The Starblade – Chapter One

In the first one hundred years since the invention of hyperspace travel, humanity spread out far and wide across the cosmos. Overtime various factions arose and fell, like an intergalactic hydra. In an attempt to curb the rising division and conflict, the Alliance was formed, with the sole aim of collective mutual co-operation of those with similar interest among all the sentient hyperspace fairing species. This, however, wouldn’t stop millions seeking freedom or their own entrepreneurship, legal or otherwise.
   The Captain of the Starblade, Callista, was jerked awake and fell from her bed when an almighty rumble shock the ship violently. The ship was brought to alert, with sirens sounding off, throughout every passageway and section of the ship, muffling the panic and determination of the off-duty crew now scrambling to their stations. The room’s light was fluttering, with the glimmer of red emergency light as the only constant source. Picking herself up off the floor, Callista rushes to the comm unit on the wall using it to connect to the bridge.
   “Kehan? What the hell just happened to my ship?” she demands.
   Over the comm a tinny and sporadic voice responds back: “Well, we’re under attack, obviously—A ship jumped out of nowhere, in front of us, and didn’t hesitate in opening fire.”
   “For fuck sake Kehan—” Another series of hits interrupts Callista, throwing her off balance. She regains her posture and reconnects to the bridge through the comm: “Who the hell is attacking us?”
   “Does it matter? I’m more concerned in not being obliterated, to ask them nicely what their names are,” Kehan replies, facetiously. “Any chance of our illustrious ‘Captain’ attempting to grace us with her presence or are you going to just sleep through it?” he continues, breaking off the conversation briefly to issue a command.
   “Screw you, Kehan,” Callista spurs. “Keep my ship in one piece before I get there—or so help me I’ll vent you.”
   “Best hurry then, or our ‘friends’ might beat you too it,” Kehan retorts, before being cut off finally.
   As the rogue Captain of the Starblade, Callista built up a reputation for being ruthless. A shoot first, no questions asked, woman. Someone who’s attitude often got her into more trouble than anticipated but always managing to pull through; very often with blood on her hands. Her tenacious ability to survive was due to her time in the U.D.E., before the Alliance. Including stand-offs with many other seedy associates in the past. As a genetically modified insurgent, she was tasked to go hostile planets and disrupt the geopolitical landscape, before a planet would be targeted by an invasive fleet. However, the experiment to genetically improve her physiology, such as quicker reflexes and intelligence, was a contributing factor to her rather short, almost psychopathic, temperament. Due to her unorthodox methods, she was disavowed and abandoned by the U.D.E. It was their betrayal and the necessity to survive, alienated away from everything she knew, that caused her to resort to piracy. Her hair was shoulder length, which she had herself genetically modified to grow purple. She was slim but well toned, with her body covered in an assortment of scars and tattoos, with one intrinsic asymmetrical design on the left side of her face.
   Callista readied herself, cursing multiple times as she was constantly hampered by the periodical distributions. I never knew humans could be that aggressively vocal.
   The ship kept taking multiple hits, while Callista kept running, down the passageway of the top deck, towards the bridge. A severe impact jolts the ship, enough to throw her violently against the bulkhead, along with some crew members running past her. Her left shoulder took most of the brunt force, causing it to dislocate. Clutching the pain with her free hand, the agony was vocal but she continued unabated, still determined to reach the bridge. Her progression was further impeded when the ship received what felt like a barrage. This time it was severe enough to throw her to the metal grated flooring. The disruption to the ship’s power was enough to cause feedback within the system and multiple panels blew away from the bulkheads in her section. Bundles of internal wiring and cables were became exposed, with sparks flying out like shooting stars, from those that were now burned apart. Callista’s determination grew, as evidence of the threat they were all in become progressively more real. Callista couldn’t shake the feeling of her precious ship being slowly torn apart from the outside. Her vocalised thoughts turned to the cargo hold, which was provided further concern as to the safety of its contents. The look on her face, from the internal cameras, said it all. Indeed, I too was worried. Only both of us knew what it was. Kehan was kept out of the loop on this, probably because of how he would react. I could see almost everything that was happening from my cybernetic uplink being tied into the ship’s systems and sensors. Although, regrettably, this was not enough to anticipate the approaching attackers before hand. My full integration was never completed.
   Callista kept crawling, using her free arm from her prone position, across the metal grating, passing underneath the flailing wires in order to avoid electrocution. A further barrage hit the ship this time had causing the section’s lighting to cut out, plunging the passageway into darkness. More emergency lighting kicked in, which was only slightly dulling the sporadic flashing and hissing electrical outbursts. Now safely past the wires she was free to reach the bulkhead’s double door into the bridge.
