Archives for posts with tag: History

Thanks to Sarah Mallery​ for featuring me on her blog. A great writer and an extraordinary supporter of other authors. And if you love history, you must follow her and her blog!

 

Yet another ASMSG member, when I first came across this fine author/reviewer/blogger, what immediately struck me about her was her kindheartedness, evident from the various gracious and caring comm…

Source: Olga Nuñez Miret – A Gentle Altruism | S.R. Mallery’s AND HISTORY FOR ALL

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Hi all:

With Christmas just a few days away, I’m trying to share as many of the reviews I have pending before the end of the year as I can, to make sure you have enough to read over the holidays. Also, I have to warn you I’m planning on having some reshuffling, maintenance and hopefully improvements (and a bit of a move) in the blog over the next few days. I hope I won’t disappear completely, but one never knows… If I do it’s most likely a technical problem rather than anything else… (she said, holding on tight).

After all that, time to share reviews. Today I’m revisiting two writers whose work I really enjoyed the first time around, so I repeated. Here they are.

First, S. R. Mallery with Unexpected Gifts:

Unexpected gifts 3

First, the description:

A TRUE AMERICAN FAMILY SAGA: Can we learn from our ancestors? Do our relatives’ behaviors help shape our own?
In “Unexpected Gifts” that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, heading for addictions and forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, linking yesteryear with modern life until finally, by understanding her ancestors’ hardships and faults, she gains enough clarity to make some right choices.

Here, my review:

Unexpected Gifts by Sarah Mallery. The power of stories and the value of remembering the past.

Having read Mallery’s book of stories Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads I was looking forward to reading her novel. And although not unexpected, it definitely was a gift. The story of Sonia, a young woman studying psychology, in a complicated relationship with the lead singer of a band, and plagued by rituals and other symptoms of OCD, her story frames the novel and provides a conduit for telling many other stories. Through her we get to know her parents, and when her mother suggests she might find direction and some useful ideas by checking the attic and the family boxes that have accumulated there, each box goes on to reveal something about her family members and helps her discover more about herself.

The book is beautifully written, with vivid descriptions of places and people, that in a few sentences transport the reader to the recent (and less recent) past) and to locations and situations that spread from the new to the old world and from America to Bulgaria, via Vietnam. The structure of the novel is clever and works well in progressively unveiling Sonia’s heritage. Every time she reaches a conclusion about one of her ancestors, the next bit of information or evidence contained in the box corresponding to that person makes her reconsider and reach a better understanding (if not always a kinder opinion) about their lives. The box within a box or the Russian wooden dolls that must be opened up or peeled back to discover what hides inside (that are also mentioned in the novel) work well as a metaphor or visual representation for the structure of the novel.

The stories will affect or touch people differently, but they are all interesting and revisit crucial historical events and periods, adding a personal perspective. We have Vietnam War veterans, the hippy movement, European emigrants arriving in Ellis Island, American Suffragettes, Racial Conflict and Race Riots, the McCarthy era Communist witch hunt, Dance Marathons and the Depression Era, and romances that seem to be fated to end up badly. By exploring the past, Sonia seeks a way of understanding her behaviour and of breaking up patterns that result in sadness and unhappiness. I don’t want to reveal too much, but can add I enjoyed the ending that brought closure and a nice conclusion to the novel.

I recommend Unexpected Gifts to anybody who enjoys a good novel, with a solid historical background and strong characters, especially to people who prefer variety and many different stories. As the book is structured I think it will also appeal to readers of short stories and of anthologies of different styles of writing, as it provides multiple voices and many narrations in one single volume. Another great achievement for the author.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YWGATTU/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00YWGATTU/

Here the link to her author page (and don’t forget to follow her):

http://www.amazon.com/S.-R.-Mallery/e/B00CIUW3W8/

And G. Elizabeth Kretchmer’s Women on the Brink.

Women on the Brink by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

Women on the Brink by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

The description:

Women on the Brink is a stunning collection of loosely linked stories in which women aged thirteen to ninety must face the unwelcome realities of their lives. Sometimes gritty, sometimes humorous, and always compassionate, G. Elizabeth Kretchmer’s prose takes the reader on a compelling ride alongside these ordinary women as they wrestle with family relationships, self-esteem, socioeconomic status, maternal obligations, and need for independence.

In “Skydancer,” a young mother resents her newborn baby. In “Float Away,” an at-risk teen is desperate to find a new home. A minister’s wife struggles with secrets in “Liar’s Game.” A despondent housewife longs for purpose in “Alligator Poetry.” The protagonist in “Tasting Freedom” wrestles with decisions about her aging mother’s care. And in “From Here to Cafayate,” a woman refuses to give up on the perpetually flawed relationship she has shared with her sister for nearly ninety years.

Each story is enhanced by one of fourteen original poems contributed by talented poets specifically for this collection and its themes. Although the stories stand alone, they are further strengthened by the relationships among the various characters throughout the collection. Readers of Ms. Kretchmer’s first novel, The Damnable Legacy, will also delight to find that some of the characters from that novel have reappeared here.

The women in this collection may or may not be the type you’d invite over for lunch. Some of them are tough. Some aren’t all that likeable. Some might not see the world the way you do. But they’re compelling in their own right as they reflect women in today’s world—women who have come along a difficult path—and as they courageously take control of their lives.

My review:

Women on the Brink by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer. The World if Full of Possibilities if you Dare.

I was offered a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I read and reviewed Kretchmer’s novel ‘The Damnable Legacy of a Minister’s Wife’ this summer and was fascinated not only by the story (the Alaskan setting also helped) but also by the complex characterisation and the psychological insights. When I was offered a copy of ‘Women on the Brink’ I didn’t hesitate.

The book combines short stories by Kretchmer with poems that are interpretations of themes, feelings or sensations related to the stories that follow. The title perfectly reflects the nature of those stories. The women in them are at different stages of their lives, from teenagers trying to find themselves, to elderly women escaping a retirement home, but they all find themselves at a point when they question their lives as they are and what they are going to do next.

I enjoyed the different settings and characters, the writing style, easy to read and varied, adapting well to the different stories —some more introspective, some more comedic— and also the open-endedness of them. In ‘Bridge Out’ the main character, who after retirement decides to become a trucker, mentions ‘Thelma and Louise’ and like that movie, the stories show women going their own way, and these are many different ways. Perhaps piloting their own plane, going away to help in a disaster zone, confronting their past… And we never see them crash. Because one of the messages of this collection is that the world is full of possibilities if you only dare.

For those who have read the author’s previous novel there are some familiar characters, and there are also characters mentioned in several stories and who appear in more than one, hinting at the interconnectedness between all of our lives.

Although I wouldn’t say my circumstances are exactly those of any of the women in the stories, I identified with the feelings and the emotions described, I cheered (worriedly) for the ‘Girls Against Perfection’, and I thoroughly enjoyed the transformation of Margee in ‘Coco Palms’, from obedient wife to avenging warrior.

I would quite happily have read more about any of the characters in the stories, and confess I could see quite a few of them turned into much longer works (I loved the light touch in ‘Accelerant’ and Maureen, the perhaps not-as-confused-as-she-seems grandmother, is a fabulous character). Despite their length, the author creates fully-fledged characters and situations in each one of the stories, condensing descriptions and sharpening her prose, with not a word spare.

The poems complement beautifully the book and provide an effective and lyrical link between them.

I recommend it to all readers, those who enjoy short fiction and poetry, and also those who don’t read short stories, because we should challenge ourselves and they might be pleasantly surprised.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1513702351/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1513702351/

The link to the Author’s page (and don’t forget to follow!)

http://www.amazon.com/G.-Elizabeth-Kretchmer/e/B00L2T253I/

Thanks to S.R. Mallery and to G. Elizabeth Kretchmer for their novels, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Hi all:

As I’ve been doing recently I share today two recent works by a guest author that you should follow. S. R. Mallery is a writer I met through one of the groups of writers I belong to and must admit I was fascinated by the title of one of her works. Now that I’ve read it (and I include the review in this post), the title reflects well the inventiveness, breadth and quality of the work. And, as a special surprise, the author is running a giveaway of Sewing Can Be Dangerous… in Goodread, so I leave you the link (you only have time until the 12th April, so don’t waste any time!)

But let’s the books talk for themselves.

