"In nuclear war, All men are cremated equal."
Tim Radford, The Guardian
THE FAIRY FELLOWS MASTER STROKE
PART ONE - THE FAIRY FELLOW
by Bryan H. Joyce
A Tale From The Tavern At The Edge Of Nowhere
This story was previously published in "STUNN" and appears here
by permission of its author, our good friend Bryan "James" Joyce.
It was cut in two so as to enable owners of mere half meg ST
systems to read it too.
Hi! I'm Tony Wheelbough. At the moment, I'm a barman at a very
unusual bar called the Tavern. It is part of a complex known as
The Edge Of Nowhere. This name is misleading. It's actually
situated on a planet near the core of the galaxy we Earthlings
call the Milky way. The planet doesn't have an official name, but
most visitors call it the Edge. This is probably because of the
hundred foot high hologram of a flashing neon sign saying "The
Edge Of Nowhere" that is usually the second thing that the
startled traveller sees. What's the first thing? I'll tell you
later. The Earth time, at the moment, is about 1955. Due to the
turbulence in the space/time continuum created by the core stars,
space/time travellers are washed up here all the time. I've heard
that there is a similar effect at the centre of most galaxies.
The Milky Way is the only known place where this effect disgorges
the flotsam and jetsam onto a specific place on the surface of a
planet. It seemed a worthwhile place to build a hotel and leisure
complex. I had nothing to do with the construction; I just work
Sounds all very interesting doesn't it? Bet I know what your
thinking right now. How did I come by such an ordinary job in
such extra ordinary surroundings? Admit it. That's what your
thinking. Right? You're not the first to have asked such a
question. Customers often ask me how I ended up here. This is my
story. Like many aspects of my life, it starts in an unusual
manner. In any life, there are an infinite amount of points where
it can change drastically and suddenly by pure circumstance.
Millions of seemingly unrelated events led to my current state.
If they had worked out differently, I would not have ended up at
the Tavern at The Edge Of Nowhere. The most significant event was
the "seemingly" coincidental intervention of the fairy fellow.
This is also his story.
To start with, the fairy fellow was unconscious. If he had not
been, this story would probably never have happened. It seems
incredible now when I think about it, but even I don't know where
I found him. I was lost.
I'm digressing already. Perhaps it would be better if I in a bit
of my own history first.
I was living in England when I was made redundant from my job at
the Berwick-upon-Tweed Matrix shop. I decided to take a long
holiday. Other matters had been praying on my mind for some time.
I was very depressed, but I would not have admitted to being
suicidal. What was needed was a sabbatical of sorts. I've always
been fond of backpacking. Without pausing for minor details, such
as planning the route, I was off to Scotland.
The flying bus took me to Glasgow. From there, I got a mono-rail
to a small village called Dalwhinnie. After a food binge at the
Ben Alder tea rooms I set off into the grey drizzle that lined
the edges of Loch Ericht (not a very good route). The path ran
out after about 10 miles, from there I was walking on wet peat
and boulders on what was, in places, almost a cliff edge. Indeed,
every now and then, I had to negotiate large places where the
mountainside had slid into the loch. At one such place sat a
small frog. Strange? The loch was a sheer drop of about 80 feet
and there was no other water for miles. I knelt down and talked
to the frog for a while.
"Gribbit. Gribbit!" I said. The frog just turned its back on me
and huddled down as if it wanted to go to sleep. "Charming," I
said and continued on my way.
I wonder how all these boulders got here? Answer - they had
fallen off of the tops of the mountains. You don't believe me?
Then push aside a boulder and see beneath the bodies of passing
idiots like me.
For the first few days, I used the map to walk between places of
potential interest. The first night I spent in the haunted bothy
at the foot of Ben Alder. Luckily, I never saw anything ghostly
hanging from the back of the door in the middle of the night. The
story is that a shepherd hung himself there. Many people have
seen his ghost. I hate the supernatural. When I was about 13, I
saw something that made my hair go white, but that - as they say
- is another story....
