As an opportunity for fellow writers to have greater exposure, this section of my website is reserved for those wishing to make a written contribution to its pages.
Each month, a fresh third party will be given the chance to list here a submission of their choice, together with a suitable image for the piece of work. If you are interested send a message via the mailing address below, and we'll go from there.
Content will be scrutinised to ensure that it fits in with the rest of the site's tone and appearance, but every effort will be made to accomodate those wanting to take part.
Submission length is limited to no more than 5,000 words, and a suitable spellchecker should be used to remove errors beforehand. A personal photograph should also be included (no avatars please), together with a brief biography.
Mailing address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
All her life, Debbie has spun stories in her mind, watching the characters come to life.
After working as a nurse, teacher, martial arts instructor, artist, and CIC officer in the Canadian Forces, her life reads like a story itself.
Since graduating from the Institute of Children's Literature, she is finally devoting herself to writing these stories down, taking us all on a ride we won't quickly forget.
The biggest thing on 15-year-old Tommy's mind is convincing Mom to let him go to the drive-in, but when an accident claims his mother's life and
puts him in the hospital, the arrival of his estranged, alien father brings more changes than he had bargained for. It doesn't take his father
long to figure out that Tommy knows nothing about who or what he is. Without any explanation, Tommy finds himself onboard his father's spaceship
where he is forced to trust a man he does not know in a world he knows even less about.
Adapting to his new life seems overwhelming, and his father's solution may prove to be Tommy's finest challenge yet...Jayden. A few months
younger than Tommy, high strung and always in a mood, the doctor's daughter definitely didn't like being 'told' to help Tommy fit in. Jayden is
not the most welcoming or patient of tutors, let alone a friend. As fate would have it, Tommy quickly learns that none of these things compare
to the peril that comes from being born with amethyst eyes.
From the Upcoming and Final Book in the 'Amethyst Eyes' Trilogy
Tommy pulled Jayden closer and leaned his forehead on hers. “Be safe,” she whispered. The slight tremor of her body betrayed her nervousness, but she immediately pushed out of his arms when the alarm sounded. Her expression shifted as she composed herself, becoming the serious doctor he’d come to admire. She shot him one last glance as she hurried back to medical bay to receive the injured. This colony transfer had been one of their more challenging.
Two crew members raced into the room and joined Tommy on the transporter platform. With the slightest nod of his head towards the officer manning the console, the room faded from view and the three men found themselves in the near darkness of the cave’s entrance. This was the first time they had been able to transport to the planet’s surface since the beginning of their intervention. Transportation had been through shuttles and the transfer pod. The team of engineers had assured him that they had secured a spot, and with the use of strategically placed emitters, a sheltered field had been generated to create a viable transport corridor. A little late for this intervention, but maybe not too late to save the lives of the children that had supposedly been abandoned just below the surface. Tommy hoped it wasn’t too late.
He blinked to adjust his vision to the black of the night as a tremor shook the ground. The air was heavy with the smell of acrid smoke from the volcanic activity. “We’d better hurry,” Tommy said to Mikah and Emran. They’d come a long way from the boys he’s first met on the ship when he’d arrived a lifetime ago. They were now part of the crew, putting their lives on the line to save others.
Mikah scanned the area and shook his head, his jaw clenched tight. “Aside from within the perimeter created by the emitters, we are still unable to scan the area.” He huffed in frustration, his dark eyes searching the area.
“Then we’d better get a move on,” Tommy said. He led the way into the dank cave, waiting until they had taken shelter before activating their lights. The inner cave branched off in several directions and the men paused, hesitating momentarily before splitting up.
“Nothing down here,” Emran shouted back to the group.
“Nothing down here,” Mikah echoed.
Tommy was about to declare his area clear when an opening close to the ground off to his left caught his attention. He steadied himself as another aftershock rippled through the cave. Dirt and debris fell from the earthen ceiling, and Tommy turned back the way he’d come, dismissing the low tunnel. The tremor intensified, and he was forced to brace himself against the wall. A terrified cry pierced the loud rumble and echoed through the noise. He let out a breath of frustration. He was going to have to go down that tight tunnel. “There’s something here!” he shouted over the fading thunder. “I think someone’s hurt!”
