Enter the exciting worlds of my science fiction and speculative fiction short stories.
Excerpt Bad Penny:
This one was inspired by my listening to news accounts of the mess in Libya, and the death of Muammar Ghaddafi. It does not matter what sort of a man he was, he did not deserve the death he had.
The man sat down at his desk, satisfied for the first time in days. A fine whisky sat at his elbow, and before him, his secretary’s old typewriter. Finding it had not been easy, because she was long gone – oddly, he couldn’t remember why, now. Probably she had been accused of treason, as had most of the most of those purged, been. He wanted to use her typewriter because it somehow made his memoirs more Official. A beautiful white ream of paper sat at his right elbow and in front of it, were the notebooks from which he would work. They held the details of his most famous actions. Killing Al-Tariq. Score for me, he thought, starting to transcribe. Killing Adam Mills. Oh, that would cause a stir! But now, 30 years later, he wanted to finally take credit for that. At the time, he’d had to do it by proxy, in the form of a ‘popular up-rising’ against the man portrayed in the media as an evil dictator. Bill Jensen laced his fingers together over the keys, then took a sip of fine Glenfiddich. Mills and his sons had been the first to die. One doesn’t want to leave the young whelps to come back and avenge the parent, does one? In a way, it was a pity, the grandchildren were so sweet, like innocent babies, especially the 3 year old… But what’s done is done. Within 60 minutes, he had written 10 pages, and drunken almost all the whisky. Suddenly, he realised that he hadn’t even tasted it! Then, the room went a little colder, and darker – he knew that if he looked outside he would see clear sky, stars, and a long way off, the fuzzy lights of the city. Yet, something wasn’t right. He glanced at the large clock across the room, a big stately Presidential gift from a grateful nation. Twenty three minutes past midnight on June 6th. In the depths of the house, his youngest daughter slept with her 3rd husband. Towards the front, were the two guards who were all that the same grateful nation would pay for. ‘Who’s there?’ he didn’t stop to wonder how the intruder had got in. ‘Who am I? President Jensen, I assume?’ She seemed to step out of the bookcases under the clock. She was darkness, then she was light. In her hands, she held something – a gun? He noticed that her hands trembled where they crossed at the wrists. She was tiny, dark-haired, light eyed, dressed in a black skirt and jacket. ‘You knew my grandfather. In fact, you killed him. Oh, not directly, you were too cunning for that. But you ordered his death.’ ‘Who are you?’ He was stalling, fishing around for the alarm button under the desk top. ‘Call me Penny, it’s the name my adoptive parents gave me. I hate it, but it will serve. Do you know what bad pennies do, Mr President?’
‘No.’ ‘Not an American idiom, is it? Oh well, a bad penny always turns up, even after 25 years. That’s how long it’s been since you started the ‘popular up-rising’ against my grandfather. The whole world accepted that’s what it was – but we knew different. A mob tortured and killed my grandfather Adam Mills, and his sons, their sons too – even the 3 year old. But your problem is, that you disregarded the women. My mother escaped with me.’ ‘You’re Gina Mills?’ ‘You thought I’d died?’ For the first time, she seemed surprised. ‘I’ve thought about you ever since. We found a woman’s body – and a baby – you were 18 months old ..’ ‘My mother’s secretary and her daughter. My mother had left with me, the day before. But she had been injured in the shelling of our house.’ ‘Palace’ he said automatically. She snorted, waving her hand around the study. ‘How many people live in this palace? Three. In my grandfather’s “palace” lived 19 family, and around 20 staff. So your PR people called it a “palace”. Well, as I was saying, my mother died of her injuries after 6 months, and those who adopted me, taught me my duty.’ ‘You’re here to kill me!’ Terror filled him. To die was bad enough, but to die with his life unexplained, would be insupportable. ‘Kill you?’ Penny seemed to think for a moment, and then she smiled. ‘That’s what I was brought up to do, yes. That’s my duty, as the sole survivor of 19 people. But that would be far too easy for you. I’ve seen the TV footage of your press conference after the massacre. Your ‘sincere, tearful’ statement about my grandfather having pushed his innocent people past their ability to endure.. I first saw it in a history class in Queensland, Australia. Yes, I was that close!’ ‘I said what I believed to be true’. ‘Really?’ she stepped a bit closer into the light from the desk lamp. She had green eyes, and he could drown in their sea-depths. He might have tried his charms on her, if they had met at a party, his grand old statesman persona, but now she chilled any ardour he might have felt. ‘I can summon my guards!’ he blustered. ‘No, you already would have, if you could.’ how did she know that he had been frantically pushing the button with his knee while they had been talking? ‘What are you going to do with me?’ ‘I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to find out if I were you!’ she laughed. ‘You’re going to disappear, and it will look as if your conscience was too much for you. Now, pick up the pen at your elbow. Write’. He did. The gun she held was very small, but he was under no illusions because he knew what had been developed during her childhood. ‘Ashleigh, Rod, got to get away for a while. My memories are too much for me. B.J.’ Not the words he would have used, and he was glad. His staff would come looking for him, they’d know.