The Small Man Chronicles: There Be Dragons

The Small Man Chronicles: There Be Dragons (1938)

Small Man Chronicles

a J.R. Dallas novel

(extract from Chapter XVIII)

published one year after J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or There And Back Again

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The Smalluns had made it to Asragarn.

And Mandrarg was near.

The giant owls of Forellem had not brought them all the way, for they had other, more interesting things to do like do other things and such.

Thall, the tallest of the Smalluns, knew there was only one way to proceed: through the dark woods of Klorsharum and passed the rivers of Gooloore. The journey was perilous but this was his quest, their quest, and he wasn’t about to give up now.

“Young Small Man, you have served us well thusfar”, Thall said to Polio, “We Smalluns need you but this is not your fight. If you wish to return to your meaningless existence, with your round doors and your cheese, you may do so. We will not think less of you.”

“I’ll be honest, Thall, I don’t like you people and I care not for your long and tedious quest”, replied the Small Man, “But I will help you. Because Old Man Hat is very powerful and he will no doubt vaporise me or put a sinister curse on my soul should I refuse.”

Old Man Hat, who was standing behind Thall, giving Polio a stern stare and making throat-cutting gestures at him, said nothing.

“Very well”, Thall said with a smile, “On we go! Your courage will not go unrewarded, young Small Man.”

Thall ruffles Polio’s hair and walks on as everyone follows.

“I’m 78!”, yelled a vastly ignored Polio.

The dark woods of Klorsharum were dark.

So dark in fact that one could only walk through them with the help of a lit torch, or two. Luckily, Old Man Hat possessed many abilities, one of which was to generate strange white light from his staff. This was certainly helpful. But they were many and Polio’s tiny feet could not quite keep up with the rest of the group. It was only a matter of time before he would lose them completely, despite his many vocal complaints.

And lose them, he did.

Polio was now walking in total darkness. He became more and more aware of the bizarre sounds which emanated from those treacherous woods.

“I hate Smalluns…”, he thought.

What could he do but keep walking and hope that someone would eventually come back for him or that he would somehow catch up? Then again, what if some forest creature was to attack him and feast on him long before that?

This thought unnerved Polio and he started shaking.

That’s when he remembered: the bracelet.

Of course! The bracelet from the monkey mines of Blerrendor! It had proved itself most useful and displayed incredible powers earlier in the quest, surely it could come in handy in this desperate instant. All he had to do was wear it and think of what he wanted, then the bracelet would no doubt provide him with that!

But why wish for something as trivial as a mere boost? Why not wish for The Smalluns’ Pointy Mountain back? Or the death of the beast Mandrarg? Then that darn quest would be over! Hell, why not just wish for a short trip back home?

It sure was tempting…

Then again, perhaps there were more creative things he could do with this bracelet. Old Man Hat could swallow that rusty staff of his, impale himself from orifice to orifice with it. Thall and all the Smalluns in the land could all be tied together into one big ball by their veins and nerve-endings, with only their raw muscle tissue keeping them warm at night. Mandrarg could be summoned and I could sit back and watch as he devoured each of them, limb by limb, eyeball by eyeball, before my very eyes as a female Fairyun lets me lick those pointy ears of hers.

“Young Polio!”, a loud voice came from the darkness.

Polio looked up, as if brutally awoken from a delicious dream. Above him, stood a stern-looking Old Man Hat, who was puffing on his fern pipe anxiously.

“What is the meaning of this stalling?”, he said, “Explain yourself!”

Halfway between anger and shame, Polio was seriously considering wearing that bracelet. In fact, he was so close to wearing it, it was almost passed his wrist.

“Well?”, pressed the old man.

“I… “, the Small Man struggled.

“Speak, damn you!”

“I… couldn’t reach. I’m too small.”, Polio said finally.

“Too small? No creature is too small that it can’t run or hold on to a taller, and therefore superior, being’s leg in order to follow a pack during a most important journey.”

Polio resisted the bracelet’s power and slipped it back in his coat pocket, without Old Man Hat noticing.

“May I… hang on to your leg?”, Polio asked.

“Not on your life, peasant!”

Old Man Hat walked on, leaving Polio to follow on foot, cursing his name under his breath.

“I could have skinned you…”, Polio muttered.

“What was that?”

“N… nothing. Just talking to myself.”

“And they say I’m high…”, Old Man Hat concluded.

Polio had soon rejoined the group when Thall sensed something was amiss.

“What is there, Thall? What do you sense?”, said Yarlaan, one of the hairiest of the Smalluns present.

