Saturday, 31 October 2015


She wasn’t my first love.

She wasn’t my longest, deepest love.

She was selfish, arrogant, and rude.

She would argue against each of those labels for hours on end.

She took me ages to woo, I had to prove myself over and over again.

She wasn’t worth all that effort.

She didn’t share my interests, she didn’t get my sense of humor, she didn’t like my family, my friends, not even my cat.

She was boring company, most of the time.

She was only a part of my life for four short, painful months.

She has never left my mind.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Birthday Girls

For the first time in a long time, Glory was bleeding, hurting, in pain.

In danger.

She slowly, with great effort, pulled herself to her feet, as around her, the four of them floated to the ground. Back at college, the May 5th Girls had pretty much run the social lives of the entire place, if they decided you were a ‘zero’, you were ostracised before the day was over.

And now, on their twenty-first birthday, they all developed superpowers, and were set to take over the city, or at the very least, kill Glory. They had never liked her or her sister, but Glory hadn’t thought it went this deep.

“Any last words, Slut?” asked Susanna, as she began to form a fireball in her hands.

“Better make them good…” added Alicia, as she mentally spun the zerotium blade floating in front of her.

“Because soon you’ll join your sis…” Felicia chimed in, drawing cosmic radiation into her.

“And we will rule!” Paula finished, electricity flowing throughout her.

Glory sighed, and glanced up at the clock tower.

“One year older.” she muttered, and then sprung forward.

That was when everyone found out the girls’ powers only lasted the day.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Tax Ninja

When the Red Lotus Clan pledged their loyalty to my kingdom, I was told by my advisers to visit one of their training grounds, this was important, apparently.

So I rode over half of my lands to the nearest one. I was met by an attractive, but short, girl who showed me around, although her accent was so strong it was hard to understand her.

Near the end of the tour, she introduced me to their tax ninja, and I chatted about gold for a while.

Turns out he made tacks for ambushes.

But luckily he also handled the accounts.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Out Of Fashion

Since the time I was seven till I was twenty, I was as deep into fashion as the next girl, assuming the next girl was equally obsessive as I. I would ‘borrow’ my older sisters’ magazines, and pour over every photo and article, from the latest couture appliqué experiment to the rise and fall of Zori sandals, I would memorise it all, and tried, desperately, to adjust my clothing to fit.

But eventually I decided it was all a big con, and started dressing for comfort, rather than for aesthetics.

Then the lazy look was suddenly on the cutting edge…

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Tampered Strength

If my strength had come from training or hard work, I’d probably have better control over it. But just being naturally big and strong without any effort, I tend to break things on a regular basis.

Almost never intentionally, you understand. It’s just that when I lean against a wall, I am much more likely to put my hand through it than the average person would.

I’m not saying these things to brag. I’m just trying to explain why I didn’t notice the bottles had been tampered with when I drank them, I’m used to bottles opening easily you see…

Monday, 26 October 2015

Cart Blanched

I was trying to get her to focus on the menu, but she was still going on about how her boyfriend had to be treated like a VIP at the party.

“And he needs to have full unlimited access to the open bar, can we make sure all the waiters know that, he has cart blanched of the event, clear?”

Something inside me snapped.

“Cart blanched?”

She rolled her eyes.

“You know, French for full access. The matron dee needs to know that my boyfriend can-“

“Maître d'. And carte blanche, for that matter.”

“Whatever, just tell everyone printo, ok?”

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Job Security

When robots began to replace humans in warehouses, I didn’t care, those jobs were horrible, people should have it better, and besides, I was safe.

When robots began to replace humans on the battlefield, I didn’t care, that was a good thing, saving lives and all that. Plus I was safe.

Drivers, cooks, cops, nurses, every time another job began to be done by robots, I didn’t care, even when there were marches, riots, uprisings. Other people might have it tough, but my job was always safe. After all, I was an artist.

And then someone built a Van Gobot…

Saturday, 24 October 2015

To Be Freed

I thought I was free.