The next night was spent in the tent in the middle of Rannoch
moor. Next day, I wandered off at random not really caring where
I went. Rather stupid really! I don't know where I pitched the
tent that night. I didn't bother to work it out on the map. My
mind was numb with depression, but lacked specific focus. Like
the previous nights, I slept like a dead man. The following day I
didn't go anywhere at all. I spent the day in the tent reading
"All Fall Down," by Enid Jackson. A fictionalization of the real
life story of a woman who was a plague carrier. I had been
meaning to read it for years. It turned out to be totally bland
plot wise, but really great for it's historical accuracy. I threw
That night in the tent disturbed me greatly. All the bad things
that had been hiding in my mind during the day came bubbling to
the surface in 3-D technicolour. My mind was a cinema projecting
the same movie again and again. Each time the interpretation was
minutely different, but the plot remained the same. In the soft
silent blackness, I brooded about the death of my beloved Sarah
Brown so many months ago.
We were staying in Stockport Maine in the good old US of A. I
was drunk on the night of the accident. We all were. I was
driving, my brother Joey and his wife Mary were in the back seat.
They had come up from New York especially for my 21st birthday.
The party we had just left had been out in the countryside. I
can't remember the name of the village, but it should have been
called "Hicksville". Everybody was related to everybody. The four
of us stuck out like a sore thumb. Nevertheless, it had ended up
a very pleasant evening. Sarah was at my left hand side in the
passenger seat. We had been dancing all night. Not only was it my
birthday, but when we were at the party I asked Sarah to marry
me. She said that she would think about it. Swine!
It was 2 a.m and I was tired, but happy. Sarah was asleep. Joey
and Mary chatted quietly. It was raining, very windy and I was
driving too fast. The moon was bright and full.
At the side of the road was one of the strangest figures I could
have expected to see at this time of the morning, or indeed, any
time of day. A tall stocky man dressed in green tights, short
green jacket and a woolly green hat pulled well down. At first he
reminded me of a stereotyped Robin Hood. When the automobile got
closer, I spotted his short silvery beard. All in all, he was
dressed like an actor I had once seen playing the part of Oberon,
King of the Fairies, in a Shakespeare play. He waved furiously
and jumped about a lot. I did not know why, but there was
something familiar about him that made me feel uneasy. He might
have been shouting. It looked like it, but I couldn't hear
anything above the noise of the engine and the wild weather.
"Bloody loony hitchhiker! No way baby!"
Almost knocking him down, we roared by spraying him with water
from a unfortunately placed puddle. Seconds later, at the crest
of a blind hill darkened by overhanging trees, the automobile
struck a large dark shape in the middle of the road.
Something screamed. Human screams followed as the windscreen
shattered when Sarah was thrown through it. The world spun as the
automobile turned over onto its top, righted its self again,
rammed a tree and skidded down a grassy embankment. Sometime
during all this, something hit me on the face. Why hadn't the
crash balloons gone off? The seat belt was breaking my
I don't know how long I was out. Don't think it could have been
long. When I came to, someone had pulled me out of the
automobile. Near by, the fairy fellow was bending over Sarah. A
glowing band was about her head. It was connected by a thin cable
to what looked like a large portable computer. Distantly, I was
aware of the twisted body of a steer lying near by. It must have
been standing in the middle of the road when the automobile had
hit it. Jesus wept! Had the citizens of Hicksville county never
heard of fencing?
Trying to protect her from the loony, I tried to stand. A
million volts of pain surged through my left side. The whiteness
of bone glistened in the moonlight and the blackness of marrow
protruded from the skin of my left fore arm. I blacked out again.
Much later, I found out that I also had two broken ribs on the
left side and whiplash. Joey's head was badly cut and he had
three broken fingers and whiplash. Mary had a broken leg and a
fractured collar bone.
I was lucky. If I had not been wearing my seat belt, the
steering wheel column would have impaled my chest. It was an old
automobile; made before crushable steering wheel columns became
Sarah was not so lucky. On her way through the windscreen, hit
the dashboard hard enough to break her collar bone and all but
one of her ribs. Jagged bone tore her heart apart. She was dead
in seconds - I hope. Never again would I be irritated by the way
in which she treated all strangers as if they were long lost
friends. Never again would I run my fingers through her long
black hair or gaze into those sad grey eyes. Never again would I
have to stoop to kiss her. The loveliness was gone. The greatness
that was Sarah Brown did not exist outside of memory. She was
wonderful. She was the best. She was dead.
