Earplug Adventures Portrait: Stand Up And Be Counted!

This post first appeared in a now defunct blog.

Having been put on trial at the Galactic Court of Justice for the ‘crimes’ of all earplugkind, Throgennis Frote gives voice to his anger. In fact he tears them off a strip. He’s a mouthy little git. From We Stand Accused. Fascinating factoid: the whole idea for We Stand Accused came from the discovery of this prismatic sunlight on Tooty’s sitting room carpet.

Tooty the Chef Creates: Albondegas!

Okay, Tooty the Chef has done albondegas before, but that was in his bare-buttock’d days. These days you’re spared the spectacle: these days it’s all about the yum-yums. So, anyway, this is how it all began…

So what do we have here? Well there appears to be a jar of mixed spices, a small random tomato-based sauce mix, some toms, diced carrot and onions, chopped olives, and some minced pork  – from Sainsbury’s because their’s are only five percent fat, whereas Waitrose is eight percent fat, and more expensive too. No contest. Naturally some ingredients have been left out in this picture; that is becauseTooty the Chef is a wally and didn’t think to include them. 

What he did  next will not astound you. He tossed the raw stuff into a bowl and added two eggs, which he then blended…

 

Looking at the resulting mess he quickly realised that there was no way on this Earth that any balls created from it would hold together in the frying pan; so (he reasoned) the obvious answer to the problem was to add a binding agent. Something designed to thicken a sauce would surely hold the meat and vegetables together – wouldn’t it? He added cornflour…

Then rolling the balls in regular flour, it began to look as though his genius was proving itself…

…though the carrot and onion had clearly been insufficiently diced and, for a while, it was touch-and-go…

To counter this error, he made sure that the ‘bottom’ of each ball was nicely burnt before flipping them over – for the first and only time. Whilst the balls crackled nicely, tagliatelli was tossed into boiling water and stirred mightily…

It would be repeatedly stirred, every so often, until the very end. The dozy old ladle-weilder hates anything sticking to the bottom of his pans. It’s an anathema  to him. Or an enema.

Whatever, with the balls now sealed and no longer in danger of breaking up like an asteroid en route for Earth, Tooty elected to toss in the chopped toms and olives…

They quickly succumbed to the heat, and before long the sauce found itself sploshed handsomely into the mix…

Gently teasing the resultant goo between the balls, Tooty allowed this to simmer for an indeterminate amount of time. Then, when it looked as though the meal could not possibly be improved by leaving it over the heat for a moment longer, he removed it  and lay it gently upon a bed of pasta…

When I use the word ‘gently’, I mean that he didn’t drop it from a great height.  And just to prove that it really was Tooty the Chef who created this wondrous dollop of edibleness, here he is with his hat on…

He looks pleased, coz now he’s gonna eat it. Who wouldn’t? Well obviously people who despise pig-based cooking upon cultural or religious grounds, and vegans; both of  which Tooty aint. But otherwise…who?

 

 

Earplug Adventures Wallpaper: Approaching the Frontier

This post has appeared previously upon a defunct blog.

Ice-World border guards are caught…er…off-guard by the sudden arrival of Clancy Hardnut as he passengers aboard a hover sled – driven by Wendy Earwacks, who is a female member of the enemy’s blue-hued civilisation. They can barely believe their eyes: fraternisation between the races is unheard of. From Cold War. Fascinating factoid: when this story first appeared on the Internet in 2016, a reader was most amused by the ‘hover sled’. He recognised it as being a part from a cannibalized steam iron. He made no mention of the upturned Nescafe Dolce Gusto coffee pods though.

Tooty and Total Vindication

When I bought this…

…during the Autumn of 2022, I must admit that I felt some doubt. Not so much about spending £7000 on a mere single-cylinder 450cc motorcycle; but more about how good it really was. I thought it was fabulous and punched waaaay above its weight. But what do I know? What do I have to compare it with? Okay a Yamaha XJR1300 – but that’s not a modern bike: it’s two decades old. And it’s a big lumbering monster with more power than I (in my mid-sixties) know what to do with. I really wondered if I had done the right thing. Should I have cast my net farther afield? Well this week Motorcycle News had a full spread test of the Fantic Caballero Scrambler, in which they compared it with a much larger single – the Mash 650. The result?

Well, to use a colloquial term, the Fantic pissed all over the Mash. Look – they gave it FIVE STARS. I don’t think I’ve ever seen  a magazine wax so lyrical about any bike. They absolutely loved it. Total vindication for Tooty. But I’m  glad I spent the extra on the Deluxe version: I really don’t like the standard bike’s yellow number board.

Nature Wallpaper: Cruel Thorns; Hard Frost

Myriad Sparrows live within this hedgerow. How do they survive the barbs? Or is it a case of the thorns offering the tiny birds protection from predators? They certainly squawk a lot. But I guess I would too – if I had those things jabbing me up the arse every five minutes!

P.S Don’t you think those three bramble leaves look rather predatory?

