Tag Archives: art

Earplug News 24/7: Vandalism Rife

Crowds flocked to the lower levels of the Museum of Future Technology when insulting graffiti was discovered by a patrolling RoboSecGua. Chief Curator, Cushions Smethwyke, remarked: “But I don’t smell. Not in the least. I’m entirely aroma-free. But if I did – it would be of lavender and rose petal!”

Earplug News 24/7: Drones to the Corporate Rescue

Stating falling sales in their traditional outlets as the reason why Cafe Puke have adopted a high-tech approach to future operations, the company have begun delivering their infamously vile coffee via drone to their most high-profile customers. An unnamed Cafe Puke representative was heard to mutter: “What next: Magnuss  Earplug calling in for a croissant from the comfort of his palatial lavatory seat? Where will it all end?”

 

 

Galactic Newsletter: Earth Becomes a Battleground

Consternation abounded, and the security forces of the Museum of Future Technology were alerted, when two warring alien species dipped into the atmosphere of Earth to fight their final battle.  Fortunately for all concerned, the silver ships were out of ammunition, and the red ship’s gunners were all trainees who couldn’t shoot straight…

Earplug News 24/7: Devastation!

Reports are coming in of an accidental conflagration during the preliminary round of the National Farting Contest. A concerned Magnuss and Hair-Trigger Earplug are reported to have said: “Flipping heck – there’s no way they’re gonna hold the finals here: we’ll have to go somewhere else!”

 

An Empty Shampoo Bottle and a 20 Second Giff

Remember Triple Threat: Hell Unleashed? The awful 20 second giff that featured a trio of earplugs destroying something with a laser cannon? Here’s a shot from it…

Well I rather fancied writing an Earplug Adventure that featured them…

A story about a bunch of accident-prone idiots getting into deep shit trouble, then finding redemption by saving the day (of course). But I couldn’t think of a story line – until I finished an interestingly-shaped bottle of shampoo. After drying (what remains of) my hair, I took the top and the bottom off the bottle. I then delved into my many boxes of plastic bits and pieces, which included other shampoo bottle tops, catheter nozzles and a wind-up flashlight. Shortly I introduced the separate parts to a tube of superglue. The result – after adding a coat of black paint – was this…

 

Too matt to see clearly? Check this out…

It’s a submarine/space ship freighter. Yes, a space ship that can travel under the sea. What could three accident-prone idiots do with that if they stowed away, then managed to lose the crew, and had to take control themselves? Well the sky – and the depths – are the limit…

The story will be titled Triple Threat. The principal  character names are Bunty Bridgewater, Ginger Slack, and Daisy Woodnut. The ship/sub, at present, remains unnamed. But I’m confident something suitably ridiculous will pop into my mind when the need arises. Watch this space!

 

 

Galactic Newsletter: Stopped in Their Tracks

The First Fleet of Scroton was stopped dead in space recently by the appearence of a gigantic inflatable head. “Thou shall not pass into this realm.” the head informed them. Unaware that it was nothing more than a gas-filled bag with an aging cassette tape recorder attached, the First Fleet retired to Scroton Space immediately, and much hilarity ensued in Scroton Prime’s Universidad Principal…

The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah – Complete and Completely Free!

As is my usual practice, the complete e-book becomes available to the general public prior to the posting of the final episode. Why I do it that way, I just don’t know. And, of course, since I no longer publish them on Lulu-com in EPUB form, they are not (strictly speaking) proper e-books. But PDF is a reasonable compromise, and I’ve not heard anyone complaining. So here it is. Just click on the cover image to unleash the file, which you can either read on-line or download for later consumption.

Earplug News 24/7: Shock For Beach Users

A rocky beach, popular with earplugs, received an unexpected gift this morning. A radio-active turd, rumoured to belong to the Supreme Being, fell from the sky. Within minutes crowds began to form, and lightweight walkways needed to be assembled quickly by local council workers. Those who ventured nearest are now complaining that they are rapidly mutating into raspberries and other carbon-based life-forms.

 

Earplug Life Wallpaper: Religious Icons: Visitations to the Concrete Toadstool

If you’re an earplug with a wonky knee, a weeping sore, the heebee-geebees, cracked nipples, or an annoyingly itchy foreskin, it’s believed that a visit to the Concrete Toadstool will alleviate the aforementioned conditions, and many more besides. Consequently evening pilgrimages are common sights during the warmer months. When its cold and wintry, earplugs just can’t be arsed to go outside, and will probably wait until spring.

Magnuss & Hair-Trigger Wallpaper: Honeymoon Snap 1: Exploring a Space Derelict

The best thing about having your own honeymoon barge is that you can stop whenever and wherever you want. In this case the silicon heroes have adorned themselves with  protective bubbles and gone exploring a wrecked space ship.

