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

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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.

Terminal Transit, Verse 1 – Work in Progress

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Hi Everyone

Here’s the opening chapter of Terminal Transit, a novel I have been working on for a while. Terminal Transit tells the story of an ancient race of evil gods called the NotBeSpeak who are hell-bent on destroying the world. Their evil purpose is discovered by an elderly academic called Professor Amhalgaidh Mac an Bhaird who charges a young child called Inteachán to help him try and save the planet from total and utter destruction.

Terminal Transit is set in Dublin, Ireland and the story is interwoven with Irish myth, history and religion resulting in a novel that is a compelling blend of HP Lovecraft and Tomb Raider.

I’m posting the first few chapters over the coming days with a view to generating some interest in the project. I would be particularly interested in hearing from anyone who might be interested in helping me bring Terminal Transit to publication.

 

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 Professor Dunne Mysteries, Book One – The Case of the Flying Archaeologist (WIP)

THE PROFESSOR DUNNE MYSTERIES

Chapter 1

September the Eighth is the feast-day of Our Lady in Dublin and Professor Patricia Dunne never missed the chance to attend the ceremony that was held in the Whitefriars Street Carmelite Church.

In case you’re wondering, the simplest way to get there is to come out of the Front Gate of Trinity College and walk straight ahead. Keep going until you reach the bottom of South Great George’s Street. Here you should turn left and walk up the hill. Carry on past the expensive restaurants of Fade Street and keep going until you reach the bottom of Aungier Street. All you need to do is cross over the road and you’ll find the Carmelite Church up ahead of you on the right-hand side.

The sun was shining and Professor Dunne was pleased that she hadn’t worn her heavy raincoat. The weather in Dublin was always so difficult to predict. You could leave your house when it was raining and find that five minutes later the sun was making you regret you had worn too many layers.

Professor Dunne lived in rooms overlooking Front square in Trinity College and the walk to the church normally took her fifteen minutes, even allowing for the throngs of tourists who flocked to Dublin all year round. Today, however, the crowds seemed bigger than normal and the pavements were full of visitors, some looking lost and consulting maps, others looking more confident that they knew where they were going. A friendly-looking elderly gentleman and his wife stopped just in front of her. Both were wearing walking shoes and matching rain jackets. The gentleman had a backpack.

‘Excuse me, ma’am,’ said the gentleman. ‘Do you come from round here?’

The gentleman’s accent said Texas. His face said content with his lot. Professor Dunne stopped and smiled.

‘Dublin born and bred,’ she said. ‘Where are you trying to get to?’

Professor Dunne’s accent was that lovely blend of gentle lilt with a slight inflection that would tell anyone who knew the city that she had been born and raised on the South Side.

The city is divided spiritually and geographically by the River Liffey that makes its magnificent way through the heart of Dublin. Those born south of the river are Southsiders, those born North come from the Northside.

If you ever find yourself wandering about and can’t decide whether you are on the South or the North, then all you need to do is look at a street sign. Postcodes south of the Liffey are even numbers, postcodes on the Northside are odd.

You will also see this on the more traditional forms of postal addresses where street names are followed by Dublin 2, Dublin 12, or Dublin 7, depending upon where the recipient resides.

‘We’re looking for the Carmelite Church, somewhere on Whitefriars Street.’

‘Why yes of course,’ Professor Dunne replied. ‘I’m headed that way myself. Why not come with me?’

‘Really,’ said the elderly man, sounding very relieved. ‘That would be great.’

‘Right so,’ said Professor Dunne. ‘We’re headed down Dame Street until we bear left and walk up the hill.’

It turned out that the elderly gentleman was retired Lieutenant Charles P. Mallory and he was on honeymoon with his new wife, Sandra.

‘We’ve only been married three weeks,’ beamed Sandra. ‘Chuck and I were childhood sweethearts who went our separate ways after High School. Four marriages and sixteen great-grandchildren later we realised we still felt the same about each other as we did when we were sixteen and so here we are.’

‘Here we are, indeed,’ said Chuck. ‘I always knew that she was the one but you know …’

Chuck sighed. Sandra squeezed his arm.

‘You great, big soppy thing, you,’ she said.

Professor Dunne smiled.

‘It’s nice to see you both so happy.’

‘What about you?’ asked Sandra. ‘Is there a someone for you?’

‘Sadly not,’ said the Professor. ‘It never happened, I’m afraid, and never will now.’

Chuck wasn’t so sure.

‘You never know,’ he said. ‘You never know.’

Oh, I think I do, Professor Dunne said to herself.

After the service, Professor Dunne gave Chuck and Sandra a brief history of the Whitefriars Black Madonna over afternoon coffee and Victoria sponge in the tearoom attached to the church.

‘I owe most of everything I know about the church and the Madonna to Dr. Daphne Desiree Charlotte Pochin Mould,’ Professor Dunne confessed.

‘What a wonderful name,’ said Chuck.

‘Yes, isn’t it?’

‘Dr. Mould was a renowned photographer, broadcaster, geologist, traveller, pilot, with a strong interest in archaeology,’ Professor Dunne continued. ‘She was also this country’s first ever female flight instructor.’

‘She sounds like a remarkable woman,’ said Sandra.

‘She was,’ said the Professor. ‘She received her doctorate from the University of Edinburgh and moved to Ireland following her conversion to Catholicism. Once here, she developed a keen interest in Celtic saints, amongst many other things.’

Professor Dunne stirred her coffee clockwise. The other way just wouldn’t do.

‘In 1964 she published her short guide to the Whitefriars Street church. According to the guide, the foundation stone for the present church was laid in 1825 and the building was finished in 1827. This is important because Catholic Emancipation didn’t take place until 1829 and though the church has undergone significant change since, fundamentally, the building still speaks to an age when new tolerances towards the worshippers were just emerging.’

‘What about the statue itself?’ asked Chuck. What does Dr. Mould have to say about that?’

“Surprisingly, Dr. Mould makes no mention herself of the statue. Other commentators have suggested that the wooden statue dates back to the Middle Ages and was once used as a trough.’

‘A trough?’ asked Sandra. ‘How bizarre.’

‘Apparently, the statue originally had a hollowed-out back which meant it could be used as a means of feeding swine.’

Professor Dunne smiled.

‘Don’t worry,’ she said,’ the incongruity of it all is never lost on me.’

Chuck and Sandra smiled too. It seemed sometimes that the reason for Professor Dunne’s solitary existence could be explained by something as simple as an innocent aside.

‘Where did Dr. Mould live?’ asked Sandra, kindly changing the subject.

‘A small village in County Cork called Aherla,’ replied the Professor, not noticing that Sandra had tried to spare her blushes.

‘Cork?’ said Chuck. ‘That’s where we’re heading next on our honeymoon.’

He looked at his wife.

‘What a coincidence.’

Professor Dunne smiled.

‘The coincidences just keep coming,’ she said. ‘I’m headed down to Aherla for the annual Daphne Mould Festival taking place in four days time. The villagers have been keeping the Doctor’s name alive ever since she passed away on April 29th 2014.’

Chuck looked at his wife. She smiled and nodded.

‘We’re driving down tomorrow morning. It would be an awful honour if you accompanied us.’

‘I would be thrilled,’ said the Professor.

 

 

Chapter 2

With the traffic restrictions in place in and around Trinity College, Professor Dunne agreed to meet Chuck and Sandra at the Hertz Car Hire centre on South Circular Road. This was a simple journey for the Professor and she had done it hundreds of times. With a small suitcase on wheels, the Professor waited at the bus stop on Dame Street opposite the Four Angels Fountain.

Known locally as ‘The Peeing Angels,’ the fountain is part of the memorial created for the highly influential nationalist thinker Thomas Davis by renowned Irish sculptor Edward Delaney. The four angels are blowing their horns to awaken the four provinces of Ireland to the possibilities of self-rule.

