Shades of Mediocrity

A display of my creative work so far. Poetry, prose and other such gibberish.

Lost Poem - Autumn

I was searching through old boxes, as one does when they’re lonely, bored and should be doing something much more productive, when I found this. I have no real idea when I wrote it, but unlike most of my old poetry that I occasionally come across, I actually found it rather good for my standards. 

What shall I do when summer comes to pass?
The winds return as the days run short
Muddy becomes the mossy grass
Whilst leaves they whither and contort
A golden autumn comes to be
My days dictated by the weather forecast
As told by the BBC

The Tireless Traveller - (short fiction to be continued)

It is my belief that I was once a soldier. Or at least, I came to that assumption upon finding a rifle in the snow a few years back and being unable to identify the emotion which became me. It was a kind of burning numbness that I had never previously experienced. It was as though, represented in that rusty gun barrel growing from the ice, my everything that had been, came back for just a few minutes. For the first time, the usual tranquil solitude was interrupted by a feeling of dread and anger, and I had to turn away to quell the rage awoken within me.

I remember from that moment on, I began to drift eastward through the snow and wind, perhaps in hope of hitting the coast. Often there were breezeless days, when the air around me was so still one could barely believe there was enough oxygen in the lifeless air to sustain any creature. For months on end, I would see nothing but trees and snow. I learned the true meaning of the word ‘snow-blind’. The vastness of the landscape would often leave me bewildered and lost, and whilst I knew that I had no reason to ever feel afraid, the empty plains and the valleys, seemingly void of life would chill me still. 

I never tire. I never sleep. I walk. This is all I can do. My reasoning and emotions are limited and numbed. I can only liken my relative happiness or sadness to the sensation of pushing a deadened finger wrapped in cloth through a curtain hook. I recognise feelings: the warmth of joy and the bitter feeling of misery, but it’s muted, as though I exist within a bubble. Nothing ever feels too real anymore and perhaps that’s because I no longer feel fear, I am never in danger, and the ‘fight or flight’ complex within me has long gone. I drift in a state of nonchalant bliss, never growing weary or cold, and yet I embrace my surroundings with a peculiar dazed enchantment, never too awestruck, never unappreciative.  

I couldn’t tell you where on earth I wander, apart from the fact that I am somewhere on the continent of Russia, and I should hazard a guess somewhere near the north end of the country due to the weather conditions I frequently experience. I know this only from one brief encounter I had many years ago whilst happening upon a rural shanty village. The tiny establishment appeared to be home to no less than thirty people, and the language that I identified from their lips was some sort of gypsy dialect mixed with native Russian. Their homes were made of what looked to be mud shacks created using wooden planks and other hardy parts. Needless to say, the community lived off the land, and appeared to have done a rather good job of keeping alive and healthy throughout the years of their being. They would traverse distances in small carts pulled by large herds of sledge dogs, while also using the dogs to hunt and fetch food for the families. Their way of life was simplistic and wild. The bareness of the land did not phase them, and even in the harsh winters, the elders would simply wrap another animal skin around their frames and head out in search of deer. I observed the village for little less than a week before gliding north east in search of the coast.

It was some time after my encounter with the community that I first saw the ocean, and I knew then that I was facing north towards the pole. The sky was grey and the wind was gusting in gentle caresses as I approached, from a dried and frozen field of gold, a beach of grey slate. Beyond the jagged shoreline lay an frozen sea swathed in broken, cluttering ice. Unable to feel the numbing chill of the wind, I slipped down to the wet slates which lay just beneath the gently lapping waters and I stood, staring with my barely receptive eyes out to sea. I have no sense of touch, but my sight, hearing and sense of smell still exist somewhere in my entity. I took in the cold air and listened to the near silence of the lifeless scene around me. I felt at one with the sea, despite resisting its wetness, despite feeling no chill.

