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All Our Tomorrows

For far too long I’ve been procrastinating about writing my own stories. The usual reason is that I’m too busy writing stuff for other people, and while this is somewhat true, it’s still just an excuse.

CompleteCover“Those reasons why you can’t are just excuses. There is always a way. No excuses, get it done.” Those words are mine, tweeted a few days ago. I think it’s time I started following my own advice for a change. So, though I’m not usually one for all the New Year’s resolutions malarkey, this year I have resolved to write a lot more for myself.

Those who know me know that I have been toying with the idea of releasing a short story collection, called Flotsam. It’s that which I’ll concentrate on, while also, from time to time, adding more words to A Negative Bind.

So, as a treat (I’m not sure “treat” is the correct word…), here’s the beginning of a short sci-fi/horror story which will be included in Flotsam.

All Our Tomorrows

Photo 31-08-2013 19 47 10We’re comin’ in too fast!” Benny wailed.

Well yeah, no shit, Sherlock. Why’d you think that would be then?” Cal surveyed the ruined console in front of him. Sparks spluttered in dark recesses – recesses where dials and readouts were supposed to be. Heading indicator, velocity readout, life support and system updates, fairly useful things like that. Acrid smoke drifted in the cockpit, redolent of burnt ozone and melted plasteel.

Benny clambered out of the navigator’s chair in the rear of the cabin, coughing in the smoky atmosphere, and made his way forward, finally dropping heavily into the co-pilot’s seat next to Cal.

Can’t you do summet, Cal? You’re the pilot, like, so can’t you do that flying shit you do?”

Cal grimaced and took a deep breath, immediately regretting it as a coughing fit followed. He looked over at Benny, wiping his streaming eyes as he did so.

No, Benny, I can’t do that flying shit that I do, ’cause we ain’t flying, we’re fuckin’ crashing.” His voice was calm, reasonable, but the look in Cal’s eyes revealed that all was not sweetness and light with the Captain at this particular moment in time. Benny flinched as Cal’s hand settled on his shoulder, squeezing it painfully.

And we’re crashing, Benny, ’cause we somehow managed to fly into a fuckin’ asteroid. Now, you’re the navigator, so why the fuck didn’t you do your navigating shit and navigate us around that fucker?”

Benny’s shoulder cracked audibly, and painfully, as the Captain’s hand squeezed harder still. Cal had paid a backstreet TechMech back on Khollos IV to replace the servo-motors in his worn out cybot arm with illegal Pluton powered ones, and he had revelled in showing off his mech aided strength ever since. At least he can’t blame me for losin’ his arm, Benny thought as he gritted his teeth against the pain. That was his own damn fool fault.

C’mon Cal, it weren’t my fault, I was busy…”

You were busy jerkin’ off to Cylerion porn, that’s what you were doing!” The spacecraft lurched alarmingly, and Cal released his grip. Benny gingerly rubbed his shoulder, convinced that something was broken. The lights clicked off, then back on again. A muted alarm began to wail somewhere behind them, and a soft, feminine voice politely advised them that they should evacuate the ship immediately. A single red light blinked on and off above their heads.

Shit!” Cal flicked a switch, flinching as it sparked and hissed, belching more smoke at him. “Double shit!”

Benny suddenly felt claustrophobic. The view screens were no longer working, damaged in the collision, and the cockpit now felt exceedingly small. He looked around fearfully, panic slowly slipping its icy tendrils into his stomach.

Cal? Captain? What…?”

Cal fixed him with a despairing look. “Mr. French, I believe that now would be a good time to make for the emergency pod. And then, maybe, pray.”

Benny didn’t need telling twice – he was out of his seat and on his way before the Captain had finished speaking.

* * * *

The two men sat on the ridge of a tall dune as the twin suns reached their zenith in the sky above. Cal surveyed the distant desert through the viewscope while Benny sipped tepid water from his aqua-pack. Three days had passed since their unexpected arrival on this world, their stricken cargo craft breaking up as it entered the atmosphere.

They had nearly roasted in the oven of their emergency pod as it too blazed a trail through the ozone. Gravity had taken over and they hurtled towards the ground, panic rising between them until, with a sudden jolt, the large ‘chute deployed, slowing their descent to a slightly less terrifying speed. Through the small view port the terrain below could be seen – sandy desert from horizon to horizon.

There’s definitely something there in the far distance,” Cal said, still looking through the viewscope. “I can’t quite make it out, it’s like a dirty smudge on the horizon.”

