TSUzie was anxious.
Toymas was here and yet Danov and Amber had not made any preparations.
Danov was ranting and raging about the disappearance of the Hot Dog Man and Amber was once again lost in the throes of creation, forming some new masterpiece in the warren that was her workshop.
“Humans are just so easily diverted from what’s really important.” She muttered to herself. “But they can always be led back to what’s important with a little help.”
Reaching into her miniature toolkit, TSUzie began the long journey to the old telephone exchange. As the doll wandered down the halls she reached into a pocket to re-read her note from Malcolm, Hamster Earl of Love. The note was on pink paper, scented with lavender. The text was in a somewhat scrawled hand using red ink. Red for romance, TSUzie thought to herself, rolling her eyes. The note read:
Squeak sniff twitch sniff twitch twitch. Eeee ee Squeak Squeaken.
“Flattery will get you everywhere Malcolm.” TSUzie laughed to herself.
As she headed deeper into the bunker the wires covering the wall fell into greater and greater disrepair, the copper showing through split and torn plastic. Walking past a set of footprints half covered in dust, TSUzie found herself following the sound of music to a large arched door, unlike the standard bulkheads.
Once inside she was standing in a forest of old fashioned radio microphones in what appeared to be a mouldering ballroom or concert hall.
At one end of the room stood a stage, where a group of rusty old robots were playing what appeared to be a muzak version of Huey Lewis and the News’ Power of Love. In front was the rustiest one of them all, trying desperately to gyrate its hips with a terrible grinding noise. Periodically it would raise a megaphone to its mouth and bellow, “THE ARMY OF TOY SOLDIERS THANKS YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE. AN OPERATOR WILL BE WITH YOU SHORTLY. YOUR CALL IS IMPORTANT TO US!”
TSUzie climbed onto the stage, unnoticed by the band. Quickly she placed a small speaker on the floor, connected to an old mini disc player.
A female voice howled through the room, silencing the band immediately.
“You have reached the Army of Toy Soldiers. I am sorry but our telephone lines are currently down for maintenance. Please try again later.”
The rusted band leader looked down at TSUzie, the creaking monstrosity towering over the small plastic doll. Silence fell.
Realising that the robot would not be instigating the conversation, TSUzie began to speak. “You have been summoned by the denizens of the Bunker. There is to be a marvellous party, and where there is a marvellous party, there must be a house band. You have a gig.”
The band leader stood up straight before turning to the rest of his band. They remained still for a long time, the only sign of activity an occasional flash of their eyes or twitch of a finger…
TSUzie had come here seeking the most experienced musicians the bunker had to offer. Since the Hold Music Robots had been playing the same gig for years now, there was nobody more experienced than they. Sure they were rusted and needed cleaning, their instruments were horrifyingly out of tune from years of neglect and their catalogue of songs eerily dated, but that didn’t make them bad. After all, experience had to count for something….
After several minutes had passed with no further reaction from the musical automatons, TSUzie started to pick up her bag and get ready to leave. She sighed and was forcing open the door to the concert hall when suddenly the band turned towards her, their right hands held to their chests, their heads upturned slightly, as if staring into a beautiful future.
With the Absinthetic Orchestra and the Hold Music Band now on board there would be such music….
The preparations were now in place for the greatest Toymas ever!
It all started the with the ghosts.
The bunker was cold and quiet, the Soldiers all asleep, or lost in whatever creative endeavour or gaming marathon they were up to at this hour. Every screen in every room suddenly flickered to life, illuminated by the image of three glowing blue translucent figures. A deep and powerful voice rang out through the tannoy system, at a volume that shook the dust from the ageing speakers.
“We are the ghosts of Toymas Past, Future and Present. The denizens of the bunker have alerted us to your lack of festivities on this fine day. Your behaviour must be corrected.”
With this a series of sirens went off, the emergency lighting triggered and the bunker was thrown into a chaos of red and orange flashing lights, safety announcements and panicking soldiers.
“THE BUNKER IS NOW UNDER LOCKDOWN. PLEASE PROCEED CALMLY TO THE MAIN MESS HALL FOR EMERGENCY BRIEFING. ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US. MAKE YOUR TIME.”
