Welcome to the family! (Site update)

I am pleased to announce that we have a new writer in the family! Kai Lance will have their first work published here tomorrow (Monday, June 20)!

The story tells of a fight to the death as one killer seeks another. The mission? Revenge!

Additionally, we have another new writer coming up soon with our first collaboration.

Those of you who enjoyed the satirical work of C.J.s will be pleased to know he’s returning with a brand new mini-series in collaboration with some new blood.

Things are starting to happen and we’re thrilled to see people getting their work out there.

So if you like any of the work, please like, subscribe and share.

Our mission is to get unknown (or little known) authors work’s out there, and we need your help!

And always, if you think you can write, head over to the submissions page and send us your stories!

All the best, and keep reading/writing!

(FINAL) Tales of a future backpacker – Series 1- Episode 6 By C.J. Quince

The winds cascaded down the hill.  Stephen had finally made it to the wild north, Scotland.  His months of travelling around Europe had shown him much, yet only fragments rise to the surface.  His previous summer had been spent in England, like so many former Commonwealth travellers he’d centred his time around London.  Now, finally, he was in the former British state of Scotland.  The towering symbol of timeless strength that was Arthur’s seat towered over the Edinburgh below.  Stephen sat atop an outcropping of the large mountainous rock and watched the sunset.  It was a strange and melancholy place to visit after all the peaceful travel throughout Eastern Europe.  To enter Scotland was to take risks, but he couldn’t play it safe all his life.  Thinking of the disruptions between Scotland and England that had been going on for centuries made him think about the ever changing format of Europe and its people.  The European Union had brought them together, but had also sewed the seeds of its own distruction.  The people couldn’t get along, they fought, they bickered, and the broke up.  It was a problematic polyamourous marriage that was perhaps as doomed as the Soviet empire generations before.
Smoke filled his nostrils.  That surprised him.  He hadn’t expected it to reach all the way up to his vantage point. 
Politics.  Was that what did it? Ineffective English leaders led to dissent in the other territories.  Or are the politicians merely an extension of the problematic human condition.  If it weren’t them stuffing it up we’d be arguing over a football match and divorcing each other over the colour of the furniture.
‘Geesh, you’re a depressed son of a bitch,’ he thought out loud.  It had to be the surroundings that did it.  Endless hills rolled onwards into the famed highlands in one direction.  Once a keen tourist destination, now too dangerous due to the hairy mountain cows gaining a taste for human flesh.
In the other, the burning ruins of a once fine city now infested with previously domesticated animals gone wild. 
Stephen picked himself up and made his way back to his tiny one person tent.  He would camp here and hitch back to England.  Carefully.  The once United Kingdom wasn’t a place to take lightly.  His first round of travels was complete. 

Tales of a future backpacker – Series 1- Episode 5 By C.J. Quince

Three times that damned alarm had gone off.  Everyone in the hostel was either awake or pretending they weren’t.  It was eight in the morning, and the alarm had started at six.  It wasn’t clear what was causing the disruption.  It didn’t really matter, Stephen reflected, as long as it stopped.  Nevertheless, as bleary eyed nocturnal adventurers emerged from their rooms, they offered the same question in a variety of accents.  ‘What’s making that noise?’  As if knowing would somehow diminish the pain and allow everyone to return to slumber.
It wasn’t a fire alarm, it was more like a bell from a school that would blast away for ten seconds and then stop, only to return an hour or so later.
Perhaps, Stephen continued to ponder, it was merely a natural response to the human endevour of control.  If we can’t stop the sound, then we can at least own the knowledge of what the bloody thing is.

He made his way down the stairs and exited the building.  On the street outside the hostel, an old gray bricked building (a common sight in most former communist states), the smell of the morning commute mixed with shit invaded his nostrils.  Locals moved about on their way to work; the purposeful way in which they moved gave it away.
The area was in contrast to the cheap hostel.  It contained middle class to wealthy Moscovites who were well dressed, plump, yet stony faced (as is typical of the territory).  The alarm sounded up again and reverberated across the street. Stephen hadn’t realised how far it projected.  The well to do office and retail workers, administrators and government representatives all looked around in confusion, their beat suddenly interrupted.
There was just enough adaptability in their stride to allow them to continue, but only after the alarm ceased.  A woman in designer boots kicked a wild cat that had strayed too close to the human traffic. 
Yep, back to normal.


