Cardboard Dreams Become Reality (part 1)

Okay, maybe that title does overstate the usefulness of cardboard slightly, but as the creator of the Earplug Adventures I can tell you, I wouldn’t be able to visualize half of what you see in these dippy tales without it. Wonderful stuff; and free too!

If you’ve been following the stories for a while, you might recognize this circular item. It, and many very like it have appeared over and over. Check out these examples…

Looks like the engine room of the early version of the K T Woo to me. And what about this?

A scientific lab, obviously. It makes for a charming religious establishment too…

Just look at those burning torches. Attention to detail – or what!

Cardboard tubes and rings can come in handy too…

This is the ‘before’ shot of Scroton Prime – capital city of the Cable End’s home world, Scroton. Note the use of plain cardboard sheeting as a background and as sharply-angled ‘buildings in the foreground. This is how that locale appeared on the cover The Masters of Scroton

And in a segment of the story…

Cardboard blocks are groovy too. Especially those items perched on the top of this pile of tubes…

With the help of a length of insulation material, a canvas backdrop, some bits of sticky-backed paper, a sheet of plastic laid on top, and a nice example of perspective…

..something starts to take shape. Here’s a ‘before’ shot of Don Quibonki and his side-kick Panta Lonez in situ…

But to see the resulting pictures from the story, you’ll have to come back for Part Two of Cardboard Dreams Become Reality!

What a rotten git I am.

 

Distant Land (part 29)

Within moments a fire storm swept across the planet’s surface…

Then, to the horror of those watching inside the Museum of Future Technology…

…the ground was torn asunder by planet-wide volcanic action…

Lava bombs were hurled in every direction. They seemed to target solitary buildings with volcanic glee…

…whilst the fire storm engulfed others…

Then a great wind circled the globe like an avenging…er…avenging thing that disliked earplugs with a passion…

…cooling the surface as it did so. This continued for yonks, until almost everything had been either destroyed, severely damaged, or wiped from existence. All except a few lucky conurbations or suchlike, like the Museum of Future Technology, which enjoyed the protection of a vast deflector shield that had kept it safe from harm…

“Cor,” people inside would say, as they crowded to watch catastrophe unfold upon huge TV screens…

…”nasty. Aren’t we lucky to be inside? I’d hate to think what happened to those scientists, who, probably, caused this disaster with their stupid technology. Hopefully they were fried.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

 

Distant Land (part 28)

Shortly, though, they arrived at the second massive device…

“Aesthetically, I think this one has the edge over the first.” Dido opined without invitation…

“They’re supposed to be identical.” Frutilda informed her associate.

“They have to be identical.” Whoops, suddenly concerned, yelped. “If they’re not identical, they won’t work the same way. It could prove disastrous.”

Dennis, his earlier worries dissipated by recent familiarity with the Quantum Bridge, said: “Cool it, man: it’s the surroundings that are different. No need to go pooping in your pants.”

Frutilda wasn’t convinced. “Maybe.” She said. “But shouldn’t we do a metallurgical and radio-active analysis before proceeding? After all, if there is variance, it could have untold effects upon the project.”

“True.” Dido agreed, whilst Dennis eyed the contraption with suspicion.

“The Wim-wom valve might get wonky too.” The latter suggested.

As Chief Scientist it fell to Whoops Brannigan to make the final decision…

So, whilst the others discussed the Quantum Bridge, he cast an appraising eye over his work. As he did so, Dennis had a question: “So this system only works if all three bridges are active, right?”

“Of course not.” Whoops replied. “We always build in triple redundancy to our devices. If one fails, the other two take up the resultant slack. In the unlikely event of two failing, we still get our power from the other quantum dimension. It’s common sense. Okay, the scan tells me everything is fine: I’m happy with this: I’ve activated its timer: let’s go.”

But as they set off for the third and final Quantum Bridge, Dennis threw a wobbly…

“Wait a minute, for flip’s sake.” He yelled loudly, which shocked the others because he was usually such a placid fellow. “I know the world is desperate for energy and all that: but aren’t we being a little complacent here? I mean, I know we’ve checked out the other quantum reality and found that its atmosphere is massively charged with electricity that’s just gagging to be harnessed; and its uninhabited so no one will get hurt if we steal all the power; but why is it charged? What’s the mechanism that makes all that energy? Tell me that!”

Fortunately for Dido’s and Frutilda’s ears, Whoops told Dennis to ‘shut his big fat gob’ or he’d be ‘fired’. So Dennis, aware that government scientists were usually second-rate and probably couldn’t get a job in the private sector, did as he was instructed. “Okay.” He said meekly.

But it wasn’t very much longer, after they’d gained the wasteland once more, that a brilliant blue light lit up the sky behind them…

 

This event surprised the scientists. But surprise turned to amazement when Whoops’ portable force field generator activated…

…and the ground shook so badly that not one member of the quartet could see properly. Then, as the apparent earthquake calmed…

…Whoops said: “What the heck is going on out there? What’s keeping the force field raised? Ooh, I can almost feel the heat coming through.”

Blinded behind the impregnable energy shield, the scientists were unaware that a fissure in the Quantum Veil had opened and the sky now blossomed red and angry…

And a split second later the atmosphere erupted in flame…

`© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Distant Land (part 27)

Well, the Video Tape Operator was as good as his title suggested, and before an impatient Cedric could snap testily at his ineptitude, the video message resumed…

So, as the Gravity Whelk drifted across the ocean of eternity, the Skail Brothers received the update from home they so sorely needed…

And the tale it told horrified them. Two years had passed upon their home world. Two years without news from their expedition had led them down dangerous avenues of thought. In a world almost bereft of energy, and facing ecological and financial ruination, desperation made the scientific elite consider working upon technologies they didn’t fully understand…

“Run this by me just one more time, will you.” A somewhat befuddled Dennis Tawdry complained. “This machine does what exactly?”

“It forms a quantum bridge between our reality and another.” Dido Warblington explained.

“Yes.” Whoops Brannigan took up the subject with rare gusto. “It’s absolutely marvellous. If all goes to plan – which it will – we’ll set up this chain of quantum bridges; they in turn will link with each other on the other side of the quantum veil, and we should be able to draw matter and energy through the resulting wormholes.”

Dennis nodded at this. “That’s what I thought it did.” He said. “But it worries me: how do we know what’s on the other side of the…what did you call it?”

“The Quantum Veil.” Frutilda Spelt answered. “It’s a lovely name: I wish I’d thought of it. You’re very creative, Whoops: have you ever considered becoming a poet?”

Naturally, being a scientist…

…Whoops scoffed at the notion. “Will someone switch this thing on: our world is crying out for fuel and energy: we need to be on our way to the next site.”

Well, naturally someone – in this case the doubtful Dennis Tawdry – did as he was asked, and soon they found themselves struggling across some recently formed wasteland…

“If I’d known that doing scientific work involved so much strenuous work,” Dido complained, “I’d have become a cashier at my local supermarket instead!” 

“No you wouldn’t.” Frutilda replied. “I was one. Believe me; you really don’t know the meaning of strenuous work.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Distant Land (part 26)

Five minutes later the Cyber-Oracle was surprised to see, not only the Captain, but also the ship’s compliment of senior officers. “Hey, guys.” It responded to their encirclement. “How ya doing?”

Cedric Mantequilla’s response surprised the Cyber-Oracle rather less: “We are in need of your wisdom and guidance.” He said succinctly, if sparingly – on detail at least.

