In A Flash: The Invader

There were no objects distant and unrecognizable on the horizon, no people who spoke, in voices tinged with madness, of having been kidnapped by unseen creatures, no armada of stars filling the night skies above. One day they were not there and the next they were, with no sign of how they had done so. There was no panic, no riots in the streets, or calls to arms, for it was obvious to all there would be no point to it. They were among them, walking the streets and going about their business as if they had always been there.

No one even thought it particularly strange, though on some distant level, deep within their consciousness, they knew it was. They were aliens and they had seized the planet without so much as a word of defiance. How had it happened? Something must have occurred. Something terrible and awful, to make them surrender so completely. But no one seemed to know. This was the way it had always been, they said, even as they knew it was not so.

It was difficult to describe the invaders. They were not human and they were…something. Words failed them, as did their memories. The shape and substance of the aliens seemed to dissipate as soon as their minds tried to focus on them. It was as though they were figments of dreams, and yet there could be no doubt they were there. Their presence was palpable everywhere one went. It left them with nothing to fight, nothing to even focus their anxiety on.

Strangest of all was how little things changed. The invaders were among them, shadowing their thoughts, filling their every step with doubt, and yet they did little concrete. Businesses still opened and closed, people went to work and ran their errands, and returned home to their families. But all the while the aliens were there, not observing, not disrupting, simply there, as if they had always been and always would be.

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

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In A Flash: The Flitcraft Effect

Musaira Deshu lived an unremarkable life as such things were measured. She worked for a company that provided the processed food and other supplies for several planetary and asteroid mining conglomerates. When she was introduced to people they invariably commented on how interesting her job must be, associated with such interstellar daring. Space travel, with all its attendant consequences, was still a novelty for most people, who would never so much as think of leaving the planet surface, except to visit a thermospheric resort.

Musaira was in fact one of these. Her job was in payroll and compliance. The closest she came to space was when she calculated the taxable benefits for those off planet, who had different exemptions than those on. She was completely fine with this. The job was not what one would call exciting, but she took satisfaction in it and considered herself quite good at it. She was married and had a young daughter, and much of the joy she found in life came there.

One day, on her way to work, she was nearly hit by a falling pane of glass as she walked by a tower that was under construction. Workers had been installing the windows above and had left one resting against the ledge on the roof. Somehow a gust of wind caught it, lifted it up, and sent it tumbling down to the ground. The police, when they investigated, said it was just poor luck that it had happened, though they expected the construction company to be fined for failing to take the necessary precautions.

For Musaira the incident was a revelation. The glass landed right beside her as she walked by the tower. She could feel the brush of the wind as it passed by, and had actually looked to see if someone was reaching out to get her attention. She turned in time to see the glass shatter and let out a scream, jumping back. In spite of the shards of glass spraying in all directions around her, she wound up with only a small cut on her left hand. People farther away than her ended up with cuts and bits of glass embedded in their flesh. One man even lost an eye.

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

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Now Available: The Slavish Adherent

Hector is a faithful man in a faithless world.

A Slavish Adherent of the Twentieth Gradation, he works a dead end job in Reconciliations. Until the day he finds an error he was not meant to and begins an odyssey that will upend his life and everything he believes in.

It is a journey that will take him from the gates of paradise to the pits of hell, all in a desperate attempt to reconcile his beliefs with the absurd world that surrounds him.

The Slavish Adherent is a fantastic tale of what remains when all you believe in has been taken away.

Available at Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords

In A Flash: The Servant

A flash of lightning on the horizon as dusk settles upon those vast peaks that spread in all directions. It forms a haunting visage of a land torn apart, uprooted and broken, seized by unspeakable forces in days long ago. Ves slides down a snow-streaked road that winds into the town below, his journey interrupted from time to time by the surge of lights from a vehicle making an ascent. The town is quiet, the streets nearly empty, but for a few revelers gathered at the foot of a stairway leading up to a tavern. There are shouts from within and the promise of warmth, drink and women, but he passes on. His day is not yet done.

The town is built upon a mountain with streets that slant here and there, coming together at odd angles, or sometimes ending abruptly. It is one of these that Ves finds himself on, the road coming to an end at a cliff, the gulf below stretching on into a darkness that seems to know no bounds. At the precipice of this awful vastness sits a mansion, spreading across the cliff so broadly that it gives the impression it might teeter over the brink at any moment to what lies below.

When he announces himself at the door servants scurry to rouse the Master. Ves is taken through the building and brought out onto a veranda overlooking the precipice. The air is cool and he can see his breath forming under the lights. He does not have to wait long until the Master emerges from one of the doors to join him. He is unremarkable to look upon, small and thin, with fine features that somehow leave him undefined. Ves can rarely call up a picture of his face in his mind.

“So you found her, did you?” the Master says.

Ves nods. “She has a message for you.”

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

If you like this story, or any of my others, please consider supporting me on Patreon

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Coming Soon: The Slavish Adherent

Available February 2016

Hector is a faithful man in a faithless world.

A Slavish Adherent of the Twentieth Gradation, he works a dead end job in Reconciliations. Until the day he finds an error he was not meant to and begins an odyssey that will upend his life and everything he believes in.

It is a journey that will take him from the gates of paradise to the pits of hell, all in a desperate attempt to reconcile his beliefs with the absurd world that surrounds him.

The Slavish Adherent is a fantastic tale of what remains when all you believe in has been taken away.

In A Flash: The Contraption

Jules Amostel had been tinkerer all his days, from his youth when his parents gave him a chemistry set to play with, through his time at university in the engineering department, where he was constantly toying with circuits in the lab or in his dorm room, and later as he found himself a job working for the city’s transit department. The first thing he did upon the purchase of a house, after marrying his longtime girlfriend, was to turn the unfinished basement into a lab space for the various projects he embarked on.

Jules had never been particularly social, and while he enjoyed going out and meeting with friends, and got on well with all his co-workers, he needed time to himself to do as he pleased and found it in the basement. His wife Amy was a patient woman and recognized it as a release of sorts from the stresses of day to day living. Every now and again she would notice him spending too much time alone down there and would remind him that he needed to spend time with her and his friends. She did not ask much about what he did there and he volunteered little, showing her the odd device he built, but they mostly confused her.

Soon they had children and their lives became busier still. Jules found time when he could for his work in the basement, though admittedly less now. It did not bother him, his daughters were far more intriguing than anything he might work on down below. As they grew into their teens and became more independent, he found he had more time that he could devote to his work and he returned to it with a renewed vigor. Sunday became his day dedicated to his devices and he would descend below after breakfast while Amy and his daughters entertained themselves.

Finally, after twenty five years of intermittent work, Jules finished what he had begun so long ago in his university dorm room. The individual devises that had so confused Amy were but a part of a much grander whole—a vast contraption—that, when he finally assembled it, took up much of the basement. It was capable of traversing time and space, perhaps even the fabric of the universe itself.

It was his life’s work, his grand design, but for many weeks he did not engage the contraption, would not enter it. Fear stopped him short. What if he turned it on and he was sent somewhere or sometime and could not return? Worse, what if nothing happened at all? It was difficult to say which of those possibilities scared him most.

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

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In A Flash: Aurora

Dorvel watched from the station’s observation deck as the beast leapt from the inner ring surrounding the gas giant. It appeared to float momentarily, suspended in the vacuum of space, before it plunged back into the ring, disappearing from sight. She turned her attention back to the monitors tracking its progress, knowing it would be several minutes before it appeared again. The rings were constituted almost entirely of frozen water, formed into intricate crystalline structures, and the beast was drinking.

Dorvel was observing it, and had been for almost the entirety of the last two days, because it was pregnant, extremely so, and her superiors expected the calf to be born any day now. Birthing was a delicate process for any animal, all the moreso for one that spent its days in the space, as the scow did. This being the distinctly unimaginative name given the creatures by the Councilmen who first encountered them. The name—that some found amusing, but which Dorvel had long grown tired of—being a play on the ancient meaning of the word, a type of old earth sea-going vessel and an abbreviation of the words ‘space cow’.

The scow surfaced again, this time very near the station, and Dorvel’s breath was taken away. Their vastness still had the power to startle, even for someone who had spent so much of her life working with the creatures. This time the beast did not return within the ring, having drunk its fill, letting the gravity of the planet pull her into orbit. Dorvel checked the time and made a quick calculation of how much water she had drank, assuring herself that the scow and its progeny were well fed.

Everything now was of critical importance. Nothing could be left to chance, she well knew. This was the third scow she had shepherded to birth in her ten years as Head Veterinarian for the Council. None of the other calves had survived more than a day or two. It had been a lifetime since anyone had even seen a calf or a youngling scow, even as the number of adult scows dwindled year by year, their stock ravaged by the hardships of space and the Councils seemingly endless wars.

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

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Now Available: The Forgotten

Forgotten 2

Who is David Aeida and what does he know that has so many people after him? He can’t remember, but he finds himself embroiled in a conflict spanning multiple universes, involving a religious cult, a guild that patrols the crossings between the universes, and, most dangerous of all, an implacable hunter, known only as the Seeker. All of them will stop at nothing to get whatever knowledge they believe he possesses. . His only hope is to recover his memories before they do, and his only ally is woman named Meredith, and she definitely knows more than she is telling…

The Forgotten (Part Two: The Church of the Regents)

The whir of the engine, so sleight I had to strain to hear it over the sound of the other cars on the road, was a comfort as I fled. It felt familiar, a sound that had formed the background to a thousand memories, and seemed to quiet the cacophony of thoughts, filled with memories that jabbered and capered about, each demanding my attention. The contradiction inherent in the comfort—how could this car, with its engine from another universe, be familiar to me?—was something I could ignore while it eased my anguish. But for how long? That thought too was there, lurking beneath these spiraling recollections, these multitudes I suddenly contained that seemed to be fighting to burst free.

I am David Aeida, I told myself, repeating it like an invocation. All of the rest, my garbled memories, the absent knowledge that the High Regent and even the Seeker believed I possessed, would sort itself out given time. Hadn’t the woman told me it would come with time? Meredith had as well. The memory of her false embrace arose in my mind, demanding my attention, though I tried not to think of it, to not replay the moment again and again. Though the memory had no context, it felt like an open wound each time I returned to it, and yet I was compelled to.

Could I trust her now? Who else did I have to trust? She was of the Order, as was I, and, in spite of the embrace, she was the only thing resembling an ally I had.

It took me some time to determine where I was as I drove, but eventually, as I followed the flow of the traffic, I spotted the ocean gleaming in the sunlight and a bridge spanning the bay leading back to downtown. There were mountains behind me to the north and at last I remembered where I was. Vancouver. The Lions Gate Bridge. After the bridge came Stanley Park, a forested peninsula spidered with paths, all of which gave the appearance of leading deep into some world apart. Continue reading

The Forgotten (Part Two: The Church of the Regents)

I was still disoriented by the cascades of memories assaulting me, trying desperately to cling to this latest revelation that had sprung forth, only to disappear into the ether, when a scream interrupted my thoughts. All my questions, whether Meredith and I had been lovers, the nature of her betrayal, and how I could have been in the other universe—for there seemed no doubt the palace where we had met was not located in this world—dissolved at the sound. Another scream followed—a woman’s voice—and I knew, with a terrible certainty, that I had to escape now or my life would be forfeit.

I summoned my remaining will, trying to push aside the constant buzzing of my thoughts, the lights ebbing and flowing like the tide in the corner of my eyes, and clambered to my feet. I stood above the chair for a moment, unsteady and feeling ill, before taking a lurching step toward the keypad. It seemed to take hours for me to cross the room to the door, each step a monumental effort from which I had to recover. My body still felt weighted by some obscene gravity—had I been transported somehow to another planet, I wondered—and my thoughts would not go quiet, leaving me to gather and orient myself from moment to moment.

Something like the aftershock of an explosion shook the room, sending me tumbling to floor. I lay cringing on the floor, waiting for the next rumble to overtake me. When none came, I regained my footing and went to the keypad, a burst of adrenaline washing away the numbness from my body, and entered in the code the woman had shown me. After a sickening pause, where I was certain I had been fooled, or simply dreamed it all, the door hissed open and I stepped out into the hallway. Continue reading