The backpackers who emerged to place their snuff under their noses and stretch in the cold air contained little momentum; nothing to interrupt.  There were no signs of the archaic cigarettes that once dominated the morning routine.  They were long extinct.  Gone the way of the dodo, non-hydroponic open air farming and honest politicians.  Nevertheless, while the snuff of today’s bad habbits inflicted no passive ill health, it was a well-practised routine that one would go outside of a building to partake in it.  Once derided as a toxic drug only used in areas of poverty, it was legitimised the only way that matters.  Legalisation (and subsequent taxes).  Since then, it was the go-to drug.  Not as damaging as anything illegal, did nothing to impact the lungs and hampered the consciousness less (although with automated vehicular transport now commonplace, no one had to worry about losing their licence).
One New Zealander exited the building after Stephen and walked up and down the footpath pumping her legs and rubbing her arms.  Her breath was visible from the other side of the street.
‘Fark,’ she crowed, ‘how cold is it?’
‘Will knowing make you warmer?’ Stephen asked, not realising that his voice carried to her.
‘Kicking your bum will smart arse,’ she frowned. 
‘Fair enough,’ Stephen’s cheeks flushed.  He did feel a tad warmer suddenly.

Tales of a future backpacker – Series 1- Episode 4 By C.J. Quince

‘What are you nuts?’ The young German woman cried in protest.  ‘That’s just stupid.’  Her comments left little ambiguity as to her feelings. The French man, clean cut and easily offended, objected to his companion’s comments with gusto.  The English woman, several years their senior, cut in. 
‘You’re both wrong-‘ and on it went.  It seemed to be a whirlpool of discontent that fed itself in perpetuity.  Stephen stood up from the table and walked to the bar to get another drink.  An act that was of course outdated and unnecessary given the automation of service to one’s table, but it gave him an excuse to step away from the conversation. The pub smelled of dank carpet and beer.  It seemed no matter how advanced service had become, there was no changing the inability of some to get their vessel to their mouths.
It had begun, like many arguments, about something seemingly innocuous. What to have for dinner.  National pride began to stoke up enthusiasm about what to have and then it branched off to which type of cheese was superior.  Stephen had made a rudimentary attempt to study European history before his travels began, and as any student of this noble discipline knows, nationalism is for twats.  Borders change, people move, they interbreed, attack one group then ally with them. Sometimes all within the same year.  This incredible mix of circumstances contrives to create borders and flags which exist in such a fluid state, that even this table of 20 somethings has seen many morph into new forms. This merely outlines how ridiculous it is to attach one’s self to a mythical idea wrapped around a geographical location.
Stephen sighed wearily and returned to the table.  He sipped his fragrant beer and tried to dodge the question that was suddenly hurled at him.
‘Well? Which cheese do you prefer?’  The three nations sat staring at him, generations of cheese makers reputation’s were on the line. It all came down to this one backpacker in a bar in Prague, where the beer is served like water yet somehow cheaper.  The medieval architecture towered over him, the icy central European winds battered against the pub’s windows; the world held its breath.
‘Well,’ he took another sip of beer, elongating the dramatic pause.  ‘It probably doesn’t matter anymore, not since cows have been extinct for so long.’
‘Hmm, yeah,’ they quietly agreed.
‘You’re really just comparing science, who creates better whatevers in a lab.’ He paused as he took a sip, realising his mistake.
‘Well,’ said the German woman, ‘we are the best at science, and Engineering.’
‘We invented the lightbulb,’ the English woman said.
‘Wasn’t that an American?’
‘Well he was probably British at the time.’
‘What is a cow anyway-‘.  Stephen sighed again and took his pleasant and easy to drink Czech beer for a walk.  He looked out the window as the cool Autumn took over the city.  As long as he kept looking up, there was plenty to see.