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 24)

It has been a lot of fun creating The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah, and I’m just sorry that it has to end. But end it must, and this is one of the final episodes. We’re nearly done here. Booooo. Anyway, enjoy the remnants…

Chapter 8

Whilst revelation piled upon revelation inside the excavated fiord, far away from Tah-Di-Tah the crew of the Chuck Winker had quickly recognised the fact that they had bitten off way more than they could chew. Every weapon they had was being brought to bear upon a foe so numerous that they were beyond counting…

And the Tankerville Norris had sustained so much damage that it was forced to flee back to Tah-Di-Tah. It fairly fell through the atmosphere – spilling drive plasma as it did so…

Further, although the cavalry were accounting for many of the shots aimed at them…

…some missed completely, and now rained deadly fire down upon the surface of Tah-Di-Tah…

One stray shot, in particular, almost caught the Tankerville Norris a potentially crushing blow as it raced across the surface at almost zero altitude…

To their credit, some of the local population responded well to the Tankerville Norris’ original request for military assistance. A farmer’s co-operative had banded together to pack as much phosphate-based fertilizer as they could into an old, dilapidated space-tug. When it was full, they lit a fuse and launched it at the incoming space fleet…

It was a bold initiative by a bunch of tractor-drivers; but ultimately it was doomed to failure. No sooner had it passed through the clouds, when a stray shot caught it amidships…

“Bugger,” one of the members of the farmer’s co-operative was heard to utter, “If I want my fields to deliver a decent crop, come harvest time, I’m gonna have to use excrement on ‘em. And there’s only me and the wife!”

The situation in space was little better. In fact it was awful. An alien energy beam knocked out the Chuck Winker’s main armament…

For those on the bridge, this was nothing less than calamitous. Wetpatch looked to Jo. “It has been an honour serving with you, Jo.” He said gravely.

A terrified Jo looked back. “What you mean, during our time in the cavalry in general; or this little escapade?”

“Both,” Wetpatch answered. “And now we’re sitting ducks – just waiting for the coup de grace.”

“We could always turn off the lights and adopt stealth mode and creep away unnoticed.” Scroda Hootner suggested.

It was an excellent suggestion: so they did…

…and the aliens were left shooting at shadows.

“Fine cavalry-plugs we are,” Wetpatch grumbled in the subdued lighting, “sitting around in the dark. And I never even got to shout ‘Charge!’”

“And I forgot to pack my bugle.” Miguel admitted, somewhat shamefaced.

“What, so now we just hang around and hope all the bad guys go away?” Jo complained. “There must be some way to get to the planet. Can we hoist a solar sail or something?”

“Well we could try something called The Dark Energy Drive.” Jollie Huggup said as he peered at his darkened read-outs. “I’ve got the start button here – I think.”

Moments later…  

…the Dark Energy Drive kicked in, and they departed the region of space behind a ‘smoke’ screen of exotic particles.

An hour later…

“Tah-Di-Tah coming up, Wetpatch.” Miguel Angel-Grinder announced. “No obvious planetary defences. Want us to go in on the night side?”

With the alien fleet just an hour behind them, Wetpatch considered this suggestion the wisest course of action…

“Sure,” he said, “but we’ll have to turn the lights up a bit: I don’t wanna press the wrong buttons and do something really stupid like disconnect the Infinite Reality Drive or eject the lavatory.”

But, having done so, they became aware of an important fact…

“It’s the sodding fleet!” Jo yelled with despair. “They must have given up shooting at nothing and followed us here!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 23)

So, as the end nears, you must enjoy  every crumb and morsel of the tale. Pay close attention to the science-fiction cliches that I toss about with abandon: it might make some sense. Read on…

When that didn’t work he tried kicking the device with his space-sandal-shod feet. Moments later the pod popped open, which allowed the only animated earplugs in the room to drag the body from it…

“She doesn’t look very well.” Hair-Trigger opined.

Magnuss had to agree – especially when the female earplug’s tongue lolled…

“Oh, I was right the first time.” Hair-Trigger said matter-of-factly. “We are too late; but only just.”

But then, to confound her and make her appear a liar, the earplug rolled into an upright position and coughed several times…

“Jeepers,” she croaked, “What am I doing here? Where am I? Is there a lavatory nearby?”

Then, as her senses returned and memories flooded back into her consciousness, she dashed to the control panel and began operating it feverishly…

“You’re the rescue team,” she said over her shoulder, “I must awaken everyone else. We’ll need to build another facility in another fiord. Somewhere to the North perhaps. I like fiords. Some prefer deserts – but the air is just too dry for me: I can’t spit.”

Neither newlywed wanted to interrupt the earplug from another era: clearly she wasn’t totally compos mentis quite yet. It would take time for her to discover mental equilibrium, especially if it was really her detached consciousness that Magnuss had sensed earlier. He was about to say something like; “Poor female, she must be so confused: she probably doesn’t know her arse from her elbow”, when he noticed something unusual about her.

“Hairy,” he whispered, “doesn’t she look like Madame Nellie!”

