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Thursday, 2 January 2020

BRAIN GAMES ON QINSATORIX by Tom Leonard, First 6 chapters






                                                                           

                                                             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 slightly 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 largely 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 been fodder for various writing groups in Edinburgh, which have often 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 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



                                                                   

                                                                       

                                                         
                                          
                                               

                                            CHAPTER 1: LIFE AT ALPHA-OMEGA


                                                                                    




Eugenics is a much criticised set of beliefs or practices that aims to selectively improve a population by excluding, marginalising, killing or controlling individuals judged to be inferior, and promoting individuals  judged to be superior. The term 'eugenics' derives from the Greek 'eugene' meaning 'well-born'. It was coined by the highly political English polymath Sir Francis Galton in 1883, and has been used to justify 'scientific racism' ,the brutal treatment of the 'mental defective', and many millions of forced sterilizations ever since.


In September 2712, Pippa Pipette, while still sweet sixteen, was getting ready to study for her Highers at the much celebrated Alpha-Omega 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, but she sometimes wondered whether he actually existed.
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      Pippa was born in a heat-strengthened, glass test-tube, though without a platinum 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. According to her in vitro genetic records, she was of a species 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. She did not however know that many other humans. Indeed, the identity of her real parents had been kept totally secret from her.

      Pippa could only imagine what existing on 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 much prophesied Apocalypse. Consequently, the Icarian culture on Qinsatorix has been influenced throughout history by the various rich cultures on Planet Earth, to the point where even the place names and common language usage would be somewhat familiar to any (albeit very rare) European time traveller from centuries before.

      It was indeed 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 sent 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 important contributions throughout the Roman Empire; for example a couple of their chemical engineers  invented a new plumbing system for latrines and bath houses. The humans rapidly caught on and their chemical engineers soon developed their time-honoured expertise for unblocking clogged up loos.  And the Icarians have been decorating their buildings with white paint ever since.

      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 Elements. The records of this knowledge were stored in a secret library in a temple in Marrakesh, where they remained undiscovered by the Christians until the late nineteenth century. The human geneticists on Planet Earth were thereby able to expand the frontiers of their paltry discipline far beyond anything that could have possibly been envisioned by the 'small fry' Austrian friar Gregor Mendel, and the evil eugenicists jumped onto the bandwagon.

     Such were the cultural exchanges which persisted between the sister planets throughout the ages. During their visits to Planet Earth, the golden-skinned, highly technological Icarians passed themselves off as humans from places like Kazakruritan and Hittite City. Nobody, apart from the ladies of leisure, could spot the difference.
 
      Since she was dark-haired and freckle-less, Pippa regarded herself as of ancient Celtic stock, and she could trace her genetic ancestry all the way back to the twenty-first 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 Apollo Wolf adoptive 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 slightly 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 adoptive parents were compulsively super-sympha-empathetic and they 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. This miserable mode of selection (which was invented by the animal eugenicist and fish breeder Sir Godfrey Moray-Burke and his scatter-brained nephew Cyril in AD 2562) invariably sent about eighty percent of the population to the social scrapheap. However, 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' prize for four successive years. But things soon 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 caused by some sort of ridiculously undetectable biochemical imbalance is beside the point. 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 dutiful Apollo Wolf 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'.

       (The Shiners cult was a bit similar to the Quakers, but much more influential because of the greater complexity of their political 'structures'.  Quaker structures had been badly affected by the their steep decline in membership on several planets in the Aton Sunstar system, when many Quakers were poisoned at the whim of the harsh regimes of the twenty-third century. In contrast, the Shiners had always been reasonably well treated  by the twelve, stuck up 'Divine Plutarchs'.)

      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 curiously calculated IQs exceeding 192. His own IQ was, according to the time honoured Burt-Burke white-collar intelligence test, an impressive 222, though he was, at times, as thick as two planks.

