It's Creatures Galore!
with Billie Piper!
Previously in 'Creatures Galore':
'We had better go, Miss Billie!' said Professor Martin Grant, the bear professor. 'it's not safe to sleep in the olden days.'
We hugged, and time went all crazy again. Whooooahhhhh!!! When we landed it was pitch black.
'I wonder where we are?' I said.
'I've no idea. But can we have a slightly shorter adventure this time?' laughed Martin. 'Maybe about one third the length of this one?'
It's Billie here with more crazy adventures in time!!! Oo-er! I'll just carry on, shall I?
'We won't be having any adventures, you silly bear!' I laughed. 'Why, it smells like we're in my under-the-stairs cupboard!'
And I reached out for the light switch, and turned it on. 'WARGH!' I exclaimed. We weren't in my under-the-stairs cupboard - we weren't even in my house!!!
We were in a long metal corridor that stretched off in both directions as far as the eye could see! The corridor was hexagon shaped, and lots of pipes and wires ran along the walls and ceiling. It was lit with a harsh red light - everything looked like what things look like when you look at them through pretend spectacles made out of the plastic tray bit in a packet of Jammie Dodgers. In fact it was pretty bright - I wished I had my shades!!!
'Where on Earth are we?' I wondered aloud, then kicked myself as Professor Grant chuckled and said:
'Not where are we, but...'
'Yes, yes, OK, when are we?' I asked, and gave him 'a look'.
'We're in the future!' said the ursine academic. 'Look at all these pipes and wires!'
'And the floor is made of metal!!!' I observed.
'It's not just made of metal, it's metallic. I'd say we must be ... ooh, in the year 3000, or thereabouts!'
'Blimey!' I exclaimed. 'Then - we must be in space! In a spaceship!'
'Well, maybe...' murmured Professor Grant, sniffing the air. 'Come on! Let's find out!' And he strode off down the corridor.
I was so excited. THE FUTURE! Imagine ! There would be robots and lasers and rocketships and tellyports and sciengtists and I'd get to sing with a backing band of silver androids and there'd be hovaboards and anti-grav zoos and hyperspace and FTL taxis and ...
'Oh, Miss Billie, contain yourself!' snapped Martin. I had been making my list of future things out loud!!!! Crikey!!!
'Sorry, it's just...'
'I know, I know. But ... well, I don't want to alarm you, Miss Billie, but the future's not always a very nice place. I know. I've been there.'
'But ... it'll be great!' I said, indignantly. 'Robots and stuff. Lasers.'
'Robots and lasers can be used for bad as well as good you know, young lady.'
Then I remembered when I'd programmed my Big Trak to knock Mr Choo Choo off a stool, and bit my lip. Professor Grant was right, and I faced the future with trepidation.
We walked for ages down the corridor. The pipes and wires made clanking and buzzing noises, (it sounded like the demos Richie does that they wouldn't let him put on Invincible!!!), and I shivered.
Suddenly, we turned a corner, and the corridor ended. There was a blast of sulphorous air, and we looked out into the future!
It was a massive metal street, surrounded by gigantic sky-scrapers - twice as big as anything in New York! The skyscrapers were metal, and the grey, grey sky looked like it was metal, too. Trudging down the street in the cold, steely rain were thousands of people. They were all dressed in identical grey overalls and they all had shaved heads with barcodes tattooed on them. I quite wanted a tattoo when I was 16, but I wasn't allowed one. The people all looked very sad.
There were no flying rocket cars, no hovaboards and no robots.
It wasn't what I expected, and it wasn't very nice.
'Why is everyone looking so sad?' I asked Professor Grant.
'I'm not sure,' he replied, wrinkling his muzzle. 'I've never seen the future look this bad before ... Come on, let's find out what's going on.' And he strode off into the metal street, leaving me to hurry after him.
What sights we saw in this grim, bleak dystopia! Everywhere, crowds of the depressed looking people streamed past. They did not even seem to notice us - even though we were a pop star and a talking bear! At every corner there was a Pac-Man machine with people crowded around - one person would play it and the others would watch, but neither spectators nor participants seemed to be enjoying themselves. Somebody called GAV had got all the high scores. Elsewhere, we peered through a tinted window and saw a group of the drone-like people all wired up to a big machine with wires.
'What are they doing?' I wondered.
'They are some of the future's many Internet addicts, Miss Billie.'
'Oh, how sad!' I exclaimed. I had observed this trend back in the twentieth century, and it was awful to see my predictions confirmed.
'Yes,' sighed the Professor. 'They can't get enough Internets, and if they do - they will die!!'
'That's terrible! Why are they scratching between their legs?'
'They're not scratching, they're... oh. Let's go now, Miss Billie. And quickly.' Professor Grant hurried us away from the distressing sight.
