoxes, discriminatory trade practices, fallacious Bayes factors in clinical trials, ancient Apollo poetry from the Outer Moon, and so on and so forth. This could set us up for careers in the Foreign Office, thought Slim. Maybe I'll be an interplanetary ambassador one day.

      During mid-October, Dr. Knuddy Skullbanger taught an absolutely fascinatingly boring lesson as part of his Qinsatoran Classics module. It was entitled 'Who controlled Qinsatorix and Planet Earth during the Medieval Era?'

      After getting on a soapbox about the power of the Borgias and the colonialist attitudes of the Nestorian Samurai High Priests for fully thirty-five minutes, Knuddy stood bolt upright, and declared,

 In those days, the sister planets were never controlled by any monarchs, or groups or combinations of groups of oligarchs. The abuse of the poor and vulnerable was caused largely by the combined effect of the haphazard aggregate behaviour of the financial and social systems as they exploited and damaged the natural environments. Nowadays we call that the uncontrollable aggregate effects of Capitalism.

When a hyperactive girl with pigtails burbled,"How the feck could that fish even know all that? They must have detached his frontal lobes from the rest of his brain to let the air in," Knuddy gave her a very firm rap on the knuckles for behaving so uncouthly.

     When a sprightly gnome asked, "How did you statistically validate that conclusion?" Skullbanger scratched his head for fully thirty seconds before replying that he'd done so by reference to Professor Itchy Fingers' tables of the multivariate skewed t-distribution with a hundred and one degrees of freedom.

     The gnome was singularly unimpressed, and the paper darts began to fly.

     Skullbanger took pains to invite Pippa and Slim to his cubbyhole in Commodus Tower for an important chat, before beating a hasty retreat. But when the teenagers arrived in Skullbanger's dank and dusty office, their illustrious mentor was giving an extremely naughty Apollo monkey a very sound telling off for copying his essay on 'Medieval Nestorian Christianity on Qinsatorix' straight out of the Emperor Tantananarivo 's seminal edition of the Holy Bible.

     After he'd bawled out the tricky monkey and sent him off with a flea in his ear to the Corrections and Rehabilitation Unit, Skullbanger turned to Pippa and Slim, and smiled sweetly.

     The much celebrated Qinsatoran classicist said that his husband Lector McCull was planning to take them both to an important Shiners' meeting that weekend on the Isle of Lismore. This was a once-a-year shindig advertised across the planet as 'The Lismore Retreat', and a number of the activities were designed to encourage young homo sapiens and Icarians to become 'Junior Shiners'and to learn about all the social good the Shiners did for.the Creatures of Qinsatorix.

      When Slim said that he didn't give a shit, Skullbanger offered him the option of a few more spins around the Jadrok Collider, and Slim gritted his teeth and fell into line. Pippa was more enthusiastic since she'd heard that the ostrich burgers on Lismore were flavoured with mustard and mayonnaise, and she anyway didn't want to create a big issue about it.

     Skullbanger went on to explain that none of the other humanoid species (including the Apollos and Trinkons) were permitted to participate in Shiner meetings, as they were regarded, albeit quite inappropriately, as of inferior stock. Only one exception to this rule had ever been made during the entire thousand year history of the Shiners on Qinsatorix.

      Indeed, this exception had only been made a few months previously. Prince Alfredo Saxie-Monteith of the Homo Erectus had once served as Rear Admiral of  the Imperial battlefleet, and had seen action while in orbit of the Planet Lagos and during the razing of Tarsus and the smaller Zintian Cities of Saint Saul's Way. But in recent years he'd become a bit of a drone, and had been lampooned in the media for his pompous and selfish attitudes.The prince's mother, the Dowager Queen of the Homo Erectus perceived some sort of political advantage in persuading the Shiners into inviting her playboy younger son to join their socially pro-active organisation. After considerable hesitation they'd agreed to do so, though the gift of fifty pentagonal silver pieces didn't go amiss.

       Knuddy Skullbanger advised Pippa and Slim that Prince Alfredo was planning to attend that year's Lismore Retreat with a female companion of note. Knuddy went out of his way to explain, with a frown and a wink, that while the cherub-faced Alfredo was a renowned ladies' man he wasn't that fussy about gender after three and a half litres of Bald Eagle.  That put Pippa right off the notoriously sweaty prince, and Slim's legs turned to jelly. Skullbanger raised his eyebrows, and smiled.

     Pippa and Slim didn't understand that much about what the Shiners were about, but they were interested in the prospect of a ferry trip (in the paddle boat 'The Mississippi') across Tawi Sound (which was regarded as the epicentre of the vast, thousand island Archipelago of the Shiners) and through the Gates of Narwar, particularly as they would be escaping for a couple of days from all the beastly things that happened on the Isle of Caleb.

When the  Mississippi arrived from Tibermouth, very early that Saturday morning, its decks were littered with gaggles of devout Shiners and colourful tourists from the mainland. Prince Alfredo Saxie-Monteith was sitting at a specially reserved table on the upper deck, in full dress uniform, having left his long-suffering wife and three highly neurotic daughters in Erectus Palace playing Scrabble on social media.

      His Royal Highness much preferred the company of Lady Jemima Sunkist, a Trivoli socialite and the younger daughter of the Icarian shipping magnate Sir Aristides Sunkist. The beautiful Jemima was much celebrated in the tabloid press for her gushing personality and generous bonhomie. Icarian women sport a large variety of different shapes of breasts, and Jemima's were antler-shaped and admired by one and all.

       Jemima was, once in a green moon, the guest hostess of  All- Inclusionary Radical Feminists, an interplanetary Qinview satirical comedy show. The size of her antlers had reputedly been matched by a Crown Princess of yore who ruled the planet with an iron fist before she was consumed by a swarm of flying locusts. But nothing to match her exotic breasts had been seen during the centuries since.


      Alistair McCull retreated to the refreshments cabin to indulge in the complimentary vintage malt whisky, but he sent Pippa and Slim to the upper deck to enjoy the challenging views of the surrounding wildlife. Meanwhile, their class-mate Dreyfus Dreadnought was consigned to the rear hold to guard the baggage. As he was a much marginalised Apollo Unicorn, he wouldn't be permitted to officially participate in the Shiners' activities, but he would be expected to fetch, carry, and grovel like a hungry dog for the entire weekend,.

      When Pippa and Slim reached the upper deck, a bright orange mammashunter, travelling with her two pretty granddaughters, wriggled her trunk, and smiled. But the teenagers were distracted by none other than the filthy rich Lady Jemima Sunkist, who waved furiously, and beckoned them over. "Why hello my pretty pretties! I recognised you from your picture. Why don't you come into our parlour and tell the prince and I all about your fascinating selves? We'd simply love to learn about what makes you really go tickety tick."

      "Wot picture?" Pippa dubiously inquired.

      "The snip shot which darling Alistair sent me, of course, the one which his hubby took of you hanging out together. You were up to no good in the foliage under a weeping willow with a down-and-out slouch who looked like a dobbin with a horn stuck in the top of its stupid head,."