“Klargens…”

Just then, a pack of rabid klargens, foaming at the mouth and emitting terrifying shrieks, burst out of the forest and start surrounding Polio, Old Man Hat and the Smalluns. Once again, Polio starts to consider his bracelet. Slowly and discreetly, he removes it from his pocket and leads it to his wrist as the klargens get closer and closer.

“This is it…”, Polio thought, “First I get rid of the klargens, then the old man’s getting melted in the fiery pits of Warglor. Beard first.”

And, just as Polio was about to finally wear the bracelet, spears came flying from nowhere, impaling every single klargen right there and then. Polio couldn’t understand what had happened. Had the bracelet worked already? That was impossible, he hadn’t pulled it passed his wrist yet.

Out of the darkness, light finally appeared revealing the Smalluns’ saviours: a group of armed Fairyun men on their typically white, blonde and blue-eyed horses.

“Fairyuns…”, Old Man Hat said to himself.

Polio puts the bracelet back in his coat pocket.

“Smalluns, are you all well?”, said the whitest of all the Fairyuns.

“We’re fine.”, replied Thall, reluctantly.

“How did you find us?”, Old Man Hat asked.

“We sensed you would all wander here, and the dark woods of Klorsharum are not known for being the safest of places.”

“We do not need your charity or your company.”, Thall retorted.

Old Man Hat gives Thall a piercing look of disappointment and intervenes:

“What Thall means to say is: we do not mean to be a burden.”

“Your quest is a perilous one, we only wish to offer our assistance should you ever need it.”

Thall emits an audible grunt.

“Thank you, Melomas, you are most kind.”

“We will lead you out of the dark woods. After that, if you wish to proceed without our help, we shall not get in your way.”

And so Melomas and the Fairyuns led the way and we were soon out of the woods. But there were more obstacles yet to come.

The Smalluns had reached the rivers of Gooloore, night had turned to day and the Fairyuns had said their goodbyes for they knew that not all these Smalluns would make it back.

“Blasted river, how will we ever get across?”, Old Man Hat asked himself.

“What about the owls? Call the owls.”, suggested Polio.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“The owls are not ours to summon.”

“But we summoned them earlier.”

“That was different.”

“How?”

“That was a cliff, this is a river.”

“I don’t understand. Don’t you have a spell? Can’t you dry the river?”

“No. We’ll have to go around.”

“That’ll take ages! We’ll never get there!”

“Do you have a better suggestion, foolish Small Man?”

“I could use the…”

“Yes?”

“The… wood to build a bridge. We could all do that.”

Overhearing the conversation, Thall stepped in:

“We are not lumberjacks, young Small Man! We are warriors and Smallun warriors do not build bridges!”

“But…”

Old Man Hat hits Polio across the face with his staff. Polio reaches into his coat pocket.

“We’re going around.”, Old Man Hat finally said to everyone, “Follow me.”

As the group marched on behind Old Man Hat, Polio could only sit there and manage his anger internally. But this time, by extending this quest even more senselessly, the old man had gone too far. Polio finally takes out his bracelet and, without hesitation, wears it.

“Take me to Mandrarg, deep inside the Pointy Mountain.”

In a flash, Polio was there.

Removing the bracelet, Polio looked around to find that he was ankles-deep in a sea of riches. Gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, it was a sparkling paradise and Polio had never seen anything like it.

Unfortunately, where there are riches, there be dragons.

The ground started to shake beneath Polio’s feet. Or so he thought, for it wasn’t the ground that was lifting him, it was Mandrarg. The bracelet had landed Polio right on his head. Losing his balance, Polio fell back, dropping the bracelet in the process. What was he going to do?

As he started searching through all the coins and gems around him for the bracelet, he heard Mandrarg’s booming, cavernous voice and it was easily the most frightening sound he’d ever heard in his entire life.

“Who dares enter my mountain?”

“N-no-one, I assure you.”, replied Polio nervously, still searching for the bracelet.

“I was wondering when you Smalluns would disturb my slumber.”

“I-I’m no Smallun, I’m a Small Man, from the Parkypark Lands in the West.”

“Small Man? I’ve never seen a Small Man.”

“Trust me, I’m no Smallun. In fact, I hate Smalluns. So you see… we have something in common, you and I.”

“You think me a fool, Small Man?”

Mandrarg’s voice was much more aggressive now.

“N-no, of course not! Your… excellency.”, replied the Small Man sheepishly.

“You may not be a Smallun but you are one of them nonetheless. You are aiding them in some way.”

“That’s not true! Y-you’re mistaken, oh great Mandrarg!”

“Silence!”

Mandrarg’s breath reeked of smoke and it felt like fire could burst out of his vast nostrils at any second. The beast approached its scaly, toothy mouth closer and closer to the Small Man, ready to eat him when Polio finally found his bracelet.

“Take me back! Take me back to the Smalluns!”