Unexpected gifst by S. R. Mallery

Unexpected gifts 3

Can we learn from our ancestral past? Do our relatives behaviors help mold our own? In Unexpected Gifts, that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys weaving yesteryear with modern life until finally, she gains enough clarity to make the right choices.

E-book edition:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GU0T3G6/

In paper:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0988954206/

Sewing Can Be Dangerous by SR Mallery

Sewing Can Be Dangerous by SR Mallery

Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads

The eleven long short stories in “Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads combine history, mystery, action and/or romance, and range from drug trafficking using Guatemalan hand-woven wallets, to an Antebellum U. S. slave using codes in her quilts as a message system to freedom; from an ex-journalist and her Hopi Indian maid solving a cold case together involving Katchina spirits, to a couple hiding Christian passports in a comforter in Nazi Germany; from a wedding quilt curse dating back to the Salem Witchcraft trials, to a mystery involving a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirt Factory fire; from a 1980’s Romeo and Juliet romance between a rising Wall Street financial ‘star’ and an eclectic fiber artist, to a Haight-Asbury love affair between a professor and a beautiful macramé artist gone horribly askew, just to name a few.

 

E-book:

http://amzn.to/1P8TOyo

In paper:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0989310574/

And the GIVEAWAY:

https://www.goodreads.com/event/show/921367-book-giveaway-2-print-copies—s-r-mallery-s-sewing-can-be-danger

And my review of Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads

Women, sewing, history and storytelling.

Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads by S. R. Mallery is an extraordinary collection of 11 short stories with a common ‘thread’, sewing and allied crafts. The stories have an incredible breadth, not only because of the variety of the plots (and they are all very different) but also because of their well-researched and vivid historical settings, and their diverse genres. We go from immigrants in early XX century America, to the slavery period, from mid-Western pioneers, to the Salem witch trials, from the Zodiac serial killer in San Francisco, to a quilting teacher turned sleuth in a cruise, from the Germany of the Nazi era to modern time Native American reservations and everywhere in between. I’m not an expert in quilting (although I’ve always wanted to learn, now even more after reading the book) but this book is a quilt of stories, where each piece and patch brings its own memories to create a complex design, not a crazy quilt but something more than the sum of its parts.

At the heart of the stories are the women, who might use their skills to make a living, to survive and create a better future for those they look after, to express their artistry, to pass on cultural and spiritual traditions, to get revenge, to escape, to fight… Because it’s not only the big gestures that make the society we live in, but each small stich is a piece of the puzzle that is life.

S. R. Mallery brings to life a fantastic array of characters and recreates vividly the historical periods where the stories are set. The reader gets dragged into the moment and shares with the protagonists their unique experiences. If I had to choose one I’d go with ‘Precious Gifts’ that I loved and took me completely by surprise.

I recommend this collection to everybody, whichever your genre of preference, no matter if you like sewing or not. Go and read it. You’ll be amazed and feel better for it.

Thank you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK!

I have written a few posts about two of my mother’s uncles, Josep and Conrado Miret Musté, who fled Barcelona during the Civil War and went to France.
You’ll remember one of my cousins, Juan Molet, has been researching documentation regarding their lives (and deaths) but so far he had not been able to find confirmation that Conrado died.
Juan participated in a homage organised in honour of the Spaniards who fought with the French Resistance in Prayols last weekend. Here it was revealed that finally a document had been found confirming that he had died on the 27th February 1942. I attach the document that gives few details, other than there was a witness statement by one of the guardians of the prison (Rue la Santé 42) . It seems indeed he died under torture. Now, with this document, he finally has been given the status of having died for France.

Conrado%20%20-%20ce%20que%20porté%20sur%20registre%20maintenant[1]
I also attach copy of the picture they officials used to search for him. I find it quite haunting, but it might be the family thing.
Portrait à tirer MIRET

And here my cousin in front of the picture.

SAM_3118[1]

He mentions that he had a chance to talk to Ángel Álvarez, member of the Republican Army (Exercit Popular de la Republica), member of the Resistence in France, and the first Spaniard who managed to escape from the train taking him to Dachau. My cousin explains that his was a sad but illuminating story.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to meet my cousin when I visit Barcelona in September and I will bring back some more information and insights to share.
Thank you for reading and please share. And if you have any relevant stories or information, do let me know.