   Damage to the ship had caused it’s most of the door’s power to fail and blocked the bridge off from the rest of the ship. Two crew members were already attempting to open it from Callista’s side. One had a makeshift crowbar and had slammed it into between the two and was pulling it towards him, stretching the doors open slightly. The other crew member took the risk of placing his hands in between and started pulling the closest door. Callista began assisting her two subordinate’s efforts, with her own free hand. The door’s hydraulics resisted but after throwing their full weight against both sides all three of them were strong enough to wedge it open enough for one person. Callista wedged herself in between each door, placing her back to one side and her foot against the other, stretching it out, forcing the gap wider. After their was sufficient space, the crew member took his makeshift crowbar and propped it between the doors, bracing them apart. Callista and the two crew mates shimmied their way through and onto the bridge.
   As she entered, she could barely see what was happening. The faint glow from terminals and emergency lights radiated enough to see half the bridge manned. One half of the bridge crew had been thrown back and knocked unconscious, while a few were dead from consoles, which had exploded in front of them, charring their faces to the bone or leaving the contents of their torsos exposed. Sparks flew from several terminals that had exploded, causing intermittent light bursts and more of the bulkheads showed the stresses of damage.
   Kehan was sat in his command chair, directing the retaliation: “Take down their shields, and then target their weapons!”
   “Aye, sir,” replies the gunnery officer.
   “What’s the situation?” Callista inquires, resting briefly on a railing behind Kehan.
   “It’s about time you got here, what took you? Take the scenic route did we?” Kehan says, turning his head briefly to recognise his Captain’s presence.
   “Save it Kehan, I’m not in the mood,” Callista concedes, bitterly. “Is the cargo safe?”
   “I couldn’t give a fuck about the cargo. It’s nice to know what your priorities are.” Kehan replies, sternly.
   Kehan was a rather sarcastic individual, even when facing insurmountable odds. His greying hair was side-parted, with most of the right side of his head sporting a large burn scar, including a missing ear. His right eye, along with his right arm, had been replaced with cybernetics, which weren’t that obvious to those who were not aware of it. He never did explain how it happened. But Callista trusted and respected his expertise in command and was the reason why she kept him on board. His excessive sarcasm wound her up, however, to the extent she often remarked to him her regret in allowing him to remain; but never out of spite—usually. I never understood why he felt the need to provoke such a reaction from her, knowing how she is temperamental at the best of times.
   The ship continually rumbled from impact after impact causing more consoles to explode and terminal displays to flutter as the ship’s power waned. Callista then punches the metal railing in front of her, in anger.
   “Why are they not space dust yet?” she says, spitefully.
   “Well, our shield’s are out for a start; there are two hull breaches along the starboard; half the ship has lost power; there’s reports of causalities, and our main right thruster is blown,” replies Kehan.
   “This ship was built for combat, why is it taking this much damage?”
   “They dropped out of hyperspace cloaked and opened fire before we knew what was happening. Our shields were targeted first and our own weapons are barely effective against theirs,” Kehan replied. “And before you ask, they haven’t made any attempt at communication.”
   “Jax?” Callista says, looking with intense focus towards her.
   “They have no I.D. Scanners are showing it to be of similar design to an U.E.D. corvette,” confirms Jax. “But its not on our database.”
   “Fantastic, they sent a mere shadow to do their dirty work,” scoffs Callista.
   “Either way we’re barely holding it together. Their unduly prompt attack is probably because this ship was never meant to exist in the first place,” Kehan remarks, in his rather controlled demeanour. “The U.D.E. wouldn’t want a word of their secret toy getting out to the rest of the Alliance. Better to be rid of it, than to allowing its continued existence tarnish their reputation.”
   “My toy, Kehan,’ Callista asserts, haughtily, “It’s mine—”
   “Their firing another salvo!” interrupts the gunnery officer. As the enemy ship fires from it’s port broad side two dozen missiles directly towards the Starblade.
   “Evasive manoeuvres, and focus the auto turrets on them this time. We can’t keep taking hits like this!” Kehan commands.
   As the opponent ship fires from it’s port-side, the Starblade takes a hard bank right to avoid further damage to the breaches and evades half of the enemy salvo. The ship’s automated weapons, along its own port side, takes out the majority of those remaining. However, a few hit the outer hull causing yet another breach. A few crew members in that section are vented into space, left endlessly drifting. The ship banks round to the stern of their target but the damage causes it to roll sideways, as the stabilizing gyroscope starts to malfunction.
   “Stabilize the ship! Re-route auxiliary power to the port side,” Kehan barks, to the helmsman. After a minute they manage to rebalance the ship’s orientation. “Bring the ship about on their starboard. Keep on at them.”
   “Their shields are barely taking any damage, sir,” responds the gunnery officer.
   “Fire the ‘blade’ at them!” commands Callista.
   “You mad woman?” counters Kehan. “We don’t have the power for it.”
   “I don’t care. Cut the life-support to the non-essential desks if you have to.”
   “Killing half our crew, from oxygen deprivation and exposure, in the process?” Jax warns.
   “The entire crew will be dead, along with us, if we don’t,” explains Callista.
   “I can’t argue with that. Being dead is not an experience I want to go through twice.” Kehan remarks. “Charge the ‘blade’.”
   “But sir?” hesitatingly replies the gunnery officer.
   “Fuck, I’ll do it!” cracks Callista, as she marches over to the gunnery officer shoving him forcefully onto his backside. Using her only useful right hand, she input the command. The ship starts to gear up and hum.
   “Continue to evade, while the ‘blade’ charges. Stop firing the main cannons and put the energy into the thrusters,” Kehan once again commands to the pilots.
