quick stories

The greatest cure, only cure, for tyranny, is death

Bezo Scent was entering his 800’th year.

What he has seen. The power he accumulated. The wealth. He was right to start that xompany so long ago, to start colonising other planets.

Earth was simply not big enough for him. The ability to declare his state “sovereign” under a flag of convenience certainly helped.

Making the spaceships also helped. It’s not like anyone was able to get a “peacekeeping” force into space without his say so.

Space was the wild west, he was the sheriff, mayor and outlaw rolled into one, and he was dammed if he was going to let death get in his way. Life was not enough however, sex was not enough. He needed power and he needed to wield it over someone else. He needed a nemesis.

Sitting here on Silicon Docks

Sitting here at the docks. In a fancy Café in a fancy hotel.
Taxi driver tole us when he was young, they were tole not to go past O’Connell Street. Bullshit of course, yewd have to be able to go as far as Busaras.
“The Gardaí have been notified” the PA system used to announce, admonishing us to be beware of pickpockets.

The hippy lookin fella who looks like he has moved in on one of the benches give you a bag of mushrooms.

Docks now are a bit different. I remember U2 complaining that their recording studio was going to be torn down. Poor things, I hope they got over it.

I’m perched on a bar in a fancy café looking at the Luas going by. There are old terraced houses rammed up against glass shelled hotels.

I’m a nerd, so I want to see the sights. This has to be planned. I needed a disguise. I packed up my laptop backpack with it’s small unobtrusive logo on the back. Multinational logo. A fucking Nerd magnet. I generally just have it packed with baby wipes, nappies, the kids water bottles, but no… Not this time, this time I put a laptop in the laptop bag!

Stop number one on my sight seeing tour was the VEEAM launchpad conference. In my hotel I got to see the schedule. Wow, they got an awards ceremony and everything! In the National Conference Center and everything.

This looks very fancy to bogger boy here from the shticks.

There seems to be two types of people in the area. A load of people dressed all fancy, business causal like (grey, black, long coats and slacks). And a load of people working, builders and stuff. Unfortunately, I am dressed as neither.

I’m there with a bloody orange hoodie and long hair. I misjudged this. I was sticking out like a sore thumb. I threw caution to the wind, and headed across the river cause I wanted to see some more sights.

Crossing the big bridge with what looks like a TV screen stuck to the side of it, a loud South African fella (to judge by the accent) shouts behind me “Happy to be at (name of logo on my bag)”. I do hope this impressed his colleagues. Yes, my disguise was working, but fuck it, these weren’t the wildlife I wanted to see. I wanted Nerds in hoodies, not these business causals!

Bridge crossed, planning to get to nerd headquarters “google”, I see a pub. It looks old, like when the docks were actually docks. I can see a bunch of guys in there, with their long black coats, having a pint for lunch.

I worked a small while in London. In London, the sales guys, the account managers, the project leads, they all wear these long black coats. They work too long, go for pints after work in a suitably “traditional” looking pub, and get hammered. And talk. Talk shite. And here I am and I can see them, and it’s on the Docks in Dublin! How things change.

I continued to walk down the freezing street, towards the Google building. It was one of those winter days with blasting sunshine but fucking freezing. My back was sweating from the dam laptop bag, and my hands were about to fall off from the cold. Aggressive weather I would classify this as.

Then I realised. All the nerds will probably just be working from home. All the hoodie wearers could well be getting forced to “enter the docklands”, maybe once a week. Some see their future, knowing full well that some day soon, they too will be in “business causal”. Some will question why they are even working for this crowd.

That’s why the South African guy shouted at me, he recognised me, he knew who I was, and that I didn’t belong here.

For now.

Coming of age, 2484 - Series stories

Coming of age, 2484 (9)

If you want to read from the start -> Coming of age, 2484

The heavy grunting in the toilet cubicle next door is very distracting.

Alone in the known universe, Dervlah’s home, the moon, still had single sex toilets. So unique were these, they featured prominently (just under the ad for cheese) on the “Welcome to the Mooooon” brochure (a mandatory training item for all tourists). People travelled far and wide to gaze perplexedly at these gendered restrooms from a time long past, some even brave enough to use them!