I walked for miles along that slate beach. The weather remained consistently grey and the whitish blue of the ice and snow made my mind ache. The land would change as I advanced; from golden grass to rocks to mud and boulders. Occasionally I saw sea birds flying, calling for their mates who never seemed to answer. The majority of the birds were white with darker heads and ebony legs. They’d land on the beach with a fish in their beaks, squawk a little before throwing back their heads and gulping down their catch in that highly undignified way that most birds feed. I find that most creatures are relatively oblivious to my passing by, and I drifted past each squawking bird without rustling a feather. The only animal I recall reacting to my presence was a wild wolf, who watched me with eyes of omniscient blue as I drifted across his path. I watched his lean, grey face follow my direction and I knew that he saw no fear within me for him, when I came across his territory in the snow. 

The Lighthouse

When asked to write some seasonal fiction for my company’s blog this Halloween, I could hardly contain my excitement. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I was pretty happy, I’d do this for free to be honest. 

The Lighthouse

It had been a sunny afternoon in Torquay on July 15th 1962, and John Rothwell and his young son Christopher had been fishing out at sea. They had caught a tremendous batch of herring and after a hard day’s work they were readying their load to head back to the distant harbour. Maybe it was the warmth of the weather or the intensity of the remaining sun which distracted the pair from the incoming weather, whatever their reasons, neither man nor boy predicted the blackening clouds and the hurricane winds which would soon set upon their miniscule vessel. Before they could gain any advantage on the distance between them and the safety of the harbour, a gale had picked up the waves, and the little boat was soon off-course.


John had always been a keen sailor with an unbeatable sense of direction, but the insurmountable waves, wind and relentless rain removed all sense and skill from the man. John and Christopher battled through the storm long into the night, trying desperately to find their way back to land. Hours passed and by the time the weather began to calm, the little fishing boat was far beyond unknown territories.

The blackness surrounded the father and son and although the wind had died down their terror had not. Soaked, freezing and alone, the pair could only be thankful that their lives had been spared and that their boat had survived the storm, albeit with irreparable damage.


In the darkness of their cabin they lit a lamp and tried to decipher which direction of the inky abyss would lead them back to Torquay. Stepping out into the icy rain, John suddenly noticed a distinctive flash in the distance: the familiar beam of a lighthouse had presently started to scour the sea.


“My boy, we’re saved!” cried John, pointing out to the yellow light across on the horizon. “Quickly! To the far left of it! There’s land!”


The pair mustered all their strength and eased the boat to the safe, sandy shore with the help of the lighthouse beams guiding them carefully from the rocks. Pulling the boat onto the shore and collapsing on the sand, the pair lay exhausted until the light of morning interrupted their damp rest.

Climbing to his feet, John gazed around the beach, the wreck of his boat, and his son sleeping soundly in the sand. Leaving him to rest, he cast his vision upon the lighthouse, standing tall and strong atop of the cliff. 
John began to climb the rocks and shingle, making his way slowly up the headland from the beach below.

Limping with a bruised body along the cliff top he gazed upon the red and white striped building which had saved his life the night before. He reached the red door and knocked heavily, unaware of the early hour. An elderly man met him at the door, gazing upon him with tired eyes and a mug of coffee, quite surprised at the intrusion.


“Oh thank you, my man! You saw us last night, and your light saved me and my boy. We were so lost and thanks to your lighthouse we’re safe and alive. Thank you!” John beamed, stealing the man’s hand to shake it heartily.


“Goodness!” gasped the man, a look of confusion upon his face. “I’m certainly glad to see that a fellow man is indeed alive and well, but you must be mistaken. My wife and I have been away, we returned from Dartmouth but a half hour ago. The lighthouse was empty last night, and its light hasn’t operated in over thirty five years. Surely you are mistaken”


John could only gaze into the man’s truthful eyes whilst the smell of his coffee oozed into his nose, disarming his enthusiasm and sparking a cold sense of intrigue within his being.


“Come in, man, you look a fright. At least get warm and tell us exactly what happened to you last night,” offered the man.


“I shouldn’t, my boy is on the beach, John muttered as he walked away, his mind elsewhere. “The lighthouse hasn’t been used in thirty fi…” He looked back at the man and the lighthouse. “Where am I?”


