Tag Archives: digital photography

Free Triple Threat E-Book Almost There.

Well the second draft is out of the way. The cover has been designed. Now it’s just a matter of time before all the episodes appear here; some polishing up of the manuscript is done; and the free e-book version (yes an EPUB e-book – not PDF) will be released for you to download to your heart’s content. Here is what it looks like (assuming I don’t change the design between now and then)…

P.S Okay, the images of Ginger, Daisy, and Bunty are completely out of scale with the submarine space freighter; but if they were, you wouldn’t be able to see them!

P.P.S Episodes 1 – 20 were all First Draft extracts. 20 onwards will be from the second draft. It’s not important, but I thought you should know.

P.P.P.S Ref; the cover photo. The Tankerville  Norris must be flying beside the freighter, because it’s about the right size; but the large robot freighter on the right is obviously far astern. And the space station? Well that’s just sitting there in space, miles behind them, doing nothing.

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 20)

It was the traversing of this extra-dimensional medium that cut days from the journey time of earlier vessels from Ice World to the freighter’s destination…

Returning to normal space, the craft skirted a well-charted asteroid; then proceeded in the direction of a watery blue planet. The planet, as anyone who had been aboard the K T Woo on its maiden voyage would recognise in an instant, was Wetworld. A planet almost entirely covered in water. Of course, it was to one of the few islands that dared poke their heads above the ocean swell that the freighter flew. Ginger, Daisy and Bunty were at a view screen to watch the vessel breach the surface there…

To their surprise, there was barely a bump in the ride as it passed from a gaseous medium, into a liquid medium.

“Good shocks, I guess.” Ginger said appreciatively.

She then noted a change in the ambient and ever-present noises aboard ship.

“Do I detect the sound of cavitation?” She asked no one in particular.

“Could be.” Daisy replied. “Especially if I knew what it meant.”

“It’s the noise propellers make under water, I think.” Bunty explained. “And, oh but listen: the sound is dying away.”

“The motors have settled into their new medium, I guess.” Ginger said as she dismissed the matter with a careless wave of her hand.

This proved to be the case. Consequently, a smooth passage was quickly made through the submarine canyons beneath the islands they supported…

Thereafter the freighter made good time across a region of ‘Great Lumpiness’…

…above which it sailed serenely – pausing only to wave at a local submarine going about its business in the opposite direction. Of course, the robotic crew were following a well-worn route to their ultimate destination on Wetworld. Therefore, only a short while passed before the freighter entered a submarine dock…

The act of unloading the ice cubes was a long and boring affair. Far too long and boring to relate here. Whilst it occurred, the three stowaways slept: they wanted to be fully awake for their return to space. And, indeed, this was their state of consciousness as the freighter climbed from the seabed amongst myriad bubbles created by submarine volcanic vents…

…and returned to the vacuum of space…

  “Whee,” they all cried out in sheer delight, “now we can go home.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Triple Amenaza (parte 19)

Magnuss habría continuado, pero un aumento en la luz ambiental le dijo que había llegado la mañana…

…y ya los barrenderos inmigrantes estaban trabajando duro. Fue una pena, porque no había nada que les hubiera gustado más a los hermanos que ver las próximas instantáneas de las vacaciones. Y no había nada que hubiera gustado más a Bunty, Daisy y Ginger que despegar del Mundo de Hielo, que es, por supuesto, lo que sucedió…

“Adiós”. Gritaban mientras saludaban desde la ventana unos tapones verdes para los oídos; una gran roca; y tres plugmuts árticos.

Continuaron ondeando hasta que el carguero colocó al planeta a popa de sí mismo…

Asumiendo (de una manera que solo los jóvenes pueden) que ahora regresarían al Museo de la Tecnología del Futuro con una bodega repleta de cubitos de hielo, las tres chicas se sentaron en la única cafetería del barco…

“Es una suerte que estos cargueros a veces transporten pasajeros”. Ginger dijo mientras se sentaban a esperar que llegara un menú. “Estaríamos en Kaka Creek sin un motor fuera de borda si tuviéramos que sobrevivir con raciones de robot”.

“Me pregunto si esto es una franquicia de Café Puke”. Bunty dijo esperanzada, mientras sus ojos buscaban letreros en la habitación. “No me gusta mucho su café; pero hornean unos deliciosos muffins de arándanos”.

Pero Daisy mostró su cabeza práctica: “Si somos las únicas formas de vida a bordo… bueno, creo que vamos a esperar mucho tiempo para que aparezca un camarero. Tal vez deberíamos considerar el autoservicio”.

Sin embargo, como para hacerla parecer tonta, apareció un camarero…

Por supuesto, era un camarero robot. “¿Sí?” Él dijo.

Mientras Daisy se recomponía, Rudi, Valentine, Chester y Miles se disponían a abandonar el apartamento de su hermano y su mujer…

“Ha sido un verdadero ritmo”. Valentine dijo de manera elogiosa.

“Sí, sho’nuf lo ha hecho”. Rudy estuvo de acuerdo. “Tenemos algunas cosas heroicas que hacer en un video promocional para el museo; pero cuando esté terminado, volveremos para la segunda parte”.

“Así es.” Los gemelos dijeron como uno. “Pero queremos las mismas sillas: se ajustan perfectamente a nuestros traseros”.

“Puedes apostar.” respondió Magnus.

Luego, mientras se dirigían a la puerta, Hair-Trigger dijo: “Escribiré sus nombres en ellos con un rotulador. Quizá también les consiga algunas fundas de algodón a cuadros. Todos podemos tener diferentes colores”.

Entonces, como la familia se separó en el museo; a bordo del carguero lejano…

…las chicas se habían decidido por un Crappachino cada una.

“Wow, huele eso”. exclamó Daisy. “¡Huele casi potable!”

“Gracias.” Bunty le dijo al mesero robot. “Um… no me gusta llamarte ‘mesero’: ¿tienes un nombre que pueda usar?”

El camarero robot no estaba acostumbrado a que lo trataran tan bien. En realidad, no estaba acostumbrado a que lo trataran de ninguna manera: Daisy, Bunty y Ginger fueron sus primeros clientes desde que subieron a bordo varios meses antes. Rápidamente buscó en sus bancos de memoria. parecía tener una opción de varios. Pero no quería confundir a los jóvenes tapones para los oídos, por lo que seleccionó el nombre en la parte superior de la lista.

“Hans Dudishes”. respondió.

Bunty lo miró de soslayo. “¿Hans Dudishes?” Ella preguntó incrédula. “¿Como en Hands Do Dishes – Las manos lavan los platos? Creo que estás bromeando con nosotros. No, ¿qué es realmente?

