Tag Archives: fantasy

The Epoch of Dung (part 24) An Earplug Adventure

THIS IS IT: THE FINAL EPISODE. IT’S A MUST-READ!

Of course, there had only ever been one Hair-Trigger. She had no need to seek out her twin. Instead, she fetched herself a ghastly cup of Café Puke’s finest…

…and wondered what might have happened if she and the boys hadn’t been off world when the temporal catastrophe struck. The vague feeling of dread didn’t last long though: the sound of the first space submarine freighter arriving from far away broke the tableau…

Epilogue

Inevitably, late evening gave way to full night, and before long twelve midnight struck. Hambledon Bohannon took the sound of a chiming bell as his cue. ‘Everybody Slip Your Disco Disk’ boomed out across the Grand Hall abruptly – shattering the growing murmur of congregating earplugs…

Within seconds of Hambledon’s driving rhythm making its presence felt, people began to move with the beat…

Of course, the song was so out-of-date that no one remembered how to Slip Their Disco Disk – so no one got hurt. As the song segued into another classic dance floor boogie…

…any remnants of conversation were despatched. This suited Nature Beast: his conversation was monosyllabic at best.

Rupert Piles did make the mistake of trying to interview Princess Agatha about her discovery of the functioning Tunnel Temporale…

…but when she gave up the unequal battle and instead joined in with the well-known chorus of ‘Gut Churning Music’, so too did Rupert, and contented himself with recording the party for posterity. This was fortunate because he was able to capture the image of Susan, the amorphous green blob from the Age of Stone exhibit (and Chester’s principal love-interest) making her entry into the hall…

She didn’t disappoint.

“Hey, will you look at that.” One of Los Natillas said to the other two, “wouldn’t our show look so much better if we hired her to dance to our Latin rhythm?”

They agreed, but doubted the financial aspect of the deal. “That’s one big stomach.” One of them observed.

“And how would we fit her on the tour bus?” said the other.

Soon Susan was performing what was rapidly becoming her signature dance…

That is – wriggling like an idiot in front of everybody whilst carrying all five Earplug Brothers upon her huge form.

“Ooh, Rudi,” Magnuss moaned, “please ask her to stop: I’m feeling motion sick already.”

“Hey, man,” Rudi joked in reply, “some great hero you make: throwing up on the dance floor!”

And so it continued – deep into the early hours of the next day. Then word got out that the Greenhorn Girls had decided that, instead of standing like wallflowers against the mighty flanks of the Grand Hall, they had agreed to give a kicking line exhibition…

The consensus was, “This I gotta see.”  So, without too much further ado everyone backed off and allowed Margret and her girls to step away from the wall…

From somewhere – no one asked where – Hambledon Bohannon produced a show number track. The rhythm was perfect – as was the lighting – and soon the girls were high kicking across the floor…

Then it was back to disco, and everybody was ‘getting down’…

…except the Angel with a Huge Nose, who was ‘getting up’ by unfurling her wings and flying above the dance floor. This, in turn exposed a facet of the museum’s Avatar that no one was aware of…

She had wings too! So, whilst the Museum of Future Technology bathed itself in the glow of disco lights, and Magnuss and Hair-Trigger donned their jet packs so that they could join Angel and Avatar as they flapped about clumsily above the towers…

…Margret Greenhorn slipped away from the Grand Hall – in search of someone who had long-since disappeared from the celebration. She found her in her beloved arboretum…

“You know, Margret,” Cushions said, as she allowed her gaze to wander across the vast expanse of the museum, “I’d give everything for this place. Without it I am nothing.”

“I know, Cushions.” Margret replied. “And I love you for it. We all do.”

The End

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

There, wasn’t that charming in every way! Better still, you can now read the whole thing on PDF – either on-line, or to download and read at your convenience. Just visit All Earplug Adventures in PDF Format Unexpurgated & Free!

P.S  I know that tale was a bit brief. Certainly shorter than normal. However, the up-side of this is… with this one out of the way, I can now plan the next Earplug Adventure.  Everyone say “Yeah!”

P.P.S Why not click on the e-book cover (below) and become instantly transported to the full PDF version of The Epoch of Dung!

Surprise Package

Regardez vous the montage below…

Notice anything unusual about it? Yeah – a dearth of earplugs. Could this suggest an Earplug Adventure without earplugs? Well, no actually: without earplugs it wouldn’t be an Earplug Adventure. But, as you can see, the planned follow-up to The Epoch of Dung will include Nigel – The Golden One – and several Ethernet Cable End inhabitants of Scroton. The development of this story – even before the final episodes of The Epoch of Dung are posted on-line (which usually coincides with cerebral somnolence from the  author, following a prolonged period of creativity, hurried camera clicking, and manic typing) was kick-started by the appearence of this little artistic ditty…

Tooty asked himself – who are these guys? Does that have to be London in flames? Could the event depicted therein be twisted slightly and turned to good use in an Earplug Adventure?  Could that smoking ruin be Ciudad de Droxford – the closest city to the Museum of Future Technology instead? Might it’s destruction be a warning or threat to Cushions Smethwyke and the other curators of the museum? An idea began to form. How could (long-term ally of the MoFT) Scroton be involved with the situation? What if Nigel – The Golden One – decided to make a surprise visit to the museum…

…and found it entirely empty? Well discover what might happen, should these events conspire to tell a tale, dear Earplugger, by salivating over these hints of the next story – Surprise Visit!

P.S And, oh look, I’ve already begun snapping pictures: we can’t have them go to waste, can we!

 

The Epoch of Dung (part 21) An Earplug Adventure

Indeed she did. Already, those who were yet to be carried to the orbiting ships via matter transmission were boarding landing tenders…

 

Bert Frogget and young female earplug, who had only been visiting the museum on a half-day pass, paused to regard a vast plugmutt poo.

“I won’t miss those.” She said whilst recalling the number of doo-doos she had earned her three meals a day converting into building materials.

Bert said nothing, but he felt confident that, for the following couple of months, he would suffer terrible night terrors about them.

Only when a sensor sweep confirmed that the evacuation of everybody from the ruin of the Museum of Future Technology was complete did Magnuss host a video conference with the other ship captains…

The conversation could only be about one subject: making sure that ‘their’ museum survived the approaching reconnection with the normal time-line.

“Well we have the garbled suggestion from the Time Techs.” Placebo aboard the Gravity Whelk opened. “Have we figured what they’re trying to tell us?”

Sinclair Brooch spoke next: “Well them Greenhorn gals sure are pretty, but they aint tech-savvy. They only brought back half what them Time Techs told ‘em. My guys figure they mean to blow the hell outta this planet: they just can’t figure out how. My proton torpedoes sure aint up to the task.”

“I believe I have the answer,” the brainiest earplug included in the discussion spoke up. “My charming and intelligent wife and I have spent considerable mental energy in deep thought. We believe that the planet’s magnetic iron core is the answer to the problem. Put simply, we must tear it apart. The planet will surely follow.”

Magnuss, ever quick on the uptake, said, “You’re talking Gravitonic Multiplicitor time again, aren’t you?”

“I am indeed, young, heroic earplug.” Hydious Gout replied. “It will almost certainly destroy your apparatus, but Putridity has calculated that a sustained burst from both your vessel and the Gravity Whelk, should be enough to provide the magnetic imbalance necessary to disable the core and make it go all wobbly and explode outwards. Magma will abound, believe me.”

Magnuss had no way of knowing whether they had days in which to act, or mere seconds; so he chose the safest path and assumed the worst. Ending the conference, he and Hair-Trigger made straight for their Gravitonic Multiplicitor…

“It’ll be a shame to see it go up in smoke.” Magnuss said as he ran inexpert eyes over the potentially uber-destructive device. “Does it look in working order?”

Hair-Trigger probably knew even less about Gravitonic Multiplicitor maintenance than Magnuss. She shrugged. “It seems to have survived the opening of the time rift. It should work. Of course, while the time rift remains open, we won’t need it to open another, so I guess wrecking it won’t really matter.”

