Tag Archives: fiction

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part forty-two)

Impressed as they were, Folie and Placebo decided to ignore the Automatic Pilot’s exuberance and, instead, call upon the services of Kyboshed…

…to show them the way back to the bridge…

“We’re really going to have to do something about these wandering corridors.” Folie said as he regained his seat. “A little fine-tuning is called for. Perhaps we should demand that they only move when there is a hull breach or life-support has failed in a particular section.”

“Yeah, that’s right.” Placebo agreed. “The cable ends have over-done it this time. What if you were desperate for a toilet, but it had been replaced by a Cafe Blurgh machine? The consequences could be humiliating.”

“I don’t even want to think about it.” Folie replied. “I’m going to have nightmares about that now.”

“Right then,” he added. “Ready to set sail again?”

“Go for it.” Placebo replied. “Give her some gas.”

A split second later…

…the bridge glowed mauve as the screen displayed the ship’s transition into hyper-space. But no sooner had its occupants adjusted their gussets and made themselves comfortable, when the view was replaced by an emergency transmission from the Museum of Future Technology…

“To anyone who can hear my voice, or see my huge gnashers chattering in trepidation; this is Cushions Smethwyke of the Museum of Future Technology. If you are in a position to assist I will personally give you a huge, sloppy kiss and hand over my entire collection of black and white photos of K’Plank the Space Wanderer’s bum.”

Cushions then paused to give any potential listeners the chance to sit up in their space seats and re-set their thought processes. This allowed Placebo the opportunity to say: “This sounds’ major: I wonder if we’re in any position to help.”

But any reply that Folie might have made was stifled when Cushions resumed. She told the sorry tale of the Future Museum of Mars’ inevitable doom – and perhaps that of the indigenous people too. She concluded with: “So if you think you’re able to help us out, get here as quickly as you can: we’re really up kaka creek without an outboard motor!”

As the screen cleared itself of the residual image of the MoFT’s Chief Curator, the boys were out of their seats…

“Flaming heck, Placebo,” Folie yelled, “we gotta do something. I just don’t know what a recently re-fitted old tub like the Gravity Whelk can do!”

“Yeah,” Placebo responded as he fought to tear his gaze from yet another majestic cosmic event that he was about to miss, “it’s a sod, isn’t it?”

But, at that precise moment Folie and Placebo weren’t the only sentient beings with problems…

…as museum engineers were out searching for some customers who had drowned their sorrows with alcohol and had then, in an inebriated state, decided to go outside to ‘tinkle in the snow’.

“No, Brighton,” Treacle Fagging said with a sigh, “you won’t find them up there. Keep your gaze in a downward direction.”

“But,” Brighton Briezy replied, “Reports state that they had eaten several bags of chilli and hot pepper chips. In this reduced gravity, I thought it possible that they might have broken wind so violently that they were cast up into the air.”

“Fascinating theory.” Treacle mumbled, “Which is why I am a rocket engineer; and you twiddle with banjo bolts in the back of coffee machines.”

And in the Hydroponics Bay inside the Future Museum of Mars…

…William of Porridge arrived to find Lillie Whitewater looking even more glum and uncertain than normal.

“What ails thee, fair mistress?” He said eloquently and with a lilt of uncharacteristic humour in his tone.

“Oh, William,” she groaned, “why am I so insignificant? Why am I so uncertain about everything I do and say? Why do I throw myself at ageing thespians willy-nilly? Why did I think that growing seeds in our customer’s urine could possibly work? Look, as usual, my latest experiment is an abject failure. I’m a failure: I couldn’t hack it as bridge crew aboard the K T Woo, and I can’t hack it here either. I’m a miserable failure: I should be despatched back to Worstworld upon the first ship going in that direction. I’m an undesirable alien!”

William was shaken by this outburst. “Oh, Lillie,” he managed, “Flipping heck. No-no-no – you’re not a failure. And as regards to being undesirable…well that’s utter nonsense.”

He then moved closer, a manoeuvre which, had he taken a moment to consider it, he would have not made. But having done so, he had to say something deep and meaningful: “Um,” he began awkwardly, “do you remember that time, in the red corridor, when you fluttered your eyelashes at Sir Dodger?”

Of course Lillie remembered. She said as much – before adding: “And he walked right on by without seeing me. See? I am insignificant!”

Now that William had started down an avenue of thought and behaviour unknown to him, he would not be dissuaded by Lillie’s negativity. “And do you remember what I said at the time?”

Lillie thought back…

“Yes, ” she answered. “You said – and I quote: ‘Oh do shut up’, which, when I think about it, was rather waspish of you.”

“No, Lillie,” William said with unaccustomed tenderness, “after that.”

“You said that Sir Dodger could have commented on my appearance.” Lillie replied without hesitation. “You said: ‘ What a git’. You then continued with: ‘At least he could have said, ‘how do you do; might I say how delightful you look in that tatty old pressure suit’, but he didn’t. That’s actors for you!‘ Correct?”

William looked at his colleague with admiration. “What a memory!” He exclaimed. “Now that’s something you could put to good use. I’ve never seen the like before!” He then took a step further than he would ever have considered possible: “And do you recall what you said to me?”

Lillie gulped – before replying with: “Do I really look delightful in my tatty old pressure suit, William? But you never answered me.”

It was William’s turn to gulp. “Well I am now.” He said quietly. “And the answer is ‘yes’.”

For a moment William thought that he had made a breakthrough, but, after a few seconds’ consideration, Lillie said: “You’re just saying that to cheer me up. Thank you, William, you’re very kind. Now please leave me alone: I’ve got a bottle of bleach in the cupboard: I’m going to try dipping seedlings in that. You never know – it’s Martian bleach: it could be just be the growth-medium we’re looking for.”

So it was a defeated and exasperated William who departed the Hydroponics Bay…

“Females,” he growled to himself. “You bare your soul to them – and they think you’re just being nice!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021