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“Hey! Careful where you're throwing that kettle,” said Bos, removing the kettle whistle from the end of his nose.
“It's not fair. How the hell am I supposed to do any writing when there's no tea,” said Ali, pointing at the empty teapot on the end of the bar.
“Throwing the kettle around isn't going to help is it? Get Tiff to pass you a jug of water and make some,” said Bos. Tiff appeared on the other side of the bar with a water jug in her hand.
“It's pointless isn't it? Someone's got drunk and been trying to roast Smibbles in it again, haven't they? That's the fourth kettle this week. I swear we should ban Cobra from the optics after daybreak.”
“But that's when I do my bestestest writing,” said Cobra from a nearby chair.
“You mean that's when you do your best drinking,” said Ali, “I'm off to WriMo's, they'll have tea, and at least they'll be sober.”
The door slammed and a wave of silence passed across the bar, Bos and Tiff both sighed with relief.
“Hey Tiff pass us a drink.”
“Bos have you shrunk overnight?”
“No, I'm still eleven foot four in these heels.”
“So how come I can only just see your eyes peeping over the bar then?”
“The floor seems to have sunk at this end.”
“I wondered why the glasses were so easy to float down the bar in that direction.”
Bos walked up to the other end, towering over the soda fountain, and sat down on a bar stool. He and Tiff looked at the floor.
“The whole things just collapsed in on itself,” said Tiff
“It's just as well we don't use the connecting door or there'd be a real problem.”
“I wonder if it goes through.”
“They haven't reported anything strange from the other side, but then how would they recognise strange anyway?” said Bos, musing.
“Good point. We'll have to get a proper surveyor to take a look at it.”
“ OK, I'll ring through to YA and ask them to send someone over.”
“While you're doing that I'll try and scrape up some warning signs. I tell you what, those roast Smibbles do nothing for Cobra's gut, the smell over here is disgusting.” Tiff wrinkled her nose and edged away from where Cobra was sprawled.
“Do you want a mask?”
“No, but some air freshener would be nice.”
“I'll ask Fen for some pot porri from the dong garden while I'm making calls,” said Bos
“What's the situation?” Tiff asked the rather nice looking and very serious lady from YA.
“We've had an archive collapse on a lower level in the forums, that's why your floor has sunk. Please could you get this thing off my arm?” Bos removed the Smibble that was trying to chew a corner on her clipboard.
“No, I meant this,” she held up her right arm to show Cobra chewing on her sleeve.
Tiff reached over the bar, where she had been shovelling ice with Hillz' shovel and laid Cobra out cold on the floor.
“Thank you. As I was saying, there's been an archive collapse.”
“Isn't the archive under there?” Tiff pointed to the connecting door.
“Yes, so your substrate moved when it collapsed. That's why you can smell sulphur, we think you may be over a small lava flow. Nothing to worry about. I'm sure it'll all solidify within a few hours.”
The lady from YA made her way out as Tiff, Bos and the rest of the cantinas looked around.
“Lava?” said Gina, “no wonder it's warm.”
“Good for my plants,” said Fen.
“Shame it's not winter, we could use it to keep warm,” said Tiff.
“Yeah, it'd save us from having to get those truckloads of Harold Robbins and Danielle Steele sent round from the pulpers. Just think of the overdraft fees we could save,” said TJ.
The cantinas sat around the bar to discuss the problem.
“Renewable energy is just what we need,” said Hillz, “we could pipe around everywhere and save a fortune.”
“Maybe we could sell it off and buy more booze,” said Cobra, applying an ice pack to his head.
“What about our own SFF library? People can never seem to get hold of the books for the bookstudy, we could have them in stock ready,” said Fen.
“I vote we buy a large supply of kettles, said Ali, “so we can make tea after people break them trying to roast Smibbles in them.” Cobra winced and tried to hide behind Gina. Still annoyed, Ali slammed down her glass which went skittering off the end of the bar, sending up a small mushroom cloud of steam as the glass shattered.
“You know, that gives me an idea,” said Gina. “Hillz, can you give me a hand, we'll need your shovel.” Gina and Hillz walked off to the stores, reappearing a few minutes later with a couple of boxes. After a short pause there came the sound of digging and a clanging of pipes. The rest of the cantinas sat around drinking and writing. Cobra fell asleep leaning against a chair.
“And that's another masterpiece finished,” announced Bos, laying down his pen and placing a piece of paper with the words 'The End' written very neatly in the middle on the top of the pile beside him.
A sudden hiss of steam came from the other end of the bar, there was a cry of
Cobra woke with a start and the cantinas all moved over to take a look.
“Smells like coffee,” said Cobra.
“Dream on,” said Ali.
A network of pipes now covered the huge hole in the ground, and a small coffee machine had been built directly onto the end of the bar.
“It is coffee,” said Cobra.
“And tea,” said Hillz passing a cup to Ali, who almost fainted at the sight.
Gina explained, “You were saying about renewable energy, so we've put in steam heating for all the chairs and the greenhouse,” Gina offered TJ a chair, sitting down TJ said
“Ooo, cosy and warm.”
Gina carried on. “We've also built a kettle to boil the water and a coffee grinder that works with steam pressure.”
“This is brilliant,” said Fen, turning on the greenhouse radiator, and watching the water slowly drip off the leaves of her sedum.
“And it's all for free, from now on we'll be powered by beans and lava,” said Gina
The cantinas cheered and applauded as drinks were passed around.