The Time Tamperer (part 42)

But Mister Pong found himself hesitant to begin, especially when he noticed the RoboSecGuas lined up – menacingly, he thought – against the Grand Hall’s walls…

“Er,” he prefaced his oratory, “here goes. I, Piggies Du Pong, hereby state that, with a few brainwashed exceptions, whom I require to service my needs, you are all to vacate the Museum of Technology…

…immediately. You will be led across the Obsidian Plain, to a subterranean place of incarceration, which, incidentally, is a re-creation of an equally subterranean Martian village…

…where you will remain until I think of something useful for you to do. Okay – yeah?”

The populace looked at each other…

“Ye Gods.” A particularly ugly sod with bulging yellow eyes and huge sharp incisors exclaimed.” This is outrageous. I’m outraged. In fact I couldn’t be more outraged if I’d attended lessons in outragism at the University of Outrageousness!”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.” His vaguely fish-faced friend replied. “I’m a bit cheesed off too. I once visited the Martian exhibit: I wasn’t impressed: there was no Cafe Puke and the toilets were blocked with cigarette butts.”

Others were no less unimpressed…

Some stared wildly: whilst others gave sidelong looks at their neighbour’s startled out-gassings. But all agreed – including Piggies’ spokesplug…

…Mr Pong – that the situation was really poopy, and that they were powerless to resist…

So, before the hour was out, they were on their way across the bleak, featureless, Great Chalk Plain…

… en route to the Obsidian Plain, in a meandering, serpentine, sore-footed, caravan of misery…

“Move along, you bunch of useless half-wits.” The rear-most RoboSecGua squawked through it’s forward speech grill. “We haven’t got all night, you know!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

The Time Tamperer (part 41)

Meanwhile Piggies had led Mincey on a whistle-stop tour of his temporal edifice; but eventually he paused in a bright shiny place that reminded Mincey of a urine-infused splash pool…

There, he decided to tell Mincey the tale of how he had successfully depopulated the museum. “It was great fun.” He said. “There I was – standing in my newly acquired curator’s penthouse – looking out of the frosted glass lavatory window…

…when I decided to step out on to the balcony…

…and send for my right-hand RoboSecGua – best-known as EvilRoboSecGua…

It, in turn, summoned more operatives of the security force to my, admittedly vast balcony…

Who – yes you guessed it – summoned the rest…

So once every servomechanism was in place, I explained to them what I had done – being the brilliant severance of this era from all other periods in time. Naturally they made the only logical decision open to them: they pledged fealty to me.”

“Flipping heck!” Mincey exclaimed…

“Did you hear that, Heathrow? All the RoboSecGuas sided with Piggies DuPong!”

Heathrow wasn’t particularly worldly-wise; but even a plugmutt could see that the situation wasn’t the best it could possibly be. “Golly.” He responded.

But he said no more because Piggies continued his tale: “I contacted my namesake – an exotic restaurateur named Mister Pong…

…and threatened to have his noodle bar closed down if he didn’t act as my spokesplug to all of the most important people in the museum.”

“Hey,” Mister Pong began reading from a small note that I had handed to him, “Piggies DuPong’s got a message for all you guys and guy-esses. And I’m gonna read it to ya.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

The Time Tamperer (part 40)

For several seconds Piggies continued to stare at the image of Magnuss and Hair-Trigger in the hope that his brain would eventually recall some information about it. But it was from another source that he discovered both figure’s identity…

…as Heathrow arrived with a relieved Mincey aboard.

“Why hello.” Mincey said as Piggies turned to greet the unexpected intrusion, “I see you’re a fan of Magnuss Earplug and his daring girlfriend, Hair-Trigger Provost. I’m Mincey Muir, by the way, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to meet you: I’ve been dragged to this era on the back of this nauseating plugmutt. For a while there I thought this place was deserted.”

Piggies was a tad stunned by Mincey’s appearance; partly because he thought he’d successfully sealed his private era from the rest of time by cleverly sabotaging the Tunnel Temporal several years earlier, before supposedly inventing the faulty Tubo Di Tempo, which he’d designed to fail miserably on cue, in the future. He also recognised the actress from a TV farce she’d made in her early career, entitled ‘I’m Sorry, I’ve Dropped My Guts‘, and thought that she was quite the prettiest female earplug that he’d ever clapped his eyes upon. “Oh.” He replied. “That’s nice. I’m Piggies Du Pong: I think the Cafe Puke’s coffee machine still works: how’d you fancy a ghastly mug of coffee and a soggy biscuit?”

Well, at that precise moment, with her nerves frayed to within microns of tolerance, Mincey was game for anything. “Lead on.” She replied. “I hope they have sweeteners there; I’m watching my figure you know.”

And so the abducted earplug followed the temporal genius and megalomaniac as he rode his hover scooter away…

Meanwhile, far away in both time and space, the subjects of the populist poster were relaxing in the swimming pool of Magnuss’ auntie’s holiday home…

“It’s really nice and all that, Magnuss,” Hair-Trigger said hesitantly as their lounger bobbed up and down on the night-cooled water, “but after a few days doing sod-all, I’m feeling, you know, a bit stir-crazy. Do you think we might have another adventure together? It’s been quite a while since the last one. I’m afraid we might lose our touch.”

Magnuss had been feeling much the same way. “I don’t suppose Auntie Doris would mind if we took our leave.” He replied. “Quick; get paddling, Hairy.”

