Tag Archives: books

Get My Book for FREE!

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

All this weekend, my book, The Last Driver – Episode 1 is free, totally free!

It’s set in a dystopian future where the government controls all, and in a world where all cars are self-driving, the last man who remembers what to do behind a wheel will be called on to save the day…or will he destroy it all?

Get it today, 3.5 readers.  Did I mention it is free?  I would appreciate it if you’d get a free copy and if it isn’t too much trouble, leave a review.

Thank you.

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Last Day to Get a Free Book

Hey 3.5 readers.

All I do is give and give.

In keeping with that spirit, here’s a free book.  Today is the last day it is for FREE.

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Get My Big Book of Badass Writing Prompts FREE Through Sunday

It’s free, 3.5 readers.

That means all you have to do is go and get it…FOR FREE!

Click.  Download.  Get a free book.  Leave a review if you like though I know that’s asking a lot.  But anyway, it’s free, 3.5 readers.  You can’t go wrong.

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A Rap About the $1.42 I Made Selling My Books on Amazon

rappa

BQB:

Aw yeah.  What you gonna do?

Aw yeah.  What you gonna do?

What you gonna do with your dolla forty-two?

Woke up in the morning, pulled my laptop out da sleeve.

Logged on to my bank account. Whoa! Do my eyes deceive?

Out of my throat, my heart did try to leave,

At the sight of some figures, so shiny and new

And wouldn’t you know it?  They added up to a dolla forty two.

CHORUS:

A dolla forty two.  A dolla forty two.

A man has got to hustle to grip that dollar forty-two.

BQB:

If you got a dollar and a half, some buster’s gonna want it.

So keep it in your pocket and you’d better well not flaunt it.

And sure you could feed the homeless and bring some happiness to the poor.

But I think I’d rather drive a new Bugatti through my garage door.

Cuz we all know some bitches love a man with a buck and some change.

So I’m gonna cruise the strip, on the hunt for some strange.

Ladies get excited, don’t know what they gonna do.

When they see a man got a wallet and inside there’s a dolla forty two.

CHORUS:

Dolla forty-two y’all.  Dolla forty-two.

BQB:

2019.  The year I clocked some green.  Peace.  I’m out.

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Writing Regrets

I’m old.

This will probably be hard to explain due to a lack of exact dates and keeping things anonymous but I’ll try.

When I was young I really wanted to be a writer.  I got internships in that both summers and then in my last semester I had a really big internship where I spent a semester in a big city working as an intern for a big organization.  Honestly, I was basically a coffee fetcher, but it was fun and I fetched coffee for some big names.

After college, I returend to Podunk and got a small writing job locally.  There was a part of me that wanted to go back to the back city and pursue a life there as a writer.  It didn’t seem far fetched.  As a young person in my early 20s, I’d already gotten a lot of experience.  The rents wanted me to pursue something more practical and while I don’t want to throw them under the bus for doing what parents do and I realize it was up to me follow through with what I wanted, I ultimately chose the practical.

Do I blame them?  A bit.  Do I blame myself the most?  Of course.  There comes a time in adult life where you have to realize your parents don’t know everything and you will have to defy and disappoint them.  Don’t worry though because either way it will work out great for them.  If you defy them and do what you want and it fails, they can say I told you so forever.  If you defy them and do what you want and it succeeds, they’ll say they were behind you all along and it was their idea.  Also, fun fact, if you obey them and do what they want and it fails, they’ll say well you should have been your own man and what do they know.

Anyway, I blame myself entirely.  It is a week man who blames others for their failings.

I told myself I’d do the practical for a while and then after I’ve made some money I’ll do what I actually want.  (Kids, FYI this doesn’t happen.  Don’t buy that shit if someone tells you it does.)

Long story short, the practical thing didn’t work out.  At that point I thought maybe I should go back to my true love of writing.

But I was a wuss.  So I did another practical thing.  This practical thing actually worked out.

I do feel like I cheated myself though.  The writing world had accepted me early and I ended up worrying that I’d end up 30 and failed because I wasn’t being paid much at 20.  Now I realize that yeah, that just happens.  You have to pay your dues but good for you, your foot is in the door.  Your feet are on the first rung of the ladder, so keep climbing.

At this point now, I’m 40.  I’m self sufficient.  I suffered a lot though and to be honest, a lack of stability made relationships difficult.  I had to come to grips this year with the fact that it’s too late to have children.  Technically, I can have them forever but all the women in my age bracket are closed down for baby business.

