Category Archives: Writing / Books

A ‘It Features in My Book’ Wallpaper: Fictional Village of Brambledown

When I posted the first ‘It Features in My Book’ Wallpaper, I hadn’t planned to produce a sequel – of sorts; but nosing through my collection of digital photos, I found more that feature locations (from my recollections during childhood) that inspired scenes in this book…

Here is a shot that includes a part of the fictional village of Brambledown…

…which I thought made a nice wallpaper. But whilst I was bending myself to the task, I fiddled with a shot that features a location that is included in a specific scene from the book, which I present here as an extract. The locale has changed considerably since the sixties (the period from which I drew my imagery); but the general lie of the land remains pretty much as it was. The sunken lane highlighted here, featured in the first post.

An extract from Silent Apocalypse…

Since I was not present, the following part of this narrative must be second hand. It was related to me at a later date.

Night had fallen. Four teenaged girls, one of whom was Katherine Kingsbury – sister to Tom, and school friend of mine – huddled together in a thicket that grew upon the hillside that overlooked the village. They’d been abducted during the Wiltshire Rifles’ first foray into Brambledown. They rejoiced in the fact that they’d not been joined by others, but were greatly concerned about the villager’s welfare. As of yet they were unhurt and unsullied. None of them imagined the situation would remain that way forever. Katherine, bound at hand and foot, stared at the one young Rifleman left to guard them. What she hoped to accomplish she didn’t know, but if it made him feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable, then it was worth the effort. And she was pretty certain she was having some effect. Eventually he turned angrily toward her.

“Will you stop that?” He snapped.

“Will you set me free?” She returned his outburst.

He took a step toward her. “I’ll tell you what I will do…”

“Rifleman!” The voice of the Lance Corporal erupted from the surrounding shadows, “Remain at your post.”

The Rifleman threw Katherine a glance of menace, and resumed his watching of the village through the thicket. He spoke to the Lance Corporal, who had come to check the girl’s condition:

“Any chance of action tonight, Corp?”

The Lance Corporal glanced at the girl’s bonds before returning his attention to the Rifleman. “For you – or the unit in general?”

“Both.”

“No – and yes – in that order.”

The Rifleman’s whining voice betrayed his youth: “Oh, but Corp, I missed out last night too.”

The Lance Corporal was unmoved. “Tough. Shouldn’t be such a prat then, should you? Tell you what: next time we need a complete louse-up, we’ll call for you. Now shut up and keep your eyes peeled.”

“Thanks very much.” The Rifleman managed. “So we’re going in again tonight?”

The Lance Corporal was already departing. “If my plan’s gonna succeed, we have to. We have to keep ‘going in’ until there’s either no womenfolk left in the village, or we’re all dead. Whichever way it turns out, we are not leaving here empty handed. You got that?”

Katherine heard these words, and shuddered.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

As far as I know, this e-book remains available at several outlets, some of which are included on the sidebar via the book cover images, or on the Tooty’s E-Books Available To Buy Here page. And very nice it is too – if you enjoy genocide and disaster.

Don’t Miss Out!

Just in case you didn’t know, but this fabulous e-book…

…is available in PDF form, absolutely free and gratis. Just click the image and the tale will present itself to you, to either read now, or download for when you’re in the mood for a gentle chuckle. You can even show it to your nearest and dearest! It’s quite short too – so you won’t get bored stupid.

The Epoch of Dung (part 24) An Earplug Adventure

THIS IS IT: THE FINAL EPISODE. IT’S A MUST-READ!

Of course, there had only ever been one Hair-Trigger. She had no need to seek out her twin. Instead, she fetched herself a ghastly cup of Café Puke’s finest…

…and wondered what might have happened if she and the boys hadn’t been off world when the temporal catastrophe struck. The vague feeling of dread didn’t last long though: the sound of the first space submarine freighter arriving from far away broke the tableau…

Epilogue

Inevitably, late evening gave way to full night, and before long twelve midnight struck. Hambledon Bohannon took the sound of a chiming bell as his cue. ‘Everybody Slip Your Disco Disk’ boomed out across the Grand Hall abruptly – shattering the growing murmur of congregating earplugs…

Within seconds of Hambledon’s driving rhythm making its presence felt, people began to move with the beat…

Of course, the song was so out-of-date that no one remembered how to Slip Their Disco Disk – so no one got hurt. As the song segued into another classic dance floor boogie…

…any remnants of conversation were despatched. This suited Nature Beast: his conversation was monosyllabic at best.

Rupert Piles did make the mistake of trying to interview Princess Agatha about her discovery of the functioning Tunnel Temporale…

…but when she gave up the unequal battle and instead joined in with the well-known chorus of ‘Gut Churning Music’, so too did Rupert, and contented himself with recording the party for posterity. This was fortunate because he was able to capture the image of Susan, the amorphous green blob from the Age of Stone exhibit (and Chester’s principal love-interest) making her entry into the hall…

She didn’t disappoint.

“Hey, will you look at that.” One of Los Natillas said to the other two, “wouldn’t our show look so much better if we hired her to dance to our Latin rhythm?”

They agreed, but doubted the financial aspect of the deal. “That’s one big stomach.” One of them observed.

“And how would we fit her on the tour bus?” said the other.

Soon Susan was performing what was rapidly becoming her signature dance…

That is – wriggling like an idiot in front of everybody whilst carrying all five Earplug Brothers upon her huge form.

“Ooh, Rudi,” Magnuss moaned, “please ask her to stop: I’m feeling motion sick already.”

“Hey, man,” Rudi joked in reply, “some great hero you make: throwing up on the dance floor!”

And so it continued – deep into the early hours of the next day. Then word got out that the Greenhorn Girls had decided that, instead of standing like wallflowers against the mighty flanks of the Grand Hall, they had agreed to give a kicking line exhibition…

The consensus was, “This I gotta see.”  So, without too much further ado everyone backed off and allowed Margret and her girls to step away from the wall…

From somewhere – no one asked where – Hambledon Bohannon produced a show number track. The rhythm was perfect – as was the lighting – and soon the girls were high kicking across the floor…

Then it was back to disco, and everybody was ‘getting down’…

…except the Angel with a Huge Nose, who was ‘getting up’ by unfurling her wings and flying above the dance floor. This, in turn exposed a facet of the museum’s Avatar that no one was aware of…

She had wings too! So, whilst the Museum of Future Technology bathed itself in the glow of disco lights, and Magnuss and Hair-Trigger donned their jet packs so that they could join Angel and Avatar as they flapped about clumsily above the towers…

…Margret Greenhorn slipped away from the Grand Hall – in search of someone who had long-since disappeared from the celebration. She found her in her beloved arboretum…

“You know, Margret,” Cushions said, as she allowed her gaze to wander across the vast expanse of the museum, “I’d give everything for this place. Without it I am nothing.”

“I know, Cushions.” Margret replied. “And I love you for it. We all do.”

The End

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

There, wasn’t that charming in every way! Better still, you can now read the whole thing on PDF – either on-line, or to download and read at your convenience. Just visit All Earplug Adventures in PDF Format Unexpurgated & Free!

P.S  I know that tale was a bit brief. Certainly shorter than normal. However, the up-side of this is… with this one out of the way, I can now plan the next Earplug Adventure.  Everyone say “Yeah!”

P.P.S Why not click on the e-book cover (below) and become instantly transported to the full PDF version of The Epoch of Dung!

J.B. Chisholm Has Returned!

Following a near three-year hiatus, my favourite on-line author, J.B Chisholm is once more composing fabulous P.G Wodehouse-like tales upon the Internet on the Vasa and Ypres site. The third book in the series is titled The Little Matter of Montreal, and follows directly on from this book…

Visit immediately!

The Epoch of Dung (part 23) An Earplug Adventure

Alone, standing atop her Omnipresent Scanner, Cushions gave silent thanks to the Gods for returning the Earplug Brothers and her other self, safe and intact…

Now, she realised, she would need to show great leadership. She would have to be the first person to reintegrate her two temporal selves. Worse still, she would have to perform the act in public. “Gotta set an example, Cushions.” She whispered to herself. “Otherwise we could have two of everyone wandering about the place, taking up space; getting into arguments about whose turn it is to wash their underwear; and eating me out of house and home.”

Obviously, her twin had drawn the same conclusion. Therefore, before anyone could even try to settle back into the museum, her two selves appeared on TV together…

Crowds began to form around the public television screens…

Throughout the Museum, tension grew as the two Cushions’ moved closer to one another. No one dared breathe whilst the two bodies appeared to coalesce…

However, no sooner had the brief flash of temporal energy subsided, and Cushions, alone, stood before them, then everybody gasped in desperately needed air and cheered with relief…

“Hey,” she shouted above the din, “that wasn’t so bad. Piece of cake. If I could, I would do it again. Now it’s your turn.”

Initially people were sceptical. The pink background against which Cushions had merged made some earplugs wonder if it might be the result of special effects. So, donning their metaphorical ‘hero’ hats again, the Greenhorn Girls stood before the camera of one of the Rupert Piles: took up their dancing positions…

…and high-kicked their way back into their single selves…

…which might have been a mistake, because, during their duality, they had each lived very different lives – with two sets of memories. One in which they had survived a tsunami and lived in the brief Epoch of Dung: the other where they played the role of heroes. This left them all very confused – and it showed in their faces and gait…

Also, for a while afterwards, they appeared to suffer residual after effects…

Nevertheless, an example had been made. Quickly others followed their lead…

Mandy and Candy (times two) chose the Main Thoroughfare to re-join…

The disused roller skate park proved popular with the two Ninja Perkins’, Auntie Doris’s, and K’Planks…

Rupert Piles even filmed himself becoming one again. “Pity,” one of them said to the other, “as a duo we could have covered twice as many stories.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Epoch of Dung (part 22) An Earplug Adventure

However, despite their near miss, fear continued to grip the hearts of the escaping earplugs. There was no guarantee that the time rift would not evaporate – with them still inside it…

It was in this most tense of moments that seven of the Tankerville Norris’ passengers chose to reveal their presence…

“Excuse us,” Margret Greenhorn said, following a discrete cough, “is it alright if we come to see who’s driving this bus?”

Well, of course, it was perfectly alright. In fact, the crew were delighted that such heroic dancers should deign to join them upon the bridge. This was especially true of Miles, who took an instant interest in Belle.

“Hello,” Miles whispered, “my name’s Miles.”

“Oh, hello: I’m Belle, by the way. I thought you might be Chester, but I’m glad you’re not: he’s spoken for. Oh, sorry, am I being a little forward?”

“You be as forward as you like.” Miles said through a smile that was broadening with every passing nanosecond. “I think Belle is a lovely name. Not sure about the Ching, but never mind.”

The conversation would have continued along these lines for as long as both protagonists drew breath, but Magnuss announced that they were free of the time rift, and invited them to watch it’s closure on the main screen.

“Okay, take up your duty stations – it doesn’t matter which one you choose – the ship flies itself – we’re headed for Earth. The real one, that is.”

Chapter 7

It was night in the environs of the Museum of Future Technology…

Its inhabitants waited in their domiciles with bated breath. Very few were active in the vast building’s many corridors. Bilious Botner was an exception…

He had the idea that, because business was quiet, the Café Puke might sell him some croissants at half-price. Both he and a strange female with tall red hair were disappointed when the proprietor told them to, “Sod-off – I’m watching the TV news: the fleet’s due back: I don’t wanna miss this.”

Of course, in any society, one is always going to find dozy bleeders who don’t follow the news or give a toss about real-world problems. In the case of four science-fiction mad youngsters, they were far more interested in the final act of this week’s episode of Destination: The Stars…

Hambledon Bohannon, on the other hand, was planning for later. He had every confidence that the heroes of Earplugdom would return triumphant. He was also certain that they would like nothing more than to ‘get down’ to the disco beat. So already, he was warming up the turntables…

“Yeah,” he mumbled to himself as he ran an eye over his vast repertoire of Disco Hits, Ancient and Modern, “best start with one of my own grooves, I guess. Sho’nuf gotta be ‘Everybody Slip Your Disco Disk’. The popular dance routine that accompanies the record is a bit painful for oldsters and people with an underlying skeletal problem, but I figure it’s worth the risk. What’s more, Nurse Consuela is a practising chiropractor, so that’ll be just fine and dandy if someone collapses on the disco floor in agony, sho’nuf if it aint.”

The heroes for whom Hambledon planned his disco celebration were still far from home. At the controls of the Gravity Whelk, Placebo Bison had noticed a certain degree of sluggishness when adjusting course…

“Hey, Folie,” he said to the co-owner of the old, but wonderful vessel, “Get aft, will you? Check out the ship’s mass balance.”

Folie duly obliged. Initially all seemed well, but when he reached the moving corridor section, the sight of unrestrained passengers greeted his gaze…

“Oh curse these automatic moving corridors,” he wailed, “they really are of doubtful use. They’ve brought everybody together in one place. The ship is unbalanced: anything could happen. And who hung that stupid sign up in my bulkhead access tunnel?”

The situation was little better aboard the Chi-Z-Sox. Several passengers, including Mister Pong, had grown weary of their dreary cabin walls and ventured into parts of the ship from which they’d been barred – including the bridge…

The K T Woo crew were suffering similar hardship…

“Honestly,” the Engineering Crew Manager, a former End Cap Hyperspace Pirate who had been taken prisoner during the failed invasion of the museum several years previous, complained when his engine room was ‘invaded’ by rubberneckers, “I can barely hear myself think. What if the Captain calls and instructs me to make a sudden swerve to avoid an asteroid? I’ll tell you, shall I? I won’t make that swerve, and you’ll all die of vacuum inhalation when the hull breaches.”

The four pink former monks of Lemon Stone didn’t believe a word the End Cap said. Crew-plug, Gusi Ghandar stood at the back and smiled faintly. He knew it was nonsense too. “You can’t breathe vacuum,” he said quietly. “Vacuum is the absence of anything. Or am I being pedantic?”

There were no such problems aboard the much smaller Tankerville Norris

Everyone had chosen a role to play, so boredom never reared its ugly head.

“Ah-ha,” Magnuss called out to gain everyone’s attention, “looks like the good old Solar System’s dead ahead and coming up quickly.”

Inside the Museum of Future Technology, gigantic screens displayed the fleet, as it approached the planet…

“Hoorah,” Auntie Doris cried out to K’Plank the Space Wanderer, “the boys are nearly home. I can’t wait to give that Magnuss a big hug.”

If there had been a race to see who could land first, Folie and Placebo would have been the winners. As the Tankerville Norris made its final approach, Hair-Trigger noted the other ship settling upon a landing tower…

“Don’t care.” Magnuss responded. “I don’t like that tower anyway: the elevator doesn’t work properly. It goes up and down too quickly, and makes me feel sick.”

Meanwhile, down in the depths below the museum, the Earplug Brother’s cousins, Clancy, Brad, and Gilbatross, finally received the news that the world wasn’t ending. They cheered uproariously as they emerged into the light…

Well Clancy did: Brad was a bit annoyed that he’d let the family down by running and hiding when everyone else did what they could in the circumstances.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Surprise Package

Regardez vous the montage below…

Notice anything unusual about it? Yeah – a dearth of earplugs. Could this suggest an Earplug Adventure without earplugs? Well, no actually: without earplugs it wouldn’t be an Earplug Adventure. But, as you can see, the planned follow-up to The Epoch of Dung will include Nigel – The Golden One – and several Ethernet Cable End inhabitants of Scroton. The development of this story – even before the final episodes of The Epoch of Dung are posted on-line (which usually coincides with cerebral somnolence from the  author, following a prolonged period of creativity, hurried camera clicking, and manic typing) was kick-started by the appearence of this little artistic ditty…

Tooty asked himself – who are these guys? Does that have to be London in flames? Could the event depicted therein be twisted slightly and turned to good use in an Earplug Adventure?  Could that smoking ruin be Ciudad de Droxford – the closest city to the Museum of Future Technology instead? Might it’s destruction be a warning or threat to Cushions Smethwyke and the other curators of the museum? An idea began to form. How could (long-term ally of the MoFT) Scroton be involved with the situation? What if Nigel – The Golden One – decided to make a surprise visit to the museum…

…and found it entirely empty? Well discover what might happen, should these events conspire to tell a tale, dear Earplugger, by salivating over these hints of the next story – Surprise Visit!

P.S And, oh look, I’ve already begun snapping pictures: we can’t have them go to waste, can we!

 

The Epoch of Dung (part 21) An Earplug Adventure

Indeed she did. Already, those who were yet to be carried to the orbiting ships via matter transmission were boarding landing tenders…

 

Bert Frogget and young female earplug, who had only been visiting the museum on a half-day pass, paused to regard a vast plugmutt poo.

“I won’t miss those.” She said whilst recalling the number of doo-doos she had earned her three meals a day converting into building materials.

Bert said nothing, but he felt confident that, for the following couple of months, he would suffer terrible night terrors about them.

Only when a sensor sweep confirmed that the evacuation of everybody from the ruin of the Museum of Future Technology was complete did Magnuss host a video conference with the other ship captains…

The conversation could only be about one subject: making sure that ‘their’ museum survived the approaching reconnection with the normal time-line.

“Well we have the garbled suggestion from the Time Techs.” Placebo aboard the Gravity Whelk opened. “Have we figured what they’re trying to tell us?”

