Thorns – Part 17

Looking out the window Elwin felt fearful that the old man he had just turned his back on was boring a hole in his back with his eyes. Elwin wanted to look back at him, and at the same time wanted avoid looking in his direction ever again. The train hit a bump and Elwin sneaked a surreptitious peek over his shoulder while everyone was struggling to regain their balance, but the old man was looking elsewhere as though he had already forgotten Elwin had even existed. Relieved by this Elwin looked out the window again and this time with enough presence of mind to notice something as if for the very first time: There by the entrance to the coal mine was a colossal machine.

The machine was technically a vehicle, yet it was taller than most buildings. It could have easily stood eight, nine, or even ten stories high. It towered by the side of the train yard like a gigantic sauropod made from steel and rubber. Instead of jaws it had a huge wheel with a series of buckets built into it. A large conveyor belt ran along the neck section into the body. An immense platform for caterpillar tracks supported the massive apparatus. It had been said in the old times these machines could dig through entire mountains and do the work of ten thousand men in a single hour. Whoever the ancient people were who built these great machines, the secrets of their technology were now long forgotten. No one alive could recall this machine being used. Instead it had been left to gather rust outside the train yard standing as a constant reminder that giants had once walked the Earth. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 17”

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Writer’s Diary: Religious Sci-fi?

Readers of my story “The Monk” might have noticed recently that the story line has moved into the next phase of development. Key parts of the background for the story are being revealed. This is a bit of a new genre because most stories about religion tend to be about existing religions, while for this story I am inventing two entirely new religions that exist in opposition to each other. The clerics of the two faiths are battling with each other and soon there will be a war of words developing as the two faiths battle for the hearts, minds, and souls of the characters.

Fans of the Star Wars franchise will point out that the Jedi and the Sith reflect two opposing religions. However, in no part of the movie franchise do the Jedi and Sith battle out their differences in a debate or dialectical struggle. They just fight violently with each other immediately on contact. This battle of goodies and baddies was enough for me as a child, but as an adult I find myself disturbed by the mindlessness of their constant warfare. The imperial and the republican forces may well represent the globalist and nationalist political forces that have existed throughout human history, but because the movies never delve into depth about the ideology driving the two factions one cannot easily distinguish the two. Luke Skywalker never once shows any remorse for the people he murders throughout the series with the exception of his own father. We never learn about Luke’s thought process, and it’s bothered me whether or not he is actually a good person. Continue reading “Writer’s Diary: Religious Sci-fi?”

Thorns – Part 6

When Elwin reached the door to his apartment, he deliberately slowed down his footsteps. The light was on inside. He listened at the door but heard nothing. This was not a good sign, so he poked his head through the small dirty window into the multipurpose room. He gasped audibly for staring straight back at him through the window was the sour face of his face wife, Holda. He had been seen; there was no point in him trying to avoid this any longer, he had to step into his apartment and face her. The thorn in his leg ached and his leg started shivering uncontrollably. Once he was inside the apartment he closed the door silently while looking down on the ground before him: avoiding all eye contact with Holda as she glared venomously at him. His leg was shaking uncontrollably as it did when he was afraid.

Holda was sitting in one of the plain chairs next to the table. She was a large woman, large enough that her frame from shoulders to hips was an almost perfect square. Her flesh seemed to bunch up near her joints and when ruffled he would pull her head back creating a second chin. Her hair was dark and curly, while her small dark eyes blazed with malignant intensity. She was thorned in her throat so most of her face was clear. However, several black filaments reached over the top of her chin terminating in her lower lip. She was pinching her thin lips as she watched Elwin walk in half dragging his shaking leg. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 6”

Thorns – Part 3

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”

Thorns – Part 2

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”

Space Fall – Part Ten

spacefall-lowresThis is the last part of this story! Want to read the whole story from the beginning? Click here!


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”

Space Fall – Part Nine

spacefall-lowresWant to start at part one? Click here!


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”