September in Dublin can be fairly brisk and Professor Dunne shivered slightly as she waited for the No. 122. Though it was unbuttoned, the Professor had chosen to wear her woollen coat. The weather down south could be awfully changeable and no-one, not least the Professor, wants to be caught in Winter weather wearing only a Summer coat.

She could have caught the No. 68 but that would have meant walking to a different stop. As she waited, the Professor marvelled at the life and energy of her city. With the recently-completed extension to the LUAS line, trams, buses, taxis and people, hundreds of people, swarmed around College Green, the part of the city in front of Trinity College and Parliament House, once the seat of Irish democracy, now the building is a branch of the Bank of Ireland.

If you took away the cars, you could easily imagine what this part of the city looked like in the early 1900s. Existing documentary footage from the period shows trams and people going about their business in much the same way as today. If it wasn’t for the phones everywhere, Professor Dunne mused, you could imagine the past and the present nicely combining to create a most charming tableau of the city.

Professor Dunne didn’t own a mobile phone. She despised the very thought of it.

‘Just imagine,’ she said to her sisters Sibéal and Iseult during the most recent of their weekly lunches, ‘how much more productive the world would be if it was able to pull its foolish face away from these infernal tiny screens.’

‘I don’t know,’ Iseult always said, herself schooled in the art of mobile technology by her triplet granddaughters Aoibheann (pronounced ‘eve + een’), Dechtire (‘deck + tir + ra’), and Rionach (‘ree + in + ock’). ‘It strikes me that one actually saves time by having a mobile phone.’

‘Saves time?’ asked the Professor. ‘How so, my dear?’

‘I have recently discovered that their inherent portability is somewhat liberating.’

‘Liberating? If one of these infernal things is a symbol of contemporary freedom then it is my sworn duty to make a stand for a different kind of liberation, one that is firmly founded upon the primacy of the printed page and not the tyranny of the circuit board.’

‘Come now, Patricia,’ Iseult said. ‘Smartphones have their purpose. If nothing else, we would both be able to telephone you in advance if neither of us were available to meet you for lunch.’

Professor Dunne laughed.

‘And what would be smart about that?’ she said. ‘You’re always available to meet for lunch. We all live within a thirty-minute walk of each other. Even if you weren’t free you could always leave a note with one of the porters at Front Gate. They all know me very well.’

‘I bet they do,’ teased Iseult.

‘We could, of course,’ smiled Sibéal. ‘Or we could leave a message on your phone.’

‘Now, you’re just being smart,’ said Iseult. ‘You know Patricia would never listen to her messages, even if she had a phone.’

‘Of course, I wouldn’t,’ said the Professor. ‘I would refuse to listen to any messages left for me simply in order to rob the infernal machine of one of its most important functions, thereby rendering it at worst, incomplete, and at best, not fit for purpose.’

‘You would as well, my dear,’ smiled Iseult. ‘It would almost be worth buying you a phone just to watch you attempt to undermine its very existence.’

The No. 122 bus arrived and the Professor sat at on the left-hand side. Her preference was for one of the raised seats on the newer buses before you got right to the back. Only once in forty-seven years of using Dublin buses had she ever sat on the top deck and that was only so she could avoid a particularly truculent student and the experience was so excruciating for her -–something to do with an over-exuberant body odour and a horse that broke free from its trap whilst going down Talbot Street – that Professor Dunne swore never again would she sit upstairs on a corporation bus. Now, all these years later, Professor Dunne would rather wait for the next bus than climb up the stairs.

The bus moved slowly along Dame Street and as she sat and looked out the window the Professor was struck by the recurring thought that it was never the cars that made the city streets so treacherous but the pedestrians. Though she chose not to take part herself, it appeared to her that it was jaywalking and not Hurling that was the national sport of Ireland.

Having never learned to drive, the Professor could only rely on other people’s testimony in relation to this matter. However, she had wholeheartedly agreed with a taxi driver who once told her that having spent decades of enduring colonial rule by the British being told what to do, crossing the roads when and when one felt like it was a decidedly beautiful if somewhat dangerous act of rebellion.

