Thursday, March 27, 2014


By Joseph Robert

Frere Tizzavum Krieg-Sensei was lecturing the more opaque of the less sentient crimson jellies of the commissary staff in the lounge that Eve-twi-day-turn. It was a time Nu-Banda Prizaplop Polyanagagos, the paternity cover fifth-shift supervisor, would never forget, because he never could forget anything at all, at least according to his extended warranty carrying neuro-bionic implant’s design’s promotional spec hologram’s three-dimensional fine print. Really, he couldn’t forget even things he wanted to like, for example, how the Krieg-Sensei referred to the jellies on the payroll as “nescient slime balls” behind their ‘backs’ and flying in the face of their statutory rights.
‘But, whatever,’ thought Nuba. Everything on this rock called Nu-Banda Prizaplop Polyanagagos that name, ‘Nuba’, because the jellies couldn’t be bothered to learn his real name properly seeing as he was only on-asteroid for a temporary contract, nonetheless, the fifth-shift paternity cover supervisor liked to think of ‘Nuba’ as an affectionate nickname. He felt for the jellies, the vivid, viscous crimson little lumps and not just with his antennae alone. He should, after all he was there to make sure they were treated in accordance with the law and not served in any manner contrary to The Inter-Galactic Comestibles Preparation Standards Treaty sub-article 2.01, but he wouldn’t go so far as to stick out his most ganglion-packed head-foot a Chica-Xyphilofraudian’s cubit, as the saying goes, to try and take the Krieg-Sensei to task for how that asexual spore colony talked about the jellies in the semi-privacy of the senior civilian staffs’ ultra-violet barium baths.
Frere Tizzavum Krieg-Sensei paused the slow, hovering rotations of the bell-shaped mass, amorphous and sponge-like, that served as its main body before clearing the pseudo-throat in that gigantic horsehead of its. Two black lobes weeping purple ichor vibrated wildly in what would have been the nostrils of a real horse. It looked like those semi-spheres might even explode at last. There were no eyes. (Nuba scanned feeds from deep space exploration probes as a hobby, so he knew what a horse’s head looked like and all sorts of other things too, like the fact that that Krieg-Sensei was ugly as sin by any imaginable standard, as in fact were most asexual species, at least in his experience.)
‘Can you believe this drama colony?’ Nuba telepathically commented to his fourteenth daughter’s son via biological tachyon pulse. ‘Wish I was there for the festival orbit. Give my regards to the molted hatchlings. Love you too. Bye bye. Oh, are you still there, Lugal Plippoplunk Hypohoplites? Great. Can you please put that sister you swallowed intra ovum but who still manages well enough by parasitically leeching the nutrients you ingest from that cyst she lives in growing beside your non-fluidic, gaseous digestion pouch’s vapor-bile gland on the tachyon pulse. I need to talk to her’
At last Frere Tizzavum Krieg-Sensei began rotating about two perpendicular axes once more to conclude its lecture in that awful million mega-hertz drone of its. It really out did itself this time, reaching a new all-time low in its grandiloquence:
“Jellies and Jellymen, one consciousness should never be amused by the gullibility of another as that amusement in and of itself distracts from the real universal problems that need solving. Problems such as remembering to deionize the dismemberment platform surfaces after allowing carbo-milk mites to defecate upon them after they get loose twice in one phase-drive supply drop schedule. No more joking about in flesh-prep!”

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Questions answered about Joseph Robert by Joseph Robert negate themselves more than inform you that he is married to poet and writer Leilanie Stewart.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Back From The War
By Ray Daley

As the gas flares for the fourth time I finally manage to reach the holding area. As always the police are there to meet me.

"Good morning Captain Kloss." The Sergeant smiles and tries to make small talk but I wave him off.

"Just Mister Kloss now Sergeant. Is he secure?" I ask him.

"Like a fortress sir, sleeping like it never happened." says the Sergeant.

"How much this time?" I ask, running the credits in my pocket through my fingers.

"Just 50k for the droid sir. I thought he was better now, some said he'd been to The Clinic?" the Sergeant is generous, no booking fee, no bail and most important of all - no bribe to grease the wheels of justice into faster action.

I pass him the 50k and he smiles. "As always, good to see you Captain."

