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When the alarms went off and the lockdown locked down, Valerie had been in Thag's office, trying to find a suitable instructional video about ancient curses on YouTube.

"I think we were right about this place being cursed," she said, shouting over the klaxon.

"Yeah, I gathered," said the perpetually exasperated Thag, turning on his phone-light. "And now the internet has gone down. Great."

"What do we do now?"

"Me?" Thag said. "I'm HR Manager, so I'd better get to work saving peoples' lives and trying to stop the curse. You? You've been very helpful, but this isn't really your responsibility. You can just hide out here in my office, if you like."

"Now hold on, I'm the one who sold –" ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 17: Danger at Every Turn"

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After some serious deliberation the students and plumbers decided that, for safety's sake, the Prime Minister needed to be hidden. After a lot of arguing, no one was willing to accept responsibility for babysitting the nation's leader. In the end, they drew straws and June ended up responsible for finding a hidey hole for the doughy idiot.

Sighing deeper than she'd ever sighed before, she led Prime Minister Brett Blandson through the darkened corridors of Trilobite Park. "If we can make it to the security office, that barbarian woman can look after you," she said.

"I've got nothing against the Barbarian people," the PM said, "they've made a wonderful addition to this great country, but did she arrive legally? Or at least illegally, but by plane?"

"Shut up." ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 16: The Doom that Came to Room 12a"

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2

Barry stood behind Captain Pete's desk, a mixture or annoyed, bored and terrified. Annoyed because Captain Pete was dragging his feet on the paperwork, bored because watching the Captain slowly fill in paperwork was frankly dull, and terrified because a primordial trilobite spirit was scuttling ever closer to taking control of his body.

It was not a great day.

"And schedule D," he said.

"Aye."

"No, schedule D. There's no schedule I."

"Why, ye lubber…"

...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 14: The Trial of Metamorphosis"

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Change of schedule -- I'm finding it a little hard to write a 1000 word update once a week, so instead there will be two 500 word updates. Ideally, these will be Tuesday and Friday. Thanks, and hope you keep reading. Or start reading. Whatever.

In the education room, Maria and Lenore watched and sighed as the teenagers bickered about who would make the escape through the air ducts. The argument went on for nearly twenty minutes, until Juraj was selected by virtue of being the skinniest. The teens then unscrewed the access panel only to find that even skinny Juraj was much too broad-shouldered to fit in.

"Could have told them that," Lenore said. She was buffing her fingernails, which were surprisingly well groomed for a plumber. "If air ducts were big enough for people, they wouldn't be air ducts. They'd be corridors."

"So why didn't you tell them that?

"Eh, it was funny to watch."

"Good to see Aussie kids having a go," said the weird, creepy, fleshy guy who was hanging around. "You have to have a go to get a go, and if you get a go you have to have a go, because if you take your go then, fair dinkum..."

"Who were you again?" Maria asked.

"The Prime Minister." ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 13: Escape Impossible"

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In Canberra, miles away from the disaster at Trilobite Park, a hood was being yanked off the head of a handcuffed man. He blinked in the sudden brightness, and sneered at his captors.

"Taipan McGillacuddie?" came a voice.

"You know, the hood was kind of uncalled for," Taipan said. "I only have one eye. You could have just moved my eyepatch over onto it, and I couldn't have seen a thing."

"You have been –"

"I mean, I guess the hood was easier to pull over my head, but it's hot. Middle of summer, yeah?"

"You have been accused –"

"I don't even want to think about how my hair looks now," Taipan continued. "I know, I'm an ex-special forces hardass turned criminal, maybe I shouldn't be worried about the hair. But my mullet is my trademark, you know? Where am I anyhow? AFP headquarters?" ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 12: Downhill"

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Good news, my tens of loyal readers! My first novel, a steampunk adventure story (title TBC) is to be published early next year by the good people at Odyssey Books. Those who have been reading my South Hertling Chronicles will be pleased to know that this work will be professionally edited and much less rambling.

When I started writing this blog, the idea was to use it to get a little PR going in for when (if!) I ever managed to get my novel published. And this gave me an idea: there's lots of blogs where professional writers talk about writing and publishing and related ideas. Maybe I should do a similar blog, only from the point of view of someone who hasn't got a foot in the door yet.