“That’s what I’m here for.” The fountain of all knowledge replied. “That’s why every star ship has a Cyber-Oracle aboard. For just this sort of occasion, when silicon life-form’s brains simply aren’t up to making big decisions, or for plumbing tips, or sometimes need the latest cricket score.”

But when Kragan Welliboot blurted out the details of Cedric’s request, the Artificial Intelligence found that, in order to respond positively and accurately, it required to activate a whole gamut of memory banks…

It decided to play for time. “Hmmm, that’s a tough one.” It said. “Now, if our glorious leaders had installed some kind of rule or regulation that might guide space-farers, such as yourselves, the question would probably never need be asked.” Then it fell silent.

“And?” Hooper Helstrom inquired.

He was quickly followed by Cams Layne: “So what’s the answer?”

The Cyber-Oracle regarded his inquisitors…

“Captain Mantequilla.” It said. “How long have we been working together?”

Cedric responded in the only way he knew: “Ugh?” He grunted. Then, recovering, he added: “Zero time. Since the Brian Talbot’s shake down trials and the beginning of this mission, I have never ventured into your presence.”

“Precisely.” The Cyber-Oracle replied. “You and I know nothing about each other, yet you are prepared to place the safety of this ship and it’s crew in my metaphysical hands.”

Captain Mantequilla hadn’t gained the position of Ship’s Captain by being overtly thick. Unlike his subordinates he appeared to understand in a second. “Ah, I see. This is a question, not of logic, or even ethics: it is a question about being a living, breathing life-form. They, those Skail brothers, are earplugs: we are earplugs. The question should not even arise.”

The Cyber-Oracle, had it been able, would have looked proudly at Cedric. But it didn’t get the chance, because Grenville Hill said: “So I guess you’re superfluous, right?”

“No,” Cedric answered upon the machine’s behalf, “it’s wisdom has already been imparted. Let’s go.”

So, at their Captain’s command, the bridge crew of the Brian Talbot about-faced…

…and departed. But it was quite a while later, when Cedric and Grenville were alone in an otherwise deserted corridor…

…when Grenville was surprised by his commanding officer:

“I was just showing off, back there, Grenville. I don’t follow sub-text overly well: what did the Cyber-Oracle actually say?”

“It said, Cedric,” Grenville snapped, “exactly what you appeared to think it said. Act upon it, or I’ll tell the others what a nincompoop you really are.”

So, five minutes later… 

“Er, run V.T?” Captain Cedric Mantequilla suggested.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Polystyrene: A Fiction Author’s Best Friend

Now I expect you’re thinking, “How the heck can polystyrene possibly aid a tapper of keypads? I mean, it’s ridiculous, isn’t it?” Well if the author’s name is Wilbur Smith, Arthur C Clark, Catherine Cookson, or the like, then your doubts would have substance. But when that author is me, it’s a whole different ball game. After all, aren’t I the creator of…

…the Earplug Adventures? Yes, I am; and I’m telling you that the whole affair would have been a whole lot more difficult to produce without the aid of this…

Polystyrene. It may be deeply non-ecological, but look what I did with this particular lump of packaging…

That’s right, it became a monastery…

On the top of a mountain no less…

Other bits invited the application of paint…

The result on this particular occasion looked slightly like…

The wonderous product can produce convincing buildings such as this…

 

And this…

Day or night…

It’s especially wonderful for distant buildings…

Or unusually decorative interiors…

It also makes fabulous corridors, down which earplugs can either meander or rush…

It’s not bad for creating distant hills either…

Guess what scene this created…

Yes, it’s the Museum of Future Technology’s busy Transfer Conduit Terminal…

But (if you’re a regular reader) you will have probably noticed that polystyrene’s most prolific usage…

…comes in the creation of Star Ship bridges…

How often have I used these circular (ceiling fan) packaging pieces to tell daring tales of all sorts of earplugs…

…as they dash about the Galaxy, doing stuff…

…and often almost shitting themselves…

Lots of times; that’s how many.

So there you have it. If you’re anything like me, your greatest literary aid is the garbage that other people throw away. And why not? It’s called recycling. Very eco- friendly.

©Paul Trevor Nolan

Next time I’ll bring you examples of another great chum of mine: discarded cardboard. A marvelous material. I’d be stuffed without it.

Distant Land (part 25)

But, most remarkable of all, the greater the distance that the ship travelled away from the Galactic Lens, the more the earplugs resembled their true selves…

Or, to put it another way: Richter and Beaufort turned yellow again – which pleased Richter no end; but left Beaufort…

…most annoyed: he didn’t much like the colour yellow and he’d enjoyed being purple. And as his mood darkened so did the shade of his skin. “Bum.” He complained bitterly, “You can contact the Museum: I’m off to the galley in search of some space biscuits: I feel the need to comfort-eat.”

Meanwhile, aboard the Brian Talbot, the watching crew jumped in alarm…

…as the Red Alert sounded…

“Sorry.” Folie whispered to Cedric. “But my bladder is absolutely bursting. I simply had to press the Red Alert button on your Captain’s chair. I wonder; would you kindly call an intermission? I need to go pee-pee.”

The interruption gave Captain Mantequilla a moment in which to consider the entire situation. “Intermission.” He snapped curtly. “Stop the video.” Then he added: “Senior officers to the Thinking Compartment.”

So, whilst the new arrivals raced away to unburden themselves, Cedric Mantequilla, Hooper Helstrom, Grenville Hill, and Kragan Welliboot, assembled in a compartment adjacent to the bridge that had been designed purely for the expounding the verbal results of clear and logical thought…

“Well?” Cedric inquired without preamble. “Whadda ya think?”

Hooper Helstrom replied with a question of his own: “What do we think of what?” He asked.

“This whole thing.” Cedric answered unhelpfully – or so thought Kragan Welliboot – before comprehension dawned:

“What – you mean the video message? Oh, it’s the real deal alright: no one could fake those special effects.”

“I concur, Captain.” Grenville Hill said in his most professional voice. “What we are seeing is definitely an accurate account of two alien earplug’s adventure. Clearly there is another Museum of Future Technology out there somewhere; and that it’s in deep, deep doo-doos is without doubt.”

“That’s what I thought too.” The captain spoke as he ruminated upon the subject. “But that brings up a question of ethics.”

“Ethics?” A puzzled Kragan responded.

“Indeed, ethics.” Cedric said as he looked up from his navel gazing. “Do we have the right, the wit, and the wisdom, to go poking our noses into the affairs of an alien world that has developed in an incredibly similar way to planet Earth, but which appears to be on the brink of ecological ruin?”

“Do we have the right to ignore their plight?” Hooper responded vehemently. “Are they not earplugs? Are they not our brothers?”

Cedric thought long upon his officer’s outburst. “Tell you what.” He said at last. “Let’s go look for a second opinion. Follow me.”

So, a few moments later…

…the entire bridge crew descended into the veritable bowels of the Brian Talbot.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

Distant Land (part 24)

Richter could feel them too. “I wish those jackhammers would stop.” He wailed. “I keep fumbling with the tumblers!”

Worse still, Beaufort thought he could see dust on the near horizon…

So he intervened…

“No, you complete Plugmutt.” He growled. “Mother was born on the Forty-Second of Plinth!”

