Archive for » June, 2012 «

Elsa’s Reality: A Review

As I mentioned before on my blog this is the debut ebook from a fellow author with the same publishing company as me, red feather writing.

The book is a young adult fantasy with a hint of paranormal and is about a little girl called Elsa and the weird and slightly scary things happening in her world and it starts off with Elsa in a carriage travelling to a new home.

Slowly the novella reveals the reason elsa has to move and then more strange things happen, leaving elsa wondering what the cause of it all is.

I totally loved this little book and read it extremely quickly. Elsa is a gorgeous character and I could really relate to her confusion and attempt to fix things.

It’s fast paced, heart wrenching and very well written and I fell in love with the teddy bear even if I was also simultaneously a little creeped out.

My only warning is it’s not really a happy ending but there is the possibility of a sequel, although I think it’s best left. I know most people want happy endings but I think this book actually works best without.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 18

The smile on Anya’s face gave away her feelings as she lay on her back in Hitchin’s lab. Sherdan ran his hand over her exposed stomach. The sound in her ears was the heart beat of their little baby. Hitchin held the other end of the stethoscope against her stomach.

When she’d given Hitchin back the instrument, Sherdan was left alone with her. He went to kiss Anya but she pulled away; a sadness in her eyes he’d not seen before.

“I have something to tell you,” she whispered and looked away. Sherdan’s stomach churned. It wouldn’t be good news. “You’re not the father. I’m sorry Sherdan, Hitchin is.”

…Sherdan yelled into his pillow as he woke up. He groaned when realised it hadn’t been real. It had felt so vivid. He shivered and his breathing slowed back to normal. He didn’t dare close his eyes again, even though there were still several hours until he had to be awake.

He got up and went out into the hallway, up to Anya’s door. He stood outside aware that she’d have locked herself in. After a few seconds he heard her cry out. The door opened allowing him in.

She lay on the bed in the dim, lamp lit room. Her whole body poured with sweat. She’d kicked off the covers in while she had been thrashing and exposed a great deal of her skin in the over long t-shirt she wore. He tore his eyes from her body and focused on her face. It was screwed up in fear and pain, but her eyes were still closed.

Sherdan went to her while her eyelids flickered in the familiar movements of a dream. By the look on her face and the continued uncomfortable murmurings and movement, he figured she must have been having a nightmare too.

He reached out to stroke her cheek and called her name. She screamed and threw herself off the bed and, somehow, into his arms. She immediately burst into tears and fought against him, disorientated by both his presence and not being in her bed. He held her and hugged her to him.

“It’s okay Anya, you’re safe. It was a nightmare. It wasn’t real,” he whispered.

He repeated the same sentiments again until she calmed down and she sobbed gently against his chest. After a few moments she stopped and pulled away from him. Her embarrassment was evident as she covered herself back up with the duvet. He stayed by her bed, concerned.

“Are you all right?”

“I am now, thank you.”

“What was it?”

“Hitch… Nothing. Just a nightmare. I hardly remember it now.” Sherdan frowned. She’d almost said Hitchin’s name, he was sure of it. She leant back against the head board and closed her eyes. She was very weary.

“It’s not the first nightmare is it?” She laughed and looked at him.

“I was tortured for two days; of course it’s not the first.” Her words were harsh but there was only softness in her eyes.

“I’m sorry.”

“They will fade. Already I’m forgetting what happened.”

“It won’t ever happen again.”

“Perhaps not. Not to me anyway. Would you put others through it?” Sherdan couldn’t look at her.

“You expect a lot of people.”

“No more than I expect of myself.”

There was an awkward hush for a few moments. She reached out and stroked his arm.

“I had a nightmare too.”

“What scares you then?” she asked. Sherdan hesitated. He wasn’t sure why he’d even mentioned it and didn’t know if he wanted to tell her what it had been about.

“I was betrayed by someone I thought I could trust.” He didn’t look at her as he said this. He didn’t want her to see how much it had affected him.

“I’m not tired now. Would you like to play cards until morning?” she suggested. He nodded and smiled.

For the next three hours they sat together at her small table and played many different card games. It helped him relax and he filled her in on the recent developments in the world as well as his plan’s progress. She’d seen his latest TV interview.

“You flirted with the news reporter,” she told him. He laughed.

“Only a little.”

“You won’t be able to do that once you’re married.”

“Perhaps not, but I’m not even officially engaged yet, let alone married.”

When their early morning was up, Sherdan hesitated before leaving. The yellowing bruise on her face had haunted him the whole time he had been with her.

“I’m sorry for losing my temper and hitting you. I shouldn’t have done it.”

“You don’t agree with Hitchin that I should be beaten into submission then?”

“How do you know he advised that?”

“I didn’t leave the lab straight away that day.”

“I don’t agree with Hitchin, no. Violence is not always right, but I do think you’ll be my wife, one way or another.”

Sherdan felt only a little better as he went to try and sort out everything to do with Ellie. Her father’s anger needed to be handled delicately. He fired up his laptop in his study and sat down to compose an email to her father.

To Edward Johnson,

I hope I haven’t said anything which has led to the idea that I would keep Ellie from returning to you if that is her wish. I am merely trying to resolve this issue in a manner which has the best result for everyone involved. Your daughter came here of her own free will and even lied about her age to get past the security checks that we have in place to stop this exact situation from happening.

Your daughter has informed my staff that she still wishes to stay even though you don’t want her to. I would also like to point out that if her desire to be here was made up then she would not have left her home, so many miles from here, just to get here. However, I understand that as a parent you are concerned for the well being of your child and, in your worry, our assurances may not be enough.

