Some More Apocalyptic Stuff

Since the extract from Silent Apocalypse went so well, I thought I might tickle your fancy with an excerpt from its sequel…

And why not; it’s fab!

My arrival in the quaint rural conurbation was instantaneous. One moment Tasman was wishing me good luck; the next I found myself standing on the pavement directly outside the village community hall. Tasman had asked me why I needed to be placed in the open air when he could just as easily place me inside the house again.

“I won’t have any difficulty getting into the house.” I’d said, “But I need to know what everyone else is doing before I act.”

So now I stood in a biting late November breeze; in my Navy SEALS battle dress; with my face blacked up; armed to the teeth; and listening to an ill-tuned upright piano being played appallingly inside the building beside me. Moments later a large group of young voices broke into song. They didn’t sing well, and the song itself could only be described as a dirge. Easing my body past a clump of stinging nettles that were tall and well past their best I slid my body along the slatted wooden exterior wall of the communal building. Standing upon tip-toes I peered through the grubby high level window. Inside I could see a facsimile of one of my dearest friends from my own continuum – Thomas Kingsbury. He was two years older than me, but this version looked as though he had twenty years over me. He was leading the youthful villagers in a rather old fashioned song that I didn’t recognise and which would have sounded better coming out of the mouths of people two generations older. In any other circumstance it might have been amusing, but I knew that it was the false meat that had done this harm, and it doubled my determination to correct the situation.

I think my heart must have missed a beat when I recognised the pianist. It was none other my best friend (and Tom’s younger sister) Katherine. Katherine the caustic, easy-quipping heroine had been reduced to playing the role of choir mistress.

‘Not that I have anything against choir mistresses: it’s just not Katherine’s ‘thing’.’

It was difficult for me to see everyone inside the building without running the risk of someone spotting my blackened face at the window. Nevertheless I did as best I could and was horrified to see the previously trouble-making Lee singing heartily. Donald was there too – at the back where I’d expect him to be, which suggested that the false meat hadn’t entirely stripped him of his inhibitions. Even poor simple Kevin Lutchins sang along as best he could. But my greatest horror was reserved to last. It came when the long mousey locks of the only person in the room bearing a gun were cast aside by a casual flick of the head. I too stood there; or at least my double did. I/she wasn’t singing, but I/she didn’t appear to be enjoying myself/herself either. That in itself wasn’t the true horror of the situation – she wasn’t, after all, really me at all: No, that came when the song ended, and Martine stood to deliver a speech. By taking up her position to the right, and slightly behind the alien girl, this world’s Felicity Goldsmith betrayed her position in the new order of Brambledown: She was the enemy’s body guard. Her personal Rottweiler!

I recalled at that moment what this world’s Colonel Cosgrove had told me of ‘his’ Felicity, and how he’d despatched her, Lee, Katherine, and Donald upon a mission from which they were yet to return. Now I knew what that mission was: to fetch the population of Brambledown to the sanctuary of Crag Base. Now they would never return. Now they were mere pawns in game played by a psychotic alien teen-ager who dreamed of her own empire.

‘Not if I have anything to do with it!’

With everyone who was likely to recognise me (despite the black face and cropped hair) together in one place, the time was ripe for me to act. Quickly making my way back to the pavement I struck out in the direction of the house that Martine had sequestered in my reality. I’d recognised it in the video recording so I knew that she’d done the same in this reality.

Less than two minutes had elapsed before I arrived at the house. It stood reasonably separate from its silent neighbours, and was surrounded by a chest high hedge that someone had maintained quite expertly. The gate creaked gently upon only slightly rusted hinges as I let myself on to the property. Gaining entry to the house was no problem; Martine, secure in the knowledge that no one of sufficient intelligence to break in existed, had left the door unlocked. I simply turned the round brass handle and stepped into the darkened house. Once inside I produced a tiny flashlight from a breast pocket and moved directly to the cellar door. Opening it I shone the narrow beam into the stygian darkness below. I was rewarded with the reflected light from a huge pile of metal canisters that had been stacked together in the centre of the room. There was no mistaking their identity; just like the one on the video returned by the camcorder, these too contained the hallucinogenic processed meat that reduced vibrant young people into malleable fools that could, in the worst cases, border upon zombie-like.

Recalling how I’d destroyed an identical stash in my own reality I searched the main room for oil lamps. Finding none I tried the drawing room, but without success. As if to prove that no two realities are entirely alike it seemed that this Martine had dispensed with quaint old fashioned technology, and had had an Espeeg generator installed. I found it in a cupboard under the stairs, and took great delight tearing the house wires from it. This act, if momentarily pleasurable, didn’t solve my problem.

‘Improvise, Fel: improvise.’

