Stories from a Dublin Scientist

Month: July, 2013


My fellow countrymen,

I the course of this war we have taken many a big risk, gambled often for victory and I regret to inform you that, this time, we have lost. Our evil, insidious enemy has cost us dearly, many of our sons will not be coming home.

But we remain.

And I guarantee that while we stand, as long as we band together as one, we will never be defeated. From our brave boys at the front to the men and women toiling in the fields and factories we are one nation, stronger than ever and there is nothing that we can’t do.

Our enemies may have won this day. But I swear to you; our loss will be avenged.

We’ll strike back with such righteous fury that those villains will be scarred for generations to come. Their children’s children will be told stories of what we did to scare them in the middle of the night, their nightmares will sound to the march of our boots. My fellow countrymen, they will rue the day they ever took arms against us.

But, alas, this will be for later. For now, we must rebuild, we must prepare. Each and every one of you must take their fair share of the burden. You must grab with both hands the rifle or the shovel with which we will secure our eventual victory. We must not flag, we must not tire, we must work every day and night until victory is finally achieved.

I have heard that some people may have expressed doubts about our course, some people suggest that we would be better pursuing an avenue of peace, one of conciliation with the enemy.

Well let me tell you; I love peace, we all do. But I will only accept peace in the surrender of the enemy and our victory. I anyone who says any different is no better than our treacherous foe.

We may have been defeated my friends

But we’ll have vengeance.


Written for Trifecta week eighty-eight.


The coronation of the new emperor was a roaring success, the partying throughout the land continued well into the night and it was quite close to dawn when Boris III staggered, very inebriated back towards the royal apartments. Losing his balance he knocked against a table and caused a vase, a very expensive gift from a distant cousin and ally, to fall to the ground. The emperor lifted it back up to inspect it and thankfully it was not damaged except for a thin crack on the neck. He placed it back assuming that no one would notice and continued his stagger to bed.

The thing is; a great number of the nobles and upperclasses in the empire make it their business to know the tiniest minuté of the imperial household. Word quickly spread that he was adding cracks to the porcelain. Others got the idea that if it was good enough for the emperor than it was good enough for them.

For a few days, the sound of crockery being dropped could be heard around the town. Many a priceless antique was lost to this merciless trend before people sought a better way.

The craftsmen were only too willing help, for a fee of course. Using special tools they took people’s vases and etched in the finest scars onto their surface. They even developed the knack of adding cracks when firing. Pre-cracked was the new black.

Those who couldn’t afford to have their porcelain broken tried other methods to keep with the fashion. A new market in second-hand broken wares began to grow. Reports were heard of people paying good money for a cracked vase only to find the cracks had been painted on.

The emperor never said anything; he didn’t have to, everyone knew he was touched by his people trying to emulate him. Everybody was happy.

That was of course until the emperor fell asleep with a lit cigarette and burned out his bedroom.

After that things really got strange.

Written for trifecta week eighty-six

Picture it and Write: Order

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again; the picture is not mine, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway Enjoy!


Jan came into the movement while it was still small. It was then just a few disaffected people talking in the pub, nothing coherent or really organised, just a group of people who cared.

As the corruption and incompetence grew so did the movement. Some members with charisma started to act as de facto leaders spreading the movements message out into the general population. They did not preach dogma, the stifling hand of ideology, but rather a call for action. The call resonated with many and many joined up, eager for something to make a difference.

At last, after many years it had come to this. Across the square from government buildings stood a heaving crowd. Twenty thousand people with as many ideas for the nation united in the belief that nothing would be better while those in power where still there.

In front of them stood a thin line of blue, less than a thousand police, riot shield and helmet menacingly on display, the lurking presence of tear gas and water cannon behind them. Severely outnumbered; their presence had kept the crowd at bay, made them keep their distance, for a while. But things were starting to stir.

Something happened. Jan saw one lone figure emerge from the crowd and start running towards the police. It was a young man, grubby and wearing a scarf over his face. In his right hand he held a bottle, burning rags emerging from the end. He pulled his arm back ready throw. The crowds eyes all fell on this loan warrior. Jan knew he had to act.

