Ridiculous Rodentia 3

Okay, here goes with another flagon of hamster fiction…

The moment that the gangling young hamster, Lionel Flugelhorn, first suspected that something was amiss was when the crockery fell from the draining board, and shattered into a thousand pieces upon the kitchen floor. This was accompanied by an insistent whine that seemed to boggle his eyes, and turn his insides into outsides. Then the time-storm’s wave front hit, and Lionel didn’t care what his eyes and insides were doing; he just hoped that the invisible force that was pinning him to the ceiling would soon stop jangling his private parts like a two-stroke outboard motor with a jammed wide open throttle.

In the latrine Boney had much the same sentiments, except that he also fervently wished that the contents of the lavatory bowl would quickly allow gravity to do its work, and get back to where they belonged – leaving him alone to his agony.

And in the Artefact Store – at the very epicentre of the time-storm – Fanangy and Colin were doing excellent impressions of untrained amoebas, as they utterly failed in the task of avoiding being squashed into incoherent blobs of biological, and mechanical, jelly. Or at least that’s how it felt to them.

“Yeech,” Fanangy managed to force past lips that vibrated with a resonance frequency slightly higher than suspension bridge support cables in a hurricane, “you never mentioned that it would be this bad, Colin!”

Colin was having difficulty accessing his speech centre information transfer nodes. “Gugh,” he replied.

Fanangy agreed utterly: “Gugh” seemed to perfectly sum up their situation. Then she noticed a Sentinel Robot trundle into the room – swaying from side to side violently, with peripheral parts, like ears and radar dishes, being scattered to the four quarters. It was making scant headway against the impossible energy force that was emanating from the Time-Storm Machine, but somehow, centimetre by centimetre, it waded through the invisible molasses that was the Time Storm.

She wasn’t sure, because her eyes refused to focus properly, but she thought she could just make out the Piss Bowl cradled gently in the iron grip of the simple, if very scary-looking, automaton.

“What are you doing here?” She demanded in a tone, that although horribly distorted by the forces of temporal relocation, sounded both concerned and halfway hysterical at the same time. Her next line explained the reason for this, “Colin never mentioned that the Piss Bowl came with us!”

Either it couldn’t hear, because its ears had been torn off, and thrown into the wind-ravaged corridor outside, or it didn’t care: But the Sentinel Robot continued its advance upon the Time-Storm Machine with a remorselessness that beggared belief. The watching hamster simply couldn’t believe that drive wheels could grip that hard, and she promised herself that if she survived this particular adventure, she would seek out the manufacturer of those tyres, and have some fitted to her go-kart – irrespective of the purchase price, or the ghastliness of the tyre-fitter’s half-exposed bum crack.

“I wasn’t shouting at you:” She aimed this at the Sentinel Robot, “It’s the Piss Bowl that I’m bellowing at like an idiot.”

Fanangy then screwed up her eyes in an effort to resolve the almost-frozen tableau before her. She wasn’t sure, but the Piss Bowl appeared to be attempting to eject a sheet of paper from its lower slot. It was difficult to tell, but there might have been some words printed upon it.

Fanangy couldn’t have known it at the time, but although “Gugh.” was the best verbal articulation available to Colin during these moments of high anxiety, his ocular zoom lens remained in perfect order. All that was required of him to read the Piss Bowl’s printed message was that he point his eyes in the correct direction. And, despite his metallic cranium coming under all sorts of electromagnetic and gravitational stresses, this was exactly what he managed to do.

“Gugh!” he managed to shout above the din of displaced air and ruptured space/time, and rattling waste bins. “Gugh! Gugh! Gugh!” With ever-more desperate eye movements and ocular semaphore.

Fanangy was no empath, but even she could tell that something was alarmingly wrong with her co-worker.

“What is it?” She screamed at Colin as the ceiling plaster began to dissolve, and then be carried away by violent eddies.

She answered herself on Colin’s behalf. “Gugh: Yes I know.”

Then the sheet of paper was torn loose from the Piss Bowl’s timid grasp, and, as strange luck would have it, it was swept upwards until it came to rest in Fanangy’s left ear.

