Welcome to Moorcock's Miscellany

Dear reader,

Many people have given their valuable time to create a website for the pleasure of posing questions to Michael Moorcock, meeting people from around the world, and mining the site for information. Please follow one of the links above to learn more about the site.

Thank you,
Reinart der Fuchs
See more
See less

Untitled short story

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Untitled short story

    This is a first draft so far. Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

    Cornelius Johnson drops through space, kicking and screaming desperately. Cornelius Johnson is the world’s first Time Traveller.

    His white space-suit was dirty with grim and blood, Cornelius Johnson is running for his life. He hears the crack of a rifle go off and he throws himself to the ground to prevent being seen and shot again. While night time, the parts of his suit not covered in grim and filth would show up clear in any torch light or the headlights of a car. He would take off the suit entirely, but a naked man running about the woods at night would show almost as clearly.

    Cornelius Johnson is going to be the world’s first Time Traveller. In those long, agonizing seconds floating in space before the final moment of truth, he remembers clearly the click of his helmet fitting around his head. He remembers his first, nervous steps into the grey sphere that he and hundreds of others of the worlds best and brightest had spent at least a century developing the working designs of time travel from radical theories into a radical reality. In the end, they had drawn straws. All of them had wanted to go, even if they never returned, who wouldn’t want to go down in the history books as the first human being ever to try and travel through time?

    The lights of the torches frame him clearly against the wooden wall of the barn. Cornelius watches as the crowd of men descend on him, his eyes darting from shotgun to shotgun. They couldn’t see his face, he hadn’t taken off the helmet, the smooth, white surface and the black, one-way visor could have contained anything under it.
    ‘Ya think it’s an alien?’ said one of the mob, a balding man, nervously caressing a small pistol.
    ‘Aliens?’ the leader of the mob spat, ‘if anything, it’s gonna be one of them damn commies from Russia! I’d heard they got a man into space, maybe one of ‘em came down.’ The man laughed harshly.
    Man into space? Cornelius knew his history well, 1960… 1961. He had done it; he had travelled back in time to America, 1961! Cornelius Johnson was the world’s first Time Traveller and for a moment, that single thought chased away his fears.

    Cornelius flicks the switches in the sphere, activating all the systems. The life-support was go, the sphere’s internal nuclear power sauce was go. Everything was ready to start the ship on its way and suddenly, Cornelius didn’t want to go. It was too risky, it was all untested, millions of things could go wrong. As the door of the sphere automatically swings shut, Cornelius hears himself whispering the words ‘anyone else want to dance?’ The interior lighting of the sphere clicked on and Cornelius felt himself being moved. The sphere was being moved to the launching mechanism where, in under an hour, he would be shot out of the space station, hanging in orbit above the planet Earth and then hopefully, thrown backwards through time to make his destiny.

    The first thing Cornelius remembered when we woke up was the intense weight. Even the scientific genius of man could never get the gravity right on the space station. He groaned in agony and started to pull off the straps slowly, looking around him as he did. The sphere seemed perfectly intact, no cracks, no major damages and all the various computer functions seemed to be working in proper working order. He was breathing heavily, he was alive and everything had seemed to have gone off without a hitch. He reached over and keyed in the mechanism to open the hatch door.

    As he staggers out of the sphere, Cornelius swore loudly as he looks at the surroundings. It hadn’t worked, the whole thing hadn’t worked and the great, glorious moment of travelling through time had been nothing more than a great, big belly flop from space to Earth. He stares out at the trees and the woods and knew that he had landed in the middle of no-where.

    Cornelius struggles with the release catches of his helmet. He has to show them, show them that he’s just like one of them, that he means them no harm. His gloved fingers struggle desperately.

    Suddenly, he hears a scream, Cornelius turns and he sees a small, antique pick-up truck standing not too far from the crashed sphere, its headlights beaming. He looks away from the antique to see a man and a woman, both dressed in old, funny clothing, staring at him with a mixture of fear and disbelief in their eyes. The man pulls out a gun from the truck and soon Cornelius is running as fast as he can, away from the woman’s screams, away from the man’s gun. The instrumentation attached to his space-suit rattles noisily. If anything, the reaction of the woman was defiantly a positive thing, in his own time, every man, woman and child would have seen a space-suit before.

    As he runs, his hands tear the instruments from his suit and they crash to the ground, the man was firing at him. He runs desperately through the trees, watching as small lights flicker on in old wooden houses and doors open. Cornelius slips and falls, sliding briefly across the damp, muddy ground. He hears voices shouting to one another, but he can’t grasp what they’re saying. He hears the crack of the rifle again as he stumbles to his feet and he hears the hiss of air escaping from his space-suit, he hears his own screams as he clutches his bloody arm and he sees his blood drip onto the floor.