Could I adopt a little Chinese kid?  Sure.  Do I fear they’ll send me a faulty one on purpose and refuse to take it back?  All the big ticket purchases I’ve made in recent years where I open the box only to find that the item is missing a part such that someone at the factory was asleep at the switch tells me yes.  (Was this meant as a joke?  Partially.)

There’s nothing I can do about it now, but the regret is palpable.  I had my foot in the door in what I wanted at an early age.  Then I talked myself out of it.  Then when that failed I was free to go back to what I wanted but I chickened out again.  Ergo, had I just stuck like ten straight years in what I wanted, I probably would have gotten to be where I wanted.

Although sometimes now I think maybe it worked out because I guess I’ll never know for sure writing would have worked out.

I guess we never know how things work until we do them.  When they don’t work, we are certain the opposite course would have been a success.

Question – How do I cope with this regret?

My answer – Keep writing self published books and hope  one of them hits.

Feel free to offer your answers in the comments.

 

 

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Who Will End Up On The Iron Throne?

My guesses:

#10 – The Knight King, because screw ’em all, they waited too long to come together.  George RR Martin comes out at the end while munching on a bag of cheese doodles and reminds Republicans and Democrats that the real White Walker is climate change…or possibly Russians.  Or weather controlling Russians.

#9 – Jon Snow and Khaleesi marry.  Both have major claims to the Iron Throne.  They consolidate the claims and the infighting between Khaleesi and Jon over him being King in the North because now they are married so they run it all.  No one cares Jon is an Auntie Fucker because it is olden times.

#8 – Cersei beats everyone.

#7 – Everyone dies, no one is left.

#6 – A few seasons ago, Arya made mention of a land far beyond the sea that is rumored to be there but no one has seen it.  I wonder if this is like the GOT version of America and people who are sick of the Westeros fighting will leave and start a new nation in fantasy America.  I guess this isn’t so much explaining who is king than it is giving a possible ending.

#5 – The Khaleesi, of course.

#4 – Jon Snow, because now he knows it all.  (In 5 or 4 that means only one either lived or lived but the other could not rule for some reason be it death or they didn’t get together.

#3 – Bran is the Knight King seems to be a popular theory so if he controls the Knight King then he rules.

#2 – Hodor.

#1 – OK, this is actually going to be my best guess.  Jon and Khaleesi either don’t make it or decide that the monarchy has had its day.  Either way, wise men like Tyrion and Varys start a democracy.

Also – I could see them giving some sort of flash forward to a steam powered Victorian Age or Modern Age.  That would be cool.

Also – none of these and something we didn’t think of.

What do you think 3.5 readers?

 

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The Rotten Side of Self-Publishing

Hey 3.5 readers.

Bookshelf Q. Battler here.

Check out this article in the Guardian by Alison Flood.  

I suppose we all get wrapped up into the good of self-publishing i.e. all the great success stories big (the self-published millionaires) and small (the person who finally got to see their name in print even if it doesn’t make a dime) and in-between (the person who makes a fairly decent living but has yet to become wealthy)…but it’s worth noting there are some shenanigans going on as this article points out – plagiarism, unscrupulous characters ripping off authors, stealing their content and packaging it as their own, violating the rules and so on.

Has anyone ever experienced any self-published hi-jinx?

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Disco Werewolf – Prologue

DISCO_WEREWOLF_1

New York City – 1979

“Are we going to do this or what?”

In a dark, dank alley behind Sweet Johnny Sugarshine’s Electrostatic Groove Lounge, Private First-Class Steven W. Sykes, honorably discharged, felt the cold gritty pavement press into his knees as he looked up at the sizable bulge taking up space in the crotch of a pair of jeans that belonged to his longtime friend and army buddy, Rick Danfield.

“Yeah,” Sykes said as he took a deep breath, held it, then exhaled.  “Here we go.”

The moonlight glistened off of the gooey product that Danfield had applied ever so liberally to his curly hair.  “Come on, man.  This thing ain’t gonna suck itself.”

Sykes pushed his sunglasses up, leaving them perched on his forehead, sitting atop an American flag bandana he used to keep his long, brown hair out of his eyes.  “No…you got me there.  It certainly isn’t going to do that. Nope.  No siree Bob.”

Try as he might, Sykes just was not able to move his hand, mouth, or any other body party anywhere near his pal’s member.

“Jesus Christ, Sy-ko,” Danfield said.

“Don’t call me that!” Sykes barked.

“Whatever, man,” Danfield replied.

“I never deserved that nickname,” Sykes said.  “I served my country with honor and distinction in the war.  I was in complete control of my mental faculties the entire time.”

“Who cares?” Danfield asked.  “It was ‘Nam, brother.  Everyone did some crazy shit.  You mean to tell me you were able to walk around the jungle with an ear necklace  for four years but slurping the old salamander is where you draw the line?”

Sykes pointed a finger up at Danfield.  “I did not cut those ears off!”

“Whatever,” Danfield said.

“I found those ears!” Sykes said.  “I was holding them until I could return them to their rightful owners!”

“I’m not judging, man,” Danfield said.

“There’s nothing to judge,” Sykes said.  “Uncle Sam asked me to give Charlie hell and that’s what I did.”

“Fine,” Danfield said.  “But the fact remains that I’ve yet to find a steady chick, and you’ve yet to find a steady chick, so we might as well help each other out until our chick ships come in, ya dig?”

“It’s ridiculous that we’re both still single!”  Sykes said.  “Our fathers sailed to Normandy and cock punched Hitler and when they came home, they were swimming in poon, but we get forced to fight a war over the economy of a faraway Asian country where everyone is trading rocks for chickens and all the cooze says, ‘Oh no!  No hot snapper for you, baby killer!’”

“I ain’t kill no baby,” Danfield said.

“I didn’t kill any babies either!”  Sykes said.

“Check it out, man,” Danfield said.  “The country’s startin’ to pull its shit together.  Jimmy Carter done went and pardoned all the draft dodgers.”

“And those cowardly sons of bitches are pulling down more trim than we are!”  Sykes said.

“Everyone’s startin’ to heal,” Danfield said.  “Startin’ to forgive.  Only a matter of time before the public starts looking at us with the respect we deserve.”

“I’m not asking for much,” Sykes asked.  “I’m just tired of being treated like a criminal for doing what my country told me to do.”

“Aren’t we all?” Danfield asked.  “But hey man, can I give you some free advice?”

“If it will delay me getting a mouth full of man meat, sure.”

“Look at yourself, brother,” Danfield said.  “You got your fatigues on.  You got that bandana.  Everybody’s trying to forget ‘Nam and you’re a walking reminder of it.”

“I’m proud of my service, Rick.”

“You should be.  I’m proud of mine.  But you’re more than a soldier, Steve.  And a’int no lady gonna give you the time of day if you keep walkin’ around, lookin’ like a billboard for the least popular war in American history.”

“Fair point,” Steve said.  “But wait, why should I listen to you?  What do you know about scoring with babes?  You’re out here trying to get your sausage gargled by a man.”

“So?”

“So, that’s pretty gay.”

“What’s gay about it?”

Sykes shot his buddy a look as if to silently say, “Really?”

              “I’m all about the pussy,” Danfield said.  “But I’ve been thinking, what if all the gay dudes are onto something?  Would it be so bad to try it and then if I like it, I’ll go all in and if I don’t, no harm done.”

“No harm done?” Sykes asked.  “But then you’d be gay!”

“What?” Danfield asked.  “A fella gets his pickle smooched one time and that automatically makes him gay?”

“Of course, it does!” Sykes said.

“If a man writes one sentence, is he a professional writer?” Danfield inquired.

“Well,” Sykes answered.  “No, I suppose not.”

“If a man bangs a drum, does that get him a spot in an orchestra?”

“No.”

“If a man runs a single mile, does he take home a gold medal from the Olympics?”

“OK,” Sykes said.  “I see what you’re saying.  We’re young.  We’re in our prime.  We should be trying new things.  Sampling the smorgasbord of life, as it were.”

“Exactly,” Danfield said.  “Now, enough talk, man.  Get to work already.”

“You got it,” Sykes said as he smacked his lips together.  “I’m…uh…going in.  Going in for the big suck-a-roo.  Here I come and…hey, wait!”

“What now?”

“What if you don’t like it?”  Sykes asked.

“Then I will have learned I don’t like it and I’ll never do gay shit ever again,”  Danfield said.

Sykes nodded.  “OK.  That makes sense.  I’m sorry.”

“Nothing to be sorry about.”

“I’m just nervous, you know?”

Danfield patted his friend on the head.  “It’s cool.  Just let it happen.”

“Alright,” Sykes said.  “This…this’ll be fine, right?”

“Totally fine.”

“It’s not going to traumatize me at all,” Sykes said.

“I don’t see why it would,” Danfield said.

“OK,” Sykes said.  “Here I come…no big deal.”

“Just like chewing on a hot dog.”

