Tag Archives: silly stories

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part twenty-five)

But that wasn’t the end of it. In the foyer, El Custardo had offered to perform an impromptu concert by himself and Los Natillas…

Unfortunately when a request was put through to William of Porridge for their instrument cases…

…he was delighted to report that all the guitar strings had frozen so quickly that they had ‘gone twang’. Worse still, he tittered to himself as he called back, the trumpet mouthpieces were of an inferior material and had duly shattered. He hated mariachi bands with a vengeance, ever since a group visited his school concert hall and interrupted his crab football game. So he could barely keep the joy from his voice when he summed up the situation with: “So there’ll be no bleeding racket keeping everyone awake tonight!”

Even more unfortunately – at least for Lillie – was the fact that Tangerine chose her to pass on the bad news to Frisby…

…who was so enraged that a large gaseous anomaly (that he’d been saving up in his intestine for an emergency) erupted like cannon fire and exploded spontaneously…

Fortunately Lillie’s lightning reactions saved her eyebrows from being singed, and all she suffered was some minor melting to the elastic in the back of her space knickers.

Even more fortunately, one of the museum visitors was a maintenance engineer in a really old-fashioned factory where everything was worn out and obsolete and the short-sighted management didn’t believe that investing in the future was at all logical. Consequently he was able to put his work-day skills to good use by repairing an ancient oil-fired furnace that had been left-over from an era when oil was plentiful on Mars, and nobody gave a monkies about the environment…

“There, ya go.” He shouted above the applause. “There’s a whacking great reserve of crude oil in a cavern beneath the museum too. It’s matured nicely and it’s very volatile; so it should keep the main hall warm. If we all stay here we might survive long enough for a rescue mission from Earth to arrive before it’s too late.”

In an adjoining room, Bo Smidgin found one of the museum engineers – Comely Wasselstoop – staring out of a viewport at the weather…

“I chose a bad time to visit Mars.” He said conversationally.

Comely didn’t bother turning around. “There isn’t a good time to visit Mars.” She replied in a flat voice that seemed to have admitted defeat. “The planet is haunted. Haunted by its past. The mistakes of those silly Muffins, eons ago, continue to punish the world, and will continue to for the foreseeable future – until someone can think up a fantastic way of putting things right. I don’t see that happening in my life time.”

The engineer’s reaction had surprised Bo. Leaving Comely to her acceptance of doom, he turned away from the window…

But as Comely moved off in the direction of the ‘Ladies’ loo she had no idea that her words had given Bo reason to pause and think…

“What am I doing here?” He asked himself. “How can the acquisition of wealth be an end in itself?  Surely my miserable life could be better spent than living off the misfortune of others. They thought I was a turd on Scroton: maybe I was. But now, for the first time, my eyes are open. This planet needs a miracle. Or another one, if I’m being pedantic. One that will actually work this time. I just have to figure out in what form that miracle will present itself. When it does, I plan to recognise it: and after I’ve recognised it, I’ll utilise it – for the benefit of the whole world – such as it is!”

And then he went out into the foul weather – just to make sure he really meant what he’d just said…

“Yes,” he concluded, after his knees began knocking together and his false teeth fell into his hands, “definitely. I just have to recognise the means to salvation. Then everything will be wonderful. I wonder what it’ll look like. And what colour will it be? I hope it’s yellow!”

Taking time dilation into account – at approximately the same moment that Bo Smidgin made his gummy statement – far across the Galaxy…

…the Gravity Whelk was rollicking along at a most ridiculous velocity. In fact Folie had been a little concerned at the pace, and wondered if they might be doing something adverse to the balance of space/time or some-such. He couldn’t help but worry that someone or something might take offense. He’d brought up the subject with the Automatic Pilot, but these speeds were so far beyond its programming and experience that it shook it’s non-existent shoulders and said: “Danged if I know.” But when Kyboshed had been presented with the same concerns, he said: “This ship has been upgraded on Scroton: do you really think we’d screw up something as important as that? No – keep that throttle open, Folie: let’s cover some ground.”

Then this happened…

“Oops,” said Placebo nervously, “this doesn’t feel quite right.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fourteen)

Things might have been hotting up – or cooling down, depending on your point of view – on Mars: but upon the ridiculously distant Scroton, where the Gravity Whelk lie quiescent in its cradle once more…

…Folie and Placebo were summoned to the presence of the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor again…

“Well its done.” Donny Woolbadger informed them. “The Gravity Whelk is all ship-shape and Scroton fashion – to paraphrase an old Earth expression that Nigel gleaned from Magnuss Earplug.”

“We don’t know what to say.” Folie replied. “I mean this is beyond wonderful: we’re just speechless.”

“I’ll be happy if you don’t break wind with joy.” Tojo Winterborn said in much-practised Earplug, but with a thick, almost impenetrable Scrotonic accent. “Now be on your way: you have a ship to inspect.”

Well the youngsters didn’t need a second bidding. But when they came aboard it was with feelings of trepidation. Might the ship be adorned with candy pink carpets and feather boas? It didn’t bear thinking about…

“Nope.” Placebo said as he stepped into the first corridor from the transfer conduit. “Ah…looking kind of good – if you like sparkly gold walls and Lincoln green flooring.”

He was then startled by the sudden arrival of the Chancellors, whom, he assumed, must have entered via the opposite conduit.

“Yeek!” He managed.

“We were going to let you explore alone.” Donny explained. “Then Tojo had a thought: what if you didn’t read the instruction pamphlet properly? It could end catastrophically. So we came aboard to show you around.”

So the first command given in the re-fitted Gravity Whelk was to the Automatic Pilot. Five minutes later they were in deep space.

“Regard the nice oval portholes.” Donny said as they proceeded along the corridor. “Made for optimum vision and super strength. This ship won’t fall apart when you enter a gravitic maelstrom or collide with asteroids.”

Donny was very keen to display the toilet with a revolving door…

“Pink light on: go poop.” Tojo said in simple Earplug.

“Nice touch.” Placebo managed. “But what if the bulb blows? I wouldn’t want to walk in on Folie half way through.”

“Got a lock on door.” Tojo replied.

Then the duo were taken to the room that no one had a name for, but in which the ship’s log was located. There they were introduced to the engineers, designers, and whizz-kids that had overseen the re-fit…

“This seat is jolly comfortable.” Folie observed.

“And this golden globe is very…uh…golden. Was it golden before? I can’t remember.” Placebo added. Then, in an inspired intellectual moment he spotted something behind him reflected in the information matrix globe: “Hey – is that Cafe Blurgh in that machine? We both love Cafe Blurgh: it was all we could find whilst sight-seeing in Scroton Prime.”

Snarlsdon Bumbledope was surprised at this. “Really?” He said. “I’m really surprised: Cafe Yuk and Cafe Cacks out-sell Blurgh ten-to-one. You must have visited all the best cafes.”

Folie shrugged his shoulders. “Well, you know: some people are born with good taste. What else have you got to show us?”

As they passed another porthole, Placebo noticed a painting hanging upon the outer hull wall covering…

“That looks sort of familiar.” He whispered to Folie. “It’s bloody awful too. Whomever the artist is – I hate him or her.”

