Tag Archives: earplug adventures

The Epoch of Dung (part 3)

Cameo alert. Cameo Alert. Lots of famous earplug names not really contributing to the tale.*

The look of horror upon Yabu’s face intensified. “I can’t,” he cried out in mental agony, “they’re not on Earth. Magnuss and Hair-Trigger boarded the Tankerville Norris

…to visit the Ice World. Having arrived to great fanfare and hullabaloo, they set off on a sponsored circumnavigation of the planet’s equator…

…upon which they hoped to raise sufficient funds to begin a scientific exploration of the crust’s re-formed sub-strata, and discover why it’s gone all visually mono-tonal…

“Okay,” Cushions said with a sigh. “So the ‘A’ team are out of town: what about the remaining four Earplug Brothers? Don’t tell me they’re off-world too!”

“Sorry.” Yabu replied. “Actually they are. They’re on Mars – checking out the progress of planetary terraforming.”

Cushions was confused by this information. “I’m confused.” She said in a tone that could only be described as ‘confused’. “This information makes no sense. The last time I looked, Mars had been moved to an orbit directly opposite this world, but on the other side of the Sun: it has a climate much like Earth’s now.”

“True,” Yabu replied sagely, “but Mars’ deserts have been dead for thousands of millennia. Earth seeds don’t like them. So the boys have gone along to cheer up everyone on the project. And, whilst they’re there, they can get to fly around in the Punting-Modesty Facepuncher XL5 without worrying Air Traffic Control.”

Cushions mused upon this information for about three nanoseconds. “That’s why they’ve gone to Mars, isn’t it? To play silly-buggers on a planet with a thinner atmosphere, reduced gravity, and a tiny population, in a powerful attack craft. Really it’s all about having fun.”

To which Yabu answered in the affirmative. He then added, “It’s their way of reducing stress. You know – the stress of always having to be heroes and failing at nothing.”

To which a scornful Cushions replied, “Huh – I’m so stressed that sometimes I think my knicker elastic will snap with the strain: but I don’t go racing around alien worlds in rocket-powered aircraft. Call them back instantaneously!”

A sheepish look slid…er…sheepishly… across Yabu’s countenance. “That could be a problem, Cushions.” He said. “We received a very garbled message from Folie Krimp and Placebo Bison. They were on their way to Earth aboard the Gravity Whelk at the time. Would you like me to play it back to you on my cell phone?”

Yabu didn’t wait for a reply. A split second later, his phone’s tiny screen displayed this…

Whilst Placebo was yelling, “Aargh”, Folie managed to bellow a warning:

“Massive ion storm encountered in Solar System. All ships should attempt planet fall at the soonest opportunity – like now. Communications are failing. Act immediately. Our ship is loads better than yours; and look what the ion storm is doing to it.”   

The scene shifted to a remote external view…

Cushions had time for one decent nervous gulp before the screen blanked.

“Coms have been out ever since.” Yabu said miserably.

This was terrible news: it should have floored the curator. However, Cushions rallied quickly. “What about those three girls? You know – the heroes in training. They’ve got a great big robot freighter: surely they can do something to help. I mean – what’s the point of heroes in training, if they can’t do something heroic when the need arises!”

“You mean Bunty Bridgewater, Daisy Woodnut, and Ginger Slack.” Yabu  answered…

“Do I?” Cushions snapped. “Oh yes, I suppose I do. Those names do seem familiar. Well?

“Their ship was severely damaged on a training mission by an ethereal alien walking machine on a dark planetoid.” Yabu replied…

…”They’re still waiting for a tow-truck. But, I do have one trick left up my sleeve. Remember Margret Greenhorn and her dancing troupe, the Greenhorn Girls?”

Cushions screwed up her face – partially in doubt, and partially because she was trying to remember when she had last seen the Greenhorn Girls in action. Then it came to her: they’d danced at the wedding of Magnuss and Hair-Trigger Earplug…

“Flipping heck, Yabu,” she wailed, “is that the best you can do?”

Yabu shrugged in response. “I’ve sent out a page to Margret: they should be at the front door right about…now!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

* Also allows him to use some of those ‘arty’ earplugs shots that wouldn’t otherwise appear.

The Epoch of Dung (part 2)

So, on to the second instalment. If it appears familar that is because (like part 1) this episode has also appeared before. But this time it’s good…

This wasn’t Glumb and Humbolt’s first encounter with the Museum of Future Technology’s curator- in- chief. They knew when it was best to stand up and ‘front’ her. They also knew when to cower a little and behave as obsequiously as they could, taking into consideration, of course, their sense of self-importance…

“Well, you see, your worship, it’s like this.” Glumb began.

“Like what?” Bubbly Salterton inquired of Winston Gloryhole sharply. “What’s it like?”

“Something very interesting has happened.” Humbolt replied as he attempted to view the read-out upon his hand-held Chrono-Shift meter at the same time that he spoke. “If these figures are correct…aah…something really significant – temporally that is – has occurred in this era.”

This was news to Glumb Kimball. “It has?” He inquired as his huge, bulbous eyes snapped sideways to regard his colleague.

Humbolt wasn’t sure whom he should address first. A look of thunder from Cushions made up his mind for him. “Yes,” he said, whilst looking straight at the curator, “and it absolves Glumb and me of responsibility – completely and utterly. This is your baby, so-to-speak, Ms Smethwyke; we can wash our hands of any repercussions. You want to step up to bat? Here’s your chance. Be my guest.”

Glumb appeared considerably relieved by this uncharacteristically verbal outpouring from his normally taciturn co-scientist. “Right then,” he said as the curators stood open mouthed, “we’re out of here. Bye-ee.”

Naturally, the Time Techs rushed to usher their superiors into the Tubo Di Tempo…

…but, as the time machine activated, Widderspoon Flange made to intercept them.

“But you haven’t told us what this significant event in our era is.” He cried, “What is going on?”

