Tuesday, 15 September 2020

THE WARP

The restroom door opened. Vesper ambled out and slumped back on the bar stool. Not wasting a moment Exodus refilled his tumbler. Breinz stared at him. 

   “Made a mess in there? In accordance with the pathetic male figure you can’t help conforming to?”

   Vesper returned a weak smile. “No more so than the sensation of relief warrants.”  

   “Go check,” Breinz snarled to Exodus. The cyborg left the rag on the bar, but realized he might need it and shoved it back into his belt and went. Vesper burst into tears all of a sudden. 

   The cyborg stopped and looked back. “Really? That bad in there?”

   “Shh!” Breinz snapped. “This is it! Here it comes, the confession! The phenomenon on which every bar in every quadrant every day justifies its existence. The ravaged soul! Torn, impregnated, burdened beyond its limits with the refuse of life! It’s about to be delivered from its dark bosom, encouraged by alcoholic vapors and two involuntary listeners. One of whom has no choice but to suffer it and the other mercifully relieved of the capacity to understand a thing.” 

   She dropped a glance Exodus’s way, before continuing on Vesper. 

   “Out with it, you pathetic excuse for a man! Let’s hear it! The jury’s in place! Your counsel is standing by!”

   Vesper had his face buried in his elbow. The other hand thumped the bar top like the war drummer was the last man left standing. His sobs filled the room.

   “It’s all over!” he cried in anguish. “I’m doomed!”

   “Excellent!” Breinz shouted with a laugh. “Good opening statement!”


Sunday, 30 August 2020

THE WARP

    “Makes them seem smaller eh?” hissed Breinz. “Well now, that would depend on the problem, wouldn’t it?”
 
   “In the best of cases, that is, worst of cases,” Exodus corrected himself. “It can make one forget one’s own hardships and make one grateful a moment. For there are many who have it much worse off.”

   “Thank you Exodus,” said Vesper, receiving his top-up. “You are a friend crowned with wisdom. Please accept my confidence as a tip.”

   Breinz’s uninhibited gaze stayed locked on the cyborg. “With your hand on your heart, if you can find anything so small, are you suggesting I have cause to be grateful? For what may I ask? Being alive? You over-grown freak! You call this existence? A 'forgettable hardship'?”

   Exodus frowned in search of a suitable response.

   "Between us, no," said Vesper. He emptied his shot and stood up on weak legs. “Your case, Olga, we shall leave as one of Fate’s cruel twists. If you’ll excuse me, I shall withdraw from this stimulating atmosphere of bitterness to perform an action that simply won’t hold further delay.”

   The other two watched him make his wobbly path to a steel door at the other end of the room.

   Breinz called out after him. “You miss the bowl you wipe it up!”

   A resounding burp reverberated from the tiled quarters as the swing door closed.

   “I hate that man,” Olga Breinz muttered. “A hypocrite of the worst kind.”

   Exodus looked at her and innocently considered the likelihood of this being true. Then wiped the bar with his rag. “I think Vesper is a nice man. A friendly and caring soul he is. He cares about us. Has it crossed your mind that he’s our only returning customer? That says a whole lot. The man has integrity! And he drinks a whole lot while he’s here. That says a whole lot about his job too. He takes it seriously!”

   Breinz swung her eyes back to Exodus. Like poisonous darts about to strike.

   “And I hate you too,” she rasped. “Always have. How’s that for integrity?”

Monday, 17 August 2020

THE WARP

Vesper put an effort into raising his foggy head. His eyes had begun rolling about like marbles in an eggcup but he succeeded in bringing Breinz into his field of view.

   “Every time,” he began by way of reply, “I ask myself this. Why do I even bother coming here, to be the subject of derision, by those I thought were my friends?”

   “Sweetheart,” came the raspy reply. “There’s nowhere else you can slowly drown yourself, where the listener has no choice but to stay and put up with your pitiful drivel.”

   “If you feel that way, why don’t you have Exodus carry you into the backroom? It’s cold in there, your soul might feel right at home.”

   He slid his empty glass over the bar. Exodus took it and turned his bulk to look at Breinz, and decided to speak up.

   “You mean you don’t like listening to Vesper? I do. Listening to other people’s problems is interesting. Makes your own problems seem smaller.”