He only half considered the possibility that the tunnel would collapse before the crying grew louder. The sheer terror in the little voice urged him on and Tommy pulled himself to his feet into what looked like a typical family dwelling. Light came from oil-filled clay pots lying around the room haphazardly and Tommy switched his beam off. Emran stepped in behind him, his blonde hair covered in a layer of dirt. “We should leave the adults behind for this!” he spat out as he eyed the young ones.
Tommy dropped slowly to one knee before the huddled group of abandoned children. He smiled reassuringly as he spoke softly to them, knowing they couldn’t understand. Their haunted eyes focused on Tommy as tears ran streaks down their dirt covered cheeks. “Careful not to scare them,” he said in a low voice to the men as Mikah crouched down beside him. Movement off to the right drew Tommy’s gaze and he spotted a small child trying to hide under a pile of woven mats.
“I’ve got this,” Mikah said. He pulled out a tiny digipad and made a few guttural sounds that caught the children’s attention.
Tommy’s skin began to crawl a second before the rumbling started again. “Take cover!” he shouted. A violent tremor spread underfoot, knocking the transfer crew to the ground. “Grab the kids and get out of here.” Tommy struggled to scoop up the boy half-hidden under the pile of rugs and dove for cover. The fierce shaking raged on, and the frail child awkwardly latched onto Tommy’s uniform, still hidden under a rug. The pair crammed themselves into a tiny niche in the cold, hard wall for safety.
The ceiling gave out with a thunderous crash, spilling rocks and debris across the area they’d occupied seconds before. Tommy shifted the best he could to shelter the child clutched to his chest. They huddled together in their narrow space, barely large enough to protect them from the worst of it. The rumbling grew louder and darkness engulfed them, leaving them with an eerie silence that now filled the obscurity.
Tommy’s lungs screamed through a fit of coughing as he choked on the dust filled air. The last of the rocks slid and fell, pelting his exposed shoulder and leg, and he gritted his teeth. The pounding of his heart grew in his ears, filling the silence -broken only by the soft sobs from his charge. Tommy blinked and accepted that they were in absolute darkness. The boy whimpered as Tommy lifted back the mat and loosened the boy’s hold, trying to readjust his position. “Shh, it’s OK, you’re OK. Let’s see what we’re dealing with.” He slid his hand across the upper part of his uniform sleeve to activate the light.
His gut tightened as he surveyed the area. Rocks of every size filled what had been the family’s main room, covering everything. Tommy could not imagine how they were going to get out of the cave before their oxygen ran out. “I hope they find us soon,” he said. His thoughts turned grim as he wondered if the others had made it out, or if the pod even knew of their situation to double back and help.
He tried to adjust his posture and find a more comfortable position, but his charge held tight, impeding any temporary relief. Fine. It was the least of their worries right now. A stab of pain from his outstretched leg let him know he wouldn’t be going anywhere just yet. He felt the slow trickle of blood slide down his injured limb and chose to ignore it.
“Got any suggestions?” he asked the boy. Of course, not speaking the language, the boy remained silent. “I didn’t think so. We’ll just sit tight until they dig us out.” He hoped they’d still be alive by then.
Drawing in a desperate breath, Tommy shot up straight, unsure of where he was. A hand came down on his shoulder and the familiar scent of medical bay flooded his lungs. “Where’s the boy?”
“Shh!” Jayden stepped through the particle curtain cradling the young boy in her arms. “He finally fell asleep, keep it down.” She frowned, her green eyes giving Tommy a once over. “Nap time is over for you. Your leg is as good as new, so you can free up the diagnostic bed you’re using.”
Tommy’s mouth quirked into a smile at her abrupt tone. “Yes, Ma’am.” He swung his legs over the edge of the glass-like exam table and hopped down, surprised by the sharp pang that shot up his limb. “You call this good as new? Are you sure you fixed it?”
“If you need something for the pain, let Tounga know.” She eased her charge down onto the table and focused on the beam of colored light as it moved down the length of the table, scanning the child. A holographic image of the child’s body appeared over the podium at the foot of the bed and Tommy stared at it for a moment before stepping out of the particle curtain that separated them from the rest of medical bay. Jayden had enough to deal with.
“Thomas,” his father called out from Mathezar’s office. The commander stood to greet his son as the chief medical officer finished up his report. “That was a close one.”
