Wednesday 8 June 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Red Weed

While the vicar had sat and ranted to me under a hedge near Halliford, and while my brother was watching the fugitives stream over Westminster Bridge, the Marsians had resumed the offensive. The majority of them remained busied with preparations in the Horsell pit.

Certainly, three war machines came out about eight o'clock and made their way towards Weybridge, coming in sight of the gun batteries. These Marsians did not advance in a body, but single file, to hide their numbers. They communicated with one another by means of Ulla-like howls, like something from a 1970s disco-prog album.

The gunners, unseasoned artillery volunteers who ought never to have been placed in such a position, fired one wild, premature, ineffectual volley (something my wife was used to), and ran away, while the Marsian, walked over their guns, stepped gingerly among them, and came unexpectedly upon the guns in Painshill Park, which he destroyed.

Hidden by a pine wood as the gunners were, they seem to have been quite unsuspected by the Marsian nearest to them. They laid their guns as deliberately as if they had been on parade, and fired at about a thousand yards' range.

The shells flashed all round him, and he was seen to advance a few paces, stagger, and go down. Everybody yelled together, and the guns were reloaded in frantic haste. The overthrown Marsian set up a prolonged ullalation, and immediately a second war machine, answering him, appeared over the trees to the south. It would seem that a leg of the tripod had been smashed by one of the shells. The whole of the second volley flew wide of the Martian on the ground, and, simultaneously, both his companions brought their Heat-Rays to bear on the battery. The ammunition blew up, the pine trees all about the guns flashed into fire, and only one or two of the men who were already running over the crest of the hill escaped.

Heh. Awesome.

Later, four fighting machines crossed the river, and two of them, black against the western sky, came into sight of myself and the vicat as we hurried wearily and priest punchingly along the road that runs northward out of Halliford. They moved, as it seemed to us, upon a cloud, for a milky mist covered the fields and rose to a third of their height.

At this sight Father Wankstain cried faintly in his throat, and began running; but I knew it was no good running from a Marsian, so I turned and crawled through nettles and brambles into the broad ditch by the side of the road. He looked back, saw what I was doing, and unfortunately joined me.

The occasional howling of the Marsians ceased; they took up their positions in the huge crescent about their cylinders in absolute silence. It was a crescent with twelve miles between its horns. Never since the devising of gunpowder was the beginning of a battle so still. The Marsians seemed in solitary possession of the darkling night, lit only as it was by the slender moon, the stars, the afterglow of the daylight, and the ruddy glare from St. George's Hill and the woods of Painshill.

Then, after an interminable time, as it seemed to us, crouching and peering through the hedge, came a sound like a gun. Another nearer, and then another. And then the Marsian beside us raised his tube on high and discharged it, gunwise, with a heavy report that made the ground heave. The one towards Staines answered him.

I was so sexually excited by these heavy guns following one another that I clambered up into the hedge and stared towards Sunbury. As I did so a second bangerisation followed, and a big projectile hurtled overhead towards Hounslow.

"What has happened?" said the vicar, standing up beside me.

"I dunno." said I, watching The Empire Strikes Back in my head.

A bat flickered by and vanished. A distant tumult of shouting began and ceased. I looked again at the Marsian, and saw he was now moving eastward along the riverbank, with a swift, rolling motion. The figure of the Marsian grew smaller as he receded, and presently the mist and the gathering night had swallowed him up.


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.

Historical Chinese action feature from director Tian Zhuangzhuang. Set in China's northwest provinces centuries ago, shepherd Lu Chenkang (Joe Odagiri) joins the ranks of General Zhang Anliang (Chung Hua Tou), whose forces are passing through the mountains. Previously a placid, caring man, Lu's character quickly changes, until he becomes one of the General's most feared fighters, eventually assuming command when the General is sent home after becoming wounded in a barbarian attack.

As the winter closes in and Lu leads his men on the homeward journey, they take refuge in a mountain village, where Lu falls for local woman (Maggie Q). With the troops about to continue on their way, the woman informs Lu that she belongs to a magical tribe that can transform themselves into wolves, and that as a result of their intimacy, he too now shares this ability.

Thanks to our friends at Universal Pictures, we've got two copies of The Warrior and the Wolf on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name to before midday on Wednesday 15th June, making sure to put "The Warrior and the Wolf" as the subject. The first two entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "The Warrior and the Wolf" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

The Warrior and the Wolf is available now.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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