“No, we're also going to… er… take evasive action!” said Zaphod with a sudden access of panic. “Computer, what evasive action can we take?” “You press this button here you see and the screen lights up giving you the index.” “And he can't because you're lying in front of the bulldozers?” It seemed somehow unnaturally dark and silent, even for a ship whose two-man crew was at that moment lying asphyxicated in a smoke-filled chamber several miles beneath the ground. It is one of those curious things that is impossible to explain or define, but one can sense when a ship is completely dead. Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz heaved his unpleasant green body round the control bridge. He always felt vaguely irritable after demolishing populated planets. He wished that someone would come and tell him that it was all wrong so that he could shout at them and feel better. He flopped as heavily as he could on to his control seat in the hope that it would break and give him something to be genuinely angry about, but it only gave a complaining sort of creak. For a long time nobody said anything as Ford gazed at Zaphod with a mind suddenly full of worry. After a moment a voice replied, “It isn't easy being a cop!” The cop was quite clearly dead. The Guide also tells you on which planets the best Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters are mixed, how much you can expect to pay for one and what voluntary organizations exist to help you rehabilitate afterwards. The voice continued. “Yes,” said Ford and Trillian. “This is it,” said Arthur watching them. “We are now quite definitely going to die aren't we?” Trillian punched up the figures. They showed tow-to-the powerofInfinity-minus-one (an irrational number that only has a conventional meaning in Improbability physics). There was a terrible ghastly silence. “It's fantastic…” he said, and his own voice rattled his ears. Sound carried badly in this thin atmosphere. “Desolate hole if you ask me,” said Ford. “I could have more fun in a cat litter.” He felt a mounting irritation. Of all the planets in all the star systems of all the Galaxy — didn't he just have to turn up at a dump like this after fifteen years of being a castaway? Not even a hot dog stand in evidence. He stooped down and picked up a cold clot of earth, but there was nothing underneath it worth crossing thousands of light years to look at. “Well, you know, not happy as such, but…” There was a sharp ringing rap on the door. For a while the aircar flew on in awkward silence. Then the old man tried patiently to explain. As Ford gazed at the spectacle of light before them excitement burnt inside him, but only the excitement of seeing a strange new planet, it was enough for him to see it as it was. It faintly irritated him that Zaphod had to impose some ludicrous fantasy on to the scene to make it work for him. All this Magrathea nonsense seemed juvenile. Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
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“You mean,” said Arthur, trying to form the words, “you mean you're starting it all up again now?” After a moment a voice replied, “It isn't easy being a cop!” Arthur choked on his beer, leapt to his feet. “In other words,” said Benji, steering his curious little vehicle right over to Arthur, “there's a good chance that the structure of the question is encoded in the structure of your brain — so we want to buy it off you.” “According to the legends,” he said, “the Magratheans lived most of their lives underground.” “Oh yes,” said Slartibartfast. “Did you ever go to a place… I think it was called Norway?” He closed his eyes in terror. do it really. My aunt said that spaceship guard was a good career for a young Vogon — you know, the uniform, the lowslung stun ray holster, the mindless tedium…” Ford was running after him very fast. Very very fast. “You know? How do you know?” “We can see it,” said Trillian. “We didn't wake you earlier,” said Trillian. “The last planet was knee deep in fish.” “Yes,” said Ford, “except… no! Wait a minute!” he suddenly lunged across the chamber at something behind Arthur's line of vision. “What's this switch?” he cried. It seemed somehow unnaturally dark and silent, even for a ship whose two-man crew was at that moment lying asphyxicated in a smoke-filled chamber several miles beneath the ground. It is one of those curious things that is impossible to explain or define, but one can sense when a ship is completely dead. Arthur looked up. “I don't think I can stand that robot much longer Zaphod,” growled Trillian. There was a moment's expectant pause whilst panels slowly came to life on the front of the console. Lights flashed on and off experimentally and settled down into a businesslike pattern. A soft low hum came from the communication channel. “Damn their fun!” he hooted and ran out of the pub furiously waving a nearly empty beer glass. He made no friends at all in the pub that lunchtime. Benji considered this for a moment.