Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy
6: Life And Death
(C) Geoff May
____ The worms of Betatalos IV are a rowdy bunch. Being an average of six feet long, they attract many a Horned Articurian Needle-Fish, which is why they're rated top of the line angler bait and are hunted across the galaxy.
____ It took anglers many centuries to finally conceive of a way to control these worms, being so large and strong. Their plans backfired however, when they realized they hadn't yet come up with a way to first capture them. After more tedious centuries, they found out that the worms were attracted to tiny mushroom ants (originally from a planet conveniently labelled 'Ant-Infested-Bug-World' in the Uronia Beta system, on which the atmosphere is poisonous to any non-native living - or dead - life form). One lucky scientist was able to grab five ants after discovering a loophole in the atmosphere, and returned home only to find they had bred one hundred fold.
____ He died of suffocation shortly after.
____ The ants eventually multiplied across that planet and continued to spread to other star systems. When a galaxy wide quarantine was eventually induced, the population of mushroom ants quickly subsided due to the massive appetite of the Betatalosian worms, and the unstoppable crave of Needle-Fish anglers for the widely enjoyed, and highly profitable, scent of Articurian Rotting Fish-Flesh.
____ As soon as the ant population growth was controlled, the ant species suddenly died out (for a reason still baffling the top-notch scientists), and all hope was lost for the angler. The worms died of starvation, thus ending the Needle-Fish population, which in turn resulted in many donatable body parts for the Inter-Galactic Medi-Corps because of the sudden increase in Needle-Fish angler suicides.
____ A distant relative of the Betatalosian worms however, the worms of Terra III - otherwise commonly referred to as the 'earthworm', were quite abundant, but limited, to Earth. This was a bad thing for Arthur Dent, or would have been had Arthur been in a universe where the earth had been destroyed when he decided to try his hand at fishing.
____ He had become a very depressed individual after the little incident at Stavro's. Ever since he first met that strange alien on that strange planet, after Earth had been demolished to make way for a hyper-space bypass by a Vogon constructor fleet, and had accidentally killed the alien, then met him again a few months later, at which time the alien was furious with Arthur and told him about a time in the future when Arthur would kill him once again, and shut up just in time to again be accidentally killed by Arthur, he was happy in the fact he would have to live until that day, and that day had just passed.
____ There was no fighting fate.
____ Arthur was going to die.
____ But not today. Arthur stood on the shore of the lake determined to make the fish bite. Tossing the hook into the water, concentrating solely on his purpose to yank a poor helpless fish from his home, he waited. He waited.
____ 'Have you given up yet, man?' asked Ford Prefect impatiently, 'they just aren't biting!'
____ 'Well if you would shut up, they might have more motive!'
____ Ford sat back sharply, bored out of his mind and not at all pleased with the way Arhur was handling his present situation.
____ Random stared blankly at the water while visions of mutilating and eating the intestines of a small rat floated aimlessly through the void in her head.
____ Trillian sat back on the grass still wearing her rumpled Rymplon(tm), wishing she were back on the moon of Toorine reporting on the riot incidents of the Local Branch of the Intra Dimensional Toorian Cockroach Lovers Club.
____ And Tricia McMillain stood, confused at the sudden appearance of what seemed like alien humans, one being Arthur - whom she was unexplainably attracted to, one being Random - her strange unknown daughter, and one being Trillian - a nearly exact duplicate of her, but of whom she coveted looks. That Rymplon(tm) looked extravigant, enhancing Trillians curves and making her look years younger - exactly what Tricia needed. She could feel it hugging her features and warmly carassing her smooth skin...
____ 'Hey! Hey!! I think I got one!' Yelled Arthur.
____ 'Yeah. Mm-hmm. Sure,' Ford paused.
____ 'For zark's sake Arthur, give it up! It'll never happen!'
____ 'You of all people should know impossibility is not possible... here it comes!'
____ Using all his strength, about that of a dung beetle, he slowly started to pull up out of the water his first and only catch.
____ 'I'll guess a boot,' said Trillian.
____ 'I'll take a rag,' bet Tricia.
____ 'Gimme a triple-edged super sharpened razor knife.' Everyone paused and looked at Random for a relative second. 'What?!'
____ 'Fine, I'll take a zarking Hitchhiker's Guide Mk II!' hissed Ford, 'Would you just get whatever it is so we can leave this God forsaken planet?!'
____ They all turned their attention to the ripples appearing at the fishing line's entry point.
____ Ripples, or waves, as not many living organism's know, are formed when one piece of matter collides with another piece of matter and makes it run away, colliding with another piece of matter. Rather like how the grebulons from our tenth planet, they call it Rupert, tried to play football. After monitoring modern human football games on our primitive radio band tv signals, they decided to try out our violent sport.
____ The grebulon leader first put on what would suffice as pads - his pet earth squirrels, grabbed their large Bugblatter Beast egg, rounded up his grebulon crew and began to pound them. Unfortunately for him, his crew did not like this, and threw him out the airlock. After which time they elected a new leader, and wept over the loss of their Bugblatter Beast egg.
____ They decided to warn all other grebulon packs not to partake in the terran football ritual from that time on. It was just too damn stupid.
____ The fishing rope became taught under the immense tension, as did the group of five watching and waiting.
____ When the object finally surfaced, they all stared in confusion. Except for Ford who was overly surprised and glad. He reached out and grabbed the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Mk II and held it in his hands.
____ 'Alright! Unbelievable!' Yelled Ford, 'I can't believe it. What would the new guide be doing laying here in a muddy Terran lake?'
____ 'Anything's possible,' said Arthur.
____ 'Yes but...' He barely got out the but before he saw a flash of a person who looked surprisingly like Random appear in front of him, and disappear before he could say 'Tortiosplaticaniosiphobidialiosys Ip'. His mind thought about this event, while his hands felt like a load had been taken off, which apparently had happened. When his mind realized this he yelled 'Zark! Random get back here!', then got up and began to chase her.
____ 'I can't believe this,' said Arthur.
____ 'Come on, let's get her!' said Trillian.
____ 'Get her? Why? I just can't believe I couldn't even catch a stinking fish! Jeez!'
____ Tricia and Trillian got up and ran after Ford and Random. Arhur was left, looking between the water the shrinking bodies in the distance. Reluctantly he jogged after them.
____ Random held the round saucer shaped guide in her hands while dodging large boulders, avoiding tree trunks, and not falling into the lake. At the same time, cracks began to appear across its' surface. Slowly it opened up, flew into the air, shone brightly for a relative second, and turned into a bird.
____ 'Good day! What would you like to learn about today?' It said.
____ 'I want to get out of here! Take me somewhere I'll fit in! Take me somewhere I'm needed!'
____ And at that moment, Random and the guide dissappeared in a puff of temporal smoke. This happened not a moment too soon because Ford was in the air and landed face first on the exact spot Random had been a relative split second ago.