Grinch time

Busy busy busy…

I and RooBeeDoo are currently editing stories for the Christmas anthology. Has to be quick, it needs to be out later this week in time for the Christmas rush. That’s going to be worse than usual, all post and delivery drivers are overloaded this year.

Also, tonight is the last night of the author payments quarter for Leg Iron Books and there is always one who buys a book in the last five minutes before midnight. Always. So that has to be sorted too.

This anthology has ten authors, thirteen stories. At least it matches Underdog Anthology 13, so that’s not too bad. My story is, naturally, on the dark side… well on the moonlit overcast winter night dark side, if I’m honest… but I’m not alone.

So I will be silent here for a few days.

I did notice, however, that there seems to be a massive debunking of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for Covid. You know, the one that is actually a traditional style vaccine. They are really pushing the autoimmune disease mRNA vaccine and have now admitted that it uses a virus vector for delivery. Well it had to, there’s really no other way to do it.

They claim the vector cannot replicate.

So how did they grow it?

If I absolutely have to have one I’m taking the Oxford one. I am not touching either of the mRNA ones.

I’d rather not have one at all but it’s increasingly looking like that might not be an option.

Wrong Flag

The breakthrough results from trials of Oxford University’s coronavirus vaccine are based on ‘shaky science’, an expert has warned.

Okay, it’s the Daily Mail so you wouldn’t expect them to question this. They are journalists, not scientists.

So, someone who actually knows what they’re talking about has raised a flag over the Oxford vaccine. Her complaint is quite correct, the trial they did was really badly done. However, the article goes on to tell you what the three vaccines do and what they cost. The Oxford one is the only one even approaching a traditional vaccine and it’s by far the cheapest.

Basically, they have inserted spike protein RNA from Covid into an adenovirus, one of the wide range of viruses that cause the common cold. It’s low risk because even if a live one got through it would only give you a cold.

Then they grow that remodelled virus in animal cell culture and they have a common cold virus with a spike protein from Covid on its surface. The immune system will attack the virus and make antibodies against the spike protein (as well as the rest of the virus), so it’s ready for Covid if it appears.

It doesn’t need to be frozen because the virus doesn’t need to be viable. It only needs to be intact enough for the immune system to find it. This is the one that’s stored in the fridge. It doesn’t matter if that virus is incapable of infecting, in fact it’s better if it’s not. The immune system will attack it anyway.

Our flag waver raised no concerns about the other two vaccines. These are both mRNA vaccines, purely experimental, never been tried in humans before. They trick your cells into producing Covid spike protein themselves in the belief that that will be benign, your immune system will only attack the spike protein and you’ll be immune. In the short term that will work since you will indeed produce antibodies against any foreign protein that gets into your body. Trials have shown that it does indeed work in the short term.


For this to work, the mRNA has to get into your body cells. There doesn’t seem to be much information on how they plan to do that. There is a way, it’s been tried several times before and it can work.

You load your mRNA into a virus. The virus enters the cell and delivers its payload, which you hope is only that specific mRNA strand. But you have to load it in a viral coat. Just the spike protein code isn’t going to be enough, you need to produce a lot of this virus and if it’s only producing spike protein you can’t grow it. So you also need the genes to make the rest of the viral coat in there too. Basically, you now have a virus. If you want to keep it active you have to freeze it.

Hopefully it can only get into the first cell it meets and can’t replicate further. This is unlikely. You’re going to be injected with millions, odds are good that a few fully-armed live ones will get in there. Again, if you’re lucky, the few live ones won’t get very far before the immune system hammers them. But it gets worse.

If your own body cells are producing spike protein and that ends up in the cell membrane – remember it’s biochemically designed to sit in a fat layer around the virus so it can do that just as well in your own cells’ fatty membranes – then the immune system will not just attack the spike protein. It will attack the cell carrying it.

The mRNA vaccines have the potential to set up an autoimmune disease, where your immune system attacks your own body cells. Once that starts it can never be cured. There is no going back. You will be taking medication for the rest of your life and the Pharmers will be shovelling money into the bank. Oh, don’t imagine they do any of this for your benefit. They are doing it for the money. It’s business, pure and simple.

So the Oxford vaccine hasn’t been properly trialled. If I absolutely had to have a vaccine I’d still go for that one. I do not want to be a test subject for the long term effects of an experimental (and frankly quite mad) new type of vaccine.

A note on the reported ‘side effects’ so far – If your immune system is set off by an invading protein, it’s quite normal to feel sore at the site of entry, and to maybe get a headache or feel tired as your immune system is all fired up. That’s nothing to worry about. Your immune system is responding to an infection. It doesn’t know it’s just a vaccine.

The problem is in the long term effects. From what I can see of the Oxford vaccine, I wouldn’t expect any. Well, there are always going to be a few who react badly to it, that’s true of any vaccine or indeed any kind of medical treatment, but I would expect those to be few. Unless there’s something else in there that I don’t know about.

The mRNA vaccine is another story. You won’t see autoimmune effects within days. They could take months or years to get to the point where diagnosis is absolute and then it would be a brave doctor indeed who would attribute that to a vaccine far in the past. There might not even be an absolutely certain way to do it. The original mRNA will be gone by then.

The mRNA will not insert itself into your DNA unless an enzyme called reverse transcriptase is present. That enzyme is only found in retroviruses like HIV – which does insert itself into your DNA. Coronaviruses don’t have it. So the mRNA will gradually break down and stop working. Does that mean your immune system will stop killing you? Maybe.

Immune system cells are single cells. One cell, no brain or nervous system, they react purely biochemically. They cannot reason. Once they identify a cell as ‘foreign’ they will produce antibodies to kill it. Not just against the spike protein that’s been inserted. That cell is now ‘enemy’ and all its surface proteins are potential targets.

