The Bubble

The bubble slowly rose to the surface carrying all the hopes and aspirations of a planet. It was the first.

The Boy carried his wooden sword proudly. He had walked many miles away from the area of the devastation. The cities lay in ruins. All vestiges of technology were gone. Hulking wrecks that were once mighty, now collosus collections of smashed steel and concrete. Roaming gangs like packs of rats swarmed the land devouring stragglers and lone travellers and yet still the Boy walked proud.

Corpses, mostly human, scattered the land, filling the air with that sweet smell of putrefaction and occasionally the Boy gagged with the stench of it, but still he carried on.

They stood blocking the road. Five men, faces burnt by radiation. Clothes blackened by filth and flame. What weapons they carried were simple but effective. The boy saw a hammer, some form of club or bat, chains, a rake, even the broken remains of a metal chair.

The threat was more a growl than language but the Boy understood. His sword was smooth, curved and carved from white oak from another land. It shone in the evening light from it’s lovingly polished wood.

It’s first kiss was against the temple of the leader. There was a loud crack as the bone shattered but the Boy was in flight now. Spinning away from the falling body he brought the blade down in a cut on a shoulder, the wooden sword breaking rather than cutting the collar bone. A deflection inwards caught the line of the jaw and another dropped.

A roar behind him, caused him to pivot on the loose ground. A large wrench smashing down at his head. Moving subtly the Boy drifted like a wisp of smoke as the metal club crushed the empty air. Two small cuts of his blade almost like magic broke the descending arm at wrist and elbow and the wrench crashed down harmlessly hitting the ground almost simultaneously as the edge of the Boy’s sword ‘cut’ through the throat, crushing the thorax with it’s polished wooden edge.

A detached part of the Boy’s consciousness remembered his Master and the moment he had presenting him with this beautiful blade that had become a part of him. A symbiotic partner that together weaved a life of love, motion and magic.

“Remember my Son, it is a sword. Whether finest folded steel or gift of the forest the man and the blade become one.

The Boy continued on his journey. Behind him the scavengers remained, broken and quiet, and somewhere the bubble arrived at a surface, where it crossed into the emptiness and so, again, it began.

 

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2017

Original artwork by Faramond Frie

Hjalmar Wåhlin – Digital Artist

I met this amazing young artist at Swecon, the national Sci Fi convention in Sweden, earlier this year. He produces the most amazing Science Fiction inspired artwork of landscapes and worlds in space.

Pink Elephant by Hjalmar Wåhlin

My particular favourite, of a man looking out of a huge window in space at an incredible vista of stars and nebulae took my breath away because it was such a powerful echo of Lord Stiletto’s library in my own stories. Spooky.

Supergirl by Hjalmar Wåhlin

With a background in commercial retouching, Hjalmar describes himself as a freelance illustrator and digital artist who loves to create.

Observatorium by Hjalmar Wåhlin

I follow a lot of amazing art work on Twitter. Hjalmar’s work is as good as anything done by the greats of Sci Fi and fantasy art. Majestic, imaginative, beautiful, the works speak for themselves. Check out more of his work at his website by clinking on the link, and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

Check out Hjalmar’s website   www.hjalmarwahlin.com

 

The Student

It was part of her therapy.

Aiasdotter had suffered both psychological and physical torture at the hands of The Hyrm, and although she had been “healed” by Stiletto’s medical technicians there was still the “pain.”

Aiasdotter had been given to “Schripp, and his first act had been both training aid, and bonding technique. He had taken away her vision.

It was only temporary, a blockage of the functioning of the occipital cortex, and she knew that when she earned it, she would get her sight back.

The crack of the shinai against the men grill of the Kendo armour made her head rattle, although in truth it was only a light tap.

“Feel,” ‘Schripp encouraged for the hundredth time. Again, she waited. It wasn’t like being in the dark, there was no light, no vision. All her other senses had become incredibly acute. She could smell ‘Schripp’s sweat in the confines of the room and hear the slow beating of his heart, but the physical senses were not fast enough for what she was trying to do. She had to feel the attack.

