Distant Land (part 35)

Meanwhile, Folie, Placebo, and the others continued to stare in utter fascination at the bridge main viewer…

And what it showed at that particular moment was a spectacular head-on shot of the Gravity Whelk against a backdrop of stars…

Placebo was about to say something along the lines of: “Wow, how did they get that shot? Do they have a huge, invisible selfie stick or something?” when the view reversed…

“Ooh,” Folie managed, “a big star. Do you think that object in the top right quadrant is a planet?” But he shut up when the view altered again…

“That sure is a pretty ship.” Placebo opined in a  breathless rush. “And look how close it passed to that star. Look – it’s turning to port. It’s surely heading for…

…that planet. Oh, by the Saint of All Earplugs: it’s a frozen world!”

Then it became clear to those watching that the pause in commentary had been inserted so that they could enjoy the aesthetics of space craft in their natural environment. So, once more, the tale was taken up…

“Flipping heck.” Beaufort cried out at the planetary apparition, as the Gravity Whelk made a fly-past. “What the flip has happened on our home world? It’s gone all icy!”  

“Dunno.” Richter replied grumpily. “But we didn’t come half way across eternity to turn away now: We’re going in.”

So they did…

And before very long they were plummeting through the atmosphere towards the frozen surface…

Above which they skimmed at intolerably low altitude…

“Beaufort.” Richter called above the noise of keening air as it tore at the blunt prow and bulbous flanks of the large vessel. “See if you can locate the Museum of Future Technology. If that’s gone, the world is done for!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

Ridiculous Rodentia 2

More Hamster-Sapiens excerpts? Surely not? Surely so! This time the temptation comes in the form of this stunningly hamsterish e-book…

Once free from the close company of the others, Roman made haste for the cotton candy machine. Naturally, since he’d been invited to attend, Wetpatch went in scurried pursuit.

“Why do you need me along?” The school-hamster inquired of the young police constable as they made best marching speed along one of the SS Bargebutt’s many corridors. “I know I used to be really insolent and everything, but I don’t know anything about becoming introverted and disappearing up my own rectum. Surely I’m entirely superfluous?”

Roman didn’t break his stride despite the fact that he had his neck craned around to look at Wetpatch, who was having difficulty keeping up. “Oh no, Wetpatch.” He said with a mirthless chuckle, “If there’s one thing that you’ve proved during this voyage – it’s that you’re far from superfluous. In fact I don’t think we could consider the idea of success without you. You have a secret talent, young male hamster – for being in the right place at the right time, and saying the right words in the right order, or doing the right thing when the wrong thing is the far more obvious course of action.”

It had been a long sentence, and the young police hamster had almost run out of breath. Fortunately they had arrived at his chosen destination at the same moment that he’d uttered his last syllable. As a result he was able to sit himself down upon the cotton candy operator’s stool, and take a few moments to recover.

Wetpatch set the machine in motion, and within moments a miasma of sugary goo began to form inside the spinning drum. “Want some?” He inquired of Roman, as he began prodding at the confection with a smooth thin stick that he’d taken from a packet of many more such objects upon the counter.

Roman was still feeling quite groggy from lack of oxygen to his brain, but nevertheless nodded enthusiastically. So whilst indulging their taste buds in the delights of spun sugar, the two hamsters spoke of things esoteric. Roman’s opening gambit was, “Have you ever read The Horatio Horseblanket Chronicles, Wetpatch?”

Wetpatch was well aware that it was a rhetorical question: No one born this side of the Year Twingo, and lived in Hamster Heath, could possibly have avoided reading those twin tomes that charted the life of Horatio Horseblanket – from pre-pubescent dipstick to Hero of Hamsterdom. But he nodded affirmation anyway – just to be polite.

Roman continued with, “What about The Where House? Are you familiar with the name?”

Wetpatch was now a little less certain where Roman’s verbal trail was leading him, and duly frowned. Did the constable mean The Where House in the literal sense – that being an emporium just outside Gerbils Ruin – in which were housed the wonderful artefacts from the formerly-lost continent of North America’s legendary Area Ninety-nine? Or did he mean the serialized diaries of the same name that were often reprinted in the local paper – The Bucktooth Times?

