A Storm In A Teacup
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A Storm In A Teacup

Now, a whole decade after the shocking events of 2010, I can finally look back on that frightening year with perfect 2020 hindsight.

I was standing in a park with my friend Flickr when it all began. "I've just finished my first year at university," he said. "I've got millions of great photos. Would you like to see them?"

"No thanks," I said. "It'll probably involve eating too many cookies. How are you liking university?"

"Oh it's great," Flickr said enthusiastically. "There's so much to do. So many concerts to see, so many clubs to join. The social life is superb."

"But what about your studies?" I asked.

"Oh, I'm not doing very well there. My tutor, a man called William Archibald Spooner, insists that I'm not working hard enough. He told me I'd completely tasted three worms, and he's probably right."

Just then a saucer flew in low over the trees and landed, quietly and without any fuss, in a small clearing. I had scarcely recovered from the shock, when a teacup swooped across the trees and landed on top of the saucer. There was a definite clink to be heard as it touched down. A small spiral of steam quivered over the top of the teacup. The handle of a silver spoon could be seen jutting up from the rim.

As Flickr and I stared in astonishment, a door opened in the side of the teacup. An ornate staircase slid down from the doorway and thumped into the ground. Three aliens emerged from the teacup and walked down the stairs. One was a large, silver robot who said, "Klaatu barada nicotine," as he puffed on a huge cigar.

Just behind the robot was a gorgeously proportioned lady who looked exactly like Nigella Lawson.

"Cor," said Flickr, "she's built like a chic brithouse."

"You're doing your Spooner impression again, aren't you?" I asked.

"Neigh," said my friend Flickr. "What's that?" He pointed at the third alien that was now scuttling down the staircase.

"It's a weta," I said. "Have you never seen a weta before? It's an insect-like special effect that eats money and excretes movies."

"Oh, I see," he said, looking hard at the aliens as they walked over to us.

Once they got close enough, the Nigella glared at us with her exquisite strabismus and said, "I need butter, cream, and a dozen eggs."

"What for?" I asked.

"Cholesterol inna bun," she said.

"Never mind that," said the robot. "I need a garage with a good workshop. I'm having problems with the tachyon drive in the teacup."

"I'm not sure I can help you with that," I said. "I don't think we know anything about tachyon drives in this part of the world."

"But tachyon drives are simple," said the robot, sounding quite astonished at my ignorance. "Let me explain it to you. Why did the tachyon cross the road?"

"I don't know," I replied. "Why did the tachyon cross the road?"

"Because it was already on the other side," said the robot. "There, now you know how tachyon drives work. I told you it was simple."

The weta scraped its mandibles together and I got the distinct feeling that it was applauding. It excreted a blue meanie with a ring on a gold chain around its neck.

"Wot? Wot?" asked the blue meanie. Then it put the ring on its willy, dissolved into the air and vanished from sight.

"Can't the Nigella or the weta help with the tachyon drive?" I asked.

"Oh no," said the robot. "The weta only forges pictures, it can't forge metal. And the Nigella was expelled from school before she reached that part of the curriculum."

"Why were you expelled?" I asked the Nigella.

"I was caught cheating in a biology exam," she explained. "The invigilator noticed me counting my breasts."

"Oh, I am sorry," I said sympathetically.

"I don't suppose it really matters," said the Nigella. "I'd never have passed the exam. I ran out of fingers."

I raised a quizzical eyebrow at the robot who shrugged and said, "Well, we are aliens after all!"

"Wow!" said my friend Flickr. "Can I take a photograph of you?" He took an impressively complex looking digital camera out of his pocket and began to focus carefully on the Nigella. "Look at the dead birdie!"

The Nigella looked up and anxiously scanned the sky. "Where is it?" she asked.

"Don't be so literal," Flickr said. "Take off your clothes."

"Certainly not!" said the Nigella. "I'm not that sort of alien."

"That's all right," said my friend Flickr. "I'm not that sort of photographer!"

"I'm not taking these clothes off," said the Nigella firmly, "and that's final. I'm far too fond of them. They were an absolute bargain, as indeed they would have to be because I bought them at the Wearhouse."

While we had been talking, a host of grey clouds had gathered and once they reached critical mass, it began to rain. The weta frantically clicked its mandibles as the rain hosed down.

"He's not happy," said the robot. "He's rapidly turning into a wetter weta and he doesn't like it. Perhaps you'd better all come and shelter in the teacup."

I held my face up to the rain and let it splash caressingly all over me. "He really doesn't have anything to worry about," I said. "We have very soft water here. It's quite harmless."

"Soft water?" asked the Nigella.

"Yes," I said. "As opposed to hard water. You know – ice?"

"I'm not sure if that's the real meaning of soft and hard water," said the robot dryly.

We all climbed back up the stairs and went into the teacup. We passed through an archway. Embedded in the pillars was a full body scanner that photographed us, fingerprinted us and projected inside and outside pictures of our naked bodies on to a TV screen for all the world to see. As the weta passed through the archway, I got a glorious view of his inner structure.

"Lovely bones!" I said admiringly.

My friend Flickr took frantic photographs of everything he saw. Unfortunately there wasn't much to see. Grey walls sloped up to a high ceiling and small blue lights glowed at random intervals. There was a teapot on a table, and a dark brown brew was steeping in it.

"Would you care for tea?" asked the robot.

"Yes, please," I said. "Milk and no sugar." Flickr took a photograph of the teapot and nodded his head. The weta tickled one of the glowing blue lights with a mandible and a cupboard opened in the wall. The weta removed some mugs and put them on the table.

"I'll be mother," said the Nigella as she grabbed hold of the pot. But no matter how she struggled and strained, she couldn't pick it up. "You idiot!" she said to the robot. "You brewed the tea with heavy water again!"

"Sorry," said the robot. "Perhaps we'll skip the tea and go straight to the anal probe. Bend over!" he instructed me and my friend Flickr.

Flickr and I looked at each other. "On the count of three," said Flickr, "run for the stair of the headcase."

"OK." I agreed.

"Three!" said Flickr, and we ran, with the robot, the Nigella and the weta in hot pursuit. As I ran, I noticed a darkness in the wall where a blue light was no longer glowing. I thumped it hard, and it started to glow again. The robot screeched to a halt.

"The tachyon drive!" he said. "You've fixed it. How can I ever repay you?"

"You could let us go home," I suggested. "And then you could fly away and never bother us again."

"Of course," said the robot, and the Nigella and the weta concurred.

My friend Flickr and I stood in the park and watched the teacup take off and fly away. Soon afterwards, the saucer set off after it in hot pursuit.

"As my tutor would say," remarked my friend Flickr thoughtfully, "this story needs to end with a good lunch pine."

"Just like that," I agreed.

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