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Silence Returns

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.”

‘Damn!’

“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?

 

J.B.Chisholm: The Enigmatic Author

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!

Any Writer Who Can Think Up the Name ‘Chunder Bellows’ Is Alright With Me

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

 

Book of the Month?

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.

‘What else?’

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 Tastier Taster and a Promising Promise

Do you remember these guys?

No? They appeared in an Earplug Wallpaper. Hair vs Hat, I think it was called. Well, they weren’t a one-off. They – Flaxwell Maltings and Dr Gideon Snoot – are going to (finally, at last) appear in an Earplug Adventure. And in a very important role too. In fact they are going to tell the tale of A Tale of Three Museums – using a very nice little scout ship that enjoys the moniker of the Scroton Five…

…to search for The Porthole of Everywhere…

…which will display The Museum of Future Technology…

…in two timelines and two distant spacial locations – making three museums in total. Gosh! Imagine! How will I ever manage to keep all of these disparate threads coherent within my aging (and not always rational) brain? With difficulty, that’s how.

Well hopefully I’ve whetted the appetites of any Earpluggers reading this. Also hopefully, I’ll get the time and opportunity to shoot the pictures and write the script required to produce the story. At the time of writing this, the vagaries of life are creating barriers to the completion of my literary and photographic plans: but, fear not, I shall persevere. You will see another Earplug Adventure. I just don’t know when.

Tooty.

   

The Causality Casualty

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.

Nook Vs Kindle (re-blogged)

Peering back through my older posts (for inspiration) I chanced upon one from Feb 2016. Reading it, I realised that during the intervening three and a half years, nothing has changed. Here it is again…

Technically I know nothing of either. I don’t own an e-reader (despite the fact that I write e-books). But I know what I like. I like the e-reader whose users buy my e-books. So, having said that, I checked out my latest sales figures at Lulu (always a bit delayed – don’t know why), and it was business as usual. Nook users buy – the extremely nicely priced – ‘Silent Apocalypse‘ and ‘Silent Resistance‘ at Barnes & Noble: Kindle users download the free copies of ‘Junior Earplug Adventures’ from Amazon. Well what can you say – except, “Come on, guys; buck the trend!” Actually I take that back: Nook users just keep on doing what you’re doing.

  Silent Resistance final cover

P.S If you’re perusing, don’t forget to check out this: Barnes & Noble show the first few pages of every book as a taster…

psychic historian cover 2013 final

Great Nook Spikes!

At first glance that title might appear nonsensical. Who is Great Nook and what has he/she spiked? Sadly it’s nothing so fascinating: just me bringing some book sales stats to your attention. It’s just that recently there has been a slight spike in my book sales – notably the ‘Silent’ books…

…which is excellent: they are (after all) my better work. But, in the time honoured fashion, all sales have been to Barnes & Noble Nook users. Once again the Kindle readers have been left languishing in their wake – having taken only the ‘freebie’ Junior Earplug Adventure e-books. Hip, hip, hooray to all you Nook readers: and yah-boo sucks to the freeloaders – unless you come back to buy some of the non-freebie tales, in which case I would have to tell you that I love each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. But, at the moment, I only love you from the heart of my bottom. So get on over to the sidebar (or the relevant page beneath the header above, if you’re using a tablet or phone to view this) and start selecting a wondrous e-tome or two. Stand out from the crowd why don’t you!

Reading the Same Book Over and Over and Over Again

Sometimes you discover a book that you just know you’ll never give away. It doesn’t have to be a great work of literary art (like wot my books is), but nevertheless it just seems to resonate with you. Ever done that? In my case it was an early work of Isaac Asimov. I’d discovered his writing through a teenage boys’ magazine entitled Speed and Power. The publication was shite; but it did include short stories by famous science-fiction writers, which caught my attention. Well, quick as you like, they had me hooked. In the case of Asimov’s entry in the aforementioned magazine, it was the author’s least favourite story (in fact he couldn’t stand it, and confessed a sense of embarrassment when he read it) called The Weapon Too Dreadful to Use: and I thought it was fab – about a weapon that separated attacking spaceship pilots brains from the rest of their bodies – but without killing them. That was it: I was officially a sci-fi nut. So I absorbed everything I could find by the great author – starting with short story collections; then graduating to the novels – in this case, his first (as a very young man – barely out of his teens, I believe) – Pebble in the Sky. I read it first as a Seventeen year old. Then again at age Twenty-Two. Two decades later I read it once more. But still I couldn’t get rid of the book. I knew there was still some mileage in the ageing tome. So recently – again twenty years on – I treated myself over. And, you know, I still haven’t moved that book on to the next reader. In fact I’ve secreted it away in a safe place. Here’s a re-enactment of a 62 year-old Tooty discovering a line of dialogue that he recalled (for the third time) from his first reading – way back in the mid seventies…

I was going to suggest that I might read it again when I reach eighty-two: but looking at that grey beard of mine, it looks like I’ve already done it!

P.S Look at that classic 70’s book cover: they don’t make ’em like that any more.

P.P.S Back in the eighties I was once offered the opportunity to try out as an actor. Check out the scenery chewing in this shot. Fortunately, for the world of thespianism, I turned them down.

P.P.P.S I know there’s no such word as ‘thespianism’; but you know what I mean.

 

Distant Land (part 35)

Meanwhile, Folie, Placebo, and the others continued to stare in utter fascination at the bridge main viewer…

And what it showed at that particular moment was a spectacular head-on shot of the Gravity Whelk against a backdrop of stars…

Placebo was about to say something along the lines of: “Wow, how did they get that shot? Do they have a huge, invisible selfie stick or something?” when the view reversed…

“Ooh,” Folie managed, “a big star. Do you think that object in the top right quadrant is a planet?” But he shut up when the view altered again…

“That sure is a pretty ship.” Placebo opined in a  breathless rush. “And look how close it passed to that star. Look – it’s turning to port. It’s surely heading for…

…that planet. Oh, by the Saint of All Earplugs: it’s a frozen world!”

