Bert felt jealous, cheated on, and blue. Then he discovered he could morph into a giant nightmarish slug...
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On Wednesdays and Sundays I’m blogging nibble-sized chunks of new ‘Life in the Clouds’ novellas. You can check in regularly and read them bit for bit, or leave a message in my 'contact' page, and I'll send the entire digital story to you for free when published.
Life in the Clouds #6: Take a Slug ® James Field.
Morris’s heart thudded in his ear like a kettledrum. The kitchen had its own spooky life. He shivered from the cold and his unsettled nerves. With every hair on the nape of his neck urging him to escape, he dashed back to the bedroom, leaving the kitchen and hall lights blazing, and dived into bed.
He tugged the bedsheets over his face; they were still deliciously warm. But now, panting for breath from his toil, he was more awake than before he’d crouched to the kitchen for a slug of Sibyl’s sleeping potion.
He closed his eyes and tried to calm his mind. Two affairs bothered him: one was the masquerade party over at Ye Olde Inn later that evening. He couldn’t decide whether to dress as a giant carrot or a giant turnip. Sibyl couldn’t help him choose, because she didn’t approve of such nonsense and wouldn’t be going. She went nowhere, saying she prefers the company of the mansion’s ghosts.
Mostly though, his mind was on the up-and-coming horticultural competition. His biggest pumpkin was so large he couldn’t reach his arms around it, but he’d heard rumours of another gigantic example over at the Wittree’s house. For the last two years, Morris had won. Three years in a row would be a new record.
But, alas, sleep was nowhere in sight, and lying in bed was torture. Time to give up. When he peered at his alarm clock, he saw that it was 4 a.m. Unable to sleep, Morris climbed out of the four-poster bed and dressed. With sleep so damn impossible, he knew exactly how to exploit the time—by sneaking over to the Wittree house and sabotaging the man's pumpkin.
Wittree couldn’t sneak a peek at Morris's garden on the hermetically sealed Cloud Estate, but nothing was stopping him from spying on his competitor. What better time than now to snoop. And if he found a pumpkin bigger than his, he’d soon put pay to it.
Careful not to wake Sibyl, Morris tiptoed from the room, thanked himself for leaving the hall lights on, and made his way to the potting shed. There, he collected his binoculars and a jar of slimy black slugs. They were disgusting creatures: fat as his thumbs, squiggly, and covered in mangy fluff. He’d fostered them himself: they adored the soft pulpy flesh of pumpkin and were especially aggressive, able to munch through a pumpkin’s tough skin.
By throwing a few of them into his rival’s garden, his pumpkins would deflate like overstretched bubble gum. God forbid any of the slugs should find their way into his own garden, though; that really would be a nightmare.
To be continued
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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
There’s a lot to like and a lot to dislike in this story. I like that it’s cosy, funny, and heart-warming. The plot, however, is a tragedy. There are two murders, and every character in the book, of which there are many, has a motif. With so many twists, turns, and red herrings throughout the narrative, it lost me in a virtual maze.
But the author commits the gravest crime: he introduces a new, guilty character right at the end of the story. Tut, tut, naughty.
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