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Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part forty-one)

But what Folie discovered next couldn’t have come at a better time…

“How fortuitous, Kyboshed.” Folie said with relief. “I was just beginning to feel the pangs of a distended bladder.”

“Oh, no, Sir.” Kyboshed replied. “There was nothing fortuitous about it. Sensors in the floor detected your awkward gait: an algorithm calculated your need for a toilet, and quickly moved one here from another location.”

“Clever.” Folie said as he used the device. “Do other parts of the ship move around like that?”

“Most of them.” Kyboshed answered. “It’s a redundancy thing: if parts of the ship are damaged, other parts can be moved into position to replace them. It’s probably why you have such difficulty finding your way around.”

“It also explains why there are so many airlocks and corridors. I thought I’d seen the same artwork on different walls. Obviously they aren’t prints: they really are the originals: they just move around with the walls. Pity they’re so vile. Now where’s the hand-dryer?

“There will be one along momentarily.” Kyboshed replied.

And there was…

…complete with its own corridor.

“Kyboshed,” Folie said, as a huge hot-air blower blasted him, “I’m not certain I like this moving around malarkey: I like things to stay where they’re put.”

Folie was still feeling vaguely uncomfortable when he re-joined Placebo on the bridge…

He told him of his recent experiences…

“I’ll tell you what you need, Folie, my little yellow earpluggy chum.” Placebo replied cheerfully. “You need a quick blast of hyper-speed.”

Folie tried to forget his concerns with the ships’ re-design. “You could be right there, Placebo, you huge white blob of polystyrene. Let’s do it.”

Moments later, after they had seated themselves…

“It’s very smooth, isn’t it?” Folie observed.

“Yaw compensators.” Placebo explained. “They’re new…

…I read all about it in the manual. Leaves a nice pink trail apparently.”

Yet even going really, really fast didn’t sway Folie from his misgivings. “Automatic Pilot,” he said suddenly, “take us out of hyper-speed.”

A heartbeat later…

“Let’s just hang here for a while.” He added.

Then he was out of his chair. “Placebo, I want to show you Deck One.”

Placebo was slightly disappointed because he’d just noticed some vast cosmic event unfolding before the main viewer’s lens. So he checked that the dash-cam was running, and followed his crew-mate…

“Yeah,” he said, “I can see why you like the finish. Very plush. Nice lighting too. I’ve always had a thing for turquoise.”

As Folie had expected, there was no sign of the toilet. He was about say something, when the Automatic Pilot’s voice rattled his teeth.

“A vast cosmic event has sent a purple asteroid in our direction.” It said…

…”Since you’re the boss, I thought you’d like to tell me what I should do about it.”

“Flee!” Folie yelped.

“Now.” Placebo added. “Any direction except straight at the asteroid.”

The ship’s inertial dampening field was so acutely tuned that neither occupant of the ship felt it lurch aside and accelerate away…

“Wow,” the Automatic Pilot exclaimed, “I was good before; but these cable end guys have made my lateral response protocols nothing short of fantastic. Guys, any other dramatic maneouvres you’d like me to make?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 28

With so much Earplug Adventure stuff appearing here, I thought it would make a pleasant change to see some Hamster-Sapiens rudeness. To this end I have delved into this e-book…

…and pray that the resulting random excerpt pleases you beyond measure. And here it is…

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

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

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

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

Upon the bank Felicity and Roosevelt were walking paw-in-paw. They were chatting excitedly about the day’s battle, and their triumph. They also wanted to find a nice warm spot in which to perform some form of warm, cuddly, sex-act. Felicity noticed the bubbles as they burst from the surface of the water. The first few were rank and foul, and were immediately dismissed at ‘swamp water’: But the final few smelt far sweeter, and, much to their surprise contained a sound, which went, “Arrgh!”

“I’m sorry,” Roosevelt said apologetically, “is it alright with you if we pass on the vaguely-planned activity that would undoubtedly have culminated in non-reproductive sexual intercourse? Those mysterious bubbles have quite put me off.”

Felicity had to agree with her chum: Under these altered circumstances she didn’t even think that she could stretch to heavy-petting: It was a documented fact that drowning hamsters and their talking farts had a nasty habit of utterly deflating libidos.

“May The Wheel bless you, my son.” Brother Algy Tumbler would say to each an every injured lawman and militia-hamster that he treated, “And may the glorious light of The Rim shine upon your wretched bulges, and make it feel much better in the morning.”

The chubby hamster was pretty much sick and tired of this oft-repeated litany; but each time that he found the need to say the words he was simply amazed at the paucity of any real injuries, and marvelled at the Hamster Heathens’ ability to project their will by the simple administration of high-speed sods and custard pots to the vulnerable squelchy parts of their enemies. He also doubted that the forces of The Wheel would have been as magnanimous and kindly to their vanquished foes had the situation been reversed.

A short distance off Algy Timber was helping the Heathens as they reloaded the team buses. He couldn’t help but notice how incredibly similar he and Brother Algy Tumbler looked. He said as much to Joan.

“It’s like we’re twins.” He added, “I think I’ll engage him in conversation: P’raps we share the same interests. I wonder if he chews his own privates during periods of great angst?”

Joan put out a paw to stop him. “Best not, Mister Timber.” She said.

Algy wasn’t to be put-off. “But I want to.” He said with an almost petulant air, “He’s my inter-dimensional double.”

But he could take no more than a couple of steps before Rootley leapt from the roof-rack where he was strengthening the paw-holds, and grappled him to the floor. “No, Mister Timber,” the small hamster squeaked – his face contorted with dread, “Don’t go near him: There is a great danger. I can feel it.”

                                                                              

Algy pushed his assailant aside. “What do you mean?” he said as he dusted himself off, “Am I allergic to his smelling-salts, or something? Does he smell something awful?”

“I don’t know.” Rootley confessed, “I just know that it’s dangerous.”

“I think I can guess.” Joan said as she assisted her boss to tidy his dress, “It’s probably a space/time conundrum, or something. Two identical people from different dimensions probably can’t exist in the same place at the same time. I expect that they’re mutually exclusive. No doubt the result of contact between you would be utter devastation.”

“And you know this because?” Darkwood inquired as he appeared around the corner of the vehicle.

“The experiments at the Institute:” Joan replied, “They’ve intensified my brain power.” Then she added, “And I’ve been watching Rat Trek on TV too. The self-same thing happened to Mister Splatt in the episode No Coypu is an Island. It was very good. Two characters very nearly exploded; but Captain Perp managed to finagle a small piece of his anatomy between them, and stopped them from touching. It was very exciting. And more than a little moving too.”

“Indeed.” Darkwood nodded, “This small piece of his anatomy that you mentioned: It wasn’t his willy, was it? I rather think I’d have liked to have seen that!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

There, are you pleased beyond measure? I thought so.

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part thirty-eight)

Placebo had to agree with Kyboshed’s summation of the artistic merits of Anton Twerp’s work…

“Yeah,” he said, “it does make you want to chuck up.”

Folie was quite annoyed at his crewmate’s behaviour…

“I don’t know what all the fuss is about.” He complained. “It’s just a few pictures. Would you sooner have a boring sparkly gold wall and the majesty of the cosmos to look at?”

Placebo didn’t want to antagonize his chum. “Okay,” he replied, “the pictures stay. Hey, let’s see what Kyboshed isn’t looking at now.”

So they did – and found him – once again – at a window on space…

“Strictly speaking,” he said as his owners approached, “I could survive out there for quite a while. I mean, it’s not like I have to breathe. And I could convert cosmic energy to keep my systems powered. Of course I couldn’t move around, and eventually the hard radiation would penetrate my defences: but until then I think I’d quite enjoy being out there – touching the hand of God or something.”

“Don’t these ruminations exceed your programming?” Folie inquired in a tone that suggested that he wasn’t particularly pleased that a robot could have such free, unfettered, thought processes.

“I sat on a nail.” Kyboshed replied. “It was just after I’d received my initial programming. I was so surprised that I jumped up from my re-charge pad and my head collided with the Institute of Robotics Compete Guide to Programming book that someone had perched on a low shelf there some years previous. Well I had nothing better to do – other than extract the nail from between my buttock crawler plates – so I read it all, cover to cover. Having absorbed the information, when the opportunity arose, I reprogrammed myself with the entire knowledge of the Institute. I find it gives me a little latitude in the thinking process. Is that a problem?”

Folie hadn’t expected such a fulsome reply. “Well, no, I suppose not.”

“Will you still explode if someone tries to change your name?” Placebo asked.

“Oh yes,” Kyboshed replied, “that’s programming that I can’t access. It’s basic core stuff. In any case, if I were captured by Hyperspace Pirates, I’d want to explode. I’d volunteer. Horrible little things: they’re vile.”

Well, after that, there seemed to be nothing more to say, so the owners of the Gravity Whelk returned to the bridge…

“Blimey,” Folie said as they entered, “do the cable ends know what they’ve given us. Kyboshed must be a true one-off. Are we blessed? I hope so.”

Placebo decided that he liked the sight of hyperspace, so shortly after sitting down in their seats, this happened…

Kyboshed, denied a view through the side windows, joined them. But after a few minutes the Automatic Pilot interrupted their reverie:

“Hey,” it said in its bouncy, up-beat manner, “I just found an interesting star. It’s a big blue one. It’s also poking out a lot of gamma radiation. One day it’ll go nova.”

Placebo was vaguely interested. “Shouldn’t we keep our distance then?” He asked / suggested.

“It has a planet.” The Automatic Pilot replied. “An inhabited planet.”

Now Folie grew interested. “I sense an ‘and’ coming.” He said as he sat up straight in his chair.

“And…” the Automatic Pilot paused for effect, “it’s a planet known to the Museum of Future Technology.”

Well Placebo and Folie hadn’t studied at the museum and not learned a few things: they both knew the name of the lonely planet. “Take us back into regular space.” They yelled as one.

A moment later…

…the blue giant was off their port side. And a further hour had the Gravity Whelk in high orbit above a heavily irradiated planet…

Naturally Kyboshed rushed to a window. Folie was only a step behind him…

“Kyboshed,” he said, “welcome to the planet named Worstworld.”

If Kyboshed had possessed a head that could be canted to one side in an inquiring fashion, he would have used the facility. Instead he was forced to use words. Or a word: “Worstworld?”

“Go look it up.” Folie suggested. He then joined Placebo at a second window…

“Well there’s a sight I never expected to see.” He said.

“The fact that it’s still there is a relief.” Placebo replied.

“Did you turn on the dash-cam?” Folie, suddenly concerned, asked Placebo. “I want everyone to see this when we get back to Earth.”

“It’s never off.” Placebo replied. “I record everywhere we go and everything this ship does.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part thirty-seven)

Whilst horror rippled through the Museum of Future Technology like an impending belch; and consternation abounded within the Future Museum of Mars in a manner most ungratifying, a bloody long way away the Gravity Whelk was rattling across the Galaxy at a fair old lick; but nothing like as quickly as it had before the encounter with Dark Space…

Neither Folie nor Kyboshed were in a hurry to get anywhere – even Earth – so they sat at the nominal controls; allowed the Automatic Pilot to make all the decisions; and enjoyed the view of the sheer vastness of space…

Had he not been an automaton, it is likely that Kyboshed would have become philosophical or even emotional at the sight. In fact he was considering giving it a go, but…

…Placebo chose that moment to return from the lavatory in Engineering.

“Well that’s better out than in.” He said, upon entering the bridge. “But I think Engineering might be out-of-bounds for half an hour.”

Moments later he’d demoted Kyboshed to the Chief Engineer’s seat on the second row…

Unfortunately Folie’s throat felt like the Gobi desert, and he’d already made up his mind to get a cup of Cafe Blurgh when Placebo returned. “Is there anything you can do about Engineering?” He inquired of Kyboshed.

Kyboshed’s controls were set into the back of Placebo’s seat. “Exposing Engineering to the vacuum of space.” He reported.

“That should do the trick.” Placebo mumbled.

“Re-pressurising.” Kyboshed added. “All good. Nice and habitable again.”

Folie felt a little uncomfortable about what he’d just heard. “Kyboshed,” he said, “I’m feeling a little uncomfortable with what I’ve just heard. What would have happened to me, say, if I was in the loo, but you didn’t know it? Would I have been whisked off into space and thereby suffered a horrible fate?”

Placebo grew concerned himself. “Yeah,” he roared, “what If I’d leaned back heavily in my seat, and maybe a bolt had come loose, and I’d fallen over backwards and pressed the Vent Engineering button as I crashed to the deck? It doesn’t bear thinking about. I’d sooner keep the stench: disable it immediately.”

Kyboshed was still feeling vaguely chagrined, a half-minute later, as he followed Folie into the corridor…

“Don’t worry about it.” Folie said. “But look the other way now…

…I’ve hung an Anton Twerp original on the wall just here. I thought it might brighten the place up.”

Although he’d been instructed to look elsewhere, the vileness of Anton Twerp’s work forced him to turn his gaze upon it. “We have a golden door set into a bright yellow door frame – and you thought the place needed brightening up?” He grumbled.

For the next hour the ship continued to blast at speeds below the threshold where relativity comes into play… 

All the while Folie and Placebo did this and that and generally wasted their time: so eventually they decided to visit parts of the ship that still remained a mystery to them. As they did so they couldn’t believe how many corridors the cable ends had managed to squeeze into such a relatively small vessel. In one of them they discovered Kyboshed not looking at some wall art…

“Hey, Kyboshed,” Folie said as he approached, “what ails thee?”

“This art,” the robot replied, “is so emetic that it’s overloading my neural net. I think my head is going to explode!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part thirty-six)

Five minutes later Nobby stood before Frisby…

“Regard the main screen, Mister Hollister.” Frisby said in a calm voice. Too calm for Nobby: his knees began to tremble. Frisby was continuing: “I expected something of a jolt. Perhaps a bit of a slump in the surface of the land immediately beyond the location of the impact. I rather hoped that the glacier would be deflected away from this area entirely. But now, it seems, you’ve freed millions of tons of locked-up water and spilled magma over a vast area. Are you aware of any good news you might dispense?”

During the five minutes since he’d been collected from the ice sheet via Sky Cycle, Nobby had been wracking his brains for just that. It was Clifton who had unwittingly provided an ‘out’ for the beleaguered engineer:

“It seems to me,” he’d said as the air rushed past their earholes aboard the Sky Cycle as it swooped in to land, “that the liberated water is acting as a lubricant for the glacier – which is now following the line of least resistance and slipping sideways on to the plain. It appears, Nobby, that despite this ecological disaster, you’ve saved the museum from utter destruction.”

Nobby related these observations to Frisby, but omitted to mention the earplug responsible for them. The curator seemed content with this explanation, and duly dispatched Nobby to the cafeteria for a well-earned cup of cocoa and a slice of lemon drizzle cake. But less than an hour later, Frisby had pulled his terraforming machine from its garage; shoved the first member of staff he could find into the passenger seat below his; and driven it out on to the snow…

After just a few minutes into the journey he pulled up and allowed Charles de Glop out of the vehicle…

“Charles,” he said, “sorry to be an imposition: but can you confirm what my eyes are telling me. Are there really nasty, sooty geysers erupting from beneath the virgin snow?”

“Err, I think so.” Charles replied. “But this might be localised. Elsewhere the impact on the atmosphere may not be as bad as it appears right here.”

In response to this, Frisby drove to another location…

“And now, Charlie-boy?” Frisby growled menacingly.

“Best of three?” Charles suggested.

But Frisby’s mood hadn’t improved any when they arrived at a third location…

“I’ve spent years terraforming this planet.” Frisby roared above the hissing and rumbling of the volcanic geysers. “I’ve tried to make it habitable again. I’ve laboured long and hard and seen some miracles. And now that dolt of a tectonic engineer has ruined everything. Look at the sky: if this doesn’t stop soon, the air will become unbreathable. I’ll tell you this, Charles: from now on that Nobby Hollister is not being left anywhere near a calculator. As far as I’m concerned, he is being promoted to Chief Lavatory Bowl Washer. And don’t tell me that they are futuristic and self-cleaning: I’m pulling the fuses out!”

Charles sucked in some acrid air through his teeth and turned in the direction that Frisby was looking. The view wasn’t good…

“Perhaps we’d best be getting back to the museum.” He said. “I’m sure the company of the lovely Lillie will cheer you up.”

Frisby was astonished by the suggestion, but did it anyway: and Charles was proved correct…

…he did feel better with the former astronaut at his side – not that you’d know it to look at him. Together they visited one of the entrances…

“What do I do, Lillie?” He asked, his fury spent, and despondency his only friend.

