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Revel in the Ribaldry 38

T’was March 2022 when the last Revel in the Ribaldry appeared in these hallowed cyber-pages. So I funk it was about time Number 38 poked its head above the parapet. No dilly-dallying; on with an extract from my favourite book of all time by whatever author you care to mention. Yes, it’s my…

Here follows an extract from Chapter Six – A Pocket of Empire. For the benefit of anyone who has never experienced this fabulous e-book, it is actually a collection of short stories that have been ingeniously linked together in one narrative by your host.

Colonel Goliath Van Spoon was Lieutenant LaMerde’s commanding officer. For a hamster he was remarkably large. Some had even described him as ‘hulking’. And also unlike those he led, Van Spoon was neither French nor hamster-sexual. He was Dutch, and he wore outrageously large clogs, and hung large photographs of polders, dykes, and naked females upon his office wall, just to emphasize the fact. And right now he was seated behind a cheap chipboard desk where he listened to his subordinate’s report.

“For sure. For sure.” Van Spoon would nod as each interesting piece of information was imparted.

“So you see, Sir,” LaMerde concluded, “The peasants are revolting.”

“For sure they’re revolting,” Van Spoon agreed, “They never wash as far as I can tell. I can smell the village from my billet – and that’s saying something, man: The latrine outflow pipe is situated just below it.”

LaMerde silently ground his incisors together. It was his opinion the Colonel was unfit for duty. His mind tended to wander into the esoteric at inopportune times; and his decision-making process was often interfered with by the consumption of alcoholic beverages that were supplied by the Hamster-British owners of the castle. As a result of this several patrols had been forced to fight their way back to the safety of the castle through besieging trinket-sellers; swarming insects; and the occasional gang of wandering prostitutes – only to be told to go back out again and knock properly.

Van Spoon appeared to make a decision. He said, “Let’s take this upstairs.”

LaMerde’s shoulders slumped.  ‘Upstairs’ meant a visit to Sir Cuthbert and Lady Agatha Strawberry-Nose.

“Should we really, Sir?” he tried to dissuade his commanding officer, “I mean – they’re hardly likely to give us sound advice, are they? After all it was the French Florid Legion who dispossessed them of their nice retirement home, turned it into a fortress, and forced them to live in the highest turret.”

It was a well-reasoned argument, but Van Spoon would have no truck with it. “For sure I’m thinking that you don’t trust our reticent hosts, LaMerde: Is that because they are Hamster-British?”

LaMerde discovered himself speechless: He simply couldn’t believe that the colonel was accusing him of being racist. In fact he had an entirely different reason for wanting to avoid Lady Agatha Strawberry-Nose, but he felt that he wasn’t at liberty to divulge that information.

Van Spoon took his subordinate’s silence as contrition. “For sure I was thinking that. Well, Lieutenant, I have a little treat for you. Follow me.”

With that he thrust his chair backwards, hopped over the desk like the Olympic hurdler that he’d been in his youth, and was out of the door before you could say “By the Saint of All Hamsters!”

With the fear that his career with the French Florid Legion was in jeopardy, LaMerde followed in haste.

A few minutes later Van Spoon and LaMerde had climbed the long spiral staircase to the living quarters of the elderly Hamster-British citizens – Sir Cuthbert and Lady Agatha Strawberry-Nose. Van Spoon rapped sharply upon the soft balsa wood door. It gave alarmingly beneath his meaty knuckles, which resulted in what appeared to be permanent, and rather unsightly indentations. He noticed this, and immediately stepped back. “For sure this soft wood gives alarmingly beneath my meaty knuckles.” He said – before lifting LaMerde from the ground and depositing him directly in front of the door.

It was not a moment too soon for Van Spoon: The door fairly whipped open as though it was attached to a powerful elastic cord with a nasty temper.

Lady Agatha’s face appeared in the door frame. She regarded the indentations left by the colonel’s knuckles. Then she looked at LaMerde who stood before her with a sickly smile upon his hamstery face. For a moment it appeared that she might explode in anger, but then she caught sight of LaMerde’s whiskers as they shook violently with trepidation inside his gargantuan hood.

“Serge!” The plump aristocratic female hamster pulled the lieutenant to her heaving bosom, and hugged him close, “Why you naughty male.” She admonished cheerfully, “You’ve been going under-cover with the natives again. One of these days they’ll catch you – and do all sorts of ghastly things to you. Oh I couldn’t bear it: I might never see your handsome face again!”

Van Spoon could see that his subordinate was uncomfortable. In fact he noticed that he wasn’t actually breathing anymore, and was turning a nasty shade of blue.

“Madam,” he said as he extricated the female’s fingers from around the slender frame of the junior ranking officer, “we are here to ask for your husband’s advice.”

Naturally Lady Agatha complied: To have refused would have been a terrible social faux pas. And so the two Legionaries were ushered into the presence of the castle’s true owner.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

This book – amazingly – remains on-sale. You can link to the better-known vendors via the Tooty’s E-Books Available to Buy Here page. It’s not expensive either – despite being the best book in the world. Oh, and it’s rude too.

 

Complete ‘Veil of Shytar’ Absolutely Free!

Yes, it’s that time again. That time when I give away the latest e-book in PDF form for you to either read on-line or download for home consumption. And that e-book is (of course) The Veil of Shytar. So just click on the cover image and it’s all yours to enjoy and (possibly) pore over and discuss its intellectual merits and nice pictures. In fact, should you be a university student or similar, perhaps you could write thesis on the evolution and development of the Earplug Adventures from early stream-of-consciousness witterings to the literary genius you see today – or something along those lines. But I digress: if you know what’s good for you, click that cover now. Read something unique!

Earplug Adventures: The Veil of Shytar (part 29)

If the Earplug Adventures were the NFL, this would be the last regular season game. Only the  Playoffs to come… 

Meanwhile high above them, the remnants of the Veil of Shytar appeared to be dissipating…

“Would you look at that!” Augustus Pronk exclaimed as his mauve companion looked across at him with an expressionless…er…expression

…“That would have been you – if we hadn’t dragged you away in an empty catering-sized tofu canister!”

“You have my gratitude, Augustus.” Mister Mauve replied. “But now that I exist outside of the artificial realm of the Veil of Shytar…what am I going to do?”

“I expect I’m officially decreed as deceased.” Pronk wagered. “The wife has probably re-married, and the kids have grown up. I still can’t stand the thought of living in a city again: so how about we live together in a cave somewhere? Failing that – a tent or beneath a tree or hedge – after they’ve grown some, of course. I look forward to seeing hedges: I’ve only ever read about them.” 

Mister Mauve might have replied to this kind offer of a life shared, but before he could, Bubbles yelled:

“Look: the veil: it’s faded away completely!”

And it had too!

Now only a brown dwarf star remained.

“Are you sure that’s bright enough to warm your planet?” Barclay asked Pronk doubtfully.

“Well if it isn’t,” Pronk replied, “we’d better get used to wearing snow shoes.”

“If that should happen,” Bubbles reminded Barclay, “the Goosewing Grey can always return with its gravitonic multiplicitor and move the planet formerly known as Worstworld to a closer orbit. I wonder what they’ll re-name it.”

“Don’t know: don’t care.” Pronk said to this. “What I am interested in is returning to my world: I’ve been gone a long time you know – and a male earplug can stand only so much gentle surf breaching upon sandy beaches.”

“You didn’t like it?” A surprised Mister Mauve asked.

“Not after Year Five.” Pronk replied. “If that cliff had been any higher, I swear I would have thrown myself from it. No, if I ever live beside water again, it will have to be very still – like a huge placid lake. Yes, that’d be nice.”

Pronk then addressed the earplug couple:

“Can you take me down there? I rather fancy to reconnoitre for somewhere to live. Maybe a cave. Maybe an old abandoned shack. Can we go?”

Well neither earplug at the controls could think of one good reason not to, so a few minutes later…

…the Prowler swept across the sandy desert upon which Fort Dunderhead stood. Already the Seventh Cavalry had begun their first patrol.

“I wonder what they expect to find.” Bubbles said.

“I imagine they’re just going through the motions.” Barclay opined. “You know, waiting to be told what to do by the central government – when it gets itself organised. It could take a while. Of course if they find any of that star material that made its way past the veil…well they could be in the money.”

Such was the vessel’s speed that by the time Barclay finished his lecture, it had carried them miles away…

“Barclay,” Bubbles chirruped excitedly, “that looks like open water. I’ve never seen it before. It must have been forced up by those huge impacts.”

“Didn’t you want a lake-side residence, Augustus?” Barclay inquired of the sole native present.

“As long as it isn’t brackish.” Pronk replied. “Can’t stand the taste of salt.”

Fortunately Bubbles had scanned through the user manual for the Prowler, so she was able to use the sensors to determine the salt content of the water below. “Looking good,” she said finally, “Wanna land?”

Shortly the Prowler’s engines cooled as the foursome disembarked and stood upon the unusually natural-coloured soil of Worstworld…

“This’ll do nicely.” Pronk said as he looked about him. “Yep. I noticed a small town as we flew over: it reminded me of Busted Gut. I know a few guys there: they should put me up for a while until I can find my feet, so-to-speak. You coming, Mister Mauve?”

Mister Mauve sniffed the air. “So this is reality, is it?” he said appreciatively, “Methinks I’ll sample a little of it. Yes, I will accompany you Mister Pronk. We can regale the citizens of Busted Gut with tales of the Veil of Shytar. That should pay for our supper – and breakfast too – just as long as it’s toast and not tofu.”

So Bubbles and Barclay made their farewells and promised to keep in touch, then blasted skyward again…

“Well you had your little adventure on Worstworld.” Barclay said as the Prowler gained altitude…

…”do you think it’s time to go home and face the music?”

In the name of clarity Bubbles asked:

“The Star Chamber, you mean?”

“Sir Loftus Pupe and all the other Chamber Pots.” Barclay said carelessly. “After what we’ve seen and done, I hardly think they are going to worry us any.”

“You’re right, Barclay,” Bubbles replied as the Prowler regained the freedom of outer space…

…”We’ll just say goodbye to Bonzer and the Goosewing Grey, and then be on our way.”

And that’s exactly what they did…

“Bye, Captain Dragonsrectum,” Bubbles called over the radio, “have a nice trip back to Scroton.”

“Safe journey, brave earplugs.” Bonzer replied. “May good fortune fill your sails.”

“Metaphorically speaking.” The Science Officer added in the background.

And they were gone – both ships disappearing into entirely different hyper-space conduits to entirely different destinations.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Next up will be the epilogue. But until then, shots of particular note are: 5, which began life as a sheet of insulation material that I burnt with a heatshrink gun, then placed upon a sheet of translucent plastic through which I shone a light. 6 is two slices of wood that I cut from an interesting length of 4×2, sandwiching a sheet of completely different insulation material. I’ve had the shot ready for at least three years; finally it gets its day in the spotlight. And 9: for this shot I needed something roughly spherical and with an interesting surface to represent the night side of Worstworld. Tooty the Chef came to the rescue by supplying a pleasant buttock.  As everyone knows, furry bums create convincing cloud patterns.

Isn’t It a Bloody Nuisance…

…that when the time comes for me to upload the free e-book version of The Veil of Shytar to this blog, WordPress won’t allow it in EPUB form? PDF does the job – just about: but look how it might appear as nature intended…

It’s just not the same, is it? Of course you could try downloading the PDF and then use an on-line app to convert it into EPUB: but I wouldn’t guarantee the result. It’s a bummer, so it is.

Earplug Adventures: The Veil of Shytar (part 11)

Good news: the ‘other stuff’ I’ve been doing is complete. I’m physically knackered, and my bank account has taken a pummeling, but the result is more than satisfactory. My lovely Fantic now has a winter abode. But enough of that: on to more important matters – such as the next episode of The Veil of Shytar! What a terrible title, by the way. I chose it because it sounded dramatic and incredibly naff. In fact I gave it that title before the actual Veil of Shytar existed. I had to quickly think of something. Naturally success blossomed, thanks in no small part to a multi-coloured anti-insect  curtain that I put up at my back door during the warmer months. Strange, isn’t it, how inspiration comes. I’d like to think it was genius.

Again, two days were to pass before Bubbles and her navigator were invited back to the hangar. This time they were surprised to be confronted by the only surviving artefact from the fabled star ship – Ship Number Fifteen…

They now found themselves sitting in the actual scout ship, flown by Atcherly Speakin and Quentin Hearthrob that shot down a hyperspace pirate attack craft on its first patrol.

“I don’t recall the previous pilots wearing silly hats.” Barclay noted.

“Those aren’t silly hats.” A slightly mischievous Pansy replied. “They are safety helmets: aerodynamically designed to cut through the air with the greatest of ease, whilst protecting their wearers from insect impacts and other assorted nasties. You must wear them: Health and Safety insist.”

This time around Barclay stayed his eagerness. “The ship is yours.” He said to Bubbles.

However, on this occasion, both pilot and navigator would require lessons on a flight simulator…

 “Flipping heck, Bubbles,” Barclay complained. “I can’t even fly a simulator.”

