Friends

Kill the Mad Men…

Osprey watches the best stuff (I’ll forgive her not liking Inception 😉 ) and she tweeted a link to this great documentary I’d not heard of called Starsuckers, a film all about how the world of media manipulates our base monkey instincts and wide-open childhood innocence to make us go gaga over celebs so we will buy shit. Any shit. Piles of shit. Mountains of shit. Enough shit to bury us all under again and again and again. Watch this and weep. Then punch an advertising executive or reality TV booker square in the space where their soul used to be, the bastards.

A few things occurred to me through this film. First off, as a child of the 70’s I feel I might be one of the last generation to have escaped the deliberate and cynical targeting of children as consumers. Not completely, but enough. I think you’d have to look at my dad’s generation to see people who don’t see shiny things and start to drool, but all in all I seem to have come through nearly unscathed. Of course I have just bought a netbook I don’t need but merely want, but I didn’t buy it because Scarlett Johansson was draped across a picture of it on telly.

Which neatly brings me to my second point. Monkey arses. If you haven’t watched the film yet, jump to around 42 mins in and have a looksee. Back? Good. So, monkey arses. I couldn’t care less about celebs – their choice of clothes, watches, cars, body odour masks, their desire to eat at gastro pub X and dance at nightclub Y just don’t figure in my life. It’s like watching the news and getting to the sport – my mind switches off and before I know it the weather girl is on and my interest perks up again. Sport boring, weather lady in tight top interesting. Celeb lifestyle duller than dull, beautiful celeb ladies in high heels Hello New York! I am naught but a monkey missing a slurp of my Juicy Juice for a snatch (no pun intended) of monkey bum. I have a vague feeling that this should make me feel bad but it doesn’t. I like monkey bums and that’s all there is to say. Mmmmmm, monkey bums.

There was a third point, but the images of Miss Johansson’s lovely curves in my mind forced it out for a while. It was something to do with God. God and SL. Oh, that was it! At 40 mins into the film, some fella talks about para-social relationships and I got to thinking about how my life & friends in SL fitted into what he was saying. After all, do I just choose my SL friends based on their looks or perceived influence? After much thought, I can say with a high level of confidence that no, no I don’t. I don’t do that in RL so it’s no surprise I don’t do it in SL. I think I have a very healthy, balanced approach in that I have several levels of interaction that seems to come naturally:

  • Upon meeting new people who aren’t in character I tend to be friendly and naturally not in character myself. If there is time and a connection, and if real life information is shared, then here’s a good possibility these folks will slowly become my friends and even my mates. If not, then they will stay an acquaintance before more than likely drifting off and being forgotten.
  • If a connection has been made and real life chat is shared, these guys become my mates both in SL and out of SL in emails, IMs, tweets, etc. I’m not going to name names but you guys know who you are 🙂
  • If folks are entirely in-character and nice then we may well become friends in SL but the connection doesn’t go beyond that really – I mean, how can it? Real life is rarely mentioned and without that, well I can’t talk about a made-up world forever. This is fine, this is normal and healthy – not everyone you meet in RL is your friend, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t friendly. Think of that lass from sales you see in the kitchen, one repeating conversation about the latest phones or last night’s telly once a day and a brief nod & smile in the corridor is the top and bottom of it.
  • With the folks who are in- or out-of-character but are just plain unfriendly, well I keep away from them and almost never engage them. Why would I? That aggressive bully from accounting, you don’t seek him out for a chat about last night’s match do you? No, you stay the fuck away from the dickhead. Same in SL.

Out of all my friends I haven’t linked to any of them because of their look or position in whatever eco-system they inhabit, I became friends with them because I asked myself “are they nice?” and “do they share more than their avatar?”. If both answers were yes, they’ve more than likely become a mate, if it was a yes & no then they’re a friend or acquaintance. I’m simple fella (as I think can be deduced from the monkey bums paragraph above) but a happy one.