   With a squeak of elderly mechanics Breinz turned her contraption of a head and faced the cyborg. Exodus Tonn was an enormous man even before the explosion on Delta Four. Now, with more or less half his physical being replaced with robotics he looked more imposing than ever. On his back he carried a gun which Vesper had begun to suspect was permanently attached to his body. Wiring and heavy cables protruding from it disappeared under the waist of his khaki field jacket and didn’t come out anywhere. A gun of this size would normally sit on a vehicle with at least four wheels.

Whenever Exodus turned his back to prepare a customer's next drink, as he now did, Vesper always fancied the weapon smiling at him with a mocking sort of confidence oozing out of its massive shape and dull metal finish.

“Hello kid,” it seemed to say. “I sink buildings.”

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Short of restating what must be already quite obvious, we have two books available in both paperback and e-book formats for your reading entertainment. Freshly edited and restored and out under a new name. Get them HERE.

 

Monday, 10 August 2020

THE WARP

A sleek, late-model four-seater spaceship was moored and docked to The Warp. If there are such things as back streets in space this must have been one of the worst, because the station looked just right for it. The spaceship did not. It did neither party any good for it to be parked there.

The contrast was such a blaring signal that it made the eyes sting and the watchful mind, that naturally engages when entering back streets, ring with observations like ‘despair’, or ‘crime’. Or, ‘somewhere, somehow, someone’s paying for this.’

From an ancient, steel-grilled loudspeaker a voice rattled forth with a sound as might be achieved after two hundred years of chain-smoking.

   “Ha!” it began. “I’d say all the little problems and self-occupied frustrations of his parish members have finally broken him!”

Above the loudspeaker were two bloodshot eyes the size of golf balls. They had no sockets but hung free, mounted on thick optical cables of metal coiled with strips of flesh and nerves. The whites were more of a yellowish color. Without lids or any other expressive devices that normally surround eyes, this naked pair simply glared wildly. Above the crude mechanism of the eyes and the loudspeaker was a fishbowl containing green liquid and a human brain.

This head, if you can call it that, was mounted on a telescopic arm protruding from a wooden box that hummed. Slim hoses ran along the arm, transporting bubbling liquids to the brain. Dials and switches riddled the front of the box and cracked leather carrying straps hung on the sides.

By any and all reasoning Colonel Olga Breinz should have been dead. But here she was, the last vital parts of her, brain and eyes, preserved and kept in a vague state of aliveness.

   “Or is our over-paid servant of dreamers just having another bad day?”   

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Changes...

Folks, 'Times they are a'changin', as Uncle Bob sang. The world is, and so is this site. Bear with me as we work our way through all the various bits and pieces. Thanks for your patience. J

Monday, 27 July 2020

THE WARP

Nova adjusted herself in her seat, sinking deeper into it. 

   “You’re so sweet, Bernard.”

A brief pause filled the humming cabin. 

   “Hmm, a complex response, hard to interpret. Typically human and far from ideal. You sound not unlike the miners we’ve just left. Not the words mind you. I’m referring to the utter lack of sense behind them. Did you know that this was their second delivery of drill bits in as many weeks? What are they doing? What’s that meteorite made of? A mineral composition of exceptional strength and density? By the gravities! I never expected the matter to fascinate me so!”

   “How long?”

   “Estimated time of arrival to our home quadrant Zeta is one hundred and nineteen and a half minutes at current rate of speed. Shall we accelerate?”

Nova shook her head and held up a small paper bag. “One of the mine chief’s secretaries had a birthday. She gave me some leftover pastries. I fancy them now. See if you can locate a café or something nearby.”

   “I’ve identified a small establishment that matches the desired profile. It does not however match any known listings and the mere thought of paying it a visit fills me with dread. I recommend we forget it.”

Nova unholstered the laser gun from her thigh and checked the charge level. Looked good. It switched on with a clean hiss. She slipped it back. 

   “Go there.”

   “Request denied. Experience teaches us- correction, guarantees that visits of this nature are associated with extreme danger and high levels of unpleasantness. These are dubious quadrants around here! Not to be confused with quaint country villages!”

From her other thigh Nova pulled out a second gun and did the same thing with that. 

   “Well Bernard, it so happens I’m in the mood to sit in a café and enjoy my pastries, and I’m quite happy to switch over to manual if that’s what it takes.”

   “Blast! And I use that term rhetorically!" Bernard sighed. "Fine. You win! But I’m making a note of this incident! Along with a footnote!”

