Stories from a Dublin Scientist

Month: March, 2016

Waste Product

When the Jovians opened their spaceport high in the Himalayas all its rivers turned an alarming shade of red.

People panicked, questions asked, committees formed.

That was until someone took a drink.

Turns out; Jovian rocket fuel tastes amazing.

rainbow prompt 1

Image copyright Juilja Néjé


Written for the Grammar Ghoul shapeshifting 13 challenge number 47.



Picture it and Write: Spring

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.


It was early in the year. The days were still short but getting longer and the sharp nip in the air was already starting to mellow. I was glad to get out into the morning air as I and my little girl went for a walk for Easter morning.

This was the part of the day that I enjoyed. My wife was hiding eggs in various nooks and crannies across the house and when we returned I would awe in the joy of our little lady finding what the “Easter Bunny” left for her and let a little magic into our lives.

For the moment though, she was more interested in asking me to relate to her everything there was that I knew about the animals and plants that we passed as we walked. “What’s that Daddy?” and “What’s this thing?” Every question was followed by a good three minutes of bending down and getting a closer look and if whatever it was was amenable maybe even trying to grab it and hold it for later examination. This continued for a while and I was in a happy fugue of parental joy when my daughter started to scream in delight.

“Easter Bunny! Easter Bunny!” She shouted and started pointing at one of the bushes. I looked at what she was pointing and sure enough, I could see on the branches a series of eggs, brightly coloured, hanging from the tree.

“He’s a very smart bunny.” My daughter said with delight. “He knew I was going to come here!” I smiled but began thinking what I was going to say. Someone must have put those eggs there and I hoped I could extradite myself from there before the question of taking the eggs came up.

But events overtook me “Lookie” came the scream and we watched as the egg on the left started to shake too and fro and then crack. The bottom parts of the shell fell down and a leg, a wing and a tentacle all started to unfurl. It was hard to make out but one thing was sure, it did not look of this Earth.

“Ooooooh Goodie!” I heard from beside me, “This is better than chocolate eggs, I’ve got a new pet!”





The day’s cool, but bright.

The light’s getting longer and the flowers are starting to bloom.

The world is coming back to life.

Spring is here.


Written for The Grammarghoul Press Shapeshifting 13 challenge number 46.

Picture it and Write: Curiosity

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.



I looked around me but I couldn’t see anything.

“Psssst! Down here!”

I looked down and right at my feet staring up at me was a cat.

“Sorry to disturb you.” It said, “But I am in need of some assistance.”

It took me all of five seconds to come up with anything to say and, to my chagrin it was “But. But. You’re a cat.”

I know that cats in general appear to have a low opinion of humanity but this feline could have given the most snobbish aristo in the world a run for his money such was the look it gave me. “I am aware of that” It said, “But all is not what it appears to be. I am really from another dimension. I am only shall we say “Borrowing” This body. The thing is. I need to get somewhere and..” It looked down at its paws, “I haven’t got the hands to get there.”

I figured I must have been dreaming, or having some sort of delusion but not knowing what else to do I decided to follow my new companion. We walked up the street past the central plaza and into the grounds of the university. We came to the central clock tower and the building that was attached to it. There was a door at the side. The cat brought me right to it.

“This is the place.” It said. “In my universe,  this is the place where I made the transition, or more accurately, this is the place about six stories up. In order to transfer up I will have to get within twenty feet of it. That means I have to get up there.” It pointed with its nose at the  handle of the door. “Do you mind?”

I opened the door and we both went through. It was spring break so there were very few students about and we were unmolested as we made our way up three flights of stairs and then the winding staircase of the clock tower. We reached the top and came to a viewing stand with grand views on all sides, there was only a shortish railing there to hold people back.

“Could you life me up?” The cat said and when I did so added. “Right there on the railing if you don’t mind.” I did so and with a short “Thanks for the help.” the cat threw itself off the railing.