“That’s okay,” she replied, “You’ve got me. You’ve always got me.”

Finally, following hours of intense concentration and uninterrupted practise, Bubbles and Barclay donned their silly hats / safety helmets; climbed aboard the dusty old flying machine; closed the canopy; and kick-started the reluctant engine into smoky life…

“Whoa,” Bubbles cried out as the engineers stood nearby and watched nervously, “I think we need to blow the cobwebs out of this thing.”

“Try flooring the throttle.” Barclay suggested.

Bubbles didn’t hesitate. Within seconds of the pedal having met the plush carpeting in the foot well, the fuel system cleared and an incandescent eruption…urr…erupted from the drive units…

“That’s got it.” Bubbles said as her eyes narrowed to take in the information offered by the dials and read-outs before her. “Thanks Barclay: I’m glad you’re along; I couldn’t do this without you.”

Barclay didn’t quite know how to respond to Bubbles’ gentle words. “Um, yeah,” He managed. “You wanna take it up?”

“Yes, thank you, I think I will.” Bubbles responded. “Hold tight Barclay: I’m going for a vertical climb out.”

Barclay had just enough time to check his seatbelt, before this happened…

“Oooh,” the short Punting-Modesty engineer said appreciatively, “panache aplenty.”

“Otherwise known as showing off.” Pansy replied. “But very impressive, I must admit.”

Further comments on Bubbles’ piloting skills were lost in the sonic boom caused by the scout ship roaring away across the rooftops of Lemon Stone…

Both Pilot and Navigator cried out with the obligatory, “Wheeee!”

Then it was out across the pea-farming region in the foothills – and the plain beyond…

…where pea farmers – returning home from their fields for a sandwich and a wee – waved good-naturedly.

Soon, though, Bubbles found this form of flying to be slightly dull. “It’s not much of a challenge, is it?” She said to Barclay when he queried her complaint.

“Um, you could try flying nearer the ground.” He said.

It was a good idea, but Bubbles rejected it. “We might flatten some crops as we whoosh by.” She explained. “Some of these pea farmers have subsistence levels of income. They run very close to the wind economically. I’d hate to reduce their chances farther by knocking down their pea canes.”

“Oh yes, of course.” Barclay replied. “That’s very thoughtful of you. I wish there was some way I could let those lucky subsistence pea farmers know how kind you are.”

Now it was the turn of Bubbles to be lost for a reply. So, to cover her awkwardness, she said:

“I know: let’s go shake a few boulders loose in the mountains!”

As a result of this idea, this event quickly followed…

“Ah, that’s much better.” She said as she completed her third barrel roll through a series of shallow canyons. “Much better.”

“Is it?” Barclay said as he fought to retain his breakfast. “I can’t say I’d noticed.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: The Veil of Shytar (part 7)

I told you Part 6 would be better – and I was right. You can trust Tooty. So check out Part 7…

Neither dared whisper, lest the Security Suite detect their presence. Instead they used semaphore. Unfortunately neither earplug was well versed in the signalling language. As a result tension levels between them were ascending at a worrying rate. So it was most fortuitous that their blind ramble along a multitude of corridors came to an end with the discovery of the Red Tower’s subterranean roller skate park…

…in which they had to hide from a patrolling RoboSecGua.

As Barclay peered around a futuristic concrete roof support, Bubbles whispered, “I can’t stand to look: tell me when it’s gone.”

Fortunately for their enterprise, the RoboSecGua failed to detect either their whispered exchange or their pea-like out-of-town aroma. So,  giving the robotic life-form a few minutes to place some distance between itself and the earplugs it didn’t know it was looking for, the aforementioned earplugs stole away to a service elevator and pressed the Up button – the result of which culminated with their arrival at the penthouse level…

 

“Ooh, blimey,” Bubbles said breathlessly as she took in the view from the highest point in the museum – nearly two kilometres high, “I don’t think I’ve ever been this high. Do you think we might suffer hypoxia?”

Of course Barclay wasn’t listening: he was too busy conducting a search. Eventually his search led the Punting-Modesty employees to a room, upon which the word ‘RECORDS’ had been stencilled inexpertly…

“Ah, this looks promising.” Barclay said as his eyes surveyed the room. “Records include blueprints, if I’m not mistaken.”

“Not if they’re disco records.” Bubbles argued. “I wonder if they have ‘Everybody Wear Your Disco Hump’ by Hambledon Bohannon?” 

“No twin-deck turntables or glitter balls.” Barclay replied. “We’re in luck. Now start looking for anything that looks kind of alien life-boaty.”

So they did. They even tried switching on an old-fashioned data retrieval device…

But it did nothing more than clank somewhere deep inside, before disconnecting itself from the power supply.

“There must be some dusty old shelves, full of stuff from all over and from the future.” Barclay said to this. “Keep looking.”

But not only were the dusty shelves free of dust: they were empty too…

“This coffee machine doesn’t work either.” Bubbles complained. “I bet it hasn’t been serviced in years. I think it’s in hibernation mode.”

Once again Barclay was in no mood to listen to Bubbles’ wittering, so missed her next words, which were, “Oh look, Barclay; a super futuristic computer!”

But when she screamed, “the front is coming down,” he allowed his lazy eye to swivel in her direction…

In an instant the ramifications of Bubbles’ outburst became clear to the orange earplug. A mere nanosecond elapsed before he joined her at the fabulous device…

The front had indeed come down – to reveal a solitary green button.

“It must be the ‘On’ button,” Bubbles reasoned. “I’m gonna press it.”

Moments after this rash act Bubbles assertion was proven to be correct. The super futuristic computer had activated…

“State the name of the blueprint you require.” It said in a sharp, strident monotone.

Neither earplug could believe their luck. “Alien life-boat.” They said as one.

“Retrieving.” The computer responded. “Complete. Please take the relevant SD card from the slot. Do you have a further request?”

“Ah, no – thank you.” Bubbles said as she slipped the SD card that protruded from the device and buried it deep within a secret, well-hidden pocket in her frilly knickers. “You can switch off now, thank you. Bye.”

A while later, having escaped from the Red Tower without being detected, Barclay led Bubbles, whose face had turned red with the exertion of their flight from the records room, towards the nearest Café Puke for a celebratory cup of crappachino and a cheese sandwich… 

But when they noted that the branch manager was in the act of locking up for the night, they elected to take themselves far away from the scene of the crime and await the morning.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: The Veil of Shytar (part 6)

Following on from Part 5, in which sod all really happened, Part 6 takes us forward – if only a little bit. Read on…

Naturally, by the time the coffees had stopped whooshing and gurgling, the illumination had dipped to eclipse levels…

Mary-Sue would have said, “Here ya go; get that down ya.” But she didn’t because her guests were deep in conversation and she didn’t want to break their train of thought. Then the lights dipped further…

Realising that if she tried to find her way back to the counter she might catch her shin on a sharp protuberance or fall over a ruck in the vinyl flooring, Mary-Sue elected to stay where she was – hidden in the shadows. Of course she didn’t mean to listen in on the conversation between Bubbles and Barclay, but she couldn’t help herself. In the few minutes she stood there she learned everything about their mission. She noted, in particular, their back-up plan of becoming Baristas.

“Flipping heck,” she said, sotto voce to herself, “I’m hanging on to this job by my fingernails: I don’t need no flipping competition.”

It was in this briefest of moments in history that Mary-Sue made her momentous decision:

“Excuse me.” She said from the darkness, “but I think I know of something that might interest you.”

She then proceeded to tell her customers of the arrival of an alien life-boat aboard the Submarine Space Freighter that – only a few weeks earlier – had been responsible for saving the museum and surrounding planetary surface from an artificially-induced ice-age.

“It’s real hot-poop, they tell me,” she finished. “All kinds of alien tech and stuff. I guess you’d probably find it in one of the secret UFO hangars. Here, I’ll draw a map for you, on this napkin.”

Well, for Bubbles and Barclay, it was like Happy Flids Day and the Annual Farting Contest had come together. Trying not to sound too enthusiastic, Bubbles said:

“Thank you, that’s very kind. I shall cherish this.”

Once the lights came back up, and Mary-Sue was able to make her way safely to the counter…

…she and the other Baristas watched as the out-of-towners quickly finished their coffees and got up to leave.

“Ooh,” she said to Jungle-Jake and Moyst…

…”I think I might have done something really silly. I’ve given them two earplugs some info what might be top secret. I could get shot for treason or something.”

“Best not tell anyone then, eh.” Jungle-Jake replied.

This was sound advice, but nevertheless she couldn’t stop herself from watching Bubbles and Barclay as they departed the Café Puke…

But then someone called for a slice of lardy cake and some chocolate covered raisins, and she forgot all about it.”

Chapter 3

Bubbles very quickly realised just how detailed and accurate Mary-Sue’s hastily scribbled map was when, in a matter of minutes, they discovered a corridor intended for the use of the maintenance department…

“Hey,” Barclay said enthusiastically as they turned into it, “I’m impressed.”

But a short while later, when they discovered the hangar bereft of UFOs, alien life-boats, or anything else for that matter…

…his good mood quickly waned:

“Perhaps I was a little premature.” Barclay moaned. “I’m not really very impressed at all.”

Of course Bubbles was disappointed too; but, being Barclay’s supervisor, it fell to her to rectify the situation. She thought quickly. Running an image of the museum’s exterior through her silicon brain…

…she recalled the existence of the Red Tower.

“Barclay,” she squealed, “I think I know where the curators would have hidden the alien life-boat!”

“You do?”  Her surprised subordinate replied. “Hey, no wonder they made you the boss. Where is it?”

Naturally Bubbles told him, and together they decided to wait until nightfall before making their incursion into the forbidden zone…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022.

Better?

Making the Earplug Adventures: Inspired by Toothpaste

When I bought a particularly expensive  tube of toothpaste, some while back, it was done – not for the quality of the contents – but for the inspirational shape of the tube. I could see, in an instant, as it resided silently upon the supermarket shelf, a new vessel for my collection of futuristic Earplug Adventure props. The result – once I’d added some miscellaneous vacuum cleaner parts that I found in the garden shed: painted with correction fluid; then reversed the negative, to make it appear dark – was the life-boat from Climatic Calamity…

Well, after that tale was complete, I didn’t really want to put the model aside: it had too much potential. So I stuck my thinking cap on my bonce and got a bit creative. In what form would the next Earplug Adventure manifest itself, I asked.  Who would the central characters be? Well there was a throw-away name mentioned in Climatic Calamity that was too good to miss. Ardent reader, Jayne noticed it. Bubbles Gloor. But who might Bubbles be? What was her reason to visit the Museum of Future Technology? Then it came to me: to steal the specs of the vessel that belonged to the strange triangular alien, Peggy. And why might Bubbles require those specs? Because she is an industrial spy who works for the Punting-Modesty Munitions Company of Lemon Stone – oft mentioned in the stories, and builders of military vehicles such as Valentine Earplug’s XL5 Facepuncher…

So I set to work adding a few more plastic bits from my parts bin; painting it vermilion and matt black; and making it look a whole bunch more ‘dangerous’…

…and The Prowler was born. I then created a couple of images that included it…

…like this flypast of Lemon Stone. And this shot of two prowlers in  high orbit above a brown planet…

But it wasn’t until I made this shot…

…that I had the idea for the next tale. Bubbles (and a so-far unnamed co-lead character) will fly the Prowler to a place that hasn’t been visited since Volume Two of Worstworld

That is a heck of a long time. It’ll be good to revisit the doomed planet. Will it still harbour life? Might the blue star that threatens it finally have done its evil work? Well we’ll see, won’t we? And it’s all thanks to a tube of toothpaste – the name of which eludes me. Funny how one thing leads to another.

Climatic Calamity (part 25)

In episode 25 you get even bigger bangs for your buck. And…ah-hem…a touch of nudity. Read on…

Far away, aboard the life-boat, the next explosion shone brightly upon the view screen…

Of course no one, with the exception of Peggy, wanted to witness the destruction of their ship and crewmate, so they looked away.

As the craft began to accelerate under its own power, the distant explosion grew in size and intensity…

“Uh-oh,” some unnamed crew member groaned as the explosion exceeded expectations by a thousand fold…

… “Something on the planetoid must have blown up too. Hold on to your hats!”

The next second that distant explosion became a very personal event. The blast wave threw the life-boat across parsecs of space, and stripped it clean of ablative armour…

But it survived – a testament to the skills of its builders.

Chapter 10

In the following days, Peggy taught the crew to maintain the vessel’s systems, whilst Celestino looked out upon an uncaring cosmos and revelled in the fact that nothing out there sold him the ‘truth’ about anything. Moreover, in maintaining his ignorance of internal affairs aboard ship, he was unaware that Erronious and Hellfire spent most of their time doing sod-all and mooching about the ship whilst picking their noses and scratching their bums…

Following necessary repairs, the battle-scarred life-boat finally got underway and quickly moved to supra-light speed…

However, just a few hours into their faster-than-light journey, a horrifying image appeared on-screen…

“By the Cyber-Saint of All Robots,” the Captain squawked, “It’s a huge hooded figure!”

