Alizarin – The Last Semblance

Alizarin – The Last Semblance
Self-Released
Release Date: 10/07/2020
Running Time: 58:46
Review by Beth Jones
7/10

Salutations once again music fans. It’s a glorious sunny day again here in our little corner of Wales, and I almost spent the day in the garden being productive, but, owing to the untimely death of my pressure washer, I’m now writing instead! I didn’t really want to be outside anyway… it’s overrated… damn.

Anyway, the subject of my musings today is Los Angeles based cinematic prog rockers, Alizarin, and their upcoming new release “The Last Semblance”. Formed in 2017, this will be the bands second album. Their first, “Cast Zenith”, was released in 2018 and was a strictly instrumental album, however Guitarist and band founder Josh Kay has now stepped up to vocal duties, providing another element to their sound.

The band’s press release says that this album ‘covers a wide spectrum of sonic landscapes and emphasizes the melodic journey over deliberate technique.’ My first impression of the sound was that it indeed explores many sonic landscapes, however I think the journey that it takes is both melodic and technical in equal measures. If you like true prog with many deep routed jazz rhythm changes, close harmonies, and unexpected cadences, this is certainly the album for you. It has a classic sound, which reminds me very much of bands like The Enid and Rush, but also is heavily influenced by more recent developments like Opeth.

The album starts off in true prog style, with ‘Elegy Simularca’, a near 8-minute song that is heavily routed in exploring instruments, with the addition of vocals. I’m a massive fan of instrumental exploration that this genre affords, so this for me was a good start. Leading in with synth strings, and then synth arpeggiator, the song progresses into sections that suggest urgency, with staccato guitar riffs and bass lines and offbeat accents in the drum line, juxtaposed with flowing synth and long vocal lines; interspersed with calmer section with all instruments given more chance to flow. There is also a superb guitar solo in this track.

The whole album continues along the same vein, with complex riffs and solos on the guitar, more rhythm changes than I’ve had hot dinners, attention to detail in terms of dynamics and tempos, and deep rooted layers of synth, emphasising the classic ‘prog originator’ sound that underpins what this band do.

There is a very clever bit of attention to detail at the end of the final track ‘The Ivory Silo’, as it finishes with the same chord on synth strings that the album starts with, bringing it full circle. I liked that very much.

All in all, this is a very accomplished album. But I do have a few issues with it. Firstly, they commit, for me, the cardinal sin of music. The fade out. Track 2, ‘Fathom’ rolls along beautifully for the entire track, but then is ruined by the fade out. If you can’t work out how to end a track, shelve it until you can. The fade out is the single worst thing to ever happen to music in my opinion, and no-one will ever change my mind on that!

My second issue is, whilst musically and technically the album is beautifully and very adeptly played and mixed, it lacks a bit of soul. It almost feels like there is an invisible wall of technique between the band and the audience, and they haven’t quite figured out how to get over it to connect with their listeners ‘right in the feels’.

My final issue is that I’m not convinced that the vocals add anything to the experience. They’re ok, they’re nothing ground-breaking, and they have a tendency to feel like a bit of an afterthought.

That said, as a work in its entirety, it does do what it says on the tin. Is it cinematic? Yes. Does it deliver proggy elements? Yes, by the bucket load. Is it accomplished melodically and technically? Yes, it most certainly is. Is it a beautifully balanced instrumentally? Yes. Everything sits in the right place when it comes to instruments.

This is an album that is going to be an acquired taste for many, but if you do like technical instrumental prog, and don’t mind some vocals, you will enjoy it.

Track Listing:
01. Elegy Simulacra
02. Fathom
03. A Wreath of Temperance
04. Velvet Margin
05. Heirloom
06. Zero Sum
07. Attenuation
08. The Ivory Silo

Line Up:
Josh Kay – Guitars and vocals
Jon Damon – Drums
Terran Fernandez – Bass and backing vocals
Avelino Ramirez – Keyboards

Links:
www.alizarinmusic.com/
www.facebook.com/alizaringroup/
www.instagram.com/alizarinband/
www.alizarinband.bandcamp.com/
www.youtube.com/channel/UC5cy7LBoVpwCBcVHfxCZQdA

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Osyron – Foundations

Osyron – Foundations
SAOL/The Orchard
Release Date: 10/07/2020
Running Time: 28:41
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

After a pretty productive bank holiday weekend, Rick decided to hit me up with something new that he thought I would like, as part of my quest to write more reviews. The first of these is our subject here, Canadian Symphonic Metal band, Osyron. Based in Calgary, Alberta, the group see themselves as ‘bridging the gap between traditional European metal and the music of their homegrown contemporaries’.

Starting out in Ontario, they originally went by the name Morbid Theory, releasing two demos (Chaos Breed in 2006 and Harbinger in 2010). The band saw some changes in line-up, scenery, and identity, and, after moving to Alberta in 2012, Osyron was born.

Their upcoming release, “Foundations”, although only 5 tracks in duration, is just about scraping album length, owing to the progressive nature of their compositions and the story that it takes you through. It is a view on Canadian history, spanning topics from the country’s colonization, to the mistreatment and recognition of indigenous tribes, and the country’s participation in global warfare. This hard hitting and melancholy theme is stark from the off.

Starting with dark symphonic chords and the pounding of drums, Osyron take us through colonisation in the first track ‘The Cross’. It’s pounding beats and droning root chords suggest the regimented power of an oppressor, and the helplessness of the indigenous people; ‘They would learn to live like us, Or they would learn to die by the cross.’

The second track ‘Ignite’, tells the story of Canada’s roll in WWI, explored from a Canadian and UK perspective. Again, lyrically, it’s hard hitting. Musically it explores differentiation in rhythm, emulating the chaotic nature of battle, as well as pulsing beats and chanting war cries that suggest the regimented and indoctrinated nature of war. The use of drums here also cleverly suggests the sounds of a battlefield.

A contrast in pace and instrumentation to the first two tracks, ‘Battle of The Thames’, starts acoustically, with just voice and guitar, at a much slower pace, but in keeping with the melancholy that drifts beautifully throughout this record. It has almost a folk, lilting feel, and would not be out of place performed atop a craggy cliff on a Celtic shoreline. Halfway through, we are treated to a far away guitar solo, which almost sounds like a distant violin, adding more to the feeling of a ‘folk’ route. I may be wrong, but I think I can hear a mandolin in there too at some points. This track gathers layered momentum as it progresses, and reaches a climax with an excellent guitar solo, pulling things back from folk, to symphonic metal.

The penultimate track, ‘The Ones Below’, marks a sudden change in pace, starting with a fully loaded groove riff, the sort you would expect from a well-oiled groove metal band. However, this is intertwined with the ethereal sounds of strings. The reason for the more upbeat nature of this track – it is a celebration of the generations past and how their sacrifice is now being recognised. The raising of a glass to the ones below ‘We drink not in our sorrow… For our sisters and brothers’.

However, you still feel that this isn’t enough… That more can be done… A theme that is explored in the final, and title track, on this record. An epic composition and by far my favourite, it’s musically full, symphonic, and heavy in its minor key. For me, lyrically it is the most tortured track on the album. The chorus lines ‘Wild lies, of white crimes, I, can no longer bear…And hear them cry, throughout the night, Why? Have our wrongs taken their rights?’ are very stark, powerful, and thought provoking. And the change up in rhythm towards the end spark thoughts of final painful realisation and desperation to put right wrongs. Very deep and pretty moving.

Musically, this record is symphonic and proggy in all the right places, and if you like bands such as Nightwish, Symphony X, Dream Theater, Kamelot, and Wintersun, you’re going to like this. But in my opinion, the ace card here is the lyrics, and the way that every member of the band has explored and interpreted the subject matter. They all had a hand in writing the tracks, for the first time in their history, and I think that it has really worked very well. I might not have known Osyron before hearing this record, but I definitely intend to get to know them more now.

TRACKLISTING:
1. The Cross
2. Ignite
3. Battle of The Thames
4. The Ones Below
5. Foundations

LINE-UP:
Krzysztof Stalmach (Guitar)
Cody Anstey (Drums)
Bobby Harley (Guitar)
Reed (Vocals)
Tyler Corbett (Bass)

LINKS:
www.osyron.com
www.facebook.com/osyron/
www.twitter.com/osyron
www.instagram.com/osyronband/
www.youtube.com/user/osyron/videos

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Thirteen Stars – Finest Ramshackle Jam

Thirteen Stars – Finest Ramshackle Jam
RPM Music
Release Date: 19/06/2020
Running Time: 55:12
Review by Beth Jones
9.5/10

When you think of Southern Rock and Blues, you probably picture a beat up back porch in the dusty southern states of America in the warmth of the evening sun, upon which there sits a craggy gentleman, supping a Southern Comfort or a nice bourbon, whilst singing about life and strumming a guitar. Or driving across an orange dessert in an open top Cadillac on the way to Woodstock, the sun beating down and the dust sticking hard to your brill-creamed handlebar tash, swigging from a bottle of moonshine and toking on a Marlboro.  And you would be forgiven for thinking that the members of Thirteen Stars had all indeed been living that life in order to create the Southern Rock sound that we all know and love. But you’d be wrong. They are, in fact, from the West Coast… of Cumbria, UK. Being a dweller of the UK myself, I can confirm that Cumbria is neither dusty, nor sunny for a good 95% of the year, so getting that Southern sound the way Thirteen Stars do is pretty impressive!

Their latest release, and fifth studio album, “Finest Ramshackle Jam”, is due to drop in mid-June 2020. The album was recorded at Doncaster’s Axis Studios, which has played host to a variety of names, including Terrorvision, Massive Wagons, and Black Spiders, and engineered and produced by Matt Elliss, with co-production by Thirteen Stars’ frontman, Hoss Thompson. The album was mastered by Geoff Pesche (Page & Plant, Therapy, The Divine Comedy) at Abbey Road Studios no less (if you don’t know the significance of that place, are you even a music fan?)!

The album as a whole has been inspired by, and pays homage to many sub-genres of Rock and musical icons from ages past, with nods to Rockabilly and classic Rock ‘n’ Roll, and hints of greats such as Queen, Tom Petty, and Elvis Presley, amongst others. The use of instantly recognisable instruments – Hammond organ, a brass section, and Bass Clav – provide a classic 50s, 60s and 70s feel, but it’s in no way ‘dated’. The sweeping backing vocal harmonies and guitar harmonies throughout, the fuzzed-out guitar solos, and the extremely good, multi-layered mixing, give “Finest Ramshackle Jam” a very ‘full’ feel, which is really pleasing to listen to. I particularly like the use of panning on many of the songs, which creates a brilliant sense of depth, and almost makes it feel like you are watching a live show (remember them?… they were fun… ☹).

The album starts at apace, with ‘I’m Ready’, a track that frontman Hoss Thompson describes as a composition in which the idea of music is personified, and is asking ‘are you ready to dedicate your life to me, whatever hardship that may bring?’ to which the answer, for these guys, is ‘yes’!

There is a good variety of pace and feeling across the record, with upbeat tracks like ‘Be There In The Morning’ (which to me has quite a Buddy Holly feel about it), and ‘Mint Jelly’, proper full on groove in tracks like ‘Break It Down Slowly’, and even a little walk into Motown in ‘Rebel’. The whole 55 minutes of this album is crammed full of excellent musicianship from all members – one of my favourite moments being the mighty guitar work in the final track, ‘Only A Soldier’. It’s like a big hug in its richness and has plenty of wah!

I simply can’t pick a favourite track off this album, as they are all so different from each other, and explore the full depths of genres around their sound. In the press release front man, Hoss, said that this album was a reaction to their previous album, “The White Raven”, which, although liked it, they “felt that it lacked some variety, and we wanted to create a more esoteric album. One that encapsulated all the different inspirations we have and that shows the variety of songwriting that we create.” Well, congratulations guys, as you have done just that in this album. It’s not ground-breaking, but it doesn’t need to be. Its beauty is in the bands understanding of the musical roots which they emulate. These guys are really solid players in their field, and deserve much acclaim for their work, and this damn fine album. If you like Southern Rock, in any form, you’re going to love this album.