Not in a talkative frame of mind, Benny grunted by way of reply. Their relationship, strained at the best of times, had rapidly declined since the crash. He gingerly touched his left eye, wincing as his fingertips brushed over it. The swelling had started to reduce, but the pain lingered. He had escaped uninjured from the emergency pod, only to walk straight into Cal’s fist, with the full power of his cybot arm behind it. He was out before he’d hit the floor, and so missed Cal’s venomous tirade against him and second rate navigators in general.

Cal lowered the viewscope and looked at Benny. “A grunt? Is that all? Don’t you have anything useful to say?”

Benny took another sip, rinsed his mouth, and spat the water out, aware he was wasting precious fluid but not caring. “You can’t make it out, even with the viewscope. If you can’t see what it is, then what the hell am I supposed to say, Captain? I’ve only got me two eyes, and one of them is swolled near shut.”

Okay, fair point. But do you have any idea what it could be?” Cal unhooked the tube to his own aqua-pack and took a long sip, grimacing as the brackish water reached his mouth.

Benny scratched his head where his scalp was beginning to peel. He’d never been any good in the sun, his pale skin easily burnt even in the mildest of summers. So two suns glaring down on him from a cloudless sky was downright unfair, in his opinion.

Well? Anything?” Patience wasn’t one of Cal’s strong points.

Benny met his gaze. “It could be smoke.”

Cal’s eyes lit up. “Smoke! Yeah, exactly what I was thinking! When I was a kid the factories of Newchester looked like that, ‘specially from a distance. And if there’s smoke, then there must be people!” He was on his feet, scanning the horizon with his scope again.

To Benny, the presence of smoke, if that’s what it was, didn’t necessarily mean people. It could be due to any number of things. They had no idea what, if anything, lived on this god forsaken planet. The newest star charts referred to it only as AR159C – Possible Oxygenated Atmosphere – Unexplored.

We need to check it out. It’ll mean a long hike for us, but we can do it.” Cal slipped the viewscope back into its case and slung it over his shoulder. “We don’t have much of an option anyway, seeing as you broke the emergency radio.”

Benny lunged to his feet. “What d’ya mean, I broke the radio? The friggin’ thing ain’t worked since we left Khollos IV, ’cause you were too tight to get it serviced. That, and everything else on that bag of bolts you called a ship. The Federation should’ve grounded you years ago! Don’t you go blaming me for shit you caused just to save a few Creds!”

Cal was walking away, heading to their small camp by the emergency pod at the base of the dune. He stopped, and turned to look at Benny. His eyes were glazed, no sign of emotion in them whatsoever. Benny closed his mouth with an audible click and stepped back a pace.

I’m the Captain. Your Captain, Mr. French. What I say, goes. So if I say you broke the radio, then you broke the damn radio, okay? Good.” Cal turned and continued down the steep slope, sliding on the loose sand that sucked hungrily at his heavy boots. “Come along now. We need to make preparations.”

Benny stood and stared after his retreating Captain. Cal had always been on the wrong side of stable, and it looked very much as if he was losing control. Benny thought Cal becoming unstable, out here on this friggin’ never ending beach, would be a bad thing. A very bad thing indeed.

As always, that shallot.

Laters…

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Posted by on January 8, 2018 in Writing

 

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Flotsam

Hey! Hi, howareya?

Kept you waiting, huh? (for all you MGS fans out there.)

Well then. Busy, busy, busy. But finally back to working on my own stuff once again. The Negative Bind hasn’t been forgotten about, it’s still very much on my mind. It has, however, been shelved for the time being, as my short story collection keeps rearing its ugly little head and distracting me.

Once upon a time I had a title in mind for this collection but as time went on I came up with another name for it and ran with that for a while. This new title – A Dog Barked Once – made perfect sense. To me, anyway. You see, the vast majority of my stories contain, somewhere in them, the line “…somewhere in the distance a dog barked, once, twice…”, and so A Dog Barked Once seemed very fitting. Hell, I could even write a second collection and call it A Dog Barked Twice!

Genius.

But no. Again time has moved on, and I find myself favouring my original title – Flotsam.

Why Flotsam, you ask. Well, dictionaries define the word as:

  • pieces of broken wood and other waste materials found on the beach or floating on the sea.
  • anything or anyone that is not wanted or not considered to be important or useful.

If you were to ask me where I get my ideas from, most of the time I’d be unable to tell you. They just kind of appear in my head. The closest I can come to explaining it is to say I view the imagination in my head as a vast, and mostly empty, ocean. Floating around in this Imaginocean are idea boxes – some complete and whole, the majority only a part of the entire story, pieces of wreckage from a fractured tale.