The ruse had worked, they bought that I’d stolen a boat from the boathouse. By the time I crawled out from the mud underneath it, they must have been miles downstream.

I didn’t bother to clean off the mud, I just threw off what few scraps of material clung to me and began to walk as fast as I could upstream. There was a farmstead over the hill, one that I knew had contacts with the railroad.

Then I heard the crack of a revolver, and pain blossomed across my back.

And I was freed.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Why We Remember The Majestic Timeless Regime

It was the final petty act of defiance from the Majestic Timeless Regime. As the United drones began to conduct bombing raids on their capital, they launched a rocket into the upper atmosphere.

We weren’t sure what it was aimed at, but a gun happy general decided to shoot it down anyway, a cross-planet missile slamming into it in under an hour.

Damn thing was filled with pulse generators and shrapnel mines. Within a week we’d lost three quarters of our satellites.

Still, motivated that kid up north to develop repulser technology, so I guess it was a net gain…

Thursday, 22 October 2015


He was lucky to understand where his journey had begun. But he was even luckier to feel his destination was something he had control over.

He didn’t know where, exactly, he was going. But every step was towards a better place, even if some steps weren’t all that good. For every strong, sure footed footprint in solid ground, there was another step in unstable sand, or onto broken glass, or even at times into the unknown.

He managed to walk a fair distance overall, and his journey was enjoyable, for the most part.

Didn’t see the land mine coming though.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Through The Stomach

There were a few types of events that allowed for discussions and negotiations between nations. Weddings, coronations, funerals were very popular. But I found merchant guild feasts were the best, since you could be sure that everyone was drunk, full, or both.

This year’s one was odd though, as Prince Crason of the Firehill Islands was going around and being very indiscreet, letting slip all sorts of secrets, by the end of the feast I could see there would be several battles and wars in the coming years.

And then Firehill Island merchants revealed this black powder weapon they’d developed…

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Freedom Of Choice

Every morning, without fail, ever since I grabbed her hand and we ran out of the collapsing Temple of the Evil Snake God Mimypn, we would have the exact same conversation, in usually the exact same way.

She would wake me at sunrise, gently brushing my face with her fingers. I would wake, and then my hands would move to her throat, and unclasp the collar wrapped around it.

“You are a free woman.”

She would then wrap her hands around mine and put the collar back on.

“No I’m not.”

I never stopped trying. She never left my side.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Assuming The Worst

She was maybe 5 years old, one hand tightly holding onto the string of a red balloon, the other gripped just as tightly by the middle aged man leading her through the shopping center. They looked nothing alike. My first thought was to think that maybe the child was being lead away from her parents by a stranger, which I then chided myself for. Why did I have to instantly think the worst of people? Maybe she took after her mother. Maybe he was an uncle, or a step-parent. Plenty of explanations.

I should trust my instincts more, with hindsight.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Politically Unmotivated

Grand High General Commander Jafadi strode into his private bathing chamber, letting the bluster of the role of Supreme Ruler slowly leave him as he removed his stupidly ostentatious dress uniform. The clinking of medals hitting the tiles allowed the assassin to sneak up on him, the first he knew of his impeding death was the knife against his throat.

The Ruler didn’t panic.

“If I die, the entire region will descend into chaos, dragging the world into war. Do you-“

The assassin snorted.

“You killed my beloved twenty-five years ago today. The world can go hang.”

The murderer sliced.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Peace Lily

She was the calmest person I ever met. Every moment she was graceful and seemingly in full control of her body, her emotions, her mind.

It was that which made me pursue her in the first place. Too many emotional breakdowns had left me craving calmness. She was reluctant, but eventually she warmed to me.

But eventually, I… I had to make a change.

When her only reaction to me telling her was a soft ‘Very well’, I kinda lost it. After my outburst, she stared, then suddenly screamed for ten long seconds.

“Better?” she asked me.

Somehow, it was.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Bar Tender

Every Friday night, the gang would meet up at their local and claim the same four seats at the bar whenever possible, the last but one seats at the far end. The last one was always occupied by a weird guy in the same coat every week.

Each week was filled with laughter and jokes, and the four of them would usually have a great time.

But one week, they wanted one last round, but no-one had enough cash.

Then the weird guy bought his friends a round.

From then on, the five of them would meet up every Friday.

Thursday, 15 October 2015


His last meal was a somewhat underwhelming ‘gourmet’ chicken sandwich and side of curly fries, with a decent cider to wash it down with.

His last book was ‘Red Dress At Midnight’, a 40’s hardboiled detective ‘novel’ that was as predictable as it was cheap. At least it had a decent car chase near the end.

His last job was a ‘Customer Service Administrator’, a.k.a Complaints Hearer, at the nearest giant mall chain location. It paid the bills, just.

His last thought was ‘BUS!’

His first action after he woke up was to run his ‘hands’ over his new ‘body’.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

In The Cards

Like most of her clan, she could sense the future. And like most of her clan, she needed a way to focus and sharpen her abilities. Some used stones, bones, recently alive animals. But she preferred the cards.

It was traditional, portable, and if she was ever bored she could play Cradle to Grave against herself.

But on this day, the cards made no sense. Even the most disastrous future didn’t look like this. Every negative possible card kept coming out. She wondered if she was just tired.

Wasn’t till the paper cut that she began to take them seriously.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Job Offer

I studied them. Both of them were trying to hide their nervousness, both failing.

“Gareth, Sarah, you’ve both done well as interns with us, and I’d like to offer you both full time positions here. Sadly, we only have one full time position available, and-“

My wife then called, and I had to excuse myself to answer it, assuming it was an emergency.

It wasn’t.

When I came back into the room, Gareth sat alone.

“Where’s Sarah? I want both of you here when I explain how you’ll be sharing your new role here.”

Then I noticed the open window.

Monday, 12 October 2015

And Then...

Most every story has a beginning, a middle, an end.

And then…

But it is foolish to think that they start with the beginning, and end with the end.

And then…

For every story arises from what came before it.

And then…

And every story impacts what comes next, subtly or otherwise.

And then…

With most stories, the origins are simple, and the after-effects obvious.

And then…

But then, most stories are simple and obvious as well.

And then…

That doesn’t mean you stop looking. Stories are nice, but true understanding comes with asking one question.

And then… What?

Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Virus

So many people made plans about what they’d do after the End. How they’d survive the apocalypse.

And yet, there was no way to prevent it, no way to make plans to survive. You were either one of the vast majority of humanity who died from the disease…

Or you just didn’t die.

Of course, a good amount of those who didn’t die from the disease would soon die from mundane disease, accidents and the like. But the ones left over, they got on with surviving as best they could.

Humanity turned out to be pretty tenacious. Almost like… Nah.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Henner & Rancher

Frank Henner was notorious in the Valuable Locating and Transporting world. Certainly if you were looking for someone to quietly and discreetly obtain a Valuable for you, you didn’t even think about him. But if you had money to burn and had a rumor that some ancient artefact was out in the wild, you might get him.

Assuming Tina Rancher didn’t get to it first. Sure, she’s ‘legit’, in the sense that the stuff she finds she gives to her university, assuming she doesn’t blow it up first, or half the country…

Both horrible people.

But my god, their kids…

Friday, 9 October 2015

Rules Are Rules

Old Man Keegan’s cattle were all a few hundred miles from the nearest sheriff. So out here, the law of the land was more a guideline, while Keegan’s Rules were Rules.

Most of them were pretty straight forward, always stay within eyeshot of another cowhand while out tending cattle, no booze on the Sabbath, that sort of thing.

But a couple… I mean, no contact with redskins was a little extreme, and shooting on sight any cattle rustlers was a little extreme.

