Bert felt jealous, cheated on, and blue. Then he discovered he could morph into a giant nightmarish slug...
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Life in the Clouds #6: Take a Slug ® James Field.
Bert’s shift at The Cloud Mansion was finished. Alf should have taken over at 10 p.m., but Bert knew he wouldn’t arrive until after midnight. Alf was at the masquerade party over at The Stables, dressed as Batman. Bert suspected Alf would’ve liked to take his little robot, Crusher, with him, done up as Robin; but the young Cloud Masters didn't allow the robot to leave the estate. At least Crusher would be here to perform security duties.
Bert’s two Alsatians had finally accepted that beneath his coating of tar and feathers that he really was Bert, the Alpha of the pack. The dogs found their way easily in the dark, showing Bert the way.
The weather had changed. A storm was brewing and Bert hurried past the mansion and along the narrow wooded path that led to the gate in the perimeter wall: the quickest way into The Stables. Darkness shrouded the clouds, but the wind had risen and spots of heavy rain cascaded through the tree canopy. In the distance, he could hear the rumble of thunder and see the bright flashes of lightning.
The wet would make him look slimy. He just hoped his appearance wouldn’t terrify anyone at the masquerade party; but then again, who knows, perhaps his disguise would win first prize?
Bert stood outside Ye Olde Inn’s entrance door in his slug disguise and listened to the slow dance music within. His muscles quivered and twitched, not only because the weather had turned cold, but also because he didn’t want to frighten anyone. Already, those who had seen him today had tried to exterminate him.
Try as he may, he couldn’t find the courage to enter. The storm was close now. It poured with rain, and his coating of feathers stuck to him in a mush. Rather than go in and have everyone laugh at him or scream in terror, he squelched to a side window and peeked inside.
He cocked his eyebrow in surprise and pressed his nose against the glass, leaving a tacky, black smudge. He’d never seen such a whimsical gathering: Alf was there, tall, muscles bulging in his Batman suit; Morris dressed as a tin soldier, bayoneted rifle strapped to his back; Chief Inspector Dobbs, dressed as Sherlock Holmes; The Stable’s owner, Styles, dressed as a jockey. There were pirates, sheiks, princesses, minstrels, two popes, three nuns, gypsies, clowns, and queens, and all Bert could do was gape.
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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