I would like it to be sunny there. Sun gives you vitamin … some-letter-or-other. But not too much, hey! Some sun — good; too much — bad! Wear a hat. Sunglasses. Factor some-high-number sun block. But yes, sun. Apart from the vitamin intake, there’s the sense of wellbeing. Apparently, the further north you are, like here, where skies are grey, days shorter, rain aplenty, the suicide rate is appalling. I’m not ready to go yet. Give me sunshine.
What’s Hot Right Now
Alan Maple is old and tired.
He loves his work. Few people spend their life working for their passion, and he’s always considered himself a lucky one. He loves what he does, and he’s good at it.
And it was easy until recently. He’d evaded that old detective for years, and even enjoyed it. He was younger then, fast and slick. But time has passed, and so had the old detective. Now, his good times are quickly nearing their end, and it began with the arrival of Christian Stanford.
Twenty-One does not enjoy scouting missions. Even less so when they end with a splitting headache and a crashed ship on a primitive planet. He makes a mental note to file a complaint about this particular flightpath, then adds a note to find a new job as soon as that complaint goes through. Shaking the stars from his eyes and rubbing the spot where his skull met the dashboard, Twenty-One puts in a signal for pickup. As the irritatingly pleasant operator puts him on hold, he pulls up intel on the blue planet that might be his temporary home for the near future.
Luckily for him, the planet is inhabited. Unluckily, the master race has not mastered space travel, nor have they established intergalactic diplomacy. Also unluckily, their language and physiology are too far removed for Twenty-One to make contact without rousing massive public panic. Luckily, they have discovered alcohol.
Pema tiptoed through the amber morning light as fast as she dared, her feet silent on the titanium ground panels. She clutched her shoes to her chest to contain her clanging heart and kept her head down, as if this would make the passageway stay empty. Her mother’s voice filled her head.
We’re starting on Field 4-1 today.
Something about a generator down. Routine Maintenance. Pema didn’t hear the rest. Didn’t ask questions. She couldn’t. Panic had gripped her throat too tight.
It is a very good company to work for. Almost like a family.
Colin, sir. I am an operating technician here. I always wanted to be a doctor but unfortunately … it was not possible. I am doing the next best thing, though. (We need to take this elevator.)
My job is to provide maintenance on Hummans and I have been doing it for … well, quite some time now.
Thriller & Suspense
It had happened every Midsummer’s Eve since Fira’s grandmother had been a girl.
A beautiful woman would come walking out of the forest at dusk and take a single girl from the village.
“It’s an honour to be chosen,” the elders would say, but it didn’t seem that way to Fira. For no one knew where the girls were taken, and they were only ever seen once again: the following Midsummer’s Eve when it would be them walking out of the trees to take the next girl.
This bruise-eyed boy hauling a box, heavy as the world. Straining under snickering rain and cratered sky. Stop. Old man breath. Feels like the thousandth time he’s walked this route, the first time he’s felt this way. Adrenalin like rumbles of thunder all through him.
The morning winds rush down the hill behind Tim, catching the sound of wood on concrete, so it reaches along the concrete path under the line of birch trees, the path brings it through the gates into the playground, where it reaches the ears of waiting chattering children, who turn and see Tim, see the weight of the box, see the scribbled warnings Privet, Danjrus, Dont touch, and come circling in towards him. They all clamour to see what’s inside. They plead. They cajole. They bribe with offers of friendship and parties. Their words tinkle and crash around him like shattered glass. Theo says “Show me.” In this little corner of the universe, nobody says no to Theo McKenzie. But Tim does, and time stops for a moment.
As the reader is most definitely aware, small rural towns love their monster stories. In the town of Hogan, there had only ever been one.
The monster, which came to be known as the Hogan Pine, was a tree. The story, as most people tell it, goes that in centuries past the tree would lure travelers into its forest (by night, naturally). They would catch a sudden, deep aroma of pine and become absolutely helpless in resisting its pull — everyone loves the smell of pine. Then, if they hadn’t been alone, they’d be found the next morning — or on a different, more distant morning — lying dead at the base of the tree, body covered in its needles.
“I assure you, Mr. and Mrs. Huston, we are doing our best to locate your daughter’s missing limbs.” Lieutenant Matthew Collins watched the mother’s fingers shake as they hovered above her daughter’s shoulder, inches from the wound. Behind her, her husband stood tight-lipped and silent.
“What kind of monster would do something like this?” The woman’s voice wavered but echoed easily off the morgue’s metal interior. “We can’t bury her in … in pieces.”