Esto sacudió al mesero robot: nunca había considerado la posibilidad de que uno de sus creadores hiciera una broma sobre su identificación verbal. Seleccionó el segundo nombre de la lista: “¿Ada Hole?” Ofreció.

Ginger arrugó la nariz.

“¿Sir Charles Forthright-Twang?” Dijo con un tono de esperanza perdida.

“Nah,” dijo Daisy dudosa. “Prueba otra cosa”.

El camarero robot decidió empezar por el final de la lista. “Mi nombre”, dijo, “es Tildatong Tong-Tong”.

Ante esto, los ojos de las tres chicas se iluminaron.

“Eso es.” Bunty gritó de alegría. “Tong-Tong. Me encanta. Tong-Tong, ¿tienes muffins de arándanos para acompañar este café?”

Por pura casualidad, Tong-Tong tenía varios bajo vidrio. Mientras iba a buscarlos, la nave entró en el hiperespacio una vez más…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

 

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 19)

Magnuss would have continued, but an increase in the ambient light told him that morning had arrived…

…and already the immigrant street cleaners were hard at work. This was a shame, because there was nothing the brothers would have liked more than to see subsequent holiday snaps. And there was nothing more that Bunty, Daisy, and Ginger would have liked more than to lift off from the Ice World, which is, of course, what happened…

“Byee.” They yelled as they waved from the window at some green earplugs; a big boulder; and three arctic plugmutts.

They continued to wave until the freighter had placed the planet well astern of itself…

Assuming (in a way that only the young can) that they would now be returning to the Museum of Future Technology with a hold jam-packed with ice cubes, the three girls sat themselves down in the vessel’s only cafeteria…

“It’s lucky that these freighters sometimes carry passengers.” Ginger said as they sat around waiting for a menu to arrive. “We’d be right up kaka creek without an outboard motor if we had to survive on robot rations.”

“I wonder if this is a Café Puke franchise.” Bunty said hopefully, as her eyes searched the room for signage. “I don’t much like their coffee; but they bake some nice blueberry muffins.”

But Daisy wore her practical head: “If we’re the only life-forms aboard…well I think we’re going to wait an awfully long time for a waiter to appear. Perhaps we should consider self-service.”

However, as though to make her appear foolish, a waiter did appear…

Of course, it was a robot waiter. “Yes?” He said.

Whilst Daisy was recomposing herself, Rudi, Valentine, Chester, and Miles were preparing to leave the apartment of their brother and his wife…

“Been a real groove.” Valentine said in a complimentary manner.

“Yeah, sho’nuf has.” Rudi agreed. “We got some hero-stuff to do in a promotional video for the museum; but when it’s done, we’ll come back for Part Two.”

“That’s right.” The twins said as one. “But we want the same chairs: they fit our bums exactly right.”

“You betcha.” Magnuss replied.

Then, as they made for the door, Hair-Trigger said, “I’ll write your names on them in felt-tip pen. Maybe I’ll run up some gingham covers for them too. We can all have different colours.”

So, as the family broke up in the museum; aboard the distant freighter…

…the girls had decided upon a Crappachino each.

“Wow, get a whiff of that.” Daisy gushed. “It smells almost drinkable!”

“Thank you.” Bunty said to the robot waiter. “Um…I don’t like to address you as ‘waiter’: do you have a name I might use?”

The robot waiter wasn’t used to being treated so nicely. Actually, it wasn’t used to being treated in any manner: Daisy, Bunty, and Ginger were its first customers since coming aboard several months earlier. It quickly searched its memory banks. It appeared to have a choice of several. But it didn’t want to confuse the young earplugs, so it selected the name at the top of the list.

“Hans Dudishes.” It replied.

Bunty gave it a sidelong look. “Hans Dudishes?” She asked disbelievingly. “As in Hands Do Dishes? I think you’re having a joke with us. No, what is it really?”

This jolted the robot waiter: it had never considered the possibility that one of its creators might make a joke of its verbal identification. It selected the second name on the list: “Ada Hole?” It offered.

Ginger screwed up her nose.

“Sir Charles Forthright-Twang?” It said with a lilt of forlorn hope.

“Nah,” Daisy said doubtfully. “Try something else.”

The robot waiter decided to start at the bottom of the list. “My name,” it said, “is Tildatong Tong-Tong.”

At this, all three girl’s eyes lit up.

“That’s it.” Bunty cried out with joy. “Tong-Tong. I love it. Tong-Tong, do you have any blueberry muffins to go with this coffee?”

By sheer chance, Tong-Tong had several under glass. Whilst it went to fetch them, the ship entered hyperspace once more…

Nature Wallpaper: Why We Should Record the Images of the Natural World Around Us

In February of 2015 I took this photo of a rookery in my street…

For the next seven years I watched (unconsciously. I might add) as the trees grew taller and wider, and the rookery expanded – to become the birthplace and nightly roost of hundreds of huge black birds. Then, a few days ago, several light trucks and a huge crane rumbled into town. Hours later the mighty rookery was reduced to this…

and this…

We’re very good at destroying natural habitat. We keep saying “Oh, this must stop.” But in the past couple of years I’ve seen so many mature trees felled – and not all of them diseased Ash – that I wonder if there isn’t some sort of conspiracy at large. For every tree planted by well-meaning people, how many established habitats are pulled down by those who couldn’t care less about the future of this planet or who just want to make a fast buck? Way too many, I fear. After all, with so much arable land in the UK being turned over to house building at an alarming rate, more land for growing crops or keeping animals has to be found somewhere, doesn’t it? There’s no profit for anyone in ancient woodland. And who gives a shit about Badgers and Willow Warblers anyway! So I think it’s best that we record what we have, while we still have it. It won’t last. Then we can hold these pictures up and say “That’s what we rid ourselves of: how has that made this a better world?”

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 18)

However, as the sound of the XL5s diminished above the Museum of Future Technology, upon the Ice-World the endless ice sheet shook to the arrival of the submarine space freighter…

Far below the surface of the ice, in the Ice-Worlder’s great city, their leader, Marnus Pongfinger was waiting impatiently for the radio announcer to stop talking inanities or about himself: stop playing jingles and trailers for up-coming radio shows later in the day; and guide the freighter in for a shipment collection…

Ginger couldn’t decide which concerned her more: the radio announcer’s self-obsession, or the horrendously low temperatures outside…

“Oh I can’t stand it.” She wailed. “That voice: that cold. It’s all too much for a young museum girl!”

Bunty couldn’t believe it. “But Ginger,” she said, “that’s Ice Station Nobby out there. It’s wonderful. I don’t understand how the thrill of seeing such a fabulous and famous artefact of earplug engineering hasn’t overcome your dislike of DJs and chilly weather. Don’t you recall what makes Ice Station Nobby so famous?”

