Thursday, October 31, 2013

Today’s Snippet From Chapter 13 of Cosmogonic Marbles

Today’s Snippet From Chapter 13 of Cosmogonic Marbles
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            Everything changed.  And when I say everything … I mean EVERYTHING.  The weather became warm and sunny and in an instant became every kind of weather imaginable, some that Philip could never have imagined (even if he sat down for the rest of his life and thought solely about weather).  The environment changed, altering from a familiar Soho back street to some alien hive city made entirely of the sounds of echoing screams rendered solid, and everything possible in-between.
Philip felt himself change; for a moment he became Uncle Bulgaria, he understood the nature of the universe, he comprehended the subtleties of the thin strands of reality that held it together and by which life clung to existence, he conceived the truth that time itself was an illusion.  At the same moment he was Doris, he knew what it was to be an essence without shape or sex or species.  Also at the same instant he saw his life, not just a flash, but relived before his eyes, every moment like a year but equally like a micro-second.
“I really should have been a better brother to James,” he said.  But his words were lost in the shock of what stood before him now in place of the little snowman and Christmas tree.

            It was beyond immense, it was as if he were standing in front of a giant supernova, it didn’t just take up the skyline.  It was the sky.  It was flat like a mirror, yet under its surface ripples formed and spread outwards at impossible angles, rebounding off one another and sinking into their point of origin.
“Oh …. my …” said Philip slowly.
“Yes,” said Uncle Bulgaria, “it’s always had that effect on me, no matter how many times I’ve seen it.  Are you going to be alright Philip Philips?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think I’m really ready to be a saviour of the world.  If it’s ok with you I think I’ll give it a miss.”
As Philip began to back away, his eyes firmly fixed on the wonder of the Orphen Gate, he bumped into something behind him.  There was the sinking feeling again, joining in, for fun he presumed, with all the other shock-overload emotions.  His left hand reached behind and felt the rubbery skin of some horrid beast pulsating behind him.
“Is that you Doris?” he cried.
“I was afraid so.”
“You see,” said Uncle Bulgaria, “this is a matter of destiny, and sacrifice.”
“I don’t even have to ask, it’s my sacrifice isn’t it!” Philip was now actually crying.
“And your destiny,” replied Uncle Bulgaria, “but, if you choose at this point not to co-operate …”
“Yes Doris. She’s not just a pretty face you know,” Uncle Bulgaria had natural sarcasm too.
“Can’t you just wipe my memory or something?” asked Philip.
“Please Mister Philips, don’t go into the realms of science-fiction, this isn’t Star Trek.  If you are not willing to fulfil the purpose the Universe has chosen you for then I’m afraid we must kill you.  To keep the balance you understand, the human race isn’t equipped to know of the existence of such things as this.  That’s why we invented mythology.”
“I see.”
“Do you see Philip?” asked the voice of Doris the monster.
“Believe me, I see. Well, that’s it then, I’m off to an alternate dimension,” began Philip.
“A twin universe,” added Uncle Bulgaria.
“To fight a set of mythical beings.”
“Real Gods and Heroes.”
“To walk through another gate to short-circuit it and end the link-way between these two worlds.”
“It’s not worth wasting the time explaining it again Philip Philips,” said Uncle Bulgaria as he pushed him into and through the mirrored surface.
“We have arranged for someone to meet you at the other side,” were the last words Philip Philips heard in his own Universe.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


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Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Today’s Snippet from Cosmogonic Marbles
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            Professor Hancock’s room had been worked on by the cleaning staff (Madam Marie) but it was more of a tidy mess than clean.  The room was stacked with books and folders, every wall was a shelf and every inch of floor space (bar a thin footpath woven through) was filled with exotic objects and ancient tomes.
James had been in his old Master’s room many times, but somehow now, without Hancock, it seemed alien and uninviting.  He dreaded having to throw out any of the old man’s stuff; it was as if his life was represented here in the form of collectables and scribbles, which, considered James, it really was.

