Tag Archives: writing

Tooty the Prophet?

I was walking about the countryside recently, as I often do, when my eye chanced to fall upon a small object in the act of being blown across a field by a powerful north-easterly wind. When it came to rest – snagged on a small bramble – I paused to consider it, and take it’s picture…

It seemed so apt in the Time of Covid.  Then I recalled a scene from one of my better works…

…in which the two central characters find an empty potato crisp packet  doing the exact same thing. And, for a moment, I considered the possibilty that the book, written so long ago (first draft 2004), might be horribly prescient. The book, if you haven’t read it or any of the extracts featured in this blog from time to time (i.e the sample chapter beneath header picture), tells the story of an Earth upon which all adult life has been extinguished by a viral pandemic.  In that moment I suddenly felt very vulnerable: after all, how many science-fiction ideas have become everyday occurences. Maybe climate change isn’t our worst enemy after all: maybe it’s writers like me – tempting fate with our silly stories.   

 

An Empty Shampoo Bottle and a 20 Second Giff

Remember Triple Threat: Hell Unleashed? The awful 20 second giff that featured a trio of earplugs destroying something with a laser cannon? Here’s a shot from it…

Well I rather fancied writing an Earplug Adventure that featured them…

A story about a bunch of accident-prone idiots getting into deep shit trouble, then finding redemption by saving the day (of course). But I couldn’t think of a story line – until I finished an interestingly-shaped bottle of shampoo. After drying (what remains of) my hair, I took the top and the bottom off the bottle. I then delved into my many boxes of plastic bits and pieces, which included other shampoo bottle tops, catheter nozzles and a wind-up flashlight. Shortly I introduced the separate parts to a tube of superglue. The result – after adding a coat of black paint – was this…

 

Too matt to see clearly? Check this out…

It’s a submarine/space ship freighter. Yes, a space ship that can travel under the sea. What could three accident-prone idiots do with that if they stowed away, then managed to lose the crew, and had to take control themselves? Well the sky – and the depths – are the limit…

The story will be titled Triple Threat. The principal  character names are Bunty Bridgewater, Ginger Slack, and Daisy Woodnut. The ship/sub, at present, remains unnamed. But I’m confident something suitably ridiculous will pop into my mind when the need arises. Watch this space!

 

 

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 27)

Así que esto es todo. Si aún no ha descargado la historia completa (y, en consecuencia, sabe lo que va a pasar), este es el extracto final. Ha sido un largo camino hasta aquí, y todos han mantenido el rumbo de manera impresionante, excepto los que no lo han hecho. Te mereces un premio. Bueno, supongo que el hecho de que puedas descargar este cuento, en su totalidad de forma gratuita, es un premio en sí mismo. Pero basta de gofres: ¡manos a la obra!

“Ambos nos prometimos a nosotros mismos que si alguna vez conocíamos a Bunk-Bunk Bunson, le daríamos una patada en el trasero”. Magnuss le informó. “Y, lo siento, pero ambos somos tapones para los oídos de nuestra palabra. A pesar de que eres una ‘ella’, no un ‘él’, todavía serás castigado. Peludo, tú ve primero “.

Hair-Trigger nunca antes había pateado a una mujer en el trasero, especialmente a una heroína clarividente. Así que cuando Bunson hizo una mueca y esperó la agonía de unas sandalias espaciales bien dirigidas, todo lo que Hair-Trigger pudo hacer fue un golpe rápido con la rodilla en una nalga…

 

Pero Magnuss, que había crecido en una familia numerosa que había disfrutado de una historia de concursos de patear traseros, hizo un intento mucho mejor…

… Y la echó a patadas por el pasillo.

“Oh, lo siento”, dijo mientras iba en ayuda de Bunson…

… ”La gravedad de Tah-Di-Tah es sólo nueve décimas partes de la Tierra normal. Simplemente no conozco mi propia fuerza aquí “.

Bunson supuso que tendría un gran hematoma negro por la mañana; pero a ella no le importó en absoluto. Le habían pateado el trasero con tapones para los oídos que lo habían arriesgado todo para salvar a Tah-Di-Tah. Y ella misma era una heroína. Los héroes deberían tener moretones: eran una insignia de honor. Así que fue un trío alegre que caminó juntos a lo largo de la miríada de pasillos de la aldea perdida…

Con el paso del tiempo hablaron de una y un millón de cosas. Estaban a punto de sugerir su próximo curso de acción, que podría haber sido una visita a la sucursal Tah-Di-Tah de Café Puke, cuando, para Magnuss y Hair-Trigger, la decisión les fue tomada de las manos…

… y se encontraron de nuevo a bordo del Tankerville Norris

Hair-Trigger, en particular, estaba muy molesto…

“Muchas gracias, Ship”. Gritó ella. “Ni siquiera tuvimos la oportunidad de despedirnos de Bunk-Bunk”.

“Es cierto”, el barco habló por segunda vez desde que se embarcaron en su luna de miel, “pero ella es una clarividente: sabe lo que querías decir. Y al hacerlo, se hace. Ahora abroche sus cinturones de seguridad…

… Nosotros, y el Chuck Winker , estamos a punto de lanzarnos. Nada elegante, ¿comprende? Nos gustaría impresionar a los lugareños antes de irnos “.

Momentos después…

… Los dos híbridos Scroton / Tah-Di-Tah volaron verticalmente hacia el cielo. Magnuss y Hair-Trigger no lo notaron: habían pasado horas desde su última visita al baño, y estaban demasiado ocupados corriendo hacia el que estaba detrás de Ingeniería…

“Eso es otra cosa”, refunfuñó Hair-Trigger al notar la ausencia de la señalización ‘nueva’, “¿por qué Bunk-Bunk tuvo que poner el inodoro tan lejos del puente? Para ser un genio psíquico, seguro que era una mujer tonta “.

Epílogo

Pero el estado de ánimo de Hair-Trigger no podía permanecer oscuro. Ella estaba sonriendo cuando regresaron al puente…

“Sabes”, dijo, “esto está comenzando a sentirse como en casa. Tendremos que traer a tus hermanos la próxima vez “.

Tuvieron el tiempo justo para sentarse antes de que los barcos hicieran un espectacular sobrevuelo…

… Antes de lanzarse al espacio. Por supuesto, Chuck Winker tomó la delantera mientras luchaban contra el pozo de gravedad del planeta…

Durante su larga conversación, Bunk-Bunk había puesto al día a Magnuss y Hair-Trigger sobre el papel de la Séptima Caballería en la batalla, por lo que hicieron una llamada de barco a barco…

“Caballeros … y dama”. Magnuss dijo cuando su imagen apareció en la holopantalla del puente de Chuck Winker , “tienes mi eterna gratitud. Si no hubieras ralentizado esa flota, nunca hubiéramos encontrado la aldea perdida, y Tah-Di-Tah habría sido destruido. Cuando regresemos al museo, voy a hablar con el comandante Leftfoot Badger. Voy a sugerir que los convierta a todos en oficiales. Debería estar orgulloso de ti “.

Los tapones de caballería estaban un poco perdidos para las palabras.

Wetpatch encontró uno o dos: “Bueno, muchas gracias, joven amigo. Supongo que, antes de que vuelvas al museo, ¿te llevarás esa luna de miel tuya?  

“Ciertamente lo haremos”. Hair-Trigger respondió…

… ”Ahora regresen sanos y salvos a Fort Balderdash: siempre habrá un lugar en el Museo de Tecnología del Futuro para personas como ustedes. Dile a Cushions Smethwyke que dije eso.

Con eso se despidieron; y, como se le indicó, el Chuck Winker se dirigió a la Tierra…

De repente, los recién casados ​​se sintieron bastante solos…

“¿Bien?” Preguntó Hair-Trigger mientras se inclinaba hacia Magnuss. “¿Adónde, Capitán?”

“Elige una dirección”. Respondió. “En cualquier dirección, siempre y cuando no sea la Tierra. “Estamos en nuestra luna de miel: ¡vamos a hacer cosas de luna de miel!”

Con eso, el Tankerville Norris giró sobre su eje a una posición aleatoria…

… y Magnuss presionó el botón “Ir”…

El fin

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

¡No olvide regresar para la próxima y emocionante aventura de tapones para los oídos!

Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah – ¡Completas y completamente gratis!

Como es mi práctica habitual, el libro electrónico completo está disponible para el público en general antes de la publicación del episodio final. Por qué lo hago de esa manera, simplemente no lo sé. Y, por supuesto, dado que ya no los publico en Lulu-com en formato EPUB, no son (estrictamente hablando) libros electrónicos adecuados. Pero PDF es un compromiso razonable y no he escuchado a nadie quejarse. Asi que aqui esta. Simplemente haga clic en la imagen de portada para liberar el archivo, que puede leer en línea o descargar para su posterior consumo.

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 27)

So this is it. If you haven’t already downloaded the complete story (and consequently know what’s going to happen), this is the final extract. It’s been a long road to here, and you’ve all stayed the course impressively – except the ones who haven’t. You deserve an award. Well I suppose the fact that you can download this tale, in its entirety free-of-charge, is an award in itself. But enough of the waffle: let’s get to business!

“We both promised ourselves that if we ever met Bunk-Bunk Bunson we would kick ‘him’ right up the arse.” Magnuss informed her. “And, sorry, but we’re both earplugs of our word. Despite the fact that you are a ‘her’, not a ‘him’, you are still going to be punished. Hairy – you go first.”

Hair-Trigger had never kicked a female up the arse before – especially a clairvoyant heroine. So as Bunson grimaced and awaited the agony of well-aimed space sandals, all Hair-Trigger could bring herself to muster was a quick jab with the knee to a single buttock…

 

But Magnuss, who had grown up in a large family that had enjoyed a history of arse-kicking contests, made a far better attempt…

…and booted her along the corridor.

“Oh sorry,” he said as he went to Bunson’s aid…

…”the gravity of Tah-Di-Tah is only nine-tenths Earth normal. I just don’t know my own strength here.”

Bunson assumed that she would have a large black bruise in the morning; but she didn’t mind at all. She’d been kicked up the arse by earplugs who had risked everything to save Tah-Di-Tah. And she was a hero herself. Heroes should have bruises: they were a badge of honour. So it was a cheerful trio who walked together along the myriad corridors of the lost village…

As time passed they spoke of a million and one things. They were on the brink of suggesting their next course of action, which might have been a visit to the Tah-Di-Tah branch of Café Puke, when – for Magnuss and Hair-Trigger – the decision was taken out of their hands…

…and they found themselves back aboard the Tankerville Norris

Hair-Trigger, in particular, was very annoyed…

“Thank you very much indeed, Ship.” She bellowed. “We didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to Bunk-Bunk.”

“True,” the ship spoke for only the second time since they embarked upon their honeymoon, “but she is a clairvoyant: she knows what you wanted to say. And in doing so, it is done. Now fasten your safety belts…

…we, and the Chuck Winker, are about to launch. Nothing genteel, you understand: we’d like to impress the locals before we leave.”

Moments later…

…the two Scroton/Tah-Di-Tah hybrids blasted vertically into the sky. Not that Magnuss and Hair-Trigger noticed: it had been hours since their last visit to the toilet, and they were too busy running to the one behind Engineering…

“That’s another thing,” Hair-Trigger grumbled as she noticed the absence of the ‘new’ signage, “why did Bunk-Bunk have to put the toilet so far from the bridge? For a psychic genius, she sure was one dumb female.”

Epilogue

But Hair-Trigger’s mood couldn’t remain dark. She was smiling when they returned to the bridge…

“You know,” she said, “this is beginning to feel like home. We’ll have to bring your brothers along next time.”

They had just enough time to sit themselves down before the ships made a spectacular fly-past…

…before hurtling up into space. Of course the stripped-down Chuck Winker took the lead as they battled the planet’s gravity well…

During their long conversation, Bunk-Bunk had brought Magnuss and Hair-Trigger up to date concerning the Seventh Cavalry’s role in the battle, so they put in a ship-to-ship call…

“Gentlemen…and lady.” Magnuss said as his image appeared upon the Chuck Winker’s bridge holo-screen, “you have my eternal gratitude. If you hadn’t slowed down that fleet, we would never have found the lost village – and Tah-Di-Tah would have been obliterated. When we get back to the museum, I’m going to have words with Major Leftfoot Badger. I’m going to suggest he make you all officers. He should be proud of you.”

The cavalry-plugs were a little lost for words.

Wetpatch found one or two: “Well thank you kindly, young fella. I guess, before you mosey on back to the museum, you’ll be taking that honeymoon of yours?”  

“We certainly shall.” Hair-Trigger replied…

…”Now you get yourselves safely back to Fort Balderdash: there’ll always be a place in the Museum of Future Technology for people like you. You tell Cushions Smethwyke I said that.”

With that they made their farewells; and, as instructed, the Chuck Winker blasted for Earth…

Suddenly the newlyweds felt rather alone…

“Well?” Hair-Trigger asked as she leaned towards Magnuss. ”Where to, Captain?”

“Pick a direction.” He replied. “Any direction – just as long as it’s not Earth. “We’re on our honeymoon: we’re going to do honey moony things!”

With that the Tankerville Norris rotated upon its axis to a random position…

…and Magnuss hit the ‘Go’ button…

The End

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Don’t forget to return for the next thrilling Earplug Adventure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah – Complete and Completely Free!

As is my usual practice, the complete e-book becomes available to the general public prior to the posting of the final episode. Why I do it that way, I just don’t know. And, of course, since I no longer publish them on Lulu-com in EPUB form, they are not (strictly speaking) proper e-books. But PDF is a reasonable compromise, and I’ve not heard anyone complaining. So here it is. Just click on the cover image to unleash the file, which you can either read on-line or download for later consumption.

Earplug News 24/7: Shock For Beach Users

A rocky beach, popular with earplugs, received an unexpected gift this morning. A radio-active turd, rumoured to belong to the Supreme Being, fell from the sky. Within minutes crowds began to form, and lightweight walkways needed to be assembled quickly by local council workers. Those who ventured nearest are now complaining that they are rapidly mutating into raspberries and other carbon-based life-forms.

 

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 26)

Pensé que la historia se extendería a 25 episodios. Pensé mal: bienvenido al episodio 26…

A Magnuss no le gustó cómo sonaba eso. De hecho, no le gustó tanto que dejó de tirarse pedos por completo. “¿Control?” Preguntó. “¿Controlar un agujero negro? Me parece que has perdido tus canicas, loco tapón para los oídos verde “.

“No estoy familiarizado con el término”. Su anfitrión respondió. “Pero mira a nuestra posible némesis. Están dirigidos. La Línea Guía señala el camino “.

Magnuss pensó que era mejor reservarse el juicio sobre lo que estaba viendo. Por mucho que no le gustara la idea de simples tapones para los oídos tratando de controlar la fuerza más poderosa de la Galaxia, le gustaba aún menos la idea de extraterrestres despiadados y arrasadores. “Oh, excelente.” Él dijo. Pero en realidad no lo decía en serio.

Luego, rápidamente cambió de opinión. Algo le estaba sucediendo a la nave líder de la flota alienígena. Se veía decididamente hinchado. Y la formación de barcos detrás de él parecía estar deformando…

“La segunda línea”. Falsa Nellie susurró con reverencia. “La Línea de la Fuerza”.

Incluso el nervio de Hair-Trigger se rompió cuando la singularidad pareció llenar su vista…

“Por favor, dime que has hecho esto antes”. Magnuss suplicó.

“Completamos tres mil simulaciones antes de la catástrofe cuando el tsunami resultante nos abrumó”. Su anfitrión respondió.

“Oh Dios.” Dijo con voz trémula. “Estoy tan aliviado.” Y él tampoco quiso decir eso realmente. Especialmente cuando el agujero negro comenzó a girar…

Tanto él como Hair-Trigger tuvieron el tiempo justo para gritar: “¿Qué diablos?” cuando, en un abrir y cerrar de ojos, la horda alienígena fue succionada a una velocidad imposible…

… y todo lo que quedaba era un espacio exterior bueno, honesto y regular…

“La naturaleza puede aborrecer el vacío”, dijo Hair-Trigger en el silencio resultante, antes de que se oyeran vítores a lo largo del pasillo en alguna parte…

… “Pero me encanta, especialmente cuando no está lleno de naves espaciales antagónicas”.

Por supuesto, la vasta área inmediatamente alrededor del sitio de los Cuernos de Guff y sus receptores de energía ahora era un páramo…

… pero la cámara optó por ignorar eso: y, en su lugar, mostró la ciudad cercana, en la que las luces volvían a encenderse…

“Eso fue todo un espectáculo”. Dijo Magnuss aliviado. Espero que hayas vuelto a poner esa singularidad en la cama. Por cierto, nunca lo mencionaste; pero ¿cuál es tu nombre?

“¿No es así?” El tapón para los oídos de color verde pálido respondió. “Qué negligencia de mi parte”.

“¿Bien?” Hair-Trigger espetó en su mejor tono exigente. “¿Qué es?”

“No puedo recordar”. Respondió el sin nombre. “Soñé tanto en hibernación que me confundí por completo. Siento que soy tanta gente. La realidad y la fantasía se han fusionado. Sé lo que soy, pero no sé quién soy. Pero, cambiando el tema a algo que no me preocupa en lo más mínimo: noté que su nave espacial logró aterrizar de manera segura antes del ataque. Estoy bastante familiarizado con su configuración. De hecho, tenemos un modelo a escala muy bonito en uno de nuestros talleres: ¿te gustaría verlo? ”

Algunos de los pensamientos de Magnuss de antes ese día volvieron. Él también estaba un poco confundido; pero recordó haber pensado en el tiempo y el espacio y todas esas otras cosas que había dicho Madame Nellie, y las palabras mostradas en Ingeniería. Podría haber una explicación para todo esto a la vista. “Sí.” Él dijo. “Lo haríamos – mucho”. 

Dos minutos después, habiendo atravesado casi incontables pasillos, varios de los cuales habían roto y estaban abiertos al aire, ingresaron al taller requerido…

“Pero … ¡pero es el Tankerville Norris !” —Exclamó Hair-Trigger. “¿Cómo?”

Magnuss le dijo a su anfitrión: “¿Quién diseñó este barco?”

La respuesta fue instantánea y llena de asombro y deleite: “Por qué … por qué … fui yo. Diseñé esta nave. Y … y … si pudiera encontrar la placa de identificación, debería poder encontrar mi nombre en ella “.

“No hay necesidad.” Magnuss dijo mientras se acercaba con una mano restrictiva. “Se quien eres. Tu nombre es Bunson “.

El rostro de Bunson se iluminó. Pero cuando se alejaron del modelo a escala…

 … se puso más seria y dijo: “Soy Bunson. ¿Cómo puedes saber eso? “

“Porque”, explicó Magnuss, “tu subconsciencia incorpórea ha estado viajando mucho más allá de tu aldea enterrada. Has insinuado tu mente en los cuerpos de las personas, no solo en este mundo, sino también en otros. Has habitado un tapón para los oídos en el planeta Scroton, un mundo que ni siquiera existía cuando entraste en hibernación. Le regalaste el diseño de ese barco a los Scrotonites, quienes a su vez nos entregaron el artículo terminado a mi esposa y a mí, lo que nos llevó a Tah-Di-Tah, donde nos encontramos con una clarividente llamada Madame Nellie. De alguna manera, su conocimiento se transfirió a estas personas, su semejanza también. Es de suponer que esto se hizo mediante ejercicios de contorsión facial frente al espejo del baño. Pero, sea lo que sea, nos llevaste a este lugar en su momento de mayor necesidad. No sé qué talento te permitió hacer estas cosas,

“Sí.” Hair-Trigger estuvo de acuerdo. “Y también hay algo más. Ya no te llamas Bunson, al menos en Scroton. Eres Bunk-Bunk Bunson: y, te guste o no, eres un héroe “.

“Bienvenido al club.” Magnuss agregó. “Desafortunadamente, hay una penalización por ser Bunk-Bunk Bunson. No todo en el Tankerville Norris es tan perfecto como usted quiere que creamos. Por ejemplo, no podemos ver por la ventana delantera “.

“Sí.” Hair-Trigger gruñó. “Y no puedo creer que tú, como mujer, hayas diseñado el baño de mujeres. Es indescriptiblemente malo “.

Bunson no estaba preparado para la condena. “Ooh”, se las arregló…

Pero vendrían peores noticias.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 26)

I thought the story would stretch to 25 episodes. I thought wrong: welcome to episode 26…

Magnuss didn’t like the sound of that. In fact he didn’t like it so much that he stopped farting entirely. “Control?” He queried. “Control a black hole? Methinks you’ve lost your marbles, you mad green earplug.”

“I’m unfamiliar with the term.” His host replied. “But regard our would-be nemesis. They are targeted. The Guide Line points the way.”

Magnuss thought it best to reserve judgement on what he was seeing. As much as he didn’t like the idea of mere earplugs trying to control the most powerful force in the Galaxy, he liked the idea of merciless rampaging aliens even less. “Oh, excellent.” He said. But he didn’t really mean it.

Then he quickly reversed his opinion. Something was happening to the leading ship of the alien fleet. It was looking decidedly bloated. And the formation of ships behind it appeared to be twisting out of shape…

“The Second Line.” Fake Nellie whispered reverentially. “The Line of Force.”

Even Hair-Trigger’s nerve broke when the singularity seemed to fill their view…

“Please tell me you’ve done this before.” Magnuss pleaded.

“We completed three thousand simulations before the catastrophe when the resulting tsunami overwhelmed us.” Their host replied.

“Oh good.” He said with a tremulous voice. “I’m so relieved.” And he didn’t really mean that either. Especially when the black hole began rotating…

Both he and Hair-Trigger had just enough time to yell, “What the flip?” when, in a blink of an eye, the alien horde were sucked away at an impossible velocity…

…and all that remained was good, honest, regular outer space…

“Nature may abhor a vacuum,” Hair-Trigger said into the resulting silence – before cheering could be heard from along the corridor somewhere…

…”But I love it – especially when it’s not full of antagonistic space ships.”

Of course, the vast area immediately around the site of the Horns of Guff and its power receivers was now a wasteland…

…but the camera chose to ignore that: and, instead displayed the nearby city, in which the lights were coming back on…

“That was quite a show.” A relieved Magnuss said. “I hope you’ve put that singularity back to bed. By the way, you’ve never mentioned it; but what’s your name?”

“Haven’t I?” The pale green earplug responded. “How remiss of me.”

“Well?” Hair-Trigger snapped in her best demanding tone. “What is it?”

“I can’t remember.” The nameless one replied. “I dreamed so much in hibernation that I’ve become utterly confused. I feel that I am so many people. Reality and fantasy have fused. I know what I am, but I don’t know who I am. But, changing the subject to something that doesn’t trouble me in the least: I noticed that your space ship managed to land safely before the onslaught. I’m quite familiar with its configuration. In fact we have a very nice scale model of it in one of our workshops: would you like to see it?”

Some of Magnuss’ thoughts of earlier in the day returned. He too was a little confused; but he recalled thinking about time and space and all those other things that Madame Nellie had said, and the words displayed in Engineering. There might be an explanation for it all in the offing. “Yes.” He said. “We would – very much.” 

Two minutes later, having traversed almost uncountable corridors, several of which had breached and were open to the air, they entered the required workshop…

“But…but it’s the Tankerville Norris!” Hair-Trigger blurted. “How?”

To his host, Magnuss said: “Who designed this ship?”

The reply was instantaneous and filled with wonder and delight: “Why…why… it was me. I designed this ship. And…and…if I can just spot the identification plaque, I should be able to find my name on it.”

“No need.” Magnuss said as he reached out with a restraining hand. “I know who you are. Your name is Bunson.”

Bunson’s face lit up. But as they turned away from the scale model…

 …she became more serious, and said: “I am Bunson. How can you possibly know that?”

“Because,” Magnuss explained, “your disembodied sub-consciousness has been travelling around far beyond your buried village. You’ve insinuated your mind into the bodies of people – not only on this world, but others too. You have inhabited an earplug upon the planet Scroton – a world that didn’t even exist when you went into hibernation. You gifted the design of that ship to the Scrotonites, who in turn gave the finished article to my wife and I, and which led us to Tah-Di-Tah, where we encountered a clairvoyant by the name of Madame Nellie. Somehow your knowledge was transferred to these people – your likeness too. Presumably this was done by facial contortion exercises in front of the bathroom mirror. But, whatever, you led us to this place in its time of greatest need. I don’t know what talent allowed you to these things, but I’m glad you have it.”

“Yeah.” Hair-Trigger concurred. “And there’s something else too. You’re not called Bunson anymore – at least on Scroton. You’re Bunk-Bunk Bunson: and, like it or not, you’re a hero.”

“Welcome to the club.” Magnuss added. “Unfortunately there is a penalty for being Bunk-Bunk Bunson. Not everything about the Tankerville Norris is as perfect as you would have us believe. For instance, we can’t see out the front window.”

“Yeah.” Hair-Trigger growled. “And I can’t believe that you – as a female – designed the ladies toilet. It’s unspeakably bad.”

Bunson wasn’t prepared for condemnation. “Ooh,” she managed…

But worse news was to follow.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 25)

Y así, al crescendo …

“Sácanos de aquí.” Wetpatch instruyó a su compañero Sargento de Estado Mayor.

“Hay un clima desagradable allí”. Señaló Eustace Lipps. “Con el barco disparado y todo eso, el agua podría entrar y provocar un cortocircuito en algunos circuitos importantes”.

“No me importa”. Replicó Wetpatch. “Solo llévanos a algún lugar donde podamos escondernos en una cueva o algo así. Descienda de inmediato, de inmediato y de inmediato “.

Entonces, en poco tiempo…

… El golpeado y maltrecho Chuck Winker descendió en una miserable tormenta de lluvia. Naturalmente, volvieron a reducir la iluminación…

… Después de todo, no querían que nadie viera una fuente de luz sin blindaje. Pero cuando el barco aterrizó y el suave zumbido de los motores de propulsión disminuyó, la habitación se iluminó con un brillo incandescente…

Jo saltó en su asiento y se volvió hacia Wetpatch en busca de una explicación. Pero fue Jollie quien lo suministró: “Nos están escaneando sensores”. El anunció…

… “por una farola muy curiosa”.

Poco sospechaba la tripulación del Chuck Winker , pero el personal científico de la aldea anteriormente enterrada había estado esperando que su barco aterrizara para poder comenzar las hostilidades con el enemigo de la única manera que conocían: el sistema defensivo ahora conocido, y referido, como Las Líneas de Tah-Di-Tah. Sobre la colina, justo al norte del fiordo sedimentado, el suelo se abrió y el fuego y el azufre estallaron hacia el cielo…

Dentro de la instalación principal de la aldea científica, que, durante el retraso, había sido devuelta a la funcionalidad completa por los miembros del personal despertados…

… Hair-Trigger y Magnuss observaron, mientras su guía (y Madame Nellie parecidos) explicaban que estaban viendo la aparición de los receptores de energía para el dispositivo principal que creó The Lines. Bueno, Hair-Trigger lo era: Magnuss no se atrevía a hacerlo. Pero cuando los receptores atravesaron el cielo oscurecido…

… pensó que podría echar un vistazo rápido. Pero cuando los vio, en todo su esplendor…

… en realidad aplaudió. Fueron magníficos. A pesar de todo lo que había visto en su corta pero aventurera vida, estaba asombrado por ellos. Luego, cuando hizo una pausa para respirar, algo más emergió en el aire que no había probado en mil años…

“Er, ¿qué es eso?” Preguntó mientras su temible trasero liberaba una nube visible de gas desagradable.

“Los cuernos de Guff”. Respondió la pseudo-Nellie. “Diseñado por nuestro fabuloso fundador, Frank Guff”.

“¿Qué hacen realmente los Cuernos de Guff?” Hair-Trigger preguntó: “Además de parecer realmente intimidante e increíblemente artístico, por supuesto”.

“Es una de las líneas”. La explicación llegó rápidamente. “Esta es la línea guía”.

Ésta no era exactamente la explicación que buscaba Hair-Trigger. Fue demasiado vago. Pero pensó que todo se revelaría con el tiempo. Y se distrajo momentáneamente cuando la vanguardia de la flota de invasión abrió fuego desde la órbita. También estaba intrigada por el sistema de focalización alienígena. Había oído hablar de Point and Shoot; pero nunca lo había visto practicado a una escala tan grande. Fue simple, pero efectivo.

Pero luego su atención volvió a los Cuernos de Guff. O más bien lo que los Cuernos de Guff estaban haciendo que sucediera en el cielo sobre ellos…

¿Era esa la imagen de la flota alienígena que podía ver, enmarcada por (lo que solo podría ser) un sistema de objetivos mucho más complejo que el que ahora se está perpetrando contra Tah-Di-Tah?

Por supuesto, no tenía idea de que a cientos de años luz de distancia, una Singularidad (o Agujero Negro, como se le conocía más comúnmente) estaba ocupada haciendo todo lo posible para interrumpir el espacio / tiempo en miles de millones de kilómetros a su alrededor…

Pero su ignorancia duró sólo unos segundos más, porque la Pseudo-Nellie gritó: “Ahí está. Han pasado mil años desde la última vez que contemplamos su poder. Una singularidad singular, y es nuestro para controlar… “

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 25)

And so, to the building crescendo…

“Get us out of here.” Wetpatch instructed his fellow Staff Sergeant.

“There’s some nasty weather down there.” Eustace Lipps noted. “With the ship all shot up and stuff, water might get in and short out some important circuits.”

“Don’t care.” Wetpatch retorted. “Just get us somewhere we might be able to hide in a cave or something. Descend immediately, forthwith, and straight away.”

So, before long…

…the beaten and battered Chuck Winker descended into a miserable rain storm. Naturally they reduced the illumination again…

…after all they didn’t want anyone spotting an unshielded light source. But as the ship touched down, and the gentle whine of the drive motors subsided, the room brightened into incandescent brilliance…

Jo jumped in his seat and turned to Wetpatch for an explanation. But it was Jollie who supplied it: “We’re being sensor-scanned.” He announced…

…”by a very inquisitive streetlight.”

Little did the crew of the Chuck Winker suspect, but the scientific personnel of the formerly buried village had been waiting for their ship to land so that they could commence hostilities with the enemy in the only way they knew: the defensive system now known, and referred to, as The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah. Over the hill, just north of the silted fiord, the ground cracked open and fire and brimstone burst skyward…

Inside the scientific village main facility, which, during the delay, had been returned to full functionality by its woken staff members…

…Hair-Trigger and Magnuss watched, whilst their guide (and Madame Nellie look-alike) explained that they were watching the emergence of the power receivers for the main device that created The Lines. Well Hair-Trigger was: Magnuss couldn’t quite bring himself to. But as the receivers speared the darkened sky…

…he thought he might take a quick peek. But when he saw them – in all their glory…

…he actually cheered. They were magnificent. Despite all that he had seen in his short, but adventurous life, he was awed by them. Then, as he paused for breath, something else emerged into the air that it had not tasted for a thousand years…

“Er, what’s that?” He inquired as his fearful bottom released a visible cloud of obnoxious gas.

“The Horns of Guff.” The pseudo-Nellie replied. “Designed by our fabulous founder, Frank Guff.”

“What do the Horns of Guff actually do?” Hair-Trigger asked, “Besides looking really intimidating and incredibly arty, of course.”

“It’s one of the lines.” The explanation came quickly. “This is The Guide Line.”

This wasn’t quite the explanation Hair-Trigger sought. It was too vague. But she figured all would reveal itself in time. And she was momentarily distracted when the vanguard of the invasion fleet opened fire from orbit. She was also intrigued by the alien targeting system. She had heard of Point and Shoot; but she’d never seen it practiced on such a grand scale. It was simple – but effective.

But then her attention was drawn back to the Horns of Guff. Or rather what the Horns of Guff were causing to happen in the sky above them…

Was that the image of the alien fleet she could see – framed by (what could only be) a far more complex targeting system than the one now being perpetrated against Tah-Di-Tah?

Of course she had no idea that hundreds of light years distant, a Singularity (or Black Hole as it was more commonly known) was busy doing its best to disrupt space/time for billions of kilometres around it…

But her ignorance lasted only a few seconds longer, because the Pseudo-Nellie cried out: “There it is. A thousand years have passed since we last gazed upon its might. A singular singularity – and it’s ours to control…”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 24)

Ha sido muy divertido crear The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah , y lamento que tenga que terminar. Pero terminar debe, y este es uno de los episodios finales. Ya casi terminamos aquí. Booooo. De todos modos, disfruta de los remanentes…

Capítulo 8

Mientras la revelación se acumulaba sobre la revelación dentro del fiordo excavado, lejos de Tah-Di-Tah, la tripulación del Chuck Winker había reconocido rápidamente el hecho de que habían mordido mucho más de lo que podían masticar. Cada arma que tenían estaba siendo utilizada contra un enemigo tan numeroso que eran incontables…

Y el Tankerville Norris había sufrido tanto daño que se vio obligado a huir de regreso a Tah-Di-Tah. Casi cayó a través de la atmósfera, derramando plasma impulsor mientras lo hacía…

Además, aunque la caballería estaba contabilizando muchos de los disparos dirigidos a ellos…

… algunos fallaron por completo, y ahora llovió fuego mortal sobre la superficie de Tah-Di-Tah…

Un disparo perdido, en particular, casi atrapó al Tankerville Norris con un golpe potencialmente aplastante mientras corría por la superficie a casi cero altitud…

Para su crédito, parte de la población local respondió bien a la solicitud original de asistencia militar de Tankerville Norris . La cooperativa de agricultores se había unido para empaquetar tanto fertilizante a base de fosfato como pudieron en un viejo y destartalado remolcador espacial. Cuando estuvo lleno, encendieron una mecha y la lanzaron contra la flota espacial entrante…

Fue una iniciativa audaz de un grupo de conductores de tractores; pero finalmente estaba condenado al fracaso. Apenas había atravesado las nubes, cuando un disparo perdido lo alcanzó en medio del barco…

“Maldito”, se escuchó decir a uno de los miembros de la cooperativa de agricultores, “si quiero que mis campos produzcan una cosecha decente, cuando llegue el momento de la cosecha, tendré que usar excrementos en ellos. ¡Y solo estamos yo y la esposa! “

La situación en el espacio fue un poco mejor. De hecho, fue espantoso. Un rayo de energía alienígena destruyó el armamento principal del Chuck Winker

Para aquellos en el puente, esto fue nada menos que calamitoso. Wetpatch miró a Jo. “Ha sido un honor servir contigo, Jo”. Dijo gravemente.

Jo, aterrorizada, miró hacia atrás. “A qué te refieres, durante nuestro tiempo en la caballería en general; o esta pequeña escapada?

“Ambos”, respondió Wetpatch. “Y ahora somos patos fáciles, esperando el golpe de gracia “.

“Siempre podemos apagar las luces y adoptar el modo sigiloso y alejarnos sin que nos vean”. Sugirió Scroda Hootner.

Fue una excelente sugerencia: así lo hicieron…

… y los alienígenas se quedaron disparando a las sombras.

—Somos buenos tapones de caballería —gruñó Wetpatch bajo la tenue iluminación—, sentados en la oscuridad. Y ni siquiera pude gritar ‘¡Carga!’ “

“Y me olvidé de empacar mi corneta”. Miguel admitió algo avergonzado.

“¿Qué, así que ahora nos quedamos y esperamos que todos los malos se vayan?” Jo se quejó. “Debe haber alguna forma de llegar al planeta. ¿Podemos izar una vela solar o algo así?

“Bueno, podríamos probar algo llamado The Dark Energy Drive”. Dijo Jollie Huggup mientras miraba sus lecturas oscurecidas. “Tengo el botón de inicio aquí, creo”.

Momentos después…  

… el Dark Energy Drive se activó y abandonaron la región del espacio detrás de una pantalla de “humo” de partículas exóticas.

Una hora más tarde…

“Tah-Di-Tah viene, Wetpatch”. Anunció Miguel Angel-Grinder. “No hay defensas planetarias obvias. ¿Quieres que entremos por la noche?

Con la flota alienígena a solo una hora detrás de ellos, Wetpatch consideró esta sugerencia como el curso de acción más sabio…

“Claro”, dijo, “pero tendremos que encender un poco las luces: no quiero presionar los botones equivocados y hacer algo realmente estúpido como desconectar el Infinite Reality Drive o expulsar el baño”.

Pero, habiéndolo hecho, se dieron cuenta de un hecho importante…

“¡Es la maldita flota!” Jo gritó con desesperación. “¡Deben haber dejado de disparar contra la nada y nos han seguido hasta aquí!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 24)

It has been a lot of fun creating The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah, and I’m just sorry that it has to end. But end it must, and this is one of the final episodes. We’re nearly done here. Booooo. Anyway, enjoy the remnants…

Chapter 8

Whilst revelation piled upon revelation inside the excavated fiord, far away from Tah-Di-Tah the crew of the Chuck Winker had quickly recognised the fact that they had bitten off way more than they could chew. Every weapon they had was being brought to bear upon a foe so numerous that they were beyond counting…

And the Tankerville Norris had sustained so much damage that it was forced to flee back to Tah-Di-Tah. It fairly fell through the atmosphere – spilling drive plasma as it did so…

Further, although the cavalry were accounting for many of the shots aimed at them…

…some missed completely, and now rained deadly fire down upon the surface of Tah-Di-Tah…

One stray shot, in particular, almost caught the Tankerville Norris a potentially crushing blow as it raced across the surface at almost zero altitude…

To their credit, some of the local population responded well to the Tankerville Norris’ original request for military assistance. A farmer’s co-operative had banded together to pack as much phosphate-based fertilizer as they could into an old, dilapidated space-tug. When it was full, they lit a fuse and launched it at the incoming space fleet…

It was a bold initiative by a bunch of tractor-drivers; but ultimately it was doomed to failure. No sooner had it passed through the clouds, when a stray shot caught it amidships…

“Bugger,” one of the members of the farmer’s co-operative was heard to utter, “If I want my fields to deliver a decent crop, come harvest time, I’m gonna have to use excrement on ‘em. And there’s only me and the wife!”

The situation in space was little better. In fact it was awful. An alien energy beam knocked out the Chuck Winker’s main armament…

For those on the bridge, this was nothing less than calamitous. Wetpatch looked to Jo. “It has been an honour serving with you, Jo.” He said gravely.

A terrified Jo looked back. “What you mean, during our time in the cavalry in general; or this little escapade?”

“Both,” Wetpatch answered. “And now we’re sitting ducks – just waiting for the coup de grace.”

“We could always turn off the lights and adopt stealth mode and creep away unnoticed.” Scroda Hootner suggested.

It was an excellent suggestion: so they did…

…and the aliens were left shooting at shadows.

“Fine cavalry-plugs we are,” Wetpatch grumbled in the subdued lighting, “sitting around in the dark. And I never even got to shout ‘Charge!’”

“And I forgot to pack my bugle.” Miguel admitted, somewhat shamefaced.

“What, so now we just hang around and hope all the bad guys go away?” Jo complained. “There must be some way to get to the planet. Can we hoist a solar sail or something?”

“Well we could try something called The Dark Energy Drive.” Jollie Huggup said as he peered at his darkened read-outs. “I’ve got the start button here – I think.”

Moments later…  

…the Dark Energy Drive kicked in, and they departed the region of space behind a ‘smoke’ screen of exotic particles.

An hour later…

“Tah-Di-Tah coming up, Wetpatch.” Miguel Angel-Grinder announced. “No obvious planetary defences. Want us to go in on the night side?”

With the alien fleet just an hour behind them, Wetpatch considered this suggestion the wisest course of action…

“Sure,” he said, “but we’ll have to turn the lights up a bit: I don’t wanna press the wrong buttons and do something really stupid like disconnect the Infinite Reality Drive or eject the lavatory.”

But, having done so, they became aware of an important fact…

“It’s the sodding fleet!” Jo yelled with despair. “They must have given up shooting at nothing and followed us here!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Still Unwilling to Walk Away

In my post Never Quite Willing to Walk Away I reminded readers of the existence of my more serious works. Well the ones that sell from time to time – those being my ‘Silent‘ books. So I thought that the two that don’t sell should get an airing too. After all, if you don’t know what you’re missing, you won’t want to buy them, will you?  No, you won’t. So please be aware that this pair of books…

…remain on sale at most proper e-book sellers, like Amazon, B&N, Lulu, etc. And yes, Clive Thunderbolt is me. I use the name to distinguish the more violent (and slightly sexual) stuff from the family orientated (though still violent) Paul Trevor Nolan titled stuff. My son made up the name. It was supposed to show me that Tooty Nolan was a stupid name for an author – even if I am Tooty Nolan. He used Clive Thunderbolt as an example of another stupid name; and, to his dismay, I embraced it instantly – whilst missing the point entirely. Anyway, to the excerpts…

Captive Echo

“How the hell did you get here?”  Wycksford Chief Administrator, Alice Wilkins – echoed Katherine as she stood glaring across her desk at Wozniak.

Len, Katherine, and two armed guards – both of whom appeared considerably more professional than their opposite numbers in Brambledown – stood behind Wozniak, who was the only seated person there. The last time Wozniak had seen Alice Wilkins she had been handing him the keys to The Peaks.

“You’re the brain box around here, Alice.” He grumbled his annoyance.” All I know is that I went to bed in my version of The Peaks, and woke up in yours. I’m a mere passenger – and an unwilling one at that!”

“That’s it? How does that help us?” Alice clearly wanted more. She turned to Katherine, “Major – get him out of here: I’m a busy woman.”

‘Major?’ Wozniak thought in surprise.

Katherine must have read his mind. “Field commission.” She explained, “We’re on the brink of war with Droxfield. Please, Peter – there must be some significance to your being here. Think – is there anything that you might have missed?”

Though she tried to conceal it, Wozniak could hear the desperation in Katherine’s voice. He tried to cast his mind back to the previous evening.

“Well there was the phone problem. None of them worked.”

“You were isolated, then?” Alice leaned forward across her desk. “What about any other electronic equipment: was that affected in any way?”

“Is it significant?” Wozniak asked in turn.

“I don’t know.” Alice answered honestly. “Perhaps. I’m just collating information right now. Perhaps I can come up with a theory later. Well – was it?”

