GTI 7.1

Waist of Space, part one of the Unlikelihood series, followed Commanders Tarquin Stuart-Lane and Meredith Winstanley; hapless heroes of the Royal Space Regiment; who were sent on a mission to the Moon from which they were not expected to return. There they met with a group of aliens who had forged a living under the surface of the moon, and whose forebears were testing a new kind of spacecraft.

In part two, FLATUS, our dynamic duo help the aliens (and the RSR) build their own multi-locatable craft. Will the ships be built and if so, will the drives work? What are the possible effects of having three such craft in space at one time? FLATUS — Fantastically Large Assembly for Travel at Unbelievable Speeds. The most unlikely spacecraft never built?

Part three follows the preparation and development of the Gap Travel Initiative (code named GTI) and the developing relationships among and between species, races and genders. Will humankind achieve the nirvana of limitless travel and if so, at what cost. Stick with Tarquin and Meredith as they navigate their route through an uncertain future.

GTI. Chapter seven, scene one

Life on the moon base quickly returned to what passed locally for normal. Freed from the majority of her administrative and supervisory responsibilities, Andrea was able to devote her waking hours to the science and maths at which she so excelled and which gave her such a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction. [To avoid any possible ambiguity, I should point out that the pleasure and satisfaction mentioned were, shall we say, non-corporeal in nature; and when I say ‘waking hours’, I exclude those that are, not to put too fine a point on it, horizontally aligned. Emphatically so. There. Clear? Good.]

The Borborygmi had completed the manufacture of the Jinthae-designed suits, and no member of either species, human or Borborygmi, was wearing cumbersome pressure-suits. Meanwhile, the main part of the project – the GTI pods themselves – was still very much on the drawing board. Despite numerous visits and conference calls, neither the human nor the Borborygmi team was anywhere near putting driver to screw or spanner to nut.

Back at regimental HQ, Admiral Meredith Winstanley had convened a virtual conference attended by virtually everyone who was anyone on the project – virtually. The Right Honourable (and Learned) Kayleigh Marsden PC, QC, MP was both Secretary of State for Alien Affairs and Chair of the Alien Affairs Oversight Committee and so was in the unenviable position of having to hold herself to account; a task she undertook assiduously and conscientiously. Indeed, she is on the record as the only inner-circle cabinet-member in the history of parliamentary endeavour not only to have chastised herself, but also to have tabled a motion of no confidence in herself (the motion failed, having been declared by the speaker to be possibly unconstitutional, probably vexatious and most certainly unimaginably silly). The Secretary of State lent to the meeting the weight of her presence – about 125 Kg – and pretty much nothing else, she being an accomplished administrator who still thought the designation GTI related to a small German motor car from the internal combustion era. By contrast, her private secretary and senior adviser, Ben Hussain, was as knowledgeable as anyone (which wasn’t very) and added some much-needed gravitas to the proceedings… speaking of which, Warrant Officer Duncan de Sauderley had by then been transferred back to RHQ and placed in charge of fitness training, discipline and morale (other ranks). There being no members of the other ranks beyond galley-staff and a handful of low-level administrative operatives, his was not an onerous post. You will recall that Gravit Ass had expressed a preference for the heat of battle and will therefore be less than surprised to learn that his latest posting left him as frustrated as a prize bull languishing alone in a field separated by an invisible but impenetrable force-field from an adjacent one containing a score or so of the world’s most receptive of cows.

In addition to the political hacks and senior military officers (Meredith, Joan Weinberg and Patsy Pratt), the meeting was remotely attended by Andrea Smithson and Jason Strangename representing the human contingent on the moon, as well as by Artivon Grumpblast and Norman the Nameless representing the Borborygmi. Kala Kodash and Kitara Navilli were physically present on behalf of the Jinthae.

Once recognised as chair, the Secretary of State called the meeting to order and under direction from Patsy, albeit unwittingly, she asked for reports on status and progress on the pod construction from Joan and Artivon. The two had spoken on the previous day to compare and synchronise their accounts, and had agreed that Joan should initially speak for them both.

“Progress is slow, Madam Secretary,” she admitted, “This is mostly because although we have the detailed specifications, we lack an overview.”

“An overview?” the Secretary of State said channelling, as she so often did, Oscar Wilde’s Lady Augusta Bracknell (Dame Edith Evans’ portrayal, of course), “explain yourself, child.”

“With respect, Madam Secretary,” Meredith said, “I think it inappropriate to address a Rear Admiral in the Royal Space Regiment as ‘child’.”

Suitably admonished [don’t you just love EPHS?] the Secretary of State continued, “Tell me about this overview you lack, if you please, Rear Admiral.”

