Ever wondered what the Earplug Adventures would look like minus the photos? Might their absence highlight the shortcomings of the writing? Well let’s find out, shall we? Here’s a couple of brief extracts. In this case from this fabulous tale…
Like a soggy blanket, time hung heavily upon Hakking Chestikov’s shoulders whilst he waited alone on the fringes of the mystical mountain kingdom of Kah-Ki-Pu. But as dusk finally arrived, Hakking knew that he must do exactly as the Advice Shop computer had instructed him. That instruction was that he should stand directly beneath the huge vent pipe that protruded from the very bowels of the mountain upon which Kah-Ki-Pu stood. Once in position he must empty his mind of all thoughts bar his greatest wish. So, as deep impenetrable shadows slipped across the mountain like an approaching swarm of quiescent locusts, Hakking felt a strange sensation in the end of his nose. It quickly spread throughout his body, and he began to sparkle. Then the world seemed to spin out of control like a gigantic un-balanced ceiling fan, and he became disoriented. Although he had no mirror to hand, he felt absolutely certain that a great physical change had occurred. And he wasn’t wrong. So five minutes later he arrived back at Lilac’s – out of breath and sweating like an aging boar in a duffle coat.
“Look, Glenda,” he cried as Glenda Bootstrap emerged from the bar, “it’s me: Hakking Chestikov!”
Glenda was nothing short of amazed. “I’m nothing short of amazed.” She squealed with delight. “You’re so devilishly handsome; if you hadn’t spoken I’d never have recognised you. Not sure about the vaguely excremental hue though: that could take some getting used to. But at least you don’t smell.”
Hakking was very pleased with Glenda’s reaction. It allowed an idea to form inside his curator’s head: “I wonder,” he began nervously, “since I’m no longer the most repulsive male earplug on the planet…”
His request trailed off into silence; but Glenda knew what he wanted to say: “You’d like me to take you inside for a nice cup of tea and a round of crumpets, wouldn’t you?” She said.
Hakking nodded. “Please.” He said. “If you don’t think I’m being too bold.”
“Not at all.” Glenda assured her new-found chum. “It’ll give me the chance to use my new gingham table cloth.”
“I don’t know,” Findlay said with a sigh, “it’s almost as if they don’t want to be found.”
“I think you’re right.” John-Douglas grunted as he pulled himself through a roughly hewn hatchway that led to another level. “This place is deserted.”
But as they crept around in the subdued lighting, neither prospector was aware that any number of eyes were secretly trained upon them.
As they entered a vast hall, John-Douglas said: “I vote we go back and tell the sheriff that he’s a face-ache.”
Although John-Douglas was keen to quit, Findlay wanted to continue the search. “Sheriff Brooch swears that he saw movement and heard voices.” He replied. “In any case, what would the girls think of us if we just gave up?”
John-Douglas agreed regretfully, and so only half-noticed that the great hall was carpeted. Instead he was more concerned with the opinions of their girlfriends, Lillie Whitewater and Kirsten Sponduli. “If we return empty-handed, so-to-speak,” He squeaked, “do you think they might spurn us?”
Findlay nodded. “Lunch would be off the menu, that’s for certain.”
John-Douglas took a second to digest this. “Oh, right.” He said as he stepped forward. “Let’s get at it then. Leave no stone unturned and that sort of thing.”
So they did, and after only a short while they discovered a modernised section that included pre-stressed concrete as a major construction material. Then John-Douglas thought he heard voices accompanying a rather funky rhythm. So it came as no surprise when they turned the next corner to find a disco in full flow.
Some girls called to them: “Coo-ee,” they shouted above the insistent bass line of ‘Everybody Wear a Disco Hump’, by Hambledon Bohannon, “why don’t you join us? You can dance around our handbags if you want to. Let’s get down – huh!”
But, as it happened, neither Findlay nor John-Douglas really enjoyed disco music: and prancing around a dance floor in platform shoes was an absolute anathema to them. They preferred traditional folk, barn dances, and sensible sneakers. So they made their farewells – despite the fact that the girls were in imminent danger of falling off their high heels and showing their knickers as they sprawled gracelessly across the disco floor – and departed with the news that the catacombs contained a thriving and intellectually advanced society.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2016
Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the Stepladder to the Stars cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.