TRACKLISTING:
01. I’m Ready
02. Running So Long
03. Sweet Lies
04. Give It Good
05. Sleeping
06. Sorcery
07. Be There In The Morning
08. I’d Do Anything
09. Mint Jelly
10. Rebel
11. Steel Horse
12. Keep Calm and Carry On
13. Razor’s Edge
14. Break It Down Slowly
15. Only A Soldier

LINE-UP:
Hoss Thompson – Vocals/Guitar
Jax Sedgwick – Guitar
Mike Reid – Bass
Andy Bates – Drums

LINKS:
www.thirteenstarsuk.com/
www.facebook.com/ThirteenStars
www.twitter.com/13_Stars1
www.instagram.com/13_starsuk
www.youtube.com/channel/UCt3pEsMdP6CYVtwbLKBx0xw

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Battle Born – Battle Born EP

Battle Born – Battle Born EP
Self Released
Release Date: 26/06/2020
Running Time: 24:16
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

So here we are my friends – still in the midst of weirdness, and slowly pushing the boundaries of our sanity a little further every day, complete with lockdown haircuts and all-day drinking! Add in to that a bank holiday weekend at the sweaty end of May, and you would be forgiven for thinking that I may have finally cracked! But thankfully the saving grace in all this madness is, as ever, music, and the new releases certainly haven’t slowed down here at EMHQ. So, I’m cracking open another bottle and settling in for the long haul. I have new music and wine. I could think of many worse ways to spend a Sunday evening!

Tonight’s listening pleasure is brought to me by Battle Born, a Power Metal quintet from the UK, who are about to release their debut EP of the same name. The Power Metal scene here in the UK has always been small, but perfectly formed (a lot like me!!) and it is great to see a host of new bands flying on to the scene, holding aloft the mighty sword of European Power Metal sounds, pulling their flowing manes and theatrical anthems behind them! The inspiration for Battle Born’s Debut EP apparently came from the hugely successful game, Skyrim. Now, I am a bit of a gamer, but alas being a bit old, and a staunch Nintendo girl, unless it has Mario in, it’s not on my radar! However, you don’t need to know the game in order to appreciate good music. So, without further procrastination, let’s talk Power Metal!

Without giving me chance to slurp my wine, the opening track and title track, ‘Battle Born’, burst out of my headphones with all the power and speed that you would expect from a very well healed band of the genre. Beginning with a very regent and full chord progression sequence, it quickly progresses to the gold old ‘riggidy diggidy’ beat so synonymous with Power Metal. Jack Reynold’s vocal are crisp and powerful, whether that be in a clean range, or giving us a couple of screams. I really like that every word is crystal clear. There is also some lovely keyboard work and a great guitar solo in this track. A proper barnstormer to start with. I like!

This theme continues throughout the EP. Classic Power Metal riffs, fantastic vocals, and metronomic rhythms. The addition of some 80’s style Synth in the second track, ‘Bring the Metal Back’, adds an interesting flavour and is a subtle nod to some of the greats. This 80’s feel is continued in track 3, ‘Man of War’, although this is less of a Power Metal anthem, and more Classic Metal. The band’s press release says that it ‘could comfortably have lived on 80s hard rock radio alongside Judas Priest.’ I concur. It comes complete with the sound effect of marching feet – very 80’s, hugely cliched, but perfect! A gold star again here to Jack Reynolds scream just before the end of the song! It’s big! I expect he needed a sit down after delivering it!

Track 4, ‘For Our Home’, slows things down into the realms of Power Ballad (lighters at the ready folks). It is a beautiful and very poignant and thoughtful composition amidst the thumping pace of the rest of the EP.

The final track, ‘Sovngarde Awaits’, starts of in a slow and melancholy fashion, but doesn’t stay there for long! Bringing the whole thing back full circle, it moves at a pace, and explores the full scope of the instrumentation on offer from Battle Born; the dramatic keys of Will Kerr, riffage a plenty on from Tom O’Dell on guitar, and a thumping and thunderous rhythm section provided by Chris Beattie on bass and Charles Lamacraft on drums. And of course, Jack Reynolds vocals.

You can’t help but smile at Power Metal, I find. It’s just joyous. And Battle Born have shown us here that they are certainly in contention to join the Power league with the big boys! Well done chaps!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Battle Born
02. Bring the Metal Back
03. Man of War
04. For Our Home
05. Sovngarde Awaits

LINE-UP:
Jack Reynolds – Vocals (also in Bykürius and Asira)
Will Kerr – Guitars, Keyboards
Tom O’Dell – Guitars, Vocals (Track 4) (also in Dwarrowdelf and Deavhronun)
Chris Beattie – Bass
Charles Lamacraft-Perrett – Drums
Extra guitars from Ethan Bishop (Asira/Bykürius/Cairiss on Tracks 3 and 4)

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/battlebornuk/
www.instagram.com/battlebornuk/
www.battlebornuk.bandcamp.com/
www.youtube.com/channel/UCg8iwUhNagsNEpSzLAui07g

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Cadence Noir – A Reckless Endeavour EP

Cadence Noir – A Reckless Endeavour EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 19/06/2020
Running Time: 24:32
Review By Beth Jones
8/10

As we approach summer the days are getting warmer, the nights are drawing out, and the sun has currently got his hat firmly on, and what better way to celebrate this than will a good bit of Gothic Folk ‘n’ Roll! It’s time to put on your best crushed velvet cravat, crack open a bottle of red and find a shady patch, because the new Cadence Noir EP is about to drop (Well in a month or more, but who’s counting – every day’s Thingday at the moment, right? 🙃).

These guys have now been around for almost a decade, but our history with them is more recent, in part. From stumbling upon them a few years ago, then discovering that frontman Ade was a childhood friend who I’d not seen for nigh on 30 years, to watching them progress and win the North Wales M2TM in 2018, a year which also saw the release of their debut full length album, “Physical Copy”. Since then, we’ve seen them a good few more times, and now welcome the release of their second EP.

Recorded in somewhat odd, but sensibly socially distant circumstances, due to the current plague situation, “A Reckless Endeavour” sees the band finally getting the last of their old tracks formally put to press, along with some ‘new’ tracks. I say new, as some of these have been concepts for a good while, but like a fine wine, have been maturing to give them that true vintage flavour. Releasing this EP now leaves them time to, as their press release says, ‘focus on writing entirely new terrible material as the still immature late 30’s angsty millennial lefty goths that they are, were and always will be!’

“A Reckless Endeavor” is very much what we’ve come to know and love about Cadence Noir; a jaunty hop, skip and jump through the suitably dark and disturbed! With deep routes in folk sounds, enhanced by Violinist Emma Bennett, along with the raspy vocal style of Ade Perrie, the solid guitar work of Ade and Nick Chamberlain, and the steady hands of Tom Smith on Bass and David Budge on Drums, this EP is a catchy mix of happy Goth Punk-Folk Celtic Thrash Pop metal, with a couple of surprises thrown in. Drums is all I’m saying. You’ll have to have a listen, but… Hey Yeah! Drums.