So even after the Covid spike protein is no longer produced, the other, previously ‘normal’, proteins on the cell surfaces are marked as targets. When the immune system decides normal cels are targets you get arthritis, multiple sclerosis, any autoimmune disease… roll the dice, see what comes up. Since it’s injected into muscle the most likely bad outcome is a muscle wasting disease. You’ll get weak. Easily controlled. Unable to put up any resistance to any show of force.

Now consider: what is it that the globalists have been quite open about wanting for a long time now?

Oh, and it will be mandatory. Not in name but if you ever want to ride a bus again you’ll need to prove vaccination. Once that foot is in the door, the sky’s the limit. Matt the Needle has already said he wants to apply the same approach to seasonal flu. Flu vaccine will be the next one you can’t function without. And then, any other vaccine that takes his fancy.

If you absolutely have to have it, if you have no choice, take the Oxford one. It’s the least risky by far.

That’s probably why they want to get rid of it.

Distractions: Luciferase and Borgbots

My undergraduate project in 1981 was on Eiseinia foetida, a banded eathworm that lives mainly in compost heaps. In the few weeks available to my undergraduate self, I was tasked with finding out whether this worm had a gut microflora that differed from the material it ingested. My conclusion from that short project was that I found nothing in the gut that wasn’t also in the soil.

Given much more time, and modern DNA analysis techniques, I might have found something different. I had a few weeks of dissecting compost heap worm guts (my career developed into increasingly smelly and horrible things later) and I reported what I found. Interesting microscopy, I wish I had had access to a microscope with a camera.

Anyway, one of my contemporaries at the time had a project involving a bacterium, Vibrio fischeri. If you’ve ever managed to get to the beach in warm weather, away from any street lights, you might have seen phosphorescence. Flashes of light in the breaking waves at the shoreline. That’s Vibrio fischeri, among many others. My contemporary had a non-stinky project, he’d delight in showing off his rotating flasks of luminescence in the incubator rooms.

It reacts to oxygen by producing light, in direct relation to the amount of oxygen. It does this down to nanomoles of oxygen (for the nonscientist that means ‘almost, but not quite, bugger all’). I used that same bacterium later to measure tiny amounts of oxygen through a photomultiplier. That was later superseded by membrane inlet mass spectrometry. Oh I have played with some fantastic gadgets in my time 🙂

So. The way this works is by the action of an enzyme on a light emitting substrate. The substrate is luciferin. The enzyme is luciferase. They are so named because of the light they produce, after the Biblical Lucifer (Beautiful Light) and not because we had to perform experiments within a pentagram lit by candles and wearing a cape and pointy hat. That was optional.

Luciferase is not a new thing. It is not linked to Satanic dealings in any way. It’s a convenient name for an enzyme that, paired with the proper substrate, produces light. It’s been known about for many decades and has probably existed forever. This does not mean it cannot be twisted to nefarious purposes, it just means it wasn’t intended to be. it’s just a name for a bacterial light producing phenomenon.

Next, hydrogel. This is a gel that is mostly water. I’ve had it applied to wounds before, more times than I would have liked to have been wounded. It speeds healing and stops you picking at scabs by keeping them hydrated so they don’t go dry. It does not contain Borg nanobots. It is water in a loose gel.

I’ve been fascinated by nanotechnology for a long time, especially those little machines that can only be seen with an electron or scanning-tunnelling microscope. Almost, sometimes literally, made of nothing but molecules, they turn incredibly tiny cogs with incredibly tiny levers. It’s fascinating but there is no room in there, even now, for any kind of computing power. They don’t do much yet. I’m sure that will change but really, it’s a long way from the Borg nanobots that turn you into a drone within minutes.

All that said, I will not be accepting the silly Covid vaccine. This disease is far less scary than measles. I don’t need a vaccine. I’ve had so many vaccines you could probably rip my arm off like a stamp, but not this one. Or rather, any of the three.

There is one from Oxford. It needs to be kept in a fridge. That’s okay, that’s normal. There’s usually one millilitre or so and a doctor or nurse can bring it up to body temperature before injecting just by holding it for a few seconds.

Another one needs to be frozen. That’s not normal. The third needs to be frozen at -70C. That is far from normal. That is the temperature we’d use for DNA or RNA samples. Or viruses. Ask how the vaccine is stored before you take it. If it’s not in the fridge, don’t touch it.

The video I linked to claims the little needles in the plaster-vax will pierce your cells and inject RNA. Nope. Pierce the cell membrane with what, to the cell, is a 9-inch shell, and the cell is dead. You will not get a subtle addition that way. It will get in through a virus vector. That’s not new, it’s been tried many times to fix genetic diseases and unfortunately never succeeded. Very much worth a try for the good intent ones though.

Boris has said that the vaccine will not be mandatory. The government, his government, has also mooted the idea of a ‘freedom pass’. Test negative and you can live. Test positive and it’s the Gulags. It does not need to be mandatory if you cannot live your life without it. You can refuse it if you want but you’ll die alone if you do.

If I took a test today and it was negatiove, I can move among you at will tomorrow. Am I safe to do so? I might have caught the disease ten minutes after the test and be waving my ‘covid-free bracelet’ at your face. Testing negative just means you haven’t caugt it yet.

So it will not be compulsory to have this vaccine but if you can’t prove you had it, you’re going nowhere. Is that really non-compulsory?

Take off the tinoil. Transhumanism is a thing, has been for a long time, they really think they can do this. Despite the warnings of the Cybermen and the Borg, they are trying for it anyway. Like communism, they think their version will work. Not for you. For them.

This does not make me complacent about the imprinted ‘vaccine status’ thing, whether chip or (frequently replenised) luciferase. I know what the original luciferase does, I know what hydrogel is but those things, like anything else, can be perverted. And will be.

Everything you see is false now. Everything is based on ‘divide and distract’. Relax, look around you and see what has really changed. Remember how it used to be. Remember where you came from. Remember who you are.

Rik Mayall was right. Burn your television.

Slap af! Slap af godt!