And, just like that, he was back with the Smalluns, trailing behind as usual. Old Man Hat turns around to find a shaking Polio, lying in the dirt.

“Young Small Man! Hurry up! This is no picnic!”

Polio turns to Old Man Hat and gives him a dirty look, followed by a wry smile. As if he’d just got an idea.

“Coming!”

Putting the bracelet back on, Polio wished for something unpleasant. Just then, Old Man Hat felt the trousers under his robe get looser. Polio had made him a small man, just not all over.

What a fiendish punishment.

The bracelet had finally taken hold of Polio.

And it would never let go.

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More fantasy tales from J.R. Dallas next year.

Only on WeTheMindthinkers.

See Little Earth Map HERE.

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Dead Air

Dead Air (2003)

Dead Air

by Matt Kowalski

the incredible true story that inspired the motion picture “Gravity”

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Space.

I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

I mean, I “get” it: it’s far.

But it’s not like you can eat it or take it to the movies.

Before going up there, even I had that misguided “isn’t space grand?” attitude. I guess you never know what’s waiting for you behind the curtain unless you actually are the curtain, or something to that effect. I don’t know why I kept going back up there, maybe I just really like that diarrhoea-style space food, maybe Earth just doesn’t do it for me.

Now as to why she went up there… that’s a whole other mystery altogether.

Medical doctors with daughter issues have no business being in zero gravity settings. I learned that the hard way.

I always knew she was trouble, the minute I saw her. She had that look. You know that unconfident, sweaty, eyes-darting-left-and-right type of look? “How she passed the psychological evaluation I’ll never know…”, I thought. It seems silly now but how could I have known?

Sure, NASA isn’t exactly known for its overall incompetence but, every so often, mistakes slip through the cracks, even in the most professional and together of places. It happens. I should have known better but her making it up there, I suppose, wasn’t completely unfeasible.

I was assigned to supervising repairs on Explorer, she was working on the Hubble when mission control warned us about debris hitting us and that’s when I saw it. A look in her eyes I’d never seen before. Her edgy desperation had suddenly opened up the door to something much more knowing, much darker. Without hurry, there she remained, seemingly continuing repairs as debris started hitting us but really doing their bidding.

Before getting “accidentally” knocked off out of danger and into the dark chasm of space, I saw her neatly place a metallic item on the skin of the shuttle. It was like some kind of spinning cylinder with blue blinking lights shining all around it. Something not from our world. This is when I finally understood that what was happening to us was no accident.

Luckily, I had my thruster pack handy: stupid thing saved my life.

She killed Shariff.

He was one of our key engineers, the man had a family and a positive (read: naive) outlook on life. He was a good man and she killed his face, just like that. That device she planted on Explorer before floating away was clearly emitting some kind of magnetic field leading the debris to the shuttle. Shariff was almost at the airlock when part of that satellite hit him.

Can’t believe we were pinning this debacle on the Russians.

I’m Russian!

So there I was, at a somewhat safe distance from the disaster. Shuttle’s down, she’s floating far out. I had two options: find a way out and get back to Earth or get to her and find out why she did what she did. THEN get back to Earth.

I decided to get the bitch.

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Seeing as she was probably programmed or hypnotised to do these things, I would find her, find out the truth, her plan, and deal with her accordingly.

When I found her, she was hysterical: breathing loudly and wasting oxygen. Her real, cowardly self had resurfaced and I had to calm her down in order to reach deep and find what else was lurking inside her psyche. There wasn’t much time to get the both of us over to another structure.

She told me about her dead daughter.

Ruined the vibe.

Can’t listen to good music in space, these days.

Anyway, we just about made it when the debris came back, knocking me away unexpectedly. That bitch had once again called the debris towards us: she must have been onto me. She knew I suspected her.

That’s when I got the idea: fake my own death and bring her down another way.

She was holding my hand, pretending to save me. I let go.

What she didn’t know was that my thruster pack still had plenty of fuel. I would make my way to a nearby Chinese satellite, where she would no doubt be heading, and set a trap for her.

It took some time but I finally made it. The people there were good people. They were on their way back to Earth when I warned them of a possible impending attack on our world by an unknown force. I flipped the oxygen switch down without them noticing, waited for them to get dizzy and, eventually, they believed me. We devised a plan: they would take the first escape pod down and warn the authorities, warn NASA, and I would hide and come back down with her.

Soon after the Chinese astronauts had left, she finally made it and, luckily, didn’t notice me hiding under the pod. I saw her sneak in, try to communicate with an Earth base and that’s when it happened.

She started barking.

Like a dog.

