Vetinari was skipping down the high street, with a wicker basket slung over his left arm, in which was a large pale napkin. He passed C.M.O.T. Dibbler selling his usual contraptions and wares, and passed the large coffee shop large enough to accommodate wizards, especially since after the Dean left for Pseudopolis he'd freed up four seats.
With ankles twinkling, he skipped round a street lamp covered in dog shit and smeared with troll vomit—he'd seen it out the carriage window the other day—and drew—again, with a talent he'd lacked—with magic hairy balls of coloured octarine and bright rainbow light: first a ribbon, second a blade, and third the Assassins' Coat of Arms, all in art Nouveau aux Quirm.
He passed pastarias and bakeries, seamstresses and nuns, watchmen and camera dudes, wait, what was that last one—!?
He turned, cloak swirling in the city smog and fumes. The cloak made it easier to breathe, not cough for a moment.
But the camera dude was gone, back to the realms of dreaming and subconscious.
Vetinari, except he was Havelock in his head, shook his head and travelled on further up the hill in Ankh, dancing on the river bed like it was hard crusty shit, and tapdanced in his head, twirling, arms outstretched, on the glittering black and white lighted clackstowers messages, flying through the air… like…
A zebra crossing, supplied his residual mind, subconsciously. You don't remember?
Ah, yes. The reports from Roundworld. Very interesting. Also, sounding highly illegal for package holidays, except there was a very faint octarine line where the wizards hung back.
They didn't interfere with The City, and he didn't interfere with their sourcery-created universally non-magical spherical world.
Vetinari shook 'work, filed magical' from his mind, and grinned. He'd spotted a good crowd.
He strolled over and flipped his robes over his head, put his hand down his pants and whipped out his cock. The daydream crowd oohed and aahed in amazement at his one sole remaining ball.
"Sir?" asked one pleb. "Make I touch it?"
"Yeah," said another. "I wanna make it wobble."
Vetinari withstood the groping crowd enthusiastically.
"Now, now, my fellow citizens, one each, one each. Now can I buy—" he whipped around "—some Quirmian, not French, whipping cream?"
"Over here, sir." A good woman who looked like Jools and behaved like Glenda Sugarbean whispered in his ear.
He briefly forgot what was said, but knew where to go. He looked at maps of Ankh-Morpork almost every day on the desk, but had to hide them tucked under a cushion to appear omniscient.
He's doing it again! complained a short voice. He's changing places!
Vetinari sat down in his office, and withdrew a short pole from under the infinitely fun space under his desk, and prodded the curtains closed which were strangely close-by. There were always close-by, when visible or needed.
Vetinari—outside of his head—rubbed his temples, and thought longingly of pillows. He'd found in the past that paper came in different political weights and were measured by static decorum. He briskly stacked the already stacked piles before him.
"Hmm," he hummed through his lips. His beard vibrated and he started to laugh.
"Sir?" Drumknott pushed open his door—it swung both ways. He was carrying more, and set it on the desk.
"I haven't finished the last lot," complained Vetinari patiently. "See? The piles wobble so."
"No, sir," said Drumknott. "They're strangely stacked. There should be able to fan up and down the sides, and they're not." He demonstrated. "Hmm. Some can fan."
"So it seems. I appear to have learnt your filing techniques."
A man who never appeared pained, nor troubled by headaches, said quietly, "Sir?"
Take your shirt off! Vetinari commanded in internal dialogue. To the Stripper Guild theme song, he pushed Drumknott to the desk, and opened his jacket and flies.
"What do say to a little game, hmm?"
"I-I don't know, sir." Drumknott wriggled on the desk, like a Dark Clerk pinned by an avid stamp collector. Vetinari ripped open the shirt, buttons popping off in a crescendo, and plant sloppy kisses onto Drumknott's small pert nipples.
"Well?" Vetinari sounded distracted, to himself. "What did I just say?"
