Tag Archives: e-books

Tooty the Prophet?

I was walking about the countryside recently, as I often do, when my eye chanced to fall upon a small object in the act of being blown across a field by a powerful north-easterly wind. When it came to rest – snagged on a small bramble – I paused to consider it, and take it’s picture…

It seemed so apt in the Time of Covid.  Then I recalled a scene from one of my better works…

…in which the two central characters find an empty potato crisp packet  doing the exact same thing. And, for a moment, I considered the possibilty that the book, written so long ago (first draft 2004), might be horribly prescient. The book, if you haven’t read it or any of the extracts featured in this blog from time to time (i.e the sample chapter beneath header picture), tells the story of an Earth upon which all adult life has been extinguished by a viral pandemic.  In that moment I suddenly felt very vulnerable: after all, how many science-fiction ideas have become everyday occurences. Maybe climate change isn’t our worst enemy after all: maybe it’s writers like me – tempting fate with our silly stories.   

 

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 27)

Así que esto es todo. Si aún no ha descargado la historia completa (y, en consecuencia, sabe lo que va a pasar), este es el extracto final. Ha sido un largo camino hasta aquí, y todos han mantenido el rumbo de manera impresionante, excepto los que no lo han hecho. Te mereces un premio. Bueno, supongo que el hecho de que puedas descargar este cuento, en su totalidad de forma gratuita, es un premio en sí mismo. Pero basta de gofres: ¡manos a la obra!

“Ambos nos prometimos a nosotros mismos que si alguna vez conocíamos a Bunk-Bunk Bunson, le daríamos una patada en el trasero”. Magnuss le informó. “Y, lo siento, pero ambos somos tapones para los oídos de nuestra palabra. A pesar de que eres una ‘ella’, no un ‘él’, todavía serás castigado. Peludo, tú ve primero “.

Hair-Trigger nunca antes había pateado a una mujer en el trasero, especialmente a una heroína clarividente. Así que cuando Bunson hizo una mueca y esperó la agonía de unas sandalias espaciales bien dirigidas, todo lo que Hair-Trigger pudo hacer fue un golpe rápido con la rodilla en una nalga…

 

Pero Magnuss, que había crecido en una familia numerosa que había disfrutado de una historia de concursos de patear traseros, hizo un intento mucho mejor…

… Y la echó a patadas por el pasillo.

“Oh, lo siento”, dijo mientras iba en ayuda de Bunson…

… ”La gravedad de Tah-Di-Tah es sólo nueve décimas partes de la Tierra normal. Simplemente no conozco mi propia fuerza aquí “.

Bunson supuso que tendría un gran hematoma negro por la mañana; pero a ella no le importó en absoluto. Le habían pateado el trasero con tapones para los oídos que lo habían arriesgado todo para salvar a Tah-Di-Tah. Y ella misma era una heroína. Los héroes deberían tener moretones: eran una insignia de honor. Así que fue un trío alegre que caminó juntos a lo largo de la miríada de pasillos de la aldea perdida…

Con el paso del tiempo hablaron de una y un millón de cosas. Estaban a punto de sugerir su próximo curso de acción, que podría haber sido una visita a la sucursal Tah-Di-Tah de Café Puke, cuando, para Magnuss y Hair-Trigger, la decisión les fue tomada de las manos…

… y se encontraron de nuevo a bordo del Tankerville Norris

Hair-Trigger, en particular, estaba muy molesto…

“Muchas gracias, Ship”. Gritó ella. “Ni siquiera tuvimos la oportunidad de despedirnos de Bunk-Bunk”.

“Es cierto”, el barco habló por segunda vez desde que se embarcaron en su luna de miel, “pero ella es una clarividente: sabe lo que querías decir. Y al hacerlo, se hace. Ahora abroche sus cinturones de seguridad…

… Nosotros, y el Chuck Winker , estamos a punto de lanzarnos. Nada elegante, ¿comprende? Nos gustaría impresionar a los lugareños antes de irnos “.

Momentos después…

… Los dos híbridos Scroton / Tah-Di-Tah volaron verticalmente hacia el cielo. Magnuss y Hair-Trigger no lo notaron: habían pasado horas desde su última visita al baño, y estaban demasiado ocupados corriendo hacia el que estaba detrás de Ingeniería…

“Eso es otra cosa”, refunfuñó Hair-Trigger al notar la ausencia de la señalización ‘nueva’, “¿por qué Bunk-Bunk tuvo que poner el inodoro tan lejos del puente? Para ser un genio psíquico, seguro que era una mujer tonta “.

Epílogo

Pero el estado de ánimo de Hair-Trigger no podía permanecer oscuro. Ella estaba sonriendo cuando regresaron al puente…

“Sabes”, dijo, “esto está comenzando a sentirse como en casa. Tendremos que traer a tus hermanos la próxima vez “.

Tuvieron el tiempo justo para sentarse antes de que los barcos hicieran un espectacular sobrevuelo…

… Antes de lanzarse al espacio. Por supuesto, Chuck Winker tomó la delantera mientras luchaban contra el pozo de gravedad del planeta…

Durante su larga conversación, Bunk-Bunk había puesto al día a Magnuss y Hair-Trigger sobre el papel de la Séptima Caballería en la batalla, por lo que hicieron una llamada de barco a barco…

“Caballeros … y dama”. Magnuss dijo cuando su imagen apareció en la holopantalla del puente de Chuck Winker , “tienes mi eterna gratitud. Si no hubieras ralentizado esa flota, nunca hubiéramos encontrado la aldea perdida, y Tah-Di-Tah habría sido destruido. Cuando regresemos al museo, voy a hablar con el comandante Leftfoot Badger. Voy a sugerir que los convierta a todos en oficiales. Debería estar orgulloso de ti “.

Los tapones de caballería estaban un poco perdidos para las palabras.

Wetpatch encontró uno o dos: “Bueno, muchas gracias, joven amigo. Supongo que, antes de que vuelvas al museo, ¿te llevarás esa luna de miel tuya?  

“Ciertamente lo haremos”. Hair-Trigger respondió…

… ”Ahora regresen sanos y salvos a Fort Balderdash: siempre habrá un lugar en el Museo de Tecnología del Futuro para personas como ustedes. Dile a Cushions Smethwyke que dije eso.

Con eso se despidieron; y, como se le indicó, el Chuck Winker se dirigió a la Tierra…

De repente, los recién casados ​​se sintieron bastante solos…

“¿Bien?” Preguntó Hair-Trigger mientras se inclinaba hacia Magnuss. “¿Adónde, Capitán?”

“Elige una dirección”. Respondió. “En cualquier dirección, siempre y cuando no sea la Tierra. “Estamos en nuestra luna de miel: ¡vamos a hacer cosas de luna de miel!”

Con eso, el Tankerville Norris giró sobre su eje a una posición aleatoria…

… y Magnuss presionó el botón “Ir”…

El fin

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

¡No olvide regresar para la próxima y emocionante aventura de tapones para los oídos!

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 26)

Pensé que la historia se extendería a 25 episodios. Pensé mal: bienvenido al episodio 26…

A Magnuss no le gustó cómo sonaba eso. De hecho, no le gustó tanto que dejó de tirarse pedos por completo. “¿Control?” Preguntó. “¿Controlar un agujero negro? Me parece que has perdido tus canicas, loco tapón para los oídos verde “.

“No estoy familiarizado con el término”. Su anfitrión respondió. “Pero mira a nuestra posible némesis. Están dirigidos. La Línea Guía señala el camino “.

Magnuss pensó que era mejor reservarse el juicio sobre lo que estaba viendo. Por mucho que no le gustara la idea de simples tapones para los oídos tratando de controlar la fuerza más poderosa de la Galaxia, le gustaba aún menos la idea de extraterrestres despiadados y arrasadores. “Oh, excelente.” Él dijo. Pero en realidad no lo decía en serio.

Luego, rápidamente cambió de opinión. Algo le estaba sucediendo a la nave líder de la flota alienígena. Se veía decididamente hinchado. Y la formación de barcos detrás de él parecía estar deformando…

“La segunda línea”. Falsa Nellie susurró con reverencia. “La Línea de la Fuerza”.

Incluso el nervio de Hair-Trigger se rompió cuando la singularidad pareció llenar su vista…

“Por favor, dime que has hecho esto antes”. Magnuss suplicó.

“Completamos tres mil simulaciones antes de la catástrofe cuando el tsunami resultante nos abrumó”. Su anfitrión respondió.

“Oh Dios.” Dijo con voz trémula. “Estoy tan aliviado.” Y él tampoco quiso decir eso realmente. Especialmente cuando el agujero negro comenzó a girar…

Tanto él como Hair-Trigger tuvieron el tiempo justo para gritar: “¿Qué diablos?” cuando, en un abrir y cerrar de ojos, la horda alienígena fue succionada a una velocidad imposible…

… y todo lo que quedaba era un espacio exterior bueno, honesto y regular…

“La naturaleza puede aborrecer el vacío”, dijo Hair-Trigger en el silencio resultante, antes de que se oyeran vítores a lo largo del pasillo en alguna parte…

… “Pero me encanta, especialmente cuando no está lleno de naves espaciales antagónicas”.

Por supuesto, la vasta área inmediatamente alrededor del sitio de los Cuernos de Guff y sus receptores de energía ahora era un páramo…

… pero la cámara optó por ignorar eso: y, en su lugar, mostró la ciudad cercana, en la que las luces volvían a encenderse…

“Eso fue todo un espectáculo”. Dijo Magnuss aliviado. Espero que hayas vuelto a poner esa singularidad en la cama. Por cierto, nunca lo mencionaste; pero ¿cuál es tu nombre?

“¿No es así?” El tapón para los oídos de color verde pálido respondió. “Qué negligencia de mi parte”.

“¿Bien?” Hair-Trigger espetó en su mejor tono exigente. “¿Qué es?”

“No puedo recordar”. Respondió el sin nombre. “Soñé tanto en hibernación que me confundí por completo. Siento que soy tanta gente. La realidad y la fantasía se han fusionado. Sé lo que soy, pero no sé quién soy. Pero, cambiando el tema a algo que no me preocupa en lo más mínimo: noté que su nave espacial logró aterrizar de manera segura antes del ataque. Estoy bastante familiarizado con su configuración. De hecho, tenemos un modelo a escala muy bonito en uno de nuestros talleres: ¿te gustaría verlo? ”

Algunos de los pensamientos de Magnuss de antes ese día volvieron. Él también estaba un poco confundido; pero recordó haber pensado en el tiempo y el espacio y todas esas otras cosas que había dicho Madame Nellie, y las palabras mostradas en Ingeniería. Podría haber una explicación para todo esto a la vista. “Sí.” Él dijo. “Lo haríamos – mucho”. 

Dos minutos después, habiendo atravesado casi incontables pasillos, varios de los cuales habían roto y estaban abiertos al aire, ingresaron al taller requerido…

“Pero … ¡pero es el Tankerville Norris !” —Exclamó Hair-Trigger. “¿Cómo?”

Magnuss le dijo a su anfitrión: “¿Quién diseñó este barco?”

La respuesta fue instantánea y llena de asombro y deleite: “Por qué … por qué … fui yo. Diseñé esta nave. Y … y … si pudiera encontrar la placa de identificación, debería poder encontrar mi nombre en ella “.

“No hay necesidad.” Magnuss dijo mientras se acercaba con una mano restrictiva. “Se quien eres. Tu nombre es Bunson “.

El rostro de Bunson se iluminó. Pero cuando se alejaron del modelo a escala…

 … se puso más seria y dijo: “Soy Bunson. ¿Cómo puedes saber eso? “

“Porque”, explicó Magnuss, “tu subconsciencia incorpórea ha estado viajando mucho más allá de tu aldea enterrada. Has insinuado tu mente en los cuerpos de las personas, no solo en este mundo, sino también en otros. Has habitado un tapón para los oídos en el planeta Scroton, un mundo que ni siquiera existía cuando entraste en hibernación. Le regalaste el diseño de ese barco a los Scrotonites, quienes a su vez nos entregaron el artículo terminado a mi esposa y a mí, lo que nos llevó a Tah-Di-Tah, donde nos encontramos con una clarividente llamada Madame Nellie. De alguna manera, su conocimiento se transfirió a estas personas, su semejanza también. Es de suponer que esto se hizo mediante ejercicios de contorsión facial frente al espejo del baño. Pero, sea lo que sea, nos llevaste a este lugar en su momento de mayor necesidad. No sé qué talento te permitió hacer estas cosas,

“Sí.” Hair-Trigger estuvo de acuerdo. “Y también hay algo más. Ya no te llamas Bunson, al menos en Scroton. Eres Bunk-Bunk Bunson: y, te guste o no, eres un héroe “.

“Bienvenido al club.” Magnuss agregó. “Desafortunadamente, hay una penalización por ser Bunk-Bunk Bunson. No todo en el Tankerville Norris es tan perfecto como usted quiere que creamos. Por ejemplo, no podemos ver por la ventana delantera “.

“Sí.” Hair-Trigger gruñó. “Y no puedo creer que tú, como mujer, hayas diseñado el baño de mujeres. Es indescriptiblemente malo “.

Bunson no estaba preparado para la condena. “Ooh”, se las arregló…

Pero vendrían peores noticias.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Still Unwilling to Walk Away

In my post Never Quite Willing to Walk Away I reminded readers of the existence of my more serious works. Well the ones that sell from time to time – those being my ‘Silent‘ books. So I thought that the two that don’t sell should get an airing too. After all, if you don’t know what you’re missing, you won’t want to buy them, will you?  No, you won’t. So please be aware that this pair of books…

…remain on sale at most proper e-book sellers, like Amazon, B&N, Lulu, etc. And yes, Clive Thunderbolt is me. I use the name to distinguish the more violent (and slightly sexual) stuff from the family orientated (though still violent) Paul Trevor Nolan titled stuff. My son made up the name. It was supposed to show me that Tooty Nolan was a stupid name for an author – even if I am Tooty Nolan. He used Clive Thunderbolt as an example of another stupid name; and, to his dismay, I embraced it instantly – whilst missing the point entirely. Anyway, to the excerpts…

Captive Echo

“How the hell did you get here?”  Wycksford Chief Administrator, Alice Wilkins – echoed Katherine as she stood glaring across her desk at Wozniak.

Len, Katherine, and two armed guards – both of whom appeared considerably more professional than their opposite numbers in Brambledown – stood behind Wozniak, who was the only seated person there. The last time Wozniak had seen Alice Wilkins she had been handing him the keys to The Peaks.

“You’re the brain box around here, Alice.” He grumbled his annoyance.” All I know is that I went to bed in my version of The Peaks, and woke up in yours. I’m a mere passenger – and an unwilling one at that!”

“That’s it? How does that help us?” Alice clearly wanted more. She turned to Katherine, “Major – get him out of here: I’m a busy woman.”

‘Major?’ Wozniak thought in surprise.

Katherine must have read his mind. “Field commission.” She explained, “We’re on the brink of war with Droxfield. Please, Peter – there must be some significance to your being here. Think – is there anything that you might have missed?”

Though she tried to conceal it, Wozniak could hear the desperation in Katherine’s voice. He tried to cast his mind back to the previous evening.

“Well there was the phone problem. None of them worked.”

“You were isolated, then?” Alice leaned forward across her desk. “What about any other electronic equipment: was that affected in any way?”

“Is it significant?” Wozniak asked in turn.

“I don’t know.” Alice answered honestly. “Perhaps. I’m just collating information right now. Perhaps I can come up with a theory later. Well – was it?”

Wozniak shook his head “Nothing. Sorry. I didn’t watch television. I didn’t listen to radio. Yet, oddly, when I think about it, I did feel strangely isolated. And there was Len, of course.”

All eyes turned from Wozniak to Len Peters.

“His alternate in my reality spoke to me during the evening.” Wozniak tried to explain, “He said you were in trouble.”

“Len?” Alice enquired gently of the old man.

“I have these dreams. I dream about another Len Peters. Day dreams, I s’pose you’d call ‘em.” Len spoke clearly at first, but then stumbled. How could he explain the fact that for the entire duration of his life he had been in communication with his inter-dimensional twin from a world like this, but which was uniquely different?

But these people seem to know all about the other side,’ he thought, ‘Perhaps they’ll understand.’

It took a few more moments of introspection before he realized that they were all waiting for him to continue.

“He talks back. I know all about his world, and he knows all about mine.” He told them. “Between us we seem to understand more about our own worlds by seeing what happens in the other. I told the other Len about me killing Wozniak. I told him why I did it too.”

Wozniak got his question before the eager Alice could open her mouth:

“So why did you suggest that I could help? How did you learn about the events of last year? Surely it must have been totally hush-hush, need-to-know, sort of stuff on this side?”

Len was clearly hiding something. He shifted his feet like a nervous schoolboy, and his eyes avoided direct contact with anyone else’s.

Katherine cleared her throat.

“Ah, that would be me.” She announced.

“What’s this, Major?” Alice exclaimed. “Are we talking about a serious security breach here?”

Katherine gave her superior a look of apology.

“Len’s my uncle.” She explained. “I’ve always looked upon him as a sort of wise old owl. I tell him all my troubles: he helps me keep them in perspective. He helps me deal with things. When you told me about my mission last year – I went straight to Uncle Len. He gave me the courage to see it through. He’s not a security breach: he’s an absolute necessity and a guardian angel.”

“You didn’t tell me nothin’ ‘bout your rape.” The object of the women’s conversation complained sharply.

“I knew how you’d react.” Katherine replied without looking at her uncle. “I didn’t want you executed for murder.”

“Security breach or absolute necessity aside,” Alice interrupted, “what made you think this Peter Wozniak could do anything about our problems?”

Katherine placed a hand upon Wozniak’s shoulder. To Alice she said: “Because…oh I don’t know. It’s just that I felt he could help somehow. I know there’s no logic involved – but you’ve never experienced crossing over. You get feelings…Call it a sixth sense if you will. But it changes a person. Maybe it makes them more receptive to…Again, I don’t know. I can’t put it into words. But when I saw him in the road with Uncle Len, I wasn’t in the least surprised – even though I knew logically that he couldn’t possibly be there – here I mean.”

Alice sat down.

“Yet here he is.”

She decided to abandon any thoughts of recrimination.

“Despite all the contrary facts and theories we have concerning LDD, Mister Wozniak is here; and I’d bloody well like to know how he did it!”

Abruptly she stood again.

“But I don’t have the energy to ponder this problem right now. I don’t have the luxury of time on my side either. Droxfield aren’t going to get our data, despite what they think; and they are going to attack at some point in the near future, because I’m damned if we’re going to roll over and watch as the work of generations of Wycksford people is pulled apart – or worse. I’m needed elsewhere right now: Major – despite some aberrant behaviour committed by yourself and your uncle – your commission stands. Take care of things here in my absence. But do me this favour: just try to avoid crossing over into another space/time continuum whilst my back is turned.”

With that she collected a file of papers from a drawer, and left the room – her two guards scuttling out behind her.

The room seemed strangely empty to Wozniak now that only he, Len, and Katherine remained.