Hair-Trigger shifted mental gears. “Yes.” She said. “But it makes no sense: she can’t be Madame Nellie. And even if they have some kind of vision projector that might have placed her image inside her tent and hovel, it doesn’t explain how the image could have given those two local earplugs one hundred Smackeroos. In any case – she was in suspended animation.”

“But her consciousness recognised us when we automatically activated the advanced tech when we entered the village.” Magnuss argued. “How else could our images have been transmitted on that huge wall screen?”

Whilst this perplexing conversation was taking place, the scientist from the past had successfully reanimated every occupant of the room’s hibernation pods. They now stood, looking slightly dazed, awaiting an instruction…

“Right then, team.” The pale green earplug bellowed, “I know you’re all feeling a bit worse for wear, but fear not; our rescuers have arrived. Look here they are.”

She then turned to Magnuss and Hair-Trigger. She said: “Perhaps you’d like to instruct them where to go? Oh, and maybe you could introduce yourselves to them. That would be a nice way to break the ice, so-to-speak. Excuse the pun – what with this being a suspended animation centre and everything.”

This was the opportunity Magnuss had been waiting for since he’d had a sudden and inspired idea. Or about fifteen seconds, give or take a second.

“Surely you should introduce us to your team.” He said. “Protocol and everything.”

Without questioning his ridiculous suggestion, the pale green earplug said: “Sure: Team – this is Magnuss and Hair-Trigger Earplug: they…” She stopped abruptly. “How did I know that? How could I possibly have known that?”

”You are the village psychic.” A yellow individual with bulging white eyes spoke from the opposite end of the room. “When we go into suspended animation, our brains don’t cease to function entirely. Some of us dream and live lives that are unreal but seem real – to us. It’s only a theory that I’ve just thought up, but it might be possible that instead of dreaming, you could have been leading a vicarious life. That is, you may have used the mind and body of someone else to experience a true reality. If anyone could, it would be you. It would explain the seemingly inexplicable situation you now find yourself in.”

“That’s what I was thinking too.” Magnuss spoke before anyone else did and thereby confuse him. “By the way, may I call you Nellie? That’s the name you’ve been going by during your vicarious life as a fortune teller in the local bazaar.”

A dumbfounded ‘Nellie’ nodded her permission. She then watched and listened as Magnuss and Hair-Trigger told them everything that they knew, which included the fact that centuries had passed; the planet was now named Tah-Di-Tah; and that an alien invasion fleet was mere hours away…

“So,” Hair-Trigger said in conclusion, “if you can get your ‘Lines’ kick-started, and make them do whatever it is they do to rid us of the threat of subjugation or extermination, we – and everyone on Tah-Di-Tah – would be very grateful.”

“You got it.” They replied in unison, and raced from the room.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 18)

Welcome to another (not terribly) exciting episode…

Shortly, having crossed Fort Balderdash to the Non-Commissioned Officer’s mess…

…Jo and Wetpatch let themselves in, where they had to first push aside an unserviceable all-terrain attack vehicle so that they could access the sole com-panel allowed by the cavalry’s restricted budget…

“There is only one guy in the universe that can get us out of this kaka.” Wetpatch had said as they departed Major Leftfoot Badger’s office. “So we’d better pray that he’s still in the museum.”

A minute later the panel lit up to reveal Nigel – the Golden One; his unnamed personal assistant; and Walker Crabtrouser – Chief of the Scrotonic Armed Forces, about to board their spaceship home…

“Wait!” Wetpatch yelled in near-panic. “Golden One, we have great need of your help!”

Naturally, being a reasonable guy and all-round good egg, Nigel paused his entry into the ship’s airlock. “Cavalryplugs.” He said as he recognised the staff sergeant’s uniforms. “I will always make time for the military. How can I help you?”

Quickly Wetpatch explained the situation – to which Nigel held up a hand in an attempt to stay the sergeant’s tongue further. “The Omnipresent Scanner problem can be explained thus.” He said. “The Tankerville Norris is equipped with a latest-generation Gravitic Multi-Thingamy-Whatsit, which makes it impervious to multi-phasic scans over vast distances. But as regards to actually finding them…well I’m not sure how I can offer assistance.”

“We wondered if you might lend us a ship.” Jo blurted. “We could go look for them. Space is big – but not so big that a concerted effort wouldn’t be completely unsuccessful – probably – maybe – if we looked really hard.”

“Oh dear.” Nigel said as he turned to Walker Crabtrouser for help. “I do believe we disassembled the ships that Magnuss rejected. And, unfortunately, the assembly instructions were used by a junior rating who couldn’t find the lavatory paper cupboard, and used them to…ah…well I leave it to your imagination.”

Wetpatch and Jo were crestfallen. Now all they could do was hope that the information about the Gravitonic Multiplicitor’s effect on the Omnipresent Scanner would be enough to placate Cushions and Hunting. But Walker Crabtrouser had an idea…

“Golden One,” He said slowly – as his thoughts coalesced and allowed him to speak, “I think I might have a partial answer to their prayers.”

Then, in Scrotonic, he explained. He finished with: “Well – Whatta ya think?”

