[Destiny] Chapter 31: She Siren

~~~

It turned out that fifteen hours straight was impossible, but Sila kept I told you so in his jacket pocket as Joanna opened one eye, kicked at his thigh from under the duvet and asked him where the black guy was.

‘You mean the Interrogator General? Don’t know. Just said he was going out again.’

‘He came back?’

‘Yup.’

‘When?’

‘He was here when I opened the door. Had that book open again. Don’t know if he was trying to ask you anything.’

‘What book?’

‘Told you already, the weird questions he was asking me before, about you. That’s where he was pulling them from.’

‘I don’t remember that.’

‘You had the duvet over your face.’

‘I remember the Spanish playboy on the main deck.’

‘Ah, the ship guidelines guy. Without a doubt, one of my best-loved topics.’

Joanna reached under the pillow and came back with her phone, grunting when she saw the time. ‘Where did the black guy say he was going?’

‘Tak.’

‘Is he not the black guy?’

‘Yeah, and his name’s Tak. Not sure what it’s short for, but, maybe you should use it instead of-…’

‘Where did he go?’

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[Destiny] Chapter 30: Urdu With Claws

~~~

The upper deck was freezing, sub-Moodysson with

nothing to see except bearded Moroccan men, life rings, the ship guidelines and a huge wispy cloud of lilac mist particles coating the sky to the left, the same purple shit Joanna had talked about in the cabin, most likely harmless and naturally occurring in the area, though, from the deck angle, it did look more than a little insidious, a sapient mist beast encroaching on its sedate, nothing-bad-at-night ferry prey

and when it hit, driving them all into sexual frenzy

fucking plus threats of it

perhaps inter-dimensional death doors, new forms of cabinet, mist aesthetics

yet

for now, thank gods

it was keeping its distance

hanging back.

Maybe it also feared Moroccan men?

Sila laughed to himself, stubbed out an imaginary cigarette then crossed the deck and went back inside. Or attempted to. The door seemed to be locked from the other side, the handle stiff and implacable.

‘Fucking boat mechanics,’ he muttered, putting his shoulder against it, and

without notice creak or alarm

fell ahead at light speed

tripped on the lower door wedge, prepped for severe head trauma when he hit the bottom of the metal steps then

in a reversal of death physics

got yanked back hard at the last second.

‘An impressive move,’ said an accented voice attached to a Pakistani-looking guy whose brown irises stared directly into his own, bobbing gently on anime-white sclera.

Not Amir

same hair but

facially different, eyes different

wouldn’t take all the blanket

not him

not Amir

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New Release // Planet Rasputin

~~~

Earth in the shallows of the 22nd Century where viable tokamaks have liberated all [well, most].

On the face of things, Slovenia is part of an alliance of predominantly anarcho-communist nations, but in truth it’s been co-opted by Potočnik, a crypto-tyrant with purple eyes. He dumps Sila, his friend Chu, his ex-friend Gašper, the physicist Nakagami, the militant Aleša and five other dissidents on a [prototype] ship and sends them off on a Mission of Progress; to develop a potential base on Mars.

The ship has strict rules: No out-going messages, no inter-crew communication longer than four hours each day, and no entertainment.

Can Sila & co. convince the ships AI to turn the ship round and ram bridge-first into Potočnik’s HQ?

Will Rasputin turn up at some point?

~~~

This is my attempt at a sci-fi epic with anarcho-communist undertones [or just outright tones, really]. A bit of absurdism thrown in too, mostly to cover my weak science.

Cover is done by the artist chained to my wrist, Soren, over at corpsehaus

You can buy it here

[Destiny] Chapter 29: Ferry Of Men

~~~

The words Ferry Terminal may have been written in Italian, but almost everyone waiting inside was North African, and it wasn’t until he double-checked the boat timetable that Sila realised there were two stops in total, Barcelona and Tangiers.

He walked back, sucking coffee through a straw, wondering if the way the North African guys were acting was similar to the way Iranian guys would if they were on the plastic seats instead.

He’d always wanted to go there

to Iran

but it would be hard to get the green knife through customs, unless he travelled by train or car, which would inevitably lead to other problems

called Syria

and probably death by sarin gas or

cleansing artillery.

Maybe if he got a tan and grew a beard, learnt some Arabic, learnt some slang

he could make it past the border

all the way to Tehran

as long as they had their eyes closed

but then

what about Joanna?

