Sir Apidae and the Beast

You join us, fair reader, in the kingdom of Anthophila. What once was a peaceful and prosperous kingdom has now turned to despair; ravaged by a giant Beast who descends upon the land, decimating homes and pillaging gold. The Queen, pre-empting further attacks, sent out her strongest, most fearless knights to try and defeat the monster. All left with strength in their heart and courage on their side but none returned and each time the Beast came back stronger and more destructive.

Following the latest and most brutal attack of them all, the Queen called upon her final and most honourable knight, Sir Apidae. Sir Apidae had travelled far and wide upon many quests for the Queen, always returning with gold from villages grateful for their saviour. Sir Apidae reached the towering hall of the castle, his armour glinting in the sunlight streaming through the windows that lined the walls, and knelt before his Queen.

“Sir Apidae,” said the Queen, “thank you for returning my call.”
“I am at your disposal your majesty.”
“While you were away the Beast ravaged our kingdom once more. I am afeard to say you are our last hope.”
“You can count on me your majesty. I shall return with the Beast’s claw in hand or die trying,” replied Sir Apidae.
The Queen merely nodded her head in gratitude, for the latter was what she feared the most.

Come daybreak Sir Apidae rode out, his trusty sword at his side. He travelled the main road out of the city, weaving between houses and waving you youngsters as he passed by, all the while wondering if he would ever see their smiling faces again. As he reached the outskirts the damage from the Beast began to show; rubble strewn across the road, whole houses raised to the ground and families rummaging to recover anything from the pile. This sight caught Sir Apidae off guard, he knew the damage had been great but had not seen it to this extent himself. He fought the urge to stay and help the families rebuild their lives; that was not his task, and it was his chance to save further heart ache.

As he headed out of the city the road became rougher but the path to the Beast was clear, for in its wake it left only destruction. Sir Apidae had heard rumours that the Beast resided in a cave not far from the neighbouring village and so he travelled on until he reached an inn; the thatch mid-repair, clearly the Beast’s doing.

“Dear sir,” called Sir Apidae to the worker on the roof, “know you the whereabouts of the Beast?”
The worker paused his toil and looked down upon Sir Apidae, “why, pray tell, do you ask?”
“I am Sir Apidae of Anthophila, first knight of the Stenotri and here by order of the Queen to hunt down the Beast and rid our kingdom of this scourge.”
“Begging your pardon brave knight but you are quite dim to attempt this feat alone,” the worker replied. “Many have tried and all have failed, what makes you so different?”
Sir Apidae was taken aback by the abruptness of the young worker, “I am an experienced warrior, having ridden many times into battle and each time returning unscathed. I am a great mediator, often negotiating treaties on behalf of her majesty bringing about peace between lands, but most importantly…I am the only one left.”
The worker stood aghast, “the only one?! Well sir, say what you need and I shall do my best to assist you, for you are our last hope.”
“I just need to know the way dear friend. Rumour has it the Beast resides in a cave near here.”
“That I can confirm to be true. The cave is carved into the face of the cliff overlooking the village, only a few miles out.”
“Thank you for your assistance, I shall away and leave you to thatch your roof in peace.”
“But Sir, before you pass on, my brother is the most skilled armorer in the whole kingdom. I beg of you, let me call upon him to create for you the best defence possible against the beast.”

Sir Apidae glanced down at the armour he wore. It was old, tarnished and bore the scars of the many battles that came before. If he wanted to defeat the Beast he would need the best defence as skill alone was not enough. Sir Apidae agreed and the worker took him to his brother who worked through the night crafting the strongest and lightest armour the knight had ever seen. It gleamed bright gold, striped through with inlayed black onyx.

The armour complete, Sir Apidae rose at dawn, the better to catch the Beast unawares. He scaled the cliff with ease, his new armour being much lighter than that he had used before. He climbed on and on, through the clouds until he reached the top where upon he found a thicket woven of vines and thorns. Sir Apidae drew his sword from his side and hacked at the thicket, battling his way through until…

The Beast was awake but not yet aware of Sir Apidae’s presence. For this he was grateful; the element of surprise was always an advantage. He crept up as close as he dare before he took his sword and thrust it into the hide of the Beast. A roar of pain burst from the mouth of the beast and it swung this way and that, swatting for Sir Apidae. The knight retreated, his sword lodged with that first striking blow, but the Beast had him in its sights and began advancing. He looked behind him and could see the cliff edge and knew then the Beast’s plan. Sir Apidae gathered the last of his energy and leapt at the Beast, scratching and clawing at it until he was thrust aside and toppled over the edge.