There was a shot. The young man fell in a cloud of crimson. The bottle fell to his side, breaking open and dousing the prostrate body in flame. The rest of the crowd was silent; stunned by what they had just seen. Some in the back started to run away, the runner’s end too final for them.

Jan shifted the stock of the rifle against his blue police uniform. He believed in many of their goals; knew a lot of them personally. But he had an oath to uphold. He was there to maintain order; nothing would get in the way of that.



Writing Style

Type, delete, repeat!


Written for Trifecta’s trifextra challenge week seventy-six.

The Live Joe2

Hi there! As I said before; I have been storytelling for some years now. The stories are told live and are usually made up just for the event that they are told. I have managed to get my mitts on the recordings of a couple of these. They are not perfect recordings, sometimes they can be a little hard to hear, you can hear heckling and laughter from the audience. Still I hope you can hear a little bit on this what you read in my written works. Anyway; Enjoy!

Political Discourse

In other news; Parliament began their deliberations on the new Traffic Bill. Minister William O’Brien told the house that it was a much needed piece of legislation.

“After many years of stepping around the issue by previous administrations this government had finally taken action to bring much needed clarity to the law on our roads.”

However this piece of political point-scoring did not go down well with the opposition. Their leader, Deputy James Phillipson was scathing.

“You will find Minister that this legislation bares a striking resemblance to a bill my party drew up when last in government but which was maliciously blocked by the action of your own party. Still; such gaping memory malfunctions can only be expected from a minister who can’t seem to remember how the money in his bank account doubled so mysteriously.”

The minister rose to the bait with characteristic aplomb.

“Mr Speaker! Could you please instruct the stewards to open the windows in the chamber and allow it to air? I find there is a strong smell of bullshit coming from the opposition benches that is quite nauseating.”

That slight was too much for Deputy Phillipson and insults started to fly across the chamber.

“I put it to the minister that he has a face like a Baboon’s arsehole and wouldn’t recognise good governance if it came into his office and offered him a large bribe. Not that he wouldn’t be adverse to taking that bribe regardless.”

Leading to.

“I would like to point out to the deputy that he is in fact a bastard. However; I am sure that he is aware of that fact since his mother was such a slut! Everyone else is!”

This then devolved into a frank exchange of views forcing the speaker to end the session within five minutes of starting. Government sources say that the debate will resume when all injured parties are discharged from hospital and Deputy Phillipson gets the results of his rabies test.

Now over to sports.

Written for Trifecta Week eighty-five.

Picture it and Write: Tortured

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s Picture it and Write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again the picture is not mine; I only use it for inspiration. Anyway; Enjoy!


“So are you going to talk?”

“Bite me!”

“That can be arranged. That fire looks awfully hot doesn’t it?”

“I’ll never betray my friends!”

“They all say that. Right until the fire consumes them. Then they scream like little girls”

“I’ll never scream!”

“I think you will! Joe! Begin.”

“Oh God! It’s hot so very hot!”

“Will you talk now?”


“Very well! Your decision. Put it down closer Joe!”

“Oh God! Oh God! It’s too hot! Too hot! Take me out! Take me out! I’ll talk! I’ll tell you everything!”

“It’s too late for that. I’m sorry; you should have cooperated sooner!”

“Oh God! I’m burning! I’m on fire! Aaaarrggggggghhhhhhhhhuuuuuuuuuggugggguuguhhhhhughhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

At that point my father took the fork from my hand, gently blew out the flaming marshmallows, squeezed one between two biscuits and handed it back to me to eat.

My father understood that at the age of six not only did certain foods need to be cooked the right way, they also had to be tortured correctly before I would eat them.


Picture it and Write: Snot

Hi there this my offering for this week’s picture it and write for Ermilia’s blog here. Once again; the picture is not mine, this one is by Corrie White I only use it for inspiration. Anyway; Enjoy!


