A Tale of Three Museums (part 42)

It was only a short while later, when the scientific elite – those being Frutilda Spelt, Dido Warblington, Whoops Brannigan, and Dennis Tawdry – were watching yet another environmental disaster through a large, double-glazed window – heard a call upon the public address system…

“Would the Scientific Elite please make their way to the hospitality suite as soon as possible.”

“Huh,” Dennis Tawdry complained. “Don’t they understand that if we are to survive long on this world we must observe all these terrible environmental changes and wring our hands with indecision accordingly?”

The disembodied voice repeated its request.

“Apparently not.” Fruitilda Spelt replied.

“I wonder what the big rush is. What could be so important?” Dido Warblington inquired of no one in particular.

As if in reply, the public address system voice added: “A couple of aliens have arrived from our original dimension.”

“Time to go.” Whoops Brannigan said in his best ‘commanding’ voice – and duly led them from the view…

Upon arriving in the hospitality suite, the scientific elite were confronted with the view of Folie and Placebo as they stood behind the Skail Brothers…

“What’s this, Beaufort?” Whoops inquired. “Can it be true? Did they discover your video message?”

“They did more than that, Whoops.” Beaufort replied. “They found something even more important.”

All four scientists were at a loss. What could be more important than aliens discovering the Skail Brothers’ video message that told the tale of their world’s destruction and the exodus of its surviving earplug population to an alternate reality? Whoops Brannigan said as much. And Frutilda Spelt displayed her scientific credentials when she said:

“The short yellow one looks like you, Beaufort. Is he squidgy like you too?”

And Dido Warblington said:

“Golly isn’t the white one huge! Is it a ‘him‘? It looks like a ‘him‘.”

Fortunately Whoops chose to ignore these pointless questions, and got straight to the point:

“Getting straight to the point,” he began, “tell us what it is you’ve discovered that would be so important that we would tear ourselves away from observing yet another environmental disaster?”

Folie and Placebo stepped forward…

“We’ve found Princess Cake of Potwell.” They announced.

Then Folie added: “She’s a bit fed-up – living all by herself in that huge city. If it’s alright with you, we’d like to go back and fetch her to you.”

Folie, Placebo, and both Skail Brothers were surprised when Whoops failed to seize the opportunity with both hands:

“Well I’m not so sure it’s such a great idea.” He said. “Since our departure without her, we’ve all come to realise just how ridiculous a monarchy is. Although we are few, we rather enjoy being a republic. And all that pomp and ceremony…well I always hated it. Most of us did. But – more importantly – it isn’t safe here. Our dear Cake would find life most tedious. It’s not like the old world. Let me show you a brief record of our experiences here – in this new world of ours.”

With that he turned to the wall and activated a huge screen…

“Ooh,” Folie said admiringly. “Lovely blue water.”

“With a light to read by.” Placebo observed. “Very soothing.”

“What?” Whoops snapped. “No – that’s not water: that’s a terrible electrical storm. It’s what welcomed us when we stepped from beneath the shade of our Dimensional Transfer device.”

“It was very scary.” Dido offered.

“We got through an awful lot of underpants during the first few hours.” Dennis admitted. “Me more than most, probably.”

“Yes.” Frutilda spoke up. “People looked all weird beneath that eerie light…

But when it got dark, some of us dared stand upon a hillside…

…and look down upon the myriad campfires that spread across the land…

We wondered if we had done the right thing. Perhaps it would have been better to have hastily constructed a fleet of spaceships, and fled into the unknown cosmos.”

At this point Whoops decided to assert his authority:

“Yes – yes, Frutilda. Quite right. Now shut your gob and let me tell the story.”

To Folie and Placebo he said:

“When daybreak…uh…broke, we decided to send out some scouts. Richter and Beaufort were the obvious candidates…

And they discovered that we had arrived in a desert region, during this planet’s autumnal season…

Beaufort, who knows a thing or two about seasons, considered it quite likely that winter would follow. Already rain clouds were forming – and a watery sun looked most foreboding…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

 

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 41)

But although Folie and Placebo had disappeared from the universe they knew, it didn’t mean that they had ceased to exist. Oh-no: they very much existed; unfortunately in a limbo zone between realities…

…that scared the heck out of them.

Naturally both beings yelled, “Aargh,” but it did neither of them any good: they continued to dangle from metaphysical wires over a realm of total…well there was no descriptive word that either of them could summon up from the parts of their brains that hadn’t been turned to temporary mush. Then, just as suddenly as it had begun, it stopped…

They, and the new world they inhabited, bloated horribly, like a dead fish that had lain upon the seashore for three or four days. Then, just when they thought that they couldn’t stand the sensation for a moment longer, they re-formed, as themselves, all intact, with everything where it should be…

“I’m not sure, Folie,” Placebo said quietly, “was that fun?”

And Folie replied: “That would be a ‘no’.”

But being young and resilient, they were soon plucking up their courage; putting their faith in one another…

…and were upon their way once more…

“All this water.” Placebo said as they picked their way across a huge puddle. “It appears to be clean and fresh.”

“What does that indicate to you, Placebo?” Folie inquired. “I’m not very technical when it comes to plumbing stuff: my dad was an electrician.”

“That a water pipe has burst, but no one has attempted to fix the resultant leak.” Placebo replied. “Let’s see where it leads us.”

Where it led the intrepid twosome was into another part of the building that they had arrived in, but which, at an earlier time, appeared to have been used as a storage area or small warehouse…

“Will you look at that! Folie exclaimed. “It’s a transparent shutter door. And look at the terrible sandstorm outside. This place must be situated in a desert region.”

Placebo didn’t argue. And when he took a closer look at the world beyond the transparent shutter door…

…he didn’t want to go outside either.

“Let’s find an interior door that will take us somewhere else.” He suggested. “Somewhere less damp.”

So they did, and before long they discovered two living, breathing earplugs, both of whom appeared to be working upon a device in less than perfect illumination…

“Slap my flispers.” One complained to the other, “I can’t get the floorong into the output wazwizzle.”

“Use the plimping tool.” The second earplug suggested. “It has a redundant spool-dangler.”

At which point Folie cleared his throat, which had the two engineers almost leaping out of their silicon skins…

Well one of them did: the other appeared glad of the interruption.

“Hello.” Placebo said with – what he hoped was – a pleasant smile. “I’m Placebo Bison. This is my first-time space-faring colleague, Folie Krimp. We’ve just arrived here in your Dimensional Transfer thingy.”

The engineer’s reaction to this introduction wasn’t quite what either adventurer had expected… 

It also suggested that they were very intelligent and quick-witted.

“Right.” The engineer that had been having trouble with his floorong replied. “You’ll be wanting to meet Beaufort and Richter Skail then?”

“Would you like us to make their acquaintence for you?” The engineer who suggested using a plimping tool offered.

By way of answering, Folie said emphatically: “Does a plimping tool have a redundant spool-dangler!”

“Okay,” the engineer replied, “let’s be moving on then.”

Fortunately the area in which Folie and Placebo were to meet the Skail Brothers was better lit and entirely dry…

“Oh this is terrific.” Richter gushed, following introductions. “Real earplugs – from our dimension. Well, one earplug and a polystyrene blob. How did you find us?”

“We’re big fans of yours.” Folie informed both brothers. “We have been ever since we discovered your message buoy in the depths of interplanetary space. We think you did a grand job – not only during your almost-impossible mission to find energy; but also for the great commentary on the video.”

Well after that it all went swimmingly. The Skail Brothers adored their new fans: and, in turn, the youngsters were delighted to discover that their heroes possessed neither feet of clay nor pretentious affectations, both of which inevitably come with fame.

“I have to say,” Folie said to Richter as they made their way from the huge red room, “that I’m delighted to find that neither of you have feet of clay.”

“That’s good.” Richter replied. “I like you too.”

And Beaufort said to Placebo: “I hope you haven’t noted any pretentious affectations in either Richter or myself.”

To which Placebo replied: “Not at all. I also failed to notice any doors marked with a lavatory sign. Do you have one nearby? A lavatory, I mean: not just a door marked ‘Gentlemen’.”

But any reply was drowned out by a loud hooter that…ah…hooted loudly in a discordant manner…

“What was that?” Placebo whispered into the silence that followed.

“That was the early warning system.” Richter answered. “It could mean imminent tectonic disaster; but probably means that a water pipe has burst on the lower levels. But let’s not concern ourselves with such minutia: let’s get you in front of our revered scientist elite.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 40)

Meanwhile – sort of – in a non-linear chronological way – upon the unnamed world in the Great Balsac Nebula, Flaxwell and Gideon witnessed yet another shift in the Portal of Everywhere’s point of view…

“Oh, that caught me by surprise.” Gideon confessed. “I wasn’t expecting to return to Folie and Placebo so soon.”

“Me too.” Flaxwell agreed. “Hey, it’s almost like we know these guys. Don’t you think?”

But before Gideon could reply, Noodles continued the commentary…

Once more Placebo led Folie through the storm as they swapped one area in the snow-bound look-alike museum…

…for another. Princess Cake should have been with them, but she feared that her royal bustle would be adversely affected by the sub-zero temperatures which might cause structural failure. Of course Folie had suggested that she ‘Ditch the darned thing‘, but he quickly learned that it was impossible, as she replied:

“I can’t. I was in such a hurry that I forgot to put my knickers on.”

So it was left to the two young recruits to follow her directions to find the Dimensional Transfer Device…

“They certainly left in a hurry.” Folie said as they entered via a subterranean pedestrian entrance to the maintenance worker’s bike and roller skate shed. “There’s stuff strewn everywhere.”

“Hmm,” Placebo replied, “but no sign of any bikes – and precious few roller skates. I hope that wherever they went, it wasn’t too hilly.”

From the bike shed, a service elevator took them to a higher level, where the borrowed energy from the Brian Talbot had energized a wall screen, which, sadly, only displayed falling snow outside…

“Did you find that big blue eye on the wall a bit scary, Folie?” Placebo inquired.

But he didn’t expect an answer: Folie wasn’t listening. All his attention was on remembering Princess Cake’s instructions…

…which left Placebo, whose memory was less acute and reliable, to happily follow the yellow earplug’s lead. But when they found signage for the Cafe Puke…

…they began to wonder if they were sharing an hallucination, and were, in fact, back aboard ship – or perhaps not even there at all; but inside the real Museum of Future Technology. And when they stumbled on to the main thoroughfare, this feeling of detachment became almost irresistible and overwhelming. But whilst Folie tried to recover his wits by concentrating upon the unnoticed and prosaic light fittings in the ceiling, Placebo had spotted something that made him yell in astonishment…

“Look.” He cried out. “We’re not going mad after all. It’s the Dimensional Transfer Device. Quick; last one there is a rotten egg.”

So, a mad dash later, the youngsters stood beneath the wondrous machine’s light-weight and desperately artistic bulk…

“How do we make it work, I wonder?” Folie…uh…wondered.

“It looks pretty advanced.” Placebo replied. “Maybe it’s like the space toilets aboard the Chi-Z-Sox.”

“What, like voice-activated, you mean?”

Placebo nodded. “It’s worth a try. You go.”

“No, you go.” Folie urged his chum.

Placebo took a deep breath. Building up the courage to speak, he said: “Okay, here goes.” Then more firmly, and with resolution evident in his every syllable, he said: “Take us to the other world.”

A split second later…

…they were both feeling horribly squished. But before they could collect what remained of their thoughts…

…they were overcome with a vicious bloatiness. And thirdly, just to rub salt into the wound, this happened…

“Yoiks.” They yelped as one.

And then they were gone.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 9

If this is the ninth instalment, the book in question must be this one…

Yes, it’s that total flop of a Hamster-Sapiens book – The Abduction of Wetpatch Wilson. I mean, how is that a book with a title that includes a character’s name like Wetpatch Wilson, fails to inspire people to check it out? I dunno: beats the shit outta me. Anyway, in yet another attempt to temp an e-book-buying public to part with a couple of Dollars, here’s this particular excerpt…

“He’s probably used his legendary deductive reasoning to calculate that the volcano would probably mangle the Bargebutt – and he’s come to save us.” Amy explained with a huge smile upon her face so lovely that it made Roman visibly wilt. “And he’s Professor Desmond’s manservant too: What would he do with himself in that great big mansion they share otherwise?

“That’s right.” Desmond agreed readily, “He’s the sort of chap who’s only really happy when he’s either with me – doing super-scientific stuff – or having sexual intercourse with the sturdily-built ladies of the forest. He adores action: He abhors sitting around upon his furry arse almost as much as he abhors a vacuum.”

Sally’s ears pricked up at the utterance of two significant words. “Sturdily-built?” She

inquired eagerly. “I’m sturdily-built. I think we can all agree on that.”

“No, Sally.” Ho spoke before the object of his desire could dig a verbal hole too deep from which to climb, “You amply-built. Not same. Sturdy is muscles. Ample is fat.”

To say that Sally was shocked at this information would have misconstrued her state of mind. She was angrier than at any time that anyone could recall. She was even angrier than the time when she was arrested for exposing her naked arse to the local police cameras. Her anger even transcended normal hamster behaviour, and steam seemed to vent from several hidden orifices.   “No one,” she roared incandescently, as she cast Ho aside, dragged herself upright, and abruptly stilled the violent movements of the wildly swinging periscope with a careless paw, “has ever called me fat. My mother was fat. Her mother before her was too. But I am not. I have my father’s genes – and he was a freestyle motocross rider, I’ll have you know. If anyone thinks that I’m fat – please raise a paw now.”

They were all hamsters, but they weren’t completely stupid. Most of them still stared at the unmoving periscope with something approaching awe: They certainly didn’t want to make Sally angrier than she was already.  “No.” They all said in perfect unison as they shook their heads in negation.

