“You!” a voice commands imperiously, a purple talon pointing in my face. “You will help me.”
I gulp. We get a lot of weirdos in this joint. You know the type; pale and pasty from inhabiting the dark watches of the night, hunched over their computers, spewing their innards into Ebooks which they sell for the price of a hamburger on some wretched E-retailer site called Leprachaun, or Amazon, or some such.
But despite their technology and dislike of publishers and agents, they can’t keep away from real books. Faded ink printed on yellowed paper. Musty, dusty, intoxicating, addictive.
“What are you looking for?” I sigh, booting up the old library desktop. Some obscure volume of love charms and youth potions, from the looks of her.
She takes off her aviator goggles, and fixes me in a piercing stare. “I’m looking for a man.”
She’s weirder than I thought. “You can try the Irish bar down the road. We only stock books here.”
She arches a mesmerising, perfectly pencilled brow at me. “That’s not the way I roll.”
Judging by her customised Tee and the jingling Victoriana jewellery, I don’t doubt it. I pick up the phone and dial security.
“Toby here,” says a comforting voice.
“Help me,” I beg. “I’ve a right one here. Says she’s lost her husband.”
“He’s not my husband,” she snaps. “He’s a very rare Geoffle of dubious age who is predisposed to being somewhat tangental, and he’s done a runner with the awards. What am I going to give the winners now?”
“Ah… she’s here for the BOSCARS,” says Toby, sauntering through the door and leaning on the desk. He flicks a speck of purple glitter from his lapel. “Hey, do you like my new uniform?” He strikes an alluring pose, but I’m not in the mood.
“Not now, Toby. Can’t you see we’ve got a crisis on our hands?”
“BOSCARS?” Weirdo-woman suddenly looks faint. “I think I’m gonna puke.”
Always at the weekend when there are no cleaners, I think to myself in disgust.
Toby sniffs. “Yeah, you know. Like the OSCARS but for Bloggers.”
At this, she lets out a blood-curdling shriek and drops to the floor.
“You’ve bloody killed her, Toby,” I gasp, racing around the desk to check her pulse. “Call an ambulance. Get the supervisor.”
Toby folds his arms across his chest and pouts. “Why do you keep calling me that? My name’s Hugh, got it? Hugh.”
“You were Toby yesterday.”
“Really? Are you sure?”
“What does it say on your badge?”
“It says Robert.”
“Then your name’s Robert, Robert.”
“Robert Robert? I suppose I do have rather a lot of monikers. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track. And passwords, don’t get me started-“
“Monica?” I shake my head, confused. “Never mind… Look, she’s coming round. Get her some water, Toby-Hugh-Robert-Monica… oh, whoever.”
“I don’t want any sodding water, I want wine. Rosé, and lots of it,” she croaks as I help her up. “What am I going to do?”
“We have a great self-help section where you might find some answers,” I suggest, then shrivel under her withering stare.
“If I want help, I’ll ask my useless excuse for a committee,” she retorts, consulting the intricate mechanical timepiece hanging on a chain around her neck. “Where are they all? We were supposed to meet by some statue. Perhaps I’ve got my time zones confused.”
“It’s your airship.” Robert-Toby-Hugh-Monica hands her a paper cup of water, which she sniffs at suspiciously. “It’s completely blocking our view of poor old Newton. You can’t park it there. I’m afraid you’re going to have to move it.”
I glance out the window. The airship has gathered quite a crowd, but they don’t look happy. Old Newton sits alone on his cold stone throne, looking on with ill-disguised contempt .
“You’re going to have to sort them out,” I tell Toby-Monica-Robert-Hugh. “Looks like they’re going to riot. And if old Newton starts firing off his apples, there’s no telling what could happen.”
“I’m on it.” He slips out the door, wielding his pink brolly with relish.
Witch-face turns a few shades paler. “They’ve tricked me. It’s a plot. They’re going to take over the #Bloggersbash and rule without me.”
“Who are ‘they’?” I ask, bewildered.
“The blogging bloggers, of course!” She shakes her head at my stupidity.
Suddenly, Hugh-Robert-Monica-Toby bursts through the door. “It’s getting quite ugly out there,” he squeaks excitedly.
Weirdo-woman rolls her eyes. “That’s why we blog,” she says, voice laden with scorn. “So no one can see us. We don’t do face-to-face. I knew this was a bad idea, but Geoffle made me do it.”
“They’re demanding some 70s Swedish pop group. They said if they don’t get them, they’re revolting!”
I gasp. “ABBA is here for the BOSCARS? Aren’t they dead? Or doing panto?”
Witchy gives another little strangled cry and faints. Monica-Robert-Toby-Hugh meets my gaze. “Call security,” he demands.
“You are security,” I yell at him.
“They want their ABBA’s,” mutters Weirdo-woman into the polished tile floor.
Wondering exactly how much rosé she’s already had, I help her to her feet for the second time. “I thought they were here for the B-“
“Don’t say that word,” she screeches warningly, and I clamp my mouth firmly shut.
“That’s torn it,” said Toby-Hugh-Robert-Whoever. We both glare at him. He points outside. “The airship. Hope you’ve got insurance on that thing, love, cos someone just ripped a big gash in its side with a fountain pen.”
