Friday, September 20, 2013

Not Guilty

Chapter 1: A Slip-up

   When I was wrongly convicted of homicide, I was sentenced to life with no chance of parole or early release, and taken to Red Canyon maximum security prison. Now you may think I'm lying and compare me to all the other guys in the prison, but I AM innocent. So you've heard this one before, right? Well you'd be wrong. It started when I uncovered some dirt on the company I was working for. It was by sheer accident too.
I was in the washrooms taking a leak when the deputy director came in through the door. A fat guy with greasy brown hair dressed in a pinstripe gray suit. He was carrying some documents under his arms. As he stepped up to the urinal he gave me a friendly nod. There was something not right though, and he had a look on his face that suggested he was pissed off about something. I suppose we all get that way though. Next thing was he started grimacing in pain and grabbing at his chest. I don't know if it was fear or confusion, but initially I just stood there and watched him. It wasn't till he fell to his knees I realized it was a heart attack. I ran for the door to call for help but just then it swung open, and in walked the boss himself.
He had taken me by surprise and I stumbled backward and slipped on a patch of wet floor and landed next to the poor deputy in the middle of having a heart attack. The boss' face turned from a look of anger to horror as he raced over to lend assistance.
"What are you doing man? He's having a heart attack," he said looking down at me.
I stood up and looked down at him as he writhed a few more times then stopped moving. The whole time the boss was knelt over him trying to do chest compressions. It was then it caught my eye, printed as plain as day on one of his documents, which were by that time scattered on the floor.
"Dear Mr. Gray I am writing to inform you that we have received your money and our man will be paying the guy and his family a visit. If he has indeed jeopardized your company’s arms deal with the New World Revolutionaries then removing of him will be necessary. What's more..."
"What the hell are you looking at, go get help for Christ sake!" The boss yelled. “Call 911 or something!”
He was a tall, well-built man, and not the sort of guy you wanted to mess with. Besides, in my head he now was guilty of supporting terrorism and possibly other acts of crime. This made him even more imposing, and I found myself instantly on the defensive.
"Uh, right sorry Sir. I'll get on to it right away."
Of course by that time it was too late and the guy was as dead as a doornail. His panicked eyes staring motionlessly at the ceiling of the washroom.
"Wait! What were you looking at a moment ago?"
"Me? Nothing just shocked that's all, staring into space."
"Nothing eh. You know he's dead because of you."
"Because of me, he had a heart attack Sir."
"You just stood there and did nothing," he balled, as he hurriedly picked up all the papers.
"Take the rest of the day off, I want you out of my sight."
"Sure, I'm..."
"Just get out!"  
I wasn't going to argue, and what's more I did not know if he clocked me looking at the letter. Surely if it was true I might end up having someone paying me and my family a visit. I wanted to get out as soon as I could so I left and headed back home. As I walked I could not help but think about all that had happened that morning. I mean our company was famous for the production of machinery and computer parts, but weapons? That was the first I'd heard. Right now, I feared for my life. It was like something out of one of those movies and I found myself nervously looking around for signs that I was being followed. I began to think about people I could talk to. I thought about the police, but just like in the movies, what if they had half if not all the force on their payroll. It would certainly not be unlikely given the size of the company I worked for. Talking to the police soon became a bad idea. I thought about other law enforcement agencies like the Feds, but how would I prove a thing? It was my word against theirs, a multimillion dollar company.
It wasn't till I got home and was pacing in worry that I remembered my sister's husband's brother. He was a lawyer in the biggest court in the city. Surely I could trust him, and perhaps he too had contacts that could fix things. I decided that I would go see him that very next morning.

