It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel I’ve Got An Overdue Library Book (Tomes and Talismans, Continued)

Episode six opens with dad on the run from the Wipers. They’re just about to shoot him with their futuristic hair driers and caulk guns, but freak the hell out and run away. Back at the library, Athos looks up the encyclopedia in the computer, which is very meta. He is treated to a musical montage about all the things you can look up in the encyclopedia. Now, encyclopedia is an awkward word to fit into the meter of a song. As far as I know, Jiminy Cricket is the only person to ever successfully do it. Also, she radically mispronounces “Zaire” (She says “Zar”) and Emile Zola. Athos looks horrified.
Back at base, one of the Users has prepared a powerpoint slide showing how their food supply (measured in “Quark pods”) decreases linearly over time (in “lunens”) He is praised for conveying the information clearly, and is given the honor of being the first one they eat after their inevitable turn to cannibalism.
Abacus has been reading The Story of the Amulet, since it’s an engaging story even though her base is under seige. Athos finds this a waste of time as much as I do, and draws a chart to show her how many pages of book they need to get through in order to read all the books on the wizard’s reading list. It seems that Users have a knack for charts, even though they then explain what a chart is, indicating that this too is a novel concept for them.
Dad, whose name is Colonel Hogan (Hogaaaaan!) calls in. By which I mean, he transmits, “Abacus, this is your father, Colonel Hogan.” Now, I thought that this was a silly thing to say, but then, we’ve only met their father and grandmother, and I haven’t seen any other adult female Users, so maybe they’ve got two daddies. He’s hungry, so Miss Bookheart directs him to smassh a small nearby hard-shelled object, which she thinks is a nut. It turns out to be a watermellon, because Colonel Hogan (Hogaaaaaan!) is terrible at describing things. He finds it delicious, at which point my beloved Leah, who has never seen an episode of Power Rangers SPD proves that she’s spent too much time around me, by adding, “And buttery!”
As dad hides from the Wipers, Athos forgets that he’s got a magical headband that lets him define any word, and has to be taught about the dictionary. From this, he deciphers the wizard’s message (‘To elide the buckler, these tomes offer succor’) as “To destroy the shield, these books offer help,” and from this, he draws the conclusion “This means that these books offer help to destroy the shield!” Really, Bookheart ought to have shown him the thesaurus.
I spoke too soon — Bookheart has the same idea, and whips out a thesaurus to translate the rest of the clues into something less florid.
Back at base, there is great concern over the food supply, because they haven’t eaten in minutes. Grandma Nikola Tesla wanders through the hall of street signs that they for some reason have, then sits down and reads The Macguffin, which contains the legend of how the Users defeated the Wipers in their prehistory. She eventually remembers that she’s got a ruby talisman necklace which I’m guessing is an old family heirloom. This is awesome, because the kids have just discovered, from the wizard’s summer reading list, that they need a ruby to use as an amulet to (this part they have not figured out yet), to something to do with horses and defeating the Wipers, and breaking the magnetic shield.
The next clue they try to address involves lasers, and since lasers are a sciency thing, it’s time to learn about other kinds of reference books, such as the science encyclopedia and science dictionary.
Meanwhile, Athos turns gaygayer and decides to put on a one-man-Shakespeare review. He’s looking to make sense of “the king’s familiar price.” I’m a bit ashamed to discover that I didn’t work this out until I was repeating it to Leah, several episodes after the clue was introduced. It’s pretty obvious. What are Wipers deathly afraid of?
While Athos learns about Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, Variant and Fat Kid learn about Mythology, and Abacus has a heartfelt conversation with her father in comically stilted language. They’ve now solved this much of the puzzle: 1. A horse (my kingdom for a); 2. A laser; 3. A ruby; 4. A cloud. (They sort of glossed over that one)
I remember being very proud of myself when I sorted out what they had to do.
Episode 9 beings with Abacus and Bookheart reading a book on sewers, but when she’s left alone, she secretly pulls out a notepad and starts doodling. Athos needs to have a short lesson in maps, and Bookheart obliges. They direct Colonel Hogan (Hogaaaan!) to follow the railroad tracks. Because railroads are not library-related, the users do not need an explanation of what one is. For comic relief, the Wipers use a map too, only by “map”, they mean “monopoly board”.
Abacus needs an almanac, urgently. What is it? It’s a book of up-to-date facts giving the latest information for each year, but that’s not important now. She needs it because she’s theorized that the wizard’s clue is leading them to the possibility of using the sewer system to get back to their base and retrieve the Macguffin of Wipers On Earth Volume Three. Surely, you say, that’s not in an almanac. True, but if the population increased by more than ten percent in the years after the publication of the definitive book on local sewers, they’d have installed a new line which connects the sections of town between the library and the base. And don’t call me Shirley.
Because VHS tapes age poorly, we’re then treated to five minutes of dark blurs while either Abacus travels via the sewer to the User base, or Colonel Hogan (Hogaaan!)and the Wipers wander around in the dark.
Turns out that it was the former; Abacus pops up in the base, half-dead from her sewer crawl. After a lengthy recap, she asks to take back the copy of the Macguffin. Grandma Nikola Tesla immediately hands over the book, and throws in her ruby amulet, and sends her granddaughter to crawl back through miles of decaying sewers, because of a wizard. The Users are basically dumbasses.
Dad gets caught by the Wipers just as the century-old sewer system, which Bookheart mentions was built to be “cheaper to replace than to maintain” colapses on Abacus…

One thought on “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel I’ve Got An Overdue Library Book (Tomes and Talismans, Continued)

  1. Pingback: Deep Ice: One thing unites them and gives them power – their music (Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, Part 3: The Spirit of Man) | A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

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