“Ow! Little fucker”
“What?” asked Steve. At least she assumed it was Steve, it was quite difficult to tell each other apart under all the gear.
“One of them got me on the neck! I thought the netting was supposed to stop that.”

Sarah pulled her netted hat around to find a small hole in the weaving. She sighed and pulled a patch from her pocket, carefully sealing it. She caught sight of it out of the corner of her eye and bent down to take a closer look. Swollen little body, wings bent, legs twitching. “Poor little bugger,” she thought.

She stood, adjusted her hat, and headed out towards the hives, honey crate in hand.


Pride and Programming

It is a truth universally disparaged, that a single man can find the perfect wife on his own.

Youthful and impetuous, these men cannot be trusted, and over the generations a veritable legion of mothers and daughters has been assembled to compensate for this lack in intelligence and social mores. This has turned even the most childish game of pontoon into a dreadful battlefield of fine eyes and sweetened suggestions.

“Hells bells, Mrs Greenway,” cried he to his wife, “I have found our solution!” The Mrs Greenway in question was readying herself for a fit of the vapours as punishment for her husband’s complete lack of refinement, paused mid-swoon. It seemed to her that some men never made it out of the young and impetuous stage, no matter how many matrons descend upon them.

“What is it, Mr Greenway? You must tell me for you have quite nearly ruined my nerves!”

“A solution, and an easy one at that,” he replied, flourishing a periodical and eyeing the lace hanky his wife twisted in her hands. He had already achieved his daily average of three lace victims to his wife’s aggravated nerves, now he set out for the fourth. He settled back into the armchair and made no further answer.

“My dear husband, how can you do this to me? I shall be confined to my bed until the coming Thursday if you continue to play such cruel games,” she exclaimed, wafting her face anxiously. “Has a rich man come to the neighbourhood searching for a wife? If he has taken on Spitfield Halls, it guarantees a fortune of at least ten thousand a year! A magnificent catch for Emilia that would be!”

“It is much simpler than even that, my dear one. It is a machine that calculates the perfect couple and it is going to be revealed in London next month. They say it cannot be refuted.”

“We must go to Town at once! The future of our daughter demands it,” the good lady cried but her husband only settled back to his morning paper nonchalantly.

“We shall have to see; my business has not been looking favourable as of late.”

The fourth handkerchief was shredded at last.


Of course, Mr Greenway was merely teasing, and the next day he rented a smart townhouse, suitable for his income and large enough that in the study, he might not hear his wife’s squawks of outrage or adulation from the parlour. As a man of only a few thousand, many debts and a wallflower for a daughter, he had not been looking forward to the expenses that attending every Season until a man was intimidated enough to take Emilia on. Mrs Greenway might see a gilded version of her daughter, but the truth was that she was a plain, moonfaced girl, and inattentive to boot. Not a marriageable combination. This new-fangled machine was the cheapest, quickest solution, and Mr Greenway was determined to take it.

Meanwhile, Emilia accepted the decision with amiable apathy, content to be pulled wherever her parents wanted. Despite her mother’s frequent overtures about her looks (“skin like fresh paper, my darling) and her demeanour (“no man wants a harridan for a wife, and you are such a little mouse”), she had looked in enough mirrors and been to enough dances to know her chances on the marriage market were minimal. And more than that, she had little interest in people let alone any feelings that could be construed as romantic in nature. She found society to be monotonous and wearisome, something for which a childhood living with the likes of Mr and Mrs Greenway had not been beneficial. Rather she learnt how to smile, nod and stay quiet, staunching the cutting remarks and strange observations that no one wanted to hear, especially from a child with so little to offer. So she sat in parlour after parlour, ball after ball, baring with the indignities caused by her silly Mother. Customarily, she would find the nearest vase with tasteful Classical motifs and blithely stare at it as her mother filled the room:

“Oh, the colour of your gown! Such an awful puce I thought. But, dear, it does lift your complexion so.”

“Young things today, they really are not bought up with the exactness to propriety that we were! Say, I heard that your eldest son is somewhat of a macaroni?”

“My darling Ethelberta, the ornament on the lintel? I’ve seen such things at the village market back home, it is so nostalgic.”

Even the ugliest vase is a haven when a daughter is challenged with this.


Dressed in an insipid pink gown, Emilia entered into the large side room, beset by her parents on either side. They had almost not arrived at the grand townhouse on Dorset Street, her mother succumbing to acute nerves in the carriage over.

