Friday, 4 November 2011

Machine of Death

Just had a Machine of Death story rejected, so thought I might as well post it up, complete with ruined ending after an overzealous 4 am editing session.

The story, titled "Adventure", is after the jump. I originally wanted to call it "Deception", but that was the title of my submission to the last Machine of Death anthology.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Day 1

Johannes focussed his telescope to better see the newest crater on the Dead Moon. It had appeared two days ago, probably when the Dead Moon was on the far side of the world. It was the third new crater in a month that Johannes had recorded on the southern Mauna Loa mountain, which seemed like too much of a coincidence given that none were appearing elsewhere.

He pulled out his notebook, and began to sketch the new feature. The page that also contained a pen sketch of Leike with somewhat uneven eyes and Maxwell's Equations written over and over again, to help commit them to memory. Once he'd perfected drawing the new craters, he would add them to the 1/1,000,000 scale map of the Dead Moon he had largely completed. His tutor had suggested that Johannes start with making a map of the Dark Moon, but that was so featureless and dull that Johannes didn't see the point of doing it.

Coins tinkled to the ground behind Johannes, a few rolling across the wooden floorboards before coming to a complete stop. He craned his neck to see the large stone that had dislodged them from their once orderly stacks. Artem.

"Oi!" shouted Artem from outside. "You coming out or what?"

Johannes rose halfway out of his chair, to peer at Artem down below from just over his windowsill. Artem had a stupid big grin on his face, as usual.

"Where to?" he asked. If Artem wanted to go and chat up Eleanor again, while Johannes was stuck with Marla, Johannes would stay in, thanks. Marla was incredibly dull, always talking about how Artem loved Eleanor, and wasn't Eleanor pretty so you could see why Artem loved her. Did he think Artem and Eleanor would get married and have babies? Eleanor was much prettier than the other girls in the town, didn't he think?  And so on. Marla was a good looking girl, and nice in a placid dull-eyed kind of way, but she was so obsessed with the need to get someone to compliment her that she was a bore. He didn't understand at all why Marla cared if people thought she was pretty.

"Well, Eleanor said that she and Marla might be helping with the festival preparations..."

"No," said Johannes, sitting back down.

Another stone hit the back wall, this time thudding dully and taking a small chunk out of the wall plaster.

"Okay, okay, what about the glass caves?" came the shout.

Johannes peered over the sill again and faked an air of cool reserve. "I'll be down in a minute."

"Great! And then we can go to the festival preparations afterwards!"

Johannes sighed, an audible, affected sigh for an imaginary audience, and closed up his notebook, after one last look at the distorted Leike on the page. Stuff like that should probably go in a diary or something, he reflected, rather than with his important notes.

He grabbed his jumper from his bed and tied it around his waist. He'd have to be back for dinner, but he took the jumper just in case. It displayed a misshapen rendition of Forebear Albert, a moustachied old man with wild hair and the patron of the scientific arts. At first Johannes had worn it to keep his Nan happy, but over time he had grown to love it. Judicious stretching meant that it still fit him, just about, four years from its inception. He wasn't sure it would survive his growth spurt for much longer.

Back to the glass caves! He couldn't wait!