These questions must have appeared as transparent as a fairy’s gossamer condom as they marched across his face, because Roman said, “You know – the diaries of Lionel Flugelhorn’s adventures in The Where House, and all the weird shit that happened to him after his mum threw him out of the family hovel, and he was forced to move in with Boney Legge.”

Divine inspiration didn’t strike Wetpatch very often. In fact he couldn’t recall it ever happening before. But he was in receipt of it now. “Rat Trek!” He blurted.

Roman was mightily impressed with this. “That’s right.” He said with a smile so broad that he resembled a wide-mouthed frog that had been smoking the magic mushrooms of Danglydong Dell. “Mister Horseblanket was well versed in the science fiction genre, and would often utilise the events that took place in episodes of Rat Trek during periods or crisis. And like his hero, Lionel Flugelhorn made the best use of the fertile minds of those far away script writers. He freely admitted in a recent interview on Heathen Radio that without a thorough grounding in sci-fi, he and his friends would surely have perished in one of those frightening scenarios thrown up by the alien artefacts from Area Ninety-nine.”

Wetpatch didn’t know what to say when an auditory vacuum formed during the period that Roman spent trying to re-gather his breath following an ill-advised second extended sentence. So he fell back on old ways. “Yeah? So?” He grunted.

Like some sort of truncheon-wielding biathlete Roman drew in sufficient air to calm his tortured lungs for just long enough to say, “You’re a fan of the show. You have a box set of DVDs. Have you seen an episode that might pertain to our current situation in any way?”

So whilst the young police officer rolled about the carpeted floor gasping for his life, Wetpatch considered the question. It was patently true that science fiction had often pulled Horatio Horseblanket out of the metaphorical shit and probably saved the lives of countless hordes. It was equally true that Lionel Flugelhorn had also utilised his knowledge of the genre for the betterment of his situation on more than one occasion.

Wetpatch had once met Lionel at the grand opening of a rather graceless unicycle ballet, and couldn’t help but be impressed by both his girlfriend, and the copy of Fantabulous Stories that protruded from his back pocket. And he had at least seventeen copies of Horatio’s autograph: So he could see no logical reason why he – Wetpatch Wilson – shouldn’t duplicate the efforts of his illustrious predecessors. So he set to work, and quickly began running titles of Rat Trek: Season One past his inner eye.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Ridiculous Rodentia

Once upon a time, I wrote a series of books that I titled Hamster-Sapiens. Initially they were quite successful. But, as time passed, I promoted them less and less, until they ceased to sell at all. Every so often I like to remind everyone that they still exist and that the e-book versions remain available at most e-book retailers. This is one of those occasions. So today I’d like to tempt you into sampling an excerpt from this wondrous tale…

And here it is…

Felicity, Roosevelt, and Brenda sat huddled about a small fire. Quentin and Darkwood graciously removed their impressive capes, and placed them about the rodent’s shoulders.

Brenda had no memory for names nor faces: Both tall handsome hamsters were both strangers to her despite the fact that she should have recognised them both from the time they fought upon opposing sides at The Battle of Weasels Pit. She knew instinctively that they were both desperately good-looking, and also that they were hamster-sexual; but their identities remained a mystery to her – even when they both hugged her close, and said, “Brenda, how simply divine to see you again.”

Roosevelt, on the other paw, recalled them instantly, and made sure that his novelty sporran remained firmly attached to the front of his kilt: He didn’t want either hamster getting any ideas.

“Yes,” Felicity was saying, “As soon as we could we came looking for Joan.”

“I imagine that you have a fabulous plan contrived already?” Quentin half inquired – half stated.

“Um, not exactly.” Felicity bit her lower lip gently. “I was just checking out the scene – when I discovered you two.”

“Four.” Margarita corrected the dormouse from behind a dense bush as she attempted to shake some of the mud from her finery without coating everyone else in the process.

