Towards the outer rim of the known galaxy, lies a small sparsely inhabited planet called, by the residents, Valala. Covered mostly by water, one small island stood alone. As the thin, swirling, ocean mists parted, a large rock mass could be discerned, jutting out of the waters like the molar of a rabid hound.
On closer inspection, a rocky mountain trail can be seen leading from the impeachable shoreline. Follow the seldom used dusty trail over the first set of rocks and a sign comes into view.
“EVANS RETIREMENT HOME FOR ETERNALS”
Clearly announcing the impressive, rock built Castle and high walled gardens that nestle comfortably at the end of the path.
Waldorf was up to his usual stunts, dressed in slippers and a large, blue, chequered dressing gown. He was pushing the recently repaired mind scooter to its limits.
Hovering a foot off the ground his partner in crime Godfrey was timing his laps of the castle.
Waldorf was too old to be zooming recklessly. His long grey hair and beard trailing behind him with the ever increasing speed. He needed to improve his times. Godfrey sat in his bucket chair laughing and encouraging his old friend on his latest daring exploit.
Envious of Waldorfs vim and vigour, Godfrey would have loved to have the nerve and energy to chase. He had to make do with being the brains of the outfit and had refitted the old mind scooter, that he had found in the attic.
The other residents looked on in shame and outrage from the safety of the large glass conservatory, the two of them should know better and they were distracting them from their afternoon bridge tournament.
“OK Waldorf that was twenty-eight seconds from start to finish have a go at beating that my friend”
“No problem you old timer watch this” Godfrey held the stopwatch in his clawed arthritic liver spotted right hand.
“On your marks…….go”
“You’re meant t’say get set, you fool” Waldorf shouted behind himself as he sped off at a hell of a pace.
“Careful you Muppet” Godfrey replied slightly concerned as Waldorf turned anti-clockwise around the base of the south-east turret.
Waldorf was loving the thrill of the ride but he was pushing it a bit far this time, he had only just recovered from breaking both legs in his abseiling down the North wall! Disaster was not far away…..he sneezed! Turning the final bend, the scooter shot to the right and propelled Waldorf off to the left head first through the conservatory window. Crashing onto the nearest bridge table, with playing cards, glass, tea cups and old folk, flying in all directions.
“Oh my, Oh my” Godfrey wheeled his chair up to the crash site to survey the damage “Call The Warden Mavis!” Mavis was the nimblest of the bridge players and she shuffled nervously out of the door to find The Warden.
The Warden was in the orchard half way up a Bramley apple tree applying a bug strip around the trunk to stop the bugs from getting the buds before the fruit could ripen. He heard the commotion and made his way to the hospital wing of the castle speaking on his wristband intercom.
Ten server-bots entered the conservatory, eight of them arranged themselves around the prone figure of Waldorf and gently but mechanically lifted him off the table and led him through the heavy wooden door to the hospital wing at the back of the castle. The other two started to efficiently clear up the mess and mend the breakages.
“I think he’s dead again Cyril” Arthur shouted rather loudly as Cyril tended to be deaf and not keep up with events as astutely as he used to.
“Oh dear, well Warden will sort it”.
Godfrey mind-wheeled his bucket chair through the wood-panelled corridors concerned for the fate of his companion, worry showing on his normally easy to smile, wrinkly face. He arrived at the ward just as the bots were coming out “Warden! Warden! How is the old fool?”
“Ah Godfrey, he will be fine, come back tomorrow and he will be as good as new….well, alive again anyway, new may take longer.”
The Warden waved his hand in Godfrey’s direction.
“Oh, Okay then, I will come back tomorrow” Godfrey rode away with a glazed expression and went to the conservatory to join in the bridge game, which had re-commenced without much upheaval.
“How is he, Godfrey?” Mavis asked.
“Oh he’s fine he will be out tomorrow”
“That’s nice, I have a flush” She lay down her hand and the game carried on.
The ward was spotless, not a single mark or blemish on any of the surfaces. Kept hygienic and sterile by the bots. Waldorf lay on a bed, broken and bleeding. One bot stayed with him tending his cuts and cleaning his wounds. Another bot lifted a syringe full of mucus-like gunk and injected it into Waldorf’s chest, causing a muscle spasm and a loud groan from the instantly re-awakened body.
The Warden nodded, tutted, turned, and went back to the orchard.
