Author : Andrew Segal

Brachyuran Shifter ships poured themselves though the Dreen wormhole; in seconds they would deliquesce to reform light years away. Then the skies above the bulbous undulating Freddyan busker hive would darken and collapse into a million blood red shards…

That was further than Carl thought he would reach tonight, he scratched his head. Eric’s email, in its insulting tone, had really annoyed him. Yes, Eric had been correct, he had been running out of ideas for describing inter-galactic space travel, craft stuttered, jumped, Flittered, FTL’d, gated, stardrived, vortexed, hyperspaced, particle crunched, teleported, warped, weaved, sieved, impulsed, bussarded, ramjeted and otherwise flung themselves across the universe. So what? So it sounded better than silver spaceships being fired across the galaxy, but he liked the silver spaceships, redolent of the rocket powered optimism of the fifties. He felt sick of the constraints of the logged on internet junkie tech savvy reader who bemoaned the very existence of gleaming rocket ships, of robots wired together with valves and transistors, of a.i.’s that burned out analysing jokes. Rocket ships should just land on alien worlds; Cosmonauts should fight it out amongst hordes of multi-armed barbaric mono-cultured insect men without the requirement of quantum mechanics or oxygen masks or thinly disguised contemporary political machinations.

Carl lazily dragged the ringing phone from its plastic nest,



The phone rocked back in the cradle.

No star ship in a Carl Acumen novel was going to swim the cosmic ether, (one had once in ‘Water Planet; Wet Express’, but well, it was for kids), whatever Eric thought. Eric was a fossil; literally, a desiccated zombie of a man, according to the doodle Carl had sketched on the pad beside the phone, during the previous evening’s interminably long and wildly unnecessary discussion into the propulsion systems of non-existent plot devices. Carl had argued that all real star travel would have consequences; opening wormholes would be ridiculously dangerous, Eric just wanted a new word.

If Eric wanted his star ships to swim, he could correct the proofs himself. He never would, Elaine would, just as she always corrected Eric’s editorial flights of fancy before they reached the printers. Carl knew he was safe, he returned to the final chapter of ‘Dreen war; Plasma Suns’. The real sun projected an intense white moving line of early morning light across the desk, as he continued typing out to the beat of a high octane track crackling out of tinny computer speakers. The climatic ending, set high above the immense Freddyan busker hive, turned out fine, for the heroes. Admittedly, Carl had been saddened by the destruction of the millennia old hive, an ancient cultural artefact destroyed for story expediency, but the readers never gave a damn about it so why should he. The book was finished. Carl managed to save it just before the electrics went off. Just another East coast brown out.

He headed to the kitchen, past the small grouping of family photos, some faded by the bright sunlight. He ignored them; a habit which had began to form after Isabelle’s last phone conversation. He turned his head away, as he passed them.

This book would keep him above water for a little while if the car avoided its rust coronary.

He grinned and looked out of the kitchen window, across the bay.

There was another sun in the sky, smaller, but becoming increasingly brighter, growing in intensity and expanding across the horizon.

Standing in the kitchen, He watched the immense wave of light approaching.

Carl wished he could swim.

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