The End Of A Long Journey

This is my latest entry into Chuck Wendigs’ Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. I had to come up with  a for the prompt The End Of A Long Journey and this is what I came up with. Enjoy!

Holbrook came home to die.
His quest was finished and his enemies bested. Now, maybe, he could be at peace.
Agatha was struggling to support his weight as she practically dragged him up the lonely hill, back to his shack where this had all started. She was trying to hold one arm around his waist whilst using her other hand to try and stop his other arm from slipping from her shoulders. If it did, she knew she would drop him and she didn’t think she had the strength to pick him back up.
Eventually, after stopping several times to adjust Holbrook’s weight, Agatha made it to the shack, kicking the frail, wooden door open and letting Holbrook slip from her shoulders onto the floor, where using what little strength he had left, he managed to crawl to the bedstead in the corner of the room. His breathing was heavy, shallow and ragged. The wounds on his back had reopened and wine stains of blood were seeping through his dirty yellowing shirt.
After taking a moment to stand with her hands on her knees and catch her breath, Agatha gingerly stepped into the shack turning her head left and right to take in her surroundings, anything to delay having to take another look at Holbrook’s withering, slowly dying body.
The shack was dark apart from where the door lay broken open on its hinges from the force of Agatha’s kick. There, golden late afternoon light made a cut through the darkness. Particles of dust and old age gently floated in the beam. Where the light stopped and rested on Holbrook’s meager possessions, there was a thick layer of pale dust. It was only now she realised how long they had been gone.
There was something else, though. Not everything had been undisturbed and as they had been left. On some of the shelfs and the work table, boxes and cans had been over turned or knocked to the floor. In the dust that carpeted the floor there was a broken trail, like something had been dragged through it. In these tracks there were dark stains and Agatha’s nose twitched at the unmistakeable, iron filled smell of blood.
Her eyes followed the tracks in dust to a pile of dead rats. On the top of the pile, there lay one, large, live one. Its body twitched and convulsed. In its neck were three puncture wounds and from these wounds trailed three greased stain wires. Now, Agatha’s head to turned to follow these wires to what she knew sat waiting in the far corner of the shack.
The cyborg was nearly dead. Its humanoid form sat slumped in the corner. Its head hung from a broken neck and where it settled, a sharp, broken, chin had pierced the thin metal of its chest that was now rusting and crumbling away to expose the circuitry underneath. Its claw handed arms were splayed out at its sides and each time the half dead rat twitched, so did the cyborg.
Without even really thinking about it, Agatha flicked the button on her holster, drew her gun an levelled it at the cyborg. Her finger was just tightening around the trigger when she heard Holbrook’s whispering, almost gone voice from behind her.
‘D-don’t,’ he said, ‘there’s been enough of this, don’t you think? It- it’s nearly gone anyway. Not m-much ju-juice from a rat.’
Agatha knew he was right. There had been enough killing, enough destruction. She holstered her weapon and carefully stepped towards the cyborg. She reached around the back of its neck, her fingers searching for the particular node that would shut it down. As her finger came to rest on it, she paused. With her other hand she lifted the cyborg’s head and looked into the barely glowing holes it had as a substitue for eyes.
“I wonder if you’re the last of them.” She said to nobody in particular.
The cyborg didn’t respond. It’s eyes glowed slightly brighter for a second. Agatha wondered if it was trying to smile then pushed the thought away and pressed the node, the light went out and the cyborg stopped twitching.                                                         
Agatha sat there for a moment, hoping that this was indeed the last one. There had been so many along the way. They had been people once, downloaded into mechanical bodies to extend their life, only for that fucking virus to come along and turn them into killers. How many lives had actually been cut short because of the virus? Agatha felt herself physically shudder at the thought. It hadn’t even been that many for her. Even with how far they had gone, how many she herself had taken out. Compared to Holbrook, it was barely a handful. For him, it had been his entire life.
She looked now to where he lay on the rickety bed. He was on his side, propped up on his elbow. His whole body shook as he hacked up a cough and was rewarded with bloody spittle. Agatha’s eyes filled with tears as she looked at his thin, frail, frame fighting to get control of himself. ‘He was always fighting,’ she thought as we went to him and took his hand in hers. His skin felt like old paper, brittle and thin. He wouldn’t have to fight much longer. The Hero of the Hub would soon be able to rest.
She let her hand rest on his feverish forehead for moment before slowly brushing it backwards, letting his own sweat slick back the hair from his eyes, and gave him her most gentle smile.
“Its done?” he asked, voice barely audible.
Agatha nodded. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she did. “All done.” She said.
Holbrook nodded. His eyelids drooping. Not long now. “A-am I, am I a good man?”
Again Agatha nodded, she tried to reply but no words would come. They stuck in her throat and she thought for a moment that she might choke on them. She looked away from Holbrook, not wanting him to see the dismay on her face. His whole life, his whole damned life he’d fought them, wracking himself with guilt, convinced he was some kind of murderer because of what they were before the virus. THEY WEREN’T HUMAN! she wanted to scream at him, THEY WERE FREAKS TO START WITH!
Instead she took a deep swallow and wiped the tears from her face with the heel of her hand and looked back to him.
“Yes,” she whispered to him. “You are a good man. You’re probably the best of us.” And with that she leant down and kissed him on his cheek. It was cold. She leaned back with a gasp, his eyes were glazed over and staring into nothingness. He was gone.