“Well I think that went well under the circumstances.” He said. “You’re still a Major, and Len and I aren’t locked up.”

Katherine dropped into the seat so recently vacated by Alice. It was still warm.

“If only she would allow someone else to oversee our defence.” She said. “She’s a good administrator: but she’s a better theorist. I don’t know why, but I’m certain that your transfer here is no coincidence. It must be vitally important. I just wish I knew why and how.”

“Look, my ego is big enough already.” Wozniak tried a smile as he spoke. “I don’t need to be told how remarkable I am: I know that already.”

Katherine smiled minutely. “It’s just that, contrary to what she just said to you, she does have the beginning of a theory. She told me about it a month ago. If she’s right – then the timing of Droxfield’s action couldn’t have been better timed. Or worse, perhaps – depending upon what happens next.”  She looked at Wozniak directly. “At the risk of exploding your ego into a state of megalomania – I truly believe that you can make a difference, Peter. Your timing isn’t necessarily the result of destiny – but it is serendipitous.” She stood again, and made for the door. “We’re not on war rations just yet: anyone hungry? I know I am. And maybe we can find an ice pack for those swollen bollocks of yours.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Present Imperfect

Wozniak, Janice, and Tom hadn’t wanted to draw attention to themselves as they slipped unobtrusively from the A&E waiting room of Crampton General Hospital, but such was their urgency to leave that they began scurrying once they’d emerged into the central corridor. Half way along its length Janice began to complain about the pain that her injuries were now causing her, so Wozniak simply picked her up, and holding her in his arms before him, he broke into a run. They emerged into the air at a fair gallop, and several nurses arriving for work were forced to skip aside.

“Sorry.” Janice called over Wozniak’s departing shoulder.

“Keys.” Tom said as he allowed his brother to catch up.

Janice fished through her pockets. She tossed the car keys to the large man. She then watched as he accelerated ahead, dodging a slow-moving road-cleaning truck, and approached Wozniak’s parked car. She also saw him pull up short. His body language suggested surprise.

Once the cleaning truck had passed, Wozniak placed Janice upon her feet, and together they were able to join Tom. They were shocked to see Amanda standing upon the opposite side of the vehicle.

“She wants to know how Connor’s getting on.” Tom informed them.

“Like you care!” Janice spat the words at Amanda.

“I do care.” Amanda said defensively. “I’d never wish harm on Connor.”

“That’s rich.” Janice scoffed. “You’re the one who put him in hospital!”

“I didn’t mean to.” Amanda looked chagrined. “Blame it on my adrenal gland: it’s designed to be over-active.”

Janice wasn’t giving up. “And your libido?”

“Ditto.” Amanda chanced a small smile, “Though I don’t believe anyone has ever come to harm because of that particular facet of my physiology. I’m guaranteed disease-free by the way. Totally immune, And I don’t carry.”

“That’s a relief.” Tom wiped his brow. “Not that I doubted you for a minute.”

“He’s in good hands, if that’s what you need to know.” Wozniak told her gently. “He’s in no danger.” He then added, “Where’s Jart?”

Amanda shrugged her shoulders. “He’s fast, but he’s not that fast.” She replied. “Once I had the car up to speed he gave up. I expect he’ll be making his way back to The Peaks by now.”

“What?” Janice exploded. “Dave and Judith are there. If he gets in…” Janice didn’t dare speak the words. “Oh my god – poor Judith!”

“And poor Dave too.” Tom added. “He’ll die trying to protect her!”

Amanda looked around the car park frantically. “You mean they didn’t come with you? When I saw your car go past like the hounds of hell were chasing it I assumed you were all aboard. That’s when I made my break for freedom. Oh fuck!”

Wozniak didn’t waste another second in discussion or recriminations. “Get in the car!” He shouted.

It had been a manic drive out of the town in the direction of Brambledown, and it had tested Wozniak’s driving skills to the limit. He’d prayed all the way that no police cars spotted him, and came in pursuit: He wasn’t about to stop for anyone. Tom had phoned ahead to warn Dave and Judith. Wozniak suggested that they lock themselves in the cellar, which they agreed to do. But now, as they drove into The Peaks, they could see the younger couple waiting for them at the door.

Hurrying from the car to the house, they were all beckoned inside. Once in the hallway, Dave shut the door and threw the heavy cast iron bolt across. Janice then proceeded into her natural habitat – the kitchen, whilst Tom joined Dave and Judith on guard duties.

“I promise – this time I’ll lead him away.” Amanda assured Wozniak as they entered the dining room. “If I’d known they were here I’d never have driven off.”

Wozniak turned and grasped Amanda’s shoulders. He could feel the incredible musculature beneath the skin. He felt certain that if she were to take on a fully-grown male chimpanzee in a fight, the chimp would be slaughtered in the opening seconds.

Amanda must have sensed his thoughts. “You think I’m tough: I’m breakfast for men like Jart. I could take on both Tom and you, and you’d both be dead before you’d even thought about where to land your first punch. Don’t be stupid: Don’t try to take him on.”

“We have a weapon.” Wozniak confided in her.

An eyebrow arched.

“He needs sunlight to reach his full potential, right?”

Amanda appeared to warm to the idea immediately. She nodded, and added, “Full potential, yes: But he’s still pretty awesome at half potential.”

“But he’s been using quite a bit of energy today, wouldn’t you say? What with all that chasing after you.”

Amanda shrugged her shoulders in ambivalence. “To a certain extent. But if he’s eaten…”

“What would happen if we were able to cut off his light source?”

Amanda paused to consider this before she replied. “He’d be running on internal power.”

“Like we do.” Wozniak said, a huge grin spreading across his face. “He would tire in a fight. Keep at him for long enough and he’d soon be knackered. One of us could get in the killing blow.”

Amanda dropped into a chair. Wozniak seated himself opposite her.

“Well there’s your problem.” She said as she stared sightlessly out of the window through one jet back eye, and the other appearing quite normal. “Keep at him long enough. How long is long enough. He’d have incapacitated or killed you all long before you reach that situation.”

Wozniak’s expression took on a look of cunning. “But what if we found ourselves some reinforcements? Lots of reinforcements?”

Amanda was intrigued. “Please – continue.”

Wozniak was about to speak when he found that his hands were empty. “Oh shit.” He said. “I’ve left my baseball bat in the car. Be back in a moment.”

He then stood, entered the hallway, and drew back the lock. “I’m just visiting the car.” He called through to Tom who was watching the garden.

He received a thumbs-up.

Wozniak had left the baseball bat between the front seats, so he automatically went to retrieve via the drivers’ side. He’d just dropped into his seat when the door slammed shut on him. He didn’t have time for a single expletive before the car was rocked violently, and turned entirely upon its side. Wozniak clung on to the steering wheel in an attempt to keep himself in position as the car continued to roll over. It then crashed down on to its roof, and Wozniak was toppled from his seat.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

 

 

Never Quite Willing to Walk Away

I may have mentioned this before – in fact I’m sure I have – but sales of my e-books have, for several years, been located somewhere south of Shitville. Of course the fact that I don’t really promote them hasn’t helped. But I’m used to this situation, and kind’a content with it. No taxes – other than the few cents I pay the U.S Government. It is a very rare occasion that I bother logging on to Lulu.com to find out how my published magnum opuses are faring, because, well, it’s not worth the bother and time it takes. Well today, in a moment of madness I did; and the situation remains grim. But there have been some sales. Namely of these…

And all were purchased by users of the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader. So, like the times previous to this, I thank all you Nookers who have taken the time to read the above tomes, and hope you enjoyed them. They were written so long ago that it feels like someone else wrote them. How could such decent yarns have emerged from my fevered imagination? But, because I’m never quite willing to walk away from my literary efforts, and because there are people who like my ‘better’ stuff, I thought it might be a good idea to display a couple of extracts here, right now. To strike while the iron is (if not hot – then) slightly luke-warm. And here they are – chosen entirely at random…

Silent Apocalypse

We reached the flint-built Methodist Hall without incident. It was, as we expected, thoroughly locked. From her childhood Candice knew of a roof light through which she and her friends would gain access ‘just for fun’. Wayne had been one of those friends. She shinnied up a drainpipe. Then, upon all-fours, she climbed a steep slate roof; disappearing over a low façade. Moments later she reappeared; gave us a thumbs-up; and then beckoned us to join her.

As I struggled up the drainpipe behind Lee I considered the chosen victims of the virus: What if it had attacked the young, leaving only octogenarians? How long would they have survived?  It began a train of thought in my head:

Why were we spared? Who would design such a weapon? Either it should kill your enemy, or not: Why be so selective?’

My thoughts were interrupted: Lee, whose hand was held out to help me up the last metre or so, whispered, “Shush, we think there’s someone inside.”

When I joined them on the opposite side of the façade, I too heard the muted sound of synthesized music emanating through the glass of the roof light before us.

“I wonder what he uses for electricity.” Lee echoed my own thoughts.

“I said he’s a nerd: Not an imbecile.” Candice whispered as she set about opening the roof light. “He always finds a way of getting what he wants.”

I swung from the roof light edge. Candice and Lee were already on the floor below me. It wasn’t far to drop, but I must be careful: My landing must be as silent as possible. In the event I didn’t need to: Lee found a chair onto which I could lower myself. From there we crept about the building like thieves. Eventually we found ourselves outside of a door, through which a rather repetitive form of music could be plainly heard emanating.

Candice stepped back and threw herself at the door, which succumbed to the first blow, and she went tumbling into a room full to the rafters with music sheets and   electronic equipment. But of Wayne there was no sign. Candice screamed in anger. Then we both saw what she’d seen already: multiple TV monitors showing views of both inside and outside the building. They included views of our route of ingress.

“He saw us coming, and he’s done a runner.” She growled.

I checked the monitors. Several doors were on view. None of them were open, and appeared to be locked.

“Maybe not.” I said.

Five minutes later we found Wayne hiding in a broom cupboard. He positively quaked at the sight of his former girlfriend.

“Scratch what I said about him earlier.” She said to us. “He’s a nerd, and an imbecile.”

To Wayne she sneered, “You’re bright enough to set up surveillance, but too stupid to plan your escape? What did I see in a no-brain like you?”

Wayne slowly emerged from the cupboard. He was less than cordial. “What do you want?”

He still had eyes only for Candice: As far as he was concerned Lee and I were mere peripherals. It was almost as though we didn’t exist.

“Your expertise.” She replied. “Electronics. Sonics. Computer wrestling. I don’t know exactly. You know – your line of work.”

“Are you gonna use it against Nige Hawley? If so, you can forget it: I don’t care what you threaten me with – I’m not going up against Nige Hawley.” Wayne appeared adamant.

“Who is Nige Hawley?” I enquired.

“You been living under a stone?” He looked at me for the first time.

“No, we’ve been fighting to survive, thank you.” I took an instant dislike to Wayne Fairgrove, “And don’t answer a question with a question.”

“He only runs the town, that’s all” Wayne almost spat out the words, “The only reason he hasn’t grabbed me yet is ‘cause I’ve hidden myself away too well for him to find me.”

“I’ve got news for you, lover-boy: The only reason he hasn’t found you is because he has no use for you yet.” Candice pushed him in the direction of his electronics room. “Guess who suggested this place to us.”

On the way to his room we explained how Steve had guided us to the former church. Wayne must have realized that his hidey-hole was now compromised because by the time we arrived at our destination his skin had paled and he’d turned into a nervous wreck.

“Pull yourself together.” Candice snapped at him, taking a cassette tape from her pocket. “We want you to find out what this is all about. Stick it on your computer: poke it through some filters, or whatever it is you do.”

After Wayne accepted the tape from Candice’s outstretched hand, Lee spoke: “What are you doing for power?”

Wayne slipped into his nerd role instantly. Once in possession of the tape, he set about his task with relish. He immediately began transferring the data from tape onto computer disc. He replied whilst working, “Got a genny down in the basement. Run the exhaust up the stink pipe. No one’s noticed it yet.”

Lee was suitably impressed.

To our collective amazement, it took a mere half-hour to find the buried information on the tape. He transferred it back onto the tape so that we could play it back without the need for power or extensive equipment. Lee and I were grateful for his help, and even Candice softened her approach slightly…

“So,” she asked him, “what are you going to do now your lair’s been flagged up?

“Don’t know. I haven’t thought ahead that far.” He replied.

“Well you’d better think fast, mate,” Lee told him, “When we let your mate loose, chances are he’ll pay you a visit.”

“Steve wouldn’t do that.” Wayne argued. “He’s an old mate.”

“Yeah, but that was before you helped us.” Lee argued in turn.

“But he wouldn’t have to know.” Wayne was looking desperate, “You could tell him that I wasn’t here.”

Candice stepped in. “We could, and maybe we will: but we can’t make him believe us. Do you really want to take the chance that Nige Hawley won’t come calling himself? We found the broom cupboard easily enough; I hardly think he’s likely to miss it.”

I took, what I considered, the kinder approach: “Perhaps you should come with us. Until you can find another permanent home at least…”

“Yeah, good idea.” Lee agreed, and injected a little urgency; “We tied that Steve bloke up; but there’s no knowing if his mates aint found him by now. We’d better get a move on.”

“But my stuff:” Wayne complained. “It isn’t exactly portable.”

Candice took him by the collar. “No – but you are. Come on.” Then she dragged him from the room.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Silent Resistance

Five minutes later Tasman and I sat in front of the monitor that showed the images that the camcorder had most recently recorded. Unsurprisingly the opening scene reflected the room in which we now sat. In the blink of an eye it was replaced by the wooden panelled interior of what looked to me like a fine English country house. In many ways it reminded me of my lost home.

Tasman must have picked up on a surge in my emotions because he slipped a hand into mine and squeezed gently. But those emotions were swept aside by what we saw next. From left of camera a tall, broad-shouldered man sporting a greying beard walked into view. He spotted the camera and made straight for it – stopping short and giving us a smile so fabulous that it must have warmed the heart of many a woman in its time.

“Janice.” He called to someone out of view, “We have a visitor.”

A heavy oak door opened from another room and a tall, willowy woman entered what I took to be a drawing room. She followed the man’s gaze. “Oh,” she said, “that wasn’t there earlier.”

“No.” The man replied. “I just watched it arrive. It just appeared out of nowhere. There was the faintest pop of displaced air. What do you reckon – dimensional relocation or time travel?”

Janice placed a finger upon her lower lip and pouted in thought.

“Peter.” She said almost admonishingly, “Do you really have to ask? Was it accompanied by a clap of thunder?”

Peter thought about it. “Not that I recall.” He replied with a slight grin that strongly suggested that he was thoroughly enjoying the situation.

“Then you have your answer.” Janice said as she apparently dismissed the mystery and made for the door, “It’s obviously from another quantum reality.”

After watching the door close behind Janice, Peter looked directly into the camera lens. He then used a colourful expletive and told us what we could do with our ‘LDD’ machine, that had we done as he instructed we would have required medical aid. A large hand then reached out and switched the camera off.

Tasman turned to me. “Wow.” He said. “People: ordinary people: in an ordinary house; who are apparently familiar with inter-dimensional travel. Did you notice that he was so matter-of-fact about it too?”

I didn’t think that the man named Peter was too enamoured with inter-dimensional travel. I said as much to Tasman.

“An Earth with more advanced technology perhaps?” Tasman surmised.

“Did you notice that they referred to time-travel as though it was commonplace too.” I said. “I wonder what LDD means.”

“Linear Dimensional Displacement, I expect.” Tasman answered. “I almost gave our machine that moniker, but Shane changed my mind for me; she said it sounded like an insecticide.”

“Perhaps we should place that reality off-limits too.” I suggested.

“I agree.” Tasman replied as he ran a pencil through the dimensional coordinates, “I’m not sure I want them knowing where we are.”   

 It’s a shame though.” I said slightly wistfully, “It was lovely seeing human adults again. I would love to have spoken to them. They may have been annoying at times, but I miss having adults around – telling us what to do and when to do it. That couple looked so comfortable together too. I wonder who they were.”

Tasman could have only imagined my feelings at that moment. Even if he’d read my mind I don’t think he could really have understood.

“Peter and Janice.” He said as he gave me a kiss upon the forehead. “Later we’ll propose a toast to them over dinner. Want to try some more?”

Naturally I agreed, and the second attempt to access an alternate Brambledown took the camera to an old country dwelling. This one was perhaps a little less ostentatious, but the decor suggested that the owner had both good taste and the money to go with it – even if most of the flat surfaces were laden down a little too heavily with what Kylie would have termed ‘expensive knick-knacks’. Clocks, glass, and porcelain antiques abounded. The loud ‘tick-tock’ of a huge grandfather clock filled the room. Between beats of the clockwork mechanism I thought I heard the sounds of doors closing in other parts of the edifice. It was late in the day, and the lowering sun blazed amber through two tall west facing windows. Footsteps could be heard approaching, and for some ridiculous reason I felt myself becoming nervous – as though we were about to be caught stealing about someone else’s home. I jumped when a door opened abruptly and a teen-aged girl in a pair of rather grown-up slacks, a cardigan, and a pair of flat slip-on shoes walked past the camera without noticing it, and descended a flight of stairs into a basement.

Tasman turned to see me in a state of confusion.

“That girl.” I shouted as I pointed towards the monitor. “I know her. She’s dead!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

It’s strange that I chose that particular extract at random, because it links these two books with the central characters of these two books…

…and was little more than a throw away scene. But, I remember, I was so enjoying writing Silent Resistance, that I couldn’t help but include a smidgin of important elements from books that were also a joy to create. Hubris? No, I just love my characters too much.

 

 

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 22)

The end is close, I can feel it in my bowels. Still, enjoy it while it lasts…

Meanwhile, in the remnants of the buried village, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger had discovered a strange room that seemed to defy the laws of physics…

“Not only the laws of physics,” Hair-Trigger grumbled, “but the laws of aesthetics too.”

“It could be the result of a radiation leak.” Magnuss suggested nervously. Then, to cheer himself up, he added: “Alternatively it could be a piece of equipment that has turned on automatically when it detected our presence, but because it has been sitting idle for centuries, needs re-calibrating.”

This was a much more palatable idea, but Hair-Trigger didn’t really care one way or the other: the sight of it just made her nauseous. So it was with great relief that they crossed it in good order and quick time, and exited through a handy doorway…

“Ah, this is more like it.” Magnuss said as Hair-Trigger gave the previous room a quick backward glance of contempt. “This looks more earpluggish.”

But, as the blue corridor opened on to (what Magnuss presumed was) a large thoroughfare…

…he felt a little less certain of his last statement. And Hair-Trigger absolutely hated it. But as they found themselves falling into a strolling motion, the similarity to a busy city street occurred to them…

“This is kind’a nice.” Magnuss said as he smiled for the first time in yonks. “In its hey-day, this must have been a very popular place. You can imagine all the crowds at night – out on the town and going to shows and restaurants and things like that.”

Hair-Trigger wasn’t convinced. “This was a scientific community – full of egg-heads and people with larger-than-average brains – thinking up really advanced stuff and then making it work.”

