Tag Archives: photo-novels

An Empty Shampoo Bottle and a 20 Second Giff

Remember Triple Threat: Hell Unleashed? The awful 20 second giff that featured a trio of earplugs destroying something with a laser cannon? Here’s a shot from it…

Well I rather fancied writing an Earplug Adventure that featured them…

A story about a bunch of accident-prone idiots getting into deep shit trouble, then finding redemption by saving the day (of course). But I couldn’t think of a story line – until I finished an interestingly-shaped bottle of shampoo. After drying (what remains of) my hair, I took the top and the bottom off the bottle. I then delved into my many boxes of plastic bits and pieces, which included other shampoo bottle tops, catheter nozzles and a wind-up flashlight. Shortly I introduced the separate parts to a tube of superglue. The result – after adding a coat of black paint – was this…

 

Too matt to see clearly? Check this out…

It’s a submarine/space ship freighter. Yes, a space ship that can travel under the sea. What could three accident-prone idiots do with that if they stowed away, then managed to lose the crew, and had to take control themselves? Well the sky – and the depths – are the limit…

The story will be titled Triple Threat. The principal  character names are Bunty Bridgewater, Ginger Slack, and Daisy Woodnut. The ship/sub, at present, remains unnamed. But I’m confident something suitably ridiculous will pop into my mind when the need arises. Watch this space!

 

 

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 27)

So this is it. If you haven’t already downloaded the complete story (and consequently know what’s going to happen), this is the final extract. It’s been a long road to here, and you’ve all stayed the course impressively – except the ones who haven’t. You deserve an award. Well I suppose the fact that you can download this tale, in its entirety free-of-charge, is an award in itself. But enough of the waffle: let’s get to business!

“We both promised ourselves that if we ever met Bunk-Bunk Bunson we would kick ‘him’ right up the arse.” Magnuss informed her. “And, sorry, but we’re both earplugs of our word. Despite the fact that you are a ‘her’, not a ‘him’, you are still going to be punished. Hairy – you go first.”

Hair-Trigger had never kicked a female up the arse before – especially a clairvoyant heroine. So as Bunson grimaced and awaited the agony of well-aimed space sandals, all Hair-Trigger could bring herself to muster was a quick jab with the knee to a single buttock…

 

But Magnuss, who had grown up in a large family that had enjoyed a history of arse-kicking contests, made a far better attempt…

…and booted her along the corridor.

“Oh sorry,” he said as he went to Bunson’s aid…

…”the gravity of Tah-Di-Tah is only nine-tenths Earth normal. I just don’t know my own strength here.”

Bunson assumed that she would have a large black bruise in the morning; but she didn’t mind at all. She’d been kicked up the arse by earplugs who had risked everything to save Tah-Di-Tah. And she was a hero herself. Heroes should have bruises: they were a badge of honour. So it was a cheerful trio who walked together along the myriad corridors of the lost village…

As time passed they spoke of a million and one things. They were on the brink of suggesting their next course of action, which might have been a visit to the Tah-Di-Tah branch of Café Puke, when – for Magnuss and Hair-Trigger – the decision was taken out of their hands…

…and they found themselves back aboard the Tankerville Norris

Hair-Trigger, in particular, was very annoyed…

“Thank you very much indeed, Ship.” She bellowed. “We didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to Bunk-Bunk.”

“True,” the ship spoke for only the second time since they embarked upon their honeymoon, “but she is a clairvoyant: she knows what you wanted to say. And in doing so, it is done. Now fasten your safety belts…

…we, and the Chuck Winker, are about to launch. Nothing genteel, you understand: we’d like to impress the locals before we leave.”

Moments later…

…the two Scroton/Tah-Di-Tah hybrids blasted vertically into the sky. Not that Magnuss and Hair-Trigger noticed: it had been hours since their last visit to the toilet, and they were too busy running to the one behind Engineering…

“That’s another thing,” Hair-Trigger grumbled as she noticed the absence of the ‘new’ signage, “why did Bunk-Bunk have to put the toilet so far from the bridge? For a psychic genius, she sure was one dumb female.”

Epilogue

But Hair-Trigger’s mood couldn’t remain dark. She was smiling when they returned to the bridge…

“You know,” she said, “this is beginning to feel like home. We’ll have to bring your brothers along next time.”

They had just enough time to sit themselves down before the ships made a spectacular fly-past…

…before hurtling up into space. Of course the stripped-down Chuck Winker took the lead as they battled the planet’s gravity well…

During their long conversation, Bunk-Bunk had brought Magnuss and Hair-Trigger up to date concerning the Seventh Cavalry’s role in the battle, so they put in a ship-to-ship call…

“Gentlemen…and lady.” Magnuss said as his image appeared upon the Chuck Winker’s bridge holo-screen, “you have my eternal gratitude. If you hadn’t slowed down that fleet, we would never have found the lost village – and Tah-Di-Tah would have been obliterated. When we get back to the museum, I’m going to have words with Major Leftfoot Badger. I’m going to suggest he make you all officers. He should be proud of you.”

The cavalry-plugs were a little lost for words.

Wetpatch found one or two: “Well thank you kindly, young fella. I guess, before you mosey on back to the museum, you’ll be taking that honeymoon of yours?”  

“We certainly shall.” Hair-Trigger replied…

…”Now you get yourselves safely back to Fort Balderdash: there’ll always be a place in the Museum of Future Technology for people like you. You tell Cushions Smethwyke I said that.”

With that they made their farewells; and, as instructed, the Chuck Winker blasted for Earth…

Suddenly the newlyweds felt rather alone…

“Well?” Hair-Trigger asked as she leaned towards Magnuss. ”Where to, Captain?”

“Pick a direction.” He replied. “Any direction – just as long as it’s not Earth. “We’re on our honeymoon: we’re going to do honey moony things!”

With that the Tankerville Norris rotated upon its axis to a random position…

…and Magnuss hit the ‘Go’ button…

The End

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Don’t forget to return for the next thrilling Earplug Adventure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah – Complete and Completely Free!

As is my usual practice, the complete e-book becomes available to the general public prior to the posting of the final episode. Why I do it that way, I just don’t know. And, of course, since I no longer publish them on Lulu-com in EPUB form, they are not (strictly speaking) proper e-books. But PDF is a reasonable compromise, and I’ve not heard anyone complaining. So here it is. Just click on the cover image to unleash the file, which you can either read on-line or download for later consumption.

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 26)

I thought the story would stretch to 25 episodes. I thought wrong: welcome to episode 26…

Magnuss didn’t like the sound of that. In fact he didn’t like it so much that he stopped farting entirely. “Control?” He queried. “Control a black hole? Methinks you’ve lost your marbles, you mad green earplug.”

“I’m unfamiliar with the term.” His host replied. “But regard our would-be nemesis. They are targeted. The Guide Line points the way.”

Magnuss thought it best to reserve judgement on what he was seeing. As much as he didn’t like the idea of mere earplugs trying to control the most powerful force in the Galaxy, he liked the idea of merciless rampaging aliens even less. “Oh, excellent.” He said. But he didn’t really mean it.

Then he quickly reversed his opinion. Something was happening to the leading ship of the alien fleet. It was looking decidedly bloated. And the formation of ships behind it appeared to be twisting out of shape…

“The Second Line.” Fake Nellie whispered reverentially. “The Line of Force.”

Even Hair-Trigger’s nerve broke when the singularity seemed to fill their view…

“Please tell me you’ve done this before.” Magnuss pleaded.

“We completed three thousand simulations before the catastrophe when the resulting tsunami overwhelmed us.” Their host replied.

“Oh good.” He said with a tremulous voice. “I’m so relieved.” And he didn’t really mean that either. Especially when the black hole began rotating…

Both he and Hair-Trigger had just enough time to yell, “What the flip?” when, in a blink of an eye, the alien horde were sucked away at an impossible velocity…

…and all that remained was good, honest, regular outer space…

“Nature may abhor a vacuum,” Hair-Trigger said into the resulting silence – before cheering could be heard from along the corridor somewhere…

…”But I love it – especially when it’s not full of antagonistic space ships.”

Of course, the vast area immediately around the site of the Horns of Guff and its power receivers was now a wasteland…

…but the camera chose to ignore that: and, instead displayed the nearby city, in which the lights were coming back on…

“That was quite a show.” A relieved Magnuss said. “I hope you’ve put that singularity back to bed. By the way, you’ve never mentioned it; but what’s your name?”

“Haven’t I?” The pale green earplug responded. “How remiss of me.”

“Well?” Hair-Trigger snapped in her best demanding tone. “What is it?”

“I can’t remember.” The nameless one replied. “I dreamed so much in hibernation that I’ve become utterly confused. I feel that I am so many people. Reality and fantasy have fused. I know what I am, but I don’t know who I am. But, changing the subject to something that doesn’t trouble me in the least: I noticed that your space ship managed to land safely before the onslaught. I’m quite familiar with its configuration. In fact we have a very nice scale model of it in one of our workshops: would you like to see it?”

Some of Magnuss’ thoughts of earlier in the day returned. He too was a little confused; but he recalled thinking about time and space and all those other things that Madame Nellie had said, and the words displayed in Engineering. There might be an explanation for it all in the offing. “Yes.” He said. “We would – very much.” 

Two minutes later, having traversed almost uncountable corridors, several of which had breached and were open to the air, they entered the required workshop…

“But…but it’s the Tankerville Norris!” Hair-Trigger blurted. “How?”

To his host, Magnuss said: “Who designed this ship?”

The reply was instantaneous and filled with wonder and delight: “Why…why… it was me. I designed this ship. And…and…if I can just spot the identification plaque, I should be able to find my name on it.”

“No need.” Magnuss said as he reached out with a restraining hand. “I know who you are. Your name is Bunson.”

Bunson’s face lit up. But as they turned away from the scale model…

 …she became more serious, and said: “I am Bunson. How can you possibly know that?”

“Because,” Magnuss explained, “your disembodied sub-consciousness has been travelling around far beyond your buried village. You’ve insinuated your mind into the bodies of people – not only on this world, but others too. You have inhabited an earplug upon the planet Scroton – a world that didn’t even exist when you went into hibernation. You gifted the design of that ship to the Scrotonites, who in turn gave the finished article to my wife and I, and which led us to Tah-Di-Tah, where we encountered a clairvoyant by the name of Madame Nellie. Somehow your knowledge was transferred to these people – your likeness too. Presumably this was done by facial contortion exercises in front of the bathroom mirror. But, whatever, you led us to this place in its time of greatest need. I don’t know what talent allowed you to these things, but I’m glad you have it.”

“Yeah.” Hair-Trigger concurred. “And there’s something else too. You’re not called Bunson anymore – at least on Scroton. You’re Bunk-Bunk Bunson: and, like it or not, you’re a hero.”

“Welcome to the club.” Magnuss added. “Unfortunately there is a penalty for being Bunk-Bunk Bunson. Not everything about the Tankerville Norris is as perfect as you would have us believe. For instance, we can’t see out the front window.”

“Yeah.” Hair-Trigger growled. “And I can’t believe that you – as a female – designed the ladies toilet. It’s unspeakably bad.”

Bunson wasn’t prepared for condemnation. “Ooh,” she managed…

But worse news was to follow.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 24)

It has been a lot of fun creating The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah, and I’m just sorry that it has to end. But end it must, and this is one of the final episodes. We’re nearly done here. Booooo. Anyway, enjoy the remnants…

Chapter 8

Whilst revelation piled upon revelation inside the excavated fiord, far away from Tah-Di-Tah the crew of the Chuck Winker had quickly recognised the fact that they had bitten off way more than they could chew. Every weapon they had was being brought to bear upon a foe so numerous that they were beyond counting…

And the Tankerville Norris had sustained so much damage that it was forced to flee back to Tah-Di-Tah. It fairly fell through the atmosphere – spilling drive plasma as it did so…

Further, although the cavalry were accounting for many of the shots aimed at them…

…some missed completely, and now rained deadly fire down upon the surface of Tah-Di-Tah…

One stray shot, in particular, almost caught the Tankerville Norris a potentially crushing blow as it raced across the surface at almost zero altitude…

To their credit, some of the local population responded well to the Tankerville Norris’ original request for military assistance. A farmer’s co-operative had banded together to pack as much phosphate-based fertilizer as they could into an old, dilapidated space-tug. When it was full, they lit a fuse and launched it at the incoming space fleet…

It was a bold initiative by a bunch of tractor-drivers; but ultimately it was doomed to failure. No sooner had it passed through the clouds, when a stray shot caught it amidships…

“Bugger,” one of the members of the farmer’s co-operative was heard to utter, “If I want my fields to deliver a decent crop, come harvest time, I’m gonna have to use excrement on ‘em. And there’s only me and the wife!”

The situation in space was little better. In fact it was awful. An alien energy beam knocked out the Chuck Winker’s main armament…

For those on the bridge, this was nothing less than calamitous. Wetpatch looked to Jo. “It has been an honour serving with you, Jo.” He said gravely.

A terrified Jo looked back. “What you mean, during our time in the cavalry in general; or this little escapade?”

“Both,” Wetpatch answered. “And now we’re sitting ducks – just waiting for the coup de grace.”

“We could always turn off the lights and adopt stealth mode and creep away unnoticed.” Scroda Hootner suggested.

It was an excellent suggestion: so they did…

…and the aliens were left shooting at shadows.

“Fine cavalry-plugs we are,” Wetpatch grumbled in the subdued lighting, “sitting around in the dark. And I never even got to shout ‘Charge!’”

“And I forgot to pack my bugle.” Miguel admitted, somewhat shamefaced.

“What, so now we just hang around and hope all the bad guys go away?” Jo complained. “There must be some way to get to the planet. Can we hoist a solar sail or something?”

“Well we could try something called The Dark Energy Drive.” Jollie Huggup said as he peered at his darkened read-outs. “I’ve got the start button here – I think.”

Moments later…  

…the Dark Energy Drive kicked in, and they departed the region of space behind a ‘smoke’ screen of exotic particles.

An hour later…

“Tah-Di-Tah coming up, Wetpatch.” Miguel Angel-Grinder announced. “No obvious planetary defences. Want us to go in on the night side?”

With the alien fleet just an hour behind them, Wetpatch considered this suggestion the wisest course of action…

“Sure,” he said, “but we’ll have to turn the lights up a bit: I don’t wanna press the wrong buttons and do something really stupid like disconnect the Infinite Reality Drive or eject the lavatory.”

But, having done so, they became aware of an important fact…

“It’s the sodding fleet!” Jo yelled with despair. “They must have given up shooting at nothing and followed us here!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 22)

The end is close, I can feel it in my bowels. Still, enjoy it while it lasts…

Meanwhile, in the remnants of the buried village, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger had discovered a strange room that seemed to defy the laws of physics…

“Not only the laws of physics,” Hair-Trigger grumbled, “but the laws of aesthetics too.”

“It could be the result of a radiation leak.” Magnuss suggested nervously. Then, to cheer himself up, he added: “Alternatively it could be a piece of equipment that has turned on automatically when it detected our presence, but because it has been sitting idle for centuries, needs re-calibrating.”

This was a much more palatable idea, but Hair-Trigger didn’t really care one way or the other: the sight of it just made her nauseous. So it was with great relief that they crossed it in good order and quick time, and exited through a handy doorway…

“Ah, this is more like it.” Magnuss said as Hair-Trigger gave the previous room a quick backward glance of contempt. “This looks more earpluggish.”

But, as the blue corridor opened on to (what Magnuss presumed was) a large thoroughfare…

…he felt a little less certain of his last statement. And Hair-Trigger absolutely hated it. But as they found themselves falling into a strolling motion, the similarity to a busy city street occurred to them…

“This is kind’a nice.” Magnuss said as he smiled for the first time in yonks. “In its hey-day, this must have been a very popular place. You can imagine all the crowds at night – out on the town and going to shows and restaurants and things like that.”

Hair-Trigger wasn’t convinced. “This was a scientific community – full of egg-heads and people with larger-than-average brains – thinking up really advanced stuff and then making it work.”

Magnuss wasn’t going to argue: maybe they were both right. But then he thought that they both might be wrong too, because…

…they found themselves standing in front of a huge video wall that featured them – as seen in Madame Nellie’s tent. There was no audio, but both earplugs could recall their earlier words.

“Magnuss,” Hair-Trigger said with a voice that sounded uncharacteristically small and uncertain, “how is this possible?”

Magnuss had to think about that. To think most efficiently he imagined himself standing in the bright glow of a spotlight…

But as he allowed his mind to wander into realms of fantasy he ‘felt’ the touch of a mind. It was suffuse and indistinct – but, he was certain, very real. He also knew that this mind linked the present Tah-Di-Tah with the world it was pre-Tah-Di-Tah. That the mind existed in both eras – or, he corrected himself, had existed in both eras. It was a bit confusing, and when he returned to the moment, he couldn’t put his thoughts into words. So he decided to ‘follow his nose’. And his ‘nose’ led him into a dark red corridor…

…which Hair-Trigger found infinitely more pleasing aesthetically; but had Magnuss feeling pangs of trepidation. Where was he leading them? What was he leading them into? But whatever it was, he felt certain that this was the correct route. And when they turned the corner into another corridor…

…he couldn’t help but notice that the redness had lessened. Could it be that they were approaching the end of their search?  And when they reached the end of that corridor they came to a brief ante-room…

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Magnuss asked his new wife.

This was not the sort of question that Magnuss would have asked Hair-Trigger previously. Perhaps it was the fact that she was now his spouse that made him feel the need to be more protective. Hair-Trigger, in her wisdom, recognised this:

“Oh you silly husband,” she said pleasantly, “of course I do. It’s what I do – remember?”

So, without further ado, they entered a room that, at first, they thought was a laboratory. But when they looked more closely…

“Oh-no,” Hair-Trigger wailed in horror and defeat, “it’s a mausoleum. We’re too late. A thousand years too late!”

But Magnuss thought not…

“Hang on, Hairy.” He said. “This isn’t a place of the dead: it’s a hibernation centre. When they realised that the village was going to be submerged, everyone chose to go into suspended animation – hopeful that they would be retrieved before too long.”

Hair-Trigger was relieved by this: she hated decay in every form – especially earplug form. But as Magnuss went to investigate a panel that he thought looked promising, Hair-Trigger thought that the hibernation pod beside which she stood smelt ‘funny’…

“I think this one’s dead,” she said carelessly. ”It honks something terrible!”

But whilst Magnuss failed to reply, Hair-Trigger was shocked when a face appeared upon the pod’s occupant…

“Magnuss,” she yelled shrilly, “strike what I just said: we’ve got a breather.”

Magnuss was doubly shocked by this. Not only had he failed to anticipate that one of the pods might be faulty and allow it’s occupant to rouse from permanent slumber: but, within his mind he could also feel the tendrils of the ethereal intelligence strengthen…

Putting two and two together he surmised that the rousing earplug and the mental awareness were one and the same. So he reinvigorated his attempts to understand the control panel that he believed operated the hibernation pods.

“We’ve got to get that earplug out of there before he or she dies.” He cried.

He then added: “Stupid machine – work!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 21)

It’s shoot-’em-up time in an Earplug Adventure. Continue…

Blast, whoosh, fizz, brruuum, or whatever noise Gravitonic Multiplicitors make in the silence of outer space. Unfortunately for the attacking fleet’s outriders, they quickly discovered that the powerful gravitonic waves tore their ship apart and exposed their atomic motors. So this particular ship did what any decent atomic-powered vessel that has been rent asunder would do…

It exploded in fine fashion. But others on the leading edge of the armada were quick to react. Within seconds the Tankerville Norris came under attack…

When the engineers of Scroton had built the Tankerville Norris, it had not been intended as a ship-of-war: it was a honeymoon barge for heaven sake! Consequently any defensive screening was of the Meteorite-Deflecting kind. Directed energy beams were a tad beyond its design parameters. But the Scrotonites – being typical Scrotonites – had over-engineered just about everything aboard (with the exception of the forward viewing window), so the ship took the first blow really quite well. Well it didn’t blow up or anything extravagant. In fact it turned on a veritable dime and let rip with the Gravitonic Multiplicitor in the direction of its assailant…

The result wasn’t unexpected. With gravity waves so intense and powerful, even a near miss was good enough…

But the Tankerville Norris was only one ship against a horde. Long before the emitter could re-charge, the aliens had targeted the dangerous vessel…

Ordinarily a glancing blow could have been shrugged off, and tiny repair robots despatched to plug the myriad holes with their inflating buttocks: but a sustained barrage…

…was another thing entirely. There simply were not enough robots with big enough buttocks to do the job. If the Tankerville Norris had been the kind of ship that talks to itself during periods of high stress, it might have said: “Ooh-er, I must agree with what Hair-Trigger said about the cavalry: I do so hope they come charging over the hill – soon – like now. Help!”

Well, it seemed that reality wasn’t quite as different to the Tankerville Norris’ fantasy as one might imagine. Not far away – on a Galactic scale, that is – the Chuck Winker was making very good time indeed…

Progress was of the rapid kind. Sitting in the co-pilot’s seat beside Staff Sergeant Wetpatch Wilton, Staff Sergeant Jo Frayzer…

…said: “Remind me again: how is it that we know we’re on the right course?”

To which Wetpatch looked across to cavalry-plug Jollie Huggup at the round black device that no one had bothered naming, and said: “Well, Jollie?”

Jollie was too busy studying his readouts to turn around to face his superiors; so he shouted instead: “We followed the Tankerville Norris’ ion trail until it stopped at a recently disintegrated planet: then we extrapolated a likely course for a pair of newlyweds. Tah-Di-Tah seemed most likely – especially since Nigel has an account with the tallest hotel there. Then, more recently, the telepathic talents of the Chuck Winker detected Scroton-derived anxiety waves from somewhere between our intended destination and…ah…us…here…now.”

“Yeah,” Cavalry-plug, Miguel Angel-Grinder, on the opposite piece of futuristic equipment, concurred. “We’re nearly on top of it. We should be there momentarily. Preparing to exit hyperspace – at your command, Wetpatch.”

Naturally Wetpatch, being a well-trained cavalry-plug, responded professionally. “Saddle up,” he bellowed, “and let’s head out!”

A split second later the Chuck Winker re-entered regular space/time. Its speed was such that it all but tore surrounding space into overstressed fragments. The Galaxy itself seemed to convulse…  

“Flipping heck,” Miguel Angel-Grinder erupted as he hid behind the pilot’s chairs, “will ya look at that!”

“I am.” Wetpatch replied. “But what am I looking at?”

Fortunately for everyone, Miguel had been replaced at the rectangular screen thing by Cavalry-plug Scroda Hootner. She said: “Whacking great big explosion, Sir. Looks like a ship exploded. Very likely the result of a stupid accident or a space battle.”

“I’d prefer the former.” Jo responded.

“More likely the latter.” Jollie Huggup replied. “The Chuck Winker continues to receive Scroton-derived anxiety waves; it’s not the Tankerville Norris in a million pieces out there. But it is in deep kaka. We must assume that it is under attack and is defending itself – spectacularly – as any Scrotonite ship would.”

Wetpatch ruminated for a nanosecond. “If we’re not going too fast and are likely to over-shoot, I think we should join this battle.”

Fortunately for the Staff Sergeant’s plan, the Chuck Winker – although still producing a relativistic-bow wave…

…was in a position to assist the Tankerville Norris.

“Right then,” Wetpatch said as he cleared his throat and another alien vessel exploded in the distance, “I suppose we’d better go to Red Alert.”

Cavalry-plug, Eustace Lipps, looked up from where he was fiddling with the massive air-con unit, and said: “I think they call it Crimson Alert aboard ship. Or am I being overly pedantic?”

“Crimson Alert it is then.” Wetpatch yelled…

…”and if anyone can find something that resembles a powerful weapon – fire it!”

Jo spotted a small, insignificant button on his pilot’s desk. He pushed it experimentally…

“Well done, Jo.” Wetpatch cheered as the closest alien ship ceased to exist. “Can anyone better that?”

Inspired by Jo’s lead, Eustace slammed the ball of his hand against a similarly minute toggle on the air-con control…

The cavalry had indeed come charging over the hill.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 20)

I thought that by the time that Part 20 arrived, the story would be almost complete. Well tough luck: there are several more episodes before the finale and an inevitable epilogue. So settle down and read the latest…

The ship then operated entirely autonomously, and lifted skyward once more. From there it raced to the city, where it transmitted everything it knew of the situation and requested any available military help with fending off the approaching alien invasion fleet…

As the Tankerville Norris gained the upper atmosphere…

…the captain of the SS Glob contacted it.

“I’m no armed merchantman,” He said, “But I keep a few demolition charges aboard – just in case I need to blow up docking clamps on backward planets that think they can hold the Glob to ransom. I’ll fire those: maybe they can plough you a metaphorical furrow through space.”

Of course the Tankerville Norris was only too pleased to accept any help. “Yeah, go for it.” It responded in a fair facsimile of Magnuss’ voice.

A split second later…

…the improvised missiles were on their way. And aboard the empty Tankerville Norris, the main screen displayed a direct hit upon an approaching scout vessel…

Unfortunately no one was there to see it, so no one cheered hysterically.

“Never mind,” the ship said to that same no one at all, “I’ve recorded it: I can play it back to Magnuss and Hair-Trigger later. That’s assuming that I’m not reduced to cosmic detritus first, of course.”

It then shifted into gear…

…and took off like a kitten with a laundry peg on its tail.

Meanwhile, in the recently uncovered village of ancient scientific genii…

…Magnuss and Hair-Trigger peered from the entrance of a cave, which might have been an interior corridor in a previous era, and tried to make sense of what they were looking at. Sadly they couldn’t, so they turned inward once more…

And that was a bit puzzling too. But further into the cave/corridor, artificial construction techniques became apparent. As did huge, scary cobwebs…

The appearance of obvious technology should have filled both young earplugs with intellectual joy: but they couldn’t help wondering after the size of the spider that made those webs!

With no other course, but forward, open to them, they moved on – which must have triggered a sensor or some such, because a light briefly flickered upon a wall panel…

Both earplugs reached the same conclusion simultaneously. As one they said: “Motion detector. We’ve been spotted. The place is coming to life!”

And indeed it was. Lights were coming on everywhere…

This left them both filled with wonder. But they felt slightly less ‘wonder-full’ when the lighting altered and took on an increasingly crimson hue…

“Intruder Alert, do you think, Hairy?”  Magnuss conjectured.

Hair-Trigger might have concurred…

…but a worsening in the level of illumination made her squeak with nervousness instead. And if she had known what was to follow, she might have broken wind with anticipation of being scared silly…

“Help me,” an ethereal voice accompanied the apparition, “I’m all alone. I don’t know where I am. I seem to be disembodied. I also think I might be going potty!”

How Magnuss and Hair-Trigger responded to this sudden and unexpected stimulus must always be their secret; because, at that very moment – up in space…

…the Tankerville Norris was preparing itself for a strafing run on the alien fleet. With no proton torpedoes aboard, the only offensive armament that the ship possessed was the Gravitonic Multiplicitor. But, perhaps this was all the royal blue craft required. If the device could uncover a sunken village in two seconds flat, and move an entire planet from its orbit (the ship ruminated very quickly) what could it do to an unsuspecting alien space ship? Of course, there was only one way to answer that question.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 19)

So now we return to the main thrust of the story…

Chapter 7

Meanwhile, just above the atmosphere of Tah-Di-Tah…

…the Tankerville Norris was positioning itself above the site of the former fiord. Inside Magnuss and Hair-Trigger watched as the beautiful planet revolved beneath them…

“Oh, it’s so lovely.” Hair-Trigger warbled in open admiration. “Look at it, Maggie: isn’t that worth saving?”

“Indeed it is.” Magnuss agreed. “So let’s get down to Engineering and try to figure out how we’re going to use the Gravitonic Multiplicitor.”

A short while later…

“I don’t understand.” Magnuss said in puzzlement at the lack of bolts holding the device to the deck. “How are we supposed to un-do bolts that aren’t there?”

In response, the ship spoke directly through Hair-Trigger…

“This isn’t the Gravity Whelk, you know. This is an up-dated version of the Gravitonic Multiplicitor. It stays in situ. So you just select your co-ordinates, and get the heck out of here until the job is done.”

So it was a very relieved married couple that set about the task of choosing exactly where to point the miraculous device. But when Hair-Trigger returned from visiting the toilet, she was less than impressed with Magnuss when she found him watching an episode of Destination: The Stars

“Don’t fret, darling.” Magnuss said nonchalantly, “it’s all done. Let’s retire to the bridge.”

So, as the ship adopted a stare-down position…

…they did just that…

…whilst the ship targeted a location that lay between the land and the sea. Then, without any further communication the Gravitonic Multiplicitor fired its ravaging energies through the main deflector dish…

Quickly the adjacent atmosphere erupted with light and energised dust particles…

…and the beam of energy tore into the centuries of silt, crud, and other soil-like stuff that defied description…

…where it blew it high into the air, which caused all sorts of weather-related anomalies that created (amongst other phenomena) vast electrical storms. And it was into one of these that the Tankerville Norris plunged as it raced to see the results of the Gravitonic Multiplicitor’s labours…

And, just as Magnuss was beginning to feel the early on-set of motion sickness, something wonderful appeared on the main holo-viewer…

The village was revealed in all of its strange violet glory…

“Fantastic.” Magnuss cried out with glee. But then thought he saw an insurmountable problem: “Well there it is: but what are we supposed to do with it? How do we get down there?”

