“I can’t think why you would want to spend so much time here Doctor,” said Felix, “it seems a very odd place to choose as a regular holiday destination.”
“I think it’s rather pleasant,” said the Doctor brightly, “especially since we cleared out the former management.”
“The former management?” asked Felix.
“Oh, Drumlins Westmore tried to enclose this place a little while ago,” said the Doctor.
“Drumlins Westmore? Sounds like a British general. General Sir George Drumlins-Westmore OBE.”
“Ha! No, it’s a corporation. The Drumlins Westmore Interplanetary News and Entertainment Media Group. Or something like that. There’s probably an Inc in there too somewhere. They set up a department on one of their office worlds devoted entirely to fiction. Hired loads of struggling wannabe authors. Lured them in with promises of agents and publishing contracts and regular meals.”
“You mean they started publishing novels? They created a sort of novel factory?”
“No, they didn’t publish anything. They got the writers to spend all day writing stories featuring brilliant, dynamic, hyper-capable, unbeatable employees of the Drumlins Westmore Corporation. Heroic corporate accountants and lawyers and lobbyists and marketing executives. Capitalist atlases who never faltered in their noble determination to cure all of society’s ills by privatising everything… into the hands of Drumlins Westmore, naturally. The writers took to it with depressing ease and speed. As a rule, the more principled a writer, the quicker they accomodated themselves to the work. You should’ve heard the byzantine self-justifications I had to listen to. Anyway, the fictional Drumlins Westmore employees from the stories all appeared here as a matter of course. And, also as a matter of course, they immediately set about taking over. It worked too. Effectively, Drumlins Westmore pulled off a hostile takeover of the Land of Fiction.”
“But that’s all over now?” asked Felix.
“Oh yes,” laughed the Doctor, grinning so widely Felix thought her head was about to split in two, “we couldn’t be having that sort of thing now could we?”
They walked and the Doctor expounded.
“It’s the people you meet here, you see. That’s why I keep coming back. That and a strange feeling I get… a feeling of coming home. But in a good way.”
“It doesn’t seem entirely safe here,” said Felix, “even without those Drumlins and Westmore gentlemen.”
Felix looked around warily, as if expecting a corporate accountant or a marketing executive to leap out at him and attack.
He was still somewhat on edge after half an hour of hiding behind a rock from a platoon of huge robotic tripods. He and the Doctor had spied them in the far distance. The Doctor had insisted they duck out of sight, just in case. Even so, she had leaned around the rocks and spied on the things with her telescope. Felix had taken a turn. Through the telescope he saw them, metallic tendrils flailing from the bulbous bodies suspended at the tops of their tall and jointed legs. They were lumbering towards a far-off cluster of settlements connected by rivers, backed by gorges, and interspersed with farmland filled with grazing sheep.…