Untitled SF/Fantasy Work

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A storm was raging under the sea. Clouds of dark sand lashed about under the dusky glow – even near noon, the crew had to bring lanterns to travel this deep – as stinging thermals, reeking faintly of sulphur, raced across the ocean floor. Precious little life ventured into the badlands of Lagash, and what few creatures were left after mining started – mostly slugs and starfish in this barren terrain – slunk into crevices for shelter.

“Move!” – roared a distant voice, muffled by the current. “You’re not paid to dawdle!”

From a fissure in the ground, which had been widened to about three yards across for the ore bowls to move in and out of what was known as Site Eleven, emerged a gaunt figure. Its rubbery, mottled-gray skin was covered by drab peasant’s garbs – a threaded greenish-brown shirt, a pair of loose leather trousers, and a thin kelpen scarf wrapped around the lower half of its face, topped by a pair of large, bloodshot, slitted eyes. No helmet covered this poor miner’s bald and spiny head. He held a short rod topped by a sphere glowing with greenish-amber light in one webbed hand, and removed the scarf with the other, revealing a pair of nostrils and a wide mouth lined with tiny triangular teeth, framed by an angular jaw festooned with thin ropy strands of flesh.

As the foreman, clad in scaled skins and an iron helmet, swam down through the clouds, cutting his way across the streams with his wide and powerful webbed feet, he saw the workman and turned to face him. “What’s wrong with the lot of you?”, he bellowed. “It’s been almost a turn o’ the clock since I’ve seen anything come outta there!”

“It’s something we hit, master,” the crewman shouted. “We’ve been trying to clean it up and… best you see for yourself, sir.”

The crewmaster dove into the aperture. “It ain’t gold that you dug up, is it? You worms think you gonna sneak gold under my chin, you got something else coming!” He weaved through the tunnels, guided more by the faint rumble of discussion coming from below than by the trail marked by the lanterns stuck to the cave wall.

“…should just bury it right back and leave it well alone,” a voice floated up. “You’re a dolt,” said another, “we’ll go home a rich bunch o’ bastards, mark my words!” A third cut in: “Nah, he’s right, smells like trouble to…”

“What are you barnacles blabbing about like a gaggle of old wives?” – the foreman burst into the discussion. The miners were in a chamber along the newest shaft, circled around a nook in a wall, their tools fallen to the ground far below. The lanterns pressed together close to their object of attention looked like a shimmering sun on a rippling surface.

“We was about to call you down here, master, just wanted to make sure–” one of the workers started, before his boss shoved him aside and pushed his way into the circle. “What you got here, worms?” – the foreman asked.

Their response was just to swim away, letting him have a clear view of the niche. The wall had a hole about four feet across, and embedded a foot or so into the rock was a smooth metal surface. It was inlaid with perfectly straight lines, and a foot-wide depressed metal square was set above a series of intricate etched patterns.

“We put that cover right back on, master,” a crewman said almost pleadingly. “It was giving us the willies. I say we leave it well alone and pretend nobody saw nothing.”

“Silence!” The foreman struggled with the square lid. He could feel it coming loose, but it had no handholds. “Gimme something to pry it out!” He swam down to the ground, grumbling, to pick up a wedge as his crew floated about mouthing half-formed excuses.

He finally tore out the thick metal cover. As it clattered down, he knocked into the smooth, hard surface under it. “I’ll be damned,” he said, “a plate under a plate. This some worm’s idea of a joke?”

“Master…” One of the miners spoke in a thin voice. “Look again. Into the plate.”

“What do you mean, into the…” He raised his lantern, and caught a glimpse of it. The light seeped into the hard surface, broken up, as if into a crystal, only clearer… and this material had something set deep into it.

The foreman bolted away reflexively, mouth agape. He looked around at his underlings, who silently nodded. He swam back and pressed both his face and his lantern into the crystal. The shape inside was unmistakable. He had seen it before, in carvings and statues – there was a large one, supposedly life-sized, in the children’s center he was raised in. This one was a thin, slumped figure, much different from the triumphant pose he recalled from memory… but there was no doubt that it was one of them. One of the ancients.

A human.


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(Note: This is a story written under the Machine of Death premise – a collection of stories written by several authors that somehow involve the existence of a machine that predicts how (but not necessarily when) its user will die. This story, STOCK MARKET, was submitted for the second Machine of Death volume, but didn’t make it into the final cut, so I’m making it available to the public here. If you’re interested in this story or its premise, please visit the Machine of Death website for more information and FREE access to the first collection of short stories, an audiobook podcast, and other cool related resources.)


by Fernando H. F. Sacchetto – July 1st, 2011


“Chambers and Compton, come in here for a moment.”

It was always a bad sign when Foster called us into his office like that. He was a rather to-the-point kind of guy, who usually preferred to walk up to your desk and lay it on you right away. When the talk was inside his office, either he was going to chew you out, or the case was particularly sensitive – which I always figured was the worse of the two. This time, it was the latter.

“What did we do this time?” Compton asked, only half joking.

“It’s not what you did, it’s what you’re gonna do, which is make pretty damn sure you know where you’re stepping with this one.” There was a fat case folder on his desk, which he turned our way. “Just in from the Department of the Treasury. The name’s W&M, for Worthington & Masters. Business consulting, financial market analysis, insurance, I don’t know what the hell else. Business never really been my thing. Problem is, they and their clients have been doing some really dodgy trading on the stock market, mostly by knowing stuff before anyone else had a right to. You know, buying just before the big merger that drives the stocks up, selling when the bad news hasn’t gotten out to the public yet, and so on. They’re calling it insider trading, of course. Have a look for yourselves.”