Sinclair Brooch spoke next: “Well them Greenhorn gals sure are pretty, but they aint tech-savvy. They only brought back half what them Time Techs told ‘em. My guys figure they mean to blow the hell outta this planet: they just can’t figure out how. My proton torpedoes sure aint up to the task.”

“I believe I have the answer,” the brainiest earplug included in the discussion spoke up. “My charming and intelligent wife and I have spent considerable mental energy in deep thought. We believe that the planet’s magnetic iron core is the answer to the problem. Put simply, we must tear it apart. The planet will surely follow.”

Magnuss, ever quick on the uptake, said, “You’re talking Gravitonic Multiplicitor time again, aren’t you?”

“I am indeed, young, heroic earplug.” Hydious Gout replied. “It will almost certainly destroy your apparatus, but Putridity has calculated that a sustained burst from both your vessel and the Gravity Whelk, should be enough to provide the magnetic imbalance necessary to disable the core and make it go all wobbly and explode outwards. Magma will abound, believe me.”

Magnuss had no way of knowing whether they had days in which to act, or mere seconds; so he chose the safest path and assumed the worst. Ending the conference, he and Hair-Trigger made straight for their Gravitonic Multiplicitor…

“It’ll be a shame to see it go up in smoke.” Magnuss said as he ran inexpert eyes over the potentially uber-destructive device. “Does it look in working order?”

Hair-Trigger probably knew even less about Gravitonic Multiplicitor maintenance than Magnuss. She shrugged. “It seems to have survived the opening of the time rift. It should work. Of course, while the time rift remains open, we won’t need it to open another, so I guess wrecking it won’t really matter.”

Unseen by either earplug, Magnuss’ brothers had slipped into the room…

Rudi reminded them that whatever happened to the ship and themselves, the destruction of the alternative Earth was their first priority.

“Hey,” he concluded, “even if this ship blows up, and the wormhole collapses – leaving everyone stranded in this time-line – we gotta save the Museum of Future Technology. It’s what we do, guys.

Chester, Miles, and Valentine nodded in agreement.

“Right on.” Valentine added for good measure.

“Okay,” Magnuss replied. “Adopt the position, whatever that means. Contact the Whelk: there’s no time to use that lovely clean toilet over there: let’s do this!”  

Moments later, after a sensor scan by the K T Woo found a weak spot in the planet’s magnetic field, the Tankerville Norris and Gravity Whelk moved to a location that placed them above the southern hemisphere. There was no spectacular countdown. As soon as both ships had aligned their Gravitonic Multiplicitor emitters, they let rip with one hundred percent energy release – or Number Eleven on the twist dial…  

The surface of the ruined world succumbed in an instant…

Minutes dragged by. Only the K T Woo’s sensors could detect the disturbances in the planet’s core…

Superheated flows of inner planetary material …um…flowed… freely around the equator and from pole to pole. It was just a matter of time before one of them broke through to the surface…

Great rends, vast enough to swallow the museum whole, opened across the globe, causing continent-wide rivers of magma to spread across the darkened landscape…

As the Gravitonic Multiplicitors strained to maintain their gravimetric toil, the surface of the land melted and bubbled like a really hot lasagne…

…spitting magma high into the air. Then the toughest bedrock cracked open…

…and everyone that dared watch could see that the end was near. But which would go first – the planet – or the time-line? They held their breath. Shortly an expanding ball of molten material consumed the atmosphere…

“Ooh, bugger.” Magnuss exclaimed. Into his radio, he screamed, “Woo and Sox – you’ve got the most passengers: get the heck outta here.”

Then, with their Gravitonic Multiplicitors reduced to expensive junk, the Gravity Whelk and Tankerville Norris broke for open space – headed for the time rift. And not a moment too soon either. As they accelerated towards freedom, the alternative Earth exploded like a mini-nova…

Placebo and Folie watched it on their rear camera…

“Pretty.” Folie observed. “And it’s made our screen go all wonky too. We’ll have to get that fixed.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

P.S I’ve been hanging on to these pictures of planetary destruction for yonks. I knew I would need them eventually. I do like a dose of planetary destruction you know.

The Epoch of Dung (part 20) An Earplug Adventure

When the news reached the Museum of Future Technology’s Avatar, whom had taken overall control of the defence of the mighty edifice…

…concern was evident. Well some concern: it’s doubtful that Auntie Doris and Cheerful Charlie Chopsticks fully comprehended what they were hearing and seeing.

“But what if it’s this time-line that’s destroyed?” The fabulous artificial lifeform wailed. “There will be no survivors anywhere!”

Montagu was more practical. “Their time on that lifeless planet is numbered in months alone. Soon the plugmutts will starve and produce no effluent. Building material and fuel will quickly dwindle. The end will be slow, inexorable, and certain.”

“Well, if you put it that way,” the Avatar’s mood lightened at this, “I guess we shouldn’t go beating ourselves up about it. But, it would be nice to know the identity of the time-line that will cease to exist, don’t you think? Some way to make certain that it’s this one that survives.”

Well, as chance would have it, the Time Techs (in the hope of gaining the approval of Cushions Smethwyke, and therefore earning their very own lavatory) had been working on the subject. They now approached the foyer in which the Avatar had emerged from the structure of the building itself…

As they entered, Gregor spoke out…

“Good news, Avatar, acolytes, hangers-on, and brown-noses.” He said. “We may have the answer to the museum’s most telling problem.”

Joining the group…

…all three Time Techs took their turn explaining their theory that should – in theory – prevent the currently-existing Museum of Future Technology from experiencing non-existence…

“Wow, aint that something!” Cheerful Charlie Chopsticks…err…cheered, after they had finished, “We gotta let the guys over there know about this. This is real hotdog with chilli sauce!”

The Avatar couldn’t argue with Cheerful Charlie’s assessment of the situation. As a result, an info transmission by foghorn along the Tubo Di Tempo, reached the Greenhorn Girls, who heard it and quickly departed so that they might pass it on to those who might use it best…

“Can we remember all the facts?” A worried Margret asked the others. “It’s a long way back. We might forget something important.”

“Nah, don’t worry.” Wendy said as she strode beside her boss. “They’ll get the gist of it. That Hydious Gout guy has a brain the size of my bottom; he’ll work it out, even if we take just half of what he heard back to him.”

Belle didn’t mind either way;  she was enjoying the simple act of watching their shadows bobble attractively in the flickering, staccato light thrown  by the Tubo Di Tempo as it powered down.

Of course, once Hydious and everyone that matters heard this, a conference quickly convened…

“It’s a no-brainer – with apologies to the Professor, who is all brain.” Cushions bellowed. “I say let’s go for it. Let’s evacuate. And I don’t mean our bowels!”

Shortly, taking what meagre possessions they had managed to pull from the ruins of the museum, the populace of the mud village began to abandon their homes and handiwork…

Some did pause in their flight to regard the quality of the artisanship included in some of the better-made walls and floors…

“Hmmm, very nice.” Former Zombie, Vic, noted. “Someone used a plumb line here – that’s obvious.”

“Good trowel work.” The female biological android behind him observed. “And that solar-powered streetlight is still glowing, despite the leaden skies and dull overcast.”

The museum had always been a busy place, and the regular inhabitants numbered in their hundreds. Therefore, it took a considerable time for everyone to evacuate. Barry Dirtbox, in particular, was having extreme difficulty finding his way out of the village – trapped, as he was, upon his own balcony…

Hair-Trigger had found herself at something of a loose end, so she took herself into the mud village in search of stragglers. Instead, she found the Angel with a Huge Nose. Or perhaps it was the other way around…

“Hair-Trigger,” the previous love interest of Magnuss Earplug said to the current one, “I sense someone’s distress. I’m very busy doing angelic stuff: would you go into the oldest part of the village and seek out some lost soul that, I’m certain, is calling out for help – if not physically, then spiritually?”

Hair-Trigger didn’t need persuading. She was gone in an instant…

Cocking an attractive ear, she listened intently. Silence greeted her tympanic membrane. Moving on, she decided to switch tactics, and use her olfactory senses…

For a moment she felt overwhelmed by the multitude of pongs – both natural and…well only natural actually. There was nothing artificial to smell. Nevertheless, one stench alone stood apart and above all others. It was the smell of fear. The fear of enclosure. She knew it well. Claustrophobia. Someone was locked in and couldn’t get out. So rounding the very next corner, she discovered a public lavatory. Smashing the door in like the professional kick-boxer she had once been, Hair-Trigger uncovered a rather annoyed female End Cap…

“Thank flip for that.” The End Cap said. “Whoever fitted this bloody door didn’t allow for swelling in a moist atmosphere. If I find the builder responsible…well I won’t be responsible for my actions. Thank you, by the way. Ooh, you’re Hair-Trigger Earplug, nee Provost. Wow, what an honour: can I have your autograph?”

  “Not right now.” Hair-Trigger replied with a smile, “You have a space ship to catch.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

More appalling modelwork on display here; but it’s all part of the story’s charm – don’t you think?

The Epoch of Dung (part 19) An Earplug Adventure

As they plunged into the cauldron of impossible energies…

…Doctor Putridity Gout said to her husband, “I know this is fun and all that, dearest; but would you might awfully if I went to the toilet? I don’t want to embarrass myself.”

If truth be known, several bridge crewmembers felt much the same way.

“Oh, of course, darling.” Hydious replied. However, to the bridge crew he said, “You lot can use the polystyrene cups provided in those little cubby holes beside your work stations. As ship designers, my wife and I think of everything, you know.”

No one had the first idea how long the transit between time-lines would take. They assumed it would be measurable on an earplug scale. It wasn’t. Only an incomprehensibly brief period elapsed before the Tankerville Norris found itself approaching the alternative Earth…

“Just getting the main screen back up.” Hair-Trigger informed Magnuss.

“No probs.” Her relatively new husband replied. “I’ve opened an exterior shutter. I can see our target through the side window. It looks very blue. Not the usual blue either. I don’t like the look of that.”

He barely had sufficient time to reseat himself, when the main screen readjusted itself for the alternative time-line, and came back on-line.  What it displayed caused havoc inside the psyches of the earplugs who looked at it…

“Ugh, where’s the surface of the Earth?” Magnuss asked. “The ruins of the museum are over to the left; but the neighbouring city of Ciudad de Droxford should be just there. All I can see is a huge plain with some distant, worn-down mountains…

Aboard the larger, better-equipped K T Woo, Hamish McHaggis had turned the ship’s sensitive sensors upon the scene…

“Oh-oh,” he reported to Sinclair Brooch, “it seems that, with the exception of the ruins and mud village, the Earth is both uninhabited and uninhabitable, captain.”

To which Sinclair responded, “Oh bum.” Before adding, “Hey maybe the other captains have a handle on this. Get on the horn: let’s jaw.”

Meanwhile several inhabitants of the mud village thought they heard something ‘funny’ and had decided to see what was going on outside…

“It’s a spaceship.” They cried as one. “As if being disconnected from the river of time and seeing our beloved museum torn to shreds isn’t enough; now we’re being invaded from outer space! Everyone back inside.”

Of course, they weren’t being invaded at all. Soon many curtains twitched nervously as the Tankerville Norris kicked up dust, straw, mould spores, and stray sequins as it landed in the village’s largest plaza…

Shortly after that, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger stepped out into the village. Following a brief journey via matter transmitter, Hydious Gout and Sinclair Brooch joined them. Using their innate sense of direction, the foursome proceeded along a poorly lit alleyway…

To their surprise, they heard the voice of Cushions Smethwyke beckoning them into a mud hut…

They were not as surprised however, when upon entering the mud hut, they found familiar faces awaiting them…

“Wow, this is weird.” Magnuss said. “Hi everyone.”

To which Cushions responded with, “Hi yourself. Have you come to save us? Or are you alternative time-liners, like us – trapped here until reconnection with the river of time and possible utter destruction?”

Hydious Gout assured the watching curators and Rupert Piles (sans camera) that his plan was to take them all back to their correct time-line aboard the four ships, where they would reintegrate with their alternative selves.

“It will all be perfectly safe and painless.” He assured them further. “You won’t be mutually repulsive. You won’t fly across the room or explode or anything ghastly like that.”

“Will we remember this life?” the biological android, Montagu inquired. “This horror?”

“Probably.” Hydious replied. “You’ll probably feel a little disoriented. You’ll have two sets of memories. It will leave you a bit confused, and you might suffer a headache or a sore throat for a couple of weeks; but nothing discombobulating – at least not permanently.”

“Oh, right.” Yabu said to Cushions, “we’d better get our set of Time Techs to fire up the restored Tubo Di Tempo, and then have Margret and the girls make a report to the proper time-line via carrier wave.”

So they did…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

P.S I can’t get over how realistic that mud village looks. You can almost smell the straw and dung. Oh, sorry, I mean the opposite. That has to be the worst model-making effort in the history of earplug literature! Never mind though; back in the 70’s, Dr Who used to look terrible; but that didn’t stop millions from loving it.

The Epoch of Dung (part 18) An Earplug Adventure

Mars, meanwhile, witnessed the arrival of the Tankerville Norris in its sky…

As the former honeymoon barge swept across the terraformed wilderness, the Future Museum of Mars curator, Frisby Mumph stood beside his huge cork assistant, William of Porridge, and watched whilst the Earplug Brothers were plucked from the surface via matter transmitter…

He sighed. “Now what are we going to do with that hover scout vehicle they drove over there in?” He complained. “I suppose I’m going to have to walk all that distance, on my aging feet, to fetch it back to the museum.”

William nodded, but failed to volunteer himself for the task. Then he had a thought: “Hey, Frisby, they’ve left their space submarine freighter behind. That’s salvage now. We could have it. Perhaps Lillie and I might have a nice weekend away in it.”

Aboard the Tankerville Norris, the light of four transporting earplugs illuminated the rear of the bridge…

Although they still glowed with residual radiation and Martian detritus, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger didn’t hesitate to leap from their seats and welcome Chester, Miles, Valentine, and Rudi aboard…

“Hey, what a groove.” Valentine spoke calmly, as if being snatched from the surface of a planet and deposited aboard a star ship was an everyday occurrence, “I was just examining a Martian tuba for infestation by terrestrial bugs and stuff, when, zap, I was here with my little bro. What’s going down, man?”

Magnuss explained the situation. As eldest brother, Rudi formally volunteered the family for action. “We’re in. So what are we gonna do, Magnuss?” He asked.

“Not sure.” Magnuss replied. “But look outside: we’ve reached the Moon, and it looks like the Gravity Whelk is waiting for us…

Hair-Trigger had only just made contact with Folie and Placebo aboard the Gravity Whelk, when, simultaneously, the huge star ships, Chi-Z-Sox and K T Woo arrived from hyperspace…

“Ooh, the big boys have arrived.” Hair-Trigger said admiringly. “I figure the space / time continuum is about to get its ass kicked.”

Professor Hydious Gout dispensed with preamble. “Gentlemen and lady of the Tankerville Norris and Gravity Whelk,” he announced over the com-system, “prepare your Gravitonic Multiplicitors. Point them at the coordinates that my charming and intelligent wife is transmitting to you whilst I speak; turn them up to max; and let rip.”

Folie was only too happy to oblige. Their very recent refit included an upgraded Gravitonic Multiplicitor that didn’t need disassembly and placement in space, remote from the ship.

“We’re on it, Hyd.” He responded.

Hair-Trigger was a little more circumspect. “Aligning our Gravitonic Multiplicitor with your coordinates now.” She replied.

A moment later…

…space/time took a battering it wouldn’t forget – even if it lasted for eternity. The resultant rip in the fabric of reality became visible from any point in the Solar System. Well the bits of it that pointed in the right direction could anyway. These included the view screen of the Gravity Whelk

Placebo noted that the Tankerville Norris had pulled slightly ahead of the Gravity Whelk. “You seem keen to take point, Magnuss” he said into his radio, “why don’t you show us the way.”

This was an invitation that Hair-Trigger, Magnuss, or his courageous brothers couldn’t resist. In a moment to savour, all four of the spacecraft launched themselves at the opening in space/time…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Ah, so the ‘A’ Team’s on the case, eh? Looking good for the doppelgangers, methinks. If anyone can thwart the efforts of entropy, it’ll be that bunch of silicon heroes.

The Epoch of Dung (part 17) An Earplug Adventure

The following episode could be titled ‘Earplugs Assemble’.

Yes, Earpluggers, some ‘big names’ are about to appear. See how many you can remember from earlier tales. All of them. I expect.

Chapter 6

At that moment, but in the regular space / time continuum, the Wetworld star ship – Chi-Z-Sox hung motionless in the depths of interstellar space…

Its captain – noted scientist of Wetworld, and designer of the Chi-Z-Sox, Professor Hydious Gout sat in the captain’s chair, with his wife (and co-designer) Doctor Putridity Gout beside him…

Despite cosmic interference, Cushions Smethwyke and several Museum of Future Technology curators appeared aboard the Omnipresent Scanner upon the ship’s main viewer. Cushions wasted no time getting straight to the point. It was a pre-recorded message that summed up the situation of Earth in as few words as possible. It also instructed all vessels to return to Earth with utmost haste.

At the same time, but on the Ice Planet, the Tankerville Norris was conducting a low-level sweep with the ship’s sensors…

Thereafter the occupants – Magnuss and Hair-Trigger Earplug, dismissed all thoughts and concerns for the underbelly of the planet’s crust…

…as they too received the message.