Silicon Life: Competition for the Cafe Puke!

Details of a catering merger have emerged that could threaten the continued success of the purveyors of the most vile coffee inside the Museum of Future Technology – Cafe Puke. Secret photographs taken in the undeveloped region of the arboretum strongly suggest that construction of a new cafe is well underway…

Although including a distinctive foyer, the building appears to follow the design of the majority of Cafe Puke outlets. But, as this photograph shows, the hoarding apparently makes mention of the rival cafe chain – Skanki Kaffe. However leaked pictures of the interior do not support this assertion. Workers were  tight lipped when quizzed about the new-build. Even Rupert Piles  and his huge 3D TV camera, despite trudging back a forth acoss the doorway all morning, could garner no information…

Nevertheless rumours continue to propagate, particularly when posters purporting that the endeavour is supported by the youngest of the the Earplug Brothers – twins Chester and Miles, and the famous Ice World scientist Uda Spritzer, appeared inside the half-completed future place of business…

Despite denials from Skanki Kaffe that the company has designs on supplanting Cafe Puke as the cafe of choice within the much vaunted and hallowed walls of the Museum of Future Technology, photographic evidence of a conversation between a representative of Skanki Kaffe, and Mister Pong – owner of several Exotic Food restaurants within the museum and the neighbouring conurbation of La Ciudad de Droxford cannot be ignored…

Further evidence came when the museum’s Avatar and the Angel with a Huge Nose were seen blessing the almost complete catering outlet in the middle of the night…

Apparently only the installation of a whooshy, gurgly coffee machine and a futuristic urinal is required to transform the building from a potential cafe into a proper emporium for the celebration of the humble coffee bean – complete with labels such as Cafe au Belch, Vomitino, and Desalinated – all well-known labels belonging to Skanki Kaffe. When interviewed through the side window of a Cafe Puke concession, general manager, Cool-Dude Plantagenate…

…was quoted as saying: “Couldn’t give a plugmutt’s arse. Bring it on Skanki: your Vomitino aint got nothing on our Crappachino: it’s almost potable!”

We await developments.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2023

 

Earplug Adventures Wallpaper: Illicit Flight

This first appeared in a now defunct blog.

When Bubbles Gloor and Barclay Scrimmage stole the prototype Prowler from the Punting-Modesty Munitions Company, Bubbles couldn’t help showing it off to her mother, Millicent, and her ski coach boyfriend Wagontrain McCallister in their ski lodge at the end of a frozen fiord. From The Veil of Shytar. Fascinating factoid: The fiord is actually a hollow in the trunk of a fallen tree that has filled with water. Yes, I know it doesn’t look like it, but it is. Just goes to show what a photographic genius the creator of the Earplug Adventures really is!

 

Tooty the Chef Makes Tooty Goreng and an Inappropriate Pudding

Hola and welcome to La Cocina de Tooty…

On this occasion Tooty the Chef planned to make some Bami Goreng, but (as is his way) he didn’t get all the necessary ingredients. So, instead he went for an alternative – for which he  did have the ingredients. He chose to name it Tooty Goreng. And just to make the meal all the more fantastic, he decided that the sweet would involve puff pastry, pear, and apple. I mean…why not?

He set the ball rolling by digging out some chopped pears and apples that he’d plonked into the bottom drawer of his freezer during the preceding Autumn, and crammed them into the bottom of one of his roasting things. To this he added some cinnamon and sweetener…

The puff pastry was then rolled out and placed on top – making sure to bolster the edges…

Of course this pastry was pre-made in the Jus-Rol factory. You don’t imagine Tooty the Chef has  spare time to roll, then re-roll, and then roll again stuff he’d put together himself, do you? No-no-no, that’s too much like hard work and eats into his leisure time. He’d far sooner be doing this…

But, anyway, Now was the correct time to get the oven warmed up. So having done so Tooty laid out the ingredients for his Tooty Goreng…

They included pak choi, peppers, carrot, bacon medallions, brocolli, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, ketjap manis, and sambal oeleck. Naturally there would be more, but he hadn’t planned that far ahead when this photo was taken. He doesn’t “do”  planning.

Shortly after that he squirted some olive oil into a wok and set the gas alight beneath it. Once warmed up he added the carrots, pak choi, and peppers…

A couple of minutes head start was required before the brocolli joined the other ingredients…

This he sizzled for several minutes. At one point he needed to add a dash of water when things began sticking to the non-stick surface of the wok. I think they call it burning. Shortly though some frozen chalots joined in and moistened the situation slightly…

Then it was the turn of the quick-cooking bacon, which he sizzled until the raw pinkiness had disappeared…

I think some spastic twitches must have occurred then because he tipped rather too much flavouring in…

Three dollops of sambal oeleck, when one would have been sufficient. The dark soy was okay, but he went loony with the oyster sauce and very nearly drowned the lot.