Tales of a future backpacker – Series 1- Episode 3 By C.J. Quince

‘Why does no one smile?’ Cherry asked, her question echoed around the room.  Stephen had been exploring streets, sites and sights and talking to people for several weeks now, throughout various patches of what is sometimes called ‘Eastern Europe’.  The term is outdated*, but still continues as it is apparently useful for people to categorise.  ‘You’re the ones that were once in Yugoslavia’ for instance, ‘you were the ones who were once in Ukraine’, and ‘you were the ones who don’t smile,’ apparently. 
He had met Cherry at his current hostel and was occupying a nearby space in the shared dining area when she began talking about her travels.  There were several people in the room, all sitting apart from each other, as was standard practice, except for a couple that was canoodling in one corner near the wifi router that blinked in protest through a carpet of dust. The smell of someone’s spicy cooking had seeped into the farthest reaches of the shared space.
 
Someone had mentioned how tea was an English drink and Cherry had, without an invitation, begun to recite all the places in the world, that she had evidently been and was now therefore the authority on, that also enjoy tea as a national drink.  Stephen noted that these facts didn’t seem to contradict the first, as surely many countries can have the same national drink.  Also, in a room full of travellers, rattling on about your own travels seems kind of like talking about your favourite meat pie in a pie shop.  Yet Cherry was delivering her list with the enthusiasm of a rebuttal.  Her braggart style wore thin and heads turned away with disinterest.  Stephen was studying his watch as it projected a list of things to do in the city.  It was then that Cherry, apparently unaware of the alienation of herself that had just occurred, espoused the accusation, framed as a question.
‘What do you mean?’ some bored soul offered, as one might to a colleague in a lunch room who was rambling bigoted nonsense.  Or perhaps one who might stick their fingers into the orifice of a potentially violent organism.
‘Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve never had a single person smile when they serve me, it’s nothing like home.’
Stephen wanted to point out that a people who had been repressed for hundreds of years and who had only experienced a few decades of freedom at the turn of the century, only to have it taken away again, weren’t likely to bow and scrape to the whims of a backpacker spending a few dollars a day.  It was either indifference or cowardice that kept him from speaking, but when no response was forthcoming, she finally ceased her protests. 
The crowd was suddenly distracted by the screech of a large winged animal as it flew past the second story window.  The teeth shone through in a kind of inhuman smirk.
‘Why is smiling so important?’ Stephen thought.  ‘Someone who smiles can be a horrible person, yet a gentle positive person may stay their face muscles.’  He stood up and left to begin exploring his latest city, and made a special point of smiling to everyone on the way out.

*More and more areas are referred to as ‘Western Russia’

Tales of a future backpacker – Series 1- Episode 2 By C.J. Quince

Stephen passed a billboard as it flickered from an image of a naked woman wearing nipple tape and a g-string (he thought it was an ad for teeth whitening but couldn’t be sure).  A trailer began to play for the latest film on Disney’s Amazon streaming service^.  The latest Avengers reboot was a remake of the previous reboot, but now batman was fighting mickey mouse. 
Distracted momentarily, Stephen allowed his thoughts to return to his current task.  Looking down at his black watch, it bleeped at him to indicate that he was nearly at his destination.  The surly accommodation, buried within an old soviet era brick building, admitted Stephen with a creak of an old metal door as he scanned his device to prove his reservation.  A cleansing mist showered him as he entered.  Thoroughly sterilised, for which he was eternally grateful as the dusty streets outside had a potent stink of decay about them, he moved up the stairs in search of the reception.  The outside odour was even more offensive than Australia (and that was saying something) and similar, but not quite on par with England where he had been staying for some months, earning extra cash#. He’d spent that time trying to understand peoples’ speech patterns.  He had been assured that it was just their varied accents.  However, he wasn’t sure that perhaps he was merely encountering an endless sea of people with speech impediments.

‘Hello,’ said a woman with an olive complexion and long dark hair as he ascended the stairs and reached the hostel reception.  Her eyebrows were 3D printed purple mohawks doing caterpillar impersonations.  Stephen noted this as they were the least glaring constructs he’d seen on a woman in many years.
‘Oh, I didn’t expect an actual person,’ he fumbled, waving his wrist around in circular motions, imitating either a wave of greeting or the actions of a non-plussed window cleaner.  He estimated the hostel scanner’s location on the fifty-year-old metal desk that was leaning to one side.
‘Sure,’ the woman replied with an accent he couldn’t quite place.  She could have been Asian, maybe Kazakh.  He remembered an old documentary with a man with a crazy hairstyle, she looked a little like that. ‘We’re old school here, can’t afford the tech required for a digital assistant.’
‘Oh, yeah, sorry,’ Stephen fumbled again as she gestured for him to stop contorting his body, the watch had apparently been scanned and his identification verified.
‘Do you agree,’ she started in a bored monotone that said she read this out five times a day and had long stopped caring about the message, ‘to the following terms and conditions?’ She rambled on as tedious text scrolled on Stephen’s watch.  He didn’t have the implant so instead had to read the projected screen with some ten to fifteen swipes worth of content. ‘… upon forfeiture of all your civil liberties.’ She concluded.
‘Yes.  Wait, what was that last bit?’
She appeared not to have heard him and signed off on the agreement.
‘I have updated your device, it will direct you to your room.  Curfew is standard, midnight we’re closed.’ Seemingly completing the official proceedings, the young woman took on a more relaxed tone and casual demeanour. ‘How is your trip so far?’
‘Good,’ Stephen replied. He wasn’t sure how these things were supposed to go, so he kept it simple, ‘how’s business?’
‘Not bad. We’re finally bouncing back.’
‘Yeah, COVID was rough,’ Stephen nodded.
‘Which one?’ The woman paused before changing tracks in a heartbeat. ‘So where are you from?’
‘Australia, but I’ve been living in The Kingdom lately.’
‘The Kingdom?’
‘You know, England.’
‘Oh, right.  You should try the frontier.’
‘The what?’
‘You know, Scotland.’
‘Yeah, I’ve heard it’s nice.’ 
‘Shame about all the deaths.’ 
‘Yeah.’
‘The revolution was rough.’
‘Which one?’
‘Yeah,’ she replied as they shared a solemn moment reflecting on mortality and existence. ‘Plenty of cheap pubs nearby if you want to get shit faced,’ she waved a hand, her shoulder snapped back into place, and Stephen’s watch buzzed with blips on his map and recommendations.
‘Thanks, I’ll get settled in and have a look around.’ He followed his watch and made his way to the room.  They were all single rooms now, of course.  The last in a series of pandemics finally did what common sense, decency and basic respect couldn’t and obliterated all shared room accommodation.  He swiped away the three messages he’d received confirming that he’d checked in and more recommendations came from the Disney booking agency.  He swiped away a fourth that read ‘thinking of visiting Scotland?’ without a second thought.  The room was tiny and impersonal, it was the perfect place to start his journey.

^ only available on i-implantstm

# Not literally of course, but the term still remained in the lexicon.

Tales of a future backpacker – Series 1- Episode 1 By C.J. Quince

Stephen moved through the winding streets of dank ground and puddles illuminated by neon lights from a small selection of the rainbow.  Something scampered by, it could have been a rodent, but with the proliferation of wild cats across Europe, it was more likely a feline in search of prey.  He moved a little faster, hoping that he didn’t look too tasty.  Stephen adjusted his burden by moving his right shoulder every time it slipped or seemed to jag into his muscles.  His legs were tired, his back ached, but he was doing what he loved.  Finally, after years of saving up (saving= investing in various Bit currencies and watching the endless stream of money flawlessly role in), he was backpacking.  It was, admittedly, a little passe.  Stephen had grown up admiring the ‘selfies of the greats’.  They were the admired generation, those who moved around before society fell into disrepair.  They lived by the seemingly ancient #YOLO philosophy, although no one remembered what it stood for.  In reality, by the 2020s it was already cliched for Australians, Canadians, Kiwis (not United States citizens, they held an eternal allergy to holding a passport and looking out into the world)* to move about in entitled ways and judge other poorer countries for not living up to their expectations.  But that was well in the past, so far in fact that it had already become trendy in a retro nostalgic kind of way, gone out of fashion again and was coming back once more.  

***

* This was outlined especially during the riots after it was proposed that four European teams might join the World Series baseball.  #onlyAmericansinworldseries trended for weeks.  The president started it and openly encouraged people to express their second amendment rights – The right to Tweet without obstruction<>.  After the riots, he was impeached and removed from office because his behaviour was so apparent even vested interests couldn’t let those in charge wilfully engage in selective ignorance and hypocrisy.

<>This was of course the new second amendment, which occurred after the constitution was rewritten one quiet afternoon without any complaints or a single death.

