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.
Bert lifted each foot in turn to study his bloodied and bruised soles. He cursed himself for not wearing his boots. Prancing around in his underpants and a thin coating of tar and feathers was silly enough; it was stupid to go barefoot. What was he thinking? His duties as a security guard meant he had to trudge the Cloud Estate’s boundary walls. He couldn't do that until he found footwear. But he knew he had a pair of old rubber wellies at the gatehouse where his mate Alf lived. After he’d freed Morris, he’d make his way there to collect them.
First, though, came the problem of freeing Morris and his pickup from their prison of tree trunks. Bert grimaced and shook his head. He needed a crane and chainsaw. He dabbed at his sides, searching for pockets that weren’t there. With a snort of frustration, he tugged at his ear and bit his lip: not only had he forgotten to wear boots, but he’d also left his phone and knife at home.
Morris, who had taken an overdose of Sibyl’s potent sleeping draught, jerked awake, perspiration flooding down his face. Sibyl had warned him he might have nightmares, and he’d dreamt of man-eating slugs, seven feet tall, and pumpkins as big as houses, chasing him. He stretched, yawned, scorned himself for being childish, and tried to turn over on his side. But straps across his chest and waist held him back, and in a flash he recollected where he was.
He’d planned to make a night call on Wittree’s garden and ruin his giant pumpkin with a handful of slugs. But he’d fallen asleep in his pickup and driven off the road. Had he crashed? Was he dead?
His mouth slackened as his mind replayed the moment he fell asleep at the wheel. He’d rolled along at a snail’s pace and headed for the impenetrable forest border. Surely he couldn’t be far from the road?
It seemed he was. He whipped his head around, eyes bulging, but could see nothing but woodland. Trees crammed his pickup on all sides. With shaking fingers, he fumbled to release his seat belt. When he tried to open the doors, neither would budge more than a crack, and the tight-packed trunks prevented him from manoeuvring out.
Morris closed his eyes. Was he still asleep, in the middle of a nightmare like Sibyl had warned? Something thumped against his pickup and his eyes burst open. Two beady pupils gawked in at him through the door window, mere inches from his face, and the pupils belonged to a giant, fluffy slug.
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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