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.
The pot of tar was in the garden shed. Bert gathered six cushions from around the lounge and set his plan in action. A low flame under the pot soon had the tar warm and runny. After swapping his boxer shorts for a pair of skin-tight underpants, he pasted the gummy mass over his bare skin. He moved slow, wet tar.
Since he’d have to trudge about all day on security duty over at The Cloud Estate, the next part of his plan was genius. He tore the cushions apart and daubed the feathers over every inch of his tarred body. The feathers would not only camouflage him, they’d also keep him warm.
Bert kept patting handfuls of down—everywhere including eyelids and ears—until no more would stick. Finished, he spat a few feathers from his mouth, stood back to look at himself in an old cracked mirror, and wondered what the heck he’d done. Now that he resembled a giant fluffy slug, how could he find the courage to show himself to the world?
But then again, thought Bert, nobody will recognise me, which is the whole point. Later, at the masquerade party, Olive will never guess it’s me. He inched the shed door open a crack and peered out. His two Alsatians sniffed at him and growled. Not surprising, thought Bert. I smell like a new-laid road. “Take it easy, Chums. It’s only me.” But the dogs remained suspicious and kept their distance.
Seeing nobody was about, Bert made a dash for The Cloud Estate. He bounded between trees along a faint path until he reached a solid steel door in a high stone-built wall. There he tapped his security code into the lock, stepped inside, and sighed a breath of relief: no one could see him within the estate’s private boundaries.
This ain’t so bad, thought Bert, admiring his thick layer of tar and cushion feathers. Better still, by the evening’s masquerade party, he’d have grown used to it. Shaky laughter bubbled in Bert’s throat; it might even be fun.
He drew a deep breath, almost choked on a feather, and thought he’d better keep his mouth shut. Breathing through his nose wasn't much better. The feathers tickled and he sneezed every few steps.
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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