I needed a material that would burn easily and with high intensity. Balled up paper simply wouldn’t do, but that was all I could readily lay my hand on. I recalled passing a parked Land Rover in the street, but that was almost certainly powered by the virtually non-inflammable diesel; and in any case I doubted that I had the time or means to syphon any from the tank. Finding my way into the kitchen I tried looking in the cupboard beneath the sink. All I found were the remnants of some bleach and a bottle of floor cleaner. From there I proceeded into the integral garage.

‘Bingo!’   

From my position in the doorway that led from the kitchen I was looking straight at a shelf upon the opposite wall of the garage. My flashlight beam had ensnared two bottles of white spirit that perched invitingly at one end of the shelf.

I don’t recall crossing the distance between the door and the shelf, or finding a box to stand upon in order to reach the manna from heaven. Neither was I aware of returning to the kitchen; snatching a pile of tea towels from the worktop; and returning to the cellar. It seemed as if no time had passed at all. But I was very aware of what I was doing as I soaked the tea towels with white spirit, then stripped the dining table of its cloth covering and drenched that too.

I tried throwing a tea towel into the cellar, but the false meat stack was too distant and it fell short. A second attempt failed in the same manner. Despite not wanting to descend into the cellar for fear of being discovered and having no escape route I was forced to pluck up the courage and make my way down. Having done so I tucked the towels into every nook and cranny I could find in the stack of canisters, and then draped the table cloth over the top. Stepping back to look at my handiwork I felt reasonably pleased. All I needed now was an ignition source. Unfortunately the contents of several drawers yielded not one match or lighter. I considered turning on an electric ring of the kitchen stove with the idea of setting alight a length of screwed up paper and carrying it down into the cellar. But I realised that my earlier act of vandalism  had scuppered that plan. So instead I loosed off a shot from my MP7. It was a standard full metal jacket, and merely split open a couple of cans. The second had the same effect. But the third was a tracer round, and its white-hot incandescent casing ignited the vapours that rose from the spirit-soaked material. Instantly flames erupted across and through the stack of canisters. In a few seconds the blaze had engulfed it – heating up the fatty medium in which the false meat was suspended, turning it to liquid, where it flowed from the bullet holes, and proved most inflammable. I sent several more rounds into the inferno – spreading the fire further and wider.

I was about to congratulate myself upon a job well done when something came from the darkness behind me and knocked me senseless. I felt no pain as I tumbled like a ragdoll down the stairs into the cellar. Neither did I feel the coldness of the flagstone cellar floor or the searing heat of the fire at the cellar’s centre. But I was aware of a female voice screeching in anger and desperation.

“Who cares who she is: put out the fire. Put out the fire!”

This was followed by the abrupt illumination of the houselights on the floor above me and the clatter of a multitude of shod feet.

As my senses returned fully I became aware that I was lying upon my back and looking up the short flight of stairs that I had so recently fallen down. Illuminated by the flames that seemed to be coming ever closer to me I could see a solitary figure looking down at me. She wore her hair long and cradled an MP7 much like my own which lay a distance from me and appeared to be melting as the lava-like juices from the cans engulfed it.

“Fel.” I shouted at her. “Fel!”

She appeared to be startled at this. The barrel of her gun wavered as a look of confusion passed across her face.

“I’m you.” I lied. “I’ve come from the future.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Whoo – are you wondering what happens next – or even what the heck is going on? Buy the book and its prequel, and you’ll find out soon enough

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Portrait Gallery 86: White Walls: Black Ironwork

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Leonard Nimoy Saved My Sanity

I’m not a big fan of flying. In fact, if it wasn’t for Scopoderm motion sickness patches, I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere outside the UK.  Also, once take-off is complete, I find it a bit…well…boring. MP3 players help, of course; but time drags. So imagine my horror, recently, when strolling to the departure gate at Southampton Airport, I discovered a huge empty aircraft apron, where normally a graceful Embraer 195 awaits my embarkation. Horror turned to consternation and disbelief as my shuttle bus driver drove me to the opposite end of the apron – to be greeted by the sight of a 78-seater Bombardier Q400 Dash 8.

“What?” I exclaimed. “But, but, but that’s a business shuttle: it flies to Newcastle or Exeter. Paris, at a push. It can’t possibly take me to Spain!”

A couple of  hours later…

Golly, lucky me, it’s only another hour before we land. Thank god I remembered to bring along some reading material; otherwise only insanity would deign to be my travelling companion. And the choice of this oh-so-necessary reading material? Logic dictated that it should be this, of course…

I fabulous actor. A wonderful writer. And a great loss to us all.

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Junior Earplug Adventures: Winning Numbers (Part Forty-Six)

Onlie continued to feel shocked and appalled for several more minutes, before, suddenly overcome by a desire to vomit, she rushed to the ladie’s loo. This left Chester alone for twenty minutes, which was easily enough time for the Greenhorn Girls to approach and engage him in conversation…

“Gosh,” Margret opened, “aren’t you like your brother, Magnuss!”

