Mission Imp Possible
Mission Imp Possible
“Hello, Hubbomaniac!” comes the Imp’s voice through my headphones. I am straddling the cross-trainer and pedalling furiously towards my fitness horizon as the Imp's voice disturbs my reverie.
I was expecting Black eyed Peas from the ipod strapped to my arm, not the cut-glass English accent of Pandemonicum Grenvillard Woodimp, or to be short, P.G.Woodimp. There is no pun intended, but the Imp is rather short, barely testing the three feet mark should you care to measure his height.
“Good to see you looking after your body. As my good friend and poet Juvenal used to say ‘Mens Sana in corpora sano!’” The Imp’s gravelly voice comes again. I carry on pedalling hoping it is a momentary distraction.
I look around anxiously. Previously the Imp had only tested my patience in the confines of my own home. It has never appeared outside, not in public. Certainly not in the Gym which is my haven of peace and reflection. Never mind the sana and the sano, it is insanity that worries me. The Imp manifestation has had me wondering whether I need to see a shrink.
As it is a Wednesday afternoon, the Gym is not too crowded. There are a few well toned women riding the treadmills in the row in front of me, chatting to each other. There is a very sweaty and very red giant of a man few machines away from mine, counting down to a coronary. A Pilate’s class has just finished and some members come spilling out of the exercise room to the left, looking (and perhaps feeling) like unfurled pretzels.
I look at my ipod, flicking back to my playlist. It still says that Black eyed peas are playing ‘ I gotta feeling!’
“You amuse me, my friend.” The Imp says, materialising in a cloud of sulphurous yellow smoke on top of the cross trainer next to me. I miss my stride and nearly go flying off towards the big red bloke. “You want to believe and yet you nurse scepticism and incredulousness!”
“What are you doing? This is outrageous.” I say through gritted teeth.
The Imp inspects a cuticle in its long clawed forefinger and grins. “I love dramatic entrances. I used to do a vaudevillian act in the 7th dimension. I loved the roar of applause that greeted me at my grand entrance. Would it hurt you to say at least a ‘welcome back’ after all that I have done for you?”
I stare straight ahead and try to pretend I am mouthing a song . “Can others see you?”
“Oh, you fear ridicule and humiliation. Worry not, Dear boy, for I only appear to you.”
I suppose I should feel grateful for that. But I don’t.
The Imp, looks in the general direction of my line of sight and sniggers.
“Nice view! I see why you favour the cross trainers. The undulating feminine behinds remind me of the impette from 6th dimension. Did I tell you what happened? That sequel to Kama- Sutra that I am penning...”
“Not interested.” I mutter, rather cruelly.
“Aaah. You could learn a trick of two, from Papa Imp. Maybe later. I came back to congratulate you on your ‘Imp’ressive hub about me. It seems to have gone down well. The page views have hit my magic target. So here I am, back as I promised I will. I have been working hard for you!”
I wipe the beads of sweat from my forehead with my towel and grab a drink from my sports bottle, still pedalling furiously. The Imp reclines lazily and rests its hairy feet on the handlebars of the machine next to mine. I refuse to get drawn into another hub related dispute with the Imp. But I know, deep inside, it is a futile exercise. For the Imp can be persuasive and persistent.
“You don’t believe me, do you? “ It chuckles, “I proved to you that you are a hub addict. I thought rather than put you off these creative endeavours, I will push you to success. I have been studying the other hubbers and have worked out a ten step program for you. You will soon conquer all!” The Imp spreads its rather large hands wide.
Despite myself I turn my head towards the Imp. It winks elaborately and those fluorescent yellow-orange eyes bore a hole into me.
“Listen.” I hiss through my teeth again, like a trainee ventriloquist trying hard not move his lips, “I don’t care about conquering all. I really don’t care anymore about pageviews and hubscores. I cannot while my life away pining for more followers and more traffic. So you may do well to find someone else to haunt!”
“Right,” says the Imp, “If that’s the case, let’s do a psychometric test. Let me test to see if you are truly free of Hub addiction”
"What, here?” I realise I am pedalling even faster and my heart rate hits 160.
“Yes. Right here, right now. Do you know the Rorschach test?”
“The ink blot test? Where you stare at inkblots and say what you can see?”
“Full marks! Let’s do a Rorschach. Now as you can see the backs of those four rather beautiful women on that row of treadmills. You can see from their sport vests they are hot and the sweat has left patterns on their back. All you need to do is tell me what you see on those shapes. Simple.”
Despite my annoyance I admit to myself that this is rather ingenious. I have seen many things in a woman’s sports vest. Rorschach wasn’t one of them!
“ I want instant answers. No prevarication. Let’s start at the left. The blonde in a blue vest.”
“Accolade stamps ”
“The red head with a white vest.”
“The other blonde in red”
“Awesome,beautiful.”, I realise what I am doing despite myself, “Damn! Double Damn.”
The Imp jumps off the machine and jauntily walks towards the treadmills. “I rest my case. You are not cured. You are so deeply hubbed out that it is imprinted in your cortex.”
The Imp, as always, is annoyingly right. My throat tightens in that Freudian choke. I slow my pace and start cooling down. I think about the past couple of Imp free weeks. I have done nothing but think of hubs. And hubbers. Especially those nice hubbers who leave endearing comments. You know who you are. I love your visits. I truly do. I want you to keep coming back.
I take another sip from my bottle and splutter.
The Imp is moving steadily towards the unsuspecting women on the treadmill. It moves between them, turns around and lifts its nose high and sniffs the air. “I love the smell of moisturiser in the morning”
I shake my head and walk towards the showers.