“Four.” Felicity corrected herself. “I was so surprised that I let go of the window sill. This caught Roosevelt by surprise, who then tripped on our new bath mat, and poor mum couldn’t decide whether to let go of my tail, or hang on for dear life, and risk twisting her rather weak gerbilish wrists.

Both hamsters regarded Brenda’s rather short forepaws.

“Hmm, quite a quandary I can imagine.” Darkwood sniffed with obvious disapproval.

“So she let go.” Felicity surprised the listeners, “But in my panic I accidentally wrapped my prehensile tail around her neck, and dragged her here with me.”

“And I was squished up between them.” Roosevelt complained, “So now nobody knows what’s happened to us, and none of us can go fetch help.”

“Perhaps if we constructed some form of ladder…” Quentin began to suggest.

“It’ll take for ever, Quentin.” Darkwood verbally slapped his friend around the metaphorical cheek pouches, “None of us possess either the skills, temperament, or tools to perform such a rudimentary carpentry act. By the time Felicity re-accesses her reality, it could all be over for Joan. No – we must march on resolutely, and save that charming, if slightly tubby, female.”

Of course Darkwood was entirely correct. It was merely a matter of time before Lucas Cleats would act – even if it meant burning down the abbey to reach his quarry.

“What do you suggest we do?” Roosevelt spoke in his most complaining tone – a tone that had lost him several girlfriends in the past, and sometimes got him beaten up on the football field, “I mean, there’s only the five – seven – of us: What are we supposed to do against a whole gang of Stix cutthroats?’

“That boy’s sure got one darned good argument there.” Brenda voiced vociferous agreement. “What was you two dandies figurin’ on doin when ya’s got there? Kiss ‘em all to death?”

Quentin looked down his considerable nose at Brenda, and could clearly be seen considering taking back his satin cape. But he managed to retain his decorum.

“It’s Crimblesday.” He stated bluntly.

Darkwood recognised the three stranger’s expressions for what they were: Confusion.

“Posses don’t ride on Crimblesday.” He explained, “It’s against the law. And Quentin’s deputies are all away on a male-bonding seminar in Knackered Dobbin. So we came along, and hoped for divine intervention. Instead it rained, and then you lot turned up.”

Brenda and Roosevelt didn’t react immediately. In fact they didn’t react at all. Roosevelt – because he found the whole idea of absent deputies so abhorrent that he was left speechless; and Brenda – because she had no idea what male-bonding entailed, and was cooking up some pretty vivid impressions inside her head.

“Is they all poofters too?” She finally managed.

But in the time that her adopted mother took to conjure up that pearl of wisdom, Felicity had been thinking hard: Possibly harder than at any time in her life: And the conclusion that she drew proved the fact…

“Divine intervention.” She said through a smile so warm and inviting that it caused Darkwood to sigh, and clasp his paws together in sheer delight. “Darkwood – you’re a genius.”

“I am?” The heir to the throne of Sponx was surprised. “I wasn’t aware of the fact – except perhaps upon a subliminal level. What did I say?”

In answer Felicity whipped Darkwood’s cape from around her shoulder, and passed it back to its rightful owner. “I’ll tell you on the way.” She said. “Douse the fire: Mount up: We ride for Far Kinell!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Distant Land (part 34)

Shortly Princess Cake returned to the royal chambers…

…where she returned to her fretting…

…about all of her surviving subjects who were out in the cold of the resulting nuclear winter. She even felt a smidgen of pity for the four scientists that had caused the disaster, and who now helped the search teams in their quest to bring those survivors into the bosom of the museum…

“You gits.” One particular survivor shouted at them from the deck of passing hover truck. “You’re lucky this truck is moving: if it wasn’t, I’d leap from this deck and give you all a good kick up the arse!”

Knowledge of this made Princess Cake almost wistful…

“Why, I do wish I’d thought of that: I’d have loved to kick Whoops Brannigan up the arse.”

Meanwhile, the loud-mouthed (but essentially harmless) survivor’s twin brother arrived from the opposite direction aboard another hover truck…

But he was too traumatized to say anything. Instead he avoided eye contact completely.

“Whoo, lucky.” Frutilda whispered to Dido. “I was certain that one was going to kick us up the arse really hard.”

Despite her eagerness to conjure up a brilliant plan to save the population, Princess Cake seemed singularly incapable. This concerned her…

“Honestly.” She complained to herself. “What kind of nominal ruler are you? Surely it can’t be that difficult to save the world!”

Meanwhile, out in the cold, word got around…

“Really, I think its lamentable.” Whoops said to Dennis. “That female is getting ideas above her station. If anyone is going to think up a brilliant alternative to a slow dissolution into extinction, it should be us.”

And Dido said to Frutilda: “I don’t know so much: maybe a good kick up the arse would give us just the impetus we need to activate our genius genes. Tell you what: I’ll kick you first: then you kick me.”

Naturally Princess Cake had secret microphones everywhere; and when she heard this, she felt confident that, perhaps, the day might yet be saved…

“They’ll think of something.” She said with a relieved sigh. “I’m sure they will.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Distant Land (part 33)

Meanwhile the nominal ruler of the museum, Princess Cake of Potwell, had fretted her way to the lower skateboard park…

As she did so, above her current location, upon the surface…

…Frutilda was amused by Whoops’ self-destructive behaviour and mocked his frozen assets.

“Come on Whoops.” She finished. “Pull yourself together. Let’s find a way to put this situation at least half-way right. You and I together. This is no time for feeling guilty: let’s do the right thing.”

Below, Princess Cake’s thoughts followed a similar furrow…

“Those useless stupid butt-wipes.” She grumbled as she stepped into the glow of the emergency lighting. “I’m going to pull royal rank and make a few suggestions to that quartet of risk-taking, scum-bag scientists.”

She found a shivering Dido Warblington standing at the entrance, which now closely resembled an ice cave…

“What is the temperature outside, Warblington, you deviant slob?” She inquired.

Like Whoops, Dido was feeling great guilt concerning the civilization-ending balls-up that he and the others had perpetrated. “Dunno.” He replied morosely. “Why don’t you go check for yourself?”

Princess Cake, had there been any guards present, would have had Dido arrested for impertinence; but since they were alone, she decided to act upon the scientist’s suggestion…

“Flaming heck!” She exclaimed regally. “It aint half bloody chilly out here!”

A fall of ice crystals from one of the museum’s many towers then made up her mind for her, and she re-entered the skate board park…

“Right then, Warblington.” She growled majestically. “You’re gonna get those other three scum-suckers together and figure out how to save the survivors – on a permanent basis. Me, I’m gonna start acting like a proper queen. I’m gonna go for a walk and try to come up with some ideas of my own. So get your arse into gear!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Distant Land (part 32)

For a short period, after their return to the Museum, Whoops, Dido, Dennis, and Frutilda tried to live normal lives in a changed world…

But deep down inside each of them suffered…

…as they tried to ignore the curator’s attempts to save the survivors of the disaster that they had caused. Although they were aware that search teams traveled far and wide to aid desperate earplugs…

…they chose, as best they could, to enjoy life within the huge edifice…

And while they looked out upon a world that had slipped into nuclear winter, the curators dispatched rescue craft…

…into the mountains…

…where members of isolated communities were invited to return to the safety of the museum…

“Nice vessel.” Some would say. “Where are the passenger seats?”

To which the welcoming crewplugs would reply: “Sorry: standing room only. We need to pack you in like small silver marine creatures in tomato sauce.”

On one occasion, Frutilda and Whoops fell into a sullen conversation…

“You never know.” Frutilda said optimistically, “the Gravity Whelk...

…might yet return with the answer to our world’s ills.”

But Whoops was far less hopeful: “I think I want to go outside and suffer a little for my hubris and egotistical stupidity. You’ve been a bit of a turd too, Frutilda: care to join me?”

