Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Mars Short Story - Lilly and the Machines (2006)

Copyright to Jonathan O'Donnell - Protected under UK and International Copyright Laws, any reproduction, copying or publishing without the Authors express consent is strictly prohibited.

Lilly and the Machines
(Written 2006)

The sun rose slowly on Mars to its low position over the Chasma Boreale, the only sounds breaking the silence of the cold harsh world were the oxygen machines pumping the water up from under the frozen crust. Each individual autonomous machine, converted some of the extracted water to oxygen and the rest was pumped by the machines directly onto the dusty pink surface. The hydrogen released by the conversion process was collected and used for the fuel cells of the gargantuan machines.
As the water flowed from the steel pipes it instantly turned to thundering steam, as the steam billowed hundreds of feet into the air much of it froze and fell as tiny snow onto the Martian surface. The pressure was too low to keep it in a liquid form and would be for some years to come. The flat desert was covered with machines that stretched for over twenty miles, it was a sight to be seen indeed. The Terra-forming of Mars had begun just five years earlier and there were now hundreds of farms all over the northern and southern hemispheres.
On a nearby hill stood a lonely red dust covered shelter, much like an old portable cabin, its stainless steel shell was still discernible under the dust. Small puffs of steam hissed from its thin chimney. The pressure door was scratched and dented and was in a similar condition to the rest of the shelter.
The door hissed, as the lock cycled. Stepping out onto the red dusty hill came Lilly. Lilly was only five-foot tall with her boots on, her silver pressure suit glowed orange in the low sun. Her large tinted visor a mirror of the Martian terrain like a pool of glimmering oil would reflect the sky. She stood for a moment, checking her equipment and her tool belt, satisfied she was ready to begin her work day. She set off with a slow run, towards the nearest massive machine. Lilly's pace increased as she began to bound across the surface, dust lifting and hanging in the air from the vacated boot prints that were now getting further and further apart. The low gravity enabled Lilly to cover great distances with huge bounding leaps. A difficult skill to master, one mistake could spell disaster for Lilly if she landed awkwardly on a stone or rock, her visor could easily shatter. Lilly covered the distance between her shelter and the first machine in under two minutes, a distance of over a mile.
Reaching the base of the huge machine, it loomed above her, towering up from the Martian surface over two hundred feet high. Lilly checked the base power connectors and the exhaust pipes for the water for any damage or blockages. Then she prepared for her long climb up the ladder to the control room. The climb was extremely difficult in a bulky pressure suit, but Lilly with five years on the job had become an expert.
At the top Lilly opened the thin metal door, turned on the lights and begun to complete her checks, reading from the screens and the dials the oxygen and water production levels, she entered the data onto a small  pad attached to her right wrist. Satisfied everything was in good order, she climbed out and hooked on her descender rope and she leapt off the tower. Her descent was slow but too fast and too far to jump without a rope. As she landed Lilly's boots sunk into the soft Martian soil, she flicked a switch on her waist belt and the rope floated neatly down on a mini parachute. As soon as it reached the ground it rewound and packed itself neatly back onto her belt pack. Satisfied all was in order she set off again, onward to the next mountainous machine.
Lilly had applied for this job because she had sought solitude; she no longer desired contact with other humans, especially men! The Northern Barren's appealed to her because they reminded her of the open plains of Siberia her childhood home, beautiful, serene and tranquil and above all very few human beings came this far north. Her job was not mentally challenging; she simply took care of her machines. Lilly had named them all; they had become like pets or children. Their very existence enabled Lilly's life. Their relationship was symbiotic.
Over the passing years Lilly had barely observed the world around her changing, the sky had become less pink, the air pressure had steadily increased and was becoming thicker with each passing year. Every morning the water molecules covered Lilly's hut and also her suit became a sink for the mist. There were even clouds beginning to form and float by, almost like on earth although still very infrequent. Even the water vents which used to pour forward steam, had slowed and become smaller and smaller and they reached far lower into the Martian sky. The puddles had begun to form under the exhaust ports and each day the puddles of water lasted that little while longer and instead of boiling off in the low pressure it now remained as icy reflective pink puddles that grew larger each day. The temperature was noticeably warmer, Lilly had turned her air conditioning to maximum to keep her cool on the long runs.
Lilly herself had changed. Wrinkles now decorated the corners of her eyes and mouth, her skin less taut over her frame, like a medal of experience her skin betrayed her true age. Lilly took longer to cover the distances between the great machines, her body also needed more recovery time, cuts healed more slowly, but still not bad for a woman of eighty. Her shack was now a dark rust colour, caked with decades of Martian dust and moisture mixing the dust into a clay like covering. The seals for the door no longer as efficient and now dust often invaded Lilly's tiny cabin during the famous Martian dust storms. Lilly frequently patched and repaired her home, she could have had a new one, she only need make a request, but like the machines and like her, they were all intrinsically linked and the thought of replacing the hut offended her loyalties.

Lilly had not had a visitor for three years, not something that upset her at all; in fact if Lilly could she would put off visitors as often as possible. Lilly's last visitor had been her supervisor, he had just stopped by to check her production figures, a routine visit every five years. He had not stayed long, he had left after only a few hours. But for Lilly it was like a splinters under her nails, she had hated the visit; a man was in her cabin, in her way, breathing her air bringing his germs and stench. She had washed his mug ten times after he left and even then she put it away and never used it again. Lilly's supplies were delivered by an automated robot transport every month, she had little need to leave her metal home, with the exception of looking after her machines. She lived the life of a hermit and she did not see any reason to change; she was happy. 
Eighteen more years past by, and three more painful visits, the offers of new equipment, a bigger cabin or perhaps another person to keep her company were rejected politely but firmly. Lilly had barely noticed the world change completely, global warming had accelerated. The puddles of ice under the pumps had become flowing streams and lakes. Steam no longer poured from the vents, just beautiful crystal clear water. The oxygen, which had once billowed from the top of the towers, was hardly visible to the naked eye. Martian temperatures were climbing rapidly. Lilly had no need to put on a full pressure suit now, a newer thinner pressure suit had been delivered a few years before, however she still used the trusted old suit and scratched helmet. She trusted nothing new and left nothing to chance. Lilly was nearly a hundred, she had long ago lost count of her advancing years. Greying temples and the deepening wrinkles in her face her only visual reminder of her age, that is of course if Lilly had a mirror, which she did not. Only brief reflections in the the few shinning spots of her cabin which had not been covered in the Martian clay gave her any reminder at all of what she looked like.

One day, a few years past her hundredth birthday the automated robot with her supplies did not arrive. Unconcerned, Lilly continued with her job, she had always kept a large reserve of food and water. She waited for its arrival the next day. The next day’s sun rose, fell, and still no supplies. A month past by and still her automated friend did not arrive. Lilly considered the strange phenomenon and looked at the communication device attached to her cabin wall she shook her head. Convinced that nothing was seriously wrong, it would take a real emergency for her to use it that dreaded device. Another month passed without the robot, and another. Her supplies were dwindling, her food reserve now just a few tins.
She again looked at her wall; she was now seriously considered calling her supervisor. She did not of course; the thought made her feel sick, she almost vomited. The sight of another human being nauseated Lilly. She continued to service her machines, each day Lilly did her checks, new computers delivered some seven years earlier now automatically reported the production figures, part of her job had long gone. However, she still noted the figures and kept a log for her own satisfaction. 
Lilly had became trapped, knowing she could not continue without supplies for long, but she always had water, plenty of that now, it was everywhere, it had become almost impossible to reach some of her machines without getting waist deep in small lakes. 

Thirteen days after her food ran out, Lilly finally collapsed between pump eleven and pump twelve.
Days passed by, then weeks, then a month and then six and then two years. In the H20 Company head office a squirrelly little man tore off the report from the printer, he took it to his supervisor who tipped his glasses to the end of his nose looked down at the little man, then his eyes returned to the sheet. The figures were clear. Seven pumps had failed. One was a major event but seven was a disaster.
Two years after Lilly had collapsed; the investigation team zipped up the body bag and lifted her frail body onto the hover-copter.
‘Why was she still in her pressure suit?’ asked one white gloved medic to the other. ‘She dint know man, she dint need it anymore I guess’! The other one replied.

