Stories from a Dublin Scientist

Month: March, 2014

Picture it and Write: Step

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, it is by mehmeturgut on Deviantart, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway, enjoy.

The Step

Alice closed her eyes and felt the wind in her hair. The view was spectacular up there, you could see all the way to the coast but she didn’t want to look. She didn’t want to see the next step.

So long, yet so easy to make, The Step beckoned.

The tears had long gone, all that was left was a dull pain, a pain of half remembered words. Words like “Dyke”, “Weirdo”, “Freak”. Words that cut deep and made their mark. Words sent in a seemingly endless barrage of messages, texts, whispers in class, and shouts in the street.

She knew the only true way to silence them all. The Step beckoned.

Her family didn’t understand, neither did any of her so-called friends. She had done well in school but what did that matter when nobody got you, truly cared for you? Not just paid lip service to you?

It would show them, show how false they had been. She could imagine their grief, so more real than their lies. The Step beckoned.

Even with her eyes closed she could feel the emptiness in front of her, mere inches away. It had taken her ten minutes to climb up there but mere seconds to get down again. She wondered if it would hurt. Would it be too quick to even notice? Would time slow down to a virtual infinity? If her life flashed before her eyes, would she find anything, even a single moment that was worthwhile?

She didn’t know the answer. The Step Beckoned




When you get a good prompt
I mean a really good prompt
It sets your mind loose on the page
And throws open the gates of creativity
What can be better than that?

Written for Trifecta’s Trifextra week one hundred and five, the last ever trifecta prompt

Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle 23

Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle, solves the problems people didn’t know they had*.

Dear Doctor Joe:

I’ve recently added another girl to my stable, much to the first’s dismay. They fight incessantly, raising a great racket day and night, and on several occasions have come to blows! This can go on for hours, and then end up with both being sullen for days.

I’m sure a man of your great perspicacity has already grasped my problem. While I have no issue with the girls silence, I am dismayed that to date none of the fights have devolved into the hardcore lesbian love scenes that my favorite movies depict.

What am I doing wrong?

Sincerely, Domley
Dear Domley,

I am glad you wrote me because in your problem we see a classic case of the dangers of not taking adequate precautions when adding a new girl to your stable. What was clearly meant to be a time of Joy and naughty, naughty antics has turned to one of turmoil and totally the wrong kind of girl on girl action. If there was a lesson to be learned please, please, be careful in your introductions.

Don’t just throw your new girl right in amongst the wolves. Introduce her gently. Don’t put her right into the master bedroom; stick her in the attic conversion and visit her there. Don’t make her help make you dinner; let her do something separate like dessert. It is baby steps like these that will allow the rest of your harem take kindly to the newcomer and leave the home life a lot more peaceful for you.

Some commentators think you could even go further and say you should try and match the new girl to your existing women. Not go as far as giving them a say of course, that would just be nutty, but perhaps to think of how this new addition will fit with the rest. Do you need another blonde? Will a more husky lady suit better for colder nights? All these things should be considered if you want the domestic bliss you seek.

As for you Domley. While you have had a rough time of it there is a way to turn this thing around. You simply add some alcohol. After a couple of beers, maybe a few shots. Simply take your camera, I assume you have a video camera for filming the girls fighting, and point it at them. It is a known fact that women when drunk, no matter how much they hate each other, will always start making out when a camera is pointed at them. That’s science. While it is not the hard-core action you were hoping for, it may be best to think of it as opening the door. I’m confident that they will walk through.

The very best of luck,
Doctor Joe

*Editor’s note: He usually makes them up as he goes along.

To read more of Doctor Joe or to ask a question check out here.

Picture It And Write: Their Mark

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

Their Mark

The primary school in the village of Arasnaleigh was a relic from the past. Little more that a long shed. It was a single room with ten rows of desks where all ten classes would be taught by the one teacher. The walls were high and light was brought in by a row of high windows seven feet off the ground, too high for the children to look out and be distracted.

My father had gone there as had I and we both had been taught by Miss O’Reilly. A stern but fair woman who we both were convinced had looked the same age from the day she had been born. I remember when I was in my first year there and I first had cause to look at the windows. I was astonished to notice that all along the bottom of them, all the way around the wall was a series of hand prints in many different colours. I remember asking Miss O’Reilly and her keeping tight-lipped about it. As you can imagine that only raised my curiosity.

That evening I asked my father and he chuckled and told me the story.

