Man has not yet conquered time and space.
In fact it is unlikely that he ever will.
His approach to intergalactic travel is to burn tonnes of liquefied dinosaur in huge rockets in a furious attempt to build up enough speed to loose the bounds of gravity. So far, he’s thrown some metal objects away from the planet, sent a few people to his own planet’s solitary satellite and lots of folk have gone for a quick spin in orbit.
Interplanetary travel it ain’t. Describing me chucking a ball of paper in the bin as ‘intercontinental’ gives you some idea of how close we are to intergalactic.
Even in his fantasies Man talks about harnessing great power to achieve ‘warp drive’ and conquer the vastness of space.
Spacetime doesn’t want to be conquered.
Spacetime is not ‘all about straight line speed.’
She is curved. Pliable. Unbreakable strong and exquisitely beautiful.
To the meek she is terrifying, perhaps a vengeful goddess. She encloses us, we are of her and we cannot bend her to our will by force.
By force no. Of course not.
What idiot man ever thought he could persuade a strong woman by blunt force ? She might let him play at boss for a while, but she will not give way to mere push.
No, to overcome the forces of Spacetime and truly cross galaxies we need someone who understands how to exert great influence, not just smash her with brutality.

Jen’s approach was novel. To be honest, Jen was pretty novel for an astrophysicist. For a start, she didn’t expound her theories on blackboards or whiteboards or cover the walls of a lecture theatre with mathematical hieroglyphics. Jen wove her theories with multi-coloured threads and her studio was filled with origami models and swatches marked with galaxy beads.
I’m not sure I fully understand everything she was doing, but the general gist of it seems to be that instead of trying to accelerate our way across the warp of the universe, we should be folding the universe onto itself, and so reduce the distance we have to travel to a little hop across the weft.
“The trick,” Jen said, “is to know where to fold so you don’t disrupt Spacetime too much. If She feels crumpled She tends to shake out the crease and smooth Herself down.”
The best science doesn’t look like science at all. It looks like art.
On the wall in Jen’s studio is her masterpiece. A handmade tapestry of Spacetime. A flowing run of thread and beads representing everything she knew about the fabric of our being.
On it are long chalk lines – the kind of line a seamstress makes on a piece of cloth she’s going to work. Chalk lines sweeping across the universe – origami folds planned on a grand scale.
That’s how we found it anyway. We stood there, just gazing at its beauty for hours, wondering where the hell she’d gone.

A #FairytaleFriday story inspired by the keyword ‘weft’

Twelfth Night – Misunderstanding

These were written for the #SmallTales writing challenge on Twitter.
In celebration of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, and because the lovely @LiterallyGeeked who runs the show is a professional Wagstaffian, the triggers for this month are Shakespeare plays and a theme word.
I couldn’t decide whether to end on a positive note or not, so I’ll let you choose according to your mood !

If music be the food of love play on
But careful how you choose your lover’s fare
The melodies you love alone may on
Occasion drive your loved one to despair

“Play on” I say but just don’t make me dance
It’s likelier to piss off than inspire
Most likely it would just reduce my chance
Whose heart is captured watching me perspire ?

On second thoughts don’t play for goodness sake
The permutations are too hard to see
The whole thing may just be a big mistake
Love’s labour lost by errors aurally
Perhaps I’m over-thinking, it has oft
Been said of me I doubt humanity
Her ardent heart by music be wrought soft
Miss Right might be Miss Understanding see ?

The Forecast’s Reign

100 words for #SmallTales (temporarily #ShakespeareTales) on the Scottish play and the word ‘Prophecy’

A witches’ tale of ill starr’d prophecy
of Mac the soldier and his rise in life
to Thane of Cawdor then becoming King:
A man who listened closely to his wife.
He murdered Duncan, then had Banquo killed,
Whose ghost would shake his mind and make him rant.
Then witches once again the future tell
Macduff, a fatal arrow set in flight.
The Lady Mac, her bloodstained hands lie still
Macbeth in Dunsinane believes he’s safe
Yet Birnam Wood approaches with Macduff
of woman cut not born. Macbeth is slain
And where the forecasts end is Malcolm’s reign

