…But I was reading John Wyndham’s classic novel, The Day of the Triffids…
…when I got the distinct feeling I was being watched. Spooky!
…But I was reading John Wyndham’s classic novel, The Day of the Triffids…
…when I got the distinct feeling I was being watched. Spooky!
At the time of this post, ten months have passed since my wife died – and there are still (it seems) a million and one ‘things’ of hers that need to be moved on. She liked to collect all manner of ‘things’. Whatever they were, there were (are) always too many of them to fit into our small ‘modern cottage’. Not only were the common areas of the house full-to-bursting, so was the attic too. And only towards the end of her life did she finally stop, sometimes, to ask herself: “Do I really need this?” Or, more often: “Tooty says the loft is full; do I have anywhere to put this?”
I can’t imagine how many items I have passed on to charity since then – but it’s lots. Multiple car-loads. And still it keeps coming. Most of her books are now sitting on complete stranger’s shelves; but a few – the oldest tomes – are still here. This is one of them…
It’s a slim volume that was first published in 1937. This is a later copy from 1949. At 108 pages it’s hardly exhaustive, and wouldn’t really do as a proper reference book. But the flowers are beautifully drawn and painted, so really it’s an art book. On the inside cover this appears…
Clearly it was gift – from someone I will never meet, to someone else I will never meet (unless in the afterlife). In one of my often melancholy moods this made me feel a little sad. I wondered who these people were, and what happened to them. Then, as I turned the brittle pages – many of which are coming away from the dried-out spine – I found this…
One day, after receiving this gift, the recipient carried this book with (her?) and decided to collect specimens, which (she?) pressed between the relevant pages. Here is a sample of Chicory from rural Britain circa the early 1950s.
And here is some Corn-Cockle…
Lastly comes the Cuckoo Flower…
The absence of any more samples suggests that only one expedition was undertaken. But, perhaps for just one foray into the countryside, this book was precious to it’s owner. Precious enough for it to have survived and pass through any number of hands since that day. It certainly caught my wife’s eye and has survived her. So what do I do with it now? What we leave behind comes in many forms – not all of them with physical properties such as this book. They are little pieces of us: pieces that cannot die. For now I will keep this on my bookshelf. But it (the book) has nothing to do with my wife: she was only ever a custodian. Eventually (through charity shops or auction) I will probably pass it on to someone else that I will never meet: and they will wonder who the two names on the inside cover belonged to, and they will find the pressed flowers. And maybe they will add to them.
Long ago I gave up worrying about the sales figures for my ‘Silent’, Causality Merchant’, and ‘Hamster-Sapiens’ books. The extra money may have been welcome – had there been much – but it has only ever been a very minor source of income. But as the years have passed, and my promotion of the books decreased, revenues have fallen to humourous levels. So low, in fact that (because of the cost and bureaucracy) I can no longer be bothered to cash the cheques. Here’s my latest royalty payment…
After charges I might clear $7.00 US. Not worth a trip to the bank. Still, if you fancy purchasing one of my stupendous works, be my guest: it’s nice to know that people want to read them. They’re all mentioned on the sidebar. Access to the major outlets is as easy as a simple click on the cover image.
….then I must be some kind of bloody saint. It has taken me (what feels like) forever to strip out sufficient megabytes from this blog – to make room for that mass of book covers (and their contents) on the sidebar, to your left. But the task is done. From this moment forward any Earplugger can access and download all forty volumes of the Earplug Adventures. In fact some already have! These…
…wondrous works of literary brilliance, boundary-pushing photographic techniques, inspired model-making, and vast artistic merit are available ABSOLUTELY FREE AND GRATIS! The early volumes are a bit, you know, ho-hum – I was, after all, finding my feet, so-to-speak – not really knowing what I was doing, so’s best avoid them, at least initially: you can always go back to them later and giggle at my inepitude. But, whatever you choose, enjoy this load of ridiculousness. I had fun creating them: you enjoy reading them.
What with the global pandemic and everything that has followed, I felt that, during this difficult period, I should refrain from promoting my two ‘Silent’ books – they are (after all) set in a post-global pandemic world – though (hopefully) far worse than the real thing. But then, months on, I thought: ‘But they’re a good yarn: why not let people read what they bloody well want to?’ So here I am, presenting an excerpt from this book – the second of the literary duo…
As the cover suggests this book isn’t my usual comedic fare: just the opposite – with death and destruction possible at any moment. Anyway, here’s a random extract…
No one had come running at the sound of the shotgun blast. I for one was most grateful that we were all inside the compound; the door had been reattached; and for a while we had a degree of seclusion. But not for long: “Whomever set that booby trap might still be here.” Karen warned.
“I’d say it’s odds-on.” Colin agreed – recovered now that Wayne’s body lay hidden beneath a bus company tarpaulin.
“I certainly hope he is.” Shane spoke menacingly as she fingered the trigger of her shotgun.
“Me too.” Kylie said as she withdrew her pistol from its holster. But when she released the empty clip into her free hand she added, “That’s if I had any ammo left of course.”
“Likewise.” Karen and Colin said in unison; then giggled nervously at the coincidence.
Dexter meanwhile was worrying the escape door at the rear of a double decker bus.
“I guess we’ll have to take his.” He said as he nodded in the direction of the depot office building.
“His?” I queried.
“The bloke who set the booby trap.” Dexter explained. “That’s if he’s got any. Those might have been his last two shells.”
“Why do you refer to him as ‘him’?” Karen asked.
“Yeah.” Shane sided with her leader. “Could’a been a woman. Well a girl anyway.”
“A woman wouldn’t do such a thing.” Kylie said – rather naively I thought.
“What makes you so sure that ‘he’ is still here?” I asked the youngest boy in our group.
Dexter had the bus door open and was in the process of climbing aboard. Again he nodded towards the office building.
“Saw some movement in an upstairs window, didn’t I.” He replied.
‘So we’re not alone.’
“Tasman?” I asked.
Tasman looked across at the building. “As much as I admire the concept of vengeance,” he said, “I really don’t think we have the time or manpower. And like Shane said – we can’t go wasting any more lives. Irritating as it is, Wayne’s murderer will have to go free.”
‘If you call this place freedom.’
“Agreed.” I said in a tone that I hoped suggested finality, “He’ll face his accusers in a higher court than ours.”
Tasman cocked his head upon one side at this. I recognised it as a look of puzzlement.
“When he faces his maker.” I explained. “God.”
Tasman appeared to accept this. But clearly Colin, Shane, Karen, and Kylie were not about to be easily dissuaded. I could understand this. I didn’t know how long they’d been together, but they’d been through a lot with Wayne. They were almost family. They were certainly the only family any of them had left. Now their big brother lay dead beneath bus company property. Tasman and I wanted to continue with the task at hand: The others had other ideas.
It was Dexter who chose our path.
“No keys.” He shouted from inside the vehicle. “Probably hangin’ on a hook in the office.”
“Can someone check the other buses?” I suggested; but I knew my hope was forlorn.
As the only two present with decent weapons, it fell to Tasman and I retrieve the keys.
“Couldn’t we hot-wire it or something?” I whispered to my friend as we crouched en route to a parked car that stood half way between the bus and the office building.
The concrete ran with water as the incessant drizzle didn’t let up for a moment. As we closed upon the abandoned three-door hatch-back, Tasman answered.
“Could you?” He said.
‘No. And if I can’t, then by extension neither can anyone else. Great!’
We’d left our haversacks with the others, but not before donning our hand guns, and removing the hidden suppressors, and fitting them to our Heckler & Koch MP7s.
“If we’re going to have a shoot-out,” Tasman had explained, “at least our side won’t be making any noise.”
‘Hard to explain away the sound of two military weapons in a civilian town.’
As we settled behind the cover of the car, Tasman ran an attentive eye along the length of the building that faced us. The lower floor consisted of mostly solid brick wall, broken only by a door and a large observation window. The upper floor had smaller windows set into it at regular intervals along its length beneath a flat felt roof. A shot could ring out from any number of them, and we’d never be able to guess which one until it was too late.
“This is ridiculous.” I grumbled into Tasman’s shoulder.
“It is, isn’t it?” He chuckled. “Here we are – trying to save the world, and all we’re doing is fighting one of our own kind. Well your kind.”
“That’s good old Earth humans for you.” I replied as I patted him on the other shoulder. “Always ready to put a spanner in the works. So what’s the plan?”
Tasman didn’t answer immediately. Instead he verbalised his thoughts for my benefit.
“Since our enemy booby-trapped the pedestrian entrance,” He spoke softly, “logic would dictate that he would likely repeat the act with the office door. Any other door for that matter, including the back one – assuming there is one.”
I nodded agreement.
Tasman was continuing:
“Access to the upper windows are unobtainable without ladders; therefore they’re probably unprotected by semi-automatic devices like the booby trapped entrance.”
“Fine,” I said, “but we have no ladders.”
“We don’t need ladders.” He replied. “In fact we don’t need the windows either.”
He then held out his MP7 so that we could both see it. “We are going to behave as though we really know how to use these.”
I didn’t understand, and said as much.
“How would U.S Navy S.E.A.Ls get in without taking fire?” He asked.
It was a metaphorical question, but I answered it anyway.
“Down ropes – out of helicopters. Big problem: No ropes. No helicopters.”
“Doesn’t matter.” He said as nodded to a part of the building just beyond the huge observation window, “We have a drain pipe.”
I felt a nervous, girlish giggle coming on. The situation was becoming intolerably silly.
“Don’t be daft.” I said. “We’d have to get past the window – and if it’s booby trapped…”
I left it hanging there.
“What’s that white plastic thing mounted on the wall above the door?” Tasman asked in what appeared to be a complete change of subject.
I peered through the drizzle. “Um, I think it’s one of those motion detector things.”
“It detects motion.” He said. “How interesting. Why is it here?”
“It’s an anti-burglar device. When someone gets detected, a big light comes on, and everyone can see them – usually on CCTV.”
“So where is the light?” He asked.
I looked around. Several lights sat atop tall metal poles around the perimeter wall, but none appeared to point in the direction of the office. Then I noticed an unused wall bracket above the large window.
“It’s been taken down.” I said.
Tasman nodded knowingly. “How quickly do they react?”
I thought back to the security lights that Father had installed in our country home. He’d mounted several in strategic positions around the grounds, and all of them had been fabulous at illuminating various forms of wild-life as they found their way into the garden and out-buildings. I recalled that many were the times that my sister and I had watched in breathless wonder as badgers, foxes, deer, and suchlike took advantage of the food that we had laid out for them.
“A couple of seconds.” I answered, “That’s assuming that these are anything like the ones my father had fitted at home.”
“Slow.” He observed.
He then indicated the cast-iron drainpipe that he’d referred to earlier. It climbed the full extent of the two storey building, and was attached to an equally sturdy gutter at roof level.
“That is our destination.” He said.
He then turned to wave in the direction of the bus. Dexter’s hand appeared fleetingly at one of the upper windows. Moments later the plastic ‘glass’ was pushed from its rubber recess, and fell with a clatter to the concrete below. Then Shane’s single barrel appeared over the lip of the window frame. But it wasn’t the small girl who held it: It was Karen.
“Covering fire.” He explained. “Doesn’t hit much, but confuses the hell out of the enemy. Now when I say ‘run’ we run towards the drainpipe together. Don’t pull ahead of me, and whatever you do don’t lag behind me. We must be one. Understand?”
‘No – not really.’
“Yes.” I replied. “Together as one: got it.”
“Right then, my beautiful Earth female,” Tasman said, “run!”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
P.S I really should write a third book. Everyone likes a trilogy, don’t they?
Before I began this post I dug out my ancient copy of The Concise Oxford Dictionary. Looking up the word ‘enigma’ it read “Riddle; puzzling person or thing.” Well that sums up J.B Chisholm alright. Never heard of J.B Chisholm? Pity – because he/she is a most original author. When I first encountered the aforementioned, it was through this blog. J.B (a pen name – so other Internet investigators inform me) had left a comment on one of my posts – which must have been complimentary (or at least interesting), because I made the time to go visit Vasa and Ypres. And what I discovered there had me become an instant convert to the author’s fabulous sense of humour. He/She has a writing style that the author confesses was inspired by P.G Wodehouse. In fact he/she goes as far as to say that his/her characters are (sort of) a modern day female equivalent of Jeeves and Wooster – which makes them very funny indeed. J.B Chisholm published this book…
…in August of 2018. Since then readers and reviewers alike have tried – without success – to learn more of the author. But he/she remains as enigmatic as any cat. All I can bring to the mystery is that (I believe) the Vasa and Ypres site originates in Canada. Other than that I have no idea who J B Chisholm is. And, like many others, I would really like to. His/her site has gone silent – though still I urge you to visit it – if only to read the on-line extracts of the above book. Worse thing for me though is that J.B doesn’t visit this site anymore either. What has happened to this rare talent? If, like me, you enjoy the extracts of Park Avenue or Bust, the book and e-book are available through Amazon. And just to prove that I’ve put my money where my mouth is: here’s the book in my fair hands…
Big – isn’t it!
That was a reader’s quote, after his happy reading of this book…
And here’s an extract from the tale that he so enjoyed…
The first few days at Chunder Bellows School for Blistering Idiots were a total blur for Lancelot. Quite literally: The college nurse had filled his eyes with a solution that almost blinded him. It was a deliberate act: The college authorities didn’t want him identifying the persons responsible for trying to free his brain of the millstones of stupidity by beating some sense into him. But it was to no avail. All subsequent Intelligence Quotient tests came up woefully short.
Lancelot himself ached all over, and had there been a train back to Hamster Heath he would have gladly boarded it – even if he’d been forced to pedal solo for the entire journey. But as the days passed from his life – so did the bruises pass from his skin, and in next to no time at all he was well again. He even introduced the sport of Poo-Jumping to the college fitness administrator, and had a huge ramp built on the playing fields so that he could practice running down hills very fast indeed. But eventually he fell afoul of the college founder – Chunder Bellows himself. Lancelot sat nervously in the corridor as he waited to be invited into Chunder Bellows’ private suite high in the belfry. He wracked his brains as to how he’d managed to offend the legendary hamster. Was it possible that he’d accidentally failed to notice his eminence whilst shopping in the town? He didn’t think so: Chunder Bellows came from European hamster stock, and was almost twice the size of his fellows. He also wore his head fur in a turquoise Mohican cut, and swaggered so vainly that smaller creatures were often forced to dash into heavy traffic to avoid being bowled over by him. So that seemed unlikely.
Over the next hour Lancelot ran scenario after scenario through his head until he could think no more. Only when he was utterly spent mentally did the red light above Bellows’ door finally illuminate. Lancelot had been warned about this. It could mean one of three things. One: I’m free now, please enter. Two: An aerial attack is underway: Run for the shelters. Or Three: The lock on the lavatory door is broken again, and I can’t get out. It was dependent upon the number of flashes per second as to how someone should react to this visual stimulus.
The beat of the flashing light was slow and steady. To Lancelot’s mind this indicated a certain calmness of spirit. It fitted scenario One perfectly. So Lancelot knocked smartly upon the huge wooden door, and entered.
The interior of Chunder Bellows’ suite was hugely impressive – especially to a young hamster who had lived his entire life in a two-room apartment above the town cheese shop with his mother, her aunt, and someone who referred to herself as the Fairy Lesbian. It was huge, panelled throughout with dark wood, and enjoyed a view out over the grounds of the college. Lancelot couldn’t help but notice that it also enjoyed views directly into the girls changing room, showers, and unsightly nipple fur removal facility. But he said nothing.
Bellows stood, and almost filled the room with his bulk. He didn’t offer a paw of welcome. Instead he merely towered over Lancelot until the youngster began trembling. Only then did he re-seat himself, and offer Lancelot a cigar.
“Well, well – you’ve caused quite a stir.” He boomed – not angrily, but not in a friendly fashion either. But it wasn’t neutral either, and Lancelot was at a loss to describe his benefactor’s mood.
“Is it the Poo-Jumping, Sir?” Lancelot inquired nervously, “I know that several students have miss-timed their take-off, and have consequently soiled their uniforms. But I’m sure that with sufficient practice…”
Bellows cut him off with a wave of his meaty paw. “No – it’s not the Poo-Jumping.” He growled. “I only wish that it were. At least I could do something about it. No my problem is far worse. Tell me – how did you get here?”
Lancelot wondered how literal Bellows was being. Did he mean to inquire after the route that Lancelot had taken from where he’d been clandestinely urinating in the mosquito-breeding pool – to Bellow’s office? Or did he mean the college itself? Then in a moment that the young hamster would have considered an epiphany – had he been aware of the word – he realized that during his brief time at Chunder Bellows he’d learned to think in a slightly less linear mode, and could now see alternatives to his first, and usually only, thought. It had been a general question: Not specific to time and place. The grand master of the college was asking after Lancelot’s reasons for approaching the college in order to gain entry to its hallowed halls of learning.
“It was either this – or extermination.” He blurted. Then in a more calm manner explained that he’d actually failed the Right To Adult Existence examination during his last year at school, but was given a reprieve when the mysterious Fairy Lesbian put a spell upon the examination board members, and demanded that they allow him one more chance. If he could prove them all desperately wrong by maturing into a hamster of average intellect, he would be allowed to live beyond his tender years, and not consequently waste millions of Rodentos being housed, fed, and entertained courtesy of the public purse because he was too stupid or bone-idle to get a job.
Bellows nodded sagely at this. Then he leaned forward in his chair, and peered at Lancelot in a most disturbing fashion. “That’s all very interesting – but it’s not the answer I was looking for.”
He then explained that he’d meant ‘how did Lancelot get from Hamster Heath to Poxford’?
“The last train to Poxford.” Lancelot chirped gleefully – fully aware that such a journey would never again be made, and as a result his momentous journey would go down in history.
Bellows peered some more. “Do you recall any of the passengers?” He asked.
Lancelot thought back over the intervening months. Only one person stood out from the crowd. “There was a pretty girl with powerful thighs pedalling on the seat opposite.” He recalled. “She stood out a bit.”
Bellows had a weakness for pretty girls. “Really – in what way?”
“She wore crotch-less knickers. From where I was seated it looked like two sand eels wrestling in a thicket.”
For a moment Lancelot thought that Bellows was going to have a heart attack. And it was this simple act of Bellows clutching at his chest and fighting for breath that brought forth a second recollection of the journey for the young hamster. “Oh yes that reminds me – there was that lovely middle-aged female who might have been having a myocardial infarction!”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013
I was surprised, when I checked out one of my books at Barnes & Noble, to discover that these books…
…bore a temporary label that read Book of the Month. Naturally I was pleased, and duly read the sample pages of the latter book. Here is a snippet from those pages…
When next I awoke I knew for certain that the world around me was real and tangible. There was a smell of straw and ancient timbers permeating the air. Once again I lay upon my back, but now the azure sky had been replaced by the sight of the cobweb-strewn rafters of an old wooden barn.
Sitting upright I discovered that I was alone – save only for the company of a wood mouse that searched amongst the detritus upon the floor close to the large double doors. It skittered away as I gained my feet. As it did so I discovered that I wore the combat fatigues from the vision of the past presented to me by Tasman. The strange, unrecognisable hand gun hung from an iron hook that had been driven into one of the oak uprights.
I felt a pain in my head. My hand discovered that someone had inexpertly wrapped my head in a bandage. I was relieved when it came away unbloodied, and the pain subsided.
Feeling better I decided to take stock of the situation in which I found myself. Firstly I knew that my name was Felicity Goldsmith.
‘A good place to start.’
I appeared to be some form of soldier. Or was I a paint-baller? The thought appalled me. No, I was certain that I’d never been a paint-baller.
I knew a boy who has eyes like a goat. It was odd that I didn’t think of his eyes as particularly unusual.
‘Again what else?’
I came up empty. Try as I may, I could find nothing more leaking out from my closed-off memory. I knew that I should have felt fear – or at least an appropriate portion of apprehension – with the situation. It was quite possible that I was brain damaged, or I’d simply lost my mind. But Tasman’s calm demeanour, and his gentle delivery had staved off the panic for another time.
‘Or preferably never.’
With nothing better to do I climbed to my feet. I felt stiff, and wondered if that was what octogenarians felt like all the time. I then placed the weapons belt around my waist; and made for the large rickety double doors.
Upon emerging from the ancient barn, I wasn’t surprised to find myself standing in an old flint and brick walled farm yard. Beside the barn there stood several lichen-coated brick buildings originating in several eras. They all showed the evidence of a great passing of time, and it occurred to me that the farm might not be a working farm, but was instead a farm museum. The area was littered by the detritus of years. Old farm equipment lay about that looked not only decades out of date, but possibly centuries. Masonry crumbled here and there, and the roof of one particularly old outbuilding had been stoved in. Patches of briar were encroaching, and weeds abounded everywhere except the areas that were either paved with concrete, or cobbled. I could see young animals corralled at several points within the farmstead. From my position I could make out small numbers of sheep, cattle, pigs, and goats. Through a gap in some mature trees I discerned a pond upon which ducks sailed less than majestically. From a rickety edifice beside the charming flint farmhouse emerged the sounds of chickens clucking contentedly.
I was still studying the inexpertly erected chicken coop when a boy of roughly ten years emerged from the farmhouse. He held an empty wicker basket in each hand. Without noticing me standing there in my incongruous ‘uniform’ he let himself into the coop through a shaky wire door.
“Hello…” I called in what I hoped was a friendly inquiring tone.
The boy looked up. His recognition of me was instantaneous, and he smiled broadly, before dropping his baskets; letting himself back out of the coop; and dashing back inside the farmhouse.
“Tasman,” I heard him calling as his booted feet thundered up the stair to the upper floor, “Felicity’s up and about!”
I smiled as those same two feet then raced back down the stair; carried their owner across the yard at break neck speed; and then stopped dead in front of me. I then received a hug that almost crushed the wind out of me.
“Oh Fel,” he breathed, “I never thought you’d ever open your eyes again.”
I had no idea who the urchin was, or why he was so glad to see me, but it was nice to be wanted.
“Thank you.” I replied. “It’s nice to be back: Where have I been?”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
These books are also available at Amazon, Lulu, Apple iBooks, and various others. And very nice they are too – if rather violent at times. Well they do feature genocide, so a little violence is to be expected.
A few years ago – maybe four or five – I began writing the third in my ‘serious’ Causality Merchant series of sci-fi mysteries. Half way through the third draft I tossed it aside and (instead) took on the mantle of the “world’s premier earplug author”*. I keep promising myself to pick it up again and give it a second chance; but, somehow, it just never seems to happen. So, to this end, I’ve decided to give myself a metaphorical kick up the arse and try to produce some inspiration to continue. And what better way than to test out a snippet from the first book…
If the response from readers is good enough, I just might give it another try. Here it is – selected purely at random. Hope you enjoy it…
It was an hour later when Janice passed by the Study window, en route to the sideboard. Her timing was such that she witnessed Wozniak ease the slightly battered sports car into the driveway. He then drove it from sight around the end of the house. She found the packet of Band-Aids she was looking for in a drawer, and quickly made her way into the hallway, where she opened the front door – leaving it slightly ajar.
A half-minute later Wozniak slipped into the house. As carefully as his big frame would allow, he crept to the kitchen door, which Janice had also deliberately left ajar for him, and paused to listen.
Katherine Marcus was sitting at the table as Janice gently applied a Band-Aid to a small wound upon her forehead.
“There, that should keep the bugs at bay.” Janice said in a satisfied tone.
Katherine was clearly still suffering from a degree of shock – as well as a splitting headache; but she still managed a smile of thanks to Janice.
Janice may not have believed that this Katherine Marcus seated before her was in anyway different to the Katherine Marcus who verbally abused her on an almost daily basis; but if the woman was going to play the role of innocent victim, Janice was all for going along with it – just to see how far the other woman was prepared to go. Why Marcus was doing this to Peter remained a mystery to her: But if her friend and employer needed his help – and clearly he did – she was prepared to go to pretty much any length to be there for him. To this end she regarded Katherine with a friendly demeanour as she placed the kettle upon the stove.
“I expect you’d like a nice hot cup of tea after that nasty bang.”
“Sorry…?” Katherine tried to find a name.
“Janice Gale.” Janice replied with a smile upon her face. “I’m the housekeeper here: The ‘woman who does’. Do you take sugar in your tea?”
Katherine appeared confused.
“Tea?” She inquired through a puzzled expression.
‘It’s a good act’, Janice thought, as she smiled sweetly in response. Out loud she said, “Perhaps you’d prefer coffee? It’s only instant I’m afraid: the coffee machine sprang a leak weeks ago, and I haven’t got round to mending it yet.”
Katherine appeared grateful at the suggestion:
“Coffee would be wonderful. Perhaps you have something for pain too? I have a headache the size of Wycksford.”
Janice’s eyes narrowed at the mention of the imaginary village. She knew for certain that the illusionary village of Wycksford did not exist; and Marcus must surely know that she knew.
‘What is this woman up to?’ She asked herself. Then a sudden thought struck that caused Janice to feel very uncomfortable in her presence. ‘Heavens: Maybe she’s schizoid: She could be as mad as a March hare!’
“Certainly,” she said in the most matronly manner she could muster, “but I don’t think I have any aspirins: would paracetamols do? You’re not allergic, or anything?”
Katherine shook her head. “I don’t know what paracetamols are. I might be allergic to them. I don’t know. I suffer quite a few allergies you know. Are you sure you don’t have aspirins? I think my head’s about to explode.”
“Well I could look in the bathroom.” Janice replied – uncertain if she should leave the strange woman alone in the kitchen. “There might be an old packet lying about in the cabinet. Just wait here a moment; I’ll take a look.”
Janice quickly exited the kitchen – where she found Wozniak skulking in the shadows of the hall.
“Did you see that?” He whispered as he made sure that the kitchen door was closed securely behind Janice. “She’s never heard of something as dull and ordinary as paracetamol: surely that must mean something.”
Janice brushed past him toward the stairs.
“She’s never heard of tea either, apparently. What does it mean? It means that she’s probably suffering from concussion. Now I’m going to see if I can find some aspirins. Then I really think we should take her to a doctor.”
Wozniak pounced upon this.
“Then you think she’s behaving oddly too?”
Janice started up the stairs.
“I always think she’s behaving oddly: she’s an odd woman. But she could also be play-acting, or suffering from some form of schizophrenia. But whichever it is – that head wound is real enough.”
Wozniak pursued Janice up the stairs, speaking louder with every step:
“I saw you jump when she mentioned Wycksford: doesn’t that suggest something?”
“What?” Janice stopped upon the stair for a moment. She was becoming frustrated with a situation – the like of which she had never experienced before. She felt ill equipped to handle it sensibly anymore. This was definitely ‘Wozniak Territory’.
“What does it suggest?” She snapped. “Nothing: that’s what. Of course she mentioned Wycksford.” She said desperately. “She invented the damned place!”
With that she continued upon her way up the stair, and entered the bathroom. There she began going through the contents of the vanity unit.
“No, Janice; you’re wrong:” Wozniak appeared at the head of the stairs. He shook his head. “She mentioned Wycksford because to her it’s a real place. Somewhere she knows well. Home perhaps. The way she described her headache suggests that it’s quite a big place too.”
Janice emerged from the vanity unit clutching a foil wrapper containing just two tablets.
“Look I don’t care right now.” She said. “I’m going to take that woman these last two aspirins in the house; and then perhaps we’ll take a little air in the garden. I take it you’ve hidden the car sufficiently well?”
“In the garage.” Wozniak replied whilst letting Janice past. “I’ll watch from the window.”
“Whatever.” Janice spoke curtly over her shoulder as she descended the stair.
‘I’m pushing too hard’, Wozniak thought to himself as he heard the kitchen door open, and Janice’s gentle voice offering Katherine the aspirins; ‘Just let the facts speak for themselves’.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
This book, and it’s sequel, are available at Lulu, iBooks, Amazon and Barnes & Noble (see sidebar or relevant page beneath the header) and most other e-book stockists. The paperback is available at Lulu.com.
* Quote from a work colleague who is a supportive follower of my earplug escapades and who has often supplied me with the raw materials required to shoot the pictures. i.e earplugs.
I couldn’t help but notice that, incredibly (and against the grain of recent times), sales of this book…
…have perked up. Thank you to all those e-book purchasers. Of course, what I’d really like is for those readers (and others) to come back for the (better) sequel – written a full decade after the original. It looks like this…
And a portion of the text closely resembles this. All the characters in this extract are teenagers, by the way.
For whatever reason, everyone had expected that we’d take the bus upon our sojourn. Everyone with the exception of Jason. If the rest had thought they’d properly explored Crag Base, they were all very mistaken. Jason, though, had thoroughly explored the huge subterranean refuge. He’d been over it with a fine tooth comb. With the exception of Tasman and I he was the only person who knew about the lower garage in which various United Nations vehicles had been mothballed for the duration. There were several types hidden beneath heavy canvas covers – ranging from single seated ‘despatch rider’ motorcycles to large six-wheeled amphibious off-roaders. In between these extremes were several small four-wheelers ranging from quad bikes through Land Rovers, Humvees, and three lightly armoured vehicles, the design of which none of us recognised.
The general consensus (once I’d presented everyone with the sight of the cavernous garage) was that the amphibious vehicles were beyond our ability to drive safely; the Humvees would stand out like a sore thumb; but that the Land Rovers would do fine once we’d stripped them of their very obvious military appearance.
‘Exactly what I was thinking.’
Stripping away the U.N insignia from (and re-pressurising the tyres of) the two Land Rovers that Jason selected took perhaps a half-hour. Charging the batteries naturally took considerably longer; but by nightfall we had ourselves two pristine, low-mileage, ex-Ministry of Defence Land Rovers ready to roll.
Jason, I’d decided, would drive one: Kylie the other. Two vehicles, I considered, was prudent. Three might have gained someone’s attention, and looked too much like a tempting convoy just begging to be ambushed. If we took one and it became disabled it might be a long walk home. Two seemed to me to be the perfect number.
Jason was unable to disguise his eagerness. “When do we shove off?” He asked. “It’ll be dark outside by now. It’s the perfect time to leave.”
“Yes it is.” I replied as I checked my watch. “Why don’t you bring down the elevator.”
Had there been any exterior lights on Crag Base they would have been far astern of us when I finally stole a backward glance. The world around us was cloaked in impenetrable blackness. Even the Moon and stars had failed to make an appearance in the overcast late autumn sky. I’d hoped that the drivers could use night vision goggles to see where they were going without the need of headlights, but we hadn’t driven more than a hundred metres from the derelict service station before Jason ran off the road, and slithered to a halt upon the tussock-strewn verge. I’d suggested that perhaps we could run on minimal lighting in the shape of side lights, but Jason had discovered an unmarked switch upon the dashboard that when depressed lit up his goggles almost as brightly as day.
“Infra-red headlights.” He cheered. “We can see, but to anyone else we’re invisible.”
“That’s comforting.” Kylie had replied as she ran back to her vehicle to find a similar switch upon her dashboard. “Just as long as they don’t have night vision goggles too.”
Before long we’d passed the roadside café and were amongst the hills. With the loosest of plans to guide us we began the long descent to the level ground beyond the ridge of hills that hid the sea. We were once more amongst the overgrown back roads when I finally began to question the wisdom of the trip. How exactly did I intend to find the Espeeg? Let them find me perhaps? Should we turn on the lights and draw some attention to ourselves? But what if we drew the attention of the wrong people? What if we encountered terrestrial humans? Did we surrender to them – or fight our way through? Neither was acceptable: ergo we could not make our presence obvious. Then an idea formed inside my head…
“Pull over.” I instructed Kylie.
She gave me a questioning look, but complied without speaking. As the Land Rover bounced to a halt upon the muddy verge Jason followed with the second vehicle. As he drew alongside he shouted through his side window.
“Forgot to pack your mascara or something?”
“I have a stunning plan.” I said as I opened my door and dismounted. “I don’t think you’re going to like it. Let’s have a pow-wow.”
I’d been quite accurate when I’d told Jason that I had a stunning plan; I just didn’t realise how stunning and in what manner it would affect the others. I watched as a look of incredulity appeared upon all their faces.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
The aforementioned tomes are available on-line at many e-book suppliers. Check out the page beneath the header or on the side bar → to access Lulu / iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. Also appears in paperback form at Lulu. Just thought you should know.
Every so often I try to introduce readers of this blog to my more serious fiction. It’s not exactly plentiful. Four books in total – and I haven’t written a new one in years. But oldies can be goldies – right? Right! And just to prove it, here is a sample from this book/e-book…
Although it was now over a year since disaster had struck across the entire globe, and reduced humanity to scattered remnants, we were still careful to walk at the side of the road, and be prepared to leap to safety on the verge or through a hedge. Few cars remained running – their owners eking out what remained of their precious fuel – but we weren’t surprised to hear the approach of an aging diesel engine.