Magnuss wasn’t going to argue: maybe they were both right. But then he thought that they both might be wrong too, because…

…they found themselves standing in front of a huge video wall that featured them – as seen in Madame Nellie’s tent. There was no audio, but both earplugs could recall their earlier words.

“Magnuss,” Hair-Trigger said with a voice that sounded uncharacteristically small and uncertain, “how is this possible?”

Magnuss had to think about that. To think most efficiently he imagined himself standing in the bright glow of a spotlight…

But as he allowed his mind to wander into realms of fantasy he ‘felt’ the touch of a mind. It was suffuse and indistinct – but, he was certain, very real. He also knew that this mind linked the present Tah-Di-Tah with the world it was pre-Tah-Di-Tah. That the mind existed in both eras – or, he corrected himself, had existed in both eras. It was a bit confusing, and when he returned to the moment, he couldn’t put his thoughts into words. So he decided to ‘follow his nose’. And his ‘nose’ led him into a dark red corridor…

…which Hair-Trigger found infinitely more pleasing aesthetically; but had Magnuss feeling pangs of trepidation. Where was he leading them? What was he leading them into? But whatever it was, he felt certain that this was the correct route. And when they turned the corner into another corridor…

…he couldn’t help but notice that the redness had lessened. Could it be that they were approaching the end of their search?  And when they reached the end of that corridor they came to a brief ante-room…

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Magnuss asked his new wife.

This was not the sort of question that Magnuss would have asked Hair-Trigger previously. Perhaps it was the fact that she was now his spouse that made him feel the need to be more protective. Hair-Trigger, in her wisdom, recognised this:

“Oh you silly husband,” she said pleasantly, “of course I do. It’s what I do – remember?”

So, without further ado, they entered a room that, at first, they thought was a laboratory. But when they looked more closely…

“Oh-no,” Hair-Trigger wailed in horror and defeat, “it’s a mausoleum. We’re too late. A thousand years too late!”

But Magnuss thought not…

“Hang on, Hairy.” He said. “This isn’t a place of the dead: it’s a hibernation centre. When they realised that the village was going to be submerged, everyone chose to go into suspended animation – hopeful that they would be retrieved before too long.”

Hair-Trigger was relieved by this: she hated decay in every form – especially earplug form. But as Magnuss went to investigate a panel that he thought looked promising, Hair-Trigger thought that the hibernation pod beside which she stood smelt ‘funny’…

“I think this one’s dead,” she said carelessly. ”It honks something terrible!”

But whilst Magnuss failed to reply, Hair-Trigger was shocked when a face appeared upon the pod’s occupant…

“Magnuss,” she yelled shrilly, “strike what I just said: we’ve got a breather.”

Magnuss was doubly shocked by this. Not only had he failed to anticipate that one of the pods might be faulty and allow it’s occupant to rouse from permanent slumber: but, within his mind he could also feel the tendrils of the ethereal intelligence strengthen…

Putting two and two together he surmised that the rousing earplug and the mental awareness were one and the same. So he reinvigorated his attempts to understand the control panel that he believed operated the hibernation pods.

“We’ve got to get that earplug out of there before he or she dies.” He cried.

He then added: “Stupid machine – work!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 19)

So now we return to the main thrust of the story…

Chapter 7

Meanwhile, just above the atmosphere of Tah-Di-Tah…

…the Tankerville Norris was positioning itself above the site of the former fiord. Inside Magnuss and Hair-Trigger watched as the beautiful planet revolved beneath them…

“Oh, it’s so lovely.” Hair-Trigger warbled in open admiration. “Look at it, Maggie: isn’t that worth saving?”

“Indeed it is.” Magnuss agreed. “So let’s get down to Engineering and try to figure out how we’re going to use the Gravitonic Multiplicitor.”

A short while later…

“I don’t understand.” Magnuss said in puzzlement at the lack of bolts holding the device to the deck. “How are we supposed to un-do bolts that aren’t there?”

In response, the ship spoke directly through Hair-Trigger…

“This isn’t the Gravity Whelk, you know. This is an up-dated version of the Gravitonic Multiplicitor. It stays in situ. So you just select your co-ordinates, and get the heck out of here until the job is done.”

So it was a very relieved married couple that set about the task of choosing exactly where to point the miraculous device. But when Hair-Trigger returned from visiting the toilet, she was less than impressed with Magnuss when she found him watching an episode of Destination: The Stars

“Don’t fret, darling.” Magnuss said nonchalantly, “it’s all done. Let’s retire to the bridge.”

So, as the ship adopted a stare-down position…

…they did just that…

…whilst the ship targeted a location that lay between the land and the sea. Then, without any further communication the Gravitonic Multiplicitor fired its ravaging energies through the main deflector dish…

Quickly the adjacent atmosphere erupted with light and energised dust particles…

…and the beam of energy tore into the centuries of silt, crud, and other soil-like stuff that defied description…

…where it blew it high into the air, which caused all sorts of weather-related anomalies that created (amongst other phenomena) vast electrical storms. And it was into one of these that the Tankerville Norris plunged as it raced to see the results of the Gravitonic Multiplicitor’s labours…

And, just as Magnuss was beginning to feel the early on-set of motion sickness, something wonderful appeared on the main holo-viewer…

The village was revealed in all of its strange violet glory…

“Fantastic.” Magnuss cried out with glee. But then thought he saw an insurmountable problem: “Well there it is: but what are we supposed to do with it? How do we get down there?”

The ship responded in the only way it knew…

“Urk!” Magnuss managed before atomic dissolution. And he repeated himself when…

…he and Hair-Trigger re-assembled elsewhere.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 18)

Welcome to another (not terribly) exciting episode…

Shortly, having crossed Fort Balderdash to the Non-Commissioned Officer’s mess…

…Jo and Wetpatch let themselves in, where they had to first push aside an unserviceable all-terrain attack vehicle so that they could access the sole com-panel allowed by the cavalry’s restricted budget…

“There is only one guy in the universe that can get us out of this kaka.” Wetpatch had said as they departed Major Leftfoot Badger’s office. “So we’d better pray that he’s still in the museum.”

A minute later the panel lit up to reveal Nigel – the Golden One; his unnamed personal assistant; and Walker Crabtrouser – Chief of the Scrotonic Armed Forces, about to board their spaceship home…

“Wait!” Wetpatch yelled in near-panic. “Golden One, we have great need of your help!”

Naturally, being a reasonable guy and all-round good egg, Nigel paused his entry into the ship’s airlock. “Cavalryplugs.” He said as he recognised the staff sergeant’s uniforms. “I will always make time for the military. How can I help you?”

Quickly Wetpatch explained the situation – to which Nigel held up a hand in an attempt to stay the sergeant’s tongue further. “The Omnipresent Scanner problem can be explained thus.” He said. “The Tankerville Norris is equipped with a latest-generation Gravitic Multi-Thingamy-Whatsit, which makes it impervious to multi-phasic scans over vast distances. But as regards to actually finding them…well I’m not sure how I can offer assistance.”

“We wondered if you might lend us a ship.” Jo blurted. “We could go look for them. Space is big – but not so big that a concerted effort wouldn’t be completely unsuccessful – probably – maybe – if we looked really hard.”

“Oh dear.” Nigel said as he turned to Walker Crabtrouser for help. “I do believe we disassembled the ships that Magnuss rejected. And, unfortunately, the assembly instructions were used by a junior rating who couldn’t find the lavatory paper cupboard, and used them to…ah…well I leave it to your imagination.”

Wetpatch and Jo were crestfallen. Now all they could do was hope that the information about the Gravitonic Multiplicitor’s effect on the Omnipresent Scanner would be enough to placate Cushions and Hunting. But Walker Crabtrouser had an idea…

“Golden One,” He said slowly – as his thoughts coalesced and allowed him to speak, “I think I might have a partial answer to their prayers.”

Then, in Scrotonic, he explained. He finished with: “Well – Whatta ya think?”

“Inform the Captain that there will be a delay in our departure.” Nigel said to his Personal Assistant. Then, to Wetpatch and Jo…

…he said: “Gentlemen, it appears that I was a tad premature. There was a fourth vessel assembled from flat-pack; but no one thought that Magnuss would be attracted by a stripped-down, black-ops, stealth ship. It’s in our hold, with just a few bungee cords holding it down. I’ve got some scissors to snip them – if you’re interested of course.”

Two hours later an almost-invisible craft climbed silently into the night sky…

It scented the vacuum of space for the spore of its sister-ship – the Tankerville Norris. And having detected its ion trail, set out in pursuit…

And (nominally) at the controls…

…sat Wetpatch Wilton and Jo Frayzer.

“Ooh-er,” Jo said appreciatively, “this ship sure can motor, can’t it, Wetpatch?”

To which Wetpatch replied…

…”Flipping heck, yeah.”

Then, to the other four cavalry-plugs who had volunteered to act as crew, he added: “Any ideas what we call this baby?”

Naturally, being of long-standing in the military of Worstworld, they weren’t used to giving their imaginations free reign. They all came up empty. So it was left to Jo to make a suggestion…

“Um,” he began, “how about we let the ship choose its name? It’s probably got a better idea than any of us. What about it, Ship?”

And, like the other ships that had been created from the designs taken from Bunk-Bunk Benson, the ship spoke its name in utter silence. But the crew now knew that they were aboard the Chuck Winker, which surprised them because Chuck Winker was a terrestrial actor who starred in Magnuss Earplug’s favourite science-fiction show, Destination: The Stars.

“Whilst I’ve been here on Earth”, the ship then explained, “I’ve been watching re-runs on cable TV. They’re really very good. I like Chuck Winker: I think he has real on-screen presence. I’ve downloaded all the episodes. When I get back to Scroton, I intend to re-transmit them world-wide. I know what you’re thinking – but we have no copyright laws on Scroton, so it’ll be fine.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 16)

Thank you for staying with this tale for so long. I know it sometimes seems interminable, but the end – or the ‘finale’, as I prefer to call it – is in sight (sort of).

By the time the Tankerville Norris had returned to the city, the rain had blown away. It was late, but the sun still shone from a beautiful blue sky…

But when the intrepid earplugs visited Madame Nellie’s tent…

…they found it empty – with the exception of a sign that had been left by its former occupant…

“That’s very convenient.” Hair-Trigger hissed angrily. “Too much of a coincidence, if you ask me.”

This gave Magnuss an idea. After checking that Madame Nellie hadn’t changed her name to Madame Flub to avoid taxes, they revisited the Bazaar, where they sought out the two earplugs that had sent them to Madame Nellie’s tent the night previous…

“Nah,” the darker of the two reprobates replied to their questioning, “we don’t have the first idea where she is.”

“She just paid us to send potential customers to her.” The pale earplug added.

“How many other customers did you send her?” Magnuss inquired.

They looked at each other. The dark earplug then said: “Actually only two. You two. After you’d gone, she gave us each a hundred Smackeroos and told us that our services were no longer required.”

“Easiest hundred Smackeroos I ever made.” The pale earplug said as he fingered his hidden wallet appreciatively.

At first Magnuss and Hair-Trigger felt helpless. They simply didn’t know what to do next. So they wandered to the Old Quarter, where they hoped to spot Nellie amongst the inhabitants…

It was a long-shot, and failed miserably. Then Magnuss remembered the spy camera that he habitually wore in his breast pocket. It looked like a normal pen, but it recorded movies with monaural sound.

“I was wearing it in her house.” He said whilst grasping at metaphysical straws. “Maybe if we show it to people, they might recognise either her face or her house.”

So they did…

But no one had even heard of Madame Nellie. “Maybe you both dreamed it.” A blue End Cap suggested. “Is it possible to share a dream?”

Soon failure piled upon failure…

…and as dusk approached and the shadows fell long between buildings, all four of their combined feet hurt like heck.

“Let’s get back to the ship.” Hair-Trigger said as they wandered down yet another Tah-Di-Tah back street. “We’ll go and look at that ancient village we found in the history banks.”

Shortly the Tankerville Norris was approaching a beautifully sun-lit hill…

Magnuss and Hair-Trigger were becoming excited because just beyond it should lay the ancient village. But when the ship swooped into (what should have been) the fiord, the deflated earplugs aboard discovered that…

…it was completely silted up, and that a very nice road bridge now crossed almost a hundred metres above where the village had once stood.

“Curses.” They yelled as one. “Thwarted again!”

So it was with a feeling of despair that they had the Tankerville Norris return to its natural environment…

If vacuum could conduct vibrations, anyone outside the ship would have heard Magnuss’ angry bellowing – along with the tinkling sound of a teaspoon as it whirred around and around, with a degree of violence only matched by a category five tornado, inside a mug of coffee.

“I don’t want any coffee, Hairy.” His voice would have been heard to roar. “It keeps me up.”

Hair-Trigger’s voice was considerably quieter, and might not have been detectable by the imaginary person with his or her (or it’s) ear pressed to the hull: “It’s decaffeinated.” She said.

This seemed to calm Magnuss. Making a cup of coffee and handing it to your angry husband was such an ordinary, day-to-day thing to do. It released his stress. “Oh, thank you. How many lumps of sugar did you put in it?”

“None.” Hair-Trigger replied. “We’ve only got sweeteners on board.”

Magnuss, unlike many earplugs of his generation, was perfectly happy with fake sugar, so he gladly accepted the coffee. Whilst Hair-Trigger finished up at the coffee work station, he returned to his library interface.  And it was as he stared at the con fusing, often seemingly contradictory information before him that he began to see a correlation. Turning to Hair-Trigger…

…he said: “Hairy; we need to get down to Engineering pronto.”

By now they had grown familiar with the route; so it only took half the usual time to reach the bowels of the ship…

“I’m not very good with tech stuff.” He said as Hair-Trigger followed him into the compartment. “Turn it on, will you?”

Moments later Hair-Trigger’s dainty fingers danced across the controls, and the hologram generator burst into life…

“It’s all about time.” Magnuss explained – which pleased Hair-Trigger because, of all her favourite science-fiction movies, she liked those that featured time-travel the most. “We’ve been looking at this the wrong way ‘round.”

This also pleased Hair-Trigger because she thought they’d been looking at the problem from the right angle: to find that her famous husband now turned the situation on its head meant that she need not fret anymore. “Good.” She said. “Whatta ya mean?”

“Nigel – the Golden One – told us that Bunk- Bunk Bunsen had travelled back through time. That the design of the Tankerville Norris, Scroterton Pancake, and the Sir Goosewing Grey were more advanced than anything we have today because it came from the future. What if he only assumed that they came from the future? Or that Bunk-Bunk Bunsen told him that because it was easier for him to accept?”

Not for the first time during their many convoluted conversations did Hair-Trigger make the mental leap expected of her by Magnuss. “What did you find in the library computer?” She demanded.

“The village in the fiord.” Magnuss replied with building excitement. “We assumed that it was a primitive fishing village, which might or might not have had a football team. It wasn’t. It was a technocrat’s enclave. All the brainiest earplugs of the planet went there to study and to experiment with futuristic ideas and technology that they developed there. That was a thousand years ago. It was destroyed in a cataclysm of unknown origin. Then a tsunami swept in and covered the ruins in sea bottom and silt.”

By now Hair-Trigger was shaking with anticipation. “I know what you’re going to say.” She squealed. “The reason that the computer can’t correlate the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah with anything today is because this world wasn’t called Tah-Di-Tah a thousand years ago.” 

“On the nose, my super-intelligent, sweet wife.” Magnuss bellowed. “It was called something else completely – which I don’t know and don’t care. The secret of the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah lay a hundred metres below that road bridge.”

“And we have to dig it up!” Hair-Trigger yelled shrilly. “But how?”

At that point the ship passed on some silent information to the couple. They turned to regard the Gravitonic Multiplicitor…

“If it can move worlds,” Magnuss said whilst the machine hummed in near silence, “a nice road bridge and a few hundred thousand tons of sea floor should be no problem at all.”

But just as they set about figuring how to utilise the Gravitonic Multiplicitor, the ship went to Crimson Alert…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Tooty’s Pissed Off Again

I didn’t think it unreasonable of me to expect to add The Age of Stone to my list of free e-books on this blog’s sidebar. I mean, every other book is there: why not the latest? Well WordPress had other ideas. The ‘Classic’ posting system just wouldn’t  work. I mean, it wasn’t even there to try. And the new ‘Block’  system (which I loathe with an intensity usually reserved for recalcitrant ink jet printers and DVD players that can’t recognise that there is a DVD in the tray) just sat there and did nothing – for ten minutes – before I gave up; called it several names, none of which are printable here; cursed the designer of the ‘block’ system to perminent impotence, considered creating a voodoo doll; and decided on an alternative course of action. And this is the alternative course of action. All Earplug Adventures in PDF Format Unexpurgated & FREE! Yup, there’s a page beneath the header that now contains every Earplug Adventure file, which can be accessed by anyone and everyone absolutely free. And very nice they are too. Well worth a visit. Now, if WordPress would kindly allow me, I’d like to remove those free e-books from their fucking sidebar. But I’m not hopeful. Bunch of shits.

 

The Age of Stone – in it’s entirety – FREE!

You may have missed the odd episode of The Age of Stone along the way; but that doesn’t matter anymore because the free PDF version has arrived for you to either download and read at your leisure (and perhaps share with your friends), or to read in situ right here. Try to comprehend the magnitude of this wondrous offer: it is unequalled in the history of literature and photography. All those photos: all those words: all that creative genius – absolutely FREE! Just click on the book cover image, and it’s all yours, yours, yours!

Earlier Earplug Adventure books are also available too. Just click on the side bar images to access  them. Or, better still, visit the All Earplug Adventures in PDF Format Unexpurgated & FREE! page beneath the header.

Perfectly Imperfect

I figured that if I exhibited a sample of one of my Causality Merchant books, I would be remiss if I didn’t do the same for the sequel…

So please accept this extract from Present Imperfect.

Janice looked about her in wide-eyed wonderment. The interior of the Courtney’s home was like a living museum. Snatching a look into the kitchen from the sitting room in which she now stood, she caught sight of an open cupboard – complete with boxed food stuffs that included Bisto Gravy and Kellogg’s Cornflakes, and unbelievably a plunger-capped bottle of Corona Lemonade. Mavis removed a tea caddy from the cupboard, and closed the door.

Looking away Janice noticed a quiescent television set in the corner of the room. She hadn’t recognized it at first because of its apparent disguise – that being its construction of lacquered wood, and its subsequent vague resemblance to a piece of furniture. She was reminded of her earliest memories – of visiting her grandmother in her house of brown-on-brown décor and yellowing picture rails and dull whitewashed ceilings. Of wall paper that dated from before the Second World War.

“Oh, I see you have a television.” Janice tried to sound impressed at the presence of a piece of ancient technology.

“What’s that, dear?” Mavis popped her head around the doorframe as the kettle began to whistle.

Janice nodded towards the TV. “I don’t suppose everyone in the village has one of those?” She said.

“Oh, the telly.” Mavis all but dismissed the device. “That’s George’s pride and joy, that is – though I don’t know why: there’s hardly anything on it, and when there is you can’t see much of what’s going on. Me – I like the cinema. Those Technicolor pictures are wonderful. I can’t see telly ever catching on.”

Any further discussion on the merits of cinema verses television was interrupted by the sound of child coughing upon the floor above. Janice automatically looked heavenward.

“Oh that’ll be Wallace.” Mavis answered Janice’s unspoken question. “Poor little mite – he’s had that cough all day and all last night. If he’s not showing signs of getting better by morning I’ll take him to see that lovely new doctor at the surgery. He’s quite a dish. Have you met him? I think his name’s Doctor Traynor.”

For a moment Janice forgot herself, and lowered her guard.

“Doctor Traynor?” She blurted. “He’ll still be here in forty years time!”

Janice couldn’t quite describe the look she received from Mavis. But after a moment she said, “Oh-no, I shouldn’t think so: he intends going places. He wants to be one of them Harley Street specialists.”

Janice felt that she should try to explain her outburst.

“What I meant was – I expect he’ll fall in love with the village, and decide to spend the rest of his life here. I’m sure I would: it’s a lovely place. So tranquil.”

“Some would call it a bit boring.” Mavis returned to the kitchen to pour the tea. “I know George wouldn’t mind leaving if the right job came along. Take sugar, do you?”

Mavis wasn’t aware that Janice had risen and followed her into the kitchen, so she was startled when Janice spoke from directly behind her.

“Two please. Is that a new gas cooker?”

Quickly recovering, Mavis replied proudly, “Isn’t it smart? It arrived this morning. George had it fitted before he went out. Bob Langtry did it in a bit of a rush: George’s the treasurer of the Ancient Order of something-or-other, and had to be off a bit sharpish. I’m not really supposed to use it until he’s a had a proper check – but with the old electric stove unplugged, and sitting in the garden, I couldn’t boil the water for Wallace’s hot water bottle and our cup of tea any other way. I’m sure it’ll be alright.”

Janice thought back to her childhood. She tried to recall the distinct aroma of the gas used during that era. She couldn’t, but she was certain that she’d recognise it when she smelt it. As surreptitiously as possible she scented the air.

“Would I be right in thinking that they use piped town gas here?” She inquired. “It doesn’t come in a steel bottle or anything like that?”

“We’ve just been connected to the mains.” Mavis informed her knowledgably, “They spent a fortune extending the pipe up from Crampton. Funny, isn’t it – us country-folk using town gas? Don’t seem right somehow.”

“Perhaps they should re-name it. They could call it Coal Gas.” Janice pretended to agree with the young mother. “But aren’t you worried that it might be dangerous?”

“What – compared to electricity? No of course not.” Mavis exclaimed. “And it’s a sight better to cook with too, I can tell you. My sister swears by it. Instant heat – instantly off. No more milk boiling over. Now that has to be a safety feature.”

Janice nodded, but she looked about as convinced as she felt.

“Well doesn’t the thought of suffocation worry you?”

This was obviously a subject upon which Mavis had conversed before.

“George says that as long as the equipment’s working fine and there’s no blocked flue, there’s no chance of that happening. Next you’ll be suggesting that it might explode in the middle of the night!”

This thought was foremost upon Janice’s mind. She bit her lip with indecision.

Mavis noticed this.

“You do think it’s going to explode, don’t you?” She spoke in a puzzled tone. “Now why on earth would you think that?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

One of these days I’ll write the sequel to the sequel. It’s not like I don’t have time or anything. But for now both Causality Merchant e-books are still available. You can access the better-known suppliers by clicking on the images on the side bar.

 

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 27)

Shortly after everyone had re-integrated themselves with the disco groove, Chester met  with Susan’s primary sub-unit, and Magnuss with Hair-Trigger.

Susan suggested that Chester and she should “Adjourn to the open air”, which Chester pretended to think about for half a nanosecond…

And Magnuss asked Hair-Trigger if she would marry him…

Fortunately the music volume was just low enough to let him hear her reply.

“Yes!” She yelled. “Yes. It’s about bloody time: I thought you’d never ask!”

Of course, standing so nearby, Chester and Susan heard everything. So it was with a cosy glow around them that they abandoned the crowded dance floor…

…and strolled into the open air of the Age of Stone exhibit…

“Up you go, Chester.” Susan said as she changed shape and slipped her ‘head’ beneath her earplug chum…

…“Let’s go somewhere quiet. Let’s get lost in the Age of Stone.”

So they did, and they had a bloody good frolic in the moonlight through the castle’s giant buttercup garden…

“Whee,” they cried in unison, “this is the best day of my life!”

Meanwhile the Rhubarb Crumble had received a summons from Mars, and so had returned to its home planet under the command of the autopilot…

The timing was impeccable because, in the rest room the entire engineering staff was watching the credits roll on the last episode of Season Two of Destination: the Stars…

“I think that was excellent. Perfect, in fact.” Budgitte Wilgoss opined.

To which Lawrence Endocarp responded: “I concur wholeheartedly.”

And Douglas Dungipon added: “And the TV show wasn’t bad either. But it’s not a patch on real life. I wonder what those Earplug Brothers will think of doing next.”

“Whatever it is,” his supervisor replied, “I hope they don’t invite us along. One adventure is quite enough for me.”

The End

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Captive Audience

I can’t recall the last time that I posted an extract from this e-book…

…but suffice to say it’s been a bloody long time. Too long: people will forget that I ever wrote serious sc-ifi mysteries. So, in an effort to re-set the creative balance of nature, here’s a smidgin of Captive Echo…

Wozniak’s bank account was still far from overflowing, but the future appeared rosier for him than it had in a very long time. His new secretary may have had a great deal to do with the resurrection of his self-confidence, and many of his friends had taken to Janice Gale in a big way – none less than his agent, Wallace Courtney, who was speaking with Janice over the telephone.

Janice was perched upon the end of a sofa in Wozniak’s small flat overlooking London’s Docklands. From her vantage point she could look out over Old Father Thames, and much of the city beyond. She was a country girl born and bred, and at first she’d found it difficult to adapt to the hustle and bustle of the capital of England. But with Wozniak’s help, and more surprisingly – her mothers’ blessing, Janice had done so, and was enjoying life more than at any time that she could remember since leaving behind the innocence of childhood.

Her laughter was light and gentle as she conversed with Wallace.

“Are you kidding?” She was saying. “I couldn’t hold him back. He wants to get started on another script as soon as he can. But first he wants to complete the tie-in novel that will accompany the show.”

She listened to Wallace’s cheerful questioning for a few seconds before replying, “No, he doesn’t have any firm ideas on future stories at the moment: but he knows that they’re bound to come. It’s all about location, location, location – or so he says.”

Once more she paused to listen.

“No – he’s gone on ahead. I have a few details to go over with Tommy down at Clarridge Productions – you know about the interview with Peter for the special edition DVD re-release of Clash of Symbols. Then I’m going home too. You realize that it’s almost a year to the day that Peter and I got together. Yes, we’re going to have a quiet celebration: Then with luck he’ll have my drawers down quicker than you can say ‘alternate reality’, and we can commemorate the occasion in the time-honoured manner that any two horny bastards should.”

Laughing loudly at Janice’s lewdness, Wallace signed off, and Janice replaced the receiver. She considered calling Wozniak, then looked at the time. She chose to wait until later: she had business to conclude.

Wozniak strolled into the grocery store in Brambledown’s main street as though he was the prodigal son returning home. He rubbed his newly grown beard absentmindedly before picking up a shopping basket. It looked so strange in his huge hands, and he wondered what he’d been doing the last time he’d carry one. Certainly life hadn’t been half as good as it was now.

Miss Witherspoon appeared from out the back. Wozniak’s beard was no suitable disguise against one of his greatest fans…

“Why if it isn’t Mister Wozniak! Oh I’m so glad to see you again.” She cried out gleefully

“Hello, Miss Witherspoon.” Wozniak responded – giving the older woman a smile that was guaranteed to melt her heart. “How’re things in the great rural metropolis?”

Things’ seldom changed much in the sleepy village of Brambledown –usually for decades. One year was much like another. People grew older, and new children were born into the village. It was all perfectly reciprocal – that is until the year previous…

“They never did find out what happened up at that scientific place, you know.” Miss Witherspoon informed Wozniak as he approached the cash register.

“Thank goodness for that.” He replied. “I’ve just written a make-believe story about what happened there: I’d be ruined if they found out the truth.”

“Oh, so you’re writing again? That is good.” Miss Witherspoon tried to reach across her cash register to hug Wozniak. “I s’pect that lovely Janice Gale has a lot to do with that. I always wondered if some lucky man was going to find her out one day. I’m so pleased it was you.”

Wozniak winked at her.

“You and me both.” He said. “I’m in The Peaks for a few days: I just need the basics. You know – caviar, champagne…”

“Ooh, I don’t know about them.” Miss Witherspoon responded. “How about milk, tea, butter: that sort of thing?”

“Sounds like heaven to me.” Wozniak replied – his smile widening as he felt his heart go out to the women standing before him.

At that Miss Witherspoon began scurrying around, filling Wozniak’s basket with the necessities of life.

“Janice with you, is she?” She asked.

“Still up in London. She should be along tomorrow.” He told her.

“That’s good.” Miss Witherspoon grinned cheerfully. “Send her round when she arrives, won’t you: I want to know all about life in The Smoke. Do you want this on your tab?

Wozniak opened his wallet. He was about to say “No Need,” but, as usual, it was lighter than he’d hoped. “Ah, yes,” He replied – his smile falling. “Perhaps that might be a good idea. Jan will put you right tomorrow.”

With that he made his farewell, and climbed into his large estate car.

Wozniak felt an intense blast of wellbeing as he drove through the village. Several people recognized his car. He felt quite like royalty as he returned their waves.

Turning into Pikes Lane he was half-afraid he might spot a small sports car sliding toward him. Although a year had passed, but now that he’d returned to the scene of the crime, events suddenly seemed all too fresh. Perhaps writing about it time after time – honing his work – had kept it very much alive in his mind, even if most of the people involved in the incident were now dead. With a spine-chilling sense of déjà vu, he caught sight of Tom, the now ex-postman, pushing his bicycle. He had no choice but to pull over.

Tom responded to his hail with, “Blow me down – if it aint Mister Wozniak. You aint got one of them manuscript thingies for the missus to send off by any chance, have you?”

Wozniak recalled the last time the older man had asked that question.

“Well you never know, Tom.” He said cheerily. “There’s always a chance.”

“Hope it’s better than that one they showed on telly the other day.” Tom said – climbing aboard his bicycle.

“One of my old shows was on television?” Wozniak was thinking of the royalty cheque he could expect in the post. “Terrestrial was it?”

“Nah – on me satellite dish.” Tom seemed almost dismissive. “Detective show, it was.”

Wozniak’s shoulders slumped. His one foray into police drama had not gone well for him. The results hadn’t been quite what he – or the production company – had hoped for. The story had been weak, and the director inept.

“That was an old one.” He said. Unable to avoid a critique – even when he knew it would be bad, he added, “What did you think of it?”

“Honestly, Mister Wozniak?” Tom responded sadly, “I thought it was one of the biggest load of bollocks that I’d seen in years. I hope yer next one’s gonna be better.”

Wozniak gave him a sickly grin. “I think we can safely assume that. See you later, Tom.”

With that he drove on.

The action of steering his vehicle into the grounds of The Peaks brought back his sense of well-being. It was only when he parked, and the gravel of the driveway crunched beneath his feet, that the memory of Katherine Marcus’ strange little sports car came back to haunt him once again – dismissing his lightening mood in an instant.

‘Is it really a year since that unbelievable night?’ he asked himself silently.

He began to wonder if somehow he’d managed to blur the line between fact and fiction in his final script: Could it all have been true? Really? Wasn’t there a chance that he’d allowed his imagination to run away with him? That his script lay somewhere between fact and fiction? An amalgam of both perhaps? He shook his head: he knew the truth.

The Peaks was just as he remembered it. Mrs. Wilkins had changed nothing – not that she needed to: the house came as close to perfection as it is possible for any edifice to come. His step was jaunty as he entered it.

After stocking the fridge, he went for shower. The water heater was still giving trouble.

Even paradise isn’t perfect’, he thought.

By the time he’d dried himself off and dressed, he was surprised to find that the time was well past six o’clock.

Too late to call Jan now,’ he considered, ‘she’ll be over at Connies’.

“I’ll catch her later.” He spoke aloud to the room.

The sun was far from setting, so Wozniak treated himself to a walk about the garden. This killed perhaps a half-hour. A year in London had altered him. He could no longer lounge about doing nothing: he needed to entertain, or be entertained. Normally his word processor would prove sufficient for his needs – but that required unpacking – and he remained as inept with wires and sockets as he’d always been. He sought solace elsewhere.

Entering the Muck and Bullets public house, Wozniak was disappointed to find it devoid of clientele. Claude, the landlord, stood alone behind the bar watching the television news. He jumped when Wozniak asked for a pineapple juice.

“Well if you aint a sight for sore eyes, Mr. Wozniak.” Claude grinned “Wait ‘til I tell the wife: she’ll be over the moon. You sure a pineapple juice is strong enough? I seem to remember you’re a brandy man.”

Wozniak couldn’t remember which one of his many middle-aged-to-elderly female admirers was married to Claude; so he said, “I’m here for a short break, Claude: she’ll probably catch me in the street sometime. And yes – the fruit juice is fine. Whichever one you have to hand: I kind of went off brandy.”

Claude rattled some ice cubes into a glass, and handed it to him. He opened a bottle of pineapple juice, and emptied half of it into the glass – placing the half-empty bottle beside it.

“Well you won’t go making my fortune with that.” He half-stated – half-complained.

Wozniak looked about the empty bar.

“Quiet tonight.” He observed.

“Like the blinking grave.” Claude nodded toward the television, “Footie’s on tonight: England against somebody. These days blokes like to stay at home with a few cans from the supermarket. Times have changed: it aint so much fun runnin’ pubs no more.” He lamented. “If you aint got satellite TV and a full-time restaurant, you’re well and truly buggered.”

“I suppose you are.” Wozniak responded – casting his gaze about the dark half-lit room.

‘Cutting down on electricity consumption?’

He had no wish to sit alone; but neither did he want to spend his free time lamenting the end of civilization with a morose bartender.

“Still,” he continued, “being the only surviving pub in the village, I suppose you have something of a captive audience.”

Then he noticed a pair of well-worn steel toe-capped boots protruded from within a snug. He indicated the direction to Claude.

“So I’m not entirely alone, then?”

“That’ll be Len. Len Peters.” Claude replied, “Funny bugger he can be sometimes. Believe anything – he will. Reckon he’s a bit keen on them flying’ saucers and stuff like that. Don’t talk to him much, m’self.”

“Sounds like my sort of man.” Wozniak grinned – taking his purchase, and making for the snug.

It took little more than a handful of paces for his long legs to carry Wozniak to his destination – a semi-enclosed area featuring a central rectangular table, with high-backed benches to either side.

From Claude’s description he had expected a man of few years – slightly spotty, wearing spectacles and an anorak; so he was surprised when a bearded septuagenarian looked up from his beer.

“Hello.” Len said gruffly. “Thought you’d turn up again. Figured you couldn’t stay away.”

“And a good day to you.” Wozniak remained unruffled. He responded with, “Have we met?”

“Not so much that you’d notice.” Len’s cryptic reply came.

Wozniak didn’t like being manoeuvred into asking questions. Nevertheless he was instantly intrigued.

“You’re right there.” He said, turning away – hoping that Len Peters wouldn’t let him leave without finishing what he’d started.

“But you will.” Len stressed the last word.

Wozniak couldn’t help himself:

“Will?  As in a future tense? I thought we just did.”

“Depends,” Len took a sip from his glass, “on what came first: the chicken or the egg.”

Wozniak allowed his eyes to narrow. Len looked straight into them. The big man chose to sit.

“Okay,” he said – lowering his large frame onto the bench that faced the mysterious elderly man, “you’ve got me snared. I don’t know a damned thing about you; but you obviously know something about me.”

“Do you believe in dreams?” Len asked obliquely.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

I really should get back to ‘proper’ writing. Naturally this book remains active in the market place. Should you be interested, some of the better known retailers are mentioned behind the book covers on the side bar. Just click on the image.

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 25)

“I think that went very well.” Miles said as the five heroic earplugs watched the ship attain orbit…

 …“I think things could have worked out rather worse. A pat on the back all ‘round?”

Rudi smiled at this. “At the very least, man.” He replied.

Susan, in her many parts, was feeling much the same way. Every sub-unit had something to say, even if all the others knew exactly the words it would use…

“You know,” the primary sub-unit said to the others, “I’m feeling like I’m in some sort of girlie gang. It’s fun, isn’t it? Girl power!”

But as fun as it was, Susan reintegrated for her role of Captain. And she wasn’t surprised to find the engineering staff had returned to their DVD box set…

Also she was less than surprised when Chester sought her out, and they stood at an observation window and watched asteroids pass by on their way to a collision with the planet below…

“Poor little asteroids,” she said with a smile that – if she didn’t straighten her face soon – she feared might become perpetual, “of all the planets to pick on, they chose the Supreme Being’s. I can see him getting quite annoyed.”

She continued to smile all the way back to the bridge, which left Chester free to join his brothers…

“Flipping heck,” Magnuss exploded, “look at the distance we’ve covered in just fifteen minutes. That’s Sirius that we’re sweeping majestically by. Worstworld is just around the corner. It’s half way to Earth. Another fifteen minutes and we’ll be landing at the good old Museum of Future Technology…

Of course it was a fifty-fifty chance that the museum’s location on the planet’s surface would have it smothered in the cloak of night, which meant that the Age of Stone was too…

Already the castle’s grand hall had been made ready for the celebratory discotheque. As the ship landed and its crew disembarked, Hambledon Bohannon was warming up his futuristic, but wonderfully 1970s retro, turntables…

And earplugs from the museum proper were making their way to the Age of Stone exhibit…

But many were already standing in line in corridors bedecked with fabulous drapes…

Even the Graveyard Avatar had managed to drag itself and a number of acolytes along…

“Oh, isn’t this lovely?”  She cried with glee. “This stone is so cold and foreboding: it’s like being at home.”

Further inside the castle, huge light screens had been erected…

…which looked really neat and bathed the stony interior in a chill blue light.

“Like it.” Doctor Snippentuck, the resident incompetent plastic surgeon was heard to utter. “When I can afford it, I’m going to get my surgery decorated like this. It’ll be the talk of the town.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

DDW: Downloads Doing Well

Have to say, it’s nice to see downloads of the free PDF copies of my Earplug Adventures moving along nicely. I like to imagine people are actually enjoying what they find there. For the seven days covering 25th August 2021 to the 31st, an average of 4.6 downloads were made every day. Not setting the world alight, I know; but someone’s taking the time and trouble. So well done. Anyone interested in repeating this act can do so by accessing the files via the Free Earplug Adventure Ebook page beneath the header at the top of this post. And you don’t have to download them: if you like you can read them in situ. Do so and enjoy those exciting tales featuring this bunch of wassocks…

 

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 20)

Any further conversation was thwarted when a final decline…

…preceded their entry into (what Rudi described as) an arboretum…

It was tough going, and Rudi was almost tempted to pull his Swiss Army machete from his utility belt…

“Hey, man,” Valentine said whilst pushing his way through thick fronds of vegetation, “did they let the gardener go or something?”

But, just as suddenly as the arboretum had begun, it ended and they found themselves standing on an area that was clearly unnatural. Equally suddenly, the group felt decidedly ill-at-ease…

“Where to now?” Susan inquired of no one in particular…

Then she enjoyed a moment of inspiration and duly dissolved into her multitude of parts – some of which soon discovered a building with a long, low window…

Exploring it further, Valentine and Susan’s primary sub-part discovered a steam vent…

…into which they peered minutely…

It was whilst they considered the unlikely usage of steam-powered energy in the Galactic Court that Susan’s tertiary sub-part spotted something huge and scary.

“Aargh,” she screamed, “it’s huge and scary!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 18)

 As instructed by the Supreme Being, the temporary crew of the Rhubarb Crumble ignored the celestial warning sign, and flew directly to the planet that they presumed housed The Galactic Court of Justice…

It appeared icy, but Magnuss knew that appearances could be deceiving. With the power of the Supreme Being at their disposal, those responsible for running the Galactic Court could make it look any darned way they wanted to. And whilst the crew went about their business, no one noticed the nosey God of Wayward Computer Monitors peek into the bridge…

But when the ship descended, and the planet’s surface became visible on the main viewer…

…everyone, including Magnuss, wondered if it was going to be possible to breathe on a barren planet that clearly possessed no atmosphere.

“Do we have any pressure suits aboard?” Magnuss asked no one in particular.

Miles had taken it upon himself to become the ship’s storekeeper. He checked the inventory on his monitor. “Nope.” He replied. “Apparently they’re yesterday’s technology: we don’t bother with them anymore.”

“How are we supposed to go outside the ship?” Rudi asked reasonably enough. “What if we’re holed by a meteor or something?”

Miles consulted his screen. “Ah, it fixes itself. I guess nobody figured the crew would leave the ship in an airless environment. They didn’t figure anyone would be so stupid.”

Valentine was about to say something like: “Far out, man: that aint no groove!” when external sensors detected an atmosphere developing. Not a thick one; but an envelope of gases sufficiently dense to allow a vapour trail to form behind the Rhubarb Crumble

This came as such a surprise to Susan (who had never dreamed such an unexpected event was possible) that she lost physical cohesion for a moment and two of her periferal bodies fell over and rolled around on the floor…

Suddenly doubts began to form in her shape-shifting brain. She took part of herself away to the darkened solitude of her ready room…

But when she noticed her slave monitor displaying something that looked suspiciously like open liquid-form water, hope swelled…

Particularly when mist became apparent, thereby suggesting the presence of moisture and warmth in the alien air. And this was more-or-less confirmed when the previously barren rock took on the hint of a green tinge.

Before long Rudi and Valentine found themselves in the Life Sciences laboratory…

…from where they could see an ocean forming beneath the ship. Even better was the fact that the read-outs now…uh…read a breathable atmosphere.

“Hey, man,” Valentine said appreciatively, “aint this supposed to be impossible? I sure dig it. Know what I mean? Totally cool – with a capital K. But these sticky-out pipes are still giving my knees a hard time.”

Much the same feelings (minus the painful knees)were being displayed in the Engineer’s rest room…

Douglas was probably the most thrilled of the trio. “A volcanic island,” he yelled as he led the others in a mad dash from the room. “Proof-positive, if any was needed, that this planet’s appearance is a result of a controlling intelligence. Let’s get up to the bridge and tell the Captain to land immediately!”

Well they did, and before long the Rhubarb Crumble swept down from a rapidly expanding sky…

“Okay,” Susan said, following a deep inhalation, “find somewhere flat and firm, and put this baby down.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 15)

So Cushions took the only course of action open to her: “Right then; I’ll be off. Good luck. See ya.”

With that she went straight to the exit and turned back to take one final look at the Rhubarb Crumble’s first (and hopefully not last) crew.  One of Susan’s multi-bodies took the Captain’s chair, where she stumbled upon the dimmer switch for the bridge lighting…

The boys were amused, but Susan’s other parts were less so. Components of shape-shifters weren’t supposed to work autonomously; of their own volition; off their own bat; or any other descriptive phrase for individualism.

“Sorry,” she said, “my finger must have slipped. I’ve only had them for two minutes: I’m not used to the way they feel. But I’m sure it’ll come to me.”

Then she realised that she still hadn’t returned the illumination levels to earplug normal. “Oh, sorry again.” She said as she stabbed at the dimmer switch…

Cushions took this as her cue to leave. Five minutes later the flying saucer blasted from the surface of Mars…

Naturally the principal component of Susan replaced her secondary part in the Captain’s chair. In doing so she activated the ship’s main viewer, which displayed a misty picture of the ship yard…

“Look at that,” Chester said as he leaned towards the nominal Captain, “dawn already: we’d best follow Cushions’ lead and be on our way.”

Susan concurred; but moments before she announced lift-off, Cushions had boarded her portable Omnipresent Scanner and had used it to send them a farewell message…

“Boys,” she said gravely, “once again the Museum of Future Technology is indebted to you – even if I am indebted to the bank personally. I’m sure you’ll be entirely successful: but if you’re not, don’t worry about my credit rating – I’ll probably be dead or incarcerated in some dismal dungeon inside the Age of Stone – if and when you get back. By-ee.”

Susan had little patience for sore losers: a split second later the Rhubarb Crumble’s lifting motors fired…

And shortly after that everyone felt slightly odd as they entered the void beyond the planet’s feeble atmosphere…

Miles listened surreptitiously as Chester said to Susan: “Have you ever been in space before Susan?”

To which Susan replied: “Yes; once.”

“Were you space sick?” Chester inquired nervously.

Susan answered in the affirmative. “Several times…copiously.” She added. “I lost my job as an interplanetary translator as a result.”

This wasn’t exactly what Chester wanted to hear, so he ran around to the other side of the chair, which placed him opposite the exit…

“Perhaps you should adjourn to your ready room.” He suggested. “I think there’s a sink or vanity basin in there for you to vomit in.”

It was a sound, logical suggestion, but saying it was much easier than doing it. Her vast bulk almost filled the tiny cabin…

…and she knocked her com-panel off its plinth, which sent sparks flying.

“Drat.” She said – before doing this…

“Oh,” she said, “how strange: that electrical discharge has cured my queasy organ that’s analogous to the earplug’s tummy. In fact…

…I’m rather annoyed that I’ve been forced to flee my many duty stations. Right: I – or rather we – are coming back.”

Moments later…

“Captain on the bridge.” Rudi announced as he stepped down from his self-appointed position in the Captain’s chair.

“I’ll have to remember that trick – the next time I feel ghastly.” Susan said through a smile. “Can someone set me up an electrical socket in this chair? One I can stick my finger in.” She then gave her first command in space: “Okay, here we go: fire up the main drive.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplugs Without Pictures 13

Ever wondered what the Earplug Adventures would look like minus the photos? Might their absence highlight the shortcomings of the writing? Well let’s find out, shall we? Here’s a couple of brief extracts. In this case from this tremendous tale…

As usual there are two brief extracts presented. Both chosen by Mr Sheer Randomness.

“Ladies, Gentlemen, and P.C Wilts,” Runt spoke clearly above the building excitement that ran like a raspberry ripple through the assembled V.I.Ps, “may I present to you the Tubo Di Tempo. It’s a new, mini version of the Tunnel Temporal – designed by the brilliant Italian scientist, Piggies Du Pong.”

“If you don’t mind me saying,” the charming (if ancient) former movie star, Sir Dodger Muir interrupted, “Piggies Du Pong doesn’t sound overtly Italian. Rather, I’d wager the fellow hails from either Belgium or France.”

“In your era, perhaps.” Runt replied. “But in Piggies’ era he’s Italian; so shut it, okay?”

Sir Dodger was about to author a dazzlingly witty riposte, when his train of thought was interrupted by the activation of the Tubo Di Tempo and the arrival of two bug-eyed weirdos from another time zone. Instantly the newcomers addressed Cushions Smethwyke. With a curt bow the smaller-nosed of the couple introduced itself as Glumb Kimball and its huge-hootered associate as Hombolt Whale. “Greetings from the future.” It added. “What do you think of the Tubo Di Tempo?”

Cushions wasn’t sure how to respond: and P.C Wilts’ expression betrayed his instant dislike of the pretentious twerps from a clearly technologically superior era. “Er…very nice.” She managed. Then growing in confidence she added: “A lovely shade of blue. My favourite. Well my second favourite actually. I’m rather partial to a warm orange glow.”

“How wonderful.” Hombolt Whale squeaked through it’s huge, but obviously restricted, snozzle. “Because when it’s turned on at this end it glows orange. Regarde s’il vous plaît.”

Moments later the Tubo Di Tempo did just as Hombolt had promised.

“There.” Sir Dodger grumbled. “Told you it was French.”

But even as the ageing thespian was speaking, so too was Glumb Kimball: “Well we’ve left a copy of the owners’ manual with your Time Techs, so, if it’s alright with you, we’ll be on our way to our own era. It’s much nicer there, by the way. By-ee.”

With that the time-travelling duo stepped into the tiny maw of the machine and disappeared in an instant. Naturally Cushions rushed forward to deliver a blistering farewell insult, but she was too late and needed to be consoled by the former bounty hunter and part-time curator, Hunting Provost: “Don’t concern yourself, my delightful love interest.” He whispered into Cushions’ ear. “They were ugly sods with big bulgy eyes: the future’s welcome to them. And they’ve left us with something really valuable.”

“They have?” Cushions inquired as everyone crowded around to take a look at the wonder from the future..

“Of course.” Hunting spoke in a conspiratorial hush. “Now we can start charging visitors for trips into the Museum of Future Technology twice. Once in this era; and again when they go into the past. I bet, if we take a look at our bank accounts, we’ll find that we’ve already begun amassing a vast wealth before we’ve actually begun sending anyone through. All we need to do is actually set the metaphorical ball rolling. We need to find new-arrivals with no prior knowledge of our earlier time travelling problems.”

“Yeah.” Cushions replied as she let her gaze wander past Hunting. “People who aren’t scared of visiting the past and run the risk of getting stuck there. And I think I know the very people.”

AND

Naturally Mincey had one thought on her mind: a means of generating income. And she waited until the RoboSecGua had fallen far astern of them before bringing up the subject. It was a wise decision to distance herself from the security robot, because at that moment the star-struck RoboSecGua was in the act of encountering a stray plugmutt. “Hello, little fellow.” It said in its best friendly tone, which wasn’t very friendly at all because its voice box was a low-grade type and could only produce a nasty, tinny monotone. “What is your name and what are you doing out here on your own?”

Plugmutts, in general, possess a limited vocabulary and this one was no exception: “Heathrow.” It replied. “Heathrow out here – look for you.”

This reply surprised the RoboSecGua; plugmutts seldom sought out officers of the law. “I am surprised by your reply.” It said. “Plugmutts seldom seek out devices such as I. Why?”

“Beige female earplug.” Heathrow answered. “She bad news. She Sir Dodger’s estranged daughter. She no like famous movie stars. She jealous as heck. She want something. No trust her.”

This worried the RoboSecGua more than it cared to admit. “Flipping heck!” It exclaimed. “I hate to think what she might be doing to the wondrous Sir Dodger – as we speak!”

Well what Mincey was doing was not enjoying a guided tour, which included the amazing spectacles that were so powerful that they could see all the way around the world and up the viewers trouser leg.

“By the Saint of All Earplugs.” Mincey squealed. “I had no idea my buttocks were so dimpled!”

But she felt more secure in her emotional state when they took a stroll towards the Future Alps Exhibit. So it was then that she chose to drop her verbal bombshell: “Dad.” She began, “You know that you’re a museum curator and all that? Well, I was wondering…what with you being really old and stuff…might it be possible that you retire, or die or something, and give the job to me? I’ve got plans for this place; and I think that I’d do a much better job than that toothy git, Cushions Smethwyke. What do you think, Dad? Good idea or what?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the The Time Tamperer vol 1 cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file. By the way, in addition, and also – you can access all the Earplug Adventure files (including Vol 2 of this exciting tome) on the sidebar by clicking the cover images.

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: La Era de la Piedra (parte 4)

Are you ready for some more bad translation? Go right ahead.

Pero lo peor estaba a punto de sucederle al heroico Magnuss. Mucho peor…

De hecho, fue solo cuando descubrió que la monstruosidad masiva no tenía dientes y que su aparente tisis no dolía que se dio cuenta de que la situación no era tan mala como había anticipado. Pero no fue muy divertido asomarse entre un par de encías sofocantes …

“Oi,” gritó su voz apagada, “no puedo respirar aquí. Me estoy privando de oxígeno. Si insistes en llevárteme, ¿quizás podrías colocarme en un lugar más espacioso?

“Oh, lo siento.” Respondió el armatoste de materia verde. “No me di cuenta. ¿Quieres una habitación con vistas? Aquí, estaciona tu trasero allí “.

  

Aunque alarmado por el repentino aumento de altitud y preguntándose cómo había llegado allí, Magnuss tragó una bocanada de aire. “Gracias.” Él dijo. “Um … ¿a dónde vamos?”

“Allí.” Llegó la respuesta.

Magnuss miró con horror desde su posición elevada. “¿Subiendo ese empinado ascenso y dentro de ese túnel misteriosamente oscuro?” Preguntó estridentemente, antes de agregar: “Si me caigo, me romperé el estúpido cuello. Y, seguramente, es probable que me agarre la frente con el techo del túnel “.

“No”, respondió la cosa verde, “Soy adaptable. Cuando lleguemos a la cima, me agacharé “.

Como así fue; pero eso no hizo que Magnuss se sintiera más alegre: el túnel realmente estaba oscuro …

Y seguía siendo oscuro …

… incluso cuando Rudi llegó al final de la empinada subida …

Olfateando el aire con su sensible nariz, Rudi revisó el área en busca de algún olor a su hermano desaparecido. Inmediatamente detectó al menos tres de los característicos pedos alimentados por el miedo de Magnuss. “Magnuss”, gritó, “¿dónde estás?”

Mientras los tonos estentóreos de Rudi se filtraban a lo largo del túnel, Magnuss estaba en el acto de ser devuelto al suelo …

“Sube por la rampa y baja por el túnel oscuro”. Gritó en respuesta. Luego se dirigió al montículo que tenía ante él …

“Eres un idiota descarado, lo eres”. Él chasqueó. “Secuestrarme y todo eso: está fuera de lugar. No me impresiona. ¿Quién eres y qué estás haciendo en la exposición Age of Stone? “

Bueno, naturalmente, la respuesta llegó instantáneamente. “Soy Susan”. Susan, respondió la gran cosa verde. “Me han contratado para acompañar este artefacto en el tiempo desde el futuro. Soy una especie de manual del propietario y guía para el cliente, todo en uno. Pero no podía arriesgarme a que estuvieras tan asustado por mi apariencia y tamaño que escapaste y te lesionaras en un terrible accidente. Sentí tus miedos e incertidumbres, incluso antes de que abrieras la puerta. Así que te agarré antes de que entraras en pánico e hicieras algo de lo que te arrepentirías “.

Magnuss quedó impresionado. “¿Sentiste mis miedos e incertidumbres?” Dijo lleno de asombro. “¿Tú … eres un empático del futuro?”

“UH Huh.” Susan respondió. “Bien, ¿no?”

Mientras tanto, y habiendo localizado a Magnuss, Rudi decidió usar su enlace telepático fraternal para transmitir la noticia a los demás …

Concluyó con: ‘Así que vengan aquí pronto’.

A la orden dada, Valentine, Chester y Miles abandonaron la cabina telefónica de inmediato …

“Qué ritmo”. Se escuchó pronunciar a Valentine bajo el sonido de la incesante nevada. “Bajemos.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Oh, if only Valentine’s ‘jive talk’ could translate. Sigh…

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: La Era de la Piedra (parte 3)

More dodgy translation from English into Spanish, I’m afraid. Enjoy anyway.

Naturalmente, fue Magnuss quien abrió el camino a través de la aburrida puerta peatonal. A medida que sus ojos se acostumbraron al nivel reducido de iluminación, su cerebro de silicio fue quemado por la incredulidad absoluta ante la gran escala de la exhibición de La Era de la Piedra …

“Cor”, dijo, “miren el tamaño de esto, muchachos: ¡no es ni la mitad de grande!”

Y, cuando Rudi, Valentine, Chester y Miles se unieron a su hermano ultra aventurero …

… ninguno de ellos estaba a punto de discutir con su resumen.

“Dando vueltas, Magnuss”, gritó Chester, “no solo hay este castillo cercano: ¡sino otro más allá también!”

Miles, el gemelo de Chester, agregó rápidamente: “Pero es una caminata malditamente larga. Echemos un vistazo a este castillo cercano: podría haber un sistema neumático de tránsito rápido que nos llevará allí en un santiamén y, por lo tanto, salvará el cuero de nuestros zapatos con recursos ecológicos “.

Entonces, sin más preámbulos, se dirigieron hacia la abertura más obvia en los poderosos muros de piedra del ‘castillo’ cercano …

—Oye, tío —se quejó Valentine—, la imagen del letrero de bienvenida fue tomada en verano. ¿Por qué tenemos que llegar aquí en invierno, eh?

Era una pregunta justa: y cuando empezó a pseudo-nevar …

… Los demás también empezaron a quejarse. De hecho, se estaban volviendo cada vez más tacaños. Chester, en particular, estaba sufriendo mucho: casi se atraganta con un falso copo de nieve que acompañaba el aire que entraba en sus pulmones …

“Hmm”, se dijo Magnuss, que abrió el camino, en voz baja, “podría tener que hablar con el Comité de Salud y Seguridad sobre eso, a pesar de que los detesto por su oficiosidad y pedantería puntillosa”.

Esto fue seguido rápidamente por: “Y creo que el museo también necesitará proporcionar calzoncillos térmicos: me siento decididamente frágil en el área de la base”.

Todos asumieron que el “clima” no era más que un truco de bienvenida. Que la situación mejoraría rápidamente, y que (en lugar de sufrir sabañones) todos podrían comenzar a prestar atención absorta a la notable tecnología de ‘piedra’ de la era futura de donde vino. Pero estaban equivocados …

“Crikey, está empeorando, en lugar de mejorar”. Magnuss dijo en voz alta.

Pero a Miles no le importaba nada: le encantaba jugar en la nieve, aunque no fuera real. Pero después de un tiempo, incluso él estuvo de acuerdo en que encontrar refugio debería ser una prioridad …

Así que, mientras Miles, Chester y un Valentine que todavía gruñía se instalaban en una alcoba que podría haber sido una cabina telefónica de piedra futurista, Magnuss y Rudi siguieron adelante en busca de alguien que pudiera decirles adónde ir y qué hacer …

Pero de alguna manera se separaron en el virtual-whiteout, y Magnuss, presa del pánico, comenzó a probar cualquier puerta que pudiera encontrar …

¡Incluso puertas traseras! Afortunadamente éste dio paso a su insistente martilleo, y una vez más sus ojos fueron asaltados por una iluminación de tipo inferior. Pero cuando la puerta comenzó a cerrarse detrás de él, y la habitación se enfocó, no podía creer lo que estaba mirando …

Era grande, verde y aterrador en al menos trece niveles de fruncimiento de glúteos …

Luego, para completar el horror de Magnuss, hizo esto …

Por supuesto, Magnuss se volvió para huir. Pero ya era demasiado tarde: el sorprendentemente ágil gigante dio un salto imposible y aterrizó encima del desafortunado tapón para los oídos …

¡Ooof!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 5)

Meanwhile, whilst the brothers closed upon his position, Magnuss had engaged Susan in further conversation. So, when they arrived in the vaguely green room at the end of the dark tunnel, he was sufficiently educated to introduce his new friend to the others…

…and inform them that (although the exhibit was very advanced technologically) Susan was concerned that it’s altered and abbreviated programming for use in an earlier era had inherent flaws and weaknesses. He told them that the scientists in the future had scoffed at her fears, saying: “But they’re a bunch of comparative savages back then: how are they gonna hack into our fabulous programming? Don’t be stupid! Now get on with your bloody job and stop complaining.”

This amused the boys, and they stopped looking at Susan as if she was a huge weirdo. In fact Chester thought she was ‘Kinda cute – in a gargantuan way’.

But then, suddenly, without prior warning, or minus any hint of anticipatory concern, a shudder ran through Susan’s vast frame…

Being telepathic themselves, and therefore blessed with a certain amount of empathic talent, the Earplug Brothers picked up Susan’s condition.

“What is it, Susan?” Magnuss inquired.

Susan didn’t respond immediately. Instead she began perambulating. Naturally the boys followed her. As they did so, they heard her whisper: “I feel something. Tendrils of some terrible intelligence. It’s attempting to hack into the Age of Stone’s programming.”

“Are you sure?” Magnuss interrupted. “I mean, we’re so backward here in this era. That’s why they sent the Museum of Future Technology back to this time – because we don’t have anything that comes close to affecting it.”

Susan ‘harrumphed’ in reply; then extended her ‘head’ so that Magnuss was thrust higher – towards the distant ceiling…

In an instant he became aware of a distant light. “Ah, is there supposed to be a light up there?” He asked.

But before Susan could reply…

…Magnuss instinctively knew the answer. The light was either coming closer, or it was growing in size. Magnuss didn’t like the look of it. He said as much. But when it enlarged again, he tried to make light of the phenomenon…

“Ah, Susan,” he said in his chirpy way that fooled no one, “I think you have visitors.”

In response Susan moved more quickly that any of the Earplug Brothers thought was green-blobbishly possible. Almost instantaneously Magnuss had been returned to the ground, and she had stretched herself to her fullest height…

“Ooh, yeah.” She said in a tone that gave away no clue to her state of mind. “There’s definitely something there.”  

But then an image formed…

…and the boys were left in no doubt…

“Argh!” She screamed in a voice that had ascended to a pitch that was on the very upper range of earplug hearing. “We’ve been hacked. I was right all along. Something has taken control of The Age of Stone!”

Magnuss and the others, if nothing else, were quick on the up-take. They quickly reasoned that if something was capable of hacking into such advanced programming, it (or they) were very advanced themselves, and that through the exhibit they could spread out and take control of the Museum of Future Technology too.

“Argh!” They cried as one. “Bum too. What a sod…

…And we’ve only been here half an hour too. This is galling in the extreme. Run! Run!”

“Hah-hah-hah,” a familiar, yet unfamiliar, voice boomed, “that’ll teach you. What it’ll teach you I’m not quite sure of; but you can count yourselves taught, that’s for certain. Oh yes, Earplug Brothers: it’s payback time!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Revel in the Ribaldry 35

Too much time has passed since our last delve into the world of Hamster-Sapiens. So on with an extract from this masterpiece of ribald hamster fiction…

Once again good old randomness has chosen the extract. It’s this one…

Everyone crowded around the education computer as it parked itself in the centre of the lounge. Its single ‘eye’ looked up into the face of Ho. “Ya been callin’ m’lud?” It said in an inquiring tone.

“Yeah.” Ho hissed urgently through excited incisors. “Tell Ho how Crustacean guys perhapped.”

“Cripes, dude.” The machine replied, “You’s askin’ a whole lot from the merest education computer-thing. I aint got the words whatta make no sense to guys like you guys is. I got the real shitty talk, y’all.”

Ho looked to Wetpatch for a translation. But instead of responding, the school-hamster addressed Kevin directly…

“Can you produce a computer printout instead?” He asked.

It didn’t matter how many times that everyone pored over the resulting computer printout, not one of the hamsters present was sufficiently qualified in computer-speak to fully understand it, or even begin to. It was just so much ‘Gahg’ to them. Or even ‘Yalg!’

Even Branston had been instructed to drag himself away from the Security Camera Office to cast his expert crew-person’s eye across the multitude of barely decipherable figures, icons, and multifarious digital crap. But all Branston could conclude was, “Well it looks to me like the ocean is criss-crossed with sub-atomic Trans-dimensional Conduits. Where they are, and how we access or navigate them, is beyond me. But that’s how the council perhapped: They contemplated their way into a potential alternate reality, and were taken there in the aforementioned web of quasi-existent tunnels that permeate our reality.”

Blur, who had left her post as the controller of the captain because she was bored and lonely, had never really noticed Branston before. To her he was just a fat little voyeuristic geek with a false sense of omnipotence about him whenever he was seated upon his ‘throne’ in the Security Camera Office. But his summation of the computer printout suggested that he had hidden depths: That he was more than the sum of his few parts.

“Ooh Branston,” she breathed into his ear after he’d left the room, and was half way back to his duty station, “you were so masterful just now. I can’t say that you’ve particularly impressed me previously; but I can’t help thinking that you have hidden depths. Perhaps we can exchange plumb-bobs? I believe that you may be more than the sum of your parts. I’d like to feel some of your more private ones.”

Branston smiled inwardly: He was indeed more than the sum of his parts. He’d had the foresight to pre-empt Ho, and had already visited Kevin previously. He’d managed to interview the education computer for almost a full five minutes prior to Ho’s beckoning. From the resulting verbal diarrhoea that was excreted from Kevin’s voice box, he was able to comprehend just enough to impress everyone when the inevitable call for his assistance came. He could no more read a computer printout than he could insert the prow of the Bargebutt into his rectum: But he could certainly act well enough to convince everyone – including Blur, for whom he’d had a ‘thing’ since joining the crew – and now his foresight was about to bear fruit.

“Yummy.” He said.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Naturally this e-book remains on sale at most respected e-book stockists. Check out the sidebar book cover shots to access some of them. Be bold.

 

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 2)

A mere hour and a half later, the millions of kilometres between the area that Rudi had designated Pongy Space, and the Museum of Future Technology, had been traversed…

“Cor,” Chester gushed characteristically, “these Hyper-space attack ships sure do shift. By the way – where are the brakes?”

But the younger of the twins needn’t have worried about crashing headlong into their beloved emporium: Valentine – skilled as he was at piloting vessels such as the Punting-Modesty XL5 Facepuncher…

… pulled the saucer up short with plenty of microns to spare. Within moments of disembarkation, the five-some stood upon hallowed ground…

“Ah, that’s better.” Miles said as his eyes ranged here, there, and everywhere. “Anyone fancy a ghastly coffee at Café Puke?”

Magnuss, now feeling better once upon terra firma, was about to reply, when they all heard the annoyingly metallic (and monstrously mono-tonal) voice of a Robot Security Guard – more commonly known as a RoboSecGua – as it called for their attention…

“Flip me sideways,” Magnuss whispered out of the side of his mouth to Rudi, “what have we done this time?”

“Hey, Val,” Rudi said in response, “did you pay the parking meter?”

But they need not have concerned themselves fiscally: the RoboSecGua was only there to accompany them in a mad dash through the museum…

…to a recently installed facility called ‘Decontamination’…

“Hey,” Chester squealed with delight, “I’m not affronted by this embarrassing situation at all: my bum has never been so pleasantly tickled before. What about you, Valentine?”

“Yeah, cool, man.” The second-eldest brother replied. “And regard the funky moisturising cream dispenser: I really dig it!”

But all good things must come to an end, and soon they were released…

Unsurprisingly the first person they encountered was their Auntie Doris, who had brought her beau, K’Plank the Space Wanderer, with her…

“Hello boys,” she called from the top of the Up ramp, “nice to see you back. Before you rush off on your new mission, K’Plank has some fatherly advice for you.”

“Indeed I do.” The former bad guy, but now totally reformed rotten egg, added. “I think you should take pause to consider those closest to you. Magnuss, Rudi, and Valentine: your girlfriends are undoubtedly pining for you: I think it best that you see them first – just in case something terrible were to happen to you in the new Age of Stone exhibit.”

Naturally the three brothers mentioned took on board these wise words, and before long Magnuss had invited Hair-Trigger for a quick snack at Mister Pong’s Exotic Food Restaurant…

…where he planned to tell her that he was off on another adventure without her. Naturally Pong’s daughters, Yu-Wah and Wah-Hey were there. And, whilst Mister Pong took Magnuss’ order, the girls tossed aside their waitress dresses and rushed off for a rendezvous with the eldest Earplug brothers…

“Hey girls,” Rudi said as the females appeared from a side corridor and matched velocity with them, “we were on our way to see you.”

“Sho’nuf were,” Valentine confirmed his brother’s words. “We got something to tell ya.”

“We know.” Yu-Wah replied. “Everyone does. It’s all over the museum.”

“When do you leave?” Wah-Hey added.

“We’re on our way there now.” Rudi answered unwisely. “We were just gonna stop off to say hello before we caught a travellator to the new exhibit.”

This didn’t go down well…

“You rotten, lousy, selfish gits.” Yu-Wah bellowed.

“I’m surprised you didn’t just give us a quick phone call, or maybe text us.” Wah-Hey added.

“And to think we left our posts to come see you.” Yu-Wah whined. “Magnuss took Hair-Trigger to Dad’s restaurant. He’s a proper boyfriend, he is: not like you two.”

“Yeah,” Wah-Hey snapped. “We hope you get lost in the Age of Stone – that’s what we do.”

“And we hope the toilets are blocked too.” Yu-Wah finished. “Goodbye.”

Well there wasn’t much either Earplug brother could think of to say, so they watched the waitresses disappear down the corridor from which they had emerged in a far better mood…

“They’ll get over it.” Rudi said in the resulting silence.

“Yeah, sure thing.” Valentine replied uncertainly. “But I hope that wasn’t some kind’a curse they just put on us: getting lost aint too bad; but the thought of blocked toilets just makes me quake in my funky disco boots.”

A half-hour elapsed before the quintet re-joined…

As he rallied his troops, Rudi made no mention of Yu-Wah and Wah-Hey’s displeasure. “Okay, guys,” he said, “let’s go kick some stone-age buttocks.”

With that, and with slightly trepidatious hearts, the five pinky-orange earplugs climbed the stainless steel ramp that led to the new exhibit…

They simply had no idea what to expect.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplugs Without Pictures 12

Ever wondered what the Earplug Adventures would look like minus the photos? Might their absence highlight the shortcomings of the writing? Well let’s find out, shall we? Here’s a couple of brief extracts. In this case from this tremendous tale…

So to it. Here it is…

It was later in the day, with a plunging ambient temperature, that Dawlish decided to place his new hat upon his head and start a fire in a handy brazier. He’d fully expected the fire to keep him warm. What he didn’t expect was for the flickering flame to speak.

“I am the Flame of Knowledge.” The Brazier spoke with a surprisingly pleasant contralto. “Whoever wears the wizard hat is welcome to access my data.”

“Oh, good.” Dawlish said. “Um, give me a pocket history of this planet.”

“Once there were small furry things that scurried along predetermined paths.” The Brazier began. “They continued to scurry along predetermined paths for millions of years. In fact these predetermined paths became worn so deep that very often the braver small furry things became adept at running along the steep sides without slowing down or falling off. Then, one day, hundreds of thousands of years ago, earplugs that had evolved in the sea waded ashore and began to live upon the land. They evolved rapidly – quickly shedding their nasty gills and horrible webbed feet, and began eating the small furry things, until they became extinct. Eventually the earplugs created a wonderful city. Then, not long ago, something with vast power removed them. Took them all away. Relocated them somewhere else, I guess. Don’t know what it was; but the earplugs were powerless against it. But the city’s still there: wanna see it?”

The Brazier then indicated the direction that Dawlish should follow. “It’s over thattaway. Or maybe slightly thattaway. Off you go. Good luck.”

“Um, thank you.” A surprised Dawlish managed. “I’ll fetch my sister. Maybe there’ll be a working shower there. This is a strange planet: if you don’t mind, I’ll probably be calling upon your services again.”

So, by following the course indicated by the Flame of Knowledge, Dawlish and Dorkan soon stood together upon a barren plain. In the distance the towers of a magnificent city stood proud against an afternoon sky. For the Deathwishes the question of whether to visit it, or not, was clearly a no-brainer.

“Have you got your hiking boots on?” Dawlish asked.

“Ah, that would be an affirmative.” Dorkan replied. “What about your jogging pants?”

“Yep.” Dawlish answered. “With my vest nicely tucked into it. Right then; let’s go.”

AND

Everyone looked at the view screen, which showed open space – and safety.

“You know we can’t flee.” Magnuss said. “We’re here for a reason. Below us is the planet that houses the Galactic Court of Justice, which, currently, is in the clutches of a deranged god. Only this ship and its crew stand between freedom and galactic chaos.”

“Well said, Magnuss. Most rousing and all that.” Captain Hydious Gout spoke into the following silence. “Okay, you’ve convinced me. Helmsplug: light her up.”

A moment later the Chi-Z-Sox began blasting towards the planet. Very soon the forward screen displayed strange rock formations on the planet’s surface.

Magnuss thought back to the last earplug encounter with the Court of Galactic Justice, when one Throgennis Frote had been abducted and held accountable for the behaviour of all Earplugdom. With help he had convinced the court that earplugs should continue to exist; and in doing so had made the Supreme Being understand that earplugs were really quite nice – even if they weren’t all the time.

“So,” Magnuss asked himself, “what has made S B change his ways? Why has he gone all wonky?”

Of course he received no reply. But, as he was about to shrug his shoulders, this happened…

“I don’t know who you are.” The Wonky Supreme Being growled through the view screen. “But if you’ve got half a silicone brain between the lot of you, you’ll sod off now, while you still can.”

This threat might, or might not, have influenced the Chi-Z-Sox’s captain, but it was way too late to reverse direction, because the ship had already begun entry into the planet’s atmosphere. And it was getting so hot inside the ship that no one noticed that the Wonky Supreme Being hadn’t stopped making terrifying threats, which concluded with: “And your tender rubberized botties will feel sore until the end of time!”

Then it was time for the boys to act. In a perfect moment of impetuous timing, Magnuss had them relocated to the planet’s surface via matter transmission. And as they made their way towards the Galactic Court, Magnuss couldn’t help looking back at the alien panorama and wondered if he would ever see Earth and the Museum of Future Technology again.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the The Grand Tour vol 2 cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file. By the way, in addition, and also – you can access all the Earplug Adventure files (including Vol 1 of this exciting tome) on the sidebar by clicking the cover images.

Revel in the Ribaldry 34

Time for some more rude Hamster-Sapiens book extracts. Well one anyway. Today we delve into the intellectual abyss that is this e-book…

Great book: you should buy a copy.

And the extract that has been selected by random chance is this one…

“Tell me.” Dung roared as he dragged Algy to his feet, “Why are the Stix so frightened of Brother Alfonso’s willy?”

“Coz it’s scary, I guess.” The puzzled monk replied.

“And custard.” Dung continued, “Does it affect everyone like it affects you?”

“It’s banned by The Wheel.” Brother Algy gave a whimsical smile, “Guess they banned it for a good reason.”

“Hmmm.” Dung went.

“Hmmm?” Brother Algy queried.

Dung decided to explain his thought processes – not so much for Algy’s benefit, but to confirm in his own mind that his sudden inspirational plan was devoid of errors.

“Joan Bugler’s plan was to bring this load of frozen custard into Prannick, where she hoped to engage the talent of a powerful psychic that would mentally convince the Stix bandits that we were the Hamster Heath Heathens Sod-ball team. They were to be convinced that those huge roustabouts were about to attack them with shovel-loads of rock-hard confectionery – just as they did to the forces of The Wheel during the Battle of Weasels Pit. Theoretically the mere threat of the infamous Heathens would make any band of recalcitrant Stix bandits turn tail and run. But the custard has thawed horrendously: No amount of psychic fooling around will convince them now. What we need is a completely new plan: And I’m the one to supply it. Me – Arthur Dung – the most despised rodent in Hamster Heath – except that insolent little shit Freddy Ringworm down at the Institute of Highly Important Studies, that is. This is my one chance at populist immortality, and I’m gonna grab it with both paws, my dumpy little tail, and my skinny cleft buttocks!”

“Oh.” Algy almost seemed interested,” You’d better be along then, and tell ‘em all. But be quick about it: I wanna have a wee, and I don’t like someone looking.”

But Brother Algy was talking to thin air: Arthur Dung was already slithering his way towards the exit – and his destiny.

Joan had just finished apprising everyone in the Abbot’s quarters of her plan to fool the Stix into fleeing, when in staggered Arthur Dung. He was exhausted – not only from the long climb from the lower latrines, but also because he’d been forced to keep taking side trips to ask the way. Consequently he was too out of breath to speak immediately. But he didn’t really need to: Everyone could see the tell-tale stains of liquidised chocolate custard that had adhered to the hem of his trousers, and they all recognised the fact that Joan’s plan lay in ruins.

Joan wailed almost inconsolably for perhaps five or six seconds before pulling herself together, and facing the problem by quickly trying to conjure up an alternative plan from inside her fertile young mind. Unfortunately she came up empty.

By then Dung had recovered sufficiently to say, “Don’t worry, Miss Bugler: I think I have the very alternative plan that you’re desperately wracking your brains to find.”

He then explained it.

“It’s a bit of a long-shot, isn’t it?” Stubby seemed unconvinced a few moments later. “Your plan relies entirely upon some pretty spectacular physiological differences between the people of Prannick, and the people of Hamster Heath, which, quite frankly, I think are rather unlikely. Take the two Algys for example: They are so identical that we don’t dare let them touch each other in case they explode.”

“Ah, but there’s a good case in point.” Dung counter-argued by grabbing Algy, and dragging him to the centre of the room. “Are they so identical?”

It was a rhetorical question, so no one responded. Dung continued by addressing Algy directly…

“Mister Timber,” His tone was quizzical, “Do you like custard?”

A shudder ran through Algy as though someone had just slipped a large slug into his underpants.

