Archives for posts with tag: sci-fiction

Hi all:

Friday again and it’s time to have another guest author. James W McAllister is a writer of a group I’ve joined recently and is an indefatigable worker, always trying to find new ways to promote books, reading and writing, not only his own, but also that of other writers. I was sure you’d like to know more about his work and his books, and I invited him here. And he agreed!

First a little bit about James:

Author James W. McAllister

Author James W. McAllister


My name is James Warren McAllister.  I am a Registered Respiratory Therapist living near Syracuse in Central New York State. Currently I am employed in Healthcare Accreditation. I have extensive experience in both the hospital and the home care aspects of Respiratory Care, including management in both settings.

I have been interested in science fiction since reading the Lensmen Series of books by E. E. “Doc” Smith in Junior High School. TV shows like Star Trek and  Battlestar Galactica, and movies such as Robinson Crusoe on Mars and Star Wars further peaked my interest in the genre.

My first novel, THE BEST LAID PLANS, has been selected as a Runner-Up in the 2013 MARSocial Author of the Year Competition.

If you want to keep informed of all his work and follow James, here are some of his links (and I know well that he will happily post stories and share his progress, so don’t hesitate!):






MARSocial’s Lagrangian SciFi Lounge:

And now, a bit more information about his books:

The Turret: Starclan Foundation

The Turret: Starclan Foundation by James McAllister

The Turret: Starclan Foundation by James McAllister


It has been generations since the Earth survived the alien invasion. Politicians have cast a greedy eye on the funding of unused defenses, eyeing the reallocation of the funds as a way to pave their path to reelection.

Young Jock MacAlister’s life long dream comes true with his assignment to ADS 1437, the last operational Asteroid Defense Station.

The capture of an alien scout vessel changes everything. Jock is thrust into a prominent role in planning Earth’s defense. He must overcome personal tragedy, political corruption, and devastating treachery to build the forces needed to save the Earth.

Along the way, something unexpected takes root, something crucial to Humanity surviving as a greater struggle between good and evil follows Humanity to the stars.


Watch the book trailer:


The Best Laid Plans: the Birth of the Starclan

The Best Laid Plans: The Birth of the Starclan

The Best Laid Plans: The Birth of the Starclan

In two weeks, when the Fleet arrived at Earth, the man known to a quarter of the galaxy simply as “The Admiral” would officially retire. What Admiral MacAlister faced was no where near his plans: Fierce battles in space; Tragic losses of dear friends; Bloody combat with strange aliens; Daring rescues; Failed revenge; Assassination attempts; And, a little romance.

Angus MacAlister finds himself the default leader of what is left of mankind. His actions and reactions to all of this, and the foundations he has placed, fuels the birth of something much larger, and much more important, among the few million surviving humans.


And the book trailer:


The Page: The Year of the Dragons

The Page by James McAllister

The Page by James McAllister

A disillusioned, war-weary hero becomes a reluctant king. His rule is such that he becomes known as the Good King.

While defending his people from one of the incessant attacks from the North, the Good King takes an orphaned child as his page, and raises the boy by the ideals of a more promising time.

Grown into a young knight, the Page sets out to find his overdue king. Along his way he finds a village controlled by a tyrannical sheriff. The secret behind the sheriff’s power is unleashed when Page tries to free the village.


As the knight fights off the dragons, one captures a maiden as revenge. Page pursues, and thus begins or tale.

Heroes grown old try to pass on the Way of a more civilized time. Have they taught the young ones enough?


And here the book trailer:


Thanks so much to you all for reading, to James for visiting us, and if you’ve enjoyed it, remember, please like, share, comment, and of course, CLICK!

Today, Friday, and as promised, I bring you Dan O’Brien and his interview with some of the characters from his Sci-Fiction novel The Path of the Fallen. Not that his characters are happy to just be interviewed, but they turn interviewers too at times….Don’t miss the great characters and don’t forget to click on the links!

And here I leave you with Dan and his characters!