Music wise, this is Cadence Noir through and through and it makes you smile with your eyebrows. However, where I think they have upped their game is in the recording, and given the circumstances, that is a pretty awesome achievement. The mix on this EP is spot on – so kudos for that. Will it realign the universe and unite the nations? Doubtful, but it is bloody good fun, musically pleasing, conceptually solid, well recorded, and will get your toes tapping. You can’t really ask more than that. Personally, I think this is their best release yet. Check it out.

TRACKLISTING:
1. Weighing Owls
2. Hammered And Sickened
3. A Reckless Endeavour
4. Down The Park
5. My Place
6. Dave’s Turnip Tart
7. Hey Yeah (Secret Track)

LINE-UP:
Adrien Perrie – Guitar and Vocals
Nick Chamberlain – Guitar and Backing Vocals
Tom Smith – Bass
Emma Bennett – Violin
David Budge – Drums and Percussion

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/CadenceNoir/
www.twitter.com/CadenceNoir
www.instagram.com/cadencenoir/
www.cadencenoir.bandcamp.com/
www.youtube.com/channel/UC2kb6CwpIEHr_CrL31UgcKg

By Beth Jones

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Cry For Mercy – Automatic Breakdown EP

Cry For Mercy – Automatic Breakdown EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 26/03/2020
Running Time: 15:36
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

Lockdown is still upon us, unsurprisingly I may add. It could have been horrific, but thankfully the kids are finding ways to amuse themselves, and any time is wine o’clock here at EMHQ! We’re keeping ourselves busy with all the new releases that are still appearing, in spite of the sucky nature of the world outside our windows. Within this ever-expanding list was the new EP from one of our local favourites, Cry For Mercy.

After having a really good run in the 2019 Metal 2 The Masses competition, and making a bit of a name of themselves locally as a very talented and catchy blues rock band, these three down to earth guys aren’t letting lockdown stop them from putting new music out there. The release of this EP was supposed to happen in physical form, but was instead released digitally. Although checking on their Facebook page, they do now have physical copies.

So, to the music! This is their second EP release, and after really enjoying their first, I was very eager to give this one a spin. At only 4 tracks and a little over 15 minutes, it’s a short burst of what the Cry For Mercy boys can do, but in terms of the songs, it is concentrated goodness! Each track has a great swinging blues rock feel, with cracking riffs, some really smooth guitar solos, and gravelly vocals making it the perfect soundtrack to a road trip through a dusty sun-bleached dessert in Nevada (after lockdown is lifted of course – currently please stay at home, etc, etc).

In terms of production, this EP is a big step up from their first release. I love it when you can see measurable progress in a band, and this is demonstrated perfectly here. The balance of every instrument in the mix is spot on, and the timings and ‘togetherness’ of everything really shows the progress they have made in terms of being tight in performance in order to create a fully gelled sound.

I particularly like the second track, ‘Skin Crawl’ as it has some great dynamic variations, progressing through full on vocal harmonies and crunchy chords, to a softer vocal and fingerpicked guitar section, which then picks up again into the very catchy chorus!

These guys have a very classic sound. A mix of Mama’s Boys, with some early AC/DC, and a good hit of deep-south groove, which is easy and pleasurable to listen to, and always makes me smile. Another great release guys, now get cracking on an album please, because 15 minutes just isn’t enough for me!

TRACKLISTING:
1. Automatic Breakdown
2. Skin Crawl
3. Fire
4. Breaking Down The Walls

LINE-UP:
Kevin Plant – Bass/Lead Vocals
Andy Cutty – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Steven Taylor – Drums

LINKS:
www.cryformercy.co.uk/
www.facebook.com/cryformercyofficial/
www.twitter.com/cryformercy3
www.instagram.com/cryformercyofficial/
www.open.spotify.com/artist/78fR4BEnRQLJqky32oZM4D

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

The Machine By Beth Jones

Here is another short story from Beth that was published and included in a short story anthology last year, with all proceeds going to charity. If you would like to purchase a copy, you can do so here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Machine-Green-Moon-Anthologies-Greenwell/dp/1095483927

The Machine
By Beth Jones

‘Injuries not compatible with life’.

That phrase was running around my head relentlessly as I sat in the waiting area of the therapist’s office, watching the rain make little rivers down the window before falling silently onto the ledge below. This was my first therapy session after the accident. Or at least I think it was. I wasn’t really sure of much. I might have been here before, but there was definitely a glitch in the matrix of my mind that was blocking out random things; who won the world cup in 1966, what that place was called that I went to on holiday when I was four, and what I had for breakfast on the day of the accident to name but a few. I had replayed that day in my head a hundred times, but always only to the same point, then nothing. Why couldn’t I remember?! ‘Injuries not compatible with life…we need to stop this…we are going to turn the machine off now…you need to let him go…injuries not compatible with life…’

I jolted as the receptionist touched me on the shoulder. Tried not to look like I had just woken up from another dark daydream. ‘Pasha will see you now’, she said, trying not to look amused at my startled glare.

Pasha didn’t really look like a therapist. He was tall, chiselled and wore a snappy suit that made him look a little overdressed for a therapy session. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure why I was here – why did I need therapy? I wasn’t depressed, I wasn’t mentally ill, I was just having a little trouble with my memory after the accident – I think something had got jolted in my brain, some wires had got crossed and accidentally deleted some stuff, but I was functioning. Pasha ushered me in and directed me to a large green leather wing backed armchair that enveloped me as I sat. He watched my every move with intensity. There was a pause before I realised that I was holding my breath. I exhaled and tried to look relaxed – lesson one, don’t look like a psychopath when sitting in a therapist’s chair. Silence.

‘So’, he said finally ‘I have read your file. You have had a pretty rough ride. How are you feeling?’

I wasn’t sure how to answer this, because I wasn’t sure how I was feeling. I was getting used to being still here I suppose. Everything still looked the same. Everything was still the same as before. I think.

‘Yeah, good, you know, just adjusting to life’, I said quickly, not wanting to let my guard down. ‘To be honest I’m not sure why they sent me to therapy, because I feel OK. I don’t have any pain, I’m not really suffering in any way, which is surprising considering what they told me in the hospital about how bad it was. The only problem I seem to have is with my memory. It’s a bit…sketchy’.

‘Tell me about that’, Pasha said calmly, touching his index fingers together at his chin.

‘Well, I seem to have lost bits, little things that have just gone, and then from the day of the accident, there’s nothing. Little bits maybe, but nothing that makes any sense. I remember coming round in the hospital. I remember how quiet it was. But I don’t remember leaving. I remember the face of the specialist who saved my life, Dr Yanich, but I don’t remember what he was a Dr of, or how he saved my life, and then….’ I paused. That phrase was running around my head again. Injuries not compatible with life. What did that even mean? Why was I obsessing on it?

