Clocks and Boxes — Part 53: Cosmos

The water came rushing through the corridors of the Pyramid, like a river somehow running uphill. The flinty-eyed Ma Dusty was so shocked, she lowered her six-shooter. Delia took the opportunity to elbow the horrible woman in the ribs, before both of them were swept along by the raging torrent.

Darkness fell as Delia and Ma were swept away from the huge robot that was the source of the light. And then even Ma was gone, and Delia was alone, buffeted down a stone corridor by a raging stream. Perhaps she heard the shouts of human voices behind her. Perhaps she did not. Most of her mind was concentrated on keeping afloat while also protecting her face from impacts with the unseen walls. For the walls were of rough stone which scratched and abraded bare skin. Delia's silvery space costume protected most of her body, but keeping her face and hands clear was not easy.

Delia hit a wall as the stream turned a corner. A struggling body hit her as she adjusted. Whose body? Friend or foe? Human or…

And just like that, the light was back, bright and painful on her dark-adjusted pupils. She was tumbling down a slope. She might have tumbled all the way down, but even in her addled and battered state Delia had just enough presence of mind to remember the Measure. By increasing the distance between one bump and the next, she was able to rapidly slow her descent. She came to a stop on the side of the Great Pyramid, and quickly moved out of the stream of water that flowed down the side. The light that had so bothered her at first turned out to be a surprisingly bright full moon, for it was night-time already. She sat and -- perhaps tired of always being the serious one -- turned her head comically to one side and whacked the other side to knock water out of her ear.

"What just happened?" Alfred said, coming to sit beside her. He looked how Delia felt, his scratched, bleeding middle aged face rising from the collar of his jumpsuit.

"Beats me," Delia said. "The Pyramid flooded. I'm no Egyptologist, but I'm fairly certain that Pyramids don't flood."

They sat and watched the river that ran from the Pyramid's eye all the way down to Wellington Road. Occasionally, a struggling cowboy, mummy or jackel-headed monster floated past, and they both sighed with annoyance when it did.

"Right, I think you know this lady?" came a voice from behind. Delia turned to see a man in full Grecian armour, holding Ma Dusty at swordpoint. Ma, who had been wearing long, cowboy style clothes looked completely bedraggled – but the grey eyes that glared from under the soggy brim of her hat still looked merciless.

"The Pyramid is ours," Ma said. "It belongs to the Grey Barn. My son gave his life for it. In other words, get offa our property!"

"We don't want your Pyramid," Alfred said. "Do we? I don't think we do. I'm quite confused."

"We don't want your Pyramid," Delia said. "But we want your Pyramid gone!"

The robot climbed out of the eye of the Pyramid and tiptoed down the slope. It's enormous feet and heavy metal body clearly weren't made for walking downhill. Consequently, it moved gingerly to avoid slipping. It had never occurred to Delia that watching a giant robot move gingerly would be embarrassing, but she found herself watching the giant automaton out of the corner of her eye.

"Gone?" Ma sniffed.

"Hey, yeah, that's not a bad idea," the Greek warrior said. "Oh, I'm Norman, by the way."

"Delia."

"Good to meet you."

"Oi, Normie! Were you wondering where the water came from?" the robot boomed.

"Yeah," Norman said. By the look on his face, Delia could see that he not wondered any such thing.

"Well, it was an old friend," the robot said, opening a door in its torso. Out came a young lady, dressed in a ragged jeans, polo shirt and apron combo.

"Fiona!" Norman cried.

Delia looked at Alfred. "Do you get the feeling that we're losing the initiative here?"

"Never felt like I had it, honestly."

The young woman stepped towards toward Norman. Somehow, Delia expected her to kiss him, but instead took him by the hand in a way that was more sisterly than romantic.

"It took so months to save you," she said. "I had to find a way in through the base of the Pyramid. Once I'd done that, it was an easy thing to flood the insides and wash you out."

"Like giving the Pyramid an enema," Alfred mused. Delia elbowed him. "What? It is."

"Well, I suppose it is, but even so…"

"You consarned puddin' heads!" Ma shouted. "You washed your friends out, but you washed out all of the COWBO agents who were inside. The Grey Barn has lost they Pyramid."

"That good?" Norman asked.

The robot shrugged.

"You ain't go the strength God gave a syphilitic woodchuck," Ma said. "If you thought the fighting over South Hertling was bad, wait until you see it now. The whole Universe is gonna want to take this Pyramid now. It’s gonna be chaos and destruction like you've never seen!"

A quiet fell over the little crowd. "Shit, eh?" Norman said.

"Chaos?" Delia said.

"Chaos. Destruction. Slaughter."

"But mostly chaos."

She met Alfred's eye. For a long moment, Alfred looked at her quizzically. At long last, he started, as he guessed what was in his beloved's mind.

"Oh, no! Not that!"

"I can't make you," Delia said. "But you know it makes sense. A place for everything, and everything in its place."

Alfred sighed and rubbed his eyes. Slowly he stood and dusted his hands before reaching down to help Delia up. Smiling, she took his hand and stood.

"Get Mrs Dusty away," she said. "Get everyone away. This Pyramid is of cosmic significance, it seems. Well, let us take it out then. Out into the cosmos!"

Previously -- Part 52: Nope

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