Joe2stories

Stories from a Dublin Scientist

Category: Fiction

The wrong kind of love

General Sorcerer Daniel Victor raised his head as his latest patient, a young man, came in through the door. He was holding a long stick with large dog at the end. The dog was struggling to get around the pole at him.

Daniel thought a second then said, “I need you to show this. Let the dog go.”

The young man, reluctantly, released the dog. It took a bounding leap towards the young man, knocking him down, licking and nuzzling him. Daniel had to paralyse the dog with a quick spell.

Embarrassed, the young man got up and said, “I don’t understand. He’s never acted like this before. Must be bewitched.”

Daniel asked, “Have you bought any love potions recently?”

The man made to protest then said resignedly, “Yes I did. What of it?”

“I’ve seen this before, most potions don’t make someone fall in love with you but rather amplify any existing feelings for you. The thing is they can affect anyone, and anything” He gestured to the dog.

“What? Him!”

“Do you give him treats? Talk to him.”

“Occasionally.”

“Well that’s your problem. You’ve fostered an affection. The potion made it stronger”

“But what can I do?”

“It will wear off after a week.”

“A week!” The man gestured at the dog. “What am I to do until then?”

“There is one other way, but it may not work.”

“I’ll try anything.”

Daniel rolled up a newspaper and handed it to the patient. “You know what to do.”

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The memory of White

The man was old,  his body shriveled by years of hard work, his skin the colour of leather from too much time under the harsh sun. He stood on a the porch of his modest home, surrounded by the parched dust of what had once been his garden.

“Yo recuerdo los cumbres blancos de la cordillera.” I remember the white peaks of the mountains, he said, “Yo recuerdo los como el pelo blanco de mi abuela” I remember them like the white hair of my grandmother.

He pointed to the mountains in the distance, the grey of the rock, shaded blue by the haze. “Yo recuerdo el nieve, y el agua corriendo por todo el año” I remember the snow, and the water running all year. He looked at the dry pit that had once been a canal, “Yo recuerdo una tierra verde, una tierra llenado con vida, flores, arboles, mariposas.” I remember a green land, a land filled with life, flowers, trees, butterflies.

“What happened?” ¿Que occurido? I asked him. His greying eyes watered up and his voice crackled with dry emotion.

“Mi madre me dijo que lo estaba ira de Dios” My mother told me it was God’s wrath, he said, “Construyamos ciudades demasiado grande, suciamos el aire y el agua. Dios no pudo permitir el nieve blanco puro en un mundo malo. Tampoco aqua puro.” We built cities too big, we polluted the air and the water. God could not all pure white snow in a dirty world. Pure water neither.

“How did you survive?” ¿Como sobreviviste?

“Trabajo duro. Vida dura. Mucho muerto en mi pueblo. Perdi muchos amigos.” Hard work, Hard life. Many dead in my town. I lost many friends. There was a tear in his eye. “Perdimos mucho, perdimos todo, cuando perdimos el blanco en las montañas.” We lost a lot, we lost everything when we lost the snow on the mountains.

He grabbed my arm with his hand, a grip stronger than his frame suggested. “Recuerda nuestra historia.” Recuerda nuestra avisa.” Remember our story. Remember our warning.  

“Si tengas blanco nieve en tu pais. guardalo, protegelo. Los cumbres blancos salvarán tu pais.” If you have white snow in your country. Guard it, protect it. The white summits will save your country. 

“Nunca les permitas morir.” Never let them die.

El Humo

Cuando La Moneda quemó, yo lo vi con mi madre en la televisión. Despues diez minutos, mi madre salió y yo quedé, viendo las noticias, el humo subiendo al cielo.

Yo estaba pegado la pantalla, mirando el imagenes de la ciudad. Luego, yo olaba humo. Caminé a fuera y vi mi madre tirando libros en un fuego. Ella había formado una pila de libros de historia, filosofía, poesía, y literatura.

“¿Que estás haciendo?” La pregunté.

“El país esta cambiando.” me dijo, “Ellos van a venir por el gente que leer mucho.”

Yo vi un pilar de humo levantando al cielo, un humo de ideas y sabiduría. Fue exactamente el mismo como los imágenes de la televisión.

 

English Translation

When La Moneda burned, I saw it with my mother on the television. After ten minutes, my mother left and I stayed, looking at the news, the smoke rising to the sky.

I was glued to the screen, looking at the images of the city. Later I smelled smoke. I walked out and saw my mother throwing books on a fire. She had made a pile of books of history, philosophy, poetry, and literature.

“What are you doing?” I asked her.

“The country is changing.” she told me, “The are going to come for the people that read a lot.”

I saw a pillar of smoke rising to the sky, a smoke of ideas and wisdom. It was exactly the same as the images of the television.

Waiting for it to Work

The bedroom still smelled lived in, a heady mix of farts and sex as I lay down on a bed that was now too big for me. The doors of the cupboards were still open, vacant, in a taunting symbolism, less than half filled with the battered remnants of my life.

Still, no matter. It isn’t important. The case of sleeping pills were slowly working their way through my system. I only need to wait, just a little bit more, and nothing would matter any more.

The Right Stuff

Bob looked at the scrawny lump of nerves sitting on the couch in much the same way he would a piece of dog’s business on the sole of his shoe. That his daughter, Jane, had her arm tightly around this one’s did not help matters.

“So!” He asked, “You are the man..” you could taste the sarcasm in that last word, “I have heard so much about?”

The Wretch mumbled something in assent  and nervously answered more of the questions that Bob threw at him. 

“Where are you from?” 

“Berkleyville”

“Hmmm. We can’t all be from the nicer parts of the city now can we? What do your parents do?”

“My mom raised me on her own. She’s a cleaner.”

” And you made it this far despite that! Well done! What is your major?”

“I’m thinking either literature or philosophy.”

“You can’t decide? With either one you’ll end up in the same coffee shop…. So no stress there then. Sooo how long have you been sleeping with my daughter?”

At that, Jane, who had been squeezing the poor guy’s hand harder and harder at each question, shot up out of her chair, shouted “Oh God! I can’t take any more of this!” and ran from the room. Before Bob could get up, the boyfriend was out the door after her. “What did I say?” He asked himself. And set off after them.

Bob checked the kitchen, the hallway and Jane’s old room. All were empty. It was only when he went back down the stairs did he hear the retching from the back garden.

Jane, bless her soul, had a weak stomach and any amount of stress was liable to lead her vomiting up whatever she had eaten in the previous hour or two. Bob tried to figure out what could have set her off this time and realised that for all his attention on the boyfriend he hadn’t paid any attention to how Jane had taken any of his “brisk” questioning. He was going to get hell for that when the missus finds out. But first things first, his daughter needed him.

Bob shuffled through the house and came out the back door only to stop as if he had intruded on something private. There was Jane, bent over the flower beds, shivering as she had so many times and with his hands around her, carefully holding back her hair, was the new boy, in the exact same pose as he had so many times, for exam jitters and sports final stress. He was saying something softly to her, something comforting. Bob couldn’t hear, but he sure could guess.

Bob went back to the sitting room, thought for a second and made a detour to the den to grab two beers from his stash. He placed the beers carefully behind his chair and sat down in wait. When Jane and the boyfriend, Russel he thought his name was, were done outside, Jane would come in to shout at bit at him as to how he was a jerk if she had the strength and then go up to bed for a rest. That would mean Bob and the boyfriend would be alone for a while.

The twenty minute grilling hopefully would not have left any permanent scars, maybe they could work around them, back to an understanding. Bob knew he had to, for Jane’s​ sake. After all, this new one had proven himself, as far as Bob was concerned, as having the right stuff.

Traitor

He thought he was a hero as he marched off to war, marching to fight for king and country.

