Entertainment in the Afterlife
“Hey, Earthman, have you got the popcorn?”
“If my planet hadn’t blown up, I might have.”
“He doesn’t mean the fluffy dry stuff you had on Earth,” Ford told Arthur matter-of-factly, brining out a bowl of khaki coloured blobs.
They looked suspiciously like something out of a particularly rheumy nose. Seeing the shade on Arthur’s face – much like the same colour as the “popcorn” – Trillian picked one up and sat it on her tongue. She smiled. “It’s alright. They’re not as bad as a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.”
“How bad is that?”
“Do you like gold bricks, monkey man?” demanded Zaphod suddenly.
“Well…no. Not really.”
The former president of the galaxy rolled his eyes. “Primitive species have no taste. Hey, where’s the remote?”
“I’m holding it,” Marvin announced despondently.
“Well, press play!”
There was a pause. Marvin turned his boxy silver head to Zaphod and gave him a hollow look. “Are you sure?”
“Press play before he drives us all mad,” Ford advised.
“I’ve seen it.” Marvin gave an electronic sigh. “It’s terrible.”
Trillian said reasonably, “Well I’m sure it will be fine, Marvin. It may be an adaptation, but anything with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy stamped on it ought to be good.”
The funny thing about the afterlife is that if you have no intention of exacting revenge on people who have killed you a million times or settling down to a quiet life, it is perfectly acceptable to watch any movie in the archives. There are no puffs of logic, therefore this is entirely feasible.
God had gone out for a cup of tea some thousand years earlier and was still trying to suck it up through a Tim Tam.
At this point everyone looked to Arthur Dent to persuade the Paranoid Android. He was still the only person who shared any kind of wavelength with Marvin, though if the robot heard that he’d scoff and say any life form’s brain would be a fraction the size of his.
“Spread the misery and press play,” Arthur said simply.
Marvin pressed play. Immediately the screen was a display of cheerful dolphins. Ford shook his head. “Utter disgrace. They got footage of dolphins trading ideas about fanfiction.”
“What else could they talk about?” Trillian wanted to know. “Fanfiction is the sign of a highly intelligent mind.”
Marvin decided to keep to himself that he had a few stories here and there. He instead settled for moaning about the diodes in his left side. Although in the afterlife everything was completely healed, it seemed that the diodes had a vendetta.
“That song is getting on my nerves,” Arthur said grumpily. “It was in So Long and Thanks for all the Fish that I met Fenchurch.”
It was still a painful memory to discover that someone you loved had abandoned you for the life of reincarnation. Zaphod made a shhing sound. “I like it, Earthman, so shut up.”
“I don’t think that actor does you justice,” Ford said to Arthur.
Feeling slightly better, Arthur smiled. Zaphod added to this, “Yeah, he looks too good to be you, monkey man.”
Marvin told anyone who cared to listen that there were perfectly less depressing things in the movie archives.
“For example,” the robot intoned, “The Matrix Reloaded.”
“Since when did you have a mobile phone?” Trillian asked Arthur curiously.
Arthur glanced at a calendar on the wall. “Since the twenty first century.”
Ford started in surprise at the exterior shot. “There’s no way I remember that many bulldozers.”
“I remember,” Arthur said stoutly. “Though I might have been seeing things in double…”
“Now why didn’t I think of that?” Zaphod demanded. “A trolley loaded with alcohol and peanuts? Serious party fuel.”
The party scene had Ford in stitches while Trillian repeated in disgust, “Madagascar? Madagascar?”
“Belgium!” Ford yelped. “The slash writers will have a field day! Me with flowers? Arthur ending up on top of me?”
Zaphod cheered loudly as the Earth exploded. Trillian hissed at him to shut up and stop making people feel bad. Ford sounded surprised, “They actually put paper bags over their heads? I thought they were just kidding.”
“No, why would they do that?” Marvin said sadly. “That would put fun into life.”
Zaphod began to chant, “Get that fish in! Get that fish in!”
Arthur winced in sympathy, even though it was just a movie. He looked rather angry in a few minutes. “Does that look like I’m enjoying that poem?”
“Hey, yeah,” Zaphod began chortling. “Loose wires in your head.”
Trillian asked quietly, “Well did you?”
“Yes,” sniffed Arthur.
Within a few minutes, everyone was chuckling. An electronic screech behind them made them turn. Marvin glared. “It’s not what you think. No one could possibly find too sofas amusing. Ha ha.”
Zaphod was rather pleased with the second head. It also made him very angry that he’d ended up with a dodgy paper mache one.
“Dressing up for Arthur?” Ford said after a moment. “What’s with you Trillian?”
“Madagascar,” Marvin crooned evilly.
Trillian hit him. Hard.
“Oh no,” Marvin said. “I look like a round Ewok.”
Ford read the back of the movie case with interest. He looked up. “Well, Warwick Davis was an Ewok.”
“Great,” Marvin said gloomily.
Arthur consoled, “At least you still sound like yourself.”