Humbolt passed his Chrono-Shift meter to Gregor Koch. “Ask Gregor,” he replied to Widderspoon’s question, “that’s assuming he can remember how to read the data correctly, of course: he’s probably a little rusty.”

Meanwhile, Auntie Doris, so recently promoted to the Curator Elite, smiled warmly at the worried Cushions, and said:

“Don’t worry yourself, Dear: Whatever it is, I’m sure the Earplug Brothers can sort it out for you.”

For a fleeting moment, these kind words gave Cushions a degree of confidence that she so badly needed. Then Widderspoon and the Time Techs returned with some news. News that would shake the very foundations of the museum’s existence.*

Chapter 1

A short while later, Cushions Smethwyke and the curators that had accompanied her to meet the recent arrivals from the future, stood resolutely together…

…and faced the camera of the museum’s TV reporter, Rupert Piles…

They wished to address the entire populace of the museum with the devastating news. Of course, Auntie Doris tried to soften the blow with a pleasant smile, but it did little to lift the spirits of those who watched and listened upon the TVs in the imagined sanctuary of their own homes…

…their workplaces…

In bars, restaurants, and walkways…

And upon the huge wall screens that hung in most thoroughfares and public meeting places, such as the Great Hall…

Even zombies, on their way to a hat-wearing competition, paused to listen and learn…

Wherever earplugs – and other silicon-based lifeforms within the Museum of Future Technology – heard Cushion’s resolute and unwavering voice as she elucidated in her most dispassionate manner, the result was always the same…

Shock, fear, and an intense desire to visit the lavatory. Some – those being first cousins of the Earplug Brothers, Clancy, Brad, and Gilbatross Earplug…

…fled to the lower levels and catacombs beneath the earlier museums that formed the Museum of Future Technology’s supportive strata. But seasoned – if terribly young – campaigners, such as Fulham Peach and Crudlove Twang…

…reacted in a more positive manner. They had recently joined The Yabu Youth – an organisation created by Magnuss Earplug’s protégé, Yabu Suchs, to discover brave young earplugs with the wherewithal to become future heroes. Whilst Fulham considered fortifying herself with the rapid consumption of a cup of Café Puke’s fabled Crappachino, Crudlove was receiving a page from their leader. Casting a quick glance over his shoulder at the sunset, he said:

“Fulham, sweetie: it’s time to act positively. Let’s go volunteer.”

In fact, the only people who failed to react with any observable…er…reaction were Baron Frankincense’s monsters…

…who had escaped his laboratory and were now on their way to the cinema to watch an avant-garde rom-com about high school girls experiencing abduction by a swarthy band of pirates and discovering the delights of tight pants and disco.

Whilst he awaited the arrival of Crudlove and Fulham, Yabu Suchs – of the Yabu Youth – spoke quietly with Cushions…

“So, Chief,” he said, “is that right that there has been a divergence of time-lines – right here and now, in our era?”

To which Cushions replied:

“You’re quick on the up-take. Of course it’s right, you vaguely off-yellow twerp. Something happened that caused the Tunnel Temporale to hiccup, so-to-speak, and create an alternate time-line. Starting, as of a couple of hours ago, there are now two potential histories. One is the correct time-line that will eventually reconnect with the river of time: the other will lose temporal momentum, and stagger to a halt – freezing whatever exists during those final moments before the end of time in a repetitive causality loop that can never be broken. Death will hold no dominion there; but everyone will go completely ga-ga with boredom and probably eat each other.”

A look of horror crossed Yabu’s face. “And in the morning they would find themselves whole again, and go just that little bit more insane. Oh such misery – and eternal too! ”

“Yeah, and it gets worse.” Cushions added mirthlessly, “There’s nothing to say that the ‘other’ timeline gets the bad news. It’s a fifty-fifty chance that it’ll be this time-line that enters the loop. That it’s we who go ga-ga and eat each other. We need the Earplug Brothers; and we need ‘em quick. But we can’t find them. They’re out of town. You’re Magnuss’ protégé; you must have their number; give ‘em a call!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

* Whatever that means.

The Epoch of Dung (part 1)

Following the aborted first attempt to display this latest wondrous tale of silicon-based life, sufficient photos and enough script has finally been produced to allow it’s creator to release the opening salvo of this, the 44th edition of the Earplug Adventures. You won’t be disappointed Earpluggers. It may be shorter than average – but only by twenty-five percent or so. And you know what they: the best things come in small packages*…

Earplug Adventures: The Epoch of Dung

Tooty Nolan

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Prologue

Every day was an interesting day at the Museum of Future Technology – especially since a new spaceport had opened to the paying public…

 

Visitors would wait, often interminably, in the foyer for the next shuttle to arrive…

…to take them to the Departure Lounge – from whence they would board space ships to here, there, and everywhere. Therefore, it was into this seething cauldron of silicon life that the next potential disaster poked its unwelcome hooter. Biological android, and self-proclaimed princess, Princess Agatha, and her friend, Belinda Noseguard, had happened by the long-abandoned (and previously troublesome) Tunnel Temporale, when suddenly it erupted with crimson light. Although technical imbeciles, both long-term inhabitants of the museum quickly realised that any activity within the futuristic tube that possessed the ability to traverse the river of time, but which had caused unprecedented damage when it allowed time storms to rip through the structure of both the museum and space/time itself, was very bad indeed. Naturally, they scarpered as quickly as they could…

At more or less the same time, the three Time Techs, all of which had been marooned in their past by the resultant closure and long-term temporary decommissioning of the Tunnel Temporale, were strolling back to their work stations after a quick visit to the nearby Café Puke outlet to use their toilet…

The chief Time Tech, Gregor Koch, looked sideways at his subordinate, Twinkles Forget-me-not, and said:

“What lovely urinals they have at the Café Puke. So sweet smelling. And the soap dispenser is to die for.”

“Pity their coffee tastes like it came from the same dispenser.” Runt said from behind Gregor.