Well, seemingly like a dog but it was much stranger than that. Much more disturbing and high-pitched. She turned off her oxygen completely and closed her eyes. Suddenly, she re-opened them and I saw like a mist pass over her blank gaze. Over the pod, something crazy happened.

Space dogs.

Yes, I saw three dogs with spinning blue collars, floating in bubbles and communicating with her from the outside. What they were transmitting sounded like co-ordinates. They were planning an attack! I knew it!

I wasn’t insane!

The space dogs barked, she barked back, I listened.

After a couple of minutes, they floated away. That’s when I realised that my thruster pack was running completely out of fuel. I had to make it inside the pod, somehow. Luckily, she was still unconscious so, if I acted fast, I could open the pod, sneak inside, hide and make sure she didn’t see me when she woke up. Which is what I did. I was afraid for a moment when she blindly opened her eyes but, thinking fast, I pretended to be a ghost, knocked her out and hid inside the pod, right at the back.

She woke up and turned the oxygen back on. Thank God for that.

As if overwhelmed by a new sense of lust for life, she followed the procedures to get back to Earth and so we did. We almost burned-up on re-entry and I almost drowned when we landed but I had taken off my space suit as soon as we did so sneaking out underwater after her was easy. I even pushed a frog towards her in order to send her in a different direction.

Dogs respond to frogs.

Popping up over the water to breathe every so often, I eventually saw her stand and walk away.

Just then, the authorities arrived: the Chinese astronauts had followed my instructions! She was instantly apprehended, given a strong sedative and taken back to NASA headquarters. I, of course, followed.

What they found was staggering.

Testing revealed a small but significant bone-shaped substance inside her brain. It was carefully removed and analysed. Apparently, the substance contained a highly concentrated dose of nuclear energy. The space dogs’ plan, then, would have been to turn us all into skeletons, invade the Earth and feast on our bones. They led her into space in order to psychically impregnate her head with this powerful weapon as, from their far distance, they could only hypnotise her.

This explained everything!

The barking, the sudden change of emotions, the hysterical mood swings, the incompetence, it all makes sense now!

Unfortunately for her, by removing the substance, which had reached deep parts of her brain, she was left with a limited amount of capabilities. Essentially all she could do from now on was get on all fours, bark and eat doggy treats. To this day, she still resides at our NASA kennel. She’s happier than ever and I go feed her biscuits once a week.

Poor Dr Stone.

It’s like something out of a bad movie or something…

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More sci-fi “true stories” soon.

Only on WeTheMindThinkers.

Hard Warriors

Hard Warriors (1979)

Hard Warriors Poster

a Hiroaki Yamada short story

(translation by Guillaume Le Taureau)

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They were strong.

They were hard.

Warriors with strength.

One was blue, the other: not blue.

They were ready.

Inside the beast, young Hideo was sweating. Sweating like an animal in the Sun. Like an unborn baby rhinoceros waiting to come out of its mother’s womb. But there was no coming out: the battle was about to begin.

“Stop it now, Isamu!”, he said to his opponent.

“Never!”, Isamu replied through his own metallic warrior.

“You were good! Now you are bad! Why, Isamu? Why?”

“I am bad because you made me bad! I was good! Now we are both bad.”

“Never!”

Hideo threw the first punch.

WHAMMAK!

Such power!

But Isamu would not be defeated so easily.

PAPOOM!

What an attack!

“Our strengths are matched! But mine is stronger!”, Isamu gloated.

“Don’t flatter yourself, Isamu!”

And Hideo lept at Isamu, clenching the latter’s waist with his thighs while thumping on his head with his titanium fists.

FHOOM! FHOOM!

“Aaaaah! Damn you!”, Isamu screamed.

“You can still end this: we used to be brothers!”

“Never!”

Isamu unleashes a hidden chest saw: sparks fly as Hideo is violently propelled by the rotations of the sharp thoraxian weapon.

“Take that, inferior thing!”

“How about… you take… THIS?”

Hideo’s warrior releases gold arrows from his eyes: they promptly pierce through Isamu’s shoulders. Isamu screams and drops to his knees.

“Nooooo!”

“Yes!”

“You will pay for this!”

“Surrender, Isamu! It is what you must do!”

“Never!”

Isamu pulls out one of the gold arrows from himself, stands and runs towards Hideo. He jumps at him, ready to stab Hideo with the arrow but Hideo was prepared: he had already deployed the anti-arrow disc.

BZONGH!

The arrow broke.

“Last chance for salvation, Isamu!”

“Never!”

Hideo slices Isamu in half.

Both halves of what once was Isamu plop down to the ground as blood, oil and wires pour out.

“Isamu…”, Hideo says quietly to himself.

Just then, Hideo felt a change of gravity.

Was he flying?

No.