Når et problem kommer langt, du skal slap af…

Okay, it’s pidgin Danish, I’ve only been doing this for 6 months and they use each word for anything up to 25 different meanings so I reckon I’m doing about as well as anyone who was born in Denmark six months ago. I mean, take the word ‘taget’ which can mean ‘took’ or ‘the roof’. Or ‘dyr’, which is ‘animal’ and also ‘expensive’. Let’s not even start on ‘som’ or ‘hvis’ or ‘på’. Like the caterpillar in Alice, these words mean exactly what you want them to mean.

‘Slap af’ means ‘relax’ so it’s really the opposite of the original song. I just didn’t expect ‘slap af’ to mean that… but we probably shouldn’t go there. It’s lucky I learned this one because if someone in Denmark had told me to slap af, I might have taken it very much the wrong way.

It is, however, a good time to sit back and slap af. No, stop that, I meant the Danish version. Relax.

Chill. Let your blood pressure down. You probably have a valve somewhere, modern medicine refuses to tell you where it is. Usually it involves pulling your finger to let the pressure out.

We have the debacle of an election in America. Very important to Americans, obviously, but its final result will have knock on effects all over the planet. For the avoidance of doubt, I don’t want either of them to win. Unfortunately one of them has to and we’re going to be stuck with one or the other for four years. This is, to me, a matter of secondary importance. We have far too much trouble with our own idiots in charge in the UK to get too concerned with matters elsewhere.

Specifically Scotland, where the mini-government, run by the mini-Kim-Jong-Nippy has now declared fines for entering or leaving Scotland. It’ll cost you £60 to get in or out. Trust me, at this time of year it’s not worth it. Whether they have the authority to do this (they don’t) doesn’t bother them. They’re stupid enough to do it anyway. If this place ever gets independence with this lot in charge of it, hell, take my money at the border.

Meanwhile Boris, and by extension the group once known as the Conservative Party is being run by Carrie Wormtongue. If you’ve seen the Lord of the Rings films (or read the books as I did back in the 1970s) you’ll understand how Boris is perfectly fitting his role as King Theoden.

An MP by the name of Cleverly, who clearly isn’t, has said that the internal combustion engine would never have been accepted as a replacement for horses by government diktat.

That’s not what happened.

As with modern electric cars, early motor cars were primitive, expensive and had limited range. They were the toys of the rich. Eventually, and largely thanks to Henry Ford, they became affordable. Over time they became available to those who weren’t rich. Over time, petrol and diesel refuelling stations appeared that made cars more useful.

Until then, for most people, the horse was a better option. However, the horse needed to be fed and mucked out and exercised and groomed even if you didn’t go anywhere for a week. The car can just sit there until you’re ready to turn the key. It was lowered cost and convenience that changed us from horse and cart to car. Not government diktat.

Boris, under the influence of Wormtongue, has no interest in this natural graduation. Electric cars are currently expensive, have limited range and are nowhere near as good as even a small 4×4 for country roads. There are few places to charge them. All of this will probably change over time but Wormtongue wants it done tomorrow.

Boris does not have klokkene to tell her it’s impossible. He is a henpecked useless beta girlie man. The conservative party, what’s left of it, is now run by someone madder than the single Green MP that ridiculous band of maniacs have managed to get elected. The health minister is, frankly, demented now. He is banning hugs. Seriously. They will not be in power after the next election. At this point I’d say they’d be lucky not to have to campaign while picking the last bits of tar and feathers off themselves.

Our alternative? As with America, I don’t want either of them to win. Both main parties are entirely useless.

So what will happen? History tells us, if anyone bothers to look at that any more. This kind of disenfranchisement led to Hitler. Stalin. Pol Pot. Mao-tse Tung. Hugo Chavez. Che Guevara. Fidel Castro. All came from nowhere to get themselves put in charge of countries they then ruined. And then a lot of people died. Every time.

Maybe it will be different this time. I doubt it. People keep blaming it all on ‘Da Joos’ but this is wrong. The blame lies with four, maybe five of ‘Da Joos’ along with quite a few Goyim. The rest are just like us Goyim, just trying to live, just trying to get along. They know nothing of the Rockefeller plans, the Kalergi plan, the Georgia Guidestones. They are just living their one and only lives, like the rest of us, the best way they can.

However, somethig nasty is coming and it will win. You know why it will win?

Because it has separated humanity with incredible efficiency. Different skin colour? You’re the enemy! Different gender? You’re the enemy! Different religion? You’re the enemy! Vote for the other side? You’re the enemy! And so on.

None of these are the real enemy. Relax, slap af, chill, give your mind time to actually think.

Your imagined enemies are the same as you. They have houses and cars and jobs and children. Just like you. They wash the car and cut the grass just like you. They send their children to school just like you. They buy the same things in the same shops as you.

They are human. Like you. Exactly like you. They might not vote the same way. They might not agree with your politics. Maybe they are individuals and not the drones you want them to be, maybe they are actual humans. Like you.

Your real enemies are those pitting you against your neighbours. They are few. very few. They could not hope to succeed if we just relax, chill, focus and… notice them. That can’t happen while we are all fighting each other.

It really doesn’t matter, in any two party system anywhere, which one wins an election. Those parties are two cheeks of the same arse. They are in it for themselves, not for you. There are exceptions, but those are few and if you want to find them, look for the ones getting the most hate even from their own side. The political machine does not like dissent within its own ranks.

It’s probably too late now. So many factions with their own grievances see every other faction as the enemy. There really isn’t time to convince them, and they don’t want to be convinced anyway. They are happy shouting the slogans they’ve been fed and none of them think they’ll be the ones rounded up and sent off to the gulags.

I rather suspect they will all be rounded up. The goal, remember, is to reduce the human global population to five hundred million. That means getting rid of six and a half billion people.

Whoever you are, your chances really aren’t that good.