Whether Donny heard Placebo is debatable, but – perhaps by sheer chance – he brought up the subject of the wall art: “We had it sent over from the Royal Palace.” He said. “There are several scattered throughout the ship. They’re all Anton Twerp originals. They might be worth a fortune somewhere – we don’t know. They were a gift from the Museum of Future Technology’s most reviled artist – none other than Anton Twerp himself.”

“Oh,” Folie nodded wisely, “that explains why it makes me want to vomit.”

Shortly after that the ship’s owners found themselves standing at a door that didn’t exist pre-refit…

“That’s nice.” Folie remarked. Then, in a puzzled tone, he added: “How come I can only see me reflected in the metallic surface of the door?”

“Special coating.” Donny explained. “It only shows one species at a time. It’s a special Scrotonic design for people who get so hopelessly inebriated that – when they wake up from their drunken stupor and wonder who and what they are – this door will reveal their true species to them. Not really a lot of point to it: but we thought it looked nice with the yellow door frame.”

“Where does it lead to?” Placebo inquired. “The door I mean.”

“Pertinent question, young polystyrene blob.” Donny replied cheerfully. “We’ll find out straight away.”

“This, if you haven’t recognised it already,” Donny said proudly, “is the heart of the Gravity Whelk. Welcome to Engineering.”

“Lots of winking lights.” Folie observed. “Do we need to know what they mean?”

“In manual.” Tojo showed off his new command of the earplug language.

“I see it comes with its own toilet.” Placebo noted.

“Could be very important in times of great danger.” Donny replied. “It’s no good trying to fix a damaged ship when your bladder is bursting: it ruins concentration. Mistakes are made. I’ve heard of entire ships exploding because the Chief Engineer needed a whizz, but couldn’t get back from the toilet in time to stop a matter/anti-matter interaction get out of control.”

“Pee-pee.” Tojo added. “Very important.”

“When you gotta go,” Placebo showed wisdom beyond his years, “you gotta go. Otherwise – blammo!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part twelve)

Of course, back on Mars, events were moving…perhaps not apace, but certainly moving forward…

William of Porridge sidled up to Lillie Whitewater and expressed his reservations regarding the only other cork in the Future Museum of Mars.

“He’s a fruit cake.” He finished.

But Lillie wasn’t really listening: she’d spotted someone on the crimson boulevard that set her knees to trembling and fillings a-rattling…

She went all gooey-eyed and called out Sir Dodger’s name, which really annoyed William because the retired thespian was old enough to be Lillie’s grandfather, and also because he thought the former bridge crew member of the K T Woo should have more self-control and a better sense of professionalism.

“Oh do shut up.” He snapped uncharacteristically

But Sir Dodger’s thoughts were mired in doubt and worry about the hiking sewage union reps. He didn’t have his hearing aid switched on either. So, consequently he walked straight on by without acknowledging Lillie in any way…

Naturally Lillie was crestfallen. She was also crushed. She wished the deck would open up beneath her and consume her entirely.

“What a git.” William said as he cast ethereal daggers in the movie star’s direction. “At least he could have said, ‘how do you do; might I say how delightful you look in that tatty old pressure suit’, but he didn’t. That’s actors for you!”

To which Lillie responded thus: “Do I really look delightful in my tatty old pressure suit, William?”

Meanwhile, out on the plain, Doubry Furkins and Jenson Prong noticed the first real signs of the approaching winter…

“Survey over for the day.” Jenson said in a manner that would brook no argument.

But Doubry, fearful for his job, did so anyway: “But the Company might be watching us from the TV relay station on Deimos.”

Jenson scoffed. “It costs a fortune to rent electronic space on Mars’ moons: they are not going to be checking in on us. Now let’s get inside.”

Sir Dodger’s concerns over the sewage workers union reps was well founded…

“Oi, Marty,” Tandoe Crimplehorn called from the rear of the party, “your oxy-suppository fits my botty to perfection: but judging by the way you’re leading us in ever decreasing circles strongly suggests that mine doesn’t fit you at all well. Are you suffering from hypoxia?”

“Shut your face.” Marty Friedpants snarled his reply. “It’s this bloody snow: it’s smudging my contact lenses. I can’t see where we’re going!”

At much the same time, the falling snow excited the normally taciturn Charles De Glop into schoolboy-like behaviour…

“Whee!” He cried as he danced about on the concrete apron outside the kitchen.

It even brought smiles to the faces of the engineers that had decided that their chances lay better with a return to the safety of the museum…

One of the engineers who had been stationed in the museum took it upon himself to clamber into the nearby hills to find any customers who might be in need of guidance back. His name was Nobby Hollister, and it was his misfortune to  discover Patti Roularde as she enjoyed herself conducting some Precipitous Ledge Walking.

“Follow me.” He instructed her.

So she did…very closely indeed…

…which didn’t please Nobby. “Give me a little space, will ya.” He grumbled. “This ledge is getting more and more precipitous.”

The museum’s roof became a magnet for winter sports fans inside the museum. Two sewage worker union reps who hadn’t bothered to join the others on their hike, dashed there to enjoy the view…

“Ah,” one of them sighed, “after years of dealing with so much filth and ghastliness, its wonderful to be somewhere so fresh and clean.”

To which his colleague replied: “Yeah. Like the purple roof panel too.”

Below them, and out of sight around the corner, Las Chicas De La Playa had stripped down to their bikinis, and were now hard at work on their tans…

“La nieve no es buena para brocearse.” Carmen said to the others. “Hagamos otro cosa.”

To which the Chicas’ sole male representative, Jorge, replied: “You’re right, Carmen:  we are not going to get a tan this way at all. Like you say, we should do something else. Any suggestions anyone?”

Thirty seconds later…

“Yeah, snowball fight.” Lucia bellowed in a most un-girly manner.

“No shoving snow down the back of bikini bottoms, okay?” Jimena added wisely.

Further around the corner, where the prevailing winds blew most powerfully, the stone entrance to the ancient citadel steps was becoming treacherous with compacted snow and black ice…

…which didn’t please the Muffins working there on a restoration project one little bit…

And Maverick Fossil-Hunter, when he emerged from a hot-dog vendor’s tent inside the citadel, was appalled at the changing conditions…

“How am I going to find the catacombs now?” He wailed. “The big X marked on my map will be covered in snow!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part eleven)

Such was the fun, and so intense were the thrills of discovery, that the cable end team continued until sunset, where the light of Scroton’s primary star shone serenely through the semi-opaque shell of the dry dock…

But they now knew what they needed to know – if you get my meaning. Plans and blueprints were already forming inside their fertile engineering minds…

“From now on,” a tan coloured cable end, named Rooru Betts, stated, “this coffee machine will dispense Blurgh brand coffee. And if the owners don’t like, they can bloody well lump it!”

And the sage Sven Kahzi opined that the bell on the welcome mat should be replaced by a buzzer that gave off an electric shock and made girls skirts fly up around their neck.

And still the upgrade continued. The information matrix globe was downloaded; then uploaded with everything that the scientists of Scroton knew…

“It only seems fair.” Humper Humpington said. “We take, therefore we give. It is the way of Scroton. A mugger takes my sausage sandwich: I give him a punch in the mouth.”

“It is the way of Scroton.” Deuce Wayne uttered well-ingrained dogma. “By the way: isn’t this a charming shade of yellow? I’m thinking about doing my bathroom in this colour.”

