Book Extract…

I haven’t posted here in ages, but my Altered Ego, the Ark, did a post over here

about sailing off the edge of the world and during a further conversation it brought this to mind.

From the fantasy novel, The Nine Amendments.

Undertaker, Isack Knewtun is having dinner with Captain Blithely. He is sailing to Sunniclimes….

Isack, who fastidiously avoided most things to do with the Church, didn’t seem to think excommunication sounded too bad until  Captain Blithely explained that although they were only planning to throw him out of the church, it was the six-storey drop from the bell-tower that would have been the problem.

‘Ah, I see your point. What about the prayer and the circle thing?’

‘You prob’ly know that when the wardens mark you for excommunication they make the sign of a cross, like an ‘X’. Three crosses and that’s a strikeout. The sign of the circle, or nought, ‘spossed to counteract it. Mr. Winky’s little prayer is sort of forun. Means, Please keep me out the sh—’

‘I think I understand,’ Isack interjected. ‘We were talking about your brother, Captain.’

‘Oooaargh that we were. Well then. ‘Parrantly one of their lot had come a cropper while convertin’ the ‘eathens up in the jungles of Wethafkarwee. Are you familiar with the place in question, Mister Knewtun?’

‘I know of it, but have not visited the country.’ Isack’s idea of well-travelled was having visited all the cemeteries in and around Port o’ Bill.

‘Visited. Right. Doubt it’s the type of place you’d choose fer a visit. Those what ‘as visited, as it were, didn’t return to tell the tale, oooaaargh. In fact, none that I’m aware of even had chance to send a postcard.’

‘Yes, I had heard it to be rather foreboding.’

‘Oh, I wouldn’t know nothing ‘bout bodin’, Mister Knewtun, I’m only a simple ship’s captain. What I do knows is that it is a very portentous place where they ‘ave very interestin’ culinary ‘abits. Sometimes involvin’ visitors.’   Blithely pulled on his pipe in a sagely manner and finished the draw with his familiar phrase.

‘Good gods, cannibals!’ Isack exclaimed. He was aghast.

‘Aye, caninballs, Mister Knewtun, caninballs. So’s you can p’raps understand the C-word’s urgency on settin’ off on their rescue mission.’

‘I can indeed, Captain. What an awful business. Very rum,’ Isack added for maritime effect.

‘Oh, sorry, Mister Knewtun, where’s me manners. Pour us all a drink there, Mr. Winky, if y’please.’

‘Aye, cap’n.’

Winky got up to oblige.

Isack had never drunk rum from a tankard before and certainly not one that was full to the brim.


‘Don’t worry about it, Mister Knewtun. There’s plenty. Wonderful cleanin’ properties. Removes encrusted salt and loosens up the barnacles a proper treat, it does. On the ship too, fer that matter.

‘Where was I? Anyways, they was in such an ‘urry they wouldn’t let any of them poor sales-ladies off the boat ‘afore they set sail. Said that although this was a rescue mission, the girls would be able to help the C-word with other positions of missionary work. They also took with ‘em several tools of their trade, includin’ one hundred fully armed and caparisoned soldiers. My brother was not an ‘appy man, I can tell you, Mister Knewtun.’

‘Doesn’t seem as though he had much choice, Captain,’ said Isack sympathetically.

‘Oh, ‘e ‘ad choice all right. There’s always that, Mister Knewtun. The choice ‘e was offered was, relinquish control of your ship to the servants of the Mighty, or swing. So he relinquished. For a while, at least. Well, the ship landed at Wethafkarwee and they found their warden. Some of ‘im, anyways, so I ‘eard. But the wardens of the C-word reckoned that as they was already there they might as well do some convertin’. Can’t say fer sure what they converted them Fkarweans into but it was probably similar to the conversion undergone by that unfortunate T-word warden.’

Isack noticed a look of disgust and contempt on Blithely’s face when he said C-word. A look suggesting that while not condoning cannibalism, it had even less respect for the Church.

Although Blithely didn’t ‘hold none fer foruners’, at least the Fkarweans didn’t invade Judysear and force everyone to worship their god, which just happened to be a five-toed sloth called ‘OO-OO.’ And of course, they had to eat something, he supposed.

‘They set sail shortly after their convertin’ and ‘eaded ‘ome. But what Fkarweans was left was proper…you know, like when you ‘as too much to drink.’

‘Er…drunk?’ Isack suggested.

‘The other word.’

‘Ah,’ Isack nodded, eyeing his own drink cautiously.