In fact, he was being lifted. Inside the warrior, Hideo panicked, playing with all the buttons peppered over the main control panel.

“What the…”

A voice came from above.

“You have failed, Hideo.”

“Computer”, Hideo asked his control panel desperately, “Analyse big voice!”

Looking up at the screen in front of him, Hideo finally saw the truth.

The voice continued:

“You can’t kill so early: you lose the drama, young Hideo!”

Was that an eyeball facing him?

Were those glasses?

It couldn’t be… they were so big.

“Try again”, said the voice, “This time: use the arrows last. Take your time: length is good. We’ll keep rolling.”

“R-rolling?”

Suddenly, Hideo was placed back down on the ground.

“Aaaaaand: action!”, said the voice.

In front of him, Hideo found another hard warrior.

Could it be?

No.

It couldn’t.

“I…Isamu?!”

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More from the Hiroaki Yamada soon.

Only on WeTheMindThinkers.

WWV

WWV (2006)

WWV

a Lazarus Pitt novel

Written at the same time as Max Brooks’ “World War Z”

Extract from Chapter XII

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The war had begun.

It had begun and now it was.

It was and now it remained.

Would it ever end?

We didn’t think so.

Maybe our squadron was just being particularly pessimistic. Or perhaps we were right to not be hopeful. The things we’d seen, experienced, could still not be explained and none of us could see a bright future on the horizon.

Doomed.

Joining the army wasn’t an easy decision. Don’t get me wrong, there was never any bad blood between me and Uncle Sam or anything, it was just the idea of going out into the unknown and facing potential death I couldn’t get over.

Then they came flying in.

This was an enemy like no other we’d ever faced before. Now, not only our country was at stake but our entire world! There was no way I could have just sat back and watched it all happen live on CNN, without doing anything. What if this was the end? What then? What kind of life would I have led?

No. If they want this planet, they’ll just have to go through me.

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Where am I?

The whole point of this covert operation was to invade the enemy base not hide all around it and lose each other. There I am, stranded in this ghost town, with no means of communication and no direct support.

That’s just great.

All around me are seemingly empty barracks. They had built a wall around the base on top of which their soldiers fired at us relentlessly. I had to see one of them, I had to see what we were dealing with.

I approached one of their soldiers, who was lying dead next to his weapon and, to my surprise, I found a young woman, not in uniform. Actually, she was naked. Naked and covered in blisters. Not only that but both her wrists were attached to the very machine-gun she was firing from.

Why?

Then I heard it: a rumble coming from inside one of the nearby tents. I ready my weapon instinctively and start walking towards it. Whatever was in there, it was safe to guess it didn’t want me around. Then again, what if the rest of my team somehow went ahead of me and took refuge in one of the tents?

I tap the end of my rifle on the ground three times, pause for a moment, then repeat. This was our code, our way of alerting each other, of letting us know that one of us was near without attracting unwanted attention. This time, there was no reply.

Whatever was in there: it wasn’t one of us. And it was, most certainly, hostile.

One Mississippi…

Two Mississippi…

THREE.

I run in, spouting out orders:

“Get down! Get down! Hands on the gr-”

Empty.

I move in further into the tent, as I try to decipher what could have possibly been the source of the sound I had heard when suddenly, the ground breaks under me.

My heart tightens.

My rifle: gone.

I’m falling.

Darkness.

The fall wasn’t too deep but deep enough that the landing cracked my knee. Struggling not to scream, I promptly bite my sleeve. If this was a trap, I had to buy some time, gather my thoughts before the attack. The pain was intolerable. I had also scraped my arm during the fall and I could tell by the moistness on the other sleeve of my uniform that I was bleeding.

I fumble around the darkness for my rifle.

Finally: I reach it.

I shakily stand up and start limping forward, down a deserted, unlit corridor. I start to feel dizzy, sick, but I push all of that aside in my mind. All that matters is the mission. I’m expendable, I know that, but if this is some sort of underground lair I’ve discovered, it’s my duty to make sure I bring as much carnage and panic to the place as possible.

And just like that, I saw something lying in front of me I wish I had never seen.

It was Smithey.

My teammate, my brother.

What have they done to you?

There he was: lying on the ground face down with the bottom half of his body missing. Gnawed off, it seemed.

Oh Smithey…

We were gonna raise chickens together.

I approach my friend, get on my good knee and turn his body around to face him when, suddenly, his eyes open.

“V…”, he said.

“Smithey! Y-you’re…”

“V…”

“What is it, Smithey? Tell me, I’m here!”

“V…”

Smithey died in my arms just then.

What could he have been trying to tell me?

A name, perhaps?

I knew I couldn’t stay there any longer. I had to go forward, move on with the mission. I say a quiet prayer for my old friend and keep on walking.

