Last night, I dreamt of Cactus.


I pace the room. 20 steps left to right, 25 steps door to window.


Cacti?


Outside the stasis shield shimmered against the constantly black sky. My home. Cell Rock Epsilon Gamma 453 Orbiting 15 million miles from home.


Back to the bed (5 steps from the window)


5 Cigarettes in the pack.


It doesn’t matter what they’re called. I dreamt of them.


I’m not sure how many days until the next delivery. I’m guessing longer than I have smokes.


It seems longer than last time. A lot longer since I wrote that letter.


I don’t even know if she got it.


I don’t know how she’ll take it.


So I’m waiting.


Which, so I’m told, is the point of being here.


***


4 cigarettes.


***


Last night, I dreamt of Cactus.


I pace the room. 20 steps left to right, 25 steps door to window.


Still 4 cigarettes.


It wasn’t a bad request.


Was it?


It’s been…what…6 months since I was put up here. I cheated and counted the marks on the calendar. I lost count a long time ago.


Not a sigh. A deep breath.


5 paces to the bed.


She knows I love her, right?


4 Cigarettes.


It could still be 2 cycles before I know anything.


***


Last night, I dreamt of the desert.


3 Cigarettes.


I pace the room. 20 steps left to right, 25 steps door to window.


It was a hard night. Like when I was first here. Sometime I get….I just…I miss people.


Her.


Miss her.


Shit.


How can I get something in my eye in a dust free environment?


2 Cigarettes.


***


Last night it was cactus trees. 


Again.


1 cigarette.


It’s amazing how much mess you can make trashing a small cell.


Let it come tomorrow.


***


There’s no more cigarettes. I’m staying in bed.


I’m hope I dream of cactus trees.


***


A package arrived today. Cigarettes. Soap and stuff. And a box.


I’ve smoked 5 already.


My hands are shaking. I can’t open it.


***


I’m sitting here on the floor – the box in my lap.


It opens easily. Ziplock back inside.


I pull it open and release a dress – crumpled, slept in, stained.


Soup there, wine here. That looks like blood. And desert dust.


It smells like her.


I got dust in my eye.


I don’t care how many cigarettes I have left.


***


Last night, wrapped around the dress, I didn’t dream of Cactus Trees.

 

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So – this is about 2 weeks. 

Check back tomorrow for a new story and then we’re back up to speed. 

However you read this, and I know that a few of you do, come here and sign up.

You don’t have to say anything beyond “Hi”.

If you can’t sign up, then mail me and let me know.

Thanks 😀

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Phew. 

That was a bit of a rush to get those in. 

Right then – those three should carry you over for the next week or so.

I’m taking a bit of time off from one a day, every day to get the book collection of the Advent Stories together. 

Also, it’ll give me a chance to write some stories and have them on hand…

I’ll also be brushing up the site. I’ve got a clothe shop attached to this that I think could uses some more prominence – and have you seen that forum button? 

So if you come and have a look during the next few days you’ll probably see some things changing. 

Thanks for reading, and have a great 2008 

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The probe entered their system many years before it was detected. Once it was, it changed the fate of the planet irrevocably.


The machine swept through the outer planets, broadcasting its message, with no intention of stopping. 


The radio enthusiasts received it first, but had no idea what it meant. 


It was passed on to the government, and then the military. Was it a warning? Was the machine a weapon?


Their science and technology had to step up to the plate.


In the years that followed they developed the skills and theories that could track, and listened to, the probe. They learnt how to ping it in order to answer more of their questions. And finally, they reverse plotted its course, and discovered a planet.


An alien planet where intelligent life existed!


And their world was changed, irrevocably, a second time.


They disposed of all national borders and formed a single world power whose soul directive was the betterment of the species. This ruling power could be overthrown at any time – should the people decide that it wasn’t following that goal. This happened many times at the start of the process, where the Old Guard had their nationalism hard coded into their consciousness.


The aims of this power were huge; the goals far reaching. They knew it would take many generations to achieve them, so they set about transforming of the planet for itself to that work could carry on over generations.


They because proficient in living both now, and in the When that their work would be complete.


After many generations of planning, building and deciphering they finally perfected a ship that would take a crew across galaxies to meet their brothers.


They knew they were not alone. And they would answer the call that they had heard.


***


Three generations lived and died in the time it took  the pilots to cross the inky wastes. The crew’s families had had birthed children and grandchildren, and should the crew return, they would meet their great, great grandchildren. 


It was the closest thing to divinity the race had ever seen.


It was a sense of great anticipation that the Contact Ship, “We Come In Peace” slipped out of hyperspace and plotted a course for History.


The crew had scanners set to maximum and navigated to the system’s inner ring of planets with no problems.


“Visual on the third planet, Nuk’tok,” the Captain ordered.


The science officer piped the visuals from the scanners to the main screen.


All over the planet, small explosions could be seen.


“Tactical…what’s going on?”


M’k-toth checked his read outs.


“Sir, they appear to be firing explosives into the near atmosphere. Millions and millions of bombs.”


“Great Chaos!” The 5 man crew panicked. “Why would they do such a thing? Have we been detected? Didn’t they get our messages?”


Tactical offered the most reasonable explanation. “Sir, Perhaps, they don’t want anyone to come near them. That probe could have been a trap!” 


The captain’s voice replied with a dark overtone. “Or a warning. Helmsman, Mark this planet as Dangerous.”


“Aye, aye, Capt’n.”


The Science Officer sat, looking crushed. “Sir, all this work, all this time? The planet will…how do we go back? What do we tell them?”


“We work that out on the way back.”


And with that, the ship turned round and returned home. 


***


Planetside, amidst Oooohs an Aaahs from the crowd, a girl huddled closer to a boy. 


Her lips found his cheek, his neck, and finally his ear, into which she whispered, “Happy New Year, my love.”


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Author Sanders crossed the page. “Anderson, what happened to our copies?”


The Chief Scribe accessed the index. “They seem to be going underground, sir. Writing themselves out of the narrative line.”


Sanders paced. “Anderson. I’m going to suggest a very unorthodox procedure. To be honest it’s very possibly illegal, so if you want to step away, I can do this myself.”


Chief Scribe Anderson glared at her Author. “I’ll just pretend you didn’t say that.”


Sanders pulled up a chair. “Thank you. But I’m still going to need to take control. Just to set things in motion. From there, I’ll need you to work your magic.”


Anderson squinted at him and then handed the Author the keyboard. Truth be told, she was quite excited. She’d never seen him work before.


***


Author Sanders sat in a train. He was heading for…he checked his ticket, Edinburgh. They had a castle.


He-


Was shaken by his Scribe. “Sir. Something’s happening. I think we’re being over-written.”


Anderson was back on the ship. After they had fallen into the story they had set about trying to write themselves out. They shouldn’t have been there, after all, and by being part of the event ran the risk of distorting it.


Now, it would appear, someone had other ideas.


***


“Dammit.”


“Sir?”


Sanders rubbed his eyes. “You’re too damn good.”


“At the risk of repeating myself…Sir?”


“I’m trying to access their story, rewrite it so that I can meet myself and -“


“You’re trying to what?”


“They’re story now. We can access the-“


“Not that bit. Meet yourself? Do you know how dangerous that is?”


He looked at her.


“Ofcourseyou know how dangerous that is.” Her words fell over themselves to get out. “So what on earth are you thinking?”


“We deserve a different chance. I want to give us a pocket world to live in, so we,” he caught himself. “So they can do something. It feels wrong to just let us die.”


“You weren’t wrong when you said this was unorthodox. But you were when you said it was possibly illegal. It’s absolutely illegal!”


They sat in silence.


“If you want to be relieved of duty.”


“I told you the last time you said that.” She looked over his shoulder. “You know…for an author, you have no idea how to get to the point.”


He stared at her.


“OK. You need him to sleep, right?”


“What are you going to-“


“I’ll copy and paste you in. Be ready. If I’m as good as you say, you’ll need control as soon as your eyes are closed.”


***


Sanders yawned. “Well, I’m tired, Anderson. I think I’m going to hit the sack.”


Anderson looked at her boss. “You’re tired? Sir…what about-“


“Yep. I’ll deal with that in the morning. Goodnight.”


***


Anderson was sweating. “God. She’s amazing!” She winked at her Sanders. “She should get a raise.”


***


Sanders closed his eyes.


***


“You’re in”


***


The fog was so thick Sanders couldn’t see more than his arms length. “Hello, Paul.”


He span round. “Me?”


Sanders nodded. “It’s the only way the Author and Subject can safely speak.”


“You’re writing in a dream sequence? Wait…why? Who are you?”


“We got too close when we observed Paul. The…younger Paul. My Anderson copy and pasted us out just before we were committed.”


“So…she got us out?”


“Us…yes.”


“She’s…That Anderson. She’s…”


“She should get a rise. I’ll see to it.”


“So – why this?”


“You’re writing yourself out. We can change that. Write you a pocket universe, your own stories, and you can keep going.”


Paul looked at himself. “You know how dangerous that is.”


“And what else will you do?”


“What you would.” Paul put his hand on his other’s shoulder. “What you would. It was a wonderful idea and it’s nice to know we survived. But I think I should like to wake up now.”


***


Paul sat in his flat, his miserable presents piled up in a corner. On top, mocking him, the soap on a rope pack from his girlfriend’s grandmother.


He glared at them and turned back to his desk.


Where the gem that was his diary mocked him.


“Broke the wall, did we?”


He looked back at presents.


“Well, fuck that shitty jumper then.”


He pushed his machine on and started typing.


***


Back on the ship Author Sanders turned to his Chief Scribe Anderson.


“Well, sir? What happened.”


“We did OK, Anderson. We’re disengaging from this story.”


She paused, wondering if he’d say anything else. When it was clear he wouldn’t, she turned to her machine and disengaged.

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