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.
Alf bounced on his feet and set off towards Morris at a fast jog. Ten minutes later, he reached Morris’s pickup and tapped on the window. “Are you all right in there?” he called. When Morris didn’t answer, Alf opened the door and shook Morris’s shoulder. The estate’s gardener didn’t so much as lift a finger, but snored away blissfully. Alf sniffed and almost gagged; he didn’t smell alcohol as suspected, but an overpowering fume of festering garlic. Must have eaten a whole bunch of them, he thought.
Then he noticed a pair of binoculars and a glass jar full of slimy black slugs on the passenger seat and guessed Sibyl had sent him out to collect ingredients for her brews and potions. Alf held his breath, reached across Morris’s lap, and set the pickup in neutral gear. As he did so, Morris murmured in his sleep, something about deadly slugs invading the world.
Alf rubbed his hands together and chuckled—time for some fun. He doubted Morris would remember exactly where he’d fallen asleep at the wheel. What would he think if he awoke in the forest, miles from the road? This was too good an opportunity to miss, another chance to humiliate the toffee-nosed Morris and tease him with it at the masquerade party later that evening.
Morris’s pickup weighed a ton, but Alf reckoned his little robot friend, Crusher, could lift it with ease. Alf sent a mental command, and the robot dragged the pickup away from the tree it had bumped into. Then Alf commanded Crusher to the car’s front. The robot bent down to grab the car’s bumper and lifted. Its hydraulics whined under the strain, and the bumpers creaked, but the pickup’s front end rose smoothly into the air.
“Right then, Crusher, me old buddy,” said Alf. “Follow me.”
Just as the sun drove away the night’s darkness, Alf strode off towards the Cloud Estate’s small lake. Crusher whirred and clonked behind him, dragging Morris in his pickup. The overgrown forest track was full of rocks and potholes, and shrubs and branches scratched against the pickup’s sides. When Alf glimpsed the lake, he left the trail and set off into the tight-packed trees.
Often, to navigate past boulders and trees, Crusher had to drop the car’s front end and lift the back end around. One hundred meters into the forest, Alf found the perfect spot. Crusher jiggled the car into place and positioned it tightly between tangles of solid tree trunks. Now Morris would find it impossible to open his doors or drive in either direction.
And still Morris slept on, seat belt holding him snug. He snored softly, unaware someone had trapped him in his car, miles from anywhere, with no way out.
To be continued
The real world:
Rather than miss an instalment, it’s easy to follow my blog on bloglovin’. They’ll give you a friendly nudge as I release new parts.
Like to know more about Alf, Bert and the rest of the gang? You can read their chaotic history in What on Earth.
Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay
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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.
View all my reviews