Then it became clear to those watching that the pause in commentary had been inserted so that they could enjoy the aesthetics of space craft in their natural environment. So, once more, the tale was taken up…

“Flipping heck.” Beaufort cried out at the planetary apparition, as the Gravity Whelk made a fly-past. “What the flip has happened on our home world? It’s gone all icy!”  

“Dunno.” Richter replied grumpily. “But we didn’t come half way across eternity to turn away now: We’re going in.”

So they did…

And before very long they were plummeting through the atmosphere towards the frozen surface…

Above which they skimmed at intolerably low altitude…

“Beaufort.” Richter called above the noise of keening air as it tore at the blunt prow and bulbous flanks of the large vessel. “See if you can locate the Museum of Future Technology. If that’s gone, the world is done for!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

Silence, Please!

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.

Sample the Silence Once More

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?”

‘Brilliant!’

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.

A Silence Concerning the ‘Silent’ Books

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.

Dreams are Crushed Beneath the Weight of Years

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.

Millions Can’t Be Wrong

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, Will I Do This Again?

The ‘this’ to which the title refers is writing. Sure the sentences between the photos in my Earplug Adventures is ‘writing’: but it isn’t proper writing. Proper writing is when the author describes the scene. Proper writing is the sort of stuff I used to live for. The sort of stuff I used to dream that (one day) I’d be really good at. The sort of stuff that comprised these four books…

The sort of stuff that looks exactly like this…

An extract from Silent Apocalypse.

Horse knew the way to our destination. Without any input from Driver, he turned across the road. By dawn’s early light we could make out the shape of a service station. Weeds grew through the cracks in the concrete, and rust had rotted the pumps. It had obviously been abandoned long before the plague had struck. Driver pulled us up in front of a plate glass window that had become opaque with dust and grime. The remainder of the building was coated with neglect also, and at some time a graffiti artist had immortalized himself. All in all this was a place that no one in their right mind would give a second glance. It was because of this very reason that the building had been selected. But that was something we were to learn later. An up-and-over door rattled open. Before us stood our man in black or at least someone who looked very much like him. Their isolation suits made each of them indistinguishable. Only body language could tell them apart. He beckoned us from the Crag Bus. I looked at Driver. He nodded.

We disembarked. Taking instructions from our mystery-man, we hurried into the dark recesses of the service station. I turned to watch him return to the Crag Bus. For some reason the acoustics of the building allowed me to catch their conversation. Driver leaned forward to best see the other man:  “Cosgrove, is it?”

The man, whom Driver referred to as Cosgrove (and quite clearly hailing from somewhere in North America), spoke without preamble:  “We’re not exactly packing them like sardines.”

“Can’t help that.” Driver replied flatly.

“It’s not like we have unlimited time…” Cosgrove spoke as though this was a well-worn conversational path.

“P’raps if you made them Whispers of yours easier to understand…” Driver suggested.

“Whispers, is it?” Cosgrove might have been amused if he hadn’t been so worried about something, “That’s a new one. No, we can’t make the message any clearer. We can’t take every urchin we find. We have to be selective – you know that. Only the brightest and the best…”

Driver finished his line for him. Obviously he had heard it many times before: “Only them what can decipher the hidden message. Yeah, I know. Aint too sure I agree with it: we could missin’ an awful lot of good’ uns.”

Cosgrove appeared weary. Perhaps this made him reply snappishly: “You don’t have to agree with it: Just do your job.” Instantly he regretted the outburst, though Driver appeared to take no offence. “I’m sorry, old-timer. Forget that. You’re a brave man. We owe you a hell of a lot.”

“You don’t have to go payin’ me compliments: It aint no bother. You’re the brave  ones so far as I’m concerned: I don’t need one of them isolation suits. But you…if you get just one nick in it…”

He left the suggestion hanging. Obviously it meant death-by-virus. Cosgrove clearly was a brave man.

“Well you’ve brought us another six: That’s six more than yesterday. If I get a little unreasonable once in a while, you’ll forgive, won’t you?”

Driver took up his reigns, “I’ll forgive you anything ‘cept failure.”

Cosgrove gave Driver a long, lazy salute. “I won’t fail. Our future depends upon it.”

Driver gave him a wink. Horse then turned the Crag Bus around, and they disappeared into the dawn mist.

Cosgrove quickly made his way to us – sliding the door closed behind us. Electric lights came on. We were all taken by surprise at the cleanliness of the buildings’ interior.

“Kids.” He said, (I hated the term) “Follow me.”

Without a word from any of us, we followed him to a door, which for all the world resembled an airlock. It hissed open, and we entered behind him. I felt a little trepidation run up my spine as it closed behind us once more. There were two small doors opposite.

“Right,” said Cosgrove, “I’m going to take the left-hand door: You take the right. One at a time, please.”

Then without another word Cosgrove promptly disappeared, as promised, through the left hand door. We all looked at each other. No one seemed eager to take the first step.

Lee put it into words. “Hey, we’ve come this far together: I aint too keen on breaking up our little team.”

“Yeah,” Wayne agreed, “Why should we separate? I say we all go through together.”

‘Is it camaraderie? Or are we just frightened kids who’ve been whistling into the dark for too long?’

We strode to the door as one. Donald pushed a green coloured button, just as he’d observed Cosgrove do. A lock was heard to ‘clonk’ open. He pushed upon the door. It swung silently open upon well-oiled hinges. Inside was a small room, not unlike an elevator. It was just large enough for us to pack ourselves in with a little room to spare. There was yet another door leading to somewhere else. The door through which had entered closed. The ‘clonk’ was heard again. Locked in. I didn’t like it.

“Thank you.” An electronic voice spoke, “Now please remove all of your clothing.”