The memory of her broken body lying on the grass beside the road
with the stranger bending over it will haunt me till my dying
day. Who the hell was he? What on Earth was he doing? These
questions remained unanswered. You would have thought someone so
distinctively dressed would have been found quickly, wouldn't
you? He was never traced.
Although the accident was over a year ago, I never drank again.
She had died because of alcohol. Not so deep down, I knew that if
I ever took a drink again then someone else would die. It would
As I lay in my tent that night unable to sleep, death the
purifier seemed like an increasingly good fellow to meet. No job.
No kids. No Sarah. No future? Yes, it WAS a bloody good idea! How
to do it?
At nearly quarter to four that morning, I left my tent and
started to climb a nearby hill. It was cold, wet and dark. I left
my coat and waterproofs behind. I would not need them again.
Twenty minutes later, I reached the summit of the steep hill.
Coincidence had provided me with just what I was looking for. The
other side of the hill was a sheer cliff. Carefully, I approached
the edge and looked down into the dark beckoning woods below. It
would be so easy - so inviting - to take a last step forwards
into oblivion. A few seconds of freezing flight then silence.
Obviously, I didn't take that step - so, I'm a coward, big deal!
Instead, I sat down. Drunk with fatigue, I was in a dreamlike
state. I cried for a while and then sat in a trance for a long
time. Why me?
Suddenly I jerked to awareness. The sun was up and the view was
quite lovely. I was cold. I shivered in the cutting wind. My
clothes were damp with the rain and nervous sweat, but I did not
care. For some unknown reason, I felt euphoric. I was aware of a
warmth - a hope - inside. Everything happens for a reason. Sure,
life had hit a few too many curve balls recently, but all times -
even bad ones - change. I think it was George Orwell who said
something along the lines of, when you're lying on the bottom of
the world the only way is up. Think I know what he meant.
I had decided to stand up when I sneezed. Suicide by Pneumonia.
I waited a few moments for the next sneeze. It is my experience
that sneezes are plural never singular. The second sneeze never
came. Wrong again Tony. I stood up and began the weary climb back
down the hillside.
I was thirsty so I stopped and drank deeply from a spring.
"Oh, God! I need a drink!" I whispered out loud. All at once,
with a vice like grip, the hand of depression re-clutched my
By the time I got back to the tent, it was far too bright to try
and sleep. I got out my stove and heated up a tin of Irish Stew.
After only two spoonfuls, I felt suddenly sick. I swallowed two
caffeine tablets with cold sweet tea and reluctantly decided to
force the rest of the stew down.
After some more cold tea, - God really knew what he was doing
when he invented tea and sugar - I folded the tent away and went
down to the stream to wash the remains of the stew from the pot.
I changed my mind and violently threw the pot into the white
water. The world stinks!
"And then, one day, all the shit died! So ad bloody infinitum!"
I shouted - no, I don't understand it either - and went back to
When everything was packed I set off. I didn't plan to go
anywhere in particular. I didn't even look at the map. It didn't
matter. It was the walking that mattered. When you walk for a
long time, even the best scenery eventually gets dull. Your mind
seems to switch off. Your body is on autopilot. The rhythmic
swing of your legs hypnotises you. The hours can go by very
quickly - if you let them.
Many hours later, I came to a largish village. Where it was, I
don't know. There was a licensed grocers and it was open. I
bought a bottle of whisky and a half bottle of cheap wine.
I walked for quarter of an hour until I was sure I would not be
seen. My water flask hung on the crystalline graphite frame of my
rucksack - so its old fashioned, but it still does the job. I
opened it, drank half a pint of water and poured the rest onto
the road. We wouldn't like to end up dehydrated - would we?
I opened the bottle of whisky and poured most of it into the
water flask. About a quarter was left in the bottle. I held it up
to my face and stared at the beautiful golden liquid. Oh, such
delights it would bring! It sparkled magically as it caught the
sunlight. I sniffed at the mouth of the bottle. The smell made my
stomach heave whilst my mouth watered with desire...
Nostalgia had been triggered. A memory popped up out of the
twilight zone. Me, aged four, tasting whisky for the first
time. It was the morning after some sort of party. I had
discovered what looked like a half full bottle of soft
drink. I couldn't read, but recognised the bottle as being
cream soda. Why was the liquid a sort of brown colour? Who
cares! I tilted back the bottle allowing the unknown into my
young mouth and went into an extreme panic at what I tasted.
