Next morning Dyspepsia felt they had to do something. She phoned up the power company and booked an appointment to see the company director.
Now the director was a very busy man. At first he wasn’t going to be bothered with one little girl and her cat. But when he heard the cat was Spookie, and the little girl was Dyspepsia, he agreed to give them half an hour of his precious time. He even cancelled an important meeting just to be free to talk to them. It was the meeting to arrange the staff Christmas party—which shows how impressed he was with his little visitors.
Dyspepsia and Spookie went along to Ashbrooke geothermal power station, where they were shown into a big plush office. The director sat behind an enormous rosewood desk with nothing on it but a lava lamp, which of course never got turned off. The receptionist pulled up two chairs to the desk for Dyspepsia and Spookie to sit on. The secretary brought a coffee for the director, and cans of Dr Pepper for Dyspepsia and Spookie.
“I hope you’re pleased with all that free electricity you’re generating,” Dyspepsia said.
“Why not?” replied the director. “Zero carbon emission. No nuclear waste. Not even windmills to spoil the view. It’s all clean green energy.”
“There’s nothing clean or green about a black hole,” Spookie said.
“Black hole?” The director suddenly looked alarmed. “Where?”
“Right under our feet. Eating away at the Earth from the inside. It’s where all the heat is coming from, which you’re turning into electricity. In a hundred years the whole earth’s going to disappear in a huge ball of fire.”
“A hundred years?” the director said, relaxing visibly. “That’s a long way off yet. Meanwhile let’s enjoy the free electricity it’s making for us. Or would you rather go back to burning coal and oil, polluting the atmosphere?”
Spookie said, “Don’t you care that the earth isn’t going to be here in a hundred years?”
“Nothing’s going to happen in my lifetime. Or yours.”
Dyspepsia stood up and stamped her foot. “That is a very bad attitude. What about the tigers? What about the poor polar bears?”
“What about them?” said the director.
“They’ve been around for fifty million years. Another hundred years—is that all they’ve got?”
“Well, if you say so…”
“We can’t let this happen!” said Spookie, letting her voice go a bit too loud. “It’s poor custodianship of the planet.”
“That’s not my department,” replied the director. “Isn’t it important to keep people’s fuel bills down too?”
Spookie didn’t care about people’s fuel bills. “We’ve got to get that black hole out from under here!”
“However are you going to do that? It’s huge—and getting bigger all the time.”
“We’ll nuke it. We’ll put it in a rocket and we’ll shoot it out of the solar system. We’ll…”
“What? And then there’ll be no more free electricity?” The director looked shocked. “I really can’t allow that to happen.”
Dyspepsia said “Your (hem-hem) ‘free’ electricity is going to cost the Earth in the end!”
She got up and walked out of the office and Spookie followed her out. They were getting nowhere with the director. They’d have to find someone else who could help.
Now Dyspepsia, you’ll recall, has four phone lines installed in her bedroom. They end in four pretty-coloured phones on the wall. All that afternoon Dyspepsia and Spookie sat on the bed with a phone in each hand. While they waited for one phone to be answered, they dialled someone else.
The upshot of their phone-a-thon was to learn that the British government stood firmly behind the energy company, as they always did. Free electricity meant they didn’t have to pay Winter Fuel Allowance to old folk any more, which meant they had lots more money to pay interest to the bankers for all the money they’d needed to take from the Treasury to bail out the banks in the first place.
After a nice man from the Treasury had patiently explained to Dyspepsia that this all made good sound economic sense, she put down the phones she had in each hand and gave a big sniff.
“Isn’t there anyone else we can talk to?” said Spookie.
Dyspepsia blew her nose. Once more, with a determined look on her face, she picked up one of the phones.
“Is that the White House? Could you please put me through to the President?” she said. And then she burst into tears.
A familiar voice came on the line. “Hush now, Honey, why the tears?”
Now President Lacey Lee and Dyspepsia had become firm friends, ever since helping her to dig up the Monstosaurus, which had resulted in the USA getting its very own Monstosaurus skeleton. It had cemented the Special Relationship—and a few other things besides.
Getting straight to the point, Dyspepsia explained that there was a black hole sinking down towards the centre of the Earth, and it needed getting out before it swallowed the whole planet, as it would in a hundred years’ time.
Meanwhile it was making a lot of heat which the British were using to generate free electricity, so the power company was determined to do all it could to stop the black hole being got out. And the British government wasn’t prepared to do a thing to help.
Now Lacey Lee was a far-seeing president, which is why the Americans had elected her. Straightaway she grasped that this wasn’t just Britain’s problem. The whole world was at risk—and that meant the USA too. Which goes to show how quickly President Lacy Lee cottoned-onto things. Far quicker than Congress did.
The nation had been around for over 200 years, and it disturbed her to think that it wouldn’t be here in another 100. Nor would anywhere else, for that matter—though most Americans wouldn’t shed many tears about that. Only those who’d been abroad on vacation.
“I’ll phone you back in an hour,” she said. And she was as good as her word. In that time she’d done some phoning around of her own.
Now when you’re the President of the United States, you can pick up the phone and talk to anyone you like—and they’ll have to make time to listen to you and give you the best of their advice. And if they don’t know the answer to your question, they’ll suggest someone else who might. So in an hour President Lacy Lee could get the answer to any question you’d care to ask—and get it from the one who knows. Plus charging all the phone calls to the taxpayer.
“Leave it with me,” the President said, “and I’ll have something done about it first thing tomorrow. This is an open line so I can’t tell you what. It has to be a big secret. Trust me.”
It was a much happier little girl that went to bed that night. But Spookie wasn’t quite so happy. She couldn’t help wondering just what it was the President had in mind to do. And just who it was she’d found to tell her how to get rid of a troublesome black hole.
Because, as far as Spookie knew, there was only one person in the whole world who could do that. And, as she told Dyspepsia, she wasn’t in a hurry to talk to him again.
…to be continued.