Wednesday, 4 May 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Red Weed


My younger brother, Mycroft von Bolt-Thrower, was in London when the Marsians fell at Woking. He was a medical student (studying to become a porter), and he heard nothing of the invasion until the Saturday morning. The morning papers on Saturday contained, in addition to lengthy special articles on the planet Mars, a brief and vaguely worded telegram.

The Marsians, so the story ran, alarmed by the approach of a crowd, had killed a number of people with a quick-firing gun, . The telegram concluded with the words: "Formidable as they seem to be, the Marsians have not moved from the pit into which they have fallen, and, indeed, seem incapable of doing so. Probably this is due to the relative strength of the earth's gravitational energy.".

Of course, all the students in the biology class my brother went to that day were intensely interested, but there were no signs of any unusual excitement in the streets. The afternoon papers puffed scraps of news under big headlines. They had nothing to tell beyond the movements of troops about the common. Then the St. James' Gazette announced the interruption of telegraphic communication. This was thought to be due to the falling of burning pine trees across the line, or that they'd recently switched their contract to T-Fucking-Mobile. Nothing more of the fighting was known that night, which was the night of my drive to Leatherhead and back.

My brother felt no anxiety about us, as he knew from the description in the papers that the cylinder was a good two miles from my house. And he's a self-obsessed little fucktard. He made up his mind to run down that night to me, in order, as he says, to see the Things before they were killed. Not out of concern for anyone, oh no. He just wants to see someone get killed. Obnoxious little shit.

He dispatched a telegram (or so he says - it never reached me) at about four o'clock, and spent the evening at a strip club.

On Saturday night there was a thunderstorm, and my brother reached Waterloo in a cab. On the platform from which the midnight train usually starts he learned that an accident was preventing trains from reaching Woking. The nature of the accident he could not ascertain; nor could anyone else at the station. The staff were making the necessary arrangements to alter the route of the Southampton and Portsmouth Sunday League excursions, and it was business as usual. A newspaper reporter, mistaking my brother for the traffic manager, waylaid and tried to interview him. Few people, excepting the railway officials, connected the breakdown with the Marsians.

I have read, in another account of these events, that on Sunday morning "all London was electrified by the news from Woking." As a matter of fact, there was nothing to justify that very extravagant phrase. But that's the media for you.

Plenty of Londoners did not hear of the Marsians until the panic of Monday morning. Those who did took some time to realise all that the hastily worded telegrams in the Sunday papers conveyed. The majority of people in London do not read Sunday papers. The majority of people in London can't read.

About seven o'clock last night the Marsians came out of the cylinder, and, moving about under an armour of metallic shields, have completely wrecked Woking station with the adjacent houses, and massacred an entire battalion of the Cardigan Regiment. No details are known. Maxims have been absolutely useless against their armour; the field guns have been disabled by them. Flying hussars have been galloping into Chertsey. The Marsians appear to be moving slowly towards Chertsey or Windsor. Great anxiety prevails in West Surrey, and earthworks are being thrown up to check the advance Londonward.

That was how the Sunday Sun put it, and a clever and remarkably prompt "handbook" article in the Referee compared the affair to a menagerie suddenly let loose in a village! Which was charming and quaint and hilarious and made me so angry that god help me I actually kicked a toddler in the face.

No one in London knew positively of the nature of the armoured Marsians, and there was still a fixed idea that these monsters must be sluggish: "crawling," and "creeping painfully". The Sunday papers printed separate editions as further news came to hand, some of it even taking precedence over who Jordan was fucking that week. But there was practically nothing more to tell people until late in the afternoon, when the authorities gave the press agencies the news in their possession. It was stated that the people of Walton and Weybridge, and all the district were pouring along the roads Londonward, and that was all.

My brother went to church at the hospital in the morning, still unaware of what had happened on the previous night. He heard allusions made to the invasion and, coming out, he bought a newspaper and a packet of Bensons. He became alarmed at the news (or so he fucking says), and went again to Waterloo station to find out if communication were restored. The buses, carriages, cyclists, and innumerable people walking in their best clothes seemed scarcely affected by the strange intelligence that the news vendors were disseminating. People were interested, or, if alarmed, alarmed only on account of the local residents. At the station he heard for the first time that the Windsor and Chertsey lines were now interrupted. The porters told him that several remarkable telegrams had been received in the morning from Byfleet and Chertsey stations, but that these had abruptly ceased. My brother could get very little precise detail out of them.

"There's fighting going on about Weybridge." was the extent of their information.

The train service was now very much disorganised. Quite a number of people who had been expecting friends from places on the South-Western network were standing about the station. One grey-headed old gentleman came and abused the South-Western Company bitterly to my brother. "It wants showing up," he said.

One or two trains came in from Richmond, Putney, and Kingston, containing people who had gone out for a day's boating and found the locks closed and a feeling of panic in the air. A man in a blue and white blazer addressed my brother, full of strange tidings.

"There's hosts of people driving into Kingston in carts and shit, bruv. Boxes of valuables and all that ting." he said. "They come from Molesey and Weybridge and Walton, and they say there's been guns heard at Chertsey, heavy firing, and that mounted soldiers have told them to get off at once because the Marsians are coming. What the god-damn stuff does it all this mean, bruv? The Marsians can't get out of their pit, can they?"

