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Friday, 4 January 2013



This one's for you, ladies!

My New Year's Resolution (capitalized to show its importance) is to re-establish my writing discipline. I used to put aside 7-10pm every night (if I wasn't otherwise busy) to write, and kept up this regime for ages. I also used to, quite happily, use every spare moment to write - afternoons off work, an hour before work, etc etc etc. But, to be succinct, Life (also capitalized to show its importance) got in the way and all that stopped about six or so months ago.

However, these last two evenings have seen me churn out over 5200 words, with plenty more rattling around in my noodle, so I'm feeling pretty goddamn jazzed about everything at the moment. I'd like to think that 2013 will see me reach the next level with my writing, when it's already at a nice level now (being published in invite-only anthologies alongside some top genre authors still fills me with the warm fuzzies). However x 2: anyone would just grow stagnant and complacent if they start to put down roots, and I would like to think that I'll get somewhere with at least one actual novel (I have about five in various states of completion) this year - I typically get asked to send a full manuscript (which is nice to hear) but then it's 'not what they're looking for at the moment', which is fair enough, really.

In the meantime, I shall continue to work on short stories, including one that fuses pretty much every genre imaginable. I suspect this might end up being the basis for yet another novel, given that the underlying idea is MASSIVE (oooh how vague, Mr Goodchild!) but we'll see...

So, here's what will be either the first chapter or first part. Will likely be tweaked a little, but I'm very happy with it at the moment. I'm always wary about posting sizable chunks of writing online in the public view, but if anyone nicked this I'd be flattered that they bothered. Plus, I don't imagine there's much they can do with such a small slice of something, anyways. Not that any of that is an invitation, you naughty plagiarists!



Danny Vacuus wiped sweat from his brow with the back of an arm as he hurried through Nottingham city centre. He was late for work and he had the mother of all headaches. Where it had come from, he didn't know—he felt otherwise fine and hadn't been drinking the night before. Probably dehydrated, he reasoned. It was unseasonably warm—had been for a few days—and the weathermen on TV kept mentioning 'flares' or something; he never paid much attention to the news. In any case, he gathered the hot weather was bound to continue. Fantastic.

“Late again, Danny?”

Elizabeth stood smoking a cigarette on the steps of the city hall, flanked by a congregation of her hipster friends.

Though he wanted to make a sarcastic remark, Danny slowed down and offered a cordial “Morning, Liz. Ladies.”

“I'm surprised you haven't been fired yet,” Liz said.

“I'm surprised you haven't been called back to your mothership.” There it was. He couldn't help himself.

Her smirk mutated into a grimace. “Grow up.”

“Sure thing, mum.” Danny offered Liz and her friends a salute and hurried on. Goddamn it. Why couldn't he just let it go? It didn't do him any good being bitter, and none of his friends (and some of hers, he suspected) thought he was in any way to blame, yet—

A car horn blasted him out of his reverie as a taxi bombed past him. Hadn't the light been on red? He looked up and saw the traffic signal going bananas. And was it his imagination, or was the pulse of his headache growing louder? It sounded like it'd left his brain and was flying overhead, which didn’t make any sense at all.

A scruffily-dressed older gent stood next to Danny, shouting into his phone and holding a hand to his free ear. “Bill? You're breaking up! Bill? Shit!” He stared at his phone in frustration and muttered “Cutting-edge technology, my arse. And what the hell is that noise?”

“You can hear that?” Danny asked.

A crash further down the road grabbed both their attentions. The taxi that had buzzed past Danny had crumpled into a tram. All the traffic lights were randomly flicking between colours and/or firing off sparks. Some people were rushing to see if they could help, but most pedestrians were staring up at the sky and holding their heads. Danny followed their collective gaze and watched as vivid streaks of colour to match the malfunctioning traffic lights raced across the heavens, turning the blue sky into an acid-trip eye-blitz. Danny's headache pulse now beat erratically along with the aurora, making it difficult to concentrate, or even move.

“Jesus...” the older gent muttered, before stumbling awkwardly away from Danny.

“Dan!” Elizabeth came rushing over, but it took Danny a moment to register her presence. “They said this wouldn't happen!”

He saw the look of unadulterated fear on her face and all the anger, the bitterness, subsided. He felt the old longing to protect her, hold her close, and tell her things would be all right. “The flares?” he asked.

“I'm scared, Dan,” she replied, tears brimming in her eyes. 

Without another word, she stepped towards him, but at the exact same moment the air hummed with a level of atmospheric pressure that forced everyone to scream soundlessly and buckle. Simultaneously, the lights overhead burst into a searing white, that was more absence of colour than anything else, and a rush of heat surged across the city. Without even being conscious of the thought, Danny knew that this was the end. Of everything.
And a suitably cheery song to end on: