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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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Ship
Picture by Alex Bobrov. Free for personal or commercial use.

June Excited, Jacobs Frantic

The sun was high over Wellington Road as the crowds gathered outside Trilobite Park, waiting for the doors to open for the first time. June Kim arrived a little later than she'd intended. In her eagerness for the opening, she'd almost left home without her briefcase, watch or shoes, and her mother had made her sit down and breathe deeply for ten minutes before letting June drive.

Now she was here, though – it was all happening! It was all real! The live trilobite aquarium was about to open. Look! Look at the news crews, all there for the occasion. Granted, some were trying to chase away a wild-eyed man in a white suit waving a 'UFO Survivors for 9/11 truth' banner, but -- news crews anyway. ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 7: The Big Day Begins"

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Barrels

The afternoon before Trilobite Park opened, Blake gathered the Paleontology Club met after school to meet with their supervisor. Her name was Mrs Vallerez, and she was a forty-year veteran of the public-school system. She had a no-nonsense attitude, shopped exclusively at 'Cardigan World' and though she had never been seen to smoke, she always stank of cigarettes – but boy, did she know her science.

"We all here?" she said. "Daisy, Blake, Juraj? If there's only three of you little f—fellows, how come I'm taking an excursion of twelve students into Trilobite park tomorrow?" ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 6: Barrels of Doom"

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Photo by rawpixel.com. Free for personal and commercial use

It felt out. Felt with the antennae of its mind. It needed something… No. It needed someone. Where? When?

Ah, yes. The touch pool. Three hours time. There it would find what it needed.

***

It was the day before Trilobite Park's opening, and Hay was just beginning to realise how deep she was in. She'd lied on her resume, and created a Certificate of Food Safety by using her only real skill, which was forgery. Now she was in charge of a large commercial kitchen ready for a gala opening, and with only the very foggiest notion of what to do to make food happen.

"Uh, man on the phone wants to know about our vegetable order," the head chef said.

"Okay, tell him… we'd like some vegetables." ...continue reading "Trilobite Park – Chapter 5: The Day Before"

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Construction site
Photo by pixabay,com. Released under Creative Commons 0.

Dr Kim's New Job

Trilobites.

Dr June Kim could hardly believe her luck. Trilobites! An entire museum dedicated to trilobites and her, June Kim the chief educational officer! but no – it was not just a museum. It was a zoo. An aquarium full of real, live trilobites! Her whole life had been leading to this job. She smiled internally, all the while maintaining a businesslike expression.

"This is where your office will be," Thag said, as he pointed to a semi-completed room, not very dissimilar to the dozens of other semi-complete rooms in the construction site. "Adjacent to it is the main education room. This is where you will interact with school groups, et cetera."

Thag was a short, burly, dark-skinned man with a thick beard, a heavy brow and a perpetually annoyed look. June had met him once before, when she had been studying at the University of Sydney. This had been shortly after Thag had been thawed from a glacier and was still being shown off at paleontology departments around the world. Thag had stuck in her memory as the only Neanderthal she had ever met, but he hadn't remembered her at all. Granted, he must have met hundreds of science undergrads before he'd tired of being a valuable specimen and left to study Human Resources management at the University of the Gold Coast. ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 1: Things Start Out Suboptimally"

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