But more important tasks were being performed across the entire vessel. Cutters and welders sparked incessantly – for hour upon hour…

And the transfer conduits saw an unending army of engineers and vast tonnage of material pass through them…

…though you wouldn’t know it from the outside. But, as is the way of every day, the end finally came…

…and dusk settled upon the scene of such frenetic activity green and torpid. But the following morning all of that toil and labour was given the ultimate scrutiny. It was test-flight time…

One of the first up-grades checked was the lavatory with a revolving door…

“The pink light.” Tojo Winterborn noticed. “Does it indicate that the loo is empty – or that someone is inside?”

Donny Woolbadger was too taken with the majesty of the floor covering to bother turning around. “The latter.” He answered. Then: “This floor covering reminds me of the royal palace.”

“Well spotted, Vice Chancellor, “Tojo replied, “Nigel has just had the royal out-house sofa re-upholstered: we didn’t like to waste the old material; there’s years of use left in it yet.”

Other parts of the ship were also being examined…

“Nice blue inter-compartmental air-lock.” Deuce congratulated its designer, Woolston Skipyard. “Very safety conscious. And the deck colour?”

“That’d be mine.” Humper Humpington volunteered. “I based it upon my own skin – then darkened it by several shades, using a freebie program that I downloaded from the Scroternet.”

By now the ship had travelled sufficiently far to take its occupants beyond their familiar Weird Space…

“That looks weird.” Deuce said as he gazed out through a charmingly oval (and very new) view port.

“No it doesn’t.” Humper argued in error. “It doesn’t look anything like Weird Space. It’s all black and white for starters!”

“No,” Deuce explained. “I mean it looks weird because it doesn’t look like Weird Space. It’s not multi-coloured.”

Woolston Skipyard was passing by. “Perhaps we should rename Weird Space. Who gave it that weird name anyway? It doesn’t make sense.”

Donny was having problems with the view as well…

“Tojo,” he said in a voice that fairly dripped with panic, “tell me when that light goes out: I think I’m going to throw up.”

And so it continued from one corridor to the next…

“Just smell the quality of this carpet.” Bertie Bumbledope said to his twin, Snarlston. “The Golden One has really pushed the boat out with this re-fit. He must really like earplugs.”

“Oh well,” Deuce said to Humper as they took one final look through one of the many oval portholes, “it was fun while it lasted.”

“Come along, you two.” Tojo Winterborn snapped as he passed the malingerers. “Time is money, and Nigel’s not made of the stuff – even if he is golden coloured.”

And before long the new and improved Gravity Whelk re-entered Scroton’s atmosphere…

…its Flying Certificate signed, sealed, and despatched electronically to the authorities in Scroton Prime.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 15

Since this series of excerpts from my wondrously fabulous Hamster-Sapiens e-books appears to be fulfilling a desperate need deep within the bosom of so many, here’s another one. Of course, numerically at least (if not artistically) it must come from the majestic…

Yes, Danglydong Dell Diaries – not only a sequel to Fanfare for the Common Hamster, but to The Psychic Historian too. I mean, what else could you want from a book? And here is that random extract…

Wendy Nuthatch knew better than to return to the dais. Like Horatio before her, she had read the program. In fact she’d written it, so was well aware that to step upon the dais now would invite disaster. Instead she merely checked her watch, folded her arms against the increasingly chill winter breeze, and sat back to watch.

Into the same chill winter breeze stepped Joan Bugler. As was usual for the young, if plump, female – she appeared out of thin air. She then reached back into the invisible realm from which she had just arrived, and yanked through a prissy-looking fellow in bright red tights, a huge floppy hat, and a colourful, gold braided, jerkin. He carried with him a long dull-metal trumpet.

Once the brightly-bedecked apparition had recovered from the transition from one reality to another, he promptly put the trumpet to his mouth and blew a pleasant little ditty that had the first five rows tapping their toes in time with it. Those further back lacked natural rhythm, but appreciated the melody nevertheless.

The tune only lasted a few moments. Joan then stepped to the microphone.

“Did anyone recognise the tune?” She inquired.

Naturally no one did, but Horatio was excellent at putting two and two together, and correctly guessed that it was the recently rearranged, funked-up, version of Fanfare for the Common Hamster.

Joan pointed at Horatio and grinned. “I thought you’d figure it out. Can you guess what happens next?”

Horatio didn’t just want to guess; he wanted to be an active participant. Leaping from his seat, and dashing forward, he reached out to Joan’s paw, and said, “May I?”

Joan had once experienced non-reproductive sexual intercourse with Horatio. They now enjoyed a near-telepathic talent for understanding each other’s needs. “Of course.” She replied, and helped Horatio on to the dais.

To Horatio alone she said, “Reach into Prannick Horatio.”

Naturally Horatio didn’t need further prompts. He lunged with his free paw into the undetectable portal, grabbed hold of the first thing that he found there, and yanked as hard as he could. His paw returned clutching a spectacular plume that had been fashioned from the feathers of some exotic bird. The plume came attached to a huge brass helmet. And attached to the brass helmet was the heir to the throne of Sponx – Darkwood Dunce – and he didn’t look best pleased.

“I say!” He bellowed in a disturbingly effeminate voice that he quickly brought under control, and duly continued in a more testosterone-enriched tenor, “Have a care, cur; don’t you know who I am?”

It was a great show, and the people of Hamster Heath applauded loudly, which gave Horatio time to regain his seat.

Abruptly aware that he and Joan were not alone, Darkwood immediately doffed his helmet; made a sweeping gesture that might have been a bow; winked at Joan; and then called, “Greetings good people of Hamster Heath. I’m just so thrilled to be here. Really I am.”

“We’re thrilled that you’ve agreed to appear.” Nurse Growler, from the local surgery, called out in response. “It’s not every day that we get to meet the heir to a kingdom in our dinky little town.”

“Why thank you, fair maid.” Darkwood nodded in satisfaction. “It is not every day that I am so privileged to stand before an audience of such class and breeding.”

“Breeding?” Huck Ballesteroid’s startled tones filled the dell. “Is that big poofter suggesting that we start breeding? Well I’m all for it: I’ve always had an eye for Nurse Growler. She’s a right miserable-looking sod, but I bet she goes like a race-prepped go-kart.”

Nurse Growler might not have been the most friendly and caring of nurses, but she had always been extremely professional, and was never short of medical equipment should the need arise. She could usually lay a paw upon some important implement – night and day – becalmed or tempest – sober or totally rat-arsed. And so she did that night in Danglydong Dell. From somewhere (no one could honestly say that they witnessed its appearance) Nurse Growler produced a heavy cast iron enamelled bed pan.

Upon the dais Darkwood flinched. He’d never seen a bedpan before, and feared that it was some terrible advanced form of weaponry. And he was right. Nurse Growler stood up, pushed Doctor Growbag’s head between his knees so that she had room to swing, and proceeded to revolve upon the spot – building up speed with every turn – until she launched the bedpan with all the skill and fury of a rodentolympic hammer thrower. The bedpan then sliced through the air in a rising arc like a startled sparrow with a veterinarian’s thermometer up its jacksey.

In his bath chair Huck Ballesteroid had a terrible sense of foreboding. Ever since childhood he’d been certain that one day this moment would come. And now it had arrived – not on the battlefield as he’d hoped – but in Danglydong Dell; on a winter’s night; with everyone watching. He sighed in the face of dreadful inevitability and made his peace with his chosen deity.

