Introducing Chapter CCCXCVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “I am not sure whether to thank a reader named Phoebe for suggesting that Constable Chumley inadvertently speaks the correct incantation for activating the awesome magical powers of this lantern that I paid good money for. It was supposed to ensure my winning of the Pulitzer Prize! But because Chumley spoke it in the context of the novel, and I wrote it down, it has taken effect in the context of the novel (!) instead of in my living room. Which means I’m now writing things I never had any intention to write!”
We find this difficult to understand.
Thanks to the constable, Scurveyshire has now been overrun by indescribable monstrous creatures emerging from under the vicar’s backyard wading pool. They wander the streets by night, piercing the silence with hideous whistling, insane piping, and thunderous roars.Those who’ve actually seen them have all gone raving mad. Ordinary life has come to a standstill.
“I could have warned you this would happen,” intones Ronno the Not At All Merry Minstrel, currently confined in gaol along with the Wise Woman of the Scurveyshire gaol. Ronno was arrested by the constable for getting off the train from Siberia. It seems there was a local ordinance against it, enacted in 1675.
“Well, then what do we do to make it stop?” cries Lord Jeremy Coldsore, who is being blamed for the whole thing.
“We need to establish a profitable cod fishery,” says Ronno.
“Pshaw!” snorts Lord Jeremy. “We’re 150 miles inland–how are we supposed to fish for cod?”
Ronno admits he doesn’t know. As the morale officer of a Siberian prison, the matter of a cod fishery never came up.
Meanwhile, readers have complained that Ms. Crepuscular has not kept her promise to provide nonstop action and well-nigh unbearable suspense in this particular chapter. I am not in a position to help her: my cats are misbehaving.
And the magical lantern’s batteries have conked out, on top of all that.