Wetpatch spat out Sally’s knickers. “Absolutely not.” He said – wiping his mouth and trying not to gag when he recognised the obstruction for what it was, “Here – get that sturdy arse of yours undercover again.”

Placated, Sally moved away a short distance to regain her underwear. This gave everyone the opportunity to turn their attention to the arrival of their unsolicited rescuers; and Ho a moment to question the wisdom of total honesty.

Any further potential conversation was rudely interrupted by the horrendous screeching sound made by the Disemboweller as the ancient rust-bucket gave in to the ceaseless drag of gravity, and slowly slid down the starboard flank of the vast Crustacean vessel – to settle alongside it in the alluvial mud.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

P.S Actually I have a theory about this book’s inability to sell. It’s a bloody mess!

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 39)

Meanwhile, a disconsolate Cushions Smethwyke was taking a shower in her futuristic cubicle…

Although she was in no mood to enjoy it – because of her earlier failure aboard the Omnipresent Scanner – she wasn’t  hating the experience entirely either. What she did hate, though, was fellow curator, Montagu, strolling into her private bathroom and tapping on the futuristic glass dome…

And she was absolutely livid, when, instead of stepping on the control that squirted a jet of soapy water all over her bum, she accidentally set the dome rising…

“By the Saint of All Earplugs,” she screamed at Montagu, “don’t just stand there looking at me in the nude:  avert your eyes whilst the dome descends once more!”

“But I’m an android.” Montagu argued. “Your nakedness makes no impression upon me.”

“That may be,” Cushions snarled as her free foot fumbled for the ‘lower the dome‘ control, “but you’re a biological android; so that argument holds no water – much like this futuristic shower. Now sod off.”

Moments later, the dome descended once more, and Cushions began to wonder why Montagu had interrupted her ablutions:

“What did you want anyway?” She shouted above the hiss of the shower.

“I cannot recall.” Montagu replied. “The sight of your boobies has made me completely forget.”

Cushions’ resultant scream of indignation shook the entire bathroom…

…and Montagu thought it wise to beat a hasty retreat…

Meanwhile, high in the Museum’s Red Tower…

…the deepening light of dusk illuminated the four remaining Earplug Brothers who had assembled before Gobby upon a huge, wide veranda…

“I expect Chester has already told you…” He began.

“Miles.” Miles interrupted. “You expect Miles has already told you.”

“Oh yes, sorry.” Gobby apologised in a perfunctory manner. “You’re so alike. One of you should grow a moustache or something. Anyway, the thing is, I have some startlingly fantastic news for you. You know that I have a talent for manipulating time?”

“Get on with it.” Miles interrupted again. “We haven’t got all night.”

“I am. I am.” Gobby complained – then actually did ‘get on with it‘:

“Something has contacted me through time itself.” He told them. “A force. A power. I don’t know what to call it; but it contacted me regarding your brother. It has a suggestion that only you four have the talent to act upon. Five, if you count Magnuss – and I think we can.”

In an instant, all four brothers understood the implications of what Gobby was saying. Their smiles broadened…

“Ah-ha.” Gobby cried out. “I think I need say no more.”

“Right on, man.” Valentine replied. “We dig what you’re saying. We sho’nuf understand the implications. You’re talking familiar telepathy, right?”

“I am indeed.” Gobby said in triumph. “You’ve used it to defend the museum against robots from the future, and pirates from hyperspace – just to mention two. I can see no reason why you can’t use it to help yourselves.”

Rudi was a little harder to convince. “But telepathy – through time?” He said. “I didn’t know it was possible. None of us guys know how to do it.”

“No,” Gobby said as he dropped his volume by several degrees, “but you know something that can. And, long ago, that something taught Magnuss how to fly a jet pack.”

Abruptly the boys knew exactly what they had to do, and from whom they needed to ask permission.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

A Tale of Three Museums (part 38)

So, whilst Princess Cake of Potwell led her two extra-terrestrial guests through the mouldering remains of her once-proud city that closely resembled the Museum of Future Technology in every way, but wasn’t actually a museum at all…

…the grounded Zephyr…

…continued to await the return of Doctor Gideon Snoot and Flaxwell Maltings…

“Are you enjoying this history lesson, Flaxwell.” Gideon inquired.

“Would have liked some dancing girls.” Flaxwell replied. “Maybe dressed in leotards and feathers. But it aint bad, Giddy. I just hope it’s worth all the trouble we’re in.”

But before Gideon could respond, Noodles continued:

“Desperate to find a means to retrieve her lost customers and workforce, Cushions Smethwyke re-doubled her efforts upon the Omnipresent Scanner that wasn’t quite as omnipresent as it was cracked up to be. This time her assistants were the grouchy, but efficient, Barcode Betty: the less than utterly reliable Bubbly Salterton; and the irrepressible Cheerful Charlie Chopsticks…

But despite all this talent, they came up zip, which made Cushions gnash her teeth in fury and frustration.

Far across the museum, in Zona Amarillo, Gobby continued to make his way back, with his RoboSecGua friend beside him…

“What is that strange sound?” RoboSecGua said as it paused in its perambulations rather suddenly.

At first the frequency of the sound alluded to was beyond the range of Gobby’s ears. But a split second after his first detection of a high-pitched whine, the apparition reappeared before him…

For a moment he stood at stared in wonderment.

“I think it’s for you.” RoboSecGua said from a safe distance behind him. “Are you going to say something to it?”

It was a good suggestion – even if it was spoken as a question.

“Yes.” He replied. Then he told the apparition to go away – but not actually those exact words. And it obliged…

But no sooner had Gobby gained the Zona Plata…

…when it returned once again…

“Listen to the sound, Mister Gobby.” RoboSecGua advised. “I detect minute oscillations. It could be an attempt at communication.”

So Gobby put aside his fear and loathing, and listened intently. After several minutes, in which the RoboSecGua ran out of things to do whilst it waited – like making an inventory of its positronic input nodes, and counting mould spores in an ill-swept corner – Gobby received information that he didn’t know he’d asked for, but was glad that he now had it.

“Right then,” he said without preamble, “let’s get going.”

“Going?” The RoboSecGua said with a start. “Going where?”

“Don’t know, exactly.” Gobby answered. “But I’ll know it when I get there.”

Well ‘there‘ wasn’t far away from Zona Plata. It was at the entrance to the Hall of Mirrors – a wonderful hall of…um…mirrors – from a period in history when people couldn’t bear to look at themselves if their image wasn’t hugely distorted and misshapen – which of course made it very difficult to put on make-up, pluck eyebrows, or squeeze zits, and so didn’t last much longer than a season…

 Gobby spoke to the only Earplug Brother present:

“Oh, hi…Chester, isn’t it?”

“No, actually it’s Miles.” Miles replied good-naturedly. “Chester is my identical twin. Of course I’ve often been mistaken for my more famous brother – Magnuss. If the girls are pretty and want to kiss me, I’m happy to go along with the mistaken identity.”

“Fascinating.” Gobby replied. “You know me, Miles. I’m Gobby. You’ll also recall how your brothers and you attempted to recruit me in your efforts to retrieve Magnuss from the past.”

“Yes.” Miles said slowly and carefully.

It was clear to anyone within stone-throwing range that Miles distrusted the strange being with a big mouth – not least the RoboSecGua, which quickly trundled into the scene…

“Listen to him, Miles.” It said. “He knows what he’s talking about.”

“Miles.” Gobby said. “I think I know how to get Magnuss back. I need to speak with you all together – at the same time. Right now I’m hungry and I need a poop and a shower; but I’ll meet you again on the observation deck of the Red Tower – at dusk.”

“Dusk.” Miles replied cheerfully. “Got it.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

 

 

J.B.Chisholm: The Enigmatic Author

Before I began this post I dug out my ancient copy of The Concise Oxford Dictionary. Looking up the word ‘enigma’ it read “Riddle; puzzling person or thing.” Well that sums up J.B Chisholm alright. Never heard of J.B Chisholm? Pity – because he/she is a most original author. When I first encountered the aforementioned, it was through this blog. J.B (a pen name – so other Internet investigators inform me) had left a comment on one of my posts – which must have been complimentary (or at least interesting), because I made the time to go visit Vasa and Ypres. And what I discovered there had me become an instant convert to the author’s fabulous sense of humour. He/She has a writing style that the author confesses was inspired by P.G Wodehouse. In fact he/she goes as far as to say that his/her characters are (sort of) a modern day female equivalent of Jeeves and Wooster – which makes them very funny indeed. J.B Chisholm published this book…

…in August of 2018. Since then readers and reviewers alike have tried – without success – to learn more of the author. But he/she remains as enigmatic as any cat. All I can bring to the mystery is that (I believe) the Vasa and Ypres site originates in Canada. Other than that I have no  idea who J B Chisholm is. And, like many others, I would really like to. His/her site has gone silent – though still I urge you to visit it – if only to read the on-line extracts of the above book. Worse thing for me though is that J.B doesn’t visit this site anymore either. What has happened to this rare talent? If, like me, you enjoy the extracts of Park Avenue or Bust, the book and e-book are available through Amazon. And just to prove that I’ve put my money where my mouth is: here’s the book in my fair hands…

Big – isn’t it!

A Tale of Three Museums (part 37)

Several areas of the museum were so utterly ruined that the two young friends didn’t dare enter them. Others, like the underground skateboard park remained undamaged, and now that the automatic environmental controls had some power to use was the air warming enough to cause a slight mist…

“Hey, look at this Placebo.” Folie called out to draw his chum’s attention to some witty wall art. “The people here had the same sense of humour as me.”

But Placebo wasn’t listening; his attention was wholly upon the task ahead…

“Hey, Placebo.” Folie spoke again. “Chill out, why don’t you. We’re here. We’re all alone. Nothing’s going to hurt us. Enjoy the ambience.”

But, as they passed down empty corridor after empty corridor, even Folie began to grow slightly uneasy…

“I wish the environmental controls weren’t so stingy with the light.” He said. “I’ve never been a fan of dark shadows.”

But worse was to follow. Placebo thought he heard a distant voice…

“Nah.” Folie replied when Placebo told him. “We’re all alone.”

But when they came upon one of the main thoroughfares…

…Folie began to have his doubts…

…because he could hear it too.

“Jumping Juniper.” He exclaimed. “What is that ghastly noise?”

“I think it’s called ‘singing’.” Placebo replied. He then added: “The song’s a tuneless dirge, and the singer has obviously gargled with stinging nettles. Of course it might be a recording that’s been left switched on to keep the museum’s A.I company. Let’s go check this out.”

So, following the auditory trail, they turned down a maintenance corridor – only to find…

“Argh!” Princess Cake of Potwell screamed as she tried to hide behind her royal bustle. “Who are you?”

Naturally Folie and Placebo introduced themselves and told Princess Cake of their quest.

“Oh that’s wonderful.” Princess Cake cried out as she visibly relaxed. “You found Richter and Beaufort’s message. If they were here, they would be so relieved. They crossed over into yet another quantum reality, you know.”

“Yes, we figured that.” Folie said. “But what we’d really like to know is…whatever became of them? The Skail Brothers – and everyone else too?”

“More importantly, right now at least.” Placebo interrupted any reply that Princess Cake might make. “Why aren’t you there with them?”

“Well I’ll tell you.” The Princess, eager to speak with the only living souls she had met in yonks and yonks, said. “I don’t know what it’s like on your world, but here it’s a female’s prerogative to be late – whether it be a charity ball, state opening of government, her coronation, or what-have-you.  When my scientific advisors said that the dimensional transfer from this universe, into the other one, would be at thirteen o’clock, I thought they were being pedantic. I had no idea that the timing needed both realities to line-up as-it-were. Well there was I – Little Miss Self-Important – trying to decide which of my Great Aunt’s best tiaras to leave behind – when I heard the loud speaker start a countdown. Naturally I walked as swiftly as decorum allowed…

I was still feeling confident that all was well – even when the countdown reached seven. I mean, they could always pause dramatically for effect: there was no real rush. And I am their ruler, after all. I mean, why should I have worried? Then it reached zero, and a strange ‘splat’ sound echoed down the corridor – followed by a bright light – or the other way around – and then the horror of the moment struck home like a blow to the occipital lobe with a sack of coal…

So I found myself – still ruling this world – but utterly alone. Would you care to see the machine that stole my subjects from me? You look quite tech-savvy: I’m rather hoping you can operate it – so I might join them.”

With that, Princess Cake set off – fully expectant of the boys following her – which, of course, they did…

“Would you believe it?” Folie whispered to Placebo. “This is exactly what we need. May the Saint of All Earplugs bless sweet, stuck-up, living-in-an-ivory-tower, Princess Cake.”

“Talking of which,” Placebo whispered back, “I’m feeling a tad peckish: I wonder if she has any cake inside that huge bustle?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 36)

A while later the two of them stood upon a high ledge. They were almost tempted to jump – knowing full-well that the Health and Safety Executive would have put a system in place that wouldn’t allow them to fall and squish the earplugs on the sidewalk below…

So they tried combatting the tedium of doing nothing by visiting areas of the museum that had yet to be developed…

“Oh I can’t stand this.” Hair-Trigger shrieked, which worried Magnuss. “I can’t even enjoy the anticipation of the unknown. I already know what this building site is going to be.”

Magnuss understood her frustration. He too had already recognised the location. “Yeah.” He said with a sigh. “I can see it in my mind’s eye…

…And I also know that one day Rudi, Val, Chester, Miles, and me, will be forced to set the auto-destruct and blow the place to bits.”