The bedpan, when it arrived, came out of the dark night sky like a silent meteorite, or an avenging dirigible passenger’s frozen turd. It caught Huck directly between the eyes – knocking him senseless, and pitching him backwards into the lukewarm water of his bath chair.

For a moment utter silence reigned. Then Horatio (who had history with Huck) cheered like a hamster possessed, and within a heartbeat the entire dell had erupted with a cheerful chorus of hoorahs.

Darkwood didn’t know what to make of it. So he leant forward and spoke into the microphone, and said, “I say, do you want to hear my tale, or not?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Fantasy? The writers of Game of Thrones should have read this book before they wrote that series. Imagine how much better it would have been – especially the ending! But that’s by-the-by: they didn’t, and the world’s a sorrier place for their omission. But you can still buy this tale of derring-do at most e-book retailers – some of which are mentioned on the sidebar or in Tooty’s Books Available Here beneath the header. Also check out the Lulu logo on the sidebar.

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 57)

It was a while later that Rupert Piles raced to get his camera into position…

…to record Cushions Smethwyke, as she stood alone, against a simple backdrop…

…to make a public announcement, to everyone within the Museum of Future Technology.

“Hello…er…everyone.” She began. “I expect you’re wondering why I have called this special public announcement. Well, you know that I have been unstinting in my efforts to return our missing customers, personnel, and operatives to the bosom of the museum?  Right? Well when the Earplug Brothers came to me for guidance, I pointed them in the direction of the Tree of Knowledge. Well it transpired that this simple action initiated a sequence of events that those amongst you who have a personal stake in the return of our missing time-travellers will find quite fascinating. Well, more than fascinating, actually. Perhaps the correct word should be ‘thrilling’. And why do I say this? I say this because…Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls; may I present, for your joy and entertainment – and back amongst us once again  – none other than…

…Magnuss Earplug and Hair-Trigger Provost!

Naturally the crowd, throughout the vast edifice, erupted with unadulterated passion.

“Speech! Speech!” Many would call.

Others would simply faint. But whatever an individual’s reaction, all of them expected Magnuss to give them the best possible news. So, naturally, Magnuss did just that.

“Hello, fans.” He said with a characteristic smile. “We’re all back: every one of us; safe and sound. So, if it’s alright with you, I say it’s time to paaarty!”

Instantly Rupert swivelled his camera to encompass the watching crowd…

But he wasn’t quick enough to catch Magnuss join his brothers; throw on his Cossack hat; and start a line dance…

…which, naturally enough, got the whole building ‘getting down’ to the country beat.

Clearly it was celebration time at the Museum of Future Technology. And celebrate is what they did – far into the night…

Meanwhile, far away, across the galaxy, the bridge crew were making their way back from the landing craft bay, to the bridge of the Brian Talbot

And they were celebrating too – in their own, rather subdued, way.

Once they were back at their duty stations, Captain Mantequilla had Folie and Placebo join them there…

…where they regarded the Gravity Whelk upon the main viewer.

“Ooh,” Folie said, “nice.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

A Tale of Three Museums (part 53)

Folie and Placebo stared in wonderment. The sight enthralled their gaze; and the noise assaulted their other senses – even ones they didn’t know they had…

“Flipping heck.” Folie erupted. “You can taste the smoke!”

“Yeah.” Placebo agreed. “And smell the vibrations!”

Then the huge vessel / edifice climbed from gravity’s embrace upon a column of insistent and terrifying power…

The two watchers were forced to lean heavily upon their back muscles to witness its heavenward thrust…

And still it climbed – the white-hot fires from its rockets scorching the air around it…

Then, abruptly, the rockets died, and the fusion drive lit up…

…which disappointed Folie somewhat, because he really liked old-fashioned rockets that roared and bellowed – until they were gone from sight…

“I’m somewhat disappointed.” He informed Placebo. “I know that fusion drive is a very pretty shade of pink; but I like old-fashioned rockets that roar and bellow until they’ve gone from sight.”

But that didn’t stop him enjoying the pretty shade of pink as it pulsated into the sky…

Then, simultaneously, both friends discovered that the power of gravity was stronger than their back muscles, and so they toppled backwards…

But that didn’t stop them enjoying the view…

…which was very…ah…viewable

…mostly because the fusion drive really kicked in, and all that pretty pink was tossed overboard. Now the vessel’s tail glowed incandescent…

…and a little pink too, in places – until it reached an altitude that was simply too high for the watchers to perceive…

…and so they picked themselves up; wished the vast craft a happy voyage…

…and wandered off towards the horizon, beyond which lay the Dimensional Relocation Device…

“Time to get back to our reality.” Folie said. “It’s been fun.”

“Yup.” Placebo agreed. “We’ve got quite a tale to tell our grandchildren.”

Folie was puzzled. “But we don’t have any grandchildren.” He said.

Placebo sighed. “I know that. We don’t have any grandchildren right now; but we probably will in the future – when we’re much older than we are now. “

Folie nodded his comprehension. “So these grandchildren are purely hypothetical?”

To which Placebo replied: “Your nose is going to be hypothetical in a minute, if you don’t shut up.”

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 51)

The theory that the missing customers might have been hiding in plain sight accidentally was proven quickly…

…when Munqui Bannister found Bunguy Jumpur, Randy Blueprint, Dina Havoc, and Porcine Pillock studying futuristic ballistic missiles…

“What?” They shrieked after being told the good news.

Well Bungay, Dina,  and Porcine did. Randy managed a more masculine, “I beg your pardon: did you say that Magnuss Earplug has a plan for our temporal retrieval? I’m astounded. I’m more astounded than I have ever been in my life. Even more astounded than when I learned that these Mark Six Missiles are so fast that they can hit the Moon before they’ve even been launched. Now that’s pretty astounding, don’t you think?”

“How does he propose to do it?” Dina inquired.

But when Munqui replied with, “I have no idea; who cares – it’s Magnuss Earplug: nothing can go wrong.”  Randy and Porcine showed their ignorance of Museum Heroes by allowing their mouths to fall open and doubtful utterances to escape them.

“Tranquilo mis amigos.” Munqui responded calmly. “You’re all in good hands. Now be ready for the word to move. When it comes, it could be sudden.”

Ever since the group conversation in the sunny park, the thought of the two zombies – Clux and Grimnax – nagged desperately at the short-arsed earplug with a stupid hat. He’d heard that they had both taken jobs at the Thomas Blueden Project…

…where, it was hoped that  (inside several futuristic domes ) grass, capable of re-invigorating the surface of Mars, was being grown…

As he made his way between the smaller of many domes, the thought of such a project certainly invigorated the mind of (and brought a sense of well-being to) Peter Crushing. Particularly so when he approached the foyer dome…

…which allowed him ingress to the inner sanctum of grass growing expertise. A short while later – after receiving some kind directions from several staff members, he entered the Engineering section of the project where seeds were genetically manipulated, and roots were grafted, and stuff like that…

“Hi, Peter,” one of two total strangers said to him – as though they had known him for weeks, “how’s it hanging, man?”

Peter was further dumbfounded when the other said: “We wondered when you guys would show up here. Isn’t this Thomas Blueden Project just fantabulous!”