“Mr Greenway, sir, you made sure to inform them of our Emilia’s dowry, did you not? I am certain it’s important. They would refuse us entry if they believed us impoverished, and then where would we be? At least we are in Town, we can establish ourselves early for the coming season.”

“Never fear, madam, I have put them in no uncertainty as to our financial position.”

“You heavenly man! Now Emilia, have no fear and remember what we discussed. If there is a rush, there is nothing unsporting about a well-placed slipper between a person’s feet… Mr Greenway, what was it exactly that you did not leave them uncertain about?”

There were no Incomparables of the first water strolling around the room, no disgustingly wealthy men looking for fine eyes, and absolutely no members of any royal family in poor disguise. Instead they had been invited to the showing with only the dregs of the Tonne and a handful of merchant families, all milling around the room, sipping weak tea and avoiding each other. Mrs Greenwood was aghast that they had been lumped into such a crowd, and ushered her family to a far-off table to formulate a new plan of assault.

Only the arrival of tea paused the matron long enough for Emilia to sweetly interject with a plea to take a turn around the room. Blessed with her mother’s acquiescence, she began to circle the room with as much grace as she could muster before sliding out of the door and into the cool freedom of the hallway. With no hysterics or fervent mutterings to distract her, she could finally decide her next move. Until now, she had been content to follow the wishes of others including that of marriage, but with its possibility and all the accompanying complications looming so close, so real, she found the idea to be disagreeable. Sickening even. Sharp voices echoing down the hall caught her attention, and man and woman appeared from behind a large potted plant. The man hardly glanced at Emilia as he turned and strode away, leaving the woman behind to manage the eavesdropper. Her sour expression was quickly smoothed over as she approached.

“Now, what are you doing here, Miss…?”

“Emilia Greenwood. I was just taking some air if you don’t mind. I am sorry if I intruded onto anything?”

“It is nothing. Charles and I do not always see eye to eye, and his latest machinations – let’s just say that I believe them to be an overreach of what we are currently able to achieve. Are you sure you are well? You do look dreadfully pale.”

Emilia decided against assuring the lady that she was always this pallid.

“I am simply nervous,” she said, feeling that it was a safe excuse but the woman stayed silent, waiting for the truth as her clever eyes assessed Emilia. “I… I don’t want marriage. But what else is there for me?” Moments passed like years before the woman replied.

“I am the programmer of the Eternity Engine, and I can arrange it so that marriage will never be a part of your future.”


If her parents were surprised by her sudden zeal to secure front seats in the machine’s reveal, they did not show it as they took to the much sought-after positions. Silence filled the room as final families filed in, and the man from the hall took to an improvised stage.

“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming here today to witness the revolution that will change the Empire – if not the world. Mismatched marriages will no longer be a risk. The expense and strain of coming out will soon be an antiquity from years gone by, and our children will be of the utmost beauty and breeding that is normally reserved for only the most fortunate among us. We can now find certainty in love and life at the flick of one small switch. I present to you, The Eternity Engine!” With a flourish, he drew back the curtain behind him to reveal a machine of gleaming brass and mahogany.

A murmur fluttered through the crowd as he held out his hand, “Now if I can just ask my lovely assistant, Ada, to step up here we can commence with the first demonstration.” The woman approached the machine and turned the crank, shoulders tight with affront that she should be so demoted. Neither looked to be afraid of the crackles and shudders that emanated from its heart, rather they did not seem to be hearing it at all as they explained its mechanics and its origins as the Analytical Engine. The erratic clanks and groans soon began to ease as the pistons began to curl and dance smoothly as if it breathed, and Ada made a show of selecting the first candidate. As planned, she surveyed the gathering before selecting Emilia. A contract was handed to Mr Greenways to sign, “All a formality, I can assure you, sir,” and Emilia was handed up to the machine.

“I have made all the necessary changes,” Ada whispered as she settled Emilia down in a chair set into the hollow of the machine. “You might feel a little kick to the neck, but if you remember what I said to do it will start printing nonsense rather than the analysis of your perfect match. Just tip your head forward for me, this will pinch.” She nipped the skin at the top of the girl’s neck with two delicate fingers and fixed a clamp there. Its needle-like teeth bit in deeply until it entered bone. “Not long before all of this is cast out as tosh, then it’s no more marriage for either of us.” Ada’s face disappeared from her vision and she was left alone in the churning breast of the Eternity Engine. Closing her eyes, Emilia concentrated on pushing back at the Engine with her mind. With Ada’s surreptitious changes to the programming, whatever that was, the machine was now open to manipulation and all she had to do was force it to print her thoughts, in particular those in regard to her spinster future. All those years of focusing on ornaments to drown out her mother had shaped Emilia’s mind into a hammer, and the moment the Engine connected with her with a resounding crack, she swung with all her might.