Unseen by either earplug, Magnuss’ brothers had slipped into the room…

Rudi reminded them that whatever happened to the ship and themselves, the destruction of the alternative Earth was their first priority.

“Hey,” he concluded, “even if this ship blows up, and the wormhole collapses – leaving everyone stranded in this time-line – we gotta save the Museum of Future Technology. It’s what we do, guys.

Chester, Miles, and Valentine nodded in agreement.

“Right on.” Valentine added for good measure.

“Okay,” Magnuss replied. “Adopt the position, whatever that means. Contact the Whelk: there’s no time to use that lovely clean toilet over there: let’s do this!”  

Moments later, after a sensor scan by the K T Woo found a weak spot in the planet’s magnetic field, the Tankerville Norris and Gravity Whelk moved to a location that placed them above the southern hemisphere. There was no spectacular countdown. As soon as both ships had aligned their Gravitonic Multiplicitor emitters, they let rip with one hundred percent energy release – or Number Eleven on the twist dial…  

The surface of the ruined world succumbed in an instant…

Minutes dragged by. Only the K T Woo’s sensors could detect the disturbances in the planet’s core…

Superheated flows of inner planetary material …um…flowed… freely around the equator and from pole to pole. It was just a matter of time before one of them broke through to the surface…

Great rends, vast enough to swallow the museum whole, opened across the globe, causing continent-wide rivers of magma to spread across the darkened landscape…

As the Gravitonic Multiplicitors strained to maintain their gravimetric toil, the surface of the land melted and bubbled like a really hot lasagne…

…spitting magma high into the air. Then the toughest bedrock cracked open…

…and everyone that dared watch could see that the end was near. But which would go first – the planet – or the time-line? They held their breath. Shortly an expanding ball of molten material consumed the atmosphere…

“Ooh, bugger.” Magnuss exclaimed. Into his radio, he screamed, “Woo and Sox – you’ve got the most passengers: get the heck outta here.”

Then, with their Gravitonic Multiplicitors reduced to expensive junk, the Gravity Whelk and Tankerville Norris broke for open space – headed for the time rift. And not a moment too soon either. As they accelerated towards freedom, the alternative Earth exploded like a mini-nova…

Placebo and Folie watched it on their rear camera…

“Pretty.” Folie observed. “And it’s made our screen go all wonky too. We’ll have to get that fixed.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

P.S I’ve been hanging on to these pictures of planetary destruction for yonks. I knew I would need them eventually. I do like a dose of planetary destruction you know.

The Epoch of Dung (part 19) An Earplug Adventure

As they plunged into the cauldron of impossible energies…

…Doctor Putridity Gout said to her husband, “I know this is fun and all that, dearest; but would you might awfully if I went to the toilet? I don’t want to embarrass myself.”

If truth be known, several bridge crewmembers felt much the same way.

“Oh, of course, darling.” Hydious replied. However, to the bridge crew he said, “You lot can use the polystyrene cups provided in those little cubby holes beside your work stations. As ship designers, my wife and I think of everything, you know.”

No one had the first idea how long the transit between time-lines would take. They assumed it would be measurable on an earplug scale. It wasn’t. Only an incomprehensibly brief period elapsed before the Tankerville Norris found itself approaching the alternative Earth…

“Just getting the main screen back up.” Hair-Trigger informed Magnuss.

“No probs.” Her relatively new husband replied. “I’ve opened an exterior shutter. I can see our target through the side window. It looks very blue. Not the usual blue either. I don’t like the look of that.”

He barely had sufficient time to reseat himself, when the main screen readjusted itself for the alternative time-line, and came back on-line.  What it displayed caused havoc inside the psyches of the earplugs who looked at it…

“Ugh, where’s the surface of the Earth?” Magnuss asked. “The ruins of the museum are over to the left; but the neighbouring city of Ciudad de Droxford should be just there. All I can see is a huge plain with some distant, worn-down mountains…

Aboard the larger, better-equipped K T Woo, Hamish McHaggis had turned the ship’s sensitive sensors upon the scene…

“Oh-oh,” he reported to Sinclair Brooch, “it seems that, with the exception of the ruins and mud village, the Earth is both uninhabited and uninhabitable, captain.”

To which Sinclair responded, “Oh bum.” Before adding, “Hey maybe the other captains have a handle on this. Get on the horn: let’s jaw.”

Meanwhile several inhabitants of the mud village thought they heard something ‘funny’ and had decided to see what was going on outside…

“It’s a spaceship.” They cried as one. “As if being disconnected from the river of time and seeing our beloved museum torn to shreds isn’t enough; now we’re being invaded from outer space! Everyone back inside.”

Of course, they weren’t being invaded at all. Soon many curtains twitched nervously as the Tankerville Norris kicked up dust, straw, mould spores, and stray sequins as it landed in the village’s largest plaza…

Shortly after that, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger stepped out into the village. Following a brief journey via matter transmitter, Hydious Gout and Sinclair Brooch joined them. Using their innate sense of direction, the foursome proceeded along a poorly lit alleyway…

To their surprise, they heard the voice of Cushions Smethwyke beckoning them into a mud hut…

They were not as surprised however, when upon entering the mud hut, they found familiar faces awaiting them…

“Wow, this is weird.” Magnuss said. “Hi everyone.”

To which Cushions responded with, “Hi yourself. Have you come to save us? Or are you alternative time-liners, like us – trapped here until reconnection with the river of time and possible utter destruction?”

Hydious Gout assured the watching curators and Rupert Piles (sans camera) that his plan was to take them all back to their correct time-line aboard the four ships, where they would reintegrate with their alternative selves.

“It will all be perfectly safe and painless.” He assured them further. “You won’t be mutually repulsive. You won’t fly across the room or explode or anything ghastly like that.”

“Will we remember this life?” the biological android, Montagu inquired. “This horror?”

“Probably.” Hydious replied. “You’ll probably feel a little disoriented. You’ll have two sets of memories. It will leave you a bit confused, and you might suffer a headache or a sore throat for a couple of weeks; but nothing discombobulating – at least not permanently.”

“Oh, right.” Yabu said to Cushions, “we’d better get our set of Time Techs to fire up the restored Tubo Di Tempo, and then have Margret and the girls make a report to the proper time-line via carrier wave.”

So they did…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

P.S I can’t get over how realistic that mud village looks. You can almost smell the straw and dung. Oh, sorry, I mean the opposite. That has to be the worst model-making effort in the history of earplug literature! Never mind though; back in the 70’s, Dr Who used to look terrible; but that didn’t stop millions from loving it.

The Epoch of Dung (part 16) An Earplug Adventure

It was later, after dusk was a mere memory that an exhausted Gobby stumbled from his abode…

A single streetlight, burning plugmutt piddle for fuel, illuminated him. He sent a silent plea into the evening sky. Elsewhere in the village, Rupert Piles was doing much the same…

However, his concern was immediate. Incredibly, his camera’s energy levels had dwindled and run down. Despite the presence of the working Nul-Space generator, the power was failing. It didn’t take a genius to work out that the generator could not produce the power from Nul-Space, because there was no Nul-Space to draw it from. Clearly, their time-line was on the brink of non-existence. Re-integration with the River of Time was imminent. However, he kept the information to himself: it had been a great show, and he wanted people to go to bed happy.

“Arse!” He said quietly to the increasing darkness.

The Angel with a Huge Nose – being an angel, of course – may have understood that their time was drawing near. Perhaps it was, as an act of desperation, which made her take the former weightlifters, Mandy and Candy, with their boyfriends – former zombies, Vic and Bob – up onto the roof of the mud village…

…to perform in the only way they could. However, instead of the spectacular three-dimensional farts for which the quartet had become famous, they produced just one. But, incredibly, it was invisible. More significantly, it was silent and deadly. When it struck Gobby, as he stood in the dregs of the day…

…he reacted against the foul smell to end all foul smells by sending it back in time by fifteen minutes. Moreover, it was then that the earplug presence in the fractured time-line finally became noticed…

…by the Tiny Pixelated Gods of Scurrying Things, who passed on the information to…

…the God of Red-Faced Fish. The God of Red-Faced Fish knew very little about earplugs, so it passed the recording of the show to the God of Water Butts and Sundry Liquid Containers…

This God was a high-level dude in the realm of the Supreme Being. Noting that time was tight, it reacted instantaneously. The Supreme Being was in the act of enjoying a warm bath…

It was only a shallow bath, but it was very nice and steamy. It was a rare moment of bliss for the hard-working creator of everything silicon. But his moment of reverie was broken suddenly, when he became aware that he was not alone…

In an instant, the steam evaporated, and all the water’s heat went with it.