Hair-Trigger checked her personal chronometer. “Hmm,” she said, “it’s that time of day. Chef Tooty is on TV. He always cooks with his bum on show. We could watch that.”

As ideas went, Hair-Trigger’s wasn’t the most fantastic that Magnuss had ever heard uttered; but it was better that wandering around piles of rubble. So, before long, they had high-tailed it out of the building site towards their rented apartment…

…and in next-to-no-time they were seated upon their bright yellow chairs in front of the TV. But instead of Chef Tooty appearing, they saw the face of the museum’s Artificial Intelligence…

“Hello, Magnuss.” It said. “And hi, Hair-Trigger. I expect you’re wondering why I’m speaking to you through the medium of your TV set.”

“It had crossed our minds.” Hair-Trigger replied. “Where’s Chef Tooty?”

“Never mind Chef Tooty.” The A.I snapped. “I’m here to pass on some information to you. No, it’s more of  a suggestion. A suggestion you’d be wise to listen to.”

Suitably chastised, Hair-Trigger said: “Oh, okay. What is this suggestion?”

Five minutes later saw Magnuss and Hair-trigger racing through the tartan-floored Escotia Futura exhibit – from a period in history when Scotland ruled all of the world with a set of iron bagpipes –

…and the large wall screen therein displayed a toothy smile that could have been mistaken for the A.I; but, equally, for someone far more powerful and omnipresent.

Upon the unnamed planet, far away in both time and space, Gideon and Flaxwell were surprised…

…when the Portal’s point of view subtly altered to another place in another era…

…where they could see Placebo leading Folie through a snow storm.

“I wish I had your physical bulk.” Folie said as he looked down at the deepening snow that threatened to swallow him whole. “It can be the only explanation for your ability to forge ahead regardless of conditions.”

“No.” Placebo answered, “it’s the promise of warm underpants that actually fit me that spurs me on. Talking of which, that looks like the opening we’re looking for.”

Moments later a grateful Folie looked out from his sanctuary at the eternal winter that lay beyond the damaged entrance…

“Oh my,” he said, when he spotted Placebo’s replacement thermal cacks, “I’m so jealous!”

But shortly after having moved on, that jealousy quickly evaporated when they chanced upon an area of thermal vents and noxious smoke…

“Guess who wishes they didn’t have such warm undies on now.” He jeered. “Golly, it’s warm in here.”

And, indeed it was…

“Flipping heck.” Placebo roared. “The roof is gone, but it’s still a million degrees in here. This must be a result of the terrible accident that befell this world. A super lava bomb or something similar!”

“Yes.” Folie replied. “Let’s make our way further into the museum. Into an area that hasn’t been turned into some ghastly vision of the underworld.”

Fortunately the molten ruin covered a very small area, and soon the twosome found themselves walking on the ruined remains  of the parallel development Museum of Future Technology’s Woven Expanse…

“Ooh,” Placebo said as he took the lead role, “this is how I imagine our Woven Expanse will look like in a million years. Or if the maintenance team go on strike for any longer than a month or two.”

But Folie wasn’t really listening: he was more concerned with the region they had just vacated. He was just waiting to be smitten by a sudden volcanic eruption and to be engulfed by a wall of magma.

“Yeah.” He said. But he didn’t know what he was saying yeah to. But, whatever, if nothing else, it proved one thing to him: they were definitely inside their destination: The Museum of Future Technology (parallel development version). And a step nearer their goal…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

A Tale of Three Museums (part 35)

Eventually they regained the building proper. The morning sun was just rising…

…and Hair-Trigger told Magnuss that she really wanted breakfast at the upper floor version of Café Puke…

So, despite Magnuss’ misgivings concerning the quality of the blueberry muffins, they entered the upper establishment of the purveyor’s of vile coffee…

But they paused at the threshold.

“That’s Sir Dodger Muir.” Magnuss said of the person sitting alone at the table. We’re not due to meet him for years. We can’t let him introduce himself, because he has a legendary memory, which he put to good use learning scripts and dialogue. And if he remembers this meeting when he ‘first’ meets us in the future, it could change his entire attitude towards us and possibly alter history.”

The ramifications of a coffee with the famous thespian were endless – and Hair-Trigger recognised this: “Back out before he looks up from his Disgusto latte with chocolate powder dusting.” she whispered.

So they did. Then, once they were outside, Magnuss spotted the bright blue sky of a new day…

“I wonder if you get a cheese and pickle sandwich for every hover pad rented.” He said.

Two minutes later – having rented a pair of hover pads and consumed the complimentary cheese and pickle sandwiches, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger took to the sky on a heart-lifting hover pad flight of fun…

And, as they gained confidence upon the long-forgotten devices, smiles of well-remembered familiarity spread across their faces…

But as their altitude increased, and their views of the Museum of Future Technology improved, their light-heartedness began to dissipate like a fart beneath a ceiling fan…

In fact their emotions subtly altered – especially when they reduced their height above a built-up area they’d frequented earlier in their relationship and would often been seen ‘canoodling’ on park benches. Hair-Trigger noticed that Magnuss’ expression now suggested that he was getting really cheesed-off…

This made her realise that she felt much the same way…

“Magnuss.” She said, “I’m cheesed-off. I don’t know why I’m pretending to cope well with life in the past. It’s a facade. A veneer. I’m not doing well at all. I feel like a fish out of water.”

But whatever Magnuss was about to say in response to his girlfriend’s outburst, it was very much placed on the back-burner, when the hover pad’s throttle stuck open…

“Yikes!” He yelled. “My throttle is stuck open!”

Naturally Hair-Trigger matched Magnuss’ every move – lest he fall from the pad. She proved herself most adept at anticipating the recalcitrant machine’s every move…

Whilst Magnuss yelled, “Aaargh,” she forced her machine to turn inside his so that he might fall straight on the rear of her hover pad and grab her around the waist. But then, whatever she did became a moot point, because the museum’s Health and Safety Committee took control of the hover pads by a futuristic form of remote control…

…which annoyed Magnuss even more because it was clear to him that he had never been fully in control. An accident had always been impossible. He said as much to Hair-Trigger…

“Is there really such thing as free will?” She complained. “I fear not. Tell you what, Magnuss: let’s take the ultimate risk.”

“You mean…?” Magnuss began.

But he didn’t bother completing the sentence, because he knew exactly what Hair-Trigger meant. As one they leapt from their pads…

And also as one, they were ensnared within an electromagnetic energy blanket…

…and lowered safely to the floor.

“Would you believe it,” Magnuss grumbled as they descended together, “an earplug can’t even have a bit of fun anymore!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

A Tale of Three Museums (part 34)

Naturally Hair-Trigger wasn’t fazed by these revelations, and so, for the next flip-knows-how-long,  she and Magnuss – cursing themselves repeatedly – trudged mercilessly across the Obsidian Plain. Or ‘trudged across a merciless Obsidian Plain’. You take your pick. Either way, they didn’t like it…

But, after an immeasurable length of time, it began to get chilly, and Magnuss fancied he could hear some distant fan motors at work…

At first he was confused; but after checking his pocket calendar, he realised that the maintenance staff were preparing the Obsidian Plain for the Annual Knees-Knocking Contest, which pitted the museum’s masochists against masochists from rival museums, in a contest to see who can stand in the cold air for the longest – wearing only their old school physical exercise shorts and plimsolls – without the need for subsequent knee surgery or an emergency pedicure. He’d never attended, and vowed to remain aloof to it for eternity. Now, it seemed, he was about to become involved against his will.

“Bum!” He said, as the cold encircled them and forced them to huddle together…

But then, when it seemed all was lost, they made a wondrous discovery…

“Hey,” Hair-Trigger cried out with joy, “it isn’t cold at all!”

Then realisation struck…

“Obviously those masochists aren’t masochists at all.” Magnuss said. “It’s just a money-making scheme. Rupert Piles, or whoever owns the Three-Dee camera rights in this era, sells the footage to national television, and shares out the pay check with the contestants. And I use the term ‘contestant’ loosely.”

“Hmm,” Hair-Trigger responded thoughtfully, “perhaps we could enter it – and share in the spoils. We have to find money to pay the rent on our apartment somewhere.”

“Great idea, Hairy.” Magnuss enthused.

But, sadly, it was only a dry run, and before long they discovered that the fake coldness was only temporary and that they had managed to get themselves lost in an undeveloped region of the plain…

“It’s not very obsidian here?” Hair-Trigger observed. “And it’s hilly too.”

“Too hilly to see where we are.” Magnuss complained. “Let’s go further in: we might find somebody to show us the way to the Wide Blue Yonder. I’m alright from there – I know it like the back of my hand.”

So they did…

But the track they were following just seemed to go on and on – through ever deepening valleys…

Magnuss was beginning to think that they might have to back-track all the way, when he thought he heard something – which, of course, he did. It was a RoboSecGua that was out investigating the disappearance of a hover-go-kart…

“Oi, you too.” It boomed through its vast olfactory array – otherwise known as a big hooter – from the top of a ballast heap “you’re going the wrong way. Turn left at the next intersection – back on to the Obsidian Plain. From there it’s a quick walk to the Wide Blue Yonder. By the way – you haven’t seen a hover-go-kart on your travels, have you?”

Magnuss couldn’t bring himself to lie to an officer of the law, so he pretended he couldn’t hear it, and before long both earplugs had left it behind and re-entered the fake chill of the Obsidian Plain…

…where Hair-Trigger reminded Magnuss that he had now thwarted the practitioners of the law twice – a fact of which he wasn’t proud. Then it was on to the Wide Blue Yonder…

…which seemed to go on for ever. And finally – and thankfully – the Woven Expanse…

“Nearly there.” said Magnuss. But he didn’t really mean it…

“Yes, that’s right.” said Hair-Trigger. “Nearly there: I don’t think!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

 

 

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 8

Now is the time to revel once more in an extract from this Hamster-Sapiens e-book…

…which is quite possibly the silliest book in the world.

And so, without further preamble, to it…

Inside the stockade all was quiet. The sun was at its zenith, and any intelligent being was safely ensconced in a place that was cool and shady. This included the Royal Governor of Deepest Jungle Land– Brigadier-General Sir Guy Whynd-Pype and his rotund wife, Dame Edith.

On this particular occasion they had been joined in their mud bath by the commanding officer of the Hamster British Army regiment – the Floundering Rifles – Colonel Blowhard Bugle.

“Well I gotta say, Dame Edith,” he bellowed unnecessarily in his huge, gravely voice, “this sure is a nice mud bath ya got here. And I really like the wicker fence ya got round it. Guess it keeps the eyes of all the guys from ogling ya great big titties!”

Dame Edith hadn’t really wanted to invite the Colonel, but her husband had insisted.

“We would be considered socially remiss at the cheese and wine club, Edith dear.” Guy had explained. “But I’m sure he’ll be well-bred. I doubt he’ll say a word about your vast bosom. And if he does – well I’m sure that it will be entirely complimentary.”

Now the moment had arrived, and, Edith had to admit it – the Colonel had been complimentary – in his way.

“Yes, Colonel.” She replied at last, “We had it specially created by a local artisan.”

Any further conversation was interrupted by a great shaking of the wicker fence, and the muffled voice of an exhausted male hamster apparently issuing from it.

“Brigadier-General, Sir.” The voice called, “This is Special Agent Lieutenant Ventnor Vomington of the Army Rescue Service. I’m here on special security business. Can we speak freely?”

The Brigadier-General was in something of a quandary: Should he allow the young lieutenant to shout out potentially classified information that anyone within earshot could hear; or should he invite him to join them in the mud bath?

A trickle of sweat ran down his snout, and dropped, with a splash, into the mire. He made up his mind.

“Do you have any underpants on, Lieutenant?” he inquired.

He saw the fence go taught for a moment. Clearly he had surprised the youngster with his question.

“Er, I do, Sir.” The reply came, “But I’ve travelled here – first by express dirigible from Hamster-Britain to the coastal garrison town of Boowangi Junction– then on my rear paws through the jungle to here. Sorry to report that my underpants are less than pristine, Sir.”

“Do they pong something terrible?” Dame Edith inquired in her desperately cultured voice.

Again the fence went taught. “I’m not really sure.” Vomington’s tone was sounding ever more desperate, “I’ve rather got used to the smell of my own sweat and stray bodily wastes. I’m probably a poor judge.”

At this point Colonel Blowhard Bugle’s patience ran out. He instructed Vomington to visit his quarters, where he would find a fresh pair of underpants hanging in the bathroom. He further instructed him to remove his soiled pair, place them in the wash basket, and then return to the mud pit in the Colonel’s clean pair.

Special Agent Lieutenant Ventnor Vomington gently eased his tortured body into the soft, cool, caress of the Royal Governor’s mud bath. But even as he did so, his mind was centred entirely upon his task…

“I’m here in response to your urgent call to the Army Rescue Service,” he informed the Brigadier-General. Then lowering his voice to a whisper he added, “Is there any new information, Sir?”

“There’s no need to whisper, Lieutenant,” Blowhard Bugle spoke loudly, “Her ladyship is fully cognizant with the facts.”

“Oh yes,” Dame Edith spoke in her most polished tone, “I knows all about it. That actress tart has got herself kidnapped while she’s been entertaining the troops with all that talky-talking stuff what she does.”

Vomington looked from the Brigadier-General to the Colonel and back in search of an explanation. “Talky-talky stuff?” he asked.

“My dear wife means the good lady’s monologues.” The Brigadier-General explained, “She’s famous for them you know.”

“Yeah,” Colonel Blowhard Bugle confirmed his superior’s summation, “The complete works of William Shakedick. The guys can’t get enough of it. Personally I think they like it because she does it in a flimsy negligee. Ya know what I mean? But, hey, I could be wrong: Maybe they’re into that culture crap.”