Enquiry Report 12-13-2087 - we N90011

This report details the untimely death of Pump Machine Manager Lilly Elizabeth Bettle.
We the judges of Olympus Mons Tribunal concluded that the robot delivery system had stopped by a newly formed river that had blocked its path to Ms Bettle's Cabin. Because of the limitations of the original design and programming of the autonomous delivery robots  it had simply dumped it's supplies as close to the cabin as it could reach. Because the Robot was not designed or programmed to report the block or to return with its load, it had followed an old programming protocol. 

The storage and supply facility itself was automatic, it to followed its programming, it kept loading the robot each month and each month the robot had dumped its load by the widening river. The last dump made was just two miles from Ms Bettle's Cabin, if Ms Bettle had investigated, food was there. However, critically it is clear  the dump was over a brow of a low hill. Just out of visible range from Ms Bettle's cabin.

Also clearly the Employee's mind and attitude were a significant cause of her death. Ms Bettle lived as a hermit, avoiding human contact and her many supervisors past and present found all contact with Ms Bettle to be brief, somewhat rude and they were not made welcome. Ms Bettle's antisocial attitude probably explains the failure to report the lack of supplies.
Northern Province - Olympus Mons Tribunal Decision.
Cause of Death: Natural Causes.
Case Closed.

Monday, 10 June 2013



After two long years since my accident. I hope to at last be approaching the final stretch of recovery. I am two weeks post operative and now have a lump of Titanium in my left elbow.

Stuck with a brace for four weeks and no weight bearing or wrist rotation allowed, but maybe just maybe I can really once more type with two hands again. It will certainly make writing Origin II much easier.

Opportunity rover on Mars


As the current two Mars Rovers continue their work on Mars, back on Earth scientists huddle over computers looking at the amazing results of not the newest rover, but the nine year old Opportunity.

Opportunity is an amazing mission, achieving far more than its original programming or its builders ever hoped. Mars is such a hostile world, you have the cold, the low light levels which can starve Opportunity of power. You have of course the fine grain dust that squeezes into every component, hinge and joint plus of course the hostile Sun, without the protection of a magnetic shield the Rovers receive high doses of radiation every minute of their existence.

So considering all the hostile conditions it is amazing that Opportunity is still running nine years down the line after its bumpy pillow landing. Not only is that some magnificent achievement, but it is still finding and discovering rocks and deposits that make its younger rover cousin jealous.

We now have enough proof that not only did water run freely on the surface of Mars, but that it was not all acidic. It is likely as the planet aged and lost what little magnetic shield it had that the surface gradually became more hostile and the water more acidic. But the key, the most important discovery of all, Mars had drinkable water in its distant past.

With that knowledge, and with the knowledge that in the past when Mar's core was hot and volcano's still spat hot rock, that Mars could have and was likely to be the cradle of life.

Not just a cradle for itself, but it could well turn out in the next decade that not only did it cradle its own life, but it may well have been the cradle for all life in our Solar System.

If you look at the surface of Mars it is cratered with huge Stella impacts. It is these impacts that brought life to Earth. Two of these impacts created us and maybe created species two, Vumans. 

This is the premise of ORIGIN, a must read Vampire Science Fiction crossover that reboots the entire genre.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Newspaper Scare Stories - Statistics Don't Lie

Good afternoon,

Seeing as the good old UK press have all jumped on the scare the public bandwagon today I thought I would join in too.

Below are some scary and not so scary facts to lose sleep over.

100% of all the people you know, including you will die. (Sorry to shock you)

100% of you will be born on Earth. (Yep I know amazing)

100% of you will breathe an Nitrogen Rich gas called Air. (Yes it is true)

100% of you will drink water in some form or another. (George Best may have argued this one)

100% of you will grow older. (Darn it)

100% of you will have a head. (Some may not use it, but that is not the point)

100% of you will eat food of some form or another during your life. (Models may argue this one)

100% of you know there is a funny white disc that appears in the sky called the Moon.

100% of you will know what rain is.

100% of you will have seen a cloud.

100% of you will know fish live in water.

100% of you hiccup at some point in your life.

100% of you go to the toilet in one form or another. (Please try not to think about this one too much)

100% of you read statistics.

100% of me could not be bothered to continue to write anymore.

Smile, live, breathe, laugh

Thursday, 6 June 2013

ORIGIN Paperback Release

ORIGIN will be released in paperback soon.

So for those that are not Kindle owners or don't like reading on the PC you will soon be able to flick through a paperback.

Buy Origin on Amazon Today

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Rewriting the Vampire Genre

Origin (Vol I)

Origin rewrites the rule book on Vampires. You will meet Jayne Breggar a young intelligent Chief Investigator, bored and over protected by her father figure Police Director. However, over the course of three short days, her boring job becomes a desperate fight for survival against a old world long lived species. As old as life itself. She leads the resistance and fight for the survival of all humankind. She finds love and realises her true potential.

Be taken on a action packed journey from Richard the Lion-heart to Olympus Mons. A fast paced, Horror, Fantasy Romance Action Adventure.

Discover the truth behind Vampires, where they came from, how they fly, why they are hard to kill and why your teenage daughter or son just might be one.

This is fast paced with original characters, you will feel like you are actually part of the adventure and part of the battles and scenes. A book you will not put down once you have started.

The premise is original, fact based and brings a new dimension to fear and legends.

True characters from old world central European history lead the cast as you meet Giure Grando, Arnaut and Maria.

Discover what no government wants you to know, that Vampires are not myth nor legend or religious mumbo jumbo but are real, the reality is always more frightening than the myth.

Already spending three weeks in Amazons Best Selling Top 100 Horrors. And when on promotion was the number 1 most downloaded Horror on Amazon. Origin II will follow soon.

Amazing Short Story - Mars

Science Fiction & Fantasy Stories: Short Stories - Mars:  Copyright to Jonathan O'Donnell - Protected under UK and International Copyright Laws, any reproduction, copying or publishing wit...

One of my early short stories

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Origin tackles the Mars Radiation Issue. How? Find out here.

When I wrote Origin, one of the big issues is the lack of a electromagnetic shield like the one that protects us on Earth.

Mars shield faded away around a billion years after it's formation. But this for me was key, I used this to explain a great deal about the Origin's of Vampires and also explained how human's coped with the radiation on a future colony on the red planet.

I will hold back a little as this is all explained in my Novel Origin, but you will not be disappointed.

Its a Mould breaking Vampire reboot that will explain the things no other vampire novel or story dares to touch. It does not shy away from the hard realities, nor does it try and explain Vampire abilities as some dark force of evil. Simply put, humans whether normal or vampires have a biological explanation in nature that is far more scary than some hocus-pocus elves or diamonds rubbish that readers have been forced to accept from some lazy writing in the past.

You will never view your children the same again.

Its Horror Sci Fi at it's best. Awesome premise that you will not be able to put down.

See the BBC link to the radiation problem of Mars, Nasa explains!

Huge Asteroid just misses Earth

The 1998 QE2 Asteroid flew past us, winding it's way through our Solar System. This rock is so huge it has enough gravity to retain it's own satellite. 

3 Kilometres across, the spherical rock passed just 6 million kilometres away. If you want to know how close that is, well the Moon is 200,000 kilometres away. so around 29 times further out than the moon.

In space terms, that is close, close enough for Earth's Gravity to affect it's future path.

Do we need to worry about 1998 QE2, no not really, it has been known for a while and it's orbit does not put it at risk of hitting us. But the risk is objects of this size we do not know about yet.

An object 3 Kilometres across would be a species ending event. It would vaporise most surface life, kill most plant life. Only burrowing animals would be likely to survive if they had enough food to last the cold barren period.

Nasa simulation of asteroid path

Vampires - The truth no one wants you to know.

How do Vampires Fly
Why do they want our Blood
Why do they live so long? 
Where and when did Vampires begin

All the answers, governments and the church did not want you to have are in Origin 

A Genre reboot