I propose that this coming weekend you travel here and, over the course of the two days, let our staff show you around our facility and what Ellie is doing here. It will also give you and your daughter time to talk over her decision. At the end of the weekend, if you still wish to take your daughter home, we’ll refund all your travel expenses and allow you both to leave.

Seeing as Ellie will be eighteen in three months we’ll offer her a place on our course again when she is old enough as long as both of you stick to our non-disclosure agreement. I’ve attached the document. You’ll need to provide a signed copy to the guards on the way in as well as photo id. If you have any other queries my staff will deal with them for you.

Yours sincerely,
Dr Sherdan Harper.

With that issue sorted Sherdan went into his office. He had a report waiting for him, accounting for all his residents whereabouts. None of them had made a complaint. He forwarded the information on to Jeremy.

His next order of business was assigning the new residents different tasks based on their abilities, and after that he needed to look over the plans for expansion. They would need more land if they were going to accept more people.

Applications were still coming in, especially after the recent interview. Different types though: military leavers, others that were fed up with their countries system, people who’d tried to get into things like politics and not been very successful, and a large number of artists, writers and musicians too. Normally they’d be the kinds of people he’d reject but he found himself considering the military applicants as well as the artists who seemed to be like Anya.

Around mid-morning Jeremy phoned. He’d managed to discredit two of the four complaints against Sherdan but the mayor had got wind that Jeremy was helping him and his hands were now tied. The mayor was playing dirty.

Sherdan couldn’t help but be impressed. He hadn’t expected the mayor to be intelligent enough to throw these kinds of things his way.

After setting up another interview for the following Wednesday, Sherdan finished off his work and went back to his house. Anya was sitting in his favourite chair in the study. He tried not to be annoyed.

“You were on the news again today,” she told him.

“I was?”

“Yes, a very tasteful piece about your desire to help people make their lives better.”

“Sounds fairly accurate.” She smirked. “You don’t think so?”

“With you, Sherdan, there is always more than meets the eye.”

“Likewise with you. For one, I am surprised you are still here. Are you not missing your friends and family?”

“There’s still something I’m meant to do here, something God wants me to do, though I know you don’t believe in my God.”

“What are you meant to be doing here?”

“I still don’t know yet.”

He did not know how to respond and let her carry on reading.

Sherdan checked his emails after dinner. Ellie’s father had accepted his request to come visit the following weekend. Anya continued to lounge in his study as if it was her own home. He found her highly distracting, as he tried to work.

“Are you going to work tomorrow as well?” she asked.

“Why?”

“Tomorrow’s Sunday.”

“I work every day,” he explained.

“I was thinking that it might be fun to do something together in the afternoon.”

“Do you have something in mind?”

“There’s a theatre show I’d like to see.”

“I’ve got an arrest warrant out on me.”

“That didn’t stop you appearing on the news.”

“True… okay, we can go to the theatre.” She smiled and kissed him on the cheek before leaving him to his work. He frowned. She had only shown affection because he had given her what she wanted. It did not make him feel any more confident in her willingness to cooperate.

The arranged outing, and the peace and quiet as a result, helped Sherdan be very productive for the rest of the evening. He filed more paperwork with the government in preparation for Wednesday’s announcement.

Snow White and the Huntsman: A Review

Fairytale remakes seems to be in fashion in Hollywood at the moment but this one seems to have benefited from the remake. The story wasn’t exactly the same but that was a good thing. The film could have risked being completely predictable but it wasn’t actually that bad. There were inevitably going to be the odd few moment where you thought ‘I know what’s going to happen now’ but they didn’t detract from the film.

The film blended little bits from several of my favourites, with the backdrop of Lord of The Rings as well as a hint of the newer Alice In Wonderland and a bit of a Game of Thrones style medievil influence, without the nakedness and gore. It turned out to be a pretty impressive combination and I adored the world that was created.

On top of all that the casting was really pretty good. The Huntsman was one of my favourite characters and I even managed to ignore the resemblence of Bella from Twilight and Snow White because even though she looked almost identical she still felt different enough and olde worlde enough that I didn’t feel like I was watching a different film at any point.

My favourite part was, by far, when the dwarves appeared. They were delightful and the casting was, yet again, perfect. I really recommend anyone who likes a good plot and old fashioned hero style films to go see this one as soon as you can.

How to write good dialogue

I’ve already done a blog on this topic and linked to Konrath’s blog with his tips. I’d like to discuss it a bit more but since I’m going on holiday in a few days I want to keep it short so one way to help yourself writing good dialogue is to watch and read things with good dialogue.

Films are especially good as the dialogue is often very important. If it’s even slightly boring people switch off from a film and good acting combines the dialogue with the right amount of body language to give you everything you need for describing those character interactions too.

The film I’d currently recommend as one of the best to see to learn how to do some pretty awesome dialogue is The Avengers. This film has some of the best deliveries of lines and some of the best lines themselves that I’ve seen in a long time and is well worth the watch for that alone (of course it helps that the rest of the film is awesome as well).

And of course the best thing is practice. So keep writing folks.

Sanctuary, Millenium’s children: A Review

This books by Austin Caroll was awesome, pure awesome, one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

I totally loved the characters in this book and the way they handled things. Sometimes YA books where the characters are younger than the author don’t feel quite right but I really believed the ages of the children and the problems they faced.

The plot weaved nicely and I didn’t see every plot twist coming, especially the big reveal about what was the root of the powers the kids had. I won’t say as I don’t want to spoil the surprise but it was a great sci-fi book and did make me long slightly for kids old enough that I could read it too.

I always like sci-fi alien stuff and so I suppose you could say I was already a little pre-disposed to liking the book anyway but I really hope a sequel of some kind comes soon.

