Tag Archives: photography

Apologies, Earpluggers – Again

After the aborted start to the 44th Earplug Adventure – Epoch of Dung – I can now announce that this time I’m actually ready to start posting episodes properly. There are currently 231 fully processed shots in the can, and probably just a handful more to snap before I can say “Done!” Regular stories require 400+ shots, so I guess this is a photo-novella in comparison. The previous shortest story was Natural Selection; but I’m pretty certain this one is coming in under that fabulous tome. Here’s a brief montage…

Lots of cameos included this time. See if you can remember which tales the characters have appeared in before. And there’s a tsunami too!

Watch this space!

 

Tooty the Chef and the Near Linguine Cheese Disaster

Tooty the Chef had been talked into attempting his late wife’s signature Spaghetti Cheese. Despite a talent that transcends gastronomy, he had his doubts – especially when he discovered that the larder contained insufficient quantities of Italy’s finest export (not counting Asti Spumante of course). So he went with Linguine instead. I mean, why not: it’s all bloody pasta, isn’t it? After boiling it for the required period of time, he drained the sloppy result and went looking for his world-famous Roasting Thing. But, oh curses; something inexplicable had happened to his world-famous Roasting Thing. A corner had fallen off!

What a to-do. And what was he to do? His other Roasting Thing was too small and oval shaped. No good at all. Then his late wife came to the rescue. The thought entered his head that he should look on the bottom shelf – right at the back – of the kitchen corner unit; a place that is best known for chill winds and stygian darkness. And there he found it: a new, never-been-used Roasting Thing. So he mixed the linguine with some chopped tomatoes, passata, tomato paste, garlic paste, grated cheddar, grated mozzarella, black pepper, spaghettata al limone, and peas. The gooey result was then hurled into the middle shelf of a maxxed-out oven for twenty-five minutes…

Yippie – spaghetti cheese – just the way his children’s mother used to make it…

…except for the linguine – so it wasn’t quite the same. But it was similar. Another success for the floppy-buttocked burk!

Tooty the Chef’s Tips on Presentation.

Here’s a very simple tip to follow from Tooty the Chef…

It really doesn’t matter how you slap the grub on the plate: just make sure that the cutlery matches the accompanying drink. Or vice versa. The guests / recipients will be so impressed that no one will notice the food…

Hoi Sin stir fry, by the way. Tasty.

Throw Something Together Quick with Tooty the Chef

If you’re anything like Tooty (unlikely, but there must be one or two) you too will be the forgetful sort who arses about doing inconsequential stuff when you should be preparing that meal you so hate cooking – but have to because no one else will. Well, guess what, that happened to Tooty, only today. There he was, thoroughly enjoying himself, doing something that didn’t need doing, when the clock chimed – to remind him that time was of the essence. Something needed cooking, and it needed cooking now. Enter Tooty the Chef…

No time for planning: action was needed. And action it got – whatever ‘it’ was. Straight out of the fridge, an onion was rapidly diced…

This was quickly followed by some breakneck carrot shaving…

and dicing into quite large lumps. As were some sweet potatoes…

Already an idea had burst with incandescence from the fertile mind of the aging gastronome..,.

Pork fillet and pre-made puff pastry. Tooty the Chef was gonna make a pie sort of thing. So it was time to trim off the nasty fatty bits of the pork fillet…

…and cut it into slices…

…which, in turn, were reduced to lumps approximately twice the size of the sweet potato chunks…

…coz everyone knows that meat cooks waaaay quicker than sturdy root vegetables.

Next up, the pastry invited an assault of the rolling pin kind…

Sadly this meant that Tooty the Chef had to re-injure his problematic shoulder by reaching high into the wall cupboard for some flour…

…which resulted in unprintable expletives that might have included, “Bum”, “Arse”, and “Deary me, that did hurt so, I don’t know what to do.”

But, naturally, he quickly overcame the agony, and before you could say: “Forget it bladder: I’m not going to the toilet until this job is finished”, his quicksilver fingers were rolling out the pastry…

Then a thought struck. It was a fundamental sort of thought. It went: “Ugh, whatta my gonna cook this in?” Time to go searching the cooking crockery cupboard that his late wife kept so well stocked, and which he is yet to clear out…

Please note fabulous yellow trousers. From this angle, I bet you’re glad he no longer cooks sans ligerie. Well there were quite a few bowls and stuff that were microwave and dishwasher-proof. But only one that was oven-proof. Like it or not, all the ingredients would have to fit inside it. Using the bowl as a template, Tooty the Chef cut two circles of pastry… 

One, he placed in the bottom of the bowl…

After all, he did describe this as a ‘pie sort of thing’, not actually a pie.

A decision was then required. What spices to add to the ingredients? Hmmm, tricky. So he tried pot luck and selected some Spanish stuff intended for chimichurri… 

…which he mixed in with the onion, sweet potato, carrot, and pork. He then rammed the whole lot into the bowl…,

…and laid the second circle of pastry on top – whilst using the left-overs to seal the edge and create a wonderful central decoration that wouldn’t have disgraced Leonardo Di Vinci…

Here it is in a moodier light…

The speckles in the pastry are some of the spices that stuck to his hands. He didn’t wash them off before applying the top: he doesn’t approve of waste. Naturally the bowl was eased into a pre-warmed (and maxxed-out) oven, for (he estimated) fifty-five minutes…

Fifty-five minutes later…

Yum, or what! A drop of beef gravy, and voila...

See, cooking aint so bad. It doesn’t have to take hours. Give it a go. Let your imagination loose. Take a chance with the ingredients. The result will always be palatable to someone – even if it’s only the dog. He hates to admit it, but Tooty the Chef has found that cooking can almost be rewarding.

There is Always an Arsehole

It doesn’t seem to matter where you live, there always seems to be at least one arsehole in the vicinity. During 2021 the village in which I live decided on a ‘Greening’ campaign. Wild flower seeds were distributed to every household, with the intention that it’s occupants would plant them, and the gardens,  streets, paths, and byways would blossom forth with native flora. It was a success, and everyone was very pleased about it. Fast forward to 2022…

…and some fucking dip-shit decides to poison the public footpaths that pass beside his rented field…

…killing off every one of the wild flowers that bloomed there.  That, in itself, would label him as shit-head of the month; but the over-spray has also poisoned the grazing grass on the other side of the fence. I find it less than coincidential that his sheep are notable by their absense. I just hope it’s costing shit-for-brains a fortune in vets bills!

Eight Years On

As I mentioned in my Tooty the Chef’s wheel restoration post, I bought my ‘modern classic’ 1998 Toyota Corolla, in immaculate condition in 2014. It was done on the spur of the moment, and I’ve never regretted the impetuous act. Here’s what the little beauty looked like back then…

Well, as I said earlier, the years have not been kind to my dinky 1.3 automatic. But recently a new air filter, an automatic gearbox oil change, and those dashing yellow wheels seem to have perked up the motor somewhat. So, to celebrate the fact that my favourite car is still up and running after twenty-four years, I stopped by the same locale and took it’s portrait again…

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I know: but I think it’s still a cracker. I think a lot of old Corolla owners feel the same way: there’s still loads of them on Britain’s roads, and every one of ’em I spot makes me smile. You’re bound to find at least one in Waitrose car park. Quality lasts, obviously. And if you’ve never driven one, give it a go: there’s something indefinable about them. If you haven’t guessed, I’m a big fan.

What is Getting My Earplugs So Excited?

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

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

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

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

Tooty the Chef Gets Auto-Restorational

Everyone knows Tooty the Chef…

…and his inspirational recipes for people who don’t really want to cook, but have to…

Well, back in 2014 he happened upon a low-milage Toyota Corolla for sale at the side of the road. His wife drove one, and he liked it so much that he didn’t hesitate to buy it…

But the passage of time was not kind to his pride and joy.  Five years of daily commuting and weekends away, plus three years of dissuse on the hard standing, took their toll upon the sadly fading and peeling paintwork. Deciding to give it a visual ‘once over’ Tooty tore off the wheel trims and was appalled by the condition of the rusting wheels…

Things weren’t much better in the wheel arches either…

And the sight of the crud-encrusted suspension and brake fittings really ‘shat him up’…

So a major clean-up was undertaken with alacrity…

Now all thoughts of the day’s food preparation had been dismissed as inconsequential. Tooty the Chef had become Tooty the Auto Restorer – despite the fact that he knows sod-all about mechanicking, and usually pays other people to get their mits dirty. But, coming over all ‘Wheeler Dealer’, he pulled off the wheels and began cleaning off the dirt and rust…

But he was quickly thwarted when water became trapped in the micron-thin gap between the surfaces of the rim and hub of his pressed steel wheels. Fortunately our favourite chopping board champ is also an improvising kinda guy, and before long he’d dug out a paint-stripping heat gun that hadn’t seen use since the mid-nineteen nineties…

Naturally it worked fabulously. How could it not? But after Tooty had applied a coat of rust conversion liquid…

…that same micron-thin gap came back to haunt him, and those improvisational skills were required again…

Yes, he set-to  with a propane blow torch. And it was so successful that Tooty simply had to make a celebratory corned beef and masdamm cheese toasted sandwich..

