Monday, 30 September 2013

The Sleeping Warrior (Sara Bain) in One Thousand Words

The Sleeping Warrior by Sara Bain is today's fearured book on One Thousand Worlds. 


LONDON solicitor Libby Butler’s life is in a self-inflicted mess. Her affair with her boss is going nowhere as is her position in a city law firm. A narrow escape from the knife of south London’s elusive serial murderer, The Vampire Killer, has challenged her outward bravado and left her nerves in tatters.

When duty calls Libby to a police station in the middle of the night, she meets the enigmatic Gabriel Radley. Dressed like an ancient warrior, Gabriel has a habit of disappearing from police custody and danger appears to dog him.

Gabriel is searching for a 'stone', its value 'beyond human imagination', that will help bring a 'monster' to justice. When Libby agrees to help him, she plunges her life into grave danger where no one is safe.

A cult who call themselves The Awakened, a gangland thug and his henchman, a female assassin, a detective chief inspector from Scotland Yard, and even the serial killer, all become inadvertently embroiled in the chase for the stone and the pivotal force of Gabriel.

As the death toll rises, Libby is forced to face herself, learn the true value of life and the potent significance of the Sleeping Warrior within. 

About this author:
A former newspaper journalist and editor of professional text books, London-born Sara Bain is a fantasy writer who now lives in south west Scotland. Dark Dawn, the first book of her epic fantasy The Scrolls of Deyesto, is due to be published at the end of 2013.

‘HELLO, THIS IS LIBBY BUTLER and it’s the middle of the night so this had better be good.’
‘Miss Butler, this is Sergeant Jonathan Fry. I understand you’re the duty solicitor tonight …’
‘Wait a minute,’ Libby sat up in the bed, her mood suddenly indignant, ‘I was on last week.’
‘Your colleague gave me your number, miss,’ the sergeant’s tone remained matter-of-fact. ‘He said you could speak a few languages.’
‘Bloody Maurice!’ Libby hissed. Tony lay beside her, blinking in incomprehension. ‘Can this not wait until the morning?’
‘Sorry, miss.’ The officer sounded genuinely apologetic. ‘We’ve got a foreign man in custody and he needs a legal brief.’
‘I suppose that’ll be me.’
‘Can you come down to the station right now?’
‘Ask him if he’s beaten a confession out of the poor bastard yet.’ Tony added his thoughts to the conversation as he stretched his eyes. ‘That’s what coppers do, isn’t it?’
She hissed at him to be quiet. ‘Which station did you say you were at?’
‘East Dulwich, miss. Just down the road from you.’
‘Give me half an hour.’ She jabbed the red button and threw the phone on the bed. ‘At least it’s not Camberwell this time.’
‘Yet one more sorry criminal requires the earthly wisdom and experience of Miss Libby Butler!’ Tony yawned and threw his arm across his eyes.
‘Maurice can speak seven languages, including Mandarin and Afrikaans, the bastard. He’s stitched me up. No doubt there’s another crisis in his chaotic love life. He’s not going to get away with this.’
‘I’ll get dressed.’ Tony threw the bed clothes off and made to get up.
‘It’s OK,’ she began, taking a long look at him. She noticed the dishevelled brown hair, the glazed eyes and, moreover, the look of pained resignation on his face as he would give up one more good night’s sleep in order to pamper her foolish insecurities: Libby didn’t like the dark. She pushed him back onto the comfortable pillows. ‘There’s no need, really. I’m only going round the corner.’ She snatched up the blue pinstripe skirt and white blouse from the carpet and heaved them on.
‘You can’t wear that, it’s filthy!’ Tony laughed.
‘It’s just chocolate. I’ll give it a rub down.’ She spat on the worst spot at her chest and scrubbed it with her fingers, turning it into a dirty brown smear. She sighed as she noticed the dark perspiration marks in the cloth. ‘I’ve only got the green one, which doesn’t go with blue.’ She dived into the wardrobe. ‘What does the Met expect when they wake a woman up in the middle of the night to explain the legalities of being a drunken bum on the streets of London?’ She checked herself in the mirror and groaned. ‘If I wear loads of make-up, do you think the lovely boys in blue will notice I’m not wearing a bra?’
‘You’ll have to wear a jacket.’
Libby turned from the mirror only to smile at the sudden display of concern for her struggling dignity. Sometimes she felt she didn’t deserve her partner’s adoration and this moment was one of them. The rest of the time, she knew she didn’t. She swallowed the guilt and buried her thoughts in making herself look presentable with eye-liner, blusher and lipstick, before attacking her tangled brown hair with the brush.
‘Will you see me to the car?’ She didn’t have to ask as Tony was already dressed for the event in his grey tracksuit bottoms with baggy knees.
‘I’m awake and dressed. I may as well drive you.’
‘You’re a darling,’ she squeezed his hand as her lips brushed his cheek in a light declaration of gratitude.
The drive took less than three minutes. The white clock on the station wall registered two thirty-three a.m. when Libby came through the doors and was greeted by an empty counter. She followed the typed instructions sellotaped to the desk, urging visitors to ‘press the bell’, and waited in the foyer. She cast a vague glance over the information posters for Crimestoppers; what to do when your kids are on drugs; and cash for heating the elderly in winter.
Her gaze caught the darkness behind the glass door and she threw her arms about herself, taking comfort that Tony was waiting in the car, in the shadows just outside, but beyond the catchment of the street light. While she waited, and the turning hands of time on the wall clicked in the background, Libby’s thoughts trailed to why a professional woman, with a history of a happy childhood and a reasonably successful career, would have developed such an irrational fear after a simple walk in the park.
Granted, it had been dark at the time but she remembered the surging panic; her heart pounding in her ears; her breath slowly leaving her to choke on her own terror; and couldn’t remember getting home that night at all or how she got the strange hairline cuts on the palms of her hands and fingers.
Thank God for those revellers. She must’ve given them a real fright when she screamed at them, hysterical, that someone was following her. It didn’t help matters that the headless body of a woman had been found by a schoolgirl in the park a few days later.
Libby’s psychiatrist, Nicole, a friend of the family, had spent many months attempting to eke out a plausible rationale but had, so far, come up with little to fill her file with, save for some kind of post-traumatic reaction. Libby, of course, was perfectly capable of giving an accurate self-diagnosis and knew her apparent phobias were just a symptom of her life and the way in which she was failing to cope with its confounding complexities.
She almost jumped when a figure appeared behind the counter. ‘A big Mac and extra fries, please,’ she immediately regretted her words when she saw the destitution of humour in those raised, unplucked eyebrows.

Where to buy The Sleeping Warrior

Where you can connect with Sara Bain

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Tangerine (Wodke Hawkinson) on Sci-Fi Saturdays

Sci-Fi Saturday is here again and One Thousand Worlds has the pleasure of introducing Wodke Hawkinson's Tangerine in One Thousand Words. Tangerine is scheduled to be free on Amazon Kindle on Sept. 30, 2013.


Ava Majestic is a young scientist who takes a job analyzing planets for possible habitation. Pisk, her small feline-like companion, accompanies her in her space travels. She is mysteriously drawn to the beautiful orange world of Tangerine, which is on her list of assigned planets.
Ava soon finds herself pitted against an egotistical Earth billionaire, Augustus Agnotico, who believes she is in possession of an artifact with special powers. When she denies owning any such item, he hires a rogue named Needle Flourentine to follow her through space and spy on her as she performs her work duties. In Tangerine’s moon city, Needle meets Ava face to face and contrives to accompany her to the surface of Tangerine.
Once there, they encounter life forms never before seen, confront danger, and discover a treasure of immense power, a device that allows travel into the past. Ava and Needle learn they are the heirs to this fantastic tool. In the course of their time together, Needle falls for Ava and quits working for her enemy. But Agnotico will not give up. He has already gone to criminal lengths to obtain the object he desires.
Agnotico’s pursuit is relentless and his greed knows no bounds. They must find a way to prevent him from gaining possession of their legacy, even if it means his death.
From the wild reaches of space and back home again, Tangerine takes the reader into a future where long-distance space travel is commonplace, aliens are a natural part of everyday life, and human fallibility and drama still carry on.

About this author-

Wodke Hawkinson is the name under which Karen Wodke and PJ Hawkinson produce their co-authored works. In addition to Tangerine, they have published four novels: Betrayed, Betrayed, Including Alternate Ending, Zeke, and Sue. They have also released several short story singles and three short story collections: Catch Her in the Rye, Blue, and Alone.