“Do you think you can save her, young man?” Dame Edith asked with an urgency that was emphasized by her cut-glass, aristocratic accent, “Coz her poor husband’s – like – totally losing it with worry.”

Vomington looked at Dame Edith with surprise. “Her husband? No one mentioned a husband in my report. Does he have a name?”

At this Dame Edith tittered, and opened a muddy packet of Liquorish Gobb-Shites, which she began offering around. “Oh you are funny: ‘Course he’s got a name.”

“Indeed.” the Brigadier-General answered Vomington before accepting one of the huge, chewy, black candies, and forcing it into the side of his mouth, “His name is Fruti Disgusto. I suspect that he might not be Hamster-British.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Check out ‘Tooty’s Books Available Here’ for some of the better known e-book retailers. You should find this fabulous work there.

P.S It may also be the rudest book in the world.

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 33)

The situation upon the ninety-eight percent habitable world wasn’t much better for Flaxwell and Gideon…

“How are your toes, Giddy?” Flaxwell asked his immobile friend.

“It could be psychosomatic,” Gideon replied through chattering teeth, “but I feel as chilly as that guy, Placebo’s backside.”

“Noodles.” Flaxwell said, in the hope of gaining the attention of the Portal of Everywhere. “You’re about to lose your audience to hypothermia: any chance of a warm-up? Physical exercises or something? A gas burner, maybe?”

“Would the light of other days be of any use?” Noodles replied.

Flaxwell had to think about that. “I don’t think I’m in a position to say.” He replied. “What is the light of other days?”

“It is this.” Noodles answered…

Gideon was surprised by the sudden warmth that poured from the Portal of Everywhere, and suffused them both with a comforting aura. But Flaxwell was far less surprised. In fact he would have been surprised if the light of other days had taken any other form.

“Don’t you see, Gideon.” He said. “The Portal of Everywhere can see anywhere and everywhere – even to the beginning of time.”

Gideon  didn’t understand, and said as much.

“The Big Bang.” Flaxwell explained. “It was a brief moment when all the energies that there would ever be were released in one huge…er…bang. It’s what started the Universe.”

If nothing else, Gideon was quick on the up-take. “And Noodles has tapped into that  – to warm us up?” He said incredulously. “I’m incredulous – on at least seven levels of incredulity!”

“Thank you, Noodles.” Flaxwell said to the Portal of Everywhere. “Carry on.”

Naturally Noodles did as it was bid…

…and soon the dashing duo was watching another dashing duo stride along the main thoroughfare in the older of the Museums. They looked disconsolate. They were.

“Oh Hairy,” Magnuss complained. “I’m not suited to all this inactivity and secretive living. It just doesn’t suit me. Or you, for that matter.”

Hair-Trigger couldn’t have agreed more. But as they passed an environmental sensor array…

…she had an idea:

“We need a project.” She said. “If I recall, there was once a crashed mag-lift motocross bike left in a heap in the skateboard park near here. We could renovate it. You like mag-lift motocross. You’re very good at it. You can pull huge wheelies and stuff like that.”

“You’re confusing me with my brother, Rudi.” Magnuss replied. “But I do like power-sliding and bouncing up and down a lot. Yeah, that’s a good idea: let’s do it.”

Two minutes later they opened the door to the skateboard park.  But from where they stood, they could see that the bike was far from re-buildable…

Of course they were disappointed. But fortunately they did discover a door that allowed them ingress to a small garage – inside  which they discovered a hover-go-kart…

“Yes!” They yelled loudly. “As long as we avoid a major accident that will hospitalise us, this could be fun!”

Moments later they drove the vehicle out of the garage…

And a few moments more saw them blasting across the fearsomely vast Obsidian Plain…

They were in their element. All worries and angst simply dribbled away in their wake…

But as much fun as it was, a niggling doubt began to creep into the orange earplug’s mind…

“Hairy,” he said as he relinquished the steering to his beloved girlfriend, “do you think there might be a reason why this go-kart was abandoned in the lower levels?”

“No.” Hair-Trigger replied. “Why?”

Magnuss hardly dared utter his next words: “I think, maybe, this might be a stolen vehicle. We could get arrested. How would that help our anonymity?”

Suddenly both grew fearful of CCTV cameras. They looked around nervously.

“I think we’d better ditch the go-kart.” Magnuss suggested.

Hair-Trigger didn’t argue; and before long, they were walking home…

“I hate the Obsidian Plain.” Magnuss informed Hair-Trigger. “This is my third trip here. Last time I experienced a Time Storm with Chester and Miles. The first time I drowned a Police-Plug in a tar pit.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 32)

The next view that Folie and Placebo experienced – other than the interior of the Brian Talbot, of course – was the dark side of the planet…

“Ooh,” Folie said of the foreboding image before them, “spooky.”

“Yes.” Placebo agreed. “I can imagine almost unimaginable horrors down there. What do you imagine down there, Brett?”

Brett Scuttles was an engineer. He dealt with only the ‘knowns’ of his existence. “I don’t have an imagination.” He replied. But then added: “But if it did – it would be vaguely reptilian – or maybe insectoid – with nasty, slavering, metallic teeth!”

“Oh thank you for that.” Folie said as Brett stifled a chuckle. “We have to go down there. I’ll be jumping at every shadow now.”

“All alone, with no one else, and all by ourselves.” Placebo added.

Grenville Hill then spoke up: “Coming up to the day side of the planet. I’ll have an overhead view of the parallel development Museum of Future Technology momentarily.”

And he was true to his word…

“Sorry it looks so chilly down there.” He added. “But I think the museum must have powered down after everyone left.”

“Mister Hill,” Cedric Mantequilla spoke from the Captain’s chair. “Is it possible for the Brian Talbot to transfer some of our nul-space power to the museum’s depleted energy reserve?”

For a moment the entire bridge crew stared at the Captain with astonishment. Where the heck did he get that brilliant idea?

“Um, I’m not sure.” Grenville replied. Then turning to his crewmate, Kragan Wellibott, he said: “Kragan – this is your area of expertise.”

To which Kragan replied: “Yeah. Sure. How much do you want?”

“Enough to make the museum habitable for at least a week.” Folie  answered. “We have no idea how long you’re going to be away at the Gravity Whelk.”

“Who said we’re leaving?” Cedric seemingly inquired, but it was clearly a defensive question.

“You’re space-plugs.” Placebo then displayed wisdom beyond his tender years, as he answered upon Folie’s behalf. “You don’t give a tinker’s cuss about old buildings: but space ships…aah, that’s what you live for. And I can’t blame you: I’d love to go aboard the Gravity Whelk myself. But we have the survivors of a civilisation to find. Who knows – they might be in terrible peril, and only we can save them. So let’s get a move on. Power up the museum and send us down there!”

So, five minutes later, the ship went to an honorary Azul Alert as Cedric addressed the willing volunteers. It was a rousing speech that lifted everyone’s hearts…

“You’re brave little guys.” He said. “Well actually you are, Folie. Placebo, you’re a brave big guy. But whether you’re a big or little guy, you’re both brave, and we salute you. Have you put on the thermal underpants that Hubert brought you? Good. Off you go then: we’ll be back as soon as we can.”

With that Cams Layne hit the matter transmission button, and this happened…

A split second later the intrepid duo made planet fall…

And, in an instant, the outside temperature hit them with all it’s sub-zero fury. Particularly Placebo, whose pants didn’t fit quite as snuggly as Folie’s…

“Flipping heck.” He yelled. “My arse just froze solid!”

Folie chose to ignore his friend’s discomfort, and duly examined the read-outs on his hand-held read-out thing. “I’ve located the museum.” He said. “It’s over this way. Walk quickly – it’ll help keep you warm.”

A short while later they wandered into a freezing fog. Not that it mattered: they were following an electronic beam that would not allow them to become lost…

And it was whilst they were still wandering in the fog that the sensors aboard the Brian Talbot detected them…

Cedric was able to send a last message down the sensor beam before the ship’s departure:

“We’ve located the door to the museum.” He said. “You’ll be pleased to learn that Hubert found some larger pants for Placebo. We’ve warmed them up and transmitted them to that location. Good luck, guys. Hope nothing drops off in the meantime.”

Cams Layne wasn’t entirely sure that the Captain should have uttered his last line. The planet below did look awfully cold…

Then the Brian Talbot swept around the planet in full acceleration mode…

…which did nothing to raise the explorer’s spirits…

…and blasted into interplanetary space…

“Whee.” Cedric cried out with glee. “That young polystyrene thing was right: we are space-plugs: it’s what we were born to do!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

A Tale of Three Museums (part 31)

Unfortunately Cedric hadn’t bothered to read the instruction manual, so he needed to call upon a science officer – in the shape of Doug McKinley – for guidance…

“What do you want to ask it, Captain?” Doug asked.

“It’s about that ship outside.” Cedric replied.

“What, this one?” Doug inquired further as an external view appeared upon a small screen…

“Is there another one?” Cedric retorted. “If so, I’d like to see it.”

“Just dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, Sir.” Doug replied. “There can be no room for error with the Crystal Ball. There are as many facets to a question as there facets on the Crystal Ball itself.”

“We’ll give you a kick up your facet if you don’t hurry up.” Grenville Hill snarled at the officious science officer.

Chagrined, and not a little fearful, Doug McKinley stepped aside. “Ask away, Captain.” He said. “There’s always some latitude with the questions. Some ‘wiggle room’ as they used to say.”

So Cedric said: “Does the Crystal Ball foresee a problem with me leaving an engineering crew to repair the derelict ship off our port quarter, and departing without them – with the intention of returning in the very near future?”

To which the Crystal Ball responded with: “No.”

“Further,” Cedric continued, “does the Crystal Ball foresee a problem with me making landfall at our target planet and disembarking a small team of investigators prior to returning to the derelict ship?”

“Depends.” The Crystal Ball replied. “Who gets to use the Landing Craft?”

Cedric hadn’t expected this line of questioning. “Um,” he said, “well the landing party, obviously.”

“What about the engineers upon the derelict?” The Crystal Ball inquired further. “What if a fault develops that renders the derelict uninhabitable? Your engineers will need a lifeboat until you return.”

“But what about the landing party?” Cedric found himself arguing, “They’ll need it too.”

“Is the air breathable upon this planet you intend to visit?” The Crystal Ball seemed to argue in turn.

“Well yes.” Cedric conceded, “but…”

“But nothing.” The Crystal Ball said with an obvious finality in its tone. “The engineers get the landing craft: the landing party can make do with a tent!”

Well after that there seemed little more that Captain Mantequilla could say. The audience was effectively over. So the bridge crew departed…

…and wondered who really ran the ship.

Of course, when Folie and Placebo were told of this, they ran straight to the Engineering Department and pleaded to be allowed to keep the landing craft…

But the engineers said: “We can’t suck vacuum, ya know. We need the ship more than you do. So sod off.”

An hour later the Engineers had fitted a pair of Café Puke coffee machines into the landing craft, and were on their way to resurrect the derelict Gravity Whelk…

And the Brian Talbot resumed its heading for the lost world…

But, as luck would have it, the very next planetary system contained a world that closely resembled the one they sought…

“Oh cripes,” Cams Layne yelped when the forward scanner resolved more detail, “that looks horrible. I wouldn’t want to go down there for all the tea in Droxford!”

And as the ship drew closer, it became clear that the world below them had seen better days…

“Cold.” Cedric Mantequilla grumbled to himself. “Terribly, terribly cold.”

“Landing party’s going to need thermal underpants, Sir.” Hooper Hellstrom volunteered. “Would you like me to get them out of the linen cupboard and warm them on a radiator?”

“Excellent idea, crew-plug.” Cedric replied. “But leave them until the last minute: we don’t want them losing any of their heat unnecessarily.”

He then instructed Hubert Boils to fetch the landing party from their quarters…

What’s this planet like, Hubert?” Placebo asked as they made for the door.

“Um,” Hubert began, “well it’s still there – so I guess it can’t be that bad.”

Folie cast a glance at his original Anton Twerp art work that hung on the wall beside the exit. He wondered who he should leave it to. He then took a moment to regard his Magnuss Earplug poster. Drawing strength from this, he said: “You’re right, Hubert: it can’t be that bad.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 30)

Meanwhile, far away, in a pocket of normal space, buried amongst the folds of the stellar nursery known as The Great Balsac Nebula, a ninety-eight percent habitable planet…

…waltzed lazily upon its unending orbit. High upon it’s snowy mountainous surface, a Scroton Five rested…

…its blue landing light still glowing – a beacon for its crew of two…

“Intermission.” The Portal of Everywhere boomed. “Should you need to go pee-pee, there’s a boulder over on the right. Sorry, I have no refreshments: I’ve been buried for millennia, remember? Did you remember to bring sandwiches and a flask or a bottle of cola? Do they still make cola? It was very popular in my day.”

For those watching the re-enactment of lost history, this came as a surprise. Gideon was too stunned to react – at least initially; but Flaxwell was a space pilot, and was used to quickly-changing situations. Already he had the boulder eyed up.

“I’ll just be a minute.” He said. “Maybe two. If you wanna tinkle, Gideon, might I suggest you try that crevasse over to your left? But try not to fall down it; it looks deep.”

Fortunately Gideon complied with Flaxwell’s unspoken request, and the intermission was kept as brief as could be expected.

“Okeydokey.” Noodles – the Portal of Everywhere – said as its guests settled themselves down. “Let’s get cracking again, shall we?”

Then this appeared on-screen…

“Oh, look – it’s one of those early star ships.” Flaxwell cried out. “I’m a bit of a fan. I just love those classic lines.”