Against the almost unimaginable forces that were acting upon her finely boned skeleton, Fanangy heroically yanked the sheet of paper from her ear, and quickly scanned it with her boggling eyes – before it was once more dragged from her rapidly tiring fingers, and torn to shreds by the wildly oscillating ceiling fan.

“You what?” She screamed eloquently at the Piss Bowl, “You can’t let me go? Go where? What do you mean – you can’t…”

But she said no more: The Sentinel Robot had brought down its massive steel fist upon the fragile form of the Time Storm Machine.

In the blink of an eye everything simply stopped. It was like a moment frozen in time, or a huge sachet of freeze-dried peas jammed into the blades of a public lavatory hand drier. The passage of time simply ceased. Then the machine slouched into a pile of parts, and time re-commenced. Or rather it didn’t: It started afresh – as though all the most recent events had never happened. Not that anyone knew it though.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2012

Yes, this e-book remains available at most e-book retailers. To check out Amazon, B&N, Lulu, and iBooks see either the side bar or beneath the page header.

 

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Distant Land (part 33)

Meanwhile the nominal ruler of the museum, Princess Cake of Potwell, had fretted her way to the lower skateboard park…

As she did so, above her current location, upon the surface…

…Frutilda was amused by Whoops’ self-destructive behaviour and mocked his frozen assets.

“Come on Whoops.” She finished. “Pull yourself together. Let’s find a way to put this situation at least half-way right. You and I together. This is no time for feeling guilty: let’s do the right thing.”

Below, Princess Cake’s thoughts followed a similar furrow…

“Those useless stupid butt-wipes.” She grumbled as she stepped into the glow of the emergency lighting. “I’m going to pull royal rank and make a few suggestions to that quartet of risk-taking, scum-bag scientists.”

She found a shivering Dido Warblington standing at the entrance, which now closely resembled an ice cave…

“What is the temperature outside, Warblington, you deviant slob?” She inquired.

Like Whoops, Dido was feeling great guilt concerning the civilization-ending balls-up that he and the others had perpetrated. “Dunno.” He replied morosely. “Why don’t you go check for yourself?”

Princess Cake, had there been any guards present, would have had Dido arrested for impertinence; but since they were alone, she decided to act upon the scientist’s suggestion…

“Flaming heck!” She exclaimed regally. “It aint half bloody chilly out here!”

A fall of ice crystals from one of the museum’s many towers then made up her mind for her, and she re-entered the skate board park…

“Right then, Warblington.” She growled majestically. “You’re gonna get those other three scum-suckers together and figure out how to save the survivors – on a permanent basis. Me, I’m gonna start acting like a proper queen. I’m gonna go for a walk and try to come up with some ideas of my own. So get your arse into gear!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Distant Land (part 32)

For a short period, after their return to the Museum, Whoops, Dido, Dennis, and Frutilda tried to live normal lives in a changed world…

But deep down inside each of them suffered…

…as they tried to ignore the curator’s attempts to save the survivors of the disaster that they had caused. Although they were aware that search teams traveled far and wide to aid desperate earplugs…

…they chose, as best they could, to enjoy life within the huge edifice…

And while they looked out upon a world that had slipped into nuclear winter, the curators dispatched rescue craft…

…into the mountains…

…where members of isolated communities were invited to return to the safety of the museum…

“Nice vessel.” Some would say. “Where are the passenger seats?”

To which the welcoming crewplugs would reply: “Sorry: standing room only. We need to pack you in like small silver marine creatures in tomato sauce.”

On one occasion, Frutilda and Whoops fell into a sullen conversation…

“You never know.” Frutilda said optimistically, “the Gravity Whelk...

…might yet return with the answer to our world’s ills.”

But Whoops was far less hopeful: “I think I want to go outside and suffer a little for my hubris and egotistical stupidity. You’ve been a bit of a turd too, Frutilda: care to join me?”

