Chaos Abates

The stress of the book is long over, all authors are paid, all books are sent to those who elected to be paid in books (except one who I still have to persuade to accept any payment at all!). It is not yet up on Legironbooks.co.uk, and the new authors’ profiles are not on there yet.

That will happen after Monday. My office is also the guest room, we only use the upstairs rooms for storage since there’s no heating up there. My parents are here until Monday so I don’t have easy access to the desktop computer.

I am using the Laptop of Eternal Despair. It came loaded with Windows 10. Win 10 is designed for a touchscreen and this laptop doesn’t have one. So it’s not easy to use. It’s also of a spec that could run Win10 comfortably at first, but updates have swollen the program out of the laptop’s range. It is now agonisingly slow.

Once I have my desktop back I will upgrade this laptop to Windows 7.

Anyway. The big lifting of stress was jury service. If you haven’t been zapped with this one (this was my third time), what happens is this. You get a citation weeks in advance. From that point, if you are self employed, you cannot take on any work that would overlap that date and you cannot say when you will be available after that date. You might be on a one day trial or on a year-long one. This can kill your business but there is no opt-out from the court system.

Also, we live on a farm in a remote location. There is no public transport here. The nearest bus stop is an hour’s walk away for me, a lot longer for my parents, especially my father. He is 80 and has had several strokes.

Oh that doesn’t stop him. He has dismantled an old armchair we had in the greenhouse (it was there to be dismantled and burned but we hadn’t done it because we don’t go in the greenhouse in winter. It’s horrible in there). It is now completely dismantled and burned to ashes and he has cuts all over his hands. Yeah, it’s not just me, it’s in the family. My son had to have his finger sewn back together after a router incident, they X rayed him and asked when he had broken his thumb. He didn’t know he had.

Anyway. What was preying on my mind was, if I was called in to jury service I would have to take the car. That would leave my parents and CStM isolated here and if my father did some serious damage to himself, they had nobody to call on. Both my kids were at work and even if they could come out, they are both at least half an hour away. I would have known nothing because you can’t have your phone in a jury box.

If you’re wondering how much damage an 80 year old multiple stroke victim can do to himself…. last time they were here he was trying to realign patio slabs. Like son, like father…

Yes, we ended up visiting casualty that time. So you can imagine how concerned I was about being roped in to a case which might have been about something utterly tivial. As most prosecutions seem to be now. Calling someone by the wrong made-up pronoun gets you in more trouble than if you just kept quiet and stabbed them instead.

The next part of the jury process is a phone number. You call after 5 pm the night before you are due to attend and it tells you whether to attend or not. If you don’t have to go – I assume because there are cases still going on – you have to call again the following night. Three of these and if you are not called, you are free.

That’s what happened. I am free of jury service until they ‘randomly select’ me yet again five years from now. By then I might have a conviction for wrongthink which would exempt me. They are going to have trouble finding ‘clean’ jurors in five years.

By then we might even have left the EU. Scotland does not have local council elections this year but the ones in England are likely to send a very strong message to any Tories still capable of hearing it. I have seen Tory councillors on Twitter telling us that the council posts have nothing to do with Brexit and we shouldn’t punish them for what the Tory party is doing. Yeah… tough luck. You are going to get hammered.

It’s not about councils. It’s about sending a message. A message clear to every Tory MP except Tessie the Blind. She doesn’t care about the party anyway, she’s doing it all for herself. She will destroy the Tories as well as the country and they don’t seem to care. Well, it’s going to be fun to watch. Even John Major, the Monochrome Man, didn’t manage to do this much damage.

Will Corbyn win? The chaos he would inflict would be legendary. It’s the only Tory game now – ‘vote for us or Stalin’s apprentice gets in’ – but who will vote for Corbyn? How is he even still an MP? Labour supported Brexit too and Labour fucked it up too. He is really no more to be trusted than Tessie Maybe. We could see a whole new party system out of this if the Brexit supporters don’t fuck up this chance by fighting amongst themselves. Which is what they will do because they are politicians and therefore inherently stupid. Clever people get proper jobs.

The latest news is a Brexit delay until Halloween. Roobeedoo has wondered if Tessie is synchronising with Underdog Anthology release dates. It certainly looks like it, but it’s more likely that the Tin Tart just has no idea what she is doing.

The Tories are in crash and burn mode now, far more than even when Major John called ground control to say there was a problem. And they seem to think they can get votes by telling us the other side is bad.

Well, yes, they are. Our choice is to throw money into a Corbyn black hole or into a EU black hole. The Tories offer no other aletrnative, in fact they offer nothing at all. And they want us to vote for them.

No.

Entertainment time – Pandora’s Lost Luggage

A story from Transgenre Dreams.

“The delegation has arrived, Mr. Blackthorn.”

Erasmus Blackthorn tapped the intercom on his desk. “Send them up, Melissa.”

He placed his hands on his huge and largely empty desk and swung his chair a little. They had come to dissuade him, but they were too late. His people were already on site and already digging. Erasmus indulged himself a smile, which he knew he would have to lose soon. These people would expect serious conversation and if he was to get what he wanted out of this meeting, he would have to keep it serious.

***

“Do we have the permits yet?” Charlie West’s face was full of concern, but then it always was.

“They are coming. Mr. Blackthorn has cleared this with the authorities. Don’t worry, Charlie, we aren’t going to get into any trouble.” Terry Rarity sighed. Charlie was a worrier. Maybe Terry shouldn’t have brought him on this dig but Charlie was a good archaeologist and particularly skilled at noticing the tiny details so many others overlooked. The downside was Charlie’s insistence on proper protocol. If he ever found out there were no permits, that the whole thing was a catalogue of Blackthorn’s calling in favours, coupled with payoffs and bribes, he’d have a fit.

“You know I’m not comfortable unless it’s all above board.” Charlie stared at his shoe as he twisted it in the dirt.

“I know. It’s fine, Charlie, really. We’re just following up on earlier work. The hole we’re digging into was first dug in 2001. This isn’t some speculative dig, we already know we’re onto something.”

