So today “Six Short Stories” is released, and in order to celebrate I have an extract for you to enjoy – Then of course you should probably grab the book and enjoy the rest, you will not be disappointed. Also they go well with coffee and cake….
If you are a Goodreads Member please do join the event today: https://www.goodreads.com/event/show/952767?utm_medium=email&utm_source=event_changed
Over to Jack!
I die the same way every time.
A bombardment of radioactive dust and debris, and the alarm begins to sound. React, retract, jettison are the instructional words the chief drills into our heads every day, but there’s a problem with the hydrogen capture arm and the mechanism refuses to bring it home, refuses to blow the couplings too. That just leaves React. But here’s my problem: whilst I am easily skilled enough to manoeuvre the arm (all 123m of it) and receive the minimal amount of damage possible, I don’t care to. Sure, it takes a lot of concentration, effort, and quick thinking, but that’s not why. I want the situation to play out naturally, I want the arm to succumb to the nebula’s will and take whatever the gigantic cloud of gas, dust and other assorted crap throws its way. I don’t entirely understand why I let it happen, but I always do. The arm buckles and fractures, explodes, and then I die. End simulation.
A door beside me opens.
‘You blew it again,’ Osman says, not particularly seriously, ‘you’re dead, the arm is gone and the ship is gonna need a pretty serious patch job. Plus the chief is probably pissed.’
I climb out of the sim-hatch and stand straight. Osman is sitting at a white control hub, dressed in white surrounded by white walls. God, I’m so sick of white. ‘All got a bit much for me,’ I lie, stretching my arms.
Osman shrugs. ‘Whatever. What are the chances of two separate faults simultaneously compromising the arm’s ability to retract and jettison, anyway?’
‘Better not let the chief hear you saying that,’ I joke.
Osman grins and spins the screen in front of him to show me my dismal simulation stats. ‘The chief can lick my –’
Right on cue, the door behind him opens and Osman all but falls out of his chair. But it’s not the chief. It’s worse, it’s Zucker.
‘Afternoon, Callum,’ I say, pulling off the communal simulation boots and reaching for my shoes – they’re white too.
‘That’s Lieutenant Zucker, Sir,’ he answers, his posture ridiculously correct.
‘We’re not military,’ I answer, ‘we could call you Cockroach Face and there wouldn’t be a damn thing you could do about it.’ Even though it’s completely true, I would never dare say something like that to one of the older officers on board. But Zucker is about our age, apparently a bit of a rising star and far too eager to remind people of it. Right now he’s pretending not to have heard me, studying my simulation results as Osman examines his nails like he didn’t just nearly fall out of his chair.
‘These results are shocking, Wells,’ Zucker says to me, barely disguising his delight, ‘if you were under my command I’d have you suspended.’
‘Good job I’m not and never will be,’ I answer, quietly cursing myself for not trying harder in my recent simulations. ‘Besides, my Hydrogen Capture Record is outstanding, unlike Captain Yosef’s opinion of you.’
Zucker’s cheeks flush red and I can tell he’s wondering if I could possibly know what Captain Yosef thinks of him (I don’t). He takes a deep breath and stands straighter than any human should be able to. ‘I’ll be having a talk with the chief engineer about your results,’ he informs me, ‘and I’ll be personally monitoring your sim performance from here on out.’ He turns and marches outside.
‘Asshole,’ Osman grunts, after he’s gone.
I agree and head for the door. ‘Coming to the bar later?’ Osman says, before I leave. ‘Louw will be there …’ He gives me a cheeky wink.
I smile back; I would love a chance to have a drink with Louw later. Unlike Zucker, she’s a young lieutenant I really like, but I have a shift on the arm. I tell Osman as much and leave.
A collection of six incidents, memories and curiosities. Some of these short stories are happy, some of them are not so happy. It’s difficult to tell whether any of them are related, such quandaries are never resolved easily.
Includes the 2014 eFestival of Words Best Short Story, X.
My Review of “X”
Fifteen-year-old X thinks she is going to die. Shacked up in the cellar of an old farmhouse, she starts a journal to document her last few days. Much less than a few days if the things outside manage to get in.
So last night I settled down to FINALLY get around to “X”, a short story from Jack Croxall, author of the rather wonderful “Tethers”.
Written in the form of a diary “X” describes her day to day existence in a world that is radically different from the one she knew before – where every day is a fight for survival. Haunting and atmospheric it pulls you along for a short but compelling tale of a few days in the life of….
X. Whose name we never know. Who’s family we will never meet except in her poignant and touching memories…and who is not long for this earth. Her own realisation of that is one thing that makes this story as fascinating as it is.
I loved it. I half wish it was a full length novel whilst realising that it would not pack the same punch if it was. As it is this is a luminous, captivating tale and perfect for giving you one of those reading “moments”
Happy Reading Folks!
Find out more here: http://jackcroxall.co.uk/
Follow Jack on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/JackCroxall
Six Short Stories on Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/14yHNzM
Six Short Stories on Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1BHLJLF