This was all the information the more svelte brother required to complete the difficult task of opening the door. So moments later…

…he watched as Beaufort, in a near panic, pushed through the widening aperture. Then, in the blink of an eye, they were both inside – with the door slammed closed behind them with a resounding ‘clunk’…

Then, and only then, could Beaufort finally relax and release the ultimate fart with which he was certain he would win the contest with his brother…

It was ghastly and left a nasty black smear upon both the floor and the walls.

“Autopilot.” Richter said with a sigh. “Get us the hell out of here. Maximum speed. No need to batten down the hatches or seal the lavatory seat. Just go.”

Minutes later…

…the Gravity Whelk was, once more, in its natural element: the stark vacuum of interplanetary space.

On the rudimentary bridge, the brothers discussed their recent adventure…

“Do you think there really was a secret energy source on the Plain of Shadows?” Beaufort asked.

“Nah.” Richter dismissed the notion. “That Knobby was a con-artist. He wasn’t the king of anything. That was an End Cap world. He was probably their court jester.”

They continued ruminating upon the subject for several minutes before they noticed that the ship was getting nowhere…

“It’s this damned Galactic Lens.” Beaufort complained. “It’s holding us in place by its mighty gravitational whatsit.”

Richter looked out of an emergency evacuation hatch window…

He spotted a lone star in the vastness of space. A thought occurred: “Beaufort.” He said. “It’s no good blasting away for ever and a day: we need to winch ourselves free of the Galactic Lens’ power. Turn the ship through ninety degrees.”

Beaufort would have argued, but he couldn’t think of anything significant to say. So he said: “Right on, Bro!”

“That star, dead ahead.” Richter said as he re-joined his brother. “If it has a rocky planet circling it we could latch on to it with our tractor beam and pull the ship free.”

Well, to call Richter’s idea inspirational, verging upon genius was an understatement; but Beaufort called it that anyway. Then he aimed the device, which usually grappled objects like asteroids and derelict space vessels out of the Gravity Whelk’s path, at the target star. He then waggled it about infinitesimally, until it connected with a medium-sized planet.

“Got one.” He informed Richter. Then he switched it on.

No one could honestly say that the forward tractor beam light grew more intensely pink as the ship began its long, but inexorable climb from the Galactic Lens’ influence, but both earplugs certainly felt it did… 

The escape was so slow, and took so long, that there were times when the siblings forgot where they were, what they were doing, or why they were aboard an otherwise empty star ship. But eventually, after three months subjective time (but two years objective time beyond the Galactic Lens), the invisible elastic band that had held the Gravity Whelk against its will, snapped. And in an instant the ship leaped free…

“Whee!” It’s occupants cried in joy. “Yippie! Now let’s try to contact the Museum of Future Technology. We need an update.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Sources of Everyday Earplug Inspiration 1: Canderel Sweetener Dispensers

As I nonchalantly dropped a quartet of sweeteners into my cafe au lait, I took a moment to consider the dispenser in my hand. “Hmmm,” thought I, “that’s an interesting shape: maybe I can use some of that in my stories.”

So, once it had become exhausted of little white tablets, I wrenched the thing apart and considered the constituent parts. And guess what: I was right. I was hoping to find something ear-pluggish that was analogous to either the dog or the horse. I was also in search of a personal transport vehicle for my characters. In the Canderel dispenser I found both. Witness the emergence of the Plugmutt…

They have proved so useful that I’ve used them over and over again – in all sorts of colours…

And, of course, they’re great for riding upon…

Which, by chance, were the dispensing mechanisms too…

Of course the ‘buggies’ don’t have the character of the Plugmutts, but they are excellent for moving my characters from one location to another…

But other sweetener dispensers haven’t been ignored: not in the Earplug Adventure world. Some of them have made quite pleasant boats…

And others, wheel-less wheel barrows…

Is there no end to their usefulness? Sweetener dispensers: where would the Earplug Adventures be without them?

 

Distant Land (part 23)

Richter and Beaufort regarded the strange, alien sky…

Although unimpressed, they wanted to remain in the King’s good favour and thereby glean some energy production secrets; so they said otherwise. Knobby was most pleased and offered them both some advice: “Out there, on the Plain of Shadows, you’ll find a power source that will solve all your problems in five minutes flat. You have my permission to go find it. But don’t ask me to come: I’m afraid of the dark.”

So the siblings made their farewells and proceeded in the direction indicated by Knobby…

Inexperienced in the skills of prospecting, they waited there for something to happen. It was dull work and the semi-monochrome vista seemed relentless. At first they shuffled their feet a little. Then they yawned hugely. And finally they both sought to relieve the crushing boredom by indulging in a wind-breaking contest. But had they known that a pair of scavenging End Caps were just out of shot nearby…

…they might have reconsidered their actions. End Caps – especially the scavenging type – are very methane-averse, and should never be angered in their own back yard…

“Ugh, nice pong.” One of them grunted, as the evil stench seared his sensitive nostrils.

“You think?” His incredulous (and vastly more intelligent) partner replied. But before he could say anything more, his innate ultra-patriotism kicked in. “Invaders.” He snarled. “This must be reported to the Hive instantaneously. Quick: let’s go!”

As a result of this outburst the scavenging End Caps raced away – quickly entering their subterranean dwelling place…

…and rushing along for all they were worth whilst…

…shouting out a warning to anyone who would listen. Well, a whole bunch of people thought they were worth listening to; and before long…

…a rabble descended upon the plain – intent upon only one thing: repulsing the invading earplugs, using any means at their disposal, which included devouring them without mercy. And it wasn’t long before their collective nose detected Richter and Beaufort’s distinctive pong…

“Argh!” Richter screamed as he and Beaufort took to their heels. “We appear to have angered the local populace. Run. Run as though your life depends upon it.”

“Do you think it might be wise to stop farting too?” Beaufort half-asked – half-suggested, before adding: “They are unusually aromatic in nature after all.”

“Probably due to the foil-wrapped space meals.” Richter agreed between pants and wheezes. “It’s probably enough to annoy the most placid of natives, which this lot clearly aren’t.”

So, without further ado, the off-worlders ceased their wasteful, energy-sapping farting; and in doing so placed a slightly greater distance between themselves and their pursuers…

“Which way to the Gravity Whelk?” Beaufort gasped. “It can be our only sanctuary.”

Fortunately, as well as being fleet of foot and ripe of wind, Richter also possessed an excellent sense of direction. “This way.” He replied. “Let’s put the metaphorical pedal to the metal, Beaufort: we need to leave these guys behind.”

Soon the Plain of Shadows receded beneath the brother’s lengthening strides like a…um…receding thing. And as they approached their vessel’s pedestrian airlock…

…the sounds of pounding End Cap feet had become inaudible.

“Can you remember the combination?” Beaufort managed between great inhalations of foreign air.

“Um…” Richter answered reluctantly…

“It’s our mother’s birthday, isn’t it?” He added.

Beaufort didn’t answer. He wasn’t really listening. He could feel the ground at his feet vibrating beneath the pummelling of multitudinous hobnailed boots. And he didn’t like it.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

 

Distant Land (part 22)

Sadly the direct hit had completely blown the robotic vessel’s mind. But, by remotely hacking into it’s computer, Richter and Beaufort learned of the vessel’s last encounter, and so set off in search of a metallic world. Naturally it was just around the metaphorical corner – cosmically at least – and soon the Gravity Whelk swept across it’s magnificently bejewelled surface…

But when they tried another pass…

…and nothing happened, Beaufort decided that he didn’t want to stay somewhere he wasn’t welcome.

