Tag Archives: writing

Revel in the Ribaldry 31

The time is due for another excerpt from one of my…er…fabulous...Hamster-Sapiens books. It has been a while since I last entertained you with a snippet from this book...

…so it seems logical to do that right now. And here it is – and chosen entirely at random by pure chance…

Horatio became aware that Beryl was tugging at his sleeve, but tried to ignore it. So Beryl was left with no alternative but to knock off his novelty fedora if she wanted to gain his attention. So she did, and it worked wonderfully.

“I’m not native.” She whispered, “Who is that pompous ass-hole from which distain drips from every pore?”

Acknowledging the indisputable truth that Beryl wasn’t going to remain quiet unless Horatio gave her the information she required, the trepidatious young hamster decided to acquiesce to her demands.

“His name is Henderson Dangerpimple.” He spoke as quickly as he thought Beryl’s brain could assimilate the information, “He is a professor of Pox and Pustules at Chunderford University. He was the owner of the seafront fondant shop in the same town. Unfortunately his shop was destroyed by a mini-tsunami caused by a huge propeller that fell into the sea from the airship Dragon Slayer.”

Beryl was confused. “And he blames you for it?

“I was one of the passengers.” Horatio shrugged his shoulders, but instantly regretted the act lest the subtle movement reveal his location to the ethereal sniper.

“But still,” Beryl persisted, “that seems a little unreasonable.”

“Well I stole his wife too.” Horatio added slightly shamefaced. “They’d only been married a few hours. They hadn’t even consummated the union. But it wasn’t my fault: I had a really snotty allergy: An allergy to life without Colleen Slapper it turned out. So I told her that I loved her, begged her to leave Henderson, and she did. Now he hates me. I guess I can understand his motivation.”

“Is that tale in your autobiography?” Beryl inquired. “If it isn’t it should be.”

“Yes.” Horatio turned to regard the female beside him, “Haven’t you read it properly?”

“Not everything.” It was Beryl’s turn to look shamefaced, “Only the rude bits when you talk about your massive scrotum and suchlike. I just like to browse when I read.”

Horatio nodded. Once again he found himself capable of understanding the motivation of someone else – and it made him feel good. The Horatio Horseblanket Chronicles did run to three volumes after all. And there was the illustrated version too of course: That even included the famous photograph of his personal area that appeared on the cover of The Bucktooth Times. “Yes.” He said, “So I imagine that you’ve read all about how the President of Europe had a Particularly Popular Peoples Party pamphlet inserted into my anus and then set alight?”

“Oh yes.” Beryl assured Horatio, “It’s one of my favourite bits. And the episode where the famous Hamster-French three-wheeled go-kart race, Norbert Disentangle bit you in the…”

But Horatio was no longer listening: Instead he was regarding the TV monitor as a

cascade of whooshes and fizzles gave way to an actual picture…

“Yeah.” An unknown pilot yelled as he struggled with the controls of a recalcitrant military dirigible, “He’s my first-born. I named him after the first thing that I saw when I entered the delivery room in the hospital. His name is Legsakimbo.”

Further conversation with an unseen comrade was interrupted as the airship bucked and yawed in the turbulent night air.

Below searchlights scanned the heavens – sweeping across the night sky like photonic brooms. Every so often anti-dirigible explosives would be sent hurtling into the air from gigantic catapults – to cause mayhem and consternation amongst the crews that flew high above enemy territory.

“Legsakimbo Dangerpimple?” the comrade struggled from somewhere aft in the gondola with a huge cup of tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake for the pilot. “That sounds almost exotic – like something from Deepest Jungle Land or somewhere similar.”

“Totally accidental I assure you, old chap.” The pilot gratefully accepted the gift of delicious comestibles, and began stuffing his face.

The comrade checked his fob watch. “Hmmm.” He muttered, “I think I’ll check with Marius: We should be just about there by now.”

But he didn’t need to. Instead a voice crackled over the intercom…

“This is Marius Moonvictim, Skipper: Time that we said ‘bye-bye’.”

“Roger that.” The pilot responded into a huge brass microphone that hung above his pilot’s seat. He then clicked on a radio transceiver. “This is Pilot Officer Brandenberg Dangerpimple to base. We’re having some difficulty with our navigator. Request permission to break off the attack, over.”

“Your navigator?” A distant voice floated in and out of audible range, “What the fluff’s wrong with Moonvictim this time? Over.”

Dangerpimple didn’t hesitate to lie. “Bad case of the shits, I’m afraid, over.”

It took a few seconds for the distant voice to become audible again, but when it did, the owner sounded exasperated.

“Tell him to hold it in, and get on plotting your course. The target for this bombing raid was chosen by the Prince himself personally.”

“Too late, base.” Dangerpimple couldn’t help but smile wickedly as he spoke, “I’m afraid that he’s soiled the navigation equipment. When we get back it’ll need a complete overhaul. We’re virtually flying blind up here. I think we can just about make it to the emergency landing tower at Mollusk by dead-reckoning if we turn back now. If we try to continue – then I think that we’d probably get horrendously lost, and fly right off the edge of the world. Over”

He knew that this last line was a certain winner. He needed only wait a paw-full of seconds before a radio acknowledgement was received.

“Right’o, Marius.” He shouted, “Plot us a course for you-know-where.”

He heard a laugh in response. “Already plotted and on the board, Skipper.”

And Brandenberg Dangerpimple’s response to that was a sharp twist of the wheel to starboard, and the instruction to his nearby comrade, “Okay, Flight Sergeant Binge Tanning: You know the ropes: Prepare for borders.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

 

I Couldn’t Help But Notice That…

…almost everyone missed the final installment of Haunted Mars. I must have released it when people were looking the other way. So, just to make sure you see how the enormous story ended, here’s another chance. Just click on Haunted Mars (part sixty-two) and be transported to another world. You know it makes sense.

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part sixty-two)

Shortly, Bo stood at the water’s edge. It wasn’t the larger expanse of semi-frozen water that constituted the ‘sea’ that the museum overlooked: but a smaller body near the old citadel, which (perhaps by coincidence – or by perhaps by design in an earlier time) made a perfect reservoir for the sunken city…

“How was it that female engineer in the museum described Mars?” He asked himself. “Haunted? Well no more. Those ghosts of Mars have been well and truly exorcized.”

He then wandered to the pedestrian entrance beside the ancient citadel gate…

…where the property developer in him reasserted itself.

“Hmm,” he mused quietly, lest some passer-by overhear his verbalised thoughts, “maybe I won’t cadge a lift back to Scroton on the Gravity Whelk after all. This is all prime land now – especially along the sea front. A nice promenade would look charming – and maybe  a pier poking out into the sea – with a funfair at the end of it: that would be nice. And, of course, house prices would go through the roof for such a location. And I have the expertise to make it happen. Yes, ride this wave of good fortune, Bo: you deserve it.”

So, despite his naturally miserable visage, Bo Smidgin was a very happy cable end, as he made his way along the shore to the Future Museum of Mars…

Naturally, that evening, an award ceremony took place…

Sir Dodger Muir made a fabulous speech in which he praised the crew of the Gravity Whelk for their sterling work. Actual awards were thin on the ground, but Treacle Fagging had his engineers manufacture a Golden Welder’s Helmet, which they thought was most appropriate under the circumstances.

Folie – being the de facto ‘skipper’ of the Gravity Whelk – stood centre stage: but it was Bo who rushed forward and claimed the Golden Welder’s Helmet.

“Mine, I think,” he said as he grabbed it and thrust it upon his head, “after all it was my idea and it was me who undid the bolts that held the Gravitonic Multiplicitor to the deck.”

But, sadly the helmet had been designed for an earplug’s head, and poor Bo couldn’t see where he was going. He stumbled around for several seconds before falling off the stage. Placebo couldn’t have been more pleased.

“Serves you right,” he jeered, “you big show off.”

Then it was Frisby Mumph’s favourite part of the ceremony – because on walked El Custardo y Los Natillas…

Of course their guitar strings remained permanently ‘twanged’, and their trumpet mouthpieces would never again accept pursed lips: but they could perform a cappella, and so they did. With much clapping and stamping of feet, the Latin beat got everyone out of their seats…

Frisby was so happy that he didn’t even mind the presence of the plugmutt, Rufus on his precious museum’s red carpet…

…because (when the festivities were over) he was going to enjoy the rest of his life bringing the planet up to a habitable standard. He couldn’t wait for the morning to arrive.

But when that morning did arrive, and with its soft-top roof repaired, the Gravity Whelk launched from Mars for the last time…

In time there would be statutes that forbade loud rockets booming over inhabited areas: but for now Folie was happy to celebrate their departure by letting the motors roar as loudly as they could.

Shortly after the rocket motor’s sound had died away upon a light breeze, in the mists and shadows of early morning William of Porridge used his fine baritone to sing songs of love to Lillie…

And his soulful rendition of the classic What Becomes of the Broken Winded brought tears to her eyes. But not only Lillie’s eyes: a short distance from the shore, two faces emerged from the ‘sea’…

“Honestly, Arthur,” the female said, “it’s not enough that we awaken from a million-year sleep: but we have to listen to that awful racket when we do!”

“I know, Millicent,” the aquatic earplug named Arthur replied, “noisy neighbours are such a curse. But this looks like it’s going to be a vast sea: I’m sure we can find a nice little place somewhere in the depths.”

The End (for now)

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

WELL – DID YOU ENJOY IT? SHALL I DO ANOTHER ONE?

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part sixty-one)

Of course, the locals turned out in small numbers. They were used to catastrophe and ecological disaster, so tended to stay indoors. Despite Frisby Mumph’s best efforts, most of their population still remained in deep-freeze. Could this dusty world finally herald a new dawn for their civilisation?

Gargling Vastium thought that perhaps it might. “Nice.” He said to his colleagues. “When the dust settles, we’ll be able to get a decent tan at last.”

“Oh, absolutely,” the red-brained Nipper Sodbury replied. “And look at the previously ice-bound citadel steps…

…they’re running with fresh melt water.”

Klurk and Radvalve made their way out of the citadel too…

“I guess you’ll be crowned as Prime Minister again after this?” Radvalve mused. “Allowing Mister Mumph to save the world was a good political move.”

Klurk leant sideways conspiratorially. “Actually,” he replied, “I’m putting you up for the role. For me – with all this surface water and a moderate climate – I’m going to start making coracles for a living. Everyone is going to want one. Muffins always loved coracles: I think it’s the roughly-hewn, vaguely circular shape that does it for them.”

“That’s a point.” Radvalve responded. “Coracles. And what if you turned them upside down and glued a stick in the middle? You could make a nice sunshade. We haven’t got time to grow some forests: I know a Muffin with a whole bunch of prehistoric sticks that date back millennia: how do you fancy going into business with him?”

Of course William soon joined Lillie outside. She quickly divested herself of her tatty pressure suit…

They walked here and there, despite here and there looking awfully similar, talking of nothing in particular all the while. And as they did so, the dust began to settle. So as the day wore on they discovered that the museum lay upon a lovely golden beach, with views over the rapidly-thawing ice sheet…

“Would you believe it, William,” Lillie said with a sigh of inner contentment, “that I’m actually getting paid for strolling along the beach with my favourite guy. Oh, this is so fabulous. And Las Chicas are going to adore it!”

Meanwhile Folie and Kyboshed were busy retrieving the Gravitonic Multiplicitor…

“I think it was Donny who said that we’d never know when a Gravitonic Multiplicitor might come in handy,” Folie said as he completed the task of bolting it down to the deck once more. “How right he was. I’m so glad we didn’t have to return to Scroton for a new one.”

“And the toilet?” Kybosh suggested.

“Oh yes,” Folie agreed, “we’ll definitely need to recover that too: it’s such a long walk to the Fantadanta Room.”

Soon the short Martian day came to an end, and William and Lillie sat themselves down upon a huge slab of sandstone to watch the sunset…

“I expect the ice-sheet will freeze a little over-night.” William said. “But come the morrow, the Sun will thaw it just a little more of it.”

“And the day after that, a little more.” Lillie added to the joy of the moment.

Shortly they were joined upon their slab by others…

“I wonder, does anyone think that proto-sea will ever contain fish?” Chef, Charles De Glop asked no one in particular. “It would be good to add seafood to the menu.”

Then more arrived…

And one pretty young female, realising how charming the scene really was, turned around and beckoned everyone else out of the Future Museum of Mars.

It wasn’t until the new day dawned that the Gravity Whelk returned in triumph from its mission. It swooped along the new ‘sea front’ and passed above the museum…

“Can you put me down near the old citadel?” Bo asked the Automatic Pilot. “I don’t really go for all that hero hoo-hah. I’d like to walk back to the museum by myself. You know – a little solitude before the inevitable festivities.”

“Sure,” the Automatic Pilot replied, “anything  for the cable end who saved the planet Mars.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part sixty)

On board the Gravity Whelk, Kyboshed was describing events to Folie and Placebo…

“Now it’s got something substantial to grab,” he told them, “the Gravitonic beam can stop arsing about with the planet’s surface and start pulling Mars from its current orbit.”

“So, what – it’s now using Mars’ gravity against itself?” Folie offered.

“Pretty much.” Kyboshed agreed. “If it’s a tug-of-war, with the Gravitonic Multiplicitor as the rope, it should be a one-way street. Dark Space has a heck of a lot more gravititational power than a small, rocky planet. Excuse the mixed metaphor there: I don’t know what came over me.”

A similar conversation was taking place in the museum…

“Nice colour,” Jenson Prong observed. “I once had a bedspread that looked much like that. But my Mum accidentally boiled it with my soiled motocross jersey: it was never the same again”

Then, displayed in all the halls – most of them empty – a distant camera captured an important phase in the battle of gravity…

Dark Space held the Gravitonic Multiplicitor in an unbreakable embrace. Now it began to move backwards – or inwards – towards the sun…

…and the frozen Mars fled its eternal position in the Solar System as it unwillingly pursued its tormentor.

“Hurrah for Dark Space.” Frisby Mumph cried out with joy. “We’re on our way. Next stop – diametrically opposite Earth. We’re going to have a climate worth talking about. And we don’t care if it completely mucks up celestial mechanics: we can sort them out at a later date!”

And a short while later…

…a contented Folie found himself immersed in Dark Space.

“It is done.” The soundless voice spoke into his mind. “Mars has a new home. Now I shall be on my way. The cosmos is vast: but not so vast that it precludes the chance that we might meet again one day.”

“Bye, Dark Space.” Folie replied.

Then he was back on the bridge…

“Dark Space has gone.” He told the others. “We should too. Last one there is a rotten egg.”