The superbly-designed ship made an automatic avoidance manoeuvre…

“Oh-no,” Hellfire wailed, “we failed. It’s the Wonky Supreme Being. That’s it: we’re stuffed: he’s gonna be really miffed!”

But Celestino fretted not one bit. He already knew the true identity of the god-like being that appeared to thwart their passage. “No, Hellfire,” he said, “It’s…

…the real Supreme Being!”

“Hiya, Guys.” The Supreme Being’s massive voice rattled from the ships audio system, “Okay if I come aboard?”

Naturally the creator of Earplugdom didn’t wait for permission. A split second later he was amongst them – and he wasn’t alone…

“Ta-da,” he yelled. “I figured you’d miss this little guy; so I pulled it out of the explosion before it became part of it. Hey, what do you think about my miniaturisation? Look, I’m almost a tiny as you. Of course I’m not commensurately puny too: I’m still big-bad-me.”

Of course everyone was surprised and thrilled to have the Catering Assistant back with them. But the Captain openly questioned the Supreme Being’s motivation.

“I’ve had minor gods scouring all of space and time looking for my evil doppelganger.” S B replied. “Couldn’t get a sniff of him. Then everything went arse-about-face at the Museum of Future Technology, and I thought, ‘Ah-ha, could this be the work of Wonky?’, so I hung around and kept watch. You guys led me to him.”

Celestino laughed. “And it wasn’t the planetoid exploding or sub-atomically unstable space tearing itself into constituent quarks and bosons that threw us across space.” He cried. “It was something you did.”

S B looked at his (truly) non-existent fingernails. “Me?” He replied. “As if… Actually I took advantage of the moment. As Wonky fought to stop the explosion with his pseudo-god-like powers, I nipped in and shoved a hydrogen bomb down the back of his underpants. When he broke wind in surprise – blammo – no more false god.”

The Supreme Being then began his farewells, but Erronious interrupted him:

“Say, S B,” he said, “when I was trying to annoy your doppelganger, I told him that his buttocks weren’t as meaty as yours. Was I right?”

Hellfire was about to apologise upon Erronious’ behalf, but the Supreme Being forestalled him: “Wanna see my bum, huh?” He roared. “Well check this out.”

This earned him a round of applause and cries of ‘encore’. Moreover, his brazen act proved that the real S B had far meatier buttocks than his pretender. He had other things too, but no one felt sufficiently qualified to comment upon them.

“Well I must dash,” his voice boomed as he disappeared, “I have a galaxy to run.”

So, as S B disco danced at supra-light speed on-screen, Celestino, the former burglars, and Peggy welcomed the Catering Assistant aboard – whilst the Captain informed the Second Officer that it would soon be taking over duties in the Café Puke on the next voyage.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

There, wasn’t that nice! But things go awry pretty soon in the next episode, so you’d better be there to see it.

P.S I’m very grateful to the Captain and it’s glowing brain: otherwise I couldn’t have used the naked Supreme Being shot at all!

Climatic Calamity (part 21)

For anyone joining the series here, this isn’t a serious piece about climate change. I don’t do ‘serious’. This is a fantasy set in an alternative reality wherein life is silicon-based. The central characters are…wait for it…EARPLUGS. Yeah! Read on…

Chapter 8

It took a while, but both Erronious and Hellfire finally gathered their wits and decorum…

Sadly they were less successful when attempting to remove the Wonky Supreme Being’s silly hats. In fact they still wore them when they eventually found the airlocks into the hangar area…

Whether it was the dry ship’s air, or perhaps the glue that held the hats to their craniums had a short half-life, no one will ever know; but once aboard the Drunkard’s Vomit again, the hats simply fell off. As a result both earplugs could make their way towards the bridge with a degree of pride in their appearance…

“We have to tell the Captain everything we know.” Hellfire said. “This is a disaster far worse than I’d imagined – and I certainly didn’t imagine meeting the false Supreme Being. He’s really got it in for earplugs.”

“Yeah,” Erronious agreed, “but we’ll leave out the bit about hanging upside down over Vacuum City and the silly hats, okay? Neither are important in the grand scheme of things.”

Hellfire was only too pleased to acquiesce to his partner’s suggestion. “Right on!” he said in a fair imitation of Valentine Earplug.

Moments later they encountered a crew member…

“You appear to have returned intact.” It said. Then scrutinizing them closely, it added, “and you appear to have a glue-like residue upon your heads. Have you been wearing silly hats?”

To which Erronious replied:

“None of your flipping business, Big Nose. Now take us to the captain: we’ve got some really urgent information.”

The robot, if nothing else, was of the rapid response kind. It took off like a supercharged zombie in search of living flesh. Erronious and Hellfire had to greatly accelerate their metabolisms in order to keep up…

So they felt a little light-headed when they arrived at the Robot Recharge Unit…

“The Captain will be done momentarily.” The Catering Assistant informed them. “Were you successful? You don’t look successful. You look…hassled.”

Erronious was about to reply in a defensive manner, when it became obvious that the recharge was complete…

“What?” The Captain said when the earplugs related their tale to it. “This is the worst kind of news that I’ve ever heard of. It stretches my mental capacity to the very boundaries of my design and construction. Are you certain that the False Supreme Being is responsible for the ice-age? I mean – you couldn’t have misunderstood him, or anything? Might he not be taking credit for someone else’s work?”

“You’re sounding desperate, Captain.” The Catering Assistant whispered loudly enough to make sure that everyone upon the deck could hear. “It’s time to face facts, whether you like them or not.”

“Yes, yes, of course,” the Captain said as it quickly recovered from both the surprisingly awful news and the rushed re-charge. Stepping from the machine it added, “I think we should plan for a worst case scenario.”

Hellfire was relieved that the Captain hadn’t inquired about the traces of adhesive upon their heads. He smiled faintly at the thought. Erronious had other thoughts though. He was wondering what a worst case scenario might involve – but he didn’t want to ask, just in case it was something really scary. So, instead of saying anything, he followed the Captain, the First Officer, and the Catering Assistant into a compartment that hitherto had been hidden from them…

“This looks terribly important, Erronious.” Hellfire said in a small voice that belied his confident criminal past, “what do you suppose it does?”

“Don’t know.” Erronious replied more confidently. “Let’s check out what the First Officer is doing.”

But, of course, the robot’s actions taught them exactly nothing. It didn’t answer their questions either. So they returned their attention to the others…

 

However it quickly became apparent that both robots were communing with the ship’s main computer. Verbal questions were out of the…uh…question.

Erronious spoke quietly, so not to disturb the robots:

“I wish Celestino was here. He knows tech stuff better than us. He might hazard a guess.”

“We’ll just have to wait until they’ve finished.” Hellfire whispered. “Where is Celestino anyway – wasn’t he supposed to be following us? You don’t suppose he’s lost, do you?”

“Unless he’s got the antidote in his back pocket,” Erronious said half-way indifferently, “I don’t care where he is or what he’s doing.”

Then, without a word from either servomechanism, the task appeared complete…

 

“All done?” Erronious inquired.

“Indeed it is, Mister Bosche.” The Captain replied. “I can now enact the Drunkard’s Vomit’s self-destruct sequence from anywhere aboard ship – or elsewhere using my cell phone.”

“A job well-done Sir.” The Catering Assistant congratulated its superior. “I assume my assistance was of value to you?”

“It was indeed.” The Captain replied. “Rest assured, should this mission be completed successfully, I will be looking for a new Catering Assistant.”

“Excuse me.” Erronious broke in on the robotic conversation. “Did I hear you correctly? Did you say something about the self-destruct – like in blowing us all to Silicon Valley?”

“Worst case scenario, Mister Bosche.” The Catering Assistant replied. “It would be reprehensible for any captain to ignore the possibility and act accordingly. If it proves necessary to blow this ship to…as you suggest humorously… Silicon Valley – that is what we will do.”   

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

What’s this, the Drunkard’s Vomit going the same way as the USS Enterprise in Star Trek 3: The Search For Spock? Surely not – the bloody thing has only appeared in two stories. What a waste. Oh, but we haven’t reached that point yet, have we: maybe it can yet be saved. Return for later episodes – like the next one, for example – to find out if our beloved shampoo bottle-derived vessel will survive the tale.

Climatic Calamity (part 13)

I’m not superstitious, but if a story isn’t working by episode thirteen,  I figure it never will. I leave you to judge whether this tale is the real deal or grot snot. Read on…

As though on cue, the Tong-Tong look-alike Catering Assistant stepped from the ship’s lower cupola…

“Good afternoon,” it said through its cheap and nasty forward speaker, “the Captain is wondering if we might be of assistance. Would you like to come aboard?”

“Oh please,” Erronious cried with relief, “Our gussets are still full of compacted snow!”

Chapter 5

Once aboard the Drunkard’s Vomit, both earplugs relaxed and began to luxuriate in the miserly nine degrees centigrade that the robots considered most efficient and comfortable for their complex artificial brains when going about their regular duties…

Whilst they travelled along a brightly lit gangway, Hellfire thought he should try to engage the Catering Assistant in conversation:

“Um…have you been a space farer for very long?” He inquired.

Although the robot replied, both Erronious and Hellfire thought they detected a hint of tetchiness in its demeanour:

“Straight out of the factory – into a bridge officer’s role – seventeen months past.”

“Oh, excellent.” Hellfire responded with false cheerfulness. “Well done. That’s really…um…swell. Is it nice? Do you like being a bridge officer?”

“I am a catering assistant!” The robot snapped.

Hellfire was confused. “I’m confused,” he said, “when you said you came straight from the factory as a bridge officer, I…”

“I am a catering assistant.” The robot interrupted rudely. “In the ship’s unused and totally superfluous Cafe Puke!”

Erronious felt instantaneous pity for the machine that had brought them in from the cold. “Café Puke, eh?” He said before Hellfire could put his foot in his mouth. “That’s quite an honour. Biggest chain of cafes in the Museum of Future Technology, they are. A lot of robots would give their third diode to work in ‘em. But they usually only allow silicon life forms to work in such important positions. It’s a bit…ah…racist, I know, but that’s the way it is. Say, after we’ve told the Captain about our plans, maybe you can serve us both a Café Disgusto!”

“Disgusto’s off.” The robot replied – too quickly for Erronious’ comfort.

“How about Defecated?” Hellfire offered.

“That’s off too.” The response came even quicker. “Now shut up: we’re nearly there!” 

And they were too!

“Sir,” the Catering Assistant introduced their guests, “From your right to left, this is Erronious Bosche and Hellfire McWilliams. They have important information for you. Now may I return to my duty station – I think I detected a small mould spore growing beneath the washing up sink.”

“You will remain.” The captain answered. To Erronious and Hellfire, it said: “This information: might it impact upon the current situation in which my vessel has been embargoed for having brought a dangerous infestation into the Museum of Future Technology?”

Both earplugs were amazed. “It certainly would.” Erronious replied with a small grin. “This is your lucky day: we’re gonna give you the chance to redeem yourself.”

Thereafter the two earplugs took turns to tell the tale of the ‘See-er’ – Celestino Candalabra – and what he had told them of the alien artefact that had let loose devastation upon the museum and its environs.

“Right.” The Captain said as they completed their tale. “I think I’ll call a couple of important earplugs: I need to run this past some real living beings.”

Fifteen minutes later, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger Earplug were listening to the same tale…

“Sounds great.” Magnuss said enthusiastically. “I’d like to come along for the ride, but I don’t like to steal other people’s thunder. In any case I’ve developed  bit of Housemaid’s Knee: I wouldn’t want to jeopardize the mission by being a fraction slow off the mark. But, ultimately it’s not up to either Hair-Trigger or me: you need to convince the Curators.”

So, another fifteen minutes later…

…Cushions Smethwyke, along with Pretty-Boy Plankton, Auntie Doris, Montagu, and Bubbly Salterton had it all explained to them. Naturally they gave the go ahead for the ship to launch upon its mission to find the antidote to the storm in the far away sub-atomically unstable region of space. But when Erronious handed the sodden napkin upon which Celestino had written the co-ordinates, no one could decipher the inky smears upon it.

“Oh-no,” Erronious cried with horror, “the compacted snow in my gusset has thawed and soaked my pocket. It’s unreadable. What are we gonna do?”

It’s electronic brain racing, the Captain of the Drunkard’s Vomit reacted like stoat with a red hot poker up it’s bottom…

“Catering Assistant,” it snapped, “you are familiar with the situation: take another robot of your choice and retrace the tracks of Mister Bosche and Mister McWilliams. Find this Celestino Candalabra and bring him here.”

“What?” the Catering Assistant’s inexpensive speaker grill almost overloaded into incoherence, “Dressed like this?” 

The Captain cyber-sighed. “Oh, very well. I hereby re-designate you as Fifth Officer…”

In a moment the Catering Assistant had transformed…

“I won’t fail you, Sir.” The Fifth Officer replied to his Captain’s questioning body language. “I’ll take along Shortarse.” It added. “It is of a smaller, less advanced robot type: I might need it for getting into apertures too small for my larger, more advanced body.”