~~~

The Chinese patient was sitting on one of the green plastic chairs near the ferry entrance gate, surrounded by men. Ten minutes ago, when Sila had left to buy a coffee and a bottle of not Evian, it had been seventy-five per cent empty, now it was standing only.

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Planet Rasputin [Prologue]

~~~

I’m gonna be putting Planet Rasputin out there on Monday [June 6th], so here’s the prologue to either suck you into, or put you off, buying the whole thing.

To summarise, it’s set in 2114 and features:

an ion-drive ship with Slovene dissidents

Martian bases

Void-Helenism + death

Undiscovered dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt

Anarcho-communism

The Lem-12 Field to circumvent spin gravity

invented social theory

absurdism

and a lot more…

~~~

P R O L O G U E

Roughly Halfway To Mars

~~~

The Martians were indistinguishable from one another by rank, by fashion, by etiquette, all striving to ensure the red vegetation was maintained, working not because they were coerced, but through a deep sense of duty and fulfilment…

   ‘Why’s the vegetation red?’

…one day, they would work a shift in the clothing factory, the next they would switch to food production, eschewing any form of specialization, though there were some that did exist…

   ‘They change their jobs?’

…the elder Martian had previously been married to six other Martians, some male, some female, a concept that Leonid attempted to comprehend but with great difficulty…

   ‘Six people! Will I have to do that too?’

…the corpse of Sterni stared sideways towards the wall, at the poster of the first Martian factory, and Leonid stared too, falling onto the ground and weeping over the stained history, trying to pick up larger puddles of blood and return them to his friend’s body…

   ‘I don’t like it…’

…but the crime was as old as the first sharpened rock, as hellish as a nightmare based on other nightmares, as evil as the first devil that ever popped into man’s head, and there was no escape from it, not on Mars, not in this red-hued paradise of rotational shifts and unparalleled job satisfaction…

   ‘Rasputin, stop…’

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[Destiny] Chapter 28: Unburnt Asa Vajda

~~~

Alpine postcard

rough wooden panels surrounding

black hole

shouts of accented English

the Chinese girl

Joanna

saying she had to follow, it was wounded

door open

cold wind, specks of snow

laboured attempt to shift left leg

tearing his own wounds

and

alpine postcard, wooden panels

white face

white cup, white floating bowl

scattershot Italian

‘can rest, I’ll take care of you’

four heads

spinning wooden panels

black hole.

~~~

The Italian followed him past the event horizon and into the café he used to go to in Marcory, telling him to eat some soup, or drink it, whichever verb he preferred, as it would give him his strength back and possibly heal the neck wound too.

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[Destiny] Chapter 27: Scraped Forgiveness

~~~

Being low on cash and far from the train station was fact in this realm, but Joanna skewed all that analytical Popper shit and made it, in scattered bursts, to the taxi rank outside the hospital before her legs gave way and the body followed.

‘Stop being sneaky,’ Sila said, lifting her up into a wheelchair and pushing her back inside.

Joanna didn’t answer beyond a guttural wah. If she did, she might elaborate too far. And then they’d ask her what happened in the castle again, and she’d already forgotten her original story.

What had torn her leg up

in that version?

She couldn’t remember.

Defensive wolf?

Out of town bear?

‘You don’t have to say anything, it’s okay,’ said Sila, steering her back into the room with a Vicenza in the 60’s painting on the wall, and laying her on the bed. ‘I’ll do all the talking.’

Joanna muttered raw Cantonese and pulled the blanket over her head.

‘They said we can leave tomorrow. Officially leave, I mean. Your injuries aren’t that bad, mostly just shock, the doctor said, though you’re lucky they didn’t find anything in your blood.’

No movement from the blanket.

Sila picked up a pamphlet, said, ‘ah, this place,’ and pointed at it even though she couldn’t possibly see anything.

‘I figure we can go here next.’

The blanket creased as Joanna shifted onto her side.

‘Genoa. You know where it is? I think it used to be a famous port in medieval times, one of those city states. Can’t find any info on cabinets…yet.’

He placed the pamphlet on the bed, close to where he thought her hand might be.