Charlie sniffed. “Do we know why they stopped work back then?”

“Well,” Terry said. “You know the current situation in this country, right? The government had a lot more to worry about than some guys in a hole in the ground and really, they still do. They can’t spare time nor money on archaeology. We have Mr. Blackthorn’s funding so the country isn’t having to pay out, and they get tax revenue and permit fees and they do need the money. That’s the only way we’ve been able to revive this dig.”

Charlie shrugged. “I don’t understand why nobody did it this way before. It’s a fascinating find and it just got ditched for so many years.”

Ah, Charlie, you’re still at the stage where you think science is pure and scientists don’t engage in sneaky, underhand practices to keep the money flowing. “It’s about funding. Basically, about keeping funding going by not reaching the end point.” Terry held up his hands. “It’s the science version of politics, Charlie. Stay one step away from the final discovery for as long as possible, and the money keeps coming. It’s the game that has corrupted real science in every field.” Terry smiled. “We don’t play that game and neither does Mr. Blackthorn. We want to see the end point. We want to see the last secret opened within our lifetime.”

Charlie closed one eye in a lopsided smile. “I want that too.”

***

“Gentlemen, welcome. Please, have a seat.” Erasmus indicated the three chairs placed in front of his wide desk. “Can I offer anyone a drink?”

The three men exchanged glances and all shook their heads.

“No thank you, Mr. Blackthorn. The matter at hand is urgent, at least to us.”

Erasmus recognised Professor Christopher Rooke and extended his hand. “I’m quite certain it is of the utmost importance to you, Professor Rooke.”

The Professor ignored Erasmus’ proffered handshake and raised his eyebrows. “You know me?”

“Of course.” Erasmus let his hand fall to his side. “I do not enter into projects, nor business arrangements, not even meetings, without knowing who I am dealing with.” He nodded to the other two men. “Professor Williamson. Doctor Prosser. I haven’t studied all your work in detail, of course, that would require rather more time than I have available, but I think I have the general idea.” He relaxed into his chair. “Please, gentlemen, be seated, and tell me your concerns.”

The three men sat. Professor Rooke placed his arms on the desk, fingers interlocked. “We are here because of the projects you have applied for. The permits you have applied for, I mean. You’re clearly in a position to fund the projects yourself.”

“Quite so. I have engaged the services of one of your colleagues, a Doctor Rarity, and we are seeking permission for digs in a number of locations.”

“Rarity!” Prosser sneered. “He’s a treasure hunter, not an archaeologist.”

Erasmus smiled. “I am a businessman, not a scientist. I am not interested in discovery for its own sake. I am, as you correctly deduce, in it largely for the profit.”

Rooke waved Prosser to silence. “Mr. Blackthorn, what you will find is not treasure. There is no gold in the chambers you propose investigating.”

Erasmus smiled wider. “I know, but not all treasure is gold.”

***

Terry looked over the drawing Charlie had made. “So all these stone vials contain pressurised carbon dioxide?”

“Yes,” Charlie indicated the lines of vials embedded in the walls and revealed by their ground penetrating radar. “Try to break through by force and we’ll release enough of it to asphyxiate ourselves down there. It’s heavier than air, and two or three of those would be enough to fill the dig.”

“I wonder how they did that?” Terry mused. “We have to get a few of them out intact, for later study.”

“Won’t be easy.” Charlie sniffed. “Those things are embedded in the stones and then there’s the vibration down there. Subsonic, makes you feel like crap. We still don’t know where that comes from. We have to cycle the diggers because they can’t work in there for more than an hour. They certainly can’t hold on long enough to extract one of those vials.”

“We’ll get back to the vials later.” Terry scanned the hand drawn diagram. “There must be a way into the thing. I bet the vibrations come from something inside, and if we can find it and stop it, it’ll be much easier. I can’t see a way in.”

“There might be one.” Charlie pointed to a mark on the ground scan. “It’s in the north face. We’re digging down the east face.”

Terry squinted at the printout. “Where?”

“It’s faint, but it’s there. A rectangular patch about halfway down the side of the structure.” Charlie took a red pen and circled the spot.

Terry took a deep breath. He had been right to bring Charlie along. Nobody else would have spotted that. “So, can we get to it?”

Charlie shrugged. “The easy way would be to dig another shaft. The quick way would be to tunnel sideways, around the thing, but that has more risk of a tunnel collapse.”

“We won’t be able to dig another shaft. We’re lucky to have access at all, the government here isn’t going to like us digging holes wherever we please.” Terry tapped his pen against his chin. The truth is, digging another shaft will get us noticed and we aren’t supposed to be here. “We have to try the tunnel. Just make sure it’s well shored up.”

“It’s not too far around and we’re already past the point where we’re deep enough. I’ll get the ground staff to make a start. Can we get enough wood?”

“No problem. Mr. Blackthorn gave us a generous budget,” Terry said. “Just tell me what you need.” And I’ll bribe the right people to get it.

***

Williamson tapped his fist against his mouth and cleared his throat before speaking. “Mr. Blackthorn, we are all aware of your fascination with the occult. It is likely you expect to find some artefact in the chambers you are interested in. I can assure you, there is nothing of interest in any of them. Nothing that you, nor anyone else, can make use of.”

Erasmus raised his eyebrows. “You’ve opened them?”

All three shifted in their seats. Rooke spoke. “No. We have not opened them because there is no need. We already know what they contain and they have to remain sealed.”

Erasmus could raise his eyebrows no further. “Really? So what do they contain?”

***

Charlie led the way down the steep stairway cut into the sloping shaft. “It’s no more than ten or twenty years old. The wood still has local builders’ stamps on it.”

“You mean someone beat us to it? Damnation.” Terry clenched his fists.

“Here we are.” Charlie stopped at a hole lined with new wood. “We cut through a few feet of earth and the tunnel was already there. Looks like someone blocked it off but they didn’t do a very good job.” Ahead, the new wood changed to slightly older, darker wood lining the walls and roof of the tunnel. “I’ve sent the diggers home for the day. We don’t need them now and finding this spooked them a bit.” He grinned. “It spooked me a bit too, until I realised it was very recent.”