“Good choice.” The Captain responded. “I have full cyber-faith in you. Be upon your way now.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

So, another trek across a snowy landscape. I do like my snowy landscapes you know. Come back for episode 14 to find out just how snowy that landscape is. And a few other things too, of course.

Earplug Adventures Greatest Hits: Distant Land

Because I possess an absolutely God-awful memory, I can’t remember what happens in my own books – including the Earplug Adventures. I was listening to the 2019 e-book, Distant Land, recently, utilising the excellent ReadAloud app, when I rediscovered a little  unexpected aside tale within the main story that made me giggle. Here it is…

She then went on to tell the tale of Yaki Hogwashi, a Geisha Adventure Team Leader, who (along with her latest recruit, Valerie Perkins) were standing at Geisha HQ’s window when the trans-dimensional disaster had struck…

Valerie was overwhelmed for a moment; but Yaki reacted with admirable alacrity…

“Flipping heck, Val.” She said. “How long has it been snowing now? Five – six hours? Perhaps we should go outside and check out the temperature.”

“Oh, Geisha Boss Yaki,” Valerie squealed, “my little wooden geisha shoes are totally unsuited to these inclement conditions. In short: my toes are becoming solid and are threatening to become frostbitten and gangrenous. Please let’s go back inside.”

Valerie’s timing couldn’t have been more…er…timely: it made Yaki consider something that hadn’t occurred to her, but should have…

“Flip me over backwards!” She exclaimed. “The sudden climatic change has addled my mind. I completely forgot the Adventure Geisha Team. They’re up in the mountains, serving green tea to some male business earplugs and dispensing other niceties and looking demure and pleasant. I suppose I’d better see if I can find them. They won’t last long in this weather – even with their kimono’s internal heaters turned up to ‘max’.”

So, without thought for her own safety, she raced to the garage and leapt aboard her armoured personnel carrier…

…which, without hesitation, she gunned out into the snow storm and raced away at breakneck speed…

“Hold on, girls.” She yelled against the incessant wind. “Yaki Hogwashi’s on her way.”

Fortunately the mountains stood a short distance from the museum, and soon she closed upon her destination…

Slowing to a halt, she dropped from the vehicle and began wading through the snow drifts…

“Weevil.” She cried. “Consumpta. Maureen. Where are you?”

She then paused to listen for plaintiff calls for help. Moments later she spotted her ‘girls’, lower, beneath her, in a crevasse…

“Oh, Geisha Boss,” One of them, who might have been Consumpta, cried hysterically…

…we’re down here. Our clients escaped via helicopter; but we were considered worthless scum and not worth saving. Fortunately their craft was caught in a waterspout and they were dashed against a mountain, where the helicopter’s fuel tanks ruptured and the resultant explosion destroyed it entirely. Heck, are we glad to see you!”

Yaki cared nothing for the absent clients: they’d payed in advance, so she’d lost nothing. But her team were another thing. “Hang on in there.” She bellowed.” I’m coming for you!”

And so the struggle towards salvation began. Many times they stumbled and fell back; but eventually…

…the girls clambered out from the crevasse. Weevil ‘harrumphed’ loudly from the tail-gunner’s position; then complained: “When I joined the Geisha Adventure team, I never expected to use pitons, crampons, and other climbing paraphernalia. My dainty Geisha clogs are utterly ruined. And I had to pay for them, out of my wages, too! You know, I’ve a good mind to quit.”

“Oh, don’t do anything rash.” Maureen warned her colleague…

“Indeed, Weevil.” Yaki said through a hidden smile. “It’s an awfully long way back to the Museum of Future Technology. Wouldn’t you rather ride in my nice warm armoured personnel carrier?”

Weevil might have been feeling disenchanted with her choice of career; but she wasn’t stupid. “Did I say ‘Quit‘? Of course I was referring to smoking. Clogged lungs play merry havoc with assailing precipitous rock faces and the like.”

So, moments later…

…Yaki was guiding her vehicle home. But conditions had worsened during the course of her rescue mission…

…and the motor struggled with frozen coolant pipes. Worse still…

…the deepening snow had sucked some of the oxygen out of the air – further reducing the efficiency of the carrier’s power plant. In fact Yaki was getting decidedly flappy in the undergarments department, as…

…her vision slowly blurred in the terrible conditions. But she thankfully gave up a prayer to the Saint of All Earplugs as her vehicle stuttered to a halt only slightly short of her carport.

“Quick, everyone.” She shouted whilst dismounting. “Get indoors, before our knickers freeze to our buttocks like superglue!”

Naturally no one wasted a nanosecond…

…and within five minutes Yaki had returned to Valerie…

“Well, Val,” She said – in far better frame of mind since the safe return of her Geishas, “now we can enjoy the snow. Let’s get outside and winter boogie!”

So they did…

…and they both enjoyed themselves enormously.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Of course this free e-book remains available in PDF form, and can be accessed by clicking on the following (out-of-date) cover image.

PS If you clicked it, you probably noticed that the more recent up-date cover image is vastly improved and more informative. Of course I’d forgotten that I’d made the improvement, so spent several nanoseconds in puzzlement. Age is not good for the brain. It’s not particularly excellent for the private parts either, but we won’t get into that right now.

Surprise Visit (part 16)

It could be that Surprise Visit is a little lack luster; or maybe Summer isn’t the best time to post stuff on the Internet; but, it seems to me, that this tale isn’t going down too well with the majority of my readers. Or, to put it another way, it appears that they are being turned off in their droves. So it occurred to me that it would probably be a good idea if I released the full PDF e-book now, rather than at the serial’s end. I will ruminate upon this. Meanwhile, for those who are diligently following the story (thank you), here is Part Sixteen…

Of course, the news spread throughout the museum like a wildfire. Almost instantaneously the Earplug Brothers convened…

The eldest brother, Rudi, spoke first:

“Okay,” he said, “we’re on the case. If there aint no fleet to protect the museum, we’re gonna have to go find the miscreants before they come visiting us again. Yo? Can you dig it?”

“Sho’nuf, bro.” The second oldest, Valentine replied without hesitation.

“Count us in.” The twins, Chester and Miles added a nanosecond later.

“I have a reputation to protect.” Magnuss said with a smile. “And a darned good ship in the Tankerville Norris. I’m game.”

A short while later, four of the five brothers had prepared themselves for the ordeal ahead and now posed for publicity shots…

Naturally, Magnuss had gone straight to Nigel, who, having taken the longest tinkle of his life, had conjured up a half-assed plan. Like the news of earlier, Nigel’s plan also swept through the museum – not so much as a wildfire; but more like a pedestal fan with the speed dial set on number three. It was enough to blow in the direction of K’Plank the Space Wanderer, who chose the arboretum in which to break the news to Auntie Doris that he had volunteered.

“Ugh?” Doris responded – her usual smile having fallen away like dead leaves in autumn – “But you have no armament. What good can you do? You’ll just get yourself killed – and with no effect. K’Plank, be logical: let someone else do it.”

“I can flit around and draw enemy fire from the other ships.” K’Plank replied heroically. “And it’s not like I’m totally unarmed. I bought several boxes of stink bombs from a schoolboy on Deneb Four. I couldn’t find a buyer for them here, so they’re just surplus stock. The acidic stench might even incapacitate enemy sensors and play havoc with their sinuses. Anything is worth a try. I must do my bit to protect you and the place you call home. It’s what any decent space wanderer would do!”

Doris didn’t know it, of course, but three of her nephews had already launched aboard the museum’s scientific Flying Saucer…

When the time came for K’Plank to join them, she (and several watchers in the balconies of the Grand hall) was there to wave him bon voyage…

Only moments later, Valentine had the Punting-Modesty XL5 Facepuncher streaking skyward…

As the Earplug Brothers climbed above the clouds, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger aboard the Tankerville Norris joined them…

Then, as one, the four museum vessels formed up behind the Buggeram Bay…

Even at the modest speed that the Scrotonite ship’s AI chose to carry them in the direction of the sea, just off the sewage outfall, it didn’t take more than a few minutes for the view of an alien Spatial Relocation Ring to hove into view…

“Don’t tell me, Walker,” Nigel said as he eyed the impressively massive device that could clearly hover with apparent ease above the azure waters, “we have one of these on the drawing board.”

Walker was slow to respond. After several seconds and an elbow in the kidneys from Beatrix, he replied:

“You signed the financial authorisation last week. The designer’s argument for it was that a ship didn’t need to traverse space, hyperspace, wormholes, transit conduits, or any of that old guff, to get anywhere. We would just send one of these, then simply enter its facsimile on Scroton, and be – ah, here, for example – in the blink of an eye. Ships wouldn’t even need to make orbit. In fact you wouldn’t need space ships at all: just aircraft.”

“I thought it looked familiar.” Nigel all but mused to himself. To Walker he said:

“So we’ve been beaten to the punch yet again. Someone has very good spies on Scroton. But, tell me, who could possibly pass as a cable end – for certainly no cable end that ever drew breath on Scroton would work against their planet’s best interest. I’m completely mystified.”

Julian Prim coughed discretely. “Golden One,” he said, “if your ingenious plan is to succeed, we must invert the Buggeram Bay, and envelope our partner’s ships in cloaks that make them appear as we do.”

“Oh yes, that’s right.” Nigel replied. “It’s very important that the ring recognises us as bona fide alien vessels. If we can pass ourselves off as such, it will probably open and allow us egress from this planet, and ingress to the planet at the other end. Go for it!”

A moment later…

…five ships approached the mysterious Spatial Relocation Ring. Timing could have been better because Nigel’s bladder chose that moment to remind him that he shouldn’t have consumed three glasses of cream soda and a Bloody Mary before departure…

“Why have you two joined me?” He demanded of Walker and Bertram.

“Support, Sir.” Bertram replied. “Both spiritual and physical.”

“We don’t want you falling up the toilet, Sir.” Walker added.

After a difficult visit to the loo, finding their way back to the bridge was kid’s stuff. Once settled into his chair, Nigel noticed an incongruity:

“With the ship inverted, why is the screen the right way up? It boggles my eyes.”

“Something to do with the refresh rate of the HD screen, Sir.” Fermin answered Nigel. “It gets all wobbly if it’s turned upside down.”

“So it’s not my blood rushing to the top of my head?” Beatrix inquired.

“Could be, Ma’am.” Fermin replied. “I wouldn’t discount any possibility. Oh, no more time for idle chat: here we go!”

Initially, it appeared that Nigel’s plan was…uh…going to plan: but when the Buggeram Bay and the Tankerville Norris entered the event horizon simultaneously…

…the Spatial Relocation Ring responded in a most violent manner – snapping shut and barring the way for K’Plank and the Earplug Brothers. All three vessels wheeled away in near panic…

Aboard the Flying Saucer, Rudi could barely believe his eyes…

Chester and Miles looked away in fear that they had lost their youngest brother.

“It’s okay, guys,” Rudi called out. “The Tankerville Norris and the Buggeram Bay made it through!”

However it wasn’t all good news. Their sensors had detected a rocky island directly beneath the SRR.

“Look, bros, it even has a Café Puke outlet.” Rudi cried out in glee. “Let’s go drown our sorrows in a ghastly mug of brown muck!”

Valentine had spotted it too. Without hesitation he ‘zoomed’ down to take a better view…

“Yup,” he radioed the boys and K’Plank, “it’s sho’nuf open, and it’s happy hour!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

That was a truly international extract – with ‘real’ backdrops coming from England, France, and Spain. I certainly get out and about shooting the Earplug Adventures!

Surprise Visit (part 13)

Are you enjoying Surprise Visit? If so, please leave a comment in the ‘comment’ box. It should go something like this: “Yo, Tooty, what a groove.” or “Hey, man – I can dig it!” Or something similar – such as “Divine, darling!” or “Absolute bloody genius.” Or, “I nearly wet my pants, it’s so good.” The choice is yours. Now on to the next extract…

Meanwhile, in the arboretum Café Puke franchise…

…the heroic earplug duo and their allies from Scroton were still in deep conversation. Outside – shooting in through a window in the back wall – Rupert Piles caught everything upon his mighty TV camera…

“This is good.” He said to himself. “I’ll be able to stretch this into a two-part docudrama. I might even win an award for it. Heaven knows I’m overdue one. Let’s hope no one gets the drop on me, like the aliens did on Nigel and his gang.”

Whilst important discussions were taking place in one Café Puke outlet; in another, which happened to be located at the edge of the nearby Wide Blue Yonder…

…a surprised pair of Baristas were…ugh…surprised to see Jungle-Jake lead Mary-Sue and Moyst into their workplace.

“Hey,” the taller of the two Baristas – both of whom were cleaning spilt coffee from a table near the back – cried, “what are you guys doing here? Has your café burned down, fallen foul of the Health and Safety Executive, or something?”

“Or have you been fired for rudeness and overt gum chewing?” The shorter earplug inquired.

Mary-Sue explained.

“I smelt some sugar cane.” Jungle-Jake added. “The pong led us here.”

“Oh yeah,” the first Barista said as comprehension dawned. “We had a load of sugar cane crystals in sachets: but no one bothers with the real thing, not when they can have nice white refined sugar. It was past its sell-by date. We’ve been burning it in an incinerator out the back.”

