[Castle Carfax. A thick mist roils above the moat. A solitary window in the pinnacle of the highest, 21A-covered, tower glows with candlelight. Within, the castle's master summons his ramshackle henchman...]
Igor! IGOR! Ah, there you are. What kept you?
Thorry, thir. I wath converthing with the village'th patiththier.
Ah, yes. Ordering crumpets for tomorrow's breakfast, I trust. He is a masterful exponent of the art. Truly a baker's 18D. Now, tell me, how did the experimental brain do with tonight's crossword?
Thlow, marthter, but thuctheththful in the end.
[Scene: A ramshackle castle, perched on a steep and windswept mountainside. From this chill 4D, the slopes descend precipitously to a warm and pleasant bay, surrounded by white sand beaches on an azure sea, sparkling in the morning sun. A suspiciously new and unblemished harbour area lies to one side of the Caff. Within the castle, a dishevelled figure bursts into the hazardous materials kitchen, surprising its occupant.]
Igor, how many times have I told you not to distract me when I'm handling Marmite? This stuff is dangerous!
[The scene: Castle Carfax. The drawing room, late at night. Candles gutter fitfully in sconces on the walls. An eerie melody swirls up from the organola† in the chapel across the courtyard. The castle's dread master summons his twisted servant.]
One of our experimental subjects has taken action to fend off our usual methods!
The orbital mind-control latherth, thir?
Once upon a time, there was a magical kingdom called btrfs, with many CoWs in it. In this kingdom was a castle, called Castle Carfax. One of the most important people living in Castle Carfax was called Amelia, and in the castle she kept eight circles of adamant. These hard disks, as they were called, held all the important knowledge of the castle.
[A lecture theatre. A selection of young faces, many still showing the after-effects of a long Freshers' week dissipation, gaze down at the lectern in a mixture of boredom and mild panic. Notes are frantically scribbled, some on paper, some on newly-purchased eyePads. The lecturer is in full flow.]
... and finally, we add the tincture of saffron blended with the trace amounts of meteoric iridium catalyst. This is most important, and should under no circumstances be omitted.
Would somebody please poke that gentleman at the back? What's your name, sir?
[Note nailed to the sally port of Castle Carfax]
Message to couriers:
Please ring and wait for up to 10 minutes, to give Igor enough time to hack his way back out of the conservatory. If there is no reponse, DO NOT leave deliveries with the neighbours, as they will only use them to create their own unspeakable horrors. Instead, kindly leave your parcel by throwing it over the castle walls. You will find the necessary trebuchet on the next mountain to the east.
The Castle Carfax Postal Team.
[The Small Experiment Hall, Castle Carfax. Mysterious organic objects lurk in jars of discoloured fluid. Three-phase power sockets feed glowing machines, into which complex pieces of chemical glassware drip slowly. Approximately three ferrets cower in a cage on the central table, guessing their fate. A door on the far side of the hall slams open, and a short twisted figure shambles in at speed.]
Oh, do be careful Igor, you nearly had that liver on the floor!
Thorry, marthter, thall I cook you thome more for dinner?
No. What is it, Igor? Why do you distract me when I'm working?
There'th a group of thtudentth outthide, marthter.
Students? Well, heat up the oil and wind the ballistas.
[Castle Carfax. Morning. The castle juts proud (and slightly lop-sided) from the mists of the mountain, slowly burning off in the hazy sunlight. Below in the valley, the village is quiet in the remaining fog, save for the occasional goat-bell. From a tall central tower, comes a deep and unearthly moaning.]
Rithe and thine!
Last night, I went down to Cow Lane, not far from where I live, to see the first phase of the new rail bridges put in place. Railtrack are spending £850m on upgrading the station and tracks around Reading over the next few years, including two new platforms at the station itself, new lines, and an overhead section so that freight trains can bypass the station without getting in the way of the passenger services. As part of this, they're widening the two bridges on Cow Lane to the west of the town, which have always been a major bottleneck on that road.