But there was no resistance, no wall to push her thoughts through. She tumbled in. There was no hope of saving herself as she floundered in the Engine’s silvery channels, her screams drowned in electric waves.


The Greenways watched Charles touch the switch, their hope turning to horror as their only daughter convulsed in the chair then slumped, indifferent to the grease and the audience. Grim seconds passed before a slip of paper was disgorged from the machine. Ada stared at it, blanched, and ran to Emilia, her shaking hands tearing the link from her nape. But the girl only slumped further down, lifeless. Another piece of paper slipped out. Charles took them carefully in hand and passed them gently to the couple:

~Oh merciful God, why?

~I am lost to the machine.

A Song to Summon My True Love Home

The diner was empty but for Jack and the waitress behind the counter. She polished glasses that didn’t need polishing as Jack stared thoughtfully into his mug. The jukebox was playing quietly, another song of love and sorrow and perhaps a pinch of hope… Jack didn’t sing along, but murmured occasional lines softly as he pondered the dark brew in the white mug.
“So what’s the story hun?”
The waitress had left her polishing and now stood closer, regarding Jack with curiosity.
“The story…?”
“You come in, drop some coins in the jukebox, pick your songs, order a mug of house blend and sit there watching it go cold as the music plays. You’re clearly not from round here, and I’m guessing you’ve come a long way, and have a ways to go. If you don’t have a story driving you, I’ll eat my hat.”
Jack smiled slightly and looked at the waitress.

“There was a girl,” Jack said, and the waitress grinned.
“I figured there might be.”
“I found her, or I guess we found each other. It was amazing, but brief, and in the end we went our different ways. Our lives were moving us away from each other, and at the time there was nothing we could do. So I lost her.”
The waitress pulled a stool up and sat across the counter from him.
“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked, and he shrugged.
“I don’t know that there’s much to tell.”
“I’m sure there is. What was her name, to start? And yours, for that matter?”
“I’m Jack. And she… Her name is Kara.”
“How did you meet?”
“It was in a diner, not unlike this one…” And Jack couldn’t stop the smile as the memory filled him.

He was travelling, an old fashioned road trip; he’d bought some transport, an old rust bucket of a thing but reliable enough to last, and he’d set out. He supposed it was in the hope that he’d learn something different from what he been taught, something real…
He’d travelled without a destination in mind, finding joy in the journey. He’d stop when he was hungry or tired, finding quirky motels or diners to rest in for an hour maybe, before heading on. If there was a jukebox he’d see if they had any songs he knew, and would nurse a brew as he listened.
And then one day, just as the last song he’d picked was playing, she walked in.

“It wasn’t like time slowed down or any other cliché, but… Suddenly I felt her there. Her presence was palpable, it changed the whole place.”
“What did she look like?” asked the waitress, smiling.
“She was beautiful. Her skin was pale, almost white. At first I thought her hair was black, but as she moved it shimmered and there were flashes of dark, metallic green. I don’t know if it was a dye, or… She moved with a grace borne out of… Not confidence, but simply comfort with who she was. She was beautiful.”
Jack paused, his mind full of her for a moment. Her smell, her voice, her presence… The waitress cleared her throat and he swallowed, blushing.
“And then she walked up to the counter and slid onto the stool next to me. She ordered a brew and sat with her head slightly on one side, listening to the song.”

Something in the kitchen beeped, and the waitress moved off to see to it, returning with two fresh mugs of the dark brew. She placed one in front of Jack and he thanked her, and she slid back onto her stool, two hands wrapped about her own mug.
“So who broke the ice?”
“She did. Well, sort of. She asked what the song was, and I screwed up the courage to tell her. From there we just got talking.”
“And you talked for hours?”
“Hours and hours. They closed the diner, kicked us out in the end. That was the beginning.”
“A good beginning.”
“Yes,” Jack said, taking a mouthful of the brew as his thoughts drifted over the months that followed.
They’d travelled together, drifting where the wind carried them, discovering more about each other every day and night. But in the end, reality caught up with them; Jack’s money was running out, and soon enough he needed to find another job. Kara had obligations to fulfil at home…
It had been beautiful, the most beautiful part of Jack’s life. But it had ended.

