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.
“Oh my God,” screeched Sibyl, hands clamping her cheeks. “The slug has already eaten Bert, and now it’s trying to get Morris.” She swung the mace, smacked the shaft against her palm, and prodded Alf between his shoulder blades. “Either do something or get out of my way!”
Alf was just as shocked as Sibyl. The nonsense about a giant slug carrying Morris away in his pickup truck and trapping him in the forest had been a prank. To actually see a giant slug, covered in scraggy down, made him wonder if his brain had done a dirty on him. If Sibyl hadn’t seen it too, he would’ve run home and stayed there till the young masters checked his bonce.
But Alf didn’t frighten easily. He spread his legs and wrinkled his battered nose as if he smelled something fishy. With his eyes closed, he focused his third eye on the slug and almost exploded with laughter. To cover his mirth, he clamped a hand over his mouth and turned the laugh into a choking cough. The giant slug was none other than his mate, Bert. Why he’d tarred and feathered himself he couldn’t imagine, but for the moment it didn’t matter. It just made his prank even more convincing and fun.
“Stand back, Sibyl,” he ordered, and spread his arms. “Leave this to me and Crusher. We’ll soon rid us of that ugly monster.”
Inside his pickup truck, Morris continued to scream. It didn’t surprise Bert that he threw a wobbly. Who wouldn't when faced with a giant, slimy, slug? Adorned in nothing but his underpants and a coating of tar and feathers, he realised what a daunting sight he made. Unsure how he should handle the situation, Bert clamped his hands over his ears and backed away from the pickup.
Even Bert’s Alsatians didn’t like the look and smell of him anymore and snapped at his heels. To make matters worse, he caught sight of Alf and Sibyl between the trees, staring at him with fear and murder in their eyes.
Then he saw Crusher running towards him, its robot arms stretched out front, reaching for him. Strong as Bert was, he knew he was no match for the tough little robot, who could tie a knot in a one-inch thick rod of metal. Bert opened his jaws to shout a warning, to let them know it was only him, dressed for the evening’s masquerade. But a feather flew into his mouth and tickled his throat, and the only sound he made was a high-pitched whine and a barking choke.
To be continued…
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Like to know more about Alf, Bert and the rest of the gang? You can read their chaotic history in What on Earth.
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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