“What the heck?” He began.

Then he recognised the eight figures standing before him…

Ninja, in particular, was giving him the ‘evil eye’. “Earplugs.” She said. “Just in case you’re wondering.”

The Supreme Being became enraged…

 “How dare you!” He roared so loudly that Margret feared she might develop tinnitus. “This is a shallow bath: there are insufficient bubbles in the water to hide my willy. It is outrageous that eight female earplugs should see my doo-dads without my permission. It’s not like you’re nurses or anything like that: you’re dancers, for flip’s sake!”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake.” Ninja growled…

…”do you really believe we’d be here if we wanted to? No, we’d like to be going about our business being earplugs in the regular space / time continuum. We’re here because we need your help. And you owe us – that’s earplugs in general, by the way. Do you recall how the false SB tossed you in a big wooden crate…?

…and had you bound and gagged?

That is until the Earplug Brothers freed you and helped you defeat the false Supreme Being?”

Margret didn’t wait for an answer: like her dancing girls, she had assumed that the question was rhetorical. “We’re the female equivalent of the Earplug Brothers, S B. This time we need your help. Savvy?”

As is the way of Gods, the Supreme Being had no need of a towel. In no time at all he was dry and clothed. He also held Ninja Perkins in the palm of his hand…

“Of course. Of course.” He said – all anger abated. “I always have time for my most accomplished creations. What ails thee, Ninja Perkins?”

Ninja looked back at the Supreme Being…

“Well,” she said, “I’d always wanted to be a dancer; but that seems rather pathetic now. I’m giving up on that. No, what I really need from you is…”

However, the Supreme Being had read her mind. “The Ion Storm in the Solar System is quenched.” He said. “Now it’s up to your kind to save the day. I know you can do it. Bye Ninja, Margret, Poki, Ragi, Belle, Wendy, Delia and Nokaks: have a happy existence.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

P.S If it hadn’t been the for the timely placement of my hand upon the bath grabrail, it would have been more than the Greenhorn Girls who saw the Supreme Being’s willy!

P.P.S have you noticed how much SB has aged since he first appeared in the Earplug Adventures. I have no explanation for this. Curious.

P.P.P.S That bloody yellow t-shirt again. It must be SB’s favourite colour!

The Epoch of Dung (part 14) An Earplug Adventure

Whilst word spread, Margret discovered a broken piece of technology that originated in the ruined museum. It was covered in plop, and smelt nasty too. Nevertheless, she pressed on, and the latent sound technician in the experienced dance troupe owner soon noticed the tonal qualities of the debris…

So she placed her tape player behind it.

“Hmm, what with that wall to bounce the sound off it too,” she said to herself with satisfaction, “the reverb should prove excellent. They’ll probably hear this clean across what remains of the Woven Expanse. ”

As it transpired, the natural amplifier worked better than she’d imagined. Her almost silent words had entered every one of the nearby domiciles – drawing their occupants out to see for themselves what dancing girls looked like…

…on every side of the plaza…

“An earplug cannot live on bread alone,” a droopy moustachioed earplug in dark glasses was heard to yell. “He’s gotta have some entertainment too. Bring on those leggy lovelies.”

Once Margret was satisfied with the quantity of watching earplugs, she and the girls took up their opening positions, whilst Ninja, Yabu, and Cushions introduced them…

Margret was particularly impressed with the way that Ninja fluttered her eyelids, and wondered where she had found the false eyelashes and mascara.

Then the pre-recorded band struck up, and those waiting upon balconies and in upper windows held their collective breath…

Some became so excited that they lost their sense of balance, fell over, and allowed their eyes to bulge from their heads in a vile, leering manner…

Of course, the Curator Elite retained their decorum. In fact, Pretty Boy Plankton looked in the opposite direction completely; and Winston Gloryhole’s eyes only bulged slightly more than was usual…

Unseen by many, Gobby waited in the ‘wings’ to play his part. His friend, Nature Beast stood beside him in support, both spiritually and physically…

Should Gobby’s body fail through the effort of turning back the chronometer of life a multitude of times, Nature Beast would hold him up and give him strength to continue. If his will weakened, Nature Beast was there to give him a good kick in the shins and shout threatening, if incoherent, monosyllables at him loudly.

Then suddenly, just when everyone was on the brink of getting impatient, the girls snapped into action with a dance that Margret named The Runway Wriggle, which showed, in minute detail, their incredible buttock control and the brevity of their sequined knickers…

A tribute to Mariachi bands quickly followed…

…entitled: “Hola, I like your trumpet: why don’t you give me a toot.”

Sadly, Poki developed a nasty cough – probably from breathing in fungus spores that blew around the piles of mouldy straw in darkened corners – that ruined the vocal chorus by removing the alto facet completely.

This was followed by a disgusting clichéd routine that had no place in the modern world, which supposedly represented Old China…

However, no one cared one jot because the girls looked fabulous.

“Who gives a fig anyway?” Cushions whispered to Yabu. “This is our mud village: we’ll be as racially clichéd as we sodding want. Who’s gonna tell us off?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

What – no support act? Who needs support acts when you’ve got the Greenhorn Girls!

The Epoch of Dung (part 12) An Earplug Adventure

Shortly Angel was only too pleased to report recent events to Cushions Smethwyke…

“This can’t be coincidence,” Yabu said as he and Cushions were appraised of the situation.

“It can’t?” Cushions questioned the leader of Yabu Youth.

“Well yes, obviously it can; but it’s very unlikely.” Yabu replied. “Funny, don’t you think that just when something goes seriously awry with the Tunnel Temporale, we find a bunch of enemy Incense Cones hiding in the bowels of the museum?”

“When you put it that way, I guess you’re right.” Cushions acknowledged the logic of Yabu’s reasoning. “But how are we gonna find out: they don’t speak our language – and they think like weird aliens!”

“Leave that to me.” Angel said. “Let me remind you that when the museum was attacked by End Caps from Hyperspace, I used my power of illusion upon them. It even worked upon their Attack Robots. I have a plan for this bunch of evil subversives. They are going to tell us everything they know.”

Five minutes later Angel had joined the captives in the museum’s jail. Five minutes and one second later, all six captives had forgotten they’d ever been in a fight, and were safely ensconced inside their hidey-hole. Moreover, their leader – Emperor Conrad Moose – appeared to…uh…appear on their com-panel…

“Right then,” Emperor Conrad Moose’s voice seemed to roar from the tinny speaker grille, “I’ve been very, very busy running my enormous empire, and I’ve kind of, sort of, forgotten why I sent you to the Museum of Future Technology. So I want you to bring me up to speed with my plan and what you’ve been doing whilst I’ve been very, very busy. Oh, and by the way, I’ve decided to learn Earplug really well, so use that language. Use our own language, and I’m gonna get really angry with you. Understand? Right: go.”

The Incense Cone Infiltration and Temporal Dislocation Squad – as they liked to call themselves – were slightly taken aback by this: their emperor usually despised anything related to earplugs, except news of their failures and disasters. To demand they use the cursed language of their enemies confused them: but they rallied quickly…

“Um, where would you like us to start?” The pink Incense Cone inquired.

Major Flaccid, who was providing the voice of Conrad Moose, decided to take a chance: it would be inadvisable to rouse his captive’s suspicions by knowing nothing whatsoever about their mission. “Well obviously I remember the earplug’s horrible Tunnel Temporale is involved: but I can’t quite recall exactly what you’re supposed to do with it. Like I said, I’m a very, very busy emperor.”

