Oriana ran back to her father’s factory just around the corner from the street where Kent lived. She hurried up into an office, shut the door, and sat at her table in front of the window. The same window from which she had observed Kent walking by multiple times each day for months on end. This office was not actually hers. It belonged to Maggie, a part time accountant at her father’s factory. Since Maggie only used the office three days a week, Oriana had set up her own space inside it. Oriana had first started coming to the factory with her father when she was just seven years old. Although she had no interest in the manufacturing of paper, its processing, and packaging, nonetheless staying at the factory had always been a desirable place to escape to when she was a little girl. She had her desk for reading and writing, Maggie was grandmother aged and often doted on her, and she also liked walking around the industrial estate observing all the different things that went on in each factory.
Oriana took a loose leaf of paper and started jotting down a few notes about what had just happened. First, Kent did indeed live down Cutters Court. However, this cul-de-sac had some kind of building underneath it. Something big enough for a man like Kent to live in. Some questions started flowing out onto the page from her pen:
Why did Kent live underground? Maybe so he could be in hiding? Was he a fugitive? Could he be a terrorist or a criminal? Continue reading “The Monk – Part 2”
Elwin set down his pen. He looked over the ten or so pages he had just written about his time in the nursery. He took half a dozen slow deep breathes and rubbed his eyes. The room he was in looked different to him now. It was a small room. It wasn’t much more than a meter across and two metres deep. It had a single bookcase, a small writing desk, a small window, and a wooden chair slightly too low for Elwin to sit on comfortably. The bookcase had only about two dozen books on it, but the spare space was filled with various pieces of junk. The kinds of spare parts one might find in a mechanic’s workshop.
Elwin felt the thorn on his left cheek itch. It itched all the time. The itching of the thorns was like tinnitus: it never ceased but often one stopped noticing it was there. He continued reading over his account of living in the nursery when he reached the part about Agatha the thorn over his heart started to twitch and his hands started shivering slightly. He stopped and focused again on his breathing. Long slow deep breaths. It would pass soon, he told himself. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 3”
Oriana perched on the seat of the bus shelter like a cat ready to pounce. Soon enough the object of her interest appeared almost precisely on schedule: A tall skinny man with red hair over burdened with a hiking backpack that was obviously well loaded with goods, and carrying a case of a dozen tins of beans. The man’s clothing was simple, it was also well worn, and his hair looked tangled. It was a rather warm day and the man was clearly suffering from the heat of the day, but still he pushed on with determination. He came to the road he always turned down at this time of day. This was the point Oriana had chosen to intervene. She skipped across the road and brought herself up alongside the man dragging the heavy load.
“Hi!” she chirped
The man looked up at her and blinked before allowing a friendly smile to grace his lips. He returned her greeting politely, but pushed on without asking her any questions. Oriana, who wasn’t used to not being paid attention to, was not sure what she should do next. She found herself just walking uncomfortable next to him. They had walked about a hundred metres in silence before she decided that she hadn’t made this bold move to learn nothing. Continue reading “The Monk – Part 1”
There are few other memories of note that I have of the nursery. Certainly few that are particularly distinct. But in the days leading up to my seventh birthday there was one memory that stayed with me indelibly. I recall feeling terrified and sad for my leaving the state nursery soon. One of the nursemaids noticed and she asked me what was wrong. I told her than I didn’t want to leave, that I was afraid of being thorned. This nursemaid was called Agatha and she had been thorned in her right cheek. The thorn was not a small spot or blemish on the skin. Where the thorn was inserted into the flesh a large black welt appeared. From this black protrusion of the flesh emanated a network of black veins so that Agatha’s entire right cheek was covered in black lines. If I had only had the experience of the other children who were free from such blemishes, I would have thought the sight of a thorn to be disturbing, however, as all the adults had at least one thorn somewhere on their head and so I was accustomed to the sight of them.
Agatha looked anxious for a moment, looking over her shoulder before smiling kindly at me. “This place has become your home hasn’t it?”
“What’s a home?” I asked innocently.
“It’s an old word, long ago people used to live in just one place to grow up in. It was a really small place, nowhere near as big as this nursery. But children would stay with their parents.”
“What are parents?” Continue reading “Thorns – Part 2”
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When the calamity struck Proxima Minor the Ferren guild feared their livelihoods would be the most affected. The Ferren were the miners and refiners of gases, metals, and liquids extracted from the crust of the planet. Their guild motto was, “Everything we have either comes from a plant or a hole in the ground; and we know how to dig.” When the waters approached their mines they moved their homes, refineries, and machinery under ground. Then they sealed themselves in deep underneath the surface. The water from the new ocean above them seeped in, but they pumped that out and built oxygen factories to supply themselves with breatheable air. Safe underground they had access to all the metals, minerals, other chemicals the Comptoni needed to build their machines and with that trade they were able to buy food from the Vegani.
Despite all this, life for the Ferren was not easy. Before the calamity they could do aerial surveys for potential places to build their mines, but now they had no choice but to simply dig and keep digging until they found something worth selling as a refined ore. Places already rich in underground caverns and shafts were the most desirable as they made the process of looking for new ores to extract slightly easier. One such place was underneath the Oblique Plateau where the first waters from the spatial deluge first landed. Perhaps many centuries earlier the plateau had been an ocean, but like Mars the waters had been blown away off the planet into space and lost forever. Continue reading “Space Fall – Part Ten”
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Space was at a premium in the Comptoni underwater settlement of Deliverance. Whereas on Earth a submarine pen would be a large spacious structure for a submarine to emerge into, free of the risk of bumping into other vessels, in Deliverance submarines had a very different function. Underneath Comptoni settlements were a series of large one-way tunnels for submarines to travel through as though they were underground trains. They emerged in tiny rooms that looked remarkably like subway stations. Indeed, passenger submarines that ferried Comptonians from one settlement to another ran frequent routes. The submarine carrying our heroes emerged in one such station pen.
Relieved to get out of the cramped conditions of the submarine the group soon observed that Comptoni settlements were not much spacious. The under water city was full of people sitting and sleeping in the corridors. The overcrowding was deplorable and the faces of the people they passed were long pale and sullen.
“Why is this place so over crowded?” asked Kimberley, “the last time I was here it wasn’t like this.” Continue reading “Space Fall – Part Nine”
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Submarines on Earth are almost exclusively for research if they are small, while if they are large they are almost exclusively for warfare. On Proxima Minor the situation is quite different. When the Ferrens and the Comptoni decided they were not going to leave the surface of the planet, but rather dig in to resist the flooding coming their way, for the first time commercial sized freight submarines had a market. Thus the submarine our four adventurers are currently travelling on is not like any submarine found on Earth. It has a small crew quarters, a humble sized engine, and a massive cargo bay. Like all submarines though it is incredibly cramped for the crew. The room our four adventurers were staying in was tiny but incredibly had four bunk beds crammed into it. There was much curiosity about the latest person to join the adventure. Fiona was an Aeron who had heroically prevented an attempt on Kimberley’s life by one of her guildsmen. Continue reading “Space Fall – Part Eight”