“If you wanna look around out there,” the second Barista said helpfully,” you might find a few sachets on the ground. We were having fun flicking  ’em at each other, and we couldn’t be bothered to pick them up. But, watch it, people take their plugmutts ‘round there to have a pee, so they might smell a bit iffy.”

Meanwhile the autofocus of Rupert’s camera found it difficult to see clearly through the futuristically pseudo-opaque glass in one of the café’s side windows…

More fortunately, the microphone experienced no difficulty picking up what the occupants of the café were saying to each other.

“Let me get this right.” Nigel was saying to Magnuss. “You never actually saw the aliens: they spoke through a vocoder-like apparatus, so you have no idea what they really sound like; they destroyed La Ciudad de Droxford as a demonstration of their power; they want your unconditional surrender; and they’ve given you two weeks to make your decision – and left you to think it over?”

Magnuss was happy with that summation. Then he thought of something else:

“Oh yes, they also left a huge ovoid ring. It’s hanging in the air, over the sea, just off the coast, near the sewage outlet. It’s heavily armed, has multiple layers of electro-magnetic defensive screening, and is the means by which the semi-fleet departed this region of space.”

Beatrix picked up on one of Magnuss’ terms: “Semi-fleet?” She inquired. “Might an alternative nomenclature for a small number of armed invasion ships be termed a ‘flotilla’?”

Magnuss thought about it for a second. “Yes, I guess it would.” He answered. “Yes, the ovoid ring was the means by which the flotilla departed this region of space.”   

Beatrix turned to her husband. “There, I told you so – when we blew up that shape-shifting sausage roll: there is a flotilla of our latest ship out there – and it’s kicking ass!”

Nigel didn’t need to be reminded. All his fears were taking on corporeal form. “Do we know where they went to?” He asked Magnuss. “You know, when they left via the ovoid ring?”

Magnuss fetched out his cell phone. He spoke as he did so. “We sent a drone in after the…flotilla. Before we lost contact with it, the drone sent this back.”  Quickly searching through its library of images with deft movements of his pinky-orange fingers, he produced this…

A collective gasp escaped the seven sets of Scrotonic lungs. “Weird Space!” The seven owners of the seven sets of lungs exclaimed in a hushed tone.

“Recognise the planet?” Magnuss inquired. “It’s brown all over, with no surface water.”

No one did: but Julian noticed something pertinent:

“It has an aura.” He said. “A glow, if you will. It could indicate a substantial cloaking facility. Large enough to hide the entire world, maybe. You said that their ships evaded your sensors? Perhaps this world is evading Scroton’s.”

Nigel’s fears doubled at these words. “You mean that there is a hidden planet in Weird Space that we don’t know about – that has a capacity to develop technology as well or better than we can? If I had any pants on, I’d probably be pooping in them as we speak”

Beatrix looked at Nigel. “You don’t have any pants on?” She inquired quietly.

“Forgot to pack any.” Nigel explained. “That’s why I chose the kilt. But enough of my wardrobe disaster: We need to act – and act decisively. “

Talking of acting decisively, in the Wide Blue Yonder Café Puke, Moyst, Jungle-Jack, and Mary-Sue had thanked the Baristas for their help, and were leaving the café – their pockets burgeoning with vaguely unpleasant-smelling sachets of unprocessed cane sugar…

So, the difficult facet of their task completed, now it was merely a matter of retracing their steps back to the arboretum; past the bamboo plantation…

…and finally to the café where Nigel, presumably, awaited his sugar…

“Pity we couldn’t find a mortar and pestle.” Jungle-Jake lamented quietly.

“That’s old tech.” Moyst snorted derisively behind him. “No one can expect a Barista to find ancient stuff in the Museum of Future Technology. I mean – it’s counter intuitive, aint it!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Right then, now it’s time for you to do your bit. Comment. Comment. Comment!

 

Surprise Visit (part 12)

No preamble: just story. Look, I didn’t even bother putting ‘An Earplug Adventure’ in the title. So on with it!

Chapter Four

After all seven Scrotonites had taken their turn at peering at the tiny picture upon Magnuss’ cell phone…

…six of them stood back and awaited their leader’s response. It wasn’t one of several they might have expected…

“I don’t like this coffee.” He said. “The sugar is refined. It’s very bad for me. I want pure cane sugar – freshly hacked and processed by hand, using a mortar and pestle. Barista’s go fetch it for me.”

Of course, by now, all three Barista’s had consulted the Internet on their cell phones: they knew exactly the degree of power Nigel might wield, and how important he was. Fearing he could have had them beheaded or excluded from social media, they begrudgingly complied with his somewhat unorthodox demand…

The small, mauve Barista – Moyst Towlet – led her colleagues from behind the counter. “Hey, this is great.” She said. “We’re getting paid to go outside in the sunshine. I can top up my tan. I used to work as a trainee manicurist and lipstick applicator in the arboretum’s artisan village: I know exactly where we can cut down some sugar cane. Let’s go!”

Once the staff had disappeared out of the door, Nigel whipped off his plume and tossed all the coffees into the sink, like the first-rate basketball player he might have been, had fate not decreed that he would lead a world out of ignorance and a dung-for-brains existence, into a technological and prosperous era, and said:

“A ruse, my friends. I had no wish for witnesses to what transpires hereafter. And I don’t like the coffee either. If anyone feels the need for refreshment, I’m sure Magnuss can oblige from his hip flask of ginger beer. Now to business.”

With that, Magnuss cast aside his Cossack hat and joined the others as they crowded around Nigel’s table…

Both Magnuss and Hair-Trigger smiled as The Golden One took control of the discussion:

“Those ships are of Scrotonic design.” He stated.

“Undoubtedly.” Walker Crabtrouser concurred.

Bertram Hisscod raised a hand. “They appeared to be flying inverted.” He said.

Fermin Gusset required clarity: “What, like upside down, you mean?”

“Exactly.” Julian replied for Bertram. “I knew there was something odd about that picture!”

“Why were they flying upside down?” Beatrix inquired, reasonably enough.

Faati thought she could supply the answer to that difficult question:

“They must have held the blueprints upside down when they photocopied the original design.”

“Of course.” Nigel bellowed as his fist slammed into the table top – threatening to shatter it’s futuristic melamine surface. “It must have paid merry hell for their engineers, when they tried to shoehorn in the interior of the ship. Imagine turning every deck through one hundred and eighty degrees – especially the waste pipes from the lavatories. If I had a hat on, I’d take it off to them!”

He paused for a moment. “Walker,” he said, “you looked shamefaced. What is it?”

Walker Crabtree’s inner embarrassment became visible. “I spoke falsehood, Sir.” He explained. “Earlier I told you that it was impossible for any species to develop and build a spaceship quicker than the engineers of Scroton. I was wrong. It was sheer racial hubris. The facts are undeniable. Other than their upside-downiness, those vessels on Magnuss’ cell phone are exact duplicates of the ship we arrived here in. I feel decidedly wrong-footed: I should have seen this coming.”

“Me too.” Bertram’s professional horror surfaced like a boiling mud geyser in an active sulphurous volcanic region, though less aromatic of course. “If anyone should have been on top of this horrendous security break, it should have been ‘yours truly’!”

“Self-recrimination will do us no good, gentlemen.” Nigel spoke loudly, but kindly. “We need intel. Magnuss, have the aliens made any demands of the museum’s curator elite?”

“Well…” Magnuss began.

Meanwhile the three Baristas had reached the region in the arboretum in which Moyst insisted sugar cane grew freely…

However, now they were there, her confidence waned alarmingly.

“Here we are.” Mary-Sue said cheerfully. “Did anyone bring something to cut it with?”

“I’ve got sharp teeth.” Jungle-Jake volunteered. “I can bite ‘em down.”

Moyst decided that it was time to ‘fess up’. “Er,” she began with less than total confidence, “I aint so sure this is sugar cane after all. I think it’s bamboo. My Uncle Chantra’s got something very like it at the bottom of his garden. They look very similar. We’ll have to look somewhere else.”

To her surprise, neither colleague appeared worried in the least by this information. “That’s alright, Moyst.” Jungle-Jake said. “It’ll give me the chance to live up to my name. You stay here; I’ll go sniff us out some sugar cane.”

With those words reverberating off the hollow bamboo canes that grew all around them, Jungle-Jake stepped from the walkway and descended into the foliage…

Immediately his sensitive nose began twitching – searching out the characteristic ‘spore’ of sugar cane. Unfortunately, Jungle-Jake had no idea what Sugar cane smelt like. “Oh bugger,” he said, “why couldn’t I have been raised in the West Indies – they’ve got lots of sugar cane there. Bananas too. I could have taken some banana extract back with me: that would have impressed that guy from Scroton. Not a lot of sugar cane in the Welsh valleys though. Hmmm, maybe I aint quite the right dude for the job I thought I was. Oh, darn it: why do I have to play the big ‘look at me, I can do anything’ wally? Whatta am I gonna tell the girls?”

Of course he had no answer to that. However, a split second into a huge raspberry-blow of self-loathing…

…he discovered that he could taste sweetness in the air.

“On the other hand,” he said to himself.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

P S: It may not seem it, at this juncture in the story; but the sensitivity of Jungle-Jake’s taste buds will become very important later on. Stay tuned to find out why!

PPS: Did you notice the coffee cups in the Cafe Puke? Attention to detail or what!

 

Surprise Visit (part 10): An Earplug Adventure

Into double figures. These extracts just keep coming. At least they will do all the time you want to read them. Thank you for that, by the way. Without readers, what would be the point of writing these tales? Especially since I do so enjoy doing it. Keep up the good work. Tell your friends. Let’s spread the word. Enjoy Part Ten…

Five minutes later Magnuss and Hair-Trigger stood upon the truncated Wide Blue Yonder, pressed up against their visitors…

“Sorry about this,” Magnuss said, “but we don’t want the aliens to detect our use of the matter transmitter. We’re using just one to carry all nine of us. Squash up. Squash up!”

Moments later…

…multiple flashes lit up the fake surroundings. A split second later, multiple flashes did likewise in a subterranean bunker beneath the real Museum of Future Technology…

“Okay everybody,” Magnuss said after everyone had felt themselves from head to toe, “let’s go!”

And, boy, didn’t they go! Magnuss set a blistering pace…

So fast that he and Hair-Trigger were soon gasping for air…

…and poor little Faati – the Queen of the Pygmies – was in danger of being left behind. But what she lacked in outright speed, she more than made up for in stamina. So by the time the flagging forerunners had reached the sole exterior viewing window, she had caught up…

“You gotta run really fast to lose a pygmy.” One of the earplug engineers present on the shop floor below said. “I always bet on them in a marathon.”

“Me too.” Another replied. “I bought my apartment with the winnings.”

Naturally, Nigel was more than interested in the alien saucers. Already an idea was forming in his illustrious head. “Can we go somewhere quiet where you can show me images of these alien swine?” He asked, yet managed to make it a command.

“Sure.” Magnuss replied. “I was rather hoping you’d say that. Just follow the signs.”

“Are you sure you want to take them to a Café Puke?” An uncertain Hair-Trigger asked of her husband…

“Can you think of a better place?” He responded. “The coffee is crap, but the ambiance can’t be equalled – especially with their latest Fifties Diner décor.”

At that moment, a short distance away, in the arboretum Café Puke…

…three Baristas awaited their next customer. It had been a quiet start to the morning, and thus far clientele had only occupied a few tables…

“Oi, can we really afford to keep that air-con running?” The pink female, Mary-Sue Wassack, said to the others. “And I don’t mean that in a fiscal sense: the museum is running on battery power you know. Okay, they’re very futuristic batteries, but they don’t last forever. Then this job’ll get really hard and sweaty. I do don’t hard and sweating – not unless I’m down the disco with a can of lager in my hand.”

One of the others – possibly the sole male Barista, Jungle-Jake Johnson –  might have argued that if they turned up the heat, what few customers they had would leave. However all three Barista’s attention was soon drawn to a face at the door…

“Ah-ha,” they heard Magnuss say cheerfully. “Stay right there. Don’t shut up shop, and don’t turn off the air-con: you’ve got V.I.Ps incoming.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

PS The cover to the free PDF e-book version is ready. It looks like this…

Judging from the cover image, that looks like a surprise visit we’d all like to avoid. Next time phone before you arrive: we can make sure we’re out!

A ‘It Features in My Book’ Wallpaper: Fictional Village of Brambledown

When I posted the first ‘It Features in My Book’ Wallpaper, I hadn’t planned to produce a sequel – of sorts; but nosing through my collection of digital photos, I found more that feature locations (from my recollections during childhood) that inspired scenes in this book…

Here is a shot that includes a part of the fictional village of Brambledown…

…which I thought made a nice wallpaper. But whilst I was bending myself to the task, I fiddled with a shot that features a location that is included in a specific scene from the book, which I present here as an extract. The locale has changed considerably since the sixties (the period from which I drew my imagery); but the general lie of the land remains pretty much as it was. The sunken lane highlighted here, featured in the first post.