 

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 17

Sherdan thought about Anya’s test results while he was being driven to London for his interview. If it wasn’t the enzyme that had given her an ability then there was a possibility someone else had done something similar. The only other explanation, was the existence of some higher being or force; a force that wished Anya to be with him and to one day be his wife.

When Sherdan arrived at the news room he did as he had done at the previous interview and became lovely and gracious in an instant. His host, like last time, was female and he charmed her while they were waiting and watched from the edges while the rest of the news was broadcast. He would be last on the air before the weather.

There wasn’t much in the news except the continued chaos in the Gaza Strip. Sherdan smiled slightly. It wouldn’t be long before they had something else in the news; something much closer to home.

Sherdan was waved onto the set when it was finally his time to speak. He was introduced in a very formal way and a clip of the police trying to get into his facility was shown to the viewers.

“Dr Harper, it appears that your facility has technology which the rest of the world doesn’t know about. Could you explain how you’ve managed to keep such advances from the public and what you intend to do with it?”

“The technology is a recent development by the people within my program. As I’ve said before, I give people the chance to start again; to find a new talent and put themselves to use. There are many other great developments and projects thanks to the people who have joined me.”

“Why have you put all these barriers up if people are welcome to join you?”

“The residents who’ve already joined me feel that their privacy is important. They, like me, understand that other people can often feel like they are threatened when a group of people make huge leaps in technology. The feeling of threat can make people do things they regret. The barriers are there to protect my residents from the organisations that might react whether they be a few individuals, a city, or a government.”

“You don’t think that you make the threat appear worse by segregating your community?”

“It potentially does but it’s not meant to. We mean no one any harm and anyone is welcome to join us. I do want my residents to feel safe, however, and this is one of the precautions.”

“Thank you Dr Harper. Am I right to understand that there’s been an arrest notice put out for you?”

“Yes, there was for a few days. The Mayor of Bristol is one of these people who reacts with force when unsure of things. He didn’t like me privatising the roads between my resident’s houses.”

“But that arrest request no longer stands?”

“Not that I’m aware of.”

“Do you have any other surprises in store?”

“Yes. A few at least.” Sherdan smiled, “I’ve not finished with my plans in the slightest.”

“Can you tell us some of your plans?”

“Not very easily. None of them have been fixed. I think the number of people who are part of the organisation will grow and with that may well come changes. I do intend to continue as I’ve started and I think people will be hearing more of us in the future.”

Sherdan’s interview ended there. He’d not really said much. He still didn’t think the time was right to tell people of the abilities the residents had but it wouldn’t be much longer. Eventually someone would leak the information and he wanted to beat them to it.

Thankfully the news reporter did not seem to know about Anya or the minor they had living with them who hadn’t obtained parental consent. No one had even declared her missing yet, despite it being almost an entire month since she had become his prisoner.

It had never occurred to him, until that moment, that someone might be missing Anya. She had family and friends who may not know where she had gone even if they even knew she was still alive.

By the time Sherdan got back it was late evening and he’d narrowly missed another police attempt to arrest him, at the studio. If he’d not left promptly they’d have caught him. There were police at every barrier around the facility so the driver had to keep going past them all rather than turn in.

His chauffeur automatically drove to a small building half a mile away and pulled up into the garage. Built into the floor was a lift that took the car down into a tunnel and allowed Sherdan to travel along into his compound and up into his own garage. He’d hoped not to have to use it yet but the fresh arrest attempt had been unexpected.

When Sherdan arrived back, Anya was in her room reading and, although she remained polite, she didn’t do anything to keep the conversation going. He left her alone again, not wanting the hassle.

He suspected she resented him for hitting her but he didn’t know for sure. He had no intention of apologising for his actions either way. She would have to accept him for who he was. He accepted her, despite disliking her belief system and several other things about her.

The following day, Anya finally asked about her test results. Sherdan hesitated before giving her an answer. Here was an opportunity for him to get her to submit to more tests.

“Unfortunately there was a problem with the blood test. Hitchin would like to do another and will possibly need to do other tests to figure out for sure if it was our drug or not.”

“Oh, that’s odd. Hitchin told me that a blood test should be enough to figure out if the enzyme was the same?”

“Well, at the least, he’s going to need you to do another blood test.”

“I’ll come to the lab with you this morning then,” she replied and put her book down.

Neither of them spoke the whole way over to the main command facility. Sherdan didn’t know how to repair the rift between them. It had always been Anya who had made the conversation progress and all her effort had disappeared.

She didn’t need showing where to go and said goodbye to go into the lab, not expecting him to come too. He couldn’t think of a reason to accompany her and, after a moment’s thought, had to pull out his mobile phone and email Hitchin.

Hitchin had asked for Anya to be sent for more tests but not for the reason Sherdan had told her. Hopefully Hitchin wouldn’t let Anya realise that. The last thing he needed was another reason for her to be angry at him.

When Sherdan settled down to his work in the command bunker he had an email waiting for him from Ellie’s father. He’d figured out where she had gone and wanted her back. Sherdan had to think very carefully about his response.

Hitchin had spoken to the girl and she didn’t want to return to her home. She’d also developed her ability: when she touched people she could tell exactly what they were feeling. A very useful skill.

Sherdan knew to be as polite as possible to what would be a very worried father, and simply explained that Ellie hadn’t informed them of her true age and, upon speaking to her, they had learnt that she still wished to stay. He didn’t point out that forcing her back home when she wanted to be in the program wouldn’t be helpful to her. He wanted to strike up a trustful correspondence with the father, if he could, and tried to sound like he only had Ellie’s best interests in mind.

Sherdan moved on to finding out why he was under arrest again. As far as he was aware, the mayor had dropped the original charge against him. It had proved highly unsuccessful. He soon had Jeremy on the phone.

