Author: Mark J. Howard

In The Wink Of An Eye

IT HADN’T WORKED. Tens of thousands of man-hours, billions of dollars and trillions of computations all culminating in a big, fat nothing. Professor Palmer’s senses returned to her slowly, almost reluctantly. For what felt like a long time her entire awareness had been filled with one overriding thought – the project was over. She was uncomfortable, lying amongst broken glass and twisted debris, and as this discomfort began to register she tried to rouse herself. A klaxon was howling and she grimaced at its closeness as she struggled into a sitting position. The lights were out and the lab, or what was left of it, shimmered behind a thick veil of acrid, grey smoke. Coughing and gasping for breath, Palmer reached out for a shattered computer housing and used it to pull herself to her feet. There was a deep gash on her forehead and something sharp was embedded in her left shoulder, but apart from that and the headache she was fine. An involuntary laugh sprang to her throat, where it caught and mutated …

Snailam’s Watch

SUMMER’S FACE WAS STILL SMILING on the English countryside as I stepped off the train at Witham Friary one September afternoon in 1918. An old man in a threadbare tweed suit held my kit bag for me and then nodded self-consciously when I finally took it from him. Shouldering the heavy bag, I thanked him before walking away from the carriage and down the platform. I tried not to walk too quickly, but in truth I felt like running and leaving the pitying and overtly helpful passengers far behind me. The Matron at the hospital had made sure my uniform was clean and pressed but now I was regretting wearing it instead of my civvies. The ribbons on my tunic looked a lot more impressive than I felt they should, but it was the empty sleeve, neatly pinned up at the shoulder, that had attracted the most furtive attention from my fellow travellers. People, strangers, had been helping me all day whether I’d needed it or not and their reverential attention had long since started …

Two of Many

I AWAKEN INTO PERFECT DARKNESS. I am small and vulnerable. For a time, this is all I know. Memory leaks into me, disjointed and vague yet coherent and clear. Metal. Pain. Blood. Fear. Panic. Struggle. Peace. Light. Infinity. Everything. Everyone. Everywhen. Joy. Understanding. Questions. Yearning. Decision. Funnel. Darkness. Here. I cannot ponder these things, only experience them. They cycle through me, jumbling through my tiny being like windblown leaves, though even that simple metaphor is beyond my ability to construct. My awareness grows by tiny increments. I discern gentle heat, pulsing above me in a remorseless rhythm. I know I must go towards it. I know that pulse is life. I know that life is what I want.