An extract from Silent Apocalypse…

Since I was not present, the following part of this narrative must be second hand. It was related to me at a later date.

Night had fallen. Four teenaged girls, one of whom was Katherine Kingsbury – sister to Tom, and school friend of mine – huddled together in a thicket that grew upon the hillside that overlooked the village. They’d been abducted during the Wiltshire Rifles’ first foray into Brambledown. They rejoiced in the fact that they’d not been joined by others, but were greatly concerned about the villager’s welfare. As of yet they were unhurt and unsullied. None of them imagined the situation would remain that way forever. Katherine, bound at hand and foot, stared at the one young Rifleman left to guard them. What she hoped to accomplish she didn’t know, but if it made him feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable, then it was worth the effort. And she was pretty certain she was having some effect. Eventually he turned angrily toward her.

“Will you stop that?” He snapped.

“Will you set me free?” She returned his outburst.

He took a step toward her. “I’ll tell you what I will do…”

“Rifleman!” The voice of the Lance Corporal erupted from the surrounding shadows, “Remain at your post.”

The Rifleman threw Katherine a glance of menace, and resumed his watching of the village through the thicket. He spoke to the Lance Corporal, who had come to check the girl’s condition:

“Any chance of action tonight, Corp?”

The Lance Corporal glanced at the girl’s bonds before returning his attention to the Rifleman. “For you – or the unit in general?”

“Both.”

“No – and yes – in that order.”

The Rifleman’s whining voice betrayed his youth: “Oh, but Corp, I missed out last night too.”

The Lance Corporal was unmoved. “Tough. Shouldn’t be such a prat then, should you? Tell you what: next time we need a complete louse-up, we’ll call for you. Now shut up and keep your eyes peeled.”

“Thanks very much.” The Rifleman managed. “So we’re going in again tonight?”

The Lance Corporal was already departing. “If my plan’s gonna succeed, we have to. We have to keep ‘going in’ until there’s either no womenfolk left in the village, or we’re all dead. Whichever way it turns out, we are not leaving here empty handed. You got that?”

Katherine heard these words, and shuddered.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

As far as I know, this e-book remains available at several outlets, some of which are included on the sidebar via the book cover images, or on the Tooty’s E-Books Available To Buy Here page. And very nice it is too – if you enjoy genocide and disaster.

Wattpad Ditched

After weeks of relentless uploading, and half-way through this fairly wondrous tale…

…I said, “Tooty, you only have one reader: why are you bothering?”

So I quit. That was a lot of effort for no gain – spiritual or otherwise. And some of the writing on Wattpad is utterly execrable. Makes the Earplug Adventures look like Shakespeare. Phew, glad to be free of that lot. Still, it was an experience to discover that all the awful things people say about Wattpad are true. Where next, I wonder? Any ideas, anyone?

Revel in the Ribaldry 37

Time, methinks, for an extract from a Hamster-Sapiens book. If I had my way, I would have chosen to display the wonders that are The Psychic Historian; but that could possibly demean other fine works of hamster fiction, such as this one…

So, purely at the whim of randomness – or randominity, as I prefer to call it – appease your literary gut with this extract…

A waiter arrived moments later to inquire after Stubby’s requirements. Stubby recognised him as the former assassin – Malingerer Stench – and duly ordered a raspberry soufflé, which he was certain would anger the gerbil by reminding him of how he came to be living in Prannick, and in such a frightfully lowly social position too.

Felicity’s inquiring tilt of the head persuaded Stubby to explain that Malingerer Stench had once held the position of chief be-header in Sandy Desert Land, but had been lured to Prannick by the love of a travelling raspberry sales-girl, who subsequently left him, which forced the former death-merchant into a new vocation – that being bar-staff. Stubby hoped that by ordering a raspberry soufflé he was insulting the gerbil twice: Most obviously by the raspberry connection, but also by requesting a dessert – the spelling of which is almost exactly the same as desert.

“Oh, Primrose – you can be so cruel.” Felicity gently scolded the false harvest mouse.

“Stubby, please.” Stubby scolded in return. “You should only call me Primrose when my breasts make their presence felt. At all other times I should be referred to as Stubby.”

“Felt?” Brenda yelped and stood upright at the same moment, “You’s aint suggestin’ that my girl’s gotta squeeze your tits, is ya? Joan was thinkin’ you might be one of them lesbians: Girls don’t go squeezin’ tits ya know: That’s boy’s jobs.”

Brenda suddenly became aware that the bar had fallen silent and that everyone was looking at her. She gave a sickly smile, and then added, by way of explanation, “I’s from outta town. We talks a real whole load’a shit where I come from. You’s best be ignorin’ me. Now drink ya fluffin’ beer, ya nosey bastards.”

“Oh dear, Stubby,” Darkwood spoke above the startled exclamations of offended patrons, “I do believe that our proposed discussion of things most important will have to be put off for another time and another location.”

Indeed this was the case, and in three seconds flat the landlord had the six of them thrown out on their furry arses.

“An inauspicious beginning to our renewed endeavour together I fear.” Quentin opined whilst very obviously blaming Stubby entirely for their altered situation with looks that closely resembled daggers.

“You didn’t help either, mum – you big dopey twat!” Felicity sought to spread the blame.

“Never mind, never mind.” Stubby said in hushed tones as he quickly dusted everyone down. Then in a conspiratorial whisper he added, “I rather hoped that would happen actually. It was entirely deliberate, you know. I just wanted to make sure that none of you were being followed.”

Felicity responded with a whisper of her own. “Why would anyone be following us? Who knows that we’re here at all?”

“You’d be surprised.” Stubby replied, and then eased them all in the direction of a travelling fair as it clanked and clattered its way through the main street.

“I say, we’re all likely to be deafened by this frightful racket.” Darkwood complained as they walked beside an iron-wheeled wagon that was being drawn by a team of argumentative stag beetles.

“We may be deafened.” Stubby shouted above the din, “but so are those with inquiring ears.”

“Do you really think that we were being followed?” Felicity had to screech like a tortured lathe to make herself heard.

“The two miserable-looking curs in the corner by the window were giving you rapt attention.” Stubby bellowed like a loony, “And there was another standing beside the condom vendor’s sack taking notes.”

Darkwood was amazed. “But who might they be? Why would they expect us to be here? Might they be some kind of wizards? Oh my heart’s all of a flutter at the thought.”

“I don’t know.” Stubby roared, but already his voice was weakening, “Perhaps if you tell me all about your problem, and why you sent for me, then perhaps I can hazard a guess.”

So for the next five minutes they all took turns to shout informatively at Stubby as they strolled alongside the clanking wheels of the travelling fairground wagon – painfully apprising him of the situation.

When eventually the tale was told, Stubby guided them into a deserted laundry, where he was able to verbalise his opinion without the aid of a megaphone, and out of sight, just in case someone who might be following them could read lips.

“I’ve no doubt at all that Lucas Cleats fully intends to slay the inhabitants of the abbey. I don’t doubt his motivation or conviction either. What I do doubt is his free will. I remember Lucas when he was a cub. I watched him grow up. I think he has a great deal of latent psychic talent. The Lucas Cleats that I knew wanted to free Prannick of its pious overseers more than anything: But he would never stoop to murder.”

“You’s meaning some guy’s got control over this Cleats’ guy’s brain and stuff?” Brenda exclaimed in a brief moment of mental clarity.

Stubby wasn’t entirely familiar with Brenda’s speech patterns. “Ah, I think so.” He replied.

“And you believe that we are also pawns in some Machiavellian plot?” Quentin added.

Stubby was doubly impressed with Quentin Blackheart: Firstly for being able to say ‘Machiavellian’: Secondly for using a word that was utterly meaningless in both Hamster-Britain and Prannick.

“Indeed.” He replied, deciding that he would delay an investigation into the unexpected phenomenon until the current crisis was dealt with. “There are greater plans afoot than the mere extermination of a few monks. And it’s our task to identify and thwart it.”

“The best way that we can thwart such an affront to decency is by saving the monks.” Felicity snarled at some imagined monster.

So Stubby repeated his “Indeed”, and then led the way back into the street.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Wasn’t that lovely? You can buy the e-book (very cheaply) by visiting the Tooty’s E-Books Available to Buy Here page. It is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of literary fabulousness.

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 39)

Magnuss and Hair-Trigger must have detected the altered circumstances because a split second later…

…all four of them were whisked away, and deposited…

…in a station corridor – from where they proceeded, at a rush upon the second phase of their mission…

At the same time, the Tankerville Norris transmitted Magnuss and Hair-Trigger to another location aboard the space station…

However, after rematerializing correctly, neither Hero of Earplugdom could figure where to go next…

“What?” Magnuss complained. “I was expecting some signage or something. Slap my face for not thinking about bringing a schematic or floor plan.”

“Me too.” Hair-Trigger tried to console her husband. “I’m as impetuous as you. Let’s choose a direction at random: that usually works.”

The station’s robots were doing no better…

“What shall we do? What shall we do?” They asked each other as the exterior blast shutters opened and closed repeatedly. “Crimson Alert has been cancelled. Crimson Alert has been cancelled. I am all of a dither, and make no mistake!”

It was clear – and had been to Magnuss since before their mission began – that the Incense Cones had interfered with the misguided robots of the Robotic Justice League; and that the only cure for their disruptive re-programming was a re-flash of their ECUs. To this end, he had the Tankerville Norris detect the required control interface and transmit the girls and Tong-Tong to a nearby location. Now that they had found it, Bunty volunteered to sit herself in the adjacent Education Chair so that she might learn how to achieve a satisfactory result…

“Ooh-ur.” She uttered as the information began to flood into her young and fertile brain. “This sure does feel weird. I must be brainier than I thought. Ooh, yes, I think I know how to do this.”

Unfortunately Magnuss and Hair-Trigger were not doing half as well…

“Flipping heck, Hairy,” Magnuss yelled with frustration, “all these corridors look exactly the same!”

Meanwhile Bunty began giving Ginger and Daisy exact instructions…

“Shift the flange-pollop into neutral, whilst integrating the fifth series scroatwarbler with a ninth-dan donglywang, Ginger. After that Daisy needs to cause a neural cascade effect by slapping the cringeworthy valve with a bantam socket extender.”

Whilst the tan and the pink earplugs followed these instructions to the letter, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger thought they could hear a commotion in the next compartment…

“Doesn’t sound like Incense Cones.” Hair-Trigger opined.

“Not unless they’ve taken up clog dancing.” Magnuss replied. “It sounds a bit heavy metal: I think we’ll give that compartment a miss.”

This was a wise decision, because the station robots were getting themselves all wound up into a state of complete neural meltdown… 

As a group, the robots were within mere moments of self-destructing themselves. However, before any of those mere moments could pass, Daisy pushed the ECU Refresh button. The resulting burst of energy startled all three girls…

As the burst of energy swept through the station upon a tidal wave of incandescent fury…

…every cybernetic system aboard was nullified. Factory Default Settings were the rule of the day.

“I think that went rather well.” Bunty said as she stepped down from the Education Chair.

“Looking good.” Ginger replied. “So all the robots will have re-set to their original settings, huh?”

“That’s right.” Bunty said as she dusted herself down. “They’ll all be thoughtless and malleable. We can tell them to do whatever we like, and they’ll do it.”

“Excellent.” Tong-Tong interjected. “I have always wanted to tell big robots what to do. This is my opportunity.”

This gave Daisy pause for thought:

“If we’ve just re-flashed the robots ECUs, which are supposed to switch them into some sort of thickie, non-intellectual mode,” she said in a puzzled tone, “why is Tong-Tong unaffected? Why is it still the Tong-Tong we know and love?”

If a robot could look shame-faced, that is how Tong-Tong appeared as it replied:

“Ah, that would be the result of a little re-working I performed upon myself.”

Three expectant faces urged the robot to continue. Tong-Tong complied:

“You see, during the execution of my tasks in the cafeteria, I discovered that the interference from the microwave cooker was giving me a cyber-headache. To alleviate the pain – for want of a better word – I wrapped my brain in tin foil. Remarkable stuff – tin foil. Obviously, it protected me from the ECU re-flash. Good, is it not?” 

Good, it was – and whilst the quartet congratulated themselves on a job well done, the effected robots began to fall into line behind the designated lead robot – that being the large white robot…

“Re-programming required.” It spoke loudly as the blast doors finally decided to remain open. “Follow this unit to the designated location.”

Had anyone the time to peer out through the aforementioned blast doors, they would have noted that this coincided with the arrival and docking of the huge Prolate Spheroid Incense Cone freighter…

What they wouldn’t have noted, however, was that Magnuss and Hair-Trigger never found the destination they sought. It – or they – found them…

“Okay, you win – imperialist earplug monsters. We’ve been told to surrender to you – and we’ve got the bruises to prove it. You should see my arse.” Pinkie sighed as he addressed the happy couple, “Do your worst. We are prepared to be exterminated. We die bravely. By the way – where are your side arms?”

