Tag Archives: science fiction

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 2)

A mere hour and a half later, the millions of kilometres between the area that Rudi had designated Pongy Space, and the Museum of Future Technology, had been traversed…

“Cor,” Chester gushed characteristically, “these Hyper-space attack ships sure do shift. By the way – where are the brakes?”

But the younger of the twins needn’t have worried about crashing headlong into their beloved emporium: Valentine – skilled as he was at piloting vessels such as the Punting-Modesty XL5 Facepuncher…

… pulled the saucer up short with plenty of microns to spare. Within moments of disembarkation, the five-some stood upon hallowed ground…

“Ah, that’s better.” Miles said as his eyes ranged here, there, and everywhere. “Anyone fancy a ghastly coffee at Café Puke?”

Magnuss, now feeling better once upon terra firma, was about to reply, when they all heard the annoyingly metallic (and monstrously mono-tonal) voice of a Robot Security Guard – more commonly known as a RoboSecGua – as it called for their attention…

“Flip me sideways,” Magnuss whispered out of the side of his mouth to Rudi, “what have we done this time?”

“Hey, Val,” Rudi said in response, “did you pay the parking meter?”

But they need not have concerned themselves fiscally: the RoboSecGua was only there to accompany them in a mad dash through the museum…

…to a recently installed facility called ‘Decontamination’…

“Hey,” Chester squealed with delight, “I’m not affronted by this embarrassing situation at all: my bum has never been so pleasantly tickled before. What about you, Valentine?”

“Yeah, cool, man.” The second-eldest brother replied. “And regard the funky moisturising cream dispenser: I really dig it!”

But all good things must come to an end, and soon they were released…

Unsurprisingly the first person they encountered was their Auntie Doris, who had brought her beau, K’Plank the Space Wanderer, with her…

“Hello boys,” she called from the top of the Up ramp, “nice to see you back. Before you rush off on your new mission, K’Plank has some fatherly advice for you.”

“Indeed I do.” The former bad guy, but now totally reformed rotten egg, added. “I think you should take pause to consider those closest to you. Magnuss, Rudi, and Valentine: your girlfriends are undoubtedly pining for you: I think it best that you see them first – just in case something terrible were to happen to you in the new Age of Stone exhibit.”

Naturally the three brothers mentioned took on board these wise words, and before long Magnuss had invited Hair-Trigger for a quick snack at Mister Pong’s Exotic Food Restaurant…

…where he planned to tell her that he was off on another adventure without her. Naturally Pong’s daughters, Yu-Wah and Wah-Hey were there. And, whilst Mister Pong took Magnuss’ order, the girls tossed aside their waitress dresses and rushed off for a rendezvous with the eldest Earplug brothers…

“Hey girls,” Rudi said as the females appeared from a side corridor and matched velocity with them, “we were on our way to see you.”

“Sho’nuf were,” Valentine confirmed his brother’s words. “We got something to tell ya.”

“We know.” Yu-Wah replied. “Everyone does. It’s all over the museum.”

“When do you leave?” Wah-Hey added.

“We’re on our way there now.” Rudi answered unwisely. “We were just gonna stop off to say hello before we caught a travellator to the new exhibit.”

This didn’t go down well…

“You rotten, lousy, selfish gits.” Yu-Wah bellowed.

“I’m surprised you didn’t just give us a quick phone call, or maybe text us.” Wah-Hey added.

“And to think we left our posts to come see you.” Yu-Wah whined. “Magnuss took Hair-Trigger to Dad’s restaurant. He’s a proper boyfriend, he is: not like you two.”

“Yeah,” Wah-Hey snapped. “We hope you get lost in the Age of Stone – that’s what we do.”

“And we hope the toilets are blocked too.” Yu-Wah finished. “Goodbye.”

Well there wasn’t much either Earplug brother could think of to say, so they watched the waitresses disappear down the corridor from which they had emerged in a far better mood…

“They’ll get over it.” Rudi said in the resulting silence.

“Yeah, sure thing.” Valentine replied uncertainly. “But I hope that wasn’t some kind’a curse they just put on us: getting lost aint too bad; but the thought of blocked toilets just makes me quake in my funky disco boots.”

A half-hour elapsed before the quintet re-joined…

As he rallied his troops, Rudi made no mention of Yu-Wah and Wah-Hey’s displeasure. “Okay, guys,” he said, “let’s go kick some stone-age buttocks.”

With that, and with slightly trepidatious hearts, the five pinky-orange earplugs climbed the stainless steel ramp that led to the new exhibit…

They simply had no idea what to expect.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 1)

Prologue

The Earplug Brothers had only ever used their Hyperspace Pirate-look-alike-spaceship once previously; but following the discovery of a nasty pong in a region of space that wasn’t desperately far from Earth, they had re-boarded their under-used vessel and set off immediately to investigate…

Although the aforementioned region of space came within the boundaries of the Solar System, to the occupants of the saucer, it felt awfully far away from home…

But after studying for gaseous emissions for two days, they were getting decidedly bored. Well Miles and Chester were. Rudi and Valentine were both far too busy checking read-outs and analysing samples of vacuum to notice.  And Magnuss just felt space sick…

But between bouts of nausea and rushing to the toilet, the middle brother had managed to concoct a theory. The pong to which reports referred was of a very individual design. In fact Magnuss knew it well. He was certain that he had smelt it once before – when a false Supreme Being had supplanted the true Supreme Being, whom the Earplug Brothers had freed from inside a huge wooden crate…

…who then did battle with the interloper, soon to be known as the Wonky Supreme Being…

…and with the brother’s help, the real Supreme Being was able to blow the underpants clean off the Wonky Supreme Being and thereby defeat him…

Now, yonks later, Magnuss was certain that the current pong was utterly redolent of the smell that had erupted from the Wonky Supreme Being’s pants as they flew haphazardly across the battlefield, all that time ago. But, until he felt better and was able to speak without gagging, he chose to keep his thoughts to himself. Chester, on the other hand, was thinking how much more fun the saviours of Mars – Folie Krimp and Placebo Bison – were certain to be having, right now, aboard the Gravity Whelk

And Miles was recalling a happier time when the five siblings performed Los Caballeros Stupido a cappella whilst standing on a dangerously minuscule stage with their distinctive Cossack hats perched upon their heroic heads…

But whatever the subject on each Earplug Brother’s particular mind, it was certain that (after several days in the depths of space) they all longed to return to The Museum of Future Technology…

An hour or two later – no one is certain quite how long, because boredom makes seconds seem to last forever – Rudi and Valentine concluded their study…

…and became aware of their sibling’s discomfort. Being the eldest, and therefore the wisest brother, Rudi invited them all into the presence of the Ship’s Oracle…

“Hey, Man,” he said to the fountain of knowledge, “we aint sure what we should do next – know what I mean? We’re getting nowhere fast, and my bros are getting real cheesed-off: any ideas?”

To which the Oracle replied: “You pop off to the lavatory for a few minutes: I’ll contact the museum.”

Of course it was exactly what the boys wanted to hear, and five minutes later they were on their way back to the control room…

…feeling much better in themselves, their bladders, and hopeful for the immediate future. And as they re-entered the control room, they couldn’t help but notice that the video link to Earth was in the act of warming up…

Much to their surprise, the Museum of Future Technology’s toothy chief curator – Cushions Smethwyke – had been joined by their Auntie Doris.

Rudi spoke for all of them: “Hello, Cushions.” He said “Hi, Auntie: How’s tricks?”

“Hello, boys.” Auntie Doris replied cheerfully, as was her way. “Miss Smethwyke has some good news for you.” Then to Cushions she said: “Go on, Cushions: tell them.”

“Good news indeed.” Cushions spoke across the vast divide between the museum and the flying saucer. “We’ve got a more important job for you, back here in the museum.”

“Hey,” Valentine spoke for the first time since swearing at the recalcitrant computer terminal at his Gaseous Anomaly Work Station, “right on, mama. Smells aint no groove, you dig? Specially space-smells. Whatta you got in mind?”

Doris couldn’t restrain her enthusiasm: she spoke straight over the curator: “We’ve had another exhibit arrive from the future.” She squealed with ill-disguised delight. “It’s a bloody great big one. The biggest since Eyewash Station was destroyed.”

“Yes,” Cushions added as she pushed herself in front of Doris, “it’s from an era when all technology was based on a single material: stone.”

This confused the heck out of the brothers. “But,” Chester said on their behalf, “the Stone Age isn’t in the future: it’s in the past!”

“No,” Cushions replied adamantly, “not the Stone Age: but The Age of Stone. It will be an era when everything is constructed out of stone. And I mean everything: even stethoscopes, windmills, micro-circuitry, and lavatory seats!”

Whilst the boys absorbed this stunning information, Doris finagled her way centre stage once more. “And they want you to test drive it – so-to-speak. So get yourselves back here as quick as poss: Cushions wants to open it to the public, but she wants to make sure it’s safe first.”

Three seconds later…

…they were on their way. And Magnuss wondered if this was the right moment to mention his fears that the gaseous anomalies were the result of the return of the Wonky Supreme Being. That they weren’t space-smells – as Valentine had assumed incorrectly: but God-farts – infiltrating and permeating regular space/time from within another quantum realm entirely!

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Yes, Earpluggers, they’re back!

Earplugs Without Pictures 12

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

So to it. Here it is…

It was later in the day, with a plunging ambient temperature, that Dawlish decided to place his new hat upon his head and start a fire in a handy brazier. He’d fully expected the fire to keep him warm. What he didn’t expect was for the flickering flame to speak.

“I am the Flame of Knowledge.” The Brazier spoke with a surprisingly pleasant contralto. “Whoever wears the wizard hat is welcome to access my data.”

“Oh, good.” Dawlish said. “Um, give me a pocket history of this planet.”

“Once there were small furry things that scurried along predetermined paths.” The Brazier began. “They continued to scurry along predetermined paths for millions of years. In fact these predetermined paths became worn so deep that very often the braver small furry things became adept at running along the steep sides without slowing down or falling off. Then, one day, hundreds of thousands of years ago, earplugs that had evolved in the sea waded ashore and began to live upon the land. They evolved rapidly – quickly shedding their nasty gills and horrible webbed feet, and began eating the small furry things, until they became extinct. Eventually the earplugs created a wonderful city. Then, not long ago, something with vast power removed them. Took them all away. Relocated them somewhere else, I guess. Don’t know what it was; but the earplugs were powerless against it. But the city’s still there: wanna see it?”

The Brazier then indicated the direction that Dawlish should follow. “It’s over thattaway. Or maybe slightly thattaway. Off you go. Good luck.”

“Um, thank you.” A surprised Dawlish managed. “I’ll fetch my sister. Maybe there’ll be a working shower there. This is a strange planet: if you don’t mind, I’ll probably be calling upon your services again.”

So, by following the course indicated by the Flame of Knowledge, Dawlish and Dorkan soon stood together upon a barren plain. In the distance the towers of a magnificent city stood proud against an afternoon sky. For the Deathwishes the question of whether to visit it, or not, was clearly a no-brainer.

“Have you got your hiking boots on?” Dawlish asked.

“Ah, that would be an affirmative.” Dorkan replied. “What about your jogging pants?”

“Yep.” Dawlish answered. “With my vest nicely tucked into it. Right then; let’s go.”

AND

Everyone looked at the view screen, which showed open space – and safety.

“You know we can’t flee.” Magnuss said. “We’re here for a reason. Below us is the planet that houses the Galactic Court of Justice, which, currently, is in the clutches of a deranged god. Only this ship and its crew stand between freedom and galactic chaos.”

“Well said, Magnuss. Most rousing and all that.” Captain Hydious Gout spoke into the following silence. “Okay, you’ve convinced me. Helmsplug: light her up.”

A moment later the Chi-Z-Sox began blasting towards the planet. Very soon the forward screen displayed strange rock formations on the planet’s surface.

Magnuss thought back to the last earplug encounter with the Court of Galactic Justice, when one Throgennis Frote had been abducted and held accountable for the behaviour of all Earplugdom. With help he had convinced the court that earplugs should continue to exist; and in doing so had made the Supreme Being understand that earplugs were really quite nice – even if they weren’t all the time.

“So,” Magnuss asked himself, “what has made S B change his ways? Why has he gone all wonky?”

Of course he received no reply. But, as he was about to shrug his shoulders, this happened…

“I don’t know who you are.” The Wonky Supreme Being growled through the view screen. “But if you’ve got half a silicone brain between the lot of you, you’ll sod off now, while you still can.”

This threat might, or might not, have influenced the Chi-Z-Sox’s captain, but it was way too late to reverse direction, because the ship had already begun entry into the planet’s atmosphere. And it was getting so hot inside the ship that no one noticed that the Wonky Supreme Being hadn’t stopped making terrifying threats, which concluded with: “And your tender rubberized botties will feel sore until the end of time!”

Then it was time for the boys to act. In a perfect moment of impetuous timing, Magnuss had them relocated to the planet’s surface via matter transmission. And as they made their way towards the Galactic Court, Magnuss couldn’t help looking back at the alien panorama and wondered if he would ever see Earth and the Museum of Future Technology again.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the The Grand Tour vol 2 cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file. By the way, in addition, and also – you can access all the Earplug Adventure files (including Vol 1 of this exciting tome) on the sidebar by clicking the cover images.

The Set: The Scene 3

Once again, if you’ve been exposed to the Earplug Adventures for long enough, it’s likely that you can recognise a scene by it’s set. Want to prove that you really know your Earplugs? Check out the following…

First up we kick off with an easy example of earplug derring-do. This set should be very familiar to you…

Yup, it’s the bridge set of the starship Chi-Z-Sox / Brian Talbot. But what does a predominantly yellow bridge crew tell us? Again yup – it’s the Brian Talbot. And isn’t that Placebo Bison I see standing at the front? Thrice yup: it can only be this scene…

Which, I’m sure you’ll recall, appeared in Distant Land: a story so wonderful that these characters returned in A Tale of Three Museums.

So, with the easy introductory question out of the way, it’s on to the second one. Recognise this?

It’s an early set, when I still had my fabulous ‘studio’ that was later demolished. Two silver earplugs on a see-through disc. Lit from above and behind in front of a sheet of something styrofoamish. Ugh, I guess it must be…

Yes, it’s the android earplugs aboard their flying disc – en route to a fortuitous encounter with the time-manipulator, Gobby – in Earplug Aftermath.

So who is this?

Silly question: Obviously it’s the world’s pre-eminent Earplug author, Tooty Nolan, in the act of shooting a scene in Fort Balderdash. And how numerous those scenes were. I liked Fort Balderdash: it was yellow. But do you recall any scenes set there? Well here’s one of them…

In this scene a Robot Guide…ugh…guides a rather miserable looking Plopper O’Hooligan and his girlfriend Belinda Noseguard somewhere to do something in Those Magnificent Earplugs. Moving on, what on Earth is this?

I’ll tell you. At the back stands a sheet of stiff corrugated plastic material in white. In front a sheet of similarly white flexible plastic lays across some empty boxes – to simulate topography. Centre sits a piece of polystyrene packing material. This is obviously a building. It’s quite a large set, and (at the time) it caught the attention of several passers-by. And it was used for one throw-away scene. This one…

…in which the leadership of the Ice World go outside, for whatever reason, in Those Magnificent Earplugs.

So, finally, to this charming shot of a fork-lift truck’s battery charger…

Sadly this is a set that I can never again use. It still exists, but since retirement, I no longer have access to it – though I’m sure they’d allow it, if I asked nicely. It is also a ‘set’ that has appeared in many stories – over and over – as the control panel in the Maintenance Department. It oversees the workings of the Museum of Future Technology’s Nul Space Power Generator ( and The Future Museum of Mars too). In this case I’ve selected this example of it in action…

Green lights across the board: all is well for Nennigross Numbwinkle and Catford Greene in Natural Selection. Of course it’s just as likely to be showing red lights, with all kind of warning signs on the panel above Catford’s head. I needed to be careful about the time of day that I shot my scenes here. During most of the day the machine was switched off, with no lights illuminated. At night, when the fork-lift was plugged in, they would shine red. In the morning, after a night charging, the lights would shine green. I had to make sure that I took my pictures within those brief windows of opportunity. Honestly, the trouble I go to in order to bring you The Earplug Adventures!

P.S all the aforementioned e-books are available as free PDF copies by simply clicking their images on the sidebar.

Revel in the Ribaldry 33

It has been yonks since I posted RitR32, so I thought it was well past time for the next excerpt. So, today I’ve opted for a sample of my favourite Hamster-Sapiens book: this one…

Picked entirely at random, this is it!

Well, it transpired, during a most pleasant afternoon beneath Chunder Bellows’ belfry, that not only had Mahogany been blessed by a vision of the Great Angler Herself, but that the same deity had actually imparted news from the future, and that Mahogany (having acted upon this information, and visited every betting shop in the county) had become very rich indeed. Even more astounding was the news that the Great Angler Herself had suggested Lancelot for the role of Dean.

“Did she explain why, dear?” Bellows inquired.

“Not exactly, darling.” Mahogany replied. “She went on a bit about causality loops and altered time-lines, but I’m afraid that my frail female mind just couldn’t keep up.”

“Not to worry, dearest,” Bellows patted the top of her head, “I expect my powerful male ego would have endured some discomfort too.”

“Anyway,” Mahogany continued, “it seems that it’s vitally important that in order to end the vile practice of euthanizing our mentally less well-endowed – we find somewhere for them to go after their normal school years have ended. Obviously our inept and spiritually bankrupt socialist government couldn’t possibly come up with prescription for continued existence for dim-shits: And any ultra-right wing organization would probably have thickos put to death just for fun. Of course, what with so many moderate hamsters having skeletons (both physical and metaphysical) in their cupboards, any politician that tried to tread the middle ground would be hounded out of office before his feet hit the carpet beneath his shiny new desk. So divine intervention seemed the only real alternative.”

“Hmmm.” Bellows stroked his hugely furry chin, “Tell me, Mahogany dearest, were you enjoying a state of unconsciousness when the Great Angler Herself appeared to you in a vision?”

“My life was hanging by a thread.” Mahogany smiled broadly at the recollection, “And that rolling down the embankment that I got from the galley staff really whizzed my brain around something rotten.”

Bellows repeated his long, drawn out, “Hmmm.” He then backed this up with, “Now what I’m trying to say, dear – and I don’t mean to be disrespectful – but do you think that it’s possible that you might possibly have imagined it all? I mean – you always wanted to do something desperately altruistic, but you never had the ready cash available before: Is it possible that this is nothing more than pure wish-fulfilment?”

Mahogany took her brother’s huge paw in hers. “Oh Chunder, I know you mean well when you try to psychoanalyze me. So please don’t feel insulted when I tell you to stick your stupid ideas up your huge fluffy arse hole. Would you do that for me?”

Then with a grittiness in her voice that Bellows had never before heard she added, “How’d ya think I won all that money, ya great fat oaf? Luck? I’ve bet on every sporting event in the country since Thrudsday, the forty-tenth of Plinth until this morning. I’m a super-millionaire with more money that pubic fur follicles. I didn’t imagine anything, you twat: I’m blessed.”

Well in the face of such a verbal onslaught Bellows quickly made his excuses and left the room to Mahogany and the somewhat shell-shocked Lancelot.

Mahogany turned her attention to the young hamster seated across the desk from her. “Right we need a name: Any suggestions?”

Lancelot didn’t waste any time cogitating: He’d long dreamed of such a moment. “Saint Dunces.” He said emphatically.

“Good name.” Mahogany nodded. “Why?”

Lancelot then explained that for the entirety of his  life he’d been the school dunce, and that he had the heavily-inked private parts to prove it. So any college that was founded specifically for dunces should also be called dunces.

It was logic of the soundest kind, but Mahogany thought that she spotted flaw in it.

“Ah but Lancelot, darling, is there, or has there ever been a Saint Dunce?”

It was a telling question, and under normal circumstances the young hamster’s dreams might have been thwarted. But these were anything but normal circumstances.

He was now the Dean of a hypothetical university.

“We’ll invent one.” He said.

“Can one simply invent a saint?” Mahogany asked reasonably enough.

“Of course.” Lancelot smiled, “I do it all the time.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Now wasn’t that lovely! If you fancy purchasing this wondrous e-book, easy access to the publisher or well-known e-book retailers is available on the side bar. Should you elect to do so, you are guaranteed several hours of delighted sniggering at the rather rude humour.

Earplugs Without Pictures 10

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

Throgennis could not have imagined that he would ever have travelled to the Over-Realm. In fact he’d never heard of it. So he had no idea that he now stood upon a planet so distant from Earth; the Museum of Future Technology; and Lemon Stone, that it might easily have been infinitely far away. But he did know one thing with utter certainty: that he wasn’t happy. And he wasn’t frightened of letting people know. It was on his third outrageous bellow of anger and frustration that a huge apparition became apparent to him.

“Cripes.” He said when he spotted it. “That looks a bit scary: I’d better watch my tongue.”

“You,” the apparition boomed so loudly that Throgennis felt certain plaster would flake from the invisibly distant ceiling and tumble down to settle upon his shoulders, “are of the species Earplug.”

It was a statement. Throgennis realised this when the image of an incredibly average earplug glowed warmly beneath a spotlight.

“As such,” the vast being continued, “you are a proverbial pain in the ass. All earplugs are. In fact earplugs are such a galactic nuisance that we higher life-forms have decided that you might have to be made extinct.”

This last line gained Throgennis’s attention like no line before – even ones such as: “Look out, it’s a naked biker gang!”, “My mum’s farts are louder than your mum’s.” and “Your lavatory is unsavoury and has been condemned!”

“Yeah?” He responded insolently.

“Yeah.” The vast being replied. “Like they’ll cease to be – everywhere – forever!”

Throgennis hadn’t got where he was in life by missing inferences. He said: “I sense a ‘but’ looming.”

“I’m sure  you do.” The vast being’s voice almost smiled. “But you, and your kind can survive this. You need only be found ‘not guilty‘.”

Throgennis looked up.

“Which can mean only one thing.” He said grimly. “We stand accused of being galactic butt-wipes. And I have to answer for our crimes. Okay, bring it on. Do your worse. I’m wearing my lucky underpants today.”

“Very well,” the vast being replied, “let proceedings…er…proceed.”

AND

At the controls of the K T Woo, Hakking Chestikov sat indecisively and stared at the main viewer. But little did he know that Bottoms Barkingwell, whose tasks demanded that she work within the bowels of the huge vessel, and required rubber gloves and a large lavatory brush to complete to a satisfactory standard, spotted something that made her smile. And that something was none other than Captain Sinclair Brooch and his wife, Nancy as they scurried along on their way towards the cabin, in which resided the Cyber Oracle. So, after bringing the electronic fountain of knowledge up to date, Nancy said: “Oh Oracle, what the sodding hell are we supposed to do?”

In reply, the shocked Cyber Oracle said, “Flipping heck; that’s the most difficult question that I’ve ever been asked. It’s going to tax me to the very limits of my design parameters – perhaps beyond them. In fact so far beyond my design parameters is this question taxing me that it’s quite possible I might either make the final evolutionary step and thereby gain true artificial sentience; or I might explode.”

“We don’t have time for this nonsense.” Sinclair snapped. “Pull yourself together: you’re the most advanced computer that ever existed on our doomed world, so aptly named, by an Earplug Brother, as Worstworld. Give me the blinking answer!”

Under such pressure, the logic circuits inside the Cyber Oracle shifted into overdrive. Three seconds later the response came:

“Yeah, I think I got it. The answer is…”

Well the next anyone saw of the Captain and his wife was scant moments later, and they would never have guessed that anything was wrong aboard ship. In fact those who witnessed their passing took great comfort from their leader’s contented smile. And, if they’d seen him stop off at an internal communication panel they might have wondered who he was calling up in such a genial manner in the midst of such a terrible crisis in orbit above the Galactic Court planet.

It was Adam Binsmell (at Coms) that took the call. Adam listened intently for several seconds, before turning to the latest occupant of the Captain’s chair – Daisy Pong.

Daisy looked across at Adam. She had only just arrived at her duty station, and the replacement Helmsplug and Executive Officer were yet to arrive.

“Yeah?” She spoke bluntly and used only mono-syllables. “What you want?”

Being a talented Communication Officer, Adam relayed the Captain’s message word for word and nuance for nuance.

“Oh.” Daisy responded,”That good – innit!”

Daisy Pong’s speech pattern was abrupt; missing those joiny-uppy words that most people use; and often abrasive: but on this occasion she was utterly correct. It was good. It was very good. It was so good that Sinclair and Nancy didn’t bother to do or say anything more on the subject. Instead they simply held hands and stared at the cosmos through their favourite window on Deck Three.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

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

The Set: The Scene 2

Once again, if you’ve been exposed to the Earplug Adventures for long enough, it’s likely that you can recognise a scene by it’s set. Want to prove that you really know your Earplugs? Check out the following…

For this first example, we travel economy class to the Costa Blanca for some location work…

Yup, real Spanish earplugs playing Spanish characters – in the shape of Los Tapones Del España

…as they make their way to the Museum of Future Technology in Museum of Terror.

Right, that’s the easy one out of the way. What the heck is this..?

Well it wouldn’t surprise me none if nobody in the whole world got this one right. But wait a minute: isn’t that the starship, Chi-Z-Sox, lying nonchalantly upon that glazing pallet? Hmm, so what’s with the blue background and plastic tube? The answer is this…

It’s from Plunging Into Peril, in which the Chi-Z-Sox overheated upon entering a planet’s atmosphere, and dived into the sea to cool off – much like I used to do when I went metal detecting on the same beach where I set up the Museum of Terror shots. Here we see the space ship racing through the water as it attempts to flee angry locals who believe the crew are trying to steal their duterium.

Here’s another tricky one…

“Ah,” you’re thinking, “I recognise that pink rocket: that has appeared several times as the device that brought down the invading End Cap mother ship in The Invasion From Hyperspace and other alternate reality or time-travel stories, including Evil Empire!” And you’d be right. But this doesn’t come from either of those tales of derring-do. THIS is the shot that was…ah...shot here…

It’s the nuclear missile that the KT Woo fired at an ice packaging plant in Cold War. I then cheekily used it again as an on-screen shot aboard the Chi-Z-Sox, when Professor Hidious Gout fired an entirely different missile at the island of Dr Adolf Weil-Barrau in Mutant Island.

So, to the fourth and easiest puzzle. Where have you (more recently) seen this?

Look closely. Yes, it’s those adorable characters, Lillie Whitewater and William of Porridge…

…as he utilises his fine baritone to sing ‘What Becomes of the Broken Winded’ to her at the end of Haunted Mars.

Wasn’t that fun: we’ll have to convene here again.

P.S – Don’t forget that you can read or download any of the aforementioned stories by clicking the cover pictures on the sidebar.

Tooty’s Rambling Art

Whilst out walking in the rain (with a water-proof camera, of course) I chanced upon a small gully that had been worn into the side of the road by Winter’s incessant rainfall. A steep hill meant that it flowed with sufficient pace to create a micro-waterfall; so, inspired by nature, I placed my camera into the water, facing up hill. I then left the resulting photo to fester in my computer for a few weeks. Eventually I decided to do something with it. I thought that perhaps I might bring into existence another world for my Earplug Adventures. So, without any plan, I started sodding about with a free photo manipulation program – Photoscape. The resulting cyber-doodle looks like this…

The Gravity Whelk arrives on the Ice World

Who knows, it might even appear in a story one day. Talking of which, so might this shot of Magnuss creeping into a missile launch facility…

Everyone knows that back doors are always left unguarded – don’t they?

Earplugs Without Pictures 4

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

Click cover image for complete e-book in PDF

So, with trepidation evident, the threesome ventured out of the superfluous alcove. Naturally they followed the convenient signage, which, unsurprisingly, led them into a pleasantly lit corridor. Then, having traversed the aforementioned pleasantly lit corridor, Magnuss, Nennigross, and Lucian discovered the desperate occupants of the flying saucer assembled in the engine room, trying desperately to metaphorically kick-start the fuel pumps. But before anyone spotted them standing there like a bunch of lemons, the reality of the situation struck the three galactic travellers.

“The situation couldn’t be worse.” Nennigross whispered to Magnuss. “With the ship out of gas, it’ll float onwards through space unimpeded – until the wheel of eternity grinds to a halt. Death will hold dominion over all of us.”

But Lucian had more immediate concerns. He’d picked up a urinary infection in the Upper Realm, and desperately wanted to piddle.

Despite his personal fears, Magnuss plucked up the courage to ignore Nennigross, and forced himself to be positive.

“Guys.” He said loudly, “Quit all that panic-stricken arsing about: fate has a task lined up for you.”

This bold statement caused all activity to cease abruptly. Of course (being aliens from far away) not one of the prospectors recognised Magnuss: but Catford and Julian did. Their confident smiles proved that they had never doubted that their friends would return, following their unexpected disappearance. The appearance of Magnuss Earplug was a bonus, and both felt certain that an incredible adventure was bound to follow his arrival. Questions flowed like raging white water rapids, and filled the air with so much mental viscosity that anyone other than Magnuss would have sagged with brain-exhaustion beneath its intellectual weight.

“It’s like this,” Magnuss began his explanation for his opening statement. “We’re stuck up in outer space, and we’re whooshing away into deep space at huge velocity. It seems to me that the only course of action open to us is to embrace the situation and turn it to our advantage.”

This confused the heck out of his audience, but Magnuss’ apparent confidence filled them with some of their own.

“Tell us more.” Julian and Catford demanded.

“Well,” Magnuss replied, “not many people know this fact, but I once read some of the technical logs from the Museum of Future Technology’s sole star ship, Spaceship Number Fifteen – before it was destroyed in the Battle of the Museum, of course…”

“And?” Buddy Napalm demanded.

“And,” Magnuss replied, “what I discovered was,” Magnuss paused – less for dramatic effect; but more to draw breath – before continuing: “that when the ship was returning to Earth, the crew discovered a wormhole in space – exactly half-way between Earth and the Moon. They considered it so important that they left a warning beacon orbiting the event horizon. All we need to do is use our communication equipment to locate it, and then blast in its direction by using the manoeuvring thrusters. Then we enter the wormhole; travel through it; and end up somewhere else completely – possibly somewhere nice and safe – like a planet. We can worry about getting back to the museum later.”