The Ferrous Fairy

500ish words in the style of The Clangers for #FanFicFriday

This is the planet Earth.
Round and blue and brown and green and wrapped in wispy whorls of white clouds.
From very high up, you would not know that anyone lives here at all.
But take a closer look and all manner of strange and wonderful beasts can be found.
Baboonicorns, Velociraptors, Goreybeasts and Storybeasts, sharp scribbly monsters and of course, the mighty Blampied.
The occasional goat. And look over there … Literally ! A Ge-eked.
Clearly this is a planet teeming with life, made by the power of a mighty imagination in only a hundred and forty four hours.
We would have to travel a very long way indeed to find a planet with quite such a strange array of fauna as this.
Far across the galaxy, past thousands of fiery pinprick stars we would venture, until we found one small, crater pocked ball of stone floating in the sky.
From far away, we would not know that anyone lived there at all.
But on closer inspection … who is this ?
Ah yes. Major Clanger. He’s rummaging around in his toolkit, and if I’m not very much mistaken, he’s about to make something really rather wonderful out of all those bits of metal he seems to have gathered in his wheelbarrow.
If there’s one thing we know about Clangers, it’s that they’re really very good indeed at putting things together.
Hammer and clatter. Spanner and potter. Slowly the thing is taking shape.
Whoo ! This is hard work.
Good job Little Clanger and Tiny Clanger are here to fetch soup. Just in time.
Off they trundle, taking their soup trolley and their copper soup jug with them – off to the soup wells to ask the Soup Dragon for some soup for the Major.
She’s there, bathed in the green glow of bubbling soup, a luminous leguminous pea soup I believe. She gives the Clangers just the right amount for their tea.
They thank her and trundle back home to the Major, thoughts of hot soup and Mother’s bread and butter hurrying them homeward.
But what is this ? The Major’s machine is ready ! No time now for crusty bread and butter knives.
We must see what he has made.
There it stands in all its glory. A magnificent, masterful, Major-made machine.
I have gathered together all the little bits of iron I could find on the planet and fashioned them into this …
A ferrous fairy.
Sure enough, standing in front of the Major, her iron wings outstretched, was a fairy made of nuts and bolts and sheets of metal.
In the very centre of her back was a key.
I will now, cried the Major, wind her up and set her free
He wound the key. Crank. Crank. Crank.
The fairy tilted her head, opened her metal eyelids and flapped her wings.
Up she shot into the air. Up, up and away.
Off to join the metal chicken who lived way up high in the sky.
Time for soup now little ones, said the Major and in they went for tea.


100 words for #SmallTales on the keyword ‘dimple’

A blemish. A deviation from the norm.
The otherwise smooth surface marred by a pinch point.
And yet this place, this space, this void in her cheek, this is where my focus falls.
This hollow fills her face with beauty.
Without this lack, she is merely pretty: forgettable, anonymous.
Just one more red rose on the crowded flower stall – the only thing wrong with it ?
Nothing wrong with it.
With a dimple, a kink, she becomes fascinating.
My eye can’t help but return to the point, again and again.
She should probably have got a less obsessive plastic surgeon.


100 words for #SmallTales on the keyword ‘shrink’

I was bigger when I was four.

I was a dinosaur hunter, an astronaut, I single-handedly tamed the Wild West. In the morning, while painting my third artwork of the day, I would relate how the knight in the picture (me) slew the fearsome dragon.
Half an hour later I would be a tiger, prowling the jungles of India and my ROAR could be heard throughout the land.

This morning though I am an ant in a suit on a train going to the ant city to work.
I didn’t grow up, I just shrank.


A #FairyTaleFriday story in half a thousand words

“You expect me to swallow that !?!” she asked, the disgust floating on the top registers of her voice like skin on cooling custard.
“We were working late. We missed the last tube. We had to be back in at seven. It was easier and cheaper for her to walk to my flat than try and get her a cab out to her home and then have her commute all the way back in in the morning.”
“Lies. Stinking filthy cheating bloody lies. You were in the same bed !”
“The sofa’s awful – no-one could sleep on that thing. There were pillows in the middle. She was still mostly dressed.”
“MOSTLY ? You and some whore get pissed and because you can’t even wait to get her fully undressed to fuck her you expect me to be happy because she was only in her slutty little pants ?”
She wasn’t calming down quite as quickly as he would like.
Julie changed tack.
“You didn’t answer your phone. I was worried.”
“I know darling, but we were trying to get the deal prepped and none of us were taking calls. I’m sorry you were upset, but I was working.”
“How am I supposed to know that my husband isn’t out pouring champagne into some young floozy and cheating on his miserable bloody wife ?”
Hot fat tears were bubbling up now, splashing one by one over the rim of her eyelids.
“It’s four O’Clock. You’ve driven two, three hours to get here and you’re tired and upset. Why don’t I call the Hilton and we can check in and try and get some sleep ?”
He put his hand out as if to touch her shoulder. She recoiled as if he had punched her on the arm.
“I am not going to a hotel with you.”
He slowed his breathing.
“In the morning, in three hours in fact, I am going to lead my team in to close the biggest deal of my career.
If I am successful I will earn the biggest bonus this firm has ever paid.”
“Well bully for you !”
“Or not. If I fail, I and my brilliant but expensive rainmakers will be out on our arses. We will suffer. Our families will suffer. All because my wife sat at home and started thinking terrible things”
“Things that turned out to be true !”
“That turned out to be easily misinterpreted”
“I’m checking into a hotel and I’m putting it on the joint account”
“That’s fine Julie really it is.” He walked her towards the door and opened it.
“and I’m going shopping tomorrow in London”
“Goodnight darling”
He closed the door behind her and walked back to the bedroom.
“It’s OK, she’s gone”
“I knew you could sell anything” said the glossy haired beauty in his bed, “but I never thought she’d buy that.”
“She’ll be fine” he purred as he stroked the back of her neck. “Bond Street heals all wounds.
“Now about mine – these claw marks need some attention.”
She chuckled deeply as he pulled her head downwards.


100 words on the keyword ‘capacity‘ for #SmallTales

It occurred to George as he prepared his latest robot, that people often confuse the words ‘capacity’ and ‘volume’.
Not just his physics pupils messing about with water containers, but ordinary people messing about with love.
Jenny had been described as having ‘a great capacity for love’ as if that meant she had a lot of love to give.
In truth it meant she had a large space for love which she expected someone to fill.
The volume of love she had to give seemed … scant.
Humans were so hard to measure accurately.
Perhaps Jenny Mk. 2 would fare better.

Digging a big hole

“I’m going to dig to the centre of the Earth” said Brian,
“and I need a bloody good spade.”
“That’s a big ‘ole you’re gonna make there Brian” said Chandler,
“You’re gonna shift a lot of diggins.”
“That’s why I need a bloody good spade innit. Now you going to sell me one or not ?”
“Alright alright” said Chandler and he reached for a Hawkins No. 9 Digging Spade.
“The Hawkins No. 9 is a solid old thing, but she’ll shift a mountain without complaining and comes with a warranty says they’ll replace her if she wears out in less than three years.”
Brian took hold of her, hefted her up and down to feel her weight and admired how the grain of the ash handle was so perfectly aligned down the length of her shaft.
He ran his fingers down her. She’d been oiled to make her supple and so the water would run off her. Her blade was clean shining stainless steel with broad, forgiving shoulders that would be kind to your sole as you repeatedly struck into the earth together.
He noted happily that her blade was secured to the shaft with straps, not a socket and he knew with the utmost certainty that this was the one digging partner he would ever need.
Before, he thought he was going to be facing the big dig on his own. Now he knew she’d be with him he felt his confidence soar.

“I’ll give you twenty quid for it” he said.
Chandler snorted.
“Twenty quid !? It’s not a bloody gardening spade. It’s not for planting bloody roses ! That’s a proper hole digging spade ! It’s a Hawkins Number Nine for God’s sake. Twenty quid indeed. Forty and I won’t take a penny less.”
“I suppose I could stretch to twenty five.” Brian shrugged and counted out five fivers, slowly.
One … two … three … four … inhale deeply … fiiiive …
“Oh for God’s sake, thirty quid and you can have it”
… and six.
“Thank you” said Brian, heading for the door.
Chandler muttered “bloody dwarves” under his breath and he opened the till to put away his hard won cash.

Brian walked back to the woods whistling. On the way to Chandler’s his gait had been a solid trudge. Walking back to his clearing with his new spade he floated. His sturdy frame seemed to weigh nothing and he found himself leaping across puddles and playfully kicking pebbles along the path.

Brian arrived at the clearing and took it all in. The planks he had made from the trees he felled to make the clearing were stacked around the perimeter ready to shore up the walls of the hole.
He walked to the very centre of the clearing, to the square patch of bare earth where he had cut a stamp of sod that morning and he carefully lined up the shining blade of his new spade against the grass edge.
“Now then Miss Hawkins, ” he put his foot on her shoulder, “let’s see what you can do.”


100 words on beatify for #SmallTales

Dave wanted Emma badly.
“Look, I’m no saint”, he said
“but if a saint is what you want, then you’re going to have to help me.”
Emma knew his reputation, but she decided to let him go on.
“To be a saint, first I have to be dead – and I have to be in a state of bliss.”
“But I can’t kill myself because that’s a mortal sin.”
“So the way I see it, you’re going to have to sleep with me, kill me, and then get the Pope himself to tell the world I died happy.”
“Emma. Baby. Beatify me.”