“Hello friend, I hope you are well?”

“Very well thank you Dr Harper. How can I help you today?”

“I believe I’m the target of another arrest attempt but I’m completely baffled why this time.”

“I hadn’t heard of anything… just let me check our database for why… Ah, yes, here it is. Apparently several of your residents who have left have complained about manipulation and coercion into the program.”

“Can you tell me who, because as far as I am aware no residents have left?”

“I can’t find out who from this database. I’d need to look into it and probe further to see if they’re real complaints.”

“Please do.”

Sherdan put the phone down and immediately requested a full check of every person within the perimeter. If residents had left and gone to the police then he wanted to know before Jeremy.

While he waited for all the information concerning his residents and replies to his earlier emails, Sherdan continued to make preparations for the next stage of his plan. His next stint on TV would include a big announcement. It was possible that already strained political relationships would get even worse as a result, and many things would change about their way of life, in a very short space of time.

It soothed him that the entire facility was now self sufficient in every way. They had enough food and water, and a continual source of energy from harnessing many of the different talents the residents had developed.

Sherdan ended his day by going to see Hitchin. Anya had gone back to the house after letting him take more blood. She did not even let Sherdan know she had left, Hitchin had done that for her.

“The samples are the same as last time. There’s the same similar enzyme in her blood work but, the second I tried to figure out what it was, it faded out of the sample. In all three samples, it didn’t fade out until I tried to map the exact molecular structure of it.”

“What are you saying?”

“Something doesn’t want us to know how she got her power.”

“Something?”

“Without doing further tests I can’t say what, whether the enzyme is designed to fade out of the blood once out of the body or if something is helping Anya’s ability to stay a mystery to us. Quite simply, scientifically I can’t explain it.”

“I’ll try to persuade Anya to do more tests.”

“Oh, before you go. Could you check in on the few left in the latest test group? There are three who haven’t figured out what they’ve gained yet and we could do with knowing.”

“Will they all have developed them yet?”

“Possibly not, but it’s rare for three out of twenty not to have one yet.” Sherdan nodded and went through to the ward.

There were two middle aged women and a man in his fifties. He smiled and conversed with all three for a few minutes, checking they were happy and comfortable. Oddly, Sherdan couldn’t see if any of them had a power and definitely couldn’t figure out what they might be. He went back through to Hitchin.

“Sorry friend. I don’t think any of them have abilities yet. Start the next group while you’re waiting for these ones to develop.”

“Of course. Come back soon though.”

“I will come as soon as I can find time.”

Anya waited for Sherdan in his study that evening and he walked in on her before he realised she occupied the room.

“What were my test results?” She asked before he’d had time to acknowledge her.

“It’s not the same enzyme.” Her face lit up. “It’s behaving oddly too. Hitchin would really like to do more tests.”

“I don’t think more are necessary. God’s given me one of your abilities. I know everything I need to know.”

Sherdan slammed his laptop down on his desk. She ignored his anger and left the room. He hesitated before following her all the way to the top of the house.

“I know we don’t agree whether some kind God has anything to do with this, but I would really appreciate it if you let Hitchin do further tests. We just want to know for sure that the change in you isn’t caused by us.”

“You said it yourself: it’s a different enzyme.”

“It is, but it could be a mutated version of our own. For your health…”

“My health!” she interrupted. “Don’t lie to me Sherdan. This is purely your curiosity and disbelief, and has nothing to do with concern for me.”

“I do care about you Anya.”

“You were very good at showing your ‘care’ when you let me be tortured for over two days, and when you locked me up right after.”

“That was before I knew you.”

“So what was meant by hitting me? It’s not the first time you’ve got so angry you’ve hurt me or gone to do so either.”

“Is that what’s bugging you about me?”

“What doesn’t annoy me about you?”

Sherdan glared at her and left the room before he made matters worse. He slammed his way across the hall to his own bedroom. She was impossible. He paced as he ran their argument through his head.

Her Christian beliefs made her stupid. If he even slightly questioned them she got offended and continued assuming everything unexplainable was her God. Sherdan himself wasn’t perfect but he was only trying to find out the truth and do what was best for her. As his future wife he did care about her well being.

When he finally emerged from his room, she had already eaten dinner without him and locked her door from the inside so he couldn’t disturb her. He didn’t know when she’d taken the key, but it infuriated him all over again, especially when he learnt she’d taken the only spare key as well.

Before Sherdan went to bed, he received a reply from Ellie’s father. His email sounded very angry and he demanded that Ellie be sent home as well as expressing his disbelief that she wanted to be there.

Sherdan did not reply right then. He wanted to think carefully about his response and the email had been sent late enough that he wouldn’t be expected to still be awake. The longer he could delay the father going to the police the better, assuming he hadn’t already.

Sherdan didn’t want to have an active arrest warrant when he did his announcement, if at all possible. It would make some parts of the plan significantly harder if there was.

The Adventures of Tintin: A Review

I got really annoyed I missed this film at the cinema but thankfully I got to see it recently anyway.

Tintin was one of those cartoons I watched and loved as a child and thankfully I really wasn’t dissapointed with the film. With the director and writer I expected the film to be quite serious so for the first 20 minutes or so I felt a little confused with a few events but as soon as I realised the film was trying to be taken much more light heartedly and with quite a bit of tongue in cheek humour I found myself transfixed.

The casting surprised me but was actually pretty good. Daniel Craig made a very good bad guy (as brits usually do) and Tintin was so spot on I couldn’t have asked for me. My slight dissapointment lay in Andy Serkis. Very occasionally something came out of Haddock’s mouth that made me think Gollum. I can’t decide if that’s because the actor’s voice difference wasn’t good enough or because I’ve only actually heard his voice as Gollum before.

