August Short Story: Happy Hour

This story was first serialised in 31 daily parts during August 2020 via the @MoveablePress and @InternetofWords Twitter feeds [9am and 5pm GMT respectively.] It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.

It also forms the basis of a larger, flash fiction (250 words) based narrative under the umbrella title of ‘The Nexus Bar and Grill’ which is available to read and enjoy for $15 a month (plus a ton of other content) on my Patreon.

Click here to become a Patron.


Happy Hour

Prophet Red Amis, adjunct of Chan, First of the Ears of Foundation, now grasps a place in the Universe.

During day three in the asteroid belt, between too much alcohol and far too little sleep, for the first time more than just their thoughts can be heard in the womxn’s brain. Amis isn’t sure at first, wonders perhaps this could be more interference on the container’s comlink: it wouldn’t be the first time since they left Moon orbit, except that’s crew commands, machine chatter. This is music, unlike anything they’ve heard; sad, yet achingly beautiful.

Within the flowing progressions, without doubt, are words: sudden panic sets in, need to write communication down before it’s forgotten. The basic Container Plus cabin deal is BBS: bed, bathroom, screen. It is a good thing all Firsts are taught Lateral Thinking during training. The Prophet wouldn’t be here in the first place had they not exhibited exemplary skills during their final year of Psychic Attunement. With no idea of how much more might yet be revealed, or what revelations subsequently could emerge, this impromptu space must be used with care.

Looking down to their right index finger, a spot of blood appears on command.

Let First Words be drawn; Mind will record, message from history that contains everything.

‘their Past reminds
no action fixed
take Present tense
control, defined
Future is ours
all in good time…’


There are rules here, just like anywhere else. Be respectful and polite; no Swipe no Drink, Jukebox Ver. 3.5 is all we have. Please stop asking ‘why not a karaoke upgrade?’ The United Space Agencies never considered catering or entertainment as priorities and probably never will. This ship is not a luxury liner, it’s a scheduled transport, so expecting waiter service or me to come bring breakfast to your cabin ain’t happening. Once this trip took seven months, now it’s six weeks, because two thirds of this bucket is matter engines, and we’re just screwed on the front.

You can do Earth to Mars in 42 days on the Mankind’s Optimism, so why would anybody want to live in a converted container for that long? They do though, without fail. Sixteen fools shoved into cargo space. I’d never wanna be that close to the engines. That’s why I sleep in here. Between freezer and grill’s been home now for almost a decade: not gonna lie, it’s the best job ever. Pay’s going straight into Mineral Bonds: four trips from now I get to retire, for good. I’m going back to the Moon, home to the dark side. There’s a poetry in that I appreciate.

Not the Sith, Syd Barrett: quintessentially English singer, songwriter, musician who co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965. I was born exactly 100 years after the band was formed, in the place they made musically their own. I know he left them before that album was made… Don’t start with me about music trivia, because not only will I own your ass, but set fire to it before ejecting the ashes into space. Welcome to the Nexus Bar and Grill: I am your host, sous chef, fry cook and the only guy on board who knows all the porn channel access codes.

NOBODY is having sex on this bucket, of that you can be absolutely assured: everybody has personal VR however, so this is the currency that really matters. Except today, maybe there is more to consume these 46 claustrophobic minds than just trivia quizzes and personal pleasure… Today is different. Can’t tell you why, no means to describe it: start with the best night’s sleep I’ve had for dunno how long, maybe since a bed on a planet and not this hammock in space. Everything seems… brighter, cleaner. That’s actually a thing, especially here – I’m late.

05:45 ship time: technically I gotta open for business in fifteen, except nobody’s awake until at least 08:00. Except, today there he sits, surly, outside the glass, staring at a space where I’ll stand to start warming up the grills. It’s only an illusion, but still. He’s creepy.

Today, he can sit: I’m gonna watch him for a change.


This is an odd man, undoubtedly, and I’d wager he’s gaining particular pleasure trying to unsettle me. In all my years as an OffWorld Process Server this has to be the most convoluted subpoena process I’ve ever instigated. It’s also fair to say my client is one of the most obnoxiously horrendous individuals I have ever met. What motivates me, right now, is the effectively free round trip to and from the Red Planet, plus a pay cheque that will cancel every outstanding debt I’ve accrued in 35 years.