“Right then.” He said as he left Richter standing at the window. “On to the next item on that invisible space ship’s list.”

Moments later they were upon their way again – blasting into open space…

But Beaufort had taken only a single step when…

…the autopilot announced: “Guys: we’ve entered some kinda’ Galactic Lens.”

And it was right!

Then, after rushing to the perfunctory bridge, Beaufort and Richter were confronted with the impossible: they had entered a region of space in which earplug pigmentation completely…

…reversed itself.

“Ooh,” Beaufort said – not for the first time, “pretty: I’ve always wanted to be purple. Now my wish has come true. Do you think we’ve died and gone to heaven, Richter?”

Richter had other concerns. “Hmmm.” He failed to reply to his brother. “If we’ve reversed our colour, maybe there’s a chance that the engines might reverse something unexpected too. Autopilot: cut the motors.”

Instantly the drive unit ceased operating, and the Gravity Whelk drifted across the Galactic Lens like so much space flotsam…

It was then that the brothers noted a planet dead ahead.

“That looks promising.” Beaufort observed. “Let’s go there.”

A while later – because they didn’t dare use the Star Drive – the Gravity Whelk bathed in the glow of the mysterious world…

Almost immediately they received a hail from the planet’s surface.

“Hiya.” A cheerful voice boomed. “Why don’t ya come on down: maybe we can do business.”

So, three minutes later…

“Hi.” Their host said politely and pleasantly. “If I lived on any other world, I’d be a big red knob. But here, as you can see, I’m a big aqua blue knob. You can call me Knobby. What do you think of my world? I’m the King, by the way. Nice, huh? “

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Special Earplug Effects: Just How Special Are They?

If you are a regular visitor to this cyber-shore, you’ll probably be aware that I like to take photos and write stories. I particularly enjoy combining both…er…shall we say ‘passions‘? The result is – the Earplug Adventures. I like trying to make something out of very little. Taking something unspectacular and prosaic, and turning it into a vivid scene is a challenge. Often I find the aforementioned unspectacular and prosaic somethings standing right in front of me. For example, like this…

People who catch me snapping merrily (and know about my harmless perversion) can be often heard saying: “Don’t tell me; it’s for one of your Little People stories.” They don’t ask what I expect to do with the resulting picture: they just know it’ll be something unexpected. Can you figure what I created out of this door? Check out the peeling blue paintwork; that’s what gave me the idea for…

…some islands for Magnuss and Hair-Trigger to fly above…

The story is entitled Mutant Island; and when the daring duo discovered the titular island, they took a closer look…

Wow, that’s some really rocky island down there, huh? Well, actually, no: it’s…

…a tree stump. But what about a few drops of condensation on a frosted glass window? *

You don’t get many things duller and less interesting than that. Surely nothing neat could possibly be made out of a gents toilet window and some dripping water! Well…

…I beg to differ.

Ah, little things. Very silly, I’m sure. But it keeps me happy and stretches the brain cells, so I don’t grow old too quickly.  Where’s the harm in that? 

* Those Magnificent Earplugs

Distant Land (part 21)

Of course Beaufort had not the slightest inkling that a space-dwelling life-form had been ignored by he and his brother. Consequently he hadn’t a clue that they’d missed a perfect opportunity to learn the secrets of Nul-Space energy production from a creature that did it as naturally as earplugs breath air; drink water; cough, when they do both at the same time: and secretly break wind in supermarkets. So he busied himself reading the electronic users guide…

…before making the adjustments necessary to the star drive unit’s fuel supply…

…and listening carefully to the retuned motor as the Gravity Whelk blasted across the Milky Way…

…in a most photogenic manner.

A short while later, Richter decided to test the ship’s defensive capabilities by firing off a salvo of proton torpedoes…

Richter couldn’t have known it, of course, but directly in the line of fire an invisible vessel flew furtively. But with it’s cloak disabled by a direct hit, it became visible briefly…

Richter wasn’t particularly impressed with this turn of events, especially when it disappeared once more…

“Evasive!” He yelled at the autopilot, which did as it was bid with the greatest of alacrity…

And when the Gravity Whelk came under fire, it returned said fire without commands from either earplug aboard…

“Oh cripes!” Beaufort squealed. “We’re going to be blown to smithereens, almost before our great sojourn has begun!”

“Fire all weapons.” Richter commanded. “Really fast and lots of times.”

The autopilot duly obliged…

…and made a lucky hit. Moments later the Gravity Whelk came alongside the mysterious vessel…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Distant Land (part 20)

Unfortunately space travel can prove very tedious at times, and soon the siblings felt compelled to overcome the boredom of infinite darkness and distant sparkly lights by taking to their beds. But, following a fitful sleep, soon the alarm clock woke Richter. For a moment the former power engineer was confused by his surroundings, so he lay still and allowed his eyes to wander around the cabin…

Slowly his memory returned, and he eased himself from his futuristic bed…

He quickly recognized his horrendously dry tongue as the result of a combination of space sickness and open-mouthed dreams of scary, mindless zombies…

He chose to shake off the recollection by staring out of his porthole…

Now fully recovered, he decided to go wake his brother…

When Richter entered he found that Beaufort remained deeply ensconced within the Land of Nod…

Before checking out the view, he first regarded the pleasant poster that the cabin’s previous user had pinned to the wall…

Shortly after determining that Beaufort’s porthole was no bigger or better than his own…

…he shouted very loudly indeed. This had the desired effect…

“Ah, brother.” Beaufort said cheerfully, as he hopped from his equally futuristic bed. “Before we have breakfast, I’d like to take a minute to check out the main drive…

…It sounds a little off.”

Richter didn’t like the sound of this. “How about we do it now.” He suggested.

So soon they were on their way to Engineering…

Despite the sense of vague urgency, they couldn’t help but stop by the passenger view port…

“Pretty.” Beaufort opined.

“Yeah.” Richter agreed. “But it’s a bit ‘samey’ don’t you think?”

Beaufort didn’t argue; and soon they moved on, which disappointed a passing vacuum-breather…

…who was really cheesed-off: he hadn’t interacted with any sentient beings since his seven-hundredth birthday.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Distant Land (part 19)

Meanwhile, Beaufort and Richter (as brothers are wont) had experienced a joint moment of clarity and inspiration. So they took the shortest route possible…

…towards their immediate destination. But as they walked the corridor outside the Royal Meeting Room, doubt began to creep in…

In fact Beaufort was beginning to feel decidedly yucky. And Richter didn’t feel much better. In fact they might have chickened out all together, but a royal summons made them pull themselves together…

Well, when they elucidated their idea, Dido Warblington turned away in derision: Frutilda Spelt looked at the brothers as though they’d just grown a joint second head: Denis Tawdry stared straight ahead, as though in denial of such brilliance of mind: Princess Cake of Potwell looked from one scientist to the other, in search of guidance and an opinion: and Whoops Brannigan used his casting vote to rubber stamp their proposal. So, a few seconds later…

…the Skails felt very pleased with themselves.

“Gosh, that was easy.” Beaufort said cheerfully.

But as they entered a link-way to their new destination…

…something occurred to Richter. “You know, Beaufort.” He said. “I think the only reason they agreed to our plan was because…”

“They were desperate?” Beaufort interrupted.

“Well, yes.” Richter conceded. “But more importantly, what with the whole power generation thing running out of global juice, you and I are surplus to requirements. In short; we’re expendable. If we fail, it will have cost them nothing.”