To which, Noodles said: “Shut up and listen.” Then the narrative continued.

The Brian Talbot was upon a mission. To this end it had entered completely uncharted space. It’s crew…

…led by the not overtly heroic Captain Cedric Mantequilla, were following a trail left for them in a message beacon discovered by the desperately young yellow earplug named Folie Krimp and his polystyrene chum, Placebo Bison. This was their first journey into space – courtesy of Cushions Smethwyke and the other curators at the Museum of Future Technology. The video message they had found told the sad tale of another Museum of Future Technology, which had been built upon an unknown planet far from anywhere, and which was a perfect example of parallel development in totally disparate civilisations. The tale had told how, desperate for energy, the scientists of that version of the museum had tapped into another quantum reality – and brought down destruction upon their world. The survivors had escaped into yet another quantum reality; and Captain Mantequilla wanted to know what had happened to them. It was, effectively, a rather ‘after the fact’ and very late rescue mission…

They had paused their flight several times at planets upon the route suggested by the video message. So once again the Brian Talbot was persuaded to make another fly-by of another mysterious world…

“Nope,” The doe-eyed Cams Layne said from his duty station at the rear of the bridge, where a couple of the engineering staff were bearing witness to history being made. “It’s not this one. This one is disc-like. The Skail Brothers never mentioned that their world was disc-shaped.”

“Typical of Mantequilla.” Brett Scuttles said in a side-whisper to his colleague, Lawrence Bunion. “No attention to detail. The plug is a mug.”

But then the situation worsened abruptly…

“Flip me sideways!” Kragan Welliboot exclaimed as he turned to examine his read-outs. “This startling light is highly toxic to silicone life-forms. We’d better get the heck outta here quick!”

So they did – pronto…

“Do you think this is far enough away?” Cedric asked Folie.

“How the heck would I know?” Folie retorted. “Me and Placebo are just students at the Museum of Future Technology.”

“No.” Placebo confirmed the accuracy of this friend’s statement in the only way he knew, “We know squat about toxic light. You’re the bloody captain: ask one of your bridge crew!”

But Mantequilla never got the opportunity. Such was the speed of the Brian Talbot’s terrified flight, that it had carried them far along their intended course, where the forward scanners detected a derelict ship… 

Naturally Folie and Placebo rushed forward for a better look. Equally naturally, Brett scuttles and Lawrence Bunion joined them.

“I think we’ve seen that little bugger before.” Brett said.

“It’s the Gravity Whelk. Beaufort and Richter Skail must have sent it back to act like a sort of cosmic signpost!” Placebo cried out in wonderment. “I’ve only seen it on video tape. To see it here – hanging dead in space – well it’s…it’s just too exciting for words!”

“Dead,” Lawrence Bunion replied, “being the operative word. Now get back to your places, kids: I need to check this out for any stray power emanations or booby-traps.”

So, with reluctance, the youngsters returned to their place beside the Captain…

…and left the technical stuff to the crew.

“It sure is a beauty.” Mantequilla said, following several scans of the inert vessel…

Then, by mutual consent and with no words spoken, everyone slowly walked to the front of the bridge…

“I think we should try to save it.” Folie said firmly. So firmly that no one took it as a suggestion or a subject upon a juvenile wish-list: but as a royal command.

“Whatta ya think, Placebo?” Cedric inquired. “Doo-able?”

Placebo wasn’t keen; he would have preferred to have dropped off a signal beacon and continued on their quest for the lost world. “Yeah – alright then.” He replied. “I’ll never hear the end of it tonight if I say no.”

But just to be certain that he was taking the right decision, Cedric elected to utilise a new piece of equipment that was being retro-fitted to all space vessels. A Crystal Ball Decision Maker…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

Revel in the Ribaldry 7

For the seventh extract from the Hamster-Sapiens series of e-books, I take you back to yesteryear – namely 2013 – to the second book. This one…

Yes it’s the tale of a modern-day hamster – Joan Bugler (pictured with quite large breasts) – whose psychic talent allows her to pass her body through walls into an alternate reality that is ruled by a medieval church. A nasty place – full of nasty people – and some very nice people too, of course. And what an adventure she has there – even if she doesn’t want to.

Upon the main street of Weasels Pit, beside the Stoat and Wanger Public House, the village hag – Chaffinch Comelightly – was deep in conversation with the broad-buttocked resident Gravy-Stirrer.

“That’s right,” the ladle-wielding female nodded vehemently, “a bloody good fart at the dinner table’s worth half a dozen or more in the bed chamber.”

Chaffinch Comelightly tittered through a portcullis of blackened teeth: As usual the idiot Gravy-Stirrer had misconstrued her meaning. But before her titter could escalate into a hearty guffaw, something happened that made the ageing crone wet herself…

“Wheee!” Felicity cried as the race-prepped foldaway motocross scooter magically leapt from the side of the Stoat and Wanger, with her at the controls, and her gerbil mother standing upon the pillion foot plate.

“Fluff….” Brenda Bugler added her voice to that of her smallest adopted daughter, “…me, this is scary!”

Then the machine landed heavily as it hit the dusty track – its long-travel suspension soaking up the impact like a boxer’s face – and then bounding away in a series of pogo-hops that would have put the local gay community to shame.

Punting like delirious wood lice, Felicity and Brenda made excellent speed through the village – casting aside local inhabitants as though they were worthless immigrants.

“Hey, my baby girl, where’d you go getting’ the skills what’s necessary for this kind’a thing, huh?” Brenda inquired breathlessly. “You sure is some action-girl. You ever think of joinin’ a circus? Or maybe a troupe of travellin’ stunt-motorbikists?”

But Felicity wasn’t listening: All her attention was required to keep the front wheel pointing in the direction of Far Kinell.

Meanwhile Algy had returned to the Hamster Heath Sports Stadium. He’d reasoned, well enough, that before they embarked upon a course of action that could result in calamity if things went wrong, it would be a good idea to see if the recipient of their love and care was still actually drawing breath.

“Is Primrose improving, Matti?” He asked the attentive lemming.

“Well, you know…” Matti replied in the slightly uppy and downy way that Norwegian lemmings speak, which can really endear them to some, or make them local pariahs, “…she has her good moments…”

Any further conversation was interrupted by the arrival of  the team captain of the Heathens and several of his Offensive Linemen.

Algy gulped: He felt terribly intimidated by their sheer size, and, he had to confess to himself, a little intoxicated too.

“How’s she doing, Doc?” The captain inquired, “Coz me and the boys are feeling real cut up about her being hurt like that. We know it wasn’t our fault – or that big Spanish guy too: It was those bastards who shot her in the first place who make us real mad.”

All the Heathens growled menacingly in an almost pleasant counter-melody to their Captain’s rhythmic speech-pattern.

Algy felt his sphincter loosen, and a frightened ‘perp’ escaped. But fortunately the menacing growl had ascended into a piercing shriek – so no one noticed.

“Calm yourselves, lads,” Matti instructed them. “There’s no point in over-stressing your cardiovascular system with ill-considered, and ultimately wasteful hatred for someone who you will never encounter. It’s not like you could ever get your paws upon them or anything…”

This was to be a significant statement: But, of course, no one was aware of it at that moment. Nevertheless the words went in one of Algy’s ears – and didn’t reappear out of the other.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

P.S I usually select these extracts at pure random; but on this occasion I had to pass on three before I found this one – because they were just so darned rude!

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 29)

Whilst Montagu helped Cushions climb from her personal pit of despair – and the lavatory, the four remaining Earplug Brothers – those being Rudi, Valentine, Chester, and Miles, were making their way along a popular thoroughfare towards the Café Puke…

…when they chanced upon Gobby and his RoboSecGua friend coming in the opposite direction…

“Um…guys.” Gobby opened hesitantly. He really didn’t know what to say to the brothers of the lost Magnuss. “Hey…you know.”

But Chester knew what he had to say. “Gobby.” He began, “I wondered where you’d gotten to. It’s been a long, long time since we first met you – when you imprisoned Rudi and tried to make him into your slave.”

Gobby raised his imaginary defensive screen. “You’re right; it was a very, very long time ago. I’ve done a lot of good work since then. I’m not the troubled outsider I once was. And didn’t I help defeat the Hyper-space pirates by repeatedly re-winding time in fifteen minute increments – giving you and Los Tapones De España time to intercept them? And what about that time when I brought the entire hover buggy race entry back to life, after they’d all been killed by a poisonous meteorite? I don’t owe you nothing!”

“You’re coming across a tad defensive, Gobby, man.” Rudi said calmly. “Just coz you’re the man when it comes to things temporal, it doesn’t mean you gotta have the answers to our problem. Don’t you go feeling bad that you haven’t come round to see if you can help us get our brother back from the past. Heck, it aint your problem that when we meet again, he’ll still be young, but we’re all be carrying walking canes. I can see that.”

“Oh.” Gobby said in response. “Um…yeah.”

Then he was upon his way – leaving Chester and Miles to wonder what had just happened…

“Great move, Rudi.” The older and wiser Valentine whispered to his equally older and wiser brother. “You can’t make a guy like that do anything: but you can get him thinking about it.”

And, indeed, Valentine was absolutely correct…

“You heard what Cushions Smethwyke said, didn’t you?” Gobby asked the RoboSecGua as it trundled along beside him.

“Concerning your abilities with temporal phenomena?” The machine intelligence replied.

“Then,” Gobby continued as he nodded confirmation of the RoboSecGua’s theory, “there were the words – just then – that Rudi Earplug didn’t say.”

This was a little too mentally esoterical for the literally-minded automaton; “What like ‘bum’, ‘fiddlesticks’ and ‘petit pois’, you mean?”

“No.” Gobby replied. “I don’t. You’re a machine – you wouldn’t understand. They were words that only my conscience could hear. Oh, darn it, RoboSecGua: what am I to do? I’m going to have to put my talents to use in some way. I can’t just ignore the situation. Who knows – maybe that’s why fate placed me here at this time. Perhaps there is no such thing as free will. Perhaps it was in the stars. Maybe I’m supposed to bring those brave day-trippers home!”

“Those are a lot of ‘perhaps’ and ‘maybe’s’.” The RoboSecGua responded as best it could. “But maybe you’re right. Perhaps you are supposed to do just that.”

Soon the sun set upon the Museum of Future Technology. Not in a metaphorical, perhaps poetic way; but in a literal sense. The sky darkened and turned to burnt umber…

And it was because it sensed that history was being made, that the large red security officer accompanied Gobby out on to the Wide Blue Yonder. The bit that was slightly less vividly blue, and was slightly ridged…

It was there that something – it didn’t know what exactly – told it to hold back a short distance from Gobby. If machines have instinct, then perhaps that is what it was. Because – moments after applying a gentle braking manoeuvre – it saw this…

Gobby did too – but he tried to ignore it. But RoboSecGua couldn’t:

“What was that, Gobby?” It inquired

“What was what?” Gobby replied…

…”I saw nothing.”

But shortly after entering the playing field area of fake grass that very few people knew about and even fewer bothered to use and had been left to fall into useless ruin…

…the strange visual phenomenon occurred again…

“And what was that too, Gobby?” RoboSecGua inquired – perhaps sarcastically.

“Okay. Okay.” Gobby responded as he turned around…

…”I saw it. But I don’t know what it is – except that it’s really scary. Show me the quickest way back to civilisation: I’m really bricking it here!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

 

 

 

Shooting ‘A Tale of Three Museums’: On The Scroton Five Set

Recently we were honoured to be invited on to – what is probably the single most important – Earplug Adventures set of A Tale of Three Museums. The principal characters – those being Dr Gideon Snoot and Flaxwell Maltings – took a break from shooting to speak with our reporter, Maxime Langenscrote.

 

Maxime: “Wow, this is one heck of a set. I almost feel that I’m stepping aboard a Scroton Five. Do any of the buttons work?”

Flaxwell: “Just don’t touch the big ‘GO’ button on the helm control.”

Maxime: “Why – does it fire up the hyper-drive?”

Gideon (chuckling): “No; it dispenses ice for his gin and tonics. Oh yeah – don’t try using the toilet either: it’s not plumbed in.”

Maxime: “But it’s so life-like: I’d swear it was a real space toilet!”

Maxime: “Why is that engineer hanging upside-down on the helm control?”

Flaxwell: That’s Bernie Tankslapper: he’s our lighting rig guy. He suffers from vertigo. I think he’s re-aligning some crystals in his inner ear or something.”

Maxime: “So how long have you been shooting these interiors? This show has been in the works for some time, and I think some people were beginning to think it would never be made.”

Gideon: (looking to Flaxwell for support) “Whoo – weeks. I don’t know how many. I gave up counting after the first twelve or thirteen. Unusually we did all the exteriors first. We’ve come back here to Stage Seven to close off principal photography – before the first episode goes on-line.”

Flaxwell: “Yeah – we figured that once the show went live, we couldn’t afford any hold-ups. You know – tech problems, or me breaking a leg, or something dumb.”

Maxime: “I have to ask this question. Did you get to meet Magnuss Earplug?”

Flaxwell: (shaking head and grinning ruefully) “Sadly not. All their – their meaning Magnuss and Hair-Trigger – shots were  filmed elsewhere – mostly in The Attic Studio where they keep all the Museum of Future Technology sets and props.”

Gideon: “But we will – at the wrap party. I’m really looking forward to it. Hey, maybe Magnuss’ll let me kiss Hair-Trigger!”

Flaxwell: (to Gideon) “He might – if you wear your hat. No one can take you seriously when you’re wearing that thing. Is it still in the broom cupboard, by the way?”