Moments later…

“Yeah, okay,” the Automatic Pilot’s voice echoed around the empty bridge, “I’ll stay and monitor the situation and stop us falling into a planet or something. Don’t worry about me.”

And, indeed, the paltry crew didn’t worry about the Automatic Pilot: they were too busy in the Fantadanta Room, dispensing celebratory mugs of delicious Cafe Blurgh…

“I want a Crappachino.” Placebo complained.

“You’ll get whatever this machine chooses to dispense.” Folie replied as he punched the keypad. “Whatta ya want, Bo?”

Then it was the time that Folie had been longing for – at least since he discovered that the Engineering lavatory had been ejected into space…

“Ah,” he sighed, “a Colon Evacuation Device. All this and Heaven too.”

Below them, upon Mars, Frisby wasn’t quite so content: he’d just seen the remnants of his cherished (if stunted) terrestrial forest poking out of the ground like long-lost fence posts…

“Bloody fire storms,” he grumbled. “Now I’ll have to start all over again.”

And when he and Lillie took the opportunity to look out of the cargo door, they found a world almost overwhelmed with wind-blown dust…

“This is going to give the extractors a hard time.” Lillie opined. “Fortunately I got in a whole bunch of new filters only last month.”

“Well done, Lillie.” Frisby said with a Fatherly smile, “I always knew you were the right girl to be my assistant – even if you didn’t.”

Then a thought occurred…

“Oh cripes, Lillie,” he said, “with so much work to do, I’m going to have to bring that lunatic, Badgerlilly out of suspended animation.”

“That’s fine, Frisby.” Lillie replied, “With so many frightened customers in the museum, there’s bound to be piles of nice fresh manure for her plants.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-nine)

Massive discharges from global electrical storms lashed the surface of the planet…

Frisby and the others stood resolutely as they watched it on the monitor…

To their credit, the engineers were pretty good at standing resolutely too…

…even when the storm redoubled its efforts to scare the heck out of them…

In space, the Gravity Whelk could do nothing now, but watch from a safe distance…

“I hope that’s not the atmosphere that’s getting sucked away.” Folie said nervously. “That could prove problematical.”

“Nah, it’s alright,” Bo Smidgin replied, “the rest of the planet will catch up.”

Heedless of the dangers – real or imagined – William of Porridge and Lillie stood together on the metallic apron that surrounded the museum…

“Look at that.” William said as he held his beloved Lillie to him, “Nasty.”

“Oh, William,” Lillie replied, “I might appear so frightened that I’ll likely wet myself: but I’m not. Not all the time that you’re with me. I know that with you here I can’t be hurt. You wouldn’t let it happen.”

It was some compliment…

…but, as the lighting altered even more, William couldn’t be sure that it was entirely accurate. So he said: “Oh, in that case, p’raps we’d better get indoors.”

Then the winds that Sir Dodger had more-or-less promised arrived – tearing at the sandy Martian surface…

…and scattering it far and wide. Monitors relayed the image to empty halls…

…because those visitors, who might have been in those halls were, instead, standing in line for the lavatories…

“Will you hurry, Gerhardt,” Doubry Furkins complained, “I have large trousers – and I don’t want to fill them!”

In some places the vast strain upon the planet’s surface caused more magma to erupt through the weak points created by the rocket attack. Fire storms swept across the land…

Inside the museum one particularly brave visitor watched as one approached…

His resulting alarm caused the passing Tangerine to say: “Do not concern yourself, Visitor: this museum is equipped with a futuristic sprinkler system that pre-empts any fire and extinguishes it before it gets here. But, whatever you do, don’t open that door: you’ll confuse the sensors.”

Crevice McNally, Treacle Fagging, Clifton Wedge, and Glen Watkins were doing much the same on the opposite side of the building…

“Don’t worry, Glen,” Clifton mouthed-off like he was an expert on the subject of fire storms, “you wanna be more like me. I don’t let silly little things like fire storms concern me. No, what you want…”

But when he spotted the sheer size of the approaching holocaust…

…his mouth stopped working, and his backside took over with a series of terrified staccato barks that were almost as offensive as the view outside. Not that it affected Crevice McNally: he was too far into denial to notice them. But just as everyone thought that destruction was unavoidable, the gravitonic beam struck bedrock…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-eight)

Within moments the Automatic Pilot brought the ship closer so that the crew could check the Gravitonic Multiplicitor for crash damage…

When it received the information that all was well, it fired up the main drive and eased away…

…before showing off by circling back and performing a fly-past…

Then it left the device alone in the darkness of space…

…which was quickly replaced by the light of the manoeuvring thrusters that Bo had fitted…

Below, in the museum, engineers roved in packs – battening down hatches and turning off the gas, water and sewerage systems…

…whilst Frisby, Lillie, William of Porridge, Charles De Glop, and Tangerine stood idly by and awaited their fate.

High above, the Gravitonic Multiplicitor made its final thruster burn…

…before settling nicely into a high geo-synchronous orbit.

Uncertain what to do next, and not wanting to be alone with their thoughts and fears, many of the museum’s engineers joined their boss in one of the halls…

“Won’t be long now, boys and girls,” Frisby said in a grim voice. “We have plenty of cameras: we shouldn’t miss a thing.”

It was at this point that the Gravitonic Multiplicitor swivelled upon its axis…

…and selected a distant point upon the surface of Mars that was its intended target. Then came a pause, and it seemed that the stars themselves dimmed in recognition of the immensity of what was about to unfold…

Then, when everyone watching finally ran out of breath and gasped for air, this happened…

Quickly followed by this…

And those who weren’t already screaming, decided to. Especially when the gravitonic beam hit the planet…

Scur-runch!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-seven)

Shortly after that the Gravity Whelk launched upon its historic mission…

As it passed from the atmosphere into the airlessness of space, Dark Space visited Folie…

“I am leaving you now, Folie.” It said. “Thanks for the ride – and for opening my intellectual eyes. I am not the same alternate realm I was when I snared this vessel. You have given my existence purpose. Or you have given purpose to my existence – depending on how you like your grammar. Now complete your mission: eject the Gravitonic Multiplicitor.”

By now the Gravity Whelk had come to a full stop far from the influence of Mars’ gravity…

“Decompressing Engineering and cutting artificial gravity.” Folie announced.

A split second later everyone heard an impact and the rending of metal. Instantly the ship went to Crimson Alert…

“What is it?” Folie yelped. “Is it hung up on something?”

But a quick look at the main viewer told him that the Gravitonic Multiplicitor was free from the ship’s restraint…

“Looking good.” Bo Smidgin said calmly. “Lots of metal fragments – all from the Gravity Whelk.

“Yeah, that’s what worries me.” Folie replied. “I’m going to take a look.”

Moments later the young earplug poked his head into what remained of Engineering…

“Well it’s re-pressurised okay.” He called back into the bridge.

Then he looked up…

What he saw made him wander farther into the compartment; lean back; and make a serious survey of the damage…

“Oh, Guys,” he called again, “you know that soft-top roof we have on Deck One? Well now we’ve got one here too!

And please tell me no one was using the toilet when we decompressed.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Revel in the Ribaldry 30

It’s been a while since the last bout of ribaldry-revelling. Since this e-book…

…gets the lion’s share of my affections, I chose, this time, to delve into the rude wonders of this one…

…which is a double sequel – to The Psychic Historian AND this e-book…

So, you could be forgiven for thinking that it must contain all the qualities of both. And you’d be right. Here’s a random excerpt…

The next reader didn’t arrive in a cloud of smoke; appear from thin air; or present himself in an imaginatively spectacular manner as many had expected: Instead he merely ambled into view upon rickety legs from his perch upon a roughly-hewn log at the rear of the audience. But when he spoke everyone was absolutely certain that the being that now stood with his be-whiskered snout to the microphone could only be, without the faintest doubt, the elderly owner of The Where House – Boney Legge himself.

“I aint much good at public speakin’.” He announced. “In fact I aint much on speakin’ at all. I just likes to ogle and complain – in that order; or, dependin’ on me mood, goin’ for a shit at inopportune moments. But like the rest of us what live hereabouts I keep a diary, and for some reason the ghost of Freda Bludgeon took mine and made somethin’ out of it. She had no choice of course, coz it’s me what wrote the next bit of the story. But coz as an orator I’m total crap, I’m gonna ask my android friend, Colin, to do the talkin’ for me. How does that sound to you lot?”

“If it means that we don’t have to listen to you mangle the Hamster-British language anymore, that’s just fine.” Molly Horseblanket yelled from her seat beside her son, Horatio.

Boney nodded enthusiastically. He then waved to someone in the shadows. Moments later the tall, handsome, artificial hamster strode to the dais; hopped aboard; and gave the audience one of his toothy smiles for which he was almost famous.

“Well isn’t this a lot of fun, Boney?” He said. “I do love a nice chin wag on a sub-zero evening.”

Boney wasn’t sure that he would describe the current situation as ‘fun’: He’d rather be tucked up nice and warm in front of the brazier in his foldaway scooter park; perhaps playing darts at the Mouldy Lectern public house; or even watching nothing happen on the CCTV monitors in his security office whilst wrapped up in his favourite duvet, and supping on luke-warm cocoa. But he had to admit that it wasn’t exactly the worst type of torture that he was experiencing right now, and he consoled himself with the thought that his mere presence there that night might inspire one or two of the audience to spend a couple of Rodentos, and visit his emporium of alien artefacts, and possibly keep him financially solvent for another week.

“Yeah.” He replied, and tried a patently false smile that somehow came across as a lecherous leer, which frightened Farmer Niblet so badly that she squealed loudly, and instructed her husband, Farmer Tablet, to “skewer the deviant with your pitchfork, my dearest”.

Fortunately for the evening’s proceedings, Farmer Tablet seldom did as he was instructed. Instead gave Boney a cheerful ‘thumbs-up’.

Colin didn’t really need to clear his throat in preparation to speak; but he found that generally it got everyone’s attention rather well, especially when he turned his volume control up to ‘ten’ – nearly frightening people stupid in the process. And so it was that evening in Danglydong Dell – when he accidentally wound up his volume dial to eleven, and instead frightened Wendy Nuthatch stupid.

Blubbersday, the Forty-sixth of Plinth. Like the other two parties before them, the group that was psychically protected by Primrose Pickles entered Far Kinell through one of the four main gates. In their case it was the rickety old Historic gate, where market stalls had been set up that sold ‘old fashioned’ or ‘retro’ stuff – like woollen bloomers; clogs; wooden false teeth; earthenware bed-warmers; beetroot wine; and a plethora of multifarious strap-on dildos.

For a brief moment Colin was quite taken by the latter, and even went so far as to study one or two of them minutely.

“Ere,” Boney called down to him from the broad back of Gargantua the giant cavy, “leave them fake dicks alone. Nothing good can come of tinkerin’ with the unnatural.”

“But I’m unnatural.” Colin reminded his current owner. “There isn’t a natural product in my body. And I was just wondering if I could utilise one of these as an addendum to my ‘special tool’. It could be fun. I could frighten sailors with it.”

Boney had to think about this for a few seconds. “Yeah that sounds alright.” He replied finally, “Maybe we can mass produce ‘em too, and sell ‘em as advanced alien trinkets. They don’t have no patent laws in this world, do they?”

It was a brilliant idea, and Colin duly flicked a few coins in the vendor’s direction, and snatched up the largest, most impressive specimen on his stall. It wobbled alarmingly in his paw as he walked away, and appeared almost too real for comfort. “Indeed they don’t.” He said quietly.

Primrose, meanwhile, was reconnoitring the immediate area with all six senses. She cocked her head upon one side – as if listening to something that no one else could hear.

Gargantua noticed this, and immediately he began mimicking her.

“What are you doing?” Primrose inquired.

“Hoping that whatever you’ve got rubs off on me.” Gargantua replied. “Maybe I can

be the first recorded psychic cavy in history.”

Primrose was instantly fascinated. “Do they keep such records in Prannick?”

Gargantua shrugged his shoulders, which almost flipped Boney from his elevated perch. “Somewhere in some secretive cubby hole of The Wheel they do, no doubt.” He said.

Primrose’s fascination dissipated. “I’m trying to sense Tybrow Mooney’s presence, or at least his spore.” She spoke sternly, “Don’t interrupt with mindless trivialities.”

Colin arrived. He waved his wobbly dildo in Primrose’s direction. “What do you think of this, Primrose?” He asked politely.

Primrose wasn’t really paying much attention. “Lovely.” She said absentmindedly.

“Would you like me to go back and buy one for you?” Colin offered generously, “There was a sign that said ‘One size fits all’. Obviously I wouldn’t know what that means, but I’m sure it must be a positive attribute.”

Primrose then noticed the dildo as it wobbled like an elongated jellybean. “No!” She screamed. “It’s disgusting. Put it away.”

“You know those are exactly the same words that a police-female spoke when I got out my special tool during our last adventure on an alternate world.” Colin chuckled. “Lionel and Fanangy had to break me out of jail just a short while afterwards.”

“Hey!” Gargantua suddenly bellowed, “Maybe I aint no psychic, but my nose is smelling real good today. I smell cavy. One of ‘em is a foreign cavy too. It’s got the unmistakable pong of Sponx royal finery about it.”

“Margarita?” Primrose cried out in hopeful wonderment.

Again Gargantua shrugged his mighty shoulders. “Do I know this Margarita?” He inquired from behind suspicious eyes.

As Boney scrabbled to retain his tenuous grip upon the flanks of his mount, Primrose mentally slapped her wrist. “No, or course not.” She answered. “Silly me. Now tell me – does your sensitive nose detect the aroma of a Law Master’s saddle?”

Gargantua scented the air. “Yeah,” he answered in surprise, “I do. All sweating ass-hole stuff. You know it reminds me of the time when I was a Law Master’s mount. Great days. Great days indeed – what with all that driving peasants from their hovels, and chasing Stix across the countryside until they dropped from heat exhaustion or threw themselves down holes. Then I got sold to Lucas Cleats of course. It was still fun after that – but a different kind’a fun. Not so much Stix chasing; but loads’a abbey crushing and Law Master mangling. But it quickly palled, and I became disillusioned. So when you lot came along I saw it as a perfect opportunity to right some wrongs. As a result – here I am. Ta-dah!”

“Don’t he go on!” Boney complained. “It’s enough to make me ears come out in sympathy with me aching knees.”