The ship responded in the only way it knew…

“Urk!” Magnuss managed before atomic dissolution. And he repeated himself when…

…he and Hair-Trigger re-assembled elsewhere.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 18)

Bienvenido a otro episodio (no terriblemente) emocionante … 

Poco después, habiendo cruzado Fort Balderdash hasta el comedor del suboficial…

… Jo y Wetpatch entraron, donde primero tuvieron que apartar un vehículo de ataque todo terreno inservible para poder acceder al único panel de comunicaciones permitido por el presupuesto restringido de la caballería…

“Solo hay un tipo en el universo que puede sacarnos de este kaká”. Wetpatch había dicho al salir de la oficina del Mayor Leftfoot Badger. “Así que será mejor que recemos para que todavía esté en el museo”.

Un minuto después, el panel se iluminó para revelar a Nigel, el Dorado; su asistente personal anónimo; y Walker Crabtrouser – Jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas Scrotonic, a punto de abordar su nave espacial a casa…

“¡Esperar!” Wetpatch gritó casi en pánico. “¡Golden One, necesitamos mucho tu ayuda!”

Naturalmente, siendo un tipo razonable y un buen huevo en todos los aspectos, Nigel detuvo su entrada en la esclusa de aire del barco. “Tapones de caballería”. Dijo al reconocer los uniformes del sargento. “Siempre haré tiempo para los militares. ¿Le puedo ayudar en algo?”

Wetpatch explicó rápidamente la situación, a lo que Nigel levantó una mano en un intento de detener más la lengua del sargento. “El problema del escáner omnipresente se puede explicar así”. Él dijo. “ El Tankerville Norris está equipado con un Gravitic Multi-Thingamy-Whatsit de última generación, que lo hace impermeable a los escaneos multifásicos a grandes distancias. Pero en lo que respecta a encontrarlos realmente … bueno, no estoy seguro de cómo puedo ofrecer ayuda “.

“Nos preguntamos si podría prestarnos un barco”. Jo soltó. “Podríamos ir a buscarlos. El espacio es grande, pero no tanto como para que un esfuerzo concertado no sea completamente infructuoso, probablemente, tal vez, si buscáramos mucho “.

“Oh querido.” Nigel dijo mientras se volvía hacia Walker Crabtrouser en busca de ayuda. “Creo que desmontamos los barcos que Magnuss rechazó. Y, desafortunadamente, las instrucciones de ensamblaje fueron utilizadas por una calificación junior que no pudo encontrar el armario de papel del lavabo y las usó para … ah … bueno, lo dejo a su imaginación “.

Wetpatch y Jo estaban abatidos. Ahora todo lo que podían hacer era esperar que la información sobre el efecto del multiplicitador gravitónico en el escáner omnipresente fuera suficiente para aplacar a Cushions y Hunting. Pero Walker Crabtrouser tuvo una idea…

“Golden One”, dijo lentamente, mientras sus pensamientos se fusionaban y le permitían hablar, “creo que podría tener una respuesta parcial a sus oraciones”.

Luego, en escrotónico, explicó. Terminó con: “Bueno, ¿qué piensas?”

“Informe al Capitán que habrá un retraso en nuestra partida”. Nigel le dijo a su asistente personal. Luego, a Wetpatch y Jo…

… Dijo: “Señores, parece que fui un poco prematuro. Había una cuarta embarcación ensamblada a partir de un paquete plano; pero nadie pensó que Magnuss se sentiría atraído por una nave furtiva desmantelada, de operaciones encubiertas. Está en nuestra bodega, con solo unas pocas cuerdas elásticas sujetándolo. Tengo unas tijeras para cortarlas, si estás interesado, por supuesto “.

Dos horas más tarde, una nave casi invisible subió silenciosamente al cielo nocturno…

Olió el vacío del espacio para las esporas de su barco hermano, el Tankerville Norris . Y habiendo detectado su rastro de iones, partió en su persecución…

Y (nominalmente) en los controles…

… Se sentaron Wetpatch Wilton y Jo Frayzer.

“Ooh-er”, dijo Jo apreciativamente, “esta nave puede motorizarse, ¿no es así, Wetpatch?”

A lo que Wetpatch respondió…

… “Flipping diablos, sí”.

Luego, a los otros cuatro tapones de caballería que se habían ofrecido como voluntarios para actuar como tripulación, agregó: “¿Alguna idea de cómo llamamos a este bebé?”

Naturalmente, al ser veteranos en el ejército de Worstworld, no estaban acostumbrados a dar rienda suelta a su imaginación. Todos salieron vacíos. Así que quedó en manos de Jo hacer una sugerencia..

“Um”, comenzó, “¿qué tal si dejamos que el barco elija su nombre? Probablemente tenga una idea mejor que cualquiera de nosotros. ¿Qué hay de eso, Ship?

Y, al igual que los otros barcos que se habían creado a partir de los diseños tomados de Bunk-Bunk Benson, el barco pronunció su nombre en absoluto silencio. Pero la tripulación ahora sabía que estaban a bordo del Chuck Winker , lo que los sorprendió porque Chuck Winker era un actor terrestre que protagonizó el programa de ciencia ficción favorito de Magnuss Earplug, Destination: The Stars.

“Mientras estuve aquí en la Tierra”, explicó el barco, “he estado viendo repeticiones en la televisión por cable. Son realmente muy buenos. Me gusta Chuck Winker: creo que tiene una presencia real en la pantalla. Descargué todos los episodios. Cuando regrese a Scroton, tengo la intención de retransmitirlos a todo el mundo. Sé lo que estás pensando, pero no tenemos leyes de derechos de autor en Scroton, así que estará bien “.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 18)

Welcome to another (not terribly) exciting episode…

Shortly, having crossed Fort Balderdash to the Non-Commissioned Officer’s mess…

…Jo and Wetpatch let themselves in, where they had to first push aside an unserviceable all-terrain attack vehicle so that they could access the sole com-panel allowed by the cavalry’s restricted budget…

“There is only one guy in the universe that can get us out of this kaka.” Wetpatch had said as they departed Major Leftfoot Badger’s office. “So we’d better pray that he’s still in the museum.”

A minute later the panel lit up to reveal Nigel – the Golden One; his unnamed personal assistant; and Walker Crabtrouser – Chief of the Scrotonic Armed Forces, about to board their spaceship home…

“Wait!” Wetpatch yelled in near-panic. “Golden One, we have great need of your help!”

Naturally, being a reasonable guy and all-round good egg, Nigel paused his entry into the ship’s airlock. “Cavalryplugs.” He said as he recognised the staff sergeant’s uniforms. “I will always make time for the military. How can I help you?”

Quickly Wetpatch explained the situation – to which Nigel held up a hand in an attempt to stay the sergeant’s tongue further. “The Omnipresent Scanner problem can be explained thus.” He said. “The Tankerville Norris is equipped with a latest-generation Gravitic Multi-Thingamy-Whatsit, which makes it impervious to multi-phasic scans over vast distances. But as regards to actually finding them…well I’m not sure how I can offer assistance.”

“We wondered if you might lend us a ship.” Jo blurted. “We could go look for them. Space is big – but not so big that a concerted effort wouldn’t be completely unsuccessful – probably – maybe – if we looked really hard.”

“Oh dear.” Nigel said as he turned to Walker Crabtrouser for help. “I do believe we disassembled the ships that Magnuss rejected. And, unfortunately, the assembly instructions were used by a junior rating who couldn’t find the lavatory paper cupboard, and used them to…ah…well I leave it to your imagination.”

Wetpatch and Jo were crestfallen. Now all they could do was hope that the information about the Gravitonic Multiplicitor’s effect on the Omnipresent Scanner would be enough to placate Cushions and Hunting. But Walker Crabtrouser had an idea…

“Golden One,” He said slowly – as his thoughts coalesced and allowed him to speak, “I think I might have a partial answer to their prayers.”

Then, in Scrotonic, he explained. He finished with: “Well – Whatta ya think?”

“Inform the Captain that there will be a delay in our departure.” Nigel said to his Personal Assistant. Then, to Wetpatch and Jo…

…he said: “Gentlemen, it appears that I was a tad premature. There was a fourth vessel assembled from flat-pack; but no one thought that Magnuss would be attracted by a stripped-down, black-ops, stealth ship. It’s in our hold, with just a few bungee cords holding it down. I’ve got some scissors to snip them – if you’re interested of course.”

Two hours later an almost-invisible craft climbed silently into the night sky…

It scented the vacuum of space for the spore of its sister-ship – the Tankerville Norris. And having detected its ion trail, set out in pursuit…

And (nominally) at the controls…

…sat Wetpatch Wilton and Jo Frayzer.

“Ooh-er,” Jo said appreciatively, “this ship sure can motor, can’t it, Wetpatch?”

To which Wetpatch replied…

…”Flipping heck, yeah.”

Then, to the other four cavalry-plugs who had volunteered to act as crew, he added: “Any ideas what we call this baby?”

Naturally, being of long-standing in the military of Worstworld, they weren’t used to giving their imaginations free reign. They all came up empty. So it was left to Jo to make a suggestion…

“Um,” he began, “how about we let the ship choose its name? It’s probably got a better idea than any of us. What about it, Ship?”

And, like the other ships that had been created from the designs taken from Bunk-Bunk Benson, the ship spoke its name in utter silence. But the crew now knew that they were aboard the Chuck Winker, which surprised them because Chuck Winker was a terrestrial actor who starred in Magnuss Earplug’s favourite science-fiction show, Destination: The Stars.

“Whilst I’ve been here on Earth”, the ship then explained, “I’ve been watching re-runs on cable TV. They’re really very good. I like Chuck Winker: I think he has real on-screen presence. I’ve downloaded all the episodes. When I get back to Scroton, I intend to re-transmit them world-wide. I know what you’re thinking – but we have no copyright laws on Scroton, so it’ll be fine.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 17)

My, the story is moving apace now – don’t you think? Here’s the next instalment…

Because adrenalin can make a person do things with ease that would often be impossible under normal circumstances, it seemed that no time passed between Magnuss and Hair-Trigger receiving a summons to the bridge, and them actually being there…

And because of the telepathic link they didn’t need to be told that they were looking at a fleet of spacecraft that lay so distant in space that the vague image was the result of it being at the extreme range of the sensors. They also understood that, at its current speed and trajectory, the fleet would arrive off Tah-Di-Tah in less than a single planetary revolution.

“Bum.” Magnuss cursed like a dock-worker on steroids. “Knickers too. What an inconvenient time to turn up. Obviously they’re not on their way here for a huge joint vacation or to party-party-party until dawn: that looks distinctly like an invasion fleet.”

“The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah.” Hair-Trigger said breathlessly. “What was it that Madame Nellie said about them?”

Magnuss quickly retrieved the spy pen from his breast pocket. Selecting the correct time index he soon had the devilishly clever device repeating the clairvoyant’s words: “I’m a fortune teller: not the Fountain of Knowledge. I don’t know what they are; but you are going to find them. And – apparently – the continued existence of Tah-Di-Tah depends upon it. That’s it – on your way: now it’s all down to you.”

Magnuss turned his gaze to the holo-screen again, and said: “Bit of a coincidence, don’t you think?”

“We’ve got twenty-two hours – give-or-take,” Hair-Trigger said sternly. “We don’t have time to explain all this to the authorities: we need to act: and we need to act now. Let’s go dig up that techno-village!”

But Magnuss held aloft a hand. “Wait.” He said. “We must do all we can to slow that fleet down. Rudi told us that we had a full complement of proton Torpedoes.”

“Just a turn of phrase, I’m sure.” Hair-Trigger snapped in her urgency to be about their task. “Just his way of saying we were ready to launch. Like saying the larder is stocked, or the toilet roll holders are full.”

Magnuss shook his head. “I don’t think so. My oldest brother wouldn’t tell me something that wasn’t true.”

Then, with only his mind, he instructed the quiescent ship…

…to target the distant fleet and fire a volley of torpedoes. Much to Hair-Trigger’s surprise, this was the result…

“Well you could knock me down with a lupher, I had no idea. But, Magnuss, those torpedoes have a limited range: the fleet is far too distant: they’ll never get there.”

“They don’t have to.” Magnuss replied as he fired the second, and final, volley…

…They’ll run out of fuel, and drift onwards under their own momentum. The fleet will sail straight into them. Effectively they’re a moving mine field between Tah-Di-Tah and those ships. But, at best, it will only slow them down.”

Hair-Trigger watched as the balls of incandescent light disappeared against the vast backdrop of outer space. “What we need is reinforcements.” She said grimly and without hope. “Someone to come to the rescue. Oh, if only the cavalry could come charging over the hill right now: I’d give them all a big sloppy kiss!”

Chapter 6

Ironically, or coincidentally, whichever takes your fancy – back on Earth (a mere twenty-four hours earlier)– or, to be slightly more precise – back in the Museum of Future Technology (twenty-four hours earlier)…

…the troopers of the United Stoats Seventh Cavalry had been parading about in their stockade…

At exactly the same time that Staff Sergeant Jo Frayzer shouted: “Slope arms – huh!”, Cushions Smethwyke had just turned away from the video-com panel upon which she had recently communicated with the commanding officer of the Seventh Cavalry – Major Leftfoot Badger…

As a result of this communication, Jo Frayzer and fellow staff sergeant –Wetpatch Wilton – had been summoned…

This was unusual for the time of day, and Jo was slightly fearful.

“The troopers have been using rather a lot of toilet tissue lately.” He said to his colleague. “You don’t suppose it has come to the attention of the clerical staff – do you?”

Wetpatch wasn’t a soldier who enjoyed conjecture. “I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. Now dig your regulation headgear out of your back pocket and plonk it on your head.”

This was timely advice, because just around the corner stood the Officer’s…ah…office…

…which belonged to the former exhibit – but which was now home of the Seventh Cavalry. Without too much hesitation the staff sergeants approached the door…

They would have knocked politely, but the Major’s adjutant – Klisters Barnacle-Balls – was peering through the letter box, and saw them coming. So, with one deft flick of his wrist, Klisters had whipped the up-and-over door open in a most exaggerated and spectacular manner…

“You’re late.” He growled. “The Major is waiting for his afternoon tea – and he can’t have it until he’s dealt with you two. So get in there now!”

This did little to settle Jo’s nerves. So it was with a modicum of knee-knocking that the staff sergeants entered their commanding officer’s presence…

Major Leftfoot Badger was out of his chair like a limpet with an overactive adrenal gland. Tossing his hat upon his head with practiced ease…

…he said: “Gentlemen: regard the com-panel screen. It is about to replay a message that I have recently received from our superiors – the museum’s Curator Corp.”

“It came as a nasty surprise, I don’t mind telling you. Something of a jolt, actually. When you’ve seen it, I think you’ll know what I require from you.”