Nameless – Series 1 – Part 6 (Final)

Rhys had seconds before he would face either the mysterious woman or the ravenous force of creatures hurtling up the fire stairs.  With odds like that, it was a simple choice.
He turned and didn’t need his sense to see her.  She stopped in the dark hallway, watched him like he was prey, cornered.  She maintained her human form, but her fingernails grew into claws, her teeth began to extend.
‘Why don’t you show your true face?’ He asked, stepping towards her.
‘We are more human than you know.’
‘I can see that.  Organised crime, taking advantage of the poor, we’ve taught you well.’
‘Spare me.  We deserve our place.’
‘Your place is at the end of my blade.’
‘We have plans for you. You’ll know soon enough,’ she snarled.  The morning sun began to splinter through the windows, she flinched.  Rhys didn’t.  He raised his pistol and fired until the clip was emptied.  The shapeshifter moved with superhuman speed, the shots going wide, but she stumbled with a grunt.  The last bullet struck home, then Rhys’s blade followed suit.  She cried out in pain.  Rhys withdrew as the claws flashed at him, ripping his jacket.  The light body armour underneath was ruined but had saved him from taking damage.  She pounced, her strength hadn’t left her yet.  Her face began to deform as she pinned Rhys to the ground.  His blade clattered to the floor, he ignored it.  Her forehead began to protrude, her eyes grew black and wider, then her bony skull made contact and he saw stars.  He tasted blood as he struggled for his life. She was a blur even at this distance.  His vision cleared just enough that he could see her fangs bearing down on his jugular, her breath stank of death.  His thoughts went to his right hand. In a split second his mind caught up with his actions.  Yes, he had retrieved the second short blade from his jacket.  He thrust it home deep into the creature’s rib cage.  She cried in pain but relented enough for Rhys to drive the blade further and push her aside.  He staggered to one side, still dizzy, collected his weapons before looking back at the sorry creature.
‘We just wanted a home,’ she coughed.  ‘Taxia is coming,’ before her light faded. 
‘Home? Who or what is Taxia?’ He pondered for a moment as the body began to fade, its structure collapsed quickly and in minutes there would be nothing left but her clothing.  An anomaly of evolution he was familiar with but was beyond his comprehension. 
With a crash the fire door tore open and a dozen creatures, claws and fangs, reaching sinewy arms, came tearing towards him.  He’d overstayed his welcome, but the lift would be too slow. 
He ran to the closest window and struck it with his blade. It cracked but not enough.  He turned and backed up against the glass, one hand on his weapon, the other palm against the glass.  The creatures had halved the distance already and would be on him in just a few more long strides.  He panicked and screwed his eyes shut and drew on his powers. He didn’t know why but it was the only thing he knew.  His sense kicked into overdrive, and he could detect hundreds, no, thousands of creatures throughout the city, and Descartes, there he was, not far after all.  They would detect him also, but it mattered little.  What good would this knowledge do him as he gets torn to shreds? 
Only a second had passed, he opened his eyes, and the creatures were almost on him, but they faltered for a moment.  He couldn’t understand why until he felt incredible power, similar to heat, but not as ferocious, more focused.  It was emanating from his left hand.  His palm was still on the window, and with a thought, the energy transferred to the glass, and it shattered into a rain of shards.  Acting on instinct alone, Rhys fell backward, allowing his body to head stories below towards the concrete and pavement.  As the view of the top floor faded, he noticed the creatures flinch backward away from the light.  They no longer concerned him.  The fall was less than three seconds, he estimated, yet seemed to occur in slow motion.  He managed to turn his body slightly so that his left hand, still radiating energy, faced the ground.  As he was at the point of collision, he unleashed it.  The force halted his descent but then spun him around a dozen times before he hit the ground with a crash, and everything went black.

‘Rhys, Rhys,’ he heard a distant voice.  ‘It’s Yun, come on, get up I can’t carry you, you heavy Húndàn. We have to go, now!’

***

‘So,’ said the silent man, ‘he killed his woman, but the snake got away.’
‘Yes,’ the stranger said, drinking his liquor, his breath stained the air, ‘but they would meet again very soon.’

News

Submissions are now open!