“It might not help any, but maybe you should report to Cushions Smethwyke.” Lillie replied as she shivered in the icy air. “She has that Omnipresent Scanner thing that she spends her time sitting around on: maybe she’ll spot something that’ll help us. You never know…”

Frisby grabbed this like a drowning plugmutt refuses to let go of its owner and drags them under too. He almost ran to the com-panel…

The news shook Cushions so badly that she forgot to pretend that the video link was down and couldn’t be fixed for weeks – perhaps months. “Oh Frisby, my friend and colleague,” she yelled across the millions of kilometres that separated her from Frisby, “you just sit tight; do everything possible that you can think of to stay alive and well; and leave the rest to me. I’ll think of something.”

Then, shortly after signing-off, Cushions turned away from her com-panel with a look of horror on her face…

“How?” She wailed. “How am I going to back up that load of baloney? What can I possibly do to save the Future Museum of Mars and everyone in it?”

She then activated her inter-curator com-panel. “All curators to the Omnipresent Scanner.” She said calmly. “Priority One. We have a potential write-off on our hands.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Spoiled Illusions 3: Potential Noticed

Are you one of those who, upon watching a DVD check out the extras, which often include a Making Of clip. I used to; but I don’t anymore: I don’t like to see the illusion spoiled. But just in case you are, here’s a little Earplug Adventures illusion spoiler.

Sometimes Earplug Adventure props/sets appear to me in a flash of…um…let’s call it artistic inspiration. Take, for example, this sheet of melamine-coated chip board. Clearly someone has used it as a base for spraying something – and it was the over-spray that caught my attention…

“Yeah,” thought I, “I can do something with that.” So I took a picture of it. So much easier than storing the original. Well, almost five years later, I did. It appeared in A Tale of Three Museums…

…as emergency habitations for the survivors of the ruined world that featured in that tale. And there’s this too…

Sometimes, when things were quiet at work, I would use a rotary saw to slice thin sections from blocks of artistically interesting timber. Here are a couple of examples that, for some reason, I chose to photograph. I remember turning the top one into a desert scene; but I’ve never had reason to use it. The other has sat quiescent for two-or-so years – until I required a scene to depict a newly-formed rift in a landscape. Thank you, slice of wood, for supplying the surface torrent in Haunted Mars...

To put it into perspective, here it is with two characters inserted…

And then there was my daughter’s cast off light shade. That came straight out of the bin, and into my old (and still lamented) ‘studio’…

Does anyone recall what it was used for? Well, more recently, it was what the false Supreme Being turned into after it’s underpants had been blown off in The Grand Tour

And here he is, sans human appearance…

But previously it had appeared as a hot-air balloon. Here it is in Those Magnificent Earplugs

But I think it looked better in Return to the Museum of Future Technology

…complete with its Christmas bauble gondola.

For the final example, this time, regard this…

I wanted a port hole set for a story that took place aboard Ship Number 15. Remember that old bucket? Ship Number 15 was a miserable green – the only colour paint available to me at the time. So I did this to one of the office box files (don’t tell the boss. Oh, it’s okay: he retired a couple of years ago – and he probably knew anyway. He had eyes everywhere). But I digress. Here is that box file in action…

…where it played the role of the Scout Ship hangar in Worstworld. In the end the circular hole wasn’t used as a port hole, but instead played a very nice interior window…

…for Vanilla Redbush to look through, and a lovely shooting embrasure…

…which worked very well, I think…

Pity I destroyed Ship Number 15 during the Battle of The Museum of Future Technology in Liberation. How short-sighted of me.

Task Almost Complete

When I wrote my last Earplug Adventure – A Tale of Three Museums – it was against the clock. You may have read my post referring to it. If you haven’t, it’s a bit sad, but if you want to see it, click HERE. Time truly was of the essence. Well for Haunted Mars the pressure was reduced somewhat. But with Covid 19 still on the rampage (and me at a higher risk level than average), I really wanted to get it out there before I (potentially) succumbed. Well it’s done: all the episodes are complete, spell-checked and all that guff, and scheduled for release on this blog over the next few weeks. There are sixty-two episodes in all. And the megabyte-age is so vast that, once again, the story has needed excising in half – creating two volumes for the e-book version. Witness the preliminary e-covers…

 

For anyone who doesn’t want to wade through the serialised version, I intend to get the e-books out via LULU a.s.a.p. They won’t be expensive. Watch this space.

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part thirty-four)

Engineer, Clifton Wedge, who was still to recover fully from his night in a snow cave, couldn’t believe his sodding eyes: he rushed straight to the nearest maintenance door and threw it open…

“Oh, cripes,” he groaned as he surveyed the nearby ice-sheet from between the door jambs, “I know Mars is supposed to be the Red Planet: but this is ridiculous. That wally, Nobby Hollister, is going to need some help with this one.”

And out upon the ice-sheet, Gerhardt Snitzenfrudel…

…was all for accepting Budlea Budgin’s kind offer of a ride in their habitat back to the museum.

“Better be waking Jenson and Rufus, I am thinking, Tynan.”

“Yeah,” Tynan said angrily, “and those dippy pair in the shepherd’s hut too. None of us will survive out here for long otherwise. When I find out who is responsible for this…I’m gonna forget my Hippocratic Oath to do no harm and kick  ’em right up the arse.”

In the aforementioned shepherd’s hut…

…Maverick and Mulleon were enjoying the show.

“I wasn’t expecting this when I booked our flight to Mars.” Maverick stated. “But as pretty as it is, it’s going to play merry hell with my search for ancient evidence of a marine earplug population on this planet.”

“Oh, look, Maverick.” Mulleon interrupted the cork’s thoughts; “those people down there are waving to us. I think they might be evacuating. Perhaps we’d better go too.”

Maverick didn’t argue for a moment. “I hope they have room for our wicker baskets. Do you think I have time to pop into the outside loo before we go?”

Back at the Future Museum of Mars, Tangerine stole a quick look at the outside world…

“Yes, Mister Mumph,” it called back into the building, “the sky is still red – but it appears to be fading. And the museum remains frozen. Yes, there is a dreadful draft: I’ll shut the door immediately.”

The red light to which Tangerine alluded worried Frisby; so he had the nul-space generator restarted, but at the Minimum Power setting so that he could switch on some pleasant ambient lighting for his  worried customers, but without blowing the place to smithereens…

Naturally Frisby Mumph despatched the earplug responsible for the rocket attack on the sub-strata to determine the true situation at Ground Zero. So, as the lights shone dimly in the museum, Nobby was riding a Sky Cycle across the ice-sheet. With him aboard the wondrous flying machine, Clifton Wedge watched the land slip away behind them…

“Nice to see that the red glow has finally subsided, Nobby.” He observed. “It was getting on my nerves. Are we nearly there yet?”

As it transpired, the land had been savaged so badly by the exploding rocket that Nobby was forced to land some distance from his original site. From there the two engineers bravely entered the ancient magma vents and traversed them towards the impact area…

“Whoo,” Nobby said as he looked around, “we’re miles from where we should be, and already the rocks are getting hot. I think I’ve really churned up the tectonic plates: this disturbance should have been much more localised. I wish Treacle Fagging had better stressed his rocket’s destructive capability to me: I might have done more complicated calculations.”

“He did tell you that it could destroy an entire Hyperspace Pirate fleet.” Clifton reminded him.

“Such an esoteric term.” Nobby argued in turn. “How big is a Hyperspace Pirate fleet? How powerful are their defensive screens? The numbers are all so vague.”

Clifton was about to reply, when, suddenly, and with only a moment’s warning – in the form of a huge rumble that nearly had the engineers off their feet – a convulsion occurred and a massive explosion ripped the land apart…

Beneath that land, Nobby – the expert in tectonics – grew concerned…

“That didn’t feel quite right.” He said to Clifton. “And it seems a whole bunch hotter in here now too.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part thirty-two)

Well, obviously, Nobby Hollister couldn’t wait to re-board the shuttle pod back to the museum; and just as quickly he rushed into the presence of his grim-faced boss. Before he could speak, Frisby said: “The news had better be good: I’ve just received word that the glacier is speeding up.”

Nobby cast a quick glance in the direction of the main viewer that displayed the inexorable advance of the ice sheet. “You could say that.” He replied – before outlining his plan to hit the tectonic weak point with the anti-pirate missile.

Frisby didn’t know whether to be impressed or depressed: it sounded risky. But what was the alternative? With a sigh he said: “Go ahead, Mister Hollister. Prepare the weapon; launch when ready.”

Nobby, probably for the first time in his life, knew elation. As he turned and made for the exit he released a huge, “Yes!”…

…that even made the museum’s worried curator smile.

A short while later, after preparations – such as they were – were made to ready the building for the inevitable shockwave, Frisby and Lillie stood in the cargo entrance…

…and watched people as they relieved their inner torment by going out on to the snow. People like Sir Dodger Muir…

…who normally considered ice excellent when combined with vodka martinis, but not much good for anything else. But looking around at the others, who included Las Chicas De la Playas…

…he did wonder why he’d never tried skiing. Then he noticed that there seemed to be a sort of mini-exodus into the cold outside air…

…and he became rueful:  If the rocket plan failed, this ‘outside’ could soon be replicated ‘inside’. Or, worse still, the inside could cease to exist at all!

But some were determined to enjoy the spectacle as they lay upon their backs and observed the firmament above…

“I wonder what colour the vapour trail will be?” The bearded, Louis van Doore said as he squinted at the sky.

The turquoise biological android lying beside him had more prosaic thoughts in mind: ‘Did I close my botty valve correctly when I rushed out here? I don’t want to leave any evidence of my tardiness in the snow. Perhaps I should just lay here a little longer than everyone else, and let them all go before I get up. Oh it’s no fun being a biological android: why can’t I simply get a recharge overnight like proper androids?”

But all such thoughts ceased when they heard the distant rumble of the rocket as it launched from its bay…

…and inside customers crowded any window they could find…

…to watch as it climbed into a leaden sky…

Others filled the main hall…

…to watch the public screen, which displayed the rocket’s tail flame as it gained sub-orbital altitude…

Then, at apogee, the launch motors shut down and the rocket’s flight upwards ceased. For a moment it levelled off…

…before acquiring a rough approximation of its target; tilting to the perpendicular, igniting its cruise motors; and beginning a headlong plunge towards the planet…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Spoiled Illusions: 2 Tooty the Shootist

Are you one of those who, upon watching a DVD check out the extras, which often include a Making Of clip. I used to; but I don’t anymore: I don’t like to see the illusion spoiled. But just in case you are, here’s a little Earplug Adventures illusion spoiler.

Here’s a shot of Tooty the Shootist in the early days of the Earplug Adventures…

I bet Kodak never figured on their basic little Easyshare M550 ever producing pictures  that would be forever immortilized, in pixel-form, in e-books such as Evil Empire. Here’s the shot from the same location, but using different characters…

I can’t remember if this is the ‘nice’ Charles and Wolfgang checking out the Nul-Space generator’s heat exchanger, or their evil twins: but, because I’ve been living in their silicon world for so many years and adventures, for me it’s strange to see the image of me creating the characters, who seem almost real now.

Here I am again, pointing out the discarded office sound attenuators…

…that became The Woven Expanse and The Wide Blue Yonder…

Here former zombies Vic and Bob, and female weight-lifters Mandy and Candy cross the Woven Expanse in the very early tale, Museum of Terror. And the Wide Blue Yonder immediately afterwards, where they find a door into the Arboretum…

This is my fridge at work. I had a lot of home comforts at my place of work…

At my most self-indulgent I had a coffee machine (which appeared in a  few shots, a record player (ditto), tape deck (ditto), radio (errr ditto), a TV, a DVD player, and a kettle. But the item that appeared more than the rest combined was the fridge. Here’s a couple of shots…

In this shot from Earplug Aftermath, two silver androids visit the lavatory (of course). And in the following shot from Haunted Mars we see it used for the very last time…

It’s odd, looking back on this shot, which I probably took in late 2019 or early 2020, none of these ‘actors’ had names or personalities then. Now I see them differently. I like the look of acceptance on the face of rocket scientist, Treacle Fagging – second from left. Sadly, when I quit my job, I left my fridge behind for the guy who would take over from me. And a lot of other props too. I wonder what he made from them. Nothing probably.

And finally, moving from shootist to shootee…

Wonderful acting, I think you’ll agree. This is how I appeared as the Museum fo Future Technology’s A.I (in Winning Numbers) making an important announcement – probably of doom. I was very good at that…

 

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part twenty-nine)

As Folie arrived upon the bridge, his eyes caught sight of the main viewer…

But since neither Placebo nor Kyboshed said anything, he assumed that only he could see Dark Space. “Okay,” he whispered, “if I’m going to drive, I’m gonna need to see through the windshield.”

What happened next surprised Folie, and he likened Dark Space’s reaction to a telepathic hug of apology – and possibly gratitude…

Then it was on with the task of pre-flight checks. Kyboshed tried to assist, but neither living being wanted anything to do with him: it was his poor judgement and incorrect advice that had caused, what could have been, a catastrophe for the ship …and all aboard…

“If it wasn’t for the sheer good fortune that the builders of this ship included a wibbly-wobbyphone in its design, we’d be going nowhere.” Placebo growled at their Chief Engineer.

“Learn a lesson from this, Kyboshed.” Folie advised, “Scroton isn’t the be-all and end-all of engineering prowess and knowledge. They’re good; but they lack experience. Don’t blindly follow every facet of their dogma. You could get us killed.”

Cyber-shamed, Kyboshed looked away and minutely examined the wall with his monocular vision. Then the hyper-drive was activated, and before long they were traversing eternity at quite a rate of knots…

Just not as fast as they’d been travelling previously.

One aspect of the sub-looney velocity was welcome: they could see things out of the windows again…

Folie crept up on Kyboshed. “Penny for your thoughts.” He said.

“Look at that star out there.” The Robot replied. “There it sits – all alone – floating in circles through space. I wonder if it has any worlds. And if it has worlds, I wonder if they have anyone on them that are looking up right now and…ah…wondering what’s out here.”

“That’s a lot of wondering…for a robot.” Folie said with a smile. “By the way…you’re forgiven. Come back to the bridge: you can take the driver’s seat for a while.”

Naturally Kyboshed was thrilled – in a robotic kind of way of course…

“Yeah?” He said excitedly.

“Yeah.” Folie replied. “Only don’t anywhere near the big ‘Go’ button again. From now on we only use that in emergencies.”

Shortly after being relieved, Placebo made straight for the nearest window and activated the pseudo-blind…

“Oh,” his disappointed crewmate said, “I was enjoying the view.”

“Sorry,” Placebo replied as he proceeded to the next window and repeated the act…

…”but that last incident has left me emotionally fragile. Right now I’d sooner forget that all there is between us and all that out there is a thin metallic hull and some fancy double-glazing. So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to pretend that we’re in a nice cozy cellar somewhere beneath the Museum of Future Technology.”

Reminded of that great edifice, Folie took that moment to recall the day that they were handed the gift of a ride aboard the Chi-Z-Sox…

…and tried to imagine how his life might have been if he’d declined the offer. Those thoughts continued to revolve inside his head – even when he and Placebo relieved Kyboshed for his regular duty in the Chief Engineer’s seat…

“This is fun – isn’t it?” He asked Placebo.

Placebo must have been harbouring similar thoughts: “It is when it isn’t scary.” He replied. “And I do believe it might even be more fun than discovering the delights of the Museum of Future Technology.”

“Talking of which,” Folie said as he nodded agreement, “shouldn’t we report back to Earth: we could show them the Gravity Whelk. Maybe take Cushions Smethwyke for a ride.”

Placebo was all for it. “Hey,” he added, “knowing the recent history of the Museum of Future Technology, they’re probably in a bind again, and our timely arrival will tip the balance in their favour. Let’s go.”

So they did…

And unbeknownst to the Automatic Pilot, Placebo, or Kyboshed, Dark Space added a little pep to the hyper-drive…

And, as the improved and enhanced Gravity Whelk swept across the cosmos…

…the Automatic Pilot yelled: “Hey, Guys: how’d ya like this? Excellent or what!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 27

Once upon a time I knew which book was supposed to supply the next excerpt, but somewhere between R.i.t.R 1 and now I’ve managed to become completely flummoxed. My default position is to jump straight to this book…

…partly because it’s the best book in the world, and partly because it’s the best book that has ever been written by anyone, anywhere, at any time. So today I’m going eschew my fall-back position and go for this book…

…which isn’t any of those things I said about The Psychic Historian, but is entertaining, and without the prior existence of which the best book in the world would not have been written. And here is the random excerpt. Hope it’s good…

Although the elevator was slow, the anti-mould snail had kept it pristine. Consequently both hamsters felt not the slightest discomfort as it ascended at a moribund crawl. And when, eventually, the door slid open on reasonably well-oiled sliders, Tonks had managed to shed much of the muck and filth of the lower floors, and was able to lead Colin on to the ground floor with a certain amount of pride.

