Saturday, 23 August 2014

Back to the fuchsia

My, but how it has grown.

How strong and healthy it has become.

This was the first time she had been to this corner of the garden since... that evening.

This corner was always... his corner.

His to plant, his to nurture... his to not share.

This was the first anniversary, how the months have flown.

She had smirked as they dug up the patio, quietly chanting “How green you are” under her breath.

She had sung it even quieter when they prised the floorboards, when they searched the attic crawl space.

They finally accepted her story of abandonment, and her tears.

It was in full bloom again now. All those red droplets brought the memories flooding back.

Images flickered. A sneering smile. A raised spade. And all those red droplets.

More than one person had remarked what a good-for-nothing piece of manure he was.

They were wrong on one count. He was good for something.

Plant food.

©2014 Stephen. J. Green.

Friday, 15 August 2014

A stillness in the air (Part 2)

Anyone wishing to read Part 1 can find it here:- A stillness in the air (Part 1)


Before long the red glow thickened, took on form.

The air rapidly grew hotter and heavier as the cloud approached. The thrumming reached almost ear-shattering levels.

Blake buried his face in the ground, his hands clamped tightly over his ears, fear and anger flooded through him as the very earth shook and trembled beneath him.

His whole world became an energy-draining cacophony of howling, whipping winds and deafening, shrieking, bone-shaking vibration. A blinding kaleidoscope of swirling reds and purples, spangled with diamond glints and sizzling blue flashes.

He clung to his sanity for what seemed like an eternity. His screamed prayers snatched from his mouth by the turbulence.

Eventually the assault on his senses lessened as the cloud passed his position. He rolled onto his back and stared at the enemy.

The monstrous, multi-hued, vaporous cloud a hundred feet or so from the ground rolled inexorably toward the citadel.

Blake raised his Minigat and took sight, then faltered indecisively.

There was nothing to shoot at, nothing tangible to target. How do you fight something that has no substance?

Several yards to his left a weapon opened up. The thousands of light pulses per second thrown out by the multi-barrels appeared as one solid stream as it arced up and into the cloud, spraying back and forth in what should have been a murderous firefield.

The cloud just absorbed the rounds and continued on toward the citadel unscathed.

A narrow red beam sliced down from the cloud to touch the shooting soldier. Blake watched in helpless horror as he vanished. No blood spray, no screaming, just a momentary red flash and the soldier disappeared.

Blake watched, transfixed with fear, as the same scenario was repeated time and time again all along the ridge. Hundreds of weapons sprayed into the cloud, and rapidly the army on the ridge vanished beneath a hail of red needles.

The cloud rolled on across the plain as if the engagement had never happened.

Blake dragged himself to his feet. Fighting this thing was futile. Whatever it was, these weapons were useless against it.

There was only one thought on his mind now, Sulya and his daughters, if there was any chance he could save them...

He shouldered his Minigat and set off toward the citadel. After only a few paces he saw the immense Spitlights open up, pouring billions of pulses into the cloud. Even from this distance he could feel the heat from the incredible amount of energy piercing the air.

Hope crept into Blake's heart. Surely nothing could withstand a barrage like that?

Blake watched unbelievingly as once more red beams lanced down. They grew in number until the whole citadel was sheathed in a massive scarlet cloak. The bright light pulses rapidly diminished until there was only red. Bright arterial red.

And then nothing.

No sounds. No firefight... No citadel.

Blake slumped to his knees, allowing the tears to fall freely. There was no-one left to see them, to witness his humiliation.

The cloud seemed to gather in on itself, as if compressing and centralizing its energy. It became smaller, shrinking in on itself until it became a solid red orb. Slowly, slowly it began to rise. Gaining speed and height it flew straight up into the sky until it was lost from sight.

Blake continued on to the citadel. Hoping against hope that Sulya and the girls had somehow survived. They would have been in one of the safer, lower levels, far below ground. They would still be there, there would be more survivors. There had to be.

As he walked he reflected on the other incidents around the planet, the other citadels. No contact had been made with them once the cloud had reached them.