So, moments later…

…they were on their way back to the Museum of Future Technology, where…

…Cushions soon brought them up to speed concerning recent events.

“Oh, crikey.” Magnuss said when Cushions completed her oratory. “It looks like we arrived in the nick of…er…time. Well fear not, we’re on the case. We’ll have things sorted in a jiffy. Or my name isn’t Magnuss Magnificent Earplug!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

The Time Tamperer (part 39)

By the time that Tanganika had reached the nearest Transfer Conduit Station, dawn had broken and she was able to follow a pair station workers inside…

But as the pink and mauve duo made their way to their workplace, Tanganika proceeded alone along the imposing foyer…

…where she was horrified to discover that the lavatories remained locked. So, keeping her knees pressed together, she took the shortest route possible to the Travel Pods…

…where she was surprised to find the same two earplugs that she’d followed into the building earlier.

“Hello, aren’t you the early bird!” The pink station worker said with a welcoming smile.

“I suppose I am.” Tanganika replied. “Actually I’ve been up all night, walking here. Please tell me that you can transport me to the Museum of Future Technology directly from here.”

“Would you care for an orange travel pod?” The equally smiley mauve station worker said by way of an affirmative answer. “Or perhaps a slightly more expensive yellow pod?”

Naturally Tanganika enquired after the price disparity.

“The yellow pod,” the intuitive mauve station worker said knowingly, “stops off at half-way station…with toilet facilities.”

So, equally naturally, the crossed-legged Tanganika chose the more expensive option…

…and within moments of handing over the requisite number of Pluggentos, the daring space pilot was on her way…

…to an appointment with destiny.

At that precise moment an element of the aforementioned destiny was riding his hover scooter through the multitude of passageways, thoroughfares, and corridors of the Museum of Future Technology…

And he was enjoying it immensely – safe in the knowledge that the few remaining brain-washed inhabitants of the Museum of Future Technology were obeying his instruction to be somewhere else while he raced around like he owned the place, which, of course, he did. But then he hovered into range of a huge wall poster that caught his attention…

Stopping the scooter, he stepped off the futuristic machine and took a long look at the image of two figures that towered above him…

“Who the heck are they?” He grumbled. “Non-entities, obviously. But I’d better find out who they are just in case: my ignorance could impact upon the success of my amazing plan to rule the Museum in every era – from the dawn of time at the Big Bang, to the moment when the universe winks out of existence in the Big Crunch; not just this one.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

The Time Tamperer (part 38)

Her recent experiences may have reduced Mincey Muir to protoplasmic glop, but far away in pea-farming country, the amnesic Tanganika Chunks was having problems of her own…

Although her memory of her life prior to escaping the wreckage of her disintegrating space ship continued to prove inaccessible, she was beginning to have doubts concerning the tales of her saviour, Lobby Lowe. Looking at her space pilot’s hands she couldn’t really believe that she had agreed to become a pea farmer’s wife. She also doubted that she would ever have found a male earplug, who liked nothing more than taking cold showers before breakfast, playing a fiddle whilst singing repetitive folk songs, and shucking peas for great fun and little profit, either attractive or vaguely interesting. Now he was inviting her to see his latest creation – his mud house.

“Come, Tanganika, my beloved.” Lobby said as he unlocked the door. “Come see where I intend to start a new hobby: fungus growing.”

Although she was far from keen to enter the damp, smelly, abode of the spore, she played the role of dutiful future-wife to the hilt…

But, despite her best efforts, she simply couldn’t feel impressed. “There’s nothing in here, Lobby.” She called to the pea farmer, who waited outside.

“There’s the red heat lamp.” Lobby’s disembodied voice replied. “And look at those high shelves: aren’t they great?”

Naturally Tanganika did as she was bid…

“Er, there appears to be four of them.” She answered non-committedly. She was about to add: “I suppose you’ll be putting the seed boxes on top of them.” when, suddenly, the farm’s wind-powered electricity generator sent a surge of energy through the flimsy wiring. It resulted in…

…a vivid flash that scorched her eyeballs and frazzled the brain behind them. “Yikes!” She exclaimed. But as the light levels resumed their normal somnolent drabness…

…Tanganika made the shock discovery that she could remember who she was, what she did for a living, her favourite colour, her preferred style of knickers, and her dislike of peas, sprouts, or any kind of small, green, spherical vegetables.

“Oh, by the Saint of All Earplugs.” She whispered sotto voce, “I have to get the heck out of here.”

“What’s that, my love?” Lobby inquired from the other side of the door.

“Nothing, Lobby, you wonderful male earplug.” Tanganika lied like a real estate agent. “I think I’d like to come back outside now.”

But several hours later, as dusk turned to night…

…Tanganika left Lobby holding his mug of sleeping-pill infused cocoa and slipped out of the front door of his cheap plastic house unobserved. From there she quickly proceeded in a westerly direction. But not before donning her precious space helmet…

And she continued to walk, at an ever-increasing pace, into the sewer system of the nearby village, from which she emerged into moonlight …

Noting  that everyone had taken to their beds, she slipped through the village…

…intent upon one thing alone: escaping to somewhere far, far away. Preferably somewhere with soft lavatory tissue.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

 

 

The Time Tamperer (part 37)

Initially Mincey felt threatened by the unexpected arrival of the RoboSecGua – especially when it caught her in a pincer movement with Heathrow…

But any suspicions that she might have harboured concerning their motives were dispelled when the RoboSecGua informed her that she had won the lottery…

…and invited her to jump aboard Heathrow so that he could transport her to Lottery Central with alacrity and gusto. Naturally, trusting the security forces with an unthinking passion, she complied without a qualm…

But Sir Dodger was a far wiser earplug. “I say, old chap.” He whispered into the robot’s rear auditory receptor, “you weren’t being entirely truthful just then. What’s this all about?”

