Barnaby Taylor, Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction Novel

Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as it’s starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

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Terminal Transit,

‘Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak’’

Verse 1

Professor Amhalgaidh Mac an Bhaird is elderly now, almost ancient. He is an Honorary Fellow and Professor Emeritus of Trinity College and has lived in rooms overlooking Front Square for the last forty-seven years.

Professor Mac an Bhaird has devoted his adult life to the study of what he likes to call the ‘small things that we forget to remember very quickly.’ The Professor’s work is part-chrestomathy, part-analect, and wholly singular in its peculiar ambition. When he wasn’t teaching Professor Mac an Bhaird would spend all his spare time poring over maps and manuscripts and pamphlets and postcards and timetables and booklets and brochures and tickets and notices and newsletters and invitation slips and certificates and all the other truly wonderful ephemera that accumulates when the world isn’t really paying attention.

His wife Sibeal, herself a leading authority on Teutonic textile design during the feudal period, used to joke that the most overlooked thing in all his dealings with the world was undoubtedly her.

‘I fear that one day the only way that you will know that I am still here is when you see my name included on some long-lost list you discover scribbled on a dusty envelope. Only then will you remember to look up and there I’ll be, waiting forlornly in the corner for my turn.’

She slipped her arms around his waist.

‘I love you, Mac.’

‘That will never be the case, my dear,’ said the very-certain scholar as he kissed his wife on the neck.

‘We are simply not fated to end up as forgotten entries in another person’s ledger.’

He pulled her closer.

‘We will fade beautifully towards death together like the most pulchritudinous love letters scribbled on the comeliest of Victorian Christmas cards.’

But Sibeal was taken whilst in labour at 11.03am on September the Sixteenth 1973 and it was at exactly 11.04am that Professor Mac an Bhaird retreated into the deadly safety of scholarly solitude.

That was all those years ago. Now, following a lifetime of lectures and lonely meals in Commons, he sits in his armchair all day indexing his life’s work, Mac an Bhaird’s Miscellanea: Towards the Proposing of a Taxonomy of the Not-Noticed, Oft-Forgotten and Un-Remembered.

Currently standing at over three hundred and thirty-three thousand words Mac an Bhaird’s Miscellanea is a testament to the determination of one man to catalogue, chart, outline, and unravel the seemingly innocuous connections between matters of apparently such little importance as to there being little or no connection between them in the first place. But before we consider a lifetime’s work to be simply pointless and therefore without value we mustn’t forget that generations of academic discourse have depended entirely on exactly the kind of specific pedantry demonstrated here by an elderly Professor. If nothing else this in itself would be a suitably fitting summary of one man’s contribution to the body of knowledge but Mac an Bhaird’s Miscellanea goes much further here because it also exists as a wondrously moving monument to the prodigious properties of paper.

Three hundred and thirty-three thousand words have dutifully wended their way across nearly five hundred and ninety pages and after decades of hermetic handling each page now bears the delicious hallmark of any handwritten document that has aged naturally over time. Many pages are beautifully curled at the corners, as their repeated turning over time now causes them when stacked to fold like the pulpy petals of some ancient, thought-veined bloom. Other pages are torn in places; the longer tears carefully repaired with stamp hinges, now brittle after years of determined gripping. Shorter tears have been left alone for now, borne in mind, or occasionally, overlooked entirely.

All the pages that comprise Mac an Bhaird’s Miscellanea bear the accumulated marks of a lifetime of close attention; stained in some places by the sweat of a thumb; yellowed and coffee-ringed; the sweeping smudge of the back of a hand; ink whirls; curlicues; crossings-out; pencil; ball-point; fountain; wondrous water marks and the arcane collection of proofreading marks unknown to so much of the modern world today – ][, eq #, wc/ww, lc, sp, ||, s/v, first ref., half title, ligature, and stet.

One can read the history of the man in the history of his handwriting and so the bold decisive strokes of a confident young academic gave way to the angry slashes of someone widowed far too soon which then gave way over time to the precise and rigid emphasising of a man obsessed which then give way to the eventually slowed and resigned notation of a dying gentleman battling to complete his life’s work before he passed away.

Yet across the entire length of this turbulent history, one thing had remained a steady constant, Professor Mac an Bhaird’s handwriting was terribly tiny.

The Eleventh Film – Horror/Science Fiction Flash Fiction Series

The Eleventh Film XVII

This was the world’s last great expedition. The territory was not uncharted. All was familiar. But it was just no longer feasible.
She reached the Library and spent her days and nights exploring texts, poring over cuneiform – desperately trying to decipher long-lost languages without so much as a phrase book.
She probed and pondered. For a while she was certain of making progress. A letter here. A symbol there. Sometime a sentence promised to offer up a partial truth. Other times that same sentence became devoid of anything.
The process became so arduous that one by one the lexicographer’s party fell prey to unknown ailments.
One person fell asleep awake forever. Another was unable to locate themselves within the cosmos. A third became prone to the kind of doubt that manifested itself as a wasting disease. Someone else became detached from their shadow.
Two men found themselves merging with their past and future selves simultaneously and thereby cancelling themselves out.
One poor soul merged with their surroundings and actually became part of the furniture.
The impossibility of the mission turned another crew-member inside out. They were found pooled beneath a bookshelf.
And then only she was left.

The Eleventh Film – Horror/Science Fiction Flash Fiction Series

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The Eleventh Film XVI

It was a four month voyage and nothing was seen on the way.

The world was as it had always been.

Only it was empty now.

Devoid.

Great swathes of white pinned to the planet’s surface by the heaviest silence the world had ever known.

She passed the time by finding words for the views that she saw.

Gelid.

Hiemal.

Spoliate.

Each entry in her notebook brought her closer to the source.

Unbearing.

Boreal.

Forever.

Unlimited.

She knew that final word from before.

The Eleventh Film – Horror/Science Fiction Flash Fiction Series

 

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The Eleventh Film XV

In previous times of doubt and despair the world has always sought solace in the written word, hoping to discern a truth among the millions of symbols and ciphers and syllables.

And so slumberous stories emerged through dreams about a library long-lost to the world. A place where the answers to the world’s final question might still be found.

She was the world’s last lexicographist and so she was chosen to lead the expedition.

The hunt for the site began. There was nothing to lose and there was the possibility, however small, that there still might be a way out of all this.

As the years passed the world lost hope that the library would ever be found. The lexicographer entered her eightieth decade.

A broken office block standing sullen on the edge of a vast ice field coughed-up an old map of the inlands and the library’s resting place was eventually uncovered.

Opening Lines No. 1 – Cursor (Barnaby Taylor, 2018)

Dragon_medieval

Cursor (Barnaby Taylor, 2018)

In this age of fear, famine and fundamentalism who could ever have known that the world would end because too many people were not careful enough when typing into search engines.

Terminal Transit, Book I, ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’ Verse 5

Terminal Transit, Book I, ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’ Verse 5

 

‘Your father told me that he had uncovered something so terrible that it meant the end of all existence as we know and understand it,’ said Mac as he rummaged among the folders on the top shelf. Mac pulled an envelope from the folder, opened it and pulled out a single sheet of paper.

‘Here it is,’ he said to himself.

Mac slipped his glasses on and started reading.

‘The NotBeSpeak will not be spoken of. They are the space between the words. Not the words themselves. The pause before the sentence. The sigh that follows. The NotBeSpeak are ancient. Timeless. Dangerous. Alien. The NotBeSpeak are shapeless. Always shifting. Drifting outside of definition. Beyond boundaries. The NotBeSpeak are not evil. This is not a word for them. No words really are. The NotBeSpeak need shape now. They need form to form their dismal plan. The NotBeSpeak seek a host. Like a vacuum needs a vessel to empty. Blood needs a wound to drain. Darkness needs a light to extinguish.’

Mac stopped reading. Inteachán shivered as she thought about her father writing this crazy-sounding stuff. What was he talking about?

‘But what does it all mean?’ she asked Mac. ‘I really don’t understand.’

Mac smiled and put the piece of paper back into the envelope. He then put the envelope back in the folder and the folder back on the shelf. He walked stiffly back to his armchair and slowly sat down. He looked at Inteachán.

‘Here’s what I think I know,’ he said hesitantly. ‘Or what I think I think, if you see what I mean.’

Inteachán waited quietly for Mac to carry on. He duly did.