“Flipping heck,” Hair-Trigger yelled as the ship altered course for open space automatically, “I didn’t expect that.”

“Me neither.” Magnuss agreed. “Let’s get to Mars: I want to pick up the boys.”

Hair-Trigger was out of her space seat like a scalding tea bag…

“If we’re having guests,” she called over her shoulder as she strode towards the door, “I’m going to clean the toilet before they come aboard.”

Much farther away in space, The Gravity Whelk hung motionless in a Scrotonite space station – transportation umbilical conduits attached at several access points…

Placebo Bison and Folie Krimp had just received confirmation that their systems upgrade was complete…

…when Cushions’ message arrived…

“Right then.” Folie said. “We’d better ask for permission to detach the umbilicals. Time waits for no earplug.”

“Or polystyrene blob.” Placebo added.

The K T Woo, Worstworld’s first star ship…

…was taking the scenic route home when Cushion’s message arrived…

The captain – former Sheriff of Busted Gut, Sinclair Brooch, was nonplussed…

“Oh dear, that sure is unexpected.” He sighed. “Guess that’s our sight-seeing done with.” Then, to his helms-plug, Busti Missenthrope, he said, “Put a call through to the engine room: tell ‘em to pile on the coals. Set course for Earth.”

In the K T Woo’s engine room, the End Cap engineers went straight to work…

“I wasn’t enjoying the sight-seeing anyway.” One of them complained. “My cabin’s got the smallest porthole in the whole ship – and it’s set really high upon the wall. I have to use a stepladder and cardboard periscope to see out.”

“That’s nothing.” Another replied. “My toilet hasn’t worked for weeks.”

Listening absentmindedly, the earplug getting a coffee from the Café Puke machine said, “You’re an engineer: why don’t you fix it?”

To which the aggrieved End Cap replied, “Below my paid grade, pal. I don’t fix toilets. I got my pride, ya know.”

Moments later, the ship was underway – at supra light speed…

Whilst the Gravity Whelk debarked from the space station…

…the Tankerville Norris was hammering through a hyperspace conduit…

 …on its way to a rendezvous with Magnuss’ four heroic brothers.

Professor Hydious Gout, meanwhile, had received a second communication from the Museum of Future Technology…

It came from none other than the Time Techs themselves…

Gregor was, perhaps, a tad overly familiar:

“Hydious, baby, how’s it hangin’, man?”

Professor Gout would have preferred the Time Techs behave with a little more reverence. “Fine,” he snapped, “What do want? I’ve already got the throttles wide open: I can’t go any faster.”

“No – no, it’s nothing like that.” Twinkles assured the captain of the Chi-Z-Sox.

“We’ve thought of something really important.” Runt added. “You being a brilliant scientist and all that, we figured we might run it past you.”

“That’s right.” Gregor continued. “You’re the earplug, right? It’s about accessing the alternate time-line that Cushions mentioned in her communique earlier.”

Gout smiled at this. “I think I might be ahead of you, young earplug.” He said to the image of Gregor Koch. “My charming and intelligent wife and I were just in the lavatory. We discussed this very subject.”

“Gravity waves, right?” Twinkles ventured.

“Gravity waves, indeed.” Gout confirmed the middle Time Tech’s hypothesis.

“Really intense ones.” Doctor Putridity Gout interjected.

“Very precisely aimed.” Runt joined in.

It appeared that all five scientists were in accord, so whilst the Chi-Z-Sox barrelled through the vacuum of space…

…they lay their fledgling plan upon the metaphorical table.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

P.S Whatta ya think of the ‘landscape’ in the picture of the Tankerville Norris over the Ice World surface? Convincing, right? Okay, I agree, it does look like what it is: my bedsheet.

P.P.S I use the text-to-speech app, ReadAloud for finding typos that I missed. Unfortunately it pronounces the Chi-Z-Sox as Chy Zed Sox, when, of course, it should say Chee Zee Sox. Just thought you should know.

P.P.P.S Ah, I finally get to use that Earplug Wallpaper of the Gravity Whelk disembarking from the space station. Nice shot.

The Epoch of Dung (part 16) An Earplug Adventure

It was later, after dusk was a mere memory that an exhausted Gobby stumbled from his abode…

A single streetlight, burning plugmutt piddle for fuel, illuminated him. He sent a silent plea into the evening sky. Elsewhere in the village, Rupert Piles was doing much the same…

However, his concern was immediate. Incredibly, his camera’s energy levels had dwindled and run down. Despite the presence of the working Nul-Space generator, the power was failing. It didn’t take a genius to work out that the generator could not produce the power from Nul-Space, because there was no Nul-Space to draw it from. Clearly, their time-line was on the brink of non-existence. Re-integration with the River of Time was imminent. However, he kept the information to himself: it had been a great show, and he wanted people to go to bed happy.

“Arse!” He said quietly to the increasing darkness.

The Angel with a Huge Nose – being an angel, of course – may have understood that their time was drawing near. Perhaps it was, as an act of desperation, which made her take the former weightlifters, Mandy and Candy, with their boyfriends – former zombies, Vic and Bob – up onto the roof of the mud village…

…to perform in the only way they could. However, instead of the spectacular three-dimensional farts for which the quartet had become famous, they produced just one. But, incredibly, it was invisible. More significantly, it was silent and deadly. When it struck Gobby, as he stood in the dregs of the day…

…he reacted against the foul smell to end all foul smells by sending it back in time by fifteen minutes. Moreover, it was then that the earplug presence in the fractured time-line finally became noticed…

…by the Tiny Pixelated Gods of Scurrying Things, who passed on the information to…

…the God of Red-Faced Fish. The God of Red-Faced Fish knew very little about earplugs, so it passed the recording of the show to the God of Water Butts and Sundry Liquid Containers…

This God was a high-level dude in the realm of the Supreme Being. Noting that time was tight, it reacted instantaneously. The Supreme Being was in the act of enjoying a warm bath…

It was only a shallow bath, but it was very nice and steamy. It was a rare moment of bliss for the hard-working creator of everything silicon. But his moment of reverie was broken suddenly, when he became aware that he was not alone…

In an instant, the steam evaporated, and all the water’s heat went with it.

“What the heck?” He began.

Then he recognised the eight figures standing before him…

Ninja, in particular, was giving him the ‘evil eye’. “Earplugs.” She said. “Just in case you’re wondering.”

The Supreme Being became enraged…

 “How dare you!” He roared so loudly that Margret feared she might develop tinnitus. “This is a shallow bath: there are insufficient bubbles in the water to hide my willy. It is outrageous that eight female earplugs should see my doo-dads without my permission. It’s not like you’re nurses or anything like that: you’re dancers, for flip’s sake!”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake.” Ninja growled…

…”do you really believe we’d be here if we wanted to? No, we’d like to be going about our business being earplugs in the regular space / time continuum. We’re here because we need your help. And you owe us – that’s earplugs in general, by the way. Do you recall how the false SB tossed you in a big wooden crate…?

…and had you bound and gagged?

That is until the Earplug Brothers freed you and helped you defeat the false Supreme Being?”

Margret didn’t wait for an answer: like her dancing girls, she had assumed that the question was rhetorical. “We’re the female equivalent of the Earplug Brothers, S B. This time we need your help. Savvy?”

As is the way of Gods, the Supreme Being had no need of a towel. In no time at all he was dry and clothed. He also held Ninja Perkins in the palm of his hand…

“Of course. Of course.” He said – all anger abated. “I always have time for my most accomplished creations. What ails thee, Ninja Perkins?”

Ninja looked back at the Supreme Being…

“Well,” she said, “I’d always wanted to be a dancer; but that seems rather pathetic now. I’m giving up on that. No, what I really need from you is…”

However, the Supreme Being had read her mind. “The Ion Storm in the Solar System is quenched.” He said. “Now it’s up to your kind to save the day. I know you can do it. Bye Ninja, Margret, Poki, Ragi, Belle, Wendy, Delia and Nokaks: have a happy existence.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

P.S If it hadn’t been the for the timely placement of my hand upon the bath grabrail, it would have been more than the Greenhorn Girls who saw the Supreme Being’s willy!

P.P.S have you noticed how much SB has aged since he first appeared in the Earplug Adventures. I have no explanation for this. Curious.

P.P.P.S That bloody yellow t-shirt again. It must be SB’s favourite colour!

The Epoch of Dung (part 15) An Earplug Adventure

Fortunately, for the following dance, someone had found a large piece of green stained glass, which he or she then placed in front of the lantern that lit the plaza…

The timing was perfect, because Belle took the central role in what Margret called her ‘Nut Jobs in the Wood’ dance. She’d even designed the hazelnut hats they wore, and was understandably proud of her work.

A pseudo-waltz then took centre stage…

…with Margret, Belle, and Poki swirling around the plaza in the only flouncy dresses they had managed to bring with them through the Tubo Di Tempo. It was an artistic delight, and everyone who saw it knew they would probably never forget this moment of perfect earplug elegance. Some even sobbed with joy at the beauty of the spectacle.

Of course, with his camera fully powered by an internal Nul-Space generator, Rupert Piles captured every moment and movement of the show…

For a pastoral routine, and in the absence of the maypole, the girls chose, instead, to dance around an enormous poop…

However, the fumes given off by the extreme excrement…

…meant that Margret had to abbreviate the routine before they collapsed. Fortunately, a few gulps of cool evening air soon had the girl’s wits reunited with their feet, and it was on to the show-stopping Kicking Line that showgirls, the world over, are most famous for…

Then it was over. Done. Finished. The curtain, had there been one, would have fallen. Cushions came on to calm the frenzied crowd…

She addressed those for whom the show had really been performed.

“Gods,” she said, “did you see that? Did you see what earplugs are capable of? We call out to you, in your weird realm of weirdiness. We beseech you take a bit of bloody notice, you stuck-up gits. Look at what your creations can do. Look at the crap we’re in too. So show yourselves. Take these lovely, leggy dancing girls, and listen to what they have to say. That’s it. Oh, and yeah: help!”

With Nature Beast’s support, Gobby staggered forward…

“I’m doing it.” He groaned. “I’m repeating this show, over and over, at fifteen minute intervals. If the gods don’t see it the first time, they can use the temporal catch up facility.”

“That’s good,” Cushions said as the light of the distant sunset made the plaza glow a pleasant shade of yellow…

…”coz you’re also re-broadcasting Rupert’s televised version as well…

…Surely some higher-order sod’s gonna spot it.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Now, Earpluggers all we can do is sit back and wait for a response. Will one come? Pray that it does: we can’t have those pesky Incence Cones destroy our beloved Earplugs!

The Epoch of Dung (part 14) An Earplug Adventure

Whilst word spread, Margret discovered a broken piece of technology that originated in the ruined museum. It was covered in plop, and smelt nasty too. Nevertheless, she pressed on, and the latent sound technician in the experienced dance troupe owner soon noticed the tonal qualities of the debris…

So she placed her tape player behind it.

“Hmm, what with that wall to bounce the sound off it too,” she said to herself with satisfaction, “the reverb should prove excellent. They’ll probably hear this clean across what remains of the Woven Expanse. ”

As it transpired, the natural amplifier worked better than she’d imagined. Her almost silent words had entered every one of the nearby domiciles – drawing their occupants out to see for themselves what dancing girls looked like…

…on every side of the plaza…

“An earplug cannot live on bread alone,” a droopy moustachioed earplug in dark glasses was heard to yell. “He’s gotta have some entertainment too. Bring on those leggy lovelies.”

Once Margret was satisfied with the quantity of watching earplugs, she and the girls took up their opening positions, whilst Ninja, Yabu, and Cushions introduced them…

Margret was particularly impressed with the way that Ninja fluttered her eyelids, and wondered where she had found the false eyelashes and mascara.

Then the pre-recorded band struck up, and those waiting upon balconies and in upper windows held their collective breath…

Some became so excited that they lost their sense of balance, fell over, and allowed their eyes to bulge from their heads in a vile, leering manner…

Of course, the Curator Elite retained their decorum. In fact, Pretty Boy Plankton looked in the opposite direction completely; and Winston Gloryhole’s eyes only bulged slightly more than was usual…

Unseen by many, Gobby waited in the ‘wings’ to play his part. His friend, Nature Beast stood beside him in support, both spiritually and physically…

Should Gobby’s body fail through the effort of turning back the chronometer of life a multitude of times, Nature Beast would hold him up and give him strength to continue. If his will weakened, Nature Beast was there to give him a good kick in the shins and shout threatening, if incoherent, monosyllables at him loudly.

Then suddenly, just when everyone was on the brink of getting impatient, the girls snapped into action with a dance that Margret named The Runway Wriggle, which showed, in minute detail, their incredible buttock control and the brevity of their sequined knickers…

A tribute to Mariachi bands quickly followed…

…entitled: “Hola, I like your trumpet: why don’t you give me a toot.”

Sadly, Poki developed a nasty cough – probably from breathing in fungus spores that blew around the piles of mouldy straw in darkened corners – that ruined the vocal chorus by removing the alto facet completely.

This was followed by a disgusting clichéd routine that had no place in the modern world, which supposedly represented Old China…

However, no one cared one jot because the girls looked fabulous.

“Who gives a fig anyway?” Cushions whispered to Yabu. “This is our mud village: we’ll be as racially clichéd as we sodding want. Who’s gonna tell us off?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

What – no support act? Who needs support acts when you’ve got the Greenhorn Girls!

The Epoch of Dung (part 13) An Earplug Adventure

Chapter 5

Cushions need not have worried that Margret would fail her. Already she had contacted the chief curator’s doppelganger in the ruined remains of the once-flooded, but now drained arboretum…

“Cushions,” she said, “you are not going to believe the idea I came up with. Several factors led me to it. To a degree, it was the Bozo Brothers burying of their sister and their belief in a higher power. It was also the non-corrupting cup of coffee beneath the spotlight. And, of course, Rupert Piles and his huge three-dee television camera. Combined, these seemingly disparate events and objects…ugh…combined…to inspire me, and draw a fabulous conclusion. In short, I have a plan. It may seem ridiculous, but I think it’s the only chance we have.”

“Ridiculous, you say?” Cushions responded guardedly. “Let me be the judge of that. What’s the plan?”

A half-hour later, the strange being, known as Gobby, was strolling through the mud village with some characters who one could be forgiven for considering odd companions to such a cerebral giant. They were the rough ‘n’ ready and almost monosyllabic Nature Beast: the former substrata-dwelling weirdo, Grey-Vee; and a junior officer with the United Stoats Seventh Cavalry, the name of whom no one could ever remember…

Like his companions, Gobby had been imbibing fermented fruit juice. Consequently, he had taken to singing very rude songs loudly in a pleasant, if slightly nasal falsetto. Nature Beast, Grey-Vee, and the unidentified junior officer were accompanying with harmonic doo-waps and shoobie-doobie-doos. However, all this ceased when Margret led most of her troupe out from a small store shed in which they had being walking through a few routines…

Immediately the unnamed officer’s regulation cavalry hat fell from his inebriated head. Grey-Vee’s Mohican stood on end; and Gobby thought he was seeing things.

“Ugh?” he grunted – the song dismissed and forgotten, “Astonishingly beautiful girls? Wha-wha-what’s happening, man?”

Ignoring the doo-wap trio, Margret addressed Gobby directly. “Gobby,” she said, “I need you desperately.”

This surprised Gobby, and he attempted to straighten a tie that he wasn’t wearing. “Oh, really…ah…jolly good and all that.”

Whilst Margret quickly reassessed her opening gambit; and Poki found herself finding the junior officer rather fetching – as he reattached his hat to the top of his head; and Delia discovered that Nature Beast made her wish she was somewhere else, Grey-Vee was already backing away in search of a boulder or something she could hide behind to have a wee.

“Let me start again.” Margret said. “I have a plan to save the Museum of Future Technology: everyone inside it: and everyone in this alternative time-line too. But I’m going to need your talent for manipulating time.”

Gobby’s inebriation evaporated instantly. “Sod off, you lot.” He said to his singing chums – who acquiesced to his instruction without argument…

He then turned his attention to the girls. “Shoot.” He said.

“We’re going to put on a show.” Margret explained. “A dancing show, with taped music. I’ve got a tape machine in my handbag, with the music from our last show still in it. All we need is some form of sound enhancement. Something to make it louder. But that’s not a problem right now: I’m sure we’ll find something amongst the detritus that can double up as a sound box.”

“A show?” Gobby replied doubtfully. “How very charming. Very entertaining too, I’m sure. But how is this going to help us and the Museum of Future Technology?”

“Yes.” Nokaks squealed with ill-disguised enthusiasm. “We’re going to get someone’s attention. Someone who will sit up and notice us.”

“That’s right,” Ragi joined in, “someone with clout.”

“Someone,” Poki added, “who likes earplugs – probably a lot.”

Gobby understood in an instant. “The Gods.” He yelled. “You are going to try and get the attention of the Gods. Oh, Ladies, that is inspired. What do you want me to do: repeat performances every fifteen minutes?”

“Exactly.” Margret smiled sweetly. “And Rupert Piles’ camera has a Nul-Space generator built-in; so he can transmit in real time to the entire listening universe.”

A short while later Margret found Cushions in the arboretum where someone had found a few slabs of concrete beneath the mud. She couldn’t help but notice that a couple of flowers had bloomed too. Cushions took this as an omen…

“It’s a go.” Margret said as they strolled across the sodden surface.