Stepping onto the grassy verge we checked each other’s haversacks for signs of protruding semi-automatics. Of course, had there been a need for rapid deployment of self-defence weapons, we both carried Colonel Cosgrove-supplied Berreta 84Fs strapped to our ankles.
Unsurprisingly a well-worn four-wheel-drive vehicle rounded the nearest corner. It was towing a small trailer upon which several straw bales were lashed expertly. I couldn’t help but notice that the vehicle was a Land Rover, and appeared to my eyes to be identical to the one in which Candice had sacrificed her life so that the rest of us could escape the clutches of Nigel Hawley and his private army. It even had the same fawn canvas cover on the rear bed. Even now I could still see that cover bursting off as the two hand grenades exploded inside the vehicle.
I must have made some sound at the recollection, because Tasman’s head snapped around to look at me.
“What is it?” He said nervously as his hand began to reach downwards towards his hidden Beretta.
I shook my head. “Nothing.” I said, “Don’t worry about me. Just concentrate on the driver; see if you can deduce his intentions.”
It was necessary for Tasman to relax in order to best use his telepathic powers. He shook his joints loose; closed his eyes; and breathed out slowly through his nose.
“I don’t get a name.” He said as the Land Rover laboured up the rise to where we stood, “But he comes across as non-belligerent. Ah, he’s a farmer’s son. Hmm – he seems to be having trouble keeping the farm going. Lack of staff, maybe. He could be eyeing us up as potential work-mates.”
“No thanks; done that; bought several T-shirts.” I replied. “Is he alone?”
Tasman nodded. Moments later the vehicle covered the final few metres.
“Here he comes.” I said out of the side of my mouth. “Big cheesy smiles.”
As the Land Rover pulled alongside us, we could barely hear the driver’s cheerful hail above the din of its clattering diesel engine.
“Hello, you two.” He shouted from the side window of the two-seat cabin, “You’re from yon farm along the way, aint ya?”
I raised an eyebrow at this; I was somewhat surprised that the young man of (I estimated) eighteen or nineteen was aware of us. We’d chosen a well-hidden spot in a shallow valley that was all but invisible from the road.
He must have read my mind because he tapped the side of his nose, winked, and said, “Spent all me life ‘round these parts: pays to know who the competition are – ‘specially during times of plague and pestilence.”
“Yes, I imagine so.” I said as I extended a hand towards him. “Felicity Goldsmith.”
“Graham Perkins.” He replied – cutting the engine, and taking my fingers in his huge, calloused hands. “It’s nice to meet someone’s what’s civilised for a change.”
I was surprised at the coarseness of his hands. They felt like those of a man three times his age that had spent a lifetime tilling the land.
‘A farmer’s son. I think I can trust this man.’
Tasman then introduced himself as Brian Wilkins. I was glad that Tasman had slipped in a pair of his contact lenses; explaining his oblong pupils would have been problematical.
“I hope you don’t mind,” Graham spoke to both of us, “but I’ve been keeping a bit of an eye on your farm. I figured everybody’d be here when I found Soverton empty a few months back.”
I nodded; it was from the village of Soverton that we’d recruited the members of our co-operative.
“If you don’t mind me saying,” Graham was continuing, “you could use a bit of expertise down there.”
Although I bristled inside, I said nothing to the older boy. I merely looked at him with what I hoped was an inquiring expression.
“Them winter crops in the lower field.” He went on, “You need to sow ‘em further up the slope.”
Tasman threw me a glance. I could read nothing into it, and so wished that he could have used his telepathy upon me.
“Would you be interested in joining our co-operative?” He asked the young farmer.
Graham pretended to pause for thought. “Well I wasn’t exactly planning on something quite so bold.” He replied eventually.
Tasman continued as though the other boy hadn’t spoken, “It’s just that Felicity and I have business elsewhere, and it’s…you know…”
It let his words trail off into nothingness.
Graham grinned. “And you’d like someone what knows what he’s doing to take over?” He said hopefully.
“Pretty much.” Tasman replied.
I was surprised at the sudden turn of events.
‘Hey, this isn’t part of the master plan!’
I was concerned that we were in the process of giving away the fruits of many week’s labour to a complete stranger.
‘But wait a moment, Fel: Tasman might be too polite to read your mind, but you can bet your last…whatever…that he’s read Graham’s. Now would be the perfect time for two-way silent communication between us.’
I tried ‘sending’ Tasman a thought, but I expected him to be too busy concentrating his attention upon Graham to even begin to ‘hear’ me.
“Is this boy the real deal?”
Tasman’s eyes flicked in my direction: I detected the minutest of nods.
Graham appeared to be prevaricating, though I was certain it was just an act.
“It’s not every day that a lad your age gets offered the manager’s job on a working farm, complete with live-in staff.” I pointed out to him.
Graham’s head tipped to one side slightly in agreement. He then added, “No, and it isn’t every day that world ends either.”
I wasn’t absolutely certain what he meant by that remark. Perhaps he had more work on his hands than he could deal with. Maybe running our farm as well as his own would be too much for him.
“Could you give me a tour?” He inquired.
Had he asked the question twenty-four hours earlier, Tasman would undoubtedly have agreed to his request: But today wasn’t yesterday. Although no one at the farm knew it yet, Tasman and I were Absent Without Leave. Or in Lee’s parlance, we’d ‘done a runner’. We couldn’t go back; it would require that we explain the reason for our departure, and then face all the arguments that would no doubt be intended to keep us there.
“Tell you what.” Tasman said, “You know where the turning to the farm is: If I write a quick note of introduction, you can find your own way there. Ask for Carl, and show it to him. He’ll gladly show you around. He knows the farm isn’t nearly as efficient as it should be, and could use some pointers. And if truth be known – we’re a little over-manned: Perhaps you could take a few kids back to your place?”
This must have been exactly what Graham had wanted to hear. “I accept your kind offer.” He said whilst shaking Tasman’s hand.
He then produced a dog-eared note pad and an almost blunt pencil from a cubbyhole in the dashboard of his Land Rover.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
Needless to say, this charming (and at times violent) e-book is available all over the place – see beneath the header, or on the sidebar, for some of the better-known outlets – and as a paperback at Lulu.com.
I can’t remember when I last posted an extract of my best work – that being these books…
So today I’m correcting that omission. Ladies and Gentlemen may I present an excerpt from Silent Resistance – a book I’m rather proud of…
It was only as we approached the last door in line along the corridor that I realized that I’d made a mistake. In my reality this final door opened into an office: here it led to a stairway. I could see the stairs as I dared take a quick peek through a small wired glass window set into the door. In that nervous glance I’d also noticed something else: a shotgun booby trap much like the one upon the floor below. I informed the others about the situation.
“Great.” Shane said in her most sarcastic manner, “So how are we supposed to get at him now?
“We don’t.” Dainam answered her question. “We make him come to us.”
Leaving Shane and Killer to keep watch upon the door to the upper floor, Dainam and I returned to the lower level where he’d noticed various cupboards, filing cabinets, and drawers. After a couple of minutes searching through them Dainam came up trumps. He brandished a plastic box containing a set of screwdrivers.
‘Seek and ye shall find.’
Returning to the next floor we propped a table from one of the offices against the door to the stair so that it couldn’t move outward. Then using the screwdrivers Dainam and I set about the screws that held the door hinges in place.
The screws had been wound into the timber frame many decades past – probably by burly builders, and for several minutes neither of us could make much headway with the task; but we stuck at it – often cursing as we whacked our knuckles each time the screwdrivers slipped. But fifteen sweat-inducing minutes later we had unfastened all of them, and now only the office table held the door in situ. Shane then tied a length of electrical cable to one of the table legs, and holding the other end of the cable in her free hand she retreated to where Dainam, Killer, and I waited in the relative safety of the adjacent room.
As she backed into our temporary sanctuary she said, “Ready?”
I nodded, and she yanked firmly upon the cable. This in turn twisted the table away from the door, which allowed it to fall outwards into the corridor – pulling with it a length of string that was attached to the shotgun trigger as it did so.The double blast of both barrels in such a confined space almost deafened us, and sent us reeling further into the office to escape the cloud of dust and smoke that suddenly filled every available space. Fortunately the blast destroyed the exterior window – sending an avalanche of splintered glass out into the bus park, where it fell to the tarmac surface below. This had the effect of venting some of the smoke and dust, for which we were most grateful; but it was still very difficult to see in the murk and gloom of the grey autumn day. As we emerged into the blasted corridor we all heard the clatter of feet descending the stair. The next second I realized that we were not alone as a dark shape passed between me and the feeble light that the ruined window allowed in. Whether he saw me I don’t know, but I was taking no chances. I lashed out at his head with the butt of my MP7. It wasn’t a telling blow, but it made the booby-trapper stumble. Dainam released Killer, and in bound from a standing start she brought the person crashing down, and pinned him face-down among the debris. The dust continued to dissipate, and as Shane disarmed him, it was obvious that he was an adult. He was also unconscious – or at least pretending to be. A quick check of his eyes, and I kicked him in the stomach for good measure. He wasn’t acting.
“He’s out cold.” I said as Dainam pulled Killer away.
“If he’s not, I’ll set Killer on him again.” Dainam replied.
“Say that again – in Espeeg.” Shane suggested.
Dainam did so, but the Espeeg failed to respond.
“You’re right, Fel.” She said. “He’s out cold.”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013
These books are available in e-book and paperback. Click here to see the better-known outlets.
I say that, because recently I discovered a comment that I made in 2009 upon someone else’s blog, which talked about writing and being a writer. At that time I was writing avidly and had great hopes. This is the comment I made back then:
During the 90’s I tried desperately to get into writing for TV – and came horribly close once or twice. But eventually my resolve was worn down, and I quit – everything – and went on a sabbatical to Spain. There I discovered ‘proper writing’. Or rather I discovered that I could write fiction – and, surprisingly, comedy too. But it wasn’t until I created my two WordPress sites (The Bucktooth Times and Nauseous Nolan) in 2008, upon which I posted extracts of my comedy material, that I found that other people shared my off-beat sense of humour, and not only encouraged me to publish my work, but actively went in search of it upon Lulu, Amazon, E-bay, etc . And the amount of blogs that have plagiarized me is astounding: So I guess I must be hitting the right keys in the right order every so often. But although there is the potential for millions of readers to view my work – out there upon the internet – until those same people can actually hold my book in their hands – or at least conjure up its electronic equivalent upon their Sony Reader or Kindle – I can’t really call myself a writer.
Opinions anyone? P.S – yes I know one should never begin a sentence with the word ‘And’ – but rules are meant to be massaged and reconfigured into interesting new shapes – aren’t they? And anyway – I like it – it suits my style.
Paul Trevor (Tooty) Nolan
So what the heck went wrong? Whatever happened to The Bucktooth Times and Nauseous Nolan? I can’t even remember them! And when did that air of confidence evaporate? And see – I can still begin a sentence with ‘And’.
On the upside, I did discover that I’m now available on Walmart. Somehow that seems fitting. Check it out.
P.S This shot comes from the above era. Now, sadly, I’m a wizened gnome.
Every day millions of readers write in to say: “We want more Psychic Historian”. Well, actually, it was one – and she was far too polite to demand. But numbers don’t count. It’s not quantity, but quality that matters. So, in order to keep the several million (and one) happy – here is another extract from this wondrous e-tome…
A young male hamster – perhaps only a short while out of his adolescence – sat upon the seat of a busy train. Like the passengers around him he was peddling furiously, and hating every second of it.
“I think that it’s disgusting.” A middle-aged female of huge dimensions spoke haughtily beside him, “It’s not enough that we have to pay for our seat: Now we have to power the train as well!”
The young hamster nodded sadly. “Indeed madam,” he replied, “but you know what this socialist government’s like: Any popular bandwagon – and they’re aboard – with bells ringing and whistles blowing. The Eco-Green Liberals said that steam, electric, and diesel trains were abominations: The government thought that everyone agreed: And here we are – peddling for all we’re worth.”
“Yes,” the middle-aged female gasped, “and when people stopped using the trains as often – the same idiot government decided that since fewer trains were running, they could cut the services, tear up all the tracks, and melt them down to make bombs and suchlike. It’s lunacy: Sheer lunacy!”
“Are you going all the way?” The young hamster inquired.
“To Poxford?” The middle-aged female responded after taking a few puffs upon an inhaler. “Yes – if I don’t suffer a myocardial infarction before we get there. My litter lives there you see. I’m visiting – possibly for the last time.”
“The last time?” The young hamster was suddenly alarmed, “Do you expect to perish soon?”
The middle-aged hamster tried to laugh, but she couldn’t spare the oxygen, “I don’t plan to.” She managed, “It’s just that this is the last train to Poxford. The line closes tonight. And I can’t drive a go-kart because I don’t know my left steering string from my right steering string. And the principle of breaking into corners confounds me mightily. Until some brain-box starts up a bus service, or I evolve into a non-corporeal being with the ability to teleport, I’ll have to stay at home and pine for my offspring.”
This information came as quite a surprise to the young hamster. “If this is the last train to Poxford – how will I get home again after completing my business there?”
By now the middle-aged female was close to collapse. “Fluffed if I know.” She gurgled before slumping unconscious in her seat.
Moments later the conductor entered the carriage. Spotting the comatose female he barked, “This simply isn’t good enough. We can’t have slackers slowing down the
train: We have a time-table to keep to.”
He then stopped the train, and had the poor unfortunate female lowered to the side of the track, where she was rolled down an embankment by several members of the galley staff, and left sitting upon a roadside bench with a sign around her neck that read ‘Useless Slacker’.
“She can find her own way to Poxford.” He spat.
Soon the train was underway once more. Several disgusted passengers had chosen to disembark with the comatose female, and gesticulated rudely as the train pulled away. As a result of this there were far fewer legs to power the train along, and so it was an age before it finally drew into the station at the beautiful university town of Poxford.
Soon the young male hamster found himself walking along a colonnade of (what appeared at first sight to be) market stalls. But rather than being the purveyors of fruit, vegetables, unpleasantly sweating meat products, and sunglasses of dubious origin, the stalls were actually the point of contact between any would-be students, and the representatives of the town’s universities.
“Come and scrutinize our literature. Study our informative prospectus.” Those who manned the stalls would cry out. “Look how nicely we’ve laid out our campus.”
The young hamster was impressed by their entrepreneurial skills. He stopped and chatted with several before finally settling upon a college that enjoyed the moniker, ‘The Chunder Bellows School for Blistering Idiots’.
“Hello.” He smiled as he introduced himself to the ageing wood mouse behind the counter, “I’ve checked-out all the other colleges here today, and I’ve decided that your college is the one best suited to my needs.”
The ageing wood mouse took up a quill made from the tail feather of a wren, and dipped into a pot of ink. He then prepared himself to write upon a large sheet of headed notepaper.
“Name?” The wood mouse inquired in a disinterested tone.
For a moment this seemed to stump the young hamster. Then realization struck, and he smiled: Obviously the old mouse was almost blind. “It’s there – at the top of the page.” He informed the wood mouse.
“Ugh?” The wood mouse responded in puzzlement.
“Chunder Bellows School for Blistering Idiots.” The young hamster nodded pleasantly – pleased to have been able to help.
“You what?” the wood mouse was now even more perplexed. “Your name is the same as the college you wish to join? That seems more than coincidental.”
Now it was the turn of the young hamster to be confused. “But my name is Lancelot Ballesteroid!” He cried out in surprise.
In an instant the ageing wood mouse understood. “Ah,” he began to write the words Lancelot Ballesteroid in the box marked ‘name’, “it appears that you have indeed selected your college well: For certainly you are a blistering idiot.”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019
Well then check out this re-write of a re-write of a re-write from a few years past that features just two pages from The Psychic Historian...
If you are one of those lovely readers who come back time after time, I thank you. There would little point doing this if it weren’t for your presence here. But in becoming those very people I most need, you leave yourselves open to literary abuse. Yes – you are a Captive Audience: and as such you will be subjected to extracts from my books – without warning! Books such as these…
Books that aren’t funny! And here are two such extracts…
Janice found Wozniak floundering around the room in search of something.
“Janice – have you cleaned up in here?” He asked.
She gave him a look that spoke volumes.
“Sorry.” He said, slightly shame-faced. “Of course you have: forgive me.”