Still, I never meant to fall for Two Little Feathers. But when I found her with a steer…

Thursday, 8 October 2015


Every day a bunch of new apps and websites would launch, the programmers and dreamers behind each one sure they would change the world.

And every day, a bunch of apps and websites would go belly up.

But while their deaths would take with them hopes and dreams, at least there was ‘A4Effort’, who had a standing offer to buy out any failing web company for peanuts, but that was better than nothing.

The company always claimed it was a public service, keeping the industry from imploding.

But no-one asked what they did with all that customer data.

Might’ve helped.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

A Dry Heat

It had been… days?

He could remember the cold of the night, and how the delight of cooling quickly turned to fear of freezing. And he knew that he’d gone from the eyeball drying heat to the breath catching cold and back again, so it had to be days.

But how many? He didn’t know. All he knew was that he had to keep moving, every inch and foot taking him to her arms. She was waiting for him, she wouldn’t lose faith, he had to keep moving, towards her.

And further away from where the search teams were looking.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Not Alone

There were too many clichéd stories that said that if Humanity ever found out it wasn’t alone in the galaxy, we’d regret it. Far too many bad (and, to be fair, good) movies showed aliens to be distrustful, warlike and out to destroy us.

So, like us, really.

The idea that aliens might wish us well, might help us, that had some play in stories too, but overall it seemed if Humanity found aliens out there, it would be bad.

But far too few people thought about how we’d react to finding them here, on Earth.

Poorly, it turned out.

Monday, 5 October 2015

The 7:24 To CBD

Every workday, two men and two women, each wearing conservative business attire, caught the 7:24 into the CBD.

They would all get off at Central Terminus and then all go separate ways. Every morning, like clockwork.

It took a few months for Gary to break the ice, but pretty soon Rob, Kay and Lucy became firm friends, thankful that none of them worked in the same field.

And while it was a little weird at first, when they became a pair of couples, it just felt right.

Lucy and Kay were Co-Best Women at Rob and Gary’s wedding and everything…

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Killing Time

She was laying at the end of the dock, a foot idly dangling over the edge. She didn’t move as I approached, although when I stood over her she opened an eye.

“Howdy.” she said with usual glibness.

“Isn’t there something better you could be doing with your time?”

This clearly hit home to her, as she opened up her other eye.

“You saying this ain’t important?”

I tried another tactic.

“I’m just saying you could be helping fix the barn wall instead of-“

One of Them emerged from the water and went for her, so we got to killing.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

One Coin, One Song

One coin, one song.

There was always a troublemaker or two who’d ask for the Red Blizzard Saga or Unending Love, but most people would just want the classic bardic tunes. The Dragon Call, Green Hills Under Starlight, The Ballad of Drena and Ednor, stuff like that.

One coin, one song.

And very occasionally, some young novice would pay for her to try out their ‘masterpiece’. She always tried to be kind to them, she remembered when she was young too.

So she didn’t think anything of the chant from the hooded figure.

Most costly one coin she’d ever earn…

Friday, 2 October 2015

Memory Sustaining

The way my wife smiled when my hand touched hers. The sound of my son’s laughter. The hugs my daughter would give me every bedtime.

I had to focus on those memories, they were what kept me going. I couldn’t give in, I couldn’t let this cell break me. That’s what they wanted, me to forget, so I would remember

The way my wife smiled when my hand touched hers. The sound of my daughter’s laughter. The hugs… No, wait

The way my wife smiled when she hugged my son’s daughter…

The way…

The way out is obedience, I know…

Thursday, 1 October 2015


In the grand scheme of stupid things to name your child, Catatonia is defendable. Yes, it’s a stupid name, but it is at least a real word, and one that not too many people know off the top of their head.

Still, when I met Catatonia, I didn’t mention that, I’d spent far too many hours having to defend myself against people whose parents felt they were special snowflakes.

Instead, I murmured something about Greek being a lovely language, and that seemed to work.

We actually got on OK.

Right until she grabbed my arm.

Then we got on better.