Behind three rusting claymore swords James found a VCR and a small portable television attached by a cable.  A series of inter-connecting plugs and sockets hooked these machines into Botolf’s primordial electrical system.  James pressed the ‘on’ buttons of both machines and sat down on a pile of theses submissions marked 1967 to 1977. 
He sighed loudly. Why couldn’t life be easy? He’d been happy as a researcher, giving the occasional guest lecture, reviewing books by historians no one had ever heard of for academic magazines no one would ever read.  It had all been so undemanding.  But then ‘love’ had changed all that.  Liz wanted him to be ‘all he could be’. It was her idea to come back to Botolf, and it was her who suggested it would be a stepping stone to Oxford or Cambridge, to his own department.  James didn’t want his own department, he didn’t even want his own office; but he found it hard to say no to Liz. She seemed so sure, so confident, that he would be a success.  James guessed it was the American-spirit of success in her, a kind of self-assurance that came from being brought up in a country with lots and lots of nuclear bombs.

            James sighed again. ‘That’s becoming a habit’, he thought, ‘I must try to stop doing it’.  He pushed the unlabelled video into the slot and waited for a few moments as the TV spurted into life.
“Hello James,” said the dead Professor Hancock on the screen.  He was clearly sitting in his room; in fact, James noticed immediately that Professor Hancock was sitting on this very same pile of theses from 1967 to 1977.  James squirmed anxiously. 
“This is spooky isn’t it,” said Hancock, “except of course if you’ve come across this by accident, in which case get out on my room and finish your damn thesis.”  The Professor heartedly laughed.   “Only joking James. By now you’ve had your first lecture in the department of Medieval Thought, Congratulations.”
“Sorry Professor,” said James, a naughty schoolboy flush coming to his checks.

“I always knew you’d be the one to take over my work James.” A melancholy seriousness took over the Professor’s face.
“None of the other students I’ve taught over the last few decades really had the qualities I was looking for in a successor.”
James felt a gust of pride rise up inside himself; he knew he was a dedicated student and a favourite of the old man but ‘best student for decades’ that was something else.
“Now James,” continued the Professor, “I suppose you have many questions; that’s to be expected.  Why don’t you ask them now and I’ll see if I can open up the realities of my work for you to really appreciate.  You see James you’ve only touched on what we do here at Botolf. Your career has really only begun, my young apprentice.”
The Professor leaned back a little and sat there silent with a half grin across his kind face.
“You want me to ask a pre-recorded message … questions?” said James to himself.
“Yes,” said the Professor.
James sat there in stunned silence and then laughed loudly and pointed at the screen.  “You old dog you, one final joke before you go. I bet you even anticipated this and have a witty retort.”
“Not really,” said the Professor on the screen.
“I get it!” said James, “Cold reading, you record a bunch of open-ended comments that could fit almost anything I say, didn’t you once tell me that this was all Nostradamus’ quatrains were, ‘a stoner’s version of cold reading’ you said.”
“Yes indeed,” answer the Video Professor. “But,” he added quickly “this is not an opportunity for me to show my acumen but for you James to ask those questions you are longing to ask.”
“Oh okay,” said James, “I’ll play along.  We’ll see if you anticipated this Professor; why are your history notes full of dragons and wizards and the maddest drivel about fairies and elves I’ve ever seen? Answer that then eh!”
“Not everything I said is mad, James,” said the dead man.
“More cold reading,” whispered James.
“I’m sorry you’ll have to speak up, I didn’t quite catch that. The speaker on this old TV isn’t the best I’m afraid.”
James giggled nervously and reached forward to adjust the knob for the volume control.

            “I wonder Professor if you can answer me a real question. What am I going to do?” James was asking himself more than anything. He knew he loved Liz and he knew he loved his old college, but right now he doubted if he could live with either.
“James,” came the voice of his old mentor, “I’m sorry this heavy burden has been left to you, I really am, but fate has a way of levelling these things up. I hope in time you can forgive me my lapse in training you, and my semi-absence in your indoctrination into our little group.”
“It’s alright Professor, I’ll muddle through,” said James wearily.
“Muddling thought may not be enough. Sometimes our job here at Botolf can be dangerous and can involve great personal sacrifice.”
“How are you doing this?” James asked the TV.
“Oh this isn’t a VCR. I modified the box using, well, you’ll see for yourself soon. It’s a soul containment device,” said the Professor casually.  “I often sat in here on full terms, it really is good for the old sleep you know, adds years to your life,” he added. 
James was now more than a little spooked, whatever the Professor had done to achieve this effect it was working. 
“I think I’ll turn you off for a while Professor, I’m feeling a little light headed,” said James, his hand shaking, reaching out for the off button.
“Before you go James, just two things. I’ve left some equipment for you in my private study. The key is hanging behind the drapes on the last bay window of my bedroom,” said Hancock.
“Thank you,” whispered James.
“You’re welcome.  And the other thing James; if and when you need me, I’ll be here.”