But Primrose hadn’t been listening. Instead she strode forward through the market place, and headed straight for the only building in town that had rented rooms with adjoining stables.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Obviously I don’t need to remind you that this e-book is available at various outlets – some of which are mentioned on the sidebar. They include the publishers Lulu.com

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-six)

It was snowing again, some while later outside the Future Museum of Mars…

…when Frisby, accompanied by his right-hand-girl, Lillie, stood at a cargo door and watched the weather. But neither of them noticed the inclement conditions. They were there, trying to clear their minds before they had to announce the great plan of planetary salvation to the museum’s visitors. Frisby decided to play it straight…

“Right, you lot,” he said to the small knot of customers who had bothered to respond to his summons on the public address system, “I’ve got some scary news for you all. I want you to listen carefully.”

The word ‘scary’ brought forth an influx of eager visitors…

“Yeah,” he continued once the resulting hubbub had lessened, “really scary.”

This time the word impinged upon the consciousness of three members of Las Chicas De La Playa as they went in search of a nail varnish machine…

With no nail varnish machine within sight, they turned their attention to the growing crowd…

“In fact,” Frisby added for emphasis, “it would probably be a good idea to carry at least one change of underwear wherever you go.”

“And some moist toilet tissue.” Lillie added helpfully.

Well this had everyone hooked. Silence reigned like never before…

Then Frisby told them of the plan. “It’s gonna get rough.” He concluded without hesitation. “I don’t know how rough: but moving an entire planet closer to the Sun doesn’t come without massive disturbance.”

“There’s bound to be a lot of wind.” Sir Dodger informed them. “And not all of it outside the museum.”

“And tectonic movement.” Lillie added.

“Not all of it outside the museum too, I’d wager.” William of Porridge whispered in her ear.

“Dinner’s off.” Charles De Glop announced. Then by way of explanation he added: “I can’t work whilst all my utensils are being cast around the kitchen like disturbed spirits.”

“In summation, the only positive thing I can say,” Frisby finished, “is that there shouldn’t be any plague and pestilence.”

“Unless, of course, the tectonic movements disturb some long-buried virus below ground that rises up and wipes us out.” William added. “But I feel that’s unlikely.”

So the crowd broke up in sombre mood. But Lillie was anything but. She dragged William along to a Ladies Outfitters…

“Right then, William.” She said, “I’m going to go inside this futuristic changing room: I want you to look the other way.”

William did as he was bid…

…but he felt terribly tempted to take a peek. So, to calm himself he wandered to and fro…

…and wondered why it took so long for one female to try on one garment. Then, as his patience neared breaking point, he heard his name whispered. Turning around he was smacked in the face by astonishment…

“Lillie,” he yelled, “you’ve ditched your tatty old pressure suit!”

Lillie was as thrilled as William. “Yes,” she squealed with feminine delight, “I’m wearing regular ‘girly’ stuff. What do you think?”

“Think?” William responded. “I can barely think at all. I am overcome by your loveliness. By the Saint of All Earplugs: I was proud to have you on my arm before: now…

…I’m going to parade you around the museum for all to see!”

“And this outfit is thermal too.” An excited Lillie replied as they made their way to the exit. “We can outside, and I won’t freeze to death.”

So they did…

…and William suspected that Mars had never seen such beauty walk its surface.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

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

A half-hour later Frisby and Bo explained to Kyboshed that they had finished unbolting the Gravitonic Multiplicitor from the deck…

“Now we can jettison it into space.” Frisby finished.

“But I don’t understand.” The robot replied. “This is Engineering: we have no cargo door or aperture large enough to allow egress for the Gravitonic Multiplicitor.”

“We didn’t say it was going to be easy,” a surprisingly ebullient Bo answered, “it will require some lateral thinking.”

“Ah,” Kyboshed said, he thought knowingly, “you’re going to dismantle it and pass it through the Space Vents in the ceiling; then reassemble it in the vacuum of space whilst wearing pressure suits.”

Folie overheard the unfamiliar term, Space Vents, and duly went to inquire…

Looking upwards he saw – for the first time since coming aboard the vessel weeks earlier…

“Hey,” he complained loudly, “I had no idea that vents opened directly onto space from here. It’s a terrible design: we could have been sucked into space without a moment’s warning. Also I note that the vents appear to be open: why aren’t we out there in space?”

“Force field, Folie.” Kyboshed explained. “It’s always on. It even has its own battery back-up in case the main power fails. And the vents automatically close in that eventuality too.”

“Great,” Folie said as he calmed down, “but why have them in the first place?”

“Two reasons.” Kyboshed explained further. “One: in the event of an uncontrollable fire in Engineering, the oxygen required for combustion can be vented into space instantaneously. Two: if we’re boarded by Space Pirates we can retreat to the bridge and blow them into space from there.”

“Oh, I like that.” Folie said as he felt himself warming to the design feature. “So we’re gonna dismantle the Gravitonic Multiplicitor and poke it out through those, are we?”

“No.” Bo replied. “I’ll explain on the way back to Mars.”

As they approached Mars, Folie still couldn’t quite believe what Bo and Frisby planned for the Gravitonic Multiplicitor.

“We can’t reassemble it in space.” Frisby had explained before disappearing into the toilet. “It’s too complicated. And we don’t have space suits. Well I do, but it’s old and tatty and not worth a fart.”

“We’re gonna cut the artificial gravity,” Bo said, “and let it float out through the openings.”

“But it’s bigger than the openings.” Folie pointed out the obvious.

“No problem.” Bo had replied. “The Gravitonic Multiplicitor is made on Scroton from a very dense material. It’s much stronger than the metal used on the Space Vents. It will simply barge its way out of Engineering. We can fix the vents later at the Future Museum of Mars.”

It was all perfectly logical, and soon the Gravity Whelk began its descent to the planet’s surface…

Once back in the museum, Frisby made contact with the Muffins in the ancient citadel…

He spoke with the blue-brained scientific chief, Gargling Vastium…

After explaining their plan he added: “Well, what do you think, Gargling?”

Naturally Gargling was excited at the prospect of a huge scientific experiment that pushed the boundaries of what was practicable. “Yo, man,” he cried, “go for it. But you’d better check with the politicians first: they might get really miffed at being left out of the loop.”

So it was a call to the uniped, Klurk that Frisby made next…

Naturally Klurk took some advice from his aid, Radvalve Thermostatic, before replying…

“We have no concept of a dual party political system on the planet you know as Mars,” Klurk informed Frisby and those watching, “so if anything goes disastrously wrong, the opposition can’t haul us over the coals in parliament for making a bad decision. We trust you, Frisby. You have our permission to save the world.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Lulu.com Vs Earplug Adventures

I’ve been using the on-line publishers, Lulu.com since I published my first book in 2009. For ten years our relationship was harmonious. Then, in 2019 they went for a massive re-build of their systems – and disaster followed. Authors across the globe cried into their word processors. It was an almighty fuck-up of literary biblical proportions. I won’t detail my concerns, but since I don’t sell enough books to worry my bank balance, I sat it out and waited for them to sort out the mess. Others jumped ship. But by the time that I was ready to publish again – following my wife’s passing – their ‘new’ system (although a pale reflection of the excellent former system) seemed to be working okay. It was shit; hard to fathom; un-helpful; and total bollocks: but I was willing to give them another chance. At first all seemed well: volumes 1&2 of A Tale of Three Museums went into global distribution – eventually: but 3 seemed mired in no-mans-land. Apparently there was something wrong with it, but Lulu didn’t seem keen on specifics. So I went through the manuscript and cover image with a fine-tooth comb. All was  well, with the exception of a slightly over-spec resolution on the book cover. So I made it the equal of volumes 1& 2, and duly republished. Lulu never got back to me on the subject; but the book didn’t make it into global distribution. But, considering what I’ve experienced in recent times, it was no big deal. I let it ride. But tonight I attempted to publish Vol 1 of Haunted Mars. To say their system tried my patience is the understatement of the year. No matter what I selected: what box I ticked or unticked; what file was downloaded, uploaded, reloaded, nothing could get the bloody book published. Apparently – and I use the word ‘apparently’ because nothing on their site is clear and simple – I could only buy the book myself; no one else could see it; and it didn’t have a cover image. So I removed all the Earplug Adventures from sale. I couldn’t delete them – that’s not possible these days: I could only ‘retire’ them. The whole point of author-controlled  on-line publishing is that the author chooses what gets published, and what happens to the work afterwards. Well that’s how it used to be: but the new-look Lulu isn’t the outfit I signed up to in 2009. I’ve left my serious books and the hamster-fiction up there for now – after all they’ve been there long enough that they have cyber cobwebs hanging from them. But, if I’m to share my stories with you, I’m going to need a new plan. A new publisher perhaps? Any suggestions? I’d really like to see these books out there…

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-four)

Naturally Bo shouted: “Abort! Abort! Get us the heck back to Mars!”

Equally naturally Placebo had already reacted to the potentially disastrous situation by turbo-boosting all the way to the doomed planet in a blind panic, and soon the Gravity Whelk was descending gracefully through a surprisingly azure sky upon Autopilot…

“Well that didn’t work.” Folie complained as he wiped sweat from his brow, “I suppose we’ll have to think of something else. It was such a good idea too: what a shame we can’t make it happen.”

Placebo might have replied with some inanity designed to calm his friend’s tattered nerves; but Folie never heard it, because…

…he found himself ensnared within Dark Space.

“Lucky it wasn’t me piloting.” He complained. “Snatching me away like that…well we could have piled into the Martian surface and become a flaming ruin.”

Dark Space decided to ignore the earplug’s outburst: “That experiment was foolhardy.” It said. “Had I not been there to use my vast gravimetric energy to save the Gravity Whelk impacting on the Sun, it would have been a complete failure – as well as a disaster for you, Placebo, and everyone else.”

Folie was placated in an instant. “That was you?” He said gratefully. “I thought it was just blind chance – or maybe the legendary Saint of All Earplugs.”

Again Dark Space ignored Folie: “But it did give me an idea. I am aware of your attempts to save the planet below from ecological disaster – again. The Scrotonite’s plan for using the Gravitonic Multiplicitor is ingenious – but flawed. Without something that has greater gravity than Mars for it to anchor itself to, the planet cannot be moved.”

A slight pause developed. Folie filled it with: “And?”

“I can be that greater gravity source.” Dark Space finally volunteered.

Folie, being surprisingly quick-witted when in the company of Dark Space, thought he could see a flaw in the alternate realm’s logic: “But you have no mass.” He pointed out. “You’re integrated into the deck, yet you disturb no atoms and add no weight to the ship. In fact, instead of slowing it down, you make it go faster.”

“Exactly.” Dark Space said with a hint of triumph in its telepathic voice. “I make it go faster by adding my great gravitonic energy to the thrusters. Of course it will mean that I will have used up most of my energy reserves; but, hey, someone’s gotta stop roving some time: and this Solar System of yours looks kind’a nice: A pleasant blue habitable world full of interesting intelligences: two – if I strut my funky stuff sho’nuf.”

Folie didn’t require any further convincing…

“Placebo,” he yelled, “don’t land: get this ship back into space!”

Placebo, slightly annoyed at the loud shouting in his ears, trusted his friend’s judgement implicitly and hit the launch motors. Seconds later the ship was clawing its way spaceward…

In the Fantadanta Room, Frisby and Bo were caught off-guard…

Bo expressed some little-known Scrotonite expletives, and Frisby asked: “Hey, what gives?”

Folie quickly explained.

“We’ll be right there.” Bo replied.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Spoiled Illusions 7: The Factory Toilet!

Are you one of those who, upon watching a DVD check out the extras, which often include a Making Of clip. I used to; but I don’t anymore: I don’t like to see the illusion spoiled. But just in case you are, here’s a little Earplug Adventures illusion spoiler.

Sometimes, during my working day – when things had gone a little quiet – I would steal away to shoot Earplug Adventure scenes. One of my preferred places was the ever-reliable lavatory – a place that quaranteed anonimity and freedom from intrusion – though, it must be said, lacking in many artistic opportunities. In my latter working days, this particular loo proved a boon to my story-telling…

Positioned at the end of a row of cubicles, it was very cramped, and drafty (in winter), with a tendency to block easily. It was unpopular – so it became my go-to-loo for shooting earplugs. Here it is in all its interior glory…

I imagine you’re thinking, “Not a lot of creative potential there.” But you may not have factored in the genius of the Earplug Adventures creator. Look at that narrow shelf and structural support tubes…

Why, the potential is almost unlimited. Check this out: the very first shot taken (17/08/2017) in the ‘new’ factory bog…

With a little plastic widget for a ‘prop’ doorway, it’s two of the dancing girls from ‘The Missing‘.

In contrast, here’s the last picture taken there, in early 2020…

It utilizes the diagonal support tubes as they intersect the shelf. I didn’t know that it was the last shot at the time, of course. I also didn’t know that this character would appear in ‘Haunted Mars’ and be named Mulleon Cleets.  And I certainly never imagined that it would become an exit from a cave.

After moving to the ‘new’ factory in 2017, most of my shooting took place at home. But there were times – when a new idea arrived – that I’d need to shoot then and there, before the thought escaped. Here’s a shot from ‘Mutant Island’ that used the top of the cistern for the first time…

It would be used again, fear not, as proven by this scene from ‘The Grand Tour‘…

…in which a desperate photographer needed an access tunnel for his characters to emerge from, but could only find the toilet roll. Desperate times: desperate measures. But I’m sure it was entirely convincing  within the story itself. And it was only half a toilet roll after all. And I did squash it slightly.

Speaking of toilet rolls – look how handy their  dispensers can become…

Yes, it’s the scene from ‘Distant Land‘ in which the reader is introduced to Placebo Bison. I didn’t figure he’d get a sequel at the time. But then why should I: I never plan anything.

So, finally, we come to the…ah…final example of lavatorial inspiration. It’s the opposite end of the shelf, where the bitter Winter wind blows into the bog in an uninterrupted manner. Prior to plugging it with a length of polystyrene, I snapped this shot for ‘The Time Tamperer…

Hopefully it conveys the idea of distance beyond the well-lit area. I’m sure it does.

In the next episode we’ll be looking at other locations around my former workplace – many of which were opportunistic. By that I mean I shot some piccies with no plan whatsoever – before the location changed beyond recognition, or disappeared somewhere on the back of a lorry. It was a working factory after all!

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-three)

Naturally Frisby – himself no slouch when it came to engineering – and Kyboshed bent themselves to the task of assisting the being from Scroton. It continued that way for an unmeasured amount of time…

Eventually Bo was forced to call a temporary halt whilst he stopped for a lavatory break…

“Would you look at that!” He exclaimed on the way to the toilet with a revolving door and a pink light above it. “We’re in space, and I didn’t even feel us launch.”

