The Tale of Spam City, p.1M T McGuire
The Tale of Spam City
A short story by
M T McGuire
Published by Hamgee University Press www.hamgee.co.uk
© M T McGuire, June 2010
Latest edition, April 2015
The right of M T McGuire to be identified as the author of this Work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
The Tale of Spam City is written in British English
I would say the UK film rating of this book is: U (universal) or G (general)
ISBN no: 9781452339399
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The Tale of Spam City
Griselda, the Spam Eating Wench of Noop, has never clapped eyes on a can of spam; let alone eaten any. If the situation becomes public knowledge her family faces social disgrace. But the world tinned-meat by product crisis is deepening and spam is thin on the ground. Only Griselda can save her family from ruin but can she find some spam before the truth gets out?
The Tale of Spam City
Who is M T McGuire?
M T McGuire’s full length novels: The K'Barthan Series
The Tale of Spam City
Griselda, the Spam Eating Wench of Noop was the most bad-tempered witch imaginable; a difficult situation for any teenager. Her bile stemmed from the fact that, while Noop is the most civilised of nations, some things are unobtainable there, spam, for example.
In Noop people have certain expectations of a distinguished family and Griselda’s family was about as distinguished as it gets. In the case of the Spam Eaters, the highest and most high pressure of those expectations was to be able to eat spam. But the Spam Eaters had run out of spam. Indeed, they’d been eating luncheon meat, instead, for some time now but their supplies of, even this, were dwindling. Somehow, somewhere, the news had leaked out.
If the Spam Eaters’ inability to obey the calling laid down by their name was ever confirmed it would cast a severe slur on the family honour. The last Spam Eater to actually eat spam had been Griselda’s grandfather who had concocted a potion which allowed him to travel to a parallel universe where it is less uncommon. Finding himself in what his diaries described as ‘a palace of orange where bored operators sit at machines by the door which go “de-beep-beep”.’ He purchased every tin they had and triumphantly bore it home. The trouble was, it had been a Saturday night and there had only been 17 tins. Worse, being a selfish old cove, he had scoffed the lot.
As you can imagine, it is difficult to be a spam-eating wench if you have never even clapped eyes on a can of span, let alone, eaten any. Now that the Eater’s supplies of luncheon meat were running low, it was up to Griselda to save the family honour. Rumours were spreading, people were beginning to talk and she was fed up with them taking the Mickey out of her.
She was going to be a real Spam Eater or die in the attempt. She sucked her pencil thoughtfully and tried to concentrate on the matter in hand. The lesser-spotted slugwort on the kitchen counter top looked up at her impassively. It was a singularly unappealing creature at the best of times and this wasn’t the best of times. She returned its gaze with equal blankness. Disgusting thing! Her attempts to eat real spam probably were going to kill her. Never mind, it wasn’t as if she had an alternative – the world tinned meat by-product crisis was deepening and unless she could find some spam, fast, ignominy loomed large for her and her kin. She had to do something. The last tin of re-molded pork offal mocked her from its shelf in the empty larder. It wasn’t real spam and the key was missing, it would take a pickaxe and several hours of concentrated effort to get into it.
Griselda sighed. According to her grandfather’s diary and the ancient volume she was reading, space and time were constructed like the pages of a book. There were hundreds of parallel universes and if you could find a way of jumping from your page to any of the others the possibilities would be boundless. There was a recipe, too, for a potion her grandfather had successfully used to move from one version of reality to another. It only worked on Saturdays when there was full-moon and a z in the month – about once every 75 years then, on the 25th of Zoog – or tonight as it happened.
Grandfather’s recipe wasn’t appealing, at all but then, Griselda supposed, you couldn’t have everything.
“I’m sorry about this,” she told the lesser-spotted slugwort on the Formica work surface in front of her. Then she shut her eyes, hit it over the head with a hammer and scooping the resultant mush into her hand she dropped it into the boiling cauldron with a plop. Currently, the concoction in the pot didn’t lend itself to eating so she added some oregano and a bay leaf to make it a bit more palatable. After a few minutes she sniffed it.