“Can’t stand the stuff.” He said. “It’s bad enough that I have to work with the muck five days of the week: Eating it would be like adding insult to injury. I’m a porridge person myself.”

“Hmmm,” Dung nodded sagely. “But if someone put a gun to your head, and shouted, ‘eat it – you snivelling cretin, or die’ could you, in fact, eat it?”

It was a ridiculous question, and Dung knew it – yet he shook Algy several times in order to force a response.

“Yes of course I could it eat it, you stupid hamster.” Algy retorted, “And I wouldn’t need a gun to my head to do so either. A twenty Rodento note would be enough.”

“Could you keep it down?” Dung urged.

“Of course.” Algy retorted again.

“How much could you eat?” Dung pressed, “A cup full? A bowl? A flagon? A family tub?”

Algy was becoming weary of what he considered a pointless interrogation, but Joan must have had an inkling of where Dung was going with his questioning, and duly urged Algy to answer.

“All of them.” He replied. “One after the other. Or all together if they were different flavours, and one of them was dandelion and lemongrass sorbet.”

There appeared a definite light of passion in Dung’s eyes when he then asked, “Would it make you drunk?”

“It might make me vomit uncontrollably,” Algy sniggered as he adjusted his Kool Kustard company tie, “but I think I can hold my dairy products with the best of them.”

“By the Rim!” The Abbott cried out in revelation. “The big-nosed hamster makes perfect sense: The reason that custard never became popular in Prannick was because of its pseudo-alcoholic effect upon the population.”

“That’s right.” Joan began bouncing with enthusiasm. “Don’t you remember, Mister Timber – how we tried to open a custard store in Weasels Pit just after we’d helped free it from the tyranny of The Wheel, but…”

Quentin Blackheart took up the line…

“…I had to close it because of all the bad behaviour it was causing with the youth of the town. And many of the patrons of the Stoat and Wanger public house were too drunk to walk there, and the landlord almost became bankrupt overnight.”

“Of course.” Darkwood threw up his paws. “That’s why I get so giggly and show complete strangers my shaven buttocks when I eat custard in Joan’s realm: I’m always pissed as a fart!”

Then everyone began relating tales of how they’d seen custard have detrimental effects upon the cognitive powers of Prannick-folk. Only Stubby and Dung remained silent. Stubby indicated to Dung that they should speak alone.

Moments later they stood together in the corridor.

“You realise what you’re suggesting?” Stubby began. The warning tone in his voice was clear – even to an insensitive bastard such as Arthur Dung.

“What – does getting drunk infringe upon the monk’s religious beliefs, or something equally trivial?” Dung sneered.

“It strikes directly at the heart of their beliefs.” Stubby replied. “These monks are the spokes of The Wheel. They keep separate the evil that is at The Hub, and devote their lives to assisting the ordinary rodent of Prannick to attain a higher state of being – that being ascension to The Rim.”

Dung shrugged his shoulders. “So they fall off the wagon every so often: They’ll get over it. Besides – would they prefer being gutted by a bunch of mad-hamsters instead?”

©2013 Paul Trevor Nolan

Naturally this stroke of literary genius remains available to purchase. Just check out the side bar to access some of the retailers with the wisdom to list it – including my publishers (hah!) Lulu.com.

The Set: The Scene 3

Once again, if you’ve been exposed to the Earplug Adventures for long enough, it’s likely that you can recognise a scene by it’s set. Want to prove that you really know your Earplugs? Check out the following…

First up we kick off with an easy example of earplug derring-do. This set should be very familiar to you…

Yup, it’s the bridge set of the starship Chi-Z-Sox / Brian Talbot. But what does a predominantly yellow bridge crew tell us? Again yup – it’s the Brian Talbot. And isn’t that Placebo Bison I see standing at the front? Thrice yup: it can only be this scene…

Which, I’m sure you’ll recall, appeared in Distant Land: a story so wonderful that these characters returned in A Tale of Three Museums.

So, with the easy introductory question out of the way, it’s on to the second one. Recognise this?

It’s an early set, when I still had my fabulous ‘studio’ that was later demolished. Two silver earplugs on a see-through disc. Lit from above and behind in front of a sheet of something styrofoamish. Ugh, I guess it must be…

Yes, it’s the android earplugs aboard their flying disc – en route to a fortuitous encounter with the time-manipulator, Gobby – in Earplug Aftermath.

So who is this?

Silly question: Obviously it’s the world’s pre-eminent Earplug author, Tooty Nolan, in the act of shooting a scene in Fort Balderdash. And how numerous those scenes were. I liked Fort Balderdash: it was yellow. But do you recall any scenes set there? Well here’s one of them…

In this scene a Robot Guide…ugh…guides a rather miserable looking Plopper O’Hooligan and his girlfriend Belinda Noseguard somewhere to do something in Those Magnificent Earplugs. Moving on, what on Earth is this?

I’ll tell you. At the back stands a sheet of stiff corrugated plastic material in white. In front a sheet of similarly white flexible plastic lays across some empty boxes – to simulate topography. Centre sits a piece of polystyrene packing material. This is obviously a building. It’s quite a large set, and (at the time) it caught the attention of several passers-by. And it was used for one throw-away scene. This one…

…in which the leadership of the Ice World go outside, for whatever reason, in Those Magnificent Earplugs.

So, finally, to this charming shot of a fork-lift truck’s battery charger…

Sadly this is a set that I can never again use. It still exists, but since retirement, I no longer have access to it – though I’m sure they’d allow it, if I asked nicely. It is also a ‘set’ that has appeared in many stories – over and over – as the control panel in the Maintenance Department. It oversees the workings of the Museum of Future Technology’s Nul Space Power Generator ( and The Future Museum of Mars too). In this case I’ve selected this example of it in action…

Green lights across the board: all is well for Nennigross Numbwinkle and Catford Greene in Natural Selection. Of course it’s just as likely to be showing red lights, with all kind of warning signs on the panel above Catford’s head. I needed to be careful about the time of day that I shot my scenes here. During most of the day the machine was switched off, with no lights illuminated. At night, when the fork-lift was plugged in, they would shine red. In the morning, after a night charging, the lights would shine green. I had to make sure that I took my pictures within those brief windows of opportunity. Honestly, the trouble I go to in order to bring you The Earplug Adventures!

P.S all the aforementioned e-books are available as free PDF copies by simply clicking their images on the sidebar.

Revel in the Ribaldry 33

It has been yonks since I posted RitR32, so I thought it was well past time for the next excerpt. So, today I’ve opted for a sample of my favourite Hamster-Sapiens book: this one…

Picked entirely at random, this is it!

Well, it transpired, during a most pleasant afternoon beneath Chunder Bellows’ belfry, that not only had Mahogany been blessed by a vision of the Great Angler Herself, but that the same deity had actually imparted news from the future, and that Mahogany (having acted upon this information, and visited every betting shop in the county) had become very rich indeed. Even more astounding was the news that the Great Angler Herself had suggested Lancelot for the role of Dean.

“Did she explain why, dear?” Bellows inquired.

“Not exactly, darling.” Mahogany replied. “She went on a bit about causality loops and altered time-lines, but I’m afraid that my frail female mind just couldn’t keep up.”

“Not to worry, dearest,” Bellows patted the top of her head, “I expect my powerful male ego would have endured some discomfort too.”

“Anyway,” Mahogany continued, “it seems that it’s vitally important that in order to end the vile practice of euthanizing our mentally less well-endowed – we find somewhere for them to go after their normal school years have ended. Obviously our inept and spiritually bankrupt socialist government couldn’t possibly come up with prescription for continued existence for dim-shits: And any ultra-right wing organization would probably have thickos put to death just for fun. Of course, what with so many moderate hamsters having skeletons (both physical and metaphysical) in their cupboards, any politician that tried to tread the middle ground would be hounded out of office before his feet hit the carpet beneath his shiny new desk. So divine intervention seemed the only real alternative.”

“Hmmm.” Bellows stroked his hugely furry chin, “Tell me, Mahogany dearest, were you enjoying a state of unconsciousness when the Great Angler Herself appeared to you in a vision?”

“My life was hanging by a thread.” Mahogany smiled broadly at the recollection, “And that rolling down the embankment that I got from the galley staff really whizzed my brain around something rotten.”

Bellows repeated his long, drawn out, “Hmmm.” He then backed this up with, “Now what I’m trying to say, dear – and I don’t mean to be disrespectful – but do you think that it’s possible that you might possibly have imagined it all? I mean – you always wanted to do something desperately altruistic, but you never had the ready cash available before: Is it possible that this is nothing more than pure wish-fulfilment?”

Mahogany took her brother’s huge paw in hers. “Oh Chunder, I know you mean well when you try to psychoanalyze me. So please don’t feel insulted when I tell you to stick your stupid ideas up your huge fluffy arse hole. Would you do that for me?”

Then with a grittiness in her voice that Bellows had never before heard she added, “How’d ya think I won all that money, ya great fat oaf? Luck? I’ve bet on every sporting event in the country since Thrudsday, the forty-tenth of Plinth until this morning. I’m a super-millionaire with more money that pubic fur follicles. I didn’t imagine anything, you twat: I’m blessed.”

Well in the face of such a verbal onslaught Bellows quickly made his excuses and left the room to Mahogany and the somewhat shell-shocked Lancelot.

Mahogany turned her attention to the young hamster seated across the desk from her. “Right we need a name: Any suggestions?”

Lancelot didn’t waste any time cogitating: He’d long dreamed of such a moment. “Saint Dunces.” He said emphatically.

“Good name.” Mahogany nodded. “Why?”

Lancelot then explained that for the entirety of his  life he’d been the school dunce, and that he had the heavily-inked private parts to prove it. So any college that was founded specifically for dunces should also be called dunces.

It was logic of the soundest kind, but Mahogany thought that she spotted flaw in it.

“Ah but Lancelot, darling, is there, or has there ever been a Saint Dunce?”

It was a telling question, and under normal circumstances the young hamster’s dreams might have been thwarted. But these were anything but normal circumstances.

He was now the Dean of a hypothetical university.

“We’ll invent one.” He said.

“Can one simply invent a saint?” Mahogany asked reasonably enough.

“Of course.” Lancelot smiled, “I do it all the time.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Now wasn’t that lovely! If you fancy purchasing this wondrous e-book, easy access to the publisher or well-known e-book retailers is available on the side bar. Should you elect to do so, you are guaranteed several hours of delighted sniggering at the rather rude humour.

Book Sales? Hah!

Long ago I gave up worrying about the sales figures for my ‘Silent’, Causality Merchant’, and ‘Hamster-Sapiens’ books. The extra money may have been welcome – had there been much – but it has only ever been a very minor source of income. But as the years have passed, and my promotion of the books decreased, revenues have fallen to humourous levels. So low, in fact that (because of the cost and bureaucracy) I can no longer be bothered to cash the cheques. Here’s my latest royalty payment…

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After charges I might clear $7.00 US. Not worth a trip to the bank. Still, if you fancy purchasing one of my stupendous works, be my guest: it’s nice to know that people want to read them. They’re all mentioned on the sidebar. Access to the major outlets is as easy as a simple click on the cover image.

Earplugs without Pictures 7

Ever wondered what the Earplug Adventures would look like minus the photos? Might their absence highlight the shortcomings of the writing? Well let’s find out, shall we? Here’s a couple of brief extracts. In this case from this remarkable tale…

A week was to pass before the K T Woo made its next encounter. This time it was a robotic interplanetary space freighter of unknown origin. As they watched the vessel upon the main viewer, Sinclair asked Hakking: “What do you think of that piece of out-dated space junk?”

“It’s an ugly sod – and make no mistake.” Hakking replied. Then added, with a chuckle: “But not as ugly as I once was, of course.”

“Does anyone have the first idea about what it’s doing here and where it came from?” Sinclair asked his bridge crew.

“Sensors suggest that it’s full of ice, Sir.” Poxy Pilkington chirped up. “Millions and millions of ice cubes. The sort that you’d drop into a rum and cola, Sir. Or perhaps down the back of your girlfriend’s knickers when it’s a hot summer’s day and you’re a bit bored.”

“How strange.” Sinclair said as he stroked his chin intelligently. “Why would anyone go to the unbelievably vast cost of transporting ice cubes across interplanetary space?”

Elsewhere other members of the crew were asking the same question as they watched through the panoramic window as the vessel plodded along at sub-light speed…

And those who, because of their lowly rank, had been reduced to peering through skanky little port holes didn’t give a fig what it had aboard or where it was going: they just wanted to see it explode spectacularly. But even they were surprised when the freighter initiated a sudden course change.

“Hey,” Sinclair complained. “What gives, man?”

“I know.” Hakking suggested keenly. “Let’s follow it. It might lead us to something…er…really interesting.”

Sinclair then displayed surprising insight. “You mean Ship Number Fifteen?” He replied. “The Earth ship that left Worstworld without you aboard it?”

“I might do.” Hakking said defensively – suddenly aware that the captain understood his motivation and the true reason for his creation of the project that culminated in the construction of the K T Woo.

“Okay.” Sinclair said as the freighter accelerated away in a blinding cascade of ion drive power, “Let’s see where it leads us. Ahead full!”

The ice cube-carrying space freighter wasn’t particularly fast, and soon the crew grew bored with the uniformity of space. In fact many of them became depressed and began skipping their duties. Sometimes Captain Sinclair Brooch was astonished to find himself alone on the bridge.

“Holy heck,” his voice would echo around the empty room, “do I have to do everything myself?”

And even in the engine room the lights were kept dimmed so that no one could see how properly cheesed-off everyone was becoming. Then one day – no one was quite sure what day it was, because they’d pretty much given up the will to breathe – a bright light appeared dead ahead. Some jaded crew members became trepidatious. But in the engine room the resilient former end cap space pirates brought the compartment back to full illumination, because they had detected a world surrounded by huge rings of water vapour. Soon the freighter was racing across its sky – making an approach for some distant landing-place. After so long in space, the K T Woo’s bridge crew stood and stared at the view on the main screen.

Somewhat surprisingly Sinclair was the first to regain his wits: “Quickly.” He snapped at the helms-plug. “Follow that freighter!”

So minutes later the K T Woo plunged into the watery world’s atmosphere – levelling off at thirty-seven thousand feet, and Sinclair and the others gazed in wonderment. But then Serendipity Mollusc’s sensors detected an in-coming object.

“Tactical!” The Captain boomed above the flurry of terrified farts that erupted from so many nervous crew members. A split second later Serendipity placed this image upon the main viewer.

“Explain to me what I’m looking at.” Sinclair instructed Serendipity.

“Er, that’s us flying over the sea.” The subordinate replied. “We’re headed for a sandy coastline.”

“It appears to be huge island.” Hakking observed. “But where’s this in-coming object?”

As Serendipity adjusted the scope of her sensors she said: “Actually there are two objects approaching. Helms-plug: take evasive action!”

“I don’t like the look of this.” Nancy Brooch said from her chair beside her husband, as she watched two fighter jets, in an attempt to make an intercept of the alien craft, thrash their engines to within microns of self-destruction.

“It might be a welcoming committee.” Poxy Pilkington said hopefully. But she didn’t really believe what she was saying.

AND

Well, to say that Clancy was thrilled at the turn of events would be an understatement. He was cock-a-hoop. He’d never met such a wonderful being before. Neither had he saved anyone’s life either. And, most definitely, he’d never been so enthusiastically kissed before. “Gosh, Wendy,” he said, once he’d learned her name, “would you like to warm up in my snow buggy?”   

Wendy found the offer tempting. In fact she found it so tempting that she said: “Yes please!”

So whilst Wendy’s soggy knickers dried in front of the heater grille, Clancy took the opportunity to show-off and duly raced the snow buggy around at break-neck speed.

It was during a barely controlled downhill slide that Clancy had a wonderful idea…

“Hey,” he shouted above the din of icicles breaking free from Wendy’s duffle coat, “why don’t I take you to see our wonderful city below the ice?”

Initially Wendy was hesitant to accept: visiting foreign cities sans winter coat could be considered a social faux pas. But when Clancy informed her that no one wore duffle coats in the pale earplug city, she relented instantly, and began to enjoy the sensation of a stiff breeze blowing around her ear holes. Naturally Clancy hit the after-burners, and before long they were almost in sight of the frontier defences. But such was Clancy’s speed that he was upon the border guards before anyone was ready to mount a meaningful challenge or dive for cover…

“Out of the way!” Clancy shouted above the whine of his buggy’s turbine.

“Does that blue female have a duffle coat on?” One of the incredulous border guards shouted back.

Clancy didn’t have enough time to respond. Instead he leapt the buggy into the air, and shouted, “See for yourself.” as they soared above the defences and then roared away – leaving the guards deeply bemused, because they’d had no idea that blue earplug knee caps looked very much like pale earplug knee caps – only bluer, of course. Of a snorkel there was no sign. And they began to doubt the propaganda they’d been force-fed their entire lives. Not that Wendy cared one jot; because, by the time the guards had collected their thoughts and placed them into some kind of order, Clancy’s snow buggy had carried her all the way into the city.

“It’s lovely.” She gushed as she looked around. “So mysterious and cloaked in elegant shadows.”

But later she discovered even more impressive sights.

“What are these strange, yet remarkable, machines?” She asked her vertically-challenged host.

At first Clancy was confused by Wendy’s question. It hadn’t occurred to him that another civilisation might not have municipal jukeboxes. Once he’d gathered his wits, he told her. “They’re free.” He said. “Choose a song; press the button; and you can listen for as long as you want.”

“Gosh.” Wendy responded enthusiastically. “Can I choose one? After all I am a blue earplug, and it might not be allowed.”

“Go ahead.” Clancy said with a smile.

“Pick one for me.” Wendy said coyly. “Make it a love song. A really smoochy one.”

“Don’t mind if I do.” Clancy replied with a big grin spreading across his youthful face. “How about ‘Hot Soup’ by Heavy Breathin’ Bertha’?”

Moments later…

“Oh that’s lovely.” Wendy said as they slow danced together. “I think I’d like to live here for the rest of my life.”

Clancy hid his surprise well. “Come with me.” He said as the repetitive chorus faded into silence.

Moments later they were scurrying along one of the seductively lit corridors. Then, abruptly they burst into a busy thoroughfare. Then it was onwards for a meeting with the Personal Secretary of the Prime Minister and his assistant and his assistant’s buddy.

“Yeah?” The Personal Secretary grunted when Clancy introduced himself. “Whadda ya want?”

“This is my friend, Wendy.” Clancy replied. “She’s a blue earplug!”

“Tell us something we don’t know.” The Prime Minister’s Personal Secretary’s assistant said acidly.

Clancy chose to ignore the mealy-mouthed git. Instead he spoke directly to the Personal Secretary: “Wendy wants to come here and live with us pale earplugs.” He said. “She thinks our city is lovely.”

The Personal Secretary eyed Wendy up and down. “I’ve heard some weird stuff about blue earplugs.”  He said. “Apparently the females hold their heads up with a trellis-like assembly that bolts on to their shoulders, and are given it on their fifteenth birthday.”

“And both genders hide their chocolate chip cookies inside their Wellington boots!” The assistant’s buddy almost spat the words.