Of course Ginger didn’t: her parents couldn’t afford the Trans-Galactic TV Network’s monthly subscription price. “No,” she said as she opened one eye, “what’s so famous about Ice Station Nobby?”

So Bunty told her: “One day, I don’t know when exactly, a great big alien saucer crashed in the ice near Ice Station Nobby. Despite conditions of the extremely inclement kind, the station commander sent out teams to investigate…

What they found astonished them: a great big alien creature frozen solid in a block of ice. But, when it thawed out it went on a rampage. Everyone in Ice Station Nobby were in mortal danger because the creature could take on the form of any living thing, so finding it proved almost impossible. Then someone had the brilliant idea of electrifying the floor – and zapped it good and proper. In its attempts to flee, it turned itself into thousands of sausage rolls and tried rolling away in a thousand different directions. But the station commander turned out his sleigh plugmutts, whose sensitive noses found them all and gobbled them up in a trice.”

“Wow,” Ginger said appreciatively as she turned to regard the exterior window, “that sounded really scary. Did any sausage rolls escape the plugmutts?”

“Of course.” Bunty replied. “But all that rolling through the snow meant that they collected a huge amount of snow on them. They turned into huge snowballs that got larger and larger until they couldn’t roll anymore.”

“Yeah,” Daisy said as she too recalled the news reports, “they were easy to find. I’ve heard they’ve still got some of them in their deep freeze. I expect they use them as training treats for young new plugmutts.”

Ginger found herself so intrigued by the tale of the shape-shifting sausage roll monster that she failed to notice the disappearance of Bunty. It was only when she and Daisy heard a tap on the window, they both realised that Bunty had taken herself outside into the vicious climate…

“Look,” they watched her mouth through the incredibly insulated glass, “I’ve found one. Fancy a sausage roll for tea?”

Of course, the sight of their friend alone on the ice gave the others the impetus necessary to get themselves out of the ship for the first time since hiding away there…

 

However, despite their determined efforts, they simply couldn’t bring themselves to stay in a nearby ice cave for more than a few minutes.

“I propose we go back inside.” Bunty said. “Do I have a second?”

Actually, their timing couldn’t have been better, because the huge avalanches of ice cubes that were being delivered into the hold of the freighter were almost complete…

The ship now had a cargo that required delivery.

By coincidence, the holiday snap show in Magnuss and Hair-Trigger’s apartment had reached another nadir point in their honeymoon adventure when they had been incarcerated in some backwater town jail by an over jealous sheriff…

…and instructed to break coal into small lumps that would fit into his private stove. Fortunately, the night shift consisted of one yokel who fell easy prey to Hair Trigger’s charms and was rendered unconscious by one of her famous sloppy kisses. Stealing the keys from his belt, they fled into the wilderness, where Hair-Trigger took this picture of Magnuss…

A passing motorcyclist stopped to help. He had chosen wisely to fit a sidecar to his bike only that morning, so before long the honeymooners were back at the spaceport and safely tucked up in the Tankerville Norris

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Tooty Nolan: 65 and Getting Stupider

Today (Friday 21/01/2022) has not been a good day. It started bright and frosty, and all I really wanted was to take a brisk walk in the perfect winter air – with a camera or five in my pocket, naturally. Then maybe wrap myself up in my best gear and take the Yamaha for a spin to the coast. But I couldn’t because I was waiting in for a man to visit and check out my hesitant water heater.  As the morning wore on, and the weather deteriorated -turning grey, miserable, and mild, I cursed the situation. Not as much as I cursed when I discovered that the Red Cab To Manhattan (by Stephen Bishop) CD that I’d bought on E-Bay was actually a vinyl LP (printed in 1980 no less), which forced me to rummage through the attic for my USB record player with which to convert the audio tracks into WAV and MP3 format so that I could burn them on to a CD – only to discover that, no matter what program I used to burn the CD, no CD player (or computer program on my laptop) could recognise or play the tracks. Clearly I’ve forgotten something very important about ripping tracks from vinyl – but I can’t remember what it is!

Nice (after years of MP3 or CDs) to handle a ‘proper’ record again.

Here’s the free program I downloaded that allowed me to copy the tracks.

Would you believe it when I told you that this was once a kitchen table, at which my family always sat for dinner? It’s now my ‘creative genius’ desk. Since losing my wife, I couldn’t stand the thought of the remaining family sitting at it together. We would always be aware of the empty fourth chair.

Whilst ruminating about my repeated failure at the laptop, my mind shifted back to the previous weekend, when I attempted to create a fabulous trifle – using inspirational ingredients that would make it the best trifle ever concocted. I won’t mention the seemingly endless list; but one of them was a frozen pineapple, mango, and orange mix (from the bottom of the freezer in true Tooty the Chef style).

Well whatever remnants of juice and water remained in the fruit after I drained it – they didn’t combine with the jelly at all when I poured it on top. Instead they formed a very nice lubricating layer beneath it, so that the entire trifle slipped and slid around the bowl like a quarterback’s brain inside his skull after having been body slammed by T J Watt…

Nice flavour, but lousy consistency.

So, returning to the problem  of the trackless CD, I tried burning MP3 tracks (that I’d bought and downloaded from the Internet – Blueprint, by Stephen Bishop {again}) onto the disc. Perfection itself. Even a cheap old portable CD player from Asda played it. But  the MP3 files from the Audacity reformat? Nada. Nothing. ‘No Disc’. it read. As did Windows Media Player. VLC recognised that twelve tracks existed on the disc, but it couldn’t decide what they were called and wouldn’t play them. AnyBurn just wanted to know what I intended to do with the ’empty’ disc.

One O’clock came and passed. The ‘Man’ was supposed to be here between 8 and 1. Better make a call, thought I. But just to make sure I had my facts right, I thought I’d check my wall calendar/ family planner first. Oops: it’s not this Friday that he’s due. It’s not even next Friday: but Friday the 4th of February. Like I said: 65 and getting stupider!

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 17)

Whilst this change of circumstances was taking place, back in the Museum of Future Technology, the slide show had moved on to another planet that the happy couple had visited on their honeymoon…

“Ah,” Magnuss cried out at the recognition of one of the trip’s lowest points, “Nonster planet.”

“Nonster planet?” Miles queried.

“Surely you mean Monster Planet?” Chester suggested.

“Strictly speaking it is named Monster Planet,” Magnuss explained, “but they have no letter N on their word processors: so they chose the next letter along. It could have been named Bonster Planet: but, unfortunately, the word ‘bonster’ is very rude: so they went in the opposite direction.”

