I used the time to get up to date with some reading, filing, mending the car, and also — because of the new legislation — to register Pickwick as a pet rather than a wild dodo. I took him to the town hall where a veterinary inspector studied the once—extinct bird very carefully. Pickwick stared back forlornly, as he, in common with most pets, didn’t fancy the vet much.
‘Plock—plock,’ said Pickwick nervously as the inspector expertly clipped the large brass ring around his ankle.
No wings? asked the official curiously, staring at Pickwick’s
slightly odd shape. „He’s a Version 1.2.,‘ I explained. ‘One of the first. They didn’t get the sequence complete until 1.7.’
‘Must be pretty old.‘
‚Twelve years this October.‘
‘I had one of the early Thylacines,’ said the official glumly ‘A Version 2.1. When we decanted him he had no ears. Stone deaf. No warranty or anything. Bloody liberty. Do you read „New Splicer“?
I had to admit that I didn’ t.
„They sequenced a Stella Seacow last week. How do I even get one of those through the door?
‘Grease its sides?’ I suggested. ‘And show it a plate of kelp?’
But the official wasn’t listening; he had turned his attention to the next dodo, a pinkish creature with a long neck. The owner
caught my eye and smiled sheepishly.
‘Redundant strands filled in with flamingo,‘ he explained ‘I should have used dove.‘
‘Version 2.9?’ ,
‘2.9.1, actually. A bit of a hotchpotch but to us he’s simply Chester. We wouldn’t swap him for anything.‘
The inspector had been studying Chester’s registration documents.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said at last, ‘2.9.1s come under the new Chimera category.‘
‘What do you mean?‘
‘Not enough dodo to be dodo. Room Seven down the corridor. Follow the owner of the pukey, but be careful; I sent a quarkbeast
down there this morning.‘
I left Chester’s owner and the official arguing together and took Pickwick for a waddle in the park. I let him off the lead and he chased a few pigeons before fraternising with some feral dodos who were cooling their feet in the pond. They splashed excitedly and made quiet plocl plock noises to one another until it was time to go home
Excerpt from Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair