Science Fiction, Short Fiction

The Cogs of War: Siege of Maubeuge

Some of the men around him called the HMS Obstinate, a Floating Fortress, but in truth, it was so much more than that. Because while its purpose was primarily defensive, the great lumbering beast provided the kind of aerial support that their enemies could only dream of. It was somewhere between an airship and a fort. Its great armoured shell had its beginnings deep in the resurgent mines of Northern England but the alien core that allowed it to move so impossibly in almost any direction came from the heart of the Grey Watch where men and women sought tirelessly to understand a legacy gifted to them by beings long gone.

It also didn’t help that they made the Airclad’s corridors a maze to navigate. More than once he had got lost, either heading to his barracks or to the mess hall. He served as a gunner, which meant controlling the great mass driver cannon that could tear apart anything unfortunate enough to be in its path. He didn’t know what went into the gun, he just knew that it blew shit up and that was all that mattered. After wandering lost for a while, he soon found the mess hall shared by some officers and fellow gunners. He joined a small queue of men intent on having their bowl of slop. It would probably be their last meal until the horn blew. He also knew he was lucky. The HMS Obstinate was one of a few dozen serving Airclads and those not fortunate enough to be assigned to it had to navigate the war below by fighting trench to trench. And sometimes not even that. He only knew that they were advancing to Maubeuge and from there they would provide aerial support to other parts of the French army and the British Expeditionary Force. That was what he had been told. But that’s the thing when you’re a grunt with a big gun. 

They don’t tell you the whole story. 


Things started well enough. The Obstinate’s gunners used their high-powered cannons to chip away at the advancing German army, but that was the thing. For every crater made, they plugged the hole. He didn’t know how many had been sent to halt their advance. But it left a bad feeling in his gut and his chest tightened as he, with help from a support gunner, carried another missile and loaded it. They returned the simplistic interface setup beside the cannon and imputed the commands. The sound it made as it launched its payload would be enough to deafen anyone. So they had to wear specially designed ear muffs that would dampen the worst of it. It still left his head ringing. They communicated in hand signals and the task had become so monotonous that when it happened, the shock of it alone might have killed him had it not been for his support gunner who all but pushed him into the corridor, not that it mattered. They were as good as dead.

Whatever the Germans had brought with them, it was made to bring down the Obstinate. Explosions ripped through the hull and sucked the air, men and anything else out into the open sky. The integrity of the ship gave way to a barrage of heavy artillery fire. He threw off the muffs and darted down a nearby corridor, remembering that the airship had pods for this exact situation. He would have his war. Unsurprisingly, he was not alone in this goal as men crowded the pod launch room. The sounds of chaos, swearing, and desperation led him to push his way back through the crowd. 

There has to be another – 

And all at once, the floating fortress floated no more. 


He gasped for breath, but it only made his lungs hurt more. He lay on a scorched earth as heavy gunfire echoed off in the distance. All around him were the cries of dying men swallowed by the fires of the felled fortress. In his blur, two people approached, one spoke in German. The other, a more deformed-looking thing, had once only existed in his nightmares. He knew they had existed. They had all heard the stories but to see one in person and like this. He was almost thankful for his blurred vision. 

“This one still breathes. They call these machines of war. Sloppy,” scolded the German as he pointed the barrel of the rifle down at the dying man. “If this is all you have. This will be a quick war!” 

From where he lay, the soldier lifted his clenched fist. 

“Oh, it’s still got some fight left in it.”

He lifted his middle finger, and the German grinned, stepping back. 

“Fido, dinner’s ready.”

Horror, Science Fiction, Short Fiction, The Children of the Entity

The Diabolical Tales of Doctor Laech and Nurse Cecilia: The Great Mortality

The Great Mortality may started in Asia but now the dread plague had reached Europe. It swept unopposed through many European towns and cities carried by rats and fleas. The many places Doctor Frederich Laech had passed on his travels continued to pile and burn bodies wherever they could. The massive smoke heavy pyres also deterred another kind of nasty threat. For Doctor Laech and his trusted assistant Cecilia business during this awful period was booming. People now more than ever needed the services of a capable Doctor. Together the two wayward travellers trudged through a thick mud past begging crowds and Town Criers chanting ‘bring out your dead’ whilst they rang a small metal bell loud enough that it may as well wake the dead. They soon came upon the house of interest. If you could call it that. A dilapidated broken down. Its foundation had sunk into the earth making it looked slanted and off balance.

Laech knocked three times before someone finally answered. The diligent peasant wife had opened the door partway revealing a bowl of stew under her arm.

“You the doctor I asked for?”

“Yes. Please, may I come in?”

“Of course! You’re our only hope. My husband, Walter. He’s in bed. Been there for three days. I keep feeding him but he’s not getting any better. I’m not sure what to do, Doctor.”

“I will see to him, Cecilia -” Laech motioning to his assistant. “Look after her will you and make sure she’s well. If she shows any signs of the infection, you know what to do.”

Cecilia nodded and took the anxious woman by the arm leading her to one side. Laech made his way toward the door that led to the bedroom. The stench of decay and rot ticked his nose hairs. He gently opened the door and entered the room. The door swung shut behind him. He took a position beside the bed. The man’s pale face stood out against the black veins that ran up and down his neck. The man looked at him for a few seconds pleading with his eyes.

“I am Doctor Laech, what ails you?” He asked.

The man pointed to his chest.

“As I suspected. May I remove your shirt?”

He nodded.

Doctor Laech removed a short scalpel from his belt and cut down the shirt exposing the man’s chest. At its centre was the brown blotch.

“May I ask, did you consume any unusual fruit or vegetables in the last few days?”

The man shook his head.

“Then what have you eaten?”

“Stew. It’s all we can eat.”

“I can’t remove what’s inside you,” Laech said. “It’s too far gone But I can stop it from taking your mind.”

He removed a bottle labelled ‘healing oil’ from his satchel and rubbed balm onto his hands before pressing them down onto the man’s brown spot.

Mortalis. Wake up. I beseech that you do not consume this man’s mind, if you wish to continue existing.

Nothing. Either the creature inside him lacked intelligence, or it was deliberately playing at being ignorant.

Doctor Laech took in a dozen deep breaths and pressed down harder this time. His own veins glowed a vibrant red as his psionic power surged into the room. You will obey.

The spot writhed under his pressure as red tendrils rose from Laech and wrapped around the man’s body piercing the skin. The man winced and squirmed as many inflammations that had ravaged his body healed in a instant. The cuts and bruises now sealed like they had never existed. If you refuse this peace offer. I will cure this man of your corruption. You will die. You need him.

Doctor Laech soon came to rest looking down at part of his arm and more impossible cuts appeared on his skin. He turned away. “How do you feel now?”

“What are you?” the man wheezed.

“A Doctor…” Laech said as he began preparing one of his concoctions.

“You’re a -“

Doctor Laech raised a single hand in the air.”If you so much as squeal. I will crush your organs. You are still in my snare. But I can feel the pulse of your heart, even now. I can kill either you or the creature inside you but the shock of it would leave you addled. You’d be a mere passenger in your own body. My goal here is coexistence for you both.”

“What are you doing now?”

Laech faced the man, wooden bowl in hand. “This should make you feel better.”

Laech left the room not too long after. The peasant wife approached him with Cecilia not far behind.

“Will he live?”

“Yes, but there is something inside him. You know what it is?” Laech asked.

“Aye, Doctor. I was afraid to accept the truth. He’s a goner, right? Will he become a ghoul?”

“As long as you care for him and keep a close watch on his daily activities,” Laech said removing a scrap of paper from his pocket. “He should be fine. Also, this recipe should satisfy it. Raw meat stew only. Make sure it’s bloody. It doesn’t matter who or what. It’s not fussy. If you want him to stay that way. Do not let it starve.”

The woman nodded and Doctor Laech moved past with Cecilia quick to join his side.

“Thank you, Doctor. We won’t forget this.”

“Don’t thank me. This is what I do. I make people better. Come, my dear Cecilia. There are more people that need our services.”

She gave an eager nod and together they left the house returning to the chaos that welcomed them with open arms. Doctor Laech met Cecilia’s troubled stare.

“Don’t fret, my dear. It is not the end of all things. At least not yet. That won’t happen for least another few hundred years.”

I hope so, came her soft gentle voice in his mind. I don’t want to live in a dead world.

Neither do I my dear, neither do I.

Short Fiction

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “No Cliffhangers.”

Write a post about the topic of your choice, in whatever style you want, but make sure to end it with “…and all was well with the world.”

No Cliffhangers

In the end, atomic fire had savaged our world. We thought it was left bare, after our destructive nature brought darkness, disease, and despair to the Earth. A civilisation all but extinguished, it’s dying embers, nothing more than memories of a past life.

As we emerged from our sanctuary underground, we believed nothing would survive the nuclear apocalypse. We were wrong. The Earth hadn’t just survived our wrath, in its wake, life had found a way.

For beneath the cracks and wounds upon the Earth. A sea of green burst forth. We were stunned, as nature stood before us in defiance. Even in our absence. All was well with the world.

The Return of Life