The visitors arrived on Earth with the objective of mingling the genes of their own advanced species with those of the inhabitants of the primitive planet. The visitors had identified three distinct hominid species on Earth that met their needs. Hearty samples of each group were obtained and secured in separate enclosures.
The subject in Vector E fought his captivity at first. He cried out and flailed against his restraints. His sloped forehead wrinkled in anguish, and incontinence darkened his hairy legs. The specimen was necessarily sedated at times, since the harvesting of semen confused and frightened him.
All specimens endured the same or similar treatment. All demonstrated the same panicked response. Females were tranquilized before the more intrusive or uncomfortable procedures. The researchers did not intend to be cruel and tried to inflict as little discomfort as possible. The scientists on the team all held a deep respect for their test subjects and were protective toward them.
Mingling their advanced alien genes with those of the pre-humans was a bold and controversial component of the aliens’ experimental outreach program. The scientific community was divided on the moral implications of this interference. Manipulation of any species, even for its own benefit, was not without its ethical concerns. However, the bright promise of success overcame principled reticence.
All of the alien researchers were driven by a pure passion for the scientific process, but some also had altruistic motives, especially Zovnia, daughter of Rheyu and Avyuyl, from the family Myhesthyc.
The subject in Vector E was awake when Zovnia arrived at his room. He followed her with eyes, wary but calm. She spoke to him gently, and he cocked his head, listening. She had extracted semen from this specimen the day before, and had found the process disturbingly erotic. A flush of shame warmed her as she recalled her response to this creature. Yet, shameful or not, here she was in the middle of the night, surreptitiously visiting her favorite subject, her attachment to him a mystery.
Zovnia pressed the button that would shorten his restraints, pulling him tight to the pallet, which she then lowered into a horizontal position. Removing her clothing, she opened the enclosure and stepped inside. Tenderly, she cleaned the animal with a wet cloth and was pleased when he did not struggle. His gaze wandered from her face to the shiny medallion dangling between her breasts.
As she ran the cloth over him, her senses were assailed by his strong animalistic scent, a scent she found arousing. Cupping his heavy genitals, she stimulated him while looking into his eyes, watching him for signs of understanding. Before she mounted him, she stroked his face tenderly. She wanted this to be an act of love, or as close to it as possible. She straddled him and took him with an abandon she had rarely experienced. He lay still at first, and then began to thrust upward within the confines of his captivity. She finished with a soft moan moments before his own release.
Zovnia held herself against the creature afterward, her arms draped across his wide shoulders and her head on his chest. At last, she crawled off him, left and secured the cubicle, and hurriedly dressed. His dark eyes followed her as she raised the pallet to standing and lengthened his restraints. With a surprising show of confidence, he strode to the wall of the enclosure and pressed his palm to the clear surface, imploring her without words. She placed her hand against his from outside the barrier, searching his eyes for a long moment before she turned and left the room.
 Zovnia visited the subject in Vector E as often as feasible. She affectionately called him Vee.
Time passed. The researchers tagged and released all their specimens, the harvested males and the pregnant females, back to their original locations. They erased evidence of their visit and prepared the ship to return home.
Zovnia, with head hung, refused to leave with them. They could easily guess her shame as Vee loitered within sight of the ship, not fleeing, as had the other test subjects. Rumors had flown through the ranks, as they are wont to do. Taking the few items that were hers, Zovnia left the ship for the last time. Not one of her colleagues wished her well or even said goodbye. As the great ship speared the sky, Vee and Zovnia craned their necks upward and watched it disappear into the blue.
Zovnia’s possessions lay in a pile on the ground. She stood beside her belongings with one hand lightly clutching her necklace, and the other resting on her abdomen. She was sick with apprehension, but her feelings for Vee were stronger than her fear.
She was also pregnant.

The researchers were to track the results of their work every century, but for reasons unknown, the program was stopped and Earth forgotten for a great period of time.
 As irresistible forces of nature doggedly drove the planet into the future, the original bloodlines of hominids were eventually ground out of existence, leaving behind a new species: humankind in all its various forms. Over the passing years, the alien hybrids were absorbed into Earth’s increasingly homogenized societies, their ancestry not readily apparent after a few generations.
 When descendents of the original visitors returned to the planet thousands of years hence for the purposes of ambassadorship and commerce, they agreed their ancestors would have been astonished at the remarkable outcome of the ancient experiment.
The alien interference on Earth resulted in evolutionary surges in human development and a widely diverse population. From these beginnings arose a unique line of humans, possessing certain alien characteristics including superior learning abilities, ancestral memory, and in a few cases, an exceptional legacy. One of these individuals was Ava Majestic.


The lengthening shadows warned Ava of night’s quick approach as she steered her skimmer over the lazy river. She checked the sky against her timepiece, and began looking for a

Want to read more? You can buy Tangerine at:

Friday, 27 September 2013

The Dragon's Disciples (The Age of Waking Death #1) by C.N. Faust in One Thousand Words

The Dragon's Disciples by C.N. Faust is today's fearured book on One Thousand Worlds. 


“He is my heir, but he is not my son”.

Placed by the hands of a god into the womb of Dragoloth’s royal family, Pharun has struggled all his life to prove that he is worthy to inherit the throne.

But now the throne sits empty, with more than one candidate vying for its seat. Violence erupts and corruption is unearthed as a game of gods and thrones threatens to make the greatest empire in the world crumble.

All Pharun ever wanted was to prove he was a worthy son. Now he has to prove himself a worthy king.

About this author-
C.N. Faust (better known as Cy) was born in a town of no significance in a state where everyone retires. One day a tall, handsome prince tapped him on the shoulder and at swordspoint demanded the story of the Verian people be written. Having a healthy respect for both swords and tall dark strangers, Cy started writing. They haven’t stopped bugging him since.