“Mine tasted like it came from the urinal.” Twinkles complained. He then added, “Why can’t we have our own toilet? Why do we have to borrow other people’s loos? It’s so demeaning.”

“Cushions Smethwyke still blames us for the time storms.” Gregor replied. “She still thinks that our attempt to return to our period in history, during the worst of it, was tantamount to desertion.”

“She has a point.” Runt spoke again. “We are Time Techs after all: running out on them during their greatest need of us was kind’a ploppy.”

“That’s easy for you to say.” Twinkles grumbled. “Of the three of us, you’re on the lowest pay level: you don’t have a fortune in back-pay accumulating in the future.”

Runt had to think for a second before responding. “Hmmm,” he replied, “and I’m not exactly loaded here either. I might consider applying for a position aboard the K T Woo, you know: they’re always looking for crewmembers. You get to meet aliens too. Sometimes they shoot at you with advanced directed energy weapons. But most of the time it’s great. And the pay is terrific.”

One of the older Time Techs might have responded with, “Yeah, go for it: you’re no sodding good to us.” but the sight of the startled-looking Princess Agatha interrupted any such thought process as she exited an elevator behind Belinda Noseguard…

It took both blue earplugs approximately a half nanosecond to cover the distance between themselves and the three semi-permanent visitors from the future…

…where they quickly transferred responsibility for whatever might happen next because of them having found the Tunnel Temporale in unexpectedly operative mode.

“Yeah,” Belinda blurted, “it was all glowing red and stuff.”

“We were so scared we had to stop off at a launderette on the way here!” Agatha added for good measure.

Gregor didn’t respond initially. Well actually he did. An almost inaudible squeak escaped his trousers. But, rallying with alacrity, he said, “Thank you, ladies; on your way; leave this to us.”

Thirty seconds later, any potential CCTV cameras would have found all three Time Techs making best speed for the Tunnel Temporale…

…which startled the crews of two armoured hover reconnaissance vehicles, who had stopped off for a wee behind one of the huge concrete support columns that held up the disused roller skate park roof.

However, nothing – not even the complaining members of the military – could be allowed to slow Gregor, Twinkles, and Runt, as they raced towards (what they feared was) their destiny. Moreover, to their horror, they soon discovered that neither Princess Agatha nor Belinda had been exaggerating…

“I can’t look!” Twinkles wailed as all three Time Techs turned their backs on the apparition.

“Quick”, Gregor yelled above the humming sound that emitted from the Tunnel, “let’s run away; kill the witnesses; and feign ignorance of the whole damned deal!”

“No,” the calmest earplug present snapped. “Pull yourselves together. We must inform our superiors. Quickly – to the smaller, but infinitely more reliable, Tubo Di Tempo!”

Of course, Runt was entirely correct. So, five minutes, and several high-speed elevators later…

…Gregor, Twinkles, and Runt arrived at the Tunnel Temporale’s replacement, just in time to see it activate remotely.

“Looks like someone in the future already knows about our little problem.” Twinkles observed.

He wasn’t wrong. A moment later, the colour of the Tubo Di Tempo shifted into the blue spectrum, and two figures emerged from it…

It was a slightly shaken Humbolt Whale who led his colleague, Glumb Kimball, from the machine.

“Ooh, that was a nasty ride.” Humbolt managed after a bout of retching. “I’ve never been travel sick in a time machine before.”

“It must have been temporal eddies caused by the temporally-adjacent Tunnel Temporale.” Glumb conjectured. He then explained to the waiting Time Techs that he and Humbolt had been conducting some preventative maintenance upon their future version of the Tunnel Temporale…

…when it activated spontaneously.

“Spontaneous, it was.” Humbolt said in support of his co-worker. “We didn’t touch a thing.”

This amused Runt because it displayed a level of insecurity that matched his immediate superior’s. He was almost tempted to say, “See, Gregor, even your boss feels the need to cover his arse.” but he didn’t get the opportunity because Glumb continued to relate their tale…

“So, after due consideration, we thought we ought to get ourselves here and see if there was someone else would could pin the blame on.”

It was very fortunate for Gregor that Cushions Smethwyke had been following the situation aboard the Omnipresent Scanner. Just as Glumb had spoken those words, she and several curators entered the room.

“Ah, she said, as the surprised Time Techs turned to meet the party…

…”you’re all as bad as each other in the future. It’s time someone stepped up to the plate and took some responsibility. Well I’m here to say to you, stand aside, you gutless wonders: Cushions Smethwyke has entered the building.”

She then demanded to know ‘what the heck’ was going on.

Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

* Whoever said that obviously hasn’t seen my willy!

P.S If you ‘Liked’ this before, I’d be very pleased if you ‘Liked’ it again.

Apologies, Earpluggers – Again

After the aborted start to the 44th Earplug Adventure – Epoch of Dung – I can now announce that this time I’m actually ready to start posting episodes properly. There are currently 231 fully processed shots in the can, and probably just a handful more to snap before I can say “Done!” Regular stories require 400+ shots, so I guess this is a photo-novella in comparison. The previous shortest story was Natural Selection; but I’m pretty certain this one is coming in under that fabulous tome. Here’s a brief montage…

Lots of cameos included this time. See if you can remember which tales the characters have appeared in before. And there’s a tsunami too!

Watch this space!

 

Forcing the Grey Matter to Activate

Sometimes, when I’m bereft of fresh ideas for an Earplug Adventure, I utilise a little-known technique for forcing the issue called writer’s block. I visualise a location or scene. Then, having done so, I take one aspect of that location or scene, and create a title for the story that is yet to exist. I did it with The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah, and I’m doing it again. It was this picture that delivered the impetus to create…

It’s the Ethernet Cable End’s mud village from Plunging into Peril. I  thought: “Hang on, I’ve got loads of those cardboard inserts in the ‘studio’: better check ’em out.” And I did too…

Having done so, the title came to me. The Epoch of Dung. Sounds great. It’ll look great on the cover too.