Naturally Frutilda, concerned for Whoops’ state of mind, duly slipped through a side window with her boss…

But even she was surprised by what Whoops did next, which was to jump into a deep drift and sink up to his bum in freezing snow…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

Distant Land (part 31)

And he was very nearly right, because the parched land soon gave way to scorched desert. But fortunately, for the gallant foursome, their route took them to an outlying public lavatory that, by a freak of geography, had been protected by the blast of the energy spill from the alternative universe…

“Hoorah.” Dido cried out in relief and joy. “I’m an expert on public lavatories. This model has a reserve water tank in the roof space: we can have a wee, wash our hands, and have a drink – almost simultaneously!”

“Excellent.” Whoops replied. “The mere presence of this ingenious working class bog proves that we’re on the right track. The Museum of Future Technology believed in spreading futuristic toilets far beyond its borders, you know – as part of a public service. This can only be one of those; I can feel it in my bowels.”

“Great.” Frutilda grunted. “But will the toilets flush?”

“Who cares?” Dennis answered. “I’m desperate: let’s go!”

So, two minutes later…

“That was disgusting.” Dennis complained. “The heat evaporated all the water. I had to wash my hands in sludge!”

But Frutilda was made of sterner stuff. “Come on boys.” She said as she departed the lavatory. “Get over it. The museum’s this way, by the way: I can almost smell its vaulted towers above the stench of that vile toilet.”

And she was right too…

…because soon an artificial walkway replaced the desert. Relief quickly joined to joy when they realized that the museum pathway illumination system was still active…

“Oh goody.” Frutilda said, as the pedestrian guidance system glowed invitingly. “The museum has power. Hopefully the security system will recognize our passes.”

Dennis wasn’t quite so optimistic…

 

“What if someone bolted the door before going to bed last night?” He argued. “We’ll never get inside!”

But his pessimism was unwarranted: the designers of the building from the future had…er…designed it well, and built it even better. Soon Dennis stood at a peephole…

 

…and snatched his final glimpse of the barren, burning land that lay beyond the museum’s limits…

and felt unadulterated gratitude to his mother, who had insisted he give up his job at the sewage works, and go to university.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Cardboard Dreams Become Reality (part 1)

Okay, maybe that title does overstate the usefulness of cardboard slightly, but as the creator of the Earplug Adventures I can tell you, I wouldn’t be able to visualize half of what you see in these dippy tales without it. Wonderful stuff; and free too!

If you’ve been following the stories for a while, you might recognize this circular item. It, and many very like it have appeared over and over. Check out these examples…

Looks like the engine room of the early version of the K T Woo to me. And what about this?

A scientific lab, obviously. It makes for a charming religious establishment too…

Just look at those burning torches. Attention to detail – or what!

Cardboard tubes and rings can come in handy too…

This is the ‘before’ shot of Scroton Prime – capital city of the Cable End’s home world, Scroton. Note the use of plain cardboard sheeting as a background and as sharply-angled ‘buildings in the foreground. This is how that locale appeared on the cover The Masters of Scroton

And in a segment of the story…

Cardboard blocks are groovy too. Especially those items perched on the top of this pile of tubes…

With the help of a length of insulation material, a canvas backdrop, some bits of sticky-backed paper, a sheet of plastic laid on top, and a nice example of perspective…

..something starts to take shape. Here’s a ‘before’ shot of Don Quibonki and his side-kick Panta Lonez in situ…

But to see the resulting pictures from the story, you’ll have to come back for Part Two of Cardboard Dreams Become Reality!

What a rotten git I am.

 

Distant Land (part 30)

But those ungrateful, mealy-mouthed gits were mistaken. Because, out on the plain, Whoops’ portable force field finally dropped – exposing the scientists to the glaring light of the sun for the first time in three days. And they were gasping for a drink and the use of a toilet too…

Checking their location, they quickly set out in, what they hoped was, the direction of the museum…

As they proceeded, their eyes adjusted to the brilliant light. Step by laboured step, the world seemed to grow darker…

“Right.” Whoops said through cracked lips. “Let’s try to figure what happened, shall we?”