Out of book limbo

Yes, this place has been through another of its silent periods. I was preparing two books for publication at once. How? Well, both authors had supplied cover images and Cade F.O.N Apollyon stepped in as editor for Ruth’s book. That saved me a lot of time and work.

Now available are Mark Ellott’s ‘A Moment in Time’ and Ruth Bonner’s ‘Just Call Me Roob‘. If you have an Amazon allergy, the ebooks are also on Smashwords. Hopefully they’ll also soon spread to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, and more. Most of the rest have, there just seems to be an issue with Underdog Anthologies at Smashwords that’s a pain in the arse – but they make so little I haven’t yet bothered to worry about it.

There are three more I’d like completed before Christmas, plus the Christmas anthology of course. Then I might do something I never imagined I’d do when this all started with the Underdog Anthology in December 2016. Heck, back then I thought I was optimistic to call it Volume 1, and the Christmas book will be number 13! Which would have been a bad numbering sequence, but for 2020 it’s probably quite appropriate.

In December, I might actually need to close to submissions for a few weeks.

Yes, in four years I’ve gone from wondering whether I could find enough authors to fill one slim volume of stories, to actually having to close submissions for a few weeks so I can catch up! I’ll close on December 1st so if you have that massive tome of a fantasy novel spanning ninety generations of elves all set to send, you can still send it. I won’t guarantee to do anything about it before Christmas though, three books and an anthology plus some progress on my own writing means I’ll probably manage to take a half-day off for Christmas day. Well nobody can visit, might as well do something useful with all this time.

I still have to do the three volume annual thing but since I cut all the anthology prices to the bone for the duration of this nonsense, there doesn’t seem to be any hurry. I couldn’t charge more than $1.99 for the eBook version at the moment anyway.

If only all this work made any money. If you’re looking for a surprise stocking filler for Christmas, do take a look at the Leg Iron Books selection. There’s something for everyone (except the Gary Glitters and convicted councillors) in there. The authors will appreciate every penny of royalties, they’ll appreciate it even more if the royalties are more than a pound. Seriously, there’s some talented writers on sale at bargain basement prices over there. I even have a range of my own books in there of varying thicknesses to suit almost any wonky table leg.

Anyway, I have not entirely withdrawn from the real world – well, no more than usual. Today we did manage to visit Son and the grandchildren. Granddaughter is nearly three, her mother worries that the lockdown means she’s not developing social skills. She’s my granddaughter. She has no need of social skills, she just needs blade and crossbow lessons. Grandson is eight weeks old and has already mastered the art of the disapproving scowl. They are both developing perfectly normally. If Billy Gates Gruff wants to mess with this DNA, good luck. You have no idea what you might produce.

This vaccine is really gaining some acolytes. They think it will fix everything. The fact is, this vaccine isn’t a vaccine. It’s going to insert mRNA into your cells to make them produce proteins that are foreign to the body. This is, by any measure, not a good idea. You can pretend that sex is a construct to your five-or-seven-chambered heart’s content but biochemistry – trust me on this – is fixed.

At this point the Vaccine Brigade will call me an anti-vaxxer. I am a retired microbiologist. I have been vaccinated with every legitimate vaccine going. Some that the general public never get offered because they aren’t working with the horrible things I’ve worked with. My children and grandchildren are vaccinated. The only vaccine I have ever refused is flu vaccine because it’s money-making crap. I will definitely refuse the Billy Gates Gruff’s not-a-vaccine.

Real vaccines work like this. You take dead cells or attenuated (they can’t infect) live cells or even just appropriate bits of protein and inject them. Your immune system finds them and says ‘What’s this? What’s all this infecting? We’ll have no trouble here’ followed by ‘This is a local body for local cells, there’s nothing here for you’ and proceeds to wipe them out with antibodies.

The antibody production then declines. This is normal. It does not mean you have lost immunity. It means the immune system doesn’t waste time, protein and energy producing antibodies against something it’s already defeated. It would be like an army going through a battlefield eternally re-shooting the enemy it’s killed. Waste of bullets.

Instead, the immune system cells are able to store the information to make particular antibodies against things they have seen before. They don’t need to make them all the time. When the same pathogen appears, the immune system doesn’t need to go through all the ‘What is this and how do we kill it?’ routine. It just goes ‘Oh yeah, that one. Load up Antibody 73 and get firing, lads’.

The Billy Gates Gruff ‘vaccine’ does not do this. Bear in mind that the immune system recognises antigens – bits of surface material, not whole cells – and destroys the cell carrying them. The entire cell.

So, the Billy Gates Gruff ‘vaccine’ makes your own cells produce surface proteins that your own immune system recognises as foreign. It does not simply block the protein. It kills the cell carrying it. Your own body cells.

This is not a vaccine. This is an autoimmune disease in a syringe. I don’t care if they never let me enter a pub or restaurant or travel on a plane again. Not that we will be able to afford planes once the budget airlines have been wiped out. I am not going to be injected with this monstrosity.

You want to believe it will save you from what has turned out to be a bad flu? Fine. You go ahead. I won’t gloat, I probably won’t be one of the six people allowed to attend your funeral anyway.

You want to call it tinfoil hattery, go ahead. Or get two degrees in an appropriate subject, live through an entire career dealing with infectious disease and retire with a shed filled with lab equipment, like I have, and then maybe you’ll give it some thought.

Or maybe not. Maybe you’re excited to be injected with an experimental not-a-vaccine that claims 90% effectiveness against your own immune system’s 99%. Maybe you really want the aches and headaches of approaching arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Maybe you hate yourself so much that the agonising death of your body, cell by cell, is a delight to be savoured.

You just know it’s going to be called ‘Long Covid’, to get more idiots to take the thing, don’t you?

Meanwhile there is nobody sensible in charge. Boris is the Henpecked Premier, doing whatever his squeeze tells him to even though he must know, deep down, it will utterly destroy the country he was elected to lead.

