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Book: The Face of Satan's Bog

In less than a minute the mighty Blenheim had risen beyond the sparse cloud layers of the planet Elddem-Ssor and entered the passionless void known as space. The deep scarlet glow of the ship’s engines changed briefly to a bright flare of brilliant white, then nothing.

The Blenheim had passed into the realm of sub-space.

But something was not quite right.

A being, humanoid in shape and flailing like a drunken vagrant, was falling back through the clouds. Silhouetted against the moonlit sky, he tumbled wildly, buffeted by high altitude winds, and tortured by the incredible cold.

It was another five minutes before the chill ocean below ended the humanoid’s fall. He splashed hard into the water, vanishing below the surface in a mass of spray and foam. Splashing frantically, the humanoid resurfaced, then for a while he lay there floating on his back and breathing deeply.

Recovered slightly, the humanoid looked around. In the distance he noticed several pinpoints of light and the dark outline of hills and mountains. He started to swim towards them. It was slow progress as only his arms seemed of any use. His legs, limp and lifeless, were nothing more than dead weight.

Hours passed, and the humanoid slowly edged his way towards the coast. What it was that kept him alive when others would have perished was unknown, but it was obvious that his will to live was unnaturally strong.

By the time the humanoid reached the shore it was early morning. With a supreme final effort he swam into a harbour and pulled himself up an iron ladder on the harbour’s wall. At the top he slumped onto the stone work. He gasped for air, totally exhausted.

He laid on the deserted harbour wall for over an hour fading in and out of consciousness, occasionally summoning up enough strength to cough up salt water and blood.

Then two figures approached.

“Are you OK?” the first figure said, crouching down beside the humanoid.

The humanoid looked up, squinting to see against the low morning sunshine. He opened his mouth and tried to speak, but failed.

“It’s lucky I found you.” the first figure said cheerfully. He grabbed hold of the humanoid under his arms and lifted him up to a sitting position. “You’d have been dead within the hour if I hadn’t.”

The second figure began setting up some of the equipment he’d been carrying.

The humanoid watched him curiously.

“My name’s Surby Tone.” The first figure said. “I make movies. And that guy is my cameraman.” He pointed at the second figure.

The cameraman nodded in acknowledgement but kept on working. He aimed his equipment out into the harbour.

Surby Tone continued to speak. “You’ve probably heard of me. I’m the most famous film director in the New Southfields area!”

The humanoid shook his head and spat phlegm.

“You must not be from these parts then.” Surby Tone said. “Still, you’ll know about me soon. I filmed the entire disaster last night - from when that giant evil face appeared right to when that massive star ship crashed into the city!”

The movie director pointed at the incredibly huge rust-coloured monstrosity that sat half submerged in the water. “Ha! I filmed it all!”

The humanoid seemed more alert now, and more attentive.

Surby Tone noticed and continued with even more excitement. “I even got some amazing footage of what I’m certain were bounty hunter ships! Can you believe it?! Actual bounty hunters on this boring waste heap of a planet! There was some kind of battle on the ship’s topside - loads of explosions and stuff! I’m going to sell some of the shots to the news channels for vast amounts of cash. Everyone loves to see bounty hunters in action.” Surby Tone sighed. “What a great night! And with this film I’ll finally achieve interplanetary fame at last!”

The cameraman started to pack up his equipment. “I’ve finished the shot.”

“Good!” The director said. He looked down. Some colour had returned to the humanoid’s face. “Ah! You’re feeling better I see.”

“Yes.” the humanoid replied. “Much better.”

“By the look of it the disaster last night affected you in a big way?”

The humanoid smiled wryly. “You could say that.”

“Excellent! You’re one of the few survivors I’ve found. Do you mind if I interview you about it? It would make a great addition to my film - it’ll add that crucial emotional aspect that guarantees awards. If you agree I’ll let you stay at my apartment out in the suburbs until you get back on your feet. I have a couple of friends in the medical service, they’ll fix you up.”

The humanoid looked up. A smile, crooked and evil, spread like glue across his face. “That would be useful.”

Surby Tone failed to notice the malevolent intent in the humanoid’s expression, the director was too involved in thoughts about the inevitable fame and fortune that would soon come his way. “We’d better get moving.”

With very little effort the movie director lifted the humanoid up. The cameraman flung his equipment over his shoulder and grabbed the humanoid’s legs. They carried him along the harbour wall.

Surby Tone’s film was never completed…

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© Copyright Peter Fothergill 1992 - 2017

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