 

 

Chapter 3

The bus stopped right by the National Boxing Stadium and Professor Dunne alighted. Hertz is just past the stadium and so it wasn’t long before the Professor found Mr. and Mrs. Mallory sitting in the reception area looking extremely eager to get started.

‘Good morning,’ said the Professor cheerily. ‘How are you both this morning?’

‘Professor Dunne,’ said Sandra and smiled. ‘We were just talking about you.’

‘Really?’ said the Professor.

If anything was going to get the Professor’s goat – as they say – it was the thought of being talked about. For many people, this is one thing that they crave. For Professor Dunne, quite the opposite.

‘My affairs are my affairs,’ she would say when Sibéal and Iseult teased her about her notorious insistence on privacy.

‘But you’re a published author who has spent her entire working life standing up talking in front of strangers,’ Iseult said.

‘Precisely, my dear,’ the Professor replied. ‘My teaching career has been a fine balance between loving what I do and wishing I didn’t know how to do it.’

‘But you wouldn’t have been any happier if you were doing something else, would you?’ said Sibeal. ‘It’s very hard to find a career that doesn’t involved working with other people.’

‘Unless you became an assassin or a nun,’ laughed Iseult.

Professor Dunne frowned.

‘I’ve read far too much about the affairs of nuns in my years of study to know that a life like that would simply be far too chaotic for me.’

The Professor smiled.

‘An assassin, on the other hand, is a completely different story. I wonder how many years you have to study for to be one of those.’

‘I expect its more than study, dear,’ said Iseult.

The Professor looked horrified for a split second.

‘There is nothing more than study,’ she said emphatically. ‘You, all of people, should know that.’

‘On account of my three weeks at secretarial college followed by thirty-five years of being a full-time mother?’ Iseult said.

‘Precisely,’ said the Professor. It felt fun to be the teaser and not the teased.

‘Perhaps I’m the one in need of some highly-advanced assassination skills?’ laughed Iseult.

‘Ladies,’ said Sibeal. ‘Pack it in, the two of you.’

‘Yes, Mam,’ the ladies said and laughed as they spoke simultaneously.

‘What Sandra means,’ smiled Chuck, ‘is that we were wondering whether you would be able to recommend a scenic route for us to follow. We have plenty of time and would love you to give us a guided tour of your homeland.’

‘Within reason, of course,’ said Sandra. ‘You’re not a hired hand.’

Professor Dunne was pleased at the prospect.

‘I’d be delighted,’ she said. ‘I’m sure we can find some interesting places for you to see as we follow the road.’

‘Which road?’ asked Sandra.

‘It’s a figure of speech,’ replied the Professor. ‘The kind of non-specific phrase referring to getting to a place that has allowed centuries of Irish people to find exactly where they are going without any problems but has left generations of tourists and visitors completely lost.’

‘That sounds like some kind of road,’ laughed Chuck. ‘Still, I guess with a guide like you we should be fine.’

‘Let’s hope so,’ laughed the Professor. ‘Otherwise our gentle road trip might turn into an odyssey of classical proportions.’

 

Chapter 4

Chuck chose a silver Audi A6 with automatic transmission as he said he liked the way that the Germans went about their business.

‘I’m talking now, of course,’ he felt the need to qualify.

The Professor smiled.

‘No need to qualify anything, Lieutenant Mallory,’ she said. ‘We’re all able to go about our daily business without the fear of our preferences for goods and services somehow betraying an alleged affection for totalitarianism.’

‘If you say so, Professor,’ smiled Chuck. ‘You can never be too careful in my book.’

With everything stowed in the boot and Sandra sitting in the back, Chuck pulled out onto the South Circular Road. Being after the morning rush hour the traffic was moving again and so once he was used to small variations like right-hand drive and left-hand driving, Chuck, Sandra and the Professor started out of Dublin.