“Right,” Sykes said.  “I love hot dogs.”

“Who doesn’t love hot dogs?” Danfield asked.

“Not this guy,” Sykes said, pointing to himself.  Ever so timidly, he moved his face closer to the bulge before abruptly backing away.  “Wait!”

Danfield rolled his eyes.  “Man!  If you don’t wanna do it, then just say so!”

“It’s not that!”  Sykes said.  “It’s just…we promised we’d do this for each other.”

“Yeah.”

“But what if me sucking your dick teaches you that you’re not gay, then am I still going to get my dick sucked?”  Sykes asked.

Danfield blew a contemptuous raspberry.  “Pbbbht!  Hell no.  You can’t ask a straight man to suck your dick.”

Sykes stood up and threw up his hands.  “I’m sorry bud.  I wanted to do this for you but I was promised a certain level of reciprocity and if there’s no guarantee that I’m going to get it, then…”

“Shit, Steve,” Danfield said.  “Do you want me to go first?”

Sykes thought about the question, then shook his head in the negative.  “No, because then if it turns out I’m not gay, I’m going to feel bad when I realize I’m too straight to suck your dick, you hear me?”

“I get it,” Danfield said.  “Maybe this experiment was ill-advised.”

“Nah, buddy,” Sykes said as he wrapped an arm around his friend.  “I just think we need to find some bonafide, legit gay guyswho would just like to slurp our poles for the joy of doing so, with no preconceived promises of reciprocity and…”

Grrrrr.

              “Rick?”

“Yeah?”

“Was that you?”

“I didn’t say anything.”

The pair headed for the street when the sound came again.  Grrr.

              “You hungry?”  Sykes asked.

“No.”

“Then, what in the…”

Grrr.

              From out of the darkness, two yellow eyes appeared.  They glowed.  It was sheer chaos.  The soldiers had no clue what was going on.  One claw grabbed Sykes.  The other grabbed Danfield.  Their heads were knocked together, causing them to lose consciousness.

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Text of The Star from Tales of Space and Time by H.G. Wells

universe-2742113_1280
It was on the first day of the New Year that the announcement was made, almost simultaneously from three observatories, that the motion of the planet Neptune, the outermost of all the planets that wheel about the sun, had become very erratic. Ogilvy had already called attention to a suspected retardation in its velocity in December. Such a piece of news was scarcely calculated to interest a world the greater portion of whose inhabitants were unaware of the existence of the planet Neptune, nor outside the astronomical profession did the subsequent discovery of a faint remote speck of light in the region of the perturbed planet cause any very great excitement. Scientific people, however, found the intelligence remarkable enough, even before it became known that the new body was rapidly growing larger and brighter, that its motion was quite different from the orderly progress of the planets, and that the deflection of Neptune and its satellite was becoming now of an unprecedented kind.

      Few people without a training in science can realise the huge isolation of the solar system. The sun with its specks of planets, its dust of planetoids, and its impalpable comets, swims in a vacant immensity that almost defeats the imagination. Beyond the orbit of Neptune there is space, vacant so far as human observation has penetrated, without warmth or light or sound, blank emptiness, for twenty million times a million miles. That is the smallest estimate of the distance to be traversed before the very nearest of the stars is attained. And, saving a few comets more unsubstantial than the thinnest flame, no matter had ever to human knowledge crossed this gulf of space, until early in the twentieth century this strange wanderer appeared. A vast mass of matter it was, bulky, heavy, rushing without warning out of the black mystery of the sky into the radiance of the sun. By the second day it was clearly visible to any decent instrument, as a speck with a barely sensible diameter, in the constellation Leo near Regulus. In a little while an opera glass could attain it.

      On the third day of the new year the newspaper readers of two hemispheres were made aware for the first time of the real importance of this unusual apparition in the heavens. ‘A Planetary Collision,’ one London paper headed the news, and proclaimed Duchaine’s opinion that this strange new planet would probably collide with Neptune. The leader writers enlarged upon the topic; so that in most of the capitals of the world, on January 3rd, there was an expectation, however vague of some imminent phenomenon in the sky; and as the night followed the sunset round the globe, thousands of men turned their eyes skyward to see–the old familiar stars just as they had always been.