This seemed to settle the Incense Cones. It was the turn of the pink Incense Cone to preface his opening line with the word ‘well’. “Well,” he said as he tried to ignore a nagging and implausible ache in his groin, “we travelled the requisite amount of distance in time to this era, where we set off a chain reaction in the Temporal Cascade Equaliser. Coming from a period in which the technology is more advanced than it is in this era, it was easy-peasy to kick-start the troublesome Tunnel Temporale with a remote hyperspace signal. The first the locals knew of it was when the Tunnel burst into life. But then something unexpected happened, and we don’t really know why.”

“We suspect,” the blue Incense Cone, volunteered, “that the activation of the Tunnel Temporale initiated an instantaneous time storm. Rather than destroy the current Museum of Future Technology, as planned, which would then instigate a massive incursion into this portion of space/time, by our gallant assault troops from the future, and the annihilation of any surviving earplug resistance, something else happened.”

Major Flaccid – a keen ‘amateur dramatics’ actor in his spare time – decided to ‘go large’. “What?” He roared. “What?”

Angel inserted a suitable visual representation of Conrad Moose…

This resulted in the exposing of Incense Cone physical characteristics that earplugs were unaware of…

…those being enormous gobs; startled expressions; and nasty odours that erupted from their hindquarters.

 The pale Incense Cone with yellow lips was the first to overcome its shock and horror. “It’s not all bad.” The creature said hurriedly. “We seem to have created a divergent time-line.”

“Explain to me how this is ‘not all bad’.” The Moose/Flaccid apparition demanded.

“When the alternate time-line reintegrates with the flow of time,” The Green-Eyed individual at the end of the line interjected – and therefore hoped to gain some ‘Brownie’ points – “disaster will be invoked. One of the time-lines will be destroyed. We are currently in the process of constructing some advanced devices, of my design, that will guarantee that it’s this time-line that fails to survive re-integration. We’ll poke them down the Tubo Di Tempo as we leave, just before temporal re-integration commences.”

Flaccid gulped at this news. Fortunately, his ‘subjects’ put this down to a case of ‘wind’. “Yeah-yeah,” he mumbled as he tried to collect his wits, “But won’t the accursed earplugs spot the devices and remove them?”

“No probs.” The pale blue Incense Cone – sensing that it was in danger of being a mere spectator in the Emperor’s eyes – said quasi-confidently. “We’re wrapping them in Bags of Invisibility.”

Again, Flaccid found himself caught unawares. This time, however, an involuntary and enormous fart enveloped his entire body, which was serendipitous because it gave his brain the energy it required to think quickly and with precision. “Oh, good. What do they look like? Do the earplug’s Cones of Invisibility interact with them – rendering their contents visible?”

“They look like unused plastic roasting bags.” The grey Incense Cone, who was beginning to feel like a bystander, answered. “Inflated ones, of course, with the little plastic ties pulled tight. We’ve calculated the likelihood of an earplug-built Cone of Invisibility making contact with our Bags of Invisibility, and therefore rendering it visible, as less than one in a million. Don’t worry, Emperor Moose, the earplugs won’t know what hit ‘em. In fact, they won’t even know they’ve been hit. They won’t exist.”

The pink Incense Cone didn’t want to appear to have lost control of the conversation: “Yeah, that’s right.” He said. “We don’t know what the alternate version of the museum is gonna be like exactly; but it aint gonna be pretty. We can clear them out in no time at all – excuse the pun.”

Naturally, Angel took this startling information to Cushions and Yabu…

Cushions quickly shifted mental gears. “Okay,” she said, “I’m not quite sure what we can do with this info, but at least we’ve got the perpetrators under lock and key. Let’s hope Margret Greenhorn and her leggy dancing girls are on the case in the other time-line.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

The Epoch of Dung (part 11) An Earplug Adventure

Part 11 already? Flipping heck, time sure does fly when you’re having fun!

However, they were alien thoughts. Thoughts that Angel simply couldn’t decipher – even if she really concentrated, screwed up her eyes, and pricked her bum with a hatpin. She was able to understand that the Incense Cones were planning – or had planned – something of vast magnitude that placed everyone in the museum in danger: but there were no specifics. If she were to learn anything from these back-door invaders, she would require the services of professional interrogators. To this end, she quickly made her way to a seldom-used com-panel…

…where she placed a call to Major Flaccid in the control room of the TWIT headquarters, Swottan Hetty…

Naturally, Flaccid was in the middle of talking a load of old rubbish very loudly to his troops when the call came through. “Excuse me, guys.” He said as he answered. However, when he finally comprehended some meaning from what Angel told him, all bombast was forgotten. “Follow me.” He snapped as he made for the door. “Prepare to repel boarders!”

Therefore, it was a satisfied Angel who turned away from the com-panel…

“Hmmm, I like this,” she said as she flexed her wings in triumph, “it makes me feel all sexy. I’m going to go disco dancing. I think I still have my old tight spandex pants in that cardboard box under my bed. I certainly hope so. Gonna knock ‘em dead on the dance floor tonight – huh!”

In Swottan Hetty, the laboratory-created TWIT operative, Nature Beast was in the toilet when Flaccid had led his troops from the control room…

“Ugh, where everybody go?” he asked the room as he re-entered. When he received no reply, he grunted again, before adding: “Nature Beast smell nervous sweat on floor. Team going on operation without Nature Beast. Matter not: Nature Beast track scent of scared TWIT boys. Nature Beast reckon gonna be a punch-up.”

Whilst Nature Beast made best speed in pursuit of his comrades-in-arms, Flaccid had used a shortcut to apprehend the Incense Cones before their meeting had broken up…

“Ah-ha,” he bellowed as the Incense Cones turned to face the threat, “got you. Now surrender without a fight and I won’t beat you senseless with a tyre iron during your subsequent interrogation.”

Now it is possible that the invaders had studied Major Flaccid, and as a consequence knew full well that he was nothing more than a big blow-hard who caved whenever anyone stood up to him. However, whatever, these Incense Cones were all too happy to give him a fight. They quickly waded in…

Flaccid was the first to go down. With their leader incapacitated, it would have been forgivable for the TWIT operatives to flee in fear of their lives: but perhaps because they were fighting on home soil, as it were, their pride would not allow them to retreat. They fought back. But not well enough. Three Incense Cones broke through their line…

In a second or five, Flaccid was on his feet again. “After them. After them.” He bellowed through a lip gone sore from a punch in the mouth. “Oh where is Nature Beast when you most need him? Oh curse his recalcitrant bladder!”

Then, as if on cue…

…Nature Beast’s grotesque countenance stole from the shadows…

“Nature Beast here.” He said as a look of delight spread across his aforementioned grotesque countenance.

At this point, the pink leader of the Incense Cones would have done well to hold up his hands and say: “Okay, it’s a fair cop: I surrender.” But he didn’t get the chance. Nature Beast didn’t believe in taking prisoners: he kicked the pink Incense Cone somewhere where it really hurts…

Then he clobbered the others who stood against him with his trusty rubber mallet that he always kept in his waste-band…

“Nature Beast says ‘game over’.” He grunted with satisfaction.

“Well done Nature Beast.” Flaccid said as he slapped his subordinate upon his powerful shoulder.  “I knew I was right when I recruited you. Shows what a damned good leader I am!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

P.S Gosh, aren’t these fight scenes so realistic? It’s almost as if you’re there! Almost.

P.P.S If you enjoyed this episode, you’re really going to like the next one. Lots of exposition: very silly.

The Epoch of Dung (part 10) An Earplug Adventure

Chapter 4

As far away as it is possible to get in the space/time continuum, the ‘regular Museum of Future Technology was cloaked in the semi-darkness of approaching night…

Out on the Wide Blue Yonder, crowds massed for prayers to their particular, if ridiculous deities…

Much wailing and beating of chests occurred. However, inside the building proper, Rupert Piles – i.e. the ‘original’ Rupert Piles – was going about his regular duties: that is recording events for later transmission across all Earplugdom. His reporter’s ‘nose’ told him that the strange time-altering being, known as Gobby, would play an important role in coming events…

Gobby was aware of his presence and told him to go away.