Today I bring you an author I’ve met in Twitter. Jon Fletcher has a very interesting life (that he’ll tell us a bit about later) and he’s real fun to follow. With another Twitter friend, Olivia, we’ve shared all kinds of slightly off-the-wall conversations. Jon has also shared some of his writing with us and I couldn’t help thinking he’d make a great guest for my blog. He bring us not only an original (that will be part of the new book in the series) interview with his main character Josiah Trenchard, but also tells us about himself and shares the prologue to his book. And now, I leave you with Jon, and Josiah…

Transcript of interview with Captain Josiah Trenchard of the United Worlds Space Navy by I.N.N. anchorman, Alexander Robertson, from his late night current affairs show “Rob’s On”:

ROBERTSON: Good evening, folks. This is Alexander Robertson. I’m joined in the studio by Captain Josiah Trenchard of the Wolverine class hunter-killer star-ship, the Might of Fortitude. Captain Trenchard has recently returned from a covert mission to protect a vital installation owned by the Papaver Corporation, and we are fortunate enough to have him here with us in the studio tonight. Good evening Captain Trenchard, or may I call you Jo?

TRENCHARD: No. You may not!

ROBERTSON: Okay then, let’s start with a brief history. You served aboard the U.W.S.S. Hand of Valour and were part of the peace keeping force sent to Europa. That battle was won by Captain Fisher wasn’t it; the so called hero of Europa?

TRENCHARD: It was a joint effort.

ROBERTSON: You were then transferred to the prototype Wolverine class ship, the Might of Fortitude as Captain Bird’s executive officer …

TRENCHARD: It’s referred to as a “boat”.

ROBERTSON: Right Jo. I’m sure that’s real important (smiles to camera and winks). There’s some confusion about what happened next. Would you like to comment on the rumours that the crew mutinied and were about to hand the shi… er, boat, over to the pirates?

TRENCHARD: That’s classified.

ROBERTSON: But Captain Bird was killed shortly after launch?

TRENCHARD: Yes. (looks at his watch)

ROBERTSON: And then you somehow managed to save the boat, single handed?

TRENCHARD: Yes.

ROBERTSON: Gee, you’re a really talkative guy Jo, I like that!

TRENCHARD: That’s Captain Trenchard to you…

ROBERTSON: So then your last mission was to protect a Papaver Corporation facility in the Kuyper belt. Tell me, how did you feel being promoted to Captain?

TRENCHARD: It’s a great honour to serve aboard one of the finest vessels in the fleet. The Might has a fine crew. They all carried out their duties admirably, under extreme pressure.

ROBERTSON: But we’ve received information that you’ve never completed the “Perisher” officer’s training course. What makes you think you’re qualified to command a hunter-killer star-ship?

TRENCHARD: (long silence) That was a field promotion, there wasn’t time to…

ROBERTSON: So what you’re telling me is that you have no qualifications to serve as Captain of a Wolverine?

TRENCHARD: I have served in the navy for many years, I…

ROBERTSON: You had two crewmembers injured on the last mission. One even lost a leg. Isn’t that true?

TRENCHARD: Unfortunately, yes, but…

ROBERTSON: Would that have happened if you’d received adequate training?

TRENCHARD: The injuries were unavoidable. We were in a battle situation for (edited) sake! We had a pirate ship bearing down on us and a homicidal enemy robot tearing the (edited) space-station apart. We were lucky to get away with the few injuries that we did. The men who were injured fought extremely bravely.

ROBERTSON: …and yet you had to be rescued by the S.S. Bertrand, Claude Papaver’s ship?

TRENCHARD: Rescued! (whispers something inaudible)

ROBERTSON: How about this nickname that you’ve picked up among your fellow officers, “The Fixer”? It seems like a tough sounding kinda name Jo? Are you a tough guy Jo? Are ya butch?

TRENCHARD: Where did you hear that from? I’ve never…

ROBERTSON: You’re getting quite a name for yourself Jo. If there’s trouble, send in the fixer right? He’ll get the job done, whatever it takes; even if that means bending the rules a little?

TRENCHARD: What? You son of a…

ROBERTSON: You went into that space-station your-self didn’t you Jo? Shouldn’t you have sent your executive officer in command of the mission? Do you think that she would have let a man lose his leg?

TRENCHARD: Watch your mouth, you arrogant piece of (expletive removed)!

ROBERTSON: You like a drink don’t cha Jo?

TRENCHARD: (looks confused) Occasionally, like any other sailor I…

ROBERTSON: Well we have witnesses that have seen you in Mike’s Bar, regularly drinking heavily until you can’t stand up any more.

TRENCHARD: Who…

ROBERTSON: Do you think an officer who smokes, drinks heavily, breaks the rules continually and disobeys standing orders; is a fit person to hold command of a military star-ship?

TRENCHARD: (stands from his seat and rips off microphone) I don’t have to stand for this (edited), you (edited) piece of (edited)! (walks away)

ROBERTSON: (calls after Trenchard) Do you think that you’re fit to be a star-ship Captain Jo? Can’t stand the heat Jo? Are you a coward too Jo?

TRENCHARD: (walks back towards Robertson, swings fist and punches Robertson off his chair) (edited) you!

End of transcript…

Jonathon Fletcher: Author of the Josiah Trenchard series.

I first started working on the story ideas for the Unity story arc when I was a film student at the University of Northumbria. The original idea was for a short film that I made (with a lot of help) in my third year. Ever since then I played about with the stories, mainly as film scripts. But then life got in the way. I finished the degree and started a job working as an assistant prop maker at Cosgrove Hall Films in Chorlton-cum-hardy, Manchester. The first show I worked on was Brambly Hedge, and then Rocky and the Dodos and Gerry Anderson’s LavenderCastle.

After about a year I left Cosgrove Hall with a group of other people who were setting up a new company called Hot Animation. I became the head of props and worked on some more Brambly Hedge and then the pilot for Bob the Builder. I gradually worked my way up and eventually became Series Art Director on Bob the Builder. After around fourteen series (I lost track after a while) and a few specials, Hot Animation was taken over by another company and they instigated a round of redundancies. I had been thinking about leaving for a while and so I decided to take the redundancy money and set myself up in business as a gardener.

I’ve been working as a gardener now for nearly ten years. I recently moved from Manchester up to the beautiful Northumberland countryside. Gardening gives me the time to look after my wife, who works very hard as a Head Teacher, and also have some time off in the winter to write. I’ve been working on the universe that Josiah Trenchard lives in, on and off since 1992.  I initially re-worked my short film idea into a novel and then looked into publishing via the traditional route, which seemed very hit or miss! Then a friend suggested self publishing on Amazon. He had a work colleague who was now making a fair income from writing books for Kindle. I didn’t want to give away my novel straight away, firstly because it wasn’t good enough yet, and secondly because I wanted to dip my toes in the self publishing waters with shorter stories first.

I already had some off-shoots from the main story in mind and so I decided to write a series of shorter novellas following the adventures of one mighty star-ship and one infamous Captain. Most of the best military sci-fi follows the voyages of an iconic vessel, from Star Trek to Jack Campbell’s “Lost Fleet” series, so that’s the format I chose. The idea for the first story was fairly easy to come up with. I knew that I had to introduce the prototype Wolverine star-ship, the Might of Fortitude, and that it would be set in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter and involve space pirates. To be honest, the most difficult thing was coming up with the name of the Captain, probably the single most important thing for the books. For a start his name would be on every book cover. Secondly it had to be something new, that nobody else had already used. I spent a while trawling through Google and searching for different names; nothing would do. Then one day, the name “Josiah Trenchard” just popped into my head suddenly. Was it divine inspiration or just my subconscious finally working it through? Whatever the reason, the name was perfect and the series was born. Josiah Trenchard actually translates as “the lord saves man of war” which is kind of cool for the main hero of your military sci-fi epic!

After that, the name of the space-ship was the next most important element. Most science fiction vessels have bold sounding single word names like “Vengeful”, “Nostromo” or “Enterprise”. Alternatively they have two word names like “Red Dwarf” or “Millennium Falcon”. I wanted to use a different format, one that could be adapted for many different star-ship names. Then I was near the sea one day (I tend to spend a lot of time at the coast when I can) and I started noticing the names on fishing boats. A large number of the boats were named “the something of something”, for example the “Pride of Newcastle”. And so after a fair bit of brain-storming, the “Might of Fortitude” was born. Other vessels in the series include the “Gift of Stealth”, the “Hand of Valour” and the “Breath of Vengeance”. It’s a format that suits military vessels and has millions of possible combinations.

