Climatic Calamity (part 8)


Could this be the episode in which the earplugs manage to turn the tide? Let’s find out, shall we? Read on…

Meanwhile, many kilometres distant, Erronious and Hellfire had finally found an abandoned shepherd’s hut, inside which they quickly took shelter…

“Do you have any of those oaty biscuit bars in your back pocket?” Hellfire inquired. “All this trudging about the mountain side has made me really hungry.”

“I do.” Erronious replied as he stood, warming ever so slightly now that he was out of the wind. “But you can’t have them. You know what you’re like after a meal: you’ll only want to visit the toilet.”

“What’s wrong with visiting the toilet?” Hellfire asked in a complaining tone.

The reply came instantaneously: “This hut doesn’t have one.”

But what it did have was a hexagonal tunnel that led into the hillside. Naturally the twosome investigated…

“Oh look, Erronious,” Hellfire cried out, “this tunnel has one of those roof-mounted sky lanterns that allow the daylight to be reflected down a polished shaft where it illuminates part of a building that would otherwise be cloaked in shadow.”

“Yeah, very nice.” Erronious grumbled as his gaze shifted in the direction of the sky lantern’s opening. “But what happens when a winter storm breaks it off? I’ll tell you: the weather will get in and render this place uninhabitable. I think they’re absolute rubbish: I hate ‘em with a passion. Now let’s see where this tunnel leads us – before it’s too late, and we get entombed in ice and snow.”

Meanwhile, at the Museum of Future Technology, the sky was becoming darker. Someone sent a flare up to see just how dark…

Someone in the Age of Stone exhibit had another idea. In an attempt to shield the side of the ‘castle’ that faced away from the prevailing winds, he, or she, had a team erect a huge glass barrier that had been hanging around the store for years, but had no obvious use. Now it did…

It gave limited, but sufficient protection for the more religious earplugs amongst the crowd to make their way out of the back door, where they could quickly trudge across a playing field to pray for salvation at the giant concrete toadstool icon…

Barry Dirtbox and his End Cap scullery maid, Fanny Hardcore were the first to arrive.

“Dear Giant Concrete Toadstool,” Barry said solemnly, “I’m really fed up with this snow. And Fanny, here, has got chilblains. Please make it go away.”

“And make me more attractive.” Fanny added. “If you’ve got the time, of course.”

“Yes.” Barry nodded vigorously. “But the snow gets priority, right?”

Elsewhere, inside the breached carapace of the Museum of Future Technology…

…the weather had transformed the Wide Blue Yonder into an ice sheet to rival any at the planet’s poles.

Whilst former female weightlifters, Mandy and Candy enjoyed their unplanned skating session immensely; Poncho Warmonger wore his usual miserable expression and wished he’d stayed at home with a good book and a hot water bottle.

As much fun as it was for some earplugs, other – more responsible earplugs – took upon themselves to mount tracked or hover vehicles and search for anyone in need of help…

They assumed, as almost everyone did, that the Nul-Space power generator had more than enough capacity to heat and light the museum through a protracted winter or mini ice-age. In essence they were correct. But what they hadn’t taken into account was the frozen canal that supplied the generator with coolant. Already engineers had been forced to reduce the amount of power asked of the wondrous device. Even as the hover chariots roamed the open areas of the museum in search of hapless earplugs who were too stupid to find shelter, engineers were dampening the energy transfer nodes all across the vast structure…

“Oh flip,” one engineer cried as the transfer node went to turquoise alert, “that means we’ll have to cut the power even more!”

This quickly became apparent to everyone with access to a window when the museum’s navigation and landing lights were extinguished…

…and the lights dimmed in the Café Puke outlets…

Not that either the Baristas or their clientele gave a hoot: they’d been adding extra brandy to every mug of café cortado for the last hour and a half and were well their way to inebriation and sliding beneath the melamine-topped café tables in a drunken haze.

Meanwhile, inside the mountainside, the tunnel down which Erronious Bosche and Hellfire McWilliams explored opened onto a subterranean cavern that glowed with an aerie, pea-like green light…

“Now this I didn’t expect.” Erronious said as they both stopped to take in the view. “I wonder how this got here. Some of the marks in the walls show the characteristic jagged edges of a pick axe or similar rock-hewing implement.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Okay, maybe that discovery didn’t quite live up to expectations; but it’s what they find there that will turn the aforementioned tide. You just wait and see – in episode 9!

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