Time and again ‘Schripp had told her, “you must feel the intent. Do not think.”

Months had been spent disciplining her mind, that she might learn to lose her thoughts.

There was no noise, no movement, just her own action. The shinai in her hands moved with lightning speed, to be held vertical by her left ear and the crack of the bamboo was deafening.

Her feeling of triumph was short lived as a fraction of a second later the right side of her men was lightly struck, and that patient voice spoke right beside her.

“And again.”

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2014 2018
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For a FREE eBook of Revenge Of The Hrym visit my Book Page
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The Tram

Eight Earth weeks earlier….

The image was burnt onto the surface of Gregory’s retinas. The pink manic eyes of The Rabbit in the window of the Belgian tram.

Stiletto had taken a wrong turn, in more than one sense of the word. Now his car was screaming in reverse between medieval buildings as the looming city tram gained on the startled friends.

The day had begun much better. Here in Ghent, to attend the Science Fiction Convention, Gregory, Stiletto and Lady Bane had arrived in good time and made their presence in the great hall. Comic artist legend, Ian Gibson, a well-respected Master of the genre, and well represented in Lord Stiletto’s fabled library, was unexpectedly at the adjacent table. Stiletto was delighted to meet this unsuspecting mentor, and was fortunate to spend quite a lot of time learning from the old Master. Was this why he miscalculated the shenanigans of The Rabbit? Like an avalanche that starts with a single pebble, the origin of Karma is often lost in the mists of events.

Rubber tyres burnt and howled as Stiletto accelerated the reversing car, horn blaring to clear the Saturday evening crowds. Once over the small bridge he applied his handbrake as the car squealed in a tight arc almost about its front axis and shot backwards in a straight line down the narrow side street.

The tram hammered past, stuck on its tracks. It was the Girl with the red hair, commented Lady Bane. A part of Gregory’s mind had noticed her, driving the tram at the retreating car, but most of his horizon had been filled with the piercing pink eyes of The Rabbit.

Gregory was reasonably sure that vampires didn’t exist, at least in the daytime, so he was quite surprised to meet a Steampunk one. He and Sarah were manning the table whilst Stiletto was off wandering the halls. It was the teeth that were so fascinating. Apparently, she paid thousands for the dental work.

Lady Bane had seen some sights in her life. Stiletto coming through the door in his shirt sleeves and waistcoat, but still wearing his bowler hat and goggles, threw the broken and bloody chair leg into the waste paper basket.

“Goddamn vampires,” he spoke calmly as he took his empty pipe from his pocket and nonchalantly put it between his teeth.

“What, not the one talking to Gregory,” she asked in amusement.

“The very same,” he chuckled, taking the pipe out to speak,

“quite besotted!”

 

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2015 2018

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For a FREE eBook of Revenge Of The Hrym visit my Book Page
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The Pain

In the end it was all down to the slime. The slime extracted from the gall bladder of a very angry space cucumber. It was from this special ingredient that was made a neural pathway that allowed the user to explore the secrets of the universe.

Gregory had been metaphorically bashing his head against the walls of reason, trying to come up with a plan to rescue Aiasdotter, when all along what was required was the ability to slip under the surface.

Lady Sarah looked like she had gone several rounds with a Megafraken pit fighter, and that was before Stiletto’s technicians changed her face. It was she who had volunteered to use the slime to penetrate the dark planet of The Hrym.

Like a corrupted Japanese Daimyo listening to the screams of a boiling Dutch cabin boy, The Hrym was carried away by the music coming from Aiasdotter’s cell. He didn’t have to actually be present, as he was aware of everything. He brought a whole new meaning to the oft’ misunderstood concept of multi-tasking.

The Hrym was a connoisseur, and just as the conductor of the Berlin Symphonia could hear the minutest change in the tone of his lead violinist’s E string, so too, The Hrym felt the minutest of fluctuations in the terror and pain experienced by his erstwhile brilliant and efficient private secretary.

Connected to his neural network, The Hrym connected straight to the cell where Aiasdotter was being kept and tortured.