Writing the first episode was hard because an establisher episode has so many constraints. You must introduce the main character, the setting, a problem for them to overcome, their enemies, and so on. You have to do all this in a finite number of words and keep it interesting for the reader. I think I did a pretty good job, and episode two is much better as the story just gets straight into the action. There are a lot of unanswered questions at the end of part two and some of the crew have undergone some pretty horrible traumas. Part three, “Berzerkergang”, should be out on sale as this blog is published. It picks right up where part two left off. This time the crew of the Might get to visit a planet’s surface and really delve into what make’s the Insurgent terrorists tick. The reader also finds out a good deal more about the mysterious Japanese assassin and the motives of Claude Papaver.

Each episode is loosely based on a classic horror / sci-fi theme, which is then re-told in my own style. Morgenstern obviously draws heavily upon Frankenstein, and Berzerkergang is a Jekyll and Hyde / Wolfman inspired plot. Part four is currently being written. It’s and action packed story and pits the crew of the Might against zombies! Well, it had to happen eventually, didn’t it?

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Excerpt from Josiah Trenchard Part Three: Berzerkergang:

Prologue “Campfire Tales”

The dancing flames flickered violently as a cold wind blew in across the compound. The four figures huddled around the old oil drum pulled their capes a little closer around their necks to ward off the chill of the night. The night watch was always hard, but the bitter cold was draining the last of the United Worlds trooper’s courage.

‘Throw another log on the fire would you,’ asked Stofan, hugging herself tightly to keep out the cold.

Coloroso duly obliged and the fire sparkled and crackled as the heavy log hit the smouldering embers, sending bright sparks whirling skyward.

‘You want to hear a story?’ said McGagh darkly, pulling a hip flask from his uniform pocket and taking a swig, then offering it around. ‘Not one of Vinny’s crap ghost stories, a real story?’

‘Hey!’ said Coloroso, alarmed. ‘Alcohol’s forbidden on duty,’ he cried.

McGagh gave him a disgusted look. ‘You haven’t been out of the academy long, have you lad?’

Coloroso shook his head.

McGagh pushed the flask towards him. ‘This is best Irish whiskey. If you don’t take a drink, then I’ll be offended, and so will my family and all our ancestors. You don’t want to offend my family do you?’

The underlying threat was clear. Coloroso took the flask and swigged a shot down, the harsh spirit stinging his insides. As he did, he noticed a tattoo on McGagh’s outstretched right hand. It read “Drink”. On McGagh’s left hand, the hand he preferred to punch with, he had another tattoo which read “Feck”. Coloroso passed the flask to Vinny on his left and then the others duly took a drink, the warmth of the spirit spreading across their chests. When the flask arrived back to McGagh, he took another deep drink and then stared into the flames, deep in memory.

‘Four years ago, just out of the academy myself, I was stationed on Mars. There had been grumblings from the Martian government for years. They didn’t like being ruled from Earth and wanted independence from the United Worlds. Our platoon was guarding the local United Worlds headquarters in the capital city of Belatu-Cadros.’

Shit…’ whispered Stofan. She knew what was coming. Every veteran in the navy knew about Belatu-Cadros. Vinny and Coloroso were probably too young to have heard the real story yet. Sure, they would have seen is on the news, but the media held back the details. They were looking on intently, their eyes shining in the dancing firelight with the innocence of youth.

‘Mars was still dusty then,’ continued McGagh. ‘The atmosphere processing was only half done. The magnetic pole shield had just been activated but the water hadn’t been released from the ice-caps yet. It was a hot, dry, hard-baked planet. Breathing was like being at high altitude, low oxygen. We still had to use breathing masks when the grit storms came down from the slopes of Olympus-Mons. It felt a little like hell. The only good thing about being stationed there was that the low gravity made moving around a little easier.’

McGagh stared off into the distance before taking another swig of whiskey and then grimacing, baring his teeth and making a sucking sound through them.