   “One minute, till it’s fully charged,” Callista informs.
   “This is gonna be a long minute,” observes Jax, anxiously.
   “No shit. Keep evading,” Kehan snaps to the helmsman.
   Over the course of the minute the ship continue to evade most of the salvoes being fired by the enemy ship. A few missiles continually pass through the Starblade’s defences, shocking the ship violently, as each one hit, scaring further the already scorched hull.
   “It’s fully charged!” informs Callista.
   “Bring us about and align up our bow to their starboard!” Kehan commands.
   As the Starblade aligns to face the enemy ship head on, it starts to shift in shape. Its dagger like form starts dividing into that of a two-pronged fork. The divide exposes within the middle a huge cannon, which then starts to glow with energy, then spins faster and faster. After a few seconds, the glow radiates further and electrical discharges arc across the cannon’s surface. The enemy ship, in new recognition of the Starblade’s capacity, attempts to bank away but was too slow.
   “Firing!” Callista calls out.
   The cannon spews forth an energy beam, towards the target, which cuts straight through the enemy’s shielding and hull, directly through the middle of the ship. The enemy target’s weapons and missiles cease, as the entire ship is drawn in two. In a spectacular explosion both halves break away from each other, with debris and exposed crew drifting off and any signs of power starts dissipating from the ship, to a near complete blackout.
   “Direct hit,” Callista reports.
   “Fuck me, that was a close one!” exclaims Jax.
   “Jax, are there any other ships on the scanner?” Kehan asks, looking at Jax. “I don’t want any other surprises.”
   “Yes, sir. Nothing on immediate scan. Just us alone and a few sporadic live signs from the other ship. Some escape pods are ejecting.”
   Kehan turns his gaze forward: “Good, let them rot out there. Keep on the scanner, Jax, they may have sent a distress signal. Helm, what’s our jump-drive status?”
   “It’s down, sir,” reports the helmsman.
   “Typical,” Kehan replies. He uses the console on his arm rest to issue a ship-wide command to the crew: “Right everyone, were out of immediate danger. The enemy has been neutralised. Let’s get our ship back to working order. Engineering: Bel, come in Bel.”
   “Bel, responding. Are you humans done with keeping us alive?” I reply.
   “Save that monotonous drone, Bel. Focus repair on our jump-drive.”
   “It will take time to get the drive working again and the hull breaches will need to be fixed too,” I add.
   “Just get it done, use the remaining repair drones if you have too. We’re setting off for Outer Reach, asap.”
   “Not yet, we’re not,” barks Callista, as she heads towards the bridge exit. She uses a moment to slam her shoulder against the bulkhead, snapping it back into its socket.
   “I beg your pardon?” Kehan inquires, confusingly.
   “They came after us. And I want to know why and who sent them,” Callista replies, as she rotates her arm.
   “Are you serious, woman?” asks Kehan. “We’re almost wreckage and you want to go snooping, on a now junk heap, for clues.”
   “Like Bel said, we’re not going anywhere for the time being, until the jump-drive is fixed and the state the ship is in. If they know we’re out here then someone sold us out. This was to be a simple smuggling run and I’m not about to let that kind of information go to waste. Besides which, it’s my ship. We’re not going anywhere. That’s an order.”
   Kehan wore his usual reserved face, which was normally in reaction to Callista’s abnormal behaviour. But he couldn’t help but agree with her argument. It was true, no one in the U.E.D. should have known where we were, in this sector of space at least, without being informed. It was too much of a coincidence for them to find us here and now. His curiosity, along with mine, was shared with our Captain’s and he followed her lead, reluctant as always.
  “Fine,” Kehan concedes, “I’m coming with you. Helm, bring us about next to the ship’s aft section, near the closest airlock.”
  From conversations I have overheard, since knowing both Callista and Kehan, they had already spent six years commanding the Starblade, while evading it’s original owners; after they first commandeered it from a U.E.D. ship yard. The experimental corvette was still under construction, yet many key functions remained unattended. Both thought it was practical enough to commandeered, at any rate. Without the original plans, the Starblade’s crew attempted to patch what systems they could over the years since but the ship still remained incomplete.
  Speculation of the ship’s true intent arose due to the political inquiry of the U.E.D’s role, and it’s unknown purpose, that halted its final completion. During this phase, both Callista and Kehan, who both aware of the ship’s location, from an obscure affiliate of theirs, along with a compliment of other begrudged individuals, took the opportunity seized the ship from right under the United Earth Defence’s nose; much to the U.D.Es later embarrassment. After a subsequent raid, the pair took on Jax, a skilled hacker, as well as a handful of other individuals, a couple of years later. Myself, a biologically engineered life-form, called Bel by these humans, was already apart of the ship at the time. An autonomous unit designed to interact with the ship, in a way no human could. Only Callista and Kehan knew my true function and have not yet decided to implement it. Perhaps they fear me and my capabilities. For now I’m left in charge of repairing the ship, that I am bound too, but severed from key systems.
   Now out of danger, the Starblade slowly starts to manoeuvre next to the other ship’s rear half, where the bridge was located. I started work to repair the jump-drive, while I simultaneously launch the repair drones to work on the outer hull. Most of the crew were busy fixing what internal systems they could. The bitter and angry, Callista and Kehan, myself, as well as the rest of the crew, were eager to find out how we were betrayed. I was most of all relieved to know at least the cargo was safe.