“This is Guernsey, the west coast to be precise. Take care old boy!”


With this knowledge and the smell of the sea in his hair, John stumbled away to the beach, stopping for one last searching glance at the top of the lighthouse, at those blank panes of glass, at that lifeless great bulb.

Queenstown

In warm air I fondly recall
The softness of the breeze
Blowing winds across the lake
To mountains wise and tall

You chose a stone to skim
I sipped my cup of tea
We took a photo of the scene
To which heaven was akin

Behind the snow of mighty heights
The sun was setting low
We watched the orange clouds
Aglow in crimson lights

The time was dream-like then
And now I am so sure
These moment of perfection
In turn we’ll have again

And with the sky ablaze
We sighed, we stared in awe
Fondly now, in cooler air
I recall our halcyon days

Chapter One

Something that’s been brewing in my mind that I’m finally forcing myself to write. There will be more.

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

Stumbling to the bathroom, Richard could hear the television was on in the next room. Maggie must have been up for a while. Pulling on the tug string light switch, the old man was blinded as the yellow haze filled the little room with a sharp ‘ping’! When his sight returned he assessed the damage of age and stress to his sad face before rubbing his eyes and then proceeded to wash away the night’s sleeplessness from his tired skin. The news was speaking politely about a murder which took place the previous night in some god forbidden suburb of London, how the victim was stabbed four times in the chest, how the assailant ran and how the police are looking for witnesses. Richard grumbled in dismay as he glanced at the television and plodded into the kitchen in search of breakfast. Maggie twiddled her grey hair as she listened to the presenter’s chat digress into something a little cheerier for the morning. She had leant forward to watch a blackbird sitting on the fence. Braiding her locks subconsciously, transfixed on the chirruping twitter of the perching bird, she didn’t notice her husband rush in, tea and cereal bowl in hand. He placed himself abruptly on the sofa opposite, peering at the watch on his right wrist.

 

“Ah’ll be late if ah don’t get a move on. Could’a sworn they said t’ be there by half past.”

 

Disturbed by her husband’s utterance, Maggie cast her attention back to the TV, before her eyes settled on him as he shovelled spoonful after spoonful into his moustache topped mouth.

 

“I completely forgot to mention t’ ya.” she spoke quietly, stroking her hair,

“while you w’re out las’ night, Ron called. Think he were just after a chat. Told him I wasn’t sure when ye’d be back, so give ‘im a ring, won’t you, love?”

 

Swallowing the last mouthful of wholegrain and milk, Richard gave a nod of acknowledgement and stumbled back into the kitchen, gulping back the last swig of tea before retreating back to the bedroom to dress himself. Maggie gave a sigh and tightened the rope of her dressing gown. The weather looked chilly and the white colour of the sky threatened foreseeable snow flurries, just as the weather man predicted. Maggie observed the clouds swirling and the wind caressing the fir trees beyond the garden. The blackbird had gone. 

  

Richard always found that when driving, he’d notice the smallest of details which happened to pass through the view of his car windscreen. Maybe this was not a good thing. ‘You should pay more attention to the road’ he told himself. ‘For every shoe you notice, it’s a moment of your attention not watching the car in front’, he lectured himself as though his own poor mother possessed his mind for a mere second. He noticed the scowl on the face of the dog walker who strode past his car at traffic lights. He noticed the black hat of the boy with the skateboard who whizzed along the pavements with a rucksack on his back. He watched with concern as a car in front leaked petrol from its exhaust pipe and he wondered whether his car was doing the same.

 

The train tracks were about a twenty minute drive from Richard’s house, and upon completion of the project, workers had been told that they’d get six months’ worth of train travel for free. Richard, with his white beard and his tired eyes knew that he was too old for this job. This was handy work for a man of thirty; brutes of blokes who weightlifted maybe, or had bulked up through regular aerobics. Richard hadn’t worked in over a year, and his last job had been a comfortable desk job for National Rail. Snug and cosy behind the glass, Richard was the friendly face that older ladies came to when they were too scared to use the new self-service machines, and the face that mothers with vast broods of meddlesome infants approached for group save tickets. Now with a comfortable retirement far out of reach, he had been forced to take up extra work to supplement the monetary morsels granted by the government every month. He had heard about the station developments through an old friend, and having been a man of strength in his oh-so-distant youth, he felt it was a desperate option he could hardly refuse. 

 

 

Greeting him from his car as he pulled up onto the muddied gravel car park was Steve, who approached wearing a board smile, unwarranted for the job which awaited the two men.

 

“Whahey, I knew ye’d make it. Good old Fluffy Whiskers!” He threw an arm around Richard’s shoulders as he walked him to a shabby outhouse around which men were dotted, chatting to one another and donning protective body gear.

 

“Hmm, Ah think a medium‘ll do ya fine.”

 

Richard stood by the door of the outhouse while Steve marched heavy footed with his large wellington boots into the small room and up to a desk covered in papers and pens and keys here and there. The rain was beginning to gently fall and the cold bit at exposed fingers like hot water scolds the skin.

 

“Jenny?! Jenny!? I’ve got someone ‘ere. A medium’ll do!”

 

Steve glanced eagerly back at Richard before a woman in her forties appeared at the desk from a room at the back. She like the rest of the men, wore an ill-fitted fluorescent jacket and boots. Her dark hair was tied back in a loose pony tail and her make-up was simple and carelessly applied. She may have once been a pretty young woman -Richard fantasised- but the years of light manual labour and a destructive marriage had taken its toll on her appearance.

 

“You remember old Richard Askell from the office, don’ ya? He’s here t’ give us a hand wi’ the track.”

 

“Eyh, enough o’ the ‘old’” protested Richard mockingly.

 

Jenny smiled warmly. “I don’t believe we ever met. Nice to meet you, Richard, welcome to the team. You’ll need a jacket and hat. There are boots and warmer layers for rent if you want any, alright? Just come n’ pay me a visit.”

 

Jenny presented a jacket and a yellow hard hat to Richard, who added them to his casual attire immediately. Bidding Jenny farewell, the two men left the outhouse and proceeded to stroll through the madness which was currently more of a rubble site than any recognisable building ground. Steve pointed to a slight hill on which several men were digging and sweating and cursing. Carts with equipment and mechanical diggers lay inanimate around the site and there was a consistent quiet chatter through the sorrow brought down with the rain.

 

“That up thur be the railway line. I don’t think you’ll be layin’ track all the while, a lot o’ cartin’ and fetchin’ a lot o’ the time, a variety o’ jobs. As long as ya don’t mind getting’ wet, you’ll be fine.”

 

Steve gave Richard a slap on the back before turning around and heading back in the direction of the outhouse, comforting a nasty cough as he fought through the strengthening rain. Richard felt the water soak through his beard and the cold biting at his toes despite two pairs of socks. Looking up at the railway track he saw the eyes of one of the workers: on his hands and knees, filthy, patched with dirt and grime. He threw his tools down for a moment and gazed upwards at the spitting heavens. He was soaked through, and sensing eyes upon him, he looked Richard’s way, communicating a deep sense of compassion and regret, a warning to the old man. ‘What’s an old bugger like me doing here’ he sighed.

 

London

Greying skies
A city’s lies
The people cluster.
Read a book
Swallow the hook
Absorb the culture.

The grime, the poor
The times they saw
Their lives lacklustre.
Abandoned roads
With heavy loads
Walk the buskers.

Literature, art
Consumption starts
With London’s calling.
We read the news
Power misused
Our nation falling. 

An Example of Copywriting in 200 Words - Saving Money on Car Insurance

Getting the best deal on your car insurance is never an easy feat. Insurance is a word that’s not lightly thrown around, we know that we need it, but so often all the numbers and small print can make our heads spin. What we need is someone to gather the facts, tips and tricks and place them conveniently into one reliable resource pot. Before surrendering your money to one persuasive company, it may be wise to first take a ladle-full of advice from the resource pot and bear the following points in mind:

Don’t be tempted to pay your car insurance monthly, while small chunks might seem more affordable, it’ll cost you more in the long run, and you may end up paying around 24% interest at the end of the year. Instead choose an annual option.