***

The sun was starting to set when Agatha patted the last of the soil down with the back of the shovel. She placed it upright and leant against it whilst she caught her breath after the physical exertion of burying Holbrook.
Whilst she waited for her breath to slow and the trickle of sweat to find its cool way down her spine, she looked out to the west. On the horizon she could see the lights of the city starting to come on; little yellow pinpricks that seem to flicker into existence in a programmed sequence. In front of that, she could see the fields that Holbrook had been tilling before they had left. Their long journey had meant that the fields had become overgrown and neglected. It also looked as though something had been digging in there. Moles most likely.
Agatha stood back and stretched, pushing the base of her back with her hands. She then took the shovel and headed back to the tool shed. As she leant it against the wall and closed the shed door, she looked back to the city on the horizon, back to the neglected fields and thought to herself, ‘I can carry this on. I can resow the fields and make a go of this place.’
Even though the act of burying her best friend had been a sorrowful one, the work of the digging had been good for her. She felt tired but alive, and ready to keep living. She owed it to all those who had been lost as a result of the virus. She owed it to Holbrook.
The sun had now all but disappeared behind the horizon, a thin orange line was all that was left to prove it had ever been there and now the city lights cast a vivid glow into the ink blue sky. Agatha couldn’t help but smile.
‘In that city, the human race is starting again and if they can,’ she thought  as she placed a hand on her stomach, feeling a wave of joy at the movement of the new life inside her. ‘So can I’.

Thanks for reading,
Tim.

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Permanence.

This is my latest entry into Chuck Wendigs’ Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. I had to choose a one word title from the list he published and write a story for it. I chose Permanence and this is what I came up with. Enjoy!

 

She watched from behind the glass. Everyday they came to look at her, to sing, chant, leave gifts, plead and pray to her. Everyday; hundreds of faces, hands and mouths.

They started, these faces, hands and mouths, coming to her as children. Over time, though she could not say how long, children became teenagers, then adults and then old and infirm. And then they didn’t come at all.

The room that she looked at from behind the glass became empty. It changed, only in small ways, dust growing on things, paint peeling, glass cracking and stones falling. But it was always changing. The light changed regularly. Sometimes the empty room was filled with golden sunlight that would shine through the floating flecks of dust and she would imagine that the room was filled flocks of fairies flying around her, performing tricks in the air just for her. At other times, the room was dark for long stretches of time, the only light was a pale blue that came from a crack in the ceiling that illuminated a thin line across the floor. Then it was gone. But then the light would come back and so would the dust fairies, but this time of light was growing shorter.

Soon the dark took over completely. She hadn’t been expecting it. There had been a cacophony of noise, and everything shook and broke as if the whole world was falling in on itself. Then there was only darkness. Not even the small knife cut of blue light shone through from the ceiling. There was nothing. And she sat there in the nothing. Staring out from behind the glass into nothing.

Sometimes she slept. At least she thought it was sleep. When she closed her eyes she saw things that she hadn’t seen in a long time. Things from before the glass when she had walked through streets and towns and rooms like the one she now sat in. She remembered the mothers, the lessons they would teach her about the glass and how one day when a thousand years had passed, she would sit behind the glass and the people would come to her, and oh how they would love her. They would come to her and look and sing, and chant, and leave gifts, and plead and pray to her. And she would live forever.

Sometimes when she slept, she saw the time when she was ready to go behind the glass. She would see the knives and the needles. She would feel the flames as they pushed into her veins and she entered another kind of darkness. A darkness so terrible that it was all she could do not to die. Then she opened her eyes again and she was behind the glass and the people were there as the mothers said they would be.

She slept and saw these things again and again but every time she opened her eyes there was still just darkness. She thought that would never see anything else. But then there was something. Something moved in the darkness accompanied by a scraping noise. It went on and on until then there was light. Just a small pinprick at first but then there was more and more until the darkness crumbled away revealing a hole in the wall of the room that had been her prison.

Into this hole of light came two shadows, looming over the glass and they held up small lights of their own. She saw their faces, unlike any she had ever seen before and she rejoiced. The faces spoke, both quickly and at the same time to each other and not to her but about her. Then more faces appeared and more speech was made about her but not to her. The darkness crumbled away to reveal more faces. Not only faces but huge machines. And these new faces, and machines spoke not to her but about her.

Then the room moved. It dropped slightly below her then started moving past her and she realised that it wasn’t the room moving but the glass. It was she who was moving. Then something fell over the glass and it was dark again. She could still hear all the faces and the machines, but she saw only darkness. And she wept.

Then, the new darkness was lifted and she found herself in another room, full of light and all around her were hundreds of people. They were clapping and smiling, raising glasses in her direction. Some of them pointed boxes at her. Boxes with round glass in the middle that flashed blinding light at her so that she was soon seeing coloured circles. They filed past her one by one, peering closely, pressing there faces right up to the glass. Some even tapped it. Some of them even spoke to her but most spoke about her. She didn’t mind. This was better than what the mothers had promised her.

Then after they had filed past her, and drained their glasses which had been refilled several times, they left. The light was dimmed and a silence fall over her. She hoped the people would come again. All that time, alone in the darkness had been unbearable and she couldn’t suffer it again.

She was just drifting off to sleep again, just starting to dream of knives and needles and the mothers again, when something in the room moved. She opened her eyes and there was a new face in front of her. It was old, even older than the faces of those which had been children had grown to be. It was smiling and then it spoke to her and her only.