‘Please continue’, said Pasha. His face seemed concerned. I didn’t like this, it suddenly felt wrong. Maybe this was progress, this was the first emotion I could remember feeling in a long time.

‘Can I just nip out, nature calls’. Oh my god, did I actually just say that – that is such a lame way of getting out of an uncomfortable situation.

‘By all means – you are free to come and go as you choose, how you use this session is up to you’.

I hurried out of the room, not quite sure why I was freaking out, but something wasn’t right. If only I could remember emotions properly, maybe I would make more sense of this whole thing. I didn’t need the loo, I just didn’t want to be in there all of a sudden. Pasha wasn’t right, this whole thing wasn’t right. The receptionist glanced at me over the top of her computer monitor. It was kind of an odd look, but she didn’t move. I stood outside the door of the room and listened. I don’t really know why, but something compelled me to. For a minute or two there was nothing, then I heard a telephone speed dial. There was a brief pause, then came Pasha’s voice, in a low tone.

‘Yanish, it’s me. Yeah, he is here with me now. No, he’s not in the room with me, what do you take me for! I haven’t got far, but I think we have a problem. He remembers your face. He remembers the lab. You said that you had erased the memory. This could be catastrophic, and you know who the agency will blame, Yanish?! You need to fix this!!’

He hung up the phone as I strode back into the room. I smiled the best ‘blissfully unaware’ smile that I could muster. What the hell had that conversation been about? Something was very wrong about this whole situation. Who was this Pasha? What was this office? I needed to go.

‘Ah, better?’ asked Pasha, an odd, twisted smile on his face.

‘Yeah, much’, I said quickly. ‘Listen can we do this another day, I’m really tired today – I guess I’m still getting my strength back’.

‘Erm……sure’, he said, moving to the door, ‘just call me again soon, I want to keep a close eye on your progress.’

——–

I arrived home about an hour later. The traffic was all messed up again. The bus ride had taken so much longer than usual, and it was full of angry people late for meetings. There had been mutterings on the bus of another attack. I turned on the TV and sure enough the rumours were confirmed with wall to wall news. Another attack on the capital, the 38th this year, had taken place whilst I had been sat in that office. This time it was a bus into a crowd of people. The newsreaders were all describing the loss of life in too much detail, with a split screen of pro war demonstrations outside the parliament building. You had to admit that by this point, they kind of had a point. The country was under attack! How long could we stand by and let it happen. I sat in my chair and watched the story repeat on a loop every minute. I wasn’t really watching though. I was trying to make sense of the session with Pasha. What was it all about; the phone call, the smart suit, the receptionist? It just wasn’t right.

Injuries not compatible with life. What was that?

“………How many have we lost captain?! I need these figures now!!!”

“Sir, twenty-two sir, and four civilians. We have two crew and two civilians down, children sir. Injuries not compatible with life, sir!”

“Where are they?! Take me to them now!!”

“……………There is nothing more we can do for them, colonel, we are going to have to turn off the machines………….”

“…………. We have to make this disappear colonel. These men; our men. These children. None of this was meant to happen. This. Their blood is on our hands. Fix this. Do you understand?!”

——-

I jumped awake to a loud banging on my door. It was a little after 8pm. How long had I been out? I sprang up from my seat and moved to the door, checking the peephole nervously. Eve, the receptionist from the therapist’s office – what was she doing here? How did she even know were I lived? I opened the door and she looked at me straight in the eye, as she had done in the office. I knew what that look was now. What emotion it showed. Fear.

‘Don’t say anything, just let me in…. Please!’ she whispered.

I moved to the side and let her come past me, glancing around instinctively. I shut the door and turned to look at her. She was standing firm, but I could see her hands were shaking, her arm outstretched, holding a file. In the top corner the number 39 was written.

‘This is your file. This is you. I know you are different. I know you remember; I saw that today. Please, read this.’ I started to speak, but she cut me off. ‘Please! Please just read. We don’t have much time!’

I moved towards her and took the file out of her hand. Placing it on the coffee table, I sat and opened it. The first page was a mugshot of me, with my name printed underneath – John Edward Harris. My heart lurched. That was my name! I hadn’t been able to remember it since the accident. I mean it had been there on the tip of my tongue, but I could never get it to come out. I don’t remember anyone ever addressing me directly since the accident either. What was this. I turned the page and skimmed the summary ………battalion………civilian reconnaissance…… navigation error………IED……casualties………INJURIES NOT COMPATIBLE WITH LIFE…………Subject 39…………reanimation commenced. The report was signed Dr Pavlov Yanich – Chief Homo-robotics Research Engineer. I felt sick. What was this?!

Eve touched my arm and I leapt a mile out of my chair, like a startled cat. I had almost forgotten she was there. So many thoughts and emotions were filling my mind all at once, it was like a dam breaking down. My friends in the battalion, the sands of the desert, my colonels face, then…yes… England! England won the world cup in 66! Some fans are on the pitch; They think it’s all over: It is now! It was Spain where I went on holiday at four – Barcelona. My mum held me up in the pool so I could pretend I was swimming. I took my wife there for our honeymoon …wait, what?! My wife?!! I have a wife! She was there! She was there when I died. I remember her cries. Oh my god my beautiful wife, Shannon, she turned off the machine! She had to say goodbye to me…

I fell backwards into the chair as if I had been shot. My whole body felt contorted and wrong. WHAT WAS THIS?!!! This nightmare. Who was I and how had I not remembered all this before? I could hear myself wailing and moaning, the room spinning round me like a merry-go-round. As if in a dream, I saw Eve come towards me, brandishing a screwdriver. I instinctively put my arm up to cover my face as she plunged the weapon and drew it down my forearm like a knife through butter. I cried out in pain… But it didn’t hurt! In that moment, time stopped, and everything was still. I looked up at Eve, her eyes wet with tears.

‘I’m sorry’, she sobbed. ‘I had to make you see!’

I looked down at my arm, where the screwdriver was still lodged. There was no blood, although my skin was ripped in a 5-inch gash. Under the skin I could see something glinting in the light from the TV. I reached out my hand and pulled back a fold of skin and was greeted by metal. Circuits and wires took the place of flesh and bones. I continued to pull back the skin, expecting to feel pain with each movement, but feeling nothing, but cold, dark dread.

We sat in silence for a long time. Then finally, as dawn broke, Eve spoke.