As I sit down at my computer, I am struck by the eerie presence of someone behind me. Leaving behind the blinking cursor, I realize that the cast of my latest novel, The Path of the Fallen, are standing behind me. E’Malkai, sullen and burdened by the weight of the pilgrimage he has undertaken, stands behind the immovable figure of his Umordoc guardian, Elcites. Arms crossed over his chest, his gaze unsettles me despite how much time I have spent in his company whilst writing The Path of the Fallen. Arile, proud hunter of the north, leans against his spear and inspects the wall with a carefree look upon his face. Fe’rein, shrouded in the darkness that complements him so well, seethes with a dark mix of irritation and confidence.

E’Malkai: I heard that you wanted to speak to us.

Me: (clearing my throat) In a manner of speaking, yes.

Fe’rein: (glowering) What do you want? We have business left unfinished.

Me: I am releasing The Path of the Fallen, after nearly a decade hiatus, and wanted to let potential readers know a little more about it. Instead of giving them a dry summary or an adjective-laden exposition, I thought getting to know the characters might be a fun exercise.

Arile: (not making eye contact and looking away with a bored look on his face) What precisely would these potential readers want to know about us? We are an open book (snickers).

Me: Let’s start with something simple: Describe yourself to the readers.

Fe’rein: Darkness. Death. There is little else to know.

E’Malkai: (shifting uncomfortably behind his guardian) I do not know what to say about myself. I thought I knew what I supposed to do with my life, but there was always something missing. When I learned about the history of the Fallen and the journey my father began, I realized that I had to find out more, learn about where I came from.

Elcites: (grunting) I am no more than what is expected of me. I guard E’Malkai. That is all that matters.

Arile: I am the last of my people. We once could hear all the voices of the earth. The world has been broken. I can no longer hear what I once could. My people have been scattered into the winds, but I can still hear their distant voices. They speak of a new age, and of a final war.

Me: That all sounds quite dire. You make it seem like there is only darkness and sadness. Are there no happy moments in your life, memories that give you pause and hope when you consider them?

Elcites: The day I was given my charge, when I first met young E’Malkai, was the greatest and saddest day of my life.

E’Malkai: (looking up at the stoic look on his guardian’s face) I recall playing with my uncle once upon a time. (Pausing) The world changed, and so too did those memories. I cannot seem to look back upon the strained moments of my life and see happiness.

(Fe’rein scoffs and crosses his arms over his chest. He clearly is not going to answer the question.)

Arile: Each day is full of happiness and sadness, joy and terror. I find grace and importance in the simplest of tasks. This day is a gift. We must not look upon it with sorrow.

(I start to speak, but Fe’rein interrupts me, his power crawling over his skin like a swarm of frightening insects.)

Fe’rein: What makes this story any different than any of the other drivel available?

Me: That is a bit strong, isn’t it? I would like to think that my writing offers a fresh perspective on the fantasy and science fiction genre. I always try and include elements of ethics and philosophical assumptions in my novels, and this one is no different. I love to explore the elements of good and evil, as well as the murky gray area that is exposed when decisions and choices and are no longer easy. I think it captures the essence of the monomyth, or the hero’s journey, as well as being a rousing adventure tale that a reader of any age can enjoy.

E’Malkai: How is it doing so far?

Me: It is a bit early in the game to really say much about it. I released it almost a decade ago and it was well received, but it was in desperate need of a strong editing session. Now, I feel like it accurately reflects my growth as a writer and that it has a strong chance of being pretty successful, perhaps my most successful work yet.  Let’s put the focus back on you: What do you want from life?

E’Malkai: I want to set things right…

(Fe’rein stands suddenly. Elcites turns, interceding between the Dark Creator and the youth. Arile moves soundlessly behind the mion.)

Fe’rein: There is nothing to set right. I did what was necessary. They took Summer away from me. They had to pay.

Me: (standing) It seems as though I have struck a nerve. Let’s try something a bit easier, shall we? What’s the most important thing in your life? What do you value most?