Then, as they entered their final destination…

…he added: “All they stand to lose is an old, defunct, scientific space vessel. By the way, would you care to push the ‘go‘ button, Beaufort?”

“Thank you, Richter.” Beaufort replied, with a tremulous voice. “I think I would. “

Moments later…

…the Museum of Future Technology’s interstellar science vessel – the Gravity Whelk – lifted from the mottled lawn just outside the Ministry of Science. Then, after aligning the vessel with a predestined course, the automatic pilot hit the forward thruster. The sudden acceleration caught Beaufort by surprise and his yell of alarm confused the autopilot so much that it immediately flipped the ship into a vertical position…

…which had its sole occupants staring at an early demise…

“Pull up!” Richter yelled.

“Yeah.” Beaufort’s scream supported his sibling’s suggestion. “Pull up, for flip’s sake!”

If nothing else, the autopilot was fleet of thought. A split second later the Gravity Whelk made an abrupt about-turn…

And before long it plunged from the planet’s atmosphere and slipped into orbit…

“Hooray.” The brothers cheered. “Now all we must do is make a radio report to the Orbital Way Station…

…and we’re on our way…

Next stop: the stars. Someone out there, in the vastness of the Galaxy, is bound to have discovered, or invented, a non-polluting, infinitely renewable, source of power. And we’re gonna find them!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Distant Land (part 18)

But events outside the museum were even more disturbing. Earplugs, in their droves, assembled at the ticket offices, demanding entry – as noted by a passing Richter Skail…

…who called to his brother, who, in turn, berated the would-be customers…

…and told them to shove their money in their ears. “We’re full; you’re not coming in.” He finished. “Sod off!”

Other ticket office employees, in fear for their safety, resorted to fixed smiles and crash helmets…

“Yes, I know there’s been an environmental disaster out there.” They would say, “It’s not great here either. You should see the queues for the toilets. But if we allow everyone inside, our scientists will spend all their time tending to your needs, so that there will be no time for them to use their great intellects and cure our world’s excessive energy consumption problems. Just leave us alone and we’ll sort this out. Honest.” 

So, whilst the best brains in the museum turned their attentions to the currently most pressing needs…

…the survivors of the energy deficiency took to caves, basements, atom-proof bunkers, and other subterranean places…

…where they stood around in the eerie glow of solitary light bulbs and felt sorry for themselves.

Meanwhile, the museum’s scientists ran a quick inventory of their problems. Dido Warblington was particularly hard working…

He investigated every squeak, rumble, and unexpected anomaly. He spoke with every power engineer…

Even those who were up to their ears in trying to squeeze every erg of energy out of their failing generators. He even volunteered to interview disgruntled public lavatory users…

“Hello, Frutilda.” He said, when he spotted the beautiful female scientist standing in line. “Have you been partaking of the emergency cider barrel again?” 

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Distant Land (part 17)

Meanwhile Princess Cake had returned to the Royal Palace…

…where, certain that doom approached, she gave a photograph of her ancestors a sidelong glance. “Hi, guys.” She said. “Guess I’ll be joining you in the hereafter soon.”

A short while later, in another region of the vast edifice, several scientists had assembled for an important discussion. They had invited the Princess to join them, who, in turn, had invited her two favourite power engineers – the Skail Brothers – to attend…

The scientists present were known as…

…and the outstandingly attractive and much-loved…

“Has anyone noticed recent technical problems?” Whoops Brannigan inquired.

It was a rhetorical question, which, naturally, no one answered. So Whoops continued: “Private toilets are giving so much grief,” he grumbled, “that the public bogs are quickly filling up. Even the futuristic toilets are experiencing extreme strain…

“Indeed.” Frutilda Spelt interrupted. “I was interviewing a visiting End Cap and his Plugmutt mount, only this morning…

…You should have heard what they had to say about the curators.”

“I did.” Whoops complained…

“They called them big fat wallies, who, due to their ineptitude and laziness, had allowed certain members of the populace to believe that the end of the world was coming and that…

…it had culminated in an insane buggy race in which none of the racers wore either seat belts or crash helmets and cared not one jot who won or survived the race or whether they had silencers and catalytic converters fitted to their race buggies. He was considering making an official complaint about the noise and smell: luckily I was able to side-track him with a big, sloppy punch in the mouth.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Distant Land (part 16)

Meanwhile, the Skails had rushed back to their work station at the top of one of the many huge energy production towers…

…where they discussed their concerns…

“You know, Richter,” Beaufort whispered as his eyes wandered the room in search of other potential anomalies, “I don’t think I can ever recall an energy deficit before. It’s unheard of, but it is the only explanation for the non-opaqueness of the lavatory door window and the gaseous, non-flushing loo.”

Naturally they went directly to a huge screen that displayed CCTV pictures of the power generation towers…

To their dismay, one of the tower roof tell-tales was glowing red.

“Flipping heck!” Beaufort exclaimed. “Have you ever seen that before, Richter?”

Richter looked closer – hopeful that they were sharing the same illusion. “Er…no.” He replied. “Pull back a bit – to get a wider view.”

To both engineer’s relief, other tower lights remained blue, which meant that they were operating within normal parameters.

“I like normal parameters.” Beaufort said, as he made his way back towards his work station. “That red tower doesn’t come under our jurisdiction: I’ll let someone else worry about it.”

But Richter wasn’t really listening: his eyes had alighted upon another view screen: one that showed a portion of the world beyond the massive walls of the Museum of Future Technology…

“I don’t get out much.” He said. “What season are we in right now?”

Beaufort felt a rumble in his bowel. It was the unmistakable sensation of primal fear. “Um, High Summer.” He answered; then added: “So why is the sky a ghastly shade of pink?”

“And why have all the leaves fallen from the trees?” Richter added.

“By the Saint of All Earplugs.” Beaufort wailed. “The Eco-Wallies were right all along: It’s Global Warming gone mad. It’s Climate Change on a grand scale. What are we gonna do?”

“Do?” Richter replied. “Why nothing, obviously. This isn’t out fault. We’ll let someone with a much larger brain worry about something so vast. I know – let’s have a nice cup of tea. That fixes most things.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Distant Land (part 15)

Cedric then displayed a remarkable degree of imagination: “Has anyone heard the theory of Parallel Development?” He asked.

Folie hadn’t and doubted that it meant anything at all. But Placebo was slightly more worldly-wise: “Oh yeah.” He exhaled. “What a terrific idea, Captain. Two worlds, totally isolated from each other, upon which evolution and the development of civilization are almost identical. It’s a theory that I have always adored, personally.”

“And now we appear to have discovered an example.” Cedric replied. Then, to the video tape machine operator, he added: “Shoot. Let’s see some more.”

So, as the screen burst, once more, into vivid life…

…the co-hosts exchanged places. Richter Skail now spoke: “Our planet has suffered a calamity.” He said. “And we’d like to tell you all about it. But we don’t want to start at the beginning of the end: no, we want to set the scene first, so that you’ll understand why certain people did what they did; and why they ended up mired in the ka-ka. Regard our home and place of work…

For uncounted eons our world enjoyed virtually unlimited supplies of power. Why, we had enough surplus energy to run huge arc lights to illuminate the Museum of Future Technology all through the night and no one batted an eyelid.”