He believes I’m male, they all do, because no womxn would be stupid enough to do this. You’d think in this day and age people would grasp that there’s more to humanity’s continuing future than dicks and holes, but nope, evolution still has quite a long way to go in that regard. As I sit here, waiting to alter this cook’s future forever, not for the first time does it all feel like a massive waste. When I’m debt free, what then? There’s no plan, never has been. I am, and remain, without a purpose. The thread of motivation is close to breaking for good.

If I were a religious person, would this be easier?


Any perfect storm, when it arrives, is never expected. Universal chaos sees to that, part of the game plan only when you grasp enough of the rules to see beyond your own personal gravity. Humanity’s problem is perception. All these separate, disparate existences, waiting for some undefinable cosmic magic to weave around them, drawing consequences to results, potentials from outcomes. A long time ago a human being speculated how such threads in cosmic chaos might be predicted, and was right, but…

…only to the point where mankind was somehow the most important factor to consider. That’s where Isaac Asimov was wrong. If Humanity were the only intelligent life that existed in the Universe, his theories might have held more credence. They are not alone, just as yet unaware. Those who understand that time’s linear nature is the most dangerous restriction ever placed in a human mind, also grasp that assuming you are the most morally superior intelligence because there’s never been anything else as comparison will undoubtedly present consequences.

When the arrogant look back on their First Contact experience, in centuries to come, history will, as it always does, conveniently forget their contribution. Those of us able to look both back and forward grasp the significance of painting a bigger picture, with broader strokes. Except if Humanity is ever truly to evolve past its inescapable ego, it is a moment for those individual’s outlooks to be presented, challenged and summarily reinvented. Our job here is simple: provide the tools, step back, and see if the semi ape-descendants can bring the goods.

It’s all we’ve ever done since the dawn of this Universe.

Let’s just not talk about how we broke the last one and had to start again, okay?


Prophet Red Amis, adjunct of Chan, First of the Ears of Foundation, regains consciousness and takes a moment to grasp what happened.

This ship is no longer moving. Rapid deceleration normally indicates engine failure, yet if that were true there’d be alarms, compartments sealing automatically, panic. None of these currently exist. The Prophet is aware everyone else is unconscious except two unaffected minds. A male cook, plus the asexual courier remain unaware of what is transpiring around them. Nothing in their worlds has altered, not one iota, yet the Prophet understands, only too well, absolutely everything else has. Then there is that third presence, directly outside their cabin.

As old as the Universe, and that which had come before, ancient energy regards Red Amis with increasing interest. This arrival, overheard by accident, significance of moment already grasped; suddenly removed from linear time, womxn resisted command sent to everyone else to sleep.

You are aware of my energy, not afraid of its origin

“You are a prophecy I have grasped since childhood.”

Red Amis speaks to the space where before was nothing and now exists… motion, fractal expansion, molecules that hold no human form yet are undoubtedly human in origin… before blissfully for a second, two entities become the same, one space for the same atoms, seamlessly overlapping before suddenly, the presence has vanished.

Then, all the womxn can do is laugh, because the answer to everything was only ever going to be another question.


For exactly seven minutes and twelve seconds on September 21st, 2099, the container vessel NSS Utopia Planitia appeared to vanish before reappearing on Martian radar. Automated reporting put this down to a system glitch.

History would remember it with slightly more significance.


The Last Time

An awful lot got done this last week, but not nearly enough. It’s always the way, you provision time for things to be completed, and then it becomes apparent that you’ve massively underestimated the amount of work required. I am becoming fantastic at this, and therefore there needs to be a bit of a rethink over the time management side of things. Fortunately all of this effort is front-loading. It’s architecture, and that always takes the most effort.

After this, everything gets considerably easier. I just bolt stuff on top and suddenly, there’s content. I’ve seen other people state that learning how to project manage is the skill they wish they’d properly grasped before starting anything. Nothing is ever an exact science. I get, thanks to exercise, how a shift of one muscle group or a rethink of your body placement can be the difference between success or failure. Again, that just has to be translated to my other issues to address.