      Until it was dawn in London and Pollux setting and the stars overhead grown pale. The Winter’s dawn it was, a sickly filtering accumulation of daylight, and the light of gas and candles shone yellow in the windows to show where people were astir. But the yawning policeman saw the thing, the busy crowds in the markets stopped agape, workmen going to their work betimes, milkmen, the drivers of news-carts, dissipation going home jaded and pale, homeless wanderers, sentinels on their beats, and in the country, labourers trudging afield, poachers slinking home, all over the dusky quickening country it could be seen–and out at sea by seamen watching for the day–a great white star, come suddenly into the westward sky!

      Brighter it was than any star in our skies; brighter than the evening star at its brightest. It still glowed out white and large, no mere twinkling spot of light, but a small round clear shining disc, an hour after the day had come. And where science has not reached, men stared and feared, telling one another of the wars and pestilences that are foreshadowed by these fiery signs in the Heavens. Sturdy Boers, dusky Hottentots, Gold Coast Negroes, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Portuguese, stood in the warmth of the sunrise watching the setting of this strange new star.

      And in a hundred observatories there had been suppressed excitement, rising almost to shouting pitch, as the two remote bodies had rushed together; and a hurrying to and fro, to gather photographic apparatus and spectroscope, and this appliance and that, to record this novel astonishing sight, the destruction of a world. For it was a world, a sister planet of our earth, far greater than our earth indeed, that had so suddenly flashed into flaming death. Neptune it was, had been struck, fairly and squarely, by the strange planet from outer space and the heat of the concussion had incontinently turned two solid globes into one vast mass of incandescence. Round the world that day, two hours before the dawn, went the pallid great white star, fading only as it sank westward and the sun mounted above it. Everywhere men marvelled at it, but of all those who saw it none could have marvelled more than those sailors, habitual watchers of the stars, who far away at sea had heard nothing of its advent and saw it now rise like a pigmy moon and climb zenithward and hang overhead and sink westward with the passing of the night.

      And when next it rose over Europe everywhere were crowds of watchers on hilly slopes, on house-roofs, in open spaces, staring eastward for the rising of the great new star. It rose with a white glow in front of it, like the glare of a white fire, and those who had seen it come into existence the night before cried out at the sight of it. “It is larger,” they cried. “It is brighter!” And, indeed the moon a quarter full and sinking in the west was in its apparent size beyond comparison, but scarcely in all its breadth had it as much brightness now as the little circle of the strange new star.
      ‘It is brighter!’ cried the people clustering in the streets. But in the dim observatories the watchers held their breath and peered at one another. ‘_It is nearer_,’ they said. ‘_Nearer!_’
      And voice after voice repeated, ‘It is nearer,’ and the clicking telegraph took that up, and it trembled along telephone wires, and in a thousand cities grimy compositors fingered the type. ‘It is nearer.’ Men writing in offices, struck with a strange realisation, flung down their pens, men talking in a thousand places suddenly came upon a grotesque possibility in those words, ‘It is nearer.’ It hurried along wakening streets, it was shouted down the frost-stilled ways of quiet villages; men who had read these things from the throbbing tape stood in yellow-lit doorways shouting the news to the passersby. ‘It is nearer.’ Pretty women, flushed and glittering, heard the news told jestingly between the dances, and feigned an intelligent interest they did not feel. ‘Nearer! Indeed. How curious! How very, very clever people must be to find out things like that!’
      Lonely tramps faring through the wintry night murmured those words to comfort themselves–looking skyward. ‘It has need to be nearer, for the night’s as cold as charity. Don’t seem much warmth from it if it _is_ nearer, all the same.’
      ‘What is a new star to me?’ cried the weeping woman kneeling beside her dead.

      The schoolboy, rising early for his examination work, puzzled it out for himself–with the great white star shining broad and bright through the frost-flowers of his window. ‘Centrifugal, centripetal,’ he said, with his chin on his fist. ‘Stop a planet in its flight, rob it of its centrifugal force, what then? Centripetal has it, and down it falls into the sun! And this–!

      ‘Do _we_ come in the way? I wonder–‘

      The light of that day went the way of its brethren, and with the later watches of the frosty darkness rose the strange star again. And it was now so bright that the waxing moon seemed but a pale yellow ghost of itself, hanging huge in the sunset. In a South African City a great man had married, and the streets were alight to welcome his return with his bride. ‘Even the skies have illuminated,’ said the flatterer. Under Capricorn, two negro lovers, daring the wild beasts and evil spirits, for love of one another, crouched together in a cane brake where the fire-flies hovered. ‘That is our star,’ they whispered, and felt strangely comforted by the sweet brilliance of its light.