“Freedom of the press, Gobby.” Rupert responded. “You can’t deny me my right to shoot motion pictures of anyone in the Museum of Future Technology. It’s in the constitution.”

“I could send you back in time by fifteen minutes.” Gobby threatened without actually turning around to face the source of his annoyance.

“Same rule applies.” Rupert replied. “In any case, I could always fall back on the Security Suite’s CCTV footage. It would just be a bit grainy – and not in three-dee.”

Whilst this exchange of words was taking place, Angel with a Huge Nose was walking into the Grand Hall beside the curator (and former gangster), Pretty Boy Plankton…

“Hey, Conk,” Pretty Boy said to the being who, long ago, had been mortally injured during an invasion of the museum, but had been resurrected as an angel by the museum’s Avatar, “I aint never learned to read real good: does that sign say ‘toilets’ or ‘tar pits’?”

Angel smiled, as she always did. She was well aware that Pretty Boy was telling a lie: she’d once caught him reading the vast volume War and Peat in the arboretum: he was just trying to make conversation. She was about to admonish him gently with a cuff around the jowls and a poke in the eye, when an apparition appeared before them both…

Pretty Boy’s eyes opened in wonderment, and Angel’s smile widened as the ethereal vision took on form.

“This is higher level stuff.” Pretty Boy said as he beat a quick retreat. “I’m outta here.”

Therefore, it was with Angel alone that the Avatar strolled along the adjacent corridor…

The Avatar was slow coming to the point of her appearance to Angel, but the former regular earplug didn’t mind: she loved being in the company of the higher order being. They chatted of this and that, and Angel fought valiantly to overcome her desire to gaze upon the beauteous face of Avatar.

“Yes,” she said, in a slightly whimsical manner, “cornflakes really are tasty, aren’t they.” 

But, then – her mind apparently made up – Avatar stopped walking. Naturally, Angel did likewise…

“What is it? What is it?” She said eagerly.

The perpetual smile upon Avatar’s face slipped ever so slightly. “I’ve become aware of a presence in the museum.” She told Angel. “Sensors cannot find anything that shouldn’t be here; but I ‘feel’ something. Angel, you must use your huge nose to seek out the interloper. This could be of the greatest import. Take care. Don’t fail me.”

With that, a blue glow suffused the immediate area…

…and the Avatar reintegrated with the museum’s structure.

Angel didn’t waste a second. She set her nasal sensors to ‘delicate’, and proceeded along the corridor at a considerable rate of knots…

“What’s wrong with the Angel with a Huge Nose?” people would ask each other as she raced towards and intersection that would take her to an area of the museum that had yet to be fully utilised…

…”did someone slip a tarantula into her underwear?”

Of course, Angel heard nothing of this, and even if she had, she wouldn’t have paused to refute their ideas. For her, time was of the essence. Soon she was barrelling along darkened and deserted back alleys that seldom heard footfalls…

Her nose had detected something. Something she could not recognise. Something that did not belong in the Museum of Future Technology. However, as she entered a region that enjoyed a pleasing deep suffuse blue she slowed…

Cocking an ear, she thought she could discern the indistinct sounds of voices. So, creeping forward quietly…

…she discovered an interior window that allowed a difficult view of an adjacent compartment. Moreover, when she managed to clamber into a position where she could see over the lip of the frame…

…she was astonished to discover several Incense Cones in conversation. Well, obviously she couldn’t believe her eyes. It was impossible that members of a species that had sworn to become the enemies of Earplugdom could have entered the facility by regular means. She surmised that they could only have arrived here by clandestine or nefarious means. Clearly, they were up to no good. So, for the first time since she had proven to her would-be beau – (the youthful) Magnuss Earplug – that she was no longer an earplug and could not love him, she unfurled her wings; rose from the floor in silent flight…

…watched intently and listened to their unintelligible words and unguarded thoughts…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

The Epoch of Dung (part 9) An Earplug Adventure

 

Shortly after beating a hasty retreat from the company of the confused sewage workers, Margret had the misfortune of stumbling into the plugmutt pen…

“Oh goodie,” the matriarchal leader of the pack cried out with glee, using her rudimentary speech capability, “an earplug: it must be din-dins time!”

In a nearby facility, which had an inexpertly sawn door, and might have been a public lavatory…

…the actor, Bert Frogget, and his friend Cyrus Buttcleft, overheard manic screaming, so rushed into the open air – just in time to witness Margret flee the plugmutt pen…

“Silly old hoofer.” Cyrus said. “The plugmutts thought she was bringing them their dinner.”

Bert would have laughed, if he hadn’t been a useless and bitter has-been whose fame had come by playing Aquaplug in a popular children’s television show many years previous. “Yeah, silly old hoofer.” He said. “She must have thought she was dinner.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the huge mud structure, Doctor Pox was seeing his first patient in his ‘new’ surgery…

“These ceilings seem awfully low.” His customer observed.

“Yes,” Pox replied, “I have a sore spot on the top of my head. Unfortunately, the only doctor in town who might look at it is me: and I don’t have a mirror. No one does; they were all destroyed!”

Meanwhile, just around the corner, Delia and Poki had encountered the museum’s bounty hunter and well-known lothario – Hunting Provost…

“Why hello, Ladies.” He said smoothly through a sly smile, “where have you two been all my life?

Whilst Poki sighed and looked skyward with exasperation, Delia replied:

“As far as I can see, we hadn’t been born for the first half of it. Now get lost and go play on your mag-lift motorbike or something.”

Hunting, crestfallen, knew when he was not wanted, and duly stepped aside to allow them access to the mud village…

…from which black smoke belched most unattractively, which had caught the attention of Police Constable Salisbury Wilts: and someone had been blown out of their hovel by a steam explosion.

“Hmmm,” Poki whispered disparagingly, “a regular home from home.”

Margret, meanwhile, had allowed Ninja Perkins to take her to the seat of the mud village’s power, Cushions Smethwyke and Yabu Suchs…

“This is strange,” she said to them, “it was you two that sent us here on our mission of discovery. I don’t think that either of you imagined you existed in both time-lines.”

This came as startling news to both earplugs. “But we had no idea.” Cushions wailed.

“That’s right.” Yabu all but sobbed. “We knew that the time-lines had diverged, obviously: we could sense it with our silicon DNA: but having duplicates of ourselves in the alternative time-line…well it changes everything. We assumed that this time-line would eventually re-integrate with the River of Time, and that when we finally dig our way out of the ruins, we’d be able to rebuild the museum to its former glory. We’d even named it. The Epoch of Dung. Poetic, don’t you think? But your arrival and what you tell us changes everything.”

“Does it?” Cushions inquired of Yabu. “You know I don’t do temporal mechanics very well. What are the ramifications? What’s the upshot?”

Yabu spent several moments considering the question. Margret stepped into the breech, as it were: “One of the time-lines will be destroyed. It’s a fifty-fifty chance either way.”

“It must be this one.” Yabu blurted. “It’s the only way.”

Expert in temporal mechanics or not, Cushions didn’t like what she was hearing: “Why must it be this one? This is the one that I’m in: surely it should be the other one.”

“No, Cushions.” Yabu replied sagely, “I can only be this one. We have no museum here. In the other time-line, the museum remains intact and functioning. No re-build is necessary. There will be no need of a dirty, filthy, incredibly smelly Epoch of Dung. And it is populated by our original selves. We are the copies. The clones, if you will. We must be destroyed.”

“No, no, now hang on a second.” Margret interrupted. “We were sent here to make sure that the museum’s time-line remains intact: but now that we’ve found it populated, the whole situation has changed. If this time-line ends, it shouldn’t be taken that your lives go with it. We have to find a way of returning you all to the correct time-line, but leave the ruined museum behind.”

Cushions grabbed this idea like a drowning plugmutt grabs its own buttocks and bobs to the surface of any liquid – including mercury. “Brilliant – that’s what I like to hear. Okay, I designate you as Problem Solver Alpha One. It’s your job to figure out how to save us all before the time-line re-integrates. Right then, on your way. You have the full support of this entire mud edifice at your disposal. Go for it.”