“That’s the Loch Mess Nonster.” Hair-Trigger told them. “We were very lucky to photograph it: it hasn’t been seen for a thousand years. And even then most people thought it was a log, or a wave, or a packet of potato chips that had partially submerged and become sodden”

At this point in proceedings, another image from Nonster Planet replaced the Loch Mess photo…

 

This brought forth glazed expressions and fixed smiles. Rudi remarked upon it…

“The Colossal Two-Beaked Turkey of Zlob, right?”

Magnuss appeared slightly embarrassed. “As opposed to the Really Big Twin-Beaked Turkey of Zlob.” He said. “We didn’t know the difference.”

“One is friendly and takes you for a ride around a picturesque tar pit.” Hair-Trigger spoke quietly as she recalled their error. “The other one tears the arse out of your hiking pants and tried to chew off your buttocks.”

“That’s why we chose such comfy chairs.” Magnuss explained. “Luckily our travel insurance paid for the reconstructive surgery.”

“But our botties are still a little tender.” Hair-Trigger added.

Fortunately, the newlywed’s mental discomfort came to an abrupt halt when a snow scene appeared on screen…

“That’s us,” Hair-Trigger commentated, “arrived at the Hotel Bottox on Ice-world. You know – the Ice-world, as ruled over by Marnus Pongfinger.”

“Those dudes leavin’ don’t look none too cheerful.” Valentine observed.

Hair-Trigger returned to her use of the term “Hmmm”.

“It’s a cold world.” Magnuss explained. “As you well know – you’ve been there yourself. Very often the water in the lavatory freezes: sometimes you need an ice pick to break it. I guess those guys either didn’t know how too; or they were too late with its application.”

Sensing a degree of discomfort in the audience, the futuristic image projector quickly moved the picture on…

“Hair-Trigger,” Magnuss said, “trying on her new winter hat.”

“Lovely.” Miles opined.

“Hey,” Chester cried out, “that picture on the wall: it’s Susan!”

“That’s right.” Magnuss said with a chuckle. “Ever since she broke down with emotion at our wedding, the image of her that was broadcast on the Trans-Galactic TV Channel has become very popular. She’ll do well when the residuals start coming in – though there is a lot of pirating of her image going on too.”

Whilst Magnuss had been speaking, Hair-Trigger took the opportunity to place the art deco figurine on its base. Resuming her seat…

…she said, “Darling, we’re being haunted again.”

“Try to ignore it, Hairy.” Magnuss suggested. “They get bored if you ignore them.”

So they did, and were rewarded with a view of Magnuss and Hair-Trigger departing the Hotel Bottox…

“Funny thing – about the Hotel Bottox.” Magnuss remarked. “Whenever we tried to leave, the snow intensified into a white-out.”

“And ever since we finally trudged away, that thing at the window has been with us.” Hair-Trigger remarked.

“Gotta be the ghost of some Ice-Worlder, I guess.” Rudi suggested.

A pair of Punting-Modesty Facepuncher XL5s thundering past interrupted any further conversation that might have erupted upon the subject…

“Hey,” Valentine cheered, “gotta be a couple of my trainees. We sho’nuf got a whole bunch of XL5s now, ya know. Enough to protect the museum from any number of alien invaders. Cool.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Behind the Scenes of Triple Threat

Whilst lighting engineers, Locust Trollop, Bloater McCallister, and Gerard Anus light Stage Five, the four central characters of Triple Threat – Bunty Bridgewater, Daisy Woodnut, Tong-Tong actor Pants Dimly, and Ginger Slack visit the Tankerville Norris Bridge set…

“It’s so big.” Bunty squealed with delight as the set was revealed to her for the first time. “I really like big ones. I think, secretly, everyone does.”

Daisy was more surprised by Stage Five’s actual existence: “There was I – thinking it was all green screen work these days. It’ll be so much easier to act on a proper set. It’ll bring out the thespian in me.”

Ginger was more pragmatic: “I noticed a toilet as we came in. That’s good. Every set should have a toilet. Preferably a Ladies  and a Gents.”

“Talking of toilets – and I don’t care which – unisex is fine,” Pants Dimly was heard to groan from inside the robot suit, “I’m really dieing for a poop: can someone unlatch my escape  hatch for me? I’ve dropped the key, and it’s dark in here!”

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 16)

Whilst all this unpleasantness was occurring, Gregor entered the Red Tower and went in search of his protégés…

Already he had further plans for them. Tentative plans perhaps, but plans nonetheless. But of course, his efforts were in vain. And when EvilRoboSecGua and its silver sidekick, SilRoboSecGua informed him that there had been a jailbreak…

…Gregor feigned ignorance and offered to help search for the felons. This was the moment in which he discovered that his plan lay in ruins:

“They’ve gone.” EvilRobSecGua informed him.

“Completely.” SilRoboSecGua added.

“Gone?” Gregor snapped angrily. “Gone where?”

“Stowed away.” EvilRoboSecGua replied.

Then, for the sake of clarity, SilRoboSecGua added, “aboard a recently-repaired submarine space freighter.”

Gregor would have liked nothing more than slap himself on the forehead, but he didn’t want to raise the suspicions of the two law-keepers before him. So he waited until they’d left before looking heavenward…

“Oh Gregor, you foolish acolyte,” He spoke quietly to an empty hangar, “Mummy always said that hubris and overconfidence would be your undoing – along with ‘eat your veggies’, ‘don‘t wipe your nose on the curtain’, and ‘if you’re going to scratch your itchy anus, do it where no one can see you’.”

Then his darker side surfaced…

“I don’t have to tell Mister Zinc of my failure.” He said more loudly than perhaps he should have. “I can always hang around the college for a few more youthful and impressionable dingbats to recruit. If the worse comes to the worse, I can always carry out some sabotage myself, and make it look like youngsters did it.”

Meanwhile, the Earplug Brothers were enjoying views of their brother and his wife fell walking on a damp miserable day on some forsaken planet in the hind end of nowhere…

“Rather you than me, Bro,” Valentine spoke over the sound of incessant rainfall, “I’d sho’nuf catch trench foot, you can believe it.”

“By the way,” he added a few moments later, “your art deco figure has fallen over, and there’s some guy lookin’ in your window.

“Oh, that’s Tortus Schell.” Hair-Trigger replied. “He lives on the floor above. The figurine always falls over when he trips on his terrace raffia mat and tumbles over his railing. He’s just using our window frame to help him climb back up.”