This is me, permanently shifting stance to maintain balance.

The latest piece of Patreon content is out this month, and (honestly) this is the best thing I’ve made this year. I’m charging a five a month, more or less, for people to read it and although some days the process feels like pulling teeth, it is worth the effort. This month we’ll have a digital print to sell too which I need to do some research on in terms of sales. I’m going to do a run of 25 ‘prints’ all numbered which my daughter and I will sign. When she makes it big in the future, she’ll be the signature everybody wants 😀

Me, I’m here to make some money to pay for web hosting and printing materials. Just trying to break even at this time is the goal, or to get a decent amount of cash for my time. There is a break even point I have notionally aimed for, and when that is reached then I know there’s real, tangible progress. Until then, yet again, it’s all architecture. The foundations are placed, you build walls, a way in and out, and incentives for people to come and stay.

That’s all you will ever realistically be able to achieve.

If you’re a Patron, there’ll be space for you soon here that’s exclusively yours and nobody else’s. I’ll provide passwords by the end of this week assuming that everything goes to plan… but who knows what will happen between there and now. I’ve watched the World go south a few times this year, and coping is getting easier each time. In this case, one can only hope that it’s not a major disaster close to home.

That’s the thing about life right now, you never quite know what to expect…

Ballroom Blitz

Oh look, we’re back… when I say that it makes it sound like everything is organised and finished, when the reality is that an awful lot of is sitting, waiting to be fixed. In Good News [TM] we have timescales now, and realistic levels of expectation. Welcome to the New Normal, and there’s quite a lot of stuff to catch up on so let’s get started.

This month, and in fact going forward long term, we’ll be sticking Instagram and website content into a combined output. It makes more sense to not keep trying to be lots of different things across multiple platforms, and to focus effort on content over variety. Therefore, if you follow my Instagram, you’ll see me using that this month as a means to deal with the COVID stuff, how I make ART as a CREATIVE, and some other bits too. It also becomes the way I’ll tell you how my efforts to become FAMOUS are going, or not, as the case may be.

On that front, we made it to a shortlist proper for the first time last month with some poetry. We’ll keep plugging away at that side of things in tandem with self-publication, which is going to happen before Christmas. That work begins in September, and I’m already looking forward to the output, of which there is much to choose from. Picking the best work is the easy bit: it gets harder when you’re the graphic designer and the production co-ordinator to boot. No matter, the work will be done.

The biggest single piece of news however is I’m working with the local Arts collective as part of their New Artists Network. That’s never going to stop being funny: at 53 I’m still less than two years into a professional endeavour, as you’re considered successful after publication. My first piece debuted in November 2018, my next piece appears in hardback, in October for World Poetry Day. So, technically I could call myself established from that point, but if you know me well that’s never happening. This doesn’t stop even if I do hit the target, multiple times.

I don’t ever see a true end to this period of creativity in my life.

Paris, Texas

This week’s a bit of a HonestyFest: no, this isn’t another virtual collection of hastily pulled-together people on a Zoom call, I probably know enough people to maybe rustle up three people tops. I’m pretty certain one of them doesn’t have a webcam anyway. What the poetry has done we’ve discussed on Monday, and I mentioned then in passing a long-form piece which contains a lot of early mental trauma as a starting point to where things should move next.

I read it all yesterday, in a couple of sittings. Structural integrity is about 80%, if it were any less I’d have not decided to go public so fast on Patreon. It will be serialised, starting in September, because it is complete. I just needed the nerve and the impetus to push it to the finish line. I’ve tried and failed to get it accepted as a stand-alone work, and there’s just not enough energy right now to move down that path. Instead, it is perfect work to repurpose as subscription fodder.

The timing here is almost… well, prophetic.

Those of you REALLY paying attention will know this took eighteen years to write. With the edit coming up, we’ll call it a round twenty. It’s made the finish line as my NaNo project a while back, and I’ve had it sitting as a back burner project since February. I was fully ready to return, but with a view to try to push for grown up publication. This way makes an enormous amount of sense as an alternative. More significantly, it opens up the Patreon as ‘not just poetry’ and that’s really rather important right now.

