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 knew where Wittree lived, and it wasn’t far away. He’d need to drive off the Cloud Estate, head to the nearest town, Chiswick, park a short distance from his rival’s garden, and creep the last few meters under the cover of darkness.
His pickup rumbled into life, and he backed out of the garage. Not wanting to draw attention, he drove through the dark with only his parking lights on and kept his speed down to a crawl. He yawned and squeezed his eyes shut a couple of times. If he couldn’t sleep, he’d sabotage Wittree’s pumpkin to pass the time.
With the Cloud Mansion out of sight behind a bend, and the estate’s pebble road crunching softly beneath his tires, Morris traveled even slower. Dark trees crowded him on both sides, and their coming and going in the somber light had a delightful, mesmerizing effect.
His chin dropped to his chest, and the car seat cradled him in sumptuous comfort. As he breathed in, it occurred to him that Sibyl’s sleeping potion had finally worked; as he breathed out, he forgot he was riding in his pickup. Nothing mattered now: sweet sleep crept over him and all other sensations floated away into oblivion.
The same morning as Morris fell asleep while driving his pickup, Alf was halfway through his night shift. No trespassers or potential thieves had tried to break into the Cloud Estate during the night, and as a security guard, it was his job to keep it that way. He missed his old mate, Bert. A few months ago, they worked together and kept each other company. Now he only had Crusher, a squat but robust robot that served as an excellent partner. Except, unfortunately, that it couldn’t speak. And anyway, what did robots talk about, quantum physics?
The Cloud Estate’s young masters had adapted a titanium plate in Alf’s brow, allowing him to order Crusher about by brainwaves. It also enabled him to use his third eye to see in the dark, even through obstacles. Trespassers didn’t stand a chance these days. Nobody could move about on the estate without him seeing. As a typical example, from a far-off distance, he’d seen Morris back out of his garage and drive away in his pickup.
It was odd that Morris was in his car late at night. Strange also that he only drove with sidelights and inched along at a walking pace. The oddest event, however, was when his automobile veered off the road, collided with a tree, and stalled.
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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