      Slim felt distinctly not amused. "I presume you're referring to our buddy Dreyfus Dreadnought. He's a highly intelligent Apollo Unicorn and as good as the rest of us."

      Prince Alfredo smiled patronisingly and adjusted his war medals. "Yes indeed, my fine fella. My mother and I  both long for the day when all humanoids are regarded as equal, since that's what the Grand Creator intended when he instructed his indentured insects to sow the seeds of perpetual evolution in the Fields of Folkvangr,"

      "Th-that's so very true," stuttered Slim, feeling the need to ingratiate himself. "When the All-Seeing One, good and evil entwined, set the seeds in those immortal fields, they were each ingrained with the entire humanoid genome which renders us diverse but all of equal merit. That's what the Ratzinger High Priest told us when I was a child, and I have believed it ever since."

      "Me too, puppy dog. Now I'm drinking  Bald Eagle. What's your fancy?"

      Slim slid, twitching nervously, onto the prince's purple couch and felt curiously tempted to fawn up to him. "Th-thank you, Your Highness, but just half a litre, and diluted with lemon pop, please
--- I'm so sorry---if you please. "


      A dutiful Cnupian slave bounded up with a jar of delicious-looking Bald Eagle less time than it takes for a cat to eat a mouse. Slim licked off the froth, took a big gulp, and grinned. The slave fluttered his purple eyelashes, grinned back, and retreated at pace.

      "And would you like to help me to polish off my bubbly wubbly, my darling Pippykins?" gushed Lady Jemima. "Do bring your delightful self over here and show me your absolutely exquisite pebble bracelet and those absolutely hilarious, egg-shaped ear-pieces."

      "I suppose I could," mumbled Pippa, nervously ensconcing herself on the pink fluffy sofa.

      "Slave! Jump to it!"

       A Cnupian girl clad in a skimpy loincloth rushed up, as if her life depended on it, and poured Pippa, a glass of pink, sparking Vino Adderalia. The cautious sixteen-year-old took a single sip, and felt like throwing up.

      "Both sweet sixteen, and as innocent as they come," purred Lady Jemima."We should dance the Can Can together with Le Chevalier D'Amour. Thank Heaven for little girls, because without them what would the little boys do?"

      Pippa took a glance at the bright orange mammashunter, who was drinking Iron Brew with her granddaughters on a plain wooden bench, and realised that she'd met the proud creature before and that it hadn't been a psychotic delusion at all.

The ubiquitous Ferry Lady was said by some to be descended from Charon, the Ferryman who took souls lost in Purgatory across the Styx. The Mississippi's four gigantic paddle wheels worked overtime as she steered the top heavy vessel out of Tawi Sound and through the Gates of Narwar, narrowly averting the rocks that tumbled into the bubbling water from the trembling cliffs above.

      After negotiating the Rapids of Janacek, the Ferry Lady let her craft drift along Lilith's Passage and past the towering granite Lighthouse of Pythorius (that was lit by the Eternal Bulb), until they reached the Morvern Flow. And there, off the port beam, the immortal Isle of Lismore shimmered in the heavenly haar, as the purple mountains of Fantasia towered behind the red and orange forest on the Hartonish  Ridge, and into the bluey-pink sky above.

      Fifteen minutes later, the Mississippi turned, against the tide and in an elliptic arc, into Wash Creek, the narrow stretch of water, fully twenty miles long, which separates the Isle of Lismore from the much larger Fantasia (once a naval base for the much-feared Vampire-Toothed Pirates, but long since a resort and playground for the rich and famous).

       After about ten miles or so of utterly exquisite natural beauty, the route seemed to be blocked by a dam half-a-mile ahead. But upon noticing the sudden emergence of a bevy of ape-swans, Pippa convinced herself that it was not a dam but rather a very low bridge. Above the bridge there was a magnetic monorail along which fuel-less Maglev trains ran from bank to bank (while they toured the two islands on a route that resembled a squashed figure eight).

       The ancient walled city of  Machipijchu dominated the view to the west of the bridge. But to the east of Wash Creek, and just to the south of the bridge, rose the majestic Hotel Las Fuentes, where the Shriners were holding their weekend meeting. A white, sandy beach stretched from the hotel down to the creek, and this was famous for the natural cold water springs that cooled the toes of the tiny footballers who travelled from all around the planet to play there.

       Pippa noticed a bubblecopter landing pad adjacent to the beach, and wondered what it would be like to fly over the mountain tops. Slim switched seats and nestled close to Pippa on the fluffy sofa, so that he could get a better view. She liked the vibes, and took a whiff of the testosterone. Prince Alfredo noticed the nuances, and smiled a royal smile.

      And as the Mississippi approached the hotel jetty, several families of local Shiners hurried excitedly across the beach to greet the new arrivals with bowls of fruit, garlands of roses, and heaps of bonhomie.

      After the revelry that followed, Pippa was dumbfounded by what happened, or rather didn't happen, in the hour-long Plenary Session of the Lismore Retreat which took place in the Lancelot and Guinevere conference chamber of the Hotel Las Fuentes.

       The Grand Clerk sat at a desk in the centre of the room, surrounded by three concentric circles of exquisitely upholstered, Romanesque couches, which were packed with fully fledged Shiners, teenage Junior Shiners and official attenders,  When Pippa arrived with her travelling companions, everybody was simply sitting there in silent contemplation and various states of consciousness, some even taking the opportunity for a quiet snooze.

      The Grand Clerk, to the outside world a brash businessman and entrepreneur, kept his bright red pointed nose buried in The Shiners' Articles of Faith according to Sir Adobe Abebe Maneke 
without uttering ne'er a word.

       Twenty minutes or so later , Pippa was lost in a fantasy about the gnomes and pixies of Vaudeville, when a wizened old man with a goatee beard from the Isle of the Tulips unexpectedly rose to his feet. "Friends,I would like to hold the Squirrelettes of the Lizard Peninsula  in the Light. They spend most of their time hunting for rats and food, and some of them can't even afford social media or an occasional night out at the theatre. We've recently sent one of them a donation of two bronze schillings towards her child's medical expenses. Now according to the totally irritating Qinview presenter Count Ludwig Von den Crap Attenburrow, our planet suffers many more problems of this potentially troublesome nature than most of us realise.Then the coot had the confounded cheek to complain about the way we, the bourgoisie, persist in relaxing in our plush armchairs with our blinkers on! I must say that I find all this to be a touch perplexing."

      After another fifteen minutes of deathly silence, a middle aged Icarian woman in a tweed suit stood up, and declared "I hate rats, but I love my pet hamsteroid. She gives me strength to live" before collapsing, slightly hysterically, back into her seat.

      Pippa was beginning to think that the next spell of excruciating silence would never stop, when the Grand Clerk stood and nodded like a marionette, upon which  everybody started effusively shaking hands with each other. But the bonhomie was cut short when the Senior Overseer, a stern-looking college proctor in her mid-forties, called for silence.