Cycling with Eliza

A long, long, looooooong time ago I met a rather lovely person in Oak Grove, Eliza Janus. She was sweet, funny and friendly at a time when life in Murray, my home next to Oak Grove, was anything but. Over the years we’ve stayed in touch and lately she’s been very busy gathering her friends about her, setting up groups in-world as well in twitter & flickr. A few weeks back I received a message from her asking if I could spare five minutes for a photo and as one who often drops such requests on my friends how could I say no? I TPed over and was met with an idylic scene in which Eliza was sat on a bike – I hoped on, set my emote to charming smile No. 8 and snapped away!
Eliza_007

Eliza_005

Take a look at Eliza’s version, as well as her other friends joining her on her bike, on her flickr stream here.

Ilia’s old place…

Way back in June I visited my mate Ilia’s place in Kishijoten – at the time she and a friend were tending to some rather charming ruins they had found of the old Forest of Lochraven (as well as to some equally charming sheep). At the time I meant to post the following pictures with a SLURL so you could pop over and see, but one thing lead to another and I didn’t get around to it, but hey! that would be OK I reasoned, after all Ilia was older than me (in SL – in RL she’s a mere babe-in-arms) and the ruins would be there for ages – the post could wait until after Steelhead.

Then she flippin’ went and deleted it as she left SL! Well I felt a right plonker then didn’t I! Anyhoo, never let it be said I’ll let a good post go to waste (and as Ilia is thankfully back in the warm embrace of her virtual mates I feel justified in reminding her of the gorgeousness she created! Hey Ilia – head over to Steelhead Nevermoor and take a look – you’ll love it!) I present you with the three pictures I took in my all to brief visit…

Ilianexsi Sojourner's Place 001

Ilianexsi Sojourner's Place 002

Baaaaaaa!
Ilianexsi Sojourner's Place 003

Why not head over and ask whoever you find if they’ve seen the old ruins of Lochraven – confuse the buggers, go on! 😀
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Kishijoten/40/190/33

Destroying the Noyo Mall! Redux!

Remember the half-assed job the work-shy fops at Antfarm & Quinn did destroying the big old empty mall in Noyo? Well their efforts, whilst a bit rubbish, did have the effect of mobilising a small gang of Kahruvel’s friends (and some rabid ducks!) in to action!

Osprey pulled in some favours to call a meteor shower…
Nuking the Noyo Mall

Ilia brought a huge hammer!
Nuking the Noyo Mall

Kumi set some ravenous racing snails on the whole mess…
Nuking the Noyo Mall

Mari brought her construction kit (although I think a meteor smasherated her jackhammer!)
Nuking the Noyo Mall

Enjah let off what I think was some Mickey Mouse ordinance…
Nuking the Noyo Mall

Someone (no one knows who but I heard it was a handsome gazelle-like chap with horns and a rakish smile) crashed a wee UFO into the roof…
Nuking the Noyo Mall

But leave it up to me to bring a ruddy great 50megaton nuke to the party!
Nuking the Noyo Mall

Nuking the Noyo Mall

Nuking the Noyo Mall

Even the Deadly Ducks got involved!

So, did all our efforts bring the rancid old structure crashing to the ground? Did it bugger! The bloody thing was totally unscathed and mocked us with its still-standing-ness. Damn.

Edit: Salazar has managed to delete the mall at last – he says that all our efforts must have weakened it. Yay! Go us!

Dropping in on friends

I was exploring the Pompinio volcano the other day (post on that to come 🙂 ) and I realised I was really close to Bodega where three of my favourite people in the world live so I decided to pop over and see how their houses were doing.

My first stop was Young’s wonderfully elegant (you should expect nothing less) builds on her land – being a very clever sort, Young made these in some 3D software and did a lovely job of the textures giving them a warm, sun-hugged feel that you just don’t see enough of in-world. See them yourself here.
Young Geoffrion's Land in Bodega

From there it was but a very short hop across to Enjah’s amazing (and huge!) hollowed out treehouse. Enjha used to live above her art gallery in Davenport, but a while back she moved the gallery to the Grignano region of Nova Albion city and built her home in a massive tree in Bodega. Take a look here.
Enjah's Treehouse in Bodega

From Enjah’s tree, I took a walk further into Bodega to where Osprey has her rather amazing ‘home’. I say home, but it’s so much more – it’s her gallery, her costume shop, her wildlife reserve, her therma-vent, her gorgeous slice of old Sansara. Explore it here.
Osprey's Place in Bodega

I’m blessed – I know some really talented and friendly folk in SL and I’m lucky enough to call these three my friends 🙂

Steelhead: Nish’s Butterfly house is coming along!

Wowsers! My old mate Nish has been a busy bee! Her Butterfly House (visit it here) is really taking shape now – Frank and I took an early moring ride out into Boomtown (you don’t see the scamps up at dawn, and in Boomtown they tend to stick to the old mines and tunnels rather than the streets so I feel safe) to see it and we weren’t dissapointed! It’s going to be beautiful! Have a poke about and you’ll find she’s added a few fun things you can sit on 😀
Nish's Boomtown Butterfly House

Nish's Boomtown Butterfly houseNish's Boomtown Butterfly House

Nish's Boomtown Butterfly House

I hear that her experiments to breed an anti-vampire vampire moth are going so well she’s thinking of branching out into the anti-zombie field! Maybe she needs to speak to Osprey about these developments as Ms Therian is also a keen developer of anti-monster products

All Your Breadz Are Belong To Us

Osprey had a plan. A secret plan. A sneaky plan. A good plan. A plan to say a big fat happy birthday to Lucy. You can read more about it here on Osprey’s blog – let me merely bathe you eyes in the glory of a dozen large tin ducks on tricycles flashmobbing Lucy, then a prog rock gig, Philip Linden’s house, a pub and finally a nightclub quacking all the way 😉

On a small, forgotten island, Osprey watched the horizon for the unsuspecting Lucy…
Lucy's Duckie Burpday

Whilst beneath the waves a silent army of ducks waited for her signal…
Lucy's Duckie Burpday

On cue (LUCY! DUCK!) the army burst forth quacking all the way!
Lucy's Duckie BurpdayLucy's Duckie Burpday

Lucy's Duckie Burpday

Lucy's Duckie BurpdayLucy's Duckie Burpday

After a quick party with Lucy, she donned the tin duck too and we set off looking for sims to gatequack!
Lucy's Duckie Burpday

Lucy's Duckie Burpday

We quacked our way through a couple of numbers with The Invisible Band!
Lucy's Duckie Burpday

Danced at a great little pub!
Lucy's Duckie Burpday

Held a board meeting at Philip Linden’s house (we discussed seed funding)…
Lucy's Duckie Burpday

I took a dip in Philip’s pond… I mean pool…
Lucy's Duckie Burpday

And finally we took over a great nightclub where we demanded BREAD!
Lucy's Duckie Burpday

Lucy's Duckie Burpday

Lucy's Duckie Burpday

Don’t think this is the last the grid has seen of Da Duckz and their own style of Hamlet’s beebop reality, oh noes we’ll be back! 😉

p.s. For more pics and stuff see these blogs and flickrs: Osprey, Enjah, Lucy, Kumi, Ilia. I’ll add more as they appear 🙂

QUACK!

Young Geoffrion’s Art Exhibition

I count myself a lucky little Burro for many reasons and chief amongst them is the simple fact I have some truly splendid friends. Young Geoffrion is just such an example (I’ve mentioned before how much I love her blog) and my time spent with her is always a pure delight.