"The fanning techniques," offered Drumknott, bending over the desk to demonstrate again. "There's at least ten different methods, the first being—"
Vetinari moved Drumknott onto his stomach, shoving off piles of paperwork like decades. He flipped up the man's plain robe, and hauled down Drumknott's leggings and starched drawers.
He licked his fingers and—
I don't joke, said a voice, I never auctioned for this! Lady, I beg you, please let me go, I don't do anal.
—drove his tongue into Drumknott's ass-cheeks. He rimmed the man until he was sore and squirming for relief.
Meanwhile, Drumknott moved onto the second filing fanning technique.
In his head, it all went dark. Sudden slimy rain dashed against the glass windows. The sky darkened, and turned red to purple.
Vetinari turned round and daydream!Drumknott was gone. Leonard's secret passage door had swung open and a new Dark Clerk equipped with a bowler hat entered the Oblong Office.
"Sir?" he asked. "We have an emergency, and Drumknott needed to leave."
"To retrieve his pencil?" Vetinari inquired, rubbing his arse. He could see himself from the outside, like in memory sometimes.
"No, no," said the man/person/woman/winged thing…
Vetinari found himself in his own head, looking out of his own eyes, face-to-face with an angel, the type found in Cori Celeste.
He thought back to Roundworld suddenly, and the angel steepled its fingers.
"Well?" it said. "Sorry are we?"
"For what?" asked Vetinari. "What, may I enquire, is going on?
"I'm daydreaming!" yelled Havelock Vetinari, pinned to the wall by a fiery trident.
"DON'T DO ANAL WITHOUT PERMISSION!" screamed the angel in his face. "It's not on contract. You agreed with Hughnon Ridcully to worship Saponaria in the bath. We allow wanking and occasional peeing, especially in the infirm—"
Vetinari remembered the pain in his leg avidly. "Ow."
"—we do bubble bath, we do frothy magic, we do a wide range of farting bubbles and nice pleasant smells, and occasionally fish out the odd bit of fluff. We do not support this level of perverse habit-forming!"
"But I'm daydreaming," explained Havelock. He recovered. "You don't cover that. Only bathing."
The angel flipped its wings haughtily over its shoulders. They shone, like hair.
"Darling, we do anything that you can dream of. You should be dreaming of nice warm baths and bedding habits snuggling up to a fellow worshipper of Saponaria."
Vetinari tried to stop daydreaming, but it was a very interesting daydream, and he'd quickly spotted the trap wire stuck to his leg. It looked deadly.
"That thing? It's a plughole. Don't drain it."
It's a trap, said Vetinari's subconscious voice that more often on occasion said extremely rude things like 'We need lube for that' and 'What's a sonky?'
Then everything would be interrupted by Drumknott, or work, or someone else not as boring.
If he strained, he could still hear him: "—it's better, sir, if you stayed awake, but I was told the best way to conduct the eighth techni—"
Eight, said Vetinari quickly in his head. Dark shadows crept across the floor and leapt out of ceiling corners and spread from Leonard's open door. Vetinari, still from the outside, stood on the desk.
Havelock Vetinari looked down. He hadn't moved as there was trap wire round about his leg. But… a very pale white hand held his cane and he moved his very white fingers.
He thought briefly about ghosts, and souls, and what zombies said, and—
—he wondered where Discworld daydreaming, and night-dreaming, took place, and for the first time, how?
Somewhere, Drumknott wasn't behaving like Lupine Wonse and trying to hoist him with the Dark Clerks off to bed, any bed they had free as they couldn't open his door and the secret passageway was still unknown, and—
"TREMBLE BEFORE THE MIGHT OF Saponaria!" screamed the angel. It looked smug. The faint odorous smell of deitium, slightly wetter than the smell of vampires, reached Havelock's nostrils.
He couldn't help it. With his free hand, he cupped his chin and found his face hairless and with no head-hair.
"What am I?" he asked.
The angel glared at him. "A chess piece," it said.
