“Sidney?” the upper-class Dublin accent broke into Sidney’s thoughts, causing him to mentally kick himself at the fact that somebody had managed to walk up behind him in spite of the mirror that ran behind the bar. The man who addressed him from his left was taller and thinner than himself, with slicked-back blonde hair. Pinned to the man’s left lapel was a yellow badge with the insignia of the Royal Army Medical Corps.
“Robbie Hickie! Fancy meeting you here.”
The other man grinned, exposing a missing canine tooth underneath the blonde moustache that had been waxed to points. “My favourite watering hole, actually. Haven’t seen you since New Year! I take it you’re on leave?”
“Indeed, I am.” Sidney turned back to accept his glass of whiskey, automatically thanking the barman as he paid, before looking back at Hickie. “What are you having?”
I hate the night. Nothing good comes out of it. Brigands, wolves, bears, you name it. There’s a reason nobody back in the foothills of my homeland goes out at night unless they need to. And it’s not the local vampires; they’ll extract a price for it, but they’ll at least guide a farmer home safely.
Down here in the Sydfjords, worse things come out of it.
Above is the cover for my next collection, focussing on the containment efforts around the Connacht Disaster Zone and other countries’ efforts to exploit it. I haven’t settled on the release date yet, but as usual, it will be available from BuyMeACoffee (pay what you want).
Diarmuid morosely looked up from the lukewarm sink that held two stained metal plates, and narrowed his eyes as he beheld the stocky younger boy with the fangs and green patches of skin next to the draining board. “What is it, Grady?”
“Me name’s Tomás. Nurse said you could use a hand.”
“I could. And mine’s Diarmuid. Not Red, or Red-Eyes, or freak…” he trailed off with an irritable sigh. Grady briefly exposed more of his fangs as his mouth silently worked, before he picked up a tea-towel and began to wipe the plate that lay on the draining board. For a few minutes, neither spoke as Diarmuid focussed on scrubbing the plates and tried to ignore the sidelong glances the other boy gave him. Eventually, he couldn’t take it any more.
“Go on…you want to say something, just get it out.”
I have about 30 stories in the Connacht Disaster Zone series, and a lot of them share common themes or an overarching narrative. So, I’ve decided that I might as well combine them with some appropriate artwork. All of these will be available via a new page, and here’s the first one.
She couldn’t move.
Her heart pounded in time with the squeak of the trolley wheels as she struggled futilely against the straps that dug into her limbs and chest. The sharp smell of antiseptic assaulted her nostrils, growing ever stronger, and stronger, and-
“Feisty bitch, ain’t she?” somebody remarked. Her head twisted upwards and to the right, eyes locking onto the dwarf who leered at her, exposing teeth that were stained from smoking tea. Emblazoned on his right chest was that logo – that rounded vertical rectangle around those three letters.
The machine that stood on the counter gleamed. Its shiny metallic body rose from a rounded, well-polished wooden base, curving up towards a boxy tower on one end and an alcove at the other. An array of brass plates adorned the front of the machine, marking the buttons, rounded glass light housings and an embossed slot in a font that appeared to have been delicately carved from the metal itself. In one corner, a thick black cable snaked around behind towards the wall.
“Is that made of silver?” Aoife asked, pointing at the machine, eliciting a few smiles from the other children in the room as they gathered around it. Her twin brother Ciaran gingerly reached forward to tap at the corner near him, where somebody had intricately carved some larger words and the number 418 in what looked like English. His face and body immediately slumped as he found out that it felt too hard to be silver.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! But what about that of the Dwarven League?
The knock on the door was something that Colonel Munro had been expecting for the last five or ten minutes, after the telephone on his desk had warned him that the visitors had arrived at the inner security checkpoints. Closing the pair of dossiers and the report that lay on his desk, he looked up and barked a command to enter. His adjutant swung the door open, announcing that the visitors from the Containment Office had arrived.
“Send them in, Cole. And have somebody fetch Dr Magnusson,” Munro ordered, standing up. The lieutenant withdrew and stepped aside, revealing a pair of nuns who were both clad in dark khaki habits. The one on Munro’s right was just about four feet high, with larger eyes and a pair of sun goggles dangling around her neck – clearly a woman of the tunnels. The other one was apparently human and, with far fewer lines on her face, appeared to be younger. Neither bore any obvious sign of a particular order, but they didn’t need to.