 He couldn’t breathe.
Shrukian collapsed to his knees, hands clasped around his throat, chest heaving as his lungs struggled desperately to capture some air. He held out his trembling hands and saw to his horror that the web of black rot was spreading quickly over his skin, leaving a trail of blisters and sores that opened and oozed clear liquid. The webs were weaving their way up his arm, like cracks spreading rapidly through stone, and he fell to his side, vomiting black blood and thicker things that came pouring out of his mouth and nose. And still he couldn’t breathe.
“To the grave I bind you,” came an unfamiliar voice behind him. Shrukian glanced over his shoulder to see behind him nothing more than a dark silhouette against the blood red sky. The silhouette was in the vague form of a man, his impressive cape billowing out behind him and fluttering like a pair of dark wings. He held, in his hand, a book, and he was holding it with one hand as he read, while the other hand flung sand in Shrukian’s face. The pungent smell of new graves and freshly turned earth filled the air. “To the grave I bind you, and to Death I dedicate your soul.” The hand that had thrown the dirt into Shrukian’s face made a sign across the man’s chest, but it was hard to see due to the dark fuzziness that was creeping in at the edges of his vision. “Vampire,” the word slithered out as if coated with oil, and was filled with ire. “Foul demon, walk this earth no more.” the book snapped shut, and Shrukian felt the wind whip angrily across his face. He opened his mouth to scream, but no words came out. The ground opened up beneath him, and he fell. Darkness came down upon him, and the walls closed in, shutting the world out and trapping him…
Shrukian sat up suddenly, sweat streaming down his brow, soaking and matting his thick, curly black hair. The aching burn in his chest told him that it was only noon, and that he should not be awake, but the dream had been so vivid, so real, he didn’t think he could bear to be asleep. He looked over to make sure he had not disturbed the other person in the bed. His sister, Olympia, who was merely two years his senior, was propping herself up on her elbow, concern etched into her lovely, still drowsy face.
“What is wrong, brother dear?” she asked him softly, rubbing her eyes and pulling the fur blankets tightly around her bare shoulders.
“Nothing,” he said, knowing his voice was breathy. “A night terror.”
She wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled her silky body against his. Her skin felt cool to the touch, almost icy, because the night terror had left his own skin flaming hot as if with a very bad fever. He threw one arm around her shoulder and drew her even closer, taking comfort in her soft ebony waves of hair that were spread out across the stark whiteness of her skin. Her lips were painted red and perfectly kissable, and he would have kissed her, perhaps, if he had been in the mood. She smiled, as if she understood, and kissed his cheek comfortingly.
“It was only a dream,” she said soothingly, stroking his face with her delicate hand.
“Only a dream,” he repeated, staring straight into her eyes. Their eyes were the exact same color, mauve.
“Come back to sleep,” she encouraged even as she pulled him back down. He obliged, because he was too tired to resist, and he fell back asleep with his head pressed against the hollow of her neck, breathing in the faint scent of jasmine that clung to her like perfume.

Chapter 1
The pink rays of dawn had just barely begun to chase the stars away from the sky when High Priest Felix heard the temple bells announcing the beginning of the day. Felix moaned and rolled onto his side, propping himself on one elbow and using his free hand to rub some of the weariness away from his eyes. Rising early before the bells had even begun their fifth toll was not something he was unused to, but the previous night had been filled with such vivid night terrors they left him twisting and writhing until his silk sheets were in a small ball at the end of the bed and his personal attendants had come rushing in, still groggy themselves, because they had heard his screams. As High Priest of the Temple of Morre, he was allowed to get as much sleep as he felt he needed. But the very memory of the night terrors brought icy fingertips dancing up and down his spine, and he shivered. No, he did not feel up to facing sleep again anytime soon.
The bells were reaching the end of their call, which meant it was time to be up and dressed. With a resigned sigh, Felix threw back what little covers he had managed to keep throughout the torturous night and got out of bed. His bare feet touched the cold marble floor, and instantly he felt relieved, as if he had finally woken up, crossed the line to the point where his dreams could not touch him. He padded his way over to the nearby washing basin where he poured cold water from a vase to splash on his face. Last night had seemed so horrible and real that he half expected to leave bloody smears on the vase’s handle.
The coolness of the water as it slid over his skin seemed to wash away the memory of the night terrors as well as the previous day’s collection of perspiration and grit. Felix splashed his face twice, and then toweled the excess away, shaking stray droplets free of his shoulder-length, sandy blonde hair.

