The evening sun was waning over the abandoned city, and the cats were on the prowl. Leo Socks was walking down what he believed was an empty alley way just minding his cat business when from out of a bin sprang a red fox. Leo regarded the newcomer with consternation. He’d seen foxes before, but few as bold as this one. He was after all deep in cat land.
“Say, what brings you here Mr. Fox?”
The red fox skulked as he crept sideways yet was careful to maintain eye contact with Leo.
“Who are you?” Croaked the fox.
“Socks, Leo Socks,” said the cat coolly.
A broad toothy grin slipped across the fox’s face. Leo instantly recognised the meaning of this grin and bounded forward just as the fox did the same. They connected in mid air except Leo landed on the fox’s back and sprang back off again driving the fox’s nose down into the ground in an dramatically uncontrolled landing. The baffled fox snarled uncomprehendingly at what Leo had just done; cats generally run away from foxes not attack them head on.
“You’re very brave for a cat!” Hissed the red fox. Continue reading “The Tuxedo Terror”
Not a breath of wind touched the brush. The leaves, the branches, the twigs, were united in stillness. Silence was weaved into the black forest like the morning fog. The only sunshine peered in from a road that cut through the trees like a long narrow gash in the woodland. Between the bows the sunlight bled into the darkness and was eventually consumed completely; some two dozen yards therein. On either side of the dirt road the trees stood as though two armies of colossal wooden soldiers were hunched over and facing off from each other. Smaller shrubs and bushes clawed at the edges of the road with their gnarles roots. Slowly the brush was consuming the road and healing the gash in the forest.
From somewhere out of the shadows of the forest crept a man covered in mud and a ragged cloth with twigs poking out of it. In one hand he held an axe, in the other a large circular scythe. He looked first up the road and then down the road. He listened patiently for a while. When satisfied that he was alone he gently placed his axe on the ground and started hacking off the smaller branches of the brush. He worked with speed and skill, but incredibly making hardly any sound. Within half an hour the brush was retreating from the edges of the road and it looked as though the two armies of wooden giants were slowly moving apart from each other. Continue reading “The Horror of Humhyde – Part 1”
Long ago in the town of Marlenburg, there once lived a young woman called Bessica. She was an intelligent and educated woman, but she wasn’t pretty and her name was Bessica. She could not help but notice that all the men of the town ignored her, they liked the prettier women and she was angry with envy. All the men except for Jamie, the fletcher’s son, he liked Bessica and would bring her flowers and sometimes she’d chat to him and tell him of her frustrations. He would listen to her for hours and give her company.
Bessica appreciated Jamie, and although she had no romantic interest in him, being a poor boy, she decided to teach him how to read in return for his companionship. Jamie struggled at first, but soon mastered the alphabet and could read a few simple books and letters by himself. The love and respect for Bessica grew deep and strong in Jamie’s heart, in his eyes she was indeed the most beautiful woman in town. He told her one day that he was so thankful for teaching him how to read, that he wanted to marry her. Bessica told him he was sweet, but that they were not meant for each other.
In truth Bessica felt ugly, she felt insulted that she an educated woman was being completely ignored by all the gentlemen, and she could only be courted by a mere fletcher’s son. She howled with rage at her mirror Continue reading “The Tragedy of Bessica”
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”
My earliest memories were from the nursery. I might have been four or five years old at the time. Guards had come into the building. They were men, big tall men, I don’t remember ever seeing a man before in my life. They came for Mariam, one of the nursemaids. I remember them dragging her kicking and screaming out of the building. Then one of the guards punched her in the face. Her slender frame crumpled to the floor started jerking convulsively. She was silent from that point one. They just dragged her out. I wouldn’t see her again until my first thorning years later.
The other nursemaids gathered us together in the main play room. They gave us children a lecture about the dangers of favouritism. Mariam had been guilty of treating some children better than others. I don’t remember feeling any guilt at the time. Years later though I felt horribly guilty when I realised that I was definitely one of Mariam’s favourites. She used to sneak me in extra biscuits and cuddles at night through the bars of my crib. I would eventually conclude that I was the reason why the guard had punched her. That it was my fault she was gone. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 1”
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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”