So there it is: the next Earplug Adventure. I wonder what it’ll be like. Time travel, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Earplugs Without Pictures 15

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 rumbustious tale…


© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

Whilst Brother Hugo and Brother Austin took the time to reflect upon their impetuosity, far away in the Museum of Future Technology, the four young out-of-towners – Crudlove Twang, Fulham Peach, Fledgling McCormack, and Spodney Gridlock, had become friends, and now played on-line games together in Bazookas – one of the futuristic entertainment rooms. And it was probably because their juvenile minds were engaged in what was basically a mindless activity that they received the telepathic summons from the far away Buttox.

A half-hour later, with their wallets lightened considerably by the exorbitant price of a Transfer Conduit ticket, the foursome arrived in pea-farming country.

“Ooh,” Spodney said nervously, “I aint never been farther from home than the next town. Have we travelled a really long way?”

“It’s hard to tell with Transfer Conduits.” Fulham replied. “There’s no sense of distance or passage of time.”

“Where do we go now?” Fledgling asked Crudlove.

Crudlove looked around for inspiration. “Well,” she answered, “I suppose we’d better follow the instinct that brought us here. I feel an increase in altitude is required.”

Five minutes later they’d hired a hot air balloon, and now trusted their luck to the prevailing wind. Once airborne, Fledgling regretted Crudlove’s requirement for greater altitude, and he refused to look out of the window. So he never witnessed the sight of endless pea-farming country spread out beneath him. And he continued in this manner whilst feeling decidedly air-sick until the balloon ditched in the snow-covered mountains. Sadly they weren’t overly pleased with anything they found there. And when darkness fell they began to wonder why they’d followed their youthful impulses. But when morning arrived, they were greeted with a sight that gave them hope. The incessant winds had blown away much of the drifting snow – to reveal the surface features of the vast edifice that Buttox had found hidden beneath the ice.

AND…

A short while afterwards the group came across its first artificial structure, though they had no idea what a structure was, or that the word ‘artificial’ referred to something that wasn’t created by Mother Nature. The golden cable end then had them enter it, whereupon they were all encased inside an energy field that, when it had finished doing its pre-programmed work, it had brought them the concept of civilisation, an aversion to nudity, and toilets. In fact the latter was so successful that none of them wanted to be watched when they went for a pee. And others stood around feeling slightly embarrassed as someone farted accidentally when they sneezed.

But more was to follow. Much, much more. And that ‘much, much more‘ began with the invention of basic agriculture, which meant that they didn’t need to rely on nature to provide all of their requirements, and gave them the peace of mind of knowing that they would continue to eat through the winter months. And gaining a roof over their collective head – in the shape of cave-dwellings – would protect them from the weather and predators.

Although pleased as punch – at least initially – shortly their newly acquired intellect and creativity made them seek to improve their life style by building simple mud huts. But before the year was out, they’d developed two-storey wattle and daub constructions, which, when built en masse, quickly grew into a village, where cable ends could converse with each other in communal quadrangles, and could enjoy nice roof terraces with views of the distant hills, and rowdy neighbours with whom they could remonstrate and get into fist fights. And an inefficient sewage system that often overflowed and brought the risk of disease, damp carpets, and nasty pongs. But worse was to come when the village elders decided that the air was far too clean and rather ‘nippy‘ in the temperature gradient department and introduced the rudimentary log-burning stove with which the villagers could heat their homes and cook their meals. The resultant pollution forced the smarter inhabitants to create a suburban region on the outskirts of the only village upon the planet. They began with simple, single storey, stone-built edifices. But quickly added extensions to allow greater freedom, more bedrooms, and add value to the property. Eventually adding follies and luxurious towers from which they could look down upon the stupid villagers who stayed behind in their wattle and daub hovels.

Sadly, despite the gift of intellect and reason, the newly intelligent cable ends found it necessary to pray to the ‘gods’ and give thanks and to ask for more. And their prayers appeared to be answered, because soon their basic agriculture quickly expanded into a vast monoculture that stretched to the (very limited) horizon with linking tracks for easy access to the resultant crop. Then the golden cable end introduced the idea of cottage industry, which quickly escalated to the construction of a protective wall around the village to keep out any wandering Angling Land Lobster Squids, which, once winter finally arrived, meant that they beat their stupid heads against it in utter futility.

They also took the opportunity to invest time and energy in the development of the stair case and informative signage. And when, in the following spring, the cottage industry grew into a much larger affair, it meant that some cable ends could work the Night Shift, which gave them the necessary personal wealth to move into newly built concrete condominiums and to buy enough exterior emulsion to paint them a pleasant shade of yellow.

But still they prayed to their ‘gods’, because they couldn’t quite believe that (without the gods help) they were really smart enough to invent flush toilets, elasticated underpants, and construct a Nul-Space generator with which to power their growing civilisation.

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 Plunging Into Peril cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

 

Wattpad Ditched

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

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

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

Earplugs Without Pictures 14

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…

 

Needless to say, the former convicts were delighted to arrive at the entrance of the Museum of Future Technology. But they were considerably less delighted when they were confronted by a force field across the door. By now there was a visible path that led along the outer wall of the museum. So naturally they followed it, though Backdaw was not enamoured with the task of following the Mountain Earplug, who had a tendency to produce strange chuffing sounds that proved to be aromatic in the extreme, and Boss-Eyed Bertha felt it necessary to pretend that she wasn’t there at all. After many perambulations and circumlocutions they discovered the interior window that looked out across much of the museum. It was at the very moment as they stepped forward for a better view that a security camera flashed in their eyes. At first they were startled. Then it dawned upon them that the sudden bright light had broken the conditioning placed upon them by Sloshed Antlers’ hypnotic expertise, and a sort of darkness descended upon their souls. Stopping Prince Bucky and the Sewage Workers Union representative – Marty Filledpants – on the main thoroughfare as they scurried between refugee camps and secret shelters, the Jaundice Family quickly absorbed all the pertinent facts concerning Mister Zinc’s take-over of the museum.

