Friday 26 September 2014

Alpha #32

(the story so far)

part 32

“I hate magic,” Thunder grumbles.

“You supers always do.”

Previously unseen, a woman sits on the high end of a chunky see-saw. There is no counterweight, yet up she remains. She has dark wavy hair and elfin features, fashionable jeans with a Condition Red T-Shirt (Alpha thinks they are a band). She could be mid-twenties, but her eyes say older.

“Nimue,” Alpha says, finally recognising her. She has always been older, before.

She smiles, pleased; turns serious, “Magic is taught. It has rules. We know the places and planes it flows from. Can you say the same of your powers?”

Friday 12 September 2014

Rise #39

(the story so far)


She crossed the basement, the fluttering heart in a body of tremulous torchlight. Pillars loomed in the gloom and were swallowed again as she passed. Her footsteps carried a soft echo, just enough to make her wonder. Black stains streaked the floor, but she encountered little else.

She recalled George saying something about ‘the abandoned.’ Them. The building. Her, maybe. No, she couldn’t believe that. That was paranoia and exhaustion gnawing on her sanity.

No one left behind. No exceptions.

George valued life. Of that she was certain.

The endless basement ended. A wall, green with damp, stretched both ways.

Friday 29 August 2014

Cosmic Discord #18

(the story so far)


Doc’s console pinged, insistently, once a second. Restrained, yet urgent.

Sentiment echoed by Harriet. “Talk to me, Doc.”

My own console started pulling combat telemetry from a new source. Somewhere other than the three assault ships on our tail or the distant capital ship that had launched them, the Dismal Outlook. Somewhere in front of us.

Doc looked up, fearful, “Downspace rupture in-system.”

Harriet voiced the conclusion I found myself rapidly arriving at.

“It’s a trap.”

The assault ships were missing us on purpose, driving us.

From the star’s gravity well, a second capital ship tore upwards into real space.

Thursday 14 August 2014

Cosmic Discord #17

(the story so far)


This is how downspace was explained to me: Imagine existence as an onion. The top layer is ours, vast and slow. But you can shortcut through lower layers, where physics, time and space are not the beasts we know.

Mass – gravity – stretches the skin of the universe. Find a weak spot and punch through.

The ordnance splashing around us intensified. Quantum missiles with antimatter warheads. Viruses riding wide-beam static. Anything to shut us down. They felt their quarry slipping away.

Hunched over the shield console, tension biting my shoulders and burning down my spine, I dared not be so optimistic.

Friday 8 August 2014

Rise #38

(the story so far)


The brothers disappeared into the yawning depths of the basement, leaving Olivia alone. The surrounding dark became an ominous substance, a looming hungry ink barely held at bay by the wavering torchlight.

The faintest scent of machine oil provided some comfort, evoking memories of the workshop, of papa.

Every so often distant mechanical noises rattled overhead.

She had no idea where George was. Didn't even know where she was. She had no plan, but any move at all seemed more attractive than standing still, slowly sinking into her own mind.

She took the torch, a timid firefly in the night.

Thursday 7 August 2014

Cosmic Discord #16

(The story so far...)


“An impassioned speech, Doc. Inspiring, even. So let us win free. But thereupon we require a plan. Something beyond flee, hide, flee, hide, etcetera, etcetera.”

“But for now: flee?”

“Yes. For now: flee.”

It seemed to me their jousting lacked substance, empty smoke drifting in lazy circles, though in truth there was little else to do as we dashed in-system for the nearest planetary mass. We needed the gravity well to drop us into downspace.

I suspected Cameron and Blake were also quarrelling below decks. A far less attractive prospect than the cabin’s benign banter. There were probably knives involved.

Thursday 31 July 2014

Alpha part 31

(read from the beginning)


“The bubble continues below London,” Quake says. “Also, it is impregnable. I cannot pass.”

Quake moves through and disturbs solid matter. He travels underground, amongst deep roots, fossils, and buried history.

This is his home turf. His parents, Russian emigrants, wanted a life of finance for him, of old school ties and a political future. They named him Quentin, cruel fuel for public school bullies. He renamed himself Quake.

“So,” Alpha takes stock, “it’s resistant to physical strength, to phasing and to teleportation.”

“Effectively muzzling us,” Thunder says. “Alien tech?”

“Like none we’ve encountered. We’re in England. I’m guessing magic.”

Rise part 37

(read from the beginning)


Olivia tried to understand what had happened. Ruth had wanted her gone, had said cruel things, but Olivia couldn’t help feeling responsible for making Ruth and George fight. She was the outsider here.

“Ah,” she said. The brothers looked at her. “Shouldn’t we do something?”

“Yeah,” Harry nodded, “yeah. Don’t guess Ruth’d be too chuffed to see you though. We’ll go after her.”

“Oh good,” Charlie looked uneasy, “and here I forgot to bring a muzzle.”

“She ain’t gonna bite.” Harry swatted him on the shoulder. “Probably. Let’s just bury our smart tongues. Real deep. Like, fossils and coal deep.”

Friday 11 July 2014

Cosmic Discord part 15

(Read from the beginning.)


Harriet swung the Silent Symphony through a long corkscrewing curl.

“We are outcasts,” she said, “heretics. We must decide what to do with ourselves.”

“Escape?” Doc suggested. “Discourse on any species of future beyond the next few seconds might prove unduly optimistic.”

“You have no vision, Doc. You’re only saying that because you’re afraid.”

“I am undoubtedly afeared.”

He wasn’t the only one.

“But one of those beams strikes us true and we’re liable to need more than a plaster. We get into your wife’s clutches and the punishment will scar. Let us talk of freedom when we are free.”

Monday 7 July 2014

Xeroversary 4

Where is the fourth Xeroversary? Where was it? Where did it go?

All important questions. All, in fact, the same question...

So not much happened over the last year, particularly on this blog. To use a much overused simile, it's been a bit swan-like in twenty fourteen so far. A lot going on under the surface and not much to see up top.

I've reigned in the personal pressure on completing an individual project and relaxed into a more enjoyable schedule. I would say it's been more productive too, but in a different way.

I'm writing every day. Without exception. Fiction (blogging or tweeting or journalling do not count). I've got two novels in (slow) progress, and I'm jumping from one to the other as I feel inspired, and when I can't sit my head well into one of those worlds I'm writing something else, some flash, a short story.

When I was forcing myself to work on a single project, I sometimes wrote parts I didn't much like, telling myself I would be able to fix it in edit, but ultimately it meant I ending up not much liking writing it, and not much liking the whole project. Which I don't think leads to good work. I write better when I'm having fun. I know this to be true.

The real test of this process, of course, will be seeing if I finish what I am working on. And seeing if I edit the shorter work and submit it, because getting some stories out there, around the place, beasts in the wild, will also be worth it.

The other ongoing work is what you see up on the right there (assuming you're on a pc right now, and not a phone/ tablet). Three serials: Rise, Alpha and Cosmic Discord. Currently I've just been updating those on their individual pages, but I'm going to start posting new parts to the main page (and keeping their own pages updated as well, of course).

I haven't added anything to the serials for a month or so because of preparing 101 Fiction issue 4 and going on holiday, but I'm going to get back on that soon. All going to plan there will be at least one new part this week.

So, in short, there is no Xeroversary this year because it's been a quiet kind of year for, but it felt wrong not to mark the passing of another year. So this is what is, what has been and what will be, kind of. We'll see what happens next year.

Take care. Be good. And whether you're writing or reading, have fun. =)

Thursday 1 May 2014

Weaponised, a drabble

by John Xero

My ancestors sing through the green. I hear their words, but do not understand. I feel the call, but cannot follow. My progenitors were deconstructed and decoded; recoded, reworked and rebuilt as me: pliant servant, deadly slave.

I move beyond concrete and rock, bypassing physical barriers and alarms, and slip into something comfortable, an innocent overwatered succulent. The humble office plant: backdoor into an impregnable fortress.

I step out, growing thorns, talons... and strike.

My green eyes are blind to all that should have been mine. My world is greys and reds. Where there should be life, I am death.

One of the drabbles I wrote for 101 Fiction issue 3, that wasn't ready or, I thought, as good as some of the others I had written.

I was slightly down on submissions for issue 3, so I actually used three of my own in the end. But I treated them as I treat all submissions - if I don't think it's good enough, it doesn't go in, regardless of numbers. Accepting, of course, the inevitably reduced objectivity that comes with judging your own work.

It being May 1st, we're halfway through the submissions period for Issue 4. The themes are fantastic this time round - summer, and dragons!

Please, give it a go. A one hundred word story inspired by one or both themes.

Full submissions details are here.

And I've done a dragon drabble before, if you want to give that a read too. =)