The first thing she did was prick up her furry ears, and listen intently. Satisfied by the silence she then took her sidearm in her good paw, and made off for the Sentinel Robot bay. As she did so she couldn’t help but notice that the CCTV camera panned around to follow her progress.

“I didn’t know that your security system worked.” She said to Colin.

“It works fine.” He replied. “It’s just that Boney can’t be arsed to use it. He prefers the Sentinel Robots.”

Tonks asked the obvious next question. “So why is he using it now?”

Colin had no idea, so he decided to be creative. “Perhaps he’s trying to look down the front of your uniform.” He suggested. Then as supportive evidence for this theory he added, “Your breasts do jiggle pleasantly. Not that I’m an expert or anything. I never was much of a letch. Or a letch of any kind, come to think about it.”

But Tonks wasn’t listening: Another shudder was in the process of passing through the building, and the lights dimmed momentarily.

Meanwhile, in the Security Office, the monitors were being shaken dramatically. Not because of the apparent earthquake that was in the process of giving Fanangy’s epiglottis a hernia due to excessive nervous gulping: But because the cameras that fed them had gone out of focus.

“Damnation from the Great Angler Herself.” Boney cursed as he thumped the ageing cathode ray tubes with frustration, “I could’a sworn I caught a glimpse of a nipple just then!”

“Probably a shadow.” Lionel attempted to quell his employer’s enthusiasm for the sergeant’s mammary glands, “Army regulation vests would never allow loose titties in a potential combat situation. They could block the view of a rifle sight. ”

Boney was forced to accede to Lionel’s almost-pure logic. “Yeah, I s’pose you’re right.” He grumbled.

Then the screens settled, and a clear view of the corridor returned. But of Tonks and Colin there was no sign.

“Try the Sentinel Robot bay.” Fanangy croaked, “It’s the next door along.”

Naturally Fanangy’s suggestion was the correct course of action. This was because of two quite disparate reasons – at least in Lionel’s eyes. The first was that she was utterly gorgeous, and therefore incapable of being in error upon any subject, whether corporeal or esoteric: And secondly because Tonks and Colin now found themselves staring with bewilderment at a Sentinel Robot bay completely bereft of Sentinel Robots. Instead, at the cavernous room’s centre, a device that simply defied description seemed to crouch like a defecating toad.

“It looks like an oddly mottled huge steel box with flashing lights all around it.” Tonks exclaimed breathlessly.

“And a vast array of cables reaching from it, and disappearing into all four walls, the ceiling, and the floor, in a manner most redolent of things most creepy and crawly.”  Colin added.

“What do you think it is?” Tonks inquired.

“Beats the shit out of me.” Colin replied helpfully.

Tonks asked another question. “Was it there when we departed for the Artefact Room?”

This time Colin’s response was a little more forthcoming with information. “No.” He said.

“And imagine the remarkable engineering skills required to have constructed this stupendous device in such a short time.” Tonks said admiringly.

Any further utterances were silenced before they could be properly composed. Once more the building shook, and a loud hum of harnessed energy filled the air.

“Yikes.” Tonks managed before a loud booming voice spoke…

“Who dares speak in the presence of The Overmind?”

Colin was quick to respond. “Oh, that’d be us. Sorry. Didn’t mean to offend or anything. The name’s Colin by the way. I’m an android.” He then indicated Tonks, who appeared to have entered the trance-like fugue that hamsters in general, and startled females in particular, enter at times of extreme stress. “Oh, and this, apparently inanimate, life-form is Sergeant Tonks. I don’t know if she has a first name; but she’s a hamster. I don’t know the Latin for her species: hamstery-hamsteritious, or something, I expect.”

“Cease this infernal noise!” The voice of the Overmind boomed.

Despite owning the best pair of electronic ears on the planet, Colin couldn’t be sure precisely where the sound was emanating from. He suspected that it might be the large device in the centre of the room. “Sorry.” He said quietly.

“Bring me your mobility.” The Overmind demanded.

Colin’s aim was to please at every opportunity: But this demand required too much of him. “You what?” He enquired eloquently.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2012

P.S I wonder if I’ll ever write another Hamster-Sapiens book. Do I still have the ability? Oh, I don’t know; there are so many books I’d like to write, but I simply can’t be arsed.

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part twenty-five)

But that wasn’t the end of it. In the foyer, El Custardo had offered to perform an impromptu concert by himself and Los Natillas…

Unfortunately when a request was put through to William of Porridge for their instrument cases…

…he was delighted to report that all the guitar strings had frozen so quickly that they had ‘gone twang’. Worse still, he tittered to himself as he called back, the trumpet mouthpieces were of an inferior material and had duly shattered. He hated mariachi bands with a vengeance, ever since a group visited his school concert hall and interrupted his crab football game. So he could barely keep the joy from his voice when he summed up the situation with: “So there’ll be no bleeding racket keeping everyone awake tonight!”

Even more unfortunately – at least for Lillie – was the fact that Tangerine chose her to pass on the bad news to Frisby…

…who was so enraged that a large gaseous anomaly (that he’d been saving up in his intestine for an emergency) erupted like cannon fire and exploded spontaneously…

Fortunately Lillie’s lightning reactions saved her eyebrows from being singed, and all she suffered was some minor melting to the elastic in the back of her space knickers.

Even more fortunately, one of the museum visitors was a maintenance engineer in a really old-fashioned factory where everything was worn out and obsolete and the short-sighted management didn’t believe that investing in the future was at all logical. Consequently he was able to put his work-day skills to good use by repairing an ancient oil-fired furnace that had been left-over from an era when oil was plentiful on Mars, and nobody gave a monkies about the environment…

“There, ya go.” He shouted above the applause. “There’s a whacking great reserve of crude oil in a cavern beneath the museum too. It’s matured nicely and it’s very volatile; so it should keep the main hall warm. If we all stay here we might survive long enough for a rescue mission from Earth to arrive before it’s too late.”

In an adjoining room, Bo Smidgin found one of the museum engineers – Comely Wasselstoop – staring out of a viewport at the weather…

“I chose a bad time to visit Mars.” He said conversationally.

Comely didn’t bother turning around. “There isn’t a good time to visit Mars.” She replied in a flat voice that seemed to have admitted defeat. “The planet is haunted. Haunted by its past. The mistakes of those silly Muffins, eons ago, continue to punish the world, and will continue to for the foreseeable future – until someone can think up a fantastic way of putting things right. I don’t see that happening in my life time.”

The engineer’s reaction had surprised Bo. Leaving Comely to her acceptance of doom, he turned away from the window…

But as Comely moved off in the direction of the ‘Ladies’ loo she had no idea that her words had given Bo reason to pause and think…

“What am I doing here?” He asked himself. “How can the acquisition of wealth be an end in itself?  Surely my miserable life could be better spent than living off the misfortune of others. They thought I was a turd on Scroton: maybe I was. But now, for the first time, my eyes are open. This planet needs a miracle. Or another one, if I’m being pedantic. One that will actually work this time. I just have to figure out in what form that miracle will present itself. When it does, I plan to recognise it: and after I’ve recognised it, I’ll utilise it – for the benefit of the whole world – such as it is!”

And then he went out into the foul weather – just to make sure he really meant what he’d just said…

“Yes,” he concluded, after his knees began knocking together and his false teeth fell into his hands, “definitely. I just have to recognise the means to salvation. Then everything will be wonderful. I wonder what it’ll look like. And what colour will it be? I hope it’s yellow!”

Taking time dilation into account – at approximately the same moment that Bo Smidgin made his gummy statement – far across the Galaxy…

…the Gravity Whelk was rollicking along at a most ridiculous velocity. In fact Folie had been a little concerned at the pace, and wondered if they might be doing something adverse to the balance of space/time or some-such. He couldn’t help but worry that someone or something might take offense. He’d brought up the subject with the Automatic Pilot, but these speeds were so far beyond its programming and experience that it shook it’s non-existent shoulders and said: “Danged if I know.” But when Kyboshed had been presented with the same concerns, he said: “This ship has been upgraded on Scroton: do you really think we’d screw up something as important as that? No – keep that throttle open, Folie: let’s cover some ground.”

Then this happened…

“Oops,” said Placebo nervously, “this doesn’t feel quite right.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part twenty-four)

Whilst Folie and Placebo were twisting space/time into a virtual pretzel, Griselda Splint – her room now the temperature of a wine cooler – had decided to brave the cold outside…

Inside, at the communications panel, Frisby Mumph had concluded his emergency call to Cushions Smethwyke in the Museum of Future Technology…

It hadn’t gone well. His request for immediate evacuation was refused. Cushions had informed him that both Mars Shuttles were out of commission: apparently a cheap banjo bolt had failed in both ship’s Cafe Puke coffee dispensers, and the resulting leak had seeped into their main drive conduit coupling doo-dads, which meant they couldn’t fly until some parts arrived from somewhere very far away. When Frisby suggested she contact the K T Woo or the Chi-Z-Sox, it was met with incredulity. Didn’t he realise that both star ships were involved in an End Cap civil war – in which blue end caps were trying to overthrow the numerically superior, but essentially thick, orange end caps?

“I don’t get out much.” Frisby had replied. He then added: “And I suppose the Earplug Brothers are gallivanting around in an alternative dimension or something equally inaccessible?”

To which Cushions had said: “Yes: how did you guess?”

Meanwhile, outside in the bitter cold, Griselda’s husband, Tobias…

…concluded that he didn’t want either himself or his wife becoming a statistic, so elected to return inside.

“Come, Griselda; that’s enough excitement for today.” He said. “Probably enough for a lifetime too. You know how I hate getting chilblains on my buttocks.”

And, standing upon the threshold of the ice sheet, but still within the environs of the ancient citadel, Maverick had decided that throwing caution to the wind was an anathema to him. As much as he tried – and despite his brave words – he simply couldn’t bring himself to attempt a crossing of the frozen wasteland…

So he and Mulleon agreed to go in separate directions and look for somewhere nearby to shelter. But it had been a ruse upon Maverick’s part. What he really wanted was to be alone so that he could have a damned good piddle. So, now that Mulleon was out of sight, he did just that. And it was huge!

But it did leave him feeling guilty, so he wandered up and down again – in the vague hope of spotting somewhere out of the weather…

For several minutes his search proved fruitless; but then a gap appeared in the squall, and he thought he might have seen something…

And he was right: it was an emergency habitat…

He also noticed that Mulleon was half-way to it…

“Rufus,” Mulleon exclaimed as his plugmutt sidled up beside him, “what are you doing here? I thought you’d run off for good. Get hungry, did you?”

Rufus didn’t want to incriminate himself, so remained mute: but his body language said it all. The growl from his stomach merely underlined his unspoken words.

“Let’s see if those guys in that habitat have anything for you.” Mulleon suggested. “And me too. And a shower; a snug cot; and some light reading material beside the aforementioned snug cot.”

But as they came closer to the habitat, a voice that sounded suspiciously like Gerhardt Snitzenfrudel’s…

…shouted: “Room at the inn there is not being. Four pods there are, and four of us are in them.”

This information was supplemented by Jenson Prong: “So just sod off somewhere else. If you don’t, I’m going to come out there and hit you with my emergency rolling pin – right ’round the earhole.”

Mulleon realised that he wasn’t likely to be invited inside, so quickly turned and departed. But he paused when Tynan Ware’s voice called: “That’s a nice plugmutt. I’ve always wanted a plugmutt. Tell you what – I’ll take it off your hands, so’s then you won’t have to worry about feeding it and the expensive vets bills and all that. It can sleep at the end of my cosy cot. I’ll keep it warm with some scrunched-up light reading material.”

This was an offer that Mulleon couldn’t turn down. So he backtracked to the habitat; said his goodbyes to his pet…

…and got the heck out of there. By the time he returned to Maverick, the cork had spotted yet another possible safe haven…

“My,” a breathless Mulleon wheezed, “what are the chances of that?

…An incredibly rare prehistoric Shepherd’s cottage – complete with an oil-fired lantern glowing invitingly in the window!”

Meanwhile, out on the windswept plain, the Future Museum of Mars was now entirely iced-in…

It was panic-stations inside as the generator’s core glowed deep red…

In the control room, weary engineers, their eyes darkened by lack of sleep, feared the worse…

“It’s the cooling system.” The superior yellow engineer bellowed above the din of the warning siren. “The pipes are, like totally, frozen. We’ll have to shut it down before it explodes in an exaltation of fire and gore!”

Frisby Mumph received this information with a sagging heart…

He thought of poor William of Porridge in the luggage bays…

When the power failed, so would the force fields that kept the weather out of his work area. He quickly called Sir Dodger…

…who, equally quickly put a call out to William on the public address system.

“William, old chap,” he said, “I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. No time to explain. Brace yourself.”

A split second later the force field collapsed, and the temperature dropped so quickly that everything turned to ice…

“Whoo,” William yelled, “am I glad I decided to put on my surplus Antarctic Expedition underwear this morning: both sets – despite the uncomfortable gussets: otherwise I’d be a walking icicle right now!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Silence Returns

What with the global pandemic and everything that has followed, I felt that, during this difficult period, I should refrain from promoting my two ‘Silent’ books – they are (after all) set in a post-global pandemic world – though (hopefully) far worse than the real thing. But then, months on, I thought: ‘But they’re a good yarn: why not let  people read what they bloody well want to?’ So here I am, presenting an excerpt from this book – the second of the literary duo…

As the cover suggests this book isn’t my usual comedic fare: just the opposite – with death and destruction possible at any moment. Anyway, here’s a random extract…

No one had come running at the sound of the shotgun blast. I for one was most grateful that we were all inside the compound; the door had been reattached; and for a while we had a degree of seclusion. But not for long: “Whomever set that booby trap might still be here.” Karen warned.

“I’d say it’s odds-on.” Colin agreed – recovered now that Wayne’s body lay hidden beneath a bus company tarpaulin.

“I certainly hope he is.” Shane spoke menacingly as she fingered the trigger of her shotgun.

“Me too.” Kylie said as she withdrew her pistol from its holster. But when she released the empty clip into her free hand she added, “That’s if I had any ammo left of course.”

“Likewise.” Karen and Colin said in unison; then giggled nervously at the coincidence.

Dexter meanwhile was worrying the escape door at the rear of a double decker bus.

“I guess we’ll have to take his.” He said as he nodded in the direction of the depot office building.

“His?” I queried.

“The bloke who set the booby trap.” Dexter explained. “That’s if he’s got any. Those might have been his last two shells.”

“Why do you refer to him as ‘him’?” Karen asked.

“Yeah.” Shane sided with her leader. “Could’a been a woman. Well a girl anyway.”

“A woman wouldn’t do such a thing.” Kylie said – rather naively I thought.

“What makes you so sure that ‘he’ is still here?” I asked the youngest boy in our group.

Dexter had the bus door open and was in the process of climbing aboard. Again he nodded towards the office building.

“Saw some movement in an upstairs window, didn’t I.” He replied.

‘So we’re not alone.’

“Tasman?” I asked.

Tasman looked across at the building. “As much as I admire the concept of vengeance,” he said, “I really don’t think we have the time or manpower. And like Shane said – we can’t go wasting any more lives. Irritating as it is, Wayne’s murderer will have to go free.”

‘If you call this place freedom.’ 

“Agreed.” I said in a tone that I hoped suggested finality, “He’ll face his accusers in a higher court than ours.”

Tasman cocked his head upon one side at this. I recognised it as a look of puzzlement.

“When he faces his maker.” I explained. “God.”

Tasman appeared to accept this. But clearly Colin, Shane, Karen, and Kylie were not about to be easily dissuaded. I could understand this. I didn’t know how long they’d been together, but they’d been through a lot with Wayne. They were almost family. They were certainly the only family any of them had left. Now their big brother lay dead beneath bus company property. Tasman and I wanted to continue with the task at hand: The others had other ideas.

It was Dexter who chose our path.

“No keys.” He shouted from inside the vehicle. “Probably hangin’ on a hook in the office.”

‘Damn!’

“Can someone check the other buses?” I suggested; but I knew my hope was forlorn.

As the only two present with decent weapons, it fell to Tasman and I retrieve the keys.

“Couldn’t we hot-wire it or something?” I whispered to my friend as we crouched en route to a parked car that stood half way between the bus and the office building.