“This could be our only chance for a tilt at the big time.” Lockjaw said as he gave the Mountain Earplug a hefty boot in the backside and pushed him into a roadside rain channel. “Let’s go introduce ourselves.”

Although they had absolutely no idea how to reach Mister Zinc, good fortune smiled upon them, and soon they were able to follow Philip and Ingemar as they crept into Zinc’s secret lair…

A short while later the siblings were ushered into the presence of Zinc by Slavemaster One.

“How ya doing, your worship?” Lockjaw said brazenly. “We hear you got a whole bunch of androids working for you: how about you take on a few real live earplugs too? We’re real bad-ass muthas. There’s no depravity we won’t descend to. Heck, we only just broke out of the Sloshed Antlers penitentiary two days ago. Antisocial is our middle name. We’re the real deal. You’d better believe it!”

Zinc looked down at the family. Despite his better judgement he found himself admiring the gall of the little white earplug with mauve stripes. “Okay,” he said at length, “I’ve heard there are some pink monks somewhere in the museum. Apparently they’re great at making war machines. Find them for me.”

“We know the fellas.” Slackjaw piped up. “Leave it to us.”

So four happy brothers turned to leave. But Boss-Eyed Bertha was less certain: she really had a ‘thing‘ for Rodney Bunting, and vowed silently to bugger-up all of her brother’s attempts to capture him.

AND…

Valentine and Wah-Hey hadn’t been idle either. They’d trawled through the security files for information on Mister Zinc. Information that they hoped to use against him. Half way up an Up ramp they summoned the Avatar.

“Good news.” Valentine said – once the beautiful apparition had taken on solid form.

“Yes.” Wah-Hey added. “We’ve got something on old silver-dome. He suffers from a morbid fear of constipation. He uses enemas all the time. He must visit the loo at least seventeen times a day.”

“You catch our drift?” Valentine inquired hopefully.

Avatar’s perpetual smile seemed to widen. “I catch your drift.” She answered.

Thirty seconds later a small white mound appeared in the special enclosure that belonged to the Iceworld immigrants.

“Cripes,” one of them yelled as a crowd began to form, “are we about to lose the final tiny portion of our false home world? Pray to the Saint of All Earplugs that I’m wrong.”

But when they saw who the strange mound actually was they relaxed, and more alien earplugs arrived to hear the Avatar’s words.

“I have word from Philip and Ingemar, the android zombies.” She told them…

“They have contacted me on one of Zinc’s own communication devices. We know where the bleeder is. More importantly, we know where he takes a dump.”

She then drew the listeners closer. “Find Marty Filledpants.” She instructed them. “He will lead you to a place where you can strike back against our oppressor with ultimate force.”

An opportunity to redeem themselves following their panic-stricken flight from one of Zinc’s Terraformer squadrons appealed to the Iceworlders on at least seventeen levels of appealingness. They rushed to the Central Office of the Sewage Workers Union, where the few surviving members were in conference. Shouting through the letter box they demanded that Marty help them. And before long…

“You see that effluent gushing from this outfall pipe?” Marty said.

The Iceworld representatives nodded.

“That contains Mister Zinc’s liquefied excrement.” Marty added. When the Iceworlders failed to react, he added: “If we block his toilet – he can’t use it.”

The Iceworlder’s comprehension was instantaneous; and after they’d stopped off at a cryogenics plant, they proceeded to visit a nondescript cast iron pipe that no one but Marty Filledpants would have given a second glance, upon which they laid several lumps of frozen carbon dioxide. They then called back to Marty, who had remained behind a safety rail: “Are you sure this is the pipe that leads from Zinc’s lair to the outfall pipe?” The Iceworlder’s spokesplug, Fergus Bambeeno, said.

“Absolutely certain.” Marty called back.

“That’s alright then. Soon the super-cold of this frozen carbon dioxide, which exists at a temperature of minus one hundred and nine point three degrees, or minus seventy-eight point five C will permeate the ironwork; freeze the water inside it; and create an unbreakable plug of cack and ice that will back up Zinc’s plop right back to its source – though obviously not all the way to his rectum. But very nearly.”

©  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 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 on the sidebar by clicking on the cover images.

 

Triple Threat – Now Available As a Free PDF E-Book!

Although I originally wanted to produce the complete version in EPUB form, WordPress’s inability (or unwillingness, I don’t know) to accept an upload in this format, means that I’ve been forced to back-track to the usual PDF version. It’s not terrific, but it’s not the end of the world either. Please click on the cover photo to access the file, which you can either read in situ, or download for later visual consumption. It will certainly save you lots of time rummaging through all my posts to find the complete story.

Earplug Adventures Spaceship Wallpaper: Departure

I like creating spaceship wallpapers – usually out of everyday objects and civilisation’s flotsam. Sometimes it takes a while before I write a story that might include the resulting picture. Or maybe I’ll never write one at all. Whatever, the picture’s quite nice in itself. And you can always imagine a story for yourself.

Here, Folie Krimp and Placebo Bison (remember them?) pilot the Gravity Whelk as it departs a vast space station at the edge of a distant nebula.

My Literary Gift Plans Lay in Tatters

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

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

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

Wattpad: The Greatest Fear

Well here we are, three weeks into my life of posting excerpts from the Earplug Adventures on Wattpad, and already I’m having doubts.

Checking out opinions concerning the platform on the Internet, some absolutely adore it, whilst others abhore it with a passion. For me, at this point, all I’m feeling is indifference, because that is what my tales are being met with. What few readers they attract remain utterly mute. I’m lining up  this pair of books…

…to follow the three volumes of A Tale of Three Museums. But if they garner a following to equal my initial efforts, I think I’ll be waving bye-bye to Wattpad. Shame; I was really hopeful.

