Susan the Biplane made an approximate landing and the Wabbit and Lapinette lurched out. A skeleton lay across the doorway. "Its bones have bleached in the sun," murmured the Wabbit. "Look!" said Lapinette. A familiar figure sauntered from the doorway. "Wabsworth!" yelled the Wabbit. "What are you doing in these parts?" said Lapinette. "How did you get here?" asked the Wabbit. Wabsworth stopped and spread his paws wide. "I was just doing a small experiment in our shed - and there was a sudden flash." The Wabbit gave a snort. "Any models involved?" Wabsworth was an android and not given to much emotion. But on this occasion he tapped into his 'surprised' algorithm. "As it happens, yes - there were models involved. Kendall Jenner came round for a cup of tea." He laughed in a silly way. The Wabbit and Lapinette figured the event had gone to Wabsworth's head. Lapinette placed her paws on her hips. "What about the skelingtron?" she asked. "I've no idea, he doesn't say much." The Wabbit jumped forward, reached behind Wabsworth and pressed a button that Wabsworth kept very secret. He shook his android head. Even a partial reset was hard on his system. "Where the binky am I?" He looked down and saw the skeleton. "Ah! I do recall," he said. He looked at the Wabbit. "He's from the ghost train." Lapinette jumped up and down. "So what's inside that building?" Wabsworth gave a snort. "An Amusement Park."
The Wabbit and Lapinette looked in awe. Lapinette scrambled onto a wing tip and looked down. The Wabbit shuddered. "I wish you wouldn't do that." Lapinette wrapped her legs round the struts. "Perfectly safe," she said. Susan the Biplane sniggered and looped around. "Whoah," said the Wabbit. He was reminded he hadn't had much for breakfast. "I see skelingtrons," said Lapinette. The Wabbit ignored Lapinette's mispronunciation because, sure enough, a couple of skeletons were lying face down at what looked like entrances to a strange building. "This looks like a model," observed Lapinette. "Big for a model," said the Wabbit. "Maybe it's a full-size model," chuckled Susan. The Wabbit mulled that over. "Can you have a full-size model?" The Wabbit craned her neck around to see more. "Yes, you can if it's made of a different material. The Wabbit shook his head. "Look for a place to land, Susan." Susan checked it out. "There's a place where I can land but I might roll over that skeleton." "He won't mind," said the Wabbit. Lapinette scrambled back into the cockpit. "We've had to deal with skelingtrons before, remember?" The Wabbit gently guided Susan in. "I was expecting an uneventful trip." Lapinette hummed a tune. "You wouldn't like it." Susan dipped her wings. "He never likes anything, does he?" Lapinette nodded her head in agreement. "Except Prosecco and a salad sandwich."
The Wabbit and Susan the Biplane flew in over Eur and picked up Lapinette. It had all been arranged in advance. Susan swept down between apartment blocks in a highly illegal manoeuvre and Lapinette jumped from a balcony onto a wing. Susan laughed. "Welcome aboard, Marquesa!" Lapinette grasped a strut and scrambled towards the Wabbit. It was always windy at Eur, and it was touch and go. But Lapinette was delighted with herself and she smiled a broad smile. "Call me Madame la Dangereuse." The Wabbit threw his head back and laughed. "La belle dame sans merci!" He looked around to check for police helicopters. The skies were empty. Relieved the stunt was a success, he shook his head and set a course for downtown. "Steady as she goes Susan." Susan was appalled. "I'm not a sailing ship, Commander." The Wabbit smiled as they wheeled above Eur. "Why is it called Eur, plenty of euro here do you think?" Lapinette was quick to reply. "It's an acronym. Esposizione Universale Roma." Susan hung on a wingtip. "It looks like an exhibition all right." Lapinette was about to give a lecture on fascist and post fascist architecture but the Wabbit cut her short. "It's Italian rationalism - but that's really only a simplified neo-classicism." Lapinette hooted. "Wikipedia?" "No, I read it in a book," said the Wabbit. They flew over the Museum of Roman Civilisation. "Any sign of a bar?" Susan ignored him. "What's that over there?" Lapinette gasped. The Wabbit stared. "You don't see that every day..."
The team gathered in the porticos. Skratch was late as usual and prowled stolidly from the back. Wabsworth paused and looked on. The Wabbit had become established in the corner. Lapinette leaped out with a loving cry. "Monsieur Wabbit!" The Wabbit grinned a lopsided grin. "Zut alors, Lapinette" Wabsworth had a few words of French which he took from his universal translator. "Cou cou Lapinette. Tu es splendide aujourd'hui." Skratch was in full cat mode. "Je suis à bout de souffle," he purred. Lapinette turned and smiled. "Welcome Skratch. What was that for a sort of Adventure?" But it was Wabsworth who answered. "A repetition of subject object configurations - as perpetual becoming!" Skratch clapped but held up a paw. "Yes and the story gave freedom to a main character, the Raven. As did Edgar Allen Poe and Roger Corman." Lapinette nodded. "Perhaps our Raven was really a transformed Wizard." The Wabbit agreed. "Our Raven was a milder character than usual, but he concealed something. I've no doubt we'll find out more in due course." Skratch leaned back. "Like Goddard, you treat mainstream as a conceptual property store to be looted at will." Lapinette grinned broadly. "Perhaps the Wabbit also employs derive or detournement." The Wabbit fell about with laughter. "I'd say we did that a lot - as a deliberate policy. And we refuse to be bound by any rules." Wabsworth was most amused. He waved both paws. "Is there any rule about Prosecco?" Lapinette hooted. "Buy as much as you can."