“Inform the Captain that there will be a delay in our departure.” Nigel said to his Personal Assistant. Then, to Wetpatch and Jo…

…he said: “Gentlemen, it appears that I was a tad premature. There was a fourth vessel assembled from flat-pack; but no one thought that Magnuss would be attracted by a stripped-down, black-ops, stealth ship. It’s in our hold, with just a few bungee cords holding it down. I’ve got some scissors to snip them – if you’re interested of course.”

Two hours later an almost-invisible craft climbed silently into the night sky…

It scented the vacuum of space for the spore of its sister-ship – the Tankerville Norris. And having detected its ion trail, set out in pursuit…

And (nominally) at the controls…

…sat Wetpatch Wilton and Jo Frayzer.

“Ooh-er,” Jo said appreciatively, “this ship sure can motor, can’t it, Wetpatch?”

To which Wetpatch replied…

…”Flipping heck, yeah.”

Then, to the other four cavalry-plugs who had volunteered to act as crew, he added: “Any ideas what we call this baby?”

Naturally, being of long-standing in the military of Worstworld, they weren’t used to giving their imaginations free reign. They all came up empty. So it was left to Jo to make a suggestion…

“Um,” he began, “how about we let the ship choose its name? It’s probably got a better idea than any of us. What about it, Ship?”

And, like the other ships that had been created from the designs taken from Bunk-Bunk Benson, the ship spoke its name in utter silence. But the crew now knew that they were aboard the Chuck Winker, which surprised them because Chuck Winker was a terrestrial actor who starred in Magnuss Earplug’s favourite science-fiction show, Destination: The Stars.

“Whilst I’ve been here on Earth”, the ship then explained, “I’ve been watching re-runs on cable TV. They’re really very good. I like Chuck Winker: I think he has real on-screen presence. I’ve downloaded all the episodes. When I get back to Scroton, I intend to re-transmit them world-wide. I know what you’re thinking – but we have no copyright laws on Scroton, so it’ll be fine.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

What Happens When…

…you give a creative genius a camera: a light wand; half a cereal box with an asymmetric ‘window’ cut-out…

…and set said creative genius loose on a laptop?

No…we’ve had that picture already, dumb-ass. You get…

…Hair-Trigger’s stylish new winter hat!

P.S Nice apartment. Perhaps a tad minimalist.

P.P.S Thank  Amazon Echo’s Alexa for correctly spelling ‘asymmetric’ and ‘minimalist’. It’s a well-known fact that creative genii can’t spell for toffee.

Earplug Adventures Wallpaper: Above the Clouds (with the Tankerville Norris)

The ‘clouds’ were created by pouring boiling water into an empty laundry fabric conditioner bottle so that it contorted in an interesting and creative manner. The dark area to the bottom left reminded me of the coast during the million times I’ve flown in and out of Alicante Airport through the years. To think – that could be me aboard the Tankerville Norris!

P.S Fancy reading an entire Earplug Adventure? Click HERE!

Succinct Cover Art

Unusually, for an Earplug Adventure, the story (and cover art) for The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah were all complete, spell-checked, listened to (using Natural Reader), and ready for conversion to PDF format long before the final few episodes appear on-line. But, since the tale is an on-line serial, I shall refrain from publishing the finished e-book/file until the penultimate episode appears – which is the usual way of things in Tootyland. But just as a taster for anyone who is planning to download the great masterpiece of silicon life – to share with friends, family, total strangers, and anyone who looks like they might be into strange stuff – here is the cover art. It isn’t flashy. It doesn’t display an exciting moment from the story. Instead I thought it should show the two stars – looking slightly puzzled. After all  they are earplugs, and this is an earplug mystery.

So now you know what to look for when it appears on the All Earplug Adventures in PDF Format Unexpurgated & FREE! page.

P.S You don’t need to wait to visit the page: there are 41 other Earplug Adventures there, gagging to be read.

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 13)

Unlucky number thirteen? No way: no Earplug Adventure episode could be considered unlucky: they are all wonderful. Check this one out!

Meanwhile, back at the Museum of Future Technology, the situation was anything but quiet…

There had been a double reactor breach, and the tops of two towers had been blown off. But, for the museum’s Avatar, this was not the main subject of conversation. Whilst Valentine and Wah-Hey were taking the post-supper air, the Avatar accosted them on the up-ramp that led to the Café Puke…

“Hello, Valentine. Greetings Wah-Hey.” she said as she walked backwards before them, “any news from Magnuss?”

“Ah, that’d be a negative, Avatar.” Valentine replied. “We aint heard a squeak outta the little guy. Guess he’s having a good time and don’t wanna share it with his bros – know what I mean?”

Although, as an automaton, the Avatar didn’t require oxygen, she nevertheless took a deep breath before saying: “Well it’s like this, Valentine: Cushions is getting very worried. She even got her best Omnipresent Scanner operatives out of bed to help her locate the Tankerville Norris

Even the museum’s A.I’s cheerful suggestions didn’t help. They simply couldn’t find it. In the end they took themselves off to the Café Puke…

…for a stiff double Café Cortado and a bag of Churros.  