“Maybe they didn’t get as far as that entrance you found. Maybe they didn’t open it.” Terry bit into his lip. If they had lost out, future funding from the Blackthorn group would not be guaranteed.

“Maybe.” Charlie handed a flashlight to Terry and turned his own on, then started along the tunnel. “Nobody has been down this passage yet. It might not go all the way.”

***

“We can’t tell you.” Prosser folded his arms. “You just have to trust us.”

Erasmus smiled his broadest smile. “I won’t have to worry about trust. One of those chambers will be open soon. Doctor Rarity is digging into it as we speak.”

The effect was electric. Erasmus relaxed in his chair and wished he had brought popcorn. All three men shouted at once, all three pulled out cellphones and scrolled through screens of something or other. Contacts, Erasmus guessed, but who should they call first? Which of the many unexplored chambers, around the planet, was Doctor Rarity about to open?

Professor Rooke was first to grasp the dilemma. He quieted the others then turned to Erasmus, his phone gripped in his hand.

“Which one? Where are you digging?”

Erasmus steepled his fingers. “I can’t tell you that. You just have to trust me.” He could have laughed at the expression on Rooke’s face, but he managed – barely – to contain himself. This was the moment he had planned for all along and now it was here he had to stay in control. This was no time to collapse in helpless laughter. He could do that when his game was over.

Prosser banged his fist on the desk. “You don’t know what’s in there! You have no idea what you’ll release.”

“We’ll know soon enough.” Erasmus looked from one to the other. He had them in a corner, and the looks on their faces told him they knew it.

***

“The vibrations don’t seem so bad in here.” Terry ran his hand over his stomach. “I always feel as if I’m about to shit myself in the main shaft, but all I feel in here is a little bit queasy.”

“I think the vibrations come from the top of the pyramid and travel down the structure.” Charlie placed his hand on one of the side walls, then the other. “Yes, you can feel it on the side that’s next to the pyramid. Maybe the wooden walls attenuate it, or perhaps it’s all the earth that’s still piled against this side.”

“Interesting.” Terry tested the walls and nodded. “We’ll have to have a look at the top of this thing. Might be something we can sell to the military.”

“Well, this is where the tunnel turns a corner so we’re about halfway.” Charlie shone his flashlight along the tunnel. “This might get to the entrance after all.”

“I hope not.” Terry gritted his teeth. “I hope they gave up just before they reached it, and left it to us to finish the job.”

“That would be nice, but it’s a long shot. Nobody goes to this much trouble just to give up at the last minute.” Charlie started walking again.

***

Williamson closed his eyes and drew a long, slow breath. He opened them and faced Erasmus. “What will it take to stop your dig? Money?”

This time, Erasmus did laugh. “Money? I have more than I will ever need, thanks. No, you can’t buy me off. Try again.”

“What is it you want?” Prosser’s face showed defeat.

“It’s simple.” Erasmus tilted his head. “I want to know what’s in those chambers. That’s why I’m funding Doctor Rarity’s expedition. Really, there is nothing complicated about it, gentlemen. I just want to know.”

For several long minutes, they sat in silence. Finally, Rooke spoke.

“If we tell you, will you stop the dig?”

Erasmus kept his face impassive. “If you can convince me you’re telling the truth, and that it’s important to keep the chambers sealed, yes.”

“We can’t.” Prosser put his hand on Rooke’s arm. “This is too big to get out.”

Rooke’s laugh came out as a snort. “If he opens that chamber, it all gets out. And we have no idea how to put it back.”

“He’s right.” Williamson faced Erasmus. “We have to rely on your absolute discretion. Not one word of this can leave this room.”

“Of course.” Erasmus allowed himself a small smile. “I am a businessman, gentlemen. Keeping secrets is part of the job.”

“How much time do we have?” Rooke stared at the desk. “How long before he opens the chamber?”

“He will call me when he finds a way in. I want to be there when it opens. So we have a little time yet.” Erasmus put his elbows on the desk. “Begin at the beginning, Professor Rooke.”

***

“What the hell?” Charlie almost dropped his flashlight.

Terry battled the rising nausea in his insides. The vibrations had increased, massively and suddenly and the thing on the floor really wasn’t helping. He was sure his gut was going to violently empty at both ends, any second now.

“Charlie…” Terry retched. “Charlie, let’s get the hell out. We have to tell Mr. Blackthorn about this.”

“We should tell everyone.” Charlie stood immobile, his face in a shocked rictus.

“Charlie. Move. Now. Or I’m going without you.” Terry started down the tunnel. “Blackthorn is paying us. We tell him first.” He was relieved when he heard Charlie’s footsteps following, then terrified when his mind wondered if that was really Charlie following. After what they had seen… dare he look back?

Terry picked up the pace and tried not to break into a panicked run.

***

Professor Rooke tapped his finger on the desk a few times before he spoke. “You are no doubt aware of the, ah, conspiracy theories concerning ancient structures? The pyramids in Egypt, the Göbekli Tepe find, Gunung Padang in Indonesia, the Aztec and Inca ruins, even Stonehenge in England and so on? We have gone to great lengths to keep the things under them secret, even to the extent of announcing the Stonehenge chamber find on April 1st so everyone would think it was a joke.”

“The theories that they could not be constructed by modern technology, so must have been of alien origin?” Erasmus smirked. “Surely you aren’t going to give me a flying saucer story?”

“No.” Rooke’s face remained serious. “There was no alien involvement. Those structures were built by, and most were deliberately destroyed or buried by, humans. At a time long before our current ancestors were cavemen.”

“I have heard the ideas put around that those structures are so old, they must have been built while we were still making flint tools. It is a difficult idea to put credence in.” Erasmus raised his hand. “My apologies for the interruptions, Professor.”