Nova leaned back again as the yellow space cab revved up and banked into a turn.


Sunday, 19 July 2020

THE WARP

Nova sat leaned back in the pilot’s chair and watched Bernard out of the corner of her eye as he ranted. The red light on the panel flickered like it was suffering a short circuit. Lifting her head she arranged her shoulder-length blond curls onto one side and reached for a clipboard. 
   “It seems the conditions are in your favor,” she said and began leafing through the papers on the steel pad. 

Bernard blinked on. “We’ll have to upgrade our vehicle for reasonable long-distance economy and subject me to a processor makeover and a software tweak, followed by a complete and shameless inspection from top to bottom. It’s simply not worth it. Please say this was the first and last time.”

The pen scratched away as the young cabbie marked her personal log. “This was the first and last time.” She dropped the clipboard onto the empty seat next to her. Resting her eyes on the endless blackness outside she split into a wide yawn. 

The shipboard computer responded with a grunt. “I shall treat your sarcasm much as I would a backfire in hyperspace. Are you aware that our conversation has suffered an unbecoming imbalance in recent days, ever since you received that mysterious telegram? I am the only one doing the talking!”

“The things you notice, Bernard.”

Bernard let out a sigh. “You are positively incorrigible. I shall deal with the nuisance aspect of your personality later. For now allow my artificial yet sincere concern extend itself to other areas. Something is troubling you, Nova. Don’t deny it. I see it, sense it and hear it. You work hard and you’re carrying a burden. You need time off! But I’m warning you, that does not imply switching off your only friend in the entire universe — me!”

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

THE AID STATION - new book by Jari Hinshelwood!

Human occupation has spread to other parts of the galaxy. In the Parallel system, ageing bomber pilot Brett Coles finds himself removed from the air force and having to fly aid missions to the occupied races.
   An old mansion is turned into an aid station and the operation will be run by the dubious Sidney Lemongrass, a former lawyer. Also at the aid station we find Forbes Tender, man about the house, who is actually a humanoid robot who wants nothing more than be furnished with the ability, specifically the tool, to be able to satisfy women. Until he is thus equipped, he is a lethal danger to humans.
   Coboe, the native kid. Wilzer, the flight engineer. We meet Brett's daughter Rory. And her pet cheetah cub Slim, which, typical of one's offspring's pets, somehow ends up becoming your responsibility.
   Donatella the ex-wife. And her new toy boy Rodney, whose accident is quite horrendous, but also funny, on the whole. And, of course, the dramatic, intense love story over the borders. And let's not forget Teeranne, the hooker with surprising business acumen.
  The Aid Station is, quite simply, a riot. Get it for your pad, phone, computer:  https://www.amazon.com/author/jarihinshelwood

Saturday, 11 July 2020

THE WARP

In the dotted black velvet of space, a taxi vessel was just leaving a small planet. In truth, it was more like a large asteroid. The little yellow ship gained speed rapidly as it headed into open space. On the door was a circular logo, ‘Z Quadrant Cabs 272’. The traditional black and white checkered stripe ran the length of the somewhat bulky shape. When it was new the heavy lines were no doubt considered graceful if not majestic. But that was some time ago. It was obvious by the dents and scratches it had seen better days. Yet, as taxis go, it surely had plenty left in her, despite a well-used appearance.

   “I say, I’m exceedingly grateful that that was the last run of the day,” said a metallic voice. It had the ring of a peeved British Lord returning on his steed to the estate after a day of dismal foxhunting. The voice went on.

   “Do you have any appreciation at all of the absurdity of this excursion? What in heaven’s name do they take us for? A delivery service? We’ve just transported a box of drill bits! Drill bits mind you, in a greasy cardboard box, to ill-mannered cave robots and other humanoid ruffians in a meteorite mine, whose cost-effectiveness I very much doubt would ever hold up to official scrutiny! And all for the dubious privilege of leaving our home to trek all the way out here to a foreign quadrant!”

   “Come on Bernard, the drill bits are manufactured in our quadrant,” said a female voice with the tired huskiness that indicated the passing of a long afternoon. “Why not use us?”

   “My dear Nova, may I remind you we’re a quadrant taxi. Not a cross-galactic light-year hopper!”

   “They had an emergency and we helped them. It is after all only the neighboring quadrant. And it’s not like we had any other runs knocking on the window.”

