Distant Land (Part 13)

It was while later. No one was quite sure how long because they had all been far too busy examining the alien artefact that Cedric had brought aboard to notice. Eventually though, the Brian Talbot’s captain heard the sound he most feared: the buzz of his Ready Room door bell…

“Shoot.” He yelped. Then, gathering his courage, he added: “Enter.”

To his surprise it wasn’t Bruce Burpsby who led in the delegation of scientists; but Folie and Placebo. He stood up from his comfy chair to greet them.

“We’ve discovered a message.” Folie informed him…

“Yes.” A smiling Placebo added. “It’s a video message. We’ve formatted the signal so that it’s compatible with our computer.”

“Golly, that’s quick thinking. What does it say?” Cedric squeaked. “I hope there wasn’t a computer virus embedded inside it. It could play havoc with the ship’s systems. Imagine Waste Management failing horribly: it doesn’t bear thinking about. Does it mention alien invasion, by any chance?”

The look in Cedric’s eyes told the youngsters all they needed to know: their captain was suffering from Space Paranoia. Placebo sought to placate Cedric. “No, not at all. It’s just a cheerful ‘hello’ to passing space travellers.”

Outside the Ready Room, the bridge crew stood and listened…

“That lad sure can lie with the best of ’em.” Hooper Hellstrom whispered to the doubtful-looking Hubert Boils. “They’ve not had nearly enough time to check out that video: there could poop slopping about in the bilges as we speak.”

Meanwhile, inside the Ready Room…

“Excellent.” Cedric responded after several second’s thought. “Let’s get to the bridge: I’d like to see it for myself…

So, as they headed for the Exit and Placebo spotted the cheerful faces of the waiting bridge crew…

…he wondered if it might not have been better if he’d told the truth, which was that he didn’t have the first idea what the message said.

“Who knows,” he said under his breath and sniffed the air tentatively, “this could be the precursor of our utter destruction.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

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Distant Land (part 10)

A while later the newest recruits were allowed to visit their quarters, where they decided to rest and recover from their frosty exertions. Turning away from the window…

…they retired to bed; and so missed the Brian Talbot’s meeting with a comet…

Unaware that comets possess only a micro-gravity field, the inexperienced crew attempted to land upon it…

But, of course, the thrust of the ship’s landing engines only pushed the comet aside. Naturally tempers were lost and some well-aimed proton torpedoes were fired at the comet…

Equally naturally, the insubstantial nature of the spacial anomaly allowed the incandescent balls of energy to pass straight through it unharmed, which really cheesed-off the Captain. So before long…

…everyone got fed up and duly departed.

The ship was well on its way when Folie and Placebo were roused from their slumbers and assigned a task in the Science Lab. Crewplug, Grenville Hill, introduced them to their equipment…

“This is a Radio Anomalyser.” He informed them. “It finds stray radio waves that are anomalous; then it highlights them. Your task – to use a metaphor – is to filter the grain from the chaff. Find something interesting – and Captain Mantequilla promises we’ll investigate it.”

“Sounds good.” Folie replied. “What are you going to do?”

“Me?” Grenville replied. “I’m gonna sit my butt down on that comfy chair over there and catch some shut-eye.”

No one felt compelled to argue, so, whilst Placebo and Folie got to grips with the unfamiliar equipment, he did just that…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

 

Distant Land (part 9)

It was a week later that the Brian Talbot made planet fall. The world in question was uncharted and appeared to have a surface that was entirely mechanized…

It also appeared to be radio-silent. So, being a nosy bunch of silicon life-forms, the crew cheerfully decided to investigate. As the ship entered orbit, a saucer-shaped landing craft launched from it…

…and went very fast indeed…

…before racing across the strange metallic world’s surface at high altitude…

…and sweeping down…

…to deposit two members of a very small landing party…

“Flipping heck, Placebo,” Folie complained, “our first visit to an alien world; and it has to be a frozen one!”

“Yeah.” Placebo replied glumly. “Someone must have run out of energy: this whole planet is dead.”

They proceeded to discover an aqueduct that was entirely empty of flowing water…

“Ooh,” Placebo opined, “this is so depressing.”

Folie agreed. “And boring too.” He added. “I think I hate dead worlds.”

This level of conversation continued for the next two hours – until they received a call that informed them the Landing Craft was returning…

“Ah-hah.” Placebo cheered. “Our first, and extremely dull, adventure is about to end!”

And he wasn’t wrong. Very soon the Brian Talbot was breaking orbit…

Inside the vast craft, Folie and Placebo watched the mechanized world fall behind as the Brian Talbot accelerated away…

“Cripes, Folie.” A relieved Placebo said. “That was the dullest episode in my life – certainly since the day I got accidentally locked in the Ladies loo whilst drunk on a overseas seminar in my final year at university. I was later diagnosed with Post Lavatorial Traumatic Syndrome and had to be slapped around the face for several minutes by my tutor.”

“How awful.” Folie lamented. “It reminds me of the whole day that I spent with my underpants on back-to-front. I was so confused, I can tell you. I’ve never dressed in the dark since.”

“Awesome.” Placebo replied breathlessly. “Just awesome.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 8)

Naturally, both being wonderfully advanced pieces of technological magic, the two Wet World vessels separated with such ease that it seemed as though they’d been liberally coated with a futuristic form of Teflon, which, of course, they had. Immediately the Chi-Z-Sox ignited its orbital drive unit…

Of course several crew members of the Brian Talbot raced to the Observation Dome…

…to watch the older ships’ departure to realms unknown. They were joined by an enthusiastic Folie and Placebo, who grabbed a spot by the forward window…

Other, more experienced, space-watchers settled into comfy seats. But when the Chi-Z-Sox increased power…

…and headed away at ever-increasing speed…

…Placebo’s excitement at the spectacle caused him to break wind forthrightly, which, in turn, caused a crew member to faint and fall from his seat. Not that either youngster noticed: they were too enthralled by…

…the sight of an unimaginably vast region of space that appeared to be almost empty of either light, matter, or (apparently) energy. So they missed the Chi-Z-Sox let rip with its star drive…

…as did the others in the dome, because of Placebo’s involuntary assault upon their olfactory senses…

…the pong of which even had a negative effect upon the new-found friends themselves…

…and gave them second thoughts about traversing the Galaxy, cooped up in a huge tin can…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 7)

A split second later…

…Folie and Placebo had their atoms re-combined upon the bridge of the Brian Talbot.