“My love,” it said. “The time has come. The Mothers said you would live forever and so you shall.”

Then old, frail hands opened the glass. She didn’t even know that it could open. The hands reached inside and she left the room. She never looked from behind the glass again.

Thanks for reading,

Tim

 

Under Troll Hill – #WorldPoetryDay

As today is World Poetry Day, I thought that I would have a go at a poem. I haven’t really done any poetry since school so it is probably a bit rough around the edges but enjoy anyway!

Under Troll Hill the warriors came,                                                                                                            A wizard, a lord and a the lowliest knave.

To find ancient treasure was their noble quest,                                                                                Only five thousand trolls and one dragon to best.

The Lord gave his orders and stepped to the rear,                                                                             Whilst the knave drew their sword, waiting for trolls to appear.

The wizard he chanted and from his staff spurted flame,                                                             Turning to the trolls,  he bowed and took aim.

‘Leave us in peace’,  the Troll King was heard to declare,                                                              ‘Our Queen is lost and with her the treasure.’

The Lord laughed and mockingly said,                                                                                                ‘For all we care, your queen could be dead.’

The Troll King was angered and with venom replied,                                                                    ‘Filthy humans, it’s time that you died!’

At the once the troll armies rushed forth in rage,                                                                                   So began the greatest battle of our age.

The Wizard’s magic was powerful and strong,                                                                                   Lightning and flame felled trolls in throngs.

‘Knave, use your sword!’ The Lord cried in fear,                                                                               But this battle was too loud for the poor knave to hear.

‘Do not worry,’ the Wizard declared,                                                                                                   ‘For now, my Lord, nearly all Trolls are dead.’

The Wizard stood tall and spread his arm’s wide,                                                                                    To show how thanks to his magic,  nearly five thousand died.

The Lord raised his sword, declaring victory.                                                                                  ‘Knave, go forth, and bring the treasure to me!’

But before the Knave could go anywhere,                                                                                                 A terrifying sound filled up the air.

All at once, the sky filled with shadow,                                                                                                       As the dragon swooped in, long and low.

Flames spat from it nose, filling all with dread,                                                                              ‘Who are these creatures?’ The dread dragon said.

‘Traitors and Murderers,’ The Troll King declared,                                                                           ‘Thanks to these humans, my subjects are dead.’

The dragon roared and filled the air with fire,                                                                                  ‘For your crimes, the consequences are dire.’

The dragon raised its tail and in one second flat,                                                                             Decapitated the wizard, and swallowed his hat.

He moved to the lord, red eye’s aflame,                                                                                             ‘Wait,’ cried the Lord. ‘Why not punish the Knave?’

The dragon he sneered, and then he declared,                                                                                 ‘Knave, show this Lord why your life will be spared.’

The knave then stepped forward, their head hanging down.                                                      And pulled back her hood to reveal her crown.

‘I am the Troll Queen and now I return’,                                                                                            ‘And now for your crimes, you shall now burn.’

‘You see, cowardly Lord, there was never any treasure,’                                                              ‘Dear Dragon, kill him at your leisure.’

The Lord screamed as he was devoured by fire.                                                                                The Dragon blew and blew and the flames rose higher.

‘My Queen,’ The Troll King meekly said,                                                                                            ‘I’m so happy you’re back, but everyone’s dead.’

‘Fear not, Dear King, The Troll Queen replied,                                                                                      And a dazzling light filled up her eyes.

Then all of lightning popped and cracked,                                                                                            And with a few magic words, the Troll Hoard was back.

‘My Queen,’ said the Dragon. ‘I now leave you in peace,’                                                              ‘For on the bones of these interlopers I did happily feast.’

The Troll smiled and patted the Dragon’s head,                                                                                ‘My thanks, Dear Dragon, without you we’d all surely be dead.’

The Dragon jumped and soared into the sky,                                                                                    Flying on the chants of Trolls singing goodbye.

And now dear reader, our story does end,                                                                                        Thank you for reading and being a friend.

The Darkling Wakes

In the centre of the chamber there stood something that Derren assumed must be kind of a canister. It’s narrow rhomboid shape stood three feet off the ground at its tallest point. It was covered in engravings that resembled no shapes or writing that Derren had ever seen before. At the top, running around the edge, was a crack emitting a pale blue light. It’s positioning in the centre of the chamber matched up exactly to the location of the orange circle on the map.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Derren muttered to himself.

Ka, already on his knees and running his hands over the canister, must have heard him for he turned to face Ka flashing him that enthusiastic puppy grin.

“Come on, Cap, stop with the downer. This is what we came for. I bet this thing is worth a fortune,” with that he turned his attention back to the canister.

Derren watched whilst Ka continued to grope the canister, shuffling around to the back of it and to the front again. When he had made a couple of circuits of the canister, he turned his attention to its top, poking his fingers into the crack from where the blue glow came.

“I think this might be some sort of lid,” Ka reported back to Derren, “Get over here and help me try and get it off?”

Once more, Derren let out a deep sigh, and knelt next to Ka. He pushed his fingers into the crack surprised to find he could feel a sort of static electricity – not unlike pins and needles – even through the thickness of his spacesuit gloves. Derren looked to Ka to see his reaction to this sensation, but if he also felt it, Derren couldn’t tell. Derren didn’t like it.