Tommy liked how understated his father’s comment was. “How many did we lose?” His gut tightened at the thought of losing any of the children, but how could it be otherwise? Only this group of children had remained in the caves when the worst of the tremors hit. The unwanted ones…abandoned by their own people in some form of barbaric sacrifice and left behind to die without a second thought.
Mathezar grinned, his grey eyes bright. “None. We got every last one of them out alive. Two were in critical condition, but they’ve been stabilized and are already showing signs of improvement. We’re very optimistic but it doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods with them.” He shot the commander a pointed glance.
Tommy frowned and turned to his father for clarification. “I don’t understand.”
The commander tugged on his uniform top. “The colonists refuse to take the children back. The say they had been offered to their gods as a sacrifice to save their home, and refuse to reclaim them, afraid the seismic activity will start up again.”
Clenching his jaw, Tommy drew in a controlled breath. “There won’t be any seismic activity on the new colony. If only we could tell them they are being moved to another planet.” He exhaled sharply. From what he’d of them during their intervention, this was a stubborn lot that believed in curses and superstitions.
“We’ll figure something out,” the doctor said. “What’s important is that the children are fine.”
Tommy nodded. He brought his amethyst eyes up to meet his father’s. “I should get to the briefing room for a status report. My department heads are waiting.”
The commander nodded for Tommy to lead the way. “I was headed there myself.”
“Were any of the crew members injured?” Tommy walked alongside his father, an older version of himself. The ice-blue corridors of the Phoenix were abuzz as they made final preparations for the transfer of the inhabitants. Tommy felt the energy as everyone scrambled with final preparations.
“None,” his father answered. “You were the only one. The children, however, did not fare as well.” He waved his hand. “That is all behind them now. We will ensure their safety on the new colony.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it.” Tommy paused mid-stride to work out a kink in his leg, before catching his father’s eyes. “I want to be there when they notice that they now have two moons.”
The commander paused by the briefing room door. “We are working on a tale that will be added to their folklore.”
Tommy nodded. “They do have some wild beliefs. I wonder if you could tell him their god causing the tremors had been imprisoned in the new moon, and as long as they both remained visible, they knew they would be spared the violent tremors and volcanic activity.” He thought about the crazy stories he’d been told by the survey team, and how these people interpreted everything, taking nothing at face value. This way of thinking made things quite complicated since straight talk was anything but.
His father tugged on his uniform tunic and straightened. Not that he slouched, not even the slightest, but Tommy had noticed many tiny details concerning his father over the years as he’d lived and now worked alongside this great man. A pang of sadness hit when he thought of what was yet to come.
The commander laid a hand on Tommy’s shoulder. “I am not gone yet,” he said. “You are letting your thoughts and emotions get ahead of yourself.”
A smile twisted the corner of Tommy’s mouth. How many times had he heard that from his father? “It just won’t be the same.”
He gave Tommy’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze. “It will be better.” He nodded towards the door. “Come.”
The room fell silent when the two men stepped into it. “Status report,” Tommy addressed the young ensign who sat at the head of the table. Matheson had recently transferred to the Phoenix after completing his specific training. This was the first time Tommy had spoken to him since his arrival, an indication of just how out of control this transfer has been.
Matheson stood and cleared his throat. “We have several proposals for the new folktales to justify the additional moon, as well as one for the difference in the length of their seasons.” The blond ensign shifted nervously, his brown eyes avoiding contact with the others as he spoke.
Tommy remembered his first time heading up a mission and sympathized with him. “Don’t forget that their main food source will not be available on this planet, and that they will likely have to be introduced to fishing.” He pulled his digipad from his lower pant-leg pocket. “Alpha team has prepared the gardens and reintroduced some of their habitual tubers and vegetation.”
“For the whole planet?” Matheson asked, wide-eyed.
“No,” the commander answered. He moved to take a seat and motioned for Tommy and Matheson to do the same. “The botany team has had great success in introducing vegetation in and around the new colony. With time, the plants will spread themselves across the area.”
Tommy nodded. “We have to keep in mind that this is not the home they have known. Many things will differ, and some will be hard to explain. It is important to make sure the ideas placed in the people’s minds are as complete as possible to cover all bases. We cannot repeat the procedure, so we can’t afford to get it wrong.” He shifted, adjusting the position of his leg.
Matheson nodded and looked down at his digipad. “What if we’re wrong?”
“Explain,” the commander prompted.