Later that night I was sat on the sofa and my eyes had begun to get heavy and I started to drift off to sleep. Suddenly the phone rang and I stood up with a jolt. Do I answer it? I thought to myself. Well it might be my wife or anything. I really missed her and her business trip in England had lasted a lot longer than originally planned.
"Hello," I said through the handset, as I lifted it to my ear.
"Hello, Patrick. I wanted to talk to you about today."
"Oh, Mr. Gray hello,"
"I'm terribly sorry for shouting at you, it wasn't professional. You must have been shocked at what happened and I wanted to check you were alright."
"You did?"
I knew there was something else. For him to suddenly be so nice and call me at this time of the night all seemed too odd. Perhaps I was just paranoid, but I could not forget the letter I had seen. The question was, was did he know I'd seen it.
"Yes, you looked shocked to me and even on the verge of passing out. When we get like that sometimes we see things, strange things," he continued.
"You mean like, hallucinations?"
"Yes, something like that. I saw it on the discovery channel."
Now I'm a fan of the discovery channel and had seen all their episodes and I knew for a fact that this was not true. Perhaps he had his sources mixed up or perhaps my mind did concoct the letter from movies I've seen in the past.
"To tell you the truth Patrick I think you deserve some rest for a while. I'm sending a therapist to you. He will make sure you're alright to work."
"You are? What time is he coming?"
"Now, he's on his way now."
"But it's 12:40 am."
"He's a friend of mine, really it's no problem."
Alarm bells started ringing in my head. This was not right. No therapist came to your house at 12:40 am.
"Oh right, thank you Mr. Gray,"
I had to get out of the house fast. I'd seen things like this before and it never ended well.
"Yep, well thank you. I have to go now."
"Okay, take care Patrick."
The phone line went to the dial tone. For a few seconds it buzzed away in my ear as I stood there thinking. Eventually I dropped the receiver and ran to pack my rucksack I used for hill walking in the summer.
It had been a full year now since my wife Anna had gone to England we missed this summer’s trip to the hills together. Perhaps I could go and see her, I thought. Perhaps I could flee to England and get away from all this. I needed to get ready first. I needed to make sure I was safe, and then I would give her a call.
Suddenly there were sounds of screaming. Shivers ran up my spine and I froze on the spot. The screams had come from next door in my neighbor’s house. Jane and Adam, they had two kids. A boy and a girl both aged about five years old. Could it be connected to me? I thought. I shuddered, and wished that perhaps they were watching some horror on TV with the volume up too load, but deep in my mind I knew this was not true and something more sinister was happening.
Next there was a knock at my door.
"Hello, hello. Patrick, are you there? It's Michael. I'm the therapist that Mr. Gray sent. Are you still awake?" came a deep voice from down by the door.
I pulled the bedroom curtains aside and looked down. The guy standing at the door was about six foot and fairly slim built. He wore a brown trench coat, black beanie hat and round glasses. There was no sign of anything odd. He seemed to sense my gaze because he turned to look up at the window and smiled. Could I be going mad? Perhaps Mr. Gray was right. No, he wasn't right and I had to get out fast.
I finished stuffing a few more clothes into my rucksack and sprinted down the stairs. As I reached the bottom I noticed the door was wide open. He has somehow picked the lock as there was no sound or sign of him breaking in. I had realized too late however and I heard the cocking of a pistol right at the side of my head.
"So, Mr. Hunt. It seems that you have made some people very very unhappy. So here’s how it’s going to work. You will walk over and quietly sit on the couch. Try anything funny and I'll decorate your walls in red. Catch my meaning?"
"Perfectly, please don't kill me. I don't know what's going on. I did not see anything."
"Who said anything about seeing something?"
"I, I just…"
"You just assumed right. You know what they say about assumption? That it’s the mother of all fuckups and that Mr. Hunt is how I know you’re lying to me. Get over on the couch."
"Oh god, please!"
"Move!" he said harshly.
To tell you the truth, I was scared shitless. Don't let anyone tell you they're not scared to have a gun to their head. Naturally I obeyed and dropped my bag and slowly headed for the couch.
"Now sit down," he ordered with a wave of the handgun.
I sat on the couch and he sat opposite me on the coffee table.
"We know you saw something you were not supposed to. We don't know how much but it's enough. We also know you have no evidence against us, so there really is nothing you can do. We are concerned you blab about it to someone who may believe you and start some kind of investigation. So I'm here to stop that. Do you understand?"
"Does that mean you’re going to kill me?"
"No, killing you might look suspicious. We know how stressful your job is and we know your wife is in England and you miss her terribly. Who knows, maybe she’s really left you and gone off to start seeing another man. That would make you really angry wouldn't it? Also Mr. Gray has told the company psychiatrist he witnessed you acting irrationally. Quite frankly Pat, you’re going mad. You've losing your mind," he said as he removed the silencer from his gun and rubbed it down with a cloth. “The stress of life is all too much and you feel like you’re losing control.”
"But I'm not mad! I know my wife is working!"
"We'll see about that. For now I'd simply like you to leave your house. Go see your two timing wife, go jump of a bridge. Anything you want, just don't go back to work and don't do anything stupid, like trying to kill Mr. Gray or make him look bad, because if we meet again I will pull the trigger."
"You're letting me go?"
"You heard me, get out of here."
I felt it was probably too good to be true. Part of me wanted to stay in the house. I actually feared leaving. I only paused for a moment however, before I eventually ran and grabbed by bag and headed for the door. I sprinted up the street as fast as I could and didn't look back. I only stopped when I ran out of breath. In the rush I had forgotten my cell phone. Still it did not matter, I knew Anna's number by heart and there was a row of pay phones another three blocks away.
My luck was about to get worse however. Just when I neared the phone the sound of police sirens wailed up the streets. It was only seconds before I saw the flashing blue lights. A squad car pulled up right next to me on the street and the two troopers appeared, shielding themselves behind the car doors.
"Reach for the weapon slowly and place it on the ground before you. Then take twelve steps back!" they demanded with guns drawn.
"I'm not carrying a weapon," I called back, squinting through the light of the car's head beams.
"Then get on the floor and place your hands behind your back or we will open fire."
I really had no choice but to obey and slowly lowered myself to the floor. The nearest trooper ran for me and sticking his knee in my back and holding the gun to my head he cuffed me and dragged me to my feet.
"Mr. Hunt I am arresting you on suspicion of homicide. You have the right to remain silent, anything you do say may be used against you in the court of law. You have the right to an attorney and if you can't afford one then one will be appointed to you."
"I didn't do it!" I cried out.
It was no use. He ignored me and after searching me for a weapon and finding nothing, he dragged me off and threw me in the back of his squad car.  

