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8 minute read # Heidi Manley

Prologue

Schmidt & Jones in Death By Kindness:

23rd Century Earth's Spaceports are in lockdown.
The Government won't release details as to why, or when visitors can return or leave Earth. Rumours of a deadly virus are reported over the media causing worldwide panic.
That's before the bodies start appearing.

Two Private Detectives are put onto the case, but even they realise they are out of their depths when the death toll starts to rise. They are pushed to their limits, and forced to face every thing that comes their way: deceit, destruction and
betrayal.
However, even they don't expect something ancient and forgotten to resurface, with destruction on its mind that could eradicate humanity forever.


In the beginning there was silence, and then with no warning, life began. We were the first, young and gentle with only our own to hear our songs among the stars, but gradually as time progressed others similar but not quite like us were born. We passed our songs through the stars, so that they would learn and listen to our words as our ancestors had listened and learned. Centuries passed and the wide empty space that had once been, was filled with the joy of our passion, until such space began to be filled with other qualities: greed, hatred, and jealousy. Before long our songs stopped bringing joy to people, but rather made them risk all they had to try and have what we called our greatest treasure. This was unacceptable, after everything we had done for them in terms of teaching and kindness. We would not stand for it! As we had always known how to but had seen no need to defend ourselves before, we wiped those who opposed us and shut ourselves away from the rest of the universe. Silence once again filled the universe and it became a black and damaged void. We became nothing more then a story, a whisper in the universe. However we would always be there waiting, ready to take down anyone else who tried to harm our family for their own greed and necessities. Eventually though time lost all meaning for us when that day came, but this time we were ready. This time we would wipe out everything that posed as a threat to our kind, until nothing remained only justice and the Unity.
*
Earth’s Spaceports had been overflowing for the past two weeks, ships from all over the galaxy had been able to land on Earth, but none were able to leave. The authorities were doing a good job of hushing up the exact details of why every terminal was closed, but everyone knew something was going on. Something had caused a global shutdown through all terminals, and it was costing the owner of the biggest one millions or so it seemed.

Panic had been created thanks to the local reports about a deadly virus seeking its way to Earth, especially if the Spaceports took in any ships from across the universe. Authorities had assured humans and aliens alike on Earth, that whilst the Spaceports were shut nothing could get in to harm them. Residents of Earth were partially relieved, however visitors from other planets just wanting to go home were less so, as well as that of a very particular business man.

Spaceport Jarvis III was owned by the richest man who now lived on Earth. Over half of the human race had decided to leave hundreds of years before hand, to settle down on other planets throughout the universe, but not Arthur Green.

A proud and selfish man, who in his early 50’s had set out to take all he could from Earth, although most of its natural beauty had gone especially from the coastlines, Earth was still popular with tourists from every point in space. Ventrians from Ventria, Athanian’s from Athania, Martians of course from Mars, and the odd human who wanted to know where their ancestors had lived. Green owned half of the hotels and businesses all around the world, so he took well over half of what they made, but now…Now the tourists were demanding their money back, as they couldn't take their spaceships out of the terminals and go back home, nor could they afford the hotel prices for more then what they had originally paid for, leaving Green no choice but to pay their bills out of his own pocket. It hardly made a dent, but Green never liked to part with his money unless it was for his own wealth.

Worse thing was the media were hanging around to see if they could pick up any more details on why the terminals were closed. He had tightened security to make sure no reporters passed through the doors, but it was getting harder and harder, especially when they were disguising themselves as stranded holiday makers looking for rooms to stay in. In Arthur’s opinion it would be better if he turfed every non-paying guest out and get everything back to normal, otherwise this would end up costing him billions.

Perhaps it was just as well he had those benefactors of his paying in money for.., what had they said it was? Health and safety issues? It didn’t matter to him, as long as he was getting paid, he’d let whoever wanted to use the grounds of Jarvis III to their pleasure. Though he just hoped it never came to the fact more money was coming out of his accounts rather than going in, even if the benefactors were more than generous. Arthur Green could not risk losing his fortune.

“For Blathgo’s sake’ he banged his fist angrily on his desk, causing his long suffering secretary to jump in her seat as she scribbled down some notes. “Denise, I want those terminals cleared within the next hour, I want to know why they are still blocked, and why the hell I’m not being told anything…and get that idiot to switch the electricity back on again. If not, you’ll have to find another job” He snarled slamming the door behind him as he left, leaving Denise to roll her eyes, shaking her blond curls in annoyance.

Like she hadn’t been threatened out of her job before, the amount of times Green had actually said that, and hadn’t meant it. She almost wished he had sacked her just so she could be free of his torment to her. She breathed a sigh of relief as her computer blinked back into life, continuing with her tasks as if there had been no disturbance in her job.

She tapped away mindlessly at her keyboard waiting for the Health department to get back to her. They had got in contact a couple of days ago to tell her to let Green know why Jarvis III was being grounded as well as all the others.

She hadn’t told Green just so she could see him suffer for a change, just to see his fat face redden and his vein bulge in his temple.

Serves him right, she thought smugly. She glanced back to the computer screen, then froze.

Hands hovering over the keyboard as the screen starting glowing eerily blue. ‘‘What the….’ Denise thought as the screen pulsed with what seemed like electricity stuck inside it. Her soft brown eyes flittered upwards as the office lights flickered and blinked sending a shudder down her spine, before she turned her gaze back to the computer screen the harsh purple light still pulsing as if it were alive out of the screen.

Something made her reach out and touch it, the spark jumping to her skin burning and blistering inside her as it ran up through her body. The fire raging within her being the last terrible thing she remembered was letting out a soundless scream as blackness took over her.