“Well, Sir.” Matheson coughed and fidgeted, clamping his hands tightly behind his back. “These are lives we’re dealing with. What if moving them proves more disastrous?”
Tommy shook his head. “The seismic and volcanic activity on their planet would have eliminated almost all life forms. The planet has become so unstable that there is no guarantee it will survive. We’re giving them a second chance. We don’t move entire populations on a whim.” Tommy’s fatigue from recent events and endless nights was quickly turning to irritation.
Matheson looked down. “It just seems as though they are giving up so much in this transfer.”
“They would be giving up much more when their planet becomes uninhabitable,” the commander said. “An unpleasant yet unavoidable reality.” The commander gave Matheson a once over. “I suggest you familiarize yourself with the history of our missions so that you may better understand our role.”
Matheson stiffened. “Yes, Sir.”
Tommy wondered what kind of specific training their new crewmember had undergone. He’d have to ask his father if he could have access to Matheson’s background files. Something didn’t seem right. There was green, and then there was clueless.
Tommy’s eyes made contact with each of the officers seated around the large black table. “Does anyone have anything to add?”
“Are you sure Matheson is supposed to be with us?” Tommy asked his father as they made their way towards the quarters they’d shared since Tommy’s arrival ten years before. The door slid open and they entered to find that the dining crew had already laid out their end-of-day meal. The enticing aroma of roasted vegetables and exotic spices made Tommy’s mouth water. He smiled to himself. “Comfort food. Thank you, Father.”
His father headed to the bathroom. “Who said it was for you, Thomas?”
Tommy laughed and followed his father to wash his hands. He paused. “How many other crew cabins have water as a sanitation option?” he asked. He’d never thought to enquire before, but it seemed as though with the inevitable loss of his father, many once irrelevant details had caught his mind.
His father tilted his head. “It is an option open to all, though I believe only seven crewmembers use water.” He dried his hands and held out the towel for Tommy.
“The seven who had been stranded on Earth?” Tommy ventured.
“Earth is not the only planet to use water for hygiene, Thomas.” His father moved to uncover the food and dish up their meal.
Tommy grimaced as he took a seat. “I was simply referring to those particular crewmembers since the number corresponded.” He paused to give thanks for his meal, and filled his bowl. He took a mouthful of the thick vegetable stew and exhaled in satisfaction at the robust flavor. He would never tire of this recipe.
“Ah, well, then I suppose it could have been, but no. They are not the seven crewmembers.” He held up a finger. “Although Mathezar and Jayden do, on occasion, use water.” He turned his attention to his meal and they continued to eat in silence for a few bites.
“How did Matheson get selected to be part of a Crisis Intervention Crew?” Tommy asked. He scraped the last bite of stew from his bowl, pushed the plate back, turned towards his father and waited.
Amusement lit his father’s eyes.
“I don’t see anything funny in my question, Father.” Tommy pressed his lips together. The ache in his leg was joined by his shoulder and it did nothing to help his patience.
“He had an impressive screening and did remarkably well on his specific training, however he has never been on a Crisis Intervention Vessel, nor has he had any time observing transfers or any other function directly related to our purpose.” His father rose in his typical fluid motion, and cleared the plates from the table, leaving only the covered dessert platter. He set the plates into the replicator alcove in the wall and sent them on their way…molecularly, at least. He turned back to his son. “Would you care for some hot chocolate?”
Tommy shrugged. “It depends on what dessert is.”
His father grinned, pointing to the covered dish.
The aroma of warm apple pie wafted up to great Tommy, and he closed his eyes. Chei-Szu had outdone himself. “Wait, did these apples come from the tree in the arboretum?”
His father nodded.
The sound of the door chime cut him off before he could answer. “Come,” he called out and the door opened to reveal the Doctor and his daughter, Jayden.
Tommy’s heart skipped a beat at the sight of her and she smiled in response to his reaction. He knew she was pleased. He could feel it.
“Dthau-Mahsz,” the doctor started. “If I had known you were not finished end-of-day meal, I would have waited before coming over.” The doctor motioned to his daughter. “Come, Jayden.”
She planted her feet firmly, a balled fist on her hip, and faced her father. “And miss the first apple pie?”
Tommy stifled a laugh.
“Yes,” the commander interjected. “Do join us, for I fear we might over-indulge.” He waved them over and set out two more plates.