“Probably.” Peter managed. “But changing the subject slightly; I’m looking for a pair of Zombies called Clux and Grimnax: could you tell me where they’re at?”

Both earplugs laughed at this. “Pete,” the darker individual said, “it’s us. We’ve given up our lives as voluntary zombies. This place has made us new again. I’m Clux.”

“And I’m Grimnax.” The lighter of the two earplugs added. “What did you want to see us about?”

At this point, the watching Gideon and Flaxwell were left to guess at Peter’s next words. But it was pretty obvious what they were…

Then it was on to another place, but in the same museum in the same era…

The earplug to whom the watching audience was now introduced was a young inventor by the name of Vincenzo Mussalheddi, who was fiddling avidly with a device that he called The Plasmapretzel. So he was less than accommodating when Magnuss and Hair-Trigger let themselves into his workshop…

“Who are you?” He asked belligerently. He quickly followed this opening gambit with, “Whatta ya want; a punch in the face?”

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

Revel in the Ribaldry 10

The tenth extract means we’re back at the fifth book in the Hamster-Sapiens series of rude tales and daring rodentia. This book, to be exact…

…which is not only wonderful, but stupendous too. Or is that ‘not only wonky, but stupid too’? Whatever – it’s worth a look. Here’s the excerpt…

Blubbersday, the Forty-sixth of Plinth. It was agreed between them that the group of rodents should split into three groups, and go in search of Tybrow Mooney. The obvious place to start was his former inn that had recently been taken over by a group of wandering bank voles who hoped to turn it into some form of perverse theme park. It was patently obvious that if they all arrived together, the voles would instantly draw the obvious conclusion that a mob had been sent to trap and kill them, and quite possibly react badly to this perceived threat.

Being used to bossing subordinates about, Tits took it upon herself to organise the formation of the three search parties. She’d already stressed the importance of leaving no group without the protection of a psychic energy detection system.

“We must have a psychic in each group. Big fists and scary protuberances are all well and good; but when the attack is of the mental kind, we need a psychic ace in our hole.”

“Ah, what hole would that be?” Colin inquired, “Because if it’s a bum-hole I’m afraid I don’t have one.”

“It’s just a term.” Fanangy explained to her android chum. “There is no hole. Or an ace either for that matter.”

“Could I be forgiven for thinking that the former sergeant is talking a load of bollocks then?” Colin inquired further.

Tits recalled a time, many yonks in the past, when she had taken a side arm from her holster, and threatened to shoot Colin up his non-existent bum hole. He had acquiesced to her demands that time: She saw no reason why he shouldn’t again. So she reminded him of this, and fingered her rifle menacingly as she said, “Colin – if you have nothing constructive to say – just shut the fluff up.”

Colin gave a cheerful wave, and took a backward step. “Certainly, Sergeant.” He replied in his infinitely polite way, “Until I have something of pertinence to elucidate, my lips shall remain hermetically sealed. Not literally of course, but you get my meaning.”

Satisfied that she wouldn’t be interrupted again, Tits then chose the teams.

“Colin – you belong to Boney, so you go with him. Boney needs to ride on Gargantua, so that’s him taken care of. For psychic protection team ‘A’ gets Primrose. Team ‘B’ will consist of two couples – for the obvious reason that Felicity’s psychic powers are exactly nil when Roosevelt isn’t around. Fanangy and Lionel will accompany them because of their vast experience doing really weird shit. Adjusterming can bring some wisdom of age to this group.”

“So that leaves you, the vile Arthur Dung, dippy Brenda, and Brother Alfonso Club-cock, with Joan as your psychic protector.” Primrose stated the blindingly obvious. “Couldn’t we just drop Brenda and Arthur off at an inn, and go about our business without their hindrance?”

“Oi,” Dung bellowed, “I wasn’t no hindrance when you needed someone to push all that ice cream up hill. I aint gonna be one now!”

“Golly – me too.” Brenda yelped in support of Dung, “Hey you’s might be needin’ someone with a furry tail kinda thing. Ya never know when a furry tail’s gonna be real useful.”

It was a good argument eloquently put, and no one was able to satisfactorily refute it.

Primrose sighed. “Very well, you two are on team ‘C’. Good luck, Tits.”

To avoid attention from the townsfolk of Far Kinell, the three teams entered independently of each other. Tits had decided to disguise her rifle in a large sack that they’d found wrapped around a signpost, which had almost certainly been deliberately placed there by anti-social urchins to confound and confuse weary travellers.

“Little bastards.” Dung had complained at the time. “Not just a modern phenomenon then? You get’ em everywhere.”

But by now the former rifle-hamster had led Joan, Brother Alfonso, Brenda, and Dung towards a likely-looking hostelry where they hoped to ask questions about any new hamsters in town who resembled Tybrow Mooney.

The bar keeper – a long-snouted wood mouse by the name of  Kendrick Tweezledown – spotted them as they entered the busy establishment, and beckoned them to the bar with a welcoming smile, and a hearty hail.

“Ah-ha, a weary group if ever I saw one.” He roared with laughter immediately after speaking the words, “Is it rough ale and foul pasties that you’re after?”

Tits didn’t realise quite how hungry she was until that moment. Now she wouldn’t turn up her nose to anything – even if it was only vaguely edible and closely resembled a turd.

“Thank you,” she curtsied, and added, “That would be lovely.”

“Well you’ll get nothing of the kind here.” Kendrick bellowed good-naturedly. “We only serve really tasty stuff. How’d you fancy a big bowl of rice pudding?”

This question was answered when five sets of gums began to salivate freely.

“And a big cup of tea too, I’d wager.” Kendrick added. “Or maybe something a little stronger? I have a fresh cask of rhubarb wine out the back. Would you care to partake?”

Joan looked to Brother Alfonso. “Do we have sufficient Prannick Spladlids to pay for it?”

Alfonso gave a brief smile. “I wear the cloth of the Church of The Wheel. He knows that the abbey is good for the bill. Let us eat, drink, and – perhaps for a few moments – be merry.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Most E-book retailers, in their wisdom, continue to make this book available to buy. You should partake of their service.

A Tale of Three Museums (part 46)

Almost a full half-hour passed before Noodles could continue; but when it did, the scene had shifted once more. Now Gideon and Flaxwell were able to see Cushions taking the long short-cut to the arboretum with Montagu…

“Thank you so much, Montagu.” Cushions squealed. “I don’t know what I’d do without you. If I were to collapse from heat stroke half-way there, I might not be found for months.”

“If you hate the journey to the arboretum so much,” the biological android replied, “why don’t you use the maintenance tunnels? They’ll get you there in next to no time.”

“What?” Cushions shrieked. “And soil my hands? I’m a curator: not a spot-welder!”

“Why are we going there anyway?” Montagu asked. “It can’t be because you adore this polka dot floor covering.”

To which Cushions replied: “The Earplug Brothers told me to.”

Meanwhile, two of the aforementioned brothers – Rudi and Valentine – were en route via the regular means – across the Woven Expanse…

“Hey, Val,” Rudi said, “What do ya make of these new undulations in the Woven Expanse?

“Aesthetically pleasing, man.” Valentine replied. “And the ‘down’ bits are great. It’s the stretches of ‘up’ that concern me.”

“And the colour?”