Whenever one of these boxes floats close enough to the shore, I wade out and grab it with both hands before it can float out of reach again. I’ll open the box, see what’s inside, and write it down, before settling back to await the next idea box to drift into view.

So yes, I’m slightly weird. No matter.

A lot of writers like to do cover reveals. They like to keep the image hidden until they feel the time is right, and then release it with great fanfare, or in a more subdued manner, depending on their style. Well, not me. Once I have a cover I like then I don’t mind showing it around (mainly because there’s a very good chance I’ll change my mind and make another cover before long).

And so, without further ado, here is the cover for my upcoming short story collection, Flotsam.

CompleteCover

 

When will it be released? Who knows. Whenever I get around to finishing it, would be my best guess. Until then, at least you have a pretty picture to look at, right?

Right.

As always, that shallot.

Laters…

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Posted by on May 6, 2017 in Books, Writing

 

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Story! New. Buy it. Now.

So, just a quickie. Because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a quickie…

Christmas is almost upon us. Peace on Earth. Good will to all men. And all that other happy stuff.

Bah humbug.

Stuck for a present to buy the person you don’t really like? Well, I have a short story published on Amazon – the link is over on the right somewhere. It’s cheap too.

So that’s sorted then. Excellent.

twentysevenOn the other hand, if you want a really good story to read, then this bad boy by Jack Binding came out yesterday. I haven’t, as yet, had the time to read and review it myself (sorry Jack), but having read Jack’s other stories I have no doubt it’s well worth the buy and read.

So, do yourself a favour, click the image, or >>>HERE<<<, and buy yourself an early Christmas present.

I might write again before Christmas. Then again, I might not. Either way, have yourself a good one. Try not to kill anyone. Save it for the new year, it’s more apt.

As always, that shallot.

Laters…

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Posted by on December 16, 2016 in Books

 

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The Key

Quite a long while ago I was challenged to write a story based on a certain image.

key This image, to be exact.

Well, as so often happens, life, and various other things got in the way and the story never got written, although I had a good idea of what I wanted to write. Time has gone on, far too much time, and I’ve been so caught up in doing other things – earning money in order to be able to pay the bills and feed oneself, what a drag that is – that I haven’t done any writing for myself.

Plenty for other people. None at all for me. Now, that kinda sucks, so I decided it’s time I did something about it.

And shock horror! Today I actually put pen to paper. Well, typed words on a screen. Same thing. I didn’t produce much, a thousand words or so, as the writing machine is kinda rusty due to lack of use. But it is oiling up nicely. The words aren’t exactly flowing, but they are seeping out slowly.

Who knows, if you’re good I might even post an extract.

Or not.

Anyway, as always, that shallot.

Laters…

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Posted by on November 10, 2016 in Writing

 

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Queueing is SO British.

Sunday. Which is still the weekend, so I shouldn’t be here. I don’t write at weekends. Usually. As I believe I said yesterday. And yet, here I am. Writing.

As yesterday, I’m going to keep this next challenge – number 20, I believe – as short as possible. In fact, it might end up only consisting of a few lines. Well, so be it.

Challenge 20 states – Use these words in a story: grandfather, photo album, post office, and folder. Using those words, I, or anyone else, could write any story they liked, about anything at all they liked. And if it wasn’t Sunday, I’d spend a bit of time trying to come up with something that might be at least half good.

As it is, you have the following to weep over.

Note: I may, or may not have, written this yesterday and scheduled it to post today. Who knows? More to the point, who cares?

Queueing is SO British.

I waited patiently in line at the post office. At the counter, an old lady wanted to send a parcel to her dear friend in Australia. The young lady behind the counter was trying her best to explain that yes, she understood madam was willing to pay whatever it cost, but sending a kitten through the mail, air mail no less, just wasn’t the done thing.

Next in line was a fat man – sorry, a man of exceptionally large stature – with hairy ears and dandruff. Clutched in his great paws was a carrier bag full of loose change. Whispering under his breath, he kept repeating to himself “£23.67. The total is £23.67. Don’t forget. £23.67. The total is £23.67.”

And then there was me. Under my arm I held a red folder. It was, in fact, a makeshift photo album, full of old photographs of the town through various different ages. My friend’s grandfather was due to celebrate his 80th birthday next week, and he – my friend, not his grandfather – wanted the photos to put together some sort of This Is Your Life thing. Hence the red folder.