Use comparison sites. Yes, their adverts might make you want to tear out your eyes and cram silly putty in your ears, but price comparison sites are honest in what they do and will help to narrow down your options.

Mention security devices. Insurance companies will often lower the price of insurance if you ensure that your vehicle is armed with security. 

Media Sponges

Shades of culture, love stories sublime

litter our shelves, plant roots in our core;

rubber fuel for the disjointed mind.

Hands and heartstrings writhe limply for more

of the toxic placebo, alluring to man.

As lyrics and pictures flash by in the night,

consoling ourselves, we take what we can.

Bathing in synthetic light

and dying to be just as bright.

Breaking the Laws of Science

Breaking the Laws of Science

Chapter 1

It had been a blustery morning in late June and after riding many miles, David stood with his hands in his pockets looking up at the towering laboratory. Purple clouds were congregating directly above and sensing that rain was imminent, David took a deep breath and threw himself against the rusted doors. A few hard shoves and the hinges flew off, releasing a warm smell of mould and dust which greeted his nose. He stepped to his alphabike and lugged its heavy mass inside the building to avoid rain damage. The laboratory at Norwich had little changed since the place was abandoned after a fire had broken out during its last months as a working establishment in 2064.  The floor was dark and ripped up. Damp had taken over the building, the walls were black and the roof had large gaping cracks and gaps where the ceiling had collapsed.  Heaving his alphabike to a safe, dry corner of the ground floor, David heard the growling of thunder from outside and quickly took the paper from inside his coat pocket. Scrawled on the paper in his own hand was a transcript of the message that David had received from a long lost friend the week previously. The hologram message had been distorted and fragmented, but David had distinguished a place and a date to meet amongst the incoherency. John Coleman had been an old school friend, gifted and with an unbridled passion for physics, he had always left David in the academic dust. No matter how separate their paths became as they grew up; John became a particle physicist for the British Organisation for Nuclear Research while David became a solicitor, John would always have time for David, until one day, John Coleman disappeared from the face of the earth. The holomessage that David had received only a week ago had been the first time that he had seen his friend’s face or heard his voice in over six years.

Along with a date and location, David had scribbled down what he thought may be instructions upon arriving at the laboratory. ‘Third floor down,’ he read as the stepped with much trepidation over broken floorboards and proceeded to tread carefully down a staircase descending into darkness. As he approached the third floor, his eyes were met by a dim light which became gradually brighter as he reached the floor level. In a shadowed corner of the room, he caught sight of someone moving.

    “John? Is that you?”

The figure spun round, obscenely large headphones covered both sides of his head. He threw them off and made a sprint towards David.

    “David! Oh my corriclopse brother, you’ve barely aged a day! I knew you’d come! Thank you!” A warm embrace met David and he smiled, reciprocating with utmost glee “Thank you for coming. Excuse this awful place.”

Once relinquished from his friend’s grasp, David realised with surprise that the white lights lit up a laboratory the size of half a football field. Test tubes, papers and an abundance of machines ranging from the tiny to the gigantic comprised the enormous work space.  Behind David’s careful footsteps, John shuffled uncomfortably, fixing his gaze on his friend’s slow movements. He cleared his throat.

    “Well, you’ve got a lot of explaining to do ol’ buddy,” David began. “Maybe you could start with where you’ve been for the past six years? Have you been down here?”

    “I’ve been here for four years in total. I found the place shortly after BONR dismissed me from the project, and I’ve spent around four of the six years working between these walls.” He detected a look of confusion on his friend’s face. “Oh yes, they got rid of me. I understand that they told the press that I volunteered to quit after health problems. They fired me, David. They thought I was mad, and they didn’t like to be challenged.”