“Not at all.” Rooke’s smile was tight and short lived. “This tale is going to get a lot stranger before the end.” He closed his eyes for a moment. “It was almost Utopia. One world, one language, one government with very few laws and most people did what they liked. The Tower of Babel story was almost real. No God did that, humanity broke itself apart deliberately. To save itself, or so they believed. The tinfoil hatters are partly right, but the loss of that advanced civilisation was not the result of a cataclysm. Not a global flood, not an asteroid, nothing like that.” He opened his eyes to look directly at Erasmus. “They destroyed it all themselves. All their records, all their achievements, all their technologies. They, in fact, tried to delete themselves from history and returned to the primitive life. They weren’t ‘contemporary with cavemen’ They became those cavemen. Deliberately.”

Erasmus shook his head. “Why?”

“They became morose.” Williams winced at Rooke’s glare. “Sorry. A bad joke.”

Rooke sighed. “Bad, but essentially correct.” He leaned forward on Erasmus’ desk. “They came to believe their technology was bad, that it was destroying the planet, that they were heading for a global catastrophe of their own making. It wasn’t true but they believed it and ‘morose’ is the reason. Or rather, Moros.”

Erasmus sat back in his chair, rummaging in his brain for his memories of that name. “Moros was part of Greek mythology. He brought mortals to their doom. I’d have to look up the details, I don’t remember this particular character very well.”

“You won’t need to. Moros was a real entity. As were most of those in the various pantheons of gods. Memories of the old times, passed down and corrupted. Did you ever notice how every single religion has one ‘chief’ god and then a lot of lesser gods, or angels, or demons, with specific jobs? They are all memories of the same thing. The things the ancients woke, or activated, or perhaps even created, with their technology.”

“You don’t know?” Erasmus raised one eyebrow.

“There are only fragments left. They did a very good job of erasing themselves. We have a good picture but it’s incomplete.”

“I understand. So this Moros was human?” Erasmus folded his arms and leaned forward, fascinated.

“No. We have not been able to determine exactly what he, and others, were. They might have been in human form but they were not human. They certainly didn’t like humans very much.” Rooke snorted. “They spent their time convincing humanity it was doomed, on any level they could get a grip on. They were the ones telling people they were causing their own destruction and they were so convincing, so believable, that humans trying to avoid their own destruction actually caused it.”

“So Moros led them to self-destruction, as the legends say.” Erasmus sniffed. “However, I don’t see how this leads to what is in the chambers. Is it the knowledge they tried to delete? If so, that would be worth a great deal.”

Rooke shook his head. “We have some of their technology but we dare not release it, nor use it. Something in their work called up, or let loose, or created Moros and his gang of doomsayers and we don’t know what it was. We do know they deliberately tried to destroy or hide absolutely all of it but we don’t know which parts are dangerous.”

“Well, surely this Moros is long dead by now so you can’t call him up again,” Erasmus said.

Prosser spluttered. “Aren’t you listening? Moros might have been created by their technology so if we try to use it, we might create another one. And this time we don’t know how to lock it away.”

“I was getting to that.” Rooke said. “It’s worse than Doctor Prosser suggests. Moros, and his underlings, once created or released or whatever happened, turned out to be immortal.”

Prosser piped up. “Also unkillable. The damn thing is indestructible and that’s why we don’t want to accidentally make another.”

Erasmus whistled. “You’re telling me this Moros is locked in one of those chambers, right?”

“Exactly right.” Rooke leaned further forward. “His gang, his brood, whatever you want to call them, are in the other chambers. Someone worked out how to snare them but we haven’t found any record of how they did it. They erased everything and put humans back to the stone age to start again.”

“If they had the threat contained, why didn’t they just go back to the way things were? Rebuild their civilisation?”

“When the lie gets big enough it cannot be contained. Even when the originator is out of circulation. These were people, just like us, with the same failings. They continued to believe they had to shut everything down.” Williamson shrugged. “We don’t know for sure, of course, but our best guess is that Moros was contained too late. Those who contained him realised that they had to hide all evidence of what they had done and hope no future generations ever found the chambers.”

Rooke smiled. “Curiosity doesn’t just kill cats, Mr. Blackthorn. Your expedition could well kill everyone. If those things get out, we don’t know how to put them back.” He sat back in his chair. “That is why those chambers must never be opened. Or at least, not until we know how to contain the things within them.”

Erasmus considered this. “I agree,” he said. “An overt demon would commit atrocities, and humanity would react at once. A subtle demon like Moros does not destroy. He incites people to destroy themselves. He could build his plan over decades without being noticed. Sowing division and hate and paranoia until humanity collapses under its own fear. I will of course keep your secret and stop the dig as soon as Doctor Rarity calls me.”

“Thank you, Mr. Blackthorn.” Williams wore a look of relief, as did the others. “Will you now tell us where he is digging?”

“In the one place I didn’t apply for permits. The least known place of all the places so far discovered.” Erasmus grinned. “In Croatia, Sevastopol. The buried pyramid discovered by Vitaly Goh in 2001.”

“Oh my God. We were just in time.” Prosser put his face in his hands.

Rooke shut his eyes, tight. “It’s the least known place because it’s the one we tried to keep most secret. It’s where Moros is contained and if he gets out he can release all the others.”

Williamson scoffed. “He’d never get in. The pyramid has a subsonic generator to deter humans and is loaded with asphyxiants. Try to break through and you’ll die.”

“Fortunately, Doctor Goh documented these things before the military took over the area.” Erasmus steepled his fingers. “I sent Doctor Rarity in with full knowledge of those traps. And I’m afraid keeping things secret is very difficult in this digital age. YouTube, in particular, is becoming quite a resource.”

Rooke nodded. “The military have been in control of the area since. They were instructed to leave it alone.” He looked at Erasmus. “I suppose they have become lax, and open to bribery, since they started?”

Erasmus laughed. “Quite so. An army guarding a hole in the ground for almost two decades does become easily distracted. It wasn’t what they signed up for.”

“It’s no laughing matter.” Prosser scowled. “This conversation might just have saved us all from going back to another stone age, although this time Moros might have finished us. We might also have saved your life, Mr. Blackthorn. Moros has been in the box for tens of thousands of years. He will need sustenance. He’ll suck all the life out of the first person he hits when the door is open.”