Frisby was a mud-plugger: he didn’t like the limitless openness of outer space. “Yeah,” he grumbled. “Great innit?”

But he was even less impressed when he discovered an original Anton Twerp hanging on the wall. In fact he was so less impressed that he walked on by without making mention of it…

But Bo felt differently. “I like this.” He gushed. “I really, really like it.” Then he had a thought: “Kyboshed; do you think Folie and Placebo would mind terribly if I purloined this? It would look wonderful in my toilet.”

But soon it was back to work…,

Bo felt the need to survey the situation from every observation point available to him. Even really high ones with no safety rails or parachutes…

And it helped too! “Hmmm,” he hummed. He then expanded on his thought processes: “The Gravitonic Multiplicitor should be pointed at Mars and activated. With any luck it should latch on to the planet in exactly the same manner that the tractor beam did in the Galactic Lens – all those years ago for Beaufort and Richter Skail.”

Frisby foresaw a problem. “But all that will accomplish is the ship being pulled down towards Mars’ surface quicker than its engines can keep it up here.”

Bo hadn’t thought of that. “I hadn’t thought of that.” He confessed. “It’s what comes of taking a cable end out of his natural environment and turning him into a property developer with no imagination or soul. Okay, let’s think about this. What do we need to make this work?”

“Something heavier than the ship and Mars for the Gravitonic Multiplicitor to pull against.” Kyboshed suggested.

Bo threw a glance out through a high window in the Fantadanta Room. “Yeah,” he said, “we’ve got one of those.”

Two minutes later the Gravity Whelk was passing behind the Sun, directly opposite the orbit of Mars…

“We’re in position.” They heard Folie’s voice over the ship-wide intercom…

“Excellent,” Bo said without looking up from the Information Matrix Globe, “now point the Gravitonic Multiplicitor at where I’ve calculated Mars should be, and give it a half-second blast.”

A half-second (and the time it took for Placebo to line up the Gravitonic Multiplicitor; select the timer; and to press the button) later…

“Why has the light outside gone all funny?” Bo demanded.

On the bridge Folie and Placebo were almost speechless…

After several seconds of uncontrolled shaking, Folie managed: “Because we’re ever so slightly nearer the Sun than we were a half-second ago…

…A whole lot nearer!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-two)

Fifty-eight minutes later, Folie, Placebo, and Kyboshed entered the engineering section of the Gravity Whelk

“While we’re waiting for our guests,” Folie said to Kyboshed, “you check out all these winky lights: Placebo and I will warm up the pilot’s seats.”

Of course the robot was more than happy to comply with Folie’s instruction, but time was not on his side. A minute and a half later he received a call that informed him that Frisby and Bo were standing in the cold outside the airlock. Naturally he wasted no time allowing them ingress…

“Welcome aboard the Gravity Whelk.” He said to his guests. “I don’t suppose for a moment that either of you want to arse about with unnecessary preliminaries: I expect you’d like to get stuck in with your inspection. What would you like to see first?”

Folie had been listening in the corridor outside Engineering. From there he rushed back into the bridge…

“They’re on board.” He said to Placebo. “Start the engines: let’s get this boat where it belongs.”

Moments later the ship launched…

…quickly levelling off and streaking across the ice-sheet…

…towards the precisely calculated geographic point from where it would climb up the gravity well of Mars, and thence into orbit.

Bo had suggested to Frisby that they first conduct a search for technical information in the ship’s records. So Kyboshed took them to the room with no title…

“I noticed the lack of a nomenclature plaque upon the door.” Frisby said – most eloquently, or so thought Bo. “What do you call this compartment?”

“We don’t call it anything.” Kyboshed replied accurately.

Frisby was puzzled: “But it must have a name?”

Kyboshed was perfectly nonchalant when he answered: “Probably, but we have no idea what it is. If Folie wants a coffee, he merely informs Placebo that he is going to fetch a delicious mug of Cafe Blurgh: he has never mentioned where he gets it from.”

“You could call it the Coffee Room.” Frisby suggested. “After all, one day it might be important that this room is labelled. Like people, rooms should always be labelled.”

“Very well.” Kyboshed replied. “I now designate this room as the Fantadanta Room.”

This caught the attention of Bo Smidgin: “Professor Eduardo Fantadanta, the brilliant roboticist?” He inquired.

“Indeed.” Kyboshed replied. “I name this room after the cable end that gave me sentience. I’ll inform the others later – when I take them each a delicious mug of Cafe Blurgh.”

But Bo had already lost interest: all his attention was upon the golden Information Matrix Globe. “Ah, this is what we’re after. If the engineers on Scroton were believers in the old maxims of Scroton, they should have taken information from this globe; then replaced it with more information from the records in Scroton Prime. This could be a treasure trove of technical info. Where’s the ‘On’ button?”

Frisby had no idea, so he went to help himself to a delicious mug of Cafe Blurgh. This coincided with the ship breaking free of Mars’ puny gravity…

…and slipping into a low orbit…

“Doesn’t Mars look strange?” Folie said. “Mostly ice, but with bits of land poking through it.”

“Pretty.” Placebo agreed. “But, if we’re not successful, it’s ultimately doomed.”

Meanwhile Bo had decided to consult the ship’s log…

“That’s interesting.” He said as the information flashed by his ocular organs. “Apparently this ship once pulled itself out of a Galactic Lens by means of attaching the ship to a distant planet via tractor beam. It’s been high-lighted by some observant engineer on Scroton. It could be significant. All Cable Ends are born engineers; but I railed against the tyranny of familial expectations and became a property developer. But my instincts remain intact: and those instincts are telling me that I’m on to something here.  Let’s see if there is any follow-up info on the subject.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-one)

Bo Smidgin’s next encounter came during his passage of a recently re-painted vermillion section of the museum. But, due to indifference to anything beyond his immediate goal, he failed utterly to spot husband-seeking Patti Roularde making eyes at him…

“Oh, well,” Patti said with a sigh as Bo passed her by without so much as a grunt of acknowledgement, “his nostrils were too close together anyway.”

Then, as he stepped into a large auditorium, Bo’s gaze alighted upon Kyboshed…

“By The Golden One’s Big Blue Plume,” he exclaimed sotto voce, “that robot is Scrotonic. This must be the sign I’ve been waiting for. But what shall I do? There’s no point in acting in haste. I know: I’ll follow them; listen to what they have to tell Frisby Mumph; then make a decision. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. Brilliant plan, Bo.”

Well Bo didn’t have to tail the new-comers for very long: the meeting room was just off the auditorium…

“So,” Sir Dodger opened, “you chaps have come here to save us, eh? Thought up some wizard means yet, have you?”

Of course Folie had to admit the complete opposite. But when it appeared that Frisby was about to hyperventilate at the news, Placebo made the inspired choice of inviting Frisby aboard the Gravity Whelk. “Perhaps,” he said in conclusion, “you can turn your improvisational skills loose on our vessel. We may have the means to save everyone: but it could be you who recognises it.”

These words were exactly what Bo had most wanted to hear…

He was now certain that the moment of the miracle, which would  save Mars, was beginning its gestation period. So, as Frisby and the others discussed the invitation, unseen by any of them, Bo slipped away …

He now had to pick his time and his words perfectly: and right now he had no idea what either of them looked like. So he returned to the chill of the futuristic toilet…

…to mull things over in his mind, and to complete his task of earlier.

“Now where do they keep the toilet tissue?” He complained.

But he didn’t have very long to do his mulling – or anything else for that matter. Already he could hear the voices of the Gravity Whelk crew passing by outside. So, as quickly and as subtly as he could, he followed them…

It was the sight of Kybosh that gave Bo’s thoughts the wings they most required. Taking a short-cut to where he calculated Kybosh and the others were heading, he raced ahead of them, and cut them off as they departed a section that had a nice door with a window in it that displayed the view outside…

His sudden arrival caught Placebo unawares. “Ugh?” He grunted. “You’re an Ethernet Cable End: what are you doing here? Did you stow away aboard our ship?”

This ridiculous accusation was just the sort of opening Bo would have prayed for, had he thought of anything so preposterous. “No,” he replied, “but I’d very much like to be included amongst those you have invited aboard your ship.”

“Is that right?” Folie said, with a slightly belligerent air. “Why would that be?”

“Your robot is of Scrotonic design and construction.” Bo replied in a voice that disguised his nervousness and fear of failure. “I am a property developer on Scroton – visiting Mars on business. Now if my theory is correct, since you have a robot amongst your crew, it is logical that your ship has undergone a re-fit, or had improvements made upon Scroton that require a Scrotonic engineer’s skills to maintain or operate.”

Folie was impressed: but he didn’t want to show it. “Yeah?” He replied – his tone not moderating by so much as a single degree, “what about it?”

Bo urged them to continue walking…

“I am of Scroton.” He said. “You have equipment of Scroton. I have an imagination – your robot does not. You may have the means to save Mars aboard your ship – but you just don’t recognise it.”

“That’s what Placebo said to Frisby Mumph.” Folie, unaware that Bo had listened to their conversation in the meeting room, replied.

“What do they say?” Bo said with a chuckle that was genuine. “Great minds think alike? Well, do I have permission to come aboard, Sir?”

Something in the cable end’s manner intrigued Folie. He certainly spoke sense. “Yeah,” he said with a slight smile, “you do. You can join Frisby Mumph in about an hour from now.”

So it was a happy Bo Smidgin who continued along the walkway with the crew of the Gravity Whelk...

…which stunned the Splints, who were walking in the opposite direction.

“Did you see that, Griselda?” Tobias said through a glazed expression. “Hob-nobbing with extra-terrestrials now!”

“Does he have no shame?” Griselda replied.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty)

They had a choice of two directions in which to move. They chose this way…

“It’s a fifty-fifty chance that this will take us to the door before the other direction.” Folie calculated.

“Unless it’s dead opposite here.” Kyboshed argued. “But then, if that is the case, I don’t suppose it would make any difference which direction we go in.”

Placebo didn’t care which direction they walked: he was just happy to be there. But his carefree attitude evaporated when Folie discovered the open cargo door and they all found themselves staring down a seemingly endless corridor…

“I thought you told them to leave a light on.” He said to Folie. “You know I don’t like the dark.”

But then a large quantity of snow slipped off the roof and pushed the trio into the icy corridor…

“Okay,” Folie said as he emerged from the sudden snowdrift, “I guess that’s given us the impetus we need: let’s go.”

Shortly after that they passed an interior observation window that happened to be manned by three members of the Sewage Workers Union…

“Will you look at that:” Marty Friedpants yelled, “Space Plugs! Well a Space Plug, a big white thing, and an alien robot anyway.”

“I’ll go tell someone.” Steven LaStool offered. “There should be a welcome committee waiting for them: it’s only proper.”

But, because of the emergency, and because almost everyone was in the main hall as a result, the only person Steven could find was Lillie Whitewater, who just managed to arrive a second or two after Folie, Placebo, and Kyboshed had let themselves in, and now stood at the top of the ramp…

Poor Lillie had no time to gather her wits. “Oh,” she began nervously. She quickly followed this with: “Um, yeah, right. You’re the guys from…ah…out there, right?”

Folie wasn’t much better: he’d recognised Lillie in an instant and was feeling rather overwhelmed by someone who had flown in her world’s very first star ship. He also thought she was rather pretty. “Ah…yeah…I guess so.” He managed.

This may have continued ad nauseum, but Lillie fought to regain the confidence that William had so recently instilled in her. She thought back to the day, in the Worstworld Academy, when she received her Flying Wings….

She had stood proudly at the front beside Gusi Ghandar. She recalled that the Johnsons – Huget and Betty had been there too – along with Ada Muffin, Lilac Earthdamsel (nee Binsmell), and a whole bunch of others who became stalwarts of the K T Woo’s crew.

“My name is Lillie Whitewater.” She announced to the new arrivals…

…”If you’d care to follow me, I’ll take you to see the curator – Frisby Mumph.” She then marched off, feeling very pleased with herself.

Only minutes earlier, Bo Smidgin had excused himself from company in the relative warmth of the main hall, and had slipped away to use the chill futuristic toilet…

It was here that he heard Steven LaStool’s loud exhortation that Lillie should go greet the occupants of the space ship that had recently landed nearby. Having travelled to the Solar System, aboard a small freighter from Scroton, he was intrigued by the idea that another vessel was within spitting distance. So he quickly pulled up his trousers and raced into an adjacent corridor – almost startling Tobias and Griselda Splint witless…

“Did you see that mindless oaf?” Tobias whispered to Griselda. “He almost startled me witless.”

“Indeed I did, Tobias.” Griselda replied, only far more loudly than her husband’s hushed tone, “I wonder what a creature so vile needs to rush around like that for. I’m going to complain to someone in authority: that blue helmet is an affront to anyone with an iota of fashion consciousness.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part forty-nine)

Whilst the snow storm continued unabated outside, Folie decided to check-out an item he’d noted in the inventory that he thought might come in handy. So, upon discovering the whereabouts of the Snow Skimmer, he kick-started its diesel engine into life…

Fortunately there was a pleasantly circular porthole through which the disgusting, sooty smoke could escape, so he didn’t succumb to smoke inhalation. But, because the ship had grounded at an angle, every time Folie attempted to climb the resulting gradient, the Snow Skimmer slid back down again…

…which quite amused him – at least initially. But following several unsuccessful attempts to gain the door, he was getting decided miffed. So Placebo – being larger and heavier – thought he might try it…

But, despite casting a silent plea in the assumed direction of the Saint of All Earplugs, Placebo had no more success than his diminutive friend. “I guess it was designed for flat surfaces like frozen lakes and such.” He said without rancour.

Folie was less tranquil on the subject: “Whoever designed this thing is a total prat.” He snarled. “Now we’ll have to walk!”

A short while later the last of the squall blew in some other poor unfortunate’s direction, leaving the Gravity Whelk open to the ravages of the feeble light thrown by a very distant Sun…

Folie had returned to the bridge for his pocket compass, but now encountered the difficulty of exiting it without crashing into either the Engineering lavatory or the Gravitonic Multiplicitor…

“I notice your magnetic butt has you firmly attached to the floor.” Folie said as he watched Kyboshed going about his duties below him. “I’m going to try sliding towards the door: catch me if I fall, okay?”

But being a talented young earplug with a good sense of balance, Folie made it to the corridor unscathed…

“That’s the really good thing about these moving corridors,” he observed and then stated his observation, “they move at angles. They are basically self-levelling corridors. No need for a plumb line or spirit level. I’m impressed: it makes getting around a leany-over ship much easier.”