To be continued...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Cafe

If people want a quiet cup of coffee they often come to Kevin and Lulu's coffee shop, 'Relaxing Roast'. The inside is cosy and warm, not like the sort of big brand name coffee houses that are common place these days. Relaxing Roast's interior gives it a real small town Italian feel with its rustic decor. It even has a small fire place for those extra cold evenings. Most importantly is that Kevin and Lulu always make everyone feel most welcome there, providing customers with soft music, books to read and friendly chit chat.
This day of April passed just like any other for most. Kevin and Lulu had no reason to suspect otherwise until much later in the day. It all started when a pretty woman of around twenty six years old strolled into the cafe. Just like everyone else, whether they were a regular customer or passing through, she had obviously come to sip on a nice hot cup of fresh roasted coffee. The woman had long blonde hair that hung loose about her shoulders and was wearing a flowery summer dress and a small denim jacket. As she entered there was a ding from the doorbell and Lulu looked up at her from the serving counter. The woman approached with her hands in her pockets and gave Lulu a little smile.
"I'll have a large mocha please and a chocolate muffin," said the woman after she had reached the counter.
"Please, have a seat and I'll bring it out to you, you can pay after. Kevin is just checking the till at the moment," replied Lulu with a smile. She turned around and started making the woman's coffee.
As Kevin was stocking the till he looked up at the woman who was walking over to an empty table by the window. She had a kind of strange shuffle in the way she walked and dragged her feet a little. She finally sat at a little round table and turned her chair so she could see out of the window. Lulu headed out with the woman's coffee and put it on the table in front of her, along with the muffin and a small book. The woman did not even say a word but her eyes gazed at some distant point outside in the street.
"A book I thought you might like. Lots of people are reading it at the moment. It's called Dark Drive, it's a sci-fi book," said Lulu as she walked away to serve some other customers.


"Wait Frank, I'm sorry dinners not ready... I just," cried the woman.
"Just, just what? You got a sore stomach again? Well I had a rough day at work and I'm starving and all you can think of is your self." His angry voice echoed through the little house, something the neighbours were all used to hearing.
From outside the house there was more screaming and shouting followed by a loud crashing noise as some pots were flung to the floor. One neighbour who was passing by looked toward the house in worry as she heard the sound of the woman crying hysterically.


Kevin had now taken a seat at the piano. A little upright that stood in the corner of the cafe. He lifted up the lid and began to play a few notes. He then slowly drifted into Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata first movement. Lulu looked up and smiled, it was one of her favourite pieces of music for the piano. The woman at the window seemed to like it too as her foot wagged in time with the beat of the music and she turned her head slightly in Kevin's direction as she took a sip from her coffee.


"I always hate it when you do that!" Frank shouted angrily.
This time woman and Frank were just out the front of the house in the front garden. She was hanging out some laundry as it as a pleasant day and Frank had been sitting drinking a beer before he had got up to speak.
"Do what?" the woman replied.
"Fold the clothes like that when you hang them on the line!"
Some of the neighbours had now heard the shouting and were looking across from their gardens and out there windows. Frank shouted over to them to mind their own business.
"If you don't like the way I do things then why don't you do it yourself," and with that she through the clothes onto the ground and ran into the house on the brink of tears. Frank stormed in after her.


As the notes played out on the piano some of the other customers had looked up to listen to the music. It was just getting to the interesting and emotionally rich and fast paced third movement. Another two customers had entered and Lulu went back to the counter. She passed the woman sat at the window and gave her a smile. This time she smiled back a little as if the music had eased something inside of her. The two other customers who had just entered are regulars and they greeted Lulu with a smile and the usual talk about weather. They are a local elderly couple that stays only a few streets away. While they were standing at the counter they looked back and saw the younger woman at the window.
"That woman there, I feel so sorry for her. You know I hear her husband yells at her almost every day," said Betty, leaning over toward Lulu and speaking softly.
"Now now dear, don't start talking about other peoples business," Betty's husband said shaking his head in disapproval.
"Oh, Tom I'm sure she's just concerned," Lulu said looking at Betty and smiling.


"Please don't!" cried out the woman.
Frank had her by the hair and threw her against the wall of the house. The impact put a dent in the plaster and the woman fell to the floor and cowered in a pile not daring to look up.
"I've told you not to call him, you stupid bitch!" Frank thrust his foot forward and kicked her in the side.
The woman reeled in pain and cried out. Tears streamed from her eyes and she begged for him to stop any further onslaught.

The music had now died down in to Fur Elise and was just coming to a close. Lulu was stood next to the elderly couple who had sat down in the middle of the cafe and was still talking away. The face of the woman by the counter was still plank and staring out of the window. Suddenly the sound of police sirens echoed through the street. Kevin stopped playing the piano and diverted his attention out the window. Lulu and many of the other customers had done the same, all except one.
The woman at the window stood up and placed her coffee cup on the table. It was covered in blood. Blood, which was also all over the woman's hands. There were also spatters on her summer dress, well hidden amongst the flowery pattern and not noticeable at first glance. She stood up and headed for the door leaving some money on the table.
"Goodbye Frank," she muttered to herself as she left the little coffee shop.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Present Tense

It was here and it was there,
in fact it was almost everywhere.
When I saw it I squirmed,
then I wriggled and I wormed.

It sat so ghastly on the page,
It sent me into frightful rage.
With its, I’m doing this,
and I know you don’t like it.

I’m sitting right here on your page,
its just become my rightful stage.
‘I see you are so angry,
Let me stay I’m more than handy.’

Have you guessed what troubles me?
Probably not unless you see,
it’s present tense that bothersome bee,
Get lost now! I’ve deleted thee. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Void Space

Available to buy full novel at:

Chapter 1: Tironus Arrival

Sector Hotel 5, 22650525: 12:10 hrs, Nova IV orbit, Nova System, just on the edge of N.E.C space.
“Warning… warning, decaying orbit. Warning… warning, decaying orbit,” echoed the voice of the ships computer, over the sound of the wailing emergency siren.
There appeared to be no life on board this once fully functional freighter. It was steadily drifting closer to burning up in the atmosphere of the giant gas planet, Nova IV. There seemed to have been a battle only a few hours previous, with the attacker leaving the stricken ship to the harsh environment of space. Life support gasses were seeping out from several areas of the ship. A multitude of debris randomly floated about the lifeless vessel. Some of the debris burst into flames as it entered the lethal atmosphere of Nova IV.
Despite all odds there actually seemed to be movement from inside the freighter. Collapsed on the floor, close to a wrecked control panel was a human life form. A tall medium built man of about thirty years old with short brown hair. He was wearing black trousers and a light brown jacket. His clothes were covered in sweat and dirty marks and had clearly not been changed in months. He started to stir in amongst the tangle of wires that had spilled out from the control panel.
“Computer, damage report,” the man groaned as he came to. His voice was rough and weak and grated out each word.
“Entering critical orbit of Nova IV, life support failing, weapons down, engines down, displacement drive down, hull breaches detected, estimated time to impact on atmosphere two minutes.”
“Are there functioning escaped pods?”
“Pods one two and four are damaged, three appears to still be operational.”
Gathering all strength he had left, the man slowly stood up and braced himself on the control panel. Looking around confusedly in the dim light and smoke he saw the emergency lights marking out the path to the third escape pod. The distance he had to cover was very short but littered with wires, broken support beams and other general mess. Looking around he noticed that he was the only life on board the ship. He hurriedly staggered across what was left of the cockpit and weaved his way in and out of the severed electrical wires that would occasionally throw out a spark.
“Forty seconds remaining.”
He fumbled with the escape pod control panel but it seemed to be damaged. No matter what he tried the doors to the pod would not open. He tore the charred panel from the wall in anger.
“Thirty seconds remaining”.
He stood for a second or two as if he was trying to recall something. He was not ready to give up the fight just yet. He grasped a handful of wires that were feeding the panel. First he pulled out a red and an orange wire from the cluster then stripped the ends with his teeth and twisted them together. Plucking out a yellow wire he again stripped the end.
“Fifteen seconds remaining.”
He rubbed the yellow wire with the two combined red and orange wires and the door hissed open. He quickly threw himself into the pod and immediately hit the launch button. Lucky for him, the launch angle fired the pod away from the planet. The pod’s afterburners activated and quickly thrust clear of the doomed vessel and hot gas planet. Looking out of the window he saw the freighter falling victim to the atmosphere and bursting into flames as it broke up. He checked the navigation computer which marked the closest inhabited planet as Tironus, the second planet in the Nova system and some seven AU away. The viewing screen showed it as a small tidally locked planet orbiting its red dwarf sun. Even though he was in the Nova system it would still take a further three weeks without displacement drive. After attaching a couple of monitoring probes to his body the man activated the pod’s stasis system, then quickly drifted off to sleep.
Once the pod had reached a good distance from the planet a civilian Gunship class vessel crept out from behind one of Nava IV’s moons. It made a quick flyby of where the stricken ship had been before it finally turned away and slipped into Void Space.

Planet Tironus, Nova System, 22650615: 09:40 hrs, 3 weeks later
It was a fine evening on the planet of Tironus, its red sky broken by a few clouds. In the skyline, what initially looked to be a meteor broke through the atmosphere. Its speed was far greater than that of a ship on a correct landing vector. Its approach was spotted by a Torvan who had been in the middle of fishing on Lake Trill. He caught a glimpse of it just as it splashed down on the lake’s surface. It skipped along a few times before hitting the soft banking and coming to a sudden stop in a cloud of steam. The lizard like Torvan turned his elongated head and fixed his large reflective black eyes on the fallen object. He turned his boat in its direction and started rowing.
It was white in colour and the outer metal plating was hot from re-entry. The water around it had begun to bubble and hiss and throw up even more steam. The Torvan recognized the fallen object as an escape pod. Its size was not much bigger than that of his fishing boat. On the side was written, ‘GZ-707 Pegasus’. Most likely the name of the ship from which the pod originated. Suddenly there was a popping sound from inside the pod, followed by a long hiss as the pod decompressed. The hatch flew open and a sleepy looking man rose up and staggered out from inside. He was still not yet fully aware of his location or the Torvan that was floating only a few meters from his vessel.
“Roughss landing humanss?” the Torvan said in a snake like hiss followed by a slight grin.
The man got a fright and jumped a little, instantly looking more awake than he did only moments ago.
“The stasis system is supposed to wake me up before I reach the planet. I guess that’s not functioning correctly either. At least I’m on the right planet, I think. Allow me to introduce myself, I’m… god dam it, you know I can’t remember,” he replied clearly trying to recall anything of his past. His voice was now a little less rough and sounded stronger than it had before. Its deep tone suited the man’s muscular figure.
“Well my name’s Davark. Please to meetss you humanss even ifss the situationss is a little oddss. My hovercraft is just across the lakess. I’ll takess you backss to Fara City. It’s only a few hours from heress.”
“Thanks Davark, greatly appreciated.”
The man crouched back into the cockpit and pulled out a small backpack and a blaster pistol. He swung the pack onto his shoulders and slipped the blaster into a holster which hung at his right hip. Davark rowed his boat to the side of the pod and waved the man to jump on board. He leaped from the muddy banking onto the little rowboat. With superior strength Davark pushed off from the bank and launched the boat some seven meters into the lake, spinning it to face the opposite direction. As he rowed, the boat thrust forward at quite a speed through the crystal clear waters of Lake Trill. Ripples that spread out from the boat sloshed against the side of the banking in little waves.
“So what brings you out here then, Davark?” started the man.
“I’m fond ofss the old ways, fishingss is my hobbyss. Besides you canss catch some big fish heress in Lake Trillss. My family likes eatingss fish so it’s goodss for me too, I thinkss.” He paused for a moment and looked up at the sky then back to the slowly disappearing escape pod. “So humanss, may I ask whyss you are heress? I’m guessing you are notss a normal traderss.”
“In all honesty Davark, I can’t tell you. Not because I don’t want to but because I can’t remember. The last thing I recollect is waking up on a wrecked freighter which was in decaying orbit around Nova IV. I narrowly escaped becoming fried and programmed the pod to come here. I did notice the name on the pod. The freighter must have been called the Pegasus. Though I’m not sure what I was doing on board.”
“I suggestss you make your wayss to the planetary arrivals and departures office in Farass. They mightss have some recordss of the freighterss if it has beenss here beforess,” replied Davark after a moment of deliberation.
As the boat neared the other end of the lake a small jetty sticking out from the banking came into view. Parked alongside the jetty was some kind of large metallic platform-craft. To the front of the platform was a glass shield with a control panel and various levers. At the rear was some sort of laser cannon. The platform-craft was a dull metallic colour and stood out from the rest of the dark coloured fauna like a sore thumb. After a few more sweeps of the oars the rowboat bumped up against the side of the jetty. Davark moored the little boat and they both clambered up the ladder onto the platform of what appeared to be a type of hovercraft. The man looked around hoping for a seat to take a rest in, but he had no such luck. Instead he was left to brace himself against one of the railings. Davark pulled the throttle lever back and the engines started to let out an electrical buzzing sound. Slowly but surely the hovercraft began to rise into the air. With each meter or so it gained, the sound of the engines also rose in pitch, until they had eventually broken into a faint humming. The craft reached an altitude of about thirty meters before moving forward. It started at a slow pace but after about a minute had passed, it had gathered a fair momentum. To those on board the surrounding scenery passed with a blur.
They had been cruising at full speed for a good few minutes, before Davark had started to look a little nervous. He glanced over to his right side and out into the horizon several times. From about a quarter of a kilometre away, he spotted three smaller craft closing in. They had initially been camouflaged by the vegetation below. The approaching craft were incredibly fast and it would not be long till they had made up the ground and were right on their tail.
“We’ve gotss incoming humanss. I did not tellss you but we’re in the Tironus Wastelands. Raiders from the Bone clan inhabitss this place. They kill on sightss. They’re outcasts from main societyss for various crimes. Better takess hold of thatss cannon humanss. I hope you have notss forgotten how to use thatss too.”
The three craft were now right on their tail. The man took hold of the cannon and rotated to face the attackers. It was the raiders however that opened fire first. Bursts of red lasers whizzed past the man and struck the deck of the hovercraft, leaving charred impact marks. One shot passed through the shield on the front of the hovercraft and it shattered into pieces, showering the pair in broken glass. In retaliation the man fixed on the closest craft and opened fire. As he pulled the trigger the nozzle of the gun started to spin. This was followed by a rapid popping sound that came from the muzzle of the gun as it showered the enemy in streaks of yellow laser fire. The shots hit home and the front of their craft exploded, sending chunks of debris into the marsh below.
“On the right humanss!” Davark yelled.
The man swung the gun to face right but it was too late. The raiders fired again and this time damaged more than just the deck of Davark’s craft. Black smoke trailed out the rear, leaving a line across the sky. It was a risky move by the raiders, and in attacking with such aggression they had presented themselves as a target. The man seized the opportunity and fired a short burst, sending yet another craft and its crew to the marshes below. Seconds after, Davark and the man were both knocked off their feet. The final raider craft had rammed the side of their hovercraft in an effort to knock them out of the sky. A perhaps logical plan considering they were outgunned and already losing. The raider piloting the craft grinned with enjoyment at the thought that he may actually succeed. Without thinking and still lying on the floor from the shock of being rammed, the man with no name whipped out his blaster pistol. Bringing it to aim he fired a single shot right between the pilots eyes and wiped off his smug grin. With nobody controlling it the raider craft broke free and spiralled out of control, throwing the rest of the raiders some thirty meters to the ground below.
The man stood up and holstered his plaster pistol. Dusting himself off, he said in surprize, “You come here to fish?!”
“Yes humanss, they don’t often bother me. I have had encounters but nothingss like thatss. Perhaps they weress looking for youss?”
“You might be right Davark. Sorry to cause you trouble. I am indebted to you.”
“Haha, don’t worry aboutss it humans just see ifss you can reach the damage and fix itss. If notss we’ll have to landss. Not the best ideass to stop heress.”
“I think I can reach, just slow your speed a little.”
“Good humanss, here take this repair kit,” said Davark while removing a tool box from a hatch in the floor. He slid it across the deck and the man caught it then dangled over the edge to begin his repair.


The hovercraft was now flying over dense jungle just a few meters above the tops of the tall brown trees. The trip was almost over and despite the small red sun being high in the sky, Davark’s watch showed that evening was fast approaching. On Tironus there is no sunset or sunrise and the sun stays locked in the same place, day in and day out.
The large black glass like spheres of Fara City had just begun to come into view in the not too distant skyline. As they got closer they could make out ships of all different size, shape and class weaving in and out of the city walkways that connected the spheres.
“There is Fara City humanss. I’m gladss I could help youss. Don’t worry aboutss the damage to my craftss. Without you accompanying me I would most likely bess a charred mess on the marsh floor of the wastelandss. So I have you to thankss that I’m still alive.”
“Thanks Davark. I’ll see you around. Be careful in those wastelands.”
“I will humanss. I hopess you find out your namess and what you were doingss on board the Pegasus. Rememberss to stop by the planetary arrivals and departures office.”
“I will do.”
The craft arrived at a small landing platform. Once in position it slowly descended and came to a stop. As the engines powered down the humming sound gradually faded away. The landing pad looked to be a busy place and several other similar hovercrafts and speeders were parked nearby. Towering above the platform was one of the large black spheres, supported by a thick white pillar. Reflected in its shiny surface was the surrounding jungle and city. It had a kind of fish eye lens feel about it. John looked up at it as they landed. Glancing around the city John could see it was bustling with life. This was of course quite normal for a destination as common as Tironus. Especially because the planet lies right beside the border between N.E.C an Alliance space.
Davark and the man climbed down from the hovercraft and parted ways, both looked back and gave a small wave. Davark headed for the large sphere where his house and family were waiting for him, and the man strolled over to a speeder taxi sitting for hire a few meters off.
The waiting speeder was nothing more than a flying motorbike. Its slim shape built for dodging through the traffic at high speeds.
“Nearest cantina please,” said the man as he swung his leg onto the speeder. The words came out his mouth quickly as if he hadn’t thought much about it and he knew where he was going.
“Strack na va cradits humoos?” asked the Torvan driver.
“Umm, I’m not local. Nearest cantina please.”
“Credits humanss!?”
“Oh, do I have credits, right? Well I might look a little rough but I’m not a tramp. Alliance credits okay?” questioned the man looking mildly confused.
“Ssssss okayss five credits,” replied the Torvan holding out his hand.
Reaching into his bag the man pulled out five credits. Clearly not knowing how much he actually had, he took a quick count. Fifteen thousand Alliance credits bound together in a large wad. The man held out the five credits and the driver plucked the note away with his large scaly hand. With the flick of a switch he powered up the speeder. It took mere seconds for it to lift off the platform and enter the stream of traffic. Almost instantly reaching top speed it sped off towards the cantina, despite Davark’s advice to go to the planetary arrivals and departures office.