“But nothing lasts for ever.” Beaufort interrupted. “My brother and I first noticed problems appearing when, one day, he called me to toilet number One-twenty-five…

“Ooh-er.” Beaufort squeaked as he peered through the door window. “The clear glass has failed to go opaque at my approach. If I try to poop in there, passers-by will see my pants down around my ankles and hear me heaving and straining and making plopping noises. As a power engineer I think I’d better call my brother for a second opinion.”

So, having hung an Out of Order sign upon the door, a short while later…

…the two brothers peered into the lavatory hole.

At first Richter felt relieved. “This looks fine.” He said. “I think we can rule out vandalism. Try flushing it.”

Naturally Beaufort acquiesced. But when this happened…

…they quickly realized that something was seriously wrong. But they weren’t alone in making awful discoveries. Outside, in the museum arboretum, the token ruler – Princess Cake of Potwell…

…became acutely aware that the weather control centre had (apparently) turned the beautiful and luxuriant gardens into a desert.

“Hmm.” She hummed to herself. “Nasty.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

Distant Land (Part 14)

The Brian Talbot, the brain child of Wet World’s most revered scientists – Hideous and Perfidity Gout – hung motionless in space, with the Great Horse Dung Nebula as its back-drop…

Inside, Captain Cedric Mantequilla addressed the entire crew via ship-wide intercom…

“Space Sailors.” He began powerfully. “What you are about to see is a recording that was made by an alien species. As such I would like to warn you that you can’t always believe what your eyes and ears are telling you. Aliens are a sneaky bunch of bleeders – and you might find yourself being hypnotized. So take care. Take nothing for granted. And if you feel that you’d like to look away, or perhaps visit the toilet; do so without an iota of shame.” He then retook his chair and said: “Okay; roll it.”

At first only a pleasant vista of interstellar space greeted the expectant gaze of the Brian Talbot’s crew. Naturally Folie and Placebo rushed forward for a better view.

“Forgive me if I’m wrong,” Placebo whispered to his chum, “but that doesn’t look like this region of space.”

Folie would have replied, but his thought processes were interrupted by the sudden appearance of two earplugs, both of which looked decidedly chilly…

“Welcome Space Travelers.” The foremost earplug said in a language everyone could understand. “My name is Beaufort Skale. This is my brother, Richter.”

By the time that Beaufort Skale had drawn breath for his next sentence, Folie and Placebo had sought refuge behind the captain’s chair…

“Freeze-frame!” Cedric yelled. And when the video paused, he added: “How the heck did that happen? How is it possible for an alien earplug, from half-way across the Galaxy, to speak Earplug English?” He then answered himself: “I’ll answer that myself: obviously we’ve all been hypnotized.”

Everyone looked at the stilled scene upon the main viewer…

“I don’t feel particularly hypnotized.” Grenville offered.

“Me neither.” His brother, Speltham, added.

“I’m definitely not feeling hypnotized.” Hubert Boils informed everyone. “It’s not in my DNA. I’m naturally immune.”

“Weren’t we all immunized before we left Wet World?” Hooper Hellstrom reminded the captain. “Just in case we encountered alien life-forms with huge mental powers?”

Cedric made a snap decision: “Run VT.” He said.

Moments later Beaufort Skale’s commentary continued: “We are scientists who live and work in a wonderful institution called the Museum of Future Technology”….

“Freeze-frame!” Cedric yelled again – only more shrilly…

“What the flipping heck is happening here?” He continued at extreme volume. “Is this some sort of convoluted joke – designed to make me look completely gaga? If so, it aint gonna work!”

Whilst the bridge crew looked over their collective shoulder, Folie took the time to peer into his captain’s eyes. “Yup.” He whispered to Placebo. “Definitely Space Paranoia.”

“Maybe.” Placebo replied. “But that doesn’t explain what we’re seeing on this video. That can’t be our museum: it’s thousands of light-years away. Or maybe we’re all completely gaga!”

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Distant Land (part 11)

Left to their own devices, Folie and Placebo struggled to find the ‘On’ switch. In fact they failed miserably to find the ‘On’ switch for fully fifteen minutes. Folie quickly realised that he had to ‘bite the bullet’ and go ask Grenville for help. But just as he roused the red-eyed crewplug…

…Placebo’s knee caught on an unnoticed protrusion, bringing the Radio Anomalyser to life. More significantly it took a mere nanosecond for the remarkable machine to detect a radio anomaly.

“Deep-Space Distress Call, I think.” He announced. “Coming from somewhere off the port bow.”

Still groggy from his period of somnolence, Grenville staggered to his feet. “Ugh, right; let’s get down to Astro-Navigation.” He grunted, as the exit door rolled open…

But when they arrived at their destination, the threesome discovered it empty of life…

“Darn it.” Grenville cursed softly. “It’s tea-break. We’ll have to wait.”

Fortunately for all concerned, the wait was brief. Soon a bunch of orange Astro-navigators appeared from their tiny canteen with en suite lavatory…

“We need you to trace a mysterious radio distress beacon.” Grenville answered their friendly inquiry.

“How soon?” The Chief Astro-navigator, Bruce Burpsby asked. “It’s just that Cedric has us running options on several destinations right now – and we’re a little short in the personnel department.”

“Straight away.” Placebo answered. “I think Captain Mantequilla would really like to see this.”

“Yeah.” Folie said,  rather belligerently – or so thought Placebo. “He told us to look out for stuff like this.”

” It’s A1 priority.” Grenville lied.

“Somewhere off the port bow.” Placebo added helpfully.

“A1 you say.” Bruce said as he ruminated. “Let’s take a look out of the window.”

So they did…

“Hmmm.” Bruce…er…hummed. “Can’t say I’ve ever seen one of those before.”

But Bruce and Company weren’t the only spectators of the radio anomaly…

“Weird stuff off the port bow, Captain.” Bridge Officer Cams Layne reported.

At that same instant, but several decks below…

“It’s winking at us.” Bruce yelled with unnecessary loudness. “Something like this will have Cedric pooping in his pants – at least metaphorically!”

Also at the exact same moment…

“It’s an alien Death Machine!” Captain Mantequilla bellowed in sudden alarm. “It must be! Red alert. Raise defensive screens. Arm all weapons. Now!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 8)

Naturally, both being wonderfully advanced pieces of technological magic, the two Wet World vessels separated with such ease that it seemed as though they’d been liberally coated with a futuristic form of Teflon, which, of course, they had. Immediately the Chi-Z-Sox ignited its orbital drive unit…

Of course several crew members of the Brian Talbot raced to the Observation Dome…

…to watch the older ships’ departure to realms unknown. They were joined by an enthusiastic Folie and Placebo, who grabbed a spot by the forward window…

Other, more experienced, space-watchers settled into comfy seats. But when the Chi-Z-Sox increased power…

…and headed away at ever-increasing speed…

…Placebo’s excitement at the spectacle caused him to break wind forthrightly, which, in turn, caused a crew member to faint and fall from his seat. Not that either youngster noticed: they were too enthralled by…

…the sight of an unimaginably vast region of space that appeared to be almost empty of either light, matter, or (apparently) energy. So they missed the Chi-Z-Sox let rip with its star drive…

…as did the others in the dome, because of Placebo’s involuntary assault upon their olfactory senses…

…the pong of which even had a negative effect upon the new-found friends themselves…

…and gave them second thoughts about traversing the Galaxy, cooped up in a huge tin can…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 7)

A split second later…

…Folie and Placebo had their atoms re-combined upon the bridge of the Brian Talbot.

