Book Extract. The Nine Amendments.

The Nine Amendments is part of the  In The beginning…again fantasy series that will see the light of day before the end of the year all things being equal.

In this scene, Sarge Flogin is supervising the induction of draftees as they prepare for military service on the obligatory Wholly Foreign Tour of Salvation. 

Partz’ first day in the army had been unusual, Flogin remembered. Not least because the sun was shining that morning in Port o’ Bill. Then there was the number of draftees: Partz was it. Normally there would be between fifteen and twenty young men lined up, ready, if not exactly willing, to do their duty.

Flogin never openly questioned these things, as he knew the Trois were constantly forging new frontiers and required Wholly Soldiers all over the Wholly Empire.

Partz had approached the draft office: a plank of wood set upon two empty barrels, a bundle of nerves and excitement all rolled into one, skinny seventeen-year-old body.

‘Name?’ the drafting officer for the day asked. This was Corporal Zimmer as it happened, re-joining the garrison command after a month on compassionate leave. The family pig had died and he had returned home to attend the funeral. Well, Zimmer said it was the family pig. The rest of the family called his older brother Sam. Sam had died of an eating disorder that had nothing to do with being fat. Obesity was generally not a problem in Port o’ Bill, except amongst some members of the Trois and they never saw it as a problem. Sam was always a bit simple (probably because of vitamin deficiency) and after eating the roots of an unknown plant had died of poisoning.

‘Partz,’ replied the boy. ‘That’s with a zed’, he added.

‘Initial?’ Zimmer demanded.

‘W,’ but officially it is ‘I,’ obliged Partz.

There was a slight pause as Zimmer began to fill in this detail on the draft sheet. He looked up studiously and asked.

‘Eye Partz, eh? Which ones? Retina, cornea or what?’ said Zimmer with a straight face.

Sarge Flogin, who was standing behind Zimmer, frowned, at the same time allowing himself a small grin. Although every soldier at the Sueridge Canal garrison could read and write, he was surprised by Zimmer’s knowledge of optical biology.

‘Now, then, corporal. No need for that. What’s the ‘I’ stand for, lad?’ Flogin asked.

‘Individual, sergeant,’ replied Partz equally straight-faced.

‘Individual Partz!’ Zimmer could barely contain himself. ‘So are you the sum of the Partz family or the son?’

‘Mr. Zimmer. Do you really want to go down that path?’ Flogin asked.

With a first name of Drivel the corporal was wise not to push the issue.

‘No, sarge. Sorry, sarge.’

‘Right. Just as I thought. We’re all a bit unusual in this unit. But that, as far as I’m concerned, is a good thing.  We must think of ourselves as unique.

‘My brother, sergeant,’ said Partz.

‘What’s that, lad?’ asked Flogin suspiciously.

‘Unique, sergeant. That’s my brother’s name.’

Flogin cleared his throat of some invisible blockage. ‘Oh, really?’

‘Yes, sergeant. They’re traditional names where my dad comes from. But after we moved to Judysear my parents decided it wouldn’t be such a good thing to be Individual or Unique, so they renamed my brother, Enry, after my dad’s boss, and me, William, after the famous Judysear general, William the Konkerr.’

‘Ah, I see.’ Flogin knew all about General Konkerr. Konkerr the Plonker he was less than affectionately known as. The general who always brought his men back from battle. Most of them in body bags.

‘So you are, how might we say, foreign?’ Flogin suggested.

‘Well, not any more, of course. We’re all part of the Wholly Empire now. Isn’t that right, sergeant?’ said Partz brightly.

‘Yes, lad. Very holey,’ Flogin agreed, after a fashion, being acutely aware of the fractious nature of the Wholly Empire and the attitude of the Trois toward most things foreign. Sarge’s parents, like a fair number of Judysearans, were Frinch; a fact he did not advertise and hence most people just assumed that Flogin was his surname. In fact it was le Viande, and when one realised that the Judysear translation meant, the meat, it was understandable why Flogin was sympathetic to Partz, unusual name.

‘Right, Individ—William, lad. Sign your name or make your mark and get aboard ship. We don’t have all day for cult’ral chitchat. Welcome to the army, Private . . .’ He paused. Oh, gawd, ‘Partz.’

The Nine Amendments©Douglas Pearce 2013

Book Extract: Wholly Bye Bill

The fantasy series, The Mining of Lif, is a humourous look at a post apocalyptic planet that was once called..er..the..er..the…sorry, can’t remember. 

Anyway, each book; there are currently three, takes a familiar  Holy Theme and imagines what would happen should humans have another crack at trying to get things right. 

This is from Book 2 Wholly Bye Bill and centres on the small remnant of humanity who are now forced to flee their island paradise, Shirthole, as imminent disaster looms.

They need  to build a boat –  a BIG boat and time is inevitably running out. 

Chapter 1

The storm finished as quickly as it had begun. The clouds soon dissipated and shortly afterwards the sun blazed, and the forest began to steam.

In a clearing among the trees, two large frogs peered out from underneath a larger green leaf and looked up at the spectacle above them.

‘I think he’s just showing off,’ one of the frogs said.

‘You reckon? I think he’s been at the mushrooms again. I mean, look at him,’ his companion countered.

‘You may be right,’ agreed the first frog.

A loud ‘thunk’ signified the end of the aerial display. The sound reverberated through the forest as the normally expert avian aviator hit a large oak tree at a *surprisingly high rate of knots then dropped twenty feet, landing on the dense, and fortunately for him,  soft undergrowth of the forest floor.

 *

Abbot Trois sat at his desk studying the large tome open before him.

The book was called Bye Bill. Although, he was considering changing the name to Farewell William.

This seemed only proper, given the age and importance of the book.

No one knew its origin. Even the worn version he had recently finished redacting was not an original, being a copy from another source. Abbot Trois reasoned that this had probably been going on for….well, a very long time.

Oddly enough, it did not cross his mind that previous copyists had also edited their versions, especially when coming across something indecipherable.

Abbot Trois was busy reading a section about boat construction. He had read this part of the book before. Several times in fact, but never with the same keen interest as now though. And there was good reason for this interest. The island was sinking.

The section was not large, no more than two or three pages, and the description concerning the boat’s construction covered only three or four paragraphs. As meagre as this was it contained enough detail to make the construction seem straightforward. Straightforward for one who knew about boats, that is.

The instructions included measurements for length, breadth, and width. There was also mention of windows, doors and even a roof. At first, this confused him; the description seemed more like a house. Of course, he realised, a houseboat. The mental picture that formed gave him the distinct impression the boat’s designers had meant for it to cross a very large expanse of water.

Good, he thought. Then it might just be what we are after. Couldn’t go sailing off into the wide blue yonder in a craft that might spring a leak five minutes after launching!

After poring over the chapter for a while longer, he felt confident he had grasped most of the salient points. However, just one small detail nagged at him:  ‘What the hell…oops, heck is a cubit?’ he asked aloud.

‘A culinary term. It’s what you do to a carrot or potato when you chop it up,’ said an authoritative, voice off to his right.

‘Ah, Mrs. Perlite. That is an interesting observation,’ Abbot Trois remarked.

‘Common sense, y’worship,’ Mrs. Perlite continued. ‘Now, put that book away and eat your supper.’

Abbot Trois just managed to lay a feather between the relevant pages, close the book and slide it to one side as the cook placed a bowl of steaming liquid before him. Rummaging in her apron pocket, she pulled out a spoon made from bamboo and a large cloth napkin. Placing the spoon next to the bowl then stepping behind Abbot Trois, she briskly shook out the folded napkin and began to tie it around his neck. Only when Abbot Trois called out in a semi-strangled voice, ‘Dag’s ogay, dagyoo,’ did Mrs. Perlite leave off knotting it.

*Surprising, only because the bird had reached this speed while flying upside down.

©DSP 2013

Book Extract. Almost Dead in Suburbia.

From the book Almost Dead in Suburbia, by Douglas Pearce.

Published by P’kaboo publishers. http://www.pkaboo.net/bookshop.html#almostdead

I don’t know about other writers but some of the things I write makes me laugh like a drain. This scene from Almost Dead is one of my favorite as it recalls memories of small towns in England, and there are glimpses of the town of Ramsey, where I lived for a few years while my father was in the RAF.

Some context is required….

Ralph is a sort of  ghost regarded by those ‘upstairs’ as Dead not really. It is a state of transition. Ralph wasn’t due to die and is desperately trying to get his body back. Hendrix the cat is a spirit guide who is trying to help him. Fred is Ralph’s elderly neighbour who did die but due to a mix up was sent back and he found himself in Ralph’s body. Only Fred can see and hear Ralph and the cat.