In the Hrym’s future world the dimensional reality of neural communication and entertainment had come a long way from the 3D cinema and TV back at the beginning of the 21st Century Earth. Now it was like he was in the cell, and had brought his presence with him.

Sat there in the chair was Aiasdotter, and yet The Hrym knew it was not her. His supermarket suit and shiny shoes changed to a red colour as the sensitivity of the neural net picked up the subtle shift that his physical presence would never reveal.

The colour change was a step too far. Haydrift Eaglebeard who had been stood silently in the corner lost momentary control. Using an ancient Tibetan meditation technique, he had been holding himself in a stasis of No Thing whilst the switch between Aiasdotter and Lady Sarah had taken place.

Seven and a half seconds were required and to Sarah strapped to the plastic chair, it seemed like an infinite moment of torment.

Suddenly The Hrym was standing before her, face almost catatonic in its banality, and yet his whole presence burning red like Lucifer on a bad day.

And then, that kindly face stepped from the corner and with a few waves of his hand, the pain was gone.

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar © 2014 2018

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For a FREE eBook of Revenge Of The Hrym visit my Book Page
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The Mistake

Duke Magnus and Lady Susanna’s passion lay at the university at Stockholm, where he, like Stiletto, had a special library. Unfortunately, their particular library, and home, had been destroyed in the parallel universe Earth that had been blown up by The Rabbit. In this universe there would be another Magnus and Susanna in Stockholm.

Being a scholar of ancient Earth languages and sharing Duke Magnus’s passion for books and libraries, Stiletto was going to take Magnus and Susanna, along with Lady Bane, to visit the library in Alexandria. However, top hats and silk dresses would definitely cause a bit of a stir, so Stiletto, an expert in ancient cultures, had made a pre-visit to Rome to purchase togas for the gentlemen, and gowns for the ladies. After all, he had a mentor who liked to buy his suits in Rome.

In future days everyone is fitted with inbuilt neural translators, so the myriad lifeforms of the universe can communicate, so it had been a simple affair for Stiletto to fashion the friends with the ability to speak Latin and Egyptian, although with a Roman accent, as they would be posing as tourists, which of course, they were.

It was true that the Girl with the red hair had also had her planet blown up, but she had shifted effortlessly back into the Sweden of this universe by eliminating her parallel self. In fact, being essentially a good person, although she had chosen to serve The Rabbit, she had arranged for her to have a new life on an Earth colony in the future.

Duke Magnus was sat on a marble bench in the great library in Alexandria reading a scroll of Plato’s Republic, in what was possibly Plato’s own hand. A great scholar of Greek philosophy, he knew the text inside out and this version contained several arguments and explanations of the theory of forms that had never made it to posterity. Sat on the bench beside him, his wife, Lady Susanna, kept on breaking out into howls of laughter as she absorbed one of the funnier plays of Aristophanes.

The Rabbit couldn’t give a fig for the achievements of Greek thought or any other kind of human achievement for that matter. All The Rabbit wanted, was results.

The Girl with the red hair, now fully recovered from being shot at the Fitzwilliam, was struggling to keep up with the events of the last few months. Recruited by The Rabbit, she had witnessed the destruction of the Earth only to return to a carbon copy of her previous existence. The Rabbit was an enigma, but serving him was fun, and it transpired she had a talent for mayhem on a cosmic scale.

Lady Bane had got bored in the Library, and she and Stiletto were exploring the adjacent streets. They passed easily as Romans for Egypt was part of the Empire and Alexandria was full of merchants and military, but for all his wisdom, Stiletto had forgotten about slaves. No noble Roman lady would be out and about without personal attendants easing the way.

Stiletto and Sarah had been marked, but marked as what? The beggar with the scarred face knew they were wrong but didn’t know why. Clearly, they were noble Romans, but unlike any he had ever seen.

Stiletto wasn’t worried. He had seen the beggar in the shadows, and the ragamuffin messenger who raced off, and had correctly assessed the situation. Trading his top hat for a toga had been fun, and its folds hid a treasury of concealed weaponry.

