Me playing 'Greensleeves' in the key of 'E'
I now have two supernatural novelette's out on Amazon Kindle.
One is called 'Ouija Board' and the other 'The Fiend of Chatham Hall'
The Crater Keeper
The Crater Keeper stood in black shadow and surveyed the trio of tiny figures as they laboured along the dusty crater bowl. How dare they invade his private domain, he thought angrily. This crater was his; he had been its only tenant for a thousand millenia and he meant it to stay that way. After all, it was his whole world. It was his home.
He had watched as their clumsy little craft had landed in a cloud of dust near the south crater wall, and he had waited while they left the craft and hopped clumsily across towards the wreck of the previous conveyance that had landed here in his crater. He had killed the tiny, soft-bodied creatures that had been in the first craft. They too had left their ship and had begun to poke around his crater digging up and stealing his rocks as well as cluttering up his tidy home with their rubbish.
He had noticed that the creatures moved around on a pair of wobbly appendages and had two more of the same sticking out from their sides with which they gathered things up. When he had approached the first group, they tried to scuttle back to their ship. He had caught them by surprise however, and angrily tore their flimsy little bodies apart. He thought that his action might have stopped any more of them from invading his privacy, but these creatures must be extremely stupid, because here were more of them for him to utterly destroy.
Tom Wallace, commander of Apollo 22, looked down at the mess at his feet. It was the remains of a spacesuit that had been pulled apart and scattered over a ten-yard area.
Jack Carter and Cy Jones, his fellow astronauts, joined him, and Carter bent down awkwardly in his spacesuit and picked up the helmet of the ruined suit. He turned it over to look in the faceplate and uttered a strangled cry as a pair of horror-filled eyes stared back at him from behind the cracked visor. He quickly threw the helmet away from him and turned to run, but Wallace caught his arm.
‘What’s the matter?’ his commander’s voice crackled in Carter’s radio.
‘It’s Jack Berry!’ Carter croaked, his eyes wide with fear. ‘It’s Jack Berry, but it’s only his fucking head!’
Wallace glanced down and saw that Carter was right. The helmet had landed visor up this time, and the decapitated head of Apollo 21’s commander could be seen staring sightlessly up at the dark lunar sky. Wallace swore and looked around; the other bits of commander Berry’s dismembered spacesuit must also contain the rest of his body. Looking further a-field, he saw that there were two other mangled spacesuits close to the wreck of 21’s Lander.
Cy Jones, pilot of Apollo 22, stood stock still with shock. His mind could not take in what he was seeing. How could this have happened? What disaster had overtaken the crew of Apollo 21? And how could their Lander look like a pile of scrap in a junk yard?
The Apollo 21 mission had blasted off from the cape six months previously and had landed safely in its pre-ordained spot here in Tycho crater. Tycho had been chosen as the landing site because of the overall smoothness of its bowl and the curious arrangement of a few surface rocks. The rocks looked as though they had been placed in a series of patterns across the crater’s bowl. Lunar observers on Earth had informed NASA that these rocks had periodically moved overnight. At first this information had been poo-pooed, until photographic evidence had confirmed the changes. The Apollo 21 mission had been instructed to survey the crater and look for any anomalous seismic activity that could cause the rocks to move. They were also to collect a quantity of specimens for analysis back on Earth.
The crew had been collecting samples about two hundred yards from their Lander when disaster overtook them. The helmet videos and audio links suddenly began to miss-function and Cap-com in Huston had trouble calling them up. Their last transmission had been a garbled cacophony of screams and shouts that there was something attacking them. The incredulous listeners on Earth had then lost all contact with the crew.
After a hurried debate, the US government decided to send a military mission to discover precisely what had happened on the moon, and to find out exactly what this ‘something’ was that had attacked the Apollo crew. Wallace, Carter, and Jones, three highly trained military astronauts were eventually dispatched to Tycho crater carrying with them an array of state of the art weaponry - just in case…
Tom Wallace flicked his com switch on and called up Earth. ‘Huston, this is Apollo 22 from Tycho crater. We have found commander Berry and his crew; but Huston, they have been torn limb from limb. There is no sign of whatever did this though, the crater is clear - no tracks or anything. Even commander Berry and his crew seem to have left no footprints.’
After a few seconds the reply came back from Earth. ‘Tom, what you are saying doesn’t make sense. How could Berry and his crew leave no footprints? The moon is airless and there is no wind to disturb the surface dust.’
‘Huston - I just don’t know.' He replied. 'All I can tell you is that it’s not a pretty sight up here, and nothing at all seems to make any sense!’
Tom started as he felt Carter grab his arm, and turned to see him pointing urgently toward the far crater wall. He looked up to see what had caused his colleague to tug with such urgency, and saw a glittering mass moving out from the inky shadows beneath the crater rim. The movement was still about a mile away, but he could tell the thing, whatever it was, must be enormous. As it moved out into the harsh, unblinking sunlight, it seemed to sparkle and shimmer as though it was made entirely of faceted glass. Even from that distance its surface looked to be in perpetual motion, just as if bright, shiny mirrors were moving around all over its surface.
Tom swallowed hard. ‘Arm up,’ he said slowly through his com, and un-slung his own pulse rifle.
‘What the fuck is it?’ Jones whispered, but could not see Tom shake his head inside his own helmet.
The men of Earth stood in a line with weapons at the ready as the thing moved silently towards them across the dusty crater bowl. Tom glanced over his shoulder and tried to calculate how long it would take them to get back to the Lander, over a quarter of a mile away. Too long in these cumbersome suits, he thought, and turned back to face the approaching mass. There was no way that the thing could be anything but hostile; the bodies of the Apollo 21 crew proved that, so he raised his weapon and barked out an order. ‘On my mark, rapid fire, let’s take the fucking thing down.’
