The old man had watched eagerly as the tracks came closer and closer to his village. Many of his friends were far more pessimistic about their imminent arrival. “They’ll just bring criminals and city people. They’ll destroy our land,” was a common reason they gave. But the old man did not believe that, and besides, he was far more concerned with where those tracks could take him.

Finally, the tracks came through the village and they kept going on further. Soon after the trains came. The old man met many strange and wonderful people. They told him tales of the city and even other countries. They brought with them contraptions that astounded him. One man showed him one that he claimed could capture images. The old man could not believe it until he was shown a picture of the great river that flowed through the city with hazy buildings along its banks.

The old man had to wait a while before he could afford to pay for a ticket but at long last he had saved enough money and he immediately was on his way. His mind still could not comprehend the machinery that could move such huge objects as the trains carriages with apparent ease so fast. But that did not matter as his body could experience it and find it exhilarating.

In what seemed like an incredibly short period of time the tracks brought him into the great city. It dwarfed him and made him feel very small, but it swelled his heart to see such great wonders. His favourite sight was at the station where he saw there were dozens of other tracks which headed in all different directions. The old man was excited that he would have to buy many more tickets still.


And The Rain Came Tumbling Down

The rain was still tumbling down. Having been cooped up for so long, and with so little else of note occurring naturally the conversation turned to other torrential rainstorms.

“I think the worse I ever saw was that storm two years ago. Nearly washed the shed at the end of the garden away,” one said.

“Never! What about the one six years ago. The whole street was flooded for days,” another replied.

“You’re both wrong. I remember as a child storms that lasted weeks,” piped up an old man.

They were all in agreement though as they watched the water rise up passed the window, hundreds of feet above the city: this was by far the worst storm any of them had ever seen.

The Rolling Waves

The pilot did not even have to land on the planet it transpired. Well, more accurately, he couldn’t. He circled the planet watching as waves rolled from pole to pole. There was no sign of the fifty thousand people who had recently settled there.

He could only imagine the terror of the settlers as waves crashed upon them from all sides. It must have happened incredibly fast. They had had spacecraft. The last contact with them had been three weeks ago and they had made no report to suggest anything would go so wrong. All the best planetary monitoring equipment had been at their disposal. Had the equipment failed, or did they miss something? Or had the event been so cataclysmic and sudden to evade detection? That was not for the pilot to say. All he had to now was report that there were no survivors on the colony.

That made three in a row. He looked grimly at the list of seven more colonies and tried not to remember that those names represented over a million human lives, and hoped to god that the pattern would break.

Space was turning out to be a very bad idea indeed.


A Beer and A Beach

I sat on the beach with an ice-cold beer, and waited for them to come. No more running. I just wanted to enjoy my last few minutes of freedom.

I suppose I’d never really expected it to all catch up with me. I’d lived it all like some kind of dream. The last six months had been a lesson in reality, and they had been god awful. Maybe I’d look back on them one day fondly. Maybe they’d make exciting tales. In the moment, I just felt exhausted though.

The beer was good, refreshing and sending a numbness through me that allowed me to ease into the situation like a hot bath. Knowing it was the last one I’d have for a while, I savoured every drop.

Going down in a blaze of glory? I’m not the type. Maybe I’m just an optimist and where I see life I see hope. Maybe it’s just a damn sight more pleasant to be put in a cell than a body bag.

It had been fun though hadn’t it! Before the last six months of course. No responsibility, no ties, an unlimited stream of money if I wanted it (and I did). Fun. That was it in a nutshell. Now to pay the price for all of that.

Just as I was taking my last sip I saw the helicopters, jet skis, and speedboats coming. I felt the sand, warm under my hands, took a last breath of free air. I stood up and accepted my fate.


The Scroll Unfurled

The being known as the Author had been furiously writing the future on a rapidly unfurling scroll since the beginning. Every corner of space, every move or decision made by every being, the passage of every star and planet, everything was dictated by what was written by his pen.

That was all his existence was, and indeed, existence was all because of him.

You can imagine then, the Author’s abject terror when he realised he was coming to the end of the scroll.


What Do You Know?

The fire was driving me higher and higher up the building, constantly licking at my ankles. Of course, eventually there was no higher. I was now stuck on the roof, hundreds of feet above the ground, help, and safety.

My mind started racing through possibilities. Maybe there would be a ladder big enough. No. Maybe I could try to head back down. No. Maybe they would put the fire out soon. No. There was no help coming. I was trapped. This was it.

I had no options left. The thought barely crossed my head and then I was doing it. I had jumped, falling almost certainly to my doom. But hey, it was my choice. It was all I had left that I could control.

Someone once said that if you’re falling you might as well flap your arms. I must admit I had never expected it to work. But as I soared over the city and then gradually came to land, I was quite glad that it had.


The Forgotten God

He looked out and all he surveyed was his. Sea, land, sky, space, the very light from the stars. He was a ruler without parallel. His word was law, his every desire realised. His rule was one of time and space, for such was his legend that were he to simply disappear one day he would merely transform into godhood, an eternal presence in the minds and actions of his servants. Under his control were an armada of ships that could blot out the sun, quite literally in fact as, on a whim, he had once called forth the inconceivable numbers of his ships to encircle a star so that no light from it could escape his clutch. As the ships then dispersed he displayed the completeness of his rule over time and space as people on worlds across the universe would look to that star, perhaps billions of years in the future, and they would see it disappear then reappear. They would know that even the heavens bowed to his rule. At times, he would hold the fate of worlds in his hands, condemn them to death and then reverse his decision just so they knew they lived at his pleasure. He did this without question or resistance for to do so would be as unfeasible as to question or resist the laws of nature. He was all of this. He was omnipotence incarnate, and he was terrified.

The ruler had not recognised the feeling at first and so had called on a physician to examine him, believing that some ailment had been so bold as to afflict him. The trembling wretch had pronounced his ruler the pinnacle of health, such that his very touch could be a salve or balm for the feeble masses of the universe. He sent the physician from his sight and eventually came to the conclusion that he was in fact terrified.

He was terrified because people were forgetting him.

It had all started one day when he was walking through some filthy neighbourhood, simply because he could. In fear and deference, the local population had fled into their dwellings at the news of his coming. That is all except for one adolescent. The ruler had rounded a corner to be confronted by this peasant. Rather than realising its mistake and removing its presence, the fiend had greeted the ruler as it would anyone who was of no consequence. In his rage, the ruler obliterated the obnoxious whelp before his guards had even moved a muscle. He removed himself from that place and had it burned to the ground to prevent any other misguided individuals afflicting him with their presence.

He had thought no more of it and had continued with his glorious reign. Then it happened again. He entered his private chamber to find someone still cleaning. Ordinarily he would have just removed such a failure from his service and sent it to the most fearsome gaol he could find. But this one had the audacity to ask him if he was the one who lived there and made so much mess. He had it fired into a star.

These two incidents had left the ruler exhausted, so he resolved to go to a more agreeable planet. He asked his ship’s captain to land next to a certain lake on a planet which he found supremely picturesque and soothing. His cruisers were always allowed to land wherever it was he desired. Normal protocols did not apply to him. He was therefore apoplectic when he was informed that a security team from the planet had been launched and were informing the captain they could not land there and would be boarded if they did not stop. As the ruler watched the planet burn under a hail of asteroids he had his fleet pick from near orbit and rain down upon it, he could only wonder what the hell was happening?

The ruler resolved that the next time an incident like this occurred he would attempt to contain his rage and have the insolent being that dared forget him, the most powerful being in existence, examined. He did not have to wait long. He entered his throne room to find all his personal guards standing to attention. All that is, except for one who remained seated and looked with confusion as to why its fellow guards were standing to attention. It looked quizzically at the being who had just entered the room. The ruler saw there was no recollection in its eyes. The forgetful guard was taken to be examined.

The ruler waited impatiently for news of why the guard had forgotten him. He had told his best physicians to leave no stone unturned, to rip the guard apart atom by atom if they had to and examine each particle of its being to find the reason it would forget the ruler. The plebeian who had first forgotten him could well have been mentally inferior to such a level that it did not recognise its ruler. But not one of his guards. They were handpicked for their physical and mental superiority, and their distinct lack of deficiencies or disloyalty. It should have been impossible for one of them to fail so appallingly, and yet it had happened. A thousand possibilities passed through his great mind. Had it been drugged? could it have been caused by a cyber implant? perhaps some strange disease had warped its mind? Whatever the reason, he was sure his physicians would find it.

They found nothing. No reason for why the guard would forget the great and terrible being that it guarded. The ruler’s personal guards were closely monitored physically so that only those in peak condition were put on active duty, so there were plenty of records for comparison. But they showed no anomalies or abnormalities. The guard was physically the same as it had been before. Every test they had done showed that it spoke what it thought was the truth and was not feigning ignorance. The ruler had the guard destroyed, it being no longer of any use, but his rage continued unabated.

Soon they numbered in their hundreds. Not long after there were thousands. Beings across the universe forgot their incomparable ruler and were taken to be examined. The ruler enacted a decree that twice a day every single being under his rule would be forced to declare their unfailing loyalty to their ruler and they would speak his name. Anyone failing to come to his officials was taken for examination. Anyone that came but had forgotten his name was taken. Any official that forgot who the name belonged to that people kept saying to them was taken. Physicians, scientists, mystics, shamans, spiritualists, all were used to try and uncover why the ruler was being forgotten. But to no avail. They were forgetting him, and more and more kept on forgetting him.

A man woke up one day. He was surprised because he did not remember going to sleep. In fact, he did not remember anything at all. The room he was in was audaciously grand, and large. He thought he would surely remember being in this place before, but he did not. The man left the room to try and find out something, anything, about where he was, and more importantly who he was. The entire building, or palace he supposed was a better word for it, was just as grand and ostentatious as the room he had awoken in.

The man heard a commotion somewhere up ahead and went toward it, hoping to encounter someone who knew more than he did. As he went he passed a mirror and looked at his reflection. The man was surprised to see he was clothed incredibly richly, regally one might say. But he had no clue as to why he would be wearing them. More importantly he was looking at a face that he did not recognise, even if the face was his.

The man came to the source of the commotion. It was in a room that was full of impressive and expensive looking items. Well, less full than it had been. There were dozens of people going about with arms full of artefacts and pieces that must have been priceless. One of them noticed him enter the room. “Hey,” it called out to him. “Where did you find the clothes? Are their more?”

“I don’t know. I woke up wearing them. Who lives here?” the man replied.

“I don’t know. Nobody does. But its full of expensive stuff like this so it might as well be mine.” The thief went to make off but the man stopped him before he went.

“Excuse me, but do you know who I am?” the man said. The thief would have just left him for asking such a stupid question, but something in the man’s voice made him wait. “No I don’t. Why who are you?”

“I don’t know,” said the man. As the thief made off with his haul the man muttered “I’ve forgotten.”