Distant Land (Part 13)

It was while later. No one was quite sure how long because they had all been far too busy examining the alien artefact that Cedric had brought aboard to notice. Eventually though, the Brian Talbot’s captain heard the sound he most feared: the buzz of his Ready Room door bell…

“Shoot.” He yelped. Then, gathering his courage, he added: “Enter.”

To his surprise it wasn’t Bruce Burpsby who led in the delegation of scientists; but Folie and Placebo. He stood up from his comfy chair to greet them.

“We’ve discovered a message.” Folie informed him…

“Yes.” A smiling Placebo added. “It’s a video message. We’ve formatted the signal so that it’s compatible with our computer.”

“Golly, that’s quick thinking. What does it say?” Cedric squeaked. “I hope there wasn’t a computer virus embedded inside it. It could play havoc with the ship’s systems. Imagine Waste Management failing horribly: it doesn’t bear thinking about. Does it mention alien invasion, by any chance?”

The look in Cedric’s eyes told the youngsters all they needed to know: their captain was suffering from Space Paranoia. Placebo sought to placate Cedric. “No, not at all. It’s just a cheerful ‘hello’ to passing space travellers.”

Outside the Ready Room, the bridge crew stood and listened…

“That lad sure can lie with the best of ’em.” Hooper Hellstrom whispered to the doubtful-looking Hubert Boils. “They’ve not had nearly enough time to check out that video: there could poop slopping about in the bilges as we speak.”

Meanwhile, inside the Ready Room…

“Excellent.” Cedric responded after several second’s thought. “Let’s get to the bridge: I’d like to see it for myself…

So, as they headed for the Exit and Placebo spotted the cheerful faces of the waiting bridge crew…

…he wondered if it might not have been better if he’d told the truth, which was that he didn’t have the first idea what the message said.

“Who knows,” he said under his breath and sniffed the air tentatively, “this could be the precursor of our utter destruction.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

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A Silence Concerning the ‘Silent’ Books

I can’t remember when I last posted an extract of my best work – that being these books…

So today I’m correcting that omission. Ladies and Gentlemen may I present an excerpt from Silent Resistance – a book I’m rather proud of…

It was only as we approached the last door in line along the corridor that I realized that I’d made a mistake. In my reality this final door opened into an office: here it led to a stairway. I could see the stairs as I dared take a quick peek through a small wired glass window set into the door. In that nervous glance I’d also noticed something else: a shotgun booby trap much like the one upon the floor below. I informed the others about the situation.

“Great.” Shane said in her most sarcastic manner, “So how are we supposed to get at him now?

“We don’t.” Dainam answered her question. “We make him come to us.”

Leaving Shane and Killer to keep watch upon the door to the upper floor, Dainam and I returned to the lower level where he’d noticed various cupboards, filing cabinets, and drawers. After a couple of minutes searching through them Dainam came up trumps. He brandished a plastic box containing a set of screwdrivers.

‘Seek and ye shall find.’

Returning to the next floor we propped a table from one of the offices against the door to the stair so that it couldn’t move outward. Then using the screwdrivers Dainam and I set about the screws that held the door hinges in place.

The screws had been wound into the timber frame many decades past – probably by burly builders, and for several minutes neither of us could make much headway with the task; but we stuck at it – often cursing as we whacked our knuckles each time the screwdrivers slipped. But fifteen sweat-inducing minutes later we had unfastened all of them, and now only the office table held the door in situ. Shane then tied a length of electrical cable to one of the table legs, and holding the other end of the cable in her free hand she retreated to where Dainam, Killer, and I waited in the relative safety of the adjacent room.

As she backed into our temporary sanctuary she said, “Ready?”

I nodded, and she yanked firmly upon the cable. This in turn twisted the table away from the door, which allowed it to fall outwards into the corridor – pulling with it a length of string that was attached to the shotgun trigger as it did so.The double blast of both barrels in such a confined space almost deafened us, and sent us reeling further into the office to escape the cloud of dust and smoke that suddenly filled every available space. Fortunately the blast destroyed the exterior window – sending an avalanche of splintered glass out into the bus park, where it fell to the tarmac surface below. This had the effect of venting some of the smoke and dust, for which we were most grateful; but it was still very difficult to see in the murk and gloom of the grey autumn day. As we emerged into the blasted corridor we all heard the clatter of feet descending the stair. The next second I realized that we were not alone as a dark shape passed between me and the feeble light that the ruined window allowed in. Whether he saw me I don’t know, but I was taking no chances. I lashed out at his head with the butt of my MP7. It wasn’t a telling blow, but it made the booby-trapper stumble. Dainam released Killer, and in bound from a standing start she brought the person crashing down, and pinned him face-down among the debris. The dust continued to dissipate, and as Shane disarmed him, it was obvious that he was an adult. He was also unconscious – or at least pretending to be. A quick check of his eyes, and I kicked him in the stomach for good measure. He wasn’t acting.

