Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 15)


So Cushions took the only course of action open to her: “Right then; I’ll be off. Good luck. See ya.”

With that she went straight to the exit and turned back to take one final look at the Rhubarb Crumble’s first (and hopefully not last) crew.  One of Susan’s multi-bodies took the Captain’s chair, where she stumbled upon the dimmer switch for the bridge lighting…

The boys were amused, but Susan’s other parts were less so. Components of shape-shifters weren’t supposed to work autonomously; of their own volition; off their own bat; or any other descriptive phrase for individualism.

“Sorry,” she said, “my finger must have slipped. I’ve only had them for two minutes: I’m not used to the way they feel. But I’m sure it’ll come to me.”

Then she realised that she still hadn’t returned the illumination levels to earplug normal. “Oh, sorry again.” She said as she stabbed at the dimmer switch…

Cushions took this as her cue to leave. Five minutes later the flying saucer blasted from the surface of Mars…

Naturally the principal component of Susan replaced her secondary part in the Captain’s chair. In doing so she activated the ship’s main viewer, which displayed a misty picture of the ship yard…

“Look at that,” Chester said as he leaned towards the nominal Captain, “dawn already: we’d best follow Cushions’ lead and be on our way.”

Susan concurred; but moments before she announced lift-off, Cushions had boarded her portable Omnipresent Scanner and had used it to send them a farewell message…

“Boys,” she said gravely, “once again the Museum of Future Technology is indebted to you – even if I am indebted to the bank personally. I’m sure you’ll be entirely successful: but if you’re not, don’t worry about my credit rating – I’ll probably be dead or incarcerated in some dismal dungeon inside the Age of Stone – if and when you get back. By-ee.”

Susan had little patience for sore losers: a split second later the Rhubarb Crumble’s lifting motors fired…

And shortly after that everyone felt slightly odd as they entered the void beyond the planet’s feeble atmosphere…

Miles listened surreptitiously as Chester said to Susan: “Have you ever been in space before Susan?”

To which Susan replied: “Yes; once.”

“Were you space sick?” Chester inquired nervously.

Susan answered in the affirmative. “Several times…copiously.” She added. “I lost my job as an interplanetary translator as a result.”

This wasn’t exactly what Chester wanted to hear, so he ran around to the other side of the chair, which placed him opposite the exit…

“Perhaps you should adjourn to your ready room.” He suggested. “I think there’s a sink or vanity basin in there for you to vomit in.”

It was a sound, logical suggestion, but saying it was much easier than doing it. Her vast bulk almost filled the tiny cabin…

…and she knocked her com-panel off its plinth, which sent sparks flying.

“Drat.” She said – before doing this…

“Oh,” she said, “how strange: that electrical discharge has cured my queasy organ that’s analogous to the earplug’s tummy. In fact…

…I’m rather annoyed that I’ve been forced to flee my many duty stations. Right: I – or rather we – are coming back.”

Moments later…

“Captain on the bridge.” Rudi announced as he stepped down from his self-appointed position in the Captain’s chair.

“I’ll have to remember that trick – the next time I feel ghastly.” Susan said through a smile. “Can someone set me up an electrical socket in this chair? One I can stick my finger in.” She then gave her first command in space: “Okay, here we go: fire up the main drive.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

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