"It's just Dmitri now Sergeant. The war ended ten years ago." I say to him.

I got him this job, my write-up helped to get him the extra stripe. He feels like he owes me something which is probably why the bail-outs are always so cheap on his watch. I hear the boots of the other police officer approaching, matched by the familiar staccato footsteps as he stumbles along beside him.

"Hello Jason old friend!" I say, knowing he won't reply. I manage to get him into the cab that is waiting outside for us, the driver knows where to take us. We are that well known.

"Hello Captain, it is good to see you again sir. I'm sorry about the Lieutenant sir. I hope The Clinic will do a better job this time." The driver is yet another face from my past. As usual we pay no fare when we get out at The Clinic.

The Porter on the front door snaps to attention and salutes me out of habit, I have to restrain myself from throwing one back at him. "Captain! We weren't told to expect you sir!" he says.

I indicate towards Jason. "Another episode, sadly. We will try the treatment again. Perhaps with greater success this time."

He helps us inside, bringing out a wheelchair.

Jason can walk. His legs work fine. It's just the link between them and his mind that aren't functioning right now.

Another old comrade is working at the booking desk, he hastens our admission for old times sake, many favours are owed to me that can never be repaid. We're directed to an elevator. I know what to expect next. When the door finally opens several floors later, he's already waiting for us in the corridor.

"Hi Doc, sorry to be back again so soon." I say to him, slightly red-faced at being back in The Clinic so soon.

"It's okay Captain, the Lieutenant can't help himself. Who did he shoot?" the Doctor asks me.

News travels real fast here, especially bad news or idle gossip.

"Just a mech Doc, don't ask me where he got a gun or how he found the money to buy one. Veterans Admin say he barely gets enough to feed himself most days." I explain, or try to.

I push Jason into the examination room and stand ready. The Doc locks the door and activates the audio tape. Outside the room it's mostly silent, just the ambient hum of normal hospital life going on in the distance. In here is the sound of distant gunfire, explosions, men screaming for help, the engines of war.

"Sir, take cover. We have incoming!" It's Jason, back with us again.

The Doc stops the tape and Jason slowly releases his vice-like grip on my wrist.

"Where am I Captain?" Jason asks me, unsure of his reality.

"It's just Dmitri now Jason. The war is over. We are home now." I say.

"Are we really back sir?" Jason asks, with a glimmer of hope in his eyes.

"Yes my friend. It's all long over now. You're back from the war." I turn and look across the cityscape framed by the window and say to myself "We're all back. Mostly."

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Ray Daley was born in Coventry and still lives there. He served 6 yrs in the RAF as a clerk and spent most of his time in a Hobbit hole in High Wycombe. He is a published poet and has been writing stories since he was 10. His current dream is to eventually finish the Hitch Hikers fanfic novel he's been writing since 1986.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


No Talking Cat Stories
By Ian D Smith

Don’t submit your talking cat stories.
They have been done to death.
Time travellers and boy wizards are a hard sell too.'

Unfair, I think, on time-travelling talking cats, especially those with a tale to tell. Not that all cats can talk in a desirable way, but by closing the door on talking cat stories you are missing out on one of the finer aspects of the universe. Don’t go shooting the messenger. Cats are communicable.
I have a story to tell.

For example, I live beneath a rank of shopping trolleys, large ones with child seats that are, how you people say, fit-for-purpose. I might use the steel, align myself east / west (you need not know the precise angle), head slightly elevated, all four legs and tail tucked beneath (essential for maximum declavity (don’t ask).

I form a congregation of one. The trolleys roll a little. The lights falter. You might see my fur turn upwards. I might close my eyes, tune in, and converse. I might strobe a little.

So that was it. The tale. Except that the ending has been savaged by an editor who insists on no talking cat stories, and the minimalist beast is lacking on the word count.

As I’m paid by the word, I consider this a personal disaster, so please reconsider talking cat stories, but stick to your guns on talking swords. There is no future for talking swords. Swords go out with sexy vampires, lusty pirates and boy wizards. If only you knew. If only you weren’t so talk-to-the-hand on talking cat stories. There’s so much you could learn from us about the future.

