I had the idea for Vampire Story a couple of years back, to tie Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, in with modern vampires living in Stoker’s hometown of Dublin. I didn’t realise how big the project would become. Making a film, even a short one, is a piece of work. Dozens of talented people, location permits, equipment hire, the weather, the script – all these have to come together at the right time for magic to even stand a chance of happening. But the magic did happen and we have a vampire’s kiss available now for all the world to see, for free.Continue reading “Vampire kiss for you: shocking, free short film, soundtrack, ebook”
Free ebooks to help you get through the pandemic
Times are tough, shit even. One of the best things we can do to get through this is to read great stories, ideally as free ebooks that are great for the planet and great for your mind. We can also be kinder to each other, do some good, imagine what the world could be like if we didn’t mindlessly participate in an economic system that chews up the planet, spits out crap we don’t actually need, and imprisons us all in debt slavery. So here’s a small step towards something better.Continue reading “Free ebooks for you! Digital bestsellers all free until we get the vaccine”
Want a chilling vision of a possible future? Get this free dystopian story by bestselling writer Gary J Byrnes right now
Read this dystopian short story now and see if ten minutes of fiction can make you rethink everything. Find it here on Smashwords, free in any ebook format, or you can just read online!Continue reading “A dystopian story, PET. Free download, any digital book format”
So you want to get your book published?
You’ve always wanted to get your book published, but you just never had the time, right? So, now that we’re in a pandemic and can’t do shit, you feel that this is your moment? Good for you! So let’s get your writing out into the world! First question: Have you actually written a decent story? If yes, skip down the page to the Smashwords bit. If no, then what’s keeping you? Let’s do this!
We’re hardwired to listen to and to tell stories. Our love of stories is both humanity’s blessing and our curse. It’s our blessing because stories have helped us to communicate at scale and to share wisdom more effectively. It’s our curse because stories make us easier to control. Think religion, dictatorships, political manifestos, ads for things we don’t need.
The self-publishing revolution has opened up publishing to everyone. In just the past decade, we have been given free tools that allow us to share our stories with billions of people. This is the most radical change in publishing since Gutenberg (printing press, 1440) and has enabled success stories such as 50 Shades of Grey, which started out as a self-published title. Getting your book out into the world might just connect you with literary agents and publishers, but the real joy is the guarantee that you will connect with readers. Here’s how…Continue reading “How to get your book published. Write like George Orwell, scifi, fantasy”
Was Nostradamus right? Our investigation will startle you
Is Donald Trump the Antichrist that Nostradamus predicted, and are we now in the ‘End Times’? You could be forgiven for thinking that the end of the world was upon us, with R.E.M.’s song sounding apt on the radio, some American Christians calling President Trump The Second Coming, and new Bible-scale catastrophes every day. Including actual plagues of locusts in East Africa. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t all so tragic. So what we’ve done is bring together some parts of the Book of Revelation from the Bible and some Nostradamus verses to see if these really are apocalyptic times. What can we learn from the stories of the past? Read on…Continue reading “Is Trump the Antichrist from Nostradamus and Bible predictions?”
But it’s so 90s
In the novel, Rick Deckard is sent to track down replicants in San Francisco – in 1992. The book was written around 1967 by Philip K Dick, and had one of the best titles ever: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? 1992 was 25 years ahead of the time of writing.
When Ridley Scott directed the ubiquitous, sci-fi noir drama, Blade Runner, in Los Angeles in 1982, the location was changed to LA, and the date to November 2019. 2019 sounded so next century in 1982, a whopping 37 years ahead in real-time, and 27 years later than the book’s setting. It’s all enough to give anyone a Philip K Dick-sized headache!Continue reading “It’s Blade Runner month, November 2019, live it”
It’s a story about how the common people of the world come together to fix the mess made by crooked, oil-sodden dictators, soulless corporations that plunder the planet to benefit only shareholders, and politicians that can’t see beyond the next election. The very existence of the human species, and all the other life that shares our planet, is at stake. So this story is a thriller. The clock is ticking. Can you hear it?
You want an existential crisis? Well, guess what? You’re living it, along with every other person in the world! No wonder so many people are starting to lose it. So many people need your help, and now.
We don’t mind what medium you use or what your skill level is. What’s important is that you care enough about saving the world from climate change, giving every living creature a chance.
Calling all storytellers
So, do you:
- Want to be a sustainability storyteller in any medium?
- Want to write a post for this site? Any topic welcome, including sustainable lifestyle, environmental politics, hemp, cannabis, popular culture, fiction.
- Want to create photos and/or graphics?
- Want to make short and feature-length films?
- Want to create music, sounds or smells?
- Want to do graphic design for print (magazine coming soon!)?
- Want to create powerful promotional and advertising assets? Think growth-hacking.
- Want to create memorable and shareable social content?
- Want to do something else that will make a measurable difference?
Gary J Byrnes, Contributing Editor for this site, is ready to help make your work awesomer, so don’t hold back.
Preparing and editing text, we use the Guardian and Observer Style Guide, really useful for figuring out how to style your writing for maximum clarity.
If you don’t want to commit just yet, here are some other easy wins for you:
- Share this site and any of our posts on social.
- Keep coming back, keep sharing.
- Sign up for our email newsletter. It’s awesome and free!
- Browse our sustainable marketplace, with free shipping and a hemp plant planted for every purchase.
- Tell your friends. Maybe they’d like to contribute?
What are you waiting for? The world isn’t going to save itself.
Share your finished work, story ideas or creative work with us today. Email email@example.com. We can’t wait to share your work with the world!
Hemingway typewriter: Acroterion [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Future Shocks, the first dystopian sci-fi ebook by Gary J Byrnes, is now available in all digital book stores, so that you can enjoy thrilling, dystopian fiction on any device, anywhere.Continue reading “Dystopia now: Future Shocks now in all ebook stores, every sale funds hemp planting”
Future Shocks is a revolutionary, new form of digital, quantum fiction, with real-time story extension, real-world participative experience and a Schrödinger’s cat experiment
The first science fiction title by bestselling writer Gary J Byrnes, Future Shocks is designed to startle the reader with quantum-sized, thrilling stories of a future where human cloning, algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) take the human species into a disturbing dystopia. Future Shocks is available for Kindle, priced at £0.99, direct from all Amazon stores.