      '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 own brains is another matter! He was the long-time headmaster of  the Alpha-Omega Academy on the Isle of Caleb, and a tough, hard-nosed, persnickety 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, while Knuddy Skullbanger wasn't an actual fish, he was an Apollo Fish, and resembled a cross between a very slender Neanderthal and a mackerel. His fish-like mouth, gills for breasts, and dorsal, pectoral, and tail fins contrasted with his deep brown eyes, muscular limbs, and large, floppy feet..


When Pippa woke up on the second Thursday of  September 2712, her pet otter Scatty was sitting on her chest and her dozen or so assorted bedfellows were still in their ankle-length night shirts. They included eleven assorted Qinsatorans of various genders and ethnicities, and a metallic, six-limbed Psychlops from the Planet Gallium. The Psychlops sometimes went rigid for hours on end because of his unfortunate muscular skeletal difficulties. When he began to stir, Pippa bounced off the communal mattress, and rushed to the loo.

       A blue, sugary skinned Trinkon in the Control Room was closely observing Pippa's every move on the Micro-Macro Screen. He recorded an S for Satisfactory by her name in the log.

      All of the students at Alpha-Omega were kept under constant surveillance by the mean and tricky Trinkon overseers, who were expected to report any hint of a misdemeanour 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. And any impudence to a teacher or official 'minder' meant a psychologically challenging trip to the Corrections and Rehabilitation Unit, where the talking tigers were none too fussy about keeping to the protocols. Numerous disturbing stories abounded.


      While she was sitting on the austere, off-white lavatory bowl, Pippa began to day-dream about memories from her childhood, and numerous pictorial images began to flash in front of her.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 strolls with her granny along the Water of Kleeth, that time her dear mother ran out of milk ----Yes, fond memories indeed.

      While Pippa's mother was running screaming down the street, the gong chimed three times for breakfast in the Chevenix-Trench Room. Not Quaker Oats again! After polishing off her meagre bowlful, Pippa hurried across the quadrangle for an hour of Celestial Mathematics and two very boring hours of Qinsatoran Classics in Patrocles Hall. Pippa felt really pissed off, and wished that she'd hidden on her favourite top floor futon for a snooze-in.

      When the Cockatoo Clock struck noon, 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 Classics 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 Fourth. 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 chums Slim and Dreyfus, and headed for the Cymbeline Grotto Dining Hall, long since named after Dame Cymbeline Grotto, 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'.  With this mentality in mind, Dame Grotto founded the Eugenics Society of Qinsatorix in AD 2472, and served as its president for the following four years while working in the Humanoid Genetics and Anthropology Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbour.

      Another of Dame Grotto'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.


Pippa was asking the Ferry Lady how much it would cost to take her to the Garden of the Forbidden Apples, when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw her buddies Slim and Dreyfus slinking towards her across the pebbles.

      Aren't I the crafty one? enthused Pippa. Or am I acting up 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 wobbly silver horn which emerged from the roof of his perfectly symmetric skull.

      "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 an occasionally demure, ginger-haired Icarian from Angervast, the largest city on the Inner Moon, who'd studied on the Isle of Caleb ever since he was sent, in arm and leg constraints, to Alpha Prep at the tender age of eleven. In contrast Dreyfus was a handsome, horsey-faced Apollo unicorn from the City of Tyre-on-the-Tiber, whose upper middle class  parents were funding his sixth form studies at Alpha-Omega following his brilliant straight A's in fourteen subjects at standard grade.

.     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, while they were settling 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 cl-classes are you planning to attend this afternoon, Miss P-Pipette?" stammered 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 even sillier called Bayes' Theorem, to decide whether the client, or guinea pig or whatever, is off his flaming rocker."

      Slim rubbed his prawn-like eyebrows, and fluttered his ginger eyelashes. "That'll be 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 at Saint Sebastian's."

      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 knackers 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. A trans Apollo Unicorn in our midst, indeed!

      "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," squawked Dr. Knuddy Skullbanger, marching up and taking a snipshot, "but I'm really most impressed.This sounds like a magnificent first rehearsal for a ridiculously 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 felt a bit mesmerised at that. "I love the way the tactless words pour out of your feckin head, Pippa darling. 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."