Once this was bubbling nicely, it was time to slide the apple/pear. puff pasty combo into the maxxed-out oven…

If all went to plan, it would be ready when the first course had been consumed. Naturally he was correct. In fact he barely had time to heat up the custard! But I’m getting ahead of myself. Shortly another forgotten ingredient was tugged from the bottom of the wine rack. Udon noodles. These were added to the concoction and stirred in…

What – you don’t keep udon noodles in your wine rack? I thought everyone did. I mean, it’s the obvious place to keep them…isn’t it? Again I digress. This was allowed to simmer for a short while, until the great chef decided that it was ‘done’…

…and he proudly displayed a bowl of the…er…stuff…to camera…

And the pudding? Check it out…

Pity the custard was lumpy.

 

Why Does A Guy Who Gives His Work Away Spend Real Money To Make It Better?

Answer: Because he’s stupid. Or Maybe because it’s a labour of love.

Although absolutely nothing has been done regarding the follow-up to The Veil of Shytar, Tooty hasn’t been entirely idle. He may have expended exactly no time whatsoever thinking about what path the next story might follow, but he has been reducing the size of his bank account by purchasing lighting equipment so that the non-existential sequel will be well-lit. Okay, it wasn’t a lot of money, but he had to earn it, which is more than his e-books will, coz he doesn’t sell them: he gives them away in PDF form. What a dope! But that’s by-the-by: let’s see what the dumbo’s been up to. Well firstly there’s this…

Look, nice, isn’t it?

At last Tooty can shoot without fear of the camera casting a bloody great shadow across the subjects. And regard…

…the same scene can be shot with differing shades and intensities…

Even a really warm glow…

What wonders might be performed with this light? But he was not content with a mere ring-light: he also bought a…

…head light, for close-up shooting in tight corners, where normally shadows are manifest. Of course the happy snapper couldn’t wait to shoot something fresh with his new ‘toys’, so he popped out to his local Sainsbury’s and snatched a yoghourt tray from the cooler shelf. I’m sure you’ll recognise it: it’s the one he uses to create the Cafe Puke outlets. And having done so, he created another…

Charming, don’t you think? Can you not imagine yourself standing beneath that blue light and soaking up the ambience? Here it is peopled…

And look at the bloody size of it: it’s massive!

“Why so big?” I hear you sub-vocalise.

Answer: So Tooty can get some depth of field in his micro-world shots. So characters can be emphasized better by placing the background out of focus…

It also allows him to remove some of the superstructure…

…which, in turn  facilitates the correct usage of the previously mentioned head-light…

All in all, money well spent – or so says he. Does it help create ideas for the next story? Er…no: but when he does think of something, it will look nice.

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 38

T’was March 2022 when the last Revel in the Ribaldry appeared in these hallowed cyber-pages. So I funk it was about time Number 38 poked its head above the parapet. No dilly-dallying; on with an extract from my favourite book of all time by whatever author you care to mention. Yes, it’s my…

Here follows an extract from Chapter Six – A Pocket of Empire. For the benefit of anyone who has never experienced this fabulous e-book, it is actually a collection of short stories that have been ingeniously linked together in one narrative by your host.

Colonel Goliath Van Spoon was Lieutenant LaMerde’s commanding officer. For a hamster he was remarkably large. Some had even described him as ‘hulking’. And also unlike those he led, Van Spoon was neither French nor hamster-sexual. He was Dutch, and he wore outrageously large clogs, and hung large photographs of polders, dykes, and naked females upon his office wall, just to emphasize the fact. And right now he was seated behind a cheap chipboard desk where he listened to his subordinate’s report.

“For sure. For sure.” Van Spoon would nod as each interesting piece of information was imparted.

“So you see, Sir,” LaMerde concluded, “The peasants are revolting.”

“For sure they’re revolting,” Van Spoon agreed, “They never wash as far as I can tell. I can smell the village from my billet – and that’s saying something, man: The latrine outflow pipe is situated just below it.”

LaMerde silently ground his incisors together. It was his opinion the Colonel was unfit for duty. His mind tended to wander into the esoteric at inopportune times; and his decision-making process was often interfered with by the consumption of alcoholic beverages that were supplied by the Hamster-British owners of the castle. As a result of this several patrols had been forced to fight their way back to the safety of the castle through besieging trinket-sellers; swarming insects; and the occasional gang of wandering prostitutes – only to be told to go back out again and knock properly.

Van Spoon appeared to make a decision. He said, “Let’s take this upstairs.”

LaMerde’s shoulders slumped.  ‘Upstairs’ meant a visit to Sir Cuthbert and Lady Agatha Strawberry-Nose.

“Should we really, Sir?” he tried to dissuade his commanding officer, “I mean – they’re hardly likely to give us sound advice, are they? After all it was the French Florid Legion who dispossessed them of their nice retirement home, turned it into a fortress, and forced them to live in the highest turret.”

It was a well-reasoned argument, but Van Spoon would have no truck with it. “For sure I’m thinking that you don’t trust our reticent hosts, LaMerde: Is that because they are Hamster-British?”