Everyone else thought he was one too, cheering and clapping as he went by.

He thought he was a hero as he turned the guns of the ship against the buildings of his own

city. Sure; the rebels were the ones who started the fight. Weren’t they at war? Didn’t they

know who the enemy was?

Then he came home, home to a changed land, with new myths, new heroes. They didn’t call

him hero anymore. They called him Traitor.

Embrace

It was to be a long term art project; the artist was to be long gone when it reached its full

potential. But that was the idea. It was a project for the ages.

Called “Embrace” It consisted of two figures, animatronic but moving so slowly it took years

to move appreciably, hugging. They were placed under a dripping hard-water source. Every

time the water hit the figures, a little bit of stone would be deposited until, eventually, both

figures will be encased in stone, unable to move anymore. Hidden, trapped in the stone, but

still embracing, together, forever.

 

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.

Plan of action

What we have here is an enigma gentlemen. Our target has gone and fallen off the face of the Earth. We know that he wants to go to the other side but we also know that he hasn’t got to them yet since the world has not blown up yet. So there is still time.
Whatever scruples you have, dispose of them.
We have to get him.

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Written for Grammar Ghoul Chimera 66 #17

Picture it and Write: Budget Projections

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write by Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine it is by Juanfer Penagos, I am only using it for inspiration. Anyway, Enjoy.

Budget Projection

So what would be your lunar wish list for the next ten years?

Some more orbiters would be nice. Maybe a lander/rover too.

Are you sure you don’t want something a little more ambitious?

Like what?

Anything manned?

Well sure. I would want a whole series of manned missions. Expeditions to multiple sites, as many science objectives as we can, from the seas to the poles. Not to mention a permanent base.

Are the cosmology guys still interested in the observatory on the dark side?

You mean far side? They’d give their left nut for one. Cuts out all that interference from here.

Why don’t you ask for that?

What? You mean the observatory?

No. I mean all of it. Manned. Unmanned. Base. Everything.

Are you kidding? The cost would be immense.

Give me a figure.

Off the top of my head. 500 Billion over the ten years. And that is a conservative figure.

Are you including using the private companies as much as possible?

Not sure if it would be appropriate but I guess they could only shave five to ten billion off that figure at most. We’ll be using most of that money developing the new hardware we’re going to need.

Hmmmmmm. Fine. We’ll ask for that.

You’re mad. You’re seriously Mad. There is no way that congress will agree to that much money.

They will if you frame it right.

What do you mean?

How is the Chinese program coming along?

You know as well as I do that everything they do is under tight security.

They landed a rover on the Moon didn’t they?  

Yes.

They announced plans for another one as well didn’t they?

They did.

So it would be reasonable to assume that they have further plans for the moon, manned program, base, all that stuff?

Reasonable… But by no means certain.

Keep certainty out of this. Isn’t it reasonable?

Yes.

Well that is what you tell people then.

Why should I do that?

Think about it. You just ask for the science package what do you get? Nothing but hmmms and hawwwws about how we “Cherish Science” But all the time cutting the budget. But if you say “Oh my God! The Chinese are going to be on the moon within the decade!” What do you think we will do. They’ll barely open the purse strings for science but if you start talking about beating those godless heathens. Well, that is a completely different story. They might as well sign a blank cheque.

But. But. It feels like lying.

What are you lying about? You said it was reasonable. You said the Chinese program was very secretive. If we supercharge our program we may very well beat them. Not to mention getting all of this good science and infrastructure built. Won’t it be worth it?

I guess.

Good! You should get some of your guys to write online about the “Chinese Threat” and what it will take to beat them quickly. Make sure they clear it with the press office first though.

Ummmm. Okay.

Good! Now if you will excuse me, I have to talk to the Mars guys next, then the gas giant people. If we share the heavy lift programs we might be able to get this all done for less than a Trillion. Won’t that be a thing?

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