Everyone erupted with varying degrees of colourful expletives. Unfazed, the voice repeated its instruction. It then added, “Decontamination will begin in one minute.” Now it dawned on us why Cosgrove had wanted us to go through one at a time. Donald tried the door, but there was no green button to press. In fact there were no controls of any kind. This was a one-way door!

“P’raps we could be decontaminated with our clothes on.” Lee said in desperation.

“Perhaps if we hammer on the door.” Katherine suggested.

I looked from one to the other several times. “Which door?”

“Both.” Wayne yelled.

Three to a door, we began hammering upon the hard metal, and shouting at the top of our voices. The electronic voice informed us that we had thirty seconds to prepare. At ten it began a countdown. When it reached zero we heard the now familiar ‘clonk’. Donald dared push at the door. It swung open into the ‘storeroom’, where Cosgrove stood waiting for us. It was difficult to make out his face behind the mask, but his eyes told us that he was not best pleased.

“Now that was a painless lesson about doing what you’re told, when you’re told. Ignore me again, and the next time it’ll be a whole lot less agreeable. Now go through one at a time.” He emphasized this last line. With that he re-entered his own door.

We shuffled about awkwardly for a moment or two. Finally Kevin made a decision, and approached the door.

“Need a bath anyway.” He said as he entered the room. “Bye.”

The door closed on his cheerful wave.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

A rather inactive excerpt, I think you’ll agree; but you can’t expect to have action-action-marvel-mystery-and melancholy at every turn – can you? No, of course not. By the way, this book, and those appearing above, are all available as paperbacks and e-books at Lulu.com; and as e-books at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and many other suppliers.

And to answer my question in the title of this post: God, I hope so!

 

Cricetinae Fictionem – or Something Like That: 24

It has been a significantly vast while since I posted an extract from one of these books…

They are, of course, the legendary Hamster-Sapiens series. And on this occasion I have chosen a random extract from Danglydong Dell Diaries.

Fanangy Panakan had lost neither her great beauty nor her foreign exoticness during the years since she arrived in The Where House from a distant land that was lost in time. She was scrumptiousness personified. She was delectable upon fifteen levels of gorgeousness. Every heterosexual male hamster in the dell that night would have gladly taken her home and placed her upon a pedestal at which they would have worshipped. Only Lionel Flugelhorn knew that she suffered the occasional spot on her bum, and that she farted really badly if she ate celery. But for once in her life it wasn’t her stunning good looks that most of the audience were now giving rapt attention: It was the story that she had to tell. So with the voice of a helium-fuelled angel the lovely Fanangy Panakan spoke…

Noodlesday, the Forty-fourth of Plinth. Boney hadn’t been entirely correct when he’d assumed that the interior of the hangar was going to be warm. Certainly it was warm when compared to the exterior temperature, but Fanangy Panakan’s spectacularly erect nipples told the true story. And the intense moisture of the returning fog was making the whole affair look like a decidedly seedy ‘wet T-shirt’ competition. Had his teeth not been chattering so badly that they interfered with his vision, Boney might even have enjoyed the view, but since Gargantua had discovered the ‘close doors’ button by accidentally sitting upon it, the light levels had dropped below his personal levels of ocular acuity, and he was rendered virtually blind. He could still feel his way about of course, but after tweaking the same nipple three times, the act was beginning to wear annoyingly thin with all three females present.

They had Sergeant Tonks to thank for the brilliant idea of boarding the giant dirigible that floated above them like some sort of bobbing-up-and-downy spectre of doom.

“We can climb up a mooring rope.” She’d first suggested.

“You can.” Boney had grumbled. “I can’t. I’m too old.”

“Me Too.” Gargantua piped up from the darkness. “It’s not that I’m too fluffing old: I just can’t climb. I’m a cavy: Cavies can’t climb. It’s a well-known fact. We’re real ass-wipes at it. And paddling canoes too.”

Fortunately Adjusterming recalled his one and only trip aboard a dirigible, and in doing so saved the day. It had been aboard the airship Dragon Slayer as its crew had attempted a non-stop circumnavigation of Hamster-Britain. Unfortunately one of the propellers had fallen into the sea just off the coast near Chunderland, and the seafront fondant shop that belonged to Henderson Dangerpimple had been utterly destroyed by the mini-tsunami that followed.

“This is fascinating, Mister Boficals.” Colin had politely interrupted, “But how will your pointless reminiscing gain Boney the sanctuary of the vessel above us?”

In response to this Adjusterming had looked down his considerable snout at the android. “The Dragon Slayer had a service elevator.” He sniffed.

And so the problem had been solved.

“Cripes, if it hadn’t been for fog hiding the ground, I’d have been really scared. I might have vomited with fear. Heck – it’s a long way up!” Fanangy said as she peered over the railing and watched Gargantua arrive upon the service elevator, which was actually little more than a square wooden platform with a rope attached to each corner, and which was usually pulled upwards by a squad of burly crane operators. But in the absence of the aforementioned crane operators this particular night the gigantic cavy was forced to endure the stress of being hauled up by his new-found friends, and he wasn’t entirely certain that they possessed sufficient strength and stamina.

Eventually, though, all nine rodents made it to the sanctuary of the warmer air at roof level, and the protection from the fog offered by the passenger gondola. Sweating and gasping, the hamsters and dormice either dropped into chairs or directly to the floor. Only Gargantua was unaffected by any physical effort because he’d basically just sat there and let everyone do all the hauling. But even so he still managed to eject several nervous pellets before he could bring the inner turmoil, caused by his ascension to the gondola, under control, and finally to relax. And, of course, Colin – who was an android who never sweated or gasped; but whose internal power supply had reached critically low levels, which meant that he had to place his higher functions in ‘hibernation mode’ before he lost all sentience.