“Gladly, Ma’am. Imagine, if you will, being given detailed plans for the construction of the engine and drive systems for a personal land transport vehicle—”

“A GTI? I knew it. You’re making a motor car again. Good for you.”

“We’re not, but never mind. Let me try something closer to home. Imagine you have been given a file of detailed clauses and amendments for a new Act of Parliament—”

“What’s the Act for? What does it do?”

“Precisely. You need the overview, the context. You need the preamble, the summary that lays out what the Act is for and what it’s supposed to do.”

“Of course.”

“Thank you, Madam Secretary.” She turned to the Jinthae. “We know in detail how to build all the systems and subsystems, and even how to integrate them. We have test schedules for each component. But we don’t know what the final result should do. We don’t even know how the Human or Borborygmi interface is supposed to work.”

Kala Kodash stood to its full height of 118 centimetres. “That’s my failing, and I accept full responsibility,” it said, “We had intended to include that in your packages. Wait small.” It shimmered and suddenly held a pile of papers in its hands. The Secretary of State for Alien Affairs fainted. Simultaneously, the attendees on the moon came into possession of copies of the overview specifications, from the hand of Kitara’s sibling, Willy Navilli.

Secretary Marsden responded well to Patsy’s smelling salts, sat bolt upright and asked, “What just happened?”

“Apologies, Secretary,” Kala Kodash said, “My colleague went to get the papers that were missing. It can be disconcerting if you aren’t used to it.”

“But he didn’t go anywhere. One minute he was standing there, then suddenly he had a load of papers. What trickery is this?”

“This is what I was telling you about, Ma’am,” Ben Hussain said softly to her, “The Jinthate travelled to its home planet, twenty-three light years away, and returned with the papers.”

“Bah! Impossible. Some sort of magick [I think the way she spells that is enough to give a sense of how up-to-date the Secretary of State is in her thinking] or sleight of hand, I’ll be bound!”

“Clarke’s Third Law, Ma’am, ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’. What you have witnessed in action is the GTI technology we are seeking to develop.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that before we came here?”

“I did, Ma’am.”


“Before we came here, Ma’am.”

“Well. Make it clearer next time.”

“If I may suggest, Madam Secretary…” Meredith said.

“What is it, girl … I mean Admiral?”

“It would be useful to give our people the rest of the day to study this new information. I propose we adjourn now and reconvene tomorrow morning.”



Kreative Kue 213

Kreative Kue 212 asked for submissions based on this photograph:
John W Howell is the author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice and Circumstances of Childhood, co-author of The Contract, and blogs at Fiction Favorites.

The Walk by John W. Howell © 2019

“So how long have you been coming this way?”

“What do you mean?”

“Along this rocky beach.”

“Oh, this is a favorite of mine. I love the sound of the water.”

“But it is hard to walk on.”

“Yes but the views and fresh air make it all worthwhile.”

“I don’t know, but I think I prefer the higher ground.”

“What? And miss the opportunity to commune with nature?”

“The only nature I see are those buzzards circling overhead.”

“Come on. Look at those gulls over there.”

“Yeah, you see one gull you see them all.”

“Looks like someone got up on the wrong side of the bed.”

“Well, I wasn’t very keen on taking this walk.”

“I know if it were up to you, it would be all about lying around the house all day and never seeing anything.”

“Well, I’m not a big fan of the outdoors.”

“I don’t get that. Your kind has roamed the Earth for centuries.”

“Maybe some of my kind has. It is not for me. Can we go back now?”

“I can’t believe this. Your ancestors invented fire for heaven’s sake. You would think you could stand a little walk?”

“Easy for you to say. You have four legs so it is not as hard on each leg.”

“Okay, we’ll go back, but not a peep until kibble time.”

“I promise.”

And this from Kristian, who blogs regularly at Tales from the mind of Kristian.

Beachwalking Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 25/March/2019

I walk along the beach at dawn

Wandering freely without much care

Of where I place each foot, forlorn

And heavy, wondering why I linger there.

I glance to see a foggy tendril

A whispering ghost of gossamer wing

I hear a voice, I stand and tremble,

It is my name the Angels Sing.

There, by the sea, a corpse is lying,

I rush to help, too late, and yet

I give a breath, then stop trying

My eyes fall upon a piece of Jet.

The blackest stone of mourning loss

I see its glimmer and watch it shine.

This gem reveals much with its gloss.

The Gem and body, both are mine.

On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next Monday.

There won’t be a Kreative Kue for a couple of weeks – it seems someone is rather keen (and in a hurry) to buy our home here in France. Next week, we’ll be heading to the north of England in an effort to identify a house to live in after we have to leave this one! The next scheduled Kreative Kue will be on Easter Monday, 22nd April.

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 2.4

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.