The Guy Who Knew It All

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The Guy Who Knew It All

by Fernando H. F. Sacchetto – jan. 2006

“Hey baby, did ya know I’m omniscient?”

This was of course a rhetorical question. Of course he knew that she didn’t know it, being omniscient.

“You’re what?”

He also knew that she didn’t know what that word even meant, and decided to use it anyway. Thought it’d cause a better impression.

“Omniscient. Means I know everything.”

“Ooookay… that’s a new one.” She giggled. “Then tell me, smart guy, what am I thinking right now?”

That one was easy. “You’re thinking I’m crazy.”

“Well DUH! That’s obvious!”

“Well ask me something harder then!”

“Ooookay…” She giggled again, partly because the alcohol was getting to her head. This, he not only knew, but was also counting on. “What color panties am I wearing right now?”


The First Story

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The First Story

by Fernando Sacchetto – dec. 2009

Once upon a time, there was a peasant boy who loved to play. While he was very poor, such that he often had to go to bed hungry, he was rarely without a smile, for his life was never devoid of wonder and magic. Nobody could tell from looking at him, as he looked in all ways like simply one more peasant boy in a dreary forgotten down, living a dreary and soon-to-be forgotten life. However, when he played – which he did in every waking moment of his life, as much as he could anyway – he lived a thousand different and fantastic lives. This time he was a bold knight, fighting against monsters so strange and fearsome that the wisest sages could scarcely find words to describe them; that time, he was an escaped slave, trudging through dank sewers as he evaded the tricks of his wicked sorcerer master, contriving plans to bring about his downfall and claim his remote frozen kingdom. His little head had more stories in it than the greatest of libraries, each more amazing than the last – and, when he finally tired enough to lay down and sleep, they came to life.

One cool spring night, the boy dreamt of a king. This king and the peasant boy were one and the same, although he could never have suspected that, having been a powerful and respected king all his many years, and a young high-born prince before that, but never a peasant boy. The king in the boy’s dream led a life of glory and greatness, for his kingdom extended in all directions as far as a horse could ride, and was filled with people who had nothing but deep love and respect for their sovereign. He lived in a vast and beautiful castle, where he sat on his high throne, dispensing justice, pronouncing edicts, laying down the law, and deciding on war and peace, all with the most hallowed wisdom. He would also go out hunting gorgeous beasts with his trusted retainers, and hold memorable feasts for a shining court, where the most delectable foods and drinks in the world were served, and the most enchanting music played. Yet, despite all this, deep inside, the king was troubled.


The Man from Nantucket

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The Man from Nantucket

by Fernando H. F. Sacchetto – sep. 2008

There are those days when you’re so pissed off – not for any particular reason, that’s hardly necessary, just pissed off – that you don’t have any business getting out of bed. You know the deal – you look like you’re always chewing down a sour lemon laced with glass, you don’t speak as much as snarl, everything you hear is an insult, everyone and everything – even your damn toaster – seems out to get you, and even cashing in a lotto jackpot feels like torture. That was one of those days – not for me, but for God, from the look of the shitty weather. Wind, rain, the sort that annoys you rather than get you wet, sky of a color that said “piss off”, the works.

A guy – who was probably wiser than all those theology doctors and priests – once said that the difference between the angry, vengeful, smite-happy God of the Old Testament and His more chilled-out, understanding, “just love thy neighbor, okay” self in the New Testament was that He got laid in the meantime. Well, it was one of those days when it sounded like He could use another round. Not me, though – rare as it may be these days, my mood couldn’t be further from the weather’s. And yes, a girl had something to do with it. But don’t they always?

This may sound awfully cliché – probably because it is obvious, in this sort of situation – but Corinne was the sweetest thing ever. I couldn’t help seeing her everywhere I looked. Yes, there was some sex involved, of course. Call me a pig, but it’s simply the truth – nothing makes a man care more about a girl than when she makes him come, and hard. And Corinne was kind enough to give me that opportunity, at a time when I sorely needed that release. But I’m getting ahead of myself – let me start over, from the beginning.


Sacrifices (first layer)

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(Note: This story was written in two layers. The second layer retells the story with a deeper and more complete viewpoint, and is meant to be read after the first. It will be posted in the future; if you wish to read it sooner, please leave a comment or otherwise contact the author.)


(first layer)

by Fernando Sacchetto – mar. 2007

Oh. My. Fucking. God.”

Zaminsky was seasoned, the most experienced one in the medical field and one of the oldest people around, but that obviously wasn’t enough to prepare him for that sight. He turned away, retching slightly. “How… how come?”

We, uh… still don’t know.” Mihara strived to find the composure to say anything at all, as he pulled the bloodied sheet off the body. She was mostly intact from the neck down, but the head that Zaminsky had uncovered was barely recognizable as a human body part. It would be impossible to identify the mess as Karen Higgsen if the colony wasn’t small enough for everyone to immediately know who was missing. Fragments of bone, tooth and eye could be seen amid the pool of gore and blood that formed in the caved-in head, crowned by blood-drenched blonde hair. “I guess there’s going to be a security inquest, and…”

No, I mean… how could anyone… you know.” Vague gestures made up for the insufficiency of words.

Yes, tell me about it. I still have a hard time believing it myself.”


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