The concrete ran with water as the incessant drizzle didn’t let up for a moment. As we closed upon the abandoned three-door hatch-back, Tasman answered.

“Could you?” He said.

‘No. And if I can’t, then by extension neither can anyone else. Great!’

We’d left our haversacks with the others, but not before donning our hand guns, and removing the hidden suppressors, and fitting them to our Heckler & Koch MP7s.

“If we’re going to have a shoot-out,” Tasman had explained, “at least our side won’t be making any noise.”

‘Hard to explain away the sound of two military weapons in a civilian town.’

As we settled behind the cover of the car, Tasman ran an attentive eye along the length of the building that faced us. The lower floor consisted of mostly solid brick wall, broken only by a door and a large observation window. The upper floor had smaller windows set into it at regular intervals along its length beneath a flat felt roof. A shot could ring out from any number of them, and we’d never be able to guess which one until it was too late.

“This is ridiculous.” I grumbled into Tasman’s shoulder.

“It is, isn’t it?” He chuckled. “Here we are – trying to save the world, and all we’re doing is fighting one of our own kind. Well your kind.”

“That’s good old Earth humans for you.” I replied as I patted him on the other shoulder. “Always ready to put a spanner in the works. So what’s the plan?”

Tasman didn’t answer immediately. Instead he verbalised his thoughts for my benefit.

“Since our enemy booby-trapped the pedestrian entrance,” He spoke softly, “logic would dictate that he would likely repeat the act with the office door. Any other door for that matter, including the back one – assuming there is one.”

I nodded agreement.

Tasman was continuing:

“Access to the upper windows are unobtainable without ladders; therefore they’re probably unprotected by semi-automatic devices like the booby trapped entrance.”

“Fine,” I said, “but we have no ladders.”

“We don’t need ladders.” He replied. “In fact we don’t need the windows either.”

He then held out his MP7 so that we could both see it. “We are going to behave as though we really know how to use these.”

I didn’t understand, and said as much.

“How would U.S Navy S.E.A.Ls get in without taking fire?” He asked.

It was a metaphorical question, but I answered it anyway.

“Down ropes – out of helicopters. Big problem: No ropes. No helicopters.”

“Doesn’t matter.” He said as nodded to a part of the building just beyond the huge observation window, “We have a drain pipe.”

I felt a nervous, girlish giggle coming on. The situation was becoming intolerably silly.

“Don’t be daft.” I said. “We’d have to get past the window – and if it’s booby trapped…”

I left it hanging there.

“What’s that white plastic thing mounted on the wall above the door?” Tasman asked in what appeared to be a complete change of subject.

I peered through the drizzle. “Um, I think it’s one of those motion detector things.”

“It detects motion.” He said. “How interesting. Why is it here?”

“It’s an anti-burglar device. When someone gets detected, a big light comes on, and everyone can see them – usually on CCTV.”

“So where is the light?” He asked.

I looked around. Several lights sat atop tall metal poles around the perimeter wall, but none appeared to point in the direction of the office. Then I noticed an unused wall bracket above the large window.

“It’s been taken down.” I said.

Tasman nodded knowingly. “How quickly do they react?”

I thought back to the security lights that Father had installed in our country home. He’d mounted several in strategic positions around the grounds, and all of them had been fabulous at illuminating various forms of wild-life as they found their way into the garden and out-buildings. I recalled that many were the times that my sister and I had watched in breathless wonder as badgers, foxes, deer, and suchlike took advantage of the food that we had laid out for them.

 “A couple of seconds.” I answered, “That’s assuming that these are anything like the ones my father had fitted at home.”

“Slow.” He observed.

He then indicated the cast-iron drainpipe that he’d referred to earlier. It climbed the full extent of the two storey building, and was attached to an equally sturdy gutter at roof level.

“That is our destination.” He said.

He then turned to wave in the direction of the bus. Dexter’s hand appeared fleetingly at one of the upper windows. Moments later the plastic ‘glass’ was pushed from its rubber recess, and fell with a clatter to the concrete below. Then Shane’s single barrel appeared over the lip of the window frame. But it wasn’t the small girl who held it: It was Karen.

“Covering fire.” He explained. “Doesn’t hit much, but confuses the hell out of the enemy. Now when I say ‘run’ we run towards the drainpipe together. Don’t pull ahead of me, and whatever you do don’t lag behind me. We must be one. Understand?”

‘No – not really.’

“Yes.” I replied. “Together as one: got it.”

“Right then, my beautiful Earth female,” Tasman said, “run!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

P.S I really should write a third book. Everyone likes a trilogy, don’t they?

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part twenty-three)

If Maverick and Mulleon thought they had a long journey ahead of them, they might have adjusted their perspective somewhat if they’d known the duration of the anticipated journey that Folie and Placebo faced. Even now preparations were being made. All hatches, metaphorical and actual, were being latched. Kyboshed was making final checks throughout the original corridors that the cable end engineers had deemed unnecessary to alter or beautify…

 

And, following the guidance of the Automatic Pilot, Placebo was doing the same…

Folie was supposed to be conducting a pre-flight check of the limited controls on the bridge; but he was nervous about entering the compartment alone. He stood at the door, watching his hesitant reflection in its mirrored surface…

“It’s like going shopping in a Spanish supermarket, without your Mum.” He told his reflection. “A bit intimidating. Oh dear, will I really remember which control does what? I’m not even a cadet: I was, after all, sent into space with absolutely no training whatsoever!”

But then Placebo arrived; pushed him right through the engineering section; and finally through the arched door that led to the bridge…

“There was no need for that.” Folie complained. “I was just about to go.”

He was still feeling rather cross when the two of them seated themselves before the main viewer…

“Systems check.” He snapped.

“Already done.” The Automatic Pilot’s voice boomed from the overhead speakers. “I couldn’t wait until the wheel of time ground to a halt.”

This made Folie feel foolish; so instead of being annoyed he decided to become nervous – as did his chum…

“Ooh-err,” Placebo said eloquently, “this is it.”

“Yup.” Folie replied. “The first time that we get to fly the ship.  The first time that we aren’t mere passengers. Are you ready?”

“Nope.”

“Nor me. Shall we proceed?”

“Yup.”

But before either of them could do anything, the ship went to Crimson Alert…

Placebo was out of his seat like a startled plugmutt at the turn of the year. “What is it?” He yelled above the sound of the klaxon.

A sickly-looking Folie quickly scrutinised his read-outs. “I don’t know!” He yelled back.

From one of the many corridors that Folie and Placebo had difficulty telling apart, Kyboshed contacted the bridge…

“It’s the Autopilot having its little joke. It thinks it’s teaching you a lesson.” He told the boys. “Now sit back down and press the ‘Go’ button.”

He then counted the seconds until this happened…

The result made Folie and Placebo feel very pleased with themselves…

“Cor – look at us go!” Folie exclaimed.

Placebo’s reaction was much the same: “Cripes – we’re nearly out of Weird Space already!”

But they quickly calmed themselves. They took several deep breaths before sitting back…

…to enjoy the view ahead…

But as the ship exited Weird Space, and the way ahead was unobscured by strange stellar formations and clouds of brightly-coloured cosmic…ah…cloud material…

…Folie did what Nigel – the Golden One – warned him against: He floored the throttle…

…which thrilled the two pilots more than anything they had ever experienced before in their short lives…

“Wheeee!” They cried as one. “Now we’re really motoring!”

And they bloody well were too!

It was like reducing the Galaxy to the size of someone’s back garden. A small one, with a Quince tree in the middle of the lawn. Whoosh!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part twenty-two)

At was about at this point in time that Tynan, his ward – Gerhardt, and the two prospectors noticed something ahead of them…

“We’re saved!” Tynan exclaimed – rather prematurely, or so thought Jenson. “Regardez vous, por favor.” The doctor added – which pretty much convinced Jenson that the pink earplug was suffering from oxygen deprivation: clearly no one, in their right mind at least, would travel to Mars and then mix French and Spanish together in one brief sentence. But Tynan did have a point, because when Jenson did as he was bid, he noticed that a four-person habitat had appeared…

…and he felt shame at misjudging Tynan so badly.

“I’ll let him have the best bunk.” He said quietly to himself. “Or the pod nearest the communal lavatory.”

Then it was a mad dash towards the sole entry point…

So whilst Tynan struggled with the iced-up door lock, Jenson turned to see that Doubry, in his haste, had allowed the sick and ailing Gerhardt to fall behind…

“Rotten stinker.” He roared at his colleague, which confused the heck out of Doubry because he didn’t have a clue what he’d done wrong.

“Come on, Gerhardt, my short-arsed little chum.” Jenson called out. “Nearly there. These emergency habitats are always fitted with hair driers: so don’t worry, we’ll have your artificial cranium warmed up in next to no time, and your huge brain will work perfectly again.”

By coincidence, just as one group were discovering sanctuary, from a recently installed escape hatch above the sunken city of the Muffins…

…emerged a certain cork and yellow earplug…

“I don’t know how anyone can work in these Snack Stack kiosks.” Mulleon complained. “There’s almost no headroom.”

He then added: “Right, okay, we’re outside – which is probably not the smartest place to be right now: what are gonna do?”

Maverick didn’t reply: he merely wandered a few steps forwards. Intrigued, Mulleon joined him…

“Hmm,” he hummed, “I can see what you’re a little dumbstruck: that is kind of awesome.”

“It reminds me of a glacier.” Maverick informed the earplug who seemed to be enjoying the view as much as he was…

“Is it moving?” Mulleon asked.

Maverick shrugged his shoulders…

…”I don’t know: the enormity of this is overwhelming me. I can’t trust my own judgement. I’m feeling awfully insignificant.”

It then dawned upon Mulleon that, perhaps, the situation was beyond their ability to rectify. “I see what you mean.” He said in a voice grown suddenly small. “From now on I think I’ll go by the name of Bacteria.”

Maverick nodded agreement. “You and me both.” He said. “Bacterium.” But then he pulled himself together;

…shook off any self-doubt and fear; and said: “Right, if we’re going to make it back to the Future Museum of Mars, I suggest we start now. Come, Mister Cleets: arse into gear: quick march. It’s over thattaway.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part twenty-one)

Well, as you can imagine, it wasn’t a mirage at all: Doubry Furkins and Jenson Prong really were daft enough to think that the worst of the winter was over.  Convinced that the Muffins were hiding something beneath their citadel, they were out making preliminary measurements of the area…

Well Doubry was: Jenson didn’t believe it for a moment, and he doubted Doubry did as well. But he knew his colleague was convinced that they were being monitored, so went through the motions of doing his job. But when Doubry looked around: “Jumping jam sandwiches,” he exclaimed, “it’s snowing again. I’m not sure we should be here.”

Jenson had always thought that, so quickly pocketed the theodolite and went in pursuit of Doubry, who found himself confronted by Gerhardt and Tynan…

“Hey,” Gerhardt cried out, “worse it is getting. Are you having an idea where safety we can be finding?”

Initially the mouths of both Doubry and Jenson fell open in confusion. “You what?” They both enquired.

“We’re looking for a safe abode.” Tynan Ware explained.  Then after introducing himself and Gerhardt, added: “We thought that you might be better equipped than us for inclement conditions. You appear to be professionals: we are mere tourists.”

“A flip-up tent you are having perhaps?” Gerhardt added.

“Um…no.” Jenson replied. “Why are you wearing a helmet?”

“Ah, my helmet,” Gerhardt’s eyes shone as he swivelled them upwards towards his headgear, “most wonderful it is being. You see a mutant I was being – with an enormous brain. But the authorities were fearing that a dangerous megalomaniac I might become, and cut the top of my head off.”

“Yes,” Tynan spoke as he noticed that Gerhardt’s speech pattern seemed to confuse Doubry and Jenson, “they did. It was the only course of action open to them. Now he wears the helmet in place of a skull.”

Jenson was appalled by this information. “Will it grow back?” He asked. Then, to add a little clarity to his question, he added: “his brain I mean?”

“Yes, my brain it is growing at this moment we are speaking in.” Gerhardt informed him happily. “When I am returning to Earth, the doctors will chop off the new bit.”

“So, if you have such a dangerous condition, why did you come to Mars?” Doubry – with a smile that didn’t disguise his doubts – asked.

“The Muffins.” Tynan explained. “I am one of the doctors responsible for chopping bits off Gerhardt’s brain: I’m here to enlist their help.”

Again confusion appeared upon both prospectors faces. “Why would Martians know anything about huge brains, and what to do with them?” Jenson said. “But before you answer that – can we start walking: my boots are beginning to stick to the ice.”

So they did – in a totally random direction…

“Have you ever seen the Martians?” Tynan said by way of introducing his explanation.

Both Doubry and Jenson took a moment to think about that. They hadn’t actually seen any in the flesh: but they had seen lots of photos on the way from Earth. Both recalled the most striking example…

“Oh, I see what you mean.” They said in unison. “They’ve all had the tops of their heads chopped off!”

“Yes. But,” Tynan held aloft a freezing digit to better illustrate what he was about to say next by pointing it at his head, “they don’t wear helmets!”

Meanwhile, inside the Future Museum of Mars, the engineers responsible for monitoring the nul-space generator that supplied the power for the entire edifice, grew concerned…

“Get on the horn to Frisby.” The very important yellow engineer instructed the lowly orange engineer. “Tell him the generator’s getting really hot.”

Below, in the nul-space generator room, temperatures were soaring…

“And while you’re at it, reduce our power demand by turning down the thermostat in the habitat area.”

Of course the lowly orange engineer complied instantly, and in the habitat the temperature plummeted from a comfortable twenty-one degrees C to fifteen…

…and everyone began climbing onto things so that they could gain some elevation and stay in the warmer air.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Revel in the Ribaldry 26

Since I began posting these extracts from the Hamster-Sapiens series of e-books, I’ve been really pleased with everyone’s reactions to them. To date only one extract needed to be deleted – due to lack of interest – and I thank every one of you who clicks the Like button whenever you read one. For this excerpt I’ve delved into the abyss that is this book…

Hopefully you’ll like it as much as the others.

Upon this command the monks fell back to a position behind the drunken mob. No sooner had they done so – when the gate gave way abruptly, and with a loud splintering sound it crashed to the ground. Instantly the army of rogue Stix bandits came pouring through the gap – to be met with a sight that they couldn’t have imagined in their wildest dreams: Monks of The Wheel – drunken and debauched – and showing them their personal protuberances! And what frightful willies they were too – every one of them. Or rather they weren’t: In fact they were outstandingly average. But with Primrose’s hypnotic powers at their fullest, every member there appeared to match Brother Alfonso’s in sheer frightfulness to the nth degree.

“Argh.” The first wave of bandits cried, “Frightful willies everywhere: Back, damn you! Back!”

But heedless the second wave pushed them onwards, and they were almost within striking distance with their knives and cudgels before they too succumbed to the apparent sight.

“No – The Rim preserve me.” They would cry out in despair, “My mind is in turmoil!” And then they too would turn aside, and try to beat a hasty retreat.

But no one had considered Lucas Cleats himself. Something had obviously changed in Lucas Cleats since he’d come to the attention of Stubby Collet as a young, up-coming, Stix member, because not only did he recognise the monk’s private parts for what they really were; he also recognised Primrose as the alter-ego of Stubby Collet.

Raising his mailed fist he marched resolutely towards Primrose. “This is your evil work!” He growled menacingly.

“Ah-ha!” Brother Alfonso yelled as he leapt into the space between Cleats and Primrose, and raising the hem of his habit to chest height, “Their danglies may not be real – but mine is. Retreat immediately before I club you to death with my mighty truncheon.”

Under certain circumstances this ploy might have worked. Indeed Brother Alfonso had once tried such a gambit before. The result that time was a sharp slap with a chain mail glove, followed by excruciating pain, and his instantaneous surrender: This time didn’t go any better.

“El Diablo.” Brother Alfonso cried in abrupt and unexpected agony, “Mi Guillermo burns like the fires of The Hub itself. No mi gusta chain mail gloves!”

Cleats then pushed the stumbling giant aside, and withdrew his blade from it’s scabbard. “Let’s be done with these illusions, Stubby.” He spoke calmly to Primrose. “Out of respect I’ll make it quick for you.”

In one fluid motion both Darkwood and Quentin bravely stepped to intercept him, but were cast aside by invisible mental bolts that sent them sprawling.

Joan, Felicity, and Algy Timber all tried flinging empty custard pots in his direction, but Cleats avoided them all with ease, and barely broke the pace of his advance.

But then lady luck stepped in as Joan cried out, “Oh if only we could introduce some custard to his gullet, we would be saved!”

