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Daniel I Russell - Writer of Horror Fiction


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Saturday, August 14, 2010

BEHOLD! MANJI TOWERS DOTH FALL!


Yes, as followers of the blog will be aware, we are moving, thus I haven't the time to go into depth this week. In addition, my internet access will be sketchy for a while.

So to tide you guys over for the next...well, ten minutes anyway in my online absence, here's a wonderful picture from Festive Fear: Global Edition, which is available on preorder now from www.tasmaniacpublications.com. It's from my featured story, It Comes But Once a Year, and is drawn by the enviously talented Andrew J McKiernan. Check out his site to see his other great works at www.andrewjmckiernan.com.

And as promised on Facebook, here's some free flash fiction. I suck majorly at writing sci fi, so always have to blend some horror in there. My sci fi horror still sucks, but a little bit less.

Anyway, it's one for you Australian veterans...in the future...


IRONMAN



Times may change, but tradition can span the centuries and light years.

Joshua stood on the jetty, the wooden planks warm beneath his bare feet. He breathed the salty air deeply, slowing his heart and focusing his mind. His gaze lingered on the glistening water of the ocean, which reflected the light of Second Sun and the pink tinge of the passing afternoon moon, Parsec V. It consumed most of the cloudless sky, silent, an observing God.

Joshua stared at the moon. It had seen his father win, and his father before him. His bloodline bred winners all the way back to the exodus of Earth following the Third Great War. He was determined to carry on that tradition.

Beside him, one of the other competitors huffed and stretched.

“Not long now,” he said. “Good luck, mate.”

Joshua nodded back. “Yeah. Good luck.”

At the head of the jetty, the starter raised his gun.

“Gentlemen. On your marks…get set…go!”

The gun fired, and the crowds gathered on the beach cheered.

Joshua dove into the ocean; the chill of the water penetrating his taut muscles. Breaking the surface, he pushed for a better position among the main pack.

The 100th Ironman completion of planet 44-78CX was on.

With every raise of the head for breath, Joshua glanced ahead. Kilpatrick, number 61, was already in the lead. A rival from a lifeguard station in the Southern Quadrant, he’d been talking trash about the people’s favourite for weeks. Joshua intended him to eat his words when he brought the title home.

It’s tradition, he thought, any distraction from the lactic burn welcome. Tradition will go on.

Hovering inches above the water, spherical camera units darted between the swimmers, capturing their pain and concentration and broadcasting to the entire planet.

Joshua heard the low hum of a unit close by and wondered if his girl was watching.

Stroke, stroke, stroke. Breath. Stroke, stroke, stroke. Breath, glance.

Kilpatrick had increased his lead. Joshua prayed he’d peak too early and burn out.

Long way to go. A long, long way to go.

Stroke, stroke, stroke. Breath…

A scream blasted across the water, and within moments, the ocean became a turmoil of thrashing bodies and cries.

Joshua ignored the chaos and ploughed on, driving hard, concentrating on the prize. Rivals swam backwards, screaming for help and waving to the boats that floated at the race borders.

A champion, an Ironman, must rise where others fall.

Sirens blared, and electronic voices boomed from the beach, ordering competitors to get out of the water. This is not a drill. Get out of the water immediately.

Doubt nibbled at Joshua’s concrete resolve.

This could only mean one thing, he realized, finally slowing his strokes.

The Government, over a century ago, had not only emigrated the entire Australian population to the distant planet, but also the native wildlife…including the sharks.

Joshua slowed to a stop and opened his eyes.

Around him, crimson danced in the waves like spilled ink, and floating on the surface: a swimming cap. Number 61. Kilpatrick.

Kicking out of the cloud of blood, Joshua headed for clearer waters.

More screams rang out from the beach. The Ironmen swam and splashed and panicked. The race forgotten, they continued to wave at the boats, shouting.

The ocean shifted, like an underwater earthquake had pulsed.

Joshua felt the sudden vibration through the water.

The closest competitor bucked and began to shriek. A Jacuzzi of blood erupted about him, and the doomed soul shot down out of sight, the ocean silencing his pain.

Joshua tread water, searching for a fin, a shadow, any sign of the man-eating fish.

Something else had invaded the waters of the Western Quadrant.

It slid from the beneath the waves, a tower of silver that dazzled in the intense sun. Seaweed clung to it in places, revealing the hinges and connections of the giant needle.

Joshua flipped over and kicked into a backstroke, all the time watching the mechanism unfold.

Thin limbs snapped from the main body, their multi-jointed lengths ending in metal claws. One shot into the sea and plucked out another unlucky contender. It lifted the screaming man into the air.

This can’t be, thought Joshua. They told us we were safe!

Fifty feet above the sea, the trapped man, in trunks and a swimming cap, pushed against the tight hold, pain etched on his face. The machine effortlessly snipped him in two, and both halves, still convulsing and trailing dark innards, fell and splashed into the sea.

With yet more arms snapping free from the thing, the fatal claws pulled the terrified men from the water one after the other. Most were cut, quickly and efficiently, while others slipped free and plummeted into the diluted gore beneath.

Atop the mechanical tower, a flat head clunked out, driven by a pressurised hiss. Searchlight eyes flickered into life and scanned the water. A white flag was painted on its forehead, the red dot at the centre burning like a third eye. Old allegiances died hard, it seemed.

Each nation had deserted war-torn Earth to their own assigned planets, with the conflicting nations separated by the length of the galaxy. Times may change, but it tradition really did span the centuries and light years.

The Fourth Great War had arrived.

A rocket shot forth from the mechanism’s shoulder, decimating a section of beach. Bits of spectators fell like confetti.

Seen enough, Joshua turned in the water and pumped his arms and legs, aiming for the jetty. Some of the other swimmers had the same idea.

The machine lumbered after them in great steps, camera units buzzing around it.

Joshua dug deep and pushed on, even as the competitor ahead of him was snatched up, dripping and screaming, and carried to his death.

The real race was on.

With a grinding of gears and a squeal of metal, the Ironman pursued.

(C) Daniel I. Russell, daniel-i-russell.blogspot.com and danielirussell.com. That's a lot of me right there.

Oh, and I realise that this is still in standard manuscript format (underlines, etc). If anyone has any extra time for me to fix such things, please send some over.


Posted by Daniel I. Russell :: 5:56 am :: 0 comments

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