Where to buy The Dragon's Disciples

Where you can connect with C. N. Faust

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Ancient Canada (Clinton Festa) in One Thousand Words

I am very excited to welcome Clinton Festa to One Thousand Worlds. His book, Ancient Canada has recently gone into print and here he shares his first One Thousand Words with us..

Ancient Canada-
Ancient Canada is a mythological story set in an alternate Arctic that brings us the epic of two sisters, Lavender and Marigold.  Lavender has the unusual ability to see life and death in all its forms.  It is a gift that leads to her exile alongside Marigold, but it is a gift they will need to survive in the wild.  The characters and creatures they meet along the way narrate chapters that link to form the overall story.

Marigold’s Prologue
  If I were to describe my sister in one word, it would be oversimplified. To define her solely by her gift would be equally unfair, although a common and convenient indulgence often taken by some.
To say that this is her story exclusively would also be untrue. It is many stories, each told from the perspective of a different narrator. It is with humility yet convicted certainty that I fill these pages with their words, and those of myself occasionally as necessary to the greater story. In doing so I hoped the word to be, as I am to Lavender, sibling to the deed and not its cousin. In this I also favor the folk tradition believing their lives were the only necessity, and not the experience of their state or trade, yet both will vary greatly from author to author. They may not all qualify as precisely human, and will present themselves in various embodiments. They speak with variety as a result of culture, heredity, environment, trauma, and miracle, but in their diversity each self presents like another, balancing from within the common human mind.
Yet through their words you may, as I have in collecting this document, read various conceptions and opinions which vehemently contradict your own. This may take its form in the decisions of poor boys without parents or the acerbity of a rich one’s frame of his mother and father. Some spout ignorance as dogma, and others whisper their wisdom.
The story begins with my family’s personal remembrances of my sister, prior to her exile. Polaris has proclaimed himself as the religious, military, and otherwise autonomous leader of our people, our country, and its capital of York. With her words and actions, my younger sister was perceived to have challenged him. In pronouncing her story I assume I will be as well.
Succeeding those accounts will be the story of Lavender and my journey bridging much of the known world, through both the bush and domestic, which lasted an entire season of light and into a season of darkness. These encounters will be recalled by view of those we passed throughout our wander, with their preference to share personal backgrounds, beliefs, petitions, and philosophies as they see necessary.
Throughout you will not rely solely on my partiality, but hear many perspectives of my sister. Some may be dispassionate, but unbiased voices were not deliberately sought to share in narration. Any state of opinion they hold toward my sister as a result of encounter is deserved and therefore fair, be it one of praise or criticism. They have directly formed their opinion, and through them you will likely form your own. In doing so, and objectively, you would fulfill my campaign of this document.
Here begins a channel to the past as it progresses into the tales of our journey.
The Account of Heather
 I never thought I’d give birth to a goddess. Though I suppose I should be careful calling her that.
I have two daughters, born little more than a season apart. I have no sons. My name is Heather. My elder daughter is Marigold; the younger is called Lavender. I love them both dearly, but there was always a quality about Lavender that was exceptional... even the way in which she entered the world.
I know them best as young women, neither particularly tall or large. Their faces are slender and round, with nothing distracting in skin or structure. If you glanced quickly at my daughters you would first notice Marigold’s hair: long, blonde, never once cut, down to her rump but well-managed. Marigold’s other flamboyant pursuits would likely hold your attention. Each of her garments and even the body language beneath them are voguish but sarcastic.
Lavender’s rustic nature blends into the earth, with her preferring you don’t notice her at all. Her shy posture and the dark cloth of her wardrobe ask to be ignored, hoping you also pass over her short, blackish-brown hair and the way she cuts it to keep it from her eyes. But if you notice her eyes, even Marigold’s hair becomes easy to ignore.
Having raised them slowly, watching them mature at the deliberate human pace, it’s today quite difficult to remember their infant appearances. But it isn’t hard to recall the events of Lavender’s birth, or her unmistakable trait, and the exceptional way she and this trait entered the world together.

Upon reaching a trading post in the most obscure Canadian wilderness, it surprised me not to see a look of shock in the eyes of the lone peddler. I was lost on northern Ellesmere Island, heavily pregnant, several days overdue, and escorted by five weary livestock.
“Oh, thank the heavens I’ve found you,” I began, foolishly declaring my desperation. “If not for your lantern, I might have brushed by your post without notice.”
“What goods do you require?” the peddler said.
“Herbs or paste to relieve the rash of the moosefly, some bread, maybe some fruit, fresh water, and if you have stocked, a warm coat.”
The peddler’s eyes sparkled. “That’s quite a lot. Must be a special child. Though I have everything you request.”
He was nearly forty, a half-generation my elder, and an unkept man with a disappointing appearance. He was overweight, unshaven and smelled unwashed, almost swaddled in brown garments, which I do not doubt he slept in. But he had one remarkable feature: glowing, shimmering eyes, which were green like a celestial flare. I had seen green eyes before but nothing on another living creature quite like this.
When the man declared he had everything I would require, my anxiety tapered and my etiquette came out from behind it. “I am sorry; I forget myself. I am Heather. I am a farmer’s daughter from the rural districts north of York. I have a daughter, Marigold, with a man named Simon whom I am traveling to see. Marigold is with my parents, on the farm. She is not quite one and a half seasons, close in age to her younger brother or sister. Simon is my husband, a soldier in the Canadian military. He is stationed at Fort Alert, and I would like him to see his second child. In case... before he.... ” I sighed. I paused and waited, but the man stared silently until I asked, “What is your name?”