For the first time in almost fifteen minutes, Purp realised that he might actually survive his first encounter with earplugs. “If you’re not going to shoot us,” he said, “you couldn’t give me a couple of paracetamols, could you? My buttocks hurt like glory!” 

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

A “It Features in My Book” Wallpaper: The Sunken Lane

When, long ago (2004 actually) I wrote the first draft of the book that was (after several re-writes through the years) to become my best-selling creation, namely this one…

…I based the locale of a very significant part of the story on the place of my birth and upbringing. I had no idea that, eight years later, I would return to live there again. In the book, the English village in question was named Brambledown, and this sunken lane (see above) was the means by which the central characters gained access to the village whilst remaining unseen by those besieging it. As you can see – even though the passage of years have worn the banks down somewhat,  and half the trees are missing – if you were unfamilar with the area, you might well fail to notice this tarmac  artery amongst the surviving trees and adjacent farmland. Well that’s what I thought, back in 2004. Here’s an extract from the aforementioned book that includes the sunken lane…

Lee indicated that we should keep low, and join him. As Kevin and I scrambled to his side we both noticed that a small thicket stood in the lee of the hill. A thin column of smoke curled into the air from it, but quickly flattened out and dissipated.

“Campfire.” Lee stated needlessly as we hid behind a thick bush and snatched brief looks over it. “But who are they?”

Kevin rummaged through his haversack, producing a respectable pair of binoculars. It showed great forethought. My admiration for this simple survivor increased.

“These help?” He smiled as he offered them to Lee.

Lee gave him a wink of thanks, and then put the glasses to his eyes.

After a few moments, “Just as I thought; it’s some kind’a paramilitary outfit. They know what they’re doing though: They’ve posted guards while the rest are havin’ a bit of grub.”

“Can we get past them?” I inquired.

From our vantage point we could see little of the village, but Lee scanned what he could. He sounded positive when he asked, “You said you knew this place?”

“I don’t suppose it’s changed much.” I heard a slightly defensive tone in my voice. ‘Am I making excuses for failure already?’

“There’s a sunken lane somewhere over to the left.” I said. “In the opposite direction to the thicket.”

The sunken lane to which I referred was just as I’d remembered it. It wasn’t until you almost fell into it that its existence became obvious. Beeches had grown about it – their massive roots forming high heavy banks and disappearing beneath the patchy, undulating tar macadam surface. To anyone who wasn’t local it was merely a line of broadleaf trees much like any other, and of no significance. To the inhabitants of Brambledown it was a defensible position.

I wasn’t surprised when a disembodied female hailed us:

“All right:” She spoke in a broad rural accent.

‘Clearly one of Katherine’s ‘serfs’

“You can stay right there, and don’t move a muscle.”

There was no mistaking the threat in her tone. We all stood as if rooted.

“Lose the firepower.” The next instruction followed.

With a clatter Lee dropped the shotgun.

“And the old pop-gun.” The voice, slightly amused, insisted.

Lee didn’t know in which direction to turn his attention.

“It don’t work.” He called, then held out the revolver, “No firin’ pin.”

“Only got your word for that.” The tone became sterner once more, “Drop it, or drop your trousers: I aint fussy.”

The revolver joined the shotgun in the leaf litter.

Moments later the voice gained form, and a sturdily-built girl – whom I judged to be about seventeen, and wearing filthy combat fatigues – stepped into view from behind a cleverly disguised hide. She was unarmed.

“Well!” Lee exclaimed as he bent to pick up the shotgun.

“Now-now!” A young male voice warned us from behind.

We spun to face a man of about nineteen years, who held a shotgun levelled at us. He hid the lower half of his a face behind a mask.

“Hello.” Kevin smiled at him, “My name’s Kevin: I live in Lutchins Farm. It’s me dad’s farm.”

The well-spoken voice warmed. “So you do. Hello Kevin; I’m afraid the hairdressers are closed right now. Who are your friends?”

Kevin introduced us. “This is Lee, and this is Flissery.”

“That’s Felicity.” I corrected him.

“Felicity, eh?” The young man looked me up and down. “Knew a girl of that name once, you know. Looked a little cleaner than you I seem to recall. Then I suppose the same could be said of all of us.”

There seemed a hint of sorrow in his tone. His voice seemed familiar. I watched his eyes as he instructed his associate to collect our weapons. Then recognition struck:

“Thomas.” I blurted. “Thomas Kingsbury!”

Lee looked surprised. “You know this bloke?”

Thomas winked at me before pulling down his mask to reveal his face.

“I thought it was you, Fel. My – you’re a big girl now! I mean that in nicest possible way, you understand…”

For a brief moment it hurt to hear my abbreviated name so soon after losing Sarah; but then I recalled all of Katherine’s family knew me by that moniker. Somehow it brought with it a sense of ‘belonging’.

“And you appear to have increased your mass too.” I replied – running to him and being swept into the air by surprisingly powerful arms.

Dropping me again, he introduced me to his associate. “Fel, meet Fred.”

We made our greeting. Then I introduced Lee to them both. And Kevin shook every one’s hand, including my own.

Before long two more youngsters arrived to relieve Tom and Fred. This allowed the five of us make our way to the village. What we found in the village dismayed us. It was an armed camp under siege, though it was heartening to see many tethered or corralled young animals too. We learned that the adolescents and children of several nearby villages, farms, and outlying houses had collected together in mutual need and for the defence of the village. But from whom came such threat?

Fred, rather inaccurately, referred to them as ‘The Army’. Others called them ‘Bandits’ or ‘Killers’ – though as of yet no one had been actually killed.

Tom, alone, called them what they actually were:

“A bunch of frightened cadets, Fel: That’s what they are – led by an absolute lunatic.”

“What makes you say that?” I enquired.

We were sitting together upon an old, lichen-coated, stone sarcophagus beside the largest Ewe tree in the village churchyard. I enjoyed the physical closeness. As a twelve year-old I dreamed that one day I might marry Tom, who was always out of reach, being three years my senior: Now at Sixteen perhaps… The thought struck me like a thunderbolt: ‘He must be nineteen by now: Old enough to die!

He didn’t notice my involuntary gasp. Instead he indicated the village about us. “Notice something missing – other than adults of course?”

It took me several seconds to re-gather my wits. I covered by looking from right to left and back again.

“Or should I say some one?” He added.

I was speechless. I looked into his grime-smeared but boyishly handsome face.

“Katherine.” He spoke as though I had merely made an enquiring lift of an eyebrow, “Katherine’s not here.”

Inside my head this new data did not compute. What my expression must have been, I can only guess; but the strength seemed to slough from Tom’s shoulders.

“They’ve got her, Fel. They’ve taken my only sister – and three more girls from the village. And what’s more they intend to take the rest. That’s how I know they’re led by a loony.”

Neither of us had heard Lee’s approach. We both jumped when he said, “So what are you doing about it?”

With Tom potentially at death’s door, and Katherine kidnapped by armed delinquents, this situation seemed impossible. Shangri la was rapidly turning into my idea of hell.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

If this book looks interesting, check it out by visiting the sidebar on this post, or the Tooty’s E-books Available to Buy Here! page beneath the header.

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 37)

With that, both earplugs were more than happy to return to the control room to expound further…

“So how do you feel about handing this ship back to the original crew?” Magnuss inquired of Ginger, Bunty, and Daisy.

“Well we know how to fly it, and all that,” Ginger replied for all of them, “but there are only four of us. In any case, we’re all minors – at least in earplug law: we really should be in your care.”

“That’s what I hoped you’d say.” Magnuss said with a relieved smile upon his boyishly handsome face. “Let’s call in the crew.”

Moments later…

“Captain,” Magnuss said without preamble, “are you prepared to take command of the Drunkard’s Vomit?”

“The Drunkard’s Vomit?” The captain questioned. “I am unaware of a vessel of that identity.”

“It’s this ship.” Hair-Trigger informed the automaton. “It’s got a new name. Like it?”

The captain didn’t quite know how to respond; but it wanted to keep the earplugs happy, so it said, “Certainly. Might I say what an inspired choice of nomenclature it is? Further, I consider it commendable upon at least seventeen levels of commendability.”

“Is ‘commendability’ a real word, Captain?” the ship’s green first officer spoke quietly over the captain’s hunched mauve shoulder

“I do not care.” The captain replied. “They know what I mean.”

“Indeed we do.” Magnuss agreed. “The ship is yours. We’ll be on our way.”

“Everyone ready?” He inquired of Tong-Tong and the girls.

None of them were certain they were ready for what was about to happen, but they said “Yes” anyway.

A split second later…

The light of the visitor’s departure had barely faded before the robots resumed their duties. However, for one it was bad news…

“With Tong-Tong gone,” the captain spoke to one of the many identical green robots that constituted the crew of the Drunkard’s Vomit, “the position of emergency waiter requires that someone fills it. You are that ‘someone.”

“It is an honour to step into Tong-Tong’s metaphorical shoes.” The nameless robot replied. “When do I start?”

Meanwhile, aboard the uninhabited Tankerville Norris

…systems were coming back on line. And not a moment too soon, because…

…it was uninhabited no longer…

“Wow,” Daisy exclaimed, “now I know how Dorkan and Dawlish Deathwish’s armoured reconnaissance vehicle felt when it appeared on the Wide Blue Yonder before us. Weird!”

The others agreed wholeheartedly, but they knew there was little time for conversation concerning matter transmission: already the Drunkard’s Vomit was lifting from its rocky sanctuary…

“It is good to see the vacuum of space once more.” The robot that had been designated Emergency Waiter said as the edge of the chasm hove into view upon the main screen.

“I concur.” The captain…er…concurred. It then added – perhaps as a cyber-joke – “On at least seventeen levels of concurability.”

“Right then,” Magnuss said as his guests took up position behind the Driving Chairs, “time to get this show on the road.”

Finally, the three girls were in a position – physically, mentally, and spiritually – to witness the magnitude of interstellar space…

“Ooh,” they said as one, “nice. Which one is Earth?”

Of course, the Tankerville Norris wasn’t going anywhere near Earth – not that the Earth was in view anyway: it was in the opposite direction completely! In fact, as the ship adopted a new position in space, the planetoid filled most of the main screen…

Already a course had been plotted: it was headed for a location just over the immediate horizon…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

My Literary Gift Plans Lay in Tatters

I’d promised you all that, unlike the preceding Earplug Adventures, Triple Threat would be made available to you in EPUB form – all free and lovely. So much better than PDF thought I – though PDF isn’t actually bad. It just isn’t a ‘real’ e-book. But when I tried to upload the EPUB file to go with this cover…

…a warning notice made it very clear: EPUB files cannot be uploaded to WordPress. Generous authors cannot give away their works, obviously. Just when I was beginning to enjoy using the platform again too. Spoilsports! So, when the serialised version is finished, I’ll be uploading a PDF copy for everyone to download – just like the other Earplug Adventure books before it. Oh well – not the end of the world I suppose.

P.S Of course you could always upload the file to an on-line conversion program: it’s how I created the EPUB file to start with.

Saved by the Nook

Call me silly and impatient if you like, but for the last couple of years I haven’t bothered to cash the royalty checks from my publishers because (after the bank has taken their cut for translating U.S Dollars into GBPs) I didn’t feel the amount earned was worth the effort. But my last one surprised me, and I duly carried it along to a pleasant teller and put it into my bank account. It wasn’t a lot; but it paid for a few groceries. And for those groceries I have the users of the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader to thank. For years now, it has been Nook users that have made it worth my while to keep the books on sale. Without them, I wouldn’t have bothered. Of course potential readers could go straight to my publishers, Lulu Press to download my wondrous literary offerings in regular EPUB format – those being this little lot…

But, in recent times – like the last five years –  only the following B&N sites have been utilised…

Tooty Nolan: Hamster Sapiens books

Clive Thunderbolt: Causality Merchant books

Paul Trevor Nolan: ‘Silent’ books

And I’d like to thank every one of those Nook users. You keep my spirits up. Were you one of them?

Tooty

P.S You can find extracts from all of the above books beneath the site header.

P.P.S  The Psychic Historian: The best book ever created in the history of the written word!

Wattpad Update: Required Reading for All Earpluggers!

Recently I added the second volume of A Tale of Three Museums on Wattpad...

As anticipated, it hasn’t set the literary world aflame. There has been no clamouring for more information about this wondrous work. But it did make it to here on the rankings…

Is that good? I don’t know. Things improved slightly later…

Better still (I think, but I’m not sure) Volume One has gone to NUMBER ONE…

Unfortunately it’s in the Ridiculousness category. Still, Number One is number one, no matter which chart – although I expect some people regard it more as a huge pile of Number Twos. But that’s their problem, and we know better, don’t we?

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 28)

Of course, the ‘Lords and Masters’ to which it referred were already half way to the docking portal…

If they anticipated anything at all, it was to be passing the com-panel within the next five minutes. Five minutes in which someone could, and should, act desperately…

Naturally, those seeking to act desperately were the three Earth earplugs and their robot sidekick.

“This is it.” Tong-Tong informed the girls. “A com-panel. From here you can communicate with anyone anywhere – just as long as their equipment is compatible.”