It was fire! I spat it out and got a towel to dry my tongue
with. The stuff made the towel go a funny colour. Who would
put such horrible stuff in a cream soda bottle? Was that
what they called alcohol? If that's what the grown ups call
"drinking", they must be mad! Why on Earth would anyone want
to drink stuff like that? It hurts! I'm never ever going to
drink that sort of stuff when I grow up!
...I took a sip. It made me cough. I drained the remainder in
one prolonged gulp. It burned like hell; yet contained a welcomed
comfort reminiscent of a long lost friend. "Hello. I'm back! Long
time no see," it said happily. I held my breath for a while so
that I wouldn't cough and threw the empty bottle away.
After my abstinence, the fatigue and my depression, one mouthful
of that hellish brew would have been enough to make me high. The
amount I had just gulped down was just plain stupid! Ten minutes
later it hit me. My last clear thoughts were pathetic.
"If I wait till I'm starting to sober up, I can sip the rest and
stay drunk all day."
It must have worked; for the rest of that day I walked in a
trance. The night passed like a long shadow. The next day was a
hazy dream. The effects of the drink could not have lasted that
long. I must have bought more, but I don't remember.
When I sort of came to my senses - I don't know how much time
had passed - it was four in the afternoon. Which afternoon, I did
not know. I was overcome with exhaustion. I had to get some
sleep. It was raining again and I didn't have a clue as to my
whereabouts. I was walking along a country road. To my left was a
lake or loch. To my right was a pine forest. I set off into the
forest looking for a campsite.
Soon, I came to a large clearing and stopped suddenly. Very
suddenly. In fact, I fell over.
Not wanting to get up again, I wriggled out of my rucksack
straps and managed to open it. I had enough awareness left to
find my survival kit. I took out the survival bag and, with much
difficulty, pulled the toggle which allowed the memory metal
struts to unfold it. I put my sleeping bag inside, crawled in and
Odd people have odd dreams.
There was a room with no windows. Perhaps a cellar? A stairway
seemed to be the only way out. I went up the stairs. Dead end. A
deep growling laugh that sounded strangely familiar. I turned to
At the bottom of the stairs was a terrible apparition. It was a
naked sexless person. Instead of a head, it had a slimy white
skull. Bleeding eyes in sharp edged sockets swivelled my way. The
thing waited for me. "Come here. I want to talk to you," the
skull said with a flapping tongue that looked suspiciously like a
slice of raw liver. Again, laughter. The stairs folded and became
a smooth slope. I started to slide towards the monster. No! More
Terrified, I clawed at the slope until my fingers bled. First
time I've ever felt pain in a dream! It was so real that I felt
my fingernails peel back and break. Splinters of wood from the
stairs embedded themselves into the open weeping flesh. It's only
a dream! It's only a dream! Then why does it hurt so much? The
thing reached out with a massive hand and engulfed my face. Wet.
Cold. Dark. I can't breath! Laughing! It hurts! When you die in a
dream, do you die for real?
And then I woke up. I still couldn't breath. Something was on my
face. I pulled it away and gulped in air. What had been on my
face? It was the plastic of the survival bag. The damp morning
dew had made it stick to my face.
Reluctantly, I opened my eyes. My head throbbed and I felt sick.
I moved slightly and became aware of an urgent need to empty my
bladder. It was either getting dark or getting light. I pressed
the button of my watch.
"Five p.m." It informed me.
For Scotland, it was surprising that it was not already dark at
this time of year. I must have been asleep for over 12 hours. I
crawled out of the survival bag and gently vomited bile onto the
grass. The steam from the mess was vivid, white, thick and
unreal. I stood up, unzipped my fly and washed the ugliness away
with a snaking flow of the darkest urine I had ever seen.
"Thank God, no one can see the state I'm in!"