‘Aherla is approximately 282 kilometres from here,’ said the Professor, ‘and our best bet is to get there via the M7 leading onto the M8.’

You need to follow the N7 road to get out of Dublin and as you do so you make your way through the most lyrical-sounding places; Inchicore, Bluebell, Ballymount, Newlands, Kingswood, Citywest, Rathcoole Broadfield Manor, Farmvale, Castlewarden, Kill, and Johnstown.

It was a lovely clear day and once he was used to cars filtering on to the road from his left, Chuck made good time. Sandra dozed in the back of the car. Professor Dunne didn’t. She sat up straight in the front seat.

‘I take it you’re not a fan of driving,’ he said.

The Professor nodded her head.

‘Having lived my entire adult life in the city I have never needed to do anything other than walk to where I want to get to. This is why I have never learned to drive.’

‘I see,’ said Chuck. ‘Dublin seems such a small city anyway that. I guess walking everywhere is a pleasure and not a chore.’

‘It most certainly is,’ she replied. ‘For longer distances there is always the bus or the train’

Chuck laughed.

‘My whole life has been about big distances,’ he said. ‘The state, the country, serving overseas, moving around the world. I have sometimes wondered what it would be like to live a life of short distances.’

‘I do love big places and things far away,’ said the Professor, ‘only my big distance is a historical one. Being a historian is rather like being a time traveller and every book I have ever opened acts like a portal to transport me back to wherever my desire takes me. It may be a short distance between my eye and my hand but it doesn’t mean that the journey is a short one.’

Copyright © Barnaby Taylor 2018

The Started Series – Book Two – THE DARK AND DANGEROUS DISCO NIGHT (Free Ebook Download)

House Themed Non-Fiction Kindle Cover

The Dark and Dangerous Disco Night

A disc jockey, a painter, and a pop star set off to spend Christmas with a Prime Minister and a Prince.

The Started Series
Welcome to the Started Series. This is a series of novels that I have started but have never developed. I am going to give them away FREE of charge and let the Universe decide. If there is enough interest in one of them I will start it again.
The Dark and Dangerous Disco Night is Book Two in this series.

You can download the book FREE from Smashwords. CLICK on the word FREE.

the entry word ebook cover

The Entry Word

Following a texting accident, the World summons Jodocus Meaddowcraft, a constipated alien from another dimension. Jodocus sets about punishing the World for summoning him.

You can download The Entry Word (Book One in the Started Series). This book is FREE from Smashwords. Just CLICK on the word FREE.

VIRO BOOK ONE REVIEW COVER9781999633202 (1)

VIRO

Book One has just been released and is available in paperback and ebook.

Jake is twelve years old. He has always been different to other kids. Jake wakes one morning to find that the world has been destroyed by a mysterious airborne virus. Battling with his own insecurities, Jake must rise to the dangerous challenges that confront him as he sets off to find his missing mother.

Five Star Amazon Reviews

I was recommended this book by a friend, and was a little apprehensive at first as it would not be my first choice of genre.
To my own surprise I loved this book, and was such a page turner I finished it in 2 sittings. This book reads like an Odyssey, 4 kids struggling against constant challenges, in a previous life and now this. These challenges they face bring them closer together and for Jake, the main character, a closeness he has never experienced before. In his normal life his best friends were his mum and his dog, because he was “different”. Now, circumstances means he has to try keep up with his new friends, and all he wants to do is help his new friends and be liked. It’s lovely to see the bond that forms between the 4 kids, each with struggles of their own, who may not have looked twice at each if life was normal.
I loved Jake’s character and the simple way he narrates throughout the book, and we get a fascinating insight to his way of thinking, which I think we can all relate to in some form. A kid full of love and lots to give.
I loved this book, and finished it in 2 sittings, a real page turner. A range of interesting characters, young independent kids, not by choice but by design.