Those bastards are gonna pay.

Still limping, the pain more unbearable than ever, I finally reach some sort of large storage area: long, flat rectangular boxes, everywhere. Boxes upon boxes just sitting there, in the dark. Weapons? Missiles?

What were these monsters plotting…

I step closer to one of the boxes and go to lift its lid, making sure to keep my gun pointing in the right direction. I start lifting the lid when I hear a voice calling me from the corridor I had just walked from.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you”, the voice warned.

I promptly look up and, upon seeing a shadowy figure standing in the distance, I point my weapon at the stranger with every intention of shooting.

“Get down on the ground! Now!”, I yell out nervously.

“It is unwise to shout.”, was the calm reply.

The dark figure steps forward.

“Stay where you are!”

They stop.

“Don’t step any closer. I mean it.”

“I mean you no harm…”

The silhouette steps forward once again and I shoot. This causes no reaction whatsoever.

“Now you’ve done it.”

Some of the boxes around me start moving.

“What are you?”

Finally, out of the shadows, walks a familiar face.

“General Lohman?”

“That’s right, soldier. I’m a night-walker. Always have been.”

“But… Smithey…”

“Smithey got sloppy. We’re attracted to sound, we love it. Can’t get enough of it. Couple of misfired gun shots in the dark, that’s all it took. They jumped him, tore the poor bastard in half right there and then.”

“What the hell are night-walkers?”

“We live in shadow, we feast upon the blood of those who try to come between us and our destiny. The world belongs to us, soldier, we are evolution and nothing will stop us.”

“You’re wrong. You’re a mistake, a failed experiment. We’ll win.”

“You’re a good kid, soldier. Resourceful. I have a proposition for you: help us. Be our eyes during the daylight hours and you will be spared. I can guarantee that.”

“Then what? Say I help you: what will be left for me? I’ve seen what you do to humans when you’re done with them. ”

“You’re far more valuable to us than you realize. If there’s one thing we night-walkers will always need, it’s humans. I organised this personally, I wanted you to find us, I wanted you here. You’re the best we’ve got, soldier. Think about it: it makes sense.”

I look at the monster and smile.

“You’re right.”

I start applauding the General as loud as possible and, in a heartbeat, I see his hopes of a human mole shatter in a thousand pieces before him. The boxes around me rattle, shake and finally burst open sharply, like overcooked raviolis.

“Nooooo!”, Lohman cries out as the cavernous ghouls jump towards me, their fangs wet with hunger.

It does make sense.

There’s nothing like the sound of a deceived vampire.

Nothing.

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More from the iconic Lazarus Pitt soon.

Only on WeTheMindThinkers.

Man Made Of Steel

Man Made Of Steel (1938)

Comic Man Made Of Steel 2

a Jerry Jones comic-book

Extract from the 6-pages-long novelization

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“Look! Up there!”, the woman gasped.

“It’s a bird!”, her husband guessed.

“It’s a balloon!”

“It’s a bird!”, the husband guessed again.

“No! It’s Man Made Of Steel!”, said an older lady who had joined them on the scene.

Indeed, Man Made Of Steel had just flown across the sky after, quite probably, having saved yet another life. It had been a month since the first sighting of the fearless hero and crime in the vibrant city of Bigtown had reached its lowest point. The metallic wonder had been a blessing.

But who was this phenomenon?

Where had he come from?

That’s what ace reporter Sally Sullivan, of the Bigtown Daily, was trying desperately to find out. As yet, she had only been able to catch a glimpse of the mysterious helper, not enough to paint a full picture. Somehow, she knew she would need to get closer to him, be the first reporter in town to get an interview.

The Olsen twins had been no help at all.

The Daily’s go-to photographers, Jack and Jack, had been joined at the elbow since birth, which made their career twice as hard but, despite the occasional crooked shot, they often surprised their colleagues with impressive results.

“Anything on that Man Made Of Steel, fellas?”, Sally asked the twins.

“Not yet.”, they replied in unison.

“Well, be sure to let me know first, if and when you do get something worthwhile. With my words and your pictures, we’ll get that story if it’s the last thing I do.”

“Will you go out with me?”, the twins asked, again, in unison.

But Sally had already walked away without hearing their question. She was deep in thought.

Where would a Man Made Of Steel go?

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Meanwhile, on the other side of town, a child was crying.

With a “whoosh” and a “thump”, Man Made Of Steel appears and lands next to the child. Upon seeing him, the boy’s eyes widen in wonder.

“Gee whiz! Man Made Of Steel!”

“What appears to be the problem, young citizen?”, the hero asked somewhat robotically.

“It’s my kitty, Charlemagne, it’s stuck in that tree!”

