Happy Social Distancing Christmas 2020! Folks, it's a tough one. The year ends in the midst of tragedy and uncertainty. For so many, the Holiday Season will be anything but a holiday.
Wednesday, 23 December 2020
Happy Social Distancing Christmas 2020! Folks, it's a tough one. The year ends in the midst of tragedy and uncertainty. For so many, the Holiday Season will be anything but a holiday.
Friday, 18 December 2020
The hastily scribbled words read, ‘Project and our lives in danger. Whatever happens, know I love you always. Dad.'
Nova ran her fingers over the tattered note. Refolding it carefully she returned it to her chest pocket and leaned back. Looked out the cockpit window. The answers had to be out there, somewhere. In the never-ending darkness of space.
Bernard broke the silence.
“Since receiving that message two months ago, you have read it eighty-two times. More than once a day. By now you should have memorized it. Still, you bring it out, over and over again, as if you expect to see something you haven’t noticed. Each time I sense increased blood pressure, a shift in your cardiovascular system, and both tear ducts perform their inexplicable service. Why don’t you share with me the contents? I am your friend.”
A calm shake of the head. “You’re a machine, Bernard. You would never understand.”
“I should like to try.”
“You’re also my friend,” said Nova after a deep sigh. “And I love you for that. Without you I’d have no-one.”
Diodes flashed softly, as if Bernard blinked in thought.
“Once again, a hard-to-interpret response. Typical of that paradox of a species known as humans. Liable to cause provocation overload, if unprepared. I resign myself to a simple ‘thank you.’ And believe me, it’s a gamble at that.”
Here Bernard paused for a sigh of sorts. A long sloping blip.
“Nova, I appreciate you too. Perhaps one day I shall understand what human love is. Honestly, I hope I’m spared.”
She had to smile at Bernard’s algorithmic dilemma. Something in the distance caught her eye. She reached for the binoculars.
“Ah, the target of our dubious detour is within visual range,” Bernard said. “How unfortunate.”
“Looks kinda divey.”
“I could have told you that! We must return to our original course at once and head for home!”
Laying down the binoculars, Nova grabbed the bag of pastries and smelled them. They looked delicious.
“I’m sure it’s fine. Stay on course.”
Wednesday, 16 December 2020
“I’m a complete fiasco!” Vesper moaned, making good use of the tissue Exodus handed him. “The entire funeral! Nothing but one big fiasco!”
“Funeral?” asked Breinz, her loudspeaker rasping with sudden interest.
“Yes! This morning! I almost buried a living person! The man wasn’t dead! He was in a coma! But the family wanted him in the ground. The sooner the better. I came this close to being an accessory to murder! Can you comprehend the shame!?”
“How did you know he was in a coma?” Exodus asked.
“How dare you let a detail like that prevent you from doing your duty?” Breinz demanded.
“I was leading a ceremony! Somberly, with dignity! As befits the laying of a person to final rest.”
“You were too slow.”
Vesper made a lame gesture. “The old man woke up. Hit his head on the lid and fell back and screamed. I heard the noise and I-- I don’t know. Reacted on instinct!”
Exodus looked lost. “You mean, yours?”
“Yes! As did he, I imagine. Waking up in a coffin must be a shocking thing.”
“I wouldn’t mind,” said Breinz. “And mine wouldn’t have to be that big.”
Vesper went on. “I walked over, opened it up and looked inside. There he lay, screaming, arms flailing. That’s when people started fainting. Oh my word, I can’t even repeat whom he mistook me for!”
“The devil incarnate?” offered Breinz.
“What, he was there too?” said Exodus.
“You might say. The family, all the heirs, the lust of their eyes consumed with his wealth. They knew he wasn’t dead! They wanted him gone, quickly, cleanly--”
“With dignity,” cut in Breinz.
“Absolutely. Before it was too late! But I was--”
“Too many psalms,” said Vesper in hopeless summary. He sighed. “Greed and yet more greed. Makes the world go around. Eats people up from inside.”
“Never done me no harm.”
Saturday, 21 November 2020
High noon at City Hall! In the sixth part of the Inside Man caper, it's all about rescuing District Attorney Philip West and Ann before time runs out, and nailing the high-ranking bad guy. Through the bowels of the grand old building our hero and Captain Forrester must search, led by George, the soon-to-retire guard. The result can only include gunfire, insanity, quick lunches, death and a shocking climax in the final part of Jack Sneaker & The Inside Man!
Friday, 13 November 2020
After the truly traumatic moment at the morgue, Ann West has a confession to make. Judge Carnegie preaches to the decidedly unconverted. Jack has a bit of convincing to do himself, to the local constabulary, and a plan is set in motion. Then disaster strikes at the clock shop. This is part five of the six-part short reads series Jack Sneaker and The Inside Man!
Saturday, 7 November 2020
Hospitals are safe places. Particularly when a subject is under guard. You expect that. However, in part four of this Kindle Short Reads series, a poached take on hard-boiled crime fiction, Jack Sneaker's hunt for the Inside Man doubles up. An old friend does a case-important favor and a forced meeting with a city official creates suspicions. Then Captain Forrester has dramatic news. A body has turned up...
Thursday, 29 October 2020
Wednesday, 7 October 2020
Monday, 5 October 2020
Monday, 28 September 2020
Saturday, 19 September 2020
Tuesday, 15 September 2020
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
“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?”
Thursday, 27 August 2020
Monday, 17 August 2020
“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
Monday, 10 August 2020
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
Monday, 27 July 2020
Sunday, 19 July 2020
Tuesday, 14 July 2020
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
“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 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 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
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
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 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 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.
Tuesday, 2 June 2020
Monday, 11 May 2020
Monday, 4 May 2020
Saturday, 11 April 2020
Thursday, 12 March 2020
Wednesday, 12 February 2020
Tuesday, 11 February 2020
Friday, 31 January 2020
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.