John began to move slowly around a desk, its wooden top invisible for scrap paper coverage, notes, scribbles, diagrams and formulaic equations were scrawled over every page. He took a deep breath.

    “When we discovered the Quaxon-Beta proton, my superiors overlooked it as another simple newly found particle, its existence was appreciated, but unimportant: just another harmless component of the Quark-gluon plasma. I, I saw something more in it. I was certain that there was something that we had missed about it, something important. No one would listen to me, I didn’t have the authority to challenge what the majority had decided, so I stayed up all night, most nights, yes without permission, working with the company machines, experimenting. A few things went wrong, I may have broken equipment here and there, but they soon deemed me irrational and unreasonable, threw me out and told me to get help. I tell you, I thought it was a conspiracy. “

John began to rummage through the papers until he found a page with a large amount of equations and mathematics that no ordinary man could begin to comprehend. The numbers were accompanied by a drawing of a cube with wires and satellites and all kinds of paraphernalia attached to it. John eagerly handed the paper to David.

    “John, wh’, what is all this?”

    “David,” he began, his eyes overbearingly large in his pale face, “Time travel is possible. I cracked it.”

Unable to speak and unsure whether to believe, David couldn’t help but stare blankly back.

    “I’ve been in this laboratory for around four years of the six because I have been dipping in and out of the past for an approximate total of two years. David, you have to believe me. I’ve done it, and I can’t tell anyone. I won’t tell anyone. It’s my discovery, I found a way because of my own stubbornness and hard labour and I intend to have some fun with it before I tell any sort of authority.”

David believed. “Y, you’ve found a way to go back in time? From messing around with that particle?” John nodded slowly and grinned.

    “Let me show you the machines.” He walked ahead and motioned with a grin for David to follow him to the far corner of the laboratory where two large boxes, similar to the diagram were stood. “These are my two babies. The Proton-Flux Quaxulators, or the Time Boxes as I like to call them.”

The machines were around seven feet tall and approximately six feet wide. They were made almost entirely from some sort of platinum material, except for a glass hole which David supposed was a kind of window.

    “I based the manual operative system on old science fiction books that I had read and that ancient ‘Back to the Future’ film, did you ever see that?” David shook his head, “never mind. I thought that you and I could perhaps try the machine together, have some fun in the past together. We could go back to our school years and watch ourselves, or we could go back to when our parents met, or anything you want! The possibilities are limitless!”

    “What about the whole chaos theory thing.” David interrupted heavily. “What if we do something to alter the future?”

    “Already considered and remedied, my friend. You see, after I had cracked the basic formulae in order to travel at the right time at the right temperature with the correct combination of protons, I worked out a way to bend body mass and consistency, a process which was easier when also bending the speed of light and time. By bending the transparency of our forms, we emerge in the chosen time zone practically invisible. It’s brilliant. In all the times I’ve gone back, I might have been seen three times. You wanna try it?” John asked, brimming with excitement. 

David hesitated and glanced nervously around the room, “N, now? Do you not want a cup of tea? Reminisce on old times for a few hours before we break the laws of nature?”

     “We can drink people’s hundred year old tea when we get there, and if we find somewhere noisy, no one will hear us reminiscing. Come on chum, on with this body suit.” John threw David a metallic silver jumpsuit, “Just throw it on over your clothes. No need to take off shoes. Oh, and just swallow this pill for me.”

    “What on earth is that for?” David remarked as he stumbled getting his foot into the suit.

    “It enables transparency. I’ll try to ensure that we materialize somewhere that we won’t be seen: it’ll take the massflexer pill a while to fully kick in. In you go, keep your feet on the markers.”