Wozniak shook his head “Nothing. Sorry. I didn’t watch television. I didn’t listen to radio. Yet, oddly, when I think about it, I did feel strangely isolated. And there was Len, of course.”

All eyes turned from Wozniak to Len Peters.

“His alternate in my reality spoke to me during the evening.” Wozniak tried to explain, “He said you were in trouble.”

“Len?” Alice enquired gently of the old man.

“I have these dreams. I dream about another Len Peters. Day dreams, I s’pose you’d call ‘em.” Len spoke clearly at first, but then stumbled. How could he explain the fact that for the entire duration of his life he had been in communication with his inter-dimensional twin from a world like this, but which was uniquely different?

But these people seem to know all about the other side,’ he thought, ‘Perhaps they’ll understand.’

It took a few more moments of introspection before he realized that they were all waiting for him to continue.

“He talks back. I know all about his world, and he knows all about mine.” He told them. “Between us we seem to understand more about our own worlds by seeing what happens in the other. I told the other Len about me killing Wozniak. I told him why I did it too.”

Wozniak got his question before the eager Alice could open her mouth:

“So why did you suggest that I could help? How did you learn about the events of last year? Surely it must have been totally hush-hush, need-to-know, sort of stuff on this side?”

Len was clearly hiding something. He shifted his feet like a nervous schoolboy, and his eyes avoided direct contact with anyone else’s.

Katherine cleared her throat.

“Ah, that would be me.” She announced.

“What’s this, Major?” Alice exclaimed. “Are we talking about a serious security breach here?”

Katherine gave her superior a look of apology.

“Len’s my uncle.” She explained. “I’ve always looked upon him as a sort of wise old owl. I tell him all my troubles: he helps me keep them in perspective. He helps me deal with things. When you told me about my mission last year – I went straight to Uncle Len. He gave me the courage to see it through. He’s not a security breach: he’s an absolute necessity and a guardian angel.”

“You didn’t tell me nothin’ ‘bout your rape.” The object of the women’s conversation complained sharply.

“I knew how you’d react.” Katherine replied without looking at her uncle. “I didn’t want you executed for murder.”

“Security breach or absolute necessity aside,” Alice interrupted, “what made you think this Peter Wozniak could do anything about our problems?”

Katherine placed a hand upon Wozniak’s shoulder. To Alice she said: “Because…oh I don’t know. It’s just that I felt he could help somehow. I know there’s no logic involved – but you’ve never experienced crossing over. You get feelings…Call it a sixth sense if you will. But it changes a person. Maybe it makes them more receptive to…Again, I don’t know. I can’t put it into words. But when I saw him in the road with Uncle Len, I wasn’t in the least surprised – even though I knew logically that he couldn’t possibly be there – here I mean.”

Alice sat down.

“Yet here he is.”

She decided to abandon any thoughts of recrimination.

“Despite all the contrary facts and theories we have concerning LDD, Mister Wozniak is here; and I’d bloody well like to know how he did it!”

Abruptly she stood again.

“But I don’t have the energy to ponder this problem right now. I don’t have the luxury of time on my side either. Droxfield aren’t going to get our data, despite what they think; and they are going to attack at some point in the near future, because I’m damned if we’re going to roll over and watch as the work of generations of Wycksford people is pulled apart – or worse. I’m needed elsewhere right now: Major – despite some aberrant behaviour committed by yourself and your uncle – your commission stands. Take care of things here in my absence. But do me this favour: just try to avoid crossing over into another space/time continuum whilst my back is turned.”

With that she collected a file of papers from a drawer, and left the room – her two guards scuttling out behind her.

The room seemed strangely empty to Wozniak now that only he, Len, and Katherine remained.

“Well I think that went well under the circumstances.” He said. “You’re still a Major, and Len and I aren’t locked up.”

Katherine dropped into the seat so recently vacated by Alice. It was still warm.

“If only she would allow someone else to oversee our defence.” She said. “She’s a good administrator: but she’s a better theorist. I don’t know why, but I’m certain that your transfer here is no coincidence. It must be vitally important. I just wish I knew why and how.”

“Look, my ego is big enough already.” Wozniak tried a smile as he spoke. “I don’t need to be told how remarkable I am: I know that already.”

Katherine smiled minutely. “It’s just that, contrary to what she just said to you, she does have the beginning of a theory. She told me about it a month ago. If she’s right – then the timing of Droxfield’s action couldn’t have been better timed. Or worse, perhaps – depending upon what happens next.”  She looked at Wozniak directly. “At the risk of exploding your ego into a state of megalomania – I truly believe that you can make a difference, Peter. Your timing isn’t necessarily the result of destiny – but it is serendipitous.” She stood again, and made for the door. “We’re not on war rations just yet: anyone hungry? I know I am. And maybe we can find an ice pack for those swollen bollocks of yours.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Present Imperfect

Wozniak, Janice, and Tom hadn’t wanted to draw attention to themselves as they slipped unobtrusively from the A&E waiting room of Crampton General Hospital, but such was their urgency to leave that they began scurrying once they’d emerged into the central corridor. Half way along its length Janice began to complain about the pain that her injuries were now causing her, so Wozniak simply picked her up, and holding her in his arms before him, he broke into a run. They emerged into the air at a fair gallop, and several nurses arriving for work were forced to skip aside.

“Sorry.” Janice called over Wozniak’s departing shoulder.

“Keys.” Tom said as he allowed his brother to catch up.

Janice fished through her pockets. She tossed the car keys to the large man. She then watched as he accelerated ahead, dodging a slow-moving road-cleaning truck, and approached Wozniak’s parked car. She also saw him pull up short. His body language suggested surprise.

Once the cleaning truck had passed, Wozniak placed Janice upon her feet, and together they were able to join Tom. They were shocked to see Amanda standing upon the opposite side of the vehicle.

“She wants to know how Connor’s getting on.” Tom informed them.

“Like you care!” Janice spat the words at Amanda.

“I do care.” Amanda said defensively. “I’d never wish harm on Connor.”

“That’s rich.” Janice scoffed. “You’re the one who put him in hospital!”

“I didn’t mean to.” Amanda looked chagrined. “Blame it on my adrenal gland: it’s designed to be over-active.”

Janice wasn’t giving up. “And your libido?”

“Ditto.” Amanda chanced a small smile, “Though I don’t believe anyone has ever come to harm because of that particular facet of my physiology. I’m guaranteed disease-free by the way. Totally immune, And I don’t carry.”

“That’s a relief.” Tom wiped his brow. “Not that I doubted you for a minute.”

“He’s in good hands, if that’s what you need to know.” Wozniak told her gently. “He’s in no danger.” He then added, “Where’s Jart?”

Amanda shrugged her shoulders. “He’s fast, but he’s not that fast.” She replied. “Once I had the car up to speed he gave up. I expect he’ll be making his way back to The Peaks by now.”

“What?” Janice exploded. “Dave and Judith are there. If he gets in…” Janice didn’t dare speak the words. “Oh my god – poor Judith!”

“And poor Dave too.” Tom added. “He’ll die trying to protect her!”

Amanda looked around the car park frantically. “You mean they didn’t come with you? When I saw your car go past like the hounds of hell were chasing it I assumed you were all aboard. That’s when I made my break for freedom. Oh fuck!”

Wozniak didn’t waste another second in discussion or recriminations. “Get in the car!” He shouted.

It had been a manic drive out of the town in the direction of Brambledown, and it had tested Wozniak’s driving skills to the limit. He’d prayed all the way that no police cars spotted him, and came in pursuit: He wasn’t about to stop for anyone. Tom had phoned ahead to warn Dave and Judith. Wozniak suggested that they lock themselves in the cellar, which they agreed to do. But now, as they drove into The Peaks, they could see the younger couple waiting for them at the door.

Hurrying from the car to the house, they were all beckoned inside. Once in the hallway, Dave shut the door and threw the heavy cast iron bolt across. Janice then proceeded into her natural habitat – the kitchen, whilst Tom joined Dave and Judith on guard duties.

“I promise – this time I’ll lead him away.” Amanda assured Wozniak as they entered the dining room. “If I’d known they were here I’d never have driven off.”

Wozniak turned and grasped Amanda’s shoulders. He could feel the incredible musculature beneath the skin. He felt certain that if she were to take on a fully-grown male chimpanzee in a fight, the chimp would be slaughtered in the opening seconds.

Amanda must have sensed his thoughts. “You think I’m tough: I’m breakfast for men like Jart. I could take on both Tom and you, and you’d both be dead before you’d even thought about where to land your first punch. Don’t be stupid: Don’t try to take him on.”

“We have a weapon.” Wozniak confided in her.

An eyebrow arched.

“He needs sunlight to reach his full potential, right?”

Amanda appeared to warm to the idea immediately. She nodded, and added, “Full potential, yes: But he’s still pretty awesome at half potential.”

“But he’s been using quite a bit of energy today, wouldn’t you say? What with all that chasing after you.”

Amanda shrugged her shoulders in ambivalence. “To a certain extent. But if he’s eaten…”

“What would happen if we were able to cut off his light source?”

Amanda paused to consider this before she replied. “He’d be running on internal power.”

“Like we do.” Wozniak said, a huge grin spreading across his face. “He would tire in a fight. Keep at him for long enough and he’d soon be knackered. One of us could get in the killing blow.”

Amanda dropped into a chair. Wozniak seated himself opposite her.

“Well there’s your problem.” She said as she stared sightlessly out of the window through one jet back eye, and the other appearing quite normal. “Keep at him long enough. How long is long enough. He’d have incapacitated or killed you all long before you reach that situation.”

Wozniak’s expression took on a look of cunning. “But what if we found ourselves some reinforcements? Lots of reinforcements?”

Amanda was intrigued. “Please – continue.”

Wozniak was about to speak when he found that his hands were empty. “Oh shit.” He said. “I’ve left my baseball bat in the car. Be back in a moment.”

He then stood, entered the hallway, and drew back the lock. “I’m just visiting the car.” He called through to Tom who was watching the garden.

He received a thumbs-up.

Wozniak had left the baseball bat between the front seats, so he automatically went to retrieve via the drivers’ side. He’d just dropped into his seat when the door slammed shut on him. He didn’t have time for a single expletive before the car was rocked violently, and turned entirely upon its side. Wozniak clung on to the steering wheel in an attempt to keep himself in position as the car continued to roll over. It then crashed down on to its roof, and Wozniak was toppled from his seat.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

 

 

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 23)

Cuando eso no funcionó, intentó patear el dispositivo con sus pies calzados con sandalias espaciales. Momentos después, la cápsula se abrió, lo que permitió que los únicos tapones para los oídos animados en la habitación arrastraran el cuerpo fuera de ella…

“No se ve muy bien”. Hair-Trigger opinó.

Magnuss tuvo que estar de acuerdo, especialmente cuando la lengua del tapón para los oídos femenino colgaba…

“Oh, tenía razón la primera vez”. Hair-Trigger dijo con total naturalidad. “Vamos muy tarde; pero solo justo “.

Pero luego, para confundirla y hacerla parecer una mentirosa, el tapón para los oídos se colocó en posición vertical y tosió varias veces…

“Jeepers”, graznó, “¿Qué estoy haciendo aquí? ¿Dónde estoy? ¿Hay un baño cerca?

Luego, cuando sus sentidos regresaron y los recuerdos inundaron su conciencia, corrió hacia el panel de control y comenzó a operarlo febrilmente…

“Tú eres el equipo de rescate”, dijo por encima del hombro, “debo despertar a todos los demás. Necesitaremos construir otra instalación en otro fiordo. Quizás en algún lugar del norte. Me gustan los fiordos. Algunos prefieren los desiertos, pero el aire es demasiado seco para mí: no puedo escupir “.

Ninguno de los recién casados ​​quería interrumpir el tapón para los oídos de otra época: estaba claro que todavía no estaba totalmente compos mentis . Le tomaría tiempo descubrir el equilibrio mental, especialmente si era realmente su conciencia separada lo que Magnuss había sentido antes. Estaba a punto de decir algo como; “Pobre mujer, debe estar tan confundida: probablemente no sepa su culo de su codo”, cuando notó algo inusual en ella.

“Peluda”, susurró, “¿no se parece a Madame Nellie?”

Hair-Trigger cambió de rumbo mental. “Sí.” Ella dijo. “Pero no tiene sentido: no puede ser Madame Nellie. E incluso si tienen algún tipo de proyector de visión que podría haber colocado su imagen dentro de su tienda y choza, no explica cómo la imagen podría haberle dado a esos dos tapones para los oídos locales cien Smackeroos. En cualquier caso, ella estaba en animación suspendida “.

“Pero su conciencia nos reconoció cuando activamos automáticamente la tecnología avanzada cuando entramos en la aldea”. Magnuss argumentó. “¿De qué otra manera podrían haberse transmitido nuestras imágenes en esa enorme pantalla mural?”

Mientras se llevaba a cabo esta desconcertante conversación, el científico del pasado había reanimado con éxito a todos los ocupantes de las cápsulas de hibernación de la habitación. Ahora estaban de pie, luciendo un poco aturdidos, esperando una instrucción…

“En ese momento, equipo”. El tapón para los oídos verde pálido gritó: “Sé que todos se sienten un poco peor por el uso, pero no temas; Han llegado nuestros rescatadores. Mira aquí están “.

Luego se volvió hacia Magnuss y Hair-Trigger. Ella dijo: “¿Quizás le gustaría indicarles dónde ir? Ah, y tal vez podrían presentarse a ellos. Esa sería una buena manera de romper el hielo, por así decirlo. Disculpe el juego de palabras: esto es un centro de animación suspendido y todo eso “.

Esta era la oportunidad que Magnuss había estado esperando desde que tuvo una idea repentina e inspirada. O unos quince segundos, más o menos un segundo.

“Seguramente deberías presentarnos a tu equipo”. Él dijo. “Protocolo y todo”.

Sin cuestionar su ridícula sugerencia, el tapón para los oídos de color verde pálido dijo: “Seguro: Equipo – este es Magnuss y Hair-Trigger Earplug: ellos …” Se detuvo abruptamente. “¿Cómo lo supe? ¿Cómo pude haber sabido eso? “

“Tú eres el psíquico del pueblo”. Un individuo amarillo con ojos blancos saltones habló desde el extremo opuesto de la habitación. “Cuando pasamos a la animación suspendida, nuestros cerebros no dejan de funcionar por completo. Algunos de nosotros soñamos y vivimos vidas que son irreales pero que nos parecen reales. Es solo una teoría que acabo de pensar, pero es posible que en lugar de soñar, hayas estado llevando una vida indirecta. Es decir, es posible que haya utilizado la mente y el cuerpo de otra persona para experimentar una realidad verdadera. Si alguien pudiera, serías tú. Explicaría la situación aparentemente inexplicable en la que se encuentra ahora “.

“Eso es lo que yo también estaba pensando”. Magnuss habló antes que nadie y, por lo tanto, lo confundió. Por cierto, ¿puedo llamarte Nellie? Ese es el nombre con el que te has estado usando durante tu vida como vicario como adivino en el bazar local “.

Una ‘Nellie’ estupefacta asintió con la cabeza. Luego observó y escuchó mientras Magnuss y Hair-Trigger les contaban todo lo que sabían, que incluía el hecho de que habían pasado siglos; el planeta ahora se llamaba Tah-Di-Tah; y que una flota de invasión alienígena estaba a solo unas horas de distancia…

“Entonces”, dijo Hair-Trigger en conclusión, “si puedes poner en marcha tus ‘Líneas’ y hacer que hagan lo que sea que hagan para librarnos de la amenaza de subyugación o exterminio, nosotros – y todos en Tah -Di-Tah – estaría muy agradecido “.

“Lo tienes.” Respondieron al unísono y salieron corriendo de la habitación.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 23)

So, as the end nears, you must enjoy  every crumb and morsel of the tale. Pay close attention to the science-fiction cliches that I toss about with abandon: it might make some sense. Read on…

When that didn’t work he tried kicking the device with his space-sandal-shod feet. Moments later the pod popped open, which allowed the only animated earplugs in the room to drag the body from it…

“She doesn’t look very well.” Hair-Trigger opined.

Magnuss had to agree – especially when the female earplug’s tongue lolled…

“Oh, I was right the first time.” Hair-Trigger said matter-of-factly. “We are too late; but only just.”

But then, to confound her and make her appear a liar, the earplug rolled into an upright position and coughed several times…

“Jeepers,” she croaked, “What am I doing here? Where am I? Is there a lavatory nearby?”

Then, as her senses returned and memories flooded back into her consciousness, she dashed to the control panel and began operating it feverishly…

“You’re the rescue team,” she said over her shoulder, “I must awaken everyone else. We’ll need to build another facility in another fiord. Somewhere to the North perhaps. I like fiords. Some prefer deserts – but the air is just too dry for me: I can’t spit.”

Neither newlywed wanted to interrupt the earplug from another era: clearly she wasn’t totally compos mentis quite yet. It would take time for her to discover mental equilibrium, especially if it was really her detached consciousness that Magnuss had sensed earlier. He was about to say something like; “Poor female, she must be so confused: she probably doesn’t know her arse from her elbow”, when he noticed something unusual about her.

“Hairy,” he whispered, “doesn’t she look like Madame Nellie!”

Hair-Trigger shifted mental gears. “Yes.” She said. “But it makes no sense: she can’t be Madame Nellie. And even if they have some kind of vision projector that might have placed her image inside her tent and hovel, it doesn’t explain how the image could have given those two local earplugs one hundred Smackeroos. In any case – she was in suspended animation.”

“But her consciousness recognised us when we automatically activated the advanced tech when we entered the village.” Magnuss argued. “How else could our images have been transmitted on that huge wall screen?”

Whilst this perplexing conversation was taking place, the scientist from the past had successfully reanimated every occupant of the room’s hibernation pods. They now stood, looking slightly dazed, awaiting an instruction…

“Right then, team.” The pale green earplug bellowed, “I know you’re all feeling a bit worse for wear, but fear not; our rescuers have arrived. Look here they are.”

She then turned to Magnuss and Hair-Trigger. She said: “Perhaps you’d like to instruct them where to go? Oh, and maybe you could introduce yourselves to them. That would be a nice way to break the ice, so-to-speak. Excuse the pun – what with this being a suspended animation centre and everything.”

This was the opportunity Magnuss had been waiting for since he’d had a sudden and inspired idea. Or about fifteen seconds, give or take a second.

“Surely you should introduce us to your team.” He said. “Protocol and everything.”

Without questioning his ridiculous suggestion, the pale green earplug said: “Sure: Team – this is Magnuss and Hair-Trigger Earplug: they…” She stopped abruptly. “How did I know that? How could I possibly have known that?”

”You are the village psychic.” A yellow individual with bulging white eyes spoke from the opposite end of the room. “When we go into suspended animation, our brains don’t cease to function entirely. Some of us dream and live lives that are unreal but seem real – to us. It’s only a theory that I’ve just thought up, but it might be possible that instead of dreaming, you could have been leading a vicarious life. That is, you may have used the mind and body of someone else to experience a true reality. If anyone could, it would be you. It would explain the seemingly inexplicable situation you now find yourself in.”

“That’s what I was thinking too.” Magnuss spoke before anyone else did and thereby confuse him. “By the way, may I call you Nellie? That’s the name you’ve been going by during your vicarious life as a fortune teller in the local bazaar.”

A dumbfounded ‘Nellie’ nodded her permission. She then watched and listened as Magnuss and Hair-Trigger told them everything that they knew, which included the fact that centuries had passed; the planet was now named Tah-Di-Tah; and that an alien invasion fleet was mere hours away…

“So,” Hair-Trigger said in conclusion, “if you can get your ‘Lines’ kick-started, and make them do whatever it is they do to rid us of the threat of subjugation or extermination, we – and everyone on Tah-Di-Tah – would be very grateful.”

“You got it.” They replied in unison, and raced from the room.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 22)

Mientras tanto, en los restos de la aldea enterrada, Magnuss y Hair-Trigger habían descubierto una extraña habitación que parecía desafiar las leyes de la física…

“No sólo las leyes de la física”, refunfuñó Hair-Trigger, “sino también las leyes de la estética”.

“Podría ser el resultado de una fuga de radiación”. Magnuss sugirió nerviosamente. Luego, para animarse, agregó: “Alternativamente, podría ser un equipo que se haya encendido automáticamente cuando detectó nuestra presencia, pero debido a que ha estado inactivo durante siglos, debe volver a calibrarse”.

Esta era una idea mucho más aceptable, pero a Hair-Trigger realmente no le importaba de una forma u otra: verlo solo le daba náuseas. Así que fue un gran alivio que lo cruzaron en buen orden y rápido, y salieron por una puerta práctica…

“Ah, esto es más parecido”. Magnuss dijo mientras Hair-Trigger dirigía a la habitación anterior una rápida mirada de desprecio hacia atrás. “Esto parece más tapón para los oídos”.

Pero, cuando el corredor azul se abrió a (lo que Magnuss supuso que era) una gran vía…

… se sintió un poco menos seguro de su última declaración. Y Hair-Trigger lo odiaba absolutamente. Pero cuando se encontraron cayendo en un movimiento de paseo, se les ocurrió la similitud con una calle concurrida de la ciudad…

“Esto es muy agradable”. Magnuss dijo mientras sonreía por primera vez en años. “En su apogeo, este debe haber sido un lugar muy popular. Puedes imaginar a todas las multitudes por la noche, en la ciudad, yendo a espectáculos, restaurantes y cosas así “.

Hair-Trigger no estaba convencido. “Esta era una comunidad científica, llena de cabezas de huevo y personas con cerebros más grandes que el promedio, pensando en cosas realmente avanzadas y luego haciéndolas funcionar”.

Magnuss no iba a discutir: tal vez ambos tuvieran razón. Pero luego pensó que ambos podrían estar equivocados también, porque…

… se encontraron de pie frente a una enorme pared de video que los mostraba, como se ve en la tienda de Madame Nellie. No hubo audio, pero ambos tapones para los oídos pudieron recordar sus palabras anteriores.

“Magnuss”, dijo Hair-Trigger con una voz que sonaba inusualmente pequeña e incierta, “¿cómo es esto posible?”

Magnuss tuvo que pensar en eso. Para pensar de la manera más eficiente, se imaginó a sí mismo de pie bajo el resplandor brillante de un foco de luz…

Pero cuando permitió que su mente vagara por los reinos de la fantasía, “sintió” el toque de una mente. Era impreciso e impreciso, pero estaba seguro de que era muy real. También sabía que esta mente vinculaba el presente Tah-Di-Tah con el mundo que era antes de Tah-Di-Tah. Que la mente existía en ambas épocas o, se corrigió, había existido en ambas épocas. Fue un poco confuso, y cuando regresó al momento, no pudo poner sus pensamientos en palabras. Así que decidió ‘ seguir su olfato ‘. Y su ‘ nariz ‘ lo llevó a un pasillo rojo oscuro…

… Que Hair-Trigger encontró infinitamente más agradable estéticamente; pero tenía a Magnuss sintiendo punzadas de inquietud. ¿A dónde los estaba conduciendo? ¿A qué los estaba conduciendo? Pero fuera lo que fuese, estaba seguro de que era la ruta correcta. Y cuando doblaron la esquina hacia otro pasillo…

… No pudo evitar notar que el enrojecimiento había disminuido. ¿Podría ser que se estaban acercando al final de su búsqueda? Y cuando llegaron al final de ese pasillo llegaron a una breve antesala…

“¿Seguro que quieres hacer esto?” Magnuss le preguntó a su nueva esposa.

Este no era el tipo de pregunta que Magnuss le hubiera hecho a Hair-Trigger anteriormente. Quizás fue el hecho de que ella ahora era su esposa lo que le hizo sentir la necesidad de ser más protector. Hair-Trigger, en su sabiduría, reconoció esto:

—Oh, tonto marido —dijo amablemente—, por supuesto que sí. Es lo que hago, ¿recuerdas?

Entonces, sin más preámbulos, entraron en una habitación que, en un principio, pensaron que era un laboratorio. Pero cuando miraron más de cerca…

—Oh, no —gimió Hair-Trigger con horror y derrota—, es un mausoleo. Llegamos demasiado tarde. ¡Mil años demasiado tarde!

Pero Magnuss pensó que no…

“Espera, Hairy”. Él dijo. “Este no es un lugar de muertos: es un centro de hibernación. Cuando se dieron cuenta de que la aldea iba a ser sumergida, todos optaron por entrar en animación suspendida, con la esperanza de que los recuperarían en poco tiempo “.

Hair-Trigger se sintió aliviada por esto: odiaba la caries en todas sus formas, especialmente en forma de tapones para los oídos. Pero cuando Magnuss fue a investigar un panel que pensó que parecía prometedor, Hair-Trigger pensó que la cápsula de hibernación junto a la que ella estaba olía “raro”…

“Creo que este está muerto”, dijo descuidadamente. “¡Suena algo terrible!”

Pero mientras Magnuss no respondió, Hair-Trigger se sorprendió cuando apareció una cara en el ocupante de la cápsula…

“Magnuss”, gritó con voz estridente, “golpea lo que acabo de decir: tenemos un respiro”.

Magnuss estaba doblemente sorprendido por esto. No solo no había podido anticipar que una de las cápsulas podría estar defectuosa y permitir que su ocupante se despertara de un sueño permanente: sino que, dentro de su mente, también podía sentir los zarcillos de la inteligencia etérea fortalecerse…

Sumando dos y dos, supuso que el tapón para los oídos y la conciencia mental eran lo mismo. Así que revitalizó sus intentos de comprender el panel de control que creía que operaba las cápsulas de hibernación.

“Tenemos que sacar ese tapón antes de que él o ella muera”. Gritó.

Luego agregó: “¡Estúpida máquina, funciona!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Never Quite Willing to Walk Away

I may have mentioned this before – in fact I’m sure I have – but sales of my e-books have, for several years, been located somewhere south of Shitville. Of course the fact that I don’t really promote them hasn’t helped. But I’m used to this situation, and kind’a content with it. No taxes – other than the few cents I pay the U.S Government. It is a very rare occasion that I bother logging on to Lulu.com to find out how my published magnum opuses are faring, because, well, it’s not worth the bother and time it takes. Well today, in a moment of madness I did; and the situation remains grim. But there have been some sales. Namely of these…

And all were purchased by users of the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader. So, like the times previous to this, I thank all you Nookers who have taken the time to read the above tomes, and hope you enjoyed them. They were written so long ago that it feels like someone else wrote them. How could such decent yarns have emerged from my fevered imagination? But, because I’m never quite willing to walk away from my literary efforts, and because there are people who like my ‘better’ stuff, I thought it might be a good idea to display a couple of extracts here, right now. To strike while the iron is (if not hot – then) slightly luke-warm. And here they are – chosen entirely at random…

Silent Apocalypse

We reached the flint-built Methodist Hall without incident. It was, as we expected, thoroughly locked. From her childhood Candice knew of a roof light through which she and her friends would gain access ‘just for fun’. Wayne had been one of those friends. She shinnied up a drainpipe. Then, upon all-fours, she climbed a steep slate roof; disappearing over a low façade. Moments later she reappeared; gave us a thumbs-up; and then beckoned us to join her.

As I struggled up the drainpipe behind Lee I considered the chosen victims of the virus: What if it had attacked the young, leaving only octogenarians? How long would they have survived?  It began a train of thought in my head:

Why were we spared? Who would design such a weapon? Either it should kill your enemy, or not: Why be so selective?’

My thoughts were interrupted: Lee, whose hand was held out to help me up the last metre or so, whispered, “Shush, we think there’s someone inside.”

When I joined them on the opposite side of the façade, I too heard the muted sound of synthesized music emanating through the glass of the roof light before us.

“I wonder what he uses for electricity.” Lee echoed my own thoughts.

“I said he’s a nerd: Not an imbecile.” Candice whispered as she set about opening the roof light. “He always finds a way of getting what he wants.”

I swung from the roof light edge. Candice and Lee were already on the floor below me. It wasn’t far to drop, but I must be careful: My landing must be as silent as possible. In the event I didn’t need to: Lee found a chair onto which I could lower myself. From there we crept about the building like thieves. Eventually we found ourselves outside of a door, through which a rather repetitive form of music could be plainly heard emanating.

Candice stepped back and threw herself at the door, which succumbed to the first blow, and she went tumbling into a room full to the rafters with music sheets and   electronic equipment. But of Wayne there was no sign. Candice screamed in anger. Then we both saw what she’d seen already: multiple TV monitors showing views of both inside and outside the building. They included views of our route of ingress.

“He saw us coming, and he’s done a runner.” She growled.

I checked the monitors. Several doors were on view. None of them were open, and appeared to be locked.

“Maybe not.” I said.

Five minutes later we found Wayne hiding in a broom cupboard. He positively quaked at the sight of his former girlfriend.

“Scratch what I said about him earlier.” She said to us. “He’s a nerd, and an imbecile.”

To Wayne she sneered, “You’re bright enough to set up surveillance, but too stupid to plan your escape? What did I see in a no-brain like you?”

Wayne slowly emerged from the cupboard. He was less than cordial. “What do you want?”

He still had eyes only for Candice: As far as he was concerned Lee and I were mere peripherals. It was almost as though we didn’t exist.

“Your expertise.” She replied. “Electronics. Sonics. Computer wrestling. I don’t know exactly. You know – your line of work.”

“Are you gonna use it against Nige Hawley? If so, you can forget it: I don’t care what you threaten me with – I’m not going up against Nige Hawley.” Wayne appeared adamant.

“Who is Nige Hawley?” I enquired.

“You been living under a stone?” He looked at me for the first time.

“No, we’ve been fighting to survive, thank you.” I took an instant dislike to Wayne Fairgrove, “And don’t answer a question with a question.”

“He only runs the town, that’s all” Wayne almost spat out the words, “The only reason he hasn’t grabbed me yet is ‘cause I’ve hidden myself away too well for him to find me.”

“I’ve got news for you, lover-boy: The only reason he hasn’t found you is because he has no use for you yet.” Candice pushed him in the direction of his electronics room. “Guess who suggested this place to us.”

On the way to his room we explained how Steve had guided us to the former church. Wayne must have realized that his hidey-hole was now compromised because by the time we arrived at our destination his skin had paled and he’d turned into a nervous wreck.

“Pull yourself together.” Candice snapped at him, taking a cassette tape from her pocket. “We want you to find out what this is all about. Stick it on your computer: poke it through some filters, or whatever it is you do.”

After Wayne accepted the tape from Candice’s outstretched hand, Lee spoke: “What are you doing for power?”

Wayne slipped into his nerd role instantly. Once in possession of the tape, he set about his task with relish. He immediately began transferring the data from tape onto computer disc. He replied whilst working, “Got a genny down in the basement. Run the exhaust up the stink pipe. No one’s noticed it yet.”

Lee was suitably impressed.

To our collective amazement, it took a mere half-hour to find the buried information on the tape. He transferred it back onto the tape so that we could play it back without the need for power or extensive equipment. Lee and I were grateful for his help, and even Candice softened her approach slightly…

“So,” she asked him, “what are you going to do now your lair’s been flagged up?

“Don’t know. I haven’t thought ahead that far.” He replied.

“Well you’d better think fast, mate,” Lee told him, “When we let your mate loose, chances are he’ll pay you a visit.”

“Steve wouldn’t do that.” Wayne argued. “He’s an old mate.”

“Yeah, but that was before you helped us.” Lee argued in turn.

“But he wouldn’t have to know.” Wayne was looking desperate, “You could tell him that I wasn’t here.”

Candice stepped in. “We could, and maybe we will: but we can’t make him believe us. Do you really want to take the chance that Nige Hawley won’t come calling himself? We found the broom cupboard easily enough; I hardly think he’s likely to miss it.”

I took, what I considered, the kinder approach: “Perhaps you should come with us. Until you can find another permanent home at least…”

“Yeah, good idea.” Lee agreed, and injected a little urgency; “We tied that Steve bloke up; but there’s no knowing if his mates aint found him by now. We’d better get a move on.”

“But my stuff:” Wayne complained. “It isn’t exactly portable.”

Candice took him by the collar. “No – but you are. Come on.” Then she dragged him from the room.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Silent Resistance

Five minutes later Tasman and I sat in front of the monitor that showed the images that the camcorder had most recently recorded. Unsurprisingly the opening scene reflected the room in which we now sat. In the blink of an eye it was replaced by the wooden panelled interior of what looked to me like a fine English country house. In many ways it reminded me of my lost home.

Tasman must have picked up on a surge in my emotions because he slipped a hand into mine and squeezed gently. But those emotions were swept aside by what we saw next. From left of camera a tall, broad-shouldered man sporting a greying beard walked into view. He spotted the camera and made straight for it – stopping short and giving us a smile so fabulous that it must have warmed the heart of many a woman in its time.

“Janice.” He called to someone out of view, “We have a visitor.”

A heavy oak door opened from another room and a tall, willowy woman entered what I took to be a drawing room. She followed the man’s gaze. “Oh,” she said, “that wasn’t there earlier.”

“No.” The man replied. “I just watched it arrive. It just appeared out of nowhere. There was the faintest pop of displaced air. What do you reckon – dimensional relocation or time travel?”

Janice placed a finger upon her lower lip and pouted in thought.

“Peter.” She said almost admonishingly, “Do you really have to ask? Was it accompanied by a clap of thunder?”

Peter thought about it. “Not that I recall.” He replied with a slight grin that strongly suggested that he was thoroughly enjoying the situation.

“Then you have your answer.” Janice said as she apparently dismissed the mystery and made for the door, “It’s obviously from another quantum reality.”

After watching the door close behind Janice, Peter looked directly into the camera lens. He then used a colourful expletive and told us what we could do with our ‘LDD’ machine, that had we done as he instructed we would have required medical aid. A large hand then reached out and switched the camera off.

Tasman turned to me. “Wow.” He said. “People: ordinary people: in an ordinary house; who are apparently familiar with inter-dimensional travel. Did you notice that he was so matter-of-fact about it too?”

I didn’t think that the man named Peter was too enamoured with inter-dimensional travel. I said as much to Tasman.

“An Earth with more advanced technology perhaps?” Tasman surmised.

“Did you notice that they referred to time-travel as though it was commonplace too.” I said. “I wonder what LDD means.”

“Linear Dimensional Displacement, I expect.” Tasman answered. “I almost gave our machine that moniker, but Shane changed my mind for me; she said it sounded like an insecticide.”

“Perhaps we should place that reality off-limits too.” I suggested.

“I agree.” Tasman replied as he ran a pencil through the dimensional coordinates, “I’m not sure I want them knowing where we are.”   

 It’s a shame though.” I said slightly wistfully, “It was lovely seeing human adults again. I would love to have spoken to them. They may have been annoying at times, but I miss having adults around – telling us what to do and when to do it. That couple looked so comfortable together too. I wonder who they were.”

Tasman could have only imagined my feelings at that moment. Even if he’d read my mind I don’t think he could really have understood.

“Peter and Janice.” He said as he gave me a kiss upon the forehead. “Later we’ll propose a toast to them over dinner. Want to try some more?”

Naturally I agreed, and the second attempt to access an alternate Brambledown took the camera to an old country dwelling. This one was perhaps a little less ostentatious, but the decor suggested that the owner had both good taste and the money to go with it – even if most of the flat surfaces were laden down a little too heavily with what Kylie would have termed ‘expensive knick-knacks’. Clocks, glass, and porcelain antiques abounded. The loud ‘tick-tock’ of a huge grandfather clock filled the room. Between beats of the clockwork mechanism I thought I heard the sounds of doors closing in other parts of the edifice. It was late in the day, and the lowering sun blazed amber through two tall west facing windows. Footsteps could be heard approaching, and for some ridiculous reason I felt myself becoming nervous – as though we were about to be caught stealing about someone else’s home. I jumped when a door opened abruptly and a teen-aged girl in a pair of rather grown-up slacks, a cardigan, and a pair of flat slip-on shoes walked past the camera without noticing it, and descended a flight of stairs into a basement.

Tasman turned to see me in a state of confusion.

“That girl.” I shouted as I pointed towards the monitor. “I know her. She’s dead!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

It’s strange that I chose that particular extract at random, because it links these two books with the central characters of these two books…

…and was little more than a throw away scene. But, I remember, I was so enjoying writing Silent Resistance, that I couldn’t help but include a smidgin of important elements from books that were also a joy to create. Hubris? No, I just love my characters too much.

 

 

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 22)

The end is close, I can feel it in my bowels. Still, enjoy it while it lasts…

Meanwhile, in the remnants of the buried village, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger had discovered a strange room that seemed to defy the laws of physics…

“Not only the laws of physics,” Hair-Trigger grumbled, “but the laws of aesthetics too.”

“It could be the result of a radiation leak.” Magnuss suggested nervously. Then, to cheer himself up, he added: “Alternatively it could be a piece of equipment that has turned on automatically when it detected our presence, but because it has been sitting idle for centuries, needs re-calibrating.”

This was a much more palatable idea, but Hair-Trigger didn’t really care one way or the other: the sight of it just made her nauseous. So it was with great relief that they crossed it in good order and quick time, and exited through a handy doorway…

“Ah, this is more like it.” Magnuss said as Hair-Trigger gave the previous room a quick backward glance of contempt. “This looks more earpluggish.”

But, as the blue corridor opened on to (what Magnuss presumed was) a large thoroughfare…

…he felt a little less certain of his last statement. And Hair-Trigger absolutely hated it. But as they found themselves falling into a strolling motion, the similarity to a busy city street occurred to them…

“This is kind’a nice.” Magnuss said as he smiled for the first time in yonks. “In its hey-day, this must have been a very popular place. You can imagine all the crowds at night – out on the town and going to shows and restaurants and things like that.”

Hair-Trigger wasn’t convinced. “This was a scientific community – full of egg-heads and people with larger-than-average brains – thinking up really advanced stuff and then making it work.”

Magnuss wasn’t going to argue: maybe they were both right. But then he thought that they both might be wrong too, because…

…they found themselves standing in front of a huge video wall that featured them – as seen in Madame Nellie’s tent. There was no audio, but both earplugs could recall their earlier words.

“Magnuss,” Hair-Trigger said with a voice that sounded uncharacteristically small and uncertain, “how is this possible?”

Magnuss had to think about that. To think most efficiently he imagined himself standing in the bright glow of a spotlight…

But as he allowed his mind to wander into realms of fantasy he ‘felt’ the touch of a mind. It was suffuse and indistinct – but, he was certain, very real. He also knew that this mind linked the present Tah-Di-Tah with the world it was pre-Tah-Di-Tah. That the mind existed in both eras – or, he corrected himself, had existed in both eras. It was a bit confusing, and when he returned to the moment, he couldn’t put his thoughts into words. So he decided to ‘follow his nose’. And his ‘nose’ led him into a dark red corridor…

…which Hair-Trigger found infinitely more pleasing aesthetically; but had Magnuss feeling pangs of trepidation. Where was he leading them? What was he leading them into? But whatever it was, he felt certain that this was the correct route. And when they turned the corner into another corridor…

…he couldn’t help but notice that the redness had lessened. Could it be that they were approaching the end of their search?  And when they reached the end of that corridor they came to a brief ante-room…

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Magnuss asked his new wife.

This was not the sort of question that Magnuss would have asked Hair-Trigger previously. Perhaps it was the fact that she was now his spouse that made him feel the need to be more protective. Hair-Trigger, in her wisdom, recognised this:

“Oh you silly husband,” she said pleasantly, “of course I do. It’s what I do – remember?”

So, without further ado, they entered a room that, at first, they thought was a laboratory. But when they looked more closely…

“Oh-no,” Hair-Trigger wailed in horror and defeat, “it’s a mausoleum. We’re too late. A thousand years too late!”

But Magnuss thought not…

“Hang on, Hairy.” He said. “This isn’t a place of the dead: it’s a hibernation centre. When they realised that the village was going to be submerged, everyone chose to go into suspended animation – hopeful that they would be retrieved before too long.”

Hair-Trigger was relieved by this: she hated decay in every form – especially earplug form. But as Magnuss went to investigate a panel that he thought looked promising, Hair-Trigger thought that the hibernation pod beside which she stood smelt ‘funny’…

“I think this one’s dead,” she said carelessly. ”It honks something terrible!”

But whilst Magnuss failed to reply, Hair-Trigger was shocked when a face appeared upon the pod’s occupant…

“Magnuss,” she yelled shrilly, “strike what I just said: we’ve got a breather.”

Magnuss was doubly shocked by this. Not only had he failed to anticipate that one of the pods might be faulty and allow it’s occupant to rouse from permanent slumber: but, within his mind he could also feel the tendrils of the ethereal intelligence strengthen…

Putting two and two together he surmised that the rousing earplug and the mental awareness were one and the same. So he reinvigorated his attempts to understand the control panel that he believed operated the hibernation pods.

“We’ve got to get that earplug out of there before he or she dies.” He cried.

He then added: “Stupid machine – work!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 21)

Es hora de dispararlos en una aventura de tapones para los oídos. Continuar…

 

Blast, whoosh, fizz, brruuum o cualquier ruido que hagan los multiplicitores gravitónicos en el silencio del espacio exterior. Desafortunadamente para los escoltas de la flota atacante, rápidamente descubrieron que las poderosas ondas gravitónicas destrozaron su nave y dejaron al descubierto sus motores atómicos. Entonces, esta nave en particular hizo lo que haría cualquier nave decente de propulsión atómica que se haya desgarrado…

Explotó muy bien. Pero otros en la vanguardia de la armada reaccionaron rápidamente. En cuestión de segundos, el Tankerville Norris fue atacado…

Cuando los ingenieros de Scroton construyeron el Tankerville Norris , no había sido concebido como un barco de guerra: ¡era una barcaza de luna de miel, por el amor de Dios! En consecuencia, cualquier pantalla defensiva era del tipo Desvío de meteoritos. Los haces de energía dirigidos estaban un poco más allá de sus parámetros de diseño. Pero los Scrotonites, que son los típicos Scrotonites, habían diseñado en exceso casi todo a bordo (con la excepción de la ventana de visión delantera), por lo que el barco recibió el primer golpe bastante bien. Bueno, no explotó ni nada extravagante. De hecho, giró en una auténtica moneda de diez centavos y dejó disparar con el multiplicitador gravitónico en la dirección de su atacante…

El resultado no fue inesperado. Con ondas de gravedad tan intensas y poderosas, incluso un error cercano era lo suficientemente bueno…

Pero el Tankerville Norris era solo un barco contra una horda. Mucho antes de que el emisor pudiera recargarse, los alienígenas habían apuntado a la peligrosa nave…

Por lo general, un golpe indirecto podría haber sido rechazado y enviarse pequeños robots de reparación para tapar los innumerables agujeros con sus nalgas infladas: pero un bombardeo sostenido…

… Era otra cosa completamente distinta. Simplemente no había suficientes robots con nalgas lo suficientemente grandes para hacer el trabajo. Si el Tankerville Norris hubiera sido el tipo de barco que habla consigo mismo durante períodos de mucho estrés, podría haber dicho: “Ooh-er, debo estar de acuerdo con lo que dijo Hair-Trigger sobre la caballería: espero que vengan cargando sobre la colina, pronto, como ahora. ¡Ayudar!”