Janice felt magnanimous. “Consider yourself forgiven. What are you looking for?”
“Last night Katherine – that’s my Katherine Marcus – brought me a strange flower. Have you seen it?”
“Oh yes – that strange black daisy. I put it into water. It’s in the window – behind the drape.”
But when they both looked in the window they found only a vase containing discoloured water.
“I could have sworn…” Janice began, but quickly dried up.
“Oh, you put it there all right, Janice – I don’t doubt it at all.” Wozniak said – shaking his head – a bitter smile upon his face. “But it’s gone now.”
It took a few seconds for Janice to get her thoughts in order. Then she said, “But I don’t understand: why would whoever took the car, also take the flower? Surely they weren’t connected in any way. Didn’t you say Doctor Marcus gave it to you?”
She then considered her own question. Wozniak was perfectly happy to let her do some thinking: he already had his own theory – and he didn’t want to let on to Janice just yet.
“The connection is Katherine Marcus.” Janice continued, and then abruptly stopped.
‘Where am I going with this?’ She asked herself.
Wozniak didn’t want to hurry Janice; nevertheless he couldn’t help himself from saying, “And?”
Janice looked him in the eye. “And?” She questioned his spur. “Have you jumped to the end already – and now you’re waiting for me to catch up?”
“I’ve formed a hypothesis, if that’s what you mean.” Wozniak replied. “Go on – ‘and’?”
So Janice continued: “Well, ‘and’ all I can suggest is that Doctor Marcus and the mystery ‘doppelganger’ are, in fact, one and the same. She is playing some huge, weird, ridiculous joke – and you are the victim.”
Wozniak ambled across the spacious room and seated himself at the table. He gave Janice a rueful smile.
“You don’t believe that for a moment.” He stated.
Janice dropped into the seat opposite him.
“Absolutely I don’t: but I can’t think of any other explanation that comes closer to making sense. Well my kind of sense anyway!” Then she looked him in the eye again. “But you can – can’t you? Go on – out with it!”
Wozniak seemed to prevaricate for a moment. He gave a weak smile as he tried half-heartedly to squirm his way out of an explanation. “You’ll think I’m potty.”
“I can only agree or disagree.” She urged.
“No, you can do more than that.” He said – his half-smile fading, “You can lose your respect for me.”
This surprised Janice. “My respect?” She queried. “Why would you worry over such a little thing as that? I’m only your house keeper, you know: not your editor, or whatever it is you call them these days.”
“You’re not ‘only’ anything.” Wozniak came close to sounding annoyed with Janice for the first time. “You’re an intelligent human being whom I happen to respect a great deal. I’d like to think it was reciprocal. And I’d like to keep it that way.”
Janice had been surprised at the disappearance of the car; but it was nothing compared with this outburst. She had always assumed that Wozniak merely tolerated her: but now he calls her by her first name: then seeks her advice as an equal upon a subject in which she has no expertise. And now he talks of respect…
‘But I’m only the woman-who-does’, she told herself.
Something in her look must have transmitted itself to Wozniak because he said, “If I didn’t care what you thought of me, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Don’t take this as an insult, Janice – but you are not a woman of the world. You form your opinions from what you hear in the village, and what you watch on the television. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: I’m not condemning it. Now I have to say that it does give you a narrow perspective. You tend to form your opinions, and stick to them without considering an alternative…”
Janice interrupted. It wasn’t in her nature to simply sit back and listen:
“What’s wrong with sticking to my guns?” She demanded.
Wozniak had expected this. He continued, “If you’re sure that you’re right – then nothing at all. You’d be right to stick to your guns. But that’s my point, Janice: I’ve known you – how long?”
Janice didn’t have to think about the question for long.
“Three months and four days. You owe me back pay for two weeks and four days of that.” She smiled as she spoke the last sentence.
“Right – on both counts.” Wozniak matched her smile. “In those three months and four days I’d like to think that I’ve got to know you pretty well – though it has taken me rather too long to drop the Miss Gale moniker, I confess. My point is – you make up your mind – and that’s that. The thought of altering your opinion doesn’t enter your head. Your life-views are those of your mother. She formed them as a young woman – transferred them to you – and that’s where they’ve stuck. You’re a product of your environment and upbringing.”
Janice went to speak again, but Wozniak held up a hand to stay her lips.
“But a lot of those beliefs were good ones.” He continued, “Morals; good behaviour; and all those sort of things that so many people seem to have forgotten these days: they’re good. More importantly they’re wise: and that’s what you are, Janice. Not knowledgeable. Not even savvy. But wise.”
Janice held up her own hand. “And the point of this back-handed compliment – if that’s what it is?”
“Well I suppose what I’m doing is – priming you for what I’m about to suggest.” He replied.
To Wozniak’s complete surprise Janice stood up abruptly. She scraped her chair backwards – and appeared to be about to leave.
“It’s not sexual intercourse is it?” She asked in alarm.
For a moment – it seemed to Wozniak that – he was looking into the face of a little girl. He had to swallow before he answered.
“No, Janice: it’s not sexual intercourse, or anything remotely connected with it. Jesus Christ almighty, how surreal is this!”
‘‘Now where the hell did she get that idea?’ He thought. ‘Janice you never cease to amaze me.’
Dave Collins lowered himself on to the garden bench beside Judith. The light was poor but she appeared to look comfortingly like she had earlier in the evening. After finding himself in a changed house, and meeting people who were at least ten years too young, she was a rock upon which he could snag his anchor.
Now that Dave had come closer, Judith became aware of a change in him too. She thought back to when she’d first seen him through the dining room window only minutes earlier. Now his clothes appeared to have changed completely.
‘Where was his jacket? Where had the clip-on tie appeared from?’
For a moment hope soared.
“Dave.” She said urgently, “What’s the date?”
Dave hadn’t expected such a prosaic question. For a moment it threw him.
“I don’t know.” He said after a pause. “I don’t know if it’s the drink, but everything seems screwy. I’m not sure that I’m really here. I think I might be dreaming.”
Judith didn’t really know why she’d invited Dave to join her. Not specifically anyway. She knew that it had something to do with their relationship. Or rather – their lack of a relationship. Quite what she planned to do when he joined her she had no idea. She’d just hoped that inspiration would come to her. But now there appeared to be another facet to a seemingly impossible situation. One that she could not possibly have anticipated.
Digging through her light summer jacket pockets she produced her house keys. Attached to the fob was a small battery-powered light with which she usually illuminated her front door lock when arriving home late at night.
“Sorry about this, Dave.” She said as she turned the narrow beam on to his face.
The light wasn’t bright by any standards, and Dave barely blinked at it shone into his eyes.
What Judith saw in the light should have shocked her. She knew that she should have expected the same Dave Collins that she’d signalled to through the dining room windows only minutes earlier: What she appeared to have sitting there beside her was the same Dave Collins that she had dumped – would dump – ten years in the future.
Now doubts of her sanity resurfaced. She was momentarily speechless. So instead of saying anything she turned the light upon herself.
Dave Collins’ reaction was so obvious that even with the penlight shining in her eyes, Judith could still see the relief written all over his face. And judging by Dave’s subsequent smile, hers must have exhibited a similar emotion.
Switching off the light, Dave said:
“What are we doing here? How did we get here?”
“In the past, you mean?” Judith felt more comfortable saying the words to someone she knew: someone with whom she could share her horror. Company relieved some of the fear of the unknown. It allowed her to think more clearly.
“Those are very good questions.” She forced a smile. “As regards to getting here – I started walking up Pike’s Lane from the junction opposite the Muck and Bullets in the present day: By the time that I arrived here, I’d shifted ten years into the past. Shit, Dave – Rod’s old car is parked in the drive right now!”
She then stopped to allow Dave to regale her with his own tale. But instead of doing so he said, “But you left with Rod Walker in a taxi: why were you walking back to The Peaks?
Judith didn’t answer immediately. Deep inside she knew why she’d taken the taxi back to The Peaks: She could just as easily have asked the driver to continue into town.
“One last chance, I suppose.” She replied.
Dave gulped audibly. His eyes dropped to Judith’s shapely goose-pimpled legs. “Really?” He managed. Looking up he added, “With me, you mean?”
“Yes, of course I mean you.” She feigned annoyance and slapped at his arm weakly. “Surely you don’t think I fancy Mrs Wilkins’ husband.”
“You get ten out of ten for persistence.” Dave smiled as he took the hand that only moments previous had struck him. He kissed it. “But look where it got you.”
Judith reached up with her free hand, and pulled Dave’s head down towards her face. He didn’t pull back as she lightly kissed his lips. Then their arms were around each other, and the kiss became more urgent. It lasted several long seconds before they slowly disengaged.
“Is this karma?” Judith inquired.
“You mean – was this meant to be?” Dave responded in a way that he could never have imagined before. “Was this the only way that you and I could ever break through
this wall that I’ve built around myself?”
“But if that’s the case – who designed it?” He continued. “Who made it possible?”
Judith shook her head. “I don’t know.”
“And now that it’s done,” Dave looked around the garden, and at the fine country residence that it surrounded, “do we go back to our proper era?”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018
As, no doubt, you are well aware – being discerning (and hopefully regular) readers of this blog – Tooty Nolan is the writer of some very silly tales, be they Hamster-Fiction or Earplug Adventures. His alter-ego, Paul Trevor Nolan, writes family friendly science-fiction. But what about the third member of this story-telling triumvirate – Clive Thunderbolt? How does he differ to the other two? Well the name is vaguely silly, so perhaps he writes comedy. Nope: not intentionally anyway. Well what then? The answer lies beneath these two book covers. Take a look at an excerpt from both of them…
Wozniak kicked out several more boards that covered the bedroom window. Despite his certainty that he was no longer upon the world of his birth, he still needed some more visual proof. The absence of his estate car was sufficient. There was simply no way anyone could have taken it without his knowing: the alarm system he had fitted to it only two weeks previous was state of the art. The noise it emitted would have raised the dead.
Wozniak understood that the laws of inter-dimensional transference meant that everything Wozniak had brought with him to The Peaks had remained in his reality. All he had to wear outside were the pyjama bottoms he was currently wearing – and they would be of little use because they were of the simple cord fastening design, which left a huge gap in the fabric through which his penis had an habitual tendency to protrude when he walked around – which had amused Janice on more than one occasion. If he tried leaving the house in them, he felt certain that pretty soon he’d be arrested: and he didn’t want his first inter-dimensional trip to result in a charge of indecent exposure!
A quick search – and the bedroom gave up its secrets all too quickly. Every trace of clothing had been removed – along with personal effects. But oddly a radio had been left behind. He switched it on. Silence followed, and remained in situ until Wozniak recognized the problem as a lack of power. Rather belatedly he tried the light switch. As expected there was no response. Taking a deep breath with which he hoped to steel himself, he opened the door beside the light switch and peered out into a dusty corridor. The house, it appeared, was an exact duplicate of his rented accommodation. Even in the dimness caused by the boarded windows, Wozniak had no difficulties negotiation the interior. A few careful steps down the stairway into the hall, and his hands found the small door that opened on to the power breaker. Feeling about in the darkness he pushed all of the levers upward. Immediately he could hear music playing in ‘his’ room, from which a light shone into the landing above.
When he re-entered the bedroom, the music was coming to an end. It was followed by a man who introduced himself as Bob Collet.
“Well fellow Brambledownians,’ Bob said, “Old Bob figured you might be wanting to know what’s going on over at Wycksford today.”
Wozniak’s ears pricked up at the mention of the scientific community. He thought back to the words of Len Peters the night before: surely it was no coincidence that he’d arrived here when it appeared that not all within Wycksford’s garden was rosy.
Collet continued, “Droxfield leader – Kev Winterbottom – has reiterated his demands. That means he’s said ‘em again. Apparently Wycksford Scientific Community must hand over all their hardware – and data pertinent to it – to the Droxfield Militia. Well the stuff that’s less than three years old anyway. If they don’t, he says, he’s gonna let the militia loose on ‘em, and that they’d be sorry that they’d pissed him off. I spoke to the Droxfield Militia boss – that tosspot Nigel Horn – on the ‘phone last night. Here’s a recording of what he had to say.”
Another man, his voice far less rural, spoke. But where Collet’s tone had been warm and possibly rather innocent-sounding; in Horn’s voice there was an edge of threat that was clearly calculated to frighten those listening. His words backed up this impression…
“We aint changed our stance.” He began belligerently. “They got ‘til noon tomorrow, then we go in and take it ourselves. Then, whether they like it not – they’re out. Out on their fucking ears. We’re pullin’ the whole place down. It’s as simple as that. We aint gonna have none of them Scientific Communities anywhere near where we live!”
He then tried to appear more reasonable – hoping to appeal to the listeners as logical, sensible people. Easing back on the belligerence he added:
“I mean – think about it: who’s gonna want dangerous experiments going on in their back yard? No one with more than half a brain, that’s what I reckon. Anyone remember what happened a year ago? Experiments getting out of control, and going haywire, that’s what. For a while everyone thought that the world was coming to an end. I shit my pants, I did – and I don’t mind admitting it. And I bet that I wasn’t alone.”
Wozniak was grimly amused at both men’s verbal style. If only his local radio station spoke so freely…
Collet’s voice interrupted:
“Well that may be true, Nige; but why have you waited until now to make your demands? What was wrong with a year ago?”
“We had to study the situation.” Horn replied – if a little uncertainly. “We didn’t want to go off half-cocked. You can’t go accusing communities of bad stuff without proper proof.”
Collet taxed him further:
“So it had nothing to do with Peter Wozniak defecting to Droxfield, then?”
At the mention of his name, Wozniak turned the volume higher – before dropping on to the bed to listen in comparative comfort.
Horn’s tone hardened once more:
“I don’t like suggestions like that, Collet.” Horn almost growled. “We were studying the situation – like I said. Wozniak didn’t defect: he was always working for us. He knew things were dodgy over there. Well then he put us right; and now we’re gonna do what we have to do.”
“Central Liaison aint gonna be too happy about one community having a go at its neighbour.” Collet – it seemed to Wozniak at least – appeared to be arguing for the majority of sensible people who might be listening. “Have you spoken to ‘em about it? Made a formal complaint?”
“You know we fucking haven’t.” Horn snapped back. “Central Liaison do just that: they liaise between all the communities of the Federated Shires of England. They don’t tell no one what to do. They aint got no teeth neither. And I’ll tell you something else, Bob Collet: I don’t like your line of questioning, or the tone of your voice. To my way of thinking, you Brambledownians have been pretty chummy with Wycksford for too long. Now wouldn’t it be a crying shame if some clever sod over there started thinking he could poke his nose into our affairs. You’d better tell your listeners this, Collet: if we go in – they’ll be no such thing as a non-com. Any Brambledownians we find there won’t get treated no different from Wycksford types. You’d better believe it. So stick that in your pipe, and smoke it!”
Not really Tooty kind of stuff at all. Check out this…
Tom and Peter Wozniak had an uncomfortable walk back from the orchard to the house. Both spent the entire traverse warily looking over their shoulders. Now as they approached the kitchen door they finally began to relax. Something about the sturdily built house made them both feel that it offered some form of sanctuary from the dangers of the world outside.
Wozniak hadn’t spotted his fiancée through the kitchen window so he called her name as he entered the room. His words were met by silence.
Tom followed Wozniak in.
“Probably gone for a pee.” He suggested.
Wozniak wasn’t concerned: his brother’s suggestion was a good one. In fact there were any number of rooms throughout the large edifice in which she would fail to hear his call. Then he stopped short at the sight of Janice’s torn blouse as it lay across the breakfast table. For a moment his heart seemed to stop. Fear welled up inside him like it had never done before. He knew with utter certainty that something terrible had happened to Janice. He searched the large room with his eyes. But it was Tom who bent down to pick up the unclipped bra from beneath one of the chairs.
Not yet aware of the blouse, Tom said:
“Jan taken to letting her baps loose during daylight hours has she?”
Wozniak grabbed up the blouse. He showed it to Tom – who in turn offered up the bra. A look of dread crossed both men’s handsome features.
“Jan!” Wozniak roared.
Tom grabbed him by the shoulders.
“Let’s not jump to conclusions, Pete.” He spoke firmly as his brother tried to shrug off his powerful grip. “Rational head on. Calm down and think: if she’s hurt – where is she likely to go?”
Wozniak’s flicked his eyes this way and that as he fought down the panic that threatened to overwhelm him.
