The Adventures of Earwin Earwax

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The rain pattered ominously on the rooftops. In fact, it didn't patter so much as stomp around like a ten ton dormouse. It was serious rain, and it wasn't going to mess about, it was going to get it's message across loud and clear. If ever there was rain that intimated the end of the world, this was it.

A dark figure hurried through the atmosphere of impending doom. It came to a door and knocked tentatively. A shaft of light spread cautiously out onto the cobbled street.

"It's you. You're late."
"Sorry. It's not the end of the world is it?"
"No, I suppose not. Come in."

The door creaked shut and . . . the world ended. It wasn't particularly impressive, no blinding flashes of light or anything. One second the world was there, the next it wasn't. It simply blinked out of existence. The universe opened a weary eye, adjusted a few orbits to compensate for the sudden change in the gravitational field in that area, and went back to sleep.

Good job this has nothing to do with the rest of the story, really.

In another part of the universe a spaceship shot through the inky blackness as if it were running from the hounds of hell. It was closely followed by several vaguely hound shaped things which weren't, in fact, from hell, but somewhere much worse. Scumbags from the depths of time, offspring of unholy unions or, to give them their full title, Tax Collectors for His Highness the Galactic Emperor. Call them what you will, they at least had a purpose in life. Currently that purpose involved capturing their fleeing prey and sticking some very hot, very pointed things in some very sensitive areas.

Erwin Earwax had entirely different ideas about what he'd like poked in his sensitive areas. He calmly pressed a button on his control panel and a dirty great hole was ripped in the fabric of space and time. Erwin's spacecraft shot through the gaping rip moments before total reality reasserted itself and the Tax Collectors from hell were left chasing thin air, or, more accurately, partial vacuum.

Erwin Earwax, space pirate extraordinaire, had overcome the great handicap of his rather silly name to become renowned and feared throughout the galaxy. His name was indelibly printed in the history books of many worlds, he just wished it wasn't such a silly name. But, he couldn't change it now, after all, he'd promised his mother. "Make people respect the name of Earwax," she'd said.

Erwin laid back to relax, he stared for a moment into the ebony blackness of anti-space and then switched on the Inter-dimensional 3D. Adverts. Erwin started to doze. Anti-space is a convenient parallel universe in which everything is not relative to the speed of light, its all relative to something an awful lot quicker. This means that one can travel at speeds faster than the speed of light without suffering the normal side effects, like becoming very heavy indeed and then dying a tenth of a second later. Other nice topological effects allow you to get to any point in the universe without actually having to pass through all the points in between. Anti-space is also impossibly huge in relation to the amount of matter it contains and therefore the probability of meeting another traveller, or being found by some particularly diligent tax collectors, was about the same as that of a greyhound winning a Grand National. It was for this reason that Erwin was mildly surprised to find himself careering at several hundred times the speed of light into a damned huge planet. Fortunately, spaceships designed to travel at 670 times the speed of light have very good brakes, and the planet only suffered minor damage.

If you were wondering, yes, it is the same planet. I was lying earlier on.

Erwin sat firmly strapped to his seat waiting for the world to stop spinning around his head. Then he tried really hard to stop his brain from rotating inside his skull and failed fairly conclusively. He fumbled with the release catch on his harness and promptly plunged 50 ft before hitting the ground face first. Later in life Erwin would remember that a landing in which the nose of his spacecraft was buried in indigenous rock was not a good one.

Erwin's brain was now performing some complicated manoeuvres which involved spinning very rapidly and bouncing up and down. His stomach was beginning to get the idea and was competing hard with some advanced gymnastics of its own. At least he knew he was alive.

It was night time. It was also getting cold. This was understandable since the nearest star was in an entirely different set of dimensions.

© Robert Crowther