It made no noise for the first part of its descent but at around half way down, there came a high pitched squeal, the sound of a cat that did not like were it had suddenly ended up. The squeal only lasted a couple of seconds. It was cut short by a thud even I could hear in the tower.

I made my way down and found the cat’s body where it had hit the ground. It was completely dead, Its body torn open by the force of hitting the ground.

I thought about the being I had been talking to, about its claims that he would be able to get home if it made it to the right spot. I wasn’t sure if he succeeded, I don’t think I’d ever know. But I do know one thing.

His curiosity had killed that cat.



Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle 26

Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle, You know you want to*

Dear Doctor Joe,

I love your input from my previous questions, so I’m back! The gist is, I wrote a lifestyle article for a client. The products that I featured in the article are my favourites and I’ve been using them for some time now. Once it’s published, I emailed and notified the product companies about the article, hoping that they’ll share it on their social media channels. Because you know, working in the media industry, gaining traction is fundamental. The great news is that they love it! Two companies emailed back asking for my address so they can mail a gift to show their appreciation. The bad (or not?) news is that I don’t know if this is against the policy. I work freelance for my client. Doctor Joe, is this ethical?



Dear Confused,

Why it is that people insist on coming to me, me of all people, me, a man who has been excommunicated by three separate religions for “Gross Indecency against the universe”, to answer their ethical conundrums is always something of a mystery to me. But; if the internet is any guide, some people insist that stuffing live batteries up their own arse is fun. Who am I to judge? Just remember; you’re reading this at your own risk.

Anyway; where was I? Confused; you seem to have a good old fashioned case of conflict of interest, something with which I have some previous experience. Not something as simple and harmless as writing a lifestyle article, I got into a bit of a tangle with the Russian mob, three crooked cops and a blind beggar named Hillary, I can’t go into much details, some of the other antagonists managed to survive the fight in the bear pit, but needless to say, I managed to make it out with the majority of my fingers intact.

You mention two details which I think stands out most clearly, the first being that you do not know that what you did is against the “policy”. If there is in fact a policy, read it, read through every detail, look for anything that pertains to what you may be up to. But this is the most important detail; what you find has to forbid what you do exactly and unquestionably. Don’t bother with wishy washy, if you look at things that way it may just say such and such, thinking. You don’t want to think about different meanings, if they wanted you thinking about things they never would have invented contracts in the first place. You just want the exact wording, only what it says. And more importantly what it doesn’t say, what contracts don’t say can be really important. Take for example what an unscrupulous surgeon said to me some years ago “I never said I wouldn’t take one of your kidneys now did I? Don’t be a cry baby, you still have one left.”

The second detail is not so much said but implied and that is you have not yet told your clients anything about this. That is good, very good, because the number one lesson you can learn from the Doctor Joe school  of ethics is “You are only guilty if you get caught” If no one every finds out, what is the harm? What is the problem? Nothing I would wager. There have been times when certain overzealous constables have taken me in on charges I am never going to say I did or didn’t do and with my lips sealed, my compatriots, all mysteriously vanished and no sign of the missing Golden Arse on my person, they have had no choice whatsoever than to let me go.

I would counsel what countless lawyers have counselled to my criminal fraternity over the generations and that is “Shut the hell up. And nope no evidence comes up.” The social media sharing may be a little suspicious but that can be put down to simple media interest. After all, people share things on social media all the time, most of which people never see, ever, this column being one fine example, so I wouldn’t sweat too much about that. If you want to continue these exploits I would recommend using a fake alias online. Just don’t use Doctor Joe, that is already taken.

If that is not what you want to hear, forgive me. Ethics is often like that, a tangled mess of possibility that can give an octopus a wet dream. There are so many twists and turns that it is often hard to figure out what way is up. But one thing is very clear. Why break a rule, when it is so much more fun just to bend it a little?

The very best of luck,

Doctor Joe.

*Editor’s note: But you shouldn’t. You really, really, shouldn’t.