Gideon: “If there really was a broom cupboard, it would be. Nah, it’s in the props department. And it’s not really mine. If they offer it to me at the wrap, I think I’ll decline. (to Flaxwell) What about your hair?”

Flaxwell (looking upwards): “I’ve arranged to have a barber waiting off-set when we shoot the final scene. If they green-light  a sequel, I’m getting a wig made. I’ll even pay for it!”

(Crew laughs. Bell rings. It’s time for the next shot. And it’s on to the reverse angle set of Stage Seven – home of the Scroton Five bridge)

Maxime: “Thank you, guys, for taking a time-out to speak with us.”

Oracle: “And next time you can interview me! What – you think I don’t have feelings too?”

A Tale of Three Museums (part 28)

Fortunately Cushions’ long history with the museum meant that she knew every twist and turn, and soon she left the rabble behind and took herself off to the door that led to the short-cut that would eventually take her to the arboretum…

Entering one of many corridors she was so deep in thought that she missed an apparition upon the wall. Instead of the usual signage that no one ever read, the face of the Sub-God-Dick appeared – as grumpy and malcontent as ever…

What she would have made of it, and how she would have reacted, no one will ever know. But she kept on plodding along – just as she recalled doing so many years previously, when Montagu had spoken the unspeakable. The place hadn’t changed much in all that time. The A.I’s view screen was gone; and there was a pleasant pink corridor leading off to who-knows-where right beside where it once hung. So she still knew her way around the lower levels pretty well… 

But age had taken its toll on her. As she entered the final corridor before the exit into the arboretum, she felt the chill wind of fear blow up her kilt. Was she still up to the task? Who would succeed her? Could she avoid getting beaten up and run out of town by an angry mob? It worried her…

Meanwhile, her pet plugmutts – Harry and Ray – awaited her arrival…

Not that they’d been pre-warned of her visit: it was just that, whilst they were taking a huge pee up one of the many trees in the arboretum, they smelt her coming, and duly launched themselves at her in welcome…

“You have very pleasant plugmutts.” Montagu, who spent many hours alone in the arboretum because of his odour, caused in no small way by his predilection for eating regular food, rather than the special rations dealt out to all the museum’s biological androids, observed. “They are also yellow. Did you buy them to match yourself? I find it hard to believe that you could behave in such a narcissistic manner.”

“Who cares?” Cushions replied. “I’ve got bigger problems than any case of stupid vanity. I’m here for help – and I don’t mean from you. I need to climb the Tree of Knowledge. But I don’t know which one it is!”

Sadly neither did Montagu. So Cushions tried climbing every tree in the arboretum…

But, before long she ran out of steam, and was forced to abandon the idea…

“I don’t know.” She mumbled sadly as she began the long trudge back to the museum proper. “Maybe it’s time to hand over the reins to someone else. Someone younger, perhaps.”

Montagu remained silent for a several seconds, before saying: “A nice meal at Mister Pong’s Exotic Food Restaurant will cheer you up and replenish your brain cells – all at the same time. Shall we go? I promise to eat only boiled rice.”

A while later, one of the museum’s long-term residents – namely Gobby, the strange creature with a limited talent for manipulating the passage of time – was visiting the de-activated Tunnel Temporale…

He had been joined by a RoboSecGua. So, together they noted two figures approaching along the tunnel…

The RoboSecGua explained: “With the tunnel de-activated, it’s now used as a short-cut to Mister Pong’s Exotic Food Restaurant. It’s that red thing at the other end.”

“Yes,” Gobby replied. “I’d recognise the old place anywhere. Bigger on the inside than on the outside, you know. You could squeeze an army in there, and still have room for afternoon tea.”

“No, I didn’t know.” The RoboSecGua said with a slight hint of concern in its metallic voice. “But I should know that. My ignorance could make me a security risk. What if a large creature was to hide away in the museum. I would never think of looking for it in Mister Pong’s!”

Any further conversation was interrupted by the emergence of Montagu from the tunnel – with a very drunk Cushions in tow…

“You.” Cushions spoke only semi-coherently to Gobby. “You know about all this time stuff: you should be the one to sort out my problems for me. You arse!”

With that, she threw herself into a public lavatory and refused to come out again…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

A Tale of Three Museums (part 27)

From their vantage point in the future – upon that far away and totally hidden world within the Great Balsac Nebula, Flaxwell and Gideon were watching proceedings on the Porthole of Everywhere…

Of course they were trying to second guess what would happen next.

“Well that would explain the loss of the records from that era.” Gideon said, putting on his imaginary best conspiracy theorist’s hat. “They were so ashamed of what they’d done that they faked an alien attack and blew up the archive.”

Flaxwell was less certain. In fact he didn’t believe a word of it. “Rubbish.” He said. “Cushions Smethwyke would never do such a thing. I’ve seen her record: it’s unblemished.”

The voice of Noodles interrupted the young earplugs with its foghorn-like voice;

“Gobs shut: eyes watch!” Then calming, it added: “Now regard the same Museum of Future Technology, several years later.”

Rupert Piles, ever alert for a news story, was pushing his fabulous three-dimensional TV camera ahead of him…

Others too had gotten wind of something in the offing. In the subterranean disused roller skate park, the museum’s forgotten people – those being former running back, Dan Down ‘n’ Out, and the vaguely aromatic husband and wife team of Horst and Greta Stenchlinger, were settling themselves down to watch television…

Rupert, in a rare moment of self-doubt, cursed his choice of a high-end camera. It was so heavy that he feared he would not arrive in time…

By now crowds were building. For the moment the mood was light and genial. The authorities hoped it would remain that way…

Fortunately for Rupert Piles, there had been a delay in proceedings. Several curators wanted self-important roles, and were arguing the toss with Cushions Smethwyke. It had given the TV reporter enough time to dash back to the office for a smaller, lighter, more portable camera…

“Is it alright if I shoot from up here?” He called above the smouldering tumult.

“No it bloody isn’t.” A stern-looking Barcode Betty snapped at him. “The Omnipresent Scanner isn’t for the likes of the proletariat: you’ll shoot from down here on the floor – where your sort belong – TV scum!”

Rupert just had enough time to re-set his camera before the curators mounted the wondrous device that could show them scenes from anywhere and everywhere. Those who hadn’t been able to argue vociferously enough stood in front, whilst those who could, stood atop and actually operated the scanner…

Then they went to work – searching eternity and the galaxy for their lost customers. More importantly – in the eyes of the populace at least – they also sought out two of the museum’s most openly adored heroes – Magnuss and Hair-Trigger.

But, naturally, success was conspicuous by its absence. In the control room of T.W.I.T headquarters – Swotten Hetty, the commanding officer, Major Flaccid, had been watching events on his wall screen, and had almost choked upon his cup of Café Puke coffee…

“My – my,” he said in his ludicrously officious manner, “I see trouble brewing. The people want their heroes back. They won’t accept this failure. And I won’t accept this coffee. Adjutant: get me another one!”

Cushions, desperate for help, put in a call to the rejuvenated Planet Mars…

“Calling Frisby Mumph.” She spoke clearly and concisely into the no-time-delay interplanetary communicator. “Frisby, we need the help of your Martian friends.”

Of course, the curator of the Future Museum of Mars, Frisby Mumph, was in the auxiliary control room with his personal robot aid, Tangerine…

He smiled at Cushions’ request. But it was a mirthless one. “Sorry, Cushions.” He replied. “But they’ve all gone on holiday to Venus. They’re camping – in temperatures of four hundred degrees. Radios won’t work there. Whatever your problem is, we can do nothing from here.”

This did not go down well with the populace. The Museum Avatar found it necessary to appear to crowds and calm them with her eternal smile. The Angel with a Huge Nose helped her with the task – which cheered up at least one green-hued gentleman, but did nothing to placate the fury of a red-eyed zombie. Even Plopper O’Hooligan looked worried…

Sadly curators – meeting in secret with members of the security forces – began to question Cushions’ leadership…

“She’s got big teeth.” Cheerful Charlie Chopsticks said to a biological android and a RoboSecGua. “But has she got a big brain to go with them?”

And, by evening time, Cushions was running from a lynch mob…

…who were clearly enjoying the prospect of beating her stupid.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 26)

A short while later, Magnuss contacted Cushions Smethwyke. He asked if Hair-Trigger and he might be allowed access to the spare, portable Omnipresent Scanner that Cushions kept in a hidden cupboard behind her lavatory cistern. If nothing else, Magnuss’ knowledge of her secret finally convinced Cushions that the time-travelling visitors really were who and what they claimed to be. So she opened the cupboard to them…

Magnuss convinced himself that the scanner would allow Hair-Trigger and he to (at least) see the future – even if they were unable to make direct contact. That enough would give him the strength to go on. But, no matter how they twiddled the dials and slapped at knobs, they couldn’t see a darned thing!

But the youngster’s inspired act spurred Cushions into dusting off the Main Omnipresent Scanner. Inviting fellow curators, Widderspoon Flange, Winston Gloryhole, and Cheerful Charlie Chopsticks to help her, she put the fabulous machine that had the capability of seeing anything anywhere – just as long as the operator could think of it – to good use…

But, although they started with high optimism, their repeated failure to contact the future era from which their visitors had travelled irked them mightily, and Cushions had some choice words for the ‘dunderhead’ who had invented the device. Particularly so, because it had been created in the future, and sent back in time for safe keeping.

“I think they call it irony.” Cheerful Charlie mumbled.

Cushions decided to avoid wasting her time and giving herself high blood pressure. Instead she chose to keep a watchful eye on a bunch of new arrivals in the Welcome Corridor…

They wore a mixture of expressions that reflected differing expectations of the Museum of Future Technology. But Cushions knew that would change when the whooshes and fizzles were unleashed…

And when the exterior view displayed a future Earth, when the Sun had gone out…

…she knew that she had them hooked. Talking of being hooked: she was also keen for visitors to sample the newly acquired Extra-terrestrial Aquarium, which she found so exciting that she almost wet herself…

“Wow.” She said, following her inspection of the exhibit…

…”I had no idea that Extra-terrestrial had a hyphen or that alien fish smelt so bad!”

But that was in the recent past: now she drew her attention forward to the present. She’d made a decision regarding those visitors lost in time. So, using a magic key that had been blessed by a saint after it was created by an ancient and wise race of super-beings, she opened the door to a secret underground short-cut…

…which didn’t seem overly long in its short-cuttedness

There were many twists and turns and circumbendibus ways…

…most of them featuring long straight corridors with ninety degree turns at the intersections…

“Hi, Cushions.” The museum’s Artificial Intelligence (which happened to closely resemble the Supreme Being) said as the Chief Curator passed by at speed. “We don’t see you down here that often. Fed up with walking all the way across the Woven Expanse and Wide Blue Yonder to get to the Arboretum?”

To which Cushions replied; “Shut up, you obnoxious git: the short-cut is long enough, thank you very much!”

And indeed Cushions was quite correct: by the time that she finally met up with her biological android colleague, Montagu, in the arboretum, she was exhausted and verging upon dehydration…

“These people from the future.” She began without preamble. “They’re a threat to the time-line. What are we gonna do about them?”

“Logic would dictate,” Montagu spoke without apparent time for cogitating upon the subject, “that we offer them every possible assistance – to either return them to their correct era; or quietly merge them with current society – far from here – perhaps on a desert island. We could keep them supplied with everything they need. It would be a minor drain on our coffers and perfectly affordable.”

Cushions nodded wisely at this summation whilst she paused to smell the aromas of plants that would not see the light of day for another ten thousand years. She was about to quench her thirst on the nectar from a particularly pleasant future rhubarb tree, when she stopped suddenly. This was because Montagu added:

“Alternatively, we could have them all killed. No one would be the wiser. And, of course, no investigators from the future can get here to either discover the fact or find the culprits.”

©  Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 6

The sixth extract from the Hamster-Sapiens series of e-books returns to the opening book. You know it: it’s this one…

So without further ado and unneccessary preamble, let’s get down!

Well since the time-line had been altered, there was no way that The Overmind – no matter how brilliant of mind or powerful of will – could possibly know that reality had been altered. It couldn’t even guess that without the Piss Bowl’s interference it would have loathed the colour scheme that now ruined the aesthetic simplicity of The Where House with its garishness and retina-shocking hues. Even less could it imagine that it had ever harboured desires so vast – as to encompass an entire world within its personal domain. Only of its origin did it recall anything with any degree of accuracy.

“Oh woe is me.” The hamsters all heard it wail as they approached – booming so loudly that the shell of the building was now attempting to peel itself from the ancient brickwork, “What manner of beast am I? Created from a deadly combination of alien DNA, the bodies and minds of some poor unfortunate combat veteran hamsters, a few shitty old robots, and a computer console that had seen better days: And what have I got to show for it? Tasteless fittings that are shaped like androgynous nipples, generally appalling décor, a tendency to effeminate outbursts, and a force twelve storm overhead. It’s not much is it! What am I to do?”

Well if timing isn’t everything – then no one knows what is. Because at that very second Lionel chose his moment to lead his entourage into the former Sentinel Robot bay – pausing only long enough to lay the Piss Bowl down gently upon the floor in the corridor outside.

As the swing door clanked shut behind them Lionel found his voice…

“I say,” he began rather politely, “we’d like to have word with you, if you don’t mind.”

The Overmind didn’t look up. It wasn’t looking down to start with. Though it might have been looking inward – gazing upon its self-pity and loathing.

“Oh, look at you, in your drab beiges and greys.” It said bitchily. “Come to gloat, have you? Well fluff you: You can shove your pity up your nose: I like being miserable. And I have the power to make you miserable too. You see if I haven’t!”

