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Chapter Thirty-nine

Arthur Dent was irritated to be continually wakened by the sound of gunfire.

Being careful not to wake Fenchurch, who was still managing to sleep fitfully, he slid his way out of the maintenance hatchway which they had fashioned into a kind of bunk for themselves, slung himself down the access ladder and prowled the corridors moodily.

They were claustrophobic and ill-lit. The lighting circuits buzzed annoyingly.

This wasn't it, though.

He paused and leaned backwards as a flying power drill flew past him down the dim corridor with a nasty screech, occasionally clanging against the walls like a confused bee as it did so.

That wasn't it either.

He clambered through a bulkhead door and found himself in a larger corridor. Acrid smoke was drifting up from one end so he walked towards the other.

He came to an observation monitor let into the wall behind a plate of toughened but still badly scratched perspex.

``Would you turn it down please?'' he said to Ford Prefect who was crouching in front of it in the middle of a pile of bits of video equipment he'd taken from a shop window in Tottenham Court Road, having first hurled a small brick through it, and also a nasty heap of empty beer cans.

``Shhhh!'' hissed Ford, and peered with manic concentration at the screen. He was watching The Magnificent Seven.

``Just a bit,'' said Arthur.

``No!'' shouted Ford. ``We're just getting to the good bit! Listen, I finally got it all sorted out, voltage levels, line conversion, everything, and this is the good bit!''

With a sigh and a headache, Arthur sat down beside him and watched the good bit. He listened to Ford's whoops and yells and ``yeehay!''s as placidly as he could.

``Ford,'' he said eventually, when it was all over, and Ford was hunting through a stack of cassettes for the tape of Casablanca, ``how come, if ...''

``This is the big one,'' said Ford. ``This is the one I came back for. Do you realize I never saw it all through? Always I missed the end. I saw half of it again the night before the Vogons came. When they blew the place up I thought I'd never get to see it. Hey, what happened with all that anyway?''

``Just life,'' said Arthur, and plucked a beer from a six-pack.

``Oh, that again,'' said Ford. ``I thought it might be something like that. I prefer this stuff,'' he said as Rick's Bar flickered on to the screen. ``How come if what?''

``What?''

``You started to say, `how come if ...'''

``How come if you're so rude about the Earth, that you ... oh never mind, let's just watch the movie.''

``Exactly,'' said Ford.


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