"So the Gods do play games," mused Havelock. "When it's not chess, then what am I?"
The angel shrugged. These must be usual priestly questions, except the Palace spies hadn't reported the answers back to Havelock yet. Usually, he remembered everything.
"Human," it replied. "White, like all humans are on the inside. And scared, and so you should be because I had to summon Lady Saponaria to block out your number seven plus one."
"Ah, eight," said Vetinari.
The angel screamed. A dozen more trident carriers zapped into what now may be a type of arena.
Vetinari remembered tentacles.
Don't mention tentacles! said his subconscious voice, the feminine one. We had all that trouble with those Moving Pictures. You were a wreck for days!
Remember when he wanted to dream about what happened to that Fish Takeaway. Hong, something?
Vetinari became aware of his own breathing, and like all humans, kept it going. He tried huffing into the air around him, but no vapour appeared in the growing cold.
He's panicking again, said his own demented head-voice. Go get help!
Can he really hear us, d'you think? asked another voice. It sounded a lot like daydream!Vimes.
Something clicked in Vetinari's head. Angels, angels, angels, he thought.
I could get my old suit out, said daydream!Leonard doubtfully. He's never been this religious. I'm sure the wings will still work. I made a very good angel two centuries before.
I used to be a nurse, said daydream!Wonse; it never sounded nor behaved anything like him, but had his hairstyle and shoes correct.
How does he know he looks white? asked a new voice. He's bloody sweating like a pig in heat down there. It's not like he's dying from a heart-attack.
Nightmare, suggested the nurse.
Vetinari had a strange sensation that his daydreams were populated by the deceased. It was getting rapidly embarrassing, especially what he did with the whipped cream earlier.
And, oh gods, the one who wouldn't do anal, which started all this trouble.
"May I apologise?" he asked quickly.
His angel glared at him. The ones at the back with tridents were pointing them at the glowing darkness.
"Providing you don't invoke the number seven plus one, you may."
"May I apologise to Saponaria and the, um, my daydream, um, staff?"
He knows?! shouted one subconscious voice. How does he know?!
He said 'staff', not scene makers, not backdrop decorators, not make-up artists, or auctions, or extras, or…
The feminine voice trailed off. Does he mean managers? I'll get in trouble with my supervisor.
"The angel wishes it to be known that Lord Havelock Vetinari wishes to apologise to Saponaria in a very private audience."
Whose? asked a daydream voice. Vimes? It'll all be about catching criminals.
The angel removed its trident from the wall, and Vetinari felt the trap wire unwind. It took over forty seconds.
It leaned forward, golden wings outstretched, and enveloped him. The light and breeze changed, and next Vetinari found himself standing on a black perspective grid with pale gold gridlines.
To the left, on the very edge of hearing, a grunt occurred, and a short white dwarf statue rose as if picked up in the air, and landed three tiles ahead.
Vetinari was subtly disappointed. He expected an audience, a bold reaction not this shiver, and the dwarf person-piece to be slid underneath as dwarfs preferred.
It couldn't be that hard to stick us on with magnets, he thought.
Then he himself was plucked into the air by large golden digits and the floor sunk into a black well of depth and darkness and he flew open-mouthed in a 'diangular motion' yet straight ahead, two squares. He landed, and used his cane for support.
His gold square outline flared.
"Vetinari, placed!" cried a masculine voice.
Opposite, a white troll-piece was catapulted into the air in a queen-like chess move out of sight.
"Illegal move!" someone intoned. "Vetinari's head turned. He's here, watching the board."
There was a godly murmur from an unseen audience. He was in a box of some kind, next. The nearby person-piece looked a lot like that wizard Rincewind, who was seized next.
A white-silver checked door opened grandly far above his head; light swept in door-height to floor. There was a demon in the door, holding a triangular device in one hand that wizards kept in their museum.
Vetinari repressed a shudder. Captain Carrot had been very enthusiastic that day on their dual afternoon off.