Balthazar was the planet’s real name; the one they used on the star-charts, survey reports and everything official about the place. But everyone who had been there, from the star-ship jockeys up in orbit to the grunt technicians on the ground called it by another name. Snot.

Graham Owen certainly could see why that unofficial title had caught on. Every view showed the same thing; a slimy mess of mucilage that bared a striking resemblance to the planets unofficial namesake. Graham had only been planet-side for less than an hour and he was already sick of the sight of it.

He was being given a short tour of the planet’s main research facility by Doctor Calvin Mori, the Japanese-American head of the expedition. There wasn’t that much to see really. Most of the investigations were being conducted by robots via telepresence. But the twelve scientists working away all showed the skilled professionalism that Graham was proud of in the survey. It was always a joy to see it.

The tour ended in a conference room that appeared to double as a dining hall and social hub for the small community. Three other people were crowded around an AV set-up.

“Ah! Are we set up?” Mori asked. One of the three nodded absentmindedly, Mori continued “Excellent! Professor Owen! Doctors Wang, Indira and Matambe would like to present their latest findings. I’m sure when you see what we have discovered you will recommend our request to the council.”

Graham had been cooped up in a cramped starship far too long to be as civil as he usually was “Dr Mori! I am here because you sent a high-priority request to the council and the rules demand a response. There have not been any publications or complete reports yet but but if you think this planet is any different to the fifty others with a similar ecosystem we have charted and that we should divert resources to the search for complex life then by all means try and convince me. But be warned. The supply ship leaves within four hours. I intend to be on it and I will not tolerate delays.”

Thr left Mori on the defensive. “Professor! We wouldn’t have sent the request if we didn’t think it was important. Listen to the presentation first and then aim to judge us.”

Dr Wang started. Years in the international environment of space exploration had not tempered his strong accent but if Graham concentrated he could understand the description of the robotic exploration of the planet. “The Balthazar Biofilm or “Snot” as it is known dominates the surface and possibly the subsurface of the planet, it is practically everywhere.”

The slideshow went through a number of images of the snotty slime. Some were taken in daylight others under artificial illumination. “As you can see, it can be found on the surface of the oceans where it can be several meters thick down to the tops of otherwise barren mountains where it may only extend to a fraction of a milimeter. We have seen it in the deepest oceans and hottest deserts and several core samples from deep in the crust have shown presence of it too. It appears to be all connected and we’ve estimated it’s mass at close to 1 Trillion tonnes.That is more than the sum total of the whole terrestrial biosphere combined.”

Dr Matambe, the Angolan Microbiologist, took over the slides showed micrographs, both optical and taken with an electron micrograph. “Samples of the Snot have been taken from all over the planet. Analysis shows that it is composed of approximately forty percent living cells with the rest consisting of a matrix of complex sugars and extra cellular proteins.

“We have observed that over ninety-nine percent of the cells observed in each sample is made up to the one species. Suprisingly; which species it was depended on the location the sample came from. If it was from surface films the dominant species was a photosynthetic organism, analogous to a cyanobacteria. Samples from the deep ocean or subsurface showed one of a number of chemosynthetic organisms.We have surmised that these are the primary producers for the Snot in any given region.”

The images showed changed; a number of strange shapes showed themselves. “The remainder of the cells observed in each samples stayed remarkably consistant showing a limited number of each of twelve different species. There are rod-like structures and spirals that appear bound together, we have observed them moving sections of the mucilage they were bound to. We have also seen a range of species with cillia which sit at the edge of channels and aid the movement of liquids through the film. An amoeboid that destroys damaged or invading cells. Most enigmatic however, are these guys”

The picture changed to a ovoid with what looked like long thin hairs extending out of it. “The central core is the primary cell body which is on the micron-scale.The hairs or pili, can extend anywere up to a centimeter for a single specimen. With all of the other cells, matrix, and the density of this particular species, it all forms a very tangled web.”

