Read The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Online

Authors: Douglas Adams

Tags: #Retail, #Personal, #004 Top 100 Sci-Fi

The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (111 page)

BOOK: The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
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“I don’t care! I don’t want to hear about your bloody
job!”
shouted Random. “I want a home! I want to fit somewhere!”

“This is not your home,” said Trillian, still keeping her voice calm. “You don’t have one. None of us have one. Hardly anybody has one anymore. The missing ship I was just talking about. The people of that ship don’t have a home. They don’t know where they are from. They don’t even have any memory of who they are or what they are for. They are very lost and very confused and very frightened. They are here in this solar system, and they are about to do something very … misguided because they are so lost and confused. We … must … leave … now. I can’t tell you where there is to go to. Perhaps there isn’t anywhere. But here is not the place to be. Please. One more time. Can we go?”

Random was wavering in panic and confusion.

“It’s all right,” said Arthur, gently. “If I’m here, we’re safe. Don’t ask me to explain just now, but I am safe, so you are safe. Okay?”

“What are you saying?” said Trillian.

“Let’s all just relax,” said Arthur. He was feeling very tranquil. His life was charmed and none of this seemed real.

Slowly, gradually, Random began to relax, and to let the gun down, inch by inch.

Two things happened simultaneously.

The door to the men’s room at the top of the stairs opened, and the man who had accosted Arthur came out, sniffing.

Startled at the sudden movement, Random lifted the gun again just as a man standing behind her made a grab for it.

Arthur threw himself forward. There was a deafening explosion. He fell awkwardly as Trillian threw herself down over him. The noise died away. Arthur looked up to see the man at the top of the stairs gazing down at him with a look of utter stupefaction.

“You …” he said. Then slowly, horribly, he fell apart.

Random threw the gun down and fell to her knees, sobbing. “I’m sorry!” she said. “I’m so sorry! I’m so, so sorry …”

Tricia went to her. Trillian went to her.

Arthur sat on the stairs with his head between his hands and had not the faintest idea what to do. Ford was sitting on the stair beneath him. He picked something up, looked at it with interest and passed it up to Arthur.

“This mean anything to you?” he said.

Arthur took it. It was the book of matches that the dead man had dropped. It had the name of the club on it. It had the name of the proprietor of the club on it. It looked like this:

STAVRO MUELLER

BETA

He stared at it for some time as things began slowly to reassemble themselves in his mind. He wondered what he should do, but he only wondered it idly. Around him people were beginning to rush and shout a lot, but it was suddenly very clear to him that there was nothing to be done, not now or ever. Through the new strangeness of noise and light he could just make out the shape of Ford Prefect sitting back and laughing wildly.

A tremendous feeling of peace came over him. He knew that at last, for once and forever, it was now all, finally, over.

In the darkness of the bridge at the heart of the Vogon ship, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz sat alone. Lights flared briefly across the external vision screens that lined one wall. In the air above him the discontinuities in the blue and green watery sausage shape resolved themselves.
Options collapsed, possibilities folded into each other, and the whole at last resolved itself out of existence.

A very deep darkness descended. The Vogon Captain sat immersed in it for a few seconds.

“Light,” he said.

There was no response. The bird, too, had crumpled out of all possibility.

The Vogon turned on the light himself. He picked up the piece of paper again and placed a little tick in the little box.

Well, that was done. His ship slunk off into the inky void.

In spite of having taken what he regarded as an extremely positive piece of action, the Grebulon leader ended up having a very bad month after all. It was pretty much the same as all the previous months except that there was now nothing on the television anymore. He put on a little light music instead.

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