‘Every infection needs a host and the NotBeSpeak need the biggest host of all, the world.’

Inteachán looked confused.

‘Blood, and wounds and infections,’ she said. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘I have absolutely no real idea,’ said Mac truthfully, ‘not even the slightest notion but I do not doubt the cataclysmic severity of your father’s discovery. If it is true that the NotBeSpeak do exist it would then follow logically that they are looking for a form that will allow them to engage with the world.’

Mac smiled sadly.

‘If we knew anything about this likely form then we might have some idea of how they could be stopped.’

Mac paused and Inteachán shivered again.

‘But, I have no idea what form this likely form will take.’

Mac coughed. The shadows cast from the fire leapt around the room. A spurt of gas curled from a coal and hissed its dying pyrolysic breath for a tiny moment before vanishing forever. Mac readjusted the blanket on his knees. Inteachán was still very upset and began to cry loudly. With no thought to comforting the child, Mac continued.

‘Every civilisation has its own names for spirits and faeries and demons and balrogs and wights. In this country we have always tended to use the word ‘Fomhóire.’’

Mac smiled.

‘We have always known them this way but, and thanks to your father, I now know them as another – the NotBeSpeak.’

‘But what are they?’ asked Inteachán. ‘I still don’t get it.’

She really didn’t understand anything that was going on. All she knew was that her father had killed her mother and tried to kill her because ‘They’ told him to. That didn’t make any sense.

‘How could you ever understand?’ said Mac kindly.

He cleared his throat, picked up a section of his Miscellanea which lay nearby and started reading.

‘Fomhóire means ‘from the sea’ and is the name given to the divine powers, or gods of night, death and cold. The Fomhóire were misshapen and were believed to have the heads of goats and bulls. They also were believed to have only one leg and one arm each, and these grew out of the middle of their chests. The Fomhóire were the ancestors of the evil faeries and, according to legend, of all misshapen persons. The giants and leprechauns are also said to belong to the Fomhóire.’

Mac looked up.

‘This is the standard history, so to speak, the approved version that we peddle to tourists and schoolchildren when we speak so fondly of our quaint customs and traditions and superstitions.’

Mac paused somewhat dramatically, as if he was back in the lecture hall after all these long years.

‘But what if these tales and creatures and histories and versions stemmed from a different source, one far more foreign and outside and clearly much less quaint and more deadly?’

Mac looked at Inteachán and the flames from the fire caused his eyes to shine momentarily.

‘One not attributable to the life and legend of this planet in anyway whatsoever?’

Later that evening, and with Inteachán thankfully finally asleep, Mac sat in his chair and watched the fire die down to almost nothing. He remained deep in thought for what seemed like the longest time and then he looked out into the night that now gripped the world and began to speak.

‘Listen’, he said fearfully. ‘I need to speak to all of you out there about a matter of great urgency.’

He looked out into the expectant darkness.

‘I am a dying man and I need to tell you some really important things straightaway. Otherwise the events you are about to witness will make very little sense.’

He paused.

‘If I tell you all everything now then I won’t have to go through everything ever again. I just don’t have enough time to keep repeating myself.’

Mac started to look worried.

‘Inteachán’s father stumbled upon a plan to destroy the entire country and, indeed, the world. I have absolutely no idea how he came about this knowledge, as he was certainly very secretive towards the end, perhaps afraid that my knowing would place me in danger as well.’

Mac exhaled ruefully.

‘From what little information I was able to glean from him, this terrible plot has always been in existence – hence my thoughts on the Fomhóire – but the very recent and extremely well-documented man-made disasters endured by Ireland’s economy have created certain metaphysical and, indeed, metaphorical conditions by which the architects of this terrible plot have been able to revive their dreadful ambitions. Or had their ambitions revived for them? As you can hear, I am still not totally clear.’

Mac looked out into the darkness.

‘I fear that I may not ever know everything but I do know enough to know that it is now time for you all to find out about the NotBeSpeak.’

He picked up the folder.

‘Here is the final ‘research’ paper written by Inteachán’s father. I didn’t want to alarm her earlier but it doesn’t make pretty reading.’

Mac grimaced.

‘Clearly, the poor man’s discovery caused him to lose his mind.’

He winced.

