Five minutes before the ten o’clock hour on December 10th, “If you live in the Buena Vista area, take cover immediately-in a basement, hallway, closet, or interior room, protected by as many walls as possible!” My dog Max and I, headed for the smallest bathroom. It had no windows. I put on a hooded sweatshirt, pulled the hood up over my head. Covered up with blankets and pillows in the bathtub, we rode out the storm. Put my arm around Max–who trembled with fear. “Max, I don’t know how this will turn out. If we die, we’ll die together.”
I would never again complain about TV meteorologists and interrupted programs. Lightning and thunder shook the foundation. Then it became ghostly quiet. Wind blew, the likes of which I’d never heard before. The lights went out. Wind propelled objects bounced off outside house walls. It was over, after three of the…
Research is often far more important to a story than the writer’s imagination!
I posted this as part of a short story back in 2013 after a period of extensive research. Out of it came two of my books, the science fiction adventure Cataclysm in November 2014, and the extremey short historical novella Autumn 1066in June 2017.
Most readers simply fail to appreciate the amount of work that writers like myself put into researching the subject of any book we produce. Sadly some of our fellow writers are totally clueless when it comes to the importance of research. In their case it becomes all to evident how little they appreciate the hard work involved when you read their often disparaging reviews of well researched books.
Now take a look below at the common background information for the two books in question. By the way, if while reading you…
Our blogging friend and author Jack Eason has a new book released soon. Four short stories compiled into a 28-page book, ‘East Wind: A Love Story’.
‘A long short story about four differing aspects of love, the last being ‘the love that shall not speak it’s name’.
Jack Eason Jack Eason lived in New Zealand for forty-two years until 2000 when he returned to his birthplace in England. As far as he is concerned he will always consider himself to be a Kiwi. After military service in the 1960’s, he travelled the world, visiting exotic lands and making many friends. At seventy-three he is content to write and travel via the Internet. Besides writing novels and short stories, he contributes to his own blog “Have We Had Help?” Some of his short stories and numerous articles appear in the No: 1 online E-zine “Angie’s DIARY”. His literary interests include…
Schools are Covid super-spreaders and this a truth which could be universally acknowledged if there were not so many attempts to deny it. Why? Because schools cannot stay closed for long, no matter how fast the virus spreads. On this purpose we are given the most extraordinary procedures on a daily basis, which, however underestimate one question: those who are in charge to think and plan believe that students observe rules in the same way North Korean parliament does when Kim Jong-un attends sessions,
while they should likely reason more on the Italian parliamentarian model of behaviour to get something right.
For example, makingthe use of masks mandatory for students is a good thing, but it would be really effective only if they kept them stuck on their mouths. This means that those teenagers should never move from their seats and pull their masks down to make themselves heard by…
The loud knock on his front door insured his heart rate increased dangerously. He signed for his large consignment. Thanked the delivery driver. Then closed and locked the door, before dropping to his knees in a state of panic. Doubts began to multiply in Ansell’s mind. Whatever possessed him to buy such a thing in the first place? Did he dare open the package? What if his neighbours found out what it contained? Worse, what if his frosty relatives became aware of his secret desire? His aunts had always thought he had deviant leanings!
Because of its size, it would not be easy to hide from view once activated. For months he had been debating with himself whether or not to purchase the thoroughly desirable contents of the box that now stood against one wall of his hallway almost as tall as him. In the end, the reason he decided to go for it was simply because he lived on his own. He needed companionship. Yet when it came to a normal relationship with a living breathing human being, he was terrified!
For the first time in his life, he had made a decision completely out of character. A nagging doubt still bothered him. What if someone at the bank he used noticed the abnormally high purchase price among his normal weekly income and bill payments on his account? Ansell had never spent so much money in his entire life!
After cutting the packaging tape sealing the box, carefully he began removing the lid of the innocuous cardboard outer packaging, checking its surface for any incriminating stickers or labels from the manufacturer. The clear molded plastic inner cover was a dead giveaway when it came to what it contained.
He would have to cut the two halves of the inner cover into small pieces, feeding them gradually into the garbage bin over the next few weeks. Possibly even months. Ansell dreaded the thought, but if the bin men guessed what he had bought, he was certain he would die of embarrassment! The very thought of the inevitable knowing glances, nudges, winks, and comments about his choice of life partner made him feel uneasy to say the least…
He gently picked up his purchase and took it to the spare chair directly opposite his in the living room, before putting it down equally gently. He was surprised by how heavy it was. He sat mesmerized by its beauty and shape; noting how soft it felt to the touch when he carried it in his arms.
Unlike his usual practice in the past, this was the one time when he needed to pay attention to the instruction manual. One wrong move on his part and he may make a costly mistake.
At the very least, inattention to the very specific instructions may in all probability void the guarantee. Ansell put down the instruction manual. His head was beginning to ache from sheer concentration. He sat back and briefly closed his eyes. In his mind’s eye, he could see his purchase in all its sensual glory. His first thought about it was correct. It is beautiful. Still not comfortable with it being there with him in his home, he decided to wait before going any further. He knew there was no going back once he activated it. Unable to bring himself to do it, he drifted off once again. This time dreaming about the many hours of secret pleasure that lay ahead of him if he kept it.
The instruction manual included an extensive list of things which under no circumstances must his purchase ever be subjected to. Some brought a wry smile to his face. Others simply left him completely baffled! Surely no one had done the things mentioned, had they? The adage ‘there’s nowt as queer as folk’ occurred to him.
The list of what could be done positively boggled his mind. Ansell had always shied away from anything like this. The whole idea of what this represented, left him with a mixture of fright and self loathing…
Should he throw caution to the wind and activate it? He began imagining holding a conversation with it. Then dismissed the idea from his mind as an utterly preposterous notion! It was bad enough that he talked to himself! So what would he do with it? For now, just looking at its undoubted feminine beauty was enough. The more he looked the more his animal desire for it grew. The voice in his head taunted him, “Go on Ansell. You know you want to. Who’s going to know you’ve got it?” His last thought was his chief worry in a nutshell! What if someone in authority came to the door demanding to be let in? Should he hide it? If so where? Despite its desirability and the thought of hours of pleasure with it, if Ansell wanted peace of mind to return to his sheltered existence. In the end he decided his recent purchase had to be returned to the manufacturer if only for sanity’s sake…
Once again he had learned a valuable lesson. Reality dictates that you must always be careful what you wish for.
So, what’s next?
It had been two days since Ansell’s consignment had been delivered to him. His heart rate dropped back to its normal state as his paranoia died away.
Every time he looked at its beautiful face, he convinced himself that it was pleading with him to be allowed to stay. So, what’s next? Despite his misgivings, the world had not invaded his home. Unless he took it outside, his secret was safe. No one beyond his front door knew what he had bought. He never had visitors. Ansell decided not to go on torturing himself any longer.
Having made up his mind to keep it, he spent several hours studying the instruction manual once again. This time with it sat on his lap with its head resting on his shoulder. As he read and re-read each part of the instruction manual, absentmindedly he began stroking its hair. He almost had a heart attack when it softly moaned in ecstasy! Ansell dropped the instruction manual. As he rose from his chair in a blind panic, his purchase fell against the coffee table, letting out a cry of pain. How could this be? As far as he knew he hadn’t activated it…
Regaining his composure he picked it up and sat it in his chair. “I don’t understand,” he began. “I haven’t activated you?”
Then she turned towards him. Gone was the vacant stare of a lifelike doll. Life itself shone in her bewitching blue-green eyes. “I self-activated when you removed me from the package and carried me so gently in your arms. I just knew you would always be kind Ansell.”
“Good god you can talk!”
“Of course I can.”
“How did you know my name?”
“While you were sleeping last night I accessed your laptop. By checking every internet site you frequent I was able to learn a lot about you, including your name.”
Feeling a little uncomfortable about her background investigation of him, he asked “but why didn’t you say anything before I dropped you? I hope you weren’t hurt when you fell. How can you self-activate? Do you have a name?”
“I was given the name Siri on the day you ordered me. Yes I do feel physical pain. As for how I self-activated, let me explain.” For the next two hours Ansell listened totally enthralled by what Siri revealed about herself. What really blew his mind was when she explained that while most sexbots are pre-programmed only with vocal responses due to physical contact, in her case she is a high end virtual intelligence, fully self-aware. “There is one thing Ansell.”
“I would like clothes to wear other than what I’m nearly wearing at the moment, except when we are in bed. But you must choose them. It would not be appropriate for me to choose a wardrobe.”
“I am your sexbot. You must cloth me in what you would like me to wear.”
“But you’re not my sexbot are you? You are a sentient being.” Ansell replied with a smile on his face. “Why don’t we choose what you want to wear together. I promise, no one will ever know.” With Siri seated on his lap once more he opened his laptop and between them they internet shopped. In a few days, the clothing would arrive. For the rest of the day they got to know each other.
The next morning when Ansell opened his eyes, Siri lay with her head on his chest and her arms wrapped around him while she continued to recharge from her plug-in power supply. Ansell thought about when they made love hours earlier before he fell asleep in her arms utterly exhausted, but deliriously happy for the first time in his life. He hoped she felt the same way. “To answer your unspoken thought my love – yes I do. Can I get you breakfast? What would you like?”
“How about you on toast?” Siri giggled and kissed his cheek as she rose out of bed and went to the kitchen.
A year went by. Because of her, Ansell had come out of his shell. Siri was everything he had ever wanted. He worshipped the ground she walked on. He often encountered her humming to herself with a smile on her beautiful face. The only thing that truly mattered to either one of them was that they loved each other…
This is the most wonderful time of the year. It has always been so since I was a little girl to me, and this is not for Christmas in itself, but because all my “events” are concentrated in this part of the year in a fabulous bacchanal which stretches from my birthday on December 3rd to Christmas, name-day on the 26th – as Mrs Tink’s name is actually Stefania – to go to New Years’ celebrations and the coming of the Befana on the 6th of January. This was still the most wonderful time of the year even when I realized that as I was growing older, rather than receiving a present for each singular celebration it had become customary to get 1 present for all of them together. A bigger one, I was said. A big scam I thought. This is still the most wonderful time…
After I first read about the original sets of Ivory chess pieces found in the vicinity of Uig on the Isle of Lewis sometime around 1831, I’ve lusted after a full-sized set of my own.
With the worldwide ban on collecting Ivory thanks to the CITES convention, the only sets available are made from resin like mine pictured above, or maybe cattle bone. Although I’ve yet to hear of any in the latter medium…
The main difference between this set and others is that the pawns look like grave markers and the queen is decidedly masculine. The pieces are massive in comparison to traditional chess sets. Take the King for instance. He measures in at 2 inches wide by 1and a 1/4 inches deep by 3 and a 1/2 inches tall. As a consequence I’ve had to order a much bigger chess board – 19″ made from Mahogany and Sycamore…
It started, as all really good stories do, with a scream. Now this is where the temple warden suffers for his or her role. They are forced by fate and the need to present an unflinching face to the world to take the initiative. So where a lesser mortal can say, conversationally, to a neighbour, “Was that a scream? Somebody ought to see what is going on,” the temple warden is the one who has to see what is going on. The scream came from a corridor leading into the main hall of the shrine. Almost immediately after the scream a mendicant fled out of the corridor and hid itself amongst the other assembled mendicants. Given that even with a cursory inspection I would have noticed dripping blood or similar, it struck me that the mendicant was doubtless neither a victim nor an assailant. So cautiously I ventured down the…
It’s funny the things you miss. Over half a lifetime ago when I was still living in New Zealand, I used to love hunting a Captain Cooker pig like the one pictured above once a year, or the odd feral goat.
I owned three firearms. The first, and my favourite, was my 45 calibre Pedersoli, Flintlock action, Kentucky Long Rifle.
It was the perfect tool to dispatch a Captain Cooker, because unlike a modern rifle, the undergrowth of the New Zealand bush muffles the sound of a shot fired from a black powder weapon. Providing I got to within one hundred yards of the pig, and managed to get myself behind, and slightly to one side of the beast, to aim just behind the ear, the rifle’s lead ball did it’s duty quickly and efficiently. Anywhere else and all you would do is wound the animal. Trust me when I…
In a previous post, at the beginning of this outbreak, I had stated that the experience of disasters often promotes social changes and the coming together of communities in order to help one another, as the presence of a common enemy, like this virus, reinforces the impression of being an active part a community. And, this is how it started: together. Despite the shock, fears and heavy lockdowns, we all gathered singing together from our balconies, showing our rainbows of hope, hands together, brothers and sisters from all over the world saying: everything will end well. We truly believed so. I did. However, after almost two years, not only the battle against Covid hasn’t ended yet, but that feeling of brotherhood seems to be lost. What went wrong?
After such a long time it is natural to feel psychologically worn out and restless. We all have the impression to have…