“Hi.” The Captain – Cedric Mantequilla – said cheerfully as their sentience returned. “Welcome aboard. Pease don’t be alarmed…

…by all the clunking and clanking; but we’re currently docking with the Chi-Z-Sox, so that we can take on much-needed supplies…

Meanwhile, aboard the aforementioned star ship, Hideous and Perfidity had settled themselves into their comfy Ready Room seats…

“Nice lads, weren’t they, Hideous?” Perfidity said, once she’d ordered a powerful mug of coffee from the dispenser.

“Large one was apt to break wind in the Observation Dome.” Hideous replied. “Indiscriminately, apparently. Or so I’ve been told.”

Aboard the Brian Talbot, the latest guests asked if they could visit the Observation Dome.

“I can feel a really good fart coming on.” Placebo whispered over Folie’s shoulder.

“Excellent.” Folie whispered back. “I’m feeling distinctly methane-depleted.”

Fortunately Captain Mantequilla was too busy issuing important commands. So he heard nothing that passed between the youngsters. This was just as well, because the ships were about to disengage…

Naturally Cedric called a ship-wide Red Alert…

“Ah, this is more like it.” He said, as a hooter…er…hooted: and the bridge turned a deep crimson. “You can’t beat a good Red Alert. That’s what I say anyway.”

Equally naturally, the more experienced Captain Gout enjoyed a more relaxed atmosphere…

“Ah, I feel the ships un-docking.” He said, as the deck trembled. “I hope there’s time for a quick trip to the bog before its back into action, so-to-speak.”

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 6)

Several hours later the main drive of the Chi-Z-Sox grew silent…

…and the huge vessel drifted – as though waiting for something to happen…

Hideous Gout then invited Folie and Placebo to the bridge…

“I expect you’re wondering why this fine craft is adrift in the deepest recesses of outer space.” He said.

Doctor Perfidity Gout was surprised by Folie’s response. “We’re lost?” He suggested.

This made the Captain chuckle into his greying beard…

“No, you silly sod.” He replied. “Come, join me and look at the view screen. You’re in for a big surprise.”

Naturally the youngsters obliged; and moments later Lieutenant Kevin Mistlethrush announced…

…”Large vessel approaching, Captain. Putting it on the main screen now.”

Those in the know – namely the bridge crew – smiled…er…knowingly when…

…a remarkably familiar craft swam into view.

“But…but that’s the Chi-Z-Sox!” Folie blurted.

“How can that be?” Placebo wailed. “We’re aboard the Chi-Z-Sox. Is this some kind of sadistic trick? Are you torturing us on an intellectual level?”

But when the mystery vessel came alongside, Placebo recognised the sheer stupidity of his outburst…

“It’s another star ship.” He said needlessly. “Just like this one!”

“Wet World has made a second ship.” Folie observed and stated the obvious. “What’s its name?”

“Ah, that is a superb question, young earplug.” Hideous replied. “There was a great debate upon my home world. We felt that naming the Chi-Z-Sox after a dead rapper was extremely daring. Consequently we didn’t want to repeat something we’d done before. The ship you see beside us is brand new; so we decided to go for something equally new for inspiration.”

“We chose to name the ship after our world’s Submarine Motocross Champion.” Perfidity interrupted. “Brian Talbot.”

“Wow!” Folie exclaimed, as…

…the two ships matched velocity. “It must be really difficult railing those berms and avoiding vicious kickers with an aqualung strapped to your back. I’ve never heard of Brian Talbot: but anyone who rides Submarine Motocross surely deserves to have a star ship named after him. I’d sure like to board it!”

“Funny you should say that.” Hideous said as his chuckle returned. “Because it’s aboard the Brian Talbot that you two are going to complete your adventure. Byee.”

A split second later both the young earplug and the polystyrene packing piece dematerialised…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 5)

So, whilst Perfidity did her thing in the privacy of the bridge lavatory, the Chi-Z-Sox continued to race across the cosmos.

In the Science Lab, the Science Staff studied galactic anomalies…

But, being trainees, they found it all rather nauseating…

Then, unknown to either of their guests, the crew slowed the ship’s rapid forward progress…

…so that Perfidity could enjoy the sight of two stars coalescing…

…and for Hideous to make radio contact with a deep space beacon…

In the Observation Dome, Folie and Placebo became concerned…

“I have nasty feeling about this.” Placebo said, as he stared up through the transparent roof.

Folie’s feelings dwelt slightly lower than Placebo’s. Mostly in his bowels, actually.

“Yes,” Placebo continued, as though his friend’s stomach had remained mute, “that looks suspiciously like a deep space beacon. It can mean only one thing: either we’re being recalled; the lavatories need unblocking; or interstellar war has been declared.”

Little did Placebo know, as the Chi-Z-Sox hung like a Christmas bauble beside the deep space beacon…

…but all the while Hideous had been in communication with the unmanned device. And what it had informed him were no less than the co-ordinates of his next destination. So, without further ado, the Chi-Z-Sox got under weigh once more…

“Yee-hah.” Hideous yelled. “Feel that kick in the pants!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 4)

With their passengers stowed safely in their cabin, the crew of the Chi-Z-Sox soon had their mighty vessel blasting free of Earth’s gravity well…

“Whee!” Many of them squealed with delight as the stars of deep space began to glare un-winking and balefully. Their number included the Captain’s wife – the First Officer, Doctor Putridity Gout…

“Have a care, Dearest.” Hideous whispered from the Captain’s chair. “The crew are apt to think you’re an excitable wally. I don’t want a mutiny on my hands, you know.”

Naturally Folie and Placebo released themselves and joined several off-duty crew-folk in the observation dome…

“Golly, Placebo,” Folie said nervously, “isn’t space really big!”

Placebo couldn’t argue with the facts that supported his friend’s assertion. “Yeah.” He replied. “But wait until we blast out of orbit: then space will look so big that you’ll feel like a tiny, tiny, bacterium in comparison.”

Moments later the ship did as Placebo had intimated…

“See?” The large white being said…

“I do.” Folie replied. “It’s great – feeling like a bacteria, I mean. All the worries of life just trickle away.”

Because the Chi-Z-Sox was a nippy ship, it took mere minutes to reach, and fly-by, the planet Neptune…

Then Hideous Gout instructed the Helmsplug to hit the Really Fast button. A split second later…

“Oh, Hideous,” Perfidity gushed, “I do so adore going faster than light. If only I could train my bladder to enjoy it too. Excuse me whilst I nip off to the loo, would you?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 3)

Placebo must have harboured similar thoughts, because…

…he said: “Of course it might only be coincidence that this poster appeared on the way to our destination: but I can’t help thinking that it’s here to bolster our sense of loyalty to such a generous museum.”

Folie didn’t respond immediately: instead he continued past the hoarding and mounted another ‘Up’ ramp…

…where, simultaneously, doubt entered both youngsters’ mind.

“Ooh-er.” Folie said intellectually. “Has doubt finally entered your young mind too, Placebo?” He enquired.

“It has, Folie.” The tall, crimson-eyed polystyrene blob replied. “But I’m not backing out now: this is the opportunity of a life time. Let’s go!”

So, several seconds later, they found themselves at the passenger airlock of the Chi-Z-Sox and were confronted by two burly guards – one biological; the other a silver android..

“Who the heck are you?” The biological earplug demanded.

“You ugly sods.” The android added – rather unnecessarily, or so thought Folie.

“Placebo Bison.” Placebo replied calmly – un-phased by the guards’ apparent belligerence. “And this is my colleague, Folie Krimp.”