So Margret found herself despatched upon an almost impossible mission. Even Ninja’s up-beat attitude couldn’t snatch her from the edge of the pit of despair…

 “Oh joy,” she groaned. “I’m a choreographer and troupe owner: what do I know about temporal mechanics and saving the occupants of a mud, poop, and straw-derived society?”

“You’re smart.” Ninja replied chirpily. “Not like the Bozo Brothers, who, having discovered their plight here, tried to appease the gods by taking their sister, Anthracite, out on to what remained of the Obsidian Plain at night, and sink her up to her armpits in the tar pit…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

The Epoch of Dung (part 8) An Earplug Adventure

A short distance farther on, Ragi Half-Nelson had found a narrow ‘bridge’ of her own. She also showed some pluck by walking straight across it…

Sadly, Wendy was doing less well – especially when the experienced Precipitous Ledge Walker, Greta began making the ‘bridge’ sway from side to side…

Whilst Wendy screamed incoherently, Horst chuckled to himself. “Oh what fun we are having, ja?” He said.

Others, though, were having less fun. Having been shown their ‘apartment’, former inmates of Sloshed Antlers Penitentiary, the square-eyed Yelli Smellow, Flob Cunundrum, and their red female parole officer, Gladys Pipe, were in the process of discovering that several amenities were yet to be added to the basic structure…

 

“No sink?” Yelli growled like the former felon he was. “How am I gonna brush my teeth before bed?”

However, Gladys had greater concerns. “I’m afraid you won’t be going to bed.” She informed Yelli. “No one has cut an opening for a bedroom door!”

Through the aforementioned wall, a trio of earplugs overheard this statement of fact…

“Yelli Smellow?” One of them hissed quietly. “This is my bedroom: I don’t want him or his kind in here with me.”

Things could have been worse though. Huget Johnson, who usually crewed aboard the KT Woo with his wife Betty, had discovered that his stairs were yet to be installed…

Unlike Yelli, he did actually possess a bedroom: he just couldn’t access it.

Better news included the discovery that Belle had found her false eyelashes, and was now in conversation with some new recruits to TWIT…

“Do you like your new quarters?” She inquired.

“It’s lovely,” one youth replied. “But not as lovely as you. Wanna kiss?”

A short while later, after Belle had re-joined with Margret, they both encountered Rupert Piles and his enormous 3D TV camera…

“When the tsunami struck, I had a choice.” Rupert told them, “It was either the contents of my underpants drawer; the file containing my home insurance; or my enormous 3D TV camera. The camera is lined with sound deadening insulation that makes it lighter than water:  so it was a no-brainer. I’m very disappointed that the decals have peeled off though. But it has a built-in Nul-Space generator and unlimited memory capacity, so I’m shooting everything for posterity.  Smile now: let’s see those pearlies.”

A short while later, members of the sewage workers union accosted Margret…

“Hey,” Marty Friedpants complained to her, “some people say we smell. Well if we do, that’s because, as sewage workers, it’s up to us to carry the plugmutt poop to the straw and mud depot, where other members of our union stir it together to make building materials. Whatta ya think?”

“Think?” Margret replied sharply. “What am I supposed to think? Rephrase the question in a way that I can comprehend and answer to the best of my ability.”

“Do we smell?” Marty demanded. “Or what?”

“Oh, what.” Margret answered positively. “Definitely what.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

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

The Epoch of Dung (part 5) An Earplug Adventure

The photo-novella featuring sentient earplugs continues apace…

Whilst this brief conversation was taking place in one time-line, in the other temporal hiccup time-line, the Tubo Di Tempo burst into crimson life…

Moreover, as the unimaginable energies abated, and the device began to glow coolly…

…the Greenhorn Girls stepped into an altered reality. As Poki Kitchener gasped in surprise, Margret Greenhorn said:

“Er, what’s with all the wattle and daub wall coverings?”

“Maybe we’ve landed in an exhibit that represents a period in history when they ran short of tech and had to resort to Twelfth Century European construction practices.” Delia suggested.

Belle, a dancer who often looked for details that other dancers might have missed, stared straight ahead in horror, and wailed:

“Flip me sideways – the smell…it’s ghastly. These aren’t just mud walls: they’ve got poop mixed in with them too. And not long ago either: they’re still fresh!”

As trans-dimensional dancing girls, it was very easy for the troupe to become collectively fixated upon one subject. Consequently they continued talking about the unexpected nature of the building though which they passed…

“They would need straw to bind the mud and excrement together.” Nokaks informed the others knowledgably from the rear. “Not something commonly found in the Museum of Future Technology, I would have thought.”

Ragi Half-Nelson had been reading up on the recent history of the museum – specifically since the arrival of the Earplug Brothers, which coincided with events becoming vastly more interesting and numerous:

“Well there was that old barn they hid the museum’s interceptor craft,” she reminded everyone. “You know – the saucers that defended the museum from Hyperspace Pirates in their earliest adventure.”

Margret was also quite well versed upon the subject of the Earplug Brothers – particularly Magnuss, whom she thought was ‘kinda cute’. She cast her mind back to the event and place to which Ragi referred…

“Of course,” she cried out in revelation. “The barn contained the remnants of marsh reeds. They must grow them in the arboretum!”

“But why would the Curator Elite waste time and energy on simple, non-teccy stuff like marsh reeds?” Wendy Rucksack inquired in her best ‘oh that’s so stupid’ voice. “I mean, like, this is the Museum of Future Technology after all. Duh!”

“To save money, of course.” Margret explained. “There’s a rather unpopular exhibit that includes a delightful hamlet that comprises several thatched cottages. I don’t know what era it’s supposed to represent, but it appears quite pastoral. Maybe it was here first, and they decided to keep it, despite the need for occasional re-thatching of the roofs. But, whatever, it’s obviously cheaper to grow the reeds in-house – rather than import them at exorbitant prices from outside.”

“Yes, of course,” Belle said as she examined the walls of the narrow alley, down which they now found themselves wandering, “that would explain so much. But where do they find their poop? The smell alone tells me this isn’t earplug doo-doos.”

“It’s a mystery alright.” Margret said with a sigh of exasperation. “We’ll just have to wait until we find someone to ask.”

By the strangest of coincidences, the alley down which they travelled did a quick left-right, and, in a moment, they found themselves facing a solitary female earplug…

None of them recognised her from their time-line, so they each tried a warm smile of welcome.

“Howdy,” Margret said before the mysterious earplug could take both fright and flight, “I’m Margret Greenhorn: these are the Greenhorn Girls.”

“I know!” The yellow earplug squealed with delight. “I’m Ninja Perkins: I’m your greatest fan. One day I wanna be in your troupe. I’m a really good dancer – and, look, I’m already wearing false eyelashes and mascara!”

Margret was suitably impressed: she had plans to expand the troupe’s repertoire, which would require at least two more dancers. Ninja certainly looked the part. “Lovely,” she said, “but first of all we’d like to know what the heck has happened in this time-line. Where is the Museum of Future Technology?”

At this, four more figures appeared from the shadows of a mud hut…

Margret recognised country singer / songwriter Billy Bromide from both her original quantum reality and the one to which she and the girls had escaped. Although two were strangers to her, she thought the earplug beside the doorjamb nearest Ninja Perkins might be a member of the mariachi band, El Custardo Y Los Natillas – so beloved, by the Future Museum of Mars curator, Frisby Mumph…

However, before she could wave daintily in his direction, Ninja was explaining everything:

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

The Epoch of Dung (part 3) An Earplug Adventure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The scene shifted to a remote external view…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

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

The Epoch of Dung (part 2) An Earplug Adventure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 1

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

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

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

…their workplaces…

In bars, restaurants, and walkways…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To which Cushions replied:

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

* Whatever that means.

The Epoch of Dung (part 1) An Earplug Adventure

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

Earplug Adventures: The Epoch of Dung

Tooty Nolan

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Prologue

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…when it activated spontaneously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

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

Forcing the Grey Matter to Activate

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

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

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

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

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?