***

“Damn this phone. Why is it taking so long?” Terry glared at the screen, at the low bars of the reception indicator. “If we had WiFi here we could have contacted him that way.”

“Military wouldn’t allow it in case we tapped into their systems.” Charlie sat with his hands in his lap, staring at the floor. “Do you think they know?”

“Of course they know. That corpse was in military uniform. The same uniform they wear on the base.” Terry’s phone beeped. “At last. Hello? I have to speak with Mr. Erasmus Blackthorn. It’s urgent.”

“That corpse looked mummified. Like it was a thousand years old.” Charlie lowered his head. “How can that be?”

“Quiet, Charlie.” Terry waved his hand.

The woman’s voice on the phone said: “Mr. Blackthorn is in a meeting. Can you call back?”

“No. No, this is very important. Tell him it’s Doctor Rarity. He knows who I am and he’ll understand why it’s important I speak to him at once.”

There was a pause. “I’ll get a message to him but I don’t think he’ll be pleased. He doesn’t like being interrupted in meetings. Please hold.”

Appalling, tinny music drifted from the phone. “Jesus H. Christ!” Terry forced his grip to relax in case he accidentally crushed the phone in his fingers.

The woman’s voice returned, sounding rather less pompous than before. “Mr. Blackthorn will take your call. I’m putting you through, Doctor Rarity.”

Terry braced himself. This was likely to be the worst phone call of his life.

***

Erasmus opened a drawer in his desk and took out an ashtray, lighter, and a box of cigars. “I think this meeting is a success, don’t you, gentlemen?” He offered the cigars around. All three declined.

“Isn’t it illegal to smoke in your place of work?” Prosser scowled at him.

“Probably.” Erasmus lifted a cigar and clipped the ends. “Some of us just don’t care.”

“Perhaps we should have let you die when that chamber opened. It would be one less smoker on the planet.” Prosser’s face twisted in a sneer.

“Oh, I had no intention of opening it. No need, really.” He lit his cigar. “You see, gentlemen, I wanted you here at this precise moment for a reason. Have you been watching the news? Have you followed the insanity of the world lately? It had a sudden onset, didn’t it?”

“What are you talking about?” Rooke narrowed his eyes.

“Well, sure, there has always been a low-level insanity in society. That’s normal. The last decade or so though, it has ramped up enormously. Didn’t you notice?” Erasmus took a puff and blew a blue cloud into the air. “After your description of the end of that advanced civilisation, did you really not notice?”

Williamson blinked. “Notice what?”

A light blinked on the phone. Cigar clamped in his teeth, Erasmus checked the message on its LCD screen. ‘Dr. Rarity calling. Do I put him through?’ Erasmus picked up the phone. “Yes, Melissa, put him on. He is relevant to this meeting.” He put the phone on ‘speaker’ and replaced the handset then answered Williamson. “Noticed what I’m about to tell you you should have noticed. If only you scientists had put windows in those ivory towers.”

“What?” Rooke leaned forward. “Do you have information we should know?”

“A great deal.” Erasmus grinned. “And some you’ll never know. This information though, is something you would never have accepted had I not set up this proof.”

“We are scientists.” Prosser’s sneer intensified. “We deal in facts and reality, not the pipe dreams of some money-oriented business-suited smoker.”

“Shut up, Prosser.” Rooke glared at him. “There’s something going on here and we have to listen.”

He’s getting the idea, Erasmus thought. The phone beeped to signal a call coming through.

“Hello? Mr. Blackthorn?” Terry’s voice crackled through the bad connection. “It’s Terry Rarity.”

Blackthorn took a puff of his cigar and relaxed in his chair. “Yes, Doctor Rarity. You are speaking to me, Professor Rooke, Professor Williamson and Doctor Prosser. You may speak freely.”

“Prosser? That arse?”

Erasmus feigned a coughing fit but noticed the little smirk on Rooke’s face. “Yes, and as I said, we can all hear you.”

“Never mind. Look, we found the entrance and it’s open. There’s nothing in there.”

Erasmus took a slow drag on his cigar. “I told you not to open it until I was there.” His voice stayed calm. The other three did not.

“You opened it? You bloody idiot!” Prosser shouted.

“I didn’t open it. It was already open.” Terry yelled from the speaker. “Listen. There’s a corpse, looks mummified but is in modern military uniform. There’s a tunnel that Charlie reckons is no more than ten to twenty years old. Someone beat us to it. Calm the hell down, I’m still trying to get this into perspective in my head.”

“Would anyone like a whisky?” Erasmus opened another drawer and lifted out a decanter and some glasses.

“You don’t seem to be at all surprised.” Rooke shook his head. “You knew about this?”

“No, I didn’t know for sure, but I suspected.” Erasmus poured himself a whisky then set the decanter on the desk. “Help yourselves, gentlemen.” He tapped ash from his cigar. “This is exactly what I have been expecting.”

“Expecting?” Terry shouted from the speaker. “You sent me on a wild goose chase?”

“What the hell do you mean, you expected it?” Rooke narrowed his eyes.

Erasmus held up his hands. “Gentlemen, please, calm down. We can discuss this in a civil fashion.”

“You don’t seem to think there is any urgency.” Prosser’s face had turned bright red. “Didn’t you listen?”

Erasmus sighed. “Doctor Rarity has already told us that the chamber has been open for over a decade. The results you fear are already under way.”

“What results? What’s going on?” Terry sounded baffled.

“Doctor Rarity, thank you for your work on this. I will of course continue to fund the expedition, although you might want to let the military know they have a body down there.”

“But the chamber—”

“Is empty, yes.” Blackthorn steepled his fingers. “There is still the matter of the subsonic generator. Find that, and it’s likely to be worth a fortune.”

“Well…” Terry muttered.

“Take a few days off. Give your staff a break too. You’ll need to let the military collect the corpse anyway.”

There was a pause. “Okay.” Terry sounded calmer. “Thanks, Mr. Blackthorn.”

