But, unfortunately for Magnuss, his control over the direction in which the flying saucer flew was easily usurped by the simple expedient of flipping a switch in ‘Ground Control’ and flying it remotely – with Magnuss now reduced to the level of passenger, or even possibly ‘ballast’…
So, despite the famous earplug’s protestations, the small craft climbed out of Scroton’s atmosphere, where…
…it cleverly reconfigured itself back into the original shape and specification. Not that Magnuss noticed, of course: he was too busy gasping for air. It seemed that there was still some work to be done with the craft’s structural integrity.
Meanwhile, far below, Edni, Sponson, and Saskia had infiltrated the Grand Plaza of Scroton Prime – just as a passing security patrol…um…passed…
They spoke in whispers…
“I used to know them.” Edni told the others. “One of them used to be my neighbour – before the security forces press-ganged him into servitude. The one in the middle, with red eyes”
“He doesn’t look particularly grumpy or upset.” Saskia observed.
“That’s because he’s been brainwashed.” Edni hissed angrily. “Inside he’s still the same old dung beetle herder that he always was – and was born to be. I imagine he must be screaming on the inside.”
“He doesn’t look like he’s screaming on the inside.” Sponson argued.
“What’s his name?” Saskia inquired.
“Dragoon Blimp.” Edni replied. “I wonder if he recognises me in my new guise.”
“Who are the others?” Saskia asked further.
“Does it matter? They’re security force members: we don’t need to know.” Edni snapped slightly louder than was comfortable for any of them.
Sponson sided with Saskia: “It would be nice to know.” He said in a slightly complaining tone of voice. “Just in case we meet them socially or something.”
“Bertram Hisscod and Flutie McTurd.” Edni whispered impatiently. “Now let’s follow them, and see where they take us.”
So they did…
…and it wasn’t long before they discovered that the three yellow cable ends weren’t on a regular patrol, as they’d imagined, but were on a mission to accompany some very important persons from one region of Scroton Prime to another. And those very important persons were none other than Nigel the Golden Cable End, and (the recently returned from orbit) Magnuss Earplug…
“I can’t apologise enough.” Nigel was saying to Magnuss as the multi-coloured trio came within earshot of their leader. “I’ll have the tech-guy responsible for almost suffocating you taken out of his laboratory, shipped up to the northern polar region, stripped of his underpants, and dropped through a hole in the ice. If necessary I’ll have one cut especially.”
“Ooh, I’m not certain that the punishment quite fits the crime.” Magnuss, an essentially kind earplug, was replying. “Perhaps I could clip him ’round the back of the head with the heel of my hand when he least expects it. Maybe when he’s struggling with some bothersome spaghetti, or when he’s on the toilet. That’d be a nasty surprise.”
It was at this moment that Bertram Hisscod noticed the three fugitives watching. He quickly moved to intercept…
“You can’t be here.” He informed them without preamble.
“But this is the Grand Plaza.” Edni argued without forethought. “As citizens of Scroton Prime we’re allowed here. At certain times of the day it’s very popular. Just because it’s dark doesn’t mean honest folk can’t go for a pleasant stroll you know!”
“True.” Bertram replied – the wind taken out of his metaphorical sails for a moment. “But the Golden One is passing through with an important galactic ally. We can’t have anyone around right now: some disgruntled cable end might hurl abuse or toss yesterday’s custard ration in their direction.”
Sponson was stunned. “You mean that there is actual dissent amongst some elements of society? I’m…ah…stunned.”
Bertram looked closely at the three cable ends before him, perhaps for the first time. “And I’m stunned that you don’t know that.”
“We don’t watch the news on TV.” Saskia answered athletically.
Her response was, perhaps, a little too quick. “Show me some I.D.” Bertram demanded.
Sponson’s brain shifted into overdrive: “I left mine in a jar on the mantelpiece above the fireplace.”
Saskia’s words came almost at fast, but were far more telling in their effectiveness: “And I keep mine in the bottom of the drawer that contains all my lacy underwear. All of them – including the ones I’m not wearing now.” *
This was the opening that Edni had been waiting for. Fluttering her delightful eyelids, which best showed off her lustrous white orb-like eyes, she said: “Oh Bertram, you don’t want to see my silly old identity card: let’s find a quiet bar and have a little drink together – just you and I.”
So whilst Bertram tried to regain control of his lolling tongue, Edni spoke to her compatriots from the side of her mouth: “I’ll take care of this guy: you two follow the alien. I have a feeling that we might have a future use for him.”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017
- * Don’t worry, this line of dialogue will not appear in the child-friendly e-book version of this tale.