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.
In the hazy moonlight, the black form lying in a puddle beneath one of Ye Olde Inn’s windows resembled a giant slug. Morris took a low stance and drew his rifle back, ready to drive its bayonet in for the kill. The lights blinked on, revealing the slug had limbs.
Morris hesitated, and as he did, Alf wrenched the rifle from his hands. “It’s Bert,” he said, sinking to his knees beside his friend.
An oil sheikh detached from the crowd and knelt next to Alf. “I’m a doctor, help me turn him onto his side.”
Because of his size, no two ordinary men could move him. But Alf was no normal man. Alf was England’s reigning bare-knuckle street fighter, a giant among men. He and Bert spared and wrestled almost every day.
“Lightning has struck him,” said the doctor. “His rubber boots saved his life.” He held Bert’s eyelids open and studied his pupils, then counted his pulse from a vein in his neck.
“The man has a strong heart, and his breathing is fine.” He fished a cell phone into view and stabbed the screen. “We’ll get him into hospital. He’s suffered major burns; the lightning blistered the outer layer of his skin to a crisp. Let’s just hope there’s no damage to his brain.”
Bert groaned. The last he remembered was looking through a window into a masquerade party at Ye Olde Inn, spying on his fiancé, Olive. Dressed as Tinkerbell, she was flirting with Robin Hood, confirming his suspicion that she was cheating on him. God knows what happened then. Somebody must have clobbered him from behind with a steamroller.
“Don’t move,” he thought he heard someone say, but couldn’t be sure because his ears fizzed so loud. “There’s been an accident, but you’ll be fine. Can you count how many fingers I’m holding up?”
“I’m only holding up one hand.”
“I can see three.”
Somebody else spoke. “Bert, Bert, are you alright?”
He recognised Olive’s voice and his senses popped into focus. “I am now you’re here. What happened?” He realized he was lying in a puddle with a crowd of people surrounding him. In the distance, he picked up the wail of a police car. “I ain’t done nothing wrong,” he croaked. “Have I, Alf?”
“Take it easy, Bert,” he heard his best friend say. “It’s an ambulance. They’ll get you cleaned up and back on your feet.”
“Not likely. The last I understood, we don’t trust those doctors. Do we, Alf?”
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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