I turned around and got the biggest shock of my life. A few feet
away, lying on the ground, was a bearded man dressed in green
tights and jacket. The fairy fellow! He was lying face down with
one arm outstretched, presumably, unconscious. A woolly hat was
lying on the ground beside him. His hair was white - just like
My hangover forgotten, I checked him for broken bones and
bruises. Nothing! I ran my fingers quickly through his hair. If
there was a lump there I missed it. He was breathing okay and his
pulse was strong, so I didn't bother putting him into the
recovery position. Where could he have come from? Who was he? Why
was he still so familiar? Could this really be the same person
that I had seen by the roadside so long ago on that terrible
I stood up and began to look for an automobile or something. Why
I assumed there would be a vehicle, I don't know - I just did. I
didn't find an automobile. I found a something. It was roughly
the same shape as a two man hovercraft, but the controls on the
open dashboard were of an unfamiliar sort. There was three large
digital clock displays. There was no steering wheel, foot pedals
or wheels. A five foot flywheel was mounted behind the sofa type
seat. A sort of safety rail ran right around its perimeter. There
were no doors, but the rail would have to be climbed over to get
Obviously, it was not a hovercraft. It must be capable of moving
in some other manner. After all, this was the middle of a forest
in the Scottish highlands. How else could it have got here? Was
it some weird ground effect machine?
I climbed in. There was a button labelled EMERGENCY RETURN. I
was about to press it when a thought struck me. If this
ridiculous machine was indeed capable of motion; pressing the
button might set it off on a journey. Maybe I would have trouble
switching it off again?
I climbed out again and carried the Fairy fellow into the
vehicle. I settled down into the seat beside him and pressed the
button marked EMERGENCY RETURN. With a hum the fly wheel started
spinning. The world began to shake slightly. The hum increased in
pitch and everything outside of the craft went grey. Look again!
There was no outside of the craft any more. Just the greyness. I
felt like a character in one of those cartoons where the hero is
running so fast that he leaves the cartoon altogether and stands
on an empty canvas.
I felt panic surge over me and I insanely decided to jump over
board into the nothingness, when the Fairy fellow woke up.
"Don't," he called.
I had one leg over the side already. I would have jumped out,
but I couldn't feel the ground. When the fairy fellow had spoke I
felt a giddy sense of disorientation. So strong was this feeling
that for a moment I thought that it was myself who had spoken.
"Don't do it. I don't know what will happen, but it might be
rather nasty," he said.
For a second or so I thought about diving off over the side and
then changed my mind. Instead, I withdrew my leg and dropped back
onto the seat beside him.
"What's going on? Who are you?" I was too frightened to be able
to say anything else.
"Er, I can't remember, but my head hurts. Who are you?" he ran a
heavy scarred hand through his white hair and gave a groan. I
don't know why, but I got the impression that he was lying and
that he knew perfectly well who I was.
"Tony Wheelbough," I said.
"I know!" he said laughing.
"Know what?" I said.
"I remember what's happening now. Well, sort of! You shouldn't
be here with me. As to what the hell is happening, things are
still a bit hazy. Are you flying this thing?"
"No. I hit the emergency return button."
"I don't think that I remembered to set it, so we'll end up in
the right place probably at the wrong time."
"What?" I said again.
"Oh wise up Tony! Haven't you worked it out yet? This is a time
"Like the TARDIS?" Given my current position, you would think
that it would have been difficult to mock the fairy fellow. Still
"Not quite. More like the one in that antique film."
"Back To The Future?"
"No!" he said in annoyance. "That's not old enough to be an
antique. I'm talking about that film about a time machine that
was called er, The Time Machine. It's your favourite film."
"How would you know?"
The greyness changed. In its place was a reddish sky and grass
so dark that it was almost black. In front of the time machine
were two extraordinary things. The first was the skeleton of a
whale. It was instantly recognisable as a whale simply because it
could not have been anything else. It looked as if the bones had
been polished and was quite beautiful in an odd sort of way. The
second extraordinary thing was a gigantic flashing neon sign
which floated unsupported in the air above what looked like an
old Edwardian manor house. It said;
T H E E D G E O F N O W H E R E
"We've arrived," said the fairy fellow.
"Please tell me what is going on?" I whimpered.
"Sorry no time. Must be off. Go to the help booths over there."
My eyes followed as he gestured towards a row of what looked like
cash dispensers set into the side of a wall standing in front of
the manor house.
"Hurry up. I shouldn't be here at all. Causality violations and
all that stuff. Savvy?" He vaulted over the safety rail, ran
round to my side of the machine and roughly pulled me out onto
the dark grass. Next he lifted up the seat of the craft to expose
a storage area which was filled with several bits'n'pieces. He
removed what might have been a large portable computer. A
familiar glowing band was attached to it by a single thick cable.
