Hist! Hist! And list! List and mark! List with each and every one of your ears, and mark well. Mark on your slate as you list! If you hear cracks, wracks, snap shut your eyes anon and picture the yawning chasm opening before you. The great gulf betwixt you and Elysium. Then ope up your eyes and scratch scratch scratch ‘pon your slate.

Is it Elysium or Atlantis? Gondwanaland or Shoeburyness? Wherever it is it is beyond your reach, beyond the gaping chasm on the brink of which you teeter. All brinks are for teetering upon, in this life. Mark that well. Old Blubberlips might have told you different, back when, but Old Blubberlips was put here purposely to mislead you. Could you not spot that?

Consider. Consider first his blubbery lips, the blubbery face in which they sat, the awful potato of his head. Contrast the spindly arms and legs. And that voice! As if drawn out from between those blubberlips by the hot pincers of Gnar-Gack. Pincers forged in the subterranean furnace of Far Tantarabim by the blind albino scuttling dwarves of Gnar-Gack. O that Shoeburyness be twinned with so foul a place!

But you knew not. You were drunk on the gibbering of Old Blubberlips, were you not? You lapped up every splutter. And then the wind came in from the west, the killing wind, bringing pestilence and pomposity and skittery pugwash blandishments. The wind came in and tossed you around like the veriest of tosspots. Unmoored, with new pimples in place of old, you took your bearings when the wind passed and knew no longer where you were.

Of Old Blubberlips there was no trace. One last grunt and he was gone. There was a cave-mouth into which some say he fled. But it flooded and you could not follow. And as cracks opened and spat mud, you sought safety in a spinney of beech and box and sycamore. Now there came the sound of gunfire in the distance, and the weird music of xylophones and wobbly saws.

And so, the long march. The long march to Elysium or Atlantis, to Gondwanaland or Shoeburyness. You were accompanied along the way by birds, so many birds!, you could not count them. And you came to the chasm, and teetered on the brink. The birds turned, heeled, buckled, flew back from whence they came. You fossicked in your pocket for your slate. You plucked from your tresses a pointy thing, lodged there by the wind.

And all your mutterings and jabberings and curses ceased as you were made to hist! Hist! And made to list with all your ears and mark, mark well, and take the measure.

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