Tag Archives: earplugs

The Epoch of Dung (part 7) An Earplug Adventure

It was a fabulous tale, told expertly; but Margret felt that she hadn’t crossed the temporal void to hear fabulous tales told expertly: as far as she was concerned, the Greenhorn Girls were here to save the Museum of Future Technology. In order to accomplish this task, she felt it best that her troupe collect and collate as much ‘first hand’ information that they could. To this end, she sent them off to see, with their own eyes, what the situation was in this alternative time-line. She, of course, remained with her host…

She was about to say, “it’s a bit smelly in here: let’s adjourn to the outdoors.” When, to her surprise, Ninja spoke almost the same words – except she suggested they find another location, without mentioning outside…

“I want to show how much events have affected the communal psyche.” She said. “People react differently to unexpectedly stressful situations, like being separated from almost everything they’ve ever known. Look over there.”

Margret acquiesced to Ninja’s bidding…

“I don’t understand.” The puzzled choreographer muttered. “Why is that cup of coffee sitting below that spotlight?”

“It was placed there almost a week ago.” Ninja answered. “We’re still digging all sorts of ‘tech’ out of the mud: most of it is smashed beyond repair or use; but sometimes we find items that still function. On that particular day, the earplug who found the working spotlight had a cup of coffee handed to him when a colleague discovered a functioning Café Puke dispensing machine. In a moment of quasi-religious euphoria, the earplug placed his coffee upon the floor here, and lit it with the spotlight. It’s like I said, that was almost a week ago. The coffee is yet to spoil: and it’s still warm too. It defies the laws of physics.”

Margret pondered this for a moment. Eventually she responded with the words: “No corruption, huh? The effect of temporal dislocation, do you think: or divine intervention?”

“Beats the heck outta me, Miss Greenhorn.” Ninja replied. “I wonder how your girls are doing on their reconnoitring.”

Chapter 3

Well, actually, the girls were not doing very well at all upon their mission. They absolutely hated the hurriedly constructed mud caves…

“Horrible,” Belle complained bitterly. “And I’ve lost my false eyelashes too.”

A floor below the dancing girls, two female earplugs stood in the doorway of their mud cave. “Well,” one of them said to the other, “if that’s all she has to worry about – good for her. But wait until her bra strap chafes her shoulders beyond endurance, and she can’t find any soothing balm, coz there isn’t any: then she can start complaining.”

“Nice carpet,” the other replied. “Dried moss – or lichens?”

On a higher level, a recently married couple were just moving into their cave…

“Oh, by the Saint of All Earplugs,” the husband bellowed as he overheard the earplugs below, “they have carpets. Why haven’t we got carpets?”

“Who needs carpets,” his wife whispered for fear of antagonising the neighbours, “when we have a charming safety rail made from re-purposed bean sticks?”

Higher still, Wendy Rucksack and Poki Kitchener overheard the marital exchange…

“Honestly,” Wendy said to Poki, “somethings never change – even when the world seems to have ended. Keeping up with the Joneses never dies.”

However, any such thoughts of one-upmanship between neighbours evaporated for Wendy, when Horst and Greta Stenchlinger found her nervously eyeing a narrow structure that bridged a gap between floors…

“Oh, flipping heck, Mrs Stenchlinger – you cannot be serious!”

“If one is wanting to use the toilet, young female,” Horst said from behind her, “one is not having very much choice: over there the toilet is being.”

Yet higher still, the former female weightlifters, Mandy and Candy watched Wendy’s first tentative steps upon the ‘bridge’…

“For a dancing girl,” Mandy said from behind a roughly hewn sheet of welded steel mesh, “she sure is showing some pluck.”

“Dancing girls are known for showing things.” Candy replied. “Pluck isn’t usually one of them. An ocean of thigh, yes; but pluck? Less so.”

Mandy might have said something in response, but their upstairs neighbour in the penthouse hovel called down to them…

“Hey, ladies,” he shouted, “I like your clock. If it’s a classic wind-up version, would you care to swap it for a TV with no remote control and a plug-less power cord?”

The subject of their classic timepiece gave the weightlifters a warm glow of self-satisfaction and well-being: it being the only object they owned that had survived the destruction of their apartment.

“No, it’s alright.” Candy called back. “It doesn’t have a key anyway.”

“Naughty,” whispered Mandy, “telling fibs. I know you keep it on a length of string down the back of your knickers.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

What is Getting My Earplugs So Excited?

With the Earplug Adventure: Triple Threat now just a distant memory, something is causing the silicon populace of my attic to become even more animated than normal…

The clue to it’s identity comes from those coloured objects that appear to have the nearest earplugs in their thrall. Yes, it’s time to prepare for another adventure…

…which means sprucing up the make-up, and smoothing out the age-lines. Golly, the Supreme Being has his work cut out for him…

…Some of these earplugs are eight years old! But, be assured, they’ll be fighting fit and looking their best when the camera next rolls. All that’s needed is a script. Thinking cap on. Getting those little grey cells agitated is the key. What could the scenario be for the next tale? Surely the possibilities are endless. Any suggestions?

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 39)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The station’s robots were doing no better…

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile Bunty began giving Ginger and Daisy exact instructions…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This gave Daisy pause for thought:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 37)

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

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

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

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

Moments later…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A split second later…

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

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

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

Meanwhile, aboard the uninhabited Tankerville Norris

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

…it was uninhabited no longer…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 36)

Daisy’s excitement was contagious. Within seconds, Bunty and Ginger had crowded around the control panel beside her. Tong-Tong quickly joined them…

“Whoo,” they all sighed. “The Tankerville Thingamabob.”

The Commander of the Prolate Spheroid ship was less easily impressed. In fact, he was really cheesed off…

“Our plan – like most plans – lies in ruins.” He grumbled. “And all because of a bunch of stupid meddling earplugs. Target that vessel and open fire.”

Fortunately, for all concerned, his First Officer counselled caution:

“Is that entirely wise, Sir?” He whispered so that the crewmembers within earshot could not hear him clearly, “After all, that little ship did neutralise an attack without firing a shot. If we tread carefully, perhaps it is still possible to avert the civil war you most fear.”   

The Commander wasn’t entirely convinced. “I’m not the sort to sit back and watch as events develop.” He mumbled. “I’m a pro-active kind of guy. But I suppose I could give it a try. Maybe for five minutes.”

“Indeed, Sir,” a rather self-satisfied First Officer replied. “Perhaps we could listen to their com-chatter.”

This was fortuitous timing for the Prolate Spheroid Incense Cones, because Tong-Tong had just initiated a link with the Tankerville Norris

“Hello,” it said, “my designation is Tong-Tong. I am speaking on behalf of Bunty Bridgewater, Daisy Woodnut, and Ginger Slack – late of Planet Earth. They would speak for themselves, but they are feeling slightly overawed by your heroic presence, and do not want to giggle like schoolgirls at a pop concert every time you look at them. Have you come to rescue them?”

Naturally, Magnuss replied in the affirmative, so Tong-Tong chanced a request of its own:

“Might it be possible that I accompany them? We have grown rather close, and I am experiencing feelings of protectiveness towards them. I have heard that the Café Puke is always looking for cheap waiters. Hmmm?”

Well neither Magnuss nor Hair-Trigger could think of a reasonable excuse to refuse Tong-Tong’s request, and several seconds after Magnuss’ reply of, “Yeah, sure – why not?” this happened… 

…which surprised all four entities aboard the freighter.

They remained surprised (to within microns of mental / cyber chemical imbalance) until Magnuss said, “Hello Ginger, Daisy, and Bunty: nice to meet you.”

Whilst Hair-Trigger added, “And your charming robot too.”

Well such a disarming approach couldn’t help but succeed thoroughly. Tong-Tong’s eyes un-crossed and the three girls smiled broadly. They then introduced Tong-Tong by name.

So whilst the Tankerville Norris remained in orbit, and kept watchful sensors upon its charges below…

…Magnuss expounded upon his tentative ideas for future actions against their Incense Cone foes…

He concluded with, “And then we’ll kick them right up the arse and send them back to where they belong. But firstly, I’d like to familiarise myself with this ship. I’ve not seen one of these before: what is it called?”

Tong-Tong and the girls looked at each other. “Robotic Submarine Space Freighter Zero-Zero Seven.” Tong-Tong replied, though it suspected that a numerical nomenclature wasn’t quite what the great earplug was requesting.

Bunty was desperate to please the Hero of Earplugdom. “What was the name of your Dad’s sail boat?” She demanded of Ginger.

Ginger was surprised at the question; but she answered readily enough:

“The Drunkard’s Vomit?” She replied questioningly. “Is that really a suitable name for a space freighter?”

“It’s better than that mouthful that came out of Tong-Tong.” Bunty opined bluntly.

“The Drunkard’s Vomit.” Daisy finally answered Magnuss’ question.

“Good choice,” Magnuss said as he nodded approvingly. “Now my wife and I will take a little stroll around – you know just so we know which end is the pointy end, and which end makes all the noise.”

And that is what they did…

…though neither of them were quite sure about the décor.

“It would be fine in a disco,” Hair-Trigger complained as she sought visual solace by peering out of a porthole at the surrounding topography…

…“but right now it’s giving me a migraine.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 35)

Magnuss and Hair-Trigger were in the Gravitonic Multiplicitor room at the time…

By either coincidence or fate, Cushions chose that moment to contact them:

“Don’t proceed a metre closer to the space station.” She hurriedly squealed. “The Prolate Spheroids forbid it. I’ve just received an important communique from their new ambassador – Lord Gusty Chorizo: apparently, something very important is taking place, and you’re not to interfere. He was a bit vague about what was going on. In fact, he didn’t say anything that actually meant anything. I think they’re stonewalling me. Obfuscating too.”

“Did he say anything about our missing girls?” Hair-Trigger inquired.

“Two words.” Cushions replied. “Collateral damage.”

For a moment, Magnuss couldn’t get his head around what Cushions was telling him. When he finally put it all together, he said:

“Hey, that’s not right, Cushions. The RJL have been abducting robots, three museum citizens are missing, and earplugkind is under threat. This is not the time to sit around on our bottoms and watch events unfold. It could be the last thing we ever watch.”

“That’s right.” Hair-Trigger backed her husband to the hilt. “We’ve got the entire final season of Destination: The Stars on DVD box set: I am not going to watch civilisation fall before I’ve watched every single episode first – twice. I say that the ambassador can shove his communique right up his hooter: the Tankerville Norris steps aside or backs off for no one!”    

“Are you sure?” Cushions replied doubtfully. “They have dispatched a huge ship to rendezvous with you: perhaps you should wait a while for that to arrive.”

“What – and find ourselves abducted like all those poor unfortunate robots?” Magnuss bellowed in reply. “No chance. I don’t trust anyone I haven’t met and personally vetted. We’re going to see what’s going on – for ourselves!”

Of course, Magnuss had no idea that the Prolate Spheroid ship had departed its point of origin long before Cushions had made contact with their civilisation. Therefore, he also had no way of knowing that it was considerably closer to his location than he imagined…

In fact the first that either Magnuss or Hair-Trigger knew of its proximity, was when its commanding officer hailed them…

“Earth ship,” the being spoke precisely and (Magnuss thought) intimidatingly, “heave to and prepare to be boarded.”

Neither Magnuss nor Hair-Trigger was required to check their rear view mirror: the Tankerville Norris had already informed them that the biggest ship that it had ever encountered was attempting to climb up their tail pipe. Nevertheless, they did look at their forward screen with a sense of foreboding when the Prolate Spheroid Commander tried to push his image through three dimensions and enter the bridge…

“This is a Incense Cone affair,” the image spat the words, and Magnuss almost felt compelled to wipe illusory spittle from his face, “you will take no further part in it.”

Hair-Trigger was quick to respond:

“You tell us what’s going on between you and those conical Incense Cones on the station, and we’ll think about it.”

“That is a state secret.” The Prolate Spheroid replied instantly. “Strictly need-to-know. So bugger off, or you’ll get your arses kicked.”

This riled Magnuss more than a little. “And our three citizens?” He snapped. “What is to become of them?”

The Prolate Spheroid didn’t answer immediately. He took a moment to consult with someone off-screen. When he returned he gave the earplugs some information that, had he considered it longer, he should not have:

“Reports place their vessel on a planetoid close to the space station.” He said. “It is currently hidden from our sensors. Its presence – or rather the presence of the earplugs aboard it – have precipitated an action for which we were not yet ready and are ill prepared. Had they not made contact with you, we would have been content to sit and watch as the Conicals and the Robotic Justice League perpetrated their action against you. But, alas now we must act. Congratulations, whatever your name is: your stupid youngsters have initiated a civil war!”

These last two words jolted Magnuss more than a million others could have. He reacted more by instinct than intellect…

As the Tankerville Norris accelerated away from the Prolate Spheroid craft at a phenomenal speed, Magnuss took a moment to explain to his spouse…

“All the time we were speaking, the ship was scanning theirs. It’s big and slow. It must have been here all along – just a short distance off. Maybe it was cloaked, I don’t know. Like old face-ache said, they’ve been watching the situation for a while. Moreover, they seemed perfectly happy to see the Conicals bring down earplugkind. I’m guessing they planned to step in after it was all over and take control. But, whichever way you paint it – neither Incense Cone group could honestly be termed ‘the good guys’.”

“And there’re the three girls.” Hair-Trigger added. “They’re not supposed to be here. They’re supposed to be at home at college in the Museum of Future Technology, which is crying out for hair stylists. They could be hair stylists. Perhaps really good ones, with lots of flair and a pleasant demeanour. Magnuss, we have to save them!”

Because of the Tankerville Norris’s huge speed advantage, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger arrived at the planetoid waaaaay before the pilots of the gargantuan freighter could begin to click it down a gear and wind on the throttle…

“There’s a freighter over there.” Magnuss informed Hair-Trigger. “I wonder what it’s doing?”

Hair-Trigger didn’t get a chance to reply; instead the Tankerville Norris spoke silently into both earplug brains:

“It is on a Search and Destroy mission.” It said. “I have tapped into its central command computer. It is unmanned. It is also on a direct course for the planetoid.”

“Not good,” Magnuss grunted. “That means it won’t listen to reason and intends to kick ass. Pointless trying to argue with a computer: guess we’ll have to hit it with a proton torpedo.”

“We could try switching it off and on again.” The slightly less belligerent earplug aboard suggested. “It might re-set the command sequencer. We could then suggest that it shut down and await an update.”

“That’s brilliant, Hairy.” Magnuss gushed. “Now I know why I married you. We don’t have to destroy anything. Can you do it, Ship?”

“Already on it.” The Tankerville Norris replied audibly. “Search and Destroy mission aborted. Enemy vessel powering down. Honestly, these robotic freighters are so gullible: I cannot believe that was so easy.”

Fireworks may have been thin on the ground, but that didn’t stop Daisy spotting the approaching former honeymoon barge…

“It’s the Tankerville Thingamabob.” She squealed with excitement. “Gregor must have got our e-mail. He’s sent Magnuss Earplug to save us!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 34)

The ship wasn’t lying or exaggerating either…

“Apparently,” Magnuss said – because he too was receiving telepathic information from the ship, “it’s a quicker way to get where we need to be. Faster than a hyperspace conduit.  And less busy too.”

“Also a lot more scary.” Hair-Tigger complained.

However, shortly after having gained the inner sanctum of the space rift…

…she revised her initial impression:

“Pretty.” She said. “Though it wouldn’t do to look at it for too long.”

Of course, all the while, Cushions had been slaving away upon the Omnipresent Scanner…

“I’ve made diplomatic contact with the Prolate Spheroids.” She informed Cheerful Charlie Chopsticks and a recent inductee to the curator elite, Eric the Armpit. “They are gonna get back to me on the subject. I get the distinct impression though that they know more than they’re letting on.”

Meanwhile, upon the upper section of the Robotic Justice League’s space station…

…a heavily armed, but horrendously dated freighter was lifting off. Its mission to seek and destroy the absent space submarine freighter…

During those moments of lift-off, the self-same space submarine freighter had discovered an opening in the planetoid’s rocky carapace. Daisy immediately instructed the vessel to dive into it…

Within moments, the bulky craft had found a refuge…

“No one will think of looking down here.” Ginger predicted confidently…

“Yeah,” Bunty agreed, “we could stay down here for a million years – and no one would ever know!”

“I fancy a cheesy biscuit.” Daisy informed them both. “Which way to the Passenger Galley?”

It was just about this time, but an awfully long way away, when the Tankerville Norris chose to exit the space rift…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 30)

Safely inside their own craft, and unseen by any robots or Incense Cones…

…they cheerfully raced to the control room, where Tong-Tong contacted the pair of former crew robots that operated the communications suite…

“Collect your captain and crew.” It instructed the listening robots. “Bring yourselves to the ship, which is docked at Portal Fifty-Two. If intercepted attempt subterfuge. You have the permission of the three earplugs behind me to cheat and lie your way here. Do not tell any Incense Cone or robot of your intended destination. If cyber-tortured, you must explode in an exultation of pyrotechnic gore. Is that understood?”

“Affirmative.” Both robots replied in unison.

Tong-Tong then relinquished the control panel to the three aforementioned earplugs…

…who sought a nearby heavenly body behind which to hide the freighter.

“Got one.” Daisy cried out in delight. “Far enough away so we won’t be spotted; but close enough to keep tabs on what’s going on at the station.”

Ginger was just plotting a course for the planetoid, when the doorbell chimed.

“You take over, Tong-Tong,” she said, “We’ve got guests to welcome.”

Thirty seconds later…

…a breathless, but smiling trio welcomed the original crew aboard.

“Sorry, Captain,” Ginger said to the solitary mauve robot, “but until this action is complete we will continue to command this vessel. How do you feel about that? We wouldn’t want to step on your metaphorical toes and all that.”

“I am not fully cognizant with all the facts pertaining to the current situation.” The captain replied. “You have freed us. For that, we are cyber-thankful. You may continue to act at your discretion. I do not require that you relinquish command. Carry on.”

It then led the crew in three rousing cheers for Ginger, Bunty, and Daisy.

Several minutes were to pass whilst the robots settled themselves into their regular schedules whilst aboard ship. Then, having received a ‘green light’ from every section of the vessel, Ginger backed the freighter away from the docking portal and set out towards open space…

“This is strange,” Ginger said as the distant stars shone starkly through their viewing panel…

…”but only a short while ago we were just three bored, rather silly young females, who were too stupid to realise that our lives were going nowhere, and were wasting our time doing…ur…stuff that did no one any good – least of all ourselves.”

“And now look at you.” Tong-Tong responded unexpectedly. “Combatting a secret robot organization and attempting to thwart invasion by an alien species.  Ya done good, girls.”

Aboard the space station, all hell was unleashed. Well maybe not hell exactly: but the station went to ultra-crimson alert anyway – better known as Massive Alert…

“By the Cyber-Saint of All Robots,” the large white robot exclaimed mono-tonally, “fire upon that vessel. Quickly now: no arsing about!”

But it was too late. Far too late. Already the fleeing freighter had dived behind a drifting asteroid – en route to the distant planetoid, and sanctuary…

© 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.”

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 29)

Meanwhile, at Docking Portal 50 where the Incense Cones had parked their submarine space freighter…

…the purple Incense Cones was having difficulty remembering the combination for the lock. However, having tried his three favourite combinations, success followed (when an underling suggested 1234), and within moments, the entire crew were disgorging into the corridor…

“Do you think this is such a good idea?” The underling said to the purple Incense Cone…

“What do you mean?” The purple Incense Cone responded with a worried look upon his almost featureless face.

“Leaving the ship unguarded.” The underling replied. “Anyone could get in and steal our sandwiches.”

The purple Incense Cone scoffed at this. “With this combination lock? Impossible. Even I couldn’t remember it. Alay your fears, soldier: our ship is perfectly safe with no one aboard.”

Although nervous initially, the three girl’s adolescent sense of humour soon took control and they were able to emerge from the hoarding into an empty corridor with smiles upon their youthful faces…

“Hey,” Bunty whispered, “this is fun.”

Whilst they had been rushing from the com-panel, Ginger and Tong-Tong had been able to conjure up a tentative plan to combat the Incense Cones. Whilst behind the hoarding Ginger related its simplicity to Bunty and Daisy. Because of this passing of information, Daisy was entirely cognizant with the plan. She was also the type of earplug who would regularly use the number 1234 as an easy-to-remember password on her laptop…

Therefore, the combination lock of Docking Portal 50 was overcome at the first attempt. Also, since all robotic freighters use the same design (though not always the same décor), Daisy was able to lead the others straight to the control room…

 

…where, to their combined hearts content they changed passwords and control protocols. A short while after arriving, they were on their way again…

….confident in the knowledge that the ship was going nowhere in a hurry. Then it was on to the crystal room…

…where Tong-Tong awaited them.  As the girls set to the task of utilising their recently acquired telekinetic talents to deactivate the ship’s power crystals, Bunty took the time to inquire after their robotic chum:

“So how’d you manage to evade capture, Tongy baby?” She managed to emit through lips pressed tight with concentration.

“The simple of expedient of not being an earplug.” Tong-Tong replied. ”In a space station of robots, I am just another of their kind. The search parties did not give me a second glance. If truth be known, the vile creatures did not give me a first glance either. I feel cybernetically slighted.”

Bunty would have responded to this final and unexpected statement, but she had turned her deactivating talents to another crystal.

A short while later, as the crystal’s sparkle subsided and main power to the freighter ceased to flow Tong-Tong led the girls from the ship…

…and moved along two portals to Docking Portal 52…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

I Know it’s Hard to Believe, But…

…apparently some people think that the Earplugs don’t really exist. When he heard, poor Tooty was appalled. So he allowed this ‘on-set’ photo off-set, so to speak.  Here he discusses continuity with the Continuity girl, Mavis Lunn…

Tooty: “So it’s Ginger with the cell phone? Shoot, I thought it was Bunty.”

Mavis: “No, Mister Nolan; it’s Bunty who habitually looks up at the ceiling: Ginger has the cell phone. I have it all down here on my clip board.”

Ginger: “Yeah  – dumb ass. Goddamned thing weighs a ton. No one never heard of polystyrene?”

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 26)

Meanwhile, aboard the approaching freighter…

…the girl’s new understanding of the ship’s functions and systems had allowed them to make contact with the communications suite in the Robotic Justice League’s headquarters. As the picture cleared of background radiation interference, two blue robots – much like those that had escorted the crew from the freighter – stood before their com-panel. Behind them, Daisy recognised two green robots as being former crewmembers. They appeared to be inspecting a form of energy conduit. As the blue robot’s ocular implants made visual contact with the eyes of a certain pink earplug, Daisy called upon the latent talent that she had inherited from her mother…

“Oooh,” she moaned, “you will see only what I wish you to see. Do you understand?”

In the Communications Suite, the two robots saw this upon their screen…

“Affirmative.” They replied.

“Fab.” Daisy said cheerfully. “Now I want to speak with those green robots behind you.”

“What?” the more thick set of the two blue robots replied. “You mean those two new recruits visually examining the energy transfer conduit?”

“Those are the guys.” Daisy, masquerading as the large white robot replied. “Now you two sod off and do some exercises with whatever other blue robots you can find on the way.”

This instruction might have confused a less linear being; but robots being robots, they accepted the instruction. “Affirmative.” They droned…

Nevertheless that didn’t stop them looking at each other for confirmation.

Daisy, meanwhile, had turned to her friends…

“Look,” she squealed with girlish delight. “It actually works.”

Then, returning her attention to the screen…

…she addressed the blue robots, both of which appeared to be loitering in a state of vague concern:

“Well?” She snapped. “Did I, or did I not, give you a precise instruction? Sod off and do some exercises: they’re good for you. Now scat.”

Programmed for subservience to the chain of command, the robots complied instantaneously…

To the green robots Daisy whispered, “This is not the large white robot speaking to you – even if it appears that it is. Now listen carefully as your ship’s waiter gives you some instructions concerning an attempt to free you from the clutches of the Robotic Justice League and return you to your previous positions aboard your regular ship.”

Five minutes later flashing lights on the exterior of the space station flickered to indicate that two docking portals were ready to accept the freighter…

Inside the aforementioned freighter, Bunty joined Daisy and Tong-Tong as they watched the automated approach of their vessel…

Ginger, however, was slightly distrustful of anything automated – which included her mother’s pop-up toaster – so turned her back on the screen. She was, after all, a firm believer in the maxim: ‘if you can’t see it, it can’t hurt you’. It hadn’t proved accurate when, in an inebriated state, her father had taken his sail boat – the Drunkard’s Vomit – into a busy shipping lane, and had been mown down by an ocean liner: but that hadn’t proven sufficient to weaken her belief. It had always been – and would probably always be – an unwritten fact that if her Mum said something was so – it was so – period!  Because of this misguided belief, Ginger missed the spectacle of their bulbous vessel’s approach towards the space station…

However, as the prow of the freighter lined up with the docking portal, she couldn’t resist her sense of curiosity…

…and so joined the others.

“I know I’ve been in the education device, and I know how stuff aboard works: but we’re not going to veer off suddenly or do anything stupid, are we?” She asked trepidatiously.  She then added by way of explanation for her question, “I mean, no one’s actually got their hands on a physical wheel, have they!”

However, by the time she’d managed to drag the words from her brain and out of her mouth, the ship had docked without so much as a gentle thump, a muted alarm, or the screech of tearing metal…

“Dock Fifty-Two,” Daisy said as the background hum of the ship’s systems slowly subsided, “my favourite.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 24)

Shortly, with all the crystals performing their task admirably, the quartet returned to the control room…

…and scanned nearby space for the abductor’s ion trail.

“I think they left via our starboard side.” Bunty suggested. “Then they flew over us and went off in the opposite direction.”

So Ginger scanned space on their vessel’s port side, and within moments of the electronic bloodhound’s cyber-sniff…

…they had what they wanted.

“Right then,” Ginger spoke confidently, “push the Go button, Daisy.”

Well, even to a dingbat such as Daisy, the task of igniting the engines was an easy affair…

Shortly afterwards the ship was blasting along at a fair old lick…

Tong-Tong, despite being a mere waiter, was of the opinion that the Robotic Justice League would choose a location for their base of operations near interplanetary shipping lanes.

“It is what I would do, if I wasn’t a waiter.” It concluded. “By the way – does anyone fancy a crappachino?”

Not for the first time, robotic logic was proven infallible. Within moments of Daisy asking after some hazelnut syrup for her crappachino, the ship’s sensors detected a large artificial object ahead of them…

Daisy, Ginger, and Bunty all squished their eyelids together for a better view…

And there it was – against the backdrop of eternity – a vast space station of unknown origin.

“Magnify.” Ginger instructed the control panel.

Immediately, the device complied…

“Oh lummy,” Bunty wailed aboard the fast-approaching freighter…

…”there’s loads and loads of space ships. We’re horribly outnumbered!”

“I know how to make the ship go,” a worried Ginger said, “but I aint got a clue what to do now it’s got us here.”

Bunty wasn’t any help either: and all Tong-Tong could do was swivel its eyes this way and that. Daisy, though, was paying close attention to the tableau upon the screen…

“Look”, she said, “freighters are coming and going all the time. We’re a freighter: what makes us so different?”

Ginger and Bunty joined her…

“What – you mean to go aboard that…that…thing?” Bunty said incredulously.

“They’ve taken our crew there.” Daisy argued. “We should free them from their…ur…their cyber-freedom. It’s not what they were designed for; and it’s not what they want. They like being robots. In any case – what did we follow them here for, if we don’t wanna save them from that ghastly bunch of looney robots?”

These were words spoken eloquently. Well sort of. Ginger made a snap decision. “I can’t concentrate here – not with all these distractions. Let’s get back to our hidey-hole, and lay some cunning plans.”

Therefore, they did…

Bunty began proceedings. “You’re both mad.” She said. “We’re living beings. Silicon life forms. They’re bound to have monitoring devices on that station. CCTV at the very least. One look at us waltzing through the airlock will have alarms going off from here to Alpha Centauri!”

It was a good point well made. Then Ginger displayed an uncanny talent for stress-induced genius. “Hey,” she blurted into the resulting silence, “remember how we used to get out of hockey practise on cold December mornings at school?”

It had been almost three years since either girl had needed to suffer the agonies of hockey practice on cold December mornings at school: but the memory was forever burned into their collective psyche. It was something that they would never forget – unless they had their minds wiped, of course; which was possible in the Museum of Future Technology, though unlikely.

“Yeah?” Daisy and Bunty replied tentatively.

Bunty alone continued:

“We used to pretend we were ill.” She said. “We would mentally drain the blood from our faces so that we had a ghastly pallor.”

Daisy took up the exposition:

“The teachers would think we were about to throw up, and quickly sent us to the common room for a cup of tea and a biscuit.”

“But could it work again?” Bunty dared ask. “Could looking like the undead really get us past their security?”

Ginger shrugged her shoulders. “It’s worth a try, don’t you think?”

The pink and blue earplugs retained some uncertainty, and it showed. Ginger pressed on:

“Look,” she said, “we can fly this ship back to Earth: but what’s going to happen to us when we get back to the Museum of Future Technology? We destroyed a whole exhibit: I don’t care what Gregor Arsentickler or Major Flaccid say – Cushions Smethwyke is going to want us hung from the highest tree in the arboretum.”

Bunty caught her drift:

“Cushions Smethwyke loves heroes. Heroes can get away with pretty much anything in the Museum of Future Technology. If we uncover the RJL and free the abducted crew…well they’ll forget all our transgressions. We might even get interviewed by Rupert Piles and become almost famous on TV!”

This last point convinced Daisy:

“Almost famous.” She gushed. “I’ve always wanted to be almost famous. And since I can’t sing and dance, and I’m not particularly pretty, this is probably the only way it’s ever gonna happen. I say, let’s go for it!”

©  Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 20)

It was the traversing of this extra-dimensional medium that cut days from the journey time of earlier vessels from Ice World to the freighter’s destination…

Returning to normal space, the craft skirted a well-charted asteroid; then proceeded in the direction of a watery blue planet. The planet, as anyone who had been aboard the K T Woo on its maiden voyage would recognise in an instant, was Wetworld. A planet almost entirely covered in water. Of course, it was to one of the few islands that dared poke their heads above the ocean swell that the freighter flew. Ginger, Daisy and Bunty were at a view screen to watch the vessel breach the surface there…

To their surprise, there was barely a bump in the ride as it passed from a gaseous medium, into a liquid medium.

“Good shocks, I guess.” Ginger said appreciatively.

She then noted a change in the ambient and ever-present noises aboard ship.

“Do I detect the sound of cavitation?” She asked no one in particular.

“Could be.” Daisy replied. “Especially if I knew what it meant.”

“It’s the noise propellers make under water, I think.” Bunty explained. “And, oh but listen: the sound is dying away.”

“The motors have settled into their new medium, I guess.” Ginger said as she dismissed the matter with a careless wave of her hand.

This proved to be the case. Consequently, a smooth passage was quickly made through the submarine canyons beneath the islands they supported…

Thereafter the freighter made good time across a region of ‘Great Lumpiness’…

…above which it sailed serenely – pausing only to wave at a local submarine going about its business in the opposite direction. Of course, the robotic crew were following a well-worn route to their ultimate destination on Wetworld. Therefore, only a short while passed before the freighter entered a submarine dock…

The act of unloading the ice cubes was a long and boring affair. Far too long and boring to relate here. Whilst it occurred, the three stowaways slept: they wanted to be fully awake for their return to space. And, indeed, this was their state of consciousness as the freighter climbed from the seabed amongst myriad bubbles created by submarine volcanic vents…

…and returned to the vacuum of space…

  “Whee,” they all cried out in sheer delight, “now we can go home.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Behind the Scenes of Triple Threat

Whilst lighting engineers, Locust Trollop, Bloater McCallister, and Gerard Anus light Stage Five, the four central characters of Triple Threat – Bunty Bridgewater, Daisy Woodnut, Tong-Tong actor Pants Dimly, and Ginger Slack visit the Tankerville Norris Bridge set…

“It’s so big.” Bunty squealed with delight as the set was revealed to her for the first time. “I really like big ones. I think, secretly, everyone does.”

Daisy was more surprised by Stage Five’s actual existence: “There was I – thinking it was all green screen work these days. It’ll be so much easier to act on a proper set. It’ll bring out the thespian in me.”

Ginger was more pragmatic: “I noticed a toilet as we came in. That’s good. Every set should have a toilet. Preferably a Ladies  and a Gents.”

“Talking of toilets – and I don’t care which – unisex is fine,” Pants Dimly was heard to groan from inside the robot suit, “I’m really dieing for a poop: can someone unlatch my escape  hatch for me? I’ve dropped the key, and it’s dark in here!”

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 11)

As if in answer to Valentine’s question, the formerly blank screen erupted into photonic life…

“Good choice.” Said Rudi.

Meanwhile, in another part of the museum, Ginger was getting her bearings…

“Ooh,” she said, “just look out of the fancy window. We’re ever so high up. This must be the Red Tower.”

In an instant, she was joined by Daisy and Bunty. “The Red Tower?” They squealed in perfect unison.

Bunty then added, “But this is the highest building in the whole museum. The public aren’t allowed here. All sorts of things happen here. It’s top secret or something.”

She would have said more, but as the moonlight broke through one of the high windows, all three girls became aware of a great hulking shape in the shadows…

“Wha, wha, wha?” Daisy stuttered.

Ginger required clarification: “What is it?” She suggested.

“Yes,” Daisy replied as she reassembled her taut nerves into a shape that allowed her to speak, “what is it?”

“It’s a great hulking shape.” Bunty answered helpfully. “But the shadows are hiding it too well for me to make a positive identification. But it’s not breathing, so it can’t be alive.”

“It could be holding its breath.” Ginger argued.

“If it’s not alive,” Daisy said nervously, “it must be dead. Oh, by the Saint of All Earplugs – we’ve found a dead body. And if anyone finds us here, they’ll think we did it!”

Suddenly, it seemed, their situation was of the grimmest kind imaginable to three college girls. “Ooh-ur.” Ginger said intelligently.

But before she could elucidate further, a number of feeble lights lit up the scene…

A relieved Ginger swung around to address her friends: “Look, Daisy: it’s one of them big black flying things you like so much.”

Daisy couldn’t believe her eyes. “A space submarine freighter.” She said breathlessly. “And it’s here – right in front of me. If I want, I can walk up and touch it…with my bare fingers!”

But she didn’t, of course: she was too afraid of fainting from the thrill of it. So she sent Ginger and Bunty to take a closer look – to see if it really was the ‘real thing’, and not a mock-up or movie prop. However, as she received confirmation of the vessel’s authenticity, Daisy thought she heard an elevator arrive in a nearby corridor…

“Someone’s coming,” she hissed. “Quickly; hide!”

They didn’t waste a nanosecond: all three ran straight to the only door available to them…

“But this door is set into the side of the space submarine.” Ginger stated the obvious. “If we go inside there, we’ll be…we’ll be inside the space submarine!”

Daisy might have replied, “Yeah: good, innit?” But within moments of the elevator’s arrival, a number of earplugs and a group of former prisoner-of-war hyperspace pirate end cap engineers entered (what was clearly) the high-rise hangar…

“I told him,” one of the earplugs was saying to another, “it’s all well and good having this repair facility on the seventieth floor: but what if the elevator breaks down? We’ll spend half the day climbing up here, and the second half climbing back down. Nothing will get done.”

“Is ‘climbing’ the correct term to describe a means of descending.” The listener in the group replied. “Is it possible to actually climb down?”

“Mountain climbers do it all the time.” A third earplug interjected.

“Yeah,” a fourth chimed in, “anything else would be called ‘falling’. I wouldn’t want to fall down seventy floors, I can tell you!”

This was a fortuitous conversation because it gave the girls time to collect their wits and act positively…

“We’ll duck inside this maintenance hatch,” Bunty instructed the others.” Then, when all these techie-types have gone away, we can come back out again.”

“Yeah,” Daisy agreed, “and then we’ll slip away and go back to college like nothing ever happened at all. In a week this will have all blown over and been forgotten. You mark my words.”  

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 10)

Chapter 3

Meanwhile, in the habitation area of the Museum of Future Technology, Rudi Earplug and three of his brothers – those being Valentine and the twins, Miles and Chester, were approaching the apartment of Magnuss and Hair-Trigger Earplug…

“Remind me again, will ya, bro,” Valentine said to the eldest brother, “what are we here for? It aint a taco-eating contest, is it? Sure dig those tacos. Hotter the better. Hotter ‘n’ hell!”

“No, man,” Rudi replied, “sho’nuf aint no tacos tonight. We’re gonna see the newlywed’s honeymoon snaps.”

“Could be cool,” Chester said as he pressed the doorbell button…

…“maybe we’ll see pictures of Hair-Trigger on the beach.”

“Oh, Chester,” Miles chided him, “you mustn’t think of your new sister-in-law in such lewd terms. Remember: less visceral: more cerebral.”

However, when Hair-Trigger answered the door…

…even Miles found it difficult to suppress a “phwoar!”

“Hello, boys.” She said in welcome, “Step right in to our humble abode.”

Once inside, and with the front door closed behind them…

…she said, “Sorry we couldn’t attend your pool party this afternoon, but Security has deemed us both a biological threat source. Apparently, we’ve visited places on our honeymoon that are on the naughty list. I’m afraid you’ll all have to be decontaminated. We’ve got it set up just outside the TV room.”

They arrived at the door just as Magnuss was exiting it…

“Hi, guys.” He said. “I thought it best we all decontaminate together. Are you ready?”

“Do we keep our clothes on?” Chester inquired as he smiled appreciatively at Hair-Trigger.

“Yes, of course.” The disappointing reply came from Hair-Trigger, who knew full well what was going on in Chester’s head. “This is high-tech decontamination: you won’t even know it’s happening.”

Then this happened…

“Oh yeah,” Chester said as a searing light tried to burn its way into his brain via his retinas. “When does it begin?”

Naturally, Hair-Trigger failed to reply. Chester was being facetious after all. Instead, she and her new husband led the brothers into the Infotainment Room, where six chairs had been placed before a screen and futuristic image projector…

Miles couldn’t wait to try one on for size. “They look nice and comfy.” He said.

But he was less impressed by the emergency toilet in the corner of the room…

“Oh don’t be so old-fashioned and prudish, Miles,” Magnuss complained. “Open-plan living is all the rage, you know. But if you don’t like it, there’s another one at the end of the hall. It even has a door with a lock on it.”

Placated by this news, Miles then joined the others upon their chairs. He watched as a bright tell-tale light flashed upon the futuristic image projector. Clearly, the show was about to begin…

“Hey, Magnuss, bro,” Valentine asked from the opposite end of the line…

…”fancy views ya got from your apartment window. A real groove. So whatta ya call this holiday snap show?”

Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug News 24/7: Under Neptune’s Gaze

Despite the God of the Sea, Neptune’s disapproving stare; the deafening roar of a passing space submarine freighter; and an erupting volcano on the horizon, Iceworld scientist, Uda Spritzer took her paddle board to the aid of two drowning morons who forgot to tether their houseboat properly and were attempting to swim to shore in search of a public lavatory…

She was commended for her bravery by the local coastguard, but then cuffed around both ears and poked in the eye for contravening Health and Safety rules by failing to wear a life preserver vest or a lanyard to her paddle board. In response, spinster, Ms Spritzer was reported to have said: “Sod this: next time I’ll let the bastards drown.”

THIS FABULOUS WALLPAPER IS DOWNLOADABLE.

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 3)

With sufficient shots available in the photo library, and a few words scribbled down too, it’s on with the third episode…

Meanwhile, in a nearby sector, a talented engineer, by the name of Gregor Arsentickler, was deporting himself with grace along a narrow maintenance corridor…

He enjoyed many responsibilities, one of which was the repair of recalcitrant Café Puke vending machines. And, by chance, it was the machine in the temporary TWIT office to which he had been summoned…

He went unnoticed by Bunty as she stared mindlessly at the ceiling. He too failed to register her presence. Instead he set straight to work. But, after a while, he couldn’t help but become aware of an annoying noise. It was Daisy and Ginger in conversation…

“Well, I said,” Daisy mouthed-off loudly, “my boyfriend can jump over much bigger puddles than your boyfriend.”

Ginger was intrigued. “What did she say to that?” 

“Nothing.” Daisy replied boastfully, “what could she say: it was true: my boyfriend lives on a houseboat: he’s been jumping from the deck to shore and back again all his life. Sometimes he does it just for fun. I once watched him do it blindfold with one leg tied to the other.”

Then, with an abrupt change of subject, Ginger said: “I never did learn to tie my shoelaces: now I’m told that the government or someone has banned them. All that practice – for nothing. I tell you – I’m getting sick and tired of stuff these days. It’s not like when we were kids.”

“What, like last year, you mean?” Daisy interrupted.

“Yeah,” Ginger grumbled, “and the year before.”

“They go by so quick, don’t they?” Daisy said whilst nodding sagely. “At the rate we’re going at the moment, we’ll be old before we’ve had the chance to grow up!”

Gregor looked across at the TWIT guard, who had clearly been enduring the conversation for some considerable time…

 

He appeared proto-catatonic, and failed to respond to Gregor’s surreptitious wave.

And the Ginger- Daisy combo continued…

“You know,” Daisy said as she threw a glance in the direction of the mentally absent Bunty, “her dad fell off his scooter last week.”

Ginger looked down at the floor and wished that she could ‘zone-out’ like Bunty: she didn’t like tales of pain and anguish. Then she thought that if she failed to respond, Daisy might take the conversation in a nicer direction. She was wrong:

“Yeah,” Daisy continued, “he really grazed his knee. I had to put a plaster on it. But it wouldn’t stick: I had it the wrong way ‘round.”

Then, to Ginger’s relief, Daisy did change the subject:

“What do you think Bunty’s thinking about?” But before Ginger could answer, she said: “Oh look, I’ve got one of them ulcer things on my tongue.”

“I’ve never been a fan of ulcers.” Bunty said, despite the fact that her gaze remained, clamped firmly upon the ceiling. “I’ve heard they curdle the milk.”

“Yeah,” Daisy agreed, “I’m glad I haven’t got any. Milk, that is: not ulcers. I’ve got an ulcer, look. Can you see it, Ginger?”

Gregor was experiencing difficulty concentrating on his repair work. Fortunately the TWIT operative – Nature Beast – chose that moment to enter…

Gregor was more than relieved: and how the TWIT guard felt about the interruption, he could only guess.

Nature Beast didn’t believe in preamble. He didn’t have much time for short words that joined others together either. As was usual for him, he spoke of himself in the third person…

“Nature Beast got results of test.”

Bunty came down from the ceiling. “Are they good?” She inquired.

“Nature Beast can’t read.” Nature Beast replied. “But colleague told me what’s what.”

“Did he tell you that we passed?” Daisy asked hopefully.

Nature Beast took a moment to consider this difficult question. “Hang on.” He replied. “Nature Beast need moment to think.”

Ginger had the distinct feeling that things were not going their way. “This colleague,” she said to Nature Beast, “was he, by any chance, Major Flaccid?”

A dull light went on behind the monster’s eyes. “Yeah.” He bellowed. “Maybe you not some dumb-ass as Major say.”

But that was as good as it got. As he reduced his volume, Nature Beast added…

“Major say – we got enough dumb-asses in TWIT already: don’t need three more.”

Naturally this was not well received. Bunty was particularly annoyed: “But we took a day off doing…ur…stuff and other important things…to come here: why have you wasted our time?”

The words came too quickly for Nature Beast: he took a few moments to assimilate them before replying with: “Major say – dumb-asses waste my time with stupid test: I waste their time back. He say it reciprocal stuff.”

This reply enraged Daisy so much that her eyes crossed. “You’ll rue the day that you crossed the three…ah…the three…um…us

…And remember this, you weird excuse for an earplug: revenge is a dish best served…um…is best served…”

“With olives.” Bunty yelled angrily. “Now kindly open the door and let us depart with a modicum of pride…or ‘proudness’, as my mum calls it.”

Moments later Gregor watched his positive read-outs flash up on the wall screen; but secretly listened as Nature Beast showed his guests the door…

 

An idea was forming in his head, and he didn’t want either Nature Beast, or the reanimated TWIT guard to notice his change in demeanour…

So, as the two TWIT operatives went about their next duty, Gregor Arsentickler tossed aside his itinerary – at least metaphorically – and went in pursuit of the three girls.

He found them commiserating over a cup of ghastly coffee…

“Ladies,” he said as he approached their table, “I believe I can be of some assistance to you.”

He then explained exactly how he knew that they had failed their job interview…

“But I have good news for you.” He added. “All is not lost. If you wish to impress Major Flaccid, be at these co-ordinates upon the Wide Blue Yonder just after the artificial sun goes down.”

He then handed them a hastily-written note.  As he turned from the girl’s excited exclamations and walked away…

…he said: “You never know; this could be your lucky day.”

But he didn’t really mean it: he had motives of the ulterior kind.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Portrait of an Earplug: Uda Spritzer

We asked famous Iceworld scientist, Uda Spritzer, how she started her day on such a cold and forbidding world…

She informed us that she rarely eats anything less than a vast bowl of oatmeal for breakfast every day. But, she recalled with some regret, on a recent visit to Earth, someone suggested she add a handful of sultanas to  the bowl…

She won’t be trying that trick again. She is also considering eggs, bacon and fried tomatoes for breakfast from now on.

Earplug News 24/7: UFO Ditches in Popular Winter Vacation Lake

We bring you the news that other news outlets can’t!

Crowds of pissed-off would-be skaters railed against a trio of aliens who had crashed their UFO into a much-beloved frozen lake and thawed it with their super-heated drive plasma. Local hostillery owners insisted that the aliens remain partially submerged until either the lake refroze or they drowned. Tudor Porks – a local government official – was despatched aboard his sky scooter to reconnoiter and assess the situation, but was too traumatised to look, and flew home immediately for a cup of tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake with his new boyfriend…

Earplug News 24/7: Midnight Buggy Race Under Threat

The weekly Magnuss Earplug – sponsored Midnight Buggy Race through the streets of the Old Quarter is facing the axe following a display of almost complete disinterest and apathy by the local inhabitants. Apparently they prefer to sit around street corners drinking vile coffee from the Cafe Puke vending machines…

Or visiting the toilet.

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 1)

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat

By Tooty Nolan

Prologue

The honeymoon of Magnuss and Hair-Trigger Earplug had been long and arduous; but now, as their honeymoon barge – the Tankerville Norris – swept by the Moon in a quite spectacular manner…

…inside, watching through a convenient viewing port, the happy couple witnessed its passing of Earth’s celestial companion…

“Ah,” Hair-Trigger said with a sigh, “as much as I enjoyed our last adventure, it’s good to be home.”

“I concur entirely,” Her spouse replied, “I can’t wait to show the boys our holiday snaps.”

It would be only minutes before the Tankerville Norris bridged the gap between Luna and Earth, so the only earplugs aboard casually returned to the bridge…

…just in time to watch as their trusty vessel breached the planet’s atmosphere and plunged towards the clouds below…

“You know, Hairy,” Magnuss began…

But he never completed his line: Hair-Trigger spoke the words for him:

“There’s no place like home.”

Then it was time for a fly-through of the towers in the city that lay closest to the Museum of Future Technology – Ciudad de Droxford – where the inhabitants took to the roof tops to wave their collective welcome…

Then, having shown off sufficiently, the ship curved around in a wide parabolic arc – to reveal the museum itself upon the bridge holo-screen…

“Who would have thought,” Magnuss said as he took in the view, “what might have become of the Museum of Future Technology if my brothers and I hadn’t visited it on that fateful morning, so many years ago.”

“Two things, in all probability.” Hair-Trigger replied in an instant. “The museum would have fallen to the first invaders: and I would never have met you.”

Magnuss smiled at this. “Best not go back in time and change anything, then.” He said.

And he continued to smile as the ship approached their destination…

…because he was very much looking forward to the pool party that his brothers had planned for the afternoon of their arrival…

And he especially wanted to try out the new Café Puke drone delivery service. He wondered; did the coffee arrive in a plastic mug – or did the drone squirt the vile brown mess into the customer’s own mug from an internal reservoir?

“Or maybe,” he said aloud, “they squirt it straight into the customer’s mouth.”

Hair-Trigger would have questioned Magnuss’ strange and unexpected line of dialogue, but she didn’t have time: the Tankerville Norris was settling upon a landing tower…

They were back:  the honeymoon was past tense: it was time to get on with married life with the museum’s greatest hero. And, as she unbuckled her seat belt, she couldn’t help but wonder what terrible threat would next test the mettle of the inhabitants of the Museum of Future Technology.

“Something pretty off-the-wall, probably.” She said.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

The Magnum Opus Rolls On

Never one to sit back on his heels and contemplate his scrotum, Tooty Nolan has gone straight to work upon the sequel to The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah. Some shots have already been…ugh…shot: and a few  words written too! So stand by for the first instalment of Triple Threat:  the 43rd volume of the eight-year (so far) story. Here’s a handful of taster-photos… 

Lookin’ good!

Galactic Newsletter: Fascists Found!

Scientists specialising in the search for alternative dimensions have discovered an alternate Earth upon which fascists rule with a chain mail fist. It appears that the authorities have a particular dislike for mariachi bands, the members of which are rounded up and imprisoned in cramped, cold conditions by evil black-hatted government thugs, where they are expected to wear their sombreros twenty-four seven!

Galactic Newsletter: Valentine Earplug Makes Remarkable Reappearence

Following days of mourning, when it was thought that the second-eldest of the Earplug Brothers, Valentine, had perished after entering a single-celled space creature aboard his Punting-Modesty XL5 Facepuncher, the Hero of Earplugdom made a welcome return when he and his craft escaped through the giant creature’s surprisingly small anus…

Earplug News 24/7: Amorphous Blob Loose in Age of Stone Exhibit

An evacuation of the Museum of Future Technology’s ‘Age of Stone’ exhibit was announced earlier today, due to the appearence of a strange alien creature that has been described by those who had seen it, as ‘an amorphus blob’. In the absense of any of the Earplug Brothers, their auntie – Doris – and her betrothed, K’Plank the Space Wanderer, have agreed to attempt mind control of the creature with a special wide-brimmed helmet with aerials poking out of it that K’Plank bought many years ago at a church fete jumble sale…