Naturally Frutilda, concerned for Whoops’ state of mind, duly slipped through a side window with her boss…

But even she was surprised by what Whoops did next, which was to jump into a deep drift and sink up to his bum in freezing snow…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

Distant Land (part 31)

And he was very nearly right, because the parched land soon gave way to scorched desert. But fortunately, for the gallant foursome, their route took them to an outlying public lavatory that, by a freak of geography, had been protected by the blast of the energy spill from the alternative universe…

“Hoorah.” Dido cried out in relief and joy. “I’m an expert on public lavatories. This model has a reserve water tank in the roof space: we can have a wee, wash our hands, and have a drink – almost simultaneously!”

“Excellent.” Whoops replied. “The mere presence of this ingenious working class bog proves that we’re on the right track. The Museum of Future Technology believed in spreading futuristic toilets far beyond its borders, you know – as part of a public service. This can only be one of those; I can feel it in my bowels.”

“Great.” Frutilda grunted. “But will the toilets flush?”

“Who cares?” Dennis answered. “I’m desperate: let’s go!”

So, two minutes later…

“That was disgusting.” Dennis complained. “The heat evaporated all the water. I had to wash my hands in sludge!”

But Frutilda was made of sterner stuff. “Come on boys.” She said as she departed the lavatory. “Get over it. The museum’s this way, by the way: I can almost smell its vaulted towers above the stench of that vile toilet.”

And she was right too…

…because soon an artificial walkway replaced the desert. Relief quickly joined to joy when they realized that the museum pathway illumination system was still active…

“Oh goody.” Frutilda said, as the pedestrian guidance system glowed invitingly. “The museum has power. Hopefully the security system will recognize our passes.”

Dennis wasn’t quite so optimistic…

 

“What if someone bolted the door before going to bed last night?” He argued. “We’ll never get inside!”

But his pessimism was unwarranted: the designers of the building from the future had…er…designed it well, and built it even better. Soon Dennis stood at a peephole…

 

…and snatched his final glimpse of the barren, burning land that lay beyond the museum’s limits…

and felt unadulterated gratitude to his mother, who had insisted he give up his job at the sewage works, and go to university.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Distant Land (part 30)

But those ungrateful, mealy-mouthed gits were mistaken. Because, out on the plain, Whoops’ portable force field finally dropped – exposing the scientists to the glaring light of the sun for the first time in three days. And they were gasping for a drink and the use of a toilet too…

Checking their location, they quickly set out in, what they hoped was, the direction of the museum…

As they proceeded, their eyes adjusted to the brilliant light. Step by laboured step, the world seemed to grow darker…

“Right.” Whoops said through cracked lips. “Let’s try to figure what happened, shall we?”

“The world ended?” Dennis suggested.

“Don’t be facetious.” Whoops snapped. “I know the world ended. Or at least this part of it. We need to understand why.”

“I would have thought that was obvious.” Frutilda spoke through a stiff breeze that chilled them all uncomfortably. “A huge burst of heat and energy erupted from the alternate dimension through the wormhole and seared our planet’s surface. Putting two and two together, I’d say that when we checked out the alternate reality, our probes missed something really important.”

“Based on what little evidence is available, what would you estimate that to be?” Whoops inquired.

Well Frutilda began to explain that she believed that the huge electrical energy content in the other world’s atmosphere had been created by an interaction between clouds formed from excessive evaporation caused by the heat of the planet’s primary star ending it’s life by expanding in size and boiling the planets that orbited it, when suddenly…

…Whoops sank through the crust. “Argh!” He cried. But no one…

…felt particularly inclined to risk falling through themselves.

“Sorry, Whoops.” Dido said. “You’ll have to stop being a big Nancy, and pull yourself out.”

Actually Whoops was in no hurry to extract himself from the hole, because it still held the residual warmth of the cataclysm. It also allowed him to go to wee without anyone noticing.

“Now all I need,” he sub-vocalized to himself, “is a nice cup of tea, and everything will be tickety-boo.” Then he pulled himself free, and duly set out upon firmer ground…

…which was quite nerve wracking because it vaguely resembled a low altitude form of Precipitous Ledge Walking, which had always been popular with the inhabitants of the museum who were zombies or those who enjoyed a lower intellect…

…but to scientists, and the smarter earplugs of the museum at least, was a complete anathema.