He said no more because moments later the screen began to glow. Then the curators appeared – all pushed up together so that they could appear on-screen. Cushions Smethwyke and Hunting Provost stood foremost…

“Okay, Badger.” Cushions growled without preamble. “We all know that the Seventh Cavalry really belong on Worstworld and are only here under sufferance from us. You don’t have a real task in the museum. Okay, you fought one engagement against those red robot invaders from the future: but other than that you’ve been a constant strain on our meagre coffers. So it’s about time you earned your keep. We’re pooping our pants in fear of what might have happened to those lovely couple – Magnuss and Hair-Trigger – and we’re not enjoying it. Our Omnipresent Scanner can’t find them anywhere – not even their dismembered bones and connective tissues. We want….no…we demand that you find out where they are and what they’re doing. If you don’t, I’m gonna recall the Chi-Z-Sox and have you all back in the irradiated desert of that doomed planet before the week is up. I don’t care how you do it – but get it done.”

This was enough to have both staff sergeants quaking in their marching boots; but when Hunting Provost stopped looking sad, and stared straight into the camera…

…they knew real fear.

“If you fail,” he ground out between gnashing incisors, “I will hunt you down and feed your remains to the plankton. That’s cold water plankton, by the way. Somewhere off the coast of Antarctica.”

The Major didn’t need to say anything: Jo and Wetpatch spoke in unison when they said (with a sigh of resignation): “We’re on it, Sir. You can count on us.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 16)

Thank you for staying with this tale for so long. I know it sometimes seems interminable, but the end – or the ‘finale’, as I prefer to call it – is in sight (sort of).

By the time the Tankerville Norris had returned to the city, the rain had blown away. It was late, but the sun still shone from a beautiful blue sky…

But when the intrepid earplugs visited Madame Nellie’s tent…

…they found it empty – with the exception of a sign that had been left by its former occupant…

“That’s very convenient.” Hair-Trigger hissed angrily. “Too much of a coincidence, if you ask me.”

This gave Magnuss an idea. After checking that Madame Nellie hadn’t changed her name to Madame Flub to avoid taxes, they revisited the Bazaar, where they sought out the two earplugs that had sent them to Madame Nellie’s tent the night previous…

“Nah,” the darker of the two reprobates replied to their questioning, “we don’t have the first idea where she is.”

“She just paid us to send potential customers to her.” The pale earplug added.

“How many other customers did you send her?” Magnuss inquired.

They looked at each other. The dark earplug then said: “Actually only two. You two. After you’d gone, she gave us each a hundred Smackeroos and told us that our services were no longer required.”

“Easiest hundred Smackeroos I ever made.” The pale earplug said as he fingered his hidden wallet appreciatively.

At first Magnuss and Hair-Trigger felt helpless. They simply didn’t know what to do next. So they wandered to the Old Quarter, where they hoped to spot Nellie amongst the inhabitants…

It was a long-shot, and failed miserably. Then Magnuss remembered the spy camera that he habitually wore in his breast pocket. It looked like a normal pen, but it recorded movies with monaural sound.

“I was wearing it in her house.” He said whilst grasping at metaphysical straws. “Maybe if we show it to people, they might recognise either her face or her house.”

So they did…

But no one had even heard of Madame Nellie. “Maybe you both dreamed it.” A blue End Cap suggested. “Is it possible to share a dream?”

Soon failure piled upon failure…

…and as dusk approached and the shadows fell long between buildings, all four of their combined feet hurt like heck.

“Let’s get back to the ship.” Hair-Trigger said as they wandered down yet another Tah-Di-Tah back street. “We’ll go and look at that ancient village we found in the history banks.”

Shortly the Tankerville Norris was approaching a beautifully sun-lit hill…

Magnuss and Hair-Trigger were becoming excited because just beyond it should lay the ancient village. But when the ship swooped into (what should have been) the fiord, the deflated earplugs aboard discovered that…

…it was completely silted up, and that a very nice road bridge now crossed almost a hundred metres above where the village had once stood.

“Curses.” They yelled as one. “Thwarted again!”

So it was with a feeling of despair that they had the Tankerville Norris return to its natural environment…

If vacuum could conduct vibrations, anyone outside the ship would have heard Magnuss’ angry bellowing – along with the tinkling sound of a teaspoon as it whirred around and around, with a degree of violence only matched by a category five tornado, inside a mug of coffee.

“I don’t want any coffee, Hairy.” His voice would have been heard to roar. “It keeps me up.”

Hair-Trigger’s voice was considerably quieter, and might not have been detectable by the imaginary person with his or her (or it’s) ear pressed to the hull: “It’s decaffeinated.” She said.

This seemed to calm Magnuss. Making a cup of coffee and handing it to your angry husband was such an ordinary, day-to-day thing to do. It released his stress. “Oh, thank you. How many lumps of sugar did you put in it?”

“None.” Hair-Trigger replied. “We’ve only got sweeteners on board.”

Magnuss, unlike many earplugs of his generation, was perfectly happy with fake sugar, so he gladly accepted the coffee. Whilst Hair-Trigger finished up at the coffee work station, he returned to his library interface.  And it was as he stared at the con fusing, often seemingly contradictory information before him that he began to see a correlation. Turning to Hair-Trigger…

…he said: “Hairy; we need to get down to Engineering pronto.”

By now they had grown familiar with the route; so it only took half the usual time to reach the bowels of the ship…

“I’m not very good with tech stuff.” He said as Hair-Trigger followed him into the compartment. “Turn it on, will you?”

Moments later Hair-Trigger’s dainty fingers danced across the controls, and the hologram generator burst into life…

“It’s all about time.” Magnuss explained – which pleased Hair-Trigger because, of all her favourite science-fiction movies, she liked those that featured time-travel the most. “We’ve been looking at this the wrong way ‘round.”

This also pleased Hair-Trigger because she thought they’d been looking at the problem from the right angle: to find that her famous husband now turned the situation on its head meant that she need not fret anymore. “Good.” She said. “Whatta ya mean?”

“Nigel – the Golden One – told us that Bunk- Bunk Bunsen had travelled back through time. That the design of the Tankerville Norris, Scroterton Pancake, and the Sir Goosewing Grey were more advanced than anything we have today because it came from the future. What if he only assumed that they came from the future? Or that Bunk-Bunk Bunsen told him that because it was easier for him to accept?”

Not for the first time during their many convoluted conversations did Hair-Trigger make the mental leap expected of her by Magnuss. “What did you find in the library computer?” She demanded.

“The village in the fiord.” Magnuss replied with building excitement. “We assumed that it was a primitive fishing village, which might or might not have had a football team. It wasn’t. It was a technocrat’s enclave. All the brainiest earplugs of the planet went there to study and to experiment with futuristic ideas and technology that they developed there. That was a thousand years ago. It was destroyed in a cataclysm of unknown origin. Then a tsunami swept in and covered the ruins in sea bottom and silt.”

By now Hair-Trigger was shaking with anticipation. “I know what you’re going to say.” She squealed. “The reason that the computer can’t correlate the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah with anything today is because this world wasn’t called Tah-Di-Tah a thousand years ago.” 

“On the nose, my super-intelligent, sweet wife.” Magnuss bellowed. “It was called something else completely – which I don’t know and don’t care. The secret of the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah lay a hundred metres below that road bridge.”

“And we have to dig it up!” Hair-Trigger yelled shrilly. “But how?”

At that point the ship passed on some silent information to the couple. They turned to regard the Gravitonic Multiplicitor…

“If it can move worlds,” Magnuss said whilst the machine hummed in near silence, “a nice road bridge and a few hundred thousand tons of sea floor should be no problem at all.”

But just as they set about figuring how to utilise the Gravitonic Multiplicitor, the ship went to Crimson Alert…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 15)

So far it has been rather fun for the newlyweds: now their work really begins. Read on…

Chapter 5

Neither Magnuss nor Hair-Trigger slept well that night. Their minds were in turmoil. So they were still tired when the alarm clock woke them to a day full of grey skies and rain…

But one thing was certain to both of them, as they stared out at the rain-soaked city that only hours earlier had appeared so bright and full of promise…

“We’ll learn nothing here.” Magnuss said. Then, to add clarity he added: “In the city I mean. No one knows anything about the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah.”

“How can you be so sure?” Hair-Trigger inquired reasonably. “I know we asked at Reception, but we haven’t asked everyone.”

“I went on-line while you were making toast.” Magnuss explained. “There’s not a single mention of it.”

To her credit, Hair-Trigger tried to be subjective and helpful. “Have you considered that Madame Nellie might be a bona fide fruit-cake? That perhaps there is no such thing as the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah?”

Magnuss’ expression, reflected in the window, told Hair-Trigger that playing Devil’s Advocate wasn’t her most remarkable talent. “You’re right, of course.” She said. “Clearly the female is no nut-job. If she’d been mad, she wouldn’t have caressed your temple: she would have squeezed your buttocks. So where do we go from here?”

“The Tankerville Norris.” Magnuss replied. “If we are to find anything pertinent concerning the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah, it’ll be in the ship’s memory banks.”

So, a half-hour later, and having checked out, the husband and wife team of daring-doers made for the exit of the Hotel Gilb…

From there the courtesy shuttle bus returned them to the parking lot, and thence to their ship – through which (because the weather outside had been chilly and wet) they rushed to the (recently sign-posted) lavatory…

…before settling down to study the immense Library of Galactic Information – jokingly referred to as The Encyclopaedia Galactica – in the ship’s central computer…

But just to be certain that they would not be interrupted – or scanned intrusively by the SS Glob – Magnuss had the Tankerville Norris lift off…

…then whoosh across the high-rise section of the rain-swept city…

This coincided with many of the Hotel Gilb’s hospitality staff taking their early morning coffee break by the window in the dining room…

“Oh-no, not another one leaving.” The purple individual with pink hair complained. “The place is already nearly empty. If this keeps on, I can see our whole industry falling down around our ears.”

But a green earplug was secretly pleased at the departure of a space ship, because he was a Catering Anarchist!

Aboard the departing space ship…

…Magnuss and Hair-Trigger watched as rainwater slewed off the ship’s forward camera cupola.

“Right sod of a day.” Magnuss observed. “We’ll be able to think more clearly when we’re above the atmosphere: there won’t be this incessant tippy-tappy noise on the hull.”

But a half-hour later, and having spent the entire time trying to find information that might be vaguely linked with the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (but without success) Magnuss was getting a headache…

So he sat down for five minutes, which released Hair-Trigger to try a few entries of her own.

“Hey,” she yelled almost immediately, “I’ve tried a wider, more expansive request input. I’ve left out the Tah-Di-Tah bit. I punched in a request for any historical or mythical usage of the word ‘lines’. Guess what – I found an entry. We need to access it on the table in Engineering…

Engineering, being relatively close to the bridge, it took only moments for the excited couple to get there…

“How do we turn it on?” Hair-Trigger asked Magnuss.

On cue both knew in an instant. Moments later an image to accompany the information that was being directly fed into their brains appeared on the holographic viewer…

“A strange village at the very end of a long fiord.” Magnuss said in wonder.

“Small domed houses that hang on, or cling to the cliff face.” Hair-Trigger added. “Some go down to the water’s edge.”

“Not a lot of flat land.” Magnuss noted. “I wouldn’t want to be on their soccer team: you’d be playing one half of the game up hill; and the other half chasing the ball downhill.”

“P’raps they’ve got their pitch the other way ‘round.” Hair-Trigger suggested. “Longitudinally I mean. Canted over at whatever the angle of the cliff, with the goals at either end also canted over of course.”

Magnuss was about to reply, when suddenly he realised that they had gone off-subject. So he said: “Who cares? Huh, maybe they don’t even play soccer.”

“Didn’t.” Hair-Trigger corrected him. “Maybe they didn’t play soccer. This is a historical picture. Past tense, that is. Maybe they never played soccer because it hadn’t been invented yet.”

Magnuss quickly changed the subject. “This is a winter shot: can we see a summer version?”

“Look, Magnuss,” Hair-Trigger gasped after scrutinizing the replacement picture for a nanosecond, “they did have an area suitable for a soccer pitch. Down by the water on the north shore. It appears to have three buildings on it. But they could be mere tents or artisan’s fabric retail outlets.”

Magnuss took a quick peek to confirm his wife’s observation; then returned the conversation to its original course. “Let’s collate the info we have on The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah, and see where this new stuff takes us.”

Naturally the ship complied…

Magnuss wasn’t impressed, so Hair-Trigger put on a brave face and smiled sweetly. “Yes,” she said positively, “although we have no idea what these ‘lines’ are, we know they have something to do with the planet, Tah-Di-Tah.”

Magnuss pulled himself together. “Confirmed.” He agreed. “I also notice that clairvoyance is highlighted: that must be important too. Madame Nellie, I presume – yet she claimed to know nothing of The Lines.”

“Predestination.” Hair-Trigger yelped when she saw the word. “That suggests that someone – possibly you and I – were always intended to be here to find The Lines. But Time Travel?”

“Bunk-Bunk Bunsen.” Magnuss blurted. “He who brought the plans of this very ship with him from the future. I alluded to it, earlier in the city. Now it’s beginning to make more and more sense. But I can’t figure the History entry.”

“The village at the end of the fiord.” Hair-Trigger suggested. When I entered the word ’lines’, the computer gave me the village.”

“Accepted.” Magnuss said as he studied the hologram. “But what the heck is an Infinite Reality Drive?”

In an instant the telepathic link with the Tankerville Norris gave him the answer. Hair-Trigger too.

“It’s what powers the ship along.” She yelled joyfully. “I wondered why it didn’t whoosh along with a tail of fire like other ship’s we’ve been on. Using a system – not unlike that one which destroyed the civilisation that Folie Krimp and Placebo Bison discovered – the creators of the I.R.D accessed alternative quantum realities and syphoned off the raw power of that reality’s creative ‘Big Bang’, and converted it into smooth linear thrust.”

Magnuss was impressed. “Very good, Hairy.” He said. “I couldn’t have put it better myself. In fact I would have spoken a bunch of cobblers. But how is it pertinent to the mystery? What does Infinite Reality Drive have to do with clairvoyance, time-travel, predestination, and the planet below?”

“The starting point came when we visited Madame Nellie.” Hair-Trigger replied. “It’s only a hunch, but I think she knows more than she’s telling. Shame on her: and you being a Saint as well!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Succinct Cover Art

Unusually, for an Earplug Adventure, the story (and cover art) for The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah were all complete, spell-checked, listened to (using Natural Reader), and ready for conversion to PDF format long before the final few episodes appear on-line. But, since the tale is an on-line serial, I shall refrain from publishing the finished e-book/file until the penultimate episode appears – which is the usual way of things in Tootyland. But just as a taster for anyone who is planning to download the great masterpiece of silicon life – to share with friends, family, total strangers, and anyone who looks like they might be into strange stuff – here is the cover art. It isn’t flashy. It doesn’t display an exciting moment from the story. Instead I thought it should show the two stars – looking slightly puzzled. After all  they are earplugs, and this is an earplug mystery.

So now you know what to look for when it appears on the All Earplug Adventures in PDF Format Unexpurgated & FREE! page.

P.S You don’t need to wait to visit the page: there are 41 other Earplug Adventures there, gagging to be read.