And outside the gate, still recovering from being used as a battering ram, lay Cleats’ enormous bull cavy.

“Custard?” The enormous cavy said – his ears pricking up. “Did someone mention custard? I absolutely adore custard. Let me at it. Let no rodent stand in my way!”

He then leapt to his feet, and charged through the broken portal. He took a brief moment to ignore all the wayward private parts and fleeing bandits, and then locked his gaze upon the last remaining pot of custard, which as luck would have it, stood upon a trestle table beside the shapely form of Primrose Pickles.

“That mother-fluffer is mine.” He bellowed loudly whilst charging blindly – oblivious to the fact that his master stood between himself and the tantalising custard.

Well what happened next was horrifying beyond belief. Even the drunken monks paused in their synchronised posing to gasp in awe, and the others openly cringed. Lucas Cleats had been caught from behind by the massive lowered head of his mount, and was flung bodily high into the air, where he landed with an “Oof” upon the steep slate-tiled roof of the gatehouse. He then quickly slithered downward in a terrifying cascade of dislodged tiles and startled grimaces. He would have inevitably fallen to a grisly death upon the shattered remains of the wooden gate below, but somehow his scrotum managed to become ensnared in the gutter, and he was left dangling above the precipice by his private parts.

“Oh I wish I’d brought my digital camera.” Algy Timber spoke into the resulting silence, “I could really liven up my personal web site with pictures of that.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Now you can see why I call this Revel in the Ribaldry. Fun- what? Of course the e-book is still available – after all these years – at most stockists, some of which are mentioned beneath the header and on the sidebar.

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fourteen)

Things might have been hotting up – or cooling down, depending on your point of view – on Mars: but upon the ridiculously distant Scroton, where the Gravity Whelk lie quiescent in its cradle once more…

…Folie and Placebo were summoned to the presence of the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor again…

“Well its done.” Donny Woolbadger informed them. “The Gravity Whelk is all ship-shape and Scroton fashion – to paraphrase an old Earth expression that Nigel gleaned from Magnuss Earplug.”

“We don’t know what to say.” Folie replied. “I mean this is beyond wonderful: we’re just speechless.”

“I’ll be happy if you don’t break wind with joy.” Tojo Winterborn said in much-practised Earplug, but with a thick, almost impenetrable Scrotonic accent. “Now be on your way: you have a ship to inspect.”

Well the youngsters didn’t need a second bidding. But when they came aboard it was with feelings of trepidation. Might the ship be adorned with candy pink carpets and feather boas? It didn’t bear thinking about…

“Nope.” Placebo said as he stepped into the first corridor from the transfer conduit. “Ah…looking kind of good – if you like sparkly gold walls and Lincoln green flooring.”

He was then startled by the sudden arrival of the Chancellors, whom, he assumed, must have entered via the opposite conduit.

“Yeek!” He managed.

“We were going to let you explore alone.” Donny explained. “Then Tojo had a thought: what if you didn’t read the instruction pamphlet properly? It could end catastrophically. So we came aboard to show you around.”

So the first command given in the re-fitted Gravity Whelk was to the Automatic Pilot. Five minutes later they were in deep space.

“Regard the nice oval portholes.” Donny said as they proceeded along the corridor. “Made for optimum vision and super strength. This ship won’t fall apart when you enter a gravitic maelstrom or collide with asteroids.”

Donny was very keen to display the toilet with a revolving door…

“Pink light on: go poop.” Tojo said in simple Earplug.

“Nice touch.” Placebo managed. “But what if the bulb blows? I wouldn’t want to walk in on Folie half way through.”

“Got a lock on door.” Tojo replied.

Then the duo were taken to the room that no one had a name for, but in which the ship’s log was located. There they were introduced to the engineers, designers, and whizz-kids that had overseen the re-fit…

“This seat is jolly comfortable.” Folie observed.

“And this golden globe is very…uh…golden. Was it golden before? I can’t remember.” Placebo added. Then, in an inspired intellectual moment he spotted something behind him reflected in the information matrix globe: “Hey – is that Cafe Blurgh in that machine? We both love Cafe Blurgh: it was all we could find whilst sight-seeing in Scroton Prime.”

Snarlsdon Bumbledope was surprised at this. “Really?” He said. “I’m really surprised: Cafe Yuk and Cafe Cacks out-sell Blurgh ten-to-one. You must have visited all the best cafes.”

Folie shrugged his shoulders. “Well, you know: some people are born with good taste. What else have you got to show us?”

As they passed another porthole, Placebo noticed a painting hanging upon the outer hull wall covering…

“That looks sort of familiar.” He whispered to Folie. “It’s bloody awful too. Whomever the artist is – I hate him or her.”

Whether Donny heard Placebo is debatable, but – perhaps by sheer chance – he brought up the subject of the wall art: “We had it sent over from the Royal Palace.” He said. “There are several scattered throughout the ship. They’re all Anton Twerp originals. They might be worth a fortune somewhere – we don’t know. They were a gift from the Museum of Future Technology’s most reviled artist – none other than Anton Twerp himself.”

“Oh,” Folie nodded wisely, “that explains why it makes me want to vomit.”

Shortly after that the ship’s owners found themselves standing at a door that didn’t exist pre-refit…

“That’s nice.” Folie remarked. Then, in a puzzled tone, he added: “How come I can only see me reflected in the metallic surface of the door?”

“Special coating.” Donny explained. “It only shows one species at a time. It’s a special Scrotonic design for people who get so hopelessly inebriated that – when they wake up from their drunken stupor and wonder who and what they are – this door will reveal their true species to them. Not really a lot of point to it: but we thought it looked nice with the yellow door frame.”

“Where does it lead to?” Placebo inquired. “The door I mean.”

“Pertinent question, young polystyrene blob.” Donny replied cheerfully. “We’ll find out straight away.”

“This, if you haven’t recognised it already,” Donny said proudly, “is the heart of the Gravity Whelk. Welcome to Engineering.”

“Lots of winking lights.” Folie observed. “Do we need to know what they mean?”

“In manual.” Tojo showed off his new command of the earplug language.

“I see it comes with its own toilet.” Placebo noted.

“Could be very important in times of great danger.” Donny replied. “It’s no good trying to fix a damaged ship when your bladder is bursting: it ruins concentration. Mistakes are made. I’ve heard of entire ships exploding because the Chief Engineer needed a whizz, but couldn’t get back from the toilet in time to stop a matter/anti-matter interaction get out of control.”

“Pee-pee.” Tojo added. “Very important.”

“When you gotta go,” Placebo showed wisdom beyond his years, “you gotta go. Otherwise – blammo!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part twelve)

Of course, back on Mars, events were moving…perhaps not apace, but certainly moving forward…

William of Porridge sidled up to Lillie Whitewater and expressed his reservations regarding the only other cork in the Future Museum of Mars.

“He’s a fruit cake.” He finished.

But Lillie wasn’t really listening: she’d spotted someone on the crimson boulevard that set her knees to trembling and fillings a-rattling…

She went all gooey-eyed and called out Sir Dodger’s name, which really annoyed William because the retired thespian was old enough to be Lillie’s grandfather, and also because he thought the former bridge crew member of the K T Woo should have more self-control and a better sense of professionalism.

“Oh do shut up.” He snapped uncharacteristically

But Sir Dodger’s thoughts were mired in doubt and worry about the hiking sewage union reps. He didn’t have his hearing aid switched on either. So, consequently he walked straight on by without acknowledging Lillie in any way…

Naturally Lillie was crestfallen. She was also crushed. She wished the deck would open up beneath her and consume her entirely.

“What a git.” William said as he cast ethereal daggers in the movie star’s direction. “At least he could have said, ‘how do you do; might I say how delightful you look in that tatty old pressure suit’, but he didn’t. That’s actors for you!”

To which Lillie responded thus: “Do I really look delightful in my tatty old pressure suit, William?”

Meanwhile, out on the plain, Doubry Furkins and Jenson Prong noticed the first real signs of the approaching winter…

“Survey over for the day.” Jenson said in a manner that would brook no argument.

But Doubry, fearful for his job, did so anyway: “But the Company might be watching us from the TV relay station on Deimos.”

Jenson scoffed. “It costs a fortune to rent electronic space on Mars’ moons: they are not going to be checking in on us. Now let’s get inside.”

Sir Dodger’s concerns over the sewage workers union reps was well founded…

“Oi, Marty,” Tandoe Crimplehorn called from the rear of the party, “your oxy-suppository fits my botty to perfection: but judging by the way you’re leading us in ever decreasing circles strongly suggests that mine doesn’t fit you at all well. Are you suffering from hypoxia?”

“Shut your face.” Marty Friedpants snarled his reply. “It’s this bloody snow: it’s smudging my contact lenses. I can’t see where we’re going!”

At much the same time, the falling snow excited the normally taciturn Charles De Glop into schoolboy-like behaviour…

“Whee!” He cried as he danced about on the concrete apron outside the kitchen.

It even brought smiles to the faces of the engineers that had decided that their chances lay better with a return to the safety of the museum…

One of the engineers who had been stationed in the museum took it upon himself to clamber into the nearby hills to find any customers who might be in need of guidance back. His name was Nobby Hollister, and it was his misfortune to  discover Patti Roularde as she enjoyed herself conducting some Precipitous Ledge Walking.

“Follow me.” He instructed her.

So she did…very closely indeed…

…which didn’t please Nobby. “Give me a little space, will ya.” He grumbled. “This ledge is getting more and more precipitous.”

The museum’s roof became a magnet for winter sports fans inside the museum. Two sewage worker union reps who hadn’t bothered to join the others on their hike, dashed there to enjoy the view…

“Ah,” one of them sighed, “after years of dealing with so much filth and ghastliness, its wonderful to be somewhere so fresh and clean.”

To which his colleague replied: “Yeah. Like the purple roof panel too.”

Below them, and out of sight around the corner, Las Chicas De La Playa had stripped down to their bikinis, and were now hard at work on their tans…

“La nieve no es buena para brocearse.” Carmen said to the others. “Hagamos otro cosa.”

To which the Chicas’ sole male representative, Jorge, replied: “You’re right, Carmen:  we are not going to get a tan this way at all. Like you say, we should do something else. Any suggestions anyone?”

Thirty seconds later…

“Yeah, snowball fight.” Lucia bellowed in a most un-girly manner.

“No shoving snow down the back of bikini bottoms, okay?” Jimena added wisely.

Further around the corner, where the prevailing winds blew most powerfully, the stone entrance to the ancient citadel steps was becoming treacherous with compacted snow and black ice…

…which didn’t please the Muffins working there on a restoration project one little bit…

And Maverick Fossil-Hunter, when he emerged from a hot-dog vendor’s tent inside the citadel, was appalled at the changing conditions…

“How am I going to find the catacombs now?” He wailed. “The big X marked on my map will be covered in snow!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Revel in the Ribaldry 25

More ribald tales from the Hamster-Sapiens now. Well an excerpt anyway. And this one comes from none other than this e-book…

As is my way, Mr Complete Random once more selected the excerpt. Let’s hope the non-existent devil has chosen well…

Joan, Darkwood, Rootley, and the gargantuan Brother Alfonso Dos Fresas had emerged from the sewer outlet that overhung Weasels Pit’s Lake Effluence like some evil giant urethra. They’d closely resembled an army of frozen zombies. Only when they gained the sanctuary of Rootley’s disgusting hovel atop the hill that over looked the putridly medieval village, and were embraced by the considerable bulk of Margarita Hummingbird, did they finally thaw sufficiently to converse in words of more than one syllable.

Finally, as evening drew on, they settled about the smoky fire and discussed a possible constitution for Prannick – once the power of The Wheel had been overthrown, of course.

“So tell me, Joan,” Darkwood spoke between draughts of a foul ale that they’d purchased from an inebriated chipmunk whom they encountered on the road that led towards Knackered Dobbin, and who was selling hot baked beans and treacle tarts to passers-by, “since you know Sponx is ruled by an absolute monarchy, and Prannick is a religious mono-culture, how well do you imagine that your land’s concept of democracy would fare in this obviously more culturally-primitive dimension?”

Joan’s reply was short and sweet. It was also a question.  “Capitalism, or Socialism?”

Darkwood pondered this subject for a moment. He then asked the obvious question, “Is there any real difference?”

Now if anyone had asked Joan this question just a paw-full of days previous, then it’s likely that she would have responded with, “You what? Socialism? Duh…” But the new Joan now used parts of her brain that hadn’t been dulled by an upbringing in the company of a moronic gerbil, and the ever-present aroma of custard. Just as Darkwood had done moments earlier, Joan too pondered the subject. When she spoke is was with precision and clarity…

“In ideology and theory – a difference so vast that it could lead to war:” She informed him, “But in practice – they are barely discernible. They’re both highly proficient in the art of corruption, but only one of them is capable of running a country long-term without bankrupting it or causing civil unrest. Well that’s if Hamster Britain’s government is anything to judge by. The same goes for dictatorships and police states: In the end you can’t tell one from the other. Except for cornflakes, of course: There’s always a greater choice of cornflakes and cereal-based products in states where free speech is the norm. Otherwise they’re much the same. Even the pornography looks remarkably similar. So I’ve been told: I’ve never actually indulged…”

She turned away to cover the brightening of skin beneath her youthful hamstery fur.

“Not doing well, are we Darkwood?” Rootley returned from prodding the smouldering fire, “In any case – aren’t we being a tad premature? We have the fluffin’ Wheel to overthrow first.”

“And I have a trabajo to find, if you recall.” Brother Alfonso spoke from inside a hammock that he’d fashioned from a huge sheet of muslin that was usually used for containing the village pudding, but had been washed and left outside to dry overnight by the village pudding maker, and which had been subsequently stolen by Brother Alfonso as he sauntered past en route from Lake Effluence to Rootley’s hovel, “As a monk my professional days are over.”

It was late at the Institute of Hugely Important Studies, and Flotti Pañuelo had only just put on her hat and coat, and departed the establishment on her ex-Horatio Horseblanket race-prepped motocross foldaway scooter that she’d won in the last year’s Hamster Heath Annual Winter Farting Contest, when Fabian Strangefellow’s rare and expensive go-kart rolled onto the grounds with its pedals feathered for complete silence.

The machine didn’t stop; it just merely slowed sufficiently to allow a black-clad Roosevelt Teabiscuit the opportunity to leap from the passenger seat, roll spectacularly across the pavement, then spring, like an over-eager flea, up onto the flat roof of the foyer, shinny up a drainpipe, then dive through an open window upon the fourth floor.

Elsewhere upon the fourth floor, the three members of The Royal Institute for Psychic Rodent Research were once more putting Felicity Bugler through her paces. And once more she was failing like a talentless tart.

“You know, I’m at a total loss: She was fine earlier.” Doctor Rambling Bramble spoke in his most frustrated tone of voice as he stood behind impervious plate glass beside his assistant, Primrose Pickles. “If I had my way I’d have her put out of her misery. Lethal injection ought to do it.”

Primrose was feeling more charitable. “Perhaps if I gave her really good spanking…” She suggested.

Bramble’s whiskers twanged like an ill-tuned banjo. “Do you really think so?” He said, suddenly breathless, “Can I watch?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

I don’t need to tell you that this book is available at most e-book stockists: you already know.

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part nine)

A half-hour then passed in which Mulleon had taken a bite to eat; gone to the lavatory; changed his underwear; and managed to lose Rufus. Of course the first three acts had been necessary; the fourth less so, and he cursed himself for not keeping his big gob shut when he’d hatched his plan to use the plugmutt in such an underhand manner. So it was alone that Mulleon followed the blueprints of the museum that Maverick had paid a fortune for to a pair of dubious underworld characters called Wilton Carpetti and Vinki Vinkleton. Now he entered the lowest foundations of the futuristic abode…

A single light illuminated the way, and soon he spotted the hatch that led to the supposed caverns below…

…and, in a trice, was through it…

Looking around him, Mulleon wondered at the sheer volume of the cavern. He’d expected to find it damp and cramped. Instead it was dry and spacious.

“Huh, not bad.” He said begrudgingly. “Now I know why they use the term ‘cavernous’.”

He then set himself to address his immediate concern: which way to go?

Several storeys above Mulleon, William of Porridge congratulated himself on a job well done…

“Will you look at that!” He said to no one but himself. “All packed away in Bays Six and Seven: and you’d never know it to look at it. Pristine. Will, baby: you are the cork!”