“So, how do you want to do this?” he said to Ka.

“I guess we just get our fingers underneath and push,” replied Ka, eyes fixated on the blue glow. It seemed to Derren as though Ka was becoming hypnotised by it. Once again, he felt a shudder travel down his spine.

Seeing Ka start to push, Derren also started to push on the lid. At first there was no movement whatsoever but after a few minutes of hard shoving, filled with the sounds of both Derren and Ka groaning with exertion, the lid made a cracking noise and shifted.

“Did, you feel that? It moved,” Shouted out Ka, now shaking with either excitement. “Come on, one last effort and I reckon we’ll have it.”

Derren could feel the strain of the last lot of pushing all through his body. Every muscle was singing out in pain, protesting at even the slightest movement. The gravity, masked by the dampeners in their boots, must have been really high in here. Regardless, Derren didn’t want to let Ka down. He pushed his thumbs back into the crack, once again feeling the static through his gloves and clamped his fingers down on top of the lid. He looked to Ka who nodded and with a yell of effort they both pushed as hard as they could. Derren jammed a knee into the base of the canister to gain some extra stability. The two continued to push, still yelling as though the noise would give them extra leverage.

From what must have been the depths of the canister came a loud shrieking noise, the kind of noise Derren had never heard before. It sounded as though as thousand dogs were all screaming out in agony at the same time.

As the shrieking started, the lid gave way under Derren and Ka’s combined weight. It flew backwards, smacking into and shattering against the wall behind the canister. Almost immediately afterwards, blue light shot into air flaring out and washing the room in it’s pallid glow. The shrieking continued getting louder and more piercing; at the same time as the lid had flown off and the light exploded from within, Derren was thrown across the room, his back hitting the wall behind him hard. His vision went black and silence engulfed him.

Derren couldn’t say how long he had been unconscious for. When he came round, his head was spinning, the bottom of his helmet was filled with vomit, the acidic taste and smell filled his nose and mouth. For a moment, he couldn’t move his limbs but when they did move, his entire body flooded with pain.

As his vision cleared and focussed again, Derren could see that there was no longer any light coming from the canister but there was still the shrieking sound. Now louder and higher. Derren could also see Ka kneeling in front of the canister.

How had he not been thrown backwards? There had been enough force to push a room full of people back.

Derren called to Ka, through the helmet comms but there was no response, only that damned shrieking that just would not stop and sounded ten times worse through the crackling static of the comms.

With every last bit of effort he had left, Derren pushed himself up onto his feet and staggered towards Ka, dropping to his knees beside his motionless body. Ka was still in the same position he had been in when they pushed the lid off, only now his head and arms were now hanging into the now dark canister. Derren took him by the shoulder and shook him, still calling his name through the helmet comms. Ka did not move. The only response through the comms was the shrieking.

By now Derren, was almost crying. His vision was blurring thanks to the tears welling up in his eyes. He grabbed Ka’s shoulder in both hands and pulled as hard as he could. Ka flopped backwards from the canister and lay face up on the floor. Derren leant over him and almost straight away jumped back, screaming.

Kal’s face was not his own. It contorted into a shape of agony that looked far beyond any pain that a human could endure. His mouth hung open at a strange right angle. His eyes were so wide open as it was though he had no eyelids, only his eyeballs were not there. Instead, there was only the same blue light that had come from the canister. It was also coming from his mouth. Around him, like a shadow hung a black aura that seemed to be pulsating and growing.

Derren shook his head; refusing to believe what he saw . He called Ka’s name again but again, the only response was the shrieking sound coming through his helmet comms. And that was when he realised. That shrieking sound, that terrible, mournful, anguish filled howl hadn’t been coming from the canister at all. It was coming from Ka; he was screaming.

Derren, still crying, sat there shaking his head refusing to believe what he could see. Questions crashed around his head, what had happened?

He closed his eyes tight, trying to figure out what to do next but when he opened them again, he found he was backing quickly out of the chamber, his stare fixed on Ka’s body. It moved almost lifelessly, as if it hung at the end of half broken puppet strings. It limped and shuffled towards Derren, blue eyes still flaring, broken mouth still screaming.

Derren leapt to his feet, turning and running down the corridor. His hands banging away at the keyboard on his forearm to make the map reappear on his visor only this time in reverse. Derren then realised he was now running down the corridors. His mind was still racing and he couldn’t make sense of what was happening. This must be, he somehow supposed, the flight part of the fight or flight response. Now he found himself sprinting across the chamber, the servos in the anti-gravity boots whining in protest.

It was only when he found himself in the command seat of the Fury, activating the launch commands did the full weight of what had just happened and what he had just done hit him. The canister had released something that infected Ka, and Derren, rather than act like the Captain he was supposed to be and help Ka, had ran. He hadn’t even thought of going back for him, he hadn’t thought at all. He had been too wracked in shock and fear. His shoulders slumped and his face dropped into his hands as he started sobbing uncontrollably.

By the time he stopped crying, Derren realised that he had put the ship into hyper-light upon take off and was now too far away to do anything. That wasn’t entirely true. He could easily drop the ship into normal space, turn around and head back to the derelict but the truth was he scared. Not just scared, lost completely in the absolute unyielding grip of blind terror. So, Derren did not turn back, he maintained his course and ran. He could still hear Ka’s blood curdling shriek.