‘You are part of a programme now. A multi – national specialist weapons unit, sanctioned by many governments, in secret, to instigate war. They used your body as a transport system for terror. They want to start a war, and the only way they can do that in democracy is to have the people behind them. They have got the people behind them through terror. These terrorist attacks. They aren’t real. This is them. These terrorists. They are all like you. They had no more use for their bodies. They were broken beyond repair. They fixed you. They brought you back. But for their own means’.

I tried to take this in. This couldn’t be real. ‘No, no, no! You have got this all wrong!’ I said, bewildered. ‘I was in an accident, but I recovered, I just suffer from amnesia!’

‘No!’ snapped Eve sharply. ‘You are suffering from parts of your living memory coming back! They were supposed to erase it, but yours has broken back through! That is why I found you!! I saw that today in the office – I knew you remembered! You have to help me. They are using you, and others to start a war. They will vote on it in days, unanimously between the main governments, and it will be the final war. This could be the end of us all. I have seen their experiments, their reanimations. They have used you. They have used us all to gain power!’

She slipped a photograph into my hand. A young boy of about 8 years old. ‘Please help me, they have my son.’ She said. I looked at the picture. I recognised the boy. He was the boy I held in my arms as the IED exploded.

‘He’s alive?!’ I asked hurriedly.

Eve nodded, tears flowing down her cheeks. ‘They are using him as ransom. I continue to co-ordinate their attacks, they keep him alive, I stop, he becomes the next attacker. Please, we don’t have much time. You are number 39, but you have remembered! Please help me stop this.’

I paused. Clarity descended on me. I still had so many unanswered questions, but there was no time. I was a machine. But I was no longer their machine. Because a machine doesn’t feel. Science was good, but not that good. I was a soldier, and this was not happening on my watch. I stood and moved to the door. I looked back at Eve.

‘Take me to Yanich! Take me to Pasha! They want a war – I will show them war.’

Disclaimer: This short story is solely the property of Beth Jones. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Red Method – For The Sick

Red Method – For The Sick
Depraved Records
Release Date: 25/02/2020
Running Time: 46:13
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

Hello fellow isolators! How’s it all going?! Weird times are upon us, but thankfully using the power of music, (and soap), we’re getting through it, right? The fact that there are no gigs to attend is a double edged sword for me, because I’m not out there doing what I love – taking pictures of wonderful musicians – however it does afford me the time to actually write some album reviews – every cloud!

And what better way to get back into the swing of things than with a good hit of Red Method, in the shape of their debut album, “For The Sick”. If you’ve not come across Red Method yet, why the hell not? Have you been living under a rock?! We first had our minds blown by the quality of these guys at Rabidfest 2019. They were easily my live band of that weekend, and I was very intrigued to find out how their sound would transfer to a recorded format.

They meld a lot of styles in their music, barraging through classic Death riffs and vocals, seasoned with some 90’s Grunge, and beefed out with modern Heavy Progressive Tech Metal. It’s a horrifically glorious cacophony of post-apocalyptic madness that makes me want to do a happy dance! I bloody love it! In the current climate, it seems incredibly apt too! And the answer to the question, “Does it transfer to recorded format?” A big, fat ‘abso-fucking-lutely it does’!!

Thumping drums playing ridiculously involved patterns, equally tricky fuzzed out bass and guitars, haunting samples, and a combination of clean vocals and powerful screams make the whole album an intense journey of discordant pleasure/pain. Every tune is incredibly complex in structure, and all have nods to the bands’ obvious influences, creating a sound that’s familiar, but unknown all at the same time. I may be sounding like I’m losing my mind here, but I promise you that you’ll know what I mean if you give this album a listen!

It’s bleak, its apocalyptic, it feels like a tortured descent into insanity, but it is absolutely impossible to stop listening to it halfway through, and that’s the mark of a good album in my book! You simply can’t stay still while listening either. I dare you to try! The pace and emotion generated by the whole album literally infects your entire body. Again topical! But this is a good virus that I recommend everyone catches. This album is, after all, “For The Sick”!

I can’t really pick a track that stands out, because they are all absolute barnstormers! But I will just mention the final track on the album, as it’s a brilliant nod to the bands’ grunge influences, in the shape of a cover of the Nirvana classic, ‘Heart Shaped Box’. Here, they have taken a notable tune, and reinvented it into something fresh, new, and perfectly matching their style. They created this track to commemorate the 26th anniversary of the release of “In Utero”, which in my humble opinion, was Nirvana’s finest album. Red Method’s version is a fine and very fitting tribute.

As I’m so completely blown away by “For The Sick”, you might be wondering why I’ve only scored it a 9 out of 10. Well, and I’m being uber picky here, the second track, ‘Split’, commits one of the cardinal sins of music in my opinion – a fade out at the end. ARRRRGH!!!  If you’ve read my previous reviews, you’ll know that I don’t let anyone get away with it!! Think of a way to finish the song!! Apart from that, this is an absolutely top-quality album written and performed by very talented and skilled musicians, who are destined for great things. Get yourself a copy, you won’t regret it!

TRACKLISTING:
1. Cycle Of Violence
2. Split
3. Messiah
4. The Narcissist’s Prayer
5. Ideology Of The Sick
6. Adriel
7. Euphoria Of Transformation
8. My Psychosis
9. The Absent
10. Heart Shaped Box (Nirvana Cover)

LINE-UP:
Jeremy Gomez – Vocals
Fred Myers – Drums
David Finn Tobin – Guitars and Backing Vocals
Will Myers – Bass
Quinton Lucion – Guitars
Alex Avdis – Keys and Backing Vocals

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/RedMethodBand/
www.twitter.com/redmethodband1
www.instagram.com/redmethod_/
www.redmethod.bigcartel.com/
www.open.spotify.com/artist/0GziaiWv5ifydV7CMykbKk
www.youtube.com/channel/UC2qhpR9Fcqguv_l7C_7HqIQ

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Jack And The Box – By Beth Jones

Here’s another short story for you, this time penned by Beth. This was included in a short story anthology, with all proceeds going to charity. If you would like to purchase a copy, you can do so here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Machine-Green-Moon-Anthologies-Greenwell/dp/1095483927

Jack And The Box
By Beth Jones

Sarah closed the front door, resting her head on it as she did so. She exhaled and closed her eyes, tears rolling gently down her cheeks. After a few minutes she turned to look at her house. It looked cold, dark and unloved. Slowly, she slouched through the door to the lounge, and on into the kitchen beyond. She needed a brew. If there was one thing that could make things look better, it was a good cup of tea! That was what Old Jack used to say to her anyway, so she figured she would put his theory to the test. She filled the kettle and went to the fridge for milk. To her dismay, it was curdled and congealed in the see-through plastic bottle, and the fridge smelled like something had died in there. She sighed, rolled her eyes, and lumbered back towards the lounge, flicking the kettle off as she passed.