I absolutely loved this book. Powerful and poignant, ‘Viro’ packs a punch. Sad and haunting, ‘Viro’ is a new take on the zombie genre.The characters are dynamic and interesting, finding strength despite their horrifying circumstances. Jake is a character that will stick with you long after the final page. The action sequences are thrilling. I was on the edge of my seat! I can’t wait to read Book Two!!

Direct with a style thats postures the unusual. Page headings reflect the contents – succinct and minimal. Yesterday was fine but today something has changed – Jake, perhaps an idio savant, was always strange but this different day brought a horror to his world. He and his acquaintances – Ellis, the tomboy Peter Pan figure who recognises Jakes special need and appears to support him . . . . . . a sad dystopian world that very much reflects now.

VIRO is available to buy from Amazon, Smashwords and all good bookshops.

Digital Paralysis? I’m not complaining

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Morning Everyone

I’m struggling today.

Really struggling.

Not with New Year resolutions.

I haven’t made any.

Not with a blank page.

I am writing daily.

So what am I struggling with?

I have too many projects close to completion.

It feels like a form of digital paralysis.

Too many projects?

Close to completion?

I know what you’re thinking.

I should be so lucky.

I’m not complaining.

It is a great position to be in.

It probably means that I’m not going to get anything done today.

That’s fine.

Sometimes not getting things done is as comforting as getting things done.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

Have a great day.

Barnaby

 

VIROS – Book One – December 2017

VIROS COVER - #1

Virus

I was hiding on the roof of a shop. There was a strange girl with me.

Everything was good yesterday. I knew that presidents were saying mad things on television. That was like always.

But not now.

The radio said about a virus. People were being zombies. A scientist said it was a disaster all over the world. No one was safe.

Mum worked at the hospital. She was always gone when I got up. She felt bad about this. It wasn’t her fault. She had to do these things. Anyway, I was independent. I liked looking after myself.

I always heard Mum go out. I always went back to sleep.

She wasn’t back home when I woke up again.

I always heard her making breakfast. I would go downstairs.

‘Hi Jake,’ she would say. ‘Did you sleep ok?’

I liked to hug her.

‘How was work?’

‘Work is over now.’

Mum always said don’t worry if she was late. She would be coming back. It was different today. She wasn’t back.

I was really worried. What if the zombies were chasing her?

The hospital was quite near to home. I thought I would look for her.

That was my idea.

I didn’t think anything else.

Terminal Transit (Barnaby Taylor, 2017) First 3 Chapters

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For your interest and review here are the first three chapters of Terminal Transit.

If you would like to read more then please feel free to let me know.

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 on 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.

 

Verse 2.

It was Professor Mac an Bhaird who woke one rainy night from his lonely dreams to hear sobbing in the flat beside him. The professor had been drifting in his dream, wandering in some half-remembered part of the city that he couldn’t quite place. Sibeal was with him and at first they walked hand in hand but Mac’s eyes were soon drawn to a wooden notice board outside an old newsagents. The board was full of handwritten postcards advertising various wares, offering all manner of services, as well as the usual births, deaths and marriages. He stopped, let go of Sibeal’s hand and began to read each card in turn, marvelling at the huge variety of historical styles, cases and forms -cursive, print, looped, Vereinfachte Ausgangsschrift, ascenders, Secretary Hand, descenders, Getty-Dubay, Block, Kurrent, and D’Nealian.

Mac ran his finger tenderly across each postcard in turn, checking for sense and general significance. He marvelled at such an extraordinary discovery on such an ordinary street. The noticeboard was unlocked and with a greedy wipe of his hand, Mac was able to sweep all the cards into his coat pocket. Duly delighted with his haul, Mac carried on walking but it wasn’t until he had found his way back to the Father Matthew Bridge that Mac realised that Sibeal was no longer beside him.