At his command, the pulse rifles spat noiselessly into the vacuum and sent a hail of armour piercing shells across the intervening distance towards the advancing shiny ball.
Forty or so, high-velocity shells slammed into the mass with a force that blew shiny pieces of it all over the crater floor. The thing stopped for a moment and shivered, before coming on again; and, to the astonishment and total amazement of the Earthmen, the pieces blown off the glass monster seemed to move of their own free will and creep back to attach themselves once more onto the thing.
Tom hesitated only momentarily. ‘Grenades!’ he shouted, and from the holder beneath their rifles, three high-explosive missiles shot across the distance and slammed with titanic force into the monster. This time the grenades seemed to have done their job and the bulk of the thing was blown back into the shadows of the rim while great pieces of it were blown high into the dark sky to fall back slowly in the moon’s one-sixth gravity.
Nevertheless, as soon as the hundreds of shiny bits hit the crater floor, they once more seemed to glide back into the darkness to rejoin their host.
‘Jones, get back to the Lander and fire her up,’ Tom commanded, as it dawned on him that they were fighting a losing battle against this thing, whatever it was. ‘Carter,’ he added, ‘stay close by me and we’ll take it in turns to blast the thing while the other one hops back a few yards till we reach the Lander.’
Jones did not need telling twice; he bounded away with awkward, loping strides toward their distant refuge on the other side of the crater.
Meanwhile, as the moster emerged once more into the sunlight, Wallace sent another grenade at the thing and blew yet another hole through it, but once more, the bits reformed to make it whole again. Carter had leapt back a good few yards while his commander had fired, and now took his turn to attack the thing while Wallace bounded back to join him. They could not take a chance and make a run for it; the thing would have caught up to them before they had gotten half way. So, in this vein, they stopped the thing’s progress with every grenade while they made their way slowly back towards the Lander, and hopefully, safety.
Jones gained the ship at last and pulled himself up the ladder and into the airlock. He quickly equalised the pressure, then stripped off his suit and entered the module to ready the computer for lift off. It was imperative to compute the correct trajectory for rendezvous with the Orbiter; a millisecond too much thrust would see them miss their target and put the Lander on a course that would carry them off to wander forever among the stars. He had to get everything just right.
‘Okay Jack,’ Wallace shouted to Carter as he blasted another piece off the rapidly gaining ball before them. ‘Get back to the ship and tell Jones to lift off as soon as I’m in the airlock; don’t wait for me to de-suit, this is going to be close!’
Carter let fly with two more grenades and then turned and loped off in his turn to the Lander, now only fifty yards behind them.
Wallace continued firing pulse rounds and grenades at the thing while walking clumsily backwards all the time, but the thing must have sensed their intention and it did not bother to wait for the blown off bits to regroup, it came on at a frightening pace.
Wallace fired off the last of his grenades, threw down the rifle, and bounded with giant leaps towards the Lander. Every leap seemed to take an eternity for him to come down again, but he reached the ladder at last and scrambled up into the airlock.
‘Go,go,go!’ he gasped as he fell inside.
Jones shot a glance through the port window as he stabbed the lift button, and saw the shimmering bulk of the monster fast approaching from that side. The engines fired full thrust and the Lander lifted quickly from the crater floor among a cloud of dust, just evading a host of flashing, glassy tentacles that the thing reached out to try to grab them with.
The Crater Keeper watched in anger and frustration as the invader’s craft dwindled to nothing against the black of the lunar sky. He then compressed himself into a fifty-foot diameter ball and rolled back towards the crater rim, wiping away all traces of the invaders as he went. If they ever came back, he thought angrily, he would endeavour to get at them more quickly; he would grab and tear them apart. This was his crater, he had been first to land here, so long ago now that he had forgotten why, but he was determined to share it with no one, let alone these puny soft-bodied little creatures.
The Crater Keeper thought he was impregnable in this, his crater home; but he had reckoned without the tenacity of the creatures that had recently disturbed his solitude.
The invaders would indeed be back; but next time they would come in numbers and with devastating means to affect his annihilation.
They would avenge the death of their colleagues, and although the Crater Keeper thought otherwise, his days as keeper of the crater were now numbered.
© Don Lister 2012
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After working for forty years as a technician with British Gas and various other utility companies, I took early retirement in 2006. Even though I have been writing for more years than I care to remember, it is only during the last five years that I have found time to put in dedicated effort.
Always having a sort of 'wanderlust' in my blood, I have travelled extensively around the world whenever possible, (Australia, the Far East, Africa, and a dozen times around various states of the USA). They say that travel broadens the mind, well in my case that is certainly true, and the experience has undoubtably helped me in my writing.
I have had short stories, essays, and articles published in various magazines, and have won quite a few local short story competitions.
I particularly love writing about history, science fiction and the supernatural.
My first book was published in 2009. It is a collection of short stories entitled, 'A History In Shorts' and is about people and events during pivotal times in British history. The stories are fictional, but are set around real events and characters such as Francis Drake, Boudicea, Lord Nelson, Lady Godiva, King John, George 3rd etc etc. Also there are tales of how the Great Fire of London was really started, and the true identity of Jack the Ripper.
Other stories tell of ordinary people and their lot during traumatic times.
The book is available from Waterstones bookstores as well as Amazon and other sites on the web.
My second effort is currently touring the publishing circuit looking for the best deal. This is a book of supernatural novelettes.