Their evening stroll forgotten, Valentine grabbed Rudi, Chester, and Miles. They found Cushions remembering happy recent events in the Grand Hall…

“Hey, Cushions,” Rudi opened without preamble, “what gives with the Omnipresent Scanner? It can’t find Magnuss? That can’t be right: it can see everywhere!”

Cushions confirmed this commonly held believe. She also confirmed its utter failure to detect their middle brother. “Officially we’re posting him as ‘Missing in Action’. Of course we’ll try again in the morning.”

It was a disconsolate bunch of earplugs who wandered back to their quarters…

They had attempted a telepathic link with him. But even returning to the place of their last triumph – the Age of Stone exhibit – could not succeed in making contact. And Chester, bless him, couldn’t help but conjure up terrible images of monsters that might have consumed the newlyweds…

And if they’d known what was really happening to Magnuss, they would have realised why they couldn’t contact him…

He and Hair-Trigger had visited a fairground, where he tried on a helmet named The Excruciator. It was supposed to be excruciating; and it was! So much so that he simply couldn’t think straight. So Hair-Trigger took it off him and suggested he try the Wobbly Buggy Ride. It was not her best idea…

…because his motion sickness kicked in almost instantly; and he was sick all over the dashboard. So she took him to the canal walkway to recover…

“This is better.” He said as his bile receded…

…”and that canal is so effervescent. I wonder if anyone would complain if we partook of a dip in it.”

But, even if that were so, the proximity of a trio of young females (who would never approve of the sight of soggy underpants) was the deciding factor against the idea. So they revisited the bazaar area…

…where they encountered a pair of local earplugs…

At first the newlyweds were suspicious of the strangers; but when the pale earplug said: “You look like a pair of impressionable youngsters.” and the darker individual added, “You should visit Madame Nellie: she’s a fortune teller.” They knew all was well.

“Thank you, kind sirs.” Hair-Trigger replied. “Could you point us in her direction?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

There – I told you!

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 12)

No preamble: just story…

But time is a great healer, and five minutes later the happy couple were on their way for a pre-disembarkation tinkle…

Then it was just a matter of catching the courtesy shuttle bus to the space port’s largest hotel – Hotel Gilb…

As a blue earplug guided them to their room…

…Magnuss noted that the authorities on Tah-Di-Tah seemed very keen on giving their noteworthy structures four-letter monosyllabic names. He recited the three with which he was familiar: “Snid, Glob, and Gilb.” He said.

To which the blue earplug responded: “Yeah, guess so. Got a tip?”

Once inside their room, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger elected to wash away the sweat of fear that had accumulated upon their silicon skin since encountering the doomed turquoise planet…

But were really cheesed off when they discovered that the bubble bath had a built-in timer. They had just enough time to rinse off before all the water drained away. Then, following a quick peek out of their high-level window at the bright lights of the City…

…it was time to hit the streets…

Initially those streets seemed almost empty. But, as they followed the signs that would take them to the bazaar, the crowds began to build…

In fact the central thoroughfare became almost crowded…

…with more and more thrill-seeking visitors arriving with every passing second. Magnuss and Hair-Trigger slipped in unobtrusively behind a pair of Ethernet Cable Ends who could only have come from Scroton…

Magnuss was tempted to engage them in conversation, and perhaps boast of his friendship with their leader. But a dig in the ribs from Hair-Trigger put paid to that idea. So instead he decided to savour the atmosphere, and try to identify as many different species as he could…

And there were a lot of them – including a happy pair of enormous Polystyrene Blobs…

…one of whom (and much to the distress of her partner, wanted to whip off her knickers and jump in the canal…

Cripes, Hairy,” Magnuss whispered, “this is all so cosmopolitan. I’m feeling decidedly parochial here. Look at those unusual long-snouted earplugs: I’ve never seen that species before. I wonder where they originate?”

Of course, during her bounty-hunting career, Hair-Trigger had visited many worlds with their fair share of strange beings. She was less impressed than her husband. But she was mildly shaken when one of the Cable Ends fell head first, down an open drain and, as a direct result, broke wind both violently and pyrotechnically…

This incident was the turning point for Magnuss…

“I think we need to find somewhere quieter. Follow me.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 11)

This is it. They’ve made it to Tah-Di-Tah. Now, maybe we’ll discover what these ‘lines’ are all about. Or maybe not: the reveal should be long and circumbendibus.

Soon the ship followed a guide beam down through the atmosphere, where Magnuss and Hair-Trigger watched a solitary road and open veldt pass by below them…

“I suppose that is a road.” Magnuss said. “I can’t quite get a grip on scale. It could be a garden path.

“No,” Hair-Trigger replied, “it’s definitely a road: look, there’s a river too.”

The river that Hair-Trigger had noticed emptied into a fabulous lake, which, by chance, the Tankerville Norris passed over at low altitude…

…before banking sharply in an azure sky…

…and heading towards the night side of the planet.

