'Tendrils, you say?' said Sergeant Sturgeon.
Tendrils, I say,' said Sylvester Rambling.
'Could you describe the nature of these tendrils,
could. But I should warn you, the portrayal may alarm
those of a nervous disposition. I trust you have a
strong constitution, officer?'
an ox,' affirmed the sarge. He envisioned the noble
beast ambling nonchalantly through a crowd of bemused
humans, tossing them carelessly aside in its wake.
the crowd's attention wavered between the sergeant's
desk of dreams and Sylvester and Seraphema. Ryan,
still unable to utter a syllable, stood open-mouthed,
a string of spittle slowly forming icicle-like on
his bottom lip. He raised his arm, as if to say something.
It flopped down again as his eyes glazed over.
Sturgeon noticed the gesture. 'Have you remembered
your point yet, sir?' he asked.
reply. The elastic icicle continued to elongate.
Sturgeon turned again to Sylvester. 'Can I have your
name, please sir?'
faltered. He had geared himself up for a gloriously
gory exposition. 'My name? Is that important? I was
about to detail the tendrils.'
merely procedure, sir. We shall come to the tendrils
in question in due course.'
shoulders and voice dropped. 'Very well. The name's
Rambling. Sylvester Rambling. And this,' he said with
a flourish of his right arm, as if introducing her
to the stage alongside himself as a magician, 'is
my assistant, Seraphema Fox-Mangler.'
sorry. Did I say assistant? I meant accomplice, er,
no, er, neighbour.' Sylvester hurriedly composed himself.
'It's these surroundings you know. I've come over
all policespeak if you will.'
sure I don't know what you mean,' sighed the sarge.
'May I offer you this semtex tablet to chew on?' The
sergeant, whose powers of composure didn't quite match
those of the legendary bard before him, realised that
he'd actually said these words out loud. Luckily,
the pronouncement went largely unheard, and his embarrassment
assuaged, by Ryan whirring into life.
have vital evidence concerning the black hole information
paradox,' he said.
was more aghast than Whitney who eyed her man with
a mixture of confusion, apprehension and a bit more
confusion. Even Shadney ceased sniveling.
ye on aboot, Ryan? Get stuck intae them,' pleaded
standing rigid, eyes fixed dead ahead, continued mantra-like:
'I have vital evidence concerning the black hole information
'What is this shite? What's going on?' Whitney was
beginning to feel disorientated.
rest of the assembled onlookers seemed similarly perplexed.
A murmur grew, as sundry speculations and theories
quickly circulated, most to the effect that this was
some kind of publicity stunt or robotic street theatre.
The scene resembled that of those half indifferent,
half excitable mobs who gather to ogle the wacky escapologists
and jugglers on the Mound come festival time in Edinburgh.
But without the flaming torches or unicycles.
a voice piped up from within the swarm of sightseers:
'Let me through. I'm a scientist.'