Pancakes and Hitchhikers

The Writers' Block #52: Theme - Fan Fiction

On hearing the request to make a cup of tea, his eyes, although unable to actually roll, did light up ever so slightly, thereby not hiding their disdain. He sighed. ‘When you say “Put the kettle on”, I am assuming that you will not be requiring the ironic wordplay response “I will, if you think it’ll suit me”. Hmm.’

He sighed again, turned and left the room, hissing and grinding as his motors motioned him away. He mumbled as he left, making Arthur look up from his book.

‘What’s wrong with Marvin?’

Ford choked on his Multi-Dimensional All-Flavoured Pringles and just about managed, ‘Is that a rhetorical question?’, before needing a hefty thwack between the shoulder blades to free up his airways. He wheezed, ‘You won’t have time to drink your tea, anyway. We’ll be too busy making these….’, before wafting a virtual magazine in Arthur’s face, making Arthur lean back just to get the print of the article into focus. ‘What? Pancakes? You want to make pancakes?’

‘You’ve heard of them?’

‘Ford. I’m from Earth. Of course I’ve heard of them. We invented them… what’s so funny?’

Ford waited for the burning sensation to diminish a little as he swallowed another Pringle and wiped his eyes from the intense culinary experience. ‘No you didn’t! Typical Earthling. No - it’s a universal recipe, you fool! Every civilisation on every planet invents pancakes at some point in its history. - I’ll show you!’

He ferreted around in his pockets and tutted, then coughed, stood up and looked beneath the settee cushions, coughing again - sending a few tiny Pringle crumbs free from his bleeding mouth. He frowned and was finally struck by an idea and he bounded over to his little shoulder bag like a newborn gazelle would bound towards the hidden lion in the long grass. From inside his bag, he produced the all-too familiar Hitchhiker’s Guide. Proudly waving it in Arthur’s direction, he placed it down on the table and walked back to the settee, throwing himself down with such force that Pringles scattered in all equal and opposite Newtonian directions.

‘It’s had an upgrade..’ he grinned, then cleared his throat. ‘Hey Guide!’ The Guide lit up with some pleasing colours. ‘Tell me the history of pancakes,’ he said. There was a pause and the pleasing colours turned off, which had no effect on Ford’s fixed grin of optimism. ‘Hey Guide!’ he called. More pleasing colours. ‘Tell me the history of pancakes!’

The pleasing colours diminished, so he jumped across to the Guide and shouted at it, only inches from the screen. ‘HEY GUIDE!!!! TELL ME THE HISTORY OF PANCAKES!!!’

The screen lit up with mournful colours and a friendly voice said, ‘Not quite understanding you… Did you ask for the weather forecast?’

Ford growled.

‘Why don’t you type it in on the search page?’ asked Arthur.

‘That’s not the point,’ Ford said, giving the Guide a hard stare. ‘It’s an upgrade. A simple App. It makes things simpler. That’s why it’s called The Simple App.’

Whirring and tutting announced the return of Marvin, holding a tray with a full tea service on it. ‘Your dehydrated leaves are now hydrating with hot water. Plus there is the white liquid produced from the mammary glands of mammals on the side - just as you inconceivably prefer.’

‘Thankyou,’ said Arthur.

Marvin turned his attention to Ford - currently jumping up and down while shaking the Guide with a surprising amount of vigour, obviously trying to attract its attention by simultaneously shouting obscenities at it and suggesting what the App’s designers could do with their 12G upgrade.

Marvin returned his gaze to Arthur. ‘Would it be a ridiculously futile ending to this sad existence of mine if I enquired what he assumes the benefit of a Guide up a programmer’s anus will achieve?’

Arthur watched Ford a moment - the swearing, the dribbling, the bleeding gums - and, after sipping the almost thirst-quenching drink, said ‘Yes.’ Then he frowned, unsure whether he had actually answered Marvin’s question. ‘He wants to make pancakes, apparently.’

Marvin sighed. ‘Typical. I’ve only just managed to clean the haggis from the ceiling. I’ll check we’ve got enough eggs…’ and with that he trundled back to the virtual kitchen inside the little black box that, on this day of all days, contained all the eggs in the universe.


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