      The master mathematician sat in his private room and pushed the papers from him. His calculations were already finished. In a small white phial there still remained a little of the drug that had kept him awake and active for four long nights. Each day, serene, explicit, patient as ever, he had given his lecture to his students, and then had come back at once to this momentous calculation. His face was grave, a little drawn and hectic from his drugged activity. For some time he seemed lost in thought. Then he went to the window, and the blind went up with a click. Half way up the sky, over the clustering roofs, chimneys and steeples of the city, hung the star.

      He looked at it as one might look into the eyes of a brave enemy. ‘You may kill me,’ he said after a silence. ‘But I can hold you–and all the universe for that matter–in the grip of this little brain. I would not change. Even now.’

      He looked at the little phial. ‘There will be no need of sleep again,’ he said. The next day at noon–punctual to the minute, he entered his lecture theatre, put his hat on the end of the table as his habit was, and carefully selected a large piece of chalk. It was a joke among his students that he could not lecture without that piece of chalk to fumble in his fingers, and once he had been stricken to impotence by their hiding his supply. He came and looked under his grey eyebrows at the rising tiers of young fresh faces, and spoke with his accustomed studied commonness of phrasing. ‘Circumstances have arisen–circumstances beyond my control,’ he said and paused, ‘which will debar me from completing the course I had designed. It would seem, gentlemen, if I may put the thing clearly and briefly, that–Man has lived in vain.’

      The students glanced at one another. Had they heard aright? Mad? Raised eyebrows and grinning lips there were, but one or two faces remained intent upon his calm grey-fringed face. ‘It will be interesting,’ he was saying, ‘to devote this morning to an exposition, so far as I can make it clear to you, of the calculations that have led me to this conclusion. Let us assume–‘

      He turned towards the blackboard, meditating a diagram in the way that was usual to him. ‘What was that about ‘lived in vain?’ whispered one student to another. ‘Listen,’ said the other, nodding towards the lecturer.

      And presently they began to understand.

      That night the star rose later, for its proper eastward motion had carried it some way across Leo towards Virgo, and its brightness was so great that the sky became a luminous blue as it rose, and every star was hidden in its turn, save only Jupiter near the zenith, Capella, Aldebaran, Sirius and the pointers of the Bear. It was very white and beautiful. In many parts of the world that night a pallid halo encircled it about. It was perceptibly larger; in the clear refractive sky of the tropics it seemed as if it were nearly a quarter the size of the moon. The frost was still on the ground in England, but the world was as brightly lit as if it were midsummer moonlight. One could see to read quite ordinary print by that cold clear light, and in the cities the lamps burnt yellow and wan.

      And everywhere the world was awake that night, and throughout Christendom a sombre murmur hung in the keen air over the country side like the belling of bees in the heather, and this murmurous tumult grew to a clangour in the cities. It was the tolling of the bells in a million belfry towers and steeples, summoning the people to sleep no more, to sin no more, but to gather in their churches and pray. And overhead, growing larger and brighter as the earth rolled on its way and the night passed, rose the dazzling star.

      And the streets and houses were alight in all the cities, the shipyards glared, and whatever roads led to high country were lit and crowded all night long. And in all the seas about the civilised lands, ships with throbbing engines, and ships with bellying sails, crowded with men and living creatures, were standing out to ocean and the north. For already the warning of the master mathematician had been telegraphed all over the world, and translated into a hundred tongues. The new planet and Neptune, locked in a fiery embrace, were whirling headlong, ever faster and faster towards the sun. Already every second this blazing mass flew a hundred miles, and every second its terrific velocity increased. As it flew now, indeed, it must pass a hundred million of miles wide of the earth and scarcely affect it. But near its destined path, as yet only slightly perturbed, spun the mighty planet Jupiter and his moons sweeping splendid round the sun. Every moment now the attraction between the fiery star and the greatest of the planets grew stronger. And the result of that attraction? Inevitably Jupiter would be deflected from its orbit into an elliptical path, and the burning star, swung by his attraction wide of its sunward rush, would ‘describe a curved path’ and perhaps collide with, and certainly pass very close to, our earth. ‘Earthquakes, volcanic outbreaks, cyclones, sea wa ves, floods, and a steady rise in temperature to I know not what limit’–so prophesied the master mathematician.

      And overhead, to carry out his words, lonely and cold and livid, blazed the star of the coming doom.

      To many who stared at it that night until their eyes ached, it seemed that it was visibly approaching. And that night, too, the weather changed, and the frost that had gripped all Central Europe and France and England softened towards a thaw.