Chester had to agree. Why wouldn’t he? The presence of seven attractive females could make him say or do anything. “Yes.” He answered. “And so is my twin, Miles. Of course you know Magnuss from his adventure in your alternate reality.”

This was just the opening that Margret was looking for…

“Thank you, Chester.” She said warmly. “That is just the opening I’m looking for. Let me confess something to you.” She continued. “Our reality is ensnared by the grip of a terrible ice-age…”

Margret stopped when she noticed a knowing smile spread across Chester’s boyish face.

“I thought that might be the case.” Chester said. “By sheer luck, our museum doesn’t have a resident dance act: a serious omission, I think you’ll agree. I wonder if you might deign to grace us with your company there. The Café Puke is looking to branch out into entertainment: your troupe would be the logical first step.”

Well Chester couldn’t possibly have produced a more beautiful form of music to the dancing girl’s ears – even if he’d twanged his nasal hair like harp strings, or taken a piccolo; introduced it to his bum; and blown off through it.”

“We’ll take the gig!” They screamed as one. “Chester, we love you!”

It was later that day, when an icy planet hove into view upon the K T Woo’s scanners…

“Looks chilly, Sinclair, dearest.” Nancy Brooch ruminated.

Naturally Sinclair ordered the ship straight into the mystery planet’s atmosphere…

Below, upon a an ice-floe, familiar-looking inhabitants looked up…

Well one of them did: the others were too worried sick by the sound of the K T Woo’s passage to look, and so kept their gaze averted. As the ship whooshed across the sky, it caught the attention of others…

One of whom watched as it landed upon the frozen surface…

By now Onlie had fully recovered from her sense of disgust. As Chester waited for Don Quibonki and Panta Lonez to finish at the Deck Three pissoire, she could barely contain her excitement… 

And Chester was relieved that he’d taken the time for a quick wee, because when he opened a passenger airlock…

…a viciously cold blast greeted him. But Onlie didn’t notice.

“Home.” She said quietly.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

 

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Some Apocalyptic Stuff

Yes, after much frivolity its time for an excerpt from this fair tale…

And why not, it is my better-selling tome after all.

To shield his eyes, Driver crammed a wide brimmed hat on to his balding head. He then clambered in with us; extracted a huge hand gun from a metal box; before returning to the driving seat. He arrived in time to see two figures – one male, and one female – arrive with a confident stride from the darkness beyond. They were both dressed in identical, well-tailored coveralls and wearing helmets with rather intimidating mirrored visors. They held sophisticated-looking hand guns, the like of which none of us had ever seen.

Driver shook his gun at them: “You two can get lost, for a start!” He shouted.

The two figures either didn’t notice, which seemed unlikely, or they simply weren’t interested in what he had to say. To me it reeked of great arrogance; and that worried me.

Surely they recognized the lethalness of the weapon he held? ‘Or do they? Do they care? Who are they?’

They seemed far more interested in Horse. They approached, not with caution, but with open fascination. Horse tried to back away, but the Crag Bus stopped it. A small, sharp blade appeared in the hand of the male figure. I was horrified at the thought that they might actually dissect the animal then and there.

Naturally Driver was alarmed. He fired a shot in the air. This gained the attention of our two strange visitors. They approached Driver – totally oblivious of the gun aimed at them. They looked at his face – moving hands to their visors – which seemed to become transparent automatically – as though they were comparing the lines of Driver’s face, with an absence upon their own.

Kevin was absorbed with the whole situation. Unseen by any of us, he’d begun to lean out of one of the windows to gain a better view. Because of this the male figure became aware of us. It was a slow awareness. Not the sort when something catches your eye, or when you hear a sudden sound. No, this was slow – almost as if he’d known all along, and was only now letting us know that he’d seen us: that we’d finally gained his interest. His gaze gradually moved in our direction. It was like the whole world had gone into slow motion. His gaze slid along the sides of the Crag Bus, until his eyes locked with mine. How I knew this, I can’t say because his eyes were in deep shadow: But I knew. Then Kevin fell out of the window.

The two sophisticated handguns ascended as one. Both fired a single shot that made an unusual, but characteristic ‘zip’ sound that I’d not heard before.

Driver roared, “No!” He then squeezed the trigger of his handgun. Nothing happened, and he began shaking it in frustration.

The stranger’s weapons shifted their aim to the drivers’ seat. As if in response came several ‘puffs’ of silenced machine gun fire from an unidentified source. Both figures received direct strikes to their torsos. They staggered for a moment, and although we could see no blood or obvious damage to their coveralls, we were sure they would fall.