“The world ended?” Dennis suggested.

“Don’t be facetious.” Whoops snapped. “I know the world ended. Or at least this part of it. We need to understand why.”

“I would have thought that was obvious.” Frutilda spoke through a stiff breeze that chilled them all uncomfortably. “A huge burst of heat and energy erupted from the alternate dimension through the wormhole and seared our planet’s surface. Putting two and two together, I’d say that when we checked out the alternate reality, our probes missed something really important.”

“Based on what little evidence is available, what would you estimate that to be?” Whoops inquired.

Well Frutilda began to explain that she believed that the huge electrical energy content in the other world’s atmosphere had been created by an interaction between clouds formed from excessive evaporation caused by the heat of the planet’s primary star ending it’s life by expanding in size and boiling the planets that orbited it, when suddenly…

…Whoops sank through the crust. “Argh!” He cried. But no one…

…felt particularly inclined to risk falling through themselves.

“Sorry, Whoops.” Dido said. “You’ll have to stop being a big Nancy, and pull yourself out.”

Actually Whoops was in no hurry to extract himself from the hole, because it still held the residual warmth of the cataclysm. It also allowed him to go to wee without anyone noticing.

“Now all I need,” he sub-vocalized to himself, “is a nice cup of tea, and everything will be tickety-boo.” Then he pulled himself free, and duly set out upon firmer ground…

…which was quite nerve wracking because it vaguely resembled a low altitude form of Precipitous Ledge Walking, which had always been popular with the inhabitants of the museum who were zombies or those who enjoyed a lower intellect…

…but to scientists, and the smarter earplugs of the museum at least, was a complete anathema.

“Yuk.” Frutilda spat…

…”this is ghastly.”

But it soon became considerably more ghastly…

…as a fog bank rolled in.

“Stick out your tongue and lick the air.” Dido suggested. “This might be the last moisture that we ever encounter.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Silence, Please!

I couldn’t help but notice that, incredibly (and against the grain of recent times), sales of this book…

…have perked up. Thank you to all those e-book purchasers. Of course, what I’d really like is for those readers (and others) to come back for the (better) sequel – written a full decade after the original. It looks like this…

And a portion of the text closely resembles this. All the characters in this extract are teenagers, by the way.

For whatever reason, everyone had expected that we’d take the bus upon our sojourn. Everyone with the exception of Jason. If the rest had thought they’d properly explored Crag Base, they were all very mistaken. Jason, though, had thoroughly explored the huge subterranean refuge. He’d been over it with a fine tooth comb. With the exception of Tasman and I he was the only person who knew about the lower garage in which various United Nations vehicles had been mothballed for the duration. There were several types hidden beneath heavy canvas covers – ranging from single seated ‘despatch rider’ motorcycles to large six-wheeled amphibious off-roaders. In between these extremes were several small four-wheelers ranging from quad bikes through Land Rovers, Humvees, and three lightly armoured vehicles, the design of which none of us recognised.

The general consensus (once I’d presented everyone with the sight of the cavernous garage) was that the amphibious vehicles were beyond our ability to drive safely; the Humvees would stand out like a sore thumb; but that the Land Rovers would do fine once we’d stripped them of their very obvious military appearance.

‘Exactly what I was thinking.’

 Stripping away the U.N insignia from (and re-pressurising the tyres of) the two Land Rovers that Jason selected took perhaps a half-hour. Charging the batteries naturally took considerably longer; but by nightfall we had ourselves two pristine, low-mileage, ex-Ministry of Defence Land Rovers ready to roll.

Jason, I’d decided, would drive one: Kylie the other. Two vehicles, I considered, was prudent. Three might have gained someone’s attention, and looked too much like a tempting convoy just begging to be ambushed. If we took one and it became disabled it might be a long walk home. Two seemed to me to be the perfect number.

Jason was unable to disguise his eagerness. “When do we shove off?” He asked. “It’ll be dark outside by now. It’s the perfect time to leave.”