The grunting continues. How the hell could anyone focus? The grunting is getting louder. Dervlah is attempting to “find her centre”, sketching drunk kittens, taking a well earned break from Punice’s penetrating questions.

Ah for fuck sake, is someone slaughtering a pig next door? Dervlah turns up the music in her ear pods to try and drown it out, but the cubicle’s walls start to shake. There is a small yellow post-it note just above the toilet roll, stuck to the wall. The bottom of it is flapping in time with the shaking.

She enjoys using a real pencil and paper. But my God, the lines are getting more and more shaky.

Dervlah stands up, opens her door, turns smartly and boots open the now visibly vibrating neighbouring door. “What the fuck are you….” Inside, a goat fucks a pig. At least, that’s what it looks like. The goat has the pig bent over. Are these people dressed up as a goat and a pig? She’s not quite sure, and doesn’t actually want to find out.

Devlah’s pants are still around her knees. Now is a good time to hike them up. Wash hands. Exit to bar swiftly. Need another drink. Fucking sure that goat winked at her.

“So Boss, you come up with a plan?” Punice queries as Dervlah returns to her stool. She looks at them for a while. Take a long pull from her beer. Opens mouth to speak. Thinks better of it. Another pull of beer. “Nope. I was a bit distracted there. de’was a goat fucking a pig.”

“Ahhh, Mars” Punice sighs wistfully. “I’m sure I saw something about this in the “Welcome to Maaaars” brochure…. “I’ll be right back”. Heads to the toilet.

‘Judas Goat’ were actually a pretty good band, Dervlah admits, a few hours, and a few more drinks later. Although, there is something about those slit pupils of the Goat. They seemed to follow her around the bar. Seemed to follow her into the toilet. But the Pig drummer, he was fucking great, no denying that.

To be continued…

Coming of age, 2484 - Series stories

Coming of age, 2484 (8)

If you want to read from the start -> Coming of age, 2484

Dervlah kicks the exit doors open of the casino, catching the doorman a nasty blow to the shin. Striding down the big, town hall looking steps, Punice scampers behind her like a scared puppy.

“Just keep walking” sidles out the corner of her mouth. The Wile E Coyote theory of dealing with shit; If you don’t look down, you won’t fall.

Inside her head panic roars, but she must keep that stuffed in there. ‘Shhh quiet now my panicky mind’. Outside Dervlah’s head; she strides powerfully into a small alleyway just off to the left. She then starts running. Punice also starts running, they not having a fucking iota what is happening.

Into quiet looking pub called Shambo’s. Quickly two more drinks to keep the buzz. Dervlah looks at Punice’s creased and concerned face. Punice looks back. Giggles erupt from the pair of them like drunken kittens.

Some drinks later, “So you’re a messenger? Well, I was not expecting that.” Dervlah doesn’t look up at them. She has her notebook out and is writing. She is writing to think, to calm and centre (It is a doodle of a kitten drinking). Punice seems, for once, to notice she needs a moment, and just waits. Finally, her words creep out; “Well, I’m a messenger now, I suppose. That was my first job. So yes, that makes me…A messenger”

Punice’s drink drains down their throat, their eye’s soften; “Shit Dervlah, you, you’re like an angel, sent from God to deliver tidings”. Dervlah, now thoroughly hammered, leans back, head bent against the dark wood panel behind the bench seat. Eyes half closed. “Yea, I guess I fucking am.”

Punice musters “What’s next then Angel Dervalhalla?”

“Next emm…”, squints at phone, kinda closes one eye to stop it moving so much “next is we are making a delivery to someone called…” “Yes, oh holy one?” “Well, we are going to see someone called… Rodger Ruby Cock”

Continued in part 9: Coming of age, 2484 (9).

Coming of age, 2484 - Series stories

Coming of age, 2484 (7)

If you want to read from the start -> Coming of age, 2484

Breath lost as they look up to the gigantic Olympus Mons looking chandelier hanging over the casino floor.