Ralph only has  two weeks to persuade Fred to give his body back otherwise he will  have to ‘go’ for real.

In this scene the three of them are on their way to apologise to one of Fred’s former girlfriends.

Hope it brings a smile….

Fred, Ralph, and Hendrix arrived at Corlington Station just before 5:30 a.m.

The station was empty of people save for a few railway staff, an elderly couple sitting in the small waiting room, and a large, extremely fluffy ginger tom that was fast asleep on a wooden crate next to the ticket office.

As the three travellers reached the office window, the sleeping cat began to wake up.  It stretched sinuously, yawned, and suddenly froze.  All its fur stood on end, its ears flattened against its head and it hissed.  Then it yowled, while glaring at a point close to the floor between Ralph’s feet, right where Hendrix stood.

Ralph, Fred and the ticket clerk looked at the cat, and followed its glare.

‘Nice kitty,’ Fred said in an unconvincing voice.

This appeared to be the trigger for the riled up ginger tom to leap off the box towards Ralph’s feet.  On instinct, Ralph hopped to one side.

‘Whoa!’ he exclaimed

Hendrix remained motionless, and seemed very calm.

The cat’s dive ended with it almost knocking itself out on the floor as it passed straight through Hendrix.

As the dazed feline struggled to regain its feet, or rather paws, it took a couple of half-hearted swats at Hendrix,  who appeared to smirk, then it turned tail and skulked off behind the ticket office from where it could be heard mewling loudly.

‘What the ‘ell was all that about?’ the ticket clerk wondered aloud.  He was leaning through the window of the office to see where the cat had disappeared to.  ‘I never seen it be’ave like that in all the years we’ve ‘ad it, daft thing.’

‘Perhaps it awoke from a nightmare, or something?’ Fred suggested.

‘Hmmm, you might be right,’ the ticket clerk agreed.  ‘Well sir, what can I do for you this morning?’ he said brightly.

‘Morning, Wilfred,’ Fred said in belated greeting

The elderly clerk, who was bald except for a thin band of grey hair at the temples, and had a grey, bushy moustache and rimless spectacles that perched halfway down his nose, frowned.

Fred knew the old man quite well.  They had both grown up in Wiggleswood, and had attended the same school.

‘Do we know each other, sir?’ he asked politely.  ‘The old memory’s not what it was y’see, an’ I meet quite a lot of people.’

‘Oh bloody marvellous,’ Ralph interrupted sarcastically.  ‘Yes actually, we do know each other, or did.  You see, I’m dead, as it happens.’

Hendrix took a swipe at Ralph’s leg.

Fred grimaced slightly and began to go red.  But he recovered from his gaffe quickly and controlled himself enough not to glance at Ralph.

‘The badge,’ Fred tapped his chest indicating the oblong object pinned to Wilfred’s breast pocket.

‘Ah! Of course.  The badge.  Keen eyesight there.  More’n I can say for myself these days.  So, where are we going today, sir?’

‘Two— one first-class return to Chester, please,’ Fred asked, almost slipping up again.

‘Return to Chester.  Right you are.  You’ll be changing at Kings Cross and again at Crewe.’

He entered the details on a keyboard and issued the ticket, handing it across the counter to Fred.

‘That’ll be one hundred and forty seven pounds ninety pence, please.’

Fred placed two one-hundred pound notes on the counter.  Wilfred took them and handed back Fred his change.

‘Much obliged, sir.  Visiting family are we?’

‘Old friend, actually,’ Fred replied, trying his best to sound casual.  Ralph didn’t help matters by leaning on the counter and chipping in.

‘How about discussing the perishing weather while you’re at it, why don’t you?’

‘Looks like we are in for a couple of days of fine weather.  If you can believe the weatherman, that is.’ Wilfred said.

‘Oh look, a  mind-reader!’

‘Let’s hope so.  The train leaves at seven, is that right?’ Fred asked, desperate to get away from this aging chatterbox.

‘Not today, sir, I’m afraid.  Bit of an accident there was.’

‘Accident?’ Fred asked.  Oh no, he thought.

‘Yes, sir.  Fowl, so I ‘eard,’ Wilfred said.