Bueno, parecía que la realidad no era tan diferente a la fantasía de Tankerville Norris como uno podría imaginar. No muy lejos, es decir, a escala galáctica, el Chuck Winker estaba haciendo un muy buen momento…

El progreso fue rápido. Sentado en el asiento del copiloto junto al Sargento de Estado Mayor Wetpatch Wilton, el Sargento de Estado Mayor Jo Frayzer…

… Dijo: “Recuérdame de nuevo: ¿cómo es que sabemos que estamos en el camino correcto?”

A lo que Wetpatch miró al otro lado para conectar la caballería Jollie Huggup en el dispositivo negro redondo que nadie se había molestado en nombrar, y dijo: “¿Y bien, Jollie?”

Jollie estaba demasiado ocupada estudiando sus lecturas para darse la vuelta y mirar a sus superiores; así que gritó en su lugar: “Seguimos el rastro de iones de Tankerville Norris hasta que se detuvo en un planeta recientemente desintegrado: luego extrapolamos un curso probable para un par de recién casados. Tah-Di-Tah parecía más probable, especialmente porque Nigel tiene una cuenta en el hotel más alto de allí. Luego, más recientemente, los talentos telepáticos de Chuck Winker detectaron ondas de ansiedad derivadas de Scroton desde algún lugar entre nuestro destino previsto y … ah … nosotros … aquí … ahora “.

“Sí”, coincidió Cavalry-plug, Miguel Angel-Grinder, en la pieza opuesta del equipo futurista. “Estamos casi encima de eso. Deberíamos estar allí momentáneamente. Preparándose para salir del hiperespacio, a sus órdenes, Wetpatch “.

Naturalmente, Wetpatch, al ser un tapón de caballería bien entrenado, respondió profesionalmente. “Súbete”, gritó, “¡y salgamos!”

Una fracción de segundo después, Chuck Winker volvió a entrar en el espacio / tiempo regular. Su velocidad era tal que casi rompió el espacio circundante en fragmentos sobrecargados. La galaxia misma pareció convulsionar…  

“Flipping diablos”, estalló Miguel Ángel-Grinder mientras se escondía detrás de las sillas del piloto, “¡mira eso!”

“Yo soy.” Wetpatch respondió. “¿Pero qué estoy mirando?”

Afortunadamente para todos, Miguel había sido reemplazado en la pantalla rectangular por Scroda Hootner de caballería. Ella dijo: “Golpeando una gran explosión, señor. Parece que un barco explotó. Es muy probable que sea el resultado de un estúpido accidente o una batalla espacial “.

“Preferiría lo primero”. Jo respondió.

“Lo más probable es lo último”. Respondió Jollie Huggup. “El Chuck Winker continúa recibiendo ondas de ansiedad derivadas del Scroton; no es el Tankerville Norris en un millón de piezas ahí fuera. Pero está en kaká profundo. Debemos asumir que está siendo atacado y se está defendiendo, espectacularmente, como lo haría cualquier barco de Scrotonite “.

Wetpatch rumió durante un nanosegundo. “Si no vamos demasiado rápido y es probable que nos sobrepasemos, creo que deberíamos unirnos a esta batalla”.

Afortunadamente para el plan del Sargento, el Chuck Winker , aunque sigue produciendo una onda de arco relativista…

… estaba en condiciones de ayudar al Tankerville Norris .

“En ese momento”, dijo Wetpatch mientras se aclaraba la garganta y otra nave alienígena explotó en la distancia, “Supongo que será mejor que vayamos a Alerta Roja”.

El tapón de caballería, Eustace Lipps, miró hacia arriba desde donde estaba jugando con la enorme unidad de aire acondicionado, y dijo: “Creo que lo llaman Crimson Alert a bordo del barco. ¿O estoy siendo demasiado pedante?

“Alerta Crimson es entonces.” Wetpatch gritó…

… “y si alguien puede encontrar algo que se parezca a un arma poderosa, ¡dispara!”

Jo vio un botón pequeño e insignificante en el escritorio de su piloto. Lo empujó experimentalmente…

“Bien hecho, Jo”. Wetpatch aplaudió cuando la nave alienígena más cercana dejó de existir. “¿Alguien puede mejorar eso?”

Inspirado por la ventaja de Jo, Eustace golpeó la bola de su mano contra un interruptor de un minuto similar en el control del aire acondicionado…

De hecho, la caballería había venido cargando sobre la colina.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 21)

It’s shoot-’em-up time in an Earplug Adventure. Continue…

Blast, whoosh, fizz, brruuum, or whatever noise Gravitonic Multiplicitors make in the silence of outer space. Unfortunately for the attacking fleet’s outriders, they quickly discovered that the powerful gravitonic waves tore their ship apart and exposed their atomic motors. So this particular ship did what any decent atomic-powered vessel that has been rent asunder would do…

It exploded in fine fashion. But others on the leading edge of the armada were quick to react. Within seconds the Tankerville Norris came under attack…

When the engineers of Scroton had built the Tankerville Norris, it had not been intended as a ship-of-war: it was a honeymoon barge for heaven sake! Consequently any defensive screening was of the Meteorite-Deflecting kind. Directed energy beams were a tad beyond its design parameters. But the Scrotonites – being typical Scrotonites – had over-engineered just about everything aboard (with the exception of the forward viewing window), so the ship took the first blow really quite well. Well it didn’t blow up or anything extravagant. In fact it turned on a veritable dime and let rip with the Gravitonic Multiplicitor in the direction of its assailant…

The result wasn’t unexpected. With gravity waves so intense and powerful, even a near miss was good enough…

But the Tankerville Norris was only one ship against a horde. Long before the emitter could re-charge, the aliens had targeted the dangerous vessel…

Ordinarily a glancing blow could have been shrugged off, and tiny repair robots despatched to plug the myriad holes with their inflating buttocks: but a sustained barrage…

…was another thing entirely. There simply were not enough robots with big enough buttocks to do the job. If the Tankerville Norris had been the kind of ship that talks to itself during periods of high stress, it might have said: “Ooh-er, I must agree with what Hair-Trigger said about the cavalry: I do so hope they come charging over the hill – soon – like now. Help!”

Well, it seemed that reality wasn’t quite as different to the Tankerville Norris’ fantasy as one might imagine. Not far away – on a Galactic scale, that is – the Chuck Winker was making very good time indeed…

Progress was of the rapid kind. Sitting in the co-pilot’s seat beside Staff Sergeant Wetpatch Wilton, Staff Sergeant Jo Frayzer…

…said: “Remind me again: how is it that we know we’re on the right course?”

To which Wetpatch looked across to cavalry-plug Jollie Huggup at the round black device that no one had bothered naming, and said: “Well, Jollie?”

Jollie was too busy studying his readouts to turn around to face his superiors; so he shouted instead: “We followed the Tankerville Norris’ ion trail until it stopped at a recently disintegrated planet: then we extrapolated a likely course for a pair of newlyweds. Tah-Di-Tah seemed most likely – especially since Nigel has an account with the tallest hotel there. Then, more recently, the telepathic talents of the Chuck Winker detected Scroton-derived anxiety waves from somewhere between our intended destination and…ah…us…here…now.”

“Yeah,” Cavalry-plug, Miguel Angel-Grinder, on the opposite piece of futuristic equipment, concurred. “We’re nearly on top of it. We should be there momentarily. Preparing to exit hyperspace – at your command, Wetpatch.”

Naturally Wetpatch, being a well-trained cavalry-plug, responded professionally. “Saddle up,” he bellowed, “and let’s head out!”

A split second later the Chuck Winker re-entered regular space/time. Its speed was such that it all but tore surrounding space into overstressed fragments. The Galaxy itself seemed to convulse…  

“Flipping heck,” Miguel Angel-Grinder erupted as he hid behind the pilot’s chairs, “will ya look at that!”

“I am.” Wetpatch replied. “But what am I looking at?”

Fortunately for everyone, Miguel had been replaced at the rectangular screen thing by Cavalry-plug Scroda Hootner. She said: “Whacking great big explosion, Sir. Looks like a ship exploded. Very likely the result of a stupid accident or a space battle.”

“I’d prefer the former.” Jo responded.

“More likely the latter.” Jollie Huggup replied. “The Chuck Winker continues to receive Scroton-derived anxiety waves; it’s not the Tankerville Norris in a million pieces out there. But it is in deep kaka. We must assume that it is under attack and is defending itself – spectacularly – as any Scrotonite ship would.”

Wetpatch ruminated for a nanosecond. “If we’re not going too fast and are likely to over-shoot, I think we should join this battle.”

Fortunately for the Staff Sergeant’s plan, the Chuck Winker – although still producing a relativistic-bow wave…

…was in a position to assist the Tankerville Norris.

“Right then,” Wetpatch said as he cleared his throat and another alien vessel exploded in the distance, “I suppose we’d better go to Red Alert.”

Cavalry-plug, Eustace Lipps, looked up from where he was fiddling with the massive air-con unit, and said: “I think they call it Crimson Alert aboard ship. Or am I being overly pedantic?”

“Crimson Alert it is then.” Wetpatch yelled…

…”and if anyone can find something that resembles a powerful weapon – fire it!”

Jo spotted a small, insignificant button on his pilot’s desk. He pushed it experimentally…

“Well done, Jo.” Wetpatch cheered as the closest alien ship ceased to exist. “Can anyone better that?”

Inspired by Jo’s lead, Eustace slammed the ball of his hand against a similarly minute toggle on the air-con control…

The cavalry had indeed come charging over the hill.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 20)

I thought that by the time that Part 20 arrived, the story would be almost complete. Well tough luck: there are several more episodes before the finale and an inevitable epilogue. So settle down and read the latest…

The ship then operated entirely autonomously, and lifted skyward once more. From there it raced to the city, where it transmitted everything it knew of the situation and requested any available military help with fending off the approaching alien invasion fleet…

As the Tankerville Norris gained the upper atmosphere…

…the captain of the SS Glob contacted it.

“I’m no armed merchantman,” He said, “But I keep a few demolition charges aboard – just in case I need to blow up docking clamps on backward planets that think they can hold the Glob to ransom. I’ll fire those: maybe they can plough you a metaphorical furrow through space.”

Of course the Tankerville Norris was only too pleased to accept any help. “Yeah, go for it.” It responded in a fair facsimile of Magnuss’ voice.

A split second later…

…the improvised missiles were on their way. And aboard the empty Tankerville Norris, the main screen displayed a direct hit upon an approaching scout vessel…

Unfortunately no one was there to see it, so no one cheered hysterically.

“Never mind,” the ship said to that same no one at all, “I’ve recorded it: I can play it back to Magnuss and Hair-Trigger later. That’s assuming that I’m not reduced to cosmic detritus first, of course.”

It then shifted into gear…

…and took off like a kitten with a laundry peg on its tail.

Meanwhile, in the recently uncovered village of ancient scientific genii…

…Magnuss and Hair-Trigger peered from the entrance of a cave, which might have been an interior corridor in a previous era, and tried to make sense of what they were looking at. Sadly they couldn’t, so they turned inward once more…

And that was a bit puzzling too. But further into the cave/corridor, artificial construction techniques became apparent. As did huge, scary cobwebs…

The appearance of obvious technology should have filled both young earplugs with intellectual joy: but they couldn’t help wondering after the size of the spider that made those webs!

With no other course, but forward, open to them, they moved on – which must have triggered a sensor or some such, because a light briefly flickered upon a wall panel…

Both earplugs reached the same conclusion simultaneously. As one they said: “Motion detector. We’ve been spotted. The place is coming to life!”

And indeed it was. Lights were coming on everywhere…

This left them both filled with wonder. But they felt slightly less ‘wonder-full’ when the lighting altered and took on an increasingly crimson hue…

“Intruder Alert, do you think, Hairy?”  Magnuss conjectured.

Hair-Trigger might have concurred…

…but a worsening in the level of illumination made her squeak with nervousness instead. And if she had known what was to follow, she might have broken wind with anticipation of being scared silly…

“Help me,” an ethereal voice accompanied the apparition, “I’m all alone. I don’t know where I am. I seem to be disembodied. I also think I might be going potty!”

How Magnuss and Hair-Trigger responded to this sudden and unexpected stimulus must always be their secret; because, at that very moment – up in space…

…the Tankerville Norris was preparing itself for a strafing run on the alien fleet. With no proton torpedoes aboard, the only offensive armament that the ship possessed was the Gravitonic Multiplicitor. But, perhaps this was all the royal blue craft required. If the device could uncover a sunken village in two seconds flat, and move an entire planet from its orbit (the ship ruminated very quickly) what could it do to an unsuspecting alien space ship? Of course, there was only one way to answer that question.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 19)

Así que ahora volvemos al tema principal de la historia …

Capítulo 7

Mientras tanto, justo encima de la atmósfera de Tah-Di-Tah…

… El Tankerville Norris se estaba posicionando sobre el sitio del antiguo fiordo. Dentro, Magnuss y Hair-Trigger vieron cómo el hermoso planeta giraba debajo de ellos…

“Oh, es tan encantador”. Hair-Trigger gorjeó con abierta admiración. “Míralo, Maggie: ¿no vale la pena salvarlo?”

“De hecho, es.” Magnuss estuvo de acuerdo. “Así que vayamos a Ingeniería e intentemos averiguar cómo vamos a utilizar el multiplicitador gravitónico”.

Poco tiempo después…

“No entiendo.” Magnuss dijo con perplejidad por la falta de tornillos que sujetan el dispositivo a la cubierta. “¿Cómo se supone que vamos a deshacer los tornillos que no están allí?”

En respuesta, la nave habló directamente a través de Hair-Trigger…

“Este no es el Gravity Whelk , ya sabes. Esta es una versión actualizada del Gravitonic Multiplicitor. Permanece in situ. Así que simplemente seleccione sus coordenadas y salga de aquí hasta que el trabajo esté hecho “.

Así que fue una pareja casada muy aliviada la que se propuso la tarea de elegir exactamente hacia dónde apuntar el dispositivo milagroso. Pero cuando Hair-Trigger regresó de ir al baño, estaba menos que impresionada con Magnuss cuando lo encontró viendo un episodio de Destination: The Stars

“No te preocupes, cariño.” Magnuss dijo con indiferencia: “Todo está hecho. Retirámonos al puente “.

Entonces, cuando el barco adoptó una posición mirando hacia abajo…

… hicieron exactamente eso…

… Mientras el barco apuntaba a un lugar que se encontraba entre la tierra y el mar. Luego, sin ninguna otra comunicación, el Multiplicitor Gravitónico disparó sus devastadoras energías a través del plato deflector principal…

Rápidamente, la atmósfera adyacente estalló con luz y partículas de polvo energizadas…

… y el rayo de energía atravesó los siglos de limo, mugre y otras cosas parecidas al suelo que desafiaban la descripción…

… Donde lo lanzó al aire, lo que provocó todo tipo de anomalías relacionadas con el clima que crearon (entre otros fenómenos) grandes tormentas eléctricas. Y fue en uno de estos que el Tankerville Norris se hundió mientras corría para ver los resultados de los trabajos del Multiplicitor Gravitónico…

Y, justo cuando Magnuss comenzaba a sentir el mareo por movimiento, algo maravilloso apareció en el holo-visor principal…

La aldea se reveló en toda su extraña gloria violeta…

“Fantástico.” Magnuss gritó de júbilo. Pero luego pensó que veía un problema insuperable: “Bueno, ahí está: pero ¿qué se supone que hagamos con él? ¿Cómo llegamos allí?

La nave respondió de la única manera que sabía…

“¡Urk!” Magnuss logró antes de la disolución atómica. Y se repitió cuando…

… Él y Hair-Trigger se reunieron en otro lugar.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 19)

So now we return to the main thrust of the story…

Chapter 7

Meanwhile, just above the atmosphere of Tah-Di-Tah…

…the Tankerville Norris was positioning itself above the site of the former fiord. Inside Magnuss and Hair-Trigger watched as the beautiful planet revolved beneath them…

“Oh, it’s so lovely.” Hair-Trigger warbled in open admiration. “Look at it, Maggie: isn’t that worth saving?”

“Indeed it is.” Magnuss agreed. “So let’s get down to Engineering and try to figure out how we’re going to use the Gravitonic Multiplicitor.”

A short while later…

“I don’t understand.” Magnuss said in puzzlement at the lack of bolts holding the device to the deck. “How are we supposed to un-do bolts that aren’t there?”

In response, the ship spoke directly through Hair-Trigger…

“This isn’t the Gravity Whelk, you know. This is an up-dated version of the Gravitonic Multiplicitor. It stays in situ. So you just select your co-ordinates, and get the heck out of here until the job is done.”

So it was a very relieved married couple that set about the task of choosing exactly where to point the miraculous device. But when Hair-Trigger returned from visiting the toilet, she was less than impressed with Magnuss when she found him watching an episode of Destination: The Stars

“Don’t fret, darling.” Magnuss said nonchalantly, “it’s all done. Let’s retire to the bridge.”

So, as the ship adopted a stare-down position…

…they did just that…

…whilst the ship targeted a location that lay between the land and the sea. Then, without any further communication the Gravitonic Multiplicitor fired its ravaging energies through the main deflector dish…

Quickly the adjacent atmosphere erupted with light and energised dust particles…

…and the beam of energy tore into the centuries of silt, crud, and other soil-like stuff that defied description…

…where it blew it high into the air, which caused all sorts of weather-related anomalies that created (amongst other phenomena) vast electrical storms. And it was into one of these that the Tankerville Norris plunged as it raced to see the results of the Gravitonic Multiplicitor’s labours…

And, just as Magnuss was beginning to feel the early on-set of motion sickness, something wonderful appeared on the main holo-viewer…

The village was revealed in all of its strange violet glory…

“Fantastic.” Magnuss cried out with glee. But then thought he saw an insurmountable problem: “Well there it is: but what are we supposed to do with it? How do we get down there?”

The ship responded in the only way it knew…

“Urk!” Magnuss managed before atomic dissolution. And he repeated himself when…

…he and Hair-Trigger re-assembled elsewhere.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 18)

Bienvenido a otro episodio (no terriblemente) emocionante … 

Poco después, habiendo cruzado Fort Balderdash hasta el comedor del suboficial…

… Jo y Wetpatch entraron, donde primero tuvieron que apartar un vehículo de ataque todo terreno inservible para poder acceder al único panel de comunicaciones permitido por el presupuesto restringido de la caballería…

“Solo hay un tipo en el universo que puede sacarnos de este kaká”. Wetpatch había dicho al salir de la oficina del Mayor Leftfoot Badger. “Así que será mejor que recemos para que todavía esté en el museo”.

Un minuto después, el panel se iluminó para revelar a Nigel, el Dorado; su asistente personal anónimo; y Walker Crabtrouser – Jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas Scrotonic, a punto de abordar su nave espacial a casa…

“¡Esperar!” Wetpatch gritó casi en pánico. “¡Golden One, necesitamos mucho tu ayuda!”

Naturalmente, siendo un tipo razonable y un buen huevo en todos los aspectos, Nigel detuvo su entrada en la esclusa de aire del barco. “Tapones de caballería”. Dijo al reconocer los uniformes del sargento. “Siempre haré tiempo para los militares. ¿Le puedo ayudar en algo?”

Wetpatch explicó rápidamente la situación, a lo que Nigel levantó una mano en un intento de detener más la lengua del sargento. “El problema del escáner omnipresente se puede explicar así”. Él dijo. “ El Tankerville Norris está equipado con un Gravitic Multi-Thingamy-Whatsit de última generación, que lo hace impermeable a los escaneos multifásicos a grandes distancias. Pero en lo que respecta a encontrarlos realmente … bueno, no estoy seguro de cómo puedo ofrecer ayuda “.

“Nos preguntamos si podría prestarnos un barco”. Jo soltó. “Podríamos ir a buscarlos. El espacio es grande, pero no tanto como para que un esfuerzo concertado no sea completamente infructuoso, probablemente, tal vez, si buscáramos mucho “.

“Oh querido.” Nigel dijo mientras se volvía hacia Walker Crabtrouser en busca de ayuda. “Creo que desmontamos los barcos que Magnuss rechazó. Y, desafortunadamente, las instrucciones de ensamblaje fueron utilizadas por una calificación junior que no pudo encontrar el armario de papel del lavabo y las usó para … ah … bueno, lo dejo a su imaginación “.