But when he dropped from the platform, onto the delivery buggy track…

…he noticed the luggage service platform arriving unexpectedly. Even more surprising was the fact that it was carrying a passenger…

Of course William couldn’t possibly have known that Maverick had followed Mulleon into the bowels of the building – to make certain that the yellow earplug hadn’t reneged on their deal; pocketed the money; and ‘done a runner’. Now he’d made the mistake of being lazy. If he’d bothered to take the stairs, no one need ever know that he’d been anywhere but the public areas. Now that big lump of a luggage cork was calling out to him. Moments later he was joined upon the luggage service platform…

“Hi,” the new arrival said chirpily, “my name’s William of Porridge: what’s yours?”

Maverick had expected admonishment; not a warm welcome. He was caught off-guard by William’s approach: “Errrr.” He said. “Um…” Then he thought that honestly would be the best tactic. “Maverick.” He replied. “Maverick Fossil-Hunter.”

William nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah – thought so.” He said – which surprised Maverick even further. “You believe in ancient astronauts and all that guff. Yes, I saw your interview with Rupert Piles. You maintain that Mars was colonised by an early earplug civilisation that was aquatic in nature. You suggest that the Muffins are the result of an artificially altered genome that allowed later generations of those colonists to live on a planet that was rapidly drying up.”

“Oh cripes.” Maverick said sotto voce. Then more loudly he added: “Well, essentially, you’re right. I do. May I say – thank you for actually listening to my half of the interview. Most people agree with that camera-wielding oaf, Rupert Piles. His open guffawing at my statements almost ruined me, you know.”

“So now you’re here to prove him wrong, huh?” William urged.

“Oh yes indeed.” Maverick said as he turned his gaze away from his thoughts, and in the direction of William…

“I’m going to humble him. I’m going to make him eat every one of his words. I’m going to make him choke on his guffaws. I’m going to bestride the academic world like an earplugologist colossus. Everyone who ever said I was a kook and nutter is going to regret their foolish tongues ever spoke those words. I’m going to kick several scientists and academics right up the metaphysical arse. Then I’m going to kick them up the real arse too!”

Maverick hadn’t noticed, but his tenor had quickly shifted in an upwards direction towards falsetto. William had.

“Oh, right. Yeah, great.” He said as he took a backward step. “Be careful on this lift: it isn’t really for people. See ya.”

With that he was gone, and Maverick could continue on his way – his recently pent-up stress levels magically salved.

Below, and unobserved, Mulleon was continuing onwards; but his thoughts were of turning back. If he could just think up some sneaky excuse…

William of Porridge had, until encountering Maverick Fossil-Hunter, been relatively unconcerned with day-to-day problems of the Future Museum of Mars. But a mad cork on the premises made him nervous…

He could well remember the tales of Ballington Cork’s attempts to take control of the Museum of Future Technology. And he wasn’t too impressed with the disco cork king – Hambledon Bohannon – either…

He would need to speak to someone about it. And straight away!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part seven)

Well it was just as the Automatic Pilot had suggested: there was no need to fire off their remaining pair of proton torpedoes: Scroton’s gravity was sufficiently powerful to pull the ship towards it.

Although the nova had ruined the star drive, the Gravity Whelk’s uncomplicated atmospheric-flight pulse drive had been unaffected by the solar convulsion: so, after obtaining permission to enter Scroton’s atmosphere, the boys took their positions in the forward window and watched the air rush past…

“I like air.” Folie informed his best friend. “I like the way it makes lots of noise as it rubs on the ship’s hull. And buffeting too: it really makes me feel euphoric. I think it’s a visceral thing.”

“I like it because it’s breathable.” Placebo replied. “Even at this altitude it’s a lot better than outer space.”

But it wasn’t long before the ship was rushing across the landscape towards its final destination…

Of course the boys had been so busy talking inanities that neither of them noticed that permission to land had been granted. Fortunately for them the Automatic Pilot was more professional. So soon the Gravity Whelk had nestled into a dry dock that overlooked  the city of Scroton Prime, and before you could say ‘Magnuss Earplug: what a guy‘ personnel transfer conduits had attached themselves to the airlocks on the lower hull…

“Straighten your ties, boys.” The Automatic Pilot bellowed, “we’re down.”

Then the summons came. Five minutes later Folie and Placebo stood at the ceremonial gate to the city.

“Hello, brave young earplugs.” A brown cable end said in a pleasant baritone. “I’m Vice Chancellor Donny Woolbadger. This is Chancellor Tojo Winterborn: he doesn’t speak any earplug language I’m afraid: so I’m here to interpret. Your Automatic Pilot informs us that you need a re-fit.”

“A rather extensive one, I believe?” Tojo Winterborn added – though, of course neither Folie nor Placebo were aware of that.

But Placebo – being a non-earplug – had learned to read body language very well. “Yes.” He guessed correctly and replied directly to the chancellor. “A bloody great big one – with all the bells and whistles you can muster.”

When Donny had translated this, the chancellor appeared very impressed. “Now I can see why our great and glorious leader is so enamoured with these Earth beings: they’re a clever bunch of bleeders. I’m not so sure about the little yellow one though. Looks a bit thick to me. But he’s cute, so we’ll let my reservations pass on this occasion. Tell them to follow us.”

“Walk this way.” Donny invited the new-comers. “From this relatively low vantage point you can see your tatty old ship in dry dock.”

He was right too. And just to impress the two space-farers further, sparkling cutting torches could already been seen in action…

“Oh, good.” Folie said appreciatively. “The first thing to go is that useless sodding excuse for a bridge.”

But Folie and Placebo were soon to be impressed even further, because, at that moment, Nigel – The Golden One – proceeded through ranks of his security forces…

…for a meeting with his visitors from far away across the void of interstellar space. He elected to meet them in the industrial zone immediately adjacent to the dry dock…

“Do either of you know Magnuss Earplug?” He inquired once introductions had been made. “I’m a big fan.”

Folie would have liked nothing more than to have answered in the affirmative; but sadly he’d never met the Museum of Future Technology’s greatest hero. “Sorry, but no.” He said. “But I do have a framed pair of his underpants – under glass and hermetically sealed.”

“Yes, and we have met Cushions Smethwyke.” Placebo blurted.

Nigel appeared a little confused. “Cushions…urr…Smethwyke?”

“She’s the boss of the MOFT.” Folie explained. “I guess you could say she’s Magnuss’ boss.”

Had Nigel possessed an eyebrow he would have raised it.

“My,” he said, “she must be quite a gal. Magnuss Earplug’s boss, eh? Perhaps I should take the time for a royal visit. Thank you, lads: you’ve given me food for thought. Well I’ll leave you in the Chancellor’s capable hands. Whatever you need…ah…it’s yours. I’ll see you again when the job’s complete. Bye-ee.”

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part six)

Meanwhile, so far across the gulfs of space that numbers become incomprehensible, the Gravity Whelk was well into its long journey to Scroton…

Although the ancient vessel was travelling at full speed, Folie and Placebo found that they had lots of time on their hands. And since the Automatic Pilot…um…piloted the ship, they chose to watch the view through the front window of the nominal ‘bridge’. And it was whilst they were positioned thus, that a distant star exploded…

“Cripes,” Folie yelped, “I hope that was farther away than it looked!”

Placebo would have responded, but his thoughts were interrupted by the Automatic Pilot: “Immediate course change required. Initiating.”

“Obviously it wasn’t farther away than it looked.” Placebo said finally. “I guess exploding stars are pretty dangerous to old tubs like this one.”

“They’re also extremely rare.” Folie said confidently. “Cams Layne, aboard the Brian Talbot, told me that his crew had flown for loads of light years and had never seen a single one. Same goes for the crews of the Chi-Z-Sox and the K T Woo.”

“That’s comforting to know.” A relieved Placebo replied. “I hope we got it on the dash cam: I’d like to play it back for Mister Layne, when we see him next.”

Folie then suggested that they might witness the star’s final throws from one of the side windows; so they quickly made their way to an observation point…

“Nice.” Folie opined after five minutes of scouring all visible space with his sharp eye sight. “But hardly spectacular.”

“Yeah.” Placebo sighed. “I guess the show’s over. Fancy some spaghetti on toast?”

Naturally Folie would have said: “Sho’nuf, big fella: lead me to the galley.” But his reply was quenched when, without warning, another star exploded…

“I’ll take a rain check on that right now.” He said as he buckled on his seat belt. “That is definitely much closer than the first one.”

The Automatic Pilot had just enough time to plot an evasive manoeuvre, when the ship was struck by an energy wave cast out by the nova…

“Aargh!” It managed as electrical conduits sparked and fizzled. “Flipping heck – we’ve lost the main star drive. You two: get aft. We have to know how badly hurt we are before I can try a re-start.”

Under normal circumstances, the young owners of the Gravity Whelk would have welcomed something useful to do: but these weren’t normal circumstances.

“Ooh, blimey,” Placebo said as he studied a set of really important read-outs, “this panel is completely dead.”

Folie wasn’t doing any better in his section of the ship…

“Ditto.” He reported. “I’m on emergency lighting down here too.”

But as they checked other compartments, the situation seemed slightly improved…

“Ah, there’s a  bit of luck,” Placebo noted. “The outer hatch on the toilet tissue store hasn’t opened to space.”

Folie too had good news…

“And the pumpkin farm is fine as well.” He said. Then, after a moment’s consideration: “Hey; how about we microwave a pie?”

But then the ship began to yaw and the artificial gravity became unreliable – alternating between Earth standard and Luna standard. This fluctuation made Placebo feel quite nauseous…

“Flipping heck, Autopilot,” he mumbled between bouts of gagging, “can’t you get us underway somehow? Isn’t thrust a good alternative to fluctuating artificial gravity?”

“Very good, Placebo,” the Automatic Pilot’s stentorian voice echoed down the (now silent) corridors, “you appear to have studied basic space faring stuff. Unfortunately the only way your wish can come true is if I release a proton torpedo into the rear expansion chamber of the main drive, and ignite it.”

“It’s either that,” Placebo groaned testily, “or I throw up all over your shiny bulkheads.”

“Initiating proton torpedo release.” The Automatic Pilot said with a trace of panic in its cyber voice. “And igniting it.”

A split second later…

…the ship began to move.

“Another one.” Folie shouted above the noise of a ship trying to shove its blunt-end through its pointy-end.

Given an explicit command, the Autopilot did as it was bid – and continued in that way for several days until the Gravity Whelk blew itself all the way to Weird Space…

“Are we nearly there yet?” Placebo inquired from the galley.

“Kind’a.” Folie replied. “But space is awfully big.”

But, just of a handful of days later, the Gravity Whelk nosed into semi-familiar territory…

“Well whadda ya know?” The Automatic Pilot spoke over the general address system.” We’ve only gone and done it. And with only a couple of proton torpedoes remaining on the inventory. It’s all downhill from here. Guys; welcome to Scroton.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part five)

Soon both Mars Shuttles had disgorged their loads and set metaphorical sail for Earth – leaving behind them a milling mass of silicon life forms…

Frisby – quickly realising that the dull light of the Martian sky was permeating the museum’s shell with its depressing lustre – decided to switch on the artificial lighting. He selected the blue of Earth…

“Well it’s not like its going to raise the electricity bill.” He explained to Tangerine. “We have a nul-space generator. Power isn’t a problem.”

Soon guests were swarming all over the museum – despite the fact that it still held no exhibits, or seemed likely too in the short-term…

“Don’t you just love this lower gravity on Mars?” Sir Dodger inquired of an attractive female guest on one of the main walkways. “I do believe I feel thirty years younger – if you catch my drift.”

“Oh I do, Sir Dodger.” She replied. “When my elastic snapped just now, my pants refused to fall down. I was very grateful to be here, and not Saturn or one of those large planets.”

“Oh, absolutely.” Sir Dodger sympathised. “I’d hate to think what might have happened on one of those gas giants. I’ve heard their moons are very pleasant though.”

Several months earlier  the Museum of Future Technology had dispatched a team of engineers to assist the native Martians – or ‘Muffins’ as they preferred to be known – with their attempts to resurrect thier  civilisation. They were easily identified by their orange colouring. Although most were on assignment upon the plains, others remained inside the museum. Some of them were delighted to see an influx of new people…

But they were not always best pleased when the aforementioned ‘new people’ brought their bad habits along with them…

But at least the engineers weren’t expected to guide them when they became hopelessly lost in the vast edifice…

There were just so many levels…

…that guests quickly tired and had to be taken to the dispensary for a pick-me-up. But other engineers managed to find fault with certain guests who failed to read the signage properly…

“What?” They would cry in despair. “You did what in the Tinkle Point? Don’t you realise the problems you’ve caused? It’s gonna take a team of eight to unblock this properly.” And: “No, Tinkle Point does not mean Toilet: it’s Martian for urinal!”

But out upon the Martian plains, engineers who lived in temporary shelters began to grow nervous…

There was a decidedly nippy breeze blowing in from both poles…

…and one or two of the gangs wondered if they should think about packing their haversacks and head back to the museum.

But new arrivals were unaware of the subtle shifts in the climate. They were just so glad to be able to get outside and experience the real Mars. People like the Museum of Future Technology’s sewerage workers union representatives who were enjoying a hiking holiday paid for by their union member’s union dues…

And former M.O.F.T visitors, Las Chicas De La Playas…

…who were fans of El Custardo y Los Natillas, and who believed with all their hearts that it was possible to get a tan from the Martian sun.

And amongst the shuttles manifest a small mineral prospecting company had dispatched representatives to discover what mineral wealth Mars still possessed…

 

But, perhaps, the most striking passenger, and therefore museum customer, was a property developer who had fallen foul of the  authorities on his home world, so pulled up his roots; put on his hard hat; and now sought to make his fortune at the expense of the natives of a different world entirely…

He was an Ethernet Cable End, and his home world was none other than Scroton!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part four)

Naturally it took a while for the transfer buggy to deliver the customers to the reception point inside the museum. It gave Frisby just enough time to persuade Charles De Glop to join himself, Lillie, and Tangerine in welcoming them…

Already they had fixed their smiles, and it wasn’t long before they could hear the hissing and grinding of the airlock as it allowed ingress to the travellers…

…one of which almost tripped on the ageing red carpet that wouldn’t lay flat.

“They’re almost here.” Frisby said quietly to Lillie. “You can do it. Just move a little closer to the door.”

“Okay.” Lillie replied in a tiny voice that belied her real capabilities.

Frisby could never forget that his assistant had seen real space combat experience. She had done things that most earplugs couldn’t even dream of. He was also aware that she had her frailties – perhaps as a result of those experiences. “Have you remembered to put your space knickers on this morning?” He inquired.

But it was too late for Lillie to reply: the first of their guests had arrived…

“Hello everyone.” Lillie began her welcoming speech. “We’re ever so pleased that you’ve managed to cross the vacuum of interplanetary space without suffocating or anything like that.”

But no one was listening: they’d spotted Tangerine…

…and, as anyone who knows anything about the history of the Museum of Future Technology, futuristic robots are often looked upon as potential threats and considered very scary indeed!

“Don’t worry about Tangerine.” William of Porridge spoke to the huge cork standing beside him. “He’s one of the good guys. He’s been with Frisby Mumph since the Future Museum of Mars was sent back in time from the future. He has no  ulterior plans for domination or anything.”

Lillie picked up on this. “That’s right.” She almost squealed with delight. “Tangerine is just a big cuddly lovey-dovey!”

“Well said, Lillie.” Frisby whispered to her. “You have great improvisational skills. Have you ever considered un-scripted stand-up comedy? I think you’d be wonderful at it.”

Lillie was too embarrassed to reply; so it was a timely moment that M.O.F.T curator, Sir Dodger Muir, chose to introduce himself…

“My, what a charming greeting.” He said in his beautifully cultured thespian voice. “I’m Sir Dodger Muir, by the way. I’m here to see how things are getting along. You can call me Dodge.”

Lillie was too young, and originated upon a distant world, so she didn’t have a clue regarding the famous Sir Dodger: but his demeanour and the tonal qualities of his aged, but still powerful voice made her knees tremble. And even Charles De Glop seemed pleased to meet the former matinee idol and TV thriller star…

“Great….Dodge.” Frisby said with a stupid smile upon his face. “No doubt you have a master key to the museum; make yourself at home.

By now others were beginning to crowd the narrow entrance…

“Indeed I have.” Sir Dodger replied. “I also have a full set of new artificial knees, so I’m not slow and creaky like I once was. As a result I like to show off a bit. How would you like me to show your guests to their quarters? I’m sure William of Porridge wouldn’t mind.”

“Thank you…ah…Dodge.” William spoke from amongst the group. “That’ll give me more time to stow everyone’s luggage properly.”