‘Foul?  Foul what?  Foul play, foul weather or foul language?’

Wilfred tilted his head and cocked an eyebrow.  He was not sure if this fella was making fun of him.  He decided the man was joking so he smiled and wagged a finger.

‘Ah, I get you sir! No, when I said fowl I meant fowl, as in a chicken sir.’

‘You’re having me on, right?  The train’s delayed because of a chicken?’ Fred was sure he was having his leg pulled.  This must be a new slant on ‘why did the chicken cross the road?’ and any second now, Wilfred was going to deliver the punch-line.

‘No, sir.  Farmer bringing his load in for market day it was.  Lorry full o’ chickens.  One of ‘em got loose in the back of the lorry and all that flappin’ and squawkin’ distracted the driver.  He lost control and drove down the embankment.  Ended up on the line, ‘e did.  Lorry’s doors burst open and all them chickens took flight, if you get my meanin’?  They’s definitely free-range now, that’s for sure!’ He chuckled.

‘So when, do you think, is the train due to leave?’ Fred asked.

‘Couldn’t say for sure, sir.  Depends on the tractors, you see,’ Wilfred explained.

‘I hate to ask but . . .’ Fred began.

‘Oh, no problem, sir.  I reckon I’ll be tellin’ this story more’n once this mornin’.’

He looked positively pleased at the prospect.

‘The embankment’s not steep, you see.  So they’ve sent two Massey Fergusons up there and they’re going to hitch ‘em up to the lorry and drag it off the track.’

Fred sighed.  There was nothing he could do but wait.

‘How’s the driver?’ he asked.  ‘Not hurt, I hope?’

‘Oh, no, sir, he’s all right.  Had his feathers ruffled a bit I ‘spect?’ and laughed once more at his own wit.

A flustered-looking official was approaching the ticket office almost at a run.

‘Oh, look.  ‘Ere we are, then. Stationmaster’s arrived. Some news no doubt.  ’ He nodded in the direction of the official.  ‘Mornin’, Mister Pertwee,’ Wilfred said.  ‘I was just this moment telling this nice gentleman about the accident.’

Mister Pertwee threw a fleeting smile at Fred, then disappeared around the back of the office.  A door opened and Mister Pertwee reappeared at Wilfred’s side.  There was a hurried, whispered conversation that included phrases such as ‘Hmm, I see,’ and ‘Well I never!’, and then Mister Pertwee left the office in the same manner as he had arrived.

Wilfred shook his head and addressed Fred . ‘Oh dear, sir, looks like more delays, I’m afraid,’ Wilfred apologised, his face a study in concern.

‘What now: cows, pigs, sheep?’ Fred asked.

Wilfred chuckled.  ‘Now, now, sir.  You’ll be suggesting the farmers are thinking they’ve found a new parking spot on the line next.  No sir, it’s the badgers.’

‘The badgers?’ Fred looked incredulous.

‘Yes, sir, badgers.  The sett, to be more precise,’ Wilfred explained.

‘A set of badgers?’ You mean, as in a collection?’ Fred said, unable to resist the sarcasm.

Wilfred had wised up and wasn’t having any of Fred’s nonsense.  He smiled.

‘There you go again, sir.  Must remember that one.  No sir, not a set of badgers.  A badger’s sett.  Its ‘ome.’

Ralph gave up.  He sat on the floor, his back up against the ticket office.  Hendrix jumped lightly onto his lap, circled twice then curled up, closed his eyes and began to purr.

‘Seems that as they was reversing one of the tractors down the embankment they disturbed the badger’s sett.  Proper annoyed she was.’

‘Who, the driver?’

‘No, sir, the badger,’ Wilfred explained.  He was beginning to believe this passenger really was as daft as he sounded.

‘Had little ‘uns too.  Well, we’re not ‘ome wreckers are we?  They had to drive the tractors a mile and a half down to Cowey Bridge and come back on the other side of the track.’

‘So . . .’ Fred began cautiously.

‘Well, sir, the thing of it is, they don’t reckon they’ll be ready to get the train out ‘afore ten at the earliest.  Mister Pertwee has decided to set departure at eleven, just t’be on the safe side.’

‘Eleven,’ Fred repeated.

‘Yes, sir; eleven,’ Wilfred confirmed.

Five hours, or thereabouts, Fred realised.