At much the same time, Daisy, Bunty and Ginger were enjoying themselves whilst making themselves at home aboard the freighter…

Of course, (having no experience of space travel or watching science-fiction films) they had no idea that the Forward Viewscreen depicted their vessel’s traversing of hyperspace. But they did spot a sign that indicated a shortcut to the lavatory. Therefore, they were totally unaware when the ship dropped out of hyperspace…

…and set course for an icy world that hung close by in the immensity of space.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Triple Amenaza (parte 15)

Capítulo 4

Mientras tanto, el espectáculo de imágenes continuaba. Los cuatro hermanos Earplug Brothers ‘Oohed y Aahed’ en la escena que mostraba a Magnuss y Hair-Trigger una vez más vistiendo sus trajes de burbujas; desembarcando del Tankerville Norris ; y explorando un espacio abandonado…

“Jeepers”, exclamó Chester, ahora que se había recuperado del impacto del carguero que pasaba, “eso fue muy atrevido”.

Atreverse es lo que hacen Magnuss y Hair-Trigger. Su gemelo le recordó. Entonces Miles se volvió hacia Magnuss y dijo: “¿Pasó algo malo?”

A lo que Hair-Trigger respondió: “Solo siendo perseguido por los Piratas del Hiperespacio, que estaban usando el abandono para ocultar su botín”.

“¿Cómo te escapaste?” preguntó Chester.

“Oh tú sabes; la forma habitual. respondió Magnus.

Tankerville Norris vino al rescate, ¿eh?” Valentín se ofreció como voluntario.

“¿Descarga de torpedos de protones a quemarropa?” añadió Rudy.

Hair-Trigger asintió con tristeza. “Hmmm”, dijo en voz baja, “una pérdida tan trágica”.

“No pensé que te interesaran los Piratas Hiperespaciales”. Chester espetó sorprendido.

“Oh, no lo hago”. respondió la única mujer presente. “Pero la explosión resultante fue tan grande que destrozó el vehículo abandonado, con nosotros dentro”.

“Sí”, agregó Magnuss con una expresión severa, “fue realmente aterrador, y cuando regresamos al Tankerville Norris , Hair-Trigger tuvo que expulsar sus bombas espaciales de la esclusa de aire. Peor aún, solo tenía un par de repuesto en su cajón de bragas. ¡Hasta que pudiera conseguir más, nos vimos obligados a cancelar más caminatas espaciales!”.

Hablando de espacio, en ese preciso momento el carguero espacial submarino había acelerado a unos pocos kilómetros de una de las lunas de Saturno…

Por supuesto, ninguna de las chicas pudo reconocer qué luna era. De hecho, ni siquiera sabían que habían dejado la órbita de la Tierra: tenían asuntos más urgentes que requerían su atención. Cuestiones como el ‘soporte vital’. Con cierta sensatez, fueron en busca de una despensa, o de algún lugar que pudiera contener comida y bebida. Al hacerlo, encontraron tres robots que parecían tan absortos en sus deberes que no notaron la intrusión de tres formas de vida de silicio…

Inicialmente, las chicas se sintieron tentadas a retroceder antes de que los robots se percataran de ellas. Pero, a medida que el carguero se aproximaba a la luna, por alguna razón los cargueros se aproximaban a las lunas…

…La desesperación de Daisy produjo una audacia que Ginger y Bunty nunca habían imaginado que existiera dentro de su diminuta amiga rosa. Ella gritó…

…”Oi, tengo hambre y sed: ¿dónde hay algo de comida y cola?”

Podría haber sido la peor decisión de la vida de la joven orejera; después de todo, ella no sabía nada sobre robots: podrían haber sido del tipo que estaban más que felices de convertir su masa en material para el sistema de propulsión. Entonces, cuando la nave entró en el hiperespacio por primera vez…

…y comenzó su viaje propiamente dicho, esos tres miembros de la tripulación no solo los guiaron de manera segura a la Cocina de Pasajeros, sino que también les mostraron el único baño del barco…

…lo que supuso un gran alivio para Daisy, pero hizo poco por los sentidos olfativos de Bunty y Ginger.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Spend Spend Spend – An Iddy-Biddy Bit More

It’s quite possible that I might have inferred that I had spent enough hard earned cash on extras for the Yamaha. Well sorry for that – but I lied. Whilst out and about down gnarly English country lanes, it occured to me that if I were to get a puncture – not only am I incapable of pushing the 250Kg leviathan, but I wouldn’t be able to summon help because most of the time I never know where I am. One English lane looks much like another. So, after careful consideration for about three seconds, I turned the machine around in a farm entrance (apt really, coz the Yam turns like a tractor) and set off for a motorcycle accessories emporium. I required a pump, tyre repair kit, and a top box to keep them in. And whilst I was in the mood, I fetched myself a brighter jacket, so that car drivers might be less likely to ignore my presence and pull out into the road in front of me at point-blank range. The result?

Very smart, and practical too. And, oh look, it’s one of those anonymous English country lanes. How fitting.

P.S here’s a moody film noir shot of the same thing, minus me…

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 14)

Inside the ship, the three girls were in danger of losing their knickers as the violent vibrations of lift-off shook them silly…

“Bunty,” Daisy yelled above the tumult of creaking metal and roaring boosters, “I’ve figured which one of us is me – and I don’t like it. Make the noise stop: my teeth hurt!”

Outside the vessel – that is above the Museum of Future Technology – all appeared serene…

…as the craft set out for distant places.

Of course, Gregor Arsentickler (as he made his way back to his apartment)…

…had no idea that his unwitting recruits were aboard the departing freighter that roared past his edificio’s window. If he had, he would not have looked so pleased with himself. Moreover, and by the most remarkable of coincidences, the same freighter had scared the heck out of Chester as, only moments previous, it also raced by the apartment of Magnuss and Hair-Trigger…

But the inconvenience was only momentary, because before long the huge black craft was travelling across the lavender fields that grew a short distance from the museum…

And, as dawn displayed an encouragingly red sky above the mountains that led to the pea farming community that supplied the museum with each and every pea consumed therein, the ship climbed steeply…

…and fired its way towards space. This left the unwilling stowaways in some difficulty…

“Ginger, be careful. Don’t look. Avert your gaze.” Daisy cried out in alarm, “I’m wearing really tasteless knickers that my mum bought directly from the importers down on the docks!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 13)

Meanwhile, in the apartment of Magnuss and Hair-Trigger…

…a fabulously photographed video of Magnuss and Hair-Trigger leaving their rented submarine in pressure bubbles played upon the wall screen.

“Ooh,” Hair-Trigger sighed at the recollection, “that alien sea was like bath water.”

“Only less soapy.” Magnuss added. “The only bubbles around were us. Note the big furry creature near the surface. That produced a few bubbles too. But the other submarine, you can see there, was on hand to suck them all up before they fouled the water too much. It was a fantastic service: you couldn’t have asked for more. I wouldn’t have wanted the job, I can tell you.”

Whilst the four guests absorbed this information, far, far away aboard the robot freighter, the adolescent trio had discovered another interior window…

Through its rectangular aperture, they could discern robotic activity that, quite frankly puzzled them…

“What the flipping heck are they doing with those long crystal things?” Daisy inquired almost silently.

“Well,” Ginger began – ever hopeful of inspiration, “I think they might be trying to do something.”

“I had much the same thought.” Bunty said as she nodded approvingly. “You never know, this might be robotically analogous to putting the washing through the mangle.”

For a brief moment, Ginger considered the possibility that Bunty might be mocking her; but before she could fully form a coherent thought a brilliant light blazed brightly…

A triple “Aaargh!” quickly followed.

And when the lighting altered to a distinctly greenish hue…

…all three girls felt certain that something was about to happen – which, of course, it was…

…in the shape of surplus ballast, in vast quantities, being ejected from the vessel, in the form of vapour. As it burst from several vents that ran the length of the huge vessel, the End Cap engineers stood to one side and watched with evident pride in their work.

“Ooh,” they said as one, “nice. Cool steam, man.”

However, inside it was another story…

“I don’t like the look of this,” Bunty yelled as she led a dash for the hatch, “let’s get the heck outta here!”

But they were stopped in their tracks when the lighting altered so abruptly that it bamboozled their eyesight and threw them into a state of confusion…

“Bunty,” Daisy yelled, “help: I can’t tell which one of us is you: we’re all blue!”

Bunty responded by looking around her. “Um,” she replied, “yeah. I…I think I’m me: which one of you isn’t?”

Whilst confusion reigned in the girl’s hidey-hole, the robots that had been studying the long crystals proceeded to make some minute adjustments to them…

In an instant, they began to flash and sparkle as power began to course through them.

In the high-altitude repair hangar, the End Caps backed towards the stylish windows as they avoided the backwash of the freighter’s launch…

“Yeah,” they cheered in unison, “another feather in our cap. Another step towards citizenship and freedom!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 11)

As if in answer to Valentine’s question, the formerly blank screen erupted into photonic life…

“Good choice.” Said Rudi.

Meanwhile, in another part of the museum, Ginger was getting her bearings…

“Ooh,” she said, “just look out of the fancy window. We’re ever so high up. This must be the Red Tower.”

In an instant, she was joined by Daisy and Bunty. “The Red Tower?” They squealed in perfect unison.

Bunty then added, “But this is the highest building in the whole museum. The public aren’t allowed here. All sorts of things happen here. It’s top secret or something.”

She would have said more, but as the moonlight broke through one of the high windows, all three girls became aware of a great hulking shape in the shadows…

“Wha, wha, wha?” Daisy stuttered.

Ginger required clarification: “What is it?” She suggested.

“Yes,” Daisy replied as she reassembled her taut nerves into a shape that allowed her to speak, “what is it?”

“It’s a great hulking shape.” Bunty answered helpfully. “But the shadows are hiding it too well for me to make a positive identification. But it’s not breathing, so it can’t be alive.”

“It could be holding its breath.” Ginger argued.

“If it’s not alive,” Daisy said nervously, “it must be dead. Oh, by the Saint of All Earplugs – we’ve found a dead body. And if anyone finds us here, they’ll think we did it!”

Suddenly, it seemed, their situation was of the grimmest kind imaginable to three college girls. “Ooh-ur.” Ginger said intelligently.

But before she could elucidate further, a number of feeble lights lit up the scene…

A relieved Ginger swung around to address her friends: “Look, Daisy: it’s one of them big black flying things you like so much.”

Daisy couldn’t believe her eyes. “A space submarine freighter.” She said breathlessly. “And it’s here – right in front of me. If I want, I can walk up and touch it…with my bare fingers!”

But she didn’t, of course: she was too afraid of fainting from the thrill of it. So she sent Ginger and Bunty to take a closer look – to see if it really was the ‘real thing’, and not a mock-up or movie prop. However, as she received confirmation of the vessel’s authenticity, Daisy thought she heard an elevator arrive in a nearby corridor…

“Someone’s coming,” she hissed. “Quickly; hide!”

They didn’t waste a nanosecond: all three ran straight to the only door available to them…

“But this door is set into the side of the space submarine.” Ginger stated the obvious. “If we go inside there, we’ll be…we’ll be inside the space submarine!”

Daisy might have replied, “Yeah: good, innit?” But within moments of the elevator’s arrival, a number of earplugs and a group of former prisoner-of-war hyperspace pirate end cap engineers entered (what was clearly) the high-rise hangar…

“I told him,” one of the earplugs was saying to another, “it’s all well and good having this repair facility on the seventieth floor: but what if the elevator breaks down? We’ll spend half the day climbing up here, and the second half climbing back down. Nothing will get done.”

“Is ‘climbing’ the correct term to describe a means of descending.” The listener in the group replied. “Is it possible to actually climb down?”

“Mountain climbers do it all the time.” A third earplug interjected.

“Yeah,” a fourth chimed in, “anything else would be called ‘falling’. I wouldn’t want to fall down seventy floors, I can tell you!”

This was a fortuitous conversation because it gave the girls time to collect their wits and act positively…

“We’ll duck inside this maintenance hatch,” Bunty instructed the others.” Then, when all these techie-types have gone away, we can come back out again.”

“Yeah,” Daisy agreed, “and then we’ll slip away and go back to college like nothing ever happened at all. In a week this will have all blown over and been forgotten. You mark my words.”  

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 9)

But, in Gregor’s view these were small fry: mere acts of pettiness. What he needed were more Bunties, Gingers, and Daisies. However, since there were none, it would require him to act boldly. So he took himself silently from his edificio…

…and made straight for the museum jail…

Standing directly beneath the girl’s window, he whispered to them:

“Girls, it is I, Gregor Arsentickler. There has been a great miscarriage of justice this night. I have been despatched by Major Flaccid to correct this and set you free. However, the authorities haven’t been made aware of the fact yet: that will have to wait until the office opens tomorrow morning. But because he doesn’t want you to be upset over something that was unavoidable, and really wasn’t your fault at all, he’d like you out and about before sunrise.”

Neither youngster was certain that fleeing their incarceration was the wisest course of action open to them; but when Gregor produced a ‘skeleton’ key from his back pocket (that had lain unused for yonks in his bedside cabinet, just waiting for the right moment) their trepidation waned a little.  And when Gregor turned on an almost unearthly charm…

…their breath caught in their throats, and it was all they could do to stop themselves screaming shrilly at Gregor’s masculine beauty…

“Oh yes, Gregor,” Daisy said with a sigh, “Anything you say.”