He carried them over to a second, identical, looking time machine
parked near by. Opened the seat locker, dumped his cargo in,
slammed the seat shut again and climbed inside.
"Be seeing you," he grinned.
"Wait!" I shouted.
"The help booths. Go to the help booths!" he pointed again.
Then he and the time machine were gone. It was as simple as
that. One second he was there sitting in the machine smiling and
the next he was gone. There was no fading involved. No bang of
air rushing in to fill a vacuum. Just a sharp crack like a large
piece of elastic snapping and I was alone on the dark grass
beside the skeleton of an extinct sea mammal.
Not for long though!
There was another sharp crack to my left. I looked and saw,
perhaps 50 feet away, a large object where nothing had been
seconds ago. It looked like a miniature version of the part of an
oil rig that shows above the waves. I guess its height must have
been around the 30 foot mark. As I watched, a door opened, a ramp
extruded and three people got out. I say people only because the
creatures were humanoid and walked on hind legs. Instead of
clothes they were covered in tidy green feathers and had several
belts hung about themselves. One of them looked in my direction
and gave a wave and a whistle.
"Hi!" it said when I didn't answer its whistle.
It's face was much like I imagined a human beings would look if
it was covered in feathers. To my surprise there was no beak on
the face nor was there any sign of wings on the body. It turned
back to its companions and they walked off towards the building.
"Some people!" one of them muttered quietly.
What I needed at that moment was a book entitled, How To Stay
Calm. As no such publication was available, I decided to follow
the bird-men at a discreet distance.
Nearer the building, I could see the words, "Edge Of Nowhere"
carved in the stone above the main doors. To the right and left
were smaller sets of double doors. Over one set of doors a small
black and gold sign said, "The Last Restaurant". Under the sign
was a painting of a cobblers anvil with a ballet slipper in the
background. Very funny I don't think! LAST, huh! Over the other
set of doors a sign said "The Tavern". There was no painting
beside this sign. It was through the latter that the bird-men
went. I tried to follow, but could not. It felt as if something
was pushing me back. At first it was as if I was walking into a
strong wind that slowly increased the nearer I got to the
building. When I was about 15 feet from the front door the force
was so strong that my progress was halted. What now?
I turned, intending going over to the so called help booths and
was pushed over by the invisible force and dragged a few feet
back the way that I had came. Oh, why can't I have piece and
quiet to enjoy my hangover?
The nearby help booths looked a bit like cash dispensers except
for a dark hole where the money would come out and a much larger
landscape screen containing many lines of text. The first line of
text was English. The second looked like Russian. The next might
have been Mandarin. The next 30 or more lines were a mystery to
me. I later found out that some were other Earth languages an
others Alien dialects. Here is what the English text said,
IF YOU CAN READ THIS, TOUCH IT.
I did as I was told.
ARE YOU FROM EARTH?
A full sized drawing of a keyboard appeared in the screen.
Slowly, I typed in my answer.
IS THAT A.D?
WHAT IS YOUR NAME?
PLEASE WAIT THERE IS CONFUSION!
More than a minute goes by.
DO YOU UNDERSTAND ANYTHING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU TONY?
DO YOU WANT TO?
What a dumb question! It was tempting to give a negative answer,
but it was a machine and wouldn't catch the irony. It would
probably would just say goodbye. Instead, I answered in the
The help booth went on to tell me lots of things about the Edge
Of Nowhere. Like the nature of the invisible barrier that
prevented my progress earlier. It was nothing more than a fancy
type of force field nicknamed a friction field - true friction
fields don't exist. The nearer you got to it the harder it
became. Fine, I had already guessed as much. What's it for? This
was pretty obvious when you thought about it. To keep out
Time travellers don't always arrive by time machine and are not
necessarily friendly or even sentient. It's not unusual for a
tiger or something equally vicious to get caught up in a
naturally occurring time warp and be thrown out near the Edge Of
Nowhere. When the planet was discovered there were all sorts of
skeletons - even a few human - and other junk lying about in and
around the arrival zone. There is no surface water on this planet
and nearly all the vegetation is poisonous (to Earth creatures
anyway), thus the skeletons. This zone is roughly triangular with
sides slightly less than 10 miles long. Right in the middle is a
safe zone where nothing is ever washed up by the current's of
time. This is where the complex was built. For extra security,
the force field was added. All the junk was cleared away to make
room for arriving space/time craft - actually, nearly all of the
visitors are space, not time, travellers. Travelling any distance
through space involves a certain amount of mucking about with
time. The only piece of junk that was allowed to remain was the
skeleton of a blue whale. It was moved nearer to the force field,
covered with preservative and polished.