The demon approached, and Vetinari was forced onto one knee. Fortunately, the other didn't ache.
She pressed a button, and nothing tangible happened. He half expected her to keeping whacking the device against her thigh, but by the second time, she had it working.
"Darn thing," she muttered.
Suddenly, Vetinari was terrified. It was like being threatened again, by Vimes, drunk and waving a Klatchian scimitar.
"Anal sin," beeped the device.
"And what do you plead?" said the demon.
"Not guilty," said Vetinari promptly. "Though I may need less frothier bubbles next time as it's hard to find the soap."
The demon peered at the device. "Anal sin through daydreaming, non-consenting sex," she said, "whatever will these darn people utter next?"
We've had a whip-round, said Vetinari's head-voices. We could pay the fine, but Havelock will have to… pay later… once dead.
The demon shook her head ruefully. "I don't think," she began, "that would work. He's political friends with the undead."
"Ah, Lady Margolotta," said Vetinari, stroking his bea—chin. It was an odd texture, but at least his hand didn't go through his head like a ghost.
"Many deplorable people."
"Not really. It's modern life." He noticed her expression. "Multicultural city, uh, life."
For once he was stumped. Thoughts usually came fast and furious. He blamed his terror… and awe, as he was supposed to have around the gods, demons, or angels.
Here it is, said a voice from inside his chest, and a flat paper contract whirled out from under his armpit. If he signs here, and a glitter pen arrived, we'll talk to you later, much, much later.
"Very well," said the demon in a voice that implied you subconsciouses are weird. "We'll cover it with Saponaria later. She's not that used to very highly political—and famous—men."
Vetinari grinned, mostly in terror. He signed the contract, it left with the demon, and he arrived back in his office, still stained black on the floor and near Leonard's door;belting rain still lashing against the window panes.
Then Vetinari reached under the yawning gap under his desk for the familiar curtain pole, lo behold, the curtains opened! He walked over and closed them manually, one pair by one. When he reached Leonard's door, he tapped it shut, half-expecting black wet paint to stick to his fingers. It didn't, and his hand looked its usual pale peachy-pink.
Illusioned on, he thought. All daydream is nought but a mirage.
Then he thought, perhaps they can only play with us, me, when we're distracted daydreaming…
The thought of private daydreams being available to the public masses, once dead, was a disturbing and embarrassing sensation. Even when he was dead, he wasn't sure if he would like watching or acting in the daydreams of the living, though it would explain why angels and demons appeared a lot in night!dreams.
He sat back at his desk, and returned the curtain pole prop. The curtains disappeared, and he woke…
Someone, definitely not Drumknott, but someone he had summoned, had thoughtlessly wedged a tight cushion under the side of his head as a pillow atop a shallow pile of paperwork he'd been working on.
He turned his face into the cushion, and blinked.
Then he touched the back of his head, and felt a cap, and underneath hair, which felt reassuringly real.
He dangerously thought about Roundworld, where the Gods didn't exist and nor did an afterlife. That universe lacked a lot of necessary elements, even magic, slood and fingles.
He even wondered if people who resided there would put him up in a hotel for a few weeks to recover.
"Havelock, I think that's a very unwise idea," said Mustrum Ridcully. He had a suntan, and students were walking in and out of a portal hooked up to a certain year-date on Roundworld. Most looked happier than when they'd left.
Vetinari ignored him. He was still shivering despite the brandy. "Why ever not?"
Ridcully slapped him on the back. "Cheer up. This sort of thing happens to Rincewind all the time! Where is he?"
"Back on the chessboard," muttered Vetinari. "We switched places."
Ridcully murmured into his ear, "You didn't invoke Seven A too many times, did you?"
"Not at all," said Vetinari despondently. "Actually, I mentioned it twice."
"Ah," said Ridcully, and stroked his beard.
He came to a conclusion, and turned to the Hex team. "Find somewhere nice and quiet, you chaps." He glanced at Vetinari. "Somewhere city-like in the future, off the map."