So, as the last day of March 2022 came to a close, all five wheels now bore a coat of red oxide primer…

And very nice they looked too. But as the first day of April dawned, Tooty knew that a plan that had been festering in his head for hours would require action. He decided to go with a Spanish theme for the wheel resto. So, as a cold north-easterly blasted through his workplace with the gusto of a ravaging  hoarde of Viking warriors, Tooty masked off the tyres  and pulled out his rattle-can of bright yellow paint…

Despite the icey blast playing havoc with his aging bladder, the wielder of the spatula soon had his tatty wheels all spruced up and looking dandy…

…even if he, himself was feeling far from dandy. Knackered would be more accurate. But, as he touched up a few areas that appeared slightly less than perfection itself…

…rain, sleet, and a flurry of snow intervened…

But, being a hardy sort, a quick cup of coffee was partaken, and he was soon back on the case. And, oh my,  what a result…

Fortunately a delivery van arrived, on cue,  with a set of wheel trims that Tooty had ordered on-line. A quick and timely service soon softened the garish wheels…

…leaving Tooty so pleased with himself that he made a delicious  chicken curry…

…that was really nice. Gosh, what a multi-talented individual he is. And such good automotive taste too!

Nature Wallpapers: Listen and Survive / Going Hungry

Whilst out and about in the Hampshire countryside, I chanced upon a common, everyday encounter between two disparate (but linked) species. It ended well for one of them, and gave me a couple of nice wallpaper shots….

I know I shouldn’t have, but I could help myself from giving the rabbit an edge.  I gave the fox a cheery wave.

Everyday Objects Make Excellent Science-Fiction Wallpapers

My ancient Sony Cybershot DSC-P10 dates from 2002. I don’t use it much, but I think it had a hard life in the hands of a construction site engineer before I liberated it. As a consequence it can misbehave slightly – like not switching on when I want to use it. On this occasion I thought it likely that the battery might not be carrying  enough charge to fire it up, so I plugged the camera into the charger and tried again. It worked. By chance the lens happened to be pointing in the direction of a half-full water bottle. So, to test that all was well, I snapped a few point-blank close-ups. When I saw the resulting pictures, the ‘artistic genius’ (weird sci-fi guy) within me saw the possibilities. So I tossed a new (and exciting) smoke alarm on to the bed and snapped some pictures of that. The result is…

What the two saucers are about to do to the domed city upon an airless planet, I don’t know. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they appear in a future Earplug Adventure!

A Strange Philosophical Juxtaposition

Whilst walking through a local churchyard recently, I chanced upon this scene…

How the dice got there, I have no idea. It has been pretty windy lately, so it might have blown in from an adjacent garden. But, whatever, the significance struck me immediately. Every day we roll the dice. Life, after all, is a gamble. Nothing is certain – except for one thing. Ultimately, in the end, when the big screen of existence reads ‘Game Over’, we’re all winners. For having lived at all; for having become the person we are; and for moving on to something better.

Wallpaper 636: Half-Price Mountain Biking

Or circus performers on their day off…

Slippery downhills must be a bit of a bugger on these. But they take up so little room in the back of a car. Almost makes sense – until you look at the level of protection the riders are wearing. Falling off must be par for the course. And look at the padding in the back of their trousers: possibly unpleasant for arse holes too. I imagine the young lady’s back-pack is smaller because she doesn’t need to carry balms and ointments for swollen testicles.

Tooty the Chef: Remember Him?

Does this ugly mug look familiar?

The apron seems to have gone Absent With Out Leave, and the hat looks decidedly kitchen drawer-worn; but, yes, it’s Tooty the Chef. And look, he’s set the counter top with some ingredients…

Hmmm, let’s see what he’s prepared for his latest fabulous gastronomic concoction. Well inspiration came when his local Waitrose offered a pair of leeks at a reduced price – due to their age and less-than-pristine condition. Instantly his fertile mind slipped into high gear and he began to imagine what could be done with half a jar of macaroni; the dregs inside a bag of grated cheese; and some bacon medallions that had been sitting at the bottom of the fridge for three weeks. Well it was obvious really: macaroni/leek/bacon cheese! So whilst he boiled the macaroni and steamed the leeks…

…he lay the bacon (and some sliced peppers) on some olive oil in his famous Roasting Thing…

…and waited. When, eventually, the macaroni was sufficiently softened, and the leeks appeared most-way cooked, he stirred them together with some cheese sauce. Then it was simply a matter of pouring the goo on top of the bacon/peppers combo; then scattering the grated cheese on top of the lot…

…and shoving it in the maxxed-out oven (of course), This was followed by some sodding about for twenty-five minutes, until the meal was cooked good and proper…

Yep, despite all his frailties, the culinary cretin is back…

And this time he’s keeping his buttocks to himself!

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 41)

Epilogue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aboard the Tankerville Norris

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

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

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

A split second later…

…a space rift began to form.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The End

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 40)

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

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

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

Moments later the Prolate Spheroid Incense Cones entered en masse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Magnuss hoped that the situation wasn’t beyond retrieval:

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures Spaceship Wallpaper: Departure

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

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

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 39)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The station’s robots were doing no better…

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile Bunty began giving Ginger and Daisy exact instructions…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This gave Daisy pause for thought:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 38)

Chapter 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The result of this was…

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

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022