It goes all the way back to my father’s time in the school. The day he started sixth class, the small contingent of children entered the classroom to find that there was a strong smell of paint in there. It wasn’t unusual, they usually gave the place a lick of paint over the summer to top up the beige, but they seemed by the smell to have left it later than usual that year. In addition, that September was an Indian summer and the combined mixture of heat and fumes left everyone’s head swimming. There was no question about it, the windows would have to be opened.

Normally that would be a straight forward affair but in the case of the schoolhouse it was trickier. The latches for the windows were nearly ten feet off the ground and Miss O’Reilly, barely taller then her students, could not even reach them with the help of the five-foot pole kept for that purpose. It was her want to walk to the nearby O’Malley farm were one of Mr O’Malley’s six foot plus sons would gladly open the windows for her. While she went on that errand she left the oldest class, my father and his two best friends, in charge.

Duncan Johnston, Patches Smyth and my father were always up to something in the manner of boys of that age be it catching bees, selling old scrap they found, or exploring every hole in the ground in the county, but they weren’t bad. In fact, it was their desire to help that was the cause of it.

Patches was the leader and he figured if they could open the windows that would be a big help to her. All they would have to do was get up there. How hard could it be?

Patches organised everything with military precision. The rest of the school were kept at their sums by the threat of a hiding after school if they didn’t ‘cept for Jeanie Corcoran, Patches “Girl”, who kept sketch. The pole was too heavy for them to lift and even standing on each other’s head they couldn’t come close to the window latch so they shifted some stools along the wall and started to climb.

My father and Duncan stood side by side on their stools stooped and arms linked while Patches climbed up both stools and putting his hands on both their heads stood on the joined arms. While patches placed his hands on the wall for balance, My father and Duncan heaved with all their might and Patches began to rise.

He inched his way up calling encouragement to his friends and as they reached their full height patches’ hands came over the sill of the window and came in contact with the glass.

Unfortunately, Jeanie then called out that she could see the teacher coming back with one of the O’Malleys. They scrambled down as quick as they could and with seconds to spare were back in their desk. O’Malley took the pole and started opening the windows but he paused at the one that Patches had tried to climb and looked at Miss O’Reilly made a quick gesture and he continued with his rounds. The class then continued on with the benefit of fresh air.

It wasn’t until the lunch break that they realised what was wrong. As the school filed out. Miss O’Reilly grabbed Patches by the shoulder and held him back. Patches groaned in protest until she pointed him in the direction of the window. On the bottom pane, right were his hands had been where two beige hand prints. Miss O’Reilly then looked down at Patches’ hands. There was paint on both of them. The floor level of the wall must have already dried but the upper part of the wall was still wet, this was a time before wet paint signs.

“The thing was.” My father continued “She let him go then Didn’t give him the strap, didn’t even say a word. The prints stayed there too. We would look for them everyday we came in and they would still be there right to the day we left. And to this one I reckon. I think she was impressed.”

But there was more than two prints on the windows. There were dozens, all in different colours. Where were they from?

“Ah!” My father continued “I’ve heard that after that first set went up, the next year some bucko got the idea to put a set right next to it. Used red paint from doing up his house. From then on it became a bit of a tradition. At least once every year I’m told. Sometimes they do it at night, or in the summer even right when Miss O’Reilly’s out for a second. But the rule, the golden rule is she can’t catch you in the act. There’ll be hell to pay of she does. Other than that. If she doesn’t see you and you can barely make them out from the ground either, what’s the harm?”

I loved that idea, still do really, that every generation has left their mark on that ancient place. It gives a soul to the forgotten students who for years have toiled over those antique desks.

In time I added my own print to the windows. They are still there as far as I know, along with all the others. inspiring a new generation to make their mark. For after all, what is life for a child without something great around to inspire them?     



Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle 22

Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle; what ever your problem, come to Joe*.

Dear Doctor Joe,

Is there really a place called Termonfeckin? And why the feck did yer name it that, please?

Flowery Anne


Dear Flowery Anne,

Why yes Flowery! A place called Termonfeckin does exist. It is in the county of Louth and is a small village with a population in excess of six hundred people. It’s name derives from the Irish Tearmann Feichín or Fechín’s refuge after a medieval saint who founded a monastery at the  site. It is by all means a lovely place and not deserving of any dispersions regarding it’s name. There, I think, lies the root of your problem.