Katherine screamed in horror. Then she screamed again, but this time in fear for her own safety as, unbelievably, both figures recovered their balance and began casting around for signs of their assailants. Clearly confused, the female brought her weapon back to bear on Driver.

Lee let loose with the SA80. The female was flung bodily across the road by the impacts, but, as far as I could see, her suit was undamaged.

‘Wafer-thin body armour?’

The Male reacted by firing in our direction, several holes appearing in the side of the vehicle, but mercifully missing any living targets. Driver’s gun suddenly freed its obstruction, and seemingly fired itself at extremely close range. The old gun packed a huge punch; but although the male figure was sent reeling, he remained essentially unhurt and rolled back on to his feet with worrying agility.

“Get down.” I yelled at the old man.

But he was already on his way to cover. Showing remarkable nimbleness for a man of his age he was able to leap clear before the female figure opened fire upon his driving position.

Wonderful thing – adrenaline: Makes us all into Superman.

Donald and Katherine fired as one. By luck, or chance, each had selected different targets. Both scored hits, but with the same lack of ultimate effect. Rather belatedly (I thought) I finally squeezed off a few shots. Some hit their targets – most didn’t. But it helped keep the strangers off balance – if not really turning the tide of battle – for that was what we were surely in, as our opponents were able to respond with occasional shots in our direction.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Kevin rise slowly. He spotted Driver lurking behind the Crag Bus. As quickly as his four limbs could carry him, Kevin scrambled to join the old man. I then noticed the two holes in his haversack. Once again he’d escaped serious harm, and at that moment I promised myself that if I ever met the man who’d manufactured such a sturdy haversack I would give him the biggest kiss that there ever was. Then, almost simultaneously, our ammunition ran out. That stark moment of silence was followed by a lingering moment of horror as the two figures began advancing toward us – their guns raised.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

 

 

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Junior Earplug Adventures: Winning Numbers (Part Forty-Five)

A great joy swept through the multitude of earplugs that lived and breathed within the crippled K T Woo. But soon enough it was back to the day job; and to the difficult repairs that the ship required – that is if they wanted it to ever traverse the sea of space again. Then things got more difficult for the good captain, when Chester presented himself and Onlie Polony to the bridge crew… 

Naturally the bridge crew assumed that they were sharing a vivid hallucination and were loathe to respond. But Nancy Brooch was a very level-headed female thimble: she trusted her senses to the nth degree. She quickly used her wits to think of a way to convince everyone else of the validity of Chester’s claim: “Oh, Sinclair,” She yelled in her husband’s ear, “if he’s the real Chester Earplug, he’ll have his emergency cossack hat in his back pocket.”

It was a brilliant idea and Chester grabbed the opportunity like a stranded whelk…

…and whipped out his cossack hat like a very average stage magician whips out a bunch of fake flowers, a length of bunting, some lead pipe, or a startled pigeon, from his breast pocket, and explained his situation.

Naturally Onlie was surprised; but the bridge crew…

…were pleased as punch. As far as they were concerned, having an Earplug Brother on board had increased their chances of surviving and returning to Earth by one thousand per cent. But that didn’t stop Sinclair from saying: “Chester, young fella, we’ll be lucky to limp back to the Museum of Future Technology: we can’t go chasing ’round the backwoods of the hind end of the galaxy, looking for an ice world: we could maroon ourselves in space until Hell freezes over!”

This disappointed Chester. For a moment he was lost for words. He hadn’t expected to be turned down…

 

But then Hakking Chestikov, who was back on the toilet, spoke up: “But, Captain,” he said as he smiled at Onlie, “isn’t part of our remit to save beautiful damsels in distress? Onlie, here certainly looks distressed to me.”

Other bridge crew agreed…

“Oh yes, Captain.” Lillie Whitewater bellowed. “And Chester is a Hero of the Museum of Future Technology – who happen to be our benefactors.”

“Yeah,” Huge Johnson roared, “what would they think if we arrived back, all safe and sound, knowing that we hadn’t even tried?”

“Oh, for flips’s sake.” Sinclair groaned. “This isn’t a democracy, ya know. But if you’re all so fired up about it…ah, heck, go on: get the sensors searching for an ice world. See what you can find.”

So it was a mightily relieved Chester that exited the bridge with his blue chum…

“Fame has its advantages.” He whispered to Onlie.

But she wasn’t really listening. “The First Officer.” She said quietly. “Did I really witness that? Was he really on the toilet when he made a veiled pass at me.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

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How Many Earplugs Does it Take to Create an Adventure?

WARNING: BLATANT ADVERTISEMENT AHEAD

Ten maybe? Twenty-Five? No, slightly more than that…

I mean…a whole lot more…

So…how about you buy a few Earplug Adventure e-books. Someone’s gotta pay for all this stuff after all!

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