“My lovely airship,” Weirdo-lady yelps, and rushes to the window. “It was only delivered by Amazon yesterday. The delivery van wrote off my car trying to back it up the drive…”
She gazes mournfully at the rioting bloggers as her deflating airship zips crazily in the sky above them. It drapes like a giant soggy handkerchief over the angry crowd, and they wriggle like fish caught in a net.
“Well, that’s them all wrapped up,” says Robby-Nobby-Barney-McGrew with obvious relief. “I’ll have them carted off to the dungeon, erm, I mean, the café for some English tea and scones.”
“It’s all that Geoffle’s fault,” Weirdo-woman says ominously. “I gave him too much power. He’s obviously gone over to the Black side.”
“What’s a Geoffle?” Bert-Rob-Monica-Moon chews on the unfamiliar word, looking puzzled.
Bloody Indie authors; they think they can re-create the English language to suit themselves. And the rules of grammar… and spelling… My reverie is interrupted by Weirdo’s gusty sigh.
“He’s the man I’ve been looking for.” Her face darkens. “And if he thinks he’s taking over and stealing my thunder, he’s got a battle on his hands.”
Just then, the door is thrust open and a tiny woman no taller than my knees marches in, dressed all in green with red hair and a beard to match, tugging someone along behind her.
“Look who I found down the Irish bar, to be sure,” she announces, prodding her prisoner gleefully with a lethal-looking curved stick.
“Ow! Stop poking me with that hurl,” her prisoner squeals indignantly.
“Ali,” exclaims Witch-face in surprise.
“Aye, tis I, meself, to be sure.” The Irish caricature grins manically.
“Geoffle,” she hisses, eyes narrowing to dangerous slits as she glares at him.
“I was just partaking of a G-G-Guinness. Purely for medicinal purposes,” Geoffle protests.
“But I thought you were a tea-totaller.”
Geoffle grimaced. “I needed it after what I’ve just been through.”
This time, Weirdo-woman raises both mesmerising, perfectly pencilled brows. “And the reason for the pair of you being in the pub instead of meet-and-greeting our Bloggers is…”
Ali smiles, confident that her Irish blarney won’t fail her. “Sure, I’m here for the craic now, aren’t I? You English just don’t understand; today is August 1st.”
Weirdo-Black snorts. “Trust the Irish to state the obvious. So?”
“So it’s Lughnasa, ancient festival of the Irish, a time when the veil between this world and the Otherworld thins, allowing all manner of ghosts and ghoulies to escape. I was protecting you.”
“In the pub?”
“To be sure. What other portal would the Irish use?”
“I thought you were a vampire-slayer not a ghost-buster.”
“That I am.” Ali brandishes her hurl. “I whack ‘em with this. Works every time.”
Witch-face looks doubtful. “I thought you needed pointy stakes to kill vampires.”
“Nah, hurls are much more dangerous. Have you never seen a hurling match?”
Weirdo-woman takes a deep breath, nearly bursting her corset, which she was wearing over her customised Tee. “So Geoffle, you’re not challenging me to a duel?”
Geoffle blinks. “What? No. Cricket’s my game.”
“Monopoly’s mine,” interrupts Hugh-Robert-Monica-Toby excitedly. “I’ve got properties everywhere. I’m a property tycoon, I am!” He shakes glitter from his hair, and it scatters all over the foyer.
I eye it in despair. I’m leaving it for Monday’s cleaning staff, I decide.
For the first time, Witchy-woman smiles. “Right then, let’s get this show on the road. I believe we have some awards to give out. Talking of which, where are they, Geoffle?”
“That’s why I needed the Guinness. The Irish fairies didn’t like us hi-jacking their festival with our Special Event; they read all about it on Facebook. So they attacked me. It was terrible…” he sobs. “They… they tickled me into submission, and stole the awards.”
“Oh no! What will we do? We have to give the winners something.”
Geoffle wipes his eyes on the vintage lace fingerless glove Witchy-Black hands him, and takes a deep breath. “It’s Ok. Ali took me bog-diving to the Fairy-king’s castle, and I won them back by telling bad jokes. I think he’d have given me his crown and his daughter if it would have made me stop.”
Weirdy-woman claps her hands. “Well done, Geoffle! My hero!”
This time, I feel my own less-than-immaculate brows arch. From villain to hero in a couple of sentences; it could only be Indie fiction.
“I’m afraid they’re a bit worse for wear.” Geoffle rummages in his purple flowery man-bag (he likes a bit of horticulture), and produces a sodden mass of mud-stained fabric.
“Luckily, I brought my trusty upcycling kit,” says Witchy-woman brightly, and cackles. “I’ll turn ‘em all into tanks and fix ‘em up with a few sequins. No one’ll notice.”
“Grand,” says Ali.
“Okey-Dokey,” says Geoffle.
“Group hug,” cries Toby-Robby-Monica-Hubert.
Don’t forget, you have until 12pm Thursday (UK time) to vote for your fave bloggers in the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards.
The social event of the year, the Annual #Bloggersbash takes place this Saturday 1st August 2015 at 11.00am outside the British Library, meeting by the Newton statue.
If you can’t be there, you can keep in touch on Twitter via our hashtag #BloggersBash, and also on our facebook event page, where we will be posting photos and up to date information on the day live as it happens. Sounds like fun!
Find out more here. Only 4 more sleeps to go!