That other bastion of Western Civilisation, America, seems to have no idea what it’s doing any more. That last election was a farce that would have embarrassed even the EU presidential election. Still nobody knows who won and I think it should be down to a cage fight between Trump and Biden. Go on, America. Election by Thunderdome. Two old fogeys enter, one old fogey leaves.

Maybe we should choose leaders who have a future beyond a rich retirement in the Cayman islands.

It doesn’t matter now. The game is on, Panoptica is approaching reality at a horrifying speed and it’s too late to stop it. Like climate change. It’s happening, it can’t be stopped, it’s not going the way they think it’s going and it’s adapt or die.

Darwin was right about that. It’s not evolution unless we turn into White Walkers. It’s adaptation.

We’ve done it before.

The big question is… how many of us have the guts to do it again?

Piper in Hazmat: Part One

Busy here, now five full books going through the process and also the Christmas anthology. Still I managed to get started on a tale for Christmas myself. This one will form part of Panoptica and fits between ‘For Whom the Bells Jingle‘ and ‘23-David and 81-Mohammed‘.

This isn’t the whole thing. Just the first half. It’ll probably get some editing too, once it’s complete. It’s being rushed out now because of something that’s happening in Liverpool.

The story is set in the future of course – I had hoped in the far future, but it seems the future is coming faster than I anticipated. Well, here we go…

Piper in Hazmat

Dawn wiped away her tears before they could freeze. It had been three years and yet the pain burned as bright as ever. She stifled a sob and kept her head bowed. Tree respect was nearly over and she would return home alone, to spend this Earth Day’s Eve night in darkness.

This year, again, she considered ending it. It would be so easy. Refuse to turn off the house. Keep a tablet or phone open. Wait for the bells and let Santa take her as he had taken Willow, and a year before that, Martin. She would be with them in spirit, somewhere, if the old religions replaced by the Green God still had any power. At least the pain would stop.

That’s what the old religions promised. The Green God promised nothing but despair, the burning of this planet now deep in snow and ice. The trees were dormant, having shed their leaves for their long winter sleep and yet the news declared that the planet was warming by the hour.

Dawn gasped when the klaxon sounded. Relieved, she turned and headed for home. Maybe she could simply not bother with her preparations and let the cold take her this year, as it took so many others. Mostly the old, but then it did also take some of the young, even some of those younger than Dawn’s thirty years.

Lost in her depression, she didn’t notice June draw alongside her as she walked. Normally the families maintained social distance and respectful silence on Earth Day’s Eve. Everyone was too intent on getting home for one last hot meal before turning all the power off to be bothered with any idle chit-chat anyway. June’s whisper startled her.

“Dawn. We need to talk.”

Dawn shook her head and whispered back. “Do you want us both on the Naughty List? We have to maintain tree respect this day.” She kept her eyes firmly ahead.

June’s breathing was harsh. “They’ve made something worse than Green Santa. The Piper. They plan to take all the children.”

Dawn curled her lip. “They’ve taken my husband and my child. Why would this be any of my business?”

June stayed silent until they were nearly at Dawn’s house. Then she took a breath. “I’m sorry, Dawn. I know you’re going through a living hell but we need you.” She pressed something into Dawn’s hand. Something that ticked. “It’s not electronic so Santa won’t see it. It’s mechanical. Watch it after you turn off the house. When the thick long hand has moved halfway around the dial, and if you want to help us, open your front door and put a LEDlight outside.”

Dawn turned, but June was already receding into the growing darkness. She opened her door and dashed inside.

The door closed, her back pressed against it, Dawn stared at the small metal disc in her hand. Behind its flattened clear dome were three pointed sticks, radiating from the centre. A long one, a short one and a very thin one that rotated around the centre as she watched. There were numbers, one to twelve, around the outside of the dial.

It moves. Is it really not electronic? Is this a trap?

Dawn chuckled, a harsh and desolate sound. It really didn’t matter. She wanted an end to her personal hell anyway so if it was a trap she’d gladly walk into it. It took the decision to end it from her hands, it meant she didn’t have to choose.

In the kitchen, Dawn placed the disc thing on the table and switched on the kettle. She’d try, although she didn’t really want to, to fill enough hot water flasks to last the twenty-four hours of Earth Day. She set the soup on the hob, the last hot meal until sunset tomorrow, and remembered how she had taken the tepid leftovers when Willow was still here. Now the hot soup was all hers and it tasted of loss and despair.

Dawn filled two hot water bottles and three Thermos flasks with hot water before the brown-out started. She filled the fourth with half of the soup and sat to eat the rest at the table. Through the kitchen window, she saw the sun touch the horizon. She ate faster, soon it would be time to shut down the house and wrap up as well as she could for the long dark hours ahead.

Her gaze fell to the strange disc June had given her. It had protrusions either side, as if it was once fixed to something. As she ate, Dawn wondered where it had come from. It looked old, tarnished and scratched and yet whatever mechanism lay inside still worked. The thin stick in the dial moved in jerky steps, round and round. She was to wait until the long thick one moved halfway round the dial, after she turned off the house.

It’s a time measuring device of some kind. Dawn blinked a few times. A memory tried to resurface. Had her grandfather had one of these, or something like it, strapped to his wrist? The Great Cull had taken him while she was still a child, the viral plague that had wiped out many of the elderly. She sniffed and took another spoonful of soup. The four-digit clocks were so much easier to read, this little time measuring thing looked like hard work.

The soup finished, Dawn checked on the sun. Only a tiny arc of its disc now showed on the horizon. She sighed and rose. Time to turn off the house. Technically she had a few more minutes but what was the point? The electricity was now so low that the ceiling light seemed to suck light out of the room rather than illuminate it. She switched on a LEDlight and opened the panel for the power.

This was control. Martin had told her. They could turn off the power remotely through the smart meters but that wasn’t real control. Making everyone turn off their own power, that was real control. Dawn reached into the space behind the panel and pulled down the handle. The house fell silent. The pale bluish glow of the LEDlight was all that remained.