“Did you have anywhere in mind for the performance?” Cushions inquired.

“There’s a small plaza in the village centre.” Margret answered. “It’s reasonably flat, and the surrounding buildings will amplify my tape player wonderfully. I hope to have the girls ready for a matinee performance. We brought a limited number of costumes with us, but I don’t think people will notice: most of them aren’t looking at the costumes anyway.”

Cushions wasn’t one waste time or prevaricate: only ten minutes had passed before she, Yabu, Ninja, and the Greenhorn Girls entered the village centre plaza and began advertising the forthcoming event by word of mouth…

Ninja’s voice, in particular, was…ugh…particularly strident:

“Come on, you lot,” she bellowed like a Docker on steroids, which, of course her father was, and had trained his daughter well. “Put aside all those wobbly clay pots you’re trying to shape into wine goblets.” She continued. “Cast off the yokes upon your shoulders that support erns of recently squeezed plugmutt milk. And stop trying to stick pointy bits of flint on the ends of sticks – they’ll never make good arrows anyway. In any case, what are you going to shoot them at? Do yourself a favour: come out to see a show. See the beautiful dancing girls, with their powerful thighs and skimpy costumes.”

The others too called out, with voices that quickly grew hoarse. However, slowly faces began to appear outside their hovels…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

What else did you expect a bunch of dancing girls to do? An earplug should always play to its strength.

The Epoch of Dung (part 12) An Earplug Adventure

Shortly Angel was only too pleased to report recent events to Cushions Smethwyke…

“This can’t be coincidence,” Yabu said as he and Cushions were appraised of the situation.

“It can’t?” Cushions questioned the leader of Yabu Youth.

“Well yes, obviously it can; but it’s very unlikely.” Yabu replied. “Funny, don’t you think that just when something goes seriously awry with the Tunnel Temporale, we find a bunch of enemy Incense Cones hiding in the bowels of the museum?”

“When you put it that way, I guess you’re right.” Cushions acknowledged the logic of Yabu’s reasoning. “But how are we gonna find out: they don’t speak our language – and they think like weird aliens!”

“Leave that to me.” Angel said. “Let me remind you that when the museum was attacked by End Caps from Hyperspace, I used my power of illusion upon them. It even worked upon their Attack Robots. I have a plan for this bunch of evil subversives. They are going to tell us everything they know.”

Five minutes later Angel had joined the captives in the museum’s jail. Five minutes and one second later, all six captives had forgotten they’d ever been in a fight, and were safely ensconced inside their hidey-hole. Moreover, their leader – Emperor Conrad Moose – appeared to…uh…appear on their com-panel…

“Right then,” Emperor Conrad Moose’s voice seemed to roar from the tinny speaker grille, “I’ve been very, very busy running my enormous empire, and I’ve kind of, sort of, forgotten why I sent you to the Museum of Future Technology. So I want you to bring me up to speed with my plan and what you’ve been doing whilst I’ve been very, very busy. Oh, and by the way, I’ve decided to learn Earplug really well, so use that language. Use our own language, and I’m gonna get really angry with you. Understand? Right: go.”

The Incense Cone Infiltration and Temporal Dislocation Squad – as they liked to call themselves – were slightly taken aback by this: their emperor usually despised anything related to earplugs, except news of their failures and disasters. To demand they use the cursed language of their enemies confused them: but they rallied quickly…

“Um, where would you like us to start?” The pink Incense Cone inquired.

Major Flaccid, who was providing the voice of Conrad Moose, decided to take a chance: it would be inadvisable to rouse his captive’s suspicions by knowing nothing whatsoever about their mission. “Well obviously I remember the earplug’s horrible Tunnel Temporale is involved: but I can’t quite recall exactly what you’re supposed to do with it. Like I said, I’m a very, very busy emperor.”

This seemed to settle the Incense Cones. It was the turn of the pink Incense Cone to preface his opening line with the word ‘well’. “Well,” he said as he tried to ignore a nagging and implausible ache in his groin, “we travelled the requisite amount of distance in time to this era, where we set off a chain reaction in the Temporal Cascade Equaliser. Coming from a period in which the technology is more advanced than it is in this era, it was easy-peasy to kick-start the troublesome Tunnel Temporale with a remote hyperspace signal. The first the locals knew of it was when the Tunnel burst into life. But then something unexpected happened, and we don’t really know why.”

“We suspect,” the blue Incense Cone, volunteered, “that the activation of the Tunnel Temporale initiated an instantaneous time storm. Rather than destroy the current Museum of Future Technology, as planned, which would then instigate a massive incursion into this portion of space/time, by our gallant assault troops from the future, and the annihilation of any surviving earplug resistance, something else happened.”

Major Flaccid – a keen ‘amateur dramatics’ actor in his spare time – decided to ‘go large’. “What?” He roared. “What?”

Angel inserted a suitable visual representation of Conrad Moose…

This resulted in the exposing of Incense Cone physical characteristics that earplugs were unaware of…

…those being enormous gobs; startled expressions; and nasty odours that erupted from their hindquarters.

 The pale Incense Cone with yellow lips was the first to overcome its shock and horror. “It’s not all bad.” The creature said hurriedly. “We seem to have created a divergent time-line.”

“Explain to me how this is ‘not all bad’.” The Moose/Flaccid apparition demanded.

“When the alternate time-line reintegrates with the flow of time,” The Green-Eyed individual at the end of the line interjected – and therefore hoped to gain some ‘Brownie’ points – “disaster will be invoked. One of the time-lines will be destroyed. We are currently in the process of constructing some advanced devices, of my design, that will guarantee that it’s this time-line that fails to survive re-integration. We’ll poke them down the Tubo Di Tempo as we leave, just before temporal re-integration commences.”

Flaccid gulped at this news. Fortunately, his ‘subjects’ put this down to a case of ‘wind’. “Yeah-yeah,” he mumbled as he tried to collect his wits, “But won’t the accursed earplugs spot the devices and remove them?”

“No probs.” The pale blue Incense Cone – sensing that it was in danger of being a mere spectator in the Emperor’s eyes – said quasi-confidently. “We’re wrapping them in Bags of Invisibility.”

Again, Flaccid found himself caught unawares. This time, however, an involuntary and enormous fart enveloped his entire body, which was serendipitous because it gave his brain the energy it required to think quickly and with precision. “Oh, good. What do they look like? Do the earplug’s Cones of Invisibility interact with them – rendering their contents visible?”

“They look like unused plastic roasting bags.” The grey Incense Cone, who was beginning to feel like a bystander, answered. “Inflated ones, of course, with the little plastic ties pulled tight. We’ve calculated the likelihood of an earplug-built Cone of Invisibility making contact with our Bags of Invisibility, and therefore rendering it visible, as less than one in a million. Don’t worry, Emperor Moose, the earplugs won’t know what hit ‘em. In fact, they won’t even know they’ve been hit. They won’t exist.”

The pink Incense Cone didn’t want to appear to have lost control of the conversation: “Yeah, that’s right.” He said. “We don’t know what the alternate version of the museum is gonna be like exactly; but it aint gonna be pretty. We can clear them out in no time at all – excuse the pun.”

Naturally, Angel took this startling information to Cushions and Yabu…

Cushions quickly shifted mental gears. “Okay,” she said, “I’m not quite sure what we can do with this info, but at least we’ve got the perpetrators under lock and key. Let’s hope Margret Greenhorn and her leggy dancing girls are on the case in the other time-line.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

The Epoch of Dung (part 11) An Earplug Adventure

Part 11 already? Flipping heck, time sure does fly when you’re having fun!

However, they were alien thoughts. Thoughts that Angel simply couldn’t decipher – even if she really concentrated, screwed up her eyes, and pricked her bum with a hatpin. She was able to understand that the Incense Cones were planning – or had planned – something of vast magnitude that placed everyone in the museum in danger: but there were no specifics. If she were to learn anything from these back-door invaders, she would require the services of professional interrogators. To this end, she quickly made her way to a seldom-used com-panel…

…where she placed a call to Major Flaccid in the control room of the TWIT headquarters, Swottan Hetty…

Naturally, Flaccid was in the middle of talking a load of old rubbish very loudly to his troops when the call came through. “Excuse me, guys.” He said as he answered. However, when he finally comprehended some meaning from what Angel told him, all bombast was forgotten. “Follow me.” He snapped as he made for the door. “Prepare to repel boarders!”

Therefore, it was a satisfied Angel who turned away from the com-panel…

“Hmmm, I like this,” she said as she flexed her wings in triumph, “it makes me feel all sexy. I’m going to go disco dancing. I think I still have my old tight spandex pants in that cardboard box under my bed. I certainly hope so. Gonna knock ‘em dead on the dance floor tonight – huh!”

In Swottan Hetty, the laboratory-created TWIT operative, Nature Beast was in the toilet when Flaccid had led his troops from the control room…

“Ugh, where everybody go?” he asked the room as he re-entered. When he received no reply, he grunted again, before adding: “Nature Beast smell nervous sweat on floor. Team going on operation without Nature Beast. Matter not: Nature Beast track scent of scared TWIT boys. Nature Beast reckon gonna be a punch-up.”

Whilst Nature Beast made best speed in pursuit of his comrades-in-arms, Flaccid had used a shortcut to apprehend the Incense Cones before their meeting had broken up…

“Ah-ha,” he bellowed as the Incense Cones turned to face the threat, “got you. Now surrender without a fight and I won’t beat you senseless with a tyre iron during your subsequent interrogation.”

Now it is possible that the invaders had studied Major Flaccid, and as a consequence knew full well that he was nothing more than a big blow-hard who caved whenever anyone stood up to him. However, whatever, these Incense Cones were all too happy to give him a fight. They quickly waded in…

Flaccid was the first to go down. With their leader incapacitated, it would have been forgivable for the TWIT operatives to flee in fear of their lives: but perhaps because they were fighting on home soil, as it were, their pride would not allow them to retreat. They fought back. But not well enough. Three Incense Cones broke through their line…

In a second or five, Flaccid was on his feet again. “After them. After them.” He bellowed through a lip gone sore from a punch in the mouth. “Oh where is Nature Beast when you most need him? Oh curse his recalcitrant bladder!”

Then, as if on cue…

…Nature Beast’s grotesque countenance stole from the shadows…

“Nature Beast here.” He said as a look of delight spread across his aforementioned grotesque countenance.

At this point, the pink leader of the Incense Cones would have done well to hold up his hands and say: “Okay, it’s a fair cop: I surrender.” But he didn’t get the chance. Nature Beast didn’t believe in taking prisoners: he kicked the pink Incense Cone somewhere where it really hurts…

Then he clobbered the others who stood against him with his trusty rubber mallet that he always kept in his waste-band…

“Nature Beast says ‘game over’.” He grunted with satisfaction.

“Well done Nature Beast.” Flaccid said as he slapped his subordinate upon his powerful shoulder.  “I knew I was right when I recruited you. Shows what a damned good leader I am!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

P.S Gosh, aren’t these fight scenes so realistic? It’s almost as if you’re there! Almost.

P.P.S If you enjoyed this episode, you’re really going to like the next one. Lots of exposition: very silly.

The Epoch of Dung (part 10) An Earplug Adventure

Chapter 4

As far away as it is possible to get in the space/time continuum, the ‘regular Museum of Future Technology was cloaked in the semi-darkness of approaching night…

Out on the Wide Blue Yonder, crowds massed for prayers to their particular, if ridiculous deities…

Much wailing and beating of chests occurred. However, inside the building proper, Rupert Piles – i.e. the ‘original’ Rupert Piles – was going about his regular duties: that is recording events for later transmission across all Earplugdom. His reporter’s ‘nose’ told him that the strange time-altering being, known as Gobby, would play an important role in coming events…

Gobby was aware of his presence and told him to go away.

“Freedom of the press, Gobby.” Rupert responded. “You can’t deny me my right to shoot motion pictures of anyone in the Museum of Future Technology. It’s in the constitution.”

“I could send you back in time by fifteen minutes.” Gobby threatened without actually turning around to face the source of his annoyance.

“Same rule applies.” Rupert replied. “In any case, I could always fall back on the Security Suite’s CCTV footage. It would just be a bit grainy – and not in three-dee.”

Whilst this exchange of words was taking place, Angel with a Huge Nose was walking into the Grand Hall beside the curator (and former gangster), Pretty Boy Plankton…

“Hey, Conk,” Pretty Boy said to the being who, long ago, had been mortally injured during an invasion of the museum, but had been resurrected as an angel by the museum’s Avatar, “I aint never learned to read real good: does that sign say ‘toilets’ or ‘tar pits’?”

Angel smiled, as she always did. She was well aware that Pretty Boy was telling a lie: she’d once caught him reading the vast volume War and Peat in the arboretum: he was just trying to make conversation. She was about to admonish him gently with a cuff around the jowls and a poke in the eye, when an apparition appeared before them both…

Pretty Boy’s eyes opened in wonderment, and Angel’s smile widened as the ethereal vision took on form.

“This is higher level stuff.” Pretty Boy said as he beat a quick retreat. “I’m outta here.”

Therefore, it was with Angel alone that the Avatar strolled along the adjacent corridor…

The Avatar was slow coming to the point of her appearance to Angel, but the former regular earplug didn’t mind: she loved being in the company of the higher order being. They chatted of this and that, and Angel fought valiantly to overcome her desire to gaze upon the beauteous face of Avatar.

“Yes,” she said, in a slightly whimsical manner, “cornflakes really are tasty, aren’t they.” 

But, then – her mind apparently made up – Avatar stopped walking. Naturally, Angel did likewise…

“What is it? What is it?” She said eagerly.

The perpetual smile upon Avatar’s face slipped ever so slightly. “I’ve become aware of a presence in the museum.” She told Angel. “Sensors cannot find anything that shouldn’t be here; but I ‘feel’ something. Angel, you must use your huge nose to seek out the interloper. This could be of the greatest import. Take care. Don’t fail me.”

With that, a blue glow suffused the immediate area…

…and the Avatar reintegrated with the museum’s structure.

Angel didn’t waste a second. She set her nasal sensors to ‘delicate’, and proceeded along the corridor at a considerable rate of knots…

“What’s wrong with the Angel with a Huge Nose?” people would ask each other as she raced towards and intersection that would take her to an area of the museum that had yet to be fully utilised…

…”did someone slip a tarantula into her underwear?”

Of course, Angel heard nothing of this, and even if she had, she wouldn’t have paused to refute their ideas. For her, time was of the essence. Soon she was barrelling along darkened and deserted back alleys that seldom heard footfalls…

Her nose had detected something. Something she could not recognise. Something that did not belong in the Museum of Future Technology. However, as she entered a region that enjoyed a pleasing deep suffuse blue she slowed…

Cocking an ear, she thought she could discern the indistinct sounds of voices. So, creeping forward quietly…

…she discovered an interior window that allowed a difficult view of an adjacent compartment. Moreover, when she managed to clamber into a position where she could see over the lip of the frame…

…she was astonished to discover several Incense Cones in conversation. Well, obviously she couldn’t believe her eyes. It was impossible that members of a species that had sworn to become the enemies of Earplugdom could have entered the facility by regular means. She surmised that they could only have arrived here by clandestine or nefarious means. Clearly, they were up to no good. So, for the first time since she had proven to her would-be beau – (the youthful) Magnuss Earplug – that she was no longer an earplug and could not love him, she unfurled her wings; rose from the floor in silent flight…

…watched intently and listened to their unintelligible words and unguarded thoughts…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

The Epoch of Dung (part 9) An Earplug Adventure

 

Shortly after beating a hasty retreat from the company of the confused sewage workers, Margret had the misfortune of stumbling into the plugmutt pen…

“Oh goodie,” the matriarchal leader of the pack cried out with glee, using her rudimentary speech capability, “an earplug: it must be din-dins time!”

In a nearby facility, which had an inexpertly sawn door, and might have been a public lavatory…

…the actor, Bert Frogget, and his friend Cyrus Buttcleft, overheard manic screaming, so rushed into the open air – just in time to witness Margret flee the plugmutt pen…

“Silly old hoofer.” Cyrus said. “The plugmutts thought she was bringing them their dinner.”

Bert would have laughed, if he hadn’t been a useless and bitter has-been whose fame had come by playing Aquaplug in a popular children’s television show many years previous. “Yeah, silly old hoofer.” He said. “She must have thought she was dinner.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the huge mud structure, Doctor Pox was seeing his first patient in his ‘new’ surgery…

“These ceilings seem awfully low.” His customer observed.

“Yes,” Pox replied, “I have a sore spot on the top of my head. Unfortunately, the only doctor in town who might look at it is me: and I don’t have a mirror. No one does; they were all destroyed!”

Meanwhile, just around the corner, Delia and Poki had encountered the museum’s bounty hunter and well-known lothario – Hunting Provost…

“Why hello, Ladies.” He said smoothly through a sly smile, “where have you two been all my life?

Whilst Poki sighed and looked skyward with exasperation, Delia replied:

“As far as I can see, we hadn’t been born for the first half of it. Now get lost and go play on your mag-lift motorbike or something.”

Hunting, crestfallen, knew when he was not wanted, and duly stepped aside to allow them access to the mud village…

…from which black smoke belched most unattractively, which had caught the attention of Police Constable Salisbury Wilts: and someone had been blown out of their hovel by a steam explosion.

“Hmmm,” Poki whispered disparagingly, “a regular home from home.”