Swallowing the little blue pill, David was reluctantly pushed into the time box and watched with crippling apprehension as John fiddled with a few levers and buttons from the outside of the machine. The inside of the box also displayed buttons of a similar style to the exterior, and now a resonant beeping announced red descending numbers falling from twenty on a black screen ahead. David could only watch, paralysed with fright as John popped his pill and zipped his jumpsuit, flashed an open mouth grin and a thumbs-up before climbing into his own Time Box. When the numbers reached zero, David felt a strange sensation of electricity creeping up his spine and through his limbs, while the beeping had become a high pitched tone. He wasn’t sure whether he had initially shut his eyes deliberately or whether something external had forced him to do so, but a cold breeze licking at his neck demanded that he opened them with a start. He was lying on his side in an unfamiliar field. The smell of straw and dirt forced him to get up and regard his surroundings. He heard a groan to his left and turned to see John, heaving himself up from the ground.

    “Well, another success.” he congratulated himself. “David, my boy, how are you feeling? Nauseous? Don’t worry, I did a little when I first bent the laws of physics.” He raised a finger and held it to the wind. “The year is 1999. If I have set the machines correctly, it should be December 31st and we should be somewhere on outskirts of Cambridge. I thought we could ring in the current Millennia.”

David held his head and observed the onset of night. In the distance, steeples and buildings could be seen and the red sun’s light, reflected from a church’s coloured window was fading behind the greying clouds. He checked his body, he noticed that the jumpsuit that he vaguely remembered putting on was not to be seen, and instead he looked down upon his usual attire.

    “You won’t be able to see the suit.” remarked John, observing his puzzled friend, “It is there, but not as you know it. Well, I believe that the massflexer pill has kicked in. Shall we make our way to town? No one will see us, no one will hear us if we’re careful”

The two invisible time travellers made their way across the field and into the unsuspecting town of Cambridge. They caught up on old times, commented on the fashion as modelled by 20th century youths and chatted about the absolute miracle that they were currently enjoying the use of.

    “You say that you’ve been seen by past people.” David began, “what happened? How did you get away with it?”

    “Well, if you remember, hundreds of years ago, people were under the delusion of religion. In England, Christianity was the most popular religion, and even those who were not religious often believed in the occult.” David nodded in agreement. “Well part of the belief was that dead people could come back in a transparent form called a spectre or a ghost.”

    “Oh!” gasped David, “I remember reading all about this!”

    “When people thought that they saw something that they couldn’t explain, something would trigger in their brains and they would believe that they had seen a dead loved one or a ghost or a poltergeist, a semi-invisible illusion of the eye.” John’s expression darkened. “I must explain, David, that while this is fascinating, I have in fact walked into something far greater than I ever imagined.”

The two men walked unnoticeable through the crowded streets of Cambridge, abundant with people preparing to bring in the New Year. Warm taverns bustled and men swigged bottles of beer down alley ways. The cold air reeked of festivity, and while every pedestrian was wrapped in thick coats and scarves, John and David walked fairly comfortably through the icy weather in shirts and spring wear.

    “When someone first saw me and interpreted my form as a ghost, I realised that it was by playing on the beliefs of the past that I would be able to easily forgive mishaps and visibility. Then it occurred to me that with my recent discovery in mind, there was no real way of distinguishing so called religious spectres of the past from potential time travellers.  Throughout future ages, time travellers just like us might have forever been the materialisations of the illusions that people of the past called ‘ghosts’.”

    “So ultimately,” reasoned David, “even with precautions taken, we have still altered the past in adding to a subgenre of religion.”

    “We have, and while we may cause trouble for a few centuries back, science, as always will prove everything right in the end. I just wish there was some way that I could identify fellow time folk. In my travels, I haven’t yet seen anyone transparent or suspicious looking. Perhaps we will develop time travel further, so that future beings can materialise completely undetectable. I guess I have no choice but to share my findings; the fate of my discovery has been decided in my own hypothesis.”

John sighed and looked up at the city clock. It was five to twelve, and people seemed to storm the streets. The scene had become almost unbearably loud. David scrunched up his face in discomfort at being in the center of the noisy, inebriated masses. John grabbed hold of David’s arm.

    “We depart at two minutes past twelve! Hold your ground and try to appreciate the moment!” John shouted over the murmur of the crowd.