The RoboSecGua admired Sir Dodger, not only because of his appearances in thrilling motion pictures, such as ‘The Earplug Who Haunted his Dad‘, ‘Pewter!’, and ‘North Sea High Jinks’, but because he adored mobile eyebrows to such an extent that it simply couldn’t lie. “Um,” it began uncertainly, “nothing much really. We are…ah…protecting the Museum of Future Technology from an insidious threat.”

“My daughter.” Sir Dodger said with a sense of familial disappointment. “She’s as lousy an earplug as she is a movie producer. Not a bad actress though. Best not put her on trial: she’ll have the judge wrapped around her finger in three seconds flat.”

“We don’t intend to.” The RoboSecGua replied, which Sir Doger thought sounded rather ominous. Especially when Mincey discovered that she was trapped upon Heathrow’s back by a series of tiny suction cups that had extruded from his shell and affixed to her buttocks like limpets.

Her subsequent screaming hadn’t stopped even when…

…they arrived at the Tubo Di Tempo and the RoboSecGua pulled rank and told the Time Techs to ‘shove off’ in no uncertain terms. And the noise intensified by several quanta when…

…Heathrow undeviatingly carried her straight into the time machine.

“No,” she managed between breaths, “not temporal relocation: I’m allergic to the passage of time – specially in the wrong direction!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

 

The Time Tamperer (part 36)

“You can help us find Mincey Muir.” The RoboSecGua (which had no desire to hear Flaccid’s vacuous chattering any longer than absolutely necessary) replied sharply.

“Excuse me, Sir.” Flaccid dared respond. “But who the flip is Mincey Muir?”

“Bad girl.” Heathrow replied.

“None of your business.” The RoboSecGua answered Flaccid. “She is beige coloured and looks a bit like a young Sir Dodger Muir. Well can you help us find her?”

“Wanna punish her bad.” Heathrow offered.

Flaccid was loathe to reply; but when he did it was in the negative. “Um, sorry.” He said, “But our search party is busy in the past.”

“Looking for missing visitors.” Nature Beast added. Then to Heathrow he said: “You catch her, Nature Beast punish her bad. Punch her in the face real hard. And kick her up the arse too.”

Following Nature Beast’s misuse of the Earplug language, the thought of what type of punishment should be administered to Mincey became uppermost in the RoboSecGua’s cybernetic mind. It remained in pole position as it, and it’s plugmutt sidekick, travelled by the Time Techs, who were busy fiddling with the idling Tubo Di Tempo…

An almost silent power surge caught its robotic attention; and it turned to regard the futuristic, but faulty, device…

“Hmmm.” It hummed speculatively.

“Hmmm?” Heathrow inquired.

“Yes; hmmm.” The RoboSecGua replied…

…as it turned away. “I am in receipt of a really neat idea.”

“About Mincey?” Heathrow asked hopefully.

“Indeed, Heathrow, my surprisingly aerodynamic chum.” The RoboSecGua answered. “And I have applied logic to the task of finding the ghastly female too. Success is virtually certain. Follow me.”

At that precise moment the subject of the RoboSecGua’s quest was in the act of talking the ears off her father…

“Yes, and what’s more, when I’m in charge I can have a wonderful Dacha built for you in Siberia. It’ll be wonderful. You’ll be able to ride about on sleighs and shoot Caribou to your heart’s content.”  

For a moment Sir Dodger was almost tempted. He raised a vaguely surprised eyebrow. “You certainly make your ascension to the throne sound most attractive.” He said quietly. “I certainly do enjoy loosing off powerful hollow-tipped ammunition in all directions. Tell me; this Dacha: will it have an outside Jacuzzi in the back garden?”

Little did either Muir know, but the RoboSecGua’s use of logic had proved fruitful. It had reasoned that Mincey would try to convince her curator father to help her. He also knew that, at about this time of day, Sir Dodger loved to get lost in the museum maze.

“Ah-ha.” It’s tinny voice box tried to boom. “Gotcha!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

Cricetinae Fictionem – or Something Like That: 23

It has been quite a while since I posted an extract from one of these books…

They are, of course, the legendary Hamster-Sapiens series. And on this occasion I have chosen a random extract from my favourite – The Psychic Historian.

The mayor warmly greeted the Chinese fact-finding mission after they were plucked from the swell, dried off, dressed in the only clothing available that would fit them – the local girl’s school sod-ball team uniform – and were presented to him.

“What is your name, brave sir?” He inquired of the ageing oriental who was feeling distinctly embarrassed in his dark green gym slip, white plimsolls, and pneumatic shoulder pads.

“Mister Fong – Senior.” The Chinese hamster replied proudly, despite his apparel.

“Of course you realize that you have done the town of Sadness a great service.” The mayor informed him.

“Suppose so.” Mister Fong (Senior) replied once more.

The mayor looked around at all the town councillors as they gathered in the rain upon the steps of the town hall in front of almost the entire population of Sadness.

“Is there any way that we can repay you for your act of heroism?” he inquired.

This was just the opening that Number One son was waiting for. He’d been practicing his speech for this moment since he’d been placed beneath a hair dryer in the parlour of a seafront beautician in an attempt to make him look more presentable.