Overall I really really liked this film and still feel a bit gutted I didn’t get to see it at the cinema. I’ll be buying it as soon as I can as I think it’s definitely worth watching again.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 16

Sherdan had been preoccupied all morning by Anya’s remark the night before. She had said her future husband was a hardened criminal. It had been the first time she had referred to a relationship with him in a positive way, if you could call being a criminal a positive thing. Either way, it had made it very difficult to focus on his work.

The chief of police had phoned when he had finally heard of the arrest claim out on Sherdan. He’d also been informed of the interesting barrier they had. Sherdan had laughed and refused to explain. He’d warned the mayor. Admittedly he had wanted a little more time before needing the lines of defence he was already using but he’d made his point.

The news had featured him and his compound all the morning. It showed clips from his interview as well as a few home videos of the police trying to walk past the barriers. None of the reporters could explain what had happened and, although they also interviewed the police officers, none of them could comment on what was wrong. There had been fresh requests for interviews as well as a huge boost in applications.

Sherdan had spent most of the morning talking to the security guards as the police kept trying to come in and arrest him. It was important that the guards didn’t do anything threatening that would give the police a reason to use violence in gaining an entrance, especially shooting at anything or anyone.

Around mid-afternoon, Hitchin sent Sherdan an email informing him that the injection for Anya was ready. Sherdan finished up what he was doing and left the security commander in charge of the command bunker. Now that he could give her an ability he wasn’t going to waste any time.

Hitchin was eager to inject Anya himself and Sherdan couldn’t see any reason to object. He would then be on hand if any immediate health problems arose.

Sherdan hoped that, even if it made her angry at first, she would finally decide to be his bride and embrace her new life with him. Their conversation the night before had shown him that their relationship was progressing nicely.

Despite the recent encouragement, Sherdan was still nervous in the car on the way to see her. Hitchin seemed entirely unaffected but Sherdan couldn’t talk to him. He didn’t want to let Hitchin know how much he wanted Anya to be willing. Allowing someone to say no to him wasn’t normal and not something he wanted people to be aware of.

He led Hitchin upstairs to her room. The last thing he expected was for her to not even be there. He noticed the pile of her clothes in the middle of the floor and assumed she was having a bath or shower. How wrong he was. He ran from the room as he reached for his radio.

“Anya’s got free again. Please mobilise all security teams. Don’t let her reach any of the perimeters. Be advised the police are still lingering at several of the major barriers.”

“Yes, Sir,” Graham replied. Sherdan then sat himself down at his desk to pull up the camera feed for her room. Hitchin came in several seconds after.

They watched for half an hour before the saw Anya stood in front of her mirror in the clothes that he’d seen on the pile, staring at it intensly.

A noise from behind the two men made them both jump and turn around.

“Hello,” she said as she walked into the room, pulling down her t-shirt as if she’d only just put it on. Sherdan’s mouth fell open before he stood up. He walked towards her and raised his arm to backhand her. She shrank back, her eyes wide.

“Sherdan!” Hitchin yelled. He was pointing at the screen.

“What?” Sherdan was furious and didn’t appreciate the interruption. Anya grabbed his arm bringing his attention back to her.

“This,” she said as she disappeared. Both men gasped. Her clothes came towards Sherdan before they fell to the floor in a heap.

“I seem to have an ability,” she explained from somewhere in front of him. He reached out his arm and waved it in front of him. He couldn’t feel anything. “That was right through me.”

“Oh my God.”

“I’m still working out exactly how to do everything so excuse me a moment.”

Sherdan watched Anya’s pile of clothes lift up and leave the room. He then turned to Hitchin. The surveillance footage played behind him, completely forgotten by everyone. Sherdan suddenly regained cognitive thought.

“Stand down security. Anya has been found.”

“As you wish sir,” the radio answered.

“Hitchin, I don’t think we’ll be needing that injection.”

“No you won’t be,” Anya answered as she rejoined them.

“I would like to run some tests,” Hitchin said as he got up out of his seat. Sherdan nodded as he smiled at her.

She stood there, before him, with an ability; an ability that would enable her to leave and yet she was still here, looking relaxed and calm. Not only that, she had a light in her eyes and a grin on her face which said even more to him.

“I’d like to start with a blood test.” Hitchin interrupted the unspoken conversation.

“Of course Hitchin, I’ll bring Anya into the lab tomorrow. For now, I think the two of us need some time alone.”

“I’ll see you both tomorrow then.”

Hitchin didn’t get a reply. Sherdan held Anya’s gaze and everything else was forgotten. Neither of them noticed the scientist leave. Sherdan went towards her and took both of her hands in his.

“I’m sorry for getting angry just now.”

“You’re forgiven.”

“Will you show me your ability again?” She nodded and within seconds all he could see was her clothes. He could still feel her hands in his. His eyes went wide as he gave her fingers a squeeze.

“There seems to be two stages. This is where I’m invisible but still solid, and this one…” she said as her clothes became a pile on the floor for the seventh time that day. Sherdan grinned.

“I think I like this part.”

“I can pass through anything in this state.”

“Go back to being solid but invisible,” he requested. He soon felt her hand touch his. He reached out and took it firmly, pulling her closer and closer to him.

“Sherdan,” she warned. He reached out and grabbed her left arm. Despite not being able to see her, his lips met hers several seconds later.

Just as he’d suspected, she didn’t protest or stop him. He wrapped his arms around her invisible body. She finally thought he had gone too far and melted out of solid form and out of his arms. He sighed.

“I was enjoying that.”

“A little too much. I’ve still not made my mind up about your friend’s vision.”