Dawn sat at the kitchen table and considered the tiny device June had given her. She was to wait until the ‘thick long hand’ had moved halfway around the dial then put a LEDlight outside her door. Well, assuming she gave enough of a shit to find out what this was all about.

What do I have to lose? Nothing.

The thin stick continued its rotations. The short fat one didn’t seem to have moved much. It pointed at just below the three. The one she was to watch pointed at the six. So she was to put out a LEDlight when it pointed at twelve. Dawn wondered how long that would take. The hell with it. I have to get some layers of clothing on. It’s already getting cold. She placed the little dial on the table and went off to the bedroom with the LEDlight.

Wrapped in multiple layers of clothing against the growing cold, with one hot water bottle in her bed and the other under her clothing, Dawn returned to the kitchen. She carried three extra LEDlights since her first one was already fading. There was not enough sunlight to charge them at this time of year. Should she really waste one by putting it outside her door?

The long fat stick pointed at eight. So she hadn’t missed whatever awaited her this night. Dawn tried to care, she tried very hard, but three years of being alone weighed heavy on her. If it was to end tonight, let it end.

Why twelve? There were twenty hours in a day, a hundred minutes in an hour and fifty seconds in a minute. Dawn had a vague recollection that it had been different and harder to understand when she was small but it was so easy to calculate now. Hardly any thought required. What was this little dial measuring? Transfixed, she watched the movements within the little dial, tracking the motion of the one that led to a decision. Would she agree to June’s request or ignore it?

Nine. Halfway to twelve. Dawn walked to the window and shivered at the moonlit whiteness outside. Every house, well, every box-shaped dwelling, all identical, all dark… it looked dead out there. She held her breath and listened but could hear no bells. Nobody around here was on the naughty list tonight, so far. Dawn glanced back at the table. So June had told her the truth. The tiny dial wasn’t electronic or she’d be hearing sleigh bells by now. The Green Santa wasted no time when dealing with the naughty ones.

Dawn hugged herself and returned to the table. The LEDlight was almost dead. She switched on another. These tiny solar-charged lights were the only electronics permissible on this night. Dawn picked up the little dial. Its ticking seemed louder now that all other sound was silenced.

Ten. Getting close to decision time. Was she going to put a light outside or just ignore June’s hinted rebellion and go to bed? The short stick had moved a little closer to four. That one must measure hours, June thought, although it seemed a little off. Still, it was hardly bedtime but what else was there to do now?

What was it June had said? The Piper will come for the children? Dawn closed her eyes. There was a tiny hint of childhood memory trying to get through, something about a piper who took children away. Vague, fleeting memories of a story one of her grandparents – she couldn’t remember which one – had read to her when she was small. Something about Hamlet… no, that was a white supremacy thing she had learned about in school. Piper of Hammering? Piper with a Pie? Dawn shook her head. It was too long ago, far too long. Even so, she was sure she remembered a story about a piper who took away children.

She opened her eyes and stared at the dial in her hand.

Eleven. Not much time left to decide. Should she base her future, or possible lack of it, on a vague memory of a children’s story? Dawn pursed her lips. They had corrupted Santa. Changed him from the old jolly fat smoking and drinking guy who gave away presents into the New Green Santa, who was lithe and fast and Pure, and who gave nothing but took away the Naughty Ones. It was not so much of a stretch to believe they had found another childhood icon to corrupt.

June was right about the little dial. It moved without electronics. Mechanical, she called it. Dawn turned it in her fingers and wondered what was inside, what powered it. It was certainly very old. Did the ancients have some knowledge that was now lost to the modern world? Or was it an elaborate trick? Dawn placed it on the table and watched as the thin stick made a complete revolution and the long fat one clicked one notch further. It can’t be electronic or Green Santa would be here now. June had told the truth, even if Dawn couldn’t work out why it was true.

So maybe June also told the truth about the Piper. The long fat stick was close to the twelve. Dawn took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

She had lost her husband and only child. Now this Piper thing was coming for other children. Should she care? Should she help? Or should she continue her slide into despair and let the rest of the world suffer as she had?

Dawn pushed her seat away from the table and stood. “What the Hell do I have left to lose?” she said aloud. “I can wither away and die or go down in a blaze. Maybe I won’t be any use but I can face whatever god there might be and say that I tried.”

The hand was still one minute from twelve when she put the LEDlight outside her door.


The rest of it will be in the Christmas anthology.

The end of the beginning

Finally, the rebel colonists will be voting for their next boss. Will it be Trump or Biden? As someone who has no vote in this game I’m frankly tired of hearing about it.

Yet, like a massive motorway pile up, it seems impossible to look away. The election has been going on for weeks, it seems. Voting has been happening for ages. In some states, it doesn’t even really end tomorrow – a few places allow votes to count if they arrive anything up to three weeks late. Surely if you had a postal vote and knew your postal system was slow, you’d have sent it in plenty of time? Apparently not.

At least two states won’t start counting until the election is fully over. There is no way they’ll be ready to announce results on election night. Then there is the cheating. Both sides have been caught at it. This is modern politics so you can be sure there’ll be more of it and there will be challenges to any close-run results. Basically, this is going to drag on right through November and probably beyond. This election doesn’t mark the end of the matter. It’s just the end of the beginning.

Who will win in the end? I have no idea. Biden’s side produce polls to say he’s ahead. Trump’s side produce polls to say he’s ahead. The whole thing is so absolutely polarised now that it seems impossible to find a totally independent source. Anyway, the polls were way off last time so it’s probably best to ignore them.

It does matter who wins. The two front runners have completely opposite plans for America. It’s not like the UK elections where they are all pretty much a bunch of wishy washy middle of the road wasters. This election is a real ‘choose your path’ moment, and hte paths run in exactly opposite directions. However, only the Americans can decide.