“He’s out cold.” I said as Dainam pulled Killer away.

“If he’s not, I’ll set Killer on him again.” Dainam replied.

“Say that again – in Espeeg.” Shane suggested.

Dainam did so, but the Espeeg failed to respond.

“You’re right, Fel.” She said. “He’s out cold.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

These books are available in e-book and paperback. Click here to see the better-known outlets.

Distant Land (part 12)

As quick as a flash, the Brian Talbot glowed crimson beneath the Red Alert warning lights and energized defensive shields…

“Don’t panic, Captain.” Cedric Mantequilla heard Bruce Burpsby’s voice yell over the intercom. “It’s some sort of radio beacon. The flashing light is just a navigation aid. We believe that its completely harmless. It could be a call for help.”

Cedric, feeling decidedly foolish, cancelled the Red Alert; then called Grenville Hill to his side…

“Next time I over-react,” he whispered, “would you be so kind as to smack me in the mouth before I get us into serious trouble?” He then instructed the Helmsplug – Grenville’s brother, Speltham Hill – to manoeuvre the ship sufficiently so as to adopt a less confrontational posture…

“Okay, Bruce.” He finally addressed the Chief Astro-Navigator. “What’s the plan of action?”

The passage of a mere five minutes saw Folie, Grenville, Bruce, and the Astro-Navigators surrounding a dais in the Loading Bay…

“Let me get this right.” Placebo’s voice echoed around the Loading Bay as he joined them. “Instead of dragging that alien device in here with grappling hooks; you’re going to de-materialize it; then re-materialize it on this dais?”

He paused his inquiry when a strange glow began to…um…glow in the centre of the dais.

“Ooh.” He added. “Is this entirely safe? Um, how many times have you actually done this before?”

But no one felt any desire to answer him. This was because a sudden burst of brilliant blue light drew all of their attention…

And a moment later…

…everyone present were tossed to the floor by the violent displacement of air caused by the arrival of their mysterious target.

“Wow, would you look at that!” Placebo exclaimed as more personnel rushed forward to get a look-see. “It actually worked!”

“It sure did.” Grenville replied. “So let’s get to work: we need to find out what this gizmo does.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

Distant Land (part 11)

Left to their own devices, Folie and Placebo struggled to find the ‘On’ switch. In fact they failed miserably to find the ‘On’ switch for fully fifteen minutes. Folie quickly realised that he had to ‘bite the bullet’ and go ask Grenville for help. But just as he roused the red-eyed crewplug…

…Placebo’s knee caught on an unnoticed protrusion, bringing the Radio Anomalyser to life. More significantly it took a mere nanosecond for the remarkable machine to detect a radio anomaly.

“Deep-Space Distress Call, I think.” He announced. “Coming from somewhere off the port bow.”

Still groggy from his period of somnolence, Grenville staggered to his feet. “Ugh, right; let’s get down to Astro-Navigation.” He grunted, as the exit door rolled open…

But when they arrived at their destination, the threesome discovered it empty of life…

“Darn it.” Grenville cursed softly. “It’s tea-break. We’ll have to wait.”

Fortunately for all concerned, the wait was brief. Soon a bunch of orange Astro-navigators appeared from their tiny canteen with en suite lavatory…

“We need you to trace a mysterious radio distress beacon.” Grenville answered their friendly inquiry.

“How soon?” The Chief Astro-navigator, Bruce Burpsby asked. “It’s just that Cedric has us running options on several destinations right now – and we’re a little short in the personnel department.”

“Straight away.” Placebo answered. “I think Captain Mantequilla would really like to see this.”

“Yeah.” Folie said,  rather belligerently – or so thought Placebo. “He told us to look out for stuff like this.”

” It’s A1 priority.” Grenville lied.

“Somewhere off the port bow.” Placebo added helpfully.

“A1 you say.” Bruce said as he ruminated. “Let’s take a look out of the window.”

So they did…

“Hmmm.” Bruce…er…hummed. “Can’t say I’ve ever seen one of those before.”

But Bruce and Company weren’t the only spectators of the radio anomaly…

“Weird stuff off the port bow, Captain.” Bridge Officer Cams Layne reported.

At that same instant, but several decks below…

“It’s winking at us.” Bruce yelled with unnecessary loudness. “Something like this will have Cedric pooping in his pants – at least metaphorically!”

Also at the exact same moment…

“It’s an alien Death Machine!” Captain Mantequilla bellowed in sudden alarm. “It must be! Red alert. Raise defensive screens. Arm all weapons. Now!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Distant Land (part 10)

A while later the newest recruits were allowed to visit their quarters, where they decided to rest and recover from their frosty exertions. Turning away from the window…

…they retired to bed; and so missed the Brian Talbot’s meeting with a comet…

Unaware that comets possess only a micro-gravity field, the inexperienced crew attempted to land upon it…

But, of course, the thrust of the ship’s landing engines only pushed the comet aside. Naturally tempers were lost and some well-aimed proton torpedoes were fired at the comet…

Equally naturally, the insubstantial nature of the spacial anomaly allowed the incandescent balls of energy to pass straight through it unharmed, which really cheesed-off the Captain. So before long…

…everyone got fed up and duly departed.

The ship was well on its way when Folie and Placebo were roused from their slumbers and assigned a task in the Science Lab. Crewplug, Grenville Hill, introduced them to their equipment…

“This is a Radio Anomalyser.” He informed them. “It finds stray radio waves that are anomalous; then it highlights them. Your task – to use a metaphor – is to filter the grain from the chaff. Find something interesting – and Captain Mantequilla promises we’ll investigate it.”

“Sounds good.” Folie replied. “What are you going to do?”

“Me?” Grenville replied. “I’m gonna sit my butt down on that comfy chair over there and catch some shut-eye.”

No one felt compelled to argue, so, whilst Placebo and Folie got to grips with the unfamiliar equipment, he did just that…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 8)

Naturally, both being wonderfully advanced pieces of technological magic, the two Wet World vessels separated with such ease that it seemed as though they’d been liberally coated with a futuristic form of Teflon, which, of course, they had. Immediately the Chi-Z-Sox ignited its orbital drive unit…

Of course several crew members of the Brian Talbot raced to the Observation Dome…

…to watch the older ships’ departure to realms unknown. They were joined by an enthusiastic Folie and Placebo, who grabbed a spot by the forward window…

Other, more experienced, space-watchers settled into comfy seats. But when the Chi-Z-Sox increased power…

…and headed away at ever-increasing speed…

…Placebo’s excitement at the spectacle caused him to break wind forthrightly, which, in turn, caused a crew member to faint and fall from his seat. Not that either youngster noticed: they were too enthralled by…

…the sight of an unimaginably vast region of space that appeared to be almost empty of either light, matter, or (apparently) energy. So they missed the Chi-Z-Sox let rip with its star drive…

…as did the others in the dome, because of Placebo’s involuntary assault upon their olfactory senses…

…the pong of which even had a negative effect upon the new-found friends themselves…

…and gave them second thoughts about traversing the Galaxy, cooped up in a huge tin can…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Distant Land (part 7)

A split second later…

…Folie and Placebo had their atoms re-combined upon the bridge of the Brian Talbot.

“Hi.” The Captain – Cedric Mantequilla – said cheerfully as their sentience returned. “Welcome aboard. Pease don’t be alarmed…

…by all the clunking and clanking; but we’re currently docking with the Chi-Z-Sox, so that we can take on much-needed supplies…

Meanwhile, aboard the aforementioned star ship, Hideous and Perfidity had settled themselves into their comfy Ready Room seats…

“Nice lads, weren’t they, Hideous?” Perfidity said, once she’d ordered a powerful mug of coffee from the dispenser.

“Large one was apt to break wind in the Observation Dome.” Hideous replied. “Indiscriminately, apparently. Or so I’ve been told.”

Aboard the Brian Talbot, the latest guests asked if they could visit the Observation Dome.

“I can feel a really good fart coming on.” Placebo whispered over Folie’s shoulder.

“Excellent.” Folie whispered back. “I’m feeling distinctly methane-depleted.”

Fortunately Captain Mantequilla was too busy issuing important commands. So he heard nothing that passed between the youngsters. This was just as well, because the ships were about to disengage…

Naturally Cedric called a ship-wide Red Alert…

“Ah, this is more like it.” He said, as a hooter…er…hooted: and the bridge turned a deep crimson. “You can’t beat a good Red Alert. That’s what I say anyway.”

Equally naturally, the more experienced Captain Gout enjoyed a more relaxed atmosphere…

“Ah, I feel the ships un-docking.” He said, as the deck trembled. “I hope there’s time for a quick trip to the bog before its back into action, so-to-speak.”

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2019