Nope. It still didn’t lend itself to eating. Then again, if her Grandfather’s diary was to be believed neither did spam.
No matter, her family’s reputation was at stake. If the Self Disembowelers of Greep could live up to their name, then Griselda could find some spam. If there were hundreds of parallel universes, it had to be plentiful in some of them and both her distinguished forebear and the author of the book were agreed that this potion was the only way to reach it.
Griselda cast her mind back to the events of the previous night. She had gone to the Halloween Club: a club so trendy it was almost painful. As she sat at the bar sipping a cool drink, sucking her cheekbones and stomach in, and wearing a VERY serious expression (cool people are never funny) she realised that three wizards nearby were speculating derisively, in loud voices, as to when she had last been able to live up to her surname.
“I heard that,” she told them.
“You were meant to,” jeered the bravest one.
“I don’t like your tone, sunshine,” said Griselda and a heated argument ensued. At one point the shouting got so loud that the DJ stopped the music so everyone could listen.
Noop is a small community and there were plenty of others present who shared the wizards’ suspicions. As they watched the row unfold the other cool people in the Halloween Club began to laugh (cool people are allowed to laugh when it’s at others who are not quite so cool). Griselda heard the laughing and got crosser and crosser and of course, the angrier she became the more ridiculous she appeared, and naturally, the more ridiculous she appeared, the more everybody guffawed.
“Right! I’ll show you, you slime bags!” she shouted turning even greener than she already was with anger and embarrassment. “I’ll show you I can eat spam any time I please! I’ll eat some here, tomorrow night, in front of you! Then we’ll see who’s the hippest dude in this rotten hole!”
“If you can do that,” said the Mayor of Noop, who just happened to be in the Halloween Club letting his hair down that night, “I’ll eat my hat.”
Griselda regarded the outsized, ornate, feathery object on his head with an expression of measured calm.
“I’ll look forward to that,” she said and pausing only to turn the three wizards who had started the furore into slabs of edam cheese, she disappeared in a cloud of disgruntled violet smoke.
She was startled from her reminiscences by the sound of the pinger and the h
Carefully, so as not to spill any, Griselda transferred her potion to a selection of bottles and a large cup. Having secreted the bottles handily about her person she took a sniff at the contents of the cup. It reeked. She ladled some sugar into it with no discernable result. It still reeked. When she tried some she made a mental note that she must write a paper to the effect that a spoonful of sugar did NOT make the medicine go down. Shutting her eyes and holding her nose she swallowed the rest of it and disappeared in a cloud of yellow steam.
She materialised in the middle of the road on Hyde Park Corner in 1956 causing a bad accident. Hastily zapping herself forward a couple of years (and left a bit) she arrived in 1972 to the surprise of a passing hippy, who put the phenomenon down to a purple refresher somebody had sold him that morning.
“Wow,” he said.
“I’m sorry?” said Griselda. Ah yes, she plugged in her Universal Translator™ and while she fitted the earpiece the hippy wandered out of this story into oblivion in search of a friend with whom he could share his experience.
When she finally looked up, Griselda noticed that the hippy had gone but a large crowd of other folk had gathered round her. Hmm, she supposed her clothes were rather different from those worn by the inhabitants of … whatever reality this happened to be. Perhaps the time had come to run away.
However, before she could turn round a thing in a funny hat came up to her. It was dressed in dark blue coat with silver buttons. It had a little pair of silver bracelets in its hand, which Griselda realised were a bit impractical because they were linked together. The creature gabbled away at her, putting one of the bracelets round her wrist as it did so.
That was when Griselda noticed, for the first time, that unlike her, the inhabitants of this dimension of space and time were all pink, with the occasional darker-coloured one thrown in for a bit of variety. She looked at the green flesh of her wrist, under the metal bracelet.