It was during the release of the fourth cavy missile that an idea formed inside the fertile mind of Lionel. He’d already watched pellets one, two, and three ricochet off a roof support stanchion and tear themselves to fragments, and so merely enjoyed the aesthetics of the spectacular display of excremental destruction. He considered how pretty they looked. But the fourth missed, and duly sailed across the void like an airborne torpedo. It seemed to him that the scene resembled a world in miniature. The fog was a bank of clouds: The turd was a dirigible. The very sight of it brought out the wanderlust in him.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Naturally this book is available at most e-book stockists – including all those mentioned on the sidebar (to the right) or – should you be using a phone or tablet – above, beneath the header. Equally naturally – were you to actually purchase this wondrous tome – you would adore every page. So off you go then.

Cricetinae Fictionem – or Something Like That: 21

As per usual with this wondrous series, I bring you an excerpt from one of the following Hamster-Sapiens tales…

And today it’s the turn of The Abduction of Wetpatch Wilson!

Divine inspiration didn’t strike Wetpatch very often. In fact he couldn’t recall it ever happening before. But he was in receipt of it now. “Rat Trek!” He blurted.

Roman was mightily impressed with this. “That’s right.” He said with a smile so broad that he resembled a wide-mouthed frog that had been smoking the magic mushrooms of Danglydong Dell. “Mister Horseblanket was well versed in the science fiction genre, and would often utilise the events that took place in episodes of Rat Trek during periods or crisis. And like his hero, Lionel Flugelhorn made the best use of the fertile minds of those far away script writers. He freely admitted in a recent interview on Heathen Radio that without a thorough grounding in sci-fi, he and his friends would surely have perished in one of those frightening scenarios thrown up by the alien artefacts from Area Ninety-nine.”

Wetpatch didn’t know what to say when an auditory vacuum formed during the period that Roman spent trying to re-gather his breath following an ill-advised second extended sentence. So he fell back on old ways. “Yeah? So?” He grunted.

Like some sort of truncheon-wielding biathlete Roman drew in sufficient air to calm his tortured lungs for just long enough to say, “You’re a fan of the show. You have a box set of DVDs. Have you seen an episode that might pertain to our current situation in any way?”

So whilst the young police officer rolled about the carpeted floor gasping for his life, Wetpatch considered the question. It was patently true that science fiction had often pulled Horatio Horseblanket out of the metaphorical shit and probably saved the lives of countless hordes. It was equally true that Lionel Flugelhorn had also utilised his knowledge of the genre for the betterment of his situation on more than one occasion.

Wetpatch had once met Lionel at the grand opening of a rather graceless unicycle ballet, and couldn’t help but be impressed by both his girlfriend, and the copy of Fantabulous Stories that protruded from his back pocket. And he had at least seventeen copies of Horatio’s autograph: So he could see no logical reason why he – Wetpatch Wilson – shouldn’t duplicate the efforts of his illustrious predecessors. So he set to work, and quickly began running titles of Rat Trek: Season One past his inner eye.

Roman was well into his third cup of coffee, and probably his Nth spool of cotton candy, when Wetpatch looked up from the floor where he was ruminating, and waved for his attention.

“I think we shall have to conduct our search using an amalgam of science-fictiony scenarios.” Wetpatch informed the slightly older hamster. “No single tale of the much-loved TV show relates directly to our situation. But I believe that if we behave in much the same way that the helms-hamster, Mister Lulu, did in the second season opener ‘The Death Ray of Dork’, we shall take the first step upon the road that will carry us upon our great crusade to bring stability to The Crustacean Collective.”

“Wonderful.” Roman clasped his paws together in glee. “Good old Mister Lulu, whomever he is. What did he do?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Wasn’t that lovely! It didn’t tell you a bloody thing about the story, I know; but that’s the problem with random excerpts: they’re a bit…you know…random. Also as per usual, this e-book is available via the links on the side bar to your right. If you’re on a tablet it’s probably down the bottom somewhere. But it has to be somewhere. That’s the trouble with tablets; the screen isn’t big enough. On the plus side, my earplug stories look really nice on them though.

Captive Audience

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…

Captive Echo:

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.’

Present Imperfect:

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?”

Judith nodded.

“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

Why Clive Thunderbolt isn’t Like Tooty Nolan

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…

 

Captive Echo.

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…

Present Imperfect

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.

Silence X Two

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…

Silent Apocalypse.

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.

Silent Resistance

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).

 

Silence Revisited

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…

Silent Apocalypse

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

Silent Resistance

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.

Cricetinae Fictionem – or Something Like That: 16

Long before those cretinous earplugs appeared upon the scene, my comedic desires were pleasantly assuaged by stories about sentient hamsters that lived in a parallel universe to our own. Hence the Hamster-Sapiens series of e-books.

So, on this sixteenth attempt to invite you to join the Hamsterista of the world, I bring you an excerpt from The Abduction of Wetpatch Wilson

After hours of fruitless searching of the massive undersea vessel, the young male hamster finally found what he sought reclining in a swing chair in front of the false ‘window’ in the lounge. He’d visited the room several times during his quest, and correctly surmised that Sprightly had been avoiding him.

“Oh Wetpatch.” The strange alien rodent wailed after Wetpatch had put forward his theory, “I was only trying to avoid you to spare you the horror of facing your ultimate demise.”

“What?” Wetpatch’s expression grew grim, “You mean Auntie Amy’s idea – that we’re all going to suffocate – is correct?”

“It’s all my fault!” Sprightly’s wail grew shriller.

She then explained that both egg-sisters had made their report to the captain by using sign language through a specially designed view port in his control room. It meant that they didn’t have to put on diving suits, and the captain didn’t have to hold his breath if they released all the water in his tank in order to talk with him face to face.

Some of Wetpatch’s insolence returned momentarily. “Yeah? So?” He sneered.

“Neither of us is much good at sign language.” Sprightly cried out, and then sobbed upon Wetpatch’s shoulder. “The captain misunderstood.”

