The Barlow Bridge Machine

D.S. Hodges

BlaiseHall-BarlowBridge-front

 

Chapter 1

17 May 1940: A time tear

 

We had gone back in time. Only a few days, but it would be enough. Wacker and I hid in a closed thicket on the far side of the river from the French gun emplacement. A perfect spring day. Buds hung off the thick shrub bank. A sweet spring smell floated on the soft gossamer wind. Song birds played hide and go seek through the branches while bees and butterflies danced in the air. The spring mid-afternoon sun, bright and piercing like a searchlight, made us shield our eyes. We hid, like two wanted men, waiting for our time to go, waiting for hell. We lay there, concealed, even though the French had no guards, no patrols. They were confident on their own land, behind their thick, banked hedge.

We knew them. We had drunk and eaten with them, yet still we hid. Guilt? Guilt that we knew they would soon be dead? Their souls ripped from their bodies? Probably. The Phoney War had carried on for months while the French army rotted in their defensive positions, waiting. They did not train, they just waited, day after endless day, week after countless week. When the invasion of France started, just seven days ago, the Allies were wrong footed, and had been trying to stem an unstoppable tide. This counterattack by the Allies would eventually fail. Our job was to buy enough time for the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to retreat to England.

Wacker and I synchronised watches. Wacker, broad as a tank, his face set hard in concentration, set his watch to mine. I warned him not to change anything. We must only do what we set out to do: plant a package into the dead lieutenant’s pocket. If we did anything more, we would alter the past and that would cause a ‘tear’ in time. That tear would become a rip, and then more rips would form. More and more until a conflux of rips would rupture time into a parallel universe.

One hour. We crossed the bridge and walked a little way along the road. It was potted and patched with dirt. Our feet crunched like popcorn on the gritty surface. The sun was lower now, our shadows longer, but the birds still swooped and fed as insects danced across the blossom. We picked our spot where the hedge looked thinner, and then clambered up the bank and through the hedgerow, sliding down through the prickles and weeds into the field. Its crop was hand high. Wheat. We made our way along the field boundary to behind the French emplacement. We drew closer, steadily creeping along the edge of the field. Why? I did not know, but it felt like intruding, spying on something that should be left unseen.

There were voices now, caught on the zephyr breeze. Happy, laughing. A sing-song voice, a deeper voice, a brickbat noise. Then the distinctive sound of mortars howling through the sky. Soon, a deeper roar of German artillery. We hit the ground, the smell of dirt in my nostrils; my hands over my ears, nearly deafened by the noise. Then silence as if the whole world was stunned. A smell of burnt flesh, high explosives, and melted metal hung low above the field. We choked in the fog of war. In that hanging stillness, Wacker and I again crept forward. The French camp was a shambles—taken completely by surprise.

They began to come to. Their number one gun was destroyed. Around their number two gun were a few injured men, their groans clear in the sizzling after effects. French calls and shouts, orders barked. Then a French gun boomed.

Planet Song

T.K. Boomer

planet-song-front-1

 

Teracia unfolded herself from the flaps of the manta and waved it off. The giant ceph jetted away, moving far faster empty than it had with a passenger. She watched as it rose toward the surface, spread its diaphanous wings, and soared the ocean currents. Teracia felt a twinge of guilt for interrupting its day.

She turned and looked across the swimway at Song Corp’s headquarters, a giant teal-blue dome that mimicked an aroused male diaphragm. Centrix city had many palaces and impressive government buildings. This trumped them all. Teracia felt the ballow on her forehead inflate and its neutral beige morph into a swirling tempest of rage red and fear yellow. She fought to control it, drawing water slowly through her gills to force a return to the beige.

Three security guards floated in a line behind the entrance to the building. Fit and young fahr, they showed no signs of song addiction. Each held a pitch wand. Behind them a coral garden beckoned with a collection of radiant trophy fish and a few gauzy shrimp.

Teracia swam forward. “I have an appointment.”

“You’re the femfahr?” the one on the right asked. His pitch wand moved to within a few inches of her diaphragm.

Teracia said nothing but felt the beige yellow and then to pink into irritation. The pitch wand was capable of inflicting severe pain when touched against the male Fahr diaphragm but would have no effect on her. She glared at the guard until his ballow inflated and mauved into embarrassment.

“Of course she is,” said the second one. “If you would follow me, Mamini.”

Someone had taught him the ancient form of femfahr address. Teracia allowed her gill slits a small ripple of pleasure. It was a nod to a time when the fahr expressed their sexuality, when males noticed females. Now the femfahrs were little more than objects of curiosity, mistakes made in the reproductive labs, pitied because songs could not arouse them and males had no interest.

The guard led Teracia past the coral garden and into the stunted kelp forest beyond. A blue-green jelly, a favorite food, pulsed into Teracia’s peripheral vision, she snag-tongued it, pulling it into her mouth and swallowing.

“Not many job applicants would poach in the Song Corp forests on the way to meet Lord Greyling,” the guard said.

“Not many job applicants are called in to meet him personally,” Teracia replied allowing just enough gold into her ballow so show a hint of arrogance.

The Citadel 7 Superverse just got a lot bigger.

Yuan Jur

citadel-7


 A Test of Good and Evil, Book 3 in the Citadel 7 saga by Yuan Jur is now available!

a-test-of-good-and-evil

The US Review of Books said amidst other positive observations about book two in Yuan Jur’s Citadel 7 series, War and Lies; Fans of science fiction that go deeper than space ships and bug-eyed aliens might want to give his series a try. Read more here.

Yuan Jur’s Citadel 7 series is vast in scope for any interested in grand scale Time Travel Paranormal epics featuring heroes and villains many and varied. Jur’s third offering and award winning title, A Test of Good and Evil, launched World Wide through Promontory Press on the 4th of Oct 2016.

What’s it about?

“Nothing’s as it seems!”

Like a dynamic spring board beyond anything we’ve seen before, the concluding volume of Citadel 7’s opening trilogy keeps our heroes Ben, Uniss and Dogg in a pressure-cooker to the very end.

The existence of the Superverse now hangs in the balance.

herexBen Blochentackle’s life and understanding of reality have been changed forever with what his mentors Uniss and Dogg have exposed him to. All he thought about his life is proving false. As the ante continues to be raised ever higher nothing it seems can stop Lord Herrex or his insane Evercycle mother, Three, from reaching their objective. Uniss has been kidnapped and Dogg’s life is at great risk as the Scarzen-Flaxon race war rages on.

Underneath it all, something even more sinister is at work, and Ben discovers that he is somehow the key to either victory or oblivion for the entire conflict.

For interested BGS book review club members ARC copy of ATG will be made available soon. Meanwhile Bk2 War & Lies is still available for review or purchase. As always we appreciate BGS members’ reviews.

Yuan Jur’s author Central page and titles can be found here.

The Border Reiver

Nick Christofides

nick reading

ONE

 

The end of the world for one man can be a new beginning for another. For the men who met in that barn, the end was here. It was January, just above freezing, but the Siberian winds swept over the land like Mongol hordes biting flesh with icy fangs. The rain fell like daggers; it rapped off the tin roof of the stone shed. They were south-west of Wooler, close to the Scottish Border.

The Cheviot Hills loomed in the darkness. The howling weather battered the already beaten structure, but there was an orange glow radiating from lights within, offering the warmth of the inn to a traveller. The heat from the assembled men appeared like smoke, rising from rain drenched coats inside the confines of the shelter. There must have been a hundred ruddy farmers rammed into the barn. They gathered not through choice — it was the fear of change that brought these normally solitary beasts together.

The smell of silage wafted through the space, while a muted hubbub filled the airwaves. The rotund, red-faced orator, who now hushed the crowd, was a man named Rowell. He farmed near enough four hundred acres outside Hexham. Fit as a fiddle though well into his seventies, the man was flanked by his three sons.

As he smashed his fist into his open palm, he bellowed and blustered about the choice these men had to make. Give up their land and livelihood to the local collectives or, with support from Scotland, fight the land reforms. For most, the decision was already sown in the land.

The howling wind which whipped the shelter foretold the storm that was to come. In a dark corner sat a hunched figure, head down with white hair hung loose, meandering around his weathered brow. His hands were clamped together, resting on his lap, swollen and sore from pulling sheep out of snow. As he opened his eyes, Nat Bell looked upon the throng; although he knew every face, he had nothing to say to one. Some looked towards him for direction, but he bowed his head once more, his mind ready to explode as the evils amplified within his skull.

The Antorus Saga: Prequel

Mukhtar Farid

 

“Dr. Atkins Jacob the person responsible for new designs
of the android looked gloomily at his creation.The androids
were augmented with new artificial intelligence via the upload
of the program by the android leader originally created by Dr.Atkins
which ultimately backfired as the androids started considering
itself superior to the humans and the answer to the age old
question-how can peace really be established
Atkins had to endure harsh criticisms of his work instead of a barrage
of accolades and awards he hoped to receive..”

Lucifer: Soldiers, Serpents and Sin – Book 1 A Clash of Lightning and Thunder

David Taylor II

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00075]

 

Chapter 0 – What and Where is When?
Nihil

 

The Grove was burning. The air around him tasted like soot and he could feel countless embers lighting on his skin. There were coconut and apple trees ablaze in every direction, and entire crops of wheat, corn and barley were ruined. The closest body of water was The Holy River. It loomed in the background as a place of refuge as the number of troops incurring plasma burns continued to mount.

The Ophanim started panicking because all of their eyes were stinging from the black smoke and they were paralyzed. The shrieks of millions of angry brethren started to shred his ears. Even at that distance he could glimpse The Leaves and smell their chestnut scent, but now his direct line to them was blocked. His lips were cracked from dehydration. As he turned to look up, he was sloshing around ankle-deep in puddles of acrid purple blood. What he saw when he looked up meant there was more bloodshed to come.

Was the Cocoon showing him this? Was this a dream?

Or a prophecy?

He didn’t know. And then it was time to be born.

 

TIMELESSNESS

Far northeast corner of The City
Inside the Creation Complex, Room 12
Creation Cocoon #6

 

Pain shot through his back as he stirred his wings with that initial flutter; wings make a funny porcelain crinkling sound the first time you move them.

The inner jelly of the Creation Cocoon was beginning to melt around him, and he smelled himself. Or rather, he smelled the very typical creation smells of burnt candle wicks, oranges and pauperie. He felt the cocoon’s glowing BirthSilk strings dripping down his shoulders, as he slowly stirred out of the fetal position and moved into kneeling. His tongue felt like chalk as the sweltering heat of emergence continued to caress every millimeter of his taut pink skin. He would later wonder if there wasn’t some kind of strange, fleshly painting process going on. He couldn’t tell if the creation jelly was melting off of him or into him. Every Cherub’s beginning in the pearl encased Cocoon was sacred unto The Throne, yet he knew inside of himself, before he could even feel all six of his incandescent hearts beating…that somehow he was something special.
His dream was still somewhere inside of him. He wasn’t sure where. Yet.

Thoughts can move faster than words, so his brain was full of ideas his tongue couldn’t quite articulate. His throat reeds sounded very tinny as he breathed. His biggest concern was the fact that he was stone blind. He didn’t know yet that the last things to fully form are the eyes, and no matter how many pairs one had, it seemed that so much of The Realm was blurry and out of focus after emerging. The eye sockets may as well have been filled with tangerine jam for all the good they were in those first few days. At least, that’s what all the brethren said to him later. His experience was no exception, but he wondered why that was so.

Did he hear a call while he was emerging? Was he being personally addressed? He couldn’t quite tell. The frequent and confusing audio static was either in the cocoon or in his head. “Birth ears are not your friends,” they’d tell him later. He felt what seemed to be three pairs of gentle hands around him, but couldn’t make out whose they were. These mysterious hands were embedding something in his still-forming guts, something metallic…and he couldn’t wait to be able to see well enough to discover what it was. He felt soft somehow, almost lumpy, like manna dough; not the greatest feeling. Creation Day experiences were nebulous at best.

His very first cohesive thought after emergence? I’m a mushy metal mess, he said to himself. I love it. Give me more.

It must have been eighteen full days or so in timelessness before he could see worth anything. He realized upon waking from what had been a series of naps, deep slumber, and whiteout sleep, that his sides still felt really strange. But maybe that’s normal too, he thought. He looked down towards his abdomen and discovered pipes! And tabrets! His lower rib cage seemed to be made of reeds, similar to the ones that made up his larynx. This was awesome. This meant he was a Sound Generator and not just a Responder. That also meant, according to the Data Stream that was fed to him during his cocoon cycles, that he was most likely going to be a part of worship in The Realm. Like worship for real. It was such an honor for any of the brethren to be involved in worship at any level, because it meant being closer to The Throne on regular occasions.

Though that would involve a certain level of danger.

It also indicated that he was a naturally created leader, and the perks of that were beyond imagination. At least, according to the Data Stream that is. He was still newborn to The Realm, and aside from hearing the assorted and jumbled whispers of the brethren (because he had no proper name yet), the Data Stream was all he had to go on. That didn’t stop his skin from going all goosebumpy with anticipation.

And then he sat up too quickly, clonked his head on the pod ceiling and passed out.

For the next three weeks, his creation place was his home. The northeast corner that contained the most flat and level ground in The City was where he was. That’s where the massive circular Creation Complex was, and it housed the Creation Cocoons and Recovery Beds. One huge continuous grey quartz wall with yellow streaks and golden spikes on the walltop encased the Complex. Every twelve meters on that wall, there was a Class I Cherubim armed with a FireSword standing guard. The Cherubim’s eyes were open around the clock, both the eyes in his head and the eyes on his wings. Nobody gave the Class I Cherubim any attitude except the Seraphim, but they gave everybody attitude.

The all marble front gate would only open to let a newborn out, or let his personal guide in. At the time of his creation there was a total of fifty-six rooms, all coated with alabaster and silver. The three kinds of rooms in the Complex were laboratories, Creation Chambers or Recovery Beds. Most of the brethren didn’t like the cylindrical shape of the Creation Chambers, but they had learned to deal with it.

Sometimes between assignments brethren of all classes would visit the Complex. They’d congregate just outside the walls to share whispers. Many of the brethren also wanted small diamonds to add to their collections, and they could easily find them around the Creation Complex grounds. The cocoons inside the Creation Chambers were encased in pearl, and after they’d been used one of the byproducts from their expended Genesis Energy was small, nearly flawless diamonds. Ironically said diamonds were daily thrown out by the Cherubim attending the newborns. These discarded jewels then “somehow found their way out of the trash bins” and into the hands of certain brethren. Some of the more decorated brethren laughed at these diamond runs because they were unearned gems. Or so it was whispered.

Though the Creation Cocoons were arranged inside the individual chambers in groups of three, with no more than twelve to a cylindrical room, one or two cocoons at most were in use at any given time. The Throne liked to bring living things into existence in a circular environment of safety, giving each newborn their due attention.

And his day to leave all of that was fast approaching like a thunderclap.

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