If King George III hadn’t been doolally, all of this could have been avoided. On the other hand, America might now be choosing between the same parties currently in the UK parliament.

Not really an improvement.

Panoptica is here

Track and trace apps (I don’t have one, I don’t go to anywhere that requires one), compulsory masks that make facial recognition cameras futile (you’ll soon be required to be RFID chipped and/or wear a barcode so they can see you), cash being gradually demonised and refused in many shops now… It’s here. If you have an Alexa or carry your phone everywhere or have one of those TVs with a camera in it, you’re in Panoptica.

Almost. There is still a little time to finish the story and try to get to a happy ending. I have agonised over this one for so many years now, even stopped for a time when the things I wrote appeared as news within days. Then, writing the book, I found that 10538 had to recount experiences in a way that basically told the first half of the story twice. Then it was derailed by my father’s death in February, followed by all the Covid nonsense since.

I think I have a way in which it can work. One of my favourite books as a teenager was Ray Bradbury’s ‘The Martian Chronicles’. It’s a collection of short stories that tell an overall story. Mr. B. didn’t originally set out to do that, he had written a series of stories based on Mars for a magazine and collected them later. This means that the first few stories didn’t fall into a pattern, but overall the book worked. I’ve always wanted to write something like that.

So I will. I’ll also include the stories that led up to the main story, and fill in a few blanks with new stories. I have a particularly horrible (and quite likely) one for Christmas. It fills the gap between ‘For Whom the Bells Jingle’ and ’23-David and 81-Mohammed’. I don’t think I need to write the story before ‘For Whom the Bells Jingle’, I think we can just watch that on the news.

Unlike ‘The Martian Chronicles’, this one will start out with the premise that it tells an overall story, but in a series of shorts rather than chapters. Some of them will work as standalone stories but I suspect a few will be the ‘backbone’ of the overall story and won’t work as singles.

It won’t be fast, unfortunately. I have three other authors’ books to deal with and the Christmas anthology is under way. But it will happen.

Hopefully, before it all comes true.

Entertainment time – Bagboy

Late, but then it’s Halloween and that’s a busy time 😉 I didn’t manage to get a new one written – I was invited to participate in a scientific review a short while back, and agreed before asking the deadline. It was yesterday. It’s done, skimming the very tartar off the teeth of the deadline. Just like the old days 🙂

Anyway, a story for Halloween. This one is from Mask-Querade.


“What’s in the bag, kid?”

The boy set down his heavy bag and stared into the eyes of the grinning man who towered over him. This man wasn’t on his list.

“The head of the last person who looked into the bag,” he said.

The man laughed. “Good one, kid.” He patted the boy’s head and walked on.

The boy picked up his bag and continued on his way. Day faded into night and still the boy walked.

As the darkness closed in, the Halloween revelries went into full swing. A man shambled past him, his grin lopsided. “Hey, kid, whass inna bag, eh?”

The boy looked into the man’s eyes. Another one who wasn’t on his list. “The head of the last person who looked into the bag.”

The man snorted. “Smartass kid. Fegoff.” He staggered away.

The boy hefted the bag onto his shoulder and headed for the place he needed to be.

Denny fiddled with his mask. It was a pain to wear it, but wear it he must, even alone in this alleyway. It had advantages in his line of work. He took out his knife, admired its stiletto gleam in the moonlight and quickly resheathed it. This was his earner, his path to riches. So far it had made him enough to be comfortable and, he had to admit, it had provided a lot of fun. One day he would strike the mother lode.

Or rather, one night. Denny smiled behind his mask. It wasn’t a great mask, it was a cheap surgical mask that Denny knew did nothing to protect him from anything. Except one thing. Identification. He chuckled at the thought that in less than a year, the police had moved from arresting someone in a mask to arresting anyone without one. Times change, and they change very fast these days.

He could have chosen one of the many colourful masks now on sale, he could have picked a mask from a film or TV character. He chose this one for a reason. Most people wore this type now, even though the younger ones had forgotten why. This was true anonymity, having the same face as everyone else. In his profession, that was an ace card.

Footsteps approached. Denny tensed and sank into the shadows, prepared to grasp the night’s earnings. He should have been working with Bob but Bob had not shown up for over a week and nobody knew where he was. So, for now, Denny worked alone.

A small figure, silhouetted in street lights, stood at the end of the alley. Denny watched through narrowed eyes. The figure had a large bag, there might be something of value in it. Would that little one risk the darkness of the alley or would they chicken out and take the long way around?

There was no motion for several minutes. Denny wasn’t even sure he was breathing, the anticipation was so great. The small figure sniffed the air and looked around. Maybe it was listening, gauging the alley as safe or risky.

It’s safe. Denny tried to push the thought into the small figure’s head. Oh, he had no belief in anything supernatural but hell, it couldn’t hurt to try.

The figure took a step forward. Its head moved from side to side. Denny kept his breathing shallow and silent. This could be a big one. The kid could be a money courier for a gang. They’d never know who took that bag of cash. Maybe it’s drugs. What the hell, I know enough junkies, I could sell them. Must be something valuable, nobody else would let a kid out with a bag that big this late.

The small figure let out a snort of breath and strode into the alley.

Denny tensed, his hand on his blade. This had to be quick. He watched the alley behind the kid in case he had a shadow, a guard or a watcher to make sure he delivered the goods. No sign of anyone. The kid was alone. Denny stayed perfectly still in the shadow of an alcove in the windowless wall.

The kid walked past him. Denny was sure the kid’s eyes flicked in his direction and he thought he saw a smile on the small face, but the kid didn’t break stride. It was a boy of about twelve, Denny guessed, and he can’t have seen anything or he’d be scared.

Ah, the old days, in the gang with Bob and Pete and Scabby Ted. We used to have so much fun with the little kids. Scabby Ted pissed off somewhere three years ago. Pete turned straight and scared, I wonder what he’s doing now?

