for all my fellow nerds
While Aleric sleeps, shiny white robots come in to his room, humming cheerfully and off-key to themselves as they measure and sew and craft. The humming is designed, like their genuine personalities, to reassure and endear. It does neither.
They take his robe off, begrimed and filthy with a thousand things: food stains and coffee and toothpaste, rich black English mud, sweat, inedible hagra crumbs, Vogon sweat crystallized in the mind-boggling emptiness of space, and, improbably, retsina. They bundle it into the incinerator and leave his new suit behind, excitingly white (like the robots), excitingly comfortable (like a really expensive running shoe), excitingly sleek (like the underside of an Orat).
When Aleric wakes up he is naked and horrified. “Ford!” he shouts. “They’ve stolen my clothes!”
“Shut up, monkeyman,” says Ford’s cousin’s right head, which is nursing a massive hangover. His left head is still passed out, and only drools and mumbles.
“That robe was a gift. From my aunt. In Islington.”
“Aleric,” moans Ford, who is both hungover and still drunk. “Your aunt is gone. Islington is gone. You’ll never have to thank her for the robe ever again.”
“Oh,” says Aleric, then, “Ow!” as the second gargleblaster finally reaches his stomach.