“Preferred the brown. This is just a temporary ‘test’ surface, I hope?”

“So they say.” Rudi answered. Then he paused…

“Oh heck.” he sighed, “now we gotta cross the Wide Blue Yonder”

Valentine tried to find some crumbs of comfort: “At least it’s still blue.” he said.

Of course, all bad things must end, and a while later they found themselves in the company of the twins, Chester and Miles, who – being younger – had raced off ahead of them. With them were Cushions; Montagu; and Cushions’ Plugmutts – Harry and Ray…

Rudi didn’t waste any time; he got straight to the point.

“Okay, Cushions,” he said, once brief pleasantries had been exchanged, “I’ll not waste any time: I wanna get straight to the point: which one of these trees is the Tree of Knowledge?”

As Chief Curator, Cushions didn’t want to appear unknowledgeable about her own museum. Picking a vague direction at random, she said: “That one…over there. The big one.”

As the boys departed, Montagu couldn’t come to terms with what he’d heard:

“But, Cushions,” he said in a whisper, “what will happen when they discover that it’s not the Tree of Knowledge?”

“It will be the Tree of Knowledge.” Cushions replied. “Heroic types like the Earplug Brothers habitually get lucky. It’s how they survive all their adventures. It’s what makes them so indispensable. You see; whatever tree they choose will be the Tree of Knowledge.”

Chester and Miles shared their missing brother’s distaste for heights, so remained behind – leaving the task of climbing the tree to their elders…

“It doesn’t smell of plugmutt pee-pee.” Valentine observed. “It’s a good start. You first. Let’s do it. Huh – let’s get down!”

Rudi smiled at this. “No, Val,” he said, “Huh -let’s get up!”

So, a short while later…

…they had managed to make some vertical progress. Well Rudi had; Valentines sandals kept slipping on the tree trunk, which left him earthbound. But quickly casting them aside solved the problem, and soon he had closed upon his older brother…

“Hey, you’re a fast mover.” Rudi chided him for his athletic carelessness. “If you had fallen you could’a bounced all the way back to the museum, man.”

But Valentine wasn’t listening. Just for once in his life, he wanted to beat Rudi at something. Clearly climbing trees barefoot was that ‘something’…

So it was Valentine – and not Rudi – that was first to hear the inaudible voice of the Tree of Knowledge inside his brain.

Meanwhile – their mission accomplished – Cushions and Montagu were making their way to Mister Pong’s Exotic Food Restaurant…

“You’re having boiled rice again.” Cushions informed her colleague.

“And you’re staying off the vodka martinis.” Montagu retorted.

It was about this time when Rudi and Valentine regained the security of the ground…

“Wow!” Rudi exclaimed. “Did you get that?”

“I sho’nuf did, Rudi.” Valentine replied. “It was far-out, man.”

Upon the hidden world, Gideon and Flaxwell watched in dismay as the screen clouded over…

“What?” Gideon complained. “What did they hear? What’s ‘far-out, man’?”

But Flaxwell wasn’t concerned: he knew that The Portal of Everywhere had more story to tell. He could wait.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

A Tale of Three Museums (part 44)

The winter’s unbearable length demoralised us all too quickly; so, on milder days, when the snow had been blown away by the incessant northerly winds, brave explorers continued the task of finding us somewhere better to put down our metaphorical roots. But all they found were huge, dangerous beasts…

…from which they either hid or ran. And there were other – smaller – creatures too that would creep up behind you…

…when you weren’t looking…

…and bite you on the bum. You ask Richter: he still has the teeth marks to prove it!

But those relatively balmy days were few, and were always plagued by the presence of huge monsters…

…so most of the exploration was conducted by our blue or purple earplugs. One of these was Ronnie Fabulous – which we still think was a stage name from his previous life as a juggler and dinner plate balancer…

Although, generally, he was frightened out of his wits by his own shadow, he felt that exploring was a better option than staying indoors and listening to badly-played trumpets, out-of-tune guitars, and the caterwauling of the mariachi band…

He took to strolling about the icy plain for days on end. In doing so he became more relaxed. Chilled out, even. Eventually he began to pay some attention to his surroundings. Fancying a trip into some nearby hills, he headed in a direction that, hitherto, no one else had attempted. And it was here that he found something wondrous…

After snapping some photos, he rushed back to the habitat as though the Plugmutts of Hell were chasing him…

And when we saw the results of his photographic skills, we could all understand his excitement…

It was a flaming great big tower…ah...towering out of the surrounding snow and ice!

Well, as you can imagine, and despite worsening weather, we couldn’t wait to get a full team to check it out. But we didn’t go straight away – because it really was snowing very hard – and we only had two pairs of goggles between us…

But eventually conditions improved…

…enough to send a team. And when we received their report, no one was in any doubt: we had to move in there. So we did…

And here we are. Nice, isn’t it?”

“But what is it?” Placebo inquired.

“And where are the people who built it?” Folie added.

“Gone.” Whoops replied. “Into space somewhere. In huge city ships. Ships just like this one.”

Folie found it hard to say the next words. “You mean…this is a giant space ship? It can fly?”

Dido Warblington smiled broadly. “Good, innit?” He said. “But it does need a bit of TLC. It’s not completely space-worthy yet; but we’re getting there. Just as long as all these environmental disasters don’t destroy us first, of course.”

“Have you found the original blueprints?” Placebo asked. He then added: “They might give you the breakthrough you badly need. Try looking down the back of the filing cabinet in the engineering office. Stuff is always falling down there amongst the cobwebs and half-eaten sandwiches.”

Dido was about to express his gratitude, when he spotted that Whoops wanted to speak. Naturally he deferred: “Yes, Whoops?” He inquired.

“Oh yes.” Whoops’ tone took on a solemn timbre. “There is just one other thing – other than the environmental disasters that Dido referred to. We found this computer generated video that the original inhabitants made. Clearly it was an inspirational movie that was intended to spur the workforce into ever greater efforts. Take a look at this…

We’ve ascertained that this is the world upon which we now stand. As you see it has no moon, and that there are other worlds in the single-sun system. Those worlds are uninhabitable. One is almost white hot: the other utterly cold.  Soon this world will be even more uninhabitable – because there is an asteroid headed this way. We hope to be space-worthy in two weeks – because in three weeks this happens…

…the world ends.”

“So you see why we’re not overly keen to have dear Princess Cake amongst us.” Dido said. “We’d hate to see her smashed to atoms. She’s much better off where she is.”

“Oh do shut up.” Whoops shouted at his colleague as they departed the screening. “If her people are to die – doesn’t she have the right to die with them? I don’t care about the republic anymore: I want our ruler back!”

But, as they left, no one thought to look back – and perhaps see a pair of mysterious eyes looking down upon them.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 43)

But, as wonderful as Richter and Beaufort were at exploring, we took the decision to replace them with earplugs who originated in  cooler climes – which were either purple…

…or, more commonly, the tundra-living blue earplugs of our most northerly habitable zone…

It was a pair of such earplugs – named Wikkium and Wikkbert Cart – that discovered a frozen mud village. But no matter how many times they knocked politely upon the front door, no one would answer it. So they tried getting in another way…

In the end they had to smash a window. But by then they were getting so frustrated that they really didn’t care – especially Wikkium, who is known for have almost no patience, a short temper,  and a predilection for getting into drunken bar brawls. So you can imagine how furious he was when…

…having forced entry and broken several finger nails in the process, they found the village stripped bare and a note that read:

Gone: won’t be back. Whoever you are, you’re welcome to the dump. Watch out for black mould spores in the bathrooms and thread mould behind the cistern in the downstairs toilets.