For your information, I notice a short bio is required, although not compulsory. I won’t go on, but I am a strobe-effect, millionth-generation tabby, and I am not alone. Dotted around your carnival of parking lots there are gingers, black and whites, cats of no particular colour, and we are plotting. We gather near steel fences, floodlights, cell phone aerials, listening, and we are conversing.

You haven’t seen us yet?

Keep looking.

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Ian D Smith was born in Manchester in the UK and lives in Wiltshire. Stories in Weirdyear, Smoking Poet, The Front View and others.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


The Open Sea
By Shelly Robinson

Lindberg sat on the edge of the boat, his flippers hanging over the smooth glass of the open sea.

“Are you worried about sharks? Aliens? Ghosts, perhaps?” Rockwell chuckled at his own cleverness.

Lindberg gazed at the horizon. An ominous tangle of black clouds formed where the sun should have been.

“The weather is no good, Arnold,” he said.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Lindberg. I’ve weathered typhoons in this boat!” Lindberg doubted this very much but said nothing. “Listen, Lindberg, this is my dime. It’s my boat, and I’m telling you we have time. So let’s get on with this.”

Lindberg had found in the past that men who can buy the world develop a false confidence that lends them notions of purchasing even the weather. Arnold Rockwell IV was no exception.

Americans had called claiming to be government spooks; Americans called with money, claiming to be generous benefactors. Arnold Rockwell had sounded the least fatuous over the phone, but merely masked his true personage behind a thin façade of charm. In person, he was glib as any used car salesman, boastful and controlling. But the dive was seven thousand dollars a day, and Lindberg had little choice if he wished to discover the truth.

Lindberg put his mask on and fell back into the water. As he descended, silence enveloped him. He propelled himself into the abyss, towards the anomaly.

It was a large expanse of stone, too well-formed to have been an accident. The media claimed it the product of aliens. In Lindberg’s experience, any wreckage on the sea floor was likely the product of man.

Beneath the surface, Lindberg did not have to weather the irritation of Rockwell. He found the sea hospitable and peaceful, a place of unexplored triumph and discovery. It was here he made his home.

He flippered closer to the anomaly. Rockwell’s voice droned in his ear:

“—fame and fortune the likes of which you can’t conceive, Lindberg! I know you’re a poor fisherman’s son, but this can bring you into the big leagues! Why, I’ll bet you’ve never eaten caviar—”

“I’m nearing the anomaly now, Arnold,” interrupted Lindberg. All lines of communication went dead in its presence.

“Do you think communication failure is due to alien energies radiating through the vents?”

“I believe it is due to being hundreds of feet underwater near a large object,” said Lindberg.

“Don’t discount this alien stuff, Paul,” warned Rockwell. “In fact, regardless of what you find, I want you to—”

Lindberg never found out what Rockwell wanted. His voice abruptly ceased as Lindberg glided over the surface of the anomaly.

Lindberg slipped into the rocks. He found himself in a small stone room, circular, green and murky. He switched on his light.

Approaching the far wall, Lindberg could see carvings etched in stone, much like hieroglyphs: he raised the light, squinting—

a man with a dog’s head, clutching a bar of gold; a kraken, a man with the body of a fish weeping, a bird in the sky

--Lindberg recoiled, nearly losing his mouthpiece. He was alone, his air was low, and something felt wrong within his gut.

“Arnold? Arnold, are you there? I think I’ve found something.” Lindberg forgot he had no communication. Cursing silently, he flippered away from the anomaly as fast as he could.

“Arnold? Can you hear me? I’ve found something within the anomaly, I believe it’s manmade—Arnold?”

Lindberg was well clear of the structure, but the line remained silent and dead.

Lindberg swam faster, breaking the surface with a few fierce strokes. When his head emerged from the sea, he saw nothing.

No boat. No Rockwell. No clouds, either; nothing but sunshine. He removed his mask, squinting.

In the distance, he saw the boat, tipped sideways. Lindberg rubbed the seawater from his eyes.

The only visible part of the boat left was embraced by tentacles that dwarfed the vessel. It was not a small boat. It was, however, rapidly disappearing beneath the surface. With a sucking sound, the boat was gone.

Lindberg let his head fall back. He stared up at the sky. From the horizon approached the sound of helicopter blades.

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