Tag Archives: alien worlds

Earplug Adventures: The Veil of Shytar (part 29)

If the Earplug Adventures were the NFL, this would be the last regular season game. Only the  Playoffs to come… 

Meanwhile high above them, the remnants of the Veil of Shytar appeared to be dissipating…

“Would you look at that!” Augustus Pronk exclaimed as his mauve companion looked across at him with an expressionless…er…expression

…“That would have been you – if we hadn’t dragged you away in an empty catering-sized tofu canister!”

“You have my gratitude, Augustus.” Mister Mauve replied. “But now that I exist outside of the artificial realm of the Veil of Shytar…what am I going to do?”

“I expect I’m officially decreed as deceased.” Pronk wagered. “The wife has probably re-married, and the kids have grown up. I still can’t stand the thought of living in a city again: so how about we live together in a cave somewhere? Failing that – a tent or beneath a tree or hedge – after they’ve grown some, of course. I look forward to seeing hedges: I’ve only ever read about them.” 

Mister Mauve might have replied to this kind offer of a life shared, but before he could, Bubbles yelled:

“Look: the veil: it’s faded away completely!”

And it had too!

Now only a brown dwarf star remained.

“Are you sure that’s bright enough to warm your planet?” Barclay asked Pronk doubtfully.

“Well if it isn’t,” Pronk replied, “we’d better get used to wearing snow shoes.”

“If that should happen,” Bubbles reminded Barclay, “the Goosewing Grey can always return with its gravitonic multiplicitor and move the planet formerly known as Worstworld to a closer orbit. I wonder what they’ll re-name it.”

“Don’t know: don’t care.” Pronk said to this. “What I am interested in is returning to my world: I’ve been gone a long time you know – and a male earplug can stand only so much gentle surf breaching upon sandy beaches.”

“You didn’t like it?” A surprised Mister Mauve asked.

“Not after Year Five.” Pronk replied. “If that cliff had been any higher, I swear I would have thrown myself from it. No, if I ever live beside water again, it will have to be very still – like a huge placid lake. Yes, that’d be nice.”

Pronk then addressed the earplug couple:

“Can you take me down there? I rather fancy to reconnoitre for somewhere to live. Maybe a cave. Maybe an old abandoned shack. Can we go?”

Well neither earplug at the controls could think of one good reason not to, so a few minutes later…

…the Prowler swept across the sandy desert upon which Fort Dunderhead stood. Already the Seventh Cavalry had begun their first patrol.

“I wonder what they expect to find.” Bubbles said.

“I imagine they’re just going through the motions.” Barclay opined. “You know, waiting to be told what to do by the central government – when it gets itself organised. It could take a while. Of course if they find any of that star material that made its way past the veil…well they could be in the money.”

Such was the vessel’s speed that by the time Barclay finished his lecture, it had carried them miles away…

“Barclay,” Bubbles chirruped excitedly, “that looks like open water. I’ve never seen it before. It must have been forced up by those huge impacts.”

“Didn’t you want a lake-side residence, Augustus?” Barclay inquired of the sole native present.

“As long as it isn’t brackish.” Pronk replied. “Can’t stand the taste of salt.”

Fortunately Bubbles had scanned through the user manual for the Prowler, so she was able to use the sensors to determine the salt content of the water below. “Looking good,” she said finally, “Wanna land?”

Shortly the Prowler’s engines cooled as the foursome disembarked and stood upon the unusually natural-coloured soil of Worstworld…

“This’ll do nicely.” Pronk said as he looked about him. “Yep. I noticed a small town as we flew over: it reminded me of Busted Gut. I know a few guys there: they should put me up for a while until I can find my feet, so-to-speak. You coming, Mister Mauve?”

Mister Mauve sniffed the air. “So this is reality, is it?” he said appreciatively, “Methinks I’ll sample a little of it. Yes, I will accompany you Mister Pronk. We can regale the citizens of Busted Gut with tales of the Veil of Shytar. That should pay for our supper – and breakfast too – just as long as it’s toast and not tofu.”

So Bubbles and Barclay made their farewells and promised to keep in touch, then blasted skyward again…

“Well you had your little adventure on Worstworld.” Barclay said as the Prowler gained altitude…

…”do you think it’s time to go home and face the music?”

In the name of clarity Bubbles asked:

“The Star Chamber, you mean?”

“Sir Loftus Pupe and all the other Chamber Pots.” Barclay said carelessly. “After what we’ve seen and done, I hardly think they are going to worry us any.”

“You’re right, Barclay,” Bubbles replied as the Prowler regained the freedom of outer space…

…”We’ll just say goodbye to Bonzer and the Goosewing Grey, and then be on our way.”

And that’s exactly what they did…

“Bye, Captain Dragonsrectum,” Bubbles called over the radio, “have a nice trip back to Scroton.”

“Safe journey, brave earplugs.” Bonzer replied. “May good fortune fill your sails.”

“Metaphorically speaking.” The Science Officer added in the background.

And they were gone – both ships disappearing into entirely different hyper-space conduits to entirely different destinations.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Next up will be the epilogue. But until then, shots of particular note are: 5, which began life as a sheet of insulation material that I burnt with a heatshrink gun, then placed upon a sheet of translucent plastic through which I shone a light. 6 is two slices of wood that I cut from an interesting length of 4×2, sandwiching a sheet of completely different insulation material. I’ve had the shot ready for at least three years; finally it gets its day in the spotlight. And 9: for this shot I needed something roughly spherical and with an interesting surface to represent the night side of Worstworld. Tooty the Chef came to the rescue by supplying a pleasant buttock.  As everyone knows, furry bums create convincing cloud patterns.

Earplug Adventures: The Veil of Shytar (part 25)

Rightly or wrongly, I figured that the sheer length of some of these extracts (rather than engaging readers) might be putting them off. Maybe they might stay with a thirty-second read, rather than spend a minute or so trying to make sense of my humour and writing style. So today’s episode shouldn’t have anyone looking at their wrist watch and sighing tetchily. Read on…

What the young earplugs heard as they walked between great mounds of edible detritus and empty food canisters in the basement of the Hotel Augustus Pronk, was the story of how Pronk had forced his way into the Veil by means of wire cutters; the subsequent accident that marooned him there; and the Veil’s willingness to create an environment in which he could live in relative comfort.

Bubbles was incredulous. “So the Veil made all this for you?” She said. “Whatever you need, it supplies?”

“Yup, pretty much.” Pronk replied. “I don’t stand there and ask for something: it’s not like that. I guess it reads my mind or something. It knows what I want, and does its best to give me that. It can’t give me a new spaceship or anything: but it can create a reality that suits me. I always wanted to live by the sea and walk beneath an open sky. Of course I couldn’t do either on Worstworld. That’s part of the reason why I ran out on the wife and kids to find a new world. I just wanted space and fresh air. But it has been a rather lonely existence. It’s nice to see you kids. Do you have a space ship to carry you home again?”

“We do.” Bubbles replied. “Do you have something to protect you from the vacuum of space? If so, we can take you home.”

By now they had passed from the basement of the hotel into a brief corridor…

“Kids,” Pronk said as they became aware of a strange mauve being standing in the corridor, “meet Mister Mauve. Please note that he casts no shadow. When I first encountered him I thought he was a hallucination. I mean – he casts no shadow: obviously he must be a product of my imagination. I treated him as such, until one day, when I accidentally spilt some hot coffee over him, he got really angry and punched me in the mouth. Since then I’ve treated him with a modicum of respect – though it’s hard to respect someone who punches you in the mouth. I got my own back though: I shoved his head down the toilet and pulled the flush cord. He follows me almost everywhere – except the toilet of course.”

“Did the Veil create him?” Barclay inquired.

“I don’t know.” Pronk answered, “He wouldn’t say.”

Pronk suddenly changed the subject:

“Hey, would you like a cup of coffee at Augie’s Bar?”

Both terrestrial earplugs were gasping for a coffee. “Please,” they said as one.

They didn’t have to wait long. The very next corner carried them into the bar. A bar that looked very familiar to them…

“Mister Pronk,” Bubbles squealed with a mixture of astonishment and delight, “you’ve got your very own Café Puke!”

Pronk seemed a little surprised at the view…

“I do, don’t I? When I got up this morning, this was Augie’s Bar. What the heck is the Café Puke?”

“Get us a glass of Crappachino,” Barclay said cheerfully, “and we’ll tell you all about it.”

Pronk wasn’t familiar with the barista’s equipment in a Café Puke outlet, but he managed to produce a Crappachino and an Iron Lungo…

“Oh, Mister Pronk,” Bubbles exclaimed, “how did you know I wanted an Iron Lungo?”

“I didn’t.” Pronk answered, “The Veil did. The Veil also knew you would feel more at home in a Café Puke. Ergo, we find ourselves in a Café Puke. But it’s still mauve – like Augie’s Bar.”

“And Mister Mauve.” Barclay noted.

“My favourite colour.” Pronk confirmed Barclay’s fledgling hypothesis.

“Then the Veil knows why we’re here?” Barclay continued.

“Odds-on, I’d say.” Pronk replied. “Why are you here?”

“To save Worstworld.” Mister Mauve spoke from the other end of the café.

Pronk turned an eye on the mauve apparition. “You gonna do it?”