Her brow puckered into a frown as her gaze returned to the one in the silly hat. It wasn’t just that these things were mostly pink: they were a lot smaller than her, too. Being from Noop, Griselda was tall, about six foot six, built like an Eastern bloc female shot-putter and green skinned. Worse she was dressed in red and green-striped stockings and a dusty black satin dress which did nothing to flatter her shape – unless she wanted to look like a house brick in, or a barrel with a sack draped over it, which case, it did a wonderful job. There was her black pointy hat and her equally pointy black shoes; fairly stereotypical on the witch clothing front but clearly somewhat unusual here.
The thing in the hat tried to put the other bracelet on her other hand. Why on earth?
“Wait a minute! Don’t do that! I won’t be able to move my arms,” she said as the creature – she’d read about them somewhere, a ‘man’ she thought it was called – made another attempt to clap the remaining bracelet on her free wrist.
“That’s right, madam, you’re not meant to. Now you come along to the station with me and there won’t be any trouble.”
“Oh good, I don’t want trouble,” she replied and hoped the silver bangles weren’t some kind of weird marriage ritual. The Man muttered about not being able to understand Welsh or Arabic. Griselda cursed the batteries in her Universal Translator™ loudly and volubly before remembering she hadn’t switched it on. She did so and to her immense relief it started to function.
She was escorted to a large building with a triangular blue sign outside that went round and round. The lettering was not Noopian but with the help of the Universal Translator™ she just had time to work out the word Scotland before she was hustled inside. Her escort took her downstairs and along a lengthy corridor to a small room. The Man removed the bracelet and introduced her to two more humans, both also men, one called Sergeant Bentley and another called Detective Sergeant Stippins. The Stippins one pressed a button on a machine.
“Will you give me your name for the record?” he said and the Universal Translator™ was working perfectly this time.
“We’re making a record?” asked Griselda excitedly. “Cool.”
“No madam,” said Sergeant Bentley, “we need your name; for the tape.”
Ah, not quite so cool. Yeh, Grizelda leaned over to check, they were rubbish quality, those tapes. There’d be way too much hiss.
“I am Griselda the Spam Eating Wench of Noop.”
Both the men eyed her suspiciously.
“I see. What do you do for a living Griselda?”
“I’m a witch.”
“Mmm-hmm. Don’t get funny with me, sonny,” said Detective Sergeant Stippins, “I’ve been in the force 25 years and I’m too old to be taken in by the likes of you.”
Griselda was miffed. In Noop nobody mistook her for a bloke and retained their original colour and shape. She took a deep breath felt the magic power gathering in her fingertips and then remembered that she was in another version of the universe. For the sake of inter-dimensional protocol, perhaps she should give this creature the benefit of the doubt. Yes, just this once.
“I need some spam,” she said, “that’s why I’m here. I’ve only come for that. Then I’ll go home.”
Sergeant Bentley smirked.
“Alright, sonny,” said Detective Sergeant Stippins, and once again, Griselda resisted the temptation to alter his molecular structure. “Let’s try a different approach. What is your occupation?”
“I’m a witch. Doesn’t the outfit give it away?”
There was a loud explosion of nervous laughter from Sergeant Bentley and Griselda decided it was time to leave before any remarks were made about her emerald green complexion. She didn’t want to do anything her hosts might regret. Both men leapt backwards as she stood up abruptly.
“I’m afraid I must go. I do not see how I can find any spam if I have to sit an answer these futile questions. Not only that but you have implied I am not telling the truth. As a member of an old and honourable family I find this insult to my dignity deeply affronting. I hope you are subjected to such impertinence one day, yourselves. Maybe then you’ll realise how rude it is and you won’t do it again.”
She disappeared in the usual cloud of violet smoke, leaving two very bemused policemen behind her.
“Mmm,” said Sergeant Bentley after she had gone.
Detective Sergeant Stippins raised one eyebrow and thoughtfully examined the contents of his teacup.
“Quite,” he said.
Grizelda drank another measure of potion and materialised in 1987 at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, in the oven of a crematorium. Dematerialising pretty swiftly she set her sights for 100 yards to the left, leaving the bereaved relations to ponder as to why purple smoke was billowing forth from behind the discreet curtains and just what it was Aunty Doris had consumed before dying to cause this effect.
Griselda, meanwhile, had crossed the road and found a large super-market. Her heart beat quickly as the automatic doors slid open. The décor was right, brown and orange and yes! There by the exits were rows of bored humans sitting in front of machines that went, ‘de-beep-beep’. Yes. This was the place her grandfather had described. No doubt about it.
Taking a trolley she put a following spell on it and went in search of some spam. The trolley seemed unable to go in a straight line and bashed backwards and forwards behind her, careening crazily from one side of the first aisle to the other.
“Oh no, this will never do,” she muttered.
With some deft magical tweaks she fine tuned the trolly to follow
“That’s better,” she sighed happily.
The sea of shoppers parted before her as she made her way along the aisles but then, a 6ft 6” green woman walking round a supermarket in stripy stockings, a black dress, a pointy hat and pointy shoes with buckles on was conspicuous enough. When you add the fact that her supermarket trolley was following her of its own accord, and that it was GOING IN A STRAIGHT LINE you have something gob-smackingly unusual.
A deep silence fell as she approached the acne-ridden 16 year old stocking the canned meat shelves. She cleared her throat but the spotty youth ignored her. No big surprise – he had shelves to stack and a disinterested demeanour to maintain.
Griselda tapped him on the shoulder but he pretended not to notice so she picked him up by the collar and turned him as far round as she could until he was almost facing her.
“Excuse me, I am sorry to disturb you,” she said apologetically as he hung from the end of her arm. “I would like all the spam you have please.”
“All?” he asked only it came out as more of a strangled gurgle.
“That’s right. All, and … where is it by the way?” More to the point, what was it, Griselda had no idea.
The spotty youth pointed, dumbly to the neatly arrayed cans on his half-stacked shelves and the large pallet of cans he had yet to put out.
“Thank you,” said Griselda zapping the contents of the shelves, en-masse, into her trolley. It was full and the metal legs were beginning to bend. She muttered a strengthening spell for the trolley and a holding spell for the spam before zapping the pallet on top. Remembering not to drop the spotty youth from too great a height, she headed for the checkout.
“That’ll be £100 please,” said the assistant when Griselda had finally found her way to the row of tills. She was stumped for words: a hundred pounds of what? It would be difficult to think of goods to swap which the supermarket didn’t have already.
“Would three wishes do?” she asked hopefully. She doubted they’d fall for that old chestnut but it was worth a try.
The assistant, who had watched three pallet loads of spam skip past the laser scanner on her till, apparently unaided, nodded and then with great presence of mind said.
“When we process cheques here we have to have a cheque card. I’m afraid I’ll have to have a small test wish if that’s alright?”
“OK.” Griselda agreed, trying to pretend she knew what a cheque was.
There was a slight commotion in the queue behind her. It appeared the Supervisor had been called. The assistant wished for another three wishes.
“Wait! You can’t do that! That’s cheating,” said Griselda.
The woman wished for something more obvious and the rapidly approaching supervisor suddenly turned into a slab of edam cheese. Griselda nodded approvingly. The assistant must have Noopian blood, despite her diminutive size and strange colour.
“Don’t use all your wishes at once,” Griselda warned her, “and think about what you wish for. Now, I must leave, it has been good doing business with you.”
So saying, she turned the supervisor back into a human being (for the sake of inter-reality relations) and disappeared, along with the spam and the trolley, in the usual manner.
Griselda travelled up and down the country purchasing spam in this way until she had amassed four million cans of it in a less frequented part of Epping Forest. This task complete, she, and it, disappeared in a puff of spam-coloured steam. Thankfully she hasn’t been seen in our neck of the inter-real woods since.
The Tale of Spam City by M T McGuire / Fantasy have rating 2.7 out of 5 / Based on16 votes