Due to my current addiction to Left4Dead2 & Borderlands, I’m not getting in-world as I used to & I don’t see my friends as much so it was a real delight to manage to get in for Young’s first every art exhibition. It was held in the new Mysterio Gallery in Grignano and I had a blast! I had guessed Young was a talented artist, but bloody hell! She is brilliant! I took a few shots (below) and I’d encourage you all to pop over and take a look. I understand that the pieces are for sale too and I’ll be buying one – that will mean I have works from Os, Enjha & Young now *does a happy dance* Quite how I who can’t draw a line and know nothing about high culture know such wonderfully clever peeps is beyond me, I’m just glad I do 😀

Here’s a handy cut-out-n-keep SLURL to the Mysterio Gallery in Grignano: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Grignano/118/126/36/?title=Mysterio%20Gallery

Young's Art Exhibition

Young's Art Exhibition

Young's Art Exhibition

Young's Art Exhibition

P.S. Once you’ve been to Enjah’s gallery in Grignano, why not explore the surrounding city of Nova Albion. This is the oldest city in SL and its neighbour, Bay City, one of the newest – take a looksee and touch some of the history of the grid!

P.P.S Here is a post from Young about the show. One from Enjah (with a video!). And one from Os.

Three Times The Fun!

Big time kudos to Holo, Mari and the others from Bay City for organising the first ever Tri-Cities parade (and to Osprey for her usual bang-up job on publicity) because the Halloween march through the cities and leap off Shermville bridge was a hoot! Everything happened on time and the party under the water afterwards was a blast!

Here I am (a zombie version of me) on my steampunk horse 🙂
Tri-Cities Halloween Parade - 1st Nov 09

The Nova Albion Parade off to meet the others on the bridge!
Tri-Cities Halloween Parade - 1st Nov 09

BAT!
Tri-Cities Halloween Parade - 1st Nov 09

The bat killed Lucy!
Tri-Cities Halloween Parade - 1st Nov 09

LisaHot plays a mean drum and fires a meaner cannon!
Tri-Cities Halloween Parade - 1st Nov 09

On the bridge a the sun came up…
Tri-Cities Halloween Parade - 1st Nov 09

Osprey looking teh sexeh!
Tri-Cities Halloween Parade - 1st Nov 09

Lucy needs a shave!
Tri-Cities Halloween Parade - 1st Nov 09

Kumi gets it oooonnnnnnn!
Tri-Cities Halloween Parade - 1st Nov 09

Holo leads the Bay City parade up the bridge…
Tri-Cities Halloween Parade - 1st Nov 09

Getting ready to jump…
Tri-Cities Halloween Parade - 1st Nov 09

Heere we all goooooooooooo!
Tri-Cities Halloween Parade - 1st Nov 09

Party with da fishes!
Tri-Cities Halloween Parade - 1st Nov 09

Spooky Tales in Old Steelhead!

When I agreed to read a short story at the second of Steelhead Library halloween events, little did I know how much it would at first scare and then exhilerate me! I decided to write a story for the occasion, but with RL being a pain I ran out of time halfway through (I’ll finish it soon and post it here – never waste anything!) I decided to edit together my recent blog tale, The Mysterious Note, and read it out in… *gulp!*… VOICE!

I’ll leave out the details of how much trouble and hassle it was getting voice to work for me, suffice to say that it only snapped in 30 seconds before I was billed to start – talk about working up a sweat! I actually read as Ryne, after all it was he, not me, that fought the zombies in New Babbage’s sewers and as he’s from the same part of the world as me, my RL voice fits him rather well, I think (1).

I had to leave after my tale for the Tri-Cities Halloween Parade, but then I returned (as a sauve HBA) in time for the first of for Dio’s readings – RL took me away before the second but I really enjoyed what I managed to catch (go and read them here) and I’m looking forward to the next event Riven puts on 🙂

The crowd gathers…
Steelhead Spooky Storytime - 1st Nov 09

Lunar & Maxim – Lunar is Da Boss!
Steelhead Spooky Storytime - 1st Nov 09

Riven never appeared for me 😦
Steelhead Spooky Storytime - 1st Nov 09

Dio did 🙂
Steelhead Spooky Storytime - 1st Nov 09

Ain’t I a peach!
Steelhead Spooky Storytime - 1st Nov 09

(1) I was amazed to hear so many other Steelheadian’s voices – I *love* an American accent – always sounds so… cool 😀 And I guess the various ages at 40’s & 50’s (maybe a couple beyond?) which is something that constantly amazes me about SL. I think the older ages helps make SL, at least my SL, a more mature place and I like that – after all, I’m an old fart myself 😀

My tale:

Steelhead Short Story – Death in the sewers!

Dear fellow citizens, let me assure you that the tale I am about to impart is in no way manufactured and remains as real and as horrible to me here now as it did that on fateful day a mere three weeks ago. In all truth, the day had started so innocently with no indication that within hours I would be fighting for my very life in the filthy sewers of New Babbage, but before I leap ahead too far let me start at the beginning with the note I found and the two assumptions I made which, in large part, led to my peril with the unfortunate creatures cruelly overlooked by Death and his minions.

It was a Sunday morn and despite the fact it was a day of rest I had left the slums behind and headed into the city to pick up vital supplies. As I found myself passing the town hall, and recalling that I had heard rumours of some proposed new building developments, I decided to wander in and study the town map displayed in the foyer. The town hall itself was quiet and empty and I studied the map in peace for many long minutes before I turned to head back home. It was then that I saw the note lying on the floor. I looked about for someone who might have dropped it, but the town hall was, as I had mentioned, empty save me. So, feeling somewhat like a snoop, I picked up the note and read it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hubert,

I am not going to tell you again! Make the delivery to Salde Outfitters. Leave it in the basement. You’ll need the code to get in: 1253echo. Just say it to the console or the door. You shouldn’t have any trouble as long as you follow my instructions. Just don’t lose this note, ok?

X
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My mind raced! What on earth could this ‘delivery’ be? Why would it be locked in a cellar with a secret code? Could there be agents of the Bing Kong, the tong running every nefarious criminal activity in the slums, working all this way out in the city? And if so, what evil could they be spreading? I had to find out and my first port of call had to be this Slade Outfitters!

Here, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you both of the erroneous assumptions that were to put me on a path with near death (and worse!) beneath the streets of New Babbage. The first incorrect assumption was that of tong involvement, which served only to blind me to any other possibility as my hatred of my adopted home’s cruel and merciless masters is fierce beyond measure. The second incorrect assumption was that Slade Outfitters had a shop in New Babbage alone. If only I had known that I were but mere feet from the newly opened Steelhead branch I could have saved myself a considerable amount of trouble, not to say terror.

Alas, I was blind and ill-informed and therefore already committed to a path and incapable of veering off. A few hours later I was onboard the Clockhaven Queen and sailing for that most fair city to uncover just what the vile Bing Kong tong were planning.

The journey was pleasant enough, the day slipping into late afternoon and then into a brilliant sunset as the all-but-deserted ferry pulled in to port. I disembarked and walked along the stone quay towards the nearby shop. Above me seagulls cawed and squawked loudly, no doubt looking for scraps to feed upon. Something in their manner, something odd about their calling, caused me to glance up and I gasped with surprise to see them being joined by birds of all types. From crows and ravens to the humblest starlings and sparrow, the darkening sky was filling with all manner of flying beast and all of them without exception flying out to sea, away from the city. I stood with the sailors and watched them go until the cacophony of their cries subsided to nothing, before I turned to look at the city from which they had apparently fled.

I was suddenly aware of just how awfully empty the streets were. A chill wind blew between the silent buildings, a strange keening sound only just evident over its whispered hiss. I was certain I picked up a familiar scent wafting in from the city too, a sickly sweet smell that I knew all too well. Death, it would seem, was in the air. Suddenly I did not want to be there and I hurried off as I resolved to find out what I could and wait back on the Queen for a return sailing.

The shop I was looking for was on the waterfront and the note had said to look out for a console or door which would open with a voice command and grant access to the cellar. I searched high and low but could find neither – the front of the shop was simply open and given the shop’s position on the quay any cellar there was likely to be a very damp affair indeed. The only door I could find in the shop was a curiously placed porthole at the back, but there was no console nearby and it opened perfectly well with a simple pull. I say curiously placed for the simple fact was that it opened, by the smell of it, into the sewers of Clockhaven, the wide, covered canals which took the waste of the city away into the sea and were rightly regarded as an engineering marvel across the steamlands.

But was this the cellar door the mysterious note alluded too? If so were the sewers the means of delivery for the Bing Kong? And what were they delivering that was so important? There was only one way to find out: I had to enter the sewers and see where they led and to do that I would need a boat. There was only one place in Clockhaven I knew of where one could find such a vessel and I turned on my heels and headed into the darkening night.

The shadowed streets of Clockhaven were narrow and echoed with my lonely footsteps. More than once I was certain I heard distant shouting and unclear sounds of some commotion or other. The strange keening. howling sound I had detected as I disembarked the Clockhaven Queen had grown steadily louder and I was sure now it was more than simply just the wind whistling through the alleyways.

The alleys themselves proved disorienting to the point I was convinced I was lost. I fought hard to hold my rising sense of panic down as time after time I turned, sure I was being followed, only to see no one in the gloom. I hurried on, desperate to reach my goal, a large brick building where small steam boats were made, and found myself nearly overcome with joy as I came upon it. My joy was short lived however as I saw it was as dark and as quiet as everywhere else in this eerie ghost town.

I toyed with the idea of leaving, of forgetting the whole damn foolish endeavour and returning to the relative safety of the slums, but it would be another two hours before the Queen would slip out of harbour again so I was going nowhere. Beside, I chided myself silently, I was letting my fears take hold of me. I pushed my shoulders back and made my way inside to where the boats were launched into the sewers. Looking up at the launch ramp, to where the small metal-hulled vessel for one was waiting to sluice its way into the waters that led to the sewers, I had the feeling that it was going to be a bumpy ride.

I was not proved wrong! The launch was a decidedly uncomfortable affair with many a bump and jolt as I slid down the helictical trough and into the basin. The steam engine behind me hissed as the drive gear slowly pushed me forward into the gloom of the brick tunnels. Slime and other unmentionable detritus could be seen all around and I knew that to fall into the water would be almost certainly fatal, so with a renewed effort to keep the small steam skiff on an even keel I gingerly coaxed it forwards in what I estimated was the direction of Slade’s. Sure enough, a few tense minutes later I did indeed come to the brick step that acted as small dock to the shop but even here, aside from a small sign indicating I had indeed found Slade’s, I could find no discernable clues that in anyway corroborated the contents of the note.

Maybe I was too late? Maybe the illicit goods had already been delivered and moved on? Maybe, just maybe, I told myself, I was barking down the wrong sewer and on the end of an elaborate practical joke. I was just toying with that thought when I heard a loud splash, as though a substantial weight had hit the water, followed by a long, low, near-animal moan that turned my blood to ice. It was a sound I hoped I’d never hear again. It was a sound I hadn’t heard since the fall of the second Lincoln Line back in ‘85. It was the sound of a soul trapped between life and death. It was the sound of one no longer human. It was the sound of one of Feg’s own. It was the sound of a Zombie! And it was here in the dark sewers with me!

Fear gripped me tight and by the time the paralysis lifted I had steamed past Slade’s dock and into a narrow section of tunnel that precluded any thought of turning the small skiff around. I desperately twisted and pulled at various controls on the engine, but in my panic I simply could not find a reverse gearing system. The small boat, and I with it, moved with grim inexorability towards the moaning and splashing monster somewhere in the dark sewer ahead.

Suddenly there was another splash somewhere further along. And then another. More moans, guttural animalistic cries of hunger, joined the first. I was facing at least three zombies and found myself armed with nothing more than my satchel and this boat.