Chapter 4

The world of Tah-Di-Tah was settling into dusk as the Tankerville Norris raced towards its destination…

The ship had informed Magnuss and Hair-Trigger of the many differing facets of the planet’s vacation centre. The first that hove into view was the much-anticipated Castle Snid, which, due to poor light, was quite hard to see on their view screen…

…but, had they been standing on a rocky knoll nearby, would have appeared almost majestic in the misty moonlight…

The aforementioned mist was just thinning when they arrived at the space ship landing area…

Hair-Trigger was surprised to note the paucity of ships parked there…

“Must be the off-season.” Magnuss conjectured.

“Do paradise planets have off-seasons?” A doubtful Hair-Trigger responded.

Magnuss thought about it for a few moments, before concluding: “They must have hiked their prices to unreasonable levels; so everyone is staying away until they come back down again.”

This sounded far more logical to Hair-Trigger, and she blessed the Saint of All Earplugs for bringing Magnuss and her together.

“Oh look,” she said, “it’s the SS Glob.”

This surprised her husband. “Are you familiar with the SS Glob?” He inquired.

Hair-Trigger shook her head. “No-no, it’s just that it’s got its name emblazoned on the hull in huge letters: I figured it must be famous or something.”

“I hope they’re friendly.” Magnuss said as the Tankerville Norris manoeuvred into a landing posture, “That ship is a heck of a lot bigger than this one.”

For a moment it seemed that Magnuss had tempted fate once too often: suddenly the bridge was illuminated by a blazing light that almost blinded its occupants…

Magnuss reacted with pure survival instinct: “What the flipping heck is this?” He yelled. “Arm the proton torpedoes!”

But the ship ignored his outburst, and landed safely beside the SS Glob…

“Oh,” a relieved Magnuss chuckled at his foolishness, “it’s just a sensor beam.”

“A very bright one,” Hair-Trigger grumbled. “I’ve still got retinal after-images.”

Magnuss had exactly the same problem. “Yeah,” he mumbled. “They must be a nosey bunch of sods aboard the SS Glob: we didn’t sensor-beam them: why did they sensor-beam us? I think it’s really rude. If I knew their com-frequency, I’d give them a mouthful of verbal abuse.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

They’re down…on Tah-Di-Tah. I can feel the excitement rising and anticipation mounting like a rutting stag. Return again for the next thrilling episode.

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 10)

Ten episodes in and it still feels like the story is only really beginning. Magnuss and Hair-Trigger need to get their collective arse into gear!

Moments later the couple went their separate ways, and Magnuss found himself in the most futuristic male lavatory that he’d ever seen…

“Oh,” he sighed with relief, “I’ll never want to use a regular loo again. So why did they put it so far away from the bridge? I wonder what the girl’s toilet is like?”

But when they re-entered Engineering, Hair-Trigger appeared a whole lot less impressed than Magnuss…

And to Magnuss’ probing question she replied: “Bunk-Bunk Bunsen was a male – right? Obviously he had little idea of female anatomy. He really should have asked for advice first. If we ever meet him, I’m going to get the boot in first, okay?”

Magnuss smirked at this. “I can always empty the bucket for you.” He offered.

But Hair-Trigger wouldn’t rise to the bait. Instead she decided to find out what the central ‘table’ in Engineering actually did…

“Information and schematics,” Magnuss said as he nodded appreciatively. “And all displayed in the air before us. Very nice.”

Neither of them was particularly interested in schematics, and numbers just confused the heck out of them. So they decided to head back in the direction of the bridge…

But before long the conversation drifted to the subject of Tah-Di-Tah. Both were aware that it was a paradise world upon which many citizens of advanced worlds vacationed: but little else.

“How do we pay?” Magnuss asked.

“Where do we park our ship?” Hair-Trigger countered.

It seemed that, between them, they had a thousand and one questions – none of which they could answer. But, as they entered the bridge…

…they realised that the Tankerville Norris would have all the information they required. All they needed to do was ask. So they sat themselves down and did just that…

For the first time since coming aboard, the ship chose not to communicate telepathically. Instead it spoke its answers: “Nigel – the Golden One – has a line of credit on Tah-Di-Tah.” It said. “You are his guests: you need not concern yourselves with such trivia. Just enjoy yourselves. By the way – we’ll be arriving in less than an hour, so keep yourselves entertained until then.”

So, as the Tankerville Norris advanced towards its destination…

…the occupants did as they were bid. First of all Hair-Trigger checked out the multi-media library…

Then they chased each other around the bridge…

Then returned for a second visit to the lavatory…

…before settling themselves in the bridge…

…to watch their approach to Tah-Di-Tah…

And what a beautiful world it was too…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Is that right? Have they actually reached Tah-Di-Tah? Well thank the Saint of All Earplugs for that!

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 5)

Going back to the well again. A well that’s in need of refilling, I might add. But until it dries up…here’s some more earplug action!

