Morning had officially broken over The Facility.
“Tim and Al are here today to talk about their quest for a magic amulet,” Jeremy Kyle announced to camera.
Almost immediately upon his arrival and ages before they had time to object, he had led them through a maze of twisting corridors to a room that turned out to be the set of his popular daytime television talk show. They were now seated on uncomfortable chairs in front of an audience of ragamuffins and ne’er do wells, none of whom had anything of interest or value to say. They were totally loyal to Jeremy Kyle, and would defend him to the death if the need ever arose. He rewarded their devotion with signed photographs and free plastic tumblers of weak tea on the regular occasions when the heating broke.
“OooOooOoo,” the audience trilled in unison, which was a little unnerving.
“Why don’t you start us off, Tim?” Sir Jez suggested. “Tell us a bit about the amulet and what you want it for.”
“Oh, I don’t want it for my own personal use,” Tim said hastily, “I was trying to get hold of it before it fell into the hands of evil doers who would use its power for- well, for evil. And actually, I’m not even sure whether it’s me who was chosen to do it.”
“The prophecy is quite vague,” Al interjected helpfully, “it could just as easily be about me, or about that guy over there.” He pointed to a youngish man sitting a few rows back, who was of moderate good looks and possessed a full head of fair hair.
“It’s definitely not me,” the young man squeaked defensively, “I done quest duty last year. Fought a Lesser Spotted Snodrog and everything.”
“OooOooOoo,” the audience chorused obediently, although nary a one of them had the first idea what a Lesser Spotted Snodrog was.
“Really,” Tim said, “a fully grown one?”
“Not quite,” the audience member admitted, “it was a three quarter length one. But I sorted it right out.”
“Well good for you,” Tim said in what he hoped was an encouraging way rather than a patronizing one.
“Alright,” Jeremy shouted across them all, “alright, calm down, it is MY SHOW you know everyone, it’s called the JEREMY KYLE show, the name’s written on the wall and everything.”
“Yeah but in Comic Sans though Jez,” an overly familiar runner spoke up in an apparently temporary fit of madness.
“What did you say?” he fumed, his face turning the vibrant reddy colour of juice in a beetroot jar.
“Nothing,” the techie replied, “what? Did you say somefink Mr Kyle? Only I couldn’t hear you if you did….”
“You were making snidey comments about my font choice again, weren’t you?”
“No Mr Kyle,” he replied, “indeed I was not! The very idea is repellant to me!”
“Comic Sans,” Jeremy explained through gritted teeth, “enables me to appear young and fun, rather than the greying ball buster that TV sometimes makes me out to be. Comic Sans is the most empathetic font that there is.”
“Yes sir, Mr Jeremy, Lord Kyle, sir,” said a waitress, who shouldn’t even have been there. His anger was such that it made even innocent bystanders feel compelled to apologise for behaviour they hadn’t engaged in.
“That’s alright,” he told her condescendingly, “I’ll let you off. This time.”
“Thank you sir, you’re very kind sir,” she curtsied mimsily, backing away – although how she managed to do both of these things from her position of seated in the back row of the studio crematorium was a mystery, and would remain so for a long time.
“Anyhoo,” Kyle coughed, remembering the matter at hand as though it were a first idea goldmine. “This amulet. Where is it now?”
“Inside that dog,” Al said innocently, pointing at the dog.
Tim rolled his eyes.
“Way to announce it on national telly,” he said without moving his lips. “Now everyone and his great auntie Nellie knows where the bloody thing is. If that mutt makes it out of this place alive it’ll be a bloody miracle.”
Brian the dog whined mournfully. He was unable to link to everyone in the room telepathically, it would have been too much mental effort and he was very tired from the effort of holding in the amulet till he got to his masters.
“And what does it do?” Jeremy inquired, as if he hadn’t been keeping up with other parts of the story at all.
“We are not at liberty to discuss that information,” Al said in an attempt to redeem himself after his earlier faux pas.
“This is a talk show,” Jeremy Kyle said impatiently, “therefore people are expected to talk.”
“Well you never gave us the option of not being on your stupid show,” Al pointed out, “you offered to help us out and then brought us down here, to the cold and wet of your terrible studio.”
Jezza was incensed.
“How dare you call the program stupid?” He raged, “how dare you? It’s as intelligent and empathetic as a show can be.”
“In what way?”
“I try to help people!”
“You’re about as helpful to people as Bargain Hunt.”
Kyle thought about this for a second. He decided it was impossible to gauge what that meant. Different things to different people, most likely.
“Why don’t you stick to what you’re good at,” Al suggested, his hackles aroused. “Shout at some schemey single mums or something.”
“What a good idea,” Jeremy said with a sly grin. “Who wants to meet one of the worst mums they’ve ever seen?” He turned to the audience to enquire.
There was a cacophonous roar of applause, which he took as an encouraging sign.
“Great,” he said, rubbing his hands together in anticipation, “right. Please welcome to the stage… Bracken Lee McCracken!”