The place is buzzing. The life of the casino condensing out of the air into droplets of pure, nervous excitement. Punice decries “Now this, my young padawan is where we can get proper fucked up”. Dervlah elbowing Punice hard in the ribs, “seriously, stop calling me stupid names, I’ll beat you.” Punice looking down his nostrils at her. Dervlah sticks a finger up each of these nostrils, hard. “And we are proper fucked up already, now shtap your squealing, ya fuckin padawan yourself”.

The man walking directly towards them has a meaningful look in his step. Dervlah reaches out her left arm to grab a drink from a passing tray. Punice reaches their hand to the right. Both sip. Nonchalance personified.

“Yezers are late, boss man don’t like to be kept waiting”. Both, in beautiful, slightly alcoholic rainbows, spray their drinks all over this meaningful bouncer.

Brought to a dark office (detour to bar for meaningful bouncer to get some paper roll). Whispers of the crowd below leaking through the window. “Have you brought it?” Says the sweaty mess wearing a name-tag “Himon Garfield”.

Not to be outdone, Dervlah leans forwards, both hands on table “yes we fucking have, have you, ya cuntcha?”. Himon, rich fucker he is, taken slightly aback-“brought what?”.

Dervlah rotates to Punice, “I thought so, fu–cking amateur hour here.” To Himon: “You dumb cunt, there is nothing, you don’t even know what your asking, now what the fuck do you want?”.

Himon is so taken aback his face is about to exit the back of his head. Punice, already a few drinks in, pukes onto the still wet meaningful bouncer standing at his side. Dervlah snorts with laughter, pulling an envelope like a weapon from inside her jacket, and fucks it hard at Himon’s face. In fairness, it’s an envelope, so it just kinda flops onto the table, but Derblah is still rather please with herself.

Propping up the casino bar, some minutes later, a pale Punice is Silent. With a capital S. Dervlah sighs “There’s no way I could afford to get off the moon without taking a few, ahem, part time jobs. Just a few deliveries is all”. Punice’s look says it all; they thought they were going to be the hero of this story. But they are not. They may have been a prick to her in school, but Dervlah has changed. She looks like she is about to fuck this whole galaxy, right up the hole.

Continued in Coming of age, 2484 (8)

Coming of age, 2484 - Series stories

Coming of age, 2484 (6)

If you want to read from the beginning, part 1 is here: Coming of age, 2484

‘Ok, thanks for that, I was feeling a bit dry there for a moment’ Punice sneers.

Punice takes a drink themselves. Dervlah decides retribution is in order; ‘Fuck it why not, let’s do it together’. It’s Punice’s turn to snort juice out their nose, showering Dervlah in, now warm, fluids.

They stand, facing each-other, breathing hard, both slightly moist. A tension between them, magnetic. Eye contact maintained. Did Dervlah raise an eyebrow? Was there a tremble of Punic’s lips? The moment passes. ‘Right then, together!’

Due to the nature of the strong atomic force engines, and the absurd levels of acceleration, their ships can’t actually fly while connected together. The AIs would pilot both carts within millimeters of eachother all the way up to .99c, but even with the ability to be so aligned, they can’t be physically connected. Dervlah sighs at the thought, she certainly knows the feeling.

With Punice grabbing their stuff from the other cart (Dervlah’s ‘Cart named Kit’ was roomier), she had a moment to breath. ‘So here I am, trying to get away from my old life, and the one fucker who I would have stayed for, has decided to join me.’ She may have left the moon, but it appears, the moon has not left her.

‘OK cartmate (‘Don’t call me that’) why are we going to Mars?’. Dervlah was sure she could hear a touch of desperation in Punic’s voice. She takes a deep breath, turns to Punice; ‘Well, I was just gonna find the first bar I can find, and get, ya know, fucked up. I’ve never gotten properly wasted before, like in the movies. I just wanna get, well, proper fuckin pissed’… she awaits judgement. The new Dervlah is through with being a good girl, through lying her way through life to make sure people have the right reactions. Punice slowly turns away, looks out the front window, and deflates with a sigh; ‘Well thank fuck you brought me, first bar indeed. My girl (‘Don’t call me that’), to get properly fucked up, you must go somewhere properly fucking classy. I know this…. I saw it in a movie’.