*

In the minutes leading up to Denise Yew’s death, as Green had his mad rant to some unlucky person on the phone. At that exact moment 15 floors below in the basement, a highly skilled engineer with his six arms to hand named Grask, hummed to himself gently as he worked over the electrics below. It was only a low paid job for Grask , but he would have done anything whatever the cost to have that job.

Unfortunately for him.

Saying no to that job would have meant he would have lived to see another day, instead he’d just been thinking about bringing an income in for his new bride who was expecting their first child any day soon.

Believing this to be his lucky day, Grask began his work. He’d received a call earlier from the manager of a fancy Spaceport to do a reading on the electrics and make sure everything was in order. An easy short task that wouldn’t take him long at all, but the manager was insistent that it would be worth his while, and so how on Earth could Grask possibly turn it down. He didn’t quite catch the manager’s name, and though his voice on the end of the comm-link sounded cold and a little threatening, Grask couldn’t help think about the money he would earn for his family to be. Grask was even assured that there could be a permanent job if all went to plan, somehow the manager knew he was experienced and could do any job quick and simple, with six limbs to help maximise his work he‘d have it done in no time.

This would be unfortunate for the rest of the population who wanted to live beyond 72 hours.

Grask’s job was coming to the end remarkably everything seemed to be in order as he fiddled with the wires finally replacing the covers back onto the cupboard, but that was before a sudden strong metallic smell drifted up his nose.

Wrinkling up his nose at the smell, he went to switch the electricity back on.
If only he had paid attention to his senses, that voice in the back of his head screaming at him to not touch the switch that would kill him.

If only he’d waited a couple of seconds,before switching the mains back on. If only he'd not been so hasty to get back home to his wife. If only he had noticed the dark purple sparks start to build around the cabinet crawling and buzzing at the edges like bees drawn to flowers, squeezing their way through the wires and into the system as if they had never left.

Sadly for Grask, he noticed nothing.

With one small click Grask flicked the switch on, a deadly spark reaching out to dance on his fingertips throwing his lifeless body to the other side of the room. But nobody would discover Grask's body until it was far too late to stop what was happening. Nobody would realise until far too late that all of this had started because a man was doing his job. Grask was just the pawn in the very start to a new plot that would endanger the world within a number of days, Grask’s death was unimportant, but Grask as well as Denise would probably be the only ones spared the quick and painless death on the planet.

Everybody else would suffer, as the skies would burn and the Unity would feast.

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Comments

  • Jane Moreleith #


    You have quite an interesting story here and I'm interested to see where it's going.

    Your interstellar enemy is understandable. We can almost identify with the need to get back at us earthlings for our greed. In describing it, there's an awkward sentence you might want to look at:

    <As we had always known how to but had seen no need to defend ourselves before, we wiped those who opposed us and shut ourselves away from the rest of the universe.>
    Maybe remove the 'As' and the 'to':
    *We had always known how, but had seen no need ..... we wiped (out?) those....*

    We have a terrific villain - Arthur Green... astoundingly easy to picture -- all too real lol.

    I think you have a great concept here. If you go over it again, you'll see a few fragment sentences here and there, and some of the writing reads a little more like a synopsis than action. Sometimes it's better to show what happens and let readers infer what people are thinking.

    You have two action scenes here, one where Denise is working at her computer and the other where Grask is working to restore power. The scenes are connected obviously.... perhaps instead of laying out all of Denise's scene and then moving on to Grask, you might consider switching from one to the other. As Denise is working at her desk, simultaneously, Grask is working on the grid. His actions affect them both.... Just a thought.

    Your concept of the earth shut down for visitors is quite intriguing. I'm looking forward to your next post.

    Reply
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  • Emma O'Connell #

    I really love the concept of this. Something about the idea of spaceports and space travel being a normal, everyday thing really appeals to me! You've established this universe well, and I like the casual asides about the various planets and inhabitants thereof - my favourite sentence is "Authorities had assured humans and aliens alike on Earth"; you've managed to make aliens seem so normal!

    Just a couple of comments: your opening section/prologue is great as it sets the scene and gives a bit of background, but it feels a bit rushed! Even just adding a couple of paragraph breaks would add more dramatic tension and make it feel less like an information overload.

    The other main thing is to keep an eye on your sentences! I think a couple of times you've just got a bit carried away and sort of mushed one sentence into the other, which can be a bit confusing :) perhaps just give it a read over to check that everything still makes sense as you write. For example:

    "A proud and selfish man, who in his early 50’s had set out to take all he could from Earth, although most of its natural beauty had gone especially from the coastlines, Earth was still popular with tourists from every point in space."

    You've got two different topics in this sentence - you've started talking about Arthur, and then deviated to describing Earth. You could change it to:

    "Arthur was a proud and selfish man, who in his early 50s had set out to take all he could from Earth. Although most of its natural beauty had gone, especially from the coastlines, Earth was still popular with tourists from every point in space."

    Or:

    "The fire raging within her being the last terrible thing she remembered was letting out a soundless scream as blackness took over her."

    I'm a bit confused here by what's meant to be happening, but you could change it to something like:

    "A terrible fire raged within her, and she let out a soundless scream. It was the last thing she knew as the blackness overtook her."

    Hope this helps! Keep writing! :)

    Reply
    • Heidi Manley (Author) #

      Thank you so much for your feedback. At the moment I am currently going back over my work (Definitely checking out those sentences) I know I have a tendency to skip words by accident as I'm trying to write down my ideas as they come to me. I've definitely taken up your advice and edited where I needed to. Hope you enjoyed it so far :)

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This cohort ended on 31st October 2016

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