Looking up, I noticed that all the sky-scrapers had giant TV screens on them. On the screens was a middle-aged, balding man with a slightly fat face. He had a strange half-smile, and he was standing next to a smiling Japanese lady. She was holding some toothpaste. I wondered if she'd seen the Pokemon movie???
'Who is that man?' I asked, POINTING.
'I don't know,' said Professor Martin Grant, thoughtfully. 'But he seems to be the only one smiling in this harsh world.'
We strolled past a clothes shop, but it wasn't an exiting and happy place like the Oxford Circus Top Shop. Oh no - it was very different to that!!! In the window there were four shop dummies wearing red shirts and ties!!! And guess what??? They were playing funny instruments and dancing jerkily!!! I was a bit frightened that they might come to life and break through the glass to get me!!! They didn't though. We walked on.
Just then, I saw a magical sight! The blocks of foreboding sky-scrapers gave way to a rolling parkland of emarald grass, oak trees and lush ferns! And amongst the ferns I could see creatures - robot creatures! - gamboling around! I could see a robot squirrel burying a nut, a robot racoon chasing some laughing robot crows, and, coasting gracefully from tree to tree, a robot sugar-glider! Bless!
But I could smell ozone, and something burning - oh no! - it was a little robot fox cub, and it was malfunctioning! It was twitching and sparking like it was having an epilectric fit!!!
'I must help it, it's a creature in distress!' I shouted and ran into the park towards the little fox.
'No, Miss Billie, don't!' cried Professor Grant. 'Why do you think none of the people are in the park?' But it was too late, I was running towards the convulsing robot fox as fast as I could!
I was nearly there, when there was a slithering sound from the ferns next to the fox. Aieeeeeeee!!!! A huge robot snake shot out in front of me, and reared up, hissing!!! It must have been twenty feet long!!!
I stopped dead. The robot snake was staring straight at me with it's glowing red robot snake eyes - I was sure I could hear lasers charging up in it's evil brain!! I was terriffied!!!!!!
'Rrrrrrrrrraaaaauuuuuugrhhhhhgrhrghrghr! LEAVE MISS BILLIE ALONE!!!!' It was Professor Martin Grant!!! He had come to my rescue!!! He was crouched before the robot snake, the fur on his back bristling, ready to spring!!!
'Yeah, you tell him, Martin!' I shouted, and punched the air.
The robot snake looked at the growling bear for a minute, then, with a noise like grinding servomotors, opened it's mouth really wide. Professor Grant looked uncertain, and stopped growling.
There was a silvery blur, lightning fast.
Professor Martin Grant was gone, and there was a big, bear-shaped bulge in the robot snake's belly!
'NO!' I shouted, and clenched my fists and started to cry. I was bound to be next in the snake's tummy!
But the snake's eyes flashed a queasy green. It wobbled slightly, gulped, and slunk off into the ferns. I collapsed onto the grass, sobbing. Why did my creature friends keep dying? How was I going to get back to my own time now, without the temporal powers of my kodiak bear friend? Ohhh!!!! I cried my little eyes out.
As I was sobbing and wailing, I felt a gentle touch on my knee. I looked up, and blinked my tears away. There on the grass, its heard cocked to one side in sympathy, was a little robot dog! It looked like an Aibo - one of the many robot pets that I had seen on my Japanese tour - but it was very old, dented and rusty. It looked about a thousand years old!
'Hello, little fellow!' I said. 'What's your name?'
'I don't have a name,' said the robot pup sadly, in a whispery voice like milk bottle tops.
'No? Well, I will call you Milo!' The little metal creature wagged it's aerial tail. 'Now, Milo, can you tell me what is going on in this place? Why are all the people so sad, and why don't they go in the park? Why was my bear friend, Professor Martin Grant, eaten by a robot snake?'
'It's all because of one bad man,' explained the Aibo. 'Doctor Gavin Miller. You may have seen his face on the big TV screens in the city.'
'Yes!' I said. 'I thought he looked a bit odd.'
'He's worse than odd, he's evil!' cried Milo. 'He rules the world - he's the Prime Minister of Earth! People are sad because they have to live in the horrible metal city and do boring things, and they are not allowed in the parks. Doctor Gavin Miller is the only human allowed in the parks - he spends his time hunting robot creatures for sport!'
'That's awful!' I shouted. I was quite angry now. 'Why doesn't someone stop him?'
'Because of his robot snakes! If anyone does anything that Doctor Miller doesn't want to do, they get constricted by his snakes, or poisoned with poisonous licking tongues, or just eaten whole, like your big hairy friend! People are too scared to stand up to him!'
'Right, well, is that so? Doctor Gavin Miller didn't reckon with Billie Piper in his wicked schemes!' I drew myself up to my full height. 'Where might I find this evil dictator?'
'He - he's over there!' stuttered Milo - the poor mite was shaking and pointing with his rusty paw. I looked round. Behind me stood the man I had seen on the big screens. He wore a stupid hat and held a golden robot viper which he was stroking in an unsettling way. Slithering around beside him were lots of horrible robot snakes - all sorts, from rattlesnakes and cobras to pythons and boa constrictors! A little camera robot was floating in front of him - it must have been broadcasting the scene to the TVs in the city. I was going to be made an example of!
'Well, it seems we have an intruder. To be honest, I can't think of anything ruder,' boomed Doctor Miller, looking smug.
'Why is he talking in rhyme?' I hissed to Milo.
'I don't know, he always does it!' replied the ancient hound.
'I'm just trying to enjoy nature - not like you, hunting poor defenceless robot creatures!' I yelled.
Doctor Gavin Miller looked cross. 'Robots creatures, big or small - I have gotta catch 'em all!' he shouted, putting his hands on his hips. 'I'm t he man who runs this world. My robot snakes - destroy this girl!'
Aiiiieee!!! All the Doctor's snakes REARED UP and started hissing. I was done for! Little Milo shivered and hid behind my leg. I had to think of something, I had to save the creatures, and myself! Then I had an idea ... Milo had said that Doctor Miller always talked in rhyme ... if that was how he controlled his snakes ...
'Let me clear my throat!' I bellowed, and tried to look brave. Doctor Gavin Miller looked a bit surprised. The robot snakes seemed hesitant - they weren't used to being stood up to. I thought quickly, then said 'Robot snakes, stop your attack, your leader's rhymes are LAME AND WACK!'
Hearing this, Doctor Miller looked very cross. The robot snakes exchanged glances, confused. Maybe it was working! I tried another rhyme, quickly, before Doctor Miller could respond: 'My name's Billie, and I am tops! I've got more flavour than Coco got Pops! I'm the fresh new leader for all the snakes, and I'll turn the Doc's party into a wake!'
I was quietly pleased with that one. The robot snakes seemed to be snickering at Doctor Miller, who was going red with rage.
'Listen, snakes, I am your boss! This upstart girl has made me very very cross!' he spluttered, but it didn't really sound right.
Then little Milo scurried out and started making rap beats with his synthesizer chips! They were very good, he used that barking noise, like Thomas Dolby might have done, and a sound like breaking glass! Milo danced a little jig - he seemd quite spritely, despite his age - and I joined in. I rapped along to his beat.
'Yayy! I'm Billie, and I'm the best, I'll beat you in this rhyming test, I've got the beats, I've got the moves, Milo's ruff and I'm honey-smooth!'
I could tell I was winning now, the snakes were on my side, dancing along with me! Two robot pythons were body popping, a robot cobra was moonwalking backwards, and several little vipers had tangled together and were doing the windmill!
Doctor Miller was apoplectic! 'Grrr! Curse you, young Miss Billie! You've made my robot snakes look silly!' he said, shaking his fist.
'Ha! I win, and I win hands down,' I retorted, quick as a flash. 'You're a sucker MC, you sad-faced clown!'
'Wha...! You....! Gahh...!' stuttered Doctor Gavin Miller. And he ran off into the trees.
'Grrr! Curse you, young Miss Billie! You've made my robot snakes look silly!'
'OK, snakes, my first mission for you is to chase that man to Timbuktu!!!' I ordered, smiling, and the robot snakes were off, quick as a flash, to hound the wicked Doctor to where he could do no harm.
Hooray!!! I had won!!! I grabbed the floating robot camera, and made my first broadcast to the world I now ruled.
'Hello, I am Billie Piper, and I am the new Prime Minister of Earth!' I said. I figured I could stop rhyming now that I wasn't talking to the snakes. 'Er...' I wasn't sure what to say next. What did Prime Ministers do? I just wanted the people to be happy, and to get on with their lives, really. 'OK. I know, ' I said. 'I declare all the parks open to everybody! BE H-A-P-P-Y!'
An enormous cheer sprang up from the city. Within seconds, people were rushing into the park with happy, smiling faces! They started to play with all the robot creatures, who no longer had to live in fear from Doctor Gavin Miller and his robot snakes. HOORAY!!! People and robot creatures, living in harmony! My work here was done.
'W-well done, Miss Billie...' came a weak voice from down by my feet. It was Milo! The poor thing was slumped on the floor, his eye panel was very faint and smoke was coming out of his joints! OH NO!!!
'Oh, Milo, what's wrong?' I said, bending down and stroking his metal head.
'My ... servo-motors ... worn out ... goodbye, Miss Billie ...' And with that, his eyes went out. All those hip hop beats must have worn him out!!! And I never knew if he was a boy or girl!!! (Not that it matters)
'Oh, Milo! And Professor Grant! What am I to do?' All around me, the people were laughing and playing, which was fine, I guess, but I was stuck in the year 3000, with no friends and no way to get back!!!
Just then, a robot python approached! I jumped up, startled, but then relaxed when I remembered that we were friends now. Then I noticed a bear-shaped bulge in the python's middle - Professor Grant! The snake made a whirring, coughing sound, and COUGHED the ursine academic onto the grass. He must have been too hairy for the snake's robot stomach!
Professor Grant looked in a very bad way, he was very pale, and his breathing was very shallow. His great shaggy bear head was coated in silvery robot snake spit, and he raised it to address me. 'Miss Billie!' he croaked from his ruined maw. It was a terrible sight, and I grabbed a rock to put him out of his misery. As I hefted the rock above my head, he spoke again 'Miss Billie!'
'What?' I retorted, maybe sounding a bit irritated.
'I can... I can... get you back to 1999. Must get... you...'
'Oh yes.' I put the rock down sheepishly.
'Dying. Last breath. Grab on.'
I hugged the dying bear for the last time (and I got all covered in robot snake spit - eurgh!). I was very sad, and couldn.'t help but sniffle a bit. I loved darling Professor Martin Grant soooo much, he was like an uncle. Sniff!!!
Everything went funny again, with time and everything going haywire! Whoooooaaahhhh!! Thump!
I was in the dark again, with 800lbs of dead spitty bear pressing uncomfortably against me. Where was I? Had the Professor succeeded in getting me back to nowadays? Or was I stuck in some far-off time, like Romans or something? I heard a sound...
'Yeah, she just left to go to the park or something. I don' t know...' - it was Richie! He was talking to someone. I turned the light on, and I was in my under-the-stairs cupboard!! In my house, nowadays, in an undisclosed location. Richie continued speaking on the phone. 'Yeah. Come round. We'll eat all the Coco Pops... yeah, get J and Abs to come too.'
I was home!!! Yay!!! And not a moment too soon - it sounded like Richie was inviting 5ive to come round and eat all my Coco Pops! The cheek!! I practiced some angry faces for a moment, before getting ready to jump out and surprise him, the naughty, blonde, make-up wearing so-and-so. But it was too late!!! The bear corpse was too heavy, and I fell tumbling out of the cupboard onto the floor! YIKES!!!
I hit the floor with a THUMP!!! The carcass slumped to the floor, pinning me down with it's arm. Richie looked around shocked, and slammed the phone down. 'Billie!' he yelled, 'Wha....?'
'I think we'd better have a chat Richie.' I said angrily. 'But first, could you pull this dead bear's arm off me?'
* * * * *
Professor Grant's funeral took place on a freezing day at Highgate Cemetery. I stood with Ms Szasz in the pouring rain while the priest completed his short speech. It was a humbling experience - Professor Grant had never been popular, and there were only ourselves in attendance. I stood in quiet contemplation, remembering the adventures I had had with the Professor.
'...a very special creature indeed,' concluded the priest. His words came secretively through the constant rain, and the coffin was on the point of being lowered into the ground. Ms Szasz put her arm around me supportively. The pallbearers stood at the graveside; one carried a wreath that he obviously had forgotten to drop on to the coffin, for his companion nudged his elbow so that he came to with a start and dropped the flowers. Honeysuckle - how appropriate, I thought to myself.
As the priest pronounced the last rites - those meaningless closing parentheses on our mortality, I noticed a disturbance behind the grave of Karl Marx (crazy old politician fellow from the olden days, trivia fans!). Peeping around the side of his head was a little brown bear!!! He looked at me all shyly, and I noticed lots more pairs of bear eyes peeking from behind mausoleums, bushes and trees! Professor Grant's friends and family had come to his funeral after all! A grizzly bear stood a little way away with his paws over his face, and I, his final friend, wept.
After Professor Grant died of being eaten by a snake, and little robot Milo sacrificed himself for the rhythm, I had a bit of a think about death and that. It occurred to me that maybe my failure to get my monkeys back (remember them?!!!) was fate, and I shouldn't try to change what has been and gone. Maybe life is like that - pretty weird when you think about it. I don't know. Do you?
Hey, guess what? I've been experimenting with different hair colours lately! I'm blonde at the moment, but don't ask me what colour it will be next week!!!! Because I've not decided!!! As long as collars and cuffs match, eh??!!!
Meantime - have a smashing Xmas and a top-notch Millennium New Year's Eve folks!!! And thanx sooooo much for all your emails and messages and funny stories - I luv them all and I luv all of you!!!
P.S. Check back in the New Year, when I'll be having a guest come to stay!!! That's right - Busta Rhymes is coming to stay in the spare room. Hope Richie doesn't mind - I've not got round to telling him yet!!!
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Billie appears courtesy of Breakin' Records.