Well, here we are, my friend, and welcome to Volume Two. Not the book I promised, alas, but this will have to do. I hope the climb was not too taxing, hope it’s clement weather – It’s best of all at suns-set, when all four go down together. If you’ll excuse an in-joke, then this very situation Is a little like that final message God left his creation.
I’m afraid I’ve got some very bad news, But maybe you’ve guessed – seen through my ruse: We’re dying, you and I. Maybe you guessed. Here ends our bloody pointless noble quest. Those knobbly leaves that saved us – well, they saved us for a while; It seems they hold a toxin that has gathered in our bile.
Look, I know, I could go back and let you know With footnotes, perhaps. But then, where would you go ? So I’ve lied to you instead. A sin of omission, I guess, but you still end dead. But if I had, you’d have starved all the quicker – This way, I gave you a hope, a flicker, One which I shared at the time. Now I know better, and fully accept my crime To not let on that we are cursed; Of all the choices, this one seems least worst.
Either way, we’re never going home. But hey, how many can get to roam Across this glorious galaxy, Across such worlds and moons as we ? And so much life ! Such gorgeous beings – It has been fun, all our sight-seeings. For us, the galaxy displays her best – And if we’re cursed, then surely too we’re blessed !
So, the journal once more takes its place To aid the next poor refugee in space, So terrified and all alone, A long long way from home. And they shall read this letter, too – So after all my words, please add a few words of your own. Perhaps there are some here already, under mine, From voyagers before your time, who spared a thought to share a line In many voices: calm, betrayed or manic. To all of you now facing death, I urge you with my final breath:
Are you still following, my friend ? Or am I writing pages that you’ll never even read ? If you are still there, then it’s pretty guaranteed That you’ve noticed that we’re almost at the end. For this is the last page of my book – “But how can it end here, before we’re homeward bound ?” Well, do not sweat, my friend, for I’ve another tome I’ve found, So it’s less a final chapter, more a hook. You might be getting weary, feeling down – But dude, I swear I’ve plenty more to tell you – don’t give in ! You trusted in my guide this long, for all its help within, Now trust me one last time, and head for town. Here’s a map to show you what I’ve planned: So look out for a pub with an anti-matter sign, Go in, and tell the barman that you are a friend of mine, And let him take this journal from your hand. He will exchange it for a single page, Then see to it this notebook gets returned where it began, To help the next poor traveller to follow, if they can. And you yourself must start your second stage. So stick it out – I mean, you’re still alive ! Just follow the directions up the valley to the second book I know it’s cloak-and-dagger, but the view is really worth a look, And all will be explained when you arrive.
I’m sorry for yesterday. I’m sad to say, I’m feeling rather Marvin now. Maybe you are too – but hang in with me, We’ll pull through, you’ll see – We’ll make it back somehow. I met an alien last night Who cheered me up a bit We didn’t speak, but what a sight ! They had these scores of legs that wouldn’t fit And just kept falling off, Unless they took great care to never cough. I guess there’s evolution working there, But God knows what it is. Perhaps they really had it bad, Far worse than me, far worse than this. Perhaps. I guess that shouldn’t make me glad, But there you are. I even smiled, the first time in, oh, I don’t know. Anyway, on to the next strange star, On to another Brave New World we go.
Another trip to another moon Of another world of another star That gets me nowhere nowhen soon, And leaves me every bit as far. And after all my pointless striding, You’ve the chance to stride it too And just like me, you’ll find no ride To take you home to Planet Blue. So what’s the bloody point at all ? Just what’s the bloody point ? We tour the stars, but every call Is just another same-old joint, With just the same damn knobbly leaves, And just the same damn hopeless chase, And petty clerks, and scummy thieves, And endless miles of endless space.
Do you ever feel like, I don’t know… Like maybe someone else Could live your life much better, Than you do ? I get that, too. I sometimes feel I’m wasted, Seeing all this damned adventure, When I wish I’d never tasted But a tenth of all this new. I mean, I try to be amazed, But surely there are others, Far more worthy, far less glazed, Who would dig this cosmic zoo. Ah, don’t mind me, mate, I’m feeling just a little blue. I guess I must admit, I’m nothing great, I’m not the best – I’m on the B-Ark manifest Without a clue. But here I am, and here you are, We have to stride from star to star, For if we stop and sulk, we won’t get very far, It’s true.
Isn’t it amazing news How ev’ry airport looks the same ? A giant warehouse full of queues, I know, let’s play a game: It’s guaranteed your flight’s delayed, So take a look around the hall – I know they’re aliens and all, But still the same old cavalcade:
I spy, with a weary eye An alien who’s lost his bags, An insectoid afraid to fly, A duty-free with tat and mags, A child so bored she barely coping. And security by goons: (They’re utter vogons, those baboons, With tentacles for better groping.)
Never mind. At least you’re through – They don’t much like us hitchers much. Now find a UFO with crew Who’ll let you ride by paying Dutch. But just before they close the dome, Look back. For ev’ry grief and queue, And ev’ry alien in view… It’s good, for once, to feel at home.
It’s time to get off this planet, It’s time to get out and roam, It’s time for a trip in a rocket-ship, To be one world closer to home. So smuggle yourself in a cargo bay, And let those improbabilities play ! We’ll pick up the guide on the other side – Just hope that you’re heading my way !
I suppose you think today is special, Suppose you think today’s the Answer: “They can’t nail me to a tree,” you’ll say, “I’ve just done six impossible things today !” In fact, I spent my forty-second Drinking with a two-headed chancer. I risked the local brew – disaster ! It hit me worse that a triple-strength gargle-blaster. Ah well, beware of the leopard, I guess… (Though man, I wish I’d a towel for me head !) Come on, best dust down the dressing gown, And head off – before the petunias hit the ground. Let’s leave the pondering to the mice, Forgetting to fall, and flying instead – I’ll somehow get you home, my friend, To the fjords of Mostly Harmless in the end.
Ahead a few miles, there lies a town – Well, more a collection of termite mounds, Except that the mounds are giant mounds, And the citizens aren’t quite termites, neither. But they are well used to strangers here, You won’t get a second glance – If they had any eyes to glance with, Instead of some kind of weird receiver. Rest the night in the local inn – You can pay with the knobbly leaves. If you pick every one you see, Then you’ll have enough to catch a breather. Before you leave, check out the town: This is real Space Who Trek Wars ! The whole place looks so cosmic, dude, As if designed by Dali with a fever. Do you have a phone or camera ? Take lots of photos. Wish I could, too. And when you get back, if they ever doubt you, Or you doubt yourself, they’ll keep you a believer. Heading on, you’ll come to a river – There’s a detour to a waterfall. Well, actually it’s a water-rise, Caused by a creature a bit like a trout or a beaver, While almost entirely, but not quite, unlike either.