“Yes it is.” I replied as I checked my watch. “Why don’t you bring down the elevator.”

Had there been any exterior lights on Crag Base they would have been far astern of us when I finally stole a backward glance. The world around us was cloaked in impenetrable blackness. Even the Moon and stars had failed to make an appearance in the overcast late autumn sky. I’d hoped that the drivers could use night vision goggles to see where they were going without the need of headlights, but we hadn’t driven more than a hundred metres from the derelict service station before Jason ran off the road, and slithered to a halt upon the tussock-strewn verge. I’d suggested that perhaps we could run on minimal lighting in the shape of side lights, but Jason had discovered an unmarked switch upon the dashboard that when depressed lit up his goggles almost as brightly as day.

“Infra-red headlights.” He cheered. “We can see, but to anyone else we’re invisible.”

“That’s comforting.” Kylie had replied as she ran back to her vehicle to find a similar switch upon her dashboard. “Just as long as they don’t have night vision goggles too.”

Before long we’d passed the roadside café and were amongst the hills. With the loosest of plans to guide us we began the long descent to the level ground beyond the ridge of hills that hid the sea. We were once more amongst the overgrown back roads when I finally began to question the wisdom of the trip. How exactly did I intend to find the Espeeg? Let them find me perhaps? Should we turn on the lights and draw some attention to ourselves? But what if we drew the attention of the wrong people? What if we encountered terrestrial humans? Did we surrender to them – or fight our way through? Neither was acceptable: ergo we could not make our presence obvious. Then an idea formed inside my head…    

“Pull over.” I instructed Kylie.

She gave me a questioning look, but complied without speaking. As the Land Rover bounced to a halt upon the muddy verge Jason followed with the second vehicle. As he drew alongside he shouted through his side window.

“Forgot to pack your mascara or something?”

“I have a stunning plan.” I said as I opened my door and dismounted. “I don’t think you’re going to like it. Let’s have a pow-wow.”

I’d been quite accurate when I’d told Jason that I had a stunning plan; I just didn’t realise how stunning and in what manner it would affect the others. I watched as a look of incredulity appeared upon all their faces.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

The aforementioned tomes are available on-line at many e-book suppliers. Check out the page beneath the header or on the side bar → to access Lulu / iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. Also appears in paperback form at Lulu. Just thought you should know.

Distant Land (part 29)

Within moments a fire storm swept across the planet’s surface…

Then, to the horror of those watching inside the Museum of Future Technology…

…the ground was torn asunder by planet-wide volcanic action…

Lava bombs were hurled in every direction. They seemed to target solitary buildings with volcanic glee…

…whilst the fire storm engulfed others…

Then a great wind circled the globe like an avenging…er…avenging thing that disliked earplugs with a passion…

…cooling the surface as it did so. This continued for yonks, until almost everything had been either destroyed, severely damaged, or wiped from existence. All except a few lucky conurbations or suchlike, like the Museum of Future Technology, which enjoyed the protection of a vast deflector shield that had kept it safe from harm…

“Cor,” people inside would say, as they crowded to watch catastrophe unfold upon huge TV screens…

…”nasty. Aren’t we lucky to be inside? I’d hate to think what happened to those scientists, who, probably, caused this disaster with their stupid technology. Hopefully they were fried.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

 

Distant Land (part 28)

Shortly, though, they arrived at the second massive device…

“Aesthetically, I think this one has the edge over the first.” Dido opined without invitation…

“They’re supposed to be identical.” Frutilda informed her associate.

“They have to be identical.” Whoops, suddenly concerned, yelped. “If they’re not identical, they won’t work the same way. It could prove disastrous.”

Dennis, his earlier worries dissipated by recent familiarity with the Quantum Bridge, said: “Cool it, man: it’s the surroundings that are different. No need to go pooping in your pants.”

Frutilda wasn’t convinced. “Maybe.” She said. “But shouldn’t we do a metallurgical and radio-active analysis before proceeding? After all, if there is variance, it could have untold effects upon the project.”

“True.” Dido agreed, whilst Dennis eyed the contraption with suspicion.

