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.
A deathly hush fell over the masquerade party at Ye Olde Inn. The only sound was the torrential downpour of rain, clattering like a roll of drums pronouncing the onslaught of doom. The massive creature staring at them through a window burst into flames and howled like a visitor from hell—and then it slithered out of sight. Everybody held their breath, senses fine-tuned, ready to run at the next sign of danger.
A simultaneous flash of lightning and clap of thunder shook the building so hard that plaster dropped from the walls and a chandelier crashed to the floor. Women screamed and men cried out. In wild panic, everyone stormed for the nearest exit, tearing their masks off as they ran.
Outside, they grouped on the pebble road in front of Ye Olde Inn. They glanced at one another, amazed the rain had stopped and a friendly moon peeked at them from behind a bank of receding clouds.
Nobody moved or spoke, but the same question reflected on all their faces: what in God’s name had just happened?
Morris stepped from the crowd, stood at attention in his tin soldier uniform, and cleared his throat. “Is there an electrician here?”
A teddy bear raised his paw.
“Right, change the fuses and get the electricity working again.” As soon as the bear lumbered away, Morris addressed the crowd again. “Alf, Dobbs, Styles, come with me to see what that monster is. I had dealings with it earlier today, and it’s extremely dangerous. The rest of you wait here until we make sure it’s dead.”
“I’m Chief Inspector,” said Dobbs, “and I’ll take charge here.” He strode with long steps, stood slightly in front of Morris, and hooked his thumbs in his waistcoat. “Alf, Styles, and you, Morris, come with me. The rest of you wait until we get back.”
The four of them marched towards Bert’s prostrate form, lying belly down in a huge puddle. Morris and Dobbs walked side by side, each trying to take the lead. Alf and Styles stayed close on their heels, and the rest of the crowd followed a few paces behind. As they drew close, Morris slid his rifle from his back and pointed the bayonet at Bert.
“Have you got a warrant for that?” asked Chief Inspector Dobbs.
“It’s not real,” said Morris, pushing ahead. “But the bayonet is genuine enough, as that creature is about to find out when I stick it in.”
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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