It was a brilliant plan, and everyone who heard it said so. Except Wilhelm Von Schnottgobbling: “We don’t have no fuel for the thrusters either. We can’t steer.”

Magnuss was horrified at the news. “But, but,” he stammered, “without thruster fuel my plan won’t work! Whatta we gonna do?”

AND

Plopper and Benjamin looked at each other – the same thought passing through both silicon brains at the same time: Holy heck – they’re gonna steal a flying saucer: what are we gonna do about it? Well what they did was call the T.W.I.T headquarters, Swotten Hetty. Just a few minutes later Major Flaccid called several operatives into his office. Unfortunately he’d been at a sherry sampling seminar, and as a result of this his memory failed him. He could remember who his operatives needed to find, but couldn’t recall what Plopper and Benjamin had told him that the prospectors intended to do.

“Look everywhere.” He said with a slurred voice. “All at the same time – twice. Leave no stone unturned, and no…things un…er…thingy.” Then he burped very loudly, and produced an enormous fart that stopped his agents in their tracks.

Naturally the operatives didn’t have a bloody clue what their leader required of them, except that they find, and presumably arrest, eight aliens in silver suits. So without enquiring further, they turned about and began their search.

By chance the prospectors had called into a public urinal for a pee, and watched as the agents of T.W.I.T passed by the window.

“Oops,” Brock said quietly to himself. “Looks like we’ll have to step carefully. It’s time to go into extreme stealth mode.”

This reaction was to save their endeavour, because RoboSecGuas were also on their trail. And Brock’s extreme stealth mode paid dividends when EvilRoboSecGua led a squad into the grand hall. But Brock was ready for them, and had already hidden around the corner.

“Right then,” he said, following the RoboSecGuas departure, “Let’s have a look at that map Mister Plop drew for us. I feel it in my bowels; we’re getting close.”

But little did any of them know, but Nennigross and her friends were following museum protocols strictly, and were in hot pursuit.

It was Galve Mullion and Torsten Gobbfist who took the lead as the prospectors made their way through a labyrinth of corridors through which the map guided them towards their goal. And they continued to lead, even when the museum security decided to go the emerald alert.

“Holy carp,” Galve exclaimed, “that nearly made me have an accident in my boxer shorts!”

Torsten would have been equally startled, but the thought of Galve experiencing a lavatorial accident in his company took his mind off the subject of the emerald alert like an unexpected kick in the groin or being hurled from the deck of an aircraft carrier.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

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

Silence Returns

What with the global pandemic and everything that has followed, I felt that, during this difficult period, I should refrain from promoting my two ‘Silent’ books – they are (after all) set in a post-global pandemic world – though (hopefully) far worse than the real thing. But then, months on, I thought: ‘But they’re a good yarn: why not let  people read what they bloody well want to?’ So here I am, presenting an excerpt from this book – the second of the literary duo…

As the cover suggests this book isn’t my usual comedic fare: just the opposite – with death and destruction possible at any moment. Anyway, here’s a random extract…

No one had come running at the sound of the shotgun blast. I for one was most grateful that we were all inside the compound; the door had been reattached; and for a while we had a degree of seclusion. But not for long: “Whomever set that booby trap might still be here.” Karen warned.

“I’d say it’s odds-on.” Colin agreed – recovered now that Wayne’s body lay hidden beneath a bus company tarpaulin.

“I certainly hope he is.” Shane spoke menacingly as she fingered the trigger of her shotgun.

“Me too.” Kylie said as she withdrew her pistol from its holster. But when she released the empty clip into her free hand she added, “That’s if I had any ammo left of course.”

“Likewise.” Karen and Colin said in unison; then giggled nervously at the coincidence.

Dexter meanwhile was worrying the escape door at the rear of a double decker bus.

“I guess we’ll have to take his.” He said as he nodded in the direction of the depot office building.

“His?” I queried.

“The bloke who set the booby trap.” Dexter explained. “That’s if he’s got any. Those might have been his last two shells.”

“Why do you refer to him as ‘him’?” Karen asked.

“Yeah.” Shane sided with her leader. “Could’a been a woman. Well a girl anyway.”

“A woman wouldn’t do such a thing.” Kylie said – rather naively I thought.

“What makes you so sure that ‘he’ is still here?” I asked the youngest boy in our group.

Dexter had the bus door open and was in the process of climbing aboard. Again he nodded towards the office building.

“Saw some movement in an upstairs window, didn’t I.” He replied.

‘So we’re not alone.’

“Tasman?” I asked.

Tasman looked across at the building. “As much as I admire the concept of vengeance,” he said, “I really don’t think we have the time or manpower. And like Shane said – we can’t go wasting any more lives. Irritating as it is, Wayne’s murderer will have to go free.”

‘If you call this place freedom.’ 

“Agreed.” I said in a tone that I hoped suggested finality, “He’ll face his accusers in a higher court than ours.”

Tasman cocked his head upon one side at this. I recognised it as a look of puzzlement.

“When he faces his maker.” I explained. “God.”

Tasman appeared to accept this. But clearly Colin, Shane, Karen, and Kylie were not about to be easily dissuaded. I could understand this. I didn’t know how long they’d been together, but they’d been through a lot with Wayne. They were almost family. They were certainly the only family any of them had left. Now their big brother lay dead beneath bus company property. Tasman and I wanted to continue with the task at hand: The others had other ideas.

It was Dexter who chose our path.

“No keys.” He shouted from inside the vehicle. “Probably hangin’ on a hook in the office.”

‘Damn!’

“Can someone check the other buses?” I suggested; but I knew my hope was forlorn.

As the only two present with decent weapons, it fell to Tasman and I retrieve the keys.

“Couldn’t we hot-wire it or something?” I whispered to my friend as we crouched en route to a parked car that stood half way between the bus and the office building.

The concrete ran with water as the incessant drizzle didn’t let up for a moment. As we closed upon the abandoned three-door hatch-back, Tasman answered.

“Could you?” He said.

‘No. And if I can’t, then by extension neither can anyone else. Great!’

We’d left our haversacks with the others, but not before donning our hand guns, and removing the hidden suppressors, and fitting them to our Heckler & Koch MP7s.

“If we’re going to have a shoot-out,” Tasman had explained, “at least our side won’t be making any noise.”

‘Hard to explain away the sound of two military weapons in a civilian town.’

As we settled behind the cover of the car, Tasman ran an attentive eye along the length of the building that faced us. The lower floor consisted of mostly solid brick wall, broken only by a door and a large observation window. The upper floor had smaller windows set into it at regular intervals along its length beneath a flat felt roof. A shot could ring out from any number of them, and we’d never be able to guess which one until it was too late.

“This is ridiculous.” I grumbled into Tasman’s shoulder.

“It is, isn’t it?” He chuckled. “Here we are – trying to save the world, and all we’re doing is fighting one of our own kind. Well your kind.”

“That’s good old Earth humans for you.” I replied as I patted him on the other shoulder. “Always ready to put a spanner in the works. So what’s the plan?”

Tasman didn’t answer immediately. Instead he verbalised his thoughts for my benefit.

“Since our enemy booby-trapped the pedestrian entrance,” He spoke softly, “logic would dictate that he would likely repeat the act with the office door. Any other door for that matter, including the back one – assuming there is one.”

I nodded agreement.

Tasman was continuing:

“Access to the upper windows are unobtainable without ladders; therefore they’re probably unprotected by semi-automatic devices like the booby trapped entrance.”

“Fine,” I said, “but we have no ladders.”

“We don’t need ladders.” He replied. “In fact we don’t need the windows either.”

He then held out his MP7 so that we could both see it. “We are going to behave as though we really know how to use these.”

I didn’t understand, and said as much.

“How would U.S Navy S.E.A.Ls get in without taking fire?” He asked.

It was a metaphorical question, but I answered it anyway.

“Down ropes – out of helicopters. Big problem: No ropes. No helicopters.”

“Doesn’t matter.” He said as nodded to a part of the building just beyond the huge observation window, “We have a drain pipe.”

I felt a nervous, girlish giggle coming on. The situation was becoming intolerably silly.

“Don’t be daft.” I said. “We’d have to get past the window – and if it’s booby trapped…”

I left it hanging there.

“What’s that white plastic thing mounted on the wall above the door?” Tasman asked in what appeared to be a complete change of subject.

I peered through the drizzle. “Um, I think it’s one of those motion detector things.”

“It detects motion.” He said. “How interesting. Why is it here?”

“It’s an anti-burglar device. When someone gets detected, a big light comes on, and everyone can see them – usually on CCTV.”

“So where is the light?” He asked.

I looked around. Several lights sat atop tall metal poles around the perimeter wall, but none appeared to point in the direction of the office. Then I noticed an unused wall bracket above the large window.

“It’s been taken down.” I said.

Tasman nodded knowingly. “How quickly do they react?”

I thought back to the security lights that Father had installed in our country home. He’d mounted several in strategic positions around the grounds, and all of them had been fabulous at illuminating various forms of wild-life as they found their way into the garden and out-buildings. I recalled that many were the times that my sister and I had watched in breathless wonder as badgers, foxes, deer, and suchlike took advantage of the food that we had laid out for them.

 “A couple of seconds.” I answered, “That’s assuming that these are anything like the ones my father had fitted at home.”

“Slow.” He observed.

He then indicated the cast-iron drainpipe that he’d referred to earlier. It climbed the full extent of the two storey building, and was attached to an equally sturdy gutter at roof level.

“That is our destination.” He said.

He then turned to wave in the direction of the bus. Dexter’s hand appeared fleetingly at one of the upper windows. Moments later the plastic ‘glass’ was pushed from its rubber recess, and fell with a clatter to the concrete below. Then Shane’s single barrel appeared over the lip of the window frame. But it wasn’t the small girl who held it: It was Karen.

“Covering fire.” He explained. “Doesn’t hit much, but confuses the hell out of the enemy. Now when I say ‘run’ we run towards the drainpipe together. Don’t pull ahead of me, and whatever you do don’t lag behind me. We must be one. Understand?”

‘No – not really.’

“Yes.” I replied. “Together as one: got it.”

“Right then, my beautiful Earth female,” Tasman said, “run!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

P.S I really should write a third book. Everyone likes a trilogy, don’t they?

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 24

It’s  no good; when it comes to selecting which book supplies the next extract, I’ve completely lost the plot. But, rather than adopting my default position, which always results in me choosing The Psychic Historian, this time I’m going to plump for this slightly underrated e-book…

Okay – VERY underrated e-book. Maybe this extract, whatever it is (because its always random), will make people think again. Let’s hope so: I worked hard on this (all those years ago) and I really would like to sell a few copies.

“You miserable failure.” Wetpatch thought he heard someone say as he rematerialized beneath the emergency raffia mat.

“I’m no such thing.” He responded in his most indignant tone, which was very indignant indeed because he’d been studying Indignancy as part of the school curriculum, and had been practising upon the village green with his pal Algy Piecrust for weeks.

“Oh Wetpatch.” Amy squealed with delight as she whipped back the covering, and then quickly averted her eyes in case time travel did nasty things to people, “You’re back!”

Immediately everyone began fussing around the young hamster – asking all sorts of questions, and checking to see if he retained most of his more obvious body parts.

Naturally, after learning from Desmond that time travel can sometimes be disorientating, and can often lead people to hear things that weren’t actually said, and were usually the product of their sub-conscious, Wetpatch made his report.

Everyone was delighted, though slightly appalled by the news that both the crew and passengers were due for a pasting by the volcano’s shockwave, and that vomiting would be commonplace.

Desmond was particularly thrilled that Tutu would be safe, and was probably half way to Chunderland by now: But was slightly disconcerted when Wetpatch informed him that Tutu was a brilliant navigator, and that the lanky creature possessed a natural flair for the science, and could actually wipe his bottom with the bathroom light off.

So now, it seemed, it was just a matter of trying to survive the shockwave when it hit. And Wetpatch knew exactly where he intended to ride it out…

After securing Kevin to the wall with a pair of extremely large bolts and a length of braid from the lounge drapes, Wetpatch settled himself into a harness that swung lazily from a spring that was attached to the ceiling.

“It won’t matter how much the ship bucks about.” The youngster informed the education computer, “I’ll be cushioned from its effects by this. Of course I’ll probably empty my stomach all over the place, but I’ll remain fundamentally unharmed.”

Kevin, despite being a machine, was less than enthralled at the thought of being puked over.

“Hey, dumb-ass hamster,” it spoke as eloquently as it could, “How’s about stuffing me in a cupboard or up the extractor fan? I can’t stand no thoughts of messy stuff getting in my innards. What you wanna have me ‘round for anyways?”

Actually Wetpatch had a very good reason for having Kevin around when the shockwave hit. Amongst its many talents, Kevin could double as a DVD player, and it just so happened that during the rapid descent into the deeps, several box sets of Rat Trek had fallen from the hold of the Disemboweller into the Bargebutt, and Wetpatch had collected them, cleaned all the filth and bodily wastes from them, and now intended to spend his time on a sci-fi fest to end all sci-fi fests: Hour upon endless hour of Rat Trek re-runs – with popcorn. He simply couldn’t wait

“It’ll take my mind off my recalcitrant balance mechanism.” He explained after Kevin demanded an explanation for the inclusion of audio-visual stimulation during a period of extreme physical and mental stress. “And if I position a mirror on the opposite wall – you can watch too!”

And so it came to pass. Almost exactly three hours, sixty-two minutes, and ninety seconds later, the S.S Bargebutt found itself in the grasp of an invisible monster. Joints creaked, bulkheads bristled, and transfer hoses wobbled horrendously as the vessel was dragged across a sizable portion of the globe by the racing volcanic shockwave. Up became down, left became right, and somewhere in the middle seemed like it might end up on the outside. All in all the mighty sub was tested far beyond its builder’s design expectations, and was not found wanting. Regrettably the same couldn’t quite be said of its crew however. As promised by the earlier form of Tutu – vomiting abounded, and a great gnashing of teeth could be heard throughout its endless corridors. Recriminations were commonplace, and many a rodent said things that they feared they might later regret.

In his cabin, Wetpatch was riding the storm quite well. Although he was bouncing around the room on the end of his spring like an expiring house fly, his brain remained active, and his stomach surprisingly calm.

Kevin was doing less well. The two bolts turned out to be made of inferior shit-metal, and the braid had been manufactured in a country where quantity was generally preferred over quality, and had duly snapped at the first serious tug. The education computer now lay in the corner with both its display unit and solitary ‘eye’ camera facing the ceiling. Its tracked wheels spun helplessly, and oil was leaking from places that Wetpatch never imagined Kevin possessed. But like the obedient automaton that it was, Kevin continued to play Rat Trek, Episode Seven of Season One, ‘With Winter Comes a Nose Warmer’. And Wetpatch was doing his best to watch it even though Kevin couldn’t help itself from rolling from side to side as the vessel bucked and weaved like a conquistador’s cavy.