Live extension of the story, updated daily
The reader’s shock is compounded by a live extension of the book, an algorithm-curated daily digital magazine – Existential Daily – that brings the elements of Future Shocks into disturbing focus: this is reality, often stranger than the fiction itself. Existential Daily is updated every day, so readers will always have a disturbingly-immediate experience.
#ResistAI – A Manifesto for the human resistance
Reading Future Shocks is helpful, but not imperative, in understanding how algorithms, AI and all-pervading technology is shaping our world in unexpected ways. So that we don’t wake up until it’s too late, a Manifesto for the human resistance has been drafted. Key to the manifesto is the Hippocratic Oath for Tech Workers, which is designed to make individuals and corporations think hard while building the digital future.
Do you dare to open the box?
Schrödinger’s cat is a story element in Future Shocks. Erwin Schrödinger’s thought experiment has become a trope in popular culture, but one which very few people truly understand. At the end of Future Shocks, armed with a deeper understanding of the experiment, the reader is invited to open the box.
Future Shocks on Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/ie/book/future-shocks/id1481744405
Future Shocks on Smashwords (every digital format): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/960288
Future Shocks on Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/future-shocks-gary-j-byrnes/1133851816?ean=2940163347759
Future Shocks on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=H46yDwAAQBAJ
Future Shocks on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07X89T9LF
Read the live, algorithm-curated, daily Future Shocks magazine. Experience the stories in Future Shocks come to life in real-time. Updated daily.
#ResistAI. A Manifesto for a Hippocratic Oath for technology workers.
Real-time Schrodinger’s Cat experiment. The cat is in the box with a vial of poison that may have been released by a radioactive decay event. Until you observe it, the cat is both alive and dead. Now open the box…
Every purchase of Future Shocks by Gary J Byrnes (Readathriller.com’s founder) means a hemp plant planted, and a step closer to solving the climate crisis. Full range of sustainable, lifestyle and hemp products on the Readathriller marketplace.
Carol Keogh is funding the finishing of two albums under her solo project name, The Wicc. With the funds raised she will invest in next level recording equipment that will enable her to finish this work to a high fidelity standard.
Introducing the Wicc-id Woman (of Wexford)
Over the past 12 months or so, Keogh has been feverishly writing and recording, every free day in a rural house in Wexford. Her project name The Wicc arrived on the back of the strange modern folk tales and murder ballads that began writing themselves in that environment.
The two collections draw a correlation between the mistreatment and subjugation of women and humankind’s relationship with the earth, but through the prism of folk storytelling.
Carol Keogh, The Wicc, and The Wolf Chronicles
The plan is to release one of the two albums Lupercalia in February 2020, with the second to follow shortly after. Both albums together will comprise The Wolf Chronicles (Parts 1 and 2). There is the possibility of a Part 3 birthing itself at a later time.
In addition to recording, Carol Keogh has also started making her own short films/videos and will be looking at setting up a subscription service (which will be free to funders) to deliver other media and extra audio content. You can check out The Wicc’s fab videos on Instagram here.
Readathriller strongly urges you to support this fabulous endeavour, we already have!
Pledge your support here and be the first to experience Carol Keogh – The Wicc!
Buy the book and we’ll plant hemp
Gary J Byrnes’s latest thriller, United Hates, is now available in print from Amazon. Print-on-demand is so much better for the environment and Readathriller will plant hemp for every book sold. Win/win!
Art and food collide in New York
New York City. Today. A cannibal serial killer is on the loose and art expert Jacob is on his menu. Can chef Sophie help Jacob, or will their history get in the way? Will a Nazi plot to launch the Fourth Reich, creating the United Hates of America, succeed? Or can Sophie save Jacob and the world? Start this thrilling story by number one bestselling author Gary J Byrnes and you will not put it down until you reach the impossibly tense finale.
Nazis and the dollar
As World War 2 draws to a bitter end, US forces spirit the top Nazi rocket scientists to America in Operation Paperclip. Hidden among the geniuses who built the world’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles is the most horrendous of all Nazis, Dr Death. Even by Hitler’s standards, this man is off the scale of inhumanity. With a horde of stolen art treasures, Dr Death builds the Fourth Reich in New York City. With America’s economy faltering, and the debt cycle reaching its limit, the Nazis move. Their aim is control of the US dollar.
Welcome to the United Hates.
Now save the world
Buy the thriller and save the world. Hemp will also be planted for each digital purchase.
United Hates was first published as To Eat the World. I like the new name better, what do you think?
Buy a book and help save the world
Hi, my name is Gary J Byrnes, and I am the founder of Readathriller.com. My thrillers are global bestsellers and cover topics from 9/11 to Nazis, and much in between. I’m currently working on a thriller about a pilot who’s scared of flying, and who is driven to rewrite the history of humankind. My stories have topped Amazon and iTunes book charts, and are popular everywhere, channel links below.
While my new novel is coming together, I make a commitment that for every sale of every one of my published works (both print-on-demand and ebooks) this platform will commit to planting a hemp plant. The hemp plant will absorb CO2, and help to pull us back from the brink of the 2 degrees Celsius tipping point. The hemp will be harvested and processed into sustainable products. It’s all about building out this story, the story that can save the world.
Share the love
Please share this word on your social channels and pick up one of my books from your favourite retail channel. Then sit back and enjoy a Gary J Byrnes thriller, knowing that you are saving the world. You are a hero. Let’s do this!
Read our post
Top 5 things you can do TODAY to save the planet.
Buy the book
Gary J Byrnes books, including free titles, are available from these and many more channels:
Amazon (print-on-demand and Kindle) https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006BGDL12
Smashwords (all ebook formats and web viewer) https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/garyjbyrnes
The Syrian War, the Libyan conflict, and the ongoing unrest in Africa collectively triggered the largest flood of migrants since World War Two in the 2010s. Europe is the destination. And it’s easy to understand why. Are we ready for the flood?
The waterseller sings ‘Agua, cerveza, Coca-Cola’. Heavy bags cut his hands. He thinks How do I get off this beach? Thousands on hot Malagueta today, and many sellers.
A boat, suddenly. Five sunburnt men. The waterseller watches as a wave flips them into the surf.
He runs, drags one, another ashore. Soon, others help. The waterseller tears open his bags. Ice spills out. He opens bottles of water.
‘I was you, once,’ says the waterseller. ‘Now drink.’
‘We are only five,’ cries a man. ‘Behind us, five million.’
Sirens. Seagulls. There! Another boat! The waterseller opens a beer.
LE Eithne rescues migrants in the Mediterranean, 2015. Irish Defence Forces [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
I found this sub-200 word piece of flash fiction that I wrote back in 2014. Enjoy!
by Gary J Byrnes
The voices, again the voices. Always the voices.
“Quiet! One at a time.”
“You need to take him, yes him,” said the most powerful voice, as Abraham’s eyes were drawn to his son, the lazy one, sat on his arse, watching TV, “Take him out into the back yard and put his neck on the tree stump and take your hatchet and just cut his stupid head off.”
“That’s a mad idea,” said Abraham.
“What’s that, dad?” called his son. The buzzing of the gogglebox, the calling of the crows on their way home.
Abraham looked to the stump, squinting against the setting sun.
“Are you God?” he asked, quietly.
Okay so. I’ll do it.
“Liam! Come on, come out here with me!”
“Aw dad, Power Rangers is startin’.”
So he grabbed his son by the hair and dragged him into the golden evening and took the axe and felt like a hero and was about to swing it, down onto the crying boy’s neck until the voice came back and said No.
In the olden days, they would’ve founded religions after him. But poor Abraham just ended up in the hospital. Where he stayed.
Worrying to realise that Abraham is the common patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Mad, Ted!
Read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham
Fake news generator? No way!
I’ve gathered together my blogposts from August 2014 to August 2018 and put them together in one convenient ebook for your enjoyment.
Topics covered range from Islamic State to Irish water, climate change to social change. I want you to enjoy my writing, and share links to the free downloads far and wide, among your friends and on social media (use the share buttons below!).
This is not fake news. I think.
‘What about a free download?’ you ask. ‘Go find the Easter egg,’ I say.
Download Fake Times:
Smashwords (all ebook formats): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/916990
Tell a story in 300 words or less
Flash fiction is all about brevity. From Ernest Hemingway’s famed six word story (look it up here!) to the Liberties Flash Fiction competition’s 300 words, it’s a great exercise. My story, Privilege Revoked, won the 2015 competition, and I publish it here for your enjoyment (Note: this story contains the c-word, and I don’t mean Christmas).
by Gary J Byrnes, 2015
Jesus, the heat on Francis Street today. Every day for six months had been the “hottest day ever”. As Tommy passed through the security scanner at the pub entrance, the TV wall babbled about how fossil fuels were the best hope for a sustainable future. His body image flashed onto the scanner screen, every fold of fat on show, each cavity exposed.
‘Jaysus, Tommy. There’s a void in your stomach, cryin’ out for a pint of stout,’ laughed the security twat as he checked Tommy’s toolbox.
Tommy grunted, took his tools, sat himself at the bar. The droid whirred along its rail.
‘Pint of plain, cunt,’ said Tommy, inserting his WorthCard into the slot on the counter. He always took pleasure in this robot’s lack of insult chips. It was the little things.
The robot found a plastic half-litre jug and held it under the relevant dispenser. It suddenly jerked back. No stout flowed.
‘Pardon me, sir or madam. It appears that your WorthCard has declined this transaction. It transpires that your residential water bill has not been discharged to the System’s satisfaction. Alcohol privilege is revoked until the matter is resolved. Thank you and good day.’
The bardroid whirred to another customer.
Tommy slumped on his stool, everything finally catching up with him. Twenty years on from the Crash of ‘08, life was shit. No other word for it. Just shit. The EFU – Euro Fascist Union – now controlled every aspect of life. No, call it existence. The fucking robots had all the jobs and the function of the ninety-nine percent came down to serving the elite, tending their droids, managing welfare credits, and not much else.
Tommy snapped open his toolbox, found a nice big wrench.
Would you like to read more Liberties flash fiction?
Get the Liberties Flash Fiction Collection, free from Smashwords (any ebook format or read online): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/568168
- Who’s next to legalize cannabis? Are you ready to stand up?
- Why do we change clocks, are daylight savings for environmental benefits?
- Vampire kiss for you: shocking, free short film, soundtrack, ebook
- Why the world needs America to fire Trump
- Will you help fix the world, and do us a favour, by taking our surveys?
GOLEM by Gary J Byrnes
Dachau, Germany – 1944
The moon showed her face as the wasted man looked into his killer’s eyes. He smiled, weakly. One last time, he held the page of crumpled newspaper close to his failing eyes, squinted, nodded.
‘Yes. You can kill me now.’
Strong hands closed around the old man’s neck, thumbs pressed on his throat. The killer trembled, hesitated. The old man closed his eyes.
‘God is truth. Now do it.’
The killer’s thumbs pressed harder into the windpipe. The victim struggled imperceptibly, eyes wide, but too late. The life that had been full – of happiness, the practice of medicine, family gatherings, the appreciation of poetry, the love of sunshine – slipped easily away. Since the world went crazy, the will to survive had faded to zero. The final image in his brain was of his beloved son, age six, pedalling his new red tricycle in the patio garden, the happiest child on Earth. Then nothing. The body was lowered gently into the patch of moonlight on the dirt floor and the watching grey faces all around faded back into the darkness. Prayers were whispered from the darkness. But it was too late for prayers there.