Laura Steel © 2016

Grease Monkey

She was sat alone, cross legged, in her in her father’s old aluminium garage, just off of to the side of her parent’s ranch homestead, when I found her—were I would usually always find her. Alexa was the engineering type, even when we were kids; she would play around with her toys, taking them apart or modding them beyond recognition. She was a bit of a loner too, only tolerating a few people; she was rather selective in her friendships. I always consider myself fortunate to be her friend.

As I walked up to the garage, you could smell the tang of protium emanating out from the large doors, well before I could reach them. Protium was that ‘fuel’ like substance that replaced crude oil, when it finally ran out; made from the algae farms that now littered most of the sea’s surface—or at least that’s how it was all explained to me by Alexa.

I walked up and leant against the frame and remained silent, while I watched Alexa as she tinkered away with wrench in hand. She wore her hair in a ponytail, and her crop top was stained blue from the protium and grey with grime. I was always fascinated with how in tune she looked around machinery, as if she actually speaks ‘machine’.

Alexa never realised my presence, so engrossed she was in what she was doing. Then I noticed her arm give way, as she turned the wrench with her ‘hand’. She took the wrench with her other hand and threw it against the wall, hard in anger that it rang against the aluminium.

She left out a scream of pain and frustration, louder than the crashing sound ringing in my ears, then rubbed her shoulder with her now free hand.

After the sound died down, I said: ‘Hey, grease monkey,’ feeling concerned.

‘Oh, hey,’ she said, turning to face me briefly.

‘The prosthetic still giving you trouble?’

She looked upon her skeletally bare arm.

‘Yeh, the damn thing still doesn’t fit correctly. And the nerve endings still haven’t healed properly. Or at least that’s what the cyberneticist said—the fucking hack,’ she said as she looked at her shoulder, where the metallic merged with her supple pink, but dirt covered, skin. She rotated her shoulder multiple times, outstretched her arm slightly, which produced a electronic whirl, then opened and clenched her skeletal hand, which clinked together, as her new metal fingers closed.

‘I guess…I guess I should be grateful. At least I’m not dead,’ she said, with a sigh.

I moved behind her, knelt down, then hugged her. Wrapped my arms around her, tightly. I couldn’t help but feel guilt and pity, but also mainly relief.