LaMerde discovered himself speechless: He simply couldn’t believe that the colonel was accusing him of being racist. In fact he had an entirely different reason for wanting to avoid Lady Agatha Strawberry-Nose, but he felt that he wasn’t at liberty to divulge that information.

Van Spoon took his subordinate’s silence as contrition. “For sure I was thinking that. Well, Lieutenant, I have a little treat for you. Follow me.”

With that he thrust his chair backwards, hopped over the desk like the Olympic hurdler that he’d been in his youth, and was out of the door before you could say “By the Saint of All Hamsters!”

With the fear that his career with the French Florid Legion was in jeopardy, LaMerde followed in haste.

A few minutes later Van Spoon and LaMerde had climbed the long spiral staircase to the living quarters of the elderly Hamster-British citizens – Sir Cuthbert and Lady Agatha Strawberry-Nose. Van Spoon rapped sharply upon the soft balsa wood door. It gave alarmingly beneath his meaty knuckles, which resulted in what appeared to be permanent, and rather unsightly indentations. He noticed this, and immediately stepped back. “For sure this soft wood gives alarmingly beneath my meaty knuckles.” He said – before lifting LaMerde from the ground and depositing him directly in front of the door.

It was not a moment too soon for Van Spoon: The door fairly whipped open as though it was attached to a powerful elastic cord with a nasty temper.

Lady Agatha’s face appeared in the door frame. She regarded the indentations left by the colonel’s knuckles. Then she looked at LaMerde who stood before her with a sickly smile upon his hamstery face. For a moment it appeared that she might explode in anger, but then she caught sight of LaMerde’s whiskers as they shook violently with trepidation inside his gargantuan hood.

“Serge!” The plump aristocratic female hamster pulled the lieutenant to her heaving bosom, and hugged him close, “Why you naughty male.” She admonished cheerfully, “You’ve been going under-cover with the natives again. One of these days they’ll catch you – and do all sorts of ghastly things to you. Oh I couldn’t bear it: I might never see your handsome face again!”

Van Spoon could see that his subordinate was uncomfortable. In fact he noticed that he wasn’t actually breathing anymore, and was turning a nasty shade of blue.

“Madam,” he said as he extricated the female’s fingers from around the slender frame of the junior ranking officer, “we are here to ask for your husband’s advice.”

Naturally Lady Agatha complied: To have refused would have been a terrible social faux pas. And so the two Legionaries were ushered into the presence of the castle’s true owner.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

This book – amazingly – remains on-sale. You can link to the better-known vendors via the Tooty’s E-Books Available to Buy Here page. It’s not expensive either – despite being the best book in the world. Oh, and it’s rude too.

 

The Earplugs Come Home

The Earplug Adventures began life on this blog – right back in 2014. So I think it only right that (following their dismal showing in their own blog) they should return here: the home of earplug fiction. Henceforth all the stuff that appeared on the accursed failed blog will (as if like magic) reappear in these hallowed cyber-pages. Stuff like this…

Following uncounted millennia in suspended animation, a newly-formed ocean reanimates ancient aquatic earplugs upon Mars. Here Arthur and Millicent find their way to the surface for the first time. From Haunted Mars Volume Two. Fascinating factoid: The bubbly surface of the new ocean is actually semi-melted sound deadening material. The earplugs aren’t embedded in it; instead they have had their bottom halves excised – giving the impression that they are partially submerged. Well that’s the idea anyway. Did it work?

 

An Apple iPad and The Very Last Shot in This World

My late wife loved her iPad. She took it almost everywhere – even to places without an Internet connection. She perferred it to laptops, TV, or cameras. To her it was all three rolled up in one. She was always insisting that I get one: but I declined. It was a jack-of-all-trades: I wanted dedicated stuff that did what I wanted properly. So,  following her death, her iPad was stuffed in it’s case, zipped up, and put somewhere safe. Every so often though I would take it out to charge the battery: but since I had no use for it, it was always returned to the darkness. Then, one day I decided to take the photos she had taken on it so that they would be preserved on various alternative media scattered throughout the house. This was when I discovered that Apple products are arse holes. They come equiped with Bluetooth, but although they will ‘pair’ with non-apple products, they will not transfer data to or from them. Apple to Apple only. Then I discovered the HooToo…

…a wonderful little device with a USB on one end and a Lightning connector on the other. Perfect for storing iPad data, then transferring to a Windows laptop. But when I tried uploading from the iPad to the HooToo, I couldn’t do it. Too many years of using Windows wouldn’t let me figure the counter-intuitive programming of the Apple product. To me nothing was obvious. I wondered if it was anything to do with age. Was I too dopy and set in my ways to understand? So I dug out this…

