stingers make bees irrelevant,
broken on the sill
where waxen symmetry flutters to stillness.
Who limbers me now
Glass doesn’t break in straight lines.
the light bending?
Villainy in the subtexts abound.
Welcome back to Runaway Writings: the home of all your creative writing and artistic needs!
This week we bring you the latest from Steven Mace. His continued additions for the site make for ever more wonderful reading. The latest chapter from Epiphany launches today along with the superhero comedy Unlimited Shelf Life and the science fiction horror Planet of the Dead!
Also, The Perfect Apocalypse continues as a new player enters the fray and spells doom for our unlikely duo!
Please get in touch and join our merry band of incredibly talented authors and artists. Runaway Writings thanks you all for your continued support but we’d also love to have you on the team.
Just post a comment with your details (email, twitter or facebook) and I’ll get in touch and let you know how to join the team!
Looking forward to hearing from and keep on reading!!!
by Steven Mace
“My father built this place”, Dr Elliott told them as they followed her down an empty corridor, her heels clicking on the polished tiled floor. Julio had run on ahead. “He always saw it as a refuge for the victims of the war, a place where the poor and the sick could come. He loved this lake, and he loved the church here too. He also loved the town, before it was flattened by missiles.”
“There was a town here?” Clyde asked, with curiosity.
“Oh yes.” Dr Elliott smiled sweetly, as if remembering happier times. “I grew up here, as a little girl.”
Thea smiled. She had taken a liking to Dr.Elliott, who was not that much older than herself she thought. The woman was in her mid-twenties perhaps? Although Thea suspected though that they’d had quite different upbringings. Jane Elliott was friendly but sounded like a woman who remembered the world before the cataclysm. Thea only remembered the pain and frustration of a life in a cage, shut away in the facility with no real family. The only friends she’d had were the nurses and tutors who were employed to look after her and the nicer scientists. That was probably another reason that she liked Dr Elliott, the fact that she seemed to be a nice scientist and reminded her of happier times at the facility.
“Who was your father?” Clyde asked.
Dr Elliott hesitated. “He was one of the scientists who warned against the war…he knew about the possibilities of terrible destruction that the government’s awful weapons would unleash…”
They had reached the end of the echoing corridor, and Dr Elliott now swung open a heavy door. Immediately they were met by the sound of people talking and laughter, the sound of a large community. They could hear the sound of children’s voices.
Thea and Clyde found themselves standing in a vast hall. The space was divided up into cubicles with beds and cupboards, living space separated by makeshift screens. Clyde and Thea could see that most of the cubicles were occupied by families. There were makeshift kitchens and bedrooms that were hidden from view. Children ran in the aisles and corridors between each cubicle. There were doorways leading out of the hall marked ‘male’ and ‘female’ and which Thea realised were bathrooms beyond the walls of the main hall, where people could go to for privacy, outside the community area and far away from their living cubicle.
Those people that were closest to the main entrance saw them enter and stared with open curiosity at the man and woman accompanying Dr Elliott. Thea and Clyde could see families of different colour and creeds occupying the living space. Thea thought she glimpsed Julio further down the hall beyond several other people, running across the aisle. The place was noisy and energetic, and despite having all the appearances of a refugee camp, seemed a light-hearted and happy place.
The sense of idyllic, communal happiness lasted only for a moment. Suddenly Thea glanced at Clyde and saw blood trickling from his nose. Shocked, she was about to tell him when she tasted the familiar metallic, dull taste of blood on her own lips. She raised her fingers to her nose to touch her upper lip and took it away to see. Her fingers were covered in blood as well. She looked at Dr Elliott in horror and saw that blood was trickling from her small delicate nose too.
“Oh my god”, Thea said. “What’s happening?” Around them other people’s noses were also bleeding. It seemed to be affecting everybody. Some people were angry, shouting and pointing fingers. Their target was a frightened dark-haired woman occupying a nearby cubicle, whose nose was also streaming blood and held a small boy in her arms, rocking him backwards and forwards.
“I’m so sorry”, Jane Elliott said to Thea and Clyde, wiping her nose with a bloody handkerchief. “We have a Screecher here.”
I’m a horror, fantasy, magic realism, speculative fiction and thriller writer with literary pretensions. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since reading 2000AD comics as a kid. I have always been a huge fan of comics and fiction in all formats.
My main influences are Tanith Lee, Ursula Le Guin, George R R Martin, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Iain M Banks, Philip K Dick and Thomas Pynchon. I write short stories and I am working on several novels. I have already self-published some of my first completed work.
I have a personal blog here: http://stevemace.blogspot.com/
and I’m on Twitter and Facebook: http://twitter.com/MaceBookspace and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Steve-Mace/114497238566314
by Steven Mace
Clyde drove for hours. The landscape did not change. It was endless flat, bleak, yellow desert. Occasionally they passed a rusting illegible sign, or an old battered vehicle that had been untouched for years, abandoned by the side of the road.
Thea continued to anxiously scan the view behind them and the horizons for signs of life, and for any sign of pursuit. Still there was no sign of pursuit as the landscape remained empty, and yet it was a hollow comfort. Although the thought had not crossed Thea’s mind, Clyde was worried about something else. He had his eye on the fuel gauge. They didn’t have much gas left. He thought they had maybe fifty miles left, not much more than that. After that, they’d have no choice about what to do. They’d have to get out and walk.
Eventually, the landscape started to change. In the distance, Clyde saw rolling hills. His hopes began to rise. He could see trees populating the hills and rising up from the previously dry, arid and barren earth. It meant there was water here. If there was water, there could be civilisation of some kind.
Thea made a sudden noise- a sharp intake of breath. At first, Clyde thought she was merely responding also to what he had seen, but she anxiously waved a hand at him and pointed somewhere to their left. While glancing back to check the road, Clyde leaned down and peered in the direction that Thea was pointing to.
In the sky, there was something. It was minute- only a small black dot- but there was definitely something out there.Clydesaid nothing, but he knew it was probably a helicopter. It could be from the facility, and also it might not be, but they couldn’t take any chances. Clyde looked toward the hills in the distance and pressed his foot on the accelerator, pushing the car almost to its maximum capacity.
“Did you see it? It could be them”, Thea was saying. “What are we going to do?”
“You see those hills?” Clyde pointed in front of them. “You see the trees? There are a lot of trees there, which might give us some cover. We’ll go there and abandon the car there. Then we’ll carry on by foot. I don’t know what’s there but it’ll give us the best chance of hiding, rather than being out in the open in these desert plains. What do you say?”
“Yeah…but…how far away is that?” Thea squinted into the distance, and then glanced to her left and up at the sky again to try and check for the object in the sky. “How long will it take us? You think we’ll make it in time?”
“Let’s find out”, Clyde said. The car was speeding so fast that the wind caught his short brown hair and flicked it wildly. The car engine hummed as he pushed the accelerator down further.
They reached the hills within fifteen minutes.Clyderan the car off the road on to the rocky desert ground beneath the foothills, jolting them both as he braked to a halt. It took them five more minutes to gather up their things: backpacks with spare clothes and water bottles, and blankets. All the while they glanced up at the sky and listened for the sound of machines, but thankfully they heard nothing. When they thought they had collected everything that they had brought with them, Clyde gestured for Thea to follow him and begin their ascent into the hills. Then, abruptly, he paused.
“Wait”, he said to her. She glanced back at him, puzzled.
He took out a cloth and went back to the car. He opened the door on the driver’s side carefully, using his shirt sleeve. As Thea watched, he wiped down the door handles and then the steering wheel. Then he closed the door shut – again using his sleeve so his skin didn’t make contact- and did the same with the car’s trunk at the back. Then he ran back to join her.
Thea brushed back rogue strands of her blonde hair and raised an eyebrow questioningly.
“You know the technology they have”, he told her. “I don’t want them to find the car and realise that we travelled in it, and abandoned it here. It might slow them down in terms of finding us.”
“Dr Morgan could tell them it’s one of his cars.”
“Well…it’s worth covering our tracks as best we can.”
Keeping her concerns at the back of her mind, Thea followed Clyde as they made their ascent into the hills. The land was not as dry here, and the trees became more frequent. There was definitely a water source here somewhere. They constantly checked the skies and listened for sounds, but there was nothing. Everything was silent, aside from the sound of their breathing and the crunching of their boots in the dry dust.
Suddenly they came to a ridge. There they paused, staring down at the scene below them. Thea didn’t know whether to feel a sense of relief, or fear at being faced with the unknown. They had finally found civilisation.
The Perfect Apocalypse
The End is only the Beginning…
by Rob Richardson
“Brothers and sisters, pray reverence for this day.” The Soothsayer stood in the centre of Grand Central Hall, resplendent in the furs and armour of ancient warriors now dulled by the passage of time.
The Soothsayer himself was an aged creature, his longevity unknown. A huge beard draped from his chin to the ground, his flesh graying as much as his hair and his form almost skeletal.
His eyes shone a perfect green which betrayed his nature. They were more alive than anything they had ever seen.
This man had truly lived.
The Calling of The Day was an ancient tradition in which The Soothsayer told the account of the End of Times; the day man had ended his own reign on the surface and been forced to retreat underground. It was a story that many travelled from miles around to hear. They used the tunnels that had once carried Taraynes – immense machines of steel that ran on Trax and transported men from all destinations to Grand Central Hall – but only the Trax remained to lead the way.
Stalagmites and stalactites erupted from the floor of the Hall and hung from it’s ceiling. They concealed statues of ancient gods that man had once worshiped, Gods that were older than CERN himself. If you looked long enough into the darkness you could make out the ruins of the Tyme Taybel – it’s function was lost to the People of the Shade.
Men and women shuffled into the hall and stood shoulder to shoulder, pushed tightly together to listen to The Soothsayers tale.
“It was on this day, in ancient times, that CERN called to the heavens.” The Soothsayer began. He waved his staff, made from an unknown material – could it have been the fabled wood they wondered? – above the heads of the masses. It held a yellow element at it’s point that glimmered faintly in the shadows.
“Man wished to become gods. They searched for god in the very matter of Eden but when they awoke CERN, they awoke the greatest god of all.
“A gateway opened that allowed unknown creatures and beasts enter Eden. CERN wished to punish man for his transgressions.”
Children in the crowd hid behind their parents thinking of the horrors that lived above ground.
“The world changed in a day. CERN forced the plants and animals to grow and take back the habitat man has stolen from them. He unleashed Edens own protectors back onto the land to arrest control and we were forced below, our only protection from the forces of nature above.”
There was a deathly silence throughout the immense cavern.
“But it is prophecy that we WILL take our home back. The Hulks in the southern jungles, The Monkey King and his army on the eastern plains, the Panthers in the northern snow fields and the monstrosities who have no name in the western desert shall all fall when SHE arrives to save us!”
There was a rapturous applause and a stomping of feet so loud that the hall felt as if it’s very foundations were about to fall.
“Mark my words, People of the Shade, SHE will be born to save us and mankind shall rise again!”