 Seemingly meaningless stats…

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 33)

At the nominal controls – after all, the ship actually flew itself – Magnuss and Hair-Trigger looked on in amazement as the ship breached the atmosphere in record time…

Of course, Magnuss would have liked nothing more than to have invited his brothers aboard; but he knew they were already engaged upon other duties and pastimes. Miles, for instance, had taken a new girlfriend disco dancing in a specially converted cellar…

And Chester was in negotiations with Mister Pong…

…concerning an act he was managing, which might appear as a floor-show in Mister Pong’s Exotic Food restaurant. They were called Bogdan Moron and the Tumbling Skittles…

 

…and were very inexpensive.

“They’re from some backward country. They don’t ask for much.” Chester explained. “They’ll happily bed down in a shed at the bottom of your garden. Just as long as they’ve got cable TV and a chemical toilet you’ll not hear a peep out of them.”

Magnuss hadn’t invited Valentine along for the adventure because he and Wah-Hey were engaged upon a project to discover the mythical Lamp Stand of Gurt…

…which scholars suggested had, for eons remained hidden beneath the foundations of the many museums that preceded the current museum.

Of course, Rudi couldn’t come because he had agreed to test fly the Punting-Modesty XL5 Facepuncher whilst wearing the latest incarnation of that manufacturer’s Night Attack Goggles…

Moreover, when Miles returned from the disco, he had a task to perform for the same munitions company. He was to test the security of their rocket plant…

Chester also had other duties to perform. He and his shape-shifting love interest – Susan – would soon be engaged upon a system check of her Age of Stone exhibit’s firewall cyber-protection…

Later still, Rudi and Valentine were booked to open a new public lavatory on the third level boulevard…

“So it’s down to us.” Magnuss finished explaining to Hair-Trigger.

Hair-Trigger was about to reply, “No problem. With only one toilet aboard, it’s probably just as well.” But, instead she shrieked, “Oh Magnuss, the ship has just informed me of something important telepathically: it’s opening a space rift!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 31)

Chapter 8

Back on Earth. Or, to be more precise, at the head of the valley that led to the mountain kingdom of Lemon Stone…

…Mister Zinc trudged miserably back to the watchtower after a visit to the large, well equipped, but monstrously cold outside lavatory. It was snowing again, and Zinc was beginning to think that it might be better to pee out of the watchtower window, rather than run the gauntlet of slippery pathways and shrivelling chill. Nevertheless, it was a vaguely chirpier megalomaniac that turned from the washbasin to address his biological android girlfriend, Blue…

“It’s very cold out there, Blue.” He informed her. “So cold that I was forced to wear my monastic turban. That doesn’t come easy, I can tell you: it reminds me of the time when I was Father Superior at the monastery, and told people what to do. Whereas now…”

He left the sentence dangling there, but Blue wasn’t really listening: the clandestine communicator’s bleeping sound had distracted her.

“You’ve got a call, Darling.” She said over her shoulder.

“I’ll take it in the ice box jokingly referred to as the ‘sitting room’.” Zinc responded.

Moments later, and far away inside his apartment in the Museum of Future Technology, Gregor Arsentickler watched as the image of Mister Zinc resolved upon his fake photo frame…

Calming himself, so that he might invest Zinc with a coherent history of recent events that climaxed with the e-mail from deepest space, Gregor took a surreptitious deep breath. He then proceeded to relate all the pertinent facts to his lord and master.

Zinc appeared to absorb this information, but, in truth, his mind had been idle for too long. His role as Watch Keeper had reduced his mental capacity dramatically. He was, effectively, a dullard. He simply couldn’t form a picture in his mind that made sense to him. He recognised the term ‘robot’: but all the other stuff eluded him. Releasing a sigh, he said:

“Yeah? So what do you want me to do about it?”

Gregor was aghast. Was he being cast adrift – betrayed by the one person he admired and trusted? Did Zinc not care that Earplugdom faced a secretive foe that was hell-bent on invasion? Could Zinc not comprehend that his own plans for dominion over the curators of the museum would come to nothing if the Incense Cone’s plan reached fruition? Was he unconcerned for the wellbeing of his sole acolyte? He said as much to Zinc.

Zinc snorted in response. “Look,” he said after taking a breath that revealed his exasperation, “it’s my job to rule. I don’t need to figure out the tricky stuff; that’s for little people like you. Civil Servants I guess you’d call them. So don’t bother me again with all this space invasion tripe: call me when you’ve sorted it all out and I can come back to the museum in triumph.”

“Yeah.” Blue added, as she reached for the ‘off’ switch, “so sod off and stop worrying my darling Zincipoo: he’s a very busy earplug.”

It was as if Gregor’s still-beating heart had been torn from his chest. All that had meaning in his life was reduced to ashes in an instant. In that moment in time, he saw his folly.

“What a fool I’ve been.” He snarled. “How could I have not seen through a guy who paints himself android silver? I’ve been dazzled by his charm and spectacular appearance. And when I pause to think about it…did he ever succeed in any of his ridiculous endeavours? Well there was that incident where he tried to bring the technological level of an Eleventh Century Irish peat bog to equal the present day: that was kinda’ neat. But even that failed ultimately. “

Gregor then did what any disillusioned young male earplug would do: he cut his ties with his immediate past in a most spectacular manner. In short, he pulled the photo frame from the wall and threw it to the floor. He followed this violent act by kicking the clandestine communicator into a smoking ruin.

“That’s better.” He said as he stomped off…

…and departed his apartment – without bothering to close the door behind him…

…whilst growling to himself:

“Time to grow up, Gregor – you golden-eyed wally. Time to man-up and do the right thing.”

In the watchtower, Zinc and Blue had resumed their duties…

“Hmmm,” Zinc said as he regarded the incessant snowfall, “maybe I was a little harsh on that young earplug – whatever his name was. Perhaps I should have patted him on the head or something equally condescending. But to more important matters: do you see anything moving out there, Blue?”