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[Destiny] Chapter 26: Her Nightmare Castle

~~~

‘Are you sure?’

The words were said without context or stealth, but as soon as they were out of her mouth she knew exactly where she was and what was happening. They were in the castle of doom. Both of them. And they’d been in there a while.

‘Quoi?’

She focused in on the trestle table nearby, the paint cans she felt should’ve been on it. Tell him to fuck off again. Hit him on the back of the head and roll him down the slope. Just leave.

‘Are you sure it’s empty?’ she asked, finally.

Patrice popped his Roma bubble jacket back in the room and said, ‘no, you are correct, there is nothing here.’

‘Did you check all the corners?’

‘There’s nothing. I check everywhere.’

Joanna looked around for more potential hiding places. ‘There’s another staircase over there.’

‘Where?’

‘There.’

‘We go up there twenty minutes before, you do not remember?’

‘No, we didn’t.’

‘Yes.’

‘That was a different one. On the other side, the left part of the castle, not this one. This is the right side.’

‘I tell you, there is nothing here. We look everywhere, nothing.’

‘There must be.’

‘It is a castle, at midnight, who will be here?’

‘It’s hiding somewhere.’

‘Yes, hiding, like Jack et le haricot magique…the big plant, how to say…the fairy tale story, Jack and the-…’

‘I’m going up the stairs.’

‘Jack and the magic plant.’

‘Wait here, or go outside. Grab a weapon.’

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[Destiny] Chapter 25: Black Hole Persuasion

~~~

The hostel room was empty when Joanna got back, except for a note on the desk that said:

‘you may not give a shit, but there’s a cabinet in a castle near a town with a giant chessboard in the main square, the castle possibly built on the ground where the spine girl demon’s cottage used to be. Though the castle also seems to be on top of a hill so that might be wrong. Anyway, that’s where I’ve gone. Not that you care. I expect you’ll be gone by the time I get back. Two months and nothing. Just Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Ljubljana, every single day. No wonder you don’t have any friends.

Fuck it, do what you like, I don’t care.’

Joanna read it once and then half of it again, instinctively making defences in her head:

He’s too self-absorbed to have insight

He doesn’t know what I’ve lost

I said sorry for the hill thing

He’s a child

and all the defences were strong enough to ossify a wall around herself and everything she’d done, though she only needed two defences for those 22 other men.

They were sleazy assholes who wanted sex

I didn’t kill them, the Krsnik did.

She put the note back on the desk and picked up the little blade she’d bought in Ljubljana eleven months earlier.

After indulging in a few seconds of wai gau, she washed it in the sink with hot water, dabbed some alcohol onto a cotton bud and sterilised it. I should probably clean it more, she thought, but it’s only me using it, sometimes the child too, no big deal.

The vial of grey vasic was in the same place she’d left it that morning, untouched. She only needed two drops to get her through the rest of the evening, though part of her wondered if there was really any point. The only thing she’d be doing would be sitting on the bed, or maybe lying on the bed, reading a German book, and even when she did move around outside, it didn’t seem to change much.

In fact, she’d gone all the way from Denmark to Italy and remembered pretty much everything.

Was the effect of it wearing off on her?

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[Destiny] Chapter 24: Half-Hearted French Arc

~~~

The next morning, Sila was up early, translating a local article into Slovene, only this time he didn’t care enough to tell her the results.

Sliding off the top bunk, Joanna exited the room in kung food fighting t-shirt and OB knickers and brushed her teeth in the bathroom one door down, half-listening in on the two blonde women speaking Polish next to her.

She didn’t know for sure it was Polish, it was more of a guess, based on its tonal similarity to one of the guys she’d taken up to the top of the hill in Ljubljana. He was Polish, or so he claimed. With a masters in Life, Literature & Thought. And an ex-girlfriend from Turkey.

It was strange, why did she remember all that?

Maybe cos he was the only one who tried to fuck her on the path leading up to the hill?

Perhaps.

As she brushed her teeth she said cha ah a few times then cha yune, then zau la as she left the hostel and walked to the train station timetable to see if anything was running that day.

The board was light-less and full of CANCELLATO, so she steered left and asked the man behind the glass.

‘No train, 2 days.’

‘None?’

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