Wetpatch y Jo estaban abatidos. Ahora todo lo que podían hacer era esperar que la información sobre el efecto del multiplicitador gravitónico en el escáner omnipresente fuera suficiente para aplacar a Cushions y Hunting. Pero Walker Crabtrouser tuvo una idea…

“Golden One”, dijo lentamente, mientras sus pensamientos se fusionaban y le permitían hablar, “creo que podría tener una respuesta parcial a sus oraciones”.

Luego, en escrotónico, explicó. Terminó con: “Bueno, ¿qué piensas?”

“Informe al Capitán que habrá un retraso en nuestra partida”. Nigel le dijo a su asistente personal. Luego, a Wetpatch y Jo…

… Dijo: “Señores, parece que fui un poco prematuro. Había una cuarta embarcación ensamblada a partir de un paquete plano; pero nadie pensó que Magnuss se sentiría atraído por una nave furtiva desmantelada, de operaciones encubiertas. Está en nuestra bodega, con solo unas pocas cuerdas elásticas sujetándolo. Tengo unas tijeras para cortarlas, si estás interesado, por supuesto “.

Dos horas más tarde, una nave casi invisible subió silenciosamente al cielo nocturno…

Olió el vacío del espacio para las esporas de su barco hermano, el Tankerville Norris . Y habiendo detectado su rastro de iones, partió en su persecución…

Y (nominalmente) en los controles…

… Se sentaron Wetpatch Wilton y Jo Frayzer.

“Ooh-er”, dijo Jo apreciativamente, “esta nave puede motorizarse, ¿no es así, Wetpatch?”

A lo que Wetpatch respondió…

… “Flipping diablos, sí”.

Luego, a los otros cuatro tapones de caballería que se habían ofrecido como voluntarios para actuar como tripulación, agregó: “¿Alguna idea de cómo llamamos a este bebé?”

Naturalmente, al ser veteranos en el ejército de Worstworld, no estaban acostumbrados a dar rienda suelta a su imaginación. Todos salieron vacíos. Así que quedó en manos de Jo hacer una sugerencia..

“Um”, comenzó, “¿qué tal si dejamos que el barco elija su nombre? Probablemente tenga una idea mejor que cualquiera de nosotros. ¿Qué hay de eso, Ship?

Y, al igual que los otros barcos que se habían creado a partir de los diseños tomados de Bunk-Bunk Benson, el barco pronunció su nombre en absoluto silencio. Pero la tripulación ahora sabía que estaban a bordo del Chuck Winker , lo que los sorprendió porque Chuck Winker era un actor terrestre que protagonizó el programa de ciencia ficción favorito de Magnuss Earplug, Destination: The Stars.

“Mientras estuve aquí en la Tierra”, explicó el barco, “he estado viendo repeticiones en la televisión por cable. Son realmente muy buenos. Me gusta Chuck Winker: creo que tiene una presencia real en la pantalla. Descargué todos los episodios. Cuando regrese a Scroton, tengo la intención de retransmitirlos a todo el mundo. Sé lo que estás pensando, pero no tenemos leyes de derechos de autor en Scroton, así que estará bien “.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 18)

Welcome to another (not terribly) exciting episode…

Shortly, having crossed Fort Balderdash to the Non-Commissioned Officer’s mess…

…Jo and Wetpatch let themselves in, where they had to first push aside an unserviceable all-terrain attack vehicle so that they could access the sole com-panel allowed by the cavalry’s restricted budget…

“There is only one guy in the universe that can get us out of this kaka.” Wetpatch had said as they departed Major Leftfoot Badger’s office. “So we’d better pray that he’s still in the museum.”

A minute later the panel lit up to reveal Nigel – the Golden One; his unnamed personal assistant; and Walker Crabtrouser – Chief of the Scrotonic Armed Forces, about to board their spaceship home…

“Wait!” Wetpatch yelled in near-panic. “Golden One, we have great need of your help!”

Naturally, being a reasonable guy and all-round good egg, Nigel paused his entry into the ship’s airlock. “Cavalryplugs.” He said as he recognised the staff sergeant’s uniforms. “I will always make time for the military. How can I help you?”

Quickly Wetpatch explained the situation – to which Nigel held up a hand in an attempt to stay the sergeant’s tongue further. “The Omnipresent Scanner problem can be explained thus.” He said. “The Tankerville Norris is equipped with a latest-generation Gravitic Multi-Thingamy-Whatsit, which makes it impervious to multi-phasic scans over vast distances. But as regards to actually finding them…well I’m not sure how I can offer assistance.”

“We wondered if you might lend us a ship.” Jo blurted. “We could go look for them. Space is big – but not so big that a concerted effort wouldn’t be completely unsuccessful – probably – maybe – if we looked really hard.”

“Oh dear.” Nigel said as he turned to Walker Crabtrouser for help. “I do believe we disassembled the ships that Magnuss rejected. And, unfortunately, the assembly instructions were used by a junior rating who couldn’t find the lavatory paper cupboard, and used them to…ah…well I leave it to your imagination.”

Wetpatch and Jo were crestfallen. Now all they could do was hope that the information about the Gravitonic Multiplicitor’s effect on the Omnipresent Scanner would be enough to placate Cushions and Hunting. But Walker Crabtrouser had an idea…

“Golden One,” He said slowly – as his thoughts coalesced and allowed him to speak, “I think I might have a partial answer to their prayers.”

Then, in Scrotonic, he explained. He finished with: “Well – Whatta ya think?”

“Inform the Captain that there will be a delay in our departure.” Nigel said to his Personal Assistant. Then, to Wetpatch and Jo…

…he said: “Gentlemen, it appears that I was a tad premature. There was a fourth vessel assembled from flat-pack; but no one thought that Magnuss would be attracted by a stripped-down, black-ops, stealth ship. It’s in our hold, with just a few bungee cords holding it down. I’ve got some scissors to snip them – if you’re interested of course.”

Two hours later an almost-invisible craft climbed silently into the night sky…

It scented the vacuum of space for the spore of its sister-ship – the Tankerville Norris. And having detected its ion trail, set out in pursuit…

And (nominally) at the controls…

…sat Wetpatch Wilton and Jo Frayzer.

“Ooh-er,” Jo said appreciatively, “this ship sure can motor, can’t it, Wetpatch?”

To which Wetpatch replied…

…”Flipping heck, yeah.”

Then, to the other four cavalry-plugs who had volunteered to act as crew, he added: “Any ideas what we call this baby?”

Naturally, being of long-standing in the military of Worstworld, they weren’t used to giving their imaginations free reign. They all came up empty. So it was left to Jo to make a suggestion…

“Um,” he began, “how about we let the ship choose its name? It’s probably got a better idea than any of us. What about it, Ship?”

And, like the other ships that had been created from the designs taken from Bunk-Bunk Benson, the ship spoke its name in utter silence. But the crew now knew that they were aboard the Chuck Winker, which surprised them because Chuck Winker was a terrestrial actor who starred in Magnuss Earplug’s favourite science-fiction show, Destination: The Stars.

“Whilst I’ve been here on Earth”, the ship then explained, “I’ve been watching re-runs on cable TV. They’re really very good. I like Chuck Winker: I think he has real on-screen presence. I’ve downloaded all the episodes. When I get back to Scroton, I intend to re-transmit them world-wide. I know what you’re thinking – but we have no copyright laws on Scroton, so it’ll be fine.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 17)

Vaya, la historia avanza a buen ritmo ahora, ¿no crees? Aquí está la próxima entrega…

Debido a que la adrenalina puede hacer que una persona haga cosas con facilidad que a menudo serían imposibles en circunstancias normales, parecía que no pasaba ningún tiempo entre que Magnuss y Hair-Trigger recibieran una llamada al puente, y ellos realmente estuvieran allí…

Debido al enlace telepático, no era necesario que les dijeran que estaban mirando una flota de naves espaciales que se encontraba tan distante en el espacio que la imagen vaga era el resultado de estar en el rango extremo de los sensores. También entendieron que, a su velocidad y trayectoria actuales, la flota llegaría de Tah-Di-Tah en menos de una revolución planetaria.

“Culo.” Magnuss maldijo como un trabajador portuario con esteroides. Bragas también. Qué momento tan inconveniente para aparecer. Obviamente, no están de camino aquí para unas grandes vacaciones conjuntas o para una fiesta-fiesta-fiesta hasta el amanecer: eso se parece claramente a una flota de invasión “.

“Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah”. Hair-Trigger dijo sin aliento. “¿Qué fue lo que Madame Nellie dijo sobre ellos?”

Magnuss sacó rápidamente el bolígrafo espía del bolsillo del pecho. Al seleccionar el índice de tiempo correcto, pronto tuvo el dispositivo diabólicamente inteligente que repetía las palabras del clarividente: “Soy un adivino: no la Fuente del Conocimiento. No se que son; pero los vas a encontrar. Y, aparentemente, la existencia continua de Tah-Di-Tah depende de ello. Eso es todo, en camino: ahora todo depende de ti “.

Magnuss volvió a mirar a la holopantalla y dijo: “Es una coincidencia, ¿no te parece?”.

“Tenemos veintidós horas, más o menos”, dijo Hair-Trigger con severidad. “No tenemos tiempo para explicar todo esto a las autoridades: tenemos que actuar: y tenemos que actuar ahora. ¡Vamos a excavar esa aldea tecnológica! “

Pero Magnuss levantó una mano. “Esperar.” Él dijo. “Debemos hacer todo lo posible para frenar esa flota. Rudi nos dijo que teníamos una dotación completa de torpedos de protones “.

“Sólo un cambio de frase, estoy seguro”. Hair-Trigger estalló en su urgencia de estar en su tarea. “Simplemente su forma de decir que estábamos listos para el lanzamiento. Como decir que la despensa está llena o que los portarrollos de papel higiénico están llenos “.

Magnuss negó con la cabeza. “No lo creo. Mi hermano mayor no quiso decirme algo que no fuera cierto “.

Luego, con solo su mente, dio instrucciones a la nave en reposo…

… Para apuntar a la flota distante y disparar una andanada de torpedos. Para sorpresa de Hair-Trigger, este fue el resultado…

“Bueno, podrías derribarme con un lupher, no tenía ni idea. Pero, Magnuss, esos torpedos tienen un alcance limitado: la flota está demasiado lejos: nunca llegarán allí “.

“No tienen que hacerlo”. Magnuss respondió mientras disparaba la segunda y última volea…

… “Se quedarán sin combustible y seguirán adelante por su propio impulso. La flota navegará directamente hacia ellos. Efectivamente, son un campo de minas en movimiento entre Tah-Di-Tah y esas naves. Pero, en el mejor de los casos, solo los retrasará “.

Hair-Trigger observó cómo las bolas de luz incandescente desaparecían contra el vasto telón de fondo del espacio exterior. “Lo que necesitamos son refuerzos”. Dijo con gravedad y sin esperanza. Alguien que venga al rescate. Oh, si tan solo la caballería pudiera venir cargando sobre la colina ahora mismo: ¡les daría a todos un gran beso descuidado! “

Capítulo 6

Irónicamente, o por coincidencia, lo que te apetezca: en la Tierra (apenas veinticuatro horas antes) o, para ser un poco más precisos, en el Museo de Tecnología del Futuro (veinticuatro horas antes)…

… los soldados de la Séptima Caballería de Armiños Unidos habían estado desfilando en su empalizada…

Exactamente al mismo tiempo que el sargento Jo Frayzer gritó: “Brazos inclinados, ¡eh!”, Cushions Smethwyke acababa de alejarse del panel de videocomunicación en el que se había comunicado recientemente con el oficial al mando de la Séptima Caballería, el comandante Leftfoot Badger…

Como resultado de esta comunicación, Jo Frayzer y su compañero sargento, Wetpatch Wilton, habían sido convocados…

Esto era inusual para la hora del día y Jo estaba un poco asustada.

“Los soldados han estado usando bastante papel higiénico últimamente”. Le dijo a su colega. “No crees que ha llamado la atención del personal administrativo, ¿verdad?”

Wetpatch no era un soldado al que le gustaran las conjeturas. Estoy seguro de que lo averiguaremos pronto. Ahora saque su casco reglamentario de su bolsillo trasero y colóquelo en su cabeza “.

Este fue un consejo oportuno, porque a la vuelta de la esquina estaba la oficina … ah … del Oficial…

… que pertenecía a la exposición anterior, pero que ahora era el hogar de la Séptima Caballería. Sin mucha vacilación, los sargentos del personal se acercaron a la puerta…

Habrían llamado cortésmente, pero el ayudante del mayor, Klisters Barnacle-Balls, estaba mirando a través del buzón y los vio venir. Entonces, con un hábil movimiento de su muñeca, Klisters había abierto la puerta basculante de la manera más exagerada y espectacular…

“Llegas tarde.” Gruñó. El mayor está esperando su té de la tarde, y no puede tomarlo hasta que haya terminado con ustedes dos. ¡Así que entra allí ahora! “

Esto hizo poco para calmar los nervios de Jo. Así que fue con un mínimo de golpes en las rodillas que los sargentos de personal entraron en presencia de su oficial al mando…

Major Leftfoot Badger estaba fuera de su silla como una lapa con una glándula suprarrenal hiperactiva. Echándose el sombrero sobre la cabeza con práctica facilidad…

… Dijo: “Señores: miren la pantalla del panel de comunicaciones. Está a punto de reproducir un mensaje que he recibido recientemente de nuestros superiores: la Curator Corp del museo”.

“Fue una sorpresa desagradable, no me importa decírselo. Algo de una sacudida, en realidad. Cuando lo haya visto, creo que sabrá lo que necesito de usted “.

No dijo más porque momentos después la pantalla comenzó a brillar. Luego aparecieron los curadores, todos juntos para que pudieran aparecer en la pantalla. Cojines Smethwyke y Hunting Provost fueron los primeros…

“Está bien, tejón”. Los cojines gruñeron sin preámbulos. “Todos sabemos que la Séptima Caballería realmente pertenece a Worstworld y solo está aquí bajo nuestro consentimiento. No tienes una tarea real en el museo. De acuerdo, luchaste en un enfrentamiento contra esos robots invasores rojos del futuro: pero aparte de eso, has sido una tensión constante en nuestras escasas arcas. Así que ya es hora de que te ganes el sustento. Nos estamos cagando los pantalones por temor a lo que podría haberle pasado a esa encantadora pareja, Magnuss y Hair-Trigger, y no lo estamos disfrutando. Nuestro escáner omnipresente no puede encontrarlos en ninguna parte, ni siquiera en sus huesos desmembrados y tejidos conectivos. Queremos … no … exigimos que averigües dónde están y qué están haciendo. Si no lo haces, recordaré el Chi-Z-Soxy tenerlos a todos de regreso en el desierto irradiado de ese planeta condenado antes de que termine la semana. No me importa cómo lo hagas, pero hazlo “.

Esto fue suficiente para que ambos sargentos se estremecieran con sus botas de marcha; pero cuando Hunting Provost dejó de parecer triste y miró directamente a la cámara…

… Conocían el miedo real.

“Si fallas,” gruñó entre incisivos rechinantes, “te cazaré y alimentaré con tus restos al plancton. Eso es plancton de agua fría, por cierto. En algún lugar de la costa de la Antártida “.

El Mayor no necesitó decir nada: Jo y Wetpatch hablaron al unísono cuando dijeron (con un suspiro de resignación): “Ya estamos, señor. Usted puede contar con nosotros.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 17)

My, the story is moving apace now – don’t you think? Here’s the next instalment…

Because adrenalin can make a person do things with ease that would often be impossible under normal circumstances, it seemed that no time passed between Magnuss and Hair-Trigger receiving a summons to the bridge, and them actually being there…

And because of the telepathic link they didn’t need to be told that they were looking at a fleet of spacecraft that lay so distant in space that the vague image was the result of it being at the extreme range of the sensors. They also understood that, at its current speed and trajectory, the fleet would arrive off Tah-Di-Tah in less than a single planetary revolution.

“Bum.” Magnuss cursed like a dock-worker on steroids. “Knickers too. What an inconvenient time to turn up. Obviously they’re not on their way here for a huge joint vacation or to party-party-party until dawn: that looks distinctly like an invasion fleet.”

“The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah.” Hair-Trigger said breathlessly. “What was it that Madame Nellie said about them?”

Magnuss quickly retrieved the spy pen from his breast pocket. Selecting the correct time index he soon had the devilishly clever device repeating the clairvoyant’s words: “I’m a fortune teller: not the Fountain of Knowledge. I don’t know what they are; but you are going to find them. And – apparently – the continued existence of Tah-Di-Tah depends upon it. That’s it – on your way: now it’s all down to you.”

Magnuss turned his gaze to the holo-screen again, and said: “Bit of a coincidence, don’t you think?”

“We’ve got twenty-two hours – give-or-take,” Hair-Trigger said sternly. “We don’t have time to explain all this to the authorities: we need to act: and we need to act now. Let’s go dig up that techno-village!”

But Magnuss held aloft a hand. “Wait.” He said. “We must do all we can to slow that fleet down. Rudi told us that we had a full complement of proton Torpedoes.”

“Just a turn of phrase, I’m sure.” Hair-Trigger snapped in her urgency to be about their task. “Just his way of saying we were ready to launch. Like saying the larder is stocked, or the toilet roll holders are full.”

Magnuss shook his head. “I don’t think so. My oldest brother wouldn’t tell me something that wasn’t true.”

Then, with only his mind, he instructed the quiescent ship…

…to target the distant fleet and fire a volley of torpedoes. Much to Hair-Trigger’s surprise, this was the result…

“Well you could knock me down with a lupher, I had no idea. But, Magnuss, those torpedoes have a limited range: the fleet is far too distant: they’ll never get there.”

“They don’t have to.” Magnuss replied as he fired the second, and final, volley…

…They’ll run out of fuel, and drift onwards under their own momentum. The fleet will sail straight into them. Effectively they’re a moving mine field between Tah-Di-Tah and those ships. But, at best, it will only slow them down.”

Hair-Trigger watched as the balls of incandescent light disappeared against the vast backdrop of outer space. “What we need is reinforcements.” She said grimly and without hope. “Someone to come to the rescue. Oh, if only the cavalry could come charging over the hill right now: I’d give them all a big sloppy kiss!”

Chapter 6

Ironically, or coincidentally, whichever takes your fancy – back on Earth (a mere twenty-four hours earlier)– or, to be slightly more precise – back in the Museum of Future Technology (twenty-four hours earlier)…

…the troopers of the United Stoats Seventh Cavalry had been parading about in their stockade…

At exactly the same time that Staff Sergeant Jo Frayzer shouted: “Slope arms – huh!”, Cushions Smethwyke had just turned away from the video-com panel upon which she had recently communicated with the commanding officer of the Seventh Cavalry – Major Leftfoot Badger…

As a result of this communication, Jo Frayzer and fellow staff sergeant –Wetpatch Wilton – had been summoned…

This was unusual for the time of day, and Jo was slightly fearful.

“The troopers have been using rather a lot of toilet tissue lately.” He said to his colleague. “You don’t suppose it has come to the attention of the clerical staff – do you?”

Wetpatch wasn’t a soldier who enjoyed conjecture. “I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. Now dig your regulation headgear out of your back pocket and plonk it on your head.”

This was timely advice, because just around the corner stood the Officer’s…ah…office…

…which belonged to the former exhibit – but which was now home of the Seventh Cavalry. Without too much hesitation the staff sergeants approached the door…

They would have knocked politely, but the Major’s adjutant – Klisters Barnacle-Balls – was peering through the letter box, and saw them coming. So, with one deft flick of his wrist, Klisters had whipped the up-and-over door open in a most exaggerated and spectacular manner…

“You’re late.” He growled. “The Major is waiting for his afternoon tea – and he can’t have it until he’s dealt with you two. So get in there now!”

This did little to settle Jo’s nerves. So it was with a modicum of knee-knocking that the staff sergeants entered their commanding officer’s presence…

Major Leftfoot Badger was out of his chair like a limpet with an overactive adrenal gland. Tossing his hat upon his head with practiced ease…

…he said: “Gentlemen: regard the com-panel screen. It is about to replay a message that I have recently received from our superiors – the museum’s Curator Corp.”

“It came as a nasty surprise, I don’t mind telling you. Something of a jolt, actually. When you’ve seen it, I think you’ll know what I require from you.”

He said no more because moments later the screen began to glow. Then the curators appeared – all pushed up together so that they could appear on-screen. Cushions Smethwyke and Hunting Provost stood foremost…

“Okay, Badger.” Cushions growled without preamble. “We all know that the Seventh Cavalry really belong on Worstworld and are only here under sufferance from us. You don’t have a real task in the museum. Okay, you fought one engagement against those red robot invaders from the future: but other than that you’ve been a constant strain on our meagre coffers. So it’s about time you earned your keep. We’re pooping our pants in fear of what might have happened to those lovely couple – Magnuss and Hair-Trigger – and we’re not enjoying it. Our Omnipresent Scanner can’t find them anywhere – not even their dismembered bones and connective tissues. We want….no…we demand that you find out where they are and what they’re doing. If you don’t, I’m gonna recall the Chi-Z-Sox and have you all back in the irradiated desert of that doomed planet before the week is up. I don’t care how you do it – but get it done.”