“Jolly good.” Sir Dodger replied, then had a thought: “Oh there’s one more thing: I don’t know if you’re in the know; but a second shuttle took off just after us…

…It should be landing any time now.”

And so it came to be. Once more the welcoming committee took up their positions – this time facing the eastern entry point…

“You know, Mister Mumph,” Lillie said as she composed herself following Sir Dodger’s departure, “I’m rather enjoying this. It’s so much more rewarding than raising defensive electro-magnetic screens, making evasive manoeuvres, and firing proton torpedoes.”

Then it was on with the task at hand: the airlock had opened again…

But it wasn’t the sight of some uncertain and hesitant customers that that made the museum staff smile…

It was the arrival of Frisby’s favourite mariachi band…

…El Custardo y Los Natillas!

Now, for the first time, Frisby Mumph was glad to have paying guests. He just prayed that William of Porridge didn’t damage either their guitars or their trumpets. He adored ethnic Latino music!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part three)

Meanwhile, upon Mars, the brief cold Summer was coming to a close. As is usual for the planet, Autumn was certain to be skipped, and the world would soon be plunged into a long, stunningly ultra-arctic winter. But, for the moment, the temperature at the equator hovered at zero degrees…

Inside the communications room of the Future Museum of Mars, its sole curator – Frisby Mumph – received an anticipated call from the Museum of Future Technology…

…informing him that more paying guests were en route from Earth aboard a Mars Shuttle.

His assistant, former bridge crew member of the K T Woo – Lillie Whitewater – was quietly going about her work in the hydroponics bay, where she experimented with Earth plants and Martian chemicals…

As usual she was disappointed with developments.

“Oh bum.” She snarled daintily. “Nada. I knew Frisby was wrong when he said that I needed neither air nor water. Next time I’ll listen to my inner voice.”

Frisby’s other assistant – that being the robot named Tangerine…

…was making its ’rounds’ – searching for leaks, blockages, and other annoying structural abnormalities.

“Check.” It would say. “Check. Lovely.”

And in the subterranean storage facility, the giant cork – William of Porridge – was making sure that he had sufficient room for their in-coming guest’s luggage…

“Hmm,” he muttered to himself, “might have to open up Bays Eight and Nine. One can never be too careful. Don’t want to get pinched for space. Best to avoid a panic. Yes, I’ll open Bays Eight and Nine. Oh yes; and I’ll keep Bay Ten as an over-spill area.”

Shortly, the radio message completed, Frisby turned away from the panel…

“A second Mars Shuttle is due as well. Oh, that’s going to stretch us thin. Guess it’s all those thrill seekers – hoping to catch the beginning of our murderous Winter, and hoping they’ll have a tale or two to tell for their friends, work colleagues, loved ones, and anyone who will listen to them yammer on incessantly about how they almost got frost bite and how parts could have fallen off, but actually didn’t.  If I’m honest with myself, I’m not really cut out for this touristy stuff: I liked it when I was terraforming a dead world. It was a worthwhile job that I enjoyed. Now it’s all…oh I don’t know…different. In a way I’m quite grateful for these mini ice-ages: it keeps the riff-raff out.”

But he’d managed to pull on his smiley face by the time he encountered Tangerine…

“A second shuttle, Sir?” A surprised robot responded to the news. “Methinks the Museum of Future Technology is running short of funds: they wouldn’t normally pack in two vessels this late in the Martian year. Have you had words with Cushions Smethwyke upon the subject?”

“I have, Tange.” Frisby replied cheerfully. “I told her where to shove the third shuttle. I think she took my displeasure on-board.”

Lillie – ever the professional – had listened in on the inter-museum com-chat, so had already been apprised of the situation. She decided to go do something else. Origami sounded quite appealing…

And in the storage bay, William of Porridge had similar thoughts. But he was more realistic…

“Oh, I suppose I’ll have to play the role of of doorman again.” He said with a sigh. “How very tedious. Perhaps I’d better visit the lavatory first: as much as I detest our guests, I don’t want to offend them with violent gaseous outpourings.”

It was about this time that Frisby encountered Lillie upon her balcony…

“Good news, Lillie.” He said without preamble, “You’re promoted to the role of Welcome Plug. It’ll mean a raise of pay and the key to the executive toilet. Starting today – with the very next shuttle in!”

Lillie didn’t know what to say. She’d paid her way out of the Worstworld military because she didn’t like responsibility: now she was going to have to smile and say meaningful things to complete strangers.

“Crumbs.” She managed. “What an honour.”

Then it was on the Charles De Glop – the museum’s chef…

“Hey, Chuck, baby.” Frisby cried out as he entered the super-futuristic kitchen from the…ah…future…

…”you’re going to need a bigger ladle.”

Charles De Glop was a fastidious chef: he didn’t like non-gastronomes in his facility. He didn’t much like Frisby either. He hated the smell than often escaped from his superior’s ancient (and superfluous) pressure suit…

“Impossible!” He snapped. “I do not have the herbs I need. Lillie has failed to supply me any from her hydroponics bay. And I will not open a single can of baked beans.  It is beneath me. I would rather perish on an open plain!”

“I wouldn’t ask you to.” Frisby replied. “But whatever you do decide on, make up your mind: I can feel a ship landing upon the landing mound as we speak.”

And he was right too.  Mars Shuttle One had landed…

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 24

It’s  no good; when it comes to selecting which book supplies the next extract, I’ve completely lost the plot. But, rather than adopting my default position, which always results in me choosing The Psychic Historian, this time I’m going to plump for this slightly underrated e-book…

Okay – VERY underrated e-book. Maybe this extract, whatever it is (because its always random), will make people think again. Let’s hope so: I worked hard on this (all those years ago) and I really would like to sell a few copies.

“You miserable failure.” Wetpatch thought he heard someone say as he rematerialized beneath the emergency raffia mat.

“I’m no such thing.” He responded in his most indignant tone, which was very indignant indeed because he’d been studying Indignancy as part of the school curriculum, and had been practising upon the village green with his pal Algy Piecrust for weeks.

“Oh Wetpatch.” Amy squealed with delight as she whipped back the covering, and then quickly averted her eyes in case time travel did nasty things to people, “You’re back!”

Immediately everyone began fussing around the young hamster – asking all sorts of questions, and checking to see if he retained most of his more obvious body parts.

Naturally, after learning from Desmond that time travel can sometimes be disorientating, and can often lead people to hear things that weren’t actually said, and were usually the product of their sub-conscious, Wetpatch made his report.

Everyone was delighted, though slightly appalled by the news that both the crew and passengers were due for a pasting by the volcano’s shockwave, and that vomiting would be commonplace.

Desmond was particularly thrilled that Tutu would be safe, and was probably half way to Chunderland by now: But was slightly disconcerted when Wetpatch informed him that Tutu was a brilliant navigator, and that the lanky creature possessed a natural flair for the science, and could actually wipe his bottom with the bathroom light off.

So now, it seemed, it was just a matter of trying to survive the shockwave when it hit. And Wetpatch knew exactly where he intended to ride it out…

After securing Kevin to the wall with a pair of extremely large bolts and a length of braid from the lounge drapes, Wetpatch settled himself into a harness that swung lazily from a spring that was attached to the ceiling.

“It won’t matter how much the ship bucks about.” The youngster informed the education computer, “I’ll be cushioned from its effects by this. Of course I’ll probably empty my stomach all over the place, but I’ll remain fundamentally unharmed.”

Kevin, despite being a machine, was less than enthralled at the thought of being puked over.

“Hey, dumb-ass hamster,” it spoke as eloquently as it could, “How’s about stuffing me in a cupboard or up the extractor fan? I can’t stand no thoughts of messy stuff getting in my innards. What you wanna have me ‘round for anyways?”

Actually Wetpatch had a very good reason for having Kevin around when the shockwave hit. Amongst its many talents, Kevin could double as a DVD player, and it just so happened that during the rapid descent into the deeps, several box sets of Rat Trek had fallen from the hold of the Disemboweller into the Bargebutt, and Wetpatch had collected them, cleaned all the filth and bodily wastes from them, and now intended to spend his time on a sci-fi fest to end all sci-fi fests: Hour upon endless hour of Rat Trek re-runs – with popcorn. He simply couldn’t wait

“It’ll take my mind off my recalcitrant balance mechanism.” He explained after Kevin demanded an explanation for the inclusion of audio-visual stimulation during a period of extreme physical and mental stress. “And if I position a mirror on the opposite wall – you can watch too!”

And so it came to pass. Almost exactly three hours, sixty-two minutes, and ninety seconds later, the S.S Bargebutt found itself in the grasp of an invisible monster. Joints creaked, bulkheads bristled, and transfer hoses wobbled horrendously as the vessel was dragged across a sizable portion of the globe by the racing volcanic shockwave. Up became down, left became right, and somewhere in the middle seemed like it might end up on the outside. All in all the mighty sub was tested far beyond its builder’s design expectations, and was not found wanting. Regrettably the same couldn’t quite be said of its crew however. As promised by the earlier form of Tutu – vomiting abounded, and a great gnashing of teeth could be heard throughout its endless corridors. Recriminations were commonplace, and many a rodent said things that they feared they might later regret.

In his cabin, Wetpatch was riding the storm quite well. Although he was bouncing around the room on the end of his spring like an expiring house fly, his brain remained active, and his stomach surprisingly calm.

Kevin was doing less well. The two bolts turned out to be made of inferior shit-metal, and the braid had been manufactured in a country where quantity was generally preferred over quality, and had duly snapped at the first serious tug. The education computer now lay in the corner with both its display unit and solitary ‘eye’ camera facing the ceiling. Its tracked wheels spun helplessly, and oil was leaking from places that Wetpatch never imagined Kevin possessed. But like the obedient automaton that it was, Kevin continued to play Rat Trek, Episode Seven of Season One, ‘With Winter Comes a Nose Warmer’. And Wetpatch was doing his best to watch it even though Kevin couldn’t help itself from rolling from side to side as the vessel bucked and weaved like a conquistador’s cavy.

It was just as (on screen) Mister Splatt had finished explaining some complicated science stuff to an uncomprehending Captain Perp that a thought suddenly intruded upon Wetpatch’s enjoyment of the action adventure television show.

“Hang on a minute.” The adolescent hamster cried out over the general cacophony made by a ship that was being pounded to within microns of tolerance, “That can’t be right!”

And he wasn’t talking about Mister Splatt’s pseudo-science either. But it was to be another hour before the storm had passed, and he could put his resulting inspirational theory to Professor Desmond…

“Fluff and bollocks!” The wild-furred scientist bellowed moments after listening with great intensity to Wetpatch’s worrying tale and his most recently posited theorem.

“Fluff and bollocks?” Inquired Sally as she strode into the control room, paw in paw with Mister Ho, and with Amy in tow. “It’s not like you to swear gratuitously.”

Desmond apologised and then explained exactly what it was that had brought out the beast in him.

“I don’t think that Tutu was really Tutu.” He began, which confused the heck out of all three listening hamsters.

“What Professor Squealch means is…” Wetpatch decided to explain upon Desmond’s behalf, “…due to some unexplained interference from either the high pressures experienced in the depths. Or possibly somebody using an illegal cell ‘phone. Or perhaps electromagnetic activity from deep within the planet’s crust – his time machine didn’t send me back to the right time and place.”

“But…” Sally began; but she quickly realised that she knew next to nothing about temporal translocation, and duly shut her gob.

“But…” Amy tried more successfully, “…if it wasn’t the proper Tutu, in the proper place, at the proper time: Who was he, where was he, and when?”

The question had been succinctly put, and Roman, who had been snoozing beneath a pile of laundry, openly applauded her before joining the group.

“We think,” Wetpatch continued, “that I was diverted through a sub-atomic maelstrom into an alternative dimension in which everything appeared to be exactly the same as this one. But we can’t be sure that it actually was the same – so now Professor Squealch is all worried about Tutu again. He thinks he might be dead!”

“Fluff and bollocks!” Ho verbally ejaculated. “Some real bad shit!”

Indeed it was ‘some real bad shit’. “If our conjecture transpires to be proven,” Desmond came close to wailing, “then we can’t even be certain that Wetpatch is the same Wetpatch that we sent through time. And he can’t be certain that we’re the same bunch of miserable rodents who sent him. Oh this is unbearable: I’ve never felt more out of my depth – even when compared to that time when I went potholing with Tutu and Horatio Horseblanket, and there was a cave-in, and the river began rising, and we had to grasp the tunnel roof with our incisors, and converse through our nostrils!”

For several moments the situation looked extremely grim. Then Wetpatch had an idea…

“Send me back again.” He suggested chirpily, “Only this time I’ll take a camera. We can check the resulting photos for anomalies after I get back.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Well what a load of sci-fi cliches and quasi-scientific bollocks that was. But it was fun too, wasn’t it? Unbelievably this book is still for sale at most e-book retailers. They don’t give up, do they! And neither should you. Visit the sidebar or Tooty’s Books Available Here beneath the header, and buy it now. Like straight away. Immediately. This instant. You know it’ll be little money spent well. Bargain of the week.

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (episode two)

Meanwhile, in a place that was inconceivably distant from that beleaguered planet, the ageing space vessel, Gravity Whelk, illuminated by the nuclear fires of a nearby star, hung relatively motionless in deep space…

And aboard it, sitting at an observation window, Folie Krimp – co-owner of the vessel…

…recalled how that situation came to be. How he and his friend, Placebo Bison, were gifted the unwanted ship by the Captain of the Brian Talbot, for their sterling work in reuniting the people of Earth’s ruined identical twin planet with their ruler, Princess Cake of Potwell…

But that had been almost three weeks ago; and now Folie wasn’t quite so sure that he should have accepted the gift. At that moment Placebo joined him upon his seat…

He dared voice his concerns to his huge polystyrene pal.

“Yes, I know what you mean.” Placebo replied. “It’s like this ship isn’t really suited to us. It’s as if we’re merely temporary caretakers. Why, only last night, I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open…

…but when I went to lay upon the bed that you designated as mine, I was suddenly aware that it had never been designed for me; and that I was not its first occupant.”

“Oh.” A surprised Folie responded. “I always sleep like a log.”

“Hmmm,” Placebo said as he nodded, “I’d noticed that. I can hear your incessant snoring through the partition wall – or ‘bulkhead’ as it’s known aboard ship. But then you’re an earplug. Actually you’re a yellow earplug. The bed was designed specifically for a yellow earplug – namely Beaufort Skail, who happens to look remarkably like you. And, very sensibly, you tore down the posters too: that probably de-personalised the room for you. But for me that is a step too far. My room belongs to Richter Skail: and I can’t forget that…

   

So I spend my nights standing at the porthole, looking into the depths of infinity, until I’m so whacked out that I collapse on the deck and fall asleep.”

“Oh dear, Placebo.” Folie commiserated with his friend. “How absolutely sodding ghastly for you. But your bedroom isn’t the cause of my doubts regarding the suitability of this vessel. No; for me the perfunctory ‘bridge’ is what rattles my cage…

“I know exactly what you mean.” Placebo hurriedly agreed. “Even when we’re rushing through a dense, foggy atmosphere on some uncharted planet, it never feels like we’re really involved. That we’re just passengers. But that’s what comes with having an auto-pilot that flies the ship for us.”

This time it was Folie who ‘hummed’. He followed it with: “Well that might have suited the Skail Brothers: but it doesn’t suit me. Let’s go there now: I wanna show you something.”

It took several minutes for the two young would-be adventurers to shuffle along a couple of corridors and down two flights of stairs to the forward observation window – or ‘bridge’…

“What do you see?” Folie asked.

“Uh…space; stars; um…” Placebo answered

“And what don’t you see?” Folie inquired…

Placebo’s silence told Folie that his friend recognised a rhetorical question when he heard one. “Controls.” He said. “Read-outs, screens, buttons, levers, knobs, interfaces of any kind. That’s what you don’t see.”

“We have the verbal interface with the Automatic Pilot.” Placebo argued. “We say ‘go in that direction really fast’ and that’s what the ship does.”

“Is that piloting?” Folie asked.

Again Placebo didn’t answer. Well actually he did; but it came after a long period of deep thought. So deep that Folie feared that the sleep-deprived polystyrene blob might have slipped into a coma. “The ship is old.” He said finally. “It needs a re-fit. It needs to be adjusted to suit our collective psyche. And I’d like a bed that fitted my huge frame. And a couple more toilets of course. An ‘en suite‘ would be nice.”

This was just the response that Folie had been praying to the Saint of All Earplugs for…

Daring a sideways glance he asked: “And where do we get an entire ship re-fitted –  bearing in mind that we have no swollen coffers to raid?”