Arile: (lowering his weapon) The search for truth, questioning my place in this world. Complacency weakens the mind. I value knowledge, intelligence, and logic.

Fe’rein: (sitting once more with a huff) Solitude. The power to do what I must to keep what I have claimed. Once, I valued family and love, but those times have passed.

Elcites: My charge, my mission.

E’Malkai: My family, the people who depend on and believe in me, even if that faith is misplaced.

Me: Speaking of family, did you turn out the way you expected? The way your parents predicted?

(Elcites maintains his ambivalent stare and Arile inspects something deeper in the darkness of the room.)

Fe’rein: I did not know my mother and father well. I have memories of them, brief glimpses of who they were, moments in time frozen and exaggerated. I used to wonder how they would judge me, but that doesn’t matter to me any longer. I turned out the way I did because of the choices I made. My father could not have known what would fall into my path. His plan for me is irrelevant.

E’Malkai: (looking at his uncle, Fe’rein, with sorrow) I did not know my father, but as I traveled north I learned much about the man he was and who he wanted me to be. My mother was secretive of my past, but I do not blame her. I realize now that she did not want me to die as my father had.

Me: That is quite sad. The path of the fallen began when Seth, your father, was cast from the Fallen and then ends when you return. Were you afraid of traveling north by yourself, E’Malkai? What is your greatest fear?

E’Malkai: Not being able to do what is necessary. Turnabout is fair play: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

Me: A meaningful question indeed. I think I always knew I wanted to be a writer. When I was about six, I designed an entire play for my cousin’s birthday: sets, script, and little figures on Popsicle sticks. As the years went by, I found that the notion of storytelling was very attractive. This pursuit led me to writing my first novel in high school, a space opera that I published in 2002. Since then I have published ten novels and plan on telling stories until someone spreads my ashes over the sea. (Turning to Fe’rein) Fe’rein, what is your greatest regret?

Fe’rein: Beyond being summoned to this ridiculous farce, I would imagine the content of my life was the result of walking down a path to darkness. It was not sudden or abrasive, but instead incremental and engrossing. My greatest regret is taking my brother’s life. It was too late for me by then. I could only see darkness, despair.

Elcites: (clearing his throat) What was your intent with writing The Path of the Fallen? Why did you set us down this path?

Me: I wanted to tell a very particular story: one in which the line between good and evil become blurred and the consequences of a hero’s actions mean much more than defeating the bad guy. I liked the notion of a family saga wrapped up in an epic science fiction/fantasy novel. The hero’s cycle makes for a powerful story and often answers fundamental questions about the human condition. Hopefully, my book is successful to that end. (Taking a step forward and gesturing to Arile) Arile, how do you decide if you can trust someone? Do you test the person somehow? Or are you just generally disposed to trust or not to trust?

Arile: Trust, like respect, is earned. When I first met E’Malkai, it was his naivety and simple manner that let me know that I could trust him. Generally, the test of whether or not a person is trustworthy is created by the environment, selected for by pressures that challenge a person. The idea of being predisposed to trust, or not to trust, is born of not trusting oneself. Have you written many more stories? Are we to carry on, storyteller?

Me: As the book closes, the story does not end. The path has ended, at least metaphorically, but the journey is far from over. Book of Seth returns to the beginning, giving us a glimpse of the life of Seth Armen, as well as Ryan Armen before he was corrupted. The sequel, which takes place after The Path of the Fallen, is called Breath of the Creator and weighs in on what comes next. There are several other novels with transient beings not of your dimension: a supernatural detective solving murders in San Francisco; a young man who discovers what it takes to be responsible as the world falls apart; a love story set in an epic fantasy world. (Spreading my hands wide, acknowledging all of them) This question is for all of you, what is one strong memory that has stuck with you from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

Arile: I will never forget when I returned home from a hunt and found my village decimated, wiped from this earth by Umordoc. I took the long walk into the tundra, to die, but found peace and a new home. The winds have been my companion ever since.