Margret, meanwhile, had allowed Ninja Perkins to take her to the seat of the mud village’s power, Cushions Smethwyke and Yabu Suchs…

“This is strange,” she said to them, “it was you two that sent us here on our mission of discovery. I don’t think that either of you imagined you existed in both time-lines.”

This came as startling news to both earplugs. “But we had no idea.” Cushions wailed.

“That’s right.” Yabu all but sobbed. “We knew that the time-lines had diverged, obviously: we could sense it with our silicon DNA: but having duplicates of ourselves in the alternative time-line…well it changes everything. We assumed that this time-line would eventually re-integrate with the River of Time, and that when we finally dig our way out of the ruins, we’d be able to rebuild the museum to its former glory. We’d even named it. The Epoch of Dung. Poetic, don’t you think? But your arrival and what you tell us changes everything.”

“Does it?” Cushions inquired of Yabu. “You know I don’t do temporal mechanics very well. What are the ramifications? What’s the upshot?”

Yabu spent several moments considering the question. Margret stepped into the breech, as it were: “One of the time-lines will be destroyed. It’s a fifty-fifty chance either way.”

“It must be this one.” Yabu blurted. “It’s the only way.”

Expert in temporal mechanics or not, Cushions didn’t like what she was hearing: “Why must it be this one? This is the one that I’m in: surely it should be the other one.”

“No, Cushions.” Yabu replied sagely, “I can only be this one. We have no museum here. In the other time-line, the museum remains intact and functioning. No re-build is necessary. There will be no need of a dirty, filthy, incredibly smelly Epoch of Dung. And it is populated by our original selves. We are the copies. The clones, if you will. We must be destroyed.”

“No, no, now hang on a second.” Margret interrupted. “We were sent here to make sure that the museum’s time-line remains intact: but now that we’ve found it populated, the whole situation has changed. If this time-line ends, it shouldn’t be taken that your lives go with it. We have to find a way of returning you all to the correct time-line, but leave the ruined museum behind.”

Cushions grabbed this idea like a drowning plugmutt grabs its own buttocks and bobs to the surface of any liquid – including mercury. “Brilliant – that’s what I like to hear. Okay, I designate you as Problem Solver Alpha One. It’s your job to figure out how to save us all before the time-line re-integrates. Right then, on your way. You have the full support of this entire mud edifice at your disposal. Go for it.”

So Margret found herself despatched upon an almost impossible mission. Even Ninja’s up-beat attitude couldn’t snatch her from the edge of the pit of despair…

 “Oh joy,” she groaned. “I’m a choreographer and troupe owner: what do I know about temporal mechanics and saving the occupants of a mud, poop, and straw-derived society?”

“You’re smart.” Ninja replied chirpily. “Not like the Bozo Brothers, who, having discovered their plight here, tried to appease the gods by taking their sister, Anthracite, out on to what remained of the Obsidian Plain at night, and sink her up to her armpits in the tar pit…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

The Epoch of Dung (part 8) An Earplug Adventure

A short distance farther on, Ragi Half-Nelson had found a narrow ‘bridge’ of her own. She also showed some pluck by walking straight across it…

Sadly, Wendy was doing less well – especially when the experienced Precipitous Ledge Walker, Greta began making the ‘bridge’ sway from side to side…

Whilst Wendy screamed incoherently, Horst chuckled to himself. “Oh what fun we are having, ja?” He said.

Others, though, were having less fun. Having been shown their ‘apartment’, former inmates of Sloshed Antlers Penitentiary, the square-eyed Yelli Smellow, Flob Cunundrum, and their red female parole officer, Gladys Pipe, were in the process of discovering that several amenities were yet to be added to the basic structure…

 

“No sink?” Yelli growled like the former felon he was. “How am I gonna brush my teeth before bed?”

However, Gladys had greater concerns. “I’m afraid you won’t be going to bed.” She informed Yelli. “No one has cut an opening for a bedroom door!”

Through the aforementioned wall, a trio of earplugs overheard this statement of fact…

“Yelli Smellow?” One of them hissed quietly. “This is my bedroom: I don’t want him or his kind in here with me.”

Things could have been worse though. Huget Johnson, who usually crewed aboard the KT Woo with his wife Betty, had discovered that his stairs were yet to be installed…

Unlike Yelli, he did actually possess a bedroom: he just couldn’t access it.

Better news included the discovery that Belle had found her false eyelashes, and was now in conversation with some new recruits to TWIT…

“Do you like your new quarters?” She inquired.

“It’s lovely,” one youth replied. “But not as lovely as you. Wanna kiss?”

A short while later, after Belle had re-joined with Margret, they both encountered Rupert Piles and his enormous 3D TV camera…

“When the tsunami struck, I had a choice.” Rupert told them, “It was either the contents of my underpants drawer; the file containing my home insurance; or my enormous 3D TV camera. The camera is lined with sound deadening insulation that makes it lighter than water:  so it was a no-brainer. I’m very disappointed that the decals have peeled off though. But it has a built-in Nul-Space generator and unlimited memory capacity, so I’m shooting everything for posterity.  Smile now: let’s see those pearlies.”

A short while later, members of the sewage workers union accosted Margret…

“Hey,” Marty Friedpants complained to her, “some people say we smell. Well if we do, that’s because, as sewage workers, it’s up to us to carry the plugmutt poop to the straw and mud depot, where other members of our union stir it together to make building materials. Whatta ya think?”

“Think?” Margret replied sharply. “What am I supposed to think? Rephrase the question in a way that I can comprehend and answer to the best of my ability.”

“Do we smell?” Marty demanded. “Or what?”

“Oh, what.” Margret answered positively. “Definitely what.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

The Epoch of Dung (part 7) An Earplug Adventure

It was a fabulous tale, told expertly; but Margret felt that she hadn’t crossed the temporal void to hear fabulous tales told expertly: as far as she was concerned, the Greenhorn Girls were here to save the Museum of Future Technology. In order to accomplish this task, she felt it best that her troupe collect and collate as much ‘first hand’ information that they could. To this end, she sent them off to see, with their own eyes, what the situation was in this alternative time-line. She, of course, remained with her host…

She was about to say, “it’s a bit smelly in here: let’s adjourn to the outdoors.” When, to her surprise, Ninja spoke almost the same words – except she suggested they find another location, without mentioning outside…

“I want to show how much events have affected the communal psyche.” She said. “People react differently to unexpectedly stressful situations, like being separated from almost everything they’ve ever known. Look over there.”

Margret acquiesced to Ninja’s bidding…

“I don’t understand.” The puzzled choreographer muttered. “Why is that cup of coffee sitting below that spotlight?”

“It was placed there almost a week ago.” Ninja answered. “We’re still digging all sorts of ‘tech’ out of the mud: most of it is smashed beyond repair or use; but sometimes we find items that still function. On that particular day, the earplug who found the working spotlight had a cup of coffee handed to him when a colleague discovered a functioning Café Puke dispensing machine. In a moment of quasi-religious euphoria, the earplug placed his coffee upon the floor here, and lit it with the spotlight. It’s like I said, that was almost a week ago. The coffee is yet to spoil: and it’s still warm too. It defies the laws of physics.”

Margret pondered this for a moment. Eventually she responded with the words: “No corruption, huh? The effect of temporal dislocation, do you think: or divine intervention?”

“Beats the heck outta me, Miss Greenhorn.” Ninja replied. “I wonder how your girls are doing on their reconnoitring.”

Chapter 3

Well, actually, the girls were not doing very well at all upon their mission. They absolutely hated the hurriedly constructed mud caves…

“Horrible,” Belle complained bitterly. “And I’ve lost my false eyelashes too.”

A floor below the dancing girls, two female earplugs stood in the doorway of their mud cave. “Well,” one of them said to the other, “if that’s all she has to worry about – good for her. But wait until her bra strap chafes her shoulders beyond endurance, and she can’t find any soothing balm, coz there isn’t any: then she can start complaining.”

“Nice carpet,” the other replied. “Dried moss – or lichens?”

On a higher level, a recently married couple were just moving into their cave…

“Oh, by the Saint of All Earplugs,” the husband bellowed as he overheard the earplugs below, “they have carpets. Why haven’t we got carpets?”

“Who needs carpets,” his wife whispered for fear of antagonising the neighbours, “when we have a charming safety rail made from re-purposed bean sticks?”

Higher still, Wendy Rucksack and Poki Kitchener overheard the marital exchange…

“Honestly,” Wendy said to Poki, “somethings never change – even when the world seems to have ended. Keeping up with the Joneses never dies.”

However, any such thoughts of one-upmanship between neighbours evaporated for Wendy, when Horst and Greta Stenchlinger found her nervously eyeing a narrow structure that bridged a gap between floors…

“Oh, flipping heck, Mrs Stenchlinger – you cannot be serious!”

“If one is wanting to use the toilet, young female,” Horst said from behind her, “one is not having very much choice: over there the toilet is being.”

Yet higher still, the former female weightlifters, Mandy and Candy watched Wendy’s first tentative steps upon the ‘bridge’…

“For a dancing girl,” Mandy said from behind a roughly hewn sheet of welded steel mesh, “she sure is showing some pluck.”

“Dancing girls are known for showing things.” Candy replied. “Pluck isn’t usually one of them. An ocean of thigh, yes; but pluck? Less so.”

Mandy might have said something in response, but their upstairs neighbour in the penthouse hovel called down to them…

“Hey, ladies,” he shouted, “I like your clock. If it’s a classic wind-up version, would you care to swap it for a TV with no remote control and a plug-less power cord?”

The subject of their classic timepiece gave the weightlifters a warm glow of self-satisfaction and well-being: it being the only object they owned that had survived the destruction of their apartment.

“No, it’s alright.” Candy called back. “It doesn’t have a key anyway.”

“Naughty,” whispered Mandy, “telling fibs. I know you keep it on a length of string down the back of your knickers.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

The Epoch of Dung (part 6) An Earplug Adventure

Part six already: doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun!

“Ooh, it was terrible – it really was. It all happened straight after that odd, green, shape-shifting Susan won the Woven Expanse Annual Wind-Breaking Contest…

Everything was going fine. The museum was facing no obvious threat. The local heroes all took themselves on various jaunts off world…

 In fact, I think it was quite possibly lining up to be the most relaxed era in which the museum has ever existed. Then something tripped the dormant Tunnel Temporale. No one knows what it was, but some have conjectured that it might be an attack from extra-terrestrials.”

Ninja then held aloft her cell phone for all to see. It displayed this image…

“As you can see,” Ninja continued, “it was pretty spectacular. A ‘temporal event’, some called it. Well anyway, this happened next. I snapped it from my toilet window…

All seven dancers stared in bewilderment at the cell phone screen.

“It’s a time storm.” Ninja explained. “Well at least we think that’s what it is. It tried to re-set the time-line back to the Year Blob.”

“The Year Blob?” Delia questioned.

“The very first year of earplug existence.” Poki informed her. “There is no time before the Year Blob.”

“But it wasn’t entirely successful.” Ninja continued. “The Time Techs managed to throw up some temporal defensive shields that slowed its effects. Instead of re-setting Earplug history, it destroyed everything it touched. Very quickly, it melted all the ice in the Ice World and Future Alps exhibits. That in turn flooded the Arboretum and Wide Blue Yonder… 

Then the artificial sun that lights and heats the museum fell off its stand and dropped into the resulting super-lake…

…causing tsunamis and all that sort of stuff…

Luckily, most people had either taken to high ground, buildings with solid foundations made from bedrock, or boats…

Then, as the raging waters stilled themselves against the unbreakable outer walls of the museum, everyone set about rescue missions. The Age of Stone exhibit became a refuge for many earplugs; but they all needed rescuing because Cushions Smethwyke had cut costs by building it on unstable scrubland…

Eventually the waters found their level, and an inland ocean had formed…

Of course all that sploshing about effected the Nul-Space Power Generator, which quickly got out of control and became a volcano. Also luckily, we had a Space Submarine Freighter in for repair work, so we used that for ferrying people and equipment around. As is the nature of ‘tech’ it eventually conked out and sank in several fathoms. So scouts were dispatched in small boats to find a way out…

…but every exit was blocked with millions of tons of debris. And, of course, we were left with huge quantities of mud and sand…

“How awful. That’s a real bummer.” Poki said carelessly. “In our time-line everything is much as before – except for the divergence in time, of course.”

“And the Ion Storm that’s stopping all the heroes from returning to help.” Ragi reminded her dancing chum.

This shocked the watching quartet of earplugs so badly that they stepped into the light…

Ninja’s face fell. “That explains everything,” she sobbed. “We wondered why all the museum’s heroes had failed us simultaneously. Worse still, with no surviving tech, we can’t even call out. No one outside these hallowed and impregnable walls knows that anything is wrong. They probably think we’re closed for renovations or something.”

“Or we’ve gone on holiday.” Billy Bromide added.

“Sí,” the unnamed member of Los Natillas said sadly, “No hay vacaciones para nosotros. We work real hard instead.”

“Indeed,” Ninja took it up, “with no weather control or roof, which fell in by the way – when the supporting towers were swept away by the tsunami – we’ve spent our time building houses from the resulting mud. Fortunately, the Seventh Cavalry’s plugmutts all survived…

…so we have plenty of dung to mix with the mud.”

“What about binding materials?” Margret inquired.

“Oh, we got lucky there.” Ninja answered. “There was an old exhibit that comprised thatched cottages and an old barn.”

“Yeah,” Billy Bromide interjected whilst examining his calloused hands, “it got destroyed real proper: but the thatch floated to the top. I’m a country boy, so it was my job to collect it all so other folks could mix it with the mud ‘n’ dung.”

Margret turned to her troupe. “Told ya.” She said.

“Of course,” Ninja continued, “we had precious few mud-building specialists in the museum at the time…

In fact, we had only one – and he’d only spent six months on day release at college learning the trade, before giving up and becoming a tax inspector. He was very good though: he only complained when night fell, and the winter chill froze the mud, his nose, and eventually his nether regions.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

The Epoch of Dung (part 5) An Earplug Adventure

The photo-novella featuring sentient earplugs continues apace…

Whilst this brief conversation was taking place in one time-line, in the other temporal hiccup time-line, the Tubo Di Tempo burst into crimson life…

Moreover, as the unimaginable energies abated, and the device began to glow coolly…

…the Greenhorn Girls stepped into an altered reality. As Poki Kitchener gasped in surprise, Margret Greenhorn said:

“Er, what’s with all the wattle and daub wall coverings?”

“Maybe we’ve landed in an exhibit that represents a period in history when they ran short of tech and had to resort to Twelfth Century European construction practices.” Delia suggested.

Belle, a dancer who often looked for details that other dancers might have missed, stared straight ahead in horror, and wailed:

“Flip me sideways – the smell…it’s ghastly. These aren’t just mud walls: they’ve got poop mixed in with them too. And not long ago either: they’re still fresh!”

As trans-dimensional dancing girls, it was very easy for the troupe to become collectively fixated upon one subject. Consequently they continued talking about the unexpected nature of the building though which they passed…

“They would need straw to bind the mud and excrement together.” Nokaks informed the others knowledgably from the rear. “Not something commonly found in the Museum of Future Technology, I would have thought.”

Ragi Half-Nelson had been reading up on the recent history of the museum – specifically since the arrival of the Earplug Brothers, which coincided with events becoming vastly more interesting and numerous:

“Well there was that old barn they hid the museum’s interceptor craft,” she reminded everyone. “You know – the saucers that defended the museum from Hyperspace Pirates in their earliest adventure.”

Margret was also quite well versed upon the subject of the Earplug Brothers – particularly Magnuss, whom she thought was ‘kinda cute’. She cast her mind back to the event and place to which Ragi referred…

“Of course,” she cried out in revelation. “The barn contained the remnants of marsh reeds. They must grow them in the arboretum!”

“But why would the Curator Elite waste time and energy on simple, non-teccy stuff like marsh reeds?” Wendy Rucksack inquired in her best ‘oh that’s so stupid’ voice. “I mean, like, this is the Museum of Future Technology after all. Duh!”

“To save money, of course.” Margret explained. “There’s a rather unpopular exhibit that includes a delightful hamlet that comprises several thatched cottages. I don’t know what era it’s supposed to represent, but it appears quite pastoral. Maybe it was here first, and they decided to keep it, despite the need for occasional re-thatching of the roofs. But, whatever, it’s obviously cheaper to grow the reeds in-house – rather than import them at exorbitant prices from outside.”

“Yes, of course,” Belle said as she examined the walls of the narrow alley, down which they now found themselves wandering, “that would explain so much. But where do they find their poop? The smell alone tells me this isn’t earplug doo-doos.”

“It’s a mystery alright.” Margret said with a sigh of exasperation. “We’ll just have to wait until we find someone to ask.”

By the strangest of coincidences, the alley down which they travelled did a quick left-right, and, in a moment, they found themselves facing a solitary female earplug…

None of them recognised her from their time-line, so they each tried a warm smile of welcome.

“Howdy,” Margret said before the mysterious earplug could take both fright and flight, “I’m Margret Greenhorn: these are the Greenhorn Girls.”

“I know!” The yellow earplug squealed with delight. “I’m Ninja Perkins: I’m your greatest fan. One day I wanna be in your troupe. I’m a really good dancer – and, look, I’m already wearing false eyelashes and mascara!”