“And the windows too.” Kyboshed said as he peered out into the brilliant light outside. “They match the level of the floor perfectly. Do you think I should switch off the landing lights? They’re blindingly bright.”

A short while later the three mobile members of the crew disembarked. None of them much liked the chill of the snow upon which they wished they’d not needed to walk…

“If I ever meet the designer of that snow skimmer…” Folie grumbled – without conclusion or positive effect.

And as a wind blew up suddenly, Placebo decided that he hated the designer too. And the manufacturing plant in which it had been constructed. In fact he hated the very concept of the vehicle…

“I have detected the whereabouts of the Future Museum of Mars.” Kyboshed informed the miserable duo. “We shouldn’t be long in these inclement conditions.”

Unfortunately Folie’s bladder was effected by the cold more adversely that Placebo’s. He needed to drop behind for a while…

But when his task was complete he found himself alone in the cold. For a moment fear clutched his bowels with a chainmail glove. But when he heard Placebo calling his name he cheered up…

…and followed the sound back to the others…

“Ooh, that was a close call.” He said. “We should learn from this experience. Next time one of us wants a wee in the snow, the other will have to stay behind with him.”

Then, from out of the swirling, wind-blown snow emerged their destination…

“Ah, will you look at that.” Folie said in admiration. “Real technology, sent back through time from the future.”

“Yeah,” Placebo seemed to agree. But he spoiled it slightly by adding: “Pity they couldn’t have positioned it a little bit closer. If they live in our future, they must have foreseen our arrival here. So why make us walk across the huge divide? For all we know, that snow could be hiding a bottomless crevasse.”

It was a good point well-made: but it was also entirely wrong; and within a couple of minutes they were clambering upon the museum’s metallic apron…

“Excellent.” Placebo said as he regained his breath. “Now all we need is a door.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part forty-eight)

Little did Placebo know it, but in his panic, he had pushed the ship’s ‘nose’ into a downward direction. In space ‘up’ and ‘down’ are meaningless: but above the surface of a world, they most definitely are not…

Naturally Folie reacted in the time-honoured fashion: he yelled: “Aargh!”

But Placebo, being slightly less excitable, merely closed his eyes and hoped it would all go away…

Fortunately the ship’s original builders had included a self-levelling mechanism, which…um…levelled the ship out at a safe altitude…

Placebo must have sensed this because he opened one eye. Folie didn’t need to sense anything: he’d watched it all with eyes wide open…

“Whew,” he prefixed a mental letter of thanks to the Saint of All Earplugs.

At their current speed the ship and passengers soon departed the coastline and set out across the glacier…

…where they hoped to spot the Future Museum of Mars, which, of course they did…

“Down there!” Down there!” Folie yelled. “Quick: turn us around.”

Placebo was still feeling a little under the weather from the shock of near-death, but he managed to bank right and put the ship on an approximate return course…

As his confidence returned, he said: “Should be coming up on it very soon. It’s just…”

But he said no more, because at that very moment another squall blew in off of the mountains and blinded the ship all over again…

Actually he did say more, but it was very rude and can’t be repeated here.

Folie noticed that the ship had gone to Violet Alert. “What does Violet Alert mean?” He asked no one in particular.

No one in particular was too frightened to respond as the ship once more went nose-heavy…

Then the Automatic Pilot regathered its cyber-wits and announced that…

…the ship was too low for the self-levelling mechanism to work.

“Pull up, Placebo.” Folie suggested through gritted teeth.

“Can’t,” Placebo replied, “one of my eyelids is stuck to the other.”

The Automatic Pilot then behaved professionally by cutting power to the drive, deploying the air-brakes, hitting the retro-boosters, igniting the landing jets, and shouting “Violet Alert: prepare for impact!”

The next moment the Gravity Whelk slumped into a snow drift like a sack of roasting potatoes dropped into a stagnant bog…

“We’re down.” The Automatic Pilot announced. “Not bad, all things considered.”

Although the ship hadn’t landed cleanly, it had managed to park itself only a short distance from the museum…

Of course, Frisby Mumph, watching on his monitor, was beside himself with rage…

But by the time he’d met with Sir Dodger it was clear that the occupants of the ship had survived, and he’d managed to calm himself sufficiently to lie through his teeth…

“Perfect landing.” He told the ageing thespian. “Well that’s some of our troubles sorted. I’m sure they’ll be over momentarily.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Spoiled Illusions 6: The Rude Disused Go-Kart Park Pallet

Are you one of those who, upon watching a DVD check out the extras, which often include a Making Of clip. I used to; but I don’t anymore: I don’t like to see the illusion spoiled. But just in case you are, here’s a little Earplug Adventures illusion spoiler.

There were many pallets and sheets of chipboard in use at my old place of work. Here is an example of a stack of them…

Now you might think this is a random selection, which, by chance, I had elected to elevate to a place of posterity upon the Internet. But no, look closely at that top pallet. It’s a strange example of the breed because it was made of a mysterious substance that looked and felt like concrete, and was impossible to lift without the aid of a fork-lift truck. It was also a perminent set for the Earplug Adventures. The subterranean go-kart park in the Museum of Future Technology, to be exact – a set that was used over and over throughout the earlier tales. That’s why you can see some tiny coloured objects in front of it, and a red sticker attached. Oh look, this it in action…

…in Museum of Terror. That’s Dan Down’n’out with his two slovenly wives. He was so poor that he lived in the go-kart park – along with some pigeon shit apparently. And it was still appearing (years after its demise) in later tales – namely in this shot from Haunted Mars

 

…where it had been placed upon a sheet of rockwall/plasterboard/pladur. Yes, it was a library shot – originally a bunch of earplugs waiting for a hover-train in an earlier story – minus the guano. It also existed in literary alternate realities, such as this one…

…featuring a nasty bunch of enforcers known as the Black Hatters in Evil Empire.

“But,” I hear you say, “what has this concrete pallet got to do with the word ‘rude’ in the title of this post?”

Well I’ll tell you…in a moment. First let me continue this tale. One day I arrived at work – to discover that the go-kart park had disappeared. In horror I went looking for it. After several panic-stricken minutes in the main warehouse I found it loaded with office equipment. Some bunch of dozy office workers had risked hernias lifting the concrete pallet down – where they could easily have used any number of lighter, more accessible wooden ones. Anyway I repacked their office equipment and stole my pallet away, where I kept it hidden in plain sight beneath the bottom strut of a racking system…

It did sterling work work there. And because it was so sodding heavy, no one ever bothered it. So, with it safely enconced, I was able to decorate it further. If you’re eagle-eyed enough, you might notice something written on the central ‘column’. Can’t quite read it? Here it is in close-up…

Yes, it’s earplug graffiti. And here it is in a story…

“Ugh?” you could be forgiven for uttering. “I don’t recall ever seeing ‘I Suck Dick’ in a lovely Earplug Adventure!”

Well, in the beginning, the earplug adventure books were rude. Very. But following some complaints I decided to re-write them as child-friendly. It was a good move: they were much improved. So, obviously this graffiti needed to be erased from every shot it appeared in. And, equally obviously, in shots where the erasing process looked odd, instead I substituted one of the words…

…and added a beam of sunlight. Much later I used the picture again as a night security camera shot…

Sadly, when the company re-located, the pallet had to remain behind in the old factory. But I snapped a few shots before I departed, and (chances are) they’ll appear as backgrounds in future shots from the Museum of Future Technology.

In fact one has already, as recently as A Tale of Three Museums...

Pretty convincing window, I think you’ll agree. Clever bastard, aren’t I?

Earplug Adventures © Paul Trevor Nolan

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part forty-seven)

So Folie did as he was bid, which didn’t put a smile on the Curator’s face exactly; but he did appear to de-stress slightly…

“I look forward to your arrival.” Frisby closed. “Mars out.”

He then strode across the room to where Sir Dodger Muir stood and awaited news…

“Spread the word, Dodge.” He said with a smile. “There’s a ship on the way. If we can evacuate the females, offspring, and old sods like you…well at least that’ll be something.”

Meanwhile, farther out in the Solar System…

“Right, then,” Folie said as they watched the Sun’s inexorable approach…

…”we’d better start checking out how much space we have on board.”

So, shortly…

…following a brief tour in which they discovered they had precious little cargo space, the trio began their march back to the bridge.

“I suppose we could put people up in the corridors.” Placebo suggested. “They do that a lot in hospitals where I come from.”

“Not really.” Folie replied. “The corridors keep moving, remember? We’ll have evacuees colliding with each other – even when they’re sitting perfectly still. And their lavatory needs will be a logistical nightmare: the toilet won’t know where to go first.”

“And the wash basin and hand drier.” Kyboshed added. “Paper towels too: very short supply. There was only ever supposed to be you two on board.”

The conversation continued in this vein whilst the ship rocketed past the Sun…

…and curved around in a vast parabola.

By now the owners and crew of the Gravity Whelk had reached the engineering section…

“Look, here’s a toilet.” Folie said. “I don’t mind sharing it with a load of people I’ve never met.”

“And there’s this huge piece of machinery.” Placebo observed. “That takes up a lot of space. If we get rid of it, maybe we could construct bunk beds in here.”

“But that’s the Gravitonic Multiplicitor.” Kyboshed said with a distinct note of disapproval in his cyber-tone. “You never know when a Gravitonic Multiplicitor might come in useful.”

Placebo was unconvinced, but let it pass. The ever-practical Folie was…ah…practical: “It’s too big for the door.” He said. “We couldn’t get it out if we wanted to.”

Further expenditure of mental energy upon the subject was interrupted by the Automatic Pilot’s voice echoing from the bridge:

“Mars dead ahead.” It said. “Anyone wanna see?”

Of course they all did, and it was only a short while later that the Gravity Whelk began its descent into Mars’ insubstantial atmosphere…

Naturally Placebo had demanded that he be allowed Helm Control…

…which he concentrated so intently upon that his tongue poked out of his massive gob.

“How am I doing, Folie?” He found time to ask.

Actually Folie felt surprisingly confident in his chum’s piloting skills – rudimentary as they were. “Put the ship into a spiralling descent so that we encompass most of the planet.” He said. “I’d like to see the day and night sides. What with all the glaciers and the magma, it could look pretty spectacular.”

So Placebo did exactly what Folie requested, and before long they were staring down at vast areas of volcanic activity…

“Ooh,” Kyboshed said, as he peered into his personal screen, “it hasn’t settled down yet then?”

But, as the kilometres fled behind them, and they returned to the day side of Mars, they flew into a vicious squall…

“Yikes,” Placebo yelled above the buffeting, “I can’t see where we’re going!”

“Neither can I!” The Automatic Pilot boomed. “My sensors are calibrated for uninterrupted visual acuity – like what you get in space. We’re blind. Hopelessly, desperately blind!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 29

For this excerpt I return you to the best book in the world ever. This one…

Now you might think me rather bold to call this book the best in the world ever: but I have my reasons. It is – it’s as simple as that. And just to prove it, here’s that excerpt I mentioned…

Upon the huge screen weird shapes and sparkling fizzle-things were giving way to a wobbly image of a female gerbil as she huddled for warmth beneath a blanket made of purest animal pelt.

Beryl and Fanangy screamed as one. But whilst Fanangy bounced dementedly about in horror in the wings, Beryl found sufficient voice to yell, “By the Saint of All Hamsters – this is about cannibalism. That foul gerbil has eaten its mate. Quickly choose someone else.”

Now under other circumstances Boney might have felt inclined to accede to the mayor’s wife’s demand: But these weren’t other circumstances. In fact Chester Bogbreath had just slashed Boney’s benefits and passed a law than banned him from posting some scratched and fuzzy footage of mysterious alien sex-acts upon the internet – for which people had been willing to pay quite reasonable sums with their credit cards. So naturally Beryl would have to suffer for her husband’s misdemeanours.

“No – you carry on, lad.” He instructed the hesitant historian.

As the picture resolved so did the sound quality. It quickly became apparent that the gerbil’s teeth were knocking together in such a manner as to suggest some terrible chill passing through her body. Her knees appeared to be knocking together as well – so clearly she was frightened too. But it was only when they caught sight of her massively protruding nipples did they realize that the image dated from the Ice Age, and that the gerbil was a cave-rodent.

“Not gonna get much conversation tonight then.” The voice of Farmer Jacksey grumbled from the rear of the auditorium. “Just grunts and bellows. Nice tits though.” He added thoughtfully.

Boney was in total agreement with Farmer Jacksey, and was about to instruct Colin to remove his rather rude special tool from the special receptacle in the TV, when the gerbil spoke…

“Fluff me – it’s fluffin’ cold. I could use a fluffin’ good fluffin’ to warm me up. And that gerbil-eating weasel-bastard outside can go fluff his own arse!”

Of course no one actually heard the words – but each of them had studied the sub-titles as they appeared.

“Outrageous.” Chester Bogbreath bellowed with indignation. “The female is an absolute yob. Look at her language. If this is the sort of antecedent from which Brenda Bugler has evolved – well I say ‘send her back to where she came from: We don’t want her sort in Hamster Heath!”

A general murmur of discord passed through the ranks of mostly-hamsters, and several bums shifted uneasily upon their seats.

“Fluff and bollocks.” Boney roared his best, “Give the poor lass a fluffin’ chance will ya: We aint seen the whole story yet – ya big-mouthed shit!” Then more calmly he added, “Excuse my Hamster-French: No insult intended.”

So whilst Beryl eased her husband down from an apocalyptic fit of rage, everyone else returned their attention to the show.

Another gerbil had entered the cave. Although a fire  illuminated them both, very few physical details could be ascertained. But it was clear that the new-comer had lost some fur from his tail.

“Nearly got my bollocks that time, Mavis.” The male gerbil said as he indicated the outside world beyond the cave entrance. “I managed to stick a spear up the weasel’s anus – so I don’t think we’ll have too much trouble from her for a while.”

“Oh, Steve, you’re such a hero.” Mavis gushed, “Come – let me bathe your wounds. Then after that we can have heaps of uncontrollable sex. What do you say?”

Only then did Steve finally act in a way that more modern hamsters might perceive as cave-rodentish. He said, “Ugh – me want sex first: Then Mavis fix tail.”

Then he made a wild leap across the fire, and both gerbils rolled end over end until they fetched up against the rear of the cave.

“Ugh!” Mavis responded in turn.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

See what I mean? This e-book is available at the locations mentioned beneath the header and on the sidebar, which includes the publishers, Lulu. You have my permission to purchase the best book in the world ever. Become the target of unfettered envy.