Earplugs Without Pictures 15

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


© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AND…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Earplugs Without Pictures 14

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AND…

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

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

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

“You catch our drift?” Valentine inquired hopefully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Iceworld representatives nodded.

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

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

“Absolutely certain.” Marty called back.

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

©  Paul Trevor Nolan 2016

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

 

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 41)

Epilogue

Robots being robots – that is enjoying a state that is beyond the weakness known as prevarication – the robotic freighters that had been despatched with all the captive robots aboard, received an immediate recall…

Once more aboard the Tankerville Norris, Magnuss, Hair-Trigger, Tong-Tong, and the girls prepared for the flight back to Earth…

“Well, did you enjoy yourselves?” Magnuss called over his shoulder.

The girls weren’t quite sure how they should respond to such a question.

“Sort of.” Daisy said. “It certainly wasn’t what we were expecting when Gregor Arsentickler invited us to the Wide Blue Yonder that night.”

If there had been a rear view mirror on Magnuss’ console, he would have peered into it. “Gregor Arsentickler?” He inquired.

“Oh, I find him so charming and irresistible.” Ginger confessed.

“Yes,” Magnuss said coolly, “he certainly didn’t set off any of my alarms either. Tell me about how you ended up in the repair hangar in the Red Tower and inside the Drunkard’s Vomit.”

Fifteen minutes later, and their tale complete, the girls looked at Magnuss expectantly. However, instead of making any reference to the golden-eyed earplug, Magnuss pointed to the main view screen.

“Look what I found drifting in space. A fully functional submarine space freighter…”

“Hmmm,” Hair-Trigger added. “With no Incense Cones aboard, it looks like it’s waiting for a crew to take it back to Earth.”

Well, neither Ginger, Bunty, or Daisy would ever lay claim to being geniuses – or even genii – but they recognised an ill-disguised offer when they heard one…

Rushing forward they all cried out, “We’ll take it!”

“As long as I come along for the ride too.” Tong-Tong added.

Magnuss needed to utter no command. Hair-Trigger’s index finger went nowhere near a control surface or button. The ship knew what they wanted… 

“Right,” Magnuss said, once the ‘new’ crew had rematerialized and gathered their wits. “We’ll be taking the short-cut home – and a certain Gregor Arsentickler: you’ll have to traverse hyperspace. But I’m confident you’ve got that angle covered.”

For a few moments, the Tankerville Norris took up station beside the freighter…

“What are you going to name this ship?” Magnuss joked. “The Boozer’s Chuck-up?”

“The Inebriated Puke?” Hair-Trigger suggested with a smirk.

By their facial expressions, it was clear to the daring duo that the girls were undecided…

“We’ll think about it – on the way home.” Ginger said.

“Good idea.” Magnuss replied. “It should take you a good day and half travel time. Plenty of time to come up with a fantastic name. Signing off.”

The image of the entire Tankerville Norris replaced the view of its bridge and crew.

“Yeah,” Ginger replied – uncertain if Magnuss and Hair-Trigger could still hear her. “See ya.” 

“How about we name this ship ‘Big Black Bulbous Thing’?” Tong-Tong suggested. “It is accurate and descriptive and has artistic – nay poetic – merit.” 

“No it doesn’t, Tong-Tong.” Daisy said as her eyes scanned the bridge – as though really seeing for the first time. “You leave that clever, creative stuff to young earplugs like us.”

Aboard the Tankerville Norris

…Hair-Trigger looked straight ahead; but her attention centred upon her husband.

“You don’t really think they’re going to take that ship straight to Earth, do you Mags?”

“I’d be somewhat disappointed if they did, Hairy.” Magnuss replied through a half smile. “The Museum of Future Technology needs a new generation of heroes to protect it. We…my brothers, and us…aren’t going to be able to keep this up forever. Heroes are hard to find. I think we should consider Ginger, Bunty, and Daisy as heroes-in-training, don’t you? They’re some kind of Triple Threat. Once towards the museum: now for the museum. Let ‘em have their fun. When they’re ready, they’ll come back. We shouldn’t have to wait long. Light it up, Ship.”

A split second later…

…a space rift began to form.

“Adios.” Magnuss said – and the ship was gone…

Ginger turned away from the view screen to face her friends. “Now I was thinking,” she said, a hint conspiratorially, “that the fastest way home isn’t always the best way home.”

“I was thinking exactly the same thing.” Bunty said in response.

Daisy’s gaze was upon a faraway place. “Hmmm,” she hummed. “What I really fancy is a sausage roll. I wonder if we can find some of those snowballs near Ice Station Nobby.”

Ginger felt her stomach grumble. When had they last eaten? “Excellent idea, Daisy.” She said with glee. “Set a course for the Ice World.”

Tong-Tong’s eyes looked toward the ceiling. “I will fetch you some blueberry muffins from the galley while you do it.” It said. “Coffee with that?”

The End

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 40)

However, five minutes later – after the station robots had been re-programmed, and the official surrender of the Incense Cones was to be accepted – Pinkie had other ideas… 

“Hah,” he said above the din caused by someone knocking repeatedly upon the bulkhead door, “since you re-flashed the robot’s ECUs, they have no memory of our deal with them. And not only that – it erased all the CCTV footage too. You have no evidence against us. None whatsoever. And, further – your three underlings sabotaged our vessel and have left it adrift in space. You could be facing a substantial damage claim. What do you say to that?”

In response, Magnuss said, “Come in, come in, whoever you are.”

Moments later the Prolate Spheroid Incense Cones entered en masse

They’d heard everything through the non-insulated interior door.

“Hah, yourselves.” The Prolate commander yelled. “We have enough evidence against you to put you in jail for a million years. And that’s what we’re gonna do – you ugly conical excuses for Incense Cones!”

Magnuss smiled when he added, “And I’ve recorded every word you’ve said on my cell phone. Where you come from you don’t have cell phones, do you? They’re sneaky little bits of kit. Particularly good at snagging loud-mouths like you.”

He then instructed Ginger, Bunty, and Daisy to take their captives to the Incarceration Pods – the robot equivalent of jail…

…whilst he engaged the Prolate Spheroids in face-to-face conversation…

 He was to be disappointed with the result of their joint operation:

“If you think this makes us allies, you’re very mistaken, Earplug.” The Commander spat. “We may hate the Conicals with a passion – but we loath you silicone life forms a heck of a lot more. You’re spreading out into the Galaxy too fast for us. We don’t like it. You and your ugly robots are getting everywhere. So, be warned: we don’t totally condemn what the Conicals did – just the way they went about it. You keep pushing – we’ll push back. Take that back to your leaders. Did you get that on your cell phone too? Tell them to put it in their pipe and smoke it!”  

Perhaps if Magnuss had encountered such ‘specism’ a couple of years earlier, he might have retorted with an outburst such as, “Up your bum – you bulbous blob of carbon!” But he was older now – and the recipient of the wisdom of experience.

“Let me walk you to your ship.” He offered.

Meanwhile, the captive’s ignorance of Incarceration Pods had forced the girls into a display of their operation…

“But,” Daisy said as the lids clicked shut upon them, “it’s very important that you do what that sign over there tells you to: these seats have a very rough texture: they’ll play merry hell with your bruised botties. Er… could you let us out again now, please?”

By the time that the girls had made their escape from the pods, the Prolate Spheroids were within spitting distance of their docking port…

Magnuss hoped that the situation wasn’t beyond retrieval:

“Despite your heartfelt words back there,” he said, “I’d like to hold out an olive branch to all Incense Cones. I’m sure the Museum of Future Technology would love to do business with you. It could be mutually beneficial.”

“And they’d love you to come visit the museum some time too. Some life-time passes could be arranged.” Hair-Trigger added. “There’s always a welcoming cup of vile coffee at the Café Puke.”

“Think about it.” Magnuss said as he and Hair-Trigger turned and strode away…

Neither of them dared look back – it could be perceived as a sign of weakness: but they couldn’t help but hear the whispered discussion that followed their departure.