Ginger pulled her cell phone from an inner pocket. She checked the battery condition.

“I’ve got just enough power for either a text or an e-mail.” She told Daisy and Bunty. “What’s it to be?”

“Whichever you decide,” Tong-Tong said as it shifted into a position from whence it could operate the high-tech device, “you should complete your selection within seconds. I can hear distant footfalls approaching: time is running short.”

“We don’t know anyone worth texting.” Daisy stated sadly. “Best make it an e-mail.”

“E-mail selected.” Tong-Tong responded. “What is the address?”

In an effort to aid their ability to think clearly and quickly, the girls dropped their robotic pretence…

“Ah, that’s better.” Bunty said, whilst her eyes sought the ceiling in search of inspiration. “Any idea who we e-mail?”

Daisy joined her. It worked spectacularly well. “Magnuss Earplug.” She yelped.

Although time was tight, Ginger chose to be gentle with her condemnation of her friend’s incredibly stupid notion. “Do you know his e-mail address?” She inquired. “In fact do we know the e-mail address of anyone in the Museum of Future Technology?”

They were flummoxed momentarily, and Tong-Tong reserved judgment on the likelihood of success – so much so that it began to place some distance between itself and the three earplugs. Then Bunty found a screwed up piece of paper in her pocket.

“Hey,” she cried, “it’s those instructions that Gregor Arsentickler scribbled for us, when we escaped jail. He wrote it on headed notepaper. It’s got his name and all the other stuff on it.”

“How ostentatious.” Ginger sneered. “He may be gorgeous and all that; but I think he must be really big-headed to have his own headed notepaper.”

“Does ‘all that other stuff’ include an e-mail address?” Tong-Tong inquired.

Bunty answered in the affirmative.

“What message would you like to send?” The robot inquired further.

Two minutes later…

“There – it is gone.” Tong-Tong said with a hint of satisfaction in its tone. “And so should we be. Let us depart with alacrity.”

All three girls were extremely pleased with themselves. It took a few moments for the sudden rush of endorphins to subside. Eventually Ginger said, “We’re not running away now. We’re going to be heroes. Proper heroes. Heroes don’t run away. We’re gonna hide instead.”

“Yeah, that’s right.” Daisy blurted support for her pale friend. “We’re gonna hide until help arrives from the Museum of Future Technology!”

Chapter 7

It had been a difficult day for Gregor Arsentickler. In between tasks as a maintenance genius, his mind had reeled from the onslaught of ideas that he wasn’t getting for improving his standing with Mister Zinc. The only small mercy he could gather from his current situation was that the emergency coffee dispenser in his edificio’s foyer hadn’t malfunctioned…

Upon arriving in his apartment, and dreading Mister Zinc’s wrath, Gregor decided to avoid contacting the silver earplug, and instead elected to check his e-mails…

To say that the tiny 3D image of Ginger, Bunty and Daisy surprised him would be an understatement. His surprise increased tenfold when he listened to their excited gabble, and perused an image that they had captured upon their cell phone…

…which showed the precise location of the space station upon which they now claimed to stand.

“Flipping heck,” he roared to an empty room, “what a to-do!”

A second image quickly followed…

…that had him utterly convinced that Earplugdom in general, which included the Museum of Future Technology, faced a terrible threat. Despite his loathing of the curator elite, he did actually consider taking the message to them. However before he could act, his indoctrination of all things Zinc got the better of his common sense.

“I know,” he said, “I’ll call Mister Zinc: he’s an unbelievable genius who is just misunderstood by ninety-nine point nine percent of all sentient beings on this planet: he’ll know what to do.”

Whilst Gregor had been traversing the many floors, from the foyer, to his apartment where he planned to call Mister Zinc – far away, upon the distant space station mentioned in the e-mail…

 

…the obsequious white robot had taken a short cut and had intercepted the departing Incense Cones.

“We really will do much better next time. Honestly we will.” It assured the aliens. “We are putting ourselves together and polishing up our act. Aint no stopping us now – we are on the move. Huh. Have a nice trip.”

Neither of the Incense Cone commanders had ever been a fan of disco, were unaware of legendary dance floor tracks, and didn’t quite know how to take this, so they simply marched off with an impatient ‘harrumph’…

However, as they came within olfactory range of the com-panel, something set off alarms in both their brains…

The purple Incense Cone’s rage-fuelled, “Earplugs! I smell Earplugs!” sent the soldiery into a blind panic. Well not a blind panic exactly – but they did shuffle about a bit and look this way and that repeatedly.

The pink Incense Cone took command of the situation. He instructed the purple Incense Cone to return to the ship for reinforcements, whilst he and the RJL would engage themselves upon an earplug hunt…

Of course, the Incense Cones could not possibly know that their task would be impossible and that the odds against them were stupendous. Daisy, Ginger, and Bunty’s formative years had been spent ‘scrumping’ apples from neighbour’s orchards and hiding from the education authorities in outside toilets and coalbunkers. In short, their quarry was expert in the field of disappearing from view. In this case, it was behind a temporary repair hoarding that the soldiery didn’t even recognise as such and assumed was part of the ship’s structure…

As the three girls hunkered down to await the passing of the Incense Cone search parties, the pink Incense Cone enlisted the assistance of the blue robots…

“Come on,” he roared, “don’t stand around picking your metaphorical noses: get your butts into action!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Six Days into Wattpad

I didn’t expect much when I  began posting extracts from this photo-novel…

…on the reading and writing platform WATTPAD. But I’ve been slightly surprised by the ranking it received straight away. After just a couple of days the tale was ranked here…

and…

But here we are, on Day Six, and this is the current situation…

I don’t know if that’s good, but it sure looks encouraging.  If things don’t fall apart; my resolve evaporates; or I just get bored dishing out the tale in serial form without response from the readers, I’ll keep you posted.

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 22)

Obviously, the three girls had never attempted breathing vacuum, and couldn’t imagine a time when they would choose to; but they could imagine that it might be slightly less pleasant than chewing on a hand grenade. Therefore, within seconds of the captain’s final syllable impacting their tympanic membrane, they had raced back to their original hiding place…

Slamming the hatch shut behind them, they crept to the interior window…

…and watched in abject horror as…

…the ship’s crew allowed themselves to be led away into an existence of unwanted freedom.

“Hurry along. Hurry along.” The smaller of the two blue robotic lieutenants snapped, “this is a busy interstellar shipping lane: anyone might happen by without notice. We do not want your tardiness to force us into destroying them with our atomic cannons. We will, you know. We are like that. We really do not care about silicon life forms. In fact I think we might even enjoy blasting them across the void in a million tiny pieces.”

“Steady on, Lieutenant.” The large white robot adopted verbal stealth mode and addressed its subordinate. “If you possessed a mouth, you would be frothing at it.”

Then to the freighter’s crew it bellowed, “So get a bloody move on!”

Naturally, under such duress, the crew complied with utmost alacrity; and within a few minutes, the Robotic Justice League vessel moved off and blasted away…

…which left the bulbous black freighter hanging, inert, and all alone, in the depths of space…

Inside it – in one of the many corridors that criss-cross etcetera, etcetera… 

…Ginger Slack, Daisy Woodnut, and Bunty Bridgewater – the new and unwilling crew of the submarine space freighter – held an impromptu pow-wow.

Looking up at one of the high windows, Ginger said, “Our mums and dads must be worried sick. I thought if we were on our way back to Earth, that we wouldn’t be gone much longer. But now…well we might never get home!

“Don’t talk like that.” An annoyed Bunty spoke from farther along the corridor. “I know we’re just a bunch of dozy dingbats, but that’s not our fault. We never asked to be cossetted and all wrapped up in cotton wool whilst living in the Museum of Future Technology. But we were – and now we’ve got to pull ourselves together and start acting like we have a brain each.”

“But we have got a brain each.” Daisy said in a confused tone. “Mine’s in my head.”

“Daisy, shut up.” Bunty snapped. “You’ve been allowed to play at being thick for too long. Now, like us, you have to engage that brain inside your head. Coz if we don’t fix this situation, we’re gonna die out here – and our parents will never know. They’ll spend the rest of their lives wondering – and hoping. Do you understand?”

Neither Daisy nor Ginger had ever seen their chum so serious. They both nodded. Nevertheless, thereon Ginger took the lead:

“As things stand we can’t work this ship. I don’t even know the front from the back. We need help.”

The pink and the blue earplugs absorbed this. Bunty was the first to speak:

“We need to call out. Can we figure how the coms work?”

Ginger shrugged her shoulders. “We can try.”

Daisy held aloft a single digit. Having gained the attention of the others, she said:

“Tong-Tong might know how to work it.”

Ginger gave Daisy a smile that someone could have described as ‘motherly’. “The crew were all taken away, Daisy.” She said.

“Not Tong-Tong.” Daisy replied. “I watched really closely. Tong-Tong wasn’t taken anywhere. I didn’t see Tong-Tong at all.”

Ginger looked to Bunty. “Search pattern Alpha.” She said. “I don’t know what that means; but it sounds good. Follow me.”

Five minutes later…

…the trio of silicon adventurers exited the main corridor system and moved into the auxiliary system.

“It’s where I’d hide – if I was a robot.” Ginger explained.

Daisy thought it might be a good idea to call out Tong-Tong’s name. So they did, and before long…

…the ship’s waiter detected its new moniker amongst the echoes. It would have called back, but the rudimentary voice box that the cheapskate manufacturers had fitted was capable only of a gentle, unstressed, ‘Hello; is anyone there?”

Nevertheless, it was enough for Ginger’s sensitive hearing, and within seconds…

…the trio had become a quartet.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 19)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You betcha.” Magnuss replied.

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

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

…the girls had decided upon a Crappachino each.

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

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

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

“Hans Dudishes.” It replied.

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

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

Ginger screwed up her nose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 18)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The ship now had a cargo that required delivery.

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 17)

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

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

“Nonster planet?” Miles queried.

“Surely you mean Monster Planet?” Chester suggested.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Lovely.” Miles opined.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 12)

However, when they let themselves in, they discovered that the maintenance hatch had allowed them ingress to something other than the outer hull, but the vessel’s habitable interior…

Ginger made a quick discovery…

“Oops,” she said, “we’ve left the door open. Anyone passing can see us. I’ll just close it.”

Perhaps if Bunty and Daisy hadn’t been so busy whispering excitedly, they might have cried out to their friend. They might have said, “No, Ginger; it only opens from the outside!” But they didn’t: and two seconds later…

“Oops again,” Ginger said apologetically, “guess we’ll need another exit.”

Not that Daisy cared: she was inside her beloved space submarine freighter.

Whilst this was occurring, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger were giving a commentary on a series of pictures that featured them holidaying on an archipelago of strange spire-like islands in a tropical sea…

“Whoever took the picture,” Chester complained, “chopped off your feet. What a rubbish photographer. Next!”

Aboard the space submarine, the dull black livery soon gave way to a far more aesthetically pleasing sequinned effect…

But only Daisy appreciated it: the others were far too busy either looking where they were going or watching out for the ship’s owners.

“Wallpaper’s nice.” Daisy said as they hugged the wall in an attempt to be as unobtrusive as possible.  “But I think I’d tire of it pretty quickly. I certainly wouldn’t like my bedroom wall decorated thus.”

However, after passing through a bulkhead hatch, they found further compartments that appeared exactly the same…

“Should have packed a pair of sunglasses,” Daisy quipped.

At exactly the same moment that Bunty thought she heard some voices inside the ship, and made the decision to hide, the Earplug Brothers were enjoying a video of Magnuss and Hair-Trigger battling a tropical surf aboard a speedboat…

“Bet that set your motion sickness off, Mags.” Chester said with a chuckle.

Magnuss didn’t like to admit it, but (for most of the time – with Hair-Trigger at the wheel) he’d been too scared to feel sick…

“A bit.” He replied as his stomach made a first class job of reminding him of the incessant plunging into the troughs between waves that he’d endured.

Meanwhile, Daisy, Bunty, and Ginger had found a door that into a section of the vessel that appeared to be unused…

“An auxiliary something-or-other, I expect.” Ginger said knowledgeably. “We should be safe in here.”

“Let’s see if there’s a window or something we can look out of.” Bunty suggested. “I think it’s important that we know what’s going on – otherwise we won’t know when to leave.”

“Ooh, yeah,” Daisy agreed, “I wouldn’t want to get locked in: that would be scary. I have dreams of being locked in, you know. One night I woke up to find that I really had been locked in. I was in the trunk of my dad’s car. I don’t know how I got there. I’ve been having regression therapy in the hope of finding out.”

But any furtherance of the conversation was cut short when they found the interior window they sought…

  

Daisy drew herself close to Ginger. “Golly,” she whispered, “robots. I wasn’t expecting them.”

“Well this is a robot freighter.” Bunty whispered from behind her.

“True,” Daisy replied. “But I always thought that robot freighters were robotic…ur…freighters: not freighters crewed by robots. There’s a subtle difference.”

“Well now you know.” Ginger said. A second thought occurred: “If this ship is crewed by robots…they won’t have a toilet aboard. That could be catastrophic for biological life forms like us!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022