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.