What Wetpatch should have demanded at that moment was precise details. What had the captain misunderstood? What was his reaction to the false news? That sort of thing. But all he could think about was the impossible suppleness of Sprightly’s breasts as she crushed them carelessly against his arm.

“Cor…” He said lasciviously.

This simply utterance brought Sprightly to her senses, and she pulled away. Recognising that the magic moment was now firmly entrenched in the past, Wetpatch rather belatedly found the right questions to ask. And what he learned both shocked and awed him…

“What?” He boomed in his best stentorian tone, “The captain is in a bi-polar state of depression, and wants to die?”

“Yes.” Sprightly returned to wailing, “When we told him that the gut-rot pirates had shit all over the place, he thought we were telling him that the Gulfstream Pirates had been hit all over the place. He’s a huge baseball fan, and the Gulfstream Pirates are his home team. He’d bet heavily on them winning this year, and one loss would mean that their perfect season was over, which in turn would leave him at the financial mercy of his creditors; his evil brothers; and the Church of the Unwieldy Lobster.”

Wetpatch was having difficulty believing what his ears were telling him. “So now he wants to die? Is he some sort of tit? Can’t the Crustacean Collective come up with someone a little more stable to be their submarine captain?”

Sprightly shook her head. “He was the only applicant.” She sighed miserably. “Well there was a prawn, but none of his feelers worked properly, and he couldn’t tell left from right.”

And all that Wetpatch could think to say was, “Still…” Then another thought impinged itself upon his frightful reality…

“Hey.” His mood suddenly brightened. “Maybe I can cheer him up.”

Like a starving shrew grasps a mouldering cadaver, Sprightly grasped this idea. “Yes, what a wonderful idea: How were you thinking of performing this fabulous act?”

“Easy.” Wetpatch beamed, “I’ll show him my massively swollen testes. They’re enough to make anyone laugh – if only with relief that they don’t have to suffer the pain, anguish, and discomfort that I do myself!”

Clearly, as plans went, this was neither cunning nor sensible.                                                

“I don’t think so.” Sprightly replied – her face downcast and close to tears, “Lobsters don’t have testes: No matter how hilarious your enraged gonads may appear to a mammalian, the captain’s sense of humour will not be stimulated by their exposure. His visual acuity is a little off too, so there’s a good chance he’ll think your balls are your brains, and actually make the situation worse. He might even grip them in his mighty pincer, and tug them mercilessly from side to side, then cram them into your rearmost vent.”

Wetpatch was quite taken aback by this information. He’d read the autobiography of Hamster Heath’s only entrant into the Hamster Hall of Fame – Horatio Horseblanket, and during that remarkable young hamster’s adventures he’d relied upon his famous bollocks to save the day on more than one occasion. Wetpatch merely wished to duplicate his success. But he’d not read a single sentence that suggested that Horatio had ever suffered the ignominy of having his balls stuffed up his arse.  “Hmmm.” He pondered wisely for a moment. Then, as luck would have it, inspiration struck again, “I know.” He yelled joyously, “I’ll adopt plan ‘B’.”

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Now dare tell me that hamsters don’t make great vehicles for a tall tale!

This e-book is available from most suppliers. Check out the sidebar for access to some of the better known ones.

Cricetinae Fictionem – or Something Like That: 13

Long before those delectable earplugs appeared on the scene, my comedic desires were assuaged by stories about sentient hamsters that lived in a parallel universe to our own. Hence the Hamster-Sapiens series of e-books.

The following excerpt erupts, like a literary volcano, from Fanfare for the Common Hamster…

Nobody likes a sore loser, and there was surely no loser of more intense soreness than the Law Master of Weasels Pit – after once more losing her quarry – this time in a vast sump of slurry. Feeling utterly defeated she returned to the Rancid Maggot Inn where she resumed her copious imbibing, and entertaining those few lawmen who could be bothered to join her by showing them her latest piercings. Slowly, as the rough ale took its revenge for having been wrenched from the sanctuary of the beer cellar, Perfidity’s thoughts slowed, and the exalted feeling of being one with The Wheel seemed to putrefy, releasing the very beast within her that, under normal circumstances, she would have most dreaded: In short she got all horny.

Naturally Quentin Blackheart had already slipped from the scene, and was enjoying a bowl of steaming night time gruel in his little cabin beside Lake Effluence, so could not begin to assuage her needs.

Bet he was probably hamster-sexual anyway’, she thought morosely.

And the others now lay upon the floor, snoring in a most unmelodious way. It took a few moments for her brain to fully acquire the next thing that she looked at; but when she recognised the stairs for what they were – the way to Tybrow Mooney’s bedroom – she put aside her feeling of revulsion and loathing, and sent herself reeling towards the door.

Now it’s quite possible that in the event of the Law Master bursting into Tybrow Mooney’s private sanctuary  – smelling something evil, and swaying like a rhubarb frond in a hurricane – the potential recipient of a really good rogering could have been forgiven for clutching his night dress to his shallow chest, and screaming shrilly until either his eyes watered, or he ran out of breath. But this did not happen. This did not happen because Tybrow Mooney was very conspicuously absent.

“Ugh?” Perfidity grunted as she whipped back the sequined duvet that covered the solitary bed. Then she staggered in confusion: She could clearly hear the skinny hamster’s snoring; but of his body there was no sign. “Ugh?” she repeated.

Then, as is the way of well-trained Law Masters, her ability to overcome drunkenness kicked in: Rational thought returned.  She replaced the approaching third grunt with, “What the f…?”

Then she noticed that the candle beneath her outstretched arm was not burning her fur in the time-honoured way of candles: Instead it was making it stand on end, and giving her tingling feelings in places that she didn’t know existed.

“Tis the Axle’s candle!” she boomed like a wounded fog-horn, “Be extinguished!

With that she attempted to snub out the flame with a thumb and finger.

Naturally the sole result was that she was flung across the room by the resulting electric shock.