Conversation around the table continued even after all of the pie had been eaten. Tommy felt a pang of sorrow from Jayden and he drew his attention away from what his father was saying. He frowned, reaching out to squeeze her hand. “What’s wrong?” he leaned closer to ask her in a hushed voice.
She forced a smile, and he could see her eyes begin to glisten. “I was just thinking about Two-Feathers, and how much I miss the farm.”
Tommy gave her a lopsided grin. He felt a little guilty at not having shared the news, but too much had gone on and it had somehow slipped his mind.
“You haven’t told her?” his father asked.
“Did something happen to Two-Feathers?” Jayden stood abruptly.
Tommy shook his head and reached out for her hand again. “He’s fine.” He gently tugged her back to her seat.
“How much longer before we arrive?” the doctor asked, standing to clear the table.
“Another seven hours. We will complete our evaluation and return to rendez-vous with the transfer pod after the transfer.” He stood and tugged on his uniform tunic. “I suggest we all get some rest before we arrive.”
Jayden flashed Tommy a glare that could send the toughest of men cowering.
“Don’t be angry with him, Jayden,” the doctor said. “There –”
“There was nothing so important going on that you couldn’t at least mention that we were headed back to Earth.” The hurt in her eyes caught Tommy off guard.
“I only found out as I was leaving to go planet-side. After that, chaos broke out, and well, here we are,” Tommy said. “I’m sorry.”
“How long are we staying?” Jayden asked the commander, ignoring Tommy.
“That will depend on the initial report, though not more than five or six days.” The commander said. “Now I suggest we call it a night.”
“Fine,” Jayden said with a huff. “But I still would’ve liked to have known.
She shot her father a glance. “You could have told me, too.”
“Yes,” the doctor said. “But getting angry will not change what is. I assume you will want to be replaced in medical bay so that you can spend a day or two planet-side?”
“A day or two?” Jayden sputtered.
“Good night, Doctor,” the commander said. “Good night, Jayden.”
Tommy knew she wouldn’t stop unless someone nipped her rant in the bud. Mathezar nodded to his daughter and she clamped her mouth shut. Tommy dared not react. He watched as the two of them left, offering a slight smile in Jayden’s direction.
Dthau-Mahsz turned to his son. “If you are planning to bond with her, I suggest you not forget to share such things.”
“Hmm, won’t happen again.” Tommy stretched and stifled a yawn. “Besides, she always seems to know everything that’s going on before we ever tell her. Guess she was kept too busy this time. Though you must admit, her outbursts are not as intense as they once were.”
“Maybe, but they are still the worst of any of my –of your crewmembers.” He corrected himself.
Tommy thought about that for a second, pushing his mixed emotions out of the way. He remembered Fardoc, a botanist with ulterior motives that had come aboard several years ago. The horrible man wanted the rare amethyst eyes both Tommy and his father had. Fortunately, Fardoc had been apprehended and removed from the ship before anyone had been seriously injured. He decided not to go there, so he changed the subject.
“Have you had a chance to get in touch with Two-Feathers, Father?” Tommy missed his old friend dearly. He tried to go back to Earth every year to spend some time with him, but the sparse visits and fleeting moments spent there were never enough.
“Not this time,” his father said, “though you will find that our friend somehow always knows of our unannounced arrivals.”
Tommy smiled, a fondness for Two-Feathers fueling his grin. “You’re right. He did always know, and even without a head’s up from Grey Wolf.” He was thrilled to go back to the place where he grew up with his mother, even if it was only for a brief stay.
“We should get some rest,” his father said. “I am quite sure you will want to go planet-side as soon as we have established orbit.” He turned and made his way across the living room area and paused outside his bedroom door. “Good night, Thomas.”
“Good night, Father.” Tommy headed towards his own room and opened his closet. He slid his hand along the edge of the door frame, making his clean uniforms slide out of sight and bringing his ‘Earth’ clothes into view. He pulled out a t-shirt and pair of shorts, which he decided to wear to sleep. They somehow still smelled of home, he realised, as he pulled the shirt over his head and inhaled deeply. He wondered if he could catch up with some of his friends, though with such a short visit, he might as well spend the time with the old shaman. He smiled to himself as he settled in bed, weariness weighing heavily on him. “What a day…” he muttered as he surrendered to the comfort of sleep.