“Yuk.” Frutilda spat…

…”this is ghastly.”

But it soon became considerably more ghastly…

…as a fog bank rolled in.

“Stick out your tongue and lick the air.” Dido suggested. “This might be the last moisture that we ever encounter.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Distant Land (part 29)

Within moments a fire storm swept across the planet’s surface…

Then, to the horror of those watching inside the Museum of Future Technology…

…the ground was torn asunder by planet-wide volcanic action…

Lava bombs were hurled in every direction. They seemed to target solitary buildings with volcanic glee…

…whilst the fire storm engulfed others…

Then a great wind circled the globe like an avenging…er…avenging thing that disliked earplugs with a passion…

…cooling the surface as it did so. This continued for yonks, until almost everything had been either destroyed, severely damaged, or wiped from existence. All except a few lucky conurbations or suchlike, like the Museum of Future Technology, which enjoyed the protection of a vast deflector shield that had kept it safe from harm…

“Cor,” people inside would say, as they crowded to watch catastrophe unfold upon huge TV screens…

…”nasty. Aren’t we lucky to be inside? I’d hate to think what happened to those scientists, who, probably, caused this disaster with their stupid technology. Hopefully they were fried.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

 

Distant Land (part 28)

Shortly, though, they arrived at the second massive device…

“Aesthetically, I think this one has the edge over the first.” Dido opined without invitation…

“They’re supposed to be identical.” Frutilda informed her associate.

“They have to be identical.” Whoops, suddenly concerned, yelped. “If they’re not identical, they won’t work the same way. It could prove disastrous.”

Dennis, his earlier worries dissipated by recent familiarity with the Quantum Bridge, said: “Cool it, man: it’s the surroundings that are different. No need to go pooping in your pants.”

Frutilda wasn’t convinced. “Maybe.” She said. “But shouldn’t we do a metallurgical and radio-active analysis before proceeding? After all, if there is variance, it could have untold effects upon the project.”

“True.” Dido agreed, whilst Dennis eyed the contraption with suspicion.

“The Wim-wom valve might get wonky too.” The latter suggested.

As Chief Scientist it fell to Whoops Brannigan to make the final decision…

So, whilst the others discussed the Quantum Bridge, he cast an appraising eye over his work. As he did so, Dennis had a question: “So this system only works if all three bridges are active, right?”

“Of course not.” Whoops replied. “We always build in triple redundancy to our devices. If one fails, the other two take up the resultant slack. In the unlikely event of two failing, we still get our power from the other quantum dimension. It’s common sense. Okay, the scan tells me everything is fine: I’m happy with this: I’ve activated its timer: let’s go.”

But as they set off for the third and final Quantum Bridge, Dennis threw a wobbly…

“Wait a minute, for flip’s sake.” He yelled loudly, which shocked the others because he was usually such a placid fellow. “I know the world is desperate for energy and all that: but aren’t we being a little complacent here? I mean, I know we’ve checked out the other quantum reality and found that its atmosphere is massively charged with electricity that’s just gagging to be harnessed; and its uninhabited so no one will get hurt if we steal all the power; but why is it charged? What’s the mechanism that makes all that energy? Tell me that!”

Fortunately for Dido’s and Frutilda’s ears, Whoops told Dennis to ‘shut his big fat gob’ or he’d be ‘fired’. So Dennis, aware that government scientists were usually second-rate and probably couldn’t get a job in the private sector, did as he was instructed. “Okay.” He said meekly.

But it wasn’t very much longer, after they’d gained the wasteland once more, that a brilliant blue light lit up the sky behind them…

 

This event surprised the scientists. But surprise turned to amazement when Whoops’ portable force field generator activated…

…and the ground shook so badly that not one member of the quartet could see properly. Then, as the apparent earthquake calmed…

…Whoops said: “What the heck is going on out there? What’s keeping the force field raised? Ooh, I can almost feel the heat coming through.”

Blinded behind the impregnable energy shield, the scientists were unaware that a fissure in the Quantum Veil had opened and the sky now blossomed red and angry…

And a split second later the atmosphere erupted in flame…

`© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019