“Yeah.” He said loudly as he stepped in front of his honoured father, “There is. Pops wants to set up chain of Chinese restaurants in Hamster-Britain. He don’t like taxes and organized crime. You take care of both – he make Sadness into happy town.”

The mayor mulled this over, and then whispered quietly amongst his acolytes.

“Chinese food, eh?” He said at last. “Is it nice?”

“It’s a bit samey.” Number One son confessed, “But, yeah, I think it’s nice.”

After a moment’s further thought the mayor extended a welcoming paw to Mister Fong (Senior). “May your life in Sadness be long and fruitful. But, sorry, the name Stickee-Lickee will have to go: It’s a bit rude.”

Number Two son quickly scurried forward. “What about plan B, honoured father?” He said. “We call it Golden Showers. Nothing rude about that.”

Again the mayor smiled. “Perfect. We have a deal?”

Then, finally, Mister Fong (Senior) smiled. “No.” He said, “You no speak Hamster British proper: We GOT a deal!”

With that the picture faded out, and someone wisely raised the house lights. It had been a moving moment for all concerned. Hamster-Britain had been a sallow, disrupted nation – until the arrival of egg fried rice. The audience took a moment to give thanks to the Saint of All Hamsters for having led the Fongs to Fadness. Then the current Fongs reanimated.

“Well was it good?” Yu Wah inquired of Sorbresto. “Did my forebears really act with great courage and chivalry?”

Tears formed in Sorbresto’s eyes. ‘Was that all that this fabulous beauty had wanted to know? That her family had acted with honour?’

“Yes.” He said, as he tried male-hamsterly to reign in his emotions.

“That’s good.” Yu Wah smiled massively “Now we have rampant sex – yes?”

Sorbresto smiled the smile of a much-travelled, world-weary, male hamster. “Yes – now we have rampant sex. But not here: I have a trailer out the back. It has a chandelier to swing from if you’re really keen.”

Upon the stage Boney’s legs wobbled in amazement at this turn of events. But then a profitable thought crossed his mind, and he spoke these words…

“Intermission, everybody. Food an’ drink available for all. I can even send out for Chinese if anyone’s interested. All at very reasonable prices of course.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

 

The Time Tamperer (part 35)

Meanwhile Heathrow the plugmutt was busy expressing his concerns about Mincey Muir to his favourite RoboSecGua…

“Mincey bad girl.” He said earnestly.

RoboSecGuas were programmed to recognise earnestness when they saw it; so the machine intelligence responded favourably to the small, simple critter that stood before it. “You mentioned something similar before.” It reminded Heathrow. “Do you have any further information, upon which this Robot Security Guard can act?”

“Yeah.” Heathrow replied as he tried desperately to find the right words within his limited vocabulary. “Cushions Smethwyke.” He managed.

“The toothy broad who runs this place?” The RoboSecGua urged.

If Heathrow could have smiled it  would have been as wide as the Woven Expanse. “Yeah.” He answered. “Mincey want job. Mincey plan coop data.”

The RoboSecGua had think about this. “Hmmm.” It said at last. “Do you mean Coup D’tat?”

Heathrow decided that he did. His smile broadened to include the Wide Blue Yonder. “Yeah. We go find her now?”

So moments later passers-by failed entirely to notice the servomechanism and the plugmutt begin their search…

But, initially at least, the search did not go to plan…

For example they exposed an old and long-forgotten well, down which they peered…

…fruitlessly. Then they tried the Up and Down ramps, where they discovered a huge, evil-smelling…

…coiled pile of excrement, which the RoboSecGua examined with its mighty olfactory array.

“I don’t think this came from an earplug.” It concluded.

So it was on to the Fort Balderdash exhibit, where they interviewed visitors…

“Excuse me.” The RoboSecGua said as it accosted…

…a particularly unattractive individual with stupid hair: “Do you know the whereabouts of a beige female by the name of Mincey Muir?”

The visitor didn’t; but he made a helpful suggestion. So, a short while later, Heathrow led the RoboSecGua into the T.W.I.T control room…

Naturally Major Flaccid was the epitome of obsequiousness. “My, a representative of the security forces.” He said as he turned away from a dubious-looking experiment upon Nature Beast. “How can I help you – beside prostrating myself before you of course?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

The Time Tamperer (part 34)

Naturally this intrigued the two Twit agents…

“Go on.” Neville urged the zombies. “What’s so special that you need to share it with us?”

Equally naturally Clux and Grimnax were pleased that Pixie and Neville were willing to hear their unlikely tale. “It’s about the museum visitors who came here this morning.” Clux began.

“They’ve gone missing.” Neville interrupted.

“We’ve come to find them.” Pixie added.

“Is that right?” Grimnax responded in a surprisingly lively manner that closely resembled the behaviour of a living, breathing life-form. “Wow, did we get lucky, or what!”

“Yeah, well anyway,” Clux continued, “We were among that number. To cut a long story short; a guy, who calls himself Piggies Du Pong, invented the Tubo Di Tempo – to coax people from the future to visit this era. Why, we don’t know; he didn’t say.”

“Whoa, wait a minute.” Pixie interrupted. “You met this guy?”

If Clux could have managed a sigh he would have. “Yes, of course we did.”

“When he abducted the museum visitors.” Grimnax explained. “He told us all about it.”

“What did he tell you?” Neville inquired.

“What we just told you, Stupid.” Clux retorted.

 Pixie chose to ignore Clux’s emotional outburst and duly asked: “So why did he let you go?”