“Keep me updated. Goodbye for now, Doctor Rarity.” Blackthorn switched off the phone. He faced the others. “Well, gentlemen, we can talk now. I suspect this matter is not something we should be letting Doctor Rarity know about yet, given his delight in publicity.”

“Absolutely.” Williams nodded.

“That publicity hound would have it on every front page.” Prosser sneered.

Rooke leaned forward. “Why are we here, Mr. Blackthorn? You seem to already know everything.”

“Not at all,” Erasmus said. “I knew the chambers existed, of course. Every late-night geek rummaging on YouTube knows about them. However, I had no idea what was in them. I congratulate you on keeping that part very quiet, by the way. I really didn’t know about Moros and his gang of dark whisperers. In fact, I doubt I would ever have thought of that name. He was a very minor character in the mythology we are taught nowadays. No, all I had was a feeling that the buried pyramid in Croatia was likely to have been breached. The little I had heard of the place made it, logically, almost inevitable. I didn’t know what was in there but I had a feeling something was released.”

“Just feelings? That’s a thin reason to pay for an archaeological expedition.” Prosser blinked. “You must have had more?”

Erasmus nodded. “I have noticed a massive increase in what I would term ‘general lunacy’ all over the world. It started in the early 2000s. So I began searching for a link, something big, something that happened around that time. Vitaly Goh’s discovery was the biggest anomalous event of the time and it was being kept rather quiet, I thought.”

“But he didn’t open the chamber. He didn’t get very far at all.” Rooke shrugged. “Once we realised what he had found, we persuaded the government of the time to declare it a military base and close it. That put a stop to his and all other digs. Until now.”

“Not quite.” Erasmus pursed his lips. “You didn’t think it through, you know. That pyramid contains a subsonic generator that has operated with no apparent power source for tens of thousands of years. Clearly, this is something of interest to a weapons technologist and most definitely of interest to the military.” He paused for breath. “Gentlemen, you put a military base on top of a potentially useful weapon and told them to leave it alone. Of course they didn’t leave it alone.”

“Oh, shit.” Rooke put his face in his hands.

“My guess is that they opened it within a year of you closing it down. Which means Moros was released in 2002 or 2003. Which fits with when the world really started cracking up.” Erasmus took a sip of his whisky and stubbed out his cigar.

“Doesn’t make sense,” Williamson said. “If they got as far as opening it and lost a man in the process, why didn’t they carry on looking for that generator?”

“As with all of this, we can only guess at most of it.” Erasmus refilled his glass. “Maybe Moros caused them to forget what was down there. Maybe they were scared – soldiers are human too, remember. Maybe they decided to close the dig until they could find another way in. Maybe… maybe they thought they’d let some actual archaeologists do the job and pick up the device when they found it.” He waved his hand. “Any guess is as good as any other at this point.”

“And none of them matter.” Prosser glowered. “Moros is out, and has been for almost two decades. He’s had plenty of time to release all the others. Who knows what they might have been doing?”

Erasmus snorted. “Really? After all you’ve just told me? You don’t know what they’ve been up to?” He held up his hand and unfolded one finger at a time. “The planet is doomed unless we give up all our technology. People are splitting into smaller and smaller factions and fighting over differences that really don’t matter. People are outraged if someone utters one word out of place.” He closed his hand and banged the desk. “And so much more. How could you not have noticed, when you were the ones with the answer to why it was happening?”

Rooke still had his hands over his face. He lowered them to reveal new lines in his skin. “We thought the chambers were intact. We didn’t know.”

“Ha!” Erasmus bared his teeth. “And if you had known where Doctor Rarity was digging, you would have blocked it and we still wouldn’t know.” He sighed. “Well there’s no point getting angry about it. Pandora’s box is open.”

Williamson laughed, a hollow sound. “Box? This is Pandora’s entire luggage set for a year-long round-the-world cruise. We were supposed to be the baggage handlers and we’ve lost the lot.”

Erasmus stood and leaned on his desk. “Gentlemen, I will need access to every bit of that ancient technology you have deciphered. Every fragment, no matter how apparently inconsequential. If we are to put this thing back in its box, we need every clue available, and it is not going to be easy. Whatever trick those ancient people used to get Moros and his horde contained will not work again. We have to know what that trick was, and how they made those containment chambers.” He stared at the three stunned faces before him. “What do we do first?”

Rooke eyed the decanter. “I think I’d like to accept that drink now.”

No rest for the wicked

I hadn’t realised just how much time I’ve spent on publishing recently until I found my belt had shrunk. That trim waist, honed by four years of heavy physical work, has been undone by eight months of solid writing and publishing. I have to get back in shape to deal with the monster garden. It’s all starting to grow fast now.

Four books in eight months. Three of them multi-author books. Not bad for a one-man-and-one-woman-who-also-has-a-full-time-job operation, I think.

Yes, Transgenre Dreams is done. The eBooks will show up fast, the print book requires me to proofread and approve it after Amazon manually check it’s going to print okay. Could take a few days, but it’s all loaded up and ready to roll. Just have to hope there are no mistakes in it or the process goes around again.

The eBooks have a complex linking system with three menus – a main menu, a poetry menu and an ‘about the authors’ menu and of course, all those ‘back to menu’ links. I’m just waiting for someone to find a glitch.

The print book is quite pricey this time – for those ‘who funds you’ obsessives out there, I’ll make 30p per book. My investment in it was just shy of £250 plus a lot of time. As with all the others, I doubt it will make breakeven any time soon. I’d have to sell about 900 copies, at a rough estimate. That could take a while.

That wasn’t the point. Not for any Underdog Anthologies. They come under ‘advertising’. They showcase the authors and the genres Leg Iron Books covers, which is pretty much anything legal and halfway decent. I’d rather see the volume sales in the single-author novels/anthologies and we have some brilliant ones in the catalogue. Also some of mine.

There are at least two novels and a technical book on the way that I know about, but fortunately none are imminent because, frankly, I could do with a rest.

