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       Tempests, p.5

           Michael Carter
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control his eyes.

  After forty minutes he closed the curtains and turned the TV on with the volume very low. It had just turned midnight and Bradley watched a news report [more flooding on the Continent; minibus crash; argumentative political garbage] and then half of a terrible spaghetti western called “The Twilight Avengers.”

  The story was terrible and he couldn’t hear most of the dialogue anyway. The over-use of long, lingering shots, the vistas of sand dunes and rocky deserts, and the lack of any apparent action soon had him blinking heavily in his chair. When the second break of the film came on, Bradley checked himself and walked around the room a little, peeking out of the curtains as he passed. All outside was still, apart from the rain and there was no sign of life on the roads, on the pavements, or, most importantly, thought Bradley, in the skies.

  He went back to his chair and turned the channel, finding a half-over debate show. He watched that until it finished, sitting very close to the screen so as to hear the sound. After the national anthem the channel closed for the night, and Bradley had another nervous check through the curtains; he saw only a cat sheltering itself in the opposite house’s doorway. Not wanting to watch the test card, he tried the other channels; Channel 5 was showing a sports show but was fuzzy and unwatchable, and, on Channel 4 there was some kind of foreign-language film with badly designed subtitles which concealed the bottom third of the picture.

  Nevertheless, Bradley settled for this and turned the volume down completely; he figured he could follow the plot by reading the subtitles. This he did for almost forty minutes before inadvertently lowering his head, closing his eyes and drifting off into unscheduled slumber.

  He couldn’t be blamed for this; he’d had little sleep the night before and had felt tired all day. He should really have grabbed a few hours in the morning when he’d gotten home but had never gotten around to it.

  Then there was the clock in Sarah’s bedroom. A slow monotonous ritual; tick... tock... tick... tock...tick... Endlessly ticking, endlessly tocking, to eternity, to doomsday, to zero hour.

  In Brad’s dream he experienced a bright heavenly light permeate the room and eat into his soul. Eyes, green, blue, yellow, owl-like in shape had swam around the room and there’d been screaming and pleading from a dozen different voices that he’d never heard before. Then the screaming stopped and the lights went out and he slept peacefully in the chair for a further forty minutes.

  At three oh four AM the phone in Sarah’s room rang, waking Bradley up. He answered it and immediately recognised the voice, at the same time deeming it impossible as its bearer was lying asleep on the bed [“I don’t know if she’s breathing.”] in the corner of the room. She looked small and vulnerable.

  Bradley listened again to Sarah’s voice on the phone.

  “Help me.” it said.


  AFTERWORD:- “Tempests” was written, according to my notes, between 3-25 July 1997, after a few months steeped in Lovecraft writing BY THE MOON and THE STEPS AT SILOTH. It must have been a nice change to do a bit of light science-fiction. It is another story I have rescued from oblivion and typed up directly from my old Amiga; I appear to have never printed this story out, and as such, I believe only one or two people have read it. My friend Andy J Campbell suggested that I shouldn’t use the word ‘pregnant’ [as in pregnant with rain, pregnant with expectation] twice in one story. He was quite right, but it took me sixteen years to fix it. When reading it over and doing a bit of fine-tuning on it, I intended to cut some of it, around 10% if I could, to just tighten it up a bit. I did cut some bits but I ended up adding about 250 words to its length. Anyway, there are no significant changes, and the story remains more or less as originally written when I was 19. I’m quite happy with it, the romance stuff is maybe a bit naive, but at least it has a bit of depth; most of my protagonists up until Tempests had been single males, and I think Bradley and Sarah in this story were my first proper shot at attempting a relationship in my fiction. In fact, reading the story back, there’s not really a lot of science-fiction in there, and I realise that Bradley is in fact a bit of a bumbling idiot, an accurate portrayal of myself, then.

  During the course of typing, reading, and editing Tempests, I noticed how old-fashioned it is, and I realised that if I was writing the story now I would write it differently, and so I plan to, with a brand new sequel story in the works. When I originally wrote Tempests, I had no intention of writing a sequel. In the present story, I have planted a fiendish and crap clue, as to one of the ideas for my sequel. Did you spot it?

  I hope you enjoyed my little story, and, if you have the time,please leave a review and tell me what you thought.


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