So, moments after the lock had been thrown open and Gregor had hurriedly disappeared into the shadows, the teen-aged trio picked up a piece of paper that contained some directions, and stole from the jail…

…and quickly sought the anonymity of the darkened building immediately adjacent to the jail…

“Ooh, blimey,” Daisy whispered as she began to doubt their choice of action, “it aint half dark in here. I wonder what it is?”

Bunty, as was her way, had eyes only for the ceiling. “It’s very big.” She said. “The ceiling’s ever so far up: I can’t even see it.”

But Ginger’s thoughts were of a more pressing need: “I wonder if it has a toilet.” She said.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 8)

Well there was really only one thing they could do. They ran. Like arrows from a bow they ran straight across the Woven Expanse…

…and tried to hide themselves in a strange non-corporeal forest…

…in which Daisy had a remarkable thought: “Oi,” she said, “if these trees are non-corporeal, that means that on infrared we would stand out like sore thumbs.”

So they bid a hasty farewell and tried hiding in the Age of Stone exhibit…

But, had they a brain cell between them, they would have realised that the Security Suite had access to any number of sensors and CCTV cameras…

“Got ‘em.” EvilRoboSecGua reported to the angry RoboSecGua chief.

The command came in an instant: “Apprehend them by any means. And if it hurts like heck…well all the better. If there’s one thing I really detest – it’s teenage female earplugs. They make me so mad!”

Meanwhile, Bunty, Ginger and Daisy were somewhere within the bowels of the Museum of Future Technology and making exhausted progress along another interminable corridor. But, despite their labouring lungs and the agony of de-oxygenated muscles, they all found the energy to be startled when a security light caught them unawares…

And when it changed colour, they paused their headlong flight…

…just I time to recognise what the light inferred and be plunged into the semi-darkness of a Crimson Intruder Alert…

“Oh,” Bunty said into the resulting gloom.

“I can hear you, Bunty,” Ginger replied, “but I can’t see you. Have you been disembodied?”

“I wish I’d been disembowelled,” Daisy informed the others, “coz I’m scared witless – or a word very similar to that.”

As the moment of the girl’s arrest approached, Gregor departed his quarters, whilst feeling very pleased with himself. The damage that he had managed to wreak by proxy was almost beyond his wildest dreams…

But he hadn’t finished: there was more acts of sabotage to invoke. Already some ne’re-do-wells had found inspiration from the TV news reports of the ruined exhibit…

And the RoboSecGuas were suddenly run ragged…

…when a group of disenchanted catering staff devoured an entire pickled cabbage: went out on to the Obsidian Plain; and…

…ignited the resulting cageous emissions.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 7)

But in the RD&CC joy had erupted like a volcano of invisible endorphins…

“That was fun.” Cheerful Charlie Chopsticks yelled ecstatically. “Do it again.”

Other curators managed to contain their enthusiasm. “Very nice.” Winston Gloryhole said calmly. “What do you think, Cushions?”

“I’d like to see a breakdown in costs.” She replied, as though she knew what she was talking about.

“Costs?” Montagu roared. “What costs? The bloody machine is built: power comes from the Nul-Space generator, which is free. And we lay off half of the exhibit-moving workforce. You don’t need to look at costs: they’re next-to-nothing.”

Meanwhile Daisy had come to her senses. More than that, she recognised the mysterious vehicle for what it was.

“It’s the Deathwish’s armoured thing.” She cried. “We learned all about the Deathwish siblings three months ago. Let’s have a look.” 

Moments later Ginger and Bunty were hoisting their loud-mouthed chum upon their shoulders…

And soon she was safely aboard and eyeing the laser cannon…

“I wonder if this is still active?” She whispered to herself.

Whilst everyone was congratulating everyone else, Gregor couldn’t help but smile…

…as he imagined what three dippy college girls might be doing with an armoured reconnaissance vehicle. Actually he didn’t need to imagine anything: he’d set up a small camera on the Wide Blue Yonder, which was broadcasting images straight to his cell phone. He just managed a quick glance at its tiny screen in time to witness…

…Daisy’s slender forefinger caress the firing button of the laser cannon.

“Ooh,” she said to the others, “I wonder where this gun is pointed?”

Neither Ginger nor Bunty knew the answer to the question: but Gregor did. He’d aligned the vehicle with a brand new exhibit that represented a mid-western town, in the distant future, during the apearence of a singularity in the Solar System…

It was the single most expensive exhibit to arrive in the Museum of Future Technology since Eyewash Station. It was Cushions’ baby. She had already lavished huge sums on advertising, and it was proving very popular. Earplugs would venture to the museum from far and wide, over mountain passes and through inclement weather if necessary…

They would use whatever mode of transportation they could find…

It was even spoke about by hoteliers in Benidorm…

But when the laser cannon’s searing incandescent blast hit…

…and the entire facility erupted in white fire…

…all Cushions could think about was how she was going to explain it to the beings from the future, just how their tech (that had been sent into the past for safe keeping) had been destroyed so utterly. She also considered the possibility that insurance wouldn’t pay up and that her credit card was about to take another beating.

But the three girls had other thoughts in mind…

Daisy and Bunty squeezed their eyes shut and hoped that when they opened them again everything would be back as it should be. But Ginger knew otherwise.

“Oh flipping heck,” she wailed, “what are we gonna do?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 6)

His anger evaporating in an instant, Gregor raced into the ‘doorway’ of the mud hut façade…

“Yeah,” he cheered, “I knew it would work: I did the sums after all.”

Then, to the observers inside the dome, he shouted: “Stay where you are: I’m going to Phase Two.”

Moments later the room turned red once more, and Gregor felt that the eye of the Supreme Being was upon him and him alone…

And perhaps it was, because as Cushions watched in bewilderment…

…the Mark Four mud hut façade had transferred to the Wide Blue Yonder…

…and from it emerged three equally bewildered faces…

“What the flipping heck?” Bunty bellowed loudly enough to be heard in a Café Puke outlet in the arboretum. “Where did that come from?”

But, like slurry in a well-maintained cattle house drains away, all three college girl’s surprise and concern did likewise…

“That was clever.” Daisy opined.

Ginger took it a step farther: “I wonder if this had anything to do with that lovely Gregor. Might this be the opportunity he spoke of?”

They all looked around for any sight or scent of the yellow earplug…

But, as they did so, in the R, D & C-C department, Gregor was summoning another artefact from the depot…

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” he announced to those watching from behind the shield, “may I present an armoured reconnaissance vehicle: not from another era, but from another world entirely…

He then chuckled to himself. “If they think I brought that thing all the way across lightyears of space…well more fool them. But I’m not lying: it really is alien: it once belonged to two adventurous siblings…

…Dorkan and Dawlish Deathwish.”