      But you must not imagine because I have spoken of people praying through the night and people going aboard ships and people fleeing toward mountainous country that the whole world was already in a terror because of the star. As a matter of fact, use and wont still ruled the world, and save for the talk of idle moments and the splendour of the night, nine human beings out of ten were still busy at their common occupations. In all the cities the shops, save one here and there, opened and closed at their proper hours, the doctor and the undertaker plied their trades, the workers gathered in the factories, soldiers drilled, scholars studied, lovers sought one another, thieves lurked and fled, politicians planned their schemes. The presses of the newspapers roared through the night, and many a priest of this church and that would not open his holy building to further what he considered a foolish panic. The newspapers insisted on the lesson of the year 1000; for then, too, people had anticipated the end. The star was no star–mere gas–a comet; and were it a star it could not possibly strike the earth. There was no precedent for such a thing. Common sense was sturdy everywhere, scornful, jesting, a little inclined to persecute the obdurate fearful. That night, at seven-fifteen by Greenwich time, the star would be at its nearest to Jupiter. Then the world would see the turn things would take. The master mathematician’s grim warnings were treated by many as so much mere elaborate self-advertisement. Common sense at last, a little heated by argument, signified its unalterable convictions by going to bed. So, too, barbarism and savagery, already tired of the novelty, went about their nightly business, and save for a howling dog here and there, the beast world left the star unheeded.

      And yet, when at last the watchers in the European States saw the star rise, an hour later it is true, but no larger than it had been the night before, there were still plenty awake to laugh at the master mathematician–to take the danger as if it had passed.

      But hereafter the laughter ceased. The star grew–it grew with a terrible steadiness hour after hour, a little larger each hour, a little nearer the midnight zenith, and brighter and brighter, until it had turned night into a second day. Had it come straight to the earth instead of in a curved path, had it lost no velocity to Jupiter, it must have leapt the intervening gulf in a day, but as it was it took five days altogether to come by our planet. The next night it had become a third the size of the moon before it set to English eyes, and the thaw was assured. It rose over America near the size of the moon, but blinding white to look at, and _hot_; and a breath of hot wind blew now with its rising and gathering strength, and in Virginia, and Brazil, and down the St. Lawrence valley, it shone intermittently through a driving reek of thunder-clouds, flickering violet lightning, and hail unprecedented. In Manitoba was a thaw and devastating floods. And upon all the mountains of the earth the snow and ice began to melt that night, and all the rivers coming out of high country flowed thick and turbid, and soon–in their upper reaches–with swirling trees and the bodies of beasts and men. They rose steadily, steadily in the ghostly brilliance, and came trickling over their banks at last, behind the flying population of their valleys.

      And along the coast of Argentina and up the South Atlantic the tides were higher than had ever been in the memory of man, and the storms drove the waters in many cases scores of miles inland, drowning whole cities. And so great grew the heat during the night that the rising of the sun was like the coming of a shadow. The earthquakes began and grew until all down America from the Arctic Circle to Cape Horn, hillsides were sliding, fissures were opening, and houses and walls crumbling to destruction. The whole side of Cotopaxi slipped out in one vast convulsion, and a tumult of lava poured out so high and broad and swift and liquid that in one day it reached the sea.

      So the star, with the wan moon in its wake, marched across the Pacific, trailed the thunderstorms like the hem of a robe, and the growing tidal wave that toiled behind it, frothing and eager, poured over island and island and swept them clear of men. Until that wave came at last–in a blinding light and with the breath of a furnace, swift and terrible it came–a wall of water, fifty feet high, roaring hungrily, upon the long coasts of Asia, and swept inland across the plains of China. For a space the star, hotter now and larger and brighter than the sun in its strength, showed with pitiless brilliance the wide and populous country; towns and villages with their pagodas and trees, roads, wide cultivated fields, millions of sleepless people staring in helpless terror at the incandescent sky; and then, low and growing, came the murmur of the flood. And thus it was with millions of men that night; a flight nowhither, with limbs heavy with heat and breath fierce and scant, and the flood like a wall swift and white behind. And then death.

      China was lit glowing white, but over Japan and Java and all the islands of Eastern Asia the great star was a ball of dull red fire because of the steam and smoke and ashes the volcanoes were spouting forth to salute its coming. Above was the lava, hot gases and ash, and below the seething floods, and the whole earth swayed and rumbled with the earthquake shocks. Soon the immemorial snows of Thibet and the Himalaya were melting and pouring down by ten million deepening converging channels upon the plains of Burmah and Hindostan. The tangled summits of the Indian jungles were aflame in a thousand places, and below the hurrying waters around the stems were dark objects that still struggled feebly and reflected the blood-red tongues of fire. And in a rudderless confusion a multitude of men and women fled down the broad river-ways to that one last hope of men–the open sea.