Stunned back into full intelligence she decided to avoid the problem of the Axle’s candle for the moment, and concentrate upon the invisible snoring. Well it didn’t take long for her to discover the hidden speakers, and then trace the wire to the bedside cabinet in which the old-fashioned cassette tape recorder lay. Of course she had no idea what she held in her paws as she turned it over and over in a close inspection: But she knew that it was a device, not of Prannick, but of somewhere else entirely. She also conjectured that it was evil incarnate.

“Hmmm,” she hummed as she replaced the items, then tidied the mess that she’d made whilst flying across the room. “Hmmm.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

If, by chance, you’d like to view this wondrous e-tome, you can do so by visiting the pertinent book covers upon the sidebar to the right side of your screen.

Cricetinae Fictionem – or Something Like That: 9

Long before those nauseatingly fabulous earplugs appeared on the scene, my comedic desires were assuaged by stories about sentient hamsters that lived in a parallel universe to our own. Hence the Hamster-Sapiens series of e-books.

On this momentous occasion I’ve elected to share with you an excerpt from The Psychic Historian.

It was clear from Freda Bludgeon’s appearance that time had passed in the green valley where the famous author lived in her stone-built cottage. Now her grey muzzle perfectly matched the low cloud that hung above the valley like a menacing oil spill. Her clothes had become worn, and the previously bright white net curtains that hid the interior of the house from nosey passers-by were dull and splattered with the detritus of years.

Freda, herself, was trying desperately to write her latest best-seller, but it was obvious that she had been stricken with the nastiest case of writer’s-block since the invention of the written word.

“Oh woe is me.” She cried plaintively as she flung aside her tatty, almost useless, typewriter, “Until I can feel my belly full once more I swear that I cannot write another word.”

Any other complaints and utterances of self-pity were put aside when there came a knock at the door.

“Who is it?” she called.

“Get up off yer skinny arse; answer the door; and you’ll find out – won’t you.” The gruff reply pierced the thick wooden door that barred the cold, blustery, day from entering like a head-hunter’s spear.

The voice belonged to Izzy Ekaslike – the local postal delivery person. For a moment the thought of what Izzy might have in the bottom of his satchel gave Freda reason to hope. ‘Is it possible that he might be delivering a royalty cheque?’ She thought it unlikely – especially since everyone was so poor now that not a single book had sold in the last year – anywhere throughout the entire land of Hamster-Britain.

‘But there’s always overseas sales.’ She thought, ‘Not every country has adopted the environmental concerns, and legislated new anti-pollution laws that my endless campaigning has managed to push through parliament, and which now cripples the country’s industry and farmers to such an extent that they’re no longer competitive in the world market.’

“Be right there.” She said chirpily.

Izzy Ekaslike stood and dripped in the doorway as Freda opened the door to him.

“Izzy.” Freda said by way of welcome.

“Miss Bludgeon.” The miserable-looking male hamster replied politely – if a little curtly.

“Do you have a little something for me?” Freda inquired.

Izzy held secret feelings for Freda, so he was surprised, and slightly thrilled, by the question.

“How’d ya mean?” he inquired in turn. “What – in me trousers, ya mean?”

Freda, for all her fame, was no female-of-the-world. “Your trousers?” she looked puzzled. “Has your satchel developed a hole in it?”

Izzy’s shoulders slumped. He knew it had been too good to be true. Famous authors never had sexual intercourse with postal delivery people: It was a well-known fact. “Yeah,” he said, even more grumpily than usual, “It’s a letter.”

With that he flung an envelope across the threshold; turned away abruptly; mounted his push-along-scooter – which Freda noticed no longer bore any tyres upon its tiny wheels – and made off at his best speed, which was actually very slow, due in no small part to the fact the road was nothing more than potholes held together by short stretches of tarmac.

Moments later Freda had returned to her pantry, and was tearing the envelope open with her incisors. It had been weeks since anyone had bothered to contact her, and she was shaking with the excitement of anticipation.

When, after she’d managed to calm her trembling paws, Freda had battled her way past the arsenic-laced seal, the cheese wire wrapping, and the small incendiary device inside, Freda’s eyes pored over the attached letter. In the brief moments before her solitary oil lamp stuttered into extinction she managed to decipher the opening lines: They read…

Dear Miss Bludgeon, you are an utter bastard. I hate you with all my heart. When the time comes for you to die, I hope it is long and protracted, and gives you the opportunity to reflect upon your actions, which have been instrumental in destroying the fabric of life in Hamster Britain. If it was physically possible for a minge to fall off – I hope your does. Or at least get horribly infected. Due to your stupid environmental interference I have lost everything, – my company, my family, my self respect, and, most importantly, my great wealth. Recently I was forced to sell one of my kidneys to one of the few rich people left in this benighted country, and the larger of my testicles to scientific research – merely to buy a loaf of bread and some fuel to power my lawn mower.  Worse still is the fact that I am one of your biggest fans. This winter I have found it necessary to burn my entire collection of your mystery novels – not because I now hate your work, but because it is the only way to heat the tiny garden shed that I now call home. If Springtime doesn’t arrive soon I’ll have to burn all your self-help and sex guides. After they’re gone I don’t know what I’ll do. I can’t even nail up an electrical socket without literary aid: And quite what I’ll find to do with my willy confounds me. But that’s all by-the-by: The point of this letter is…

To say that Freda was shocked was possibly the understatement of the year. She was more than shocked. In fact she was so shocked that she had to run to toilet, which was fortuitous because she kept an early prototype Timmy the Twonk Engine wind-up torch on top of the cistern for situations just like this. Winding the handle on the side of the torch for all she was worth, Freda dropped her knickers, sat her withered buttocks down as comfortably as possible (which was difficult because the toilet seat had broken during an autumn storm, and she was yet to find the fiscal resources to replace it), and settled herself to read the remainder of the letter.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

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Cricetinae Fictionem – or Something Like That: 6

Long before those silicon superstar earplugs appeared on the scene, my comedic desires were assuaged by stories about sentient hamsters that lived in a parallel universe to our own. Hence the Hamster-Sapiens series of e-books.