She sat in her comfy chair, where Old Jack used to sit when he came around for chats, and pulled a crocheted blanket round her shoulders. She hadn’t felt this alone in a long time. The sense of being totally lost and unsure what to do swept over her; something she hadn’t felt since her childhood. For a while, she sat motionless, staring at nothing, thinking about Old Jack and what she could focus on now he was gone. She had been so busy caring for him for the last two years, she had almost forgotten how to do anything else. When he was taken into hospital, she’d been with him every day, trying to keep him in high spirits, trying desperately to keep him fighting on, but they both knew he was dying, and that it was only a matter of time.

It was only a few hours since he passed, but the desperate need to see him again was like a black hole devouring her insides. He’d told her not to worry, that everything was going to be ok and that he was happy to be going home. Happy that the pain would stop, for both of them. But her pain hadn’t stopped, because now it was the pain of loss. The pain that takes away your breath and seers through your head, forcing every last tear that you own to come out all at once.

The last fifteen years, living next door to Old Jack, had been the happiest and most fulfilled she had ever been. She had no-one else in the world apart from him. She’d been in the care system since from eighteen months old. Both her parents were addicts and had died of drug overdoses while she was asleep in her cot. Apparently, it was at least 24 hours later when the police found her. She was placed into care as her grandparents were alcoholics. She spent the next sixteen years being pushed from pillar to post, from care home to foster carer. She had blocked out most of those years; the emotional scars too deep to face. Throughout that time, no matter how hard it was, she’d always been determined that her horrible past wouldn’t define her. She tried hard in school and ended up a ‘straight A’ student. She’d won awards for her hard work in the face of adversity, and for her achievement in Maths and Science. She had always been fascinated by scientific discovery. Physics was magical for her; like a playground of mystery where nothing was beyond the realms of possibility! When she was too old for the care system, her stubborn determination drove her to make a go of life as a fully blown, fully functioning adult. Social services had helped her locate a house – nothing special, a little two up, two down terraced. That was when she met Old Jack, her next-door neighbour. From that day, those childhood scars had started to heel. Now they felt wide open again.

Jack had been the closest thing she’d ever had to a father figure. She managed a little smile as she remembered the first time she’d met him. He’d knocked on her door the day she moved in and given her a welcoming present of a jar of coffee, a pint of milk, and a bag of sugar. She had told him, quite bluntly, that she didn’t like coffee! He had tutted and shuffled back to his door, then two minutes later had come back with a bottle of Navy Rum and two glasses! They had both sat on boxes and got acquainted over some very large measures. They instantly hit it off, as Jack had been a scientist all his life! She found him fascinating, and pretty soon it got to the point where they were always together, Jack sharing many wonderful stories with her, and her hanging on his every word, making tea in the gaps between stories, then urging him to tell her more.

He had once told her how he’d been a codebreaker in the war. She had her reservations as to whether this was true; it felt like it was just one story too far, but by then she had so much love and respect for this wonderful human who had fallen into her life so unexpectedly, that she never questioned it.

Suddenly, a familiar sound came from the meter cupboard in the hall, and everything went dark. The sound was the electric metre shutting off because she was out of credit again. She swore under her breath. She really didn’t need this now! She was too tired and numbed by the day to go out and get more, so she fumbled about on the mantlepiece for a lighter and lit the numerous candles she had dotted around the lounge for this very occurrence. The warm glow from all the little lights was somewhat comforting.

Then she saw it on the mantlepiece. The letter that Jack had given her when he knew he was beginning to fade. It came with strict instructions not to open it until he was gone, and it had sat there, in the same spot, for nearly six months. She stared at it for what felt like hours, hoping that it would disappear. Wishing she would never have to open it, but still slightly intrigued at its contents. Jack literally told her everything, so what could this little envelope contain that she didn’t already know?

Finally, she picked it off the mantlepiece and began to slowly open it, her hands shaking a little. Jack had the most amazingly precise handwriting she had ever seen; perfectly slanted cursive script, with every letter beautifully formed, and even when his health had started to fail and he’d grown weak, this skill never left him.

            “Dearest Sarah,

The fact you are reading this can only mean one thing. Don’t be sad that I’m no longer here – I’m not in the least bit sad that I have gone! Nor am I worried about what is to come next. For me, I should imagine it will be an extraordinary adventure! I might be flying though space as you read this; or growing into a coral on a far away planet, in a parallel universe, so have no fear for me. I am an explorer, and death is a mere diversion onto a new path!

I am also not worried about you, because you are strong, you are brave, and you are bright. More importantly, you are young. You have your whole life ahead of   you, and you shouldn’t dwell on my passing because to dwell is to waste time, and you will need all the time you can get to work on a project that I have designed just for you.

I always dreamed I would have a daughter, and in you, that dream was realised. I sometimes felt you thought more like me than I did, and this is why I am entrusting you with my unfinished work. I know you never believed my codebreaker story, but I want you to know that whilst my story was not entirely true, it did contain elements of the truth.

I was born and raised in Nevada. I did fight in the war for a very short time. I was an engineer in US military, until I was injured on manoeuvres and sent home! I took up a roll within the military on my return, working alongside intelligence to identify and replicate advancements in our enemies’ weapons. In 1957 I was working in the Nevada Dessert, at Groom Lake. You might know this place as Area 51.

What I’m about to tell you, you must never tell another soul! You are the only person to know this about me. This is the reason I never married or had any children of my own. If I had done, I would have put them in danger.

In 1957, the ever-suspicious US air force were working on secret technology, to enable them to create indestructible and undetectable fighting machines, to ensure that there would never be another war that they couldn’t win in the blink of an eye. They wanted to affirm their authority over the rest of the planet in a blaze of glory. The technology they were using there was not of this world. You’ve heard the Roswell stories; the conspiracies; the ‘loony’ UFO chaser tales. I can tell you now, they are all as real as the ground on which you stand, but the cover-ups have run so deeply that it is almost impossible to see things in plain sight now.