Dr Indira concluded. “We looked at the genetics of each of these species and while we found that each had their own distinct lineage, in the relatively recent past there was a great deal of hortizontal gene transfer between them. A lot of this appears to be in the form of plasmids or insertions into the genome. They all have a strong regulatory function controlling everything from cell division to excretion of the matrix. What we really found interesting was that each of these insertions could be activated be a factor compound that was released only by one species, namely our hairy friend.”

Graham stopped them to ask a question. “Fascinating! You mean that these piliated cells can influence and control all the other cells in the film?”

“That was our theory” Dr Indira answered “We thought it was a form of self regulation for the whole film, a primitive superorganism. But we noticed something else. These pili, like those found on Earth can conduct electrical signals, We found that these signals can, in some cases control what factors are released by the cell. In other cases we found that the electrical pulse was transmitted on, across many cells, We have confirmed that they can travel up to three kilometers, it may even go as far as across the whole planet. They appear to be constantly in contact.”

“You don’t mean!” Butted in Graham

“We had to find out. We started with timed pulses. In the end we used the ‘Welcome’ program that was meant for talking to aliens and we got this….”

A video started on the screen. It showed a part of the Snot, as featureless and any other, dark except for a single beam of light shining on it. Suddenly there was a ripple in the surface, A bulge appeared and started to grow into the air. It was eerie, like an ice sculpture melting in reverse. It developed features, a head, legs, it took on the shape of a woman.

Graham was mystified “My God! When was this recorded?”

“It isn’t a recording” Dr Mori answered “This is live. It has been listening to our meeting.” At that a text box appeared on the screen.

Good day Professor It said, I/We look forward to speaking with more humans.

“Smart slime” gasped Graham “This changes everything. We never thought it would be like this. I’ll tell the council to double, triple the allocation. This is big, this is the most important discovery in the history of mankind”

In three hours, far less time than he wanted, Graham boarded the small transport and waited for the engines to take him up to the stars and home. He was excited, the news he brought was game changing. From out his window he could see six human figures, distinctive in their coloured environment suits, standing on a gantry waving him farewell.

Further off, in the yellow green sea of the Snot was another figure, the same woman as before, also waving farewell. He had spent his entire life searching the cosmos for intelligence life, imagining something, someplace, glorious. That he would find it in the mucus of Snot was irony indeed.



He took to the stage in silence.

“They all said I was just a writer of words!

Well! Who says that words can’t change the world?”

The crowd of thousands started to cheer.


Written for Trifecta’s Trifextra Week Seventy-Five



As a teen, I worked through the holidays to earn my pocket money for the next school year. One year, I was a gofor on a truck. It was an early start in the depot in the morning and we were rarely done before the evening. But I didn’t mind; the craic was mighty.

The drivers were all mad as hatters. To say they were a little crude would be an understatement. They had swearing down to a fine art. But of course where they really excelled was the drive-by letch.

Ireland, when the summer sun is out, is like God`s own country and everybody tries to get out into the sun as long as it lasts. This provides plenty of eye candy to look at on long, boring drives.

“Look at the legs on her” Tim the driver would say “You’d be all day climbing them!”

“Ah Jaysus! They’re all the same height lying down!” replied Bob, the other gofor and they both laughed.

“Look at that one! Actually, Jaysus! She’s a butterface!”

“What?!” I asked not understanding that one.

“Great body, but-her-face! Geddit?”

On my first day with them we were heading out of Dublin when we saw one particularly well endowed woman crossing in front of us. I was expecting the others to say something but instead they just looked at me. For a split second I panicked but then I came out with the first thing I thought of.

“Jaysus! You could feed a family of eight on them!”

Tim and Bob just burst out laughing “You could! But be careful not to get too close! A knock from them would put your teeth out!”

“Ah! But what a way to go! You’ll do well here son!”

We got on great for the rest of the journey, for the rest of the summer at that. I had passed their little initiation, they knew I was one of them.

After all. The team that letches together, stays together.

Written for Trifecta Week Eighty-Four.