This was enough to have both staff sergeants quaking in their marching boots; but when Hunting Provost stopped looking sad, and stared straight into the camera…

…they knew real fear.

“If you fail,” he ground out between gnashing incisors, “I will hunt you down and feed your remains to the plankton. That’s cold water plankton, by the way. Somewhere off the coast of Antarctica.”

The Major didn’t need to say anything: Jo and Wetpatch spoke in unison when they said (with a sigh of resignation): “We’re on it, Sir. You can count on us.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 16)

Gracias por permanecer con este cuento durante tanto tiempo. Sé que a veces parece interminable, pero el final, o el ‘finale’, como prefiero llamarlo, está a la vista (más o menos).

Para cuando el Tankerville Norris había regresado a la ciudad, la lluvia había desaparecido. Era tarde, pero el sol aún brillaba en un hermoso cielo azul…

Pero cuando los intrépidos tapones para los oídos visitaron la tienda de Madame Nellie…

… lo encontraron vacío, con la excepción de un letrero que había dejado su antiguo ocupante…

“Eso es muy conveniente”. Hair-Trigger siseó enojado. “Demasiada coincidencia, si me preguntas.”

Esto le dio a Magnuss una idea. Después de comprobar que Madame Nellie no se había cambiado el nombre a Madame Flub para evitar impuestos, volvieron a visitar el Bazar, donde buscaron los dos tapones para los oídos que los habían enviado a la tienda de Madame Nellie la noche anterior…

“No”, respondió el más oscuro de los dos réprobos a su interrogatorio, “no tenemos la primera idea de dónde está”.

“Ella nos acaba de pagar para que le enviemos clientes potenciales”. Añadió el tapón pálido para los oídos.

“¿Cuántos otros clientes le envió?” Magnuss preguntó.

Se miraron el uno al otro. El tapón para los oídos oscuro dijo entonces: “En realidad, solo dos. Ustedes dos. Después de que te fuiste, nos dio a cada uno cien Smackeroos y nos dijo que nuestros servicios ya no eran necesarios “.

“Los cien Smackeroos más fáciles que he hecho”. Dijo el pálido tapón para los oídos mientras tocaba su billetera escondida con aprecio.

Al principio, Magnuss y Hair-Trigger se sintieron impotentes. Simplemente no sabían qué hacer a continuación. Así que se dirigieron al Barrio Antiguo, donde esperaban ver a Nellie entre los habitantes…

Fue una posibilidad remota y fracasó estrepitosamente. Entonces Magnuss recordó la cámara espía que solía llevar en el bolsillo del pecho. Parecía un bolígrafo normal, pero grababa películas con sonido monoaural.

“Lo estaba usando en su casa”. Dijo mientras se aferraba a pajitas metafísicas. “Tal vez si se lo mostramos a la gente, podrían reconocer su rostro o su casa”.

Entonces lo hicieron…

Pero nadie había oído hablar siquiera de Madame Nellie. “Tal vez ambos lo soñaron”. Se sugiere una tapa de extremo azul. “¿Es posible compartir un sueño?”

Pronto el fracaso se apiló sobre el fracaso…

… y cuando se acercaba el crepúsculo y las sombras caían largamente entre los edificios, los cuatro pies combinados dolían muchísimo.

“Regresemos al barco”. Dijo Hair-Trigger mientras deambulaban por otra calle secundaria de Tah-Di-Tah. “Iremos a ver ese antiguo pueblo que encontramos en los bancos de historia”.

Poco después, el Tankerville Norris se acercaba a una hermosa colina iluminada por el sol…

Magnuss y Hair-Trigger estaban entusiasmados porque un poco más allá debería estar la antigua aldea. Pero cuando el barco se abalanzó sobre (lo que debería haber sido) el fiordo, los tapones para los oídos desinflados a bordo descubrieron que…

… estaba completamente lleno de sedimentos, y un puente de carretera muy bonito ahora cruzaba casi cien metros por encima de donde había estado el pueblo.

“Maldiciones”. Gritaron como uno solo. “¡Frustrado de nuevo!”

Así que fue con un sentimiento de desesperación que hicieron que Tankerville Norris regresara a su entorno natural…

Si el vacío pudiera conducir vibraciones, cualquiera fuera de la nave habría escuchado el rugido enojado de Magnuss, junto con el tintineo de una cucharadita mientras giraba y giraba, con un grado de violencia solo igualado por un tornado de categoría cinco, dentro de una taza de café.

“No quiero café, Hairy”. Se habría escuchado rugir su voz. “Me mantiene despierto”.

La voz de Hair-Trigger era considerablemente más tranquila, y podría no haber sido detectada por la persona imaginaria con su (o su) oído pegado al casco: “Está descafeinado”. Ella dijo.

Esto pareció calmar a Magnuss. Preparar una taza de café y dársela a su marido enojado era algo tan normal y cotidiano. Liberó su estrés. “Oh gracias. ¿Cuántos terrones de azúcar le pusiste? “

“Ninguno.” Respondió Hair-Trigger. “Solo tenemos edulcorantes a bordo”.

Magnuss, a diferencia de muchos tapones para los oídos de su generación, estaba perfectamente contento con el azúcar falso, por lo que aceptó con gusto el café. Mientras Hair-Trigger terminaba en la estación de trabajo del café, regresó a la interfaz de su biblioteca. Y fue mientras miraba la información confusa, a menudo aparentemente contradictoria que tenía ante sí, que comenzó a ver una correlación. Pasando a Hair-Trigger…

… Dijo: “Peludo; tenemos que ir a Ingeniería pronto “.

A estas alturas ya se habían familiarizado con la ruta; por lo que solo tomó la mitad del tiempo habitual para llegar a las entrañas del barco…

“No soy muy bueno con las cosas de tecnología”. Dijo mientras Hair-Trigger lo seguía al compartimiento. “Enciéndelo, ¿quieres?”

Momentos después, los delicados dedos de Hair-Trigger bailaron a través de los controles, y el generador de hologramas cobró vida…

“Todo es cuestión de tiempo”. Magnuss explicó, lo que complació a Hair-Trigger porque, de todas sus películas de ciencia ficción favoritas, le gustaron las que más presentaban viajes en el tiempo. “Hemos estado viendo esto al revés”.

Esto también complació a Hair-Trigger porque pensó que habían estado viendo el problema desde el ángulo correcto: descubrir que su famoso esposo ahora cambió la situación significaba que ella no tenía que preocuparse más. “Bien.” Ella dijo. “¿Qué quieres decir?”

“Nigel, el Dorado, nos dijo que Bunk-Bunk Bunsen había viajado en el tiempo. Que el diseño de Tankerville Norris , Scroterton Pancake y Sir Goosewing Grey era más avanzado que todo lo que tenemos hoy porque vino del futuro. ¿Y si solo asumiera que venían del futuro? ¿O que Bunk-Bunk Bunsen se lo dijo porque le resultaba más fácil aceptarlo?

No por primera vez durante sus muchas conversaciones enrevesadas, Hair-Trigger dio el salto mental que Magnuss esperaba de ella. “¿Qué encontraste en la computadora de la biblioteca?” Exigió.

“El pueblo del fiordo”. Magnuss respondió con creciente entusiasmo. “Supusimos que era un pueblo de pescadores primitivo, que podría haber tenido o no un equipo de fútbol. No lo fue. Era un enclave de tecnócratas. Todos los tapones para los oídos más inteligentes del planeta fueron allí para estudiar y experimentar con las ideas y la tecnología futuristas que desarrollaron allí. Eso fue hace mil años. Fue destruido en un cataclismo de origen desconocido. Luego, un tsunami arrasó y cubrió las ruinas con el fondo del mar y el cieno “.

A estas alturas Hair-Trigger temblaba de anticipación. “Sé lo que vas a decir”. Ella chilló. “La razón por la que la computadora no puede correlacionar las Líneas de Tah-Di-Tah con nada hoy es porque este mundo no se llamaba Tah-Di-Tah hace mil años”. 

“En la nariz, mi superinteligente y dulce esposa”. Magnuss gritó. “Se llamaba de otra manera completamente, lo cual no sé y no me importa. El secreto de las Líneas de Tah-Di-Tah se encuentra a cien metros por debajo de ese puente de carretera “.

“¡Y tenemos que desenterrarlo!” Hair-Trigger gritó estridentemente. “¿Pero cómo?”

En ese momento, el barco pasó información silenciosa a la pareja. Se volvieron para mirar el multiplicitador gravitónico…

“Si puede mover mundos”, dijo Magnuss mientras la máquina tarareaba casi en silencio, “un bonito puente de carretera y unos cientos de miles de toneladas de fondo marino no deberían ser ningún problema”.

Pero justo cuando se dispusieron a averiguar cómo utilizar el multiplicitador gravitónico, la nave pasó a Crimson Alert…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 16)

Thank you for staying with this tale for so long. I know it sometimes seems interminable, but the end – or the ‘finale’, as I prefer to call it – is in sight (sort of).

By the time the Tankerville Norris had returned to the city, the rain had blown away. It was late, but the sun still shone from a beautiful blue sky…

But when the intrepid earplugs visited Madame Nellie’s tent…

…they found it empty – with the exception of a sign that had been left by its former occupant…

“That’s very convenient.” Hair-Trigger hissed angrily. “Too much of a coincidence, if you ask me.”

This gave Magnuss an idea. After checking that Madame Nellie hadn’t changed her name to Madame Flub to avoid taxes, they revisited the Bazaar, where they sought out the two earplugs that had sent them to Madame Nellie’s tent the night previous…

“Nah,” the darker of the two reprobates replied to their questioning, “we don’t have the first idea where she is.”

“She just paid us to send potential customers to her.” The pale earplug added.

“How many other customers did you send her?” Magnuss inquired.

They looked at each other. The dark earplug then said: “Actually only two. You two. After you’d gone, she gave us each a hundred Smackeroos and told us that our services were no longer required.”

“Easiest hundred Smackeroos I ever made.” The pale earplug said as he fingered his hidden wallet appreciatively.

At first Magnuss and Hair-Trigger felt helpless. They simply didn’t know what to do next. So they wandered to the Old Quarter, where they hoped to spot Nellie amongst the inhabitants…

It was a long-shot, and failed miserably. Then Magnuss remembered the spy camera that he habitually wore in his breast pocket. It looked like a normal pen, but it recorded movies with monaural sound.

“I was wearing it in her house.” He said whilst grasping at metaphysical straws. “Maybe if we show it to people, they might recognise either her face or her house.”

So they did…

But no one had even heard of Madame Nellie. “Maybe you both dreamed it.” A blue End Cap suggested. “Is it possible to share a dream?”

Soon failure piled upon failure…

…and as dusk approached and the shadows fell long between buildings, all four of their combined feet hurt like heck.

“Let’s get back to the ship.” Hair-Trigger said as they wandered down yet another Tah-Di-Tah back street. “We’ll go and look at that ancient village we found in the history banks.”

Shortly the Tankerville Norris was approaching a beautifully sun-lit hill…

Magnuss and Hair-Trigger were becoming excited because just beyond it should lay the ancient village. But when the ship swooped into (what should have been) the fiord, the deflated earplugs aboard discovered that…

…it was completely silted up, and that a very nice road bridge now crossed almost a hundred metres above where the village had once stood.

“Curses.” They yelled as one. “Thwarted again!”

So it was with a feeling of despair that they had the Tankerville Norris return to its natural environment…

If vacuum could conduct vibrations, anyone outside the ship would have heard Magnuss’ angry bellowing – along with the tinkling sound of a teaspoon as it whirred around and around, with a degree of violence only matched by a category five tornado, inside a mug of coffee.

“I don’t want any coffee, Hairy.” His voice would have been heard to roar. “It keeps me up.”

Hair-Trigger’s voice was considerably quieter, and might not have been detectable by the imaginary person with his or her (or it’s) ear pressed to the hull: “It’s decaffeinated.” She said.

This seemed to calm Magnuss. Making a cup of coffee and handing it to your angry husband was such an ordinary, day-to-day thing to do. It released his stress. “Oh, thank you. How many lumps of sugar did you put in it?”

“None.” Hair-Trigger replied. “We’ve only got sweeteners on board.”

Magnuss, unlike many earplugs of his generation, was perfectly happy with fake sugar, so he gladly accepted the coffee. Whilst Hair-Trigger finished up at the coffee work station, he returned to his library interface.  And it was as he stared at the con fusing, often seemingly contradictory information before him that he began to see a correlation. Turning to Hair-Trigger…

…he said: “Hairy; we need to get down to Engineering pronto.”

By now they had grown familiar with the route; so it only took half the usual time to reach the bowels of the ship…

“I’m not very good with tech stuff.” He said as Hair-Trigger followed him into the compartment. “Turn it on, will you?”

Moments later Hair-Trigger’s dainty fingers danced across the controls, and the hologram generator burst into life…

“It’s all about time.” Magnuss explained – which pleased Hair-Trigger because, of all her favourite science-fiction movies, she liked those that featured time-travel the most. “We’ve been looking at this the wrong way ‘round.”

This also pleased Hair-Trigger because she thought they’d been looking at the problem from the right angle: to find that her famous husband now turned the situation on its head meant that she need not fret anymore. “Good.” She said. “Whatta ya mean?”

“Nigel – the Golden One – told us that Bunk- Bunk Bunsen had travelled back through time. That the design of the Tankerville Norris, Scroterton Pancake, and the Sir Goosewing Grey were more advanced than anything we have today because it came from the future. What if he only assumed that they came from the future? Or that Bunk-Bunk Bunsen told him that because it was easier for him to accept?”

Not for the first time during their many convoluted conversations did Hair-Trigger make the mental leap expected of her by Magnuss. “What did you find in the library computer?” She demanded.

“The village in the fiord.” Magnuss replied with building excitement. “We assumed that it was a primitive fishing village, which might or might not have had a football team. It wasn’t. It was a technocrat’s enclave. All the brainiest earplugs of the planet went there to study and to experiment with futuristic ideas and technology that they developed there. That was a thousand years ago. It was destroyed in a cataclysm of unknown origin. Then a tsunami swept in and covered the ruins in sea bottom and silt.”

By now Hair-Trigger was shaking with anticipation. “I know what you’re going to say.” She squealed. “The reason that the computer can’t correlate the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah with anything today is because this world wasn’t called Tah-Di-Tah a thousand years ago.” 

“On the nose, my super-intelligent, sweet wife.” Magnuss bellowed. “It was called something else completely – which I don’t know and don’t care. The secret of the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah lay a hundred metres below that road bridge.”

“And we have to dig it up!” Hair-Trigger yelled shrilly. “But how?”

At that point the ship passed on some silent information to the couple. They turned to regard the Gravitonic Multiplicitor…

“If it can move worlds,” Magnuss said whilst the machine hummed in near silence, “a nice road bridge and a few hundred thousand tons of sea floor should be no problem at all.”

But just as they set about figuring how to utilise the Gravitonic Multiplicitor, the ship went to Crimson Alert…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 15)

Hasta ahora ha sido bastante divertido para los recién casados: ahora comienza realmente su trabajo. Sigue leyendo …

Capítulo 5

Ni Magnuss ni Hair-Trigger durmieron bien esa noche. Sus mentes estaban alborotadas. Así que todavía estaban cansados ​​cuando el despertador los despertó a un día lleno de cielos grises y lluvia…

Pero una cosa era segura para ambos, mientras contemplaban la ciudad empapada por la lluvia que solo unas horas antes había parecido tan brillante y llena de promesas…

“No aprenderemos nada aquí”. Magnuss dijo. Luego, para agregar claridad, agregó: “En la ciudad me refiero. Nadie sabe nada sobre las Líneas de Tah-Di-Tah “.

“¿Cómo puedes estar tan seguro?” Hair-Trigger preguntó razonablemente. “Sé que preguntamos en recepción, pero no les hemos preguntado a todos”.

“Me conecté a Internet mientras estabas haciendo tostadas”. Magnuss explicó. “No hay una sola mención de eso”.

Para su crédito, Hair-Trigger intentó ser subjetivo y útil. ¿Ha considerado que Madame Nellie podría ser un auténtico pastel de frutas? ¿Que tal vez no existan las Líneas de Tah-Di-Tah? “

La expresión de Magnuss, reflejada en la ventana, le dijo a Hair-Trigger que interpretar a Devil’s Advocate no era su talento más notable. “Tienes razón, por supuesto.” Ella dijo. “Claramente la hembra no es un loco. Si se hubiera enojado, no te habría acariciado la sien: te habría apretado las nalgas. ¿Entonces, dónde vamos desde aquí?”

“El Tankerville Norris “. Magnuss respondió. “Si vamos a encontrar algo pertinente sobre las Líneas de Tah-Di-Tah, estará en los bancos de memoria de la nave”.

Entonces, media hora más tarde, y habiendo realizado el check out, el equipo de audaces marido y mujer se dirigió a la salida del Hotel Gilb…

Desde allí, el autobús de cortesía los devolvió al estacionamiento y de allí a su barco, a través del cual (debido a que el clima afuera había sido frío y húmedo) corrieron al baño (recientemente señalizado)…

… antes de establecerse para estudiar la inmensa Biblioteca de Información Galáctica, conocida en broma como La Enciclopedia Galáctica , en la computadora central de la nave…

Pero solo para estar seguro de que no serían interrumpidos, o escaneados intrusivamente por el SS Glob, Magnuss hizo despegar el Tankerville Norris

… luego zumba a través de la sección de gran altura de la ciudad azotada por la lluvia…

Esto coincidió con el hecho de que muchos miembros del personal de hospitalidad del Hotel Gilb tomaran su descanso para tomar un café temprano en la mañana junto a la ventana del comedor…

“Oh-no, no se irá otro.” El individuo morado con cabello rosado se quejó. “El lugar ya está casi vacío. Si esto continúa, puedo ver que toda nuestra industria se derrumba en nuestros oídos “.

Pero un tapón para los oídos verde estaba secretamente complacido con la partida de una nave espacial, ¡porque era un anarquista de catering!

A bordo de la nave espacial que sale…

… Magnuss y Hair-Trigger observaron cómo el agua de lluvia caía de la cúpula de la cámara de proa del barco.

“Jodido de un día”. Magnuss observó. “Seremos capaces de pensar con más claridad cuando estemos por encima de la atmósfera: no habrá este incesante ruido de tintineos en el casco”.

Pero media hora después, y habiendo pasado todo el tiempo tratando de encontrar información que pudiera estar vagamente relacionada con las Líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (pero sin éxito), Magnuss estaba teniendo dolor de cabeza…

Así que se sentó durante cinco minutos, lo que liberó a Hair-Trigger para probar algunas entradas propias.

“Oye”, gritó casi de inmediato, “he intentado una entrada de solicitud más amplia y expansiva. Dejé fuera la parte Tah-Di-Tah. Marqué una solicitud de cualquier uso histórico o mítico de la palabra “líneas”. Adivina qué, encontré una entrada. Necesitamos acceder a él en la mesa en Ingeniería…

Ingeniería, al estar relativamente cerca del puente, la pareja emocionada tardó solo unos momentos en llegar allí…

“¿Cómo lo encendemos?” -Preguntó Hair-Trigger a Magnuss.

En el momento justo, ambos lo supieron en un instante. Momentos después, apareció en el visor holográfico una imagen para acompañar la información que se alimentaba directamente en sus cerebros…

“Un pueblo extraño al final de un largo fiordo”. Magnuss dijo maravillado.

“Pequeñas casas abovedadas que cuelgan o se adhieren a la pared del acantilado”. Se agregó Hair-Trigger. “Algunos bajan hasta la orilla del agua”.

“No hay mucha tierra plana”. Magnuss notó. “No me gustaría estar en su equipo de fútbol: estarías jugando la mitad del juego cuesta arriba; y la otra mitad persiguiendo la pelota cuesta abajo “.

“Por favor, tienen su tono al revés”. Sugirió Hair-Trigger. Me refiero longitudinalmente. Inclinado en cualquier ángulo del acantilado, con los goles en cada extremo también inclinados, por supuesto “.

Magnuss estaba a punto de responder, cuando de repente se dio cuenta de que se habían salido del tema. Entonces dijo: “¿A quién le importa? Eh, tal vez ni siquiera juegan al fútbol “.

“No lo hice”. Hair-Trigger lo corrigió. “Quizás no jugaban al fútbol. Esta es una imagen histórica. Tiempo pasado, eso es. Quizás nunca jugaron al fútbol porque aún no se había inventado ”.

Magnuss rápidamente cambió de tema. “Esta es una foto de invierno: ¿podemos ver una versión de verano?”

“Mira, Magnuss,” para ser lanzadas sin aliento después de examinar la imagen de sustitución por un nanosegundo, “que lo hizo tener un área adecuada para un campo de fútbol. Junto al agua en la costa norte. Parece tener tres edificios. Pero podrían ser meras tiendas de campaña o puntos de venta de telas artesanales “.

Magnuss echó un vistazo rápido para confirmar la observación de su esposa; luego devolvió la conversación a su curso original. “Recopilemos la información que tenemos sobre The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah y veamos a dónde nos lleva este nuevo material”.