Continued here… Coming of age, 2484 (7).

Coming of age, 2484 - Series stories

Coming of age, 2484 (5)

(Part 1 is here -> Coming of age, 2484 )

‘Oh my God, I’m clenching again’. The power of the cart named Kit’s engine is extraordinary. Dervlah imagines the fabric of reality torn asunder not 15 meters behind her. Matter ripped apart just to move her, away from Punice.

Well worth it.

‘My first time on a flight deck, but I’ve spent hours studying at how to fly this thing on Uni-tubes. Not, a, bother. Now this is how someone makes a clean getaway’.

Radio beeps, ‘erm, it’s not Dervlah by any chance? Look, I heard you were heading off on an adventure, but, ah, I too have a cart with an engine, you can’t exactly outrun me’.

The lump in Dervlah’s throat takes some swallowin’; ‘Punice… what the fuck like?’.

‘Can we talk?’ They say. Dervlah is surprised. Politeness was a new one. While in Uni-T, generally it was just abusiveness and general assholyness.

Dervlah, clicking the transmit button; ‘OK?’

Not 30 seconds later there was a knock on the door. A knock. On the door. In space. What’s the appropriate response here? ‘Cooeeeeeee, come on in, I’ve got the kettle on’ doesn’t seem quite appropriate.

‘Punice, you fucking prick, what do you want?’. Yep, that feels better.

‘Oh hi Derbl.. I mean Dervlah’. Dervlah’s eyes roll enough to see out her own ears. They continue; ‘I heard you were heading out, leaving home behind?’ Stoney stare responds. ‘I think it’s really cool ya know’. Stoney stare continues but adds a square drink from the juice machine. Stoney stares are surprisingly thirsty work. Punice eyes the drink, waiting for the offer. Oh they can wait.

‘Oh fuck sake Derv, do I have to spell it out? Can I come with you or what?’

Juice erupts from mouth (and nose) and proceeds to spray over Punices’ face, torso, and wonderfully styled hair.

That, was not expected.

Continued here: Coming of age, 2484 (6)

Coming of age, 2484 - Series stories

Coming of age, 2484 (4)

Part 1 of this series is -> Coming of age, 2484

Dervlah’s heart beats and beats. ‘Punice Milord, what the fuck are they doing here?’ Dervlah’s future, stretched like a rubber band out in front, starts to shrink. The universe seconds before, unimaginably vast, is now the distance between two ships. The universe shrinks.

But, she has already started this journey. She has momentum. This fucker can’t stop her.

Momentum = mass x speed. Finger tip pushes throttle forwards to the stops. An iron ion is fired into the ignition chamber. Superconducting coils dump terawatts of energy in the shielded tunnel. From the iron atoms’ perspective, the universe shrinks.

‘I am iron’.

Such extreme force pulls at the atom, the distances between the protons, neutrons, quarks and haydrons start to widen. The force applied so quickly that momentum prevents the iron ion’s movement, but the generated energy field has the local force of a magnetar.

For the iron atom, space has contracted, to the outside observer (the cart called Kit) the atom has stretched over a kilometer out the back. To the atom however, the universe had shrunk to the point where the strong nuclear force dominates all others. And this force does not want anything spread out over a kilometer.

A rubber band the length of the galaxy. To the engine, about to transfer this potential energy to kenetic. To Dervlah, an irresistible force dragging her away from her home, her life. Away from fucking Punice.

While the electromagnetic energy was the equivalent of pulling the trigger, at two orders of magnitude more, the strong nuclear force was the gunpowder blowing out the bullet. In this case the bullet was a former iron atom, and the recoil was the cart named Kit, accelerated to .33c, or a third the speed of light.

Dervlah hoped it was fast enough.

Continued in part 5 Coming of age, 2484 (5)

Coming of age, 2484 - Series stories

Coming of age, 2484 (3)

Part 1 is here: Coming of age, 2484

Dervlah sits in silence. For the first time in her life, all she could hear was the sound of her own body. Nothing else. In Space, silence means death. With none of that fancy machinery around to keep her alive, Death comes stalking.