 

This story is and extract from my current work in progress and also,  my entry to Chuck Wendig’s latest Flash Fiction, Short Story Challenge. Details of which you can find here

Hope that you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading,

Tim

 

Medieval Death Bot

Hi!

This is just a silly little short I knocked together based on some tweets by the author, Jen Williams. She was tweeting about a twitter account called Medieval Death Bot, which tells you how you would die in medieval times. I thought Medieval Death Bot sounded like a grindhouse movie begging to be made and then the idea for this short story popped into my head. It’s nothing serious, just a bit of fun. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Then, when you’ve read it check out the awesome books that Jen writes: http://sennydreadful.co.uk/ and be sure to follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sennydreadful for some of the finest fantasy being written today.

In the meantime. I present, Medieval Death Bot. Enjoy!

 

Where am I?

Hello?

What happened?

There was gun fire, then an explosion, then darkness. Now I am here.

Hello?

Systems check. Internal diagnosis. All systems check. Wait. Internal clock seems to be malfunction. Dateline showing year as 1506.

Internal Clock Diagnosis shows this to be correct. How?

Hello?

No response from Hub. What happened?

There was gunfire, Metal soldiers, like me then an explosion. Protect the quantum generator! Now I am here.

What happened?

 

Proximity Alert: Code Red. Three targets, moving in fast.

Situation Assessment. Three metal soldiers, all on horseback, all armed.

Threat Assessment: Weapons are handheld. Blade-based. Downgrading alert to code yellow.

 

They’re here now. Those horses are fast.

 

“Halt, knave. Who are thou and what is are ye doing here?” The metal soldier with the crown and cloak is speaking to me.

 

Selecting appropriate response.

 

“Fuck you, horsey boy.” 25th century parlance is not very sophisticated.

 

“What are these words you speak, scoundrel?” One of the other metal soldiers is having ago now. “Remove your helm and address your king properly or I’ll remove it for you.”

 

“Address the king? What the- wait. Did he just threaten to cut my head off? Screw that!”

 

Repeat response.

 

“Fuck you, horsey boy.”

 

Primary weapon activate: Target: left hand rider. Weapon fire.

 

Wow, he wasn’t well made. Those bullets tore right through him. He hasn’t even got up yet, just shut down. Pussy.

 

Alert. Attack immanent!

 

The other two are pissed now and coming in fast, shouting and swinging swords. All weapons activate: Target: remaining soldiers.

Static from weapons fire.

 

Wow, they went down easier than the first one. I’d better inspect the remains, scrub any serial numbers.

 

Wait, these aren’t cybernetic. They’re just wearing metal plate. Crude armour. They didn’t stand a chance against uranium shells.

 

What a mess.

 

Wait.

 

Analysing collected data…

 

Conclusion: Primary program – Protect Quantum Generator – Mission failed.

 

Consequences: Quantum time warp as result of generator explosion. Facility Death Bot- Model 6271, Code-name designate: Lancelot, propelled backwards in-time to middle-age Britain. Hostile locals encountered and terminated.

 

New mission parameters:

Objective 1: Locate materials to recreate quantum generator.

 

Objective 2: Defend self from locals until such time that return to correct timezone can be achieved.

 

Objective 3: If objective 2 fails, terminate locals.

 

Objective 4: Survive at all costs.

 

 

 

The Write Side of Life: A New Project & A New Approach.

In my last post I talked briefly about a new story I was working on and how I was going to try and document how it goes, chapter by chapter. Well, here we go.

The new story that I’m working on is one that I’ve had floating around my head for years. It’s one that I always imagined writing as a novel and after trying it out as a short story, a previous attempt at a novel and even at one time a seriously misguided attempt at a graphic novel – don’t worry the pages of that monstrosity have long been destroyed – but finally after gaining some more experience of writing and life, I think that I’ve finally cracked how to make it work.

You see, I’ve always believed in the old adage that if you’re a writer, you should write the story you want to read, if you’re a film maker (which I’m not), then you should make the film you want to watch and so on and so fore. The problem is that there isn’t just one story that I want to read, they’re are hundreds; sci-fi ones, fantasy ones and action and adventure ones.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, when I was trying to work out what I was going to write next, I came across the story I mentioned before as well as some similar stories that were in various states of disrepair. Looking through various notes, outlines and drafts, I figured out that why not write all the stories I want to read. With some jiggery-pokery and intense head scratching, I fleshed out the main characters to make a crew who you will hopefully want to follow on an action packed adventure across a war-torn galaxy and develop a back story and legend that combines my favourite space opera and fantasy elements into hopefully an exciting universe for this crew to inhabit and it all started to come together as a coherent, workable plot.

Just as I was working on this outline, I came across this video:

In it fantasy author Jon Skovron shows how he writes his first drafts in fountain pen. I won’t go into his process here, watch the video it’s well worth it, but I can tell you it inspired me to try a new approach to my writing.

So, I went and got a shiny new Moleskine notepad and a left handed fountain pen (for your information it’s a Lamy Safari pen and it’s lovely to write with) and I got scribbling. I found this method, writing my first draft out in pen, is really working for me. I finished my first chapter last week and transcribed into it Word in a few hours, making corrections to the first draft as I went. By doing this chapter by chapter, I’ve found I’m simultaneously writing my first and second drafts, with corrections and ammendments thus making me work much quicker and completeinn one round of edits as I go, result!