‘See for yourself.’

Terminal Transit, Chapter II ‘A New Signal,’ Verse 1 [Work in Progress]

Dragon_medieval

Terminal Transit, Chapter II ‘A New Signal,’ Verse 1 [Work in Progress]

Priory Hall.

Two words that stand as a simple testament to an ignorant nation’s stupid, craven greed – that special kind of breathtakingly galling greed reserved for the self-appointed nobility of this ridiculous island; the bankers and builders and business leaders and breakers and burglars and broadsiders and backsliders and bastards and bollox and buffoons and landlords and layabouts and kiters and cutpurses and swindlers and sweat drippers and debt collectors and drubbers and tally men and tossers and sewage hounds and arse lickers and no-gooders and politicians and pie-dippers and chancers and swindlers and shitflickers and not ever once forgetting the plain and simple good old boys from back in the day.

Now, as befits maps and mythologies everywhere, this particular broken beacon of a building forespeaks, speaks for, speaks of, denotes, indicates, screams, ‘this is a broken country.’ At night the wind laps this particular folly like a poisoned tongue on a mouth of broken teeth. Follies used to be architectural indulgences, used for the flashing of wealth and the winning of bets.

Now, the same indulgences related to the winning of a different bet, one that has nothing to do with anything other than avarice. The same bets that forced a government to add a levy to all insurance policies. The same bets that allowed the country to never learn from its mistakes but just kept making them again and again and foolishly again.

But not anymore, the country has run out excuses and these mistakes will be among the last that the country and, indeed, the world will witness. For these same bets have now been collected by a brand-new bailiff.

Priory Hall stood empty now, a monument, a gravestone, a mausoleum, and a warning to the people who passed it by, not that they knew it yet, that this particular gravestone now stood as a marker as well to what was about to commence, indicating in no uncertain terms that the end was truly beginning.

In one of the many badly designed flats on the fourth floor of the building a black, shiny, unknown stone of clearly alien origin sat glowering on the bathroom floor next to a leaking toilet bowl. The flats of Priory Hall had been closed down due to fire safety issues but clearly the inspectors responsible for closing the building had not factored in alien cosmogeology as another reason for declaring the properties unfit for human occupation. A trail of liquid waste flowed out from the cracked toilet pan. All this piss and shit and spittle and drip and bodily issuance wet the shiny stone which, in turn, due to its peculiar porosity, added its own cosmic foulness to the now freely flowing stream of sewage.

Now on the move, the porous flooring and cheap bricks were no match for this unholy water and in very little time the main waste outlet system was breached and as the flow got greater so did the pressure on the already broken system and in very little time the sewage began to puddle and pool on the grass above the pipes.

Inspired, suffused, attuned, the natural world met a new stimulus with the black stone’s outflow and as the sewage seeped into the earth around it so the hated hectares of Priory Hall became the site for a total recalibration of an old burden, Fallopia japonica, more likely known as Japanese Knotweed. As this new flow continued and found other new water systems to infect so the roots and shoots and rhizomes, the small delicate flowers with petals like crystals, the broad oval leaves, and the red stems began to assemble aggressively all over the city with a vigour never experienced before.

Japanese Knotweed has always been one of the most voracious herbaceous perennials known to gardeners, posing a chronic danger to foundations and flood defenses, forming dense and deadly colonies that choke the life out of their riparian rivals for light and space. This new alien stimulus imbued the weed with a renewed compulsion, an urge to begin further accelerating, out-stretching, entwining, redoubling its unsighted efforts to bury this pathetic island beneath a vast sea of its ruby racemes.

Across the history of the planet, cities normally surrender themselves to the natural world long after their final desertion. For example, waves of sand will eventually level even the tallest towers. Other architectural edifices inevitably fall inwards towards their own cancerous centre of gravity, as if opening their own navels and ingesting themselves. All civic buildings of import and significance eventually lose these same values and become the halls of apes and other primates whose behaviour on the whole speaks of a more measured approach to city life than those of the previous occupants. Fountains fall silent, choked, strangled, barren, and unable to sing anymore.

Slowly, troublingly, desperately, inexorably, inspired by the black stone’s issuant, the weeds of Priory Hall began to exert their new cosmic choke on the now barely breathing city.