Blue had, but she was loath to mention a Mountain Plugmutt urinating up the door of the outside lavatory.

“Nothing that matters.” She replied.

So, whilst the would-be ruler shivered in his isolation, Gregor went straight to a public com-panel and punched in a well-known number…

In the apartment to which that well-known number was connected, its occupants were in the process of leaving…

As Magnuss headed for the front door, Hair-Trigger paused when she thought she could hear the ‘phone ringing. “Oh…” she began.

Magnuss had heard it also: “Forget that, Hairy,” He said. “There’s a pair of coffee cups at the Café Puke with our names on them.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Again, I Know it’s Hard to Believe, But…

…some people actually think that all Tooty does is write the stupid scripts for the Earplug Adventures. However this couldn’t be less true. He really gets stuck into his multiple tasks, and isn’t afraid to get his knuckles skinned. Look, here he is helping the Stage Five rigging team construct the bridge of the Tankerville Norris

Tooty Nolan: “No, this mic is still in view, and I’m cloaked in gloom. Get a super-duper-trouper on me, but make sure no shadows are cast by my hitherto unnoticed paunch.”

Bruce Brown: “Is that Tooty’s cup of coffee on the side? It’s getting cold; I’d better drink it for him.”

Benjamin Booger: Do you like these models I’ve contructed for the props department, Margret? One is a rocket; the other is a submarine space freighter for Triple Threat.”

Margret Greenhorn: “I don’t care Benny: you look absolutely scrumptious in a hat; let’s find a quiet corner in which we might canoodle.”

Six Days into Wattpad

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

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

and…

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

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

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 23)

Following a summation of the current situation, Tong-Tong suggested re-starting the power plant. Of course, the girls were all for it…

Unfortunately – having very quickly made their way to the crystal room …

…they equally quickly realised that they had no idea how to initiate a start-up routine.

Ginger used a degree of pseudo-science. “Crystals vibrate, right?” She said.

Neither of her associates argued, so she tried singing at the crystals – allowing her voice to climb through the scales – until she was screeching, hoarse, and breathless. However, all it achieved was giving Bunty earache.

“Okay, that didn’t work.” Ginger said, once her throat had recovered, of course. “Any other ideas?”

“Affirmative.” Tong-Tong said. “Follow me.”

Shortly Ginger found herself climbing into a contraption that defied her powers to describe…

Not that she was a very descriptive sort of person anyway. “Aaargh,” she cried, “it’s horrible: get me out of here!”

“Fret not, Ginger Slack.” Tong-Tong responded. “No harm will befall you. Be assured, when the device has completed its cycle, you will know more than you do now.”

“Explain.” Ginger shouted from within the energy bubble. “But make it quick: I think I’m losing consciousness.”

In response to Ginger’s sense of urgency, Tong-Tong explained to her and the watching Bunty and Daisy that the device was an education machine. The robot told them that all newly constructed robots must endure variating periods inside machines such as this one. “It’s where they get their programming.” It finished. “It’s where they learn how to fly the ship.”

Bunty had, what she thought was, a pertinent question: “So why did you put Ginger inside? Why didn’t you volunteer?”

“I am a waiter.” Tong-Tong replied. “Waiters do not fly space ships.”

Fifteen minutes later…

“Right,” Ginger said, as she led Daisy and Bunty along the corridor that would take them to the Control Room, “Let’s get this show on the road.”

Chapter 6

Well as sure as eggs are eggs, the education of Ginger Slack had been an utter success. Within seconds of arriving, Ginger had the Astro-Navigator checking for the ship’s position in space…

“When we get the time,” Daisy said as she stared at an image of interplanetary space that meant nothing whatsoever to her, “I fancy a go in that machine. I could do with some brains.”

Naturally, Ginger was far too busy to reply; it was time for them to get the power supply sorted. It was time to re-energize the power crystals. Nevertheless, it seemed, for all her newfound knowledge, Ginger couldn’t quite figure out the knack…

Then Daisy displayed a rare nugget of wisdom. “I think they call it over-thinking.” She said to Ginger. “Relax. Use your muscle memory.”

Well if Ginger had enjoyed the luxury of time to consider those words, and the identity of the person that spoke them, she might have scoffed internally, and thereby failed – but she didn’t…

Abruptly the crystal immediately before Ginger began to sparkle inside. A gentle, almost inaudible hum of subtle energy followed.

“Ooh,” Daisy said in response, “maybe I’m not as daft as everyone thinks. Well done, Ginger!”

Ginger was also somewhat thrilled. She turned to her two earplug (and one robot) friends…

“One down.” She said. “Several more to go.”

With that, she turned her attention to the next crystal…

“How is she doing that?” Bunty asked Tong-Tong.

“Telekinesis.” The robot explained. “All brains are capable of producing this effect – that is agitating material at a molecular level – but few have discovered the means of activating this…how shall I put it: this ‘talent’.”

The conversation might have continued, but Ginger was already working on the next pair of crystals…

“It must be wonderful,” Daisy said quietly to Bunty. ”Being able to look in two different directions at the same time.”

“What do you mean?” Bunty replied, as the third and fourth crystals came on line. “Your eyes do it all the time – especially after you’ve been at your Dad’s sherry bottle.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 22)

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

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

…and watched in abject horror as…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ginger shrugged her shoulders. “We can try.”

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

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

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

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

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

Five minutes later…

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

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

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

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

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

…the trio had become a quartet.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 19)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You betcha.” Magnuss replied.

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

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

…the girls had decided upon a Crappachino each.

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

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

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

“Hans Dudishes.” It replied.

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

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

Ginger screwed up her nose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 18)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The ship now had a cargo that required delivery.

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 17)

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

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

“Nonster planet?” Miles queried.

“Surely you mean Monster Planet?” Chester suggested.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Lovely.” Miles opined.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 16)

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

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

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

“They’ve gone.” EvilRobSecGua informed him.

“Completely.” SilRoboSecGua added.

