Frontline 9: Gurgling in the dark

Posted July 2nd 2004

This is Radio WRKX broadcasting, with another illuminating report from battle hotspot Halo. Our latest instalment comes live from an outlet pipe somewhere in the murky labyrinths known as 'The Library'. Peering through the gloom after preparing with a punishing diet of specially exported carrots is our girl with a mission, the ever enquiring Suzie Hoffenblatt. And it seems that she's found somebody or something to talk to. Frontline questions, cutting daily through the fog of war, here on Radio WRKX. Take it away Suzie…

Suzie: Mr Flood, it's good of you to take time out from your busy schedule of gurgling to speak with us.

Mr F: Oh that's ok Suzie. Actually business is a bit slow at the moment, so I'm quite happy to have a bit of a natter. Don't get a lot of chance for it down here to be honest. I mean, it's not as if many of the guys are great conversationalists or anything.

Suzie: No, they did seem a little sullen on my way in. But I imagine that conversation must be a trifle awkward for you anyway, what with the general absence of a head and everything.

Mr F: No head Suzie, yes, no head. That's a bit of a downer quite frankly. Doesn't make things easy. People tend to look around for something to talk at, but they never do find anything, which seems to embarrass them, so after a while they generally make their excuses and slope off somewhere else. Still, mustn't grumble. You should see some of the other guys!

Suzie: Well thanks to an excessive quantity of carrots I did manage to see some of the other guys as you put it, and yes I take your point. There are some pretty alarming fellows lurking around out there.

Mr F: But I imagine nothing much fazes a professional like yourself Suzie.

Suzie: Oh goodness no, we meet all sorts, and I've bumped into quite a few odd things in the last couple of days I can assure you! Still, I imagine that with the lack of a head and suchlike, it's not particularly easy for you to aim at people when you're trying to shoot them.

Mr F: No absolutely! Which is why I mostly just stick with flailing these arms about the place. I do a windmill sort of thing. Whoooshhhh… See?

Suzie: Golly that's quite impressive. You could have someone's eye out with that. Not truly arms though are they.

Mr F: No, you've got me there. More a case of branches, you'd have to say. I can do a pretty good tree impression actually. Sort of a party trick I roll out on special occasions. Really cracks the guys up! I'm an entertainer really Suzie.

Suzie: An entertainer? Gosh I'd never have suspected it. Have you any ambitions for taking your talents further?

Mr F: Well, I was thinking I might try out at the Gurgling Monster sometime. Comedy nightclub. Very cosy, great atmosphere. A lot of the guys go there after a good day's gurgling. Really helps 'em unwind. Sometimes literally!

Suzie: Hah hah, very good. And the best of luck to you; I'm sure you'll go far. But coming back to your appearance, you're also very tall, even without a head; and you put me in mind of someone I was talking to recently.

Mr F: Yes, well it's a bit of a hazy memory now, what with all the bio-restructuring I've had, but I can vaguely remember being something blue and menacing. Lot of running around being angry. Pretty sure I had my own catch-phrase too.

Suzie: Hmmm… perhaps I can suggest a clue. "Wort?"

Mr F: No… nothing.

Suzie: "Wort wort?"

Mr F: Still not ringing any bells.

Suzie: "Wort wort wort?"

Mr F: That was it! Oh god, I used to love saying that. Can't quite recall why, but yeah, thanks, I'll have to write that down, see if I can work it into my act.

Suzie: Delighted to help. So tell me, have you been here long?

Mr F: Oh at least a few months I think. Can't be sure; it's easy to lose track of time down here. Actually it feels quite homey by now. Still having a devil of a time finding my way around though. It all looks the same! You'd think they could've put up signposts or something.

Suzie: Yes, the unplanned two hour detour I took on the way here suggests that directions could have been quite beneficial.