The boat! Of course! I had been desperately trying to get the boat to go backwards and away from the terrors that lay ahead when I should have been looking at it as my source of escape and protection through them!

The stench of the sewer, whilst always bad, increased in its foulness as it mixed with the terrible miasma of rotting flesh. The tunnel ahead was dark and heavy with shadows that seemed to peel from the walls and flee ahead of my boat only at the last possible second.

And the seconds in this vile place felt like hours as I crept forward seeing nothing in the gloom until! There! In the sewage before me a creature loomed large, its arms stretched out in front, a shaft of wood thrust fully through its body and, most terrible of all, an axe buried in its ruined skull! Its dead eyes fixed upon me as its slack jaw released the unmistakable howl of a flesh-hungry zombie!

With a spine of pure ice, I opened the little boat’s steam valve as far as it would go and kept a steady hand on the tiller as I began to speed through the foul water. I aimed squarely at the poor devil and braced for impact – there was a dull thud as his head hit the hull and the boat leapt up in the air, riding over him as if over a ramp! I held on tight, fearing I would be thrown from my craft, or worse still, it would capsize and sink, but the steady vessel came down true and splashed back into the murky waters.

Almost immediately the engine began to protest and I turned just in time to find the unfortunate had his hand trapped in the gearing system. The strong little engine squealed in protest but didn’t stop, it pulled the creature into its grinding maw inch by terrible inch, snapping bone and rending flesh as it did so. Drawn in by its arm, the zombie was soon up to its elbow and then its shoulder before the gears began to bite down in the poor devil’s neck. All the while its undead, unblinking eyes glared at me and its free hand grasped and clawed as it desperately tried to reach me and pull me into its terrible mouth.

In horror I noticed that the creatures efforts were tearing it free of the boats gears! Skin and muscle tore away, bones cracked and snapped free as it began to pull itself out of the engine and towards me. With a heavy heart and the words “forgive me” on my lips I swung my satchel at its face and with a single blow pushed its head backwards into the gears whose terrible teeth took one bite and refused to let go again. The engine wheezed briefly, redoubled its effort and with a wet crunch I shall never forget cracked the zombie’s head like an egg. Blood, brains and gore erupted behind me and the creature’s body, now finally lifeless and at rest, sank to the bottom of the vile sewer. I was safe!

Ahead of me, in the inky blackness, the moaning started again. I set my jaw, eased back the steam valve and spluttered forwards once more…

****************************

The journey through the sewers, the killing of more undead souls, the flight through the panicked streets of Clockhaven are events burnt into my mind forever by the sheer horror of that night. I can not bring myself to recount them all and I trust you will forgive me if I leave my tale of terror where it rests, at the bottom of a sewer in a foreign city whose people lost so much in one terrible night.

Yet please allow me, by way of an ending to my tale, to tell you that I did escape, as you can clearly see, and I did so unscathed. I was ushered onboard the Clockhaven Queen, this time far from empty but rather filled with the injured and dying. The smell of death and of burning was everywhere. As the Queen sailed out to sea, I remember clearly looking back to the fair city of New Babbage and seeing the night sky alight and stained red with fires that burnt all across her.

I had seen the fires before.

I had heard the screams before.

I had sorted the living from the dying and the merely dying from the never dying before.

I had looked into the eyes of the cursed and whispered “forgive me” as I killed them before.

When Lord Slough Feg and his armies had overrun Manchester I had seen what hordes of hungry zombies could do, and what little men and women could do in return, and I’m here to tell you all that whatever you hear about that terrible night in New Babbage, whatever horror stories you are told, bear in mind that when faced with such overwhelming evil, good people are forced to make terrible decisions and do terrible deeds in order to survive. If you meet a survivor of that night, I trust you will look upon them kindly, ask no questions and understand the shadow of horror behind their eyes.

The end.
********