“Don’t you talk to Lionel like that!” Fanangy scolded The Overmind.

“Ooh, what’s this?” The Overmind jeered, “Thinking with your hormones, I see. That’s a dangerous game, young fluffy being. Hormones can make you moist; and moistness conducts electricity…Why – if I wanted – I could swat you like a…”

“Please don’t.” Lionel interrupted the mighty machine, “She’s rather…”

Lionel found himself momentarily lost for words.

Silence reigned. If a pin had dropped at that precise moment it would have sounded like a gunshot, an earthquake, or the back door of the local municipal swimming pool slamming shut on a blustery day.

“Yes?” The Overmind chose to remind Lionel that he was in the middle of interrupting its exceedingly loud tirade.

“Yes?” Boney, Tonks, and Major Hardcourt-Gymp added in rapt anticipation.

“Yes?” Fanangy whispered as she looked up at him through eyes that resembled bottomless pools of dark liquid – reflecting nothing more, and nothing less, than total unquestioning faith and an adoration that stretched to infinity and back again.

Lionel gulped. Desperation marched across his face like storm-blown rain clouds He tried to imagine how the fictional Captain Perp would have dealt with this situation. But he came up empty. He then recalled the autobiography of local hero, Horatio Horseblanket, which he’d been studying so intently. Still nothing came. So, finally, with no other recourse open to him, he decided that he should entrust his voice to the only place that truly remained a mystery to him: His own inner feelings.

“Special.” He finally concluded.

At which The Overmind burst into tears. Not real ones of course: Cyber-Metaphorical ones. Or even Roboto-Metaphysical ones.

The Where House fairly shook to the rhythm of its sobs.

“Oi, pack that in.” Boney yelled in desperation, “You’ll ‘ave the whole building down ‘round our ear ‘oles, for fluff’s sake! Pull yer self together, ya artificial dim-shit!”

Fortunately the all-powerful intelligence managed to do as it was bid. In between sniffles it said, “Oh that was lovely. So totally hamstery. If only I could feel like that. But I’m a huge, ghastly, machine – fit only for overwhelming and consuming. Oh woe is me once again.”

“Well actually I might have the answer to your problem.” Lionel said as he began to recover from his deep inner embarrassment, “You won’t necessarily like my next suggestion, but I think you’ll agree it’s a whole lot better than being you.”

Well the Overmind listened to what Lionel had to say, and before long the vast device began imploding, and ejecting the constituents of its construct. In short – it spat out the soldiers, re-built the robots, and stuffed all the Smartgas into a handy canister that just happened to be hanging around beside the vending machine.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2012

This fabulous work remains available at most e-book retailers – the better-known of which appear on the sidebar and the Tooty’s Books page beneath the header. Not buying it is illogical. Unlike the characters in the story, you are a logical being. Ergo; the book must be bought. It’s the only logical thing to do.

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 25)

Because of the need to keep a low profile, those earplugs who found themselves lost in time decided to take a break away from the museum. To this end they hired a small flying machine – the design of which was modelled on the much-loathed Hyper-Space Pirate mother ship. Of course it was much smaller and could not attain the far reaches of the upper atmosphere; but, if you screwed up your eyes and didn’t account for its lack of sheer size, it looked convincingly like an evil attack craft from beyond space…

With Dina Havoc at the helm, they visited several locations of marginal interest. If truth be known, none of them could really summon up any enthusiasm for travel – because it only reminded them of their lives on the outside of the Museum. Lives that, unless rescue arived from the future, they would be denied for ever. So, on the way home, Dina decided to have some fun, and throw the craft around the sky a little…

This was a mistake – particularly whilst in Museum of Future Technology air-space. In the Security Suite, the Robot Security Guards – or RoboSecGuas, as they were known in shorthand – grew cybernetically alarmed…

Quickly discussing the situation, one of them suggested that they go to Red Alert. But the RoboSecGua responsible for taking decisions…er…decided not to. Instead it chose an alternative action. And this alternative action was the shooting down of the erratic vessel that looked alarmingly like a Hyper-Space Pirate mother ship…

Fortunately the flimsy and defenceless pleasure craft crashed in a field just outside of the neighbouring Ciudad De Droxford…

…where it burned for hours – utterly ruining an angry pea farmer’s early crop. More fortunate, was the craft designer’s inclusion of a rocket-powered escape module. So it was a chagrined pair of T.W.I.T recruits – namely Jeremy Farton and Chickweed Gubbins – who were able to walk the museum’s fabled corridors with injuries no worse than a bruised knee and a sore buttock between them…

And so it had proven for everyone else aboard. But, if nothing else, it had sent a message to the young recruits of T.W.I.T. Recognising that they were extremely young and inexperienced, and were more likely than their elders to consume vast amounts of sparkling alcoholic beverages; get stinking drunk; and do something that would alter the time line, the youthful foursome made the strategic decision to go into suspended animation. Within hours of the crash, Chickweed and Jeremy had joined Pixie and Neville in the museum’s sole Suspended Animation Booth…

And they thought it was very nice.

Of course, those effervescent adventurers, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger, were far too active for such drastic measures. They managed to finagle their way into maintenance jobs…

…which included keeping a watchful eye on the Nul-Space Power Generator that provided all the museum’s energy needs…

But, sadly, they were inept in their roles, and made regular mistakes that set the power distribution system staggering and lolloping around like an inebriated seal…

Naturally this caught the attention of other maintenance workers, who often had to put right the results of the new-comer’s errors…

They were so incensed that they brought their grievances to the attention of a passing RoboSecGua…

It, in turn, went straight to the heart of the matter…

…and dismissed both Magnuss and Hair-Trigger from the service…

“I don’t know what all the fuss is about.” Hair-Trigger complained. “Nobody is perfect on their first day. And it’s not like we destroyed the place. We just shook it up a little. And who’s to say that didn’t happen in the time-line where we didn’t arrive here? Maybe it’s pre-destination.”

Magnuss wasn’t particularly aux fait with temporal mechanics or chrono-dynamics or esoteric matters – such as the long-running argument that pitted determinism against free-will either; so thought it best to remain mute. In any case; he had a much better idea for spending their time together.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

 

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 24)

SPOILER ALERT: This extract includes extremely salient points from the book The Time Tamperer. Just thought you ought to know. If you haven’t read it yet – oh shit – you’d better go back and read the serialised version on this blog. Or, failing that, you could always buy the e-book. That would probably be the easiest. Navigating these WordPress sites can be a bastard.

Now on with the story…

But before the show began, it suddenly occurred to Flaxwell that Gideon had planned this all along. He said as much to his verdant green friend. But it wasn’t Gideon who answered his unspoken question: it was The Portal of Everywhere:

“Doctor Gideon Snoot is an anthroplugologist.” It boomed so loudly that it seemed likely to cause an avalanche anywhere for many kilometres around. “He studies the development of the species earplugious siliconus. Employed, as he is, by the Museum of Future Technology, he used the vast library of knowledge that lies within that establishment’s hallowed walls. And, whilst doing so, he discovered a break in the historical narrative of that venerable palace of knowledge.”

During one of the many battles that were fought for control of the building and mastery of the futurian artefacts therein, the records department received a direct hit in the archives by a proton torpedo. Sadly the equivalent of an entire life-time of knowledge was destroyed in a single moment. So, you see; Gideon wants me to fill in the blanks.”

“Oh.” Flaxwell responded – once he realised that The Portal of Everywhere wasn’t going to add anything more. “Is it going to be fun?”

“Are you asking me, or Noodles?” Gideon inquired.

But Flaxwell didn’t get to answer the question; – because Noodles spoke once more;- and it wasn’t worth trying to yell over the machine’s thunderous volume control:

“This is Nobby De Aranquez.” It said…

“He was a visitor to the Museum of Future Technology. Like many before, and after him, he was thrilled by the whooshes and fizzles that commonly greeted customers as they entered…

But he had not entered by any of the usual entry points. No doors were opened to allow him ingress. No, he came, with others, through the Tunnel Temporale…

They had begun their journey from several years in the future, via the Tunnel Temporale’s successor – The Tubo Di Tempo. It is important, at this juncture, that I tell you their names – for they have been forgotten, and this is not how it should be. With Nobby came several earplugs with the souls of explorers. Their names were  Noodie Bumsho, Edie Chalice, Munqui Bannister, Peter Crushing, Rosie Stinkpipe, Danka Sixpack, Jemina Jobsworth, Dina Havoc, Porcine Pillock, Randy Blueprint, Bungay Jumpur, and two zombies by the name of Klux and Grimnax. Amongst their number was a fair maid by the name of Mincey Muir…

She was the daughter of a famous thespian, who was loved by millions.”

“Sir Dodger Muir.” Gideon whispered during one of Noodles’ pauses for cyber-breath. “My Mum has all his movies on recordable media discs. She watches at least one a week. Sometimes seven.”

“They had departed the future on a day trip to the past,.” Noodles continued – apparently unaware of the message between earplugs, “unsuspecting that all means of Time Travel would cease abruptly and without warning. But they were not the only party to depart for that particular era on that particular day. Three disgruntled chefs from the Ciudad De Droxford, thought that they had a better chance of a decent job in the past…

Their names were, from right to left: Saxon Nibble; Wilson Bucket; and Duncan Propshaft. Of course, once the future museum’s customers failed to return from their trip that evening, agents of T.W.I.T were sent to rescue them. But sadly a miscalculation was made. The commanding officer – a dolt named Major Flaccid – elected to send four new recruits. He thought it would be a good test for them. What a turd…

They too must never be forgotten – even though they actually have been – if you know what I mean. Their names – once again from right to left – are Neville Scroat; Pixie Taylor; Chickweed Gubbins; and Jeremy Farton. But even they were not the last to travel that fateful day. No, a heroic female test pilot in an experimental rocket was shot down by a marauding Hyperspace Pirate vessel. The engine that powered her craft was also experimental – with some unexpected side-effects. When it exploded, it hurled the debris, an escape pod, and Tanganika Chunks, into the past – where, after saving the day from the megalomaniacal Mincey Muir,  who had taken control of a Time Control machine that threatened all of eternity, she married Farmer Thompson and decided to live a low-key life in the past…

But, even her remarkable entry into that era wasn’t the last visitor from the future. Indeed, two more were to arrive – trying against all odds to save everyone and everything, in the time-honoured fashion of brave earplugs. Naturally they were Magnuss Earplug – the museum’s greatest hero; and his former bounty hunter girlfriend – Hair-Trigger Provost!

And now they were all stuck in their own past, and forbidden to do anything that might change history and alter the time-line. If the status quo were not interrupted, then, clearly, they were all in for some seriously long and boring lives!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

The Bare-Assed Chef Keeps it Cool

Hello, I’m Chef Tooty…

As well as wearing Spanish football shirts, I also post cooking tips for people who don’t like cooking, but have to. Also I don’t like being hot; so when I root around in the fridge or freezer for gastronomic inspiration, I tend to do without underpants on…

Well on this particular Summer’s day it was blisteringly hot, so the thought of actually cooking something made me want to go and lie down a bit. But when I recovered I quickly realised that the fridge, although sparse in food stuffs, did contain enough for a salad – just as long as the cupboard did too. From the fridge I chose these…

 

Note Waitrose products to match my apron – naturally, as is the way of things. And from the cupboard – these…

Now it’s very important to go well equiped for salad making. You’ll need these…

…a couple of chopping boards; a big bowl; and the courage to use them.

First I chopped some lettuce up…

And I mean really chopped it up – though I did stop short of putting it through a blender. And not a lot either: no one wants loads of huge, tasteless, leaves on their plate. That sort of thing went out in the early nineteen-seventies. No boiled eggs either. I like ’em, but not everyone does. Then I did this to some cheese…

Then – just to prove that its really me doing the work – this happened…

Yes I sliced some tomatoes. I couldn’t actually show me doing it because I had to hold the camera with the hand that would have held the knife. Of course, had my willy possessed an opposable thumb, it would have been different. But alas. Anyway, this is how they looked afterwards…

Ditto the apple…

..minus the core, of course. Apart from being ghastly, the pips are also poisonous. Bet you didn’t know that. Then I halved some grapes and bunged them all into the big bowl…

I was introduced to the idea of sweetcorn in salads when I lived in Spain – hence the football shirts. I had to buy the shirts so that I got preferential treatment in the seaside bars where I watched international games on their huge televisions – and ended up happily supporting the Spanish team. But that’s by-the-by. So I took the easy option (like I do) and opened a can of sweetcorn – with a couple of cans of tuna. And this is how they looked when I added them to the mix…

“Shit!” I hear you say. “That looks bloody awful!”

Ah, but wait until I add the caesar salad dressing and stir it up a bit, which I think they call ‘tossing’…

Was it nice? Was it so yummy that I wish I’d made double the amount? You bet your bare ass it was!

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 23)

His mood didn’t lighten much when the Portal of Everywhere – or Noodles, as it preferred to be known – suddenly boomed:

“Make yourself comfortable. Open your popcorn. It’s show time!”

“Right then.” It began. “Let’s check you two out first. The cosmic data stream informs me that you – the one with the hair – are best known as Flaxwell Maltings. Correct?”

Flaxwell was nothing short of astonished. Here he was, on a hidden world in the Great Balsac Nebula – light years from anywhere; and some machine that only exists in legend and has been buried for thousands of years – perhaps more – knows who he is – without asking!

“Check.” He replied.

Noodles turned it’s attention to Gideon.

“Where is your hat, Doctor Gideon Snoot?” It inquired. But before Gideon could bring his fallen-open mouth under control, Noodles added: “Oh yes; you left it in the broom cupboard aboard the Zephyr.”