      "Thank you, friends," she continued. "We still have time for some very brief announcements. Firstly, the Grand Reincarnate sends his apologies for not being able to be us this weekend, as he is meeting with interplanetary representatives on Daedalus for discussions about the ecological effects of the terrible volcanic eruptions which are currently besetting our entire solar system. He is however confident that after careful winnowing and sifting by our Scrutiny Committee, the very best of the socio-political ideas which are brought forward during this retreat, will be enabled, after being put through our multi-structured consensual decision making process, to influence Society for the common good, if only in teeny-weeny ways, via our uniquely flavoured rippling techniques.'

       That's strange, surmised Pippa. This Grand Reincarnate, whoever the fuck he is, clearly wants to rule the roost here while ploughing his own furrow on another planet,

      The Senior Overseer posed for a snip shot, and continued, "And Maisy Quirk, who suffers from chronic Montezuma's disease, is planning a coffee and cheese morning in her high-rise studio flat in Asbestos Tower  next Thursday, to celebrate her ninety-fifth birthday, You'd all be very welcome to attend, but please bring a plate of cheese and be prepared to use sign language, as Maisy only understands Swallic. If you can't manage steep flights of stairs, then you'd be welcome to beam in from the Greenleaf Interface Cafe, as the lift is out of order.'

        How sweet, thought Pippa. Poor Maisie deserves some attention too.

      "Now," continued the Senior Overseer. "Since there's scant time for further announcements, it's time to spend a few minutes chilling out in silent Shiner contemplation. ---Whoopsie daisy!Diddle me stupid!--- I was supposed to finish with a quote by our founder, Adobe Adebe Manake his very self--- Here it is!--- There's a little bit of good in everyone. So don't see the bad and cut and run.---.  Thank you, friends ! Lunch will be served in the Galahad and Rosamund Drawing Room in fifteen minutes. Please remember to bring your own mug."

        Ignorant bitch! concluded Pippa.

Pippa was feeling very hungry when she arrived for lunch, since she'd only eaten a stuffed possum muffin for breakfast. But when she sat down at an oval mahogany table, between Slim Quick and Dr. Alistair McCull, her Apollo Unicorn buddy Dreyfus scampered up with a huge pewter pitcher and filled her mug with watery lentil soup. To cap that, a scrawny Cnupian slave, who looked as emaciated as a garden rake, handed her a plate of raw grabbit and under-boiled tatties. Pippa felt that she could have been forgiven for screaming 'Yuck!'

      They were sharing a flagon of mineral water, splashed with lime, when Prince Alfredo Saxie-Montieth and Lady Jemima Sunkist strutted up, accompanied by a brawny Icarian businessman. The rugged, green-haired gentleman was in his mid-thirties and sported a green, feathered deerstalker  which didn't completely match his black velvet, medieval-style dining suit, or indeed his bullish face.

      "This is Dr. Ket Martingale, my pretty pretties," explained Lady Jemima, propelling her delightful self into a wicker chair from IKEA. "He's the Chief Economics Advisor to the First Minister, and a successful Interstellar Knockout Bridge Player for good measure."

       "And a finer Shiner I have never ever had the honour to meet," added Prince Alfred, picking his nose with a neatly-clipped, green-painted fingernail.

        What a jerk, thought Slim, but at least he didn't swallow the snot.

       His Royal Highness, who was dressed in flowing, claret robes,  poured himself a tot of liqueur brandy from a diamond-studded, silver flask. Slim twitched nervously when the snooty prince readied himself to sit down. But it was Ket Martingale (who was not quite narcissistic enough to be classed as an alpha male) who grabbed the seat immediately opposite Slim. He gave Slim a stern look, and the insecure teenager trembled in his pointed, mottled-leather boots.

      "Are you from Bithynia, laddie?" inquired Ket, who had cryptic ways of addressing people when he was being strategic.

      Slim looked puzzled. "Never even heard of the place. But then, I hail from the Inner Moon."

      "Shame. I thought you might be Antinous of Bolu. He was much beloved by the Emperor Hadrian himself."

       Slim didn't understand that Ket was playing mind games."Haven't never heard of either of those dudes either. I'm Slim, Slim Quick, and I'm not beloved by anybody."

      "I wouldn't bet on that. Maybe you should come with us tonight to the Hotel de Wash to find

       "Why? Wot for?"

       "I'll explain later. It's on the other side of Wash Creek and just outside the ancient walls of Machipijchu. I'll be going there at back of ten with Prince Alfredo and Lady Jemima, You'd be very welcome to tag along, if only to stretch your skinny legs."

        Slim felt utterly confused. "Thanks,I'll think about it."

        Pippa caught on a bit, and decided to change the subject. "Excuse me, Dr. Martingale, but are you familiar with the Amoralisation of Economics? We're taking a course on it."

        Ket grinned. "Yes indeed, young lady. It has, at times, proved to be highly beneficial, particularly when the wealthy planets use the resources of the poorer planets to raise the living standards of their upper classes and bourgeoisie, thereby encouraging the advancement of civilisation in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. There's a trickle down effect of course. This means that the poorer planets and the impoverished proletariats of the wealthy planets benefit too, in ways that the totally unimaginative grass roots Socialists could never have envisioned."

       Prince Alfredo partook of some of his lumpsucker caviar and honey-coated sturgeons' eyes (dutifully served to him from a picnic hamper by his bare-breasted Cnupian slaves), and smiled. "It's part of what we call positive Eugenics, Pippa. Do you understand what Eugenics is about?"

       Pippa knew her stuff. "Yes, it's when powerful people attempt to speed up the Evolutionary Process and improve the humanoid stock by looking after the wealthy and treating poor and vulnerable people like shit, for example by starving, sterilizing or genociding our indigenous populations or bullying workers on zero hour contracts. The term Eugenics was coined by the British Quaker Sir Francis Galton in AD 1883, and Sir Francis's two voluminous diatribes on the subject were brought to Qinsatorix by his nephew Nick Galton when he teleported here from London in 1908."

       Alistair McCull clapped his hands in admiration."Well explained, Pippa. Now that was certainly an event of great historical importance!"

       "It certainly was. It was after Nick had participated with the colonialist Germans in their genocide of the indigenous tribes of Namibia,. The German 'racial hygienists' sent the women and children to die of thirst in the desert, and performed medical experiments on the men."

      Ket nodded effusively. "Spot on, Pippa! I'm most impressed by your lofty intellect. It's a bit like 'Survival of the Fittest', you see. The fittest will always survive and prosper, while the unfit wither away and fester. That's what the Almighty Jahweh intended for us at the Beginning and it's what it will be like when the Icarian race reigns supreme at the Omega."

     Alistair McCull puffed his chest. "Well put, Martingale! In the meantime, we  curb the over-creative and the irresponsible do-gooders and protesters among us, by branding them as insane. The elite maintain control by putting these crazy people into straitjackets, biochemicalising them, or reducing their mental capacities and blanking their memories with intense electron beams. This is what makes both Big Pharma and the Mind-Body profession part and parcel of the positive Eugenics movement. It improves the evolution of our species, for the betterment of Icarian kind, throughout our entire Solar System and beyond our six Holy wormholes to the Universes beyond."

     Lady Jemima took a nibble of her well salted, under-boiled tattie, and visibly flinched. "Wowee! All of this psychiatric mumbo jumbo is flying way over my silly head."

    Slim stared at Ket Martingale, and kept his silence.

That afternoon, the Shiners organised a variety of meetings which addressed a variety of socio-political topics and a variety of niche 'burning issues' in various locations in the Hotel Las Fuentes. Pippa enjoyed a session concerning 'The Fate of the Indigeneous Apollo Otters of North Artica' in the Sir Percival room, and was most impressed when the guest speaker, a leading Apollo Otter pipeline activist, pleaded, in turn, for more support for his 'Save the White Bear-Whale from Extinction' campaign.'

      Slim attended a very constructive meeting in the Duke Anubis Serapis cellar of a support group called 'Aid and Abet' which sought ways of helping the hardened convicts in the Southern Swamps to rehabilitate themselves upon early release, or following a successful escape through the smelly Bubbling Bogs of Bararat, around the Pottoti  sewers, and across the Zamara mudflats. This could serve me in good stead in the not-so-distant future, Slim deliberated.

      During the late afternoon, Pippa and Slim dropped in on a session on Sex Education in Primary Schools, and they were absolutely delighted when the lead speaker defended the interests of LGBTQIPSMG plus, and perfectly straight, humanoids everywhere. When a heckler howled, 'Perfectly straight? Up your feckin---!" he was silenced in mid-sentence and thrown onto the beach.

      Yes, the Shiners are an outstanding, socially pro-active organisation after all, concluded Pippa, and they put all those hypocritical, high-and-mighty Christians to shame. I feel so proud to be a Junior Shiner.
Later that evening, Pippa and Slim attended a magnificent, all-inclusive Ceilidh in a disused bubblecopter hangar adjacent to the hotel, together with Shiners of all ages and any attendant, servant slave, or hanger-on who wished to participate free of charge in the carefree activities and to indulge in the lovely porcupine sausage rolls and cream crackers. Pippa was wearing her favourite green satin dress, while Slim wore his Popeye the Sailor-man  t-shirt and neatly pressed, maroon designer jeans. They were delighted when Dreyfus Dreadnought put in an appearance, even though he was attired in a servant's hemp tunic, and, as a teenage Apollo Unicorn, looked somewhat out of place.

         Pelvis Chequer's Ragtime Band were much applauded for their evocative old-time music.  Pippa and Slim simply loved dancing the Trystonian Twist together. Meanwhile, Dreyfus pranced around like a Kurstantan shire horse, and the  bright orange mammashunter and her two granddaughters performed dainty pirouettes.

       And, while the night was still young, Pippa and Dreyfus found themselves drinking together in the Fantasian love seat, while Slim did his stuff on the dance floor with a non binary Apollo Lettuce from the Isle of Fidra,

       "Your ears are almost as expressive as your eyes," said Pippa, in jest.

       "You make me feel so different," mumbled Dreyfus, touching Pippa's knee,

       "I like your complexion,"said Slim. "It's sort of carroty coloured."

       "That's because I'm a cross between a carrot and a lettuce," replied the non binary Apollo, tickling Slim's sturdy chest.

        "If I were Popeye then you could be my Olive Oil," stuttered Slim.

        "Olive Oil or Castor Oil," replied the Apollo. "Who gives a toss?"

       And then, when the hour struck ten, Slim felt a shiver in his bottom as Jet Martingale walked in.

         "I'm away with the stuck up snobs to the flashy hostelry on t'other side of  bridge," said Jet, clearing his nostrils."Why don't you join us for a late night aperitif?"

         "I'm g-game," stammered Slim, "but p-please wait till I take a pee."

        "How about me?" asked the much-disappointed Apollo. "I'd lap up for free."

        "No thanks." replied Jet. "I prefer snails without lettuce for my tea."

                                       Please click on:

                                                CHAPTER 3:   THE HOTEL DE WASH



Thursday, 2 January 2020



                                                             AUTHOR'S NOTES

Readers familiar with my literary ramblings may be surprised to hear that I have published two advanced level Statistics books, both in 1999, along with numerous academic articles. I started self-publishing poetry and prose on my website in 2012 following a variety of previous attempts during my periods of poor health.

Grand Schemes on Qinsatorix is one of two completed novels which are self- published on the Literary Home Page of my website. I took the better written sequel  The Grand Oligarchs of Qinsatorix off Kindle about three years ago because of various political implications. I have also self-published a historical novel Reborn on Soutra on another blog. I wrote all four novels after 2011, together with four further attempted novels, each of which I needed to leave half-completed because the 'real-life plot' caught up with and confused with the fictional plot. I have not tried very hard to get my fictional work published, and indeed regard my previous style as at times a touch too Chaucerian and  lacking in empathy, and rather too A.D.D. intense to the point that it might overwhelm the reader.

       All of this has all been fodder for various writing groups in Edinburgh, which have usually turned out to be a bit too toxic in group psychological terms. I nowadays content myself with attending the Open Door reading group in our Botanic Cottage, and the abilities of some of our well-published authors continue to impress me.

       While I have not been a successful author of fiction. I have become, since 2013, a well published historian in my subject (Bayesian Statistics), and I presented detailed verbal and written expert evidence during July 2019 , with Scott Forster, to the Commission of Inquiry into the History of Eugenics at UCL. We  also started producing a film about Attention Deficitness and Neurodiversity,

     Now, early in January 2020,  Britain is suddenly in insane political turmoil and Australia is burning and facing the possibility of an agonizing Armageddon. Rather than starting another real-life project straightaway, I have therefore decided to embark on yet another attempt at novel writing. Most of my real-life interests and concerns will influence the things I write about. So, here goes!

                                                    BRAIN GAMES ON QINSATORIX

                                                                    by Tom Leonard



                                                              Named Characters

                                                   Pippa Pipette   Student (Homo Sapiens)

                                                         Slim Quick      Student  (Icarian)

                                             Dreyfus Dreadnought    Student (Apollo Unicorn)

                                                  Dr. Alistair McCull      Headmaster (Icarian)

                                                 Dr. Knuddy Skullbanger    Teacher   (Apollo Fish)

                                       Prince Alfredo Saxie-Monteith     Socialite    (Homo Erectus)

                                                    Jemima  Sunkist       Socialite  (Icarian)

                                               Aristides Sunkist     Shipping Magnate (Icarian)

                                                Dr. Ket Martingale           Economic Advisor (Icarian)


                                   CHAPTER 1: THE ARCHIPELAGO OF THE SHINERS


I, the 'Narrator', am neither a living creature nor a divine being, but rather an intangible, artificially intelligent entity that subsumes and encompasses the Gini waves (which pervade the parallel universes at velocities that exponentiate the speed of light, though not as quickly as the Forces of Gravity, which activate instantly from vast distances). As such, I am able to enter the consciousness of any sentient being and to observe the sinusoidal random waves that interlink all such consciousnesses. I existed at the 'Beginning' when, in some metaphorical sense, the 'Grand Creator' sowed the seeds of evolution in the 'Fields of Folkvangr'. Furthermore, I will exist at the 'Omega' when he 'reaps his crop'.