Ralph got to his feet, dislodging the cat from his lap.

‘Hey!’ Hendrix protested.

‘Let’s leave it,’ Ralph suggested.

Fred was careful not to answer.  Checking that the ticket was safely in his pocket, he thanked Wilfred and told him he would be back later.

‘Right you are, sir,’ Wilfred acknowledged.

The three of them moved out of earshot to the newsagent stand before Fred spoke again.

‘We can’t leave it.  This train only runs three times a week, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.  If I don’t go today I won’t be back in time for my own funeral.  It’s ironic that a corny old phrase might turn out to be literal.’

Ralph shrugged.  ‘Well, we’ve got five hours..  What do you want to do?’

‘Might as well take a walk into town.  I could do with some breakfast.  Oh, and I’ll pop into Pickering’s, while we’re there.’

‘Pickering’s?’ Ralph asked.

‘It’s a small bookstore just off Hastings Street.  I was in the shop a few weeks ago.  There’s a book I want to buy.  I’m sure she’ll like it,’ Fred said.

‘She?  Oooh, a lady friend, is it?  Now I think I’m getting the picture.  Nod’s as good as a wink and all that,’ Ralph teased.

‘It’s not what you think at all!’ Fred snapped.

‘Touchy, touchy.  Well excuse me.  It’s just that if you’re planning something I might like to know what’s in store for my body.’

‘I suggest you zip it, Ralph,’ Hendrix cautioned as he circled Fred’s legs stroking them with his tail in a calming gesture.

‘All I was saying was . . .’  he persisted.

Hendrix hissed.

‘Okay, okay.  You win.  My mistake.  I apologise.’

‘Apology accepted.  Now let’s go, shall we?’ Fred suggested.

They headed for the exit, Fred giving a brief wave to Wilfred indicating, ‘See you a bit later.’

Wilfred acknowledged the wave with one of his own and a smile.

As they left the station, Wilfred, who had noticed Fred apparently talking to himself, addressed the station cat, which had calmed down and resumed its place on the crate.

‘You see, Ginge, not only us oldies who go a bit soft in the ‘ead talking to ourselves an’ what ‘ave you.  At least I talk to a cat most of the time, eh?’

‘Meow,’ replied Ginger.

‘Couldn’t agree with you more,’ Wilfred said.

Picking up his morning paper he turned to the sports page.  Almost as an afterthought, he squinted down at the badge pinned to his breast pocket.  Printed onto the dark blue background in gold letters was the word Corlington.

‘Well I’ll be . . .’

©DSP.

In the Beginning…again. A bit more

The final excerpt from the book, In The Beginning….again

When it gets into print I shall post more.

The Sea of Wome, a large inland body of fresh water occupying an area of about two hundred and forty thousand square kloms*, is situated one hundred and three and a half kloms, as the mutant crow flies, a few points southeast of the Royal Palace.

A stone’s throw from the north shore is Poop Island which is about three hundred kloms long and one hundred kloms wide, and at the island’s most westerly point is an extinct volcano, named ‘Old Blowhard.’

Two thousand meters above sea level inside the crater of the volcano is a mirror-flat lake. From here, three rivers tumble over cataracts that branch off into smaller tributaries which wend their way through the forest-covered slopes, eventually arriving at a waterfall that cascades two hundred metres into a natural depression known as Lake Flaccid. On its shores, lying in the shadow of Old Blowhard is Poopstown, an autonomous island community that is home to several hundred Troll families, and also the headquarters of Lif’s only religious organisation, the Catlicks.

Poop Woderwick XIX stood next to a stone bench in the Garden of Reflection feeding the multi-coloured fish that lived in the pond. Beside him sat his dog, Almighty Cheeses XIV, a Wholly Rotonviler.

Woderwick was not happy, and the cause of his unhappiness was Barblestown.

On the other side of Trolldom, on the banks of **Lake Galley–Lee, was Barblestown. Its citizens revered the Wholly Barble, the most abundant species of fish in the lake. The Wholly Barble was one reason Woderwick was beginning to hate the fish in his pond.

Almighty Cheeses sauntered over to the water’s edge and cocked his back leg.

‘Almighty Cheeses. You are a naughty boy!’ Woderwick scolded.