“Because, officially at least, we’re not living beings. We’re semi-dead. We’re no good to him.” Grimnax replied.”Of course we were extraordinarily angry at his casual dismissal of us…

“So, not to hurt our feelings, he tested us for signs of life inside some strange contraptions…

“We didn’t do well.” Clux said, even more sadly than normal…

“He decided that he didn’t need us.” Grimnax continued. “We’re harmless, supposedly; so he let us go. Ordinarily we wouldn’t give a damn about the vacuous abducted visitors; but although we’re really depressed voluntary zombies – we don’t want to find ourselves trapped in the past. We need the others to get us back to our own era. The time machine, if it works at all, doesn’t work for the undead.”

“Why does Du Pong need living beings?” Neville asked.

Clux shrugged, which was dangerous because one of his soporific sores nearly erupted and a moldering limb tried to detach itself. “Don’t know.” He answered. “But he did boast about how he had the nighttime security forces lead the entire population off in the direction of the virtually endless Obsidian Plain…

 

…So, are you guys going to rescue the visitors?”

“Too right.” Pixie replied. “It’s the reason we’re here. Take us to where you last saw them: we’ll figure something out from there.”

So, moments later…

…the foursome set forth – where they soon encountered…

…Jeremy and Chickweed, who quickly learnt the truth of their current situation…

…and doubted the wisdom of Pixie’s decision, but were too scared to say so.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

.

The Time Tamperer (part 33)

Duncan’s brain slipped into overdrive: “You sent for us.” He blurted.

Piggies was surprised by the small black earplug’s response. He also doubted the veracity of his statement. “Yeah?” He said. “Are you sure?”

Wilson was a fast learner. Quickly cottoning on to Duncan’s improvised plan, he added: “Wilson Bucket, man.” He said to Piggies. “We got a contract. We signed it…oh…about…when was it, Saxon?”

Saxon was less able in the quick wits department; but after blowing out some air through pursed lips he offered:  “Ooh, I dunno; must have been eighteen months ago.”

“That’d be in our era, of course.” Duncan interjected. 

“That’s right.” Wilson took up the brazen attempt at subterfuge. “But, of course, in your future. Hey, man, I just had a thought: maybe you don’t remember it because you aint done it yet. Wouldn’t that be something!”

Piggies opened his mouth several times before finding some words to say. Eventually he said: “So why are you here?”

“Kitchen staff.” Duncan responded in an instant. “The hats kind of give it away, don’t they? Wilson and Saxon are chefs: I’m their kitchen porter. We’re here to keep you well fed and watered.”

Although he couldn’t recall ever having the idea of hiring some cooks from the future, Piggies now considered the idea. “You’re hired.” He said as he began walking. “Follow me…

…I’ll show you to your work place. It’s nearly tea time: can you knock me up a nice lemon drizzle cake in about twenty minutes?”

Saxon was no baker: he tended to specialise in seafood. “Sure.” He said. “Do you want it round or square?

Meanwhile, in another region of the vast edifice, Jeremy Farton and Chickweed Gubbins had resumed their search for the missing customers…

“You don’t have to look at me that way.” Chickweed grumbled. “I know you’d prefer I was your lovely girlfriend, Pixie: but I’m not; so get over it and do your job. Are you an agent of T.W.I.T, or a miserable, moping teenager?”

Walking along an almost identical thoroughfare, Neville Scroat drew Pixie’s attention to the alternating lighting. “Isn’t it annoying?” He said. “One moment its this brilliant tungsten blue: the next its a dull flat white. I wonder if it has anything to do with temporal instability.”

Pixie was no expert in temporal mechanics. In fact she’d never heard of the term. “Yeah.” She replied. “I suspect so.”

By sheer chance, the two zombies, Clux and Grimnax, were walking in the opposite direction…

The flickering lights were upsetting the undead duo too. So much so, in fact, that they decided to cheer themselves up by going into denial and whistling a little tune. And they continued in this manner until they almost collided with Pixie and Neville…

“Ooh.” Neville said with a slightly nervous sigh. “Zombies. Have you come to convert us – or eat us?”

Pixie wanted to say: “Don’t go giving them ideas, Neville.” But instead she said: “Erk!”

But it didn’t matter because…

…Clux and Grimnax were pleased to discover that they weren’t alone.

“Are you agents of Twit?” They asked as one. And as the young recruits replied in the affirmative, the zombies added: “We’ve got something to tell you. It’s really, really important.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

The Time Tamperer (part 32)

Meanwhile the temporally lost trio of kitchen workers, Duncan, Saxon, and Wilson, had discovered an unusual lavatory. They conjectured openly upon the subject…

“I would say,” Wilson said from inside the toilet, “that this was designed for a person with a real small pair of buttocks, man.”

“How so?” Duncan demanded.

“It has arms to hold my buttocks in place, and suction cups that grip my botty like a tenacious mollusc.” Wilson informed his small friend and catering colleague.

“I think I have the answer.” A thoughtful Saxon said. “You’re describing a space loo.” He then explained: “A normal toilet won’t work in space: in the event of an artificial gravity failure, the astronaut might float off and potentially leave residue of frightful awfulness all over the place. Imagine how dreadful that would be if the toilet was located next to the galley!”

The thought was too monstrous to contemplate; but it did inspire the trio to seek an answer to the mystery. And within minutes they met with success…

“Ah-hah, that explains it.” Duncan said, with a knowing grin.

