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.
There was nothing else for it. Bert wheeled around, ran, and headed for the lake, choking and wheezing as he went. Not built for speed, he crashed through the undergrowth like a stampeding elephant with Crusher steadily growing closer. An undersized dinghy rested on the lake’s bank, half in and half out of the water. With Crusher almost close enough to grab his shoulder, Bert dived into the boat. His momentum sent it surging across the still water, like a speedboat at full throttle. He knew Crusher wouldn’t follow; the robot could neither float nor swim.
Sure enough, Crusher skidded to a halt at the lake’s edge, and Bert’s two Alsatians stopped there too, all three of them standing rigid and facing him.
The dinghy soon drifted to a wallowing stop, and although Bert’s bare feet bled worse than ever, he breathed a sigh of relief. He couldn’t understand what the heck was going on. Why all the commotion about him tarring and feathering himself?
After waiting for what seemed ages, he realised Sibyl and Alf weren’t coming down to the lake. He also realised the boat had no oars or sail, so he couldn’t return to land without paddling with his hands. So he sat there, with a down-turned mouth, and rested his head in his fists. Some time or another, somebody would come to rescue him.
Sibyl dashed to Morris’s pickup and thumped her hand on its roof. “Morris, stop screaming. You’re safe now.”
Morris let his head fall back against his headrest and pressed his palms to his eyes. A slow smile spread across his face and he locked eyes with Sibyl. “My God, woman, what did you put in that sleeping potion? You won’t believe the nightmare I’ve just had.”
“Not a nightmare,” said Alf, peeking through the passenger’s side window. “That ugly great slug is as real as us. You better hurry out before it comes back.”
Not wasting a moment, Morris fumbled with latches around the pickup’s back window and clambered out onto the flatbed. After climbing to the ground, he steadied himself with one hand and shook his head. “How did I get here?”
“The giant slug dragged you here,” said Alf, face as sober as a preacher’s. “We both saw it, didn’t we, Sibyl?”
“We certainly did.”
“It’ll take a bit of pest control to rid us of that blighter,” said Morris.
“See here,” said Sibyl, dropping to one knee. “A speck of its blood on this leaf, and bits of what look like feathers. I can make a powerful incantation with them.” She turned her face to the sky and shook a fist. “You boys want to see Pest Control? I’ll show you Pest Control all right. Come on, let’s hurry back to my kitchen. I have work to do.”
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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