If you would like a chance for your work to be published on our site, just e-mail it to this address opinionatedchicken@gmail.com

Check out the SUBMISSIONS page (in the top menu) for full details.

Coming up tomorrow is the series finale of The Nameless written by me (T.W.). I don’t want this website to be my own vanity project, but it was nice to put something out there to get the ball rolling. I’m hoping that if some submissions start rolling in then you’ll be seeing less and less of my work and more and more of yours!

On that note, we have a new series starting next week, a futuristic satire on the world of backpacking. The writer, C.J. Quince, who has recently been published in the Australian based UNTITLED issue 9 short stories anthology, has delivered a witty journey into future society, or is it today?

We won’t always aim to publish mini-series, our goal is for stand-alone 1000 words or less stories. But to get the ball rolling, I am pleased to start with some series.

Until next time, keep reading, keep writing, and please Like and Follow.

All the best,

T.W.

Nameless – Series 1 – Part 5

Rhys slipped past the two guards.  They were the same he’d seen almost twenty-four hours prior and still as tense.  But they were strung out, getting sloppy.
Rhys had taken over from Yun at midnight, as agreed.  The night had yielded enough intelligence to add to Yun’s observations.  The front entrance was being used for legitimate business.  The back entrance, the alley, was used to ferry Descartes’s agents to and from the facility.  Using some simple night vision combined with his own sense, Rhys established a routine for the evening.  Descartes’s agents moved about the building in response to stimuli he couldn’t see.  Intel, communications from around the city were most likely.  The guards that patrolled, plain-clothed and even some dressed as janitorial staff, were all human.  The worst kind, traitors to humanity making a deal with the devil.  It was possible some of them didn’t know for whom they worked. In Rhys’s experience, some were incredibly close to the head of operations, and were privy to such horrifying revelations and still willingly signed their lives away.


Once inside the building, Rhys followed through with his plan.  He could sense that the highest concentration of creatures was in the basement. They liked the dark and the damp.  But there was some sign of activity on the top two floors.  Descartes was different; he wanted to lead from the front and wouldn’t hide in the shadows any longer than he needed to.  It must be him.
Rhys held back from sensing his way.  If he reached out to feel them, then they may sense him.  Instead, he took the dimly lit fire escape internal stairs to the very top.  With a click, the lock was persuaded to permit him.  Rhys held his blade in his left hand, running down his forearm, while his right clasped a silenced pistol, courtesy Yun’s contacts on the dark web.
The top floor seemed built for someone’s ego.  The hallway leads directly to the head office.  Smaller offices were arrayed around it but were easily ignored.  The two heavy-set doors were his target.  If this worked, the snake’s head would fall, and the Nameless would fall back into the shadows where he could easily hunt them down.  Years of hunting and raids on nests in the wilderness sent shivers down his spine.  But, he had become adept at the practice and was prepared to return to it.  Here, with technology, money, blackmail, Rhys was out of his depth.  But it could all end now, in the early morning sun that had begun to creep into the windows. A new dawn.
Rhys clicked the lock, his blade was versatile, and crept into the darkened room.  He stayed low, looked around in the dark. He could smell of office furniture, plastic, oak and… something else.  With a silent shiver he realised that he wasn’t alone and that whoever was hiding in the large room knew he was there.
He opened up his sense, knowing that it would give him away to anything this close, but that such a discovery was, at present, redundant.
There was one figure, it lit up in his mind’s eye on the other side of the room.  Was it Descartes? No.
‘He was right, you are closing in,’ a female voice floated to him.  An eastern European accent, who was she?
Rhys stood, readied his body.
‘Where is he?’ He demanded.
‘Away from here.  He’ll be disappointed he missed you.  But some of his guards are below and on their way up.’  There was a smirk evident in her tone.  ‘But, you know that, don’t you.  You have our abilities, at least some of them.  But you are like a child, stumbling in the dark.  There are many things we have planned for you. Why don’t you stay, and Descartes will fill you in.’
There was no point in staying. He could sense the dozen or so things below making their way up towards him. They’d be there in less than a minute, their deformed bodies moving at incredible speeds.
‘Perhaps another time.’  Rhys withdrew. He made for the fire escape but realised that the Nameless were using it.  The lifts would be a death trap.  The woman was in pursuit.  She was right behind him, and he was surrounded.

To be continued…