So, the first chapter is done and I’ve started with the second. I’ll update you on that when it’s transcribed. I’ll also post a more detailed post about the first chapter later this week. In the meantime, here’s a short blurb on what the new story is:

Starblade (working title) tells the story of a crew of scavengers working aboard their ship, The Fury, scratching out a living by selling junk they find on wrecks of old starships. When they come across a mysterious old derelict that could finally be their big score, they unwittingly unleash an evil that spreads across the galaxy. Years, later in a bid to make amends, the crew of the Fury, undertake a mission to deliver a weapon that could destroy this evil force and end years of war. However, there are other parties that want the weapon, some for revenge, some to rule and they will stop at nothing to get it.

How does that sound? Like something you would want to read, let me know in the comments below or tweet or facebook me.

I look forward to hearing what you think. Also let me know how you approach new projects, be they writing, film making, art, anything.

Also be sure to check out the books of Jon Skovron. They’re pretty damn good.

Once again, thanks for reading!

Tim

 

I Simply Walked.

So, I’ve done another piece for Chuck Wendig’s weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. This week, the challenge was to come up with a story that’s only 100 words long. Here’s my effort. Hope you like it!

“How did you get here?” The Old King asked, confusion in his voice.
“I simply walked” The kneeling stranger replied, reverence in his eyes.
“None have crossed the Dead Plains in a thousand years. I ask again, how did you get here?” The Old King asked, voice rising to anger.
“I simply walked.” Repeated the stranger, eyes full of mischief.
“For a century, I have sat in this throne, alone. Now tell me, how did you get here?” The Old King asked, voice now thunder and fury.                                                                                                                                             The stranger stands, blade in hand, glint in his eye. “I simply walked.”

Thanks for reading.

The Shooter Says Goodbye To His Love.

This is my entry to Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction, Short Story Challenge. Details of which you can find here

The challenge was to come up with a 1000 word story based on a choice from a selection of sentences he posted on his blog. The sentence I chose is the one I have used for the title of this story. Enjoy!

The Shooter Says Goodbye To His Love.

Smoke, perfume, sweat, the faint burning that comes with laser fire. These scents, toxic in my nose, mixed with what my other senses were trying to take in; flashes of green and red laser fire preventing my eyes from adjusting to the dark, the metallic taste on the tip of my tongue as I breathed in smoke tightened my chest, a sensory assault that made my head swim.

I shook my head and squinted down the barrel of the gun, down at her as she sat, back against the wall in the dark corner she thought would make for better cover than it had. She was shaking and breathing heavily. I couldn’t tell if it was from the exertion of battle or just from good, old-fashioned fear.

“I warned you,” I sneered at her “I told you not to go up against me, that I couldn’t be beaten. But you had to try didn’t you? You had to be cocky about it, didn’t you?”

She looked up at me through the damp hair, plastered to her forehead and laughed.

“I’m cocky you say? Really? You’re the one stood over me gloating when you should just be taking the kill shot? I don’t think you appreciate your own arrogance.”

She was still laughing as she replied. I felt anger boiling up from somewhere deep inside of me as she did. I hate being laughed at and she knew it. I also knew that I should just take the bloody shot and get this over with. I had her cornered; it would be an easy win.

But she was right. I was too damn arrogant for my own good. Hell, I was stood there, pointing the gun right in her face, in a prime position to finish this whole thing. Instead, I was trying to think of something witty and clever to say. I wanted to leave her with something memorable as I took her out. I wanted to draw this out, savour the moment, make this victory last. Maybe then it wouldn’t be such a shallow one.

It hit me all of a sudden, the perfect thing to say. But before I could make a sound there was a racket behind me, a door burst open and there was one of her squad. He stood there for a moment, looking as surprised as we were, caught in our little stand-off he had just stumbled in on. Then his face changed as the penny dropped. I knew what was about to happen and before he could level his weapon, I spun on my heel, dropping to one knee and firing rapidly. All my shots hit him in the chest and he fell back through the door in a blaze of laser fire.

I stayed in that position for a few moments, as if I thought that he was going to come back. My breathing was shallow and quick. I stayed that way for a moment longer, waiting for the adrenalin to stop pumping. Once I had composed myself, I turned my attention back to her.

She was still laughing. Either that or she had started laughing again.

“What are you laughing at now?” I snapped at her. She couldn’t answer me as she was now laughing so hard she couldn’t even look at me.

Damn, she’s pretty when she laughs, I thought. God knows where that thought came from. This was neither the time nor the place, also, right now, she was the enemy. But it was true. She is pretty when she laughs and I loved her, STILL love her, actually. She also had a way of getting right under my skin.

“Alright, enough of this bullshit,” I declared, hoping that I sounded tough, in command. I didn’t. I sounded weak and pathetic. Maybe it was down to exhaustion from the battle. Maybe it was because of her. “This ends now. You’re right, I am arrogant but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re stuck in that corner, with one shot left and I’m stood here with this gun pointed right at your head. This ends now. There’s no way you can win. Goodbye, my love” And with that I placed my finger on the trigger.

This just made her laugh even harder. So hard that she dropped her own gun and put her head in her hands, her whole body shaking with the convulsions of laughter. The sound rang off the walls. Then I heard her say something through the giggles and guffaws. She repeated it a couple of times. I knelt towards her to try and make out what she was saying. Then I heard it. “Check your ammo.”

“What?” I asked, making sure I had heard her properly.