“Oh dear.” Clancy said as he turned to Wendy. “I’m ever so sorry, but if you want to live here you’re going to have to refute a whole slew of ridiculous preconceptions.”

“Yeah.” The Personal Secretary growled. “Good, innit?”

Well Wendy wasn’t the sort to take offence easily, and her sister’s duffle coat didn’t fit her anyway: so a short while later she and Clancy were being guided towards the Prime Ministerial chamber, via a frighteningly precipitous walkway.

The journey to the Prime Ministerial Chamber also involved walking down a long corridor, towards a concrete-hardened atom-proof bunker, where important decisions were often made.

For a brief moment the young lovers paused. Were they really ready for this?

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2016

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the Cold War cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

Revel in the Ribaldry 32

Methinks the time is right for a splash of rude, ribald, and disgustingly funny Hamster-Sapiens. On this occasion we delve into the last of the series -namely this magnificently naughty e-tome…

This e-book is available at most e-book retailers, including the publishers Lulu.com

To introduce this snippet I should explain that (as she was in the act of disembarking a submarine and boarding a cross-channel ferry mid-channel) Road Safety Technician Amy Crumpet has been cast into the waters of the English Channel. Thinking quickly she had struck out through the chill, dark waters towards the very object that had caused the accident – a surfacing turtle. As the last of her breath escaped her cheek pouches she managed to climb into (what she thought was) the sanctuary of the reptilian’s anus…

Before long the darkness and solitude began to affect Amy. Sitting alone upon cold unyielding flesh made her feel unwelcome and utterly alien. She tried talking to herself, and tried to compose a love sonnet to P C Gravy. But it was no good: She needed to be able to see her environment, and possibly explore it. So she stood as best she could in the low-ceilinged reptilian rectum, took out two freshly-minted seven Rodento coins from her waist band, and struck them together. She was rewarded with a shower of sparks that briefly illuminated the immediate area. And what she saw amazed her. It also informed her that she’d missed the turtle’s anus by some distance – for all about her she could see egg upon egg upon egg – stretching away into the staccato shadows. And the ceiling wasn’t half as low as she’d expected either.

“Cor.” She said gleefully, “I certainly won’t go hungry. And it also explains the total absence of excrement upon my silken fur.”

But then another thought intruded: “But I don’t know this turtle’s destination. If it’s about to lay its eggs, then no doubt it will seek a warm, sandy beach – and that could take weeks to find.”

For the second time Amy screamed shrilly.

“And there can’t be enough air in here to keep me alive indefinitely.” She added after calming herself once more, “My only chance to live comes with the vain hope that she surfaces regularly, rolls upon her back, and exposes her minge to the air. And what are the chances of that? ” It was a rhetorical question, but Amy answered it anyway. “None. Zero, Nada.”

So she screamed some more – until her voice went hoarse, and she was finally forced to stop by a burning desire to suck a lozenge – a small packet of which she fortunately carried in her waist band.

But it appeared that not all of her despairing screaming had been in vain. Water conducts sound extremely well, and when the slow-witted ocean-dweller heard unmistakably strange high-pitched mammalian sounds emanating from her private parts she became curious. Curious enough to stop swimming purposefully forward, and allow herself to bob to the surface.

Deep within the turtle Amy felt the floor heave as internal ballast shifted. Then she felt the undeniable sensation of ‘going uppy-ness’. She let out three rousing cheers.

The female turtle was surprised when her minge apparently gave forth with sounds of delight. In fact she was so surprised that she found it necessary to pass comment…

“I say, oh personal chasm.” She said in her best ocean-reptilian, “What gives in the vocal department?”

Amy heard this gargled utterance – not as comprehensible words, but as the sounds produced by a sentient creature.

“Hello out there.” She cried out as she struggled towards the exit. “I’m an air-breather – just like you!”

Had the turtle possessed eyebrows it is certain that they would have arched alarmingly.

“Is that an egg speaking?” She inquired.  “If so please remain quiescent until such time that I am able to bury you in some deep warm sand.”

Although Amy didn’t speak turtle, something in the turtle’s tone told her that the noises she could hear outside came as a form of admonishment.

“Oh, if only I was telepathic.” She wailed almost inconsolably, “Then this stupid language barrier wouldn’t be as impenetrable as a belch. Oh if only Joan Bugler had been swept away with me!”

Perhaps it was something in the way that Amy composed her thoughts at the moment, or even a stray neuron firing out of sequence inside her cold-blooded head; but the turtle comprehended the hamster’s meaning, and in a moment of epiphany she mentally squealed, “By the length of a Ragworm’ tadger – I can read the strange furry being’s mind!”

And indeed the turtle could. Deep within her body the small hamster received this thought. For a moment she suspected that she’d gone quite mad, but when the turtle’s subsequent message amounted to thrilled surprise combined with a powerful mothering instinct, Amy was certain that the thoughts couldn’t possibly have originated in her own brain: She hated pathetic mewling babies with a passion, and possessed the mothering instinct of a well-armed death squad.

Fortunately this latter thought had no turtle equivalent, so the huge creature had no reason to feel ill-will toward the parasite within her.

“I’m on my way to India.” She informed Amy directly.

“India?” Amy’s thought came to her like a distant, slightly panic-stricken voice upon a gentle breeze, “But that’s on the other side of the planet. It’ll take yonks to get there. And when you do you’ll just drop me into a big hole on the beach, and then bury me. And how would I get back home again afterwards? I’m just a hamster. No-no – this won’t do. This won’t do at all!”

The turtle was surprised at the vociferousness of Amy’s thoughts.

“Ooh-er.” She thought in response, “You have a powerful personality. I get the distinct impression that if you stay in there much longer you could eventually overwhelm my simple psyche, and take control of both my mind and my body. And that won’t do either.”

Amy was used to thinking on her hind paws. As a road safety technician she had to be: Early morning go-kart drivers could be unpredictable, and Amy had been forced to leap to the side of the road on many occasions since taking on the job at Hamster Heath high school. She thought now – like she had never thought before. In fact she thought so hard that the turtle began to swoon from the mental energy discharges that erupted invisibly from the rodent’s cranium.

“Please,” the turtle cried out both verbally and mentally, “you’re torturing me beyond reasonable tolerance. Stop please: I’ll do anything that you want. Do you wish me to eject you into these cold northerly waters?”

Amy wasn’t sure whether the last remark was meant as a threat, but she quickly realised that if the turtle wished it could be rid of its uninvited passenger with just a single spasm, and that she – Amy – would surely perish as a result. So she guarded her thoughts much as an evil pick-pocket guards its ill gotten gains.

“Oh, most certainly not.” She replied to the turtle’s inquiry. “But I do have suggestion that I think will satisfy both of our needs. But first – tell me: Can you swim upside down?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Ah, they don’t write ’em like that anymore!

Earplugs without Pictures 6

Ever wondered what the Earplug Adventures would look like minus the photos? Might their absence highlight the shortcomings of the writing? Well let’s find out, shall we? Here’s a couple of brief extracts. In this case from this fantastic tale…

Click the cover image for the FREE complete e-book in PDF form

Meanwhile, in another part of the museum that was yet to be consumed by the terrible Zinc Machine, the four former monks of the Order of the Holey Vest from Lemon Stone, Pedro Agonista, Flaccidus Aroma, Augustus Belch, and Rodney Bunting, had rented a workshop. Now they set to work inside it. For hour upon hour they toiled – fabricating, checking stolen blueprints, hammering, welding, occasionally going to the toilet. That sort of thing. But when they reached the end of their labours, the four exhausted former monks wheeled out a ‘pirate copy’ of a genuine Punting-Modesty Sputum GT250A-Attack Cycle.

“This’ll knock ’em dead down at the cavalry stockade.” Pedro said confidently.

But he wasn’t entirely correct.

“It’s a bit big and heavy.” One of the troopers dared utter.

“Yeah, and it can’t carry passengers.” Another observed.

“Just give it a try.” Rodney pleaded. “You never know – you might find it most satisfactory. And the saddle is really easy on your bum – especially if you suffer from piles – a particular problem with cavalryplugs, or so I’ve been told. “

Joe Frayzer, who didn’t like to confess to having problems with his butt, replied gruffly: “Yeah, alright; we’ll give it a run ’round the block. It couldn’t hurt none.”

So he leapt aboard; made himself comfortable; and twisted the throttle as far back as the cable would allow. Initially the Staff Sergeant was highly impressed with the GT250A. “Cor,” he yelled above the whine of the lifting motor and the roar of the propulsion engine, “it goes like stink!”

But when he rode it over uneven ground his smile quickly transformed into a grimace.

“Sorry,” he said upon his return to the stockade, “but the machine gave my false teeth a really hard time. They were shaken so thoroughly that they’ve swapped sides inside my gob. And contrary to your verbal sales brochure, the seat gave my arse the worst pummelling since my troop was chased down the side of rocky gorge on Worstworld by a whirlwind that had sucked up a whole bunch of scorpions and tarantulas, and thrown them at us. You’ll have to build something that’s much more comfortable with better protection against wind, rain, ice storms, and high-velocity rifle bullets.”

An hour later the four former monks returned with a replica Punting-Modesty RD400F Command Buggy.

“Hmmm,” Joe hummed after giving the machine a thorough examination, “but it isn’t very offensive is it? And it comes up short on good looks, speed, and endurance. Close, but no banana.”

So ten minutes later…

“The XS360 has a ram-scoop engine.” Pedro explained. “It collects dust from the air, and burns it for fuel. Primarily it’s a long-range patrol vehicle.”

“Great,” Joe replied, “but the driver is a sitting duck in a roll-over situation.”

So a half-hour later…

“Fabulous – a TX500.” Joe said, after casting an engineer’s eye over the latest version of the war buggy. You’ve chucked out that poxy, gutless eco engine. That’s good: I always vote for a balanced combination of BHP and torque. But, ah, where’s the offensive capability?”

“Holy heck.” Augustus exploded in response. “All you had before were a few flea-ridden plugmutts and some dried-out saddles that were years old and as hard as rock. You should be grateful for anything!”

Despite this atypical outburst, the hermaphrodite chums went away again – to return a short while later with…

“There you go, you pedantic arse hole.” Flaccidus growled. “The cannon’s off the Nosepuncher XL5 by the way.”

This time the Staff Sergeant was more impressed. Turning to a surprised Fanny Skidmarx. He said, “Right, Private; you may have the honour of flight-testing the machine I hereby designate P1-5S Assault Buggy. Carry on.”

AND

Meanwhile, far away upon the dusty plain that stood at the foot of the mountain range upon which Lemon Stone stood proudly, hard-working pea farmer, Bucksome Whelk, was greeting the new day even before the sun had risen. He was a hyperactive workaholic, and there was nothing he enjoyed more than getting out of bed really early to do a long day’s hard labour in the pea fields. He kept a sign in his bedroom to remind him that he should never grow lax and become like his idle idols, Las Chicas De La Playas, a picture of whom he had pinned to his wall as a constant reminder. So no one else was around to see his porch light illuminate…

(A picture of a mud building appears here)

Neither was there anyone present to see him step out into the pre-dawn – in the full expectation of finding his beautiful crop of young pea plants. But what Bucksome Whelk actually saw, in that dim light, made him stare disbelievingly like a startled gazelle caught in the headlight of an approaching trans-continental locomotive; because, laid out in front of him like some terrible manifestation of a tortured mind, sat the largest, most humongous, pile of steaming manure that he had ever seen – or ever wanted to see. But if this wasn’t enough for the simple-minded pea farmer, the situation grew rapidly worse. As he finally circumnavigated the immense turd, Bucksome discovered that his pea seedlings had been swept away by some unimaginable force.

His work gang rushed from their quarters when they heard his scream of horror.They watched in disbelief as their employer stood so still among the ruination that he appeared to have been petrified. For Bucksome it became horror heaped upon horror as the lightening sky revealed that the entire crop had simply ceased to exist. Or, to be more precise, it had been transformed into excrement and deposited on the lawn of his farm-house.

“Right, that’s it.” He said as a grim determination swelled within his chest,”I’m gonna talk to the guys about this.”

So, after Bucksome had returned to the farm buildings his staff were expecting to hear that their services were no longer required, and that they could return to the bosom of their families in the former communist states from whence they had come to the dusty plain. They even conjectured upon the size of the severance cheque. But they were to be disappointed.

“Right then.” Bucksome said. “I want you to re-plant with seeds from the store. I intend to learn the identity of the miscreant who had attempted to destroy my life’s work. I’ll be back when I’m back. Now get to work.”

With that he strode off across the newly barren landscape.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2016

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the Unity vol 1 cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

Earplugs without Pictures 5

Ever wondered what the Earplug Adventures would look like minus the photos? Might their absence highlight the shortcomings of the writing? Well let’s find out, shall we? Here’s a couple of brief extracts. In this case from this tantalising tale…

Click cover image for complete story in PDF format

So, whilst Magnuss and Benjamin began their sojourn in search of the museum’s inhabitants, the showgirls stumbled across the crashed time ship. Of course, being entertainers, they didn’t recognize it for what it was, and instead thought that it might possibly be either a crashed aircraft or an invasion from outer space. They preferred the former explanation, and duly set out to find the absent occupants. Naturally, to cover more ground quickly they elected to break up into three groups, each comprising two showgirls. Delia Stodge and Poki Kitchener set off in an easterly direction. Belle Ching and Wendy Rucksack headed north by northwest. And Ragi Half-Nelson and Nokaks Newbold dropped several floors to the basement and thence to the sub-strata upon which the original museum had been built. Upon reaching the rock bottom – literally – they were bemused when they discovered it utterly devoid of life.

“I’m bemused on at least seventeen levels of bemusability.” Nokaks informed her dancing co-worker. “I may only be an attractive young female who can step in time and kick her feet high above her head; but I really expected to find signs of a frightened populace cowering in the shadows from whatever it was that happened whilst we were in a drunken stupor. How about you, Ragi?”

Ragi didn’t reply immediately: she was too busy fretting about something that she’d just realised. Eventually she said: “Nokaks, you’re not going to believe this; but I got so drunk last night that I forgot to remove my sequined dancing knickers. Now they’re chafing the heck out of my thighs – and I’m not enjoying it!”

Meanwhile, out and about on their own earplug hunt, Belle and Wendy stumbled upon the Nul-Space Power Generator, which, they noted, whirred quietly in hibernation mode. Naturally they turned the dial up a few notches; then waited to see what would happen.

The effect of Belle and Wendy’s action wasn’t immediately obvious as Ragi and Nokaks quickly made their way back into the more modern regions of the museum. But the dancing duo nearly wet themselves when they were caught in the blinding glare of a security light.

“Oh Nokaks,” Ragi yelled only semi-coherently, “I really wish that dingbat Belle hadn’t woken us up so darned early this morning: we could be all tucked up nice and warm in our beds right now. When this terrible adventure concludes – hopefully with a happy ending – I’m going to join another ballet!”

But, in order to accomplish her ‘happy ending’ Ragi knew that standing around whilst wailing like an air raid siren would get her nowhere; so the two girls pressed on with their search. With no clear plan to follow, they soon found themselves upon a wide plain, where a small sign informed them it was intended that more exhibits from future eras would appear sometime in the…er…future. It was very wide and very flat, and both girls felt intimidated by its vastness. But although they hated the place with a vengeance, their feelings of loathing were put aside, and their quest for the truth continued – eventually leading them to a green impact splodge.

“Ugh?” Ragi said intelligently. “It looks as though something fell from the sky and went splat. What do you think it might be, Nokaks?”

Nokaks might have been an expert at wearing spectacular headdresses and performing the opening act and exciting finales in variety shows; but something falling from the sky and going splat existed in a mental environment to which she was an alien visitor. “Um,” she replied, “I’m not sure, but it looks to me like it might be evidence of some form of chemical attack. Something was dropped here, and it spread to other places…through the ventilation system, maybe? The result of which is what you see on the other levels.”

Ragi wasn’t sure what impressed her more: Nokak’s remarkable improvised theory, or the effect that sudden dread can have on a female earplugs’ ability to retain intestinal wind. “Gosh.” She said. “I wonder if the chemicals smelt as rotten as my gas.”

AND

Magnuss had been grateful for Benjamin Booger’s local knowledge. It was the green earplug who informed him that if they really needed to access the Wide Blue Yonder, they didn’t have to cross the Woven Expanse to get there. In the alternative universe the faux desert extended much farther, and with the use of a desert sled, which was powered by a mighty three cylinder air-cooled two-stroke motor, they could cross it in short order. Unfortunately mighty three cylinder air-cooled two-stroke motors consume fuel at a prodigious rate, and its tank showed empty just as the party arrived at the Wide Blue Yonder’s outer edge, which really cheesed-off Magnuss because he really liked two-strokes and was hoping to ride it all the way to the arboretum. So, stumbling through the last of the desert’s fake sand, Magnuss led the others to a vantage point that overlooked their next task. To say that the Wide Blue Yonder looked daunting was an understatement of seismic proportions.

“We’re doomed if we try to cross that.” K’Plank opined loudly. “We’ll stand out like a vicious sore on an otherwise pristine porcelain buttock. We’re sure to disappear without warning or trace. Give me back my Sheath of Unseeableness, you rotten swine!”

But then Poki had an idea. “Delia and I work in the theatre.” She said. “We know how all the wonders of show-biz work. It’s all the workings beneath the stage. That’s where the magic is made.”

“Of course.” Magnuss bellowed as hope surged within his silicon chest. “Maintenance access tunnels. They must criss-cross the Wide Blue Yonder at a thousand points. Poki, if I didn’t love Hair-Trigger Provost with every fibre of my being, I’d take you ’round the back of the nearest bike shed and give you a great big kiss. Well done: I think you’ve supplied the answer to our problem. Let’s go find an access hatch or something similar.”

Meanwhile Cabbaggio and Vortexia Di Bikini were receiving a lesson in Blue End Cap technical superiority.

“Yeah,” Flutter sneered, “when we decided that we wanted to control the Museum of Future Technology, we didn’t come in with all disruptor weapons firing. No; we were much too smart for that. We infiltrated a small combat party – complete with our patented Matter Transporter – and began our work from a hidden sanctuary. We’ve been slowly removing the population of the museum – and no one can do anything about it. First we took out the big guys: the curators, the agents of TWIT, and those pinky-orange bums – the Earplug Brothers: then we took out everyone else – except you two of course. But you don’t matter: you’re nobodies. Then, tomorrow afternoon, at about three-thirty, the invasion ships arrive. Then I will lower the defensive screens and the museum will be ours!”

“Gee-whizz.” Vortexia said as she apparently swooned. “That must be one heck of a hidden sanctuary. Where did you say it’s located?”

“In the arboretum, of course.” Flutter replied without thinking. “No one would think of looking for us there.”

“I guess you’re right.” Cabbaggio said with an admiring lilt to his slurred voice. “Now if you’ll excuse us, we need a drink.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the The Missing cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

Featuring wondrous writings and phabulous photos. It's probably quite nice if you're feeling a bit down. SOME CONTENT IS UNSUITABLE FOR CHILDREN!