Chapter Six

It was old Willikins' day off, and so Sammy Vimes shuffled towards the madly-clanging front door of the Ramkin-Vimes mansion. His feet were clad in a pair of Blannick's butter-soft calf-leather house slippers, his pyjamas were Emmelina Cosmopilite couture, and he sported an apricot facial masque and a Sto Plains cucumber slice over each eye. It had been a heavy night; after his brief stroll on the catwalk, each and every one of Lady Selachii's well-heeled guests had wanted to meet the handsome male fashion model. Quite a lot of them had offered him quite large glasses of quite expensive champagne. As a result, Sammy had woken up to find a rather wan and bilious-looking figure, who had introduced himself as the Oh God of hangovers, sitting on the end of his bed sipping mineral water and leafing through Sammy's imported coach-freighted copy of 'Klatchian Vague'.

Removing the left-hand cucumber, Sammy opened the corresponding eye and pulled the door aside. Five men in rather attractive off-the-peg suits and excellent hair-dos were posing on the front doorstep. One was holding a large, cumbersome hair-styling device.


"Surprise what? And this had better be good, 'cause I don't get out of bed for less than ten thousand dollars a day."

"Surprise makeover! Not that you look like you need it. We're here for Commander Vimes."

Sammy frowned, then quickly reset his face before the apricot masque had time to crack. "I'm his - er - son. What d'you want with him?"

"We're on a mission to make him FAB! We're making over the City Watch, one tarnished copper breastplate at a time!"

Sammy shrugged inexpressively, and shuffled back up the stairs to resume communion with the Oh God. Tohm, Tehd, Jaimes, Cartson and Kyaine bounded past him down the long, expensively-carpeted hall, occasionally shuddering at the odd over-coloured tapestry and wincing over Lady Sybil's collection of glass and china dragon ornaments.

"Ten thousand dollars a day? But... what if he has to go to the privy and he doesn't have enough change?"

"Shut up, Cartson."

* * *

"HEY, TROLLS! F*** S*** UP! REVOLUTION AN' NOTHING BUT! RIOT! DON'T DIET! GET UP, GET OUT AND TRY IT!" Sacharissa Cripslock twitched the curtain aside, glancing at the scene in the laneway outside. A small group of mixed species was gathered outside the delivery door of the Bucket, waving placards and chanting. A zombie was wearing a t-shirt that said "Love Your Body The Way It Is - Dead or Alive", and three female trolls held aloft a painted banner reading "BIG IS BEAUTIFUL". She pulled the curtain closed again, looking worried.

"Mr. Goodmountain? Why are there a number of large angry people outside the door shouting impolite slogans?"

Gunilla Goodmountain, printer, stuck his head around the door of the printshop. "Um. Um, I think it's probably something to do with this." He held up a familiar bundle of papers, printed in bright colours.

"Better wossnames now?" Sacharissa frowned. "That's hardly in the best of taste. I can quite see why people are getting upset about it. Mr. Goodmountain, who sent us this to have printed in the first place?".

"I don't KNOW" said Gunilla wretchedly. "It just turned up on the doorstep a few days ago, all tied up with silver ribbon and I thought, well, the press is free for an hour or so, let's chuck it through and see if it sells any copies."

"And?" she regarded him, one eyebrow a marked half-inch higher than the other.

"Seventh impression. In five days."

Sacharissa whistled in a most unlady-like fashion. "That's a lot of copies walking out of here."

"We're making a disturbing amount of money, even with the colour printing and iconographs. And I don't know what's upsetting the crowd out there so much, it's not as though we've never printed gossip magazines before."

"Hmm." Sacharissa was leafing through the pages, her face suddenly absent.



"Do you know if we have any celery sticks?"

* * *


A tall, thin, dark-haired man in an immaculate suit went flying over the veranda roof of the Ramkin-Vimes mansion, landing with an ignominous thump in the manure pile. Two more thumps and two splashes followed in swift succession as his companions landed in the water-butt, the haystack, the cess-pool and the compost heap respectively. Jaimes clambered to his feet, struggling to brush the worst of the disgusting mess off his Manny Blannicks.

"Well, that's the last time I try to help trim *his* nostril hair."

