An excerpt from The Langorian Queen

       Kylie and Tarquin ran as fast as they could. Kylie felt her lungs burning as she forced her body to do things it had never been trained for. At least that distracted her from the itch in the centre of her spine. They could hear their pursuers crashing through the undergrowth behind them but dare not look back for fear of tripping over something in front of them. Any moment now she was expecting to feel an arrow in her back.  They’d fired a few early in the chase, but they’d flown wide, just wide enough in one case where an arrow had thudded into a tree trunk only a couple of feet to one side.
      In front of her Tarquin was doing his best to make sure she stayed with him. He knew she was tiring, but they had to keep going or they would surely die. He doubted his ability to deal with the patrol behind him without help. Last time he’d had Wayne as company, and that had been a close thing. And they had no brooms this time. Kylie had a sword, but he had no idea whether she could use it. There was no point in fighting if they could avoid it. They would do well just to keep out of sight, to hide if they could.
      Cedric and Ruby had gone ahead to the tower while he and Kylie had stopped for a rest. The Knob, as they had come to call it, was only a few hours ahead but Kylie was still suffering from the exhaustion, both mental and physical, of caring for Jemima. They’d found a place to rest quietly for an hour and had only just got going again when they’d been seen by a goman patrol. He noticed that the forest was thinning in from of him and it looked like there was open ground not far ahead. So much for keeping out of sight; they’d be targets for the bowmen soon.
       He looked back and saw that Kylie was lying on the ground struggling to get up.  Shit!  He went running back. The gomans were only about a hundred metres away but luckily the lush undergrowth hid them.
      ‘Kylie, we have to keep going.’
      ‘It’s too late Tarquin, I’m done.’
       He nodded, took a deep breath and quietly drew his sword preparing to meet his pursuers if he had to.       ‘We’re probably going to have fight, Kylie. I hope you’re ready. Let’s hide in these ferns and hope they go past. But if they don’t, we’ll not have any choice.’
      She forced herself to her feet and drew her sword. ‘Any words of advice?’ she asked in a slow heavy voice as they silently retreated behind the greenery.
      ‘Just keep your head and don’t panic. And cover my back. I’ll cover yours,’ he whispered.
      The gomans came running past and for one moment Tarquin thought they were going to be safe. Then the leader stopped and looked at the relatively clear ground in front of him. ‘We should be able to see them from here. Stop!’ he barked out with his back to the two of them. ‘They must have gone to ground.’        They all did as they stared at the trees and low shrubs trying to see where their prey might have gone. It wouldn’t be more than a few seconds until one of them turned around.
      Tarquin brought his mouth close Kylie’s ear and spoke in hardly audible tones, ‘I’ll take the leader. You take the one on his left. Then we’ve got a sporting chance against the other three eated. ‘Are you ready? We’ll on the count of three.’
      Kylie nodded again, not trusting herself to speak.
      Tarquin counted to three and then exploded from his hideout, covering the distance to the gomans in a split second with Kylie only a metre behind him. He impaled the leader just as he was turning around, ripping his sword out as the creature fell, before slicing the chest of the next closest goman who was frozen in surprise. Two down. That almost evened the contest, but he turned and saw that Kylie had also frozen just as her target turned around with a drawn weapon.
       She watched him start to smile and raise his sword. The blade was almost hypnotising as she watched the sunlight gleam off it on its slow-motion arc upwards. It was beautiful.
       ‘Kylie!’ Tarquin’s voice jolted her out of her paralysis just in time for her to block the now downward-racing goman sword with her own. She stumbled backwards, but immediately bounced up as the creature strode forward to finish her off, now confident in the lack of ability of its opponent. With adrenalin now surging through her body she parried the next sword thrust and then desperately parried the next hoping that Tarquin would help her.  She continued to retreat until she backed up against a tree. The goman grinned and exhaled foul breath in her direction. ‘There’s nowhere to go now girl. I’ll get a medal for killing a human, you know. There’s a good bounty on your head.’
      Kylie looked at the creature trying to get its sword out of the tree. She hesitated, not sure what she should do. Then the goman gave up on its sword, pulled a dagger from its belt and came charging at her. The look in its eyes made her decision for her; there was nothing there resembling compassion or mercy, just bloodlust, and a certainty that its prey was too weak to fight. Perhaps this was not the time and place to worry about ethics. She gripped her sword and waited until the creature was a metre away, then she swung it for all she was worth, slicing through the goman’s stomach and chest. It fell and then lay writhing on the ground, a gurgling, bubbling sound coming from its mouth. Kylie strode over to it and looked at her handiwork. There was no question it would die, but there was no need for it to suffer. With tears in her eyes she put her sword on its chest and drove down with all of her strength. The creature convulsed once, before it sighed its last breath. For a second she stood there trying to comprehend what she had done. The sweet scent of freshly cut mint wafted through the air from a nearby plant that had been in the way of a sword – it mixed in with the sharper aroma of the damp pine needles that littered the ground and provided cushion for the now-dead creature. Then she noticed that the forest had gone quiet.
      Tarquin! Where was he?
      She heard footsteps and spun around with her heart in her mouth, her bloody sword raised ready to defend herself.
      ‘Whoa!’ Tarquin stepped back rapidly. He looked down at the goman and then at the tears on Kylie’s cheeks. ‘It’s difficult the first time,’ he said as gently as he could. ‘I threw up after I killed my first one.’ He put his hand on her shoulder, but she shrugged it off. ‘I’m okay.’
       Tarquin wasn’t convinced but he decided to let it go for now. ‘Let’s just rest for a few minutes,’ he suggested.
       They found a cliff-top overlooking the ocean where they both collapsed to the ground. Kylie stared out to sea swell march in from the ocean and then hurl itself onto the rocks below. It was hypnotic, but she wasn’t seeing it. Instead she kept replaying the fight in her head and watching with horror as her blade pierced the goman’s chest and the light in its eyes died, before the sound of the waves below and the warm sun above lulled her into a fitful doze.
       And then Tarquin was shaking her. ‘We’ve got to go, Kylie. It’s only a short walk from here.’
She nodded and hauled herself upright before the two of them began walking south towards Offa’s Knob. They could see the headland beyond which it lay. An hour and they would be there.



My latest show for RTRFM

WED 21 March – at a ridiculous hour (4am) I did my latest show…a wide of music, with 6 underplayed (in my opinion) songs from the 1980s spread through the 2 hours. Take a listen…I promise it’ll be entertaining.


A short excerpt from The Langorian Queen

read in my very own dulcet tones…

A poem for teachers

I was looking back through the posts and liked this one…

Another Grumpy Commuter

A Teacher’s Lament

(after Trenches: St Eloi by TE Hulme )

Over the flat desks of Room 3B
a wide-eyed wall of ignorance.
In the silence disgusting boys
loitering with intent, picking their noses:
all itching to go, ignore the books.
Girls walk as on street corners,
making boys drool, follow,
drawn by instinct, drawn by promise,
after a pierced bare belly.

The boys have testosterone. The girls have no pants.
Behind the bikeshed, groping, shagging, lying missionary style.
Unwanted babies, chaos:

hell is a school classroom. The minds about me are closed.
Nobody answers. There is nothing to do but drink.

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We just had an election…wonder if anything will change?

In honour of the election here is a special poem about politicians. I’ve posted it before but hey…it never goes out of date.


Every few years we get the chance,
stroll down the road,
tick another box or two,
decide which toad
will screw us over for the next few,

break promises so easily made,
take junkets too,
raid our wallets with glee,
those well-dressed few
who spew smug platitudes and see

no shame in cat-calls, insults, petty
games – he said, she said. Lice!
You disgust me,
you clowns for whom we pay the price.



And on a lighter note I also finished the 2nd draft of the Queen of Langoria….things are moving along

A short trip…and some writing

While I should have been polishing off the last 15 percent of the second draft of The Queen of Langoria, I went AWOL. Yes…I enjoyed a squiz at the Versailles Exhibition at the National Gallery and then the Popular Pet Show at the National Portait Gallery. It was very relaxing and the weather was great as was the Hyatt Hotel.

I between I’m sure that I violated some sort of code by reading John Birmingham’s Alien Side Boob column while sitting in the rarified atmosphere of the National Library. It was at the very least, an act of sedition.

Anyhow, I also knocked out over 1000 words on a new story idea…let’s just call it One Cyborg at a Time for now. Made me laugh.

And here is a picture of Lake Burley Griffin and the bell tower obscured by lush trees and with my foot providing foreground…sensational!




My 2 weeks to write is over…

Yes indeed it is over. And, rather surprisingly, I have achieved most of what I wanted to achieve. I have reached the halfway point in the 2nd draft of Langoria, which was always going to be the big challenge. I still have work to do, but most of the problems in structure and motivation, backstory consistency etc were in the first half. While there is still a lot of work to do from here, the second half flows much more smoothly and shows that I was really into the story and was writing with more confidence and ease. So from here on in I would hope to get some final draft out in the middle of the year, time and work permitting. Now…there is also the issue of cover art.

As an aside, I took time out from writing yesterday to go to the Perth Writers Festival to listen to Garth Nix, Jay Kristoff, and Ken Liu speak about writing. That was an awesome session, very enjoyable and I recommend that if you get the chance you should listen to these guys speak in person. It’s very illuminating. I have been going to writers festivals for a number of years and that was the best session I’ve been to.

So now it’s back to work next week and a lot less time for writing…but I am reinvigorated. Good luck with all your writing…




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