Chapter 4: The Speechwriter
Arnold reaches the 5th car and realizes he’s lost.
‘Hello,’ a man says from behind him, surprising
with his high-pitched voice and strange appearance. He wears a bow tie with no
shirt on and has a handlebar mustache. His body moves awkwardly in gym shorts and
suspenders. Broken glasses surround his crossed blue-eyes. Arnold
‘Do you know where the Common Room is?’
‘I can’t find it either,’ the man says, laughing, ‘but I have a map of the train in my room if you’d like to join me.’ Arnold nods and they walk through a few trains and arrive at the man’s room.
The room is similar to
but has more books, papers, and empty coffee cups scattered around. A radio
transmitter-looking machine with buttons, electric binoculars, and a keyboard
catches Arnold ’s
‘What kind of work do you do?’
The man drops a pile of coffee cups. ‘I’m a speech writer.’ He stands as though posing for an honorary photo.
‘And what’s that?’
to the machine. Arnold
The Speechwriter walks over to it.
‘This is here in case someone doesn’t do what they’re supposed to and I need to intervene.’ He giggles. ‘I just punch in some security codes, put these goggles on, grab this remote, and talk into the microphone!’
says. ‘I never
knew that existed.’ Arnold
‘It certainly does,’ the speech-writer says, ‘but you can’t tell anyone about it, okay. There are a lot of people who would love to get their hands on it.’
Arnold nods. “I won’t tell anyone.’
The Speechwriter spots the map under some papers on his desk. He picks it up and examines it. ‘The Common Room is two cars down beside the spy deck.
Arnold and the Speechwriter arrive at the Common Room. The room is nearly full and lunch is being served. The walls have a green honeycomb pattern with cathedral ceilings and one circular doorway into the kitchen. Out of fifteen tables only a few empty chairs remain. None are together, so Arnold and the Speechwriter find their own seats. Servers balance plates on their hands and heads in perfect form as they whiz by.
‘Forgive her.’ The man sitting beside her speaks up. He has a mustache and wears a bright red army suit jacket. ‘She’s the victim of an awful curse and cannot speak. Please, have a seat.’ His voice is kind.
‘Thanks.’ Arnold sits down and greets the table. There are three people: the woman beside him, the army-suited man beside her, and another man across from him who has a video camera as a head. A red light shines out of one of his eyes as he speaks.
‘My name’s Allen,’ he says. ‘This is my good friend Sgt. Pepper of the Queen’s common army.’ Sgt. Pepper stands up and bows to
‘And this is our lovely friend Tragic Tina, whose voice used to heal, but it
has been stolen by an evil witch.’ Arnold
A waitress rolls by and drops off a plate in front of each of them.
‘Eat up my friend! We can feast and then tell tales until the sun drifts beyond our tired eyes.’ Arnold eats his food down like a shipwreck survivor having his first meal in weeks.
When they all finish their meals, Arnold looks into Tina’s eyes, which cause a feeling of euphoria to rush through him.
‘Would you like to join us for some tea
The Journalist takes Arnold out of his short trance. Arnold
‘Sure,’ Arnold says He hears a familiar voice come from behind him. He gets up and turns around to see
rolling over to him. Vernon
‘I thought I’d find you here,’ Vernon says, ‘I forgot to get my pocket-watch back from you.’ He puts out his hand.
takes it out of his pocket and hands it to him. Arnold
‘Enjoy the rest of your evening!’ He rolls away as quickly as he came, Arnold looks around at the other tables as they finish up their meals and talk amongst themselves. He sees a pale woman at one of the tables whose thoughts pour out of her head. Five sentences streamed out at a time and she talks with a man whose face is hidden by a shadow. Both of them wear black cloaks. The rest of the table is taken up by an old man working on a puzzle. He wears a deer stalker hat and smokes an unlit pipe.
‘So where are you all from?’ Arnold asks, sipping at his green tea.
‘Tina is from the planet Zylinov, which is where I found her,’ The Journalist says. ‘As for Sgt. Pepper…’ He nods to Sgt. Pepper, who takes over.
‘I’m from a town called Turnabout Town.’ Sgt. Pepper says. ‘I read an article by the Journalist and I came to
to help them in their struggle.’ Circus City
‘What exactly happened to Tina’s voice, if you don’t mind me asking?’ Arnold says.
‘It all started when we arrived on this planet,’ The Journalist says. ‘We noticed that Tina’s voice had a powerful influence on the people here: she would sing them a song and they would be cured of whatever ailed them. This brought a lot of attention to us and Tina’s healings started to aggravate the witches, wizards and medical doctors who had been losing a lot of business because of her. They shipped us to Circus City and made us part of the Freak Show, charging people 50 coins to see The Amazing Healer as they called her. They made a fortune off of her gift, but Tina grew weak.’ He pauses to sip at his tea.
‘That’s where I come into the story,’ Sgt. Pepper says. ‘I had heard about the brutal treatment they had received and traveled to
to help their cause.
When I arrived in Circus
City , Tina was nearly
dead; the Freak Show had sucked her
energy right out of her! And since her life force was waning, her power to heal
was also leaving her. I told her that she needed to stop healing people or it
would kill her.’ Circus
‘That really upset the evil ones who had been profiting off of Tina,’ the Journalist said. ‘The head witch of the Freak Show stole Tina’s voice right out of her, placed it into a bag of sand, and threw it up into the sky. We’re sure that it landed somewhere eventually, but we have no idea where. Now the three of us are bound together by this loss and will search until we find the bag of sand that holds her voice.’
‘I’m happy to help,’
says, surprising himself with his new
found sense of confidence. Arnold
‘Well,’ the Journalist says, ‘fate has brought us to you! We would love you to join us!’
They all nod in agreement and ‘cheers’ their tea mugs.