He believed the dog had picked up this disgusting habit from watching the rather crude stone statue that supposedly represented the First Dog. Woderwick conceded there was a vague resemblance, although the continual trickle of water splashing into the pond and the part of the statue it came from was, he felt, in bad taste.

Then a thought crossed his mind and he brightened a bit.

Smiling down at Cheeses, he said, ‘Ah, daddy’s sorry. You are a good boy. You pee on the fish!’

‘Woof, woof,’ the dog agreed.

All the trees and flowers were starting to show the first signs of spring. The air was crisp and above was nothing but wall-to-wall blue sky. Well, almost nothing …

A large pied crow ‘cawed’ then took off from the roof of the shed at the far side of the garden. Woderwick only noticed the raucous bird as it flew directly overhead and deposited a rather large ‘gift from Dog’ on the left sleeve of his bright orange morning coat.

‘Oh, pith,’ he mumbled, absently wiping the bird dropping with the blue blanket he had taken to carrying.

The morning really was quite beautiful, but for Woderwick, apart from the little joke with his dog, it was rotten.

* Klom: Unit of measurement that scientists continue to argue over even though their heads hurt. (Probably from hitting each over the head with a slide-rule)

   Some believe it is the distance between the average Troll’s kneecap and his big toe. Whilst another group steadfastly holds on to the belief it is the distance from the top of Old Blowhard to Lake Flaccid.

   This suggests there are no such things as absolutes and might also explain why scientists cannot agree if the Earth is 6000 years old or over a billion. Or why some believe there was a T-Rex on board the ark, and why others know for a fact this is impossible, as there is no mention of a pop group anywhere in that Other Book.  

** Named after Troll fisherman Galley-Lee, who, legend claims, crossed from one side of the lake to the other by walking upon the water’s surface. It was later discovered that during the dry season, the water level can drop by as much as three metres revealing several rows of huge stones that cross the lake in at least four places. 

In The Beginning….again ©2013 DSP

In the beginning….again. Comic Fantasy

Continuation from the previous post…..

 

So. In the beginning…again.

First, there was the word. Not the word, but rather another word.

The other word was “oops,” accompanied by a shrug and a sigh.

And then there was Lif…

For a long time, relative peace and quiet reigned.

Eventually, out of the post, post-primordial Jurassic-Park goo several new landmasses emerge, and all manner of life. Some of which could be considered Brand New.

On the largest landmass, a new species of sentient bi-ped evolved; a fur-covered Troll, weighing-in at over two hundred kilos and standing approximately two and a half metres.

Trolls were furry, somewhat warty, farty, porcine-faced, pointy-toothed, greenish – yellowish monsters, with sticky-out ears, bad breath and Uncle Tom Cobbly and all.

So much for their redeeming features.

There were still a few pockets of humanity. Trolls called them Humbeans and regarded them as little more than sport and food, and not always in that order.

Lif’s largest landmass is Trolldom and somewhere in Trolldom is where our story begins…sort of.

It was a rainy, Monday afternoon, about two-thirty.

Inside the Royal Palace, King Erik of Barblestown was catching up on his reading while his wife and sweetheart-for-life, Queen Fartsidious lounged on a heavily padded sofa munching fresh hedgehog fritters.

King Erik, standing at two metres ninety-seven and a bit and weighing nearly two hundred and sixty-three kilos was possibly the tallest, biggest Troll there ever was. His dark green fur, which had just been completely un-matted by Ooaah, the queen’s handmaiden, was all sleek and shiny. The eight nails on his hands filed and polished. So too the ten nails on his toes, which he wriggled into the shaggy rug beneath his feet.

It was ‘Afternoon off’ and Erik was dressed casual. Floor length woolly- mammoth gown, covering ‘shorty’ woolly-mammoth fur P.J’s. He had just discovered that his P.J.’s didn’t itch when he wore them ‘inside out,’ so he had made a mental note to wear them this way in future.

‘I am decidedly bored’ said his wife, sighing. She had also received similar treatment from Ooaah, and was attired in clothes that matched her husband’s.

Queen Fartsidious stood only two metres twenty and weighed one hundred and seventy five kilos on the dot. Petite and svelte next to her husband she was possibly the most beautiful thing in the whole room.

‘Hmm?’ Erik mumbled, not really paying attention.

‘I said I am bored’.

Propping herself up on one elbow, she leaned across her husband’s lap. With one eye focusing on her spouse, she opened her mouth then closed her lips gently around his large banana.

