Please come back in 24 hours. We apologize for the inconvenience.
“Well,” said Ford, brightly but slowly, “stop doing it of course! Tell them,” he went on, “you're not going to do it anymore.” He felt he had to add something to that, but for the moment the guard seemed to have his mind occupied pondering that much.
“Eerrrrrrmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…” said the guard, “erm, well that doesn't sound that great to me.”
Ford suddenly felt the moment slipping away.
“Now wait a minute,” he said, “that's just the start you see, there's more to it than that you see…”
But at that moment the guard renewed his grip and continued his original purpose of lugging his prisoners to the airlock. He was obviously quite touched.
“No, I think if it's all the same to you,” he said, “I'd better get you both shoved into this airlock and then go and get on with some other bits of shouting I've got to do.”
It wasn't all the same to Ford Prefect after all.
“Come on now… but look!” he said, less slowly, less brightly.
“Huhhhhgggggggnnnnnnn…” said Arthur without any clear inflection.
“But hang on,” pursued Ford, “there's music and art and things to tell you about yet! Arrrggghhh!”
“Resistance is useless,” bellowed the guard, and then added, “You see if I keep it up I can eventually get promoted to Senior Shouting Officer, and there aren't usually many vacancies for non-shouting and non-pushing-people-about officers, so I think I'd better stick to what I know.”
They had now reached the airlock - a large circular steel hatchway of massive strength and weight let into the inner skin of the craft. The guard operated a control and the hatchway swung smoothly open.
“But thanks for taking an interest,” said the Vogon guard. “Bye now.” He flung Ford and Arthur through the hatchway into the small chamber within. Arthur lay panting for breath. Ford scrambled round and flung his shoulder uselessly against the reclosing hatchway.
“But listen,” he shouted to the guard, “there's a whole world you don't know anything about… here how about this?” Desperately he grabbed for the only bit of culture he knew offhand - he hummed the first bar of Beethoven's Fifth.
“Da da da dum! Doesn't that stir anything in you?”
“No,” said the guard, “not really. But I'll mention it to my aunt.”
If he said anything further after that it was lost. The hatchway sealed itself tight, and all sound was lost but the faint distant hum of the ship's engines.
They were in a brightly polished cylindrical chamber about six feet in diameter and ten feet long.
“Potentially bright lad I thought,” he said and slumped against the curved wall.
Arthur was still lying in the curve of the floor where he had fallen. He didn't look up. He just lay panting.
“We're trapped now aren't we?”
“Yes,” said Ford, “we're trapped.”
“Well didn't you think of anything? I thought you said you were going to think of something. Perhaps you thought of something and didn't notice.”
“Oh yes, I thought of something,” panted Ford. Arthur looked up expectantly.
Copyright © 2007 Tom Kostromin Review LLC
All rights reserved