If you want to read more of Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle or even ask him a question, just click on the link here.

A New Age

In the seventh reign of the Age of Blood, Marqoc the Defiler roamed freely about the Earth. He was a demon, the greatness of his power matched only by the depths of his cruelty. He destroyed, he enslaved, he consumed and no Earthly force could hope to stop him. He was master of the world, and boasted that all of mankind would stay under his iron grip for eternity. They were dark times and death and misery stalked the land. But no matter how deep the darkness, hope, the tiniest flickers of hope found its way into the hearts of men. Wise men, brave souls who risked greater torments than Earthly pain, sought the hidden secrets that sympathetic gods had left across the globe for their creation’s darkest hour. They learned the ways of unnatural forces, of the powers that bind the cosmos and that dwell within the hearts of all men, they learned the many arts that men commonly call magic and they learned it well. In time; Marqoc was beset by powerful attacks by men wielding these new powers, he was assailed by fire from archmages, struck at by magic swords forged in volcanic forges, and trapped by magic spells cast by warlocks. He was weakened by the sheer strength of the onslaught, reduced to a non-corporeal state, and so he fled, as fast as he could to the edges of the world, to the redoubt that he built high in the endless mountains but even there he was not safe. His assailants massed around them, preparing their reserves of power, readying themselves for the final blow.

But Marqoc did not give them the opportunity to strike. Summoning all his remaining strength, he wrapped himself in a shell of time, freezing himself, isolated from the rest of the world. For Marqoc, it only was the slightest instant, but for the rest of the world a thousand generations passed by. When Marqoc opened the shields of his redoubt, there was no wizards, no warlocks, no pursuers of any kind. He was safe and free to take on the world again.

Marqoc travelled the length and breadth of the world. A lot had changed; it was truly a different age from the time he had once ruled. This world was filled with wonders made by the hands of man. Great cities, rivers’ courses changed, great boxes of metal moving on their own through streets of black pitch, flying through the air and even above the air amongst the stars. But for all those wonders, Marqoc could not feel the tell-tale sign of the powers beyond nature, there was no magic in this world. For all their knowledge, the teeming masses of mankind in this new age had no defence against the demonic powers of Marqoc. He could stomp upon this world even more thoroughly than before. No one would have a chance of stopping him. He swooped down on the world and chose his first victim.

Marqoc always had a taste for the innocent and when he saw a young mother struggling with a wailing child the vile wastes of his soul lit up with the thought of impending satiation. He approached the woman, unheard, unseen, unfelt, except for a slight feeling of unease that she may have noticed had she not been so occupied. Marqoc, came up right behind the woman and with a shift through the magical dimensions entered into her mind.

Though, in his mind, it had only been mere weeks since he had last taken over the body of an innocent, he could feel the ages in real time since he last had the pleasure. He could feel the movement of her body, her breath, the sun on her skin, the hint of the carnal in the way her clothes touched her body. It was a feeling that he well remembered.

But he did not invade this woman’s body to relive old times. He was there with a purpose. He made her shake the child and look it in the eye. It stopped crying, young children have a sense for the other worldly, and just stared at her, as if probing. As they stared at each other Marqoc made the woman lift the child and with a surprising burst of strength for someone so tired, throw him out into the traffic, right into the path of an oncoming truck. He noticed with satisfaction that the child was lying on the asphalt of the road just long enough for a wave of terror to fill his mind before it was crushed into oblivion. He exited the woman, who promptly broke down screaming at the realisation of what she had done. Then; from his vantage point beneath reality, Marqoc sat back and waited.

Within a minute there was already a sizable crowd around the scene. Several of the onlookers had already seized the woman, whose cries of grief had weakened to wretched sobs and were waiting for the police to come and deal with her. There was a lot of murmuring, questions about “why?” and “what could have made her do that?” There were some tears and gasps of shock, all of which Marqoc approved of. The feeling of loss and sadness penetrated the aether, as well as a strong sense of anger. Marqoc could feel it swimming around him, could feed off the emotions. But something was missing, something odd. There was no fear.