‘We all are, everyone that loves you,’ I replied, as I tightened my grip. Her softer hand gasped my arm lightly. ‘Besides, I’m sure you could do better,’ I added, trying to console her.

I let go and sat down beside her, with my back against the corrugated wall, which dug into my back slightly. Alexa chuckled and smiled, then her gaze became distant slightly. I could see that she was remembering that ‘something’, which she would prefer to forget.

‘Thanks, but I doubt that,’ she said. ‘I only just managed to afford this old model. I suppose I should be grateful that I could. The newer models have advanced nanomesh interfaces, which bind to the nerves better. Maybe when I can work on robots again, down the factory, I can save up for an upgrade. Until then—’

‘Don’t you think you’re over doing it though?’ I urged, as I knew Alexa could be really stubborn sometimes.

‘The cyberneticist said I need to try and use it as if nothing was wrong. So that’s what I’m gonna do,’ she replied, nodding once, as if to convince herself of her plan.

‘Fair enough. Just don’t forget we’re all her for you—if you ever need a hand,’ I joked. Alexa laughed, shaking her head.

‘You bitch,’ she replied. And we both shared in the laugher. I can only hope to understand what she must be dealing with, but I know that I’d always be there for her.

‘Come on,’ she said, ‘let go in, I’m hungry.’

‘Sure,’ I replied, and stood up, dusting off the dirt on my bottom. I reached out and offered my hand out to help Alexa up. She took my hand with her prosthetic. I could feel the cold, smooth, lifeless touch of the metal fingers clutch in my hand. It was a strong grip but didn’t hurt; perhaps she still hasn’t realised how strong it is, but I didn’t mind. I pulled her to her feet. She gave me a look as if to realise that she forgot, if only for a few seconds, that it was still there.

We both walked into the house to make dinner for us both and her mother, for when she returned from work. I chose to crash at her’s that night, spending the time talking about my recent travels. We had one of our sleep overs, just like we used to when we were kids.

The Ex-Communitcated Champion – The Journey Onwards

After a week of wondering, having lost count of the days after initially leaving Solaris, Ayron’s journey had initially progressed unabated. Yet, as the cycles of day and night continued to rotate like clockwork, he grew progressively tired. Slowly hindered by the encroaching sand storm and forced to withstand the baring heat and dry course wind; as it seemed to mindfully face him head on despite any change direction he faced. His strength was waning, unable to find adequate game to hunt among the rocky strolling hill side, let alone not having the proper tools to even do so he was only able to collect the odd edible root or grub; all of which he would save in a cloth bag made from a stretch of his own tattered clothes.

The Kinship of Paladins survival training afforded Ayron enough to get by, even though had no previous call to utilise them until now. With distant screeches in the distance he instinctively took to making spears from just about any sized branch and flint he could find. Evenings were spent hunkering down in front of a small crude fire, and when possible, tucked away inside an alcove. Nights were spent trying to satisfy his hunger on his daily finds but not quite enough to realise his strength; only just enough in order to prevent staving death. He soon started to lose hope. He doubted his prayers to the Trinity were ignored, let alone even heard.

Further days kept counting by and one in particular saw Ayron hunted by a small pack of roaming Cervairas; their screeches were what he had heard days before. As they grew closer to the sounds became more piercing to the ear. The vicious little beasts had elongated bodied and narrow heads, with twisted jagged horns. Their foul scaly skin was bleached like sand and they had sticky long tongues that ended in razor sharp barbs; all of which adapted them well to the climate and for ganging up on prey. Before he could be their next meal, still having enough sense to not desire that outcome, he managing to gain some distance further down the long road. Or so he thought.

Before Ayron knew it, they were upon him. They charged at him while emitting their distracting screeches and were successful a few times in nipping and lashing at his legs with their barbs until they started to become raw and bloody. His strength sought only to fend them off but managed to successfully kill a few in the process. It was enough to see the pack retreat beyond the hills with their dead, no doubt seeing them with a more savoury outlook.

The adrenaline of being near death was enough for now but he new it would only be temporary before he passed out. On edge and desperate to not hang around, he noticed the terrain had bled into woodland. Walking further down the road, now reliant on his toughest spear as a walking aid, he limped towards the trees. Smoke could be seen bellowing beyond the canope and where the greenery was carved out by the road, evidence as clear as any of more civilized souls inhabiting the area. He continued through with straining limbs and aching bones, and was more than ready to collapse, until he could clearly see built structures.