This year I become a ‘proper’ published poet, not just a competition winner: I saw the proof of that poem in the Places of Poetry document today, for the first time, and let out a little squeal of delight. More work will be published, I can guarantee you that, but as yet there’s only been lip service granted to what is something that drives a lot of my interest as an adult. Storytelling has always been a goal. The Twitter short story has shown me the market exists. Now it is time to do the things I don’t like: selling both this and me.

As it happens, this is something I am getting used to.

There will need to be a synopsis, and I don’t want to give too much away by doing so. You’ll get introductions to characters and probably some vignettes for each. Mostly however, there is the soundtrack, which I’ll do more justice than has previously been the case. This was the novel that began my obsession with music as background to action, and I’m listening to it now as I type. It’s about to be revisited after a couple of years, with some new pieces added.

I am genuinely excited for this addition to my Patreon.

Give a Little Bit

The #SixFanfics project is going very well, with the last two decades of content scheduled to go to the polls tomorrow. I’ve had a massively productive day and caught up on a ton of outstanding stuff, and now it’s time to start contemplating where to be placing my attention going into the second half of the year. In an attempt to pick up more Patrons, I have again listened to feedback over appropriate stretch goals.

It’s been coming for a while, but today dawned the understanding I need a website to sell stuff on before I can start selling stuff. An account on Gumroad’s sat gathering dust for some months, and it is high time to start getting it ready for use. I’ll be programming time in June (can’t believe I just typed that) to start organising the levels of content we’ll need to accommodate a virtual poetry collection, plus physical output.

I’ve produced a number of unique commissions this year, for special occasions (a christening and two weddings, if I’m being honest) plus I made all my Christmas gifts this year as one-off, special poems for all my mates. This is a revenue stream that needs more promotion than is currently the case. Therefore, over the summer, there will be plenty of opportunity to make this all a reality.

WSE New

I had something rejected this week that was, in my mind, probably the best piece of poetry I’ve ever written. It was the final straw that has made brain grasp that if I want success, waiting for other people to notice me is not enough any more. It is time to make the noise and push buttons and generally become what I have always been afraid of: a better person. This me is more productive, more proactive and more capable of changing the world around me.

This me is about to make everything better.

A Change is Gonna Come

Stuff’s happened quite quickly today: let’s get right to it 😀

This seems like a solid move, in my head: more people can come in and become part of the family, whilst the highest Tier is now cheaper (and hopefully a little more attractive as a result.) Whether of course the person who asked me for this change was expecting it to happen and will now subsequently sign up is another matter entirely. The logic works regardless, and was quite easy to move things around to accommodate a change in focus.

I think it is important, especially in the current climate, to show a measure of flexibility when it comes to accommodating change. It also gives me some thoughts on how to work the upcoming content planned into slightly more attractive packages. This weekend would normally be time off but I’m ready to try and work through some new ideas. We’ll talk about this in more detail next week.

nature4

For now, however, it’s time for some aggressive marketing…

Subscribe to Patreon Here

Back to Life

Now the excitement of NEW CONTENT has died down, and there’s an undoubted sense of being better organised, it is time to look at finishing off a ton of stuff that’s been left hanging or simply not completed. That includes the EX/WHI restart, a ton of back end archiving and deciding what of my various pieces of historical fanfic get the nod for publication. After that? Well, that’s a very good question.

Next week is when I begin May planning, which seemed reasonably impossible back in March which is now officially about a decade ago in perceived brain time. Tomorrow I have a photography project to finish for Patreon, which will be archived here and you’ll be able to see at the beginning of next month. I’ve decided to do these every four weeks, as long as it is practical for me to take pictures.

I’m looking forward to the day I can plan trips to places further than a walk away.

IMG_20200405_171754

I’ve produced some unexpected results from what had been originally planned as a fairly static project: it appears that Precarious Epithet is the gift that may well end up giving far more than just the content that composes it. It has also been an interesting test run for the possibility that, should I pull together enough patrons, that the production of the LANzine could end up being bi-weekly.

