Write Like... Douglas Adams

The Apple Pi Meson and the Custard of Misfortune

Janet McMillan was in sitting at a table by the window in a small pub called The Cricketers, minding her own business, shortly after seven on a rather damp Tuesday evening.  She had just finished her dinner and was looking forward to her pudding, when she was interrupted by an inconspicuous looking man of average height with unremarkable brown hair and a blue towel slung across his shoulder.

‘Excuse me’, said the stranger, ‘do you mind if I sit here? It’s just that this is the only seat with a good view of the sky, and I need to keep an eye out, I’ve lost something you see.’

‘You have lost something... and this something that you have lost is in the sky?’ replied Janet incredulously.

‘Well I suppose you could say that, depending of course on how you define ‘lost’, ‘sky’ and ‘something’’, answered the stranger, extending his hand with a friendly grin ‘but never mind about that, let me introduce myself, the name’s Nissan Micra, perhaps I can get you a drink?’

Janet was wondering whether she had ended up talking to the offspring of Japanese car aficionados or merely a complete crackpot, when she was interrupted by a commotion at the bar. The pub television had gone blank, something that was causing a lot of upset and anger amongst the patrons of the pub, which is strange because it wasn’t really the television’s fault.  There was a lone message on the black screen, sturdy white letters stating: ‘We apologise for the inconvenience’. For some unknown reason Nissan Micra found this terribly amusing.

Janet had decided that she was in fact talking to a complete crackpot, although he seemed to be mostly harmless and the company was not wholly undesired, when her pudding arrived. As the apple pie and custard was set down before her, Nissan Micra grimaced and shook his head with a look of disgust. ‘You wouldn’t last a second in the outer quadrants of Ursa Minor you know. Of course you aren’t being intentionally offensive, but you should know that what you are doing is in terribly bad taste’.

Janet peered down at her pudding. ‘I think it tastes rather nice actually.’

Nissan tutted, ‘Don’t tell me you have never heard of the Apple Pi Meson and the Custard of Misfortune?’

Janet, who was beginning to feel slightly uneasy about the whole situation, said that she had never heard any scientist mention anything even remotely along those lines.

‘Well your scientists wouldn’t mention anything would they? They would also say that there were only six types of quark and that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, which just goes to show how much they know!

You see, this pudding of yours, by some bizarrely improbable coincidence, bears not only the same name but also an uncanny physical resemblance to the most deadly weapon in the known (and unknown) universe. The Apple Pi Meson has wiped out thousands of planets and several races. The mention of the name alone strikes fear into the souls of billions of intergalactic beings. Take for example the Loquacions of Epsilon-12, an unusual race in that they reached a high degree of technological advancement despite having failed to evolve language of any kind, communicating only through differing types of awkward silence: in the same way that your Earth Eskimos have thousands of words for snow, so these sophisticated creatures could convey literally billions of meanings from just staring at one another at varying degrees of awkwardness. Well, they were totally wiped out! Gone! Extinct!’

Janet’s brain was feeling like it needed to have a bit of a sit down and a nice cup of tea.

‘Even more of a coincidence is the custard of misfortune, which isn’t actually misfortunate at all, unless you happen to be a carbon based life form, in which case it is terribly misfortunate and generally not something that most creatures like to discuss in polite conversation.

 This custard, when combined with precisely forty two Apple Pi Mesons, will instantaneously split you into the billions of quarks that constitute your being and immediately reinstate you as the most improbable thing you could think of, for example a sperm whale or a bowl of petunias, an effect which is considered dreadfully inconvenient at the best of times, I’m sure you’ll agree’ said Nissan Micra.

‘And what about the mice?' he added, 'surely you have watched a mouse’s reaction to a bowl of custard? No? You humans are so unobservant.’

‘Oh’ replied Janet, trying to sound as observant as she possibly could, while simultaneously deciding that she needed a strong drink. She spooned her custard and thought that perhaps she really wasn’t in the mood for it after all.

After a moment, she queried ‘Well, couldn’t you use this custard for something good... like reinstating nuclear waste into floral curtains, or a corrupt government into a packet of jelly-babies?’

‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ replied Nissan Micra. ‘It is a mistake to think that you can resolve any major problems with just custard.’

The End

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