Moments later, having been shown the stairs that led down to the conveyor belt bay, and whilst their wedding guests line-danced to the music of Las Bragas…  

…Magnuss and Hair-Trigger began searching for a way into the vessel… 

 And it didn’t take long either. But once inside… 

 …confusion reigned.  

“Oh, this is all so alien.” Hair-Trigger observed. “They did say that Bunk-Bunk Bunson was an earplug, didn’t they? This doesn’t look like earplug technology to me: not even from the future.”

 But they needn’t have worried unduly: it was just a weird type of air-lock that they were unfamiliar with. Further into the interior of the ship, normality resumed…

 “Look,” a relieved Hair-Trigger said as they passed a portal that displayed an image of  what space would look like, once the ship had taken off of course,  “a fancy interface panel and an arrow – pointing towards the bridge.”

“Oh well,” Magnuss replied cheerfully, “in that case I think it’s best we follow it.”

Although, by space ship standards, the Tankerville Norris was no behemoth; it was kinda large for two earplugs. It took them almost five minutes to find their way to the bridge. But when they did, they were mightily impressed…  

The lighting was clearly in hibernation mode, but even by its feeble illumination, it was clear to the newlyweds that the ship was advanced beyond their comprehension – though they did notice that one of the chairs, which they assumed were pilot positions, sat slightly askew. Then a pair of mauve lights chose that moment to burst into gentle incandescent life…

Hair-Trigger was on the point of squealing with delight, when suddenly the main lights came on, and the askew pilot’s chair straightened itself automatically…  

“Wow,” Magnuss uttered breathlessly, “and I didn’t even have to clap my hands or anything!” 

Then, ignoring the fact that there was no obvious view screen in front of the pilot’s position, they rushed forward for a reverse view of the self-straightening chair…  

“I’d like one of these in our rented apartment.” Hair-Trigger stated her appreciation of the technology that now confronted her. “Every time I clip it with the vacuum cleaner or fall over it in a drunken stupor – and send it into a dizzying spin – I won’t need to put it straight again!” 

Magnuss was amused by this; but he was also concerned that the chairs looked very heavy and uncomfortable. “They’ve got lots of technological lumps on the back of them.” He said. “I wonder if we can feel them through the futuristic padding?” 

Well the only answer to that question was to test them…  

“You first, Missus Earplug.” Magnuss said. 

“No-no, no one should go first.” Hair-Trigger replied. “We are a team. We’re one – you and I: we’ll sit down at the same time – together.”

So they did…   

But as they settled themselves into the chair’s luxurious embrace, they became aware of an X, with little lights at every point, as it appeared in the air before them. Of course they had no idea what it meant. And it was at that juncture that they noticed the absence of a main view screen.

“I wish we had a user’s manual.” Hair-Trigger said. Then she had a sudden thought: “Belay that,” she added, “I think I know what that is. In fact I get the distinct feeling that I know a lot more about this ship’s workings than I should.”

Realisation struck Magnuss like a football boot up the rear end. “Of course,” he roared in understanding and comprehension, “when we couldn’t see the bridge properly, the lights came on. When you spotted the off-set chair, it righted itself. And now that the ship knows that we want a main view screen…”

But he got no further, because…  

…the X was replaced by a holographic view of what lay outside the Tankerville Norris. 

“Flipping heck,” Magnuss exploded, “we’re no longer inside the museum: we’re floating outside!” 

And they were too…  

This time Hair-Trigger did squeal with delight. “Whatever we think – consciously or sub-consciously – the ship responds. Oh Magnuss: we don’t need to learn how to fly this ship. We don’t even need an auto-pilot: it’s just reads our minds!” 

People in the museum had become aware that the Tankerville Norris had become airborne. Wherever they were, and whatever they were supposed to be doing, they all stopped to watch events unfold on the museum’s giant public screens…  

They watched – some of them in stunned silence; others with very squeaky bottoms – as the beautiful blue vessel eased away and levitated above the nearby estuary…  

…where a pair of tourists – Clive and Indigo Firebush – were engaged upon a kayaking holiday…    

…and who wondered what had caused a momentary shadow to cross their path and frighten them witless – especially after having looked upwards where they could see nothing but open sky.

Of course the reason why they could detect no sign of the Tankerville Norris was because it had already breached the Earth’s atmosphere and was in space…  

“Whoo,” Magnuss said as he and his wife peered out through the huge magnifying observation window, “that was smooth.” 

“And quick too.” Hair-Trigger added. “So what do we do now?” But, having received no reply from her new husband, she suddenly recognised the look upon his boyishly handsome face. He was in telepathic communication with his brothers…  

“Yo, Bro,” Rudi yelled, both mentally and verbally, “your ship is fully stocked: you’ve got a full complement of proton torpedoes: go have yourselves some fun.” 

“Yeah,” Chester added, “we can look after the museum in your absence. We’re not entirely useless!” 

High above the remaining four Earplug Brothers, systems aboard the Tankerville Norris activated in a pre-determined sequence…  

…and the tail lights came on. 

