Tag Archives: earplug adventures

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…to a recently installed facility called ‘Decontamination’…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“When do you leave?” Wah-Hey added.

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

This didn’t go down well…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They simply had no idea what to expect.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 1)

Prologue

The Earplug Brothers had only ever used their Hyperspace Pirate-look-alike-spaceship once previously; but following the discovery of a nasty pong in a region of space that wasn’t desperately far from Earth, they had re-boarded their under-used vessel and set off immediately to investigate…

Although the aforementioned region of space came within the boundaries of the Solar System, to the occupants of the saucer, it felt awfully far away from home…

But after studying for gaseous emissions for two days, they were getting decidedly bored. Well Miles and Chester were. Rudi and Valentine were both far too busy checking read-outs and analysing samples of vacuum to notice.  And Magnuss just felt space sick…

But between bouts of nausea and rushing to the toilet, the middle brother had managed to concoct a theory. The pong to which reports referred was of a very individual design. In fact Magnuss knew it well. He was certain that he had smelt it once before – when a false Supreme Being had supplanted the true Supreme Being, whom the Earplug Brothers had freed from inside a huge wooden crate…

…who then did battle with the interloper, soon to be known as the Wonky Supreme Being…

…and with the brother’s help, the real Supreme Being was able to blow the underpants clean off the Wonky Supreme Being and thereby defeat him…

Now, yonks later, Magnuss was certain that the current pong was utterly redolent of the smell that had erupted from the Wonky Supreme Being’s pants as they flew haphazardly across the battlefield, all that time ago. But, until he felt better and was able to speak without gagging, he chose to keep his thoughts to himself. Chester, on the other hand, was thinking how much more fun the saviours of Mars – Folie Krimp and Placebo Bison – were certain to be having, right now, aboard the Gravity Whelk

And Miles was recalling a happier time when the five siblings performed Los Caballeros Stupido a cappella whilst standing on a dangerously minuscule stage with their distinctive Cossack hats perched upon their heroic heads…

But whatever the subject on each Earplug Brother’s particular mind, it was certain that (after several days in the depths of space) they all longed to return to The Museum of Future Technology…

An hour or two later – no one is certain quite how long, because boredom makes seconds seem to last forever – Rudi and Valentine concluded their study…

…and became aware of their sibling’s discomfort. Being the eldest, and therefore the wisest brother, Rudi invited them all into the presence of the Ship’s Oracle…

“Hey, Man,” he said to the fountain of knowledge, “we aint sure what we should do next – know what I mean? We’re getting nowhere fast, and my bros are getting real cheesed-off: any ideas?”

To which the Oracle replied: “You pop off to the lavatory for a few minutes: I’ll contact the museum.”

Of course it was exactly what the boys wanted to hear, and five minutes later they were on their way back to the control room…

…feeling much better in themselves, their bladders, and hopeful for the immediate future. And as they re-entered the control room, they couldn’t help but notice that the video link to Earth was in the act of warming up…

Much to their surprise, the Museum of Future Technology’s toothy chief curator – Cushions Smethwyke – had been joined by their Auntie Doris.

Rudi spoke for all of them: “Hello, Cushions.” He said “Hi, Auntie: How’s tricks?”

“Hello, boys.” Auntie Doris replied cheerfully, as was her way. “Miss Smethwyke has some good news for you.” Then to Cushions she said: “Go on, Cushions: tell them.”

“Good news indeed.” Cushions spoke across the vast divide between the museum and the flying saucer. “We’ve got a more important job for you, back here in the museum.”

“Hey,” Valentine spoke for the first time since swearing at the recalcitrant computer terminal at his Gaseous Anomaly Work Station, “right on, mama. Smells aint no groove, you dig? Specially space-smells. Whatta you got in mind?”

Doris couldn’t restrain her enthusiasm: she spoke straight over the curator: “We’ve had another exhibit arrive from the future.” She squealed with ill-disguised delight. “It’s a bloody great big one. The biggest since Eyewash Station was destroyed.”

“Yes,” Cushions added as she pushed herself in front of Doris, “it’s from an era when all technology was based on a single material: stone.”

This confused the heck out of the brothers. “But,” Chester said on their behalf, “the Stone Age isn’t in the future: it’s in the past!”

“No,” Cushions replied adamantly, “not the Stone Age: but The Age of Stone. It will be an era when everything is constructed out of stone. And I mean everything: even stethoscopes, windmills, micro-circuitry, and lavatory seats!”

Whilst the boys absorbed this stunning information, Doris finagled her way centre stage once more. “And they want you to test drive it – so-to-speak. So get yourselves back here as quick as poss: Cushions wants to open it to the public, but she wants to make sure it’s safe first.”

Three seconds later…

…they were on their way. And Magnuss wondered if this was the right moment to mention his fears that the gaseous anomalies were the result of the return of the Wonky Supreme Being. That they weren’t space-smells – as Valentine had assumed incorrectly: but God-farts – infiltrating and permeating regular space/time from within another quantum realm entirely!

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Yes, Earpluggers, they’re back!

Earplugs Without Pictures 12

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

So to it. Here it is…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

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

Earplug Adventures Wallpaper: A Scroton Five Emerges from a Hyper-Space Conduit Above the Museum of Future Technology.

If you’re an Earplugger, you’ll know that this picture can’t be right. The Scroton Five exists in a later era. Or maybe it has travelled back through time. Or perhaps this is a picture from the MOFT’s future. Dr Gideon Snoot might be coming home. Ooh there’s a possibilty. Maybe I can shoehorn that idea into the next Earplug Adventure

The Set: The Scene 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So who is this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earplugs Without Pictures 10

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…

Throgennis could not have imagined that he would ever have travelled to the Over-Realm. In fact he’d never heard of it. So he had no idea that he now stood upon a planet so distant from Earth; the Museum of Future Technology; and Lemon Stone, that it might easily have been infinitely far away. But he did know one thing with utter certainty: that he wasn’t happy. And he wasn’t frightened of letting people know. It was on his third outrageous bellow of anger and frustration that a huge apparition became apparent to him.

“Cripes.” He said when he spotted it. “That looks a bit scary: I’d better watch my tongue.”

“You,” the apparition boomed so loudly that Throgennis felt certain plaster would flake from the invisibly distant ceiling and tumble down to settle upon his shoulders, “are of the species Earplug.”