‘Goodbye, father,’ said the killer as he folded the piece of newspaper and tucked it inside his rough shirt. He was both confused and amazed by how easy it had been to kill his own father. This heap before him had given everything he had – finally his very life – for his son. Yet the hardness in the killer’s heart meant that there could be no grief. So he dragged the bony body to the rear of the draughty billet and worked on the second phase of his plan. Dawn was seven hours away and there was much forming to be done.
The bored police captain sat uneasily in his spacious oak-panelled office. He shuffled through a slim pile of official reports, made the occasional note. Every few minutes, he stood and gazed through the window at the rushing city below. He was stifled. In truth, he had been considering a transfer into the military. As he straightened up his desk and prepared to leave for lunch, his secretary rapped at the door. He knew her knock.
‘Captain, I have a report that requires your urgent attention,’ said the secretary, pointing towards the upstairs office suites.
‘Oh? What is it?’
‘At last. I thought I would go mad. All the definitions have changed. I honestly don’t know what constitutes a crime anymore.’
He internally reprimanded himself for showing annoyance, however slight, with his political masters. But the secretary could be trusted. Still, he shot her a hard glance. She looked to the floor. A murder! His heart leapt. Somebody important? It must be.
He took the folder from her, flicked to the case page and quickly scanned it. Confusion, then anger seized him, made his hands shake.
‘Is this some kind of joke? A Jew? What does the killing of a damned Jew matter?’
‘Read on, Sir,’ said the secretary.
He read on.
‘The body was concealed in a golem. Curious.’
‘Who better to uncover the truth?’
He scanned the wall, admired again his collection of framed press cuttings, diplomas and – in pride of place – his photo with the Great Leader.
‘Yes, that’s true. Nobody knows more about golems and Jew mysticism. But what does the formation of a supernatural saviour from clay have to do with some Jew infighting?’
‘What is a golem, sir?’
‘Adam was the first golem, mentioned in the Jew Talmud. Fashioned from dust, brought to life. In modern times, it symbolises a defender of the Jews. You make it from earth and water, make an inscription on its forehead, chant and chant some more. Then it will come to life and do your bidding. The most famous example is the Golem of Prague, believed to have defended the Jew ghetto there in the sixteenth century.’
‘Ah, the one you – ‘
‘Correct. The one I searched for in thirty-nine. According to legend, it lay in a secret room in a synagogue, awaiting the spell that would return it to life, to defend the Jews once more. I searched every synagogue, broke every wall. There was nothing. I disproved its existence, weakened the will of the Jews. The more I smashed, the more they needed the golem. And he never came.’ He glanced at the photograph, smiled. The undoing of the Golem of Prague had made his reputation. ‘Essentially, the golem is a metaphor. It represents the attainment of wisdom and holiness, the godlike ability to create life. Just another stupid religious fairytale. But why conceal an irrelevant Jew’s body in one?’
‘A religious rite?’
‘I don’t know. The victim was of no importance. I smell a disagreement over money. Still, it will be good to get out of the office. I will leave for Dachau immediately. Send a message to the camp commander. I’ll drive through the night, get there tomorrow early. Please arrange any necessary clearances.’
‘Of course. Do you need a driver?’
‘No, I need some freedom. And can you please inform my wife?’
He sat at his desk, began to write a list of items.
‘I’ll need to pack my camera, analysis equipment and probes, maybe some sausage and wine. A golem, eh? But first, lunch, something special.’ He looked at her. ‘Will you please join me? I apologise for losing my temper just now.’
He stood and went to her, put his arms around her perfect waist. She smiled as he smelled her pinned-up hair, the Chanel perfume on her neck.
‘And over a Jew!’ she said, laughing.
He said ‘A dead Jew!’ and laughed with her.
The workers stood – swayed – in ragged lines on the camp’s central square. Guards in winter coats circled, collars raised against the bitter January wind. Drooling Alsatians strained. The camp commander entered the square with his adjutants, addressed the workers.
‘There was a killing in your billet last night,’ he barked. ‘The killing of Jews is solely the right of pure-blooded German officers and guards. The act cannot and will not be tolerated. Who was responsible? Tell me now!’
Silence, every freezing man staring at the cobbled ground.
‘Very well. Take off your clothes.’
Resignedly, the two hundred and eight men of varying ages began to strip, peeling away flea-infested layers, exposing pallid, blotchy skin to the weak sun and freezing air.
‘My only regret is that I am under orders to keep you alive until an investigator makes his way here from Berlin. An expert.’
At that word, the killer’s heart lurched. His bait had worked, the trap was set. When the expert arrived, investigated the golem, then he would spring the trap. And escape from this cursed place. Switzerland just hours away.
‘But I will beat you until you explain this golem to me,’ continued the commander. ‘Why bury a Jew like that?’
Nobody told about the golem. They knew it was a rhetorical question, asked by a brute, an unaware man. So the guards went through the ranks, beat and whipped and dehumanised the workers at random.
The commander looked to the twisting pipes and chimneys that loomed nearby. This was the final solution, right here, so why should they be distracted by the killing. What matter of it? He thought. A Jew? The new ovens will see to them all soon. And this lot will be first in, he vowed. He strode to the nearest Jew, punched him hard in the stomach, kicked him, spat on him.
After twenty-seven minutes of abuse, night had fallen. So he ordered the workers to put their clothes back on and get indoors. The captain from Berlin wanted to preserve all evidence. That was all that saved them from a full night of pain. But it was alright to starve them. He watched as they trudged into their billet, to sleep four to a bunk under horsehair blankets.
‘We’ll be watching,’ he screamed. ‘Any Jew who touches the dead one shall join him instantly. Understood? Understood?’
Then he went to the ovens to supervise the first test, thankful that the dead Jew could not delay that milestone. The oven block was a low, redbrick building, which could have passed for a municipal swimming pool. It was well-lit inside and the air was noticeably warm and sweet-smelling. A steady hum throbbed through the space. Twenty naked and emaciated men stood in a ragged line, a dozen guards standing to attention as the commander entered.
The workers’ eyes darted nervously. They knew something bad would happen, they just didn’t know what. When, at last, the commander ordered them into the new showers, they smiled. They wanted to believe that, yes, they were simply being used to test the showers. This didn’t necessarily make sense, but they clung to it anyway.
On the roof, pigeons squawked, squabbled over the best perches by the chimneys.
The police captain found that it was easy to get in to Dachau. Only delay was a line of trucks ahead, each filled with gas cylinders, marked IG Farben. Finally, the iron gateway greeted ironically: WORK WILL SET YOU FREE. A kind of salvation for the human waste that would work, suffer and die there. An odd smell in the air, like roasting coffee. His papers were checked casually by a guard inside the gate, for who would want to come here without good reason? A long column of workers shuffled. Just ahead. The ragged men looked at him with the eyes of ghosts.
‘What’s that? Did one just smile at me?’
‘I doubt that, sir. We kill the insane ones the day they arrive. They’re no good for anything. You may dine at the officers’ mess. Immediately to your left.’
‘Thank you. Then I need to see this dead Jew.’
‘Block four, sir.’
‘Very good. Where should I park?’
The guard indicated a space for the official car, made an entry on his report sheet and the investigation had begun. The captain was tired, should have taken a driver. Decided to get through it quickly, get away from the stink, find an inn, maybe that one he’d passed an hour before. Taking his camera and briefcase, he walked to the officer’s mess. It was a pleasant stone building standing on its own, curiously fronted by a lawn and ornamental trees.
The mess was quiet so he was given the best table, beside a huge window which looked onto the lawn with the open square beyond. The waiter brought coffee and the day’s paper, offered the menu, busied himself with a table of engineers in clean overalls nearby. They were in high spirits, discussing the oven schedule, the successful tests and the race to be the first Nazi camp to commence the actual extermination of the inferior races. Schnapps. They sent a glass to the captain, which he accepted warmly.
Then the captain read war news and ate good sausages, fried eggs, nutty bread. He drank four cups of coffee, didn’t want to leave the cosy room. He tipped the waiter generously, loaded his camera, wished the engineers luck, went to examine a golem.
The golem was partially ruined, but still an impressive sight. A bulky male figure, over two metres in length, emerged seamlessly from the ground, hands by his side, face strong and impassive. Most of the golem’s head and all the powerful body were carefully finished to a smoothness that didn’t fit the matter. An area around the neck was torn away, fragments returning to the ground from whence they came. The dead Jew’s face and upper body were exposed and starting to stink. His mouth was open, stuffed with dirt, his eyes caked. There, scratched into the dirt that formed the golem’s forehead, he read – as expected – the Hebrew word EMET. He bent down, erased the first letter with his thumb. MET remained. Truth became death.
‘Now you are deactivated, golem,’ he said as a shiver rattled his spine.
The captain took photographs, observed how the earth that formed the golem had been scraped from the ground in the billet. That task had probably taken weeks, in preparation for the killing. But why? ‘Why, golem?’ No obvious clue. He searched his memory for every reference. Nothing clicked.
He left the building, which was little warmer than outside, ordered the waiting guard to send in the suspects one at a time ‘And tell them to hold out their hands, yes?’ He connected the ultraviolet bulb to its battery and lit the golem in a purple glow. The Jews came in. He held the bulb over each man’s hands. The light sparkled off the minerals on the Jews’ skin, residue from the concrete they were using to build the gas chambers and ovens. They filed in, filed out. Finally, hands that had little glow, too much dirt in every pore and fold. This is the man who made the golem.
‘Stand there, Jew.’
To be thorough, he checked the rest of the sorry men. But there was just the one suspect. He advised the guard that the killer had been found and it would take but a little while to understand why. Just the two men in the billet now, their weak shadows falling across the golem. The captain lit a cigarette.
‘Why did you kill him and why did you bury him inside a golem?’
The man just smiled weakly. Was this the one who had smiled earlier in the square? Something about him. Something odd, intangible.
‘He wanted to die.’
‘But why the golem?’
‘What do you know of the golem?’ asked the Jew.
‘The Fuhrer has an interest in such matters. Know thine enemy, etcetera. I know that the golem is a Jewish fantasy, a desperate cry for help by a doomed race. Your god has abandoned you, so why persevere with such matters?’
The Jew studied the captain, watched his mouth, his eyes, his hand movements.
‘I did it out of respect,’ answered the Jew. He straightened his back, lost his stoop, raised himself to a height equalling the captain.
‘Are you trying to imitate my voice?’ said the policeman.
‘Are you trying to imitate my voice?’
‘What is your game here?’
Now it was dark outside. It was time. The Jew reached inside his striped jacket, brought out a piece of folded newspaper. He handed it to the captain.
The police officer – now confused – unfolded the paper. Saw the story. The story about himself. The photograph of himself and Hitler. The smiling Jew hunters. He stared at the picture, his smiling face. His brain clicked as the actor’s powerful hands closed around his throat and thumbs pressed his Adam’s apple through his windpipe. He couldn’t scream, just croaked, and his hands were too weak to break the Jew’s grip.
‘I look like you, captain. Isn’t that funny? A Jew that looks like a pure-blooded German officer.’
The Jew was strong. The captain fumbled for his pistol. Too late.
‘Too good an opportunity to pass up, captain. We’re not so different, we could be brothers. My father gave his life so that I might have a chance at mine. Thank you for being so predictable.’
The officer’s life was extinguished.
Now time was critical. The Jew undressed, removed the clothes from the body, put on the police uniform. A good fit, if a little loose around the stomach. But warmer. He smoked a cigarette and kept talking, imitating the captain’s accent and voice modulations. He put his old clothes on the captain’s body, punched his face until he bled, then set to work kicking the dead man’s head.
‘Filthy Jew!’ he cried. Maybe the guard was listening.
Happy that the face was sufficiently disfigured, he lit another cigarette, cocked his cap slightly to one side, assumed the arrogant swagger of the superior race. He checked the captain’s papers. They were not specific, allowed free travel. This was what he had prayed for most of all. Grinning, he packed up the captain’s gear and left the billet for the last time.
Stop grinning, you fool.
The guard stood to attention.
‘He admitted everything. The golem was just a stupid Jew attempt at salvation. I killed him for wasting everybody’s time.’
He rubbed the tender knuckles of his right hand.
‘Can you have the bodies cleared and burned? And advise the commander.’
The guard wasn’t sure about any of this, but didn’t dare question a captain.
‘I need to get away from here. The smell of Jews is too much. How far to Switzerland? I promised my mistress I would bring back a fat diamond.’
‘A short drive, sir. It’s well signposted.’
‘Very good. That’s all.’
He walked to the temporary parking area, looked for the car with Berlin plates. A Mercedes. The key in his pocket fitted, so he began to breathe again and drove to the gate. The guard didn’t even check his papers, lifted the barrier, waved him through. He smiled, waved back.
His heart painfully pounding, blood rushing through his ears, he drove away from the miserable place. A long train approached slowly, drawing up beside the entrance. He glimpsed faces and hands through the gaps in the cattle cars’ walls. He wished there was something he could do for them. Then he accepted reality, his reality, the reality of his escape. He rummaged in a basket on the passenger seat.
The smooth glass of a bottle. He pulled off the road, just for a couple of minutes, just to calm his heart, and drank the wine greedily. As the dark towers of Dachau faded from his rear view mirror and the forest gave way to a view of moonlit snow-capped mountains, the Jew laughed.
‘Oh my earnest captain, how could you not know the modern meaning of the word golem? Fool, stupid, clueless!
I had the idea for Vampire Story a couple of years back. The idea being to tie Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, in with modern vampires living in Stoker’s hometown of Dublin. I knew I had to make a film, to direct the telling of the story. My friend Padraig said he’d back it. So he became the producer. I didn’t realise how big the project would become. Making a film, even a short one, is a piece of work. Dozens of talented people, location permits, equipment hire, the weather, the script, pizzas – all these have to come together at the right time for magic to even stand a chance of happening.
Making a film is a very enlightening experience. It’s all about the suspension of disbelief. Now I understand why the top actors are paid so well: they have a true talent. Acting is hard. Editing is hard. Getting the audio right is hard. I get why movies can cost so much: there is so much to get right so that the audience loses their grip on external reality. That’s the magic of film. So, over a period of about 18 months, the magic did happen and we have a showcase available now for all the world to see, for free.
I figured that a story about a novelist needed to be expressed in its literary form also, so I wrote Vampire Story the book, taking the intimacy of text as an excuse to push back the boundaries of the story, create some new worlds within the world that was captured so well by Canon 5D cameras.
Then I contacted the musical geniuses who made the movie soundtrack, Carol Keogh and Aidan Casserly, and asked if we could release the Vampire Story music to the people of the world to enjoy as their own, personal soundtrack to life. They said Yes! and, within days, the original soundtrack was available globally.
Vampire Story is now full spectrum entertainment, and all for free). Thanks to all the cast and crew for helping make it happen, for sticking with it. It’s hard.
So enjoy it, and go spread the vampire love…
See the movie, for free, on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/mtbuLxOcHLo?list=UU4FqaSDtMkYv9uLUIipzXDA
Download the ebook, for free, from Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/488055
Download the ebook, for free, from iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/book/vampire-story/id934729908?mt=11
Listen to the OST, for free, on BandCamp here: https://carolkeogh.bandcamp.com/album/vampire-story-soundtrack
Please share widely – the perfect soundtrack to life. Even if you live forever…
Like Vampire Story on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/vampirestorymovie
Just when you thought that life couldn’t get any better, along come three awesome, free ebooks
Bite-sized adventures that might just change your life, and how you see the world. Grab these free ebook trilogies from iTunes right now, then share this link out among friends, family and everyone who deserves a special treat: the joy of reading!
Challenging, edgy short stories that happen before, during and after 9/11. ‘The Garden at the Inn’ is set in Afghanistan and Pakistan and looks at the formation of Al-Qaeda. ‘Tuesday’ is Manhattan on September 11, 2001. The trilogy concludes with ‘Nine Twelve’, a vision of life the day after.
These stories will challenge you, on your journey into the cauldron of New York on September 11, 2001.
Number one bestseller, free from iTunes for a limited time: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/book/9-11-trilogy/id465575321?mt=11
The creation of the Jesus myth in ancient Rome.
The downfall of King Louis XVI in France.
The horror of the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau.
History is full of lessons for us. But can we ever learn? Three thrilling stories in one ebook that will make you reconsider history and your place in it.
It’s said that history is written by the victors (of war). What if history was written by artists, lovers, heroes?
Get it free from iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/book/history-trilogy/id731358895?mt=11
Three short stories set in Ireland. The first story, Perhaps A Few, happens just before Ireland’s devastating potato famine of 1845-49. Troika is a story that happens in the dark 1930s, while Blitzkrieg Ireland 2016 considers what might have happened during the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, the event that led to Ireland’s independence.
These stories are entirely speculative, creative fiction. It is a given that Ireland has had a pretty miserable history; Ireland Trilogy brings some of her formative forces into sharp, painful focus.
Download now, for free, from iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/book/ireland-trilogy/id543200529?mt=11
Other ebook formats
If you don’t use iTunes for your ebooks, you can find these trilogies, and many more Gary J Byrnes titles, on Smashwords here. They can be downloaded in every ebook format, including Kindle, and also read online.
THE WRITER (or, Who wrote the Bible?)
Rome, The Empire – 40 CE
Rats feasted on a dead drunk, but out of sight. A heavy evening after the scorched afternoon; late summer, the month of the God Emperor Augustus. The air glowed, smoke from thousands of oil lamps and open fires catching the sun’s fading power.
The writer’s eyes burnt as he stood on the balcony of his family domus on the Palatine Hill, watched the murmuring city stretched out below. He acknowledged a peculiar beauty in the wide sweep of wretched humanity huddled together; slums and tenements hugging the banks of the Tiber, hill after hill to the glimpse of distant, burning sea.
Time passed. Abstract forms took shape. His heart leapt, giddy.
Later, a fat moon rose from behind the imposing home, cast its cold light over the dead day, the greatest city in history, the worried man. But the writer had a fire in his belly, a new idea burned, became alive. At last, his simmering anger had found a purpose, some kind of direction.
‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’ said his mother, touching his elbow and rubbing it fondly.
‘From up here, yes. But it is a different life in the slums,’ he answered. ‘It stinks like a dead dog.’
‘It’s said there are a million souls in the city now, Marcus. A million. They are here by choice. This is the Golden City of Dreams. Dreams of wealth, success, excitement. You cannot blame our Senators or our Emperor for the squalor that success inevitably brings.’
‘Especially since we have a Senator as guest this evening, mother?’ quizzed Marcus, worried for his father.
‘We must be gracious. Anyway, Maximus has been very kind to us. And he’s your father’s best friend in the Senate.’
‘That’s a very beautiful stola you’re wearing, mother. Where did you get it? And is that black wig from India, perhaps? Has generals’ pay risen again?’
She didn’t answer, just stared at the city in silence until a servant announced the Senator’s arrival.
‘I will welcome our guest. Please, for me, be happy.’
‘I’ll try,’ said Marcus, as if to himself.
His mind flew: filled with conflict, many emotions, passion. In recent months, he had begun to question the society in which he enjoyed a privileged place. The vast majority were poor or enslaved, while he had enjoyed a Greek education, the spoils of Empire and the stability of position. But it wasn’t enough. Not anymore. Not since he’d started hearing the stories, the stories he’d begun to write down and share, in Greek so that they could be read throughout the civilised world.
Would his stories bring any fairness to the casually cruel and biased system that controlled so many millions of lives? Probably not, but he knew that was not reason enough to abandon his project. The simple act of writing would purge his own guilt and, like a pebble in a pond, who knew where the ripples would end up? His heartbeat louder as he lost himself in the structure, the plot, the drama. He was truly lost to it.
He heard his mother calling his name repeatedly.
He drained the goblet of wine and took a deep breath. He turned from the glorious musings, hesitated, went to the dining area. During the hot summer season, evening meals were taken in the peristyle, the open garden in the centre of the domus. The servants waited in the shadows while oil lamps on the pillars illuminated the guests. Two child slaves were tasked with using ostrich feathers to keep flying insects away from the diners. The centrepiece was an innovation: a long oak table which overflowed with gold platters of grapes and bread and many jugs of wine. The guests were seated on plush, high-backed chairs, rather than the typical lounges.
‘Mother, your generosity is unequalled in all of Rome,’ said Marcus, touching his lips and bowing deeply. He turned to the guests. ‘I welcome you, Senator, and all our guests on behalf of my father.’
‘Indeed,’ said his mother. ‘He risks his life blood in Gaul so that we may enjoy the fruits of the Empire.’
‘I thank you for your welcome, Marcus,’ said Senator Maximus, resplendent in his purple-trimmed Senatorial toga. ‘In these difficult times, the welcome of friends is indeed a respite.’
Other guests. His mother’s current artist-in-residence. The wine merchant who lived next door. The merchant’s wife. To Marcus, the artist was a pompous man whose ability didn’t match his ego, a frighteningly familiar idea for a struggling writer. The merchant couple were wealthy, overweight and vulgar in all their habits. Bacchus was their favoured god. So they called for more wine. The servants filled the wine goblets with mulsum, honey wine. All present stood and drank in honour of their hostess, her courageous husband and the House Gods.
For the first course, a plate of mixed salad with olive oil dressing was followed by sea urchins marinated in liquamen, the sauce made of salt and rotten fish. Salt was ubiquitous, Rome herself having been founded on a salt mine. The finest spices from Ephesus were passed around the table. Praise flowed and Marcus was happy for his mother and thankful for his fortunate circumstances.
The talk was of politics, of course. There was discussion of little else at Roman dinners, Emperor Caligula having recently returned from Gaul with cartloads of seashells and thousands of slaves. Now, the Emperor was reimposing his will on the city at the centre of the world.
‘I know Tiberius put the last independent legions under imperial control and will be remembered for not much else,’ said the merchant, ‘but I preferred him to Gaius Caesar Germanicus Caligula.’
‘Little Boot has increased the free flour ration and the games are becoming more bloodthirsty,’ said Maximus. ‘So the masses are happy enough. But I must warn you all that he is seeking to replenish the state treasury.’
‘How?’ asked the merchant, worried. ‘More taxes?’
‘Worse,’ said the senator. ‘Extortion and confiscation. He has demanded tribute from many wealthy citizens. Failure to pay has led to confiscation of estates.’
The merchant became pale and quiet, calculating how much he could easily offer the Emperor should the agents come knocking. He decided to lead the discussion away from the disturbing topic.
‘Yesterday, I saw two gladiators fight a lion,’ he exclaimed. ‘A lion! It managed to gore one of them before they dispatched it with a dagger in the ribs. It was truly a spectacle. The mobs lapped it up. But think of the expense in bringing a lion to Rome from the furthest part of Africa.’
‘The servants are talking about his plans to make his favourite horse a senator,’ said Marcus.
‘Nonsense,’ retorted Maximus. ‘I fear these whispers are being put about by someone who sees opportunity in our emperor’s madness.’
‘Claudius does have the loyalty of the Praetorian Guard,’ said the merchant. ‘And Little Boot executed Naevius Sutorius Macro of the Guard after he ascended. So there will be no love lost there.’
‘The Guard may yet save us all,’ said Maximus.
The discussion was interrupted by the head servant, a Greek, who rang a beautiful gold bell to signify the arrival of the main courses. A full roasted pig, assorted baked fish, a roast pheasant and copious quantities of wine soon covered the table. The guests rejoiced and praised their hostess.
‘Did you hear about Caligula’s little episode in Jerusalem?’ asked the artist, a self-obsessed man who observed his reflection in anything shiny at every opportunity.
‘Please go on,’ said the merchant’s wife.
‘Well, I have it on good authority that he wants to put a wondrous statue of himself in the Temple at Jerusalem.’
‘How do you know this?’ asked the merchant.
‘My very good friend is the sculptor. The statue is almost complete. Fortunately our puppet there, Herod Agrippa, won’t allow it. He thinks it’ll drive the locals mad. They’ve been very restless in Judaea, apparently.’
The conversation waned, all mouths busy with the main courses. Marcus was more disillusioned with Roman society than ever before. He knew Caligula was broadly disliked, but now it seemed clear that the Emperor was mad and the citizens would suffer for his insanity.
‘Yes, I’ve heard stories from Judaea,’ said Marcus, quietly delighted at the opening.
‘Do tell,’ said his mother.
‘I’ve been speaking with a Judean. He’s a slave in the baths near the Forum. Nice chap. Quite intelligent. He can even read Greek.’
‘Fascinating how some of the savages can adopt our ways,’ said the merchant. ‘But no more civilised than dogs.’
The others nodded their approval of the assumption, a commonly held superiority complex.
‘So this slave, Luke is his name, he told me about a character in Judaea. I’m writing a long story about him. A novel.’
‘Wonderful,’ exclaimed his mother, clapping her hands and kissing him on both cheeks. ‘You will be the greatest writer the Empire has known. You are still so young. You have time. All you need is the idea. Praise to Mercury,’ she said, raising her goblet, ‘Protector of writers.’
‘And merchants!’ said the merchant as all at the table raised their drinks.
‘Tell us your idea, Marcus,’ they chorused.
‘The idea is to write a sequel to the Testament, the holy book of the Judeans, which is very popular reading among the literate classes.’
‘I’ve read some of it,’ said the artist. ‘I even have the scrolls in my studio. Quite fascinating, really. Their god character is such a brute. Is it meant to be ironic?’
‘Oh, it’s magical,’ said the merchant’s wife. ‘A fantasy, I’d say. The part about the creation of the Universe is so exciting.’
‘Genesis, isn’t it?’ said Marcus’s mother.
‘Everybody’s talking about it. Escapist, exotic literature is such an antidote to political plays and love stories.’
‘I’m so tired of the Greek myths.’
‘Yes,’ said Marcus. ‘So I hope to capitalise on this interest in religious escapism and continue the story.’
‘In which direction?’ asked the merchant.
‘More wine!’ called his wife. ‘Bring us that pale Spanish.’
‘You’ll like this,’ said the merchant. ‘It hasn’t suffered for travel. Marcus, I apologise. In which direction will you continue the story?’
‘This slave, Luke, has given me the entire structure,’ said Marcus, excited now at the growing potential of his story. In truth, he was amazed at the popularity of the old Judean stories among Rome’s elite. It all seemed to fit perfectly. ‘Just a few months ago, a man in Judaea claimed to be the son of their god.’
‘Yes,’ said his mother, ‘the Judeans have only one god. How quaint.’
‘Needless to say, he upset the local priests and they had him crucified. Our man Pilate was forced to order the killing.’
‘As cunning as wolves, priests.’
‘This crucified man supposedly performed miracles, such as turning water into wine.’
‘Water into wine? Then off with his head!’ exclaimed the merchant.
‘Quite,’ continued Marcus, after the laughter subsided. ‘He is also said to have cured lepers and raised the dead.’
‘All very interesting,’ said the artist, a secret atheist. ‘But it sounds like a simple religious fantasy to me.’
‘It gets better,’ said Marcus. ‘After he was entombed, three days later, he rose from the dead.’
‘A standard switch, I would’ve thought.’
‘Those Judeans have had too much of the man’s magic wine, I fear,’ laughed the merchant, uneasily.
‘Apparently a lot of them believe this is all true. Besides all the magic tricks, he had a profound message: that all men are equal, that the Emperor and the slave are as one before god.’
‘Be careful with this tale,’ warned Maximus. ‘That kind of talk could get you deported. Or worse.’
He’d thought of this risk, of course, and had already taken the decision to publish under an assumed name. Perhaps a Judean name for authenticity: Matthew or Luke or just put it down as the word of God. Edgy. He would lose credit for his work and any chance at profit. But these motivations were no longer the drivers of his creative urges. His spirit demanded more. His soul had awoken. He would create a character like none seen in fiction before. Pit him against an empire. Challenge the status quo. An Odyssey for a new millennium, a Ulysses not on a journey of self-discovery through allegory, but a hero for the poor, the enslaved, the ninety-nine percent.
The dishes were cleared and dessert of Syrian pears and Greek honey was placed before them.
‘Your main character, Marcus. The magician, what is his name?’ asked the merchant’s wife.
‘Literally, the anointed one who brings the salvation of God,’ said Marcus. ‘For a hero, Jesus Christ has more of a ring to it, don’t you think?’
‘I’m worried, Marcus,’ said his mother then. ‘I don’t want you causing any trouble.’
‘Don’t worry, mother. It’s just a story.’
A story that can wait awhile, perhaps. This scene, this now, this is too interesting to lose.
Another story formed.
The writer excused himself, went outside to smell the night and to look at Jupiter, King of all the Gods, in all His glory. He smiled.
Find this and all my short stories so far in one juicy collection, The Writer and Other Stories:
So, who wrote the Bible?
What do you think?
Get this story for your ebook reader, for free, from Smashwords.
The Slave Market By Gustave Boulanger – http://peripluscd.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/boulanger-gustave-clarence-rudolphe-french-1824-1888-the-slave-market.png, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31742831
- Who’s next to legalize cannabis? Are you ready to stand up?
- Why do we change clocks, are daylight savings for environmental benefits?
- Vampire kiss for you: shocking, free short film, soundtrack, ebook
- Why the world needs America to fire Trump
- Will you help fix the world, and do us a favour, by taking our surveys?
Find your meaning of life. Just click on the image…