The hamsters, dropbears and assorted robots could hear the commotion from their new “party central” in the main mess hall. The ghosts had been curiously easy to bring on side once they had explained what they wanted. It was a chance for the denizens of the bunker to show the Toy Soldiers what Toymas spirit and indeed spirits were all about. Timmy scampered back and forth, rallying the troops and making sure every team knew their role perfectly.
The mess hall was a sight to behold. There was a large tree in the corner, fashioned from plumbing pipes, those little pine tree air fresheners and a huge number of real pine cones they had sourced from somewhere. For decoration, CD’s hung from every branch, shattered, molded and clipped into a dazzling array of shapes and patterns. Finally, atop the tree perched TSUzie, resplendent in a black and yellow Georgian Gown, finished off with a pair of LE wired fairy wings, their neon glow every colour of the rainbow.
Around the walls were garlands of shredded tin foil decorated with red and white behaviour alteration beans. It seemed as though the bunker’s entire store of coloured LEDs had been wired to the walls, such was the radiant glow.
Along the far wall at a sturdy table a small army of robots were cooking batches of delicious cookies, stirring vast cauldrons of hot chocolate and serving up delicious seasonal hot dogs with cranberry. One robot had painted his head entirely red, with a jaunty little green cap, akin to an enormous ripe tomato. He stood before an enormous machine into which he fed tomatoes ceaselessly, steam rising from pressurised cooking vessels and safety release valves.
The smell of all of this was tremendous. It was an olfactory cornucopia of competing odours, wafting past each other on the warm currents of air from the food vats.
Finally, standing over them all at the head of the table was the Hot Dog Man, robot 9886, his little paper hat at a jaunty angle on his shining, greasy metal head.
Silent looked on in awe, one of the first to enter.
“Well radish my turnips!”
More Soldiers began filing in, assisted in part by the robots and ghosts herding them down the corridors. With their captive audience firmly in place, the band began to play.
On stage was a horde of robots, seemingly cobbled together from at least three different bands, wielding a variety of instruments of musical destruction. They played their way through an enthusiastic, if cacophonous rendition of “Silent Night”, the sheer irony of which was causing some of the older British Toy Soldiers to fall into mild seizures.
Dr. Malice, upon recognising fellow musicians in need of a steady hand at the baton, stormed to the stage and after a brief, yet heated, dialogue with the maestro, began to conduct the band himself. The robots, programmed to follow competent leadership more or less in kind, suddenly snapped to and what was once chaos found unity of tempo and rhythm, harmony emerging from the discordant mess of mere moments previous.
Weaving its way through the lighting Rig, Major filmed the performance, seeing the potential for a bootleg Toymas album, “Live from the Digital Bunker”. The other job of the little one was to disable the smoke alarms before the inevitable explosions began.
As some of the Toy Soldiers began to tap their feet to the beats and get into the groove, the drop bears struck. Falling from the ceiling, the deadly drop bears began cramming party hats onto the heads of the trapped toy soldiers, dropping crackers and little slips of paper with bizarre, unfunny jokes inside.
I say I say I say. My dog’s got no nose.
How does he smell?
There was yelling from across the room as a couple of scouts were knocked aside by an enraged Dermut, desperate to catch Timmy, who was taunting him from the rafters.
It wasn’t long before the muffled boom of crackers being pulled began to fill the air, smoke and the stench of burnt uniform mingling with the smells of the food and drink. The party was truly underway. With Robot 345-TER tasked to wheel in the fireworks, flanked by armoured hamsters on either side and everybody equipped with their flame and impact resistant party hats, the grand finale would be sure to be a great success.
Looking down on the assembled Toy Soldiers and robots, the hamsters and drop bears, from their perches toasted each other from the tiny cups and could be heard to squeak.
Merry Toymas to us all! And to all a… Oh turnips! Duck and cover!
With that, the writer slumped over his keyboard, his pale face lit by the screen’s faint glow. Behind him stood eleven other writers, all wielding sturdy wooden paddles. One of the shorter ones, female from the vocal tone said, “It seems he is done. For his sake I hope this is up to standard.”
Dragging the now unconscious writer across the floor, they left him wrapped in a blanket in his bathroom, with a bathtub filled with coffee in the corner and a steel bucket filled with liquorice allsorts lying next to it.
It was to be a very merry Toymas indeed!