In eternal tradition, as the seconds ticked down, the people of Cambridge counted down in unison. “SIX, FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE, HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Fireworks began to explode over the rooftops of the surrounding buildings and groups of people gathered together to sing songs and hold each other. The streets were filled with a undeniable aura of good cheer and merriment as music played from the open windows, making the cold night feel that little less bitter. John eyed up a large frothy pint of lager which was being passed around a circle of men. 

    “I wouldn’t mind one of those when we get back.” He glanced up at the clock, observing the hands inching closer to two minutes past. “…Which should be right about now, my friend. Are you ready?”

David nodded hesitantly as the people bustled around them. He was certain that if he was to scream, no one would hear him within the madness. David watched as the clock hand reached the top, and again the familiar chill of electricity rushed down his spine. A fade of white met his closing eyes as his limbs began to feel heavier, as though the flesh was expanding in his skin. A mild but sharp pain flew through his body, shooting through the skull momentarily, and when he came to open his eyes, David was met by the dim lights of the laboratory and the buttons fixed on the inside of the Proton-Flux Quaxulators.  Upon stumbling out of the machine, he noticed with a light head that the silver jumpsuit had become visible once again, and he went about removing it, nearly falling in the process. Leaning on the Time Box while holding his head, David suddenly became very aware of the stillness of the laboratory, the absence of noise, the unmoved dust filtering the air. Focussing his vision, he cupped his hands, regarding the dimly lit counterpart machine only to find that his searching eyes were met by no friendly comforting face, no body or limbs coming to life within the space of the box, John was not there. 

Eat Your Heart Out, Molly Bloom

Rich tea biscuits, slippers and marshmallows. I’m thirsty, could do with a cup of tea. Cottages in Cornwall. Onion on the salmon? Really? Oh internships, get back to me please. I’m so rubbish at everything, no one wants me. Stupid A-level results, I hate life, I wonder if people would be begging to have me if I had all A’s? Oh I want to go on holiday! How much are these cottages in Scotland? ARGARGH too much! I’m going to have such an awful summer, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m losing control. I’ve eaten too much today. Why did mum encourage me to eat those profiteroles. Oh bad Kathryn. Too much, you’re supposed to be losing weight. You’re two pounds heavier than you usually are and three or four pounds heavier than you’d like to be. Why haven’t you done your jump-boots today? Nothing stopped you. Yes you’ve got a cold, but when on earth has that ever stopped you doing anything before. You’re lazy. Kathryn, eat some green beans with dinner? Oh I don’t want to. Please, dad bought two packets. Oh fine. They don’t go with my quinoa. I’m already having spinach and peas and onions in with it too. I suppose I’d better look at life with rose tinted glasses, sometimes it’s best to live in some state of oblivion, or denial. Yes, everything’s going to be just fine, I’ll find a job eventually, it’s just that it probably won’t be my perfect job, where I work in some delightful fantasy world working three days a week writing whatever the hell I want for myself. I shouldn’t be writing this, I should be writing my science fiction piece. I’ve written about three hundred words since early afternoon, slowly does it. I know now why I so often get feedback on my work which states that my writing progresses too slowly for the word count. Maybe that really will go in my favour should I ever try to write a masterpiece to obnoxiously send to a publisher only to be grievously offended when they reject my work. You, you don’t want to publish it? What’s wrong with it? You can’t be telling me that I’m a poor writer. Writing is the only thing I’m good at. There has to be something vaguely special about my writing or I’m nothing, I’ll just evaporate into thin air if someone criticised too harshly. Oh I’m so pathetic, I shouldn’t think like that, I need to be able to take criticism of my written babies and develop them like the strong minded professional that I should strive to become. Oh well, maybe I’ll just make my fortune with my new found talent for remembering people’s eye colour. I’m amazing at that, never got one wrong. Wow, that’s sad. THAT’s your talent? Most people have talents playing instruments or doing sports, cooking amazing meals, none of which you can do, well, you don’t need to because your talent is remembering people’s eye colour. I mean where would the future of man kind be if you weren’t on the planet.