He was brought out of the reverie by the waitress’ hand touching his own. She was looking at him over her mug, still cupped in two hands. He gave her a small, lopsided smile and shrugged.
“So, you found something, and it was good, but it ended,” she said. “What has brought you here tonight?”
“I got a job, Kara moved home and fulfilled her obligations. We moved apart, lost touch, even though we didn’t want to. But every day, I thought of her. And soon enough I realised that the only life I wanted was one with her in it. So I’m trying to find her again.”
The waitress smiled. “Did you go to her home?”
“I did. But… She’d already left.”
“To go where?”
“No one knew, or at least, they wouldn’t say. I searched for a year, but couldn’t find a trace of her. So I decided to let fate guide me.”
The waitress raised a puzzled eyebrow, and Jack smiled.
“I’m travelling again now, like before. I go where the wind drives me, and I stop at every diner I find. And at every one I put some songs on the jukebox, the same songs I played on the day we met. I order a mug of the house brew, and I sit and listen to the music. And I hope, with every part of my soul, that before the last song finishes, she’ll walk through the door.”
The waitress’ eyes were wide, and after a moment she whispered the question.
“And she never has?”
Jack smiled, and he wondered if it hid the aching in his heart.
“Not yet.”

Neither of them spoke as the song that was playing faded. As the first notes of the next song began, Jack turned to glance out of the windows at the night beyond. But there was no pale woman with dark hair, just the shimmering stars drifting in the night sky…
“I like this,” the waitress said, and Jack turned back to her. She was listening, eyes closed, a small smile on her lips. “What is it?”
“Sam Cooke,” Jack told her. “Bring It On Home To Me. An old one.”
“I like it,” the waitress said, and put her mug down. “Do you want another brew, Jack?”
“No thanks,” Jack said. “I’ll be off in a minute. This is the last song.”
“This is the one that was playing…?”
Jack nodded, and the waitress glanced toward the door. He wanted to turn, but forced himself to stay still, wishing to prolong his hoping until the last moment…

As the song faded out, Jack sighed and got to his feet. He rummaged in his pocket and dropped some change on the counter, and the waitress gathered it slowly, thoughtfully.
“I’d better drift on,” Jack said.
“I hope you find her again.” The waitress’ eyes were wide and shining. Jack smiled, and shrugged.
“Me too. Maybe I will. Maybe not. But…”
The waitress grabbed Jack’s hand and spoke fiercely, passionately.
“But you have to follow your heart.”
Jack tried to speak, but found a lump in his throat. He squeezed the waitress’ hand, and she squeezed back, and they shared a small smile. Then the waitress let go of his hand, and he nodded. He shrugged into his jacket and moved slowly to the door. He paused just before he opened it, and turned back.

“I didn’t ask your name, did I? I’m sorry.”
The waitress shrugged.
“I was going to let it slide. I’m Yx.”
“Well then, Yx, thanks for the brew. Best I’ve had in a long while.”
“Glad to hear it.”
“And thanks. For listening.”
“Anytime. Good luck, Jack, and safe travels.”
“Thank you.”
And with a final wave, Jack stepped out into the night. He took a deep breath as the door swung shut behind him, and dug his keys out of his pocket as he crossed the tarmac.

He settled into the driver’s seat with a sigh and hit the ignition switch. As the light-drive engines began to hum he glanced through the windshield at Yx, who was wiping down the counter top, a cloth in each of her three hands.
“Good brew,” he murmured to himself. “Not quite coffee, but pretty damn close. Maybe I’ll come back…”
Then he pulled back on the controls and his ship rose upward, and Jack glanced down one last time at the Shooting Star Diner. In moments he had left the asteroid’s atmosphere shield, and he punched the thrusters up to full. Yx had been right; he had to follow his heart, and there were so many more places to try…

So Jack headed out into the dark expanse, the words of an old song drifting softly through the ship.
“If you ever change your mind
About leavin’, leavin’ me behind…”

Five Year Mission

I’ve made a huge mistake. 

It was supposed to be the opportunity of a lifetime. Of several lifetimes. The first mission of its kind, exploring the unknown in a self sustaining starship. They had an entire world on one vessel, everything they could possibly need to live their lives as frontiersmen and women, in search of a suitable location for the first off-world colony. And when they found that location, they would begin the process of establishing the foundations of that colony, whilst they waited for the first team of colonists to arrive.

Mark Wilson’s role was two-fold. First, his previous employment as an actor made him part of the entertainment team on board the ship, performing plays, music, telling stories and keeping the crew in good spirits on the long voyage. Secondly, and more importantly, he had volunteered to be one of the “founding fathers” of the new colony. For substantial remuneration, his job once they arrived, was to get as many women as possible pregnant, to begin populating the new world, whilst they waited for the colonial ship, which was still under construction back on Earth and due to be completed at the end of their ship’s five year voyage.

He brought his mind back to the present moment, the feeling of apprehension tightening his throat as he was rocked back and forth by his companion gyrating on top of him.

Fuck what’s her name?

He briefly panicked. It didn’t really matter what her name was, but it was definitely rude not to know. The arrangement was that he was available to any woman on the crew who wanted to be a mother, no discussion necessary. There were “founding mothers” amongst them who had agreed to perform that role, but everyone had a second function.

Emily. Emily something. 

It popped back into his head, but by this point he was already distracted. This was the fourth time today and he hadn’t had lunch yet. 

Maybe the galley could put together a quick BLT for me. Or a bit of pasta… Fuck, concentrate.

Emily kissed him and ran her tongue over his lips. He ran his hands up from her legs to her back and pulled her close to him. She ran a hand over his short hair and he relaxed.

Okay, this is fine… Fine? A gorgeous woman is screwing you and you say “fine”? What is wrong with you?

He’d signed up as a joke. The chances of finding a suitable world within the five year mission were remote, and even if they did find somewhere, were he to be selected, the money was too good to turn down. 

Some joke…

None of the crew anticipated that the first planet they visited would prove to be their new home. Mark had barely unpacked into his few quarters before they had arrived. That was a month ago. Since then he’d become a glorified sex toy and not much else. Everyone else looked useful. He was still performing the plays he and the other actors had prepared before the trip, but the whole crew had seen the entire repertoire by this point and regardless were much more excited by the process of setting up the first new city. They’d have to come up with some new material – perhaps something original, even though they had thousands of plays available to them in the memory banks of the computer. 

Maybe something new and something old as a double bill? We should do some Shakespeare. Best steer clear of The Tempest though.

“Do you like that?” Emily whispered in a low, sultry voice.

Mark wasn’t sure what she was doing that was any different than a minute ago, his mind was working through the back catalogue of plays he’d performed back on Earth.

“Mmmm yeah” he lied, unconvincingly. Emily continued regardless.

This is stupid. She’s a perfectly attractive woman, just find the things you like about her and focus on them.

Emily was not one of the founding mothers, Mark recalled, she had just shown up in the bar one evening after a performance, and they’d been introduced. As far as Mark could remember, their conversation was nothing more than the usual small talk. Obviously they’d spoken about their roles on the ship. Hers was something to do with engineering.

She’s too hot to be an engineer… I must be remembering that wrong.

Her blonde hair tickled his face as she kissed his chest and rib cage. She pulled it back over her shoulder as she sat up and looked into Mark’s eyes with a cheeky smile.

“I like how your dick feels inside me”.

What can you even say to that? “Thank you”, I guess? Shut up, brain, get out of the way.

He tried and failed to maintain eye contact with her, as she ran her hands through her hair, accentuating the prominence of her breasts. 

“You like these?” She asked, entirely rhetorically. 

Mark sat up and put an arm around her back so that their chests met.

“Of course I do”.

She grabbed his head and pressed it between her breasts.

“I want you to fuck me from behind.” 

Mark’s reply was muffled and inaudible. Emily was in charge anyway, he had to do whatever she wanted.

The month since they’d landed on the new planet had been busy, but he’d still had time to consider the reality that now faced him. The colony ship would not be arriving for at least five years – quite probably more. By the time it did, he might have fathered a hundred kids or more. The thought crept back into his head…

A hundred kids… I mean, I know I don’t have any legal responsibilities to them, but someone has to be a father to them.

Emily had got up off him now and had leaned up against the wall. Somehow Mark had picked himself up and was standing too, but despite Emily’s attractiveness, it was obvious to both of them that his erection was fading.

“What are you waiting for?” Emily asked, a very slight hint of annoyance creeping into her voice. “Get over here and fuck me, daddy.”

Why did she have to say that? I hate it, I don’t care that that’s what I’m here to become, I don’t need that in my head while we’re trying to do this.

He took a couple of steps over to her and spun her around so her hands were on the wall and his were around her midriff. Emily let out a little encouraging gasp as she felt a swell of energy.

Fine, you want me to just fuck you, I’ll fuck you.

He grabbed his penis and tried to shake it into action, rubbing it against her ass. 

“Come on, just do it. Stick it in me.” 

Oh really, is that what I’m supposed to do? I had no idea… This is some plan, populate the colony by having the entire crew screw each other.