It was a statement. Throgennis realised this when the image of an incredibly average earplug glowed warmly beneath a spotlight.

“As such,” the vast being continued, “you are a proverbial pain in the ass. All earplugs are. In fact earplugs are such a galactic nuisance that we higher life-forms have decided that you might have to be made extinct.”

This last line gained Throgennis’s attention like no line before – even ones such as: “Look out, it’s a naked biker gang!”, “My mum’s farts are louder than your mum’s.” and “Your lavatory is unsavoury and has been condemned!”

“Yeah?” He responded insolently.

“Yeah.” The vast being replied. “Like they’ll cease to be – everywhere – forever!”

Throgennis hadn’t got where he was in life by missing inferences. He said: “I sense a ‘but’ looming.”

“I’m sure  you do.” The vast being’s voice almost smiled. “But you, and your kind can survive this. You need only be found ‘not guilty‘.”

Throgennis looked up.

“Which can mean only one thing.” He said grimly. “We stand accused of being galactic butt-wipes. And I have to answer for our crimes. Okay, bring it on. Do your worse. I’m wearing my lucky underpants today.”

“Very well,” the vast being replied, “let proceedings…er…proceed.”

AND

At the controls of the K T Woo, Hakking Chestikov sat indecisively and stared at the main viewer. But little did he know that Bottoms Barkingwell, whose tasks demanded that she work within the bowels of the huge vessel, and required rubber gloves and a large lavatory brush to complete to a satisfactory standard, spotted something that made her smile. And that something was none other than Captain Sinclair Brooch and his wife, Nancy as they scurried along on their way towards the cabin, in which resided the Cyber Oracle. So, after bringing the electronic fountain of knowledge up to date, Nancy said: “Oh Oracle, what the sodding hell are we supposed to do?”

In reply, the shocked Cyber Oracle said, “Flipping heck; that’s the most difficult question that I’ve ever been asked. It’s going to tax me to the very limits of my design parameters – perhaps beyond them. In fact so far beyond my design parameters is this question taxing me that it’s quite possible I might either make the final evolutionary step and thereby gain true artificial sentience; or I might explode.”

“We don’t have time for this nonsense.” Sinclair snapped. “Pull yourself together: you’re the most advanced computer that ever existed on our doomed world, so aptly named, by an Earplug Brother, as Worstworld. Give me the blinking answer!”

Under such pressure, the logic circuits inside the Cyber Oracle shifted into overdrive. Three seconds later the response came:

“Yeah, I think I got it. The answer is…”

Well the next anyone saw of the Captain and his wife was scant moments later, and they would never have guessed that anything was wrong aboard ship. In fact those who witnessed their passing took great comfort from their leader’s contented smile. And, if they’d seen him stop off at an internal communication panel they might have wondered who he was calling up in such a genial manner in the midst of such a terrible crisis in orbit above the Galactic Court planet.

It was Adam Binsmell (at Coms) that took the call. Adam listened intently for several seconds, before turning to the latest occupant of the Captain’s chair – Daisy Pong.

Daisy looked across at Adam. She had only just arrived at her duty station, and the replacement Helmsplug and Executive Officer were yet to arrive.

“Yeah?” She spoke bluntly and used only mono-syllables. “What you want?”

Being a talented Communication Officer, Adam relayed the Captain’s message word for word and nuance for nuance.

“Oh.” Daisy responded,”That good – innit!”

Daisy Pong’s speech pattern was abrupt; missing those joiny-uppy words that most people use; and often abrasive: but on this occasion she was utterly correct. It was good. It was very good. It was so good that Sinclair and Nancy didn’t bother to do or say anything more on the subject. Instead they simply held hands and stared at the cosmos through their favourite window on Deck Three.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

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

Sorry Again Earpluggers…

…but the serialised version of Haunted Mars has had to be removed. Not enough room on this blog for it and anything new that I might create I’m afraid. Bit of a shit, I know: but the last thing I’m about to do is pay money for a space upgrade on a platform that is failing me miserably. For example, I thought I’d spend a quick half-hour doing a bit of site maintanance. I planned to clear out some really old stuff that no one looks at anymore. But could I navigate to it? Could I fuck! And slow? I’ve seen dog crap on the pavement move faster. It took me hours. But just to get access to the old stuff, I had to delete newer stuff: otherwise the system just ground to a halt and quit on me. Some stuff got deleted because the system couldn’t keep up with my fevered mouse clicking. I’d click on a particular photo or file: WordPress paused (to think about it?), then deleted an entirely different photo or file – or didn’t react at all. In the end I thought “Bollocks to this”, and deleted willy-nilly. I was just glad to rid the system of my stuff so that whatever program was trying to carry out my requests had a bit of wriggle room and maybe it’s best speed might better a moribund crawl – before stopping entirely of course. But, on the brighter side, space was created, so I can continue ranting on like a miserable old bastard in the future, and perhaps display a few pictures of my arse in the process. Also Haunted Mars hasn’t disappeared entirely: you can still read the whole thing by clicking on the book covers, which will bring up a PDF copy of the e-book version for you to either read or download – or both. The possibilities are endless! Rant over.

The Set: The Scene 2

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

For this first example, we travel economy class to the Costa Blanca for some location work…

Yup, real Spanish earplugs playing Spanish characters – in the shape of Los Tapones Del España

…as they make their way to the Museum of Future Technology in Museum of Terror.

Right, that’s the easy one out of the way. What the heck is this..?

Well it wouldn’t surprise me none if nobody in the whole world got this one right. But wait a minute: isn’t that the starship, Chi-Z-Sox, lying nonchalantly upon that glazing pallet? Hmm, so what’s with the blue background and plastic tube? The answer is this…

It’s from Plunging Into Peril, in which the Chi-Z-Sox overheated upon entering a planet’s atmosphere, and dived into the sea to cool off – much like I used to do when I went metal detecting on the same beach where I set up the Museum of Terror shots. Here we see the space ship racing through the water as it attempts to flee angry locals who believe the crew are trying to steal their duterium.

