The good Professor has never spoken much about his past. What little we know is to be gained from overheard snatches of late night drunken speculation between over-worked, harassed fleas and from outright gossip & lies.
He was born anytime in the last two hundred and fifty years somewhere in Europe to an aristocratic family who had not so much fallen on hard times as crushed them to death in a spectacular act of social suicide. Their reduced circumstances were entirely down to the Professor’s father, one Baron Willhelm Von Antfarmoffski, who sank the entirity of his wife’s family fortune on a doomed quest to build a giant zoological garden for insects that modelled the real world in every single detail but at the decidedly odd (and ultimately unworkable) scale of 1:23.459721. The venture left the family destitute and cast out of polite society. Indeed, they were now at the tender mercies of an exceedingly impolite society who thought nothing of shouting “Oy! Ugly!” at the poor young Headonius.
Cast adrift from the only world she’d ever known, the Professor’s poor mother went irrevocably insane within minutes and spent the next eighty years knitting at guillotines, sewing at firing squads and crocheting at stonings. She would also spit at passersby for a florin. His father fared no better, retreating into planning ever more complex versions of his ‘other world’ until his eyesight, balance and bowels went. It is, of course, ironic that the very final version of his planned world involved millions of “fleas, cockroaches and other invertebrates [utilising a] system of interconnected Babbage arithmetic calculation machines employing a Lovelace pattern to allow for the generation of […] an entirely real […] yet wholly created artificial world where said [insects] can project a new vision of their world using their imagination.” In short, he had created Insectoid Life but the world was sadly unprepared for such a quantum leap and instead threw the incontinent old goat in the debtors goal and beat him with cats until his death (some 70 years later) from “a malaise of the vapours […] and severest of cat beatings”.
Headonius was now alone in the world. His mother was still alive but far to embarrassing for a young man. Indeed she is still alive and still spitting. Devoid of a trade and loathe to do any actual work, he began to travel. It was in the course of his travels that he met the father he’d never had (although he had had a father who was, whilst insane, quite nice – what an ungrateful wretch!) in Dr Gabriel Le Ratspit, proprietor of the World Famous Ratspit Frog Circus. Under the tutorage of Ratspit, Headonius gained his Doctorage in Frog Sexing from the world feared Sorbet in Paris, Texas. He toured the globe with the Ratspit Circus and honed his showmanly craft to such a fine art that upon his deathbed, Dr Ratspit bequeathed his entire circus to his loyal apprentice. The only drawback to a successful start to his career was that the pox-addled Ratspit then shot all his frogs with his service revolver so their tiny souls could hop his own over the Stix without having to pay the Ferryman. He was tight like that. Probably some Yorkshire blood in him.
Poor Headonius once again entered the big, bad world alone (his mother is still alive, did I mention that? He never writes or call you know). This time he had a craft and means to support himself, but no frogs with which to perform. In fact, due to Mad King Bastard the Third of Belgium there were no frogs to be found throughout Europe as the Royal Fruitloop had decreed that all amphibians were causing global cooling “what with their slimy skin and bulgy eyes – yuk!” and had banned them to Russia via a series of huge frog cannons capable of propelling a hundred frogs and newts a thousand miles with one bloody great boom.
The situation looked hopeless and the professor once more began to wander aimlessly until one fateful day in Vienna (or that other one… the one with canals… you know, sounds like Vienna. Anyway, one of those two) when he wandered into a small café for a cup of the latest rage, hot dog’s blood with marshmallows and cream. Immediately something struck him. It was the door jam. He rose to his feet, rubbing his noggin (and his head) and was amazed to see people sat at tables not only drinking cups of steaming dog’s blood but also hand cranking a series of what looked like inter-connected Babbage engines utilising a Lovelace system to transport their users to a world of their imagination! His old mad dad had been right all along and now, mere days after his father’s untimely and painful cat-related death, someone was running his design in such a way as to make money from a series of inter-connected, webbed cafes. And each of the machines was capable of taking the user to a new world, a new life second to their everyday one.
The professor paid the owner, a large youth with a trainee beard and sour counternance, his five groats and began to crank his machine for all its worth. Little did he know that over-cranking one of these experimental personal computing machines could actually suck the cranker into the very net of web-like inter-connections and deposit them bodily into the second world. He soon overcame this gap in his knowledge tthe hard way and found himself in a strange new world where almost anything was possible. Except training frogs. He tried but it turned out that Lady Lovelace had a strange aversion to frogs and hadn’t written a clear algorithm for them so they were mere greenish blobs incapable of recalling the simplest of instructions. The Professor, if he was to recreate his circus in this new life, would have to look elsewhere for his performers. And then a thought struck him! If his drooling dad had been right about the Babbage machines, maybe he was right about the intelligence and circus-skills of the common flea (hereto unmentioned for various reasons which I’m sure you’ll understand and forgive to wit I've elbowed it in here, etc. et al, et tu.).
The Professor began to travel his new world (never writing to his poor old mum, not once) and seek out the very best fleas it had to offer. The rest, as they say, is history. History or Histrionics, I am fuzzy if I’m honest. The rest is one or other, you choose...
*Eight in Zodiac Series Hanging on Wall*
2 months ago