‘So they sets off in pursuit and gave chase, forcing my brother to alter course. Those little canoes o’ theirs can go right fast with enough motivation.

‘Well, my brother pointed ‘is ship at the horizon and hoisted ev’ry sail ‘e ‘ad, believing they wouldn’t give chase to the edge of the world, like. But they did. Meanwhile, them wardens was screamin’ blue murder, knowin’ full well that my brother was set on sending ‘is ship off the edge, if necessary, rather than fall into the ‘ands of the Fkarweans.  ‘E wasn’t about to let anyone make a whore’s derves outta ‘im.’

‘But that’s an old wives’ tale. Surely your brother knew the world is round?’

‘Not ever ‘avin a wife, young or old, ‘e was in two minds about what shape the world is. Flat or round, made no difference to ‘im, long as the water didn’t fly off.

‘But the Chur…sorry, Mr. Winky, the C-word, knows it’s flat and they’ll sail right round t’prove it. That’s about the time they got all the sailors t’mutiny and key-holed me brother, Mister Knewtun.’

‘I’m dreadfully sorry, Captain Blithely. Truly I am,’ said Isack.

‘S’okay, Mister Knewtun, Fkarweans got all but one of ‘em anyways. Found the poor wretch washed up on a beach a ways up the coast. Tha’s ‘ow we was able t’piece together the story. Died shortly after, ‘e did. Boat drifted ‘ome on its own a few days later, and at least my brother was already diced.’

©Douglas Pearce 2013



Wormhole for the Devil. a novel

by request,

For Sonel.

*SAM is a computer.

Chapter Seventeen

The Delta II circled the city of Jerusalem. All three men were glued to the images *Sam was showing.  Crowd activity below began to increase around a group of figures being led through the narrow streets. It caught the attention of the crew.

‘Sam, can you focus on the crowd, please. Let’s see what’s going on. Just for curiosity’s sake,’ Dan asked. The computer obliged. ‘Sam, what do you make of this?’ he added

‘Based on the objects some of the men are carrying I believe we are about to witness an execution.’

‘Oh my God. Are you serious?’

‘I think Sam’s right.’ said Kevin.

‘Crucifixion was a common form of punishment during Roman times, so my data tells me.’

For the moment, morbid fascination kept their eyes glued to the screen.

‘Give us audio please, Sam. Perhaps we might learn something.’

The bridge was instantly filled with the sounds of screaming, shouting and wailing.   The prisoners’ escort of soldiers was having a difficult job keeping the large crowd at bay. One of the soldiers lashed out viciously with a whip at anyone who got too close.  The significance of what they were watching had momentarily escaped Kevin. But as he looked more closely at the unfolding scene he realized with almost apoplectic horror that this was no ordinary crucifixion.

‘Oh, my God. Oh, no. It can’t be. Oh, please, no. Not this!’

Dan and Richard turned to stare at Kevin. They were shocked at the distraught expression on his face.

‘Kevin, what is it?’ Dan insisted.

‘That’s him,’ he said pointing at one of the figures.

‘Him? Him, who? You recognise one of the prisoners?’ Dan couldn’t believe it.

‘You mean you don’t realise what’s going on here? Kevin was aghast.

‘How could we possibly know what –’ Dan stopped. Kevin had gone white; every ounce of colour had drained from his face. ‘What the hell is it,’ Dan said his voice almost a whisper.

But Kevin seemed almost beyond reason. ‘No! This you must not touch or interfere with in any way. If you have no knowledge of what I’m talking about then we must leave it alone. Find some other event to get us back home. I’m warning you, do not touch this. Please, for the love of….just get us away from here, now!’

‘Who said we were going to interfere? Dan said. But now, seeing Kevin’s reaction, morbid curiosity turned to serious concern.

‘Kevin. Look at me,’ Dan insisted. Kevin turned. ‘What is it? Tell me what’s going on down there?

‘No!’ Kevin yelled. Then he leapt out of his seat and stormed off the bridge.

‘What the hell is the matter with him?’ Richard asked. He was also shocked at the vehemence of Kevin’s reaction.

‘Sam, help us out here,’ Dan asked, still staring down the passage after Kevin.

‘I am searching my data banks now, captain. Unfortunately there are few details. Crucifixion was a common form of execution around this period. Hold on.  One person is singled out. His name was Yashua. He was the religious teacher Kevin mentioned. A religion called Christianity was founded based on his teachings. It grew to become one of the largest religions on earth. Its followers believe he was either the Son of God or God incarnate. But what is of significance to us is that records show he was put to death in the year A.D.30 approximately. If this is that same man then we have a time frame to work with.’

‘Okay. Let’s assume for the moment that this is the same man. Are you able to begin a preliminary reconfiguration of the drive system?’

‘Yes, captain. I believe I can.’

‘Then start, please. In the meantime we will keep an eye on what’s happening below us.   If this pans out we could be home sooner than we thought.’

They turned back to the gruesome scene that was about reach its climax on a desolate looking hill outside the city.

Once the three prisoners and their escort had reached the execution site, a cordon was formed to prevent the volatile crowd, which seemed divided equally between sympathisers and detractors, from interfering. The guards stripped the three men down to their loincloths, manhandling them to the ground. The wooden crossbeams they had carried from the city were placed underneath their shoulder blades.

‘So this is the King of the Jews,’ one of the legionnaires announced. ‘Don’t look much like a fucking king now, does he?’

His cruel jibe drew howls of more derisive laughter from some members of the crowd.

The man in question looked up at the soldier from his prone position on the sun baked dirt.    I will not scream or cry out, he thought. I will NOT!   Clang! Clang! Clang! The legionnaire hammered home the first nail through the wrist of his right arm, securing it to the wooden beam beneath him. Pain, like white-hot fire, shot up his arm. The man cried out. He could not help himself. The pain was excruciating. He gagged as bile rose in his throat. Rough, calloused hands pulled his left arm straight out at right angles to his body. The hammer smote the second nail through the wrist of his left arm. Again he cried out.

He wore a crude crown of thorns that someone had forced on his head. The razor sharp barbs had cut into his flesh at several points and the deep cuts bled copiously.

The other two condemned men were going through similar agony as him. There was screaming all around him and every cry brought an equally loud cheer from some parts of the crowd.

But the pain seemed to heighten his senses rather than dull them. He could almost taste the sickly sweet smell of body odour, accentuated by fear. And he was not immune to that fear either. Unable to prevent himself he lost control of his bladder. Warm urine soaked his loincloth then ran down the inside of his leg onto the parched earth. It formed a dark puddle underneath him.

One of the soldiers standing above him watched as the urine began to wend its way towards his sandal. He sidestepped then spat at the prone man.

‘Ah look. Wot a shame the King of the Jews has pissed his self!’

There were cackles of cruel laughter from other soldiers who were within earshot. He ignored the insults.

One of the other prisoners let out the most horrible screeching sound he had ever heard. The prisoners eyes rolled so only the whites were showing. Then he threw up all over himself. He began to twitch and squirm like a fish on a line as the last of the nails was driven home.

At that point he passed out.

The man on the first cross turned his head away from the sight, screwing up his eyes in an effort to shut out the horror going on around him.

But his own torture was far from over. His arms, just above the elbow, were tied to the beam. Now firmly secure, four more soldiers lifted the crossbeam and hoisted it upwards where they slotted it into a groove cut out of an upright, four-metre length of timber that was placed in a hole in the ground.

Whilst the soldiers on the ground supported the crossbeam with their spears, another soldier standing on a ladder tied the beam to the upright with rope. The soldier then nailed a small wooden plaque, inscribed with a few details of the crime, onto the cross just above the condemned man’s head. Whilst standing on a small wooden perch, approximately six inches long and three inches wide affixed halfway up the upright, another legionnaire began to climb a ladder up to him. He had a hammer in his belt and a six-inch nail between his teeth. The crucified man had to put one foot on top of the other whilst the legionnaire hammered the nail through both feet to the perch. The nail broke two bones as it passed through his feet.

This pain was too much. For a few moments, he passed out.

Bile rose in his throat. He came to gagging.

The ropes around his arms were untied and he was left suspended from the nails. Before long, sinews and muscles, stretched to the limit, would begin to tear.

Death, often as a result of suffocation, was inevitable. It would be a welcome relief to the horrendous pain.

After nailing his feet to the perch, the soldier climbed down and removed the ladder. With hands on hips, he stared up at the man. His head had already slumped forward and his eyes looked rheumy.

The soldier hacked and spat a large glob of phlegm at the foot of the cross.

‘Stupid bastard!’ He swore in ridicule.