Denny slid the long thin knife from its sheath, Just have to get rich all on my own, I suppose. He moved in silence, came up behind the boy. One hand over the mouth and a quick cut across the throat. The boy made no sound, he simply fell. Denny grabbed the bag, resheathed his knife – no time to clean it now – and ran along the alley.

At the street, he relaxed into a casual stroll, the bag over his shoulder. Just another man in a mask, carrying home a work bag. Just like everyone else. The mask hid his grin. This is just too damn easy.

Denny’s flat was small, but then there was only him and he didn’t need much space. A bigger place would just mean more cleaning. It was a decent flat, rented from the local council and, he always thought, it was pleasant enough.

He placed the bag on the kitchen table. It was really quite heavy and he wondered how that scrawny kid had managed to carry it so easily. His fingers itched to open it but… Patience. I have all night and I need a drink.

He poured a large vodka and added a splash of lemonade. His knife lay in the sink, it had moved so fast there was only a trace of blood on it from the kid’s throat. The leather sheath had gained an addition to its spreading collection of bloodstains but Denny saw that as a kind of scorecard. The staining darkened over time. Gave the sheath character.

He took a swig of vodka and stared at the bag. It was well used, worn and wrinkled. There was a splash of blood down one side. Denny smiled. Seems nobody had noticed on his way home but then it was Halloween, it was dark, and everyone was too busy having fun.

What could be in there? It felt too heavy for cash. Maybe too heavy for drugs. Stolen jewellery perhaps? Denny took another swig. Maybe the kid was homeless and it was all just worthless shit. He shook his head. That kid was clean and healthy, he hadn’t been sleeping rough. Finally setting down his glass, Denny reached for the bag’s drawstring and pulled the top open.

“I’m supposed to give you one chance.”

Denny started at the voice. He looked around but saw nobody.

“I don’t want to. Look in the bag.”

The boy stood opposite him, on the other side of the table, between Denny and the sink where his work knife lay.

“How the hell did you get in here?” How the hell are you alive? And why do you look familiar?

“It doesn’t matter. Soon it will be over, or maybe I should say it will begin.” The boy smiled. “Do you remember me?” He lifted his head. Scars criss-crossed his neck, one of them recently healed.

“It can’t be. That was seven years ago.” Denny ran his tongue over his dry lips. That kid died, and if he had lived he’d be an adult now.

“I won’t tell you my name. You and your friends never asked for it. After the things you did, I have no reason to give you the one last chance I’m supposed to but those are the rules. So, I’m supposed to tell you not to look in the bag.” The boy leaned forward. “I have to tell you what’s inside.”

Denny swallowed, the vodka buzz in his head making this whole thing feel unreal. “Well? What’s inside?”

The boy grinned. “Your darkest dream. Your wildest imaginings. A thing beyond mere money and human materialism. Eternity. A thing whose value can never be counted. Whether you look inside is up to you. I cannot force you either way. It is entirely your decision.” The boy sniffed. “If you don’t want to look then I take the bag and go. Then you’ll never know.”

Denny took a breath and regretted it. The alcohol surged in his veins. “If I open it, do I get to keep what’s inside?”

“Yes, I suppose that’s one way of putting it.” The boy smiled at the floor. “If you look inside, the bag becomes yours. If not, I take it and leave.”

I should have added less vodka and more lemonade. The alcohol fuzzed Denny’s thoughts. He narrowed his eyes. “There’s a trick here, isn’t there?”

“Yes.” The boy answered at once. “I don’t want you to know in advance what’s in the bag. It is a thing of great value to me. So yes, I am trying to trick you.” The boy’s smile never wavered. “Even so, the choice is always yours. You can look in the bag or I take it away. Make your choice.”

It had been rather a large glass of vodka. Denny struggled to make sense of the conflicting thoughts in his head. The boy could not be here. He could not be who he claimed to be, that boy was dead. If he had somehow survived, he’d be close to twenty now. If it was him he had no reason to reward Denny for the horrors they had inflicted on him. If he was a ghost, how could the bag be real? It was real, solid and heavy. It contained something important and the boy didn’t want him to know what it was. That last thought beat out the others. The bag had something of value in it and Denny wanted it.

Denny reached for the bag. He pulled the top open wide and looked inside.

Bob stared up at him

Denny wanted to recoil, to close the bag, to forget the severed head he had seen, with its moving eyes and silent mouthings of horror but he could not look away. He had to watch as the head decayed at a frightening speed until it became a skull, then drop into an abyss of flame. It’s like the bag is a portal to Hell.

“It is.” The boy’s voice seemed far away. “You stay in the bag until I get the next one. Then your head goes to Hell.”

Denny wanted to answer but the cracking in his neck prevented it. Vertebrae separated, muscles tore, tendons turned to jelly. Then he was looking up, out of the bag, at a headless body that slid out of his line of sight. All he could see was his ceiling.

The boy’s face smiled down at him. “You won’t be in there too long. I have one more to find. Once that’s done, I get to rest.” He sniffed. “You see, I didn’t completely hate what you did, even though I was terrified and forced into it, so I was condemned to Hell anyway. I despised you and your friends for that more than anything. It turns out my hate was strong enough to do a deal. If I deliver your four souls before you have a chance to redeem yourselves – not that any of you are likely to try – then I get released.”

Denny moved his mouth but no sound came out.

“Oh forget it, you have no lungs and no larynx now. You’ll never speak again.” The boy gathered the drawstrings. “In Hell you will be a silent head and nothing more. Only the demons will hear the music of your screams.”

Denny moved his jaw. What about Pete? He was the one who went back to normal life. This kid can’t get him now.

“The last one is Edward Scabrous. The one you called Scabby Ted.” The kid’s face disappeared as he pulled on the drawstring. “Your friend Pete was the first I caught. He’d become a scoutmaster. He liked small boys.”

Darkness enveloped the interior of the bag. All that was left was the feeling of the bag being lifted and the boy’s last words.

“As did you.”