It was just as (on screen) Mister Splatt had finished explaining some complicated science stuff to an uncomprehending Captain Perp that a thought suddenly intruded upon Wetpatch’s enjoyment of the action adventure television show.

“Hang on a minute.” The adolescent hamster cried out over the general cacophony made by a ship that was being pounded to within microns of tolerance, “That can’t be right!”

And he wasn’t talking about Mister Splatt’s pseudo-science either. But it was to be another hour before the storm had passed, and he could put his resulting inspirational theory to Professor Desmond…

“Fluff and bollocks!” The wild-furred scientist bellowed moments after listening with great intensity to Wetpatch’s worrying tale and his most recently posited theorem.

“Fluff and bollocks?” Inquired Sally as she strode into the control room, paw in paw with Mister Ho, and with Amy in tow. “It’s not like you to swear gratuitously.”

Desmond apologised and then explained exactly what it was that had brought out the beast in him.

“I don’t think that Tutu was really Tutu.” He began, which confused the heck out of all three listening hamsters.

“What Professor Squealch means is…” Wetpatch decided to explain upon Desmond’s behalf, “…due to some unexplained interference from either the high pressures experienced in the depths. Or possibly somebody using an illegal cell ‘phone. Or perhaps electromagnetic activity from deep within the planet’s crust – his time machine didn’t send me back to the right time and place.”

“But…” Sally began; but she quickly realised that she knew next to nothing about temporal translocation, and duly shut her gob.

“But…” Amy tried more successfully, “…if it wasn’t the proper Tutu, in the proper place, at the proper time: Who was he, where was he, and when?”

The question had been succinctly put, and Roman, who had been snoozing beneath a pile of laundry, openly applauded her before joining the group.

“We think,” Wetpatch continued, “that I was diverted through a sub-atomic maelstrom into an alternative dimension in which everything appeared to be exactly the same as this one. But we can’t be sure that it actually was the same – so now Professor Squealch is all worried about Tutu again. He thinks he might be dead!”

“Fluff and bollocks!” Ho verbally ejaculated. “Some real bad shit!”

Indeed it was ‘some real bad shit’. “If our conjecture transpires to be proven,” Desmond came close to wailing, “then we can’t even be certain that Wetpatch is the same Wetpatch that we sent through time. And he can’t be certain that we’re the same bunch of miserable rodents who sent him. Oh this is unbearable: I’ve never felt more out of my depth – even when compared to that time when I went potholing with Tutu and Horatio Horseblanket, and there was a cave-in, and the river began rising, and we had to grasp the tunnel roof with our incisors, and converse through our nostrils!”

For several moments the situation looked extremely grim. Then Wetpatch had an idea…

“Send me back again.” He suggested chirpily, “Only this time I’ll take a camera. We can check the resulting photos for anomalies after I get back.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Well what a load of sci-fi cliches and quasi-scientific bollocks that was. But it was fun too, wasn’t it? Unbelievably this book is still for sale at most e-book retailers. They don’t give up, do they! And neither should you. Visit the sidebar or Tooty’s Books Available Here beneath the header, and buy it now. Like straight away. Immediately. This instant. You know it’ll be little money spent well. Bargain of the week.

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 21

Due to some over-enthusiasm with the last episode, I’ve managed to get out of whack with these excerpts. So,this time I’m taking you back to the first volume – being this…

So, if you don’t mind, here is the excerpt…

Then Lionel took a sip of the steaming-hot tea. If it hadn’t been wet it would have set his bifurcated lips aflame.

“By the Great Angler’s Enormous Tit,” he bellowed, “that’s certainly cleared out both my sinuses and my cobwebbed mind!”

He then went on to explain that he’d been deep in thought. But before he could actually explain anything at all, Boney interrupted…

“It’s about the pretty lass, aint it, son?” he said – which surprised both Lionel and Boney because he was so rarely this insightful.

“Yes it is.” Lionel replied. “And it’s all to do with that day, long ago, when I arrived here.”

“Nose-surfing on an ocean of filth, I seem to recall.” Colin piped up during a break in the game for TV advertising and a desperately needed lavatory break for the players.

“That’s right.” Lionel turned to his android colleague, “And who was it that caused me to slip and fall into that vile ocean swell of slurry?”

Boney had no idea where Lionel was going with this train of thought, but he figured it best to humour the youngster, “A tractor driver, weren’t it?”

Lionel smiled. “And what happened to said tractor driver?” he inquired metaphorically.

Boney recognised the inquiry as being metaphorical because Lionel answered his own question before there was time to so much as suck a lower lip in contemplation, “He was taken to Chunderford General Hospital!”

This last point was obviously very important; but it was still early in the day, and not all of Boney’s neurons were facing the right way when they fired.

“Hmm,” he said, “nasty business. Nasty, nasty business.”

“Would that be his perforated scrotum that you’re talking about there?” inquired Colin.

“Indeed it would.” Lionel turned his attention back to Boney. “And whose teeth left those deep, painful, incisions?”

This final question stumped both flesh and blood, and non-flesh and blood hamsters alike.

Eventually Boney mumbled, “Well it was Fanangy, weren’t it? But ‘ow can that be? She was with us the ‘ole time. But she wouldn’t lie about somethin’ as important as biting down viciously on some poor unfortunate tractor driver’s ball-bag: That’s a pretty major to-do, that is. Grievous Bodily Harm at least. What d’ya reckon the answer to this conundrum is?”

“Time travel!” Lionel blurted the words more loudly than he intended to.

This was not received well by Boney: He was certain that it was a well-publicised fact that time-travel was impossible, and would remain so until the end of…er…time. The best argument against the existence of time-travel was the fact that no one had yet met someone from either the future, or the past: Ergo – time-travel was impossible. Boney said as much.

Now Lionel was quite adept at constructing illogical responses to random ephemera whilst playing his beloved computer games; and since he was rapidly becoming an expert on the television science-fiction show, Rat Trek, he thought that he could see a hole in this line of reasoning so vast that he could sail an ocean-going raft through it at top speed, with microns to spare.

“But what if they didn’t let on that they could travel in time? He said.

For a moment this fabulously reasoned argument stymied Boney. He was forced to fall back upon a stock answer to such difficult questions…

“It aint my place to think about such stuff,” He said, “Better minds than mine ‘ave got ‘emselves all tied up in a knot over simpler things than time-travel and suchlike.”

He may have got away with such a poor response just a few weeks earlier; but Lionel had gained much in mental stature, even if he hadn’t physically. So Boney was forced to retreat into his mental castle’s inner keep.

“Arse-holes,” he said as Lionel scoffed, “I’m going for a shit!”

This verbal bombshell exploded in Lionel’s lap like a packet of bursting Grainobisk Crappettes. He was stunned at his employer’s bluntness. In fact he was so stunned that he utterly failed to see either Boney make for the lavatory, or Colin quietly depart for destinations unknown. Eventually, after taking several heartbeats to recover his decorum, he elected to merely sit by himself for a while, cogitate, and sip his scalding tea until it stopped hurting.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2012

Obviously I don’t need to mention that this e-book is available on most platforms, including those mentioned on the sidebar and on Tooty’s Books Available Here beneath the header: you already know. Well if you didn’t, you do now.

 

Torn!

I have a terrible decision to make. Do I clamber into my loft ‘studio’ and add a few hundred shots to those you see on the left of picture; then write the sequel to ‘A Tale of Three Museums’?

Or do I lean to the right; attempt to decypher my unintelligible scrawl from about four or five years past; then write the sequel to ‘Present Imperfect‘? Both are worthy projects of a literary genius like wot I is. Or do I chuck a camera or two in the top-box of my Yamaha and go snapping photos of whatever takes my fancy? Oh decisions, decisions. I’m so torn! Of course I could do some housework and watch TV. But bollocks to that: where’s the creativity? Gotta keep this aging brain active. If you have an opinion, I’d like to hear it.

 

Casual Causality 2

Since I posted an excerpt from the first of my Causality Merchant science-fiction mysteries, I see no reason why I shouldn’t do the same thing with the second. Namely this piece of wonderfulness…

…which features the same central characters. It too remains available as an e-book (but no longer a paperback) at Lulu.com and most other outlets – see the sidebar Lulu logo and book covers, or the Tooty’s Books Available Here page beneath the header to access the better known ones. Right, enough of that mercenary stuff: on with the excerpt…

Wozniak greeted the Brownings in the hallway, and invited them to follow him to the study where they could make themselves comfortable.

They chatted for a while. Wozniak reminded them of how he came to know them, and they in turn related the tale of how they became friends of his brother.

“You know,” Connor said twenty minutes later, from behind a large glass of brandy, the contents of which he swirled admiringly, “we joked that you could be Tom’s double – that time when we watched you win on the coconut shy during the summer fete. Of course we had no idea that you were brothers at the time: We knew you only as Peter.”

“Well that’s fair enough.” Wozniak smiled. “I’m hardly on the electoral role, and I wasn’t sporting a beard at the time. You’d no reason to know my identity. I don’t exactly bandy it about. Of course if you’d spoken with Miss Witherspoon at the general store, you might have put two and two together. I’m known as ‘That Nice Mister Wozniak’ to her and her friends. I know – I should be embarrassed; but I’m not.”

Janice had paused in her preparations for dinner to meet Connor and Amanda, but once the preliminaries were completed she had made her excuses and returned to the

kitchen. Now she returned – shucking off an apron as she did so, and tossing it upon the telephone stand in the hallway before anyone noticed her arrival.

“Ladies and gentlemen.” She announced. “Luncheon is served.”

“Oh goodie.” Amanda was upon her feet first. “I’m absolutely starving.”

No one had turned up their noses at the sight of a hurriedly prepared Prawn Cocktail. It may have been old-fashioned, but under the circumstances – once Tom had explained them to the Brownings  – their guests were most complimentary.

Gwen, Dave, and Judith had joined them. Fortunately the dining room table was huge, and they were all able to fit around it with ease.

An hour later, with Judith’s help, Janice was in the process of removing the last of the empty plates to the kitchen counter when a clap of thunder made both women jump. Judith took a look out through the kitchen window.

“Strange.” She said. “It looks like a perfectly clear evening out there. There’s not a cloud to be seen.”

In the dining room a puzzled Wozniak had made the same observation.

Gwen remembered the dog.

“Oh Tom, I’d completely forgotten Wolfie. I left him in the orchard. You know how he hates thunder.”

Tom was dismissive. “He’s a big boy. He can’t run off. He’ll find his way back here if he’s desperate enough.”

Gwen was less certain. “Perhaps I should go fetch him.”

Abruptly the sky lit up for a brief moment – illuminating the interior of the dining room like a thousand flash bulbs going off simultaneously. A deafening clap of thunder followed a split second later.

Gwen’s keenness dissipated. “On the other hand…” She said nervously.

Again Wozniak scrutinized the empty sky. To confirm his observation he opened the French doors, and stepped out onto the patio. Turning through three hundred and sixty degrees he scanned the heavens.

“Not a cloud in the sky.” He said in a puzzled voice. “Tom, you’re more into meteorology than I am: Is it possible to have thunder and lightning without clouds?”

Tom was amused by this. “Since when have I shown the slightest interest in meteorology? I run a small chain of gay bars: I don’t forecast the weather. But in answer to your question – no I don’t think it can.”

Connor Browning spoke up. “I’m no expert, but surely cloud formation is an absolute prerequisite for electrical activity in the atmosphere.”

Janice and Judith chose that moment to enter from the hallway.

“This is a strange to-do.” Janice said. “What peculiar weather we’re having.”

“Unless it isn’t the weather at all.” Dave’s tone sounded ominous.

Judith shot him a warning look.

Wozniak too wasn’t ready to share their secrets with their guests, and quickly made light of the situation.

“Of course – it’s probably the RAF flying low, and trying out some new gizmo. Let’s not worry ourselves about it any more.”

“I’ll second that.” Tom clapped his hands together. “Right – who’s for coffee?”

Seven hands, including Tom’s own, responded by thrusting skywards.

“Excellent.” He smiled warmly, and made for the door. “Amanda – you can assist me.”

Amanda immediately fell into line with him.

“I am at your command, oh master.” She said cheekily.

Then, to the surprise of Janice, she ran a finger down his spine. And as they stepped from the room the same hand completed its journey by gently squeezing a well-toned buttock.

Janice looked to Wozniak. Her message was clear. I thought your brother was homosexual?

Wozniak merely shrugged his reply. You can never be sure of anything with Tom.

No one else seemed to have noticed, or if they had they were playing dumb.

“Oh I do worry about Wolfie.” Gwen fretted by the window. “He could come over all catatonic.”

“Tell you what,” Connor chirped up, “let’s go take a look shall we. If there’s another ungodly bang we can always come scurrying back inside.”

Gwen was most grateful for this support, and readily agreed to venture outside through the French windows.

“See you soon.” Connor waved cheerily to those who remained. “Send out a search party if we don’t return by dawn won’t you.”

Wozniak, Janice, Dave, and Judith all responded with a wave and a smile, but Wozniak felt a chill run down his spine, and his smile fell away.

The others noticed this.

“Causality Merchant alert, Peter?” Dave surmised.

“Maybe.” Wozniak’s expression grew grim. “Two claps of thunder – without a cloud in the sky? It doesn’t feel right.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Ooh-err, what could this all mean? Sounds ominous. And what about Wolfie – the Rottwieller/Doberman cross? Where has he disappeared to? Could he be….dead? Killed in a most grisly manner? Or am I giving too much away? Buy the (inexpensive) e-book to find out!

Casual Causality 1

Since I posted excerpts from my pair of ‘Silent’ books recently, I thought, “Bugger it: I’ll give ’em a taste of my ‘Causality Merchant‘ books too!” So here I am, hoping you’ll spare a few seconds to peruse a snippet from this book…

Oh yes, if you didn’t know: I also write under the pen name of Clive Thunderbolt. Well I did: I might again too. It all depends on whether I can bother to get my arse into gear and write the third book that I started in 2016 or whenever it was. Unlike the ‘Silent’ books, this pair of e-books have third person narratives, which (in hindsight) might have been a mistake. I think it’s so much better if the character is telling the tale in his or her own words. But it’s too bloody late now: I wrote this (and it’s sequel) years ago. Here’s the excerpt…

Later that evening, in the drawing room, Wozniak and Marcus reclined together upon a large, sumptuous sofa. Soft music played; and because the evening had become a little chill, Wozniak had a small fire crackling in the hearth.

Marcus was sipping at her whiskey and soda. She stared into the dancing flames. Upon the nearby coffee table an almost empty whisky bottle perched. Wozniak, one arm around Marcus, lay against the arm of the sofa, with her head reclining upon his shoulder. In his hand he also held a glass of whiskey. But his was full, and had remained so for most of the evening. Though he appeared to Marcus to be at complete ease and at peace with the world, this was an entirely false impression – just as Wozniak had planned it. Where Marcus had drunk freely, Wozniak had been more circumspect. Where Marcus’ cognitive abilities were being impaired by ingestion of alcohol; Wozniak’s remained fully intact. He had quickly realized that if he was to discover anything about the activities at Carstairs Research & Development, it would require every advantage he could think of, and then some. She was smart and as sharp as a razor, and he wondered if alcohol could truly blunt it.

He broke the silence:

“Work must be really agreeing with you lately: that’s two days on the trot that you’ve come here full of the joys of spring. What gives?”

If he’d expected her to open up to such a gambit, he was to be sorely disappointed.

Marcus waved an admonishing finger at him, “Ah-ah-ah; remember the old war-time maxim: Walls have ears.”

Wozniak remained good-natured about the setback. It was still reasonably early: the situation wasn’t irredeemable.

“Hey,” he seemingly complained affably, “I’m not talking shop here: I’m just…well maybe I was just a little.”

“Of course you were.” Marcus slapped his free hand playfully.

Under normal circumstances Wozniak would have backed off at this point: but today he needed to press on. He had nothing to lose after all.

He took up the mantle again. “Hell, Kate, can you blame me? Look at me. I sit here all day dreaming up stories that just don’t come – whilst you go gallivanting about doing who-knows-what, and having a hell of a time doing it. I’m going stir-crazy, Kate: tell me something I don’t already know. Tell me something of your life. If I can’t experience it first-hand, at least let me enjoy you recounting it to me. Let me get involved in some way. Tell you what – I’m a pretty smart fellow: bounce some ideas off me.”

Marcus pulled herself upright. She placed her drink upon the coffee table.

“Peter Wozniak,” she began sternly, “anyone who knows anything about you – knows that you are a fantasy and S.F writer. Since I’m someone who knows something about something, I know exactly what you’re up to – and that’s looking for inspiration: and you don’t care where you find it.”

Wozniak couldn’t find argument with this summation. So he said, “Is that such a bad thing? It is my stock in trade, you know.”

“Yes it is.” Marcus responded adamantly. “Exactly. And what happens when the powers that run Carstairs Research and Development see one of your shows on TV? They’ll say, ‘Hello, hello, hello – now where did he get that idea from? I wonder who might have told him about that little project. Might it possibly have been that lovely Doctor Marcus?  We know he’s been slipping her a length or two. And he did ‘phone the office that time…’ Am I right?”

Wozniak adopted his most indignant pose. “No, you’re not: It’s not like that at all!”

Marcus laughed out loud at his hurt expression.

“Come on, Peter, please – let’s have a little honesty here: you’re like a Nineteen Seventies reporter from the Washington Post: what wouldn’t you give for a good story? I’m sure shagging the arse off me wouldn’t be deemed above and beyond the call of duty…”

Wozniak’s face showed amazement. But it wasn’t Marcus’ words that caused it: it was the inference.

“You mean there’s actually a story to be had?” He grinned and narrowed his eyes.

He then joined in with Marcus as her laughter increased. He wasn’t even put off when he received a playful slap around the face – with the line, “Peter Wozniak – you are incorrigible!”

She then punched him on the shoulder – spilling his whisky down the front of his trousers.

“Oh deary me!” She exclaimed through a fit of giggles, “I’ve gone and made your nice clothes all wet.” Her hands delved into his moistened groin, and started tugging at his zipper. “We’ll have to find a place in the washing machine for them. Now let’s see – how do we get them off?”

But her inebriation made her fingers fumble, and Wozniak was able to fend her off with ease. He took her hands in his:

“Oh no you don’t, Doctor Marcus.” He scolded. “Not until you tell me what’s made you so damned cheerful. Come on, you: spill the beans, or you’ll go home tonight a spinster.”

“You do realize that your ghastly threat constitutes emotional blackmail, I hope?” Marcus replied as she regarded the tall man through narrowed eyes. “I could have you shot, or something equally unpleasant.”

“Oh yes.” He grinned, “But when needs must, even the perfect gentleman must lower his standards.”

Marcus regained her whisky – all the better to ruminate over Wozniak’s words. After a few moments she winked.

“Well as long as it’s not only the aforementioned gentleman’s standards he’s lowering.” She whispered.

And with that Wozniak was certain he had won the day.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

As with many of my books, this one was originally published several years previous to the copyright date, but was updated that year and re-published to coincide with the sequel. I can’t say that it’s nice: a lot of people get killed. But that Peter Wozniak is a good guy: you’ll like him. Naturally the e-book remains available (though I’ve discontinued the paperback) at Lulu.com and other outlets both major and minor.

More Time For Silence

Now you didn’t think I was going to post an excerpt from Silent Apocalypse without following it up with the same from Silent Resistance? Surely not? And you’d be right…

By the way, do you think that little girl who appears beneath the letter N in the word Resistance looks a tad dangerous? It was that look that made me choose this image as the cover. I even wrote a passage to include the scene. Any way – on with the excerpt…

As the Land Rover pulled alongside us, we could barely hear the driver’s cheerful hail above the din of its clattering diesel engine.

“Hello, you two.” He shouted from the side window of the two-seat cabin, “You’re from yon farm along the way, aint ya?”

I raised an eyebrow at this; I was somewhat surprised that the young man of (I estimated) eighteen or nineteen was aware of us. We’d chosen a well-hidden spot in a shallow valley that was all but invisible from the road.

He must have read my mind because he tapped the side of his nose, winked, and said, “Spent all me life ‘round these parts: pays to know who the competition are – ‘specially during times of plague and pestilence.”

“Yes, I imagine so.” I said as I extended a hand towards him. “Felicity Goldsmith.”

“Graham Perkins.” He replied – cutting the engine, and taking my fingers in his huge, calloused hands. “It’s nice to meet someone’s what’s civilised for a change.”

I was surprised at the coarseness of his hands. They felt like those of a man three times his age that had spent a lifetime tilling the land.

‘A farmer’s son. I think I can trust this man.’

Tasman then introduced himself as Brian Wilkins. I was glad that Tasman had slipped in a pair of his contact lenses; explaining his oblong pupils would have been problematical.

“I hope you don’t mind,” Graham spoke to both of us, “but I’ve been keeping a bit of an eye on your farm. I figured everybody’d be here when I found Soverton empty a few months back.”

I nodded; it was from the village of Soverton that we’d recruited the members of our co-operative.

“If you don’t mind me saying,” Graham was continuing, “you could use a bit of expertise down there.”

Although I bristled inside, I said nothing to the older boy. I merely looked at him with what I hoped was an inquiring expression.

“Them winter crops in the lower field.” He went on, “You need to sow ‘em further up the slope.”

Tasman threw me a glance. I could read nothing into it, and so wished that he could have used his telepathy upon me.

“Would you be interested in joining our co-operative?” He asked the young farmer.

Graham pretended to pause for thought.

“Well I wasn’t exactly planning on something quite so bold.” He replied eventually.

Tasman continued as though the other boy hadn’t spoken, “It’s just that Felicity and I have business elsewhere, and it’s…you know…”

It let his words trail off into nothingness.

Graham grinned. “And you’d like someone what knows what he’s doing to take over?” He said hopefully.

“Pretty much.” Tasman replied.

I was surprised at the sudden turn of events.

‘Hey, this isn’t part of the master plan!’

I was concerned that we were in the process of giving away the fruits of many week’s labour to a complete stranger.

‘But wait a moment, Fel: Tasman might be too polite to read your mind, but you can bet your last…whatever…that he’s read Graham’s. Now would be the perfect time for two-way silent communication between us.’

I tried ‘sending’ Tasman a thought, but I expected him to be too busy concentrating his attention upon Graham to even begin to ‘hear’ me.

“Is this boy the real deal?”

Tasman’s eyes flicked in my direction: I detected the minutest of nods.

Graham appeared to be prevaricating, though I was certain it was just an act.

“It’s not every day that a lad your age gets offered the manager’s job on a working farm, complete with live-in staff.” I pointed out to him.

Graham’s head tipped to one side slightly in agreement. He then added, “No, and it isn’t every day that world ends either.”

I wasn’t absolutely certain what he meant by that remark. Perhaps he had more work on his hands than he could deal with. Maybe running our farm as well as his own would be too much for him.

“Could you give me a tour?” He inquired.

Had he asked the question twenty-four hours earlier, Tasman would undoubtedly have agreed to his request: But today wasn’t yesterday. Although no one at the farm knew it yet, Tasman and I were Absent Without Leave. Or in Lee’s parlance, we’d ‘done a runner’. We couldn’t go back; it would require that we explain the reason for our departure, and then face all the arguments that would no doubt be intended to keep us there.

“Tell you what.” Tasman said, “You know where the turning to the farm is: If I write a quick note of introduction, you can find your own way there. Ask for Carl, and show it to him. He’ll gladly show you around. He knows the farm isn’t nearly as efficient as it should be, and could use some pointers. And if truth be known – we’re a little over-manned: Perhaps you could take a few kids back to your place?”

‘Brilliant!’

This must have been exactly what Graham had wanted to hear.

“I accept your kind offer.” He said whilst shaking Tasman’s hand.

He then produced a dog-eared note pad and an almost blunt pencil from a cubby-hole in the dashboard of his Land Rover.

I watched as Tasman used the wing of the vehicle as a writing desk.

Dear Carl,

This is Graham Perkins. He is a professional farmer. We have invited him to tour the farm with view to taking a managerial role there. If favourable he would like volunteers to help him at his farm too. It would definitely benefit both farms, and widen our co-operative. I can vouch for his authenticity.

Regarding Felicity and myself; please do not be alarmed by our absence. We both have very important tasks to perform elsewhere that are not connected with the co-operative. I think you can guess what they might be, but please keep the truth from the younger ones. Rest assured we both intend to return one day.

With love,

Tasman.

I then added my signature to it, and handed it to Graham, who ran a cursory eye over it.

“Tasman?” He enquired. “I thought you said your name…”

“A nick-name.” I blurted. “Everyone knows him as Tasman.”

Quickly changing the subject, I added, “You know the way: Down the lane a while; then down the dirt track on the left.”

Graham nodded as he folded the note into a tight wad, and placed it in the breast pocket of his waxed cotton body warmer.

“So where are you two off to know, then?” He asked.

“We’d…um…We’d rather not say.” I replied.

Graham tapped the side of his nose for a second time. Winking, he said, “Don’t want me letting the cat out of the bag to Carl and the kids’ eh? Well that’s fine by me: We all got agendas what need seeing to. Now I aint exactly overflowing with the stuff, but I’m willing to spare a little diesel if you’re a needing a lift somewhere.”

 

It had been a kind offer, but we politely declined, and made our farewells. We watched as the Land Rover trundled away along the lane towards our former sanctuary. I felt buoyed by the encounter. It gave me hope for the future success of the farm. I also took it as an omen for what we were about to do.

“He’s not even considering turning down our offer, you know.” Tasman said as at last the vehicle disappeared from view, “He may not have mentioned the fact, but he and Carl went to school together. There was two years difference between them, but they knew each other well.”

I smiled at Graham’s ineffectual subterfuge. I stopped when Tasman added, “What’s an omen?”

“Hey!” I complained, “I thought you said that you wouldn’t read my thoughts?”

Tasman laughed. “I didn’t: You were leaking all over the place. I had to fight to keep your thoughts out. And yes, despite the terrible hair-do, you really are quite pretty.”

With that he ran off along the lane. With mock indignation I went in pursuit.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

The problem with this story is that, very often, the random extract gives too much away. A spoiler, if you will. Fortunatley this is not one of those. I think it’s rather nice, and makes no hint of the blood-letting that is to follow. Oh, was that a spoiler in itself?

Anyway, this excellent tale of plucky youths fighting insurmountable odds is available at most e-book outlets. Check out the sidebar book covers or Tooty’s Books Available Here beneath the header

 

 

Time For Some Silence

Since I do a bit of writing – and I once wrote a couple of books, the titles of which both began with the word ‘Silent’, I expect you’ve figured out what comes next. Yes, it’s a snippet from the venerable (and vaguely YA) Silent Apocalypse…

  …which was my best book, until I wrote the sequel, Silent Resistance. Of course that doesn’t include The Psychic  Historian: but how could it? Nothing compares with The Psychic Historian! Anyway, that’s by-the-by: on with the excerpt. Naturally random chance did the selection…

That evening we’d resumed our places at the table. From our vantage point we watched the sun dip below the horizon. It was an elegant but desolate place now. Nothing much appeared different, especially in the failing light.

What was it that told the eye that things had been altered forever?’

Lee was watching me, although I wasn’t aware of it. He must have been thinking along the same lines.

“Vapour trails.” He said, and I knew he was right. “The day we see a vapour trail again is the day we wake up from this nightmare.”

Katherine had been paying attention too:

“Until then the sky is the province of the clouds alone.”

We said no more and watched darkness march across the land.

Kevin broke the silence:

“I don’t want to hear The Whispers, Flissery: Can I go to bed now?”

I told him that he could, but he insisted that I take him upstairs.

Donald warned me, “Be quick: They’re coming on soon.”

Having tucked Kevin in I was barely back in time to catch the first ethereal sounds. There were indeed voices, buried by other voices, submerged beneath static or something else we couldn’t identify.

Lee put words to my thoughts; “Ya know – it’s like we’re supposed to understand it, but someone won’t let us.”

“It’s almost musical.” I opined. “Though I agree with Donald – it is spooky.”

“Lousy rhythm section.” Katherine added.

“It’s always the same, far as I can tell.” Donald informed us.

“Like its set on an automatic loop, you mean?” Lee asked.

Donald remained noncommittal.

“We need to record this.” Lee said, looking about the room, “I don’t suppose..?”

Donald answered Lee’s incomplete question, “What would I want with a tape recorder: Keep a Captains’ Log?”

“Then we’d better find one.”  Lee urged. “Where’s the nearest town?”

“Not now, Lee.” I scolded him for his impetuosity. “It can wait until morning.”

“If it’s really that important.” Katherine added doubtfully. “I thought we were avoiding towns. Remember – gangs, violence, and disease?”

I tried to curb Lee’s enthusiasm. “Let’s not rush into anything: it’s not like we’re desperately short of time: we’ll probably find a village store somewhere…”

Lee recognized the good sense in this. He changed tack:

“Here, Don, mate – so what’s so special about this lake that we’re not looking for?”

Don gave him a long appraising look. “You’re really not looking for our island?”

“Cross my heart, and hope to fall in a bucket of pig muck.”

Donald wasn’t particularly forthcoming. He simply said, “It’s protected.”

“What – by razor wire? Dobermans? Machine guns?” Lee demanded.

“A snake pit?” Katherine chirped. Then she added, “Crocodiles?”

“Dunno.” was Donald’s even briefer reply. Then, “I haven’t actually seen it. I know where it is – roughly: But I haven’t been there. I don’t know what protects it. Maybe it’s God. Maybe it’s a psychic bubble. Gaia. I dunno. I just know that all my family’s people have gone there, and they reckon they’re gonna be safe.”

I could see that Donald was becoming upset; but I thought the subject might be too important to drop. I eased the conversation in a slightly different direction:

“You said that you’ve lost contact with them…”

“Yeah, that’s right. It’s been a while.”

“And that concerns you…”

“Yes it does.” He took a deep breath and dared to utter the words to us that he might never have said to himself, “I don’t reckon they made it.”

‘Reality check’.

I took his hand. “Donald, I’m sorry, but I think you’re right. You would’ve heard…”

He nodded without speaking.

“Would you like to know – I mean for absolute certain?” I asked.

He shook his head.

Katherine stood and placed a hand upon each of his shoulders.

“I think you need to. You can’t go on in vain hope. It’ll drive you quite potty eventually, you know.”

Donald brushed Katherine’s hands aside, and blurted angrily:

 “You want me to take you to the island: I knew it all along!”

“No.” I assured him. “Not at all. We want to take you.”

Lee shrugged his shoulders at Donald’s enquiring look.

“There’s no such thing as grown-ups, these days, Don.” He said quietly. “Not anymore. Not even the Chosen Ones. Sorry.”

Donald nodded minutely. We left it at that. He’d come around.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

This book was actually written in 2004, when I was much younger and considerably more handsome and virile, with a good head of hair and firm buttocks. In fact it was whilst writing this book that they went all flabby. Clearly sitting around on your arse in front of a computer screen isn’t good for one’s backside. But it’s too late now. This is the tidied up version that I produced to accompany the release of Silent Resistance.

Naturally both books are available at most e-book stockists. See Tooty’s Books Available Here beneath the header – or click on the cover photos on the sidebar.

Revel in the Ribaldry 14

Fourteenth excerpt means it must be from the fourth book. In a world gone mad, it’s the only logical thing thing to do…

Yes, the book that everyone ignores. Well please don’t ignore this extract: it’s rather nice – in a vile sort of way. And here it is – entirely chosen by our best chum, random chance…

Tutu, meanwhile, had not been visited by the time-travelling Wetpatch. He was still under the illusion that he had until eternity to reach Hamster-Britain aboard Droop’s private submarine. In fact he was rather pleased at the prospect of a long ocean journey because he believed it would take that long for him to comprehend the rudiments of the euphonium. It wasn’t enough that he should learn to play the instrument: In order to become a virtuoso he must understand its inner workings, and merge his soul with it. Fortunately for the cross-eyed twit, the ship’s computer enjoyed the luxury of an artificial intelligence component. It was just this that saved Tutu from a dreadful demise…

“Hey, Honey.” The computer whispered in its seductive female voice, “I have some disturbing facts lined up for y’all.”

Tutu didn’t enjoy being in receipt of disturbing facts. In fact he hated them worse than penile thrush – especially when it interfered with a really unimportant task.

Looking up from the rear inspection panel of the euphonium, he snapped, “What is it? Can’t you see I’m busy!”

“I’m sorry, Sugar.” The A.I replied, “But I don’t have any conception of the word ‘busy’. I understand it’s meaning in the literal sense – that being how it’s described in the National Dictionary of Hamster-Britain: But its relationship to you, Honey, is lost to me.”

“The facts! The facts!” Tutu uncharacteristically lost his cool. “I have a flange weeble to adjust you know!

“Well here it is, Tutu, honey: You’d best be strapping your masculine rodent body into something real soft, and get this vessel out of here real quick, baby – coz the volcano at Perineum is going to explode, and y’all well within the blast radius.”

Tutu was well acquainted with blast radii: He’d been in too many of them during his years of servitude to Professor Desmond Squealch.

“Fluff!” He yelled, and jabbed frantically at the High Velocity Button that stood proud from the dashboard, with flashing L E Ds highlighting it in a most spectacular fashion. “Is this ship warp-capable?”

It was a foolish question, and Tutu knew it; but he hoped for the best anyway.

“Well, Honey,” the computer’s seductive voice said after several seconds of cyber-cogitation, “there is the experimental Z-Drive. Y’all could give that a try.”

Tutu had never heard of a Z-Drive. In fact he wondered if the computer wasn’t playing some ghastly trick upon him, and had made it up on the spur of the moment.

“Z-Drive?” He heard himself query. “Is that some sort of experimental propulsion system that Professor Squealch included in this vessel by accident?”

“Well, Tutu, sugar, you get five out of ten for logical deduction from scant data: But you aint entirely right.” The computer’s sultry tone hadn’t moderated despite the seriousness of the situation, and Tutu found it hard to concentrate: And his trousers kept flapping uncontrollably too. “It’s a means to tap into the underwater equivalent of hyperspace:” It continued. “It’s called Moister-Space – and if you want to live to an old age, you should open the hidden panel above your head; pull down the cord you find dangling in there; then hang on for dear life. The Z-Drive is experimental, unproven, barely out of the theoretical stage, and highly intoxicating.”

“That may be the case,” Tutu managed to reply coolly, “but will it get my furry rear end out of here?”

The computer’s response was equally chilly. “Yes, but I have no idea where we’ll find ourselves afterward. It could mean instantaneous loosening of the bowels.”

Tutu mulled this over for perhaps fifteen nanoseconds. Then a warning klaxon nearly made him burst from his seat like gerbil with a scalded rectum.

“Warning.” A defence mechanism overrode the hamster/computer companion interface. “Unimaginably vast shock-wave approaching. Batten down the hatches. Put away the best crockery. Collision imminent.”

Tutu didn’t waste a second more prevaricating. There really was no other decision that he could make. Circumstances minimized his options to one.

“Operate the Z-Drive now.” He yelled above the tumult, and yanked on the cord.

“Initiating primary use of the Z-Drive in ten seconds.” The computer became terribly professional now that it had been given a clear and concise instruction. “Ten, nine, eight…”

Such dire straits brought out the worst in Tutu, and instantly his fine veneer of civilisation was torn away by the abrasive nature of the situation. “I said now – you cybernetic asshole!” He roared in his most inelegant tone.

Naturally the computer did what any well-designed computer would do in such a situation. It hurried through the remaining digits in triple-quick time, and the Z-Drive was duly initiated.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Now does that strike you as the sort of book that people gleefully overlook? I can’t understand it. Anyway, whatever, it remains available at most e-book outlets. So, if you’ve chosen not to ignore this amazing literary piece, some of the better-known ones are mentioned on the Tooty’s Books Available Here page beneath the header.

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 9

If this is the ninth instalment, the book in question must be this one…

Yes, it’s that total flop of a Hamster-Sapiens book – The Abduction of Wetpatch Wilson. I mean, how is that a book with a title that includes a character’s name like Wetpatch Wilson, fails to inspire people to check it out? I dunno: beats the shit outta me. Anyway, in yet another attempt to temp an e-book-buying public to part with a couple of Dollars, here’s this particular excerpt…

“He’s probably used his legendary deductive reasoning to calculate that the volcano would probably mangle the Bargebutt – and he’s come to save us.” Amy explained with a huge smile upon her face so lovely that it made Roman visibly wilt. “And he’s Professor Desmond’s manservant too: What would he do with himself in that great big mansion they share otherwise?

“That’s right.” Desmond agreed readily, “He’s the sort of chap who’s only really happy when he’s either with me – doing super-scientific stuff – or having sexual intercourse with the sturdily-built ladies of the forest. He adores action: He abhors sitting around upon his furry arse almost as much as he abhors a vacuum.”

Sally’s ears pricked up at the utterance of two significant words. “Sturdily-built?” She

inquired eagerly. “I’m sturdily-built. I think we can all agree on that.”

“No, Sally.” Ho spoke before the object of his desire could dig a verbal hole too deep from which to climb, “You amply-built. Not same. Sturdy is muscles. Ample is fat.”

To say that Sally was shocked at this information would have misconstrued her state of mind. She was angrier than at any time that anyone could recall. She was even angrier than the time when she was arrested for exposing her naked arse to the local police cameras. Her anger even transcended normal hamster behaviour, and steam seemed to vent from several hidden orifices.   “No one,” she roared incandescently, as she cast Ho aside, dragged herself upright, and abruptly stilled the violent movements of the wildly swinging periscope with a careless paw, “has ever called me fat. My mother was fat. Her mother before her was too. But I am not. I have my father’s genes – and he was a freestyle motocross rider, I’ll have you know. If anyone thinks that I’m fat – please raise a paw now.”

They were all hamsters, but they weren’t completely stupid. Most of them still stared at the unmoving periscope with something approaching awe: They certainly didn’t want to make Sally angrier than she was already.  “No.” They all said in perfect unison as they shook their heads in negation.

Wetpatch spat out Sally’s knickers. “Absolutely not.” He said – wiping his mouth and trying not to gag when he recognised the obstruction for what it was, “Here – get that sturdy arse of yours undercover again.”

Placated, Sally moved away a short distance to regain her underwear. This gave everyone the opportunity to turn their attention to the arrival of their unsolicited rescuers; and Ho a moment to question the wisdom of total honesty.

Any further potential conversation was rudely interrupted by the horrendous screeching sound made by the Disemboweller as the ancient rust-bucket gave in to the ceaseless drag of gravity, and slowly slid down the starboard flank of the vast Crustacean vessel – to settle alongside it in the alluvial mud.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

P.S Actually I have a theory about this book’s inability to sell. It’s a bloody mess!

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 6

The sixth extract from the Hamster-Sapiens series of e-books returns to the opening book. You know it: it’s this one…

So without further ado and unneccessary preamble, let’s get down!

Well since the time-line had been altered, there was no way that The Overmind – no matter how brilliant of mind or powerful of will – could possibly know that reality had been altered. It couldn’t even guess that without the Piss Bowl’s interference it would have loathed the colour scheme that now ruined the aesthetic simplicity of The Where House with its garishness and retina-shocking hues. Even less could it imagine that it had ever harboured desires so vast – as to encompass an entire world within its personal domain. Only of its origin did it recall anything with any degree of accuracy.

“Oh woe is me.” The hamsters all heard it wail as they approached – booming so loudly that the shell of the building was now attempting to peel itself from the ancient brickwork, “What manner of beast am I? Created from a deadly combination of alien DNA, the bodies and minds of some poor unfortunate combat veteran hamsters, a few shitty old robots, and a computer console that had seen better days: And what have I got to show for it? Tasteless fittings that are shaped like androgynous nipples, generally appalling décor, a tendency to effeminate outbursts, and a force twelve storm overhead. It’s not much is it! What am I to do?”

Well if timing isn’t everything – then no one knows what is. Because at that very second Lionel chose his moment to lead his entourage into the former Sentinel Robot bay – pausing only long enough to lay the Piss Bowl down gently upon the floor in the corridor outside.

As the swing door clanked shut behind them Lionel found his voice…

“I say,” he began rather politely, “we’d like to have word with you, if you don’t mind.”

The Overmind didn’t look up. It wasn’t looking down to start with. Though it might have been looking inward – gazing upon its self-pity and loathing.

“Oh, look at you, in your drab beiges and greys.” It said bitchily. “Come to gloat, have you? Well fluff you: You can shove your pity up your nose: I like being miserable. And I have the power to make you miserable too. You see if I haven’t!”

“Don’t you talk to Lionel like that!” Fanangy scolded The Overmind.

“Ooh, what’s this?” The Overmind jeered, “Thinking with your hormones, I see. That’s a dangerous game, young fluffy being. Hormones can make you moist; and moistness conducts electricity…Why – if I wanted – I could swat you like a…”

“Please don’t.” Lionel interrupted the mighty machine, “She’s rather…”

Lionel found himself momentarily lost for words.

Silence reigned. If a pin had dropped at that precise moment it would have sounded like a gunshot, an earthquake, or the back door of the local municipal swimming pool slamming shut on a blustery day.

“Yes?” The Overmind chose to remind Lionel that he was in the middle of interrupting its exceedingly loud tirade.

“Yes?” Boney, Tonks, and Major Hardcourt-Gymp added in rapt anticipation.

“Yes?” Fanangy whispered as she looked up at him through eyes that resembled bottomless pools of dark liquid – reflecting nothing more, and nothing less, than total unquestioning faith and an adoration that stretched to infinity and back again.

Lionel gulped. Desperation marched across his face like storm-blown rain clouds He tried to imagine how the fictional Captain Perp would have dealt with this situation. But he came up empty. He then recalled the autobiography of local hero, Horatio Horseblanket, which he’d been studying so intently. Still nothing came. So, finally, with no other recourse open to him, he decided that he should entrust his voice to the only place that truly remained a mystery to him: His own inner feelings.

“Special.” He finally concluded.

At which The Overmind burst into tears. Not real ones of course: Cyber-Metaphorical ones. Or even Roboto-Metaphysical ones.

The Where House fairly shook to the rhythm of its sobs.

“Oi, pack that in.” Boney yelled in desperation, “You’ll ‘ave the whole building down ‘round our ear ‘oles, for fluff’s sake! Pull yer self together, ya artificial dim-shit!”

Fortunately the all-powerful intelligence managed to do as it was bid. In between sniffles it said, “Oh that was lovely. So totally hamstery. If only I could feel like that. But I’m a huge, ghastly, machine – fit only for overwhelming and consuming. Oh woe is me once again.”

“Well actually I might have the answer to your problem.” Lionel said as he began to recover from his deep inner embarrassment, “You won’t necessarily like my next suggestion, but I think you’ll agree it’s a whole lot better than being you.”

Well the Overmind listened to what Lionel had to say, and before long the vast device began imploding, and ejecting the constituents of its construct. In short – it spat out the soldiers, re-built the robots, and stuffed all the Smartgas into a handy canister that just happened to be hanging around beside the vending machine.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2012

This fabulous work remains available at most e-book retailers – the better-known of which appear on the sidebar and the Tooty’s Books page beneath the header. Not buying it is illogical. Unlike the characters in the story, you are a logical being. Ergo; the book must be bought. It’s the only logical thing to do.

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 4

As in the time honoured fashion of Revel in the Ribaldry, for the fourth extract from the defiantly different Hamster-Fiction series of e-books, I have delved into  the fourth book. Well it makes sense to – doesn’t it? Actually, in some ways, it doesn’t. And that is because this book…

…is the forgotten book of the series. For some reason I cannot fathom, not a single copy of this book has been bought by anyone anywhere. That, or my stats are faulty. But whatever – here comes the promised extract…

“Big tits and arse holes!” Desmond roared when he received Wetpatch’s subsequent report. “Space/time has gone to buggery!”

Everyone crowded around the lounge table in order to study the sheaf of photographs that Wetpatch had brought with him from the recent past.

“Are those Bermuda shorts that Tutu’s wearing?” Amy inquired. “A little out of character I would have thought.”

“And regard that calendar, if you will.” A madly-pointing Roman gesticulated towards the photograph of his choice. “I thought we were supposed to be saving the Crustacean Collective: Not the Cephalopod Emirates. If that’s not a naked octopus waving its tentacles in a most provocative manner, I’ll eat my police truncheon!”

“And look at this picture of me in the showers.” Amy squealed. Then she thought better of it, and quickly changed her tune. “No, on the other paw, perhaps you shouldn’t.”

But it was too late: Everyone’s eyes turned to regard the picture with rather less than entirely intellectual interest.

“Oh I see what you mean, Auntie.” Wetpatch called above the resulting clamour. “Your nipples are protruding through your silken chest fur like cigarette butts, which obviously means that you’re taking a cold shower in this picture. You never take cold showers, Auntie: Never in a million yonks. You like ‘em hot ‘n’ sweaty – like your sex. That can’t be the real you!”

