A'int No Atmosphere

The reason why Kevin was advised to hold on tightly became apparent almost immediately.  The vertical pole to which he was hanging on to, once clear of the floor, took a ninety degree bend turn and became a handrail.  This however was not the reason.

The actual reason was due to the abrupt shift in gravity; from some to none.  The other thing that there was none of was mostly everything.  All Kevin could see was the floor (or wall or ceiling) with the rail leading off in both directions.  The rest was black, vast, foreboding with twinkly bits in it.

'What the..?' yelped Kevin as his legs flailed around ineffectually.

Kara had flipped a panel open and was firmly bashing randomly flashing keys, 'Stupid...bloody...Ah, that's better.'

There was a shushing noise as a hatch slid across the hole they had recently emerged from.

'That's better.' She added.

'We're in...we're in...' stuttered Kevin

'Space.  Yes, I know.'

'But we're...' Kevin's free hand gestured towards his mouth.

'Breathing.  Yes.  This,' she bangs on the floor/wall giving a hollow clunking noise in response,'is a space ship.  One fortunately with a force field.  It is keeping the air in.'

'I thought they were used to stop bullets and stuff?'

'They were originally designed for that, but then it was discovered that you could build a much cheaper space ship if it wasn't airtight.  You know - no airlocks and spacesuits and all of that pallaver.'

'The pallaver that keeps you alive?'

'The only important thing was the engine.  If you had airlocks, space suits and pressurization and all that jazz and a non-working engine then you would be just as dead a ship with just a force field and a non-working engine.'

Several of the small dots now appeared to be moving.  Not just moving, but moving towards Kara and Kevin at fast rate.

'Hold on,' cried Kara as hundreds of small bits of space ship looking debris bounced along the hull.

Kevin wrapped himself around the handrail the best he could as several items of the junk bashed off him.  Fotunately his hold held.  A massive chunk of mass the size of a medium sized detatched house followed the smaller debris, however this was at a further and safer distance away from the space ship.  It was clearly meticallic, sparks flashed all over it and parts were on fire.  It looks like someone had ripped a cash machine right out of the wall of a bank.

'What's that?' asked Kevin suspiciously.

Kara mumbled something.

'Sorry, didn't quite catch that?'

'It was the engine.'

'Nice.  Open the door, while we can still breath.'

'I can't.  The way back has gone now.  I had to cut the link.'

'This is just getting better and better.  Why did you cut off our only way back?  We could've gone back.'

'If we had we would be dead by now.  We were being followed.'


'C'mon,' replied Kara sprightly.

© Copyright 2010 Paul Phillips

Renewable Energy

A silouette of a tall, thin man carrying a large bag appeared at the pub's doorway.

The figure entered. Here was a man whose features were so gaunt, his skin so leathery, there was no way to estimate his age. He was dressed in an immaculately sharp and fitted black suit which made him look even thinner. He dropped the thick leather brown bag on the floor under a coatstand, next to a table where a young couple were embracing each other. He spots Castor sitting at a table across the room and smiles a wide grin revealing a shiny gold tooth; amongst otherwise a perfect rack of pearly white teeth.

He weaves his way through the other customers, who are in varying states of conversation and sobriety.

'Rodan, it's been a long time.'

'Far too long, old friend.'

The lights blink off and on a few times. The barman tries flicking the switch a couple of times in vain.

'I have been following your work, though.' continued Rodan, 'I take it Yersinia Pestis was one of yours?'

'Well spotted. I loved the way 'bubonic' rolled off the tongue. It was very popular.  It passed onto about a thousand different planets.  You could even say it went viral.'

'I always said you had a "black" sense of humour.' They both laughed, with Rodan's being hearty and Castor more of a hissing, weasing sort of noise.

'Very good,' says Castor. The lights flicker again. 'What is up with these lights?'

Rodan smiles again, 'You'll like this. Do you see that bag over there?'


'It's full of these,' He tosses a glowing lumious green bar to Castor.

'Pretty,' Castor says as he rubs it next to his skin on his face, 'It's tickling, it's making my insides bubble. What is it?'

'They call them boron control rods.'

'What are they for?'

'Well. Do you know that nuclear power plant down the road?'

'Yes.' The room goes dark and the ground shook for a moment. Everything stood up including drinks, bottles, lamps were thrown violently onto their sides.

'They are supposed to stop it doing that. Going boom that is.'

Castor claps with childish glee, 'Excellent.'

The young couple, who had moved on from embracing to full on smooching, hadn't noticed that the bag Rodan had left by them had itself taken on a luminous green glow.  Engrossed in their current activities they hadn't noticed anything that had been going on around them.  It wasn't until they effortlessly had both pulled large clumps of hair from each other's scalps, revealing large bloodied bald spots, that broke them from their own little reverie.  At this point the girl lets out a shrill scream at the clump of hair in her hand and then at the clump of her hair in his. She grabs her head in shame and runs from the pub, boyfriend in close pursuit.

'Whoops,' says Rodan matter-of-factly.

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© Copyright 2010 Paul Phillips

Corridor's End

'How far now?' moans Kevin, 'We've been walking for hours.'

'That's relative,' replies Kara.


'The place we are going won't come into existence for around a thousand years after when we met on the train. It had blinked back out of existence a hundred million years ago from where we are now.'

Kevin stops walking.

'It'll take as long as it takes,' says Kara as she grabs his arm and drags him onwards.

'There's something up ahead,' Kevin adds petulantly.

They had finally arrived at the end of the corridor.

A dull metallic pole runs vertically from a hole in the ceiling to an opposite one in the floor. On the wall past the pole a small, rectangular, yellow piece of paper with an arrow crudely drawn on it in crayon. It was pointing down.

'It looks like we're going down then.' asks Kevin

Kara consults her wrist map again, 'Do you like spiders?'

'What like to eat them? Or as pets?'

'To face up to. Nose to .. er .. mandible.'

'What kind of spiders?'

'The big, hairy, people eating kind.'

'Ooh. Let me think. No. Definitely not.'

Kara pulls the note from the wall and puts it back with the arrow now pointing upwards, 'We'd better go this way then.' She hops onto the post, wraps both of her legs around it and shoots upwards in a rapid ascent through the hole.

'Don't let go of the pole when you come up,' she shouts down.

As Kevin's hand reaches out to the pole he can feel an upward pull, like gravity, only in the wrong direction.

He jumps onto the pole, only he held on so tightly he wasn't moving in either direction. As he loosened his grip slightly he began to rise slowly.

Soon he passed through the hole in the ceiling.

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© Copyright 2010 Paul Phillips

Plink, Plink, Fizz

Castor sat alone. The round bright red and white checked tablecloth seemed to dull the nearer it reached in his direction. Three seats sat empty across from him.

He looked how a man would look if he had never bathed, washed, cleaned, scrubbed or brushed since birth. The colour of his skin was indeterminable as it was mostly covered in filth, weaping scabs and boils. His clothes were hung on his thin frame rather than worn. They too suffered a severe lack of cleanliness and had taken threadbare to the next level. Moss grew over the pockets. The only two points that could be considered bright were his eyes, which stared with an intense ferocity as if trying to bore a hole through the fabric of reality.

Grime encrusted fingers, positioned on either side, increased pressure around the yellow and brown puss-filled boil. Showing a small amount of resistance, the pustule gave in squirting a stream of sticky, foul smelling goo over Castor's stained and sullied shirt.
"Ah, such excuisite pain."

The barman appeared at his side, "Hey, cut that out. About a Parrot is a family pub. There are children here."

"So there are. My apologies. I meant no...", he looks around as if to pick the word out of the air, "...harm."

The lights flicker briefly, then returned to full luminescence. Both Castor and the barman looked around quizically.

The barman places a drink and a newspaper down on the table in front of Castor, "You know, you don't look like a hot chocolate kind of guy."

"I like the colour, the clumpy bits of congealed brown goo and the burning sensation you get in your throat when it's fresh from the boil."

"Right." stretched out the Barman, "Whatever man."

Castor picks up the paper and starts reading the front page, "Central City epidemic. Thousands dead, millions ill. The unknown source is baffling scientists however they suspect the water supplies."

The barman nose catches some of the putrescent aroma emanating from Castor, then takes a step back. "Dude, you need a bath man." Then he returns to his post behind the bar.

Castor smiles, showing a rough array of disfigured and blackened teeth. "No thanks."

He reminices yesterday's events. Breaking through the electric fence, disabling the motion trackers, wading neck deep into the lake. He remembers the streams of yellows, browns and greens the running outwards from his body into the water. He also remembers looking out down from the mountain lake and noted how the waters ran down through increasing numbers of streams and rivers right into the heart of Central City.

Castor puts the newspaper down on the table, tapping it a couple of times with pride, "I've just had one."

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© Copyright 2010 Paul Phillips

Pining for the Fjords

Kevin follows Kara who was now stomping down the corridor at a marching pace.

"So you know where we are going?" asks Kevin.


"Dare I ask?"

"We are going to see a man; about a parrot."

"A parrot?  What parrot?"

"No. 'About a Parrot'.  It's a pub.  Where people meet, have alcoholic drinks and talk."

"Yes.  I know what a pub is.  So, where is this 'About a Parrot'?" asks Kevin.

Kara stopped.  Kevin noticed that there were two shapes on the floor in the darkness ahead of them.  

Kara scrutinised the diagrams on her wrist, then said, 'Just under a thousand years ago in that direction.'  She resumed her pace.

"What are they?" Kevin said pointing to the shapes on the floor, now only a few feet away.

The larger of the two shapes, turned out to be a large metal robot that was a poor approximation of a human in shape.  It had a huge spherical head  whose diameter was the same as it's disproportionate body below.  Dulled silver platework covered all of the body apart from the black rubbery joints.  It's short legs meant that it's arms stopped just short of the floor when it was standing.  A black line ran around its head from which dropped two green triangular eyes.  The whole ensemble represented a both the comedic yet the tragic in equal proportion.  The robot was lying still, it's humongous head leaning against the corridor's wall.

Beside the tragic metellic figure sat what appeared to Kevin as a normal, every day, regular looking red toaster.  Both objects were covered in a thick layer of dust.

"Other travellers.  Best to leave them alone. C'mon," said Kara as she hopped sprightly over the robot's feet.

Kevin attempted the same manouvre, trips sligtly, then made a running recovery.  They carry on down the corridor.

The two eyes of the robot flashed a couple of times then eventually blinked on.

A plume of dust blew out of the top of the toaster, "What?  Where?  Who wants toast?" it asks no one in particular.

"Typical," compained the robot sardonically.

"What's typical?"

"I have carried you for two hundred thousand years through these corridors.  From the day I picked you up until the day my leg servos wore out and I, with the mind the size of a planet, an infinite list of topics to talk about and all you can do is talk about cooking breakfast meals."

"Are you sure I can't offer you a toasted bagel?"

"For the 263,345,642th time, I don't eat.  Can't we talk about something else?" pleaded the robot.

"What else is there to talk about?  To serve toasted bread, waffles, tea cakes, crumpets is my only, solitary, ultimate purpose in life," said the toaster.

The robot lets out a low, defeated sigh, "Life.  Don't talk to me about life."

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© Copyright 2010 Paul Phillips

Those Displaced Quantums

"So basically you're saying time travel isn't simple?"

"The corridors are temporally fixed.  They go from A to B from date and time 1 to date and time 2."

"So you don’t control them?"

"No, we just use them.  When the tunnels were first discovered we came across some artefacts, devices, which were left behind."

"The builders didn’t tidy away their tools?"

"Something like that.  One of the devices imprints a map, of sorts, onto the recipient’s wrist."  Kara showed Kevin.  What he saw looked like an intricate tattoo on her wrist, except everything was moving.  Images and symbols constantly glowed, ebbed and flowed in and around each other.

"Does that mean anything to you?  It looks like nonsense," he said.

Kara looked into the dancing read out on her wrist, "The device also allows your brain to interpret it all.  A neural upgrade. It seems our brains wouldn’t be able to handle the complexities of all five dimensions otherwise."

"Five dimensions? I thought there were only three?"

"Time is the forth and quantum displacement is the fifth."

"Quanty who-what?"

"Quantum displacement.  The multiple reality principal. Have you heard of the Butterfly Effect?"


"The theory goes that an infinitely small event such as the life of a butterfly can have a ripple effect that can change the outcome of significant events in history."


"Well, it was thought that the same applies to time travel.  You know, you go back in time and kill your grandparents.  But you wouldn’t exist to go back and kill your grandparents, so how could you? A paradox."

"That makes sense."

"Yes, but it's wrong. Every point in reality is fixed.  Time travel by its literal interpretation is impossible.  The past has happened.  However, you can hop across to another reality which is running, I don’t know, a few hours, years behind ours and voila."

"So you’re saying that you can hop into other realities?"

"Not just me. You’re in one now.  How else would you explain this corridor in relation to your own reality?"

"Holy cow."

"I’ve been called worse. Come on."  Kara picked up the pace again.

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© Copyright 2010 Paul Phillips

The Corridor

The door lead into a long grey, dimly lit corridor.  Kevin couldn't even guess at its length as both ends just faded out of vision rather than the usual abrupt stopping you usually get with a wall.  There were no other doors to be seen.  Kara was marching off down the corridor.  "Hurry up slow coach.  The clocks-a-ticking," she called back.

A brief sprint and Kevin had caught up.  The door, the only definable feature in the eerie passageway, was now fading away into the distance leaving nothing to see except Kara, two grey walls, a grey ceiling and a slightly darker grey floor.

"Where on Earth are we?" asked Kevin.

"Always with the assumptions.  Remember what I said earlier?  Think bigger."

Kevin thought about what she had said, "Not-"

"Go on," encouraged Kara.

"on-" continued Kevin.

"Nearly there."


"We have a winner."

 Kevin lost his balance slightly and fell against one of the walls.

"Actually," continued Kara. "We’re technically not anywhere."

"Are you sure I’m not dead?", Kevin says feeling for a pulse in his wrist.

Kara pinched Kevin hard on the arm.  He yelped and jumped a short distance.

"Quite sure.  Some people call it the void, others call it the nothing, null-space, n-space or sub-space."

"What do you call it?"

"A corridor."

"That's not very sci-fi."

"They made the universe too big.  It took too long to get from one end to the other.  So, in their wisdom, they put in short-cuts."

"The universe was built?"

"Yeah, we found that out a few millennia ago.  Believe me, those evolutionist guys were not happy about it."

"I can imagine."

"These short-cuts, corridors, tunnels or whatever you want to call them have been lying around just below reality since the beginning.  They take you from one point in space-time to another point in space-time."

"Like a wormhole?"

"Yes!  Well, no.  Not really.  Most wormholes are just black-holes and will squash you flat.  The Dododechrans found that out the hard way.  A misinformed scientist had convinced the whole planet that their version of everlasting afterlife, heaven, Shangri La or whatever you call it was through a local ‘wormhole’.  So they built ships, loaded the whole damn species on board and-"  Kara smacked her fist into her hand. "Goodbye Dododechrans.  Poor bastards."

"The ones that do actually take you somewhere," continued Kara, "are a fault, a snag in the universe.  We think that they rushed things near the end."

"Did you say space-time?  Time?"

"Yes.  They go everywhere and every-when."

"Really?  Travel through time?  Go anywhere.  At any point in time?  Can we go-"

"Stop.  It’s not that simple."

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© Copyright 2010 Paul Phillips