“We should have guessed.” Saxon agreed. “All the clues were there. This is the Museum of Future Technology after all.” He stressed the word ‘future’.

But Wilson was almost in a state of shock. “It’s an exhibit.” He said with an unsteady warble in his voice. “An exhibit of a future space ship. But we know this space ship. It’s the Chi-Z-Sox!”

He continued to experience amazement as they rushed to try the Captain’s Chair…

“Just how far in time have we travelled?” Wilson finished.

Duncan’s mind boggled at the thought. But all that Saxon could think to say was: “Hey, the main screen doesn’t work, man. We can’t see out.”

This was unfortunate, because when they finally departed the exhibit, circumstances forced them to shrink against the wall as…

…a patrol of RoboSecGuas trundled by. What particularly concerned them was that the patrol – for that was surely what it was – comprised very tatty security servo-mechanisms that had clearly seen recent active duty that had left them scarred and battered…

“What the flip has been going on here?” Duncan whispered. “I wish we could leave straight away. As much as I loathed my worthless job, I pine for El Ciudad De Droxford!”

So when, having decided to follow the unobservant patrol, they encountered a strange red earplug…

… of whom they asked the way to the nearest time machine, they were disappointed not to receive the helpful answer they’d expected…

“Who the heck are you?” A surprised Piggies Du Pong demanded. “You’re not supposed to be here. I should know: I’ve planned each and every moment here for years!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

 

The Time Tamperer (part 31)

With an element of urgency now driving them, the four T.W.I.T agents first looked one way…

…then the other…

But wherever they peered, only emptiness greeted their young eyes. Understanding, in an instant, Pixie realised that she had been utterly mistaken in her belief that their mission was a test of their abilities. That they had, truly, travelled into the past. So, instead of looking all over the place, they chose to visit the one place in which they felt comfortable: Swottan Hetty’s control room…

Not unexpectedly they found it unoccupied. After Chickweed had relieved himself, Pixie suggested that they form two teams and keep in contact via their T.W.I.T walkie-talkies. So, without dissent from the others, she chose to team up with…

…Neville Scroat. With no definite plan, they decided to use an elevator that stood at the end of a brief tunnel…

It was an artistic tunnel that, under better circumstances, they might have appreciated its architectural splendour. But, even with their minds in semi-turmoil, the elevator itself impressed them greatly…

…because it used beams of futuristic light to transport them to the next level – where the shadows and high ceilings, they found there, did slightly intimidate them…

Then inspiration struck. “Of course.” Pixie squealed. “The Cafe Puke…

…It must be coffee break time. We’ll probably find everyone there!”

But,of course…

…they didn’t. In fact they didn’t find any furniture either.

“Bum!” Said Neville. “I’m getting really nervous about this. I’m seriously considering handing in my notice of resignation.”

Jeremy Farton and Chickweed Gubbins weren’t enjoying any success either…

In fact Chickweed was showing signs of frustration. “Holy heck.” He snapped. “This is so frustrating.”

So Jeremy suggested visiting the go-cart park…

…which was a very popular place for gang members and social miscreants to hang out and smoke dodgy substances. But when they arrived…

…it too was deserted to the Nth degree. So it was back to Swottan Hetty for a confidence boost…

…and some serious thinking.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

The Time Tamperer (part 30)

Major Flaccid’s message was clear: his instructions concise. Unfortunately the four new recruits knew naff-all about time travel. In fact Pixie even doubted its existence…

“I reckon this is a test.” She said to the others. “How we react will probably reflect on our first real posting and possibly the size of our salary. So, might I suggest that we take our leader’s instruction seriously, despite the fact that it’s completely stupid.”

But she was forced to retract her massive assumption when they encountered…

…one of the museum’s Robot Guides.

“Hey, guys.” It said in it’s usual, pre-programmed, chummy manner. “What’s happening? I’m a guide: you want me to guide ya somewhere real interesting?”

Well this was an opportunity too good to miss. “Yeah.” Pixie said in a slightly scornful tone. “We’ve been told to find some customers who have travelled into the past: any ideas?”

“Are you kidding?” The Robot Guide exclaimed. “I know just the place. Follow me.”

Three minutes later…

…the quartet of unbelievers were delivered to the Time Techs.

“Thank the Saint of All Earplugs.” Gregor said with clear relief. “They’ve sent some crack Twits.” Then to Pixie he said: “We’ve dialled in the date. Off you go – inside the Tubo Di Tempo. Good luck.”

Still convinced that the entire exercise was an…er…exercise, Pixie led Jeremy and the others into the infinite tube…

…where she began to doubt her earlier conclusions…

…especially when the tube continued to stretch out before her for as far as the eye could see – and beyond…

But eventually she became aware of a light ahead…

And her sense of relief, when they exited the Tunnel Temporal, was palpable…

But it was tempered slightly by the scene of an entirely empty thoroughfare…

“I don’t like the look of this.” Chickweed Gubbins chanced a whisper…

…”I don’t know where the nearest toilet is; and there’s no one around to ask!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

The Time Tamperer (part 29)

Although mechanically inept with anything but pea farming implements, Lobbie, with the Herculean effort that comes with desperation, was able to wrestle the two parts of the escape pod apart. And not a moment too soon..

“Well slap my thighs with a kipper.” Tanganika gasped. “I was almost reduced to breathing my own farts in there!”

Lobbie was impressed with this mysterious female, the like of which he had never encountered before. He found her use of the Earplug language quite invigorating.

“Gosh,” he replied, “how smelly!”