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

“Stowed away.” EvilRoboSecGua replied.

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

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

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

Then his darker side surfaced…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 14)

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

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

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

…as the craft set out for distant places.

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 12)

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

Ginger made a quick discovery…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 9)

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

…and made straight for the museum jail…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 8)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh,” Bunty said into the resulting gloom.

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

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

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

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

And the RoboSecGuas were suddenly run ragged…

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

…ignited the resulting cageous emissions.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They would use whatever mode of transportation they could find…

It was even spoke about by hoteliers in Benidorm…

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

…and the entire facility erupted in white fire…

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

But the three girls had other thoughts in mind…

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and from it emerged three equally bewildered faces…

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

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

“That was clever.” Daisy opined.

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

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

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

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

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

…Dorkan and Dawlish Deathwish.”

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and locked themselves out of harm’s way…

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

And in the Nul-Space generator power control room…

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

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

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

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

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

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

But his almost silent tirade was cut short when…

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 4)

Chapter 2

Several hours later Gregor Arsentickler approached his apartment door…

The place he called home was located in the less ostentatious sector of the museum’s habitation zone. White walls abounded, and any public decoration lay somewhere south of minimalist. Gregor liked to call it ‘Spartan’. But this wasn’t the reason that he never invited colleagues home. This wasn’t the reason why he always took circumbendibus routes home in an effort to shake anyone who chose to follow him. No, the reason why he did both these, and more secretive stuff, was because he was a Zincist: an acolyte of the detested Mister Zinc. And it was with Mister Zinc that he now communicated via a special transmitter that could be rendered invisible, and a view screen that closely mimicked a portrait that hung upon an interior wall…

“Why are you communicating with me?” Zinc inquired as he stood beside his biological android girlfriend, Blue in a distant outpost at the head of a mountain pass that led to the monastery of Lemon Stone…

…a place to which he had been banished for his prior transgressions against the Museum of Future Technology.

“Can’t you see I’m busy?” The former megalomaniac complained. “I’ve got this pass to oversee. If anyone gets past my watchtower, the Father Superior will send some of his monks up here to kick my arse into next week.”

“Good news, Sire.” Gregor spoke as he completed a curtsy. “I have found some malcontents who are young, foolish and malleable. Already I have set a plan in motion that will result in localised catastrophe. Well that’s what I’m hoping for. Unfortunately these three girls really are dopey, so nothing’s certain. But if your tentative plan to make the curators appear ineffective and slovenly, which will result in their removal from power, and thereby open the way for your triumphant return, is to work, these silly youngsters could be the impetus it requires. They could, effectively kick-start your campaign.”

To which Zinc responded: “Oh, right.”

But Blue, being the more switched-on of the two since their joint banishment to the mind-numbing tedium and cold of the watchtower, required details, which Gregor duly supplied.

“Very good.” She said curtly. “Carry on.”

So it was a smug Gregor Arsentickler who turned away from the screen…

…that instantly resumed its false appearance as a fan poster of the Earplug Brothers, whilst the special communicator flashed briefly before cloaking and becoming completely invisible to either the naked eye, digital camera, or infra-red detector.

“Hah,” he said to himself, “I’m gonna be the best acolyte that my master, Mister Zinc, has ever had. He is certain to make me a high ranking official in his government after the fall of Cushions Smethwyke and her gang of incompetent silicon oafs.”

Speaking of Cushions Smethwyke and the museum’s curator elite…

…Cushions, Winston Gloryhole, Montagu, and a guest curator from the Museum of Rancid Oats – one Fluff Buttons – were taking a quick peek before dinner at their region of reality upon the Omnipresent Scanner. It was just warming up when a message came through for them – the gist of which was the news that a very important development had been made in the museum maintenance department’s endeavours to speed up exhibit change-overs – making them more efficient and thereby reducing expenditure.

“This I gotta see.” Cushions said as she flicked the OFF switch.

The same message was relayed to Cheerful Charlie Chopsticks and Barcode Betty as they strove to regulate the energy flow from the Nul-Space generator…

“Oh goodie,” an excitable Cheerful Charlie exclaimed. “A demonstration of more fabulous tech: I’m all for it. Set the regulator on Auto-pilot, or handle this solo, Betty: I don’t want to miss the start.”

Meanwhile, Daisy, Bunty and Ginger had managed to find their way on to the Woven Expanse…

…which, of course, was the only way for them to gain their destination – the Wide Blue Yonder. Although Ginger’s feet hurt, and she lagged behind slightly, she and the other two girls were determined to take full advantage of Gregor Arsentickler’s offer of a second chance with Major Flaccid.

It wasn’t too far now, they were certain, which was just as well, because at that moment, in the Research, Development and Cost-Cutting Department laboratory…

…the recently summoned curators were being welcomed by the biological android lab staff. Of course Gregor had finagled himself a role in the R, D & C-C several months earlier, and had made himself indispensable – taking on roles that the regular staff were loath to do and sometimes were downright dangerous…

Although Gregor hated Cushions and company with every fibre of his being, he smiled sweetly and stood around on the periphery like the good ‘gopher’ he was…

Montagu, as a biological android himself, was justifiably proud of his team. He introduced the three turquoise androids:

“From your left to right, Cushions, meet Agnes Lovehandles, Steve Jessop, and Wonky.”

He then failed utterly to mention the seemingly eager yellow earplug beside them, which only made Gregor’s inner fury burn that little more brightly…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Galactic Newsletter: Chilly Willy Discovered

Whilst exploring an uncharted and utterly frozen world, crew-members of the K T Woo have discovered an ancient space rocket entombed in ice! Former protégé of Magnuss Earplug – Yabu Suchs – who commanded the team and drove the lead hover chariot remarked:

“A quite remarkable phallic symbol. Possibly the most significant I have ever seen.  It’s very big. Very, very long – and perfectly straight too. I say, would you mind switching off your microphone: I’m feeling vaguely inadequate.”