Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 26)


I thought the story would stretch to 25 episodes. I thought wrong: welcome to episode 26…

Magnuss didn’t like the sound of that. In fact he didn’t like it so much that he stopped farting entirely. “Control?” He queried. “Control a black hole? Methinks you’ve lost your marbles, you mad green earplug.”

“I’m unfamiliar with the term.” His host replied. “But regard our would-be nemesis. They are targeted. The Guide Line points the way.”

Magnuss thought it best to reserve judgement on what he was seeing. As much as he didn’t like the idea of mere earplugs trying to control the most powerful force in the Galaxy, he liked the idea of merciless rampaging aliens even less. “Oh, excellent.” He said. But he didn’t really mean it.

Then he quickly reversed his opinion. Something was happening to the leading ship of the alien fleet. It was looking decidedly bloated. And the formation of ships behind it appeared to be twisting out of shape…

“The Second Line.” Fake Nellie whispered reverentially. “The Line of Force.”

Even Hair-Trigger’s nerve broke when the singularity seemed to fill their view…

“Please tell me you’ve done this before.” Magnuss pleaded.

“We completed three thousand simulations before the catastrophe when the resulting tsunami overwhelmed us.” Their host replied.

“Oh good.” He said with a tremulous voice. “I’m so relieved.” And he didn’t really mean that either. Especially when the black hole began rotating…

Both he and Hair-Trigger had just enough time to yell, “What the flip?” when, in a blink of an eye, the alien horde were sucked away at an impossible velocity…

…and all that remained was good, honest, regular outer space…

“Nature may abhor a vacuum,” Hair-Trigger said into the resulting silence – before cheering could be heard from along the corridor somewhere…

…”But I love it – especially when it’s not full of antagonistic space ships.”

Of course, the vast area immediately around the site of the Horns of Guff and its power receivers was now a wasteland…

…but the camera chose to ignore that: and, instead displayed the nearby city, in which the lights were coming back on…

“That was quite a show.” A relieved Magnuss said. “I hope you’ve put that singularity back to bed. By the way, you’ve never mentioned it; but what’s your name?”

“Haven’t I?” The pale green earplug responded. “How remiss of me.”

“Well?” Hair-Trigger snapped in her best demanding tone. “What is it?”

“I can’t remember.” The nameless one replied. “I dreamed so much in hibernation that I’ve become utterly confused. I feel that I am so many people. Reality and fantasy have fused. I know what I am, but I don’t know who I am. But, changing the subject to something that doesn’t trouble me in the least: I noticed that your space ship managed to land safely before the onslaught. I’m quite familiar with its configuration. In fact we have a very nice scale model of it in one of our workshops: would you like to see it?”

Some of Magnuss’ thoughts of earlier in the day returned. He too was a little confused; but he recalled thinking about time and space and all those other things that Madame Nellie had said, and the words displayed in Engineering. There might be an explanation for it all in the offing. “Yes.” He said. “We would – very much.” 

Two minutes later, having traversed almost uncountable corridors, several of which had breached and were open to the air, they entered the required workshop…

“But…but it’s the Tankerville Norris!” Hair-Trigger blurted. “How?”

To his host, Magnuss said: “Who designed this ship?”

The reply was instantaneous and filled with wonder and delight: “Why…why… it was me. I designed this ship. And…and…if I can just spot the identification plaque, I should be able to find my name on it.”

“No need.” Magnuss said as he reached out with a restraining hand. “I know who you are. Your name is Bunson.”

Bunson’s face lit up. But as they turned away from the scale model…

 …she became more serious, and said: “I am Bunson. How can you possibly know that?”

“Because,” Magnuss explained, “your disembodied sub-consciousness has been travelling around far beyond your buried village. You’ve insinuated your mind into the bodies of people – not only on this world, but others too. You have inhabited an earplug upon the planet Scroton – a world that didn’t even exist when you went into hibernation. You gifted the design of that ship to the Scrotonites, who in turn gave the finished article to my wife and I, and which led us to Tah-Di-Tah, where we encountered a clairvoyant by the name of Madame Nellie. Somehow your knowledge was transferred to these people – your likeness too. Presumably this was done by facial contortion exercises in front of the bathroom mirror. But, whatever, you led us to this place in its time of greatest need. I don’t know what talent allowed you to these things, but I’m glad you have it.”

“Yeah.” Hair-Trigger concurred. “And there’s something else too. You’re not called Bunson anymore – at least on Scroton. You’re Bunk-Bunk Bunson: and, like it or not, you’re a hero.”

“Welcome to the club.” Magnuss added. “Unfortunately there is a penalty for being Bunk-Bunk Bunson. Not everything about the Tankerville Norris is as perfect as you would have us believe. For instance, we can’t see out the front window.”

“Yeah.” Hair-Trigger growled. “And I can’t believe that you – as a female – designed the ladies toilet. It’s unspeakably bad.”

Bunson wasn’t prepared for condemnation. “Ooh,” she managed…

But worse news was to follow.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

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