The novelist had a headache.
If it wasn’t bad enough to be stuck in a grotty little tea shop with a sock monkey and an inexplicable face shouting from the back wall, the sock monkey claimed to be the Scriptwriter, and the inexplicable face didn’t seem to have an interest in making sense.
The novelist looked around with a dawning sense of unease.
‘Er, I say,’ he said, hoping he wasn’t being redundant, ‘but what am I doing here?’
‘Well, I don’t know,’ said the sock monkey. ‘You just blundered in and said you wanted to buy a box of tea.’
‘Yes, I know that,’ said the novelist. ‘I didn’t mean here, I meant here. This doesn’t seem like quite the right place, does it?’
‘Rift of crustaceans, terrible and faint!’ bawled the face. ‘Thunderous in thy poppycock, subtlety out of weaving!’
The novelist peered upward. ‘I thought so! I’m not supposed to be here, and you aren’t either!’
‘Well,’ said the sock monkey, chewing on his paw, ‘I can’t say you make for particularly encouraging conversation. What kind of tea did you want anyway?’
‘See there!’ the novelist shouted. ‘That sign, there! This is where a Friday Diary should be!’
The sock monkey twisted his head round. That is, he grabbed himself by both ears, and wrenched them from side to side. ‘That explains nothing! We’re still in this story line, whatever day of the week it is!’
‘But we’re on the wrong schedule.’ The novelist glared at the sock monkey. ‘That’s you’re fault. You are the Scriptwriter, after all.’
The face on the wall cleared it throat. ‘Welladay!’ it roared. ‘Considerations of cloudy my bartholemies! Subterranian, and the ghoul of regicide leering upwards, a steady dissertation!’
The sock monkey twisted his head back. ‘Look — sorry about this — just a moment.’ He swung along the rafters to the back wall, kicked the face between the eyes.
‘Foul!’ the face bellowed. ‘Pugnacious order of hose!’
‘Right, tra-laa!’ The sock monkey tweaked the face’s bibulous nose. The face sighed gently, and vanished with an annoying splot.
The sock monkey grimaced. ‘Sorry about that, really.’ He swung back, landing on the counter. ‘He means well, it’s just that he’s a poet. So things come out rather–thoughtfully.’
‘Ah?’ The novelist stared at the now empty wall. ‘Is that what it was?’
‘Look,’ said the sock monkey. ‘I don’t know anything about it being a Friday or a Diary. Accoring to my diary, this should be a Pillsday. And you’d better hope it is because half of everything it half off here on Pillsday. And we’re not open on Fridays.’
‘Pillsday?” The novelist hoisted himself onto the counter, peered over the edge at the neatly arranged triangles of paper the sock monkey was looking at. ‘What sort of diary is that?’
‘Oh, I don’t know,’ the sock monkey snapped. ‘Just make up your mind what day it is.’
‘Hmm.’ The novelist tapped his nose, winked. ‘I remember Friday Diaries. A friend of mine had the bad habit of writing them. Full of irrelevant news about the news, I think they were. This isn’t one. So — either this isn’t Friday, or I’m simply not here.’
The sock monkey scowled. ‘I know which I’d prefer.’ He grinned with sudden viciousness. ‘Thank goodness it’s Friday!’ He seized the novelist’s nose, and wrenched it.
‘Here, what!’ the novelist shouted. But his voice fell like a dozen eggs on ice. The shop was gone. The monkey was gone. The novelist was swirling through empty space, dragged helter-skelter through nowhere, heading rapidly towards nothing.
The novelist decided he was not having a good Friday.