“Have no fear. Man Made Of Steel is here.”

On that note, Man Made Of Steel deploys a cannon from inside his back and points it at the tree in question. Without warning, a thick, blood-red laser beam booms out of the cannon rendering the entire tree to ashes.

“But…”, the child is too stunned to finish his thought.

“No need to thank me, citizen. I do this for justice.”

Man Made Of Steel goes to ruffle the boy’s hair playfully but, his strength much too great, he instead proceeds to mistakenly crush the child’s head like an egg. Not noticing anything wrong, Man Made Of Steel’s laser cannon folds back into him and he is soon off, up and way, flying to further adventures.

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“A fire has broken out in downtown Bigtown. Next to nothing is known about the cause of this sudden disaster as yet but we will bring you the details, as they come. In the meantime, what’s the weather like, Bobby?”

Sally turns her radio off promptly.

That’s it!

Man Made Of Steel couldn’t possibly pass up a heroic act like extinguishing a fire like that. I only hope I get there in time!

Running out of her office, Sally calls out to the Olsen twins.

“Jack, Jack: big fire, downtown Bigtown! Be there.”

She sees one of her colleagues, the rather sheepish, forgettable Cal Karlson, exit the elevator and yells at him from across the room while running towards him.

“Hey! Karlson! Where were you?”

Cal goes to answer but Sally interrupts him.

“Never mind, you’ll tell me on the way.”

Cal goes to ask a question but she interrupts him again.

“I’ll tell you. On the way.”

They both get in the elevator and the doors close.

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Downtown Bigtown.

Fire.

By the time Sally and Cal finally arrived at the scene, the fire had already engulfed six blocks. Dark smoke filled the sky, fire engines everywhere, chaos.

“My god…”, Sally said to herself out loud.

“I know. Horrible, isn’t it?”, Cal confirmed naively.

“Man Made Of Steel abandoning his duties…”

“Tragic.”, Cal said in complete agreement.

“What a scoop!”, Sally finished her thought, “I can see it now: ‘HERO TO NOT HERO: THE MAN MADE OF STEEL STORY’. What do you think, Cal?”

Sally turns to look at Cal but he is inexplicably nowhere to be seen.

“Cal…?”

The fire marshal suddenly spots something above, in the sky.

“Look! Up there! It’s Man Made Of Steel!”

Everyone promptly drops whatever they were doing to look at the hero who has, indeed, appeared up in the sky, above the inferno he himself created.

“Fear not, citizens. Man Made Of Steel is here.”

Swooping down through the fire like a phoenix, the metallic justice man starts blowing the fire away with a giant fan he had deployed on his chest seconds prior. The fire doesn’t so much disappear as it does spread to previously unaffected blocks. Man Made Of Steel proceeds to move the fire all the way across town to the neighboring metropolis: Gothtown City.

Sally, unaware of the colossal damage caused by the hero over the rest of the entire town, looks at the wreckage left by the fire and starts feeling both moved, especially when she spots the bones of a dead child on the ground next to her (his head barely looking like a head anymore), but also a peculiar sense of pride.

Man Made Of Steel had proven himself a true patriot, he had come back for us.

“What’s all this, Sally?”, a voice called to her nearby.

It was Cal, still wearing his good-old prescription glasses and looking completely unfazed by the events.

“Where’s the fire?”

“You mean, you didn’t see any of what just happened?”

“I was buying a hot dog.”, he replied candidly, not holding a hot dog.

“You know… you look strangely familiar to me. I never noticed it before.”

“Oh Sally, you must be suffering from smoke inhalation. Let’s get you to a doctor.”

Sally could not put her finger on it.

There was something about Cal’s red eyes, his straight posture, his hard, blockish shoulders and his monotone way of talking that somehow felt uncanny. Which was bizarre. After all, Cal was just your normal, paper-pushing, eight-foot tall reporter.

But there was something…

“You know Cal, I think I love you.”

Cal beeps.

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More of Jerry Jones’ unique comic-books coming up soon.

Only on WeTheMindthinkers.

Futurearth

“Futurearth” (1995)

Futurearth Book Cover

a Brendan M. Midnight short story

Inspired the motion-picture “After Earth”

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The young soldier was cold.

Outside, the cold had made everything cold: even the trees.

As he lay down waiting for death, a beard of snow grew on his face.

Colonel Unfeer, meanwhile, sat in his pod, powerless. He thought of his son, he thought of his late daughter and he thought of his wife.

He thought.

All at once, he thought of all of them and how he had failed them. If only he had been there when the unthinkable happened. He could not fear. He had evolved and they hadn’t, but did they deserve a fate worse than his? The answer was no.

Fear was a choice, he once believed.