Knight after Knight. Chapter two, part four.

I had it done. All of it. Blood tests, urine tests, physical examinations even those of the most intimate kind. It wasn’t too bad. Like so many things, the anticipation was immeasurably worse than the fact.

During our walk back from the clinic, Sophie asked me whether I thought it would be a good idea to put Pepu and Jen through a full medical check-up.

“What for?” I asked, “They both seem okay to me.”

“Exactly. They both seem okay, but are they? Can you tell, just by looking at them?”

“Point taken. I’ll set it up.”

“No, you won’t. I know you, something else will get in the way and it’ll be forgotten. I’ll set it up.”

“As you wish. Doesn’t matter which of us sets it up…”

“As long as it is done. Anyway, I’m down there often enough, I can take them and perhaps alleviate some of their natural apprehensions.”

They had it done. They were fine.

A week or so later, Sophie came back from her shift at the clinic and told me that Dr Willis would like to see us both.

“Any idea what for?” I asked.

“He didn’t say, but he wants to see us together. Apparently, it’s something to do with our tests. When can you do it?”

“Did he sound urgent?”

“You know what he’s like. He always sounds the same. Reading between the lines, though, I think it should be soon.”

“Okay. Can you set it up for tomorrow afternoon?”

Sophie called through and arranged to meet with the doctor the following afternoon.
Neither of us slept very well that night.

“I need to talk to you about some of these results,” Dr Willis said after we’d entered his office and seated ourselves across the desk from him.

“Trouble?” I asked.

“Depends what you call trouble,” he said, “Hannice, you need to shed some weight. Your blood sugar and cholesterol are both borderline. I want to see you at least once a month initially to get it under control. You know that your blood pressure was at the top end of acceptable when we measured it before. Let’s have a look at it now.” I removed my jacket and rolled my shirtsleeve up to the shoulder. He placed the cuff on me and inflated it. “Hmm. Borderline raised,” he said, “we need to keep an eye on that, too.” He pressed the intercom button on his desk and instructed his receptionist to book an appointment for me in one month. “Now, Sophie. I’m afraid your colo-rectal screen showed traces of blood in your stool. Now, that could be nothing, but I think we should have you in for a colonoscopy to be on the safe side. Have you had any problems with your digestion lately?”

“A bit of indigestion now and again, but that’s all. I put that down to eating the wrong stuff.”

“Let’s see what the colonoscopy throws up, shall we? I can do it for you next Wednesday if that suits.”

“Yes, Doctor. Whenever. Let’s just get it cleared up.”

“Great. In the meantime, I’d like our dietitian to have a chat with your new cook; give her some pointers to keep you two, and your parents, Sophie, as fit and healthy as I know you’d like to be.”

“Jen would love that, Doctor,” Sophie said, “she said she’s always wanted to train as a dietitian and the chance to learn a little from a real one would really please her.”

“Good. I’ll set that up. I’ll have her come to you, if you’d prefer.”

“Will your dietitian be able to recommend a course Jen could take?” I asked, “We’ve already told her we’d cover any costs involved.”

“Janine, that’s our dietitian’s name, teaches part-time at the local college. I’m sure she’d be happy to enrol your girl. I take it her English is up to it…”

“Better than mine, sometimes,” Sophie said.

“Leave it with me. I’ll let Janine know when she sees your girl that she’s a potential student, as well as being your cook. And I’ll see you next Wednesday, Sophie. Have a light meal the evening before and I’ll prescribe a self-administered enema for you to use when you get up. If you can be in here by ten, I’ll be able to see you straight away. And, Hannice – one month. Okay?”

“Thank you, Doctor,” I said. I stood and shook his hand before we both left his office.
On the way home, I could sense that Sophie was worried about what Dr Willis had told her.

“I know it’s early,” she said, “but what if they find something terrible?”

“If they do, then we’ll talk about it. So far, all they’ve found is a small trace of blood in your poo. It might be nothing. It often is. You’ll find out on Wednesday if there’s anything to worry about.”

“Thanks, Hannice. Okay if I worry about your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol?”

“No. I’m not going to worry about it. It might be a blip. He’ll keep an eye on me anyway and do whatever he thinks needs to be done to keep it under control.”

“The thing I worry about most is diabetes.”

“He didn’t mention that, so I’m assuming it’s not a risk. Not an immediate one, anyway. Seriously though. Can you see me sticking a needle into myself every day?”

“No, I can’t,” she said with a grin, “I’m hoping that Janine, the dietitian, will help Jen to keep us fit.”

“And that what she has Jen cooking for us isn’t too awful—”

“Or too bland.”

“Or too little!”

We held hands and continued back to Knight Towers like a couple of young lovers. I could sense, though, that Sophie was a long way from reassured.