“Oh my God, Tom.” He managed. “I had no idea how much I loved her until this moment. The bathroom: she’d go to the bathroom. Yes, I think that’s what she’d do. She keeps all sorts of stuff in there.”
“En suite or family?” Tom pressed.
“Ah, both.” Wozniak spoke as he turned for the door that led to the stairs. “You take the en suite: I’ll take the family.”
It was Tom who found Janice. As Wozniak had blundered into an empty family bathroom, Tom had entered the bedroom in something of an apologetic manner. He wasn’t entirely convinced that Janice was in any real trouble, and he wanted to avoid the resulting embarrassment to both of them if he caught her changing. He’d knocked politely, waited a couple of seconds, and pushed the door open slowly. His first view as the gap between the door and the doorframe widened was Janice’s bare legs upon the bed. He’d paused, and whispered her name. When she hadn’t replied he pushed it a little farther, and was duly shocked – not by her total nakedness – but by the wheals and bruises that covered her still body.
“Peter.” He yelled in a voice an octave higher than was usual for him. “In here!”
Tom was loath to enter the bedroom that his brother shared with Janice. He was content to stand in the doorway, and watch from there as Wozniak maintained
Janice’s modesty by easing her legs together. He could see by the rise and fall of her chest that she was still alive. But the bite marks upon her breasts, and the presence of an almost colourless liquid spread across her thighs made it clear that she had been subjected to some sort of violent sexual assault.
Wozniak himself listened to her breathing for a moment. Satisfied that she was in no immediate danger he then proceeded to examine the marks upon her body.
“She’s going to be alright, isn’t she?” Tom asked from the door.
“As much as any rape victim can be.” Wozniak replied with an angry undertone.
Wozniak’s anger seemed to tear at his insides, but without a corporeal antagonist upon which to vent it he felt helpless and impotent.
“Shall I call a doctor?” Tom offered.
Wozniak was about to nod, when he paused.
Would Janice wish to see a doctor? Would she want this awful event to become common knowledge? And what would they tell the police in the subsequent investigation?
He needed time to think.
“Hang fire on that, Tom.” He said in the most kindly tone he could summon.
Any further conversation was thwarted as Janice’s eyes flicked open. It took a moment for her to recognise Wozniak, but when she did, a sleepy smile spread across her face.
Wozniak couldn’t recall a time when she had looked more beautiful.
“Howdy, pardner.” He smiled.
Janice remained slightly woozy, but she was able to raise a hand to beckon him closer. Wozniak, thinking that Janice wanted to say something, bent closer. Janice placed her hand upon the back of his neck, and drew him closer still. She then kissed him gently upon the lips. He smiled and returned her kiss.
“What was that for?” He asked quietly.
“Oh I don’t know.” She spoke dreamily. “Just for being you I suppose. You know I’ve just had the strangest dream…”
She stopped when she noticed several scratch marks upon her arm. She climbed further into wakefulness.
“How did I do that?” She inquired in a puzzled tone.
Then she looked down at her body, and total wakefulness returned like the rush of a tidal bore.
“Peter!” She cried out.
“It’s okay.” Wozniak tried to remain calm. “We’re both here with you. You’re safe now.”
“Both?” Janice looked around the room. She spotted Tom in the doorway, and quickly scrabbled together some bed linen to cover her nakedness. Then the pain of her wounds struck her, and she groaned. Beneath the cover she placed her free hand into her groin.
“Peter – what’s happened to me?” She said as her hand came away sticky.
Wozniak found it hard to find the words. In the end all he could do was tell her the truth.
“Jan, I’m sorry, my love, but you’ve been raped.”
A look of horror appeared upon Janice’s face. Heedless of the watching Tom she cast off the covers, and hugged Wozniak with all her strength.
From his vantage point Tom could now see bleeding nail marks upon Janice’s buttocks as she raised herself up in her desperation to hold on to Wozniak. He took two steps into the room, and pointed a wavering finger in the direction of her wounds.
“No.” She sobbed into Wozniak’s neck.
Wozniak could find no words now: the love of his life was attempting to escape into
denial; and he wasn’t about to refuse her that temporary release.
“No.” She repeated herself, but in a more assured voice.
Wozniak released his grip upon her bruised body as she reduced the urgency of her grasp upon him.
“No.” She said for a third time as she released Wozniak entirely; pulled herself away; and re-covered her body with the bed linen. “It wasn’t rape: I was a willing participant.”
Both men were rendered momentarily speechless. Wozniak drew himself upright, and looked down upon the woman who had surprised him so many times him in the past, but never like this.
“It’s like a dream.” Janice explained as she searched her errant memory. “No.” She corrected herself. “More like a fantasy: a wild sex-fantasy. I couldn’t help myself. All I wanted was you. I wanted pure, undiluted, no-holds-barred, sex – and nothing else.”
It took a few seconds for Wozniak’s mind to assimilate this. Then he knew exactly what Janice meant.
“Of course.” He breathed out loudly. “You were subjected to a super-pheromone! But unlike me you received a neat dose – undiluted by the passage of time and the soiled fabric of an old hiking coat.”
Janice began to cry.
“You forgive me, don’t you? Please say you do.”
“Forgive?” Wozniak sat beside her upon the bed, and wrapped her up in the bed linen once more. “There’s nothing to forgive. It wasn’t really you having sex with that …” He couldn’t find a descriptive term.
“Monster?” Tom offered.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
That’s why I choose a different name for different subjects. I wouldn’t want a child reading this sort of stuff. Remember: Tooty Nolan = Funny. Paul Trevor Nolan = Family friendly/YA. Clive Thunderbolt = Darker, more explicit and sometimes violent. A style for a wider range of tastes, I’d like to think.
As a break from all my silliness, please try some samples of my sensible stuff – namely these…
Although I never intended to write these books for YA, I did write them with my teen-aged self in mind. I wanted to write stories that I would have enjoyed as a youth. So p’raps I did, after all – only sub-cobsciously. Anyway here they are – suitable for all ages…
I stood atop the slightly wind-swept railway embankment. Looking back I could see three winding tracks cut by our quad bikes through the long grass of the adjacent field. They halted at the embankment. Below my friends awaited good news.
Using binoculars, I scanned through three hundred and sixty degrees. Not a movement could I see. Not a sign that man or beast existed. No smoke; no sounds; Nothing, but a constant silence. The land was empty. Upon a whim I placed an ear to the railway track. All I could hear was my own breathing.
‘And where there’s breath, there’s life. And where there’s life, there’s hope.’
I stood up, and waved.
“It’s all right:” I called to the others, “You can come up.”
With their pillions now dismounted, Kevin, Donald, and Lee were able to blast their mounts up the steep incline. Within seconds the quad bikes were positioned within the railway tracks – upon the sleepers that separated them unfortunately. It was hoped that their wheels would be run over whatever detritus had filled the hollows between the sleepers. We also hoped that it would be both firm and deep.
Katherine put it into words, “Railway sleepers do not a highway make. Ouch, ouch, ouch, and ouch.”
Once underway it was a case of ‘close your eyes and hang on for dear life’. Although our speed must have been modest at best– all four wheels were seldom on the ground at one time. It felt like we were attempting the land speed record down the side of Everest. Our teeth veritably rattled in our heads, and our eyes could barely focus. It was so ridiculous that I had to laugh.
I heard Katherine’s voice over the thudding of four-stroke engines, and the considerably louder rattles emanating from every other component of the sturdy vehicles as they threatened to disassemble themselves whilst on the move.
She shouted to Donald, “How fast are we going?”
He shouted back, “Don’t know: My eyes are blurred.”
And I knew from current experience that he wasn’t joking.
“Have we gone very far?” She called again.
“Oh, about a million miles.” Donald bellowed between bouts of handlebar wrestling.
“I’m sorry, Don,” Katherine yelled, “But I don’t think this is such a good idea after all: I have a terrible headache, and my posterior is quite numb.”
“That’s nothing:” Donald may have been joking, but I’m not certain, “I have a posterior-ache and my head’s gone numb!”
My chauffeur, Lee, chanced a look back at me. He shouted, “You know, one of these days we’ll look back at this, and laugh like bleedin’ drains!”
“No we won’t.” I was pretty certain of the veracity of my reply, “This will haunt us for all eternity.”
“It’s not quite that bad.” He shouted again.
“Yes it is.” I informed him forcefully – punching his shoulder with every word.
As lead vehicle it was our decision when the caravan stopped or deviated from its course. Lee spotted an unmanned road crossing just ahead.
“You’re right. Hang on.” He shouted – before swerving off of the track, and onto the narrow tarmacadam road, where he braked to a halt.
The others followed. As they pulled alongside, their expressions showed undiluted gratitude.
Kevin summed it up when he said, “That was yukky!”
Katherine dismounted and stretched her legs.
“Not that I’m ungrateful, or anything: but why have we stopped?”
“I thought I’d give the fluid in my brain-box a chance to settle.” Lee replied. Then to everybody, “Right – who votes we follow the railway now?
Not a solitary hand was raised.
Lee pointed toward a hill before it. The railway could be seen entering a tunnel through it.
“Unless somebody’s got a better idea, we’ll follow the track cross-country. Sounds’ good?”
All hands were raised simultaneously.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
It’s almost impossible to select excerpts from a sequel that doesn’t give away the plot of the original story. This is made all the more difficult when the excerpts are chosen at random. So, by necessity, the following snippet is all too brief. Sorry.
Karen had joined our triumvirate by the time, two hours later, when Shane entered carrying a tray of scalding hot coffee.
“Colin thought you egg-heads might need some brain-juice.” She said. “So where do we hit first?” She asked whilst scrutinising the vast scattering of notepad pages upon Cosgrove’s desk.
“Funny you should ask that, Shane,” I answered, “because I need an ally right now, and I think you’re just the girl to back me up.”
I swear her ears actually pricked up.
“Yeah?” She said with undisguised eagerness, “What’s all this about then?”
So I explained that I still wanted an answer to a question that had been niggling me since the day that Wayne had died so unnecessarily.
“Oh yeah, that one.” Shane said carelessly. “Why was an Espeeg hiding out in a bus station, and why’d he gone stark-raving bonkers?”
“Yes, that’s the one.” I said admiringly. “The others aren’t quite so keen to find out.”
“Yeah, you can count me in.” The diminutive girl said eagerly, “I’ll come with you. It’s about time I did something other than sitting around picking my nose.”
“Too much information!” Kylie wailed.
I hadn’t actually been seeking a side-kick on what was essentially a very secondary mission; but now that I had a volunteer I realised that it was probably a good idea to take someone along. Shane must have seen my reaction.
“When do we leave?” She asked as she dropped into a spare seat.
“No one said that anyone is going anywhere.” Karen said disapprovingly.
I chose not to hear the older, wiser girl.
“Well I’d like to finish my coffee before we go, if that’s okay.” I answered.
“Yes, that’s right.” Karen sniffed. “Ignore me completely. Ignore the voice of rationality.”
So Shane did as she had apparently been instructed. It was only when Tasman and Kylie also voiced their concerns that she responded with:
“Hey, maybe we should take Dainam along: after all he speaks the lingo which is more than we do.”
So it seemed that the decision had been made – in my favour.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
These books were actually written ten years apart. The former was polished somewhat and re-issued in 2014, following the completion of the latter. Both are available at most e-book suppliers. The paperbacks at Lulu.com (see side bar).
It’s been a while since I last visited my better literary works – those being Silent Apocalypse and Silent Resistance…
So I thunk to myself; “Let’s give the guys an extract from the former, quickly followed by one from the latter. A kind of two for the price of one sort of deal.” The result of this altruistic thought is…
It was Kevin who found the road map of Great Britain in a desk drawer. It was old and stained, and probably horribly out of date; but Wayne spread it out upon the table and immediately bent to the task of matching his co-ordinates with those printed upon the map. Since he was no cartographer it took him a while; but eventually his two index fingers slid across the map, on a collision course, until they met upon the boundary of land and sea. He ringed it in pencil. Everyone craned their necks to look.
“Winston Crag.” He read out the accompanying reference. “Anyone heard of it?”
No one had.
“Catch the Crag Bus.” Katherine almost breathed the words, “Now it almost makes sense. There must be a bus waiting at Winston Crag.”
“Would you risk your life on it?” Candice spoke, the sullenness of earlier remaining, despite a general rising tide of optimism.
“Do you trust in your prescience?” Katherine countered, though none of us saw the significance.
“Not if I can help it.” A hint of a smile returned.
I wondered then, if perhaps she really did have the ability to see future events. By taking us to the farm she had led us into a trap: This argued against such an ability. ‘But yet there’s something about her…’
“Right:” Lee announced, “Let’s go. How do we get there?”
“Well I was thinking of a top-of-the-range four-by-four, with leather upholstery and air conditioning.” Katherine spoke with not a hint of sarcasm obvious.
“And a telly.” Kevin added. And I knew with certainty that there was no sarcasm present in his suggestion.
It was so infuriating: we now had the information we required. We had somewhere to go. Some hope. But a group of stupid boys, who had better, more important things to do with their lives, were besieging us. All our hopes and plans were now in unnecessary jeopardy. It made no sense. It was all so illogical. It almost made me glad that the whole stupid human race had virtually wiped itself out.
“There’s a combine.” Kevin spoke into the silence that I hadn’t noticed, “In the barn.”
All eyes turned to him.
“A combine harvester?” Donald asked, “In that barn out there?
“I see it through a hole in the roof.” Kevin said proudly. “Looks like a good ‘un too!”
“Given a choice, I’d pump for a time machine.” Katherine stated. “But failing that I’d take a combine harvester. But, assuming that it goes, isn’t a little on the slow side? We’d do well to outrun a sloth.”
I warmed to the idea instantly. “It would be very difficult to stop.”
Lee lent his support. “I wouldn’t want one of them things coming at me.”
“But it’s so slow.” Katherine returned to her original argument, which was validated as she continued, “They could run alongside and simply pick us off at will. Heavens, with us hanging on for dear life, they could probably pluck us off with a baling hook!”
No one was listening though: They didn’t want to hear contrary arguments: They had a vehicle to hand, and somewhere to drive it.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
The ride from hell lasted approximately fifteen minutes. No one was actually watching the clock or counting the passing seconds; instead they were either hanging on for dear life, or threatening to copy Dainam, who now appeared almost comatose in his misery.
The moment that I realised that we’d finally gained upon our quarry was when Kylie flicked the headlights to low beam, and stepped off the gas.
“Tail lights ahead.” She said without taking her eyes from the road. “A ways ‘round the corner. How do you want to play this? Full speed ahead, and run them down?”
With the bus upon a more even keel I was able to consult the ageing AA roadmap.
“We have to get in front of them – without their knowledge.” I answered. “Stay as close as you dare. Can you drive on side lights? They mustn’t see us.”
As the external lights dimmed further, Kylie said, “Are you sure this is a good idea? I can hardly see beyond the end of my nose.”
“Lucky it’s such a large one then, isn’t it!” Colin laughed from somewhere near the back.
“Thank you – I’ll remember that.” Kylie said as she concentrated upon keeping the bus in the centre of the road.
But I wasn’t really paying attention. My eyes pored over the roadmap in search of a turn-off that we could take that might allow us to get ahead of the Espeeg and their prisoner. Not necessarily a short-cut, but a route where our superior speed could be put to good use. Then I found it – a narrow lane that branched off to the right. A lane, according to the roadmap, that was so narrow that it might actually be a dirt track. It cut through arable farmland, and included a tiny hamlet and a farm along its length. Most importantly it cut across a loop in the road that followed the bank of a river that was almost five miles long. The lane, I was exhilarated to calculate, was only one mile long.
Peering into the darkness beyond the light of the passenger compartment I could make out exactly nothing of the world outside. I had no idea where we were in relation to the map.
Joining Kylie at the front of the bus I said, “Keep your eyes peeled for a turning to the right. It’ll be really narrow, and might be signposted Bittern Dabney or Bendals farm.”
“We just passed it.” Kylie yelped in delight – before hitting the brakes like a Formula One driver arriving at a chicane.
Whilst I was busy picking myself up from the floor, Kylie was trying to find reverse.
“Can you drive one of these backwards?” I inquired as I rubbed a sore elbow.
“They call this on-the-job training.” She responded. “If I can’t right now, I will in a few minutes. I just need a little practise.”
“No time for that, I’m afraid.” I said with false solemnity.
Kylie grinned as she found reverse. “I didn’t think there would be.”