Naturalmente, el barco cumplió…

Magnuss no estaba impresionado, así que Hair-Trigger puso una cara valiente y sonrió dulcemente. “Sí”, dijo positivamente, “aunque no tenemos idea de qué son estas ‘líneas’, sabemos que tienen algo que ver con el planeta, Tah-Di-Tah”.

Magnuss se recompuso. “Confirmado.” El acepto. “También noto que se destaca la clarividencia: eso también debe ser importante. Madame Nellie, supongo, pero afirmó no saber nada de The Lines.

“Predestinación.” Hair-Trigger gritó cuando vio la palabra. “Eso sugiere que alguien, posiblemente tú y yo, siempre tuvimos la intención de estar aquí para encontrar The Lines. ¿Pero viajes en el tiempo?

“Bunk-Bunk Bunsen”. Magnuss soltó. “El que trajo los planos de este mismo barco desde el futuro. Lo mencioné antes en la ciudad. Ahora empieza a tener cada vez más sentido. Pero no puedo calcular la entrada del historial “.

“El pueblo al final del fiordo”. Sugirió Hair-Trigger. Cuando ingresé la palabra ‘líneas’, la computadora me dio la aldea “.

“Aceptado.” Magnuss dijo mientras estudiaba el holograma. “¿Pero qué diablos es un Infinite Reality Drive?”

En un instante, el enlace telepático con Tankerville Norris le dio la respuesta. Hair-Trigger también.

“Es lo que impulsa la nave”. Ella gritó con alegría. “Me preguntaba por qué no zumbaba con una cola de fuego como la de otros barcos en los que hemos estado. Usando un sistema, no muy diferente al que destruyó la civilización que descubrieron Folie Krimp y Placebo Bison, los creadores del IRD accedieron a realidades cuánticas alternativas y sintonizaron el poder bruto del creativo ‘Big Bang’ de esa realidad, y lo convirtieron en un sistema lineal suave. empuje.”

Magnuss quedó impresionado. “Muy bien, Hairy”. Él dijo. “Yo mismo no podría haberlo dicho mejor. De hecho, habría hablado un montón de zapateros. Pero, ¿cómo es pertinente al misterio? ¿Qué tiene que ver Infinite Reality Drive con la clarividencia, los viajes en el tiempo, la predestinación y el planeta de abajo?

“El punto de partida llegó cuando visitamos a Madame Nellie”. Respondió Hair-Trigger. “Es sólo una corazonada, pero creo que ella sabe más de lo que dice. Qué vergüenza: ¡y tú también eres un santo!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 15)

So far it has been rather fun for the newlyweds: now their work really begins. Read on…

Chapter 5

Neither Magnuss nor Hair-Trigger slept well that night. Their minds were in turmoil. So they were still tired when the alarm clock woke them to a day full of grey skies and rain…

But one thing was certain to both of them, as they stared out at the rain-soaked city that only hours earlier had appeared so bright and full of promise…

“We’ll learn nothing here.” Magnuss said. Then, to add clarity he added: “In the city I mean. No one knows anything about the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah.”

“How can you be so sure?” Hair-Trigger inquired reasonably. “I know we asked at Reception, but we haven’t asked everyone.”

“I went on-line while you were making toast.” Magnuss explained. “There’s not a single mention of it.”

To her credit, Hair-Trigger tried to be subjective and helpful. “Have you considered that Madame Nellie might be a bona fide fruit-cake? That perhaps there is no such thing as the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah?”

Magnuss’ expression, reflected in the window, told Hair-Trigger that playing Devil’s Advocate wasn’t her most remarkable talent. “You’re right, of course.” She said. “Clearly the female is no nut-job. If she’d been mad, she wouldn’t have caressed your temple: she would have squeezed your buttocks. So where do we go from here?”

“The Tankerville Norris.” Magnuss replied. “If we are to find anything pertinent concerning the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah, it’ll be in the ship’s memory banks.”

So, a half-hour later, and having checked out, the husband and wife team of daring-doers made for the exit of the Hotel Gilb…

From there the courtesy shuttle bus returned them to the parking lot, and thence to their ship – through which (because the weather outside had been chilly and wet) they rushed to the (recently sign-posted) lavatory…

…before settling down to study the immense Library of Galactic Information – jokingly referred to as The Encyclopaedia Galactica – in the ship’s central computer…

But just to be certain that they would not be interrupted – or scanned intrusively by the SS Glob – Magnuss had the Tankerville Norris lift off…

…then whoosh across the high-rise section of the rain-swept city…

This coincided with many of the Hotel Gilb’s hospitality staff taking their early morning coffee break by the window in the dining room…

“Oh-no, not another one leaving.” The purple individual with pink hair complained. “The place is already nearly empty. If this keeps on, I can see our whole industry falling down around our ears.”

But a green earplug was secretly pleased at the departure of a space ship, because he was a Catering Anarchist!

Aboard the departing space ship…

…Magnuss and Hair-Trigger watched as rainwater slewed off the ship’s forward camera cupola.

“Right sod of a day.” Magnuss observed. “We’ll be able to think more clearly when we’re above the atmosphere: there won’t be this incessant tippy-tappy noise on the hull.”

But a half-hour later, and having spent the entire time trying to find information that might be vaguely linked with the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (but without success) Magnuss was getting a headache…

So he sat down for five minutes, which released Hair-Trigger to try a few entries of her own.

“Hey,” she yelled almost immediately, “I’ve tried a wider, more expansive request input. I’ve left out the Tah-Di-Tah bit. I punched in a request for any historical or mythical usage of the word ‘lines’. Guess what – I found an entry. We need to access it on the table in Engineering…

Engineering, being relatively close to the bridge, it took only moments for the excited couple to get there…

“How do we turn it on?” Hair-Trigger asked Magnuss.

On cue both knew in an instant. Moments later an image to accompany the information that was being directly fed into their brains appeared on the holographic viewer…

“A strange village at the very end of a long fiord.” Magnuss said in wonder.

“Small domed houses that hang on, or cling to the cliff face.” Hair-Trigger added. “Some go down to the water’s edge.”

“Not a lot of flat land.” Magnuss noted. “I wouldn’t want to be on their soccer team: you’d be playing one half of the game up hill; and the other half chasing the ball downhill.”

“P’raps they’ve got their pitch the other way ‘round.” Hair-Trigger suggested. “Longitudinally I mean. Canted over at whatever the angle of the cliff, with the goals at either end also canted over of course.”

Magnuss was about to reply, when suddenly he realised that they had gone off-subject. So he said: “Who cares? Huh, maybe they don’t even play soccer.”

“Didn’t.” Hair-Trigger corrected him. “Maybe they didn’t play soccer. This is a historical picture. Past tense, that is. Maybe they never played soccer because it hadn’t been invented yet.”

Magnuss quickly changed the subject. “This is a winter shot: can we see a summer version?”

“Look, Magnuss,” Hair-Trigger gasped after scrutinizing the replacement picture for a nanosecond, “they did have an area suitable for a soccer pitch. Down by the water on the north shore. It appears to have three buildings on it. But they could be mere tents or artisan’s fabric retail outlets.”

Magnuss took a quick peek to confirm his wife’s observation; then returned the conversation to its original course. “Let’s collate the info we have on The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah, and see where this new stuff takes us.”

Naturally the ship complied…

Magnuss wasn’t impressed, so Hair-Trigger put on a brave face and smiled sweetly. “Yes,” she said positively, “although we have no idea what these ‘lines’ are, we know they have something to do with the planet, Tah-Di-Tah.”

Magnuss pulled himself together. “Confirmed.” He agreed. “I also notice that clairvoyance is highlighted: that must be important too. Madame Nellie, I presume – yet she claimed to know nothing of The Lines.”

“Predestination.” Hair-Trigger yelped when she saw the word. “That suggests that someone – possibly you and I – were always intended to be here to find The Lines. But Time Travel?”

“Bunk-Bunk Bunsen.” Magnuss blurted. “He who brought the plans of this very ship with him from the future. I alluded to it, earlier in the city. Now it’s beginning to make more and more sense. But I can’t figure the History entry.”

“The village at the end of the fiord.” Hair-Trigger suggested. When I entered the word ’lines’, the computer gave me the village.”

“Accepted.” Magnuss said as he studied the hologram. “But what the heck is an Infinite Reality Drive?”

In an instant the telepathic link with the Tankerville Norris gave him the answer. Hair-Trigger too.

“It’s what powers the ship along.” She yelled joyfully. “I wondered why it didn’t whoosh along with a tail of fire like other ship’s we’ve been on. Using a system – not unlike that one which destroyed the civilisation that Folie Krimp and Placebo Bison discovered – the creators of the I.R.D accessed alternative quantum realities and syphoned off the raw power of that reality’s creative ‘Big Bang’, and converted it into smooth linear thrust.”

Magnuss was impressed. “Very good, Hairy.” He said. “I couldn’t have put it better myself. In fact I would have spoken a bunch of cobblers. But how is it pertinent to the mystery? What does Infinite Reality Drive have to do with clairvoyance, time-travel, predestination, and the planet below?”

“The starting point came when we visited Madame Nellie.” Hair-Trigger replied. “It’s only a hunch, but I think she knows more than she’s telling. Shame on her: and you being a Saint as well!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Succinct Cover Art

Unusually, for an Earplug Adventure, the story (and cover art) for The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah were all complete, spell-checked, listened to (using Natural Reader), and ready for conversion to PDF format long before the final few episodes appear on-line. But, since the tale is an on-line serial, I shall refrain from publishing the finished e-book/file until the penultimate episode appears – which is the usual way of things in Tootyland. But just as a taster for anyone who is planning to download the great masterpiece of silicon life – to share with friends, family, total strangers, and anyone who looks like they might be into strange stuff – here is the cover art. It isn’t flashy. It doesn’t display an exciting moment from the story. Instead I thought it should show the two stars – looking slightly puzzled. After all  they are earplugs, and this is an earplug mystery.

So now you know what to look for when it appears on the All Earplug Adventures in PDF Format Unexpurgated & FREE! page.

P.S You don’t need to wait to visit the page: there are 41 other Earplug Adventures there, gagging to be read.

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah (parte 14)

¿La parte catorce ya? Dicen que el tiempo vuela cuando te diviertes. Aquí está el extracto más reciente …

Así que, unos minutos más tarde, se encontraron fuera de la tienda de Madame Nellie, la adivina de los ricos y famosos…

“¿Te sientes con ganas?” -Preguntó Hair-Trigger a un Magnuss reacio.

“No estoy seguro”, respondió el héroe vacilante. “¿Y si ella es la auténtica? ¿Y si realmente puede ver mi futuro? “

“¿Cuáles son las posibilidades de eso?” Hair-Trigger se burló. “Si fuera buena, no tendría una tienda de campaña en un bazar en el culo de la nada”.

Pero ninguno pudo decir más porque Madame Nellie estaba a punto de invitarlos a entrar…

“Bienvenidos, mis queridos.” Dijo expansivamente. “Bienvenido a mi humilde morada. De hecho, tengo un buen lugar a la vuelta de la esquina; pero está un poco fuera de lo común y nadie puede encontrarlo sin navegación por satélite. Así que es el joven y apuesto marido el que quiere que le digan el futuro, ¿no es así?

Magnuss no se había dado cuenta de que Nellie era perfectamente capaz de escucharlos a través de la fina tela de su tienda, por lo que estaba debidamente impresionado. “Sí, por favor.” Él dijo. “¿Dónde firmo? ¿Cuánto cuesta? ¿Necesitarás tocarme en alguna parte? “

Nellie sonrió ante esto. “Sólo una vez”. Ella respondió. “Sólo una caricia momentánea de tu sien”. Pero cuando realizó el simple acto, algo pareció cambiar en ella. Su gentil bonhomie se evaporó…

“Esto no está bien.” Ella chasqueó. “Debemos dejar esta tienda de campaña de inmediato. Sígueme. Date prisa ahora: no te entretengas “.

Ambos tapones para los oídos terrestres se sorprendieron, pero eso no les impidió aceptar la demanda de la adivina. Rápidamente se encontraron corriendo por un pasillo estrecho entre los barrios de la ciudad…

Los tapones para los oídos los pasaron en la dirección opuesta, ninguno de los cuales hizo contacto visual…

Luego, inesperadamente, salieron de un edificio, entraron en el Barrio Antiguo…

Magnuss, ahora realmente preocupado por su seguridad, anotó el nombre de la calle. Luego fue junto a otra antigua morada…

Pero una vez dentro de la pequeña casa de uno arriba / otro abajo, sus temores retrocedieron. Estaban solos con la mujer solitaria desarmada…

Ambos tapones para los oídos intentaron sonreír; pero no sirvió de nada: Nellie estaba tan seria como siempre…

“Eres Magnuss Finklestein Earplug”. Dijo ella con total naturalidad. “No me preguntes cómo lo sé. Basta decir que soy “el verdadero negocio”. Soy clarividente: puedo ver tu futuro. También puedo ver tu pasado “.

Esta última línea hizo que Magnuss se sintiera nervioso y vulnerable. “¿Puedes ver el momento en que estaba caminando a casa desde la escuela y oí un tintineo subrepticio en el antiguo refugio antiaéreo de Missus Snook?”

Por un momento, Nellie hizo una pausa. “Aah, no”. Ella respondio. “Afortunadamente no. Pero no evada: esto es absolutamente importante. Ahora sé que su esposa también está cortada de material heroico. Esto es bueno. Necesitarás su ayuda “.

“Él lo tiene”. Hair-Trigger interrumpió. “Siempre, pase lo que pase. Incluso si orinó en el antiguo refugio antiaéreo de Missus Snook. Por cierto, espero que el olor no persista, Magnuss. “

“Tenía una lata de ambientador en mi mochila escolar”. Magnuss respondió. “Fue como una manta de seguridad para mí. Eventualmente lo supere “.

“¿Podéis callaros dos, por el amor de Dios?” Nellie gritó: “Tengo algo muy importante que decirte. Pero primero una pregunta: ¿cree en el destino previo?

Magnuss se sintió incómodo con el tema. Si decía “sí”, significaba que no aceptaba el libre albedrío. Si decía “no”, sugería que tenía la mente cerrada. “No estoy seguro.” Él dijo.

“Bien.” Nellie respondió inesperadamente. “Mantenga un control firme sobre su agnosticismo: lo va a necesitar. Aquí hay otra pregunta: ¿alguna vez has oído hablar de las Líneas de Tah-Di-Tah?”

Los dos jóvenes tapones para los oídos pusieron caras perplejas y negaron con la cabeza.

“Bien.” Nellie los sorprendió de nuevo. “Porque tú, Magnuss, los vas a descubrir”.

“¿Puaj?” Magnuss y Hair-Trigger dijeron al unísono. Magnuss luego agregó: “¿Pero cuáles son las líneas de Tah-Di-Tah?”

Ante esto, Nellie simplemente se encogió de hombros. “Soy un adivino”. Ella respondio. ”No la Fuente del Conocimiento. No se que son; pero los vas a encontrar. Y, aparentemente, la existencia continua de Tah-Di-Tah depende de ello. Eso es todo, en camino: ahora todo depende de ti “.

Así que fue una pareja algo conmocionada que salió de la choza por la puerta trasera…

“¿Qué vamos a hacer?” Lloraron como uno solo. Luego Hair-Trigger agregó: “Todo un mundo depende de lo que hagamos a continuación”.

“Sé.” Magnuss gimió. “Ahora mismo desearía que hubiéramos tenido nuestra luna de miel en Worstworld, justo cuando su estrella se vuelve nova. Eso no habría sido ni la mitad de malo que esto. No sé qué hacer y no me gusta no saber qué hacer. ¡No está en mi ADN! “

Magnuss y Hair-Trigger estaban tan absortos en sus preocupaciones que ni siquiera notaron que el grupo de turistas perdidos pasaba en la dirección opuesta…

Así que volvieron a vagar en dirección al Hotel Gilb…

… Por algunos callejones que estaban realmente muy oscuros. Y todo lo que Magnuss podía pensar era en la alegría que había experimentado cuando descubrió el urinario futurista de Tankerville Norris

… Lo que llevó a otro pensamiento.

“Peludo”, dijo, “creo que tengo una idea. Tiene algo que ver con Bunk-Bunk Bunsen y sus planes de nave espacial. No creo que haya sido un accidente que los Scrotonites les hayan puesto las manos encima. ¡Creo que se suponía que debían hacerlo! “

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Earplug Adventures: The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah (part 14)

Part fourteen already? They do say that time flies when you’re having fun. Here is the latest extract…

So, a few minutes later, they found themselves outside the tent of Madame Nellie – Fortune Teller to the Rich and Famous…

“Are you feeling up for it?” Hair-Trigger asked a reluctant Magnuss.

“I’m not sure,” the hesitant hero replied. “What if she’s the real deal? What if she really can see my future?”

“What’re the chances of that?” Hair-Trigger scoffed. “If she was any good, she wouldn’t have a tent in a bazaar in the arse-end of nowhere.”

But neither could say more because Madame Nellie was about to invite them inside…

“Welcome, my darlings.” She said expansively. “Welcome to my humble abode. I’ve actually got a nice place ‘round the corner; but it’s a bit off the beaten track and nobody can find it without satellite navigation. So it’s the handsome young husband who wants his fortune told, is it?”

Magnuss hadn’t realised that Nellie was perfectly capable of hearing them through the thin fabric of her tent, so was duly impressed. “Yes please.” He said. “Where do I sign? How much does it cost? Will you need to touch me anywhere?”

Nellie smiled at this. “Only the once.” She answered. “Just a momentary caress of your temple.” But when she performed the simple act, something seemed to change in her. Her gentle bonhomie evaporated…

“This is no good.” She snapped. “We must leave this tent immediately. Follow me. Hurry now: don’t dawdle.”

Both Earthling earplugs were taken aback, but that didn’t stop them from acquiescing to the fortune teller’s demand. They quickly found themselves hurrying along a narrow corridor between the town’s quarters…

Earplugs passed them in the opposite direction – none of which made eye contact…

Then, unexpectedly, they exited a building – into the Old Quarter…

Magnuss – now genuinely concerned for their safety – noted the name of the street. Then it was along to another ancient abode…

But once inside the tiny one-up/one-down house, his fears receded. They were alone with the solitary unarmed female…

Both earplugs tried smiling; but it didn’t do any good: Nellie was as serious as ever…

“You are Magnuss Finklestein Earplug.” She stated matter-of-factly. “Don’t ask me how I know that. Suffice to say that I am ‘the real deal’. I am clairvoyant: I can see your future. I can also see your past.”

This last line had Magnuss feeling nervous and vulnerable. “Can you see the time when I was walking home from school and I had a surreptitious tinkle in Missus Snook’s old air raid shelter?”

For a moment Nellie paused. “Aah, no.” She replied. “Thankfully not. But don’t prevaricate: this is absolutely important. I now know that your wife is also cut from heroic material. This is good. You will need her help.”

“He’s got it.” Hair-Trigger interrupted. “Always – no matter what. Even if he did urinate in Missus Snook’s old air raid shelter. By the way, I hope the smell didn’t linger, Magnuss. “

“I had a can of air freshener in my school satchel.” Magnuss replied. “It was like a security blanket for me. I eventually grew out of it.”

“Will you two shut up, for flip’s sake!” Nellie bellowed: “I’ve got something really important to tell you. But first a question: do you believe in pre-destination?”

Magnuss felt uncomfortable with the subject. If he said ‘yes’ it meant that he didn’t accept free will. If he said ‘no’ it suggested that he had a closed mind. “I’m not sure.” He said.

“Good.” Nellie responded unexpectedly. “Keep a firm grip upon your agnosticism: you’re going to need it. Here’s another question: have you ever heard of the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah?”

Both young earplugs pulled puzzled faces and shook their heads.

“Good.” Nellie surprised them again. “Because you, Magnuss, are going to discover them.”

“Ugh?” Magnuss and Hair-Trigger said in unison. Magnuss then added: “But what are the Lines of Tah-Di-Tah?”

At this Nellie merely shrugged her shoulders. “I’m a fortune teller.” She replied. ”Not the Fountain of Knowledge. I don’t know what they are; but you are going to find them. And – apparently – the continued existence of Tah-Di-Tah depends upon it. That’s it – on your way: now it’s all down to you.”

So it was a somewhat shell-shocked couple who exited the hovel through the back door…

“What are we gonna do?” They cried as one. Then Hair-Trigger added: “A whole world depends on what we do next.”

“I know.” Magnuss wailed. “Right now I wish we’d taken our honeymoon on Worstworld – just as its star goes nova. That wouldn’t have been half as bad as this. I don’t know what to do – and I don’t like not knowing what to do. It’s not in my DNA!”

So wrapped up in their worries were Magnuss and Hair-Trigger that they didn’t even notice the group of lost tourists walk by in the opposite direction…

So they wandered back in the direction of the Hotel Gilb…

…down some alleyways that were very dark indeed. And all Magnuss could think about was the joy he’d experienced when he discovered the Tankerville Norris’ futuristic urinal…

…which led to another thought.

“Hairy,” he said, “I think I’m getting an inkling of an idea. It has something to do with Bunk-Bunk Bunsen and his space ship plans. I don’t think it was an accident that the Scrotonites got their hands on them. I think they were supposed to!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

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