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

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FREE until Friday Side-Angles (poetry) Book here’s a poem from the collection Cityscapes …listen, read, enjoy and kindly share.

Monday, October 21, 2013

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Today's snippet from Cosmogonic Marbles

From Chapter 10

The Postman reached Oakridge Drive by a series of miracles and pure luck more than skilful driving.  The Tiger had fully awoken, torn apart its box as if it were tissue paper and was now in the process of peeling open the back of the van like a sardine can.
“I’ve never lost a parcel in my career,” screamed the Postman, “and I’m not going to lose you!”
The Tiger let out a tremendous roar which startled several people standing at the bus stop at the end of Oakridge Drive.  The post van screeched to a halt outside number 27; the sudden stop propelled the Tiger forward and its huge paw made a sweep past the Postman’s face, close enough so he could feel the breeze of the strike on his skin.

    “Down kitty, down.” This didn’t seem to mollify the beast much but the Postman felt it was worth a try, “Good kitty, you want some milk, ball of string, fresh blood?!”
He leapt from the van and tumbled on the ground in a completely unnecessary TV-Cop fashion, kicked the door of the van shut, which muffled the sound of his parcel’s snarling, and stood up to fix his uniform.  The left arm of his immaculately pressed blue jacket had four slashes from the lapel across the arm to the back.  He winced, lifted up his jacket with his right arm and fully expected to see a river of blood and mangled flesh, but the good old sturdy jacket of the 50’s (which he preferred) had held up.
    The van rocked from side to side on its tortured suspension for a few moments then suddenly settled as the beast inside seemed to calm down a little.  The Postman let out a great sigh, “Promotion, away from 27 and the Postman’s Code, that’s why I’m doing this, just knock on the door, listen to his lies, say ‘I’ve got a packet for you Bastard!’, no without the ‘bastard’, tranquilise the packet. …,” he checked in his pocket for the tranquiliser pistol he had been given at the depot, it was there, “…and then give the lying bastard his tiger.”

    He straightened his tie, pushed back his hair, briefly considered shooting himself in the head with the pistol, but what good would it do?  For once he didn’t mind the squeak of 27’s gate, he opened the bolt and swung the gate in a great fast arc.  It was silent apart from a dull thud when it rebounded from the inside wall.  Of course, he thought, the oil from this morning, if only he’d been thinking straight then, but he was here now, so ‘then’ didn’t matter and if it did it only mattered then and not now and this was now, until later when it will be then. I have to start concentrating, he thought, now.  
“If I empty half the tranquiliser dart on the path now, it might wake up in the hall and kill him,” he muttered to himself and he kicked and trampled his way up the garden path making as much noise as possible.
He rang the non-functioning doorbell (even though he knew it was a non-functioning doorbell), rapped on the door and gave the letterbox a few slams too.  Nothing.  He leaned down and opened the letterbox, not to look in, that would be against the Postman’s Code. Instead, he lowered his lips to it and called out, “Mister Philips, it’s me, your Postman, I have a large package for you, far too large for the slot, you’ll have to come and take possession of it personally.”  He let the post-box lid fall with a loud clap.
Still nothing.  The wildlife of the front garden was making so much noise now that he wouldn’t be able to hear movement inside, perhaps Philips couldn’t hear him.  He gave the door another, harder, louder rap with his fist, so hard it almost constituted an assault on the poor defenceless door.

    The door immediately capitulated and backed away, to be ajar.  Maybe he wasn’t in, thought the Postman, perhaps I could just leave the package here for him. The Code states clearly a package is delivered if it’s left inside the front door, providing the door has been left open.  He poked at the door softly; it swung open without a fuss to reveal the horror of a hallway filled with the useless junk of a man who had failed in every trade and business conceivable. 
The Postman almost swallowed his own Adams apple.  There was a small mountain of unopened mail piled against the outside of the stairwell.  The complete bastard! He thought, the complete unmitigated bastard, he didn’t even read them!  He had to stand in silence for a moment and let the urge to kill shake its way from his head down to his toes and out into the ground. 

    “Right,” stated the Postman, “You’re getting this fucking Tiger, in person, whether you want it or not and I don’t care if you’re at the Queen’s garden party.”