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part forty-six)

Meanwhile, still far from the Solar System, the Gravity Whelk had reduced its velocity slightly to that of regular Hyper-speed…

Placebo was taking his task at the helm very seriously, which amused Folie…

“It’s okay to relax a little,” he said to his polystyrene chum, “a nervous twitch won’t sent us helter-skelter across the Galaxy like a Catherine Wheel on steroids. Autopilot wouldn’t let that happen.”

“Who said I wouldn’t?” The Automatic Pilot’s voice boomed from the overhead speakers. “I might be bored witless. Piloting is what I do: I don’t like metaphorically sitting around on my non-existential hands watching someone else do my job for me: it is my raison d’être

“Take no notice of that.” Folie said to Placebo. To the Automatic Pilot he said: “Why have we slowed slightly, Autopilot?”

“Dark Space has removed its influence upon the ship.” The reply came. “I’m not in communication with it, so don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s the relative close proximity of a star: I don’t know, I’m just guessing.”

Before either Folie of Placebo could respond to this information  the ship slowed further…

“Ooh,” they said in perfect unison and with a delightful harmonic quality that didn’t go unnoticed by the Automatic Pilot, “now we’re merely going very fast: what gives?”

“Now that is a question I can answer.” The Automatic Pilot replied. “We’re coming towards the end of our journey. Or, to put it another way, we’re almost there: the Solar System.”

“Fantastic,” Folie squealed, “we haven’t been here for…oh…yonks and yonks. It’s so good to see familiar space. Ah, where is it, by the way? Can you point to it?”

As if in reply the main viewer altered its perspective, which, in lay-man’s terms meant that it ‘zoomed-in’…

“Oh yeah,” Placebo said uncertainly as his eyes searched the screen for something recognisable, “I’d know it anywhere. Um…which one is Mars?”

“You’ll have to wait a while to see that.” The Automatic Pilot answered. “It’s one of the inner rocky planets. It’s very small and dark. In fact it’s puny and dull. I don’t know why anyone would want to live there at all. They could build space habitats: you never get ice-ages in space habitats. Planets are overrated – especially those with molten cores: the insides are always trying to replace the outsides.”

Folie ignored every word he’d just heard. “Are we in communication range?” He asked.

The response to this was a number of clicks and whirrs from the transceiver array interface box at Folie’s side. “You’re on.” The Automatic Pilot added.

Far away, across the Solar System, Folie and Placebo became visible in one of the com-domes…

“Hello.” Folie called. “Um…is there anyone there?”

When Frisby Mumph’s pager informed him of an incoming message, he raced to the dome…

“This is the Future Museum of Mars.” He announced breathlessly. “Curator, Frisby Mumph speaking. What can I do for you?”

“Well,” Folie replied, “it’s not so much what you can do for us: it’s more what we can do for you.”

He then explained who he and Placebo were; how they had obtained the Gravity Whelk; and offered their help in whatever capacity Frisby required.

“But we are still a long way off.” He added. “We’re at sub-light speed right now. But it shouldn’t be long before we arrive at Mars.”

“Is your ship large enough to evacuate the museum and the inhabitants of the Muffins’ ancient citadel?” Frisby inquired hopefully.

Placebo and Folie responded to this with fixed half-smiles…

“I’m…ah…ugh…not sure.” Folie answered. “Let me get back to you on that.”

“By the Saint of All Earplugs!” Placebo exclaimed, once the screen had blanked. “The K T Woo, BrianTalbot, and the Chi-Z-Sox combined would have trouble doing that. Does this Mumph guy have the faintest idea how small space ships are?”

“He’s a mud-plugging terraformer.” Folie replied. “Of course he doesn’t. What are we gonna tell him?

Placebo thought for a moment. “Tell him,” he said slowly, as his thoughts coalesced, “that we’re on our way: that we’ll discuss our ship’s physical capacity with him when we get there. Also tell him to leave a light on.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

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

William spent a further twenty-five minutes in his quarters, trying to think of someone from whom he could obtain advice on the female heart. He came up empty. But shortly after gaining the chill main corridor, through the windows of which the cold of the ice-age seeped, he passed Tangerine. Tangerine, being a robot from the future, possessed advanced programming…

“William of Porridge,” it said, “your concerns for Lillie Whitewater are making you less productive. I must urge you to conclude the matter with alacrity. Might I suggest you make a video call to the Museum of Future Technology: ask for The Lillie Whitewater Fan Club.”

William stumbled away in astonishment. Lillie had a fan club? Did she know? Was she aware that she had impacted on someone’s life so significantly that they began a fan club? How many members did this fan club have on their books? More than one? He certainly hoped so. So, wasting no time whatsoever, he made straight for the Com-panel. Five minutes later he dragged Lillie away from her bottle of bleach and told her to watch the main viewer…

“Lillie,” he said, “you may think you’re an insignificant blob of organic matter: but look what your exploits have created.”

Four young female earplugs stood before a camera upon distant Earth – and looked awkward…

“Are we on?” The female on the right asked someone off-camera. She received an affirmative thumbs-up.

So, as one, the Lillie Whitewater Fan Club stared across the millions of kilometres that separated them from their hero…and dried up.

Lillie felt compelled to break the silence. “Hello, girls,” She said in a kindly voice that William thought was almost matronly, “those are nice pressure suits: did you model them on mine?”

“Oh yes.” They squealed in delight as one.

Then the verbal floodgates opened and they couldn’t stop. It continued in that manner right up until the point when the Sun interposed itself between the planets and the link was lost.

“Well that was unexpected.” Lillie said as she walked away from the screen that still displayed a freeze-frame image of her fan club…

“They actually saved up their pocket money to buy real replica pressure suits – then altered them to look like mine. I…I…I don’t know what to say. I had no idea that anyone knew that I existed.”

“Well there you go.” William replied. “Your fan club and me. Who knows how many others adore you – if only secretly.”

Lillie stopped short, which caught William out: he had to turn back to her…

“Is that what you do, William?” She asked.

William wasn’t quite sure what Lillie meant. His lack of reply must shown her this.

“Adore me, I mean.” Lillie added – rather boldly, she thought.

William hadn’t prepared for this moment: it was so unexpected. “Ah, I guess I do.” He answered.

Casting aside her repressed personality, Lillie rushed forward to fall into William’s arms. “Well in that case…” she managed…

The resultant kiss was so intoxicating that they were both instantly transported into…

…Wonderland – a place from which they wished never to return. But, of course they did, and before long they were rushing headlong up the ramp…

…towards the Cafe Puke, which they hoped still had enough power to warm-up a ghastly cup of coffee.

“Oh, William,” Lillie sighed, “perhaps we could share a whacking great big mug of crappachino.”

“Yes,” William cried out with joy, “with two straws. And maybe a wafer biscuit too!”

Outside, in the snow, one of the engineers, who were still looking for missing customers, heard the youngster’s squeals of happiness through an emergency pedestrian door that had been left ajar…

“Oi-oi,” he said, “sounds’ like wedding bells are in the offing.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part forty-four)

In an instant Folie was with Dark Space – or vice versa, who knows?

“Looney-speed is, like...really fast, right?” He said.

Dark Space concurred.

“And hyper-speed is also really fast, but a lot slower than looney-speed. Uh-huh?” Folie stated the obvious.

Dark Space had a vast capacity for circumlocution: Folie was incapable of testing its patience.

“To get to Mars…like really fast, we need looney-speed.” Folie continued. “But we can’t go at looney-speed because of your presence. But your presence adds a huge amount of potential energy to this ship’s reservoir. Now tell me I’m wrong about this; but that first time we went to hyper-speed with you aboard, I felt a distinct kick in the pants. Putting two and two together…”

Actually there was a limit to Dark Space’s ability to withstand oral procrastination. “Yes – yes, it was me. I was just testing my ability to interact with your realm. And yes I can make the ship go faster. But you must realise that it is energy that cannot be replaced: if I were to do it lots and lots and lots, I’d eventually fizzle out of existence.”

“But it wouldn’t hurt to get us to Mars more quickly though, would it?” A worried Folie inquired.

A smile entered the non-existent voice. “Not in the least.” It said.

So it was a happy…or should I say ‘satisfied‘…Folie who took a seat at the helm…

“Okay, Kiddies,” he said, “buckle up. Placebo – you have the throttles: hit ’em.”

Instantly, and without any discernible movement within the vessel, the Gravity Whelk leapt to hyper-speed…

“Oh, Guys,” the Automatic Pilot bellowed needlessly above the distant whine of the hyper-drive engines set at the very rear of the ship, “what planet was it you wanted dialled in?”

Folie managed a startled, “wah?” before a chuckle escaped the overhead speaker. “Just kidding,” the Automatic Pilot said. “Mars it is. Dark Space: we’re in the groove: let’s hear your guitar solo.”

Dark Space didn’t disappoint…

“Now that is fast.” Placebo said admiringly. “I bet we look neat from the outside.”

And he wasn’t wrong…

Meanwhile, upon the planet that was the Gravity Whelk’s destination, Chef, Charles De Glop, poked his head up from beneath his kitchen counter top to give William of Porridge some advice…

“If you want to prove her true worth to her, you must show Lillie a video link that features people saying wonderful things about her. She’s bound to believe anything that been transmitted live and looks professional – even if it’s pre-recorded.”

William mused on this for some time. Obviously he couldn’t enlist the help of Sir Dodger despite his fame and actor-ish charm: he was sheer poison as far as Lillie was concerned. He needed someone unfamiliar with Lillie, but who might be convincing liars.

An hour later William returned to the Hydroponics bay…

“Hello, Lillie.” He said casually. “I was hoping…” He stopped and pretended to spot the bay’s main screen for the first time. “Ah, what’s this?” He said. “A video message. No one knows I’m here: it must be for you.”

Somewhat surprised, Lillie stepped back to accept the message…

To her further surprise it was Las Chicas De La Playas on the screen. The sole non-female member of the famous bikini-wearing divas group stepped forward…

“Hola, Lillie.” He said as the girls smiled and pouted behind him, “We thought that this might be a good time to thank you for all the inspiration you have given us girls. It’s girls like you – who go into space and then become museum…er…thingies – that gives us the strength to face down our detractors and proudly improve our fabulous tans at every opportunity.”

“Thank you Meese Leelie.” The girls then added in an uncomfortably choreographed, poorly-rehearsed, performance that wouldn’t fool the world’s worst narcissist, let alone the self-effacing Lillie Whitewater.

“And thank you too.” Lillie replied as she cut the connection. “Now sod off.”

“Well that’s nice.” William said as he tried to hide his frustration. “Nice people go to the trouble of making a video recording just for you, and you say ‘sod off’. Well there’s gratitude for you!”

Lillie felt instantly shamed. She knew that William was trying his best to help her. “I’m sorry, William,” she said in a tiny voice that made it difficult for William to believe it had once spoken the words: ‘Torpedoes away, Captain.’ and ‘Enemy ship destroyed, Sir. Scanning for survivors‘ and other ‘space battle stuff’ like that.

“Well, okay.” He said as his frustration evaporated beneath her soulful gaze. “I’ll see you a little later. Um…yeah.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part forty-three)

Meanwhile, aboard the subjectively infinitely distant Gravity Whelk

…which had come to a dead stop, it was time for a pow-wow on the bridge…

“It’s as simple as this,” Folie opened the discussion. “Do we use the looney-drive, or stick with hyper-drive?”

“I have no input on the subject of velocity.” Kyboshed replied. “After all, since the fiasco with Dark Space, my name has been Mud. I was programmed on Scroton: my judgement is suspect.”

Folie was about to ask the same question of Placebo…

…when his mouth stopped working: he had seen something on the main viewer that, he was certain, remained invisible to the others…

“Excuse me,” he said, “but Dark Space has summoned me.”

“I’ll come with you.” Placebo volunteered. “To hold your metaphorical hand.”

Two seconds later…

“Hey,” Kyboshed shouted after his disappearing crewmates, “wait for me!”

And two seconds after that…

“Excuse me for being rude!” The Automatic Pilot boomed as Kyboshed departed through Engineering at maximum velocity. “I’ll mind the shop, shall I?”

Folie wasn’t entirely certain how far he’d managed to travel along the corridor before Dark Space took control…

Prior to any meaningful communication between himself and the realm of Space/Time, Folie demanded to know the whereabouts of his friend.

“Placebo is unharmed.” Dark Space’s voice by-passed Folie’s auditory system and spoke directly to his consciousness. “He might be a little confused though.”

Folie was displeased, but was loath to display his impotence by showing it. “Okay, Dark Space, you’ve got my attention: what do you want?”

“It is not what I want.” The genderless, disembodied voice replied. “It is what I don’t want. I don’t want you to go to looney-speed.”

“If you’ve been listening in on our conversation, you’ll know that time is of the essence. If the Gravity Whelk can save just one life, it’ll be worth the risk of travelling at unsafe speeds.”

“But I can’t travel at looney-speed.” Dark Space said with regret evident in its timbre. “If the Gravity Whelk activates the looney-speed drive, I’ll be left behind – alone again in the depths between stars.”

Folie hadn’t considered this possibility. “Oh, cripes.” He said…

…”what a quandary. How about this: we drop you off here: strut our funky stuff on Mars; then come back and pick you up.”

“This isn’t a sidewalk.” Dark Space replied. “There’s no kerb for me to wait on. You can’t consult a map or sat-nav to find this location. It has no GPS co-ordinates.  And there’s Galactic Drift to consider. I won’t be here when you get back – if you get back. Folie, you can’t leave me behind!”

Folie had never felt so torn. “Release me for a few seconds – to think about it. I’m aware that you could stop this ship from going anywhere if you so wish – so the fact that you’re asking, rather than telling, is a significant development. Give me five minutes.”

In the blink of an eye, Folie found himself standing in a corridor…

He looked out at the cosmos through a panoramic window. How would he like to be left behind? But he wasn’t a realm of space/time: he was just an earplug. He was also a young, inexperienced earplug who was so far out of his depth that he might as well be treading water above the Mid-Atlantic Trench. So he wandered along the corridor, trying desperately to come to the correct decision. Eventually he found himself standing before the reflective door of Engineering…

He saw who, and what he was, looking back at him. He also remembered what he’d told Kyboshed when he’d surprised the robot by kicking the recalcitrant air-conditioning unit into life. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to think too much: sometimes it can be best to just go with how you feel…

“Dark Space.” He said. “You’re not a passenger anymore: from now on, you’re crew.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part forty-two)

Impressed as they were, Folie and Placebo decided to ignore the Automatic Pilot’s exuberance and, instead, call upon the services of Kyboshed…

…to show them the way back to the bridge…

“We’re really going to have to do something about these wandering corridors.” Folie said as he regained his seat. “A little fine-tuning is called for. Perhaps we should demand that they only move when there is a hull breach or life-support has failed in a particular section.”