Margret was suitably impressed: she had plans to expand the troupe’s repertoire, which would require at least two more dancers. Ninja certainly looked the part. “Lovely,” she said, “but first of all we’d like to know what the heck has happened in this time-line. Where is the Museum of Future Technology?”

At this, four more figures appeared from the shadows of a mud hut…

Margret recognised country singer / songwriter Billy Bromide from both her original quantum reality and the one to which she and the girls had escaped. Although two were strangers to her, she thought the earplug beside the doorjamb nearest Ninja Perkins might be a member of the mariachi band, El Custardo Y Los Natillas – so beloved, by the Future Museum of Mars curator, Frisby Mumph…

However, before she could wave daintily in his direction, Ninja was explaining everything:

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

The Epoch of Dung (part 4) An Earplug Adventure

Ah-ha, finally we break new ground. In Part 4 you will find pictures that you have never before seen. How exciting!

Chapter 2

At that precise moment, at the main entrance to the Museum of Future Technology, the Robot Ticket Collector was greeting the subjects of conversation…

“Hi, girls,” it said in its pre-programmed cheerful voice. “May I say how lovely you all look – bathed, as you are, in the rays of the setting sun?”

“Thank you,” the troupe owner, Margret Greenhorn replied, “we’re here on official business. No sequins. No high kicks and skimpy leotards. We want to see Yabu Suchs.”

If a Robot Ticket Collector could look disappointed, this particular Robot Ticket Collector would have. “Enormous piles of doo-doo,” it bellowed electronically, “I really like fishnet stockings: I was hoping to see your show – even if it was rubbish and you were all out of step. Oh well, I suppose you’d better come in then.”

Margret, although a generation older than the members of her dancing troupe, was well used to being ogled for her timeless beauty, so took no offence at the robot’s attitude. “Come on, girls,” she said, “show a leg.”

However, five minutes wandering about inside the museum left all seven females concerned…

“Where is everyone?” Poki Kitchener inquired nervously. “Erie or what?”

“This is redolent of that time when everyone was abducted by aliens in our own space-time continuum.” An unusually eloquent Delia Stodge remarked.

“Hiding, I expect.” Margret replied. “Probably under the stairs – with a thermos flask and some sandwiches wrapped in cling film.”

Then she noticed the Robot Guide in front of her. “Hi,” it said even more cheerfully than the Robot Ticket Collector, “you guys must be looking for Yabu Suchs: follow me.”

The streets, thoroughfares, and corridors had remained empty for the duration of the walk from the foyer to the front door of the Yabu Youth Centre…

“Well here you are; my task is complete.” The Robot Guide informed them. “Now go straight in – Yabu’s waiting for you.”

“Aren’t you coming in with us?” Belle Ching asked the automaton. “Mister Suchs has such huge, scary eyes: If I feel my knees knocking, I’d like to hide behind you.”

“Sorry,” the mechanism replied with false sorrow, “but one of my caterpillar tracks is all wonky and pulls to the left. I have to get it straightened out before my limited slip differential explodes in an exhortation of red-hot steel shards and boiling oil. That’s a health and safety issue: it overrides your silly girly fears. See ya.”

With those words still echoing off the museum walls, the Robot Guide was gone, and Margret decided to lead the girls into the Yabu Youth Centre…

…where they were somewhat horrified to discover that the large-eyed male was not alone. The chief curator – Cushions Smethwyke – stood beside him. They gulped as one – especially when the museum’s Artificial Intelligence appeared upon a wall screen beside them…*

Cushions had never been one for preliminaries: she got straight to the point:

“Right, you lot,” She said, “Yabu can give you the details; but the crux of the matter is – we need someone with guts and brains to go into an alternative, divergent time-line; find out what the heck has happened. They have to make sure that this time-line survives when time itself re-integrates – even if it means the total destruction of the alternative time-line and everyone in it. Got that?”

Well, Margret Greenhorn wasn’t entirely certain that her troupe of high-kickers were ideal candidates for such a daring mission: but they had traversed trans-dimensional space without injury; and time-travel wasn’t a complete stranger to them either. “Whatta ya think, girls?” she inquired of her employees.

Six pairs of eyes turned to regard each other. The dark-eyed beauty, Wendy Rucksack was the first to find her voice:

“If it means missing rehearsals for a couple of hours, I say… go for it!”

Five minutes later seven pairs of eyes regarded the Tubo Di Tempo in minute detail for the first time…

Cushions sighed and allowed her gaze to wander to the ceiling. “Do we really have time for this?” She asked herself sotto voce.

Yabu, whose hearing was monumentally fabulous, heard her. He smiled. ‘Cushions,’ he thought to himself, ‘despite all her experience, still doesn’t really understand the principle of time-travel.’

“Ooh,” Belle Ching said to Delia Stodge as the troupe peered into the dormant device, “I used to have a pair of knickers that colour. But they got stolen off my mum’s washing line.”

“Sorry to hear it.” Delia responded. “Were they really comfortable?”

“Very,” Belle answered, “though they did fall down repeatedly during netball practice. But it kept the boys in the maths lesson entertained, so I think it was worth the inconvenience. It’s what got me into show business.”

The conversation might have continued, but any thoughts of loose elastic evaporated when the Tubo Di Tempo activated…

Yabu passed Margret a hastily written guide, then stepped back.

“Off you go, then.” He said with a cheerful smile. “See you when time re-integrates.”

Moments later the Greenhorn Girls had departed their immediate portion of space / time. It was only when the red light transformed into a blue light, which informed those operating the device that the transfer through time had been successful…

…that the two yellow earplugs allowed doubt to register in their conscious thought processes.

“Oh flipping heck, Yabu,” Cushions spoke in a voice suddenly grown small and reedy, “I hope we’ve done the right thing.”

Yabu gulped audibly. “Hope?” He said. “That’s all we have. If we’ve chosen wrong, I doubt we’ll know anything about it: we, and everyone and everything we know, will just simply cease to exist.”

Cushions didn’t know how to react to such a fateful response. “And if we’re right?” She inquired.

Yabu’s smile was wry. “It means you’ll still have to worry about your credit card bill: all the time we’re in fiscal limbo, we can’t allow any new customers in through the door. We’d get sued for negligence.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

*Finally I get to use the very first earplug picture – taken on August 4th, 2014. Shit, was it really that long ago? Originally they had no faces – just a glans drawn on the top of one. It was supposed to be a tiny pink penis. How juvenile. Then the face was added. The Earplug Adventures had begun.

The Epoch of Dung (part 3) An Earplug Adventure

Cameo alert. Cameo Alert. Lots of famous earplug names not really contributing to the tale.*

The look of horror upon Yabu’s face intensified. “I can’t,” he cried out in mental agony, “they’re not on Earth. Magnuss and Hair-Trigger boarded the Tankerville Norris

…to visit the Ice World. Having arrived to great fanfare and hullabaloo, they set off on a sponsored circumnavigation of the planet’s equator…

…upon which they hoped to raise sufficient funds to begin a scientific exploration of the crust’s re-formed sub-strata, and discover why it’s gone all visually mono-tonal…

“Okay,” Cushions said with a sigh. “So the ‘A’ team are out of town: what about the remaining four Earplug Brothers? Don’t tell me they’re off-world too!”

“Sorry.” Yabu replied. “Actually they are. They’re on Mars – checking out the progress of planetary terraforming.”

Cushions was confused by this information. “I’m confused.” She said in a tone that could only be described as ‘confused’. “This information makes no sense. The last time I looked, Mars had been moved to an orbit directly opposite this world, but on the other side of the Sun: it has a climate much like Earth’s now.”

“True,” Yabu replied sagely, “but Mars’ deserts have been dead for thousands of millennia. Earth seeds don’t like them. So the boys have gone along to cheer up everyone on the project. And, whilst they’re there, they can get to fly around in the Punting-Modesty Facepuncher XL5 without worrying Air Traffic Control.”

Cushions mused upon this information for about three nanoseconds. “That’s why they’ve gone to Mars, isn’t it? To play silly-buggers on a planet with a thinner atmosphere, reduced gravity, and a tiny population, in a powerful attack craft. Really it’s all about having fun.”

To which Yabu answered in the affirmative. He then added, “It’s their way of reducing stress. You know – the stress of always having to be heroes and failing at nothing.”

To which a scornful Cushions replied, “Huh – I’m so stressed that sometimes I think my knicker elastic will snap with the strain: but I don’t go racing around alien worlds in rocket-powered aircraft. Call them back instantaneously!”

A sheepish look slid…er…sheepishly… across Yabu’s countenance. “That could be a problem, Cushions.” He said. “We received a very garbled message from Folie Krimp and Placebo Bison. They were on their way to Earth aboard the Gravity Whelk at the time. Would you like me to play it back to you on my cell phone?”

Yabu didn’t wait for a reply. A split second later, his phone’s tiny screen displayed this…

Whilst Placebo was yelling, “Aargh”, Folie managed to bellow a warning:

“Massive ion storm encountered in Solar System. All ships should attempt planet fall at the soonest opportunity – like now. Communications are failing. Act immediately. Our ship is loads better than yours; and look what the ion storm is doing to it.”   

The scene shifted to a remote external view…

Cushions had time for one decent nervous gulp before the screen blanked.

“Coms have been out ever since.” Yabu said miserably.

This was terrible news: it should have floored the curator. However, Cushions rallied quickly. “What about those three girls? You know – the heroes in training. They’ve got a great big robot freighter: surely they can do something to help. I mean – what’s the point of heroes in training, if they can’t do something heroic when the need arises!”

“You mean Bunty Bridgewater, Daisy Woodnut, and Ginger Slack.” Yabu  answered…

“Do I?” Cushions snapped. “Oh yes, I suppose I do. Those names do seem familiar. Well?

“Their ship was severely damaged on a training mission by an ethereal alien walking machine on a dark planetoid.” Yabu replied…

…”They’re still waiting for a tow-truck. But, I do have one trick left up my sleeve. Remember Margret Greenhorn and her dancing troupe, the Greenhorn Girls?”

Cushions screwed up her face – partially in doubt, and partially because she was trying to remember when she had last seen the Greenhorn Girls in action. Then it came to her: they’d danced at the wedding of Magnuss and Hair-Trigger Earplug…

“Flipping heck, Yabu,” she wailed, “is that the best you can do?”

Yabu shrugged in response. “I’ve sent out a page to Margret: they should be at the front door right about…now!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

* Also allows him to use some of those ‘arty’ earplugs shots that wouldn’t otherwise appear.

The Epoch of Dung (part 2) An Earplug Adventure

So, on to the second instalment. If it appears familar that is because (like part 1) this episode has also appeared before. But this time it’s good…

This wasn’t Glumb and Humbolt’s first encounter with the Museum of Future Technology’s curator- in- chief. They knew when it was best to stand up and ‘front’ her. They also knew when to cower a little and behave as obsequiously as they could, taking into consideration, of course, their sense of self-importance…

“Well, you see, your worship, it’s like this.” Glumb began.

“Like what?” Bubbly Salterton inquired of Winston Gloryhole sharply. “What’s it like?”

“Something very interesting has happened.” Humbolt replied as he attempted to view the read-out upon his hand-held Chrono-Shift meter at the same time that he spoke. “If these figures are correct…aah…something really significant – temporally that is – has occurred in this era.”

This was news to Glumb Kimball. “It has?” He inquired as his huge, bulbous eyes snapped sideways to regard his colleague.

Humbolt wasn’t sure whom he should address first. A look of thunder from Cushions made up his mind for him. “Yes,” he said, whilst looking straight at the curator, “and it absolves Glumb and me of responsibility – completely and utterly. This is your baby, so-to-speak, Ms Smethwyke; we can wash our hands of any repercussions. You want to step up to bat? Here’s your chance. Be my guest.”

Glumb appeared considerably relieved by this uncharacteristically verbal outpouring from his normally taciturn co-scientist. “Right then,” he said as the curators stood open mouthed, “we’re out of here. Bye-ee.”

Naturally, the Time Techs rushed to usher their superiors into the Tubo Di Tempo…

…but, as the time machine activated, Widderspoon Flange made to intercept them.

“But you haven’t told us what this significant event in our era is.” He cried, “What is going on?”

Humbolt passed his Chrono-Shift meter to Gregor Koch. “Ask Gregor,” he replied to Widderspoon’s question, “that’s assuming he can remember how to read the data correctly, of course: he’s probably a little rusty.”

Meanwhile, Auntie Doris, so recently promoted to the Curator Elite, smiled warmly at the worried Cushions, and said:

“Don’t worry yourself, Dear: Whatever it is, I’m sure the Earplug Brothers can sort it out for you.”

For a fleeting moment, these kind words gave Cushions a degree of confidence that she so badly needed. Then Widderspoon and the Time Techs returned with some news. News that would shake the very foundations of the museum’s existence.*

Chapter 1

A short while later, Cushions Smethwyke and the curators that had accompanied her to meet the recent arrivals from the future, stood resolutely together…

…and faced the camera of the museum’s TV reporter, Rupert Piles…

They wished to address the entire populace of the museum with the devastating news. Of course, Auntie Doris tried to soften the blow with a pleasant smile, but it did little to lift the spirits of those who watched and listened upon the TVs in the imagined sanctuary of their own homes…

…their workplaces…

In bars, restaurants, and walkways…

And upon the huge wall screens that hung in most thoroughfares and public meeting places, such as the Great Hall…

Even zombies, on their way to a hat-wearing competition, paused to listen and learn…

Wherever earplugs – and other silicon-based lifeforms within the Museum of Future Technology – heard Cushion’s resolute and unwavering voice as she elucidated in her most dispassionate manner, the result was always the same…

Shock, fear, and an intense desire to visit the lavatory. Some – those being first cousins of the Earplug Brothers, Clancy, Brad, and Gilbatross Earplug…

…fled to the lower levels and catacombs beneath the earlier museums that formed the Museum of Future Technology’s supportive strata. But seasoned – if terribly young – campaigners, such as Fulham Peach and Crudlove Twang…

…reacted in a more positive manner. They had recently joined The Yabu Youth – an organisation created by Magnuss Earplug’s protégé, Yabu Suchs, to discover brave young earplugs with the wherewithal to become future heroes. Whilst Fulham considered fortifying herself with the rapid consumption of a cup of Café Puke’s fabled Crappachino, Crudlove was receiving a page from their leader. Casting a quick glance over his shoulder at the sunset, he said:

“Fulham, sweetie: it’s time to act positively. Let’s go volunteer.”

In fact, the only people who failed to react with any observable…er…reaction were Baron Frankincense’s monsters…

…who had escaped his laboratory and were now on their way to the cinema to watch an avant-garde rom-com about high school girls experiencing abduction by a swarthy band of pirates and discovering the delights of tight pants and disco.

Whilst he awaited the arrival of Crudlove and Fulham, Yabu Suchs – of the Yabu Youth – spoke quietly with Cushions…

“So, Chief,” he said, “is that right that there has been a divergence of time-lines – right here and now, in our era?”

To which Cushions replied:

“You’re quick on the up-take. Of course it’s right, you vaguely off-yellow twerp. Something happened that caused the Tunnel Temporale to hiccup, so-to-speak, and create an alternate time-line. Starting, as of a couple of hours ago, there are now two potential histories. One is the correct time-line that will eventually reconnect with the river of time: the other will lose temporal momentum, and stagger to a halt – freezing whatever exists during those final moments before the end of time in a repetitive causality loop that can never be broken. Death will hold no dominion there; but everyone will go completely ga-ga with boredom and probably eat each other.”

A look of horror crossed Yabu’s face. “And in the morning they would find themselves whole again, and go just that little bit more insane. Oh such misery – and eternal too! ”

“Yeah, and it gets worse.” Cushions added mirthlessly, “There’s nothing to say that the ‘other’ timeline gets the bad news. It’s a fifty-fifty chance that it’ll be this time-line that enters the loop. That it’s we who go ga-ga and eat each other. We need the Earplug Brothers; and we need ‘em quick. But we can’t find them. They’re out of town. You’re Magnuss’ protégé; you must have their number; give ‘em a call!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

* Whatever that means.

The Epoch of Dung (part 1) An Earplug Adventure

Following the aborted first attempt to display this latest wondrous tale of silicon-based life, sufficient photos and enough script has finally been produced to allow it’s creator to release the opening salvo of this, the 44th edition of the Earplug Adventures. You won’t be disappointed Earpluggers. It may be shorter than average – but only by twenty-five percent or so. And you know what they: the best things come in small packages…

Earplug Adventures: The Epoch of Dung

Tooty Nolan

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Prologue

Every day was an interesting day at the Museum of Future Technology – especially since a new spaceport had opened to the paying public…

 

Visitors would wait, often interminably, in the foyer for the next shuttle to arrive…

…to take them to the Departure Lounge – from whence they would board space ships to here, there, and everywhere. Therefore, it was into this seething cauldron of silicon life that the next potential disaster poked its unwelcome hooter. Biological android, and self-proclaimed princess, Princess Agatha, and her friend, Belinda Noseguard, had happened by the long-abandoned (and previously troublesome) Tunnel Temporale, when suddenly it erupted with crimson light. Although technical imbeciles, both long-term inhabitants of the museum quickly realised that any activity within the futuristic tube that possessed the ability to traverse the river of time, but which had caused unprecedented damage when it allowed time storms to rip through the structure of both the museum and space/time itself, was very bad indeed. Naturally, they scarpered as quickly as they could…

At more or less the same time, the three Time Techs, all of which had been marooned in their past by the resultant closure and long-term temporary decommissioning of the Tunnel Temporale, were strolling back to their work stations after a quick visit to the nearby Café Puke outlet to use their toilet…

The chief Time Tech, Gregor Koch, looked sideways at his subordinate, Twinkles Forget-me-not, and said:

“What lovely urinals they have at the Café Puke. So sweet smelling. And the soap dispenser is to die for.”