Where you can buy Ancient Canada

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Where you can connect with Clinton Festa



Monday, 23 September 2013

The Pope's Magician (Adele Abbot) in One Thousand Words

Another week begins and I'm very excited to welcome Adele Abbot to One Thousand Worlds. Adele has written The Pope's Magician and here's her first one thousand words.

The Pope's Magician-

Rome – around 1300 AD
The Amaranthine – families of immortals scattered across the known world – live unnoticed amongst us, the Ephemerals. They are happy with the world as it is: somewhat chaotic, governed covertly by themselves or by kings and princes with only limited powers.
This world is under threat once more.
An arrogant Pope has found a man with a talent for sympathetic magic and uses his talent to prosecute a generations-long feud between two families – the Caetani and the Colonna. Max of Schonau, an Amaranthine, finds himself unwittingly drawn into this struggle when the Pope’s Magician – an Amaranthine himself, uses his capabilities on the Pope’s behalf in such an ostentatious manner that the immortals’ veiled existence is threatened and the balance of Ephemeral power put at risk.

About this author-

I’m Adele Abbot, one of the team at Archimedes Presse UK – three writers who help each other and collaborate. I guess I’m the fantasist, my previous novel: “Postponing Armageddon” was shortlisted in the 2011 “Anywhere but Here/Anywhen but Now” competition sponsored by Sir Terry Pratchett and Transworld publishers and gained third place in the final vote. It was published by Barking Rain Press in the US (you can get 35% off the paperback at – and it’s also available at and


Collina Della Vedova was not as refined or as elegant as it might sound. It wound its way down the hillside, full of vicious steps and sharp corners. In the heat of the early afternoon sun, the stink from the runnel of viscous slime down the center was overpowering.
Widow’s Hill had probably been a torrent of fresh cold water carving out its course in bygone days, before the Palatine had been somewhat leveled and built upon. Now the ancient streambed was as dry as old bones and made treacherous by the passage of a million feet.
Widows’ Hill ran a crooked path behind the church of San Marino. It climbed from the corner of the piazza to the cemetery beyond the tavern they called the Widow’s Cup.
Below the inn there was a baker and opposite the baker’s, a butcher’s and just below that, tucked into one of the many tight little corners, an old woman sold fruit – cheap because it was the last and most bruised from the market. All three of them sell their wares to the residents and businesses in the bent and twisted little street. Other small enterprises included the armorer whose stock was two and three generations old, the tailor at the bottom only three doorways away from the sharp turn into Via Piccola Santa Croce, the potter and the coppersmith and the laundry…
It jigged from side to side and I had to step across that drain at each bend to stay in the shadows. And around one of the bends, I came across the effigy. It was  rudely fashioned from a tree limb, perhaps a yard long and a span in width, it was crudely painted to depict a pair of arms down the sides, two black daubed eyes and a mouth as red as fresh blood; a groove did duty as a neck twixt head and torso. It seemed to stare malevolently.
I snorted with amusement at this parody of a child’s toy and stepped across the drain. There was a brief sound of movement behind me and I half turned for I had not been aware of anyone following me. As I turned, I was assaulted; so cruelly that I was pitched into a nearby door with a thud and clatter and I fell to the ground. A second blow was delivered, bruising, if not breaking some ribs and twisting around I managed to deflect the bludgeon that was already plunging down again.
“Hey now, what’s…”The attack ended as someone came to see what the commotion was about and hands tried to lift me to my feet. I was fast losing consciousness as I was dragged through the doorway; in my hands, I grasped that crude doll that had been used to do me harm. Then the sunlight dimmed and awareness fled.
`When I became aware once more, I was on a couch. There were small sounds – steps, a far off murmured conversation, even a muted chuckle. But I could not see. There was a bandage around my head though not across my face and rub my eyes as I might, there was not the slightest glimmer of light to be seen.
I was blind!
I am not a man given to despair, life throws a good many troubles and seemingly insoluble problems at a man but at that moment, I reached my lowest ebb. I think I would rather have died than wake to a life of blindness. I think I may have sobbed in my despair.