The reality of the situation was driven by economics more than science. The ship could only support a few hundred people for five years, and nobody knew how long it would take to find a new home, so storing fertilised eggs was also not practical. That was why the founding mothers and fathers were chosen – for their genetic predisposition to intelligence and strength. The group was weighted heavily with women, the theory being that one man can impregnate a hundred women, but a hundred women can only carry a hundred babies. Yes, for the first generation many would be related, but over time that problem would be diluted and the gene pool diversified.

But it only works if I can get it up… God, this is so not the time for an existential crisis…

“I can’t do this.” 

“What do you mean?” Emily turned around and kissed him. “Sure you can…”

She reached down as he tried to pull away and felt his penis, no longer erect. Her hand was no more effective an encouragement than his own…

“Seriously? This is the only reason you’re here.” 

The aggravation in her voice was no longer masked.

“I can’t be a dad to hundreds of kids.” He continued.

“Literally nobody wants that. You’re a donor, nothing more. You’re here for your genetics. You’re an actor for crying out loud, it’s not like you’re much use doing anything else.”

“We can try again another time.” He offered, unenthusiastically.

“I’m on a schedule – and there’s plenty of other guys who can do a man’s job, since you’re apparently incapable.”

Ouch… I can hardly believe I’m thinking it, but I need something more than this. 

He was about to explain this argument when the door chimed. Emily pushed the button to open it, revealing another woman, surprised to be presented with two naked people in front of her.

“Oh if you’re busy, I can come back.”

Mark sighed.

Why couldn’t we have just sent some robots?

The Federation were not at fault!

Good day, Novel Dreamers!

How are you? Are you well? We haven’t scared you away with our Macabre month of which you can vote on here.

This month I wanted to do Star Wars as homage to May 4th, however they seem to have moved their month to December because of release time of films or whatever I didn’t need much excuse to change. Any who! This month is all about putting it where you shouldn’t. Sci-fi, people! I challenge the writers this month to try to take an ordinary story and give it a sci-fi twist. Not only do the poor Bastards have to plan a story but then they got to twist it after! There is no side challenges this month as we’re all a little busy with a little festival called 14/48 Leicester!

And now, to the example piece which originally was just an Elizabethan mercenary being hired to protect a delivery but then I got very reference heavy and silly…


A Dent in Time

“My liege, you summoned me?”

The voice seemed to shiver with a hint of nervousness. It echoed across the long wooden table, got misdirected by the ornate pile of fruits that seemed to ignore its trespass into another era, but eventually reached the frail yet menacing creature sat at the other end.  It did not answer.

“My liege?” The man tried again. He wasn’t entirely sure why he was there. He awoke at the first strains of the morning sun to find a slight piece of paper lying on the welcome mat – it had yet to be approached by his hound. There was nothing on the paper but five large yellow letters…

‘Painc?’ Thought Clinc, for that was his name. It took him several minutes to work out that the messenger had been in a hurry and had just misspelled the word PANIC. ‘If only those Flintlock boys would hurry up and finish the prototype. That bastard messenger has it coming to him’. His inner monologue seemed to be on a different page this morning. Maybe it was the contradicting meaning of the word in its large, friendly letters or maybe it was the sudden realisation of whose calling card he was now holding.

Let’s take this little pause – dear reader – to give you a bit of background on the sleep deprived Clinc. He is a mercenary, but from ye old times when they used swords and cutting remarks rather than guns and cutting remarks. He is a bloody good one as well, as he’s past the age of 30 so that’s proof enough and if you don’t believe him he has a chitty with all his previous employment on! He had been a field medic in several wars and had been affectionately nicknamed after this occupation as simply, The Bastard. Those who, like the creature opposite Clinc, preferred the names of the denominations of money over the names of comradery would refer to him by his given name of Clinc. The creature ended our sudden pause caused by Clinc’s flashback daydream which something resembling a phlegmy cough.

“Yes, Come in!” called the creature, much to the confusion of Clinc.

“But Sir, I’m right here?”

“Ah, Clinc! Good, need you for a job; simple task with minimal pay.” The voice was coming from the mouth on the bottom left side of the face and had the sound of a child speaking into the back of a fan but underwater. The creature was somewhat humanoid in shape, but with everything a little bit off.

“Right, well I’m your man, sir! Not a job I haven’t delivered on; even been a midwife once.”

The creature shook its head dismissively.

“Yes I can see you’re right there you buffoon! Now about this job…”

Clinc looked baffled.  He was warned on arrival that the lord of the manor had just returned from a long trip and as such may be jetlagged but he seemed to Clinc to be stuck in another time zone; so he waited a few moments and…

“Capital! Capital! You come on the highest of regards! I need you to deliver a package for me” Lord Ogen said, time catching up with him as he did.

