Rudi may have been desperate for a drink, but that didn’t stop him rounding his brothers up and returning to the exit in their company…
“Yeah,” he said, amongst many other things, “when I found that cavern full of cascading waters and a delightful mist, it was all I could do to stop myself flinging my poor tortured body off the cliff and into its cool embrace.”
Magnuss cast a look back over his shoulder and smiled. “Since when did Rudi speak so poetically?” He said to himself. “Tortured body and cool embrace? I’ve never heard the like.”
Fortunately for all concerned the Café Puke chain of vile coffee emporiums had branches across the Museum of Future Technology, and only five minutes of fast walking elapsed before the Earplug Brothers stumbled into one of their automated outlets…
Naturally Rudi raced to the vending machine first – quickly followed by the equally desperate Magnuss. This left Chester, Miles, and Valentine to chat about their brief encounter with the powers of the Wonky Supreme Being.
Miles said: “We were so lucky that we had Susan to save the day; otherwise I don’t know what horrors might have befallen us.”
To which Valentine responded: “Yeah – far out, man.”
And Chester yelled: “Susan! The lovely, if rather physically challenging Susan! She must be as desperate for a coffee as us: we must race back and fetch her. I’ll go.”
But, ultimately he didn’t need to: Susan – being an empath from the future; and Chester being in possession of telepathic talents – she could follow the muddied thoughts and trail of sweat that had fallen from Rudi’s mind and brow – and so now joined the brothers…
“There’s only one flavour available, I’m afraid.” Chester said apologetically on behalf of the inept Café Puke management. “It’s Americano Intenso. It’s black, so it comes without milk. But, if you’re desperate, you can add sugar.”
“I’m trying to watch my weight.” Susan replied. “I’m also a borderline Type Two diabetic: does the device hold sweetener tablets perchance?”
Chester was appalled: “Type Two Diabetes? In the future? Why, the standard of medicine is lower than the actual Stone-Age!”
“Well,” Susan said with a sigh, “it’s like this: like everything else, all of our tablets are made from stone. Have you ever tried taking small pebbles with your meals? It’s possible, but they don’t do much good. And passing them can be quite uncomfortable too – even for a shape-shifter like me. So I don’t bother, but I keep an eye on my diet to compensate.”
The conversation continued in much the same vein as both parties exchanged information about themselves and their physical abnormalities. But soon, having departed the Café Puke, en route to a meeting with the curators, Susan made an astonishing discovery…
“Look, boys,” she squealed with girlish delight, “Since imbibing that vile coffee, I can turn myself into a giant earplug!”
Whilst Chester (in particular), Miles, Rudi, and Valentine were delighted, Magnuss saw this discovery as a potential advantage to them when they finally met Cushions Smethwyke – because although the Wonky Supreme Being’s attempts to infiltrate the Museum of Future Technology had been thwarted, his mere presence remained a threat to it and everybody within it. Although he hadn’t discussed it with his brothers, it was clear to Magnuss that they would need to take the fight to the enemy. And for that they would require a star ship. Something that didn’t grow on trees, and was very expensive to run.
“Excellent.” He said as the others made congratulatory remarks of their own. “Well done Susan. Now let’s get you tanked up on some more Americano Intenso.”
“Thank you, Magnuss,” a slightly uncomfortable Susan said to Magnuss, “but I think fifteen cups of ghastly coffee are enough for now. And I hope there’s a toilet with larger-than-average cubicles on the way to our meeting this Cushions Smethwyke female: I feel my legs crossing as we speak.”
Again shortly, and after Magnuss had explained his behaviour to everyone, the Earplug Brothers were seen to march resolutely to their rendezvous with the chief curator…
“We’ll keep Susan in reserve.” Magnuss said.
“In case Cushions tries to keep a firm grip on her purse strings.” Rudi added.
And, just for good measure, Valentine added: “Yeah, sho’nuf. Right on!”
Well, as luck would have it, Cushions had begun to wonder where the heck everyone had got to, so she took her entourage with her to meet the boys on one of the Museum’s many thoroughfares…
Her ‘entourage’ included Auntie Doris, Barcode Betty, and Winston Gloryhole. Naturally Rupert Piles followed with his powerful 3D TV camera, which was already running when the Earplug Brothers arrived…
“Hi, boys.” The ever-cheerful Auntie Doris greeted them with one of her smiles. “You’re all intact, I hope. Call ‘round at the apartment I share with K’plank the Space Wanderer later: I’ve made a delicious lemon drizzle cake.”
Naturally the brothers thanked their Aunt for the kind invitation; then turned their attention to Cushions – as did Rupert Piles and his TV camera…
Magnuss took the lead and told her of their adventure in The Age of Stone. He finished with: “So, as you can see for yourself, unless we rid ourselves of the Wonky Supreme Being’s existential threat, the museum is resting upon shaky ground.”
Rupert moved in for a close-up.
“Yeah?” Cushions replied. “Whatta ya want me to do about it? You’re the heroes ‘round here: you figure it out.”
“We sho’nuf have, funky mama,” Valentine responded to the curator’s vaguely antagonistic manner, “and it aint gonna be cheap.”
Both Barcode Betty and Winston Gloryhole showed subtle alarm at this information. “What do you mean?” They asked in unison.
“We must visit the planet of the Galactic Court.” Magnuss answered. “We need the powers of the God-like beings who reside there to fight our potential nemesis.”
“That’s the Wonky Supreme Being.” Chester interjected helpfully.
“So we need a star ship.” Miles added.
Naturally, being the chief curator of a near-bankrupt museum, Cushions immediately pooh-poohed the notion. “Honestly,” she replied, “the ideas you boys get. I’m sure you’ve blown this completely out of all proportions. Didn’t that big green blob see him off?”
“Yes, she did.” Susan’s voice filled the thoroughfare like a fanfare of badly played tubas with misaligned baffle plates…
…“and I’m telling you that it’s only a matter of time before he, or it, breaks through the firewalls I’ve erected around the Age of Stone. Then, when he, or it, gets inside it’s…
…goodbye Cushions Smethwyke and everything you hold dear!”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021