Blake refused to give up hope. The cloud must have destroyed the communications systems in all the citadels. That would be logical, that would explain the lack of contact.

Sulya was still alive. His precious children were still alive. He knew it. With unshakeable certainty Blake knew his family waited for him in those lower levels.

He quickened his pace, his heart soaring. They would flee to the forest, live amongst the trees. His children would grow healthy and strong in the beautiful outdoors.

Two hours later found Blake at the lip of the crater, staring down into the depths of the massive hole in the ground.

Of the citadel nothing remained. Not a brick, shard of metal, shred of flesh. Not a molecule to say there had ever been anything there but earth. The building was gone, right down to the lowest foundation.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It was three days later that the first craft landed.

Blake watched from cover as the huge silver machine settled onto the plain in a whirl of wind and hissing of retro motors.

A ramp slid down from the ship's belly and angled to the ground.

Several small, humanoid creatures walked down the ramp, gathering at the base in a huddle. Conversing animatedly.

Large eyed, blue-skinned heads stood on long necks. They wore grey uniforms, but the lack of helmets told Blake they must find our atmosphere breathable.

He understood now, the cloud was a weapon, not the enemy. This was the enemy.

This was something he could target, something he could shoot at, something he could kill.

Blake stepped out into the open and sighted his minigat. The creatures appeared not to notice him, his Invisuit hiding him from their view. Blake hesitated, concealment would be a precious weapon in his arsenal.

These creatures look physically weak, soft skinned, vulnerable.

Blake grinned widely, a grin that wouldn't reach his eyes, couldn't reach his heart.

He had nothing but time, plenty of ammo, and carried more hate than a man should be capable of.

He would wait, let more come, let them settle, become complacent.

Then he would turn their newly acquired world into a nightmare.

©2014 Stephen. J. Green.

Friday, 8 August 2014

A stillness in the air (Part 1)

There was not a whisper of a breeze. Not a rustle of leaf or twitch of grass.

It felt like the world held its breath.

Possibly the last breath it would ever hold.

Blake scanned the valley and the distant low hills, flicking through the spectrums with each pass of the scope. Nothing.

If there was life out there the scope would have found it.

Nothing. Not an insect, a bird, a rabbit.

They knew. They all knew something was coming.

Blake slid the scope into its sheath. He glanced back over his shoulder at the squat slab of the citadel in the centre of the plain several miles away.

Even from this distance the massive walls looked impregnable, unbreachable. Bristling with weaponry. The huge, multi-barrelled Spitlight cannons could take out anything known to mankind.

But it wasn't men that were coming for them.

Of one hundred and sixteen citadels scattered throughout the planet, this was the only one left.

One by one they had all been crushed.

Blake checked his weapon one more time. A miniature, hand held version of the massive Spitlights. A devastating weapon, proven in many campaigns, but it brought him little comfort now. At least wielding it meant he would die a soldier's death.

He sat down on the grass and breathed deeply, forcing himself to relax.

The stillness in the air felt unnatural. It had the aura of an animal frozen in fear.

Even so, Blake took what he could from the peace and quiet.

A slight tremor ran through the ground, barely detectable. The air began to thrum.

Blake flicked his commset. “Base, this is Scout Delta niner, they're coming.”

His earpiece crackled. “Roger Delta niner. Hold position, let them pass, then engage at your discretion... And may god be with you.”

A rapid staccato stabbed the quiet as the men all up and down the line locked and loaded.

A slight shimmer briefly distorted the ridge as Invisuits were switched to full camo mode.

Blake reached into an inner breast pocket and pulled out the picture of Sulya and the girls. He looked at it for several seconds, feeling the emotion building in him. He kissed the photo then replaced in his pocket, the one next to his heart, storing the love there alongside it. He wiped the single tear from his cheek as he switched on his own camo.

Blake gazed at the horizon, a faint pink glow appeared, slowly darkening toward red.

The storm was a long way off yet.

But it was coming fast.

Bringing them with it.

©2014 Stephen. J. Green.

Continued in:- A stillness in the air (Part 2)