I’m not going to get one. My parents arrive for a visit tomorrow and I am slated for jury service on the 10th April, halfway through that visit. The house is not quite ready for visitors. CStM has worked her fingers to the bone while I’ve been swearing at the slow connection while loading up the books. If she wasn’t here, this place would have become a shithole over the last eight months. Once this visit is over I have promised to buy her that soft ice cream making machine she’s been ogling. She really has earned it.

The spiders and beetles are awake and I have no idea what those spiders hope to catch but some of their webs are immense. There are webs appearing all over the place. On the plus side, the mice have stopped coming in since the dog found out she gets bacon every time she kills one. Now she’s actively hunting them. The mousetraps have seen no action at all this winter.

Tomorrow I have to move this office upstairs because this room is also the guest room. My father is 80 and doesn’t cope well with the long steep twisty staircase here. I have until about 2 pm to do it. The room I move it into is the one room the spiders don’t seem to like but we mostly use upstairs for storage because there’s no heating in any of those rooms. That’s not too bad now and okay in summer but really, nobody goes up there in winter.

I love this house and its inbuilt weirdness but I won’t buy it. Renting will do. It really needs a family or someone who can afford staff. There are servants’ quarters but they would need a lot of work – we use them as attics since there’s no heating in them and the fireplaces are sealed. They are also 1600/1700 style servant rooms. No modern staff would even go in there. It would take a lottery win, a big one, to convince me to buy this place (Since I don’t buy lottery tickets my chance of winning is slightly lower than someone who does) Even though it is older than two local tourist attractions – and has a more mature garden too.

Open it to the public? What? Why do you think I moved way out here in the first place? It was to get away from the public. I’m not going to invite them round.

I’ll take a break from publishing and writing until the end of April, I think. I’ll have considerable grass cutting and planting duties after the visit and jury nonsense is over, and I really do need to lose some of this winter fat layer.

CStM also needs a rest. She has worked hard to keep this place in some kind of shape while I’ve been tied up with writing and editing and publishing. It’s too big for one person to deal with. Even though we live in the same house she has seen little of me for eight months. Fortunately she’s as unsociable as I am so it kind of works but it’s not a good long term plan.

To be fair, someone could move in here and we wouldn’t notice until things went missing from the fridge and the toilet flushed at mysterious times. But we’d probably just blame the ghost.

I would like to get back to blogging about politics and antismokers but really, both have become so unbelievably silly that it is impossible to parody them now. Even the Church of Climatology is beyond parody – warning about warming while ice sheets gain millions of tonnes of ice. Yes, sure, it’s not a religion, but you have to Believe or we will face the End Times…

I’ll just put it into stories. Maybe it’ll trigger some sense in someone, somewhere, who thinks they are just reading entertainment. I bet someone is thinking ‘Goebbels’ now. It’s Legiron’s Law, a subset of Godwin’s.

Oh hell. I’m going to post ‘Pandora’s Lost Luggage’ next. It’s from Transgenre Dreams and I don’t think it’s the best story in there by a long way even though I wrote it.

Well, life is like a train delay. You just have to put up with it until it’s over.

The choice that isn’t

Jerry Cordite has been filmed saying that people should not be attacked because they choose to be gay. Choose. If you are gay, did you get a choice on that?

I am a straight white man. Fortunately my high content of toxic masculinity lets me say ‘fuck off’ to anyone who hates me because of my non-choice in the matter – but I did not choose this.

If I had been given a choice I might have gone for bisexual. I might have had a lot of fun with that. But there was no choice. I am what I am and you are what you are.

I don’t care about your sexual preferences. Really. If you are gay, well have a good time, I won’t be involved but you enjoy yourselves.

I have not met many lesbians that I know about but I have met many gay men, some of them so camp they’d make Julian Clary blush. They all made me smile, most made me laugh. I would never feel threatened by any of them. They were wonderful people, full of the joy of who they are and fully accepting of who they are. They knew their lives and not only accepted it, they embraced it and made it their own.

As did I, as a straight white male. This is me. I am hetero. I am cis in the new pretend science. My skin lacks pigmentation. I was ginger before it went grey. I have danglies between my legs. You want to hate me for things that were not my choice? Go on then.

While you have your hate ramped up to lunatic dribbling, why not add in that I smoke too. And drink whisky way, way beyond any Puritan diktat. Go on, get that blood pressure up. You know you want to. Fill that brow with Righteous sweat, fill your mind with the terror of finding some heretic who won’t play by the rules. Pump up those forehead pusles.

If you step back, look at the Georgia guidestones and other clues, you’ll soon figure it out,

Gay people and straight people do not matter. Black and white people do not matter. The end point cares nothing for religion nor sexual preference nor for skin colour. Agenda 21 wants us all dead.

You can be straight or gay or black or white and they are going to kill you anyway. They have a plan. You are useful now but when the plan is complete, you are in the way. Ask Lenin.


Something kinda hit me today…

I’ve been watching weird stuff on YouTube again. These days I don’t get anywhere near as drunk as I used to, so I need a new source of story ideas and the darker recesses of YouTube are a goldmine.

So I was watching a reporter trying and failing to take apart David Icke’s theories and remembered something.

I know, I know, Icke is mad, he talks about lizard people but… that’s what I remembered.

Back in the early 70s when I was still just touching my teens and still had a geeky fascination with the dinosaurs of millions of years ago, there was a thing. A scientific theory that over the millenia they had existed, an intelligent dinosaur had started to appear. Not a brachiosaur or a triceratops or a tyrannosaur, this was a smaller, roughly human sized species. Not blessed with massive teeth or claws but instead developing the intelligence to stay out of the way.

And then it was gone. No trace of that research remained.

I had to consider. Could a smart lizard have got through the extinction event that didn’t actually kill the dinosaurs? They aren’t gone, they are at your bird table and in the swamps of Florida and India and Australia now. They didn’t die, they adapted. And they adapted very well, even though the average sparrow is as smart as an unplaned plank.

So, if that intelligent or pre-intelligent dinosaur existed, where are they now?