The man opened his eyes briefly and smiled down at him. Not a smile of defiance but more of sorrow. Or pity. In that instant, their eyes made contact and the soldier saw something he had not recognised before. He could not explain it in any rational sense but his cheeks began to redden with shame and understanding. He lowered his gaze.   Tears started to course down his cheeks and run into the corners of his mouth.  Unconsciously he licked at them, tasting the salt. Then he gave a heart-rending sob.  Heads turned in his direction. But he didn’t seem to care who saw him cry. Unbuckling his sword, and then removing his helmet, he flung them viciously to the ground. He looked up at the crucified man once more and yelled at the top of his lungs.

‘You stupid fucking, bastard!’ Only this time he wasn’t sure if he meant the man on the cross or himself.

Wormhole for the Devil. Copyright ©Douglas Pearce

Size really does matter….ask the girls!

It’s said by those who understand such things that a writer must like his characters or at least identify with them in some fashion so as to give a greater feel of realism to the story.

I’m not sure how true this is or even if I’ve related this correctly. Anyway, I must say, I do like like the character, Isack. He is an undertaker (though please don’t read too much into that!) . A decent, down to earth sort of bloke that tries his best and wherever possible  he helps out others, and like all proper heroes , he gets the girl!

This is from The Nine Amendments; the third book in the Mining of Lif series.

* The Trois: Despotic church that rules the country of Judysear.

Enjoy. Hope it brings a smile.

Isack lay sprawled among the cushions in Nefer’s summer pavilion. The owner of the pavilion lay next to him, nestled against his bare chest under his left arm.

Isack had never been in love before. He had once asked his father what it was like. His father had described feelings such as butterflies in your stomach, going off your food and walking on cloud nine. What Isack remembered most about the conversation was the smile that spread across his father’s face.

Isack currently had a similar expression on his face.

A cool breeze wafted gently through the pavilion, causing the fine silk curtains to ripple; offering him fleeting glimpses of the Sceptre Sea through hooded eyelids.

Although not a religious man, he was aware of the phrase, died and gone to heaven. He was also aware of the other phrase about heaven on earth. And at that moment this was how he felt.

‘Why’s yours so big?’ The voice hit him like a bucket of cold water and had the same effect as when thrown over mating dogs. As with dogs, this effect is not instantaneous, so he was still very much in a state of  ‘soldierlyness’ as his right arm shot down to cover his private parts.

‘Uncle Moon’s isn’t as big as yours and neither is Samsong’s. And all the priests I’ve seen have small ones. So why’s yours so big, hey?’

The voice was next to his right ear. Isack didn’t dare open his eyes.

Nefer opened her left eye, peering at the mini-apparition over Isack’s chest.

‘Hello, sweetie,’ said Nefer in a sleepy voice.

‘Auntie Nef, how come his is so big and all the other men’s are so small?’

Nefer allowed herself a smile and looked up at Isack with naughty eyes.

‘Well, dear, Isack is special. Now run along with Samsong, there’s a good girl. We need to sleep some more.’

People in Sunniclimes are quite open about nudity but have a great respect for privacy. Especially an individual’s privacy.  Whereas in Judysear, the opposite is true.

The Trois take a very dim view of nudity. In fact, so dim there is a decree that any exposure of the human body between the neck and the knees will likely cause irreparable damage to a person’s eyesight.

(Renegade priest, Martini Loofa once noted that the church of the Trois was becoming cornea with every passing decree.)

Not that it mattered much, as the weather in Judysear did not encourage taking one’s clothes off.

The subject of sex is completely taboo. During the reign of Poop Poulit XIX, he decreed that Bye Bill’s instruction:  go forth and multiply, would henceforth refer to establishing a university of specialist mathematicians. Fortunately, the next revision, while by no means encouraging any form of sexual activity, at least acknowledged that procreation was necessary. In the dark. And, if possible, without touching or if not, with gloves on and preferably without removing any clothes.

‘You’re making babies, hey?’ said Prudence matter-of-factly.

Isack nearly squawked.  He couldn’t even cover himself as there were no sheets.

‘No, sweetie. No babies. Not yet, at least.’ Nefer pinched Isack’s left buttock. He let out a tiny squeak.

Isack heard the child sigh hugely and walk off. ‘s’not fair.’

Outside the pavilion a male voice entered the dialogue.

‘Come, kid. Let’s find that pet of yours, okay?’

Isack heard part of one more line of conversation that included the words “Isack” and “big nose”. Somewhere in the distance a goat bleated.

Copyright © Douglas Pearce 2013

The first book in the series is available…for free!

Book Extract – Almost Dead in Suburbia.

almost dead2

Chapter 1

Not Really Dead

‘Eighty-three,’ the squeaky voice called out.