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 14)

Part fourteen already? They do say that time flies when you’re having fun. Here is the latest extract…

So, a few minutes later, they found themselves outside the tent of Madame Nellie – Fortune Teller to the Rich and Famous…

“Are you feeling up for it?” Hair-Trigger asked a reluctant Magnuss.

“I’m not sure,” the hesitant hero replied. “What if she’s the real deal? What if she really can see my future?”

“What’re the chances of that?” Hair-Trigger scoffed. “If she was any good, she wouldn’t have a tent in a bazaar in the arse-end of nowhere.”

But neither could say more because Madame Nellie was about to invite them inside…

“Welcome, my darlings.” She said expansively. “Welcome to my humble abode. I’ve actually got a nice place ‘round the corner; but it’s a bit off the beaten track and nobody can find it without satellite navigation. So it’s the handsome young husband who wants his fortune told, is it?”

Magnuss hadn’t realised that Nellie was perfectly capable of hearing them through the thin fabric of her tent, so was duly impressed. “Yes please.” He said. “Where do I sign? How much does it cost? Will you need to touch me anywhere?”

Nellie smiled at this. “Only the once.” She answered. “Just a momentary caress of your temple.” But when she performed the simple act, something seemed to change in her. Her gentle bonhomie evaporated…

“This is no good.” She snapped. “We must leave this tent immediately. Follow me. Hurry now: don’t dawdle.”

Both Earthling earplugs were taken aback, but that didn’t stop them from acquiescing to the fortune teller’s demand. They quickly found themselves hurrying along a narrow corridor between the town’s quarters…

Earplugs passed them in the opposite direction – none of which made eye contact…

Then, unexpectedly, they exited a building – into the Old Quarter…

Magnuss – now genuinely concerned for their safety – noted the name of the street. Then it was along to another ancient abode…

But once inside the tiny one-up/one-down house, his fears receded. They were alone with the solitary unarmed female…

Both earplugs tried smiling; but it didn’t do any good: Nellie was as serious as ever…

“You are Magnuss Finklestein Earplug.” She stated matter-of-factly. “Don’t ask me how I know that. Suffice to say that I am ‘the real deal’. I am clairvoyant: I can see your future. I can also see your past.”

This last line had Magnuss feeling nervous and vulnerable. “Can you see the time when I was walking home from school and I had a surreptitious tinkle in Missus Snook’s old air raid shelter?”

For a moment Nellie paused. “Aah, no.” She replied. “Thankfully not. But don’t prevaricate: this is absolutely important. I now know that your wife is also cut from heroic material. This is good. You will need her help.”

“He’s got it.” Hair-Trigger interrupted. “Always – no matter what. Even if he did urinate in Missus Snook’s old air raid shelter. By the way, I hope the smell didn’t linger, Magnuss. “

“I had a can of air freshener in my school satchel.” Magnuss replied. “It was like a security blanket for me. I eventually grew out of it.”

“Will you two shut up, for flip’s sake!” Nellie bellowed: “I’ve got something really important to tell you. But first a question: do you believe in pre-destination?”

Magnuss felt uncomfortable with the subject. If he said ‘yes’ it meant that he didn’t accept free will. If he said ‘no’ it suggested that he had a closed mind. “I’m not sure.” He said.

“Good.” Nellie responded unexpectedly. “Keep a firm grip upon your agnosticism: you’re going to need it. Here’s another question: have you ever heard of the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah?”

Both young earplugs pulled puzzled faces and shook their heads.

“Good.” Nellie surprised them again. “Because you, Magnuss, are going to discover them.”

“Ugh?” Magnuss and Hair-Trigger said in unison. Magnuss then added: “But what are the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah?”

At this Nellie merely shrugged her shoulders. “I’m a fortune teller.” She replied. ”Not the Fountain of Knowledge. I don’t know what they are; but you are going to find them. And – apparently – the continued existence of Tah-Di-Tah depends upon it. That’s it – on your way: now it’s all down to you.”

So it was a somewhat shell-shocked couple who exited the hovel through the back door…

“What are we gonna do?” They cried as one. Then Hair-Trigger added: “A whole world depends on what we do next.”

“I know.” Magnuss wailed. “Right now I wish we’d taken our honeymoon on Worstworld – just as its star goes nova. That wouldn’t have been half as bad as this. I don’t know what to do – and I don’t like not knowing what to do. It’s not in my DNA!”

So wrapped up in their worries were Magnuss and Hair-Trigger that they didn’t even notice the group of lost tourists walk by in the opposite direction…

So they wandered back in the direction of the Hotel Gilb…

…down some alleyways that were very dark indeed. And all Magnuss could think about was the joy he’d experienced when he discovered the Tankerville Norris’ futuristic urinal…

…which led to another thought.

“Hairy,” he said, “I think I’m getting an inkling of an idea. It has something to do with Bunk-Bunk Bunsen and his space ship plans. I don’t think it was an accident that the Scrotonites got their hands on them. I think they were supposed to!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 13)

Unlucky number thirteen? No way: no Earplug Adventure episode could be considered unlucky: they are all wonderful. Check this one out!

Meanwhile, back at the Museum of Future Technology, the situation was anything but quiet…

There had been a double reactor breach, and the tops of two towers had been blown off. But, for the museum’s Avatar, this was not the main subject of conversation. Whilst Valentine and Wah-Hey were taking the post-supper air, the Avatar accosted them on the up-ramp that led to the Café Puke…

“Hello, Valentine. Greetings Wah-Hey.” she said as she walked backwards before them, “any news from Magnuss?”

“Ah, that’d be a negative, Avatar.” Valentine replied. “We aint heard a squeak outta the little guy. Guess he’s having a good time and don’t wanna share it with his bros – know what I mean?”

Although, as an automaton, the Avatar didn’t require oxygen, she nevertheless took a deep breath before saying: “Well it’s like this, Valentine: Cushions is getting very worried. She even got her best Omnipresent Scanner operatives out of bed to help her locate the Tankerville Norris

Even the museum’s A.I’s cheerful suggestions didn’t help. They simply couldn’t find it. In the end they took themselves off to the Café Puke…

…for a stiff double Café Cortado and a bag of Churros.  

Their evening stroll forgotten, Valentine grabbed Rudi, Chester, and Miles. They found Cushions remembering happy recent events in the Grand Hall…

“Hey, Cushions,” Rudi opened without preamble, “what gives with the Omnipresent Scanner? It can’t find Magnuss? That can’t be right: it can see everywhere!”

Cushions confirmed this commonly held believe. She also confirmed its utter failure to detect their middle brother. “Officially we’re posting him as ‘Missing in Action’. Of course we’ll try again in the morning.”

It was a disconsolate bunch of earplugs who wandered back to their quarters…

They had attempted a telepathic link with him. But even returning to the place of their last triumph – the Age of Stone exhibit – could not succeed in making contact. And Chester, bless him, couldn’t help but conjure up terrible images of monsters that might have consumed the newlyweds…

And if they’d known what was really happening to Magnuss, they would have realised why they couldn’t contact him…

He and Hair-Trigger had visited a fairground, where he tried on a helmet named The Excruciator. It was supposed to be excruciating; and it was! So much so that he simply couldn’t think straight. So Hair-Trigger took it off him and suggested he try the Wobbly Buggy Ride. It was not her best idea…

…because his motion sickness kicked in almost instantly; and he was sick all over the dashboard. So she took him to the canal walkway to recover…

“This is better.” He said as his bile receded…

…”and that canal is so effervescent. I wonder if anyone would complain if we partook of a dip in it.”

But, even if that were so, the proximity of a trio of young females (who would never approve of the sight of soggy underpants) was the deciding factor against the idea. So they revisited the bazaar area…

…where they encountered a pair of local earplugs…

At first the newlyweds were suspicious of the strangers; but when the pale earplug said: “You look like a pair of impressionable youngsters.” and the darker individual added, “You should visit Madame Nellie: she’s a fortune teller.” They knew all was well.

“Thank you, kind sirs.” Hair-Trigger replied. “Could you point us in her direction?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

There – I told you!

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 12)

No preamble: just story…

But time is a great healer, and five minutes later the happy couple were on their way for a pre-disembarkation tinkle…

Then it was just a matter of catching the courtesy shuttle bus to the space port’s largest hotel – Hotel Gilb…

As a blue earplug guided them to their room…

…Magnuss noted that the authorities on Tah-Di-Tah seemed very keen on giving their noteworthy structures four-letter monosyllabic names. He recited the three with which he was familiar: “Snid, Glob, and Gilb.” He said.

To which the blue earplug responded: “Yeah, guess so. Got a tip?”

Once inside their room, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger elected to wash away the sweat of fear that had accumulated upon their silicon skin since encountering the doomed turquoise planet…

But were really cheesed off when they discovered that the bubble bath had a built-in timer. They had just enough time to rinse off before all the water drained away. Then, following a quick peek out of their high-level window at the bright lights of the City…

…it was time to hit the streets…

Initially those streets seemed almost empty. But, as they followed the signs that would take them to the bazaar, the crowds began to build…

In fact the central thoroughfare became almost crowded…

…with more and more thrill-seeking visitors arriving with every passing second. Magnuss and Hair-Trigger slipped in unobtrusively behind a pair of Ethernet Cable Ends who could only have come from Scroton…

Magnuss was tempted to engage them in conversation, and perhaps boast of his friendship with their leader. But a dig in the ribs from Hair-Trigger put paid to that idea. So instead he decided to savour the atmosphere, and try to identify as many different species as he could…

And there were a lot of them – including a happy pair of enormous Polystyrene Blobs…

…one of whom (and much to the distress of her partner, wanted to whip off her knickers and jump in the canal…

Cripes, Hairy,” Magnuss whispered, “this is all so cosmopolitan. I’m feeling decidedly parochial here. Look at those unusual long-snouted earplugs: I’ve never seen that species before. I wonder where they originate?”

Of course, during her bounty-hunting career, Hair-Trigger had visited many worlds with their fair share of strange beings. She was less impressed than her husband. But she was mildly shaken when one of the Cable Ends fell head first, down an open drain and, as a direct result, broke wind both violently and pyrotechnically…

This incident was the turning point for Magnuss…

“I think we need to find somewhere quieter. Follow me.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 11)

This is it. They’ve made it to Tah-Di-Tah. Now, maybe we’ll discover what these ‘lines’ are all about. Or maybe not: the reveal should be long and circumbendibus.

Soon the ship followed a guide beam down through the atmosphere, where Magnuss and Hair-Trigger watched a solitary road and open veldt pass by below them…

“I suppose that is a road.” Magnuss said. “I can’t quite get a grip on scale. It could be a garden path.

“No,” Hair-Trigger replied, “it’s definitely a road: look, there’s a river too.”

The river that Hair-Trigger had noticed emptied into a fabulous lake, which, by chance, the Tankerville Norris passed over at low altitude…

…before banking sharply in an azure sky…

…and heading towards the night side of the planet.

Chapter 4

The world of Tah-Di-Tah was settling into dusk as the Tankerville Norris raced towards its destination…

The ship had informed Magnuss and Hair-Trigger of the many differing facets of the planet’s vacation centre. The first that hove into view was the much-anticipated Castle Snid, which, due to poor light, was quite hard to see on their view screen…

…but, had they been standing on a rocky knoll nearby, would have appeared almost majestic in the misty moonlight…

The aforementioned mist was just thinning when they arrived at the space ship landing area…

Hair-Trigger was surprised to note the paucity of ships parked there…

“Must be the off-season.” Magnuss conjectured.

“Do paradise planets have off-seasons?” A doubtful Hair-Trigger responded.

Magnuss thought about it for a few moments, before concluding: “They must have hiked their prices to unreasonable levels; so everyone is staying away until they come back down again.”

This sounded far more logical to Hair-Trigger, and she blessed the Saint of All Earplugs for bringing Magnuss and her together.

“Oh look,” she said, “it’s the SS Glob.”

This surprised her husband. “Are you familiar with the SS Glob?” He inquired.

Hair-Trigger shook her head. “No-no, it’s just that it’s got its name emblazoned on the hull in huge letters: I figured it must be famous or something.”

“I hope they’re friendly.” Magnuss said as the Tankerville Norris manoeuvred into a landing posture, “That ship is a heck of a lot bigger than this one.”

For a moment it seemed that Magnuss had tempted fate once too often: suddenly the bridge was illuminated by a blazing light that almost blinded its occupants…

Magnuss reacted with pure survival instinct: “What the flipping heck is this?” He yelled. “Arm the proton torpedoes!”

But the ship ignored his outburst, and landed safely beside the SS Glob…

“Oh,” a relieved Magnuss chuckled at his foolishness, “it’s just a sensor beam.”

“A very bright one,” Hair-Trigger grumbled. “I’ve still got retinal after-images.”

Magnuss had exactly the same problem. “Yeah,” he mumbled. “They must be a nosey bunch of sods aboard the SS Glob: we didn’t sensor-beam them: why did they sensor-beam us? I think it’s really rude. If I knew their com-frequency, I’d give them a mouthful of verbal abuse.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

They’re down…on Tah-Di-Tah. I can feel the excitement rising and anticipation mounting like a rutting stag. Return again for the next thrilling episode.

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 10)

Ten episodes in and it still feels like the story is only really beginning. Magnuss and Hair-Trigger need to get their collective arse into gear!

Moments later the couple went their separate ways, and Magnuss found himself in the most futuristic male lavatory that he’d ever seen…

“Oh,” he sighed with relief, “I’ll never want to use a regular loo again. So why did they put it so far away from the bridge? I wonder what the girl’s toilet is like?”

But when they re-entered Engineering, Hair-Trigger appeared a whole lot less impressed than Magnuss…

And to Magnuss’ probing question she replied: “Bunk-Bunk Bunsen was a male – right? Obviously he had little idea of female anatomy. He really should have asked for advice first. If we ever meet him, I’m going to get the boot in first, okay?”

Magnuss smirked at this. “I can always empty the bucket for you.” He offered.

But Hair-Trigger wouldn’t rise to the bait. Instead she decided to find out what the central ‘table’ in Engineering actually did…

“Information and schematics,” Magnuss said as he nodded appreciatively. “And all displayed in the air before us. Very nice.”

Neither of them was particularly interested in schematics, and numbers just confused the heck out of them. So they decided to head back in the direction of the bridge…

But before long the conversation drifted to the subject of Tah-Di-Tah. Both were aware that it was a paradise world upon which many citizens of advanced worlds vacationed: but little else.

“How do we pay?” Magnuss asked.

“Where do we park our ship?” Hair-Trigger countered.

It seemed that, between them, they had a thousand and one questions – none of which they could answer. But, as they entered the bridge…

…they realised that the Tankerville Norris would have all the information they required. All they needed to do was ask. So they sat themselves down and did just that…

For the first time since coming aboard, the ship chose not to communicate telepathically. Instead it spoke its answers: “Nigel – the Golden One – has a line of credit on Tah-Di-Tah.” It said. “You are his guests: you need not concern yourselves with such trivia. Just enjoy yourselves. By the way – we’ll be arriving in less than an hour, so keep yourselves entertained until then.”