Placebo’s deep thought bore more fruit: “There is only one place that I’m aware of that might perform this great act of kindness for us. A place that is ruled by a brave and wise leader, who happens to like earplugs more than a bit.”

Folie tried to mask the excitement building inside him: “Does this brave and wise leader sometimes wear a huge plume on the top of his lustrous golden head?”

“He does.” Placebo replied as he turned around…

He then added: “Autopilot: start the engines and set us a direct course.”

“Sure thing.” The disembodied voice of the Autopilot boomed. “But where do I set a course for?”

“Scroton.” The friends said as one. “Maximum speed!”

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Now The Real Work Begins

The opening episode of Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars used re-worked stock-shots. Today I began shooting originals and generic stock-shots with serious intent. It’s slow and sometimes frustrating. And, as you can see, a little cramped too…

It has been four months since my wife, Linzi died, and (as you can probably imagine) I haven’t really been in the mood (Tooty the Chef aside); but the bug is finally biting again. And, for the first time in my life, I don’t have to create the time to do it. If I feel like it, I just clamber up into that attic and get going. Here’s a shot from today’s work – as seen in the making-of shot (above). It features an (as yet un-named) engineering robot that has  been discovered by Folie just staring out at space from a view port set into the side of the Gravity Whelk…

As regards the Gravity Whelk: I can’t wait to start telling tales featuring that old tub again…

So hopefully you won’t need to wait too long for Episode Two!

Revel in the Ribaldry 23B

For this fabulously random extract from the world of the Hamster-Sapiens series I have delved into the hallowed cyber-pages of this magnificent e-book…

And very nice it is too – as you will now discover…

Felicity Bugler, Joan Bugler’s diminutive dormouse adopted sister, stretched hugely beneath her cosy duvet atop the bunk bed that she shared with the slightly rotund hamster. She listened minutely as tendons popped into their allotted slots, and joints nestled together in the time honoured way that young joints generally do. Then she sniffed the air, and came to the instant conclusion that her sister was absent.

Perhaps in any other household this situation wouldn’t have raised more than a slightly inquiring eyebrow; but this was the Bugler girl’s bedroom, and there had been no recorded instance of Joan ever rising from her bed before the trim and nimble Felicity did. Not one eyebrow even so much as quivered upon the pretty forehead of the female dormouse: No: – alarm bells rang loud and clear inside her head, and inaudible klaxons all but deafened her. She was off of the top bunk quicker than you could say ‘Horatio Indigo Transvestite Horseblanket’. A second later she was in the corridor calling Joan’s name in her most frantic manner.

Felicity’s immigrant gerbil mother, Brenda, appeared at her bedroom door.

“Felicity.” She bellowed in her strange accent that no one had ever been able to place, as she entered the corridor whilst rubbing sleep-filled eyes, “What’s you doing girl? You’s gonna wake them neighbours, and make ‘em all mad as heck. What you shoutin’ Joan’s name for anyway – aint she layin’ in that bunk of hers like some lazy tart kind’a thing?”

It took a few nanoseconds for Felicity’s reply to penetrate the gerbil’s sleepy brain.

“What?” She shrieked in alarm, “She aint in no bed? Her day-clothes aint been took outta the closet? She’s done gone outside with no knickers coverin’ her shapely hamster ass? Where’d she go?”

It wasn’t a rhetorical question, but Felicity’s expression told the middle-aged gerbil that it should have been.

“She been kidnapped?” Brenda offered.

Again the look from her adopted dormouse daughter.

“You mean she gone to that weirdo place in that other dimension kind’a stuff?” She suggested less hopefully.

“Can you think of any other plausible explanation?” Felicity asked – more in desperation than hope. “Or even a whimsical one?”

“But her knickers, girl.” Brenda tried to argue. “She don’t go nowhere without her sturdy cold-store kind’a pants on. Nowhere!”

“I know.” Felicity suddenly wailed, and tears began to form in her eyes. “It must have been some sort of terrible trans-dimensional accident.”

Then a thought struck. She spoke as the thoughts grew in both numbers and intensity…

“Let’s think – this is a socially rented apartment that belongs to the local socialist government: What could be different about this particular edifice that might cause Joan to have a trans-dimensional accident?”

Both rodents placed their metaphorical thinking caps firmly upon their metaphysical craniums; but after fifteen minutes of intense thinking, Felicity came up empty.

“Nada.” She said dejectedly, “I’m calling Police Constable Gravy: Perhaps he can shed some light upon the situation.”

“You just hold your stag beetles.” Brenda held up a paw to thwart Felicity as she reached for the wall ‘phone. “I just thunk of something.”

Moments later both rodents were hammering on the toilet door, and calling Joan’s name. Felicity tried picking the lock with the end of her tail, but it was too furry. So Brenda set about the hinges with her powerful incisors. Within moments the door fell outwards into the corridor, and they raced each other to be first inside. Naturally, being small and nimble, Felicity won, and duly tripped upon the new mat, and, with a wail of dismay, disappeared out of the open window.

“Felicity, girl,” Brenda called down to her adopted daughter as she struggled amongst the briars below, “You gone done forgot your own knickers too. Ya just gave the post-hamster a heart attack. But ya done good: Ya found where Joan went. Now ya can call that P C Chest guy to come find her.”

But Felicity wasn’t so sure. As she struggled to regain her modesty by tucking her nightdress between her knees whilst giving the aging post-hamster the kiss of life, she called back, “I don’t think so. I’ll tell you all about it after you’ve ‘phoned for an ambulance.”

Felicity didn’t actually explain anything to her mother until she’d called her boyfriend, Roosevelt Teabiscuit. Naturally the equally diminutive dormouse had rushed around to Brenda’s apartment, and was already unbuckling his novelty sporran as he walked in.

“Sorry, Roosevelt,” Felicity had said moments after Brenda had screamed in horror, “I should have told you that mum was here, and that I needed you – not for your amazing powers in the rampant non-reproductive sexual intercourse department – but for your equally amazing talent as a psychic catalyst.”

Roosevelt had duly apologized for being presumptive, and now they all sat around the dining table to discuss Felicity’s remarkable discovery.

“As I fell through the window I remember distinctly hearing the words – ‘Honestly, if you spent a little more of the church’s coffers on constructing roads, we wouldn’t be having this difficulty’, which in itself isn’t proof positive that Joan has crossed over into Prannick, but the reply – ‘Never mind that, just keep pushing: It makes your powerful buttocks go all shapely’ – kind of tears it. Those voices belonged to Darkwood Dunce and Quentin Blackheart. I’d recognise them anywhere.”

“You heard all this while you was fallin’?” Brenda squealed with disbelief, “But it only took one of them seconds. That kind’a thing don’t sound right to me. I’m tellin’ ya – you’s took a nasty knock on your noggin, girl, that’s what you’s done. You’s aint heard nothing but the post-hamster droppin’ to his knees and praisin’ The Saint of All Hamsters for the sight of your wotsit.”

As theories went Brenda’s was a very good one. Unfortunately it was also entirely incorrect.

“Mummy, dearest,” Felicity responded kindly, “shut the fluff up, and listen.”

She then made her proposal to prove that she had really heard what she thought she’d heard.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

There, didn’t I tell you it was nice! This book remains available at most e-book stockists. Some are mentioned on the sidebar and beneath the header in Tooty’s Books Available Here. But you can get it at all sorts of places in many countries of the world. If you liked the extract, you’ll adore the book. Oh yes: it’s also a bit rude – so no children to see it, okay? 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (episode 1)

SPOILER ALERT: This prologue contains information about earlier tales. If you haven’t read them, and don’t want to know what happened in one or two of them (in a very brief summarised form, that is) look away now!

Before the tale proper can begin, Dear Reader, you must first be reminded of just how the planet Mars became the Mars that the curator of The Future Museum of Mars – Frisby Mumph – so adores, and for which he would gladly give his life; his generous pension benefits; or tear off his famous old pressure suit and show everyone his bare buttocks.  It goes like this: Mars…

…is dark, cold, foreboding, and miles from anywhere. A world that was seemingly lifeless. So, in their infinite wisdom, those beings from the future who gave us the Museum of Future Technology…

…that fabulous emporium of technological wonders from the future that have been sent back through time for safe-keeping in the past – decided to build a smaller version on Mars  (just in case Earth blew up or something) and awaited the successful terraforming of the red planet, before they delivered any artefacts worth paying good money to see. So, for many years, the Future Museum of Mars…

…sat quiescent – awaiting the lifetime’s work of the aforementioned Frisby Mumph to come to fruition.  Frisby…

…enjoyed the company of his huge robot – Tangerine – and an idiot assistant, named Badgerlilly, whom he kept in permanent suspended animation. He also enjoyed going to the toilet. But most of all he enjoyed trundling about the barren landscape aboard his terraforming machine…

…with which he hoped to transform the planet from a dead, barren landscape, into a thriving eco-system. Although most of Mars remained utterly lifeless, some areas began to show promise. Tough, wiry mosses began to take hold…

Although Frisby was unaware of the fact, he had been under surveillance from the day he’d landed upon the red planet. He continued to remain blissfully unaware until Magnuss Earplug and his protégé, Yabu Suchs, discovered the ‘Muffins’ in a buried city beneath the rusty sandstone surface…

Eventually the native beings became allies of Frisby – reactivating their advanced scientific laboratories (that had lain inactive for millennia following the destruction of the Martian civilisation by a cataclysmic accident when the combined gasses, produced during a global farting contest, had been ignited by a cooker’s gas ring, the owner of which had forgotten to turn off whilst boiling an egg ) and setting to work on realising some of the brilliant ideas they’d been dreaming up before being forced into uncounted centuries of suspended animation…

One particular device came in jolly handy -at a time when the staff of the Museum of Future Technology were battling robots from the future for control of that vast edifice. The significance of the device was so…ah…significant that the Earplug Brothers were sent to Mars to see it for themselves…

Long story short – the device allowed earplugs to transit between quantum realities. But, more significantly for Frisby and the ‘Muffins’, it was discovered that it could also shift worlds between quantum realities. So they chose a better, more suitable Mars, and swapped their knackered old version for a nicer one from a different reality…

And for five minutes the future looked rosy. For the first time the light outside shone blue through the museum control room’s translucent walls…

But, unfortunately, they’d randomly selected a world that was in the midst of an ice-age; and soon Mars began to freeze over…

Soon the museum became entombed in ice…

And recent arrivals from Earth found themselves up kaka creek without a paddle…

Of course, the locals had never before seen snow, and (as they slipped and slid down the ancient citadel steps) they didn’t much like it…

Frisby and Tangerine were aghast and mortified. They wandered about in the snow drifts, looking for their lost customers. But without success…

More fortunately Captain Sinclair Brooch, of the Worstworld star ship K T Woo, arrived and released a volley of well-aimed proton torpedoes…

…which exploded beneath the ice…

…and melted it – creating a dramatic climate shift…

…that brought forth great horticultural wonders. The areas in which Frisby had been working so hard for so long, bloomed with native growths…

And following a period of incessant rainfall…

…the sole curator was delighted to discover that his hardy Earth plants were doing okay as well…

So, all in all, it was a happy ending. Or was it? Mars, unlike Earth, lies outside the ‘Goldilocks Zone’. The Sun is much farther away. Mars, despite its new look, was still a cold world: and, with every passing year since ‘The Miracle’, winters seemed to be getting longer and starting sooner. Oh flip!

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 23A

Well I seem to have lost my way slightly regarding which book should supply the next excerpt. So, in an attempt to bring you some of the most wonderful Hamster-Sapiens work available, may I present you with a random extract from this book…

Yes, the divine ‘The Psychic Historian’. The best book ever written in the history of the world. You don’t believe me? Read on…

Now one of the major tenets of Betty was coined from the words of a popular religious song of that era, which had been miss-transcribed by a probationary nun during the earliest years of the order of Our Lady of the Tilted Cervix. No one knows what the true wording of the ancient song was, but in her miss-transcription the probationary nun scribbled ‘When I get that feelin’ – I want sex on the ceiling’ and the ways of Betty were set (if not in stone, then certainly) in bold black print. The result of this error meant that the nuns of Our Lady of the Tilted Cervix then had to live up to their name by indulging the locals in high-altitude sexual intercourse.

Naturally there was no shortage of volunteers from a country plagued by internal strife and external war. In fact the recruiting office was so overwhelmed with would-be nuns that its recruitment officers had to beat them off with a sharp tongue and a big stick. Eventually a select number were then handed their habits, and duly packed off to the island of Impetigo. And for a while all had gone swimmingly. Then one day a nasty case of Poor Sore Willy was discovered in Deepest Jungle Land, and blaming the nuns for this worsening condition as it ran riot through the population, the convent was placed out-of-bounds by the elders of the nearby villages.

With no income and nothing to do, the nuns began calling the outside world upon their huge radio set. They searched the ether for inspiration. After weeks and weeks of twiddling dials they finally discovered what they sought.

Hamster-Britain had a severe shortage of fondant icing. What little could be manufactured domestically exchange paws for quite incredible amounts of Rodentos. It was beyond the pocket of all but the very rich, and if the situation remained, it was quite likely that the poor would rise up in some sort of confectionery revolution, and possibly bring down the government and behead the royal head of state. It was immediately clear to the nuns where their duty lay. They must save their country by the only known means possible: They must produce copious amounts of fondant icing, and ship it, by whatever means, to Hamster-Britain.

The first part of the problem was easily solved. They turned their creative talents away from inventing news means of sexual gymnastics – to the production of fondant icing. Sugar bearing plants were multifarious and many-fold: And beating them into a fine white paste-like material merely took physical effort. But the problem of transporting the resulting product to Hamster-Britain confounded them utterly.

“Fluff and bollocks!” The Mother Superior was heard to shout loudly from the privacy of her window in frustrated despair, “Arse holes and piles!”

But then fortune fell upon them from the sky – in the form of a lost dirigible pilot who had been blown off course by a particularly nasty gust of wind. His name had been Pilot Officer Brandenberg Dangerpimple. For a share of the profits, and some ‘sex on the ceiling’, he was willing to transport the fondant icing for them until either he was caught and hanged as a profiteer; the war ended; or he grew too old to either fly a dirigible or indulge in sexual intercourse.

“Marvellous.” The Mother Superior exclaimed, and threw up both her paws and the hem of her habit in joy, “But what might we do if any of those three possibilities were to transpire?”

“I’ll teach my future son to fly as soon as his rear paws can reach the rudder pedals.” Dangerpimple had assured the chief nun. “And any other sons that I might acquire en route to an old age.” He added with a wink of his eye.

But that was all in the past. Now Brandenberg Dangerpimple was being taken upon a tour of the new fondant production facility.

“As you can see, Brandenberg, this line is entirely automated.” Sister Serendipity Clone waved an all-encompassing paw to include the interior of a huge bamboo shed, into which a considerable amount of modern production equipment had been recently installed.

Dangerpimple was impressed; but he also foresaw a problem. He smoothed back his head fur and released the air from his lungs in a single rush. “I think I’m gonna need a bigger airship.”

Serendipity looked concerned. “Is this a problem?”

“I’ll have to be promoted to Flight Lieutenant.” Dangerpimple replied. “That’s going to mean a lot of greased paws. I’m not sure I have sufficient funds…”

Serendipity smiled, then reached under her habit and brought forth a huge wad of Rodentos. “I was saving them up for something nice – but needs must and all that.”

Dangerpimple snatched the offered cash, and rammed it down the front of his flying trousers. “There.” He said, “All safe and sound. And in a secondary role they can protect my wanger from anti-dirigible fire as well!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

See? Did I not tell you the truth? Where have you read better than that? Naturally this book is available at most e-book stockists, and for the best eReaders – including the more famous Kindle, iPad, Nook, and Kobo. Wonderful tales; witty prose; and cheap as chips. What more can you ask for!

 

 

Another Earplug Adventure Perhaps?

The last time I shot a new Earplug Adventure photo was probably early in 2020 – maybe late 2019. As chronicled on this blog on several occasions, the intervening period has seen difficult times for me. I haven’t really been in the mood for anything creative. But today is the three-month anniversary of my wife’s passing, and as I made breakfast this morning  I found my thoughts wandering to a what-happened-next scenario for two of the main characters in the last tale – A Tale of Three Museums – those being  Placebo Bison and Folie Krimp…

So I took a peek at my library of unused earplug shots that are currently available for the next story. Sorry to say the catalogue is woefully brief. But those that exist might just inspire me with some ideas. Here’s a few of them…

 

I can’t let those go to waste, can I? Time to put on my literary genius cap and charge up those camera batteries, methinks.