Mac woke with a start, half-expecting, as always, as ever, that Sibeal was asleep beside him. From the day she died until now this was the way it was for Mac. The sound of sobbing was loud and came from the rooms beside his. These rooms had been empty for so long that Mac imagined at first that it was simply a nocturnal illusion but the sobbing was insistent and eventually the old man carefully climbed out of bed, put on his dressing gown, picked up his umbrella and went out into the narrow hallway. The front door was slightly ajar and though he feared the perfectly reasonable fears of anyone who has been woken by unexpected sobbing in the middle of the night, the old man opened the door and stepped inside. In the dimness, a small figure lay crying on a dark and dusty sofa.

‘What is the matter, my child?’ asked Mac softly in the darkness.

‘What can have happened?’ But the small child did not reply.

Knowing that the child was familiar to him but wholly unprepared for such a nocturnal visit, he went to leave.

‘I am next door and will be there until you are ready to speak. My name is Professor Mac an Bhaird but you may call me Mac.’

Later that next morning there was a knock on the door. Mac looked up from his work.

‘Come in,’ he said and the girl stepped inside. Mac cleared a pile of papers from the footstool.

‘Come and sit by the fire, my child.’

He smiled.

‘Or should I say, Inteachán.’

 

Verse 3.

Following the inquest, the Coroner’s Report confirmed that Dr Butler F. Temple killed himself and murdered his daughter by leaping from Wexford Bridge after first stabbing his wife to death while she was asleep at No. 23 Wolseley Street, Dublin 8 with a double-edged ‘sacrificial’ dagger that he had recently purchased by mail order. Dr. Temple’s 1972 Volkswagen Beetle was found abandoned close to the bridge. Dr. Temple’s body was discovered the same evening but his daughter’s body is still unaccounted-for.

‘A terrible misadventure,’ reported the Coroner, ‘likely brought about by a combination of overwork and chronic depression. This tragedy is further compounded by the fact that the child’s body still remains unfound at the time of writing.’

Everyone agreed that it was a dreadful thing to have happened and for a few days it was the talk of this tiny town – especially considering it involved an academic from Trinity College, itself the very site of controversy. But, as is the nature of tragedies, however terrible, they happen so often that the next one leaves the last one in that special but dreadful place where the memories of every single tragedy ever to have befallen blur as they coalesce around the faded inches of discarded newspaper print and occasional visits to graveyards.

As far as everyone was concerned that was pretty much that and the sad affair of the gifted Trinity lecturer who lost his mind was consigned to the pages of local history but Mac, being Mac, had certainly never considered himself to be any part of ‘everyone else’ and in any case he knew for sure that something else lay at the heart of this tragedy.

Inteachán’s arrival at the flat that had been in her family since the 18th Century made Mac even more sure that there was something afoot, so sure in fact that it never occurred to him to report the fact of her being alive to the authorities. Mac was desperate to get to the heart of what happened and so it was that he soon found himself unable to wait any longer and growing more and more anxious Mac began to question the poor child.

‘Can you tell me what happened on that awful night? asked Mac getting straight to the point as gently as he could.

‘Did your father say anything? Think carefully.’

Inteachán thought carefully and began to sob.

‘He was upset, so upset, more upset than I had ever seen anyone ever before.’

Inteachán shuddered as the memory fell upon her once again from on high and afar.

‘He said that They had trapped him on a dark desert planet and that a black sandstorm tormented him for days by whispering in his ear that he needed to help Them in order to get back home and that the only way he would get back home was if he sacrificed me as an offering to them.’

‘They. Them.’ repeated Mac.

He hissed softly.

‘Fomhóire! Or should I say, the NotBeSpeak.’

As was his particular wont, Mac looked glum.

Inteachán felt a chill descend upon her from somewhere else and she duly shivered.

‘What are the What-Be-Speak?’ she whispered through her tears

‘Not What,’ Mac replied carefully, ‘but Why.’

He continued to look glum and stared off into the dingy distance.

‘I have spent a very large part of my recent years searching for an answer to that question. Sadly, I am no closer to the answer than I was when I started.’

Mac fumbled for the handkerchief he kept in the breast pocket of his green tweed suit and blew his nose vigorously.

‘In fact, I’m probably further away today than I have ever been.’

Mac prodded the coals on the fire. The chill showed no sign of leaving the room.