“Yet you are still here.”

“God wants me to be.”

“You want to be with me, you mean?”

“I will go wherever God called me without reference to anyone else.”

“So why do you think you’re here?” he asked as he sat down.

“I don’t know yet, for now I’m here.”

“I want us to marry.”

“I know. You’re going to have to be patient.”

“Don’t keep me waiting for too long.” Sherdan watched as her clothes got up and walked from the room again. A perfectly visible and attired Anya came back. She sat in the seat opposite him.

“For now I will stay here and, for the most part, do as I’m told.”

Sherdan felt like swearing. All control he had was gone and she knew it. Anya could do as she wished and nothing could stop her. His only hope was her belief in her God. He knew she had no respect for Hitchin’s prophecy or vision.

He sat for some time so deep in thought he didn’t remember that he wasn’t alone. He stayed that way until she got up, came over and knelt in front of him.

“I know that you’re not happy that I won’t do what you want and you can’t make me, but I’m here now and not going anywhere. I believe in living in the present.” She kissed him on the cheek. “I don’t know about you but I’m famished.”

She smiled at him and he couldn’t help but respond in the same manner.

For the first time since she had been in his house they ate together in the dining room. He’d never had a woman eat with him in that room and he enjoyed the change. She looked completely at home in the dining chair; sat back, her meal finished and an half full glass of wine in her hand. He’d had the dining room lit by candlelight and she looked beautiful in the flickering glow.

They spent a very pleasant evening together. The third out of the last four. They talked of nothings all evening. She loved to watch sci-fi films and they discussed their favourites for a long time. Oddly, they agreed on most of the good ones. Not long after, they were both sat side by side, watching a film with a bottle of wine and two glasses.

He had to carry her up to her bed again after their evening’s entertainment. She smiled at him from her bed once he’d tucked her in.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“What for?”

“For making my life exciting.”

“Was it dull before?”

“Not exactly dull but no where near as interesting as it has been the last two weeks.”

“Well then, you’re welcome.” Anya smiled before rolling over and closing her eyes.

Sherdan lay in bed thinking of the last few days for many hours. He felt happy despite his lack of control concerning Anya. She had stayed.

For the next few days he would be able to focus on the development of the program. There were many hurdles still to overcome and things were moving faster than even his original predictions. It was good that he had planned ahead.

Anya came with him willingly to the laboratory in the morning. She didn’t want a huge number of tests but she wished to eliminate the possibility of her having been accidentally given the enzyme. He agreed at the logic.

Hitchin had already prepared to take blood samples and test them. Sherdan left her with his friend while he went to continue his work in the command bunker. He didn’t really want to be with them while they investigated the source of her gift. He hadn’t been able to tell she had one let alone what it was. This unsettled him. His own ability should have alerted him to hers.

He hoped that there was a slight difference in her blood work somewhere but he didn’t want to be there when they found out. For now he had other matters to sort out.

The check had come back on the young woman from the latest group of residents. She had lied about her age. She was only seventeen not nineteen and the worst part was that she hadn’t got her father’s permission to be there. They had essentially given a minor the drug and helped her run away from home.

Sherdan sighed. They couldn’t let her leave, but legally they would have to let her father take her home. He’d have to think long and hard about what to do with Ellie. Now he had two girls to worry about not just one.

He had the information passed on to Hitchin so he could confront the child. Sherdan would leave it up to him to decide what to do after that.

He turned his focus back to running the compound. Other than the hiccups with Anya, everything had been going according to plan. Their final line of defence was now fully in place.

Sherdan was also going on the TV the following day. It was time he did another news interview to announce some more of his plan. He wouldn’t be anywhere near as prepared as he had for the first interview and it would be live. He would have to think on his feet, but that did not bother him.

Hitchin soon emailed him to let him know that he had finished with Anya. She’d refused to allow any tests other than the blood test. Every time Hitchin tried anything else she used her power to move. Sherdan went to the laboratory as soon as he noticed the message.

Anya sat on a swivel chair at one of the desks, spinning cutely and making him think of their evening in the snow. Hitchin ignored her and was processing the blood samples he’d taken. She smiled when she saw Sherdan, but didn’t stop her circles.

“How’s everything going in here?”

“Well,” Anya replied. Hitchin’s face said otherwise.

“I can’t get Miss Price to allow any further testing.”

“No more is necessary for the moment,” she said.

“Anya, please?”

“No. You can determine whether it’s your drug in my system or not and leave it at that.”

“Don’t make me angry.” Sherdan stopped her from spinning in the chair. She stood up.

“No Sherdan. I don’t belong to you and it’s time you realised it. I won’t just do what you tell me to do.”

Without thinking, Sherdan slapped her. She stood in shock for a moment before she vanished and her clothes fell to the ground in front of him. A few seconds later the laboratory door opened. Sherdan rushed after her.

“Anya, get back here now!” He looked both ways in the hallway but couldn’t tell which way she’d gone let alone if she’d heard him.

“Stupid girl,” Hitchin said when Sherdan came back, “The power of her new found ability has gone straight to her head.”

“She thinks it’s from her God.” Sherdan picked up the pile of clothes.

“She needs to learn to submit to you and your wishes; that she’s been brought her to be your wife and supporter, in all you do.”

“How can I show her that, when she can disappear when she wants?”

“That slap was probably an effective start. Show her you mean business and she’ll come around. I’ve seen it. You’ll have her in her place soon.”

“I had best go find her. She’ll want her clothes. Let me know the test results as soon as you do.”

Sherdan walked out into the hall and headed towards the nearest building exit.

“Anya?” he called when he heard a noise nearby. The fire door in front of him opened by itself.

“Anya, come on, I know you’re there. Stop hiding.”

