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Professor Hallux and the Lalalas
Professor Hallux and the Lalalas
Professor Hallux and the Lalalas
Ebook202 pages3 hours

Professor Hallux and the Lalalas

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Grumpy little aliens called Lalalas have waged war on humans!

They're sucking the fun and energy out of everything and the Earth is slowing down... Can anyone stop them before everything grinds to a halt? This is a job for the professionals!

Unfortunately, the professionals were busy so it's down to maverick scientific experimentalists Professor Hallux and Nanobot to save the day.

What follows is a roller coaster ride smashing through science - and some of it is even real science!

From the rain forests of Madagascar to the South Pole, including comet-hopping, and atom-smashing in the heart of a nuclear reactor, all with a smattering of space glue and ukuleles, you won't want to miss Hallux and Nanobot in their first full-length adventure.

Release dateMay 22, 2017
Professor Hallux and the Lalalas
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Nicky Tate

Nicky Tate writes educational radio features for the national children’s radio station Fun Kids, and she’s also written scripts for well-known children’s characters such as Dennis and Gnasher, and the Bin Weevils. She enjoys writing for the screen, with her latest action thriller feature optioned in 2016 (co-written with Andy Conway – andyconway.net). Her novel manuscript The Challah Tin was shortlisted for the Impress Prize in 2013. Nicky lives in Smethwick with her family and some cats. She is obsessed with plot twists and loves a good fry-up. These two interests rarely overlap. Find out more at nickytate.co.uk or follow Nicky on Twitter @nickytatewrites

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    Professor Hallux and the Lalalas - Nicky Tate


    Megan was also late. She was late for her dance class. Oliver may have been nuts about space but Megan was absolutely loopy about dancing. She had been going to ballet lessons since she was two years old. She was eleven now and if anyone could dance, Megan could.

    She had no less than three different classes every week. Monday was ballet. She liked ballet because it was nice to practice and practice to get the moves right. When she was a tiny toddler it had taken her a month to get the five positions of the feet absolutely spot on. The other kids in the class seemed happy to get it mostly right and consider it a job done but Megan liked to get things perfect. Absolutely perfect.

    There’s a word for people like you, her brother Charlie said, fairly frequently.

    What, perfectionist? smiled Megan, sweetly.

    No, the word is annoying, he said pulling a face. You’re an annoying little gimp." This normally made Megan shriek with laughter as she chased him, kicking at his bum as he ran away.

    Tuesday was tap and she did street dancing on a Thursday. She loved this class the most. It was run by a woman called Caroline but they all called her Caz. Caz had blonde hair that was straight but she always ran little plaits through it. She had been a gymnast and could do a series of back flips if she had warmed up. She wore shiny tracksuit bottoms and pink crop tops which looked really cool. The music was loud and funky and after they’d learned a routine or practiced some moves Megan felt on top of the world.

    It was for this class that Megan was late. She pulled out her mobile phone to check the time. It was nearly four o’ clock – this made her growl in annoyance. If the stupid fat kid hadn’t given that talk about that boring rocket to Mars she’d be on time. There was only half an hour between the end of school and the start of her class and he’d eaten up ten precious minutes going blah blah blah.

    She was getting close to the church hall and so dropped to a walk. All the dancing had made her fit and she wasn’t proper knackered or anything, just a bit hot and needed to swig from her bottle of water. Dancers drank a lot of water, better for you than pop; and you had to eat healthily too so you could have as much energy as possible.

    The wind was getting cold. Megan slung her drink back in the bag, checked the time on her phone again and grimaced – less than five minutes to go. She would be a little late. Whilst walking as briskly as she could she grabbed her hoodie sleeves and pulled her hands inside. It was really freezing. And that wind was whistling like anything, although it sounded more like singing? Like a thousand tiny creatures screeching at the top of voices, and not very tunefully either. Lalalala! It really was the weirdest sound. The wind, now positively icy, twisted around Megan from her toes to her head, and then in an instant the wind and the voices had gone.

    Megan exhaled. That was weird. Wow, and she was tired after that run, not to mention cold what with that wind. There was a chip shop a little way along the road. A portion of chips might warm her up she thought. She could use that fiver she was going to use for the dance class. For some inexplicable reason she had suddenly decided not to bother going. It seemed like too much fuss. She’d have some chips and then go home.