Reaching the outskirts of the hamlet Harenamsil Ayron collapsed at the gates. The town guards, who noticed him, but dared not open the gates unnecessarily, rushed down from the log ramparts to aid him. They brought him inside and away from the dangers that lurked beyond. His exhaustion had beaten him but for now he was safe.


Laura Steel ©2015

The Day They Arrived

The day they arrived back 12 years ago; it’s 2043, so yeh 12 years ago now. It was most probably the most monumental day in human history, if you discount World War III that is. It dominated the news for months, it was far beyond the most interesting of events that happened across the planet at the time. Some news stations attempted to highlight a few natural disasters but quite frankly they were so obviously reported with no real enthusiasm and were ushered through with some moderate haste just to get back to the back issue; given the media’s bias it only further trivialised the thousands of deaths and those left homeless…but I’m digressing.

When it first happened I was sat in my kitchen at the time, scoffing my usual breakfast of muesli and I was late for work, in which it felt like one of those shitty days but not because of what happen; not that being late would have mattered that day. The first thing I heard was the faint screams flooding in from my framed window and then the high pitched tires screeches and car horns. Then the most horrendous rumble; the sound was so intense I could feel it through my apartment floor and echoing into my feet and legs and resonating through my lungs. It shortly followed by the increasing rattle of everything I possessed shaking against anything horizontal or vertical surface, the occasional shatter of picture frames and crockery smashing from within the cupboards next to me; the annoyance of know they would have to be replace didn’t register in my conscious at the time.

I rushed to the window after I could see the light pouring through them darken, as the sun was blotted out it cast half of London in complete shadow. All that could then be seen; as recorded by people’s mobile phones, was the bright patchy skies turn a most magnificent of fiery reds, the centre tipped with a yellow and white bullseye, bursting through the brilliance of the patchy blue background. The screaming and shouting grew louder, almost in a vain attempt to drown out the roar of the maleficence shadow looming overhead. The more people rushed outside to see what was going on the louder it grew. Everything that happened caused a feeling of a deep pang of fear and anxiety, which overwhelmed me before I realised that it was not from any earthquake; not in London anyway. Other more apocalyptic events rushed through my head was it a comet, or larger meteor? What it was was far from what I, or anyone I expect felt, as there was an almighty explosion and deep deafening boom; that almost sucked the air out of everybody’s lungs.

It was a space ship! I couldn’t believe it unless I had seen the news. Amateur mobile phone recordings showed it landing rather spectacularly in Hyde park, almost like it was being kept as a planned runway for it, curving a deep trench parallel to Baywater Road. As it bit into the green and brown like a massive farmer’s plough it kicked up so much dirt that it plastered just about everything in it’s wake. There were unfortunately a few reported deaths and cases of missing people; who were most of likely caught underneath the ship as it crashed. It came to a grinding halt right up to Kensington Palace, almost like the royal building was a train stopper ready for it, I’m sure his royal majesty would not have approved of it being destroyed. Before the dust even settled I could hear sirens, whirling and howling from all directions, as the emergency services were obviously called to assist the hurt or perhaps confront those from within the alien hull.

The rest of the week the country was at a standstill, no one could make out just what to do. As nothing had emerged from the ship at the time politicians and other heads of state attempted to calm the country and state they had it under control, urging the population to go back to their normal lives and continue to work if they could, as always they of course were naively ignorant. Needless to say after that day 12 years ago the world changed forever. I hope by writing this people will be a better judge of what has happened than I ever could, if not for my sake alone but for the rest of humanity as a whole.


Laura Steel ©2015

 

A walk in the meadows – Short Story

It was so glorious, the day I first fell in love, it couldn’t have been better; weather wise at least. My friend Alex and myself were outside, during our half term of college. She had suggested that we go on a walk for a change, far away from any technology, so we left our phones behind; anything that required a battery. We forgot about our studying, where thankfully our recent passing of exams was no longer a stress but a relief, and of course from everyone else. It was just a nice change of scene, just the two of us as best of friends since childhood, before our studies resumed later next week.

We had gone to the field behind our houses where we lived, arms linked and hands held while trailing a path through the lash green field; littered with so many different flowers and plants neither of us could recognise. All the way out in the country where it wasn’t so tainted by concrete, street lights and the noisy pollution of cars. It was so peaceful out here that only the wind could be heard carrying the songs of birds, when we weren’t laughing of course. I remember how warm it was with the sun bearing down when occasionally it broke through the clouds.