In this, the sixth excerpt from my somewhat unique book series, I bring you a taster from the inexplicably unpopular The Abduction of Wetpatch Wilson – a book, I might add, that a test reader considered the funniest yet (until the fifth and final book – Danglydong Dell Diaries, arrived, of course).

Well naturally not one of those present in the former Federation Council Chambers could make any sense of the seared and ruined notice that Droop so painstakingly reassembled over the next five hours. It was simply too damaged to read – even after holding a candle behind it, and peering really hard. But the time hadn’t been totally wasted: Desmond had invented a highly interactive Education Computer so that Wetpatch wouldn’t fall too far behind in his studies for the Right to Adult Existence Examination that was due later in the year. And the fact that he’d managed to utilise some advanced Crustacean technology for it made it seem exotic and exciting – and Wetpatch had it follow in his wake everywhere that he went – even to the toilet.

“Hey, Wettie. The Education Computer, which naturally Wetpatch had named Kevin (despite Sally’s assertion that it should be known as Eddie) called, as it trundled behind the young hamster upon a multitude of tracked wheels, “Can you slow down? I got just the one ocular unit: I don’t got no depth of field. These walls get real hard sometimes: I done scratched my paint-work a thousand times already.”

As an education computer Kevin was a mine of information – most of which had been gleaned from the central computer of the Federation Council. Naturally the folk of Hamster Heath had added their input, and generally speaking it had been a worthwhile endeavour. But the machine’s use of the spoken language was flawed, and everyone was concerned that (upon Wetpatch’s eventual return to hamster civilisation) he’d sound like a single-brained-celled idiot to the populace of that fair town.

“Can’t you do something about it, Professor?” Sally had asked. “The thing speaks abominably.”

“I’m sorry, Sally dearest.” The hamster genius had replied, “I share your concerns, but really I don’t have the time: There’s just so many things to study if we’re ever to find the whereabouts of the Federation Council members. I’m afraid that it’s a matter of priorities.”

“Sure, Sally.” Ho had offered, when the ambassador mentioned it to him, “I got time between baking cakes and things: How ‘bout I try fix computer talking stuff?”

It had been a genuine offer, and Sally was grateful for it: But she must refuse.

“I’m sorry, Mister Ho.” She said as she patted his paw, “That’s very kind; but your Hamster-British is complete shit. With your verbal input we’d have Wetpatch talking like a Chinese chef by the time we get home. Now run along and knock me up a nice bowl of something vaguely edible. Can you do that for me?”

Of course there wasn’t anything that Ho wouldn’t do for Sally – even accepting horrendous insults without reply. “Sure, Sally.” He said chirpily, “How does sea-slug burger sound?”

Moments later Wetpatch flung himself into the tiny room that he called his ‘cabin’. Naturally Kevin followed him in, and settled down upon its suspension in the only free corner of the room. The remainder of the room was stuffed to the gunwales with ‘stuff’ that Wetpatch had ‘liberated’ from various places throughout the vast building.

“Sorry, Kevin.” Wetpatch began. But his mind quickly wandered when he heard Droop Van Dong shuffling past his door. He could tell it was Droop by the sound of the ball and chain that Roman had manufactured and affixed to his chubby leg.

Kevin recognised the sound too. “Hey, Fat-boy; get your blubber in here, will ya: I got somethin’ real important to tell ya.”

Wetpatch was surprised at this invitation by the quasi-automaton. He couldn’t imagine what an education computer would have to say to an imprisoned Dutch hamster clone. But he was about to find out…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Cricetinae Fictionem – or Something Like That: 5

Long before those pesky earplugs appeared on the scene, my comedic desires were assuaged by stories about sentient hamsters that lived in a parallel universe to our own. Hence the Hamster-Sapiens series of e-books.

This time around we visit Fanfare for the Common Hamster in search of a delightful excerpt. And here it is…

It was cold, dark, and down right nasty beneath the surface of the River Turgid, as it ambled between Prannick’s twin towns of Near and Far Kinell with all the pace and alacrity of a bout of constipation. But Perfidity Gallowsmith had scant moments to consider such discomforts: Her immediate concern was the severe depletion that had taken place to the air reserve that she’d managed to accumulate in her hamstery cheek pouches moments before being knocked unconscious by a huge torpedo-shaped cavy-dropping, and falling into the river. Since then she’d been forced to ditch her famous chainmail knickers and leather breast-hammocks in order to remain above the mucky goo of the river bed, and now she was feeling distinctly naked both outwardly and inwardly.

It was difficult for her to judge whether the onlookers upon the bank were still ‘on looking’, but she couldn’t take the risk of being discovered by them: In Prannick the vanquished leader was always put to death in a most public exhibition. She would rather drown than face that ignominy. Then, as she drifted with the river’s flow, the town’s sewage out fall pipe seemed to crawl by at a snail’s pace. It was dark and foreboding; but it might also supply a temporary sanctuary for her.

“With any luck,” she spoke to herself through lips that were clenched so tight that they might have been hermetically sealed, “there’ll be air at the top of the tunnel.