Consider. If this exists it has had millenia to develop before the dawn of humans. Humans can hypnotise each other now, in seconds. I am not an expert hypnotist, not at all. I have personally convinced antismokers of absurdities with mere words. A good hypnotist (human) can have a two hour conversation with you and you won’t remember a word of it. Nor will you remember giving them your bank details. Yes. That happens.

Shape-shifting is not necessary. Humans are incredibly gullible creatures. You can be made to see a human face on a lizard by modern hypnotists, never mind by those who have had millenia to perfect their art.

Okay, you can call me mad now. I’ve been called worse. I am in the Icke world of ‘I don’t care’.

Remember a film called ‘They Live’? How about a TV series called ‘V’? Dr. Who’s subterranean lizard race. We keep coming back to it like we’re giving ourselves clues.

Or maybe it’s just fantasy. Maybe we are just looking for someone else to blame for our fucked up lives.

But again, it’s clear someone wants humanity reduced to a slave race. The Georgia Guidestones are clear on this and that is literally set in stone. Agenda 21 is similarly a matter of public scrutiny. It’s no conspiracy theory.

Desrtruction of the money generating base drones makes no sense if the world is run by rich people who want to get richer. Who will make all the fancy shit if we all live in mud huts and eat turnips?

What use is billions of dollars when there is nothing to buy?

The rich idiots are being suckered like the rest of us. I am wondering whether it is the lizard stuff or the rich family stuff I should discount from Icke’s theories. The lizards care nothing for our money, and neither they nor the rich boys care anything for us.

Money is not real. It’s numbers on a screen backed up by nothing. It’s illusion. As is everything else.

It does not matter what you are ‘worth’ in monetary terms because if money is not real then neither are you.

We are all the same in the end. Megarich or megapoor, makes no difference. We are all doing what we are told.

______________________

I have a print copy of the pre-edit version of Norman’s House for the first person to tell me in comments the artist, album and song that has the first line I used for this post title. Only five copies exist. One day it might be worth almost whole pound, you never know.

Jury service. Again.

The first time I got the call for jury service was ten years ago. At that time I thought ‘Okay, could be interesting’. There is a number you have to call the night before you are due to attend and I was cancelled by phone. Nothing happened.

The second time was five years ago. Business was slow and being locked into impending jury service meant I could not take on any project that might overlap the set dates. I also could not give definite times for my availability after the date in case I ended up on some long, drawn-out trial. In the event, I attended but was not selected.

The business did not recover. Companies wanting research and testing want it done now or at least at a definite date. Most went elsewhere and didn’t come back. You don’t get referrals from other people’s customers so it just faded out. I finally gave up for good and closed the lab in December.

Meanwhile I had started up the publishing business. I knew it wouldn’t be a quick start. I had to learn a lot of new stuff, especially marketing. I really did start from zero on that one.

It’s really just now starting to come together. Leg Iron Books has its own website and Facebook page and I have begun trying to word a few good Facebook ads. Their prices start at £23, which isn’t bad, but a badly worded ad is worse than no ad at all. Just getting into the swing of things and…

I had a letter today. Jury service again. I have been ‘randomly selected’ every five years (they apparently have to leave a five year gap) compared to many people I know, of my age and older, who have never been selected.

Last time, I was trying to revive a business that was starting to struggle. Being seen as unreliable, because I couldn’t give fixed dates for anything, finished that business (there was another factor but talking about that will land me with a jury of my own, and I can’t prove it). Once the last contracts were done, that was it.

This time they strike when I’m just getting a new business underway. It might sound paranoid but it really does feel as though they are trying to kill this one too.

If I am selected, they will have the most reluctant juror they have ever had. I will do my utmost to get it over with as fast as possible. There is no public transport out here, I will have to drive to Aberdeen every day and it’s not an easy drive from here. I’ll have to leave early and get home late, try to eat something and sleep a few hours before the next round.

I will have no time for anything else.

I also have my parents visiting in April and the court date – April 10 – is right in the middle of their visit. One week later and it wouldn’t have mattered so much. Oh I’ll call on Monday and see if they can change the date but if, as I suspect, they act without sympathy or compassion they can expect this juror to do the same.

I am going into this in a very bad mood. Three bloody times they have done this. The first time it would have been okay, the second and third times are starting to feel personal. Am I going to get this shit every five years until I get over 70?

Well this time I am going to be prepared. I will have the next anthology done before April and I will have Facebook ads ready to roll before then too. It will probably mean I’ll be incommunicado while they run but that can’t be helped.

The worst part is that it could mean that any book submissions in April could go unread for a long while. Again, that will make me look unreliable in the eyes of the authors submitting and I could well lose a few while the legal system plays with my life once more.

I’m starting to think that getting banged up for something for a few months could be worth it. That would disqualify me from jury service for good.

The terror!

Apologies for being uncommunicative. It is Granddaughter’s first birthday so I have been the typical Grandad who buys no sensible presents. I have also been finalising ‘Norman’s House’ with the help of Roobeedoo and CStM and one other and it will be on time, as promised, for release in under a week. Also, I have been getting to grips with marketing. Why anyone voluntarily does that job is a mystery.

Dry January has ended and I made it through. I did it. I succeeded in having a drink every single day for the whole month. I also got right through Veganuary with similar success, aided by bacon and eggs and Danish cooking and cheap meat paste. Now I wait to see what silly, petty, pointless fad I have to defy for Fuckituary.

In between I have made rare visits to Quora. My latest visit was the perfect chance to inject terror into both the antimokers and the followers of the Green God at the same time.

Yes, that’s me, but if you’ve at all followed my books you already knew that.

All I did was tell the truth. That is enough to terrify them now. I used to have to make stuff up, like when I told some poor woman that all grey dust was cigarette ash that had been building for four hundred years and never decays. Actually, the ‘never decays’ part wasn’t my invention. The antismokers had already convinced their drones of that part. I just embellished it.

I don’t have to make anything up any more. Reality is now officially more terrifying than fiction to these people. It’s so, so easy now.

I have a feeling it’s going to get even easier.