Now, he wasn’t so sure…

If only there was a way to save all he had left: his son.

His wife didn’t matter right now.

And then he remembered.

“Birds…”, Unfeer said to himself.

Both his legs had been broken in the crash and he was losing blood rapidly but he still had his brain.

“Computer, find me a bird. A big one.”, the Colonel ordered his screen.

“Processing…”, the computer replied.

Still lying on the frozen grass, young J.D. Unfeer could feel the fear leave him. Perhaps he had finally attained the nirvana of self-control his father had often spoken of, or perhaps he was dying. His eyes turned to the grass around his right hand. On it, was an elaborate slug-like creature wearing what looked at first like a very small leather jacket but was in fact another layer of skin.

The creature starts climbing on J.D.’s hand, leaving behind it a trail of blood and scars. The young soldier, frozen solid, could not feel the pain or anything else. He could only stare at the creature, paralysed, and let it do what it was doing. Which, it turns out, was defecating.

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Back in the conapt, Colonel Unfeer was losing patience.

“The birds, goddamn it! The birds!”

“Processing…”, replied the computer.

There had to be an easier way.

A legend told of an early form of technology which allowed humans to tap into any living creature at a distance. He remembered his great-grandfather teaching him this. How, long before the Earth perished, a form of primitive communication known as the “Internets” evolved into a wireless web connecting everything to each other telepathically and, therefore, spiritually. This, of course, was only a tale he had heard as a young child but if he could only remember the details of how humans learned to control that technology, perhaps…

Finally, he knew what he had to do.

It hit him like a bold of lighting, in his brain.

“Computer, locate mind darts.”

“Processing…”

“Come on, come on…”

“Mind darts detected.”

On-screen, a blue dot appeared on the map of the ship: it was very close to the red dot which depicted Unfeer’s current location.

J.D. was about to lose consciousness. The slug had reached his lower back.

Crawling down the ship’s unlit corridors, slithering with great difficulty, Colonel Unfeer felt tremendous amounts of physical pain but the adrenaline pumping through his arms which pulled him forward again and again kept him focused. Behind him, a trail of blood was left by his gushing legs. He had soon arrived at the Science Quarters, a pod which, like all the others, was made of bone.

The scientists onboard the ship used this room to do science.

Crawling inside the room, Unfeer saw the fleshy pocket which contained the mind darts, embedded inside the wall next to the eye-nets, the ivory stomachs and the tri-toothed crystal chopsticks.

“Computer: release compartment B-12.”

Promptly, the wall purse burst open.

The transparent jelly-like wax poured out and the box of mind darts (made of eggshells and hard milk) hung there, ready to be plucked.

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J.D. had finally fainted, his snow beard was sparkling in the chilling wind.

The slug was now in him.

It was then that it came for the boy.

A great, impressive bird he had encountered prior had swooped down and was now dragging the young soldier with its claws over the grass. The poor bird was cold, but it wasn’t about to give up on J.D..

Soon enough, the latter found himself, still unconscious, resting in a warm hole in the ground, covered with leaves and the bird’s own comfortably hot faecal matter. But the frost had taken its toll on the unfortunate beast and after lying on the leaves over the boy, it fell asleep never to awake again.

The next day, J.D. opened his eyes feeling  predictably cool but unexpectedly alive.

Alive?

But how?!

That was unexpected.

J.D. starts to crawl out of the hole, still unsure as to how exactly he could have ended up in that particular location safe and sound. Once up and out, however, it all made sense.

Before him lay the bird, dead.

He remembered the previous day, when he had tried to save its young but mistakenly destroyed their nest, killing them in the process. The bird had followed him here and saved his life, all because he had risked his own life for its brood.

Or, at least, that’s what the young soldier thought before getting a closer look at the bird’s body. On its side and on its neck were small glowing darts made of teeth and elbows.

“Father?”, J.D. enquired.

“You have done well, my son.”, replied the bird’s neck, “You have made me proud.”

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More from Brendan M. Midnight soon.

Only on WeTheMindthinkers.

Introducing Gilles Vorace

Little known French science fiction writer Gilles Vorace was a contemporary of legendary author Jules Verne. Not only that but they grew up together in Nantes, went to the same boarding school and used to share stories, along with Jules’ brother Paul.

Their friendship, however, ended circa 1864 when Vorace vehemently accused Verne of stealing his novel “The Mountains Upside Down” to build his classic “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth”. Vorace never forgave Verne, whose take on the situation amounted to this quote:

“The man is unhinged.”

Finally, Vorace’s “The Mountains Upside Down” is seeing the light of day and We, The MindThinkers are here to bring you several extracts from this unique piece of work.

An extract from Chapter III is coming soon only on We, The Mindthinkers.