“Brilliant,” exclaimed Clinc before grabbing the door handle. “Why do you need me to deliver a package? You have many servants and messengers until I have an upgrade to my crossbow.”

Lord Ogen chortled which set his belly off on a jelly like manoeuvre across to the other side of his frame. “It’s a rather special package for a rather new friend.”

“I was kinda expecting you to say old friend there,” said Clinc downheartedly.

“Oh he will be once you deliver for me,” replied Ogen. “My butler, Laurie, has everything set up for you down in the stables and the stable boy should be available for you should you need a hand along way.”

“The small fry? I’ll pass. Anything else I should know my liege?” The door handle seemed to be pulsing in his hand. The creature picked up a bag and tossed it along the table, allowing the varnish to finish the slide down to waiting hand of Clinc. He looked baffled.

“For the horses. Sugar lumps.”


Down in the stable Clinc found two men in tweed suits bustling around a large metal cart with lots of leads running along its side. The first of the two, Laurie, was shorter than the other which confused Clinc further. The butler was a thin shaky thing which seemed to contrast the new stable boy; a taller, slightly rounder man with slicked back hair and a cocky, sure of himself grin. They both turned at the sound of the door closing.

“Laurie, who’s the new guy? What happened to the small fry?”

“Ah, Mr Clinc, sir! A pleasure as always. The small fry got replaced with a new fry”

The new stable boy offered his hand, “Stephen, sir. Are you up to speed with the new DeLorean model of horse cart?”

They turned to stare at the monolith of a vehicle with two shire horses reined at the front; Great Scott and Biff. Clinc sauntered around and produced the bag from one of his pockets, causing a stir in the two large beasts. Stephen grabbed the reins and tried to steady them.

“This trip is going to be a rather special one, Master Clinc,” called Laurie as he cornered the horses. “You need to take the service track to build up speed and then you’ll hit a rather unfamiliar field. Do not be alarmed by this.”

“It takes quite a bit to shock me Mr. Laurie.”

“You’d be surprised,” smirked Stephen.

Clinc wasn’t at all feeling the double-entendres the pair of comedians were throwing around this morning. He climbed up into the driver’s seat and took the reins from Stephen. The quicker he got on the quicker he could get back home and to his dog. He missed his loyal little canine. Before he could set off, he noticed a little engraving in the arm rest in front of him.

“Desire?” He asked down to the duo.

“It’s the name of the cart. The maker had sentimental ties.” Called back the stable boy as Clinc cracked the reins and head off down the service track. Laurie turned on Stephen.

“A horse cart named desire? Really?!”


Clinc was still trying to work out what exactly all this meant. Things had seemed off since he arrived at the manor and noticed the state Lord Ogen was in. Sure he had been a fat mess with no sense of style but his skin seemed to have faded into a grey rubbery texture and the hair was obviously a toupee of some sort. Even more suspicious were that Fry and Laurie. They seemed to fit into the period perfectly but felt of another era. Just as he felt the horses speed up and his mind slipping further into thought, he noticed a sign on the side of the track simply saying 88. As the horses came into line with it they disappeared into an orange circle and soon after Clinc himself followed through the portal into a tunnel of orange and purple swirling light. He could not see the track beneath him and couldn’t think for the sounds of drums and synthetic noises around him. Within a few seconds (enough to get the general idea but short enough not to piss off the BBC)  he had come out onto a gravel track heading up through the countryside to a lone cottage on the hill. He looked either way to gauge where he was; it seemed to be somewhere in Devon. Realising the horses knew their destination, he allowed them to guide the carriage up to the cottage where he jumped down and reached into the back to pull a small silver box out with a piece of paper enscribed “press the button” attached. He pressed it and knocked on the door, to be answered by a half asleep man in a dressing gown carrying a towel.

“Arthur Dent?” enquired Clinc. The man didn’t look too impressed but nodded and took the box from him and closed the door quite rudely in Clinic’s face.

Meanwhile, back in the Ogen Manor, Fry and Laurie entered the study to find the plush chair with the back to the door and a hunched over shadow thrown against the wall by the fireplace. They stepped forward silently and caught the alien off-guard, who quickly tried for the toupee on the table before him but a moment too late. 

“Do not worry, sir. We knew of this disguise all along. We merely came to inform you that Clinc has delivered the transmitter and we have the constructor fleet inbound to the location.”

With that, they backed away. The Vogon licked his slimy lips and pulled the microphone on the table in front of him closer before clearing his throat. He clicked the intercom button. 

“People of Earth, your attention please, this is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council.”