Striking out for the circle of black in an otherwise colourless environment Perfidity tried to gauge the time of day: She must be in and out of the tunnel before sixty-three minutes after thirteen o’clock, when the Town Ka-ka Release Officer emptied the slurry pit below the public toilet into the river: An ignominious departure into the hereafter was preferable to Death By Excrement. But as she approached the outfall she became aware of a subtle change in its appearance. It seemed to have become somehow blacker. A more intense black. A negative-light sort of black. She blew-off several times to dispel the intense feeling of fear that was threatening to steal her reason away. But despite these gaseous out-pouring, the darkness seemed to be drawing her to it. Then, as she began to struggle against the impossible pulling sensation that seemed to be acting upon each and every atom that made up her rather large, but surprisingly curvaceous body, the darkness seemed to leap forward to engulf her. She had just sufficient time to break-wind once more, and then scream incoherently.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Cricetinae Fictionem – or Something Like That: 3

Long before those adorable earplugs appeared on the scene, my comedic desires were assuaged by stories about sentient hamsters that lived in a parallel universe to our own. Hence the Hamster-Sapiens series of e-books. 

So, on this occasion, I’m gonna treat you to an excerpt from the fantabulous Danglydong Dell Diaries…

Tumblesday, the Twenty-two’eth of Twat. Horatio could well remember when the ultra-realistic Patti Poo-pants doll had been unleashed upon the young female population of Hamster Heath. His testicles had still been tucked up safely inside his torso at the time, and there were times when he’d almost been tempted to ask his mother for one himself. But he hadn’t bothered for two principal reasons. One: His mother would have thrown up her arms in panic at the thought that her only son was hamster-sexual. Two: He would have received a vicious back-hander from her for daring to suggest that she spend her ill-gotten gains on something so essentially Hamster-French.

Of course Horatio had known nothing of Amstair Fronce at that time. He was yet to meet the famous three-wheeled go-kart racing champion, Norbert Disentangle. He was yet to paddle a dug-out canoe across the Bay of Biscuit, and be saved by a Hamster-French air-sea rescue helicopter. He was yet to have rampant non-reproductive sexual intercourse with the beautiful (if vain) Candice Rancide. Or smear Brie upon the raging volcano that was his sore anus during the most recent outbreak of Hamsters Arse. In fact he was yet to do anything that was in any way connected with that fair land across the sea. But he knew instinctively that anything produced in Hamster-France was, in some way, more stylish, and therefore more desirable, than anything made locally. He also knew that it was intrinsically wrong for a boy to want a girl’s doll – even if it did defecate most realistically.

These remembrances were flashing through the young male hamster’s mind now – as he sat upon the night bus from Poxford (where he’d been studying at Saint Dunces) to Hamster Heath – and, most significantly, the elderly male hamster on the seat opposite him looked decidedly like one of Britain’s most celebrated failures of recent times – Sir Goosewing Gray.

“Excuse me.” Horatio raised a paw and stamped three times on the bare metal floor to gain the older hamster’s attention, “Aren’t you Sir Goosewing Gray?”

The look that Horatio received was one of pure malice, and the following silence (that could only be described as ‘vicious’) should have set alarm bells ringing in Horatio’s head. But Horatio being Horatio, he ignored the warnings, and pressed on regardless.

“Yeah, didn’t you used to work for Twang Toys?” He continued.

Gray’s eyes snapped around to peer at Horatio. “Shush.” He hissed as silently as possible.

This gave Horatio reason to pause. He craned his neck around to see if Gray had any earplugs or headphones rammed into his ears. He even checked to see if the young female that sat beside him was a prostitute. But when she refused to lift her skirt and reveal her split crotch panties he quickly realised his error.

“Pardon me.” He said politely, and raised his hat to the young female, “Mistaken identity. I thought you might be a right slapper ‘on the game’.”

Then he turned his attention to Goosewing Gray once more. “If I’d been a girl when I was a kid, I’d have been a very annoyed youngster if I’d bought a Shitty-Arsed Sheila doll.”

Gray’s expression altered again. This time it pleaded – ‘Go away, and don’t mention the Shitty-Arsed Sheila doll again.’ But Horatio was immune to subtle nuances. Unless Gray told him to fluff off, he’d pursue this line of conversation until the bitter end.

“Yeah.” He started yet again, “Wasn’t Twang Toys utterly ruined by the Shitty-Arsed Sheila doll fiasco?”

Now it was most fortuitous that the bus carried very few passengers that blustery mid-Twat day, and with the exception of Goosewing Gray and Horatio, all of them were first year students in Poxford, and were either too young to recall the industrial melt-down to which Horatio referred, or had their heads buried in an electronic game device. It was fortuitous in two ways. One: No one looked up and pointed derisively. Two: Gray didn’t feel sufficiently rattled to bite upon a poisonous ‘tooth’ that he kept hidden at the back of his mouth on the off-chance that he might be accosted in the street by a film crew – and the tragic error that was his life become uncovered upon live TV.

“What was wrong with the Shitty-Arsed Sheila doll exactly?” Horatio decided to press on despite the young female standing up and walking to another seat, and inadvertently showing that she didn’t wear split crotch panties at all: Instead they were pink, with blue spots and a smiley face embroidered upon each buttock.

“You’re the fluffin’ expert.” Gray hissed through the side of his mouth, “You tell me!”

Well Horatio was always up for a challenge, and despite the fact that the sovereign of Hamster-Britain – Horatio’s blood father, Prince Rupert of Bandigal – had knighted Gray for Services to Industry and Other Follies, Horatio felt that he probably knew more about the whole affair than anyone aboard the bus – save, obviously, for Goosewing Gray himself.

“I imagine that it had something to do with the excrement.” Horatio half-stated – half-inquired.

Gray nodded, but remained mute.

“Whereas the Patti Poo-pants doll featured fake excrement that smelt of either jasmine, cinnamon, rose petals, or Amstair Fronce’s most famous perfume – Canal Boat Number Five,” Horatio continued, “sadly yours smelt like….”

“Crap?” Gray suggested.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

If you fancy purchasing this charming e-book, it is available from several sources, including those mentioned on the side bar, to your right.

 

Another Ancient Excerpt

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

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Ancient Excerpt

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

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Some More Potentially Apocalyptic Stuff

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

Some Potentially Apocalyptic Stuff

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

Some More Apocalyptic Stuff

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.

‘Bingo!’   

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