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.