Vetinari darted through the portal faster than Ridcully thought he was capable of. He stopped. Birds were singing, the large town below them on the hill was busy, and those quick transport cars were operating up and down the road.
A big double decker mechanical bus approached. A wizard student gave Ridcully a lot of money notes and coins, and Ridcully yanked Vetinari towards the bus stop, which was strangely legible in Ankh-Morporkian. It read: 'Towards Blackberry High Street'.
There was a bench that they sat down on together. Vetinari resisted the urge to swing his legs. One leg, the injured one, started to go stiffer without divine intervention, so-o, it had worked. There was freedom of daydreaming time, and the freedom of thought, and the freedom of speech.
And freedom from the oppression of the Gods.
Vetinari got off the bus through the middle doors and stopped. There were holographic posters plastered across the theatrical doors advertising various 'films'. He turned to Ridcully.
"Mustrum?" he said, raising an eyebrow. "Tentacles don't happen here, or do they?"
Ridcully handed Vetinari some popcorn. They'd managed to find a film that wasn't sci-fi, chick-flick, slapstick, or surreal. It required subtitles, and looked interesting.
It was based on a book, and as Margery Dawes had been a librarian she may have had read it. Half the audience was empty, and stayed empty. The sound was very loud and very bright, and that was just the adverts and film trailers.
Vetinari was still unsure how Roundworld had coped with all those superheroes' problems, the bombs, the warfare… oh gods, some sort of zombie plague, and a tidal wave…
Perhaps it wasn't a good idea to stay in a hotel after all. The world looked horribly cliche and dangerous and extremely real.
The crime thriller was good, though. It left him with ideas.
He'd left Ridcully shouting at the students through the portal about elves in L-space.
Vetinari was surprised, within his head, that his office was still dark around the edges, but his desk was in black and white, predominately white. With a single thought, he reached under his desk for a shopping basket, but the chair disappeared. It was the same basket, but it seemed without magic or deitium or whatever was used (or whoever), props were limited.
His curtains showed up in colour, brighter than he normally had them, then disappeared at will.
Even the Roundworld woman at the bus-stop had that glazed-over look associated with daydreaming. So… all humans had the ability, it seemed, but limited.
He couldn't fly, his clothes were static, there were no additional daydream people than one he'd visualised on the spot, but above all, it didn't feel fantastic.
He raised an eyebrow, and knew it had raised, and could tangibly feel the hair with one finger, and it seemed he had perfect control.
He had to concentrate to make phrases appear for 'fun paperwork'. The other sheets were blank, and it appeared he only…
He clicked his fingers. After all, everyone on Discworld was born with magic and he himself had a small ability. A dim pink glow appeared, and everything felt much better.
He cheered up.
You were gone a long time, complained daydream!Vimes. He was wearing an angel costume with pigeon-looking feathered wings. His wire halo was attached with a stick.
"Are you dead?" asked Vetinari.
Daydream!Vimes nodded. "Yeah, but I always supported you, and Saponaria. I'm from Dolly Sisters, and my wife here, we died together, she tucks you into a nice fluffy towel after your bath."
Vetinari glanced at daydream!Wonse. She nodded. "You look like you need feeding up," she said. "We died before those newfangled paper-sheets were everywhere, all about you." She sniffed. "You were nicer."
"Nicer before…?" Vetinari raised his eyebrow and felt ecstatic.
"You threw those priests out of a window," she said, frowning. "That's immoral. That Commander Vimes should have arrested them for you, and they should have had a fair trial."
"Yeah," said daydream!Vimes, "we like it when you dream of justice."
"We're learning new techniques," nodded daydream!Carrot happily. "I can't wait until you get Moist von Lipwig 'in the bath'."
Vetinari was speechless.
Daydream!Glenda showed up. She threw Vetinari's shopping basket at his head. "Jools can't wait until you apologise!"