“Yeah, that’s right.” Placebo agreed. “The cable ends have over-done it this time. What if you were desperate for a toilet, but it had been replaced by a Cafe Blurgh machine? The consequences could be humiliating.”

“I don’t even want to think about it.” Folie replied. “I’m going to have nightmares about that now.”

“Right then,” he added. “Ready to set sail again?”

“Go for it.” Placebo replied. “Give her some gas.”

A split second later…

…the bridge glowed mauve as the screen displayed the ship’s transition into hyper-space. But no sooner had its occupants adjusted their gussets and made themselves comfortable, when the view was replaced by an emergency transmission from the Museum of Future Technology…

“To anyone who can hear my voice, or see my huge gnashers chattering in trepidation; this is Cushions Smethwyke of the Museum of Future Technology. If you are in a position to assist I will personally give you a huge, sloppy kiss and hand over my entire collection of black and white photos of K’Plank the Space Wanderer’s bum.”

Cushions then paused to give any potential listeners the chance to sit up in their space seats and re-set their thought processes. This allowed Placebo the opportunity to say: “This sounds’ major: I wonder if we’re in any position to help.”

But any reply that Folie might have made was stifled when Cushions resumed. She told the sorry tale of the Future Museum of Mars’ inevitable doom – and perhaps that of the indigenous people too. She concluded with: “So if you think you’re able to help us out, get here as quickly as you can: we’re really up kaka creek without an outboard motor!”

As the screen cleared itself of the residual image of the MoFT’s Chief Curator, the boys were out of their seats…

“Flaming heck, Placebo,” Folie yelled, “we gotta do something. I just don’t know what a recently re-fitted old tub like the Gravity Whelk can do!”

“Yeah,” Placebo responded as he fought to tear his gaze from yet another majestic cosmic event that he was about to miss, “it’s a sod, isn’t it?”

But, at that precise moment Folie and Placebo weren’t the only sentient beings with problems…

…as museum engineers were out searching for some customers who had drowned their sorrows with alcohol and had then, in an inebriated state, decided to go outside to ‘tinkle in the snow’.

“No, Brighton,” Treacle Fagging said with a sigh, “you won’t find them up there. Keep your gaze in a downward direction.”

“But,” Brighton Briezy replied, “Reports state that they had eaten several bags of chilli and hot pepper chips. In this reduced gravity, I thought it possible that they might have broken wind so violently that they were cast up into the air.”

“Fascinating theory.” Treacle mumbled, “Which is why I am a rocket engineer; and you twiddle with banjo bolts in the back of coffee machines.”

And in the Hydroponics Bay inside the Future Museum of Mars…

…William of Porridge arrived to find Lillie Whitewater looking even more glum and uncertain than normal.

“What ails thee, fair mistress?” He said eloquently and with a lilt of uncharacteristic humour in his tone.

“Oh, William,” she groaned, “why am I so insignificant? Why am I so uncertain about everything I do and say? Why do I throw myself at ageing thespians willy-nilly? Why did I think that growing seeds in our customer’s urine could possibly work? Look, as usual, my latest experiment is an abject failure. I’m a failure: I couldn’t hack it as bridge crew aboard the K T Woo, and I can’t hack it here either. I’m a miserable failure: I should be despatched back to Worstworld upon the first ship going in that direction. I’m an undesirable alien!”

William was shaken by this outburst. “Oh, Lillie,” he managed, “Flipping heck. No-no-no – you’re not a failure. And as regards to being undesirable…well that’s utter nonsense.”

He then moved closer, a manoeuvre which, had he taken a moment to consider it, he would have not made. But having done so, he had to say something deep and meaningful: “Um,” he began awkwardly, “do you remember that time, in the red corridor, when you fluttered your eyelashes at Sir Dodger?”

Of course Lillie remembered. She said as much – before adding: “And he walked right on by without seeing me. See? I am insignificant!”

Now that William had started down an avenue of thought and behaviour unknown to him, he would not be dissuaded by Lillie’s negativity. “And do you remember what I said at the time?”

Lillie thought back…

“Yes, ” she answered. “You said – and I quote: ‘Oh do shut up’, which, when I think about it, was rather waspish of you.”

“No, Lillie,” William said with unaccustomed tenderness, “after that.”

“You said that Sir Dodger could have commented on my appearance.” Lillie replied without hesitation. “You said: ‘ What a git’. You then continued with: ‘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!‘ Correct?”

William looked at his colleague with admiration. “What a memory!” He exclaimed. “Now that’s something you could put to good use. I’ve never seen the like before!” He then took a step further than he would ever have considered possible: “And do you recall what you said to me?”

Lillie gulped – before replying with: “Do I really look delightful in my tatty old pressure suit, William? But you never answered me.”

It was William’s turn to gulp. “Well I am now.” He said quietly. “And the answer is ‘yes’.”

For a moment William thought that he had made a breakthrough, but, after a few seconds’ consideration, Lillie said: “You’re just saying that to cheer me up. Thank you, William, you’re very kind. Now please leave me alone: I’ve got a bottle of bleach in the cupboard: I’m going to try dipping seedlings in that. You never know – it’s Martian bleach: it could be just be the growth-medium we’re looking for.”

So it was a defeated and exasperated William who departed the Hydroponics Bay…

“Females,” he growled to himself. “You bare your soul to them – and they think you’re just being nice!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part forty-one)

But what Folie discovered next couldn’t have come at a better time…

“How fortuitous, Kyboshed.” Folie said with relief. “I was just beginning to feel the pangs of a distended bladder.”

“Oh, no, Sir.” Kyboshed replied. “There was nothing fortuitous about it. Sensors in the floor detected your awkward gait: an algorithm calculated your need for a toilet, and quickly moved one here from another location.”

“Clever.” Folie said as he used the device. “Do other parts of the ship move around like that?”

“Most of them.” Kyboshed answered. “It’s a redundancy thing: if parts of the ship are damaged, other parts can be moved into position to replace them. It’s probably why you have such difficulty finding your way around.”

“It also explains why there are so many airlocks and corridors. I thought I’d seen the same artwork on different walls. Obviously they aren’t prints: they really are the originals: they just move around with the walls. Pity they’re so vile. Now where’s the hand-dryer?

“There will be one along momentarily.” Kyboshed replied.

And there was…

…complete with its own corridor.

“Kyboshed,” Folie said, as a huge hot-air blower blasted him, “I’m not certain I like this moving around malarkey: I like things to stay where they’re put.”

Folie was still feeling vaguely uncomfortable when he re-joined Placebo on the bridge…

He told him of his recent experiences…

“I’ll tell you what you need, Folie, my little yellow earpluggy chum.” Placebo replied cheerfully. “You need a quick blast of hyper-speed.”

Folie tried to forget his concerns with the ships’ re-design. “You could be right there, Placebo, you huge white blob of polystyrene. Let’s do it.”

Moments later, after they had seated themselves…

“It’s very smooth, isn’t it?” Folie observed.

“Yaw compensators.” Placebo explained. “They’re new…

…I read all about it in the manual. Leaves a nice pink trail apparently.”

Yet even going really, really fast didn’t sway Folie from his misgivings. “Automatic Pilot,” he said suddenly, “take us out of hyper-speed.”

A heartbeat later…

“Let’s just hang here for a while.” He added.

Then he was out of his chair. “Placebo, I want to show you Deck One.”

Placebo was slightly disappointed because he’d just noticed some vast cosmic event unfolding before the main viewer’s lens. So he checked that the dash-cam was running, and followed his crew-mate…

“Yeah,” he said, “I can see why you like the finish. Very plush. Nice lighting too. I’ve always had a thing for turquoise.”

As Folie had expected, there was no sign of the toilet. He was about say something, when the Automatic Pilot’s voice rattled his teeth.

“A vast cosmic event has sent a purple asteroid in our direction.” It said…

…”Since you’re the boss, I thought you’d like to tell me what I should do about it.”

“Flee!” Folie yelped.

“Now.” Placebo added. “Any direction except straight at the asteroid.”

The ship’s inertial dampening field was so acutely tuned that neither occupant of the ship felt it lurch aside and accelerate away…

“Wow,” the Automatic Pilot exclaimed, “I was good before; but these cable end guys have made my lateral response protocols nothing short of fantastic. Guys, any other dramatic maneouvres you’d like me to make?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part forty)

So, as the Gravity Whelk exited the blue star’s realm…

…Folie decided that he would explore all the parts of the ship that he was yet to see. The obvious course of action was to enlist the help of the resident expert of the ships’ re-fit. But Kyboshed had a bent twingle-flange to adjust in the engine room’s klatterbox…

…that required attention instantaneously. He suggested that Folie meet him later – when the task had been completed and tested thoroughly. So Folie continued alone, whilst wondering what klatterboxes were used for…

Many times during his exploration he discovered interior airlocks that led into corridors, the existence of which he hadn’t even suspected…

And on every wall there was more of that damned Anton Twerp’s ghastly artwork. There were even rooms that just looked downright dangerous…

…which made him wonder why they were put there in the first place. A room with no oxygen: what possible use could that be put to? But it wasn’t really very long before he heard Kyboshed calling his name through yet another interior airlock…

“Hey,” he said as Folie entered, “how’d you like to visit the top deck?”

Folie was surprised by the offer: he’d assumed that the forward observation window was located on the top deck. He said as much to Kyboshed.

“No.” The robot replied, “Not any more. There was a stagnancy ballast-drift buffer tank above that deck; but the klatterbox has removed the need for such a large device. So the cable ends have created a nice new deck there. It’s really groovy, with lots of curves and soft textures.”

So, a couple of minutes later Kyboshed introduced Folie to the top deck – or Deck One, as he liked to call it…

“Ooh,” the ship’s co-owner said admiringly, “all soft pastel lighting and no obvious joins between floor, wall, and ceiling. Nice.”

But then he noted an apparent extension to the hull that wasn’t obvious from the outside. Intrigued he started down it…

But when he opened the door at the end; then walked through it, he was greeted with the undiluted sight of naked space – in this case a wondrous nebula…

Of course his rational mind told him that he was in no danger: if he really were in open space, his eyes would have burst instantly; his blood would have boiled; and his brain undoubtedly exploded. But despite the fact that none of these things occurred, he still felt queasy and ill-at-ease. “Is it okay of I come back inside now?” He called along the short tunnel…

Away from the view, Folie quickly settled down again; but not sufficiently to happily pass beneath a transparent roof without comment…

“Who’s the wise guy who thought a sunroof would be a good idea on a space ship?” He grumbled. “I’ll write him a letter: tell him he’s a total twonk.”

“Oh, that’s no window,” Kyboshed assured Folie: “That’s a sliding roof panel. Only the replacement force field is keeping the air, and us, inside the ship.

“What?” The astonished earplug yelled in disbelief…

…”Who has ever heard of a cabriolet space ship? It’s the most stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of!”

He was still complaining as they passed into a more secure-looking section of Deck One…

“You know,” he said, as they rounded yet another curve, “I’m almost scared to see what’s coming next. Are there any secret holes hidden behind holograms for me to fall through?

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 28

With so much Earplug Adventure stuff appearing here, I thought it would make a pleasant change to see some Hamster-Sapiens rudeness. To this end I have delved into this e-book…

…and pray that the resulting random excerpt pleases you beyond measure. And here it is…

It was cold, dark, and down right nasty beneath the surface of the River Turgid, as it ambled between Prannick’s twin towns of Near and Far Kinell with all the pace and alacrity of a bout of constipation. But Perfidity Gallowsmith had scant moments to consider such discomforts: Her immediate concern was the severe depletion that had taken place to the air reserve that she’d managed to accumulate in her hamstery cheek pouches moments before being knocked unconscious by a huge torpedo-shaped cavy-dropping, and falling into the river. Since then she’d been forced to ditch her famous chainmail knickers and leather breast-hammocks in order to remain above the mucky goo of the river bed, and now she was feeling distinctly naked both outwardly and inwardly

It was difficult for her to judge whether the onlookers upon the bank were still ‘on looking’, but she couldn’t take the risk of being discovered by them: In Prannick the vanquished leader was always put to death in a most public exhibition. She would rather drown than face that ignominy. Then, as she drifted with the river’s flow, the town’s sewage out fall pipe seemed to crawl past at a snail’s pace. It was dark and foreboding; but it might also supply a temporary sanctuary for her.

“With any luck,” she spoke to herself through lips that were clenched so tight that they might have been hermetically sealed, “there’ll be air at the top of the tunnel.

Striking out for the circle of black in an otherwise colourless environment Perfidity tried to gauge the time of day: She must be in and out of the tunnel before sixty-three minutes after thirteen o’clock, when the Town Ka-ka Release Officer emptied the slurry pit below the public toilet into the river: An ignominious departure into the hereafter was preferable to Death By Excrement. But as she approached the outfall she became aware of a subtle change in its appearance. It seemed to have become somehow blacker. A more intense black. A negative-light sort of black. She blew-off several times to dispel the intense feeling of fear that was threatening to steal her reason away. But despite these gaseous out-pouring, the darkness seemed to be drawing her to it. Then, as she began to struggle against the impossible pulling sensation that seemed to be acting upon each and every atom that made up her rather large, but surprisingly curvaceous body, the darkness seemed to leap forward to engulf her. She had just sufficient time to break-wind once more, and then scream incoherently.

Upon the bank Felicity and Roosevelt were walking paw-in-paw. They were chatting excitedly about the day’s battle, and their triumph. They also wanted to find a nice warm spot in which to perform some form of warm, cuddly, sex-act. Felicity noticed the bubbles as they burst from the surface of the water. The first few were rank and foul, and were immediately dismissed at ‘swamp water’: But the final few smelt far sweeter, and, much to their surprise contained a sound, which went, “Arrgh!”

“I’m sorry,” Roosevelt said apologetically, “is it alright with you if we pass on the vaguely-planned activity that would undoubtedly have culminated in non-reproductive sexual intercourse? Those mysterious bubbles have quite put me off.”

Felicity had to agree with her chum: Under these altered circumstances she didn’t even think that she could stretch to heavy-petting: It was a documented fact that drowning hamsters and their talking farts had a nasty habit of utterly deflating libidos.

“May The Wheel bless you, my son.” Brother Algy Tumbler would say to each an every injured lawman and militia-hamster that he treated, “And may the glorious light of The Rim shine upon your wretched bulges, and make it feel much better in the morning.”