    Jas quite enjoyed Oliver’s talk on space. He could tell that Oliver didn’t really want to be standing there talking about the rocket launch when he could be getting home to watch it. Oliver had talked at 100 miles an hour, summarising one of the most momentous events of the century in about seven and a half minutes, all the time anxiously looking at the clock. Mr Spencer was really really dense to have asked him to do it. Knowing Mr Spencer he was probably doing it on purpose to make Oliver sad. He wasn’t a very nice teacher.

    Jas laughed to himself at the thought of Oliver almost jiggling on the spot to get it over with before running out the door, with that girl Megan right behind him, she was always in a hurry. Jas wasn’t running anywhere – just footling around on his skateboard in the adventure playground. He was waiting for his cousin Dav. Dav had a skateboard and a BMX and they were going to work on some tricks. The adventure playground had a wicked set of skateboard ramps and Dav could fling himself in some breath-taking arcs off all of them – intentionally of course. He could ramp the speed on the skateboard so fast that he could flick it onto the edge of the railings, or turn it through a full circle under his feet. When he did his moves all the kids in the playground gathered round, clapping and cheering. If he did it in town some of the grownups moaned about him getting in the way but you could tell even they were impressed. He knew because he saw them look backwards, kind of wistful. Jas fancied a bit of all that.

    The only thing that got under Jas’s feet was their pet dog Stinky. Stinky had come along too to the park, or rather he’d been dragged. He was a fat brown Labrador and a lazy one at that, ambling into rooms and just standing there as if he’d forgotten what he’d come in for. He always seemed out of breath and his breath always stank. But everyone loved Stinky. Stinky was under the shade of the beech trees that circled the paths. He looked mournfully at Jas as if to say can we go home now? Jas was attempting to flick his skateboard under his feet without breaking his ankle and hadn’t noticed Stinky. Once the sweating pup had realized he was being ignored he gave a loud doggy sigh and returned to a bilious snooze.

    Jas checked his mobile for the time – nearly four o’ clock. Come on Dav, he urged, he wanted to crack on because his mum did tea at five and so they would only have an hour as it was. Jas was never allowed out after tea. He wasn’t allowed out much at all – that’s why he wanted Dav to hurry up.

    It was cold too; he needed to get moving. He zipped his top and pulled up his hood. There was a rustling and whistling as the air whipped past, and then a babbling noise from far away, just on the edge of hearing as if a hoard of insects or mice were shrieking – lalalala! It seemed to get louder – LA LA LA LA!

    When Jas’s cousin Dav turned up – just five minutes later, Jas had already gone home.

    Party Poopers & Space Glue

    Come here you little git... Dang I’ve lost it again... Right GOT you.

    The Professor was leaning over a microscope, holding what looked like an enormous pair of barbecue tongs. He was wrestling to hold something in the pincery ends, and largely failing. His magnifying eye-patch kept slipping off. His hair was in his eyes. This was all very annoying; he just didn’t have enough hands.

    Nanobot... NANOBOT! Give us a hand! I can’t see the test tube – let alone the blithering thing!

    Nanobot glided smoothly over and with a flurry of fingers tied back the Professor’s hair into two plaits, re-seated his eye-patch and from some-where produced a flowery flannel to mop his brow.

    Thanks. OK, NOW I’ve got you.

    There was a tiny squeal from the direction of the microscope. The Professor’s Atom Clenchers had fixed upon something small and wriggly under the microscope.

    Oh. Eurgh. Oh yuck. It’s a nasty one.

    Can you put it on screen Professor?

    "The Professor carefully reached to one side, brushed a pile of papers off the computer, clicked some buttons and a giant monitor sprang into life.

    On it, a very small, very red creature appeared, magnified many millions of times. It looked a bit like a little fat cube with a grumpy face. It had no legs but tiny stringy arms and hands that it was attempting to get over its earholes. Long pointy wings fluttered snappily on its back. The cube’s grumpiness was enhanced because its cheeks had been clamped between the Atom Clenchers and it did not look happy at this state of affairs. It was clearly making an absolute racket that could just about be heard.

    What’s it trying to say? asked Nanobot, I’ve run through all the known languages in my database and it isn’t anything I’ve ever heard before.

    It’s not saying anything at all. It’s saying La La La. This, Nanobot is called a Lalala funnily enough. Right, pass the micro jam jar, I’ve had enough of this bloody racket.

    No problem Prof.

    And Nanobot?

    Yes Professor?

    Why am I wearing plaits?

    With the Lalala safely, (if not happily) penned within the micro jam jar, the Professor began to review the video of the creature.

    I can’t believe you haven’t seen one of these little fellas before, Nanobot – they’re fairly common, or they are in winter.

    He zoomed in on the cranky little red face.