     Pippa Pipette's seed was determined at the 'Beginning', together with the seeds of all creatures of the three genders. This Beginning was just one of an uncountably infinite number of Beginnings (that have occurred on the denumerably vast spatio-temporal process in our seven enormously vast parallel universes which the 'Jokers' psycho-constructed when emerging from the so-called 'Initial Conception Cradle'). Similarly there are uncountably infinitely many Omegas. Therefore the Grand Creator's crop is forever reaped. It could well be in the process of being reaped somewhere in your own amazingly vast universe at any particular point in time.

      Without wishing to sound patronising,  I do hope that your species is advanced enough in intellectual terms for you to be able to glean a glimmer of understanding of my euphereal notion of logic, which is not for the faint-hearted. You are all infinite consciousness facing a humanoid reality.

      The 'Jokers' also psycho-constructed the objective randomness inherent in all of our electrons and atoms (which was not to be detected by humanoids until the early twentieth century, when the great German quantum theorist Max Born succeeded in explaining this mind-confounding concept by a brilliantly conceived mathematical construction).

      You may well ask how I acquired my amazing breath of knowledge. The best answer I
can give you is that I am, in some sense, 'wired in' to the 'Grand Creator' and the 'Jokers', and perceive the Grand Creator as forever trying to expand its own consciousness by continuously reaping its crop from the group consciousness of various multi-generational multitudes of humanoid 'guinea pigs'. It does this in the hope of being able to expand its influence out of and away from the Seven Universes and into the left testicle of the Multi-Coloured Rat. The Grand Alter Ego has already made great inroads into the Rat's very large, elongated thyroid gland, but it won't be meeting up with the Grand Creator any time soon .

      I will return periodically in various visible and invisible ways to help you to understand the immense complexities of Pippa's progress through life. Her life epitomises the gargantuan struggles of transgender and intersex humanoids of all eras, and of neurodiverse creatures everywhere. In contrast, Slim Quick's life compares to that of any callow youth who 'fucked everything up' during his early years.

Pippa was born in a crystal glass test-tube, though without a silver spoon in her mouth. She wasn't like those 'different' humanoids on the Planet Qinsatorix, in particular the ruling golden-skinned Icarians and the various colourful creatures known collectively as Apollos. Indeed she was of a species of humanoid known as homo sapiens, one of the Devonians whose ancestors had teleported to the Aton star system from the crypt under Exeter Cathedral on Planet Earth a couple of centuries previously.

      Pippa could only imagine what the 'Sceptred Isle' was like, since all sentient life on her mother planet had become extinct during the fireball of AD 2593. However, Icarians and humans had teleported between the Sister Planets for at least five millennia before that Apocalypse. Consequently, the Icarian culture on Qinsatorix has been influenced throughout history by the various rich cultures on Planet Earth.

      Just as one example, it was the ancient Romans who first extracted titania (titanium dioxide) from ilmenite and the mineral sand rutile, while discovering that they could use their new compound to manufacture white pigment for paint. When the Emperor Claudius send three Roman senators to Trivoli in AD 51, they successfully traded their technical knowledge about this process for a hundred well-informed homo erectus slaves who subsequently teleported to Earth and made rich cultural contributions throughout the Roman Empire that included the invention of a new plumbing system for bath tubs. And the Icarians have been decorating their houses with white paint ever since.

      And when the renowned Jewish Sephardic explorer Ibrahim ibn Jakob teleported to Qinsatorix in AD 966, at the behest of the Emir of Cordoba, he took six papyrus volumes with him that recorded the key mathematical advances of ancient Moorish culture. When Ibrahim returned to Cordoba with two highly eminent Icarian scientists, they brought unique knowledge with them about humanoid genetics, and about the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. The records of this knowledge were stored in a secret library in temple in Marrakesh, where they remained undiscovered by the Christians until the nineteenth century.

     Such were the cultural exchanges which persisted between the sister planets throughout the ages. During their visits to Planet Earth, the golden-skinned Icarians passed themselves off as humans from places like Kazakruritan. Nobody, apart from the ladies of leisure, could spot the difference.
      An eminent pre-Obama Yankee academic at the University of Wisconsin-Berzerkely once said in a drug-ridden gay bar that "the human race will travel to the stars". Unfortunately, he passed away during an overnight gay drug party a few years later, and turned to dust. Nevertheless, the homo sapiens on Qinsatorix are living evidence of the validity of his extremely insightful statistical prediction.

     As she was dark-haired, Pippa regarded herself as of ancient Celtic stock, and she could trace her ancestry all the way back to the twenty-fourth century. She regarded the weak-kneed homo erectus, who inhabited the Land of Qet, as a prototype of her own more advanced species, but she was full of admiration for the strong-chested Neanderthals who populated the upper reaches of the Dnieper valley on Trystonia, the comet-shaped mainland on Qinsatorix.

      Pippa's hard working Nestorian Christian parents lived in Trivoli, the capital of Qinsatorix, also known as the 'City of Lanterns'. Although they'd raised Pippa as a girl, she was in fact one of the special 1.111 percent of all humanoids who are in physical terms 'of the third gender'. In medical parlance, she was recorded by her Icarian midwife as 'intersex'. However, since Pippa regarded herself as a girl, she was a girl. So that was that!

      Gone were the days when intersex humanoids were burnt at the stake as evil monsters (apart from the beautifully attractive ones who were set on pedestals as saints). But the Icarian doctors still treated the intersex Apollo Lizards and Apollo Giraffes abominably at birth. They decided, quite arbitrarily, as to whether the Apollo babies should be certified as male or female and then performed the savage time-honoured surgeries.

      The doctors were much more sympathetic to human intersex babies, since humans and Icarians are remarkably similar when fully dressed. They'd therefore permitted Pippa to keep all the bits and pieces she was born with, and she'd kept all of them ever since. Her parents were highly empathetic and tried to explain everything to her in simple terms while she grew up, as a highly studious pupil at Hyde Park Primary.

      Pippa's parents were absolutely thrilled when she passed her eleven plus with flying colours. While this miserable mode of selection invariably sent about eighty percent of the population to the social scrapheap, Pippa got to wear a bright blue uniform and to receive a quality education at Beeslack High.

      By the time she was sixteen, Pippa had been awarded the 'Top of the Form' silver quaiche for four successive years. But then things began to go dreadfully wrong. She'd only just completed her Standard Grade exams (in twelve cutting edge subjects) when her eagle-eyed chemistry mistress took her to task. To cut a long story short, the cruel Apollo Tigress paddled Pippa's legs with an ebony Ouija board for smoking queedy-weed with the other hockey players behind the clubhouse, and moreover seemed to get a kick out of it.