A smile spread across the earplug guard’s face. “Yeah, we knew that.” He said…

…”We were just fooling about. Travelling about in space does that to you. By the way – welcome aboard.”

“Follow us.” The android instructed.

Soon, Folie and Placebo…

…had gained the dizzy heights of Deck Six.

“Wow,” Folie whispered to Placebo…

…”Look – a green glow on Deck Six: it can mean only one thing.”

“Oh, by the Saint of All Earplugs.” Placebo squealed. “We’re actually standing on the bridge. The bridge of Wetworld’s sole star ship. I’m so excited, I could vomit!”

“Hello, boys.” the designer and captain of the Chi-Z-Sox, Professor Hideous Gout, said. “Hope you don’t mind being filmed by Rupert Piles and his huge TV camera…

…This is excellent PR for the museum, you know.”

“Not at all.” The rapidly-calming Placebo answered the rhetorical question. “Just as long as he doesn’t follow us into the toilet.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

They’re Back! The Earplugs Have Returned!

Happy days are here again. All of those miserable Earpluggers, missing their fix of derring-do in a universe inhabited by sentient ear plugs, can rejoice once more. The latest tale is taking shape. And it’s already appearing upon the Internet. Whatever you do, dear Earplugger, don’t miss a moment of ‘Distant Land’.

Click HERE to catch up with your missed first excerpt: and HERE for the second. You know it makes sense.

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 2)

Under normal circumstances, Major Flaccid’s subordinates would have leapt into instant action. But on this particular occasion those manning the control room of the T.W.I.T HQ, Swottan Hetty, were trying out the latest office chairs from the future and  were engaged in animated conversation about them…

Which meant that the good Major was forced to pass on the vile coffee and answer the call himself.

“What?” He roared angrily at his consequent summons to the Great Hall. “Can’t a RoboSecGua accompany your stupid guests to the Great Hall?” But then he remembered that the museum’s robotic security guards were having a brain overhaul…

…and so grumbled: “Very well, I shall accede to your demand.”

But when the Major arrived, he was alone…

“Sorry.” He explained to the waiting curators. “But my lads are busy testing some new office equipment…

…It’s a priority assignment: they’ll be along momentarily.”

And, much to everyone’s surprise, it really was only a few moments before they arrived…

…with Placebo Bison and Folie Krimp in tow.

Naturally the two young new-comers to the museum smiled sweetly, if uncertainly…

But when they learned of the special offer available to them…

…Placebo’s smile became knowing – almost as if he had anticipated something like it. And Folie was so surprised that he squeaked.

“That’s right.” Cushions Smethwyke assured them through her vast portcullis of gnashers. “You are going to go somewhere that no non-paying guest of the Museum of Future Technology has gone before: you are going into outer space!”

“Jeepers, that sounds fun.” And exuberant Folie yelped. “When do we leave?”

“Oh-Twenty-Seven hours.” Montagu informed him. “Now might I suggest that you take the intervening time to get to know each other.”

“After all,” Sir Dodger Muir added kindly, “from now one you’ll probably be spending a lot of time together. As we all know, space is huge; but space ships less so.”

So it was a slightly bedazzled pair of visitors that departed the Great Hall and began ascending an Up ramp…

“Tell you what, Folie.” Placebo said to his new yellow chum, “we should take one last look at this place. From the highest vantage point preferably. You never know, we might suffocate in the vacuum of space and never see it again.”

Although the highest vantage point was almost two kilometres above sea level, the futuristic elevator soon had them staring out at wondrous vistas…

“Cor, would ya look at that.” Placebo gasped. “The whole museum laid out before us. I guess we’ll never see anything in space that can compare to this.”

Folie decided to keep his own council. Although he appreciated the view, he couldn’t help wondering why he and Placebo were being treated so especially. This feeling was exacerbated when they came upon a huge cardboard cut-out…

Of course it hadn’t occurred to him that they were being effectively drafted.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Tasty Earplugs

Perhaps ‘tasty’ isn’t quite the right word. Maybe I should have titled this post ‘Earplugs Taster’. But if I had, then it is possible that it might not have gained your attention. But whatever, here is a visual ‘taster’ of what is to come in the latest Earplug Adventure. And very nice it is too!

Yes, I’ve been hard at work. Now please reward me by returning to read the resultant story of adventure and derring-do.

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 1)

Deep within the vast edifice that was the wondrous Museum of Future Technology…

..in which technological artefacts from future eras had been sent back through time for safe keeping in the past, several key curators assembled in the Grand Hall…

“Well,” the hugely-toothed Cushions Smethwyke began proceedings, “with the museum’s greatest hero, Magnuss Earplug, lost in the past with his girlfriend, Hair-Trigger Provost; and his heroic brothers now engaged on the task of finding him, it’s up to us to discover other earplugs to replace them. What have we done so far, Montagu?”

The turquoise biological android earplug turned to Cushions. “We have initiated a study of brain-boxes from all over the world.” He answered. “The smartest have been invited to visit the museum free-of-charge. Hopefully some of them will stay on afterwards and help protect us all from the multifarious threats that we seem to habitually face.”

“Good idea.” The bi-coloured Bubbly Salterton chipped in. “Do any stand out so far?”

“Two, old chap.” The ageing former thespian, Sir Dodger Muir, replied on Montagu’s behalf. “One is a sweet, if slightly tubby, yellow chap named Folie Krimp. The other is exploring one of our highest towers, as we speak.”

“His name is Placebo Bison.”

“And, I’m slightly reticent to relate, he isn’t an earplug at all. In fact he’s…

…a polystyrene packing piece. But, in many respects, he possesses the earplug attributes that we seek. Dare I say, he dreams of…

…touching the stars.”

“Excellent.” Cushions seemed to conclude the discussion. “We’ll decide what to do with this pair later. Now on to other business. Gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to our latest curator: Big Purp…”

On cue, the huge purple earplug, known to everyone as Big Purp, stepped into view. Naturally Rupert Piles rushed forward to record the event upon his huge television camera.

“Hello.” the vast silicon being said with a surprisingly high-pitched voice. “I’m so pleased to be here, I could scream.”

“Now, as I understand the rules of curatordom,” he continued, “as a newbie it’s up to me to suggest an action that appears altruistic, but actually benefits the Museum of Future Technology.”

“And you would be correct.” Cushions assured him.

In response Big Purp instructed Winston Gloryhole to activate the comm system…

“Who would you have me call?” Winston inquired.

At that very moment, far across the unimaginably gigantic building, the commanding officer of T.W.I.T, Major Flaccid, was…

…in the act of selecting a horrible cup of coffee from the Head Quarters’ coffee dispenser. Without warning, the comm system chimed for his attention.

“Bum wipe!” He bellowed, as only a commanding officer can. “Someone get that, will you? I can’t decide whether to plump for Crappachino or Cafe con Spittle.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Origins 1

When I first arrived upon the WWW, it was upon a now defunct platform run by Microsoft. When it closed, it was they who introduced me to WordPress, with whom I’ve continued (with a couple of breaks) ever since. In those early days I posted old movie stills and black and white pictures that featured my captions. They weren’t very popular; but neither was I. So, I figured, now that more people have become familiar with my humour, perhaps it was time to give them another airing. And here are the first of them…

“What?” I hear you yell. “How is it possible that these wondrous examples of British wit were over-looked previously?”

Yes, I had the same thought.