Turning to warn Sarah of the threat, he was astonished to see she was gone. Astonishment changed to incredulity as the arrow hit him from behind, through his right shoulder, and staggering, he fell to the cobbled floor.

The Girl with the red hair watched from the shadows. She had seen Lady Bane taken, and Stiletto shot, and watched as men in rags fought with the badly wounded adventurer. Deciding to act she looped her wire over the head of the first attacker, removing his head with a tug, and drove the point of her blade through the back of the neck of a second. It was all the relief Stiletto required, and he quickly dispatched the other two, blood seeping through his white toga where the arrow shaft stood proud. The adventurer had miscalculated, and where was Sarah?

Copyright by Jhedron Luckspar © 2014 2018
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For a FREE eBook of Revenge Of The Hrym visit my Book Page
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Angels Are Real by Stig Rudeholm

Their Father was dying, they knew that now. Several millennia of hatred and violence in His name, stirred up by false prophets, had been slowly killing Him. As the number of True Believers shrank, so did the Lord’s strength. With a heavy heart, Gabriel approached the bed. “Father…”

The old man shook his head feebly. Tears were running down his face as he spoke, his voice barely more than a whisper. “I tried, Gabriel… I tried…”

“You did, Father. I know you did.” Gabriel leaned down and reverently kissed his Father’s forehead. “Is it time, then?” he asked softly. “Has the time finally come to do what we discussed so long ago?”

—–

A crowd was gathering along the edge of the crater. The heat generated by the impact was immense. But if there was one thing you could always count on with humans, it was that in the fight between curiosity and survival instinct, curiosity always won.

Something stirred among the smoke at the bottom of the pit. It was increasingly obvious that what had until now been believed to be a meteor, was in actual fact something else entirely.

As the smoke cleared, the silhouette of a crouching man appeared. But it was not human. It couldn’t be. It was way too big…

Taller than the tallest man, yet impossibly agile, it moved with superhuman grace as it stood up, taking in the wide-eyed stares of the people around it. The being was at the same time amazingly beautiful and absolutely terrifying to behold. It was surrounded by a glow that you felt rather than saw, raw power radiating from its entire frame. From its back, two large feathered wings unfolded slowly, like the petals of a blooming flower greeting the sun. The people gaped in wonder as the wings stretched, flexed, and then relaxed. Like the wings of an angel.

“Dad, look! It’s an angel!” a small girl said, tugging on her father’s sleeve, pointing.

“Look honey… It’s an… It’s an angel…” the man stammered, dumbfounded. His right arm was going limp. He fought to keep it straight, to keep hold of the phone. Like dozens of others, he had started filming as soon as the “meteor” had hit. But now the phone was getting heavier and heavier in his hand.

He wasn’t aware of what was happening around him, as his gaze was locked on the strange and wonderful creature below, but the rest of the crowd were also feeling it. Eyes and mouths wide open, the people were mesmerized by the unseen force emanating from the being in the centre of the crater.

Some had managed to press “send” before the invisible force had hit them. Within seconds, the net was buzzing.

#angelsarereal #secondcoming #praisethelord

—–

Gabriel stood, flexing his wings. As he looked at the sheep assembled around the rim of the crater, his heart burned with contempt.

The angel strode purposefully towards the crowd, drawing an enormous sword from its sheath. The blade shone with the light of a thousand suns. Spellbound by the spectacle unfolding before them and unable to look away, the people closest to the edge were blinded instantly, their eyes vaporized in their sockets. Where it had been eerily silent just a moment earlier, the air erupted with the panicked screams of men, women, and children. When the killing began, it was a slaughter.

Gabriel screamed. Tears born of equal measures sadness and rage flowed from his eyes. He swung his mighty sword left and right, cutting down swathes of people with every stroke. God’s final words, whispered through His dying breath, echoed in his mind… “Wipe them out… All of them…”

 

Copyright Stig Rudeholm © 2014

 

This version of the story has, with the Author’s permission, been very slightly edited from the Original.

Twitter @grakkam