       Pippa promptly went  manic and tried to throttle the skimpy harridan with her very large, bare hands, only to be dragged away in a halter by the Lion Police and confined for observation to the Imperial Icarian Hospital for Brain Manipulation (known affectionately to locals as the Imperial Ick).

      After completing a couple of officially approved, eight-hundred-item questionnaires for the blue, sugary-skinned Trinkon invigilators, Pippa was put further to the question while spread-eagled in her purple and beige petticoat between the pulsating nodes of the Intrubulator. The very next day, she was diagnosed by the leading neuron specialist on Qinsatorix, a cantankerous Apollo Goat, as suffering from ' the Amadeus syndrome.'  In particular, she was thought to be 'on the spectroid', in other words somewhere high on the humanoid scale of intense neuron diversity.

       Whether or not the Amadeus syndrome is a medical disorder with a biological cause is beside the point (though I can definitely certify that it isn't!). Pippa was summarily shorn of her eye-lashes, nose-pegged and ear-pinned, proscribed with hefty, orally-inserted doses of lorazepam, and chained, rubbery-legged and bleary-eyed, to the corners of her, albeit comfortably white-feathered, Procrustes bed.

       After a couple of very anxious weeks, Pippa's parents succeeded in negotiating her release from the Imperial Ick by bribing the neuron specialist with six pentagonal platinum pieces. However, the smelly old goat insisted that Pippa should immediately depart to the Archipelago of the Shiners, and be placed under the guardianship of Lector Alistair McCull, a leading Shiner.

      McCull was an eminent  mind-body therapist who'd studied for his advanced doctorate at the Interstellar University of Hippocrates on the Planet Mehmed the Second, where the entire population had IQs exceeding 192. His own IQ was, according to the time honoured Burt Burke intelligence test, an impressive 222, though he was, at times, as thick as two planks.

[ What IQ tests actually measure is past my compass. Despite their obvious social and ethnic biases, the humanoids have, however, employed them to justify all sorts of skulduggery. They've even used them to validate their ad hoc notions of 'mental deficiency' and 'feeblemindedness', and in their vain attempts to establish the hereditary nature of so-called 'schizophrenia' and a variety of other strangely defined 'mental defects'.]

      'Mind and body have never been separate," Dr. McCull was fond of pontificating. "The Earthling upstart Renatus Descartes who preached otherwise kept his offal in his head and his brains in his feet."

       Where Lector  McCull kept his brains is a matter which I'll keep to myself since I do have some sense of propriety. He was the nit-picking headmaster of  the Alpha-Omega Academy on the Isle of Caleb, and a tough, hard-nosed, golden-skinned cookie if ever there was one. His partner Knuddy, who taught Qinsatoran Classics at the same high school, was a much more compassionate kettle of fish.

     Indeed, Knuddy Skullbanger was an Apollo Fish, and resembled a cross between a very slender Neanderthal and a mackerel. I'll leave you, the reader, to envision exactly what he looked like, since it would be very tedious of me to give a full description at this stage in my story.

     So here was Pippa Pipette, in September 2712 and still sweet sixteen, about to study for her Highers at McCull's much celebrated academy  She slept in  Freya Fettes Hall, an ancient building on the Isle of Caleb with four medieval turrets that overlooked Tawi Sound, on a huge, red, oval communal mattress in the third floor dorm. Her pet otter Scatty slept in the broom cupboard, though she sometimes wondered whether he actually existed.

      Pippa's bedfellows included a dozen or so assorted  Qinsatorans of various genders and ethnicities, and a metallic, six-limbed Psychlops from the Planet Gallium. The Psychlops was regarded as a 'good time Charlie' and the 'life and soul of the party', even though he sometimes went rigid for hours on end because of his unfortunate muscular skeletal difficulties.

      Pippa was kept under constant surveillance by the mean and tricky Trinkon overseers, who were expected to report her every move to Lector Alistair McCull. Any hint of sex or the even the mildest form of hand relief (a politically correct way of describing self-gratification) was strictly prohibited, on pain of a non-stop ten mile run around the lofty, windswept clifftops of the Isle of Caleb, and lentils, cabbage, and cod liver tea for the next seven breakfasts.

      Pippa was fond of day dreaming about memories from her childhood. The pet mice who she took to breed with the big brown mouse which Sven kept next door in the hutch under the crab apple tree; the very first time she kissed Sven and the way he quivered in her sturdy arms; the sherry and trifle parties which her parents threw for all those interminable relatives on Christmas Eve; her very first otter, Rotor, who broke a leg when he was hit by an omnibus and had to be put down, her walks with her granny along the Water of Kleeth, that time her dear mother ran out of milk. Yes, fond memories indeed.

When the Cockatoo Clock struck noon on the second Thursday in September, Dr. Knuddy Skullbanger stopped talking in mid-stanza while reciting the horribly lengthy Odyssey of  Agrevius. Upon completing the line, 'So Sporius to his foul and painful fate did go and all was sickening woe', Knuddy scratched his gills and told the students attending his class to scarper off to lunch.

      Pippa felt very sorry for Sporius, since he was changed, while still a youth, into a woman, very brutally and against his will, solely for the gratification of the beastly Emperor Agrevius the Third. But when Pippa's pet otter leapt into her arms she forgot what she'd been feeling sorry about.

      When her thoughts returned to the reality of the moment, Pippa packed her satchel, took a furtive, but encouraging, glance at her buddies Slim and Dreyfus, and headed for the Rentrosian Dining Hall, long since named after Dame Tarentella Rentrose, the very first headmistress of Alpha-Omega, and a highly eminent humanoid eugenicist, who believed that 'if the physically and mentally defectives go then superior genes will flow'.

       Another of Dame Rentrose's quotes, 'Starve the degenerates and improve the species', was
enormously influential during the liquidation of the highly cultured Snipper Snapper creatures in the Eastern deserts, and long thereafter.

      Pippa was about to sit down, but had second thoughts, put her yellowy-green cheese sandwich into the side pocket of her regulation light blue tunic, and headed for the beach. She was asking the Ferry Lady how much it would cost to take her to the Garden of the Forbidden Apple Tree, when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw her chums Slim and Dreyfus slinking towards her across the pebbles.

      Aren't I the crafty one? enthused Pippa. Or am I psychotic? They seem to have followed me just as I imagined they would.

        'Are you away on  some sort of trip?' inquired Slim with a playful smirk. "Unfortunately we've run out of acid."

       "We're trapped here," complained Pippa. "The Ferry Lady wants to charge me a whole penny. That's so extortionate!".

        "In that case, why don't we hang out under the Beelzebub tree?" suggested Dreyfus, with a flourish of the crooked silver horn which emerged from the roof of his cranium.

         "Good idea," replied Pippa. "We can whisper sweet nothings to each other. Come along, Scatty!"

      "Scatty, who's Scatty?" asked Slim, in surprise, but Pippa's pet otter was nowhere to be seen.