But I wussed out. What would happen if I never got that foot in the door? All I'd have is this long, series about failures without a reversal of fortune as a payoff. A constant reminder of what might have been, like Miss Havisham's wedding dress only publically viewable to anyone with an internet connection. And the idea did not please me.

Which is a pity. I should have gone with it. I should have just recorded this journey. There are any number of successful people who can tell you about how they succeeded, but that's only half the story. If you want to succeed, you should not only know how people succeeded, but also how they failed. And I should have been brave enough to write about failure.

Not that I'm successful yet, of course. One of the things that's slowly seeping in is that I've been so focused on this first hurdle of finding a publisher, and now I have to move on and think about editing and marketing my book, working out the sequel (fingers crossed). Perhaps I'll write about some of that stuff. But more realistically, I'll just be hate-crushing on In Search Of… and writing little vaudeville routines about the good people of South Hertling. Either way I hope my readers will stick around – both of you.

Anyway, that's my rant. Buy my book when it comes out, it will be awesome.

PS – To all the nice people who try to spam their sites in comments and get killed in moderation: you are all very polite. Even though your praise of my blog is completely insincere, I still appreciate it.

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2

Control Room

When the lights went down, Jacobs the engineer didn't have time to wait for R17 to climb the stairs from the pump-room. He ran up them two at a time, tripped, fell on his face, turned on the flashlight on his phone, and ran up them again. Bursting from the pump-room door, he ran across the corridor into the Trilobite Park control room. Backup power was on inside the room indicated – for some reason – by a red incandescent bulb that the unknown original engineer had seen fit to install.

"Converse with me, humans," Jacobs said.

There was a long pause before a palid young man in an Aquaman t-shirt replied: "Do you mean 'talk to me people?'"

"Yes," Jacobs said, hoping that the reddening of this face wasn't visible in the crimson light. "That." ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 11: No Improvements Here"

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Jacobs and R17

In the cool damp bowels of Trilobite Park, Jacobs the chief engineer was heading towards apoplexy. The plumbers who he had hired were nowhere to be seen, the pumping room was full of smashed barrels and there actually seemed to be more pipes running spaghetti-like through the room.

"This is bad engineering," he said. "The engineering is just bad."

He noted that this wasn't much of a thing to say, but as there was no one there to hear him, he didn't suppose that it made a difference.

The robot R17 entered from upper doorway. "Beep," it said.

"No, stay there…" Jacobs began, too late to stop the thing from toppling down the stairs. ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 10: From Worse to Worserer"

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It sat in the cafeteria, swimming -- though out of water. It swam through a head, a brain… the brain of an air breather. The host was strange – its blood was warm, its skeleton internal. Instead of an armour of interlocking plates, it had a soft skin like a worm. And yet it would do. It would do!

***

Barry Hodges sat in the Trilobite Park cafeteria, drinking the worst coffee he'd ever tasted and listening to really lazily written narration from the prehistoric ghost-trilobite or whatever the Hell it was that had taken up residence in his head. To make matters worse, he couldn't manage to get Captain Pete to sit down with him and finish the paperwork. All in all, it was turning into a pretty shitty day.

***

It stared through the strange eyes of the one known as 'Bar-Ry.' The air-breather was… well, not resisting it as such. More ignoring it. It couldn't help feeling a little bit put out. But that wasn't the point. It had more important work to do… ...continue reading "Trilobite Park – Chapter 9: Barry’s Hassle"

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Cigarettes
Photo by Basil MK. Free for personal and commercial use

Valerie and Thag at Cafeteria

The doors were opened and the crowds slowly entered Trilobite Park. How they ooh-ed and aaah-ed with vague disbelief at the weird looking bug things in their tanks. For about five minutes. And then they sighed and settled in to look at more tanks of bugs, and realised that they kind of had to keep looking.

Phones were consulted. Watches were checked.

Valerie pushed her way through the crowd, looking for Thag. She found him by the cafeteria, chewing on a vanilla slice like it was a piece of rubber, manly tears in his heavy-lidded eyes. After Valerie greeted him, with obvious relief he threw the slice at the nearest bin. It bounced off at a weird angle, hitting him in the elbow and causing him to bite his lip. ...continue reading "Trilobite Park –Chapter 8: Continuing Difficulties"

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