My brother could not tell him. He wasn't really sure what language the chap was speaking, to be fair.

About five o'clock the gathering crowd in the station was immensely excited by the opening of the line of communication, which is almost invariably closed, between the South-Eastern and the South-Western stations, and the passage of carriage trucks bearing huge guns and carriages crammed with soldiers. There was an exchange of pleasantries: "You'll get eaten!" "We're the beast-tamers!" and so forth. A little while after that a squad of police came into the station and began to clear the public off the platforms, and my brother went out into the street again.

The church bells were ringing for evensong, and the Salvation Army were singing on Waterloo Road. The sun was just setting, and the Clock Tower and the Houses of Parliament rose against the sky.

In Wellington Street, Mycroft met a couple of men who had just been rushed out of Fleet Street with still-wet newspapers and staring placards. "Dreadful catastrophe!" they bawled one to the other down Wellington Street. "Fighting at Weybridge! Full description! Repulse of the Martians! London in Danger!".

Purchasing a paper, he realised something of the full power and terror of the Marsians. He learned that they were not merely a handful of small sluggish creatures, but that they were minds swaying vast mechanical bodies; and that they could move swiftly and smite with such power that even the mightiest guns could not stand against them.

They were described as "vast spiderlike machines, nearly a hundred feet high, capable of the speed of a jaguar, and able to shoot out a beam the heat of the inside of a cheese toastie.". Masked batteries, chiefly of field guns, had been planted in the country about Horsell Common, and especially between the Woking district and London. Five of the machines had been seen moving towards the Thames, and one, by a happy chance, had been destroyed. In the other cases the shells had missed, and the batteries had been at once annihilated by the Heat-Rays. Heavy losses of soldiers were mentioned, but the tone of the dispatch was optimistic.

The Marsians had been repulsed; they were not invulnerable. They had retreated to their triangle of cylinders again, in the circle about Woking. Signallers with heliographs were pushing forward upon them from all sides. Guns were in rapid transit from all over.

This was printed in enormous type on paper so fresh that it was still wet, and there had been no time to add a word of comment. It was curious, my brother said, to see how ruthlessly the usual contents of the paper had been hacked and taken out to give this place. Nope. Not even Peanuts.


Words: Brad Harmer & H.G. Wells
You can become Brad's "friend" on Facebook, or you can "follow" him on Twitter. Depends how creepy you want to sound really.


X-Men: First Class charts the epic beginning of the X-Men saga, and reveals a secret history of famous global events. Before mutants had revealed themselves to the world, and before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Not archenemies, they were instead at first the closest of friends, working together with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop Armageddon. In the process, a grave rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto's Brotherhood and Professor X's X-Men.


Marvel is pleased to present your first look at the blockbuster Captain America #1 from the superstar creative team of Ed Brubaker and Steve McNiven. This July, the original Sentinel of Liberty springs back into action for a high octane adventure that no Captain America fan can miss. When a mysterious figure from Steve Rogers’ past returns, deadly secrets surface that put Captain America back in-between crosshairs. The next big chapter in the life of Steve Rogers begins this summer in an action packed adventure throughout the Marvel Universe, only in Captain America #1!


Three Additional Add-on Packs Releasing in Coming Months for Xbox 360, PlayStation®3 system and Windows PCs

Bethesda Softworks has announced that three downloadable content packs will be released in the coming months for Fallout: New Vegas. The three packs will be released simultaneously for the Xbox 360, PlayStation3, and Windows-based PCs.

Honest Hearts, Old World Blues and Lonesome Road will further expand upon the game.

Available on May 17th for Xbox 360 and Windows-based PCs and May 18th for PlayStation3, Honest Hearts takes you on an expedition to the unspoiled wilderness of Utah's Zion National Park. Things go horribly wrong when your caravan is ambushed by a tribal raiding band. As you try to find a way back to the Mojave you become embroiled in a war between tribes and a conflict between a New Canaanite missionary and the mysterious Burned Man. The decisions you make will determine the fate of Zion.

In Old World Blues, releasing in June, you will discover how some of the Mojave’s mutated monsters came to be when you unwittingly become a lab rat in a science experiment gone awry. You’ll need to scour the Pre-War research centres of the Big Empty in search of technology to turn the tables on your kidnappers or join forces with them against an even greater threat.

Lonesome Road, available in July, brings the courier's story full circle when you are contacted by the original Courier Six, a man by the name of Ulysses who refused to deliver the Platinum Chip at the start of Fallout: New Vegas. In his transmission, Ulysses promises the answer as to why, but only if you take one last job –a job that leads you into the depths of the hurricane-swept canyons of the Divide, a landscape torn apart by earthquakes and violent storms. The road to the Divide is a long and treacherous one, and of the few to ever walk the road, none have ever returned.

All DLC for Fallout: New Vegas will be available for download on Xbox LIVE for 800 Microsoft Points, the PlayStation Network for £7.49, and both Steam and Direct2Drive for £7.49.

No comments:

Post a Comment