Meanwhile, Daisy had the stupid idea that they may have missed Gregor inside the hut, so they went to re-enter…

…where they were momentarily blinded by a flash of light…

…and discovered that the hut wasn’t really a hut at all, but an armoured reconnaissance vehicle…

They were understandably startled. In the heat of the moment they all blamed each other for placing them in a situation that they could not comprehend and threatened to overwhelm their fragile psyches.

“Bum face!” Daisy shouted at Ginger, “My psyche is on the point of being overwhelmed. I can feel it: my socks have fallen down!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Gnashed Teeth: Another Digital Camera Sets Sail for Cyber Heaven

Off on one of my walking jaunts, recently, I chose three cameras at random. My best one – that being a x50 zoom Sony:  a trusty Kodak compact that I’ve had for yonks: and a very shiny Fujifilm I seldom use that I thought deserved a trip out of its box. The voyage of disaster began badly: the Kodak failed to fire up. Reason: the battery retaining clip had broken, thus breaking electrical contact. Arse – but not insurmountable. The Fuji proved more amenable. For example, it took this pleasant photo of some seed heads…

It went on to produce three more equally pleasant photos – before something made a silent click inside the works and it went doolally. Suddenly, for no obvious reason the video capture only worked on audio; and the still shots all contained interference. It had me looking somewhat like this…

Why doesn’t electronic stuff work properly after you pack it away for a while? You’d think it would be grateful for the rest!

Galactic Newsletter: The Planet Scroton Imperilled

When the Gravity Whelk reported the sighting of a dangerous-looking object that appeared to be on a collision course with Scroton, the Supreme Commander of the Scrotonic Armed Forces – Walker Crabtrouser – demanded an immediate military response…

The order went out: “Attack the Giant Space Penis!”

 

 

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 5)

Cheerful Charlie Chopsticks wanted to know how they expected to move artefacts and exhibits around more quickly than they currently could. “I mean,” he all but scoffed, “to move things around any quicker than you already do, you’d have to use matter transmission.”

As Montagu growled with annoyance at the curator’s ignorance, Cushions said: “You thick, bozo, Charlie: why do you think we’re here?”

“What?” an even more excitable Cheerful Charlie squealed. “We’re going to see things move around – before our very eyes? Oh wow!”

Meanwhile, the artificial sun was on the brink of slipping below the non-existent horizon: but the girls had made it to the co-ordinates supplied to them by Gregor…

Daisy was as happy as a plugmutt in a litter tray; but Bunty and Ginger felt less confident.

“We’re bound to be in the wrong place.” Bunty moaned in preparation for failure. “I mean, we’ve only got one cell phone between us – and the battery’s almost flat on that.”

To which Ginger added: “And it’s a cheap one from down the market: it probably doesn’t know a co-ordinate from an accordion.”

Meanwhile Wonky had explained the dangers inherent in the demonstration they were about to perform. He then made the mistake of calling it an experiment.

Cushions became alarmed at this. “Experiment?” She bellowed. “I don’t do ‘experiments’. You do the experiments: then call me when you’re ready to ‘demonstrate’ the process. If I’m not entirely safe – the show is cancelled.”

This disappointed the three androids. Their artificial hearts sank. But the sneaky Gregor snatched at the opportunity to both ingratiate himself, and save his plan from ruin at the same time.

“If I might intrude…” He said as Cushions made to leave, “but I have an idea that will keep the development of the matter-transmission technique on track and on budget, whilst giving you a damned good light show that you’ll remember for decades to come.”

He then offered to operate the device alone, whilst everyone took themselves into the complete safety of an energy dome, which would protect them all should the matter transmitter malfunction and blow him to bits.

“Well if you’re happy to risk life and limb,” Cushions responded, “I’m all for it. Let’s get it on!”

So whilst the androids and their guests made their way to the dome…

…and locked themselves out of harm’s way…

…Gregor began setting dials and fiddling with knobs upon the transmitter control panel…

And in the Nul-Space generator power control room…

…the engineers on duty – those being former female weightlifters, Catford Greene and Nennigross Numbwinkle – noticed a surge in demand for energy.

“Ooh,” Nennigross said as she flexed her biceps experimentally, “I wonder what they are cooking at the Research, Development and Cost-Cutting Department tonight?”

With the engineers and curators tucked safely away behind their shield, Gregor increased the energy flow into the matter transmitter.

“Don’t concern yourself about me,” he said sotto voce whilst casting ethereal daggers in the direction of the dome, “I’m just the unheralded and totally disposable Gregor Arsentickler: earplugs like me are a dime a dozen.”

Then he ran around to the ‘business end’ of the device and angrily awaited developments…

“Biological androids,” he scoffed, “think they’re the brains of the outfit. Have they forgotten that earplugs created them? I should be running this show; not them. By the Saint of All Earplugs, I find them detestable – just like the morons in charge who place their trust in artificial life-forms such as them, whilst holding back young geniuses, like what I am, and reducing us to sandwich-making roles and fixing coffee machines. If I had my way…”

But his almost silent tirade was cut short when…

…seemingly out of nowhere, a burst of light almost blinded him. His eyes still hadn’t recovered when everyone became aware that the room was now far from empty…

A Mark Four mud hut, intended for the exhibit Era Gamma Hooter, had arrived from the supply depot far beneath where the observers now stood, via matter-transmission.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug News 24/7: Under Neptune’s Gaze

Despite the God of the Sea, Neptune’s disapproving stare; the deafening roar of a passing space submarine freighter; and an erupting volcano on the horizon, Iceworld scientist, Uda Spritzer took her paddle board to the aid of two drowning morons who forgot to tether their houseboat properly and were attempting to swim to shore in search of a public lavatory…

She was commended for her bravery by the local coastguard, but then cuffed around both ears and poked in the eye for contravening Health and Safety rules by failing to wear a life preserver vest or a lanyard to her paddle board. In response, spinster, Ms Spritzer was reported to have said: “Sod this: next time I’ll let the bastards drown.”

THIS FABULOUS WALLPAPER IS DOWNLOADABLE.

Gnashed Teeth: A Little Respect Would Be Appreciated

Recently the relevant authority erected a sign at the entrance to the village that I call home. It designates the furthest point west of the South Downs National Park…

I don’t know why, but for some naive reason I formed the idea in my stupid head that people might treat the area with a little more reverence than they do the surrounding towns. Ten paces into the park I discovered this…

Stella Artois: stronger than average: the chosen beer of British yobs: almost certainly tossed from the passenger window of a lowered VW Golf with a loud exhaust: it wasn’t alone: I should have known better.