…which helped not one jot. Fortunately, being a genius, I realised that the Internet could help me. There I would find a guide, I was certain. I didn’t. But I did find a user manual for the HooToo on-line – with screen grabs of the device in action on  an IPad. Unfortunately those handy screen grabs differed to the picture I was looking at on ‘my’ iPad screen. There were fewer icons, and two of them were different. But with a dash of luck and some brilliant insightfulness, I eventually managed to transfer the photos from the iPad on to the HooToo and thence to my laptop. Success! But In doing so I discovered another, previously unseen  photo file. It contained only four pictures – all taken from a position that placed the photographer in a hospital bed. Obviously that photographer was my wife. Initially I smiled. But before I explain, this is the third shot of the four…

The preceding shots were almost identical, except they were not level. The first leaned by several degrees. The second less so. With the third shot she nailed it. What I found amusing was my reading of her thoughts when taking the pictures. She wasn’t a fussy photographer: as long as the shot looked nice, she was happy with it. But she knew that I would disapprove of a picture that wasn’t straight. I hate horizons that aren’t level. So, despite her increasing disablement, she plugged on until she got this shot. The amusment faded when I then considered her motivation for taking the pictures. Clearly they were to be a record of her stay in (yet another) hospital room – to look back on later in life. When she took this picture, she still thought she would beat the cancer – or at least wrestle it to a draw and live with it. But when I looked at the final shot…

…that included her hospital socks and puffy, emaciated legs, no smile was possible. I was looking at the very last picture she would ever take.  She didn’t know that at the time, of course, which only made it sadder. But, fortunately for me, she has previously contacted me (through a medium obviously) to tell me a little of her existence beyond this life, so I needn’t feel sad for her: just sorry for me. The pictures are now backed-up on several hard drives. They’re special.

Goodbye ‘Standing in Clover’

I suspected as much, when I first began my countryside photo-blog, that it wouldn’t last long. What has surprised me though, is the reason for it’s demise. Okay, it didn’t attract many views, which is probably quite a good excuse for calling it a day: but it wasn’t that which made me quit. It was the difficulty in choosing which pictures to include on the blog. There was only so much room in the memory – one gigabyte – and just so many pictures to select from. Simply put, I have too many photos in my library: whichever one I choose, I then think I could have chosen a better one. It’s maddening. I wasn’t enjoying it. And then when the ‘faves’ stopped…well it was all the excuse I needed. The blog is toast.  Perhaps if there were two of me it might have been easier…

An Unorthodox Means of Alleviating a Sore Throat and Booming Head Ache

It’s the last day of the year. It’s early: still dark. Why do I feel like crap? Oh flip, I’ve got a cold. The hours pass: no improvement. I’ve taken the flu remedy in the medicine cabinet. And the vitamin C drink too. There must be an alternative to sitting around feeling miserable. Look beyond the laptop. Is the rain still lashing at the windows? Are the trees in the neighbour’s garden almost bent double? Answer to both: yep. Time to uncover this then…

There’s nothing quite like manhandling a 100+ BHP muscle bike down muddy lanes, washed out city streets, and through blinding motorway road spray. Nothing. Then take some  nice photos of windswept bridges and drowning fir trees…

…before fighting your way back home – only to find your pride and joy covered in road filth…

…and discovering that your waterproofs aren’t quite as waterproof as you would have liked…

But, dammit, you feel great: ready to face the rest of the day. Throw out those pain killers: pull on those bike boots.

Third Christmas as a Trio

Christmas 2022 was the third Winter holiday that my children spent without their mother, and I endured without the most precious thing in the world to me. For the first time since she became too ill to sit at the dining table, we three survivors ate together. In an effort to disguise the silence, I turned on the TV.  It helped, but we were glad when the meal ended, and all agreed to dispense with the usual Chistmas pudding: it could wait until later. It hasn’t been a bad Christmas: merely another empty one.

On a more positive note: I was prodded in the buttocks this morning by an invisible hand. Obviously someone thought that nine o’clock was rather late in the morning for me to still be in bed. I like days starting like that: I may appear to be alone sometimes, but I’m not really. I think of her every day: but some days she makes sure I don’t forget to. That’s okay with me. VERY okay.

Earplug Adventures Wallpaper: Disappearing Act

The heroic Catering Assistant apparently ceases to exist moments before the destruction of the Drunkard’s Vomit.

From the fabulous 2022 story, Climatic Calamity

…which (as everyone knows) is available as a free PDF by simply clicking on the cover art.

 

Twenty-Minute Chilli with Tooty the Chef

With only two people to cater for, Tooty the Chef couldn’t be arsed to make something grand or a meal that took long to cook: he has far more important things to do. So he settled on a chilli meal. After perusing the ingredients of a really hot sauce mix…

…he figured he could save a whole bunch of time by ignoring the vast array of spices and sauces in his magnificently stocked kitchen cupboards, and instead use the packet in his hand. So, whilst the boil-in-the-bag rice…er…boiled, Tooty the Chef thawed a bag of beef mince in the microwave, whilst dicing a pepper, an onion, a courgette, and a couple of tomatoes. Soon the onion, courgette and pepper were making hissing noises nicely in some olive oil…

This was quickly followed by the minced beef…

Like any chef worth his (or her – he once dated a female chef) salt, this he sizzled until the meat was browned – before adding the tomatoes. Just to prove that Tooty doesn’t cook in tiny pans and possesses one huge hand, here’s a picture of him stirring the goo…

See: big pan: regular hands: pointy nose: weary eyes: two coffee machines.