Then he was leading the daring pilot away from the crash site…

“What a charming plastic hovel you have.” Tanganika observed as they closed upon Lobbie’s home. “It’s really…you know…plasticky!”

Lobbie wasn’t sure if Tanganika was being sarcastic. “Hmmm,” he said, “it does me, if you know what I mean. Though it is a bit warm in the summer and freezing cold during the winter months.” He then introduced himself.

“Tanganika Chunks.” Tanganika reciprocated the, assumed, welcome. “You can call me Tangy. May I call you Lobbie; or do you prefer Mister Lowe?”

Lobbie had always felt a little awkward around female earplugs; but, for some reason that eluded him, Tanganika’s presence caused him no such discomfort. “Oh, Lobbie.” He answered as they approached his hovel. “Only the taxplug calls me Mister Lowe – the evil scumbag.”

Naturally he led Tanganika inside via the tradesplug entrance in the rear of the building: he didn’t want to start the neighbours hypothesising about is private life. Of course Tanganika was perfectly happy to follow him inside – for the simple reason that the escape pod contained no lavatory; and Lobbie’s hovel did…

But as Lobbie guided his guest towards the kitchen, he was to receive a huge surprise…

“This is nice.” Tanganika said, whilst her eyes sought out the location of Lobbie’s microwave oven. “I wonder if I’m a cook. I took a nasty knock upon the occipital lobe: I really can’t remember a darned thing about what I was doing in that escape pod.”

And, in that moment of revelation, Lobbie knew that if he lied with sufficient verbal and mental dexterity, he could make this intoxicating female his wife. “Oh, I’m certain you are.” He replied. “You clearly possess all the attributes.”

Meanwhile the new T.W.I.T recruits, Neville Scroat, Jeremy Farton, Chickweed Gubbins, and Pixie Taylor, had been summoned to the control room of Swottan Hetty…

…where Major Flaccid spelt out the situation…

“Your mission, whether you choose to accept it, or not,” he said in his most authoritative voice, “is to search out our missing customers. But don’t go looking in stupid places – like the gents toilet or the basement snooker room: they all travelled into the past; so that’s where you’re tasked to find them. Right then; off you go.”

Somewhat awed by their first role as T.W.I.T agents, the four youngsters…

…all but stumbled from the control room door in a stunned stupor. And in that same doorway. Major Flaccid watched them go…

“Oh, children.” He said quietly with a sigh. “May the universal love of the Supreme Being…

…go with you. You’re gonna need it.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

 

 

 

The Time Tamperer (part 28)

But what no one could have known, guessed, dreamt, or imagined, was that the alien technology upon which the Deathwish siblings…

…had based their engine design for the experimental ship, featured a hitherto unsuspected element in the dropshift ganglemount trivializer vent that, when exposed to a sudden increase in temperature – like those experienced during an explosion – did something quite unusual. It caused a temporal rift in space/time. So when the Deathwish tumbled to Earth in several thousand separate constituent parts…

…it was witnessed, not by people of the current era, but by people of…

…an earlier time.

“Flipping heck.” One of them said to no one in particular. “Did you see that? What do you think it was?”

But nobody replied because of the noise made by the multiple impacts that sounded like an artillery barrage as space ship parts buried themselves in the soft loamy soil, so popular with pea farmers…

By chance, at the same time, a pea farmer, by the name of Lobbie Lowe, had been in the act of checking his emergency pea-shucking machine, which he kept in a shed on the roof of his cheap plastic pea farmer’s hovel…

Satisfied that all was well with the machine, he proceeded on to the roof terrace, where he liked to watch passing clouds, hot air balloons, and other aerial flotsam…

For a moment he was intrigued by a loud noise in the upper atmosphere. But when he realised that it was approaching the pea farming region, he rushed out to an area of scrub and looked skyward…

And he arrived in the nick of time too, because moments after pausing to gaze, he became aware of a whistling object as it…er…whistled… to the ground. It wasn’t the sort of whistle that a pea farmer would normally expect to hear; so he wasn’t overly surprised to discover a space ship escape pod, as it rested, cooling, on the scrubland immediately adjacent to his own…

“Get me outta here.” Tanganika yelled from inside the perfectly transparent escape pod. “My oxygen is almost used up. And I think I’ve soiled my pants too!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

The Time Tamperer (part 27)

So the search continued. Naturally, being the biggest disappointment of the team, Chaz Wassaloni led the way…

…back up the mountain, in the direction of where the Time Shard duplicate Museum of Future Technology stood, embedded in perma-ice…

Also naturally, the duplicate museum’s discoverer (and therefore ‘owner’), Buttox Barkingwell responded to a call from Cushions and duly popped outside to take a look for the crashed Deathwish…

Unfortunately she could only report the absence of debris, but suggested that the Mountain Rescue team take a look at a break in the nearby lake’s surface ice. So, before long, Cowpat Carlson found himself immersed in freezing water…

“I say,” he complained, “my bum has gone quite numb.”

But no one was listening; they knew that this was a long-shot that was bound to fall at the first hurdle. So, following a fruitless search with his tingling finger tips, Cowpat emerged into the wintry blast…

“Next time you can go in.” He snapped at Carlos. “That cold has left me desperate for a wee.”

“Carlos.” Heyho interrupted the rightfully aggrieved redhead, “that’s it; we’re done. I think you’d better put in that video call to the curators.”