The issue as I see, Flowery, is standing erect right in front of you. You have a filthy mind. A mind that penetrates down to the dirt of even the most innocent of phrases, not resting until it spews out an imagined improper meaning. It is usually only a rare thing but you seem to have unsurpassed stamina for it, going at it any chance you get, even for hours at a time. I take it your social life may suffer as a result.

But help is at hand Flowery. Your obsession with seeing the filth need only be grasped with two hands to be subdued. By probing into the dark recesses we will be able to find the problem. We may have to go deep, maybe even uncomfortably so but I am sure you will thank me in the end.

It may be dark, it may be messy. But I promise you I will keep coming at the problem, again and again until it is satisfied.

You, me and maybe the occasional professional of my choosing will sort out this problem for you.

Ready and willing to help,
Doctor Joe

*Editors Note: Joe especially likes the strange ones.

To read more Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle or to ask a question yourself click the link here.


Every night I demand a taste.
Her lips, her skin, her inner sweetness.
And each day I yearn for more.
I could consume every part of her
And it wouldn’t satisfy my hunger.

Written for trifecta’s week one hundred and fourteen

Picture it and Write: A grain of hope

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!

A Grain of Hope

There are some Ideas that you just know, right from the beginning, that they are going to succeed. There are others that you know, right from the get go, that haven’t a hope in hell. But there is a third option, the ideas that on analysis scream their impossibility to you but that still have an aura of possibility, the idea that maybe  just maybe, if you get things just right, it can be done. They are the cruelest ideas of all, they give you hope, hope enough to keep trying whatever the cost as once happened to John McGonigle.

John McGonigle was a Scottish Inventor back from the days before the Wright brothers when flight was just a dream. There were ideas aplenty about how flight could be achieved and a palpable sense that fame and fortune awaited those who could finally did it. John’s idea was, shall we say, unique.

His reasoning was thus. People could train horses to pull weight and they could train birds to do things so what was stopping some person from training a load of birds to lift things into the air. Sounds plausible, John thought so. It was the beginning of his downfall.

He first decided on an appropriate Bird. Most were just too small and stupid (birdbrained if you will) to work and after some experimentation he decided on Ravens, a large bird that was smart enough to be trained for John’s plan. He put the local huntsmen and boys to work and within a  month every raven within ten miles of his country home, two hundred birds in all, where caged up in McGonigle’s barn.

Training was surprisingly easy. For the promise of grain or a choice morsel of meat the birds could me made to follow shouted commands to fly in unison. Locals claimed there was some kind of black magic afoot and that John was cursed. He didn’t mind of course, it meant that people stayed away, leaving him free to work in peace.

John’s first idea was to get the birds to lift a boat-like assembly. Enough to hold ten people or nearly a ton of cargo. But his first experiments showed that to lift that much would require over a thousand birds and enough rope to lash them together that the whole process would not get off the ground. He was forced to think smaller.

Jason MacDiarmaid was an orphan who worked as a stable boy for John. The Ravens were used to him, seemed to like him and most importantly he only weighed five stone. Seventy birds would have been sufficient to lift him but John was cautious on the first test flight and strung together eighty. 

John’s notes from that day ring with wonder. It was an indoor test and he wrote that the large barn was filled with the noise wings flapping, raven calls and the screams of Jason as the birds lifted him four feet off the grounds. With a string of commands John was able to tell the assembly of birds to move ponderously with their huge weight. They turned left and right, lifted up and down and even hovered for a spell. After the birds settled back down again and Jason was convinced to let go of the ropes John decided that it was time to try the full version.

The full complement of birds was too great to deploy in the barn so John and his assistants came to a headland that jutted out to the sea. It was remote enough that they figured he could preform the test there without being spotted by nosey people.

He was attached to the custom harness and every bird that had been captured was released into the air. Yelling to be heard over the noise of wing beats John got the birds to stop at ten feet. There he tested his suite of commands and the birds once again proved more pliable than he had hoped. Then looking at his assistants a glint formed in his eye and a smile came to his face. “Up! Up! Up!” He shouted and John, birds and all soared into the sky.

His assistants’ notes record that as John McGonigle flew higher and higher, squeals of delight could be heard above the sound of birds. “I’m free!” They heard him shout “I’m free as a bird!”

That is where things went wrong.

You see; birds are efficient fliers. They can carry their own weight for hours, even days at a time. But they are not designed to carry much in the way of extra weight. With John and all the ropes, they had reached about the limits of their endurance and they tired quickly.