“Pity their coffee tastes like it came from the same dispenser.” Runt said from behind Gregor.

“Mine tasted like it came from the urinal.” Twinkles complained. He then added, “Why can’t we have our own toilet? Why do we have to borrow other people’s loos? It’s so demeaning.”

“Cushions Smethwyke still blames us for the time storms.” Gregor replied. “She still thinks that our attempt to return to our period in history, during the worst of it, was tantamount to desertion.”

“She has a point.” Runt spoke again. “We are Time Techs after all: running out on them during their greatest need of us was kind’a ploppy.”

“That’s easy for you to say.” Twinkles grumbled. “Of the three of us, you’re on the lowest pay level: you don’t have a fortune in back-pay accumulating in the future.”

Runt had to think for a second before responding. “Hmmm,” he replied, “and I’m not exactly loaded here either. I might consider applying for a position aboard the K T Woo, you know: they’re always looking for crewmembers. You get to meet aliens too. Sometimes they shoot at you with advanced directed energy weapons. But most of the time it’s great. And the pay is terrific.”

One of the older Time Techs might have responded with, “Yeah, go for it: you’re no sodding good to us.” but the sight of the startled-looking Princess Agatha interrupted any such thought process as she exited an elevator behind Belinda Noseguard…

It took both blue earplugs approximately a half nanosecond to cover the distance between themselves and the three semi-permanent visitors from the future…

…where they quickly transferred responsibility for whatever might happen next because of them having found the Tunnel Temporale in unexpectedly operative mode.

“Yeah,” Belinda blurted, “it was all glowing red and stuff.”

“We were so scared we had to stop off at a launderette on the way here!” Agatha added for good measure.

Gregor didn’t respond initially. Well actually he did. An almost inaudible squeak escaped his trousers. But, rallying with alacrity, he said, “Thank you, ladies; on your way; leave this to us.”

Thirty seconds later, any potential CCTV cameras would have found all three Time Techs making best speed for the Tunnel Temporale…

…which startled the crews of two armoured hover reconnaissance vehicles, who had stopped off for a wee behind one of the huge concrete support columns that held up the disused roller skate park roof.

However, nothing – not even the complaining members of the military – could be allowed to slow Gregor, Twinkles, and Runt, as they raced towards (what they feared was) their destiny. Moreover, to their horror, they soon discovered that neither Princess Agatha nor Belinda had been exaggerating…

“I can’t look!” Twinkles wailed as all three Time Techs turned their backs on the apparition.

“Quick”, Gregor yelled above the humming sound that emitted from the Tunnel, “let’s run away; kill the witnesses; and feign ignorance of the whole damned deal!”

“No,” the calmest earplug present snapped. “Pull yourselves together. We must inform our superiors. Quickly – to the smaller, but infinitely more reliable, Tubo Di Tempo!”

Of course, Runt was entirely correct. So, five minutes, and several high-speed elevators later…

…Gregor, Twinkles, and Runt arrived at the Tunnel Temporale’s replacement, just in time to see it activate remotely.

“Looks like someone in the future already knows about our little problem.” Twinkles observed.

He wasn’t wrong. A moment later, the colour of the Tubo Di Tempo shifted into the blue spectrum, and two figures emerged from it…

It was a slightly shaken Humbolt Whale who led his colleague, Glumb Kimball, from the machine.

“Ooh, that was a nasty ride.” Humbolt managed after a bout of retching. “I’ve never been travel sick in a time machine before.”

“It must have been temporal eddies caused by the temporally-adjacent Tunnel Temporale.” Glumb conjectured. He then explained to the waiting Time Techs that he and Humbolt had been conducting some preventative maintenance upon their future version of the Tunnel Temporale…

…when it activated spontaneously.

“Spontaneous, it was.” Humbolt said in support of his co-worker. “We didn’t touch a thing.”

This amused Runt because it displayed a level of insecurity that matched his immediate superior’s. He was almost tempted to say, “See, Gregor, even your boss feels the need to cover his arse.” but he didn’t get the opportunity because Glumb continued to relate their tale…

“So, after due consideration, we thought we ought to get ourselves here and see if there was someone else would could pin the blame on.”

It was very fortunate for Gregor that Cushions Smethwyke had been following the situation aboard the Omnipresent Scanner. Just as Glumb had spoken those words, she and several curators entered the room.

“Ah, she said, as the surprised Time Techs turned to meet the party…

…”you’re all as bad as each other in the future. It’s time someone stepped up to the plate and took some responsibility. Well I’m here to say to you, stand aside, you gutless wonders: Cushions Smethwyke has entered the building.”

She then demanded to know ‘what the heck’ was going on.

Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

P.S If you ‘Liked’ this before, I’d be very pleased if you ‘Liked’ it again.

Blast From the Past 2: The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

Sifting through some more floppy discs that I found in my loft…

Tooty and his harvest of stuff

…I discovered three scripts that I had forgotten entirely. Blanked from my memory, no doubt. This is because (when I began reading the opening lines) it all came flooding back. It was this proposed children’s animation that was the final straw that broke the metaphorical camel’s back. I now recall the boss of a leading children’s animation TV series provider liking it very much, but who couldn’t see how it would fit into a saturated market (at that time), what with Thomas the Tank Engine  and Bob the Builder etc already well-ensconced. He also doubted that I could create enough story-lines for an entire series. He might or might not have been correct about the former; but, as I was to prove very quickly, he was absolutely on-the-money  with the latter. I managed  three episodes…and dried up. I had nothing. This (rather than the failure to sell my adult stuff) is what prompted me to finally give up. But, looking back at it now, almost twenty years later, it wasn’t half-bad. Check out this portion. Skidlid is the driver of a Swedish-built truck named Woden. Scooter is a truck-mountable forklift truck that rides on the rear of Woden. Farquar is a regular electric counter-balanced forklift truck  at the factory for  which they deliver ‘widgets’. Danny drives Farquar; and Binky works in the office.

As previously encountered, the formatting from Windows 95 means that the copy is slightly all-over-the-place…

            SKIDLID & SCOOTER by Paul Nolan

                                    EPISODE 01: WEATHER FOR DUCKS

            1: EXT. DAY. LOGAN’S YARD.

WODEN is reversing across the yard into the loading bay of LOGANS PRESSED WIDGET COMPANY. 

Although his ‘bleeper’ is sounding loudly, SCOOTER, who is still mounted on Woden’s rear, calls out a warning…

                                                            SCOOTER:

Mind yourselves. Mind yourselves. Woden is coming in.

            WODEN: (Swedish accent)

Thankyou, Scooter, but everyone can hear my reversing beeper. You don’t need to worry.

           

            2: INT. DAY. LOADING BAY.

Woden halts. SKIDLID, drops from the cab, then reaches back inside to retrieve his safety helmet – placing it upon his head.

FARQUAR, driven by DANNY, enters from the warehouse, and approaches the lorry.

                                                                        SKIDLID: (calling to Danny)

                                                            Hey, hey!

            Skidlid indicates his own helmet.

                                                                        SKIDLID:

Come on Danny, you know the rules: You must wear a helmet when driving a forklift truck.

            DANNY:

Sorry, Skidlid. I forgot.

            Danny reaches back to fetch his helmet from the rear of Farquar.    

            SKIDLID:

You always forget. One of these day’s you’ll forget your head. Now what have you got for Woden to deliver today?    

              FARQUAR:

He doesn’t know. It’s too early; he hasn’t woken up yet.

                                                                      DANNY:

                                    That’s right. It’s too early; I haven’t woken up yet.

            Mister Logan hasn’t given me the delivery sheets yet, either…

                        SKIDLID:

Fair enough.

                        Skidlid and Danny make for the office

                        FARQUAR: (to Scooter)

Hello, Scooter.

                        SCOOTER: (defensively)

Hello, Farquar.

                        FARQUAR:

Aren’t you coming down off of there?

                        SCOOTER: (calling)

Skidlid?

                        SKIDLID:

Yes, Scooter?

                        SCOOTER:

Is it all right if I come down off of here?

                        SKIDLID:

No, it’s all right. You best stay there. We won’t be long.

                        Skidlid and Danny disappear inside the office.

                        FARQUAR:

Do you feel slightly superfluous – hanging around like that – like a metal monkey?

                        SCOOTER:

I don’t know. What does ‘superfluous’ mean?

                        FARQUAR:

It means something that isn’t really needed.  Something extra that we could all do without.

                                                                        SCOOTER:

That’s not a very nice thing to say. Of course I’m needed. Skidlid often uses me.

                        FARQUAR:

When?

                        SCOOTER:

Well, when we go places where there’s no forklift trucks around.

                        FARQUAR:

You mean forklift trucks – like me?

                        SCOOTER:

Of course.

                        FARQUAR:

But if there are forklift trucks like me around, he leaves you hanging onto the back of Woden – like a metal monkey?                      

                        SCOOTER:

Well…yes, I suppose so…

                        FARQUAR:

I thought so.

Skidlid and Danny return with BINKY – who carries a sheaf of paperwork.

She hands them to Skidlid one at a time.

                                                BINKY:

Your first call is at the new bridge. They need a widget cruncher. Their widget cruncher broke down.

                        SKIDLID:

Thanks, Binky: We’ll get straight over there. Come on Danny – load us up.           

 

3: EXT. DAY. LOGANS YARD.

Danny uses Farquar to place a huge, heavy box onto the rear of Woden – who sags under the weight.

                                                WODEN:

Are you trying to burst my tyres, Farquar? This is very heavy.

            FARQUAR:

Too heavy for Scooter, I think. Perhaps you should leave him behind. He will only slow you down.

            WODEN:

No, I do not think so. Where I go, Scooter goes.

He is a very useful forklift truck.

            DANNY: (calling)

O.K, Skidlid, all done: Off you go.

Woden pulls from the yard. Danny and Binky wave their farewell.

                                                                        DANNY:

                                                            Fancy a cup of tea, Binky?

                                                                        BINKY:

                                                            Good idea.

They depart. Farquar looks up at the darkening sky. The first raindrops to fall hit him.

                                                FARQUAR: (calling)

                                    I say, don’t forget me!

                        FADE OUT.

                        FADE IN.

 

                        4: EXT. DAY. WODEN.

Scooter is becoming drenched by rain as Woden drives through the countryside. He is not enjoying it.

They pass a holiday camp, full of caravans.

                                                            SCOOTER:

Oh, those poor people. What horrid weather for a holiday.

 

5: EXT. DAY. RIVERSIDE ROAD.

Woden drives along beside the river – which is rising in the pouring rain.

                                                            SCOOTER:

                                                That river looks awfully high.

                                                            WODEN:

It is all this rain. It is making the river rise so high I think it may flood.

            SCOOTER:

That sounds like fun.

            WODEN:

Not if you live near the river, and the river fills your home with water.

            SCOOTER:

Oh, no, I suppose not.

 

                        6: EXT. DAY. UNFINISHED BRIDGE.

Several workmen and a large diesel forklift truck shelter from the rain beneath a canvas hut beside a partially built steel bridge.

                        Woden arrives. Skidlid drops from the cab.

                                                                               SKIDLID:

Hello, I’ve just brought your new widget cruncher.

            WORKMAN:

Lovely. Just drop it there, will you?

It’s weather for ducks out there, and we don’t want to get wet.

            SKIDLID:

Do I have to take it off myself?

            WORKMAN:

Very kind of you to offer. Just there will do.

            SKIDLID:

But the load is very heavy…

            SCOOTER: (interrupting)

I can do it, Skidlid. That’s why you brought me along.

            SKIDLID:

But they have a much larger forklift truck here already…

            SCOOTER:

Please, Skidlid; I don’t want to be superfluous…

            SKIDLID:

But it’s really heavy. I don’t think…

            SCOOTER: (interrupting)

Please…

            SKIDLID:

O.K, Scooter, you can give it a try.

                                   Woden begins lowering Scooter to the ground.

 

                                           7: EXT. DAY. UNFINISHED BRIDGE.

With Skidlid driving, Scooter approaches the heavy load on the rear of Woden.

                                                                                    WODEN:

Are you sure you want to do this, Scooter?

            SCOOTER:

Yes. The load only looks heavy. I’m sure Farquar made it look much harder than it really is.

Scooter strains to lift the load. He huffs and puffs. The load begins to rise, but his rear wheel will not remain upon the ground. It begins to spin as he tries to reverse.

The workmen rush from shelter, clambering upon Scooter – bringing his wheel back down.

                                                SKIDLID:

No, no – it isn’t safe. Everyone off. This load is too heavy for this machine.

The workmen retreat to cover, and Skidlid lowers the load back onto Woden.

                                                WODEN:

                                    Well it was nice while it lasted.

                                                SCOOTER: (sadly)

Farquar was right: I am superfluous. No one has any need of me. You might as well throw me into the river.

            SKIDLID:

Oh, no, Scooter, you’re not superfluous: It’s just that truck-mounted forklift trucks aren’t made to lift huge widget crunchers. It needs big counter-balanced forklifts like…

            SCOOTER:

…Farquar?

                                                SKIDLID:

Well, yes – like Farquar. But Farquar would be no good on the back of Woden, would he? He would be too big. We’re all good at different things. There are times when you are very handy. Just not right now.

                        THE WORKMEN CRY OUT AN ALARM.

Skidlid notices that they are pointing to the river- upon which a caravan bobs in the current.         

A family can be seen waving for help from the roof.                       

                                                                                    SKIDLID:

Oh, cripes, that mobile home is being swept away!

            WORKMAN:

What are we going to do? If it hits the bridge, it’ll be torn apart!

            SKIDLID:

Your big fork-lift truck: Perhaps it could go down to the bank – reach across – and stop the mobile home before it hits the bridge.

            WORKMAN:

Good idea.

(Calling Diesel)

Diesel!

The diesel forklift truck roars into life – smoke billowing from its exhaust.

 

8: EXT. DAY. RIVERBANK.

The Workman eases the diesel forklift truck down the bank toward the fast-moving water.

Skidlid calls from the bridge…

                                                            SKIDLID:

Hurry – the mobile home is getting closer.

            WORKMAN:

I can’t; it’s the mud: It’s too soft. My wheels are sinking. I can’t go backwards or forwards.

 

                        9: EXT. DAY. UNFINISHED BRIDGE.

                        Woden and Scooter look-on…

                                                                                    WODEN:

Things do not seem to be going well, Scooter.

            SCOOTER:

That poor family; they’ll be here in just a few minutes. They’ll be dashed into the raging river.

            WODEN:

Perhaps they are Olympic swimmers, and can swim easily to the bank.

            SCOOTER:

What are the chances of that, Woden?

            WODEN:

About a million-to-one.

          SCOOTER:

That’s what I thought.

(Calling)

Skidlid – fetch out Woden’s towrope. Do it quickly!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2003

Hmmm, wonder if this could be persuaded to morph into a children’s book…? Whatta ya think?

 

 

Blast From the Past

Whilst searching (unsuccessfully) for the set-up disc for a printer I have in  my bedroom, but never use, I chanced upon some floppy discs at the bottom of a plastic storage box. Some of them contained corrupted data, which was inaccessible. But one still worked. It contained the script for Episode Eight of a TV thriller/mystery/ sci-fi show that I had written almost exactly twenty years ago. If I recall, ten episodes were completed before I began trying to interest potential production companies. I also recall that a lot of people made a lot of nice noises about the scripts, but none of them were in a position to influence anyone of importance. Agents and actors mostly. I spent many a happy hour on the phone chatting with them. But when it seemed that my dreams were going nowhere, I quit writing (in 2003)and ran away to Spain for a sabbatical, which lasted until the money ran out in 2005. I never returned to script writing. But, as I mosied through Episode Eight, I began to wonder…

Here’s a snippet from it. Please excuse the strange layout. Word couldn’t read the ancient Windows 98 system I used back then. I was forced to upload from the disc using LibreOffice, then converting to Word 2003, before finally being able to access it on my usual laptop. In the process, the formatting went a bit doolally.

                5: EXT. NIGHT. MASON’S FARM.

                 Wozniak’s car glides into the yard, halting

                before the front door of the farmhouse.

 

                (6: INT. NIGHT. FARMHOUSE HALLWAY).

                The front doorbell is jingling insistantly.

                GEORGE MASON, a stout, florid, man in his

                late fifties – very much the archetypal

                owner-farmer, clumps in from the adjoining

                pantry, and begins unlatching the door.

                When he speaks it is with a broad rural

                accent.

                                        MASON:

                                Hold your blooming horses will

                                ya!

                He opens the door to the bloodied and

                dishevelled group.

                                        MASON:

                                What the blinking heck

                                happened to you lot?

                Janice steps forward.

                                        JANICE:

                                Hello, Mr Mason…do you

                                remember me?

                                        MASON:

                                Janice Gale: What the heck’s

                                happened to you girl: Been in

                                a fight?

                                        JANICE:

                                Yes. Can we come in?

                Mason is flummoxed momentarily.

                                        WOZNIAK:

                                We really need to come in.