So, as the Tankerville Norris advanced towards its destination…

…the occupants did as they were bid. First of all Hair-Trigger checked out the multi-media library…

Then they chased each other around the bridge…

Then returned for a second visit to the lavatory…

…before settling themselves in the bridge…

…to watch their approach to Tah-Di-Tah…

And what a beautiful world it was too…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Is that right? Have they actually reached Tah-Di-Tah? Well thank the Saint of All Earplugs for that!

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 9)

If I worked on important things as enthusiastically as I shoot and write Earplug Adventures I wouldn’t need to fret about things I’ve forgotten to do: places I’ve supposed to have gone: and Government forms I should have filled in. But never mind – here’s the latest result of my labours…

“Too close for comfort.” Hair-Trigger said in a small voice.

Magnuss agreed wholeheartedly. “We’re on honeymoon.” He said

“We should do honey-moony types of things.” Hair-Trigger added.

“Do we know anywhere honey-moony?” Magnuss inquired.

Of course, merely asking the question meant that he knew the answer.

“Tah-Di-Tah.” Hair-Trigger replied. “I hear it’s a paradise planet.”

“Oh yes.” Magnuss said. “It’s over in that direction.”

So the ship made a slight alteration in its flight path…

…and set forth upon a voyage at a more sedate pace.

Chapter 3

With time to kill, Hair-Trigger and Magnuss departed the bridge to begin an exploration of their ship…

They had been pleased to discover that (although the ship would automatically up-date them on all concerns beyond the hull) the telepathic link with the vessel remained silent about its interior. It seemed, to Magnuss at least, that the ship understood that they enjoyed discovering new ‘things’ about their honeymoon barge. But shortly they grew concerned…

“What we really need is a toilet.” Magnuss said to Hair-Trigger as they traversed a long, winding corridor.

“Yes,” a slightly ashamed Hair-Trigger replied, “we can’t keep using that bucket that we found beneath the sink in the galley.”

But their need was not desperate or immediate, so they were able to enjoy discovering…

…a large compartment that might have been analogous with the Gravity Whelk’s, or the Chi-Z-Sox’ ‘Engineering’…

What struck them both most was its sheer spaciousness. It was so indulgent in a small vessel like the Tankerville Norris where usable space would normally be at a premium. They didn’t recognise any of the equipment either. Of course they hadn’t expected to, so they weren’t disappointed. But when a hitherto unnoticed curtain moved aside and disappeared into the seamless wall, Magnuss couldn’t believe his eyes. He was so amazed that Hair-Trigger couldn’t stop her own mouth falling open too…

“By the Saint of All Earplugs!” He exploded. “You realise what this is?”

“Of course,” Hair-Trigger – caught up in the moment, replied, “it’s a…it’s a…a…I don’t know what it is; but it must be terrific if you like it so much. You do like it, don’t you, Magnuss?”

“Like it?” Between breaths Magnuss’ pitch had risen several octaves. “I love it. It’s a Gravitonic Multiplicitor. The Scrotonites much have added this to the specifications. They don’t build ships without them. It’s a must-have piece of equipment.”

Hair-Trigger’s brow furrowed as she tried to recall where she had heard the name Gravitonic Multiplicitor before. Then it came to her…

She recalled that Folie Krimp and Placebo Bison had used one to move Mars into a new orbit around the Sun.  “Whoo,” she said, “with great power comes great responsibility. I hope we never need to activate it.”

This had a sobering effect on her new husband. “Yeah, you’re right. But it’s nice to know we have one – just in case we need one – which I know is unlikely: we’re on honeymoon after all.”

So, putting aside all thoughts of the wondrous machine that sat quiescent in the corner of Engineering, they set out once more upon their quest for a toilet…

“Some signage would be useful.” Hair-Trigger complained as they approached another unmarked door. “I’d like a few clues to show me that I’m going in the right direction.”

“Keep your nose tuned in for the smell of bleach.” Magnuss suggested helpfully, “Auntie Doris’s bathroom in her Spanish house always smells of bleach.”

But the aroma of ammonia was entirely absent as the couple passed into a long ill-lit corridor…

“More wasted space.” Magnuss grumbled.

But Hair-Trigger thought that she might have an explanation: “To work a Gravitonic Multiplicitor, isn’t it necessary to move it outside the ship?”

Magnuss slapped his forehead. “Of course.” He chuckled. “How could I have doubted the builders on Scroton?”

“Or Bunk-Bunk Bunsen.” Hair-Trigger added. “Other than the grainy windshield, the ship has behaved impeccably.” But she did wonder why he had placed Engineering so far from the ship’s hull.

Then their keen hearing caught something in the air-conditioning’s breeze…

“Do you hear that?” Magnuss said as they both slowed to a halt.

“It sounds….” Hair-Trigger began hesitantly, “it sounds like a dripping urinal.”

Magnuss wondered how his wife could recognise a dripping urinal, but he put the thought aside. Who knows what she had to do whilst married to a bounty hunter? “Look,” He cried. “Through here.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

If there’s one thing you’ve learned from reading Earplug Adventures, it’s this: never stray too far from a lavatory. I don’t.

Earplug Adventures:The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 8)

I’m yet to grind to a halt, so let’s keep this ball rolling while we can. Onwards – ever onwards!

Two minutes later they were driving the buggies from their bay…

…and straight on to the snow…

“Ooh,” Hair-Trigger sighed appreciatively, “I think I’ve just figured the sighting mechanism on this atomic cannon. It’s really simple: I can’t miss. I wonder if I’ll get a chance to fire it.”

But as they drove away from the Tankerville Norris, Magnuss made a discovery of his own. Two in fact…

“Hairy,” he called above the whine of his vehicle’s magnetic lifting motor, “there’s nowhere in this cockpit for me to have a wee. And it’s started to snow!”

Hair-Trigger pulled alongside…

“Mine too.” Hair-Trigger commiserated, “We’d better get going: maybe the mysterious city – if there is one – will have a public toilet we can use.”

Fortunately for them both, the buggies included anti-weather force-fields…

So, as the snowfall thickened and the temperature dived towards the lower end of the scale, the earplugs remained warm and dry.

“I can barely see where I’m going.” Magnuss complained via the buggy’s com-link. “Stay close: I don’t want to lose you in a white-out.”

Hair-Trigger felt much the same way, so she stuck the nose of her vehicle as close as possible to the rear of Magnuss’…

 

But the further they drove from the landing site…

 …so the conditions worsened dramatically. They climbed from their buggies to sample it first-hand.

“Yuk,” Hair-Trigger spat. “Not only is this snow blinding; but it tastes nasty too!”

 Magnuss had greater concerns. “If we don’t set out now, we might never get back.”

Seconds later, and in ever-worsening snowfall…

…the buggies raced at breakneck speed along a homing beam.

And, following fifteen minutes of high-speed panic…

…the Tankerville Norris and its passengers were whipping away as quickly as the ship could fly.

Whilst the earplugs had been exploring, the ship had been studying the enigma that was the turquoise planet. It had made some disturbing conclusions…

“Time.” Magnuss said as the ship imparted the information to him.

“Yes.” Hair-Trigger replied. “It passes much quicker here than elsewhere.”

Magnuss added: “We are witnessing the final throws of this planet’s evolution.”

“The end truly is nigh.” Hair-Trigger said with gravity utmost.

“Time to scoot, methinks.” Magnuss spoke grimly.

“Oh, Magnuss look at the planet’s surface.” Hair-Trigger wailed…

“Yikes!” Magnuss responded. “Let’s hope we can achieve escape velocity before it all goes bang.”

For several heart-stopping moments it appeared that the opposite was true…

But as the planet began to crack open in its death throws…

…the ship pitched upwards and accelerated away…

…and fled the conflagration.

Still seated in his pilot’s chair, Magnuss felt disconnected from events…

It was almost as if he was in a pastel garden and seated upon Susan’s huge green head.

Hair-Trigger too was suffering a hallucination…

But for her it was the image of endless corridors in mauve!

Then, mercifully, they were back in the room…

…and the Tankerville Norris was back in open space.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Please return for episode nine; you know it makes sense!

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 7)

Sin más dilación, volvamos a sumergirnos en la aventura …

Mientras tanto, muy, muy lejos, a través del vacío del espacio interestelar, Magnuss y Hair-Trigger habían ordenado al Tankerville Norris que los llevara al planeta turquesa. Pero, cuando Magnuss se encargó de hacer un estudio sensorial del mundo desconocido, Hair-Trigger no pudo evitar notar que se veía algo menos turquesa que antes, y decididamente diferente a la imagen original en la que Magnuss ahora mostraba. su puesto de trabajo…

“Magnuss”, llamó por encima de los pitidos de los sensores de la nave en funcionamiento, “ven aquí y dime qué piensas de esta extraña manifestación”.

Naturalmente, siendo un marido obediente durante varias horas, Magnuss sentó su trasero en su asiento. Fue desde esta posición que hizo varias tomas dobles entre las dos imágenes, contradictorias…

Todavía estaba en el acto de quedarse estupefacto, cuando Hair-Trigger gritó: “¡Magnuss, está cambiando de nuevo!”

Y fue. De hecho, cuando el barco se precipitó hacia su atmósfera, ahora solo era vagamente turquesa…

Más cerca de la superficie del antiguo mundo turquesa, los ocupantes del Tankerville Norris se sentían cada vez más perplejos…

Regiones enteras, tal vez todo el planeta, parecían congelarse rápidamente…

“Supongo que esto debe ser invierno”. Magnuss dijo mientras se encogía de hombros. “Seguro que viene rápido por aquí”.

Poco después, el barco sobrevoló un bosque que alguna vez fue verde y que ahora estaba cubierto de nieve… 

Magnuss estaba acostumbrado a volar en barcos que le obligaban a hacerle preguntas; su IA; piloto automático; o su Oracle. Todavía se sentía incómodo simplemente “sabiendo” la respuesta a cada pregunta que se hacía a sí mismo. Pero se sintió mucho menos cómodo cuando no “sabía” la respuesta: significaba que la pregunta estaba fuera de la esfera de conocimiento de la nave. Todo lo que sabía era que la nave había encontrado el planeta “interesante”, y que él (Magnuss) estaba mal equipado (técnicamente) para comprender adecuadamente qué era interesante sobre él. Me vinieron a la mente los términos Cambio de gravedad y Anomalía temporal ; pero realmente no ayudaron.

“Cuando regresemos”, dijo, “voy a sugerir que encajen en el oráculo de un barco: me gusta hacer preguntas, incluso si no obtengo una buena respuesta. A veces, rumiar metafóricamente con un oráculo puede producir resultados “.  

En el tiempo que le tomó a Magnuss decir las palabras, el barco había dejado el bosque muy atrás y ahora volaba bajo a través de un paisaje nevado, que Hair-Trigger sospechaba que antes había sido algo parecido a una pradera, solo que turquesa en lugar de color pradera…

No dispuestos a buscar en el barco ropa de congelador y raquetas de nieve, Magnuss y Hair-Trigger investigaron la bahía de vehículos todo terreno…

… donde encontraron dos buggies de elevación magnética. Uno era un buggy de exploración con techo abierto: el otro parecía ser un vehículo de ataque de supresión de fuego enemigo de apoyo cercano, con un gran cañón ensangrentado en el frente. Naturalmente, estaban emocionados. Y para cuando el Tankerville Norris había seleccionado una ubicación para un aterrizaje suave…

… Hair-Trigger había hecho su selección…

“Eso es un gran cañón”. Ella dijo. “Siempre he admirado los cañones grandes. Embolsé este “.

Magnuss tenía debilidad por las capotas blandas: estaba más que feliz de elegir el buggy de exploración.

La nave luego se sacudió mientras desaceleraba y descendía sobre una columna de corriente descendente energizada…

… y se posó sobre una roca congelada, de la que se había quitado la nieve recién caída…

Naturalmente, en un instante, vomitó a sus felices viajeros…

“Diablos, Hairy,” susurró Magnuss en el silencio de la escena invernal, “creo que echaremos de menos esas montañas: ninguna especie consciente elegiría vivir en un lugar tan inhóspito. Llevaremos los buggies en sentido contrario: es mucho más plano. ¡Podríamos encontrar una ciudad fabulosa o algo así! “

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 7)

Without further delay, let’s plunge back into the adventure…

Meanwhile, far, far away – across the void of interstellar space, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger had instructed the Tankerville Norris to take them to the turquoise planet. But, as Magnuss took it upon himself to make a sensor study of the unknown world, Hair-Trigger couldn’t help but notice that it looked somewhat less turquoise than it had previously, and decidedly different to the original image that Magnuss now displayed on his work station…

“Magnuss,” she called above the beeping sounds of the ship’s sensors at work, “come over here and tell me what you think of this strange manifestation.”

Naturally, being a dutiful husband of several hours, Magnuss sat his arse down in his seat. It was from this position that he did several double-takes between the two, contradictory, images…

He was still in the act of being dumbfounded, when Hair-Trigger cried out: “Magnuss, it’s changing again!”

And it was. In fact, as the ship plunged toward its atmosphere, it was now only vaguely turquoise…

Closer to the surface of the formerly turquoise world, the occupants of the Tankerville Norris grew more and more perplexed…

Whole regions – perhaps the entire planet – appeared to be quickly freezing over…

“I guess this must be winter.” Magnuss said as he shrugged his shoulders. “It sure comes on quickly around here.”

Shortly the ship flew over a once verdant forest that was now snowbound… 

Magnuss was used to flying in ships that required him to ask questions of it; its A.I; autopilot; or its Oracle. He still felt uncomfortable simply ‘knowing’ the answer to every question that he asked himself. But he felt a lot less comfortable when he didn’t ‘know’ the answer: it meant the question was outside the ship’s sphere of knowledge. All he knew was that the ship had found the planet ‘interesting’, and that he (Magnuss) was ill-equipped (technically) to properly understand what was interesting about it. The terms Gravity Shift and Temporal Anomaly sprung to mind; but they didn’t really help.

“When we get back,” he said, “I’m gonna suggest that they fit a ship’s oracle: I like to ask questions – even if I don’t get a good answer. Chewing the metaphorical cud with an oracle can sometimes produce results.”  

In the time that it took for Magnuss to say the words, the ship had left the forest far behind, and now flew low across a snow-scape, which Hair-Trigger suspected had earlier been something akin to a prairie – only turquoise instead of prairie-coloured…

Unwilling to search the ship for deep-freezer wear and snow shoes, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger investigated the all-terrain vehicle bay…

…where they found two mag-lift buggies. One was an open-topped ‘scout’ buggy: the other appeared to be a close-support enemy fire suppression attack vehicle – with a bloody great cannon on the front. Naturally they were thrilled. And by the time that the Tankerville Norris had selected a location for a soft landing…

…Hair-Trigger had made her selection…

“That’s a big cannon.” She said. “I’ve always admired big cannons. I bags this one.”

Magnuss had a soft spot for soft tops: he was more than happy to choose the scout buggy.

The ship then juddered as it slowed and descended upon a column of energized downdraft…

…and settled upon a frozen rock, from which the newly-fallen snow had been blasted…

Naturally, in an instant, it disgorged its happy travellers…

“Flipping heck, Hairy,” Magnuss all but whispered in the silence of the wintery scene, “I think we’ll give those mountains a miss: no sentient species would choose to live in such an inhospitable place. We’ll take the buggies in the opposite direction: it’s much flatter. We might find a fabulous city or something!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 6)

We’re on a roll now. There was simply no way to hold back the next episode a moment longer. Welcome to part six.

Chapter 2

Neither occupant of the gloriously blue vessel knew exactly how much time had passed whilst they traversed hyperspace…

They were far too busy being newlyweds. But, eventually they departed the galley, where they had been munching ravenously on chocolate chip cookies, and entered the bridge…

The holographic view screen informed them that they were still racing across the Galaxy at a good pace and that all was tickety boo with the ship’s systems.

As biscuit crumbs tumbled to the deck from Magnuss’ chin, he said: “I know:  let’s stop and take in the view.”

“Yeah,” Hair-Trigger replied enthusiastically, “Let’s be random: let’s just hit the brakes and see what happens.”

So they did…

But when they raced to the observation window they discovered a flaw in Bunk-Bunk Bunsen’s ship design…

The view of a nearby asteroid was clouded by graining on the exterior of the window.

“Guess Bunk-Bunk must have specified the wrong type of material.” Hair-Trigger wagered. “Cosmic dust has eroded the outer surface of the window.”

“Or maybe he forgot to include a deflector shield.” Magnuss suggested.

Hair-Trigger had another explanation. “Perhaps the Scrotonites had to cut corners somewhere and chose a cheaper, less resilient glass.”

Magnuss doubted the idea’s veracity. “No, Scrotonites would never do that. Earplugs might: but not Scrotonites. Well it’s certainly spoiled the view. If I ever meet Bunk-Bunk Bunsen, I’m gonna kick him right up the arse.”

But their spirits lifted somewhat when they discovered a secondary window…

“Oh, I can’t look,” Hair-Trigger squealed as she averted her gaze. “It’s like there’s nothing to separate us from the whole of space, time, and infinity – except those bars, of course. But we could easily slip between them and be lost in the gravity-free vacuum of interstellar space for eternity.”

Magnuss thought that his wife was becoming slightly fanciful, but he said nothing: Hair-Trigger had the key to the biscuit barrel down the back of her knickers, and he didn’t want to annoy her.

Two minutes later they had dropped a level – to the bridge…

A planet loomed large upon the view screen.

“That looks…ur…very turquois,” Magnuss observed.

“Do you think the ship is trying to show us something interesting?” Hair-Trigger both inquired and suggested in one sentence.

Magnuss was certain of it, and moments later the Tankerville Norris assumed a course towards the planet…

…which took it alarmingly close to the local sun…

Had they not discovered the damaged observation window, neither Magnuss nor Hair-Trigger could have cared less about the proximity of a vast stellar furnace on their port bow; but they had, and they grew a little nervous. What else could fail on a ship so new, and that had been assembled from a very large flat-pack in the Museum of Future Technology?

Talking of which…

…Cushions was on her way back to the Curator’s Suite from the executive toilet, when she met with her principal love-interest (if that’s what you could call it) Hunting Provost…

“Oh, Hunting,” she whispered conspiratorially, “I have a confession to make.”

“Do I look like a priest?” He snapped in response.

This surprised Cushions: it was not like Hunting to be waspish. “Oh,” she said, “so you’re worried about them too.”

“Just because I was a lousy husband and allowed Hair-Trigger to divorce me without argument, doesn’t mean that I don’t care for her. Yes, I’m worried that she has gone gallivanting across the galaxy in an untested space ship that was thrown together by a bunch of the museum’s technical staff. What of it?”

Cushions nodded. “Yes, well it’s got me in a bit of a dither too. This morning I completely forgot to reconfigure the security protocols of the Omnipresent Scanner to allow Cheeky McMartin access to it.  I’m ashamed to say, three of the anti-burglar lasers zapped him good and proper…”

“In which case,” Hunting replied sharply, “perhaps you’d better hand the tiller to Winston Gloryhole or Cheerful Charlie Chopsticks: clearly, whilst Magnuss and Hair-Trigger are away, neither of us is fit for command.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

The galley, a biscuit barrel, and some chocolate chip cookies were all mentioned in this episode. They are, as I imagine you’ve guessed, metaphorical. This story may have under-aged readers: so we can’t make any mention of the story’s central characters engaging in matrimonial sexual intercourse – can we!

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 4)

The photos have been taken and processed. The words to accompany them have been written. Why not post them? No reason not to. Here’s episode four…

Moments later the lights dimmed; a stage was rolled in; and the Trumptations broke into a special wedding version of their hit, Beauty is Only Skin Bleach

This was followed by the booming bass-driven sounds of a Hambledon Bohannon track, which was expertly danced to by the Greenhorn Girls…

Then, to ice the metaphysical cake, Las Bragas returned… 

 …and everyone ‘got down’ to the Latin beat…

 

 …though Nigel had to make a quick exit. He was needed elsewhere. Elsewhere like the museum’s Red Tower…

Shortly he joined Cushions and the slightly bemused newlyweds…  

“I’ve never been here before.” Magnuss confessed. “Where are we going?”

“That would be telling.” Cushions replied.

“It’s a mystery location.” Nigel added. “Very few people know where it is – including me.”  

But when the signage petered out, it transpired that Cushions didn’t have much clue either…

“Oh dear,” she explained, “I’ve only been here once – and that was with your former husband, Hair-Trigger: I’m afraid I wasn’t paying enough attention: Hunting was trying to tickle my bum with a feather boa that he keeps in his utility belt.”

Hair-Trigger nodded sagely in response: she well-remembered Hunting’s feather boa. Fortunately a scientist in Lab 17 was able to shout directions through the bullet-proof glass window. But less fortunately the glass was also sound-proof, and none of them were particularly adept at lip reading: so before long they were hopelessly lost. But Cushions put a call through to the Security Suite, and a holographic image of one of the on-duty RoboSecGuas appeared in half-size form and showed them the way…   

Nigel was impressed. “Nice technology.” He said. “From the future?”

“Isn’t everything in the museum?” Cushions replied as they followed the hologram’s directions.

Soon Cushions found herself on more familiar ground…  

“Ah, yes, I remember this bit.” She said confidently. “But it’s a bit dark: I wonder where they keep the dimmer switch?”

But she didn’t need to worry. Nigel lived up to his name and emitted a golden glow…  

…that allowed them to see their way to a large observation window, beyond which something resided in a most interesting manner… 

 “I’m getting a good feeling from this.” Magnuss said as he peered down from his high vantage point.

“It’s a bit like that trip you took to the Martian ship building facility.” Hair-Trigger reminded him.

Magnuss had to agree. But then he thought on: “But there is no ship building in the Red Tower.” He replied.

But he said no more: the lights had come up and a small space ship had trundled into view upon an advanced and futuristic conveyor belt…  

“The Scroterton Pancake.” Cushions announced. “Brought here in flat-pack form aboard Nigel’s star ship. If you like it, it is your honeymoon barge – to take you wherever you want to go.” 

]“Designed and built in our second great city, Scroterton.” Nigel informed them. “Of course if red doesn’t float your boat, how about a more subtle shade of grey?” 

 

Following a deep intake of breath by both Magnuss and Hair-Trigger, Nigel added: “It’s called the Sir Goosewing Grey. It’s named after a great captain of industry on Scroton – Goosewing Grey, whom I knighted for his creation of the Snotty-Nosed Sharon children’s toy. It revolutionised the way Scrotonic children play. Previously they’d always spent their formative years picking their noses: now they had a doll that could do it for them. I.Qs leapt overnight.”

 “I’d like to meet him.” Magnuss replied. “He’s not dead, is he?” 

But before Nigel could answer his inquiry, Hair-Trigger spoke. “The Scroterton Pancake looks a bit threatening. I wouldn’t want to go scaring alien species with its evil red colouration. And the grey one…well it’s so dark, we could lose it in a fog.” 

Cushions was about to say something that might have gone: “Ungrateful git; you should be thankful for whatever’s on offer.”

But she didn’t get the opportunity, because a third vessel – cloaked in shadows – appeared in the window…

 “Lights!” Magnuss shouted.

Instantly the new arrival became bathed in a suffuse light that did it all sorts of aesthetic favours…  

“Oooh,” Hair-Trigger sighed appreciatively, “nice. A rich blue upper fuselage; and a stealthy black underside. I’ll take it.”

Magnuss didn’t argue – not that he would have, even if the colour scheme had made him retch. “Tankerville Norris.” He added. “What does that mean?” 

“Well,” Nigel replied as he settled himself down to tell a tale, “It wasn’t supposed to be called the Tankerville Norris. Not originally. Originally it bore the moniker, The Love Hutch. But one of our engineers thought it sounded a little risqué, so he suggested the Bunk-Bunk Bunson – named after the factory in which the prototype was developed.” 

Magnuss held up a hand to stem the flow of words. “I know I’m going to regret this; but why was the factory called Bunk-Bunk Bunson?” 

To his surprise it was Cushions who answered this inquiry…

 “Honestly, Magnuss,” she scolded, “haven’t you been keeping up with the trans-Galactic news network? Bunk-Bunk Bunson was an earplug who travelled to Scroton from the future. Actually his name wasn’t Bunk-Bunk Bunsen: it was merely Bunson. But he was so nervous – when he was arrested by the Scrotonic security forces – that he stammered when asked for his identity. From then on he became known as Bunk-Bunk Bunson.”

“Oh,” Magnuss responded, “I’d like to meet him too.” He then turned to Nigel: “I suppose he had the designs of the new ship in his back pocket, and you took them off him?”

“Quite so.” Nigel smiled proudly. “Then we sent him on his way – back to the future – where the Time Police most probably arrested him for disturbing the time-line or some such. In recognition of his great sacrifice, we named the factory after him. It was the least we could do.”

It was Magnuss’ turn to nod sagely. “Yes, I understand completely. So the original design was labelled Tankerville Norris. Yes, it all makes sense.” 

Then the light that shone upon the Tankerville Norris shifted subtly… 

 …and revealed Susan, in her amorphous blob mode, as she searched for Chester whilst they played Hide and Seek. 

“That’s handy.” Hair-Trigger said as she turned to watch, “that gives us something to compare the ship with. Until I saw Susan, I couldn’t gauge its size or scale.” 

“Hey, that must be Chester in that forward observation window.” Magnuss cried out with glee. “Good place to hide, bro: Susan is too big to get through the airlock.”  

“Ah,” Nigel said with an air of knowledgeability, “the forward observation window. Great care must be taken with that. It is made from patrisha nancitate, and has a magnifying effect – to better see distant planets of course. But it also works both ways. People outside can see you inside – magnified hugely. It can scare the hell out of primitive alien life-forms: they think everyone inside is a vast giant – and take to their heels without hesitation. It’s also best to keep your trousers on when using it. It’s a modesty thing. I think you’ll understand.” 

This concerned Hair-Trigger. She didn’t want to go scaring primitive alien life-forms: and she sometimes liked to use observation windows whilst in her night gown. “So why isn’t Chester huge and scary?” She inquired. 

“It only works in space.” Nigel replied. He then pressed a button on the window frame. The view of the Tankerville Norris was instantly replaced by an image of the ship in flight…

 …and it was Game Over. 

“Give me the keys,” an eager Magnuss pleaded, “give me the keys: I gotta check this baby out!” 

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

There, wasn’t that nice! “Are there sufficient photos for a Part 5?” I hear you ask. Silly question: of course there are.

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 3)

Así que solo he tomado el veinte por ciento de las fotos que necesito para contar una historia sobre tapones para los oídos: ¿y qué? Con ese veinte por ciento puedo contar el veinte por ciento de la historia. ¿Por qué esperar hasta que todo esté en su lugar? Entonces no lo haré. Aquí está el cien por ciento del tercer episodio…

Este momento, tan cargado de emoción, resultó demasiado para Susan. Perdiendo el control de sus partes constituyentes, tomó su forma amorfa habitual y lloró con lágrimas de alegría… 

 … lo que divirtió a todos, incluso a los que miraban desde lejos. Aquellos como… 

 … Placebo Bison y Folie Krimp a bordo del Gravity Whelk…  

Pero aunque su arrebato duró poco, Magnuss y Hair-Trigger no pudieron borrar las sonrisas de sus rostros cuando comenzó la ceremonia propiamente dicha…  

El ángel de la nariz enorme pasó por los procedimientos necesarios. Todas esas cosas de “Nos reunimos aquí hoy”. Y, “Está a la vista del Ser Supremo mismo”, algo así. Y cuando Hunting Provost no dio un paso al frente y gritó su queja cuando el Ángel dijo: “¿Alguien aquí tiene algo negativo que decir sobre esta unión?”, Continuaron con los votos, que no salieron del todo según lo planeado porque Hair- Trigger hizo que su lengua se retorciera alrededor del segundo nombre de Magnuss, y lo llamó Magnuss Finklestink Earplug…  

“Eso es ‘Finklestein’, querida”. El amable Avatar corrigió el nervioso tapón para los oídos multicolor. 

“Ese es el tipo”. Hair-Trigger respondió alegremente. “Es genial, ¿no es así? Lo amo tanto. Me alegro mucho de que se case conmigo “. 

Cuando se trataba de que Magnuss hiciera sus votos, no tenía ese problema…   

Pero hizo un apéndice: “Por cierto, yo también siento lo mismo por ella”. 

Fue mientras la audiencia se reía con este estallido silencioso de tapones para los oídos que Cushions Smethwyke se volvió hacia los otros curadores… 

 “Bien, tengo algo que hacer. Alegre Charlie, graba lo que sucede a continuación en su teléfono móvil “. Luego se fue, salió por una puerta lateral que muy poca gente conocía.

 Cuando la puerta se cerró con un clic detrás de Cushions, las luces del Gran Salón se atenuaron una vez más. Una luz azul, creada por el ángel con la bioluminiscencia sagrada de una nariz enorme, brilló sobre Magnuss y Hair-Trigger…

“Magnuss y Hair-Trigger Earplug”, dijo en voz alta, para que todos, incluso los idiotas sordos en la parte de atrás, pudieran escuchar, “Ahora los declaro tapón para los oídos y esposa”.

El Avatar luego agregó: “Magnuss, ahora puedes besar a la novia”.

Rupert Piles no perdió ni un segundo: estaba como un rabioso ganador de boletos de lotería para un primer plano…  

“Hola, señora Earplug”. Magnuss dijo después de su abrazo público.