The chubby hamster was pretty much sick and tired of this oft-repeated litany; but each time that he found the need to say the words he was simply amazed at the paucity of any real injuries, and marvelled at the Hamster Heathens’ ability to project their will by the simple administration of high-speed sods and custard pots to the vulnerable squelchy parts of their enemies. He also doubted that the forces of The Wheel would have been as magnanimous and kindly to their vanquished foes had the situation been reversed.

A short distance off Algy Timber was helping the Heathens as they reloaded the team buses. He couldn’t help but notice how incredibly similar he and Brother Algy Tumbler looked. He said as much to Joan.

“It’s like we’re twins.” He added, “I think I’ll engage him in conversation: P’raps we share the same interests. I wonder if he chews his own privates during periods of great angst?”

Joan put out a paw to stop him. “Best not, Mister Timber.” She said.

Algy wasn’t to be put-off. “But I want to.” He said with an almost petulant air, “He’s my inter-dimensional double.”

But he could take no more than a couple of steps before Rootley leapt from the roof-rack where he was strengthening the paw-holds, and grappled him to the floor. “No, Mister Timber,” the small hamster squeaked – his face contorted with dread, “Don’t go near him: There is a great danger. I can feel it.”

                                                                              

Algy pushed his assailant aside. “What do you mean?” he said as he dusted himself off, “Am I allergic to his smelling-salts, or something? Does he smell something awful?”

“I don’t know.” Rootley confessed, “I just know that it’s dangerous.”

“I think I can guess.” Joan said as she assisted her boss to tidy his dress, “It’s probably a space/time conundrum, or something. Two identical people from different dimensions probably can’t exist in the same place at the same time. I expect that they’re mutually exclusive. No doubt the result of contact between you would be utter devastation.”

“And you know this because?” Darkwood inquired as he appeared around the corner of the vehicle.

“The experiments at the Institute:” Joan replied, “They’ve intensified my brain power.” Then she added, “And I’ve been watching Rat Trek on TV too. The self-same thing happened to Mister Splatt in the episode No Coypu is an Island. It was very good. Two characters very nearly exploded; but Captain Perp managed to finagle a small piece of his anatomy between them, and stopped them from touching. It was very exciting. And more than a little moving too.”

“Indeed.” Darkwood nodded, “This small piece of his anatomy that you mentioned: It wasn’t his willy, was it? I rather think I’d have liked to have seen that!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

There, are you pleased beyond measure? I thought so.

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part thirty-nine)

But shortly, when they happened upon Kyboshed, he had lowered the blinds on all the windows.

When questioned he cyber-wailed, “I can’t stand it. The Autopilot told me all about Worstworld. The thought of all those people – and whatever else there is down there – all doomed. I won’t look. You know that old adage: ‘what you can’t see can’t hurt you’? Well in my case that’s correct: if I can’t see the misery on the planet below, my psyche is left undamaged. I can just pretend that it’s not happening at all.”

The silicon life-forms smiled at this: clearly the Auto-Pilot had told only half the story…

So it fell to Folie to tell the tale of the Museum of Future Technology’s first successful star ship – Ship Number Fifteen – which (following a battle with Hyperspace Pirates) became lost in the depths of space with an unreliable anti-neutrino drive and a bunch of really bored passengers. So Captain Horatio Noseblower had the vessel put down upon the world that would be later named Worstworld…

Very quickly they discovered that the blue light of the parent star gave off too much gamma radiation…

…and that the indigenous people appeared to be at a technological level analogous to the Wild West…

But later, after lots of adventures for its crew and passengers, Ship Number Fifteen blasted back into space…

…unwittingly taking with them the entire United Stoats Seventh Cavalry and their plugmutts…

…and leaving behind (accidentally) a museum curator in the shape of Hakking Chestikoff…

….who, after meeting with a local dignitary, Busti Misenthrop, discovered an entire civilisation beneath ground, where it sheltered from the radiation and hoped to ride out the storm when the star eventually went nova…

At Hakking’s suggestion (and using blueprints of the foundered Ship Number Fourteen, which had crashed on the planet years previous), the hidden civilisation quickly designed and built a star ship of their own…

…which they named after their favourite rap artist – K T Woo. Then it was a matter of finding a crew and a captain – a role taken by the Sheriff of Busted Gut, Sinclair Brooch…

“And after it launched,” Folie finished…

…the ship became legendary. Why, even now, as I tell their story, the crew of the K T Woo are putting down a civil war amongst the End Caps. So, really, there’s no need to feel sorry for those people down there. Since the K T Woo, they’ve built a whole fleet of ships. When the star looks like it’s going terminally wonky – they’ll simply up and leave.”

“So you don’t really need that blind lowered at all.” Placebo added.

And when he raised the blind once more, Kyboshed was pleased to note that the ship had already departed the doomed system…

“Oh,” he said, “that’s alright then. Guess I’d better get back to doing a bit of Chief Engineering, and lubricate my blanch nodules or something.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

P.S The events mentioned in this episode occured in Worstworld vols 1&2.

Spoiled Illusions 4: Cardboard is My Chum

Are you one of those who, upon watching a DVD check out the extras, which often include a Making Of clip. I used to; but I don’t anymore: I don’t like to see the illusion spoiled. But just in case you are, here’s a little Earplug Adventures illusion spoiler.

If you’re an Earplug Adventures photographer, one of your best friends is the humble material known as cardboard. With a little imagination and a bit of jiggery-pokery, it can become anything you bloody well want it to. Take, for example this empty insulation pile reel…

Hmmm, lots of potential there. Now let me see; what can I turn THAT into? Well there’s this very nice dungeon/kitchen…

…which appeared in Return of the Prodigal Earplug. It looks like a dungeon – especially with those flaming torches (burning matches) set into the wall. But the story said it was a kitchen: so I guess it must have been a medieval themed kitchen. It appeared again in Return to the Museum of Future Technology as Wilton Carpetti and Vinkie Vinkleton’s test facility – only dressed more futuristically…

And again as Ballington Cork’s temple in Return of the Prodigal Earplug…

Oh look, it’s those flaming torches again. In fact these reels have appeared in so many stories that I’m spoiled for choice. But I’ll make the last example this one…

Yes, it even featured as the K T Woo’s engine room in Stepladder to the Stars. Very versatile, cardboard reels.

But cardboard comes in many guises. Like these strips – wot I cut…

These utilise that old perspective trick that was taught to us in school art lessons, all those millions of years ago. This is how this particular duo of strips looked in the story, Cometh the Earplug

Hair-Tigger wasn’t sure if the building was small and quite nearby, or huge, but a long way off. So she altered her focus, and…

…the latter proved to be the case. Silly, but I like it.

The following picture has been used over and over – almost every time that I need to show the city of Scroton Prime. It was a semi-perminant set at my old ‘studio’ despite the fact that I constructed it in the main warehouse of the factory where I worked. Everyone knew what it was, so left it alone – even the management. I was blessed to work there…

But I often re-dressed it – either physically – or later (when it was history, and all I had were some pictures of it), electronically for different stories.  Here’s how it appeared the first time, in Plunging Into Peril...

It was then re-used a hideous number of times, culminating in (at present) the most recent tale – Haunted Mars...

Will there ever come a time when this shot doesn’t appear ad infinitum? Hope not.

Those cardboard inserts you find in, say, vacuum cleaner or microwave oven boxes are a God-send as well…

If used as interiors, they make excellent caves – as seen here in Stepladder to the Stars, where Sheriff (later Captain) Sinclair Brooch makes an astonishing discovery…

And as exteriors, all you need do is cut a couple of openings…

… and they make perfect mud villages…

…as seen here in The Grand Tour. All in all, a jolly useful commodity for a creative genius, like wot I is.

Of course there are many other cardboard items which are extremely useful for a Earplug Adventure shooter: but I’ll leave them for another time.

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part thirty-eight)

Placebo had to agree with Kyboshed’s summation of the artistic merits of Anton Twerp’s work…

“Yeah,” he said, “it does make you want to chuck up.”

Folie was quite annoyed at his crewmate’s behaviour…

“I don’t know what all the fuss is about.” He complained. “It’s just a few pictures. Would you sooner have a boring sparkly gold wall and the majesty of the cosmos to look at?”

Placebo didn’t want to antagonize his chum. “Okay,” he replied, “the pictures stay. Hey, let’s see what Kyboshed isn’t looking at now.”

So they did – and found him – once again – at a window on space…

“Strictly speaking,” he said as his owners approached, “I could survive out there for quite a while. I mean, it’s not like I have to breathe. And I could convert cosmic energy to keep my systems powered. Of course I couldn’t move around, and eventually the hard radiation would penetrate my defences: but until then I think I’d quite enjoy being out there – touching the hand of God or something.”

“Don’t these ruminations exceed your programming?” Folie inquired in a tone that suggested that he wasn’t particularly pleased that a robot could have such free, unfettered, thought processes.

“I sat on a nail.” Kyboshed replied. “It was just after I’d received my initial programming. I was so surprised that I jumped up from my re-charge pad and my head collided with the Institute of Robotics Compete Guide to Programming book that someone had perched on a low shelf there some years previous. Well I had nothing better to do – other than extract the nail from between my buttock crawler plates – so I read it all, cover to cover. Having absorbed the information, when the opportunity arose, I reprogrammed myself with the entire knowledge of the Institute. I find it gives me a little latitude in the thinking process. Is that a problem?”

Folie hadn’t expected such a fulsome reply. “Well, no, I suppose not.”

“Will you still explode if someone tries to change your name?” Placebo asked.

“Oh yes,” Kyboshed replied, “that’s programming that I can’t access. It’s basic core stuff. In any case, if I were captured by Hyperspace Pirates, I’d want to explode. I’d volunteer. Horrible little things: they’re vile.”

Well, after that, there seemed to be nothing more to say, so the owners of the Gravity Whelk returned to the bridge…

“Blimey,” Folie said as they entered, “do the cable ends know what they’ve given us. Kyboshed must be a true one-off. Are we blessed? I hope so.”

Placebo decided that he liked the sight of hyperspace, so shortly after sitting down in their seats, this happened…

Kyboshed, denied a view through the side windows, joined them. But after a few minutes the Automatic Pilot interrupted their reverie:

“Hey,” it said in its bouncy, up-beat manner, “I just found an interesting star. It’s a big blue one. It’s also poking out a lot of gamma radiation. One day it’ll go nova.”

Placebo was vaguely interested. “Shouldn’t we keep our distance then?” He asked / suggested.

“It has a planet.” The Automatic Pilot replied. “An inhabited planet.”

Now Folie grew interested. “I sense an ‘and’ coming.” He said as he sat up straight in his chair.

“And…” the Automatic Pilot paused for effect, “it’s a planet known to the Museum of Future Technology.”

Well Placebo and Folie hadn’t studied at the museum and not learned a few things: they both knew the name of the lonely planet. “Take us back into regular space.” They yelled as one.

A moment later…

…the blue giant was off their port side. And a further hour had the Gravity Whelk in high orbit above a heavily irradiated planet…

Naturally Kyboshed rushed to a window. Folie was only a step behind him…

“Kyboshed,” he said, “welcome to the planet named Worstworld.”

If Kyboshed had possessed a head that could be canted to one side in an inquiring fashion, he would have used the facility. Instead he was forced to use words. Or a word: “Worstworld?”

“Go look it up.” Folie suggested. He then joined Placebo at a second window…

“Well there’s a sight I never expected to see.” He said.

“The fact that it’s still there is a relief.” Placebo replied.

“Did you turn on the dash-cam?” Folie, suddenly concerned, asked Placebo. “I want everyone to see this when we get back to Earth.”

“It’s never off.” Placebo replied. “I record everywhere we go and everything this ship does.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part thirty-seven)

Whilst horror rippled through the Museum of Future Technology like an impending belch; and consternation abounded within the Future Museum of Mars in a manner most ungratifying, a bloody long way away the Gravity Whelk was rattling across the Galaxy at a fair old lick; but nothing like as quickly as it had before the encounter with Dark Space…

Neither Folie nor Kyboshed were in a hurry to get anywhere – even Earth – so they sat at the nominal controls; allowed the Automatic Pilot to make all the decisions; and enjoyed the view of the sheer vastness of space…

Had he not been an automaton, it is likely that Kyboshed would have become philosophical or even emotional at the sight. In fact he was considering giving it a go, but…

…Placebo chose that moment to return from the lavatory in Engineering.

“Well that’s better out than in.” He said, upon entering the bridge. “But I think Engineering might be out-of-bounds for half an hour.”

Moments later he’d demoted Kyboshed to the Chief Engineer’s seat on the second row…

Unfortunately Folie’s throat felt like the Gobi desert, and he’d already made up his mind to get a cup of Cafe Blurgh when Placebo returned. “Is there anything you can do about Engineering?” He inquired of Kyboshed.

Kyboshed’s controls were set into the back of Placebo’s seat. “Exposing Engineering to the vacuum of space.” He reported.

“That should do the trick.” Placebo mumbled.

“Re-pressurising.” Kyboshed added. “All good. Nice and habitable again.”

Folie felt a little uncomfortable about what he’d just heard. “Kyboshed,” he said, “I’m feeling a little uncomfortable with what I’ve just heard. What would have happened to me, say, if I was in the loo, but you didn’t know it? Would I have been whisked off into space and thereby suffered a horrible fate?”

Placebo grew concerned himself. “Yeah,” he roared, “what If I’d leaned back heavily in my seat, and maybe a bolt had come loose, and I’d fallen over backwards and pressed the Vent Engineering button as I crashed to the deck? It doesn’t bear thinking about. I’d sooner keep the stench: disable it immediately.”

Kyboshed was still feeling vaguely chagrined, a half-minute later, as he followed Folie into the corridor…

“Don’t worry about it.” Folie said. “But look the other way now…

…I’ve hung an Anton Twerp original on the wall just here. I thought it might brighten the place up.”

Although he’d been instructed to look elsewhere, the vileness of Anton Twerp’s work forced him to turn his gaze upon it. “We have a golden door set into a bright yellow door frame – and you thought the place needed brightening up?” He grumbled.

For the next hour the ship continued to blast at speeds below the threshold where relativity comes into play… 

All the while Folie and Placebo did this and that and generally wasted their time: so eventually they decided to visit parts of the ship that still remained a mystery to them. As they did so they couldn’t believe how many corridors the cable ends had managed to squeeze into such a relatively small vessel. In one of them they discovered Kyboshed not looking at some wall art…

“Hey, Kyboshed,” Folie said as he approached, “what ails thee?”

“This art,” the robot replied, “is so emetic that it’s overloading my neural net. I think my head is going to explode!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021