The next day Godfrey was up early. Most of the residents were at the early morning swim in the luxurious heated indoor swimming pool and steam room. It helped to keep the old joints moving. He went straight to the ward with a box of Waldorfs’ favourites ‘jelly fruits’. When he got there the bots had applied bandages to every inch of Waldorfs’ badly battered body.
Two red, yellow and purple-tinged, bruised eyes peered out from behind the bandages.
“How do you feel old man?”
Waldorfs’ beard poked out from the wrappings and wiggled up and down as he spoke.
“I feel great my friend, get me one of those bucket chairs and I will be up and running in no time.”
At that precise moment, the Warden came into the ward pushing a chair.
“I thought you may want this Waldorf, now take it steady for a few days. Or until your bones mend together a bit at least. Greaves needs a hand in the planetarium and that should keep you out of too much trouble for a while.”
“Thank you, Warden, that is just what I was after.”
Waldorf gingerly sat up on the edge of the bed and the warden helped him to shuffle his backside into the mind-chair.
“I wonder if this chair is faster than yours’ Godfrey?”
“Don’t you start fool,” Godfrey replied looking uneasy.
The two old friends trundled off side by side, out of the ward and down the long brightly lit corridor, into the older wing of the castle. The Warden followed on behind, heading to the garden to mow the lawn, ready for the afternoon croquet tournament.
The planetarium was massive. It had a projection of any requested galaxy in 3D, projected onto the ceiling and by pushing the corresponding sequence of buttons from the command chair, could bring into view a holographic, life size, real time planet floating and slowly spinning in the centre of the room.
Greaves loved the planetarium. He spent all his waking time in there. Cleaning, dusting and working on shaping planets for inhabitation. He looked like a mad professor with milk bottle glasses. Wild grey sprouts of hair surrounded a shiny bald head. Not good with people, he looked on reproachfully as Waldorf and Godfrey entered his domain.
“Ah, hello Greaves, the Warden said we should keep out of trouble and see if you needed some help?” They knew that Greaves was better if you used the direct approach. Ask him a complicated question and you could be stuck with him prattling for days.
“The Warden did mention that you may be popping in.” He stopped mopping the already shiny floor and leant on his mop.
“I have the beginnings of an uprising on A6105, for some reason the Warden thinks you may be able to help?”
“We would be delighted old boy, remember that massacre on B1180 we averted with hardly any help? All we needed was a single emissary.” Waldorf looked questioningly at Godfrey.
“You up for it old man?”
“More than you I should say, you aren’t even capable of pressing the screen yet.”
They manoeuvred their chairs up to the console. Godfrey tapped in A6105 to the touch screen and the planet hologram appeared before their eyes, filling most of the room.
“Greaves, could you just slow down the rotation for a while? And give us a readout of the history.” Greaves approached the console and tapped a few letters and symbols. The planet slowed to almost a stop and the information appeared in mid-air next to the hologram.
“Good man, Thank you”. Waldorf and Godfrey sat silently, reading and zooming in and out of the hologram, carefully piecing together the unfolding story……..
“Well, I think we get the gist, don’t we?” Godfrey finally looked sideways at his bandaged friend who had fallen asleep with his head on his chest, drool trickling from his mouth onto his bandages.
“Too much for one day then my friend, we will put a plan together tomorrow” He tied a rope from the back of his mind-chair to the front of Waldorfs’ and towed him out of the planetarium and back to his room.
Breakfast was kippers, as usual, Sitting in the corner of the classical, rococo period dining room, the two men whispered in confidence. Not that it was necessary. Most folk there struggled to hear their own alarm clocks. Waldorf needed a bit of help cutting it up but managed to manipulate his fork awkwardly from his plate to his mouth.
“Sometimes my friend, the only time I feel safe is when you can’t get either of us into trouble.” Godfrey sipped his coffee, leaning back nonchalantly and looking relaxed.
“I won’t be in this state for long, old timer, but for now we have to consider the possible fates of that A6105 planet.” He just managed to avoid choking on a kipper bone.
“It is an interesting place don’t you think?”
“It has some very interesting inhabitants, most seem to be the dominant male type. With hints of megalomania. We need a young hero who we can prod into Heroism and save the day and the planet.”
“Well, that’s that then case solved.” Waldorf started carefully on his cup of tea.
“You know as well as I do it’s not that easy, we need a hero and an emissary. Any ideas?”
“Yes, my friend Godfrey I think I do.” With that, he finished his cup of tea, without spilling a drop.