We talked so much about when we always used to play out here and had so much fun away from our parents, who always told us not to but we did anyway. She always was the brave one, I followed her rarely without question. Every grazed knee or splintered hand was because of her, being the adventurous spirit that she was. I used to often look at her with a strange sense of awe, that someone could be so free and wild yet made me feel so safe and secure at the same time. This was before we were thrown into the daunting process of living in an adult world, where she seemed to only thrive even more, she was an unstoppable force and unrelenting with a passionate glow. We’ve never been separated, evident by any of the photos of either of us, as they never existed without the other.

I think it was subtle over the day but I noticed my heart thumping so intently, I felt like it really wanted to burst through my chest, every thump seemed to grow stronger. My head was buzzing I could barely make sense of anything but it felt so real, so painful. But I finally knew how I felt about Alex. Now I knew another feeling, with this feeling of love all that grew was fear. I wondered if our friendship would all be ruined forever if I tell her…oh how I wish I could tell her…


Prompt: https://jeremysdailychallenge.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/challenge-2015-week-8-19-february/


Laura Steel © 2015

Diary of a Mastermind – Part Two – Initial Setup – Haibun

So I have managed to finally recruit a handle of minions, believe it or not there’s a place you can actually go to hire them. They have sworn allegiance to me and will follow my exact word with out question; for pay of course. As well as in exchange for financial gain, I promise not to kill them after we take over the world…well see when it comes to that. Couldn’t believe just how easy it was to find fuck wits willing to do that kind of work for money…but then I am a genius so it wasn’t going to be that hard.

They are rather stupid in terms of overall intellect but then that will be to my advantage, they are very likely to attempt to over throw me before my work is done as they do not have the capacity for it. Still, as long as they don’t go shooting themselves, or each other, they will serve my purpose unquestionably. I have issued them a few easy orders to the time being as I wish to test their capabilities and their willingness to do as they are asked. I don’t think robbing old women and convenience stores will be that hard for them but I can’t afford to be too careful at this stage.

Besides I can’t afford to generate that much animosity at the moment, until I have a much stronger force to repel any interlopers. Quite frankly this new abandoned warehouse we are using is rather piss poor for my needs. It was a pain just hooking it up to the electricity grid without any serious ramifications, let alone using it fully to power any inventions or defenses I am sure to need in the future. Until then I am left with using these idiots for high for menial tasks and trying to develop this fucking super computer that’s causing me stress at the moment. I can’t very well run a base without one and its not as if I can go to a store as ask “Do you have a PC capable of assisting my planning world domination?”. I might be mad but I’m not mad. *sigh*

Pawns now made puppets
Strings are pulled, while plans are made
Subtle control wins


Previous: Diary of a Mastermind – Part One – Ambitious Dream – Haibun


Laura Steel © 2015

Summer Lightning – Haibun – (CWPS: #4)

Yet another summer week and once again the air is filled with a warm humidity; that is refreshing if there’s wind. Clouds were forming in the distance, the kind that was menacingly tall, wide and very dark. Even before the last waning oasis of clear sky had been vanquished, a loud boom sounded of into the distance, was it thunder? A monster having roared awake from its slumber? Before the Sun could spirit way to the safety of the horizon it had been swallowed whole, not even a single ray of sunshine was able to permeate through the thick blanket it was now enveloped in.

Then
there
was
a
blinding
flash

A bolt of lightning struck and claimed its first victim. A poor lone tree in the fields, one that had been blow apart and exploded outward with sap and bark now littering what was once a rather pristine sea of green. A second later, the roar of thunder stretched across the sky and it sounded hungry. Rain drenched the ground with an energized vigour.

The storm continued for hours, it was so captivating to behold such a magnificence natural event; from with in the safety of bricks, mortar and pains of glass. Each strike was so beautiful, not just visually but because each one is unique from the last. Each proceeding boom terrifying though, as it shook the the houses, as well as the very air in any onlooker’s lungs. Like the sirens in ancient mythology, it drew in new inquisitive bodies to participant together in witnessing something so deadly and foreboding.

Yet as soon as the electrical spectacular had swept across, it was gone. Faint murmurs of what it used to be, now dissipated from beyond sight. The show was over and as awesome as it had been to witness, it left those watching wanting more. No mortal could ever hope to stay a beast so malevolent, those who would be foolish to try would feel it’s wrath.