‘There had been demonstrations, banner waving and shouting mostly, a bit of pushing and shoving, nothing too violent; nothing that we couldn’t handle. I was on morning watch with ten other troopers at the front gate, all young lads. I’ll always remember those faces… good lads, good blokes. A young girl came up to the front gate. It wasn’t unusual for the local kids to sell stuff to the troopers, fags, booze, chocolate; anything that was rationed on the base. I remember the lads used to call her “Buttercup”, ‘cause of the flowery dresses that she used to wear. A guy called… Fred Townsend, strolled up to her and asked her what she wanted. I was standing just inside the guard hut. I could see her face clearly. She couldn’t have been more than fourteen…’

McGagh gulped. His mouth had suddenly become very dry.

‘She smiled, such a sweet little thing. I’ll always remember the look in her eyes…’

Stofan placed a reassuring hand onto McGagh’s arm. The big Irish man, tattooed, afraid of nothing and full of bravado, was actually shaking at the recollection.

‘She said something quietly in Townsend’s ear and his face just went… terrified, white like a sheet. He started running, but it was too late. This little girl, she raised her arm in the air and pressed the trigger that she had hidden in her hand.’

There was absolute silence around the fire. The flames whipped down for a moment in a gust of wind as if leaning in closer to hear the story.

‘I saw Townsend for a split second before I blacked out as the blast hit me. He was literally splashed across the ground by the force of the explosion. It even melted his dog tags and his fillings. When I came to, there was a pitched battle going on in the streets. We never found out where the Insurgents had got the weapons from, or the explosives. Suicide bombers hit several United Worlds buildings in a coordinated attack. Fifty troopers were killed in the first ten minutes. Then their armed forces moved in while we were still picking up our wounded.’

Vinny and Coloroso were standing with their mouths hanging agape. Stofan dropped her eyes to the ground. McGagh looked back up from the fire and stared straight into Vinny’s eyes.

‘That was the day that the war against the Insurgents really started. That day I learned one thing Vinny. Never trust anyone, not even a child. The Insurgents have no honour, they fight dirty. That’s why I did what I did to that crowd of civilians, why I’ve never been promoted, why nobody trusts me. I’m not proud of it, but any one of them could have been a suicide bomber. I couldn’t take the chance. I’ve paid for that every night since, when I close my eyes and see their screaming faces.’ McGagh paused and took another long drink of whiskey. ‘There’ll be no peace until every Insurgent sympathiser is buried in the fucking ground!’

There was another long silence. Stofan was about to speak when the silence was disturbed by a rhythmic banging that began on the ten foot high wire mesh gate that led into the compound. Vinny leapt towards the guard hut and hit a switch that turned on the overhead spotlights, illuminating the fenced off compound grounds. Stofan, McGagh and Coloroso, legged it over to the gate to see what the noise was.

The three troopers stopped still, their mouths agape. Standing outside the gates was a young trooper. His helmet was missing, as was the rest of his uniform. He was completely naked and his body was covered from head to toe with cuts and scratches. His face was blank, staring, void of emotion. A strange glow seemed to be coming from deep within his wildly staring eyes. He was hammering ceaselessly on the gate with his left fist.

Pound!

Pound!

Pound!

As the shaken troopers looked on, the most disturbing thing about the completely naked young man, was that he was covered, head to toe, in bright, scarlet, blood. Lumps of flesh and brain matter dripped from his skin. When he bared his teeth as the torchlight hit his face, there was human flesh and hair stuck between his crimson stained, snarling teeth…

Available in Amazon: Josiah Trenchard Part One “The Might of Fortitude”

http://www.amazon.com/Josiah-Trenchard-Might-Fortitude-ebook/dp/B009PK84WW/

 and Josiah Trenchard Part Two “Morgenstern”

http://www.amazon.com/Josiah-Trenchard-Part-Morgenstern-ebook/dp/B00AGZE6AO/

Part Three “Berzerkergang” is coming soon!

Jonathon Fletcher can be contacted on Twitter – @JonGardener and on YouTube – Evilgenius1972.

Honour, strength and unity!

Thank you to Jon for sharing with us (and I hope you’ll all download his books). And hopefully he’ll come to visit us soon with updates and tales. And next week…There will be more!

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Cage Dunn: Writer, Author, Teller-of-tall-tales

Manic, obsessed, driven to story - all story. Read, write, think, do; dabble, plan, play, do. Do more - More - MORE!

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