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Chapter Fourteen

As the Guide folded itself back into a smooth, dark disk, Ford realised some pretty hectic stuff. Or at least he tried to realise it, but it was too hectic to take in all in one go. His head was hammering, his ankle was hurting, and though he didn't like to be a wimp about his ankle, he always found that intense multidimensional logic was something he understood best in the bath. He needed time to think about this. Time, a tall drink, and some kind of rich, foamy oil.

He had to get out of here. He had to get the Guide out of here. He didn't think they'd make it together.

He glanced wildly round the room.

Think, think, think. It had to be something simple and obvious. If he was right in his nasty lurking suspicion that he was dealing with nasty, lurking Vogons, then the more simple and obvious the better.

Suddenly he saw what he needed.

He wouldn't try to beat the system, he would just use it. The frightening thing about the Vogons was their absolute mindless determination to do whatever mindless thing it was they were determined to do. There was never any point in trying to appeal to their reason because they didn't have any. However, if you kept your nerve you could sometimes exploit their blinkered, bludgeoning insistence on being bludgeoning and blinkered. It wasn't merely that their left hand didn't always know what their right hand was doing, so to speak; quite often their right hand had a pretty hazy notion as well.

Did he dare just post the thing to himself?

Did he dare just put it in the system and let the Vogons work out how to get the thing to him while at the same time they were busy, as they probably would be, tearing the building apart to find out where he'd hidden it?

Yes.

Feverishly, he packed it. He wrapped it. He labelled it. With a moment's pause to wonder if he was really doing the right thing, he committed the package to the building's internal mail chute.

`Colin,' he said, turning to the little, hovering ball. `I am going to abandon you to your fate.'

`I'm so happy,' said Colin.

`Make the most of it,' said Ford. `Because what I want you to do is to nursemaid that package out of the building. They'll probably incinerate you when they find you, and I won't be here to help. It will be very, very nasty for you, and that's just too bad. Got it?'

`I gurgle with pleasure,' said Colin.

`Go!' said Ford.

Colin obediently dived down the mail chute in pursuit of his charge. Now Ford had only himself to worry about, but that was still quite a substantial worry. There were noises of heavy running footsteps outside the door, which he had taken the precaution of locking and shifting a large filing cabinet in front of.

He was worried that everything had gone so smoothly. Everything had fitted terribly well. He had hurtled through the day with reckless abandon and yet everything had worked out with uncanny neatness. Except for his shoe. He was bitter about his shoe. That was an account that was going to have to be settled.

With a deafening roar the door exploded inwards. In the turmoil of smoke and dust he could see large, slug-like creatures hurrying through.

So everything was going well was it? Everything was working out as if the most extraordinary luck was on his side? Well, he'd see about that.

In a spirit of scientific enquiry he hurled himself out of the window again.


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