Quantum Coyote
Chronicles of the Cake Stop
Vol VI Prelude
Vivaldi - The Four Seasons
Early summer in the Cake Stop. The air is carrying the first hints of the coming long, hot, scorching days, days of low-level ozone and high-level ozone holes. Spring has come early this year, the hotter seasons nudging the rear wheel of Winter in their impatience. Blackthorns are flowering, May blossom in early April. Frogs are everywhere, croaking their midnight chorus and hurriedly being ushered out of the Temple fountain before they can spawn by tutting Temple Maidens. The rooks and jackdaws in the rookery in the Seven Acre Wood are already lambasting their neighbours, jostling for nest position and stealing twigs from one another. High up on the Temple's highest roof, the gleaming tower of the Sanctum, a pair of ravens are nesting for the tenth year, and there are already three chicks squawking loudly up there.

The snowdrops have come and gone, and now there are carpets of bluebells under the budding trees. There is electricity in the air on the cool, clear, still nights that are coming more frequently amongst the blustery April showers; the sharp tingle of green life just waiting to explode in a riot of leaves and flowers and the buzzing of busy insects. The bees have come out of hibernation and are looking for places to nest, lumbering around in that comical, ungainly fashion they have, as if slightly drunk or still half-asleep.

And at the Cake Stop Bar and Grill, eager cyclists look forward to the coming season, a season during which ever more faces will come to this most hallowed of territories to discuss which saddle is best for a member of the Intrepid Sorority, especially on Thursdays; the rescuing of orphaned animals; who has the worst job; how to get a Campag rear mech to run on a Shimano block; and of course whether speed kills and if people should be forced to wear helmets.

Some things never change. Anyone for a Garibaldi?

*   *   *

Clare has opened a book on how long the latest foray into the inevitable debate about whether speed kills will last before the first insult is hurled. Most people seem to be going for around page 6, and it's already on page 4. There is also a busy discussion ongoing about the proposed compulsory helmet bill.

Up on the noticeboard, next to Pingu's petition to stop the Canadian pinniped cull, the date of the start of the Great Relay is posted in big, red letters, and occasional spontaneous clumps of discussion will break out as people try to work out how the handover will work. Time is also ticking onwards to the Dunwich Dynamo and several people are starting to worry about their fitness. Terry is busy trying to drum up as much support for his Guide Dogs challenge as possible and the jar on the counter is starting to look reasonably heavy.

Yenrod is giving cause for concern. He is sitting by the giant aspidistra, the one known as 'Uncle', and is eating Nutella from the jar with his fingers. His pupils are dilated and he is making even less sense than normal, but as he is not hurting anyone and doesn't seem to be about to turn violent, the general consensus is just to let him get on with it until he either feels like talking about it or returns to what passes for normal in Yenrod-country.

Bardsandwarriors has re-appeared after a brief absence caused by moving house and losing his connection to the Štheric world in which Cake Stop exists. B3 is worrying about what is in the dried fish food he feeds his goldfish. The pixie-eared Chuffy has been having trouble tuning in to Radio 6 on the infernalinterweb and there was a brief moment of panic when it appeared that Chap magazine, that most excellent publication for right thinking gentlemen, had vanished. Fortunately, it was quickly rediscovered, the concern had merely moved to a more prominent address, as is right and proper.

The lovely and heroic Mrs Pike, having come out in the top few contenders in Tristram's "Miss C+" competition, has taken delivery of a new bike, and some of the members of the Intrepid Sorority, having named themselves "Babes on Bikes" in a fit of devilish mischief while flirting with another establishment, are idly planning a full meet of the Sorority in order to christen the new steed with full and proper ceremony. The fair maiden Kitzy has also taken delivery of a new steed, although in her case she travelled many leagues hence to the fabled stud at which it was bred, and rode it home with her young gentleman friend Bomber Castle to provide knightly escort against the dangers of the road.

Withers is still hanging around, despite the sad announcement that he is to leave the C+ turf for a galaxy far, far away, where he will no longer be dealing with transmission reviews and which is the best lock, but rather with matters for more offworldly, probably involving gruesomely misshapen foreheads, alien nymphomaniac space tottie and blue skin.

Redshift has offered to help redecorate and is even now ensconced with artist's materials producing a design to grace the wall. There is some discussion ongoing about the rumour that the C+ crew is going to deputise some of the Cake Stoppers and turn them into a secret police force. This is making some people quite cross, despite assurances that it wouldn't be some form of secret police.

Pbiggs is offering the usual advice on overhauling Campag Ergos and Ravenbait is crowing, appropriately, as she had placed an order for some replacement pads for her Met Stradivarius, and received a prompt email informing her that they had been shipped a mere 30 minutes later.

All in all, things are good in the Cake Stop. There are no serious fights ongoing, everyone is getting on relatively well, and nothing catastrophic has happened in a little while. The Marine Mammals Defence Fund has even agreed to stop sending them threatening letters about FatBloke without him having to produce a blood sample to prove that he wasn't a whale.

In Cake Stop terms, this is a time of heavenly, peaceful bliss and contentment.

Of course, it cannot last. Otherwise, noble reader, there would be no story.