Carlos wasn’t keen, but when he spotted Ena looking skyward and pretending to be somewhere else, he knew he had to bite the bullet and make that report. So, a few minutes after descending to a slightly warmer level, the team put through the call they least wanted to make. Cushions and several other curators awaited it with little expectation…

But before long, a trepidatious Carlos pressed the ‘Transmit’ button and the curators saw and heard: “Carlos Minehunter reporting.” Carlos said as boldly as he dared…

…”but we can state categorically that, contrary to all logic, no parts of the Deathwish landed here. If someone screwed up, it wasn’t us.”

This was much as Cushions had anticipated; so it was a very surprised Mountain Rescue team…

…who stared in horror as their transport ship flew away on remote control…

“You’re a mountain rescue team.” Cushions’ last words still echoed in their ears. “Guess you’ll have to rescue yourselves.”

“Oh cripes.” Buttox Barkingwell moaned as she stood, a short distance away, looking out of her least favourite window…

…”more refugees on the way. Zak: Bolah:” She called out. “Switch on the homing beacon and dig out five more bed rolls, will you? I think we’ll be having visitors before very long.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

 

 

 

The Time Tamperer (part 26)

For a moment everybody watching in the Museum of Future Technology were stunned into the silence of utter incredulity…

Not so much by the unprovoked attack and the destruction of the Deathwish by an alien power; but more by the complete absence of debris or any physical result of the strange bluish-violet explosion.

“Duh?” Wigo Rong grunted. “Where’s the wreckage? Spaceships that blow up always leave something of themselves to be seen tumbling back to Earth. I can’t understand it.”

Neither could the curators…

“What the heck?” Cushions Smethwyke began.

“I’ve extrapolated the logical location of the crash site.” Cheerful Charlie Chopsticks said from his position beside Cushions upon the Omnipresent Scanner. “It’s in the pea farming area near the site of the Time Shard duplicate Museum of Future Technology.”

“Then why can’t we see it?” Barcode Betty, behind him, complained. “We should be able to see it!”

“Call out the mountain rescue team.” Cushions commanded. “They get paid well enough: it’s about time they started earning their salaries.”

Three seconds later…

…mountain rescue team member, Ena Shoehorn heard the summons. So did her husband and fellow mountain rescuer, Carlos Minehunter…

Carlos quickly called his wife on his handy walkie-talkie: “Ena,” he said, “I’m on Level Seventy Nine. Have the team rendezvous with me on the helipad. Yes, of course they can visit the toilet first: how could anyone expect grown earplugs to go on a mission with a full bladder!”

A third team member, Heyho Smellery, responded in an instant: “I’m in the arboretum, guys.” He spoke into his communicator. “It’s right in the middle of the Wide Blue Yonder. It’ll take me yonks to reach the roof: you’ll have to come fetch me.”

So it took a while longer than planned before the Mountain Rescue Team flying machine…

…streaked across the night sky. But it wasn’t long after it arrived that the team set about their task…

Ena, Carlos and Heyho had been joined by the green and red mixed-race cravasse specialist, Chaz Wassaloni, and the crimson-haired, Cowpat Carlson.

“Right then.” Carlos spoke as they all gasped in the rarefied air of the mountains…

…”there’s nothing up here; let’s get to a lower level and take a look around in cracks and crevices into which space ship parts might have disappeared.”

Nobody doubted the logic of their leader; and before long…

…they’d descended to a level where mist formed. And from there to a more comfortable search area…

…where Chaz Wassaloni’s expertise…

…proved to have no worth whatsoever.

“Oh dear.” He said to Carlos…

…”I guess you’ll be requesting my immediate resignation, right?”

But Carlos had greater concerns…

“I don’t give a flip.” He growled. “I have to report our collective failure. I don’t think resignation is an option: we’re all gonna lose our jobs. Where is that darned space ship? Everyone: keep looking!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

 

 

 

The Time Tamperer (part 25)

The three spies from the Museum of Abrasive Materials felt disgruntled and aggrieved by the intrusion of the red alert…

“Honestly,” Wigo Rong complained, “how is a spy supposed to operate with all this noise going on?”

But Wigo’s problems were less than nothing when compared with Tanganika Chunks; because, at that moment, the hyperspace rift ejected an End Cap pirate mother ship…

Naturally Tanganika had read all about earplugdom’s earlier contact with End Cap mother ships…

None of them had been a tea party. And when the aforementioned assumed an attack posture…

…K’plank hit his emergency booster button as he tried desperately to come to the Deathwish’s aid…

But as fast as his ageing saucer was, it was way too slow to intercept…

…a barrage of proton torpedoes as they vomited from the mother ship like a bunch of vengeful and utterly destructive…er…thingies. But Tanganika was no pushover. As the first engine of destruction homed in on her unarmed prototype, she kept calm and retained her composure…

She knew that all she had to was keep her craft ahead of the approaching fireball and give the Dorkan and Dawlish engine time to recharge its expander coil doodads. Then,  when the gauge inside her pilot’s blister showed ‘nominal’, she could simply hit the ‘Go’ button; and the pirates wouldn’t see her for space dust…

But first came the small problem of avoiding the proton torpedoes, which she did by banking at the last possible moment…

Then it was a simply matter of engaging the main drive…

Unfortunately her earlier fear of confusing the ‘Go’ button with the ‘Auto Destruct’ came back to haunt her. Or it did for approximately three nanoseconds, as…

…the Deathwish exploded in a paroxysm of suddenly unleashed and utterly un-earpluggy power.

©  Paul Trevor Nolan 2018