[I'm indebted to Peter Wollen for his 2002 essay on Godard, republished by Verso.]
The Wabbit and Lapinette were at the bottom of the stairs. "Look up," said a voice. There was the Raven, wings outstretched. He was lodged in the window glass and he hung there happily. "I hope you enjoyed your stairway tour," he cackled. Lapinette smiled. "It was you all along?" The Raven shook his head. "No, no, no. Every tour is different. I am like all birds - merely the carrier of messages. What happens to you is entirely yours to discover and interpret." The Wabbit didn't grumble. "Is there a charge for the tour?" The Raven gave small series of sounds indicating approval. "Nothing fixed. Perhaps you could delve in your fur and see if you a have a pair of internal circlip openers." The Wabbit had a rummage. "They're in my workshop. I'll pick you up a pair at the Dora Market on Sunday." The Raven snickered. "Just leave them by the stairs." Lapinette knew that ravens had a reputation for building things. "I know where I can get a whole set." The Raven nodded again, grinned a kind of a grin. "Be seeing you!" Then he melted into the glass. The Wabbit narrowed his eyes. "Did all that really happen? he asked. Lapinette thought for a moment. "It's a coded message and I think I know what it means." The Wabbit's ears twitched. Lapinette waved her paws. "Always always take the lift."
When it happened, it happened quickly. The found themselves pushed over the balustrades by a massive force. They turned head over heels - and tumbled from the rails. The Raven flew after them. He grew to extraordinary proportions and spread his wings to stabilise their fall. "Hold on, I'll get you," he shouted. But the Wabbit and Lapinette had nothing to hold on to. Caught in an invisible force, they were buffeted back and forward. Then everything froze. The Raven too was caught in the jowls of whatever it was. He tried to move his wings but they were stuck fast. "This is unusual," said the Wabbit. Lapinette was upside down and she looked around. "Wabbit, it doesn't matter what way we look, it's all the same." The Wabbit would have nodded but couldn't. "It's an optical confusion." Lapinette corrected him. "An optical illusion." "Same difference," said the Wabbit. He tried to shrug but it was impossible. Then Lapinette began to intone a verse in a voice as deep as a thousand oceans. "Music of sombre motion. Break the spell's Power and bid the spirit fly, who has come near to dwell with us." They were suddenly free of whatever held them - but they were still falling. The Wabbit grimaced. "I didn't know you could do spells." Lapinette stuck out her paws. "Worth a try." The Wabbit stuck out his paws too. "Abracawabra!" Much to his surprise they stopped falling and drifted towards the stairs. He laughed. "You've got it or you ain't." The Raven fluttered down too. "I thought I'd wing it!" He chuckled. But Lapinette put her paws on her hips and snorted. "Everyone thinks they're very funny."
"Ah there he is," said the Raven, "Coming from downstairs exactly as I said." The ghostly apparition moved stolidly forward. "I am Beelzebub!" he said. He took a step forward. "I am Beelzebub." he repeated. "I am cometh. For I am Beelzebub." The Wabbit paused on the stairs. "He reminds me of someone." The Raven had seen him before. "Pass foul fiend, pass." Beelzebub moved forward at a steady pace. He rounded the corner of the stairs and advanced on the Wabbit and Lapinette, one step at a time. And all the while he intoned. "I am Beelzebub, I am cometh." Lapinette's paw gripped the bannister. The Wabbit's held out a steadying paw to Lapinette. Maybe it was for his own safety. He gritted his teeth. Beelzebub faded and passed through the Wabbit as if he were nothing. The Wabbit felt icy cold and then all was gone. Left behind was an acrid sulphurous smell. The Raven chattered and croaked and that was spooky enough. "I told you. The stairs are spooky." The Wabbit turned to Lapinette. "Did you feel that?" Lapinette shivered. "I did." The Wabbit took a step forward. "May as well go on down. Is that all there is?" The Raven cackled. "Not at all. There's much worse to come." "Can you call these spirits from the vastly deep?" asked the Wabbit. "Anyone can," said the Raven. "Can you make dreadful discords too," asked Lapinette. "Aye and chattering pies," said the Raven. The Wabbit's stomach rumbled. "I knew I could smell food," he said.