Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 14)

Part fourteen already? They do say that time flies when you’re having fun. Here is the latest extract…

So, a few minutes later, they found themselves outside the tent of Madame Nellie – Fortune Teller to the Rich and Famous…

“Are you feeling up for it?” Hair-Trigger asked a reluctant Magnuss.

“I’m not sure,” the hesitant hero replied. “What if she’s the real deal? What if she really can see my future?”

“What’re the chances of that?” Hair-Trigger scoffed. “If she was any good, she wouldn’t have a tent in a bazaar in the arse-end of nowhere.”

But neither could say more because Madame Nellie was about to invite them inside…

“Welcome, my darlings.” She said expansively. “Welcome to my humble abode. I’ve actually got a nice place ‘round the corner; but it’s a bit off the beaten track and nobody can find it without satellite navigation. So it’s the handsome young husband who wants his fortune told, is it?”

Magnuss hadn’t realised that Nellie was perfectly capable of hearing them through the thin fabric of her tent, so was duly impressed. “Yes please.” He said. “Where do I sign? How much does it cost? Will you need to touch me anywhere?”

Nellie smiled at this. “Only the once.” She answered. “Just a momentary caress of your temple.” But when she performed the simple act, something seemed to change in her. Her gentle bonhomie evaporated…

“This is no good.” She snapped. “We must leave this tent immediately. Follow me. Hurry now: don’t dawdle.”

Both Earthling earplugs were taken aback, but that didn’t stop them from acquiescing to the fortune teller’s demand. They quickly found themselves hurrying along a narrow corridor between the town’s quarters…

Earplugs passed them in the opposite direction – none of which made eye contact…

Then, unexpectedly, they exited a building – into the Old Quarter…

Magnuss – now genuinely concerned for their safety – noted the name of the street. Then it was along to another ancient abode…

But once inside the tiny one-up/one-down house, his fears receded. They were alone with the solitary unarmed female…

Both earplugs tried smiling; but it didn’t do any good: Nellie was as serious as ever…

“You are Magnuss Finklestein Earplug.” She stated matter-of-factly. “Don’t ask me how I know that. Suffice to say that I am ‘the real deal’. I am clairvoyant: I can see your future. I can also see your past.”

This last line had Magnuss feeling nervous and vulnerable. “Can you see the time when I was walking home from school and I had a surreptitious tinkle in Missus Snook’s old air raid shelter?”

For a moment Nellie paused. “Aah, no.” She replied. “Thankfully not. But don’t prevaricate: this is absolutely important. I now know that your wife is also cut from heroic material. This is good. You will need her help.”

“He’s got it.” Hair-Trigger interrupted. “Always – no matter what. Even if he did urinate in Missus Snook’s old air raid shelter. By the way, I hope the smell didn’t linger, Magnuss. “

“I had a can of air freshener in my school satchel.” Magnuss replied. “It was like a security blanket for me. I eventually grew out of it.”

“Will you two shut up, for flip’s sake!” Nellie bellowed: “I’ve got something really important to tell you. But first a question: do you believe in pre-destination?”

Magnuss felt uncomfortable with the subject. If he said ‘yes’ it meant that he didn’t accept free will. If he said ‘no’ it suggested that he had a closed mind. “I’m not sure.” He said.

“Good.” Nellie responded unexpectedly. “Keep a firm grip upon your agnosticism: you’re going to need it. Here’s another question: have you ever heard of the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah?”

Both young earplugs pulled puzzled faces and shook their heads.

“Good.” Nellie surprised them again. “Because you, Magnuss, are going to discover them.”

“Ugh?” Magnuss and Hair-Trigger said in unison. Magnuss then added: “But what are the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah?”

At this Nellie merely shrugged her shoulders. “I’m a fortune teller.” She replied. ”Not the Fountain of Knowledge. I don’t know what they are; but you are going to find them. And – apparently – the continued existence of Tah-Di-Tah depends upon it. That’s it – on your way: now it’s all down to you.”

So it was a somewhat shell-shocked couple who exited the hovel through the back door…

“What are we gonna do?” They cried as one. Then Hair-Trigger added: “A whole world depends on what we do next.”

“I know.” Magnuss wailed. “Right now I wish we’d taken our honeymoon on Worstworld – just as its star goes nova. That wouldn’t have been half as bad as this. I don’t know what to do – and I don’t like not knowing what to do. It’s not in my DNA!”

So wrapped up in their worries were Magnuss and Hair-Trigger that they didn’t even notice the group of lost tourists walk by in the opposite direction…

So they wandered back in the direction of the Hotel Gilb…

…down some alleyways that were very dark indeed. And all Magnuss could think about was the joy he’d experienced when he discovered the Tankerville Norris’ futuristic urinal…

…which led to another thought.

“Hairy,” he said, “I think I’m getting an inkling of an idea. It has something to do with Bunk-Bunk Bunsen and his space ship plans. I don’t think it was an accident that the Scrotonites got their hands on them. I think they were supposed to!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

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