“Um…yes.” Gideon said, dumbfounded.

“That’s Round One complete.” Noodles said – a hint of amusement entering its voice. “I’d say I landed a couple of knock-out blows there – wouldn’t you?”

Flaxwell and Gideon were not going to argue. They both nodded vigorously.

Noodles continued: “Does this scene mean anything to either of you?”

“Um…no.” Gideon replied.

“What is it?” Flaxwell replied.

“It’s a big red cliff.” Noodles answered. “Maybe one of you will climb it one day. Or, hey, maybe you’ll fall off it. Break your neck or something stupid. I’m joking: it’s probably a glitch in the cosmic data stream. Now check this out.”

“It’s us.” Gideon cheered. “On our way here!”

“No.” Noodles spoiled the moment for the young professor. “It’s a cable end Scroton Five, and it’s tracking you. But don’t worry about that right now. Take a look at this.”

“Now that is definitely us.” Gideon said confidently. “I distinctly remember doing that.”

Then this scene appeared in the Portal of Everywhere…

Both Flaxwell and Gideon cringed…

“Holy heck.” Flaxwell yelled. “I’d definitely remember that – if it happened. Don’t tell me: that might happen to us one day too?”

“Well it wouldn’t surprise me.” Noodles replied. “Look.”

“It’s the Scroton Five that’s been tracking you since you opened your first Gravity Lock.”

“Look where it is, Flaxwell.” Gideon cried out in horror. “It’s already inside the nebula!”

“Want to see who’s flying that craft?” Noodles invited.

“No, not really.” Flaxwell said adamantly. “I’m not much into crystal ball gazing.”

But Noodles ignored him…

“The purple guy is called Captain Werner Hissenfrapp. He runs the show. The planet on-screen is this one. The blue guy is Urchie Kakkapo. You’d do well to get on his good side: he bakes fabulous pancakes you just wouldn’t believe. And he makes his own maple syrup too. Don’t ask me how: there are no maple trees on Scroton.”

It was Gideon’s turn to lose his high regard for the Portal of Everywhere:

“Enough of the bios.” He shouted. “Show us what we came all the way here to see.”

This outburst confused Flaxwell because he wasn’t aware that they’d come all this way to see anything. He thought they’d come to find the Portal of Everywhere; dig it up; take it back to civilisation; and become fabulously rich and famous.

“Oh,” Noodles responded. “You mean this place…”

“The Museum of Future Technology. Well, fans, you’re in for a real treat – coz I’m not about to show you some great vision of The Museum of Future Technology. No. I’m gonna show you visions of three Museums of Future Technology – in two different eras and in two different parts of the galaxy. How about that, huh?”

“Goodie.” The two space craft stealers replied. “We can’t wait.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

Anger Management; and How Not to Deal With Malcontent Machinery

I remember the day when I realised that machines have personalities – and that some of them are complete arse holes. I was sixteen, with a bicycle that would jump out of gear, just when I most needed it to stay in gear – that being mid-wheelie. As I conducted a roadside repair I warned the offending bike that if it jumped out of gear one more time I would carry it up to the top of a garage and throw it off. Well, one more wheelie attempt, and the bike duly failed to take flight as I hurled it as far as I could from the top of the aforementioned garage. It set a precedent; and I’ve been pretty much that way ever since. I can’t begin to recall the number of malfuctioning devices that have incurred my wrath through the years. Electric organs, audio cassette players, VCRs, DVD players, printers (obviously – a more bastardly device has yet to be invented. Am I right?), computers (ditto) – including this one…

…cameras, TVs, coffee machines, up to, and including, entire motorcycles. But having reached my sixties I thought a little maturity had set in. I was wrong. I own this semi-classic Toyota…

I don’t need it; and I don’t drive it. But I like it – a lot – and it never hurts to have a spare anything – especially transportation. So it just sits beneath a canvas tent, draining its battery. So, every couple of weeks I use this battery charger to bring it back up to drivable condition…

I bought it in 1978 for a motorcycle holiday in the west of England. I can’t imagine how many times it’s been used through the years. So I thought it should be given a respectful retirement – and put aside for emergency use only. It’s replacement looks an awful lot like this…

Compact, efficient, modern, with lots of digital bells and whistles. So, when it was required to charge the battery for the first time, it informed me that my Toyota’s battery was producing 7.7 volts. “Thank you.” I said, as I pressed the multi-use button with which I would determine whether to charge a car battery or a motorcycle battery. Only it wouldn’t give me those options. In fact it would only tell me that the battery was producing 7.7 volts. So I shrugged my shoulders, read the instructions that informed me that it was a smart charger and would know how much power my battery would need to top it up, and left it be. Three hours later it informed me that the battery was producing 7.2 volts. “AArgh!” So it was on with the ancient steam-powered charger for a couple of hours. Only then would the digital charger allow me access to its controls. So I charged the battery for a further four hours on the new charger – and everything was hunky-dory. The next time I used it the same thing happened. And the next time. On the fifth time I’d had enough. If a machine doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, I take it as an act of war and respond with appropriate force…

Problem solved. But it wasn’t a total loss. The crocodile clips will replace the missing ones on my old charger. And that little black square with three red chevrons on? That will appear in an Earplug Adventure as a control panel or street sign.

A Tale of Three Museums (part 22)

Meanwhile, even further away than before, the Cable End’s listening station continued to listen…

…for any trans-galactic radio chatter that might give away the location of the stolen Scroton Five…

Now it’s quite possible that they may have overheard Flaxwell, when he called the Oracle to inform it that henceforth their ship was to be referred to as The Zephyr; but fortunately for him, the station’s Security Manager chose that moment to inquire after the quality of the new brand of coffee beans in the coffee dispenser.

“It’s called Dung.” The braver of his operatives spoke up. “And it tastes like dung.”

“Oh,” the Security Manager responded. “It’s not my taste buds then? It really is horrible?”

“Yes.” All four operatives spoke as one. “If you want us working at peak efficiency, you’ll get us Yuk coffee – like they have down in Scroton Prime.”

“Duly noted. Any developments, regarding the stolen Scroton Five?”

“Yes, Sir.” The most weasely of the operatives informed his boss. “A Scroton Five, commanded by Captain Werner Hissenfrapp, reports that he has arrived at the Balsac Nebula”

“Would that be the Great Balsac Nebula?” The Security Manager inquired as he studied the CCTV footage that had been received from the pursuit vessel…

“What do you think?” The braver operative spoke again. “It looks pretty great to me.”

All five cable ends present then watched as a remote camera – which Selma Ferkins had despatched, just in case their ship was destroyed in the nebula – showed the pursuit ship begin it’s (potentially) dangerous voyage into the unknown…

While all this interplanetary stuff was going on, Flaxwell and Gideon had made their way into a gently-sloping canyon…

They felt more comfortable now that the way was less steep. But when, at last, they reached the lower levels of the valley, they discovered that the slices of pitta bread inside their underpants had soaked up lots of sweat, and were falling apart.

“I feel so despondent.” Gideon moaned. “I can feel things moving around below. I fear that soon the cotton wool padding will fall out through the sagging leg holes.”

Naturally Flaxwell felt much the same way. In fact he was considering returning to the Zephyr for a change of underwear – when suddenly his radiation detector bleeped encouragingly…

“Flipping heck.” He exclaimed. “We’re almost on top of it. Quick – get out your entrenching tool. We have some snow to shovel aside!”

Well, a half-hour later, and with their underpants-inspired woes forgotten, the two earplugs looked down into a shallow trench. At it’s bottom lay an oval device…

“Yes, this is definitely the source of the radiation.” Flaxwell stated. “What does legend tell about the shape of the Porthole of Everywhere?”

For a moment Gideon couldn’t answer the question. He was shaking with eager anticipation. “Uurr.” He managed. Then his professionalism kicked in. “Oval.” He said. Then he said it again and again until he broke down with a nasty coughing fit.

“Look!” Flaxwell exclaimed excitedly – and a little fearfully…

“It’s coming to life.”

Then something totally unexpected happened…

A strange light enveloped the device and those who regarded it. That, in itself, didn’t concern Gideon overly. I fact he’d almost expected it. But what he didn’t expect was that a voice would emanate from it. A loud, stentorian voice that could not be disobeyed:

“You took your bloody time getting here.” It complained. “Oh my aching back. Do you know how long I’ve been down here? Millennia – that’s how long. Eons even. Well come on; jump to it. Stand me up; I’m an erect kinda device. I like to see the horizon.”

So, with much huffing and puffing and even more cotton wool-falling-out-of-thermal underpants, Flaxwell and Gideon had the Porthole of Everywhere upright…

“The nameplate says ‘Noodles’.” Flaxwell observed in an instant. “Does legend tell us anything about the Porthole of Everywhere enjoying an association with a fast-food outlet? He inquired.

Gideon was about to say: “Er…I don’t think so.” when the Portal of Everywhere spoke for a second time:

“My name is Noodles. Now you – the green earplug – get yourself over here for a photo-opportunity. I hope you’re recording this momentous event. I want everyone, everywhere, to know that I am Noodles. This bloody Porthole of Everywhere nonsense hacks me off, I can tell you!”

Of course, when confronted with a disgruntled legend, Gideon duly obliged…

But, at that moment, it all seemed a bit of an anti-climax.

“Duh.” He said.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

Call Me Irresponsible

Call me irresponsible at your liesure. Refer to me as a country bumpkin even. Or an old fool. Failing that – ‘a complete twonk’ or ‘high-end wally’, would suffice. Any of the above would be fitting.

“Oh, no, Tooty.” I hear you gasp, “What have you done?”

What I’ve done is this: I had completely forgotten that anyone can read this blog. Once upon a time it bore a content warning beneath the header. But over the years – what with the child-friendly versions of the Earplug Adventures replacing the foul-mouthed originals – and more and more ‘safe’ blogs about photography and cooking appearing, I’d allowed that warning to disappear. Well now it’s back – up there, beneath the header. Take a look. It doesn’t absolve me from responsibility for the Revel in the Ribaldry and Bare-Assed Chef posts, but at least it has warned the more sensitive – and just plain ‘young‘ – readers off. Oh dear, I do feel guilty. Sorry, Dulcy.

P.S Darn it: now I can’t use that ‘dildo’ extract from Danglydong Dell Diaries! I was looking forward to that.

A Tale of Three Museums (part 21)

So, without further ado and with the confidence born out of natural adventurousness, they began the descent to the valley floor, where Flaxwell’s radiation detector strongly suggested a target lay waiting…

But they hadn’t gone far before Flaxwell’s nerve broke.

“It’s no good. I can’t help thinking about that great hulk of Scrotonish metal just sitting up there – waiting for a gust of wind to blow it over the edge, where it’ll come crashing down on us, and reduce us to smears.”

But Gideon managed to cajole him into clambering downwards for a short while longer before they had to physically turn around and see for themselves that the Scroton Five continued to sit perfectly still in the mountain breeze…

“I think they call it a Zephyr.” Gideon said.

Flaxwell was puzzled. “They call what a Zephyr? That little blue landing light under the ship’s chin?”

“The mountain breeze that isn’t bothering our ship in the slightest.” Gideon answered. “Though, strictly, it could be termed a Mistral. This breeze is cold and might well come from the north.”

Flaxwell replied with: “Oh.” and left it at that.

Soon they were on their way again. But, before long Flaxwell had an idea so good that he almost fainted. In fact he did faint at the thought of his own creativity. Gideon couldn’t stand the embarrassment, so turned away…

But, as with all creative earplugs, the faint was only momentary. Soon the space pilot had resumed an upright stance…

“I’ve had this really creative idea.” He said to Gideon, who still couldn’t bring himself to look at his enfeebled friend. “Why don’t we name our ship? After all it’s not just any old Scroton Five: it’s our Scroton Five. It deserves a name.”

But, as they started down the mountain again, Gideon saw no logic in Flaxwell’s idea…

“But it is just any old Scroton Five. It’s the Scroton Five that we stole because it was the only one available to us.” He argued. “I feel no attachment to it whatsoever.”

“But the Oracle has become your friend, hasn’t it?” Flaxwell made a verbal rejoinder.

“In a way, I suppose it has.” Gideon conceded. “But it doesn’t want a name. It’s called Oracle. It’s cyber-happy with that.”

“Yeah, okay.” Flaxwell said as he ground his teeth together. “And no doubt every other ship’s oracle is named Oracle. But our Oracle – your friend Oracle – is the ship’s oracle of our Scroton Five. Not just any old Scroton Five.”

Gideon – being an intelligent professor from the Museum of Future Technology – could see that his chum had a valid point. “So,” he began to speak as his thoughts coalesced, “what you’re saying is – is that Oracle should be identified as the ship’s oracle of our Scroton Five specifically. Yes. Yes it should – because it’s not just any old Oracle: it’s a former coffee machine A.I with a distinct anti-cable end attitude. It makes it unique. Things that are unique should have a moniker.”

“Therefore,” Flaxwell said, as they turned to look at the ship again…

…and noted that it appeared to hang just a little more perilously…

…”Our ship should be named.” Flaxwell continued, “in order to differentiate our Oracle from all of those run-of-the-mill oracles out there doing oracally stuff.”

“So you want to call it Mistral.” Gideon concluded.

But he was wrong. “No.” Flaxwell said, as they tore their gaze from the threat above..

“I want to call it Zephyr.”

Gideon agreed wholeheartedly. He considered Zephyr an excellent name. He’d once owned a plugmutt named Zephyr…

…But he’d also owned a plugmutt named Blinky too – but didn’t consider that an excellent or appropriate name for a space ship at all. So it was a happy duo that made its way across the snowy wastes in search of the Portal of Everywhere…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020