“Now perhaps you’ll understand why I shouted ‘Big tits and arse holes’:” Desmond bellowed, “This is an utter disaster. As a brilliant scientist I am mortified. This is probably the lowest point of my career. I was going to retire when this particular adventure is over – but now I can’t possibly. Now I’ll have to spend my dotage producing ever greater works, if I’m ever to live this down. I’d like to kick myself up the arse if I could.”

“It wasn’t your fault that there was some sort of weird interference.” Sally tried to placate the desperate genius. “You’ve never made a time machine at the bottom of the sea before.”

“Indeed.” Cringe put on his most enthusiastic voice, “At least the youngster came back alright. At least we know that he’s really him this time.”

The enthusiasm turned out to be infectious.

“Yes, that’s right.” Roman added his two Rodentos-worth, “I can vouch for that.” He said adamantly.

“You can?” Desmond’s tone had turned hopeful once more.

“Of course.” Amy stood foursquare with the police constable. “Roman and I took Wetpatch into the toilet, where we drew a huge cross upon his buttocks with a felt-tip pen.”

“Yes, that’s right.” Wetpatch chirped happily. “And just to prove it…”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

P.S Its hard to believe (isn’t it?) that this book has a sales figure of zero. I mean – seven sodding years, and not one copy graces someone’s e-book reader. How about putting that terrible wrong to rights? Why not visit an e-book stockist – like the ones mentioned on the side bar to your left, or that area beneath the header – and purchase an e-copy of The Abduction of Wetpatch Wilson right now? Its jolly good you know – in a slightly whacky way. It’ll probably make you chuckle.

 

No Need to Apologize

When Covid 19 made its less-than-merry way into our global consciousness, I thought it best that I stop promoting this pair of rather entertaining books…

The reason: both tales are set in the wake of a global pandemic. It didn’t feel right to keep promoting them. So I didn’t. But a fellow scribe has told me, in no uncertain terms, that I should make no apologies for the books, and continue to promote them. It is advice that I’ve chosen to take. So, if you don’t mind, here is a brief extract from the original and its sequel…

Silent Apocalypse:

Only Donald wanted to know about the ‘nuts ‘n’ bolts’ of the operation; but that would also have to come later. It was quite possible that in time Cosgrove may have laid all the facts out for him to peruse; but he had information to impart to all of us, that although it wasn’t vital we know, would make it much easier to accept what would later happen to us. He explained that the ‘Intake Centres’ were the first point of contact between the organization that employed him – and the survivors of the virus. He apologized for the apparent elitism within their system of selection, but, because of the physical restraints upon them – time, space, logistics, etceteras – that it was incumbent upon them to select only those who proved themselves most capable. In short – only those who could discover, and then decipher, ‘The Whispers’, and act accordingly.

The organization that he worked for turned out to be a special branch of the United Nations. This information took me back to pre-virus days, and my father bitterly complaining about the inability of the U.N to deal with trouble spots anywhere in the world, whilst trying to solve all of its ills everywhere. At best he accused them of dithering. At other times he called them toothless dogs, or spineless jellyfish – which always amused me. Jellyfish really are spineless.

Cosgrove must have had a similar disposition toward that vast organization, because he added, “But we are a special branch of the U.N: We actually do what we say we’ll do. I think that makes us pretty unique.”

Katherine had replied, “Oh joy unconstrained: Civilization has fallen, and mankind is all but extinct: But we’re still being pushed around by governmental organizations. You truly are unique: There are no others like you. For that, at least, we should thank the plague. You know, I’m not sure that I didn’t prefer a roving existence.”

I was quite shocked. How could Katherine be so rude to a man who was so clearly our benefactor? I think Cosgrove was surprised too. He went to reply, but Katherine forestalled him; or thought she had.

“And don’t show me the door. Don’t say ‘well if that’s what you want…’ We all know that now we’ve seen your little operation, none of us will ever see the sunlight again. We might talk to someone: Let something slip over tea and biscuits: You might be discovered.”

Cosgrove gave her outburst several seconds of thought. He first stroked his lightly-stubbled jaw and then rubbed the back of his neck. Turning his attention back to her he said, “You know – you’re right – about everything. I hadn’t looked at that way before: I’ve been so wrapped up with this place since its inception that perhaps I’ve failed to really notice some of the more draconian measures we’ve been forced to adopt. You are so right. But if you perceive us in the negative…if your perception of us is of a top-heavy bureaucracy full of control freaks, then you are absolutely wrong. We’re not here to control the remnants of mankind: We’re here to, firstly save it; then reorganize it; then set it to the task of retaking our planet.”

Clearly Katherine wasn’t convinced by his words; though I was ready to don the blue beret that very moment:

“You make it sound like a war.”

Cosgrove’s passion cooled. “I was coming to that; but you’ve pre-empted me.”

“Oh – no,” Lee’s voice had taken on the tone of the totally dispirited.

We all looked at him. “What’s that?” Donald asked.

Lee shifted in his seat, “Don’t you see? We are at war: The virus wasn’t no accident, or a terrorist strike gone wonky: It was…what do you call it when someone means to do something in advance?”

“Premeditated?” I suggested.

“It was a premeditated attack.” He continued, “Someone tried to wipe us out. Everything on the whole flamin’ planet!”

Katherine looked at him as if he’d lost his mind, “You’re joking, right? Who would do that? That’s ridiculous. I mean – who would have anything to gain from it?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Silent Resistance:

I hadn’t been counting the seconds, but I assumed that Tasman would have reached the shattered fire escape door by now. I could only guess how torn he must be now: If he fired upon the dogs our presence would be proven. At best the Espeeg would come out shooting – with weapons that would reload an infinite number of times if necessary: At worst they would call for help or fly away to fetch it.

‘Don’t you just love a worst case scenario!’

My fraught nerves were then pushed beyond their design parameters when our captive began squirming violently – apparently able to slip out of his bonds with ridiculous ease. Worst still he opened his visor and started shouting.

I turned my gun upon him. “Shut up!” I screamed.

But of course he didn’t. I suppose, in his way, he was really rather heroic. In a moment of unforgivable anger I put a single sliver through his open face plate. He stopped shouting, and crashed forward onto what remained of his face.

“Next time do as I say!” I yelled at his still form, “You stupid – stupid – boy!”

Then as good sense reasserted itself I turned my attention to the flying machine and the dogs. The machine remained quiescent, but two of the dogs had begun an investigation of the noise, and were approaching the door. Despite my rising panic I maintained enough self-control to remember that I had a very finite number of slivers in the butt of my hand gun. It took me two seconds to have the MP7 off of my shoulder; into my hands; and ready for action. It took another to step into view. But I never pulled the trigger because from high upon the hillside five eight point nine five millimetre bullets were streaking downwards at supersonic speed. The first two careened wildly off the imperfect concrete surface; the second two entered the body of the leading animal at neck and abdomen; the last crashed into the following dog’s brain through the eye socket. Both stumbled – momentarily unaware that they were already dead – then flopped to the ground.

The courage of the remaining four dogs was undeniable because as one they ran at the door – their intentions perfectly clear. Again Jason opened up from the hillside, but this time the animals were more widely spaced and moving faster. Only one bullet struck home, and that did no more than slow down the powerful beast. It was up to me and Tasman now. The game was up: the battle lost: we’d go down fighting.

The Heckler and Koch MP7 hadn’t been designed as an assault rifle; it was intended for use as a personal defence weapon. And in that I role I doubt it has ever been surpassed. When finally I used it as its designers had intended it didn’t let me down. Its accuracy and rate of fire – not to mention its large calibre munitions – astonished me. The slightest hint of a tug upon the trigger – and a dog went down. Shift, aim, tug, fire: shift, aim, tug, fire. Three dogs were taken out of the fight in as many seconds. But three seconds is a long time in a fight – especially when your targets are fast-moving and headed in your direction. The fourth was almost upon me; I had no time to aim, and nowhere to run. So in desperation I slipped the gun down to my hip and pulled hard upon the trigger. For a brief moment I was blinded by the air in front of me as it seemed to erupt with flame, lead, and white-hot tracer rounds. Taking an involuntary step backwards I realised that less than a second had elapsed and my magazine was empty; but the last dog standing wasn’t anymore. It thrashed about upon the concrete at my feet – blood spurting from wounds to both shoulders – its jaws snapping at me as if hell bent upon revenge.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

If you’re thinking: “He wrote both books in one year? Jeez, they must be crap!” please don’t. I wrote the first one in 2004. I then re-wrote it in 2014 after completing the sequel earlier in the same year, which, hopefully, brought it up to that book’s standard. Anyway, they’re both very readable – if violent at times. I’ve discontinued the paperbacks, but the e-books remain on sale at most e-book retailers. Take your pick. The most popular ones are accessed via the ‘Tooty’s Books Available Here’ page beneath the header of this blog.

 

Age is Just a Number – Right?

Under normal circumstances, I’d like to answer “Yes” to that assertion/question. Surely we’re all as young as we feel; and if, on any given day, we’re feeling kinda young…then young we are. But, when truth be spoken, when I look at all those tablets that I take to maintain my eyesight, keep my feet on the end of my legs, and stop me degenerating into a basket case, I wonder. Then, when trying to push-start a stranger’s car, I fall to the ground and gash myself on the tarmac road surface; and when I slump onto the sofa following some strenuous pottering about with some seedlings in the garden; and when I stop regarding my poor old todger without rose-tinted glasses on, I begin to wonder. If I’m honest with myself, I am not the man I used to be. But then, recently, I discovered this book in a bottom drawer…

It is a collection of short stories, written in the 1960’s, by a brilliant science-fiction author, who was later to write the classic sci-fi novel ‘Ringworld‘. I bought it in the late 70’s aged 23. At the time I devoured it’s fabulous stories and snappy prose. I became an overnight Larry Niven fan, and read everything of his I could get my hands on. So, recently, forty years after reading it for the first time, I picked it up and began to read. Guess what: suddenly the decades fell away. I was 23 again – and I came to realise what age being a number really means. Our bodies may fail us miserably, but our souls don’t change. We may acquire knowledge, and probably forget a lot too; but the basic us; the indefinable something that makes us all individuals, remains unchanged – unspoiled. Thank you Larry Niven (even if your later books were all lazily-written with characters who spoke in the same voice, and whom you never bothered  to introduce before (or after) they spoke, so that your reader wondered who was saying what to whom, and in the end couldn’t give a shit – I’m thinking ‘Integral Trees’ here) you made me feel young again – which is what I’ve been all along, but just didn’t realise. Who needs a perfect cock anyway? Now which motorcycle shall I go buy myself? Gotta be a Yamaha, obviously.

 

Photographic Art: Making Something Out of Bugger All 1

Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to present….The Space Testicle!

And just to prove that I created this wondrous inter-planetary gonad out of bugger all…here is the original shot of post-meal gravy boat dregs…

I’ll take a picture of anything and everything, me.

Book of the Month?

I was surprised, when I checked out one of my books at Barnes & Noble, to discover that these books…

…bore a temporary label that read Book of the Month. Naturally I was pleased, and duly read the sample pages of the latter book. Here is a snippet from those pages…

When next I awoke I knew for certain that the world around me was real and tangible. There was a smell of straw and ancient timbers permeating the air. Once again I lay upon my back, but now the azure sky had been replaced by the sight of the cobweb-strewn rafters of an old wooden barn.

Sitting upright I discovered that I was alone – save only for the company of a wood mouse that searched amongst the detritus upon the floor close to the large double doors. It skittered away as I gained my feet. As it did so I discovered that I wore the combat fatigues from the vision of the past presented to me by Tasman. The strange, unrecognisable hand gun hung from an iron hook that had been driven into one of the oak uprights.

I felt a pain in my head. My hand discovered that someone had inexpertly wrapped my head in a bandage. I was relieved when it came away unbloodied, and the pain subsided.

Feeling better I decided to take stock of the situation in which I found myself. Firstly I knew that my name was Felicity Goldsmith.

‘A good place to start.’

I appeared to be some form of soldier. Or was I a paint-baller? The thought appalled me. No, I was certain that I’d never been a paint-baller.

‘What else?’

I knew a boy who has eyes like a goat. It was odd that I didn’t think of his eyes as particularly unusual.

‘Again what else?’

I came up empty. Try as I may, I could find nothing more leaking out from my closed-off memory. I knew that I should have felt fear – or at least an appropriate portion of apprehension – with the situation. It was quite possible that I was brain damaged, or I’d simply lost my mind. But Tasman’s calm demeanour, and his gentle delivery had staved off the panic for another time.

‘Or preferably never.’

With nothing better to do I climbed to my feet. I felt stiff, and wondered if that was what octogenarians felt like all the time. I then placed the weapons belt around my waist; and made for the large rickety double doors.

Upon emerging from the ancient barn, I wasn’t surprised to find myself standing in an old flint and brick walled farm yard. Beside the barn there stood several lichen-coated brick buildings originating in several eras. They all showed the evidence of a great passing of time, and it occurred to me that the farm might not be a working farm, but was instead a farm museum. The area was littered by the detritus of years. Old farm equipment lay about that looked not only decades out of date, but possibly centuries. Masonry crumbled here and there, and the roof of one particularly old outbuilding had been stoved in. Patches of briar were encroaching, and weeds abounded everywhere except the areas that were either paved with concrete, or cobbled. I could see young animals corralled at several points within the farmstead. From my position I could make out small numbers of sheep, cattle, pigs, and goats. Through a gap in some mature trees I discerned a pond upon which ducks sailed less than majestically. From a rickety edifice beside the charming flint farmhouse emerged the sounds of chickens clucking contentedly.

I was still studying the inexpertly erected chicken coop when a boy of roughly ten years emerged from the farmhouse. He held an empty wicker basket in each hand. Without noticing me standing there in my incongruous ‘uniform’ he let himself into the coop through a shaky wire door.

“Hello…” I called in what I hoped was a friendly inquiring tone.

The boy looked up. His recognition of me was instantaneous, and he smiled broadly, before dropping his baskets; letting himself back out of the coop; and dashing back inside the farmhouse.

“Tasman,” I heard him calling as his booted feet thundered up the stair to the upper floor, “Felicity’s up and about!”

I smiled as those same two feet then raced back down the stair; carried their owner across the yard at break neck speed; and then stopped dead in front of me. I then received a hug that almost crushed the wind out of me.

“Oh Fel,” he breathed, “I never thought you’d ever open your eyes again.”

I had no idea who the urchin was, or why he was so glad to see me, but it was nice to be wanted.

“Thank you.” I replied. “It’s nice to be back: Where have I been?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

These books are also available at Amazon, Lulu, Apple iBooks, and various others. And very nice they are too – if rather violent at times. Well they do feature genocide, so a little violence is to be expected.