    The mob get closer to him, Cornelius can’t get away, he’s backed against the wall like a dog. His fingers finally grab onto the release catches situated around the neck of his suit and he pulls at them with all his might.

    ‘So, where do you think I’ll be going?’ asks Cornelius, hoping that the trembling in his voice won’t come over the communicator.
    ‘At best, we’ll only be able to throw you back a few hundred years… early 21st century, late 20th,’ said the clear voice through the communicator.
    ‘Well, that’s good,’ stammered Cornelius, ‘at least I’ll hopefully end up somewhere hospitable.’
    ‘Good luck, Cornelius,’ said the voice over the communicator, suddenly cutting out and being replaced by an automatic countdown. Cornelius Johnson sat back in the chair and started to strap himself down, more to prevent him breaking the controls than his own personal safety. The countdown reaches 10… 9… 8… Cornelius feels like he’s about to scream.

    The last of the safety catches comes off, with a tired, single motion, he pulls at the helmet.

    7… 6… 5… The scream builds up in Cornelius, he starts to hear it reverberate around the confines of his helmet. The sphere starts to rumble around him, green lights become red lights, displays flash. He tries to focus on whatever they’re saying, but they’re so blurred, the sphere’s shakings have turned the read-outs into blurred gobbledegook. His scream folds back and amplifies on itself, he hopes they can’t him. In some small, mellow part of his brain, he thinks ‘I don’t want the history books to say that Cornelius Johnson, the first Time Traveller cried like a baby when his moment came.

    The helmet comes off, with a tired grunt; Cornelius drops the helmet to the ground. It bounces once and then roles end over end until it stops against the faded, leather boot of one of the men in the mob.

    4…3…2… The final words come over the communicator, just two mere words.
    ‘Good luck.’ Cornelius wonders if they mean ‘good luck, we hope the experiment works’ or ‘good luck, we hope you survive to tell the tail.’

    The mob’s wave their torchlights over Cornelius Johnson’s face, his brown skin shining from the sweat. There is a long silence as Cornelius looks at them. Then, the mob watches as the nigger opens his mouth.
    ‘Okay, now that you’ll be able to hear me…’

    1… 0… There is a strange lurch and then the strangest feeling of dropping. Cornelius can’t even hear himself scream as the sphere drops and drops and…

    Cornelius Johnson, the world’s first Time Traveller drops briefly through the sky, his neck breaks instantly as the noose snaps tight. The crowd watch as he hangs silently from a tree, body gently swaying in the breeze. Then they will go and find the communist nigger’s vehicle and they will smash it into so many spare parts.

    In one-hundred and fifty years time, his colleagues, the nineteen other men who did not pick the short straw will receive a tachyon transmission containing only three words. The three words of the automatic transmission programmed to be sent by the sphere when it reached its destination.

    ‘I made it.’

  • #2
    very cool!

    a nice surprise.

    by the way, I know it is a draft, but I wanted to point out that you left out the word "hear" as in "can't hear him".


    "nuclear power sauce" ? -yummie! I want some!

    perhaps you meant, "source"?

    seriously though it's very good, I thought I was reading it out of a published magazine!

    keep it up!


    "With a deep, not-unhappy sigh, Elric prepared to do battle with an army." (Red Pearls)
    - Michael Moorcock


    • #3
      very good !

      a little worrying may be ?


      • #4
        Originally posted by Morgan Kane
        a little worrying may be ?
        Really, how?


        • #5
          worrying about humankind ! not a pleasant picture of it.

          That ' s not a critic, it is an idea coming from reading the short story !


          • #6
            Originally posted by Morgan Kane
            worrying about humankind ! not a pleasant picture of it.
            Well, look at what we've got to work with.


            • #7
              Effective tale Manmiles, with a nice ironic ending, if a little dark (was anti-communism/racism truly that strong in the 60s?). I liked the reference to nuclear sauce, had a kind of 60s feel to it in keeping with the story I thought.


              • #8
                Don't forget, in that time, wasn't America in the grips of the civil rights movement? Maybe I should shunt it back to the 50s with McCarthy-ism in full swing.

                Who wants Nuclear Sauce on their chips?


                • #9
                  At the begining of the sixties, it was possible .......

                  the boycott of the Montgomery buses was in 1955 ........

                  the aprtheid in school was condemned in 1954 by the supreme court .....