Wednesday 12 January 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Red Weed


My own amazingosity and bravery renders me unable to remember much of my journey home except blundering into trees and, on one occasion, kicking an otter. The invisible terror of the Marsians gathered all about me; that pitiless sword of heat whirling to and fro, flourishing overhead. Lastly, I came into the road between the crossroads and Horsell, and ran in the direction of my house.

I stopped for a moment near the bridge that crosses the canal by the gasworks. A lot had happened in the past few hours. I had seen people that I had come to think of as “fellow employees” kersploded, an extraterrestrial invasion, and accidentally kicked an otter. I walked unsteadily up the steep incline of the bridge. My mind was blank wonder. My muscles and nerves seemed drained of their strength.

The figure of a workman carrying a basket appeared and crossed over the bridge. Beside him ran a little boy. He passed me, wishing me good night. I answered his greeting with a meaningless mumble and went on over the bridge.

I suppose I should have warned him about the whole “fire and death” thing that lay in the direction he was headed but I’m sure someone else did.

There was a crowd of people from the gasworks, and the electric lamps were all alight. I stopped at the group.

“Any word on the shenanigans on the common?” I asked.

There were two men and a woman at the gate.

“Eh?” said one of the men, turning.

“Any news from the common?” I said.

“’Ain’t yer just been there?” asked the men.

“People seem fair silly about the common,” said the woman over the gate. “What’s it all abart?”

“Haven’t you heard of the landing from Mars?” said I; “What with all the fire and the burning and the dead people and the monsters and all that.”

“Quite enough,” said the woman over the gate. “Thenks”; and all three of them laughed.

I felt foolish and angry. I tried and found I could not tell them what I had seen and had to satisfy myself with hoping that they died painfully.

“You’ll hear more yet,” I said, and went on to my home.

I startled my wife, Enid, at the doorway. I went into the dining room, sat down, drank some Relentless, and (as soon as I could) I told of the things on the common. The dinner, which was a cold one, had already been served, and remained neglected on the table while I told my story.

“There is one thing,” I laughed, attempting to allay the fears I had aroused; “they are the most sluggish things I ever saw crawl. They’re slower than Kerry Kitona’s mental processes. They may keep the pit and kill people who come near them, but they cannot get out of it!”

“And the world has never been conquered by stationary creatures before.” said my wife, putting her hand on mine.

“Damn that Humid William!” I said. “To think he may be lying dead there! And my Chainfist lies unused in the garage!”

“They may come here!” she said again and again.

I tried to reassure her.

“They can scarcely move.” I said. “I’m pretty sure that they only wanted to conquer Horsell Common. Hey, if that’s all they want, they can have it, right?”

I began to comfort her, repeating all that Humid William had told me of the impossibility of the Marsians establishing themselves on the earth. In particular I laid stress on the gravitational difficulty.

On the surface of the earth the force of gravity is three times what it is on the surface of Mars. A Marsian, therefore, would weigh three times more than on Mars, albeit his muscular strength would be the same. His own body would be a cope of lead to him. That, indeed, was the general opinion. Both The Times and Heat, for instance, insisted on it the next morning, and both overlooked, just as I did, two obvious modifying influences.

The atmosphere of the earth, we now know, contains far more oxygen and far less argon (which I had always previously assumed to be a catalogue store) than does Mars. The excess of oxygen upon the Marsians, it turned out, counterbalanced the increased weight of their bodies. Secondly, we all overlooked the fact that such mechanical intelligence as the Marsian possessed was quite able to dispense with muscular exertion at a pinch.

But none of us considered this at the time, and neither did any of you, so why don’t you go ahead and bite me. With wine and food, the confidence of my own table, and the necessity of reassuring my wife, I grew courageous and secure. More than usual. Which is a lot.

“They have done a foolish thing,” said I, field-stripping and cleaning my Storm Bolter. “They are dangerous because, no doubt, they are mad with terror. Perhaps they expected to find no living things—certainly no intelligent living things. If the worst comes to the worst, a mortar round fired into the pit will kill them all.”

I remember that dinner table with extraordinary vividness even now. My dear Enid’s anxious face peering at me from under the pink lamp shade, the white cloth with its silver and glass table furniture and the condensation on my energy drink are photographically distinct.

I did not know it, but that was the last civilised dinner I was to eat for very many strange days.


Close your eyes. Open your mind. You will be unprepared.

Sucker Punch is an epic action fantasy that takes us into the vivid imagination of a young girl whose dream world provides the ultimate escape from her darker reality. Unrestrained by the boundaries of time and place, she is free to go where her mind takes her, and her incredible adventures blur the lines between what's real and what is imaginary.

She has been locked away against her will, but Babydoll has not lost her will to survive. Determined to fight for her freedom, she urges four other young girls—the outspoken Rocket (Jena Malone), the street-smart Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), the fiercely loyal Amber and the reluctant Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) — to band together and try to escape their terrible fate at the hands of their captors: Blue, Madam Gorski and the High Roller.

Led by Babydoll, the girls engage in fantastical warfare against everything from samurai to serpents, with a virtual arsenal at their disposal. Together, they must decide what they are willing to sacrifice in order to stay alive. But with the help of a Wise Man, their unbelievable journey—if they succeed—will set them free.

Born from the creative vision of filmmaker Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300), Sucker Punch features an ensemble cast of young stars, including Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish (Bright Star), Jena Malone (Donnie Darko), Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical) and Jamie Chung (Sorority Row). The film's main cast also includes Oscar Isaac and Carla Gugino, with Jon Hamm and Scott Glenn.

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