Fe’rein: Your question is foolish, storyteller. My childhood was a lifetime ago. I am no longer that frail boy who walked beside his brother on the tundra.

Elcites: I do not recall my childhood. I was born on Terra and raised in Culouth. My youth was devoted to learning everything I could about human beings and their ways so that I might one day protect E’Malkai.

E’Malkai: Once I had fond memories, but now they all seem like lies meant to obscure my path. Storyteller, do you read other stories? Are you reading anything right now, or have you read anything recently that is worth mentioning?

Me: I have been reading A Dance of Dragons by George R. R. Martin. I have become very invested in that world, though I will admit that the pace of the narrative has slowed dramatically. I find myself undulating between being surprised and intrigued by the story and then suddenly being quite bored.

Elcites: How did we come into being?

Me: I am assuming you are asking me about my writing process. For The Path of the Fallen I wrote it for four months straight, including Book of Seth. Generally, I like to create a living outline that evolves as the characters come to life and begin to guide the narrative. It is dependent on the world I am invested in at any given time.

E’Malkai: Are our names meaningful?

Me: They are not derived from other lore, if that is what you meant. E’Malkai was named as homage to the naming scheme of the tundra people. It really depends on what I am writing. For instance, The Journey has names that are quite significant in terms of their meaning. Otherwise, I like to invent names for a particular world.

Arile: How do you define success as a writer? Have you been successful?

Me: Success is elusive once you define it. It becomes something that you aspire for regardless of the process and the craft. I would like to think that success is writing stories that people in enjoy and connect with, even if it is negatively. I think I have been successful in a very limited way: people have read my books and enjoyed them.

E’Malkai: Do you have words of wisdom about writing that you want to pass on to novelists and writers out there who are starting out?

Me: Write what you love and learn from criticism. The publishing world has changed. I have been writing for nearly a decade and I find that every year there seems to be a new opinion on which way the wind is blowing for fiction. Stay the course and do what you love. If writing novels and telling stories is what you want to do, then do that.

Fe’rein: I have noticed that you ask this ridiculous question of other storytellers: What is your End of the World Playlist? Why do you ask this question?

Me: I like hearing what people think about the notion of an end-of-the-world scenario. Also, I have a zombie novella of the same name and I like having the vibes out there for it. Do you guys have anything specific that you want to say to the readers?

Arile: E’Malkai of the South will do what he must to set the world right. His story will be passed on for generations.

Elcites: The path of the fallen is filled with both adventure and sadness. Follow E’Malkai and be transformed.

Fe’rein: I will have my day, in this life or the next. I am not evil, nor is E’Malkai good. We are merely opposite perspectives. You decide who visited more harm upon the world.

E’Malkai: I would like to think that I have done the right thing, taken the right path. The storyteller will not give away his secrets, but he might give you a glimpse. The greater question is: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers, storyteller?

Me: I am honored for anyone to read my novel. I hope that it will foster and appreciation of reading and the arts that is slowly disappearing among children and adults alike. I love to hear back from readers, so if you would like to get in touch with me, please be sure to check out my links below.

Bio: A psychologist, author, philosopher, freelance editor, and skeptic, Dan O’Brien has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, Deviance of Time, The Portent, The Twins of Devonshire and the Curse of the Widow, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog at

He also works as an editor at Empirical, a national magazine with a strong West Coast vibe. Find out more about the magazine at



Path of the Fallen (US):

Path of the Fallen (UK):


Bitten (US):

End of the World Playlist (US):

Cerulean Dreams (US):

The Journey (US):

The End of the World Playlist (UK):

Bitten (UK):

Cerulean Dreams (UK):

The Journey (UK):



Thank you for reading!

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?


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.


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?


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.




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”

 and Josiah Trenchard Part Two “Morgenstern”

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!

A.J.Lyndon - author

Historical fiction - a gateway to war-torn 17th century England

Critical thinking for Human Community

Critical thinking for Human Community via #PublicDomainInfrastructure: Public Transit, Public Libraries, Public Education, and Public Health Care

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