And, for a week or two we thought that was that. Clearly the inhabitants had moved elsewhere – but to what location, we had no idea. Then another explorer found a much more modern building – surrounded by dry, sandy soil in which grew stubby little shrubs of no nutritional benefit whatsoever. The building was constructed using a substance that we have yet to identify – so clearly its builders were technologically advanced. It even had a warning sign painted upon it, which, despite the constant erosion of wind-blown sand, remained legible…

So we sent in a team. And what they found astonished and delighted us in equal measure. The building was the surface level of a much larger subterranean facility…

…that collected water from deep beneath the surface, and channelled it to wherever it was needed via underground aqueducts…

Naturally we tapped into that supply, and even had some fun in the maintenance boats that we found behind a huge basket of soiled uniforms in a shed out the back. So it was smiles all round amongst us refugees, I can tell you.

It was there that we discovered a photograph of the previous inhabitants of the waterworks. They were ugly brutes – with one eye and, apparently, a tendency to wander around during pumice falls – which, presumably, came from a volcano that we have yet to locate…

But, despite a general optimistic attitude amongst our band of survivors, the first rains left us feeling disappointed…

…because they fell as acid rain, which not only did the land no good whatsoever, but also hurt our eyes. Fortunately Richter and Beaufort lent us their space goggles, so at least two of our scientists could go outside and study it…

But it became abundantly clear – as more and more teams reported back to us…

…that the planet we had chosen for our refuge was of the most inhospitable kind. Already the icy cold of winter was arriving. So we hurriedly erected a temporary winter habitat…

…into which everyone rushed as though their lives depended upon it – which of course they did…

But, all too quickly it filled to the rafters and squabbles broke out at every turn. Some earplugs even got poked in the eye!  So we built a whole street of habitats – on two levels – with some outbuildings for scooters, garbage cans, gardening equipment, patio heaters, and stuff like that…

…and settled in for the winter. Although most of our technology had been left behind, we did have the good sense to bring along some trumpets, acoustic guitars, and a Mariachi Band…

…so the long winter nights weren’t quite as bad as they might have been.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

A Tale of Three Museums (part 25)

Because of the need to keep a low profile, those earplugs who found themselves lost in time decided to take a break away from the museum. To this end they hired a small flying machine – the design of which was modelled on the much-loathed Hyper-Space Pirate mother ship. Of course it was much smaller and could not attain the far reaches of the upper atmosphere; but, if you screwed up your eyes and didn’t account for its lack of sheer size, it looked convincingly like an evil attack craft from beyond space…

With Dina Havoc at the helm, they visited several locations of marginal interest. If truth be known, none of them could really summon up any enthusiasm for travel – because it only reminded them of their lives on the outside of the Museum. Lives that, unless rescue arived from the future, they would be denied for ever. So, on the way home, Dina decided to have some fun, and throw the craft around the sky a little…

This was a mistake – particularly whilst in Museum of Future Technology air-space. In the Security Suite, the Robot Security Guards – or RoboSecGuas, as they were known in shorthand – grew cybernetically alarmed…

Quickly discussing the situation, one of them suggested that they go to Red Alert. But the RoboSecGua responsible for taking decisions…er…decided not to. Instead it chose an alternative action. And this alternative action was the shooting down of the erratic vessel that looked alarmingly like a Hyper-Space Pirate mother ship…

Fortunately the flimsy and defenceless pleasure craft crashed in a field just outside of the neighbouring Ciudad De Droxford…

…where it burned for hours – utterly ruining an angry pea farmer’s early crop. More fortunate, was the craft designer’s inclusion of a rocket-powered escape module. So it was a chagrined pair of T.W.I.T recruits – namely Jeremy Farton and Chickweed Gubbins – who were able to walk the museum’s fabled corridors with injuries no worse than a bruised knee and a sore buttock between them…

And so it had proven for everyone else aboard. But, if nothing else, it had sent a message to the young recruits of T.W.I.T. Recognising that they were extremely young and inexperienced, and were more likely than their elders to consume vast amounts of sparkling alcoholic beverages; get stinking drunk; and do something that would alter the time line, the youthful foursome made the strategic decision to go into suspended animation. Within hours of the crash, Chickweed and Jeremy had joined Pixie and Neville in the museum’s sole Suspended Animation Booth…

And they thought it was very nice.

Of course, those effervescent adventurers, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger, were far too active for such drastic measures. They managed to finagle their way into maintenance jobs…

…which included keeping a watchful eye on the Nul-Space Power Generator that provided all the museum’s energy needs…

But, sadly, they were inept in their roles, and made regular mistakes that set the power distribution system staggering and lolloping around like an inebriated seal…

Naturally this caught the attention of other maintenance workers, who often had to put right the results of the new-comer’s errors…

They were so incensed that they brought their grievances to the attention of a passing RoboSecGua…

It, in turn, went straight to the heart of the matter…

…and dismissed both Magnuss and Hair-Trigger from the service…

“I don’t know what all the fuss is about.” Hair-Trigger complained. “Nobody is perfect on their first day. And it’s not like we destroyed the place. We just shook it up a little. And who’s to say that didn’t happen in the time-line where we didn’t arrive here? Maybe it’s pre-destination.”

Magnuss wasn’t particularly aux fait with temporal mechanics or chrono-dynamics or esoteric matters – such as the long-running argument that pitted determinism against free-will either; so thought it best to remain mute. In any case; he had a much better idea for spending their time together.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

 

 

A Tale of Three Museums (part 22)

Meanwhile, even further away than before, the Cable End’s listening station continued to listen…

…for any trans-galactic radio chatter that might give away the location of the stolen Scroton Five…

Now it’s quite possible that they may have overheard Flaxwell, when he called the Oracle to inform it that henceforth their ship was to be referred to as The Zephyr; but fortunately for him, the station’s Security Manager chose that moment to inquire after the quality of the new brand of coffee beans in the coffee dispenser.

“It’s called Dung.” The braver of his operatives spoke up. “And it tastes like dung.”

“Oh,” the Security Manager responded. “It’s not my taste buds then? It really is horrible?”

“Yes.” All four operatives spoke as one. “If you want us working at peak efficiency, you’ll get us Yuk coffee – like they have down in Scroton Prime.”

“Duly noted. Any developments, regarding the stolen Scroton Five?”

“Yes, Sir.” The most weasely of the operatives informed his boss. “A Scroton Five, commanded by Captain Werner Hissenfrapp, reports that he has arrived at the Balsac Nebula”

“Would that be the Great Balsac Nebula?” The Security Manager inquired as he studied the CCTV footage that had been received from the pursuit vessel…

“What do you think?” The braver operative spoke again. “It looks pretty great to me.”

All five cable ends present then watched as a remote camera – which Selma Ferkins had despatched, just in case their ship was destroyed in the nebula – showed the pursuit ship begin it’s (potentially) dangerous voyage into the unknown…

While all this interplanetary stuff was going on, Flaxwell and Gideon had made their way into a gently-sloping canyon…

They felt more comfortable now that the way was less steep. But when, at last, they reached the lower levels of the valley, they discovered that the slices of pitta bread inside their underpants had soaked up lots of sweat, and were falling apart.