      Larger grew the star, and larger, hotter, and brighter with a terrible swiftness now. The tropical ocean had lost its phosphorescence, and the whirling steam rose in ghostly wreaths from the black waves that plunged incessantly, speckled with storm-tossed ships.

      And then came a wonder. It seemed to those who in Europe watched for the rising of the star that the world must have ceased its rotation. In a thousand open spaces of down and upland the people who had fled thither from the floods and the falling houses and sliding slopes of hill watched for that rising in vain. Hour followed hour through a terrible suspense, and the star rose not. Once again men set their eyes upon the old constellations they had counted lost to them forever. In England it was hot and clear overhead, though the ground quivered perpetually, but in the tropics, Sirius and Capella and Aldebaran showed through a veil of steam. And when at last the great star rose near ten hours late, the sun rose close upon it, and in the centre of its white heart was a disc of black.

      Over Asia it was the star had begun to fall behind the movement of the sky, and then suddenly, as it hung over India, its light had been veiled. All the plain of India from the mouth of the Indus to the mouths of the Ganges was a shallow waste of shining water that night, out of which rose temples and palaces, mounds and hills, black with people. Every minaret was a clustering mass of people, who fell one by one into the turbid waters, as heat and terror overcame them. The whole land seemed a-wailing and suddenly there swept a shadow across that furnace of despair, and a breath of cold wind, and a gathering of clouds, out of the cooling air. Men looking up, near blinded, at the star, saw that a black disc was creeping across the light. It was the moon, coming between the star and the earth. And even as men cried to God at this respite, out of the East with a strange inexplicable swiftness sprang the sun. And then star, sun and moon rushed together across the heavens.

      So it was that presently, to the European watchers, star and sun rose close upon each other, drove headlong for a space and then slower, and at last came to rest, star and sun merged into one glare of flame at the zenith of the sky. The moon no longer eclipsed the star but was lost to sight in the brilliance of the sky. And though those who were still alive regarded it for the most part with that dull stupidity that hunger, fatigue, heat and despair engender, there were still men who could perceive the meaning of these signs. Star and earth had been at their nearest, had swung about one another, and the star had passed. Already it was receding, swifter and swifter, in the last stage of its headlong journey downward into the sun.

      And then the clouds gathered, blotting out the vision of the sky, the thunder and lightning wove a garment round the world; all over the earth was such a downpour of rain as men had never before seen, and where the volcanoes flared red against the cloud canopy there descended torrents of mud. Everywhere the waters were pouring off the land, leaving mud-silted ruins, and the earth littered like a storm-worn beach with all that had floated, and the dead bodies of the men and brutes, its children. For days the water streamed off the land, sweeping away soil and trees and houses in the way, and piling huge dykes and scooping out Titanic gullies over the country side. Those were the days of darkness that followed the star and the heat. All through them, and for many weeks and months, the earthquakes continued.

      But the star had passed, and men, hunger-driven and gathering courage only slowly, might creep back to their ruined cities, buried granaries, and sodden fields. Such few ships as had escaped the storms of that time came stunned and shattered and sounding their way cautiously through the new marks and shoals of once familiar ports. And as the storms subsided men perceived that everywhere the days were hotter than of yore, and the sun larger, and the moon, shrunk to a third of its former size, took now fourscore days between its new and new.

      But of the new brotherhood that grew presently among men, of the saving of laws and books and machines, of the strange change that had come over Iceland and Greenland and the shores of Baffin’s Bay, so that the sailors coming there presently found them green and gracious, and could scarce believe their eyes, this story does not tell. Nor of the movement of mankind now that the earth was hotter, northward and southward towards the poles of the earth. It concerns itself only with the coming and the passing of the Star.

      The Martian astronomers–for there are astronomers on Mars, although they are very different beings from men–were naturally profoundly interested by these things. They saw them from their own standpoint of course. ‘Considering the mass and temperature of the missile that was flung through our solar system into the sun,’ one wrote, ‘it is astonishing what a little damage the earth, which it missed so narrowly, has sustained. All the familiar continental markings and the masses of the seas remain intact, and indeed the only difference seems to be a shrinkage of the white discoloration (supposed to be frozen water) round either pole.’ Which only shows how small the vastest of human catastrophes may seem, at a distance of a few million miles.
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