I must have lost consciousness again, in fact, several times I think. While I was insensible, my ribs had been strapped tightly with what seemed to be linen bandages and I remember turning laboriously and painfully onto my back and forgetting for the moment that my sight was gone.
When I remembered, I wept like a small child. I was bereft of all reason and could think of nothing but my loss.
Something touched my forehead, a hand; small, cool, slim fingers on my skin.
“What hurts, Signore?” It was a youngster’s voice. “Tell me so I can help.”
“The hurts don’t matter. I’m blind, my sight has gone.”
“I will get the infirmarian.”
Another came and I felt more hands – older, experienced – touching my head. Suddenly I felt a cool air on my forehead and eyes but my eyelids remained immovably closed. “Now, the cloth.” Said an older voice.
There was a sound of water then the touch of a warm, damp cloth. My eyes were sponged and gradually, I felt my eyelids begin to move.
“It is the middle of the night Signore,” said the young voice.
“Yes, don’t expect to see much.”
But I did see much. I stared upward and wondered if, in fact, I had died.
Directly above me was a swirl of stars and luminous clouds so wonderful that I had never seen their like before. Gradually, I realized that I was no longer blind, that I had never been blind and that what had been the matter was dried blood or scabs or something simply sticking my eyelids together. Now the night sky was brilliant with stars and shone through two tremendous windows in a roof that seemed far, far above me.
“Thank you,” I said with great feeling. “I was close to despair.”
“It is an hour yet to Lauds, do you want some water.”
“That would be good.”
“The boy will bring you a cup then you must try to sleep.”
The boy went away; I could hear bare feet on a stone floor.
I drank, said thank you and when everything was quiet again, I lay there and enjoyed the miracle of returned sight and waited for the hammering in my chest to subside. When had I last seen so wonderful a night sky as this? I could not remember. Was it… or… Nothing came to mind, nothing; there was nothing there to remember. My name, my family, my business, nothing; my past was just a yawning blank.


Saturday, 21 September 2013

Gossamer Wings and Other Stories (Scott Zachary) on Sci-Fi Saturdays

Today's post marks the beginning of what I hope will be a regular and successful new addition to One Thousand Worlds. Sci-Fi Saturdays are here and the honour of being the first featured author goes to Scott Zachary, who shares the title story from Gossamer Wings and Other Stories.

Gossamer Wings and Other Stories-
Gossamer Wings is a flash-fiction piece about a young boy and his mechanical butterflies, struggling against an oppressive regime in a dark future where genetic engineering has been taken to the most bizarre of extremes.

About this author-

Scott Zachary is the author of GOSSAMER WINGS and other dark speculative fiction of dubious literary merit. By day, he builds Internet-things for fun and profit. At night he can often be found hunched over archaic writing tools, transcribing the voices in his head. Scott and his wife live on a small plot of poorly tamed wilderness in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by their unruly children and a menagerie of small animals.

