if you've ever read So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish (by douglas
adams) and wondered how the fishbowl got there in the first place....
There was a fishbowl walking along the road.
It was made of a smooth, silvery material, as if an accountant--
who just happened to be a master alchemist on the side-- had stumbled on a
method to mix crystal and slate together, and had taken it into his head
(perhaps as a result of breathing the mercury fumes too long) to form a
fishbowl out of this rare mixture.
The bowl was being carried along by a man, but never mind him.
Maybe the alchemist, having created this fishbowl, had shaken his
head at whatever had possessed him to waste time making this
strangely-shaped object-- you couldn't even eat out of it, for heaven's
sake!-- and had wrapped it up and given it to a friend of his for a
The bowl rose and fell with the rhythm of the man's step. To the
bowl, it seemed as if the man stood still and the trees rose and fell
about them in an intricate dance.
And, just possibly, the alchemist's friend could have been a
scientist- but she dabbled in the art of engraving in her spare time. And
if the bowl took her fancy, sometime, one lonely evening when the sun's
slow departure cast the whole earth in twilight, she might hear the faint
echo of words half-remembered in the back of her mind.
The bowl sailed along in the man's hands, considering all the
possibilities around it, deciding which paths to take.
And if all the events clicked smoothly into that pattern, then
there would be an equal chance that the engraver might listen to the words
humming through the back of her thoughts; words singing the concepts and
ideas of smooth grey bodies, resilient pewter, diving, leaping and
splashing, flying through both air and water in the same bound, gliding
through water with infinitely improbable ease.
Buildings and machines began to dot the landscape now, pushing the
ecosystem to one side to make way for progress.
The images call out to the engraver's mind, appealing to her,
asking her, guiding her to send one last message for them, a message of
thanks; and, as if in a dream, she obeys.
The gentle, curving edge of the fishbowl circles round to meet the
sunlight. If the man had been looking at it, he might have seen the bowl's
smooth matte surface blur in the newly harsh sunlight, might have wondered
if what he was holding was the reality that was really there.
The fractal patterns have been finally, uncertainly completed; the
trees and leaves and spirals that mathematicians so like to draw have been
finally and fully colored in; and the bowl proceeds on its way, to the
last part of the first part of its journey's purpose's fulfillment. It is
just one infinitesimal part of the whole, a single ball in the chain of
events that will have been to be concluded. It has no clear ending, no
climax, but stretches out through time in all directions-- as the man
carrying the fishbowl can see clearly.
He spies a dingy, small house in the near future-- or is he seeing
it in the nearest part of the road? Walking towards it, the man who calls
himself the Doctor opens the door, pushing it open with a small determined
barrage of kicks, against the growing wall of unread mail behind it.
Having wrapped the fishbowl- neatly, carefully, exquisitely- he drops it
off in an unobtrusive corner next to the TV set, and leaves again, kicking
the loads of mail back into place and pulling the door shut behind him. As
an afterthought, he locks it-- then he is gone.
Later still, in the flashing crashing anger of a thunderstorm, a
man who looks as if he's struggled with the Universe-- and lost far too
many times-- staggers up to the door. His name is Arthur Dent. At last,