“I feel so despondent.” Gideon moaned. “I can feel things moving around below. I fear that soon the cotton wool padding will fall out through the sagging leg holes.”

Naturally Flaxwell felt much the same way. In fact he was considering returning to the Zephyr for a change of underwear – when suddenly his radiation detector bleeped encouragingly…

“Flipping heck.” He exclaimed. “We’re almost on top of it. Quick – get out your entrenching tool. We have some snow to shovel aside!”

Well, a half-hour later, and with their underpants-inspired woes forgotten, the two earplugs looked down into a shallow trench. At it’s bottom lay an oval device…

“Yes, this is definitely the source of the radiation.” Flaxwell stated. “What does legend tell about the shape of the Porthole of Everywhere?”

For a moment Gideon couldn’t answer the question. He was shaking with eager anticipation. “Uurr.” He managed. Then his professionalism kicked in. “Oval.” He said. Then he said it again and again until he broke down with a nasty coughing fit.

“Look!” Flaxwell exclaimed excitedly – and a little fearfully…

“It’s coming to life.”

Then something totally unexpected happened…

A strange light enveloped the device and those who regarded it. That, in itself, didn’t concern Gideon overly. I fact he’d almost expected it. But what he didn’t expect was that a voice would emanate from it. A loud, stentorian voice that could not be disobeyed:

“You took your bloody time getting here.” It complained. “Oh my aching back. Do you know how long I’ve been down here? Millennia – that’s how long. Eons even. Well come on; jump to it. Stand me up; I’m an erect kinda device. I like to see the horizon.”

So, with much huffing and puffing and even more cotton wool-falling-out-of-thermal underpants, Flaxwell and Gideon had the Porthole of Everywhere upright…

“The nameplate says ‘Noodles’.” Flaxwell observed in an instant. “Does legend tell us anything about the Porthole of Everywhere enjoying an association with a fast-food outlet? He inquired.

Gideon was about to say: “Er…I don’t think so.” when the Portal of Everywhere spoke for a second time:

“My name is Noodles. Now you – the green earplug – get yourself over here for a photo-opportunity. I hope you’re recording this momentous event. I want everyone, everywhere, to know that I am Noodles. This bloody Porthole of Everywhere nonsense hacks me off, I can tell you!”

Of course, when confronted with a disgruntled legend, Gideon duly obliged…

But, at that moment, it all seemed a bit of an anti-climax.

“Duh.” He said.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

Distant Land (Part 14)

The Brian Talbot, the brain child of Wet World’s most revered scientists – Hideous and Perfidity Gout – hung motionless in space, with the Great Horse Dung Nebula as its back-drop…

Inside, Captain Cedric Mantequilla addressed the entire crew via ship-wide intercom…

“Space Sailors.” He began powerfully. “What you are about to see is a recording that was made by an alien species. As such I would like to warn you that you can’t always believe what your eyes and ears are telling you. Aliens are a sneaky bunch of bleeders – and you might find yourself being hypnotized. So take care. Take nothing for granted. And if you feel that you’d like to look away, or perhaps visit the toilet; do so without an iota of shame.” He then retook his chair and said: “Okay; roll it.”

At first only a pleasant vista of interstellar space greeted the expectant gaze of the Brian Talbot’s crew. Naturally Folie and Placebo rushed forward for a better view.

“Forgive me if I’m wrong,” Placebo whispered to his chum, “but that doesn’t look like this region of space.”

Folie would have replied, but his thought processes were interrupted by the sudden appearance of two earplugs, both of which looked decidedly chilly…

“Welcome Space Travelers.” The foremost earplug said in a language everyone could understand. “My name is Beaufort Skale. This is my brother, Richter.”

By the time that Beaufort Skale had drawn breath for his next sentence, Folie and Placebo had sought refuge behind the captain’s chair…

“Freeze-frame!” Cedric yelled. And when the video paused, he added: “How the heck did that happen? How is it possible for an alien earplug, from half-way across the Galaxy, to speak Earplug English?” He then answered himself: “I’ll answer that myself: obviously we’ve all been hypnotized.”

Everyone looked at the stilled scene upon the main viewer…

“I don’t feel particularly hypnotized.” Grenville offered.

“Me neither.” His brother, Speltham, added.

“I’m definitely not feeling hypnotized.” Hubert Boils informed everyone. “It’s not in my DNA. I’m naturally immune.”

“Weren’t we all immunized before we left Wet World?” Hooper Hellstrom reminded the captain. “Just in case we encountered alien life-forms with huge mental powers?”

Cedric made a snap decision: “Run VT.” He said.

Moments later Beaufort Skale’s commentary continued: “We are scientists who live and work in a wonderful institution called the Museum of Future Technology”….

“Freeze-frame!” Cedric yelled again – only more shrilly…

“What the flipping heck is happening here?” He continued at extreme volume. “Is this some sort of convoluted joke – designed to make me look completely gaga? If so, it aint gonna work!”

Whilst the bridge crew looked over their collective shoulder, Folie took the time to peer into his captain’s eyes. “Yup.” He whispered to Placebo. “Definitely Space Paranoia.”

“Maybe.” Placebo replied. “But that doesn’t explain what we’re seeing on this video. That can’t be our museum: it’s thousands of light-years away. Or maybe we’re all completely gaga!”

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

The Time Tamperer (part 31)

With an element of urgency now driving them, the four T.W.I.T agents first looked one way…

…then the other…

But wherever they peered, only emptiness greeted their young eyes. Understanding, in an instant, Pixie realised that she had been utterly mistaken in her belief that their mission was a test of their abilities. That they had, truly, travelled into the past. So, instead of looking all over the place, they chose to visit the one place in which they felt comfortable: Swottan Hetty’s control room…

Not unexpectedly they found it unoccupied. After Chickweed had relieved himself, Pixie suggested that they form two teams and keep in contact via their T.W.I.T walkie-talkies. So, without dissent from the others, she chose to team up with…

…Neville Scroat. With no definite plan, they decided to use an elevator that stood at the end of a brief tunnel…

It was an artistic tunnel that, under better circumstances, they might have appreciated its architectural splendour. But, even with their minds in semi-turmoil, the elevator itself impressed them greatly…

…because it used beams of futuristic light to transport them to the next level – where the shadows and high ceilings, they found there, did slightly intimidate them…

Then inspiration struck. “Of course.” Pixie squealed. “The Cafe Puke…

…It must be coffee break time. We’ll probably find everyone there!”

But,of course…

…they didn’t. In fact they didn’t find any furniture either.

“Bum!” Said Neville. “I’m getting really nervous about this. I’m seriously considering handing in my notice of resignation.”

Jeremy Farton and Chickweed Gubbins weren’t enjoying any success either…

In fact Chickweed was showing signs of frustration. “Holy heck.” He snapped. “This is so frustrating.”

So Jeremy suggested visiting the go-cart park…

…which was a very popular place for gang members and social miscreants to hang out and smoke dodgy substances. But when they arrived…

…it too was deserted to the Nth degree. So it was back to Swottan Hetty for a confidence boost…

…and some serious thinking.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018