Mr F: Wrong turning eh? Heh heh! We've all been there honey. Sometimes a guy'll go missing and we have to send out search parties. Some of them are never seen again. That's what happened to my pal Frank. He just popped out to get a fresh jar of liniment for his skin condition and that was it. Never made it back. Gone like a puff of wind he was. Probably still wandering around in the darkness somewhere; must be miles away by now. He was one of the few guys would chat with me too.

Suzie: That's a shame. And yes it is very dark down here isn't it.

Mr F: Very dark Suzie. Quite poor on the street lighting front, you'd have to say. Mind you, given the way that some of the guys look, it's probably just as well.

Suzie: That's a good point. But I did encounter one bright light along the way.

Mr F: Oh god, don't tell me. Floating blue ball; talks a lot; very irritating; sounds vaguely insane.

Suzie: That was him!

Mr F: We hate him we do. Drives us barmy the way he rambles on. Wouldn't be so bad if he said something useful, like tips on the best places to gurgle and stuff. But no, it's just nonsense. Got a few wires crossed, we reckon.

Suzie: Yes, he was driving me a bit batty too. I eventually had to ask him if he wouldn't mind floating somewhere else… or words to that effect.

Mr F: Nice one Suzie.

Suzie: You're welcome. But if I can move on to another matter, how do you normally spend your time down here?

Mr F: Oh, well there's sort of a general understanding that we should hang around waiting in outlet pipes and so on. Maybe do a spot of gurgling. And if anything comes along, leap out and either fire something or have bit of a swing with any wavy bits we've got handy, so to speak.

Suzie: And is there a lot of waiting?

Mr F: There's a lot of waiting Suzie, yes. But we manage to pass the time. You know, somebody'll whip out a pack of cards or something. Or maybe we'll see who can gurgle the loudest. But that soon wears a bit thin to be honest, so we're all pretty relieved when we can do a bit of jumping out and stuff. That's definitely the high point of the job. Well, unless you get your head blown off. Or not, in my case.

Suzie: Absolutely. And have you done any leaping out lately?

Mr F: Funny you should mention it. Yeah, actually I popped out a while back. Word came down the line that some green-helmeted fool was causing a bit of a commotion, generally shooting up the place and so on. So we all got ready, and sure enough here he comes, gay as you like, acting like he owns the place. So everyone jumps out and gives him a right old gurgling.

Suzie: Gosh, he couldn't have liked that at all.

Mr F: You'd have thought so wouldn't you Suzie. But all he does is start blowing chunks off the guys, left right and centre. Luckily I was standing behind Rick The Witless Wonder. That's what we call him. Called him, I should say. Heh, he'd gurgle at a brick wall would our Rick. Wasn't quite with it, if you get my drift. Anyway, he got his head blown off, so it doesn't really matter now. And that's what saved me see; otherwise I probably would've taken the blast square in the chest.

Suzie: Phew, close call; must have given you quite a shock.

Mr F: Well it was more than I bargained for, I have to admit. Anyway, before I could get my wits about me and try a spot of the old windmill business, this tin-plated maniac's bombed off down the way there, blowing chunks off the other gurgling freaks. Gone before I had a chance! Which was a real disappointment because I hadn't jumped out in a long time.

Suzie: That's a shame. But I'm sure there'll be another day.

Mr F: Certainly hope so Suzie.

Suzie: If I can close with one final matter. Um, they call this place the 'Library'. But I haven't seen many books, so far.

Mr F: No, you're quite right there, no books. A lot of outlet pipes and so on, and we're also quite big on tunnels, but no books as such. An oversight I agree. But there's a couple of enormous TV screens just around the corner. Really really large, mind. You need to stand way back to get the whole picture. Still, they're ok for a bit of entertainment on a quiet day when the reception's good. We've asked for some books certainly, but we're still waiting.

Suzie: Well, perhaps tomorrow. But with that, I think I'd better leave you to your gurgling, and make an early start on finding my way out of here.

Mr F: Been a pleasure Suzie. And good luck!