Kylie had never reversed a vehicle of any kind, and in the darkness her mirrors told her almost nothing of her immediate surroundings. Instead she relied upon all of us looking out through the rear and side windows to shout instructions to her. As a result it took us several precious minutes to back-track the three hundred-or-so metres to the turn off; but once she had the vehicle lined up Kylie was able to set the road ahead ablaze with the power of her full beams. The diesel engine roared as it quickly shifted up through its multiple gear ratios, and we fairly raced along between high banks and overgrown hedgerows upon a relatively recent tarmac surface.
As expected, both the hamlet and farm had been abandoned – presumably being too far from anywhere significant to have caught anyone’s eye. I took note of their location: they might be useful one day.
Within moments, it seemed, we were approaching the opposite end of the lane. Without any instruction from me, Kylie cut the lights, and rolled the bus into position across the main road – blocking it entirely. Anyone wanting to pass it would have to take to the fields on either side, which would be difficult because of the barbed wire fences that formed their perimeter.
“How do we know we’ve got here first?” Colin said sullenly. “They might have passed already.”
It was a fair point, but I was confident that despite our initial lost time we’d more than made up the difference.
My confidence wasn’t wasted: moments later Dexter shouted, “Lights. I see lights.”
As one the entire party threw themselves against the side windows and stared into the night. We were rewarded with the sight of twinkling headlights a mile-or-so distant as a pair of quad bikes made their relatively slow progress through a series of bends that would ultimately bring them to us.
With little time to prepare Colin and I immediately donned our helmets, whilst the others hurried from the bus.
“Right,” I said as I joined them upon the tarmac surface, “you lot get lost. Go hide up the lane. If there’s a ditch there – jump in it. I don’t want anyone getting hit by stray rounds and ricochets.”
Shane shook her head. “We can’t leave you two alone.” She said.
“Yeah,” Dexter, as per usual, agreed with her, “the odds’ll be fifty-fifty. Those are bad odds. It aint like you’re betting money: this is your lives.”
I felt, rather than saw, Colin’s resolve waning.
“Rubbish.” I said to both of them. “We have the element of surprise: That’s worth at least two extra guns. They literally won’t know what hit them – until it’s too late. Now get out of here. Scat.”
No one was keen to leave us alone to face the approaching alien Law-Keepers; but Tasman urged them to join him in the darkness beyond the range thrown by the interior lights of the bus. And suddenly Colin and I found ourselves standing in the only available light for miles around, and feeling very vulnerable indeed.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
Although both books were published during the same year, they were actually written ten years apart. I’d like to think that, as a story-teller, my skills had grown during that decade and that Resistance is a better work that Apocalypse. But, of course, the later book couldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for the earlier book, so I like them equally. Both are available as paperbacks and e-books via the book cover links on the sidebar.
Since the ancient excerpt from my first Clive Thunderbolt-penned book went so well, here’s an almost-as-ancient excerpt from the sequel…
The bell jangled cheerfully as Janice led the hunting party into the kitchen from the herb garden. It took a few moments for her eyes to adjust to the lower light levels inside, but in those moments she thought that she saw movement in the hallway.
She allowed everyone inside and gave all of them time to seat themselves around the table before she drew Wozniak aside.
“We’re not alone.” She whispered from behind the cover of the fridge door.
Wozniak went riged.
“Oh I think that there’s enough milk for all of us.” He said for the benefit of the others.
“How do you know?” He whispered.
“I saw movement in the hallway.” Janice replied with a tremor in her voice that threatened to become a scream. “I think it was a leg. I saw bare skin. It must be him!”
Wozniak made a quick decision.
“There’s not enough room in here for all of us to get into a bout of fisticuffs with anyone: someone’s liable to get hurt. You make the tea: I’ll take a dekko.”
Janice grasped Wozniak’s arm.
“Not by yourself?”
“I’ll take Tom.” He tried to smile. “Be ready to send reinforcements.”
“Tom,” Wozniak said loudly as he re-emerged from behind the huge door and collected up the two javelins, “there’s something I want to show you – out in the hall.”
Tom looked puzzled.
“Right-oh.” He said, and obediently followed his brother from the room.
Once in the hallway Wozniak eased the door shut behind them. He explained the situation to Tom.
Tom hummed as he looked up the stairwell.
“He has the high ground. If we go barrelling up there he could easily drop a wardrobe or something equally massive on our heads – and take us both out in one fell swoop. I think this is going to require a modicum of stealth.”
“My thoughts exactly.” Wozniak replied as he held out a javelin to Tom. “Which is why I brought these. There’s no room to swing a baseball bat indoors.”
He then noticed a heavy oak walking stick in the umbrella stand. He pulled it out and checked its considerable weight.
“But we can take this along in case I’m wrong.”
At that moment they heard the sound of a motorcycle arrive outside.
“Impeccable timing as ever.” Tom grinned. “It’s the cavalry.”
Wozniak and Tom strode out to meet P.C Duncan as he heaved his police motorcycle on to its stand. They were both disappointed.
“You haven’t brought your gun!” They stated the blindingly obvious in unison.
“No I haven’t.” The police constable sounded aggrieved. “Two lads came round my place a little while ago telling my wife a cock and bull story about alien invasion. But she remembered you turning up earlier to fetch the young couple away before they got a chance to talk to me – and put two and two together. So she calls me on my mobile, and I came straight ‘round here on the way home. So no gun. And even if I’d been at home I wouldn’t have brought it: it’s not police regulation equipment: I could lose my job. And if I was to discharge it whilst on duty – well the shit would well and truly hit the fan.”
“Well with no gun,” Tom said haughtily, “you might as well fuck off.”
P.C Duncan was surprised at this response.
“No-no,” Wozniak stepped between them, “it’s good you came. I don’t know what the boys told your wife – but I hardly think that there’s an alien invasion in progress. But we do have an intruder. A man. A naked man.”
“With a huge penis.” Tom interjected.
“And we think we’ve got him cornered upstairs.” Wozniak finished.
P.C Duncan raised his eyebrows at this.
“Naked, eh?” He said as he made to push past into the house. “A pervert most likely.”
“You’ll need this.” Wozniak offered the walking stick to the policeman. “He’s very, very, strong.”
“He killed my Rottweiler/Doberman Cross with his bare hands.” Tom added gravity to the situation.
P.C Duncan gulped audibly as he took the stick from Wozniak and checked for the presence of his handcuffs and pepper spray upon his utility belt.
“Right – we’ll see what we can do about this dog-killing flasher, shall we?”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
This magnificent literary masterpiece of unequalled thinginess is available in both paperback and e-book form. Check out the side bar for a look-see.
I thought it was about time that I reminded the world that once upon a time I used to write stuff that didn’t involve a camera and a bunch of earplugs. Enter stage left, this book…
Yes, it’s the original Causality Merchant book. The same book that I keep promising to write a second sequel to. And here’s an extract…
Janice sat beside Wozniak as he manoeuvred the large estate car out of the driveway of The Peaks, and into Pikes Lane. She caught sight of her dishevelled hair in the sun visor vanity mirror, and attempted to reassemble the wayward strands into the neat, but unflattering pulled-back style in which she usually wore it.
“Leave it.” Wozniak said with a little more urgency than he’d intended. “It’s fine like that. Better than fine in fact. You don’t have to do anything with it.”
Initially startled at Wozniak’s abrupt demand, Janice reappraised her appearance.
‘I suppose it does look a little more care free’, She thought to herself, ‘If a little scruffy’.
“Really?” She enquired. “It doesn’t look a mess? I’m sure mother would think it was perfectly ghastly.”
“Yes, I expect she would.” Wozniak grumbled as he angled the large vehicle between the earth bank and a small van approaching from the opposite direction. “But then she’d think I was perfectly ghastly too; and we know that’s not true – don’t we!”
Janice didn’t reply verbally: she merely nodded and smiled slightly. She decided to get back to the subject at hand.
“I assume that when you say I’m to meet and greet the great Katherine Marcus, you don’t mean Doctor Katherine Marcus?”
“You assume correctly.” Wozniak replied – grateful for a moment’s respite from wheel-twisting as the vehicle entered a more open part of the lane.
“Isn’t that going to be rather difficult?” Janice said as she looked sideways at her chauffeur.
“Not if I’m right.” Wozniak said – his confidence of success seemingly high.
Janice pondered a moment before responding. This is not the Peter Wozniak of just a couple of days past: he had been pleasant enough then – but he’d also been a man who appeared to believe that he’d reached the end of his usefulness. He had referred to himself as a ‘washed-up writer’ more than once. Now this little adventure – even if much of it was delusional – was giving him back his confidence. And she was grateful for it: after all wasn’t she being thoroughly entertained in a way that she could never have previously imagined? And as regards to Peter – she was so pleased to see him favouring his cerebral nerves over his erectile variety.
“Supposing you’re right…” she said.
“Which I am.” Wozniak interrupted.
Janice ignored this, and carried on, “…how can you guarantee this doppelgänger Katherine Marcus is going to show up in the village? Judging from the way you described her previous behaviour, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brambledown hasn’t seen the last of her!”
“If I’m right…” Wozniak began in turn.
This time it was Janice who interrupted:
“Which you are.”
Wozniak grinned. “Yes – which I am. She doesn’t have much choice.”
“Of course that’s assuming Doctor Katherine Marcus goes to work this morning.” Janice reminded him.
“Oh she will.” Wozniak assured her. “She absolutely lives for her work. Given a choice between me in the sack, a national lottery win, or a morning at the office – or should I say ‘the laboratory’ – I know I’d have to settle for a distant second place. Or, dare I say it, third. Oh yes I’m pretty certain that my favourite doppelgänger will turn up: she has no choice in the matter.”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
This is available as a paperback and as an e-book. See sidebar for details.
Well I’ve shown you snippets from three of my four ‘serious’ books: here’s one from the fourth. This one, to be precise…
Darkness had long since fallen, and Katherine had disappeared on an errand of great importance. Both Wozniak and Len had filled their stomachs, and had been found accommodation in a corrugated iron hut. Roughly built bunks lined both walls of the long, thin edifice. A single lavatory cubicle, and two wash basins were all there was to service the potential inhabitants that, if all the beds were put to use, would number forty. Wozniak sighed. Of an ice pack there was not one sign.
“What do you reckon, Len: army billet, or hospital?” Wozniak asked the only other inhabitant as they lounged upon two of the forty bunks that were covered with coarse horse blankets, with a single cotton pillow at each bed head.
He’d been thinking about what he might be doing if he hadn’t become the innocent victim of trans-dimensional backwash. He felt certain that whatever path he’d chosen – it was highly unlikely that he’d end up with Len Peters at his side. He cursed himself for his decision to return to The Peaks. Then he thought of Janice. ‘Where would she be right now?’
He had no way of knowing. He thought of his twin’s corpse in the cellar of their rented house.
‘Where was the key to the cellar door kept?’
He didn’t know. He prayed that Janice didn’t either.
“Could be either.” Len answered his earlier question. “Wonder what folk are up to? I don’t like being cut off like this. Events are moving quicker than I expected. I figured on downing a half pint of ale down at the Trotters Arms about this time of day.”
Len had tried to leave earlier – but he’d been denied his freedom. It was assumed that the Droxfield Militia now roamed freely in the countryside separating Wycksford from Brambledown – and Len certainly couldn’t walk back – and Wycksford certainly couldn’t afford to release any vehicle to him, for the simple reason that they had none to spare. He was urged to remain in a place of safety – and just to make sure that he did as requested, they locked the door behind him.
Wozniak checked his watch. Mentally adjusting for the time differential – he judged that they had something like thirteen hours before Droxfield’s deadline, at which time the scientific community must pass all their technical data to them. Intrigued by the history that had led them into their current situation he asked Len how it had arisen.
“I mean – aren’t there rules that prohibit one group from firing upon members of another without provocation?” He said. “Are there no controls over the behaviour of such tiny communities? Where is the government? Who are the practitioners of law? Where the hell’s the army when you most need it?”
Len seemed to ponder this, so Wozniak filled the silence.
“Earlier you mentioned the danger of countries being formed again? What did you mean by that? Are there no countries in your reality? Are there just villages? Thousands and thousands of villages – right across the globe?”
Had he asked anyone but Len, perhaps he wouldn’t have received such a fulsome answer. As it was, Len understood how the worlds worked in both realities. He could appreciate, better than anyone, Wozniak’s line of questioning.
By means of explanation, Len gave Wozniak a potted history of his world. He informed him that his world had, for reasons unknown, been more technologically advanced than that of Wozniak’s. Perhaps by as much a two centuries. But, conversely, their social structure had been less so. The result was a series of World Wars, much like those of Wozniak’s history – but far more numerous – which ultimately brought advancement to a halt many times over, and often forced the world to fall back upon earlier technologies to maintain some decent level of existence. The last war had resulted in the use of nuclear weapons. Fortunately for Len and his ancestors, England had long since ceased to be a world power, and had not fallen directly foul of the calamity. They, and the countries that survived, came to an agreement: the means to make war on such a scale must be removed. Borders must be abolished. Countries must be abolished. Only closely knit partnerships, or confederations, could be allowed. Only communities smaller than the towns of earlier times, would be allowed. Often they would specialize – therefore advancing the idea of free trade between them – making them inter-dependent – but still largely independent, and free from influence by outside forces. Until the moment that Wozniak had appeared, this situation had existed for almost a century and a half. For certain it had stifled advancement – but it had also stopped humanity from wiping itself out. Now only Central Liaisons – appointed by a confederation or co-operative – maintained a Balance of Fairness, which in an earlier time could have been thought of as a government: but in real terms it was powerless. It had no policing policy, and lacked any military capability. It negotiated deals and agreements. It was a go-between. It was a system, which until very recently – at least locally – had worked extremely well.
“If you ask me,” Len murmured, as his tale reached its end, “your world could do with learnin’ from our mistakes.”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
Although my most popular books (sales wise at least) are the two Silent tales, I do have a couple more that don’t feature the youthful first-person narrator, Felicity Goldsmith; but instead has a middle-aged writer as the third-person central character. His name is Peter Wozniak, and he reluctantly stars in this duo of literary thingies…
Here’s an excerpt from the latter tome…
Wozniak hadn’t taken a moment to think when he realised that his ‘phone had fallen silent. He grabbed the key from Wallace’s grasp and raced from the pavement. In an adrenaline-fuelled leap that wouldn’t have disgraced an Olympic hurdler, he threw himself over the hedge into the field beside Number Eight.
“Peter. Peter.” Wallace called into the darkness as he heard Wozniak’s ragged breathing as the big man picked himself up from the damp grass in the field beyond, “What are you doing?”
“Got to find Jan, Wal.” Wozniak called back. “We’ve lost contact. Maybe I can’t travel in time, but I can still move in the remaining three dimensions.”
Wallace then saw a small penlight illuminate his friend’s handsome features.
“You used to live here, Wal.” Wozniak swung the feeble beam around in an arc. “Where would you estimate the garden shed should be?”
“What?” Wallace cried in confusion. “How the hell can you expect me to remember that? And what if I get it right: what do you propose to do with the key now? You can’t hand it over to her.”
“I’m using a kind of reverse logic, Wal?” Wozniak tried to explain. “I know it won’t make a lot of sense, but it’s the only thing I can think of. Shit, Wal – I’m a science-fiction writer: it’s my job to come up with crazy ideas!”
“Jan.” Wozniak called into his ‘phone. “Answer me!”
He was relieved when he heard the muffled scratching sounds of a telephone being removed from his lover’s cleavage.
“I’m thinking!” Janice’s voice crackled from the device in Wozniak’s hand. She sounded both irritated and worried. “I was getting nowhere with the bench, so I decided to come back, but when I stepped through the gate – you and the twenty-first century had gone. Peter, I don’t mean to alarm you, but at this precise moment I’m stuck in the nineteen-fifties!”
Wozniak fought down panic. He took a few moments to author his response. He hoped that the fear in his voice didn’t travel well through time.
“Are you near the garden shed, Jan? It’s important.”
“Where do you think I am?” Janice’s annoyance certainly traversed time without dilution. “I’m trying to pick the padlock on the door – with a rusty nail.”
“Good girl.” Wozniak replied – somehow certain that whatever predicament Janice should find herself in, she would think her way out of it. But he also realised that she could use all the help she could get. “I’ve been thinking – it’s now doubly important that you complete your task. Whether you like it or not, this is destiny, Jan. You’re there for a reason – I’m sure of it. All that God-stuff? I’m with you all the way with it. And that reason includes saving the life of Mavis and George Courtney.”
