Sid and Arthur appeared on the re-routing pads again, but this time with a prisoner. A goblin named Malcolm.
“You never explained to me why you are called Malcolm,” Said Arthur, “That is an unusual name for a goblin; it is usually something like Umpkin or Blogger?”
“It’s cause me dad was called Malcolm, I’m really Malcolm the XIV.”
“I get confused when we use Roman numerals, I thought 14 was XIIII?” said Sid.
“Not really Sid,” droned Arthur in his superior than everyone else tone, “it was a king who wanted to make it easier to read clocks who put IIII instead of IV.”
“Blobbin’ royalty,” moaned Sid, “always affecting us commoners!”
“I ‘ave a similar problem with the Dark Lord, ‘es always telling us to pack up our troubles in our old kit bag and smile,”
“Sounds like he is an aficionado of the real Earth’s First World War,” noted Arthur.
“Eh?” ehd Malcolm.
“That’s why I hate goblins,” said Sid, “let’s kill him now!”
“Nooooooooooo, please mister dwarf, I have a wife and 6 sprogs to look after, and a large extended family”
“You should have thought of that before you started trying to cause time paradoxes to kill us,” replied the dwarf.
“Look, calm down Sid, try to control your dwarvish craving for revenge and goblin blood lust.”
“Aww,” groaned Sid, “you always want to stop my fun!”
“We cannot kill him anyway it might cause a time paradox.”
“Yeah, we don’t want to cause a time paradox, do we?” grinned Malcolm in a smarmy way at Sid.
Sid gritted his teeth and started to go really red in the face. Arthur grabbed him, “I am ordering you to calm down, go for a walk in the indoor garden, think about nice things, control your breathing. Count to X.”
Sid looked at Arthur then turned and walked towards the indoor garden, “Flippin’ goblins I hate them!” he stomped.
“And stop stomping,” warned Arthur.
Sid walked around the garden a few times and started to think of nice things but then he fell right into an open manhole. “Ooch, me poore back, who was the fool who left a manhole open?” As his eyes adjusted to the dark he saw a small figure cowering in the access tunnel. “Hello. Who do we have here? I didn’t think there were any people who inhabited the Time Backwater?”
The figure continued to cower. Sid went over to him, “Come on little chap, don’t be afraid. What’s your name?”
“Splob,” said the small figure in a high voice.
“Are you a gnome?” enquired Sid.
“No reason, some of my best neighbours are gnomes. They own the silver mine next to mine. What are you doing here?”
“I’m hiding from the re-transfer droids.”
“Why are you hiding from them?”
“In case they re-transfer me. I’ve heard it’s a nasty business.”
“How long have you been in the Time Backwater?”
“Give or take a day, 300 years.”
“You’re nearly as old as me, that means. Did you come from the fantasy dimension?”
“Yes, it was after the third goblin war.”
“My dad died in those, that’s one of the reasons I hate goblins.”
“Well that’s as maybe. I was brought here by a dodgy Interdimensional Police Person. He broke the electronic binding holding me and my wife, when he popped out we were left here.”
“Dodgy eh. We have a friend in the Interdimensional Police Force, I’m sure he would like to know who the dodgy geezer is if he is still alive. It depends if he came from your future to arrest you or from your present.”
“My present is now.”
“No, I meant your present then, not now.”
“That doesn’t make sense?”
“Yes it does, well it does if you travel as much in time and different dimensions as we have had to. Do you want to go back to your time? We could help you.”
Splob thought for a moment, “No thanks I have a wife and gnomelings, and grand gnomelings, and great grand gnomelings and great…”
“Ok, I get the idea, you have been a very busy little gnome. Well, with all those gnomes in the place how come we haven’t seen one before?”
“We keep to ourselves, and if we are caught by the re-transfer droids they try to re-transfer us. The thing is though that if they catch any of my descendants they get re-transferred back here again. This is where they were born. My wife and I are the only ones who would get sent back, that’s why I have to use the tunnels to scout for food.”
“Where do you all live, haven’t you got a gnome to go to?”
“Pun on the word gnome and home.”
“Have you been listening to David Bowie?”
“How do you know about him?”
“The piped music in the pneuma lifts, they have a selection of 20th and 21st century earth music.”
“It must be because so many time travelling destinations are going to big events in those centuries. Any way I’d better get back to Arthur and our prisoner.”
“Yes, a goblin named Malcolm Xcetera or something like that.”
“Ooh nasty, I hate goblins.”
“Just like me, are we related do you think?”
“Maybe in the mists of time, I think I have a dwarven ancestor somewhere, that’s why I’m so tall.”
“Well if you need any help or anything special from one of the dimensions let me know and I’ll bring it with me next time.”
“A wind up toothbrush?”
“Why one of those?”
“It is difficult to get batteries round here so a wind up one would be great.”
“Ok, I’ll see what I can do.” Sid climbed out of the access tunnel staring into the face of Arthur who was dragging Malcolm with him.
“Where have you been?” asked Arthur, “I said calm down not fall down.”
“I have met a gnome called Splob in the access…” Just then the three of them popped out of the Time backwater.
Splob pulled the manhole cover across, picked his sack of baked bean tins up and made his way down the access tunnel.
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