“Can I meet this Alan Rickman?” Marvin wanted to know with genuine interest.
There were hoots at the “and this planet will be called E…”
“What? What is it called?” Zaphod yelled at the screen.
Ford whacked him.
Trillian’s eyes grew wide. “Humma Kavula, candidate for president? Are they mad? He looks more like the ruler of the universe. He can’t be president!”
This confused Arthur, but he decided not to say so. He instead could not suppress a violent sneeze. Ford laughed. “Good one, Arthur!”
“Do you need the Great White Handkerchief?” Zaphod said solemnly.
Soon it was everyone’s turn to laugh at the ex-president. Even Marvin made his electronic whine. Zaphod fell on his knees, weeping, “Not my head! Not the head with the initials Z. B. back to front on it!”
He then showed no remorse both on and off screen for Trillian’s dilemma. Marvin moaned. “Love is a disease. Don’t talk to me about love.”
Arthur reddened at his character’s obvious infatuation. He distracted everyone by pointing how much the Vogon Constructor Fleet looked like New York City, all parked next to each other like that. Trillian glanced over at Marvin.
“I could almost be sorry for you for having your arm ripped off,” she said.
Marvin sighed. “Me too.”
There was great commotion among the viewers as the room with the forms came on. Marvin shook his head sadly. “I had to wait two years in that queue, trying to get onto the movie.”
“Why, Marvin, I thought you said you didn’t care,” Trillian hid her smile.
“See me there!” Marvin pointed. “The round Ewok can never look as depressed as me.”
“Eh!” Zaphod grunted, grabbing the remote off Marvin and fast forwarding, pressing play at a desired spot. “There! We approach Magrathea!”
The recording came on and Arthur choked on the “popcorn” he’d managed to acquire an addiction for. He pointed and said wildly, “That’s me! That’s an old me!”
Everyone stared at him. Ford frowned. “Since when did you make cameos?”
“Well, not since Simon Jones beat me for the role,” Arthur said sadly.
Marvin sighed. “You think you’ve got it bad. You’re not the one who spent two years waiting in line.”
Trillian was unimpressed by the teleporters. She scoffed, “Jet engines are more convincing.”
“Actually, I think that’s what they are,” Ford mused.
“Boo hoo, Earthman has no spine,” crowed Zaphod cruelly. “Do you want a towel to wipe your nose?”
Arthur shook his head, “No thanks, I’ve got my own.”
Zaphod pressed fast forward again. He hummed a bit then pressed play as the workshop floor came on. Arthur tutted, “I wouldn’t be freaked at that sight.”
“No, you already are,” Trillian reminded him. “You told us about that, remember?”
She was then clutching a towel to her face as Earth Mark II was touched down on. Marvin said helpfully, “You could try to drown yourself before the ending.”
Arthur crossed his arms. “If only the Magratheans actually made my house. I might almost be willing to hand over my brain to the mice.”
“Right, where’s Slartibardfast’s number?” demanded Zaphod.
Ford’s stomach gave a loud growl. He shrugged. “Must be from seeing all that food.”
“You were saying, Arthur?” Trillian said as the saws came ever closer.
“I said ‘almost be willing’! Not willing!”
“Vogons are back on!” Zaphod yelled, excitement gleaming in his eyes. “Hey, that lady. Each scene I see her in she gets hotter and hotter.”
“You wouldn’t say that if you knew the ending,” Marvin told him.
Ford chortled. “Oh come on, as if that’d stop a robot.”
Marvin’s head drooped. “Go on. Have a good laugh at my expense.”
“Oh, Marvin,” Trillian said. “I’m going to cry at my own expense.”
And she did. Arthur patted Marvin’s arm. Zaphod let out a loud groan. “Not deactivated yet? Ooh, gun. Go you good thing!”
Arthur smiled. “That was a very noble thing, Marvin.”
“Pity I didn’t have that part,” the Paranoid Android said. “I would have blasted everyone else. Except Arthur.”
“Why Arthur?” Zaphod demanded, offended.
“I’ve already affected him with my brainwaves,” Marvin explained.
Trillian sighed. “Oh I’ve turned into goo.”
“Women and romance,” Ford rolled his eyes.
Zaphod, annoyed at the fact that Arthur and Trillian were kissing on screen, grabbed his Trillian and gave her a good snog. Arthur complained, “Why set it up for a sequel? Does this abomination need a sequel?”
“What’s wrong with mentioning Milliways?” Ford wanted to know. “And don’t you know that great British sequels follow great British movies?”
Zaphod and Trillian separated. Marvin seized the remote and fast forwarded to halfway down the credits. He pressed play. Arthur frowned. “But I said something about having trouble with my lifestyle! Not something about my towel! AH!”
Trillian patted his arm. “Don’t worry, Arthur, I’m sure you’ll get the line in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.”
“Ooh, they made that into a movie?” Zaphod asked giddily. “I am there!”
Marvin sighed. “Sequels, don’t talk to me about sequels.”
Zaphod raced off to find the sequel. But that, my friends, is another story.