                Judith notices a brief flicker of headlights

                amongst distant trees.

                                        JUDITH:

                                There’s a car in the lane.

                Wozniak bundles the others past an uncertain

                Mason, then goes for the car.

                                        JANICE:

                                (concerned)

                                Peter!

                                        WOZNIAK: (shouting)

                                Mr Mason…is there a barn

                                or something? I need to hide

                                the car.

                Mason senses the urgency of the situation…

                                        MASON:

                                Round the back: I’ll fetch the

                                key.

 

                7: INT. NIGHT. FARMHOUSE (PANTRY).

                 Arthur sits at the table, confused.

                Cavisbury lays upon a bench, slowly

                recovering.

                Judith is tugging the curtains closed as

                Janice enters from the hall.

                                        JUDITH:

                                (breathless)

                                The door?

                                        JANICE:

                                Locked and barred.

                                        JUDITH:

                                Oh, Miss Gale, I’m so sorry

                                I got you involved.

                                        JANICE:

                                Don’t be: Remember what you  said…

                                it’s Peter’s stock-in-trade. He may

                                be scared ridged, but deep down

                                inside he wouldn’t miss this

                                for the world.

                                        JUDITH:

                                But you could both die!

                                        JANICE:

                                (smiling)

                                May we live in interesting times.

                     The door is flung open, startling Arthur.

                Wozniak enters, followed by Mason, who locks

                the door.

                                        MASON:

                                (to Janice)

                                Your young man’s explained

                                everything. You’re being

                                chased by an escaped nutter.

                                Well you can rely on me. Aint

                                nothing I wouldn’t do for

                                a fellow Brambledownian.

                                        JANICE:

                                Thankyou, Mr Mason.

                                        MASON:

                                Call me George.

                                (noticing Cavisbury)

                                Here, aint that Lord

                                Cavisbury?

                Cavisbury looks at Mason through bleary eyes.

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                Mason, isn’t it?

                                        MASON:

                                It is. I’m surprised you

                                remember me. Do you remember

                                all your tenants you chuck out

                                on their asses?

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                I remember you because of all

                                the grief you gave me.

                                (looking around room)

                                I see you’ve done well for

                                yourself…

                                        MASON:

                                No thanks to you.

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                Nonsense: It was the making of

                                you.

                Wozniak interjects…

                                        WOZNIAK:

                                Excuse me, Lord Cavisbury –

                                how long ago was this?

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                What was it, Mason: Twenty,

                                twenty five years ago?

                                        MASON:

                                Twenty two years ago.

                                        WOZNIAK:

                                (to Cavisbury)

                                And you recall it clearly?

                                        CAVISBURY: (defensively)

                                It was twenty two years ago!

                                        WOZNIAK:

                                And yesterday? Anything?

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                (confused)

                                Yesterday? I don’t under…

                                        JUDITH:

                                (to Cavisbury)

                                Can you remember anything of

                                yesterday – last week – last

                                month?

                Cavisbury mentally strains to recall – without

                success.

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                No, nothing. What’s happening

                                to me? Have I lost my marbles?

                                        JUDITH:

                                We don’t know exactly: It has

                                something to do with General-

                                Elite.

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                (startled)

                                General-Elite? How the devil’d

                                that happen?

                                        JUDITH:

                                Sorry?

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                That damned Wake fellow:

                                Pressurised me for months.

                                Him and his so-called

                                “fertility clinic”. Couldn’t see

                                the connection – his line of

                                business and mine. And now you

                                say the companies are merged?

                                        WOZNIAK:

                                You knew nothing of this?

                Wozniak drags Arthur forward.

                                        WOZNIAK:

                                (to Cavisbury)

                                How well did you know your

                                staff?

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                I pride myself on knowing

                                everyone by their forename.

                                        WOZNIAK:

                                Good. Who is this?

                Cavisbury regards Arthur.

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                You do look familiar.

                Wozniak tosses Arthur’s ID to Cavisbury, who

                studies it.

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                No – Arthur Cronin is

                                brilliant: This man is

                                clearly…

                                        JANICE:

                                …An imbecile?

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                When you put it like that…

                                (holding side of head)

                                And violent with it.

                                        JUDITH:

                                This is Arthur Cronin. This is

                                what General-Elite do to

                                brilliant people…to people

                                who get in their way.

                                        JANICE:

                                And you are the result of what

                                they can do to people they

                                need. How does it feel to have

                                your strings cut?

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                Like a vodka martini.

                Seeing incomprehension…

                                        CAVISBURY:

                                Shaken and stirred.

                Mason pulls away from the curtain, going to a

                cupboard, which he unlocks.

                                        MASON:

                                There’s someone in the yard.

                                I heard footsteps in the

                                gravel.

                He pulls out a shotgun, then some cartridges.

                Wozniak lays his hand on the barrel, shaking

                his head.

                                        MASON:

                                If there’s a homicidal nutcase

                                out there, Bessie here could

                                come in handy.

                Wozniak thinks about it. Then…

                                        WOZNIAK:

                                O.K; but if you have to use it

                                – go for a head shot. Nothing

                                else will do. If you don’t

                                kill him with the first shot,

                                you wont live long enough to

                                regret it.

                                        MASON:

                                You make him sound like a

                                superman.

                                        WOZNIAK:

                                Treat him as such, and we

                                might come through this.

                                Now let’s get out to the

                                cowshed.

                Wozniak makes for the door. A nervous Mason

                follows, loading the shotgun as he does so.

                                        JANICE: (sharply)

                                Peter.

                Wozniak halts at the latch. He takes Janice in

                his arms.

                                        JANICE: (quietly)

                                Remember your promise.

                                        WOZNIAK:

                                I remember.

                They part, and Wozniak exits without another

                word.

 

                8: EXT. NIGHT. FARMHOUSE GARDEN.

                 Mason, shotgun in hand, leads Wozniak away

                from the house.

                THEY SPEAK IN WHISPERS.

                                        MASON:

                                Young Janice mentioned a

                                promise?

                                        WOZNIAK:

                                The last time we encountered

                                this sort of…man before, he

                                raped her. I promised never to

                                leave her alone again.

 

                9: EXT. NIGHT. COWSHED.

                 THE MUFFLED LOWING OF CONTENTED CATTLE.

                Wozniak and Mason slip along the base of the

                wall toward the main door.

                                        WOZNIAK:

                                (whispering)

                                It’s dark. He’ll not be at his

                                best. It’s his one weakness.

                                He needs to synthesise light

                                to be totally effective.

                                        WAKE:(oov)

                                So – you’ve encountered your

                                future before!

                Startled, Mason swings the shotgun around in

                an arc.

 

                10: INT. NIGHT. FARMHOUSE (PANTRY).

                 Janice, Judith, Cavisbury, and Arthur wait.

                TWO SHOTGUN RETORTS.

                Janice leaps at the door.

                                        JANICE:

                                (desperate)

                                Peter!

                FADE OUT.

                                ACT TWO.

                 FADE IN.

                11: INT. NIGHT. COWSHED.

                 Wozniak is urging the frightened cattle toward

                the door. He yells, and slaps at their flanks.

 

                11A: (INTERCUT) EXT. NIGHT. COWSHED.

                 Mason crashes to the ground.

                Wake leaps upon him, straddling him, baring

                his carnivorous teeth.

                Mason is powerless, staring up at Wake in pain

                and fear.

                                        WAKE:

                                You were once a warrior. Had I

                                not the eye of an eagle, and

                                the speed of a cheetah, you

                                would surely have removed my

                                head from my shoulders. I like

                                you.

                He leaps up, dragging Mason to his feet.

                                        WAKE:

                                Fight me some more.

                He taunts Mason with a series harmless boxing

                moves, then cuffs the man around the ear.

                Mason lashes out a heavy fist, missing by a

                margin as Wake ducks away with ease.

                                        WAKE:

                                Oh, but you have grown old.

                                Past your sale-by-date. For

                                you, I am so sorry to say,

                                time’s up.

                He is distracted by the sound of approaching

                hooves..

                                        WAKE: (impatiently)

                                Now what?

 

                11: INT. NIGHT. COWSHED.

                 Wozniak pursues the last of the cattle from

                the building.

 

                12: EXT. NIGHT. FARMHOUSE GARDEN.

                 Janice stumbles about in the dark. She finds

                the garden gate. As she begins to open it, she

                is forced back by the stampeding cattle.

                                       JANICE:

                                (calling desperately)

                                Peter!

 

                12A:(INTERCUT) EXT. NIGHT. FARMYARD.

                 Wozniak unlatches a barn door, then dashes on

                to the next, which he opens to reveal his car.

 

                12: EXT. NIGHT. FARMHOUSE GARDEN.

                 The stragglers from the stampede pass.

                Janice dashes out into the yard.

 

                13: EXT. NIGHT. COWSHED.

                 Janice finds a bloodied, and badly shaken

                Mason pressed against the cowshed wall. He

                stares at something unseen.

                                        JANICE:

                                George…where’s Peter?

                He does not respond. She follows his gaze…

                CUT TO JANICE’S POV.

                A figure lays trampled in the dirt several

                metres off.

                RESUME.

                Janice runs to the figure.

                A cat-like eye slowly opens. The voice is

                breathless and pained.

                                        WAKE:

                                My dear, you cannot imagine

                                how much I hurt. Hereon I

                                shall treat the common milk

                                cow with greater respect.

                Both are abruptly bathed in the light of

                Wozniak’s car headlamps.

                                        WOZNIAK:(oov)

                                (calling)

                                Jan, get away from it. Get

                                Mason.

 

                14: EXT. NIGHT. FARMYARD.

                 Wozniak and Jan bundle Mason into the rear

                seat of the car.

                All aboard, the car accelerates across the

                yard toward the rising Wake.

                Wake dives aside as the car sweeps through his

                position.

                He turns angrily, vainly spitting venom at

                the departing car.

                                        WAKE:

                                (sotto voce)

                                You’ll not cheat me, so

                                easily. I’ll identify you soon

                                enough; and when I do…

                THE SNORTING OF A LARGE ANIMAL…

                Wake is hesitant to turn around.

                                        WAKE:

                                Uh oh…

                He turns around to see a bull standing in the

                doorway of the barn.

He whips off his jacket, fluttering it before him.

                                        WAKE:

                                Ole!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2002

I remember a guy from one of the many production companies, whom I conversed with, being very impressed with my explicit camera directions. Pity I can’t bring that level of care and attention to my ‘regular’ writing.

Four episodes were later re-jigged to become my two ‘Causality Merchant’ books, Captive Echo and Present Imperfect. So it wasn’t a complete waste of my time and effort. And, who knows, maybe I’ll get to finish that third one I started in 2016.

 

Forcing the Grey Matter to Activate

Sometimes, when I’m bereft of fresh ideas for an Earplug Adventure, I utilise a little-known technique for forcing the issue called writer’s block. I visualise a location or scene. Then, having done so, I take one aspect of that location or scene, and create a title for the story that is yet to exist. I did it with The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah, and I’m doing it again. It was this picture that delivered the impetus to create…

It’s the Ethernet Cable End’s mud village from Plunging into Peril. I  thought: “Hang on, I’ve got loads of those cardboard inserts in the ‘studio’: better check ’em out.” And I did too…

Having done so, the title came to me. The Epoch of Dung. Sounds great. It’ll look great on the cover too.

So there it is: the next Earplug Adventure. I wonder what it’ll be like. Time travel, I wouldn’t be surprised.

What is Getting My Earplugs So Excited?

With the Earplug Adventure: Triple Threat now just a distant memory, something is causing the silicon populace of my attic to become even more animated than normal…

The clue to it’s identity comes from those coloured objects that appear to have the nearest earplugs in their thrall. Yes, it’s time to prepare for another adventure…

…which means sprucing up the make-up, and smoothing out the age-lines. Golly, the Supreme Being has his work cut out for him…

…Some of these earplugs are eight years old! But, be assured, they’ll be fighting fit and looking their best when the camera next rolls. All that’s needed is a script. Thinking cap on. Getting those little grey cells agitated is the key. What could the scenario be for the next tale? Surely the possibilities are endless. Any suggestions?

Earplugs Without Pictures 15

Ever wondered what the Earplug Adventures would look like minus the photos? Might their absence highlight the shortcomings of the writing? Well let’s find out, shall we? Here’s a couple of brief extracts. In this case from this rumbustious tale…


© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

Whilst Brother Hugo and Brother Austin took the time to reflect upon their impetuosity, far away in the Museum of Future Technology, the four young out-of-towners – Crudlove Twang, Fulham Peach, Fledgling McCormack, and Spodney Gridlock, had become friends, and now played on-line games together in Bazookas – one of the futuristic entertainment rooms. And it was probably because their juvenile minds were engaged in what was basically a mindless activity that they received the telepathic summons from the far away Buttox.

A half-hour later, with their wallets lightened considerably by the exorbitant price of a Transfer Conduit ticket, the foursome arrived in pea-farming country.

“Ooh,” Spodney said nervously, “I aint never been farther from home than the next town. Have we travelled a really long way?”

“It’s hard to tell with Transfer Conduits.” Fulham replied. “There’s no sense of distance or passage of time.”

“Where do we go now?” Fledgling asked Crudlove.

Crudlove looked around for inspiration. “Well,” she answered, “I suppose we’d better follow the instinct that brought us here. I feel an increase in altitude is required.”

Five minutes later they’d hired a hot air balloon, and now trusted their luck to the prevailing wind. Once airborne, Fledgling regretted Crudlove’s requirement for greater altitude, and he refused to look out of the window. So he never witnessed the sight of endless pea-farming country spread out beneath him. And he continued in this manner whilst feeling decidedly air-sick until the balloon ditched in the snow-covered mountains. Sadly they weren’t overly pleased with anything they found there. And when darkness fell they began to wonder why they’d followed their youthful impulses. But when morning arrived, they were greeted with a sight that gave them hope. The incessant winds had blown away much of the drifting snow – to reveal the surface features of the vast edifice that Buttox had found hidden beneath the ice.

AND…

A short while afterwards the group came across its first artificial structure, though they had no idea what a structure was, or that the word ‘artificial’ referred to something that wasn’t created by Mother Nature. The golden cable end then had them enter it, whereupon they were all encased inside an energy field that, when it had finished doing its pre-programmed work, it had brought them the concept of civilisation, an aversion to nudity, and toilets. In fact the latter was so successful that none of them wanted to be watched when they went for a pee. And others stood around feeling slightly embarrassed as someone farted accidentally when they sneezed.

But more was to follow. Much, much more. And that ‘much, much more‘ began with the invention of basic agriculture, which meant that they didn’t need to rely on nature to provide all of their requirements, and gave them the peace of mind of knowing that they would continue to eat through the winter months. And gaining a roof over their collective head – in the shape of cave-dwellings – would protect them from the weather and predators.

Although pleased as punch – at least initially – shortly their newly acquired intellect and creativity made them seek to improve their life style by building simple mud huts. But before the year was out, they’d developed two-storey wattle and daub constructions, which, when built en masse, quickly grew into a village, where cable ends could converse with each other in communal quadrangles, and could enjoy nice roof terraces with views of the distant hills, and rowdy neighbours with whom they could remonstrate and get into fist fights. And an inefficient sewage system that often overflowed and brought the risk of disease, damp carpets, and nasty pongs. But worse was to come when the village elders decided that the air was far too clean and rather ‘nippy‘ in the temperature gradient department and introduced the rudimentary log-burning stove with which the villagers could heat their homes and cook their meals. The resultant pollution forced the smarter inhabitants to create a suburban region on the outskirts of the only village upon the planet. They began with simple, single storey, stone-built edifices. But quickly added extensions to allow greater freedom, more bedrooms, and add value to the property. Eventually adding follies and luxurious towers from which they could look down upon the stupid villagers who stayed behind in their wattle and daub hovels.

Sadly, despite the gift of intellect and reason, the newly intelligent cable ends found it necessary to pray to the ‘gods’ and give thanks and to ask for more. And their prayers appeared to be answered, because soon their basic agriculture quickly expanded into a vast monoculture that stretched to the (very limited) horizon with linking tracks for easy access to the resultant crop. Then the golden cable end introduced the idea of cottage industry, which quickly escalated to the construction of a protective wall around the village to keep out any wandering Angling Land Lobster Squids, which, once winter finally arrived, meant that they beat their stupid heads against it in utter futility.

They also took the opportunity to invest time and energy in the development of the stair case and informative signage. And when, in the following spring, the cottage industry grew into a much larger affair, it meant that some cable ends could work the Night Shift, which gave them the necessary personal wealth to move into newly built concrete condominiums and to buy enough exterior emulsion to paint them a pleasant shade of yellow.

But still they prayed to their ‘gods’, because they couldn’t quite believe that (without the gods help) they were really smart enough to invent flush toilets, elasticated underpants, and construct a Nul-Space generator with which to power their growing civilisation.

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the Plunging Into Peril cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

 

Wattpad Ditched

After weeks of relentless uploading, and half-way through this fairly wondrous tale…

…I said, “Tooty, you only have one reader: why are you bothering?”

So I quit. That was a lot of effort for no gain – spiritual or otherwise. And some of the writing on Wattpad is utterly execrable. Makes the Earplug Adventures look like Shakespeare. Phew, glad to be free of that lot. Still, it was an experience to discover that all the awful things people say about Wattpad are true. Where next, I wonder? Any ideas, anyone?