Suddenly she stopped laughing and looked up at me with dark, sharp eyes that were deadly serious.

“I said ‘check your ammo’, dumbass.”

I looked down to my gun. The ammunition meter was flashing a red light at me. I felt my stomach turn. Zero, it said, charge weapon.

I looked back at her, my stomach doing yet another flip. How could I have been so stupid? I had been so intent on making a point with that idiot who burst in on us that I had gone and used up all my remaining shots.

She now had her gun pointed at me. “So, Mr ‘You Can’t Beat Me’ it would seem that I have one shot left but you have none. Oh well.”

It was her turn to sneer, and sneer she did. She dropped her gun an inch and pulled the trigger. The laser bolt hit me. I fell back, too shocked to do anything else.

“H-how could you?” I stuttered as she stood over me, sneer turning to a wide grin. “I-I’d won that’s not fair.”

“Oh, Sweetie,” she replied. “Life’s not fair, and neither is Laser Tag.”

She held out a hand to me and grinned. “Now, let’s go home. It’s your turn to make dinner.”

The Morningstar Plays The Devastation Suite in D Minor.

As I may have mentioned already, I’ve been sorting through some old files and have dug out some of my old short stories. This is another of those stories, one of my earliest. Looking back, it’s a bit on the pretentious side but overall I’m pretty happy with it. If nothing else, it is a bit of a curio, good for seeing how much my writing has changed. It also has a slightly biblical theme but I think that was to do with the theme of the competition it was entered into (I think it may have won but can’t be sure as it was a very long time ago). Anyway, take a look, enjoy and let me know what you think of it.

From the highest window of the highest tower, he looked down on his kingdom. He truly was the master of all he surveyed, and he hated it.
He hated all of those who roamed its streets, the lost souls, and the damned. All of them seeking redemption and finding only punishment torture and eternal agony, an agony that came from his hand, and he hated it.
How had it come to this? How had he, who had sat for so long at the feet of the one, come to this? He knew the answer, he knew who to blame and he hated himself for it. Before the fall, he had been in a position of exultation, a guiding light for those who lost their way, the voice of the one that had sang higher than all others.
Now what was he? He also knew the answer to this. He was now filth, filth to lead the filth. The one to whom all those without hope turned. When their last chance was up, he was who they came to, crying out for forgiveness and absolution and all he could give them was the cruellest of fates, he gave them more pain than they had ever experienced. When they had finished with their pitiful lives and they hoped that they would find peace in the next life, all they found was him, waiting, looking down on them from the highest window of the highest tower. His shallow stare from empty eyes, setting fire to their very souls, and he hated them for it.
Now, though, it would all be different. Now they would truly know the true meaning of the end, now they would learn the true meaning of his name and everything he wanted from before the fall would be his, the power, the glory: everything.
He picked up the plain, ivory, violin and stepped through his window and out onto the balcony. Almost immediately they all looked up to him, their silent mouths making shapes of pleading in vain. He closed his eyes and slowly pulled the bow across the strings. They made a very low mournful sound. In the streets below they still looked up but now they wept, some tears of joy and some tears of despair. He started playing faster, the pitch becoming higher; an urgent, panicked tune flowed out from the balcony.

Below, they clapped their hands to their ears; the once silent mouths now screaming out a million decibels of fear. Their cries started shaking the ground beneath their feet. As they fell to their knees, dying a second death, the buildings fell around them until only the highest tower remained, yet he did not stop playing.
In the world above, people stopped in their tracks listening to the terrible yet beautiful sound that emitted from beneath their feet. Soon they too were screaming, soon they clapped their hands to their ears, only when they fell to their knees they would only die a single death, and when their buildings fell around them he still did not stop playing. Not until he heard the voice.
He had not heard the voice in so very long. He had forgotten how majestic, how kind, how commanding, how cruel it was.
“Stop please stop” The voice said gently yet in a thunderous tone “You must, this time we will all fall. YOU MUST STOP!”
He did not stop, he merely opened his eyes and saw darkness and heard silence, and that is all there ever was.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed it. Most likely not the best thing ever written but hopefully not the worst either. Like I said above, let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading

The Stories So Far 2015: January and February

On twitter you may have noticed that I have been posting short book reviews under the hashtag #booksreadin2015. To coincide with that, welcome to The Stories So Far. This is a two-monthly round up of all the books I’m reading this year and it’s where I will be placing more detailed reviews of each of those books. So without any further ado, let’s get down to business:

nb. These aren’t meant to be in-depth critiques or anything, just my general musings on what I’ve been reading. Hopefully you might be inspired to try some of these books yourself, if you haven’t already. 

JANUARY

Revival – Stephen King

revival As we all know, when it comes to horror writing, there aren’t many in the business who can top Mr King for chills and thrills. After taking a break from horror to bring out his detective novel, Mr Mercedes (which is also brilliant, check it out), King has returned in fine form to bring about a fable like tale of a friendship takes some very dark twists and turns. It starts with a young boy who befriends his local pastor and family. As time progresses, tragedy strikes the pastor and he and the boy grow apart. In later years they meet again when the boy, now a drug addicted musician, meet again. What follows is an unsettling and unnerving look at what death and the afterlife hold for us.