Then it was time to add the sauce mix with some water. But Tooty the Chef had another trick up his sleeve: the addition of a miniscule pinch of some unbelievably powerful spices from Italy…

At the twenty minute marker it was time to tip out the rice into individual bowls and pile on the chilli…

Perfecto! Naturally he sprinkled some grated cheese on top before presenting the finished article thus…

And to celebrate this great event, here’s a charming wallpaper for  your computer…

Download that if you dare!

A Matter of Form Over Function

On such a lovely sunny day, and with the icy roads thawing quickly, I thought the time was ripe to pull my Fantic Caballero from it’s hutch. And indeed it was; a fun journey ensued that lifted my spirits. But after the twenty-mile ride had concluded, I found my boots somewhat soiled…

Filthy disgusting footwear

…and the bike an absolute disaster…

Filthy disgusting motorcycle

This was due entirely to a front fender that had been designed for pleasing aesthetics: not warding off road crap…

Putrid but handsome mudguard

I spent the first fifteen minutes of the rest of my life hosing the bike down. So, it seems, from now on I’ll have to choose my riding conditons more carefully – like when the roads are entirely dry…

That’s more like it!

However does anyone really care when the machine looks as good as this? It’s referred to as an urban chic street scrambler: but I think it looks kind of groovy in a rural environment. Oh if only they could keep the roads clean!

Tooty’s plaything.

Complete ‘Veil of Shytar’ Absolutely Free!

Yes, it’s that time again. That time when I give away the latest e-book in PDF form for you to either read on-line or download for home consumption. And that e-book is (of course) The Veil of Shytar. So just click on the cover image and it’s all yours to enjoy and (possibly) pore over and discuss its intellectual merits and nice pictures. In fact, should you be a university student or similar, perhaps you could write thesis on the evolution and development of the Earplug Adventures from early stream-of-consciousness witterings to the literary genius you see today – or something along those lines. But I digress: if you know what’s good for you, click that cover now. Read something unique!

Earplug Adventures: The Veil of Shytar (part 30)

So here we are – al final. We’ve made it through twelve chapters together. Another Earplug Adventure has been survived. All that remains is the epilogue. This is it: go for it!

Epilogue

As one might imagine, the voyage home along the hyper-space conduit was rapid and uneventful…

However, as the Prowler entered the atmosphere above Lemon Stone, the ship’s foul-weather sensors initiated an amber alert…

“Oh, I didn’t expect that.” Bubbles exclaimed. “After such an adventure I assumed it would all be plain sailing until we landed.”

“Nah,” Barclay replied as he cast a quick glance out of his side window, “it’s peeing down out there. Looks like a storm. Even worse than the one we can expect in the Star Chamber.”

He wasn’t wrong either…

High winds and sudden downdraughts tossed the small craft of space like a leaf as lightning lit up the sky all around.

Much to her surprise, the buffeting made Bubbles feel decidedly nauseous…

“Take the controls, will you darling.” She said before slipping off her safety belt and throwing up over the back of her pilot’s seat.

Barclay, unused to flying the craft in any conditions, quickly lost his way in the bad weather; reduced altitude; and soon found himself staring at the towers of Ciudad de Droxford…

“Oh, Sweetie,” he called, “Wipe the drool from your chin and take command, would you: we’re about to crash into a city.”

The threat of imminent death quickly rallied Bubbles’ mental and physical reserves. Throwing herself back into her seat, she re-took control…

“Honestly, Barclay,” she complained, “all you had to do is keep it flying straight and level!”

Barclay smiled at this. He knew that. He’d just lost control because he wanted Bubbles to think she was indispensible – which, of course she was.

“I know,” Bubbles then added as her stomach settled and her mood lightened, “Since we’re here, we might as well stop off for a coffee. Yes, that would be very nice: we can sit and watch the world go by…in the pouring rain.”

Meanwhile, below on an average city street…

…Miles Earplug was deep in conversation with Mister Pong.

“I don’t know why you were so fired up about opening a restaurant in Ciudad de Droxford.” He said in his best ‘annoyed’ voice. “When it isn’t being levelled by alien invaders, it rains like a monsoon! It doesn’t rain in the Museum of Future Technology: you can have an outdoor café there, and everyone is guaranteed to stay dry. You wouldn’t have to wear your stupid Evil Mister Pong hat either!”

By coincidence, some twenty minutes later, another group of earplugs had decided that talk of cafes should be translated into action.  Captain Cedric Mantequilla led the bridge crew of the Brian Talbot into the Avenida de Rueben Snook branch of the Café Puke…

…and failed utterly to notice the new galactic heroes enjoying the view through a large picture window…

“It’s lovely to be back in the city again, isn’t it Darling?” Bubbles inquired after sipping from her glass of crappachino, before placing it back on the table top.