   “Are you aware that inter-quadrant freight tariffs are higher? But that won’t benefit us by a penny until we get a cargo license. That means converting our registration! Do you have any idea how much the Department of Galactic Transport charges for such a thing? And the waiting list? Does the word bureaucracy mean anything to you?”


Wednesday, 8 July 2020

THE WARP

What had been diagnosed as death by a team of medical experts was in fact a deep coma. Normally, an event such as returning from established death ought to be met with great joy by all concerned. But not in this case.

The should-be deceased was a wealthy man and his family had in mind to cash in good and proper. An aspiration cruelly dashed by the light of life suddenly twinkling again in the elderly patriarch’s eyes. And the whole thing boiled down to being entirely Vesper’s fault. It was that last hymn he decided to include on the spur of the moment.

Vesper is a sucker for hymns. He loves them. Plays them loudly on his stereo at home. Blasts them out of his in-craft sound system. Sings along at every opportunity. Fervently conducts his congregation in the rousing anthems.

Critics claim that the Official Galactic Church Hymnal is outmoded and horrible and has been known to drive living specimens into a coma. With such a track record it shouldn’t be surprising if the opposite effect also is seen from the sheer vibrant force of it all. Such were the initial analyses Vesper heard following this morning’s disaster. Be that as it may, Vesper is now a marked man. A fugitive with a price on his head. The chagrined family members are out to seek revenge on him for so flagrantly overstepping the call of his office and including that last death-quenching hymn on a whim.

As the altitude of Vesper’s forehead gradually lowered by each firm swipe of his drink and was on its way towards a touchdown on the steel bar top of The Warp, a floating watering-hole hidden away in the neighboring quadrant, he was observed with interest by two nearby characters. A brain in a bowl, and a cyborg.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

THE WARP - a bar in space (we're there now)

Vesper is a complex character with wavering self-confidence and a weak and confused conviction of faith. He just wants God to like him, if He even exists. And succeed in his calling, if he has one. His father is a bishop and his mother a politician. Vesper’s two older brothers and one older sister are all more successful than he, or so he feels.
 
The young Vesper opted for a commission to this part of the galaxy just to be far away, Ultimately Shifted, from the rest of the family. Making it impossible to take part in the family gatherings where his momentum in life was sure to be the topic of choice.

Unbeknownst to Vesper at the time, his commission to this distant quadrant was the very recommendation made by his father to the Galactic Church Council, in hopes that the challenge would make his son grow in confidence and become a better man.

The situation that brought him to The Warp this afternoon in a hurry to lift his glass in a hurry, was a minor case of a funeral gone wrong. Funerals just don’t go wrong. Simply because everyone present is calm and somber and at least one should be solidly dead. So Vesper kept repeating to himself. What could possibly go wrong under such orderly conditions? That pattern fell apart this morning. The object of the funeral, the one deceased, decided to wake up from the dead.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

THE WARP - a bar in space

   The other incredible thing is that it takes all of the energy produced by all the superpowers combined to make this feat of galactic flexing work. So for a half an hour or so every six months the entire world comes to a standstill as the electrical output from every single power station on planet Earth is channeled by laser beam and a system of huge orbiting mirrors to corresponding receivers at the embarkation point to activate the Ultimate Paradigm Shift.

   Going takes place in the fall and you return in the spring, with Earth designated the center of the universe to prevent confusion when ordering your ticket, as a mistake would unalterably shift your plans by six months. Making you miss the World Series, birthdays, weddings and funerals, job opportunities and whatnot.

   And so Man in all his glory is spreading out all over the known galaxy. Bringing with him all the fruits of his fallen state. His rebellious ambitions and assorted fanciful notions about himself and Truth. Passing them on as skillfully as ever to the succeeding generations of settlers.

   One member of this fortunate multitude is a man of thirty Earth years called Vesper Septuagint. He’s of average height, slim and quite agreeable to behold on a good day. On top of that he’s a newly ordained priest of the Galactic Church. A massive organization with a sobering presence in every outpost Man has successfully colonized and to whom Vesper is a humble servant, serving with zeal a parish located in a quadrant on the opposite end of the galaxy.