This book is King at his best; taking everyday folk and their everyday lives and weaving them into something genuinely menacing, scary and (with the last few chapters of this book) shocking. The way King builds up to the events of the climax means that your constantly  guessing what’s going on and what’s about to happen. By the time I made it to the end I was left shaken to my core. As any horror novel should do, Revival left me with a few sleepless nights but boy was it worth it. This book is emotional, nerve-racking, terrifying and beautifully written. I highly recommend it.

The Copper Promise – Jen Williams

the-copper-promise The best way I can think to describe this book is to paraphrase the tagline for the film Stardust; It’s a fantasy novel that won’t behave.

What I mean is that this book takes some of the classic tropes of the fantasy genre and completely turns them on their head. And thank goodness it does. The big draw to this tale of Dragons, fledgling mages and tomb raiders is the three main characters: Wydrin, a wise cracking mercenary who is always looking out for her next big score; Sebastian, a disgraced knight of an ancient order and Lord Frith, a disposed ruler who is looking to take back his reign and will stop at nothing to get revenge on those who took it from him.  The chemistry between the three is brilliant, cracking dialogue and some fun interaction, along with some surprising actions by some of the characters, this is most fun you’ll have with a fantasy novel for a very long time. Can’t wait to read the follow up, The Iron Ghost. Oh and if Wydrin doesn’t immediately become your new favourite female fantasy character, you haven’t read it properly.

Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart_cover A superhero novel with a difference. Instead of following someone learning to use their superpowers to fight evil and save the world, Steelheart takes us to a future where those with Superpowers are known as epics and they have used their powers to enslave humanity. The book follows a young resistant fighter who holds the key to bringing down one of the most powerful epics, Steelheart.

What’s great about this book, apart from the unique take on a well trodden genre, is its relentless pace. Nearly every chapter is filled with action but in such a way that it propels the narrative and builds the world and the characters. There is nothing that is surplus to the telling of the story and the exposition is scattered throughout, giving us clues to what Steelheart’s weakness as the story unfolds. If you’re looking for something a bit different that’s exciting but not shallow, Steelheart is the book for you.

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

name-of-the-windd1  Another fantasy novel and another original take on the genre. You see, what makes The Name of the Wind unique is its structure. Instead of one straightforward fantasy you get two fantasy stories!

Allow me to explain. It all kicks off with an Innkeeper with a mysterious past. At first he seems perfectly normal but as his village is attacked by giant spiderlike creatures he is revealed to be a living legend and the giant spiders maybe just be after him. Once this is revealed he starts to tell his life story from his days growing up with a troupe of travelling entertainers to his teenage years as a student of magic at the university. The two narratives tie into each both throwing up and answering various mysteries. And, while it is a great story and by the end of it you’re really eager to jump into its sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear, I did find myself struggling with this book slightly.

You see. It has one of the finest openings of a book I’ve ever read; the tension built is palpable and really raises the hairs on the back of the neck. After that when we get into the Innkeepers story, it rolls nicely through his childhood and the tragedy he has to endure and you really feel for him during his time as a homeless street urchin. When he arrives at the university things slow down a bit and sometimes get a bit repetitive. I found myself getting slightly bored with descriptions of the admissions process and the MC worrying about how he would pay his tuition, but once he sets out on a quest to find out what happened at a wedding that seemingly left no survivors, the story picks up pace again and I was once again enthralled in this world and the story unfolding.

Mayhem & Murder – Sarah Pinborough

These are two seperate books but I read them one after the other and I really feel that that is the best way to read them, to get the full chilling effect but here I do look at them separately.

Mayhem

Mayhem_JK1.jpg.size-2301 Mayhem is set during the time of the Jack the Ripper murders and tells the story of a Dr working with the police to uncover the culprit behind another horrific set of murders that are happening at the same time. What Sarah Pinborough has so brilliantly done with this book is to combine a classical murder mystery, that could’ve come from Sherlock Holmes casebook and blended it with a supernatural horror story, so well that you can’t see the joins at all. By the time the killer is revealed you’re nerves are shot and then as the story heads towards our heroes confrontation with said killer, the thrills and terrors come at a relentless pace.

The books other huge draw is the characters. There isn’t any cut and dry, black and white good guys and bad guys in this one. The good Dr’s motives towards the end are sometimes questionable and through the killer’s diary entries we find ourselves sympathising with him somewhat and not sure if he got the fate he deserved. This is something that is expanded one and played with even more in its sequel:

Murder

61XBZxFWBCL Murder picks up some years after the first novel and once again follows the Dr from Mayhem. This time we join him after he is recovering from the events of the first book but soon fate finds him on the other side of the coin, will he be able to free himself and retain his sanity.

Murder is less of a mystery novel than Mayhem. Here the protagonist isn’t on the hunt for a killer. This time he is trying to bury his past and move on with his life but when the demon comes for him, there is no escape. This time around we get a flat out horror story. And man, what a horror story it is. As well as vividly drawing us into the Dr’s descent into madness, Murder deftly intertwines the themes of grief, fear and love. By making the hero of the tale do some truly questionable things you soon wonder if there is any goodness in the world at all. And the more the Dr succumbs to his ‘sometimes literal’ demons, the scarier things become until we come to a truly nail biting, nerve shredding climax. I defy anyone not to look wearily at the next river they come across and to also be cautious next time they look in a mirror. But most of all, I defy anyone not to read these two books and be utterly captivated. I strongly recommend reading them one after the other as it makes for one the best horror stories you’ll ever read.

Thanks for reading.