If that does happen, it will undoubtedly me useful to be able to disseminate older issues to a wider audience, with Patreon becoming the test bed for this original content. That dream, however, is some way away, but there’s already confidence that I can keep the wheels of production whirling for the foreseeable future. We can also diversify too, into photography-only projects and poetry with multimedia accompaniment…

Suddenly, there are a lot of options that were no previously available to me. It is going to take a while to get my head around all of those, but not only will it happen, but you can guarantee potential is about to be grasped with both hands.

The future remains mine to embrace and improve.

Ready for the Floor

This is all really rather unexpected.

stuffmyface

It was planned for ‘stuff’ to happen on Sunday, and it did. That means at 11.30am tomorrow the inaugural Precarious Epithet will be available to download, as a 10 page .PDF, via this website. I’m insanely pleased with it, as it happens, because nobody else had anything else to do with its construction and content than me. Just me, THAT’S ALL. This is a first step into a wider universe, and I love it.

Going forward, similar content will be produced via Patreon. I make no bones about this: getting paid for this stuff really does matter a lot. I received my first ‘wage’ via the content platform this morning and although it won’t make me rich, this is a decent foundation. The motivation exists to keep working, and outputting, whilst improving skills across multiple disciplines.

This is the learning process that keeps on giving.

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As my son loved to say after he’d perform a magic trick, as a kid, prepare to BE AMAZED at the content emerging in the following months. The groove has undoubtedly been reacquired. Time to set sights distinctly forward, and make hay whilst I am effectively stuck indoors apart from a mandated walk every day where BOY AM I TAKING A LOT OF PICTURES and yeah, here we are.

Welcome to the New Normal [TM]

Back in the Saddle

Normally, I’d be here in the morning to write a blog, but the first of the month, from now on, is likely to be a bit different. Welcome to the New World Order, where suddenly everything is a lot more complicated, but amazingly appears about 3000% more professional. Somewhere between the end of February and now, I became an adult content creator. Blimey.

There have already been complaints and yes, I hear you. I always said I’d be the one who wouldn’t do this, and would staunchly exempt myself from the rigours of capitalism, but right now nobody is working, therefore money has to come from somewhere. There was never a good time to bite the bullet and go subscription, when all is said and done circumstance effectively made that choice for me.

It doesn’t mean however that content stops here, anything but. It’s a simple redistribution of effort and attainment in different locations. I will ensure however that content keeps being saved here: weekly poetry, daily Twitter short story… all those things still have their place in the world and will not suddenly vanish. There will be some new things here too, as time goes on, but first I need the Patreon mechanics to work well.

I suppose if I’ve only upset one person out of (potentially) millions thus far, that has to count for something. If everybody else can adjust to this new normal, that is the direction everything will subsequently head. I’m actually pretty excited because tomorrow I am putting together the first of TWO LANzine for the month: the first one is a dry run to see if anyone’s interested in the sub-only edition for which this post’s header is the main graphic.

The only way you get to swim is to sink first. Time to dive in…

Rise Up

This will be the last post on-site before the big reorganisational change happens, starting next week. Having committed to the change, I’d like to get started on the nuts and bolts changes that need to happen behind the scenes. That will involve a Secret Bonus Area for Patreon followers, accomodation for the NEW Weekly Newsletter… plus shifting around all the old stuff to become more friendly and accessible.

Therefore, starting next week you can expect to see stuff morph and evolve before your very eyes. I don’t have the luxury of just shutting everything down, after all, so we’ll sort as much of the architecture out as possible within the existing framework, then turn up and give the thing a lick of new paint. After all, it would be rubbish to do that first and then discover a bunch of stuff is no longer fit for purpose…

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Then, we’ll relaunch everything in April, with a brief moment for World Poetry Day on March 21st. Of course, you’ll still be able to read my daily rantings via Twitter or on the Laughing Geek Website, or observe my increasing graphic competence via Instagram. I’m going to also be overhauling Ko-Fi to link up with the Patreon, so you can go take a look at that too when everything is complete.

Consider it a general Spring Clean for everything.

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Oh yeah, and about Patreon. I’m gonna go for it again: there is no idea who will be interested, can only hope the content ends up speaking for itself. Lots of people are struggling to get by and won’t ever be able to afford to support me anyway, and as a result I’ve decided to give this whole thing until December to see whether there is enough interest to push forward.

Is what I do worth paying for? It’ll soon be time to see for myself…