“Fingers crossed.” He said to Hair-Trigger.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures Spaceship Wallpaper: Departure

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

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

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 38)

Chapter 9

As the Tankerville Norris approached the Robotic Justice League’s space station, Bunty, Daisy, Tong-Tong, and Ginger took up stations at Ops…

They didn’t really need to – after all the ship could fly itself – but it made them feel useful. They quite enjoyed it too – even Tong-Tong, who was more used to serving croissants than operating (nominally) the proton torpedo launcher.

“Ship operating within normal parameters.” Daisy informed everyone knowledgably.

“Jolly good.” Magnuss replied – smiling at the idea that he was now playing the role of captain. “Now everyone get behind the Driving Chairs: we’re coming in hot.”

As the Tankerville Norris passed closest to the sole remaining freighter docked at the station, the matter transmitter burst into incandescent life…

Moments later, Ginger, Bunty, Daisy, and Tong-Tong reintegrated atomically in the freighter’s crystal room…

Aboard the station, the large white robot and its lieutenants dissolved into a cyber fit when the Crimson Alert sounded…

“What is happening?” Their leader demanded of any robot within earshot.

One pulled itself together sufficiently to reply, “the freighter is about to self-destruct. It is evident that the Incense Cones have decided that their plan has turned to dung and have elected to destroy the evidence of their misdemeanours against the earplugs by exploding their vessel – and us with it!”

To which the large white robot responded, “What? No! Quick, panic!”  

At the same time, but in the freighter’s control room, the Incense Cone commanders turned to face each other – although the pink one couldn’t quite make eye contact: after all, it had been his ultimate decision to activate the Self-Destruct…

“It has been a kind of honour serving with you, Pinkie.” The purple Incense Cone said.

“Yeah, the same to you, I guess, Purp.” Pinkie responded. “I’d say it’s been fun, but that would be untrue: it’s been really nerve-wracking.”

“Yeah,” Purp responded in a similar vein, “stressful, or what!”

“But not for much longer, eh?” Pinkie said miserably, despite the fact that he was trying to cheer himself up.

Purp inhaled deeply. “I suppose we’d better go back into the station and apologize to the robots for destroying them all.”

“S’pose.” Pinkie replied. Then, to the soldiery, he said, “Come on lads: chests out: stiff upper lip and all that. Quick march.”

If the Incense Cones had hoped to slip into the station unobtrusively, they were to be disappointed. Within seconds of their arrival upon the station decks, they were arrested: called ‘butt-wipes’; and separated into small groups and giving a good kicking…

Of course, what none of the Incense Cones, or the members of the Robotic Justice League, could possibly know was that Ginger, Bunty, and Daisy were using their telekinetic talents to re-energize the freighter’s crystal power plant…

“Excellent work, girls.” Tong-Tong congratulated his charges. “Time is tight: the ship is about to explode: let us make haste to the control room.”

So they did, and they enjoyed every moment of the mad dash through the empty vessel…

Once at their destination though, uncertainly reared its vile head…

“Oh flipping heck,” Ginger said to Bunty whilst Daisy overrode her own lockout of the Docking Port clamps, “do you think we’ve got enough time. P’raps we should call Magnuss for an emergency beam-out.”

Bunty didn’t reply immediately. In fact, she didn’t reply at all. This is because Daisy shouted, “Done it. Releasing the ship now. Full astern.”

Outside the station, CCTV cameras recorded the moment for posterity…

Then Daisy noticed a small button on the console. “Oh, look,” she said in a surprised tone. “It says ‘Auto-Destruct Abort’. Shall I press it?”

To which Ginger calmly replied, “Oh yes, Daisy, dearest. Like now!”

The result of this was…

“Whoo,” they said in perfect harmony, “neat!”

© 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 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 33)

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

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

And Chester was in negotiations with Mister Pong…

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

 

…and were very inexpensive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 32)

Five minutes later, and with the phone call forgotten, both heroes of the museum were surprised to receive a page via the public com-system…

“Ooh,” Hair-Trigger said as they slowed to regard the device, “perhaps that call was important.”

“I’ll take it here.” Magnuss replied.

A minute away – around the corner – Gregor watched as his screen burst into life.

The reporter and TV news-plug, Rupert Piles was passing when he overheard Gregor’s opening line:

“Oh, Mister and Missus Earplug, my name is Gregor Arsentickler. I’m an engineer for the museum, and…ah…I’ve got some catastrophic news. We’re all in danger. When I say ‘all’ I mean ‘all’ – as in ‘all’ earplugkind!”

Magnuss, Hair-Trigger, and several passers-by within earshot, were alarmed at the words that followed. For a brief moment, Magnuss considered the possibility that Gregor was engaged on some kind of intellectual hoax that had been designed to belittle the museum’s greatest heroes. However, when he caught a glimpse of Rupert Piles as he surreptitiously recorded the exchange upon his 3D TV camera, he recognised the validity of what he was hearing. Moreover, when Gregor showed him the interstellar e-mail, he knew that time was of the essence.

“Leave it with us, Mister Arsentickler.” He said. “We’re on the case.”

So it was a happy – or at least a satisfied – Gregor Arsentickler who broke the connection and headed towards the nearest Café Puke outlet for a congratulatory bowl of brownies and a huge mug of café con leche…

Around the corner, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger wasted no time informing Cushions Smethwyke…

“Incense Cones?” Cushions queried in astonishment. “This is remarkable: only two weeks ago we received a communication from a government official that represented one of two species of Incense Cone. Can it be mere coincidence that this situation arises so soon afterward?” She then answered her own question: “No, I think not.”

“Two species of Incense Cone?” Hair-Trigger inquired.

“Yes,” Cushions replied as she began punching buttons on her Omnipresent Scanner. “One species is conical in shape – hence Incense Cones. The other is rather more prolate spheroid shaped, with a flattened lower half – making them less obviously conical. It’s the latter Prolate Spheroid cones that have been in contact with us. You two start planning some sort of action: I’ll try contacting them: maybe they can explain the situation.”

Cushions then broke the connection, leaving Magnuss and Hair-Trigger slightly perplexed…

…and Rupert Piles believing that he was on the verge of the greatest news report of his career.

“So what’s the plan, Husband?” Hair-Trigger asked.

“No plan, Wife.” Magnuss replied with a smile. “We just get there, and worry about what we are going to do about it later. Summon the Tankerville Norris!”

Meanwhile, a very long way away…

…the pink Incense Cone informed the robots that controlled the space station that he was returning to his freighter.

“Keep up the good work.” He said to the commanding lieutenant. “Our freighter is a heavily disguised Man’o’War. We are going to pursue the earplug vessel and blow it to smithereens. You’ll know when we’ve caught them: listen for the bang.”

The robot didn’t bother to explain to the Incense Cone that sound didn’t propagate through the vacuum of space. Instead, it said, “Okeydokey. Have fun.”

Shortly the Incense Cones returned to their vessel’s control room…

However, when they turned on their primary control panel, it wouldn’t light up.

“Ugh?” The purple Incense Cone said in a fair facsimile of an earplug’s confused grunt.

Even the more technically minded members of the soldiery couldn’t re-initialise the ship’s power generation…

“Sorry, Sirs,” one of them said, “but it gets worse. The docking clamps won’t release, Right now we’re well and truly stuck!”

The officers looked at each other…

“You know what this means, don’t you, Perp?” The pink Incense Cone said.

“Yes, Pinkie,” Purp replied. “Well no, actually. What does it mean?”

“It means that we’ve been defrocked, as it were.” Pinkie explained. “Our plan is discovered – by our most hated enemy. If we don’t get outta here – we could be captured and shot as spies!”

“Oh flip!” Perp spoke another example of quintessential earplugism.

“Flip indeed.” Pinkie replied. “We need to get the flipping heck outta here. But first we’ll need to hide the evidence. This station, and all aboard, must be destroyed!”

Whilst these dreadful words were being uttered in one portion of space/time, in the region that contained Earth and the Museum of Future Technology, the Tankerville Norris was blasting off from its landing tower… 

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022