‘Despite my grand claims to knowledge and understanding it was actually your father who first alerted me to the danger.’

Mac pulled the blanket off his lap and walked over to a dusty bookcase full of lever arch file folders. Every wall of his flat was lined with similar bookcases and Inteachán could never work out how Mac knew instinctively where anything he was looking for could ever be found. A glance on any shelf revealed the rich and brumous nature of his collection.

There were the thirteen volumes of Sheen’s Pamphlet, an obscure tract published cheaply, regularly and anonymously between 1911 and 1961, with only the twelve editions from June to November 1946 missing. Next to this stood Lois Pengelly’s Wolseley Trilogy; Once a Valley (1932), Through the Trees (1942) and Forever Once More (1952). These were Sibeal’s favourite novels and Mac loved to watch her read them over and over again.

This very rare trilogy told the story of St. Matthew’s House, a beautiful Edwardian villa sat on the seafront in Bray that was home to several generations of the Wolseley family. Once a Valley told the story of the family coming to the area and having the house built. Through the Trees saw the family undergoing hard times with the Second World War as a backdrop. Sibeal’s favourite volume, Forever Once More, showed the Wolseley family in final dissolution as the eldest daughter, Cecily, refused to marry and thereby ended the family bloodline.

The Third Edition of Ogilvy’s Observations was Mac’s favourite and he loved nothing more than reading out loud from it as he and Sibeal lay in bed. The bedridden Oswald Ogilvy devoted his sickly adult life to completing a volume of ruminations and asides on topics of little or no connection to the world and in 1958 the Third Edition appeared. No one could ever explain what had happened to the first or second edition or if they even existed. Mac liked to speculate that Ogilvy was punishing the world for his ill health by making a publishing mountain out of a vanity molehill. Only twenty copies were ever printed before the plates were destroyed in a fire. Ogilvy himself had actually passed away two days before the fire and so died knowing nothing about the destruction of his life’s work. Ever the obscurist himself, Mac liked to quote from this flimsy volume whenever he could.

‘Ogilvy’s reminds us,’ said Mac, ‘that hope and despair are natural bedfellows. Indeed, he goes so far as to speculate whether or not they were originally the same impulse altogether that has simply been erroneously divided over time.’

A large pile of Pendeltons’ Periodicals lay gathering dust on the floor by his side of the bed. Edited between 1954 and 1958 by the noted mid-century chroniclist August Borne, Pendeltons’ was the model for occasional observationism, as it became known. Sadly, the public had very little taste for such an esoteric offering and so Pendeltons’ went the same way as any other small-run journal without an audience.

Gerard Denyer’s Model Villages: Their Occurrence and Occult Significance, published by Turner Press in London in 1924 was another influence on Mac’s own scholarship. Denyer travelled the length and breadth of Britain noting the similarities and differences between the model villages he came across. Maps and charts were drawn and laid side by side for comparison. This was fairly standard for the field but Denyer’s original contribution to the body of knowledge came through his use of the Begleys, a fictional family of aristocratic refugees whose struggles for social survival were used a device by Denyer to account for the seemingly small shifts he detected in societal responses to folk beliefs around the country.

Mac reserved a special scorn for the Reverend John Webster’s Trestles, Treads and Other Joins: My Life Among the Sawdust. Published privately in 1965 at great personal expense to the author, Turtles, Threads and Other Jokes, as Mac liked to call it, told the story of the Reverend Webster’s three years of missionary service in England. Written as a series of clumsy homilies and asinine anecdotes loosely connected to Christ’s career, Webster always managed to attribute every piece of good luck to God and misfortune to the Devil. Despite its appearance, this literary folly was actually one of the most acclaimed of the so-called casualist texts and was therefore extremely valuable to the right buyer. What made this even book even more valuable to Mac was the fact that he found it buried at the bottom of a cardboard box full of ripped road maps he spotted in a skip.

Mac ran his finger along the second shelf from the top until he found what he was looking for.