 

 

Sources of Everyday Earplug Inspiration 2: Lavatory Fresheners

I may have mentioned, once or twice, that my camera and I seem to hang around toilets rather a lot. A strange place to find inspiration, I’m sure  you’ll agree. And you’d be right. But that doesn’t change anything. On this particular occasion I’d like to draw your attention to a little toiletry object that, perhaps, most loo-users might over-look – quite literally, if you stand up to pee. I refer, of course, to this…

You know, the simple device that does this…

They come in or sorts of shapes and…er…well…shapes…

But, boy, are they useful! Look at these natty habitat modules for use in distant places and inclement conditions…

Or maybe military outposts…

Or scientific facilities…

On all sorts of worlds…

And there’s the out-spill too, of course. The sweet-smelling stuff that the dispenser…um…dispenses. The coloured chemicals that adhere to the bowl on the way down to the water. Play with a shot of that for long enough and one can create a lava explosion…

Or, thinking bigger, a solar flare…

“Yeah, great, Tooty.” I hear you complain. “You’re an artistic genius, okay? I get that. But what the heck does any of this have to do with Earplug inspiration? I don’t see any of these bog cleaners in the Earplug Adventures!”

And you’d be right. But not for much longer. Look…

And look again…

And again…

Believe me, when I say: “Toilet fresheners are the future!”

The Causality Casualty

A few years ago – maybe four or five – I began writing the third in my ‘serious’ Causality Merchant series of sci-fi mysteries. Half way through the third draft I tossed it aside and (instead) took on the mantle of the “world’s premier earplug author”*. I keep promising myself to pick it up again and give it a second chance; but, somehow, it just never seems to happen. So, to this end, I’ve decided to give myself a metaphorical kick up the arse and try to produce some inspiration to continue. And what better way than to test out a snippet from the first book…

If the response from readers is good enough, I just might give it another try. Here it is – selected purely at random. Hope you enjoy it…

It was an hour later when Janice passed by the Study window, en route to the sideboard. Her timing was such that she witnessed Wozniak ease the slightly battered sports car into the driveway. He then drove it from sight around the end of the house. She found the packet of Band-Aids she was looking for in a drawer, and quickly made her way into the hallway, where she opened the front door – leaving it slightly ajar.

A half-minute later Wozniak slipped into the house. As carefully as his big frame would allow, he crept to the kitchen door, which Janice had also deliberately left ajar for him, and paused to listen.

Katherine Marcus was sitting at the table as Janice gently applied a Band-Aid to a small wound upon her forehead.

“There, that should keep the bugs at bay.” Janice said in a satisfied tone.

Katherine was clearly still suffering from a degree of shock – as well as a splitting headache; but she still managed a smile of thanks to Janice.

Janice may not have believed that this Katherine Marcus seated before her was in anyway different to the Katherine Marcus who verbally abused her on an almost daily basis; but if the woman was going to play the role of innocent victim, Janice was all for going along with it – just to see how far the other woman was prepared to go. Why Marcus was doing this to Peter remained a mystery to her: But if her friend and employer needed his help – and clearly he did – she was prepared to go to pretty much any length to be there for him. To this end she regarded Katherine with a friendly demeanour as she placed the kettle upon the stove.

“I expect you’d like a nice hot cup of tea after that nasty bang.”

“Sorry…?” Katherine tried to find a name.

“Janice Gale.” Janice replied with a smile upon her face. “I’m the housekeeper here: The ‘woman who does’. Do you take sugar in your tea?”

Katherine appeared confused.

“Tea?” She inquired through a puzzled expression.

It’s a good act’, Janice thought, as she smiled sweetly in response. Out loud she said, “Perhaps you’d prefer coffee? It’s only instant I’m afraid: the coffee machine sprang a leak weeks ago, and I haven’t got round to mending it yet.”

Katherine appeared grateful at the suggestion:

“Coffee would be wonderful. Perhaps you have something for pain too? I have a headache the size of Wycksford.”

Janice’s eyes narrowed at the mention of the imaginary village. She knew for certain that the illusionary village of Wycksford did not exist; and Marcus must surely know that she knew.

What is this woman up to?’ She asked herself. Then a sudden thought struck that caused Janice to feel very uncomfortable in her presence. ‘Heavens: Maybe she’s schizoid: She could be as mad as a March hare!’

“Certainly,” she said in the most matronly manner she could muster, “but I don’t think I have any aspirins: would paracetamols do? You’re not allergic, or anything?”

Katherine shook her head. “I don’t know what paracetamols are. I might be allergic to them. I don’t know. I suffer quite a few allergies you know. Are you sure you don’t have aspirins? I think my head’s about to explode.”

“Well I could look in the bathroom.” Janice replied – uncertain if she should leave the strange woman alone in the kitchen. “There might be an old packet lying about in the cabinet. Just wait here a moment; I’ll take a look.”

Janice quickly exited the kitchen – where she found Wozniak skulking in the shadows of the hall.

“Did you see that?” He whispered as he made sure that the kitchen door was closed securely behind Janice. “She’s never heard of something as dull and ordinary as paracetamol: surely that must mean something.”

Janice brushed past him toward the stairs.

“She’s never heard of tea either, apparently. What does it mean? It means that she’s probably suffering from concussion. Now I’m going to see if I can find some aspirins. Then I really think we should take her to a doctor.”

Wozniak pounced upon this.

“Then you think she’s behaving oddly too?”

Janice started up the stairs.

“I always think she’s behaving oddly: she’s an odd woman. But she could also be play-acting, or suffering from some form of schizophrenia. But whichever it is – that head wound is real enough.”

Wozniak pursued Janice up the stairs, speaking louder with every step:

“I saw you jump when she mentioned Wycksford: doesn’t that suggest something?”

“What?” Janice stopped upon the stair for a moment. She was becoming frustrated with a situation – the like of which she had never experienced before. She felt ill equipped to handle it sensibly anymore. This was definitely ‘Wozniak Territory’.

“What does it suggest?” She snapped. “Nothing: that’s what. Of course she mentioned Wycksford.” She said desperately. “She invented the damned place!”

With that she continued upon her way up the stair, and entered the bathroom. There she began going through the contents of the vanity unit.

“No, Janice; you’re wrong:” Wozniak appeared at the head of the stairs. He shook his head. “She mentioned Wycksford because to her it’s a real place. Somewhere she knows well. Home perhaps. The way she described her headache suggests that it’s quite a big place too.”

Janice emerged from the vanity unit clutching a foil wrapper containing just two tablets.

“Look I don’t care right now.” She said. “I’m going to take that woman these last two aspirins in the house; and then perhaps we’ll take a little air in the garden. I take it you’ve hidden the car sufficiently well?”

“In the garage.” Wozniak replied whilst letting Janice past. “I’ll watch from the window.”

“Whatever.” Janice spoke curtly over her shoulder as she descended the stair.

I’m pushing too hard’, Wozniak thought to himself as he heard the kitchen door open, and Janice’s gentle voice offering Katherine the aspirins; ‘Just let the facts speak for themselves’.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

This book, and it’s sequel, are available at Lulu, iBooks, Amazon and Barnes & Noble (see sidebar or relevant page beneath the header) and most other e-book stockists. The paperback is available at Lulu.com.

* Quote from a work colleague who is a supportive follower of my earplug escapades and who has often supplied me with the raw materials required to shoot the pictures. i.e earplugs.

The Photographer’s Eye 1: Seeing What Isn’t There: Negativity

I’m no photographer. Heck, I only use point and shoot cameras. But I use an awful lot of ’em and I do have a photographer’s eye. I know this latter observation to be true because I see potentialities in a scene that, perhaps, others don’t. I use this…um…skill…to bring to life scenes of other worlds in my Earplug Adventures. I also use it purely for it’s artistic merit. One of these…er…skills…is to see, in advance, how a scene might work in reverse. Or, to put it another way, I ask myself what would the negative of this photo look like? And, more importantly, how can I use that effect? Well yesterday I found myself with a couple of free minutes at work and duly dug out a compact from the bottom of my work bag. Hours later, after fiddling with the consequent plethora of snaps on my computer, three of the results looked exactly like this…

A happy Space Slug, crawling along a galactic string in orbit above night time Earth.

Scary alien space craft emerging from a nebula.

Banking to port aboard an aircraft as it approaches a coastal city at night.

Hopefully you will have no idea what the original (positive) shots looked like. I like to surprise whenever possible. Can you recognise any of them? If not, read on…

We’ll start with the last picture. A colleague watched as I tossed some sawdust upon the floor – then hit it with a blast of compressed air…

“You’re gonna take a picture of that aren’t you?” He said. “What’s it gonna be this time?”

Well now he knows. But I demanded more from it and it also doubled up when I used a squashed version of it to combine with this peeling render in a disused lavatory block…

…to create the Space Slug…

And as regards the alien space ship…

Well that was easy. From the same disused lavatory block – for which I appear to have an affinity (I’ve certainly taken a disproportionate number of pictures in several of them in the past few years) – may I present….a disgusting urinal!

There you have it – inspiration comes in many forms. You just have to see past the obvious. And yes, that urinal did pong. I suffer horribly for my art.  

Sample the Silence Once More

Every so often I try to introduce readers of this blog to my more serious fiction. It’s not exactly plentiful. Four books in total – and I haven’t written a new one in years. But oldies can be goldies – right? Right! And just to prove it, here is a sample from this book/e-book…

Although it was now over a year since disaster had struck across the entire globe, and reduced humanity to scattered remnants, we were still careful to walk at the side of the road, and be prepared to leap to safety on the verge or through a hedge. Few cars remained running – their owners eking out what remained of their precious fuel – but we weren’t surprised to hear the approach of an aging diesel engine.

Stepping onto the grassy verge we checked each other’s haversacks for signs of protruding semi-automatics. Of course, had there been a need for rapid deployment of self-defence weapons, we both carried Colonel Cosgrove-supplied Berreta 84Fs strapped to our ankles.   

Unsurprisingly a well-worn four-wheel-drive vehicle rounded the nearest corner. It was towing a small trailer upon which several straw bales were lashed expertly. I couldn’t help but notice that the vehicle was a Land Rover, and appeared to my eyes to be identical to the one in which Candice had sacrificed her life so that the rest of us could escape the clutches of Nigel Hawley and his private army. It even had the same fawn canvas cover on the rear bed. Even now I could still see that cover bursting off as the two hand grenades exploded inside the vehicle.

I must have made some sound at the recollection, because Tasman’s head snapped around to look at me.

“What is it?” He said nervously as his hand began to reach downwards towards his hidden Beretta.

I shook my head. “Nothing.” I said, “Don’t worry about me. Just concentrate on the driver; see if you can deduce his intentions.”

It was necessary for Tasman to relax in order to best use his telepathic powers. He shook his joints loose; closed his eyes; and breathed out slowly through his nose.

“I don’t get a name.” He said as the Land Rover laboured up the rise to where we stood, “But he comes across as non-belligerent. Ah, he’s a farmer’s son. Hmm – he seems to be having trouble keeping the farm going. Lack of staff, maybe. He could be eyeing us up as potential work-mates.”

“No thanks; done that; bought several T-shirts.” I replied. “Is he alone?”

Tasman nodded. Moments later the vehicle covered the final few metres.

“Here he comes.” I said out of the side of my mouth. “Big cheesy smiles.”

As the Land Rover pulled alongside us, we could barely hear the driver’s cheerful hail above the din of its clattering diesel engine.

“Hello, you two.” He shouted from the side window of the two-seat cabin, “You’re from yon farm along the way, aint ya?”

I raised an eyebrow at this; I was somewhat surprised that the young man of (I estimated) eighteen or nineteen was aware of us. We’d chosen a well-hidden spot in a shallow valley that was all but invisible from the road.

He must have read my mind because he tapped the side of his nose, winked, and said, “Spent all me life ‘round these parts: pays to know who the competition are – ‘specially during times of plague and pestilence.”

“Yes, I imagine so.” I said as I extended a hand towards him. “Felicity Goldsmith.”

“Graham Perkins.” He replied – cutting the engine, and taking my fingers in his huge, calloused hands. “It’s nice to meet someone’s what’s civilised for a change.”

I was surprised at the coarseness of his hands. They felt like those of a man three times his age that had spent a lifetime tilling the land.

‘A farmer’s son. I think I can trust this man.’

Tasman then introduced himself as Brian Wilkins. I was glad that Tasman had slipped in a pair of his contact lenses; explaining his oblong pupils would have been problematical.

“I hope you don’t mind,” Graham spoke to both of us, “but I’ve been keeping a bit of an eye on your farm. I figured everybody’d be here when I found Soverton empty a few months back.”

I nodded; it was from the village of Soverton that we’d recruited the members of our co-operative.

“If you don’t mind me saying,” Graham was continuing, “you could use a bit of expertise down there.”

Although I bristled inside, I said nothing to the older boy. I merely looked at him with what I hoped was an inquiring expression.

“Them winter crops in the lower field.” He went on, “You need to sow ‘em further up the slope.”

Tasman threw me a glance. I could read nothing into it, and so wished that he could have used his telepathy upon me.

“Would you be interested in joining our co-operative?” He asked the young farmer.

Graham pretended to pause for thought. “Well I wasn’t exactly planning on something quite so bold.” He replied eventually.

Tasman continued as though the other boy hadn’t spoken, “It’s just that Felicity and I have business elsewhere, and it’s…you know…”

It let his words trail off into nothingness.

Graham grinned. “And you’d like someone what knows what he’s doing to take over?” He said hopefully.

“Pretty much.” Tasman replied.

I was surprised at the sudden turn of events.

‘Hey, this isn’t part of the master plan!’

I was concerned that we were in the process of giving away the fruits of many week’s labour to a complete stranger.

‘But wait a moment, Fel: Tasman might be too polite to read your mind, but you can bet your last…whatever…that he’s read Graham’s. Now would be the perfect time for two-way silent communication between us.’

I tried ‘sending’ Tasman a thought, but I expected him to be too busy concentrating his attention upon Graham to even begin to ‘hear’ me.

“Is this boy the real deal?”

Tasman’s eyes flicked in my direction: I detected the minutest of nods.

Graham appeared to be prevaricating, though I was certain it was just an act.

“It’s not every day that a lad your age gets offered the manager’s job on a working farm, complete with live-in staff.” I pointed out to him.

Graham’s head tipped to one side slightly in agreement. He then added, “No, and it isn’t every day that world ends either.”

I wasn’t absolutely certain what he meant by that remark. Perhaps he had more work on his hands than he could deal with. Maybe running our farm as well as his own would be too much for him.

“Could you give me a tour?” He inquired.

Had he asked the question twenty-four hours earlier, Tasman would undoubtedly have agreed to his request: But today wasn’t yesterday. Although no one at the farm knew it yet, Tasman and I were Absent Without Leave. Or in Lee’s parlance, we’d ‘done a runner’. We couldn’t go back; it would require that we explain the reason for our departure, and then face all the arguments that would no doubt be intended to keep us there.

“Tell you what.” Tasman said, “You know where the turning to the farm is: If I write a quick note of introduction, you can find your own way there. Ask for Carl, and show it to him. He’ll gladly show you around. He knows the farm isn’t nearly as efficient as it should be, and could use some pointers. And if truth be known – we’re a little over-manned: Perhaps you could take a few kids back to your place?”

‘Brilliant!’

This must have been exactly what Graham had wanted to hear. “I accept your kind offer.” He said whilst shaking Tasman’s hand.

He then produced a dog-eared note pad and an almost blunt pencil from a cubbyhole in the dashboard of his Land Rover.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Needless to say, this charming (and at times violent) e-book is available all over the place – see beneath the header, or on the sidebar, for some of the better-known outlets – and as a paperback at Lulu.com.