Janice’s mood hadn’t lightened any. “Thank you for stating the bloody obvious, Wozniak: I’d managed to figure that out for myself. I’m not a complete idiot you know. Damn it, I’m getting no where with this arse-holy lock!”
“Well stop then.” Wozniak commanded her. “I have a better idea. Now tell me – how far from the house are you?”
It took a few seconds for Janice to reply. Obviously she was trying to make sense of Wozniak’s question. Her faith in him soon overruled her questioning mind.
“About twenty metres.” She replied.
“Stay right there.” Wozniak instructed her. Then turning to Wallace, who now stood upon the opposite side of the hedge, he said, “Best estimate, Wal: Where’s the front door?”
“Wait right there.” Wallace replied.
He then quickly scrambled into his four-wheel drive vehicle. After starting the motor, he crashed the machine into gear, and mounted the kerb with the front wheels.
“Step back, Peter, dear heart.” He called out. “I’m no off-road expert.”
Then without further warning he revved the large diesel engine, released the clutch, and in a second had driven the huge vehicle straight through the hedge.
Wozniak stood in the glare of the headlights. “What the fuck?” He mouthed.
Wallace cut the motor and jumped from the driver’s seat. “And he said ‘let there be light’ and there was light, and the light was good.” He cried. “Darling, you can’t go stumbling about in the dark: If you’re going to try to reach Janice, the least you need is to be able to see properly.”
Wozniak could have hugged his friend, but this was neither the time nor place.
“Nice one, Wal, Right then – the front door? From there we can calculate the location of the garden shed. Make it quick: someone’s bound to have called the police.”
It took a couple of minutes, and some comparisons with the neighbouring houses, before Wallace was reasonably certain that he and Wozniak now stood in a position that was adjacent in time and space to the garden shed of his childhood.
“Right, now try to find something solid that’s survived since the collapse of your home.” Wozniak instructed Wallace.
Wallace looked at his friend with disbelief. “You’re taking the piss, right? The house blew up. It was demolished, and the ground became a farmer’s field. It’s had cows shitting all over it for decades: How are we going to find ‘something that’s survived’? Peter, I love you dearly, but sometimes you talk bollocks of the highest order.”
Wozniak realised that perhaps he was being a little over-optimistic with his request, but he also discovered in that moment of introspection that he actually believed in the idea that he was a Causality Merchant.
“Trust me, Wal.” He grinned. “The shed was wooden right? It must have sat upon some sort of slab. Concrete: Flag stones: Something like that.”
Wallace shook his head as he cast his mind back to his formative years.
“Concrete blocks I think. Raised up about six inches. The ground ‘round here was always boggy.” Then another recollection impinged itself upon his consciousness. “With a fucking great stone step leading up to the door. I fell off it once, and had to be taken to the surgery with a tooth through my lip.”
Wozniak cast his gaze and his penlight to and fro as he began searching through the thick, tussocky, grass. His foot came up against something hard that was buried in the soft, moist soil beneath the grass.
A huge smile spread across his hairy face. “What, like this, you mean?” He said.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
Since the extract from Silent Apocalypse went so well, I thought I might tickle your fancy with an excerpt from its sequel…
And why not; it’s fab!
My arrival in the quaint rural conurbation was instantaneous. One moment Tasman was wishing me good luck; the next I found myself standing on the pavement directly outside the village community hall. Tasman had asked me why I needed to be placed in the open air when he could just as easily place me inside the house again.
“I won’t have any difficulty getting into the house.” I’d said, “But I need to know what everyone else is doing before I act.”
So now I stood in a biting late November breeze; in my Navy SEALS battle dress; with my face blacked up; armed to the teeth; and listening to an ill-tuned upright piano being played appallingly inside the building beside me. Moments later a large group of young voices broke into song. They didn’t sing well, and the song itself could only be described as a dirge. Easing my body past a clump of stinging nettles that were tall and well past their best I slid my body along the slatted wooden exterior wall of the communal building. Standing upon tip-toes I peered through the grubby high level window. Inside I could see a facsimile of one of my dearest friends from my own continuum – Thomas Kingsbury. He was two years older than me, but this version looked as though he had twenty years over me. He was leading the youthful villagers in a rather old fashioned song that I didn’t recognise and which would have sounded better coming out of the mouths of people two generations older. In any other circumstance it might have been amusing, but I knew that it was the false meat that had done this harm, and it doubled my determination to correct the situation.
I think my heart must have missed a beat when I recognised the pianist. It was none other my best friend (and Tom’s younger sister) Katherine. Katherine the caustic, easy-quipping heroine had been reduced to playing the role of choir mistress.
‘Not that I have anything against choir mistresses: it’s just not Katherine’s ‘thing’.’
It was difficult for me to see everyone inside the building without running the risk of someone spotting my blackened face at the window. Nevertheless I did as best I could and was horrified to see the previously trouble-making Lee singing heartily. Donald was there too – at the back where I’d expect him to be, which suggested that the false meat hadn’t entirely stripped him of his inhibitions. Even poor simple Kevin Lutchins sang along as best he could. But my greatest horror was reserved to last. It came when the long mousey locks of the only person in the room bearing a gun were cast aside by a casual flick of the head. I too stood there; or at least my double did. I/she wasn’t singing, but I/she didn’t appear to be enjoying myself/herself either. That in itself wasn’t the true horror of the situation – she wasn’t, after all, really me at all: No, that came when the song ended, and Martine stood to deliver a speech. By taking up her position to the right, and slightly behind the alien girl, this world’s Felicity Goldsmith betrayed her position in the new order of Brambledown: She was the enemy’s body guard. Her personal Rottweiler!
I recalled at that moment what this world’s Colonel Cosgrove had told me of ‘his’ Felicity, and how he’d despatched her, Lee, Katherine, and Donald upon a mission from which they were yet to return. Now I knew what that mission was: to fetch the population of Brambledown to the sanctuary of Crag Base. Now they would never return. Now they were mere pawns in game played by a psychotic alien teen-ager who dreamed of her own empire.
‘Not if I have anything to do with it!’
With everyone who was likely to recognise me (despite the black face and cropped hair) together in one place, the time was ripe for me to act. Quickly making my way back to the pavement I struck out in the direction of the house that Martine had sequestered in my reality. I’d recognised it in the video recording so I knew that she’d done the same in this reality.
Less than two minutes had elapsed before I arrived at the house. It stood reasonably separate from its silent neighbours, and was surrounded by a chest high hedge that someone had maintained quite expertly. The gate creaked gently upon only slightly rusted hinges as I let myself on to the property. Gaining entry to the house was no problem; Martine, secure in the knowledge that no one of sufficient intelligence to break in existed, had left the door unlocked. I simply turned the round brass handle and stepped into the darkened house. Once inside I produced a tiny flashlight from a breast pocket and moved directly to the cellar door. Opening it I shone the narrow beam into the stygian darkness below. I was rewarded with the reflected light from a huge pile of metal canisters that had been stacked together in the centre of the room. There was no mistaking their identity; just like the one on the video returned by the camcorder, these too contained the hallucinogenic processed meat that reduced vibrant young people into malleable fools that could, in the worst cases, border upon zombie-like.
Recalling how I’d destroyed an identical stash in my own reality I searched the main room for oil lamps. Finding none I tried the drawing room, but without success. As if to prove that no two realities are entirely alike it seemed that this Martine had dispensed with quaint old fashioned technology, and had had an Espeeg generator installed. I found it in a cupboard under the stairs, and took great delight tearing the house wires from it. This act, if momentarily pleasurable, didn’t solve my problem.
‘Improvise, Fel: improvise.’
I needed a material that would burn easily and with high intensity. Balled up paper simply wouldn’t do, but that was all I could readily lay my hand on. I recalled passing a parked Land Rover in the street, but that was almost certainly powered by the virtually non-inflammable diesel; and in any case I doubted that I had the time or means to syphon any from the tank. Finding my way into the kitchen I tried looking in the cupboard beneath the sink. All I found were the remnants of some bleach and a bottle of floor cleaner. From there I proceeded into the integral garage.
From my position in the doorway that led from the kitchen I was looking straight at a shelf upon the opposite wall of the garage. My flashlight beam had ensnared two bottles of white spirit that perched invitingly at one end of the shelf.
I don’t recall crossing the distance between the door and the shelf, or finding a box to stand upon in order to reach the manna from heaven. Neither was I aware of returning to the kitchen; snatching a pile of tea towels from the worktop; and returning to the cellar. It seemed as if no time had passed at all. But I was very aware of what I was doing as I soaked the tea towels with white spirit, then stripped the dining table of its cloth covering and drenched that too.
I tried throwing a tea towel into the cellar, but the false meat stack was too distant and it fell short. A second attempt failed in the same manner. Despite not wanting to descend into the cellar for fear of being discovered and having no escape route I was forced to pluck up the courage and make my way down. Having done so I tucked the towels into every nook and cranny I could find in the stack of canisters, and then draped the table cloth over the top. Stepping back to look at my handiwork I felt reasonably pleased. All I needed now was an ignition source. Unfortunately the contents of several drawers yielded not one match or lighter. I considered turning on an electric ring of the kitchen stove with the idea of setting alight a length of screwed up paper and carrying it down into the cellar. But I realised that my earlier act of vandalism had scuppered that plan. So instead I loosed off a shot from my MP7. It was a standard full metal jacket, and merely split open a couple of cans. The second had the same effect. But the third was a tracer round, and its white-hot incandescent casing ignited the vapours that rose from the spirit-soaked material. Instantly flames erupted across and through the stack of canisters. In a few seconds the blaze had engulfed it – heating up the fatty medium in which the false meat was suspended, turning it to liquid, where it flowed from the bullet holes, and proved most inflammable. I sent several more rounds into the inferno – spreading the fire further and wider.
I was about to congratulate myself upon a job well done when something came from the darkness behind me and knocked me senseless. I felt no pain as I tumbled like a ragdoll down the stairs into the cellar. Neither did I feel the coldness of the flagstone cellar floor or the searing heat of the fire at the cellar’s centre. But I was aware of a female voice screeching in anger and desperation.
“Who cares who she is: put out the fire. Put out the fire!”
This was followed by the abrupt illumination of the houselights on the floor above me and the clatter of a multitude of shod feet.
As my senses returned fully I became aware that I was lying upon my back and looking up the short flight of stairs that I had so recently fallen down. Illuminated by the flames that seemed to be coming ever closer to me I could see a solitary figure looking down at me. She wore her hair long and cradled an MP7 much like my own which lay a distance from me and appeared to be melting as the lava-like juices from the cans engulfed it.
“Fel.” I shouted at her. “Fel!”
She appeared to be startled at this. The barrel of her gun wavered as a look of confusion passed across her face.
“I’m you.” I lied. “I’ve come from the future.”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
Whoo – are you wondering what happens next – or even what the heck is going on? Buy the book and its prequel, and you’ll find out soon enough
Yes, after much frivolity its time for an excerpt from this fair tale…
And why not, it is my better-selling tome after all.
To shield his eyes, Driver crammed a wide brimmed hat on to his balding head. He then clambered in with us; extracted a huge hand gun from a metal box; before returning to the driving seat. He arrived in time to see two figures – one male, and one female – arrive with a confident stride from the darkness beyond. They were both dressed in identical, well-tailored coveralls and wearing helmets with rather intimidating mirrored visors. They held sophisticated-looking hand guns, the like of which none of us had ever seen.
Driver shook his gun at them: “You two can get lost, for a start!” He shouted.
The two figures either didn’t notice, which seemed unlikely, or they simply weren’t interested in what he had to say. To me it reeked of great arrogance; and that worried me.
Surely they recognized the lethalness of the weapon he held? ‘Or do they? Do they care? Who are they?’
They seemed far more interested in Horse. They approached, not with caution, but with open fascination. Horse tried to back away, but the Crag Bus stopped it. A small, sharp blade appeared in the hand of the male figure. I was horrified at the thought that they might actually dissect the animal then and there.
Naturally Driver was alarmed. He fired a shot in the air. This gained the attention of our two strange visitors. They approached Driver – totally oblivious of the gun aimed at them. They looked at his face – moving hands to their visors – which seemed to become transparent automatically – as though they were comparing the lines of Driver’s face, with an absence upon their own.
Kevin was absorbed with the whole situation. Unseen by any of us, he’d begun to lean out of one of the windows to gain a better view. Because of this the male figure became aware of us. It was a slow awareness. Not the sort when something catches your eye, or when you hear a sudden sound. No, this was slow – almost as if he’d known all along, and was only now letting us know that he’d seen us: that we’d finally gained his interest. His gaze gradually moved in our direction. It was like the whole world had gone into slow motion. His gaze slid along the sides of the Crag Bus, until his eyes locked with mine. How I knew this, I can’t say because his eyes were in deep shadow: But I knew. Then Kevin fell out of the window.
The two sophisticated handguns ascended as one. Both fired a single shot that made an unusual, but characteristic ‘zip’ sound that I’d not heard before.
Driver roared, “No!” He then squeezed the trigger of his handgun. Nothing happened, and he began shaking it in frustration.
The stranger’s weapons shifted their aim to the drivers’ seat. As if in response came several ‘puffs’ of silenced machine gun fire from an unidentified source. Both figures received direct strikes to their torsos. They staggered for a moment, and although we could see no blood or obvious damage to their coveralls, we were sure they would fall.
Katherine screamed in horror. Then she screamed again, but this time in fear for her own safety as, unbelievably, both figures recovered their balance and began casting around for signs of their assailants. Clearly confused, the female brought her weapon back to bear on Driver.
Lee let loose with the SA80. The female was flung bodily across the road by the impacts, but, as far as I could see, her suit was undamaged.
‘Wafer-thin body armour?’
The Male reacted by firing in our direction, several holes appearing in the side of the vehicle, but mercifully missing any living targets. Driver’s gun suddenly freed its obstruction, and seemingly fired itself at extremely close range. The old gun packed a huge punch; but although the male figure was sent reeling, he remained essentially unhurt and rolled back on to his feet with worrying agility.
“Get down.” I yelled at the old man.
But he was already on his way to cover. Showing remarkable nimbleness for a man of his age he was able to leap clear before the female figure opened fire upon his driving position.
Wonderful thing – adrenaline: Makes us all into Superman.
Donald and Katherine fired as one. By luck, or chance, each had selected different targets. Both scored hits, but with the same lack of ultimate effect. Rather belatedly (I thought) I finally squeezed off a few shots. Some hit their targets – most didn’t. But it helped keep the strangers off balance – if not really turning the tide of battle – for that was what we were surely in, as our opponents were able to respond with occasional shots in our direction.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Kevin rise slowly. He spotted Driver lurking behind the Crag Bus. As quickly as his four limbs could carry him, Kevin scrambled to join the old man. I then noticed the two holes in his haversack. Once again he’d escaped serious harm, and at that moment I promised myself that if I ever met the man who’d manufactured such a sturdy haversack I would give him the biggest kiss that there ever was. Then, almost simultaneously, our ammunition ran out. That stark moment of silence was followed by a lingering moment of horror as the two figures began advancing toward us – their guns raised.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
The best-selling book in my chequered portfolio is this one…
It took a long time before I felt ready to write its sequel…
But since the latter book has become my second-best selling book, wouldn’t it seem logical to write another? To create a trilogy? Here’s a snippet from the 2014 partial re-write. Maybe re-reading the first will inspire a third.
At that point Candice seemed to shrug off the tom-boy image that everyone knew. It was uncanny. It was as if I was seeing her for the first time. I could imagine her in tight revealing clothes – out clubbing on a Saturday night. A ‘babe’. A boy-magnet. The transformation was utterly astounding.
‘How the hell does she do that?’
“Quid pro quo is a payment,” she purred her explanation, “given, or taken, in equal measure to the service, or item, or person, supplied.”
To his credit Hawley was quick on the uptake. “You mean a life for a life? Something like that?”
“I can see why they put you in charge of this outfit.” She smiled.
On cue Lee spoke up: “We took one of your lot: you take one of ours.”
‘Is Lee in on something, or is he, as usual, playing it by ear? Winging it?’
Hawley had a moments’ trouble dragging his attention from Candice, who formerly no one could describe as being particularly attractive; perhaps ‘average’ might come close – if one such word could describe anybody; but who now seemed subtly altered. She was dirty, cut, bruised, and dazed, but now a hitherto submerged vivacity shone through it all. But Hawley succeeded.
“But I’ve got you all already: What’s to deal about? Anyway, Wayne’s not one of my lot.”