“I will not submit to you just because Hitchin thinks I should.” He watched as her footprints ran off into the snow and towards his house. He hoped she didn’t feel temperature in her invisible state.

He went back to his work, leaving her to do as she wished. He could not lose focus on the bigger task because of a single woman. Hitchin could help him persuade her to submit to him even if that meant trying out the inhibitor for the abilities they were testing, assuming she had exactly the same drug in her system.

For the rest of the day, Sherdan worked in the command bunker. The police had backed off with their attempted arrest after the mayor had been forced to admit Sherdan had filed all relevant paperwork. On TV the news reporter had made a point of saying the only reason Sherdan had done anything wrong in the eyes of the law was because the mayor didn’t like what had happened to the roads.

The same news reporter would be interviewing him the next day and this made Sherdan even more confident it would go well.

He took Anya’s clothes up to her room as soon as he got back to the house. A small part of him expected her to be gone and back in the safety of her own home. Instead, he found her sat on the bed reading one of the books from his study.

She’d put on fresh clothes. He instantly noticed the bruise on the side of her face where he had hit her and his stomach churned. He regretted it but he could not let her know.

Anya thanked him for returning her clothing and went straight back to the book.

“Do you want to eat here or in my dining room?”

“Neither, I’ve already eaten.” She didn’t even look up from her book.

“Fine.” Sherdan left her before he got cross with her. The image of the bruise played in his head and he knew he would not forget it in a hurry. He’d never hit a woman before and wasn’t sure he liked the fact Hitchin had not only approved but encouraged it. He guessed that in her mind he’d already done a lot worse by letting her be interrogated.

He sat down on the bottom step and sighed. He had got used to eating his meals with someone and did not want to eat alone.

With his head in his hands he sat and thought. He had no idea how he was going to get Anya to marry him. If it hadn’t been for Hitchin’s vision he wouldn’t have been sure he even wanted her to be his wife. His ideal partner probably wouldn’t have had a religious faith or been so opinionated.

Anya refused to eat breakfast with Sherdan as well and she seemed more happy than not when he told her he wouldn’t be around for dinner because he had a news interview and had to be in the studio when they would normally eat. He swore as he left her room. She was being completely unreasonable.

Hitchin emailed the test results to Sherdan when he arrived at the compound. The enzyme in her system did not match the enzyme they had been giving people. That was all the information included in the email, except for Hitchin asking him to come to the lab when he had a chance. Sherdan knew that more had been found out. He excused himself from his duties as soon as he could.

“Hitchin, what other information do you have for me?”

“Ah, Sherdan, you want to look at this.” Hitchin pulled up a computer image of the blood sample on a microscopic scale. He used the mouse pointer to circle the enzyme particles in her blood. He then showed one enhanced image of the enzyme and the different shape it was in comparison to their own.

“So it’s different? Can you map the enzyme in her and see if it’s better than our drug?”

“Unfortunately not from the computer images I have of it.”

“Well, you’ve still got the enzyme in the blood haven’t you?”

“Come and see.” Hitchin led Sherdan over to the microscope and fed a slide in marked Anya B1. Sherdan looked at it for some time before pulling back and looking at Hitchin.

“I can’t find any enzyme in her sample.”

“No. There isn’t any of it left in any of the blood samples I took. It has completely disappeared from her blood.”

“Surely that should take longer?”

“Yes. It should leave traces too but there are none. It’s like it wasn’t ever there in the first place.”

“That’s not possible,” Sherdan said, frowning.

“I’m going to need to do more testing.”

The Dark Lake: A Review

You may remember I interviewed the author of the dark Lake, Anthea Carson, a while back, well her book caught my attention so I added it to my tbr for review.

The blurb from amazon talks of a middle aged woman who lives with her parents still because of something that happened twenty years earlier and is still haunting her. I thought the premise was something I could really sink my teeth into.

I wasn’t dissapointed. The book is well written, fast paced and weaved flashbacks and all sorts of emotional problems for the main character into a whirl of activity. I really felt the characters anguish as she tried to sort out her tangled past.

I thoroughly recommend the book to anyone who likes stories that reflect real life and it’s hardships but I do have one small problem with the book I felt I should pass along, where it ends. It didn’t feel like the end of the book at all, hardly anything was resolved and if I didn’t already know there would be another book to follow up I think I’d have hurled my kindle in dismay. I know it’s good to have people wanting the next book but it was a bit too much of a stop right in the middle of the story kind of ending for me. I’d have liked a little something to have been resolved at the least.

Justice, the European Arrest Warrant, and Assange

What do these three have in common? It would seem, absolutely nothing!

In late 2010 it came to light that Sweden wanted to question Julian Assange over a possible case against him for what might be considered rape in swedish laws (as far as I can gather it’s consensual sex but not consensual un-protected sex that’s causing the issues), and I want to stress that they only wish to question him, not to actually charge him.

Assange obviously appealed. He has no wish to be jailed in Sweden just because the prosecutor wishes to question him, surely she can do that via the British police or a video conference. It’s not like he’s going anywhere. He’s been under house arrest for 550 days as of the date of this post.

On top of that there has also been a leek from Stratfor’s internal email system confirming that the US have a sealed indictment to extradite Assange to the US which was granted by a secret grand jury. At any point this could be opened and then they would call for his extradition. Sweden has a slightly different agreement with the US on extradition than many other european countries do. The most notable being the clause for ‘temporary’ surrender of any of their prisoners to the US to face any possible US charges. ie it’s easier from Sweden than any other European country. There’s more info on that here about a third of the way down the page. I’d also like to being attention to the fact that this clause hasn’t been challenged by Sweden since 2000 so there chances of protecting Assange and not letting him be extradited on are very slim.

