36 Hours – Part 6

When I was a child, I often stood in my mother’s garden, where she grew red poppies behind the house. My mother would pretend not to see me there and call out to me, over and over. Standing there, I felt invisible. In that garden of red and green nothing could hurt me. Nothing could take me away. Even my mother was not immune to it.

I stare now at the dull red petals of a poppy plant. Even in the darkness I make out the color when star shells explode. They are the color of blood and cover this wasteland from which there is no return. I lay in the land of the dead where the living should not go. We were not men when we crossed into it. We were beasts, driven mad by fear and blood rage. Now humanity returns and we are no longer welcome here. Continue reading

36 Hours – Part 5

He is aiming a rifle at us. I don’t know where my rifle came from, but perhaps in the confusion I’d picked it up. I fire once, almost blindly. A hole appears in the man’s chest and he falls face first, landing with a sickening crunch in the mud below. I stare at him, his hands splayed before me as if prostrate, his backside high in the air, his neck bent in an impossible angle and the blood that runs like a river into the muddy water.

Kat touches my arm but the attack is on us. More Johnnies crest the trench, firing and throwing hand bombs. The crack of rifle fire cuts down several of them right in front of us before they can fire, while others leap into the trench to escape. Kat is on them quickly, working with his knife. Continue reading

36 Hours – Part 3

We have become numb to the falling of shells. Outside of the dugout we watch flashes of ordinance like one might watch a lightning storm. The explosions that rock the room are taken in stride. Once a direct hit cracks the mortar on the walls and there is some panic, but the support beams hold. It had been a small shell.

Kat suggests a game of cards. We try a few hands but we are too intent on listening to the cries of shells outside and soon give it up. The fear of them is gone but simple survival remains. If one of the large Lees land close enough we will have to make a dive for it or be buried alive. When told this, Vanmere turns green but does not try to run again. Continue reading

36 Hours – Part 2

It comes with the earth shaking like a thing alive, followed by a darkness so absolute I am blind. I am swallowed by it, enveloped and embraced by it, a darkness that is utterly without sound or motion. I am frozen in its depths, unable to draw breath or let loose screams.

Then by flashes of light I am made deaf by explosions and see my friends as if through still images. We look at one another with white faces and thin lips pressed tight. In these moments of absolute light there is a complete absence of life. No movement, no warmth and no sound but the crashing of ordinance. The barrage is the only life we know.

It goes on for an hour. I am convinced it will go on forever. The wet mud and cold are the whole of my existence. I extend no further than the falling of the next shell. Continue reading

The Space Cantina – Upcoming Fiction: 36 Hours

Just a quick note gang, the next piece of fiction I’m doing is entitled “36 Hours.” Some of you know about the old version, but this will be a NEW version! And it’s steampunk! I’ll be posting the first part on Wednesday I think…

Also I may only post once a week since the sections will be much larger than Icarus’s were. Hope you guys like it!

/Hackett Out.


The Space Cantina – A reflection on Icarus, a brief interlude and a steampunked 36 Hours

So Icarus has come to an end. The story was much longer in execution than I’d originally thought it would be. This wasn’t a “story that grew in the telling” exactly. It was the author still feeling his way through this new media, trying to figure out a formula for posting 3 times a week in short, but whole chunks. After a time I ended up with a 3-post arc for each week. They are hard to see but I knew I wanted to accomplish 1 thing each week and split it into a rising action, climax and aftermath, or variations thereof. I also wanted to weave two complete stories into one, though I doubt it was obvious.

This is not me claiming that I’m some super genius and no one can possibly understand the webs I weave. Please. I can hardly understand what I think up. I wanted to tell a story where you are left with your own interpretations of events, but also a pretty clear understanding of what was going to happen in the future based on those interpretations. I’ve foreshadowed quite a bit but this form, posting 3 times a week over a great period of time, does not allow a reader the luxury of absorbing it all at once. You read the foreshadowed event 5 weeks ago, only to have the event come to fruition when you’ve already forgotten it.

Small problem. I will have to think on how to avoid this in the future.

Anyway, I’m rambling. For those who read this story, I’d love to hear what you thought of it and what you imagine would happen in the future of this world. What did you get out of it? Did you like the format? Did you even like the story? If not, really, that’s okay. I’ve got plenty of strange tales yet to tell.

In other news, I just wanted to let you all know that I’m going to be taking a week off. My brother, sister-in-law and my two young nephews are visiting and I rarely see them. We live states upon states apart. I plan to come back with a re-telling of my “36 Hours” story, this time set in my own steampunked Civil War. The premise of this being an age-old theory of what might happen had Lee won Gettysburg. Historically, Lee was to march on Washington and sue for peace and recognition from the Union. Well in 36 Hours, that didn’t go so well. Washington is now in Confederate hands and Baltimore is besieged.

Here’s a little work-in-progress for its “pitch.”

When Thomas Adkin signed up to go to war, he never imagined the horrors awaiting him.

The Confederate Army has captured Washington and have pushed further into Maryland, desperate to capture the port of Baltimore. It is here that the remnants of the Army of the Potomac makes its last stand below the Dixie Line. Below the battered walls of the city lay miles of blood-soaked trenches where Thomas and his four closest friends must withstand unfathomable barrages by enemy artillery, unceasing advances made by an enemy resupplied by England and the slow, unending toll of death and shell shock. Confederate President Jefferson Davis has sued for peace, and while the Union government deliberates over the next 36 Hours, they will stop at nothing to capture this last city and push the negotiations evermore in the South’s favor.

36 Hours is a steampunk alternate history novella inspired by the works of Erich Maria Remarque’s gut-wrenching novel “All Quiet on the Western Front.” It examines the question of friendship and loyalty during a time of utter madness and certain death. Its author is a long time history buff that is both fascinated and horrified by what mankind has done to itself over the last two hundred years.