The boy runs in the shadow of giants, clutching a small wooden box to his chest. Dodging piles of half-frozen waste and jumping across open sewers, he runs, his breath leaving a trail of clouds in the frosty predawn air.
High above, safe in their mist-shrouded towers, the Designed People sleep. In the breaks between buildings, slivers of sky are beginning to lighten into a sickly sulfur haze, but here, in the forgotten streets where the city opens its bowels onto the huddled masses of the Natural Born, the morning will never come.
He runs in shadows eternal, past the machines and great engines that churn and smoke and toil endlessly to sustain life on the dead planet. He can hear the gendarmes closing in, the sharp metallic yelps of their pursuing drones echoing around him, circling, herding—growing louder, closer.
He runs.
Leaping over thick snaking coils of discarded wiring, scrambling under tree-trunk pipes that vent scalding steam, he runs. There is a sharp whistle and a support pillar explodes beside him. Razor sharp slivers of crysteel slash into his face and arms. Moments later the deep report of a rifle follows, reverberating through the streets. The drones yelp and bay.
The boy hugs the box closer to his chest, and he runs.
“Each day brings a new surprise,” the young hunchbacked woman said, “That's one of the reasons I love you.”
The boy sat at the worktable, his legs dangling off the stool. He peered into a giant magnifying lens and carefully inspected the butterfly mounted on the board in front of him. Reaching for a tool on the table, he pried off a nearly invisible panel on the insect’s abdomen, and nimbly began making minute adjustments to the robot.
“It’s remarkably lifelike,” she said, and tousled his mop of hair. The boy grinned, but kept his eyes on his work. Her engineered disfigurations—cosmetic enhancements popular with Designed People after humanity had perfected itself, and perfection became gauche—always made him uncomfortable. She flicked her tongue through her harelip and frowned at the boy, but said nothing.
He finished his adjustments and carefully put the butterfly back in the wooden box.
“Tonight’s the big night,” the woman said. “Are you nervous?”
“A little,” the boy replied.
The woman held the boy tight against her. “Don’t be afraid. You will be wonderful. Tonight will change everything. You’ll see.”
The boy sat in a corner, holding the box on his lap, while Designed People mingled and gossiped. He could see Doctor Abrams and his two-headed daughter—daughters—from across the huge, opulent room. The doctor lived high above the ancient streets, above the acid smog and sulfur stench of the industrial levels. Far below, outside the high, arching windows, the boy could see a desolate, scorched landscape unroll over the curve of the horizon.
Tonight was the sixteenth anniversary of Sthema and Hyette's inception. Sixteen years since embryo TZ942 proved sustainable viability and the doctor could sleep at night once more.
The girls were a miracle, the crowning achievement of Doctor Abrams life’s work. His charming daughters were light-years beyond mere genetic tinkering—so much more than the chic abnormalities and cosmetic imperfections in vogue with the last few generations of designer babies.
He had perfected imperfection.
He rubbed his pockmarked and palsied face with a six-fingered hand. Two heads, one baby. They had survived implantation, embryogenesis, infancy, and an uncertain childhood, and now they were the belle of the ball. A father couldn’t be prouder.
The doctor clapped his hands and addressed his guests. “My dear friends,” he said. “Colleagues and family—thank you for joining us tonight.”
He paused as the guests politely applauded.
“My friends,” he continued, “I have something special for you tonight—something I discovered in my travels to the exotic and savage world below; plucked out of the shadows of the city’s undergrowth: a wild flower growing in the darkness!”
The crowd of guests parted as the boy made his way into the center of the room. He could feel their disgust and disapproval; he could see it on their faces. His thick hair, smooth skin, symmetrical features—hideous marks of normalcy in a boy horrifically brought kicking and screaming into the world from his mother’s womb. He was an affront to science, a sideshow freak.
When he reached the doctor and his daughters the boy stopped, bowed, and held his box towards them on outstretched hands. He flicked a latch, and the lid sprang open.
Hundreds of butterflies poured out of the box, swirling around the boy in a pearlescent cloud of fluttering wings. He began a slow, turning dance, and the rabble followed his hands as he arced them overtop the guests, around them, amidst them. The people gasped and laughed at the tiny, shimmering automations. Sthema and Hyette clapped their shared hands with delight.
The boy orchestrated his tiny machines with a practiced, dramatic flair, shooting them high above the room and letting them drift back slowly like ethereal leaves, down to the mesmerized people below. The butterflies landed on the guests, in their hair, on their hands, shoulders, and faces. Dozens settled on the doctor, gently caressing him with their delicate wings.
“Well done!” the doctor cried. “You have outdone yourself, child.”
The boy’s face turned grave, and he looked the doctor in the eye. Above the din of the applauding guests, he shouted, “I bring a message, O ye sons of science.”
The doctor froze, frowned, and took a step back. The guests tittered nervously. The butterflies, forgotten for a moment, stretched their wings lazily.
“And what message is that?” the doctor asked.
Speaking slowly, the boy recited his words like an incantation. “In heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth,” he said.
The butterflies quivered.
“The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance,” continued the boy, “he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.”
The butterflies shed their gossamer wings.
And a thousand tiny drills whirred to life with a sudden, high-pitched whining. The doctor and his guests fell to the ground. They screamed and writhed in agony as the tiny robots bored through their living flesh, slowly and methodically eviscerating them from the inside out.
The boy snatched up his small wooden box, and he ran.
The boy runs. Bullets explode around him, the drones closing in. He can see their glowing eyes wavering in the darkness as he flees deeper into the living bowels of the great city; can hear their baying as it rises to a deafening pitch amidst the groaning and hissing of the great machines. He senses them on all sides now.
The first drone lands in front of him, crouching menacingly on long, spidery legs, and the boy flattens himself against a wall. Several of its sisters join it, sinister eyes piercing the darkness, snapping and yelping at the boy as he sinks back, willing himself to melt into the wall, to disappear.
The drones leap at him, but the wall falls away. Hands reach out of the inky blackness, groping, and grab fast, rescuing him from snapping jaws. The boy falls.
He falls upwards at a gut-wrenching speed as the cargo lift rockets into the heart of the edifice. A light flickers to life and the hunchbacked woman smiles at him. She cups his small face in her hands and she kisses him. He falls into her arms, burying his head deep in her embrace.
“We have so much work to do,” she says. “Your father would be so proud of you, my lovely, sweet natural born boy.”
He hugs his mother, and he weeps. It is far, so very far, from the end.
But it is a beginning.

Where to buy Gossamer Wings and Other Stories:

Connect with Scott Zachary Here: