Dear Auntie Ora,

I've always had this strange feeling that something in this world wasn't quite right - like there was something big happening and I wasn't invited. What's really going on?


Sibyl peered at the man over the rim of her spectacles.

"That's just common or garden paranoia, Mister...?"

"It's probably better if we avoid names," he said.

"As you wish." Surreptitiously, Sibyl activated a silent alarm under her desk. "Let me make it quite clear that there is no such global conspiracy as you speak of. If there were, I would be cognisant of it, you can be sure of that."

"Can't be sure of anything," muttered the visitor, continuing to look over his shoulder at intervals.

"We can be sure this consultation is at an end," said Sibyl severely. "There will be no charge. Good day to you."

She spoke in a manner that brooked no contradiction. Crestfallen, the visitor rose, shook the stiffly extended hand, crossed the office and opened the door to the corridor. Outside, two gorillas in double-breasted suits were waiting for him.

"This is the guy, Eddie."

"Yeah."

"The boss wants to see you, fellah."

"Yeah."

"Shuddup, Eddie."

"Yeah."

"The, the boss?" stammered the visitor.

"FLQC," said the first gorilla. "Don't pretend you don't know nothing, you know? Auntie Ora here thinks otherwise. Auntie Ora is always right. She knows her 'Three Sisters' from her 'Brothers Karamazov', you know what I'm saying?"

"No."

"Yeah."

"I said shuddup, Eddie."

"Yeah, okay."

Two heavy hands descended on the visitor's shoulders.

-oOo-

Hours later.

Bound, blindfolded, still bruised and bleeding from the beating administered by the gorillas as they endeavoured to extract information from him, the visitor was taken to a large hall, where his blindfold was removed. This was of little help, as the room was in almost complete darkness.

From his position, slumped in the centre of the floor, the visitor could just make out a large semicircular table stretching out to either side of him. It was draped with a heavy cloth bearing what appeared to be cabalistic symbols. Shadowy figures could just be made out, studying him from across the table. A shadow more or less directly ahead of him broke the silence.

"So, Mister... Kinzler. You continue to deny you know anything about the Queue Continuum, despite the ministrations of our two experts on Russian literature."

The visitor's swollen jaw made speaking difficult. "Don' know... what you're... talkin' 'bout."

"And yet when you visited our dear sister you said, and I quote, there's 'something big happening and I wasn't invited'. If not our little group, what were you referring to, Mister Kinzler? Perhaps the Illuminati or some such paranoid fable?" He chuckled patronisingly.

"Tha's right... Like your sis... Auntie Ora said... Paranoy'..."

There was a brief silence. Then another shadow spoke.

"Shall we erase him, Fearless Leader?"

"Probably unnecessary," said the first shadow. "He might be telling the truth - it may just be your bog-standard paranoia. Let's give him a mild brainwashing. Make him believe - oh, I don't know - that he's protected by some divine being that knows everything and can solve his every problem, or some such rot. Something inane and embarrassing, anyway. That should shut him up for a while. Dismissed!"

The gorillas grabbed the visitor and started hustling him out of the
room.

"Any other business?" asked the first shadow.

A woman's voice: "Baron Von MIME requests permission to report on the progress of his plan for turning Norway into a theme park."

"Oh god, we'll be here all night."

The door closed, cutting off any further sound from the clandestine gathering.