The Imp catches up with me. “Now about that 10 step program to get you on top”
“Yes?” I ask wearily wiping my face with the towel.
“Firstly, I hope you didn’t mind me changing your profile pic. The previous one was nice, but too benign.”
“So it was you! I wondered why my profile pic changed suddenly. What was wrong with the other one?”
“For one you were smiling in front of a lake, wearing a scarf. You looked like a lost ornithologist.”
“Why did you pick this new one?”
I walk into the men’s locker room and sit on the bench. The Imp follows me in and leans on the metal lockers. Luckily there is no one around to listen in.
“You needed a picture where you smoulder. If you want more followers, smouldering is good.”
“I don’t smoulder. I look cross eyed and moody. And no one has said anything about me smouldering. They are not interested in how I look.”
“Dear boy,” says the Imp. I hate it when it calls me dear boy but choose not to argue, for the Imp has been around millennia, “You don’t know diddly about the rules of hub attraction. Just look at those who instantly attract high number of followers – a good avatar will go a long way".
“I still don’t think the avatar matters. People may mock up anything on their computer. For all we know the blokes may be women and woman may be blokes.”
“Listen now and Listen good.” It moves closer and wags its crooked finger close to my nose.
I sneeze. “Excuse me.”
“At least your mama’s taught you good manners.”, says the Imp wiping something from its right eye.
“I think it is good writing, great info, relevant themes and fresh outlook that makes hubs popular. I want to be read for the quality of my writing. I think...” I continue.
The Imp laughs uproariously and a bloke walks in from the shower stalls and catches me in mid sentence. He whips his towel off and rubs his buttocks vigorously while eyeing me with suspicion. His family jewels are out there doing a mambo and it reminds me of a certain hubber’s profile pic. Drat, this is Rorschach going mad. I avert my gaze and open my Gym bag to extract a towel and my shower gel. I stuff my bag back in the locker and walk towards the shower rooms. The Imp follows me like a persistent shadow.
“The mystery of the hubscore is old as the Black covenant of Pandemonica itself. It is a complex calculation of Good writing, Generous feedback, Google algorithms, Garrulous search engine tags, Gorgeous profile pics and Gluteal osculation. I call it the 6G spectrum.”
I stand under the scalding shower and try to drown out the Imps incessant chatter. It didn’t work. " Gluteal Osculation? what the hell is Gluteal osculation?"
"Oh. look it up" It waves one hand in an exasperated fashion.
It paces in front of me, one arm behind its back, lecturing me.
“Dear boy. To succeed in hubpages, you need to understand the laws of the jungle.”
“Jungle?” I gurgle through the water, washing my hair.
“Yes. There are packs and herds. There are herd rules. There are several alpha males vying for attention. There are more pheromones in circulation than mating season in Mwogubudu. ”
I don’t bother asking where Mwogubudu was, for fear of the Imp embarking on another tale of what it did to the Impette on a safari. That story put me off my breakfast for some time.
“To establish your dominance, To attract more followers, Step one is to show your cute side. How about that picture of you in the bathrobe – I can photoshop it to make you look good?”
I get soap in my eyes as my hand slips. “Don’t even dare! This is a gross invasion of my privacy and decorum. You will make me the laughing stock of hubland.”
“Pffiddlesticks. You need help and you know it. I won’t take no for an answer. After all, you are technically my master. Despite what you say my ultimate purpose for now is to help you.”
The Imp walks around the shower stall and switches all the showers on. It then weaves around the showers hopping first on one clawed foot and then the other, “ I am singin’ in the rain. I am sing...ing in the rain. What a glorious day I am ha-ppy again.”
The Imp pops up in front and holds my hands. “Listen now, dear boy. I am going away for a bit. I have a meeting with a few ladies in Harun al Rashid’s harem. We are playing a game called ‘Teasing the Sultan’. I am the facilitator. I will be back when my prediction comes true. Your followers will rise. You will be loved and adored. Your smoulder will get a special mention. They will say how much they love you. I swear I will only return if your next hub about me attracts a magic number of comments. You will see.
I’ll be back...
And then it’s gone in a sulphurous yellow cloud leaving just the echo of its words around the cubicles.
I hurriedly get out of the shower, towel myself and walk towards the Jacuzzi. I needed a warm bubbly soak. I need to get my tense muscles totally relaxed. I need a Imp free sojourn.
I slide in the jacuzzi’s warm embrace and switch the bubbles on. Thankfully there is no one in to disturb my reveries.
The bubbles are more fervent than normal. Suddenly, there is cloud of pink, strawberry scented smoke right in the middle. I stare in disbelief as a small, horned yet utterly delectable figure emerges from the water like a siren from the south seas. She slides on next to me, puts a long clawed hand on my bare thigh and whispers into my ear.
“Hello handsome. Nice to meet you after all I’ve heard.”
I feel my tongue stuck to my palate and my throat go dry.
“Have you seen a vile creature called P.G.Woodimp?” Her voice sounds like honey dripping off a honeycomb.
"M..Maybe” I gulp.
“Then will you tell him that the P. F. Impette is not happy. And by the way, don’t listen to his inane ramblings about hubpage success, I can show you the proper way.” She rubs my thigh in a friendly manner.
I feel myself sliding under the water as the world darkens. Blub.Blub.Blub.
The Imp returns in Silence of the Imps
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We've been informed that Docmo is indisposed due to a 'an incident in the Jacuzzi'. So all comments will be answered by his representative, someone called P.G.Woodimp. Comment at your peril!
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© 2011 Mohan Kumar