“Hi.” The Captain – Cedric Mantequilla – said cheerfully as their sentience returned. “Welcome aboard. Pease don’t be alarmed…

…by all the clunking and clanking; but we’re currently docking with the Chi-Z-Sox, so that we can take on much-needed supplies…

Meanwhile, aboard the aforementioned star ship, Hideous and Perfidity had settled themselves into their comfy Ready Room seats…

“Nice lads, weren’t they, Hideous?” Perfidity said, once she’d ordered a powerful mug of coffee from the dispenser.

“Large one was apt to break wind in the Observation Dome.” Hideous replied. “Indiscriminately, apparently. Or so I’ve been told.”

Aboard the Brian Talbot, the latest guests asked if they could visit the Observation Dome.

“I can feel a really good fart coming on.” Placebo whispered over Folie’s shoulder.

“Excellent.” Folie whispered back. “I’m feeling distinctly methane-depleted.”

Fortunately Captain Mantequilla was too busy issuing important commands. So he heard nothing that passed between the youngsters. This was just as well, because the ships were about to disengage…

Naturally Cedric called a ship-wide Red Alert…

“Ah, this is more like it.” He said, as a hooter…er…hooted: and the bridge turned a deep crimson. “You can’t beat a good Red Alert. That’s what I say anyway.”

Equally naturally, the more experienced Captain Gout enjoyed a more relaxed atmosphere…

“Ah, I feel the ships un-docking.” He said, as the deck trembled. “I hope there’s time for a quick trip to the bog before its back into action, so-to-speak.”

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 6)

Several hours later the main drive of the Chi-Z-Sox grew silent…

…and the huge vessel drifted – as though waiting for something to happen…

Hideous Gout then invited Folie and Placebo to the bridge…

“I expect you’re wondering why this fine craft is adrift in the deepest recesses of outer space.” He said.

Doctor Perfidity Gout was surprised by Folie’s response. “We’re lost?” He suggested.

This made the Captain chuckle into his greying beard…

“No, you silly sod.” He replied. “Come, join me and look at the view screen. You’re in for a big surprise.”

Naturally the youngsters obliged; and moments later Lieutenant Kevin Mistlethrush announced…

…”Large vessel approaching, Captain. Putting it on the main screen now.”

Those in the know – namely the bridge crew – smiled…er…knowingly when…

…a remarkably familiar craft swam into view.

“But…but that’s the Chi-Z-Sox!” Folie blurted.

“How can that be?” Placebo wailed. “We’re aboard the Chi-Z-Sox. Is this some kind of sadistic trick? Are you torturing us on an intellectual level?”

But when the mystery vessel came alongside, Placebo recognised the sheer stupidity of his outburst…

“It’s another star ship.” He said needlessly. “Just like this one!”

“Wet World has made a second ship.” Folie observed and stated the obvious. “What’s its name?”

“Ah, that is a superb question, young earplug.” Hideous replied. “There was a great debate upon my home world. We felt that naming the Chi-Z-Sox after a dead rapper was extremely daring. Consequently we didn’t want to repeat something we’d done before. The ship you see beside us is brand new; so we decided to go for something equally new for inspiration.”

“We chose to name the ship after our world’s Submarine Motocross Champion.” Perfidity interrupted. “Brian Talbot.”

“Wow!” Folie exclaimed, as…

…the two ships matched velocity. “It must be really difficult railing those berms and avoiding vicious kickers with an aqualung strapped to your back. I’ve never heard of Brian Talbot: but anyone who rides Submarine Motocross surely deserves to have a star ship named after him. I’d sure like to board it!”

“Funny you should say that.” Hideous said as his chuckle returned. “Because it’s aboard the Brian Talbot that you two are going to complete your adventure. Byee.”

A split second later both the young earplug and the polystyrene packing piece dematerialised…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 5)

So, whilst Perfidity did her thing in the privacy of the bridge lavatory, the Chi-Z-Sox continued to race across the cosmos.

In the Science Lab, the Science Staff studied galactic anomalies…

But, being trainees, they found it all rather nauseating…

Then, unknown to either of their guests, the crew slowed the ship’s rapid forward progress…

…so that Perfidity could enjoy the sight of two stars coalescing…

…and for Hideous to make radio contact with a deep space beacon…

In the Observation Dome, Folie and Placebo became concerned…

“I have nasty feeling about this.” Placebo said, as he stared up through the transparent roof.

Folie’s feelings dwelt slightly lower than Placebo’s. Mostly in his bowels, actually.

“Yes,” Placebo continued, as though his friend’s stomach had remained mute, “that looks suspiciously like a deep space beacon. It can mean only one thing: either we’re being recalled; the lavatories need unblocking; or interstellar war has been declared.”

Little did Placebo know, as the Chi-Z-Sox hung like a Christmas bauble beside the deep space beacon…

…but all the while Hideous had been in communication with the unmanned device. And what it had informed him were no less than the co-ordinates of his next destination. So, without further ado, the Chi-Z-Sox got under weigh once more…

“Yee-hah.” Hideous yelled. “Feel that kick in the pants!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019