This was all very interesting stuff, but how do I get in?
YOUR KIRLIAN FIELD MAY BE ADJUSTED.
May be adjusted? I knew what a Kirlian field is. It's a sort of
electrical force that surrounds everything. Some people call it
an Aura. Even as early as the twentieth century it had been
photographed by a special process. According to the help booth,
by the twenty third century it was almost universally accepted
that the Kirlian field is actually the soul. Inanimate objects
have 'pretend' souls. Animals have partial souls that will grow
into the full thing if self awareness occurs. The friction field
that protects the Edge Of Nowhere is triggered by the lack of a
key patch in the person's Kirlian field. The patch is attached to
the individuals Aura by the help booth if it is satisfied that
the person is not dangerous. Unfortunately, Kirlian technology is
an inexact science. One in every ten thousand people has a
naturally occurring patch similar enough to a key so that the
force field ignores them. According to the help booth, the
chances that one of these people would turn out to be a threat to
the Edge Of Nowhere is so low as to be negligible. I'm not so
sure. Life is full of impossibilities. Well, mine is!
My Kirlian field was, indeed adjusted. After it had answered my
questions, the help booth asked me all sorts of questions. Some
of them were quite odd. For example,
ARE YOUR MOTHER AND FATHER ALIVE?
WILL ANYONE MISS YOU?
DO YOU LIKE COMMUNICATING WITH STRANGERS?
"If you mean gossiping, then yes."
And so on, and on and on....
At the end of it all, I was thanked for being so helpful and was
told to put one of my arms into the dark hole to the left of the
BE CAREFUL NOT TO TOUCH THE SIDES OF THE HOLE OR YOU WILL GET A
PAINFUL ELECTRICAL SHOCK.
I was careful and did not receive a shock. My soul was marked
and I was free to enter the Edge of Nowhere. There was one last
question for me.
THE ANSWERS YOU HAVE GIVEN AND THE SIGNS IN YOUR KIRLIAN FIELD
SHOW THAT YOU WOULD MAKE A GOOD BARMAN. SUCH A POSITION EXIST'S
HERE. ARE YOU INTERESTED?
YOU ARE LYING.
"No, I'm not."
THEN YOU HAVE NOT PROPERLY CONSIDERED THE MATTER.
"I do not want a job as a barman."
YES YOU DO.
"I do not!"
THIS UNIT IS INCAPABLE OF LYING. IT HAS BEEN IN CONTACT WITH A
PARTY OR PARTIES FROM IT'S OWN FUTURE. APART FROM SHEILA STEVENS,
TONY WHEELBOUGH IS THE NAME OF THE MOST WELL KNOWN BARMAN THAT
WILL EVER WORK IN THE 'TAVERN'.
"I don't care."
I AM PERMITTED TO TELL YOU THAT AS A DIRECT RESULT OF TONY
WHEELBOUGH BECOMING A BARMAN IN THE TAVERN, THE INDIVIDUAL KNOWN
AS SARAH BROWN WILL BE BROUGHT BACK FROM THE DEAD IN A FEW MONTHS
TIME. THIS INFORMATION IS ACCURATE, BUT CAN NOT BE PROVED AT THIS
Oh, my God! How could this machine know about Sarah Brown?
Fumbling, I hurriedly typed in a question.
THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN SECURITY PROTECTED. IT WILL NOT BE
REPEATED. FURTHER INFORMATION IS NOT AVAILABLE. THIS UNIT WILL
DENY ALL KNOWLEDGE OF EVENTS ALREADY GIVEN.
The information was indeed security protected. I questioned it
for a while, but it acted dumb and denied saying anything about
Sarah Brown. There was nothing else I could do. This was
blackmail! Reluctantly, although intrigued, I turned away, walked
a few tens of feet - unmolested by the force field - and entered
the Tavern for the first time. My life was changed for ever.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.