Thirty-three heads dropped to stare at the numbered ticket each person clutched for dear life.

‘Nope,’ said a voice from behind. A heavy sigh was the response from the woman sitting two seats away.

‘Fookin’ ‘ell,’ – an erudite outburst from the back of the room.

There was also a small cheer. Someone got up and disappeared beyond the temporary partition for a few minutes; then reappeared, all smiles, holding on to their prize and giving a fleeting look at the poor sods that remained before making a beeline for the exit.

And so it went on. Funny that, Ralph thought, we’ve all been here the best part of an hour and yet every time the secretary or tea lady of whatever she was entered the room and called out a number, every single person looked at his or her raffle ticket.  You would think after sitting in the same position for so long everyone would remember their ticket number.

His reaction was no different from the rest of them.  His head went down just like theirs every time the tea lady (he had decided to go with this option) walked across the grubby black-and-white linoleum floor, stood in front of this small gathering, and recited.

The response was usually the same.  Nope, Sigh or Fookin’ ‘ell.  There had been a fourth respondent previously sitting in the chair directly behind Sigh.  He alternated between ‘shit’ and ‘shoot’, but had left in a fit of pique after having his number called out whilst he was not in the room.  Leaning forward, he had tapped Sigh on the shoulder, and as she turned said in a hoarse whisper ‘I’m just popping into the corridor for a smoke.  I’m dying here without a ciggy.  Wave if my number’s called, okay?  I’ll be able to see you through the glass.’

She nodded dumbly.  Trouble was, Shit/Shoot was in such a rush to have his ‘ciggy’ that he forgot to tell her his number.

When he re-entered, leaving behind a cloud of smoke, Sigh beckoned him over and whispered.

‘You forgot to tell me your ticket number, dear.’ Shit/Shoot mumbled ‘Shit,’ and when Tea Lady reappeared he enquired about the last couple of numbers. Lo and behold, one of them had been his. A few words of pleading, followed by a brief heated outburst containing several more colourful expletives, did not produce the desired result: that of being bumped up the queue.

Losing his temper with Tea Lady wasn’t winning him any friends among the others in the room either. She would not budge.  He had missed his turn, and that was that.  She tore off another raffle ticket, which she handed to him and indicated with steely grey eyes that he should take his seat once more. Shit/Shoot nearly had a fit, screwed up his ticket, then unscrewed it and tore it into little pieces right under Tea Lady’s nose.

Her response appeared practised.  ‘Security,’ was the call.  Tea Lady didn’t even raise her voice.

Shit/Shoot stormed off in a rage, banging into the metal waste bin as he turned, and hurting his right knee in the process.

Seems it’s true: smoking is bad for your health, Ralph thought.  Then, just as he felt the impulse to smile, he received a murderous glance from Shit/Shoot and quickly rearranged his expression into the one that said, ‘I’m a moron just like the rest of us here.’

Forty-seven minutes and eighteen seconds later Tea Lady called out number ninety-two and Ralph leaped out of the plastic seat, went into the available cubicle, handed over his receipt and was issued with his new passport. When was that, he wondered?  He couldn’t remember.  It wasn’t important.  Not any more, anyway.  Dead people don’t need passports.  So why had he been thinking of the passport office?

Then he got it.  The raffle tickets.  He imagined wherever it might be he was heading to would have a similar character who would call out his number when it was time for him to ‘go’.  But go where?  That was the question he was waiting to be answered.

Ah, here it comes, the tunnel, the bright light.  This must be it.  He had heard or read something about people who claimed they had died and afterwards . . . what was the term? Came back to life?  Resurrected?  Anyway, all had said that this was how it was.  For some reason he felt that the opportunity to confirm the story to anyone would not present itself.  Unless, of course, he found a way to communicate from the ‘other side’.

He began moving towards the bright light.  Not too far now, he thought, although there was no real sense of distance.  The light just seemed to swell around him until he became immersed in it.  His final thought before crossing over: ‘Hey, just think, I get to meet God and Jesus.’ From a self-confessed atheist this was quite ironic. Suddenly, he was back in the real world, whatever that was.  The tunnel had gone, the bright light had vanished, and he was standing outside a suburban house at the scene of an accident. At first glance it looked as though an ambulance had rammed into a car as it was reversing out of a driveway. What the hell! Then he realised where he was, and what he was looking at.   The car was his, the house was his – well, rented – and the unfortunate victim lying on a stretcher by the damaged blue BMW was himself.

Almost Dead in Suburbia©DSP

Published by P’kaboo South Africa