   At the moment he’s sitting on a bar stool in The Warp, not looking so good, working on deluging his tormented mind with intoxicating beverage, being physically and mentally on the run from a quite extraordinary situation.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

THE WARP - a bar in space (still leading up to it)

   The cost of leaping from one side of the galaxy to the other using the shortcut of shortcuts is so huge it’s only carried out twice a year and only then under the jurisdiction of a controlling body formed by representatives from each of Earth’s superpowers, which share in footing the bill. Of these there were about two hundred at the last count.

   Whether or not it was all worth it is still being debated. Close to fifty million people lost their lives in the development and testing of Ultimate Shift technology. In fairness to the program and its operators we don’t know for certain that all of them did lose their lives. Some of them may well by alive and perfectly happy at that, we just don’t know where. The constructive route of trial and error prevailed and precision gradually improved. Nowadays the process is as safe as a ride on the subway with a return ticket.

   Every six months a colossal mobilization of assets and manpower takes place on a location some ways out from the geo-stationary orbit height, about forty thousand kilometres into space. A skip of an atom compared to the light years that are traversed by the mere pull of a lever. The incredible thing is, the thousands of private residential space ships, cargo freighters, long haul cruise ships and correctional facility transports that gather together for the ride, don’t actually move more than about half a mile. The act of bending space adds the rest.

Monday, 15 June 2020

THE WARP - about a bar in space (we'll get to the bar soon)

    Civil engineering reached its definite peak a couple of generations back.  They finally cracked the challenge of space bending, making the dream of cross-galactic travel a reality.  This changed everything.  The idea first took shape many years earlier.  As pivotal, revolutionary ideas often do, on a coffee house napkin.  Once formulated on paper, its very simplicity struck the handful of young 21st Century scientists with embarrassment at not having thought of it before.
    The principle is exemplified by the folding over of a piece of paper so the opposite ends touch, enabling an ant to cross from one end to the other in a mere few steps, saving it the laborious exercise of walking across the whole sheet to reach the same destination.
    As with all of Man’s advancements, the simplest theories frequently lead to the most challenging practical projects.  Two centuries after the napkin was happily shoved into the breast pocket of a university blazer, space bending, or the Ultimate Paradigm Shift (UPS for short) became available to all.  There’s really only one problem.  It’s expensive.  Phenomenally expensive.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

THE WARP - a bar in space. A sci-fi comedy novel-ish thing.

Let's open with a bang, shall we?

The grenade hit the top of the stone wall.  The force knocked Exodus Tonn to the ground, knocking him out for a quick bit.  When his head stopped spinning he felt his arm.  It was missing.  Five inches of upper arm was all that remained.  Blood flowed.
   Oddly, it didn’t hurt.  Every nerve ending, every cell on his body was on adrenaline overdrive.  A voice called out his name.  His wingman lay in pieces in the mud twenty feet away.  It was the commander shouting, checking he was okay.  He couldn’t see where she was.
   The whine of another incoming round had him clawing and kicking to get away.  The wall took a full hit and exploded, lifting the ground under him, throwing him across the muddy ground.  Into merciful blackness.

Now, a setting-up look back.

The year is 2263.  Space is as big as ever, if not bigger.  It’s also as dark and inhospitable as ever.  Every now and then a celestial body goes up in a puff of smoke, seemingly at will.  As if taking upon itself to bring a change to galactic monotony and forms something else in the same spot.  Generally not improving things. 
   The occurrences never fail to give the global Earth community of astronomers a new lease of life and a fresh reminder that drawing a salary for being exceptionally patient doesn’t go without its occasional reward. 

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

TAJTS! Första avsnittet nu på Youtube!

Teo, Nova, Max och Adelaide fortsätter rapportera om superhjältars personliga problem, men står också inför superproblem själva! Nu på Youtube!

Friday, 31 January 2020

Now on YouTube!

Jack Sneaker is a private investigator. Stubbornly old school, but he has at least begun recording his case notes digitally, on his phone. And he's given us access to some of his files!

In this short film put together from his filmed notes, you can follow him as he solves (more or less) an extraordinary abduction case!

The project premise was, what if one person made a film, wrote, shot, acted, edited - all on his own? Like a one-man band in the park with guitar, rattling bells and a quirky song, and nothing more? Well, had to try it.

Twelve one-minute episodes have run daily on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and the whole thing is now a 12-minute short film on YouTube, with a couple of extra lines added that didn't make the 60-second cut for Instagram.

JH