The Astdewrvs (dwarves with a penchant for Astronomy) bustled around Jake, carrying various devices and some writing notes on long pieces of paper stretching half way across the large chamber. Each dwarf was wearing an outlandish eyepiece made up of various crystals, glasses, microscopes, binoculars and telescopes. At least, Jake thought they were wearing them. It had crossed his mind that here, in Imagi-Nation, that these “eyepieces” were their actual eyes. But it only crossed his mind fleetingly, a mayfly of a thought that comes into existence only to disappear once it has achieved what it needs to do.
The chamber itself was a very large observatory, enough height to fit at least 20 elephants if they stood foot to shoulder. As he looked up he saw lights floating around, but as he looked more he realised that the lights were flying machines piloted by the Astdewrvs. The place was crawling with them.
The pair of binoculars, Jake knew to be Orph, bounced up and down if front of Jake, leading Jake towards a huge telescope jutting down from the roof, at the end of which sat a very old Astdewrv looking through the lens calling instructions to others around him. His body was covered in old, dirt encrusted contraptions, the like of which Jake had never before seen, and his eyes looked almost normal, if two bulging crystals with blacks dots on them looked normal. He also had long beard, matted and home to many small creatures (Jake swore that he saw a badger’s nose pop out then disappear back in) and when he moved Jake saw that he had wheels instead of feet.
Orph the Binoculars stopped by the old Astdewrv and cleared his throat (do binoculars have throats?) to get attention. The old Astdewrv paused in what he was doing and threw a contemptuous look down at Orph and picked him up.
“These binoculars are not standard issue, and they are far below standard. If I were to call them faulty then that would be an understatement. And who glued a top hat on it? That’s really not appropriate. The old Astdewrv promptly shoved Orph into Jake’s hands, “Throw that one away and get another pair,” and went straight back to what he was doing.
“No!” squeaked Orph, “You have it wrong, I’m from the Travelling Artists Guild. I don’t have a PIPD [Physiological Integrity Preservation Device] on me, hence the pair of binoculars I’ve become.”
“Orph?”queried the old Astdewrv, “Is that really you? Sorry old boy, should’ve known you by the hat! Terribly sorry old bean.”
“Not to worry old chap, could happen to anyone.”
“Yes, indeed.” The old Astdewrv guffawed with a bray that a donkey could be proud of.
“Jake, may I introduce you to Ollgrump, Head Astdewrv of the Astonomy Planet.” Ollgrump held out his oil-stained hand, which Jake took gingerly and was pleasantly surprised to find it silk soft!
“Listen Ollgrump, we’ve got a problem,” the pair of binoculars were looking very serious now, “Jake’s released the… well, the THING from Big Plaice, and I suspect it is roaming the stars now. We need your help in tracking it down!”
“Well, that explains it. I’ve a report here,” said Ollgrump handing a document to Orph, “with details of some very strange things going on!”
The binoculars flicked through a few pages, letting out a few significant ums and ahs from Jake’s hand.
Ollgrump continued, “First we saw a trail of fisheorites stretching from the Infinite Fish Tank… that had our terminology lads in a bit of a fix… a few stars were turned inside-out, back to front and upside down, which is so ugly I’m going to have nightmares for weeks! And to top it off we spotted a group of planets and stars playing poker!”
“So, a normal day at the office then,” said Orph.
“Yes, indeed,” grinned Ollgrump. “Now if you’ll follow me we can have a look at what is going on.” Ollgrump turned his attention back to the telescope, making adjustments to it every so often. “Hmmm, erm, aaaah, ahah! There’s the old blighter!” He grabbed Jake roughly and put his eye to the telescope lens.
Jake couldn’t see much at first, just black space, a few stars giving off disco type displays.
Ollgrump whispered in his ear, “Get a good look at the brightest star you can see there and zoom in.” Jake did so.
He zoomed in closer and closer until he thought he couldn’t get any closer. “Then, once it is the only star in view, look to the left of it and you’ll see a planet. Zoom into that.”
Jake zoomed in even more; the power of this telescope was unbelievable! He zoomed in and saw a beautiful planet full of wide open plains and extensive forests, high mountains and deep seas.
“Yes,” responded Jake.
“See the problem?” But before Jake could answer Ollgrump carried on, “Well then, you know what to do. Have a good journey. Or should I say Hav è gôod jèrnii!.”
And with that the Astronomy Planet, the telescope lens, Ollgrump and the Astdewrvs disappeared and Jake found momentarily in the Non-Zone before finding himself in a wide meadow next to a donkey with Orph’s hat perched on it rump. The head looked strange, like it had no life, like it was just a fake head stuck on the end.
Orph’s voice emanated from the donkey but from the posterior end, “So, what am I now?”
“Errrrrm… you’re an ass. And I’m sorry to say it but you’re talking out of your ar…”
TO BE CONTINUED