‘Hey!’ he yelled. ‘That’s my lunch. You know I’m trying to follow the doc’s orders and eat right and there you are nibbling away at my resolve. What about my heart condition’?

‘Heart condition, fart condition. What about my…condition? I’ve been without a banana for so long I’m seriously thinking about becoming a Slutt at…’

Erik frowned, giving her an odd, sideways look.

‘Oh, never mind,’ she moaned.

Pushing herself into a sitting position, she promptly squashed two fritters.

‘Ow!’ she squealed.

King Erik put down his book and sighed.

‘What now, for Dog’s sake?’

Queen Fartsidious rubbed her ample posterior and grinned mischievously.

‘Just what am I going to do with you, hey?’ said Erik.

‘Anything you like!’ she teased.

Erik made a playful grab for his wife, who promptly fell off the couch, squealing. Erik followed, sending the couch and his book flying. His banana fared worse, squashed to a pulp under the pair of them.

A sharp rap on the door spared Erik any possible heart strain and ensured all bananas remained soft.

‘Phooey!’ the queen said in disgust. What must a girl do to get any round here?’

Erik lumbered off the floor, righted the couch then quickly pulled his gown around his waist, taking a quick look to make sure the Royal Flagpole was not flying.

‘Come!’ he bellowed

‘Huh!’ the queen whined.

The king shot her a warning look.

‘See if I care,’ she retorted and stomped off to take a cold shower.

 

In the beginning… again.   © DSP 2013

To be or not to be…or not.

In many aspects of life, self-doubt is one of the most crippling things; no less so for a writer.

Some of my unpublished books have undergone rewrite after rewrite and still I sit and ”stew ” over them.

Even the novel I have had published, I re read it and think…Hmmm, I wonder.

And just when I am about to chuck my manuscript in the electronic waste basket I think…I’ll give it another shot.

Yet, what is truly frustrating is the author is not necessarily the best judge of the work.

Writing I have thought of as really inspired has oft times received a lukewarm reception and stuff I have had a take it or leave it attitude has been warmly received.

One man’s meat is another mans poison, right?

Anyway, here are 800 words of  the first novel in a fantasy series titled The Mining of Lif.

I have yet to decide whether I should put this forward.

The Mining of Lif.

In the beginning…again

Part I

Prologue

As writing is an act of creation it must, therefore, have a creator.

And one of the marvellous literary licenses of narrative fiction that such a creator is able to take is to create whatever he/she wants.

   You mean like me?

There you go. Now I’m not talking to myself anymore.

   You sure about that?

Of course, I’m sure. I created you.

   So am I a who, whom or what?

All three, if you like. But for now you can be the Wholly Ghost.

   Oooh, with Capitals, too. I like it. But…er, isn’t it spelled incorrectly?

No. Not for this story.

   Oh, careful. You had a bit of an italic episode there.

Anyway, the point of this introduction is, well, because I can, and because I am reminded of a song called, “Third stone from the sun.”

   Aha! Right. See where you’re going.

And…

   ‘S’cuse me. But that’s two, “Ands…” in the space of two sentences. Can you do that?

Creators can do anything. It’s their version of reality, after all.

   If you say so.

I do. What’s more, we get to be part of the stories.

   We do? Hey, that’s great. So what are we? Heroes or villains?

Neither. We are what we are.

   Sounds confusing

You’ll see as we go along.

   This is a bit like playing You Know Who.

Ah, now you’re getting it.

   Hold on a moment, you said stories. There is more than one?

Absolutely. Things did not grind to a halt after the initial act of creation. Lif goes on.

   I’d check that last sentence. You made a spelling error. That should be Life.

No. It’s the correct spelling.

   Now I’m confused again. Can we get on with the story?

I think it’s probably best we do.

   Oh, by the way, you’re not going to start off with, Once upon a time, are you? I hate stories like that.

No, I am not going to start it like that.

   Good, because—

That’s the second sentence.

   Oh, god.

Yes?

 Chapter 1

The wondrous, most magnificent planet of Lif is an absolute marvel; a marvel it exists at all.

Once upon a time, as so many stories begin, this blue and white planet, which was known by another name, floated in its own unique spot in the universe somewhere between nothingness and eternity, orbiting around an insignificant sun, in an even more insignificant galaxy.

It still does.

In the beginning, as with most planets, nothing much happened for g’zillions of years…

Eventually, Mother Nature began to bring forth life in all its myriad of unusual, but nonetheless wonderful, forms.

Over time, a semi-sophisticated race evolved to take its place in the galactic sunshine. They developed technology; including a reasonable space program, fast food outlets, television re-runs and toothpaste with five stripes. This race also succeeded in polluting half ‘their’ world’s natural freshwater supply and managed to exterminate innumerable species of flora and fauna.

Much of this race believed in a creator god and they established thousands upon thousands of different religious sects to worship him. Or possibly her. Some may suggest this race was merely a bunch of sects maniacs. Whatever they were, it was never quite clear why so many different sects were needed to worship this creator god but each sect believed in its own superiority. What the creator god thought of all this was never determined. Although, with billions of worshippers all praying to him, or possibly her, the Creator probably took loads of headache tablets.

Most prayers were about really important stuff such as, ‘please let me sink this last putt’ or ‘I know I forgot to buy a ticket, again, but can’t you help me win the lottery just this once and I promise to go to church, mosque, shul, temple, meeting room above the  Pig and Whistle every week.’

During this period, they engaged in several thousand wars, some of which were global and along the way developed the means to clone plants, animals and themselves.

Eventually, all but four countries abolished the death penalty and they decided to call themselves civilised.

Wallowing in all their glorious, self-congratulatory wonderfulness, they were not quite prepared for what appeared out of the blue.

It arrived during a World Cup final, which only goes to show that not everyone is a Soccer Fan.

Some have called them Dino-Killers. Others have called them Planet Busters.  Maybe only the Creator knows the name of this meteor, as after it hit all that remained was mostly water and dirt and the few survivors had far more pressing things to attend to than naming a bloody great piece of space rock.

Oh, by the way, in case you believe that the Creator never answers any prayers you are wrong. God did answer one chap who pleaded for a golf shot. Unfortunately, this chap signed his card incorrectly and was fined or penalised or whatever they do to golfers. He blamed the Creator for this too.

Just no pleasing some people.

   So. In the beginning…again.

First, there was the word. Not the word, but rather another word.

The other word was “oops,” accompanied by a shrug and a sigh.

And then there was Lif…

 

 

©Douglas Pearce

The Box

Chapter 2

After the third ring the phone was answered.

‘ Bryston, three triple four double seven five, The Orchards, June Smith speaking.’

‘Gran?’

‘Oh, hello, Michael. How are you sweetheart?’

‘Er…fine, gran,’ Michael replied. ‘Gran?’

‘Yes, dear?’

‘What is The Orchards?’

Aunty Apple chuckled. ‘Well, you know how some people like to name their houses? They call them silly names like Sea View or Mountain Way or some such and they are nowhere near the sea and the closest mountain is probably on the other side of the country. Or even in another country.’ 

‘Yes, Gran, but….’

‘So I thought it would be fun to name my house The Orchards,’ Aunty Apple continued apparently unaware of Michael’s attempt to interrupt her.

‘But wouldn’t you be just like those other silly people?’ Michael asked, wondering if his gran was going a bit dolally. Perhaps she wasn’t aware of the black crocodile skin book after all?

‘I said the names were silly. I didn’t say the people were.’

‘Yes, but … you haven’t got an orchard so why call your house The Orchards?’

‘Oh, haven’t I now?’ Aunty Apple said, and Michael could sense that on the other end of the phone his gran was smiling. ‘Why don’t you catch the bus and come over? Oh, and you’ll be wanting to ask me about the book as well, I expect, so you best bring it with. See you later.’

The line went click as the call was ended. Michael was left holding the phone with a bemused expression on his face. Then he put the phone back on its cradle and said aloud, ‘What orchard?’

‘Pardon?’ his mother asked as she passed him in the hall on her way to fetch her coat from the small cloakroom next to the front door.

‘Has Aunty…gran, I mean, got an orchard?’

‘Orchard? You mean as in apples trees?’

‘Um…I guess,’ Michael replied, shrugging.

‘Well, there’s the allotment. When your granddad was alive he grew all sorts of vegetables, but there’s no trees, and certainly no fruit trees. I don’t think your gran uses it much anymore, even though there’s still goodness knows how many years left on the lease.’

DSP© 2013