“The Wim-wom valve might get wonky too.” The latter suggested.

As Chief Scientist it fell to Whoops Brannigan to make the final decision…

So, whilst the others discussed the Quantum Bridge, he cast an appraising eye over his work. As he did so, Dennis had a question: “So this system only works if all three bridges are active, right?”

“Of course not.” Whoops replied. “We always build in triple redundancy to our devices. If one fails, the other two take up the resultant slack. In the unlikely event of two failing, we still get our power from the other quantum dimension. It’s common sense. Okay, the scan tells me everything is fine: I’m happy with this: I’ve activated its timer: let’s go.”

But as they set off for the third and final Quantum Bridge, Dennis threw a wobbly…

“Wait a minute, for flip’s sake.” He yelled loudly, which shocked the others because he was usually such a placid fellow. “I know the world is desperate for energy and all that: but aren’t we being a little complacent here? I mean, I know we’ve checked out the other quantum reality and found that its atmosphere is massively charged with electricity that’s just gagging to be harnessed; and its uninhabited so no one will get hurt if we steal all the power; but why is it charged? What’s the mechanism that makes all that energy? Tell me that!”

Fortunately for Dido’s and Frutilda’s ears, Whoops told Dennis to ‘shut his big fat gob’ or he’d be ‘fired’. So Dennis, aware that government scientists were usually second-rate and probably couldn’t get a job in the private sector, did as he was instructed. “Okay.” He said meekly.

But it wasn’t very much longer, after they’d gained the wasteland once more, that a brilliant blue light lit up the sky behind them…

 

This event surprised the scientists. But surprise turned to amazement when Whoops’ portable force field generator activated…

…and the ground shook so badly that not one member of the quartet could see properly. Then, as the apparent earthquake calmed…

…Whoops said: “What the heck is going on out there? What’s keeping the force field raised? Ooh, I can almost feel the heat coming through.”

Blinded behind the impregnable energy shield, the scientists were unaware that a fissure in the Quantum Veil had opened and the sky now blossomed red and angry…

And a split second later the atmosphere erupted in flame…

`© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Distant Land (part 27)

Well, the Video Tape Operator was as good as his title suggested, and before an impatient Cedric could snap testily at his ineptitude, the video message resumed…

So, as the Gravity Whelk drifted across the ocean of eternity, the Skail Brothers received the update from home they so sorely needed…

And the tale it told horrified them. Two years had passed upon their home world. Two years without news from their expedition had led them down dangerous avenues of thought. In a world almost bereft of energy, and facing ecological and financial ruination, desperation made the scientific elite consider working upon technologies they didn’t fully understand…

“Run this by me just one more time, will you.” A somewhat befuddled Dennis Tawdry complained. “This machine does what exactly?”

“It forms a quantum bridge between our reality and another.” Dido Warblington explained.

“Yes.” Whoops Brannigan took up the subject with rare gusto. “It’s absolutely marvellous. If all goes to plan – which it will – we’ll set up this chain of quantum bridges; they in turn will link with each other on the other side of the quantum veil, and we should be able to draw matter and energy through the resulting wormholes.”

Dennis nodded at this. “That’s what I thought it did.” He said. “But it worries me: how do we know what’s on the other side of the…what did you call it?”

“The Quantum Veil.” Frutilda Spelt answered. “It’s a lovely name: I wish I’d thought of it. You’re very creative, Whoops: have you ever considered becoming a poet?”

Naturally, being a scientist…

…Whoops scoffed at the notion. “Will someone switch this thing on: our world is crying out for fuel and energy: we need to be on our way to the next site.”

Well, naturally someone – in this case the doubtful Dennis Tawdry – did as he was asked, and soon they found themselves struggling across some recently formed wasteland…

“If I’d known that doing scientific work involved so much strenuous work,” Dido complained, “I’d have become a cashier at my local supermarket instead!” 

“No you wouldn’t.” Frutilda replied. “I was one. Believe me; you really don’t know the meaning of strenuous work.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019