The History Of The Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company
The remarkable story of the Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company has passed so deeply into the fabric of modern popular culture that any further accounting of it would seem unnecessary.
However, as with all truly great legends, there have arisen over the years a great many myths and half-truths so far removed from the real facts of the matter as to qualify as complete fiction.
Here are some more of them.
The Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company was founded by the noted Victorian inventor and explorer Sir Robert Fortescue-Smythe, to manufacture bespoke weaponry and equipment to his rather peculiar and exacting standards.
Its work began humbly enough designing and manufacturing diving equipment for Sir Robert's increasingly fervent search for the lost continent of Atlantis. However, five years of fruitless endeavour beneath the enigmatic waters of Lake Windermere made it quite clear, even to Sir Robert, that the Company would need to diversify.
Once this Rubicon had been crossed, the Company never looked back. It went on to success after success in fields as diverse as heavy engineering, specialist military equipment, and drawing room upholstery.
Life was good at the Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company. Orders were met, clients paid up on time, and the fairy cakes in the staff canteen always had plenty of those nice little sugary bits. It couldn't last.
And it didn't.
Working alone in the private laboratory he'd built on the top floor of the Company's headquarters, Sir Robert connected a strange piece of apparatus to a high voltage power supply. The peculiar contraption consisted of wires and coils arranged about a harmonica he'd found buried beneath the sand during his recent adventures in North Africa.
It began to hum.
Actually, it began to play a medley of Bob Dylan's greatest hits, but Sir Robert couldn't possibly have known that.
Then it exploded.
This was no ordinary explosion. Oh no. The apparatus collapsed in on itself with a kind of squelch, and a sphere of silver-blue light began to expand from its centre. Sir Robert watched in horrified fascination as it engulfed the entire room, and him with it. Once he realized that he'd remained apparently unharmed, he rushed to the window and watched the sphere continue to expand from the inside. It grew silently and relentlessly until it began to slow at about a half mile radius from the laboratory.
Then it stopped.
Sir Robert took stock. Everywhere within the sphere was bathed in a faint blue light, and everywhere outside the sphere seemed frozen. A piece of paper falling to the road never quite reached it. A flight of birds hung motionless in the air. An omnibus approached a stop but never arrived. No change there then. Even postage stamps stopped going up in price.
Interestingly, if Sir Robert had been able to observe the event from outside the sphere, he might have seen a postman approaching the factory looking in confusion at where the factory gates used to be. He might have seen a baker walking along the factory road and wondering why it took him ten full minutes less to reach the corner. Space had simply folded in around the place: swallowing it up without leaving a gap.
Sir Robert span around as a new humming noise began to shake the windows.
A second sphere had begun to expand from the wreckage of the experimental apparatus. This one had more the consistency of polished glass, and contained an image of some kind within it. Sir Robert leaned forward to see more clearly.
He could see a man with long hair wearing faded blue trousers and strange shoes with the word 'Nike' written along the sides. He wore a kind of short-sleeved shirt without any kind of fasteners which bore a highly coloured image on the front with the legend 'Megadeath'. His feet were rested on the top of his desk, and he operated an odd machine which consisted of a flat array of keys on a kind of board, and a box with a glowing light coming out of it. There was the sound of gunfire and screaming, but the strange man seemed very relaxed and obviously found something quite amusing.
"Take that, Alien scum!" He shouted, with an unnervingly gleeful expression.
Sir Robert Coughed.
The strange man looked up.
"What? Not another trans-temporal gateway." He moaned. "That's the second one this week. Bloody Landlord's gonna get it this time . . ."
He reached for a device next to him and put it to his ear, then began to fiercely stab buttons on it with the other hand.
Sir Robert tapped on the glass sphere.
"If I might have a word . . ."
The next quarter of an hour was filled with a conversation between the two men, during which Sir Robert was heard to say things like:
"Oh I see - inanimate materials can pass through, but nothing living."
"What do you mean 'it's the other way round from Terminator 2'?"
The full details of this conversation need not otherwise concern the busy reader, but suffice it to say that a deal was struck. Material would pass through the gateway in both directions: a trade in goods and materials between the two temporal zones. The Company was set to sail full steam through this latest, and unexpected, reversal in its fortunes.
As long as no-one sends them any more harmonicas.
This then is the strange, multi-temporal world of the Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company.
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The Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company.
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