Mister Mauve spent several seconds considering this. “Are we going to place ourselves at risk, to save a bunch of silicon life-forms who are too stupid to get up and leave?” He said.

“I think that’s what I said.” Pronk replied.

Mauve sighed audibly. “I suppose that’s why we’re here.” He said in a complaining tone that put Barclay’s to shame. “And that stupid star is about to go nova after all. Finish your coffees first though: I want to wash up the glasses before Armageddon.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Too short? Just right? Let me know.

For the Cafe Puke scene I saved time and energy by using a pre-existing set. A re-lighting, some furniture  moved around, and hey presto! Only the barista’s counter top is new.

Climatic Calamity (part 17)

If you pay close attention, you will find that in part 17 the padding mentioned in part 16 kinda dribbles out, and the story itself begins to move forward again. This is a good thing. Read on…

It was about at that time, but far away, outside the monastery in the mountain top citadel of Lemon Stone…

…when the recently appointed Father Superior – formerly known as Cyril Bucket – wandered out into the snow and had an excellent idea. Well he thought it was an excellent idea. Often, as he had gone about his previous business (as a grass verge mower) in Lemon Stone, he had paused to watch the atomic missile tests upon the plain below. He never forgot the image. So, using both his telephone and his ecumenical ‘clout’, he persuaded the missile technicians in their snowed-in facility that it would be a good idea to ‘nuke’ the storm. Frightened that they might lose their jobs, they agreed to try a few missiles on the ice-age, and duly launched them…

But it was all to no avail. They hadn’t worked well in perfect conditions: in the freezing cold and high winds, they simply fell from the sky like so many damp, but very expensive, squibs. But it wasn’t a complete loss: the resulting explosions were bright enough to guide some lost souls to safety…

…and give the technicians something to do – like clearing up the resulting mess and pulling duds out of the snow…

Shortly after that conditions worsened even further, so that even the armoured personnel carriers had to be brought inside…

…and parked on the main thoroughfares.

Chapter 7

Meanwhile, far across the gulfs of space, Erronious and Hellfire had successfully proceeded from the Drunkard’s Vomit; through an air lock; and thence into the habitable portion of Vacuum City…

Any concerns over the direction in which they should go were circumvented by signage that appeared before them as they approached…

Some of it could have been worded more respectfully – or so opined Hellfire…

Erronious agreed. “How rude!” He said in disgust.

As per his plan, Celestino maintained a respectful distance. Well actually he didn’t: he took an entirely different route…

In doing so he discovered a very important…ah…discovery

Despite being a recluse, the ‘See-er’ was well versed in things technological. It took him about three nanoseconds to recognise the vast yellow device as a library. However several complete seconds elapsed before he figured how to work it. In doing so he realised that it was a school teaching-machine, intended for children, the poorly educated, and dumbos.

“Oh dear,” he said silently to himself, “does that mean I’m a dumbo? Well I do live alone in a cave, so I suppose I must be. But whatever; let’s see what this thing has up its non-existential sleeve.”

What the machine had was…

…a user guide for another device that was kept elsewhere. Initially Celestino felt tempted to move on, but something stayed his feet. Might this lead him to the very secret he sought? It seemed too easy; but he wouldn’t allow that thought to become uppermost in his mental processes. Sometimes, he recalled, the best things in life are the simplest ones. Maybe it was also true of quests for antidotes to ice-ages. He stopped cogitating and pressed the ‘Play’ button.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Now I think you’ll agree, as padding goes, that padding was well worth including. It was very silly. It was actually inspired by a rumour I once heard that when Donald Trump was in the White House, he suggested protecting New Orleans (or somewhere in that hurricane-stricken area) by ‘nuking’ the approaching hurricane. Whether this was true, I don’t know: but I thought I’d add my version to this story anyway.

Wallpapers of the Tooty Kind

Having concluded my important task of the day (I can do only one per day: two taxes my memory too much), I sat myself in front of my laptop and began fiddling with some pictures I took whilst on a wander through a tranquil graveyard the day previous. This is what caught my attention…

A novel step over a flint wall – complete with hole for slipping a foot into, or allowing a small dog to pass. The scene itself makes a pleasant wallpaper. But I felt that the hole was the real star. So, on my first pass I created…

…a scene through a window on an ice planet. Hmmm, might use that in an Earplug Adventure. My second pass brought forth…

…the interior of a defensive position during battle. Hmmm, might use that one too. And on my third pass I created…

…the view from a cell in an alien prison. And it was this one that gave me an idea for another Age of Stone story. If, during the Age of Stone, all technology is based upon rocks and stuff, then  surely they would make their star ships from stone too!  Have to put my thinking cap on now. Could this be the forty-second Earplug Adventure e-book in the making? Bloody hope so: I don’t have any other ideas!