If you like your Sci-Fi a little weird and a lot funny, then you should give this short debut novel a try, since it’s free for the next couple of days! Below is a snippet, I just know that you will come to love curmudgeon-y old Carl just as much as I do!!
If this was indeed the year 2117, then everyone he knew would probably be dead. He’d not heard of any breakthroughs in life-prolonging research in his own time and the scientists of those related fields were, to be honest, incompetent. There was no parade. Had no one inherited the house despite his mother’s many relatives? Where was his parade, and how did this terrible disuse appear? He’d expected a carnival full of pretty women of all ethnicities.
Carl left the shed only to find a garden full of knee high grass and weeds like Yerkshire fog, added to Anisantha sterillis, which he did not know the common name for. Long stems drooped at the end in measured distaste. He stepped across the stones, lab coat fluttering noisily, watching in frustration the ruins of his old house. Then he stopped and turned.
Outside the center of Barnley, fences were short and useless for blocking sight. This meant he could see through to neighbor’s houses. This was considered an indecent but popular activity, which meant that for once Carl participated in a long standing Barnley tradition.
Their houses were in ruins too. The McSultries to the right even had slight case of missing roof, and he couldn’t see nosy Bessy anywhere. Carl stepped into the kitchen where he’d been rejected blindly by Sara for a second time just a month earlier.
A stench twisted the air outside. Wood littered the floor while rotting food sat in a broken down fridge. When food rots that badly, its sight slams the gut. Still, Carl fought to pull out a carton of milk so off the cap had welded shut in despair. The expiry date was set to 18/7/2025.
Due to the stench, Carl hurried out of the house in a hurry, just then noticing a silence. It was an unpleasant sort, full of insects and wild animal calls and buzzing like his smartphone, which showed no signal. The sun stood high on the sky, as pitiful as always over the clouds of Barnley.
By that time, Carl had realized that something had gone terribly wrong in the year 2025. Perhaps a war had erupted, or an epidemic, or a nuclear blast in southern Yerkshire. Carl did not check the house for dead bodies despite the stench, or maybe because of it. His parents would have still been there in 2025 if something had happened.
A long, pleasant life followed by eventual death was what he’d expected to discover of them. With a shrug, Carl left his old house behind, pulling his labcoat about him.
As he walked down the street, Carl’s thoughts drifted to “The Notebook,” and Yerkshire pudding of a certain sort. He hadn’t been there, which he supposed was lucky for him and the world in general. Despite this reasoning, Carl wondered if they’d missed him.
Just then, a noise drifted to Carl which made him stop. Barkings, meowls, and clucks sounded in a harmony. His tut joined them. Baby animals were the last thing he needed. His kitten (with the name he’d forgotten) was thankfully out of his life.
Carl turned to the left just as the group rounded a corner and came towards him. Carl knew that a group of capons was a mew, a group of cats was either a litter or a kindle, or that a group of electronic book-reading devices had no name. He knew no name for a group of every baby animal that could be considered even remotely “cute”. Thus his mind was at a loss for once, causing him to fumble for an answer as the meowling, whining, barking, chirping, oinking, and squeaking group of animals came towards him.
The second thing that occurred to Carl as the animas walked the center of the road towards him was that all these animals should not even be travelling together. There was a grey puppy at the head.
Also, why did their eyes seem so large?
As the animals came close, a slight twinge started in Carl’s chest. It was a soft B note informing him that these animals might just be hungry and need his help. Helpless and lovely, just like him. Adorable. He remembered that a flock of finches was called a charm and smiled ruefully, watching the animals and their adorable paws, wings, eyes. Maybe they just needed food, he thought.
At that precise moment Carl noticed the bloody fangs and claws.
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Mike Aaron is a 23 year-old, most notably known for being a failing student of business studies. His short story, ‘Homes and Humans”, was out on Storyteller magazine in June, 2017. In his free time, Mike writes news articles and volunteers for The Green Light zine and Road to Nerdfighteria.