I seriously doubt Assange wants to be extradited to the US to face possible charges of treason/espionage act, both of which have the death penalty if found guilty, especially considering how a secret grand jury works. The grand jury is a randomly selected bunch of people who sit in a room where no one is present for the defendant unless witnesses are called forward, no lawyers for any witnesses or the defendant are present and the prosecutor has to convince the jury to press charges. Yup you heard that right, no one defends at all and a jury has to decide based on that, so of course there’s an indictment against Assange.

Here’s where I think things have gone wrong.

  1. He’s not actually being charged. He’s only wanted for questioning and the case has already been closed and re-opened since it was first brought to light in I think April 2010.
  2. It’s normal for questioning to happen without the defendant having to leave their home country. They just get the country’s police to act as go betweens or set up video conferencing to do the questioning. For some reason they’re not doing this here.
  3. Sweden’s papers have been slandering Assange, printing things which aren’t true, and even the PM has spoken out about Assange being a rapist, so the vast majority of Swedish people, including the PM, have decided he’s guilty, before he’s even been charged, let alone tried. There’s now no way he can be assured a fair trial in Sweden.
  4. The person who asked for arrest in the UK has to be seperate from the prosecutor and part of the court system (a judge) instead to ensure no conflict of interest and impartiality. This isn’t the case with Assange’s arrest warrant. It’s a prosecutor who has asked for his arrest, someone with a conflict of interests. This is what was argued in the Supreme Court.
  5. I’m not 100% sure but do believe that the charges being investigated are that he had consensual sex without the use of protection, and the issue was the lack of protection. I don’t think this is actually a prosecutable offence in the UK. Now leaving out whether it should be or not (I actually think it should) that’s a problem.
  6. The Supreme Court have a motion of 5-2 to extradite Assange, where two of the 5 based their answer on something not even brought up or agued about during the court hearings and for the first time ever in the history of the supreme court are allowing the defendant to appeal for the court itself to reopen the case and talk about that point. If you watch the video they even seemed to expect this. They seem to be having trouble making up their minds. I’ve also mentioned some more of what they have to say in the bottom paragraph.
  7. The Uk courts are not allowed to look at the evidence for the possible charge before deciding whether to extradite Assange or not and Assange hasn’t even been given everything.

Leaving aside whether Assange is guilty or not and how the possible victims must feel, there’s a lot wrong with this case.

But even going into the guilt or not guilt there’s issues. For starters even if you assume Assange is guilty (which isn’t how we’re meant to think, innocent until proven guilty remember), the case has been handled badly and technically there is the possibility they’ve not even got enough actual evidence to charge him. It’s a far cry from wanting to question to wanting to charge and if they closed the case once for lack of evidence, what makes you think they have more evidence now when they’ve still not actually charged him.

On top of that, even if he’s guilty there’s a significanct chance he’ll be found guilty in Sweden regardless. The Swedish PM himself called him a rapist in front of the public. Last I checked he’d not been charged. Again that, innocent until proven guilty, thing. There’s a significant chance he’s going to be decided as guilty in Sweden regardlessly and theoretically it’s his human right to be protected from that kind of prejudice. Admittedly this creates other problems. With his trial so public is there now any way to ensure him a fair trial? and what about the victims? if he is guilty they need justice, but is it even possible for them to get justice anymore? I don’t know the answers to these questions but a fair trial is important.

Going back to the assumption he’s innocent then there are even more problems. He’s facing prison in Sweden from a biased trial and possibly even extradition to the US all because of something he may well have not done. In the mean time he’s had to spend 550 days under house arrest and yes that may well be in a mansion but, seriously, is that any reason to fight less for his rights to freedom because he essentially has a nicer prison than most people do (I did actually have someone say this to me. ‘It’s ok, his house arrest is in a mansion.’ A cage is a cage no matter how nice the curtains)?

This whole fiasco could be prevented by the prosecutor aggreeing to either, question him via a video conference, and/or sign an official agreement with the UK courts that Assange, under no circumstances will be handed over to the US at any point during the proceedings. Assange is much more likely to go to Sweden to be questioned if he knows he’s not going to be extraded to the US as soon as he gets there. Alternatively rather than having the costs of him going over to Sweden to be questioned, he could just be questioned here and held under house arrest for the next 48 hours so they can decide to charge, because if I remember right in UK law, someone not charged but suspected of a crime, like Assange is, can only be held for questioning for 48 hours before they have to be released, unless enough evidence is gathered to press charges (which has already been deemed not possible once). So Assange has been in prison 548 days longer than that all because he wants to be questioned here rather than there. Am I the only person who can see how messed in the head that is! Just question him here already people!

Whether he did it or not surely justice would be better served by just asking the guy the questions now, rather than dragging it out for whichever side is the actual victim here.

On top of the sillyness. Why can’t the UK courts look at the evidence already gathered and see for themselves if the whole case is rediculous or not! That way all the time being wasted on whether the arrest warrant is even valid would be moot. If there’s not enough evidence to charge him then they don’t get to extradite him, simple as that.

Finally for another set of plain stupidity, this time by our own judges in the Supreme court there’s a great blog here which goes over a few snippets from the SC’s document and current view on things. There’s one lord who’s basically said he views International cooperation of a higher importance than ensuring that the judicial authority is impartial. Ie as long as our allies our happy who gives a stuff if a citizen gets a fair trial or not. Another of the judges then goes on to say that the french word used in the initial agreement allows for the prosecutor to be a valid judicial authority, so is going with what the french think, despite it not matching with the English definition of the word. Last I checked the Judge was in the UK courts and a Uk citizen but he seems to have confused our country with France!