Having returned to the bridge…  

…the sole occupants shared a glance; then stared straight ahead. 

“Ready?” Magnuss inquired. 

“Ready.” Hair-Trigger replied. 

Upon her Omnipresent Scanner, Cushions Smethwyke watched in open-mouthed (and very toothy) fascination…  

A split second later the Tankerville Norris began its maiden voyage… 

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

What kind of honeymoon can Magnuss and Hair-Trigger expect? Not a regular type, that’s for certain. Tune in again to discover just how irregular!

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 25)

“I think that went very well.” Miles said as the five heroic earplugs watched the ship attain orbit…

 …“I think things could have worked out rather worse. A pat on the back all ‘round?”

Rudi smiled at this. “At the very least, man.” He replied.

Susan, in her many parts, was feeling much the same way. Every sub-unit had something to say, even if all the others knew exactly the words it would use…

“You know,” the primary sub-unit said to the others, “I’m feeling like I’m in some sort of girlie gang. It’s fun, isn’t it? Girl power!”

But as fun as it was, Susan reintegrated for her role of Captain. And she wasn’t surprised to find the engineering staff had returned to their DVD box set…

Also she was less than surprised when Chester sought her out, and they stood at an observation window and watched asteroids pass by on their way to a collision with the planet below…

“Poor little asteroids,” she said with a smile that – if she didn’t straighten her face soon – she feared might become perpetual, “of all the planets to pick on, they chose the Supreme Being’s. I can see him getting quite annoyed.”

She continued to smile all the way back to the bridge, which left Chester free to join his brothers…

“Flipping heck,” Magnuss exploded, “look at the distance we’ve covered in just fifteen minutes. That’s Sirius that we’re sweeping majestically by. Worstworld is just around the corner. It’s half way to Earth. Another fifteen minutes and we’ll be landing at the good old Museum of Future Technology…

Of course it was a fifty-fifty chance that the museum’s location on the planet’s surface would have it smothered in the cloak of night, which meant that the Age of Stone was too…

Already the castle’s grand hall had been made ready for the celebratory discotheque. As the ship landed and its crew disembarked, Hambledon Bohannon was warming up his futuristic, but wonderfully 1970s retro, turntables…

And earplugs from the museum proper were making their way to the Age of Stone exhibit…

But many were already standing in line in corridors bedecked with fabulous drapes…

Even the Graveyard Avatar had managed to drag itself and a number of acolytes along…

“Oh, isn’t this lovely?”  She cried with glee. “This stone is so cold and foreboding: it’s like being at home.”

Further inside the castle, huge light screens had been erected…

…which looked really neat and bathed the stony interior in a chill blue light.

“Like it.” Doctor Snippentuck, the resident incompetent plastic surgeon was heard to utter. “When I can afford it, I’m going to get my surgery decorated like this. It’ll be the talk of the town.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 24)

But still the situation worsened for the Wonky SB. Not content of stripping him of his atomic boiler suit, Miles and Chester let rip on his god-like underpants…

…and the would-be avenger was forced to hide his nether-regions by squatting in a most undignified manner…

“No,” he wailed, “I surrender. No more. Leave me alone.”

“Go,” Magnuss bellowed in reply, “before we destroy you completely.”

“I’m going. I’m going.” The Wonky SB said hurriedly as a strange red portal opened behind him…

Then, with defeat etched in every step he took, the Wonky SB collected up the remains of his boxer shorts and wandered, unsteadily back into his unknowable realm…

But as he turned back to regard his nemesis…

…a force grabbed him and swept him away into a roiling cauldron of energy…

…which might have been a black hole.

For a moment the boys merely stood there in shock. Then a cascade of pretty energy particles descended upon them…

Of course, it was the Supreme Being in celebratory mode…

“Well done, boys. What a brilliant job. Now get yourselves back here.”

A heartbeat later they and Susan’s primary sub-unit stood at an observation window in the Rhubarb Crumble

“We couldn’t have done it without your powers.” Magnuss informed the Supreme Being. But he was being polite: obviously the Supreme Being knew that already. “And Susan too.” He added.

“Indeed,” the Supreme Being said as he regarded Susan’s primary sub-unit, “if she hadn’t stepped in at the appropriate moment, all might have been lost. Well done to you too, little green blob. Now I expect you’d all like to get back to the Museum of Future Technology for a celebratory discotheque. Well, be on your way: I think you’ll find the journey back somewhat shorter than the one here.”

But, of course, before the Rhubarb Crumble could go anywhere, there was the matter of returning the Weevil Trunnion to its place in the storeroom…

Then, the task complete, the first ship to come off the new Martian production line swept across the strange, ever-changing landscape…

…and blasted skyward…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

What Really Happens in English Graveyards at Night

In the light of day, and the average English graveyard appears tranquil and silent, gravestones sit quiescent and still..

But at night, when no one is around to see or hear…

…earplugs hold very important meetings in their grand halls. I wonder what they discuss?