As a scientist, I was enthralled and enlivened by the idea of discovering and replicating alien technology, but as a human being, with deep morals, I knew that this knowledge was ultimately destined to be used for greed and power, and I could not live with myself being a part of that. I spent months planning my escape; my own exile from that place. I worked through scenarios and theories endlessly before making my move. That is how I ended up here, in our little town, in the back of beyond, our little secret corner of Britain.

My point in telling you this is I brought something with me. I managed to smuggle it out. I found it whilst picking through some pieces of wreckage debris that had been shipped in from Roswell. It had been passed over by the other scientists as insignificant, so much so that it hadn’t been recorded on any paperwork. So, when I took it, the only person who really knew of its existence was me.

I don’t know why it intrigued me so, but there was something about it that led me to think it was some kind of technology. Some kind of machine not of this world. No bigger that a match box, and with no markings or obvious buttons, I often thought I might be reading too much into it and it was just what it looked – a lump of unknown matter. A chunk of ‘stuff’ that wasn’t man-made or made out of any identifiable material. For years I puzzled over it. Right up until 15 years ago. Right up until the point I met you. I decided pretty quickly this would be my legacy to you.

I want you to have it. I want you to crack the code. Unlock its secrets and come tell me when you have. I have no doubt that you will be more capable of this than I, and although I may have left this earth, this existence; and you will have no physical ‘me’ to deliver your conclusion to, trust me when I say I will hear you.

Inside this envelope, you will find a small key. Take it into my house. Behind the fire in the lounge you’ll find a small safe behind a wood panel. The object, and my research papers, are in there. They now belong to you. Carry on my work Sarah. you now hold the key to the universe in your hand!

Until we meet again, Sarah.

Jack x”

Sarah didn’t really know what to say or do next. She kept looking up at the window, then back at the letter, suddenly feeling suspicious of everything. Was anyone watching? Had her house been bugged by some secret agency while she was at the hospital with Jack? Or was this just one of his crazy, mad science stories? She looked in the envelope. There was a small and dainty key nestled in the bottom corner. No, this couldn’t possibly be real, this must be one of Jacks little musings to cheer her up, she thought. She looked up at the ceiling and cursed him under her breath. She placed the key on the mantlepiece and sat back down in the chair. She drummed her fingers on the arm of the chair and fixed her stare on the key, which was glinting in the candlelight. After not too long at all, her curiosity got the better of her. Thumping her hands down assertively on the arms of the chair, she pushed herself up, grabbed the key, and fumbled in her pocket for Jack’s front door key.

It was nearly midnight and the rest of the sleepy road was tucked up in bed by now, even the curtain-twitchers would be snoring, so no-one would see her if she went round to Jack’s for a little investigation, to see if her dear, crazy friend was just pulling her leg for one last time!

She opened her door, and stuck out her head, looking up and down the street, trying (but failing) not to appear too suspicious. There wasn’t a soul about. Perfect! She tiptoed the few feet to Jack’s front door and quickly let herself in. Although it was pitch dark, she didn’t want to turn on the lights and raise any suspicion. Luckily, the clouds of earlier had cleared and moonlight was streaming though the lounge window, illuminating the room with an ethereal glow. She padded silently to the fire place. The house smelled of Jack. It was a comforting smell, like he was there with her, a protector on her new mission!

She moved the old electric fire over and gently tapped on the ‘wall’ behind it. Definitely hollow! She suddenly realised that her heart was beating fast, and that all her senses were heightened. The super power of adrenaline! She quickly surveyed the wall, looking for a way to dislodge the board. There! In the corner, was a tiny cut-out space, big enough for her finger to fit through! She slowly pushed her finger into the hole and felt something small, round and metallic. She pushed a little harder and, with a little pop, the whole panel moved and inch forward! She had to give it to Jack – a spring loaded secret panel behind a fire was pretty cool for a guy of his age! Slowly, she took away the panel, and sure enough, there was the safe. She put the tiny key in the lock and turned. It was a little stiff; the mechanism was obviously old, but eventually it gave a little click, which made her jump! Carefully, she opened the door, and there it was. A small, grey, metallic looking object, no bigger than a matchbox, sitting on top of a thesis of paperwork, all in the same beautiful cursive script that Jack had used to write his final letter. She sat back and stared, her eyes bulging. She had just opened Pandora’s Box. Her head swam with ideas, emotions, theories, fears. She took a deep breath and reached in to the safe to remove the contents.

*******

Sarah got up at six the next morning. She hadn’t really slept all night if she was honest. Way too much buzzing round her head for sleep. When she’d got back in from Jack’s, she’d done what all scientists do; taken the ‘Machine of Unknown Origin’, as she was now calling it, to bed with her, put it under her pillow and had a good long puzzle over it instead of counting sheep. By 2am she was pacing her room reading the stack of theories that Jack had left with the MUO to try and find something he’d missed. A few hours later, she lay back down. So many questions had occurred to her. What was it made of? Where had it come from? What had Jack seen in it that made it special? Hell, was this even a real thing or was this just Jack trying to give her a project to focus on, so she didn’t miss him too much? If that was it, it wasn’t working. The hole in her heart felt bigger today than yesterday. It felt gaping.

She slowly padded down the stairs to the kitchen and placed the MUO on the work top by the sink. She flicked on the kettle and moved to the fridge, to get the milk, sleepily picking it out, holding it up to the light, and realising that it was the same curdled mess that had greeted her last night. Angrily, she wrenched off the lid and moved back to the sink to dispose of the putrid mess. Through her exhausted eyes, she attempted to aim for the plug hole, but missed completely, pouring the rotten stuff all over the work top, and covering the MUO in the foul concoction. She gasped and quickly bent down to get a cloth from the cupboard under the sink. “This is why I’m not a scientist “she shouted at herself as she knelt, rooting through the bottle of cleaning products. “The most important discovery in the world, ever, and I go and spill rotten milk on it.”

As she fumbled, she became aware of the room becoming lighter. She slowly looked up around the room, her gaze finally settling on the light source. The MUO was glowing, from underneath, with a strange, blue-white glow. She stayed knelt down, frozen to the spot, her pulse audible in her ears. For what felt like an eternity, she sat, transfixed at the enthralling light that was being emitted by this tiny object. Without warning the light faded to nothing. She slowly stood and leaned in closer to examine the MUO, her face now only inches from its surface. The silence within the room was electric, she hardly dared to breath. Time seemed to stand still around her, and nothing could break this fascinating moment.

Nothing would break this fascinating moment!

The MUO had her transfixed!

It had her complete attention!

But it did nothing…

Nothing…

Until…

CLICK………….

Disclaimer: This short story is solely the property of Beth Jones. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.