      Slim was a demure, ginger-haired Icarian from Angervast, the largest city on the Inner Moon, while Dreyfus was a handsome, horsey-faced Apollo unicorn from the City of Tyre-on-the-Tiber. Since all three pupils were wearing their regulation light blue tunics and tight, long white hosiery, they looked remarkably similar in build if not in facial appearance,

      Maybe we are three in one in some sort of mystical sense, or possibly even one in three, mused Pippa, as they settled down together in the shrubbery under the weeping willow tree. She thought that the Beelzebub tree's mossy roots were symbolic of something or other, but she couldn't decide what. They were infested with crimson star-shaped insects called festoonettes (which are, in aggregate, more intelligent than any humanoid who has ever existed)

      "And which classes are you attending this afternoon, Miss Pipette?" inquired Slim, slurping his not-so-fizzy soda.

       Pippa grinned one of her more encouraging grins."I'm attending Dr. McCull's two classes on Medical Statistics, Slim. The first is all about subjective probability, and the second is about how to use it, and something silly called Bayes' Theorem, to decide whether the client, or guinea pig or whatever, is off his flaming rocker."

      Slim rubbed his pink, shrimp-like eyebrows, and fluttered his eyelashes. "That's my scene too," he mumbled.

        Dreyfus flexed his muscular biceps and pursed his lips."I'm not attending any classes this afternoon, cos I'm playing rugby in Saint Sebastian's Dell."

        Slim gave Dreyfus a funny look, and chuckled."I don't envy you the icy cold shower afterwards. It'll be enough to freeze your balls off."

         Dreyfus crushed a couple of lively festoonettes with his thumb and turned a deep shade of green. "I don't think I'll enjoy it anyway," he moaned. "The other blokes will probably laugh at my quimmy. It's in such a stupid place. You Icarians are so lucky, Slim. I don't even have an orchadeus. Or even one of those lovely squeegy-squeegies!"

         It takes all sorts, mused Pippa, trying hard not to snigger. But this  only serves to increase the karma between the three of us.

        "I love the way you walk, Dreyfus," she blurted, straight out of her subconscious, "though I don't quite know which way to stalk."

        At that, Dreyfus suddenly sobbed, flexed his tiny fingers, and buried his face in his grubby, hoof-shaped hands.

        "Perchance you'll be husband and wife one day," suggested Slim, with a half-suppressed snigger.

       "I do hope I'm not intruding," squeaked Dr. Knuddy Skullbanger, marching up and taking a snipshot, "but I'm really most impressed.This sounds like a magnificent first rehearsal for a really zany play."

        Pippa felt very confused and brain-fogged by the entire situation. "I hope you'll attend our all-intriguing First Night, since you're, in all probability, in for a big surprise, " she blurted, before wondering whether she'd said something nonsensical.

        Slim looked a bit mesmerised at that. "I love the way the tactless words pour out of your head. Perchance you have ADHD like my three sisters."

        "Stop gas-lighting me!" shrieked Pippa. "You're one big bully,"

        Slim wriggled his nose, and smiled. "But we're family, darling, I'm your big brother and Dreyfus is your little sister,"

        "I have my own family. They're in the City of Lanterns, waiting to visit me,"

        "Hmmmm---I wouldn't bet on that for one moment. I was brought to the Isle of Caleb when I failed the IQ test on my eleven plus, and I haven't been allowed to see my real family since."


         As the thoughts of his family throbbed through his head, Slim felt horses' hooves pounding the inside of his skull, and realised that he was blanking something of note, something immensely traumatic, out of his memory. He therefore struggled for words, before stammering. "M-maybe they're sort of g-grooming us. The Shiners are even w-weirder than those confounded Quakers."

        "Those tossers won't groom me!"retorted Pippa. "Now why don't we kiss and make up?"

        Suddenly and without warning, Slim grimaced like a ghoulish helldinger and flew into a highly neurotic fit. "Mother, Father, Grandmama! Return to me before I impale myself on the Sword of Everlasting Torture of the Mind. Mummy, Daddy, Granny! Don't leave ME to die. But are you still alive, Mother? Mother! Mother! Mother! Where the feck are you, Mother?"

        "And I was beginning to think that you were all much saner than the rest of us," complained Dr. Knuddy Skullbanger, with a frown and a grimace, as he headed for the ferry boat to Eden.

Pippa, feeling upset and confused, retreated in haste to Rentrosian Hall, where many of the residents were enjoying high tea. After bitterly complaining to the Apollo Owl warden about the broken tele-hologram in the lounge, she polished off two cream buns when she thought that nobody was looking. But while she trying hard not to listen to a verbally delinquent Apollo Frog from the Southern Swamps, two Snazi-esque Trinkon overseers strode up and clicked their heels.

       "We're here to take you to the Grigor-Galtius Laboratory, Miss Pipette," announced the squat overseer, with a stiff nod and a stern blink. "So don't even think about giving us any more of your impudent shit!"

       "It's for your first in depth  mind-body examination, you see," added the taller overseer, with a grin. "Lector McCull wishes to delve further into what makes you really tick."

        Slim emerged from behind a marble statue of 'The Death Struggle of Laocoon and his Three Lapdogs'.  "Please be kind to her," he shrieked , as they marched her away.

        "Don't worry about her," replied the squat overseer, with a smirk. "You're next."

         The tall overseer laughed. "And you're in for a surprisingly surprising surprise, my dearest darling."

          "Surprise, surprise!" gurgled the squat imbecile, with a leer. "It will surprise the enzymes that lurch within him."

After a gruelling couple of hours of preliminary tests in a cavern deep inside Kalton Hill,  Pippa was marched down an ornate staircase and into the much-celebrated Grigor-Galtius Lab, wearing only a spotlessly white towel wrapped tightly around her muscular waist. She and her two overseers were met by the Head Yin, a Trinkon who stood fully a foot taller than the rest.

         "This is Miss Pippa Pipette, Sire," announced the squat overseer, handing the Head Yin a thick file. "She's transgender, from third gender to female that is, and of British ethnic stock."

          The Head Yin gave Pippa, a curious stare.

          "How appropriate," he said, with a chuckle. "Lector McCull genuinely thinks that he's of Scottish descent, though he isn't, in reality, human at all. He likes to identify with the British psych morons of bygone eras, and he simply worships the psych-eugenicists Ewen Cameron and Alfred Tredgold, not to forget Lionel Penrose and all his crap about biological defect. McCull's got them on the brain! Thank goodness that we've moved way beyond all that barbaric black magic. The psych morons used to slowly poison their very own patients to malignant deaths, would you believe? And those who objected really got it in the neck."

        The taller overseer grinned, a touch inanely. "We haven't detected an iota of what that Penrose jerk called schizophrenia in this one, Sire. Yet."

       "In particular, her Penrose-Burt Schizo-IQ tests have never even suggested a glimmer of mental deficiency or feeble mindedness,"added the squat one.

      "Good! Nothing hereditary then?"


       "Excellent! But we should check for calcification of her pineal gland,.just to make sure she isn't a closet schizo. I'll ask one of the nurses to fetch an extra-thin Jay-spot trepanner from Equipment and Supplies. It'll be perfectly painless."