Jagged bolts scar the sky
Conjured forth from vast darkness
Cosmic rage brought forth


Prompt: #4 – 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts for Seasons –  Bryan Cohen © 2012


Laura Steel ©2015

 

Summer Drought – Haibun – (CWPS: #3)

Yet another sunny day and once again my friend and I went outside to play during our half-term . After about an hour of running around playing outside, we had the novel idea of having a water fight to cool off. We managed to run home even under the extreme heat to plead our case for what could have been a really fun day. However, unbeknownst to us at the time, our county was subject to a hose-pipe ban. We asked what this meant while trying to get over our immediate disappointment at being told simply “no”. It was hard to believe that where we lived we would suffer a drought, although this was fairly obvious from the yellow patchy grass we had been playing on. You get told about these other countries that have droughts because they are nothing but deserts and sand dunes, not likes places like where we live that are practically always raining.

After about twenty minutes off relentless nagging our mum caved in, she said we would be allowed to have a small water-gun fight. The excitement was immense. It didn’t even twig that she might get into trouble for using water so wastefully but at that age we didn’t care. We immediately ran to the shed in pure elation and grabbed the plastic weaponry from off the floor, dusting off what was a blanket of spider weave all over it. We flooded back to the kitchen, which was our first direct source of water. We were barely outside for five minutes before we ran out of ammo and rushed back to reload, only to be halted by our diligent guardian who told us to go change…

…Its hard to believe at that age that what we wanted to waste water so effortlessly, so casually; the source of every living thing on this planet. You don’t really care about it either, not that you are fully aware though that hundreds of thousands of people a year die from dirty water or dehydration, and here we were wasting it. I’m not sure whether to look back now with fond happy memories or guilt…

Essence of all life
Clean water – precious resource
Taken for granted


Prompt: #3 – 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts for Seasons –  Bryan Cohen © 2012


Laura Steel © 2015 

Summer Holiday – Haibun – (CWPS: #2)

HIt was half-term and for the holidays this year my parents actually forked out for a proper trip to the seaside. We were going for the week, staying at a small hotel they had booked using their savings. Along with mum, my sister and myself, dad drove us all for hours just to get there but we didn’t mind. It was the first holiday we all had together, one that we were all old enough to remember.

After arriving at the hotel and checked in, we immediately unpacked and settled into our temporary accommodation, taking an hour or so before we then left for the beach; which was overlooked by our rooms windows. The first thing my sister and myself done when we got their was take off my shoes and socks. I just loved the feeling of the sand on my feet; the almost silky feeling was so pleasant and relaxing as my feet sunk into and were swallowed whole into the grainy loose floor.

We stopped near the wall furthest area away from the water’s edge. Mum flung out a blanket for us to sit on while dad prepared the picnic we were going to have. All I remember is wanting to rush out to the water and splash about but we were abruptly stayed. Mum had ordered us to sit down while she lathered our backs with a sunscreen. At the time I never really understood why, when I questioned mum she merely said it was to protect us but divulged no further into how.

I’ll always be fond of this holiday, it was such a great time for all of us as we all had so much fun. It always saddens me that we will never have that sort of time together again. I suppose as time goes on things change, as do people. I only hope that one day, when I have kids of my own, my family will have that same time together, being happy. The need for nostalgic relived moments like that are a powerful thing to resist.

Happy times are rare
Cherished memories fade slow
Protected by love


Prompt: #2 – 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts for Seasons –  Bryan Cohen © 2012


Laura Steel © 2015

 

Summer Heat – Haibun – (CWPS: #1)

It was that horrible time of year again, during mid July. Apparently it is the hottest Summer we’ve had for years. I can’t stand this heat, I never have, there’s just no end to it. Its relentless. Where ever you go, what ever you do, its there…haunting you; its like some poltergeist that’s hell bent on scaring you out of your skin, only in this case sweating. I much prefer being too cold and having the option to wrap up than being unable to escape the unrelenting ambient warmth that can’t be quelled even with the strongest of electronic fans.

Everything was ok up until last week, we could just about manage. We had this rather decent air conditioner, pumping that ice cold relief into our home; it precariously sat perched on the window sill. That sweet chilled air was such a welcomed break from the relentlessness of Summers worst boon. Alas, it packed up. Now we are here, sticking to the furniture like insects cemented to fly paper, trying to forget the sweltering heat that we have been enveloped in, that is making us feel so lethargic and bored. We can’t even afford a new one because dad needed new tyres on his car and the vet bill from our poor cat has hampered any hope for a new one. I do hope this heat will relent before we all melt like poor snowmen on a beach.

A heat that won’t quit
No escape from the fever
The Sun’s blaze baths all


Prompt: #1 – 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts for Seasons –  Bryan Cohen © 2012


Laura Steel © 2015