That was not how things used to be. When Marqoc made people do the unspeakable, others knew that what had just happened had been his work. They knew that he was about and they also knew that any one of them could be next. But this world had no knowledge of Marqoc, they did not recognise his work when they saw it. Instead, as he watched, they began to rationalise what had happened, they blamed mental illness, stress, confusion caused by the noise of the traffic. Some even blamed the driver, who was still recovering from the shock of what had happened, even though he would have had no chance of reacting in time.

No one even hinted at the occult, or demons. When the police arrived, they had already made up their minds that the woman had been driven mad by something, a position that had been reinforced by her ravings that she had had no control over her actions. She was carted away and the news media who arrived not long after reported it as a tragic accident based solely in reality.

This was not what Marqoc wanted, he wanted people to think of him, and he wanted people to believe that he was there to make their lives a misery. Above all; he wanted people to fear him. This would not do.

Marqoc decided to double his efforts, but wherever he went the same problem followed him. He went to New York and made a train driver derail a subway carriage, killing dozens. The citizenry blamed excessive workload and demanded a shorter working week for drivers.

He went to India and made a infantry colonel order shelling of a Pakistani position, the resulting minor conflagration killed hundreds. In the aftermath, the governments of both countries blamed hawkish politicians and signed a peace treaty.

He entered the mind of a teenager in a Midwestern town and made him enter his school with his father’s shotgun. It was barely mentioned before something new came along to talk about.

He even infected a father of three in France and made him butcher his children in a demonic sacrifice. The French authorities reported it as the act of a deranged man and banned all heavy metal music on the radio for a year “just to be safe”.

He infected mind and mind all over the world and made them do unspeakable things but they barely made an impact in a world already filled with evil acts and hideous suffering. While he could make an impact on the local level, to individuals, there was never enough to enter the popular consciousness. It took him a while to figure it out but in the end Marqoc realised that in this age, because no one believed in magic, no one believed in him, so no one feared him. Fear, was where he got his real power. Without the fear of the people he could never regain corporeal form. He had no chance, despite the powers he had, of truly dominating the world.

He mulled on that for the better part of a week. In the end he was so upset that he made a pair of newlyweds strangle each other, which made him feel a little better until that act, like all the others he did, faded into obscurity.

With no hope of influencing an age without even the ability to appreciate the evil he could bring upon it; Marqoc decided that there was only one thing he could do. He went around the world, seeking the right kind of person, the kind of person who could change the world, if given time. In their minds he placed, not a command, not a list of instruction, but simply an idea, an idea that in the fertile soil of their thoughts could hopefully bear fruit, magic is real. They were slow to burn. Maybe an article here, a book there, the occasional modern day hermit playing with the occult in his basement, but it is such small seeds that grow into the mightiest trees.

With those seeds planted, he returned to his redoubt high in the hidden mountains, he cast his spell and again time stopped for Marqoc.

And so there he waits, frozen in an instant, waiting for magic to once again to fill the beliefs of Mankind, and when it does, Marqoc will return, to bring fear and despair. A new age where he can truly rule.

So Easy

His job was  important. He kept the conveyor moving so that the furnaces of the plant were well fed.

He only wished his supervisor would lay off him.

He knew his supervisor always turned his back on him, and there no barrier to the coal stream below.

It would be so easy.


Written for The Grammar Ghoul Press Shapeshifting 13 challenge number 44.

Beneath The Lake

People came from around the world to see the beautiful stones on the lake shore. Nobody knew what they were, except one theory, one few believed, until people saw giant shapes rising from the waters. They were dragon scales.

"Pebbles on a Montana Lakeshore" by Jason Savage

Photo credit Jason Savage.


Written for The Grammar Ghoul Press Shapeshifting 13 challenge number 43.