At over 2000 feet John’s assistants saw the first of the birds begin to stop flapping. As each one dropped the more weigh was forced onto each remaining bird and exhaustion cascaded through the birds’ ranks some kept struggling on the end of their rope others somehow broke free. John stopped rising and began to accelerate towards the ground.

McGonigle’s assistants watched as their master fell back to Earth, trailing birds in his wake. They strangest thing though is what they claim they heard as they looked on.

They swear he did not scream, not even as the ground rose up to meet him. Instead they claim that he shouted out notes on the test, ways he thought it could be done better. Pointers for the next man.

That is how insidious that grain of hope can be. Even when all had failed, even when his life was forfeit, John was still convinced that it was a good idea, that if they used more birds or alternated their use it could still work.

The grain of hope killed John McGonigle but it did not die. It lived on, ready to infect the next willing soul the next dreamer, hoping to achieve the impossible.       


Horoscopes 13

Capricorn (22 December-20 January): The unexpected will alter the familiar this week when you’re attacked by a tiger in the supermarket.

Aquarius (21 January-19 February): Your life will be filled with ups and downs until you are finally dragged off the roller-coaster.

Pisces (20 February – 20 March): Nobody loves you. Not even your mother. She told the stars last week.

Aries (21 March – 20 April): Great fortune will come your way next month when you’re crushed by a falling crate of money.

Taurus (21 April – 21 May): You have never been one to play by the rules. That is why you’ve been in prison so often.

Gemini (22 May – 21 June): DEAR GOD!!!!  DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU!!!

Cancer (22 June – 23 July): The elephant in the room in your marriage turns out to be, ironically enough, a camel in the backyard.

Leo (24 July – 23 August): They say love knows no borders. You will find out that neither does mindless hate when a team of international delegates show up to beat you to within an inch of your life.

Virgo (24 August – 23 September): When bad things happen next week remember, it’s not the end of the world, only the end of your life.

Libra (24 September – 23 October): Positive thoughts are essential to get through trying times ahead. If you believe the bullets won’t hit you, then maybe they won’t.

Scorpio (24 October – 22 November): A celebrity will make make an appearance in your life when [removed after legal advice] take you to [removed after legal advice] and you drink so much [removed after legal advice] that you both [removed after legal advice] all over [removed after legal advice].

Sagittarius (23 November – 21 December): In an unprecedented and highly progressive interdenominational move  tomorrow, the leaders of all the major faiths will come together to declare your singing an abomination against creation.


After two and a half years
Trifecta tried to stop
But the writers of the world cried stop
And they deified the editors
So they could continue their great work
For all eternity
Written for Trifecta’s Trifextra week one hundred and Four.

Picture it and Write: The Burden

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, it is from a touch of class, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway, Enjoy.

The Burden

The young queen sat on her throne, waiting for the photographer to finish. Around her milled courtiers and advisors. Behind them, in their finery, the royal guard, weapons sparkling in the bulb flashes.

“You must understand the lack of precedent your grace. The abscence of a suitable heir is most vexing.”

She understood perfectly. Her late husband, for whom she wore the black veil, was the youngest of four brothers, all of whom had died before their father. There were no sons, no uncles no relations save for babbling tots or tired old men. The royal family had been scoured clean.

With the king dead and no heir apparent the laws and traditions of the realm were stretched to breaking point but she was technically in charge as queen regent until a male replacement could be found.

When the photographer signaled he was finished the queen stood up, the black silk swirling around her bare legs. “My lords” her voice slight but calm “I make no illusions of the burden that you have placed in my hands. I have every faith that you will find us a new lawful king and in the meantime I will value your wise counsel to help make this transition as seamless as possible. Now if you will excuse me I am tired and will require a short rest.”

As she walked from the throne room, the queen looked at the assembled faces of the courtiers, most of them showed simple loyalty, no issue there, they were no threat. But a couple however showed something else, a calculating look telling that all their advice will somehow help to enrich themselves alone. They may be a problem in the future, she would have to deal with them soon.

But first she needed to be in her chambers, the general would be waiting for her there. He was a simple man, with a loyal army which had been very useful in taking care of the royal claimants that she and her poisons could not reach. She had seduced the general with her body and kept him in line with promises of the crown once a suitable ‘mourning period’ had passed. He was handsome, and a good lover, but not very kingly. She knew exactly how she was going to deal with him when the time came however and undoubtedly a suitable, pliable, man could be found quickly enough.

The saying was right. The burden of the crown was heavy she would admit, but she was more than capable of holding it.