* * *

Del woke up to an empty house. Her mother's bed was unslept-in, and the unlatched window had not been opened. Tonight was the third night of the full moon; after this things would return to normal*. She moved towards the kitchen cabinet to pull out some breakfast; if she didn't eat before going to the Watch House Uncle Nobby would nag her about vitamins, and she'd never have the strength to stand up to that Sergeant Anthracite. But as she reached for the basket of eggs, a pale blue thought popped into her head, unbidden, like her own voice speaking coldly inside her skull.

"You don't have to eat that, you know. In fact, you probably shouldn't."

That's funny, she thought. Of course I should have breakfast, if I don't then I'll...

"Lose weight. Look better. People might not hate you so much, then. It's not like you deserve anything to eat anyway, you stupid fat lump."

Feeling slightly odd, Del poured herself a glass of water instead. She sat down at the kitchen table, picked up a pen and a sheet of paper. Without ever knowing really why she was doing it, feeling almost as though something else was writing through her, she began to make a list.

Shoppinge, Lyst

Cigarets Produckt for Hair Kola (?) that is Free of Sugare Diett Pilles, available from, Cm.OT Dibbler 1 lb. Blacke Coffe Ankh-Morpork Vague, Magge Zine

* Well, as close to normal as things tended to get in a house occupied by a werewolf and a teenage half-werewolf-half-human-half-technically-dwarf-heir- to-the-city who didn't get out much.

* * *

Vimes stalked down Nonesuch Street, glowering at the new and florid evidences of stupidity popping out of the streetscape around him. From lamp- post to lamp-post above his head, two men in overalls were hanging a white- and-gold banner reading "ANKH-MORPORK FASHIONE WEEKE". Half of the shop windows were suddenly sporting emaciated-looking dressmaker's dummies set to the smallest possible measurements, draped in unusual combinations of rags, satin, velvet and lace. And a familiar-looking cart parked on the street corner had been painted overnight in strange new colours, and was incongruously decked with a massive quantity of fruit.


"Meal inna cu-up! Low killer jewel tasty treats!""

Vimes stopped, and regarded the proprietor of this new food-service enterprise. Dibbler stood behind a row of large food blenders powered by pedals sticking out of the bottom of the cart. Behind him, a short girl was peeling a massive tub of oranges, her black hair scraped back into a stupid- looking baseball cap. The acid in the fruit juice had given her a nasty rash that covered both hands and was happily eating its way up her right arm; this didn't stop her from handling the raw fruit in true C.M.O.T Dibber food hygiene style. A name tag emblazoned on her luridly-coloured 'JUICY BITS' polo shirt read "HI, MY NAME IS MARY SUE... ASK ME ABOUT OUR SUPER STRAWBERRY DELIGHT SPECIAL". She glared at Vimes with the expression of a customer-serviceperson who really wishes that the customer would bugger off.

Dibbler smiled broadly. "Good morning, Commander Vimes! For only fifty-nine pence, you too can get the convenience of a whole day's fruit in one cup! And for only a dollar extra, you get to pedal the engine that runs the blender yourself! A smoothie AND a workout all for the one price, you can't beat that! And as it's your first visit, I'll give you two extra stamps on your Customer Loyalty Card!"

"My what?"

Dibbler held out a small square of cardboard. "Every time you buy a drink, see, you get a little stamp dependin' on what kinda drink it is. A kumquat for any juice or smoothie to the value of fifteen pence or less, a pineapple for any drink to the value of thirty-five pence or less, and a little sun-shaped stamp for any Super-Jumbo-Sized Mega Juice to the value of fifty-nine pence. Oh, and if you get a half-measure of juice you get half a stamp, and any extra protein power or special Dibbler supplements gets you an extra half stamp. An' when you've collected twenty-five and a half stamps, you get..." Dibbler screwed up his face.

"I get...?" Vimes prompted helpfully.

"A free trial-sized junior helping of mountain-fresh spring water! Guaranteed 100% Ankh-free!"

Vimes shook his head and headed off down the street, his expression as sour as one of Dibbler's Super Slimming Citrus Shakes.

"C'mon, Mr. Vimes!" Dibbler shook one of the large paper cups invitingly. "Finally, fast food you don't have to feel guilty about!"

"Dibber, I'd settle for food *you* don't have to feel guilty about."

* * *

The riot outside the Bucket had grown in numbers. It was now more of a looming, muttering crowd that choked the entire delivery lane and spilled out onto Gleam Street, blocking the pub's front entrance. On a soap-box* outside the printshop's door, a young female troll had set up a loudspeaker and was ferociously addressing the crowd.

"Trolls! Humans, dwarfs, zombies, gnomes, vampires an' other friends! T'anks for comin' out today. My name's Zirconia, an' you're prob'ly thinkin' I look too young to be knowin' what I'm talkin' about, makin' a big speech at dis rally here today. But I gotta sister at home, she's too depressed to leave the house. Sits onna bed an' cries all day, won't eat or drink. She's sick, real sick. You wanna know why?"


"'Cause of readin" Zircona jerked a large, square hand towards the printshop door "dat poison dey're printin' in dere! Dat magazine, and da whole fashion industry, per-pet-u-ates impossibly narrow stereotypes of what's beautiful. It's speciesist, sexist and it's hurtin' young females all over da city!"

"Damn right!" "You said it!" Cheers and whistles erupted from the crowd.

"We got females bein' told dat dey gotta look an' act in ways dat dey just physically can't. If you troll, can't be in fashion 'cause you too big. You dwarf, can't be model 'cause you too short, an' also beards not fashion- able, 'pparently. An' even human girls, what you'd t'ink don't need to worry, are starvin' themselves and havin' dis creepy t'ing call cos-met-ic surgery, where dey get parts of demselves cut off!

Murmurs of shock and disgust ran through the crowd, even though they'd all heard the rumours about what had been going on in the backyard surgeries of the Shades.

"Dey make us feel bad about ourselves 'cause when we do, dey're able to sell us more clothes, make us pay for surgery, cosmetics an' stupid diet food! We worryin' about how we look all da time, we ain't able to focus on da stuff dat really matters. Are we gonna stan' for bein' told what we should look like by some stupid magazine?"


"Dere ARE females what're willing to resist! Trolls an' dwarfs and females of all species gotta stand up! We ain't ashamed of who we are, no matter how much da fashion industry wants us to be! So I say we trash da place! Let's show 'em what healthy, strong bodies what ain't been starved or cut up in the name of some un-att-ain-able human-centric physical ideal can do!"

The crowd moved in an ominous wave towards the printshop door.

* The mysterious, and frequently inexplicable, appearance of a soap-box, fruit-crate or other wooden produce-receptacle at any occasion where impassioned speeches protesting the status quo are to be made is a universal convention across the Discworld, and in fact has its own governing mystical being, the Soap-Box Fairy.

* * *

The tea room in the Watch House was a scene of greater than usual chaos. Anthracite and Dwarrows were comparing their 'JUICY BITS' customer loyalty cards, and arguing over whether a pineapple with a missing corner was worth more free smoothie points than a slightly squashed looking kumquat. Sergeant Morraine and Corporal Littlebottom were both resolutely cheating on the 'IS YOUR SKIN BABY-SOFT?' quiz in the latest edition of 'Vague'. Young Ironfoundersdaughter was sitting in a corner, looking pale and peaky and clutching a steaming cup of Sham Harga's midnight coffee like a lifeline to a drowning woman. Detritus appeared to be painting his nails with a small container of bubbling liquid mercury. And Nobby Nobbs and Fred Colon, both out of uniform and dressed in unfamiliarly clean and well-co- ordinated outfits, were trying to admire their reflections in the mirror on the wall. Sadly, the mirror had been hung for the benefit of Angua in the early days of the modern Watch, and was a long, thin sheet of glass mounted at a tall female human's head height. As a result, Colon was jigging from side to side in an effort to get the mirror to encompass his entire physique, while Nobby was forced to jump up and down just to catch a glimpse of the top of his head. Both were also shoving one another and loudly ordering their counterpart to clear off and stop hogging the mirror.


Vimes surveyed his command. He briefly wondered why Detritus was carrying a patent leather satchel, and why Colon's face appeared to be covered in more chocolate than was strictly usual, but decided not to pull at any loose threads lest the somewhat frayed and washed-out fabric that was the Watch at that particular moment completely unravel.

"What do we know about this thing? That it seems to be focussing mainly on young people, especially girls. That it causes people to act like id - well, even more like idiots than they usually do. That there's a riot outside the Bucket, and that's just not on, that's our bloody pub they're ripping apart. And that Angua and Carrot are out there somewhere and haven't reported back here in over twenty-four hours."

There was a worried silence, punctuated only by Nobby zhjujing an eyebrow hair that had been knocked out of place in the battle for the mirror.


"Yes, Commander?"

"In sight of these factors... as far as this goes against my better judgement... you're on the case."