“Too right, Sweetie.” Barclay replied, “After the aridness of Worstworld, this piddling rain and thunderstorm is almost welcome.”

“Talking of welcomes,” Bubbles said nervously, “I wonder what Sir Loftus is going to say tomorrow.”

“Doesn’t really matter.” Barclay mumbled. “We’re gonna lose our jobs whatever. But after our little escapade, we should get jobs at the Museum of Future Technology no problem: they’re crying out for heroic types like us.”

Bubbles lowered her voice to a whisper;

“At least that would mean we wouldn’t have to apply for jobs at the Café Puke. I enjoy their foul muck; but I wouldn’t want to serve it up.”

Bubbles and Barclay decided that it would probably be best if they waited until the next day before visiting the Star Chamber. So, shortly after dawn, they steadied their nerves and strode purposefully into the strangely-lit board room…

Barclay decided to be bold…

“Hi, everybody: I hope you slept well. We certainly did. It’s tiring work – saving entire worlds from utter devastation. I guess you’d like the Prowler back now – huh?”

The Chamber Pots were entirely wrong-footed by this approach. All they could do was either stare in stupefaction or look at each other for guidance. As was fitting for the Chairman of the Board, Sir Loftus Pupe recovered his wits quickest…

“Not necessarily.” He replied.

Bubbles leaned back in surprised. “No?” She queried.

“No.” Sir Loftus replied. “Until a few hours ago the situation would have looked very different. BINS would have most certainly been closed down and its senior staff laid off – permanently. The Punting-Modesty R and D department would have been poring over their prototype craft in an effort to see how much damage it had incurred. I personally would probably have been taking a blood pressure tablet. But none of this has come to be.”

“Ah…” Barclay politely raised a hand to interrupt, “but that’s good, isn’t it?”

“For all concerned.” Sir Loftus concurred. Then a smile spread across his normally austere visage. “It’s very good. Jolly good, even. Absolutely bloody smashing in fact. When your rescue of Worstworld appeared on the Galactic News Channel, the phone didn’t stop ringing. E-mails abounded. Our servers went down under the strain. Staff have been run ragged. Orders for the Prowler have been flooding in ever since. Bubbles Gloor and Barclay Scrimmage: if you never do another thing wrong again in your lives, you won’t make a better mistake than stealing the prototype Prowler. Not only did it lead to the salvation of a world and the civilisation that lived upon it; but, more importantly, that single act has saved the Punting-Modesty Munitions Company from bankruptcy. Overnight we’ve gone from minnows to whales!”

“Tadpoles to great white sharks.” Jasmine Greentea interjected.  

“Quite right, Jazzy.” Sir Loftus responded. Then, turning his attention to the youngsters once more, he said:

“As a result of this unqualified success, we’ve elected to refrain from punishing you in any way whatsoever. No punitive action will be taken. You will be charged with no crime. You will, however, be required to take ownership of the prototype Prowler. You will be required to return it to Punting-Modesty for its free first service. You will also need to insure it. Okay?”

Anyone with a feather at hand could have knocked over both Bubbles and Barclay with a single waft. “I…I…guess.” Barclay replied after looking into Bubbles’ laughing eyes. “We’ll…um…get it over to the workshop right away: it could use an oil change. And a rear-facing atomic cannon would be nice too.”

“Duly noted.” Sir Loftus replied. “Have fun.”

With that they were applauded out of the Star Chamber…

“Ready for another adventure, Bubs?” Barclay inquired.

“Any time, any place, anywhere – with you, Barkie.” Bubbles replied.

So, a few hours later, the Prowler’s oil change complete, and a new rear-facing atomic cannon slotted in beside the garbage hatch, the Museum of Future Technology was treated to a one-ship fly-past…

There was a galaxy waiting up there, beyond the sky: now they had the means, Bubbles and Barclay had every intention of experiencing as much of it as was earpluggishly possible!

The End

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Ah-ha, the suggestion of a future sequel. Well why not – we all like Bubbles and Barclay, don’t we? But that will do for 2022: it was a very productive year in the Earplug Adventure department. Already I have a title for the next tale. I have no idea what will happen, but the title came to me when I accidentally  misheard the lyrics to Roxy  Music’s ‘More Than This‘. The next tale will be titled ‘Northern Mist‘. Ooh, that’s a challenge.

 

Earplug Adventures: The Veil of Shytar (part 29)

If the Earplug Adventures were the NFL, this would be the last regular season game. Only the  Playoffs to come… 

Meanwhile high above them, the remnants of the Veil of Shytar appeared to be dissipating…

“Would you look at that!” Augustus Pronk exclaimed as his mauve companion looked across at him with an expressionless…er…expression

…“That would have been you – if we hadn’t dragged you away in an empty catering-sized tofu canister!”

“You have my gratitude, Augustus.” Mister Mauve replied. “But now that I exist outside of the artificial realm of the Veil of Shytar…what am I going to do?”

