The Adventures of Arabella Henderson, UNE Time Detective - Episode 3: A Waste of Time

It was a typical Monday morning at the New England University College. Birds were chirping, bees were buzzing, students were sitting quietly in the chemistry lab and the narrator was recapping the events of the previous episode.

When we left them, Arabella Henderson, UNE Time Detective, and her colleague, The General, were attempting to ascertain what criminal element had been causing stains on the beautiful yellow lockers and bench tops of the Chemistry Department. Their success in this, their first time-travelling mystery, would save oppressed chemistry students thousands of pounds (because, if you recall, all this is happening in 1950, before sensible money).

A young man with totes fashionable horn-rimmed glasses had just attracted the detectives’ attention. He had discovered a Clue and was anxious to contribute it to the investigation.

‘Now that we’re all reacquainted with the story,’ said Hornrims, ‘Come and look at this Clue.’

Borrowing The General’s giant pocket magnifying glass, Arabella hauled it over to the window to look. Sure enough, there was a Clue there. With the help of twelve students to hold up the magnifying glass, Arabella examined the Clue.

‘This is a fascinating Clue,’ she said. ‘It blows this whole Locker Stain mystery wide open! Come and see, The General.’

The General joined her by the window and looked carefully at the Clue. ‘I have never seen such a convenient clue,’ he said. ‘It’s almost as if it were placed here for narrative convenience.’

‘Indeed,’ Arabella agreed.

‘But what does it mean?’ asked Professor Hardnose.

‘It means,’ The General announced, ‘That the Butler did it.’

‘How dare you!?’ Mr Butler shouted, at a volume somewhat out of proportion with the magnitude of the accusation. ‘I’ll have you know that I am a war veteran, Sir.’

‘It’s true,’ said Hardnose. ‘Mr Butler won a VC, you know.’

‘The real Mr Butler may well be a war hero,’ said Arabella. ‘But this isn’t really Mr Butler at all!’

She pulled off the lab assistant’s latex mask, revealing his true identity. There was a gasp from the assembled students.

‘The zombie who lives at the abandoned amusement park!’ exclaimed Hornrims.

‘Nooooooo!’ screamed the zombie. ‘And I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.’

‘I am shocked!’ Hardnose declared, ‘I am shocked indeed that my own lab assistant would turn out to be a zombie who deliberately makes mess in my attractive yellow laboratory. I’ll decimate you for this, Butler!’

The zombie Butler raised a tentative hand ‘Do you mean that you will completely destroy me?’ he asked.

‘Or merely that you will have ninety-percent of me execute the remaining ten percent?’

‘Um…’ said Professor Hardnose. ‘I have no idea.’

‘How can a person execute ten percent of themselves?’ asked Hornrims.

‘They could chop off a limb?’ suggested a young woman in one of those polka-dotted dresses with a wide skirt. She looked amazing in it, and the style is actually back in fashion now, so it definitely wouldn’t have looked out of place in a modern night club. In fact, 50s fashion as a whole is kind of coming back. They did some fabulous things with hair.

Distracted by fashion, the author temporarily forgot what was happening in the story, but fortunately Hornrims didn’t like polka dots and he retained his focus.

‘A limb is probably more than ten percent,’ said Hornrims. ‘We’d need to measure the entire mass of this zombie lab assistant and then keep removing and weighing parts until he was decimated.’

‘What zombie lab assistant?’ asked Professor Hardnose. ‘He’s gone.’

Sure enough, the imposter Butler has absquatulated.

‘We should go dig for that body,’ Arabella whispered to The General. ‘We’ve already had over an episode and a half and we came here on a mission.’

‘You go ahead,’ The General agreed. ‘I’ll carry the Time Bike.’

Leaving Professor Hardnose and his students to argue over who had allowed the zombie to escape, why he had been staining benches in the first place and whether or not polka dots are super cute, Arabella and The General sought out the future site of the new college.

‘This looks about right,’ said The General.

Arabella agreed. ‘Let’s start digging.’

‘We don’t have a spade.’

And so it was that Arabella Henderson and The General climbed back aboard their time travelling exercise bike to go back to the future and pick up some spades, thus wasting two entire episodes of their serial on total nonsense.

To be continued…

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