BFilament lamps struggle to life, as a button with worn off indentations spelling out ‘SURFACE’ depresses into the wall and the restricted access elevator ascends through darkness.

I heard on a radio interview that our generation will be the ones that struggle with it most.


Because we remember what the world was like before, what outside felt like, as it was meant to be.

I suppose.

The elevator groans and creaks as both workers ascend into the desolate surface growth. Long sturdy cables stretch into the darkness above and below, yanking them into the inevitable devastation of the surface.

I’ve also heard that they’re thinking about reopening the tunnels.

They wouldn’t do that, not after the last disaster with the whirknits.

On cue, the creatures of the tunnels wail in response to the passing of the rickety elevator. Out of sight, yet still terrifying, the several layers of mesh and grating fail to convey a sense of safety; despite the news promising a 100% success rate in whirknit exclusion these days there are always tall tales of the occasional child or elderly person disappearing, and never quietly, or without entrails of evidence left behind.

Nothing is guaranteed, these days anything could happen. There has also been talk of other colonies reaching out to each other.

You know that’s not true, surface gossip, the agreement was that each colony keep to themselves, larger groups of humans are dangerous together, keeping us separate keeps the conquerors from plotting, the predators from thinking we’re worth the catch, and each other against disagreements. Separation is necessary.

The cables twang and screech, yanking the two clumsily to the top, or what used to be considered ‘ground level’ although these days were is no such concept, lost to the years of descent into the earth. Rather than expose the shaft to the environments outside and their countless creatures dying to get inside, each gate was slowly extricated from its locks and replaced with haste.

Conversation had a habit of dying out on sight of what was once the planet that defied all odds. Scientists used to question the earth’s positioning in the grander schemes of things, the idea that should the earth be positioned slightly differently life wouldn’t have been sustained as it had been. These questions eventually died out too, along with the majority of the scientists, and the media harvesting what they could, and the consumers of such nonsense.

In fact, not much is left.

It never gets any easier to look at, does it?

Peering out over a hill, the lift opens up to the view of a ruined city in the distance. Binoculars reveal streets laden with corpses, human or otherwise, slowly regressing back into mother nature’s lifeblood. Skyscrapers hail in comparison to the mutated trees and plant-life scaling and surpassing the once-impressive feats of human engineering. The occasional creature leaping or flying from surface to surface can be seen in all it’s hideously graceful glory, having command of the city in it’s entirety. Undulating appendages drip mucus and aromatic honeys, luring in the unwise, or recently the willing, to a gruesome and agonisingly slow death.

The elevator shaft hums with the screeching of the unseen, as if laughing at the outcome of their destruction.

I feel no better, knowing we haven’t left safety, we’ve simply passed the boundary between below and above. The only differences being the species of things wanting to feed on our remains up here.

That’s enough, be quiet. I need silence, just for a moment.

Revealing a battered mp3 player and some mouldy speakers from a deep coat pocket, the sounds of birds and trees rustling in a lazy wind are sent out into the silence, populating the empty space.

Closing their eyes, the two humans, escaping their grimy lives of darkness and fear try to replace the still trees with images of bark and leaves. Substituting the grey and purple organic masses masquerading as things once arguably tree-like, only ever moving to dart and impale food, for non-sentient bouquets of brown and peaceful greens.

I’m cold.

I know, we all are.

It’s time to go back, our absence will have been noticed. If we aren’t back by the next tectonic movement we’ll have been written off as whirknit meat.

We’ll be back soon though, yes?

If we must.

With this assurance, the mp3 player and speakers are sealed in a bag and stowed in a sunken shipping container not far from the elevator’s entrance, promising to sing of the past whenever it’s needed.

It belongs up here, I don’t need the reminder down there.

And so they return again to the depths below.



AThe fire crackles, dying embers fly into the chilled night air as the author sits, crumpled in his reading chair. Tired, he groans and averts his gaze from the warmth as he feels his eyeballs melting from the lazy heat.

‘Time to do this’, he thinks.

After having finished his book tour for this last work, the conclusion to the bestselling series he’d been highly acclaimed for, he remembers answering the crucial question he was always asked, with:

YES! Something is in the works, it’s very different. Think: ‘fresh’, ‘exciting’, nothing you’ll have seen from me before.” A statement his agent, and subsequently his publisher, was just as excited a
s the press to hear. Over and over again this same answer rippled through the pipelines to converge on the reality:

Pen has not touched paper in over a year.

The publisher tried to stimulate quick turnarounds. Deadlines passed, advances were offered; eventually these were taken off the table as the idea of getting nothing else from their once-diamond in the rough began to set in. The fame had got to him, the pressure of the adoring fans waiting for this new and exciting creation to arrive, ignorant of the fact the mystery is just that, a mystery to the creator himself.

‘Right, time to get up’, he thinks to himself again. With a groan and a creak of the chair a long shadow is cast behind him, kindly brought to life by the fire before him. Jittering and expanding, this shadow inches towards the writing desk in front of a floor-to-ceiling window with a view of the snow-covered woods. Untouched and pure, he thinks of the ideas that have come and gone over the months, vivid and almost tangible in his mind’s eye.

He stares outside, the snow appearing as if it were giving off its own light, staring back at him. Ideas danced in the cold, falling to the ground before him, ideas of heroes and villains, of issues needing discussed, all falling together into the masses of white coating the view. It gives the author an image of being suffocated with his own imagination.

Which to pick? Which to choose. This is the very issue that has kept him back, the choosing. It’s all so exciting in the beginning, the words flow with the naive notions of the ‘dream job’ and the ability to be heard. Now he sits, having been heard, not knowing what to say next.

Hesitating for a little while longer, he thinks about how he felt before this career threw him in the deep end of deadlines and constant expectation. The need to be better than before, not looking back for fear of shadowing the way forward. Listening to the crackle of the flames from the fireplace and the imagined sound of snow falling outside, he thinks of the solitude surrounding him, the lack of prying eyes, the quiet.

He picks up the pen, and he writes.

To be heard once more.

The April A to Z Challenge 2016.

A2Z-BADGE [2016]I’m participating in the A to Z Challenge again for a third year running! I’ve struggled to write as much in the past year, life has taken over. University commitments and work getting busier has meant writing has had to take a back seat. However, for the next month I’m hoping to get out some of the ideas I’ve had since last April; even trying to start with A has been difficult,¬†we’re on the 3rd now and I’m yet to post A or B, they’ll go up in the next few hours now that I have been able to settle on something; ironically the first post is about an author with writer’s block.

Despite the struggle, I’m so excited to see what I come up with in the next month! It will certainly be a challenge, with exams at the end of the month but I’m going to try make it the entire way through the month, posting every day (allowing myself to post late if needs be) as I haven’t been able to finish the challenge yet!

So, fingers crossed it goes well, and I hope everyone else doing April A to Z enjoys it as much as I will!