Here’s another tricky one…

“Ah,” you’re thinking, “I recognise that pink rocket: that has appeared several times as the device that brought down the invading End Cap mother ship in The Invasion From Hyperspace and other alternate reality or time-travel stories, including Evil Empire!” And you’d be right. But this doesn’t come from either of those tales of derring-do. THIS is the shot that was…ah...shot here…

It’s the nuclear missile that the KT Woo fired at an ice packaging plant in Cold War. I then cheekily used it again as an on-screen shot aboard the Chi-Z-Sox, when Professor Hidious Gout fired an entirely different missile at the island of Dr Adolf Weil-Barrau in Mutant Island.

So, to the fourth and easiest puzzle. Where have you (more recently) seen this?

Look closely. Yes, it’s those adorable characters, Lillie Whitewater and William of Porridge…

…as he utilises his fine baritone to sing ‘What Becomes of the Broken Winded’ to her at the end of Haunted Mars.

Wasn’t that fun: we’ll have to convene here again.

P.S – Don’t forget that you can read or download any of the aforementioned stories by clicking the cover pictures on the sidebar.

Earplugs without Pictures 8

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 stupendous tale…

Click the cover pic for a FREE PDF file of the book

But before he completed the journey, the same force that had abducted Colin and Plankton, turned him into a side conduit, which was very long indeed, and only when he reached the extreme limit of the conduit, did he finally emerge into daylight…only to discover Gwen, Neezup, and Bob waiting for him in an area of mountainous wasteland.

“Hi, darling.” Gwen said. “What a relief: you’ve been possessed too!”

 At first the foursome were happy to wade through the peat and lichens of the wasteland, even if the squeeze, through the long conduit, did cause Cuthbert to become a little windy. But before long tiredness and boredom set in, and despite being under some form of mental control, they began to get a bit fed up. In fact Cuthbert and Neezup became so bored that they began singing extracts from an operetta, which didn’t please Gwen too much because she was more into classic soul/funk fusion. But Bob didn’t care: in his haste to comply with the demands put upon him by the unseen power that pulled him along, he’d forgotten to replace the batteries in his hearing aids, and so couldn’t hear a bloody thing. But he was almost thrilled when, eventually, they too discovered the secret wharf, and a nice sailing raft.

“Everybody blow really hard.” Neezup instructed the others. “We have to fill the sail with air.”

So they did, but by the time they had gained the open sea, night had fallen, and a squall had blown in from the north.

For Colin and Plankton ahead of them, the squall was quickly escalating into a storm.

“Flipping heck.” Plankton yelled above the roar of turbulent waters and lashing rain. “My underpants are soaked!”

“That’s nothing.” Colin replied. “My farts have dried up: we’re dead in the water!”

And it was in this moribund condition that the others caught up with the two friends.

“Isn’t it horrible!” Gwen shouted across the gap between the two vessels.

“It certainly is, Madam.” Colin replied hoarsely. “More horrible than you can imagine. My friend Plankton and I have been vomiting hugely for the past three hours. We have nothing left inside us, yet still we feel absolutely ghastly.”

“You think that’s bad.”  Neezup retorted. “This heavy swell forced my darling Bob to stumble and catch his knee against the mast. It’s all swollen up now.”

“Yes.” Cuthbert perked up from feeling rather unwell himself. “And the lovely Gwen slipped upon a length of storm-tossed seaweed and fell upon her arse. She’ll be pulling splinters from her shapely buttocks for hours to come!”

And so the conversation continued, whilst the rafts were buffeted hither and thither – their destination lost in the whorl of dark skies and unquenchable seas.

AND

Slomo should have been hurt by Daffney’s vicious usage of the earplug language. Mortified, even. But, because of her nervousness at meeting the unrequited love of her life, she didn’t hear her cruel words.

“Daffney De Mauritania, it’s me; your biggest fan: Slomo Chewings.” She said through her idiosyncratic lopsided smile. “I’ve disconnected the alarm system, so you can take your friends wherever you want.”

“Why would you do that?” Magnuss inquired.

“Because…” Slomo answered hesitantly. “Because, during my time here I feel I’ve come to know Daffney – if only from a distance. And, I’m not sorry to say, I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with her.”

Daffney coloured instantly.

“You’re in there, Daffney.” Magnuss joked.

“All I ask,” Slomo continued, whilst looking directly at the flushing Daffney, “is that when – whatever this is – is over, you allow me to buy you a coffee from the machine in the canteen and maybe chat awhile. Any subject: motorcycles, turnips, bras. Anything.”

“You’re on.” Hair-Trigger replied upon Daffney’s behalf. “Now keep an eye out for us whilst we visit the Sterile Area mutants. You’re now officially our look-out.”

From that moment on Daffney had been practically useless. So taken with her adoring admirer was she that she simply couldn’t think coherently. ‘She’s so cute.’ She would muse to herself. “And that lopsided smile is so endearing. And to think; she thinks I’m wonderful. Pretty, even. Oh, I’m all of a dither; I don’t know what to do!’ She didn’t either. It was pure instinct, muscle memory, and a few kicks up the arse that allowed her to lead Magnuss and Hair-Trigger back to the Sterile Area.

Naturally the two heroes left her at the door and proceeded to the habitat area alone.

It became quickly apparent that they had arrived during a sleep sequence. Speed was of the essence, so Hair-Trigger didn’t waste a moment. She began singing her favourite extract from an opera by Anton Twerp, very loudly indeed. The effect of this was a mob of mutated beings came barrelling out of their slumber pods – wondering what all the bloody racket was about.

“Line up.” Magnuss commanded them. “Come along, hurry, hurry. Line up. Line up. That’s a good band of…er… mutated anomalies. We have something very important to tell you. So perhaps we should consider telling each other our names. That’s always been a relatively good ice-breaker. I’m Magnuss Earplug. My beautiful partner, here, is Hair-Trigger Provost. She’s a bounty hunter, you know. Have you ever heard of a bounty hunter? They’re very good you know.”

Magnuss realised pretty quickly that he was running off at the mouth. So he slowed both his thought processes and his oral muscles. “Hello.” He said to a red-faced female with strange yellow eyes. “What’s your name?”

“Starry Knight.” The reply came in a pleasant contralto that reminded Magnuss of his grandmother – Granny Windbag.

“Most apt.” Magnuss said, almost condescendingly. ‘Cripes, at this rate,’ he thought, ‘this is going to take hours.’ “What about everybody else?” He asked no one in particular.

And so began an exchange of names.

The first to speak was a severely undersized rubber bung, who introduced himself as Cowpat Carlson. “Yeah,” he next said, “I used to be big and strong, but incredibly thick in the head. Now I’m tiny, but an intellectual giant. Ask me anything: I’ll give you an honest and immediate answer.”

“Can you tie your shoe laces?” Hair-Trigger inquired.

“Sorry.” Cowpat replied with a sigh. “We haven’t reached that level of development yet. But when I do…wow, my fingers will become a blur.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

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

Tooty’s Rambling Art

Whilst out walking in the rain (with a water-proof camera, of course) I chanced upon a small gully that had been worn into the side of the road by Winter’s incessant rainfall. A steep hill meant that it flowed with sufficient pace to create a micro-waterfall; so, inspired by nature, I placed my camera into the water, facing up hill. I then left the resulting photo to fester in my computer for a few weeks. Eventually I decided to do something with it. I thought that perhaps I might bring into existence another world for my Earplug Adventures. So, without any plan, I started sodding about with a free photo manipulation program – Photoscape. The resulting cyber-doodle looks like this…

The Gravity Whelk arrives on the Ice World

Who knows, it might even appear in a story one day. Talking of which, so might this shot of Magnuss creeping into a missile launch facility…

Everyone knows that back doors are always left unguarded – don’t they?

Earplugs without Pictures 6

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

Click the cover image for the FREE complete e-book in PDF form

Meanwhile, in another part of the museum that was yet to be consumed by the terrible Zinc Machine, the four former monks of the Order of the Holey Vest from Lemon Stone, Pedro Agonista, Flaccidus Aroma, Augustus Belch, and Rodney Bunting, had rented a workshop. Now they set to work inside it. For hour upon hour they toiled – fabricating, checking stolen blueprints, hammering, welding, occasionally going to the toilet. That sort of thing. But when they reached the end of their labours, the four exhausted former monks wheeled out a ‘pirate copy’ of a genuine Punting-Modesty Sputum GT250A-Attack Cycle.

“This’ll knock ’em dead down at the cavalry stockade.” Pedro said confidently.

But he wasn’t entirely correct.

“It’s a bit big and heavy.” One of the troopers dared utter.

“Yeah, and it can’t carry passengers.” Another observed.

“Just give it a try.” Rodney pleaded. “You never know – you might find it most satisfactory. And the saddle is really easy on your bum – especially if you suffer from piles – a particular problem with cavalryplugs, or so I’ve been told. “

Joe Frayzer, who didn’t like to confess to having problems with his butt, replied gruffly: “Yeah, alright; we’ll give it a run ’round the block. It couldn’t hurt none.”

So he leapt aboard; made himself comfortable; and twisted the throttle as far back as the cable would allow. Initially the Staff Sergeant was highly impressed with the GT250A. “Cor,” he yelled above the whine of the lifting motor and the roar of the propulsion engine, “it goes like stink!”

But when he rode it over uneven ground his smile quickly transformed into a grimace.

“Sorry,” he said upon his return to the stockade, “but the machine gave my false teeth a really hard time. They were shaken so thoroughly that they’ve swapped sides inside my gob. And contrary to your verbal sales brochure, the seat gave my arse the worst pummelling since my troop was chased down the side of rocky gorge on Worstworld by a whirlwind that had sucked up a whole bunch of scorpions and tarantulas, and thrown them at us. You’ll have to build something that’s much more comfortable with better protection against wind, rain, ice storms, and high-velocity rifle bullets.”

An hour later the four former monks returned with a replica Punting-Modesty RD400F Command Buggy.

“Hmmm,” Joe hummed after giving the machine a thorough examination, “but it isn’t very offensive is it? And it comes up short on good looks, speed, and endurance. Close, but no banana.”

So ten minutes later…

“The XS360 has a ram-scoop engine.” Pedro explained. “It collects dust from the air, and burns it for fuel. Primarily it’s a long-range patrol vehicle.”

“Great,” Joe replied, “but the driver is a sitting duck in a roll-over situation.”

So a half-hour later…

“Fabulous – a TX500.” Joe said, after casting an engineer’s eye over the latest version of the war buggy. You’ve chucked out that poxy, gutless eco engine. That’s good: I always vote for a balanced combination of BHP and torque. But, ah, where’s the offensive capability?”

“Holy heck.” Augustus exploded in response. “All you had before were a few flea-ridden plugmutts and some dried-out saddles that were years old and as hard as rock. You should be grateful for anything!”

Despite this atypical outburst, the hermaphrodite chums went away again – to return a short while later with…

“There you go, you pedantic arse hole.” Flaccidus growled. “The cannon’s off the Nosepuncher XL5 by the way.”

This time the Staff Sergeant was more impressed. Turning to a surprised Fanny Skidmarx. He said, “Right, Private; you may have the honour of flight-testing the machine I hereby designate P1-5S Assault Buggy. Carry on.”

AND

Meanwhile, far away upon the dusty plain that stood at the foot of the mountain range upon which Lemon Stone stood proudly, hard-working pea farmer, Bucksome Whelk, was greeting the new day even before the sun had risen. He was a hyperactive workaholic, and there was nothing he enjoyed more than getting out of bed really early to do a long day’s hard labour in the pea fields. He kept a sign in his bedroom to remind him that he should never grow lax and become like his idle idols, Las Chicas De La Playas, a picture of whom he had pinned to his wall as a constant reminder. So no one else was around to see his porch light illuminate…

(A picture of a mud building appears here)

Neither was there anyone present to see him step out into the pre-dawn – in the full expectation of finding his beautiful crop of young pea plants. But what Bucksome Whelk actually saw, in that dim light, made him stare disbelievingly like a startled gazelle caught in the headlight of an approaching trans-continental locomotive; because, laid out in front of him like some terrible manifestation of a tortured mind, sat the largest, most humongous, pile of steaming manure that he had ever seen – or ever wanted to see. But if this wasn’t enough for the simple-minded pea farmer, the situation grew rapidly worse. As he finally circumnavigated the immense turd, Bucksome discovered that his pea seedlings had been swept away by some unimaginable force.

His work gang rushed from their quarters when they heard his scream of horror.They watched in disbelief as their employer stood so still among the ruination that he appeared to have been petrified. For Bucksome it became horror heaped upon horror as the lightening sky revealed that the entire crop had simply ceased to exist. Or, to be more precise, it had been transformed into excrement and deposited on the lawn of his farm-house.

“Right, that’s it.” He said as a grim determination swelled within his chest,”I’m gonna talk to the guys about this.”

So, after Bucksome had returned to the farm buildings his staff were expecting to hear that their services were no longer required, and that they could return to the bosom of their families in the former communist states from whence they had come to the dusty plain. They even conjectured upon the size of the severance cheque. But they were to be disappointed.

“Right then.” Bucksome said. “I want you to re-plant with seeds from the store. I intend to learn the identity of the miscreant who had attempted to destroy my life’s work. I’ll be back when I’m back. Now get to work.”

With that he strode off across the newly barren landscape.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2016

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the Unity vol 1 cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

Earplugs without Pictures 5

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

Click cover image for complete story in PDF format

So, whilst Magnuss and Benjamin began their sojourn in search of the museum’s inhabitants, the showgirls stumbled across the crashed time ship. Of course, being entertainers, they didn’t recognize it for what it was, and instead thought that it might possibly be either a crashed aircraft or an invasion from outer space. They preferred the former explanation, and duly set out to find the absent occupants. Naturally, to cover more ground quickly they elected to break up into three groups, each comprising two showgirls. Delia Stodge and Poki Kitchener set off in an easterly direction. Belle Ching and Wendy Rucksack headed north by northwest. And Ragi Half-Nelson and Nokaks Newbold dropped several floors to the basement and thence to the sub-strata upon which the original museum had been built. Upon reaching the rock bottom – literally – they were bemused when they discovered it utterly devoid of life.

“I’m bemused on at least seventeen levels of bemusability.” Nokaks informed her dancing co-worker. “I may only be an attractive young female who can step in time and kick her feet high above her head; but I really expected to find signs of a frightened populace cowering in the shadows from whatever it was that happened whilst we were in a drunken stupor. How about you, Ragi?”

Ragi didn’t reply immediately: she was too busy fretting about something that she’d just realised. Eventually she said: “Nokaks, you’re not going to believe this; but I got so drunk last night that I forgot to remove my sequined dancing knickers. Now they’re chafing the heck out of my thighs – and I’m not enjoying it!”

Meanwhile, out and about on their own earplug hunt, Belle and Wendy stumbled upon the Nul-Space Power Generator, which, they noted, whirred quietly in hibernation mode. Naturally they turned the dial up a few notches; then waited to see what would happen.

The effect of Belle and Wendy’s action wasn’t immediately obvious as Ragi and Nokaks quickly made their way back into the more modern regions of the museum. But the dancing duo nearly wet themselves when they were caught in the blinding glare of a security light.

“Oh Nokaks,” Ragi yelled only semi-coherently, “I really wish that dingbat Belle hadn’t woken us up so darned early this morning: we could be all tucked up nice and warm in our beds right now. When this terrible adventure concludes – hopefully with a happy ending – I’m going to join another ballet!”

But, in order to accomplish her ‘happy ending’ Ragi knew that standing around whilst wailing like an air raid siren would get her nowhere; so the two girls pressed on with their search. With no clear plan to follow, they soon found themselves upon a wide plain, where a small sign informed them it was intended that more exhibits from future eras would appear sometime in the…er…future. It was very wide and very flat, and both girls felt intimidated by its vastness. But although they hated the place with a vengeance, their feelings of loathing were put aside, and their quest for the truth continued – eventually leading them to a green impact splodge.

“Ugh?” Ragi said intelligently. “It looks as though something fell from the sky and went splat. What do you think it might be, Nokaks?”

Nokaks might have been an expert at wearing spectacular headdresses and performing the opening act and exciting finales in variety shows; but something falling from the sky and going splat existed in a mental environment to which she was an alien visitor. “Um,” she replied, “I’m not sure, but it looks to me like it might be evidence of some form of chemical attack. Something was dropped here, and it spread to other places…through the ventilation system, maybe? The result of which is what you see on the other levels.”

Ragi wasn’t sure what impressed her more: Nokak’s remarkable improvised theory, or the effect that sudden dread can have on a female earplugs’ ability to retain intestinal wind. “Gosh.” She said. “I wonder if the chemicals smelt as rotten as my gas.”

AND

Magnuss had been grateful for Benjamin Booger’s local knowledge. It was the green earplug who informed him that if they really needed to access the Wide Blue Yonder, they didn’t have to cross the Woven Expanse to get there. In the alternative universe the faux desert extended much farther, and with the use of a desert sled, which was powered by a mighty three cylinder air-cooled two-stroke motor, they could cross it in short order. Unfortunately mighty three cylinder air-cooled two-stroke motors consume fuel at a prodigious rate, and its tank showed empty just as the party arrived at the Wide Blue Yonder’s outer edge, which really cheesed-off Magnuss because he really liked two-strokes and was hoping to ride it all the way to the arboretum. So, stumbling through the last of the desert’s fake sand, Magnuss led the others to a vantage point that overlooked their next task. To say that the Wide Blue Yonder looked daunting was an understatement of seismic proportions.

“We’re doomed if we try to cross that.” K’Plank opined loudly. “We’ll stand out like a vicious sore on an otherwise pristine porcelain buttock. We’re sure to disappear without warning or trace. Give me back my Sheath of Unseeableness, you rotten swine!”

But then Poki had an idea. “Delia and I work in the theatre.” She said. “We know how all the wonders of show-biz work. It’s all the workings beneath the stage. That’s where the magic is made.”

“Of course.” Magnuss bellowed as hope surged within his silicon chest. “Maintenance access tunnels. They must criss-cross the Wide Blue Yonder at a thousand points. Poki, if I didn’t love Hair-Trigger Provost with every fibre of my being, I’d take you ’round the back of the nearest bike shed and give you a great big kiss. Well done: I think you’ve supplied the answer to our problem. Let’s go find an access hatch or something similar.”

Meanwhile Cabbaggio and Vortexia Di Bikini were receiving a lesson in Blue End Cap technical superiority.

“Yeah,” Flutter sneered, “when we decided that we wanted to control the Museum of Future Technology, we didn’t come in with all disruptor weapons firing. No; we were much too smart for that. We infiltrated a small combat party – complete with our patented Matter Transporter – and began our work from a hidden sanctuary. We’ve been slowly removing the population of the museum – and no one can do anything about it. First we took out the big guys: the curators, the agents of TWIT, and those pinky-orange bums – the Earplug Brothers: then we took out everyone else – except you two of course. But you don’t matter: you’re nobodies. Then, tomorrow afternoon, at about three-thirty, the invasion ships arrive. Then I will lower the defensive screens and the museum will be ours!”

“Gee-whizz.” Vortexia said as she apparently swooned. “That must be one heck of a hidden sanctuary. Where did you say it’s located?”

“In the arboretum, of course.” Flutter replied without thinking. “No one would think of looking for us there.”

“I guess you’re right.” Cabbaggio said with an admiring lilt to his slurred voice. “Now if you’ll excuse us, we need a drink.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

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

Earplugs Without Pictures 3

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 magnificent tale…

Click cover image for complete story in PDF

Waiting until another law enforcement patrol had passed by, Erroneous and Hellfire sidled up to the door, where they duplicated the coded knock that the burglars had given only minutes earlier. A half-second later they had disappeared from the street. Not surprisingly they found themselves inside the burglar’s den – where the night’s paltry booty was being shared out over mugs of coarse ale and out-of-date Cornish Pasties, served to them by a pair of disgruntled end caps.

“Ho, ho, ho.” One of them erupted. “We’ll feast tonight, and make no mistake.”

Another concurred: “Aye, we’ll all have two pasties tonight. And maybe we could stretch to a celebratory flagon of ginger beer. Or maybe a half carafe of the house lemonade!”

This was more than Erroneous could stand. “Enough idle banter!” He roared.

Everyone turned to look at him – except the end caps, of course: they couldn’t give a hoot what he had to say: they had Cornish pasties that needed de-furring.

“Yes, enough!” Hellfire supported his friend ably.

“As burglars,” Erroneous continued, “you’d all make excellent bus drivers. In other words…you’re all complete…” He paused before adding a very rude word indeed.

To say that the burglars were shocked would be like saying that the enormous poop that blocked the Museum of Future Technology’s sewage system, and thereby saved it from an iron-fisted dictatorship, was…er…enormous. They were also stunned: no one had ever slipped past their security and called them crap before. This was new ground.

“Oh yeah?” One of them replied belligerently. “Who sez?”

Hellfire quickly selected a driving rock theme upon the juke box, before following Erroneous’ lead as he leapt upon a table.

“Erroneous Bosche, that’s who.” Erroneous growled.

“And Hellfire McWilliams.” Hellfire added. “Just out of Sloshed Antlers Mountain Penitentiary: we’ve been professional burglars for our entire lives. There is no place safe from us. We know a lousy burglar when we see one”

“That’s right.” Erroneous fired off those two syllables like bullets from a twin barrelled gun of some description – though he wasn’t sure that such a weapon actually existed. “We got past your security like phantoms in the night. So when we say you’re rubbish burglars, you’d better listen.”

“Especially,” Hellfire delivered the punch line, “since we can do something about it. How’d you like to be the first intake of The Whatever This Town is Called Academy of Burgling?”

Naturally the incompetent burglars were keen to join such an organization – though most of them thought that they could have authored a better name for it. But that didn’t matter: they were all ears.

“Well,” Erroneous said, once he knew he’d snared his audience, “we’ll brush quickly over the rudiments of burglary; then it’ll be on to the refinements – like lock picking; drain pipe shinning; glass breaking; how to help yourself to the contents of an alarmed fridge; and, of course, using a victim’s lavatory without them knowing about it, or leaving your DNA behind.”

“Sound’s great.” The previously doubtful oik who had spoken last yelled in joy. “When do we start?”

“Just as soon as you’ve signed up to the course; made a blood oath; and promise to give us – that’s Hellfire and me – twenty-five per cent of your booty.”

“Where do I sign?” The useless burglar said through a broad smile. “And whose blood?”

As a result of this huge success, Erroneous and Hellfire soon had the burglar gang  fully trained and back to work. But they knew that efficiency in burgling wasn’t enough: they had to get the local law enforcement officers ‘on side’ as it were. So after several successful burglaries that netted the couple a considerable hoard, they led the gang to the nearest Cop Shop, where they left one gang member to keep watch.

The police officers were surprised when several known villains entered their establishment.

“What’s this,” they said, “come to hand yourselves in, have you?”  

The remand prisoners in the cells were surprised too – particularly when the ‘look out’ entered as well.

“Not exactly.” Erroneous replied. “We’ve dragged ourselves all the way here so that we – that’s you and us – can come to some sort of accommodation.”

The police officers weren’t particularly well educated: the meaning of Erroneous’s words eluded them. So Hellfire handed them their recent takings.

“Does this explain better?” He said.

At this the Chief of Police replied, “Who said that?”, as he pocketed the booty and gave Hellfire a knowing wink.

And

By chance, the ‘new boss’, Mister Zinc, was taking the evening air with his biological android girlfriend, Blue.

“What’s wrong, darling Zincipoo?” Blue enquired when her delusional beau became silent, slightly moody, and reticent to elucidate his inner turmoil.

“This Father Superior stuff isn’t half as satisfying as I thought it would be.” Zinc confessed. “And it’s a bit boring too.”

Blue was about to author some banal and pathetic response, when this happened.

“Ye Gods.”  Zinc blurted uncharacteristically. “You’ve been targeted by the Angelic Targeting Laser that sits atop the Holy Sniper Rifle!”

Mister Zinc wasn’t particularly surprised when the targeting laser shifted its aim. He tried to remain philosophical.

“I think someone is dropping an enormous hint, Blue. I also think I should react accordingly.”

So when Chester, Miles, and all the others arrived, they found Mister Zinc open to persuasion.

“Yeah, of course you can stay here until morning. Stay here as long as you like.” He responded to their request for lodgings. “You can join the order, for all I care. Find your way to the kitchens, why don’t you. Just don’t expect Blue to do the cooking: We’ve got bigger concerns to worry about right now.”

He then informed the attentive earplugs of the recent incident with the Angelic Laser Light, which Zak and Bolah both knew was utterly bogus, and who whispered this information to the heroic duo. Zinc then called all the monks of the Order of the Holey Vest to listen to his words.

Of course Dilbert and Gilman were among the crowd. They’d only just arrived in time, after hiding the Holy Sniper Rifle behind a low stone wall in the cemetery. They smirked because they had a pretty good idea what was coming.

“Monk guys.” Zinc called out. “I got a call from a higher order. Ya know what I mean? It’s time I took a hike. I just aint quite figured out the direction I should go yet.”

Naturally Dilbert and Gilman couldn’t help themselves: They offered to show him. Equally naturally everyone was thrilled, especially Chester and Miles, who knew what a lousy git and a silicone turd Zinc was.

“Off you go, then.” Chester said, unable to disguise his broad smile. “I’m sure they have somewhere lovely in mind for you.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

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

Earplugs Without Pictures: Extract 2

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 fabulous tale…

Click cover image for complete e-book in PDF format

Like a soggy blanket, time hung heavily upon Hakking Chestikov’s shoulders whilst he waited alone on the fringes of the mystical mountain kingdom of Kah-Ki-Pu. But as dusk finally arrived, Hakking knew that he must do exactly as the Advice Shop computer had instructed him. That instruction was that he should stand directly beneath the huge vent pipe that protruded from the very bowels of the mountain upon which Kah-Ki-Pu stood. Once in position he must empty his mind of all thoughts bar his greatest wish. So, as deep impenetrable shadows slipped across the mountain like an approaching swarm of quiescent locusts, Hakking felt a strange sensation in the end of his nose. It quickly spread throughout his body, and he began to sparkle. Then the world seemed to spin out of control like a gigantic un-balanced ceiling fan, and he became disoriented. Although he had no mirror to hand, he felt absolutely certain that a great physical change had occurred. And he wasn’t wrong. So five minutes later he arrived back at Lilac’s – out of breath and sweating like an aging boar in a duffle coat.

“Look, Glenda,” he cried as Glenda Bootstrap emerged from the bar, “it’s me: Hakking Chestikov!”

Glenda was nothing short of amazed. “I’m nothing short of amazed.” She squealed with delight. “You’re so devilishly handsome; if you hadn’t spoken I’d never have recognised you. Not sure about the vaguely excremental hue though: that could take some getting used to. But at least you don’t smell.”

Hakking was very pleased with Glenda’s reaction. It allowed an idea to form inside his curator’s head: “I wonder,” he began nervously, “since I’m no longer the most repulsive male earplug on the planet…”

His request trailed off into silence; but Glenda knew what he wanted to say: “You’d like me to take you inside for a nice cup of tea and a round of crumpets, wouldn’t you?” She said.

Hakking nodded. “Please.” He said. “If you don’t think I’m being too bold.”

“Not at all.” Glenda assured her new-found chum. “It’ll give me the chance to use my new gingham table cloth.”

And…

“I don’t know,” Findlay said with a sigh, “it’s almost as if they don’t want to be found.”

“I think you’re right.” John-Douglas grunted as he pulled himself through a roughly hewn hatchway that led to another level. “This place is deserted.”

But as they crept around in the subdued lighting, neither prospector was aware that any number of eyes were secretly trained upon them.

As they entered a vast hall, John-Douglas said: “I vote we go back and tell the sheriff that he’s a face-ache.”

Although John-Douglas was keen to quit, Findlay wanted to continue the search. “Sheriff Brooch swears that he saw movement and heard voices.” He replied. “In any case, what would the girls think of us if we just gave up?”

John-Douglas agreed regretfully, and so only half-noticed that the great hall was carpeted. Instead he was more concerned with the opinions of their girlfriends, Lillie Whitewater and Kirsten Sponduli. “If we return empty-handed, so-to-speak,” He squeaked, “do you think they might spurn us?”

Findlay nodded. “Lunch would be off the menu, that’s for certain.”

John-Douglas took a second to digest this. “Oh, right.” He said as he stepped forward. “Let’s get at it then. Leave no stone unturned and that sort of thing.”

So they did, and after only a short while they discovered a modernised section that included pre-stressed concrete as a major construction material. Then John-Douglas thought he heard voices accompanying a rather funky rhythm. So it came as no surprise when they turned the next corner to find a disco in full flow.

Some girls called to them: “Coo-ee,” they shouted above the insistent bass line of ‘Everybody Wear a Disco Hump’, by Hambledon Bohannon, “why don’t you join us? You can dance around our handbags if you want to. Let’s get down – huh!”

But, as it happened, neither Findlay nor John-Douglas really enjoyed disco music: and prancing around a dance floor in platform shoes was an absolute anathema to them. They preferred traditional folk, barn dances, and sensible sneakers. So they made their farewells – despite the fact that the girls were in imminent danger of falling off their high heels and showing their knickers as they sprawled gracelessly across the disco floor – and departed with the news that the catacombs contained a thriving and intellectually advanced society.

© 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 Stepladder to the Stars cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

Earplugs Without Pictures: Extract 1

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 wonderous tale…

Click cover image for complete story in PDF format

Extract One

Elsewhere – that is aboard the X1 – Magnuss and Nigel decided that it was probably a good idea to practice some emergency procedures.

“There’s a hypothetical space pirate vessel approaching.” Magnuss suggested. “What do we do?”

“Open hypothetical fire?” Nigel replied.

“No weapons – remember?”

“Oh, yeah, no time to fit them. Okay…swerve.”

“Correct. Now we’re about to encounter space turbulence: our seatbelts are in the wash: What do we do?”

“Easy.” Nigel answered, “We don our see-through helmets.”

Magnuss was most pleased with his colleague’s grasp of procedures. “Very good.” He said. “But what should we do if the landing engine fails?”

“Other than poop in our pants, you mean?” Nigel responded. But before Magnuss could speak, Nigel had flicked a few switches. “Inflate the giant transparent air bag.” He answered.

Extract Two

At much the same time, the Joyfulettes were finally having their audition with Ootis Wolliums. Much to their surprise Ootis had invited the other Trumptations – those being Dunnis Idwards, Cory Valentine, and Shat and Beeki Spitoon – along to the museum’s Grand Hall. After a relatively formal greeting, Ootis had some technicians wheel out the stage upon which the three girls would perform.

 Naturally Beeki had a few words of wisdom to impart: “Don’t whine or shriek.” She told them. “And don’t sing in a higher key than Cory because he’s the group’s falsetto lead, and in his deluded mind no one on the planet can sing a higher note than Cory. Oh, and try to keep in step with each other: Ootis can’t stand elephantine dancers.”

And so their chance at the big time – a permanent act at the Museum of Future Technology – commenced. Initially all went well for Blinky, Piper, and Swetti. Piper and Swetti, in particular were admired for their ability to keep up with Blinky’s gyrations whilst delivering pitch-perfect Doo-Waps and Ooh, Baby-Baby. And any reservations Ootis might have harboured for Blinky’s vocal talents were extinguished when the act slipped down from the stage and Blinky fluttered her huge eyelashes at the ageing soul group leader. After clearing his throat several times, Ootis was finally able to deliver his opinion.

“Piper,” he addressed the smallest girl in the group, “you’re a short-arse and you don’t match so well with the taller girls – but it’s nothing some boosters in your high heels won’t fix. Blinky; you can’t sing for toffee, but we have machines in the studio to put that right. You look great, so any shortfall in the talent department can be disguised by fish net tights and a girdle. Swetti, with you I have a problem. You got a great voice – we all recognise that, girl; but you’re a little…how can I say it, Dunnis?”

Dunnis looked awkward when he answered in his rich, gravelly voice: “Homely?”

“Yeah,” Ootis continued. “Homely. Not so much the girl-next-door: but more the girl locked up in next door’s basement.”

“What he means,” the blind performer, Cory Valentine, interjected, “is that you should be seen and not heard. Well let me tell you, Ootis: I can’t see the girl, but I sure can hear her good. You know where I’m coming from, man? She’s best singer here today – and that includes Beeki – or you, for that matter, ya mealy-mouthed tonge. So if you pass on her, you can pass on me too – butt-wipe: the Trumps can perform without the best falsetto the world has ever heard.”

Cory had been one of the founding members of the Trumptations. Ootis had found, throughout their career together, that it was wise to heed the pink-ish earplug’s council.

“Yeah, alright then.” He said brightly to the girls. “You can all join us in the show tonight. Anyone who falls short gets shown the back door. Okay?”

Of course it was ‘okay’: Blinky might be no singer: Piper might be a little short: and Swetti might look like a barn door; but in show business any shortcoming could be hidden behind a half-decent backing band, ladled-on make-up, and subtle lighting. For the Joyfulettes the show was on. And they couldn’t wait!

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

If Patience is a Virtue…

….then I must be some kind of bloody saint. It has taken me (what feels like) forever to strip out sufficient megabytes from this blog – to make room for that mass of book covers (and their contents) on the sidebar, to your left. But the task is done. From this moment forward any Earplugger can access and download all forty volumes of the Earplug Adventures. In fact some already have! These…

…wondrous works of literary brilliance, boundary-pushing photographic techniques, inspired model-making, and vast artistic merit are available ABSOLUTELY FREE AND GRATIS! The early volumes are a bit, you know, ho-hum – I was, after all, finding my feet, so-to-speak – not really knowing what I was doing, so’s best avoid them, at least initially: you can always go back to them later and giggle at my inepitude. But, whatever you choose, enjoy this load of ridiculousness. I had fun creating them: you enjoy reading them.

Tooty.

Spoiled Illusions: 2 Tooty the Shootist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And finally, moving from shootist to shootee…

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

 

 

 

Shooting ‘A Tale of Three Museums’: On The Scroton Five Set

Recently we were honoured to be invited on to – what is probably the single most important – Earplug Adventures set of A Tale of Three Museums. The principal characters – those being Dr Gideon Snoot and Flaxwell Maltings – took a break from shooting to speak with our reporter, Maxime Langenscrote.

 

Maxime: “Wow, this is one heck of a set. I almost feel that I’m stepping aboard a Scroton Five. Do any of the buttons work?”

Flaxwell: “Just don’t touch the big ‘GO’ button on the helm control.”

Maxime: “Why – does it fire up the hyper-drive?”

Gideon (chuckling): “No; it dispenses ice for his gin and tonics. Oh yeah – don’t try using the toilet either: it’s not plumbed in.”

Maxime: “But it’s so life-like: I’d swear it was a real space toilet!”

Maxime: “Why is that engineer hanging upside-down on the helm control?”

Flaxwell: That’s Bernie Tankslapper: he’s our lighting rig guy. He suffers from vertigo. I think he’s re-aligning some crystals in his inner ear or something.”

Maxime: “So how long have you been shooting these interiors? This show has been in the works for some time, and I think some people were beginning to think it would never be made.”

Gideon: (looking to Flaxwell for support) “Whoo – weeks. I don’t know how many. I gave up counting after the first twelve or thirteen. Unusually we did all the exteriors first. We’ve come back here to Stage Seven to close off principal photography – before the first episode goes on-line.”

Flaxwell: “Yeah – we figured that once the show went live, we couldn’t afford any hold-ups. You know – tech problems, or me breaking a leg, or something dumb.”

Maxime: “I have to ask this question. Did you get to meet Magnuss Earplug?”

Flaxwell: (shaking head and grinning ruefully) “Sadly not. All their – their meaning Magnuss and Hair-Trigger – shots were  filmed elsewhere – mostly in The Attic Studio where they keep all the Museum of Future Technology sets and props.”

Gideon: “But we will – at the wrap party. I’m really looking forward to it. Hey, maybe Magnuss’ll let me kiss Hair-Trigger!”

Flaxwell: (to Gideon) “He might – if you wear your hat. No one can take you seriously when you’re wearing that thing. Is it still in the broom cupboard, by the way?”

Gideon: “If there really was a broom cupboard, it would be. Nah, it’s in the props department. And it’s not really mine. If they offer it to me at the wrap, I think I’ll decline. (to Flaxwell) What about your hair?”

Flaxwell (looking upwards): “I’ve arranged to have a barber waiting off-set when we shoot the final scene. If they green-light  a sequel, I’m getting a wig made. I’ll even pay for it!”

(Crew laughs. Bell rings. It’s time for the next shot. And it’s on to the reverse angle set of Stage Seven – home of the Scroton Five bridge)

Maxime: “Thank you, guys, for taking a time-out to speak with us.”

Oracle: “And next time you can interview me! What – you think I don’t have feelings too?”