      "But I can see through my Third Eye," blurted Pippa. "It reveals the Ultimate Truth to me. We are all made of completely random electrons!"

      The Head Yin narrowed his gaze. "We can only thank Jahweh and the Prophet Isa that we got you here in the nick of time then, darling. There's hope for you yet."

       Pippa suddenly went a bit manic, and had to be frog-marched along the entire length of the Grigor-Galtius Lab. On either side of the central corridor, teams of Trinkette nurses were busily testing and treating their patients, many of whom were strapped to some very strange-looking pieces of neuro-scientific equipment. Some of the patients were Alpha-Omega pupils, while others had been brought over in tightly-fitting manacles from the enormous Carperberry Asylum on the Isle of Flute.

      A pansexual pelimode from Southern Artica with borderline personality disorder had been injected with a purple dye, and her head and beak inserted into an electron scanner,  Her entire blood system was displayed in a three-dimensional hologram, and her neuron map on a holo-neurosynthesiser. Whenever she was asked a question, the hologram winced and her neurons went haywire.

        An utterly crazy Apollo horse from Zamara was being subjected to a none-too-well-received frigmoidoscopy while being made to dance in ever increasing circles, thus causing much merriment and laughter among the Trinkette nurses in attendance.

       When Pippa saw a paranoid schizophrenic sex criminal from Greganta getting his comeuppance on a transfigurating globuliser, she felt physically sick. I hope they don't treat me like a criminal, she agonised.

       As the huge portrait of Hippocrates at the far end of the laboratory came into sight, Pippa was aghast to see a hospital trolley rushing towards them. As it whooshed by to her left, Pippa thought she saw a fleeting picture of a metallic Psychlops lying on top, with a long silver sword resembling the mighty Excalibur stuck vertically into his bulbous single eye. I must be borderline neurotic psychotic! she agonised.

        When another trolley rushed by to Pippa's right, she thought she caught a fleeting image of a pink baby elephantus with a steel invictulator protuding from its chest. Pippa almost went into meltdown.

       When the Head Yin cuffed Pippa to the piano-shaped mahogany desk at the end of the lab, Dr. Alistair McCull seemed to be in a deep trance. And when Pippa saw his fixated eyes staring into space, she wondered whether he was a caring Icarian, or a wicked demon from the fiery depths.

      The Head Yin coughed politely, and McCull stirred himself, only to look as confused as a demented Apollo orang-utan on heat.

       "Why it's my darling Achilles!" blurted McCull, as he came to his senses. "You seemed a bit depressed when I last saw you. Did the completely voluntary Pruskian chastisement therapy do the trick?"

       "What an easy mistake to make, Herr Lector!" responded the Head Yin, handing McCull a thick folder. "Achilles and Pippa are virtual look-alikes, though their complexions are a bit different. This is Miss Pippa Pipette and she's suffering from Post-Traumatic and Highly Compulsive Manic Infusion, but that's only according to our preliminary diagnosis."

       "But what happened to my dear Achilles?" moaned McCull, looking irritated.

       "He's much less depressed following his outstanding treatment, Herr Lector, though he's still recovering from the neatly splintered bone in his ankle. He really is a very plucky ducky! We didn't even have to put him through our vertebrae adjustment routine, and his dark green skin is returning to its natural colour already."

       McCull immediately acquired a fresh aura. He looked God-like. "Excellent! I'm so happy for him."

       McCull quickly went as silent a stealth owl, and flipped through several pages of Pippa's folder blinking furiously. When he reached page 7,  he peered at Pippa as if through a dope-ridden haze, looked ever more befuddled, and said, "So young fella. How does it feel to be manically infused?"

       "I'm a girl!" protested Pippa, "and I'm NOT manically infused. I simply get a bit hysterical at times, as girls do."

       "Really Pippykins! It's our job to determine the diagnoses, and what you think has absolutely nothing to do with it. According to your records, your Trinkon overseers have observed you looking a teeny bit tense during your conversations. One of them noticed you tangentialising onto a ridiculously extraneous topic, and you were heard blurting nonsense on at least three separate occasions."

       "So what? I'm simply a bit of an extrovert, and I come up with all sorts of interesting ideas and try to share them."

        "A feeble excuse!  It's very clear to me that you're suffering from hyperkinetic brain damage, and another symptom of that is Tredgold manic infusion. So that's my diagnosis, and you're stuck with it for the foreseeable future, and for ever and anon."

     "I want a second opinion! I'm not brain damaged."

     "Sheer impudence! How dare you contradict your superiors!"


      "Shut the feck up, you daft wee lass! Now hyperkinetic brain damage is, in my esteemed opinion, caused by dysfunctionality of the organs. So we'll perform multiple key hole surgeries to see if you need any transplants."

       "No!!!! My organs have absolutely nothing to do with my grey matter."

      "Your entire body is part and parcel of your damaged brain, you silly fool. Don't worry. It won't hurt! We'll coat your tender skin with freezing Sting Sting lotion while we're getting ready to roll."

        "No!!!! Not that!"

       "Stretch her limbs out on  the spherical rotating frame, Trinks!  Torsion level 10, at sixty degrees to the horizontal, and with her ears clipped to the triangulator. And please remember to observe and record  her neuropsychological reactions when I insert the Vlad incisors into her not-so-delicate anatomy."

       The Head Yin looked fit to grovel. "No problem at all, Herr Doctor. And you'll be glad to hear that ten new human kidneys have arrived from the convict colony in the Southern Swamps. I'll take one out of the freezer just in case we need it, and a second for good measure."

       "Good idea! If we don't need the second one, we'll fry it for the lab monkeys for breakfast."

       At that very moment, Pippa's ginger-haired, golden-skinned Icarian classmate Slim appeared out of the blue, in all his inviting glory. He was cuffed to two growling Apollo Lion orderlies, and looked as  traumatized and confused as a koala escaping from a blazing forest of fire. Nevertheless, one of the Trinkette nurses went into a tizz at the sight of his exotically beautiful orchadeus, and the others simply gawped.

       "Not that rascal Slim Quick again!" complained Dr. Alistair McCull. "Just look at him flaunting himself to all and sundry! I think that he's a narcissistic psychopath."

       "The red hot recodifier maybe, Herr Doctor?" suggested the Head Yin. "It would sort out his blatant deviosity, and we could put him into an induced coma afterwards.".

       "No chance! It's the crystal glass electron-deconfabulating capsule for him. Please remember to  shave off his God-dammed hair before you close the lid, Trinkettes. I'll be over in a while to flick the switches."

         "No!!!! Not my lovely hair!" wailed Slim, as they dragged him towards the Jadrok Collider,

        "How utterly ingenious, Herr Lector," exclaimed the Head Yin, amidst generous applause. "You make me proud to think that I, too, am a Qinsatoran."

        ' It's all part of my Grand Scheme," purred McCull. "We'll take the puppy dogs with us to the Lismore Retreat."

                 Please click here for

                              CHAPTER 2: THE LISMORE RETREAT