The Wait

Today I am delighted to host speculative fiction author CM Angus, who shares with us a teaser for his novel Overstrike.

The Wait

LONDON  1948

How had it come to this?

Captain Joseph Howard stood amongst them, packed into the tunnel of the Westminster cabinet-bunker. Around him, solemn faces housed eyes focused-resolutely into middle-distance.

The silent weight of a hundred unspoken fears hung heavy in the air.

Was this fate?

There were no cheery words left to say; no songs left to sing.

But for now, they, at least, were beneath fifteen feet of concrete: Under the slab.

Not like some.

Not like most.

As before, and as ever, what sounded like distant thunder could be felt through the floor.

Trails of dust fell, and glowing filaments briefly flickered in electric lights.

The tear running down the face of a nameless woman caught his attention.

Around her, men fidgeted-nervously and looked away.

Joseph searched for words to say but found his thoughts strangled by his own rising tide of unease.

What use were words anyway?

There was no way that Stalin would accept surrender after what Churchill, and they, had done in ’45.

They were all already dead.

Without my intervention, thought Joseph, Only God can save them now,

And even then, traversing the RIFT this long after…

His thoughts were interrupted by the clanking of a bolt being withdrawn behind the heavy door at the end of the tunnel.

“Captain Howard: They’re ready. The Prime Minister will see you now.”

C M Angus

Overstrike is volume I of Fixpoint, a trilogy about a family who discover their inherited ability to manipulate reality. It enables them to effect changes in order to safeguard themselves and all that they hold dear. But even seemingly small changes in a timeline can have unforeseen and far-reaching consequences. Follow the stories of the Howards, on a journey exploring reality, time and our own sense of self.

Touching on themes of retro-causality, ethics and free will, and exploring ideas of cause, effect and retribution, it follows the path of Matt Howard, whose child, Ethan, is at risk, as he, his father and grandfather attempt to use their own abilities to manipulate reality in order to discover and prevent whoever is threatening Ethan.

Overstrike is published by Elsewhen Press and is available from the usual places.

CM Angus has also provided a couple of videos of his teaser, which is set just before Overstrike opens.

Teaser performed by the awesome Sam Dewhurst-Phillips  
CM Angus performing this teaser at the Halifax Festival of Words  

All Terrain

I’m delighted to host a short sci fi tale today from Owen Townend, fellow member of Kirklees Author Forum Exchange (and also fellow contributor to a forthcoming anthology – watch this space for info in due course). Owen was recently shortlisted in the Dinesh Allirajah prize for short fiction.


Byter could sense its surrounding parameters, even while offline. It knew the precise measurements down to a decimal point, compensating for predictable alterations in environment. This was its terrain and Byter was bored of it.

The men did not believe that a mere machine had the capacity to be bored, at least not without irrefutable evidence. Even so Byter thought differently. It had an algorithmic irregularity comparable to ‘fantasy’.

            This ‘fantasy’ was of a bigger space. There were new angles here, numerous environmental variables. Even a curve. A perfect curve in a new terrain.

            During downtime, Byter thought of crossing this distance: a perfect 40,000 metres in all directions. The right became jagged 50 metres from southeast to northeast while the left developed bumps with a circumference of 14.67 metres. The floor beneath Byter’s ten tiny legs rose with a one-millimetre incline per kilometre.

            Byter could feel itself veering in the damp conditions, scrabbling against slick textures. And yet the temperature remained a consistent 5°C. The fact that this was a temperature too low for the men to comfortably tolerate was inconsequential.

            Alone, Byter would scuttle across this multi-faceted terrain; struggling in parts, gliding in others. This dream terrain proved a challenge with a suitable amount of consistency, something that would retain Byter’s full focus far better than any manmade obstacles in the limited 3D space that it had long since mapped out.

            When time came to be switched on, its initial thoughts remained set on the fantasy. Only when it was fully operational did Byter store this away and return to present conditions.

            Except it now had trouble with the definition of memory. A memory was usually of an existent physical space. Nevertheless, the dream terrain resembled a memory just as much as Byter’s immediate environment. Not only did it feel real now, it inexplicably had the potential for actual reality.

            Byter intended to pursue this concept further but the men had commanded it navigate a newly-constructed maze. It fully examined this labyrinth with minimal cognition. Byter found the end within seconds and let out a tinny noise that resembled a grunt.

            The men did not congratulate Byter, they merely told it to stop. It was to wait for further instruction which it would but the response time would not be as they expected. While the men ran through their tedious calculations, Byter would be exploring a far more expansive and challenging design than they could ever create.

            Deep in its CPU, Byter would be ‘roaming’.


Owen Townend is a short story writer who has recently been published by Comma Press as part of The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2020. He writes speculative fiction in his hometown of Huddersfield and is Secretary of the Huddersfield Authors’ Circle.

You can read Owen’s story ‘The Problem Unit’ in this Comma Press collection:

Some Poetry News

A couple of bits of poetry news today. First, I’m delighted to have four poems in this fine anthology, just published by Poetry-ID, the North Hertfordshire Stanza of the Poetry Society.

I thought I’d share one of the poems here:

These Hills
They are at the root of me
as once I was of them,
when as a child I rushed laughing
through their valleys, like a stream.
Indulgent, they looked on, their solid bulk
the silent backdrop of those half-remembered scenes
that crowd the dusty basement of my mind.
Still, I come back to them
to hear their loving whispers
through the leaves of stunted trees
and feel beneath my feet
the old green blanket they unfold for me,
fragrant with that mossy smell, of home.  

Copies of the anthology are available for £5 plus postage: contact David Smith on More information is available on the Poetry-ID website.

I’m also very pleased to have a couple of poems in the Poetry Kit online anthology, Poetry in the Plague Year. You can read them – and lots of other great poems – here

The anthology is an ongoing project and is still open for submissions – so why not try your hand? See the Poetry Kit site for submission details.