    Lalalas are tiddly tiny creatures, smaller than cells or bacteria, smaller than atoms even. They come from somewhere in space and anyone who knows about them heartily wishes they’d go back home.

    Ah, the poor little, uh cubey guy, said Nanobot. She did at least try to be nice about people, until they did something seriously irritating like get different types of algae mixed up.

    They’re not nice. They are the party poopers of the universe. What makes them happy is sucking the fun out of stuff. They normally pick on people who are excited and happy and enthusiastic about something.

    I get like that with classifying fungal spores said Nanobot.

    Yes, I had noticed, the Professor glanced at the lines of mushrooms with labels on the far wall. Well y’know that nice zingy feeling you get when you’re doing something interesting or fun? It radiates out of you, did you know that? It radiates out of anyone who’s really enjoying what they’re doing. The Lalalas fly around in packs of zillions and slurp it up from you until you just can’t be bothered any more. And then they’re happy. Well as happy as a grumpy red cube with wings can be.

    So they’ve always been around then? Nanobot cocked her head, scrolling through her memory banks, I must have been having a robot doze when that bit of information was processed.

    Oh yes, I can’t believe you haven’t heard of them before! Normally they’re a bit annoying, responsible for making us feel a bit flat and bored even about things we like doing. But for some reason this year the Lalalas are almost waging war on human beings. Any tiny speck of energy or enthusiasm they sense, anything a little bit exciting and they’re swooping down, slurping it up and flapping off. And I have no idea why. No one does.

    So why are they called Lalalas again?"

    Well you might have seen on the screen, this little dude was trying to get his hands over his ears. They cover their ears all the time and shout Lalala! as loudly as they can so they can’t hear anything else. Interesting information? They don’t want to know. Fun facts? Forget it! Exciting exploits – entirely unbothered! They hate anything fun. They don’t want to hear it, and they want to slurp the fun out so no one else can be bothered to hear it either. I told you they were miserable little gits.

    As if to prove a point a dull whinge emanated from the jam jar. To the naked eye the jar was empty.

    Yes, you, chum, and all your little mates are making a load of people miserable, said the Professor who was tapping on the jar. Nanobot whirred over to peer in.

    Oh you won’t see him – he’s smaller than an atom, and they can move faster than a dog with a stolen sausage normally. They’re very tricky to find and even harder to capture. I managed to suck this one up with my Micro Vac bellows – they’re powerful enough to grab shed loads of these troublesome little oiks... and I’ve gripped him in my Atom Clenchers... and look, I’ve reinforced the jar with Space Glue; it’s something I’m trying out.

    Space Glue? SPACE glue? Nanobot raised her robot eyebrows at this.

    Look, it’s just a handy name for it – you want the real name?

    Of course – it’s all about the facts with me Professor, you should know that.

    OK it’s chemical name is Methu-tami-nylar-gion-2-liso-leuci-nethyl-threo-nylthreo-naggynoggy-nol-nol.

    Space Glue it is then.

    So do you plan to capture them all then?

    Well we might have to Nanobot, because someone has to. They’ve never shown up in such huge quantities before. Normally there might be a few dozen floating around a street and if you walk through them they’d make you feel a bit bleh and a bit bored. In the last ten years I’ve probably heard of two big swarms. But now look at this...

    He pushed a magazine towards her.

    ...the Subversive Science Express reports that no less than five hundred storms of Lalalas have been detected all over the UK in the last WEEK, they’re picking on kids mainly, by the look of it.

    Nanobot whirred backwards on her wheels. Ewww! Creepy! And you can’t even see them!

    It’s worse than just being creepy Nanobot. If all those Lalalas are sucking the life out of everyone... will anyone bother getting up in the morning?

    Nanobot made a worried whir – it was a very troubling thought.

    The City Slows Down

    Oliver’s mum was certainly worried. Oliver had been so excited about the Mars launch and now one week on he’d been in his room most evenings, staring at the telly watching cartoons or playing his computer games. It wasn’t as if he was ill or groggy or anything, he had just... well, kind of lost his spark.

    She padded up the stairs to tap on his bedroom door.

    Oliver, do you want to come into town with me, I’ve got to get some shopping in, and we can see if that book’s arrived at the bookshop? You haven’t picked up your magazines either. Mr Leekie will have a backlog by now.

    Nah, I’ll just stay here, bit busy.

    Oliver’s mum pushed the door open a bit and could see Oliver wasn’t busy in the slightest, unless taking a bit of a nap was getting busy. She rolled her eyes and left him to it. She had begun to feel a little low on energy herself. In fact,

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