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

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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.

Captive Moment

I know that most of my blogs feature either silly tales or half-way pleasant photos, but every once in a while I’ll post a snippet of my more serious work: and this is one of those ‘every once in a whiles‘. I’ve chosen to present an excerpt from this book/e-book…

Yes, that’s right: I also write under the ridiculous name of Clive Thunderbolt. It’s to differentiate between the family friendly stuff of Paul Trevor Nolan and slightly more violent and vaguely sexual stories, such as the above tome. Don’t blame me for the pen name: my son thought it up.

Anyway…to the excerpt…

Wozniak couldn’t help himself interrupting again: He was used to telling stories – not listening to them, “Yes, yes. There’s a theory in quantum physics that suggests that everything that can exist – does exist – somewhere. It’s just the matter of accessing it where the problem lies.”

“That’s right,” Katherine nodded her appreciation. It seemed that this lecture was more for Janice’s benefit than anyone else’s’, “All potential events and decisions – every possible twist and turn of our lives – takes place somewhere – in some dimension – with vastly varying consequences. From what I understood from the necessarily brief induction I received in Wycksford, it seems that in one reality a rock may fall from a cliff: In another it may remain in place for another hundred years. The ramifications of that event in one world may result in a world vastly different to the one in which it failed to take place.”

Wozniak was off again, “Exactly. In one dimension a Prince may get brained, and the kingdom falls to a barbarian horde…”

To his surprise it was Janice who, in turn, interrupted him, “In the other he passes by in ignorance, builds a huge castle nearby, and founds a dynasty that lasts for a thousand years. What a brainteaser. You know this really is quite fascinating. But is it real? I mean – this is all very nice in theory – but where is the evidence to prove that it really exists?”

Wozniak indicated Katherine with a backward slant of his thumb. “You’re looking at her.”

Janice pursed her lips, and answered, “The jury is still out on that.”

“Well let’s allow the principal witness her time in court, shall we?” Wozniak suggested.

Katherine nodded her polite gratitude, and took up where she had left off; “Wycksford accessed multiple alternate states two years ago. It was a very hush-hush affair: Only a small knot of people knew anything about it – even the existence of the theory. Peter Wozniak – the other one, that is – was one of that small group. Naturally – being a mere secretary – I was not. Well, very quickly they realized that they had a tiger by the tail: To say that they grew fearful would be the understatement of the year. Can you imagine what might happen to a society if anyone got hold of such a working technology? Well just not anyone: How could you trust your own government with such technology? Nowhere would in inaccessible. Enemies of the State: Terrorists: Criminals: If they operated LLD, there would be no defence against them. Absolute anarchy would rule. Civilized society would collapse. And perhaps miscreants would soon be crossing into societies throughout all inhabitable dimensions. As a worst-case scenario – in the wrong hands – perhaps religious extremists, or ethnic supremacists  – it could result in the destruction of civilization everywhere. And I don’t mean everywhere in the world: I mean everywhere – with a capital E!”

“In which case, I for one, sincerely hope that this is just a theory, and has no place in reality – any reality.” Janice opined in a shocked tone.

“But it isn’t.” Katherine sounded desperate to convince the doubtful woman who stood before her. If Janice was to be of any genuine help with her task, it was of absolute importance that she believed the truth. There would be no time for hesitation. “Wycksford took the only logical course of action.” she continued, “Despite the vociferous arguments from Peter Wozniak: They destroyed the only operating machine, and incinerated every piece of data pertinent to it. Short of mass suicide, they effectively erased it from history.”

Giving Janice and Wozniak a moment to assimilate this, Katherine continued her lecture.

“Everybody thought that was that. Job done. Game over. To use a mixed metaphor, they’d bottled the genie, and capped the well. Now all they had to do was sit back and wait for all the members of the team to pass away in the fullness of time, as nature intended, and the threat would be over forever. Then two days ago I never turned up for work. I had some important papers on me at the time. They searched high and low for me – but of course they didn’t find me for hours – and I was in a state of shock when they did. Of course I had no idea what had happened to me. First I thought I was having a nightmare, from which I’d soon wake up. When I didn’t, I actually thought that I’d gone mad. There I was driving to work in the early hours, then suddenly it was mid-morning, and everything had changed. I was still on the same road, but the turns were different. There were suddenly many more trees lining it. Brambledown was different too. There were no border guards or check point. I was becoming hysterical when I raced for Wycksford – only to find no trace of it. At this point I was in danger of becoming seriously unhinged. So I hid in the woods until dark – when suddenly I was sitting in a field just outside Wyksford. I could see my car was parked in a nearby lane. I didn’t try to comprehend what had happened to me: I just cried with relief. A returning search party found me shortly afterwards.”

“And your bosses?” Wozniak enquired. “How did they react?”

“I think you could safely say that the sky fell on them. They understood completely what had happened to me. LDD was back – and they didn’t control it.”

“Correction:” Wozniak spoke gravely. “They don’t control it. Present tense.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

If you quite enjoyed that, you’ll be thrilled to learn that the e-book is available just about everywhere (see side bar for access to a few well-known stockists) and as a book via the publisher, Lulu.com, which is accessible by clicking the Lulu logo on the side bar.

Tooty

 

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

This magnificent literary masterpiece of unequalled thinginess is available in both paperback and e-book form. Check out the side bar for a look-see.

 

 

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

This is available as a paperback and as an e-book. See sidebar for details.

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