In The Continuum
by zara hemla

"So that's it," says Trillian finally, looking as dissatisfied as Trillian ever gets.

"That's it, babes," agrees Zaphod. He has a peaceful, nay, blissful look upon his face as he gazes across the Quentulus Quazgar mountains. "It's like looking into the face of the Ineffable, yeah?"

"It's effing something," agrees Trillian sourly. "But that can't be all of it! It's just an apology!"

The letters, as anyone knows who has landed on the planet Preliumtarn and gone to the the Great Red Plain of Rars in the land of Sevorbeupstry, and then rounded the farther side of the Quentulus Quazgar mountains, are thirty feet high and in letters of fire. They read, in short, "We Apologize For The Inconvenience."

"Yeah," agrees Zaphod again, looking indeed like he's just ingested an enormous amount of neurotoxin (though he almost always looks like that anyway). "It just . . . it just makes sense."

Trillian looks around from her perch on the left side of a flower-patterned sofa. All around her stand tourists, come to see what God finally had to say. They all look happy, blissful, joyful, carefree, jubilant -- in short, all of those gooey synonyms one sees at a wedding (or some funerals). They are nodding to one another, hugging, shaking hands.

Trillian tries very hard. And hates them all.

On the right cushion of the couch, Zaphod waves at someone he knows. His right head is swiveled over in that direction. His left one is looking at her half- concernedly.

"You all right? I thought you'd like this. You know. A date. Drinks, cushy chair, God's Final Message. So what's wrong?"

A short silence follows, during which her hand creeps across cushion boundaries and finds one of Zaphod's.

"I don't know. It seems like there ought to be more. At least something meaningful!" She waves at the fiery letters, burning away with nothing to feed on. "Is God just as confused as the rest of us? And if He is, then why bother at all? Why go on and create even more confused people to jumble everything up more? And then let them know that You are just as confused as we are, so sorry about that, let's just get on with things!"

Her voice has risen and people are looking around confusedly, as if unable to match the strident tone with the cheerily flowered sofa pattern.

"Hush, you're ruining it for them," Zaphod says, and squeezes her hand. His right head turns back to her and adds prissily, "Why I had to get mixed up with the one girl that would question God's ineffable wisdom, I'm sure I don't know."

Trillian lowers her voice and leans further toward Zaphod. "But if this is God's final message to His creation, then He admits himself that His wisdom isn't ineffable! How can an ineffable Being apologize? Or inconvenience anyone?"

He grins and swings a leg up so he is lying on the couch. Then he pulls her back against him. The tourists, more interested in ineffability, have turned away from them. She hears his voice rumble low out of his chest and into her hair.

"Is it so wrong that God makes mistakes? Errors in judgment? Think about it. He left a message, so at least He cares enough to apologize. And if He is a little bit less than ineffable, well, then it makes Him a bit more human. Like us. Or," he adds wryly, "like you, anyway."

She smiles too at this, leaning up to kiss him lightly under his right chin. "Like you too."

Zaphod gallantly lets her get away with calling him partly human, which is probably some kind of terrible insult to a froody guy like him. "Like anyone who can make it out to these damn mountains. Whoo! What a journey!"

This time she really laughs. "We didn't journey anywhere. We blinked in from Earth. Remember? This is my living room couch. And you pulled me down on it, and you said --"

"Eddies in the continuum!" he finishes, and she kisses him again. "That Eddie sure gets around. Hey, you know what would blot out all your existential sorrows? A Pan-galactic Gargle Blaster! And I know just the place."

"I don't like those. Too fruity. I'll just settle for that thing we had on Grexia."

"Oh, the zhyn-n-taw-nx? Those were good. Tasted like, what? What?"

"Sour apple."

"With a kick!" He rolls her over underneath him and kisses her while his left head begins a bawdy verse of "The Ballad of the Spaceman's Towel." The letters of God's message, put aside but not forgotten, crackle merrily across a continent. And a flower- patterned couch, left to its own devices, heads for home.


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