Al igual que la multitud en el Gran Salón, y las masas que miran a lo largo del Museo de Tecnología del Futuro, a lo lejos, en una misión en el espacio profundo, la tripulación del puente de observación del KT Woo se vitoreó hasta quedar ronca… 

 … Hasta que varios de ellos se rompieron en un ataque de tos.  

Y Yu-Wah y Way-Hey Pong no pudieron evitar dar un paso adelante para tener una mejor vista de la unión de su querido amigo… 

Fue en este punto del procedimiento que Nigel aprovechó la oportunidad para dar un paso al frente también…  

“Magnuss”, dijo en un tono ultra masculino y estentóreo que hizo que las mujeres de voluntad débil presentes se desmayaran donde estaban, “has sido un gran aliado para mi mundo. Cuando Cushions me llamó con un problema y me dijo que te preocupaba, me puse mi gorra de pensamiento metafórico. Creo que todavía no has decidido un lugar para la luna de miel.

Tanto Magnuss como Hair-Trigger estaban demasiado abrumados para responder: se limitaron a sonreír y negar con la cabeza.

“Bueno, tengo la respuesta a tu problema”. Nigel continuó. “Lo traje conmigo, de Scroton. Cuando se completen los procedimientos, les pido que se unan a mí “.  

Naturalmente, se aceptaron los dos tapones para los oídos. ¿Cómo podrían no hacerlo? No es que quisieran, por supuesto.

“Sho’nuf, Nige”. Magnuss se las arregló, luego se sintió vagamente avergonzado porque era algo que su hermano, Valentine, podría haber dicho.

Fue salvado por Hair-Trigger, “Gracias, Golden One: lo haremos”.

Entonces llegó el momento de su gran salida… 

Los Hermanos Earplug constituían la mitad de la Guardia de Honor. Los suboficiales de la Séptima Caballería constituían la otra mitad. Y la pareja partió del Gran Salón al son de los cuernos combinados de Las Bragas de Alegría y tres vítores entusiastas. 

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Por supuesto, esto es solo el comienzo de la historia. ¡Vuelve para lo que sucede a continuación!

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 3)

So I’ve only shot twenty percent of the photos that I need to tell an earplug tale:  so what? With that twenty percent I can tell twenty percent of the story. Why wait around until everything is in place? So I won’t. Here is a hundred percent of the third episode…

This moment, so charged with emotion, proved too much for Susan. Losing control of her constituent parts, she took on her regular amorphous shape and wailed with tears of joy… 

 …which amused everyone – even those watching far away. Those like… 

 …Placebo Bison and Folie Krimp aboard the Gravity Whelk…  

But although her outburst was short-lived, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger couldn’t quite wipe the smiles from their faces as the ceremony proper began…  

The Angel with a Huge Nose went through the necessary procedures. All that “We gather here today to,” stuff. And, “It is in the sight of the Supreme Being himself” sort of thing. And when Hunting Provost failed to step up and yell his complaint when the Angel said: “Does anyone here have anything negative to say about this union?”, they got on with the vows, which didn’t go quite to plan because Hair-Trigger got her tongue twisted around Magnuss’ middle name, and called him Magnuss Finklestink Earplug…  

“That’s ‘Finklestein’, dear.” The kindly Avatar corrected the nervous multi-coloured earplug. 

“That’s the guy.” Hair-Trigger responded cheerfully. “He’s great – isn’t he? I love him so much. I’m really glad it’s me he’s marrying.” 

When it came to Magnuss making his vows, he had no such problem…   

But he did make an addendum: “By the way, I feel the same way about her too.” 

It was whilst the audience tittered at this quiet outburst of earplugness that Cushions Smethwyke turned to the other curators… 

 “Right, I’ve got something I have to do. Cheerful Charlie, you record what happens next on your mobile phone.” Then she was gone, out through a side door that very few people knew about.

 As the door clicked shut behind Cushions, the lights in the Grand Hall dimmed once more. A blue light, created by the Angel with a Huge Nose’s holy bioluminescence, shone upon Magnuss and Hair-Trigger…

“Magnuss and Hair-Trigger Earplug,” she said loudly, so that all – even the deaf sods at the back – could hear, “I now pronounce you earplug and wife.”

The Avatar then added: “Magnuss, you may now kiss the bride.”

Rupert Piles didn’t waste a second: he was in like rabid lottery ticket winner for a close-up…  

“Hello, Missus Earplug.” Magnuss said following their very public embrace.

Like the crowd in the Grand Hall, and the masses watching throughout the Museum of Future Technology, far away, upon a deep space mission, the watching bridge crew of the K T Woo all cheered themselves hoarse… 

 …until a number of them broke down in a coughing fit.  

And Yu-Wah and Way-Hey Pong couldn’t stop themselves from stepping forward for a better view of their dear friend’s union… 

It was at this point in proceedings that Nigel took the opportunity to also step forward…  

“Magnuss,“ he said in an ultra-masculine and stentorian tone that had the weaker-willed females present fainting where they stood, “you have been a great ally to my world. When Cushions called me with a problem, and mentioned that it concerned you, I put my metaphorical thinking cap on. You still haven’t decided upon a honeymoon location, I believe?”

Both Magnuss and Hair-Trigger were too overcome to reply: they merely grinned and shook their heads in negation.

“Well I have the answer to your problem.” Nigel continued. “I brought it with me, from Scroton. When proceedings are complete, I ask you to join me.”  

Naturally the two earplugs accepted. How could they not? Not that they wanted to, of course.

“Sho’nuf, Nige.” Magnuss managed – then felt vaguely embarrassed because it was something that his brother, Valentine might have said.

He was saved by Hair-Trigger’s, “Thank you, Golden One: we shall.”

Then it was time for their grand exit… 

The Earplug Brothers made up one half of the Guard of Honour. The non-commissioned officers of the Seventh Cavalry constituted the other half. And the couple departed the Grand Hall to the combined horns of Las Bragas de Alegría and three rousing cheers. 

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Of course this is only the beginning of the story. Come back for what happens next!

The Set: The Scene 4

If you are one of those brave folk who have persisted with the consumption of Earplug Adventures over a long period of time, it’s quite probable that you will recall pertinent scenes by your recognition of a set – or vice versa. But just to test that hypothesis, check out the following. Here’s a simple one to start with. Two yellow earplugs standing upon a tarpaulin that has sagged and filled with rain water…

What great potentiality did I notice in this? Yes, it’s…

…two of the dancing Greenhorn Girls (can’t remember which ones) by the beach in The Missing.

So what about this fabulously vague piece of cardboard that has been dirtied by the incessant rubbing against it by lengths of aluminium extrusion, and a sheet of translucent plastic stuff that wrapped the aforementioned?

Well, combined artistically they become…

…a snow scene and a distant wintery forest. Honestly they do. Look here’s those unemployed (and unemployable) couch potatoes, D’Neferious Berk, Freda Conk, Numpty Dingbat and Clem Borstal in a scene from Time Shard Museum

Getting the hang of it? Try this one…

If you’re not sure what you’re looking at, it’s two pieces of split 4 x 2 timber, set against a sheet of styrofoam. Now clearly this is supposed to be a rock formation and a blue/grey sky. No? Well it is. And the end result of my transformation of the original shot is…

…Patti Roularde and Nobby Hollister engaged on a Precipitous Ledge Walk in a snow storm in Haunted Mars. Ah, now you remember. So what about this one..?

There’s some giveaway signage on this piece of legendary prop. What does it say? Transfer Conduit Station Seven? Lordy, has this set been used a multitude of times – though not always as Transfer Conduit Station Seven…

Here it is as Lottery Central in Winning Numbers, and in the following shot as a desert fortress in Cometh the Earplug Vol 2…

Of course I couldn’t let this set pass without displaying it as it should be seen: as the previously mentioned Transfer Conduit Station –  this time witnessing the arrival of the Jaundice Family in Unity Vol 2…

So, try your hand at this set…

Ugh, it’s a nasty rust stain at the bottom of a brick wall that appears to be on the inside of a factory or warehouse. No it’s not. Not in my make-believe world it aint. It’s actually…

…a wonderful distant city, discovered (in The Grand Tour Vol 2) by sibling adventurers Dorkan and Dawlish Deathwish. And what an adventure they had. Of course you can view all of the Earplug Adventures by clicking HERE and reading (or downloading) the complete stories in PDF. Do it now – before the servers are overwhelmed by demand.

 

Rejoice: Good News, Earpluggers…

…principal photography has begun on the 42nd Earplug Adventure – or the Forty-Two’eth episode, as I prefer to call it. And just to prove that the camera hand is still firm and capable, here’s a trio of shots for the opening segment of the tale…

Yes, that last shot features Nigel the Golden One – leader of the Planet Scroton. He’s back! Can’t wait for more? Neither can I!

Flipping Heck, It Must Be Some Kind of Earplugfest!

To whomever decided to download every Earplug Adventure ever written today (20/09/21)…all I can say is: “Wow!” Hope you enjoy them.

Of course anyone else who might fancy a giggle or two can emulate the mystery reader and either read them on-line, or download them for later by visiting the appropriate Page on this site. Anyone interested can take the shortcut to it right HERE.

Then you too can experience the…ah…Earplug Experience for yourself. Here’s a random representative e-book cover. Nice, isn’t it!

 

 

Tooty’s Pissed Off Again

I didn’t think it unreasonable of me to expect to add The Age of Stone to my list of free e-books on this blog’s sidebar. I mean, every other book is there: why not the latest? Well WordPress had other ideas. The ‘Classic’ posting system just wouldn’t  work. I mean, it wasn’t even there to try. And the new ‘Block’  system (which I loathe with an intensity usually reserved for recalcitrant ink jet printers and DVD players that can’t recognise that there is a DVD in the tray) just sat there and did nothing – for ten minutes – before I gave up; called it several names, none of which are printable here; cursed the designer of the ‘block’ system to perminent impotence, considered creating a voodoo doll; and decided on an alternative course of action. And this is the alternative course of action. All Earplug Adventures in PDF Format Unexpurgated & FREE! Yup, there’s a page beneath the header that now contains every Earplug Adventure file, which can be accessed by anyone and everyone absolutely free. And very nice they are too. Well worth a visit. Now, if WordPress would kindly allow me, I’d like to remove those free e-books from their fucking sidebar. But I’m not hopeful. Bunch of shits.

 

The Age of Stone – in it’s entirety – FREE!

You may have missed the odd episode of The Age of Stone along the way; but that doesn’t matter anymore because the free PDF version has arrived for you to either download and read at your leisure (and perhaps share with your friends), or to read in situ right here. Try to comprehend the magnitude of this wondrous offer: it is unequalled in the history of literature and photography. All those photos: all those words: all that creative genius – absolutely FREE! Just click on the book cover image, and it’s all yours, yours, yours!

Earlier Earplug Adventure books are also available too. Just click on the side bar images to access  them. Or, better still, visit the All Earplug Adventures in PDF Format Unexpurgated & FREE! page beneath the header.

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: La Era de la Piedra (parte 24)

Pero aún así, la situación empeoró para Wonky SB. No contentos con despojarlo de su mono atómico, Miles y Chester dejaron rasgar sus calzoncillos divinos…

… y el aspirante a vengador se vio obligado a ocultar sus regiones inferiores poniéndose en cuclillas de la manera más indigna…

“No”, se lamentó, “me rindo. No más. Déjame en paz.”

“Ve”, gritó Magnuss en respuesta, “antes de que te destruyamos por completo”.

“Voy. Voy.” Wonky SB dijo apresuradamente cuando un extraño portal rojo se abrió detrás de él…

Luego, con la derrota grabada en cada paso que daba, Wonky SB recogió los restos de sus calzoncillos y vagó, vacilante, de regreso a su reino incognoscible…

Pero cuando se volvió para mirar a su némesis…

… una fuerza lo agarró y lo arrastró hacia un caldero turbulento de energía…

… Que podría haber sido un agujero negro.

Por un momento, los chicos simplemente se quedaron allí en estado de shock. Luego, una cascada de bonitas partículas de energía descendió sobre ellos…

Por supuesto, era el Ser Supremo en modo de celebración…

“Bien hecho muchachos. Qué trabajo tan brillante. Ahora regresen aquí “.

Un latido después, ellos y la subunidad principal de Susan estaban en una ventana de observación en el Ruibarbo Crumble

“No podríamos haberlo hecho sin tus poderes”. Magnuss informó al Ser Supremo. Pero estaba siendo cortés: obviamente, el Ser Supremo ya lo sabía. Y Susan también. Añadió.

“De hecho”, dijo el Ser Supremo mientras miraba la subunidad principal de Susan, “si ella no hubiera intervenido en el momento apropiado, todo podría haberse perdido. Enhorabuena a ti también, pequeña mancha verde. Ahora espero que a todos les guste volver al Museo de Tecnología del Futuro para una discoteca de celebración. Bueno, sigue tu camino: creo que encontrarás el viaje de regreso algo más corto que el de aquí “.

Pero, por supuesto, antes de que el Ruibarbo Crumble pudiera ir a alguna parte, estaba la cuestión de devolver el Gorgojo Trunnion a su lugar en el almacén…

Luego, completada la tarea, la primera nave que salió de la nueva línea de producción marciana atravesó el extraño y cambiante paisaje…

… y salió disparado hacia el cielo…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 27)

Shortly after everyone had re-integrated themselves with the disco groove, Chester met  with Susan’s primary sub-unit, and Magnuss with Hair-Trigger.

Susan suggested that Chester and she should “Adjourn to the open air”, which Chester pretended to think about for half a nanosecond…

And Magnuss asked Hair-Trigger if she would marry him…

Fortunately the music volume was just low enough to let him hear her reply.

“Yes!” She yelled. “Yes. It’s about bloody time: I thought you’d never ask!”

Of course, standing so nearby, Chester and Susan heard everything. So it was with a cosy glow around them that they abandoned the crowded dance floor…

…and strolled into the open air of the Age of Stone exhibit…

“Up you go, Chester.” Susan said as she changed shape and slipped her ‘head’ beneath her earplug chum…

…“Let’s go somewhere quiet. Let’s get lost in the Age of Stone.”

So they did, and they had a bloody good frolic in the moonlight through the castle’s giant buttercup garden…

“Whee,” they cried in unison, “this is the best day of my life!”

Meanwhile the Rhubarb Crumble had received a summons from Mars, and so had returned to its home planet under the command of the autopilot…

The timing was impeccable because, in the rest room the entire engineering staff was watching the credits roll on the last episode of Season Two of Destination: the Stars…

“I think that was excellent. Perfect, in fact.” Budgitte Wilgoss opined.

To which Lawrence Endocarp responded: “I concur wholeheartedly.”

And Douglas Dungipon added: “And the TV show wasn’t bad either. But it’s not a patch on real life. I wonder what those Earplug Brothers will think of doing next.”

“Whatever it is,” his supervisor replied, “I hope they don’t invite us along. One adventure is quite enough for me.”

The End

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021