Lee had obviously seen the change in Candice also. He indicated her. To Hawley he said, “What’s to deal? You got eyes, aint ya?
Hawley was tempted, but I could see his resolution was going to win. So did Candice. With a startling display of ambidextrousness she whipped the two stolen hand grenades from her pockets, and flicked out the safety pins. Teenagers scattered in every direction – except Hawley. Candice had him in a bear hug – a hand grenade pressed against each shoulder.
He eyed Steve. “You should’a frisked her, ya useless wassack!”
“Quid pro quo.” She whispered to Hawley.
I lurched forward. This was exactly what I feared she’d do. I cried out, “Candice: No!”
Lee caught me by the midriff, and dragged me back.
“Candice, yes.” She replied.
Katherine then called out, “But you don’t have to give yourself up to these louts: There must be another way…”
But, pressed close to Hawley, Candice was shaking her head. “My friends I’m almost twenty. How long do I have? Haven’t any of you noticed that I can be a little crazy at times? I’m running a temperature already.”
‘No: this must be some kind of ruse!’
I saw Hawley flinch. “You…you’re…sick?” He stammered. Then controlling himself he added, “This quid pro quo stuff sucks. This isn’t a deal: it’s sodding charity!”
Candice allowed herself a smile. “And they said wit was a lost art. Now let’s think this through, shall we? You could threaten to have one of my friends shot…”
“I could threaten to have all your friends shot!” He interrupted her.
She was not fazed. “No doubt, but judging by the behaviour of your friends, these two little items in my hands are the real deal. I’m sick; therefore I’m dying. The thought of an abrupt and spectacular ending isn’t that abhorrent to me. You, on the other hand, are only – what – eighteen? You have your whole life ahead of you: Two years anyway.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
An impasse. Ooh…
This book is available as a paperback and e-book at Lulu.com (see sidebar) and as an e-book only at all major outlets, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Googlebooks etc (also on sidebar). It’s not a comedy, but it is entertaining.
I can’t believe that more than three years have passed since I completed (what I believe is) my best work. What have I been buggering about with since then? Oh yeah – some certain Earplug Adventures. Well, just to prove that I can be serious, here is a brief snippet from this book…
For bonds Tasman used cable ties that he found in the maintenance department. Speaking pidgin Espeeg to our captive he instructed the youthful technician to sit upon the floor with his legs out in front of him. He then tied his hands together, followed by his feet. Then, just for insurance, he bound his feet and hands together.
“I hope he hasn’t eaten recently.” I said. “With him bent double like that we’re likely to find out what it was.”
“Couldn’t care less.” Tasman said as he stood up. “All I care about is that he stays still and quiet.”
He then mocked the technician by making chicken-like movements and clucking.
For a brief moment I began to feel pity for the captive: I assumed that like many a soldier before him he’d been a victim of his civilisation’s ways and the demands of their society, which meant that he little option but to comply with the demands made upon him. Or to put it more simply – he’d been drafted. But when I saw the malice in his eyes; the arrogance in his bearing (even when bound hand and foot); and the barely disguised smirk upon his face, my sympathy evaporated.
I waggled my Espeeg weapon in his face. “Tell him that if he moves I’ll cut him to pieces with this.”
Tasman translated for me as best he could, and our captive’s widening eyes told me that he believed that I’d do what I said. But they quickly narrowed once more when the distinctive hum of an approaching Espeeg flying machine permeated the building.
“They’re here!” I shouted needlessly and with an obvious panic that embarrassed me and emboldened our captive into a full-on sneer.
Tasman ran to the electrically powered roller door that led from the bottling plant to the outside world. Looking through a tiny window set into an adjacent pedestrian door Tasman confirmed my hypothesis. Unslinging his MP7 he hit the ‘up’ button on the roller door control box.
“No time for cleverness and subterfuge.” He said, “Let’s give these guys a warm welcome: a very warm welcome.”
Then he was moving towards the plastic swing door that led into the warehouse. I was yet to move – apparently rooted to the spot with a terrified look upon my face.
“I’ll take care of the dogs.” He shouted as he placed distance between us, “You take out the Law-Keepers.”
Then, just as he was about to disappear from sight through the semi-transparent material he added, “Watch your trigger finger, Fel: If your gun is anything like mine it won’t reload.”
‘Anything like? It’s exactly like!’
“Thank you.” I shouted at the empty space that Tasman had occupied a nanosecond previously, “Thank you very much indeed.”
Then my adrenal gland went to work.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
Gosh, what might happen next? Big shoot ’em up perhaps?
See side bar for outlets that supply this book in e-book form. For a paperback version simply click on the Lulu logo. It will not be the worst thing you’ll do this week. Quite the opposite, I think.
Yes, after giving all my readers a break from my ‘serious’ books, for close to an eternity, here’s a brief extract from this wondrous tome…
Yes, I’m also Clive Thunderbolt.
Bullets made ragged holes in the grassy bank beside her car, and stones were kicked up, which spattered the vehicle’s paintwork. Katherine ducked down inside the vehicle as a second volley of machine gun fire studded the tarmacadam road surface between Wozniak and the tiny vehicle.
Anger exploded inside Wozniak’s brain like star shell. He grabbed Len and threw him at the car. Then he strode into the centre of the road, turned to face the corner, and raised the huge revolver. Two uniformed men were running down the road toward him. Both were armed. One with a machine gun, whom Wozniak assumed was the primary culprit, the other held a rifle. The man with the machine gun loosed off two careless shots as he cantered towards Wozniak before his magazine either jammed, or became exhausted. Wozniak coolly shot down the man with the rifle with a single round that caught the slightly built man in the shoulder – spun him around – and dumped him, face down, in the road.
The machine gunner looked at his fallen comrade for a moment. He appeared startled. He appeared torn, and seemed to consider fleeing, or perhaps diving for cover behind an ancient mile stone that lay partially embedded in the bank. But when he realized that his colleague wasn’t breathing, anger got the better of him, and instead of using discretion, he wrenched the magazine from his weapon, grabbed a fresh one from his webbing, and slotted it into place beneath the barrel. Wozniak then shot him down too. Two bullets smashed into his upper chest. He was thrown backwards by the impacts – and the gun spun away from his outstretched hands. His body slammed on to the road surface beside the rifleman. He twitched twice before slumping inert.
It had been a cold and calculating act of ultimate violence, and for a brief moment Wozniak hated himself for it. But, he reasoned well enough, it had truthfully been either them or him, and it wasn’t like he’d shot an unarmed man. Their intent had been clear. So in Wozniak’s mind his act wasn’t murder – whichever way one looked at it – or so he tried to convince his conscience.
“I’m getting rather good at this.” He said grimly. Then noticing Katherine’s inquiring expression, he added, “Killing people. And all I ever wanted to do was write TV shows. Is that asking too much?”
Len didn’t say anything, but he laid a huge, gnarled hand upon Wozniak’s shoulder, and patted him gently.
© Paul Trevor Nolan
This is actually available in paperback and e-book form. Perhaps you should purchase one or two. See the Lulu logo (on the side bar) for paperback and e-books; or the book covers (also on the side bar) to access Amazon, B&N etc.
Long before my absurd earplug stories, I wrote a series of ‘proper’ books that were (I hope) rather funny, and were definitely rude. The series was entitled Hamster-Sapiens, and it was – for a while at least – quite successful. People actually paid good money for a copy. Unfortunately they took me an age to write, so I (mistakenly) decided to look elsewhere for inspiration – I.E my camera. This extract is from my favourite volume – The Psychic Historian, first written in (I think) 2008.
In the short while that he’d been staying at Area Ninety-Nine, Turbine had clearly embraced science and technology. He even wore a brilliant-white lab-coat to emphasize the fact. And, amazingly, he’d proven most adept at creating vile cultures and ferocious moulds.
“Here,” he said to the chief scientist who was working on the task of creating a particularly virulent strain of Hamsters Arse with which Turbine intended to eradicate the prairie dog population of Prairie Dog City, “this is the latest batch.”
Turbine was sweating profusely – not from sheer effort, or the strain of long nights with his eye pressed against his microscope, but from heat-exhaustion.
“How long before they fix the air conditioning?” Turbine asked his boss.
“Indefinite I’m afraid, young Turbine.” The grey-muzzled old hamster replied as gently as he could, “They can make this technology work – but they don’t understand the principle upon which it works. It’s packed up.” He wailed, “And no one knows how to fix it!”
This was of great concern to Turbine. “This is of great concern to me.” he informed the chief scientist. “If my cultures get too hot they could grow at an incredible pace. They could replicate themselves exponentially over a matter of minutes, and break free from their electromagnetic constraints. Then we’d be right in the shit.”
Unfortunately Colin happened to passing at the time, and had caught every word. Even more unfortunately he chose to act upon them. He rushed from the room, raced along the corridor, dashed into the room that was labelled ‘Vile Cultures & Ferocious Moulds’, and began fanning the equipment with the hem of his lab coat. But most unfortunately of all – the speed of his fanning increased with every passing second until his paws became a blur, and the movement of air resembled a hurricane in miniature. The result of this action was that the table upon which the aforementioned cultures and moulds rested delicately was blown over, and the contents of the dishes were tossed into the ventilation system.
“Oh – dear.” Colin said as he realized his error. “I wonder if those spores were as dangerous as they looked?”
These were ominous-sounding words. They were the sort of words that made folk wince, and think ‘Now why didn’t he keep his big stupid gob shut?’ They were the sort of words that tempted fate to do its worst. Colin then compounded his verbal error by adding, “Oh I don’t suppose it was anything very important. I mean – what harm could a few spores in a ventilation system do? It’s not like it’ll bring down an entire civilization or anything.”
A few minutes later – as he was sauntering back the way he’d come – Colin discovered the truth of the matter. He was just pausing to adjust his wim-wom valve, when two burly guard-rats entered the corridor through a tubular emergency conduit. They wore isolation suits, and carried heavy-duty electric riot-prods.
“You.” One wearing a particularly shiny fez, upon which the words ‘Captain of the Guard’ had been hastily scribbled in felt-tip pen, growled, “Come with us.”
© Paul Trevor Nolan
This e-book is still available at most e-book retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Also available via the publisher Lulu.com (to view click on the Lulu logo on the sidebar).
…More a Least Worst Seller. The title of this post refers to a book and e-book first written in 2004; then re-written in 2007; before being giving a once-over again in 2014. It is…
But since it is my Least-Worst seller, here’s an extract from it…
A stray shaft of sunlight shining in my eye woke me from my troubled slumbers. Straw may look comfortable, but it pokes you in places you didn’t know you had, and it can really make a body itch. Fortunately the others had neglected to mention rats the previous night, so, when upon numerous occasions, I awoke to scratching sounds, or the weight of some furry animal running across my back, I was greatly alarmed. If I’d known what to expect in advance I’m pretty certain I’d have taken a tent with me – or just slept beneath the stars, and hoped that it didn’t rain.
Now, as brightness attempted to blind my bleary eyes, I knew that I hated living rough.
‘Nature? You can keep it!’
Katherine, on the other hand, was full with the joys of spring. She already had a fire burning outside, and the smell of coffee perked me into a sitting position. I noticed the absence of Lee and Kevin immediately. As I wandered outside I enquired after them.
“My, who’s a sleepy head, then?” Katherine chided. She then answered my question, “They’ve gone hunting.”
“Lee went hunting with our only assault rifle?” I was surprised that Lee would willingly waste such irreplaceable ammunition.
“No, silly.” Katherine replied – offering me a cup of black, watery coffee.
“With Kevin.” She added, “The lad’s very good with snares.”
I admired Kevin: He was worth two of any other boy of his age.
“He’s a little diamond.” I said as I sat myself beside Katherine.
The coffee was awful, but it was wet and warm, and at that moment it was enough. I gazed out upon the silent countryside, and let my brain slip into neutral.
Some unmeasured time later the boys returned with four dead rabbits. They were young. Perhaps born only a week or two after the virus had struck. It seemed such a crime for us to take life when it was so rare and precious. I must have said as much…
“Wanna eat, don’t you?” Lee was slightly miffed. He and Kevin had worked hard to make their catch. I apologized for my foolishness.
“Next time,” Kevin spoke eagerly to Lee, “I can show ya fish tickling.”
“Are there any?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Came Kevin’s positive response, “loads of ‘em. I seen ‘em in the river this morning.”
“Make mine trout.” Katherine put on her cut-glass accent, “Just like my men – I prefer them slightly soused.”
An hour later, with a rabbit each tied to our haversacks, we made our way along a dusty dirt track. It was a fine day, and in our childish ways we had shrugged off our troubles for the duration. This came to an abrupt end when a bullet kicked up the ground beside us.
© Paul Trevor Nolan
This post first appeared in 2013. When I rediscovered it, I thought it deserved a second fifteen minutes in the spotlight.
How many times has your rip-roaring tale of gung-ho-ness stuttered to a halt because you’ve written your characters into a desperate corner, and you can’t find a logical way out? Loads of times, I’m sure – especially if (like me) you’re the sort of writer who can’t stand planning the whole story out before hitting the first key of the story proper. There’s nothing worse for a writer (other than writer’s block) than thinking up a fabulous new direction in which to take the story – only to be forced to ignore it because you can’t fit it into the pre-existing plot.
So my tip for today is this…
Insert needless asides and details that move the story along not one jot, and which might appear at first to be totally spurious, but will later be called upon to get you right out of the literary shit. As an example I bring you this extract from my book ‘Danglydong Dell Diaries’. You will find that it appears needlessly rude – but boy did it come to my rescue when I needed to save my characters from oblivion later in the book…
Blubbersday, the Forty-sixth of Plinth. Like the other two parties before them, the group that was psychically protected by Primrose Pickles entered Far Kinell through one of the four main gates. In their case it was the rickety old Historic gate, where market stalls had been set up that sold ‘old fashioned’ or ‘retro’ stuff – like woollen bloomers, clogs, wooden false teeth, earthenware bed-warmers, beetroot wine, and a plethora of multifarious strap-on dildos.
For a brief moment Colin was quite taken by the latter, and even went so far as to study one or two of them minutely.
“Ere,” Boney called down to him from the broad back of Gargantua the giant cavy, “leave them fake dicks alone. Nothing good can come of tinkerin’ with the unnatural.”
“But I’m unnatural.” Colin reminded his current owner. “There isn’t a natural product in my body. And I was just wondering if I could utilise one of these as an addendum to my ‘special tool’. It could be fun. I could frighten sailors with it.”
Boney had to think about this for a few seconds. “Yeah that sounds alright.” He replied finally, “Maybe we can mass produce ‘em too, and sell ‘em as advanced alien trinkets. They don’t have no patent laws in this world, do they?”
It was a brilliant idea, and Colin duly flicked a few coins in the vendor’s direction, and snatched up the largest, most impressive specimen on his stall. It wobbled alarmingly in his paw as he walked away, and appeared almost too real for comfort. “Indeed they don’t.” He said quietly.
Primrose, meanwhile, was reconnoitring the immediate area with all six senses. She cocked her head upon one side – as if listening to something that no one else could hear.
Gargantua noticed this, and immediately he began mimicking her.
“What are you doing?” Primrose inquired.
“Hoping that whatever you’ve got rubs off on me.” Gargantua replied. “Maybe I can
be the first recorded psychic cavy in history.”
“Do they keep such records in Prannick?” Primrose was instantly fascinated.
Gargantua shrugged his shoulders, which almost flipped Boney from his elevated perch. “Somewhere in some secretive cubby hole of The Wheel they do, no doubt.” He said
Primrose’s fascination dissipated. “I’m trying to sense Tybrow Mooney’s presence, or at least his spore.” She spoke sternly, “Don’t interrupt with mindless trivialities.”
Colin arrived. He waved his wobbly dildo in Primrose’s direction. “What do you think of this, Primrose?” He asked politely.
Primrose wasn’t really paying much attention. “Lovely.” She said absentmindedly.
“Would you like me to go back and buy one for you?” Colin offered generously, “There was a sign that said ‘One size fits all’. Obviously I wouldn’t know what that means, but I’m sure it must be a positive attribute.”
Primrose then noticed the dildo as it wobbled like an elongated jellybean. “No!” she screamed. “It’s disgusting. Put it away.”
© Paul Trevor Nolan
Yes, this e-book is still available at all sorts of places, which includes Lulu.com.
Well then check out this re-write of a re-write of a re-write from a couple of years past that features just two pages from The Psychic Historian...