     "No!!!!!! I'm sure I'll see my Mummy and big bad Daddy, and all my Apollo Wolf brothers and sisters again soon. Yes, I'm sure I will!"

      While his thoughts of his own family were throbbing through his head, Slim felt horses' hooves pounding around 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 McCull and his cronies are 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 each other and calm down? Kissing usually does the trick."

       Suddenly and without warning, Slim grimaced like a ghoulish helldinger and flew into a borderline neurotic-psychotic 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?"

      That put Pippa on edge. Wow! He must be the victim of some sort of childhood trauma, she thought. I do hope it isn't inter-generational.

       "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarg!" wailed Dreyfus.

       "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 confused and upset, retreated in haste to Grotto Hall, where several 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 fake 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, out of the blue, and clicked their metallic 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 like a troll stalker from behind a marble statue of 'The Death Struggle of Laocoon and his three Trojan daughters ', looking agitated and concerned,

       "Please be kind to her," he shrieked , as they marched her away.

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

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

       "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!"

      The taller overseer grinned. "He talks about Sir Francis bloody Galton in his sleep, Sire."

      "Thank goodness that we've moved way beyond all of that barbaric black magic, Slutch. 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."

      "In the butt, as I remember," retorted Pippa, a touch insolently.

      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?"

      "Derrr---nope."

      "Excellent! But we should check for calcification of her pineal gland, just to make sure the wench 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 Yahweh and the Prophet Isa that we got you here in the nick of time then, darling. There's hope for you yet."

       Pippa immediately went a bit manic, and had to be frog-marched along the entire length of the Grigor-Galtius Lab, much to the consternation of the beetles and roaches who fled in dismay

      .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 postprandial 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 in leg irons 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. When 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 stuck vertically into his bulbous single eye. I must be borderline psychotic spasmodic! 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 orang-utan on heat.

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

       "What an easy peasy 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 beastly vertebrae adjustment routine, and his dark green skin is returning to its natural colour already."

       McCull promptly 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 weeny bit tense during your conversations. One of them even noticed you tangentialising onto a ridiculously extraneous topic, something to do with Christopher Robin as I remember, and you were heard blurting nonsense on at least three separate occasions. You sounded like the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he's trying to balance his Budget."

      "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 indeed for ever and anon."

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

     "Sheer impudence! How dare you contradict your superiors! I learnt my stuff from Professor
Harry McLaughlin, the eight-hundred-year-old  time-stretcher at the Heidelberg Institute of Technology, and I'm sure that he would concur with all of my modes of diagnosis and treatment, every single God-dammed one of them."

     "But---."

     "Shut the feck up, you daft wee lass! Now hyperkinetic brain damage is, in my, and Harry's, 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 Putin 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."

       "Don't give it to the monkeys!" shrieked Pippa, "My otter Scatty could do with a new kidney."

      (Uninformed readers should try to appreciate that while the treatments meted out to Pippa and then Slim might seem extremely and unnecessarily harsh, similarly barbaric enforced treatments had been imposed on mental health patients on Qinsatorix, and in the Milky Way Universe, for over six centuries, all too often while the patients were hanging upside down in the buff.)

       At that very moment, Pippa's ginger-haired, golden-skinned Icarian classmate Slim appeared out of the blue, in all his extremely inviting glory. He was cuffed to two growling Apollo Lion orderlies, and looked as traumatized and confused as a koala bear 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 can smell the testosterone from here. 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."

        "I'm not going into any fucking coma for you ponces!" howled Slim.

        McCull narrowed his eyes. "There's no chance of that, Mr. Quick. It's the electron-deconfabulating capsule for you. Please remember to  shave off his God-dammed hair before you close the lid, Trinkettes. We wouldn't want to hurt the fleas. 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

                              CHAPTER 3: THE HOTEL DE WASH

                               CHAPTER 4: THE SHINERS REACH A CONSENSUS

                               CHAPTER 5: JOURNEY TO THE APE SWAN'S NEST

                               CHAPTER 6: INTRIGUE ON LAKE SPECTRUM

                               CHAPTER 7: THE THREE WISE MEN VISIT CALEB

       

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