I have been busy writing Novels and Short Stories of late with little time for blogging. The first Novel is published digitally on Kobo and Kindle as described under Novels, Sublime Murder Chapter 1 or under Get the Book.

I now have two other novels in the Ferg series that I have not self published. Currently seeking a real world publisher. I will put up first Chapters of these shortly. The books are Signs of a River and Quantum Apple, the first set in the distant past and the second in the not so distant future.

In the meantime I have 2 short stories published at the Antipodean Speculative Fiction site antisf.com.au . Thanks Ion Newcombe for publishing them in your entertaining online magazine.

The most recent is a story called Superman and is a Neurotypical vs Aspergers view of the world. It is available on the main site May, June and July 2019 after which it will be archived. A hard copy version is expected some time soon.

The previous story is Best Thing Since Sliced Bread about the pros and cons of plastic. It is now archived in the February 2019 edition and is also available as a podcast. It is a bit of a laugh in a horrendous monotone voice. Radio Broadcast.

Superman

“Pawn to King Four,” I began. It was a particularly easy start to a game played entirely inside my head.  Well, not entirely, as it was also being played inside my best friend Brian’s head.

“Pawn to King Four,” he replied, taking the same tack. Symmetry made it easier to remember, and simplicity made for a less nervous start.  It was also a lot less problematic if we had to backtrack thirty or forty moves later on. We were learning about life from each other — including how to survive it.

Brian was slightly older than me. I took that as the reason I lost the game, never doubting that I would eventually beat him. His father was a different matter.  He intimidated me so completely that I couldn’t think straight, fumbling every move by stressing over, and endlessly regretting, my previous decisions.

The ancient game of chess haunts me. I can’t bear to lose. For me, to always expect to win would require dedicating my entire life to the game, like a sportsman tirelessly practising hitting a ball. Ten thousand times they say, practising most arts, is the minimum to achieve professionalism. For an intellectual pursuit like chess it would take many more moves than that.

Luckily, I opted for the simpler prospect of achieving world domination by becoming a superman. Probably not the one you are thinking about right now… (continue on antisf.com.au – get me to No 1 by accessing page)

Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

Suzi loved working at the isolation laboratories at Davenport on the south coast of Yorke Peninsula.  It was a designated location for one of Australia’s intended nuclear-fusion power plants, but to date was simply a series of laboratories and housing for research scientists.  Currently power was provided by a solar farm and batteries — and water came from a local desal station.

Suzi worked as a geochemist, studying the biodegradation of oils in situ. Her career concentrated on how bacteria had evolved naturally to eat hydrocarbons and in the process, destroy them.

“You know,” said Suzi to her visiting manager, Mark, “Plastics were developed by finding the right conditions to polymerise simple hydrocarbons, creating long molecular chains. Back in the fifties they were seen as a miracle, creating an array of new businesses. They provided the packaging for sliced bread allowing it to stay fresh.”

Mark nodded, “Thousands of other uses, too. But now they’re an abomination, cluttering all of the earth’s ecosystems because they don’t break down.”

“Yeah,” sighed Suzi, “Although some bugs also naturally evolved to eat plastics. But they do it so slowly. This new bacteria colony might just do it, though. They produce just the right enzymes to break down the polymerisation of all of our known plastics and allow the bacteria to gobble up the remains.”

“But what about controls?” said Mark, “We need to be absolutely sure that we have complete command on what the colony eats.”

“We’re on to that. Salinity is our best control. The bacteria cannot survive high salinity, so we create our dumps in saline lakes and salt pans.  Plastics are decomposed in situ and if we keep a suitable lid on it all we can collect the methane residue as fuel or industrial feedstock. We can drive out and inspect the current site, if you like. It is just a short distance out.”

***

As they finished their tour, Suzi could see that Mark was impressed with her progress. While they drove back to their accommodation, she explained how the entire facility was made from natural materials containing no hydrocarbons at all; just metals, natural rubber, carbon fibres and other similar products.

“You have a truly amazing process in place,” said Mark. “Congratulations to all of your team. We should be able to monetise this in no time at all. Let’s celebrate over dinner.”

***

Mark loved his Tesla EV. He’d left it parked on the bitumen out front, plugged into an adjacent charging station.

Suzi’s latest strain of bacteria loved Mark’s Tesla EV too. They’d lodged in one of its yummy synthetic rubber tyres as it crossed the pilot plant, and were now releasing enzyme to break down the polymer.

The tyre kept its shape for quite a while, but the colony started to grow in size — exponentially.  Every few minutes the colony doubled.  Soon it was a small clump stretching around the tyre.

Eventually, the colony devoured the tyre, spread through the hydrocarbons in the bitumen and started on the other tyres, then spread along the plastic coating on the charging cable to the charging station, and on into the building.

Inside, Suzi and Mark chatted merrily as they enjoyed their drinks, pleased with their work. 

Meanwhile, the bacteria were equally pleased with their latest food source. They loved the synthetic carpet on the restaurant floor.

***

Suzi absently scratched at an itch on her thigh and realised she was touching bare skin.

“What’s tha —” she began to say, then shrieked and jumped to her feet as her clothing crumbled away from her body. Naked, she grabbed for her phone from the bar, but the plastic case crumbled away, leaving bare electronics.

Nearby, two surfboards adorning the bar crumbled to pieces, as the bar itself began to come apart — the glues and fillers eaten away.  A fire alarm squeaked into action as one of the power supply batteries exploded, but was quickly silenced by a lack of connected energy.

Mark was naked now too, except for a leather wristwatch strap on his right arm and a mobile phone clutched in his right hand. 

They fled the building as Mark made a call. “Cut the roads and power lines and get ready to firebomb Davenport,” he screamed at his immediate boss, hoping like hell that she would heed his advice. “This is an emergency. A rogue plastic-eating bacteria is on the loose.”

Suzi and Mark ran for the safety of the nearby beach.

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