The cart named Kit wasn’t really dead, but everything that moved within it was. Kit had an enormous amount of energy wound tightly around the conduction coil in the back. But that energy was silent.

‘If I take no action, Death will come. But how is that different to living?’

Dervlah realises her eyes are closed only when everything turns orange red. Slightly flashing as though someone was shining a light at her. She opens her eyes, wipes away the gathered tears, to see someone shining a light at her. From another cart. In space.

With every thing shut down, the light begins to blink. ‘I think it’s morse!’

    'A': '.-', 'B': '-...', 'C': '-.-.', 'D': '-..', 'E': '.',
    'F': '..-.', 'G': '--.', 'H': '....', 'I': '..', 'J': '.---',
    'K': '-.-', 'L': '.-..', 'M': '--', 'N': '-.', 'O': '---',
    'P': '.--.', 'Q': '--.-', 'R': '.-.', 'S': '...', 'T': '-',
    'U': '..-', 'V': '...-', 'W': '.--', 'X': '-..-', 'Y': '-.--',
    'Z': '--..',
    '0': '-----', '1': '.----', '2': '..---', '3': '...--',
    '4': '....-', '5': '.....', '6': '-....', '7': '--...',
    '8': '---..', '9': '----.',
    ' ': '/'

inverted_dict = {v: k for k, v in MORSE_CODE_DICT.items()}
text = ''
for code in morse_code.split(' '):
    if code in inverted_dict:
        text += inverted_dict[code]
        text += code

‘R U OK’. ‘Am I ok? Well I’m not sure. No I’m not ok. Why are you shining a light on me. Is the vastness of Space, the great beyond not enough to get a bit of, well a bit of space?’ Apparently not.

Fingers start pushing in the circuit breakers, one by one. A quarter the way in, the alarms start their clamour. Three quarters of the way through, they cease, but the noise. The whoosh of the air filter is back. The tics and buzz of electronics and heaters are back. The sound of life is back.

The click of the radio is back. ‘Cart named Kit, cute. Eh, cart named Kit, this is Punice, do you hear me?’

‘Punice? What the hell is he doing here? I better respond. Hmmmm. Oh yes’:

‘Fuck you, Punice Milord.’

Continued in Coming of age, 2484 (4)

Coming of age, 2484 - Series stories

Coming of age, 2484 (2)

Part 1 > Coming of age, 2484

Pop. Well no pop, but there should have been a pop. Black tunnel and pop, the whole universe. Is this what the big bang felt like?

Although not reccomended, Dervlah knows what has to come next.

Her hand drops to her right, fingers feeling for the small, roughened plastic rocker. Finger tip pushes back.

The whole chair gives a slight jar and slowly moves back, with a hum of gears and electricity. Dervlah has dreamed about this moment ever since she can remember. Her eyes stay fixed and the jewelled universe unfolding outside her cart’s canopy. ‘There, that’s enough’. Her right hand now has access to the small fusebox panel set close to the floor.

Dervlah’s heart races, her head races, but her hand is steady, it knows what to do. The panel falls open (bottom hinged for easy access), revealing row upon row of small, round, circuit breakers.

How she has dreamed of this. Barely breathing now, her fingers grip the first breaker, and pull.

Tiny pop. Warning light. Second breaker, pull, pop, new warning light. Repeat. About half way through now. The alarms start their clamour. About three quarters through now, the Alarms stop their clamour.

The last pop. Dervlah exhales. Tears begin to swell on her eyes. It doesn’t matter. The light of the cosmos distorted through tears on wet eyes with no gravity to wick them away. It doesn’t matter. The panels are all dark now, and the controls are dead. It’s not about her eyes now.

She was born on the moon. Her whole 24 years were on the moon. Air cleaned by filters and pumps and shifted in a never ending cycle. People crowded the few percent of the suface capable of holding human life. Constant fucking noise.

For the first time in her life, she had it.


Part 3 > Coming of age, 2484 (3)