Pause ( )
Pause ) ( “No, HH.”
Pause ( )
Pause ) ( “Nope.”
Pause ( )
Pause ) ( “NO, HH. No, okay? It’s not happening. Not while I’m in control. You’re dying, get over it. I had to.”
WHO? TELL ME WHO?
“Well, I tried to, anyway. This is certainly helping the process.”
Let’s consider, if we can, the Heart of Gold. Mr Beeblebrox’s (in)famous star liner which didn’t so much rewrite the book on physics as turn it into a rather affronted-looking blancmange. It can take you anywhere, anywhen, in the universe by sheer power of infinite improbability, so long as you don’t mind arriving upside down, back to front, a different species or something much worse*. All this has been documented in that famous, standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, which is festooned with Life’s most triumphant understatement written in large friendly letters on its cover.
That in itself is a fact, and also the main reason the discussion around the Heart of Gold will now take a more focused approach, towards the heart of the Heart of Gold, the Improbability Drive itself.
Studying improbability is rather like playing God, except a bit more fun because there’s no need to worry about faith or belief. Improbable things will still happen, possibly, whether or not someone believes that they will. Improbable things are a tad similar to “those” kind of people at a dinner party. No-one invited them. No-one expected them. But they’re allowed to stick around because it makes things just that bit more eventful.
Studying improbability also brings with it a headache that makes continental shift feel like a light tickle. In this field, there is no finite answer to any question, at all. Ask an Improbabilitist what is 2 + 2 (but for Ned’s sake don’t ask them about their job title) and they’ll give you any answer except the one you’re after.
So let’s take some odds, to get a feel for this line of work – odds being an Improbabilitist’s way of taking stock.
The odds of a meteor landing on your house: 182,138,880,000,000 to 1.
The odds of dying on a 5 mile bus trip: 500,000,000 to 1.
The odds of a human contracting mad cow disease: 40,000,000 to 1. Suddenly a meteor doesn’t look as bad.
The odds of being killed by flammable night-time attire: 30,589,556 to 1.
The odds of winning an Oscar: 11,500 to 1.
The odds of being born with 11 fingers or toes: 500 to 1. Personally I’d rather have the Oscar, though extra digits would make it easier to hold.
So, what are the odds of the luckless, gutless Timelord known as Homeless Helper walking out safe and sound from his current predicament? HH surviving being killed by his past incarnation. Suitably enough, I have it as 8,151,351,251,919,851,216,518 to 1. If you can figure out why that’s “suitably enough” you’re either talented, bored or a potential relation to Alan Turing.
Now, to be honest, I’d love to ask HH himself what his likely chances of survival look like, but he won’t stop bloody screaming.
That is to say, I won’t stop bloody screaming. I’m him, after all. And he’s me. But then I’m also Guardian, and Seventh Self and about ten others, most of which despise each other and/or Arkham Asylum. I guess I’m what you’d call HH’s actual mind. Not his personality, memories and feelings and the like – he makes that himself. I’m just the squashy bit in the middle that keeps him upright and stops his lungs turning inside out.
I’m the engine and HH is the space ship, look at it that way. He replaces the exterior on a regular basis but the engine remains the same.
Which one of us that always craves burritos, I’m not fully sure.
Anyway, the stuff going on…outside? over there?…was a bit too much for me, so I just switched off. Went away for a bit, did some reading, tried on some different heads. While the “real HH” screams our life force away, I have some time to think – a past-time I’m so rarely rewarded with anymore. Most of the time I’m told to shut up or I’m given somebody new to play with. Chompy, for example? What was he all about? Besides shotguns and steak.
The fact that I’m still here suggests that HH isn’t giving in just yet. I honestly believe that, sometimes, Timelords don’t survive through a desire to live, but are damned adamant that they’re not going to die. Most Timelords wouldn’t be found dead being dead. HH is currently being cooked by his own biology but still has it in
me his head that he’ll get through this one. I’m sceptical, myself, so have devoted myself to studying the unlikelihood of it all. Did you know, for example, that it was more likely for the universe not to be created than it was for it to actually be created. Brilliant, huh? One little freak of nature, Life decided that actually it will take this one, and here we are. Arguing with previous selves and trying to figure out, well, a way out.
Personally, I wouldn’t suggest betting on me, folks. I’m not going back in there until it all cools down by a few lifetimes. There’s no clever escape plan this time. HH’s only hope is an outside source; a friend if he’s really lucky.
Too bad he hasn’t got many of those.
*Like a lighthouse. Think on wheelchair accessibility as a mere trifle compared to negotiating a lighthouse’s method of travel.