Earplugs without Pictures 5


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 tantalising tale…

Click cover image for complete story in PDF format

So, whilst Magnuss and Benjamin began their sojourn in search of the museum’s inhabitants, the showgirls stumbled across the crashed time ship. Of course, being entertainers, they didn’t recognize it for what it was, and instead thought that it might possibly be either a crashed aircraft or an invasion from outer space. They preferred the former explanation, and duly set out to find the absent occupants. Naturally, to cover more ground quickly they elected to break up into three groups, each comprising two showgirls. Delia Stodge and Poki Kitchener set off in an easterly direction. Belle Ching and Wendy Rucksack headed north by northwest. And Ragi Half-Nelson and Nokaks Newbold dropped several floors to the basement and thence to the sub-strata upon which the original museum had been built. Upon reaching the rock bottom – literally – they were bemused when they discovered it utterly devoid of life.

“I’m bemused on at least seventeen levels of bemusability.” Nokaks informed her dancing co-worker. “I may only be an attractive young female who can step in time and kick her feet high above her head; but I really expected to find signs of a frightened populace cowering in the shadows from whatever it was that happened whilst we were in a drunken stupor. How about you, Ragi?”

Ragi didn’t reply immediately: she was too busy fretting about something that she’d just realised. Eventually she said: “Nokaks, you’re not going to believe this; but I got so drunk last night that I forgot to remove my sequined dancing knickers. Now they’re chafing the heck out of my thighs – and I’m not enjoying it!”

Meanwhile, out and about on their own earplug hunt, Belle and Wendy stumbled upon the Nul-Space Power Generator, which, they noted, whirred quietly in hibernation mode. Naturally they turned the dial up a few notches; then waited to see what would happen.

The effect of Belle and Wendy’s action wasn’t immediately obvious as Ragi and Nokaks quickly made their way back into the more modern regions of the museum. But the dancing duo nearly wet themselves when they were caught in the blinding glare of a security light.

“Oh Nokaks,” Ragi yelled only semi-coherently, “I really wish that dingbat Belle hadn’t woken us up so darned early this morning: we could be all tucked up nice and warm in our beds right now. When this terrible adventure concludes – hopefully with a happy ending – I’m going to join another ballet!”

But, in order to accomplish her ‘happy ending’ Ragi knew that standing around whilst wailing like an air raid siren would get her nowhere; so the two girls pressed on with their search. With no clear plan to follow, they soon found themselves upon a wide plain, where a small sign informed them it was intended that more exhibits from future eras would appear sometime in the…er…future. It was very wide and very flat, and both girls felt intimidated by its vastness. But although they hated the place with a vengeance, their feelings of loathing were put aside, and their quest for the truth continued – eventually leading them to a green impact splodge.

“Ugh?” Ragi said intelligently. “It looks as though something fell from the sky and went splat. What do you think it might be, Nokaks?”

Nokaks might have been an expert at wearing spectacular headdresses and performing the opening act and exciting finales in variety shows; but something falling from the sky and going splat existed in a mental environment to which she was an alien visitor. “Um,” she replied, “I’m not sure, but it looks to me like it might be evidence of some form of chemical attack. Something was dropped here, and it spread to other places…through the ventilation system, maybe? The result of which is what you see on the other levels.”

Ragi wasn’t sure what impressed her more: Nokak’s remarkable improvised theory, or the effect that sudden dread can have on a female earplugs’ ability to retain intestinal wind. “Gosh.” She said. “I wonder if the chemicals smelt as rotten as my gas.”

AND

Magnuss had been grateful for Benjamin Booger’s local knowledge. It was the green earplug who informed him that if they really needed to access the Wide Blue Yonder, they didn’t have to cross the Woven Expanse to get there. In the alternative universe the faux desert extended much farther, and with the use of a desert sled, which was powered by a mighty three cylinder air-cooled two-stroke motor, they could cross it in short order. Unfortunately mighty three cylinder air-cooled two-stroke motors consume fuel at a prodigious rate, and its tank showed empty just as the party arrived at the Wide Blue Yonder’s outer edge, which really cheesed-off Magnuss because he really liked two-strokes and was hoping to ride it all the way to the arboretum. So, stumbling through the last of the desert’s fake sand, Magnuss led the others to a vantage point that overlooked their next task. To say that the Wide Blue Yonder looked daunting was an understatement of seismic proportions.

“We’re doomed if we try to cross that.” K’Plank opined loudly. “We’ll stand out like a vicious sore on an otherwise pristine porcelain buttock. We’re sure to disappear without warning or trace. Give me back my Sheath of Unseeableness, you rotten swine!”

But then Poki had an idea. “Delia and I work in the theatre.” She said. “We know how all the wonders of show-biz work. It’s all the workings beneath the stage. That’s where the magic is made.”

“Of course.” Magnuss bellowed as hope surged within his silicon chest. “Maintenance access tunnels. They must criss-cross the Wide Blue Yonder at a thousand points. Poki, if I didn’t love Hair-Trigger Provost with every fibre of my being, I’d take you ’round the back of the nearest bike shed and give you a great big kiss. Well done: I think you’ve supplied the answer to our problem. Let’s go find an access hatch or something similar.”

Meanwhile Cabbaggio and Vortexia Di Bikini were receiving a lesson in Blue End Cap technical superiority.

“Yeah,” Flutter sneered, “when we decided that we wanted to control the Museum of Future Technology, we didn’t come in with all disruptor weapons firing. No; we were much too smart for that. We infiltrated a small combat party – complete with our patented Matter Transporter – and began our work from a hidden sanctuary. We’ve been slowly removing the population of the museum – and no one can do anything about it. First we took out the big guys: the curators, the agents of TWIT, and those pinky-orange bums – the Earplug Brothers: then we took out everyone else – except you two of course. But you don’t matter: you’re nobodies. Then, tomorrow afternoon, at about three-thirty, the invasion ships arrive. Then I will lower the defensive screens and the museum will be ours!”

“Gee-whizz.” Vortexia said as she apparently swooned. “That must be one heck of a hidden sanctuary. Where did you say it’s located?”

“In the arboretum, of course.” Flutter replied without thinking. “No one would think of looking for us there.”

“I guess you’re right.” Cabbaggio said with an admiring lilt to his slurred voice. “Now if you’ll excuse us, we need a drink.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

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 The Missing cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

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