The music resonates in my ears, through the headphones that block out reality.
Its beat setting the pace,  as my feet pound another thirteen miles of pavement.
They slam into the ground like a crazed jack hammer, oppressing the thoughts that trouble me.
Stamping them deep into the tarmac, like the rubber from my shoes.
Gone from my memory along with emotion, hoping not to crack the earth.
Eventually erupting into an earthquake.

The Spark

Standing for a moment, it catches my eye.
A tiny spark, jumping from the within the fire.
It was once lost, amongst the flames.
But now it shines brightly, alone from the rest.

Something so tempting, as it glows in the dusk.
The time I spend gazing, uncovers much more.
Reaching out, and hoping not to get burned.
Quickly reveals, it can't be had.

Like the fire itself, not to be tamed.
Soon to drift out of reach, away from the heat.
Up through my fingertips, and into the sky.
Across great oceans, far from my life. Leaving a hole, where it once burned.

Perhaps to return, and again catch my eye.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mamayev Kurgan

Chapter 1

8th of September 1942

    The moon shone brightly in the night’s sky its cold light illuminating the now ruined city. Piles of debris and half destroyed buildings cast heavy shadows across the bleak landscape. It was the bombers from the Luftwaffe that had reduced Stalingrad to such a sorry state on the 23rd August 1942. The threat had not ceased and danger from further bombing continued. The bodies of fallen German and Russian soldiers lay scattered on the streets. Their faces lifeless and grey like the city itself, a macabre reminder of those that had already given their lives in the battle of Stalingrad. In the background gunfire cracked and echoed off the crumbled buildings and interrupted the otherwise dead atmosphere.
    Amongst the rubble stood a factory that had not yet been destroyed that was once responsible for producing T-34 tanks. Black marks dirtied the outside walls where fires had previously burned during the firestorm caused by the heavy bombing. Scattered at its base lay broken glass from the small windows that ran most of the way along the factory wall, only a few of which where still in tact. In places sat various parts once used in the process of building tanks, which now only contributed to the piles of rubble. From its windows a low light shone through, voices of both men and woman heard from inside. The factory had become a barracks for soldiers and those aiding the red army’s war effort. Within its walls was the 13th guards rifle division who had seen heavy action earlier that day.
    A door on the east side of the factory creaked open and out stepped a soldier. He was a tall man with dark brown hair dressed in a dark green uniform. His attire was worn and had seen better days. Over his shoulder was slung a Mosin Nagant rifle. He looked tired and rather distant as though something was playing on his mind. Walking slowly forward he looked up into the sky and exhaled loudly as if letting off steam. He was heading across the street to a line of sandbags, as he did so he carefully scanned his surroundings. Moments later another man stepped out from the same door. He was somewhat shorter than the first with black hair and wore a similar uniform but it was in much better condition, though not without the odd scuff. The emblems on his jacket identified him as a lieutenant. He looked over to the first man who was stood at the sandbags and then made his way towards him. As he walked he carefully took a packet of cigarettes from his front jacket pocket. The man by the sandbags turned round to see the officer approaching.
    “Sir!” the man said abruptly and saluted to the officer with his right hand.
    “At ease Kupetsky, it is I who should be saluting you after your efforts today,” said the officer as he offered the open pack of cigarettes to Kupetsky.
    “Thank you sir,” replied Kupetsky as he plucked a cigarette from the packet.
    The officer took a box of matches from his back pocket. He carefully opened them and struck one against the side of the box. He held the match in his right hand and shielding the flame with his left he reached out and lit Kupetsky’s cigarette and then his own.
    “Nickolai Kupetsky isn’t it?” the officer asked in a friendly manner.
    “Yes sir it is.”
    “I owe you my life Nickolai. After that sniper shot dead our sergeant I thought I was surely next. If it wasn’t for your quick shooting I don’t think I would be standing smoking here with you now,” the officer explained in an appreciating manner.
    “Just doing my duty sir.”
    “Please call me Mikhail, its Mikhail Ovsianikov,” he said in a pleasant tone.
    “Thank you Mikhail,” replied Nickolai looking far more relaxed.
    “After today I’ll be looking for a new sergeant Nickolai. Stalin needs more men like you in his army and after your bravery in combat I think you would serve well as our new sergeant.”
    “ Honored of course sir,” responded Nickolai, trying to look pleased about being promoted.
    “Excellent well I’ll complete the necessary papers tonight. In the meantime let’s join our comrades and tell them of how you bettered that German sniper.”
Mikhail put his arm around Nickolai’s shoulder in a friendly manner and they walked back towards the beaten up old factory.
    The inside of the factory was damp and poorly lit. There was a cocktail of strong smells that filled the air made from the combination of dried blood, sweat, oil and dampness. The factory had been adapted to accommodate numerous soldiers and roll mats lined the floor with soldiers fast asleep after days of vicious fighting. There were some that had been injured and lay there groaning while they were treated by medics and nurses. The constant clatter of type writers, as women sent and received battle plans via telegram, added to the general noise. Tucked into corners were tables also occupied by soldiers, many of them reminiscing past events. Those that were lucky enough to possess a set would sit and play cards. All this crammed among the machinery used to build the tanks.
    Shortly after joining their comrades Mikhail, Nickolai and some other men from the 13th guards rifles division were sat round one of the tables. The table was lit by the orange glow of a kerosene lamp. Also standing round the table were some of the 62nd rifle division that had just come back from a night assault to recapture a building from the Germans. They laughed and chatted about the day’s events and listened to Nickolai as he recounted his skilful shot.
    “We were pinned by a panzer tank and a German machine gun group was in the process of trying to out flank us. Lieutenant Ovsianikov gave the order to advance behind a wall that stood between the panzer and us. From there we would have a chance to make a dash between two buildings and outsmart the machine guns and avoid direct fire from the tank. Sergeant Lantzeff, our good Lieutenant and I made a break for it. With the rest of the group to shortly follow in threes. As we advanced on the wall trying to keep low, a church spire came into view from around the corner of a building. It had a hole blasted in its side from previous bombing.” Nickolai paused and reached for a canteen of water sat in front of him and took a drink.
    “Don’t stop there!” cried one of the soldiers.
    “Alright, alright I’m just taking a drink,” said Nickolai laughing. He placed the canteen back on the table. He smiled and deliberately took a little more of a pause before continuing his tale.
    “Suddenly there was a loud bang and the sound echoed through the square. Sergeant Lantzeff’s lifeless body flopped to the ground with a thud. Then a second shot clearly from the spire accompanied by a muzzle flash. The horrifying sound rang in my ears and I flinched momentarily expecting my death. The bullet struck the ground at Lt. Ovsianikov’s feet, violently kicking up the dirt. I quickly aimed for where I had seen the flash and fired a single shot. At that point I saw the silhouette a rifle slide out from the hole in the spire and fall towards the ground. I then ran for the wall and Lt. Ovsianikov,” Nickolai explained trying to look as modest as he could.
    “A toast to poor Sgt. Lantzeff!” shouted Mikhail lifting his glass into the air. The rest followed suite in remembrance of their fallen comrade, taking a moments silence.
    “To our hero and new Sergeant Nickolai Kupetsky!” Mikhail called once again. Their unit and some from the 62nd cheered and joined the toast.
    As the men continued talking Nickolai glanced across the room to a group of tables where the women were sat typing. There was one that particularly caught his eye. She was a beautiful woman with a fair complexion. Her long auburn hair fell just beyond shoulder length and partly covered her left eye. He watched her as she stood up from the table. She too looked across the room and noticed Nickolai watching her. Their eyes met and they smiled at each other. It was as if she recognised his face but could not recollect where she had seen him before.
    “Excuse me,” muttered Nickolai as he stood up from the table.
    He looked down and straightened off his shirt before he began to make his way across the room towards the woman. She too had begun walking towards Nickolai. When they met there was a kind of awkward silence as though they were both waiting for each other to speak. To the pair of them it must have felt like eternity.
    “Ania isn’t it, you used to stay in the house next to my grandfathers farm,” Nickolai said managing to break the silence.
    “It is you Nickolai! I can’t remember the last time we saw each other. We must both have only been about ten years old,” Ania replied with a smile.
    “It’s good to see you again Ania, I did not expect to see you here though it’s nice to see a familiar face again.”
    “I recently thought about you, you know. I was wondering if you were still alive amongst all this chaos. I even hoped that we would run into each other,” Ania explained with an air of enthusiasm.
    “Well it looks like your hoping paid off. It certainly is nice to see you again, it brings back happy memories. Something I have been without for a long while. Though it interests me to know why you were so eager to see me again?”
    “I too remember the happy times we had together as children. You used to make me laugh and I always enjoyed your company. I felt sad when your grandfather died and you and your father moved away. The feeling gives me hope in these dark times.”
    Meanwhile across the room one of the other typists had brought a piece of paper to Lt. Ovsianikov. He read over it and as he did so the expression on his face changed. He began to look slightly more worried. It was almost as though he had forgotten there was a war on.
    “Right listen up 13th, orders in from Major General Aleksandr Rodimstev state that we are to meet with more troops from our regiment just north of here under the command of Captain Andrick Zhukov. There at six am, we are to re take an old asylum that the Germans have overrun close to Tsaritsa Gorge. So get some sleep because it’s going to be a long day tomorrow,” ordered Mikhail in a loud voice.
    There was a look of disappointment on Ania’s face as she knew that she would again have to say goodbye to Nickolai. It was just luck that they had met again and after fifteen long years. She broke eye contact with Nickolai and looked down with an air of sadness.
    “Leaving so soon,” she said quietly.
    “I’ll come back, we’re posted here for a few days at least. There will be plenty of chance to catch up on old times,” Nickolai said with confidence trying to inspire hope.
    The two of them embraced and wished each other goodnight. Ania returned to her work and Nickolai lay down on his roll mat next to some of the other soldiers and tried to get some sleep.