“I expect I’m officially decreed as deceased.” Pronk wagered. “The wife has probably re-married, and the kids have grown up. I still can’t stand the thought of living in a city again: so how about we live together in a cave somewhere? Failing that – a tent or beneath a tree or hedge – after they’ve grown some, of course. I look forward to seeing hedges: I’ve only ever read about them.” 

Mister Mauve might have replied to this kind offer of a life shared, but before he could, Bubbles yelled:

“Look: the veil: it’s faded away completely!”

And it had too!

Now only a brown dwarf star remained.

“Are you sure that’s bright enough to warm your planet?” Barclay asked Pronk doubtfully.

“Well if it isn’t,” Pronk replied, “we’d better get used to wearing snow shoes.”

“If that should happen,” Bubbles reminded Barclay, “the Goosewing Grey can always return with its gravitonic multiplicitor and move the planet formerly known as Worstworld to a closer orbit. I wonder what they’ll re-name it.”

“Don’t know: don’t care.” Pronk said to this. “What I am interested in is returning to my world: I’ve been gone a long time you know – and a male earplug can stand only so much gentle surf breaching upon sandy beaches.”

“You didn’t like it?” A surprised Mister Mauve asked.

“Not after Year Five.” Pronk replied. “If that cliff had been any higher, I swear I would have thrown myself from it. No, if I ever live beside water again, it will have to be very still – like a huge placid lake. Yes, that’d be nice.”

Pronk then addressed the earplug couple:

“Can you take me down there? I rather fancy to reconnoitre for somewhere to live. Maybe a cave. Maybe an old abandoned shack. Can we go?”

Well neither earplug at the controls could think of one good reason not to, so a few minutes later…

…the Prowler swept across the sandy desert upon which Fort Dunderhead stood. Already the Seventh Cavalry had begun their first patrol.

“I wonder what they expect to find.” Bubbles said.

“I imagine they’re just going through the motions.” Barclay opined. “You know, waiting to be told what to do by the central government – when it gets itself organised. It could take a while. Of course if they find any of that star material that made its way past the veil…well they could be in the money.”

Such was the vessel’s speed that by the time Barclay finished his lecture, it had carried them miles away…

“Barclay,” Bubbles chirruped excitedly, “that looks like open water. I’ve never seen it before. It must have been forced up by those huge impacts.”

“Didn’t you want a lake-side residence, Augustus?” Barclay inquired of the sole native present.

“As long as it isn’t brackish.” Pronk replied. “Can’t stand the taste of salt.”

Fortunately Bubbles had scanned through the user manual for the Prowler, so she was able to use the sensors to determine the salt content of the water below. “Looking good,” she said finally, “Wanna land?”

Shortly the Prowler’s engines cooled as the foursome disembarked and stood upon the unusually natural-coloured soil of Worstworld…

“This’ll do nicely.” Pronk said as he looked about him. “Yep. I noticed a small town as we flew over: it reminded me of Busted Gut. I know a few guys there: they should put me up for a while until I can find my feet, so-to-speak. You coming, Mister Mauve?”

Mister Mauve sniffed the air. “So this is reality, is it?” he said appreciatively, “Methinks I’ll sample a little of it. Yes, I will accompany you Mister Pronk. We can regale the citizens of Busted Gut with tales of the Veil of Shytar. That should pay for our supper – and breakfast too – just as long as it’s toast and not tofu.”

So Bubbles and Barclay made their farewells and promised to keep in touch, then blasted skyward again…

“Well you had your little adventure on Worstworld.” Barclay said as the Prowler gained altitude…

…”do you think it’s time to go home and face the music?”

In the name of clarity Bubbles asked:

“The Star Chamber, you mean?”

“Sir Loftus Pupe and all the other Chamber Pots.” Barclay said carelessly. “After what we’ve seen and done, I hardly think they are going to worry us any.”

“You’re right, Barclay,” Bubbles replied as the Prowler regained the freedom of outer space…

…”We’ll just say goodbye to Bonzer and the Goosewing Grey, and then be on our way.”

And that’s exactly what they did…

“Bye, Captain Dragonsrectum,” Bubbles called over the radio, “have a nice trip back to Scroton.”

“Safe journey, brave earplugs.” Bonzer replied. “May good fortune fill your sails.”

“Metaphorically speaking.” The Science Officer added in the background.

And they were gone – both ships disappearing into entirely different hyper-space conduits to entirely different destinations.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Next up will be the epilogue. But until then, shots of particular note are: 5, which began life as a sheet of insulation material that I burnt with a heatshrink gun, then placed upon a sheet of translucent plastic through which I shone a light. 6 is two slices of wood that I cut from an interesting length of 4×2, sandwiching a sheet of completely different insulation material. I’ve had the shot ready for at least three years; finally it gets its day in the spotlight. And 9: for this shot I needed something roughly spherical and with an interesting surface to represent the night side of Worstworld. Tooty the Chef came to the rescue by supplying a pleasant buttock.  As everyone knows, furry bums create convincing cloud patterns.

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