Happy birthday grandad, here’s a reminder of just how old you really are. Congrats.

I wasn’t in the post office for that though. I wanted to pay a bill. So I waited patiently in line for my turn.

Queueing is such a British thing, don’t you think?

The End 

And, as always, that shallot…

Laters…

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Posted by on December 20, 2015 in 30 Writing Challenges

 

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1666 And All That…

It’s Saturday. Saturday! Which means I shouldn’t be writing. Writing at weekends is not something I generally do. So why am I here? Why indeed.

The 30 Writing Challenges, that’s why. For some obscure reason I agreed to complete challenges 17 to 30 on a daily basis. Lunacy. But, also a good way to get back in the habit.

That being said, old habits die hard, and so I will keep this one as brief as possible (and I really mean it this time).

Challenge 19 states – Write a fictional story about a real event from any period of history. Plenty of scope there for many different stories, but I’m going to stick with an idea which occurred to me during a conversation last night. And, as previously stated, I’ll keep it as short as possible. Promise.

1666 And All That…

“Oi! Mate, watch where you’re bleedin’ goin’, will ye?”

Thomas looked bleary eyed at the source of the angry voice. “So shorry, pahdon me, sir.”

“Oh, hey,” angry voice continued. “I knows you, dun I? Yer that baker fella. Me missus gets her bread from ye.”

Thomas tried his best to stand up straight, but too much ale, followed by too many brandies, made the feat nigh on impossible. He settled instead for leaning against a nearby wall.

A deep breath. “I ham indeed him, sir. Thomash Farriner hat your service. A good even to you hall!” A drunken grin, chin shiny with drool.

Angry voice looked at him in disgust. “You’re a disgrace, man. Look at ye! Shameful. Almost one in the morning, a Sunday morning, I might add, and yer three sheets to the wind. And, yer goin’ the wrong way if yer headin’ home.” Angry voice stepped forward, seized the drunken man by the shoulders, and turned him around. “Puddin’ Lane is that way, first on the right.”

“Thank you, sir, ye be too kind,” Thomas stumbled onward, trying unsuccessfully to doff his cap at the stranger.

Five minutes later, a thoroughly intoxicated Thomas arrived back at his bakery, and eased as quietly as possibly through the door. Which is to say, with all the grace of an elephant on an icy pond. He had meant to be home hours ago, but his friend Samuel had produced a rather superior bottle of brandy, and time had somehow slipped away from him. That and his sobriety.

A light flickered through the doorway to the back room, and Thomas weaved his way towards it. “Fire’s shtill lit. I’ll warm me cockles on it before tryin’ to climb the stairs. Hehe, shhh!” he said, in an exaggerated whisper. The finger he meant to hold up to his lips lay against his right cheek.

Once in the back room, Thomas noted with dismay that the hearth was dark and cold. “Wheresh the fire?” His bloodshot eyes scanned the room, and came to rest on bright flames hungrily devouring the woodpile next to his stove. “Ah, the firesh there. Whydya move, shilly fire? Well, besht put you out afore I head to bed.”

Thomas shambled over to the blazing woodpile, took a nearby vase full of flowers, and poured the contents onto the flames. Most were extinguished, but a small log remained defiant, burning steadily. Unable to see any other source of water, Thomas unfastened his trousers, and relieved himself in the corner, aiming happily at the burning log, until no trace of the fire was left.

“Alwaysh wanted to be a fireman, me. Job well done.”

With that, Thomas hiccupped, giggled, and staggered towards the staircase and bed.

And so it turned out that the Fire of London wasn’t so Great after all.

The End 

And, that shallot…

Laters…

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Posted by on December 19, 2015 in 30 Writing Challenges

 

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Take. Your. Time.

Today I was going to post a short story I had written last week. It was the first of a series of stories based on a video game (yes, I’m a gamer, have been for the last 35 years).

But… well, my computer ate it. Seriously, it’s vanished into thin air. But no matter, I can rewrite it. There’s no rush, no deadline to be met, and on a positive note, rewriting will hopefully improve upon the original.

It got me thinking though, again, of how most people these days are in a rush, they want everything immediately, they need instant gratification. Which reminded me of a blog post I wrote quite some time ago. So, in the absence of a new story, I’ve decided to repost that brief rant I had.

Over the next few days I’ll attempt to recreate my missing story. Though it may take longer. There is, after all, no rush.

A Take Your Time Rant.

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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Rant

 

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